April 23, 2018


Why I Left the Music Industry for Politics

By: Hannah Cox

At 18 years old, I thought music had the ability to change the world, and there was nothing I wanted to do more. I found a university right on Music Row, lobbied my way in to the exclusive Mike Curb College of Music Business, and set about working day-in and day-out to somehow stand out from the thousands around me competing for the same jobs in a shrinking music industry.

The next eight years surpassed my wildest childhood fantasies. During college, I worked my way into a leadership capacity for the largest student organization on campus and found myself coordinating red carpets, escorting my favorite celebrities through radio interviews, attending award shows, and interning everywhere from Taylor Swift’s management to Craig Wiseman’s publishing company.

Photos: Hannah Cox

When I graduated, my hard work paid off and I actually did land a full-time, salaried job for one of the world’s largest entertainment companies, Entertainment One (eOne). I was one of a handful of people in my graduating class to actually get a job in the music industry, but somehow I found myself less than thrilled.

Somewhere, something inside of me had shifted. The entertainment world just didn’t hold the same allure that it once had for me and instead felt vapid and repetitive. I realized I couldn’t work in this industry for the rest of my life, and I began to look for other fields that would be a good fit.

I stumbled upon a part-time role with a state-based Second Amendment group that caught my attention. I’d always been interested in politics, and I am a staunch gun rights supporter, so I threw my hat in the ring and got the job.

Photo: Hannah Cox

For the next year, I poured nearly all of my spare time into my side job. I felt invigorated, and the work gave me a sense of real fulfillment. I found in politics what I had hoped to find in the music business—the ability to really change people’s lives.

I determined that my future was in politics, however, I also realized during this time that I could not work in politics just to work in politics. It was imperative to me that I work for an organization that strongly supported my free market, limited government, and individual liberty principles.

My boss at eOne deserves an immense amount of credit for the next two years of my life. He allowed me to continue working, while also giving me the flexibility I needed to build my resume and eventually transfer into politics full-time. This freedom allowed me to explore different types of roles within politics–lobbying for a mental health group, volunteering on campaigns, writing political articles, and eventually even launching my own coalition and blog.

After nearly three years, I found my (new) dream job as the outreach director for Tennessee’s premier free market think tank, the Beacon Center of Tennessee. Over the past two years, I’ve been able to help locals get rid of licensing laws that were blocking them from good jobs, build support for criminal justice reforms that are enabling Tennesseans to get their lives back on track, and pass health care policies that truly allow people to access quality care.

Photo: Hannah Cox

Politics isn’t as glamorous as the music industry. It involves a lot of work, frequent disappointments, and the necessity for a very thick skin. But knowing that the work you are doing is actually changing the world around you, and impacting people’s lives for the better, makes it all worth it.