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Nevona Friedman’s Partisan Records

It was a typical workday for Nevona Friedman.  The administrative assistant at Brooklyn indie label Partisan Records was in Austin, Texas for SXSW — one of the biggest events of the music year.

Nevona solved her usual wide range of problems on the road:  finding a missing drum kit.  Finding a missing drummer.  Managing 3 stages, with 10 bands a day.  Hosting 6 parties.

But nothing fazes Nevona.  She handled it all with her usual aplomb and ever-present smile.  It was all the more impressive, because Nevona had never been to Austin before.

And because she’s only a Staples High School junior.

Nevona leads a life few of her classmates imagine — or even know about.  But it’s a life she loves.  And one she seems almost destined for.

Nevona Friedman at work backstage.

Though she played a bit of trombone at Coleytown Elementary and Middle Schools, and was in the Staples jazz band, Nevona’s primary musical activity was managing local bands like Midi & the Modern Dance.  She handled promotions, booking gigs and umpteen other details for them — and she was good.

Through her work, she heard of Partisan Records.  She was fans of their bands — Deer Tick, Mountain Man, Holy Sons —  and, though just a sophomore, asked about a job.

She started last summer, and quickly proved her worth.  In a small office — only 8 people — Nevona has plenty of responsibility.  She handles press mailings, tours, merchandise and online promotions.  She listens to all demos.

She does the same for Partisan’s sister label, Knitting Factory, which specializes in African music.  In her spare time Nevona helps out with the Knitting Factory’s music venue, also in  Brooklyn.

If all that sounds like hard work, it is.  Nevona does her homework on the train to Grand Central every day right after school, then keeps going to Brooklyn.  Sometimes she’s there until 8 p.m.; sometimes (especially if there’s a show) far longer.

She loves snow days, because she gets to her job much earlier.

Beyond the satisfaction of working with artists, and helping talented bands succeed, there are tangible rewards for Nevona — like travel.  Last summer she went to Lollapalooza in Chicago.

But she had no time to be a fan. Nevona coordinated interviews, handled band logistics, and did a thousand other things.  “I can think on my feet,” she explains simply.

Back in Westport, is school a drag?  “Not really,” she says.  “I’m motivated, because I know when I graduate this will be my career.”

She has little time for a social life.  She did go to this winter’s County Assemblies formal dance, though.  “I don’t want to miss the iconic stuff,” she says.

Some teachers don’t realize how much she’s doing.  “They just think I’m a groupie,” Nevona notes.  “I don’t really tell them, ‘No, I booked that show!'”

Nevona Friedman in Austin.

She has a good group of Westport friends — and more in Brooklyn.  “People at work are another family,” Nevona says.  “They’re totally involved in my life.  They don’t treat me like a kid, but they also help with things like my resume and preparing for college.”

When Nevona took SATs, they had an office pool to predict her scores.

Ah, college.  “Most people go there, then get a job,” Nevona says.  “I’ve got one already.  In college, I’ll be able to take classes that will build on this.”

So what do her parents think of all this?

“They’re really, really supportive,” she says.  “They understand it’s what I want to do.  They know I’m driven — not goofing around.  And they know I’m well taken care of, and safe.”

It doesn’t hurt that her parents enjoy her type of music.  “They’re happy when I bring vinyl home for them,” she says.

But Nevona is not resting on her laurels.  In her spare time (!) she has founded a band management company, Centaur Next Door.

Her latest interest is music business law.  She’s learning all about licensing and streaming rights.  It’s the industry’s new frontier, and Nevona will be ready.

Recently she sent out a copyright infringement notice.  “I had to learn legalese for that,” she says.

Just another day at the office for Nevona Friedman — Partisan Records administrative assistant and high school junior.

(Curious about Partisan Records’ music?  Here’s Middle Brother’s “Me Me Me):

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