A woman balanced into her energetic field. A woman without an ounce of doubt in herself or her purpose life. EMILY TAN is the principal of the PR and radio promotions agency that bears her name, EMILY TAN Media Relations. Entering its 29th year in business (as of June 2019) as one of the world’s premiere agencies specializing in electronic dance music (EDM), ETMR thrives.
The agency is based out of New York City with locations in Los Angeles and Las Vegas. EMILY TAN is a widely known and respected figure in the EDM music business with a client roster that includes, both past and present: ICE-T, ARMIN VAN BUUREN, ANDREW RAYEL, MARKUS SCHULZ, MaRLo, FERRY CORSTEN, CEDRIC GERVAIS, COSMIC GATE, ALY & FILA, MR. X (Afrika Islam), TOMMY LEE (of Motley Crue), MARQUEE Nightclub & Dayclub Las Vegas, MARQUEE New York, BRUSSELS AIRLINES (proud partner of TOMORROWLAND), iZotope Inc., Pioneer DJ, GIUSEPPE OTTAVIANI, DASH BERLIN, BT, GATTUSO, MARO MUSIC (Marek Walaszek), and numerous others.
OneEDM had the opportunity to speak with Ms. Tan on her career, her key to success and her reflections on the past present and future. What kinds of qualities are inherent in a professional able to survive and thrive in an industry as cutthroat as the music business? A glance at testimonials from clients and colleagues throughout the interview will offer a clue.
OneEDM: What is it about EDM or electronic dance music that made you say, “Hey, I want to be a part of that”?
EMILY TAN: I was a classically-trained pianist as a teenager. I love many genres of music. I just happened to gravitate towards electronic dance music as a career because it moves me.
You started EMILY TAN Media Relations in February 1990 while you were working a second career in the corporate world. Have you ever faced a wall that you thought you wouldn’t be able to climb?
I’m sure I did, but I just went around it. There are no barriers except the ones we create in our minds.
TOMMY LEE (Motley Crue) said: “Emily Tan was my publicist (for my DJ project with Aero) and she works really hard!!! We’re still good friends to this day. Emily’s got a sick drive and energy and she just won’t quit! She’s great to have around!”
Can you share with us one of your proudest career moments?
The highs are too numerous to mention and they happen constantly. It’s not about the highs. It’s about the lows and knowing that you can get through them. I will always get through them.
You have a strong sense of doing things on your own. Do you ever feel that you push yourself too hard?
No. I’m very attuned to my body and I take very good care of my health. I feel better now than I ever have! I don’t drink alcohol anymore, not a single drop. Never ever smoked. No drugs. No prescription drugs. I eat a healthy, organic diet rich in fresh fruits and veggies. I exercise daily, even while traveling. I do yoga daily. I get enough sleep. I push myself hard, but I also pamper myself. I make sure to nourish my soul. I surround myself with positive energy and positive people. I’m allergic to drama and to people who seek drama.
ARMIN VAN BUUREN said: “Emily Tan is extremely passionate about life and she gives total dedication to her work. Emily’s always so full of positive energy! It’s a joy having her on my team. She’s like a lion when she’s fighting for you. Most importantly, Emily remains a close friend.”
Where does that palpable drive you have for success come from? Did you have a past that molded you into such an efficient person?
I’ve been told that I have a “very strong life-force,” that I’m “full of positive energy” and words to that effect. I detest mediocrity and I strive to do whatever it is I’m doing to the best of my ability. I’m very competitive by nature, but mostly I’m competing against myself.
Would you say pressure forces you to perform at your best?
Pressure? You can look at something as being “pressure,” or just “motivation.” When I’m under pressure, I just get super focused and calm. Focused like a laser.
You’ve represented some of the biggest celebrities on earth, including currently, the rap legend and pop-culture icon, ICE-T. Do you have favorite clients?
Each client is special in his or her own way, and of course, I have my favorites. They know who they are!
ICE-T said on SiriusXM: “We got Emily Tan rollin’ with us, you know, number-one PR person in all of music. So she’s gettin’ us all the press, so we’re just gonna see what [EBE Nation] does. I try to work towards greatness.”
What’s something you never forget?
It takes humility to make it in this business. That is rare to find, not just in this industry but also in this world. What do people need from themselves and each other to posses that humbleness? What is lacking in people?
It’s not for me to judge other people. Humility comes from life experience. I see so many 20-somethings who are more naïve than fearless. Fearlessness can often be the result of ignorance. It takes life and actually living — and getting knocked on your ass a few times, hard — to learn a better way. To build resilience. I think it’s when we embrace our humanity that we become truly strong. Empathy is a sign of inner strength.
What’s the secret to your success?
IAN HOWFIELD (Executive Producer, “Vegas Vibe,” NBC-TV Las Vegas affiliate, KSNV-TV) said: “Emily [Tan] is ‘bar none’ the best EDM publicist I have ever had the pleasure of dealing with. I’m not a fan of the saying’they gave 100%’ because that’s just plain impossible, but Emily comes close. Her dedication, attention to detail, commitment and the ‘client comes first above all else’ mentality that she delivers is legendary. Our work with Emily can extend into many days in a row and she has relentless commitment and energy on the last day for her clients as she did on the first day. Simply amazing! She actually sets the bar too high! Emily no doubt is the Queen of EDM!”
Do you think the trick to taking care of your clients so well is to put yourself in their shoes?
I absolutely empathize with my clients because I’m beside them so often for physically grueling moments, like being on-the-road performing and traveling. Obviously, they work harder than I do! I’m not the one onstage having to perform in front of 100,000 people on zero sleep and looking enthusiastic about it. Most people have no concept of how much touring can rob from your health and emotional well-being, but all touring artists and their teams know this. The artist is the creator that the crowds are paying to come to see; I just try to do my part in supporting the artist and his/her endeavors to the best of my ability
Your work ethic is top notch! The recommendations you have received for your skills are pure gold and everyone thanks you. Do you ever look in the mirror and say, “Thank you,” to yourself?
I don’t think I’ve ever looked myself in the mirror and thought,“Thank you.” But I definitely look in the mirror and think to myself, “C’mon! Let’s go.”
PATRICK O’BRIEN, (Digital Director, FOX-TV Los Angeles affiliate KTTV-TV) said: “If you are lucky enough to work with Emily [Tan], she will change the way you feel about public relations forever. She was able to give our TV station incredible access needed to make a great video piece for our broadcast and online. The segment was one of the most viewed and shared stories so far this year and one that can carry our station’s initiatives in covering the positive aspect of the EDM scene. I was thrilled to see her again shortly after Armin’s tour when we covered Markus Schulz in Hollywood. Her communication and follow-up are top-notch professional. I want more! MORE!!! Thank you Emily–see you next time you’re in LA.”
How do you handle fear?
Inspiring, devoted, dependable, high-principled are some the many words to best describe Emily Tan. The effort she puts in her work is a sure sign to what she delivers in the end. A+ across the board from all of her clients and colleagues is what to be expected from such a highly respected and sought after media agent.