#ImAGirlBoss: Alyssa Castiglia

AGE: 24
TWITTER: @alyssacastiglia
INSTAGRAM: @alyssacastiglia

Tell us what you do!

I do A&R (Artist & Repertoire) at Island Records, home to Avicii, Fall Out Boy, Tove Lo, Shawn Mendes, Nick Jonas, and others. I mainly search for new artists to sign to the label, but I also sign artists. Once an artist is signed, an A&R will help him or her find songs to cut or writers/producers to work with, and then work with all the other departments at a label to be sure that the vision for the project is laid out correctly.

Did you go to college? If so, where?

I got a degree in Music Industry at Northeastern University in Boston.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you “grew up”?

Posh Spice. I stand by that decision.

How did you get to where you are now? Tell us your story!

I knew what I wanted to do at a very young age. I started street teaming (passing out flyers, stickers, posters) when I was 13, began interning at a local concert venue doing booking & promotion at 15, and then only applied to Northeastern University for college, because their music industry program is so good. When I got to school, I started helping out at the radio station, hosting a show, and helping do promotion for the station. I also joined the music industry club on campus, took concert photos for a younger-demographic-leaning imprint of The Boston Globe, and interned at a concert venue in Boston. Northeastern offers a co-op program, where they help you find internships — they have the highest job placement rate of any school in the country because of this. I did both of my internships at Universal Republic’s A&R department, which is how I learned how to do my job now. My internship supervisor introduced me to the now-President of Island once I graduated, and the rest is history.


Any obstacles along the way?

No journey would be complete without them! Balancing school with internships and other commitments was difficult, but I enjoy working in music, and I knew I had to immerse myself in it in order to further myself. When I started working, there was no time for training; you have to jump right in the deep end. Being a woman in a male-dominated industry also has it’s challenges, but all I can do is let my work speak for itself.

Who is your idol?

I’ve looked up to Alexandra Patsavas — the music supervisor for The OC, Gossip Girl, Grey’s Anatomy, and the Twilight movies — since I was 13. The only show of those I was really into was The OC, and it was the first time I saw indie music being prominently featured in a TV show. That show arguably broke Death Cab for Cutie. Grey’s Anatomy single-handedly broke Snow Patrol (with “Chasing Cars”) and The Fray (“How to Save a Life”).

What are three personal traits/qualities that helped you get to where you are?

Honesty. Ambition. Efficiency.

I think my honesty is a defining characteristic. I’m trustworthy, and I’ll keep the bullshit to a minimum. I’ve always known what I wanted to do, and made a game plan how to achieve it. This also requires flexibility, and knowing that dreams don’t always come true the way we pictured them. Being outgoing and charismatic can get you pretty far in life, but you have to have the substance to back it up. You could win someone over in an interview, but leave them severely disappointed if you can’t deliver. Do good work and let it speak for itself.

Where would you like to be in five years?

I try not to plan that far ahead, since I never know where the road may take me, but I know I want to help cultivate the success of artists I believe in. I try to plan short term goals, so that if any opportunities or obstacles come my way, I’m not so fixated on the long view that I can’t handle them and respond appropriately.


Define “Girl Boss” in your own words.

A Girl Boss is confident and does her own thing, no matter what other people think. She does what she wants when she wants. She doesn’t give up on her objectives unless absolutely necessary. She is trustworthy, inspiring, and charismatic – someone other people respect but also someone they want to work with.

Describe your style/fashion sense:

Studs, skulls, and floral. A friend once called me “dark & elegant,” and I took that as the highest compliment. I wear a lot of dresses, bright lipstick, and cat-eye liner. I also change my hair color every few months!

Fav clothing item/accessory right now?

A gold collar brooch with chain that has a knight’s helmet on one side, and a sword on the other. It reminds me of Game of Thrones.

What’s your can’t-live-without beauty product?

Urban Decay 24/7 eyeliner in Perversion. It’s true pitch black and stays all day!

Go-to nail color?

Black, with a matte top coat.

Sophia Amoruso’s #GIRLBOSS inspired me. What book has inspired you?

I’m going to be a nerd and say J.K. Rowling. I started reading the Harry Potter series when I was eight, and it outlined my adolescence. For a single mother to create an entire universe on the back of napkins on the train absolutely blows my mind.

No Girl Boss is perfect. What’s your vice?

Bulleit Bourbon!

Which artist/band/DJ are you really into right now?

I can’t name just one! Currently loving: alt-j, Banks, SOHN, Hozier, Kiesza, Yellow Claw, Gorgon City, Tove Lo.

What song makes you feel like a Girl Boss?

Right now, “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift. Don’t let the haters get to you, and never pretend you’re too good for great pop music.

What’s a quote that inspires/motivates you?

I have an Oscar Wilde quote tattooed on my body, the whole of which is: “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” Everyone has their own struggles and skeletons in the closet, but what sets us apart is how we move forward.

Advice to future Girl Bosses:

One of my favorite Nicki Minaj quotes is: “When I am assertive, I’m a bitch. When a man is assertive, he’s a boss.” When someone calls you a bitch, take it as a compliment. It generally means they forgot to add “boss ass” before the word “bitch.” Seriously though, so many women are afraid of being considered bitchy. Men don’t always play nice in the workplace, and neither should you! Also, make realistic short-term goals for yourself and make everything in your life about achieving that. When I wanted to get into the music industry, I made sure every activity in my life revolved around it in some way. It looks good on your resume, and helps you gain all kinds of knowledge!


Follow Alyssa’s Girl Boss journey on Twitter + Instagram!

Do YOU know a Girl Boss? Nominate her in the comments! And, HEY — if you share this article, be sure to use #ImAGirlBoss!


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