How to get marketing jobs at record labels

I write about music marketing via my weekly newsletter, Deep Cuts [Subscribe]. Get daily tips on Instagram @deepcuts.co.

The future economy is based on innovation where ideas rule and human capital (and therefore talent) fuels it. With new ideas comes demand for marketing, sales and design — a perfect trifecta for music marketing opportunities.

A career in music marketing will take 6 paths:

  1. Work at a tech company coaching artists how to better and more creatively use their product, i.e.: Facebook/Instagram, YouTube, WeTransfer, or Shazam
  2. Work on the artist’s side at a label, management firm, distributor or agency to market their recordings, tours and other ventures.
  3. Work at a brand or their agency in a partnerships role configuring deals for artists to market their product i.e.: Red Bull, Levis, Nike, or Bacardi
  4. Join a retailer to and work as an artist relations, campaign manager or consumer marketer i.e.: Spotify, Apple, and Amazon
  5. Work at a content publisher, radio station or media network identifying suitable artists for their audience and coming up with content opportunities i.e.: VICE, Complex or Conde Nast
  6. Market events and experiences for a promoter or venue.

I’ve done #2, 3, 5 and 6 but will only talk about label marketers (#2).

Regardless of the oodles of BS spoken about labels, I know no other job that offers so much variety in artist marketing campaigns especially now where Spotify/Apple etc. has created a pipeline of artist talent so great that rosters are getting bigger, more music is being released as different shaped projects requiring more marketing work.

Within label marketing, I see 4 main disciplines and their hallmarks of greatness.

If you’re interested in getting to the top of these areas then read on for career advice from some of the most creative people already there that i know.

CREATIVE

  • Exquisite taste
  • Large rolodex of directors, graphic designers, photographers, web designers, and animators willing to do favors for you
  • Respect that data to better lands an idea, not kills the magic
  • Willing to share or even forgo credit to the artist
  • A visual thinker

The heart of every creative decisions starts with the artist — take the time to know, understand & befriend them.

This will ensure creative decisions are genuine & true to the artist’s aesthetic.

Michelle An, Head of Creative @ Interscope, Geffen, A&M Records

Relationships are the most important thing. Meet people with similar aspirations. Help as much as you can. Remember, you will grow with them your entire career.

Jake Udell, Co-Founder TH3RD BRAIN

Don’t work with dicks

  1. Never work with artists who don’t work as hard as you do
  2. Never work with someone you don’t respect

Kerry Harvey-Piper, Owner of Red Grape Music

STRATEGIST

  • Obsessive curiosity in people, artists and marketing
  • Willing to set high standards
  • Thrives in budgets, spreadsheets, and decks
  • Energy to go out most nights to shows, other artists shows, mixers
  • Gets the best out of every department

Be an asset to someone else especially those who help you achieve your goals. It’s the best feeling when you can return a favor, paving the way for bigger + better collaborations.

Emily Williams, Sr. Director Digital Marketing @ Downtown Records

Work outside the music industry to develop a clear skill-set. If you want to be a [music] marketer… work at a company with premier consumer marketing like Nike, Coke, Red Bull, Apple, HBO, Disney. Or premier agency like W+K, Deutsch. More experiences outside the music industry makes you stand out & more valuable!

Tony Lashley, Strategy & Planning @ Spotify

Don’t underestimate the importance of taking time to reset and restore. The culture we’re a part of tends to glorify “no days off”, “hustle while others sleep”, which can be extremely stressful and create unhealthy expectations for self. The reality is you won’t be able to do the job if you’re not in good health. Taking care of yourself will also help you perform better at your job. Prioritize your mental and physical well-being and never take it for granted.

Nur Ozdamar, Former VP Strategy & Brand Partnerships @ Universal Music Group & Brands

ANALYST

  • Keen knowledge of patterns, nuances, and people
  • Intellectual honesty in reporting findings
  • Sympathetic to artists who many are weirded out by data marrying artistry
  • Report fast, succinct and early insights
  • Understand how money is spent and made

A/B test your own process. We’re used to running different copy, creatives, targeting in order to determine the best set of performance, so why not apply the same mentality to your marketing process. For example: Since I work with a ton of Hip Hop music videos, Ad Words tends to disapprove campaigns regularly. Although I’ve figured out a way around out — when I was creating campaigns daily, I realized that in order to save time, it’s best to set up campaigns with only a single ad set and waiting for a campaign to get approved before moving forward.

Moody Jones, Director of Marketing @ EMPIRE — Distribution

Always think long-term, don’t be afraid to say no. Regardless of your role, there will be pressure to spend time & energy doing things that are either inconsequential or detrimental to achieving long-term goals for an artist, project, or even your career. You will be asked to compromise in order to “be a team player” or achieve a short-term win. If the opportunity in question doesn’t tangibly accrue towards your goal, trust your gut and pass on it.

Doug McVehil, Brand Partnerships, Experiences & Integrations @ Amazon

Ignore any doom and gloom rhetoric, it’s the most exciting time to be involved. There are fewer rules than ever so focus on the now and what’s ahead. Let your staunch passion & vision guide you, but be humble.

Anthony Zaccaria, Director Bolster Music

SOCIAL/CONTENT

  • Keep a tidy home. Many retail gatekeepers take social following over what the music actually sounds like when supporting artists so make sure your profiles sing
  • Technical prowess in paid media
  • Knows that as the net grows it must be tightened and manages communities accordingly
  • Genuine interest in platform updates
  • A detailed, fast worker

Saying “I have passion for music” doesn’t really mean anything. I started a blog while at uni (woefully written and thankfully no longer searchable online) but it was proof I cared about music. Whether you run a club night, do a radio show, podcast or even just make public playlists on the internet, putting your name to something is really valuable!

Ed Sholl, Global Label Manager @ Future Classic

Introduce yourself to everyone you meet, from the door person at gigs to the headlining bands’ merch seller and so on, be friendly and make it clear who you are and what you do. If people have good interactions with you and are aware of your skillset, it can help you get more opportunities .

Hayley Rosenblum, Artist Manager & Social Strategist @ Amanda Palmer/8ft Records

We live in the golden age of information — use it further your career. My only regret is not picking up design & video skills. As a marketer, it helps to master them especially now where content is constantly shared.

Devi Ekanand, VP Marketing @ Coalition Music Management & Records

Music marketing consultant. Downtown Records & Big Spaceship alumni. Writes about music, strategy and feels at Deep Cuts http://bit.ly/2yphFYx

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