Musicians are the face of the music industry, but behind them stands an army of professionals that perform an incredible breadth of roles behind-the-scenes.
In a recent panel, a group of successful alumni from AMATA spoke to current music students, shedding light on opportunities in the industry and how they can get involved.
Three of the panel were from Island Records, one of Falmouth University’s industry partners. Joe Pym, Streaming & Commerce Manager, and Matt Howes, A&R Coordinator, both graduated from BA(Hons) Popular Music in 2014. Florence Bird, the latest recipient of the Island Records graduate internship and current Audio Visual Intern, graduated from BA(Hons) Creative Music Technology in 2018.
They were joined by Marcus Knight, Product & Marketing Manager at Cooking Vinyl, an independent record label, and Dominic McKeirnan, Visual Creative Coordinator at Warner Brothers Records. Marcus graduated in 2011 from the BA(Hons) Music Composition course (now known as BA(Hons) Music). Dominic graduated in 2016 from BA(Hons) Popular Music.
But what do all of these titles actually mean? What is it that they actually do?
Joe, Island’s Streaming & Commerce Manager, explained: “Essentially my role at Island is to work across all of their releases, both domestically and internationally. I work with Spotify, Apple Music and the key streaming partners, where I go in and play them the new music we have coming up and present to them the campaign (the art proposition and what key promos are happening with each of the artists). Then, when the track is out, I track how it’s doing on streaming services and working out key marketing campaign moments around key artists and releases.”
Matt, Island’s A&R Coordinator, works on the production side: “We make the records before they get handed over to the marketing department. My role specifically is doing the admin side of the creative process; I negotiate producer fees and recording budgets, I book studios and the artists’ travel to sessions, among other things.”
Florence, Island’s graduate intern, works in the Audio Visual department: “It’s basically everything in the video world. Before a video goes out to everyone, they have to initiate it, which means gathering all the information like directors, producers, etc. Then it goes through a process called Clearance in the U.S. which is where you get the U.S. to contact the writers’ publishers to confirm shares. Then I help release and schedule them, helping with optimisation with tag words.”
Marcus at Cooking Vinyl touches on various aspects of the music business throughout his role: “An independent record label has much smaller teams, so the Product & Marketing Manager is basically the person who runs that artist’s campaign. They’re in charge of organising the timelines; working out when singles should be placed; they look after hiring and managing the promo teams (so that’s radio, press, TV); they work on digital strategies with the digital team, targeting things like Spotify, Apple Music; they work with production on getting the stock manufactured and liaising with people to get the audio masters and artwork made; they deal with the retail side and also create the marketing/advertising plans as well. It’s really sitting in the central place of the campaign and making sure all the independent bits are coming together and working in a succinct way.”
Dominic, Visual Creative Coordinator at Warner Brothers Records works “across a broad roster of artists to develop visual identities, content and promotional material." As part of the creative team, Dominic works closely with the Creative Director of Visuals to commission music videos, social assets, photoshoots and artwork.
Dominic explained: "This requires constantly being on the hunt for emerging talent as well as building relationships with well-established creatives. It also requires getting quite hands on, working closely with artists to communicate their ideas. Physically we also make a lot of stuff - filming pieces myself, designing logos, animating lyric videos and loads more. My favourite part of the job is getting to meet and collaborate with creatives that I really admire and perhaps wouldn't otherwise have access to."
When they were students planning their careers, are these the roles they imagined?
The answer was “no”, this is not what they’d imagined. However, they all agreed that they were absolutely “loving it”: the work, the people, the music industry.
“It’s the best job I could have asked for,” said Joe. “It’s perfect for me.”
Matt told us: “I always wanted to perform, that was the aim, but quite quickly I realised I wanted to move on with my life, rather than waiting at home for something to happen, that may never have done. That said, this is what I saw happening while I was on my degree, in the sense that I’m super involved in music. There wasn’t anything else that I would do.”
During the panel, one of their key messages was to consider a career in the music industry.