Music Executives are the Captains of the big yellow submarine that is commercial recording. They oversee almost every aspect of the recording process from scouting new talent, to in-studio production of that talent’s next hit, to throwing the party when a record sells 1 million copies.
Some Executives do this all, from start to finish, while others choose to specialize in a few areas, such as finding and marketing talent. But whether you specialize or not, you’ll need a broad and deep knowledge of music generally: A good Music Executive knows the industry inside and out. They know how to produce, record, market, and distribute a song.
They also know the basics of songwriting (and have probably written some songs themselves). Many are multi- Instrumentalists as well. All this information helps you profitably navigate the music industry. Because even if you choose to focus in one area, you need to understand how your work fits into the production process at large. But this work isn’t all just a rose-colored Artist ’s dream: Beyond the musical talent mentioned above, you’ve got to be extremely business savvy—if you want to make a living in the music industry, somebody has to give you money at some point. You should also love what you do, because you’re going to have to work hard.
There is no minimum requirement to get started in the field, and music executives come from a variety of educational backgrounds. A solid understanding of music and business administration is needed. Here’s 8 tips from music Industry executives.
Former Epic Records CEO
Immerse yourself in music:
Reid began his career as a drummer more than 25 years ago, but he had the executive suite in mind early. He notes that there are opportunities in music outside the studio, such as lawyers, marketing executives, and finance executives. But to be a music-specific executive, he says, one “must learn music, work around music, work in a recording studio, or be a DJ.”
Character is key in the professional world:
“If you’re a liar, cheater, or stealer, you won’t advance, says Reid. You will get ahead, however, “if you have great character, you have integrity, and you have great commitment. Honesty rules.”
Senior vp promotion, Def Jam Records
Nicki Farag has served as Vice President, Promotion, Def Jam Recordings, since 2014. A Def Jam veteran, she came to the company in 2003, and served in positions of increasing responsibility over the years, including Assistant, Promotion Manager, Director of Promotion, Senior Director of Promotion, Vice President, and now Senior Vice President. Prior to joining Def Jam, she spent just over a year as Promotion Manager at radio station Z100 in New York.
COO, Capitol Music Group
Michelle Jubelirer has been the Chief Operating Officer of Capitol Music Group since May 26, 2015. Jubelirer served as Executive Vice President of Capitol Music Group since January 2013 to May 2015. Her duties include overseeing Astralwerks, Blue Note Records, Caroline, and Harvest, as well as Business and Legal Affairs, A&R Administration and Release Planning. Prior to Capitol Music Group she served as a Partner at from King King,Holmes, Paterno & Berliner for nearly five years.
Here’s her advice: “Listen as much as you talk.”
President, Universal Music Group Nashville
Cindy Mabe president of Universal Music Group Nashville says: “Sometimes it’s important to lead from behind. You don’t have to be the voice or the face of everything.”
Formerly senior vp marketing at the label, Mabe has overseen marketing, digital marketing, media marketing, creative services, production and international strategies for Capitol Records Nashville since 2007 before continuing and expanding her role after the October 2012 merger of Universal Music Group Nashville and Capitol Nashville.
Kevin Liles co-founder and CEO of 300 Entertainment
Kevin Liles, who currently serves as CEO of 300 Entertainment and has held top executive posts at Def Jam, Island Def Jam, and Warner Music Group, points to brand partnerships:
“When you talk about brand partnerships, I’ve got to seen it from when they said they didn’t want us involved to now,” he says. “To me, it’s about making sure the brand affinity is there when you make that kind of partnership. I don’t believe everything has to be for free. I believe you have to have the right business model and sometimes you have to give a little to gain a lot. But there’s a success in the process of monetization because you should value your art.”
Lyor Cohen Founder of 300 Entertainment & YouTube’s Global Head of Music
Lyor Cohen is the global head of music at YouTube, he’s also the founder of 300, which has Fetty Wap, Young Thug and more signed to the label. He had previously headed up Warner Music Group as its chairman/CEO of recorded music until 2012; before that, he ran the consolidated Island Def Jam Music Group after Def Jam, of which he was president, was sold to Universal Music Group in 1998. He got his start as an artist manager at Russell Simmons’ Rush Artist Management in the 1980s, working with Run-DMC and the Beastie Boys, among others.
Here’s his advice to aspiring A&R’s: “Make sure that your artists are the truth and you’re not trying to dust bums off. Then, if they are the truth, walk through any walls to have them heard. Risk tasking is the important important, core principle of being a high quality a&r person. Not following the leader. Breaking in, by all means necessary.”
Jimmy Iovine is a renowned record producer who co-founded Interscope Records, as well as Beats Electronics with Dr. Dre. He serves as a co-creator of Apple Music
Here’s his advice: “Get in the room with the best people you can and open your heart, ears, and mind. Open up and learn. Be of service. Because if you’re of service, they will teach you. With Lennon and Springsteen and Smith, I knew that I had to be of service.”
Steve Stoute founder and CEO of Translation
Steve Stoute, a former music executive, is responsible for connecting Beyonce with Tommy Hilfiger to launch the Tue Star fragrance, Justin Timberlake with McDonald’s for the “Lovin’ it” campaign, and Chris Brown with Wrigley’s, among other pairings.
Stoute also runs Translation LLC. An advertising agency along with Jay-Z, which has had campaigns with McDonald’s, Reebok and numerous other businesses.
Here’s his advice: “I tell young entrepreneurs to use the leader in their industry as a benchmark as they work to create their own brand. Dont look at what your competition is doing – if you emulate the leader in your industry, you will achieve a higher level of engagement with consumers and make their buying experience richer.”
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