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30.11.12 Music Week 21


Coming of age: Holly Bott (below) struck it lucky with Sony Music after her degree and is now a planner working across artists including The Vaccines

“I’m now using the critical skills that I developed during my studies to understand why certain artists connect with their audience and how we can create those connections more often” HOLLY BOTT, SONY MUSIC

insider work experience, are there any other tried- and-tested routes into the industry? Any kind of training and development that

requires a critical eye, an organised mind and an ethos of hard work provides a useful foundation for a career in music. Holly Bott gained a Fine Art degree at Goldsmiths, University of London, and went on to become a planner working across all of the labels at Sony Music with a diverse range of acts from The Vaccines to Susan Boyle. “Planning looks to marry the different

elements of a campaign – audience, artist vision and cultural trends – and create a cohesive, creative and strategic vision to guide marketing and communications,” Bott tells Music Week. “I think that my initial approach to these

projects definitely stems from my time at university,” she adds. “I’m now using the critical skills that I developed during my studies to understand why certain artists connect with their audience and how we can create those connections more often.” Universal’s Cook agrees that a respected degree

in any field can provide strong foundation skills that will be useful in a music business career, but its all the more powerful when combined with real and relevant experience. “I met a candidate that had done a degree in

law and business but had also done quite a lot of work experience at PR agencies and a radio station,” Cook offers as an example. “She’d always wanted to get into music but did the degree because she thought it would provide useful background for her future career, which I totally agree it does. But her passion is in music and she’s done all that work experience. That will stand her in great stead for whichever part of our business she ends up working in.” Cook also enforces the idea that non-music

industry work experience is far from redundant, especially as the business increasingly has to work with content and distribution far beyond a CD on a High Street shelf: “Not everyone who applies is aware how diverse our business is. The digital evolution of our industry has opened up even more opportunities. “There’s now a cross-pollination between all of the

media industries and that is largely driven by digital.” The expansion and growing influence of the

digital sphere and the variety of industries that it brings music companies into direct contact with means that those already on a different career path needn’t see the music industry as a missed opportunity – quite the opposite. “There was a time when we would be looking

for someone who’d worked in the music industry before,” says Cook. “But now we’re looking at media agencies, technology, people who have worked within the brand space and the like. “There are certainly a lot more transferable

skills within our industry than there used to be. That’s due to the fact that our business model has evolved and continues to do so.” And formal music education isn’t necessarily

something that should only be considered by those of typical University age. After 25 years as a musician, John Anthony Martinez embarked on the MBA for the Music Industry at Henley Business School, which ultimately led him to his current role as executive VP of Business Affairs for indie label Private Plane, formed by Malik Yusef. “I am deeply concerned about the future of the

industry and the enormous challenges we face as music creators and distributors,” says Martinez. “Henley is being proactive by empowering those of us most affected by these issues, equipping us with a top-flight MBA and access to an amazing network of music industry professionals.” Yusef adds: “John is a genius musician – but he

is also a businessman. The fact that Henley Business School has identified a need for an MBA for the Music Industry is indicative of the importance of educating senior management in the industry to face these difficult times.” Ultimately, for Universal’s Morna Cook, that

wider awareness of the modern day music industry is one of the most important qualities. “If you’re coming to us for an interview,

whether it’s in finance, HR, legal or A&R, marketing or the more creative functions, you should show you are up to date with what’s going on in our business, because it changes and evolves so quickly. Being able to demonstrate a solid understanding of the digital landscape pretty much applies to all of our roles, not just within the digital function. “It’s about the challenges that are affecting our industry, but also the opportunities as well.”

ACM CEO Julia Leggett flies the flag for formal music education: “The point of an ACM music education is that, as well as the academic experience and qualification, our students are immersed in the industry from day one. ACM students get access to leading edge industry knowledge, a wide and effective range of experience and the opportunity to work directly with all sectors of the industry – giving our students not just the technical skills needed but also a broad and deeper understanding of the industry they are entering. An experience that you are unlikely to gain by chance or, given today's high-pressure industry, on the job. “We adapt our courses to reflect what is happening in the industry.

Our tutors still work in the industry. ACM is part of the industry. “Moreover, ACM designs and delivers a range of innovative and engaging industry training programmes for major record companies and media corporations tailored to respond to the ever-changing needs of their business and market. “There is a notion that you can’t be taught how the music industry

works. If this was the Seventies or Eighties I’d probably agree. But it isn’t and we are continually being told by the industry that what it wants is smart, focused and creative students joining its companies. “Our aim is to meet that industry demand but also to encourage a

high level of entrepreneurship amongst our students. ACM doesn’t just look at the music industry, but also the industry of music, and one of our goals is to ensure our students understand how music is used as content in other areas. “Record company internships are incredibly competitive to get.

ACM fast-tracks a lot of our students into those roles. Partly because employers know our reputation and trust us to deliver the right person for the job but also because we actively seek out opportunities for our students. “However, not all our graduates choose to go into label or publishing

jobs. Many set up their own businesses and the feedback is that their time at ACM gives them experience and a knowledge that gives them an edge in the real world. “We have an enviable success rate of placing our students within the

industry. Recent success stories include students joining UMG, Kobalt, Cooking Vinyl, PIAS, Quest Management, Dramatico, iTunes, EMI, Microsoft Xbox 360, Sony Music and many more.”

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