Music industry masterclass with Warner Music Group  

Posted on March 27, 2024

Have you ever wondered who chooses the music for Love Island or how an artist gets noticed by A&R? Or how you could jump from a career in accountancy to looking after new business and strategy in music? Creative Access found out just that as it joined forces with Warner Music Group for its latest masterclass, delving into the dynamic careers available and sharing advice on how to navigate the music industry maze. 

Spanning recorded music, music publishing and artist services, Warner Music Group is a global entertainment powerhouse representing artists and songwriters including Burna Boy, Fred Again, Mahalia, Dua Lipa and many, many more. Beneath the white-tiled wall which replicated the Pink Floyd’s iconic ‘The Wall’ album cover, was a stellar line-up of speakers from across the business whose expertise covers areas including A&R (artist & repertoire), sync (more on that below), business development and marketing. They shared what’s involved in nurturing musical talent, why going viral on TikTok doesn’t mean everything, and the variety of ways you can kickstart your career in the music industry! 


  • Marcia Fray (chair) – head of diversity, equity and inclusion for EMEA and Emerging Markets at Warner Music Group 
  • Wuraola Atanda – creative & licensing executive at Warner Chappell Music 
  • Josh Gunston – junior marketing manager (dance marketing) 
  • Renee Weeks Wilson – senior manager, new business & strategy, Emerging Markets 
  • Susie Woodridge – A&R manager, international at Warner Chappell Music 

Making waves: charting your career path in the industry 

Renee, senior manager in new business and strategy, always wanted to work in the music industry. Her first role in the business was as a chartered account, but she wanted to move on from this technical role into a commercial role. Her top tip for those wanting to move from one area to another: build organic relationships across the business whenever you have the chance. In her previous role, she managed the finances of a colleague who is now her line manager. She mentioned that professionally nurturing relationships like that one meant when an opportunity arose, she had an established relationship to build upon. 

Dance marketing manager Josh didn’t get any accepted onto any internships when he applied, but that didn’t stop him from taking matters into his own hands. He emphasised the importance of starting your own projects to gain experience – starting his own record label – and suggests that whether it’s an events night, a label on SoundCloud, or working with an artist around you, it’s much easier walking into a company like Warner Music with experience under your belt that you have cultivated than none at all. He honed his administrative skills (he mentions spreadsheets and Canva) whilst running the label, which caught the attention of Warner years later; “I can’t do Photoshop for instance, but I will find a way to do everything that is done on it another way, using some other platform.” 

Creative & licensing executive Wuraola studied at Guildhall School of Music and Drama and similarly advised getting out there and networking in industry spaces (music events, friends’ gigs, etc.). For International A&R manager Susie, music wasn’t always the plan as she completed a biology degree, but she worked her way up from a temp contract in the royalties department, then called ADA, to her role now where she works with producers, artists and writers.  

TIP: Panellists also recommended reading Music Week and Music Business Worldwide for both opportunities and information to stay up-to-date on the industry! 

Mixing it up: exploring diverse roles  

Our brilliant chair, Marcia, tells the audience that there’s a huge variety of roles which scaffold the music industry as we know it. You can’t have companies like Warner without departments such as sync, A&R, communications, HR, rights management, marketing, finance, and many more. So, if you’re keen to work in the music industry, familiarise yourself with the different departments and see what your skills align to.  

Renee is in the emerging markets team and is a key player in the deal-making process across A&R and mergers & acquisitions. The dynamic emerging markets team covers Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and North Africa, the Indian subcontinent, the Eastern Mediterranean and Eastern Europe. Our masterclass audience was captivated as Renee discussed how markets have changed in recent years, citing Nigeria and India as countries with huge revenue growth and a rise in domestic artists: “Nigeria was listening to a lot of US hip-hop years ago, but now there’s a lot of artists coming out of Nigeria itself and we’re seeing huge growth…India is set to have one of the most amount of annual streams soon, where the growth outpaces Anglo markets.” 

Wuraola works in sync, pitching music for TV and film. She usually gets a brief, which could be ‘songs from 1982-1985 with XYZ mood and length’. On her first day, she found out she would be working on Love Island, and she highlighted having secured so much music on there as a huge achievement, particularly as she placed so many artists that needed exposure on there.  

Key notes: how to stand out as an artist 

The artists in the room paid close attention to the advice given by Warner’s A&R Susie, who said she’s looking for qualities in an artist which naturally stand out, a kind of uniqueness and authenticity that an A&R team can sense. How to do the impossible? She advises finding your creative vision because “it stands out when you don’t have one [for the wrong reasons], and it stands out [for the right ones] when you do”. She also points out that both an artist’s ‘data’ and attitude as important; ideally there’s data that backs up their engagement (trending sounds on TikTok, reel views) and a defiant spirit which makes an A&R person think,“are they willing to work really hard for this?”. 

Unlike Susie, whose job it is to find the next big artist, marketing manager Josh helps get an artist noticed. Whether it’s through elevating their online presence on social media or engaging the public through events and collaborations, Josh thinks artists should focus on generating an authentic, sustainable fanbase. The last time Creative Access visited Warner Music Group, TikTok was somewhat shiny and new and on the tip of everyone’s tongue, but Josh now takes it with a pinch of salt: “An artist will go viral, or blow up, then you’ll sign them and work with them, and sometimes that’s the end of the artist. Who’s your audience? Who are your fans? What are you building here? It’s more exciting when an artist comes in and they’ve got heat, real engagement – albeit 1k or 5k followers. We’ve seen people come in from the TikTok wave, and they’ve almost gotten viral too early, because they’ve blown up overnight before building a solid fan base. Someone goes viral, you go to their gig, and they’ve only got 4 fans and a load of A&R people.” 

Breaking barriers: best pieces of advice from panellists  

Wuraola: Trust the process. You may feel like you’re not where you want to be but trust that you’ll be where you want to be if it’s your passion. It’s important to have teams of people that want the same thing and bounce off of that. It’s not easy to land a role in the music industry, it can takes years and years so go to other people going through the same thing. 

Susie: Have patience because everything is a journey and you learn so much along it. Everything I did from my biology degree to working in royalties – all my experiences added up to what I’m doing now. 

Renee: Hone in on your skillset and what can set you apart, know your strengths and sell them the best you can. There’s a place for you somewhere in the building. 

Josh: I could get quite worked up if something went wrong at work, and my manager always said to me: “We’re not saving lives.” I wish I had learnt that 9 years ago! 

The evening continued with drinks, snacks, and networking. Thank you so much to Warner Music Group for hosting us and sharing so much with our community. And, thank you to everyone from our amazing community who attended – see you next time! 

Interested in attending our next masterclass? You can sign up to our opportunities board to spot upcoming industry events and read our back catalogue of masterclass events.