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From Skepta to Dua Lipa; behind the scenes at Warner Music…

Want to know all the ins and outs of the music industry? Everything from signing a new artist to matching them up with a prolific brand, we have covered it all…

This month’s masterclass saw us return to High Street Kensington to the fabulous offices of Warner Music. Adenike Derrick, Label Manager at ADA Records, opened the evening by introducing our brilliant panel. The musical experts consisted of Vaniece Jno-Baptiste, Tobi Omoloja, Shyamil Rajdev, Nana Adu-Sarfo, all of whom work across various labels in Warner or Beats by Dre. They revealed all of the realities of the industry;  the good, the exciting and the challenging. See for yourself what they had to say…

Nana Adu-Safro, Head of Music Marketing at Beats by Dre, kicked off the evening with some great advice on confidence. We all know that the music industry can be harsh, so it is important to understand your value: “Everybody has value. I had an inferiority complex at the start of my career but now I know that no matter who you are or what your skillset is, you will definitely add value to the room. Your value will never expire as it is always unique to you and your own experiences.” A great way to start the evening, assuring everyone of their ability and understanding that moments of self-doubt are normal for all creatives.

Shyamil Rajdev, Social Manager at Atlantic Records developed Nana’s point. He explained that sometimes you won’t know what your value is yet but there is a process to finding it. You must “look for your interests first. Could you genuinely see yourself working on that passion project for a year or two? Start building your community and meeting the right people. Then you can know if you do or don’t like it. Without trying you won’t know.” This is great advice for anyone looking to crack the creative industries, no just those curious about music.

Then, Vaniece Jno-Baptiste, Brand Partnerships Manager at Warner Music Group, hit us with a reality check. She gave us her insight into the dreaded ‘work-life balance’: “The reality is that there is always a lot going on. The work and social life balance is not there. The challenge is always making sure things are done to their deadlines whilst staying sane. People think it’s glitz and glamour but 85% of the time, it’s just hard work.” Vaniece taught us all about working with huge musical stars and iconic brands. It’s clearly not just what you see on social media. Just like all industries and projects, grafting is at the heart of everything.

Tobi Omoloja, A&R Scout for Warner Records, spoke about what his role actually involved, saying “my job in A&R involves finding the newest, hottest talent and signing them. What’s better than that? I sit down at my desk and listen to new music. I can’t believe that is my job. Thinking about all the other options I had and I’m so gassed I landed here.” Tobi had been determined to make money but he very quickly realised that the investment banking life was not for him. It was his love of music that grounded him and, ultimately, makes him feel something which money never could. Which brings us back to the point from Shyamil – if you have a true passion and interest in something, tackling challenges becomes a lot easier.

We finished off the panel with a discussion about career highlights. We heard everything from bumping into Dua Lipa and Nile Rodgers at Abbey Road Studios and taking a risk with Skepta for one of his first international campaigns in Japan. Despite what Vaniece says, this sounds pretty glam to us…!

Massive thanks to Warner Music for hosting us and the panel for sharing their invaluable knowledge. Everyone was truly inspired and bubbling with ideas.