In this interview, James Martin of Midem speaks with Sam Hill, Director of Digital Marketing at BMG UK, about his job, advice he'd give to those starting in the music industry, where he thinks the music industry is headed, and why he doesn't think data should drive 100% of decisions.
Guest post by James Martin from Midem's Music Industry Insights
Sam Hill is Director of Digital Marketing at BMG UK, and is as such responsible for artist online campaigns, advertising, content, branding and more. We’re honoured to welcome him as a midemblog ambassador. Now, get to know him before meeting him in Cannes next month!
midemblog: What are the best things about your job, and what have been your career highlights to date?
Sam Hill: I think the best thing about my job is sometimes just taking a minute to take stock of exactly what you’re doing. It kind of hits you and you think “I work at a record company where I get to do fun stuff on the internet”. It’s one of those things that never gets old. It’s been over 10 years since I got my braces off and sometimes I’m eating a sandwich thinking “it’s so great that I don’t have braces anymore”. Working in music is the same kind of feeling. Being at BMG has been great too – so much has changed and developed in the last few years so it’s always exciting.
I always try to be proud of what me and the team here are doing, but my highlights are still working with amazing artists that take pride and pleasure in what they do. At BMG it’s an incredibly diverse roster but seeing the similarities in the most dissimilar artists brings me joy. Working with alt-J was the first big project I did, my first platinum record and my first number one album, so I’ve a special place in my heart for them, nestled alongside getting Rick Astley a number one album a couple of years back. I’ve just worked on a Kylie Minogue record, so that’s pretty special too.
> What advice would you give to people looking to start working in the music industry today?
Do as much stuff as you possibly can! If you’ve got any skills, try and apply them in any way you can and for as many people as possible. I made some social and digital assets for people, did some copywriting, wrote about music video, helped produce local radio, did a events about music videos, did a couple of internships and worked in a Mexican restaurant. I cannot believe I used to be so proactive.
Doing a range of things at once starts to give you a rounded experience of how things work and where you’re best placed to make a difference. Don’t be snobby about whether you think jobs are beneath you and always be nice to everyone.
> What do you predict will be the key trends for music consumption and marketing in 2018?
It’s too dull to say streaming, isn’t it? But seeing the continued shift to streaming is always interesting, especially now it’s getting so adaptable to context – smart speakers and Amazonbeing a great example of that – but also YouTube rolling out a music focused subscription model will make people rethink how they’re consuming. I’m all for a broader market!
Now that we depend so much on social advertising to market music, I wonder what the long term impact of recent data scandals will have on advertising. I’m hoping that companies like Facebookwill actually remove the flak of nefarious and problematic advertising and leave us with a more trusted space to share content, but that seems overly optimistic. We’ll see!
> What is the one innovation that we should be the most excited about?
Probably smart speakers but I also want to say “people in music marketing actually working out how to do influencer marketing in a cost effective way that isn’t super cringy”. Lets just go with smart speakers as the other one is quite convoluted.
> And what do you think are the biggest challenges facing the music industry this year?
I think the trick will be staying true to releasing interesting and innovative music, without falling into cynical loops based on statistics. I don’t like it when people talk about this idea of a magic formula that’s best for streaming or suchlike. I love data, but I don’t think it should drive decisions 100% of the time.
This is the latest in a series of posts from key industry influencers from the world over, whom you’ll be able to meet at Midem 2018. More soon