With offices and employees spread across the globe, sometimes it takes time to get to know everyone. In our series ‘What The #&@$ Do You Do?!’ (WTFDYD), The Orchard highlights Orchardites from all over the world to learn more about their role at The Orchard and experience working in the music industry.
Sammy, tell us about what the #&@$ you do!
I’m a Digital Account Manager on the North American Retail team based in New York City. Our group is responsible for managing The Orchard’s relationships with streaming services to secure playlists, store placements, interviews, original content creation, and other marketing and editorial opportunities. In my position specifically, I work with TIDAL, SoundCloud, Audiomack, iHeartRadio, Deezer, TouchTunes, PlayNetwork, and others.
How does your role / department fit into The Orchard?
Our team — Retail, Sales, Commerce, Account Management, whatever you want to call us — is a very important part of the value proposition at The Orchard. Our label, management, and artist partners look to our team to secure various opportunities to bring as much visibility to their releases as possible. When paired with compelling marketing strategies, sync licensing, touring, and more, playlists and editorial play a critical part in artist development in this era of the music industry.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
I love securing opportunities for emerging artists! As cool as it may be to contribute to campaigns for bigger names like The Raconteurs, Jorja Smith, or Kelsea Ballerini, there is something super fulfilling about getting an artist on a playlist cover for their first time ever, or helping to lock in a video content feature. I’m really lucky to work with editors and representatives at streaming services that truly care about artist development. It’s a privilege to have a role where I can do my best to help creators make their dreams a reality, and being there in the early stages for a talented act is an incredible feeling.
What’s a campaign/project you are proud to have worked on?
I’m really proud of what we accomplished for Gaidaa, a Dutch-Sudanese R&B artist signed to our Artist Services division. Editors across multiple services were fans of the music which helped secure early playlists. But leading into her EP Overture, there were also great press write ups, performance content, and other brands stepping in that helped support her release. My partners helped to capture some of these moments throughout the rollout, and it was fun getting her music out to the world and expanding her audience here in the United States.
How did you first get started in the music industry?
After graduating from college, I moved to New York City with zero music industry connections. I waited tables, had a job as a bank teller, and completed a few stints with a temp agency while trying to get an entry level position. I worked extremely hard as an intern at RED Distribution, and some supportive people there helped me to land my first job as a Sales & Finance Coordinator. I’ve been a member of the Sony Music family since, with RED merging into The Orchard in 2017.
What advice do you have for independent artists / those who want to break into the industry?
Don’t be afraid to stay true to yourself. I know that sounds very cliché, but it’s tempting to watch what other people are doing and feel the need to chase trends or compromise your values or integrity on the path towards success. Plus, with services ingesting close to forty thousand songs per day, it can feel very overwhelming trying to stand out in the crowd. But I’ve found that the most successful artists are usually the ones who remain authentic regardless of how tastemakers and gatekeepers feel about their art. If you can prioritize creative marketing ideas and direct-to-fan engagement, it’s funny how quickly those people will begin to come to you as you grow your fanbase.
What artists have you been listening to on repeat lately?
I listen to a lot of different genres, but am an R&B fan at heart. In heavy rotation right now I have established artists like Usher, Kehlani, Chloe x Halle, Ari Lennox, and some developing acts such as Giveon, Yaya Bey, Con Killion, Gaidaa, LOONY, and others.
What’s your favorite thing about working at The Orchard?
My favorite thing about The Orchard is working side by side with my fellow account managers. The group we have is very special – every single one of us is extremely passionate about the work we do, the music we represent, and just playing our part in helping break artists. As you can imagine, there are very high expectations for our team with pressure to deliver every week for multiple artists in various stages of their careers. I love collaborating with people who are so knowledgeable about numerous genres, and it challenges me to always strive to be better for our clients.
Favorite tradition at The Orchard?
When we’re in the New York office, we are a dog friendly space. Sometimes it’s nice to take a mental break and be around animals.
How do you discover new music?
When watching shows, I have the Shazam app on my phone readily available to figure out who the artist is on a great sync placement. I also read music blogs and listen to playlists, but I enjoy the process of actively searching for music on YouTube, TIDAL, SoundCloud, Audiomack, etc. – often finding content that is still under the radar, relatively speaking.
What’s something you’ve learned outside of work that helps you to be your best self at work?
I’ve learned how important it is to maintain perspective about what we do in entertainment. There are members of marginalized groups all over the world who are fighting for equity and social justice every day. There are people in other professions – healthcare workers, first responders, military members, etc. – who put their lives at risk for citizens regularly. To be really candid, I think of them whenever I’m dealing with egos and difficult personalities in this business. Nothing we do is life or death, but we do have the opportunity to promote music that makes people feel, dance, laugh, cry, or simply find the strength they need to get through their day. Working in the music industry is a privilege that I’m grateful for and considering where I came from will never take for granted.