The music industry has redefined itself time and time again, restructuring the systems in place that many have deemed to be questionable — even unfair towards the artists the business is built on. The people that make the business go round are trapped in dirty contracts depriving artists of ownership of their masters, unequal 360 deals and more, but with the rise of music distributors like UnitedMasters, which focuses on developing artist-driven careers, and executives like UM’s own Goldie Harrison, there’s a fighting chance that the industry is on a path towards self-sufficiency.
Spending the last two years with and outside of UnitedMasters in different job capacities has given Harrison a bird’s eye view of what an equitable framework in the music industry should look like. As UnitedMasters’ current Senior Manager of Marketing and Streaming, she and her team work closely with digital streaming platforms (DSPs) like Spotify, TIDAL, TikTok, YouTube and Apple Music to execute creative campaigns that increase their artists’ streaming revenue and discoverability. To top it off, she spends her time as a DJ for the likes of adidas and BBC Ice Cream, an events host for New York Fashion Week and Tribeca Film Festival, running her 24:OURS platform for creatives of color (both in the physical and digital world) and as a board member of the Web3 platform Dot Connector, which promotes a safe space for Black and Brown folks with an interest in Web3.
Harrison’s hands-on work as a DJ, host and Web3 community leader, her relations with DSPs and artists and her two-year stint with Roc Nation’s Equity Distribution team is ridding the business of unjust practices known to take advantage of both new and established artists. By providing these artists with creative, engaging and transparent methods to make the most of their art, Harrison and UnitedMasters are designing an arrangement that will benefit the artists for the work they put in. “UnitedMasters has always championed independent artists from the very start — empowering artists to take control of their careers,” she says. “The future is independence and I believe more companies will start putting the power back into the hands of the creators.”
“[Community and communication] are what makes a passive listener a fan and a consumer a brand loyalist.”
In three words, how would you describe your job to someone who isn’t familiar with the music industry?
Independent artist amplifier.
Can you run us through a day in your work life?
A day on the job changes on a daily basis, however, I’m normally meeting with streaming partners and media platforms to stay up to date with their company news, best practices, marketing opportunities and features while keeping them in the loop with artist releases and campaigns. I’m also meeting with my team for updates, to work on strategies and send out pitches as well as explore new trends for artists in this space.
What do you think is the most important aspect of creating awareness for a brand or an artist?
The most important aspects of creating awareness for a brand or artist are community and communication. These two things are what makes a passive listener a fan and a consumer a brand loyalist. Investing and building an authentic community around your music is key when an artist wants to grow their visibility and create true fans.
Being a great communicator is also important when creating brand awareness. This requires you to be in tune with your brand identity, know who you’re speaking to and why you’re speaking to them and have a grasp on how you’re sharing your music, content or message — whether that’s on social media, radio, press, etc. This all requires you to understand the connections between content strategy, content marketing and creativity. Communication will influence how people view and consume your brand or music.
“Your circle is your community and it’s important to leverage that.”
What are the necessary first steps someone should take to enter a career in music in publicity and communication?
Internships and networking got me to where I am today. Interning will help young people get exposed to the space and expand their network. Another major key is networking — building with the people around you. Your circle is your community and it’s important to leverage that.
Did you always know you wanted to have the career you do now, and did school play any part in inspiring you to this path?
I had no idea this role existed when I was in college. I always had a hard time answering when people would ask me what I saw myself doing in the future because I knew I wanted to be on the cusp of media and innovation. I studied marketing and media in college, and knew I wanted to be in a role that allowed me to be creative and help shape the way people consumed and experienced different forms of media and entertainment.
What lessons and/or work ethics did you only pick up after working in the music industry?
Embrace the things you don’t know. Sometimes what you don’t know can be your greatest asset, and force you think outside of the norm. Another one is that the execution is much more important than the idea.
Is there a secret to career longevity in this industry?
Always be a student of the game.
What are some habits you follow regularly to always maintain a good headspace?
Being proactive and incredibly organized. Maintaining structure with to-do lists. Having a team player mindset. Never taking anything personally. Prioritizing my mental health and creating boundaries for a good work-life balance.
“Embrace the things you don’t know. Sometimes what you don’t know can be your greatest asset, and force you think outside of the norm.”
What does a day off look like for you?
Sometimes it’s all self care, chai lattes, avocado toast and yoga/working out. Other times it’s exploring and executing my passion projects outside of my 9-to-5.
If not music, what would you be doing?
I would be somewhere between the film and art space.
Stay tuned for more features with music industry professionals — from managers to sound engineers, stagehands and others; the people who make the music world go round without standing behind a microphone.
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