Music industry advice you wish you’d received

Bas Grasmayer
Nov 5 · 3 min read

Sammy Andrews of Deviate Digital and Let’s Be the Change opened an excellent Twitter thread last week sourcing career advice for people just getting started in the music business.

I’ve selected some of the best bits in the thread.

What Dan Fowler says here is something I also tell newcomers in the business often (and it’s good advice for anyone, no matter their seniority). A variation on this: stay in touch with other newcomers you meet early on. Back when I was writing my thesis about the music business, I connected to people through Twitter who were also trying to figure things out: their way in the business and even how the business itself works. Some of them have moved on from music, but others are now in senior positions at major labels, streaming services and other companies. Initially, we had no ‘value’ to each other, besides sharing perspectives. At different times throughout our careers, our paths intersect and we’re able to help each other out professionally.

Adding to that: know what you want and communicate it. Go through a speakers list at a conference, email people well in advance. If you’re just trying to understand more about the business, your path in it, and think their perspective helps: state it. If people have time, they’re usually more likely to say yes than no in my experience.

Hell yes. This is also one of the easiest ways to create a more inclusive culture that works for people from different backgrounds, gender identities, personality types, etc. Best thing: it works anywhere, whether it’s a startup, a tour bus, or a corporate. Tied for first place best thing: it works on any level, so you can start it grass roots and make the culture of an organisation more caring and friendly.

Just start. I don’t think I’ve ever sent a newsletter out without one of my own articles, but I really wanted to reboot, so for the first time, I broke my rule. I wasn’t happy about it, but it’s so important to get something out the door, get your rhythm, and have something to improve upon.

Also see Ari and Dan’s advice higher up. Ties in nicely. The music business is surprisingly small. You’re gonna bump into the same people regularly, and at places or companies you wouldn’t expect. Be nice.

Remember why you’re in this! Don’t feel shy to tell people you love their music. That’s the whole point.

For fans of turntablism or the 90s UK hardcore / big beat sound:

Adding to that: don’t reinvent the wheel each time, but when you copy parts of strategies you’ve used before or seen someone else do, you need to know damn well why you’re doing it. This is why it’s so hard for startups to just clone other people’s products: they don’t know the “why” behind certain product decisions. Sure, there are good examples of companies that succeeded in doing that: see survivorship bias. You probably don’t see the ones that fail, because they never reach scale.

Want to focus on the tax returns here: taxes are part of the business. Understand your whole business. Taxes can be rule-setting.

Amen. I studied communications and rolled into product management for music streaming services, as well as consultancy work. Nobody really cares, and having a background that’s different from other people can actually help a lot.

Ending it on that great note.

If you want to see more or have something to add of your own, go to Sammy’s Twitter thread.


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Bas Grasmayer

Written by

Write about trends and innovation in tech and how they may impact the music business. Previously: Product Director, IDAGIO.


A weekly fresh perspective and careful selection of must-reads on music, startups and where we are heading. Subscribe here:

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