It’s been a while since we published a “Job Envy” feature, but we’re excited to bring the series back with a fresh perspective from remarkable individuals. Deron Delgado is a perfect fit, providing fascinating insights into the publishing industry, tips on securing a role in the sector, and a look at his career journey so far.


Deron Delgado.

Place of work?

EMPIRE / Dirtybird.


Director of Operations and A&R – EMPIRE Dance /  Label Manager – Dirtybird.

How long have you had the job?

I have been the Dirtybird label manager for almost ten years, and once we were acquired by EMPIRE in 2022, I also stepped into the new role of the dance department.

What does a typical day involve?

Signing, negotiating and scheduling releases, managing the marketing/PR/sales teams for upcoming release campaigns, liaising with artist teams via email or meetings, managing budgets & royalties with accounting teams, booking DJs & talent for our events, listening to demos while researching artists, paying attention to business development and marketing strategies.

Highs of the job?

I love emailing producers and telling them we want to sign their music. They send in their art, sometimes blindly, to our demo submission portal, so they don’t even know if anyone has listened to it. So, to hear their excitement when they reply is probably the most rewarding part of the gig.

Lows of the job?

When an artist or project you really believe in and know the talent is there, they put in the work, and the team does everything they’re supposed to do campaign-wise, but for whatever reason, the music doesn’t get past the froth of all the new releases. Always a bit frustrating and disappointing, but also a reality check of how hard it is to make it as an artist in this business.

How did you get the job?

I’ve been in the dance music space since the late 90s. I‘ve run a record label, a digital download store, and a distribution company, and was a party promoter over the years. Plus, I grew up in the San Francisco rave scene with all the original Dirtybird artists (Claude VonStroke, Justin Martin, Worthy, J.Phlip, etc.) even before Dirtybird was conceived.

After they had the label for several years with various friends who were the Label Managers, they wanted to revamp the way it was run with someone who had more formal experience in the position, so they hired me. 

What did you do before this job?

See above! I also have a degree in Audio Engineering, but I always was more into the business side rather than being in the studio.

In the music business, you often end up doing several jobs to generate multiple revenue streams. So, my experience in all of these over the course of two decades helped give me the experience I needed to be successful in my current roles.

How can we get your job?

This business isn’t like a nurse or lawyer or engineer where you just go to school for a degree and then you submit resumes when you’re done and get a job. It tends to be pretty relationship-based until you get some experience under your belt, so I recommend just being a part of the industry any way you can – volunteer at festivals, help a friend promote their music, start a label (you’d be surprised how easy it is to get started), etc.

Be a part of the scene you want to be a part of, and be friendly and outgoing and you’ll be amazed at the connections you can make.

Who are the people who’ve had the biggest influence on your career, and why?  

I’ve never had a mentor in my life, so I’ve always had to figure it out on my own. In that process, the biggest influence has been failure – either the fear of it, or the experience of it. Through that process, I’ve found ways to persevere in this business and endure a career in an industry that is pretty unforgiving.

Have you ever thought about going it alone?

I’ve spent nearly 20 years doing it alone (or with business partners), and while I still manage a couple other smaller labels on my own, I’m fortunate to be at a company like EMPIRE where the culture, resources, experiences and opportunities for growth are entrepreneurial and inspire me just as much as doing it myself.

What’s the one bit of advice you wish you’d known at the beginning of your career?

This isn’t a get-rich-quick business. Sure, there are anomalies of overnight success that are out there, but this is one of the most competitive industries in the world, and everyone has the same goal you have.

What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made in your career to date?

I didn’t learn about publishing early enough. I took it for granted and never bothered to learn about it because it’s confusing (by design), and I didn’t think it was relevant to what I did. But once you understand how important it is, you can understand this business since publishing plays a role in everything.

Is AI after your job?

Not necessarily my full position, but certainly some aspects of it, such as A&R discovery, campaign creation, etc. I’ve found it best to treat them as tools so that I can leverage the technology to help me rather than hurt me.

How would you like to see your industry develop over the next five years?

I’d like to see it move away from flash-in-the-pan TikTok hits and back to actual artist discovery and development.

Find Dirtybird on Instagram.

Follow Deron Delgado on Instagram.

New releases from Dirtybird include Walker & Royce – No Big Deal LP, Hawke & God Within – Acid Funk (Remixes) & Gettoblaster & Nathan Barato – The Move (feat. Tony Duke)

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4th June, 2024

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