As digital innovations manager for Universal Music, Marc Langsman is responsible for developing exciting new digital music concepts. We find out what’s involved in this unique role.
Place of work?
Digital Innovations Manager
How long have you had the job?
What does a typical day involve?
I’m responsible for the creative development and product management of new digital music products and services. As such I work with partners such as brands, product design agencies and developers so I’ll frequently be involved in workshops and discussions to shape and define the products we’re creating. These can cover product features, user experience, branding, music curation and technology.
We’re always looking at new ideas and I spend time collaborating with others in the company to flesh these out. This could involve offering technical advice, conducting research or creating product mock-ups. It’s also important to be looking at the most exciting technologies out there so we regularly meet up with tech start-ups and established digital services such as Twitter.
I have the freedom to work up my own ideas and bring these to life. Having been an electronic music producer and DJ for many years I’m really excited about music creation and have a side project in this area. I’m talking to people from all areas of the business about this, discussing the idea and getting their help in making it a reality. Getting a project off the ground can involve label A&R, artist management, customer research, music publishing companies, marketing as well as the technology – there’s always lots to learn and many interesting facets.
Highs of the job?
It’s amazing to be challenging how we do business and creating the future of the music industry! The freedom to develop and run with new ideas here is a big high. I’ve worked in other industries like advertising which offer a lot of creativity but it’s really exciting for me to be able to innovate around music and artists.
It’s also totally fascinating to get an insight into how the music industry works and I love the fact that I hear so much music around the building. Every day I’m exposed to something new or something I haven’t heard before – it’s really inspiring!
Lows of the job?
Good question! Some people have a really bad perception of major labels and it’s weird to hear your workplace being bad-mouthed in such a vitriolic way. I find that a bit saddening. Everyone here is super fanatical about music and it feels like there’s a lot of really exciting work going on for artists and fans.
I also have a background in coding and because that isn’t currently our core business I’ve been a little removed from getting my hands dirty. It’s hard to do everything, especially when you’re creating entire services and products, but I think it’s important to keep hands-on to some extent. I’ve recently got a Raspberry Pi and am planning to get making some cool music tech projects shortly!
It's amazing to be creating the future of the music industry!
Who are the people who’ve had the biggest influence on your career and why?
When I went to university I won tickets in a radio competition to go and see DJ Pogo. I’d never seen anyone cutting up samples, beats and breaks to a live jazz band before and I was totally blown away. I blew my student loan on 1210s (sorry Mum!) and quickly started playing out. Needless to say I spent the following years buying and listening to as many records as I could get my hands on (and consuming beans on toast).
Some people have a really bad perception of major labels and it's weird to hear your workplace being bad-mouthed in such a vitriolic way. I find that a bit saddening.
I’m a bit of a sucker for books on creativity and Paul Arden who was creative director for Saatchi & Saatchi wrote a couple of very cool little books that have always really inspired me. They suggest taking risks, thinking differently and not playing it safe. That’s pretty much been my attitude to my career – I actually started in banking and quit to go study sound design. It scares a lot of people but it’s worked out well for me!
I also follow Hugh MacLeod, Austin Kleon, Ean Golden and Peter Kirn. These guys are really inspirational and are forging what feels like a new era of artists who also embrace digital as thought leaders and entrepreneurs.
How did you get the job?
In addition to being reasonably fanatical about music I’ve worked in post-production, sound design, digital advertising, mobile apps, TV, entertainment technology, banking and digital publishing. I’ve also spent time working for myself and on my own projects. I think great experience counts for more than paper qualifications nowadays. I applied through the usual route to Universal but I sent an illustrated infographic of my experience, my LinkedIn profile, a nicely designed CV and an online portfolio of work.
How can we get your job?
If you’d like to be innovating then start today – almost everyone has the tools to make and share cool stuff as well as a whole world of know-how and inspiration at their fingertips. Standing out from the crowd is more important than ever and it’s definitely worth having a great profile online. Don’t be afraid to approach people and network. And if you can’t get the job you want then there’s never been a better time to go make the job you want…