Welcome to Magnetic’s Industry Focus, a series where we highlight the major players working behind the scenes of the EDM biz. These are the folks running the record labels, representing the artists, promoting the shows and just getting it done. Today, we highlight Oscar Scivier, Senior A&R for Ultra Records.
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How did you start your career in the electronic music business?
Started from the bottom. 2 weeks after leaving high school, I got an internship at a (then) small management company, to keep my mother from losing her mind as I had failed all my exams. I was doing label assistant work and looking after the royalties for all our artists (deadmau5, Calvin Harris, Mark Knight, Chris Lake, etc). Invaluable learning. Then one day I was abruptly moved to a new position… running point on the day to day management duties of deadmau5. We did 4x4=12, sold out London’s legendary 18k cap Earls Court, sold out 6 nights at NY’s Roseland Ballroom, and then I was plucked out of London and shipped to the US to go and work for Ultra Records.
What is the best part of the business?
It’s more about learning what the most appropriate part of the business is for oneself. A&R is the obvious choice for many but to successfully do it, it is a LOT harder than those think. Marketing is fun if you have a creative mind that spans past just music. Movie and TV synch is also a great part of the business.
What are the biggest challenges?
Wading through the endless streams of people who have got lucky and are in positions of power but don’t really know what they are doing and refuse to be open minded enough to learn (learning is key and there is ALWAYS room to learn more).
Oh, and dealing with lawyers to get side artist clearances done in time to stick to release dates.
What career advice would you recommend to someone just starting off?
‘Every day is a schoolday’. Be prepared to learn a shitload of information every day and take it in. Watch the people around you and learn why both their successes and their faliures happen.
Also as soon as you have the opportunity, travel as much as possible. You know how many talented people there are to meet in the city you live… Imagine how many there are in all the other cities (Los Angeles, New York, London, etc). The younger you are, the less you have an excuse not to travel constantly.
What does electronic music mean to you?
Considering I am a full time employee of Ultra Records, it basically rules my life…
I do love it though and the ability to create music electronically means so many people who are naturally creative can have a go… How many creative people in the past never got heard because they happened to have bad physical coordination and couldn’t play a guitar? TONES. Don’t be a hater just because they aren’t playing a bassoon.
What cities/regions do you think electronic dance music is best thriving?
It’s constantly changing. The internet and festivals are both key contributing factors. Personally I think New York has a good thing going… Also in El Paso they love techno which is weird and pretty cool. (I’m a big techno guy).
If you weren’t in the music biz, what would you be doing?
I’d be sitting at a desk listening to music in headphones rather than on big fuckoff speakers, blasting out the whole office...