What is your role at Pandora and how long have you been in the position for?
I am Pandora’s Industry Relations Manager for ANZ. I have been in this role for about 6 months, previous to that, I was Pandora’s Marketing Manager for ANZ. Pandora has just invested in a whole new industry focused team called the Music Industry Group that I am delighted to be part of.
Tell us a bit about Pandora and how you operate.
Pandora is an Internet radio company. We operate on all platforms, IOS, android, tablet and desktop, all for free through our ad-funded model – to listen to Pandora you simply type in your favourite artist, genre or song and we play you more of the same style or type of music. Human curators listen to every track we spin and assign up to 450 points of ‘musical DNA’ which helps us provide the best experience. When I switch on my ‘Bon Jovi Radio’ on Pandora I also get tracks by AC/DC, Aerosmith and Journey for example.
Describe a normal day in the life of Hazel Savage.
A normal day always starts with coffee – I am definitely dependent on the stuff! Then it’s either smashing out emails or meeting other people in the industry to discuss various projects. I can easily smash over 100 emails in one morning – working for an international company the ability to communicate via email or conference call and with the time differences is an important part of the job.
I also tend to go to a couple of live shows a week. It’s not an official part of the role – but I love live music.
How did you get your start in the music industry? Did you choose to work in music or did it choose you?
My first job out of university was working at HMV, a UK based record store – at the time everyone was convinced that it ‘wasn’t really an industry job’ but looking at the current trajectory for physical product it was a real privilege to have had that experience. I also met and made some lifelong friends whilst working there.
My first ‘career’ role was at Shazam also in London, only 25 people worked there at the time and almost no-one had heard of it – I like to think I have an eye for the next big app! I applied for the Shazam job through a job- listing I saw online. I don’t come from an ‘industry’ family, I was lucky to be interviewed by like minded people who identified with my love of music.
Have you got any advice for people wanting to start a career in the industry?
Work hard, in fact work harder than anyone else around you. Be a good person, be honest, friendly and genuine. I think that advice is probably relevant for any industry and as music companies develop in the digital landscape – the successful ones tend to share these traits… oh and also go to lots of live shows.
What issues/potential issues do you think the current Australian music industry face?
I think the whole industry is in a state of change, this has been true since the arrival of mass-internet connectivity and is likely to continue for the foreseeable. It is true globally and not just in Australia. That said there is always opportunities for the digital savvy workers. For the musicians themselves there are some amazing opportunities out there – I recommend Steve Albini’s talk in Melbourne last year as an interesting take on the ‘Golden Age of Music’:
If you were to change one thing about the structure of the Australia industry, what would it be?
If I was an all-seeing overseer I don’t think I would change much – perhaps I would drag the continent closer, geographically, to the US so artists can get abroad to tour in less time and for less money. Is that a practical answer?!
What tips would you give an artist trying to succeed in Australia? Is there a certain route they should take?
There is no one-size fits all answer for ‘success’ in music in Australia or worldwide. It is a combination of things. I also think my previous answer for people who want to be in the ‘industry’ is relevant for musicians: “work hard and be nice”. I might also add ‘skill up on the digital industry’. These days musicians are best off being savvy about recording, social media, music streaming, e-commerce and more, to really have the best chance at carving out a holistic career in an ever-competitive industry.
At Pandora 70% of our music catalogue is from independent musicians and 90% of our content spins at least once a month. If you are a musician you can submit your music for consideration at submit.pandora.com.
What does 2015 hold for both Pandora and for yourself? Any exciting things that you can tell us about?
With the introduction of the Music Industry Group at Pandora you will see more activity around how we as a company can add value to musicians, managers and labels. At the end of 2014 we launched AMP – the Artist Marketing Platform. Musicians can now login to Pandora and claim their own insights and data around who is listening, how often, to which tracks and more. This is an open and free product for musicians and you can find your information by registering at amp.pandora.com.
From a personal perspective I will be playing more shows with my all-girl 3-piece punk band – we are the self-declared worst all-girl punk band in Sydney.
Who are your role models in the industry whether they be international/Australian?
My boss at Pandora, Jane Huxley – a born and bred Aussie and a pretty phenomenal business woman is hugely inspirational to me. She herself would not claim to be in the ‘music’ industry but her years at Microsoft and Fairfax mean she brings an amazing amount of business acumen to Pandora globally.
It is so hard to pick just a few role models – almost anyone you meet in life can add-value to you as an individual however another person that springs to mind is my ex-colleague Charles at Shazam, he works in the US and taught me all the important stuff about being yourself and being a good person.
What’s your go-to Karaoke song?
My go to Karaoke song is Walking In Memphis, I do a cracking Cher impression. If they don’t have it then Nutbush City Limits by Tina Turner – I only recently learnt Australia has a whole dance dedicated to it… Full-Brit reporting in…
Top 3 Artists to watch in 2015?
I am really into the Americana scene that’s having a revival in Sydney currently, so with that in mind:
The Morrisons – full disclosure, I am also their manager… but you have never met a more amazing live 7-piece.
Secondly if Claude Hay brings out something this year I will be all over it – he is a great supporter of ours at Pandora and over the last 2 years he has shot up from 300 spins a week on Pandora to just under 3000 spins, playing globally to audiences who love him and other artists with a similar ‘musical DNA’ like The Black Keys and The White Stripes – not bad for an independent musician from the Blue Mountains!
Lastly my favourite album of last year was Blank Check by The Solicitors, a band from Melbourne – they have amazing ‘Elvis Costello’ pop-sensibilities. If they bring out a new release I will be so happy…
And fourth… can I have a fourth?! Tim Chaisson from Canada – I am a huge fan.