Marietta, you’re the Senior Director of A&R at Sony Music Australia and you co-manage Tones And I with Lemon Tree Music and Artists Only. Please tell us your story! How did you get to where you are today?
I completed a Bachelor of Arts with a major in Criminology and Sociology at Melbourne Uni. I had no idea at that point what my career path was going to be. I finished my degree in Copenhagen, fell in love with the city and ended up staying there for two years before coming back to Melbourne to complete a Master of Global Media Communication. I joined Sony Music as an intern in Melbourne in 2013 and loved my experience! I was lucky enough to eventually join the team full time and progressed through publicity, promotions and sales roles until I joined the Australian Artists Marketing and Development division in 2016. I was always going to gigs and coming across unsigned artists; one of them being Tash Sultana, with whom I’ve had the pleasure of working since then. It has been extraordinary to see Tash go from busking and home-bedroom recordings to selling out venues globally. It soon became clear that my passion was in artist development, the creative process and nurturing artists. In 2019, I came across Tones And I busking in Byron Bay. I’ll never forget the first time I saw her perform, or the first time we met – both times I was instantly blown away. I officially joined the A&R team later in 2019 and, after working so closely with Tones, was given the opportunity to join her incredible management team. It’s an honour to be part of the Tones team and to be working at Sony Music; it’s a unique position to be in and something I don’t take for granted.
Tell us a bit about Sony and your current roster, what artists do you work with/have you worked with directly?
The Sony Music Australia domestic roster is incredibly exciting and diverse. Artist development is at the core of everything we do and is what I’m most passionate about. I’m proud that as a company we continue to invest in and foster the careers of incredible Australian artists and help them achieve global success. I’m very lucky to be working with so many talented and inspiring artists including Tash Sultana, Tones And I, Jerome Farah, KYE, MAY-A, Maddy Jane, Billy Davis and more! I also work very closely with our JV labels including Lemon Tree Records, Arcadia Records, Seven Seven Records and NOiZE Recordings.
Describe a normal day in the life of Marietta Ouzas…
Every day is very different and unpredictable, which is what I love about my job! I’m always listening to music and you can often find me at my desk having a boogie. I balance my responsibilities at Sony Music and management duties, which can be a bit of a juggling act at times, but I wouldn’t have it any other way! I’m very passionate about helping artists develop their own unique sound and aesthetic, so part of my role is connecting them with the most suited creatives who will bring their vision to life. Photoshoots and video shoots are always a highlight of my week! I have daily creative meetings with artists, managers and labels. I strategise with the wider team and help develop marketing, social media and release plans. Pre-COVID I was out seeing live music a few times a week, whether it’s artists that are signed to Sony or unsigned artists that I’m checking out. I really miss that!
What tips would you give an artist trying to succeed in Australia? Is there a certain route they should take?
There’s definitely not a certain route artists should take; everyone’s story is different and unique. My advice would be to stay true to yourself and believe in your art. Surround yourself with great people who you trust, who understand your creative vision and can help amplify it and bring it to life. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t succeed. If a door closes, find a window to climb through. Trust your instincts and follow what you feel is inspiring and interesting, and you’ll find out where you need to be.
Do you feel that higher education is necessary to get into the music industry?
Higher education definitely isn’t necessary, but it can absolutely be valuable. For those aspiring to get into the music industry I’d recommend interning, checking out live music, volunteering at festivals or events and at community radio stations. If you’re proactive, passionate and determined, you will get noticed. Networking is so important in this industry and you never know who you will meet along the way!
Who are your role models in the industry be they international or Australian?
I’m constantly inspired by so many artists, managers, colleagues and creatives that I work with. My role models are people in the industry who are passionate and artist driven, who fight hard for their artists, believe in them unconditionally and never give up. I admire and surround myself with like-minded people who are authentic, driven and empathetic.
Where do you live and what is your local music scene like at the moment?
I live in Melbourne and we’re lucky enough to have one of the most vibrant and exciting live music scenes in the world! There are so many fantastic and iconic music venues, big and small, as well as boutique events and festivals. Any night of the week, it’s easy to find quality live music on somewhere. I’ve really missed live music during the last year and can’t wait until we have a thriving live music scene again! Melbourne is also home to a beautiful community of artists and industry people who support each other and celebrate each other’s wins. I’m grateful for that.
Let’s talk about the highs vs the lows of your career, what is your greatest achievement so far vs a moment you’d prefer to forget?
The greatest moments in my career are seeing an artist I’ve worked with closely achieve their personal and professional goals, no matter how big or small. It’s incredibly rewarding to know that in some way you’ve contributed to an artist’s overall happiness and success, as we would be nothing without their songs and artistic vision. I don’t have any moments that I’d prefer to forget, as every moment is an opportunity to learn and grow.
Who has been your greatest champion in your career, who has helped you along the way?
My husband Marcus is my greatest champion. Without his unwavering support, encouragement and love, I wouldn’t be where I am today. My mum and dad have always been my role models. They taught me to be fiercely independent and always gave me the opportunities to pursuit my dreams.
On a professional level, Denis Handlin and Pat Handlin have always been in my corner and from day one supported and believed in me. I learn a great deal from the management team I work with: Regan Lethbridge, David Morgan, Jackson Walkden-Brown and Emma Steven. They are the most genuine, compassionate and hard-working legends, who always have the artists’ best interests at heart and will go the extra mile. We’ve created a special bond for which I’m so thankful. I’m grateful for all my family, friends and colleagues who I am empowered by and whose wisdom I get to share. Most importantly, I’m so thankful for the amazing artists I’ve had the pleasure of working with, as I wouldn’t be where I am today without their songs and artistic vision.
What is your go-to Karaoke song?
I’m obsessed with Karaoke! Once I’m on the mic, you can’t get me off. My go-to is Beyoncé ‘Crazy In Love’