Sony Music Entertainment Australia Marketing Manager and AIM alumni Jessica Barrett was recently recognised as one of The Music Network’s Top 30 Under 30. The awards acknowledge the young Aussie music industry players absolutely slaying the music game, right now. Her ascent through the record label world has been swift, so we caught up with her to learn more about her gig working for one of the world’s biggest music companies.
“Music has the power to change lives,” Jessica says. “It’s a community, a soundtrack, a way to live, a place to escape to and a craft that is often undervalued by the wider community. My role in this is to help bring the work of artists to wider audiences through creative and strategic output. It’s an incredible privilege to work with artists on sharing their work with the world,” she continues.
Jessica is a graduate of our Bachelor of Entertainment Management program and started her career in the industry as an intern at the ARIA Awards, as part of her coursework. “AIM has great resources with lecturers who have a wealth of experience in the industry to learn from, lean on them when you can,” Jessica says. “AIM is also a great place to meet your future colleagues – in each job I’ve had in this industry there have always been AIM alumni working there,” she adds.
What’s a typical day for you? What’s been the least typical day?
Jessica: A typical day involves collaborating with my colleagues across digital accounts, radio, press and social media on plans for different artist campaigns. This can include writing marketing plans, briefing digital spend, brainstorming ideas for social content and everything in between.
A particularly memorable workday for me was in 2021 where I was able to take an artist out on promo. Working in marketing means we don’t always get to be present for interviews, so I jumped at the chance to spend the day with an artist. This involved working with management on schedules, briefing media and being able to sit in on the artist interviews. It was so cool to see the artist at work and hear firsthand the stories they shared from the album.
What do you love the most about your role? Where is your focus right now?
Jessica: I love the variety of artists and campaigns I work on. In my time at Sony I have executed campaigns for Adele, George Ezra, Latto, The Chicks, Mariah Carey, The Script and many more! I love how vast and diverse each artist and campaign is.
My current focus is on international marketing. It’s exciting to be able to see these artists coming back into market after growing AU fanbases over the course of the pandemic.
What have been the most incredible, “pinch yourself” moments of your music industry career so far?
Jessica: My biggest ‘pinch yourself’ moment would have to be the ARIAs. I always loved watching them on TV when I was growing up. My very first ARIAs I was interning at ARIA as part of my Entertainment Management degree at AIM. It was a surreal experience to be in the same room as Australian music royalty. I’ve been privileged to attend whilst being employed at two record labels and it never gets old!
What are the changes you’re most excited about that you’ve seen happening around you over your career, since you started?
Jessica: The music industry has undertaken huge changes throughout my career. The way music is consumed and the impacts of social media including TikTok have been incredibly exciting. Fans now have more ways to interact with their favourite artists and share music with their friends.
The pandemic brought its own challenges to the industry. I am excited to see the industry grow through this recovery period. There have also been big steps taken to create a safer workplace for all including the current review into sexual harassment and discrimination in the industry. The review is a great step towards recognising the past and building a better future.
What are three artist-driven projects / campaigns you’ve worked on that you were most passionate about and proud of? What made them special?
Jessica: The first was my very first solo project – The Greatest Showman Original Motion Picture Soundtrack. I was so excited to be assigned this release as it combined my love of music theatre with my work. The campaign was incredibly successful and went on to spend eight consecutive weeks at #1 on the ARIA Albums Chart.
The second would have to be the country music campaigns I worked on through the Nashville labels. Country music became a passion and specialty of mine whilst I was working at Warner Music Australia. As part of this I oversaw Morgan Evans and Dan + Shay to commercial radio success, platinum single sales and pop playlisting at DSPs. It was great to see country music cross into the pop genre.
The third is the Australian artist campaigns I have worked on. Moving to Sony Music Entertainment Australia I was very excited to work with Australian artists for the first time. These campaigns allowed me to be a part of the artist’s strategic planning from the beginning and work to also market them in other territories. These projects included albums from Brad Cox, Troy Cassar-Daley and Adam Harvey.
What would be your advice to an ambitious AIM student wanting to follow in your footsteps and advance their career in the music industry?
Jessica: Put yourself out there and take every opportunity. This industry is about who you know as much as what you know. Go to gigs & industry events, seek internships and mentorships, volunteer and connect with people in the industry.
What are the things you believe only a life lived in the music industry can provide?
Jessica: A life lived in the industry brings connection to music like nothing else. It’s an amazing gift to connect people to music that they hold onto forever and to help artists share their craft with the world.
What do you think people would be surprised about when it comes to what you do?
I think people would be surprised to know the intricacies of working at a music label and daily tasks involved. It’s easy to hear a song and immediately think of how it came to be in terms of the artist writing, recording, and releasing but it’s not as common to think about how you discovered the track. To get a song to the masses there is often deeper layers of ideas, creativity, money and people power involved.
What is next for you?
I am excited to continue to develop my career at Sony Music Entertainment Australia working in international marketing. With international artists coming back into market for the first time since COVID, this year will be a whirlwind of shows, promo tours and new albums. I can’t wait!