When I began reflecting on my summer working for At Night Management / PRMD Music, I was reminded of the “10 Pictures” exercise I completed during the first month of my time at HBS. In the exercise, we were instructed to bring ten pictures to share with classmates that represented our interests, goals, and values related to our lives and careers post business school. One of my ten photos was of a young Swedish DJ named Avicii and his manager Ash Pournouri. For me this photo represented my desire to work with global superstar musicians to help guide and shape their careers in entertainment. After ten weeks (eight in Stockholm and two in New York City) working for a company that does this very thing, I can confidently say that I would like to continue down this path after I graduate Harvard Business School.
At Night / PRMD is a unique company within the industry for several reasons. First and foremost, the entire company is structured around the idea of creation and creativity. While technology runs platform companies like Spotify and Apple, and marketing runs record labels like Capitol and Sony, creativity and creative assets are what hold value for At Night / PRMD. A second unique element of the company is how many different elements of the value chain they’ve brought in-house. Artist management, record label, publishing, creative agency, legal, booking, and recording studio all under one brilliant Ralph Lauren-designed roof in the center of Stockholm.
Working with this company was very much like working for a start up that is on the precipice of transitioning into a larger company. How do you maintain the culture of freedom and creativity while setting yourself up to scale globally by taking on more artists that require the amount of attention that a global superstar does? Fortunately for everyone involved, our CEO Ash Pournouri is very capable of making this happen. In fact, he was one of the speakers at last year’s SPARK Conference, hosted by the Harvard Business School Entrepreneurship Club. It is his vision that dictated the structure of the company, and will continue to shape it as the company expands.
My summer was spent on a number of projects that I thoroughly enjoyed. A&R (artists and repertoire) is still an important element in running a record label: you’re constantly looking for the next superstar, and I spent part of my time combing online platforms like Soundcloud and YouTube looking for undiscovered talent that our company might be interested in working with. I also enjoyed working the promotion cycle that goes on behind the scenes when releasing music. How do we expose this music to the right people, and how do we grow the artists’ fanbase? This requires having relationships with all of the important gatekeepers in the industry: radio, Spotify, iTunes, YouTube, Vevo, press publications, blogs, and many more. Finally, I initiated a project to revamp the branding and social media strategy for At Night / PRMD. The goal was to develop the company into a more consumer-facing brand: establish a presence and ethos that exists beyond a single artist, instead representing a collection of artists across many different genres.
I am honored to have met and worked with one of the biggest names in electronic dance music. A proper humble Swede, Tim Bergling (Avicii) is a man that truly loves making music. He has pushed the dance music genre in new directions, never willing to compromise on his vision as an artist. I am excited for the world to be exposed to his next album, and to see where his career takes him. Thank you to the At Night / PRMD team for welcoming me into the family. You always have a friend at Harvard.