Hey, music fans, music managers, and rising talents! Get ready for an exclusive online interview with one of Poland's coolest players in the music industry, Przemek Kubajewski. We'll follow his journey from a music-loving kid to the mastermind behind the popular Academy of Music Managers, uncovering the passion, dedication, and hard work that made him a leader in the business.
Przemek's story is all about never giving up and striving for the best in music promotion, sales, and marketing. It shows the importance of being passionate and adaptable in a world that's always changing. In our chat, we'll learn about his early influences, his love for soccer, and how he went from aspiring music journalist to successful entrepreneur and mentor to countless artists and music managers. We'll also talk about what makes the Polish music market unique, compare it to the global music scene, and dive into the latest trends and challenges in music promotion.
On top of that, we'll discuss the ever-changing world of music sales, the power of streaming platforms, and the creative ways artists and managers are using new technology to promote their work. Przemek will share his experiences working with artists from different genres and highlight the importance of understanding their audience and market.
So, sit back and get ready for an exciting, eye-opening, and fun conversation with the one and only Przemek Kubajewski, a true innovator and inspiration in the world of music. You won't want to miss this insightful and thought-provoking chat.
Vinnie Jinn: You're an incredibly multifaceted and gifted person who has acquired expertise in diverse areas throughout your life. How did your love for music originate, and what led you to the decision to become part of the Academy of Music Managers? Would you mind sharing some insights into the early stages of your journey in the music world and the reasons that drove you to commit your life to this particular field?
Przemek Kubajewski: Music has always held a special place in my heart. Growing up, I spent all my vacations and holidays with my older cousins. As a result, even as a youngster in kindergarten, I was acquainted with bands such as Metallica, AC/DC, Megadeath, and Guns N' Roses, among others.
When I started elementary school, my parents signed me up for piano lessons, but I only lasted a year due to my lack of patience. Nevertheless, music remained a constant companion – discovering new artists, learning about them, and tracking their careers.
By the time I reached high school, I had made up my mind to pursue a career in the music industry. Back then, I aspired to become a music journalist. As things unfolded, the studies I chose aligned with my aspirations, and I found myself interning at a prominent regional newspaper, primarily writing about music. As life would have it, my career trajectory shifted, and I ventured into sales, marketing, and PR. I must admit, I enjoyed it.
In due course, I found myself at a company that was in the process of launching a project called the Music Managers Academy. I got on board during the initial planning phase, and it wasn't long before I assumed full responsibility for the project. The comprehensive program, lecturer selection, and recruitment processes were all my ideas and contributions from the get-go. After a decade, I acquired the brand from the company, and I have been the proud owner of the Academy for quite some time now. As for the second part of your question, yes, it's a passion, but it also involves a great deal of hard work. Through this unique blend, I have managed to create and develop a truly robust and well-known institution.
Vinnie Jinn: As far as I'm aware, you're quite the soccer enthusiast. Do you notice any parallels between managing a soccer team or player and overseeing the career of a music band or artist? Suppose you were tasked with assembling a dream team comprised of the world's leading music managers. In that case, who would you handpick from the international music scene and what makes them the ideal candidates for your all-star lineup?
Przemek Kubajewski: Fascinating question, indeed. It's challenging for me to draw comparisons, given that my familiarity with the soccer world is limited to stadiums rather than the boardrooms of agents and club directors. Undoubtedly, soccer involves more money.
However, there are indeed some similarities – both musicians and soccer players require a competent manager since talent alone doesn't guarantee success these days. Numerous world-class managers are out there, making it tough to choose. But if I were to concentrate on a single name, it would be Jonathan Poneman, co-owner of the legendary Seattle-based label, Sub Pop.
I've always admired him for his openness, intuition, and ability to balance passion with business. One of my Academy participants shared a story about meeting Poneman a few years back at the Off Festival in Katowice, where he was a special guest. He engaged Poneman in conversation, shared details about his music band, and swapped contact details. They later corresponded, and although no contract materialized, my student fondly remembers that interaction.
Vinnie Jinn: You wear multiple hats, as both a director and lecturer at AMM, instructing on “The Music Market in Poland and the World”. What unique characteristics make the Polish music market stand out when compared to other markets worldwide?
Przemek Kubajewski: You know, I hope I'm not stepping on any toes here, but I'm not the only one who shares this opinion. In various aspects, we still trail behind the major markets. This can be seen in different areas, such as trends or even platforms like Spotify. Globally, independent playlists play a crucial role in promoting independent artists, but in our country, this concept is still in its early stages. However, that doesn't mean we're a dull or unimpressive market. Just take a look at festivals like Opener and Off, which have drawn numerous international fans for years and have earned high rankings on the European scale.
I'm also delighted to see that Polish artists have been cultivating their unique style for years now, without merely replicating Western music. Fans truly appreciate this. Just look at the album sales charts or streaming service rankings – local music has been dominating these lists for quite some time.
Vinnie Jinn: What would you regard as the most vital component in reaching success within the music industry: quality music, establishing relationships and connections, honing marketing skills, developing sales expertise, delivering memorable live performances, or perhaps another factor?
Przemek Kubajewski: Every factor mentioned! You're referring to the building blocks of success, and the lack of any single element can lead to things going awry. Thus, success is indeed an amalgamation of all these contributing factors.
Vinnie Jinn: What are your thoughts on the modern musician who desires to keep their distance from the business side of their profession? Is it feasible for them to achieve success in today's music industry? Are there any alternate avenues for a promotion that don't require excessive involvement from the artists?
Przemek Kubajewski: It's just not possible these days for a musician to make it without proper management. Counting on your music alone won't cut it anymore, as just sitting around and hoping for the best won't get your tunes heard beyond your immediate circle. That's why today's artists are increasingly aware of the significance of the business side of things.
Take the Academy's first class ten years back – with thirty participants, only one was a singer, while the rest were all managers. Now, over the last few years, roughly half the group consists of musicians themselves.
Vinnie Jinn: What are some of your favorite music promotion trends happening these days? What kind of cool stuff are artists doing to make their art pop?
Przemek Kubajewski: My favorite trends right now are all the dope activities happening on Spotify. From reaching out to playlist creators to promoting fresh, unknown talent, there's so much happening in the music scene. With the sheer amount of music being released these days, relying solely on traditional promotional activities, like hitting up radio stations, just isn't cutting it anymore. I mean, I got some radio friends who tell me they get like 300 new tracks a week – that's impossible to sift through!
Sure, getting your music on the radio is still a great look, but nowadays, getting your tune on heavy rotation on a major station requires some serious powerplay. And let's face it, for independent artists, that's a tough nut to crack, especially with all the politics surrounding these stations. As far as I'm concerned, streaming platforms currently hold the most promotional power.
Vinnie Jinn: As a music industry veteran with over a decade of experience in sales, I'm curious – what changes have you observed in the way music and music-related products are being sold? What are some effective ways to market your music in today's landscape?
Przemek Kubajewski: It's crazy how the Academy of Music Managers launched right around the same time that Spotify debuted in Poland. And let me tell you, that streaming service revolutionized the game. These days, CD sales are waning, and that's changed up the whole sales approach. It used to be a piece of cake - just sell a CD to a consumer and call it a day. But now, we gotta cater to these music heads to ensure they stream our beats over and over again, 'cause that's how artists get paid.
So, what's the key to selling effectively? Two things, fam - first, make sure your content is top-notch and well-thought-out. And second, stay consistent with everything you do – from publishing to social media, and everything in between.
Vinnie Jinn: Given the state of today's music market, what do you think are the biggest challenges that artists and music managers are facing? Are there any new opportunities they can leverage to overcome these obstacles?
Przemek Kubajewski: The biggest challenge at the moment is breaking through the dense industry filter, especially with the surplus of music being released. You asked if there are any new opportunities. Yes, recently, using artificial intelligence resources has become popular in various areas such as promotional writing and graphic design. However, nothing can replace the traditional methods of hard work and creativity.
Vinnie Jinn: Ever had to promote an artist who was totally outside your preferred genre? How did you handle the challenge, and did you end up liking their music after all? Do you think a manager's musical preferences matter, or can a good manager promote anyone?
Przemek Kubajewski: Sure thing! I've promoted artists outside of my preferred genre before, and surprisingly, I enjoyed it. When you're a fan of a specific style, objectivity can be lost, but approaching it with a clear head can lead to greater success. Even if a genre isn't my personal favorite, I still need to understand it to know which media outlets to target and which audience to reach.
Fortunately, thanks to my extensive analysis of music history, I have a strong understanding of most genres. However, to me, music isn't defined by genres, but rather by whether it's good or bad. When considering promotion opportunities, I prioritize the potential of the music over its genre. If I believe it has commercial potential and quality, I'll take on the project. Otherwise, I'll respectfully decline.
Vinnie Jinn: Do you have a favorite movie, book, or TV show that portrays the world of music and artist management? Do you think they are credible and realistic in depicting the reality of the music industry?
Przemek Kubajewski: I enjoy seeking out sources like this, and there are several that I could recommend. Of course, these are mostly books or films that focus on specific cases. For example, the recent Netflix series "The Playlist" is about the creation of Spotify. I also recommend the book "The Spotify Play".
Additionally, I really enjoyed "The Defiant Ones" series, which tells the joint story of Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre, who, despite different backgrounds and origins from other music worlds, eventually crossed paths. This story shows how important business actions are in the music industry.
Vinnie Jinn: Now that you have become a full-fledged owner of the Academy of Music Managers, what are your plans for the future? Do you plan to expand into foreign markets, introduce courses in English, or develop an online platform for those who cannot come to Warsaw?
Przemek Kubajewski: Of course, changes are happening, but even when I wasn't officially the owner of the Music Managers Academy, I was still managing it as the director, so all the ideas and implementations were always mine. Now, I just have more freedom to act and I'm planning some changes, such as extending the duration of each edition.
As for your question about classes on foreign markets, that's already happening.
The topic has been in the AMM program since 2014, and for the past 6 years, these classes have been led by Greg Przygocki, a Polish-Canadian who has managed large labels and artists in Canada. Directing artists toward foreign markets has been our mission for years.
As for online classes, we're testing hybrid formats, but I always recommend coming to Warsaw. We've already experienced online-only classes during the pandemic, and it wasn't a good time. Live networking is crucial.
Vinnie Jinn: What advice would you give to aspiring artists who want to make a living from their passion?
Przemek Kubajewski: Stay consistent and be aware that success is not just about talent and ideas, but also about perseverance and determination. Unfortunately, I've witnessed many times the story of an artist who, after one or two good singles, gave up and became disillusioned because they expected quick success.
Quick success sometimes happens, but it's really rare. What we see in our own backyard, such as the successes of artists like Kaśka Sochacka, Daria Zawiałow, Błażej Król, Organek, and Igo, are stories that were achieved only after years of climbing to the top.
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