Music Week is teaming up with YouTube Music for the Women In Music Awards in October - Black History Month - with a content series and webinar event, Young, Gifted and Black: Women In Music. Here, Adenike Adenitire meets Christine Osazuwa…
Christine Osazuwa has accomplished a hell of a lot in a really short space of time, but if you ask her, she’ll tell you that she hasn’t come close to even scratching the surface of ‘making it’.
The first-generation Nigerian-American, originally from Baltimore, has been living in London for the past two-and-a-half years and is currently the global marketing director of data and insights at Warner Music.
The “highly ambitious” 31-year-old got her start at the very early age of 14, when she started running street teams for artists from the local area.
“It was basically street marketing, which is not really a thing anymore” she says nostalgically.
By 15, she had started booking live shows and at 16 she was running Scene Trash, a monthly music magazine featuring local and national acts. Roles at a handful of marketing and music start-ups followed, as well as a stint at Atlantic Records.
The travel enthusiast, who credits meeting Michelle Obama as a moment she will “never let anyone forget”, also knew early on that she had a passion for marketing and data which led to her securing a masters in data science and an MBA in Marketing following her degree in Music Journalism and Entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland. Before she moved to London, she lived in Stockholm for three years where she worked for Universal Music Group in the marketing and commercial team, specialising in data.
As well as ensuring she gives back by appearing at countless industry events to share her knowledge on the importance of, and how to get the best out of data for labels, managers and artists, she also feels fortunate to have been part of key initiatives such as Power Up. The long-term programme set up and managed by the PRS Foundation in partnership with YouTube Music, Beggars Group, Spotify and the Black Music Coalition is aimed at Black musicians and industry professionals within UK music to address anti-Black racism and racial disparities in the sector.
“It is a programme to help people to level up within their career,” she explains. “I was chosen as one of a 40-person cohort.”
Here, Christine Osazuwa shares insights into the importance of really understanding data in music and how she is working to improve diversity, ...
You are global marketing director of data and insights at Warner Music. What does your role entail?
“I'm on the team for Warner Music with sizeable priorities for Warner as a whole. So that's everything from our superstars, like Ed Sheeran, Coldplay, Cardi B and Bruno Mars, etc. But we also look after the emerging and developing artists, so for example Anita in Brazil and Burna Boy in Nigeria are all priorities at different times.
“Our team oversees all the different priorities for Warner Music Group, and we work with the various marketing teams across the world to make sure we are accomplishing our goal of breaking superstars across the globe. I handle the data strategy, looking at our streaming numbers as well as things like downloads, physical sales etc, to ensure we're continuing to fulfil that promise to break the artist across the world.”
You do an amazing job of bridging the gap between music, data and business. How do you think you manage that?
“I got my start working in marketing and in music. And so that's the space that I've always been really comfortable and familiar with. But I can also code, which in my experience is not an overlap usually found in the music industry. So it is really easy for me to have conversations with marketing and commercial teams, while also being able to talk with our tech teams with real understanding. I do think it's definitely given me an edge, because I can work from start to finish on campaigns. I can visualise it and automate without needing a lot of additional support. I also always find it’s never hard for me to get a new job, which is lovely [laughs].”
I'm really excited for people to understand the usefulness of understanding data
There is a disproportionately low number of women, and Black women in the tech space including within the music industry, what are your thoughts on how this can be improved?
“Within Warner Music, we have ERGs – Employee Resource Groups – and I am currently the co-lead of the People of Colour group within Warner Music. And I'm also a member of the Women of Warner group, as well as the Women in Tech group for Warner. And in that latter group it would be generous if I said there's 20 of us. The representation when it comes to Black people declines from basically the second quartile up, so from that perspective there's an issue with retention, and progression. So that's an area that needs to be addressed, making sure people are being trained properly and progress within the companies they're in, and that they have safe spaces and feel like they can, and should, stay within the company. And then additionally, from a technical standpoint, representation for people of colour is there, but with women is where you actually see more of an issue, and that's an overall issue within STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] as a whole. I think it's slowly starting to be rectified, but it's definitely not where it needs to be, and that might actually be more of a pipeline problem.”
You launched the three-day conference Measure of Music last year, what inspired it?
“Yeah, so I started that during the pandemic. It's a conference and workshop hackathon. And the purpose of it was to have people understand that music and data exist together and understand what type of work can be done with the data. And so, people ended up doing projects about A&R, livestreaming and marketing campaigns, all using data and looking at how data works with all those different departments within the music industry. This was all online and we had 75 people take part in the hackathon and about 1,000 people sign up to watch the presentations and various videos of speakers throughout the actual conference itself. And one thing I'm really proud of is there were about 25 speakers and 75 participants, and both were majority-minority for gender and race.”
What are you optimistic about when it comes to the music industry and data?
“I'm really excited for people to understand the usefulness of understanding data, and I think it's slowly getting there. From the digital service providers like Spotify, Apple, I think they're very much aware of data literacy being important. And then around diversity and inclusion, I'm really excited for people to start taking data really seriously when it comes to hiring and retention on representation.
“There’s one other trend that seems to have started that I hope continues. Joe Kentish became the president of Warner Records UK earlier this year, and that's incredible because he is the first Black label head at Warner Music. One of his biggest claims to fame really is that he's the A&R for Dua Lipa. So, I hope people of colour, and Black people within the industry, get more of an opportunity to work outside of just one genre.”
Stay tuned to musicweek.com for more interviews during Black History Month as part of Young Gifted And Black: Women In Music x YouTube Music.