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U.K. SPECIAL ISSUE: WMG'S EMMY LOVELL

Interview by Rhian Jones

Digital
exec Emmy Lovell was recently promoted to SVP of Digital at Warner Music in Blighty, where she also heads up the label’s innovation lab, Firepit Tech. She’s responsible for identifying and developing technologies, platforms and partners for artists, and working with business development execs to translate them into commercial opportunities. Says Max Lousada, “Emmy combines a far-sighted ability to spot the next wave with a genuine and infectious enthusiasm for figuring out how we use it to carry us, and our artists, forward.” In her previous role as Head of Digital for Parlophone and Warner Bros., Lovell led a livestream campaign for Coldplay and an interactive gaming app with Muse. She’s also been instrumental in the digital promotion of artists such as Kylie and The Chemical Brothers, and has spearheaded campaigns for Gorillaz, Deadmau5, Danger Mouse and Tinie Tempah.


Tell us about the work you’ve been doing over the last year.
Today we’re living in a world where artists break technology and technology breaks artists. Not only that, but it’s brought fans closer than ever to their favorite musicians. We have regular conversations with younger generations of music lovers, and it’s obvious that they know no tech boundaries. As a result, we realized that as a music company we needed to be closer to tech. We don’t want to follow trends or just meet people’s expectations; we want to lead and exceed them. So we decided that in order to truly be part of this space and deliver exciting tech advancements, we needed to take a lab-style approach to our development—we wanted to put the “lab” into labels. As a result, Firepit Technology was born as an innovation, technology and digital hub for the U.K. office. We see this as a huge opportunity to offer artists, labels and our teams a valuable new service. It’s also a great point of difference for Warner Music. Our experimentation and the discoveries by our developers, tech A&Rs and digital experts are making a big impact on what we can deliver for our artists and their campaigns.

How does what you do further artist campaigns?
We’ve created tools to support the digital development of new acts, we’re experts in social media and we’re working with the labels on a number of campaigns. For example, we’ve recently helped Muse generate the first-ever true AI video, creating a brand-new video every day for a month based on news coverage. One of my favorites was for James Blunt for his album, The Afterlove. The campaign played on the theme of his music being a guilty pleasure that people enjoy behind closed doors. So we created a “playscription” chat bot that provided fans secretly obsessed with James’ music with a “remedy.” Users were asked to answer five questions, and based on their responses, they were diagnosed with a level of obsession; their prescription is a personalized playlist. This drove engagement of his new album and back catalog, along with conversation across social-media platforms.


It’s an interesting time right now for AI and music; I see this as a key technology that will enable artists and fans to have a more personalized relationship. That’s always the goal—to bring fans as close as possible to artists.


Where are the most exciting opportunities for artists and labels in the digital space?
The digital space itself is really exciting. It’s constantly evolving, and it’s a real challenge for us to ensure we’re keeping our labels and artists up to date so that they can do their jobs with the best knowledge available. It’s an interesting time right now for AI and music; I see this as a key technology that will enable artists and fans to have a more personalized relationship. That’s always the goal—to bring fans as close as possible to artists. It’s particularly exciting at the moment, because AI is a real focus for a lot of companies, so it’s changing and advancing at a rapid pace, and in London we have some of the best AI talent in the world.

What are the biggest innovations on the horizon for the music business in 2018 and beyond?
I see the biggest innovations coming from the technology that will streamline our processes and creative output and bring fans closer to the music and artists. We need to keep experimenting to ensure we continue to learn and move forward. We’re excited by voice search and the opportunity to develop a more intimate music experience between users and technology. It’s another area of rapid growth both in terms of consumer demand and understanding, and it’s quickly developing to feel more humanized and less machine-like.

A streaming-led playlist world can result in a lack of engagement with artists. How do you help encourage a fan’s meaningful connection with artists and their stories?
Social platforms play a very important part in an act’s ability to tell their story from their perspective and for the fan to feel the energy, emotion and authenticity from the artist. The brilliant thing about social platforms is that they remove barriers, so it feels completely normal to DM an artist in the way they would their closest friends or leave comments. We just want to ensure as many people as possible have a positive experience.

Stay in the loop of what's up and coming in the U.K. with our Spotlight playlist below. 

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