Course Studied: BA (Hons) Music (Production)

Year of Graduation: 2007

Top Career Highlights:

  • Founding my own company and building my own team (Moledro Digital)
  • Working with some of the most talented people in the music industry and being a part of global success stories like Sam Smith, 5 Seconds of Summer, One Direction and Little Mix as well as helping talented new artists take their first steps in the music industry
  • Running campaigns that got recognition from fans and the industry especially when we were one of the first to do something

Chris O’Gorman has spent a decade working in digital marketing and strategy within the music industry. In 2016, the former Head of Digital at Capitol Records decided to launch his own company, Moledro Digital – a digital marketing agency which focuses on the music, TV & film, consumer brand, professional services and not-for-profit sectors. A graduate of our Music Production degree programme, Chris was won numerous industry awards and has led digital campaigns for notable artists including Sam Smith, 5 Seconds of Summer, One Direction and Little Mix.

We met up Chris for advice on how to get your foot in the door and remain adaptable within an ever-evolving industry.

What attracted you to studying in Leeds? 

It was a mixture of the city and the course. I’m a born-and-bred Londoner but I always had this image of Leeds as a fun, friendly city… the sort of place you want to spend your university years and it lived up to that. In terms of the course, I didn’t want an overly theoretical course and Leeds Conservatoire’s course seemed to be the most practical and ‘hands-on’.

How did studying Music Production at Leeds Conservatoire prepare you for a career in the wider industry? 

Even though I never worked in music production, my course teaching me about the production process really helps me relate to artists and speak their language. Having a passion for and understanding of what you’re trying to sell is always an advantage in marketing.

Tell us a little bit more about your time at Capitol Records UK – what did your role involve?

I was really lucky to work with a team led by Nick Raphael and Jo Charrington (Co-Presidents of Capitol) who really believe in the importance of digital and aren’t afraid to take risks. I joined when the label was founded which gave me invaluable experience when it came to starting my own business. As Head of Digital, my role was pretty expansive and I was responsible for overseeing all things digital for Capitol’s roster including digital strategy, management of artists’ social media channels, digital brand partnerships, relationships with social networks, running digital campaigns and digital ad spend.

How do you approach working with each individual artist? How much input are you able to have in terms of the overall direction of their marketing campaign?

You have to understand who each artist is as a person, what their music is about and what they want to achieve. My view is that the artist is usually their own best advocate. The role of marketing isn’t to tell them who or what to be; it’s to help them define and amplify their brand as an artist and to promote them and their music to as many existing and potential fans in as engaging a way as possible.

The input we have varies, sometimes we’ll be involved right from the beginning and run the whole campaign. Other times, we might be called in to help out on something specific like influencer marketing, playlist outreach or digital advertising.

What is the most innovative idea you have come up with for a campaign?

Probably the campaign I did a few years ago for 5 Seconds of Summer which won an award for ‘marketing on a shoestring’ at the Brand Republic Digital Awards (brands’ definitions of what constitutes a ‘shoestring’ budget is slightly different from music clients!). The fans signed up to get their Twitter accounts (voluntarily!) ‘hacked’ by the band. Their Twitter accounts then became digital billboards and we could release messages from their account promoting the new single. This gave us huge reach and engagement without spending a lot of money.

What led you to create Moledro Digital? How did you identify a need or gap in the market for this type of work?

My business partner, James, and I were in Central America on holiday and we got talking over a few beers about how it would be great to start a digital agency that combined his experience (finance, law and business consultancy) with mine. He went traveling on to Australia and I went back to work but we kept talking about how our business might look until we decided that we just had to do it.

In terms of identifying a need, pretty much every business (music or otherwise) needs digital and, although there are a lot of agencies out there, we think that agencies that can combine an understanding of the commercial and the creative are particularly sought after by clients.

Are you able to selectively choose the clients you work with?

We operate in a highly competitive space and in some very tough sectors to crack (e.g. music and fashion) so we don’t have the luxury of picking our clients. Having said that, we do get approached a lot. When that happens we only work with clients where we think we can add value and where the necessary campaign structure and resources are in place. One of the toughest things about music (as opposed to brands) is the number of talented artists out there who we’d love to work with but the resources just aren’t there to make it possible.

What have been the major success stories since you established Moledro Digital?

For me personally, the biggest success story has been our growth as a company. Going from me and my business partner James working out of my kitchen with one client, zero staff and zero investment to where we are today with an office in central London, a great team, clients inside and outside of music in the UK and across the world.

I’m also very proud that we’ve been at the cutting edge of influencer marketing – particularly Spotify playlist plugging and promo campaigns. Not many agencies were doing this kind of work when we started a couple of years ago but they’re increasingly becoming standard industry practice.

Social media and digital content is booming. What changes have you seen in the industry in your career to date?

So many changes. I’ve been working in digital for over 10 years now and in that time digital has gone from being a novelty to something artists and brands can’t live without. To give an idea of how much things have changed from when I started; when I was in charge of digital for the MOBO Awards in late 2011, we were one of the first to use social media voting to decide an award. Snapchat had only just been launched the month before, didn’t exist and Instagram was celebrating passing the 5 million user mark (it’s over 800 million today).

What advice would you give for someone wanting to get their ‘foot in the door’ in the industry?

Not sure this is the most original advice but keep trying, don’t expect it to fall into your lap. Also, know that getting your foot in the door is just the beginning. When you get a chance to impress, take it. You don’t know when or if you’ll get another one.

How difficult is it to stay adaptable in an ever-evolving industry? What tips would you give someone?

It’s hard and getting harder. Digital is more competitive and complex than ever before. Regarding tips, I’d say don’t assume that just because something has worked in the past that it will continue to work in the future but just because something is new it doesn’t mean it’s better. You have to stay up to date and keep asking yourself what each new development means for you and your clients in practice. Some developments will just be interesting and good to know. Other developments will potentially change the way you and your clients do business. It’s important to be able to spot which is which and act accordingly.

What’s coming up next for you in terms of projects?

Two of the biggest things we’re working on right now are the type of big ‘from scratch’ projects I’ve spent most of my career working on. One is turning an offline music/events brand into an online fashion brand. The other is launching a new artist with a musical and digital collaboration from a pretty well-known producer. Unfortunately, I’m not legally allowed to give details of either but I’m confident you’ll be hearing about them soon.  

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