While we might think of music as a universal language, the truth is that even these legendary artists need to be, in a certain sense, translated. That’s exactly what Bruno does and he does it brilliantly. His success in working around the world comes from his ability to find the hidden shades of subtlety in a record, the ones that capture the heart of anyone who listens to a song. When he shares these nuances he manages to communicate, not change, the spirit of album, in a strategy that can be considered marketing with an artistic edge.
Your career began in the journalism industry an in NYC with companies such as La Repubblica and Contact Press. How did you enter the music industry?
By chance. A friend called me up and said: “Sony Music is looking for a Product Manager and you’d be perfect!” So I applied and I got my first serious job there … Not only did I love music, but I also had an open mind and international experience. Life has its own strange plans. I thought it would be temporary, but it lasted 20 years.
Working between the Italian music industry and the world, how do you go about packaging Italian artists for an international or American audience?
I’ve mostly been running the International department of various labels for a couple decades … How was it? Wonderful and tough: there’s a lot of music and creativity, but you are basically working for a big corporation and have to make the budget and there are politics involved. Sometimes you get challenged to market records you know will be very tough for your territory. Sometimes you don’t have access to artists you know can be very successful in your country. In general the “International” job is to identify a possible audience for the music you receive from abroad, evaluate its potential, find the supporters in the media and effective ways to promote it.
In order to do that you have to “translate” in communicational terms a record, an artist. Given the exact same artist, what makes him/her successful in the States or UK is not necessarily what makes them successful in Italy or France. Sometimes it’s using a different single or it could be choosing different marketing angles … either way you have to find the solution.
Working for ClearChannel (now LiveNation) you got to plan huge events. Which was the most memorable for you?
Well, I didn’t really plan the events … but I was on the marketing side of them. Anyway the three concerts of Italian superstar Vasco Rossi in San Siro stadium were quite a learning experience for me. It went beyond the fact that I’m a fan … it was the magic of seeing the level of energy, expectation, emotion of the audience. There was so much “affection” floating around. The level of love and loyalty from the public can be quite amazing and to fulfill their expectations its a hard task. There are artists whose strength comes out during live performaces. They are the ones with the strongest fan base (see Bruce Springsteen).
What direction do you think music is going in today?
You say music, but you mean the music industry. They’re two separate things and don’t necessarily go in the same direction! Anyway, music is … and will always be music … the system of pop music went through some dramatic changes and is now shaping up differently. It used to be a very “vertical” system, based on superstars and Majors … thanks to the web it’s now a more “democratic” medium. I believe that the motto for the next few years will be “ choose what you like.”
The options are huge , money is tight, major players are too expensive and big to survive, but this opens possibilities for smaller bands … The sharks are toothless and the ocean is still big. There will be food for everyone. But first a new order needs to be created. Not only a new business model, but a new way of consuming music is shaping up. I find it quite exciting.
Digitization has changed lots of roles in the music industry. What would be your advice for people who’d like to start a career in this industry?
Just go for it! If you like music and have digital skills, be an Enterpreneur and just go for it … Free your mind: the industry’s collapsing, there’s a lot of room and you have nothing to lose. The digital world is fluid and inexpensive. Don’t get trapped in your father’s schemes:the new map of the music world is still under development and it needs fresh ideas.