Interview: Scott Cohen • Warner Music Group
Having recently assumed the position of Chief Innovation Officer at Warner Music Group we caught up with Scott to discuss his advocacy of music business education.
Scott Cohen recently assumed the position of the newly created role of Chief Innovation Officer at the Warner Music Group, having co-founded digital distributor The Orchard in 1997, with legendary Producer/Songwriter and co-founder of Sire Records, Richard Gottehrer.
Scott’s long-held passionate belief in entertainment companies needing ‘to create the future themselves’ fits in neatly with the educational ethos of ICMP and it was the topic of music business education that we began with in a recent conversation with Scott.
Although you are many other things nowadays, from a very early stage you’ve always been an advocate of music business education, how do you view the current provision of educational services for students in this area?
I wish there was a chance to have this type of education when I was in university. It is amazing that people can learn how to work in the music business. And these skills are transferrable. Once you learn about copyright, marketing, etc. for music, you can apply it in many other fields. It’s no longer enough for entertainment companies to merely embrace change, they need to create the future themselves and music education for tomorrow’s leaders and innovators is very much the starting point of this process.
As a ‘teacher’ yourself, what are you looking for as the most important (say 3) key characteristics of the successful music business student?
Test and learn attitude.
Ability to look outside the industry for insights.
‘Entrepreneurship’ is the cornerstone of the new ICMP Music Business degree course, what are say the (3) key lessons music business education needs to impart to the new generation of music business entrepreneurs?
Don’t learn a skill. Learn a process.
Don’t look back. Look forward.
Understand the future by looking at what technology is launching.
You were a co-founder of digital distributor The Orchard; can you share with us a couple of moments in the early days of that company’s development that convinced you that you had a viable business - feel free also to tell us about some of the more testing times as well!
Once I saw where things were going with both the web and mobile technologies in the mid 90’s I was certain that this would be the future. Unfortunately, I miscalculated the timeline by about 15-20 years. I expected to be a full-on demand digital and mobile business by year 2000. Oops.
Finally, taking off your Warner Music hat for the moment, simply as a fan and music lover;
What was the first (and most recent) record that you can remember purchasing?
Purchased???!!! I haven’t purchased a record in this century….my first one was Led Zep IV.
The first/last concert that you attended?
First was James Taylor when I was 14, in a field with my older sister. The last artist I saw was Hamzaa.
Who do you think has done most to take music forward in the last 10 years?
Thanks for talking with ICMP today Scott and look forward to hearing from you again soon. Scott is a regular contributor at Music Industry and Futurist business events and conferences in the UK and across the world. You should not miss a chance to hear him speak should you be in the vicinity of one of these occasions.
Author: Julian Wall
Julian has worked at a range of record labels and industry organisations, in a career spanning several decades in the music industry. He was Director Independent Labels Membership at the BPI 2007-2012, VP International Marketing at The Sanctuary Group (Iron Maiden’s long-time management company) and held a variety of marketing, sales and promotion roles at Sony Records (RCA & Arista labels) and Universal Music (MCA & Phonogram Records). More recently, he was Head of Industry Relations, Press and PR at PledgeMusic, but left that company in 2018 pursuing a range of consultancy roles and freelance projects in music-related areas.