Name Jake Ottmann
Company Warner/Chappell Music
Role Title Senior Vice President A&R
Headquarters New York City
How did you come to start at Warner Chappell?
I had the good fortune of working for Jon Platt at EMI Music Publishing, before and he asked me to come work for him at Warner/Chappell.
Name three people whom have been critical to your career?
Clearly Jon Platt, for giving me a shot at running the A&R Department here at Warner/Chappell New York and teaching me how to be a publisher. Anytime a boss asks you to follow them to another place it’s a personal achievement, I think. When Jon called I was honored. I’m not going to lie, I was real fired up. Doug D’Arcy who gave me a shot at running his label – Dedicated Records – and allowing me to be around incredible artists. Janice Brock, who managed to get me an interview with Marty Bandier.
Janice Brock is someone who makes things happen. I met her one night at a show at The Mercury Lounge. I was eagerly pitching to someone that night, doing what I call “an honest days work” and trying to land my artist a manager. I don’t know what it was, but she saw something in me and called me the next day and asked me to meet with Marty Bandier.
Tell me about a key business initiative that you would like to see more music companies support?
Without a doubt, mentoring and the conscious nurturing of diversity within the A&R side of the business. A&R isn’t a job done well by jury, which means you need the confidence to be the judge, jury and executioner. Those skills take time and mentoring.
The business has changed. The real superstars in the charts are women. It used to be that if you got the male 15 year old boy as a fan, you had him for life. If you go to concerts now, it’s mostly an audience of women. The female perspective is more vital now than ever before. My newest hire is Kristan McCann. She is smart, a complete music lover, has great cultural taste and I knew that her perspective would be an asset.
A structure to mentor women in A&R is something we need to do more of. Great songs are driven by a diverse industry.
Tell me about the last year you’ve had professionally?
I signed some great young talent and have really had the pleasure of working hard to help them develop into legit artists. Most notably Melanie Martinez, who has been an incredible developing artist story so far this year, and I think an even bigger one next year. I’ve also really enjoyed seeing producers Kinetics & Onelove totally reinvent themselves. Excited for acts I got to sign Macy Maloy, Chris Miles, Kaleo and Janine & The Mixtape too.
What challenges have you faced?
I feel we are all feeling the same challenges and that’s finding new ways to make money for the writers. In today’s world you have to be very entrepreneurial. The music business has been broken and smashed into a million pieces and while we find our way, we need to stay agile, adaptable and see new opportunities. To be in complete service to the music, and that takes patience.
In what ways can people be more socially responsible for the health of our music industry community?
I believe that it comes down to integrity. When things get to out of whack, then fans stop coming back. It happens to genres, to artists and to executives. I feel like pop culture is about to embark on a major correction of the course. It’s a historical reality. It’s the cycle that we have seen throughout the history of popular music. We haven’t seen a real counter cultural moment in a while, sales are down, and I think people perhaps just don’t like the music. Maybe people are a bit of sick of the booty? It’s the bottom, literally and figuratively.
The booty is the nadir.
*Photograph by Isaac Rosenthal
Shot on location at Space4shoots http://space4shoots.com/blog/