Olivia Nelson is Global Campaign Manager, Hip-Hop at Amazon Music. She has applied her marketing background to the world of entertainment, and has since worked on live tours, livestream events, and now works in the music-streaming world.
Here is what Olivia had to say when we asked her about pursuing a career in entertainment:
GenHERation®: How can you get your foot in the door if you want to work in the entertainment industry?
Olivia Nelson: Look for internship opportunities. I always say internships don’t have to be super formal or structured. Even if you have the chance to connect with a family friend who is in the industry you’re interested in, finding a way to shadow them and see their day-to-day life can be a valuable experience. Any sort of pre-exposure is helpful.
GenHERation®: When applying for roles in competitive industries, how can you stand out?
Nelson: That’s a great question. The first part ties back to your previous question, which is to take advantage of any opportunity for pre-exposure to the industry you’re interested in. When I transitioned from the tech industry to entertainment, I made sure to highlight little projects I had done on the side while working in tech that gave me exposure to working in music. Another important thing is to highlight your unique skills. For example, if you have a really strong background in finance that sets you apart in industries like entertainment where the majority of people are on the creative side. Anything that helps speak to your unique set of skills and how that will help the organization succeed will distinguish you. Finally, it’s important to always demonstrate your passion for the industry and the organization you’re hoping to work for.
GenHERation®: What are the biggest challenges associated with your role?
Nelson: I’m currently at a really big company, so there’s a lot of people you have to work with on pretty much everything. Obviously, it’s nice to have different voices and different perspectives, but at times it can be a lot to manage. The company I’m at is also very matrixed, so you have to know the lay of the land. The speed at which things move can also be challenging. Prior to my current role, I was at a pretty small music agency, and you could get things done super quickly. Here, it takes more time because you need approvals and higher-ups to pass ideas along. However, on the flip side, a bigger company means more resources, which can be a great benefit.
GenHERation®: What is the one skill you use the most on a daily basis?
Nelson: Communication. It’s really important to be able to talk with different teams and people that you’re working with. A lot of times people will ask questions about what you’re working on and sometimes you’ll know the answer, while sometimes you’ll be unsure. You have to be able to effectively communicate regardless of the situation, and that can be daunting sometimes. When you don’t know something, it is easy to make something up or shy away from admitting you don’t know something. However, I’ve learned that there is actually power in saying, “I’m not sure right now, but here are the steps I’ll take to figure out the answer and circle back.” Asking questions is also a big part of communication. Whenever you ask a question, 99% of the time there is someone in the room who benefits from it.
GenHERation®: What are three tips you have for networking?
Nelson: My first tip is to be prepared to listen as much as you speak. When networking, you can pick up when someone is actually listening. If I’m talking to someone whose career I want to emulate, but all I think about is what I’m going to say, they aren’t going to appreciate that. However, if I think about what I can add to the dialogue to benefit them, the conversation is much more of a two-way street. Another tip is to put yourself out there. I am not the biggest fan of networking because I am much more introverted than extroverted. However, I learned to put myself out there and talk to people. My third tip is to know what you want to get out of it. You should have a goal for every networking conversation. Always make it clear what kind of information you are looking for and what questions you have, so you make good use of everybody’s time.
GenHERation®: How do you stay up to date with industry trends?
Nelson: At this point, every industry has converged with the digital space, so staying abreast about what’s happening on social media and company websites is a big thing. It is also important to keep up with the content of whatever vertical of entertainment you’re in. For music, you should make sure you’re listening to new music that drops, and same for film as new projects come out. It’s also important to talk with the right people—people who are doing really exciting things in the area of entertainment you’re interested in.
GenHERation®: What is the biggest misconception people have about working in entertainment?
Nelson: One of the biggest misconceptions is that this industry is all glitz and glamour. While that is a part of this industry, it can be exhausting and often thankless. At my previous job, I was an event producer and I found that production work can be very thankless. You have to be on top of every little thing because you are the person that people go to, to ask for small and big things, especially when working with artists. While it can be fun working with artists, artists and their teams can be demanding. This industry is very rewarding, but it takes a lot of hard work to carve out a name for yourself.
GenHERation®: What do you wish you knew the day you graduated from college?
Nelson: I wish I knew that things don’t always have to be set in stone. Things ultimately do work out. When I graduated, I didn’t know where my career would take me. I knew I was moving to work at a tech company in Seattle, but I never knew where that would take me. I never knew that I would love LA and decide to go after a music-focused career. Even if you don’t know what’s ahead, things will work themselves out, especially if you have a good work ethic, make smart decisions, and go after opportunities.
Olivia Nelson is Global Campaign Manager, Hip-Hop at Amazon Music. She is originally from New Jersey and graduated from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 2017 with a B.S. in Economics (with a concentration in Marketing). After college, Olivia moved to Seattle to join Microsoft’s marketing organization. In 2019, she moved to Los Angeles to apply her marketing background to the world of entertainment, and has since worked on live tours, livestream events, and now works in the music-streaming world. Outside of work, Olivia enjoys cooking, working out, and traveling.