Montse Carty Alumni Interview

Name: Montse Carty

Major at Berklee: Professional music

Graduation Date: 2004

Professional Title: Artist and label relations curator

Employer: Pandora

What are some of the accomplishments you’re most proud of in your career thusfar? 

The accomplishment I am most excited about is having the opportunity to work in my current job at Pandora! I’m incredibly happy that my Berklee education and prior work experiences have led me to my ultimate dream job.

In one of my first jobs in the music industry, I worked in Global Marketing at Sony Music Entertainment, which served as a service department between the different labels and international markets. I loved being part of a team that discovered best practices to help each country build success for Sony Music artists in their respective markets. Another initiative I was able to help grow was the global websites for artists, which was just getting started when I began. Many of my coworkers from Sony Music (from New York and internationally) have remained dear friends and my boss is still one of my greatest mentors...I’m very grateful for the relationships I made during my time with the company.

Working at the San Francisco Symphony, a nonprofit arts organization, was a completely different experience in the music world but also rewarding. It was great to organize and oversee a number of events and work with our media partners. I also enjoyed getting younger people involved with the symphony though a college program. The student representatives I managed had great energy; it was rewarding for me to work with them and bring some of their ideas into practice. 

Because I was fortunate to have had supervisors who really fostered my growth, it was very important to do the same for my staff as a manager at the Boston Ballet School. I tried to be a true mentor and I hope that I was able to have a part in their professional growth as well.

My current job, as artist and label relations curator at Pandora, is the perfect fit for my background and interests. As part of the music operations/curation team, my focus is on two areas: music curation (collecting music for our catalog, reviewing independent submissions, working on genre stations) and artist and label relations (serving as a point of contact and working with artists on on-site meetings and performances). I am thrilled to be working for a company whose principles and philosophy I am so proud to be a part of. The skills I’ve learned along the way prepared me for a role and place I want to be long-term, and that’s what it’s all about! 

What are the most challenging aspects of your current job?

Can’t say that I have any! I only wish there were more hours in the day so I could delve even deeper into what I’m already doing. I feel incredibly lucky to have a job that doesn’t feel like work. When you’re doing what you love, it doesn’t feel challenging—it just comes naturally, I think. My advice for those starting out in their career and feeling things out is if you meet a real challenge, don’t let it crush you. Instead, figure out how you can learn from it. If something doesn’t feel right, pay attention to that voice. Same goes for the positive feelings you get—if something makes you light up, really pay attention to that as well! Get as many experiences as you can so you have opportunities to learn what excites you, what doesn’t, and what will ultimately be the best fit for you.

What would you say are the top requirements for someone entering this line of work?

You’ve got to be passionate, work hard, and never stop learning! Ask lots of questions and in turn also help others as much as you can.  

What would be a reasonable salary range to expect if I entered this field? What is the long-term potential?

I don’t feel qualified to answer this sort of question; it varies so much depending on which sector of the industry you’re in and whether it's for-profit or nonprofit, etc.

This industry has changed dramatically in the past five years. What have you seen from inside your company? Where do you think the changes will happen in the next five years?

You have to be able to adapt to a changing market. All the new business models keep all of us working in the music industry on our toes! The channels will change but most of the principles you learn will remain relevant. I think you need to remain well read in the industry and, more importantly, make it a point to talk to those who can teach you—get a mentor. If you are just starting out, whether you’re an intern or assistant, don’t lose sight of the big picture. If you’re making photocopies for a meeting, one, make those the best copies you’ve ever made, and two, try to figure out how those copies fit into the bigger picture in your company (e.g., can you ask your supervisor what the meeting is about and how it impacts the department/company?). When I was starting out in the industry, I was lucky to have bosses who allowed me to sit in on important meetings and really encouraged me to share my opinions. I know that’s not always the case but wherever possible, participate and be a sponge—soak it all up! Go above and beyond so that your boss never has to ask you twice to do something. 

How has your Berklee experience prepared you for what you are doing today?

Jeff Dorenfeld’s music business class really sparked my interest in being a part of this world. I am very grateful for the well-rounded music education I received. Having been through Berklee as a vocalist, I have a broader understanding of the musician’s perspective when I work with artists. Many of the teachers I studied with had a great impact on me, in particular my voice teacher Catherine Russell, who has remained a friend and mentor. 

Part of my job at Pandora is to host artists when they come in for meetings and in-office acoustic performances and I’ve already had a number of instances where the musicians have been Berklee alumni (and a few graduated the same year as me!). It’s been too fun connecting, and re-connecting with fellow alumni on the job.

If you could offer just one piece of career advice to students, what would it be?  

Have the courage to follow your passion. Today, you might want to be touring the world as a guitarist and in two years you might find that your true joy is in teaching music or marketing artists—go toward whatever speaks the loudest to you. You’ll find that amazing things happen when you do what you love.