Matty Newton is a huge name in the Australian music scene and with a resume like his its easy to see why. Currently thriving in the role of Senior Music Curator with Amazon Music, Matty secured this role in early 2018 after an immense career covering all aspects of the music industry from being a performing musician to a social media manager.
A child in the music industry often involves a few years of success and a tragic fall from grace in the late teen years, but Matty played it well getting his start at just thirteen years old (in 1997) as host/programmer for Fraser Coast 107.5, a local youth program in the Wide Bay region. In 1999 he moved into life as a professional musician, working with some big names over the years including The Veronicas and The Butterfly Effect as an Artist Manager, producer, songwriter, performer and more!
As his career progressed Matty Newton worked his way into a multitude of roles, running social media teams for a large variety of commercial companies including Virgin Airlines and Bundaberg Brewed Drinks pushing massive Social Marketing campaigns, most notable of which would be the Queensland Transport Department’s “Join the Drive” campaign.
With a tonne of experience in communications, music, marketing and who even knows what else with such an extensive career as this, Matty has recently centred his career a bit more closely to the streaming industry. Starting with his role as Music Editor at Pandora, he worked with some of the biggest bands and brands in the music scene today including: Rolling Stone, Splendour In The Grass, BIGSOUND, Alt-J, Sampa The Great, Emma Louise, hell even bloody Kieth Urban! You name them, he’s probably worked with them covering an immense variety of genres. In late 2017 Matty moved on to Amazon Music working as the Senior Music Curator.
Matty has kindly discussed with us an overview of his week and his unique perspective on the whole big bonanza that is the music industry!
Read on below…
A job description in your own words
I am the Senior Music Curator for Australia & New Zealand at Amazon Music. Amazon Music is a streaming service built specifically with a focus on voice activated listening, and currently the 3rd largest on-demand music streaming platform globally. I help guide the direction of all music programming, and also act as a liaison to the music industry (Labels / Managers / Publicists / Artists etc), connecting external and internal stakeholders to continually improve the listening experience for customers.
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A brief daily journal over a week (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday)
With both the ARIA and New Zealand official music charts updating every weekend we get an early start on the week by refreshing our chart based playlists (as well as the Australian National Indigenous Music Charts) on a Sunday so our listeners are always up to date with the latest & greatest whenever they choose to tune in.
Working for a global company means we actually get a little bit of “quiet time” on Monday, as it’s actually still Sunday almost everywhere else in the world! This makes Monday the only (work)day of the week that we don’t wake up to a full day’s worth of emails from the US/UK, which makes it a great time for us to get together as a team and review how all of our programming & editorial features from the previous week have been performing. We start the day with a team meeting reviewing listener data, new releases on the service, and we highlight any programming that our customers have been enjoying. Regular meetings with labels and industry also keep us informed about what is coming out soon that we may want to focus on.
With the rest of the world back online, we hit Tuesday with all guns blazing – it’s time to confirm our programming features for the following Friday, and finalize this week’s update. Marketing, Programming, and Label Relations meet on Tuesdays to lock in all the artwork/asset requests we need for the following Friday’s “flip” (*we call updating our App/webpage each week a flip*). This requires input from all team members, including submitting all of our artist/album/song priorities we would like to have featured on Amazon Music, as well as all of the feature playlists and stations we’re focusing on this week. Any free time is spent meeting with labels, managers, artists and publicists to find out what’s coming up next.
No meeting Wednesdays allow our curation team to really focus on preparing and updating this week’s featured playlists, as well as all of our regular weekly/monthly updates. We have an expansive suite of playlists that feature songs exclusively by Australian and New Zealand artists that we are constantly updating too; good way to try it out is to ask “Alexa, play Australian Rock music” or “Alexa, play New Zealand Hits”. Part of our curation process also involves applying the correct genre, mood, or activity tags, so the right music will play based on your voice utterances/ voice requests via either our own speakers (Echo) or with participating partners (e.g. Sonos)
We flip the front “home page” of our music services overnight on Thursdays. Our curation and merchandising teams work together to pull together all of the new release & features info, design assets, and updated playlists/stations and schedule the entire service to change to a new week of music. Thursday requires extra attention from our team, to make sure everything in the flip goes smoothly, across mobile apps, desktop apps, and web versions of both of our music streaming services (Amazon Music Unlimited, and Prime Music)
Early risers get up! We need to double check everything updated smoothly, all new music is live on the platform, and all artwork/assets are correct and look great too! If anything could go amiss, now is the time, so we’re all extra vigilant early on a Friday morning to make sure everything is cool. Friday is also a great day for me to really feed my inner narcissist and listen to any playlists I’ve updated during the week, feeling a mixture of pride/shame and hoping that our listeners enjoy both the new music, as well as the way we’ve curated it for them! Usually close out the week with some music industry partner meetings.
Challenges and accomplishments in your week
It’s a great challenge working for a global company, and working in an area focused on voice activations, which is brand new, is double rewarding. We’ve already launched 2 brand new music services in ANZ, and watching our customers get used to and embrace using their voices (instead of their fingers/phones) to play the music they want to hear is awesome. “Alexa, play me sad Madonna songs”. Yay!
Highlights of the week
So much new music and so many inspirational artists, all creating new and exciting brand new secret things I get to wrap my ears around.
Lowlights of the week
SO MUCH NEW MUSIC ALL THE TIME! Haha. It makes me anxious to think we might miss a great track, or hidden gem! Also, having to dial in to global curation meetings early in the morning isn’t the best thing in the world, but with a job like this I’m certainly not complaining.
Don’t want to be one of those missed tracks? Head to our courses on streaming and digital distribution to learn about optimising your digital success!
Words of wisdom for people considering a job in your field
Be nice and mean it. Practice, practice, and then keep practicing. Always be learning something new, and try really hard to sharpen the skills you’ve already got. We really overestimate how much we can achieve in a year, but drastically underestimate how much can be achieved in 5 years. Make a plan, work toward it, keep improving, keep moving, and eventually you’ll get there.
Dream small, Act big… Its an essential in this industry!
Matty will be speaking at the next CHANGES Festival, be sure to check it out!