Making it in Music: A Conversation with Selina Webb

Selina Webb, now the Executive Vice President of Universal Music UK, has been in the music industry for most of her working career, working her way up through the ranks turning her hand to many different roles. I had the pleasure of talking with her as we discussed her career, a women's place in the industry, but most of all, how she made it in music.


 

Selina's career grew from her initial passion for music, as she spent her youth singing in choirs and playing the guitar, but it also emerged from her love for literature. Webb suggests that she was privileged to be exposed to a female written music column in her local paper and even questioned "if there had been no female journalists on that paper would I have realised that that was a job that I could do?". Having such a role model encouraged her to venture down to the local paper and enquire about work experience. Painting a picture of an old cinema-style office, depicting a man with a cigar in his mouth, Selina recalls feeling a little out of place as she enquired about how she would become a music journalist. She was told she was too young and to come back in a couple of years; so that is what she did and she ended up writing the music column for her local paper. These first steps into the music industry allowed her to write articles and indulge her passion for music as she watched live bands at local music nights, she states 'it wasn't until I started seeing all of these live bands I realised there was a whole industry around [music]'. From writing for her local paper Selina moved to Music Week, where she stayed for ten years and reached the role of Editor before being asked to work in Polydor's Press office. As the Director of Press at Polydor Selina managed artist reputations for the likes of Girls Aloud and The Black Eyed Peas. It was from here that she moved to a more central role in Polydor’s parent company, Universal Music.

Upon leaving school Webb did not realise the expanse of the music industry, but this rapidly changed and her career has broadened, allowing her to interact with many different aspects of music. Selina serves on the BPI Council and is part of the team that considers Universal Music UK’s corporate social responsibility as they strive to offset their travel and reduce their carbon footprint. Selina's job has also allowed her to consider the social and medical impact of music as she has worked to provide opportunities for those studying at ELAM as well as work around music and dementia and neurodiversity in the creative industries. More recently Webb, alongside Rebecca Allen, was a showrunner for the 2021 BRITs, 'an exhilarating' and 'daunting' experience, one that hung in the balance amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Throughout her time as showrunner, there were times where Webb was unaware if the 2021 BRITs would be given the go-ahead, overcoming each obstacle Webb and Allen conducted a BRITs awards for the history books as it was attended by many NHS staff as thanks to our frontline Covid-Workers. Her career so far has certainly reached many aspects of the industry. The widening of Webb's roles does not only show the nuances of the music industry but also highlights the changing face of the industry as technology and trends influence pop culture and music consumption.

Webb noted that being on the face of the NME used to be the 'Holy Grail' on an artists journey to success yet 'now there's a whole world of other ways an artist can get going'. The growth of social media platforms is consistently influencing the music we consume and changing the roles available in the industry. Selina suggests this rapid change can give those in entry-level roles, fresh to the industry, a kind of power, as having a greater knowledge of current trends and media consumption can give you a valued and different perspective to your seniors. After providing insight on her own path in music, I asked Selina what her advice would be for those new to the industry. She noted that first and foremost, to make it in music, you need a genuine passion for music. This might sound obvious, however, music is something most people love and consume on a daily basis, so being able to completely indulge yourself in the industry is important. Like most employees in any walk of industry, the music industry calls for hard-working and driven workers, here Selina utilises the term 'super-dedicated, you should be efficient, helpful, and attentive to your profession and be able to enjoy it too. Webb, herself, has never really thought about her work 'as a career, it’s been exciting fast-moving the whole time'.


 

You can read more about Selina's work at UMG here.

Or if you think you'd like to follow in her footsteps you can access UMG's careers page here.

 

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