Nicole Otero M.M. ’19: From Student-led Record to Huge Independent Label
Nicole Otero likes to think of herself as a sponge—she is always trying to absorb ideas from the people around her. It’s a quality to which she attributes so much of her success since leaving Berklee Valencia in 2019.
Indeed, in her role as the international marketing coordinator for Secretly Group—a world-renowned stable of record labels featuring Jagjaguwar, Secretly Canadian, and Saddest Factory Labels—Otero is constantly learning. She works with a roster of international stars such as Phoebe Bridgers, Mitski, Bon Iver, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Khruangbin,whom she is responsible for promoting in key markets outside the United States, including Europe, Australia, and Asia.
It’s an exciting, varied role where no two projects are identical.
“There are so many different things that we're getting to do, from huge cinema showings to very small underground shows. There's a huge scope of projects.”
Her day-to-day activities cover a broad range, too. “It's mostly liaising with all the different sides of the marketing team. So anything from digital to advertising, community management, audience, retail.”
This year, her work with the artist Mitski has been a particular highlight, helping the song “My Love Mine All Mine” chart in the UK’s top 10.
Otero studied business as an undergraduate at Rollins College in Florida, and knew that she wanted to combine her education with her passion for promoting music. The only issue was finding a course that met her goals.
Thanks to Berklee Valencia's breadth and diversity of courses, she found what she was looking for.
“There are not many programs in the world that teach that [music marketing] at a master's level. When I got accepted, I was super, super excited,” says Otero.
Otero graduated from the Master of Arts in global entertainment and music business program at Berklee Valencia in 2019 but felt fully prepared to launch her career after her time at the college.
She thrived on the creative side of the program, bringing business ideas to life and developing them under the guidance of professors with expertise from all over the music industry.
While at Berklee Valencia, she played a significant role in Disrupción Records, a student-led record label that models real-world record labels—signing and promoting acts with real targets, budgets, and objectives. At the same time, the label would form part of a thesis for the participating students, giving them both academic and real-world experience.
Otero’s role at the label involved a lot of outreach to promote bands with limited budgets.“ I was dealing with external PR companies and radio people, and just cold calling people, that type of thing. I also organized digital spending and did a little bit of social media management,” she says.
Many of these skills translate to her current role at Secretly Group, and Otero credits Berklee for her a well-rounded introduction to the music industry, especially its focus on networking.
“Berklee really prepared us for the networking side of things and being able to take care of our relationships. So many of the speakers I met at Berklee Valencia are still my friends,” she says.
But it wasn’t just the program that helped Otero develop in her role. During her year at Berklee Valencia, Otero fell in love with the city for its creative energy and endless opportunities for live music.
“A couple of friends and I did some [music] nights in bars and other venues. A couple of us did DJ sets, too. We low-key became promoters without knowing it, which was cool,” she says. “It was an all-around experience.”
Otero’s journey came full circle earlier this year when she returned to Berklee Valencia to talk about career insights and marketing in the music industry. Since she graduated, Ortero has been regularly approached by students for advice, and she's happy to connect them with people who can help.
“I see myself in the students. It's kind of nice to see yourself in the mirror. It’s nice to be able to help other students and return the favor.”