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Samuel Arvidsson is the latest addition to Berklee’s campus in Valencia, Spain. Starting this semester, Arvidsson coteaches Record Practicum, a course from the Master of Arts in Global Entertainment and Music Business program. He accepted the position after an invitation by program director Emilien Moyon to join the Berklee family. “The first time [Moyon] and I spoke about this possibility was in 2013, but there were no opportunities where we could see a good fit,” Arvidsson remembers. In the summer of 2015, Arvidsson visited Marty Frascogna, who also teaches at Berklee, and he put Moyon and Arvidsson in touch. “Emilien called me in April 2016 and asked me if I was interested in joining his team in Valencia. I was very honored and said yes on the spot,” says Arvidsson.
Born in India but raised in Stockholm, Sweden, Arvidsson started collecting records at the age of 14. “CeCe Peniston’s ‘Finally’, Robert Owens’ ‘I’ll Be Your Friend,’ and Alison Limerick’s ‘Where Love Lives’ were the first records I bought, but I’ve never really stopped after that,” he recalls. His eclectic Spotify playlist is a testament to a musical education which started with Mozart, Abba, and the Beatles to then progress into other realms.
With extensive experience leading sales and marketing departments of record labels like EMI, Warner, and since last summer, Universal, Arvidsson explains that he started to pursue a career in these areas when he was a teenager. “When I was 14 or 15, I read a lot about marketing and advertising because I was convinced I would end up at an ad agency and was truly passionate about branding,” he says. Arvidsson worked for several agencies, but when the dot-com crash happened, clients pulled back their spending. “I got a job at BMG Music as head of radio and then it just went from there,” he recalls.
Record Practicum: Extensive Theory and Real-Life Situations
At his current job as commercial director at Universal Music Group, Arvidsson oversees the teams working in digital marketing, insight, innovation, customer relationship management, social media, radio, playlists, and digital sales. From his perspective, the keys for a record label to be able to withstand trends and the ups-and-downs common in any industry is the optimum combination of finance and personnel resources. “Essentially, we generate cash flow for artists to make music and we also have specialists in artist development, marketing, analysis, supply chain, or access to media that enables artists to launch sustainable careers globally,” Arvidsson shares.
His experience comes in handy for the Record Practicum course he teaches together with Benjamin Costantini. Designed to combine extensive theory with real-life situations, the course provides students with diverse professional perspectives, once governing theories and big trends have been set at the start of the semester: “We want students to have the lens of a product manager/A&R at a major or boutique label. Regardless of who you are in the music industry, you will deal with these figures, so it’s important to know how they operate since they manage budgets, marketing, promotion, and timelines,” Arvidsson says.
Students will also be given a taste of life after school with the addition of a practicum-layer with Disrupción Records, Berklee Valencia's student-run record label, with a compilation which will be released this spring.
Arvidsson has taught and lectured over the years and explains that he aims to provide “interactivity” to his sessions. “It’s important to remember that there are a lot of moving parts that decision makers, as our students will become, need to put into the equation as executives,” he says.
So far, he is enjoying a smooth landing at Valencia, and he describes his students as “ambitious” and as a group of people who are “genuinely passionate about working with artists and their music.” He praises Moyon’s approach to make the latter possible, something he believes benefits students, labels, management, and publishers because “they can hit the ground running.”
“I am very happy to give more attention to teaching and the academic side of life in addition to my time at labels. It’s inspirational to be in this environment and meet so many talented teachers and students on so many levels,” Arvidsson says.