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To keep up with the latest trends in the music industry, Berklee’s campus in Valencia, Spain, regularly invites top-notch professionals and innovators to teach a course that provides a deeper understanding of the insights these experts have mastered through professional practice. The latest addition is Stef Pascual, head of digital at Red Essential, a division of Sony Entertainment UK that provides physical and digital product management, sales, marketing, and label services for artists and record labels. She recently joined faculty in the Master of Arts in Global Entertainment and Music Business program to share the nuts and bolts of all things digital in her Digital Marketing Strategy and Social Media Management course, which she started teaching for the summer semester.
Today, bands and labels need to think digital, according to Pascual, allowing them to plan with more flexibility and reduce the lead times that traditional release campaigns require. “It’s also easier to see the correlation between marketing activity and goals now, so more and more labels understand now that a proper digital strategy is an absolute key for success,” she adds.
Pascual is from Zaragoza, Spain. Music has been part of her life since she taped songs from the radio on a Playskool cassette recorder. “I was around 8 years old, and I still remember the lyrics to all my favorite songs from back then, as the player had a mic. Much to the dismay to my family, I’d sing my lungs out to all of them,” she recalls. Working in the industry was always her aim, but as she explains, after eight years playing the keyboard and several attempts at the bass guitar, she realized she had “no musical talent whatsoever.” Instead, she opted for a “behind-the-scenes” job to develop her music career.
With this is mind, she moved to Barcelona to study advertising and public relations. After working at House Party Records in the Spanish city, she continued her studies in London, England, at City University and City Literary Institute, specializing in project management, management, and leadership. Before joining Red Essential, Pascual worked at the music company The state51 Conspiracy, where she led its digital department. Her current job is as fluid as the digital world. “My role has changed a lot in the last two years; it’s important to be flexible in the industry,” she says. “First, it was focused on digital strategy, operations, and licensing. Lately, it’s mostly related to digital marketing campaigns and working as a team, defining the strategy for releases we distribute with the rest of the departments.”
Academic Background and Real-Life Examples
Pascual ended up in Valencia after Martin Goldschmidt, founder of Cooking Vinyl—an independent record label in the UK—mentioned her name to program director Emilien Moyon at last year’s Midem, the leading business event for the international music industry. “He was looking for someone for a one-off session on digital marketing. I did that in September and I ended up coming back in summer for the course I’m lecturing at,” Pascual says.
This is her first teaching experience. “I love it! It is really exhausting to prepare all the materials, but once I’m in class time flies. I really enjoy it, and I find it very inspiring as the students are absolutely brilliant,” she says.
Pascual explains that her classes are split between content and group work, where she combines academic background and principles with real-life examples. By the end of the course, students will deliver a digital marketing plan for a real artist, which will serve as a layout for other acts or events they might work on in the future.
To keep students updated with the latest tools of her field, she points to three trends she calls an “exciting reality” in digital marketing: artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and how data transparency is finally being implemented throughout the supply chain across the industry.