Rising star: James Lee

James Lee: “Who said vinyl was dead?”

In Rising Star this week, we meet Island's senior e-commerce & CRM manager, James Lee...

How did you break into the industry?
I started off by securing a year in industry placement at Warner Music Group within the D2C department. I really enjoyed my time there and straight away I decided that I wanted to get into music. So, I went back to university to finish off my studies and then I went straight into a role at Universal Music Group working in the D2C team. It’s great to work in an industry that you have so much passion for.

Why is E-Commerce important to the music industry?
We live in a world where people are shopping online for everything. We know there is massive competition out there, so we want to give our fans and customers a great shopping experience when they visit our stores, the opportunities are endless in giving them a completely seamless ride, from when they arrive, right to the checkout page. We also want to make sure we are giving our customers exclusive product offerings that they cannot get on any other online store, such as signed items or coloured vinyl.

What is the number one benefit of D2C?
Working directly with the artists, management and labels is probably the number one benefit. We can all work together to grow a shared vision for the store. In a chart battle, we can really make a difference in getting the artist to that No.1 spot. I also manage an online vinyl store. We specialise in limited, coloured and exclusive vinyl including boxsets. Who said vinyl was dead!

What has surprised you most about the music industry so far?
The comeback of the cassette! Who’d have predicted that one, I know I wouldn’t have a few years ago. The number of artists now selling a cassette on their official stores is phenomenal. I am now pitching the idea of a cassette to artist managers and the commercial team here at Universal because they are working. I don’t think anyone is playing them, it’s more of a collector’s piece. I don’t know anyone who has a tape deck. On the campaigns I work on, I am trying to drive physical sales, so it’s great that it’s working for us. BRB, off to buy a tape deck!

What is your dream music industry job?
I have lucked out in what I am doing right now. I get to work on campaigns for artists that I love, such as The Weeknd, Drake and Post Malone. I love the idea of working with artist managers and the commercial team at Island on pitching ideas of merchandise. Bringing a product idea to life physically is exciting. If it sells well, then I know we have done a good job.


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