Columbia A&R manager Muna Ruumi talks about her journey through the industry so far and her mission to elevate black artists and executives...
How did you get into music?
“I got into music at 16 through a radio show I hosted on a community station in Birmingham where I would play local and regional talent. I played music from outside London and tipped artists that I felt would blow up. I became someone that people would reach out to, whether managers or A&Rs, to ask what was going on in Birmingham. I also was the person who would connect the dots between artists and managers with labels and radio. I then got to do work experience with DJ Target at BBC Radio 1Xtra, who took me on as a scout for his label imprint Pitched Up – which goes through Columbia Records – and went on to work on Lotto Boyzz’s No Don and signed Mastermind. I would always keep my ear to the ground, and I was early in tipping OFB and M1llionz.”
What’s the best thing about A&R?
“Since being at Columbia, I’ve stuck to my foundations of championing talent from outside London and have been able to sign some really exciting artists from around the UK. I get to push music I enjoy and help artists develop into household names. You get to give young rappers opportunities and help them achieve things. It’s a great feeling when you set up a session with an artist and a producer who you think will make a banger and then they end up making one. That’s always a fun thing to see.”
A lot of young people think and understand music differently
What impact do you want to make?
“I want to be able to open doors for people coming up in the industry, specifically black people. To be able to break black music, predominately rap.”
How different will the industry look in five years?
“There’s a lot of young people who think and understand music differently, and I believe they will impact the way things work, as many teams are finding new ways of creating space in the industry. Their methods may differ from traditional approaches, but they work all the same. A lot of artists, managers and teams are a lot more knowledgeable, they know what they want and will strive to make it happen by forging new avenues, so we’ll see a lot more success from younger execs. Black music will keep getting bigger and bigger and we’ll have a lot more homegrown artists considered as pop stars in the coming years.”
What’s your top tip for getting through lockdown?
“Eating. All I’ve been doing is eating and watching Insecure.”
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