Why Millennial Talent Matters: A Music Industry Perspective

July 24, 2017

By Elliot Lum

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At Columbia Records, I had the chance to work with incredible talent. Adele. Beyoncé. Rachel Platten. One Direction. Passion Pit. Ruth B. The lifeblood of the music business is talent. It's about discovering talent and then letting that talent connect with an audience. At the label, everyone, no matter how big or small their role, exhibited a real sense of pride about making an artist successful.

Most of the artists we worked with were millennial talent. Most of the label staff who worked on promoting these artists were also millennials. Among these groups, I saw wonderful chemistry and an active exchange of ideas that pushed the creative boundaries about how to break through the clutter and get artists known. This process wasn't just to vie for people's attention. It was a chance to vie for the affection of millennial music fans who wanted to find the next big artist and tell their friends about what they discovered. Music is the ultimate word-of-mouth industry. Find something you love and pass it on.

There was a real belief in what this millennial talent could achieve. That was at the heart of every campaign. It is this spirit that I've taken to this role in talent strategy and program development at the ANA's Educational Foundation. The mission of the foundation is to be the bridge between the advertising, marketing, and academic communities. My focus is to inspire and educate the next generation of talent and have them consider this industry as a potential career path. It is one of the most rewarding, exciting, and entrepreneurial fields today. But we haven't done a great job of telling that story to this next generation of talent.

Much of my inspiration comes from seeing how the entire staff at Columbia Records got behind a talented artist. What drives me today is facilitating better ways for the next generation of talent to find the career path that most takes advantage of their skills, passion, and talents. I feel very fortunate to be in a position to help author research studies and create programming that could impact the career decisions that students make. I do believe that talent matters, and it's our responsibility as an industry to make a commitment to the next generation of talent. After all, that's who will become the leaders of the future marketing and advertising industry.


Elliot Lum is the head of talent strategy and program development at the ANA Educational Foundation.

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