Ed Rivadavia - AEMM Graduate - Music Business
Ed is an accomplished AEMM graduate with quite the resume. An internship with Polygram Group Distribution, led him to a full time job as Regional Promotion Manager at A&M Records after graduation. From there, Ed moved to New York where he worked as Head of Web Marketing & Promotion Manager at Wind-up Records, Head of Digital Marketing Services at Palm Pictures, Director of New Media for Roadrunner Records, and Senior Director of Digital Marketing at RCA/JIVE Label Group (Sony Music). Ed recently relocated to Austin, TX and is now the Senior Director of Interactive at Mood Media.
Tell us about yourself.
I was born and raised in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and had the opportunity to live outside New York City, in Caracas, Venezuela and Milan, Italy between the ages of 9-16, following my father’s work in marketing with General Foods. I attended a local university in Brazil where I majored in Business Administration, essentially following in my father’s footsteps for lack of a better idea. I’d become a complete music fanatic during my teens, especially while living in Italy, and eventually decided to try avoiding a lifetime of wearing suits in corporate environments by breaking into the music business.
I began researching existing master programs in the U.S. and was excited to find Columbia’s AEMM program, which appeared to suit my goals. I dropped everything back in Brazil, traveled to Chicago on a tourist visa in August of 1994 and received my student visa after being accepted into the program.
I am currently the Senior Director of Interactive at Mood Media (formerly DMX, Inc.), where I oversee the implementation of technical innovations and act as a music industry relations liaison seeking to bring artist and content opportunities to brands, and brand opportunities to artists, labels, managers and other music business entities.
How did your experience in Columbia’s AEMM department prepare you for your career?
Columbia, and its professors, provided me with practical preparation for what laid ahead; combining sound fundamentals about the music business with common, and uncommon, sense with which to cope with the music industry’s unpredictable quirks and twists of fate, as well as its extreme highs and lows. The broad range of mentorship taught me the importance of paying one’s dues, hustling constantly, never sitting back on one’s laurels and most importantly, being flexible about constant change--which is necessary in all lines of work thanks to technology’s fast advance.
Do you have advice for current students?
Be ready to adapt and reinvent yourself as business conditions dictate; nothing lasts forever, or even 6 months, in the world of entertainment. Pursue several angles and opportunities in your career whenever possible rather than hitching your horse to just one wagon. Invest in building relationships and doing right by them; like everything in life, but especially in the music business, it’s all about who you know and whether they’ll still take your call.
Find a balance between art as a career and as a hobby; it’s not worth losing your passion because of the mundane realities of the business. If you can make a living from working with the arts AND have a personal creative outlet, you’ll be a happy person.
What are some of Columbia’s strengths?
For me, it was Columbia’s no-nonsense, make your own plan, nose-to-the-grindstone approach. I’m thankful to the coordinator who encouraged me to start interning right away instead of waiting until my final 6 months, which I think was instrumental in landing me my first industry job. I think Columbia’s flexibility to support the student’s particular interests really helps guide the student down his/her path more successfully. For example, Columbia let someone passionate enough to write a 130-page thesis about Frank Zappa do just that, rather than 80 pages about something else. Also, the diversity of the student body, which came from all walks of life and origin, made me feel at home, rather than like some Brazilian oddity.