How to make it in the music industry according to MTV

Anna Karatziva is the Head of Talent and Music at MTV in the UK - what she doesn't know about the music industry isn't worth knowing.


Anna Karatziva is the Head of Talent and Music at MTV in the UK - what she doesn't know about the music industry isn't worth knowing.

Words by Victoria Fell

With a recent study finding that the music industry still remains 'a man's world', it is more important than ever for women to know how to get ahead in this male-dominated scene.

We spoke to industry guru Anna Karatziva to get her advice on the best way to progress in the music scene. In her role as Head of Talent and Music at MTV, Anna acts as primary liaison between MTV’s music channels and the industry and has worked with artists such as Linkin Park and Plan B. On top of this, Anna previously spent eight years at the BBC working on live events for Radio 1, 1Xtra and the Concert Orchestra.


She gave us her top tips for making it in the music industry:

Aim high, but be prepared to start low and work hard

'The music industry is fiercely competitive and blaggers don't get far. You've got to earn your right to be part of it and do the hard the work.'

Know your music

'All kinds of music, not just the artists you happen to like. In-depth music knowledge and appreciation of different genres makes it easier to relate to the artists and what drives them. A shared passion for music really helps break down barriers and show’s that you not only love what you do, but you care.'

Stay calm and professional

'You've got to stay cool when you meet famous musicians and if things aren't going your way, focus on solutions. It's not always easy, but when the pressure's on, you can either earn respect or lose it fast.'

Dress appropriately

'I know a bit of glamour is fine, but if you're working on a live event you could be on your feet for most of the day and night, so being comfortable is crucial. That usually means trainers or wedges rather than heels, and make up that's easy to touch up.'


Ellie Goulding performing at the 2015 MTV EMAs

Believe in yourself (and be yourself)

'In such a fast-moving, ever-changing industry everyone ends up in the deep end at some point. When that happens you've got to draw on all your experiences and resilience to be confident and just deal with the situation in the best way you can.'

Listen and be respectful

'I've been fortunate to meet many amazing, creative people throughout my career, and I've learnt a huge amount from them. I see some people trying hard to impress or be cool, but you've got to listen and keep an open mind. A bit of simple respect and enthusiasm goes a long way to building good relationships.'

Don't be afraid of saying no

'You can't please everyone all of the time, so you've got to know your priorities for every project. Of course, there are times you have to compromise but you've also got to be firm, otherwise some people will just try to take advantage. In the end, people will have respect for you if you know when and how to say no.'


Charli XCX at the 2015 MTV EMAs

Build your network within the industry

'Invest the time to meet your contacts in person and try to get to events when they come up. Don't go crazy - if you're going to gigs too you'll soon burn out if you overdo it - but show your face, make the effort to have a chat and always say thank you afterwards.'

Don't take it personally

'Music can be very subjective, and differences of opinion about what will or won't work for a particular audience, event or channel are common. You've got to listen and then communicate in what you believe in and develop a thick skin, because not everyone will agree with you.'

Keep a good balance

'The industry can be a bit all-consuming, and if you're passionate about music it's easy for it to dominate your life. For me, it's crucial to compartmentalise my work and switch off. My family is my priority whenever I'm not working, but me-time is also important, so I try to do yoga in the mornings and mediate before bed. Just 10 minutes makes all the difference.'

Enjoy it!

'The music industry can be a crazy place and it asks a lot of you, but it's also full of amazing opportunities and incredible experiences. To succeed, you've got to love it.'

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