Aston graduate breaks into the music industry
Aston Business School graduate Sunjay Kohli is currently working at BMG The New Music Group as an Account Manager following completing his BSc (Hons) International Business and Management degree. Here he describes life since graduating from Aston University, and all the steps he took to successfully work in the music industry.
Sunjay Kohli graduated from Aston University in 2017 with a first class degree in International Business and Management specialising in communication and Spanish. Sunjay’s life-long passion is music, and his ultimate career goal was always to work in the music industry. His first role as a graduate was a year-long internship at Ticketmaster International in London. This provided Sunjay with an insight into the business aspect of music and gave him much needed experience, which helped him in gaining his next role at Warner Music Group.
Warner music is one of the "big three" recording companies and home to a collection of the best known record labels in the music industry. Sunjay worked for the company as a Marketing and Digital Assistant for two years. During his time there he gained a wealth of experience and industry knowledge and felt ready to take the next step in his career.
Working at BMG
In the summer of 2020, Sunjay began a new and exciting venture working as an Account Manager at BMG: The New Music Company. BMG is a ‘new kind of music company for a new world’, championing transparent and fair deals, and ensuring service to artists and writers is key.
Sunjay’s role is to bridge the gap between the artists that BMG represents and the platform YouTube, by expertly managing the relationship between the two. Sunjay works directly with all UK based artists on BMG’s frontline label in order to optimise their platform and presence on YouTube.
YouTube is constantly changing and bringing out new features and Sunjay must make the most out of these features so that each individual artist is able to achieve the vision they have for their album or new track. He is excited for this fantastic opportunity and is looking forward to what the future holds in this role.
Sunjay is proud that he has managed to forge a career within the music industry. He says, “you look at the charts and so much of it is non-white artists and culture. Then you look in the buildings and it is not representative of that diversity”. Although things are changing for the better, this is an issue that still needs to be addressed, and Sunjay is grateful that he is able to represent his background and culture and bring much needed diversity to the industry.
Sunjay has always been involved with music journalism, a passion that really took off during his first year of University. Upon attending a networking event in Birmingham in order to meet like-minded people, he met his (late) friend Izzes Gayle, and the two began collaborating. This resulted in the creation of the incredibly successful NUBI Magazine in 2017.
In Birmingham at the time, Sunjay felt there weren’t enough opportunities for beginners to crack into creative industries and gain experience. This was the aim of NUBI magazine, to be a platform for young creatives to contribute content and build up their own portfolios.
Sunjay and Izzes began by putting calls out to recruit writers to contribute to their website. They gained a lot of traction, and the magazine went from strength to strength from then on. Eventually, NUBI Magazine grew to the point where over 60 collaborators were contributing content on a weekly basis and the content branched out to not just music but also culture, fashion and tech.
Sunjay is proud of his achievements with NUBI magazine. The experience taught him that when people who believe in the same vision and goals work together, anything is possible.
Although NUBI Magazine is no longer running, Sunjay has continued working in music journalism. Alongside his role at BMG, he works as an Associate Editor for A Nation of Billions, an online music publication focused on Rap and R&B music. Through this role, Sunjay has interviewed some of the biggest artists in the UK and US, including the likes of Roy Wood$, Steel Banglez, Baka Not Nice, M Huncho, Hardy Caprio and many more.
The placement year
When asked why he chose to study at Aston University, Sunjay states, “the main selling point for me was the placement year and the opportunity to go abroad”.
Sunjay completed his placement year in Vietnam, working as a marketing executive for VNUK Institute of Research and Executive Education, a University located in the city of Danang. Although Sunjay applied for placements in Europe, he felt a calling to travel further out to a completely different country he knew little about. So, when he discovered the opportunity to work in Vietnam on Aston Futures, he knew he had to apply.
Sunjay loved his time in Vietnam, and got involved with as much as possible whilst there. He became a founding committee member for the Initiative for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University. This project provided support to students in the early stages of idea and business model generation. He also supported with FabLab, a creative workshop and co-operative space for making, which was run by one of the VNUK University professors.
The year in Vietnam gave Sunjay more of an international perspective. He says, “I learned how big the world is, how different places can be and how you can go anywhere and do anything. There is so much untapped potential in these markets.”
Advice for future students
Sunjay’s advice to prospective Aston University students is to make the most out of your studies but also where you are living.
“Aston University is an entrepreneurial place, a lot of alumni have started their own enterprises and businesses, so embrace the University culture and make connections”
He also advises that if you have the chance to complete a placement, grab it with both hands, as it can often be the most valuable part of your degree.
Words by Sophie Rafiq