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Sonya Skinner
Propelling Fatman Scoop into the UK charts and central to Eminem's breakthrough on this side of the Atlantic, Sonya Skinner of Skinny can certainly claim to know how to maximise marketing and promotion.

Marketing people have to be plugged into every element of an artist's development, making sure their vision is correctly represented through logos, sleeve design and videos. This means you are in day-to-day contact with the whole team from legal and sales to the artists, managements and agents. You must look at the acts as brands, and make sure the press and promotion people know where best to advertise each release and push for media coverage.

You can't just pick up a book and learn how to market music. I knew that it was marketing that most appealed to me right from my first venture into music, as a work placement role at Island Records press office, while still studying. It was my first time in an office and I spent most my time just learning the basics of how to use the equipment and how people communicated. Island gave me a very valuable taste of how major labels ran.

My first job was as junior secretary (talk about starting at the bottom!) for a Warner Music manager who was responsible for Madonna, REM and Prince and at that time some of the biggest acts on the planet. In this job dealing with label copy, sleeves and print and design processes to internal communication, you have to learn to pick up what you can as it is likely that you will be working in a pressured environment. However you must always ask questions if there is something you don't understand.

Moving eventually on to become a product manager at RCA for Loud Records (Wu-Tang Clan, Mobb Deep, Funkmaster Flex) and Parousia the Jungle label (DJ Hype & Tru Playerz), I worked with very tight budgets as urban music at that time was still viewed as a specialist area. When you have small budgets to promote your releases you learn very quickly what is effective. You have to hustle for the best rates for magazine advertising space, push your sales team to get the best in-stores placements and negotiating good deals with designers and promoters. If you are pushing for deals make sure you know the boundaries of what you are talking about.

I certainly cannot take the sole credit for breaking Eminem, Dr Dre, Eve, Wu-Tang Clan or Busta Rhymes here in the UK but I did make enormous efforts to make sure the whole team understood where the artist was coming from, what possible barriers we would come up against and what were realistic targets. Most importantly I made them feel enthused about the product, giving them a sense of ownership. Being a product manager you are the person for making sure everything from marketing to manufacturing run smoothly. It is a demanding role, which requires a great deal of commitment, but believe me for any music lover it has its perks!

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