Member Spotlight #19: Maddy Salvage, Senior A&R at Ninja Tune, Los Angeles

Maddy Salvage has made her own place in the electronic music industry, and is now playing a key role in the ongoing growth of leading independent music label, Ninja Tune, from their office in Los Angeles. [Interview by Alix Vadot]

“I get emotionally attached to my work, and I wanted somewhere that would appreciate that side of me, where I could really make a difference.”

Maddy is now a leader within the label and speaks with great pride of the label’s achievements over the past five years. With four Grammy nominations this past year, a #3 record in the U.S. Billboard, 2 recent Mercury Prize wins, the label has defied the sudden changes that have come with the digital age and has remained dedicated to being, first and foremost, a label by and for artists. The fact that “it never really feels stagnant” is an important factor behind why Maddy has stayed there so long. “It’s a good time to be part of the team.” Her evolving relationships with the artists and staff at Ninja Tune have helped her land a position as Senior A&R today.

“Despite all the noise surrounding mental health, particularly with women and music, in today’s climate, […] there are significantly less senior female A&Rs than men, and I still feel like I run in to issues because of my sex on a fairly regular basis.”

An ability to say no, a general confidence in one’s worth, and an awareness of the need to detach oneself from one’s work, says Maddy, is crucial to mental health, and absolutely necessary for a balanced career in A&R. To give an idea of how much times have changed, exactly, Ninja Tune started with very few women on the team, and now has a North American branch ran, essentially, entirely by women (the staff is also roughly 75% women). “As someone who has suffered with anxiety and depression, I’m thrilled that people are talking so much more openly about this topic now than they were ten years ago.”

“Knowing to trust your own taste, your intuition and your own decisions is so key.”

At the same time, Maddy says A&R professionals need to question everything. She ties this philosophy back to her studying in history in University — “I’ve always really relied on hard evidence.” Passion is important, of course, but looking at hard facts is also part of the decision-making process. “You need the ability to detach yourself from your own tastes and look at what is happening outside of the industry and the tastemaker press.”

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