Balancing the Grind with Calum Anderson, Creator Partnerships & YouTube Optimization at Universal Music Group

Calum Anderson works at Universal Music Group where he focuses on running creator partnerships and YouTube optimisation for creator and artist talent.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

10 years ago I was making YouTube videos in my bedroom, little did I know that every industry would eventually be attacking this space!

Throughout all my work the thinking has always been ‘internet first’, if that’s for content, audience building, selling services/products or even networking. All my engagements have looked through an internet first lens, slowly the world seems to be now catching up.

The general career journey, like most, has been far from a linear path. Starting on YouTube back in 2010 I was creating gaming videos for the Machinima Network, which at the time was the #1 Entertainment Company on the internet.

I was handling all aspects of recording, voiceover, cameras, editing and marketing, though at that time I did not know what I was doing would fall under ‘marketing’. From there I bounced around freelancing and then landed at GoPro, again another internet first company.

While working there I was also starting my own video agency and eventually left as I was able to run that full time. Today I sit at Universal Music Group running YouTube strategies for artists/labels and running Creator Partnerships to join the dots between online creator talent and artist talent.

I’ve gone full circle and ended up back at my roots in the fast paced online world of content and online creators to combine with music, it’s an incredible space!

2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

I can’t not mention Zoom here, internet first. Day to day there’s a lot of Q&A on email and Zoom in order to really optimise artist projects and enable all the dots to align for their YouTube presence, this really skyrocketed with COVID and the change in reaching audiences.

Then there’s a big element of conversations with online talent and managers, I’m constantly inspired and shocked that these top tier creators aren’t really talking to anyone in the music industry and so that’s a big area I’m putting all my chips into.

With online creator talent like Wilbur Soot out-trending Taylor Swift, people are starting to notice. The creator/influencer world often has weird sleep schedules of their own and can be anywhere in the world.

Often I’m always telling artists to be ‘always on’ with their content output but often I need to be always on with the DMs. Copyright claims, collaborations, promotion, livestreams and other content conversations often take up a lot of my time.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

I’m incredibly fortunate to have worked remotely for the vast majority of my career, running my own video agency was definitely a learning curve in flexibility and time-management.

I was lucky to have gone through that learning curve earlier in my career before COVID and extra lucky that my work now still revolves around remote meetings and emails.

There’s definitely some social aspects that are missed like short 5 minute catch ups over lunch which are hard to replicate. It’s not for everyone but I enjoy a flexible working environment, the ability to schedule your day can be very productive if you can do your best work on your own schedule.

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

I try to own every decision on how I spend my time so that the balance is my choice. I’m young and passionate about what I do, so I’m happy to have work as more of a priority right now.

I’m lucky to be working in an industry that is very creative and with fun events to help balance out that work-life thing while sort of ‘working’.

5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

Like a lot of people I started 2020 with a “new decade, let’s get to work” type attitude for life. There were a couple of setbacks. It’s early days but I’ve started really owning a morning routine but it’s not the end of the world if you miss it for a day or two. Meditation and a coffee in the sun with a book, best way to start the day feeling wholesome and positive about the day.

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

Here we go. I’m a big consumer of Tim Ferriss’ work and I love his attitude to life, his podcast is great as I’m sure you may have heard. I would actually recommend curating Twitter feeds for on-the-pulse information.

Find the niche communities and people tweeting about it, then add those people to a ‘list’ and check in every now and then (just don’t buy all their courses). You can see mine on Twitter @andersoncalum.

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

A portable speaker, my guitar and Aldi’s blue cheese. Then on a more serious note – Evernote.

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?

Anyone with a personal brand. Artists, movie stars, business leaders, etc. The kind of people who are always on, as in a small way they are paid to be themselves.

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

I find that balance is a conscious choice, you’re the one choosing to jump on a call at 1AM or go out to drinks at 5PM. Personally it’s still something I need to get better at but even constantly reminding myself is a big help to destress about the work-life topic. Clocks ticking!

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.