Job of the Month #15: President and managing director

New episode of our Job of the Month series to discover the many facets of the music industry. This month, Clarisse Arnou, head of UPFI, Yotanka and Intuitive Records, talks about her priorities.

Each month, IDOL presents a job in the music industry. Or more than a job, a person! Because behind the same job title, there are significant differences from one structure to another. Each person can define the scope of his or her job according to his or her career path, qualities and skills! Meet Clarisse Arnou, who wears many hats. She answers our questions as President of UPFI, and Managing director of the independent labels Yotanka and Intuitive Records.

First and foremost, what is UPFI ?

UPFI is the main organization representing French independent phonographic producers and distributors. It defends the interests of labels of all sizes (VSEs, SMEs and ETIs) in dealings with the music industry, public authorities and the general public. Its aim is to promote French creation in all its diversity, and to aid in its financing. Each label is unique, but collectively, the “indie” labels embody the richness of French music and the strength of our production. UPFI is one of the organizations that makes their voices heard.

What does the president of an organization like IPFI do?

I was elected president of UPFI in 2022, which was an opportunity for me to combine my role as head of independent labels (Yotanka, Intuitive) with topics of general interest. These two realities are closely connected, and for me it’s a question of taking up the issues that I feel are crucial for the industry and the future of our companies, while embodying a form of renewal and openness. In fact, as the first woman president in the union’s history, I hope to be able to show that everyone has a place in our discussions.

More concretely, we work with public authorities, other organizations, as well as all players in the industry on a wide variety of subjects, such as funding the industry through tax credits, the ambition and programs of the Centre National de la Musique, but also issues linked to value sharing, the evolution of the streaming remuneration model, the protection of neighboring rights in the age of AI, etc.

Can you tell us more about your role as managing director of Yotanka and Intuitive?

Yotanka is an independent label and publisher, which we ‘refounded’ with my partner Vivien Gouery over 10 years ago. Its history is rooted in the West of France, between Angers (my hometown) where the head office is located, and Nantes where the main office and team are now based.

Eight years ago, the artist Thylacine also asked me to manage him, and we then joined forces to form Intuitive Records, the company that produces all Thylacine’s projects. Intuitive has evolved into a music & image production studio based in Belleville, Paris.

How is your daily work organized?

I divide my time between Nantes, Angers, and Paris – juggling my different roles and projects, in contact with the respective teams, artists, and around concerts and professional events.

Fortunately, I love movement, as no two weeks are alike. Like many people, I carry my laptop with me at all times, so that I can move from one office to another and remain productive despite my frequent travels.

What are the qualities required for your position?

In any case, this kind of job requires commitment and determination, to start with. Then energy and stamina.

As far as I’m concerned, I’ve always loved debating, listening, analyzing and convincing. Bringing people together around a project, an idea or a common goal is a real pleasure.

I’m not by nature a very patient person, and yet you have to be when you’re developing artists and careers.

Taking risks is part of being an entrepreneur too, so it’s an important feature of every career.

Can you tell us a little about your career path?

With a Master’s degree in communications and economy/management applied to cultural industries, I started out as a manager for the band Lo’Jo. I learned every facet of the business, from publishing to producing albums, to live shows and so on. These were very intense years, rich in discovery and learning, with lots of touring all over the world.
In my opinion, there’s no better school for learning and understanding.

Then, as opportunities arose, I added up the assignments. First Yotanka, then Thylacine. The role of label and publisher became my core business.
Management has always enabled me to keep a very global view of career development issues.

Investing a little of my time in the public interest was a natural next step, with UPFI of course, but even before that with MEWEM, where for 3 years I mentored young female entrepreneurs in the music industry – a subject close to my heart. Mentoring is a highly effective and concrete tool.

Today, I’m still on the MEWEM board of directors, and the project and network are growing at a rapid pace. So much the better, because the need is still great and progress on gender equality is too slow.

What do you like about your job?

I’ve always liked to combine different roles, as a way of overcoming any form of routine and multiplying experiences. It’s enriching to have to deal with different teams, environments and organizations. It’s all very complementary, if a little schizophrenic at times.

I also like being close to the creative process and seeing projects evolve and meet their audience. It’s a job of patience and conviction, but when you see projects, albums and artists go from strength to strength, it really gives you faith.

What is your connection with IDOL?

Intuitive is distributed by IDOL, so we work together on all Thylacine-related releases.

Pascal Bittard is also a member of the UPFI board of directors, so we work together on common issues, such as digital distribution and the streaming remuneration model.

What's the strangest task you've ever done in your career?

I spent a long time discussing ‘Russian tanks’ …. for the production of Thylacine’s ‘War Dance‘ video six years ago. I remember my office colleagues flipping out in the open space…

In this clip, the idea was to show Russian maneuvers, with tanks positioned on the Ukrainian border, and where the military, to kill boredom, orchestrated tank choreographies on the ground.

This clip was a way of denouncing the dramatic consequences of this latent conflict, as the interlude in the middle of the clip in a war hospital testifies.

It was a very complicated and costly production, and the footage had to be shot in Russia, which ended up forbidding the team access to the territory. In the end, some of the footage had to be shot on a British military base.

Clarisse's playlist

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