Vanja Primorac photographed on June 18, 2019 at UTA in Los Angeles.
Vanja Primorac photographed on June 18, 2019 at UTA in Los Angeles.
Michele Thomas

Jobs of Tomorrow: Meet UTA's 'Music Innovation' Maven

What’s next in music and tech? Just ask Vanja Primorac, the 29-year-old UTA hired in November as head of music innovation, a newly formed division. “The idea is to be the resident expert in all things related to digital platforms,” says the Los Angeles native.

Primorac began her career developing content at Sean Combs’ Revolt TV (“a speed course into the entertainment industry”) before joining Spotify’s artist marketing team. Eventually craving more direct creative involvement, she reached out to her friend Milana Rabkin, the CEO of Stem, about potential freelance opportunities. Rabkin directed her to longtime UTA agent Brent Weinstein. “He and [UTA chief] Jeremy Zimmer were looking for someone to fill this gap in music,” says Primorac -- specifically, someone who could help the agency venture beyond the streaming and social media giants and find unusual opportunities for its music clients with high-tech entertainment startups.

Primorac’s out-of-the-box outlook -- she cites UTA’s recent team-up with Marshmello and Fortnite as an illustrative win for the artist, his management and the agency -- fit the bill. “Streaming is valuable,” she says, “but you’re only going to find success if you have everything else going on at the same time and understand the innovation space.”

That includes forging partnerships with virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) startups, live-streaming platforms like Twitch, podcasting houses and live entertainment companies. “You think about Instagram and Twitter and the campaigns people used to do when they first started, and you’re like, ‘Huh. That was one of the first influencers,’ ” she reflects. “So how do we identify those opportunities now?” A recent week on her calendar shows her multipronged approach to answering that question.

Monday

10 a.m.: Client sync
Typically, Primorac meets with an artist or manager client weekly to discuss release plans, tour schedules, content ideas and digital partnerships, all in the service of ensuring that everyone “really understands what the brand of that artist is.”

2 p.m.: Meeting with RYOT
She heads to the immersive-storytelling company’s offices to learn about its various XR (mixed reality) capabilities. RYOT, which Verizon Media acquired in 2016, recently built a state-of-the-art studio with a volumetric capture stage.

4 p.m.: Call with Quibi
To close out the day, Primorac chats with the team at the shortform, mobile-friendly video streaming platform, started by producer Jeffrey Katzenberg and former Hewlett Packard chief Meg Whitman, to discuss its launch plans (for spring 2020) and content strategy.

Tuesday

9:30 a.m.: Internal team sync
UTA’s size and breadth -- its hundreds of agents work across film, books, video games, news broadcasting, licensing and more -- means it’s tough to keep up with every department’s initiatives, so Primorac hosts regular syncs with representatives across the agency. “When you’re working in a position that hasn’t existed before, there isn’t a blueprint that you can follow and say, ‘Oh, this is what I need to do to have success,’ ” she says. “You have to be able to connect dots.”

11 a.m.: Brainstorm with Oculus
Primorac hops on a call with an artist manager and the team at Oculus VR to discuss how they’ll promote an upcoming concert that will be livestreamed on the Oculus Venues app.

1 p.m.: Lunch with manager client
She meets with Kevin Wolff, a manager at YM&U Group who works with The Interrupters, Rancid and Blink-182, to catch up on any changes in his roster and what his clients have in store for the year.

3:30 p.m.: Meeting with Spotify
Primorac circles up with Jesse Burton, the director of original content at Spotify, to present music podcast ideas that incorporate UTA’s digital talent and musicians.

Wednesday

11 a.m.: Startup proposal review
She spends the morning examining and presenting a proposal from Los Angeles-based VR startup Stage to an artist client as a potential fall tour enhancement. Stage specializes in on-demand live concert experiences with video game-inspired features like multi-angle viewing and 360 audio.

3 p.m.: Call with Singlserv
An introductory conversation with Singlserv, a brand-new music streaming app that allows artists to partner with charitable causes, to discuss its launch plans for this summer.

Thursday

Primorac spends most of the day putting together the next “U Should Hear This,” a monthly live music showcase she launched upon joining UTA. The goal is twofold: “It’s a platform for our artists to get in front of digital partners, brands, music supervisors and other folks across the industry, and it’s also a really good look for UTA in terms of solidifying our space in the music industry.”

FRIDAY

Morning: Meeting with Digital Brand Architects
UTA acquired the digital influencer agency in February. Primorac and her DBA colleagues discuss marketing partnerships between the music and social media talent rosters.

4 p.m.-6 p.m.: Demo with Nura
Primorac opens her office to host a demonstration of Nura headphones. The award-winning Australian startup, which began on Kickstarter in 2016, uses NASA microphones and a unique algorithm to adjust its smart headphones to individual users’ hearing. Primorac finishes the week by inviting Nura to UTA to examine artist partnership and ambassadorship opportunities.

This article originally appeared in the June 29 issue of Billboard.


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