In a new series amid the coronavirus pandemic, Billboard is asking individuals from all sectors of the music business to share stories of how they work now, with much of the world quarantined at home and unable to take in-person meetings, attend conferences or even go into the office. Submissions for the series can be sent to HowWeWorkNow@Billboard.com. Read the full series here.
This installment is with Thomas Scherer, BMG’s executive vp repertoire & marketing, Los Angeles. Now headquartered out of a former storage room in his Pasadena home, the German-born Scherer has also been a certified yoga teacher for 20 years, earning his credentials in Kerala, India.
Thomas Scherer: In some ways we feel more connected than before. Maybe it’s the amount of connection we’re having right now and the different communications — the meetings on Zoom and Microsoft Teams. I think it will take some time to find a new normal.
Also, our recording artists have more time now. They’re not in the promotion machinery at the moment so they have more space for communication. As we move forward at BMG, we will embrace this. We’ll figure out how everything should be balanced.
What I am really missing though is the camaraderie, the community you have in an office. I miss the chance meetings — when you just see someone and have a quick chat. Now you have to schedule it.
What exactly the future looks like, I don’t quite know. The rest of 2020 I think we will still be six feet apart in the studio, as we’re seeing with musicians now on their live streams. There will be more use of online tools that a lot of our songwriters are using right now.
For me, personally, my yoga helps. Many years ago we started offering Yoga and meditation classes to our staff. For me it also helps to say, “What are we able to control and where can we take care of something?” If we worry about overwhelming news — such as there is no vaccine, there may not be vaccine for a very long time — this creates anxiety. Let’s focus on what we can do and let go of elements we cannot influence.
When we look at nature it becomes very obvious that change is the only consistency in the universe. It’s undeniable, right? You have these two energy flows. Something is trying to just stay where it is because the human mind is afraid of what’s in front of us, the unknown. Then there is that stronger energy trying to take us to constant change. Constantly. But it’s only sometimes that we are aware of it.
So it’s best to embrace it, then look at the challenges and the advantages. Also, it’s in the DNA at Bertelsmann: You can only be a true entrepreneur and be creative when you embrace change. So we are in a moment right now of rethinking, reflecting and asking ourselves, What are the changes I would like for my family, my business and myself to grow? In this crisis we have a chance to learn. What else can we do to not be in our usual habits?
Recently, it became obvious to me that I don’t need to travel quite as much. I still think personal connection is very important. There is more information flowing when you meet someone in person — so much happening and exchanged in the unspoken that is highly valuable.
But if you ask me right now, I think we’ll be traveling in a more mindful way, and be more thoughtful about our footprint.
I don’t want to get rid of meetings in general. At BMG, we don’t have the kind of meetings just to report in. I like when creative teams get together. And if you have a chance anywhere in the entertainment industry to suggest an idea and then see your contributions in the end result, that’s a beautiful creative interaction. That’s what happens in our meetings.
What will be my first trip out? Pasta at [L.A.’s] Angelini Osteria — very simple — “Spaghetti Aglio e Olio.” It’s not on the menu.