Oliver Schiller-Sittl is a veteran of the music industry. From driver, tour manager to talent scout, marketing manager and finally A&R manager, he has already experienced a lot. We’ve planned a series of interviews with Oliver, in which he tells inside stories of the music industry and you will get lots of tips & tricks. Let’s go…
How Did You Become an A&R Manager?
Already during my law & politics studies I was tour manager at the concert agencies “Enterprise Concerts” and “Mama Concerts”, which actually wanted to manage my band “Anduin”. Unfortunately they didn’t really know how to bring a German-speaking band to a record company, who additional set music to a at that time little known book called “Der Herr der Ringe”
After my first job in the business as a driver for the band “Styx” I was entrusted with many tours at home and abroad as a tour manager – with internationally known pop and rock groups like Paul Young, Eurythmics / Annie Lennox, Sandra, The Stranglers, Stevie Ray Vaughan, John Farnham, John Martyn, or the old-school rappers Grandmaster Flash.
From Critic to TV Presenter…
At the same time I became a concert critic for the feature section of the Süddeutsche Zeitung and TV presenter & editor at Tele 5 for the music programmes “Hard & Heavy” and “Backstage”. There I interviewed many artists and got to know them privately, such as Jon Bon Jovi, David Lee Roth, Eddie Van Halen, Ted Nugent, Kid Rock, Status Quo, Judas Priest, Cool & The Gang. I did one of my most legendary interviews with Dieter Bohlen from Modern Talking for “Made in Germany”.
When Tele 5 became DSF, I became an editorial assistant at “Leo’s” (ARD), responsible for show and music contributions, all while studying…
In addition, I discovered and managed the poet, songwriter and pianowoman Bettina Hirschberg, for whom I got the booking from the cabaret cellar to the “Alte Oper Frankfurt”.
After my live performance in kilt and with bagpipes on John Farnham’s mega hit “You’re The Voice”, the managing director of BMG Ariola Hamburg, who is responsible for Farnham, asked me to contact him after my studies.
Oliver – A&R at Bertelsmann, Edel, Koch Records, …
I then joined the Bertelsmann Music Group as International A&R / Marketing Manager. As a newcomer, the first thing I was asked was to market the boy band Take That (Robbie Williams), which was initially unloved internally at the time. Also the development of my discoveries Freaky Fukin’ Weirdoz, Xzibit, Tool & the from the entire firm rejected and sabotaged Wu-Tang Clan. Since this worked out quite well in the medium term, I soon became label manager of RCA, Zoo Entertainment, Rick Rubins American Recordings and the rap label Loud. Finally I became responsible for the marketing of pop and rock giants like ZZ Top, Deep Purple, Bruce Hornsby, The Black Crowes, Slayer and Johnny Cash.
In 1997 “edel” records hired me as Director A&R with focus on Pop/Rock/Alternative/HipHop/Black Music in Hamburg, because the former compilation company “edel” now wanted “real artists”.
My job was therefore the acquisition of artists and “new products” worldwide – which was too tempting to resist. With the signing of Ritchie Blackmore’s Renaissance pop project “Blackmore’s Night”, the first Wu-Tang Clan guest rapper “Buddha Monk”, the later German-Goth legend “Das Ich”, “die verlorenen Söhnen” from Vienna as well as “Melle Mel & Scorpio” from Grandmaster Flash, the journey blithely continuing.
Then followed the move to the South of Germany and the USA to Koch Records in Munich and Koch Entertainment in New York as Vice President A&R with focus on Pop / HipHop / Black Music / Rock / Alternative, which resulted in the signing of Wu-Tang boss RZA, the Cologne Wolf Maahn, Slash’s Snakepit (Guns & Roses), Wu-Tang Killa Bees, AFU-RA, KRS-one & the compilation “20 Jahre HipHop in Deutschland” together with Smudo. The biggest success in numbers was Pokemon with Barbi Schiller, who reached double platinum with more than 600,000 records.
Insight Into the TV World…
As a result of the takeover and dissolution of Koch Europa by Universal Music, I joined the RTL 2 music label “Media Spirit” as Director A&R and Head of the music publishing house RTL 2 Publishing. It was an interesting trip into the world of music television and music publishing. After joining VIP International to set up my own music publishing company and a soundtrack label, as well as music supervising for international film projects and their international exploitation in the Bavaria Film environment, I joined the “Music Supervision & Evaluation” of and for film projects.
For the Uli-Edel film “Die Nibelungen” I worked with film composer Klaus Badelt & Ilan Eshkeri and discovered the later medieval platinum artists FAUN for the soundtrack of “Die Nibelungen”.
A project with Hans Zimmer at “Ask The Dust” completed my excursion into the world of international film music. I took FAUN to Believe Digital immediately after I joined the company as Vice President A&R to join this pioneering digital distributor – along with countless other artists.