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backstage

backstage

[noun]

musivv.com’s digital magazine dedicated to honoring the men and women behind the stars.

november 2021

Rise Up Dubai is specialized in providing PR, digital marketing strategies, branding and community management services and we also help the DSPs to make sure the artists will be playlisted on official or influential playlists.

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all images are supplied and owned by Virginie. Use without permission is prohibited.

Virginie & Charles

Rising Up To The Challenge


French national Virginie Garnier and business partner Charles Clement left their promising careers and rose to the challenge of entrepreneurship—and has never looked back. The demand for a music PR in the digital space was an unchartered territory they dared to venture into when they founded Rise Up Agency. And it has been an exhilarating ride.

How are you guys?
Virginie: I am good thank you, enjoying a bit of nature and culture back in France for summer it was overdue!
Charles: I am great, thank you very much! I am in the south of France for holidays, after having spent one month in Paris to manage the Rise Up French projects.

Please tell us a bit about yourselves.
I have been living in Dubai for the past 6 years now. I started my career in the music industry as my first job was at TRACE, a broadcast media group where I was in charge of the brand content operations and creating content for the brands we would collaborate with ( EX: We collaborated with Spotify France when they entered the French market and developed a lot of different content for them. We also associated Spotify with our TRACE Music Awards and opened a Spotify Award category). Then I moved to Dubai and completely changed industry as I worked as the Head of Marketing and communication for a defense and security multinational company for the last few years. It has been fascinating as it is a completely different world, very challenging on many levels but it has been a very fruitful experience overall.
Charles: I always knew that I wanted to work in the music industry. During the last 2 years at my business school, I had the opportunity to do internships at Universal Music. Then, I got hired as Digital Project Manager. After almost 5 years there, I decided to launch Rise Up in France in 2012.

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How did Rise Up come about?

Rise Up France
Charles: After a few years at Universal Music France, I felt like it was time for me to become an entrepreneur. There were already a lot of PR agencies for radio, TV, press at the time but not that much for the digital part. As the digital PR, and digital marketing were still pretty new, the market wasn’t mature yet and artists and labels all wanted to work on the digital promo.

Rise Up Dubai
Virginie: Because of the pandemic and the Covid situation, my previous company decided to restructure the different offices to cut expenses and they only kept the operations in Dubai while they relocated most of the cross functions in Beijing, this is when I decided to go back to the music industry which is my passion at heart and started talking about opportunities with my friend and associate Charles, founder of Rise Up France. From the different feedbacks from people in the music industry in the MENA region and analysis of the market here, we concluded that there was a lot to do in this field.

Rise Up (for a PR company name)
Charles: Actually, I was brainstorming all day long to find a name, and an artist I was working with at that time, said that he wanted to "rise up" through his music. I liked the idea and the image beyond this expression, and I found that it was perfect for the agency! Indeed, we do our best to make our artists "Rise Up"!

I felt like it was time for me to become an entrepreneur.

What is your typical day like?

Virginie: Wake up, coffee and breakfast while reading the news from the different continents, open mails and WhatsApp to assess the different emergencies to take care of. Organize the workload for the day and get on with it. By the end of the day, I will usually go train (I am a martial arts practitioner), then continue working a bit (including watching music videos, scouting artists, go to promo days with artists or to concerts). But there is no such thing as a typical day really.

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Charles: There is no typical day in this job… and that’s why I love it! One day I can spend the journey with artists for interviews we planned, while the other one, I can go from a music label to another for strategic meetings.

Wake up, coffee and breakfast

What's your go-to music playlist?

Virginie: I usually create my own playlists but for work purposes, I listen to Arab X, New Music Friday or Afro Arab playlists on Spotify for example. You should try my own playlist though, I am an amazing curator myself! (winks). I also listen to a lot of podcasts.

Charles: I don’t really have a go-to music playlist! I listen to new music all day long, going through rap, Arab pop, Afrobeat, French variety. You would be surprised at how varied my playlists are!

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Why music and entertainment?

We have both been passionate about music from a very young age. I (Virginie) wrote my final dissertation for my master's degree about the evolution of the CD to the digital business model in 2010. Charles applied to all the big majors for an internship working with a label after his business school. We both started our career in the music industry, Charles working for Universal France and Virginie at TRACE. We both have a personal taste for urban music but we work in most genres.

Among the other music niche-focused PR agencies in the region, what does Rise Up offer differently?

Virginie & Charles: I believe the added value that we have compared to other PR agencies is we have solid expertise working in the music industry and a very strong network in French-speaking countries in Europe and Africa. We realized a lot of artists here struggle to have a voice outside of the UAE and to reach a wider audience. Having Rise Up France for the past 10 years enables us to bridge the gap and give more visibility to the artists and their projects.

Among the musical artists that you've worked with, who stood out in terms of story?

Virginie: All artists have their own specificity, and we have personal stories for all of them but if we have to name a few that we worked with recently, I would mention Seki SuperVillain as I find him fascinating. He has such as strong visual and musical identity, and he is bold and authentic enough to follow his own musical journey here in Dubai and explore his own world. I also admire the fact that he is breaking most stereotypes and preconceptions revolving around Arab music. Whether you like him or not, he will for sure make an impression and you gotta respect his work and limitless imagination regardless of your personal taste. Charles: I would say Jindi! Jindi really has his own personality, he is a solar artist with an amazing state of mind, always positive! He draws from his Sudanese roots and it makes his music very unique and authentic. If you don’t know him yet, you have to check his YouTube channel for sure! (winks)

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Any particular trait that you look for in working with a musician?

Charles & Virginie: Having spent so many years in this industry, I think we both are looking for genuine artistic connections now rather than just signing contracts. The real satisfaction is to have been able to give visibility to artists that deserve to be known more widely and to help them structure the strategy and roll-out of a release.

Do you consider yourselves perfectionists?

Virginie: I wouldn’t call myself a perfectionist absolutely not (chuckles), I learned the hard way a 10% solution is already a solution in many situations, and especially in the music industry, adjusting to any situation is part of your daily life.

Charles: I am a perfectionist who chooses his battles! I think that for some situations, you need to go straight to the point, while some others need you to be more detailed-oriented… Managing your time is one of the keys to this business!

How do you see Rise Up in 5 years?

Virginie & Charles: Hopefully expanding to the whole MENA region and developing some new talent management services.

Any message to musicians looking for PR services?

Virginie: When artists invest so much time, energy and money in a project, I think it is important to be aware of the marketing and promotion of this project when it comes to releasing it. A lot of artists we met here just released their project without proper planning or vision and would be frustrated by the very limited impact after the release. Investing in the promotion of a project is really part of the whole process and it is something to have in mind in my opinion. To all the musicians looking for structure, give us a call and we will be happy to talk about it.

Charles: To release your project in the best conditions, you don’t have the choice, you have to think about how to expose it and promote it to your potential audience! So, if you are working on a project at the moment, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us! We would be glad to take care of the marketing and promotion sides, while you focus on the artistic one! (smiles)


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