Sarah Hamilton

Sarah Hamilton

Ditto Music / One of One

Sarah is the regional manager for Australia & New Zealand at Ditto Music, which is a music and label services company that works with over 500,000 artists and labels worldwide, with offices in 25 countries. Sarah has been working in digital distribution in Australia since 2008, with a short stint in New York City. She loves working with independent artists and seeing them gain access to the same opportunities as artists signed to major labels. 

Sarah loves watching the industry change and grow, and helping artists navigate the changing digital space - co-founding a charity called One of One with Joanna Cameron. A website that highlights women and non-binary people in the music industry and hosts annual events for International Women's Day, now in Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide.

Where are you based?

I am in Naarm/Melbourne in Australia. I have lived here for 10 years, I’m originally from Queensland, and my parents are still up there, so I try to get up there (lockdowns permitting) for a beach holiday a few times per year – I miss the warmth! 

Where do you work? What do you do?

I work at Ditto Music – I’m the Regional Manager for AU/NZ. We have a small but passionate team here in Australia and offices in 25 countries globally. Helping artists get their music online on platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, Instagram and TikTok. We also work hard to get the music of our artists heard, added to playlists and also exported internationally where possible, via playlists and marketing in the digital space. 

I also co-founded a platform called One of One, which I run with my friends Joanna Cameron, Ellen Kirk and Bec Young. We spotlight women and non-binary people within the music industry and tell their stories. We also run events for International Women’s Day.

What are you listening to?

I’m listening to a lot of soothing and relaxing music right now – things like Arooj Aftab, Khruangbin, neo-soul artists like Sampology, Allysha Joy and some R&B like Mahalia, Kaiit and Ngaiire. Also love Leisure, Still Woozy and Bakar.

How do you discover new music?

A lot of music gets sent to me to listen to. Artists would like to be selected to be a part of our Ditto Plus service, where we pitch to playlists. I love that often it’s my job to listen to music and I never take that for granted. Sometimes, I do have to try and just get lost in music though, rather than thinking about it. 

I love the Colors Youtube channel, and I discover a lot of artists through that platform, as well as the Tiny Desk NPR series and also just word of mouth. Also, I am often deep in the Spotify playlist world, and I do find a lot of music on that platform.  

We have artists at Ditto from all over the world, and I love hearing what is coming out from the UK, the US, and then places like Africa. I sometimes will get lost in a playlist that is programmed elsewhere and just really gets absorbed in that sound. 

I like a lot of afrobeats music, and Caribbean-style rhythms, as well as hip hop and R&B from all over the world. 

Locally, I really like a lot of the DreamPop that’s coming out right now, and some of the electronic music by Australian artists such as Boo Seeka and Tora I really love. I also think Allday’s most recent album ‘Drinking With My Smoking Friends’ has really felt like a timely release that articulates the monotony of lockdowns and the need for breaking free like nothing else I’ve heard.

What formats do you usually listen to? LP, CD, Cassette, Digital, Streaming Services? Why?

I listen to streaming services mostly but also am building up my vinyl collection. I love the complete artistry of an album, is something I love. The concept, the story and the artwork. I still find so much value in the storytelling element, the period of life that the songwriters were experiencing, and the nuances that can exist in a larger body of work. I’m slowly building up a collection of all of my favourite albums on vinyl, and I want to one day have a music room with vintage furniture, lamps, pianos, and a vintage drinks cart so I can make myself a cocktail and put on a record to end the day.

“I love the complete artistry of an album, the concept, the story and the artwork. I still find so much value in the storytelling element, the period of life that the songwriters were experiencing, and the nuances that can exist in a larger body of work.”

Where do you do most of your music listening?

I go walking a lot – I live near the beach so I put on my headphones and walk every day. 

I also love turning up the music really loud in the car. 

My favourite way of listening to music though is on a flight – when there are no distractions and I can just really listen to every lyric and sound. 

Although this is all sounding very isolated – that’s probably due to covid – I can’t wait to go to live shows again and hit some sweaty dancefloors too, and experience live music with other people.

How do you find and listen to pre-release music?

I will only listen to what is sent to me – otherwise, I will generally wait until it’s released. I’m pretty patient in that way! 

I do get sent a lot of unreleased music though!

What are your frustrations with listening to music digitally? Any benefits?

I get a lot of links in emails and it can be frustrating when the link has expired or it’s no longer available. I very rarely download files, I prefer a streaming link. Sometimes, I think, people are still stuck in the mentality of songs ‘leaking’. That very rarely happens with artists at the independent and emerging level. It’s more of a challenge to try and get people to listen in the first place!

How do you keep track of everything you are listening to?

I could be way more organised! I do create playlists on Spotify though. Or I make sure I follow those artists so I can be kept up to date with any of their new releases. 

If there are any tips out there, I’m all ears!

I do miss the ‘music collections’ that we all had perhaps 20 years ago – the same as a video store. That visual representation or visual cue could be such a good jog of the memory. I definitely suffer from the ‘paradox of choice’ scenario – too much to choose from!

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Do you tip other people off to new music? How?

Yes, but I also believe that people should really listen to what they truly love with no elitism or snobbery. Music is meant to be experienced, loved and enjoyed. I will only suggest music to people if I’m pretty sure they will like it and it suits their tastes. This way I can try not to overwhelm them with too many options!

I love it when people do this for me too. I’ll never forget when a friend first sent me Hiatus Kaiyote’s debut album (unreleased). She just said “I know you will love this, it’s out of this world” and she was right.

Anything you want to “promote”?

A few artists that we are working with that I’m excited about include Miiesha, Wallace, Sampology and Cult Shotta who are coming up via TikTok! 

I also am loving a new series called The Jupiter Sessions which is uncovering some great talent too. 

At Ditto here in AU, we have a couple of Spotify playlists that we use to help promote our artists. One is called ‘Downunder’ and features a variety of genres from indie to folk, pop etc. Then there is ‘Dass It – Homegrown’ which is more hip hop/RnB. 

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