Sarah Lorentzen

Senior Director
International Artists and Repertoire
RCA Records / Sony Music Entertainment

A Culturally Rich Upbringing

I felt I was raised all over the world because my parents were adamant about making sure I was connected to my root countries – Nigeria and Denmark. I was born in the US, lived in Nigeria for a few years, and since both of my parents were avid travelers, I was lucky to see many parts of the world from a young age. Although I've spent most of my life in the US, my parents made sure I spent a lot of time in their home countries which has made me feel incredibly connected to my parents' cultures which has shaped much of my identity as a first-generation American. With a Nigerian mother and Danish father, home felt like this fusion of entirely different worlds that came together. As a result, I became very adaptive to different environments, scenarios, expressions, and communication styles. Having an understanding and curiosity of those nuanced differences and has given me greater appreciation for culture and tradition and has helped me with my work in relating to talent from different parts of the world.

Photo with mother and father as a child

I used music as a tool to discover more about the world.

Falling into the Role of Artists and Repertoire (A&R)

When I graduated from university, I planned on moving back to Nigeria to start an independent management company, working with local artists. But in 2018, I got this opportunity to work at RCA Records as a temp in the Chairman's office under Peter Edge. Then over the span of two years, I transitioned from temp to Administrative Assistant to Executive Assistant. At the time, there was an uptick in interest around African music and I was passionate about Tems, an artist from Nigeria. Although I didn't even know that I could sign an artist as an assistant, I had this team of people around me that were massively supportive and encouraged me to pursue my first signing alongside my colleague at the time, Tunji which is how I transitioned into A&R. It felt great to be able to work with an artist from a place I called home. Since then, I have been fortunate to work with many more artists that represent international styles and sounds.
The role of an A&R depends on who you're supporting and what that artist needs. Everyone has their own style of working but sometimes an A&R has to be able to shapeshift into different roles and work hands-on with the artist and management. You're responsible for scouting talent and signing acting as the point of contact between the artist and the label but the responsibilities expand from there. It can range from being very technical with the creation process to being a more hands-off guiding force within the building to ensure the artist's career and vision are supported. I'm a people person, so I enjoy connecting with people and learning how different people work, especially those from diverse backgrounds.

Performance photo of Tems Photo by Deeds

A Place for Women of Color

Over the past few years, especially during lockdown and the simultaneous socio-political events in the US, there has been a lot of conversation around race and workplace diversity. The music industry has historically been quite male-dominated and not very diverse in representation. Fortunately, I have found that, as a woman of color, I've felt my career supported at Sony throughout my time at the company. There has also been a lot of other young women who have come into the company, which has been great to see. I hope more women of color feel comfortable and safe in their workplaces to share their ideas and feel supported and confident in attaining positions of power. Within our company, it is great to see diversity prioritized. I would love to help maintain that space for other young women coming up.

Embracing New Sounds

The company has many strengths, but the primary one that resonates with me is that we're not afraid to be deviant from the norm. We all bring our personal taste and understanding of music to the table. That variety is embraced by the company and acts a primer for how we go out into the world and scout talent to the company knowing that we don't need to seek one singular type of artist. RCA goes for things that sometimes seem alternative or rebellious but those are the type of sounds and artists that change the shape of music and impact our world. I respect when people aren't afraid to take a risk for the things they are passionate about even if seems a bit off. And then, suddenly, whatever seems off becomes the coolest thing in the world.

Team Photo

There's so much to learn and share, and I find that fulfilling.

Endless Passion for Music and People

Music has hugely impacted my life, and it's such an interesting medium for many reasons. It brings people together who may not otherwise have had the opportunity to meet. My goal is to constantly learn and deepen my understanding of music while supporting and creating opportunities for the creative communities that I care about along the way. Working in the international landscape has been a gift, allowing me to experience different people, cultures, and sounds. Every time I travel to other markets, I see so much opportunity in each meeting and each interaction and love being able to exchange with those in other markets and hearing what they're excited about. Together we can broaden the idea of what a successful artist is from, looks like, and sounds like, without pigeonholing them to narrow expectations or stereotypes. Then, we will see more people that look like us, or completely different from us and still support and embrace them in the same way.