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Maria Tangarova, UT20 Senior

Finance senior Maria Tangarova reflects on starting a record label, going to the Grammys, and looking out for artists in the music industry.


Back in her childhood home, Maria Tangarova coordinates the release of new music. She has rearranged her workspace in her parents’ Austin home to resemble her setup on campus. She is a musician in her own right, but it is not her vocals on the tracks. Instead, Tangarova is leading the record label she started, UTalent Records, through Zoom calls and text messages. Tangarova wants to change the frustrating patterns in the music industry. “I come from a family of artists,” says Tangarova. “I wanted to be able to advocate for musicians and teach how to navigate the maze that is the music industry. ”

One of our outstanding graduates from the 2020 class, finance major and Terry Foundation Scholar Maria Tangarova made the most of her time at UT. As a sophomore, she started UTalent. Through the organization, Tangarova shows signees what a contract looks like; provides them opportunities; and brings in guest lecturers from big names in the industry such as Capitol Records, BMI and Nine Mile Records. She also landed the prestigious Recording Academy internship, which sent her to the Grammy Awards twice.

“With the pandemic, we are staying creative here at UTalent Records,” she says. “At UTalent, we are always one step ahead of the game, and the pandemic won’t be halting the organization, especially not in the space of recorded music.”

Although they are focusing on the digital arena at the moment, signees have performed at the South by Southwest Music Festival and other venues. Many have since started on successful careers. Wande Isola of UTalent’s 2017-2018 class now has a large following and a contract with Atlanta-based Reach Records.

“I get so excited to work with creatives and help them with my technical knowledge and resources,” she says. “And in return, I get an incredible universe of music and passion and joy and fun.”

Tangarova’s mother is a classically trained pianist. Her father is a professional clarinetist. When Tangarova, a trained vocalist herself, realized she wanted to stray away from the vulnerability of performance, she discovered a new passion for music business. “I thought, OK, let me go to business school and get a degree in finance,” she says. “I always say: My degree gives me a consistent return on investment all the time.”

Associate Professor of Finance Jonathan Cohn helped her fall in love with the degree. She credits Andres Almazan, director of the Canfield Business Honors Program and the Finance in London study abroad program, for cementing her passion for finance. She says she is excited to graduate from the McCombs School of Business this month.

Her internships and organization have had her meet and build relationships with professionals of all calibers in her industry.

As an intern for the Recording Academy, the organization that hosts the Grammys, she was able to attend the awards event in 2019 and early 2020. For Tangarova, being on the red carpet was a surreal experience. She walked parallel to the artists and celebrities she had long admired.

“Every year, our family made it a tradition to watch the Grammys together,” she says. “So ever since I was little, I remember sitting in and getting goosebumps watching the artists perform.”

After graduation, Tangarova will work as a financial analyst for Universal Music Group’s subsidiary Capitol Music Group in Los Angeles.

“It’s bittersweet not to be graduating on campus surrounded by friends and family,” she says. “If you think about it, we are effectively the class that made virtuality normal. Kind of cool, huh?

“With all the grief happening around the world,” she says, “still being able to graduate from one of the best universities in the world, moving on with my career after school, and standing healthy and strong during this tumultuous time is good enough for me.”

As she gets ready to pass along leadership of UTalent, Tangarova has founded another company: Auxiliary, a data analytics-enabled talent discovery platform.

“I began to notice gaps in an artist’s transition out of the label and into the world after college,” she says. Essentially, all of my artists who were graduating from the label would ask me: ‘What’s next?’ I established Auxiliary to get to the bottom of it.”

Tangarova says she likes to listen to the problems she hears around her. She likes to understand people and address the realities they speak to.

“Everything in the music industry is about relationships,” she says. “My leadership philosophy has always been leading with humility. Good leaders don’t necessarily have to have loud voices. Good leaders listen more than they speak.”

After all, it makes sense that leaders in the music industry should know how to listen.

Media Contact

University Communications
Email: UTMedia@utexas.edu
Phone: (512) 471-3151

The University of Texas at Austin

David Chen, UT20 Senior

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