I have been tutoring students in the UK & US on the BA (Hons) Music Entrepreneurship degree. My particular expertise is in the digital economy having helped launch a music streaming platform and in artist development and brand licensing.
Who were some of your influences as you progressed through your career?
I love working with talented artists and musicians, mainly because I am not one myself! My experience running record labels, managing artists to award winning success and controlling the merchandise and licensing program for high profile consumer brands means I can always help and add value to an aspiring artist’s career.
How did you establish yourself in music education?
I had just handed my notice in at the tech startup I had helped launch and was having a discussion with my aunt about the best way of finding something new that was perhaps less intense. “Your next job will come from your personal network, as did your last” she said, just as my phone buzzed with a notification. I looked down and couldn’t quite believe my eyes. It was a job offer via twitter. I wasn’t sure education was for me but after one of my first classes a student came up to me and said “Have you written a book about this because I would certainly like to read it”. I’ve been reading, teaching and trying to write that book ever since.
What was the first record you ever bought?
When I was five years old I saw an on-pack promotion to get a free 7” single from WH Smith when you saved up fairy liquid bottle tops. I asked my mum and all my neighbours for their bottle tops and got enough for two free singles. I chose the number one at the time “Ebony & Ivory” by Paul McCartney & Stevie Wonder which started a lifelong appreciation of both artist’s work as well as an unhealthy addiction with following the pop charts and buying singles. This came in handy when I started DJing at the age of 15 and already had a substantial collection of 7” and 12” vinyl. The other single I chose aged five was “Fantasy Island” by Tight Fit, but the less said about that the better!
Best experience in music?
Nothing beats the feeling of being involved in the birth of a hit single and knowing from the first time you hear it, even if in a rough demo form, that you are about to unleash something with the power to change lives and spread a bit of happiness around the world. When I was managing the soul singer Nate James he wrote a song called The Message with his keyboard player Jake Gosling (who would go on to be instrumental in the success of Ed Sheeran) and a couple of other writers including the bass player. They gave me the CDR at a band rehearsal and I was listening to the song for the first time in the car as we all shuffled out of the studio car park. Within 20 seconds I wound down the window and shouted to the band “This is going to be huge!”. A year later it had been a Top 10 hit across Europe and featured in several ad campaigns. When I saw Jake at the Ivor Novello awards a couple of years ago surrounded by his crew and basking in his Ed Sheeran fueled success he pulled me into the group by the shoulder and introduced me by saying “this guy got me my first hit single”. It was a nice moment.
What gear and equipment are you using?
I’m determined not to be so talentless when it comes to playing music and have taken up piano recently for the first time since primary school. I bought a Roland RP501R which has a bluetooth connection to my ipad pro so I can learn and play along to the sheet music with accompaniment. It’s amazing and I’ve been playing every day since I got it.
What projects / bands are you involved with at the moment?
I am a qualified paralegal and I consult for artists, managers and brand owners dealing with licence agreements, record deals and merchandising.
What’s your top tip for being a professional musician in the modern age?
Not my tip originally, but, some words of wisdom from another music manager, Richard Griffiths, who says there are five key factors to any artist’s success. You can get by with four out of the five but any less than four and you’re screwed. The five factors are:
- Work Ethic
- Good Management (of course)
Any last words?
I’m not actively managing anyone at the moment but always on the look-out for exciting talent. I’m especially interested in hearing from artists with the first three of the list above (Talent, Ambition, Work Ethic) and would probably add in one extra requirement – a bold vision or clear sense of identity. From my experience working with brands, I know artists need to look and act like fashion or cultural leaders long before they release any music. You can build a following using visual media like Snapchat and Instagram, linking people with a shared vision, style or outlook on life. If you haven’t already found your tribe on social media it’s probably unlikely you’ll find it by releasing music.