Hi mate, thanks for setting some time aside – busy day at the factory. Could you please introduce yourself and give us a brief overview of the work you’ve done in the industry and what your current role is at Pins & Knuckles?
Hey! It’s always a busy day at the factory! So I’m Jay, currently serving a lifetime sentence in the music industry. I’ve worked in many roles, be it live events, developing artists, tour booking & management, pretty much the only thing I haven’t had experience [out of choice!] is live sound, otherwise I’d end up over analysing absolutely everything at a show!
The following have received either a consultation, tour booking, management, or label release from myself: Dream State, Parting Gift, Superlove, Acres, Holding Absence, Neck Deep, Moose Blood, Crooks, Loathe, Modern Error, Martyr Defiled, Create To Inspire, Heart In Hand, The Elijah, Coldbones and many many more!
Covid put a stop to what I was doing so I took a bit of a career diversion and came into the factory, albeit only part-time initially. 2 years on and I’m orchestrating production and generally overseeing operations on the day-to-day running of the factory.
You’ve touched a whole bunch of avenues in the music industry, from artist development, tour management, merch, all the way to security jobs. Any one that you favour or find the most enjoyable?
While the journey itself can be a long one, the results I have seen from developing artists is an incredible feeling. It can be a grueling process at times, being on call 24/7 but the successes make that worth it in my opinion. I had always liked to help people get to where they wanted to be and there came a time in this industry where I felt ready enough to be able to actually make that difference for people.
I have been the catalyst for a lot of bands successes and the individual happiness that can bring to some, is the best bit! Being nominated and winning awards with artists will remain some of the happiest moments in my life. I live by the quote – "Help others achieve their dreams and you will achieve yours!" Always rings true for me.
When it comes to artist management, what qualities do you find important for a person to have to get into the music industry, particularly managing bands?
Having an understanding of how everything works is key. You need to be able to understand the process at at least entry level for every department in the band, be it show booking, releasing music. You don’t however need to be an expert in all of those fields to be able to succeed, as that’s where you bring in the experts to help.
The analogy I use is, to think of it as a shop. You open a shop and you start getting the name out, eventually, that shop needs to expand and the day-to-day running of it becomes too much for just one person, so you make the shop bigger and bring in staff to run a department. Those departments being a booking agent, a label, PR, etc. As long as you can orchestrate everything that they do and in a lot of cases, work with them and follow their expertise and advice on their subject, you will be well on your way.
Networking is also key and it’s always wise to keep in touch with people you meet as you grow into the industry. Always help others out if they need it, support does go a long way and is generally remembered and there will absolutely be times where you will need some support yourself!
In your experience over the last 15 years within the music industry, what similar qualities have you seen in exceptional bands?
The bands that have gone on to break it that I have worked with are the ones that are driven, the ones that listen to the team around them and follow the advice given. Some need that more than others. From a musical perspective, the ones that have gotten the furthest have really created something unique rather than sounding like a different version of another band. If you hear a song for the first time without knowing who it is, if you can say “ this sounds like ____ “, then that band is on its way.
What is your process for finding new opportunities for bands to perform or showcase their music?
This depends on the style of music they play. There are methods I use which can be very specific to a certain genre or niche. Whether that’s a particular YouTube channel, a Spotify playlist or even working with a particular promoter. I’ve worked with anything from post-rock to technical death metal and you have to find the right people that can assist in pushing the music out there. There are a lot of great people out there voluntarily pushing out new music on their respective platforms and I’m always keen to connect with more.
Being deep in the merch side of the game and learning the ins and outs of the factory – any highlights of the last two years that you’d like to share?
Honestly, the highlights of the last 2 years for me are the processes I have implemented to streamline production here. We can get phenomenally busy and being able to decipher what is what has been tough in those times. The tweaks I have made to our operations have made things clearer in terms of what needs to happen and when.
When I started I would have to give out lists to staff daily of jobs they needed to focus on, it could take me hours, but much of this has now become automated and has made a huge difference. We are really noticing it! I have definitely learned a lot from being on this side of the fence. I didn’t realise how naïve I was to merchandise before coming in, even when I thought I knew enough. The demand for merchandise is far stronger than I’d ever anticipated and if I knew the stresses that can go into producing t-shirts, I would have been less of a pain when placing my orders before!
What should a band bring to the table to break through and make it from being an up-and-coming band to headlining festivals? Does luck sometimes play a part, or do you believe this plays down to very strategic management?
Consistency is key! I’ve seen bands who were well on their way that get frustrated, burnt out and generally implode. But the longer you’ve been a band, the more of a force you will become. There are tough moments when trying to make it in a band for sure, things will not always go your way, or take longer to reach, but it can and will happen eventually if you stick it out.
Strategic management does play a part, which generally comes from someone exterior with expertise, but it can also come from the band itself if you know what you are doing. My advice there, however, is don’t assume you know best and listen to those that are around you!
Growing up, did you always dream of working in the music industry? Can you speak to how music has played a role throughout your life?
I did. I was a passionate music fan from a very early age, I did a project at my junior school on Metallica when I was 10 and was completely fascinated by them. It just took off from there. By the age of 15, I was already interviewing bands on the internet and just immersing myself completely in that world. Music has been and always will be my life, and since I’ve now had a hand in as much stuff as I have, it couldn’t go away even if I tried!
You recently signed up at Sonic Workshops as a mentor! Could you tell us a bit more about this?
That is correct! So I have loved to help people for as long as I’ve been a part of this industry, be it someone that wants to land a role in the music business, or someone who wants to make it with their band. I am constantly hit up for advice and I absolutely love to help with it [when I have the time!].
I put the feelers out for some consultancy work in the future and Sonic Workshops got in touch to become a part of that. SW is a great platform that is oozing with knowledge from people that have quite simply done it! I can now be booked for consultancies via Zoom to help students as well as bands needing advice. I have done a few already and I’m really happy to be a part of it.
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned from being part of the industry for 15 years?
You have to be extremely passionate for it to be able to cope with the 24/7 workload, crippling social pressure, and overwhelming responsibility to help steer multiple humans lives the way that they intend. You will feel the highs with them but to get there you have to also feel the lows. There are egos that you may have to deal with and that can make you feel displaced, so you have to have thick skin.
A lot of what you will learn will happen through simply just doing it. You will be out of your depth at times when navigating your way through the industry, but this is the best time to learn!