How to get a job in the music industry

When it comes to getting a break in the Music Industry there is no silver bullet. Instead there are multiple ways in. We caught up with three ex-students of Edinburgh College to find out how they got their first break in the music industry and the three things you should be doing if you want to succeed.

Get Experience:

One common thread that all three agreed on was the importance of getting hands on experience, mostly through volunteering or internships.

Lisa Thomson, who works with MAMA and Co/ Live Nation:

“Volunteer as much as you can. Yes, working for free is not ideal but think of the impressions you can make to the right kind of people. It’s always great fun as well! I looked at it as investing in my future and it worked. Network as well, events such as Born To Be Wide give you the opportunity to meet people you wouldn’t normally get the chance to meet. I started by volunteering for The Great Escape in 2014. Getting stuck in and showing dedication resulted in a paid internship with them in 2015. From this I have made many connections in the industry. One of which offered me a job working with Mama and Co’s festival production team over the summer which in turn put me on the radar for work in Wales”.

So rather than just say you have a passion for music- demonstrate it somehow. Show you are engaged with the industry and have a bit of a spark.  Think what really makes you tick in terms of the industry and do something related to that: start a new music blog, put on a gig night or offer to help manage a local band.

Get to know the industry

The head of HR for Universal Music and in a recent article in the Guardian emphasised the need for people who want to get into the business to get to grips with how the industry works and what the range of different opportunities that are out there. It is a complex, fast moving, ever changing industry and it is crucial you get up to date with what is happening in the industry and the changing trends.

Sarah Henderson, who now works for the Music Royalties Company concurs:

“I had a great head start from the experience I gained through my HND course. I would advise anyone taking the first step to research the different areas you can work in, you’ll find job hunting a lot easier once you are able to search for specific roles. Also being able to intern is a massive advantage, it allows you to get practice industry experience on your CV. Don’t be disheartened by failed interviews or unanswered applications, always chase up for advice and constantly work on improving your process of job applications.”

Many industry professionals would recommend using time at college or university as a relatively un-pressured space to build up your contacts and experience as well as your knowledge of the industry. This could be putting on gigs, volunteering at events like Wide Days or Brighton’s Great Escape Festival or starting your own label or blog. Some courses allow you to build up experience and contacts as part of your course work:

Walter Aldaz who an internship with Sony Music emphasises the importance of networking:

“The best advice I can give students who would like to work within the industry is network. If you don’t network you don’t get work. Two of the best things I went to while studying was Born to Be Wide and Wide Days (Scottish music networking events based in Edinburgh) which I discovered through Edinburgh College. Sometimes the topics weren’t always ones I was interested in, but I ended up meeting a lot of inspiring people and people who have helped me get to where I am now.

I heard about the Sony internship program at the Big Music Project while networking with one of the previous Sony Music interns. I had to fill out an application and send in my CV, a phone interview, attend an assessment centre, go to a face-to-face interview, do another phone interview, and then I finally got the job. I also got told halfway through the process that I didn’t get the job! Perseverance ha ha.”

How to get a job in the music industry

So in conclusion, while there may be no ‘rules’ exactly, we can maybe discern some factors that would make it much more likely you could get a job in the Music Industry:

i) Get experience whether it is voluntary or funded- this could range from volunteering at a festival or networking event to paid internships with a record label like Universal or Sony. Alternately you could do it yourself and start your own label or blog.

ii) Get to know the industry (and the opportunities that are out there): You can study at college or university to do this and at the same time start to get some experience, build up your network and your CV.

iii) Network: Attend as many networking events and conferences as you can. You can make lots of useful contacts or find out about opportunities that you didn’t know were available.

Post Electric Studios, Leith – The FEAST Interview

We were delighted when the guys from Post Electric Studios invited us in for a chat and allowed us to compile a short film. It’s truly a great place to record and the equipment they have down there will be the envy of every studio. Feast met up with studio head, Rod Jones (the same Rod Jones of Idlewild!) to discuss his role at Post Electric Studios and his approach to working with artists. Top Tip: just remember to bring biscuits!

1. What job do you do?
Well….many I guess although I wouldn’t call any of them jobs as I enjoy them too much. I produce records, play and write in Idlewild and my solo work and also am involved in metal health and music charities.
2. How did you get into music?
My parents are both classical musicians so it was in my blood.
3. What do you do for your job?
In producing I work with trying to get the best out if a band or artist and their music. This can involve anything from song arrangements, making them feel comfortable, encouraging them, helping them to envisage and realise their creative vision all the way to setting up microphones and trying to capture the song in the most creative and sonically engaging way.
4. What’s the best thing about your job?
Getting to work with a vast array of creative people from many different backgrounds both sonically and personally.
5. And the worst thing?
The long hours and when the artist forgets to bring biscuits.
6. How do you approach working with a band/artist?
It varies from person to person. An important part of Producing is being able to adapt and make whoever you are working with feel comfortable, inspired and free to create. You have to adapt to different personalities and know when to be good cop / bad cop…..
7. What the best bit of advice could give to band before they come in for a session? Practice!
8. How do you get musicians to perform in the studio? (how do you keep the energy of a studio session?)
Again, its about reading the situation and knowing when to have a break oratory something new. There is no formula unfortunately. You just have to try and become a temporary member of the band almost. If you care as much as they do about their recording / song then that’s a good place to start.
9. What would be the major reasons to go into a professional studio over a home recording set-up?
Quality and Committing to an idea. Home studio set up can be great and creative but often this gives you an open ended session. Sometimes its good to have a set amount of time and be in that moment. Commit to a sound or vision and make it the best to can be. Some things can be recorded well in any home studio but obviously some can’t. Its fairly easy to fake it now but its never quite as good as the real thing.
10. What about the room, what kind of difference does that make?
All the difference. There is no substitute for it. You can have the best microphones and console in the world but all they will capture is what they are in front of (unless they are omni / bi directional….). The same mics in the same position relative to the same drum kit will donut great in one room and awful in the next. A well treated, good vibes room will always make your job easier.
11. What software do you use?
Whatever the project dictates. For recording almost always Pro Tools.
12. What is your favourite compressors, and why?
The SSL bus compressor is hard to beat. It glues a mix together in a great way.
13. What is your favourite Microphone, and why?
Coles 4038 (preferably two of them).
14. What kind of processing to you do to “tape”?
EQ, some compression. Again depends. If we are committing to a specific sound then delay, flange, anything really.
15. Do you edit drums to get the best take?
Sometimes yes. Depends on the drummer and how well they paid attention to answer number 7……

16. What’s the best advice for a vocal session?
Try to get a performance rather than perfection. The vocal is usually the centrepiece and has to have a vibe and life to it.
17. What do you like about the sound of the Duality?
Its super clean and low noise. Its not so much about character as some consoles but it is very versatile.
18. In your opinion, what classifies as a good mix and a good master?
One that engages the listener. Its not about perfection for me, more about making the listener enjoy the song. Dynamics or character are super important.
19. What’s your working style?
Smooth canyon.
20. Who have you been listening to recently?
I’m often listening to old favourites as references for whatever session I’m working on so currently a lot of 90s alternative rock like Dinosaur Jr, Guided by Voices and some modern twists on this like Car Seat Headrest.
21. What qualities should a studio engineer have?
They need to be attentive, focused, personable and patient.
22. What qualities should a producer have?
See above plus creativity.
23. How important is it to you to capture the performance of the band/artist?
Incredibly important. Otherwise you should just type in the song by midi. Vibe and feeling are often overlooked, surprisingly in bedroom recording as there is so much programming and midi involved. Making a record sound real and giving it personality is something that is so much easier when musicians are performing.

Post Electric Studio
100 Constitution St, Edinburgh EH6 6AW

Film by Ewan Petit
Posted by Paul.


With only weeks to our annual Feast ‘blog party’ at Sneaky Pete’s on June 2nd, we thought we’d have a wee word with Fraser from NOAH NOAH who happens to front one of the most exciting bands around Edinburgh at the moment. So excited they agreed to perform at our forthcoming party!! Part of Edinburgh College’s Glow Festival.

NOAH NOAH press shot
How long have you been making music together?
NOAH NOAH formed in Autumn 2015 under the name ‘Grampa’ however the drummer, Rowan and myself have been playing in various bands together since we were 13 years old. The idea for NOAH NOAH came about while I was running an open mic at the Edinburgh pub The Blind Poet where I met our keys player Matt a few years ago. We have since played many acoustic gigs together in various pubs and clubs and eventually we decided it was time play some electro-pop. We saw Neil play in his other band Beckett and decided to steal him.

Is there a story behind the name?
I was chatting to a friend where I said “I don’t know a Noah, do you?” and so NOAH NOAH was born.

(Matt also reckons that as the last few animals boarded the Ark, there were a pair of unicorns running late who shouted “NOAH…NOAH!!!” to try and get Noah’s attention. However, they missed the boat and that is why there are no Unicorns. I am unconvinced.)

Who are your musical influences?
We come from a diverse and eclectic musical background but share a love for bands like Chvrches and Prides. With that electro-pop sound in mind we use other influences such as Biffy Clyro, the 1975, The Killers, Future Islands etc to try and create a sound that is a wee bit different. Influences are constantly changing however and can sometimes come from really unexpected places.

What process goes into the way you write songs?
Songs develop in so many different ways. Some of our set are songs that I had written on an acoustic guitar, or Matt had written on the keys then as a band we develop the sound. Other songs start as riffs or ideas that we jam in the studio and let them take shape. Currently we tend to write and record demos first then show them to the rest of the band, a pattern that Rowan started with our newest song. This system seems to work well but there is no rules!

What can people expect from your live shows?
We put a lot of effort into our live show to try and make sure the sound is as big as possible. People can expect a really energetic show that (hopefully) sounds great and looks great.

Funniest thing that’s ever happened at a gig?
We are just back from our first UK tour and although there was much hilarity there are some things we probably shouldn’t report…Although we have recently played a few shows with Glasgow band Start Static. No incident in particular however these boys are the definition of Glasgow banter and are always a great giggle. They are so Reckless!!

What can we expect to see/hear from you in the future?
We are planning to release a single with a B side in the very near future (stay tuned) and are also poised to announce a host of summer and autumn 2016 shows with a view to tour the UK again before the year is out. Head over to and give us a ‘like’ to stay in touch or sign up to our mailing list at

NOAH NOAH headline FEASTIVAL (FEAST’s annual blog party) at Sneaky Pete’s on Thursday 2nd June. Tickets here


With only weeks to our annual Feast ‘blog party’ at Sneaky Pete’s on June 2nd, we thought we’d have a wee word with Sam from TEEK who happens to front one of the most exciting bands around Edinburgh at the moment. So excited they agreed to perform at our forthcoming party!! Part of Edinburgh College’s Glow Festival.

How long have you been making music together?

TEEK have been making music since around December last year. I came over from the Isle of Man to do some recording but was so goddamn impressed with this little musical collective I found – the band, the producer, the promotion team and management and stuff – I literally packed in my job and relocated. The moment I decided for sure was actually during the first jam we had down at Banana Row. We freestyled this one entire track in particular (which we’ll be gigging) – kind of a deep house kind of sound – it was magic. We had such good chemistry, I was buzzing. So yeah, that’s when it all officially kicked off, I guess.

Is there a story behind the name?

Haha, of sorts. We had originally decided on “TEAK”, like the tree. We had a tree themed logo made up and everything. But then we found out some random dude in London had already registered it. I was pretty bummed as I’d already become quite attached, so Manuel – our lateral thinking lead guitarist – suggested we just change the spelling. Genius! I like this name loads more now. Plus it’s a weird little furry creature from the Star Wars universe and on urban dictionary is defined as “a person who is able to lift more than a standard human being. This guy is so teek he can deadlift his own Tacoma out of a parking stall.”

Who are your musical influences?

Oh man that’s a tough question, especially as it’s fairly early days for us and we’re still kind of carving out our sound. But I suppose it’s like some eclectic mix of Radiohead, Snarky Puppy, Gorillaz, Cherub, Bombay Bicycle Club, Gramatik …. if that even makes any sense whatsoever. Just come listen to us it’ll be easier.

What process goes into the way you write songs?

We’re definitely a jam band. I think our best stuff has definitely just come from when we’re warming up or closing down at the end of a session. We always make a point of spending at least half an hour or so at our sessions just organically jamming. There’s always music in the madness. Alternatively I bring my previous pretty simple loop pedal based songs to the band and they vastly improve them with their musical expertise. It’s a good workflow.

What can people expect from your live shows?

A whole lot of feel, five guys getting real, not much sex appeal.

Funniest thing that’s ever happened at a gig?

Well we have our first gig as a full band at Henry’s Cellar bar for our single launch on Friday the 13th (unlucky for some) this May. So somethings bound to go horribly wrong and we’ll get back to you.

What can we expect to see/hear from you in the future?

We have an awesome studio and producer to work with down in Cowdenbeath (straight out of Cowden?) called McGuti’s Productions (, a bunch of really talented, dedicated musicians, tons of material to work on and a great support team. So the sky’s the limit. All we know for sure is that we’re going to make a whole lot of music and have a butt load of fun. Come get involved with the journey.

TEEK launch their new single ‘Draw A Map’ at Henry’s Cellar Bar Friday 13th May 7.30pm



It is by far an amazing experience to discover new local bands in your area, especially when they are out supporting one of your favourite acts. This is exactly the case when I first heard Indigo Velvet when they supported The LaFontaines on their Edinburgh show in June of this year at The Liquid Rooms
Indigo Velvet describe themselves as a Tropical Pop Quartet and definitely have a feel good vibe both in their recorded music and their live performances.
The guys have been extremely busy right now with various exciting things such as bringing out a new single, playing Electric Fields Festival and an upcoming Edinburgh Headline show so it only felt right that I got in touch and seen what they had to say!

How long have you guys been making music together?
– “We have been making music together for almost two years now, and we really feel it’s starting to come together now!

How did you come up with band name “Indigo Velvet”?
– “Basically, trying to think of band names is the most tedious part of starting any band. We were sitting in Lauries house (bassist) and he had a purple throw lying on this bed. It’s so happened to be velvet so we then tried out different with the word ‘velvet’ and ‘indigo’ just really seemed to stick.

What are the bands musical influences?
– “Our musical influences all vary widely with Jason (guitar/ back vocals) taking a lot of his from listening to Nile Rodgers and Michael Jackson. Darren (vocals/guitar) taking his from growing up and listening to the likes of Queen and The Boss Bruce Springsteen. It kinda works though..when Billy’s (drummer) element of Little Mix gets thrown into the pot!”

What processes go into the way you guys write your songs?
– “For our song writing, we’d usually go into our studio and down to basically discuss what type of song we want to go for…but 9 times out of 10 that never seems to work and we end up writing the complete opposite! Usually we structure out songs round a solid drum and bass body and then we let Darren and Jason come up with neat guitar parts. Once that is done, Darren would then hum a melody and then take that away and write the lyrics by himself.

What can people expect at one of your shows?
– “Sweat, Hip Wriggling..and a party”

What is the funniest thing to happen at a gig?
– “Funniest thing that ever happened at a gig was when we played a festival a woman asked Jason mid-set if she could get up on stage and use a mic to try and find her friend. We were completely oblivious to what she was saying as it was all slurred..but she left before we could find her pal.

What can we expect to see/hear from you in the future?
– “We have a new single out 4th of September called ‘BLUE’ and a headline show at Electric circus on the 9th of October with Lisbon and Lewis Capaldi supporting. We have a lot of stuff lined up for the start of 2015 which will hopefully get us on the write track to success.

So that concludes my online interview with Indigo Velvet, but hopefully it won’t be the last time we hear from them! Below I have added ways to like/follow the band for future updates and to give them the support they deserve, thank you to Darren, Jason, Billie and Laurie for answering the questions.

Posted by Chloe McIntyre

Facebook- Indigo Velvet
Tickets and Merch-

Interview – Artist management in the 21st Century (part 4)

With the music business changing at an incredible speed, Feast invited Biffy Clyro manager Dee Bahl and Idlewild manager Bruce Craigie to discuss the ever-expanding role of the artist manager in the 21st Century. In the last of our four instalments Dee and Bruce talk about the investment, marketing and the Music Managers Forum.

Q: Are independent investors including management companies a realistic alternative to labels?

B.C. Yes, I think so. As I said, because it’s easier to get your music out there, there’s no reason why, if you build that team around that investment, there’s no reason why you can’t build up the artists profile to a certain stage where it becomes inevitable that a bigger record label might come along and pick you up. Ed Sheeran is the perfect example of that. He’s got to such a size where he had to be picked up. These stories are few and far between unfortunately, but it shows it’s possible. If you can work with a management company or a set of investors that understands the needs of the music business, I guess that’s one of the issues because the music business is one of those industries that’s very difficult to invest in because the goalposts change or the length of time it might take an artist to get onto that ladder or get successful might take longer than an investor anticipates and in the time of economic crisis it might be hard to find those investors that will give that amount of time and the repayment terms may not be satisfactory to the artist where the investor wants their money back a bit quicker. All of those things have to be taken into account but it’s a question of finding money wherever you can but you have to make sure everybody’s comfortable with the deal.

Q: How important is marketing and innovation important in creating and building an artists’ fan-base?

B.C. I’m still of the opinion that talent and ability is the basis of any career. It is important to get that out there but I’ve always felt slightly nervous of things being hyped or marketed because I think that people do see through that quite quickly. Whatever you do it needs to appear natural. I mean we all know how a piece of music on a bit of Youtube footage can suddenly exalt you into the stars so it can happen very naturally that way as well. It’s the trick of finding a nice natural way to do it but it does come back to talent and ability.

D.B. It’s almost everything. It’s vital in breaking a new artist or a new release. That’s why bands end up signing with major labels. The marketing budget that the majors can afford on campaigns is huge. It’s very difficult to do it online yourself. To have everything working in a coordinated fashion to gain a reaction from an audience is an expensive and time-consuming process.

Q: In the recent past there was a good deal of publicity around the appointment of Brian Message to head the Music Managers Forum. How do you feel about his appointment and the relevance of this trade organisation to the way managers do business?

B.C. I’ve never been a member of the forum, not for any real reason. I’ve been lucky in my early career as I had lots of experience at record company level so I kind of knew what was going on at record companies. I think it’s probably not a bad thing these days to have the forum there. If a young manager can learn from any individual or organisation that would seem to be a good thing from my point of view. Brian has been very successful in what they’ve done. Part and parcel of the way they do business has worked very well for them and they’re investing money into the business themselves so you can only applaud that kind of investment from their point of view.

D.C. Brian Message was originally an accountant, if I’m correct. In this day-in-age you need new business partners to emerge simply because of the lack of investment. So having someone like that who understands the business and how money can be generated can be a positive thing which other aspiring managers can learn from and Brian becoming the head of the MMF can only be a positive given his background with Radiohead. He must have learnt a lot given his experience as an accountant but he must also have learnt a lot from managing one of the biggest bands in the world. The organisation is relevant because people like him can pass that experience on and that can only be a positive. I’ve never actually joined the MMF but I recognise it’s a great way of networking. I’ve sort of gone out on a limb myself and I’ve learnt along the way and it’s worked out okay for me so far.

Interview – Artist management in the 21st Century (part 3)

Interview – Artist management in the 21st Century

With the music business changing at an incredible speed, Feast invited Biffy Clyro manager Dee Bahl and Idlewild manager Bruce Craigie to discuss the ever-expanding role of the artist manager in the 21st Century. In the third of our four instalments Dee and Bruce talk about the changing media landscape, funding and the changing role of the record label.

Q: Artists are increasingly gaining sponsorship from brands of all kinds. How do you feel about the way the market is moving?

B.C. I don’t really have a problem with sponsorship. I guess it depends on who the sponsor is and dependent on the artist really. Artists need financial help and you need to take it where you can really. It’s almost impossible to walk down the street without finding a sponsor somewhere. Most of the venues you play, the bigger venues are sponsored by somebody. I suppose it’s a question of where do you draw the line. I mean if they can help you realise your dream and help support you at an early stage then I don’t have a problem with sponsorship really.

D.B. It depends on the brands credibility and anything is acceptable depending on a bands situation. It depends on your values and your outlook on life. For me there has to be a balance because there is so much commercialism and you have to be aware of the feelings of your fanbase. If there is a negative connotation towards the brand that can have an adverse effect on your fanbase. There is no right or wrong here. It just means that there are potential opportunities for new ways of funding and if it’s an appropriate fit for the band then go with it. Things have to be run passed your lawyer and you must ensure your management team are not just doing it to make money.

Q: How has the changing media landscape affected the way you do business?

B.C. I think it’s changed certainly if you take into account the digital landscape as part of that it’s changed the way the business has worked in the last ten years. There is a saturation of digital outlets and you can spend all day everyday combing various outlets to look for music and find music. I still think it’s like back to the basics because you’ve still got to find the band and find what makes people come to that band. In many respects it was easier when there was just fewer outlets of media, you know you only had two radio stations or you only had three magazines. Now there’s magazines and online presence wherever you look. It’s very dissipated so it’s a question of using these to your advantage, finding the tastemakers that seem to be important. It seems that your facebook presence or you social media presence is important in terms of getting lots of people to your site and then those in the industry can see that and they can check on your status in terms of booking you for shows or getting involved with you and they can make a judgement on that straight away.

D.B. Bands have to work so much harder now to assess all the digital outlets available to them to for channelling their music to their fanbase or to continue to build their fanbase. Before the internet there were fewer media channels and so it was more straight forward about how and who to get your music to. There are now many more avenues for people to access and consume music and bands have to be more active in interacting with their audience and trying to establish a more direct relationship with their fans.

Q: Do you think the way people discover artists now has an impact on the longevity of an artist?

B.C. There are still those tastemakers such as Steve Lamacq and the Evening Session and previously John Peel or a writer you trusted in NME for example. Now it’s also a question of blogs and other artists building up profiles for other bands and recommendations and so there’s always going to be these tastemakers at local radio stations and small stations. Talking about the shelf-life for an artist, for a guitar band it used to be on a two to three year cycle when you made a record it would take another six months for the record to come out then you’d tour for a year and a half and the you’d make another record and before you knew it it was three years gone and it seems that with artists nowadays they have a new record out every other week if they’re popular and everything seems to be hammered home so quickly because the shelf-life seems to be so much shorter.

D.B. In terms of reality talent shows very few of them stay around for very long because the talent is questionable and also they may not be prepared to handle the exposure since the rise to the top is instant in their case.

Q: Given everything you and the artists need to supply to the labels and the media how has the role of labels changed?

B.C. In terms of the smaller labels they tend to take a lot less risks now because they don’t have the finances themselves to be able to support that world tour or make that big record in America or go and mix the record somewhere exotic. That just doesn’t exist anymore which may not be a bad thing. It does seem that with some of the labels or distributors you take a finished record to them now and sometimes cover some of the costs of the marketing and promotion yourself. There are less mid-sized labels now so you have to find the money to make the record before you approach the record company or the distributor and although it’s cheaper to make a record now you still want to make a good record to deliver to the label.

D.B. Labels are looking at other income streams now. For example, it’s not unusual for labels to have management teams or publishing and be involved in 360 degree models and be involved in every aspect of a bands career. Labels have changed as well due to how music is now being consumed. There were a lot more labels twenty years ago and there is not a lot of money available for development and that has a knock on effect on the money that’s available for new artists. How many bands have come through in the last five years from small venue to stadium level – very, very few. There is a direct lack of funding, if you haven’t made it on your first album you get dropped. How are people meant to succeed? With Biffy Clyro we were very lucky as we started on the independent label Beggars Banquet and we were allowed to go and make three albums and learn our trade before we went onto a major label. These kind of opportunities are very rare or don’t exist anymore. Very, very tough times out there.

Interview – Artist management in the 21st Century (part 2)

With the music business changing at an incredible speed, Feast invited Biffy Clyro manager Dee Bahl and Idlewild manager Bruce Craigie to discuss the ever-expanding role of the artist manager in the 21st Century.  In the second of our four instalments Dee and Bruce talk about the day in the life of a manager, how the role has changed and what a manager should look for in a band.


Q: What is a day in the life of a music manager like?  What aspects of your bands’ careers do you look after?

B.C.  It’s an interesting one that, particularly now, as it really depends on the role that you take on with the band and what part of their career you get associated with as I guess what the artists needs and what the artist wants to do is what basically changed my role.  Basically looking at the areas where they need assistance whether it is help with the show or help with the crew and building a team around the band if you don’t have a traditional record company.

D.B.  Pretty much on a day to day basis I’d be dealing with the bands lawyer, dealing with the accountant , their agent.  The international department of the label or the press department or it could be the TV department.  Really depends on where you are in the lifecycle of an album or a release which dictates what your day is going to be like.  With Biffy Clyro they’re a heavy touring band so a lot of time is dealing with aspects of that such as putting a crew together, appointing a tour manager and so I have to think months ahead of what the band might be doing.  I spend a lot of time with the bands accountant working on budgets with the record label.  If you’re going into record an album I’ll deal with liaisng with the record label, with the producer, with the producer’s management.  It’s never dull.


Q: What should other aspiring managers look for in a band?  What important contractual issues should a manager look out for, or what red flags should they be wary about when considering getting involved with managing an artist?

B.C.  When you’re looking for a band you’re looking for somebody that’s going to entertain you, that can write good songs, somebody that has an idea of their direction, somebody that has the drive and knows what they want to do and why they want to take on a manager.  What’s the right time to take on a manager?  What role do you want to take on as a manager and what are you able to facilitate?  I particularly go back to the artist having drive  if they want to have a career out of the business.  Pretty much every band I’ve worked with from within record companies, publishing companies, right through to managing bands has had a very strong idea of what they wanted to do and what they wanted to achieve out of music.

D.B.  They’ve got to love the music that a band are making because if you don’t you won’t love the people making the music and it’ll be difficult to sell the band to the world.  It was really hard in the early days to get people to believe in Biffy Clyro.  If I didn’t love their music I couldn’t have done that job.  Obviously you want people who can write good songs, who really want to succeed and are attentive to what you’re saying.  A manager can bring opportunity and a band have to be ready and willing to take these opportunities.  In terms of contractual issues, the term of the contract, your commission, your expenses – make sure you’re not saddled with a lot of the cost.  Also if the term of the contract is up or the relationship breaks down you need to know what you’re entitled to given the amount of work you’ve put in.


Q: Since you started being an artist manager do you find that the role is changing?  Are you becoming more central to the whole industry?

B.C.  Definately changed.  The traditional way for a manager of earning any money has changed.  It used to be that you’d find an artist and you’d take them to a record company or publishing company and they’d offer you an advance and then you’d take a commission on the advance from the artist.  There are a only a few of these deals done now as the industry has shrunk and the amount of money available has shrunk.  That has made the role change a lot really.  The role used to be to motivate your artist and motivate the label and that was an important thing and now you have to do what the labels used to do and you have to be an all-encompassing person so instead of going to the label and saying what do you think on the marketing campaign you’re now involved in that sort of thing.

D.B.  Looking after the band, the tours, the releases are the same.  However as technology develops the change has been in online activity, social networks and how music is accessed and consumed.  There has been changes in how much labels have become involved in all aspects of a bands career.  They will only get involved if a band signs a 360 deal.  They are much more cautious now about signing and working with bands.


Q: Is now a good time to be a manager?

B.C.  Sort of.  It’s exciting but it’s difficult to make any money and that’s the big issue. Unless you’re bankrolled by a big company or you have a huge act that can let you take on a few other things and develop them at the same time then it’s becoming increasingly more difficult. That’s one of the reasons  I wanted to get involved on the El Jam project as I thought there are good bands out there that don’t have the access to the knowledge and the wherewithal about developing as a band. For example, it’s surprising how many bands playing gigs don’t have a website or don’t have a logo and are giving away music at venues and not thinking about the future and it seems fundamental advise that needs to be given and that can set bands back.  If they get an opportunity and they’re not ready  it can set them back and that is really damaging for bands.

D.B.  It’s always a good time to be a manager.  It’s always going to be a tough job and a thankless job.  There are a lot of opportunities out there it just depends about how you want to make a difference in relation to the band you want to work with.

Interview – Artist management in the 21st Century (part 1)

With the music business changing at an incredible speed, Feast invited Biffy Clyro manager Dee Bahl and Idlewild manager Bruce Craigie to discuss the ever-expanding role of the artist manager in the 21st Century. In the first of our four instalments Dee and Bruce talk about the music industry in 2015 and their introduction to the role of artist manager.

Q: What are your predictions for the music industry in 2015?

Bruce Craigie: Hard to say unless the economy settles and the industry takes some better shape. In regards to the record labels they are either very big or very small with nothing in between and this has been lacking in the last few years which has made things very difficult for the development of rock bands or anybody who needs to tour because there hasn’t been the support network that there used to be when you were lucky enough to have a record deal that could help you with those things. A tricky time which I don’t see being any easier this year unless the economy settles.

Dee Bahl: Difficult to make predictions in this volatile climate but I’m hoping there is a sort of rise for the independents and they become a lot stronger and I’m hoping venture capitalists take a chance on emerging talent because it’s really hard to get funding and it’s really hard to get finance. There are some people out there with a little bit of money that can make a huge bit of difference. You’ve only got the three major record companies and there is not a hell of a lot of signing going on there, it’s very guarded considering the usual things I see getting picked up. I’m really hoping that the independent sector becomes a lot stronger and I think with the lack of money there will be opportunities for independent labels.

Q: What are you excited about in the music industry for 2015?

B.C. I think at the current time for better or worse in the digital era it’s never been easier to record music and get your music out there so that’s one of the things that’s really exciting but on the downside it’s never been harder to make a living out of the music business so it’s very difficult to quantify where you can collect any money from since it’s just such a broad scope of things that go on but what I like about it is that it feels like it’s back to being a cottage industry again in many ways and one of the things I’ve been talking about with the EL Jam project is that aim of self-sufficiency and building up your local scene and building up your own reserves and taking it one step at a time.

D.B. I’m becoming more aware of different business models of people who are trying to do things differently and almost go out on their own and give it a go and that’s exciting. There are a lot of bands out there who are doing their own albums and a whole range of people being creative and that can only be a good thing.

Q: Any great new bands and/or record labels you’ve come across?

B.C. All three of the bands within the EL Jam project are interesting in their own way. There’s Nick Tait & The Sharks who are the sort of middle group between ages of 16-18, there’s three sets of age groups and then there’s a young band from Preston Pans called The Next Big Nothing Band and then there is Art of Privilege who are the band from the18-25 age group so we’ve split it into three age groups for this pilot scheme. Beyond that I’ve been helping out this band from Glasgow called Fatherson who played at The Arches in Glasgow recently and they had a mini orchestra on stage with them which was very interesting. Then there’s a young band from Edinburgh I like called Precious & Grace and they’re students over at Edinburgh College and they’re a bit out of sync in terms of what they play musically – they sort of play seventies rock so they don’t sound like anything else and part of me likes that idea about them and they have lots of enthusiasm and so one to check out and of course the new label Tangerine, what more can I say.

D.B. Because of what I do a lot of my time gets absorbed in what I’m doing so it’s not always easy to come across new bands with limited time There is a young guy called Jonathan Carr and his music is slightly different and I’d like to see him do well. I’m looking at another act at the moment just to see if they can make the next step up so to speak.

Q: What led you to get involved in management?

B.C. I’ve been managing bands for about thirteen or fourteen years now and before that I worked in record companies. I worked at Go Discs and I worked at Chrysalis and I started of at Stiff Records and I ended up at a little label called Deceptive Records which I did some consultancy work for and that’s how I became involved in the management side of things by one of the bands that came through which is a band called Idlewild and I basically managed them from day one really and continue to do so. I came across Idlewild when I was working at Deceptive and we signed their publishing and we had a publishing deal through EMI music and that gave me the chance to quit the day job for a few months. They wanted to make some records with Deceptive so we put some records out and in the meantime we were negotiating a record deal for them and one of the labels that was interested in signing them said to the band why don’t you get Bruce to manage you and they said what a great idea and it just fell into that way and I’d been asked a number of times to manage bands but never actually taken the plunge as it were and that’s how I sort of fell into the management side of things really.

D.B. It happened by complete accident if I’m being honest. I’ve always been a bass player in various bands over the years and I came off tour once and my next gig wasn’t for a while and I always had this ambition to set up a small record label and so that’s what I did with a couple of mates. We didn’t have much money and we had to borrow money. Once we got things moving the two bands that we got for the label was a band called Aerogramme and a band called Biffy Clyro and we put out their first releases and one thing lead to another and basically by default I ended up doing a lot more for these bands and before I knew it I was their Manager. From my days of being in bands, any management company that had managed me or the band I was in basically had to come through me and I just had an aptitude towards management and I just knew how it worked. I also had a degree in Marketing and Management and I’m not saying that’s what cuts you out to become a Manager, you either have it or you don’t. I don’t see why anybody who is young and is aspiring to become a Manager can’t become one because as you go further into your career you learn a lot more. It’s not for the feint hearted. It’s not a dull job, it’s a very demanding job and it’s twenty-four/seven and I mean twenty-four/seven. However, the rewards are there to be had and it’s a very fulfilling job.

Posted by JD, 18th March, 2015



Following the recent release of their debut single ‘Young Souls’ and on the eve of their show with F**k Art, Let’s Dance and Penny Black at Cabaret Voltaire, FEAST met with Beeches for a chat.

How long have you been making music together?
A long time! Me (Oscar), Robert and Walter have known each other since before school and only began writing p in 2010. We met Amadeus in 2012 and asked him to play Bass while we were under the name ‘Chordless Beaches’. It all started from there really. It was around December 2013 when we changed to Beeches.

Is there a story behind the name?
We thought of Chordless Beaches at the very beginning of our band with a slightly different sound and line up, so by late 2013, we felt that it was right for us to change to Beeches. There were quite a few names in the running but Beeches just seemed to fit best I guess.

Who are your musical influences?
Hmmmm… always hard one. We have a pretty large variety of Influences. Bombay Bicycle Club, Dry the River, Jeff Buckley, the Maccabees and that kind of stuff influences our style directly. I would also say that the other genres of Music we’re into (classical, RnB, Jazz, prog. rock) affect the overall outcome of our music quite a lot too.

What process goes into the way you write songs?
Usually Oscar will write something on just one guitar, and then bring it to the others to ‘Beech’ it up. The finished product sounds pretty different from the original ideas quite a lot after this. Sometimes we do just sit down as a band and write a song together if we’re in the mood.

What can people expect from your live shows?
We like to think that we have a pretty dynamic live show. Loud, soft, ambient, upbeat, mental… We try to vary the moods and atmospheres in our songs to suit a live crowd and (hopefully) convey something to the listener.

The crowd usually goes mental too.

Funniest thing that’s ever happened at a gig?
Hahaha, I’d love to be able to say we destroyed cab vol one time, or that I broke my ribs stage diving off a humongous PA… but in reality our gigs seem to run pretty smoothly. At our last gig we covered 7 days by Craig David and that was pretty funny.

What can we expect to see/hear from you in the future?
We had our single launch for our first official release under ‘Beeches’ at the Liquid Room on the 15th of March. We hope to record some more in summer too, and hopefully this will be released before autumn 2014.

In general though, Beeches will be gigging and as much as we can 2014.

Beeches play Cabaret Voltaire tonight (Friday 27th June). Doors 7pm. Tickets available