What do you do in the Scottish Music Scene?
I represent a number of artists, currently 20, on my Reaction Management roster. We are a consultancy/management agency. I’m now into my 3rd full-time year and have a couple of agents who manage bands on the roster too.
What made you want to get involved?
I’ve been in the music industry best part of 30 years from a performer to a promoter and now in management. It’s just something that’s always been in my blood, and once I had moved on from performing in bands the next logical step was to stay within the industry and develop my personal skills.
What’s the best thing about the Scottish Music Scene?
The diversity. I have 20 bands/artists on the roster and no two bands are alike. From folk, indie and pop to alt-rock, metal and even hip-hop.
Did anybody help you get started in the Scottish Music Scene?
I studied music management and performance at college in the 90s which lead me to promoting bands in Glasgow. I learned so much from the course and was involved in some pretty cool placements including DF Concerts. The late 90s is when I properly started to promote local bands across Glasgow, including a certain Biffy Clyro before they were the international stars that they are today. From then on everything was self taught, every day was a school day of sorts and even to this day I’m learning new things.
Who inspires you in the Scottish Music Scene?
I’m inspired by a lot of people in our scene, ground level upwards from young musicians just starting out to the more established artists. I look at some of the big Scottish promoters – your DFs and Triple Gs – and they all started from the grassroots scenes. My biggest inspiration comes from the people I speak to day in day out, the artists on the roster. I love hearing raw, new music before it’s even close to being mixed and mastered and thinking to myself, wow this is already incredible, it’s a perk of the job for sure. I’m surrounded by so much creativity.
Who’s your favourite Scottish Artist?
That’s a difficult one. Other than the artists I represent there are so many favourites from the likes of Biffy Clyro or Mogwai and going back to groups like Garbage and Simple Minds. I love singer-songwriters too. Big fan of KT Tunstall among others. It’s hard to nail one favourite down amongst a plethora of Scottish talent. So much new music coming out of Scotland across all the genres which is why I love my job so much!
What advice would you give to somebody wanting to get involved?
Don’t! If you want to age 10 years in 10 months then fire in haha! Joking aside though, if this is something you want to get involved with then be absolutely serious and professional about your role in whatever side of the industry is. I’ve found in my experience there are so many posers in this industry that do the job because they feel it earns them ‘cool points’, something to post on social media and get attention, don’t be like that, do it because it’s in you to do it, be passionate about the role you have and the artists you work with. The posers don’t do the job well and move on when the attention drops or the work gets too hard. Be committed. It’s an extremely stressful and demanding industry too so be prepared for that. Look at getting some experience from the ground up and learning from those already working in the scene as well as educating yourself. I’ve now started to bring in students looking for experience in management too and helping them tick off requirements for their college courses.
Things to avoid doing when starting out in the music industry?
Getting too far ahead of yourself and setting unachievable targets. Small goals will see you go further and every achievement you tick off is more experience. Also avoid the sharks, they are everywhere and can smell fresh blood like no other. If something seems too good to be true it most likely is. Most importantly don’t be afraid to make mistakes, and hold your hands up to them, learn from them and move on.
The best bit of advice you’ve received?
Surround yourself with people who have the same passion and work ethic as you. I once confided in someone when I was a singer that I could see that my band mates didn’t have the same vision as me, and that maybe I was just wanting too much. The reply to that was “You don’t want too much, you just want it more than them”. That has stuck with me forever. That person was the ‘celebrity villain’ who the band had been working alongside with at the time. That’s a whole other story though haha. Dave Courtney. That advice was great as I looked at those people around me in the bands I sang with or the people I worked with after I hung up my mic and said to myself do they want to achieve the things I want to achieve? Are they willing to make the same sacrifices?
INDUSTRY INSIDER | BEHIND THE SCENES WITH JAY BURNETT
What do you do in the Scottish Music Scene?