Working towards a fairer music industry

In Conversation With :
Harrison Jones

Hailing from Luton, Harrison Jones is an A&R and Management assistant at London based record label Another Rhythm. In his early 20s and at the start of his career, he talks us through his journey from leaving uni to landing his first job, and speaks about the importance of helping more working class people into music industry roles.

A&R, Management

Firstly, tell us a bit about yourself (who you are, where you're from, what role you currently hold)

I’m Harrison Jones from Luton Town, I am A&R + Management assistant at The Other Songs / Another Rhythm. I also manage a band called Midlight.

What made you want to work in music management and how did you go about landing your first job in the industry?

I was raised on music from a young age - my Dad being very heavily into late 70s Punk. Records, posters, music constantly playing. I started playing drums at a young age before learning how to produce music, which is what I wanted to do originally - I wanted to make records and be a producer. I did this for a while, from about the age of 13 - 18, until I landed my first proper job in Music.

When I was 16, whilst doing the music course at Barnfield College, I was lucky to have the opportunity to do some work experience at Circus Records which is run by fellow Lutonian Simon Swan. This was my first real look into what it was like to work in the ‘business’ and I was immediately inspired. After that, my first proper job was with Be-Hookd Digital. The CEO, George, was doing a talk at my university and I was really gripped by his journey from uni to building a successful company in the music biz. I made sure I was asking questions and engaging with the chat. Immediately after the talk I him up on email, we met for a coffee the next week and then that was that. George took me on and I really got to cut my teeth in music and work across some outstanding acts such as Kano, Paul Weller, The Who + more.

Did you go to university? 

Yep, I went to the University of  Westminster and studied Commercial Music (BA). The course was great as it had mix of music ‘business’ focussed modules and more creative production focussed modules if you wanted.

I wouldn’t be working in the business now if I hadn’t gone to Westminster. My first boss George was a fellow alumni and I have made many great friends and connections through going to Westminster that will forever be valuable. The lead singer of the band I manage for example, we were very tight in Uni. There’s also a lot of the cohort who are doing great things both on the business side and musically.

Going to uni to study music won’t get you a job on its own, you have to make your connections and be sure to get the most out of your time there. Opens you up to a huge network.

How did you land your current role at The Other Songs?

When I was at Be-Hookd we had worked with The Other Songs on a project, when I saw that they were advertising a role earlier in the year I reached out. We had some great chats and then led to them offering my role now. I guess it’s a good example of always keeping in touch with people you meet/work with, even if it was only brief!

What does your typical day-to-day look like?

Day to day can vary quite a bit as it really depends what is happening with our artists at the time. Are we gearing up for a release? Is someone playing 5 shows over the weekend? Are they writing their next project and need producers/co-writers/vocalists? Depending on what is happening, this will help me prioritise workflow. Being a small team - we cover a lot between us so things generally are quite fluid

I’ll always start the day in the emails, confirming any details for any studio sessions, live shows we may have that week. I’ll then usually do any paper work, invoices, etc. that are needed to be sent off. Assisting Billy, I try to get the paperwork side of things dealt with as quickly as possible so we have more time to focus on other areas.

Searching for new artists, songwriters, producers is always on the agenda. Contacting artists managers and A&Rs from other publishing companies too. Trying to put the right people together to write some great music.

What are the best and hardest parts of your job?

The best part is being able to help and be on the journey with some really talented artists. I love meeting and connecting with new people and there is a lot of that in what I do.

On the A&R side, putting two (or more) people in a room and hearing an outstanding song come out of that is also very rewarding.

The hardest part I would say is staying ahead of the curve. Things move at the speed of light and you have to always be hustling to try and be at that cutting edge

As someone at the start of their career, what are some of the changes you'd like to see or help implement in the music industry?

I saw a statistic the other day which stated that just 16% of those who work in the creative industries are from a working class background. Being part of that 16%, I would love to help others from a similar background get their start in the industry. It may not always seem like there’s a route in but there are definitely ways in which you can increase your chances of meeting the right contacts and help make things happen for yourself.

What skills should people wanting to work in music management have?

Patience. People skills. Being organised. Not be driven by your own-ego. You’re working to help your artist(s) reach their full potential and have a successful career - that should be the sole focus.

I always say to the band I manage, you guys are building the ship - I’m just trying to steer it in the right direction and avoid any crashes!

How can someone looking to get into this line of work get started? What will impress a potential employer?

Sounds cliche but truly working hard and ensuring that you’re going above and beyond what is needed for the role on paper. From what I’ve experienced, being involved in extra curricular music related bits in your own time is always a plus and shows that you truly want to make a way for yourself in this industry.

Finally, what's been your proudest moment to date?

It’s difficult. Myself along with many others working in live music lost their job last due to the pandemic - I was working at CAA at the time which was brilliant. But I am most proud that I have managed to get back to it with the brilliant team I have joined here at The Other Songs / Another Rhythm. Also, Midlight who I manage having a sold out show in Hackney this year was great.