It is called the music business, right?
The same basic principles learned in business school play out daily in the success or failure of rock legends and newcomers.
CHAPTER 1: INTRO ‘ALL THIS ACCORDING TO ME’
I wanted to write a book that I would read. I wanted it to include some stories, be entertaining, have humor but I wanted there to be something people could learn from the stories. I wanted them to benefit and to learn as I had learned from the people I worked with.
For some it’s a book, for me it’s really a diary, a perfect way to remember those times and relive some of those moments. It’s to help me understand some of the lessons the music business taught me and about how vital those lessons were. Even though they are lessons I learned from rock n roll they apply to us all. They are about real life.
CHAPTER 2: INSIGHTS FROM THE ENGINE ROOM, WHAT’S THAT ALL ABOUT THEN?
Insights from the Engine Room is about the music industry. it’s about the people I met along the way. It’s about teaching some and learning from others. It’s about where they came from and where they went and what happened to them in between. It’s about how they became who they are. It’s about real people and it’s littered with real stories.
It’s a book about the world I grew up in, first as a fan until I was given the chance to make a living from it. It was the the job I never expected that I would never let go. It was an opportunity and it was one hell of an adventure. It was this pilgrim’s progress.
CHAPTER 3: SCHOOL CAME AND WENT, BUT I WASN’T READY FOR WORK
Music had always been my life; work was only ever a means for some disposable income to buy records. It was then that I sent my application off to the record label and thought nothing more of it. I couldn’t; if I had, I would have spent every day gazing out of the window just dreaming about working in the music business!
Ray offered me the job as ‘Northern Sales Representative.’ I couldn’t believe it, I still can’t believe it. One of the most exciting days of my life. This was it, my big opportunity and I was determined to make it a success. I wasn’t going back to any dead end job. No way!
CHAPTER 4: ISLAND DAZE
I ambled along the streets and in to the famous St Peter’s Square, the home of my all time favorite record label. I walked past the park and there on my right – No. 22 – my spiritual home, the home of Island Records, the most beautiful building in the world. This was the most exciting label on earth, I’d grown up listening to their artists and now I might have an opportunity to join their illustrious ranks. This was too good to be true. I had always adored this label from the moment I discovered music. Free and Traffic were two of the first records I ever bought and ever since then I had started to collect the catalogue.
The place looked amazing and I wanted to steal everything off the walls. It was totally different from Transatlantic where Ray had worked in a tiny office at the warehouse. The only thing I ever wanted to steal from there was the receptionist. Funny, the place was empty, not one solitary person was in the room. Where the hell are they? I’d arranged to be there for 2pm and the place was empty, they had better not gone out of business?
CHAPTER 5: OPPORTUNITY, THE SLINGS AND ARROWS OF OUTRAGEOUS FORTUNE
When I first met Simon Cowell he’d already tasted failure. He was in his 30′s, he’d been bankrupt twice and was living with his parents. The experience proved invaluable, he never looked back. Every opportunity any artist was given was my opportunity too, their chance was my chance and I would be judged on my ability to deliver who they wanted, when they wanted. Working with new artists I was able to tell them about the times U2 struggled for recognition, just waiting for that one opportunity to come, always looking out for it. Although we all played a part their greatest achievements were their own doing.
CHAPTER 6: RISK: THE THRILL OF THE CHASE
The music business is a risk business; it always has been. If you’re unknown, you’ll try anything to get yourself known and if you’re well known, you’re always looking over your shoulder for someone who’s trying to knock you down.
There’s a risk attached to almost everything you do. You might be taking a bigger risk than you think by just not taking a chance on something! Never blind yourself to the possibilities of what might happen. Try to imagine risk as excitement instead of fear, push out a little further and you might want to push out a little more.
CHAPTER 7 : COMMUNICATION: GROUND CONTROL TO MAJOR TOM
Impressions count, especially the first ones and for a lot of people their lasting memory is the first time they met you. If you change, they remember how you were not how you became. Some people are a pleasure to do business with, others a necessity and you will need to adapt to whatever situation you find yourself in.
Being charming never did anyone any harm. Approach your job with enthusiasm and optimism and you’ll find the people around you will be just as keen to make it a happy environment. Smile. Be nice, it isn’t that hard to do. It’s integral to the art of communication and essential to the way we do business.
CHAPTER 8: PUBLIC RELATIONS: THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD…YOU HOPE!
Public relations, where dreams are made up and reality can get you in a lot of bother! Be realistic, if it seems improbable then it probably is. Find an achievable goal and try to reach it.
It’s important for a good PR agency to have strength in depth. Experience is vital, new blood essential. Balance the mix. Have young enthusiastic whippersnappers working with technology, social media etc finding new ways to get the message across. Compliment the team with older more experienced people who have survived on reputation.
CHAPTER 9: MOTIVATION
Motivation, it’s the buzzword nowadays in business, in training, in leadership and in speaking. It’s everything everyone wants to know, why they have it and why someone else doesn’t. We all get motivated by different things and we all need to identify what it is that gets us motivated.
Creative energy flows when you are around motivated people. You find everyone contributes their own ideas and offers their own solutions. They look for ways for something to work rather than reasons for it not to.
CHAPTER 10: ART OF MANAGEMENT
If you ever want to manage a band make sure you get a good lawyer, no make that a GREAT lawyer. Expect the worse and it can only get better. There needs to be a structure and there needs to be a plan. Where do I want to be in six months, a year? Think about it, if you don’t know then no one else is going to care. Think it over and save everyone the hassle.
Successful management needs to be the result of innovative thinking, collaboration and hard work. Throw creativity in to the mix and you’re on the way. It helps if your record company has half a brain too.
CHAPTER 11: INTERPERSONAL SKILLS: KNOWING WHAT TO DO, HOW TO DO IT AND WHEN TO DO IT.
Be respectful of others; if you have the time, they may not. Remember the names of the people you meet. It’s shows you’re a listener. Always know as much as you can about the person you are talking to and especially the job they do. The more you you know about them the easier it will be to understand them and work out how best to deal with them.
Share your knowledge with others. The one thing I valued as much as anything in all my years in the music business was the opportunity to learn from others. From the day you start everybody you meet is more experienced than you, even if they only started a day earlier. I was fortunate enough to have mentors, people I met along the way who taught me so much. There comes a time when you want to share that knowledge and put something back, help others starting out.
If someone asks something of you it’s a compliment. It means they value your opinion and are interested in what you have to say. Take the time to give the time. If you want to criticize someone then make sure you offer constructive criticism. It’s better to say ‘Have you thought of doing it this way’ instead of ‘That won’t work.’
CHAPTER 12: COLLABORATION: JOIN TOGETHER WITH THE BAND.
Managing creativity is undoubtedly where collaboration can be seen working effectively in the music industry. Artist development, the thing closest to my heart and the reason we have heroes, was always about collaboration on all levels. The manager would collaborate with their artist to maximize creativity. By delegating they took away the unnecessary obligations which could be better served by other members within the team.
Collaboration is everywhere in business today. It’s the whole Wiki theory where businesses are not only encouraged to collaborate with their customers but with their competitors too.
CHAPTER 13 MISTAKES: COCK UPS AND BLUNDERS (OOPS I DID IT AGAIN)
Always be trying to do something with someone and not worry if it does fail. As creative people learn from failure so will you. Embrace those mistakes and realize that the most important lesson you can learn from mistake is the experience itself.
The first mistake is to never think you’ve made one and once you’ve made one you’ll only wish you made one sooner. So what if you do fail? If you haven’t failed you haven’t taken enough risks. It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get back up again.
CHAPTER 14: INNOVATION: THE TIMES THEY ARE A CHANGIN’
What is now proven was once someone’s idea. The innovators are the creators of ideas and without ideas business will stand still. As innovation continues it will evolve in ways we don’t always understand in directions we can’t always see and from people we don’t even know. Embrace every new idea like it’s the last one you’ll ever have. Seek as much knowledge from your competitors as your colleagues and share that knowledge with others. Challenge what you don’t understand and never be afraid to ask. Knowledge comes from questions not from answers.
CHAPTER 15: THE CELEBRITY FACTOR: FAME AND THE NAMELESS GAME
A wanabee celebrity will do absolutely anything if there’s a chance for them to be on television or in the papers. They think that if they’re on television they’re famous but they’re not, they’re confused. They’re mixing up fame with notoriety. If you are desperate to get in the papers (and are female..) you are very good at falling over, going out without any underwear on and always dating men with video equipment.
Word of advice, get a good PR who can protect you from yourself. Every day there’s a train wreck waiting to happen and remember there’s never anything any good to come out of a train wreck except mangled bodies. We don’t need any more celebrity pile ups.