Rising Star: Coda's Jess Kinn

Jess Kinn: “Mental health is a big issue”

The biz's brightest new talents tell their stories. This week, meet Coda's Jess Kinn

How did you get into the business?

I decided not to go to university, as I always knew I wanted to work in music. At 16 I began DJing under the name Barbarella, then at 18, I got a position at the Leighton Pope Organisation. After being made redundant, at 19 I applied to be an agent assistant at Coda. I didn’t get the job, but they asked if I wanted to start on reception. Less than two months later, a job came up as agent assistant to Nick Matthews and Dave Blackgrove. I got it, and began doing all admin for Dave and Nick for live acts and DJs. It was tough, but I really enjoyed it. I’ve now been here for nearly seven years, and I work with Nick booking acts such as Shawn Mendes, Halsey and Faithless. I am building my own roster, which includes Ark, Bree Runway, Dusky Grey, Lowes, Mallrat and Pizza Girl.

What’s the best thing about being an agent?

You can really be creative and help shape an artist’s career. I love discovering acts and being instrumental in their development. The live music experience can never be replicated, so it’s exciting in this era of streaming that it’s still so integral. So much of this job is about relationships, and I love dealing with people. Coda is very forward-thinking and they want us to have an opinion and grow as individuals. They let us be ourselves.

How would you advise young agents?

Things won’t come to you, you have to be prepared to fight and not take ‘no’ for an answer. There’s no shame in starting from the bottom. I’ve always been ambitious and known that moving up doesn’t happen overnight. Always be kind and supportive. I lost an act to another agency and I made sure I kept on good terms with the manager, and he recommended me to another artist who I’m now working with. Get in early and stay late. Go with your gut and believe in yourself. Be humble and remember you’re always learning!

What are the biz’s biggest problems?

The industry is typically male-dominated and I like to think I’m of a generation of women who are challenging this. Being a woman in this industry isn’t easy and I’m determined to break the mould and I hope there will be more young female booking agents. A woman in the industry once told me, ‘Whatever happens, if you need to cry, make sure you do it in the toilets’. I don’t agree. Mental health is a big issue. We work in a high-pressure environment and it’s ok to be vulnerable.

If you could ask music biz advice from one person, who would it be?

My granddad Maurice Kinn, who founded the NME. He passed away when I was 10. I’d ask him how he started his own booking agency and what it was like to promote The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.

What is your dream music job?

Adele’s publisher.

JESS’ RECOMMENDED TRACK: Suzi Wu – Teenage Witch

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