The biz's brightest new talents tell their stories. This week it's the turn of Meenal Odedra, founder of The Music Assistant.
How did you get into music?
“I started off by organising a string of hip-hop open mic nights in my hometown, called Get Crunk’d, which probably wasn’t the best title in hindsight! I worked with the local council and police to give young people a safe space to perform and this led to me being picked for the The Metro and the Department For Children, Schools And Families’ 19 Under 19 campaign. I began attending studio sessions with the winners from the open mic nights and ended up becoming a de facto manager to them. I then went to university and juggled internships while studying. I’d often get the Megabus from Bristol to London for one hour meetings with artist managers. I was persistent and annoying. That’s my advice: be persistent and annoying!”
How important is it to be versatile?
“Very, especially as the industry moves so quickly. I’m lucky enough to have experience in a range of roles [at Columbia, Syco, Universal Music Publishing Group and others] from labels, to PR, to retail and publishing, so I have a well rounded understanding of things. The experience and skills I learnt from each job were integral to setting up my own company The Music Assistant this year. Working with Aruba Red, Urban Development, AIM and more, Music Assistant offers assistance services to small companies and artists, from admin support to project management, social media to events.”
How do you want to make an impact?
“I want to make it easily accessible for future generations. My parents were shopkeepers, I don’t come from a musical family and it was hard for me to find my feet. If you want change, you can’t just sit on the sidelines and wait for something to happen. I sit on the UK Music Futures Group and the BRITs Diversity Committee because I’m passionate about change. I’m part of the Shesaidso Mental Health Committee because it’s so important that we talk honestly and openly about mental health struggles.”
What changes would you make?
“I’d change this ‘never not working’ mindset that so many people have. We work in such a demanding industry, and there’s pressure to be switched on 24/7. I’d put an emphasis on self-care, a healthy work/life balance is imperative and working late in the office shouldn’t be the norm. I would love it if all companies gave staff mental health days, and I would love to see alcohol alternatives served at every gig!”
What’s the best advice you’ve had?
“I’m lucky to have some incredible friends that I can go to for advice. Remi Harris, co-founder of Young Guns Network, gave me some great advice and direction when I was setting up The Music Assistant. But the biggest recent lesson was to be happy in what I do, there’s no point having the best job in the world if it leaves you feeling empty.”
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