SJM Concerts booking assistant Paris Harding talks about his music industry journey, from DJing and producing, to building the live profiles of UK rap stars including Nines, AJ Tracey and Stormzy.
How did you get into music?
“Originally, the focus was always production. My first real industry experience was in 2011/12 with a few remixes for Sneakbo, Steve Aoki and some others. I kicked on with a few of my own releases, one being with Red Bull, which helped create some useful in-roads and opportunities. It was a pretty natural step into a producer/DJ role. Over the next few years I was DJing at local residencies and specialist bookings, with regular radio shows on Rinse FM and Radar Radio. I managed to land some good support slots and events while trying my hand at promoting club nights. I was able to develop an ear for spotting new artists, anticipating trends and stay on the pulse while building connections and experiences. I then had a go at talent booking for a festival. That was my first taste of this side of the industry. We reached out to SJM’s Chris Wareing for some advice and that’s how we met. He later gave me the opportunity to work with him, and here I am!”
What’s the best thing about your job?
“My passion has always been music and the culture that surrounds it, whether that’s creating, analysing, discovering or just contributing in any way I can. To be able to continue doing that daily – from discovering artists, developing relationships, routing tours, building offers for the likes of Stormzy, Tion Wayne, Nines, AJ Tracey and dozens of US artists, all of which I listen to as a fan – is crazy, and something that keeps me constantly inspired.”
How optimistic are you about the future of live music?
“I’m hoping we’ve seen the worst of the pandemic, provided the correct measures are maintained in reopening venues safely, I think we’re in a good position. Live music is irreplaceable and 2021 and 2022 are looking mad busy already.”
Live music is irreplaceable
Paris Harding, SJM
What should the live sector learn from 2020?
“Humility, empathy, resilience and insurance policies.”
What’s your dream music job?
“Moving forwards, I imagine it will be less about one specific role and more about being fluid and putting all your attributes and USPs to work if and when they’re required. I’d love to be able to discover an artist, produce/A&R the project, promote the tour, help design the artwork and merch and score the promotional video. I’ll even be the warm-up DJ if needed!”
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