Artist manager Josie Wilkinson talks the music business in 2020 and her journey from reception at CAA to YMU Group...
What was your big break in music?
“It was a pretty hectic time, I was 21 and fresh out of university, working at a bagel shop in East London and doing my fifth unpaid music marketing internship. I was also sofa surfing, so I’d turn up to work with a suitcase every day! A friend at CAA helped get me an interview with Emma Banks, and I landed my first job, on reception. It was a great start – familiarising myself with people who called and came in for meetings, getting to know agents and their rosters and going to loads of gigs. I then moved into the music department assisting Summer Marshall. I remember us booking Sam Smith’s first London show and chasing the £100 fee. Over three-and-a-half years at CAA, I learned a lot and I worked alongside many managers, which inspired my move into management. I was in awe of their day-to-day involvement with artists.”
What’s been your biggest lesson?
“Don’t turn down an opportunity because it doesn’t initially feel like it’s in your comfort zone. I’ve learned something new about myself from every opportunity I’ve taken, both where I’ve wanted to go and where I didn’t. Being thrown in at the deep end can be good, it gives you a chance to strive and prove yourself.”
We must evolve to become an inclusive industry
What makes a good manager?
“So many things! First and foremost, I’m always conscious of being patient and honest with people. Communication really is key. Artists are especially creative by nature, and can be complex to collaborate with. Certain approaches aren’t going to suit everyone, so I try to find out how best I can communicate and support each individual, on a personal level.”
How will the biz emerge from 2020?
“It’s an important time for many reasons. During the pandemic, I’ve had space to assess the aspects of our working environment that need to change: the lack of diversity and representation, structural racism, the way we work, the pace of life itself... Focus has shifted and it’s given us much needed perspective. I’m happy to see many companies, including YMU, begin to enact meaningful change, and build a business infrastructure to be proud of. There is a lot of work to do, and a lot of uncertainty, but I’m interested to see what the future holds. We must evolve to become an inclusive industry, and I want to be part of the movement.”
What would you do if you were in charge of the industry for a day?
“Put everyone on the same time zone...”
JOSIE'S RECOMMENDED TRACK: