Each week, we profile the brightest young talent in the industry. Here, we meet Matt Dodds, senior artist/A&R manager at JEM Music Group.
How did you get into the industry?
I’ve wanted to be in the industry since I was 14. During breaks at school, I’d spend my time reading Donald Passman’s guide to the music industry. I’d highlight the shit out of it even though I didn’t understand a word. At 16, I was doing internships across the Universal labels, but I got my break at 19 with Colin Lester at Twenty First Artists. I was at TFA for a year before Colin set up JEM. He took myself and Alex Fisher with him and we’ve been at JEM ever since.
What is the key to good music management?
Firstly, put music first. We can all get caught up in stats, but without great music everything else is irrelevant. Before doing anything with your artist, make sure you have quality. It’s easy to get distracted by playlists and Facebook likes, but that should always be secondary. Secondly, for young managers, it’s important to not let your ego get in the way of learning. All of us youngsters are guilty of thinking we know it all, but working with someone that’s been doing it for 35 years, I’m reminded on a daily basis that I know fuck all in the grand scheme of things.
What issues do managers face?
The same issues that there have always been. There are only so many great artists in this world and finding them is difficult. The industry wants content at such a relentless pace that not everything can be pure quality. Artists need to be given the time and space to make timeless music without being worried that they’re going to lose monthly listeners on Spotify if they don’t put something out every month. There’s too much focus on releasing music and not enough on making it great.
How do you see the biz’s future?
I’m positive about it. The demand for music is never going to diminish, so it’s just about finding the best ways to facilitate that demand which benefit both artists and the people in the background. I definitely think it’s getting there. I do think, however, that there needs to be a bigger focus on teaching A&R. I’ve been lucky enough to jointly A&R two Craig David LPs, and I’ve learned a lot from being given the freedom to get on with it.
What’s the most difficult situation you’ve encountered so far?
One day you can feel like you’ve had a major breakthrough and, the day after, you can be crashing back down to earth. That’s just the way it is though and is part of the fun. Stick together during the difficult times and celebrate the good!
What’s your biggest ambition?
To be involved in timeless music. I want to be in my 80s and have my grandchildren know about records I’ve been involved with.
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