Music industry veteran Korda Marshall gives you ten top tips you won’t learn in a lecture theatre (and one for luck)…
Korda Marshall is a music business legend. He discovered and signed Muse for a start. But that’s not all. He has held top posts at major labels, including RCA, East West/Atlantic and Warner Bros. Records, as well as founding his own independent label, Infectious Records, working with the likes of Ash, Garbage, Funeral For A Friend, The Darkness, James Blunt, alt-J, Bloc Party and The Temper Trap.
Having sold Infectious to BMG in 2014, Marshall now heads BMG’s frontline records business as UK EVP New Recordings. So, pay attention…
1) Embrace change. Run headlong into it and get yourself ahead of the curve. BIMM will teach you what has happened in the music industry, the really important thing is what’s going to happen. Look forward to how music will continue to change our cultural landscape.
2) Be nice. And not just when it suits. Be nice to everybody. Return every phone call. Listen to every track you’re sent and make sure you get back to them. Don’t gossip, don’t put people down, don’t be negative.
3) Choose your influences wisely. Learn from the right people. And when you’ve figured out who they are, listen to them and study them.
4) Networking is important. And it’s not all about schmoozing, it’s about being smart. When I was a talent scout at RCA, part of my job was to make tea and coffee and I learned how the artists liked it. And I mean exactly how they liked it. I would count the granules and measure the temperature. So when I gave Eurythmics legend Dave Stewart his coffee, it was always perfect for him. And when he was looking for someone to do some tape copying and come down to the studio, he picked me, because he’d noticed me and he knew me. Don’t hassle or hustle, but think about creative ways of standing out from the crowd and strengthening a relationship.
5) Aim high. Dream big. Believe in yourself. That’s really, really important, you’ve got to have ambition.
6) Work hard. When I was in my 20s I would go and see up to five bands five to six nights a week. Work during the day, listening to tapes, we’d get black bin bags full of them at RCA and I’d get through two or three of those a week and then see up to five bands in the evening. If you really want to achieve, work hard and success will come.
7) Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. I’ve made many, many mistakes. Making the same mistake twice is stupidity, making the same mistake a third time is a firing offence, but don’t be afraid of making a mistake. Just be sure you learn from it.
8) Always say yes rather than no. If you say yes, a door opens and there’s movement. If you say no, a door closes and everything stops.
9) Consume. And consume eclectically. Don’t just be interested in what’s on your doorstep, be interested in everything. Be curious. Explore world culture. We live in a global village so don’t just be that little indie band from Camden. That was the 90s. Be an internationalist.
10) Listen to your emotions, not to the crowd. I’ve made million pound decisions because the hairs on my arms stood up. I’ve been in rooms where 17 people have said no and I’ve said yes because the hairs on my arms stood up. I trust my emotions and I trust my emotional connection to music.
11) Help people. We’re all learning all the time and the biggest way to learn is through your peers.