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Advice from a major label boss to young bands

Advice from a major label boss to young bands

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For the last two months, I’ve been doing a weekly column for the Irish Times (along with one about new Irish music) where I talk to people who make a living working in the Irish music business. So far, I’ve talked to an artist manager, festival manager, independent label owner, venue manager, DJ, lighting designer and small record shop owner.

This week, I talked to Mark Crossingham, the managing director of Universal Music Ireland. Mark is a enthusiastic and plugged-in honest guy with his ear to the ground. As well as his company dealing with Mumford & Sons, Taylor Swift, Hozier, Rihanna and Lady Gaga, they have recently taken a renewed interest in signing bands from Ireland to their label which have included The Riptide Movement, Le Galaxie, Walking On Cars and Delorentos.

Mark also offered some advice to bands about making a career out of music which didn’t fit into the piece so I decided to share it here for any budding young bands looking for inspiration…

What advice do you give a band with potential?

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  1. Don’t worry about getting signed.
  2. Make music that you adore.
  3. Be unique and brilliant.
  4. Being an interesting person with something to say is a good starting point. Work on that before you even think about writing a song.
  5. Once you do have some songs think about performing live.
  6. See point 3 again.
  7. If your audience drifts away to the bar you’re doing something wrong. If they throw things at you, you might just be doing something right.
  8. Get online and make sure people that like you can find out more about you. Put up as much or as little information as you like but see point 3 and 4 again.
  9. High quality demos aren’t essential. A good song is a good song. If enough people like it someone will tell someone and you’ll get offered some free studio/producer time. Or help with video filming or releasing a single to get you to the next level.
  10. Be prepared for this all to take a while. “Overnight sensations” have usually been plugging away for years in various different guises before finding that right alchemy.
  11. Because of point 10, refer to points 1 and 2 again, that’ll keep you going and enjoying it.
  12. Send in unsolicited demos by all means – they will be listened to eventually – but taking on board and acting on the above gives you much better odds.

How Music Works: The major label boss: Mark Crossingham, Universal Music Ireland.


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