The raw power of Craig Jennings

7 June, 2016

Our BIMM Berlin students got a thorough overview of the music industry recently, courtesy of Craig Jennings – the CEO of Raw Power Management and founder of the Search and Destroy record label.

The Masterclass session was hosted by BIMM Berlin Music Business tutor, Jeff Collier, who is an American recording artist, drummer, singer, songwriter, producer and vocal production specialist in his own right, and took the form of a casual conversation between the two.

It began with an overview of Craig’s career – how he started in 1984 as a one-man band with his company Chapter 22, before selling it to a bigger label – Sanctuary. In 2006, he launched Raw Power Management, where he’s had a whole host of big-name bands as clients, including Funeral For A Friend, Bullet For My Valentine, Gallows, Fightstar and Yourcodenameis:milo, and Raw Power is now also a record label as part of Universal Music.

Craig spoke to the room about the constantly changing music industry and how these days artists don’t make as much money as they used to. With the shift over the last 30 years from vinyl to CDs to downloads and streaming, and a decrease in album and single sales, live music and merchandise can now often make up to 70% of an artist’s income, but according to Craig, it’s more important than ever for a musician to be producing quality work:

“Making great records matters. Make a bad record once, and you can get away with that, but make it twice, and everything starts to get harder.”

He mentioned that it’s important to get a good working relationship between all parties involved in a management deal:

“You’ve always got to have labels, managements and artists working for the same goal. And if the artists feel they won’t be getting enough money, then nothing will work. As much as this business is about business, it’s also about people and relationships. If it’s just about the business, then it will struggle to work.”

Craig then discussed his role as an artist manager which, according to Craig has two sides to it:

“Firstly there’s the professional aspect – making music, managing artists and performers, and motivating them, and then there’s the side where you’re making sure that everyone receives their share from the music industry.”

Jeff then mentioned that some people in the industry say you should keep your label away from your manager and he asked Craig his views on this:

“In the ‘60s and ‘70s it was like that. It was all mixed together but there were so many bands getting ripped off that in the ‘80s and ‘90s they started to keep everything separate. It’s now coming back to how it was in ‘60s but with a level of transparency which didn’t exist before, so the bands don’t get ripped off.”

Craig talked about the importance of record labels working globally, and his decision to create an LA office for Raw Power because he wanted to manage some American bands:

“There are a lot of bands that can only work in the UK, because they’re quite UK-centric, but now if managers want to make the amount of money that will allow them to live comfortably, they have to be more global.”

Craig was asked if he had any advice for new acts looking for management:

“It’s always going help if a band has some live presence going on, and social media statistics too. Any new band must be bold and not too shy to get their music out there. There also needs to be integrity, passion and belief. Plus it’s good if they have a YouTube video, so you can see how the band looks.”

Jeff asks Craig how agreements between artists and their managers have changed over the years:

When I was a solo manager, it was all done on a hand shake. However, when I went to Sanctuary, they were much more corporate. I quite liked it because I liked the structure and found that the bands also liked contracts because they draw the lines for everybody. A standard contract is five years long, but in five years the industry can change so much that no one actually knows what’s going to happen.”

Next, Jeff requested questions from the audience and one student asked Craig how involved he gets in the creative process.

“We generally want our artists to be free from any pressures, but some people like those pressures and they can work better with them. I would never go to the studio and tell them what to do, but I would give my opinion. We’re all about making sure that the band will stretch themselves as much as they can in order to deliver the best results. It always helps to have band members who have a vision and know exactly what they want to do.”

Craig’s Masterclass session was a real hit with the audience, with one Music Business student, Barbara, commenting that:

“It was really interesting to learn from a person who has been in the industry for so long. I want to be a manager, so it was such a great experience to find out exactly what it’s like from the person who manages some of my favourite bands. Craig was also genuinely interested in us and the things that we do.”

Here at BIMM, we’d like to say a huge thank you to Craig for coming in to chat with our students and give them such a holistic review of the music industry!

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