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Category Archives: My Way In

My Way In: Introducing Cotton Mount

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Following from the last My Way In post – as promised I am dedicating this post to tell you about the band that I am now managing.

Cotton mount

So first of all who are they?
Well to be short and practical about it we have:
Daniel Minten (bass, trumpet, viola)
Pierre Schilling (drums)
Thibault Zanoni (guitars)
Igor Varidel (vocals, guitars)

Four really down-to-earth yet opinionated creative guys, very different yet complementary, who made me feel comfortable with their sincerity and excited by their dedication to their music.

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What’s their sound?
Dark, raw vocals beautifully juxtaposed onto light and complex instrumental to create a perfect unique melancholy indie sound.

The genre?
Well if you absolutely have to put them in a box then probably it would be indie rock/alternative

Their musical influences?
This is a difficult answer to get without causing a band fight but they finally agreed on the (kinda) communal: Radiohead (yes I know, but you’ll hear it), Pink Floyd and Bashung.

Where are they from?
Geneva. That’s right – Geneva has an indie band. Hard to believe, but true. And because of the scarcity of this sound (but also left-of-centre mindset) in this commercially dominated glitzy city – music was their much-needed self-prescribed Prozac in some way.

Their story?
The guys have been playing together for over 10 years. They have experimented with many different genres and different band formations. Finally things got serious in 2011 as they found themselves on the same new unique sound and the same complete determination to dedicate themselves to music and to each other. And since things have picked up at quite a speed.

Something that made me laugh?
When they first started playing they use to play KORN covers and spent a good portion of their rebellious teenage years vandalizing their school and public places by carving the word UROK everywhere –  their band name back then. UROK you ask? Well it’s KORN spelt backward with the N flipped over. Obviously.

Big News?
After gaining support from founders of Le Chat Noir andL’Usine and sound engineer Renaud Millet-Lacombe Cotton Mount have recorded their début album Still Life. The concert for the launch of album will be on the 27 April at Le Chat Noir – I will see you there.

More Concerts?
11 April at Vernier, Salle des Fêtes du Lignon, more INFO
16 May at La Gravière, Genève (with Technicolor Orchestra)
Many more to come

Like the sound of it?
Well feel free to favourite our Website  which connects you to all platforms,
Like us on Facebook  to be updated with our latest news
Stream us on Bandcamp or Soundcloud
And watch the teaser video on Youtube

What’s next?
We are organizing more concerts in Switzerland but also all over Europe including the UK, the digital and then physical release of the album (fingers crossed) and who knows and indie label deal?

My Way In: I have a band

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Continuing on from the previous My Way In posts:

The 31st of October was my last day at work. What a day. So I organized a week-long trip to London mid-November to go test out the waters and figure out the best way to break into the music industry. Luckily since I had publicized my plan, several lovely friends helped me out and put me in contact with people to speak to in London.

The conversation with these music contacts all went a little along the lines of: Do you realize

– That this is an incredibly tough industry – yes
– Artist management is possibly the hardest job in the industry to get – great
– It is going to take you 3-6 months to get an internship/job – yes
– They will not pay you – fantastic
– Finally when you get a proper job they will pay you close to nothing – pasta all the way
– You will work crazy hours – sleep when you dead

Are you sure you are up for this? hell yes!
Ok then you need to:

– Sign up to the following newsletters – done already
– Read the following books – ticked
– Order the following directory – being shipped to me as we speak
(all info on recommended material for the music industry is in this post)

Oh ok you are actually serious about this? Yes.
And then you win the trust. And people really start to help you because they realize you are not another flaky person who wants to work in the industry but has no idea what they are getting into. Their advice was: 1. move to London as fast as you can so you can be on the ground to network 2. Find a band to manage.

So I laugh – find a band to manage? How exactly do you do that? But I promise to try when I move to London.

And back to Geneva I go, thinking about planning my move. Three days later a friend invites me to go watch his band in concert. I have other plans but my lovely friend Eva agrees to go with me after our dinner. So off we go. They play and we have a good time – and we are about to leave when another band gets on stage. They play one song – and my mouth drops. They are brilliant.

I turn to Eva and say – I should ask them if they have a manager. We both laugh. They continue to play and at the last song I have tears in my eyes. So after the concert I go speak to the singer. I tell him I am looking for a band to manage and to move to London. He is interested. Turns out this hugely talented band made up of four, 20 something, wonderful guys – don’t have a label or a manager. And they are in the mist of recording an album. I arrange to meet them 3 days later at a bar.

We chat.
We drink beer.
One week back from London and I have a band.
I am a band manager.
They are called Cotton Mount.
(more about them in the next post but for now I ask for a simple like on FB pretty please)
They rock.

And so does the fact that you prepare yourself for this tough journey when you follow your heart. You are scared like crazy to jump.  But then you do, and you wait for the hard fall. But actually you find yourself flying. And people will positively surprise you with just how much support and cheering they will do for you. And you realize that all those lame clichés about chasing your passion are true: fortune really favours the brave.

My Way In: Become known as your passion guru

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So after you have picked up your morning routine of investing in the search for your passion, and you then started reading all the type of material you could find on your topic – we get to the next step:

TALK ABOUT IT TO EVERYONE YOU CAN GET HOLD OF.  ALL THE TIME.

You need to become the icon of your passion. Every chance you get, mention it. Get people engaged. Share with them what you are doing. At the start, keep it short and snappy and see how they react. But if they are interested – use the opportunity – have a long conversation about it. Of course it is great to speak to people who share your passion but make sure to try it with everybody.

The reasons for this:

  1. It makes you realize how much you know about your subject and you will feel good about being able to articulate all of the things you have been reading
  2. It’s a nice break from weekend or weather small chatter
  3. It will make you realize how LITTLE you know about some areas when people ask you questions you can’t answer – this will fill up your next morning sessions
  4. It keeps you excited about your topic as you feel your face light up as you speak about it and interact with other view points
  5. It makes people ask you several times: why are you not doing this for a living? And forces you to answer that question with a lame answer until you no longer can
  6. MOST IMPORTANTLY: people will know you as THE #ENTER INTEREST# PERSON

Now that last one is really important because that is where the magic comes in. When people start knowing you as very dedicated, passionate and interested person they will think of you whenever an opportunity comes up. That’s how I got approached to become part of music projects, invited to DJ, recommended interesting books or magazines or sites. The problem of today is not getting information – it’s getting the RIGHT information. And in order to get it – you need HUMAN knowledgeable filters.

The most important opportunity that this might bring is CONTACTS in the specific industry. People, by and large, are rather nice. They also by nature like to connect dots. Maybe it’s because we played too much Lego or puzzles when we were little. Point is, if you talk to them about how much you love music the minute they see an opportunity (a job opening, an interesting article, meet someone in the industry, remember an old friend that has a related job) they are more likely to think of you. And that’s when things start to roll.

All of my friends knew that I was absolutely stupidly crazy about music. All of them. I was a walking advertisement for indie music. Even though some of them didn’t know what indie music was (the topic of a future post). And that’s how I got introduced to several contacts in the industry. Because a friend of a friend, or an ex-colleague etc. These are the golden nuggets. And when you get them – PLEASE use them. Don’t be shy to phone a stranger and speak to them about your interest. Find out about them, what is it like in the inside, what different jobs are available, how to get those jobs, what skills, knowledge, activities are recognized as good experience. Ask, ask, ask and always make sure to keep the contact. This will be major support to find out which jobs are out there for you.

If you want to get to your dreams there is not space for being shy about it.

My Way In: Knowledge is Power

So in the last few posts of My Way In we have discussed searching for your passion if you are not satisfied in your job. I recommended picking up a good habit of investing into something you enjoy and immersing yourself in the details. The beauty really is in the details – that is when you will find your dream will turn into concrete realities and you will find out jobs you never even heard of.

Apologies for the long post but this is a just a depository of all the knowledge I gained about the music industry and it is broken into three sections: Music Inspiration from websites/blogs; Music Industry News from Daily Mailing Lists and more in-depth Musical Industry Structure and Jobs coming from books.

Music Inspiration. To get inspired I would recommend getting into the details of the pure CONTENT of your passion. So in my case – get to really know the music. Training and developing your ear is just as true as for your taste buds – developing an acquired taste. Nothing can replace several hours of listening a day. For music inspiration I normally go to these websites regularly:

Pitchfork
Stereogum
HypeMachine
CLASH
GorillavsBear
NME
Record of the Day

Music Industry News. If your love for music isn’t so one-dimensional – i.e. you love music but you wouldn’t want to be an artist – I would start looking more into the industry.  I would recommend reading one of these three daily subscription mails (or all of them but they do get quite repetitive and it does take a lot of time on a daily routine):

Complete Music Update (CMU) –free and the most thorough daily feeds
Music Week – About  £150 subscription per year – although daily updates with some articles available freely. The biggest benefit to signing up to Music Week is their directory – the biggest music yellow pages you could ever dream of with EVERYONE’s numbers and emails. Priceless.
Music Ally – for all your tech inclined readers – this is really a great and well written update. You need to pay but there is about 3 months of free trial so you can start with that and see if you feel it is worth the money

Musical Industry Structure and Jobs. I would also recommend reading books to really solidify your knowledge of the jobs out there and the industry structure.For anyone who is trying to find out about the different TYPES of jobs and roles that are out there in the music industry, I highly recommend:

Working in the Music Industry by Anna Britten

This book is really great it is what gave me the aha moment when I got to the last chapter and read the artist management job description and ticket every box. What I like in this book is that it is very honest and practical. It describes all the positive and negatives of each job, what talents and personality types are suited, practical tips on how to get a job and how to work towards getting hired and some first-hand case studies from people working in the industry. It’s an absolutely essential first read if you want to find out about possibilities in the industry

I then read:

All You Need to Know about the Music business (7th Edition) by Donald S. Passman

This much less inspiring but essential book is really a bible when it comes to the technicalities of the music industry. It is written from the angle of teaching an artist but can be used for everyone.  It covers the roles and responsibilities of the different people in the artist’s ‘team’ (lawyer, manager, agents) and what to look for; a very detailed description on record deals ; a very detailed description on publishing deals and then smaller sections on Group Issues, Touring, Merchandising, Classical Music and Movies

This book is VERY dense. I will not lie that at times it feels like you need a cup of coffee per page when you get lost in the technical rules of royalties on discounted CD sold in foreign territory at a lower rate with a distributor and then how that applies to a premium. However the book does give a guide on how to skip over the more intensely technical areas. Apart from parts of it being tough to get through over all the book is really well written in the sense that he explains all concepts like he would to a 5 year old child – so if you can stay awake you should all be able to understand. And overall I really enjoyed understanding the ins and outs of all the contracts and the complexity of each deals. It’s really a big wakeup call on just how hard it is to be recouped or make money in general. It is definitely a tough but essential read.

Next up a more focused book:

The Music Management Bible edited and compiled by Nicola Riches but written by several members of the MMF

This was a great book to read for me as it focused more on the specific issues I was interested in and yet still recapped and summarized some important issues of the Passman book. Although technical I found this book really interesting and clear. It was really well written and to the point and included and explained several parts of the managers contract you would need to sign with your artist. This is the recommended basic contract by the Music Managers Forum (MMF).

How Music Works by John Powel

This was more out of personal curiosity than for my job. I wanted to find out what made music so special and why it moves so many people (including myself of course). I have mixed feelings about this book. My biggest disappointment is that I didn’t feel like it really cracked music’s magic – although maybe because you’re not supposed to. Also as I played piano for 10 years I was a bit bored with some sections, as it is written for people with zero musical knowledge and explained chords and notes and instruments. However I did enjoy several sections: what is music vs. noise, what is perfect pitch, how we came to our scales, why the same note on different instruments sound different, what is a harmony, rhythm etc. The only problem about this book is the author continuous attempt to be funny but failing terribly. I landed up cringing every few pages.

Lastly a not music related but definitely inspirational is the book I am in the middle of:

The 4 Hour work week by Timothy Ferriss

For anyone who is either going through a career change or is thinking of it and thinks really out the box and is willing to invest into a seriously different way of approaching work to enjoy your life NOW and not when you retire – I can only but recommend this book. It is very radical and it does aim to shock and although I do not agree with all parts of the book – overall this book has been so incredibly mind-blowing and inspirational I cannot help but recommend to every like-minded person I meet. An absolute must read to your crazy thinkers who want to shoot for the stars and not settle for the ordinary.

Well that should keep you busy for now. If you have some books or websites you’d like to recommend please do so. It be great to have some recommendations.

My Way In: The Big Corporate Myth

This is now my fourth post of My Way In, and in my first post I mentioned a Big Corporate Myth so I’ll now expand on it:

There is a Big Corporate Myth, forced on us lost students or young employees, that we need to invest some good years into training with a big company for the sake of credibility on our CV. We are often pressured into conforming rather than encouraged to diverge. And to be fair I think that if you really don’t know what to do – it’s perfectly correct to take the ‘rational’ option that has the highest chance of helping you in the future. But the problem comes in when it becomes an excuse to never go and find out what you really want. Because after you do one year, they sell you that a real experience only counts after two years, and then two roles, which land up becoming four years and then you are so close to that promotion….And next thing you know you feel like you invested so much you are stuck.

And if you do not know what you want to do, how can you say you need that company on your CV. There are many jobs out there (and probably most of the really interesting jobs) who will look very lightly at your big corporate CV tick. Who will value it for maybe a year or two, but the extra years after that are just a waste. You proved your point – move on. And the only way you can find out if you need this wonderfully-high-esteemed-by-society-experience is to find out WHAT ON EARTH YOU WANT.

And maybe you just don’t know. Or maybe it is a corporate career. Or maybe the investment makes sense. I am not trying to prove the point that all corporations and corporate jobs are bad or boring or unrewarding. In fact at University my best guess was being a Financial Analyst. I actually enjoy maths (the best part is I can do it while listening to music – I should have seen the clues) and wanted a people orientated job and so you are advised to work in a big corporation. Corporations, like they say, let you do anything (different industries, roles, assignments). But what they don’t tell you is their addictive status of success may lock you into unfulfillment. Also because we give ourselves less freedom in our career choices than in our relationships.

So I tried in the hopes of finding a part of anything that I liked. After a short while it was clear that not only was I completely in the wrong company, I also doubted corporate finance altogether. Even observing people at 4 times my level, sure their job seemed more rewarding, but it’s definitely not what I wanted to do with my life. And it seemed that if I wanted to really be happy it would take a bolder change than a different role or getting promoted or moving to a similar industry related company.

That’s when you need to start searching for the next thing. Because saying I’ll just keep doing this job till I find out what I like is not necessarily going to work. But how? Well I wrote about it in my last post and in short: get into the habit of investing into discovering your passion every morning. I also read this wonderfully intense article last week called How To Have A Year That Matters by Umair Haque on the Harvard Business School blog that suggested answering the question: what about the world breaks your heart? Whatever you feel really truly emotional about –that’s what you should go out there to change or work on or create.

And remember that when you find what you love, what you are ready to fight for; it’s not an incomplete CV that will get in your way. Because when your head, your heart, your morals and genuine motivation align to achieve something, it’s a whole other ball game.

My Way In: Invest (irrationally) every day into finding your way

Following from last week’s post about breaking up with your company….

Many people tell me that if they only knew what they were passionate about in terms of a job – they would do it. They just don’t know what it is. Some friends tell me they envy me because for me, it was so clear. Although my newer friends don’t believe it, music wasn’t such a clear choice for me. There were several things I really liked as hobbies but none I really invested in and none that I felt was my particular talent so none that I saw as a job path.

So I took the safe route and decided to do finance. But very fast I realized it wasn’t going to fulfil me. So I started looking into something that could motivate me because my job didn’t. And I think that is key – INVESTING EVERYDAY INTO FINDING YOUR WAY. And I can’t lie and say that was how Song of the Day was born. It was born because I wanted to introduce my friends to some good music so they would come with me to concerts. But I think the reason why I continued to do it every day for over 2 years and why I kept expanding and developing the music project, is because I realized it was more than a project.

It was the act of investing what many people saw as irrational time, into something I loved, in the hope that it may turn into something bigger one day, that got me here. And by starting each day with it, I made it a habit that survived the test of time. So many people tended to say: how do you find the time? And the answer is pretty simple – you make the time. Some claimed their job as so important and busy they wouldn’t have the time. However we all know how efficient we can be when we are under a tight deadline and also how inefficiently we can waste a day away. I just decided to see it as an investment into finding a job that fulfils me rather than irrational or inefficient even if it didn’t get me a pay rise or a promotion. Plus it put me in a good mood at the start of every day because I started it with something I loved.

The funny thing is after I handed in my resignation and I read this article What Successful People Do With The First Hour Of Their Work Day – it really hit me that I had been doing a version of my own ‘Power Hour’ without realizing it.

So my message to the people who are not happy in their job, but also don’t know what is an alternative is this:

– Start your day, every day, if only for 15 minutes investing into something you like or love
– Something that may turn into something bigger
– See how naturally that 15 minutes will grow
– If it is not bringing you satisfaction, try something else but be wary that things take time – think of how long you put into your university before it paid off
– Become an expert at your topic – knowing details helps gives you the confidence to jump
– Talk to people about your passion – this will help you discover other areas you hadn’t thought about, it will help you network and it will create opportunities to develop it

At the start you will only see things in one dimension – I like music but I don’t want to be a musician; I like art but I don’t want to be an artist. But only when you dig into the subject do you realize there are many opportunities you had no idea existed. That was exactly how I felt about Artist Management – had a rough idea it existed but no idea how to get it or what it took – until I read up about it. The more you learn about something you like, the more you will start to love it, and the more you will find opportunities or creative ideas into making it your job. But first you need to invest into finding out how.

So start tomorrow morning – start your day reading about something you really like. And who knows what you may find.

My Way In: Breaking up with your company

This post is following from my introductory post on My Way In
So now I just needed to jump…

I believe that quitting a job that doesn’t suit you is like breaking up with a boyfriend that doesn’t suit you.
(Feel free to replace HIM with YOUR COMPANY in most sentences below)

At first it seems impossible to live without him. You don’t know if anyone else would like you or worthy you like him. You think of how convenient it is to be with him, of all the perks. How your day-to-day revolves around him and the friends you made through him. And so you shake off the idea of breaking up although deep down inside you know your heart isn’t in it. You know you either don’t enjoy your time with him as much as you should or your true value is not being appreciated. So slowly you start to think of it more and more. You start to realize just how many things you have come to accept actually make you unhappy. You start talking to other people with a different experience and realize you might be settling just because you are scared of the unknown. You start thinking of what you really want and you decide that clearly the unknown is better than being unfulfilled. So you break up with him. And if it was the right thing to do you take ONE HUGE BREATHE OF RELIEF and think FINALLY I DID IT. And in that moment, you are so happy. You are so free. And after a few weeks you start seeing even more clearly why you were never meant to be with that person and you think to yourself why on earth did it take me this long to take the jump.

And it doesn’t stop there. No one says that quitting is the hard part and it’s all downhill from there. You then need to find another boyfriend (job). You need to resist the temptation of glorifying the positive and forgetting the negative about your past experience. And most probably you’ll need to do it a couple of times before you get it right. But you will keep doing it if you want to feel happy, fulfilled and appreciated for who you are in life. And that is just as true for a relationship as it is for job.

The problem is it is completely accepted in society that you need to have several relationships to find out about what you want, what works for you and how different people bring out different things in you. And of course just like in relationship – there are those few people who are lucky enough to get it right the first go around. But this is the MINORITY not the rule. So why have people not realized and more importantly accepted that it is the same for companies?

When people say they had to stop their relationship because their heart’s wasn’t in it – people pat them on the back for taking the right, difficult decision. But when you quit your job you are often made to feel as is if you failed; you are a quitter. You didn’t fit in; you couldn’t step up to the plate; you didn’t succeed. Especially if it’s a big prestigious firm – where they brain-wash you into thinking that only the best and brightest make it through. While the weak will sooner or later be washed to the waste side. And sure those words are never said but I can tell you, having experienced it, that some people (normally the really unhappy/envious ones) are very effective in patronizing you into feeling  that way.

Before I joined the company I read in fancy business magazines that the trend has shifted to people changing companies more often. Having worked in a big company I still see the reality of it not being where it should be. There are too many people who put less thought (and give themselves less freedom) in choosing their companies than they do their partners.

And I was one of them. Until now.

And I can tell you the day I quit was the best day of my life.