“Never dream of acquiring someone else’s job. I’m a firm believer that if there isn’t a job out there for you then carve your own.” Syncsmith’s Gavin Mee explains what his work involves.
Place of work?
How long have you had the job?
I started Syncsmith towards the back end of February 2016, literally as I touched down in my adopted hometown of Bristol, although admittedly the idea had been festering for a good year before that whilst I was the head of A&R at Derelicht. These things generally don’t happen overnight – I would rather let a solid idea develop and sit on the boil maturing for a while, or at least until motivation collides with enthusiasm.
What does a typical day involve?
My days start at 6.30 am (I blame my energetic two-year-old daughter for that), my head is normally brimming with ideas so I have to be disciplined and prioritise. Generally speaking there is always too much to be done than there are physical hours in the day so prioritisation, commitment and delegation are key. More often than not my days are derailed with emergent work or opportunities that present themselves out of the blue so I always subconsciously keep a little slack here and there. Ive got scary levels of OCD and I’m also a firm believer of not putting things off, so I try to smash everything that day so I can clear my head and compartmentalise, if you get my drift. But yeah, it’s always a composite mixture of pitching for opportunities, developing relationships, managing content, liaising with clients, labels and artists. No two days are the same, which is why I probably love the job the most.
Highs of the job?
Securing a sync has to be the highlight, and not for the monetary aspects either. This job is so relationship-driven, and people are very dependent on us bringing home the goods. This side of the industry is the last bastian of cashflow, so there are countless hours of effort that you don’t see, dedicated to building relationships, lamenting over online content or packaging together samplers or pitches. It takes real commitment on an enduring basis – I’m normally knocking out 14-hour days including weekends, plus balancing family life with A&R commitments, so when something does land it’s a real Everest moment.
Lows of the job?
Emails, bloody emails. If I could create a society without emails that would be my Elysium – absolute heaven, in fact – and I don’t mean one that relies on third-party software, Fatdrop, Mailchimp, et al. I mean a society that picks up the phone, does coffee, lunch, whatever, you know… Real comms!
Who are the people who’ve had the biggest influence on your career and why?
Tough call, that one. I joined the military when I was like 16 so my influencers are totally not related to my current line of business – my influences have always been great leaders, inspirational pillars of society, which has inevitably rubbed off on me. Those who have served will know there is a very clear difference between leadership and management. I’ve spent a fair bit of time in austere places like Northern Ireland, Sarajevo, Iraq and Afghanistan so I’m relatively thankful that I’m presently in one piece. My limits have been exposed previously so I’m quietly comfortable in that any difficult day that I face in the office will never be as physically or mentally tough as I’ve experienced before, and I’m very humble and grateful for that. I’m proud to have served my country but now I suppose I’m in the second (dare I say it?) grown-up phase of my life and I just feel honoured that I’ve had the chance to learn and grow from so many great leaders in my past.
How did you get the job?
I created it. Syncsmith identified a gap in the market. Frustration was felt by myself as a label manager and Head of A&R, those frustrations where also conveyed by my artists and artists that I work with, which were concurrent with the rest of our industry. We are suffering holistically from the digital movement, piracy, loss of intrinsic musical value and streaming, and we are constrained by being an underground movement. Our reach is limited in that by pushing an artform we can’t foster commercialisation, which altogether spreads an altruistic undertone of elitism that can make us seem unapproachable at times. This is why the TV, film and gaming markets find it difficult to engage, but we’re here to simplify the linguistics between the two parties and hopefully elevate the prominence and pivotal role of electronic music.
How can we get your job?
Hmm. My advice would be never to dream of acquiring someone else’s job. I’m a firm believer that if there isn’t a job out there for you then carve your own. Do your market research – whatever everybody else is doing, do a 180 degree turn and do the complete opposite. It’s only then you will truly niche your abilities and you will find demonstrable value, I’ve never been one to follow the pack so I couldn’t advocate that ever. A good book to read is Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T Kiyosaki. Obviously gloss over any monetary concerns and don’t take the prose literally but there are some really innovative and separative thought processes in this. Well worth a read.