Jayne Stynes has worked with Gorillaz, Roisin Murphy and Kano and is currently General Manager of industry body the Music Managers Forum. We asked her to tell us all about her job…


Jayne Stynes

Place of work?

I work at the Music Managers Forum (also known as the MMF), a UK based trade body that works on behalf of music managers – representing their interests in the wider music industry, lobbying government, running education and training sessions, as well as connecting our members to innovative and creative opportunities through our Associate Partnerships. To date, we have over 850 members representing a broad range of artists, songwriters and producers, from a grassroots level right up to some of the biggest recording artists in the world.


General Manager

How long have you had the job?

I’ve been with the MMF since September 2019. 

What does a typical day involve?

At the minute, the MMF are carrying on work ‘as normal’ (as can be), but from our respective homes. Every morning our wee team of six meet for a virtual catchup and again at the end of the day to round things up and fill each other in on the various projects we’re working on. Prior to lockdown, there were regular face to face meetings with our board, our Policy Group, coffees with new and longtime members – all those have all moved to Zoom and phone calls. Keeping in regular contact with our members, other trade bodies and our Associates, allows us to remain connected with industry issues affecting managers and develop strategies to help them respond to these issues. We also host regular events and training sessions, similarly, these have moved online for the time being.

Over the past six or seven weeks, since the lockdown started, we’ve spent a great deal of time understanding how our members are being affected. Like most facets of the music industry, the impact has been devastating, but we’ve been collecting data and speaking to managers in order to feed information into industry organisations we work with like the Council of Music Makers and UK Music, and also to Government through the Department of Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS). It’s especially important to highlight where music managers might be falling through the cracks and where further support can be offered.

Highs of the job?

Hearing from the MMF members, whether that’s a manager who’s in touch to discuss an exciting project they’re working on, a particular issue they’re finding challenging or anything in between, I find it incredibly inspiring to hear their perspectives and allowing that to shape the work the MMF does.

Lows of the job?

I suppose tied into what I’ve said above, hearing some of the difficulties our members are facing during this weird COVID-19-framed time. There are lots of managers who due to the way their businesses are set up, are ineligible for government support. Up to now, while there are many fantastic music charities that have stepped up to support the industry, none of them have been designed specifically for managers. Hopefully, that will change quite soon but I can’t say much more than that for now.

How did you get the job?

It is not a prerequisite, but I think I was well suited for this role because of my experience working as an artist manager. Having worked on release campaigns, cooperating with labels and publishers, spent time touring and experienced firsthand the joys and strains of that lifestyle, building relationships with artists and other managers, those experiences have helped me understand how the MMF provides support for managers and continuously adapts depending on the needs of its community of members.

What did you do before this job?

Immediately before starting, I was a year into a PhD programme at the University of Glasgow with the Centre for Cultural Policy & Research. During that time I was also doing some marketing for a great 3D audio multi-channel controller app called Parat+ (who get a mention in the Patch & Tweak book showcased on your website!). Before that I worked at the artist management company Eleven Management. I started off there in 2012 as a PA and worked my way up to working as a manager, doing a lot of day to day work but also leading some of the smaller projects and campaigns. I worked with a fantastic team and an incredible roster of artists including Gorillaz, Blur, The Clash, Kano, Roisin Murphy and Spoek Mathambo.

How can we get your job?

Specifically, to work at the MMF, I’d say keep an eye on our website. But for anyone interested in wider education, events, lobbying and community building activities, UK Music, the umbrella organisation which represents all the respective organisations in the music industry, is a good place to start.

Who are the people who’ve had the biggest influence on your career and why?  

During my time working in management, the team at Eleven shaped my experience and my values; tirelessly ambitious, always embracing new ideas and technology, always motivated, always working towards the next big project. It was a joy to work there and there was never a day I didn’t learn something new. I think everyone at the start of their career should be on the lookout for a mentor to learn from, whether that’s someone just a couple of years ahead or someone very established in their field. I’ve been lucky enough to have a few people who, whether I’m in regular contact with or not, continue to shape my professional journey.

“If you don’t ask you don’t get, the devil is in the detail and persistence is key!” 

Also watch out for the MMF chief exec Annabella Coldrick, she influences and inspires me all the time! Annabella has been the driving force for so many incredible activities at the MMF, including our Dissecting the Digital Dollar publications (our most recent one being the Song Royalties Guide published last May). Annabella works tirelessly for the interests of music managers and firmly believes in fairness and transparency for the industry. The MMF are a small team but the work the organization has achieved- especially over the past 4 years (membership has doubled) influences me on the daily!

Have you ever thought about going it alone?

The key purpose of the MMF is to support the community of professional music managers, provide training and innovative opportunities, represent their interests in the wider music industry and at government level – we wouldn’t exist without our members, nor would I be able to do my job without the team around me so for this job, no it’s not one you’d ever imagine doing solo!

What’s the one bit of advice you wish you’d known at the beginning of your career?

If you don’t ask you don’t get, the devil is in the detail and persistence is key!

I know that’s three pieces of advice but I come back to these regularly and believe they are USEFUL.

What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made in your career to date?

Right at the beginning of my time working as a management assistant I made a couple of ridiculous errors – like booking flights for an artist but getting the departure location and the destination mixed up! Plenty of mistakes along the way but I was told in no uncertain terms that the most important thing about making a mistake is how well you can fix it and move on!!

How would you like to see your industry develop over the next five years?

I think the industry has some really significant challenges ahead in the next five years. I think with all the challenges facing the live industry, with the majority of tours cancelled or postponed for the foreseeable future, I would love to see online content (like filmed live performances) valued as something more than promotional material, ideally something that fans might pay for. In the next few months, we’ll see a lot of experimentation and adaptation around different kinds of monetisation and business models in the music industry. I don’t think it will be an easy journey but I believe managers will be the early adopters of new ideas and technologies, hopefully emerging stronger and more collaborative than before. 

I’d like to see the wage gap between men and women lessen and for more women to reach director level in the large music companies.

I would also like to see a fairer, more diverse community of managers working professionally in the industry. There are various infrastructural changes, like shared parental leave, that could help bring more women into the creative industries and importantly keep them there! I’d like to see the wage gap between men and women lessen and for more women to reach director level in the large music companies. At the moment our female membership is at 34% and while this is a significant increase on previous figures there’s always more to do.

While we’ve definitely seen the MMF membership grow and expand in the past couple of years, I hope we continue to attract managers from all backgrounds and genres. This is something we’re proud of having in our Music Manager Accelerator Programme, supported by YouTube Music, Arts Council England, and the Scottish Music Industry Association, where out of 20 managers, half the group are from outside London, 38% are female and 52% are from BAME backgrounds.

Finally, I’d love to see more initiatives and collaboration around supporting positive mental health in the music industry. The MMF published a fantastic guide for managers on Mental Health back in 2017, which the Association for Electronic Music (who do fantastic work all round) updated and refined for their genre cohort in 2019. There are some exciting things happening and certainly organisations like Help Musicians and Music Support are running various initiatives for those who need it. I think there is a growing understanding that mental health and wellbeing are as important as physical health and while people will only seek help or support when they’re good and ready, it’s important to be clued up on where to go and what services are available for those of us working in the music industry.

For more information on The Music Managers Forum, visit their website.

28th May, 2020

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