Southampton Solent University welcomed Ellie Giles for a guest talk last week. Ellie has an extensive history in the music industry and is currently partner at Jigsaw Music Management while also working at one of the most acknowledged management companies Various Artists Management. Various Artists Management works with talent like Charlie XCX, The Libertines, Spiritualized, Bill Ryder-Jones.

Solent Music gathered the best pieces of advice Ellie gave about how to get started in the industry, its current situation, the challenges of artist management and more.

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Charli XCX / Photo by Timothy Saccenti

’Build your confidence now before you go into that world. Otherwise, you can get pushed and pulled.’

Ellie’s music industry career started at University where she got a job working with the Students’ Union on events with touring bands. She worked in events for three years and eventually got a job at Island Records through her boss at the Uni.

Island Records put Ellie in charge of scouting talent in Liverpool, which allowed her to make contacts and friends in the live music scenes. This role eventually led on to her getting a job as A&R Manager at Fiction Records (Polydor/Universal Music) where she signed White Lies among others.

Fun fact: when Arctic Monkeys started to get bigger, Ellie insisted that Island Records sign them but no one took any interest in the band and they eventually signed to Domino Records.

She worked as an A&R Manager for seven years,

’There’s a lot of pressure working as a major label’s A&R person. You need to sign new successful acts every year.’

Ellie realised A&R wasn’t fulfilling for her since she was only there for the artists’ incubator period but she wanted to be artist-focused. So she started her own management company Jigsaw Music Management that presents artists, writers, producers and mix engineers.

’Being a manager is a lot of hard work. It’s important to be entrepreneurial, know how to build businesses and always find ways to create your own opportunities.’

Setting up her own company taught Ellie to negotiate, which she emphasises as one of the most important skills in management, ’Managers need to negotiate situations in the nicest and sweetest way.’

Ellie’s key advice to those who want to go into management is, ’Don’t clip the artists’ wings. Let them fly and they’ll fly back to you. If you control them, they won’t appreciate you.’

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Bill Ryder-Jones / Photo by Keith Ainsworth

’Then again, you’re not there to be friends because then the artist will see you as a friend not a business person, but you need respect in order for it to work. Build a structure around your acts and let them grow. Don’t pamper them.’

Ellie considers the biggest challenges for managers the difficulty of breaking an artist, saying that there are hardly any acts making it big time at the moment. You can also face some relatively tedious tasks like managing budgets, booking hotels, finding cheap deals, invoicing, chasing up people, dealing with contracts and marketing. ’There’s no glamour.’

When asked about the male dominanace issues in the music industry, Ellie said, ’When you go in there thinking there are no boundaries and you’re confident, you will gain respect.’

Ellie’s key tips, ’Be resouceful, create opportunities, don’t be scared of reaching out to people, put as many things down the pipe as possible, nurture realationships and surround yourself with good people.’

Ellie’s book recommendation: Oversubscribed: How to get people lining up to do business with you by Daniel Priestley