Working in the music industry… To some, it’s a dream come true. To others, it’s a minefield of unknown danger. And to others, it’s both all in one. Andy Kettle is a Liverpool-based PR specialist who launched Steaming Kettle PR & Management in 2013. He has over two decades of experience working in the music industry, managing promotional efforts for a wide range of well-known artists and record labels. Their functions include covering releases, tours, and festivals, offering marketing, promotion, and management. His passion for music has driven his path all this way, and he gets a real thrill out of the success that his artists can achieve.
It’s an interesting time to be in management and PR. The industry has been rapidly changing for years, and that change has only been enlarged thanks to the pandemic and its related lockdowns. In the following guest blog, Kettle joins us to share his story. He opens up about his journey working in the music business, how it all began, what he’s learned, and his new venture, Drop That Record.
“I grew up playing music and learning a lot of instruments from a young age. Starting with the piano and clarinet, shortly followed by the saxophone and guitar. Always the easiest subject at school, I even got a music scholarship when I was 13 and went on to study it at university. Throughout this whole time, I never knew what wanted to do as a career, and plus, working in the music business itself felt like a million miles away!
At the end of my university years, I did work experience for a record label in London, and from that moment, something clicked; a fire was lit, and I knew this was what I wanted to do.
Following this, I got a year’s working visa in Canada and lived in Vancouver, where I sought out any sort of job in connection with music and managed to bag a position at the prestigious Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver. Aside from getting experience, I also made some incredible musical discoveries that year, some of whom I even now work with! (Atmosphere/Brother Ali)
After my return to the UK, I jumped straight into doing unpaid work experience whilst working in a pub five nights a week. I grafted through the whole year working for a record label, PR company, and then a booking agency. I saw it as free learning… and while my friends teased me about working for free, I gained endless knowledge. Alongside this, I co-formed an indie band called elmor which I also managed and so taught myself on the job.
In 2008 we were nominated at the prestigious UK Vodafone Live Awards for best unsigned live band, followed shortly after by being invited to do a show at Wembley Stadium for the NFL’s annual match there, so getting us from nothing to that stage was a massive achievement!
The essential thing to remember is having the fire, passion, and self-motivation within yourself. An endless hunger which will drive you forward, and you cannot fail.
Everyone has to start from the bottom, and you have to work endlessly to get to those dream stages. It won’t fall into your lap, and you have to keep going and going…
Following a final internship working for Jamie Cullum’s management in London, I moved to Liverpool to become head of PR for live promoters CMP Entertainment, and fast forward a few more years, Steaming Kettle PR was launched.
It has taken years of patience and more hard work to get where we are now, and I feel incredibly blessed to be working with so many artists I had already been listening to for years beforehand.
After making more organic connections over time I made more friendships, and this progressed onto even more strong working relationships.
The worst thing anyone will say to you is NO. That’s it!
Once you’ve learnt your craft, worked out where your main skills are, and are good at your job. It’s a question of making sure you are contacting people, and creating those long term organic connections.
Two of our biggest clients began from a small connection and a phone call, followed by at least a year or more until we actually worked together, and have been ever since. Over this time though it’s essential to keep that light contact going, checking in, and don’t assume they’re not interested!
Oh… and a lot of patience!
The endless reward and job satisfaction is also what makes it so special, seeing artists progress, achieving, and observing how fans or media react to them.
I look back at my career, and it was all gradual stepping stones. I personally didn’t experience a massive overnight elevation to where I am now, my journey has always gone forwards, never backwards, and it has always been a slow burner.
As things got busier there was less time to help brand new artists on the first stages of their journeys, so once the January, 2021 lockdown hit I had spare time on my hands and no social life, so I decided to create my new brand Drop That Record.
It’s a hub and community for aspiring artists, singers, songwriters, bands, producers, composers, rappers, musicians, and music professionals to share our experience, tips, advice, and help people on their journeys of creation.
I took it back to basics and created two courses:
My ethos behind the courses is being bite size, digestible, and easy to understand. They are relevant to anyone involved in music wanting to learn, be it on the business or artist side.
The ‘Artist Action Plan Mini Course’ is 30 minutes of video lessons and goes over the mindset an artist needs to release their music in the best way possible and each step they need to take to prepare themselves for it to be most effective.
My Artist Development Toolkit Course is like the big brother (two hours of video lessons), and is the concept of an artist having written a song in their bedroom with no clue what to do next. It takes them through every step right up to having a final product and being ready to release their music. With endless tips on how to go about everything correctly, and when.
In line with the courses, we have also released book versions which are LIVE now! Via Amazon there are eBooks and print versions available to purchase.
I knew once the world opened up and got busy, I wouldn’t get that time back again, so it feels great to have something I can pass on to people to access and use. Hopefully, it will save them a lot of time and money. Time is so precious, and now all the content is live, I hope that people who need the help, advice, and guidance will be able to use them and be better equipped to face the crazy idea of starting a career in music!
To close, I feel it’s only right to share some advice…
As mentioned earlier, having the passion and drive is key. But, the product also has to be GREAT! Whether it’s recordings, press shots, visuals, graphic design, your branding, knowledge and experience, self-organization… the list goes on.
Then, once it’s clear where your strengths are and what you want to end up doing, you need to gain as much knowledge as you can and educate yourself. Don’t assume you know everything because nobody does, and also don’t wing it thinking you can blag your way through something, as the people on the receiving end will see it straight away…
I wish all the aspiring artists, singers, songwriters, bands, producers, composers, rappers, musicians, and music professionals the best of luck on your journeys, and remember to enjoy yourselves!”