Next on the #IT2023 agenda, Eric Hunter of Music Managers Forum (MMF) spoke to producer JB Made It and TK, co-founders of award winning independent record label and management company, Finesse Foreva

JB Made it spoke about his producer journey from start to end, touching on beats he’d made throughout his career. He told the story of the moment he found out Drake wanted to use his beat for ‘Demons’ ft. Fivio Foreign & Sosa Geek, a pivotal moment in his career. 

Image: Kat Friar
Image: Saadiq T

TK spoke about his background and his journey into the industry, going from being a sound engineer in church to brushing shoulders with Jamal Edwards to the birth of Finesse Foreva

Image: Kat Friar

“You need to be very particular on who you choose to work with in your musical journey. The industry is all smoke and mirrors, ’cause obviously you see a lot of egos, we all have ego, but we need to know when is it time for you to step aside… Maybe this person is saying or doing something which may might make more sense… So I like to say you need to be objective…” TK

Image: Saadiq T

More advice from TK

  • Build communities – it doesn’t necessarily make you go into business but you support and show up for each other
  • Go out, get the experience, get apprenticeships, do loads of courses – courses are so effective and cheaper than going to university. You can cram and understand what you need to know within three, six months and move on to the next course.
  • You need to be able to just pack up shop and just rebrand and stop again.
  • Rework your friendships, rework your business group, rework your branding, your name. Don’t be afraid of reworking.
Image: Kat Friar

On the future of Black British Music…

JB MADE IT: My thoughts are that it’s always expanding and I think it’ll expand a lot more, ’cause I feel like with Black music, we’re starting to become a bit more recognisable to a lot of people from all different backgrounds. I’m starting to see us being able to branch into different other cultures, which is a great thing. 

TK: I see it getting bigger and bigger. I feel like we’re becoming more professional and starting to understand ownership, and we’re building stuff for ourselves. So I feel like it’s gonna grow, especially because there’s a lot more collaborative work going on. So the more we collaborate, I think the bigger it’ll get ’cause everyone’s got so many different ingredients to put together and bring into the pie.

ERIC: I would say it’s in a great place right now and I think it’s just gonna grow. It’s gonna get bigger and bigger. London is such a melting pot and we’ve got so many different influences from so many different genres and so many different parts of the world. I feel like the stage that we’re at now – it’s probably one of the best times for Black British music at the moment. And it’s only gonna get bigger because even before we had this world stage platform, the influence that London has and just UK music on the world and in terms of culture – it’s a really exciting time. 

Image: Kat Friar
Image: Saadiq T

On what UD stands for…

TK: When this place was still getting built, I managed to come through, sit down with Pamela and just find out what the vision was. I think it’s just really good, you know what I mean? Key word – development. There needs to be hubs for where the talent can come to where’s to safe space, where they’re being given the right education and knowledge from people that’s in [the music industry], ’cause there wasn’t really too much of that before so the fact that that’s here – I think it’s great.

JB MADE IT: I remember I came here when it was barely anything, but I was just like, “Yo, the potential here.” You’ve got a massive building where you are allowing people and young creatives to be able to come here. I admire exactly what they’re doing and I believe that the vision is very clear and I love the fact that you guys have put in so much investment into a building… not many people will be able to see a lot of the technology that’s here. So I think that the development here is great. I believe there’ll be a lot of testimonies in the time to come. 

ERIC: You guys bring in so many influential people within the music industry. It feels like this kind of establishment is more about peer-to-peer learning. These guys are bringing in relevant people within the industry to speak to you guys and it’s given you a great opportunity to get insights, but also opportunities to connect with people already in the industry and with other creatives to get your career in the industry started early.

Image: Kat Friar
Image: Saadiq T

On the UD Industry Takeover week…

ERIC: I’ve seen the line-up and you guys have got some heavy hitters. Even when I was at uni, if they had the kind of people coming down to my uni, [it] probably would’ve changed my life. You guys are really lucky.

TK: I think just having a week where there’s every single area of the music industry [being covered], so people can’t say that the knowledge ain’t out there and it’s hard to build the networks cause you just got to search and find it all out here.

JB MADE IT: I think it’s fantastic what they’re doing. It’s about an investment that they’re putting in people and to invest the week of getting people in – it’s an amazing thing. And the fact that you cover all areas, it gives opportunity to people to see different side of the industry, ’cause you might not want to be a producer, you might not want to be a singer, but it allows you an opportunity to see that there’s more to the music industry than what you can just see on the screens and I think it’s fantastic that they’re actually invested in the potential of the people. So I believe that the pupils here are very lucky to have the course here and the week. 

Image: Saadiq T

Valuable advice they could give to an artist or producer looking for management:

TK: First and foremost, ask yourself, what do I have to manage? A lot of artists don’t have much to manage, so if there’s nothing to manage, then [you don’t really need a manager] and if there is, is it something you can manage yourself at the moment? If not, then [you should get a manager].

JB MADE IT: Don’t look – you gotta understand that this game managers will find you and good managers will find you. If you go looking for all kinds of people or asking, you just look like a beggar, like Oliver Twist, you know what I’m saying? “Feed me, feed me.” You don’t need to do that because at the end of the day, management won’t change your life. You will change your life and if you’re looking for management, they’re gonna be, remember they’re taking a percentage of your wave you’re doing, you know? If you can’t do it for yourself, then what do you really expect a manager to do for you? If you can make yourself self-sufficient, then a manager’s here to add on top and handle things for you.

ERIC: You have to have something to manage. So be organised, have something ready for them. It needs to happen naturally as well. A lot of the time, it can happen naturally. I’d say always when you do find that manager, just kind of feel it out and have some kind of trial period so you can both see how you’re working together first before you commit to anything long term, ’cause you never know how things will turn out. 

Image: Saadiq T

Words & photography: Kat Friar

Photography: Saadiq T

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