Posted on February 10 2016
This week's Wednesday Woman is Jessica Lord of music management company Red Light Management. As part of the management team in Red Light's UK office, Jessica plays an instrumental role in the creative and commercial success of its artists including Belle & Sebastian, The Vaccines, Kaiser Chiefs, Hælos and Emmi. Jessica was also voted on to the shortlist for Music Business Worldwide's Young Executive 2015. Here's her story:
Newnham: What were you like as a kid? When did you first get into music?
Lord: According to my school reports I was a daydreamer, and it wasn't uncommon to find "Could do better if she spent less time staring out of the window" written. I was never very good at being told to sit behind a desk.
Truthfully, I can't remember a time when I wasn't into music; some of my earliest memories are of being in the car with my family listening to such 80s wonders as Prefab Sprout's 'The King of Rock 'N Roll'. Any song that can open with the reflection 'All my lazy teenage boasts are now high precision ghosts' before kicking into a chorus of 'Hot dog, jumping frog, Albuquerque' gets my vote.
Newnham: Who/what inspired you and what did you want to be when you grew up?
Lord: Performers/artists inspired me. Originally I wanted to be a ballerina and it was a dream I chased until 16, although I don't think I've properly let go of it. Is it too late now?? But I also loved singing, playing the piano (although my sister was much better than me, she's the pianist in the family) and music. I got to be Mary in the Christmas Carol concert which was a huge deal at my school - it was nativity-come-musical with a different theme each year ~ we'd start rehearsals in September… !
Newnham: What do you do now? What’s an average day like for you?
Lord: Eventually I realised I'm better and happier standing just off the stage (on the side or behind, but never on it). I'm now working in artist management where I have the privilege of watching people who I completely admire, sharing their talent with audiences all over the world. It's hard to say what an average day is like as part of the joy is that it's always different. I suppose my time's mostly split between meeting people to help create opportunities for the artists and then getting into the 'nitty gritty' of making them actually happen. I'm lucky enough to work for a company that embraces pushing everyone at every level to get out there and get involved.
Newnham: You work with some awesome artists/bands but what’s been the proudest moment of your career so far and why?
Lord: It's impossible to say, there have been so many incredible moments - that's like having to choose which of your kids' achievements you're most proud of. And it's all relative. A recent one though was discovering Red Light Management artists have 27 Grammy nominations this year. I can't take any credit there but it made me proud to be part of such an amazing team.
Newnham: What obstacles, if any, have you had to overcome working as a woman in the music industry, and how did you get past them?
Lord: More than once I've been told I've got my job because of my appearance, the fact that I'm a young female and, what's more, the people who have said it haven't meant any offence or understood why that could be offensive.
Maybe I'm wrong but I'd like to think it's had more to do with working hard and that's the only way you can get past that. Don't get me wrong, I've messed up on more than one occasion, made mistakes that make my toes curl thinking about them, but I don't think anyone can accuse me of being a slacker. I'm just not very good at being a PA…