In our INFLUENCERS series, we meet the good souls working hard behind the scenes to make Bristol’s nightlife scene so beautiful. This month, we speak to Jenna Knight, music publicist and one of the directors of Bristol Women in Music.
Jenna Knight has over 10 years experience in the music industry, working with brands from Vevo to Ella Henderson to increase their digital publicity, which can range from ‘anything to setting up video premieres, arranging interviews, through to wide brand partnerships,’ she says.
Now she’s channeling all that experience into the Bristol music industry. She is a regular guest lecturer at BIMM, and is one of 11 directors of community interest company Bristol Women in Music, who have just announced a major industry conference to take place at Colston Hall at the end of March, Sound Industry.
Jenna explains how she first got into music publicity: ‘I studied marketing at UWE. I’d always been into music growing up, but without realising I was as passionate about it as I was. I started working with a Bristol Agency called Hyperlaunch, who are no longer, but I actually started working in the film and books department. My first campaign was working on the DVD release of The Dark Knight. I did that for about six months and then told them I really wanted to work on the music team, and it went from there really.’
Between the 11 of us, we all work in different fields of music, from PR to bookings to running record labels, radio presenters and more
Now, after a stint in London, she’s back in Bristol and working independently with a variety of artists across the board, including Kojey Radical, Bristol’s Elder Island, Radio 1Xtra presenter Jamz Supernova, and DJ Mustard, as well as focusing a lot of her energy on Bristol Women in Music.
‘Between the 11 of us, we all work in different fields of music, from PR to bookings to running record labels, radio presenters and more. Our ethos is to provide a safe and welcome space for females to come and learn about the music industry and learn about the different routes into the industry.
‘I’m very much of the opinion that it’s our responsibility to nurture the next generation of creative talent. I think anyone that works in a creative industry – that’s kind of on us! Essentially it’s not really an academic subject, so you go into it and there are really no formal qualifications, so I’ve always been involved in mentoring and youth work – here and in London.’
It was partly this shared sense of responsibility that inspired Bristol Women in Music to launch their women’s Mix Night sessions, which sees participants partnered up with local DJ mentors over six weeks, with a live showcase at the end.
‘You can be a complete beginner! The mentors have taught varied levels of experience,’ says Jenna. ‘There’s a massive hotbed of talent in Bristol and it’s great to see some female producers coming through, because electronic dance music has been predominantly male. What we aren’t doing is damning men – it’s not rage against the machine – it’s very much celebrating and empowering women.’
Looking forward to the Sound Industry conference at Colston Hall, the same ethos applies – to empower not divide. Guest speakers, panelists and performers so far announced include: Danielle Moore (Crazy P), Eva Lazarus, Antonia Odunlami (gal-dem), Jamz Supernova, Annie Mentor (WOMAD), Eats Everything and BAFTA-nominated composer Tony Briscoe.
‘It’s not all women, because the conference itself is for everyone – students, professionals, male, female, it’s about bringing together the Bristol music community. There will be workshops and panels, as well as performances through the day from local artists. We’re looking at doing an evening performance and an after party as well.’
I’m very much of the opinion that it’s our responsibility to nurture the next generation of creative talent
The event is geared towards: ‘Anyone that wants to learn more about the industry and talk to other people in the industry. It’s also a massive networking tool – we want to help people set up partnerships.’
Talking more about her day-to-day role, Jenna says that her to-do-list can vary massively: ‘A typical day can really vary,’ says Jenna. ‘It can be talking to managers to understand what the next release from their artist might be; it can be talking to media to set up photoshoots and interviews. It can be looking for new business as well, so perhaps talking to my contacts in the industry to find out what they might have coming up on their radar.
‘There is a glamorous side to it, but it’s also a lot of really, really hard work. I spend a lot of time reporting, analysing, tracking and seeing where my coverage has gone. It’s very hard to give yourself an off switch. When you’re working with artists in the US, it becomes a 24-hour cycle, but it’s important to be able to say, hang on a minute, work is done now and this is my time. Because there is always more stuff you could do, if you’re really passionate about something, you’ll constantly want to strive to do more, and more, and more.’
Anyone that’s involved with the music industry, there has to be a streak of passion for what you do, because otherwise you’d be mad to do it
However, Jenna’s list of reasons to love her job seems to far outweigh any negatives: ‘I love being creative and coming up with ideas. The landscape is ever changing – what digital means now is very different to what it meant ten years ago, so the opportunities are endless.
‘Anyone that’s involved with the music industry, there has to be a streak of passion for what you do, because otherwise you’d be mad to do it. I love working with likeminded people. You connect with some great people and you work with some artists who are so talented, and it’s quite humbling to be part of that process.’
But Jenna’s most important bit of advice to give anyone gearing themselves up to enter the music management industry is: ‘Work hard and help each other out; introduce great people to other great people.’