I was 12 or 13 when I first decided that I wanted to make music. I played my first gig as a 14-year-old, bleach blond, Kurt Cobain wannabe. I was terrified.
We were a good band, for our age, and we had a couple of major label guys sniffing around us, coming up from London to our rehearsal room in Alsager and telling us we needed to write more “pop” songs – which left a bitter taste in our mouths as young fans of “real” music!
At 16, that band disbanded due to ‘musical difficulties’ – I was so stoned at one gig that I couldn’t remember the chords or the lyrics! It doesn’t get much more musically difficult than that!
I went to college to study A-Levels but was asked to leave after nine months having stopped going to most classes after realising that it probably wasn’t for me. My mum found a ‘Popular Music & Recording’ BTEC at Stoke-on-Trent College where she worked, that felt like the right move – I made some of the best friends of my life there, played in a few more bands but by that point, I had also discovered electronic music.
After college, I decided to go and study Music Technology at university – It felt like a great opportunity to just write music on computers for four years. I took to the academic side quite well too, graduated with a first class honours degree, joined a cover band (rather than working for a living) during my last year, and started to look at masters courses in sound design.
I got accepted onto a masters in sound design at Bournemouth University but at the same time as applying, I’d been sending out a few speculative CV’s to the few music for media / sound design companies based in the Midlands and the North West.
I landed a job writing electronic music for a very early stage sound design company called Radium Audio – But what I thought would be a dream job, turned out to be too constrained by client briefs for my mental wellbeing, and so I left to start a career in marketing at my friends' music agency.
In 2006, I experienced the lowest point in my life, losing my dad to depression. His struggle’s had plagued him on and off for 40 years, but you just never expect things to end that way. I miss him dearly.
In recent years, mental health has become less of a taboo subject in the music industry. And thankfully, there have been a number of charities set up to help musicians deal with mental health issues, such as Help Musicians UK & Music Support. But mental health and suicide are still huge problems. I am also an ambassador for Music for Mental Wealth, a community interest company dedicated to the prevention of mental health challenges in the music industry.
Ten years, a wife, two kids and a masters in Digital Marketing later, I decided to setup Indie Music Matters to help independent musicians avoid the pitfalls associated with self-releasing music with no plan or strategy.
I believe that independent music matters too much to waste the opportunity bands and musicians have in reaching and affecting an audience. I also believe that my experience in digital marketing strategy has put me in a great position to be able to show independent musicians how to do this stuff better, how to have more impact, and to help them develop sustainable careers in music.
I guess what I’m trying to achieve with IMM, Achal Dhillon of the London based independent music company, Killing Moon, put beautifully in an article with Clash Music about his company’s fifth birthday…
It’s about helping “…the artists who allow us to interfere with their lives…”
That’s what I want IMM to do. To interfere. Interrupt. Help and enable independent artists to focus on the right goals that will help them to grow as artists and businesses.
Rich Hearn – IMM Founder