WHAT’S IT LIKE TO BE A...
AMI JAY, FOUNDER OF AJM ARTIST MANAGEMENT, ON LIFE IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY
Band manager Ami Jay has made her career in the music industry
DIVA: How long have you been in this job?
AMI JAY: I launched AJM in 2010 in my first year at Buckinghamshire New University where I was studying BA Music Management and Artist Development. I decided to throw myself in at the deep end and run a business alongside my degree.
What’s the best thing about it?
No two days are ever the same! One day I can be sat behind my computer taking care of bookings, the next I can be in another part of the world managing an international tour. Being able to travel and work from anywhere is definitely a perk of the job. I also get to go to pretty cool events like the Brit Awards and major festivals for free. Happy days!
And the worst?
An artist manager doesn’t work nineto-five. In the new digital age of smartphones, I can work anywhere, anytime. This is fantastic for business, but really bad for knowing when to stop working. Sometimes it is essential to turn off my phone and just chill out!
Has your sexuality or gender identity ever been an issue?
Being a lesbian in the music industry can sometimes be challenging. It is a very male- dominated business – which I am hoping will change in the future! There appears to be three types of reaction from guys: lack of interest because I am “not an option”, I am seen as a challenge because “I haven’t met the right guy” or I get treated like one of the lads. Last year I took a leap and identified myself as non-binary. I have never felt particularly masculine or feminine and I don’t really present myself one way or the other. It was very refreshing to find that the bands I manage (all male, aged 24-30) responded to my identity in a very mature way. There weren’t any comments, only genuine questions. I like to think I have a good relationship with my bands and that this helped dramatically when coming out as non-binary.
What’s the best career advice you’ve been given?
Stay hungry. I met a successful music manager at a conference in Los Angeles and he advised me to always stay hungry for success. That in mind, there is no end-goal for me, I just plan to keep going until I physically can’t anymore.
How do you measure success?
I measure success on happiness. I worked almost every retail job you can think of while I was a teenager and, although I had loads of money, I was so unhappy. I wanted more for myself. Now I am happier than I have ever been with my career and that is what I count as being successful.
What’s the funniest/most ridiculous thing that’s happened to you at work?
A few years ago I was at a music industry conference in New York. One night, after a day of panels, talks and meetings, I went to a bar and got up to do Nicki Minaj on the karaoke – yes, I can rap, it surprised me too! I was there, minding my own business while belting out Superbass, when I suddenly felt someone stood behind me. I didn’t think much of it, just assumed it was a guy in the audience trying his luck, so I thought I would humour him and have a little dance. It wasn’t until about 20 minutes after my song and our dance that a waitress in the bar told me that the guy I was dancing with was Busta Rhymes!
Find out more about Ami’s work at ajmofficial.co.uk.
“An artist manager doesn’t work 9- 5”