Music Week x Girls I Rate presents: Mentor Me - Jacqueline 'JPL' Pelham-Leigh

Music Week x Girls I Rate presents: Mentor Me - Jacqueline 'JPL' Pelham-Leigh

With over 25 years of experience, Jacqueline ‘JPL’ Pelham-Leigh continues to trailblaze her way through the music industry. Starting out as a recording artist, she has since seamlessly transitioned into production, songwriting, business and artist management working with stars including Alexandra Burke, JoJo and Conor Maynard. Throughout her career, JPL has opened doors for creators from underrepresented backgrounds, focusing on empowerment, ownership and longevity. She is currently supporting songwriters and producers as relationship manager, Black Music at PRS For Music – a role she shares with Amaru Wilcox. Additionally, JPL continues to prioritise the development of emerging minority talent with a nurturing hand. JPL will be involved with Girls I Rate’s GETHEARD initiative in partnership with PRS For Music and PRS Foundation. Here, she shares her top tips for entering the world of music…

1. Work with people who inspire you

“Surround yourself with those that keep you motivated and inspired – people who understand your needs and are committed to growing with you. Treat meeting people like a date: take your time to court them. Are you compatible, or do you clash? Do you share the same vision? Your team must see your magic and fight to keep the lights on for you.”

2. Have discipline with yourself, your art and your craft

“As a producer, I had to set up my own home studio because I got tired of waiting for others. I learned new skills, from vocal to string arrangements, and this enabled me to transcend the boxes society prescribed. The safe space I created actually became a creative hub for my community, and uplifted me along the way. Discipline is also a commitment to balance; you have to know when to take time off!”

3. Get clued up

“Be curious and study. What is the music business? Take a course, read books, watch videos, listen to podcasts, get a mentor, learn from your peers who are in the space. When you are ready to pivot, research funding opportunities. Are you a woman looking to record and release an EP? PRS Foundation’s Women Make Music could be for you, or maybe the Open Fund For Music Creators is more suited. The point is, there are many possibilities and people within these bodies that you can write to for advice.”

4. Know your worth

“Don’t undervalue yourself, but equally don’t oversell yourself. Sometimes having less and being able to build a career that is special and sustainable is how you create value. If they won’t give you a seat at the table, build your own house and let them put their table in your house. Equally, I’ve learnt how important it is to be credited. As a songwriter, producer or composer, PRS For Music’s register works tool is so important to you making money.”

5. Don’t burn a bridge…

“Unless you have no intention of going back over it. Be respectful. It will serve you in the long run. We have a saying in Sierra Leone, ‘A mother hen doesn’t jump over hot coals because she knows her chicks can’t fly’. You have to understand how your manoeuvre has power.”

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