Meet the new MMF Board #1: Red Grape Music's Kerry Harvey-Piper

Meet the new MMF Board #1: Red Grape Music's Kerry Harvey-Piper

The Music Managers Forum (MMF) welcomed the election of first-time board members Kerry Harvey-Piper, Sumit Bothra and Vicky Dowdall earlier this month.

The trio have already spoken of their reasons for putting themselves forward and what they hope to contribute as the organisation enters a new era.

Harvey-Piper (pictured), of Red Grape Music, told Music Week"I was on the board of AIM for five years and really enjoyed the experience, learning a massive amount from other board members and contributing to the formation of both the AIM Independent Music Awards and the Women In Music Awards.

"A board should aim to represent the diversity of its membership and I hope to contribute my experience as an independent self-starter building up a successful roster in a relatively niche genre."

Managers are generally very good at changing direction on the fly

Kerry Harvey-Piper

Red Grape Music

Here, in an in-depth Q&A, Harvey-Piper speaks of the main issues facing the management sector amid the coronavirus crisis - and how the business is adapting to deal with it. 

What in your opinion have been the key challenges facing music managers during the crisis? And how are managers attempting to overcome them? 

"The uncertainty has definitely been one of the biggest challenges. Artists generally look to their managers for clarity and planning but especially at the start no-one knew more than anyone else. At what point to pull a tour?  Do we reschedule for the autumn or next year? Should we postpone releases? How do the artists continue to make an income? Can online concerts really engage audiences enough to pay the artists? If artists are earning nothing, how do managers earning 20% of nothing stay afloat? It felt like everyone was stumbling around in the dark, desperate for someone/anyone somewhere/anywhere to produce answers. 

"Managers are generally very good at changing direction on the fly, so in a lot of ways it’s the kind of situation that can bring out the best in us.  I feel like some clarity of thinking is returning, but the massive questions around live touring are still very difficult to answer; solutions that might work for big artists with worldwide fanbases in the 18-30 age range might not work at all for more niche or developing artists, or those with an older fanbase."

What do you think will be the long-term ramifications of coronavirus? 

"I’m useless at predictions and in this case I don’t think anyone knows for sure, except that things will be ‘different’. Our jobs as managers are to help our artists navigate the ramifications and I’m aiming to get it right at least some of the time. "

What adjustments/changes have you needed to initiate in your own artists' campaigns?

"I’ve delayed releases of two albums and postponed two tours for 12 months, and it’s been a great learning curve for all of us to work out how to keep connected with audiences.  I’ve loved seeing what the artists I work with come up with and helping them facilitate and capitalise on their ideas, be that live streaming kitchen concerts, imaginary tours from their studio, online Q & As with fans, lockdown merch, new song-writing collaborations, remote band performances etc.

"One particular challenge is that one of my artists, Hafdis Huld from Iceland, is one of this year’s PRS Keychange artists. With the cancellation or move to online of the festivals & conferences that we planning to showcase at, it’s a lot harder to make the most of such a great programme.  Keychange have been fantastically supportive and are working hard to provide as many opportunities as possible for the women on this year’s programme. However, without face to face contact and real life showcases, it’s much harder to capitalise on opportunities so it’s an ongoing challenge for all of us."

How important is the role of the MMF at this time?

"The MMF has been an absolute godsend. The fantastic selection of webinars & zooms of master classes with excellent speakers, and the learning opportunities they’ve provided have been invaluable.  I’ve probably learned more in the past three months than I have in the past three years and I’ve got an entire notebook full of tips from the online sessions that I’ve been putting into practice.

"The support from other managers has been great too, sometimes just to have a good old moan and realise that we’re all in the same storm even if our boats are of different sizes."

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