Our first Job Envy of the year comes courtesy of Will Evans, CEO of Spitfire Audio. We managed to pin him down and asked him to tell us about his role.
Place of work?
How long have you had the job?
10 months (I was Global Sales & Marketing Manager before that, for 18 months).
What does a typical day involve?
I get up, get ready, and have breakfast every day with my family – it’s important for me to do that because my daughter is asleep by the time I get home. I get the tube from South London to Kings Cross, and spend that time catching up on paperwork – reading and reviewing documents that people have sent to me, usually. I also use this time to listen to new music – I spend some time on the weekends adding the latest releases to playlists I have and this keeps me up-to-date with where people are going with music making.
I arrive at the office at 9.45am and spend a short amount of time catching up with high priority emails. It’s normally not long before I’m taking a call, catching-up with managers or in meetings. [advert-inline] I get bored of being in my office for long periods of time so I like to wander around the office to see what people are up to. I try not to interfere too much – it’s mostly about getting inspired by the exciting things that people are working on.
We’ve got a new kitchen with plenty of space, so now I like to join everyone when I can for lunch. Recently I’ve been eating vegetarian sandwiches.
The afternoon tends to be similar to the morning, but I become less productive at hands-on tasks so prefer to talk and think. From 5pm it starts to get quiet, and I often return to emails and spreadsheets at this time.
Typically 3 out of 5 days are like this. The other 2 days might be spent visiting sessions at studios, travelling, meeting other creators, spending time with Paul and Christian our founders, having offsite gatherings with managers, and so on. I still get a buzz stepping inside studios – even our own. I’ll never be ungrateful for making a living and being involved in music.
Highs of the job?
Creating products with the most talented people in music and recording is incredibly exciting. I also love working with such a young and energetic team – we’re all learning together, every day.
Lows of the job?
Working with so many people and having to make decisions in order to move forward inevitably leads to some situations where not everyone is on board. I tend to want to please, but that’s not always conducive to doing what’s best for the whole and that can be difficult.
Who are the people who’ve had the biggest influence on your career and why?
Lots of my friends and associates work on the recording side of music – artists, producers, managers and record label people. Often, I find that those who are doing the most exciting things are very friendly, calm and thoughtful. Spending time with them always inspires me to ‘stay normal’ – that is, be happy with who I am, and focus on doing a good job of whatever I’m doing.
There are lots of people who’ve helped me along the way, but if I could choose one person it would be Kwame Kwaten – he’s an artist manager who, despite my total naivety and lack of experience, became my first major mentor and opened so many doors for me in music. He’s had a hand in the career of so many great artists and managers. I also learned a great deal by working with all of the artists involved in my record label; many of whom are my close friends today.
How did you get the job?
I was at Focusrite (who also release Novation products) and led their Artist Relations team. Throughout my time there I learned more about how the business worked and became particularly interested in marketing. Stanley Gabriel, a friend of mine who I’d met at the University of Surrey, told me about a new position at Spitfire to head-up marketing and I went for it.
It was a small team then – 6/7 people in the office – and I had the chance to build a department from scratch, which was a really exciting prospect. Over the next year or so I did that and found myself becoming more and more clear about what we could achieve as a company – Paul and Christian, the founders, took me out for breakfast one morning and asked how I felt about running the company so that they could focus more on their original roles and less on the day-to-day, and that was that.
How can we get your job?
I don’t have any formal training in business, marketing or management. That’s not to say it’s not useful, but what I must have drawn on is my experience over the years of working with people in lots of different ways. So, to become a leader/manager of people, you’d do well to have spent lots of time trying to achieving things with other people – that could be as part of your own venture, or someone else’s, but I think the key thing – as often discussed – is the hours.
From the age of 20, I’ve probably spent at least 2 hours a day talking with new and different people about doing something together – whether that’s a creative collaboration or a business transaction (in my case via having a little record label and managing artists). This was alongside my day job. Adding that all up over the last 13 years makes (2 x 365 x 13 = 9490) approximately 10,000 hours!
Something that’s really making sense to me now is also to not become too blinded by those around you and your own expectation of success. Just focus entirely on doing a great job at the thing someone’s asked you to do, and commit any extra energy into endeavours that you really believe in. Those things combined, I think, will take you to where you’re destined to be. If that’s a record producer, world-famous DJ or artist manager, then you’ll end up there because you’ll be good at delivering what people need from you and you’ll be headed in the direction of your own interests.
Sometimes what you think you want to be isn’t where you’ll be most happy ending up.