There is the inevitable curiosity behind a business and people like to understand the person or people driving the entity forward. Here is a Q&A with Tim Hill, the founder of Honest.
What is your background in the music business?
I helped set up a music business conference in South Africa called Music Exchange with a couple of my friends who were with reputable labels in the country. The aim of the conference was to empower musicians with the business acumen to help them make a living out of what they love to do, music. From there, we started a music-focused public relations and radio plugging business called Tuned In Publicity and we worked with many South African pop and rock acts as well as some massive international artists who toured the country. Aside from handling PR for artists, a few of them required management services and I ended up working closely with them to develop their respective business strategies.
Can you name drop some of the big international names you have worked with?
Of course! I am honoured to have worked with Akon, who was a lovely man. One of the artists I represented toured with Bryan Adams as his support act – another gem. I did a huge PR campaign for Michael Bolton around the launch of his Duets album in conjunction with Sony Music. My favourite however was Jennifer Rush – we got on famously. R Kelly was one I’d rather forget though – not a nice experience. Then I had the pleasure of working with Cindy Alter from Clout, who were South Africa’s only band to break internationally with a global hit.
Why did you not get into PR and management in the UK?
God knows I tried! My CV was sent far and wide, but what worked against me is that at the time, I was not familiar with the UK/ European music landscape and I also didn’t have the “little black book” of music contacts. It isn’t about what you know, it is about who you know, especially in the entertainment business, which is massively competitive. No-one disputed my roster and what I had done for my artists, it was just that the UK was unfamiliar turf for me 6 years ago. I am happy to say that I am slowly building up some good contacts!
Why the music business?
It is a labour of love! I love music and everything about it and it has been a past time since I was old enough to buy my own LP! Sadly I don’t play an instrument or sing, but I have a passion for good music. I hold huge respect for anyone who is able to put their thoughts and feelings into a melody and lyrics. Many people ask me about my lack of music skill, and my response to them is that I listen with a consumer’s ear and not a technical ear. I know what makes me turn up the volume, repeat a song or even skip a song! There is great satisfaction seeing a song climb the charts and knowing that this is the fruit of hard and strategic work.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the music business?
I think that making a good living is really tough and most of the musicians I have worked with have day jobs and very few actually earn enough to sustain themselves through being full time musicians. Obviously the pandemic hasn’t helped as live entertainment is one of the main revenue streams and many venues have closed their doors on a temporary or permanent basis. Right now, it is definitely survival of the fittest and those musicians who think outside of the box and show innovation, those who keep composing and those who have used the downtime to perfect their craft, are the ones who stand a better chance of sustaining their careers beyond this rough pandemic. There are many other challenges that have always been there – it is a highly competitive industry and artists need to be on their “A-game” the whole time.
Why did you get into coaching?
My calling has always been to help people and I have always seemed to be the go-to person for advice and help in business and personally. I am a very practical and solutions driven person and empathy has always been one of my stronger points. Originally I was going to get into counselling and help people get through their various problems. But a phone call with a good friend of mine, someone I respect hugely, changed my perspective on that. He said that helping people with issues, no matter how noble it is, will only bring my energies down and exhaust me. He said I should perhaps look into coaching and helping people who have ambition do better and be better. Coaching needs a niche and I had an epiphany one night during a bout of insomnia and thought it would be good if I could once again work with musicians and coach them from a mindset point of view and help them get “unstuck.”
You seem to have a lot of life experience both good and bad?
O yes! I have had a very interesting ride, albeit very bumpy at many points. Although many of the elements in my personal journey have been massively traumatic for me, I believe there is always gold in the learnings we take from our experiences and I am open to sharing the wisdom gained through adversity to help others on their respective journeys. I am always very open when it comes to discussing my sexuality and “coming out”, my struggles with mental health, gaining an unfortunate criminal conviction and bereavement amongst other things. Trust me, I have made some monumental cock ups in my life and career. All said though, I had a good upbringing in a good middle class home and I am truly grateful for that.
What do you believe at attributes for a successful career in the music business?
Firstly, a good song. Without that, there is no real point. You have to have vision and clarity and a sense of direction and you have to be able to tell people why you are so special in an industry of millions of aspiring artists. Then there is smart and hard work. I am a firm believer of what you put in is what you get out. Planning is essential as is taking action and doing. Keep up with what’s going on in the music business – who is doing what, what is charting. Most of all build and maintain strong relationships within the industry. Put yourself out there but always have a plan.
How do you think you can help musicians and other entertainers?
The entertainment business has many disappointments and artists get very despondent at times. I want to help them get into the right mindset to enable them to get back on their horses and keep moving forward. Really what I do is a blend of business, career, mindset and life coaching because it is very important to be in the right frame of mind to survive and thrive in the entertainment business. I want to help artists identify their barriers and limiting beliefs, I want to help them set personal and career goals and assist in developing a plan of action. I want to be an accountability partner and safe space where they can speak about their fears and insecurities and we can constructively address them and get over the hurdles. Then there is the practical side where I can offer business advice and strategic planning.