Harriet JW

Harriet JW

Music & Brand Strategist

Harriet JW is a brand strategist who coaches artists and music business owners. She is passionate about building genuine connections between creators and their fans.

She has 15 years experience building brands from global names such as The North Face, to her own music platforms GIRLS TO THE FRONT and Secret Sessions.

Harriet has worked with 100s of artists early on in their careers from Ed Sheeran to Mahalia, Bastille and Arlo Parks.

Where are you based?

I’m based in Margate, UK, I was previously in London for 10 years, but wanted to live near the sea in a house with a big dog and a baby!

Where do you work? What do you do?

I’m a coach for music creators looking to build their brand audience and income. I run a couple of music businesses, I started Secret Sessions, which began as a YouTube channel and developed into a live event having featured anyone from Bastille, Kacey Musgraves, Mahalia, Passenger, and lots and lots of new artists as well. I also run a Music Creator coaching platform Creator Business School which is my main focus at the moment. Oh and a top 3 Podcast – Girls To The Front, I’m obsessed with starting things and I tend to have the energy to keep them going too! 

What are you listening to?

I tend to listen to a real range of artists. I still listen to quite a lot of heritage artists that have been featured on Secret Sessions over the years from when I was filming and featuring different artists weekly. I was discovering artists so regularly, but I don’t do that so often anymore. But that doesn’t mean to say that I don’t still get a lot of artists coming through. So let’s see, Eivør who is an amazing artist from the Faroe Islands. I was listening to her this morning. Equally, I listen to, you know, big well-known artists. I love Beyonce. I love Lizzo, Nicki Minaj. Probably my all time favorite artists, it is a toss-up between Ben Howard or Bon Iver. Unfortunately, we’ve never featured Bon Iver on Secret Sessions. But we have featured Ben Howard. So eclectic and a real range. Also some like real discovery artists that I am listening to at the moment. An artist I am working with Sophie Rose has just released her first single ‘’Healing In The Burn’’ it’s brilliant! 

How do you discover new music?

With Secret Sessions we put on 3-6 artists every month. They’re not running currently, but in my coaching business, I am constantly getting new music in front of me. What’s really nice is now that I work with artists in a more intimate way in coaching and artist development, I really get to know the artist as well, which makes the music a lot more meaningful.

What formats do you usually listen to? LP, CD, Cassette, Digital, Streaming Services? Why?

Ha, Full on streaming services. We have a record player, which is also great to do. We also have a 10 month old and that means it’s  “Alexa, can you play”… whatever we remember we want to listen to.

Where do you do most of your music listening?

Most of the music listening I do is at home these days. I don’t tend to commute as much as I used to. I used to go to London, three or four times a week, and listened to music on the commute, but now I’m pretty much working at home. So, yup it’s Alexa, “can you play this artist” through our Sonos speakers. Sounds good and we have a few speakers around the house. So there’s always music on in our house.

How do you find and listen to pre-release music?

I’m often getting sent music by artists before it’s released and something that’s a real honour and it is often in the demo stage. I get to hear some of this music, sometimes before it even goes into the studio. I think there’s something really special about that stage. I’m always trying to get artists to share their original voice notes, from their phones or whatever, that they’ve got, you know those fair early versions of songs, to really show that process to their fans. Some of them are quite reluctant to do that, but I think it’s a really important part of the journey.

What are your frustrations with listening to music digitally? Any benefits?

Sometimes people just don’t make it easy for the person they’re sending music to. So, I’ve had things sent by Dropbox, by WeTransfer, I’ve had broken links, I’ve had Google Drive links that you don’t have access to… Just put it somewhere where someone can click one button and listen to the music. You know, we all have such small attention spans now, and everyone’s very busy. So to have to sort through the tech that somebody has not tested or got wrong can be quite frustrating. 

The frustration that I have listening to music digitally on streaming platforms, is the pull of knowing that these streaming platforms aren’t particularly fair to most of the artists that I work with. Early stage artists are not getting income from streaming, which in some ways is just the modern world. I don’t think streaming platforms should necessarily be seen as your main source of revenue. I think they should be seen as calling cards to places where you can make money elsewhere, whether that’s through merch, or live, or, the experience led stuff. I have frustrations around the stats, seeing who’s making money on the streaming platforms, but at the same time, I do understand that it is part of the business and the modern day. I think it’s more about trying to help artists do something different.

“Sometimes people just don’t make it easy for the person they’re sending music to. So, I’ve had things sent by Dropbox, by WeTransfer, I’ve had broken links, I’ve had Google Drive links that you don’t have access to… Just put it somewhere where someone can click one button and listen to the music”

How do you keep track of everything you are listening to?

I am probably not very good at keeping track of everything I’m listening to. I used to really be quite heavy into playlists, and I just don’t really have the time anymore. So as I said, Alexa in this house, so it usually ends up being me trying to remember who I want to listen to, which is quite hard sometimes…

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Do you tip other people off to new music? How?

Naturally around my job people often ask me who are the new musicians to look out for, so I am often sharing the music of the clients that I work with, sharing their stuff on social platforms. I’d say that when I was really actively pushing the YouTube channel and the live events, the tipping of new music was much more regular. These days, the coaching and the artist development that I’m doing means that I am still working with artists but just not as many, that revolving door of artist after artist after artist…

Anything you want to “promote”?

Well from Girls To The Front point of view. I would love to promote Lexi Berg who has recently signed to Warner. I think she’s making really really great music. A really lovely story from lockdown. So she was someone that would come to a lot of the free sessions that I ran and just really worked hard, and push through during locked down and ended up getting a record deal at the end of it when every other artist was pulling their hair out. Hummm, who else would I like to promote… think I’m just gonna go with Lexi today.

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