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Andy Griffin

Associate Lecturer and alumni - Music and Performing Arts

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Andy Griffin

With a distinguished career spanning over three decades within the music industry, I contribute a wealth of expertise, having started my professional journey in 1992 and establishing my base in Asia since 2006. Notably, I served as the co-manager of Warner Music Thailand's artist, Pyra, from 2019 to 2020, and played an integral role within the team of multi-platinum alternative rock artist Placebo from 2008 to 2019.

Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?

I was born in Cheshire but brought up in South Manchester. I started playing the drums when I was 11 and I joined several terrible bands which in turn led onto an interest in recording and studios. I went to Newcastle College to study Music Technology when I was 19 and it was an easy decision for me. Since then I worked in London for 11 years at labels and studios before leaving the UK to live in Asia "for one year" in 2006. 18 years later I'm still here so I must be doing something right! 

Why did you choose to study at Newcastle College?

Newcastle is a beautiful and vibrant city with an incredible musical heritage and, as a Newcastle United fan, I always wanted to live there. Around the early 1990s there wasn't the music business study options there are now so deciding to move there from Manchester was a no brainer! 

Tell us about how you worked with industry whilst studying your degree.

Mainly it was working with local musicians, venues and studios on recordings or live shows. My course had a Work Experience element which allowed me to gain valuable experience at studios such as Parr Street in Liverpool, Westbourne Grove in London and Gt Linford Manor in Milton Keynes. During this time I worked with bands such the Inspiral Carpets, Billy Bragg, Janet Kay and Aswad and producers such as Ken Nelson (who produced the first two Coldplay albums) and Simon Efemey.

How would you describe your tutors, and how did their industry experience benefit you?

The tutors in the early 1990s were knowledgeable, experienced, passionate and approachable. Their love of the subject was infectious which gave me the inspiration to pursue a career in the music industry.  

What did you enjoy the most about your degree?

The steep learning curve coupled with the very hands-on approach to study!

What inspires you?

I love reading the YouTube comments on bands and tracks I've worked on, seeing how (positively) the fans react and what these songs mean to them. That drives me on! 

Can you give us a brief overview of your working life since leaving Newcastle College?

Ah well, I've done quite a bit but the headlines are:

Sound Engineer
Recorded a diverse range of artists including Pantera, Duran Duran, Skunk Anansie, Heller & Farley, ELO, Bruce Dickinson, Machine Head, The Beloved, The Wildhearts, Cancer, Helmet and Paradise Lost. 

Repertoire and Catalogue Manager Sony BMG 
Spearheaded a team responsible for setting up worldwide access to the Sony BMG repertoire whilst reporting into Clive Rich, Director of Business Affairs in the UK, and the US Board of Directors.

Smiled Records (own business)
Planned and implemented artist campaigns including release schedules, promo, press, radio, TV, marketing and touring to maximise commercial opportunities. 

Universal Music Group
A&R Coordinator (UK)
Business Development Manager (Malaysia) 

Riverman Artist Management (Thailand) 
Placebo, Colin Macleod, Wild Beasts, Kyle Falconer, Stefan Olsdal and Digital 21.

Karma Artist Management (Thailand)

Artist Management
Thai acts Yep May Yep, SEKI, Cupnoodle and Shadow Colonies.

Music Industry Consultant - Record Labels, Artist Management, Agent
A&R, creative and marketing services for Warner Music (Asia), Sony Music (Asia), Ostereo (UK), Riverman Management (Bangkok and London), Karma X/Warner (Asia), Secret Signals (SG), Kaleidoscope BKK (Thailand), What The Duck (Bangkok)

Securing public speaking engagements for Dr Mathew Knowles (Beyonce and Solange’s father). 

How have the skills you gained at Newcastle College helped you in your professional career?

The music technology skills I gained at Newcastle opened up a path to working in studios and around bands - that in turn led to me working at labels, managing bands, operating my own studio and running my own label. Every time I built on and developed my skill set. 

What advice would you give to anyone considering studying at Newcastle College?

Be prepared for those cold North Sea winds, the beautiful Northumbrian countryside, the amazing music scene, friendly locals and the fanatical Toon Army! 

What are your top 5 tips for moving from studying to employment in the sector?

1. Network, network and network again - go to as many gigs, after shows and events as you can and get your name and face known. Get a LinkedIn account and add people. Always follow up with a "good to meet you" and "a thank you for making the time", people remember that.

2. Be respectful, listen but also speak up and don't be afraid to ask questions. 

3. Be resilient and develop a thick skin, you're going to need it. 

4. Remember your health is your number one priority so look after yourself. Put your phone down and take a break from social media. Get away from music now and again, do something else. Exercise, sleep and eat well. Don't be afraid of saying no now and again too. 

5. Keep learning as the industry changes very quickly. Get a grasp of terminology and developments and know enough to participate in those important conversations.