Special Guest: Jo Charrington
How do you turn a temping job into a record breaking lifelong career? Well I found out while talking to Jo Charrington. Jo is president of Capitol Records UK and has had huge success in the music industry. In our little catch up she told me a lot about her humble beginnings and how she earned her position at the forefront in music. Here’s what she told me about how she got her first job in the music biz.
I loved business studies, and I thought I was going to get an A, and I think I got a D. And I do sometimes wonder if I should’ve got that remarked. But anyway, I left school, went to Kingston Polytechnic, absolutely hated it. I think did a term, and then just said to my parents, “Look, I want to work in the music business. I’ve got a plan.” I had a little plan of how to do it. And they said, “Okay, if that’s what you want to do, we’ll support you.”
And that’s a key moment in my life because if they hadn’t done that, I might’ve had grinded it out, being miserable. I might have lost my passion for music. Who knows what might have happened?
You couldn’t Google jobs in music or anything like that at the time. Google didn’t exist. There was nothing. It was just a case of, “I want to work in music. Okay. So I’m going to do a… course?”
I’d done a few jobs in the holidays. I used to come up to London and do reception work in a catering company and this, that, and the other. So I found a course. It was a bilingual … So I got quite good at French. And again, I think that relates to a good ear. I had a really good accent. So I found a bilingual secretarial course. I did shorthand. And my plan was, “I’m just going to get shit hot at being the best secretary I can be, PA. And then I’m going to get a job somewhere in a record label and just take it from there.
Music was 100% at the back of my mind. But it was just, “What’s my entry point?” And that’s all I could think of. I didn’t know anyone, I’d recently finished my stint in a band called ‘The Amazing Exploding Trouser Band’ and I knew that wasn’t going to be the route in. I thought, ‘We’re not exactly going to get a deal’. Actually, that record deal stuff hadn’t even crossed my mind at that point. But I just thought that was my route (secretary). Like I said, didn’t know anyone.
There was a magazine, which is still going, called Music Week, which was the only sort of industry Bible. I bought that. It’s pretty logical stuff. Looked in the back, and there was an agency called Handle Recruitment. And I basically joined them, and they got me my first job in. And that’s how I got in.
I think Handle Recruitment are still going as well. They’re like a temp agency. A recruitment agency. I temped in. Because the thing is, I mean even, if you want it, you’ve just got to get in. Get your foot, get your toe in the door. It’s the same now. The difference now is there are internships and things like that, and you can do those.
The Extra Mile
Back then, there wasn’t a website you’d go and look at. You needed that middle person to tell you. And I didn’t have that. My dad wasn’t in the music industry, or didn’t work at a record company. I didn’t have any of those connections, which can really help.But the thing about anything, I think, is if you get in then it’s on you. Right?
Yeah. Are you going out for lunch, or are you staying and seeing if someone else needs some extra help? Someone that you don’t necessarily work with but you say, “Can I help you with that? Can I do this? Can I take this upstairs?” You just get busy, and get in people’s faces.I think, when I look back at my career, when I started at … I had a job at Music Box, which was a temporary job. And then my second temping job was at London Records