Behind The Brand: Pete Downes

Having started out as an intern less than four years ago, 31 year old Pete Downes is now the Head of Artist and Label Promo at London PR company Jukebox PR. Launched in 2008 by Alex Jukes, the company has a focused team that work with festivals, event promoters, hotels, tech companies, DJs and labels.

Pete is evidence that high quality work, networking and persistence can breed long term rewards. We reached out to him for the second edition of our Behind The Brand series, where we look at some of the key people working within the music industry, if you want to check out last months Behind The Brand with Data Transmission founder Grahame Farmer you can do so HERE.

So when did you first join Jukebox PR?

Hey, great to speak to you! I started at Jukebox PR nearly 4 years ago now. When I first started I was an intern working across both the festival and events team, and also the artists and label side of things. As my time there progressed and resulted in me being offered a full time position, I began to work more prominently on the artist and label side of the business, and in October 2016, I became the Head Of Artist and Label promo.

Now 18 months on from that, that side of things is blossoming really nicely and we currently work with 20+ artists and 40+ labels across a variety of different dance music genres.

And did you face many struggles in the beginning?

When I first started, my main task like most PR’s was to come to terms with the many different facets of the business. Understanding and getting to know the many different job roles of the numerous types of key media, and how each person could help me in my future career.

Once I understood that, my role was about building up important relationships with these people so that when an artist/label/festival or event wanted to secure important and interesting coverage to gain exposure for themselves, I was clear about how best to get it, and had those key relationships set in place to effectively make that happen.

What does a typical day look like?

A typical day for me would be arriving at our office in London around 9.30am and sifting through the numerous emails and promos that I have received over the previous evening. Having a global client base means that I am constantly receiving requests and demands across a number of our roster 24/7, and my job couldn’t really be further from a 9-5 if it tried. Once I’ve done that, I normally plan out our schedule for the day in terms of promo send outs and begin to prioritise the days key tasks.

Often we will have artists that take precedence for that week with a key release or gig to be pushed, and we will often sit down as a team and strategise how best to do that and maximise results. The rest of the day is mostly pitching for coverage across the many media outlets and often going out for meetings with artists, managers or certain media to talk through campaigns, talk about future plans, or further relationships and make them stronger.

Which project makes you feel the most proud?

It would be hard to name one project but working with many artists and record labels, you get the most pride when you may have taken them on as a client when they were quite an unknown quantity that you believed in, and through your hard work and connections, and their talent and persistence, they have blossomed and risen over time and became more of a household name across the industry.

Obviously when there is certain key press that you have garnered for a client, or a certain event or showcase that you have made possible for them, that is particularly pleasing in my line of work.

Tell us the worst job you had in the past?

Haha probably too many to mention! When I was 19/20 I worked a lot in retail at the weekends whilst at university, and to this day I’m surprised at how I survived going regularly into work with little sleep or half intoxicated after rolling out of a nightclub at 6/7am and thinking I looked the freshest there for the day! It probably set me up for the industry I was to fall into, but it is definitely something that at the time I considered an inconvenience! haha.

What are your main goals for 2018?

My main goals for 2018 are to keep building up our roster with more exciting high profile artists and labels, but also putting even bigger focus on searching and reaching out to find those hidden talents that you can nurture from the beginning. This, I would say gives me even bigger satisfaction as through my work this persons talent can see the light of day, when without it this might not have been possible.

Also I’m looking forward to a huge summer of festivals around the world, and meeting more fun, interesting and charismatic people that we seem to have in abundance in our industry!

What projects do you have running right now?

Currently we have a lot of exciting artists on the roster with the likes of Solomun, Matthias Tanzmann, POPOF, djebali, John Dimas etc. and labels of the calibre of Diynamic Music, Moon Harbour, Einmusika Recordings, Warung Recordings (special mention for Warung Beach club in Brazil being the BEST club in the world) and Elrow Music.

As we come to the end of March and summer is very much on the horizon, the amount of travelling that the job consists of visiting the different festivals and events that these artists perform at can be tiring and physically challenging, but it is definitely one of the perks of the job and something that I enjoy immensely. Travelling and going to many fun parties abroad is something that makes the long days and persistent emails more tolerable.

Lastly, give us a track you can’t seem to turn off at the minute?

Quite an obvious one as I feel like it’s everywhere at the moment, but the new Four Tet remix of Biceps ‘Opal’ is one of those tracks that seems to get better and better the more times you hear it. Kieran is such a phenomenal producer that every time he has a new production out, you know already it’s going to be stuck in your head for weeks and weeks, and this one in particular just won’t leave me alone right now! Haha.