Day In The Life: Mark Jones, head of PIAS/Wall Of Sound records

'I want to sell a million of every record'
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The Independent Culture

I don't have an alarm clock. My brain doesn't really switch off unless I'm heavily sedated. I'm up early and in the gym by eight. It's my aim to run the London Marathon one day so I need to keep up my cardiovascular fitness. After that, I head round the corner to a private members' bar on Portobello Road for a meeting.


Today's first meeting is a logistical catch-up with my label managers, Toby Peacock and Sean Mayo. Over coffees we discuss important management issues such as who'll oversee what act on the newly combined roster, international licensing considerations and the pressing need for some new branded compliments slips.


Meeting over, we jump in my car and head to the office. The choice of what should be singer-songwriter Iain Archer's new single has been playing on my mind. I've been having doubts about a previous decision, so I take the opportunity to play Toby and Sean my new favourite track - it's an attention-grabbing, muscular song.


Every Monday morning we have our weekly project meeting. It's how I keep on top of all that's happening with each of the label's acts. Attended by key members of the PIAS/Wall Of Sound staff, today's is a fast-paced meeting where we discuss who'll be checking out what bands and when, and run through the relevant comings and going, tours and studio activities of more than 10 artists.


Next, is a meeting with Tinku Bhattacharyya, the manager of Genuine/PIAS-signed artist Amp Fiddler. The artist is flying in from Detroit at the end of the week to mix some tracks from his forthcoming album, so we have a few things to discuss. Talk turns to producers and re-mixes of various tracks and we confirm the track-listings of two imminent 10-inches and discuss how we might break into mainstream radio. It's a hugely productive meeting.


I'm taking 19-year-old Paul Steel, an artist I hope to sign, and his manager, to lunch. I've never signed an artist I don't believe in. And for his age, Paul's songwriting and natural ability is amazing.

The recent merger between PIAS and Wall Of Sound has given us some more financial welly, but as an independent label, we can still find ourselves priced out of the running. When offers start to go into the region of half a million to a million pounds, I can't do it. That's what happened with the Scissor Sisters - I released their first single, but then Polydor offered them a huge deal. They'll always be the ones that got away.


By the time we make it back to the office, my next appointments - Iain Archer, his two managers and his publisher - are already waiting. Of course, that troublesome choice of new single is the first matter for consideration. I play my preferred choice, the arresting "Truth Drug" to the room. Pleasingly Archer is convinced. An urgent call is put through to the CD pressing plant. This is a 12th-hour change of heart; promo copies of the other single choice were due to be made today.

The remainder of the meeting is devoted to the album campaign which hinges on changing perceptions of Archer. This is the most important part of the campaign for me. He's a fantastic songwriter who's won an Ivor Novello for Album Of The Year for his work with Snow Patrol, but we need to establish him as an artist in his own right. We need to bring out the man behind the songs. To be honest, I want to sell a million records of every record we release. It's just we want to do it on our terms without compromising the artists' integrity or our own.


For the final office meeting of the day, I've invited in record producer Damien Mendis, who's worked with bands as diverse as Electric Six, Gorillaz and Atomic Kitten. I want him to listen to some of Amp Fiddler's new tracks: there are some bits we need a hand with. Amp is a leftfield soul artist but we need to make him sound good on the radio and Mendis has a real knack for that. We need to consider ways of tweaking the songs to increase their airplay appeal.


A studio meeting with one of the label's bands, Little Barrie, is cancelled as lead singer Barrie Cadogan is unwell. Then, my well-intentioned plans to make it over to DJ Tom Middleton's studio to hear a few tracks he's producing for us are hijacked by heavy rush hour traffic: my choice is to either sit in the car for an hour or pop home to see my three-month-old son. As I'm flying to Hamburg in the morning to see one of my bands, The Infadels, I take the opportunity to spend a few hours with my family.


After a quick dinner, I head into Soho to see a prospective signing play. There were three bands I wanted to see tonight, but due to clashing stage times, I could only make one. But I'm pleased I made it - there's something special about this blues-addled trio. Discovering new talent is a huge part of what drives me. Stuart Price of Les Rythmes Digitales and Zoot Woman, now famous for being Madonna's producer of choice, is my proudest signing. He's gone on to do other things and that's what it's about for me: signing someone at 16 and helping develop their career. With an independent label you're there every step of the way. You're part and parcel of it - it's my life, it's everything. You give everything to it and sometimes you get something back.