Emjaymedia: music to the core

Martin Jeffries, founder of Emjaymedia, took the plunge and returned to the music business full-time despite being well established in the Chelmsford music scene in a part-time capacity. He is a true music lover and has plans that should hopefully benefit the local music scene.

I set up Emjaymedia following the demise of Pinnacle, in 2008, following the banking crash. Out of necessity, I took another job to finance it at the start. I had no idea then whether it could be successful or not. It took a few years to even decide its direction.

Much experience to bear when setting up Emjaymedia

Emjay started out as mainly management but developed into promotion. The two areas overlapped to a certain degree, and I was able to use my 25+ years’ experience to build connections and achieve some success locally.

Music industry vagaries meant that I had to keep Emjay part time. However, keeping two jobs going at the same time became increasingly difficult post-Covid. I decided to devote my time to the business that fills my heart and soul, if not my pockets so much. I love the local music scene we have in Chelmsford; we have some amazing musicians. It’s great to be able to work with them and contribute in a small way to the local arts scene. 

Exciting tie-ins with HMV

I’m working with HMV on its live&local project. This is a nationwide scheme bringing new, unsigned, artists into their local store to perform a set. It’s been going for about a year with a new act each month. The great thing is it directly connects musicians with a receptive audience who are in store browsing. Importantly, HMV commits to stocking any physical product they are promoting. It’s been a great success so far.

I have also been working to connect HMV with the city’s most important live venue, Hot Box, which has been providing the in-store performance sound. Next month will see the first HMV-promoted gig at Hot Box, when Safenath plays on May 19.

Later in the year, I am promoting a special event at Hot Box with Steve Mortimer, aka SR Mortimer. It’s to support World Mental Health Day. Steve, and special guests, will be performing tracks from his upcoming album Psalms from the Gutter. Proceeds will go to mental health charities, including Nordoff Robbins. It is matter close to Steve’s heart, but which affects so many other people.

In July, The Willow Festival returns after a seven-year break. I have been lucky enough to have been able to take several local acts to the event over the years. It’s a wonderful festival comprising unsigned artists performing on seven stages over three days. It’s held in Peterborough, but Essex will be well represented with Jack Browning, Snakes, We Are All Fossils, and Alison confirmed.

Now that I have more time, I’m really looking forward to working more closely on the local music scene and being able to go to more gigs! I’ve lived in Chelmsford for more than forty years and I think that this is one of the most exciting times for the arts that I can remember. However, the economic crisis means that the entertainment/arts sector is under a huge threat and it’s going to present massive challenges to all of us that work in it, to keep things going and keep audiences coming to see great music and art. 

The early years

I left Parrot Records in 1987 after seven amazing years and got a job working for MCA as a sales rep for East Anglia. It was a dream job, driving round the country visiting record shops and talking music all day long! I was like a kid in a candy store!

One of the first events I went to was a gig at the old Marquee Club. MCA had just signed Transvision Vamp and the whole company was there to see the show. It was a fantastic gig, great atmosphere. Wendy James was owning the stage, as ever, when someone shouted up at her, “Get yer t*** out Wendy!” She  immediately stopped the gig, walked to the edge of the stage, stared down at the guy and said, “Tell you what mate, you get your f***ing c**k out, and I’ll get my t**s out, ok?” Needless to say, he didn’t, and the gig carried on. Great times. So lucky to be a part of it all. 

Career highlights

All my life I have been obsessed with music and the charts. Growing up, I would never miss listening to the Top 40 run down. I would write the charts out every week, in chart books, some of which I still have. I could never imagine then that one day I would get a job working in the music industry and eventually be Head of Singles at Pinnacle Records. My absolute dream job.

So, my personal major success came when I worked on the Jason Nevins vs Run DMC record “It’s Like That”, which went to number ones and was at the top for six weeks – in the process ending the Spice Girls run of consecutive number one singles. It was an amazing time for Pinnacle, and for myself. The boy who collected the charts at home, now involved with an actual chart-topping record. While at Pinnacle I was lucky enough to work on seven number one singles altogether, including two Christmas number ones – the most coveted of all the chart positions. 

Jason Nevins vs Run DMC

I have had a wonderful career in the music industry for which I will always be grateful.

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