New York City
Jake is the Senior Vice President of Warner/Chappell Music A&R, Slumbo Labs owner, Mainer and lover of pancakes.
His wife Lauren owns the Caribbean Latin bistro Ideya, in Brooklyn’s Prospect Heights. It’s worth the few extra stops on the Q train, for quality ingredients that are simple yet imaginatively prepared. The mojitos here are particularly fantastic.
How would you describe your style as an A&R?
I have a bunch of trusted sources, who I call on a lot. I feel something in my gut and I just go for it. I am not very good at trends or the latest cool shit, I honestly have to believe it's great because I think it's great. I can't chase a hit just because it's just selling. I sort of have to have an emotional connection.
Can you give me an example?
I never read tip sheets or even music mags. Definitely not any blogs. they are all just other opinions. It's always fun when an artist you work with is getting blog love, but i just don't live and die by other people's opinion. I don't think I ever really have. I signed a girl named Melanie Martinez and had no idea she had been on The Voice. She was just kinda gothie and cool and her songs were so incredibly poignant that I couldn't believe how amazing she was. I heard her sing at a show, and I was floored, and her manager wanted me to sign her because he knew I would help develop her. She just released a video independently called Dollhouse and it's amazing. I had a lot of people tell me she was tainted by The Voice, but since I had not history with The Voice and didn't watch it, I was really just going with my gut and what I loved.
Tell me about an important piece of advice you’ve been given.
The best advice that I ever got was - don't burn a relationship over a record.
I can't remember who gave me that advice, but it was when I was in the mailroom at WEA. What it basically means is that in the media business, one is only as good as their relationships, and if you mess with your relationships then you're dead. It's the currency that we deal in. Without that currency you are not going to last long. So, when I'm out there pitching a song, I really don't get to mad at people if they say that they pass on the song for their artist. Even though I may be sure that i have a big record on my hands, I'm not going to fight with someone if they pass. I'd rather go back and try to find a song they like. there will always be another song, or another band.
What do you think it takes to be a great leader today, and for the industry that is coming?
My boss Jon Platt stresses you have to have credibility first, and be very much an entrepreneur. Even in the context of your corporate job. If your acts are not taking in at least as much as you make, then you have a problem.
Are you able to give me an example from when you have witnessed great leadership style?
Great leaders have confidence in their own abilities, therefore they are totally willing to put the well-being of those under them ahead of themselves. Jon has been getting a lot of press lately as he was named to a bigger post, and all his press pieces are stating that he's proud of those who are working for him. It's incredible. He makes people feel good about themselves, about the job they are doing and that's great leadership.
Who are you working with at the moment?
My favourite producers and writers that I love right now are Kinetics & One Love (listen to melanie Martinez's "Dollhouse”), J dens (Kat Dalhia's "Gangsta”), Rockwilder and Cody Tarpley (SoMo’s "ride"). I am also crazy about my writers Erin Beck.
The artists that I am crazy about are Melanie Martinez, Macy Maloy and rapper Chris Miles.
* As told to Michelle Sullivan for The Manifesto.
Photography by Isaac Rosenthal
Creative Direction by Beatrice Hurst