James Perry: 5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career in The Music Industry

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Have a routine — this is key in prioritizing self-care and cultivating healthy habits. The good thing about routines is that you are in control of how you want it to be. Balance is everything, so making sure your routine consists of exercise, healthy breaks, a time for rest, focus/meditation and whatever you feel needs to be part of it. This allows you to not always be consumed by the intensity of work.

As a part of our series about creating a successful career in the music industry, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing James Perry.

James Perry is a Black-British award-winning Composer from London, who has his work shown all over the world. With 10 years of music experience in the Film/TV industry, he has built his career on music that embodies a story and a purpose.

James is active in a wide range of musical mediums: Film, TV, Theatre, adverts, live performances, music production, podcasts, and game.

His most recent music work is featured behind the scenes of BAFTA award-winning comedian, Mo Gilligan’s latest documentary on Channel 4 ‘The Black British Takeover’, which premiered on Friday 28th October 2022. James also composed the current music titles for the BAFTA award-winning TV talk show ‘The Lateish Show with Mo Gilligan’ (Season 3). On top of this, earlier this year, James had also scored the music for Mo Gilligan’s latest Netflix stand-up ‘There’s Mo To Life’, which was released in more than 180 countries.

He has worked in the American world of entertainment since 2014, where he scored the online series ‘All That Matters’ directed by Hollywood actress, Meagan Good and Tamara Bass. He then went on to work with Meagan Good and Tamara Bass again in 2019, where he scored the feature film ‘If Not Now, When?’, which was featured at ‘American Black Film Festival’ in 2019, after shortly being released on Amazon Prime Video in 2021. In between this, James had also worked with ‘Insecure’ writer/producer/director, Amy Aniobi on her film ‘Honeymoon’, which he received an award for ‘outstanding music’ at the Abuja International Film Festival.

More recently, James has continued to attract U.S clients, as he scored the ‘TV One’ thriller feature film, ‘Stranger Next Door’, directed by Victoria Rowell, starring Tim Reid, Vicky Jeudy and Skyh Black. This premiered at the ‘American Black Film Festival’ in June 2022, whilst also airing on ‘TV One’ in July.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

Thank you for having me! So, I was born and raised in South London and was really grateful for my upbringing. I was surrounded by hardworking people — my grandparents moved from Jamaica with hardly anything and created a great foundation for my family. My Dad also taught me the meaning of hard work and persistence from a young age. He always used to say to me that nothing is given to you in this life and that you had to earn it. This foundation helps craft my thoughts and my drive until this day, knowing where you come from and also knowing that my family are proud of me and my journey in my career so far.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

I’ve always had an appreciation for music growing up. I first learned the piano in church when I was 16, then went on to study music at university, where I became more interested in film composition. I had a lecturer at the time who also happened to be a film composer and I would sit in his lessons, soak in everything that he would say about how music works in film. From studying the compositions of others, I began to have a deep passion for music and understanding its importance in storytelling and conveying emotion.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

There are quite a few people in the industry who have helped me along the way and I genuinely appreciate them a lot, but I would have to say my wife tops that list — she has been the biggest help from the beginning until this very day. The support and encouragement I have from her at 33 years old, has been the same support since we were 16 and that is success to me, having a partner who believes in you in all seasons of your life and career.

You probably have a lot of fascinating experiences. Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

One of the most life-changing experiences for me is when I got baptised, because I didn’t have any interest in pursuing music or even learning an instrument until that day! So, I always believe that what I do and what I create has a greater purpose beyond my musical satisfaction.

It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I think for me, when I first started out, I did a lot of work for free (which I loved at the time), but I think saying yes to everything got a bit too much because everybody loves free work and sometimes people will try to keep you in that place, then there is that awkwardness of what you feel you should charge them for the first time. I look back now and admire my hunger in the beginning stages and will always keep that drive, but after a while, you do learn your worth, regardless of your experience, if you’re good at something, you’ve got to protect your value!

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

During lockdown, I brought out two projects, which consisted of music pieces for relaxation and meditation to help people during that time. I enjoyed creating them and people benefitted from it, so as the year starts to wind down, I’m excited to be making more music to release in early 2023.

You have been blessed with success in a career path that can be challenging. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?

Definitely, I’d say staying committed to your vision and purpose is key. Keeping your dream and vision top of your mind will keep you focused and motivated. Also, utilise the tools and resources you have around you, whether that is the internet, your network, or a mentor — what we already have in our hands can be the tools we need. Also, reframing failure as an opportunity has helped me. I try to not tie it to my self-worth or abilities. I see failure as part of the journey — I ask myself, what does this mean moving forward? Was there a lesson? What insights did I gain? Is this an opportunity to shift gears? Every failure provides an opportunity for growth, and it is part of the journey!

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in the music industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Balance is so important in everything we do. You could be the most talented person in the world, but if you don’t look after yourself mentally and physically, it can take its toll in the long run. As much as I love to create, I love to also do nothing! Rest and sometimes just doing nothing can be more productive at times because burnout is very real in this industry. For me, I switch off by playing computer games, watching and playing sport and watching Netflix — even in these times, I can be resting but also get inspiration at the same time. So, I’d say carve in times to switch off, rest and recover.

Thank you for all that. This is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career in The Music Industry” and why? If you can, please share a story or example for each.

Have a routine — this is key in prioritizing self-care and cultivating healthy habits. The good thing about routines is that you are in control of how you want it to be. Balance is everything, so making sure your routine consists of exercise, healthy breaks, a time for rest, focus/meditation and whatever you feel needs to be part of it. This allows you to not always be consumed by the intensity of work.

Relationships — it’s important to cultivate good relationships in this industry. Sometimes it’s who you know, not just what you know that gets you through the door. Networking is imperative in the film industry and we have so many tools to connect with people all across the world.

Setting a goal — having a goal in mind helps you to know what you’re pushing towards, even if you don’t achieve it by your personal deadline, you’ll at least still be on the right path until it does.

Stay Hungry — “A lion runs fastest when he is hungry” (Salman Khan). You will get to the places you want to be when you stay hungry. It’s definitely important to celebrate and acknowledge short term wins/goals, but your hunger will keep you on track towards the long-term goal.

Enjoy what you do — You only get one shot at life, so how we spend the majority of our time matters. When you love something you do, it doesn’t always feel like work. Money can also be a factor in people’s happiness, so if your work isn’t generating the money you currently desire, there’s no harm or shame in temporarily taking on different work on the side to take the pressure off your creative work being the main income. In this life, it’s good to have different avenues to explore, so it helps us enjoy what we love to do more to the best of our ability.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I believe everybody should be entitled to free healthcare as a basic human right. So, if there was a way to help certain countries get funding in place and a system that isn’t based on profiting from people then I would love to support this.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start in order to become great”. I always have this in mind when starting something for the first time, because we sometimes want to be at the finish line straight away, which can mentally disqualify us or reduce our patience to learn and enjoy the journey. This approach helps me know that greatness is achieved by little steps every day or every week depending on what works best for you and the schedule you have, but if you truly want to do something, today is a good day to start, even in the littlest way!

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

I’d love to sit down and have lunch with Tyler Perry, as I really respect what he has built and how he sees the true value in what black creators are worth. I remember when I heard Taraji P. Henson mention that he was the first person to pay her what she was actually worth. I’d love to know his story on a deeper level in regard to how he started. Also, I mean, we have the same surname, so I feel we have to connect on that basis too! Maybe we might work together one day!

How can our readers continue to follow your work online?

They can connect with me and my music via https://linktr.ee/jperrycomposer

This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!

James Perry: 5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career in The Music Industry was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.