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Division Promotions with James Sherry

Industry Experts


My name is James Sherry and I run Division Promotions, which I set up with my friend and business partner Zac Leeks in 2002 to spread the word about music we were excited about. And that is still the motivation twenty years later! 


It’s my company so I can call myself whatever I like. What other people call me I have no control over so it’s up to them! 


There are so many aspects to running a press company and campaign, from finding the band to getting to the core of what they’re about and what their story is. Although obviously the music is the key factor, for press you really need a good hook and angle to help gain interest for the band. “Here’s the new album by…” just isn’t enough; opinions, image, and concepts all come into it, so a lot of time is spent talking to the band and drawing this out of them in the early planning stages. When approached by a band the first thing I consider is ‘can I get press for this band?’ ‘Do I think it’s press worthy?’ It's no fun not being able to get press for a band so those early stages are really important to get to the end stage and what results you might be able to achieve. 


I started out on the other side of the fence as a music journalist. I did my own fanzine in the 80s which led me to landing my first full-time writing job at Metal Hammer in 1988 when I was 18 before I freelanced at Kerrang! for many years. Working as a music journalist you’re speaking to PRs all of the time, so you learn that side of the industry as well, plus the writing skills really come in handy working as a PR when you’re putting together press releases and biographies. The two jobs aren’t that different really. Both involve telling people about music. When we decided to start Division in 2002, I already knew so many labels and bands, and many music journalists so had a good head start. Two of the first bands I took on to work were Gallows and Enter Shikari right at the start of their careers and they both exploded at the same time, so we were off to a really good start. And it just developed from there! I’ve played drums in a lot of bands as well over the years as well, so I meet a lot of other bands through that as well. 


Don’t do it unless you are 100% committed and passionate about music. You’re never going to be rich, the hours are unsociable, and it’s very competitive so you have to be on top of your game. You also have to have a very thick skin, which took me quite a few years to grow as I was very sensitive at the start because you really want to do well for the bands who have entrusted you to promote their art, but sometimes, even with the best will and music in the world, it doesn’t work. It’s the best job in the world when it’s going well and the band are getting loads of press and everyone loves the album, but sometimes, for many varying reasons, it doesn’t, and you can really feel to blame. This is why strong relationships with the journalists are so important. These people are inundated with music, so you have to know who you are dealing with to get to the top of the pile. That’s what people are hiring you for essentially; your expertise and your relationships to enable their music to get heard and into the hands of the right people. There’s so much that can be done on email etc, but the real working relationships and friendships come from hanging out at the bar at gigs and meeting people. Those face-to-face relationships can never be replaced by technology. 

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Words by James Sherry / Division Promotions

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