The Outsiders is all about Scots who have left the comfort of their homeland to carve out careers in the music industry. Everyone has their own opinion on who they think the next big thing will be, but the reputation of our next interviewee depends on getting it right.
Name: Paul Barton.
Age: A young 31!
Job title: A&R manager, Warner Bros Records.
Hometown: I was born in Edinburgh but moved to Falkirk before I was one. So, really I’m from Falkirk.
When did you leave Scotland? I moved away in November 2000, returning in February 2001. I left again in May 2001 and have been in London ever since.
Is your Scottish identity important to you? If so, in what ways? It is important to me personally but I don’t think it is important to me socially or for work. I’m very proud of Scotland as a country and, having been away for so long, Scots are absolutely some of the friendliest people you will ever meet. I come from a through and through Scottish family and they made sure I learned the heritage and history of Scotland – I can’t thank them enough for making sure I did!
How did you get your current job and what had you done before? When I was living in Falkirk I was in bands, ran a rehearsal studio and booked bands for a local pub. While doing this I did a Music Technology course at Falkirk College then a Music Management and Marketing course at Stow College in Glasgow. The idea of getting a job in London came from my lecturer at Stow, Alan Rankin, who really opened my eyes to how the industry works. I got work experience at Sony Music and assisted the press department for a month doing everything from making tea, delivering packages, cleaning out cupboards and answering the phones. Just as my course was finishing I was asked back to Sony to cover a load of people’s holidays, so for three months (unpaid!) I did whatever they asked me to do. I was put forward for a load of interviews and got a job as a royalty administrator at a small independent music publisher/record label called SPZ. This led to me moving into label management at ZTT Records and then becoming A&R manager at Perfect Songs, the publishing arm of the company. A couple of years later I joined Warner Bros Records as A&R manager.
Who is the most famous person you have met while doing your job? I guess having lunch with Coldplay while they were recording their third album was a good laugh.
What’s the best and worst part of your job? I am a total music lover so every day all day I’m listening to music, getting to work with some of my heroes and being creative. I’m extremely lucky, you can’t call it a proper job. The worst part is that no-one wants to pay for music these days. Everyone thinks they should get it for free and that is killing the entire industry. Many people don’t realise that it isn’t the music companies – major or indie – they are killing. It is the chances of all the young bands and artists out there wanting to make a living out of playing music they are killing.
What music are you excited about right now? Iglu & Hartly, In Case Of Fire, Haunts, Flight Path. The new album from The Subways is absolutely blinding as is the new My Morning Jacket album – two of the best this year.
How would you rate your knowledge of the current Scottish music scene? Have any new Scottish acts caught your eye recently? I’d say 9/10. I have a fantastic scout in Glasgow called Ali Davidson. He is my eyes and ears in Scotland and without him I’d be totally lost. He is on everything really early and has a good idea of what is good and what isn’t. He called me in a state of complete excitement about Make Model having only heard half a song… through a wall! And he was right – I really wished I’d signed that band. I really love Broken Records and Black Alley Screens, Jocasta Sleeps and Paper Planes are also worth keeping an eye on. And I think Y’all Is Fantasy Island make some of the most interesting music I’ve ever heard.