The MMF Accelerator Programme is the world’s only independent funding and professional development programme for music managers. The SMIA has been a proud partner on the programme since 2019, with the programme offering both financial and educational support including 12-month grants of up to £15,000, alongside expert-led professional development training.


report published last year to celebrate five years of Accelerator’s successes illustrated how the programme has generated at least £9.4m in turnover for artists and talent represented by participants. Collectively, Accelerator alumni have worked on eight UK Top 40 singles (including a Number 1) and 13 UK Top 40 albums.


To date, Accelerator has supported more than 115 individuals from across the UK – including our Scottish representatives – Jim Frew (7 West Music), Kariss Andrew (Karizma Management), Hamish Fingland (Bounse MGMT), Michael Lambert (A Modern Way), Denise Allen (677 Management), Lyle Scougall (Mañana Music Management) and Stephen Archibald (Jumping the Shark MGMT) to name a few.


With the 2024 application deadline approaching on Monday 26th February, we spoke to Jim Frew (7 West Music) about his experiences on the MMF Accelerator programme last year, helping further provide insight on how this opportunity can help other artist managers in their careers.


Could you briefly describe your music journey in artist management and share what inspired you to apply for the MMF Programme?


Jim: ‘I started managing bands around 2012 whilst I was working full time. I had studied music business. As a failed musician, I still had that ‘head on’ for many years when I stopped playing guitar. Over the years I have been developing my career since, making mistakes along the way, which is great because that’s how you learn most of the time, or well I hope I have.


I’m now in a position where I work with great artists; Spyres, Uninvited, Misplaced, Bobbi Arlo and Ava in the Dark. Their drive and enthusiasm is what makes me want to improve myself which is one reason I applied for the Accelerator Programme.


As my career progressed, I knew I had to get myself better and more knowledgeable because this industry moves so fast. I feel it’s important to keep up with industry developments and trends, but if I’m also asking artists to be on top of their game, I need to do the same. The MMF provides all the tools you need. One of the main reasons I applied was to be around a community and have that support group with like-minded people. It’s a very lonely place being a manager sometimes and having that support is crucial.’


What was one key lesson or experience from the programme that has significantly influenced you?


Jim: ‘The key lesson I’ve gained from the programme is the importance of collaboration, sharing experiences and seeking advice from peers. Being surrounded by other managers who share the same passion as myself regardless of genre, and who face similar challenges to me has provided me with a valuable support system.


The ability to take advice from others and approach situations with an open mind is a crucial skill, it allows you to adapt and refine your strategies based on the collective wisdom of your peers. This not only reduces stress but also enhances your problem-solving capabilities and contributes to a more well-rounded and resilient approach to managing artists and their careers.


Being around other managers who refuse to give up because they love what they do, you can feel the passion and energy of everyone. We all just want the best for our artists, however, it’s not always good news we deliver, or you hit a snag somewhere which can result in tweaking your plan or changing things completely. If you only have yourself to bounce ideas off of it can get stressful, less stressful when you have other managers who are maybe experiencing the same or have gone through it and can offer invaluable advice.’


How have the program’s networking opportunities affected your professional relationships and opportunities?


Jim: ‘I was able to expand my network and connect with a diverse group of professionals, which has in itself created new collaborations and opportunities. With the programme you also get to know a variety of industry professionals, and gain more knowledge which in return I think has enabled me to make more informed decisions.


There is the visibility part of networking which is great because you share best practices, getting the latest news on trends and create opportunities whether that be for an artist you work with or for yourself also adding to your list of connections is essential for growth, therefore, the MMF Accelerator Programme has meant that I had to throw myself into the networking world. This is something I wasn’t necessarily achieving before and I must point out that if you live outside of the London bubble this opportunity can be a game changer which it has for me.’


What was a major challenge you faced during the programme and how did overcoming it contribute to your professional growth?


Jim: ‘Facing challenges and overcoming them for growth is essential in any walk of life. It’s character building and I’ve had more than a few in my personal and professional life. In the Accelerator Programme, I had to unravel my ego and open myself to the possibility of acquiring new skills. It creates a new skill set and deepens existing ones which requires you to be less insular in your thinking.


That was hard at the start of the programme but the guidance from the great team at the MMF and connecting with other managers makes you realise that you always need to be open to new ideas, and listen to the advice of your peers even if you don’t work in the same genre of music because it does equip you to problem-solve better than you ever have done before and with much more confidence.’


Based on your experience, what top piece of advice would you give to those considering applying for the MMF Programme?


Jim: ‘Express your eagerness to learn and grow, acknowledge the challenges in the music industry and see the programme as an opportunity to enhance your skills and knowledge. Before applying you can get in your own head a little with self-doubt because when you’re asked to do a 2 year forecast, due to the nature of our business with constant challenges and changes it’s often hard to predict, however, it merely serves as a guide.


From the first moment I did mine it has helped me tremendously to keep an eye on my overall plan and performance whether what I have in my plan has been successful or not and throughout the programme you gain confidence to solve problems through education, knowledge, peer support and networking which undoubtedly is essential thinking to do the best for your band/artist.


We can sometimes look at the competition and think we’re not good enough to cut through it but we are. Sometimes people from Scotland in the industry have an inferiority complex when we don’t need to. We are good enough, and our artists deserve to be successful as do our managers so my advice is to just go for it.


I failed the first time around applying for the programme but with some encouragement from another manager I decided to apply again and thankfully I did because it’s life-changing as an artist manager. Go for it without fear.’


For more information on the MMF Accelerator Programme, click here.