For starters, ‘mogul’ might feel a bit grand to Jay, himself a musician with a passion for music originating from his Manchester hometown; moreso when you consider that earlier this year, he saw his twentieth year as a senior buyer for Topps Tiles - hardly rock and roll!
“I started my professional career in retail, working in an independent menswear’s shop where I was taught the foundations of my business acumen by the then owners, now lifelong friends Lynn and Geoff Norton,” Jay says. “Then I honed my business skills starting in Topps Tiles in 1996, working my way through the ranks to settle as a senior retail buyer, responsible for 40% of the business looking after their range of accessories.”
But in 2009, Jay was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis, an auto-immune condition which causes inflammation of the spine. Treatment meant he could go back to work, but his condition made it hard for him to go to work as often as he felt he should, and as a result he left Topps Tiles earlier this year.
Roles in industry which were compatible with his health challenges were hard to find. Disillusioned with the corporate world, Jay decided to follow his passion - music.
“Being a musician for over 20 years, I know how hard it is to ‘break through’. I decided to set up a small record label with the intention of using the business skills I had developed over the years, along with my passion and sheer determination to succeed, to find undiscovered music and get it heard on a large scale,” he says.
He describes the label he has built as “a passionate, forward thinking business with a dynamic approach to discovering and nurturing talent.” The Kidda Records strap line suggests they ‘do things differently’, and Jay says initial feedback suggests they are heading in the right direction.
Naming a business is never an easy thing to do. “Being a Mancunian, ‘Kidda’ is an affectionate term used in Manchester and the North, however when I first met my wife, she initially thought it was an insult not a term of endearment! But it felt right to use it as the name when I set it up.”
“As the MD,” Jay says, “I am responsible for all aspects of the business – discovering talent, marketing bands, managing gigs and music releases, right through to doing the accounts and selling merch at gigs!”
And all of that must be done in spades, with one band on their books and another soon to sign, if Jay is to achieve his own goal of having a song in the top 40. “I would be delighted if one of my bands simply entered the charts, and helped people recognise that you don’t need to be a major label to get good quality music heard.”
“We’ve signed a band called The Society, and we’re on the verge of signing a top-secret second. The Society are an indie pop group from the North West, who are likened to The 1975, Bastille and Coldplay. We heard their track Begging, which we remixed and became their debut single, and I knew they were the perfect band to launch the label and their music career.”