When lawyer Nigel Jenkins had a panic attack, he decided to leave his law career behind and turn to something he truly loves: music. (Tom Cochrane/Submitted by Nigel Jenkins)
Nigel Jenkins of Laughing Heart Music gives some of the credit for his early success to the mother of a hip-hop star.
In 2015, Jenkins says, he put out a press release about the launch of his company with a picture of him in his “lawyer suit.”
When the photo landed in the arts section of the Halifax Chronicle Herald, it caught the attention of a woman in Enfield, N.S., who showed it to her son — the rapper Classified.
“Classified’s mom brought him the paper and said, ‘You should reach out to this nice young man who’s doing things in music.'”
It started with a panic attack
Jenkins pivoted away from a fledgling law career after a panic attack in 2014.
“I woke up one morning thinking I was having a heart attack,” he said.
When the doctor confirmed his heart was healthy but that he was experiencing anxiety, Jenkins decided to quit his job and turn toward something he loved.
“I’ve played in bands all my life, I always had an interest in music, and I had managed some of my own early groups and bands of friends.”
When Halifax folk musician Ben Caplan was looking for a tour manager in early 2015, Jenkins was unemployed. He jumped into the role.
Jenkins, founder of Laughing Heart Music, has worked with artists including Classified, Anthony OKS, Ben Caplan, Hillsburn and Rube & Rake. (Dru Kennedy/Submitted by Nigel Jenkins)
When Jenkins started Laughing Heart Music in 2015, his first clients were Caplan and the band Hillsburn. Since then, his artist management business has grown to include his own LHM record label and music publishing services.
Jenkins has worked with a variety of new and established artists, including Classified, Heather Rankin of the Rankin Family, St. John’s-based Rube & Rake, Winnipeg hip-hop artist Anthony OKS, and Halifax musician/producer Keeper E.
In his six years running LHM, Jenkins says, he has gained a wealth of understanding about the business of making music.
“It’s been a lot of discovery to figure out where the money actually comes from, because it’s not from selling music,” he said.
In an age of digital media, live performance is proving to be the best source of revenue for musicians.
From his perspective as manager, the business starts with team building.
“If an artist comes on with the record label, we’re putting the team around them, so the publicist, a radio tracker, distribution. And if the artist is going to be touring in a bunch of markets … we’ll do the same in other countries,” said Jenkins.
“An important part of the early artist management work was going on the road with the artists I worked with … …….