40 years in the industry and still going strong

40 years in the industry and still going strong

3 min read
By : Chris Panayi

I never expected to celebrate 40 years in the UK music industry, arriving in London, as an 8-year-old-child in September 1958 from Cyprus. Neither my mother, grandmother or I could speak any English and after a year in one room in Chalk Farm, moved to Archway and the luxury of two.

Reflecting now, I can see the life lessons that I learnt then, have stood me in good stead in my career in this wonderful industry. Yes, it is a school of tough knocks, as life often can be, but the believing in the benefits of adversity, the need to adapt to change and the basic decency of most people can be huge assets. They can nourish the ambition that budding artists, and executives, must have to become successful.

Life then was a great challenge and trying to learn English became my first barrier, especially when I was one of a handful of foreigners in my school.

The sixties were an extraordinary time of change – culturally, creatively, and socially. My first gig was in October 1966, when a friend and I went to “The Ram Jam” club in Brixton and saw Geno Washington. Geno and Chris meeting again in 2019 - CaptionI couldn’t believe the experience and the power of live music, and I quickly became a regular fixture, mesmerised by people such as Georgie Fame, Zoot Money, Prince Buster, Paul Butterfield, Steam Packet and many more.

I realised that I found something that would become a major passion in my life. I knew that I couldn’t sing, nor did I have the financial means to learn an instrument, but a great passion developed. Even more so when I was fortunate to catch Jimi Hendrix’s first-ever gig in the UK.

I could not believe the rawness of his music, the way he manhandled his guitar to create an incredible sound and the power of the music that the trio produced was unlike anything else at that time. Music gives us belief and it was at that time I dreamt of being part of the industry, not as a musician but as something I had yet to work out.

In addition to my growing love for music, I was also becoming passionate about business. The mechanics of how businesses worked always fascinated me and I believed that a career in accountancy could offer the conduit to that knowledge.

I decided that I wanted to work in the industry, serving at first as Financial Director and later as MD of a major company until luck smiled at me in 1980.

‘The harder you work the luckier you get’ goes the saying and meeting my wife Anne in 1970 wasn’t just a personal game-changer but a professional one as well. Through one of her closest friends, Doris Dixon, she introduced me to Barrie and Jenny Marshall of Marshall Arts and Concert Sound.

Barrie allowed me to act for both of his companies and out of this, I met the bass player of a then newly signed band “Way of the West”. Through these chance opportunities, I had my dream of starting my company in the genre I loved.

I bought my first office (one floor in a building of four floors) and the business flourished. Primarily we specialised in looking after sound engineers, lighting designers, writers, security companies but meeting Jazz Summers and Tim Parry and their client base, in 2001, meant our business truly took off. By 2006, I managed to own the whole building.

Success comes from working hard but also working smart. Those early gigs fuelled my passion for music that has never left me in all my time in the business and, through the importance of building relationships, has led to my meeting many prospective clients.

Despite huge changes, maybe because of them, the business grew successfully. Predicated on those relationships and particularly professionalism and trust I managed to build with my clients. It’s incredibly difficult to become a successful artist, harder now than ever, but I am immensely proud of the way that the business developed. The services we offered were effective and supported our clients through many changes, however, we provided more than business support. We were able to provide emotional support, professionalism and trust, which we knew artists needed and valued more.

I like to think it’s this focus on the client’s needs, which helped develop the business. We now have an incredible roster of artists, both established and up-coming. As well as a healthy mix of British and international artists. This has been strengthened further following the merger Hentons back in 2018.

We are delighted to be able to work with incredible artists looking after their worldwide touring requirements, personal and business financial needs as well as completing their statutory obligations.

Our business, as everyone’s in the last few years has changed massively. However, there is one constant; and that is that we, all service providers, are beholden onto the creativity of those that write and record the wonderful music that makes for this industry. We have nothing without them.

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Chris P

Chris Panayi

Senior Partner - Hentons

 

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