Lawyer gives up career for music industry, thanks to panic attack – and rapper’s mom Classified

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When lawyer Nigel Jenkins had a panic attack, he decided to give up his legal career and turn to something he really loves: music. (Tom Cochrane / Submitted by Nigel Jenkins)

Nigel Jenkins of Laughing Heart Music gives part of the credit for his early successes to the mother of a hip-hop star.

In 2015, Jenkins says, he issued a press release about launching his business with a photo of himself in his “lawyer costume.”

When the photo landed in the art section of the Halifax Chronicle Herald, it caught the attention of a woman from Enfield, NS, who showed it to her son, rapper Classified.

“Classified’s mother brought him the newspaper and said, ‘You should reach out to this sweet young man who does stuff in music.'”

It started with a panic attack

Jenkins walked away from a fledgling legal 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 suffering from anxiety, Jenkins decided to quit his job and turn to something he loved.

“I’ve been in bands all my life, always had an interest in music, and had led some of my early bands and groups of friends.”

When Halifax folk musician Ben Caplan was looking for a tour director in early 2015, Jenkins was out of work. He jumped into the role.

Jenkins, founder of Laughing Heart Music, has worked with artists such as 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 Hillsburn band. Since then his artist management business has grown to include his own record label LHM and music publishing services.

Jenkins has worked with a variety of new and established artists including Classified, Heather Rankin of the Rankin family, Rube & Rake of St. John’s, Winnipeg hip-hop artist Anthony OKS, and Halifax musician / producer Keeper. E.

During his six years at the helm of LHM, Jenkins says, he gained a deep understanding of the music business.

“It’s been a lot of discoveries to determine where the money comes from, because it doesn’t come from selling music,” he said.

In the age of digital media, performing arts is proving to be the best source of income for musicians.

From his point of view as a manager, the company begins with building teams.

“If an artist comes in with the record company, we put the team around them, so the publicist, a radio tracker, the cast. And if the artist is going to tour in a bunch of markets… we’ll do the same. in other countries, ”Jenkins said.

“A significant part of the management work of the early artists was on the road with the artists I worked with… truly living the experience of an emerging first act, like sleeping on those floors and charging in those little rooms where you play for the sound guy and maybe someone else drinking at the bar, ”he added.

Learn the hard way

Jenkins remembers a low point at the start of his career. He had purchased a 12-passenger van with the intention of renting it to touring groups. He used the van as a base for a summer of work-related travel.

When a forgotten reservation led to an extra day of driving for one of his groups, he felt overwhelmed.

“I live in the back of my van, fresh out of a failed relationship, where we shared a dog… and I was part of a group and they are not happy with me, so I cry with the rain falling on my van at this Quebec campsite, ”he said with a laugh.

“I submitted to that. I didn’t have to live in my van that summer, and it made things harder than they needed to be.”

Building relationships

Early in his career, Jenkins said, he learned the importance of building long-term relationships rather than trying to “leverage” people for what they could do for him, and regarding clients, Jenkins does not take his relationships lightly. .

“I’m really reluctant to join with people, because it’s… so intimate and engaged,” Jenkins said.

Laughing Heart Music was nominated in 2021 for Music NL’s Industry Professional of the Year and Outstanding Business of the Year, and Artistic Director of the Year at the 2019 East Coast Music Awards. . (Tatum Durybal / Submitted by Nigel Jenkins)

He prefers to use the label branch of his company as a means of bringing in artists around the same project. Then, based on that experience, he and the artist have a better idea of ​​their compatibility.

“Imagine all of your artistic and creative energy in one thing that you then hand over to another person to accompany you and help you work,” he said.

No longer that inhabitant of festival vans, Jenkins is now a husband and father of a one-year-old, “he helps work to improve the community, selfishly for my own family.”

He runs his business out of Steady Brook on the west coast of Newfoundland, sits on the boards of Music NL and the East Coast Music Awards, and was recently elected to city council.

“I’m at a point where I feel like I have something to contribute,” he said.

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