Barry Knight, the founder of Odyssey Entertainment, has a profound love and passion for music. These desires were influential in his decision to establish a career in the entertainment business; not as a musician, but in the less sought-after field of Entertainment Music Management.
Odyssey Entertainment was established 13 years ago. What started as a hobby with a group of friends, morphed into a full-fledged career that has proven quite rewarding. Barry’s career evolved from managing musical clients over the years to creating opportunities from ‘busking’, that is, playing for tips, which turned into a lucrative business venture. His client singer-songwriter Alexander Mills opened for Babyface during the final Barbados Jazz festival in 2010. His current single “Just Be Friends” has received continuous airplay on Barbadian radio stations, and has gained both regional and worldwide exposure.
Barry made the decision to quit full-time work in his family’s business to pursue a career in a sector perceived as providing only seasonal benefits. This truly indicates his free-spirited nature yet go-getter attitude. With overseas promotions in Cannes, San Diego, New York, Los Angeles, London and Australia, his company is set to make major strides internationally. Furthermore, he has plans in motion to be in the publishing aspect of entertainment. Barry’s mission is to effectively manage and guide upcoming artists through Odyssey Entertainment, and with a dedication to his business, he is set to create future stars, both behind the scenes and onstage.
When was your company established and what does your job entail?
Odyssey Entertainment was created in 2004. As the Entertainment Manager, I manage and develop artists, producers and songwriters. I create avenues, techniques and programmes for artists (e.g. media training, ear training) that would enhance their craft and careers. I also market musicians by finding unique ways to get their music heard.
Why was the name Odyssey Entertainment chosen?
It was not my first choice. When I went to register my original name at the Corporate Affairs and Intellectual Property Office, it was already taken. So I googled lots of names and the name Odyssey came up. I wanted a fun name with a global feel and one that was not a cliché. I also wanted a name that signified where I wanted to go and what I wanted to achieve.
What motivated you to be in this aspect of the entertainment sector?
I always loved music and the creative process. Barbados has a lot of good talent and many youths who want to enter the entertainment field as singers, but they are ‘still lost’. They lack the proper direction, work ethic and knowledge to fulfil their goals.
I first got into the field of entertainment management when I was asked to manage a group called Infinity – a quartet group. I then decided to form my own group called Acoustic Soul. It included one of the members of Infinity, and one of our first major gigs was at the Miss Barbados Universe Pageant which was produced by the late Andy Niles at the time. After that group, a young guitarist approached me to manage a band. It was different for me … coming from a group with harmonies and a backing track to a band with musicians. But it was a bigger stepping stone for me at the time.
List the challenges faced while working in this field.
In the beginning with my 1st band, I had a lot on my plate – dealing with different personalities, scheduling and securing gigs. I was trying to find a balance to get things done, but I loved it and that was what kept me going. Also, it was difficult in the beginning to find a mentor. I was later introduced to Peter Headley who is a Music Business Consultant, by Miles Robertson in 2008 (the Musical Director (MD) of Adele, Alicia Keys, Zayn and rapper Fabulous to name a few). He is now my business partner and co-manager to Alexander Mills. With his guidance, he set the path for me to understand what I wanted to do. I love what I do, so it doesn’t feel like work. I don’t see anything as a failure. Instead, I see them as learning points and I learn from mistakes.
Do you think that businesses in the entertainment sector are supported enough by government entities?
There’s ‘red tape’ from government … a lot of ‘back and forth’. When I started in 2004 I was hearing about the Cultural Industries Development Act; it is still in its implementation stages! However, I don’t wait for financial assistance. When I was preparing to take my clients to The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) Conference we set out to raise additional funds by performing for tips at local malls. Eventually we reached our goal and the trip was a successful one.
Since travelling overseas is part of the business, is it as glamorous as it appears?
It is still work. You get to network, but you still have to watch how you speak because of your different accent. Travelling also gives artists a chance to grow.
What advice would you give to those who want to work in the entertainment sector as an artist or manager?
Additional/ Fun Facts
– Although he loves music, Barry admits that he is not the best singer.
– He likes to travel and if the need arises, lists Los Angeles as the place he would relocate to.
– He likes to party and was a loyal Kadooment band member of Baje International. He also was a regular at Trinidad Carnival.