Tim Jones has good taste in music.
And, as the head of Winnipeg-based record label/artist management firm, Pipe & Hat, his good taste makes for a bunch of great bands – Mise en Scene, The Noble Thiefs, The Revival, The Bokononists, The Roseville Band, and The Hush Sound, to name but a few.
Like any of those established acts, Pipe & Hat had its own humble beginnings.
In 2005, Jones started a music magazine called Pop Zap. As you’d expect, that gig put him in contact with musicians all the time. He learned the ways of the music industry and eventually, a band that he was working with asked him to manage them.
“Word got around and people started approaching us,” Jones says. “We worked out a distribution deal, but we needed a label.”
And so – to make a long story short – in April 2009, Pipe & Hat was born. Jones says becoming a record head was never on his radar. He was an English major in school, and writing had always been a big part of his life. Similarly, he had been a musician since the age of eleven.
“It wasn’t ever something I planned on doing,” he says, “but then [the shift to artist management] just started to make sense.”
As you’d expect, some artists came to Pipe & Hat and went; others, like The Noble Thiefs (of which Jones is a founding member) stuck around. Since its start, the label has swelled to eleven acts, eight of which they manage. Their staff has grown, too, from co-founding duo, Jones and Kenny Huynh, to a group of eight music-lovers.
Jones attributes that organic growth to the familial atmosphere that the label exudes. Sure the staff at Pipe & Hat are the bands’ managers – working out distribution deals with Fontana North, getting albums into record stores, evening booking shows, if they need to – but they’re therapists, friends, brothers, and parents, too.
“It’s worked out really well that everyone gets excited,” he explains. “If one band has a victory, it’s a victory for everyone.
“We try to share that, we try to have them come out to see each others’ shows.”
It’s evident that the bands are big fans of each other. During Canadian Music Week 2013, Stefanie Blondal Johnson (guitar/vocals) and Jodi Dunlop (drums) from Mise en Scene, were at the front of the crowd, dancing away during The Noble Thiefs’ performance. When Alex Dee, drummer for The Revival tragically passed away in early 2013, The Bokononists drummer, Jed Desilets, stepped in to fill that irreplaceable void.
“[The artists] all become family because everyone’s working for the greater good,” Jones says.
The label most recently added Toronto’s Fast Romantics, and isn’t necessarily looking to sign more acts. But, Jones says they strive to help other bands in any way they can: listening to demos, offering advice, and at least pointing them down a better path.
“There are things more important [than money],” Jones says. “I don’t want to work with an artist if I can’t eventually feel like they’re my friend.”
That wholly supportive attitude has undoubtedly been recognized by his peers in the industry: Jones was nominated for the Western Canadian Music Industry Awards’ 2013 Manager of the Year. Taking it in stride, Jones says the honour was really a reflection of the strength of Pipe & Hat’s roster.
“I think the artists were happier than I was,” he laughs. “It was a big surprise; I didn’t expect to be getting that recognition. I was very flattered.”
Pipe & Hat’s future is surely a bright one. For more on the label and the acts signed to it, visit pipeandhat.com.