Marketing magazine

Director of voucher-scheme provider Sodexo Pass in the UK and a former global marketing director of BBC Worldwide, is also the founder of Josaka, a record label, webzine and live music promotion business.

Kevin Harrington sowed the seeds of Josaka 10 years ago when he purchased the web domain name and began promoting a band based in Reading. The business is something of an oddity in the cash-draining music industry in that it actually manages to turn a profit.

‘It’s surprising how creative you can be when you have no money, and the fact I can transfer this thinking to the 22nd biggest employer in the world is great,’ says Harrington, who was the marketing director for BBC Worldwide before joining global services giant Sodexo.

The site, which was originally used as a hosting space for a presentation that Harrington was due to give, came to life when he used it to support the band Short People. To attract more traffic, he added live listings and other content about the local music scene.

In 2004, to coincide with the site’s first birthday, Harrington and his business partner Jim Bowes brought out a CD of local artists, and in February 2006 Josaka Music Ltd was formed. He also set up a gig to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the business and now these birthday concerts have become an annual fixture.

The experience of running Josaka has provided Harrington with a fresh perspective on his work. ‘Music is a great leveller. In the business world everything seems to be about hierarchy, but music is an equaliser,’ he says. ‘It also tends to introduce you to people you wouldn’t meet in everyday business.’

According to Harrington, the most important thing to do when setting up any venture is lend your ears to consumers. ‘It all requires a lot of humility and honesty and above all you need to really listen to people,’ he adds.