Our Guest Speakers

Music Business School is fortunate to benefit from a range of superb guest speakers – connections made by Steve Melhuish, our founder, over the course of his career in the music business.

Our guest speakers not only share their considerable expertise and first-hand knowledge of the topics they teach but also provide valuable connections into the music business – a business which is still very much based on trust and personal connections.

Leading executives, from all sections of the industry, spend one or two hours giving MBS students insights into how to achieve success based on their own experience of running some of the UK’s most successful music organisations and companies. Students have the opportunity to ask direct questions and even build their music business contacts by talking with, hearing from, and connecting with these presenters.

We regularly rotate and add to our roster of guest speakers.
Of course, because they are very busy people, not all presenters listed here are able to attend every course.

However, Music Business School ensures that all aspects of specialised knowledge are covered every course and we are always making new connections and inviting new speakers. The overview below should give a good example of the calibre of people you will learn from during your course.

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Henry Semmence – Absolute Marketing & Distribution

Henry founded his label services company in 1998. Absolute creates marketing campaigns for artists and labels; they have worked on album releases for The Editors, Deep Purple and many others. Henry started his career in independent retail, he then moved to Phonogram Records before working with Madness, Wham, Depeche Mode, Erasure and UB 40 on their radio and retail promotions. Successfully releasing an album takes a huge amount of planning. Henry’s presentations give an insight into what is required along with must have information about how to build your network and the music business organisation that you must connect with to be successful.

Keith Harris – Artist Liaison Director, PPL

Keith started in the music business working in the promotions department with several labels for EMI. These included Rocket, where he worked on the Elton John album ‘Blue Moves’. He then joined Motown becoming General Manager working with artists such as Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross, and Stevie Wonder. He left in 1978 to work with Stevie full time becoming his operations manager. In 1982 whilst continuing to work with Stevie he formed his own management company. He is a Senior Fellow of the University of Westminster School of Music, Film and Fashion where he has lectured since 1993. He is a former Chairman of the MMF and he is the Chairman of MusicTank.

Simon Parkes – Founder of the Brixton Academy

In 1982, aged 23, Simon Parkes bought a virtually derelict building in South London called the Brixton Astoria – for £1. Over the next 15 years, he turned it into Britain’s most iconic music venue: Brixton Academy. Simon’s story is incredible: full of fond and wild reminiscences of the famous musicians who played at the venue, including Robert Plant & Jimmy Page, Lou Reed, The Ramones, New Order, the Beastie Boys and The Smiths.

Simon’s story presentation is inspiring and shows how grit, determination – and a little bit of luck – go a long way in the music business.

Jon Webster – former CEO & Chairman, Music Managers Forum

Jon became Chief Executive of MMF in 2007, before stepping back to the role of Chairman and then retiring in 2017. His experience in the music business prior to that is the stuff of legends. Much of his career was spent at Virgin records. He started as a sales assistant in one of their stores, but progressed swiftly to being an executive and finished with Virgin as Managing Director in 1988. In 1983 he was famously instrumental in starting the Now! That’s what I call Music brand. In 1992 he founded the Mercury Music Prize. His contact database is second to none – if he doesn’t have the answer, he knows someone who does and how to get to them!


Chris Panayi – Accountants and Business Advisors
October 1980 was the beginning of the accountancy practice that is now C. C. Panayi & Co LLP and from inception, it has developed a music and entertainment speciality to compliment founder Chris Panayi’s passion and knowledge for music as well as a general practice that includes a broad spectrum of professionals, services and trades of most descriptions. The opportunity to work with all genre of the entertainment arts was one that was swiftly embraced and developed over the years. This has created a speciality covering all aspects of music that includes artists, management companies, recording studios, sound and lighting companies, publishing, record producers and writers, concert and crowd security companies and an extensive list of other music-related businesses.

CCP has developed into a truly global business dealing with UK as well as internationally based clients from America to New Zealand taking care of all international taxation requirements.

CCP has also established a dedicated business management department to take care of the day to day business needs of its clients whether that is for touring or general accounting matters.

In June 2018, CCP was voted by music managers as a Legal & Accountancy 50 top firm.  This was a very prestigious accolade and affirmation that the services that CCP provides meet the standards of the industry. With 5 partners and 30 employees, the practice has grown to a size that enables it to care of all of its clients’ business, statutory financial and taxation planning requirements and maintaining its ethos of providing a dedicated personal and professional service to each of its clients irrespective of what stage of their careers they have reached. In July 2018, CCP and Leeds Headquartered Chartered Accountants, Hentons, decided to merge and the London practice has been rebranded as Hentons Panayi.  The merger has enabled Hentons to become a Top 100 firm of accountants.