Jay Atkins Keeps His Ears Open for Musical Talent

By Brewer Baker on January 31, 2006

Jay Atkins with St. JamesAfter going to bed at 2 a.m., his alarm clock blares only a few hours later at precisely 5 o'clock in the morning. Following coffee and a few splashes of water on his face, Jay Atkins embarks on another day in the life of an independent record producer/manager.

"BiggJay," as he is known in the industry, is the founder and president of Concrete Recordings, Inc., a successful independent record label. Atkins has had a passion for music for most of his life, having worked in the industry for more than 13 years.

"I got into the music business in the mid 80s," Atkins explains. "I had a lot of friends and contacts. I started as an A&R intern for Interscope Records. I promoted new talent and displayed what they could do to the gatekeepers. I always kept my ears on the street."

Now as he ascends to the top with his own label, Atkins works many long, intense hours with artists and other producers and managers.

"In the morning, I jump onto the computer, read and respond to e-mails, and then have my daily conference call with my entertainment attorney, William Blackwell," Atkins says of his daily routine. "After that, I usually sit-in during a rehearsal and give my creative input. Then I may go to a studio session. And after that, I may have a dinner meeting to discuss a possible soundtrack for a movie, or something along those lines."

When he is not in a studio or at a business meeting, BiggJay is out on the streets, visiting the hottest clubs, keeping his eyes and ears peeled for the next new sound. And after the party's over, he hits the sack to get ready for another busy day at his office in Beverly Hills.

Beverly Hills is a far stretch from the neighborhood that BiggJay grew up in. He was raised in a rough area on the west side of Los Angeles, and Atkins has seen and experienced many things that the average Joe probably has not. But he remained focused and concentrated on getting an education, with the intent of pursuing his dreams. He graduated from Palisades High School and went on to earn a bachelor's degree in psychology from Cal State University Northridge.

"I majored in psychology and minored in music," Atkins says. "I never really pursued a career in psychology because music kept calling me back — it's my passion, my dream."

His true passion for music is one reason why Atkins is so fantastic at what he does today…why he puts so much heart and soul into making true, honest, original music. And in order to produce such music, BiggJay must find the right artists to work with.

"First and foremost, I look for originality," he says. "I want to work with artists who are not afraid to put it all out there. They have to believe in themselves and their music in order for me to believe in it."

One of BiggJay's main objectives through Concrete Recordings is to present his artists as human beings and to have them express through music "their joy, their sadness…their stories." All of his artists write their own songs, and his in-house production team (BiggJay Productions) produces most of their music.