He has earned the nickname ‘Mr London‘ for his hard graft in the hospitality and entertainment industry over the decades. At My Soho Times, we call him The Talentbanqer… Ray Jones is on a mission to bring great live music to unexpected venues across London!
Ray Jones walks into L’Escargot restaurant bang on time. Of course, I made sure to be there earlier as if there’s anything I know about Ray, he’s punctual – and if he gives you his time, he must like you. I sit wondering how he does it – radiate such warmth and humour, as he jokes with the waiter.
For years Ray has been my mentor and friend, an advisor and listening ear, so it was only a matter of time I’d one day turn the tables to find out how a London boy of humble Irish heritage honed his craft in the West End hospitality industry and earned himself the nickname Mr London. Other work hats he’s worn include business developer (he’s closely linked with Time Out) and CEO of TalentBanq, a live music agency that represents some of the best independent and emerging musicians out there. Ray Jones has an eye for spotting talent, which to me makes him the Talentbanqer.
Ray’s life story will one day become a memoir worth reading. He is one of the lucky people who turns his passions into opportunities. His beginnings in the hospitality industry made him one of the youngest head concierges of his generation at the age of 21. In 1988 he took on an empty office in Piccadilly Circus with no money and no business plan but a passion for theatre and 9 years later he sold his successful business packaging hotel accommodation and experiences. Dubbed “Mr London”, Ray continued to build up an empire selling London attractions, tickets, restaurants, travel, you name it – “If it happened in London, we were involved in it!” he exclaims.
It was no surprise then to anyone that Time Out London headhunted Ray to help build the business – and Ray developed his love for live events.
“I loved TimeOut because our readers wanted us to be adventurous.” he confides. With his finger firmly on the pulse of London and a penchant for cultural innovation, Ray’s latest entrepreneurial path has led to another project that he hopes will excite London audiences.
THE TALENT BANQER
Ray’s latest venture – Talentbanq – combines his passion for music and live events with an unparalleled knowledge of the London scene. It is an agency for new, raw and unsigned musicians and bands. “We didn’t follow any established business model. It’s a completely novel scheme for discovering, nurturing and promoting unsigned talent and making them available to play wherever needed.”
“We collaborate, not compete” explains Ray. “We don’t want to be stepping on toes of other promoters of new music talent and that’s why Talenbanq has opened two new intimate venues where people can experience live music in a unique way.”
For 2020 Talentbanq is planning to bring to the stage some of the biggest names of the next decade in music – being fashioned in the Talentbanq laboratory as we speak.
And on Ray’s 2020 vision for Soho? “The first thing is that L’escargot won’t have changed. It will still be this beautiful, comfortable, bohemian hangout. And I hope that that applies for the rest of Soho too.”
For live music events visit www.talentbanq.com
Interview location: L’escargot, 48 Greek St, Soho, W1D 4EF
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