A Redhill woman is making waves in the music world after a chance redundancy pushed her to follow her passion.
Diane Dunkley had been at the top working on managing big projects for London Underground until voluntary redundancy spurred her to rethink her path in life.
She chose to go in a completely different direction, starting up her own music agency, RM2 Music, and is now managing some big name acts, as well as other up-and-coming ones.
Her achievement is all the more impressive given that hers' is very much a male-dominated industry, and female music managers are very much behind the scenes, unlike their male counterparts. RM2 Music, which is owned by Diane, is a music management company, booking agency and record company, all rolled into one.
Now nearing its fourth year in operation, the company sprang from Diane's life-long love affair with music, which had been a hobby for her until a chance conversation she had in 2005 with an ex-backing singer to chart star, Prince.
When she was asked to arrange a London show for the singer, she took her first steps into the music business.
The opportunity coincided with her voluntary redundancy, and she made the leap, working with the company KIKIT, formed by friend Kiran Sharma.
Overnight, Diane had gone from London Underground business development manager to being head of tour management with a company that represented Prince.
From there she founded her own company, RM2 Music.
A call from Carl McIntosh, formerly guitarist for UK rhythm and blues (R&B) group Loose Ends, who were signed to Virgin Records in the 1980s, opened doors to acting as European agent for the likes of Leon Ware, a singer-songwriter who has written for Marvin Gaye, Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson, and the US R&B group, Mint Condition.
The signings allowed Diane to move her business into other areas, as she was now booking her artists all over Europe.
The RM2 Live booking agency was born, and is the most profitable arm of her company.
Reintroducing her clients into today’s music scene has led to Diane managing more up-and- coming acts, and a further business opportunity, RM2 Records, signing acts such as Timotha Lanae, Loved Locked Out and Four Femmes on the Thames, and securing airplay across Europe and beyond.
Diane works as an ambassador to British Black music.
The winner of the 2013 Precious Awards Business of the Year, the mum-of-two manages to juggle her home-grown and international clients with family life.
On the question of how she manages to forge ahead in an uncertain economy and ever-changing music industry, Diane said: “Regret weighs more than fear.”
She said: "Leaving corporate life to start my own business has been one of the best and most empowering decisions I have made.”
She said: “No longer bound to the restrictions of the 9 to 5, I have the flexibility to work around my family. “I do not consider what I do to be work as I am doing what I have always wanted and love.”
She added: “It is amazing that I am now working alongside artists I grew up listening to." Website: www.rm2music.co.uk