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The New Bosses 2020: Bertie Gibbon, ATC Live

Continuing a series of interviews with the 2020 New Bosses, IQ speaks to Bertie Gibbon, who works in A&R at ATC Live in the UK

By IQ on 29 Oct 2020

Bertie Gibbon, ATC Live

Bertie Gibbon, ATC Live

The New Bosses 2020 – the latest edition of IQ’s annual celebration of the brightest young talent in the live business today, as voted for by their peers – was published in IQ 93 this month, revealing the 12 promising promoters, bookers, agents, and A&R and production experts that make up this year’s list.

To get to know this year’s cream of the crop a little better, IQ conducted interviews with each one of 2020’s New Bosses, discovering their greatest inspirations and pinpointing the reasons for their success. Catch up on the previous New Bosses interview with Metropolis Music promoter Alexandra Ampofo here.

The next New Boss in the spotlight is Bertie Gibbon (29), who works in A&R at ATC Live in the UK. Manchester-born Gibbon got his start in the music business promoting shows at the University of Sheffield, where he first came into contact with agents and managers. After graduation, he moved to London, where he interned at a management company and label before joining ATC Live in 2013 as a scout and general assistant.

The same year, he founded a management company with Rough Trade’s Paul Jones, Gross Management, which became part of Rough Trade Management in 2018. Today, he continues to work in management while bringing artists to agents at ATC Live and managers at ATC Management. He is also developing a start-up label in Camden, London, called Ra-Ra Rok.


What are you working on right now?
We’ve been keeping our weekly A&R meetings going at ATC Live whilst the office has been out of action, so I’ve been listening to and sharing a lot of music with the agents and have had a bit more time to think about developing artists. Alex (Bruford) and I have been having some branding conversations too, having worked on the company website and branded materials up to this point.

Things have also kicked back into gear quite recently with my clients at Rough Trade management: Shame, who have just released their first new music for a couple of years and have a big year (Covid permitting!) lined up for 2021; Black Midi who are in the studio working on their next project; Sorry who are also in the studio following the release of their debut album on Domino back in March, and a new band from Manchester called The Goa Express who’ve just rounded off their debut single campaign with playlist support on 6 music.

What are some of the highlights of your career to date?
Generally being able to influence the musical direction at ATC Live and seeing the company grow from strength to strength has been super rewarding. On the management side, working on Shame’s debut album campaign was a big success for me and getting them out playing the shows they did. They really broke through the live side of their business and it was amazing to see that come together so well and see how many tickets they’ve been able to sell globally. Black Midi’s Mercury Prize nomination was nice to see, too!

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt working in live music?
That there is such a thing as playing too many shows! From my experience working with young bands there’s always a desire to do as much as possible and it can be difficult to say no to things when you’re on a hot streak but it’s super important that artists and band members have time to recuperate too (even if they don’t think so ahead of time!).

“There is such a thing as playing too many shows…it’s important that artists and band members have time to recuperate too”

What impact has Covid-19 had on your job?
There have been a few bits some colleagues and clients alike have experienced related to mental health which have presented some new challenges. Not being able to develop ideas in the office or dressing room on the road together has been tough at times, keeping people motivated and feeling part of the team has been something we’ve had to keep on top of week to week.

Do you have a mentor in the industry?
Alex Bruford at ATC Live, who hired me about eight years ago, has taught me almost everything I know about the live business (I originally applied to be his assistant – glad I didn’t end up doing it!).

Also Paul Jones from Rough Trade, who I’ve been working on the management side for about the same amount of time, and Dan Market at Sony, who gave me a leg-up into the industry in general and has consistently shared his unbound wisdom on A&R for over a decade now.

What does the live music industry do well, and what do you think we can do better?
Providing a wealth of opportunities for emerging acts – special mention to promoters in Europe who pay good fees and are willing take chances! I think there is more that could be done in the sector to promote diversity on both sides of the business. Obviously, events this year have leant to have some difficult but positive conversations about the way things have been in the past and what we can do in the future but it’s our responsibility to make sure they’re acted on and not forgotten.

“The current situation is really shining a light on how crucial live is to artists and businesses alike on all fronts”

It’s been great to see the support grow for women in the business in the past few years. I know ATC Live and other agencies have just committed to the Keychange gender equality pledge and I’m also lucky to work alongside some great ladies who have been particularly active in pushing that agenda forward but we can’t stop there. More needs to be done to promote black and minority ethnic artists and workers at the grassroots level if we’re going to get close to their representation being proportional in music and culture in general.

What advice would you give to someone who’s new to the business?
Remember you’re not dealing with products, you’re dealing with people! I know this sounds obvious but there are sectors of the music business that still don’t recognise this as they should and there are no doubt casualties as a result.

What are the biggest challenges you’re facing currently?
Figuring out how to compensate for the lost revenue from live in 2020 and now likely 2021, as well as how to develop and break a new act without the opportunity to play shows. The current situation is really shining a light on how crucial live is to artists and businesses alike on all fronts, while it’s nice to be pushed to be creative in coming up with potential solutions to these problems it’s by no means easy. Email me if you have the answer!

Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?
Hopefully working in a greener, more ethically driven music business with my current roster and still part of the team at ATC Live.


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