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Alex Bruford: Transforming the industry landscape

Having toured globally with indie-electro headliners Infadels, Alex Bruford has first-hand knowledge of what it’s like to be a working musician and has used that experience to establish and develop ATC Live as an agency that puts its clients front and centre. Gordon Masson speaks to Bruford as he celebrates 20 years in music…

When ATC Live launched in 2011, its founder and managing director Alex Bruford set out to create an agency that would be markedly different from existing companies. And 12 years later, that goal continues to be central to the London-headquartered operation.

“Our number-one priority is delivering for our artists. That’s why this company started, and it will continue to be the case,” states Bruford. “We’re not interested in volume. We’re focused on ensuring we can provide our artists with everything they need to build the career they desire. We’ve proven that we can take artists from small clubs, like [London’s] The Shacklewell [Arms] or the Hoxton [Square] Bar & Kitchen and turn them into festival headliners.”

While the agency started out with one employee and just five client acts, today there are 35 staff across offices in London, Glasgow, and Paris, representing close to 500 acts. Bruford’s personal roster includes Amyl and The Sniffers, Baxter Dury, Black Pumas, Fontaines D.C., Metronomy, Nick Cave, PJ Harvey, Julia Jacklin, Sleaford Mods, and The Lumineers, among others.

“The goal is to continue to grow ATC Live but at the same time to make sure we have the infrastructure, capability and services we need to deliver for our artists,” adds Alex.

“When we created ATC Live, we wanted to do something different, and I think we’ve achieved that. Historically, a lot of the agency landscape was dominated by a small number of men who wanted to retain control over the industry, whereas I’m much more in favour of supporting the next generation to come through and be successful, as well as introducing more diversity into the music industry – diversity of thought, diversity of background, diversity of people – and just trying to make it a more representative place.”

“When you’re growing up going to big arenas and on American tours, it obviously has an influence on your path in life”

His journey to this point has been a storied one, but with his father, Bill Bruford, acknowledged as one of the world’s greatest drummers and percussionists, a career in the music business always seemed a likely path for Alex.

Early Years
Born in London, Alex grew up near Guildford in Surrey and from the cradle was surrounded by music, often being taken on the road to see his father performing with the likes of King Crimson and Yes.

“When you’re growing up going to big arenas and on American tours, it obviously has an influence on your path in life,” notes Alex. “At school, I was definitely into music – I did my piano theory and learned the drums. And in my early teen years I started getting into bands and playing outside of school.

“My parents very much tried to persuade me not to follow in Dad’s footsteps, but I specifically remember a day when I said to my dad, ‘I think I know what I want to do: Iwant to be a drummer,’ and him turning around and saying, ‘Well, you better start practising because you’re not very good.’”

Unperturbed, Alex threw himself into his music. “My first gig was in 1996 at the Rock Garden in Covent Garden,” he recalls. “But it took about seven years from then to get it right and for it to become something that I did professionally.”

“A lot of the festivals and promoters that I met through the band, I still work with today”

In 2003, Bruford found himself behind the skins for newly formed quintet Infadels. “Our first gig was at the Betsey Trotwood [pub] in London, and while we only got paid £40, it felt good – we knew we were onto something. We got signed to Wall of Sound and then PIAS and Sony fairly soon after that. We were championed by Eddy Temple-Morris who hosted XFM’s The Remix Show. Eddy was really the man – he put us on his club nights and played us on the radio all the time.

“It was an exciting time. […] We were going out on tour as support for bands like Prodigy, Faithless, Chemical Brothers, all those kinds of acts, which was great: we learned the ropes through them before eventually doing our own headline tours.”

As a group of lads in their mid-20s, Infadels made the most of their moment in the sun and enjoyed close to a decade of making music together. “We went everywhere,” says Bruford. “We toured around Europe multiple times, as well as America, China, Australia, Russia, South America. In total, we played about 500 gigs around the world.”

Bruford contends those experiences were a fundamental learning curve for his future career as an agent. “I understand what it’s like to be on the stage as an artist; what it feels like to be driving in the wrong direction on your day off, and things like that. These are the memories that I look back on and use every day to try to make life for my clients as easy and comfortable as possible.”

Being on the road with Infadels also introduced Alex to a wide range of industry personalities – many of whom he still works with in a professional capacity, two decades later. “A lot of the festivals and promoters that I met through the band, I still work with today. I remember Barnaby Harrod in Spain coming to meet us at the Moby Dick in Madrid, where he promoted our show – and I still work with Barnaby now. That goes for a bunch of other people as well.”

“I remember teching for Calvin Harris at V Festival when the backing track went down. The trauma of being partly responsible for that technical failure was absolutely horrendous”

Getting Behind
Recalling how he first became involved backstage, Bruford tells IQ, “The band was quite successful, and we had our own crew. But when things started on a downward spiral, we couldn’t afford the crew anymore, so I took over a lot of the tour managing side, and I’d be settling the shows. That’s how I met the network of promoters that sort of kicked off what I do now.

“Infadels did three albums – all great in their own right. The first record was when it was really hot and going really well. But by the time that we got to the third album, I was thinking, ‘Okay, what are we going to do next because I don’t think I’m going to be doing this in 15 years’ time.’”

Having tour-managed Infadels, Bruford explored that side of the business with a number of acts. However, he was soon looking for another avenue. “I remember teching for Calvin Harris at V Festival when the backing track went down. The trauma of being partly responsible for that technical failure was absolutely horrendous. So, I realised that was not the path for me. But as a result, I have huge respect for the production crew and professionals that put our shows together. Witnessing how they assemble and tear down shows with military precision is incredible.”

Looking back at his time in the band, he confesses, “I loved being on the road, to start off with anyway. The first time around, visiting all the cities and the festivals is incredibly exciting and a wonderful experience. But when you go around again and there’s a few less people at the gig than last time, then it doesn’t feel so great.”

Nonetheless, Infadels enjoyed some stellar highlights. “Playing Glastonbury, Coachella, playing shows in Moscow and then going straight to touring Australia. China was a highlight as well, as was playing great European festivals like Roskilde and Eurockéennes and those kinds of events. We were lucky that we got to do most of them.”

“I was an agent with no experience and no roster, and I worked at a DJ company, so persuading live acts to join my roster was a bit of a tough sell”

And it could have been even better but for the intervention of Belgian festival gremlins.

“We had a memorable show on the main stage at Pukkelpop, where it was the biggest show of our career – 40,000 or 50,000 people there to see us. And all the power went down in our second song. It was the show that was supposed to be the one to break us in Europe, but sadly, no. We managed to get the power back, but it took a long time and the momentum had gone.”

Special Agent
Searching for a long-term career solution, in 2010, Bruford applied for a role at Reprise Agency, which specialised in the electronic and DJ world. “I saw they had an admin position, and I needed a job and thought I could probably do music admin. The company founder, Howard Gray, gave me the job, but he pretty quickly asked if I’d like to work as an agent and try to bring some live acts to the roster.”

The switch was challenging. “I was an agent with no experience and no roster, and I worked at a DJ company, so persuading live acts to join my roster was a bit of a tough sell. But a couple of people took a bet on me: Johnny Pinchard, the founder of music collective Off Modern, was managing a band called Fiction. And Stephen Bass at Moshi Moshi had signed a band called Teeth. And for whatever reason they chose me as their agent, for which I will always be grateful. Years later, Stephen appointed me agent for Metronomy, and we’ve had a great time working with them over the last couple of records.

“But that’s how I started my journey as an agent. I managed to get a few acts on board, and then I signed an artist called Ali Love who was blowing up at the time. We did some good work together, and he was managed by Jean Coffey, who was at ATC management.”

“A number of established agents told me that it was impossible, but that only made me more determined”

Having impressed Coffey with his carefully crafted strategy for Ali Love, Bruford was invited to meet ATC founders Brian Message and Craig Newman, and that conversation planted the seed for an ATC agency division.

Bruford reveals, “It turns out that they had been trying to persuade established agents to join them in some capacity for a while, but no one was crazy enough to do it. However, I just thought, ‘What do I have to lose?’ So, in 2011, it was agreed that I would launch a new agency – ATC Live – in partnership with ATC.”

With an initial headcount of one and a roster of five acts – Ali Love, Fiction, Teeth, The Duke Spirit, and Treetop Flyers – Bruford set about creating and building the kind of agency that he, as a former artist, would like to have been represented by.

“It was interesting,” he notes. “A number of established agents told me that it was impossible, but that only made me more determined. Immediately after the deal was done, I got on a plane to South by Southwest to start telling as many people as I could that there was a new agency called ATC Live.”

One of the first new acts to enlist Bruford and ATC Live as his reps was Baxter Dury. “He was the first artist I signed up where I thought we could have a long-term relationship,” states Alex. “He is a brilliant artist, but he was such a rough diamond at the time and was not close to being fully formed. But we supported each other as we learned our respective trades, and now, 12 or 13 years later, he’s about to play a sold-out Roundhouse – his biggest show to date. It’s been a fantastic journey with him. Those are the kinds of relationships that I love and exactly what I wanted to achieve when we established ATC Live as a home for career artists.”

“I believed there was a space in the business for an agency that was focused on artists rather than volume”

Philosophy
Given a blank sheet to create the type of agency he perceived was missing from the industry landscape, Bruford tells IQ that his years of being a touring musician, coupled with his experience of working on the crew side of things, helped shape a doctrine that exists to this day at ATC Live.

“I believed there was a space in the business for an agency that was focused on artists rather than volume,” he states. “For me, the music and the artists are at the heart of everything that we do. They have to come first.

“An artist can walk onto a stage and deliver that unique, magic moment that you get from a brilliant live performance. The whole live music industry and its infrastructure exists because of artists who are able to create those incredible moments, but I think people sometimes forget that. A major part of our job is making sure that when the artist arrives on stage, they are in the best possible frame of mind to create something special.”

He continues, “I wanted to have an agency that wasn’t high volume, high turnover. I wanted it to be focused on artists that we really believe in and who we’re going to support over their entire careers. I also felt like there was a space for an agency that wanted to create collaborative relationships with promoters and managers and artists: relationships that were much more based on partnerships working together, rather than the traditional old-school agent/promoter power dynamic.”

Delving into detail, he adds, “I wanted to have partnerships with our promoters in a way that we could talk and collectively decide the best way forward for artists to build their careers.”

“Taking on-board local advice is really important for an artist’s career”

And the result? “It’s been good, because historically, agents just told people what to do and when to do it. But actually, taking on-board local advice is really important for an artist’s career.”

Developing Talent
While Alex’s ATC ethos was – and is – to target quality over quantity, in those early days, he was aware that his personal roster needed to grow. “I needed something that was going to really make a mark,” he admits. “At South by Southwest in 2012, Henning Ahrens, who was at Four Artists at the time, tipped me off about The Lumineers. I went to see them playing in a church, and it was an unbelievable show: the song writing, musicianship, everything about the performance – the way they engaged the crowd – it was knock-out.

“I knew that nobody in the UK really knew about The Lumineers, but they would very soon. So as soon as I got home, I jumped back on a plane to Boston to see them at a regional show where they were touring with the Kopecky Family Band. They were kind enough to give me some time backstage to chat, and I shared my vision for them. And soon after they joined the roster, which was a turning point because their album came out in April of that year, and it was just a rocket ship journey.”

Indeed, as The Lumineers’ popularity grew, Bruford had to upgrade venues four times on their debut record cycle. “Within 18 months, in London alone, we played Koko, Shepherd’s Bush, two nights at Brixton Academy, and Alexandra Palace. It was a real calling card for the agency,” he states.

“Since then, the band has gone from strength to strength and are now a stadium band: this summer they played their biggest-ever outdoor shows in Europe, headlining the 20,000-cap St Anne’s Park in Dublin and the 20,000-cap Crystal Palace Park in London.

“For a long time, it was just a case of working all the hours there were to keep up with the growth of our artists”

“It’s been a brilliant journey, but for a long time, it was just a case of working all the hours there were to keep up with the growth of our artists. When they played Alexandra Palace, I came back to the office, slept on the sofa, and got up a few hours later to crack on with the next day’s work because that’s what I had to do at the time.

“But after The Lumineers’ success, it was clear things were happening here. And that’s when other people started to get onboard and join ATC Live.”

Alex’s Army
Having taken his time to establish the agency as a bespoke home for talent, Bruford’s first employee was assistant Josh Adley. “He was really important in helping me to get things going,” says Bruford. “In 2013, we were joined by Colin Keenan and shortly afterwards Will Church, Stuart Kennedy, and Bertie Gibbon came along.

“The fact that Colin, Will, Stu and Bertie are still at ATC Live ten years later is testament to the way we all worked together to establish a new approach. They are cornerstones of what we do here: Colin brought Passenger with him, an established artist; Will had the experience of being at Elastic and Mainstage and had a cool electronic-leaning roster; Stu was assisting Colin and has since become an agent in his own right; and Bertie joined us to help shape the roster from an A&R perspective.

“We’ve since added agents Clemence Renaut, Sinan Ors, Alice Hogg, Marlon Burton, Skully Sullivan Kaplan, Graham Clews and Ed Thompson, and internally promoted Sarah Joy, Roxane Dumoulin and Caitlin Ballard to the role of agent.”

“It’s those people that pick up the phone and give you the support when nothing’s going on that really stick in your mind”

Key to those appointments was Bruford’s growing reputation among industry colleagues who supported the culture he was trying to establish at ATC Live. He tells IQ, “I put the word out that I was looking for the right people and promoters and other people connected the dots and said, ‘You should speak to Colin’ or ‘You should speak to Will.’ That’s the pattern of how things happened with everyone that joined in the early days of the agency.”

Among those early industry supporters, says Bruford, were the likes of agent Natasha Gregory and promoter Steve Tilley. “Natasha was always a big support to me. She helped me a lot when I didn’t know whether someone was trying to rip me off or not. Also, very early on, Steve Tilley came and met me for a cup of tea. It’s those people that pick up the phone and give you the support when nothing’s going on that really stick in your mind.”

Another tenet of the ATC Live philosophy has been to allow agents to work outside of the traditional agency locations. “We have offices in Glasgow and Paris, and we’ve been very keen to facilitate flexible working for people and allow them to live and work wherever they needed, even before Covid made that more common.

“My attitude has always been that as long as people can do the job and we can support what they need, then we can make things work no matter where they are based. For us, having people on the ground in Scotland and mainland Europe has been a bonus because they know about what’s going on in those scenes more than we ever would in London.”

Another expectation at ATC Live is that agents will not simply sign up as many acts as possible in the hope that one or two of them will break. “Having a personal roster with 100 acts doesn’t seem fair on the clients, to be honest,” says Bruford. “I don’t think you can effectively service an artist if you have that many acts on your roster.

“We want to ensure that we have the time to build unique touring plans for every artist”

“We want to ensure that we have the time to build unique touring plans for every artist: whatever is right for them, for their album, for their journey, their music, their career path. Some of our artists want to play 300 shows a year, others want to play one show a year. And others want to tour skate parks. We want to be able to facilitate all those different wishes, and our job is to help artists build something unique around them every time they play live.”

Positive Attitude
Regarded as one of the agency world’s deep thinkers, and described by peers variously as “level-headed,” “sensible,” “intelligent,” and “approachable,” Bruford himself states that when it comes to the bad times, he tries to focus on the positives.

“We all make mistakes, and of course I’ve had moments where negative things have happened, but I’ve always just tried to put that behind me, learn from it, and move on,” he tells IQ.

But he is still deeply affected by the 2019 death of ATC agent Chris Meredith, aged just 37. “Losing Chris was the toughest time that we’ve had here as a business. He was such an incredible agent and beloved friend and colleague. Losing Chris was hard on everyone at the company.”

Rivalry
Attention to detail has served Bruford well, as he can only recall losing one act from his roster over the years. “Unfortunately, it’s part of the job, and it just comes with the territory, but I would like to think that other agents are fairly respectful. But, of course, if there’s an opportunity, they’ll go for it,” he laughs.

“We’ve had a lot of knocks at the door, but we’ve been following our path for all this time, and we will continue to do so”

The ATC Live ethos, devised by Bruford, has also attracted acquisition interest from rival agencies. “We’ve had a lot of knocks at the door,” says Bruford, “but we’ve been following our path for all this time, and we will continue to do so.”

To that end, Bruford brokered a partnership deal with Arrival Artists when the latter launched as an agency in 2020. “Erik Selz, John Bongiorno, Ali Hedrick, Karl Morse, and Ethan Berlin all came out of Paradigm in America during Covid and were setting up an agency. Erik, in particular, wanted to find an international partner, and at the same time, we wanted to have a partner in North America as well.”

Reporting on the success of the tie-up, Bruford says, “It’s three years now, and it’s going really well. Collectively, we’re the only independent agency to be able to offer global booking, which is great for us and the acts we represent. We communicate clearly, and we just provide a very dedicated and experienced service with agents in each market. We’re able to offer a personalised approach to global booking, so it’s been very satisfying to have found the right people to work with and to whom we’re very aligned in terms of the roster.”

Looking to the future, he does not rule out ATC Live satellite offices in other continents, especially as he believes that music coming out of the likes of Africa and Asia will see the emergence of new artists from those regions.

“We’ve got people in the building that represent clients from all around the world, but I think having agents that are more specialised in some of those territories will be certainly something for the future,” he comments.

“I feel very strongly that the artists need to be paid a fair share of the gross of the show, rather than just the small portion that they’re getting at the moment”

Activism
As for personal plans, Bruford tells IQ, “I’m very ambitious to continue improving our industry. I really feel as though there needs to be more transparency. We’ve had an industry that [for] too long has revolved around backhanders and rebates, and I feel very strongly that the artists need to be paid a fair share of the gross of the show, rather than just the small portion that they’re getting at the moment.

“I’d like to see serious dialogue about how we divide the revenues associated with live performance. When you get into ticketing, F&B, merch, and all the different revenue streams, we need to find a way for that to be split more fairly.”

And Alex is confident others in the industry agree. “Generally speaking, people are moving towards a more transparent business,” he says. “We’re seeing that in the States, especially with ticketing, where people want to understand where the money is going. But there are also a lot of people who like things the way they are.”

Cutting the carbon footprint of live performance is also a personal goal for Bruford. “I sit on the board of an American environmental non-profit called Sound Future, which is focused on activating tech solutions and leveraging the influence of live events to accelerate climate action.”

As a result, ATC Live provides green riders that its clients can adopt, depending how far each act wants to pursue such matters. “We want to have the tools to be able to advise them on all the possible options,” notes Bruford.

“We have to be cognisant of the wider ecosystem: we have to remember that grassroots venues are struggling, and without those grassroots venues, the talent pipeline stops”

Back To Basics Going Forward
Having successfully steered ATC Live through the Covid years, Bruford reports that the 25% of its headcount who departed during the pandemic have since returned, and employee numbers now exceed those of 2019.

“Live music is definitely back, and it’s great to see people going to shows and willing to spend money. But I think we have to be really careful about how much we charge for our tickets,” he warns.

“Lots of people are very focused on their own shows and maximising the revenue for those shows. But we have to be cognisant of the wider ecosystem: we have to remember that grassroots venues are struggling, and without those grassroots venues, the talent pipeline stops.

“Ultimately, we need to figure out a way of not just syphoning off all the money at the top but making sure that some of it finds its way into the grassroots end of the spectrum.”

That support is fundamental to the ATC Live chief, who discloses that a lot of his job satisfaction derives from breaking new talent. “Seeing an artist play their first-ever festival headline show is such a thrill,” he says. “Two years ago, Fontaines D.C. stepped on stage to headline Green Man, and the set was blistering, making it clear to everyone involved that this is a band that is going to headline many more festivals.

“Some festivals are taking risks on the next generation of headliners. Artists are getting bigger faster than they ever have”

“That moment of when you’ve taken an artist who was playing 100-capacity rooms, and you help them develop their career – the likes of Julia Jacklin springs to mind, where she recently sold-out 3,000 tickets at the Roundhouse. I started with her with 100 tickets, so it was a super-emotional evening for everyone.”

Getting Nicked
The appreciation works both ways, too. Such is Bruford’s relationship with Nick Cave that at the completion of his 32 headline festival run across Europe last summer, the artist left a signed photo album on Bruford’s desk detailing his performances with a heartfelt personal message to Alex thanking him for all he had done.

Meanwhile, the agent is genuinely excited about younger acts being given the chance to shine. “Some festivals are taking risks on the next generation of headliners,” he observes. “Artists are getting bigger faster than they ever have. Look at the likes of Boygenius who’ve gone stratospheric. So, it’s important that festivals give those artists an opportunity to headline.”

But he acknowledges that other acts – and often career musicians – are having to work hard on creative campaigns with their agents in order to entice fans back through venue doors. “If you’re hot, exciting, and new, then everybody wants to see you. But if you’re in the mid-level, where you’re used to grinding out 1,000 tickets a night, then rising costs and simply retaining the attention of fans is making life a lot more difficult than it used to be.”

Nonetheless, Bruford and his ATC Live team relish such challenges, and he concludes that he cannot imagine working in any other sector.

“It’s been a brilliant 20 years,” he acknowledges. “The interesting thing about this job is it’s all relative – a highlight can be an artist playing to 40,000 people or it can be an artist selling out to 2,000 people if that artist has slugged their guts out for ten years to get there. It’s all relevant to what that artist’s ambitions and expectations and career goals are. And we’re here to deliver on those wishes.”

To see the full feature on Alex Bruford’s 20 years in music, login or click here to subscribe to IQ from just £8 per month. 

 


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IQ 123 out now: Alex Bruford, Louis Tomlinson, The Sphere

IQ 123, the latest issue of the international live music industry’s favourite magazine, is available to read online now.

The November 2023 edition sees Gordon Masson talk to Alex Bruford about his first 20 years in music and the philosophies behind his ATC Live agency and, elsewhere, the IQ editor goes behind the scenes of Louis Tomlinson’s Faith in the Future world tour.

In addition, the issue offers a deep dive into the growing live music cruise business, as well as a health check on the Danish market. Plus, the IQ team reflects on the recent International Festival Forum (IFF) and looks ahead to the ‘out-of-this-world’ 36th edition of ILMC.

For this edition’s comment and columns, IQ passes the mick to Nick Morgan for some key takeaways from a decade of producing and organising festivals, while Rachel Flaszczak explains how MVT’s Own Our Venues helped save her grassroots music venue for future generations.

As always, the majority of the magazine’s content will appear online in some form in the next four weeks.

However, if you can’t wait for your fix of essential live music industry features, opinion and analysis, click here to subscribe to IQ from just £8 a month – or check out what you’re missing out on with the limited preview below:

 


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IFF 2023: Festival heads grapple with fresh issues

Major agents and festival promoters at this week’s International Festival Forum (IFF) in London agreed that 2023 has given them much cause for optimism but have warned there are issues to overcome.

Last-minute artist cancellations, rising ticket and production costs, decreasing numbers of Generation Z attendees, and severe weather conditions remain huge hurdles to clear, as the industry looks ahead to 2024 and beyond.

The conversation went underway at IFF (International Festival Forum) during the event’s opening panel ‘The Festival Season’, which featured Alex Bruford (ATC Live, UK), Pavla Slivova (Colours of Ostrava, Czech Republic), and Stephan Thanscheidt (FKP Scorpio, Germany), with Yourope’s Christof Huber (Switzerland) moderating the discussion.

“Though 2022 brought about a lot of excitement with everything coming back to a semblance of normality, I’d say that there’s been a gap where we’ve seen a generation not accustomed to attending festivals due to the pandemic,” Slivova said, who has seen two out of the four headliners for this year’s Colours of Ostrava cancel their performances at the last minute. “In my opinion, there needs to be a change in marketing. What worked in 2019 or 2022 isn’t working this year, so we need to refocus our attention on what Gen Z finds attractive these days.”

While Bruford cited the consistent turnouts at the Reading & Leeds Festivals as examples of younger audiences still flocking towards such extravaganzas, he agreed with Slivova when it comes to thinking about what would appeal more to that particular demographic. “There were a number of festivals that struggled with attracting the Gen Z crowd, who aren’t gravitating towards more hedonistic activities than previous generations,” he said. “We need to have a collective think about what an actual festival means to them, and what’s appealing and appropriate to today’s young people.”

“What worked in 2019 or 2022 isn’t working this year, so we need to refocus our attention on what Gen Z finds attractive”

One big issue this year was the inevitable increase in production costs, causing a knock-on effect through the rise of ticket prices. Despite overseeing a successful year, Thanscheidt pointed out that festivals aren’t finding it easy these days to make any profit. “Costs are a major problem at the moment,” he explained. “There’s a limit that a lot of fans would pay to attend festivals nowadays, so we’ve had to advertise better camping and VIP experiences to entice more people into coming,” also adding that sponsorship backing isn’t the same as it was before the pandemic. “Keeping ticket prices under control while maintaining profit margins at the same time is proving extremely difficult right now.”

Despite the panel’s unanimous agreement that festivals need a more accessible approach when pricing tickets, Mojo Concerts’ Eric van Eerdenberg (Netherlands) — who was among today’s panel attendees — pointed out a potential issue that could arise from such measures. “I think that when you have a low ticket price, there will always be secondary markets pushing prices up again and making a profit,” he said. “It’s very difficult to get a grip on it.”

A major topic of discussion today was how severe weather has negatively impacted festivals across Europe, with Wacken Open Air suffering major losses after being forced to send nearly 20,000 fans home due to inhospitable surroundings. “The whole ground looked like Mordor from the Lord of the Rings movies,” said Wacken’s head booker Jan Quiel. “It was heartbreaking having to send so many people home. That was even worse than having to cancel due to COVID. We also incurred a heavy financial loss due to the additional costs we paid to have an extra campground to host more shows.”

While the panel agreed that more measures were needed to ensure safety in preparation for extreme weather conditions, Slivova added that festivals in the Czech Republic aren’t covered for such situations. “We have liability insurance for things like steady rain, for example, so it can cover some costs. But by and large, we aren’t insured for bad weather, unfortunately.”

Such concerns will always be in the back of agents and festival bookers’ minds, but 2023 has already proven to be a mostly successful post-COVID year in a lot of aspects. “Compared to last year, 2023 has seen more experienced crew and staff, logistics are a lot easier now than they were last year, and global headliners are combining their tours with festival performances,” Bruford said, with Thanscheidt adding that he’s relieved that people are having fun again after a hellacious 2022. “Nobody had fun last year, so seeing that people are having fun organising such immense projects has been great.”

 


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ATC Group revenue up 33% to £12.1m

UK-based music company ATC has beaten its own expectations to record a profit on revenue of £12.1 million (€13.9m) in its first full year as a a public company.

The London-headquartered group, which opened a New York office in February 2022, has posted its financial results for its first full year of trading since listing on the Aquis Growth Market in London in December 2021 after raising £4.15 million in its initial public offer (IPO).

Its divisions include booking agency ATC Live – which it says is now the sixth largest touring agency worldwide – ATC Management, ATC Services and livestreaming company Driift. In addition, it launched ATC Experience in 2022 to “create and distribute artist-led digital and in-person experiences for global audiences”.

Revenue was up 33% for the year ending 31 December 2022, contributing to an “ahead of expectations” pre-tax profit of £0.01m, compared to a loss of £2.69m in the pandemic-hit 2021. Artist representation contributed £6.57m of total revenue, up from £3.7m in the previous 12 months, while services accounted for £2.87m (2021: £778,502).

When taking into account streaming service Deezer’s acquisition of a minority stake in Driift, the group achieved an overall post tax profit of £2.44m for 2022. ATC, which previously owned 52% of Driift, retains a 32.5% interest.

“We are delighted with the progress we have made in our first year as a PLC, delivering 33% top line growth and profitability earlier than expected”

“We are delighted with the progress we have made in our first year as a PLC, delivering 33% top line growth and profitability earlier than expected, whilst also investing in a number of important strategic developments for the group,” says ATC Group plc CEO Adam Driscoll.

“Our performance has been driven by strong growth across our core artist representation businesses, supported by improved trading conditions as live touring resumed, together with progress within the group’s complementary services and livestreaming divisions. During the year we expanded the group’s geographic footprint, attracted new agents, managers, artist clients and key operational management into the group, and launched new innovative artist service lines.

“The new year has started with continued positive momentum and a pipeline of exciting projects and opportunities. As the music industry continues to undergo rapid change, we believe there is substantial opportunity to co-create, co-produce and deliver new IP via events and experiences, underpinned by our multi-service approach across artists’ commercial interests. We look ahead with confidence in the group’s growth prospects.”

ATC Live, led by Arthur Award-winning agent Alex Bruford, boasts a roster of more than 350 artists including Fontaines D.C, Georgia, Alma, Goat Girl, Mac Demarco, Metronomy and Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, and says it is on course to deliver 6,000 shows in 2023.

“The live music scene in 2022 has seen strong growth in live music activities and this has created a huge demand for ATC Live’s roster”

“The ATC Live business continues to perform in line with management expectations following a highly successful 2022 and we now represent over 500 clients,” adds Driscoll in the report. “New agents continue to join the business, the most recent being Ed Thompson whose clients include Jungle, a festival headlining act.

“Our relationship with North American agency Arrival Artists continues to deepen and prosper and we are excited about the opportunities to explore new markets together in the coming months and years.”

Driscoll continues: “The live music scene in 2022 has seen strong growth in live music activities and this has created a huge demand for ATC Live’s roster as evidenced by the 400% growth in revenue from £0.56 million in 2021 to £2.22 million in 2022. In a similar vein, ATC Management also achieved double digit revenue growth of 33% from £2.89 million in 2021 to £3.85 million.

“The group expanded its live and management businesses during the year and expects to reap the long-term benefits from these investments.”

“Driift is now poised to play a key role in the renewed growth of the livestreaming sector, which is forecast to become a multi-billion dollar segment over the next three to five years”

Driift, which was co-founded by Ric Salmon and Brian Message at ATC Management, has produced dozens of online shows for artists including The Smile, Westlife, Laura Marling, Nick Cave, Niall Horan, Andrea Bocelli, Kylie Minogue, Fontaines DC and Dita Von Teese, and produced the BAFTA Award-winning Glastonbury Festival: Live at Worthy Farm in cooperation with BBC Studios. It acquired technology and sales platform Dreamstage last year amid a fresh £4m investment from Deezer.

“Driift has had a positive start to 2023 as artists and managers look beyond traditional touring and ticketing and seek promotional and revenue-generating opportunities within the livestream market,” adds Driscoll. “Having weathered tougher trading conditions in 2022, and with strong end-to-end delivery capabilities and a solid balance sheet, Driift is now poised to play a key role in the renewed growth of the livestreaming sector, which is forecast to become a multi-billion dollar segment over the next three to five years.

“Having recently signed a number of deals for upcoming events alongside partnerships with the likes of IMAX, the prospects for the business are looking very good for the coming year.”

A statement from ATC co-chairs Brian Message and Craig Newman says that ATC “continues to cement its position as a leading independent music company at the forefront of a rapidly changing industry”.

“We continue to assess any implications from wider macroeconomic headwinds, including potential pressure on consumer budgets or rising production costs,” they conclude. “However, music and ticketing have often outperformed the wider market in difficult economic times and the livestream sector should improve for Driift as larger players cut expenditure on productions, opening opportunities from talent looking to expand revenue streams. We remain positive about our prospects.”

 


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‘India’s music landscape has seen meteoric growth’

India is fast becoming a global entertainment hub, according to some of the world’s leading executives.

Just as the pandemic hit, the country was on a promising upswing in its patchy live music history, having welcomed U2 to Mumbai’s DY Patil Stadium in January 2020. The show was the latest in an intermittent stream of superstar visits to Indian soil – The Stones, Sheeran, and Beyoncé have all been down, though Bieber cancelled in October – and was a collaboration between Live Nation and local ticketing giant BookMyShow, which is increasingly positioning itself as India’s foremost international promoter.

In January, the two promoters teamed up on the first Indian Lollapalooza at Mumbai’s Mahalaxmi Racecourse, featuring Imagine Dragons, The Strokes, and Diplo alongside Indian-born rapper AP Dhillon, Delhi-based singer-songwriter Prateek Kuhad and others. The event drew 60,000 fans over two days, with 40 artists performing across four stages on a 50-acre site.

James Craven, Live Nation president, Middle East, says Lollapalooza coming to Mumbai is a great example of the market’s growing importance.

“It’s really exciting to see global markets open up to music and artists from the Indian sub-continent, as well as seeing how the Indian market continues to open up for international acts,” says Craven in the IQ’s Global Promoters Report. “Expanding global touring routes for artists is key to their growth and that of the industry, and India will play a key role in that going forwards.”

“Expanding global touring routes for artists is key to their growth and that of the industry, and India will play a key role in that”

Kunal Khambhati, head of live events & IP at BookMyShow, says the entertainment and ticketing platform has worked hard to break down barriers to live shows, which included a 28% goods and services tax that now stands at 18%.

“India’s music landscape has witnessed meteoric growth in the past few years,” says Khambhati. “Slowly but steadily, the country has set the stage to become a keystone for some of the biggest music performances and markets in the world – from hosting acclaimed international and Indian independent artists at large concerts to smaller formats that are gradually shaping the music landscape in the country.

“BookMyShow’s work in this space has focused on creating exposure for both global talent to the Indian audience and Indian artists on the global stage,” he adds. “Lollapalooza is a global music phenomenon, an incomparable international experience, that will not only amplify this exposure in India but in all of Asia and put the spotlight on the country as a global entertainment hub.”

Elsewhere in the festival market, India’s biggest metal festival Bangalore Open Air sold out for the first time in its 10-year history.

“This will go down in the history books,” said Bangalore Open Air founder, Salman U Syed. “A heavy metal festival in Bangalore, India, is sold out. Thank you for your support. Ten years of hard work determination and patience.”

“The country has set the stage to become a keystone for some of the biggest music performances and markets in the world”

The 3,000-capacity event, which is produced in partnership with Germany’s marquee metal festival Wacken Open Air, will this year celebrate its 10th anniversary.

Mayhem, Pestilence, Kryptos, Godless, Born of Osiris, Dying Embrace and Amorphia will lead the celebrations at the 1 April event at Royal Orchid Resorts at Yelahanka.

It’s not just domestic executives that are touting India’s rapid growth. The likes of Wasserman Music’s Alex Hardee and ATC Live’s Alex Bruford testified to the market’s upward trajectory at the most recent International Live Music Conference (ILMC).

“I was just in India, where Lumineers headlined the NH7 Weekender and it was incredible,” said Bruford. “More than 20,000 people drove for about eight hours to get to the show – all completely local fans – and it was one of the band’s favourite gigs they’ve ever played.”

Hardee told ILMC delegates how Alan Walker (represented by Lee Anderson and Tom Schroeder at Wasserman) recently broke new ground in India: “He did ten shows in ten cities…I don’t think an international act has ever done that.”

“More than 20,000 people drove for about eight hours to get to the show”

While streaming rates point to a large pop market, challenging routing and a lack of infrastructure have hampered the development of an Indian circuit for rock and pop shows. Venues for shows typically have to be built from scratch on outdoor sites, and purpose-built venues are only a long-term prospect.

The EDM market is already creating circuits of its own. Percept Live’s three-day, 30,000-per-day Sunburn Festival in Goa returned in December, having brought many of the world’s top DJs down since 2007, and Percept has expanded into increasingly ambitious tours – including a six-city trek for DJ Snake in November, visiting Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore but also less-travelled spots such as Hyderabad and Ahmedabad.

“This is the first time we have done a six-city tour over two weekends with such a big artist,” says Percept Live COO Karan Singh, noting that DJ Snake drew anywhere from 10,000 to 15,000 per city. “If you have eight or ten markets where the top international acts can play, that’s good for the industry overall.”

Other experienced electronic promoters include Mixtape Live, Submerge, and Mumbai’s Krunk Live, whose travelling Bass Camp Festival celebrated its tenth year in November. Another major player in the Indian business is payments provider Paytm, which bought OML’s ticketing arm Insider in 2017.

As well as presenting tours by artists such as Singh and Dosanjh, Paytm Insider is behind the Bacardi NH7 Weekender, which has featured Basement Jaxx, A.R. Rahman, and Megadeth and brought The Lumineers, Dirty Loops and J.I.D. back to its home city of Pune for its 11th edition in November.

 


This article contains excerpts from the Global Promoters Report, a first-of-its-kind resource that highlights the world’s leading promoters and the 40 top markets they operate in. The report is now available to subscribers of IQ.

Top agents weigh up consolidation of the biz

Top execs weighed up the pros and cons of the continued consolidation of the agency business at the recent ILMC.

Alex Hardee (Wasserman Music), Alex Bruford (ATC Live), Charly Beedell-Tuck (Solo Agency) and Ella Street (WME) shared their views on the matter during the Agency Business 2023 panel, moderated by IQ Magazine‘s Gordon Masson.

The panel, which took place at the beginning of March, marked one year since Paradigm UK was acquired by Wasserman Music, with Hardee becoming part of the managing executive team.

He told ILMC delegates he thinks the convergence of the business will continue, leaving a handful of major agencies that operate on a global scale.

“I think that there’ll be fewer and fewer agencies and they’ll fold up into bigger ones,” said Hardee, who represents Liam Gallagher and Lewis Capaldi among others.

“I don’t know how you can survive on a big scale without having a global footprint moving forward because the Americans have rigged the game in streaming and the majority of the new acts that are going to be global acts will come from America and perhaps Korea because that’s where the streaming base is. Branding – even though a lot of its smoke and mirrors – seems to be quite important. We’ve got 300 people working at our company now, just in the UK.

“I think that there’ll be fewer and fewer agencies and they’ll fold up into bigger ones”

“I don’t know how you’d operate on a cottage industry level and retain a world-class band. You’d be under so much pressure from people. I think it will be very hard. I think that there will be four or five main agencies probably like there are four or five main record labels.”

While WME’s Ella Street stressed the importance of independents in a healthy marketplace, she echoed Hardee’s point about the need for agencies to have a global footprint.

“I think competition is obviously important and we need to support those independent agencies, venues and festivals to create a healthy marketplace for everybody,” said Street, a WME veteran who represents the likes of Keane, Goldfrapp and more.

“And obviously, some artists are looking for a more boutique experience and don’t want to sign with WME or Wasserman. But I think Alex does have a point; artists and managers are coming to us and wanting a global plan. We’re having to project 18 months, two years ahead. So unless an artist is just looking to just tour the UK at a certain level, they are eventually going to involve a bigger team – they’re going to be looking for that next part of the conversation.”

Bruford, founder and MD of independent agency ATC Live, argued: “I think it’s well proven now that you don’t need a major record label or a major agency or major management to be a global success. I think there are a lot of artists out there that have managed it with all kinds of different levels of teams. For me, what matters is the quality of the work that you do. Whether you deliver not for your artists, it’s not really about the size of the company.

“It’s well proven now that you don’t need a major record label or a major agency or major management to be a global success”

“For us, the continued consolidation is beneficial because rather than being focused on volume, we’re focused on the creative and strategic representation of our artists. And that’s really our priority, rather than how many acts we represent and how big the numbers are. We’ve had really positive responses to that from a lot of the biggest artists and managers out there who want to have their artists represented in that way. There are obviously different ways of doing it and it just depends on which path artists want to take with their careers. I do totally agree that you need a global footprint – we have one – and I think that that’s a really important part of the business. It’s just part of the game.”

Beedell-Tuck, a senior agent at John Giddings’ boutique Solo Agency, reinforced Bruford’s point about the bespoke service independents can offer artists.

“It’s about how you’re servicing your clients and what kind of service you’re offering,” said Beedell-Tuck, who works with artists ranging from Iggy Pop to Megan McKenna.

“If you’re represented by a smaller boutique agency, you’re likely to get a more tailored experience because, in my opinion, you get more of the agent’s time and you’re not just another number. Having a global footprint is very important but there are other ways of satisfying that.”

Since the panel took place, there has been more movement in the agency business, with Primary Talent returning to being an independent music talent agency following a management buyout.

Primary was sold to ICM Partners in 2020, which was subsequently acquired by CAA.

 


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British Music Embassy kicks off at SXSW

The British Music Embassy (BME) at SXSW is hosting 50 emerging artists across 12 showcases highlighting the creativity and diversity of the UK music scene.

The showcases are taking place from 11-18 March, with nearly half already having hit the stage the stage. The opening evening at The Courtyard saw Tyson, Low Island, Brooke Combe, Warmduscher play, while Sunday night witnessed a classical takeover with Classical For The Now followed by a live 3D/AV show from Max Cooper.

Monday night’s showcase was presented by Marshall, and hosted Gen & The Degenerates, Panic Shack, Red Rum Club, Kid Bookie, Dead Pony, and Noisy, while ATC Live presented Tuesday night’s showcase with Ishmael Ensemble, The Golden Dregs, The Goa Express, Sans Soucis, Mandy, Indiana and special guests Balming Tiger.

“ATC live are delighted to be back at the British Music Embassy at SXSW 2023,” says ATC’s Alex Bruford. “We welcome Folly Group, Ismael Ensemble, The Golden Dregs, The Goa Express, Sans Soucis and Balming Tiger for an dazzling and eclectic musical journey taking in post punk, new UK jazz, baritone crooning, psych rock, alternative RnB and multi-national alternative K-Pop.”

The 2023 SXSW (South by Southwest) festival and conference runs from 10-19 March in Austin, Texas.

The BME – the official UK residency at SXSW – will host further showcases until Saturday, featuring the likes of Sports Team, Venbee, The Orielles and Dream Wife

The BME – the official UK residency at SXSW – will host further showcases until Saturday, featuring the likes of Sports Team, Venbee, The Orielles and Dream Wife.

This year, it also joined forces with BBC Music Introducing to present the first ever BBC 1Xtra Introducing showcase, featuring six of the best breaking UK R&B, soul and afrobeat acts. The 12 March showcase included Samm Henshaw, Bellah, Miraa May, Obongjayar, SIPHO, and Yazmin Lacey.

The BME is organised by the Association of Independent Music (AIM), BBC Music Introducing, UK record labels association the BPI, the Department for Business & Trade, The Ivor Academy, The MMF’s Accelerator program, PPL, PRS for Music and PRS Foundation, in association with ATC, Bowers & Wilkins, Marshall, Production Park, Belfast City Council and media partners Consequence and Licks Magazine.

The live performances are being powered by Bowers & Wilkins Sound System in its first live appearance in over five years. It previously featured at music festivals including Primavera Sound and WOMAD, as well as on tour with Jamie XX.

 


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Q&A: ATC Live’s Alex Bruford’s transparency call

In the most recent issue of IQ, we talk to some of the architects who are helping to shape the industry of the future, to quiz them on their blueprints and predictions for how we may all be operating in a few years’ time. Here, Alex Bruford, founder and MD of ATC Live agency, maps out a route towards a future-proof live music business.


IQ: The cost-of-living crisis has emerged as yet another threat to live music. How can agents work with their clients to keep ticket prices affordable for fans?
AB: By exercising restraint, being sympathetic to the requirements of the audience, and considering our business as a whole. We hear a lot about maximising gross potential and not leaving any money on the table. But I believe we have to be cognisant of the wider ecosystem producing the artists who now make the money. In my view, the more money individual shows or tours take out of the market, the less there is for others, especially newer artists.

Be sensible on ticket pricing, and if using dynamic or platinum, set upper limits that are fair to the customers, not just driven by inflated secondary demand. Having a clear and open dialogue with the artists on pricing is important – some of our artists request reduced ticket prices for low-income earners or to scale their shows across a broad range of price points to ensure there is a category for all. Similarly, with dynamic or platinum, ensuring the artist understands how it works and that they are happy with upper-limit decisions is crucial.

We have to acknowledge the huge rise in touring costs for the artists. But rather than just raising the ticket [price], we should be having an open discussion with artist and management about what can be done to reduce costs to make the touring more viable.

“We need festivals to be paying a fair fee, not relying on artists taking a hit because it’s a good look”

A-list acts seem to be doing bigger business than ever at arena-and stadium-level. What more can be done by the live music industry to support and develop the next generation of headliners whose club and theatre gigs may not be selling out?
We need to leave some money in our customers’ pockets so they can still go and see the up-and-coming acts after they’ve bought their expensive red-hot tickets that are going to sell out.

Also, we need the next generation to be able to supplement their tour costs by getting 100% of their merch sales, not 75% of it.
We need to not be enforcing touring and festival exclusivities on newer artists whose other summer shows will have very little impact on the major event(s) but will likely fund their entire year as an artist. We need festivals to be paying a fair fee, not relying on artists taking a hit because it’s a good look.

By securing external sponsorship and funding, MVT’s Revive Live team [in the UK] does an incredible job of supplementing tour costs and allowing new artists to play shows they wouldn’t normally be able to play. Some of my artists performed extensive grassroots tours as a direct result of this support, and it would be fantastic to see more initiatives like this.

For the most part, the live music industry did very well to survive pandemic lockdowns, but now that business is returning to something approaching normality, what long-term strategies should everyone be looking at to ensure the post-Covid landscape is a healthy environment that can attract new professional talent?
For me, the people who make up this business are everything. It doesn’t matter if you are day-one work experience or head of a multinational, all people should be valued, respected, supported, and encouraged to grow. Workplaces where this happens are usually healthy and positive working environments. People want to give their all and stay in the business long-term in these environments. Having lost so much talent during the pandemic, we need to support the next generation coming into the business and ensure they – and their skills – stay in music.

“We won’t have an equitable and future-proof live music business that can support our rising stars until we achieve transparency across the board”

What needs to change about the live music business in the short-and medium-term?
The live music business only exists because of the artists who create unforgettable moments on stage. We must cherish and support those artists.

To continue to do this over the long-term, I believe we have to fix many of the broken and old-fashioned models that this industry runs on. We need artists to be paid a fair share of the entire show gross, not just the ticket gross. Aside from a handful of the biggest artists in the world, there is no transparency at all on the multiple revenue streams that are generated from an artist’s headline performance. Booking fees; venue levies; food and beverage income; merch commission; parking charges; and other revenue streams are all being generated solely because the artist is performing. Yet 99% of the time artists are not sharing in this at their own headline concerts. We need an industry that is transparent, not one that works on concealed rebate payments.

How can we have a transparent discussion about what is a fair share for everyone, artist, promoter, venue, when there is no transparency on total show revenue? We won’t have an equitable and future-proof live music business that can support our rising stars until we achieve transparency across the board.

 


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Agent Ed Thompson joins ATC Live

ATC Live have welcomed agent Ed Thompson to the company.

Thompson joins from Free Trade Agency and brings with him a roster including Jungle, Iron & Wine, Car Seat Headrest, Kero Kero Bonito and Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs.

A live agent for the past 14 years, Thompson has worked with Jungle from their very first show, and saw the band sell 29,000 tickets in London in 2022 on their most recent album campaign, including a headline show at the South Facing Festival in Crystal Palace.

“I am thrilled to be joining the team at ATC Live,” says Thompson. “I have always admired how they do business and their incredible track record of spotting and developing new acts.

“I’m looking forward to getting stuck in and working with their teams to carve out exciting new opportunities for both new and existing clients. It’s a great move for me and my artists and I can’t wait to get started.”

“Ed’s artists and ethos are perfectly aligned with those of ours”

ATC Live currently represents more than 400 artists, with a team of 35 across offices in London, Glasgow and Paris.

“We are delighted to welcome Ed to ATC Live. Ed is a superb agent who curates and represents his roster of artists with care, creativity and a strategic approach that comes from 14 years of agency experience.,” adds ATC Live MD Alex Bruford. “Ed’s artists and ethos are perfectly aligned with those of ours, so we couldn’t be happier that he has chosen to join us at ATC Live.”

The agency’s roster includes acts such as as Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Fontaines DC, The Lumineers, Yard Act, Metronomy, PJ Harvey, Jamie Webster, Big Thief, Black Country New Road, Black Midi, Aldous Harding, Georgia, Special Interest and Amyl & The Sniffers.

 


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The New Bosses 2022: Kathryn Dryburgh, ATC Live

The 15th edition of IQ Magazine’s New Bosses was published in IQ 114 this month, revealing 20 of the most promising 30-and-unders in the international live music business.

To get to know this year’s cohort a little better, IQ conducted interviews with each one of 2022’s New Bosses, discovering their greatest inspirations and pinpointing the reasons for their success.

Catch up on the previous New Bosess 2022 interview with Jonathan Hou, senior director of talent and touring at Live Nation APAC. The series continues with Kathryn Dryburgh, agent’s assistant at ATC Live in the UK.

Raised in the small town of St. Andrews (Scotland), Dryburgh longed to feel connected with live music, so moved to Glasgow (the UNESCO city of music) for university as soon as she could.

At university she studied commercial music, and she started booking local shows; took on internships at a label and promotions company; and founded a female-centric events company called Queens of Noise – where she took pride in championing a platform for young creatives.

After graduating, she began her career at ATC Live – after a delayed start due to Covid – where she has been for a short 15 months, working with artists including Passenger, The Twilight Sad, The Magnetic Fields, Billie Marten, and Christian Lee Hutson (alongside Colin Keenan).

 


 You started booking shows when you were at university. How did you learn to do that, and who did you turn to for advice?
It sparked from my first year. I was keen to learn more about Glasgow’s local scene and wanted to get involved with the bands and venues, so took a leap and figured it out as I went. I was 17, from a small seaside town with no live music venues, so to start with it was a guessing game but figured it out as I went along – with advice from friends (who had toured) and lecturers.

Queens of Noise is a great idea. Can you tell us more about it, as well as any other success stories to come out of it?
Queens of Noise is a female-centric, gender-inclusive business based in Glasgow that is striving to tackle gender bias within the music industry. It is a community-focused project and a safe space for anyone looking to work in the music industry.

Founded in 2018, the inaugural event hosted panels, workshops, and showcases over two days. We were blown away by the response, inundated with questions and ideas, people really linked together as a community and many who attended have since achieved huge things – from starting their own project, getting into education, landing placements or full-time positions, and artists gaining large followings (including Swim School, Medicine Cabinet). We’re working on bringing it back now that the pandemic has eased and are super excited to work with some more incredible people.

“I was keen to learn more about Glasgow’s local scene and wanted to get involved with the bands and venues”

If there were only three venues for your artists to play their first shows in, which venues would you want them to be, and why?
Of the one’s I’ve attended, my favourite venues would be The Barrowlands (Glasgow), Metropol (Berlin), and Sneaky Pete’s (Edinburgh). They all have their own unique atmosphere, hold treasured memories for me, and, of course, have hosted outstanding artists throughout the years.

As a New Boss, what one thing would you change to make the live entertainment industry a better place?
Gender and inclusivity has always been a huge focus for me in both my studies and while working in the industry. I’d love to see gender-bias tackled in a real, tangible way, with more female-presenting people better represented and in higher positions across all sectors of the industry.

“Never underestimate the importance of anyone, in any room”

Finding your feet in the industry in the post-pandemic scramble cannot have been easy. Do you have any tips for others when it comes to networking and meeting promoters and other business contacts?
It was a minefield. The pandemic hit the month I handed in my dissertation, and shortly after the government was recommending people in the live sector “retrain.” I was completely devastated and felt lost. Shortly after, I began a Masters in music business, in an attempt to stay connected to the world I had worked so hard to become part of. I would say, never underestimate the importance of anyone, in any room. I have always strived to value everyone I meet, learning from them or giving a helping hand – it’s those connections that will boost you when you need it most.

What would you like to see yourself doing in five years?
I’d love to be an agent in my own right. I’d like to develop a full, diverse, and exciting roster of bands that I can really pour time and energy into growing. I’d be delighted if I could make some real, notable change in regards to gender inclusion and visibility, whether on a localised- or large-scale.

“I’d be delighted if I could make some real, notable change in regards to gender inclusion and visibility”

You’re obviously quite driven and entrepreneurial. How do you pick yourself up when something doesn’t work out as you had hoped?
I have a tendency to always have ideas and often work on several things at once, so when one thing doesn’t work out, there’s always another to chisel away at. I do also take things to heart, so feeling deflated can be difficult. In those moments, lean on the community you build for yourself and take a moment, review, and try something else – failure can lead to great things.

And on the flip side, what’s been your career highlight so far – or is there any show or tour you’re particularly looking forward to in the near future?
I am delighted to be working at ATC Live, and particularly with such talented colleagues. Being paired with Colin (Keenan) has been fantastic, his ethic and roster are a great match for me, so I’m excited about pretty much everything the future holds. So far, I’ve got a few favourite moments. Most recently, going to The Great Escape as an attendee was incredible. The only other year I attended was 2019, as a volunteer. Coming back as a professional was a fantastic feeling.

 


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