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Revered publicist Judy Totton dies aged 69

Tributes have been paid to revered music publicist and accomplished photographer Judy Totton, who has died at the age of 69.

Totton, who passed away last week, started out at Magnet Records before joining CBS (later Sony), where she worked with ABBA, Dire Straits and The Jacksons, among others.

In 1979, she set up her own company, Judy Totton Publicity, and went on to win Music Week’s PR Campaign Of The Year Award four times.

Totton represented a diverse list of clients including Status Quo, John Cooper Clark and The Kinks, EMI Publishing and the Monsters of Rock festival, as well as the Chinese State Circus and the Dalai Lama. She also handled press for the high-profile return to the UK of the Great Train Robber, Ronnie Biggs in 2001 and conducted tour publicity for David Bowie.

“She had a magical smile that really lit up a room,” says statement from leading entertainment PR firm The Outside Organisation. “Her good nature and calmness meant that she could navigate the most stressful, hyped up rock and roll scenarios imaginable. With her quiet professionalism and kindness she played a big part in her clients’ achievements. She felt for and empathised with others, a quality which helped her to read the room.

“Her unselfishness and lack of ego was absolutely the hallmark of a superb PR. Judy’s modest demeanour, when everyone was losing their heads around her, means she will be long remembered and much missed.”

A host of tributes have also been paid on social media. Writing on Facebook, her former press assistant Esther Ford, owner of Manchester-based Deco Records, describes Totton as a “mentor”.

If you wanted a job doing properly, you gave it to Judy Totton

“I enjoyed my time at Judy Totton Publicity immensely, learning a lot from her,” says Ford. “She was a beautiful person who exuded elegance, intelligence and morality and I not only respected and admired her professionally, I also genuinely liked her as a human being, was extremely fond of her and thoroughly enjoyed our chats.

“Judy has always been known in the industry as a ‘safe pair of hands’. She always just did everything properly. Every i dotted, every t crossed, and all double-checked in order to ensure perfection. Some people say, ‘if you want a job doing properly, do it yourself’. In publicity over the last 40 years, if you wanted a job doing properly you gave it to Judy Totton!” 

InterTalent Rights Group chairman and founder Jonathan Shalit tweets: “Judy Totton was a great and wonderful lady.”

Writer and former Smash Hits journalist David Hepworth writes: “Very sad to hear about the death of Judy Totton, who was our favourite PR back in the day.”

Journalist James McNair adds on Twitter: “So sad to hear Judy Totton has died. She was a lovely woman, a super-helpful PR and a great photographer. I have very found memories of us flying around The Falkland Islands with The Stranglers.”


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Festival PR agency Jukebox unveils new brand identity

Music PR agency Jukebox, whose clients include more than 200 music festivals and events in 50 countries, has taken the wraps off its new-for-2021 brand identity, co-created with creative agency Muuv.

Alex Jukes, who founded the London-based company in 2008, says the new branding “truly reflects our ambitions and attitudes”, with Muuv Creative’s Dan Healy saying the design reflects Jukebox’s identity as a “think-outside-the-box company” with “infectious” drive and passion.

Jukebox, which looks after Timewarp, Electric Zoo and Junction 2, among other festivals, events and artists, is also broadening its reach for 2021, moving beyond public relations to become a “lifestyle and experience company” with a data-driven approach toward marketing, digital communications and online content promotion.

From lifestyle, travel, festival, event and venue PR to Spotify playlist campaigns, label promo, event planning and tours, artist management and brand partnerships, “Jukebox is well placed to blast the first new festivals and worldwide events of the post-pandemic era into the stratosphere”, says Jukes.

“Their experience, global relationships and optimism help them react and adapt to the daily challenges of the fast-paced music PR world,” adds Healy, explaining the new branding. “It’s chaotic, fast and bold. Plus the energy they have and the drive was infectious, and the design now reflects that across every touchpoint.”


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Live music will return bigger and better than before

Over the last few weeks, I have been reading many reports and concerns that the live music industry will never return to how it was. In some ways I agree, but not for the reasons many indicate. For me, I believe it will bounce back better than ever before.

We have learnt during lockdown that musicians can carry out gigs online through livestreaming and videos. But what we have also learnt is that it is just not the same. Although you know it is live, it does not give you the feeling you were there.

It is no replacement for being knee-deep in mud, swigging stale lager and watching your favourite artist deliver their magnificent set. It just doesn’t compare.

Also, a live show is not just about music. It is the intimacy within the crowd, the feeling that you are in a group of like-minded music fans. It is just far more exciting than sitting at home watching musicians play their tracks on YouTube.

I have not yet met one music fan who is not looking forward to festivals and gigs resuming

I believe that many will be jumping at the chance to get back out to see live music. Once the live music industry gets back on its feet, and it is safe to join thousands of other music spectators in one place, people will jump at it.

I speak to a myriad of music fans daily, and I have not yet met one who is not looking forward to festivals and gigs resuming. As a result, I believe that more people will be heading out than ever before.

Many will argue that Covid-19 could bring a recession, which could prevent people from buying tickets. But I do not think it will have too much of a damaging effect. Fans will still manage to get tickets and – as long as ticket prices do not increase massively – the music should start playing again, and louder than it ever has done.


James Dyble is managing director of UK music promotion firm Global Sound Group.

MSG denies hiring anti-activist investor PR firm

Madison Square Garden Company (MSG) has rebuffed reports it has hired a communications firm with a record of defending public companies against activist shareholders, amid suggestions by investors the company is underperforming financially.

The New York Post reported on Tuesday that MSG – whose venue portfolio includes Madison Square Garden (21,000-cap.) and Radio City Music Hall (6,015-cap.) in New York and the Forum (17,500-cap.) in Los Angeles – had enlisted the services of Teneo Holdings, whose most notable recent client is casino operator Caesars Entertainment, which faced a series of investor lawsuits before being given the go-ahead to emerge from bankruptcy in January.

The paper quoted a source saying Teneo’s supposed hiring was “absolutely about defence”, after prominent investor Samantha Greenberg told a hedge fund industry conference controlling shareholder James Dolan should consider spinning off MSG’s sports teams to boost the company’s share price and deliver more value to shareholders.

“Teneo was not hired to provide, and is not providing, services related to any shareholder matter”

However, in a statement issued yesterday afternoon MSG clarified that “Teneo was not hired to provide, and is not providing, services related to any shareholder matter”.

“MSG announced in mid-July that its long-time chief communications officer [Barry Watkins] was transitioning to a new role as senior adviser,” the statement continues. “Following this announcement, MSG hired Teneo to provide general communications and public relations support. The company is conducting a search for a replacement of its CCO.”

MSG’s Q4 2017 financial results showed a 40% increased in turnover to US$305.6m, although losses also widened, doubling to $92.5m.


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Alpha Omega to open office in UK

Italian metal agency Alpha Omega Management is to open a UK and Ireland office as part of a “collaborative partnership” with UK-based Enso Music Management.

Enso – an artist management and PR company, also specialising in heavy metal, based in the south-west of England – says the collaboration will “promote, support and develop the career of both [companies’] rosters around the world”. Metal heavyweights represented by Alpha Omega include Steve Di Giorgio, Omen, Node, DRI (Dirty Rotten Imbeciles) and Norway’s Ancient, while Enso’s management roster includes Perpetua, Fractions and and Xerosun.

“Enso Music Management & PR is proud to announce a collaborative partnership with Alpha Omega Management to promote, support and develop the career of both rosters around the world,” say Enso’s Rachael Harrison and Dorothy Demeester in a joint statement. “We entered this collaboration as, more than ever, we want to share our passion for music and team up with people as passionate as we are.

“We want to share our passion for music and team up with people as passionate as we are”

“This passion for music is what we found in the Alpha Omega team, so it was obvious for us to join forces with them and start a new exciting journey, dedicated to our bands and the development of their career. We are really proud of this and looking forward to building up the best structure to give the best support our artists.”

Alex Azzali (pictured), Alpha Omega’s general manager, explains the UK/Irish office joins the agency’s HQ in Italy and branch offices in the Americas and Ukraine/Russia. He continues: “Earlier this year we launched the new brand of [tour] services, Alpha Omega Tours, and just recently we inaugurated our new management branch, dedicated to the needs and interests of session musicians and solo artists.

“Our hard-working team has [put in the] hours to reach every target and milestone we set at the beginning of our journey, and today we are proud to be considered a highly valued band and artist management company, gaining appreciation from the music scene worldwide.”


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PR firm Quite Great launches live booking arm

Quite Great, a British music PR firm whose clients include Mick Jagger, Brian Eno, Stevie Wonder, Kiss, Jelly Festival, Decca Records and Mixcloud, has launched a live booking service.

The new venture, headed up by veteran booker Tom Green (229 the Venue, The Bedford), offers artists a range of services, including help with tour booking (10–20 dates in the UK and Europe), touring logistics/advancing and record launch parties, with Quite Great’s PR team handling the accompanying promotion and release schedules.

“Navigating the live music industry can be a daunting and challenging task at the best of times,” comments Green (pictured). “It’s a pleasure to be able to bring my knowledge as a promoter and agent to Quite Great to grow the roster and expand on what the company already does.

“I look forward to working with the team here to grow something quite special.”


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Global Publicity celebrates 10 years

Music PR company Global Publicity, whose clients include some of Europe’s most popular festivals, this year celebrates ten years since its founding.

Established in 2007 by Nikki McNeill, Global’s roster has grown to include Sziget, Amsterdam Dance Event, Lowlands, Bilbao BBK Live and Exit Festival, as well as techno artists Dave Clarke and Octave One.

“I feel very lucky to work on projects I love and am truly passionate about,” says McNeill. “I never thought I’d get this far, and working alongside many of my peers and role models in the music industry is the icing on the cake.”

McNeill is also a regular panellist at industry conferences – and can, she says, usually be found on the dancefloor, where her “passion for music first started”, when the work is done.


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