Trailblazer: Tony Truman, O Beach Ibiza
Welcome to the latest edition of Trailblazers – IQ’s regular series of Q&As with the inspirational figures forging their own paths in the global concert business.
From people working in challenging conditions or markets to those simply bringing a fresh perspective to the music world, Trailblazers aims to spotlight unique individuals from all walks of life who are making a mark in one of the world’s most competitive industries. Read the previous Trailblazers interview, with Cambridge Folk Festival’s Becky Stewart, here.
Next up is Tony Truman, co-founder and operating partner of O Beach Ibiza, a beach club which debuted as Ocean Beach Ibiza on the Mediterranean party island in 2012.
Alongside business partner Duane Lineker, Truman’s vision was to create a ‘daytime destination’ on the west coast of Ibiza. Specialising in daytime parties, the 2,000-capacity venue has hosted performances by the likes of Ibiza House Orchestra, Sandy Rivera, Horse Meat Disco and DJ Spoony, and is now firmly established as a clubbing institution in the highly competitive Ibizan market.
But before he was a nightclub baron, Truman was a tearaway youth who just wanted to go to his school’s end-of-year party…
How did you get your start in the industry?
I started out in the business when I was very young. I was 15 when I was expelled from school for being somewhat of a naughty boy, and because of that I was banned from going to the famous final-year party. Even though I’d been chucked out of school I still asked if I could go, because it had a reputation of being so good – but they said no, obviously! I was absolutely devastated as everyone went to this party, including all my friends. It was actually my mum who suggested I have my own party… and, with that, I did! I hired a boat on the Thames in London, but the only night I could hire it was the same night as the school party. I took a gamble, hired it and had 250 people turn up to my party. Only 17 attended the school party! It was then I found my making and started my path as a party promoter.
That same year was the first-ever trip I made to Ibiza with my family and friends. We met some older lads that showed us the ropes, taking us to all the big superclubs such as Ku, and I was blown away at the scale of the venues and the events. I knew for sure that this is what I wanted to do and where I wanted to be.
Tell us about your current role.
I, along with Duane Lineker, one of my business partners, am an operating partner of O Beach (formerly Ocean Beach) Ibiza, as well as a number of other businesses we have collectively on the island. The role differs between winter and summer: in the winter there is a lot of planning – whether that be recruitment or events, as well as dealing with many day-to-day business decisions – so this is where a lot of my time is taken up with work.
As soon as summer begins, this is where the fun part of my job starts. I spend a lot of days hosting at my table in the beach club, which consists of a lot of partying with lots of people from the island, other industry associates and friends, celebrity guests and, of course, my own family and friends. It really is lots of fun and I get to see the venue in action – but now I’m getting older, it may be time to reduce that to maybe three or four times a week!
There is obviously serious daily work to do but, luckily, I have an amazing team and partner to do most of mine for me.
“I am proud we took an derelict old car park in the wrong end of town and turned it into one of the most famous beach clubs in the world”
What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
Standing on the stage day after day and seeing all the happy faces on the dancefloor and all around the beach club – people having the time of their lives, having fun, laughter all around and, ultimately, making happy memories that will last forever. The fact that I am in a position to give people that opportunity to have real fun and be themselves, and also for my staff, who love doing the job they do.
And the most challenging?
The most challenging is to keep at the forefront of what we are doing – making sure you are constantly giving people what they want in a world where trends change all the time. Staying on top of a competitive market like Ibiza is hard work, as you are up against some of the biggest and best clubs in the world, but a bit of competition is what keeps the magic alive and keeps you spontaneous.
What achievements are you most proud of?
I am most proud of my family and the close bond we share, as well as the fact I have so many lifelong friends from school and my younger years who are still around me and working with me.
From a business perspective I am proud that we took an old derelict car park in the wrong end of town – they said – and in six short years have become one of the most famous and best beach clubs in the world, all without putting on the biggest promoters and biggest artists. It’s all been down to our core values, determination and an amazing team.
How has the business changed since you started out?
The biggest change I have seen is the volume of people we get through the doors. We are sold out most days of the week now, and when you host 155 parties back to back there’s a lot of work involved for the entire team. The first year, we only had one semi-busy day a week, and the following year three busy days – and from there, it just grew and grew into the machine it is today.
“Never forsake your dignity for the sake of your destiny”
What, if anything, could the music industry do better?
A saying we created, and stand by in our values, is, “We are here to celebrate, not educate”, and this is directed at our music policy. This is because we play what our crowd want and not necessarily what is current and supposedly ‘cool’.
When we opened, the music industry was at a point where you could be looked down on if you weren’t playing the ‘right’ music and most up-to-date sounds, which I personally felt was wrong. For me, there is room for all types of music that’s right for the occasion, and that’s where I feel we got it right with O Beach Ibiza.
Who, or what, have been the biggest influences on your career so far?
One of my best friends has been one of the biggest influences. When things were not going quite right in my life a number of years ago, he was one of the loyal people who stood by my side, who always believed in me and who always pushed me by telling me not to give up. So, Mr Barry, I still thank you from the bottom of my heart!
I also think one of the biggest things that has had an impact on my life is becoming a father, as suddenly I realised I had to grow up fast as I had another life depending on me. I am so grateful this happened, as it put all of the surreal crazy life into perspective and made me realise what was important.
What advice would you give to someone hoping to make it in music?
Anything is possible if you are determined and set your mind to it, and believe in it – and above all in yourself. Never forsake your dignity for the sake of your destiny.
If you’d like to take part in a future Trailblazers interview, or nominate someone else for inclusion, email IQ’s news editor, Jon Chapple, on [email protected].