Thursday 1 March 2012

Geoff Ellis : Interview

Geoff Ellis and Vic Galloway
 Geoff Ellis at the Fruitmarket Glasgow February 2012 (Unesco Glasgow City of Music)
Ellis hails from Manchester. He went to study Building and then transferred to Middlesex to study Film and TV. He started writing music reviews for the student magazine, which unusually was covering music rather than politics. He also put in time working as security at the Student Union. He then got a position as Event Manager. Few will put themselves out and look for opportunities or to make their own opportunities, he stated. 
He then moved to run the Marquee Club in London which was known for heavy rock at that time and he tried to change it to include more Indie music. These were tough times then with the recession and some gigs didn’t sell well such as Radiohead on their first headline tour, where he made a loss and they hardly covered the door. There were always risks to take. He put on club nights with little advertising to help keep things going.

In the 80s he applied to run King Tuts in 1990 (when this now famous venue started) and moved to Glasgow. Ellis said it is about relationships, while still standing your ground and not being a soft touch so people will respect you. He said that he had made loads of mistakes and that it is important to learn from mistakes. There is no guidebook for concert promoters. He said it is important to have resilience, humility and don’t expect a pat on the back but do expect to put the hours in. That roles can shift.

T in the Park. He and his co-workers thought, why we don’t do a festival and at the time there was only Glastonbury and Reading and no outdoor festival in Scotland.  They lost money the first year and only had 5 acts. T now takes a year to plan. There is a huge adrenalin rush from the moment the gates open and its such a huge buzz to see everyone at the main sage having a great time. After the gigs finish and the City that is T in the Park is gone, there is a flat feeling. Attendance is between 25,000 to 85,000. Radio influences attendance at gigs.
DF Concerts. Ellis took the risk of putting Robbie Williams on at Hampden in 1998 when his song Angels came out, when others wondered would they possibly sell so many tickets. DF concerts is now the biggest promoters in Scotland with a team of 30.

Highs. Such as Kings of Leon at Murrayfield. He spoke of the conversation between promoter and agent – will the stadium sell out and the 50,000 tickets. It is about convincing agents that the event will sell and the hope that the organisation works out and also the costing,
Low. Failure of Connect festival, when we lost an enormous amount with the high level of delivery and over spend on bands.There can be long hours. Future Plans - A festival in China.
Advice for Promoters. Dealing with the council and Building control in order to help to make Glasgow an event friendly city. Back then public money mainly went to highbrow and not to rock n roll. Tenants were the only ones willing to back T.

Bands. Its important to build relationships with journalists, radio, and producers, it used to be Record shops that would say what was selling. Now all the research is done on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other online sharing sites. They ask the Labels who they are prioritising for the next 12 months. Get to know your audience – who buys the tickets. Experience is the key, and to have flair and creativity. Be bold and take risks.  He said it is necessary to love and have passion for this industry. 
Unesco and Creative Scotland offer Live Music initiative and are a resource for information and advice for new bands. Plus there is The BBC Introducing Stage. Ellis said that teenagers were the lifeblood of the Live Music industry. Vic Galloway talked about how radio was a selector from the billions of artists out there.
Support for New Artists. The booking team at DF Concerts has a commitment to discovering new talent, helped by the good relationships bookers have with artist agents, management and other promoters. As part of the infrastructure to support new talent, King Tut’s also has its own record label – King Tut’s Recordings and label bosses look to sign up the hottest grassroots talent.

T Break Stage – for the freshest unsigned talent in Scotland. Make sure you're the first to hear when the call for demos opens by checking out or visit
Ellis said it that it is not about goals, but that opportunities fall into place. 

Comment: T in the Park music festival has become more mainstream in recent years. I’d like to see a more creative and Indie tent also. The song writers seem ‘marginalised’ to studio work – or to produce what the mass market might dictate. As songwriter Richard Thompson put it, ‘People in large numbers don’t always have the best taste.’
Creativity is the lifeblood of the music industry! 
AND.. Are teenagers the life blood of the live music industry these days? Maybe back in the 60s they were. I attend many gigs and at many the average age appears more like 35 or even 60 than 15! My guess (without doing a survey) and with ticket prices so high (!) would be that the average age at T is more like 30 than 15!

T In the Park tickets went on sale this week 29th Febrary2012. .
2011 T in the Park saw in its 15th birthday in style with a whopping 180 acts taking to 12 stages. 
130 music events each week in Glasgow, more than any other Scottish city.