Primarily I’m a singer and songwriter but the way the music industry is these days you have to wear many hats and diversify into other areas to make it work. You’re income can’t only come from Spotify streams believe me! So over the years I’ve found other avenues and ways to use the skills I’ve gained whilst traversing the music industry. I call this being a musical entrepreneur. But my latest step in another direction was long in the making.
Events dear boy events…when I first started out I was in a position where I literally just turned up, walked on stage, sang for about 45 minutes, got paid and went home. In all honesty, back then I didn’t appreciate what went into those shows. Because I had a face and a song people recognized it was as easy as I describe. For those who don’t know, I was on one of the first talent shows called Fame Academy, “you were in the vanguard of reality tv” as Ed Sheeran’s manager once said to me. But as that cycle fades, so does the crowd and you have to work a lot harder for an audience.
In 2010 I had a little hit with a song called Just Drive, which became the Sky F1 theme tune and a formula one anthem. It brought me back to a bigger stage and a new audience. And it meant once again the possibility of touring. So I went out on the road again using a big agent and promoter.
What became apparent early on was that despite decent audiences, it was going to be tight making it a work in the modern musical climate using the conventional route of a live agent, manager, band and all the costs that go with that. So I started looking at others ways of doing things. For a start, book the venues myself, find quirky interesting places to play that didn’t charge the earth, bring in my own PA system, speakers and equipment, do my own promotion, create and sell my own merch.
I’m not gonna lie, to begin with, initially it was hard work literally doing everything. Lugging speakers up the stairs to the back room of a pub was a far cry from supporting Will Young in a packed out arena but it certainly was more rock’n’roll. But what I learned by doing this was worth its wait in gold. As my old pal Jake Humphrey says you learn a lot more from failure than you do from success. This time was where I learned some of the most valuable lessons for sure.
At this point I was effectively promoting and producing my own shows, then getting on stage and performing as the main act. This is not an easy gig. And I quickly realized I needed a team. So I started gathering a small but highly efficient and crucially, reliable group of people to help make the events happen.
With that team and with the knowledge I’d gathered I created a music festival in Whitby called Whitby Rising. This was an insane but brilliant experience and more vital lessons were learned in putting on this event. A musical festival is on a different scale all together and is about far more than just music. It’s about creating an experience that people remember. Whitby Rising involved hundreds of people, man hours, catering trucks, fencing, traffic management systems, security, coconut shys, musicians, bands, face painters and more…as I said it was insane but brilliant and much loved by the people of Whitby.
I think that was the biggest lessons in event management anyone could have and the crucial take away “it’s about giving people an experience they’ll remember”. Whitby Rising may only have run for two years but people still talk fondly of it now.
Which leads me on to the Big Christmas Concert in York. Me and the team have run this for 5 years and it’s all about giving people that experience. The music of course has to be brilliant and it is but it’s about the whole package. So we have a brass band playing as people arrive, a thousand twinkling lights, lanterns on shepherds crooks, carols, the Christmas classics from the Pogues to Cliff, mulled wine by the gallon and festive games that all feed into our own fairytale in York. Not forgetting a beautiful venue next to York Minster.
This atmosphere and experience is now what Ignite Concerts is all about. Not Christmas in July but the magic of candlelight, a thousand candles and amazing musicians playing songs like you’ve never heard them before.
I may occasional venture back on stage but it’s time to shine a light on others and their amazing talents too. We’ve teamed up with York’s renowned Ebor Quartet to create a series of candlelit shows in some of York’s most beautiful venues and places you might not have been to before.
Years of lessons learned, tweaking, fine tuning and all going towards a concert experience you won’t forget.
It would be lovely to see you there.