So in another life, many moons past, I was a big music fan. I still am of course, but not like then; then I lived, eat, drunk & breathed music. I was kinda late to the party, I enjoyed listening to music as everyone does, then when I was about 16 I suddenly opened my ears to what was going on and fell in love with the whole thing.
I’ve never been one for half measures, when I get into something I tend to go feet first and immerse myself, so shortly after this eureka moment, I found a way to work within the music industry and it’s thanks to this that I met my partner!!
I had no skills with an instrument and a voice that could upset stone, but I discovered a way to go to more gigs, get more music and all for free. Street Teams.
I was living near Brighton at this point (and in fact was homeless for part of it, I used the school computers or whatever local library was close to me at the time), the music scene there was superb – it seemed like every great band that toured the UK would play Brighton, just an hours drive south the coast and if you’re a big-hitting act, The Brighton Centre or maybe The Dome; if you’re a newish band just beginning to break, The Concorde 2, The Komedia or if you were even smaller, The Freebutt, The Ocean Rooms or a whole host of rooms-with-speakers.
I began working with a Street Team for Warner Music Group, it was a simple enough concept – labour for freebies. If a WMG act was in Brighton, I (or any other members from Brighton and surrounding areas) could apply to ‘cover the gig’, which would mean going up and down the queue doing data-capture for email lists; giving out promo materials; sometimes more unorthodox things, and in turn, WMG would give (usually) 2 tickets for the gig and maybe the latest album or something like that. So live music + free = happy Kris.
Not long after this I ended up being scarily-regular at The Concorde 2, which would be where WMG acts tended to play. Nobody that many people might remember now; The Glitterati, Louis XIV, The Rakes, Ghosts, Switches, Fields; indie bands generally, it’s what I liked and its what was popular at the time. Music comes in waves, an era in music is just a few years long. Guitar Bands fade away to be replaced by Dance; Dance disappears as Hip Hop & R&B usurp the throne, maybe Guitar Bands come back again, maybe pop steps in for a year or 2, the cycle repeats itself. I got into it as indie music was in the ascendency, whatever your opinion of the music, the sheer quantity of successful acts in such a short space of time was remarkable. The Killers, Bloc Party, Hard-Fi, The Futureheads, Maximo Park, The Libertines, Kaiser Chiefs, The Zutons, Franz Ferdinand, The Strokes, The Raconteurs, Arctic Monkeys, Interpol, Elbow, Feeder… it was a conveyor belt of music and it was going from strength to strength.
So I wound up eventually being a regional rep for the street team, which meant more responsibility and more tasks, but more rewards and more opportunities, I’d eventually move to London (and a brief spell back in Belfast) as a regional rep in those areas. Over the next few years, hundreds of gigs – literally more than I could ever remember – some great adventures and stories, a brief while trying to do a degree on the topic, a real job in the music business and becoming blasé at a too-young-age about the whole thing.
I’m going to put some of these stories down here over the next while, mostly for catharsis and for posterity’s sake…