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September 26, 2010

A Conversation With Matt Early - Band & Event Promoter

Filed under: Band Promotion — ian @ 6:55 pm

Do you know, it’s really strange what comes to mind when talking with a friend. I’ve had the vision of a long forgotten dream and a past life, that came fluttering back into my vacant mind.

UBP: Hello Matt, well I suppose we’ve only known each other for a relatively short time; I think we first met on the infamous UKBands, you were a member of The Malloys (a punk rock band), back in ‘04 or ‘05. Then we moved over to ChatAboutMusic and pilloried John B - I enjoyed that. Since then, I’ve noticed that not only are you a talented drummer, but also you have a liking and ability for the business end of band promotion. Can you tell me a little more about yourself and how you got into promoting other bands?

Matt Early - Band & Event Promotion
Matt Early

Matt Early: Hello Ian. Yeah, it seems like a long time ago when I discovered a great forum, a place where people could talk about music related things and swap ideas etc., in regards to their own musical adventures, whether it was being in a band, wanting to promote a band, starting a blog or podcast, and it was a great way to connect with new people. Unfortunately the forum moderators went a bit dictatorial, and then the forum became a joke. It was all very sad, because the community also disbanded. So the forums ChatAboutMusic and TeoMusic started up as a reaction, but they didn’t really take off as well as had been hoped. The thing is, it left everyone without a place to go. I think when UKBands was popular, Facebook was but a twinkle in Zuckerbergs eye, and forums where the best place to chat. Now the connectivity options are insane, perhaps forums are drifting in to the past, and nobody really wants to share their contacts as much as they used to.

I, like you said, was an extremely talented drummer in a punk band called The Malloys, and were getting rough deals from promoters who were giving us crappy percentages for playing some rather crappy venues. So rather than approaching the promoters as a band, we approached them as a promotions company, saying “we’ll book a night and organise everything for you, you can see it as a day off”. 9 times out of 10, they told us to f-off, and we’d then discuss other things, but when the promoters bit, we were given free range, and generally a new and free venue to play at.

We would put on the bands that we’d played with and got on well with before, and we’d all work together to make a cracking evening happen.

We were then approached by a venue to start doing regular nights as the promotions company. The other members of the band weren’t interested, but I thought I’d give it a crack, as it was an opportunity to try something new. Thus I started a promotions company and started building a network of bands that would be interested in working with me.

I think being in a band helped me to understand what deals would work best; when you’re in a band, you know that you need a sizeable audience at a gig to know that you’re going to get paid at the end of the night, or at least to get your petrol costs covered. I’ve been able to help acts by giving them enough time to promote themselves and ideas that I’ve picked up along the way.

I wouldn’t really say I am a band promoter, but more of an events promoter that helps bands.

UBP: Yeah, I can see that there could be a difference between a band promoter and an event promoter. Band promoters over the years have had a pretty bad reputation for ripping off bands. There has also been a long debate and hatred of Pay-to-Play, Andy Hignett being one who has an active animosity, would I be right in thinking that an event promoter is more of a White Knight, and how does your punk philosophy fit in with dealing with Mr Regular-Landlord? - mind you, I don’t really see you as a Sid Vicious!

Matt Early: Ha, far from it! You could never have a Sid Vicious on drums, too many surfaces to line up the coke. HA!

My opinion on punk philosophy is to be true to yourself. It may mean something else to other people, I think it changes from person to person.

I am 100% up front and honest with the people I talk to. I don’t regard bullshitting or blagging as attributes. I listen, and hear what people say, be it a band wanting to tour the country, or a solo artist just needing help; I can be the person they come to for advice as much as the person they come to for gigs.

In terms of pay to play, if the promoters can get away with it, and as long as there are bands willing to play them, then it will still happen. I wouldn’t do that to my guys, because it just not practical enough. The way I work is that if I need costs covered, the bands know this, and they’ll work for me to get the place filled, it’s a team effort; at the end of the day everyone wants to get paid for having a good time, and if that happens, then we’re all doing our job WELL.

UBP: Yes Matt, from what I’ve seen and heard, I’d say that you are honest and straight down the line with a good dollop of humour on top. I like your interpretation of punk.

My philosophy is more Buddhist, I felt that I freed myself when I discovered that I should work with bands for free, and rely only on their generosity for donations - mind you, it’s very tough. Where do you come from when it comes to charging bands for your services?

Matt Early: I don’t charge bands a penny. The only thing I charge them is their time. I arrange gigs for bands and get them connected with the people they need to be, so when I ask them to help, they’re more likely to give it freely, happily. All I ask for is that they spread the word about my promotions, and not to be taken for granted. Sure, if I was putting on a world tour for someone, I’d probably ask my percentage, but that hasn’t come up yet. I encourage them to use other free resources such as yourself, or low cost services like my design company meDesignz :)

UBP: Wow! I didn’t realize there was no charge - no mention of a tour bus though ;) meDesignz, is your MySpace based design company that does logos, T-shits and stuff. One of the punk artist designers that I’ve liked for a long time is Caroline Coon. What artists influence your work/life?

Matt Early: Andy Warhol and Dali are probably the biggest influences in terms of my graff design work, although I don’t think it shows. The majority of my work is very clean and simplistic, makes the point and doesn’t make a song and dance about it.

Chelsea Girls
An Evocative Image For UBP (me)

UBP: Ha, I thought you’d say Andy Warhol. Funny how Malcolm McLaren seemed to carry his work on and ‘create’ Punk. McLaren used to have a shop on the King’s Road, Chelsea - I can’t remember what it was called, but I called in and got a very expensive Vivienne Westwood T-shirt!

I want to talk about your new venture, MattEarly.com "A blog for band and event promotions", where did you get the idea for this?

Matt Early - Band & Event Promotion

Matt Early: The shop was SEX, surely. Do you still have the t-shirt?

I dunno where I got the idea from; I thought it would be a good way to increase web traffic to the entertainments company I work for, without directly linking to it. I think blogs are the future. I don’t know what is going to come from it, but I have plenty of ideas of what can be covered in the blog. I couldn’t find another blog out there covering this particular style of promotion, so I thought why not eh! I aim to start a podcast to go along with the blog, but that’s not going to happen for a good while.

430 King's Road Chelsea London

UBP: Oh yeah, SEX, how the hell did I forget that? Actually, when I went there it was called Seditionaries. No, I don’t have the T-shirt any more, long gone.

Well I think that you’ve found a good niche, there’s a ‘wave’ (if that’s the word) of people, bands and young/new promoters who need to gather together and collaborate. Do you see this project as some form of collaboration, I mean, could I as a specialist band website promoter get involved, can others get involved?

Matt Early: Absolutely. I want whoever wants to get involved, to get in contact. I’m always open for suggestions.

UBP: That’s what I’ve heard ;) O.K., so let’s say I’m a band promoter of the more traditional type, what benefits would I gain from ‘joining’ or collaborating with www.MattEarly.com - and anyway, can someone join? I can’t see a Join Here button!

Matt Early: I like to think that the benefits of coming to MattEarly.com is that you pick up some new ideas, or even just get a better idea of how the other side of the business is. At the moment there isn’t a join here button, because there is nothing to join. You can always join in with the blog by posting comments etc. :)

UBP: That’s cool, I think that joining in by posting comments is the right way to go, especially if you allow the odd guest blog post.

Via Google Street View, I’ve just ‘driven’ up to the front door of 430 King’s Road, Chelsea, to SEX and found out that it’s now World’s End and next-door to an Indian Restaurant called Nirvana - there’s something right about that! Will MattEarly start doing Takeaways?

Matt Early: Ian I’ll start doing takeaways when Maccy D’s, KFC and Subway start doing home delivery :)

END

It seems to me that Matt is one of those people who, within the music business, will get to be where He wants to be in the end. "It’s a hard business Matt." …But he knows that already!

1 Comment »

  1. Great interview. It is great to see more people out there trying to help out the little guy (independent bands). My site is trying to do the same www.indiebandguru.com. Hopefully we can all work together to succeed.

    Comment by Keith — September 27, 2010 @ 2:45 am

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