I wrote this article about Northern Exposures ethos and our vision over five years ago. It has been testing to keep this ethos I tell you but I still feel it is vitally important advice to helping the unsigned music scene flourish once restrictions during covid lift.
The music industry is one of the most competitive industry’s in the world. Making a living in this game can be extremely hard especially at grassroots level – but keeping it kind and professional is most definitely the way forward. One of the key aims of Northern Exposure always has and always will about the spirit of collaboration and NOT competition.
‘If you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far, go together’
We have built our foundations on this mantra: it is massively important to us and it’s so refreshing to see so many organisations these days working together in unison rather than against one another. I know from experience that new faces on any scene can feel to some like people are trying to move in on their patch and people can feel threatened – that’s not usually the case. The best way is to welcome them and try to help them – as this gesture will almost certainly be repaid (or should be!). When I put on a gig with a band that I know another promoter works with, I liaise with that promoter. I’m not here to ruffle anyone’s feathers – I’m here to put on great gigs and work in a music scene that focuses on good vibes.
‘Alone we can do so little – together we can do so much’
Remember to show a welcoming face at the barrier when you first start taking pictures, advice from someone who has more experience or an introduction whilst out at gigs from a fellow promoter can go a long way – trust me I’ve been there. My initial experiences were not great but they got better when I met genuine people on my wavelength. A valuable piece of advice I was once given was ‘work with those who want to work with you’. Starting out? You’ll quickly get a feel for who those people are.
When it comes to writing, we all want to write the best articles, we want to be at the top of our game but we don’t have to tread over people or bitch about people to do so. If you hear of people slating people this is a huge red flag that this person is not doing it for the right reasons. It doesn’t matter if you are putting out the most journalistic pieces of writing – if your heart’s not in this for the right reasons then sooner or later that could bite you on the arse. When we first set up, people just couldn’t get their head round our ethos of collaboration – I hope to be an example of what this ethos can achieve. Apart from key staff which we all obviously need, I have always encouraged people who write for us to set up and build something of their own – because in my opinion the more of us the better. Especially when it comes to the younger generation, these young lads and lasses are so important to keeping the scene alive down the line and should be fully supported and encouraged to flourish. It upsets me massively to see and hear of grown men and women giving the future promoters, PR and journalists a hard time, when let’s face it in this game even at my age things are changing at such a fast rate constantly, we are always learning!
Now, I’m not deluded, I know we cannot get along with everyone, we live in the real world not a fantasy one. I have cut ties with many people who have wronged me in ways that I’ve felt that aren’t unforgivable (I forgive for my own sanity) but in ways I can no longer associate nor work with them. I want to make a huge point of that if I have cut ties with someone its for a very good reason. Personally, on anyone else’s issues I tend to keep out unless it has directly affected me (or a good friend who I’ve known a VERY longtime & trust, fair-weather friends are so common in this industry) I never listen to hearsay or Chinese whispers. Besides anything else there are always two sides to a story, remember that!.
When it comes to helping other people out in the same line of business as you and joining forces, it need not be painful. Meeting fellow promoters and chatting about how you can work together in the same town or city can go far in building your brand and help to get new music out there – because at the end of the day as well as obviously making a living, that’s what we all want isn’t it?
Want to help the scene? Are you a budding journalist? Are you handy with a camera?
Webzines like ourselves are always on the look out for new people (novices and the more experienced) who are interested in helping new music and joining the team. Promoters are always looking out for people to help with marketing and staffing gig nights on the door and/or behind the scenes. You can contact ourselves on firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in working with us.
If you take just one thing onboard out of this article I feel the whole scene will benefit and will continue to flourish.