Interview: Neil Simpson of Black Isle Management

Recently I have had the pleasure of interviewing bands and record labels for Moshville Times, which is a dream I never thought would come true. I then wanted to find out how things are for the music business for promoters of the shows that we attend and in particular the local promoters who devote so much of their personal lives to providing the gig goer with entertainment. So much goes into the gig behind the scenes that we do not know about and Neil who runs Black Isle Music from his current home in Manchester, has very kindly given a personal view of how things are for the promoter, the dangers that come with the business and the efforts required to making the gig happen.

Bands looking for shows should take note of what is required to get a show, where Neil can promote gigs in his current hometown of Manchester or closer to his original home of Glasgow. An enjoyable read and thank you Neil for taking the time to answer my questions.

Tell our readers at Moshville Times a bit about yourself and what made you decide to become a promoter?

I originate from a village in the Highlands so moved to Glasgow to study music business and to be immersed by music. I’ve always gone to gigs since I was a wee kid so getting involved in promoting gigs seemed a natural step once I got settled in Glasgow.

You are renowned for Black Isle Management, promoting gigs in both Glasgow and Manchester. What type of bands do you look for before you decide to promote them?

Quality. If I hear something that is good, I’ll want to put them on a bill – sometimes that’s easier said than done, but I try my best to arrange a bill so I can give that band a platform to be heard, whether in their home town or across the border. If a band has a good following and I can see that, I’d likely want to work with them, but that isn’t a deal breaker, I’d happily work with bands just starting out and work with them to help build up their profile where I can.

Catering for different genres of music, does this bring its own headaches when it comes to promoting and marketing the gigs as well as doing so in two different locations?

Yes definitely, I’ve only recently relocated to Manchester in the past 6 months so I’m only just getting the ball rolling with upcoming events starting in March, and If I’m honest I’m holding back on organising shows in Glasgow but look to get back involved in that in the coming months. Doing events with multiple genres does keep things fresh though.

How many people do you have working with you and can that bring its own pressures as well?

I’ve got a few people up and down the county who are keen to help out whether if that is sticking poster around town, or repping a show for me, so that’s a great help, and I work together with my housemate Kevin on different projects so he jumps in and helps with the organising of some shows. I wouldn’t say it brings its own pressure at my level but may do as I grow the business, we’ll have to wait and see on that one!

If you were to give advice for someone expressing an interest in becoming a promoter, what would it be?

Be prepared to lose money, and be prepared for shit to go wrong last minute! It’s not always as easy as it looks, but you’ve got to lose some to win some.

What was the first gig you put on and how did that feel?

Necrosis at 13th Note, it felt great! Had a lot of problems on the lead up to it but I had a blast running the whole thing, and learnt tonnes from that experience. Oh! and drank most of the rider with ma pals! Was a good night haha.

What lessons have you learned along the way?

Don’t be lazy! It’s easy to procrastinate and not get shit done. Take risks! Even if they don’t all pay off, most people in our industry didn’t get to where they are without taking risks.

What pressures are you under every day as a promoter?

Not that much pressure at the moment, just keeping up with responding to artists who get in touch.

Do you have any regrets?

Never, I just learn from each experience and look to the next gig.

What are your ambitions in 2018 and beyond? Do you envisage owning your own venue for your gigs to promote in the future?

To be running a steady flow of shows each month in both the Glasgow and Manchester areas by the end of the year. Nah, I think that would be a long way off before I think about that one.

Has there been a band that you were desperate to sign but who got away from you?

Scordatura are one I’ve not managed to book yet! They are great guys but the timing just wasn’t right.

A fun question to end this interview. If you were a DJ and were allowed to bring 5 CDs to the party, what would they be?

This will be fun and probably some unexpected answers!

  • Joe Goddard – Electric Eyes
  • Bicep – Glue
  • Abba – The Best Of
  • Chic – C’est Chic
  • Tame Impala – Lonerism (for the wind down of the party at the break of dawn)

Any last message for our readers here at Moshville Times?

Just keep supporting your local music/creatives, local promoters and local venues.

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