INTERVIEW WITH A PRO
Every month I will be interviewing a different live music business professional to talk about their career so far. This month I bring you Mark Dawson, a Production Manager whose CV includes Rolling Stones, Kate Perry, 50 Cent, Alice Cooper and Jay Z...
HOW DID YOU BREAK INTO THE INDUSTRY? I started as a kid in Kidderminster managing my mate’s band from school. Their gigs were successful so we started inviting bands we liked to come and support in exchange for the train fare. Then I heard a big 300 cap room in town was going to become a proper venue. I lied my way into becoming the promoter and eventually managed to book a big opening act – Carter USM. This was 1990 so it was a big deal for the town. Nobody decent had played since The Alarm and U2 had played at the Town Hall in the early 80s. That went well, other bands rang up wanting to play and eventually I ended up booking small venues in the Midlands. From there I moved into becoming a promoter rep and then eventually that evolved into a production manager
WHAT CHALLENGES HAVE YOU FACED WHILST BUILDING YOUR CAREER? Only personal challenges such a managing my workload, I’ve been lucky so far.
WHAT CORE SKILLS ARE PARTICULARLY IMPORTANT TO HAVE, AS A PERSON WORKING IN THE LIVE MUSIC INDSUSTRY? Dedication
ARE THERE ANY COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT WORK IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO CLARIFY? It’s a job. There’s some glamorous parts and some very rewarding moments but if you see it as anything other than hard work then you’re likely to fail.
WHAT IS YOUR BEST ADVICE FOR ANYONE WHO WANT TO MAKE MUSIC THEIR CAREER? Just do it!
WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR WHEN YOU'RE BOOKING AN ARTIST? I don’t book acts these days. When I did, it was purely a commercial decision – can they sell enough tickets to warrant the fee. If I solely booked bands I liked, I’d have become bankrupt in a week.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR MOST FAVOURITE SHOW TO WORK ON? Toss up between the Rolling Stones, Erasure or Alice Cooper.
WHAT IS YOUR MOST FAVOURITE VENUE TO WORK IN? The O2 Arena, London
WHAT WAS THE LAST SHOW YOU WENT TO FOR PLEASURE? Mel Greggain at The Bedford
WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN MOSTLY LISTENING TO THIS WEEK? Alex Chilton
WHAT IS YOUR PROUDEST ACHEIVEMENT SO FAR? The C2C (Country 2 Country) Festival at The O2. It very nearly didn’t happen in its current format but I believed in the concept, made it happen and now it’s a flagship event, responsible for generating a new market for country music in the UK.