“You Have to Love Music” – ATC Management’s Neil Simpson

3 May, 2016

The music industry is rapidly changing, and nobody knows this better than Neil Simpson.

Neil is an artist manager at ATC Management (Faithless, PJ Harvey, Nick Cave). We recently invited him to BIMM Manchester to talk about management in the digital age.

Neil has enjoyed lots of success over the years, from starting his own management operation, to representing Brother and Bones, to managing one of the biggest bands on the planet in Catfish and The Bottlemen.

I always knew music was my calling, and I made sure I was surrounded by it,” he tells BIMM Manchester’s Head of Music Business, Mike Burgess.“I did anything to be involved with music from a young age.”

Neil spoke openly about his background, including his early beginnings as a singer-songwriter, and shared some valuable advice for those looking to make a career in management.

“You have to trust your ears and eyes and instinct, and above all, at the core of it, you have to love music.”

Talk later turned to the ever-changing music industry and the skills needed in the digital age of music. “We are living in an Internet revolution, and this is a changing industry – we live in a playlist age now, and you need the ability to adapt,” he urged.

According to Neil, the power has shifted from record labels. As a result, manufactured pop artists are becoming a thing of the past. He spoke of the importance of working with musicians that are further developed in their image, sound and their approach to the industry. Artist proposition – the effect, branding, style, etc. – also plays a crucial role.

It’s about knowing what this is [artist proposition], having excellent music of course, but also honing stylistically your branding so that the audience can engage with, and wish to be associated with your brand,”

he told our eager BIMM students.

Neil covered the full gamut of the music industry, lending his thoughts to the various music deals available to artists, before taking questions from our BIMM students.

The audience were full of fantastic questions, which covered a broad spectrum of topics.

On the subject of what managers need to do to adapt to the digital world, Neil spoke about the importance of incorporating good digital marketing into the artist promotion process. As for creating revenue for new artists – another question from the floor – our guest gave his thoughts on the importance of capitalising on live shows, merchandise, and PRS.

We caught up with BIMM students Sam Southeran (BA1 Music Business) and Rachel Yielder (BA2 Music Business) to get their thoughts on the session.

Sam said:

“I asked for advice about revenue for a new artist. Neil offered some great tips on website appeal and mailing lists that I had never thought of before. He pinpointed the importance of getting direct fan income, which will be really useful moving forward.”

Rachel said:

“It was great to hear the point of view from someone really working in the industry, on the music business side of things.I asked about managing others, and Neil gave a really interesting insight into the development and changing hands of power. He showed there to be many interested ways to get involved in the digital age of music management.”

Overall, the session was intriguing and informative and gave our BIMM Manchester students a fantastic insight into the world of music management, and the importance of staying relevant.


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