Following on our industry-focussed blog space grabbing the sage thoughts and artist advice from our distinct list of music pros, we speak to promoter Andy Carr, founder of The Kids Are Solid Gold, co-promoter for Twisterella Festival & booker at Stockton Calling.
What’s Your Story Andy?
I’ve always been a music obsessive and an indie-kid at heart and, after moving back to Teesside from Tyneside, I set up TKASG back in 2007 with my business partner, Phil Carey. We mainly promote in Middlesbrough, Newcastle upon Tyne, and Stockton on Tees but in recent times have also promoted shows in York, Leeds and London. Around six and a half years ago we also got together to set up Twisterella Festival which we co-own and co-promote with our partner, Henry Carden. I also book for Stockton Calling and co-promote the Songs From Northern Britain showcase with TMA.
What Does Your Day To Day Work Look Like?
I’m actually a teacher in my ‘proper’ job so my music-related work typically consists of early morning emails and listening to a Spotify compilation playlist on the way to work then maybe a quick lunch time email or two if I’m not on duty or doing extra sessions for the exam classes. Then it’s late evening or late-night emails. Planning meetings for Twisterella & Songs From Northern Britain and such like tend to be squeezed in at the end of the working day or in school holidays. Fortunately my co-promoter colleagues and venue managers are happy to be flexible with meeting times.
How Do You Generally Discover New Music?
I tend to discover new music via any number of sources. Streaming plays a big part in this but these days I get a lot of music sent to me from artists, artist managers, booking agents and artist-pals of acts I’ve previously booked. Not everything that I get sent will always appeal but a good introductory email will always ensure that the music gets a fair listen. Also, I always follow a recommendation and always aim to catch all of the supports at any non-TKASG shows that I go to. I do tend to put a lot of playlists together of acts who I’m keeping an eye and ear on and once I’ve heard enough from them and am sufficiently confident in how they are progressing I will usually look to reach out and offer them a suitable slot on either one of our regular shows or on one of the festivals that we book.
What Advice Would You Give To Artists Just Starting Out?
Ensure that you are well-rehearsed. Work hard and do the right things by being pro-active and positive in your local scene. Try not to play too many local shows, in spite of how difficult or tempting it may be, and make sure you stick around and support the other acts on any bill that you are playing on. Get a good one sheet for use in your introductory emails and make sure any emails that you send are personalised as far as you possibly can. Also, avoid sending out links to any rough demo tracks – make sure the recordings you send out are as polished as they can be. Basically, just make sure that any communications are a good representation of what you’re about. Also, be sure to attend relevant industry events where you can meet and network with other likeminded musicians. With that in mind, be sure to attend the Twisterella conference!
How Do You Decide Whether To Book A New Act Or Not? What Do You Look Out For?
Ultimately it comes down to whether I like the music or not – that’s the number one factor. There are so many exciting new acts out there and, with the greatest will in the world, you can’t promote everyone. I have to prioritise which acts I want us to work with and consider how we might help them build an audience in the north east. Beyond that, it’s always good if the act is releasing around the time of the show. When showcasing newer national acts for shows which are part of a tour there’s usually some national promo which comes into play. If you know there’s a national campaign then it helps a lot. A good alternative strategy for helping to build acts who are working towards a higher national profile is to offer them slots as part of a festival line up. This is a great way of helping them build towards a headline show of their own.
Finally, What Track Do You Have On Repeat At The Moment?
There’s a few at the moment:
Roe was my most-played artist of last year. She’s currently opening for Snow Patrol on their arena tour and is a huge talent.
Plastic Mermaids are headlining our stage at this year’s Stockton Calling. Their debut album is released soon and they’re hugely popular in the north east. Brand new track, 1996, is ace and comes with this rather wonderful video.
I’ve also being listening to a lot of The Howl & The Hum, The Snuts, Kioko, LaKyoto, Carla J Easton, VC Pines and Fontaines DC recently too.