What do you do in the Scottish Music Scene?
So I have a few roles really. I run AGP which is my own promotions company and agency. With that I book shows and tours across Scotland for bands. I’m also booking agent for Mark Morriss of The Bluetones, Nieves and The Youth & Young, booking most of their UK gigs and festivals. Away from AGP, I am Entertainment Manager at The Tunnels and Cafe Drummond in Aberdeen, handling bookings and the diary there. It all sort of overlaps really but everyday is different.
What made you want to get involved?
I’ve always been into music and gigs but the actual job sort of happened by accident. I basically put on a show at Tunnels for a friends band and it all went pretty well. I think I must have caught the bug and things sort of fell into place by themselves. Firstly I was asked to help out on some more shows at the venue and then eventually got taken on doing all of the bookings. With AGP it was sort of the same with more and more bands coming to me to do shows and it all went from there until I eventually did it full time. It was one of those right place, right time kind of things I guess.
What’s the best thing about the Scottish Music Scene?
I think there is a brilliant “team spirit” about it on the whole. Right now in particular I think there are so many amazing bands coming out of Scotland, and I think more than ever that everyone seems to stick together. There’s various little scenes that seem to work brilliantly together e.g The Ninth Wave/Lucia & The Best Boys/Walt Disco and then there’s the likes of Baby Strange & Rascalton etc. I’ve always thought the best way to make a success of things are for bands to come together so it’s great to see that going on just now.
Did anybody help you get started in the Scottish Music Scene?
I think there’s loads of people over the years who have helped me in different ways. More experienced people at Tunnels at the start, then as things kicked off you learn more and more from each show whether that be from a band itself or their crew/management/agent etc. As I say every day is different in this job so you are always learning. There’s been loads of meetings and random chats with people who work elsewhere and you are always listening for tips on how to improve I think. I think the role is one that is very much a ‘learn as you go’ type thing. I would never say even after nearly 15 years of doing it, that I’ve stopped learning.
Who inspires you in the Scottish Music Scene?
I think you always aim for the top so I guess other promoters and agents who are putting on massive shows. I’ve built up through 80 cap to 300 cap to 650 cap shows and obviously you are always trying to develop and promote artists to get more and more fans at their shows. So yeah I think just seeing the levels that are possible is an encouragement. I think I also look at venue owners as somewhere I’d like to eventually get to. The ultimate aim would be to own my own grassroots venue although admittedly I’m pretty glad that hadn’t happened before covid!
Who’s your favourite Scottish Artist?
That’s such a tough one. I genuinely love so many Scottish bands and artists. Everyone I work with and book are bands I personally enjoy and am proud of. If I had to pick one I’d probably go for The Ninth Wave at the moment. Right from the start there was just something that hit home with them and I’ve loved seeing them develop and rise up. I’m really excited to see what the future holds for them. Like I say though there are countless others who are equally exciting.
What advice would you give to somebody wanting to get involved?
Just get out there and get experience really. Whatever role you fancy, there will always be a promoter, venue or band that will let you tag along to learn the ropes. I think the hands on experience is vital and the best way to learn. Always listen and learn from others too. A great example of that I always use is a friend of mine, Bob Munro, who now techs for some amazing artists across the world including Blossoms. He is super talented but met them by coming to a show they did at Tunnels and offering to help. Clearly they were impressed and now he is with them and others full time. I guess the point I’m making is just to put yourself out there and you never know where you’ll end up.
Things to avoid doing when starting out in the music industry?
I think the one thing I regret is following my heart too much. It’s a very tough industry and at the beginning I was very much into booking bands that I sat and listened to on my own at home. Unfortunately when it came to booking a few of them, it meant I was listening to them on my own in a venue too – but having to lose a lot more cash haha! It’s obviously great to book bands you love, but you have to be sensible about it too. But to be honest, it was still fun and as I say as long as you learn from mistakes it’s all good.
The best bit of advice you’ve received?
Again there’s probably been loads of little things that have helped. I think being from a smaller city than Glasgow or Edinburgh though, I’d maybe say the best advice centred around confidence. It can be daunting at the start when there are big national promoters etc, but at the end of the day you have to know you are good at what you are doing and trust your own ability.
INDUSTRY INSIDER | BEHIND THE SCENES WITH ROSS CALDER
What do you do in the Scottish Music Scene?