Outside Interest: making and promoting music

Written by: Jez Abbott
Published on: 12 Nov 2014

Dominic, leftNathaniel Lichfield & Partners' planner Dominic Holding talks about his enthusiasm for playing the guitar.

How did you get into being a musician?

I asked for a guitar for Christmas when I was aged 10; then my parents agreed to pay for lessons. As soon as I was able to remotely play anything on my instrument, I began to strum with other people. From then on it just started to roll. I'm into a variety of stuff, but what really does it for me is the Indie Rock/Alternative scene.

What does it involve?

Getting together with a team of musicians to write music and fine tune a live set takes up a lot of the time. I work with promoters, other artists and venues to put on, take part in and promote live shows. We work with sound engineers in studios to record our tracks and try to market them in as many ways as possible. It requires practice and networking and lugging round a lot of heavy gear.

Why do you do it?

It sounds a bit of a cliché, but music is something I can completely lose myself in. When I pick up an instrument, I can be a million miles away within seconds. 

What’s the toughest thing about it?

The hardest part is getting off the ground: bringing a team together to produce music of a quality and style you are all happy with is both a feat and an accomplishment. A long time ago, musicians were  primarily “scouted” or “discovered”, while being “signed” was your ticket that you’d made it. The music industry has changed. Promoters, record labels and venues want assurance you already have a following of paying fans before they take an interest. Meanwhile, a lot of music venues are struggling to make ends meet, and this can make it difficult for bands starting out to get anywhere. Overcoming these challenges requires perseverance, a bit of creativity and a lot of hard work. Staying motivated as a team to work through this is the biggest challenge as a musician. 

What’s the most rewarding thing about it?

When you play your music live and get a good reception from people it gives you such a buzz. It can be daunting at times, trying to push your demos on to people in the street, while playing to passive crowds makes you think maybe the music just doesn’t interest people. And then you play a gig, people come alive and its an amazing feeling, even if there’s just 20 people in the room.

Are there any similarities between your day job and your role as a musician?

Absolutely, I think in terms of the hard work, diligence, and pro-active marketing that is necessary to promote your offering. As a private-sector consultancy it’s our job at Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners to go out there and win people's interest, and earn their respect through consistent delivery. Simply being good planners, just like being good musicians, is not enough. 

Do you have any unusual interests or hobbies that you would like to tell us about? If so, please email planning@haymarket.com