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CHAPTER FOUR – Phew…I’m glad that’s over!

Have you ever tried dealing with music agents and booking 24 artists/bands? No? Well, I suggest EVERYONE should spend at least 3 months giving it a full time go and then they’ll fully appreciate how ‘normal and stressless’ their lives really were before they started!

In fact the very small number of people, the same usual handful of suspects (who spend all their time on websites loving to moan nothing ever happens on the Isle of Man and ‘how rubbish it is here’ and then as soon as something does they spend all their time loving to try to ‘rubbish it’….it’s a shame really, I genuinely feel sorry for them as they really do need to do something positive with their lives that actually contribute to improving the quality of Island live…we ALL need to do our bit!) should actually run THEIR own festivals. After all, it is free world….nothing stopping them…..in fact, I can give them a whole load of telephone numbers and email addresses of a whole load of agents to get them started! (you read it here first!)

Well, there you go, what else could I really have expected? Raise your head above the parapet? ‘Get…. back….in…. the…. basket….. yessir!’ In fact I find negative comments very inspirational, it gives me that extra spur I need to get me even quicker off my backside (JLS stands for (did I tell you JLS are coming to the IOM next year?…not sure where they are on it but I’ll get back to you (also did I tell you we are going to run a comp early in the New Year and the winners get to meet JLS? No? as I say, I’ll get back to you) …anyway JLS stands for Jack the Lad Swings! Well, I’m JFY, Jack Flash Yessir. Boy, when I get going just watch out, you won’t see me for the dust. In fact, I’m so crazy no one in their right mind would get up at 3.30am to write this rubbish (oh no, I’ve just done a ‘Gerald Ratner’!! Damn, too late now….spoken word, sped arrow and all that…oh, just remembered I’m typing this…does anyone know how the delete button works? It just goes forward on mine).

Anyway, what was I saying? Oh yes, in 2007, for the Peel Bay Festival, I was deluged with comments from the ‘yessirs’ (yes I am part of the ethnic minority, my mother’s maiden name was Quirk and my relatives have lived in Peel for seven trillion years. In fact organising things has always been a genetic defect in the Quirk ancestry, my very first relatives in Peel were heavily into the clubbing scene here, usually on the Vikings!)…where was I, oh yes – mainly circulating around ‘you’ve bitten off more than you can chew this time fella’ (as I used to organise Viking Festivals (keeping the clubbing genetic instinct going) on Peel Beach for a few years, building entire forts etc, culminating in bringing over one year one of the stages from the Glastonbury festival and building it on Peel Beach and having 2 ‘tribute nights’ with 7,000 people attending over the two nights. In fact, as soon as I came up with that idea I had even more soothsayers saying “that’s total rubbish that”, “I’m not buying any tickets as it’ll never happen” etc. I think you are getting the flavor/direction by now this is heading.

Anyway I found years ago when I first started trying to do my bit to turn the fortunes/perception of Peel around by renovating/ building sympathetically in the conversation area of this fair city (at a time when most people genuinely twinned Peel with the wastes of Higher Foxdale) that I had people saying to me I was ruining Peel… by trying to save these old buildings falling into the ground. When I converted the ‘Viking Longhouse’ (a very visible old Victorian warehouse that lost its roof about 50 years ago and the residue left was rapidly falling apart and giving any visitors to Peel an impression that Peel is a ‘complete dump’ and explains the reason I had to discount house prices when I first start by 15% compared to Douglas as no one wanted to move here) there was actually an article printed in the local ‘rag’ saying I should leave it alone as it was part of Peel’s ‘heritage’. In fact, the structural engineer’s report stated that this piece of ‘heritage’ was going to be a pile of ‘heritage’ sandstone if nothing was done to the building within 18 months.

So I learned a long, long time ago that I can’t please all the people all the time. So why am I organizing the Manx Telecom Bay Festival with my son, Jamie (ably supported by Cheryl)? I just don’t know, answers please on a postcard! No, no, yes, yes, yes….yes I do know, I’m just trying to improve the quality of life on the Island (that is why I renovated/saved old buildings in Peel at a time when I was taking a hit of 15% on prices in Peel compared to Douglas when it would have cost me the same money to renovate property in Douglas as it did in Peel).

I’ve never set out to win any popularity polls (probably just as well!), but what I did set out to achieve with the Manx Telecom Bay Festival was giving the people of the Isle of Man, some on incomes that cannot afford the prohibitive costs associated with seeing major artists across in the UK, the ‘big’ festival experience and seeing a full range (24 artists/bands) on their doorstep. (Yes there is also the instinctive desire to recoup some of the massive losses associated with the PBF in 2007! If we turn this around we can all go clubbing). Anyway, why should the Isle of Man be disadvantaged? We should be able to showcase to the rest of the world that the Isle of Man is as good (if not better) than anywhere else!

Go on name me an artist, any artist/band (that most people will have heard of), go on and I’ll tell you who the agent is and why they are not available (even most of this took me 3 months to find out as most (not all, I’m not tarring here) but most agents don’t respond to 1,2,3,4,5,6… (you get the idea?) emails and/or 1,2,3,4,5,6… (I think you’ve got the picture now!) phone calls. However one agent, who proved extremely helpful when I finally worked my way through the maze, who is part of the largest music agency in the world, said to me 4 weeks ago (which just added to the stress levels but made me realise I wasn’t alone) that ALL promoters are worried about next year as the VAST majority of artists/bands are off the road. They may consider one-offs but want a big premium which pushes the fee level way beyond most venues budgets apart from the larger festivals. However, it would have been just as easy and less frustrating for most of these non-respondent agents to send me a quick email saying ‘not available’ and then job ‘sorted’ rather than me clogging their inboxes up or switchboard. Still, the Lord moves in mysterious ways.

Now the best investment I made six weeks into this battle, which I purely stumbled across by sheer good fortune, is this American software package that tells me who the agents are for which artist anywhere in the world, who their manager is, record company with all the contact details and inside leg measurements. It also gives me the Box Office history of where they have played over the last few years, the size of the venue, the percentage of tickets sold to venue size etc. That was an absolute Godsend. You name me an artist/band any artist/band and I can tell you all, however, what it didn’t tell me was how to get that agent to respond! “Hello, can I speak to Razor Smith?”, “He’s in a meeting at the moment please send him an email (stock reply!)”, “I’ve already sent him 6!”, “Well send him another one”…I think you are getting a clearer idea now!

Anyway, those problems are now behind me for this year (but most of the major artists are back out in 2011) and I’ve got to say (even though I say it myself!) I’m WELL pleased with the eventual artist line-up!! (you can’t see this but I’m actually patting myself on my back…my clubbing ancestors will be very proud…). This line-up literally provides something for EVERYONE! This festival could never be just aimed at just ONE musical interest as It would be financial suicide. However, I feel we have the mix absolutely right.

So the 2010 festival is going to be fantastic, not only do we have some fantastic artists but we have all sorts of improvements on the PBF 2007: the stage next time will be 40 metres wide (20 metres before), 4 massive projection screens, one either side of the stage and 2 above the mojo barriers halfway down the tent (2 only smaller ones in 2007 by the stage), more camera positions, more lights to give the ‘shock and awe’ effect, stage effects such as ice fountains, smoke machines, glitter cannons, pyrotechnics etc. This is to add the ‘WOW’ factor to the X-factor and the Y factor (Y indeed?) to the ‘shock and awe’ factor for every single day…oh, it’s all getting very exciting!

I’m pleased to report that tickets are selling very well with a number of products already sold out. People are really voting with their feet! As I write this ‘Gerald Ratner’ early morning of 27th November 2009 we only have a handful of Gold seats left for JLS, plus a few hundred Silver seats and some standing. NOT MANY PEOPLE KNOW THIS! But a lot of people think that Friday 18th June it is just purely JLS performing for a short while. They do between 75 and 90 minutes but we have another 2 special surprise artists/bands performing, in addition, to fill up the 3.5/4 hour evening. These very special guests will be announced in February.

‘Sizzling Saturday’ (8 sensational hours and 6 sizzling bands) does not go on sale to pre-registered (get registered!) until 1st December and on general sale from 8 am on 2nd December so I obviously can’t report on those sales. What I can tell you is since Jamie went on Manx Radio yesterday morning and did a really sterling job announcing that the iconic and legendary band Spandau Ballet are headlining (more than ably supported by Calvin Harris and The Feeling etc) we experienced a massive spike in hits on our website which is indicative of the interest shown.

For the ‘X Factor Meets Britain’s Got Talent’ all the Gold seats are completely sold out, in fact, that happened after only a few days of going on sale and that is on top of the 500 extras we decided to introduce as blocks were selling out. Side Standing is now close to capacity and Rear Standing is also rapidly filling up.

For the ‘Last Night in the Stonkin’ Park’ party (all standing as a big party night with non-stop wall to wall hits from the 80’s and loads of dancing and sing-alongs…going to be a fantastic night) is now 50% sold out.

Don’t miss the show (literally) please book early! Did I mention what excellent value for money the Festival Ticket is? Including the booking fee, it works out at £5.56 to see each artist/band for an adult and £5.15 for a child under 16. Any of these tickets make a wonderful Christmas/birthday present etc and for a small extra cost, you can even personalize your gift.

So tune in next time for “Good God…. it’s like the Gestapo have arrived”. I might actually finish this story one day….. Support us so we can grow year on year!!!

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