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In the second part of our interview with Craig Bright we chat about the hard business lessons he’s learnt over the years, the importance of being backed by a good, trustworthy team and whether or not he’ll ever venture into festival waters again.
TC: Taking into consideration all the different promoters, agents and brands that you’ve interacted with over the years, what are some of the really hard lessons that you’ve learnt?
CB: I’ve learnt what works and what doesn’t. We [Seed Experiences] put all our eggs into one basket with Sonar, which I won’t do again. Keeping a lean business is also very important, we grew too fast at Seed. In this day and age everyone is trying to be bigger and better than the next guy, when is enough, enough? I want to keep things simple, these days for me, “less is more”. I work hard, I work smart I have no offices, no permanent staff, subcontract the best team in the business and when the shows are done we all go our separate ways until the next one. You need to enjoy your successes and learn from your failures.
These days I don’t rush any of my decisions, I take time to think about who I’m going to bring out and at what time and at what price. Timing has to be perfect. We’ve been trying to get Incubus for four or five years. I’ve been chatting to their agent in L.A. for that long. When I booked The Lumineers I was working on that job for three years before we landed them. I did have a team behind me but I was doing all of the negotiating myself so I established key relationships with the artists. When I started again I was like, shit can I actually do this? For me relationships are key, that’s what your business is, your relationships and the team that you have around you.
TC: Do you feel like you trust the team that you have around you now?
CB: Yes, I have the most amazing team, they are like family to me. Luke Armstrong (Savage and Strong) was our production manager on Daisies for seven years, he is the best in the business and the salt of the earth. I couldn’t trust a man more on this planet. He still manages our production with Julia (the “Savage” in the “Savage and Strong”). Then there is Craig (Reid) who looks after our technical, Hagar (Graiser) who runs our hospitality, Charlotte (Kanter) our socials, Anneke (du Plessis) our PR and then finally there is Jono Inggs, who is a whole other story (big laugh). He is so good at his job he is actually the best man at one of the members of The Lumineers’ wedding. There are heaps of others, but that’s our main crew who I love and respect dearly. In this day and age you can’t trust everyone…
TC: Apart from your team?
CB: Exactly. You’ve got to keep your cards very close to your chest. It’s cutthroat. There needs to be more cooperation with promoters in this country. There’s enough space for everyone to play in and rather not undermine and undercut, but work together and respect each other’s space.
TC: So who are some of the promoters that you hold in high esteem with regards to the way that they conduct themselves and their business?
CB: Tony Feldman (Showtime Events) and Shaun Duvet (Ultra Music Festival), they’re very open and honest and they’re just cool dudes. Andy Mac (AMP Events) is always very approachable, he’s the type of dude you can pick up the phone and have a good chat with, he gives great advice. There is Tom Pearson-Adams (Delicious), a great guy, someone I have heaps of respect for. I think you’ve got to learn from each other all the time. I have done one or two projects with Damon Forbes from Breakout, he is a stalwart in the music industry and has a wealth of knowledge.
Then there are the purists like Richard (Marshall), Bruno (Morphet), Holly Jade (Courtney) and Werner (Rontgen), the team behind Wolfkop, one of my favourite festivals in South Africa. It’s personal, intimate, just a beautiful music festival that is built on love and passion. Up the Creek was one of my first festival experiences, I love what Annie and her team are doing year in and year out. Thiago Kanan, my crazy Brazilian partner, the guy behind Kinky Disco. He has more passion about music and parties than an Argentinian football fan, I just love the guy. We are partnering up together to bring Elrow to SA, it was voted the craziest and best party in the world last year. Lastly I need to mention the Sunroom team, Andrew (Florenca) and Will (Hutton), they’re the party architects, they bring the parties to life with personalities and performing artists. They have to be my favorite guys to work with, it’s a laugh a minute.
TC: Do you think that you’ll ever do something festival-orientated again, apart from Vic Falls Carnival obviously.
CB: I think it’s a big investment from a time perspective. You don’t just come in and do a festival and get 15 000 people attending. But I could potentially do something again, definitely. Who knows, maybe we’re already working on something ‘spectacular’ [Smiles broadly].
TC: How many people were at the first Rocking The Daisies?
CB: We sold 350 tickets and we had a total of about 700 people attending. Myself and Brian (Little) actually dry hired the fencing (hire of fencing but not the installation), so we had to put it up ourselves. On the first farm where we had Daisies there was a massive dam and we were very optimistic that thousands of people were going to come. So we decided to fence the whole dam in as well. We put up 2 km of fencing – for 700 people [Laughs]. At the end of the day we lost a lot of money but we didn’t look at it as a loss, we looked at it as an investment.
But I’ve learnt a lot over the years travelling to different festivals and hosting my own. Do you know that the average age of a Glastonbury attendee is 39? Last year I went I met a guy who was 59 years old and he told me it was his first Glastonbury. That’s what festivals are all about – inclusion.
Check out Part 1 of our interview with Craig Bright.
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