Behind every successful artist is a team of people who have supported them from the start of their journey, when the venues weren’t so full and the crowds not so loud. Someone who knows all too well about this is Mark Bowers.
In his role as Head of Careers and Industry at BIMM Institute Bristol, he works with artists right at the beginning of their journeys, helping them to find their direction, develop strategies, work on the business side of things, and generally ensure they are equipped with everything they need to find their way in this ever-changing, fast-paced industry.
Mark has a wealth of experience in the music industry, with years of experience in artist management and development, working with global bands and artists including Oasis and Emeli Sandé.
Read on as we go #BackstageWith Mark Bowers.
What inspired you to get into the music industry and more specifically, a career around helping music students and aspiring artists?
Growing up I always wanted to be a drummer. My big sister’s boyfriend was a drummer, and he was amazing - seeing him tour and perform got me hooked! I quickly found myself being more interested in what happened behind the stage rather than on it. I was fascinated by how it all ran and how many people were involved in getting an artist to that stage. Alongside drumming in my teens, I started working with a few youth charities using music to help struggling young people. For anyone who does this work today I have the utmost respect for.
Most of my music career has been in promoting and management. My favourite part of this has always been seeing super talented new artists develop and I have had the privilege of going on some amazing journeys with some of these.
What would you say are the most important areas to focus on in artist development?
It is very hard to pick an area here as each artist is so different. It's about getting to know them, working out where they need support and where they just need to be let go. It can be a tricky balance. If you were to push me, I'd say start with the music. The song has to be king!
What tips and advice would you give to emerging artists trying to get their big break?
I'd say forget about the big break. The big break will take care of itself. If you focus on writing and performing just to please one music exec you are missing it. I’d say spend time finding your own voice, your own way. Don’t rush this stage. Enjoy it - it's the most important part.
What is one of your most favourite moments from working in the music industry?
I’d have to say my favourite memory was Oasis at Wembley Stadium. I was two weeks into working for Metropolis Music and they were promoting what came to be Oasis’ last ever show. My job was in artist liaison looking after Liam and Noel. Each show I’d walk them onto stage and listen to the 85,000 people go wild - quite the experience!
What have you learned from your own experience that you pass on to your students?
No.1 is simple: If you want to go far, don’t be a d*ck. The music industry is quite a small place, everyone knows each other. If you treat people well, if you are helpful, if you are nice, considerate, and thankful, your name will be passed around and opportunities will come your way. I have had many jobs in the industry, and they have all come through good words and recommendations of others.
From your incredible experience running Crosstown Management, what would you say are the top “musts” for putting on a showstopping event?
Our job is to provide the space for an artist to be all they can be. There are so many things that go into this, but we have to be well prepared and well organised. The artist needs to feel confident that you have everything in hand, even when things go wrong. This way they can focus on being the artist.
What do you love most about Bristol’s music scene?
So much! Probably how diverse it is. The first ever shows I promoted in Bristol were D&B nights at Bar Latino. These ran every Monday night… yes, every Monday! Arguably the worst night of the week to try and run a club but they were amazing, queues around the corner!
First gig, last gig, favourite gig?
First – Bryan Adams. Last – Idles. Fav – MEW
Can you name a song that can instantly boost your mood?
MEW – Comforting Sounds. Its 8:53 long and if you are ever fed up / stressed listen to this in full and feel it all disappear.
Which artist/band/performer would you like to see perform at YTL Arena Bristol and why?
We managed a Bristol artist called Keir. I have worked with so many artists but very few I believe will go as far as this one.
And finally, can you share an all-time favourite song/ a song that means a lot to you so we can add it to our YTL Arena Backstage Pass playlist?
Nneka – Heartbeat. I have only promoted one show for her in my career, but she was incredible.