Interview with Daniel Ealam, Director of Live, DHP Family ahead of the Artist & Manager Awards 2018

DHP Family and Kilimanjaro Live are jointly to receive the FanFair Alliance Award for their outstanding contribution to Live Music. We interviewed Daniel Ealam, Director of Live, DHP Family ahead of the Artist & Manager Awards on the 14th November.

Hi Dan, big congratulations on your win at the Artist & Manager Awards, can you tell us a little more about DHP Family?

Thank you so much, it means a lot to all of us at DHP Family!

DHP Family is a UK national concert promoter and venue operator. The original core of the company started with venues in Nottingham in the 1980’s onwards, then Bristol with the Thekla 12 years ago, which is when things started growing fast. Around that time we started promoting shows across the country for the first time. Our ethical philosophy was refreshing to many and we were able to attract a lot of likeminded artists, managers and agents and really organically the company grew to become one of the biggest UK promoters. The recent purchase of The Garage, Borderline and Oslo – all in London, established us as a national venue operator.

What’s your own background, and when did you join the company?

I have worked for the company for 17 years now, having supported myself financially with a bar job at Rock City while I did a degree in English at Nottingham University. At the same time I also had a regional scout job for Island Records and was the Music Editor of the Nottingham Uni magazine. George [Akins] and Anton [Lockwood] saw that I was immersed in the local scene and took me on as a manager in the Nottingham venues when I graduated, working up to the role of General Manager of Rock City quickly. My passion was always the live side of the business and so when the company started promoting shows outside of our venues I became a promoter and looked after the marketing side of George and Anton’s shows. Fast forward a few years to now and we have come a long, long way, with an awesome team of passionate promoters and support staff, and a much expanded roster of venues.

What kind of events are DHP currently working on?

I’m really excited about the Ed Sheeran shows that we are doing in 2019 – a set of huge hometown shows in Ipswich and Leeds that will bring the very exciting Divide era to a close. The War On Drugs this December at The O2 is going to be a really special moment with one of the best bands on the planet playing to their biggest crowd yet. We start booking our metropolitan tastemaker festivals – Dot To Dot Festival (Manchester, Bristol and Nottingham) + Mirrors (London) in earnest at this time of the year, looking at the most exciting new acts for next year. We’re also well into booking our Cardiff Castle series and our big DHP hometown festival Splendour goes from strength to strength, plus we are excited to add some new events to your diaries soon, so watch this space!

You’ve won the FanFair award alongside Kilimanjaro for the work you’ve both done in combatting exploitative secondary ticketing – why do you think online touting is such a problem?

The internet has changed the world in so many ways and many of these are for the better, but unfortunately it has also given unscrupulous people the opportunity to buy tickets (with no intention of actually going to these shows) on an industrial scale, to the detriment of the fans, the people who make the musical world spin. Having dealt with so many customers over the years that have paid over the odds to sites they were duped to think were “official”, often with additional charges being dumped on the transaction very late in the day, I can tell you that there’s nothing fair in allowing these practises to continue.

Managers for artists such as Ed Sheeran, Iron Maiden, Mumford & Sons, Nick Cave and Arctic Monkeys have all vocally supported the FanFair campaign and taken active measures to mitigate touting – what advice would you give to small-scale artists?

Any act’s relationship with its fans is more vital than ever and if you look after them, they will look after you. Fair ticketing is a big part of growing this relationship. Bring a great live act isn’t now just about how great you are on stage or how good the songs are, there’s also a responsibility to ensure that your fans are looked after and given the respect they deserve and that in turn will be a factor that allows you to grow your live business.

What’s your big hope for ticketing and live music in the next 12 months?

Seeing various unethical secondary platforms close down this year has been great, and we hope that those that are left follow soon. I would hope that the next 12 months brings more legislation to help us protect fans, and also that existing legislation is properly enforced – especially with regards companies that hide themselves out of the country and stick two fingers up at the people that make the rules here. I hope that internet search engines support us more as well. Hopefully further utilisation of advancements in technology mean that we can do more ourselves to protect the journey of a “ticket” from promoter to music fan.

Aside from the unethical ticketing issues we still face, diversity in the industry is something that we need to do more about, especially with regards to the people running companies.

And finally, looking into your crystal ball, which artist do you anticipate will break big in 2019?

We use this crystal ball to book Dot To Dot and Mirrors every year! Some awesome acts looking likely to have huge 2019 at our end include Easy Life, Freya Ridings, Fontaines DC, Sports Team and Yellow Days.

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