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Thursday, 3 December 2009

Pinnacle 1 Year On

So, a year ago, everything changed. The men in grey suits marched in to Pinnacle, and told us all that the Company was being put into Administration. 3 hours later, we were all out of a job. People say to me now, yes but surely you must have had an inkling that it was coming? But we didn't. Despite all the chaos going on in the Industry - including the collapse of EUK a week earlier, we thought ourselves to be safe. A new MD had recently been appointed and he had reassured us all that the finances were in place and that we could be confident of the future. It just didn't seem possible that a Company the size of Pinnacle could just collapse like that.
Losing a job I loved was a terrible blow, but the worst of it was losing friends.
It took a few days for the whole thing to sink in - to try and get organized and fill in paperwork, sort out appointments with the dole office, talking for hours on the phone with friends in the Industry who were just as shocked as we were. The routines we were used to all gone, new ones now had to be established. Christmas 3 weeks later gave you a false sense of reality. Because everyone was on holiday, it didnt feel like much had changed. Christmas presents had already been bought, plans had been made. So it was easy to feel like everything was normal. Apart from the signing on at the dole office - which really did bring it home to you. Oh, and when they came to pick up my Company Car. That was a low moment.
Reality only really reared it's head in January, when everyone headed back to work.

2009 has been a very challenging year - but I am still here, surviving. I have a very different type of work routine now, but me being me, I have been very pragmatic and disciplined. Though things are not easy, I am proud of what I have achieve so far in setting up my own Company, and working with a new set of artists. It some ways it is very liberating - but I do miss that regular pay slip! But on the other hand I have met some great people this year that I wouldn't have, but for Emjaymedia and I am still able to work in the industry I love. Hopefully this year has laid the foundations for next.
I miss Pinnacle, but I regret none of it. 16 fantastic years, working with some amazing artists and labels - enjoying being able to have No1 albums and singles as an Independent - and making the best friends it is possible to have.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

V 2009

So, another V Festival has come and gone. V2009 was not a vintage year in terms of the line up. In comparison to the other Festivals - Glastonbury, Big Chill, Reading etc - V has always has a slightly safe and mainstream booking policy. This year was no exception, even before Oasis pulled out. With many of the acts making 3rd and 4th appearances at the Festival, it all had a very familiar and slightly dull look about it. And with 1 stage less this year, there was even less chance of seeing something surprising or new. That said, for those wanting to sit in front of the main stage all day, Lily Allen, The Killers, Elbow, Snow Patrol offered great entertainment - I just look for something more than that.
Fortunately the weather over the weekend was fantastic and gave a feel good back drop to the whole event, everyone was in a good mood. Laying in the sun with a cold(ish) beer listening to music, and eating overpriced noodles - thats what a Festival is all about!

My biggest gripe however was the dreadful organization at the start of the weekend. I queued up at 11.30 on Saturday as I wanted to see EXIT CALM play at 12.15 in the Virgin Mobile tent. At 12.05 the gates were opened ( 5 mins late). 30 mins later we had hardly moved. 45 mins in, and we had shuffled forward enough to see the entry lanes. Of course by now, I had missed EXIT CALM's set, and the 2nd act I wanted to see, MR HUDSON, was on stage. The frustration in the crowd was growing, booing and slow hand clapping had begun. Someone on the gates finally understood that there was a potential problem growing. As if by magic, restrictions were suddenly lifted and finally we started to move. At 1.10 ( 80 mins after the gates were officially open) I was finally in! I saw MR HUDSON perform the last track of his set, SUPER NOVA. This was not a good start to the Festival - a throwback to the bad old days of V when getting into the Festival was nothing more than organized chaos.
It has to be asked - what the hell was going on at those gates at the start? Clearly someone got it very wrong. The following day the gates were opened by 11.30 and everyone was able to walk in normally and without any fuss. As it should be. Trouble is at Festivals like V, you are treated less like a customer and more like cattle to be processed.
If you going to have the first acts on stage at 12.15, where is the logic in opening the gates at 12.00? When you have paid £140 for a ticket, you should be able to get in to see the whole Festival. Not everyone goes to see the Headline act play at 10.00pm! It can't be very good either for the acts playing at the start of the day, to perform in front of a small or non existent audience. Can the organizers of V start thinking about this issue now, so that in 2010 we don't have to go through the whole experience again?
In my opinion they also need to think about the position of THE ARENA at the Festival. This venue is an accident waiting to happen. With only 1 entrance/exit position both to the site and the Arena itself - the whole area was sheer chaos. Coming out of the Arena after the Human League, we were met by an equally large crowd trying to get IN to see THE STREETS. For a good 10 minutes the 2 crowds were locked in a battle to try and force their way in or out. With kids sitting on parents shoulders, and others sitting in the narrow thoroughfares - it doesn't take much imagination to see that frustration could easily set in with potentially dire consequences. Thankfully the ground was bone dry. God knows what would have happened if the ground underfoot was sodden and muddy.
The worst thing of all was the lack of any security people controlling the situation. When confronted by angry people, they just shrugged their shoulders. I would worry about how they would cope if they had to deal with a real emergency, where people were being trampled on. We were not far from that situation on Sunday. Again this was a case of a lack of organization and planning, ruining the pleasure of the crowds. HUMAN LEAGUE played a great set which left everyone happy, but that was all forgotten in the battle to get out of the venue.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Welcome to Emjaymedia Blog

So, finally, welcome to the emjaymedia blog page which will hopefully expand upon the projects that I am involved with, as well allow me to talk about the stuff that interests me - be that film, tv, politics, sport, books - well, anything really! And hopefully gets some feedback from out there too!

I actually got into the music industry after I left University in 1980, and came to work in Chelmsford, in a record shop called Parrot Records. In those days it seemed like everyone was into music, and the shop was at the centre of the scene. Along with a pub called the Prince of Orange.
Both Parrot Records and The Prince of Orange have long since gone, but last weekend a reunion was organized of everybody that was part of that fantastic time. For one more day, the Prince of Orange pub opened its doors again. And what a day it was - hundreds came from far and wide to be part of it, and if the mixture of punks, goths, bikers and skins wasn't quite as obvious as in its hey day, nevertheless the atmosphere, the humour, the conversation was like stepping back in time! Music was a common bond, then and now and it was a timely reminder for me about how, and why I fell in love with music.