Industry Insiders: JBM Music’s Jorge Meehan shares insight on how to build and sustain a successful event brand
For the second instalment of our Industry Insiders feature, we caught up with Jorge Meehan of renowned Manchester-based event brand, JBM Music.
One of two founding members of JBM Music, Meehan, along with his business partner, Brian Murphy, kick-started his career in live music working for some of the region’s biggest event brands, gaining valuable industry experience along the way. Eventually taking the leap, the pair began to organise their own events around Manchester, where the vibrant nightlife scene and the city’s incredible nightclubs and event spaces, provided numerous opportunities for growth.
In the interview, Meehan shares insights on starting out as a promoter, building working relationships, overcoming challenges, and the significance of finding a niche in a competitive market. Plus, he highlights the valuable partnership JBM Music has enjoyed with Skiddle for over 12 years. Continue reading below to learn more.
Before coming together to start JBM Music, you were both promoters in your own right. How
did you both get into it?
“Yes, long before JBM, we were both individually working on our own events and ventures, gaining experience in the industry and trying to work our way up. Brian had been studying music production at college and had his own events around the city at the time. I came out of sixth form and pretty much fell straight into running my own events, starting off as a DJ and just gradually putting my own events on.”
Manchester is JBM’s stronghold, but you’ve since expanded into other areas. What skills
and knowledge did you gain from having Manchester as your main city?
“Manchester is a great place for our industry, so starting off here played a vital role in where we are today. The nightlife industry is vibrant and constantly thriving. We both found many opportunities arise for us in Manchester. We’ve been blessed with some incredible nightclub and event spaces over the years, and the individuals working in those places have really helped us thrive in Manchester and grow to where JBM is today.”
If you’re in that situation, as a new promoter in a city, who are the key people you should
look to build relationships with?
“I’d say there are a few key people you can look to for advice when starting off promoting. The first is the bookers/managers of clubs you envisage your events being located. Start off small and build your way up, you don’t have to be looking at the biggest club right away, it’s a learning curve. It’s best to start off with something manageable and work your way up. The others are other local promoters and DJs. They’ll give you advice and tell you how they got into the scene, whilst also sharing how they’re progressing. Communication is key and speaking to more people will give you much more knowledge on what is happening in the city.”
While researching for these questions, I listened to a podcast where you spoke about how
difficult it was to book talent in the beginning because people weren’t aware of the brand.
How can up-and-coming or new promoters get around this? Is it a case of working harder or
looking for a niche market to break into?
“Of course, in the early days, it’s always going to be tough to book certain artists. Brian and I were both DJs when we were getting started out, so were constantly on the hunt for up-and-coming talent, people who were breaking into charts on Beatport, and getting things booked before certain artists blew up.
“Starting out can be daunting and tough, but it’s to be expected that you can’t go off and book your dream names, they all have long-standing commitments in place with promoters in each city. But just work your way up, find your niche, and keep progressing from there and eventually, the talent will come.
“We also conducted research into genres which weren’t necessarily wrapped up, thinking outside the box. This also really helped us to grow.”
We’ve touched briefly on networking, but I wanted to dive a bit deeper. Are there any
conferences or industry events that you would recommend to promoters who want to expand
“There are the obvious ones such as ADE in Amsterdam, and WME in Miami, but these can be costly trips for any up-and-coming promoter. There is often networking events happening in each city, so perhaps keep a look out for those. Brighton Music Conference is also a great one for networking.”
Some promoters work solo and others in teams. If you’re putting a team together, what do you look for in the people working behind the scenes to ensure your event goes according to plan?
“You need a great team around you in this industry, there is so much to think about and to action, so going it alone is daunting and very tough. At JBM we have a great team in-house. Marketing teams, bookers, production assistants, artist liaisons and advancing teams, media crew all help us ensure planning and events are delivered smoothly and to the best of our ability.”
Part of your expansion has been putting on Reggae Land. Can you tell us about some of the
challenges you’ve experienced while organising it, and how you’ve overcome them?
“Reggae Land is now one of our largest festivals. The biggest task to date has been the move from Campbell Park to the historic National Bowl in Milton Keynes where we will welcome up to 40,000 Reggae lovers this summer. The planning has been meticulous and it’s a mammoth task indeed. There has been so much to think about in the way of event structure, customer safety, and festival production, it truly has been a round-the-clock operation.
“This year we have over 90 artists performing at Reggae Land, all flying in from various parts of the world. It’s a massive operation, but one we are very much looking forward to delivering and continuing to grow over the coming years.”
To finish, I wanted to ask: How have Skiddle helped you over the years? If you were
recommending us to another promoter, what would you tell them?
“Skiddle have been the primary ticketing provider for our events for over 12 years. Long before JBM, Brian and I both individually used Skiddle for the ticketing delivery on our own events. We’ve grown along with Skiddle and had all the support and help we’ve ever needed along the way. From marketing to ticketing queries/enquiries, Skiddle has been there every step of the way. There is no other primary ticketing partner we would use, and look forward to continuing our relationship with Skiddle for many more years to come.”
(Words by Ryan Moss)
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