Have been described as a 'Late Night Industry Enigma'... I just enjoy being a part of one of the most exciting industries in the world. I talk Entertainment, Bars/Nightclubs, Cocktails and Marketing. Follow me daily on Twitter too: @troylinehan Welcome to my world!
Hey there all, thanks for stopping by!
As some of you may know, today was the day in the UK where the government delivered their budget which shows us the ‘plan’ for the year ahead. Some predicted that this budget would also be used to try and keep power in the hands of the current government as the general election looms. Some businesses and entrepreneurs did well out of the budget but alcohol and the business of bars, pubs and clubs took it’s usual bashing by being delivered a 2% increase on alcohol duty and a 11% increase on cider. The late night industry in the UK is already in a precarious position with an estimated 47 pubs per WEEK closing down in the UK. Now, I moved over to the entertainment side of things years ago but have been known to go back to the other side of the bar and manage such venues from time to time. It’s no big surprise for those who know me well that this is something I am very passionate about. I’ve been a part of corporate late night companies and with many of them, I don’t see eye to eye. However, I believe in protecting the longevity of this industry as it is vital to a country’s economy and even a country’s culture.
So… Now to the bar & entertainment bit.
It will also come as no surprise that I am a huge advocate for live entertainment and getting THE RIGHT entertainment in to venues. It’s pretty safe to say that the late night industry took a knock a few years back with the smoking ban. Supermarkets and off licenses also dealt a blow by being able to sell alcohol at a MUCH lower price than bars. If I were the government, I’d bring those prices in line with the bars or create a national average to put anyone selling alcohol on a level playing field. And now with the added tax on alcohol, breweries will put publicans, lease holders and general managers over the proverbial barrel… You see, most lease holders are locked in to contracts that state that they can only purchase alcohol from the brewery it’s self. Sometimes the brewery will be charging 20, 50 and in some cases 80% more for products that can easily be brought at a lower price from a cash & carry. The contracts state that it is illegal to purchase from other suppliers, in many cases, taking legal action if a contract is breached. Some of these contracts exclude wine and soft drinks and say that this is the companies good will gesture. But we all know (especially if you are a lease holder) that this is not enough. I saw a quote earlier today which said “Change happens. To survive it, you must anticipate it; and to be successful, you must embrace it”. This was from an article written by Dallas Lawrence about how most big brands and companies are still NOT USING (or not using correctly) things like Facebook to get a business edge. You can read the article HERE. It’s a fact that pubs and bars a few years back were the ‘Facebook’ of their time, a hub for the community combining, Live Music, Chat, Games, Drink and Banter to all that visited. There are still a few venues like this and the reason they are still around is down to the passionate people who operate them. They invest their lives to make these places what they are.
So, what entertainment?
It’s also safe to say (although I hate to say it) that many venues who provide Live entertainment or any entertainment couldn’t give a damn about it. They see it a little bit like Field of Dreams and have the “If you build it, they will come” attitude… Screw that, If that’s what you think, YOU are contributing towards the decline of the industry and you think that you’ve helped?… pffft! get real will ya! You see, there is a big difference between just putting on a live band and showing Live Entertainment, the main difference being that one is ACTUALLY Entertaining. There are so many bands out there who will gladly play a decent venue for a crate of beer or £150. Now, if you are getting a full live band to play your venue for anything around that price, I’ll also tell you what your getting… a great big pile of shit!… It’s true. Live entertainment in the UK is filled with great bands, acts, tribute artistes. But for every great act, there are 10 terrible ones cashing in from someone’s lack of knowledge or lack of caring. It may seem like a great deal to you, you’ve got a band for £150 “Hey, I’ve put on live entertainment and it didn’t break the bank, that’s great right”? WRONG, Dummy! Your lack of caring could be damaging your brand more that you think. Don’t get me wrong though, open mic nights or unsigned band nights are a great idea if they are marketed as just that. You can’t dress an unsigned up-and-coming band as ‘the best live entertainment’ as that simply wouldn’t be true. I have a simple sum that works all of this out - SUM - Cheap Band = Cheap Brand. Your business will die in the hands of these terrible bands and ‘weekend Elvis’ as I call them, they are risking your money and your business. Customers pick up on this more than anything and they won’t be fooled. They’ll vote with their feet. Lack of caring will result in a lack of customers. Marketing can also be measured in this way. If your venue isn’t busy, you aren’t marketing it correctly or at all. Marketing in most cases is a small monetary investment but a huge investment in time and if it is your business you must invest the time. When I worked with Chicago Rock there were 64 venues ALL showing live entertainment every Wednesday night (a ‘slow’ night) it was introduced because the format worked. For many of the venues, they were welcoming an extra 500 - 1,000 customers on this quiet night, not just because of the entertainment, but because they had dedicated managers in the venue who cared about the products and pushed the hell out of each event. These passionate people were the driving force behind the venue. On the flip-side, there were venues wasting (in some cases) £2,000 on some acts only to never get a return on the bar. You’d walk in to the venue the day after and still find full boxes of flyers for the said event. They didn’t care about the product, had no passion for the business and the same successful nights that other venues had, wilted away when put in the hands of the certain venue managers. Marketing isn’t always who can have the best posters, radio coverage or a spot in the local or national news papers. As a business you should use the resources that suit your venue best. A combination of social media (Facebook, Twitter, Myspace) and physically hitting the streets with flyers and promoting to businesses around you will work best and if you are doing it right, with the right entertainment, you WILL see a return on investment. If you follow these points as a venue, you cant go wrong -
- Customer service is vital (as a person you can singlehandedly enhance a customer’s experience in your venue)
- Entertainment - Bands, Tributes, Quizzes, Pub Games - Put quality and passion in to them and they create a fantastic atmosphere and most of all, will give people a reason to leave the house.
- Marketing - It has to be done, become the figurehead of your brand and let evenryone know what your venue is about. Most of all, do it with passion and belief in your product.
- Standards - Is your venue clean? Is your beer fresh? Are your bottles in date?
- Safety - Customers like being in a safe environment, is that your venue, or at least is it welcoming and feels like a safe environment?
- Products - Do you stock the popular products that people want to buy?
It’s now time for you to invest in your venue, with a little extra money to get the best live entertainment you can afford, to market the venue if it’s already doing the entertainment thing OR to do BOTH!… This is mainly an investment in marketing time after all and if you do it with commitment and use the best resources (there are some great acts, entertainment agents and marketeers around) you can rescue your venue and help turn the industry around. Hell, that’s what Im trying to do, one place at a time. Also, get a check out what your competition is doing, see what you can improve on and do it with a positive attitute, it’s your industry too after all. All of a sudden, that 2% and 11% doesn’t seem that much of a big deal. Of course, I’d try to cut a deal with your brewery to get some relief on the prices you are paying… Hey, be cheeky and talk to your local council and see if you can get a rate reduction, if ever there was a time to do that it would be now.
That’s my two cents, I’d love to hear yours?
Take care and get building those brands!
Twitter - @Troylinehan
Greetings friends! Welcome back to my little monthly music blog where we pick a random 90’s year and a random 90’s month… We then review the top 20 hits on a little trip down memory lane. June 1995 was the month that South Africa won the Rugby World Cup and it all continued to kick off in Iraq. 1995 was also the year of Mel Gibson romping around Scotland in ‘Braveheart’ and teenage girls wept as Robbie Williams sulked and left Take That. Alcopops dominated the youth market as brands like Two Dogs and Hooch were enjoyed under the slide at the local park! So let’s get on to how the top 20 hits looked in June 1995.
Haddaway – Fly Away – Highest position #20 UK Charts
What is Love!?… NO! We couldn’t be further away from that anthem. In 1995, Trinidadian eurodance sensation Haddaway was starting to lose his magic touch. Sure, this song had repetitive 2-unlimited style keys that we all loved in the 90’s, but it lacked the 3 words that made us go crazy for Haddaway… “What Is Love.” As a result, this only reached number 20 in the UK but snuck in to the top 10’s in Switzerland, The Netherlands and Israel. Way to go! ;)
Amy Grant – Big Yellow Taxi – Highest position #20 UK Charts
Who? I hear you cry. Well unless you were a fan of Christian Rock at that time, Amy Grant may have slipped your mind… By the way, she was ‘Kind of a big deal’ on that scene! Anyways, we all know of the song that was first made famous by Joni Mitchell (other Yellow Taxi luminaries include Counting Crows and… wait for it… Darius) But Amy did the unthinkable and changed the words in the song from "And they charged the people a dollar and a half just to see em” to “And then they charged the people 25 bucks just to see em”… Gasp!! The video looks like she invaded a Roxette music vid. Soon after, she returned to the Christian music scene.
Dodgy – Staying Out For The Summer – Highest position #19 UK Charts
Out of the bands former guise ‘Purple’ came Redditch trio Dodgy with that style of brit power pop that we all love. The song deserved more than a #19 spot as it was an anthem for one of ‘the best summers of your life’… Potentially ;) It also sparked many of the brit bands shooting cheap comedy style videos because most of these bands were actually most comfortable and at their best on a stage performing live. They didn’t have time for make-up or wardrobe so headed out to the country in a camper van. Happy Days!! Of course they found true success with the hit ‘Good Enough’ and both songs still are not out of place when played today. That’s staying power for you.
Joy Division – Love Will Tear Us Apart – Highest position #19 UK Charts
Despite the song being penned in 1979, it made regular visits to the UK charts (very much like the Clash) after it first debuted at a Buzzcoks gig when Joy Division supported in 1979. It was the quintessential sound of the musical uprising in the north of the country in the early 80’s. The lyrics were said to reflect the issues between ‘Division’ front man Ian Curtis and his wife. In May 1980 Ian Curtis committed suicide and one month later the song was released and got to #13 in the UK charts, in 1981 it reached #1 status in New Zealand. In years to come, the song was often championed by (sadly missed) Radio DJ – John Peel. A few years later after a spell of touring under the name ‘The No-Names’ the band morphed in to New Order and took the alternative and electro world by storm. But that’s another story for another time.
Chemical Brothers – Leave Home – Highest position #17 UK Charts
The ‘Dust Brothers’ are dead and were then reborn as The Chemical Brothers! The UK dance sound was starting to make the transition from electro keys with a heavy Eurodance influence in to more of an industrial sound (stick with electo influences) but topped off with big beats and looping vocals. The Chemicals along with Faithless and later Basement Jaxx were about to embark on a journey taking them in to rock band territory where they would play huge festivals and stadiums. Dance music was changing and the UK was leading the charge.
Duran Duran – White Lines – Highest Position #17 UK Charts
After smashing the 80’s with innovative and stylish videos, Duran Duran pretty much tank when they release their covers album ‘Thank You’. Im sure this wasn’t the way they wanted to try and re-invent them self. Well as quick as you could say “Rang-dang-diggidy-dang-a-dang” the song bombed out. On a personal note, I think this one song was responsible for the end (at least in the public eye) of Duran Duran. Can anyone say – Worst cover of ALL time? And I’m quite sure that Grandmaster Melle Mel and Flash were none too impressed either. In response to Le Bon, Duran’s manager should have simply said “White lines?… Don’t Do It”
Jodeci – Freak N’ You – Highest position #17
Break out the white boxer shorts and low jeans, USA R&B stars Jodeci are here! Now, you might think their chart reign was a short one, but Jodeci featured some great R&B collaboration stars like Mr Dalvin, DeVante Swing and primarily K-Ci & JoJo who had hits that surpassed their fame in Jodeci. Although they were pretty new to the UK ‘Freak n You’ was taken from their third album that had a very ‘Bump n Grind’ feel to the whole affair. Although, this continued the tren of US R&B videos having a very slick movie-like feel to them. It was all about production value in the mid 90’s!
Annie Lennox – Whiter Shade Of Pale – Highest position #16 UK Charts
More 80’s icons were trying to re-invent themselves in the 1990’s. One such global superstar was Annie Lennox as she (like other 80’s folk) decided to do a few cover versions as it was less time consuming than writing new material and heck! They could still sell an album off the back of it. The Scot picked Procol Harum’s classic ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’ which I might add, wasn’t too bad at all. There was nothing quirky about it and the style of the track suited Lennox’s haunting vocals. The track was to be a part of her album ‘Medusa’ but didn’t get the notoriety it deserved as “No More I Love You’s” was the track that garnered all the interest.
Ladysmith Black Mambazo featuring China Black – Swing Low, Sweet Chariot – Highest position #15 UK Charts
It being the year (and month) of the Rugby World cup, it wouldn’t be quite right to have a chart without a world cup song. Being a multi cultural lot in the 90’s (yes, we all watched and LOVED ‘The Lion King’ in 94) it would suit the African territory to have our World Cup anthem sung by Ladysmith Black Mambazo and ‘Searchin’ star China Black. The collaboration leads to a reasonably dreary assault on the charts. With a relatively badly put together video to boot. But hey, we’ve still got those memories of the Lion King to keep us all warm and fuzzy. For the record, I wasn’t really a fan of the UB40 version either… Just saying ;)
Therapy? – Stories – Highest position #14 UK Charts
For lots of the commercial loving music kids of the 90’s, chances are, If you blinked at any point, you probably missed Therapy? All together. But the fact of the matter is, this band hailing from Northern Ireland were very high on the Metal Music totem pole! They also broke in also on the USA alternative scene with their nicely put together riffs and catchy choruses. The band was formed in 1989 and comprised of Andy Cairns, Fyfe Ewing and Michael McKeegan and although we don’t hear from them anymore, I can assure you that they are still around touring and gigging to a still very loyal fan base.
East 17 – Hold My Body Tight – Highest position #12 UK Charts
In the early 90’s we were all treated to a battle of the boybands! In one corner, clean cut boys that you’re mother would love, yes, it’s TAKE THAT… In the other corner, a bunch that wouldn’t look out of place on the Jeremy Kyle Show… Ladies & Gentleman, EAST 17! Years before Bryan Harvey was running himself over with his own car, the boys had major success in the UK. This was mainly down to the talents of singer songwriter (and original lead singer in the band) Tony Mortimer. In fact, Bryan Harvey was only ever supposed to be backing vocals & dancer but was promoted to lead singer after the band’s producer heard him sing and ordered a switch around. They put Walthamstow firmly on the map with early smash hits like ‘House of Love’ ‘Deep’ and ‘Its Alright’. Two years later in 1997 after Bryan “Ecstasy can make you a better person” Harvey made a few off hand remarks, the band was thrown in to turmoil and their boyband image was shattered.
Reef – Naked – Highest position #11 UK Charts
Before I get started, you know this song and you know the riffs. It was featured on numerous adverts in the 90’s. That said, when people think of Reef, they only think of their full on timeless anthem ‘Place Your Hands’. This band is from the musical wilderness of Glastonbury and it’s sound is well and truly styled by the sound of their incredible lead singer Gary Stringer. Reef were classed as Brit-Pop but have a very Bluesy sound in their bass lines. 1995 was a bit of a high for the band as they managed to tour with Paul Weller, Soundgarden and even The Rolling Stones. They really made their mark in 1997 with the release of the album ‘Glow’ that went straight to #1 in the UK album chart. It’s well worth a listen and I know you’ll find some gems in there.
Jam & Spoon – Right In The Night – Highest position #10 UK Charts
Is euro dance dead?… Not quite, it’s still knocking about in 95 and was helped along by Jam & Spoon (featuring Plavka). This song is sort of a modern day classic and a bit of a guilty pleasure. The German group say their musical style is Trance but we all know that it’s really cheesy party Euro-Pop! Surprisingly, they didn’t really do anything else of note in the UK charts but left us with a lasting memory and a very strange video. Bravo!!
M People – Search For The Hero – Highest position #9 UK Charts
Want to make a car advert or a video that’s an inspiration to others?… I’ve got just the song for you! M People was a Manchester born band that got it’s name from founding member Mike Pickering but really known for it’s leading lady Heather Small. Funny thing, Heather is actually very small in person but for some reason, actually looks quite tall in their videos. That’s forced perspective at play! Anyway, Pickering picked up steam by being one of the original faces (and DJ’s) of Manchester’s infamous Hacienda Night Club. Pickering found Small as part of the band ‘Hot House’ who, after having no success, was happy to join an early doors M People. They then built a solid foundation with hits ‘One Night In Heaven’ and ‘Moving On Up’. They were then named Best British Dance Act at the 1995 Brit Awards and had continued success in the UK and US charts.
Black Grape – Reverend Black Grape – Highest position #9 UK Charts
We’re staying in Manchester for another one. After the Happy Mondays fell off the edge of the map through artistic differences and drug fuelled benders, Shaun Ryder started recruiting for a new band to open another chapter in his storied career. Kermit and Psycho were snapped up by Shaun and Bez… The band also included the musical stylings of Jed Lynch and Wags. They debuted with Reverend Black Grape that easily outsold their previous (and some would say) best Shaun Ryder hit ‘Step On’. We’ll be hearing plenty more about Ryder and Co in future 90’s blogs. Until then, don’t think for a second that Bez is actually playing the harmonica in this video!
Whigfield – When I Think Of You – Highest position #7 UK Charts
Whigfield AKA Sannie Carlson AAKA Naan was born in Denmark and after a few years as a model was spotted by music producer Larry Pignagnoli who now produces Benny Benassi but retro kids will be pleased to know he also produced Spagna!… Yeah, he clearly had his eye on the ladies. Whigfeild’s first charting smash was holiday park favourite ‘Saturday Night’ and was notable because she became the first ever non UK or American artist to go to #1 in her first week in the UK Singles Chart. She was also the subject of controversy as due to always lip syncing during live performences, critics actually claimed that (much like Milli Vanilli) that wasn’t actually Whigfield’s voice on any of her songs. Since then, she did perform live on a number of occasions thus proving it was her voice all along. Phew! We’ll all sleep well now J
Wet Wet Wet – Don’t Want To Forgive Me Now – Highest position #7 UK Charts
I urge you to watch the video as this is a Wet Wet Wet lost classic. It never really got the acclaim that the other songs did but was as catchy as hell! This track was taken from the band’s SIXTH studio album ‘Picture This’. On a side note, I’ve always liked how happy and comfortable Marti Pellow looks while performing… Must be the velvet suit! This song came after ‘Love Is All Around’ which some people will say is their defining hit, I disagree. ‘Picture This’ was the start of years of decline after the global might that the band had in the late 80’s and early 90’s. They hit an all time low in 1999 as the band fell apart and Marti Pello went in to drug rehab.
Bon Jovi – This Ain’t A Love Song – Highest position #6 UK Charts
In 1995 the hair of the 80’s most commercial rock band was still very much in tact but melodic tunes, harmonies and power ballads were very much the order of the day for Jon ‘The Bon’ and the boys! The song was to come from the album ‘These Days’ and strangely enough this single got a pretty icy reception in their native land only reaching #14 in the US Charts. This album had a very different feel from the Bon Jovi that The USA had known and loved for such a long time, but was still a major success in it’s own right over in the UK. However, it was in this year that the band won an award for ‘Best Selling Rock Band’ at the World Music Awards, they were clearly still doing something right. June 1995 also created a career (so far) high spot of playing 3 nights to a sold out Wembly Stadium. Soon after, they got hair cuts.
Edwyn Collins – A Girl Like You – Highest position #4 UK Charts
This was the one hit wonder of Scottish singer songwriter Edwyn Collins and while singing it, it’s hard to resist singing the guitar bit too. Try it… See! Impossible! There are actually a few little musical facts about this song. Here they are should you ever get asked at a pub quiz. The drum sample in the song is actually taken from the Len Barry hit ‘1,2,3’. Also, playing the very stylish Vibraphone we have Sex Pistols drummer – Paul Cook. Every day is a school day kids! The song made it to #68 on VH1’s 100 Greatest One Hit Wonders chart. Collins was also a very competent music producer and worked with many bands both nationally and internationally. Edwyn is still gigging with his guitar driven style and most recently played SXSW.
Michael & Janet Jackson – Scream – Highest position #3 UK Charts
Following the very high profile media coverage of Jackson over child sexual abuse allegations in 1993 he answered with (that’s right) a song! This song (very much like ‘leave me alone’) was directed at the tabloid media. Song aside, let’s talk about the video! At the time it was listed by the Guinness Book of records as the most expensive music video of all time totalling $7 Million. It’s also little known that most of the instruments used to build this track were actually also played by Michael Jackson. The song ‘Childhood’ (also a duet with Janet) was a B side on the ‘Scream’ single and both featured on the HIStory Album. Incidentally ‘Childhood’ was also the title track for ‘Free Willy 2’… OK, you can all start laughing now.
Baby D – Everybodys Gotta Learn Sometime – Highest position #3 UK Charts
Get your glow sticks, whistles, horns and furry boots at the ready as in 1995 Baby D returned to the charts. This was their third comeback with the same song in one decade. It was first released in 92, again in 93, AGAIN in 94 where it hit #1 and then it returned in 95 as a remixed B Side and had numerous remixes in the late 90’s early 00’s…. Yes, I was actually talking about Let Me Be Your Fantasy! WOW! The early incarnations of the song before 94 were basically commercial flops but massive on the underground scene, this (after the 94 #1) set the stage for them to step out on to the commercial stage. After the #1 they were signed by London Records and decided to cover the Korgis classic ‘Everybody’s Gotta Learn Sometime’. Their cover however, stayed true to the groups underground roots (no pun intended) and hit big again on the UK Rave circuit. Terry Jones (vocals, keyboards and actually a producer too) was said to be the driving force behind the groups survival. Jones also produced for Eternal and The Backstreet Boys as well as co-wrote a #1 for Peter Andre.
U2 – Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me – Highest position #2 UK Charts
Before Bono started saving the world he wrote this little number for another hero (note the sarcasm) This was the title track for Batman Forever and according to Bono “this song is about being a HUGE star”… He was soon to get his ego checked when the song failed to reach #1 in the UK and USA despite having incredible sales. It was however nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Original Song but lost out to ‘Colours of The Wind’ from the Disney film Pocahontas. Oddly, it was also nominated for a Razzie Award for Worst Original Song but lost that honour to ‘Walk Into The Wind’ from the movie ‘Showgirls’ (yeah, you’ve seen it)
Pulp – Common People – Highest position #2 UK Charts
Sheffield indie band Pulp shot to fame with two hits ‘Common People’ and ‘Sorted for Es and Wizz’ which both reached #2 in the same year. The band was formed in 1978 by Jarvis Cocker but really struggled early on in their career. They honed their craft in the north and fed off the vibes of other bands also coming out of the north. They were nominated for a Mercury Music Award in 1994 and became one of the main faces of Brit-Pop. The ‘Common People’ video also features a set of dance moves near the end of the track. This was added by Jarvis Cocker simply because he had seen years of dance crazes though Top Of The Pop’s and would have liked to create his own… It didn’t catch on. They had a few more chart successes but Cocker gain global media coverage at the 1996 Brit Awards where he did manage to start a craze… Stage invasions!! And his was the mother of them all as he interrupted Michael Jackson’s ‘Earth Song’ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZEWomOQVno
It’s funny to watch Jarvis run around the stage like a naughty little boy (probably not the right wordage) he was later arrested, but it gets stranger as Bob Mortimer (of Reeves & Mortimer) acted as Cocker’s legal representative. Jarvis was released with no charges set against him.
So that brings us to our June 1995 #1
BOOM BOOM BOOOOM, Let me hear you say Waaaayooooo! (OK, you didn’t do it)
The Outhere Brothers – Boom Boom Boom – Highest position #1 UK Chart
They fended off rock legends U2 and Bon Jovi, smacked Michael Jackson figuratively upside the head and sent Jarvis Cocker packing. Its the Outhere Brothers!! Who with this song reached the #1 spot in the UK, Ireland and Germany but nowhere else on the entire planet earth! Outhere Brothers are from Chicago USA and were also known at the time for their other hit ‘Don’t Stop’ Wiggle Wiggle. Due to explicit content, the original versions of their songs didn’t make the charts of radio airplay. This also stopped them from having any hits ANYWHERE. But their music has found a home in the many sports arenas over the globe being used as ‘pump up’ music to get the crowd going bananas. So I’ll ask you one more time BOOM BOOM BOOM, Let me hear you say Waaaaayoooooo! (that’s better)
Till next time 90’s music fans!