Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your team?
Russell Phillips – I am a second year Music Business student at SAE London and am a co-owner of Elephant Promotions. I have previously owned a sports coaching company, selling in 2019, and was manager of Newquay’s Biggest Bar Tour in Cornwall until the pandemic forced the organisation to shut down. I am passionate about travel, sport and, most importantly, live music. I attend a wide variety of festivals and concerts on a weekly basis and adore the fact that I can now do this as my job.
Camilla Dietrich – Cami is also a second year Music Business student at SAE London and co-owner of Elephant Promotions. Cami has developed fantastic skills in marketing and promotion and uses these skills for the company as well as during her role of manager to the amazing band Blue Wit. Cami is equally passionate about music, spending every available penny on improving her home sound systems, seeing live bands and purchasing vinyl records from artists spanning the last century.
Can you tell us about your event promotion company?
We are Elephant Promotions. The entity has been created and managed by two SAE Music Business students (Russell Phillips and Camilla Dietrich) and is working alongside different
venues and organisations including Signature Brew in and around London. Officially established in January 2022 after two successfully organised events alongside classmates known as ‘Rhythm & Brews’ in Haggerston, our first Elephant Promotions event had Pet Needs headlining as a part of Signature Brew’s All-Access Pass in February. Our official Launch Party sold just under 100 tickets and we have since expanded to promote a variety of rock events at various locations, working with fantastic artists, and have even secured an exclusivity deal with Eventbrite.
What were the three biggest challenges you have faced when growing your event promotion company?
Arguably the greatest challenge has been time. Promoting events at the same time as organising future shows is very time consuming and although both of us have great time management skills, we both work full-time jobs and officially study full-time too. This is a challenge but we know that if we are able to successfully manage monthly events now, we will be comfortable organising multiple events once our music industry degree is over. We have faced the second challenge later than many in this industry but the failure to sell enough tickets to break even is one that we have now faced. This is difficult at the early stage of our company because we have not yet built enough of a financial cushion for this to happen and so we personally pay for this situation. However, we have been fortunate to learn this lesson on the back of successful shows to limit the financial damage and we have always understood that event promotion is a bit of a gamble at times. A third challenge is that I live outside of London. Although this is not a problem for the majority of the work as this is mainly done online and over the phone, it means that we need to plan face-to-face meetings with venues or artists further in advance which is something that cannot always be done.
What were the three most rewarding moments you have when growing your event promotion company?
Watching the event and those attending enjoy themselves is very rewarding. During our first show, Pet Needs thanked us whilst on stage and many of the customers made the effort to approach us with kind words. As a business owner and I think for the two of us working so hard to ‘make ends meet’ each month, it is always nice to make a profit after a show. Currently we have not used these profits but it keeps us hopeful for the future that we can continue to build and then earn from this work. Finally, the incredible contacts that we are able to make and the opportunities that these then offer is something that money cannot buy. We have been invited to a variety of events run by other promoters and are being contacted by managers of larger artists because of our communications and the recommendations given to people by those in our new networking circles.
What are your top 3 tips to anyone who aspires to run their own, successful event promotion company?
1. Make sure that you are working with people who you trust and you know will try as much as you do! Venues, artists, managers, runners, audio engineers, everybody in the industry will help and work hard for you and your project if you work hard too, if that isn’t happening then it is either because they aren’t invested enough in your project or they do not think you are working hard enough for them.
2. There is a fine line between promoting events you want to see and the events that will make money. Be open-minded but also passionate and those two things will make or break the marketing of an event.
3. The most important skill needed is time management. Make lists, then follow them because you will have several projects on the go at one time and you need to ensure everything is done in order for each event.
What made you pursue a degree in music business?
Russell: When the covid-19 pandemic hit, I lost my promotion work in Cornwall and although I was able to work in a primary school, I did not have a degree so was working as a teacher but without the pay associated with the job. This music business degree offered an opportunity into either profession for me.
Cami: When I graduated from high school, I originally wanted to study Music Business at SAE in Milan. For a number of reasons, that was not possible for me at the time. I’ve always been passionate about music, both as an artist and behind the scenes, so I eventually found my way back and decided to commit to the industry.
What made you choose SAE?
Russell: SAE had a global reputation with their music industry course which I thought might help me if I decided to work in the sector. It also offered a 2 year degree which is much better for me as an
Camilla: For me the main thing was timing. A 2 year degree in music business was exactly what I needed to make up for the years I missed.
What do you enjoy most about your degree and time at SAE?
Russell: The contacts that I have made and the opportunity I have had to grow this company with Cami.
Cami: The people. I think the course can only give you so much, it is us as students who need to be proactive and make the most of the people around us, including lecturers and students. Their experience is invaluable, and you never know what connections they might have.