Neil Evans is the founder and director of Electric Ibiza alongside his business partner Lisa Barraclough they run a multi facet business which includes artist management, record label management , marketing and event promotion company based in Ibiza. They are the founders and promoters of many events around the world, including Do Not Sleep at Amnesia Ibiza Cuckoo Land at Ibiza Rocks & Soho Beach in Dubai.
They also manage the careers of DJs Josh Butler, Darius Syrossian, Huxley, Sidney Charles, Ronnie Spiteri & Vonda7, as well as releasing records from the likes of Steve Lawler, and names like Anja Scheinder , Christian Burkhardt, Mattias Kaden on the Do Not Sleep imprint. New for 2019 will see them take over the Epic Hotel in downtown Miami during Miami Music Week for 6 days of events promoted and programmed with long time friend and business partner Jonathan Cowan.
As you can tell, there is a lot to manage. Evans has his hands full juggling different companies and making sure priorities are kept straight. For the latest edition of Industry Insider, we chat with Evans to learn how he got into the business, how he makes sure his artists balance work and mental health and plotting long term goals for artists. We also chat about the changing landscape in Ibiza and what he would like to see done to bring back some of the soul to the island.
How did you get into the music business?
I bought a record shop in the early 2000’s and it grew from there - to record labels and then promoting and management, working with some amazing artists and brands over the years and all over the world. In 2011, I worked with Geoff Oakes (Renaissance) on a new venue in the UK. While Geoff was opening that - I took on the role of booker and promoter for Renaissance at Pacha. I had already been promoting one off events in Ibiza at the old Ushuaia beach that also went on later to be called Le Plage. Since then I have promoted events at most clubs on the island including: the closing year at Space as the promoter on legendary Sundays at Space.
When managing artists, how do you keep them focused and driven, while also keeping in mind mental and physical health?
All artists are driven by different things and different projects. Some hate the travel and some love it. I find the best thing is to try and work with them from Tuesday onwards! Gives them enough time to rest after the weekend and all the travel. Our artists are “reasonably” sensible, so the “come downs” are kept to a minimum! Most importantly, we make sure that they all have good projects and good people in their respective teams and make sure they are all working towards their goals.
How far out into the future do you plan with your artists and what sort of longterm goals do you like to set?
We normally work on 6 month to a year plans of touring and recording projects. The business is so fast paced sometimes that goes out the window but we try to keep as much structure as possible. Weekly planning calls and meetings with agents, press and logistics are essential.
The way to the live side works very different in different territories, some places book months out in advance, some book a few weeks so we just manage that. Things like the Ibiza season or touring Australia or Asia we plan around 6 months out, but talk about it all year.
When an artist first gets their break, how do you ensure that it isn’t a flash in the pan and then they disappear from the public conscious in a year or two?
We have always worked on a principle of building an artist in stages. I think it’s important for longevity. You see so many DJs / Artists who have a very fast rise in popularity then have a huge surge in fees who then can’t sustain it for a long time. I look back at the DJ from 20 years ago and a lot are still performing at a top level. They didn’t seek a huge glory moment or had an agent who got greedy with the fees. I think it’s a fine line but I’d rather have successful artists for 10 years than burn them out in 3 or 4 years by pushing fees or billing from day 1.
Steady releases on good labels, good press and constant flow is needed.
If you weren’t in the music business what would you be doing?
I wanted to be an architect and went to college but also wanted a job that paid and thought that it would take too long to get professional qualifications! So probably something like that or maybe a surveyor or civil engineer. Something where I would get more sleep!!!
What have been some of the most significant trends impacting your business in 2018 and how do you expect those trends to shift, continue or change in 2019?
There are significant changes in most businesses on a year basis so we are no different. Music consumption has gone from the gramophone to streaming on your phone. Embrace the change; just make sure you’re up to date on the changes out there. Electronic music is here to stay as it’s big business. We are the longest “en vogue“ running music genre. Just stay focused on the trend and try and see what is coming through new music wise. As a promoter and manager you’re always looking for the next big thing anyway, so it’s a natural evolving thought process.
Ibiza has gotten a bad rap lately for becoming an overpriced VIP clubbing experience. How can that be changed or at least help make it more affordable for those who aren’t interested in bottle service and overpriced drinks.
Ibiza has been a little more expensive since I started coming here in ‘98. I live in Ibiza and yes it can be expensive but no more than New York or Amsterdam.
I think we need to change the guest list culture somehow. This could impact entry prices. The amount of people who request free entry is crazy!!! GUESTLIST is meant for guests, industry, friends and family, not somebody who just wants to get in for free. I don’t get my bread free from the baker so why do people expect free entertainment?!
Drinks can be pricy but the backend costs of running events on this already quite expensive island are very high. Heavy weekly competition breeds very high promotion costs and then we have DJ fees.
So many DJs are saying yeah it’s expensive for the kids but will not reduce their fees. Also they play for cheaper elsewhere & actually raise their prices on the island - even though it’s maybe the hardest place to promote an event in the world. They seem to determine their fees on a ticket value that they pluck from the air. Ibiza will be around for a long time yet and it will reset itself - it’s just going through a 7-year itch!!!
Do you like the new sets of regulations the Ibiza government is putting on nightlife?
In one way it’s fucking ridiculous but on the other hand we need sustainable tourism. Blanket restrictions are stupid. It needs to be taken on a case-by-case basis and it needs to be reviewed. Hopefully we have a more tolerant and sensible local government soon.
When doing immersive shows at big clubs, how much time goes into the planning and then actual build outs on each event day?
We start to prepare for Do Not Sleep now at Amnesia, Cuckoo Land (Ibiza Rocks ) in October - working towards the openings in May. We don’t in fact have a large events team so it’s very labour intensive through the whole process. Bookings, logistics & contracting are lengthy tasks but it’s worth it when you get to see the club full and people going mental!
We are currently booking our new Epic Pool Party series of events in Miami, which is 6 pool party events. We are booking DJ and brands from around the world. We will see around 15,000 come and go over the week of WMC. We have been working this event for about 6 weeks & it’s a full time job for the team until we close the event on March 31st.
What are you looking for in artists you sign to the label and other parts of the company?
Dedication to the movement!!! Good Music!!!
I like people who know a little about the history of the scene. A DJ who can dig deep in a record box (USB) and play something with a bit of history! Know your job; know your scene - it’s important. There are so many DJs starting out now & only know from now or a few years back. Educate yourself about where electronic music has come from.
What is your key to longevity in the music business?
Fuck knows... tenacity ???