Band2market Ltd is the UK music industry’s leading exponent of independent campaign management, release strategy and music marketing consultancy.
Matt Dixon & Dan Symons have a half century of combined industry experience. Matt started in the music industry in 1990 or 1996 (depending on how you look at it) and Dan’s career began in 1997.
The autumn of 1990 saw Matt join Our Price, immediately becoming even more of a sponge for musical detail, taking in as much as he could from fellow staff, and the store dedicating itself to certain individual genres most mornings. Thankfully, having memorised the Guinness Book Of Hit Singles in the early / mid 80s, the store didn’t need any reference books when customers came into the shop with odd requests.
Dan’s career started as the guitarist and founding member of the band Lowgold – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lowgold. Lowgold signed to Nude Records / Sony in December 1998 and enjoyed the highs and lows of indie-dom peaking with chart success and major tours with the likes of Coldplay / Grandaddy / Elbow / Turin Brakes / Wheat / Keane and UK and international festival appearances. Things went sour when Nude went into voluntary liquidation in December 2001 leaving a fair few artists financially stricken as a result. The band resigned to Sanctuary Records, then self released an album and then signed to an imprint of Cooking Vinyl. In total Lowgold released a total of 4 albums – Just Backward Of Square / Welcome To Winners / Keep Music Miserable / Promise Lands.
In the 90s Matt began a (thankfully) brief period with Andy’s Records, and a slightly longer period of office work in Manchester Matt joined EMI on their northern sales team in late 1996, staying there for a couple of years. He then headed to London to become a product manager in what was EMI:Chrysalis at the time, towards the end of 1998, staying with the company until 2008. In those 10 years, Matt was in charge of marketing the Positiva, Additive, Prolifica and DFA labels, plus a diverse range of artists including Corinne Bailey Rae, Roisin Murphy, Badly Drawn Boy, Diana Ross, Hot Chip, Louise and more. With Positiva, this period included the label winning best dance label at many industry awards, countless massive chart entries including number 1 hits from Spiller and Fragma, and with DFA, the first 2 LCD Soundsystem albums alongside Hercules & Love Affair, The Juan MacLean and more.
After the Nude Records financial debacle Dan’s hiatus outside the music industry working in a research post at King’s College ended when he took a job as a product manager for Sanctuary Records. He was responsible for frontline marketing on their re-ignited imprint ‘Sequel’ for acts such as The Cooper Temple Clause / Idlewild / Happy Mondays / Dolores O’Riordan. Sanctuary was bought by Universal in 2007 and Dan moved on to become the marketing manager at Rough Trade Records working with some unbelievable independent talent in one of the world’s most venerable music companies.
After a year post EMI at Xenomania for Matt, the two joined forces to launch band2market in 2009, deciding to combine their skills and set up a company that independently helps artists / labels / managers release their music in lots of different and creative ways, where they have worked on some great projects, with some wonderful artists. They have pretty much covered every plausible corner of the indie music sector as you can see from who they have worked with and continue to. The roster list shows the artists they have worked with 100% independently since forming B2M; it’s an artist roster list that is unrivalled in the independent UK music sector. Putting the right strategy and then a team around an artist, often a developing artist, is at the core of what Band2market do. They work with people and music they like, and work on things they believe in.
Q & A
1. How did you come up with the idea for band2market?
It was early days in the advent of freelance marketing within the music industry but we were both leaving respective jobs at the same time in 2009 and talked about working together then. We didn’t want to repeat what we’d just done, and had good experience of working in very different areas within the industry where between us there wasn’t much we wouldn’t know about or couldn’t do. Thankfully we were proven right! The role quickly developed from marketing to overall campaign management, ….
…and that’s what we do in the majority of situations we’re engaged in now. Not that we’re averse to taking on very specific roles, but most of the time, we’re running the campaign and teams involved. When we started we didn’t want to be pigeonholed to particular styles or genres, and we’ve certainly managed that, and been very successful at it. Any given day sees us working with legendary acts through to ones at early stages. Being at the coal face, so to speak, in so many different areas, gives us a unique perspective to each campaign we’re involved in.
2. What makes band2market different from other campaign management companies?
The main point of difference, we think, is our ability to be so fluid and fluctuate between so many different style and kinds of act, while staying bespoke to each of them and each individual campaign, from the ground up. We like what we hear, we get stuck in, we work out a plan and a strategy, and the team to put it into action, and we’re off. Our enthusiasm for everything we work is the same regardless of who the act is. Everyone has a level playing field with us. That said, even though we get asked this quite a lot, we don’t have, and won’t ever have, a rate card – every campaign is different, so we work and price accordingly.
3. What’s the hardest thing about being at the coalface? And what do you enjoy the most?
The hardest thing about it is hammering away until you get that breakthrough. You know that you’ve got something great that deserves to be heard, but it’s not easy and it takes time to get through and make your point. As such, the most gratifying part of it is seeing that happen! Seeing a fanbase and media support grow is why we do this. Also, it’s a much more enjoyable experience when artist, management and label are all on the same page and pulling in the same direction, with all applying themselves 100%, along with ourselves and whatever team is involved!
4. How do you make sure a campaign is truly customised to the needs of your clients?
As above, we tailor every campaign we work to the specifics of the artist involved, the nature of the release, the targets, and the budget available. We don’t make false promises, and we only get involved in things that we believe in, with people we believe in that have made the music or can help take it to a wider audience.
First single bought
MATT – The first 12” single I bought was definitely “Really Saying Something” by Bananarama & Fun Boy 3, from W H Smiths in Stockport. I remember that because I went in for the 7”, but they told me the 12” was the same price, so I went for it. And so began a journey into obsession with 12” singles! The first 7” I bought might well have been “Einstein A Go Go” by Landscape, although my mind’s a bit more foggy there!
DAN – Mine was an absolute shocker. It was A Taste Of Aggro by The Barron Knights, first released in 1978. I remember it had a bright orange label like a lot of singles on EPIC at that time. Honestly have no idea how I came to buy it, or own it or even know of its existence. Very bizarre.
First album bought
MATT – The first albums bought for me were Abba’s “Greatest Hits Volume 2” (vinyl) and Queen’s “Greatest Hits” (cassette), but the first album I remember having to have on the day it came out was Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s “Welcome To The Pleasuredome”.
DAN – Great minds and all that as mine was a Queen album too. The Works. Released in 1984, it just had some massive tunes on it. Also ‘Hammer To Fall’ is a great song to learn the guitar to.
MATT – The Wombles at The Rex in Wilmslow in around 1974 or Huey Lewis & The News supported by Bruce Hornsby & The Range at Manchester Apollo in October 1986.
DAN – First proper gig was Transvision Vamp at Poole Arts Centre on 30th October 1989.
Last single bought / streamed
MATT – The last physical single I bought would probably have been something from Record Store Day earlier this year. The last singles I streamed, as of mid October 2018 when I’m writing this, would be Roisin Murphy, Melody’s Echo Chamber, Little Simz and Anderson.Paak.
DAN – It was ‘I Believe It Now’ by HAARM which is being used for the BTSport Premiership football coverage all this season. I was so excited to hear my football obsessed son singing it at the dinner table that I stuck it on loud in the house for him. Proof that TV sync does resonate!
Last album bought / streamed
MATT – Last album bought was Chic’s “It’s About Time”. Most recent album streamed and enjoyed was Neneh Cherry’s “Broken Politics”.
DAN – Blast from the past but it was Leonard Cohen ‘Various Positions’.
MATT – Last non-work concert was LCD Soundsystem, but if it’s acts I’ve never worked with at all, then I’d be saying Bananarama at the end of 2017.
DAN – Last non work gig was Royal Blood at their House of Vans gig. Something I missed out recently was going to see Ride but I couldn’t go because I got pneumonia.
Top 5 singles
MATT – Chic “Le Freak” and “Good Times”, The KLF “What Time Is Love?”, Frankie Goes To Hollywood “Two Tribes”, Pet Shop Boys “Left To My Own Devices”.
DAN – This is impossible so I’m choosing 1 song Tina Turner – What’s Love Got To Do With It. Total songwriting genius, music production perfection and impeccable vocal delivery.
Top 5 albums
MATT – ABC “The Lexicon Of Love”, Pet Shop Boys “Behaviour”, kd lang “Ingenue”, Prince “Sign O The Times”, Deee-lite “World Clique”.
DAN – Led Zeppelin II, Sufjan Stevens – Come on feel the Illinois, Miracle Fortress – Five Roses, Wheat – Hope And Adams, Grandaddy – Under The Western Freeway
Top 5 concerts
MATT – Prince at Hop Farm, Prince first night of 21 Nights at The O2, Prince first night of Hit N Run at Manchester Academy, Pet Shop Boys at the Royal Opera House and I will go all the way back to Huey Lewis & The News in 1986, because it was the first gig I ever went to and it was great.
DAN – Antony & The Johnsons at the LSO St Lukes in 2005. Just an astonishing live performance and the standard of playing from all the musicians at that show is still yet to be surpassed by anything else I’ve witnessed live. There are bits on YouTube from that show.
Bon Iver at Shepherds Bush Empire, Europe at Hammersmith Apollo (you had to be there – it was brilliant), Deftones at The Kentish Town Forum, Arcade Fire at the Astoria