Here’s how Alive Network became the UK’s largest booking agency for upcoming musicians

We’ve all dreamed of being a rock star, right? Listening to our favourite records, performing these songs in front of the mirror… For some these aspirations are as close as one gets to performing on stage. But, for other more determined (and talented!) folk, the idea of practicing an instrument, then playing and performing music for a living isn’t just a dream, it’s a reality.

The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Nirvana, and more recently Haim, Paramore, The Feeling, and Panic At The Disco are all successful original artists that started their careers as cover artists, performing to a few, then unknowing, punters in the early years, while honing their talents. For these bands the big time beckoned, and they certainly benefited from a bit of lady luck along the way.

For many though, aspirations of becoming ‘full-time’ musicians are met with serious conversations from family and friends. The pressure to look for a ‘proper’ job often means that fledgling musicians are forced to work in daytime jobs to make ends meet, with the evening gigs soon disappearing into the ether through work commitments.

However, that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case in these modern times, thanks to the vision of 18 years ago of Dave Bevan, MD of Alive Network, the UK’s largest entertainment booking agency. A gigging musician himself, Dave realised that musicians could actually make a good living from playing regular corporate and private events as cover artists, if there was the right platform to connect these artists with clients searching for particular acts.

“At the time, bands were booking gigs through word of mouth, or referrals,” recalls Dave. “The internet was still in its infancy, and there wasn’t any online platform to help artists find work, or clients find quality artists. We created the Alive platform with the aim of it being a user-friendly experience, initially operating the company out of a bedroom in a house that I was sharing in Market Drayton, Shropshire, and have never looked back since.”

“Our artists can perform anywhere, from weddings and parties to multi-million pound events in some of the most exclusive venues in the world.”

Fast forward 18 years, Alive Network is the UK’s largest entertainment booking agency for private events. With a roster of over 6,500 individual performers within 2,000+ bands and ensembles, the company has generated over a £75million in gig fees for its artists and books over 10,000 events each year. A unique development programme also helps artists become successful independent businesses, able to maintain a regular, reliable income to support themselves while allowing them to continue being creative and making vital industry contacts along the musical journey.

“Our artists can perform anywhere, from weddings and parties to multi-million pound events in some of the most exclusive venues in the world,” says Dave. “Anything from The Savoy, O2 Arena or Glastonbury Festival, to The Burj Al Arab in Dubai and diplomatic events in Hanoi, Vietnam.

“We work with some of the UK’s highest-level session musicians and original songwriters who perform private gigs at the weekend and use their week to play original gigs and create music. All thanks to regular and well-paid work performing live.

“Bands on our development programme play around 80-100 events each year and take home £1000+ net on average per gig.

“One of our top acts, Hipster, has generated over £1million worth of bookings in the last five years and played for Prince Harry. We’re waiting for the call to re-book them again ahead of the Royal wedding next year!”

“We’ve invested over £500,000 in the studio to help artists on our development programme.”

To help support the artists and showcase their talents, Dave has recently finished building a state-of-the-art recording studio, located at Alive HQ. Featuring a high-end Neve mixing console and SSL 4000 mixing console, along with a selection of vintage microphones, instruments and outboard equipment, it’s quickly established a reputation as being one of the best independently-owned studios in the country, attracting a number of high-profile producers and artists.

“We’ve invested over £500,000 in the studio to help artists on our development programme, ensuring promotional materials meet the expectations required and also to help the careers of talented acts that might not have been able to fund studio time elsewhere,” explains Dave.

“We’ve also got a talented in-house video production team that we use for filming live sessions, or intimate acoustic sets and interviews, which is really useful for artists looking to gain exposure through social media channels.”

Europe’s leading and largest contemporary music educator, the British and Irish Modern Music Institute (BIMM) have also been an advocate of Alive’s artist platform, working with the team as part of BIMM’s commercial performance programme, helping students and graduates gig and earn while they learn though private events.

“The UK is respected around the world for producing musical talent. At Alive Network, we want to be able to continue to support artists and ensure that talent is here for years to come.”

“Every single thing we do at BIMM is focused on helping artist’s achieve their goals and create successful, long-term music careers, says Toby Lawrence, Commercial Performance manager, BIMM.

“Our work with Alive doesn’t simply provide valid work opportunities for our students and graduates (BIMM artists have already earned over £1m through the partnership). It hones talent in performance and skills in business that will help them in their future careers, whether that’s as a songwriter, session musician or original artist.”

And what does the future hold for Alive Network? “We’re continuing to grow our roster of artists across the country, while growing our corporate client database and establishing ourselves as one of the leading global entertainment agencies,” explains Dave.

“We’re also really excited about some of the original artist projects that have recorded recently at the studio. Our next venture will be a record label and management company to fully support the music of these talented musicians.

“The UK is respected around the world for producing musical talent. At Alive Network, we want to be able to continue to support artists and ensure that talent is here for years to come.”

About Laura Barnes 149 Articles
Founder/Publisher of UK musical instrument industry publication MI Focus.