Back to PRS For Music after four years with AEG at The O2, Barney Hooper is director of marketing and communications at the performance royalty collection body. The ‘90s band Menswear and working on two spectacular concerts can be credited with his interest in the music business and his greatest ambition at the moment is closer to home.
What are your first live music memories?
“The first live show was Menswear at UEA [University of East Anglia] in Norwich in 1994 I think. I grew up in Cromer in Norfolk, so Norwich was the big smoke. I loved that gig so much that I followed up with The Bluetones shortly after. When you’re a ‘90s indy kid, there’s nothing better.
“Many years later I had great pleasure telling Menswear drummer and now BBC 6 Music presenter Matt Everitt that, when I first met him in the line of work.
“I got a job in communications/marketing in television, working at Turner Broadcasting for CNN and their children’s channels, as well as for a little known TV platform called HomeChoice, but that eventually got bought out and I got restless
“I started my career on the graduate scheme at consultancy Accenture and after three years there, moved over into public relations full time.”
How did you get into the music industry?
“The first live music event I worked on was a charity concert in South Africa for the Nelson Mandela Foundation and his HIV/AIDS charity 46664 in 2003. It was to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS and its impact globally and Nelson Mandela had gifted his prison number – prisoner 466 in 1964, so 46664 – to the campaign.
“Beyoncé, U2 and Queen headlined with a host of other major names, but there was only one true superstar at that concert and that was him. It was an amazing experience and everyone involved in it was fantastic to work with. My claim to fame is that I arranged all the flights for Beyoncé and her entourage.
“Then I was lucky enough to also work with the team that put on his 90th birthday celebrations in London in 2008. Again, another amazing experience.
“After a great start on a traditional graduate scheme, I got lucky and built contacts. Meeting people and building your network is so important and never burn your bridges, as you may go back, as I have done.
“My first full-time role in the music industry, after working freelance on those two concerts, was when I joined PRS for Music in 2008 as head of PR. Working specifically on live music events came when I joined AEG as communications director at The O2.
What were your greatest low and high points?
“By all standards, working at The O2 when the terrorist incident happened at Manchester Arena was a low point for everyone. Ariana was due to play The O2 next, so it especially hit home for us all. Fortunately, this industry knows how to bounce back, help people cope and return to normal as soon as possible.
“As for high points, working on Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday concert in Hyde Park in 2008 can’t be beaten. The late, great Amy Winehouse was incredible. It was all truly memorable experience, but a manically busy few months leading up to it, but incredibly exhilarating.”
Where do you see the live music business going?
“Working at The O2 was a fantastic experience and I saw just how impactful live is, with some of the biggest acts on the planet playing there. People want to see their favourite acts perform and you can’t imitate the live experience.
“As with so many businesses, the sector needs to continually adapt to stay relevant and grow. There is a wealth of talent out there and we all need to do more to improve diversity right across the industry.
“Music by its very nature is diverse, but for those of us on the business side of the industry i.e. behind the scenes, we need to continually challenge ourselves to match the diversity of our output, in the organisations in which we work. “
“Having just started back at PRS, I’m looking forward to working with all aspects of the industry again. The organisation is unique in that it touches every part of the music business, providing that vital income for those that create and publish music. Ensuring songwriters, composers and music publishers earn whenever their music is used, is a worthy cause to fight for.”
How do you unwind?
“I’m married to the amazing Nicola and we have two children, Arabella, aged three and the all-important half, and seven-months-old Louis.
“With two small children, there is no winding down. Leisure time at the moment is a lot of box sets and Netflix.
“As for my current personal ambitions, getting Louis to sleep beyond 5.30 in the morning is No 1.”