Dedicated to the Business of Contemporary Live Music

Backstage Star – Tim Thornhill

16 January 2020

As director of the entertainment and sport division at insurance broker Tysers (formerly known as Integro Entertainment & Sport), Tim Thornhill is responsible for sales and marketing strategy, mergers and acquisitions, as well as building the team. One particular focus in recent years has been adapting cover to cope with extreme weather, potential terrorist threats and geopolitical factors around the world.

What are your first live music memories?

“Whilst at university, my housemate at the time, Jack Dexter, decided to become a DJ, but it didn’t work out. Never one to want to miss out on the-next-big-thing, I decided to have a go.

“With a serious lack of music talent and a large dose of gung-ho spirit, I took a bold step in to promotion. My first job was to encourage the good people of Nottingham to attend my club nights, while I made ever smaller steps towards becoming an international DJ.

“One balmy evening in summer 2005, I promoted the last ever night at once-legendary venue The Bomb. It was an underground club and pretty small – a great atmosphere, but lacking certain standards of hygiene.

“DJ Yousef [Circus] played and everyone agreed it was a fitting end for the club. However, somehow The Bomb managed to retain its licence and a couple of weeks later we did a second last ever event, upping the ante and flying over Justin Long from Chicago.

“Rarely finding time for studying while at the University of Nottingham, my main passion was snowsports and I spent most of the winter in the Alps, setting-up university ski trips and alpine events. One such trip involved 468 students descending on the resort of Les Deux Alpes. Sadly, a nasty ski injury meant I was out of action for the duration and had to see a spinal surgeon.”

How did you get into the entertainment industry?

“Running the snowsports events led the tour operator to ask me to join them as an event manager. Part of the role was to ensure customers were entertained off the slopes, as well as on. I began to oversee booking bars, venues and bands, and that was my first true step into a paid career in the live music sector.

“A couple of years later I became the MD and we made a move towards events, organising festivals in the alps for up to 2,500 people. As a small team we would all muck in, putting-up marquees, hiring artistes and managing the production. From booking transport and accommodation, to ski hire and setting-up speakers, we did whatever was needed.”

How did your career develop?

“After five years in the Alps, and with a deep tan that covered approximately two-thirds of my face, my now wife decreed that we would not be together for much longer if I continued to spend one hundred days a year in the Alps. So I found a job in the UK at an insurance firm, although sadly it did not have a sport and entertainment [E&S] team.

“Whilst the relationship was saved, I hadn’t yet found my place in the business world. That is, until I was offered a job working at a firm that had an E&S division.”

What were your high and low points

“One memorable low came when I was responsible for booking over 700 apartments in the alps for 2,300 people arriving on a Saturday. On the Tuesday before I had a bad gut feeling and on inspection, found I had copied and pasted the spreadsheet incorrectly and we were 80 beds short in a very popular ski resort. I managed to find a few more rooms, but not enough.

“The solution was myself and other members of staff sleeping on bean bags in the festival marquee for the first three days, at an altitude of 2,100m.

“On the up side, last year we secured the Royal Albert Hall as a client and now do all its insurance. The team there are a pleasure to work with and it is one of my favourite venues, plus we also have many of our promoter and artiste clients performing there throughout the year.”

Where do you see the industry going?

“As an industry, we need to make sure that everyone who is working in the sector knows what risks they are up against. This will allow the industry to continue to develop its standards, to ensure events are safe, well-run and give audiences the best possible experience.

“The industry is expanding globally and you only have to look at the money that is going into the Middle East’s music scene to see that. For example Saudi Arabia is hosting a 70,000-capacity event with some of the biggest names in entertainment.”

How do you unwind?

“My gorgeous wife Liv keeps me both honest and on my toes. She is incredibly understanding as well as being a wonderful mother to our two sons, Leo, now two, and Rex, born in December.

“As for winding down, anyone who has two young kids and time for hobbies, please drop me an email and let me know your secret.

“Personally, I would like to be carbon neutral by 2023, but perhaps a more achievable ambition is to take my sons on their first trip to the Alps in the next few years.”

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