People making it in the music industry: Tim Stark
We all dream of working in the music industry, and South African Editor Andrea Steyn of BeatsandBeyond.com caught up with Tim Stark of Stark Profiles PR, U.K.
Bnb: It’s great to meet someone as successful as you, that is ‘making it’ in the music scene. So here we go with a few questions about it all:
Can you describe the company that you are currently with? What does the company do, and what do you do there? (I noticed you are one of the big shots). Is it by any chance your own company?
TS: I own and manage StarkProfilesPR. We’re a boutique public relations agency, servicing trance DJ/producers and dabbling from time to time in a wee bit of house!
BnB: Where are you based in the globe?
TS: We’re based in Oxford in the UK. It’s equidistant between London and the UK’s second city, Birmingham. So geographically (for the UK at least) we’re happy!
BnB: It would be great to find out how you ended up in this position right now. How long have you worked towards this goal?
TS: In terms of how I ended up in it, well publicity and public relations is a curious beast. It’s not a job anyone ever really walks into on day one in the music biz. Regardless of the industry, it’s something you have to have had lots of peripheral/build-up experience to tackle. It’s a ‘school-of-life’ thing. I started in dance music behind the counter of a record store in ’94, got into DJing, moved to work as the sales manager for a London-based record distributor (Amato, RIP). Whilst there I started co-producing in the studio with some incredibly talented guys I met and launched the ATCR record label. Around the same time I started writing/reviewing trance for DJ Mag and went on to open a mail-order record store. As a publicist you need a good all-round insight into how the industry system works and that only comes from having experienced it. I always say, the only job that requires more all-round experience than a PR agent, is an artist manager! That is seriously the most previous-experience-mandatory job there is.
BnB: Would you say your success is based on luck, or sheer hard work?
TS: Everyone catches a lucky break sometimes. I’ve had a couple. My most memorable one was when someone overheard a phone call on the way into London early one morning in 1997. I won’t bore you with all the details, but after that everything changed. I believe the harder you work, the more involved you are, the more you get yourself out there, then the more lucky moments you’re likely to have. Strangely, in this instance, luck actually becomes something of a numbers game!
BnB: Did you ever imagine that you would be where you are today? Do you have any thoughts on us plebs wanting to get into a similar line of work? We are often told to rather study a business degree, or do accounting (or like me being pushed into doing a science degree by my parents). It’s often true that you study one thing, and end up working another thing.
TS: Hey, I’ve done plenty of plebby jobs! Hasn’t everyone?! In short though, no, I probably didn’t think I’d get where I am today. Does anyone?!! When I first had my head turned by dance music, the industry was a club. The fabled Balearic Mafia. The people who were in that club were (quite rightly) the people who created the scene. If you wanted in you had to have something serious to contribute to it. Quite tough for someone who didn’t know one end of a keyboard (or a Technics 1210) from the other! My parents never pushed me in any direction, almost to a fault in fact. It did mean that when ‘the door’ opened a crack I was unencumbered and more than in a position to throw myself into it.
BnB: So, what kind of opportunities exist in the music industry? Is it really a solid life-long career that any person can consider? What specific role do you fulfil in the industry right now?
TS: You often ask yourself if it is a lifelong career. I believe it is. The music industry is ALWAYS changing though and it is about adapting to those changes. That’s one of the things I love about it. You’re always being kept on your toes. My role is pretty simple on paper. Whatever one of my 24/7 clients do, I take it to all outlets of the media and try to develops as much exposure as possible out of it. These days, in terms of new opportunities, well two words: ‘social’ and ‘media’!
BnB: Now, I noticed that your company has such an All Star Cast of the most happening performers that the dance music scene has to offer. Gosh, I would love to know how this all happened and how long it took to get there.
TS: In 2005 an artist and mate I’d been working for 5 years or so was advised by his DJ agent that he needed a publicist. I’d been in the record label game for 6 years, had some itchy feat, also had some journo experience. So when it was offered, I took the job. It’s built from there really and, as a move, it is truly the one I’m happiest with in my career.
BnB: Are there any special achievements you have achieved that you would like to share?
TS: In the summer of 1993 I wrote a stupendously badly punctuated letter to DJ Mag asking if I could scribe for them. Rather unsurprisingly, I didn’t receive an immediate answer. It is probably my bit of dance music wish-fulfilment that 8 years later they took me on as their trance reviewer. I do still have concerns (read: re-occurring nightmares!) that they have the original letter on file somewhere though! I’ve got James Horrocks to thank for the job. James, wherever you are, thanks amigo!
BnB: What is your hit prediction for the winter season (which is summer here in the northern hemisphere)?
TS: Ooof, tough! Well I did hear a track from the forthcoming Markus Schulz album last Saturday night, which should have come pre-stamped with the words ‘game changer’. I’ve not been able to stop listening to it since. In the genre the trance-dub-step bubble seems to be growing. I thought I was going to hate that, and find it really contrived, but it’s actually growing some pretty decent music.
BnB: What is your most desired event that you would like to attend in the next year (ok, and of course, we will exclude the holiday to South Africa I am bringing you to).
BnB: Haha! We’ll that’d be Transmission in Prague. I’ve been the last 2 years running and the atmosphere and production is incredible. Since Trance Energy was put up (prematurely!) on bricks, it hass kind of taken its place as the foremost independent event in the scene.
BnB: What song or band changed your entire life that once you heard the music of that band or that song, your life was never the same?
TS: Soooooo boring an answer, but it is always, only and forever will be the same. ‘Unfinished Sympathy’. I’m seriously getting goose bumps writing the words. How mad is that?
BnB: Thank you so much for sharing the love.
TS: thanks to you guys. Good exercise for me this 😉
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