Harvey Goldsmith: Vintage…and simply a touch of class
The choice last week was either to go to the UK MMF Awards in London or to be specially invited to see a man I’ve respected (and always wanted to work with) since I can first remember, that man being Harvey Goldsmith CBE. Now, it’s been a habit of brands to get celebrities involved in their public relations activities, and many of these events can be slightly awkward. However the very clever Fever PR, who work with the likes of HTC, Napster, Warner Brothers, Amazon, and Virgin Games, brought together one legendary brand with another. Harvey had been asked to deliver his ‘vintage year’ by Penfolds, Australia’s most iconic wine producer at the swish Hospital Club on 13th September 2011, and I couldn’t wait.
Recently the advertising and PR sectors have been working hard to garner effective networking channels with the entertainment world via a host of events, with the likes of the Music Managers Forum and Ogilvy Mather leading the way in opening up much needed dialogue and collaboration. It seems the tide has turned in that music in the social media world we now live in is growing in value in the world of the brand, whereas before in advertising it seemed to be simply an add-on at the last minute. This was common ground from the recent Labliveday at Ogilvy Mather and the Vision Sound Music event both in London, and to see music and its publics as a starting point rather than an afterthought is a welcome change.
The Penfolds Vintage Years Speaker Events look to bring together budding entrepreneurs with iconic businessmen. This event, with the ever successful and legendary music promoter Harvey Goldsmith, shared the secrets of his success and his own personal vintage year, 1985…..or as we all know it, the year of Live Aid.
As one of the UK’s best known music industry impresarios, Harvey has produced and promoted shows over four decades with global superstars such as Bruce Springsteen, The Eagles, Led Zeppelin, The Who, The Rolling Stones, Luciano Pavarotti, U2, Queen, and Cirque du Soleil to name but a few. In 1973, he formed Artiste Management Productions to produce and manage music artists, and in 1976 Harvey Goldsmith Entertainment Limited, which became the UK’s leading promoter of concerts & events. In 2002 Harvey Goldsmith Productions was formed to carry on the legacy of leading Concert and Events promotions. From Live Aid in 1985 to Live 8 in 2005, chairing The British Music Experience at the O2 Arena and managing the legendary Jeff Beck, it was with no surprise that Harvey was honoured with a CBE by the Queen in 1996 and the Music Industry Trust Award (MITS).
From a youth angle Harvey has been a supporter of many leading causes throughout the years joining The Prince’s Trust in 1982 and producing the first Princes Trust Rock Gala. Goldsmith then became a member of the The Prince’s Trust Board and Vice Chairman of Prince’s Trust Trading Ltd. More recently he has produced the Teenage Cancer Trust shows at the Royal Albert Hall, and supported several scholarships at the new Ravensbourne College campus at Greenwich where Harvey via his role as trustee of the Ahmet Ertegun Education Fund has created a degree course for the next generation of digital music entrepreneurs. He truly is a national treasure.
It is with no doubt in anyone’s mind that 1985 was a very important year on both sides of the coin and the World. Live Aid, produced with Sir Bob Geldof, raising a staggering £160 million for famine relief in Africa and beamed to 60 countries. When Harvey met Bob is a much talked about tale, but what it did deliver was the passion to not only produce a truly amazing entertainment production with little of the communication tools we use today, but to focus the consumer eye on a global issue which we’re all part of and still are to this day. (I still have all 17 hours on tape which is one of my most prized possessions.)
1985…the year of the Global Jukebox advised Harvey was a ‘great year for artists, charity and record sales’, but also it was the year when the ‘media realised the power of making money out of celebrity’. In terms of what is missing from the music industry today Harvey pointed out that TV reality shows are ‘good entertainment’ but were not bringing through the credible artists of the past, simply because the frustration of life is not being written about and the rebellious youth culture of his childhood is more about conformity these days. He said ‘there needs to be more rebelliousness in the youth to come and stand up and do something different, that’s what we want and that’s what we need’.
Like making a fine wine, producing and promoting music events can be seen as a cross between art and science, good business nous, and luck. However knowing your product and your publics inside and out is the key to long term success. Surely we should consistently strive to listen more to the greats in our industry and the new kids on the block, to continue any form of continued success especially in the live sector. Harvey for example has been very critical of high ticket prices, secondary ticketing in general, and the lack of quality acts coming through the system.
He made the point during his talk that he had spent his life working with acts at the top and bottom of the industry, ‘the top pays for it and the bottom is the excitement, because when you can discover a new talent that’s fantastic although today it’s really, really difficult’. He made clear at present ‘there is not a good filtering mechanism to allow good talent to rise out and the problem with the record industry is because physical records are not selling as well, the record companies are in disarray, so they’re not putting enough time and effort into nurturing new talent and sticking with it’.
When asked about new talent moving up within the industry that he respected he said the clearest example is of Adele. With ‘no record shops and record companies dying because physical record sales are dropping between 15 and 18 percent a year, and here’s this girl that came out of nowhere and has sold 10 million albums, so it proves the point that if you A, talent, and B, come up with a great song or a great body of work and get it out there and people find it, believe it or not it still works…so there’s always hope’.
He made the final point, ‘It’s hard, I’m not the saviour of the world, but I am trying to encourage our whole industry, as I’m a kind of godfather of it all I guess at the moment, to really focus on putting some effort into new talent because they’re our life blood’.
We salute you Harvey……………
Video of Harvey Goldsmith speaking at Penfold’s Event (Courtesy Fever PR):