‘Helping Out Is What We Do’: Inside Marshall’s New Live Booking Agency

– Gallus.
One of the Marshall Live Agency’s clients.

Marshall has been powering live performances for almost six decades. The iconic British company has now launched its own booking agency, the Marshall Live Agency. 
Seven bands have already been signed, including Bristol’s Make Friends, Polar States from Liverpool and Gallus from Glasgow. Pollstar reached out to marketing director Philippa Neath, and head of the new agency, Stuart Vallans, to get the lowdown.
Vallans worked at a booking agency for the better part of ten years before joining Marshall. During that time, he strongly felt that looking after the artists, as well as promoters and the support staff, should be the main priority. His focus is on making sure that the right deals are in place not only for the artists he represents but also for the promoters and wider live community, something that will have a knock on affect for many years to come.
“It comes to a point where your judgements start getting skewed by the financial aspect, rather than what’s best for the bands and artists,” he explained, adding that it was never about the money for him.
Vallans has always been honest and outspoken about his ethics and industry views– a stance that chimed with Marshall commercial director Alex Coombes. Together with Alex Coombes, Philippa Neath and the head of Marshall Records Steve Tannett, they began to entertain the idea of launching a new agency, one that chimed a business philosophy, Vallans sums up as follows:
Heading up the Marshall Live Agency
– Heading up the Marshall Live Agency
From left: Steve Tannett, Head of Records, Jon Ellery, Managing Director and Stuart Vallans, Head of Marhall Live Agency.

“It’s about looking after the entire live ecosystem as much as possible. Obviously we’ve got to make sure we’re taking care of our bands and getting them the best deals possible, but that shouldn’t be the be all and end all. An artist’s team spreads further than just agent, manager, label etc, the promoters, crew and venue staff are all seen as our team, so we need to make sure they are looked after as well”

One of the reasons the agency business fits so well with the Marshall brand is the fact that it’s been associated with live music for nearly 60 years. “It started, because both Jim and Terry Marshall, wanted to help musicians achieve the sound they wanted. The whole ethos of the brand has always been helping musicians in every way we can, either with their equipment, from a label perspective helping them get a record deal, helping them get promoted, and, now, helping them get booked, making sure they get the backing that they deserve”
“A big part of what we do is support grassroots music, in particular,” Neath continued, “Obviously, we do support all artists, they’re phenomenal, and we’re very grateful for them, but we put a lot of our efforts into trying to give grassroots musicians a platform to be heard”
Marshall is in a good place for this approach, thanks to its successful range of products. “We’ve got the brand, and we’ve got a stable business, so we’re in a very strong position,” said Neath.
The reason the team decided to launch the agency right in the most uncertain time this industry has ever faced is that “this is when musicians need the help most,” Vallans explained, “and not just musicians. The venues need help, the promoters and the festivals need help, the techs, the sound guys, the tour managers, they all need help, it’s the entire ecosystem. 
“Because we’re focused on giving the entire industry a helping hand, the venues and promoters are getting better deals, the bands are getting more of the live revenue and can therefore take on crew members. They might be able to pay their press agent a bit more. There’s a knock-on effect just from one person taking a step back and doing things in a more holistic way.”
All of the artists signed to Marshall Live have been primed to not just see the company as a booking agency that negotiates with promoters, but as one that stands fully behind the promoters. “They’re on our team, we’re all working towards the same goal, so let’s give the promoters everything they need, and do everything in our capacity to help them,” Vallans explained.
The agency’s main focus for the coming months will be booking shows for its current roster of bands. “We’re focusing on festivals for 2022, and what we need to do to get onto those, finalizing tours for the end of this year, looking at further opportunities for the bands, which goes beyond live,” he continued, touching on another aspect, signees to the Marshall Live Agency benefit from aside from the company’s financial stability and brand awareness: its contacts within the industry. 
“We know a lot of people,” said Vallans, “publishers, labels, press agents, etc. Some of our bands are going to be on our own label as well, so there’s the possibility to flesh out a career entirely in-house. 
“One of our latest signings CRASHFACE are filming their new video in a couple of weeks, and we’re sorting them out with all their amps for that. We’re also helping them out with a guitar endorsement as well. They are also going to be getting some BBC Radio 1 airplay through my connections there. Lots of things are happening. Helping out is what we do.”