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Promoter Spotlight : Sankeys Stoke

In 2017 we kicked off our Artist Spotlight Series, where we sit down with DJs from all over the world to find out a little more about their journey and background. This month, we begin our Promoter Spotlight Series, to catch up with the unsung heroes of our industry – the Club Promoter. Each month, we’ll sit down with a promoter that is shaking up our industry and has caught our eye … first we head to Stoke-on-Trent to sit down with Ed Davis from Sankeys Stoke, to pick his brains on the ins and outs of club promotion. -- Hi Ed, thanks for joining us. We have to be honest, Sankeys and Stoke are two words we never thought we'd see in a sentence together! What made you bring this iconic brand to the land of the Potteries?

Haha funny isn't it? It's great. It all started with the #DoYouWannaSankeys campaign that the UK brand team in London came up with, and obviously being from Stoke-on-Trent myself - made sure it was included on the list of Cities as I knew it would bang up here. We then had the stoke lads, Nige, Daz & Andy of D.N.A. join forces with Sankeys Stoke to make sure it was brought here. Might I add, the people of Stoke and surrounding area love a party! We've been proved right by that too - each event has been brilliant! So big ups to the Stoke & Staffordshire fanbase and all those that have come. You've done the Potteries proud.  We're quite familiar with the rave history in Stoke-on-Trent with the legendary Shelley's Club being the place that practically made Sasha famous! But we're a little out of touch with it now to be honest. Can you tell us what the nightlife is like in Stoke nowadays? Do you see a lot of competition for house and techno club nights?

The Stoke scene is in a very healthy position right now - it's a good time for the city again as we've now got more than one/two parties to go to. We've now got Sankeys Stoke, Golden, Shelley's, Hybrid has just started, then you've got The Move and also Bonanza. So yes, lot's of 'competition' as you say but that's a good thing! I see it all as a positive - it helps you challenge your thinking, your bookings, what you can offer people. Imagine you had no competition - how boring would it be? Tech House/House - it's all popular music now - even techno is going that way. It's started to fall into the mainstream and everyone wants a piece of the pie. At Sankeys we know the pie is big enough to share, some people though don't think like that - but whatever, that's up to them. I try to stay out of the political side of things man, don't chat shit about other promoters and their parties, that's their thing and yours is yours. I'm genuinely not fussed about what people do - it's a funny old world :)  We, the Sankeys Stoke team, want the city to do well and grow. We want to bring people into the city. We want other promoters in the city to do well too. So far we've managed to dance around each other and dates put in bar one, which was the Morillo date and too big to turn down. I think it's good to be respectful of what people are doing - we all want the same thing. We're all in this grind together. Since we announced that Sankeys was coming to Stoke there has been a few things said and done (which was expected) as we are now part of the competition i guess, but for us we just want to give the people options, open up the market and put some bloody good events on! We don't want to book the same artists all the time, we want to take a bit of risk and bring old and new artists here rather than putting the 'same same; on. No matter what industry you're in, you will always have competition - you either focus on your own stuff or get distracted watching everyone else. Remember, at the end of the day it's just a fucking disco. We're here to put smiles on faces and allow people to have a good time and escape from the daily bullshit for a night ;)  I'll add to this, something we are doing at Sankeys Stoke is trying to give as many local artists the chance to play in front of 800+ crowds. This is important to the City scene, it gives the DJ's another stepping stone to focus on in their own musical journey. So to any local DJ's out there reading this, make us a mix - play the music you love rather than the music you think we want to hear. We hear so many of the same sets, we want you to stand out :) A quick glance at your your social media, and it's easy to see that the crowd at Sankeys Stoke is so full of energy .. it's as if you've brought Ibiza to Stoke-on-Trent! What do you think makes the Stoke crowd different to elsewhere in the UK? Honestly, the people of Stoke are some of the best in the world! They are always up for a party, love a good laugh, we are salt of the earth people. There has always been a good energy from the crowd at our parties, it's great. So many people will come up to us on the nights saying "thanks, what a great night". That means a lot and it makes the team quite proud. It's a good feeling.  You've really gone from strength to strength in attracting big line-ups to Stoke, with house music royalty, Erick Morillo, joining you in January and a jam-packed night with Secondcity & Bontan just last week. Can you share any other exciting 2018 plans you have for the brand? Yousef, Shadow Child, Erick Morillo, Bontan, Secondcity, Pirate Copy, Ellie Cocks, Eli Brown in just 4 shows is great. We can't say too much as other will be reading this ;) However, we plan to bring more global stars, more legends, more current, more newcomers to stoke. Like i mentioned, we don't want to keep boking the same names, it's important for people to hear new DJ's and their music. That's what it's all about right?  This may be a tricky one but how would you compare one of your big nights at Sankeys in Ibiza vs its Stoke counterpart? Wow - good question. Sankeys Ibiza is fucking good man! Seeing that Basement and Lab go off is mega - purely because it's a mixed crowd, but saying that, so is Stoke! The people of Stoke will give anyone in any city a run for their money when it comes to throwing it down at a rave! Trust me on that haha. It doesn't matter where you are in the world, as long as the crowd in front of you is connecting with the artists playing and everyone is in a safe environment - you're always going to get a good energy about the place.  Sankeys Stoke is only four parties in and each time we've seen a great reaction to each show which gets better and better.

Recently, we've seen a huge resurgence in promoters and club nights all over the UK ... it seems like everyone wants a slice of the pie! With so much competition out there, what things do you think a promoter has to do to stand out from the crowd nowadays? Again, as I said earlier - I feel that the pie is big enough to share :) It's a tricky one - people think brands become an overnight success - they don't. The brands you see nowadays have been at it for 5, 6, 7 + years. They've lost thousands, they've nearly quit, they've been up against bigger promoters who block their moves. How to stand out - create your own vibe, your own energy. I've always thought  - create a party where you don't necessarily need a headline booking. A place where people go to have a good craic! Over the years we've all see parties that rip other brands off. They never last though as they're just following someone else's plan/idea and then hit a wall.  Today's promoter is very different to those of the 90s and early 2000s, there's certainly less flyering and more social media! But from your experience over the years, what do you think are the key ingredients to a successful club night promotion? I remember flyering in Ibiza it was good craic that haha. Loved it.  Luck, right place right time plays a huge part. Money is another - the general public is blind to how much some parties cost nowadays. It's mad. Hence ticket prices going up. Online promo is very important in today's world. Good content, a good online team, good branding but you know what, people who believe in your brand/party. These are essentially your brand ambassadors. They are the people who are sharing your content for the love because they had a good time at your events. Social Media has taken over our lives in recent years and has also become a key marketing tool for any promoter ... Live Streaming and Virtual Reality have now become normal at any event, but is this new technology something that promoters should embrace or avoid? Embrace it, it's there to help with brand exposure. Anyone in the world can watch your content when put in the right places! There could be some kid in Goa watching a Sankeys Stoke video - madness haha. I do feel we also need to have a backup plan though - we have to remember, these tools we use are just websites and apps! Facebook, Insta, Twitter, Snapchat are so powerful but what happens when people start switching off or some mad ruling gets passed and then, bam, it's gone. Then what are we going to do? It's quite scary when you think about it. Speaking about new technology … you've been an early adopter and supporter of Evermix from the start - as a promoter, where do you see the most value in the platform and being able to capture recordings from your events? Evermix is great! Arranging to get artists to record a set is becoming harder as they are playing quite a few unreleased tracks or just don't want too. When they do agree it’s so easy as you literally plug in and press play. You don't have to spend the next day cutting up files, sending them off to get mastered, the whole process is a lot more manageable - plug in, press record, listen, download, send to management, get it cleared, upload to the listening platform. Done.  Lastly, what other plans are there for the Sankeys brand in the UK - anything you can share with us? Haha i can't share anything just yet. There is news coming soon though :)  Thanks for your time Ed, we look forward to seeing what you have planned ;)