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Industry Talk: Alice Berntsen X-ray Touring

By Tina Brodal Posted: 22. Jan, 2020

Born to Belgian-Norwegian parents and being an international soul from birth, Alice Berntsen has always known that she wanted to work at a European level at least. A few months ago, she moved from Bergen to London to work for the global music agency X-ray Touring, an agency which represents more than 400 artists. Music Norway had a chat with Alice about the British Music Industry, and what she thinks is needed to make it in the UK live marked.

“Can you tell us a bit about the road to X-ray Touring and London, and how the opportunity came about?”

“When I closed the book on artist management last year, I realised that I longed to go back to the live music industry. I had been living in Bergen for seven years straight, but had among others previously worked as a production assistant for a great venue in Brussels, Le Botanique. I had enjoyed a few business trips to London as a Norwegian artist manager and felt that the city had much to offer. In other words, that it could fulfil my work ambitions as well as my show cravings, but could be right for me on a personal level too. So I decided to spread the word to some good acquaintances in the UK music industry, and to apply to jobs.

I was regularly checking music news websites for job ads, but got tipped about X-ray’s ad the same day it was published and applied straightaway. I actually never had the chance to meet anyone from X-ray before that, but loved the agency’s roster. Some word of mouth, and my application got additional support from a London-based promoter. I went through the interview rounds, and was offered the job. Four weeks later, I had moved to London! So I have been working for X-ray Touring for three months now, and am very happy to be working with such a great team.”

“Can you tell us a bit about what you’re doing in X-ray Touring and what your role consists of?”

“I am an assistant to live agent, teamed-up with Jamie Wade. He has approximately forty artists on his roster. When Jamie confirms a show or a tour, our team assistant and I take care of several aspects that this sets off and liaise with artist managers, tour managers, accountants and promoters. We coordinate announcements (artwork, ticket links etc.), and help finding support bands for our headline shows.

I take care of the financial part (sending invoices, chasing and releasing payments) and paperwork (sending contracts, trying to reduce withholding tax, applying for certificate of sponsorship). We also receive and compile ticket sales three times a week. With these figures we can see how sales are evolving and request updates on marketing/promo if necessary, or prepare to announce sold out shows. I believe we make a great trio, exchanging thoughts and supporting each other with the workload when needed.

I enjoy being” in the field” too, and going to shows. London is perfect for that. We go to most of the London shows of the artists we represent. It’s always great to meet the artists and managers in person, it makes the job more ”real” as we spend so much time on emails.”

“What do you think are some of the challenges of working in the British music industry?” 

“Good question, I’m not sure if I can think of any to this point. Maybe the fact that there are so many people in the industry? Creating a lot of competition?”

“What opportunities arises when working in London and in the British Music industry?”

“The market here is huge on its own, but I liaise daily with European promoters and beyond these geographical borders too. X-ray is one of the big industry players that has kept a human size, which is an ideal balance to have in relation to the artists. Network has always been important in the industry, which is definitely true in the UK.

We are also lucky that London is the main hub for booking agencies covering the continent, so it’s a great place to be, as promoters and artist representatives are more accessible. I have already significantly broadened my knowledge of UK promoters and understand the workings of the UK live market a lot better. I already had a good overview on what was happening in Benelux/France, but expect my international live market knowledge to grow further.”

“What are your thoughts on the current standing of Norwegian music internationally? Which direction is it heading?”

“Norway continuously unearths amazing new talents from all genres. The general focus these past few years has been on high profiles as for instance Sigrid and Alan Walker, but I think this is already evolving and more acts could be growing to a reasonable size across borders. I believe that the Norwegian music industry and artists have done a good job the last ten years at acquiring knowledge and building a network, and used it to profit on the long run.

And there is no doubt that Music Norway has been one of the organizations that have played a great role in facilitating both new knowledge and network.”

“Do you think we will be seeing more Norwegian music repertoire over the next few years and that this is something you might be working more with?”

“Yes, I think this goes with what I just mentioned. The number of artists going international that are “there to stay” might grow. I think that getting a good team in the targeted markets is key. They have the right connections. There are some Norwegian artists on X-ray’s roster already, but I would personally be happy to work with more Norwegian artists in the future. Time will tell!”

“Do you have any thoughts or advice to give on what is needed to make it in the British music industry, either as an industry professional or an artist?”

“As a music biz’ person, you have to be “on it”! Active, flexible, updated, trustworthy, build a network, be a good A&R. The landscape moves quite fast. So I would say that you should know where you want to go, understand the landscape you are evolving in and its pace, then use your collaboration skills to make things happen.

As an artist, you would want to make sure everyone is putting a real effort into it – the international team, but yourself and your management as well. It is rarely easy to get into a new market, and you would have to be well prepared, but also patient. My impression is that the UK fans are quite involved and loyal. So find the right channel for your audience in the UK, get them engaged with your music and who you are, then come and play (and try to make sure that the music industry comes to your best show too). If you have an agent in the UK already, do not wait thinking your job is done, it is just starting. There is so much happening over here in the UK that you should find a way to stand out somehow. So keep up the good work, everyone wishes you well after all!”

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