Entrepreneur and content curator Alexandra Ampofo better known as “Planet Alex” has been making her mark on the creative industry for a number of years. As the founder of Acoustic Live, she has been instrumental in the growth and development of the urban acoustic scene within London.
Here is what happened when we caught up Alex for our Black History Month Special.
Tell us more about yourself and how you came with the idea for Acoustic Live?
Came up with the idea for Acoustic Live with my business partner Que. There was a general lack of free events around the UK for people of our demographic. And the free events that already existed didn’t cater to the acoustic sound specifically, it was birthed from that premise. We knew we wanted to encourage more positive and consistent collaboration between venues and artists, that lead the idea for Acoustic Live.
What has been the biggest shock on you journey so far?
I’ve not really been shocked by anything on our journey so far but peoples’ lack of open-mindedness when it comes to creating an experience with an event has been a different experience. When you’re up for taking trial and error seriously and trying new things, I struggled to keep in mind that not all brands/artists you work with have that same eagerness.
How do you think your race, age and gender impact your work if at all?
Race, gender and age, in that order, have all greatly impacted me. When you’re black and woman, the odds are already stacked against you, and when you throw being a YOUNG woman (early twenties) in to the mix, the ladder become ten times longer. On the flip side, race, gender and age have been motivational factors for me, so some might say they’ve worked in my favour, pushed me to work harder, and therefore seeing better results.
What are your thoughts on the current state of the UK music scene?
I think the UK music scene is in a great place, artists no longer must rely on labels to fund their projects, they can release pretty much anything independently AND it can still do the number required to make a decent return on investment. I think we as consumers need to do more to support our artists in terms of buying physical tickets to their shows. I think the reason ticket sale numbers don’t necessarily reflect how many supporters an artist has is because the average consumer has a 9-5 job and spends their salary on bills and general living costs. Maybe if we can get ticket prices down a little, more people would be willing to support in that way. It’s something to try out.
More artists are collaborating with brands and organisations, bigger artists are working with artists who haven’t had their break through yet.
Something I am concerned about it the stain on drill music the media are trying to create. Where I don’t like all drill artists, nor agree with some of the lyrics (especially if it’s a true account), I do think drill has a well-deserved place in the UK music industry.
Specifically speaking about A&Rs, in this microwave culture do you think there is still a place for them?
I think there still is a space for A&R’S most definitely. Although they can be forgotten and go under-appreciated, they’re the gatekeepers of the industry, without them talent scouting may take a dip. I do think A&R’s need to go back to completely overseeing artistic development. Over the years, the lines have become increasingly blurred between the roles of an A&R, a manager, an agent etc. but there still is a place, especially if we’re talking about A&R’s who focus only on finding and breaking new emerging talent.
What are the three biggest lessons you’ve learned from running your own business?
Patience is a virtue. Do not hold verbal contracts with anyone, even if you’re friends. Keeping track of receipts for invoices, VAT, taxes, and filing them straight away, makes life easier.
Where do you find motivation when things get hard?
Thinking about making my Dad proud motivates me every time I flirt with the idea of giving everything up. He’s supported me in my dream even when he didn’t understand what it was I wanted to do. He’s never questioned me or made me feel as if I couldn’t make a credible name for myself in the music industry. He comes to my events, even though he doesn’t enjoy some of the genres showcased at my shows. He is my biggest motivation.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to start their own business?
Try and find funding from a corporation and when you do, make sure you can at least breakeven before making any investments. Don’t mix business and pleasure. Work with people who are multi-skilled, makes it easier to make contingency plans when something fails. Lastly, always
What’s next for you Alex? Any upcoming projects we should be looking out for?
We’ve been doing our events quarterly and following the success of our last three shows, we’re planning a winter show at Acoustic Live. Also working on some online content for some new artists, due to be uploaded on our YouTube more frequently!
Any final shout-outs or plugs?
I would like to shout out everyone who is trying their best to lift their creative plans off the ground, there’s room for us all, our time is coming.