Each October the Oxjam Music Festival takes over towns and cities the length and breadth of the country with a series of one-day multi-venue festivals, known as Takeovers. The teams of volunteers that put on these events begin work on them months in advance, dedicating much time and considerable effort to this great celebration of their local music scene, and raising loads of money for Oxfam.
We recently sat down with Aiden Canaday, the Takeover Manager for this year’s Oxford Takeover (and, very conveniently for us, a member of our Support department – travel expenses were pretty low for this interview!), and asked him to tell us all about the challenges of putting on the event, and how you could get involved next year.
WeGotTickets: How did you come to be involved with the Oxjam Oxford Takeover?
Aiden Canaday: I helped out last year’s Takeover manager Saba Kiani, mainly as a venue manager on the day but also helping with advice and logistics in the run up to the main event. She is a friend of mine and asked for my advice as I have been playing and promoting music in Oxford for a number of years. It was great to see her do such a great job, especially as she didn’t have any hands on event managing experience before hand. It was rather inspiring!
WeGotTickets: What previous experience of promoting gigs did you have?
AC: I have been running shows for local and touring acts for about 6 years in both Oxford and London under the name Divine Schism. I have put shows on at most of the small to medium capacity sized venues in Oxford and one or two in London. I also set up and ran the lo-fi art and music bi-monthly Pop Up Nights at Fusion Arts for a few years in Oxford. I tend to make all of my own artwork for the shows along with setting up and running the social media side of things.
WeGotTickets: You put on a couple of fundraising events before the Takeover itself. Can you tell us more about those and why you did that?
AC: As part of the Takeovers it is suggested that you set up some fundraisers to help both fund and promote the main event. With this in mind I decided to focus on non-musical, or non-gig, events to mix it up in a sense so that they wouldn’t take anything away from the main music festival. I generally just set up some events involving a lot of people I know in the local football and art scenes. We ran a football tournament fundraiser with a mix of local bands and football teams and also an 8-week long art exhibition that concluded with an auction. They were both a huge success in that everyone involved enjoyed participating and also raised a lot of money for the main event. It was great to have the venues on board who hosted the multi-venue exhibition and this in-turn spread the Oxjam word even further around the community. Looking back it was all very community based with the view to getting lots of enthusiastic people on board who helped everything be a success.
Not only did Aiden (top left) organise the six-a-side tournament, he also played in the winning team. Match fixing scandal, anyone?
WeGotTickets: What were the biggest challenges you faced in the run up to the event?
AC: The biggest challenges tended to creep up on my team and I the week of the event. We were pretty organised and laid a lot of the ground work in April – sorting venues, initially contacting bands – which meant we generally had it all sorted. However, on the week of the event the people who we thought were lending us a lot of electrical equipment (PA equipment/mics/amps etc) pulled out and so did a whole host of volunteer sound engineers! Luckily, due to the wonderful Oxford music scene, I was able to get volunteers for the sound desks and all the equipment we needed. The downside of that was sending about 60 emails a day for a week or so and driving all over Oxfordshire the day before the Takeover picking up PA equipment!
WeGotTickets: Talk us through the day of the Takeover. Was it stressful?
AC: Wonderfully, the day ran pretty smoothly. All of the artists and volunteers involved on the day turned up on time and brought what they said they’d bring which really helped. The only true stress was a blown PA amp and clearing out the smaller daytime venues and moving the gear from those venues to other venues. I started to relax and watch acts from about 5pm and enjoyed the rest of the night as a punter almost. Kudos to everyone involved for sticking to the game plan so to speak – that helped alleviate stress!
Photo: Cristina Camilla Px
WeGotTickets: What tips would you give to anyone thinking of applying to be on a Takeover team next year?
AC: Be organised and have a vision. If you don’t have any live music experience, don’t worry – seek guidance from those that do and ask questions. This is the same for marketing and fundraising. Get to know your local music scene if you don’t already. Get the venues on board early along with some early emails to the acts you want to play. For the main Takeover make sure you know who is running the stages and providing sound equipment. Make sure you and your team keep communicating at all times and have clear objectives. Communication is key! Have fun with your fundraisers – they don’t have to be music-related. And of course – don’t be a dick.
Whether you want to raise loads of money for a great global charity or get event management experience, this is a fantastic opportunity for anyone to put their mark on their local music scene.
Find out more about how you can get involved with Oxjam 2017 here, and check out Aiden’s upcoming Divine Schism gigs here.
WeGotTickets has been the Official Ticketing Partner of the Oxjam Music Festival since 2008, donating tens of thousands to the cause from our booking fees and customer donations, helping train their Gig Makers and Takeover teams, and providing them with a fully branded ticketing portal.
For more like this follow @WGT_Steven on Twitter.