Tough working day never goes out of tune for Dubai music promoter

The music promoter behind this weekend's Michael Bublé and Drake concerts reveals the 18-hour days that go into hosting such big names in the UAE.

Amy Wilkinson-Lough is the founder of the Dubai-based music promoter Louder Entertainment. Courtesy Amy Wilkinson-Lough
Powered by automated translation

Amy Wilkinson-Lough always wanted to be in music – but wasn’t under any illusion that being on stage was right for her. “I knew from the age of eight that music was the only industry that I wanted to be in,” says the 32-year-old. “And while in my mind I can sing like Beyoncé, the reality is I can’t.” The British expatriate last year founded the Dubai-based music promoter Louder Entertainment, which organised this weekend’s live performances by the singer Michael Bublé and rapper Drake. Here she explains how the logistics behind these Dubai concerts call for some tough 18-hour days:


I fall out of bed in the morning. The reason for that is that I box for half an hour at 6.15am. It’s the perfect way to start the day: I’ve usually forgotten about any frustration, stress, or angry emails by the time I’ve finished. At 7.30am I head over to a gym in Al Quoz and train for an hour.


Breakfast is the one meal I try to take on my own every morning. I can read all about the music touring, and up-and-coming artists. Given our industry, it’s really important to be constantly on top of all of that.


I start my work day. Our creative director lives in Melbourne, so the first thing I do is touch base with him, and I do that from home. I check we’re all on track for our TV commercials, our billboards, our building wraps, stage visuals and graphics.


I usually get to the office around now. The first thing I do is have a quick team meeting. Everything that happens on the ground here is our responsibility as the promoter. For this weekend, we had 193 people travelling from different parts of the world. One of our artists arrived by private jet, and we needed to get them into a helicopter and over to their hotel. It’s an intense weekend. I have a full-time team of eight, but our show team – including lights, sound, production and so on – is more than 600.


The one thing I insist on is a team lunch. It’s usually over lunch that the new ideas or the concerns come to the table. I have a great age range here: our head of production is in his late 40s and I have some guys who are straight out of university. It’s important to listen to them talk to each other about musical choices. That helps me make decisions on the artists we should be talking to.


I have a lot of meetings with government agencies – the RTA, civil defence and police. There’s a governmental commission in place that we need to go to and submit all of our traffic, security, and evacuation plans [ahead of a concert]. Everything is done in line with global standards.


Then I usually head over to the record labels, and we talk a lot about digital music strategy. That’s a massive aspect for us.


We’re still a very new company, so it’s important for us to be constantly engaging with journalists, sponsors and ad agencies. Last month, we hosted 15 journalists, and we just talked to them about what their readers and listeners like, and whether there are any particular artists they’d like to see.


I’ll come back to the office, because that’s when the US is waking up. My day unfortunately goes right into the night. We’ll have a production meeting, usually with everyone on Skype. We have some air and sea freight coming out of Philadelphia, with just short of 185 pieces of pyrotechnics travelling, and 1,000 video-screen panels coming out of London.


My last call of the day is to the management of whatever artist we’re dealing with. That call can sometimes be 10 minutes or an hour, particularly if we’re dealing with any bad publicity that we need to be aware of in our region. Perhaps something [the artist] said elsewhere is culturally sensitive here, so we have to be briefed so our PR team knows how best to handle it in the morning.


I drive home. I usually have a cup of tea, check Facebook, just to try to maintain some level of normality with my own friends and family. I usually try to be in bed by about 1am at the very latest. The bags under my eyes would tell you that is a true story. But when I wake up every day, I literally feel like I’m the luckiest girl alive. So I’ll have to sleep when I retire.

Follow The National's Business section on Twitter