NHC Music talks to Lee J Cosgrove (LJ) from Alternative Promotions about their Charity gigs - Jenny Tingle

Pop down if you can, it’s for a good cause!

Hi LJ!

The first Thursday of every month, you’re organising a gig at The Box in aid of charities. What sparked your idea to put on these non-for-profit gigs for good causes?

I'd been running regular local gigs since August 2014 and, honestly, the attitude of most people was "I don't know these bands, so why would I go see them?"... since we'd moved the gigs to Box in January 2016, with the gigs now being free entry, this attitude baffled me even more!  So, with the turnout becoming more reliant on the bands and less on my own promotion which is constant for every gig, online and offline, I knew something had to change and making them free entry charity gigs seemed like the way to go.  I did some research and could only find one other similar event in Scotland, over on the east side, making this an extremely rare event in general, particularly being for a different charity every month”.

Which charities will benefit from the gigs you’re organising?

As many as possible!  This year, I managed to fill all 12 months with different charities before the end of March.  I'll be aiming to do the same next year and, when I finally run out of new charities, I'll just circle back to the start of the list.  However, I'll always be looking for new charities to work in along the way”.

You’ve been described as an ethical promoter. What do you do differently from other promoters because you care about the music scene and the people in it?

Back in the day!

Back in the day!

Honestly?  I've no idea!  I don't see myself as a "promoter", so maybe that's it... to me, a promoter has resources and let's those do the work for them, whereas, I pretty do everything from creating the events to flyering outside venues.  With charity gigs, I do it so that everything made goes to the charity, not just the 'profits', since those can often be less than the event cost in the first place.  With non-charity ticketed gigs (ticket-splits), I make sure the bands get the biggest cut, to this day I've not made a penny from the gigs I've put on, if anything, I've put more into them than I've "gotten out of them"...job's are for making money, this isn't a job, it's too damn fun to be a job!”

Could you describe for us the music scene that you’d like to see? It seems like there’s a few places you’d make changes – especially around pay-to-play gigs.

Ooft... have you got a spare week?  Honestly, the main thing I'd like to see different is people's attitude towards local gigs.  Admittedly, there are more each year now than there ever has been but when people are choosing to go to a loud, busy pub with a jukebox playing the same old tired music, rather than a cheap/free gig, that's equally loud but with something new that might make them think, "hey, I don't know what that is but I like it", then there's something very wrong with the general mindset of people.  People need to get themselves out to these gigs more often (in general, even if it's not one of ours), because it's the only way that the next breakout band can become a thing, their own hard work will only get them so far and, believe me, most bands won't forget the people who helped them get to the higher levels - imagine being on the tour bus with the next Mötley Crüe or Bruce Springsteen, how epic would that be, all because you went to a few gigs when nobody really knew who they were?

You mention pay-to-play gigs...this is one of the reasons I decided to get involved myself (initially via Evo4).  I knew next to nothing about running gigs, then one day I punted the idea to the Evo guys of running a gig for The Dirt (Mötley Crüe tribute) and next thing I know, I'm running the whole damn thing - freaked isn't even the word for it!  It went well though, with people saying that it's the best gig they've been to in years - I caught the gig bug and haven't looked back!  This is when I knew that *I* could do something to help improve local gigs in Glasgow, even if only on a small scale. I knew that bands were getting ripped off left, right and centre either by not receiving the money they were promised because they "didn't sell enough tickets" (but still sold some, yet the money from those tickets weren't split as promised) or worse, being told to PAY THE 'PROMOTER' money to "make up the difference"...pretty sickening.  I previously mentioned the ticket-split gigs, all of that too and, crucially, I won't ever demand that they sell x number of tickets and definitely wouldn't penalise them for only selling a few.  Anyone can run a gig, we need musicians more than they need us - fact!”

What improvements would you like to see in our music scene?

Ultimately, it all comes down to those 5 famous words, "support your local music community" and, of course, the musicians/bands who make it possible.  If you're a promoter/venue booker or owner, get yourself out to some local gigs elsewhere, you might just come across that band you've been looking for, for one of your own gigs.  If you're in a band, likewise, networking is critical especially at the lower levels, befriend other musicians and support their gigs, they'll almost always return the favour tenfold.  If you just love going to gigs but are stuck in the "but I don't know these bands" mindset, shake it off and just give a local gig a shot, for the cost of a couple of drinks it could end up being the best night out you've had all year. It has for me, many times.


The next charity gig from Alternative Promotions is at The Box on Thursday 5th July. Who’s playing and what charity is it organised in aid of?

I'm especially looking forward to this next one - it's for MS Society Scotland and, no disrespect to the other bands but we've got one of the most talented singer/songwriters I've encountered yet, coming down from Elgin for this event (Danny Mortimer).  We've also got some new bands playing - Not Looking Like That, a lively punk 'n roll style band and Seedy Sanchez, an upbeat rock 'n roll band.  Opening the gig is one of our favourite local singer-songwriters, Sapienn, he'll be doing an acoustic set of his music.

Event page and Facebook for Alternative Promotions here;