Festival season is almost upon us, but Andy Copping is already knee deep in it. Andy, 52, is Download Festival's main booker and promoter. If you've ever wondered how the hell festivals happen, and how Andy got such a killer job, read on...

Rockstars aren’t as difficult to deal with as it’s made out to be. More often than not, it’s the people around them that cause the problems. When you get through all of them to the artist, they’re just like us.

The festival-goers, on the other hand, are unbelievably demanding
. They’re passionate, they know what they want and their expectations are really high. The festival is for them at the end of the day, and without them it doesn’t exist.

The first festival I went to had one toilet and one burger van, but the whole experience was just amazing. It was Monsters Of Rock in 1980. Man, I’m getting a buzz now just thinking of it. It was like I found my mecca. (photo via)

Monsters of Rock
Status Quo got me into rock music. They got me out of being a kid who was into Slade and made me think there was more to life than pop music.

I knew I wanted to get into the music business, but I had absolutely no idea how. All my friends were farmers in Lincolnshire, and knew I hated my job at WHSmith. One of them said to me, “I’m a farmer because I love farming, and you love music, so do something with music.”

Start small and build from there – don’t destroy yourself by trying to start too big.

My huge album and record collection is to thank for my first job in music
. A local pub was looking for a DJ, and a mate of mine put him and me forward because of it. We got the job and got a fiver every Tuesday night.
 
From there, I got offered a regular club rock night in the town
. I was offered either 25 quid or 20 quid plus a bonus for the number of people through the door. I went for the bonus, and because it was packed every night I’d walk away with 80 quid a pop.

I always wanted to DJ at Nottingham Rock City
. I tried and tried, and kept getting knocked back. As soon as I saw them advertising for a position, I converted all my vinyl to CD and showed the manager there what I could do. He asked if I could start that weekend. (photo via)

Nottingham Rock City
I advised them on what live bands to get in, too. I’d suggest they booked bands that were going down well in my set. After a matter months, they asked if I wanted to sack in my day job and do the booking full time. I was exactly where I wanted to be.

Festivals started to ask me who to book as well because I had my finger on the pulse
. I had my finger on the pulse for no other reason than I fucking loved music.

I was a big fish in Nottingham.
I was approached by the company that did Monsters Of Rock to book their bands full time, but because I was happy where I was it took them three attempts to get me.

I was dead nervous about coming to work in London.
For the first eight months, I thought I’d made the biggest mistake of my life. Suddenly it all clicked when the company started Download and made me the head booker.

The strangest request I ever had was from AC/DC. They wanted their own stage. You don’t say no to AC/DC, so they brought their own and we had two main stages.

ACDC Download
Never pigeonhole yourself. Aside from the rock connections, I’m a promoter for Jay-Z, Kanye, Kasabian, Christina Aguilera, Kelly Clarkson and more. I’d never forget my roots, but I totally wanted to branch out.

I have no social life, because my social life is work.

One band member once offered me his girlfriend if he could play Download. She was quite attractive, but I can’t be bought. I didn’t book them.

There are no weekends in this business
because, of course, bands play then and I go to see them. Christmas Day is probably the only day I’m not working. Even then, I get worried when my BlackBerry isn’t flashing.

Rock music has always been there, but it goes through peaks and troughs. Right now it’s peaking, but I think it’s due for another genre, something hard-edged.

When things get shit, you’ve just got to dive in and deal with it. You’ll always come out the other side with something.

Download Festival starts this weekend from June 14-16.  Get the line-up and more details from the Download Festival website.

Words: Chris Sayer

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