In this edition of my blog series feature Behind the Art, meet Maria Lundy of QEDG Management, where she’s the woman behind such legendary acts as YES, E.L.P., Asia, Focus, and more.
Behind the Art: Maria Lundy
Tour Liaison and Special Projects Manager. Follow Maria online.
I sort of fell into it, what with my love of good music, along with the fact that my stepdad was a bass player, my late husband a singer/songwriter and, more recently, my stepson is the drummer for Modestep, and my long-term partner Andy Hodge who plays bass in his band Serious Blues. Music seems to follow me through all decades of my life. This, along with my love for great music, made me what I am today.
Who all is on your roster?
Asia, Curved Air, Dave Kilminster, DBA, ELP, Excalibur, Focus, Geoff Downes, Greg Lake, Ian Danter, Inglorious, John Wetton, Keith Emerson, Lucifer’s Friend, Martin Turner ex-Wishbone Ash, Murray Hockridge, Nathan James, Phenomena Project, Snakecharmer, This Oceanic Feeling, UK, Uriah Heep, and Yes.
What all does your job as “Tour Liaison and Special Projects Manager” entail?
As a senior manager in the business, I look after everything tour-related for our bands.
My role includes most tasks.
We have another senior manager who looks after catalogue and legal affairs, and a third that looks after foreign affairs. And we are supported by highly skilled managers and assistants, to make our jobs easier, each of them being an integral part of the QEDG team.
Some of the bands’ work is split amongst the rest of the team, but each senior manager has one or two band projects they totally own.
Work includes getting an album deal, arranging recording facilities, video recordings, and photo shoots. Then, arranging an agent and getting gig and festival opportunities, arranging gig contracts, merchandise ideas, setting up the website, social media, interviews, TV opportunities, an online shop. Then setting up a calendar for the whole band so I know what they are doing each day.
Then there is the personal side of things: Getting them endorsement agreements, setting up bank accounts, limited companies, arranging an accountant, paying their bills, sorting rehearsal space, hiring vehicles for touring, sorting liability insurance, and the list goes on. Most importantly: listening to their problems, professional or personal.
Special Projects is exactly that: we may have a project that comes up like an idea of a fundraiser, or book launch, a band anniversary party, etc.—this is where I can put on my thinking cap and come up with ideas.
Who’s the first artist that got you started? What’s the story behind that?
My first artist was my husband; he played in The Rivergods, a heavy Irish rock band, and it grew from there. I also helped get my stepson’s band off the ground, but now he is a ground-breaking artist in his own right.
As a woman in a male-dominant business, what gender-based obstacles have you encountered and how did you overcome them?
I think until you prove yourself, no matter what gender, it’s hard to be taken seriously. Many people direct questions to the TMs [tour managers], as they tend to be male, while I am standing right there. But I have a great team around me at QEDG, and that is what supports me in this industry.
Was there a particular moment when you felt you’d “made it” as a music industry professional?
Not really. My goal is for the bands I work with to “make it.” I just see myself in a long line of cogs that make it happen.
Whether for business or just for pleasure, what makes you want to research an artist that’s unfamiliar to you?
If the marketing is right, and they look the part, I will delve further. But unless they have something that stands out musically, that is different to the rest, no amount of hair and clothes will do it for the band.
Where do you live and why?
I live in London, and always have. I think it is the hub, especially for the music scene.
What is your morning routine?
To try and go to bed after working late into the early hours. This is the music business—completely different hours to the rest of the world.
What constitutes a productive day at work for you?
To be exhausted at the end of the day, and to know that most of my flags are done. If the phone has stopped ringing constantly, I know I have done a good job.
Is there anything unusual about your workspace? What do you keep on your desk? What’s the view from there?
My workspace has changed dramatically, as I used to work in the rolling country side, amongst horses and dogs, the views were hills and a swimming pool. Now I mostly work from home, at a desk with a faithful cup of tea. My view: the birds on the bird feeder. On my desk: 2 phones, a photo of my bunny rabbit, and a hair brush. I go nowhere without my brush! Ha ha!
Do you have a peculiar habit?
I do like to check, and double check. But that’s a good thing. . . . Right?
Please recommend three songs (any genre, any artist) and tell us why you like them.
River of Tears—Eric Clapton. This song just takes me away to a place in my heart.
New Kid in Town—Eagles. I could have said any song by this band. I just love them.
Sharing The Night Together—Doctor Hook. This is a good driving song, full volume.
As I’m also an author, I’d love for you to recommend three books and tell us why you like them.
The Alchemist—Paolo Coelho. Recommended to me by many friends and, despite its somewhat surreal imagery, it kept me gripped throughout and stays in my mind many years later.
The Kenneth Williams Diaries—edited by Russell Davies. A hilariously bitchy, entertaining and moving insight into the world of a great but confused talent, also showing the great troubles he experienced in these times.
The Meaning of It All—Richard Feynman. A one-off brilliant mind whose real genius lay in the ability to explain anything to anyone. I adore Richard Feynman, and have read many of his books. A genius.
Do you have an industry friend who helps and inspires you?
There is a promoter we work with regularly: Ollie Rosenblatt at Senbla. He’s young(-ish!) and dynamic, and open to new ideas but maintains an old-school approach with a diverse range of artists. He’s always easy to talk to and we always have a laugh while getting lots done.
Do you play a musical instrument? If so, which one(s), and for how long have you played?
I used to play the piano from the age of 12. Then I took up drums about 14 years ago with my stepson, who has excelled and plays for Modestep! Now I play the sax for fun.
Do you have any superstitions?
Yes, I hate the idea of walking under a ladder—not easy to stay away from on stage when setting up.
What phrase do you over-use?
“…blah blah blah…”
I think fast and get bored saying it all out loud for other people! So a lot of my sentences end with these three little words.
Do you have a funny story related to your job, whether it be planning a tour, or on tour, or at a meet-and-greet with one of your artists?
Meet & greets are always a source of stories!
One of our artists had a very persistent fan whose attention eventually crossed the line when she pretended to be the artist’s wife! So we put together a “Wanted” poster in the office to keep an eye out for her at future events. This worked well for a while, but then she started using an alias, and turned up at a private event. Unfortunately for her, our security—the ever-vigilant Adam & Paddy—recognised her from the Wanted poster and found her crouching in the back of a car. Sadly for them, there was no reward.
What is something about yourself that is essentially unknown and maybe even surprising?
My geography knowledge is worryingly sketchy considering how much work I do putting together tours. If it wasn’t for Google Maps and a very observant office assistant, there would be some very strange routes for my bands. But I’m getting there!
What advice would you give to an aspiring musician?
Continually work at every aspect of your craft and be true to your musical self; maintain your individuality with integrity.
What advice would you give to someone interested in getting into the business side of music?
Be aware of the increasingly prevalent legal side of EVERYTHING. But, above all else, work with artists you believe in, and always have their best interests at the centre of every negotiation.
Asia, Curved Air, Dave Kilminster, DBA, Doctor Hook, Eagles, ELP, Eric Clapton, Excalibur, Focus, Geoff Downes, Greg Lake, Ian Danter, Inglorious, John Wetton, Keith Emerson, Lucifer’s Friend, Martin Turner ex-Wishbone Ash, Modestep, Murray Hockridge, Nathan James, New Kid in Town, Ollie Rosenblatt, Paolo Coelho, Phenomena Project, QEDG Management, Richard Feynman, River of Tears, Russell Davies, Senbla, Sharing The Night Together, Snakecharmer, The Alchemist, The Kenneth Williams Diaries, The Meaning of It All, The Rivergods, This Oceanic Feeling, UK, Uriah Heep, YES