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An interview with Leestock Music Festival - From small (but very important) beginnings…

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by Startacus Admin

Here at Startacus, we are admittedly suckers for a little mid nineties music.

Add that to our interest in writing about all things social good and startup and you can see why we thought it was about time that we sung the praises, of LeeStock, a Suffolk based music festival. The festival, now in its 7th year, has managed to combine a staple diet of Brit Pop classics, and a bigger Leestock Festivalsocial cause, very successfully. Here are a few questions and answers that’ll explain how it’s done just that, answered by one of the very très important organisers, Matt Starling...

Hi there Matt, so, the Startacus team know about the background surrounding LeeStock, but for those that are hearing about LeeStock for the first time, how and why did it all come about?

LeeStock was actually originally called LeeFest way back in 2008. The event was first held at a small village social club as a musical memorial to Lee Dunford who sadly passed away after battling for several years against Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Lee's friends came up with an idea to try and do something to remember him by and also to help raise awareness of The Willow Foundation, a charity that had helped Lee through part of his illness. In 2010 the name had to change due to the fact that there is another LeeFest event in Kent, which was at the time, doing very well - so the name LeeStock was born!

Tell us all about this year - what's the lineup?

This year is our second at our new venue - Melford Hall. We stage the festival in the 100-acre field that faces this 15th century Tudor building. It's now in the hands of the National Trust but the Hyde-Parker family who once owned the house still live there and run the farm that makes use of the fields.

Leestock Music FestivalThis year we have The Lightning Seeds as our main headline act. It's exciting to have bands that we grew up listening to. Last year we had Space, Toploader, John Power from Cast and Mark Morriss from The Bluetones. These people were a staple diet in a lot of people’s record collections during the mid nineties Brit Pop era. To have these acts come to Suffolk and play at our own festival is really amazing and makes us very proud of the hard work that’s gone in to making it what it is now. This year we also have Tony Wright from Terrorvision, another great band from the nineties that still have a strong fan base. Past acts also have included Wheatus, D:Ream, Dodgy and Chris Helme.

There's certainly been some transformation from its original format to now. Logistically what has been the hardest part of that journey for the LeeStock team?

It's always going to be about time and money. Budget is always the main constraint to anything. We want to put on a great event but don't want to get ourselves into financial problems. The main aim of the festival is to raise as much money as possible for the Willow Foundation, which we mentioned earlier. All profits from the festival go to the charity and we're conscious of increasing the donation every year. I think the only time that hasn't happened was in 2013 when we made a huge step up from our local Football Club to Melford Hall. When you're in a field logistically you need to hire a lot of extra equipment and production costs increase dramatically. 

It's always difficult to judge from a financial point of view how and when to spend money. Most of our ticket sales don't happen until the last few weeks leading up to the festival. Where we do save an enormous amount of money however, is in the website, advertising, marketing and public relations material, videos and general promotional collateral as this is done within the organising team. We also have organisers who are able to manage and run the bar areas. It certainly helps to have organisers who knows how to do things within that type of industry.

We reckon you guys are pretty much the ultimate self starters. Give us one piece of wisdom you can pass on to others wanting to do something good Leestock Music Festival 2014with that big or small idea!

I'm not sure about self-starters because we literally make it up as we go along. Maybe that’s the way to do it. Ignorance is bliss!

I think the best thing is to try and keep your feet on the ground, grow steadily and carefully. Always keep an eye on what you're spending and bargain hard to get the best deals possible. Offer free advertising in return for services whenever you can and get people involved who know how to do things, as this will be useful for progression. Make decisions based on budget and not personal choice. Be entrepreneurial as that’s a great way of making extra money. We've presented the festival in a way that will appeal to a broad range of people while attracting sponsorship and general involvement. We also produce and sell our own merchandise, which helps out the finances slightly.

Sorry that wasn't one piece of advice but there's so much that goes into the festival, it’s hard to choose one!

In terms of going to LeeStock and getting involved / sponsorship / donations - give us those all-important details on how we can all get involved?

Leestock Music Festival 2014LeeStock will be held between 24th and 25th May 2014 and is based in Suffolk, which is about 2 hours travel from London. It's also fairly centrally located in the East Anglian region. This year we have an on site camping area, which will hopefully appeal to regular festival goers from outside the local area. Information about sponsorship and donations can be made by emailing us at [email protected]

Our website is
http://leestock.org and contains a lot of info about this year's festival and also about past events. There is plenty to read! Also, have a look at our YouTube Channel -https://www.youtube.com/LeeStockMusic - Facebook page -https://www.facebook.com/LeeStockMusicFestival and Twitter channel -https://twitter.com/LeeStock

Thank you for taking the time to ask LeeStock these questions and I hope it inspires people to do something creative while supporting good causes. I wish everyone at Startacus all the best for the future and maybe one year we'll be welcoming you to LeeStock Music Festival.

Cheers Matt and we wish you all the very best for a very successful 2014 Leestock Music Festival. (Also photo credit goes to Matt Starling for the fab pictures.) If you want to connect with Matt directly his twitter feed can be found here!

If you like music related startup posts then read some of our other classics:

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Published on: 9th May 2014

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