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Jazz Shapers

Shaper: Ciro Romano

Transcript

Elliot Moss
Welcome to the Jazz Shapers podcast from Mishcon de Reya. What you are about to hear was originally broadcast on Jazz FM however music has been cut or shortened due to rights issues.

Good morning welcome to Jazz Shapers where the Shapers of Business join the Shapers of Jazz, Soul and Blues. I am Elliot Moss and I am very pleased to say we’ve got a special version of the programme today because you should know this by now but just in case you hadn’t spotted it, it is the first full day of the Love Supreme Jazz Festival where we will be, ladies and gentlemen, in exactly one hours’ time for our amazing weekend of programmes. We had to start this weekend in style here on Jazz Shapers and I am pleased to say that our guest today is the man at the very centre, the epicentre no less of Love Supreme – he’s smiling – he won’t be later. I hope you will actually. The UK’s largest greenfield Jazz Festival, we are joined by Founder and Festival Director – we should have a little ripple of applause – Ciro Romano. Music and the life music experience was Ciro’s passion from an early age but family aspirations led him to become a corporate lawyer. Six years later he had an epiphemy while arguing about stamp duty at 4.00am and he moved to Universal, a music label where he says he learnt everything there was to learn about the music industry. In 2001 he founded Neapolitan, a music management company and label that signed the rights to one of my favourite films, the Slumdog Millionaire and it’s soundtrack and it did rather well you may have noticed, selling more than two million albums worldwide and whilst Ciro was thinking ‘what’s next?’ he noticed there was no outdoor Jazz Festival in the UK. It’s not about the gap in the market he thought, but the market in the gap. In 2013 Love Supreme was born as a commercial venture between Cira and two other investors, Ingenious and Jazz FM. In 2016 Universal now Vivendi bought out Ingenious and Jazz FM’s share of the business and entered into a continuing partnership with Cira on this and since have created other music events such as Nocturne Live. Love Supreme has now grown into the largest Jazz Festival in the UK with a weekend attendance is in excess of 50 thousand people. We will be talking to Ciro in a few minutes about all of this, about the joy of live music and embracing the unknown. Plus all our music this morning comes from brilliant artists who are on the amazing bill this weekend at Love Supreme. Here’s one of them, it’s Snarky Puppy with Thing of Gold.

That was Thing Of Gold from Snarky Puppy. They are one of big acts at Love Supreme Jazz Festival which was brought to you by none other than the Founder himself, he’s sitting here, it is Ciro Romano, my Business Shaper today. Hello.

Ciro Romano
Hello.

Elliot Moss
How are you feeling? Months and months of preparation?

Ciro Romano
I am feeling good, I am feeling… I am positive about it. We’ve sold a lot of tickets and the weather looks good and generally speaking everything seems to be plodding along nicely without any crisis so far.

Elliot Moss
Hard to think about the joy of music, easier if you are a consumer like me, you are in the business but when if ever do you step back and look at the stage in front of you, the goose bumps that happen to the crowd when they see a Lauryn Hill, a Gladys Knight, a Jamie Cullum, a Jimmy Cliff or whoever else is going to be headlining – do you ever go ‘I did this’.

Ciro Romano
Generally no but sometimes towards the end of the final headliner on the Sunday night, I look at the crowd and I see this joyous communal experience, communal not just with people that you know but with people that you don’t know and I do get the moment where I think ‘this wouldn’t be happening if I hadn’t done it’ so yes occasionally there is that little moment but generally, generally speaking we don’t think about it too much.

Elliot Moss
I mean here we are in 2019, you started life as a lawyer?

Ciro Romano
Yeah.

Elliot Moss
And I know lawyers quite well as you can imagine. A very different world. Can you remember that Ciro? That as a lawyer, does that person still feature in every day working life for you? And if so, how?

Ciro Romano
To a certain extent yes because the things that I learnt as a lawyer, attention to detail, stamina because you need that when you are practising law, especially corporate law, gave me a base from which to launch my own business and I think that had I not done, had I not spent those 10 years as a lawyer either in a corporate law firm or in-house at Polygram in Universal, I don’t think I’d have the kind of inner steel that I have running my own business.

Elliot Moss
Now running your own business is a thing that again I have met many people over the 8 years of doing this programme and some… quite a few are lawyers actually and I always say most lawyers aren’t entrepreneurial so where did that little sense of I can do something on my own or I must do something on my own come from?

Ciro Romano
Well I think, I didn’t know this at the time but looking back on it now I think it was always there in me and I came from an entrepreneurial background, my father was a self-made man. As I kept on practising law I realised that I wanted to be the guy on the other side of the table so I realised I didn’t really want to be the advisor, I wanted to be what lawyers call the principal and I realised that maybe after 3 or 4 years but of course you are trying to do the best in your job, you are trying to learn it so it takes a while to really, for the penny to drop, think I should be moving on now because you are trying to do what you are doing well, impress people and do the best that you can but I think it was always in me and it took a few years of practising to realise that I should, that I should leave.

Elliot Moss
Stay with me for much more from the Founder and Festival Director of the Love Supreme Festival which is what we will be coming up with live in the next hour. Plenty more coming up from Ciro but first a real musical treat, it’s Jamie Cullum recorded live at Love Supreme back in 2014, we will be hosting Jamie in the Yamaha Discovery Tent on Sunday, we’ll be having an onstage chat with him and of course he will be performing live so if you are nearby, do pop in and see Nigel in conversation with Jamie Cullum. Here he is with Everything You Didn’t Know.

That was Jamie Cullum with Everything You Didn’t Know and it was live at the Love Supreme Festival back in 2014 but we are in 2019 now and it’s Jazz Shapers with a warm up act, Ciro Romano, is my Business Shaper before the live music kicks off from 10.00 here on Jazz FM. So you mentioned that you’re… we talked about that when did you realise you wanted to become the principal on the other side of the table, become the boss as it were…

Ciro Romano
Yeah.

Elliot Moss
….and you touched on the fact your father was an entrepreneur, Mario and he was described as the ‘Grande Papa’ of Italian dining so I think he opened or rather owned 36 restaurants. Is that true?

Ciro Romano
He owned 36 restaurants over a period of time.

Elliot Moss
Over a period of time, not all at once.

Ciro Romano
Not all at one time.

Elliot Moss
No not all at once, that would have been quite a lot of work.

Ciro Romano
I worked in a few of them.

Elliot Moss
Yes I was going to say, so you know, those, those years when you were growing up you were around that. Did you, what did you learn from that? What did you see? Was there happiness and ease, was there the ups and downs, the rollercoaster of an entrepreneur and is there really going to be food on my table, in my house?

Ciro Romano
It was a combination of all those things. I mean the first thing that I really saw was just the amount of work that went into it, like my father was out early in the morning and back very late at night. He was quite stressed a lot of the time, I think running restaurants and building restaurants is very, very challenging but he, he, I think he had a real happiness doing what he was doing. He was really a bit of a pioneer in that world. Before my father it was pasta and meatballs in Glasgow so he introduced silver service, the old dinner dancing from the 70’s and 80’s so he poshed it up basically over there and that’s why he was well-known there. So he was… that was his thing but I think I saw, I saw great pride in what he had achieved but with parallel stress.

Elliot Moss
And the reality?

Ciro Romano
Yeah exactly.

Elliot Moss
The reality of what it was like?

Ciro Romano
Yeah and it was a bit up and down sometimes. We moved house a few times.

Elliot Moss
Yeah, yeah, yeah. And the music thing because here we are now, you know, you’ve been ensconced in this industry for 20 years or so…

Ciro Romano
Yeah.

Elliot Moss
…whether a lawyer or whether you are doing your own thing, well longer actually. Where did that come from? Where is that love of music, I mean many of us love music, people listen to Jazz FM love music but you’ve gone into the business?

Ciro Romano
So I think from, again I didn’t realise it at the time but looking back on it from a very, very early age so we had music in the house, my mother, I remember the 7 inch Ital… they’d emigrated in the mid 60’s so we had a lot of 7 inch Italian pop records so we would listen to them and then by the time I was about 10 or 11 I was very into music, I mean I was buying a lot, I was buying magazines, I was… then started going to shows. I mean I started to go to shows at 12 or 13 so I was going to the Glasgow Apollo so I became very obsessed with music during those teenage years and also I was very into reading about music. I remember just buying all the magazines so I was very, very interested in the stories behind, behind the recordings and behind the music and interested about the artists so I think that was the beginning of my interest in music though I never took it seriously as a career you know, I was never you know, going… I promoted music at University, I never thought about it that I was going to do that for a living.

Elliot Moss
And here you are doing it for a living…

Ciro Romano
Yeah.

Elliot Moss
…and he is going to be coming back again to talk about what he does for a living, it’s Ciro Romano, he’s my guest today and because he is the Festival Director and Founder of the Love Supreme Jazz Festival. First though, before we come back to him, we are going to be hearing from one of partners at Mishcon de Reya with some advice for the business idea that you are thinking about right now.

There are many ways for you to enjoy all our former Jazz Shapers and indeed to hear this programme with Ciro again. You can ask Alexa to play Jazz Shapers and there you can hear many of the recent shows or if you put Jazz and Shapers into iTunes or your preferred podcast platform, I have to say that as well, you can enjoy the full archive but back to today and back to Ciro because our programme is about to get underway from Love Supreme 2019 so who else should we have with us here other than Ciro Romano, the Love Supreme Founder and Director, Festival Director to. So I have kind of established that there is this Ciro the young boy likes music. He sees dad working hard but the ups and downs of that. You’ve then moved through law and I am now kind of at the point where you’ve made that decision to do your own thing and it doesn’t sound like that happened in a minute, it was a brewing, it was going to happen at some point. It was just a question of when.

Ciro Romano
Yeah.

Elliot Moss
At that point though what finally enabled you to go ‘I am going to do this’?

Ciro Romano
Seagram purchased Polygram in 1999 I think it was and then they merged with Universal so I stayed with, with the company. A lot of people were fired including my boss at the time and I stayed for about 2 years I’d say and I think though I… working in big companies it is interesting because you can get a promotion on your title, get more money yet you still somehow feel demoted and I think that’s what happened to me. I think I did get a promotion, I did get more money to stay but the structure was different and I think a combination of that, I think looking back on it now, a combination of that together with the things that you were talking about earlier, that was the catalyst really. So I stayed for about 2 years, 2 or 3 years with Universal and then left.

Elliot Moss
Now the other thing about people that I sit with, there’s at least two architypes.

Ciro Romano
Mmm.

Elliot Moss
Not stereotypes but architypes of entrepreneurs. Some are thunder bluster, the doors will be smashed down and head butted and you will see my way because I am right and there’s other people that have come from corporate life who are measured and who get on with people, who rub well with people and so on. You strike me definitely as the latter.

Ciro Romano
Yeah.

Elliot Moss
How do you get your own way when you are really clear that what you want to do is right and people aren’t buying it?

Ciro Romano
Well I think firstly you need to know what you want to do that’s really important and that agenda can be pushed in many different ways but I think understanding the people who are on the other side I think having, I guess, control of your brief but really understanding what other people want is key to getting what you want in the end.

Elliot Moss
And over the years is that a skill that you have honed or just something that you find quite naturally…

Ciro Romano
I’ve definitely honed it. I definitely did not have that skill in my 30’s. In fact…

Elliot Moss
You’re a man and that’s an age thing.

Ciro Romano
…I learnt from not being like that and not getting results and I noticed that the more I suppose the less I want to win this I became, the more successful I became. So I definitely… especially when you work in those law firms like Clifford Chance and Polygram which was the biggest record company in the world, you have a very winning mentality but then when you leave those companies and you don’t have protection of that shell that doesn’t really work, you know, you are trying to build something so I had to unlearn some of that posturing and be a little bit broader and more intelligent about it.

Elliot Moss
And in the early years did it feel like you had made the right decision or were there moments earlier on when you went ‘I think Ciro you have done the wrong thing’?

Ciro Romano
Yeah.

Elliot Moss
Because again the rational mind, the mind of a lawyer picks at things and mulls on things and as you said, goes into the detail of things and it is quite easy to undo your own leap. Did that happen at all?

Ciro Romano
Yeah so not at the beginning. We started off pretty strongly, we went into management, managed a couple of big acts but then we had a sort of dip round about I’d say 2006 to 2009, I’d say, round about 2 or 3 years where it wasn’t going that well. So the first few years were good, I felt good about it, but certainly during that period there were moments where I felt I wonder whether I’ve done the right thing here because it is difficult for me to go back now.

Elliot Moss
And how did you push through? On those… when you felt like that?

Ciro Romano
Well that’s a really good question actually because there was a number of times where I was thinking what shall I do, shall I, shall I just give all this up or shall I go back to, try to go back to law or go back to record company, go back to Scotland but I just, there was just something inside, it’s very difficult to explain, there was just something inside me that felt I could do it, I just hadn’t found the right route yet and that I would just keep on going. I just… I remember there was one moment where I was really seriously, I had been offered a job at a major record company, it was about 2008 which was very well paid and I knew the guys there very well and I think turning that down was the tipping point for me where I thought I am not going to do that, I am going to keep on going because I just need to, I just need to find the little gap that I need to go through to do what I want to do and then about a year later everything got better.

Elliot Moss
Lucky…

Ciro Romano
That was about 10 years ago.

Elliot Moss
…lucky you stayed on it…

Ciro Romano
Yeah.

Elliot Moss
…because we wouldn’t be going live at 10.00 o’clock to the Love Supreme Festival if you hadn’t. So make sure you stay with us here on Jazz FM for that. I am with Ciro Romano, it’s Jazz Shapers and he is going to be with me for a little bit more. Time for some more music, it’s another great artist, she is also performing live this weekend at the Love Supreme Festival, it is Madeleine Peyroux with Dance Me To The End Of Love.

That was Madeleine Peyroux with Dance Me To The End Of Love, she is on Sunday Love Supreme Jazz Festival in Glynde Place, it’s happening live here on Jazz FM exclusively from 10.00 o’clock today, very shortly in other words but before we go there to our friend Nigel Williams and many others, I am with the man behind it, who had the plan and we were just talking about a key moment for Ciro Romano, my Business Shaper where back in 2008/2009 there was an actually do I go into the big corporate world again and do I leave this? So you stayed and then you said, you said to me, I love the way you expressed it – I was just trying to find, I wasn’t quite in the right place and need to find that little space – what was that little space?

Ciro Romano
So what’s interesting is about the live music industry is that traditionally it has been the runt of the litter, so the recording music industry was the big daddy and then there was music publishing which was a very big business but after Napster in 2000 at which point the record industry was a global 40 billion dollar industry, 13 years later it was a 16 billion dollar industry in 2013/2014 and during that period recorded music was going down and down and down so whilst I was in doing recorded music either in management, I was within that down period. At the same time live music was going up and becoming more and more important and of course I was noticing this, because in the mid 90’s live music was big but not as big as it is now and I was noticing the plethora of festivals that were coming up, bigger live shows, more touring and I think in about 2008 or 2009 for the first time live music overtook recorded music in terms of overall revenues in the UK so I had been thinking about that you know, as in noticing it and at the same time I wanted to do something where I had a bit more control which I think is the crux of it really. So in management and in recorded music the hit rate is very low, the hit rate at major record labels is 1 in 10, if you are out of a major record label it is much lower than that so it’s not a dream business but it is basically when something hits it’s hugely successful, hugely profitable and makes up for the losses that you make otherwise but it’s very risky and I guess I wanted to stay in music but do something which was a bit more you know, I book an artist, I sell the ticket, have some more control over what we were doing. I think especially with artists’ management that’s not true. Artists don’t listen to what you are saying a lot of the time so I think a combination of those two things was leading me towards doing live music.

Elliot Moss
And the other thing I guess about live just as you were talking and thinking about it, we live in a world which is much more on line and actually those experiences become of more value because I suppose more of our time is spent looking at a screen than it was historically so that moment when you can really connect with music as the punter is a different thing and a special thing and we see that whether it’s Glastonbury recently, whether it’s Love Supreme today – there is something about that collective experience that is impossible to replicate listening to something on your own…

Ciro Romano
Yeah. Well I think…

Elliot Moss
…in a room.

Ciro Romano
…well I think it’s not a coincidence that live music became bigger whilst recorded music became more digital. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. I think that people being on their phones, listening to music on their phones, sort of death of the album which has definitely happened, track based consuming culture has definitely led to people and friends and communities wanting to have those, as I said, sort of joyous communal experiences and I think that’s what’s driven especially the festivals, what’s driven festivals over the last 15 to 20 years. I don’t think it’s a coincidence.

Elliot Moss
Stay with me for my final chat with Ciro Romano, he is the Founder and Festival Director of Love Supreme, you may have noticed I’ve said it a few times, it’s coming up pretty soon. Plus we are going to be playing a track from Chick Corea and the Spanish Heart Band, that’s all coming up in just a moment so don’t go anywhere.

That was Chick Corea and the Spanish Heart Band with the Yellow Nimbus Part 2, they are in the Big Top on Saturday at the Love Supreme Festival which we are going to live, yes ladies and gentlemen, listeners of Jazz FM and Jazz Shapers, you are lucky enough to be actually with us live in person with Nigel Williams and the rest of the gang in just a few minutes but before we do that I’ve got a little bit of time with the person responsible putting all of it together, it is Ciro Romano, he is the Founder and Festival Director. A couple of quick things just as an aside because I am just interested. Slum Dog Millionaire, one of my favourite films ever – how did you get involved with the putting that music together?

Ciro Romano
So I don’t, I don’t want to exaggerate my involvement in that too much, so a friend of mine is a guy called Christian Goulson who is a very well-known and successful film producer in the UK. He has done most of Danny Boyle’s films, Trainspotting 2, 127 hours, Slumdog, he also did Selma so he, he produced that film and they were struggling a little bit with the music and he approached me and I helped I guess put it together and also helped effectively find it a home in terms of you know, to do something with that music and I took a small equity stake in it and so I helped put it together but I didn’t, I didn’t make the music.

Ciro Romano is the founder and festival director of Love Supreme Jazz Festival which since its birth in 2013 now gathers 50,000 people in its weekend attendance and has become the largest jazz festival in the UK. Ciro had envisioned himself in the Music industry since a young teenager where he would attend Music festivals in his hometown of Glasgow. This led him to become Director of Legal and Business of PolyGram Music in 1995 after he studied Law and achieved a Masters degree at the European University Institute in Florence in addition to a diploma in Legal Practice. Following the acquisition of Polygram by Seagram in 1999, Ciro took up the position of Vice President of Legal and Business Affairs at Universal Music. It was here where his ability to work hard and his musical aspirations caused him to leave and set up Neapolitan in 2001.

This music business allowed Romano to orchestrate Nocturne Live. It Featured artists such as Elton John, Gary Barlow,  Lauryn Hill and Noel Gallagher making it widely considered the premiere stately home concert series in the UK.  He was also heavily involved in the organization of the soundtrack album for ‘Slumdog Millionaire’, which won two music Oscars and two Grammys as well as going on to sell two million albums worldwide and over two million singles.

Romano’s humble yet enthusiastic attitude to life has allowed him to be a pioneer in his area of expertise, and with no lack of intelligence his driven work ethic has catapulted his career into one of success and prosperity.

Interview highlights

I remember just buying all the magazines so I was very, very interested in the stories behind the recordings and behind the music and interested about the artists so I think that was the beginning of my interest in music

Really understanding what other people want is key to getting what you want in the end

I had to unlearn some of that posturing and be a little bit broader and more intelligent about it.

There were moments where I felt I wonder whether I’ve done the right thing here because it is difficult for me to go back now.

There were a number of times where I was thinking what shall I do, shall I just give all this up

There was something inside me that felt I could do it, I just hadn’t found the right route yet

I wanted to do something where I had a bit more control which I think is the crux of it really

I cared about doing something that I wanted to do, that could get me out of bed in the morning

It is interesting because you can get a promotion on your title, get more money yet you still somehow feel demoted and I think that’s what happened to me” “Slumdog Millionaire were struggling a little bit with the music and approached me and I helped I guess put it together and also helped effectively find it a home

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