Today we speak to Martin Goebbels, Head of Music & Touring at Miller Insurance.
The music team at Miller Insurance value relationships with up-and-coming artists to global music icons equally – working with artists, managers, agents, promoters at all levels of the music industry to provide cover for all aspects of their business.
That demands an in-depth understanding of the specialist music insurance market, a client’s risk profile, their objectives and aspirations. The expert Miller music team – led by Martin Goebbels, and including Pamela Choat, Rose Burgess and Holly Leary – each with many years’ experience, are amongst the most knowledgeable and connected broking teams in the business.
Firstly please tell us a little bit about who you are, what you do at Miller and how you work with music managers.
I’ve specialised in insurance solely for the music industry for 40 years, and am part of the Music division at Miller, where our team’s music experience ranges from 15 to 30 years, which is crucial in offering clients the service and experience they need. My team and I joined Miller 2 years ago, as we liked the fact that Miller was a specialist insurance broker, providing a personal service and a collegiate approach to its clients.
On a daily basis, we deal with managers, tour managers, but also accountants who have become increasingly involved in handling insurance in recent years. A great advantage to couple with the years of experience is the personal relationships and trust we’ve built with our clients.
I’ve always attended music events – whether it be Great Escape, SXSW, Eurosonic, ILMC etc. or much smaller gatherings – to make sure we have true insight into the music business and the various issues facing our clients.
What new music releases are you enjoying currently?
Unsigned act Jodie Alicia who I saw pre-lockdown has a great track “My Mistake”,
Kawala – “Pure Desire”, Bad Sounds EP – “Escaping from a Violent Time”. Really enjoying Dermot Kennedy too.
How has business been for you since the COVID-19 pandemic hit? Any significant challenges? How are you are adapting your services?
Adapting to working from home was seamless as Miller run a paperless system. Every member of staff already had a laptop and mobile, and management have been exemplary, so there was no gap in service, which has been amazing.
We have continued to take on new clients as things like equipment still need to be insured even if gear may be in storage in these times. We maintain contact with existing clients and keep in regular contact with all insurers so we are totally ready for when events open up again.
The role of the manager has evolved massively in recent years, as highlighted in the MMF’s 2019 report, with managers taking on an increasing amount of responsibilities. Has this influenced the way you work with managers at Miller?
I’ve always welcomed speaking to younger managers (or older managers!) who may have limited awareness of insurance and when/how it should be considered. MMF training sessions have always been a delight to speak at and be part of. We always look to educate clients about what insurance they could have, when they may need it and the possible pitfalls of some online or non-specialist policies so they can make a more educated decision.
Whilst we deal with managers and tour managers, often acts prefer their accountants to handle insurance for them and we have good relationships with all the main music accountants.
Are there any managers you particularly enjoy working with – or consider to be doing brilliant work in their field?
I’ve been privileged to work the pioneers of management “back in the day” right through to today’s entrepreneurial managers. It would be unfair to start mentioning names as there are so many and I don’t want to miss anyone out!
But all managers do brilliant work with the rapidly evolving technology and ever changing landscape – and that is before getting into the artistic and ego side of their artists!
Do you think there are any positive opportunities or changes in the music industry you believe we will see happen “once we’re though the other side of all this” (Covid)?
For many years, I’ve tried to encourage clarity on show contracts – who is responsible for what when a problem occurs. That has been a struggle at times so perhaps that is one positive to come out of many negatives of this, although I appreciate not all will see it that way. However, ultimately it gives some clarity and should avoid nasty disputes.
It has made people appreciate contact is key and working together rather than against, can be a big benefit.
From a purely personal perspective, maybe the ever-increasing size of productions will be re-considered and bring the whole economics of touring into a new perspective?
Is there anything you would like to say to managers who are considering working with you at Miller or finding out more about what you do?
Don’t ever be scared of an insurance broker!! Many people keep brokers at arm’s length, but remember we are here to help you, so the more you make us part of your team and share information the more we can help, especially if a problem arises – which is exactly when you need insurance to react.
I emphasise that we work for the client, not the insurer, and are available to give the best possible advice at all times – literally all times, as we understand this is not a 9-5 business. It is vital to deal with a specialist in any area in life and that includes insurance, so we encourage people to ask us as many questions as they wish – no question is ever too silly!
Away from regular tours you’ve insured, what experiences can you share?
There have been many over the years, but Wembley Stadium multi-artist shows celebrating Nelson Mandela’s 70th birthday and later, following his release from prison, the celebration show at which he made his first major speech to the world. To be side of stage was spine tingling.
Guitar Legends in Seville in 1991 had a mind-blowing line-up that included, among many others, BB King, Bo Diddley, Les Paul, Brain May, Roger Waters, Robert Cray, Joe Walsh. To stand in a tiny rehearsal room watching Bob Dylan, Joe Cocker, Keith Richards, George Benson and Jack Bruce play together was so surreal!
The Great Music Experience in Japan in front of the world’s largest wooden temple and featuring Japanese and western musicians including INXS, Joni Mitchell, Jon Bon Jovi, Ry Cooder and Bob Dylan with the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra
To see an unsigned Ed Sheeran play to 15 delegates after a music conference he had been hanging out at to make contacts – I still have the demo EP – probably the only time I’ve seen a hardened music crowd instantly stop and listen! I love seeing new acts so early….in recent years I’ve seen Dua Lipa, Stormzy, Dave, Celeste, Lewis Capaldi, Georgia, Sam Fender and so many more play in tiny clubs before taking off.
Are there any slightly unusual claims you can reveal without breaking confidentiality?
The more serious situations range from civil unrest – more recently, in places such as Hong Kong and Istanbul. Volcanic ash grounding flights across the world as well as general airline strikes and a drone closing Gatwick. One particular ill-fated tour included a brain aneurysm, an intestinal adhesion and a ruptured hernia…..and all that after one of the band had already suffered Rocky Mounted Spotted Fever, which is a potentially fatal disease.
Perhaps more humorous, would include insuring a single against reaching number One (the song was Happy Talk by Captain Sensible), or Mari Wilson who was famed for her beehive hairdo and insured it against falling down in stage. Finally, I can’t forget the poor lady at an early festival when loos were a plank across a pit – yes the plank gave way and the distraught lady disappeared!
Thank you Martin and Miller Insurance for supporting the MMF and our membership through our Associates programme.
Contact Martin at martin.Goebbels@miller-insurance.com