Ever wandered what it would be like to be on tour with some of the biggest names in the business? Well Cato Music have been doing it for 15 years, and they have shared their story with us here at Stereotribes:
Firstly tell us who you are and what your role is at Cato Music.
I’m Glen Rowe and I’m the Founder and CEO of Cato Music – one of the best touring and production companies in the UK – and Tour Director for the magnificent Muse!
What does Cato Music do as a company? How long has it been established?
I founded Cato Music almost 15 years ago whilst working with the award-winning, mighty rock band, Muse. The last fourteen years has seen the company grow from a one-man-band (me!) buying and selling backline equipment to a one-stop-shop for artists requiring tour and production support.
Based in South West London, Cato Music offers quality rehearsal spaces, a Backline Hire and Drum World team, a state-of-the-art spares shop, a tour and production management office housing the Cato Crew Agency which matches experienced crew to national and global tours, secure deep storage facilities which can be accessed 24/7 and a Creative Village which offers preferential rates for rental spaces to media companies, songwriters, producers, stylists and recording artists. Cato’s premises are also home to Roland’s Artist Relations Centre and the Zildjian endorsement centre for Europe – all of which can be accessed by artists when they are rehearsing at Cato.
In recent years, we have been privileged to welcome a host of A-List artists to Cato including Muse, Biffy Clyro, Simply Red, Guns n Roses, Haim, Catfish and the Bottlemen, Kylie, Metallica, Kate Bush, Take That, The Who, Rihanna, Bastille, Placebo, Robbie Williams, The Rolling Stones and many others in music, theatre, dance and drama.
Who do you work with? Will you have been responsible for putting together some of our favourite gigs?
At Cato, our job is to make sure that artists and musicians have proper facilities to prepare for their amazing stage shows. As the Muse Tour Director, however, I’ve also had the experience of a lifetime putting together spectacular shows for the millions of fans who turn out to see and hear Muse across the world.
Are there any great stories about the acts you’ve worked with?
Before working with Muse, I also toured with The Thrills, the Manic Street Preachers, Hard-Fi, the Magic Numbers and Amy MacDonald.
“I have too many stories to share but I couldn’t possibly tell. What happens on the road stays on the road!”
What role do you think companies like yourself play in the modern music scene, how important is it?
Touring and production companies are such a central part of the music ecosystem. Bands love to go on tour to perform for their fans and indulge in the sheer enjoyment that the live experience gives them. Cato is part of the infrastructure that allows this to happen. There are so many jobs and roles behind the scenes – it’s a lot more sophisticated than people think! Beyond the rehearsal spaces, we can make sure that artists have the road crew they need (everything from a tour manager, front-of-house engineer and monitor engineer to a lighting designer, production manager and backline tech) as well as the equipment they need such as drum kit, spare strings, in-ears, microphones, the list goes on. You name it, Cato has it!
With that in mind what made you establish the academy?
Cato is such an exciting place to work and I was always getting requests for work experience. There is so little that you can learn in the space of two weeks and so I decided to create an in-house Academy at Cato in South West London – where we have our music facilities – to give proper training, education, and real connections to the industry to the next generation of touring professionals.
Tell us a little about the course, why is it intensive?
Across the 12-week evening course, students have the opportunity to hear first-hand from professionals working in the industry today. We don’t bring in teachers who have retired – we make sure that our students are fully up-to-date with what’s going on the live sector nowadays, not ten years ago!
Students cover five key areas: the live music business, tour management, production management, backline and live sound. Our course is taught by people who work with big acts like Rihanna, Catfish & the Bottlemen, Bastille, Ella Henderson, Bruce Springsteen, Emeli Sande, Haim, and many other well known artists.
The course also provides volunteer work opportunities to give students’ practical “hands on” experience outside of the classroom. This year, we took students to Glastonbury, The Green Man Festival and other big productions.
Are there any success stories from the academy, how often do your students go on to find work in the industry?
All the time! We try to help students via our work experience opportunities and our in-house Crew Agency. We also encourage them to keep in touch with their lecturers in case they require help. There have been people go to work as part of the crew for Rihanna, Bastille, Amy MacDonald, and Hugh Laurie productions whilst there are others who are out there climbing the ladder, travelling Europe and getting real experience on the road.
What message do you have for young people aspiring to get into the industry?
Join The Cato Academy! Oh, and always be nice.
For more information on the Cato Academy click here:
Article by Ben Stevens
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