BRIT Trust Diaries: Toby Leighton-Pope, MD TEG Europe and Co-Chair of The Music Industry Trusts (MITS) Award
Toby Leighton-Pope is the Managing Director of TEG Europe, as well as a Co-Chair of The Music Industry Trusts (MITS) Award, which is this year celebrating the career of Lucy Dickins.
Here, Toby talks about his experience of fundraising in the music industry, and what makes the MITS Award, which takes place next month on 6th November, the special event that it is.
As someone who has worked in the music industry for years – and also grown up inside it – charitable giving and fundraising is something that seems to happen naturally, alongside our work. The industry stands out for its philanthropic efforts; artists donate their time and money on an epic scale for the causes close to them, and get together to organise the worlds’ biggest benefit concerts.
Here in the UK, The BRIT Trust plays an intrinsic part of that sense of philanthropy. Supported by the BPI, it continually works to give back on the industry’s behalf, from providing young people at The BRIT School with the opportunities and skills they need to be part of our industry, to changing lives with Nordoff & Robbins’ music therapy.
Last year I became Co-Chair of The MITS, one of the most-loved events in the industry calendar, and also a source of key fundraising for those two charities. I’m not new to fundraising myself – my father, Carl Leighton-Pope, and our family, have been raising money for Nordoff & Robbins for as long as I can remember. I was also one of the top 15 fundraisers for Movember one year, so, while I no longer have the moustache, that drive to raise money for good causes has obviously stuck with me!
In that sense, it felt a natural progression to take over the MITS reins when David Munns retired. I’ve been going to the MITS ever since it started, and had been working closely with David on the event as Vice-Chair since 2012. I accepted the role along with my Co-Chair Dan Chalmers – my background is in live music, with my career taking me from SVP of Promotions at Live Nation to CO – CEO of AEG Presents, and now MD of TEG Europe – so Dan brings to the table that vital experience from the record company side. And of course, he’s also just a really great person to work! I definitely wouldn’t have taken this on without him.
Taking on the role in the middle of Covid has had its challenges, with its impact on live events which we, and the charities, are still making our way out of. While David is still there when we need to tap into his wealth of knowledge about The MITS – he’s been in it since 1992, the very beginning – not having him around to work with day to day has pushed us on to a learning curve. But we have a great team and committee around us, so it’s worked really well. Essentially, that heritage David created is always there to guide us, Covid or no Covid, and always will be – at its essence the MITS is about getting together as an industry to have fun and celebrate the amazing work of our peers, while raising money for our charities, and getting into the festive spirit before Christmas. With that in mind you’re always going to create a great event!
I think what helps to make The MITS different from other industry events is that instead of giving loads of awards out to different people, we only have the one winner, which means we can focus the whole thing on them. We tailor the event to the recipient, and make it personal and intimate, for example, our performers are usually personally and professionally linked, and we create an exclusive Tribute Book of messages for them, which also raises vital funds. It’s their night; a bespoke party just for them, showcasing and celebrating their personal success and the inspiring part they play in the wider industry. That personal touch really sets us apart – some of my favourite MITS nights have been the ones where the recipient is someone I know personally and worked closely with, such as Emma Banks. And coming from the live side of the industry, being there to see Michael Eavis, the first festival promoter to receive the award, was also an important one to me. But whoever it is, and whatever they mean to you personally, every year you know you’re always going to have a fun time, see some incredible, intimate live performances, and leave feeling inspired.
This year we’re excited to be honouring Lucy Dickins, WME’s Global Head of Contemporary Music and Touring. Lucy was an easy choice for the committee, because she has all the makings of a MITS Award winner – her achievements have grown exponentially alongside her career, and she’s already left her mark on the industry. You only have to look at her client list – from Adele and Mumford & Sons to Hot Chip and James Blake – to know she has an extraordinary eye for spotting and nurturing talent. Her visit to The BRIT School and Nordoff & Robbins has shown how engaged she is with important charity work, too. Plus, she’s one of the few women running global businesses right now.
So, it’s looking like this year is going to be an especially memorable and inspiring one, and we can’t wait to see you all there to celebrate Lucy, as well as the generous spirit of our industry to both our peers and the charities we work with. If you haven’t been to The MITS before, then you should come along and see what it’s all about, and why our attendees return year after year – we’re sure it’ll be a highlight in your calendar for years to come, too.
The Music Industry Trusts Award, honouring Lucy Dickins, is taking place on 6 November 2023 at The Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane, London.
If you would like to attend, please contact [email protected] for further information.