We are still having this conversation, because the issues of equality are still there. So what advice would you give to a young woman looking to embark on a career in the music industry – specifically as a booker or a promoter?
“I think if you’re a woman trying to get into the industry – and to me, again, that’s a question that resonates as man, woman or dog, in my opinion – there are certain things you’ve got to have. You’ve got to be thick-skinned; you’ve got to understand that in this industry you can’t let things affect you. In the past I’ve been guilty of letting things get to me. You can’t be like that. I go on about this on my social media all the time. You’ve got to have a moral code. You’ve got to be the person that, whatever you say, your word is your honour, if you like. I always say to people, raise the bar so, whatever you do, people can say, ‘She’s never let me down and, whatever’s happened, she’s never reneged on anything.’ You’ve got to have a level of trust so that people can trust in what you do.
“If women want to go into promotion and booking, keep knocking on doors because even when people are saying no to you, things will change. Years and years ago, I had a situation where agents didn’t deal with me straight away because they’d never heard of Bloodstock and they didn’t know who I was. They were used to dealing with Live Nation and very well known promoters.
“It wasn’t the fact that I was a woman, it was more of a case of, ‘Who is Vicky Hungerford? And what’s Bloodstock?’ So I kept knocking on doors. I told people we were a great event, we were this and we were that. So you have to keep persevering, and I know it’s a labour of love for a lot of people and it’s an easy thing for me to say, but I was where a lot of people are now, and nothing’s really changed. In fact, if anything, it’s a little easier now because you’ve got other channels and social media, so you have other ways of getting to people and other avenues through which you can speak to people. 20 years ago, those weren’t there.
“So I would say, you’ve got to be resilient. And always remember that it’s often not personal, it’s business. So even if I have friends that are agents, when I’m dealing with them on a business level, I separate the two.”
In the last 20 years Bloodstock has come into its own. It represents a community. It also has a number of unique elements, including the Sophie Lancaster Stage. Tell us about how that came about and what it represents?
“So, the Sophie Lancaster story – for anyone who doesn’t know – was incredibly sad. Sophie, a very young girl, and her boyfriend were walking through a park, they were alternative in the way they dressed and they were attacked for absolutely no other reason than the way they looked. Sophie was viciously attacked and ended up in hospital. Her boyfriend survived and she unfortunately passed away.
“The whole situation really resonated with Bloodstock because so many of our fans – and I can’t express this enough – it’s not just that they look different or are into different things, they come to the event on their own because they don’t have people around them who are like them or dress like them. It really struck a chord with the festival because it was the most horrific crime and a life was lost as a result. It seemed the right thing to do, to name the second stage at the festival in Sophie’s memory and not do it as a one year or two year thing. It is forever the Sophie Lancaster Stage.
“Her mother, Sylvia – who is an incredible woman who has championed a lot of changes in the law – and Sophie’s brother Adam attend Bloodstock every year. They have a stall raising awareness of the foundation which, if anyone’s not heard of it before, you need to check it out. I can’t express how much the support of Sophie’s mum means to the festival, especially after everything she’s had to go through.
“Unfortunately, it’s a crime that’s still happening now. People are still getting attacked and abused purely for the way they look and the laws still aren’t strong enough, in my opinion, to allow people to be prosecuted for that. That’s what Sylvia has been championing. And, as a festival, that’s important to us.”