22live is the UK’s newest pro-audio service provider, initially focused on providing hire services to the touring production market.
Founded in early 2022 by Paul Timmins, with the initial business name derived purely from the year the company was established, 22live quickly became the favoured choice of name for its simplicity, availability and focus as a brand. “22 just works. It can fit on anything and it’s snappy. We’re really pleased with the brand we are creating and it looks great on all the kit”, comments Timmins.
In mid-2022 Stefan Phillips and Simon Gladstone joined the company as directors, to establish operations, based in the Midlands.
When establishing a new business like 22live, I needed the right people. I had conversations with Stefan and Simon as they too were starting out on new paths. Fortunately for me they were keen to join, bringing all the knowledge and experience we need to deliver the services of 22live. Working with Stefan and Simon meant that the Midlands was the obvious choice for our operational base, explains Timmins.
From this point the audio rental company started to take shape. Operations director Stefan Phillips explains: “There was much for us to decide quickly - where to operate from, what kit to use, how to sort packaging and infrastructure, and what management software to use. We also wanted to start generating revenue at the earliest opportunity. 22live is a fresh start, so it was great to go back to the drawing board. Without the legacy of older connectors to integrate, or a mountain of flightcases from different decades, we’ve had complete freedom to start afresh with how we do things and improve operational practices”.
Simon Gladstone, 22live’s technical director adds: “Since my start date in June 2022, my efforts have largely gone into supporting the design, development and manufacturing process of building our new infrastructure and line system. We have worked to produce as much infrastructure as we could so we’d have spare capacity. Now in 2023 we are adding more equipment to the inventory and we are able to get more control packages out on the road to meet demand as our services develop. As well as supporting new hire opportunities my focus now turns to delivering our bespoke software and management systems in order to operate as efficiently as possible”.
Recognising that the potential for 22live could quickly outstrip the existing management resource, Timmins was keen to explore the possibility of adding to the team. Having worked closely with Spencer Beard and Alex Penn previously, it was a logical step to approach them to see whether they would be keen to join the 22live project.
I knew there was scope for Alex and Spencer to be potentially available, and I knew to achieve my ambition for 22live we were going to need more help on the commercial side! I was delighted after having reached out to them that they were keen to return to the industry in a new and innovative project. We all had similar views of how the marketplace was evolving and what we’d need to deliver to be successful in developing a new home for us all. It was an exciting meeting as we saw our futures rolling out before us, it couldn’t have been an easier decision to work together again, comments Timmins.
Spencer Beard joined 22live as managing director from the start of 2023. He comments: “Starting a new pro-audio hire company that enters the market as an independent newcomer, with a team old enough to have decades of industry experience and young enough to have the drive to create something new, and the financial resource to immediately become a serious player, is rare. It’s easy to see why we were excited to join with Paul and his team, to take 22live forwards. Without legacy our inventory is world class and innovative. We will build and acquire kit, ultimately, that people want to hire from us wherever possible. We also need to ensure we invest in products at the start of their lifecycle and that give us a USP. We are well positioned to take on much of the boutique style touring work and although we will be limited by our size initially, we hope to be able to cater to as much of the demand we generate as possible.”
He continues: “Paul and the guys have worked hard in the build-up phase of the enterprise, which allows 22live to launch now fully-formed and ready to go. 22live has a serious offering, an inventory capable of supporting arena tours comfortably, and the knowledge and relationships to be trusted to deliver”.
Alex Penn also joins the team in January 2023, as commercial director. He adds:
We still have much to do, and more announcements to make as 2023 unfolds. We are planning further investment in gear as the demand for our services grows. 22live will focus on the touring market for rentals, but we are also developing sales opportunities and dealerships. We are passionate about what we do and where we have come from. We want to enjoy working in this special industry and protect the things that make it different to other working environments. We hope to maintain a culture nostalgic to our ‘rock n roll heritage’, but also pushing the boundaries forward with technology to become a true next generation PA hire company. 22live respects the informality of the past and wants to minimise the corporate rhetoric. We want to look after our clients, encourage a respectful and fun working environment, and look forward to supporting the next generation of touring productions.
Paul Timmins, hire director, reflects on 22live’s first year of trading: “The fact that we are able to announce our official launch having already completed two major tours as well as a London O2 Arena show I think is unheard of. We delivered what I believe to be first-class quality on both the Sigur Rós and The Australian Pink Floyd Show tours, in late 2022, and all of that without even letting the market know we’d officially arrived! We also kept our new Martin Audio PA busy on dry-hire projects and even sent a package out to Qatar for the World Cup. This is a great start. We’re looking forward to putting more 22live shows out on the road in the coming months and supporting all of those that want to work with us”.
The final member of the board to be appointed is finance director Ian Bidmead. He adds: “With all the experience of the people involved, I am confident to represent the team from the financial aspect. I am sure my 30-odd years in the audio business, together with my extensive professional practice as a chartered accountant will help me to keep the financial headaches for the rest of the team to a minimum. Sound financial planning, coupled with comprehensive control systems are intrinsic to the success of any business, but are particularly relevant in an industry where decisions have to be made quickly to ensure opportunities are not missed”.
We intend to keep things simple, operating from one base, keeping our team focussed and lean, using external suppliers for things that we cannot build efficiently and working with clients that want to work with us. We are very excited by what the future holds. We believe that actions speak louder than words and so look forward to demonstrating to the market our capability as we take on the exciting opportunities that 2023 has to offer, concludes Spencer Beard.
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