'We do things differently': Manager Marcus Russell on global ambitions for Catfish And The Bottlemen

'We do things differently': Manager Marcus Russell on global ambitions for Catfish And The Bottlemen

There could be a big battle for No.1 next with new albums from Catfish And The Bottlemen and Pink out today (April 26).

The Welsh band have returned with their third long-player The Balance (Island), and will be hoping for a No.1 follow-up to the chart-topping The Ride. The 2016 album has sales to date of 280,154, according to the Official Charts Company. Lead single Longshot peaked at No.25 earlier this year. It has sales to date of 116,036.

Ignition Management’s founder Marcus Russell, who also represents Noel Gallagher and previously managed Oasis, has been working with Catfish And The Bottlemen for the last five years. Here, he opens up about the group’s live ascendancy, global ambitions and streaming strategy…

Island’s president Louis Bloom describes Catfish And The Bottlemen as the biggest band in Britain. What are your hopes for this record? 

“It’s all going very well indeed, according to plan, everyone is happy with the progression through from last year into this year. It’s a strong record. Island have been fantastic. They are bringing a massive amount of expertise and strength to the whole campaign. Island have been very positive and very adaptable and have brought a lot to the table. It’s a really good partnership.”

Lead single Longshot made the charts, which is unusual for a rock act. How did they crack streaming?

“We do things a little differently. We don’t really adhere to album cycles to begin with. Catfish are more like a band of no fixed abode, we’re constantly touring really. The live activity doesn’t diminish when, as the industry would say, you’re in between cycles. That helps keep the profile, presence and the growth, which in turn helps streaming. Another major reason why it streams well is the make-up of the fanbase is significantly young: 17-23 is the majority of the demographic at the shows both domestically and internationally. It’s a 50-50 split male and female. It completely dispels the notion that only 40-plus males like guitar-led music these days.”

The band have 3.4 million monthly listeners on Spotify. Have you been targeting DSPs and playlists?

“The industry is quite new to understanding streaming behaviour. One thing we are conscious of is to try and focus on increasing streaming that’s not playlist-led. It’s to try and increase followers rather than just picking up streams according to how many playlists you’re on. Both are very important, but we like to focus on increasing followers as much as possible and streamers of the band. We just keep doing what we doing. We focus on where the appeal of the band is, which is in their live performance and the communication is done through social media. We don’t particularly focus on any other aspects apart from radio.”

The band have not really done much press…

“Social media has replaced print media. People make their own mind’s up, they don’t sit waiting for a journalist to tell them what to like and not like any more. People can get steered towards links to your music, imagery or video. It’s not a personality-led social media, it’s information.”

How has the radio and TV support been on this campaign? 

“Radio is very strong, they are one of the strongest radio acts across every genre, that’s in the US, Australia and the UK. It’s debatable what TV means any more, in the same way that it’s debatable what press means any more. Certainly with this kind of act, I’m not crying into my beer about any [lack of media coverage]. Radio is an important part, the streaming partners are important and relationships with promoters around the world are extremely important.”

Catfish are as well positioned as any British guitar band has been in the last decade to crack the US

Marcus Russell

They played SSE Arena, Wembley recently on their UK tour in February. What are the live plans – could they become a stadium act?

“Our strategy is just to keep growing it steadily. International is a massive part of the plot. Young, developing bands like this can’t sustain a career just on the UK market alone. So the international picture is very important, which also involves touring. How far can it go? Look, they are a phenomenally good live band, they have got a fantastic growing appeal and a young fanbase, which is going to grow with them. I’m anticipating that it’s going to go a lot further than it is already.”

How about their progress in the US?

“They’ve got some fantastic foundations out there, radio is growing month by month, the touring base, the fanbase is building month by month. America is a vast market to crack. Catfish are as well positioned as any British guitar band has been in the last decade or so. But there’s a long way to go yet. We’re fine with that, its an exciting strong position they’re in to build on.”

What are the major territories for the band?

“The key markets are South America as well as the United States and Canada. Australia is a very key market and the band are in a very strong position down there. Those are key markets for us. Europe we’ve been a little bit slow out of the blocks, but there’s some very good activity coming up this year in Europe for the band. We’re headlining the second stage at Summer Sonic in Japan, which is not insignificant – they’ve been offered that slot as a result of their touring in Japan last year. So we’ve got a reasonably good international spread this year. America does take up quite a bit of time. When we look back on 2019, the band will have pretty much covered the UK arena circuit as well.”

To read the Music Week magazine story on the return of Catfish And The Bottlemen, subscribers can click here.

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