25 years of The Needs Group

Matt Cheshire looks back on 25 years of The Needs Group, reflecting on everything from artist liaison through to aviation.

25 years of The Needs Group.

“I knew I always wanted to be in the music industry,” reflected Matt Cheshire, speaking to TPi about the history of his company, The Needs Group. The Managing Director spoke of the plethora of services that The Needs Group offers the live events industry. The company, which has been serving the industry for the past 25 years, provides everything from artist liaison and air charters to furniture for backstage dressing rooms – a true Swiss army knife for those working in the sector.

Cheshire got his start in the events space working for several broadcast companies from the BBC to ITV, although he always had his eye on the live side of the industry. It was through his work at the BBC that he crossed paths with one Pete Tong and began a relationship with the artist, which he has continued, serving as his Tour Manager for many years.

“The real origin of The Needs Group followed a period where I took a redundancy payout from a broadcast company and started focusing on festivals,” commented Cheshire. “At that time, we placed a focus on artist liaison services and it just expanded from there.”

The company now proudly states on its website that it’s “the most comprehensive provider for artist needs in the world”. The team has five full members of staff including Matt Cheshire. This includes Directors, Rob and Rachel Cheshire as well as Artist Liaison Managers, Gareth Rees and Becky Barwell.

The company grew exponentially as Cheshire and his team saw potential avenues – air charter being a prime example. For 17 years, The Needs Group has been working with clients using its in-house system, which can track over 8,000 aircraft worldwide to ensure artists get the best priced charter. “A good 50% of my day is now taken up doing flights,” chuckled Cheshire. This service has also seen the company moving into new markets – specifically sporting, where it often organises travel for Premier League clubs alongside its continued work with music industry clients.

Yet as quickly as the aviation is growing, Cheshire is proud that the events side of the industry continues to thrive. “We are working on 135 shows this summer on top of all our work within aviation,” he stated. “This includes a number of shows for Live Nation and Festival Republic.” Notable highlights are Scarborough Open Air Theatre and Gunnersbury Park.

“Even after 25 years, the events and aviation markets continue to grow, as does our range of furniture, which we provided for everything from VIP areas to backstage dressing rooms,” Cheshire commented, adding that the company houses all its stock of furniture in its warehouse in Leeds before shipped it around the UK as and when it’s needed.

With the summer coming up – Cheshire explained how the core team of five would inflate to 60 to handle the increased workload with many of those being freelancers. It led Cheshire to express his concerns with getting younger people into the industry.

“For those guys coming through the ranks, it’s harder than ever before due to the logistics of getting them out on the road. We, as an industry, must look after these people. I’ve always said that knowledge is power. It’s why we at The Needs Group are always keen to work with students – artist liaison work is often a great entry point into the industry.”

Words: Stew Hume

Photo: The Needs Group