Paul Robson: Medialease

How did you initially get into the industry?

“I was selling capital equipment in London in the early ‘90s as a green, 22-year-old northerner. The recession hit, nobody was building anything, and I knew I was on borrowed time. Along came the MD of a sister company, who persuaded me with 3 pints of Ruddles County that I would be better suited in the Midlands, sorting out asset finance for open cast coal miners in Scotland and the North who couldn’t pay for the £5m worth of huge excavators and dump trucks they needed.

“So, I learned about leasing there and realised that, although I didn’t care for that industry, I felt suited to the leasing concept. I decided to try to do it within an industry I care for – at the time, that was the recording studio, not live events sector, which still had life in it then. Luckily, in early 1997, I saw an advert in the Telegraph for Fineline Media Finance, so it all started from there…”

When did you discover there was a gap in the live events market for a finance company like Medialease?

“By the early noughties, I had started Medialease, dedicated to service the broadcast / TV post-production and general AV markets. I’d been fully focussed on these sectors – mainly with camera rental and Soho-based television editing and effects sectors – when I received a call one day from Chris Mounsor. I met up with him and Lee Spencer [of XL Video fame] in a completely empty warehouse near St. Albans, and these guys were telling me they were going to be the next big thing in video. They wanted to buy 8 camera channels as they said they had a tour to do. It was then that I saw this side of the market, together with the audio rental companies who were very open to meeting and happy to receive our advice and services, so I shifted the business focus partly as a result of what saw developing in the live sector.”

Have you seen a change in trends since its conception?

“Yes. There’s been a resurgence in bands realising there’s no money in the studio, it’s on the road, and that has helped my company and the whole industry massively. There’s also been huge progression in gigs and tours – technical achievements, scale, professionalism and, of course, the ‘show’ factor – and all this has led to greater investment in technology, with greater volumes of moving lights, speaker stacks, larger projectors and bigger screens. The LED and projection side of things has transformed my business in this sector.

Are there any stand-out moments in your career that you’re particularly proud of?

In 2008, we provided the funding for the video – for XL Video – audio – Wigwam – and lighting – Neg Earth – for George Michael’s tour, which featured that epic Barco projector stage / screen set up. It was a proud moment seeing it all come together at the new Wembley site. Also, the many investments we’ve made for our clients; XL Video and Capital Sound are just 2 examples of companies that we’ve seen grow with our assistance. We work closely with many of the equipment manufacturers and many impress me with their growth and re-emergence into a new market – DiGiCo and Green Hippo are good examples too.”

You recently attended the TPi Awards, what did you think of the 2018 event?

“I love the TPi Awards! We’ve been supporting it with sponsorship for the last few years and have attended every one since 2005 / 06. It’s a great industry night where we all turn up in fancy suits and socialise. The success of the event marks it out as a must-attend evening.”

When you’re not working, what would we find you doing?

“Travel and gigs – I do like a big music gig! I’m always just about to go off somewhere or coming back from travel ling for a business trip; I never sit still at home. My wife’s into gardening and topiary, while I’m watching sport or at the pub! Our dog, Archie, gets a lot of walking, plus I have 2 boys in their late teens who are quite happy now they’re not seeing so much of me! I’ll soon be taking up piano lessons, if I get half a chance to sit still…”