For more than a decade, Jim Neill has worked as the marketing director of the Iron Horse Entertainment Group (IHEG), promoting shows featuring local and national acts, acting as a spokesperson for the venue group, a media liaison, and one of the most prominent faces of IHEG.
Neill recently left IHEG to become director of marketing for Ithaca, N.Y.,-based DSP Shows’ Northampton office. He didn’t apply for the job, but was asked to join the regional concert booking and promoting company. His first day on the job was Jan. 2.
“It was a big decision for me. I’ve loved working at IHEG and my colleagues there are some of the coolest and substantive people I’ve ever known,” he said. “Ultimately I just wanted a change. I worked at Rykodisc for five years, Rhino for eight, [and] IHEG for 10. In each case I intuitively felt a chapter coming to a close right before I left. DSP may be the gig I’ll ride into to sunset. Like IHEG, it’s a small group of smart people who are passionate about live music. Meeting them was a big part in my decision to take the job.”
On Dec. 20, Neill announced his departure from IHEG on his personal Facebook page, saying, “I’m grateful to [IHEG owner] Eric Suher for giving me the opportunity to work here and I’m proud of what we have accomplished … My departure is bittersweet and I wish only continued success for everyone at IHEG.”
But with Neill having left IHEG, it’s uncertain if a new director of marketing for the company has been hired at this time. IHEG staff members at the company’s downtown Northampton office declined to comment about Neill’s departure. As for his replacement, they said they didn’t have anything to say at this time but that they would be sending out a press release sometime in the near future.
Neill’s role with DSP shows is much the same kind of work he was doing at IHEG, including publicity, social media, and marketing. But now at DSP Shows he promotes shows throughout the Northeast at theatres and clubs in New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, in addition to local venues such as the Academy of Music in Northampton, Gateway City Arts in Holyoke, and the Shea Theatre in Turners Falls.
During the past decade Neill said he’s seen the rise of more independent venues and promoters in the Pioneer Valley.
“I’ve seen a new wave of local bands that are benefitting, and wrestling with, exposure on the web in ways that bands ten years ago didn’t have access to,” he said. “I’ve seen some of the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s era Valley bands become the sage elders of the scene, co-mingling with the newer bands, and releasing some of their best music. The Valley continues to be an area that spawns wonderful local music and offers a ridiculous amount of great live national music given its size and location.”
Neill also said his previous employer is getting better about physical improvements to its venues, which were the source of complaints in 2016.
“I’ve seen it happening,” he said. “There are infrastructure improvements happening that may not be as apparent as the cosmetic stuff. I suspect it’s only going to get better.”
Chris Goudreau can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.