The MN2S booking agency story | Features | MN2S

Co-founder and director Sharron Elkabas talks us through the history of the MN2S booking agency in the first of several behind-the-scenes features.

Before the booking agency: the MN2S club nights

We started as an events company, not a bookings agency. The idea wasn’t even about being an events company; it was essentially about throwing a party for friends. There was no kind of – let’s start a business. It was just a party. We were pleasantly surprised by the outcome of the first event. Everybody was asking “when is the next one?” We did a second event and we doubled the numbers.

At that point we realised there was something special going on. It sounds a bit cheesy, but the idea at that point was there was a lot of house events going on around London and our idea was to bring all the people we knew together in one party. Pretty much everybody at our first and second events knew each other or knew someone that knew someone else, so the vibe was great. It was quite a special thing.

We really enjoyed putting the events on. After the second event, word got back to The Cross in London – which at the time was one of the top clubs. Billy Reilly, who owned the club, called me up wanting to meet – so we then went to see him and landed ourselves a residency there. At that point, it was all about the Saturday night. We were always a Friday, and Fridays were very difficult. Billy said – are you sure you can fill the club on a Friday? And we did. We completely smashed it. After a while, it was the busiest Friday night in London.

mn2s old flyers

We had a very successful residency there for 3 years. I guess that we built our name during that time. Our ethos was about giving our crowd choice. We weren’t running the party as a business; in fact we were pretty much losing money at every event. We were just booking who we wanted to book: the DJs and producers that we aspired to, regardless of cost. We didn’t budget or anything. We would often wake up the next day 5, 6, 7 grand down – so it was an amazing party, but not sustainable.

The birth of the booking agency

Our policy was never booking the same international guest twice, so after a period of years from the mid-90s to the late-’90s booking loads of mainly US DJs, we’d been through a lot of DJs. They all really massively enjoyed playing at all our events. We really took care of them, so we built relationships with them in the process. Before long people started calling us: other promoters from around the UK saying: “I noticed you got this DJ – can we do the Saturday?” or “where did you book that DJ?”. So we reached a point in ‘98 where we were only doing a monthly event, and at that point we had almost given up all of our other revenue streams just to focus on Milk ‘n’ 2 Sugars.

mn2s things we used to do

However, we were only doing a monthly party and the monthly party was never going to sustain us financially, so we found ourselves in quite a precarious position. Essentially, we didn’t have much money and because organically people were just asking us about DJs, we kind of had this brainwave about starting an agency and representing some of these guys.

So we started with 10 US DJs. This was the era of the fax machine, so we would be faxing these rosters out the clubs all over the UK and Europe throughout the night – and the phones started ringing, and the faxes started coming back with people wanting to book these DJs. So we realised that there was a really good demand for this. The phone was ringing a lot. We were actually just based out of our front room at that point, and I actually remember us receiving our first cheque from Ministry of Sound which we thought we would frame at the time!

Growing the agency

Things snowballed very quickly, where all of a sudden there were a lot of bookings happening and we thought – wow, this is actually happening. We continued running our events, but essentially we were mostly losing money doing them but making money with the agency. After quite a short time, in the early-2000s, we started really making a name for ourselves as an agency and vocal house ruled, so we started repping the singers on the records that were featured on the records. Then all of a sudden we had a live roster, and the demand for these live PAs was pretty huge.

We had a really good client base internationally whereas a lot of other agencies at that time were kind of UK-focused, so when artists joined MN2S, that got them not just UK gigs but European gigs and gigs in other foreign territories. From very early on, that was one of our strengths.

Look out for ‘How To Run A Booking Agency’ – the second part of our interview with Sharron.

Click to view the MN2S booking agency roster.

MN2S - The End - 2005

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