Alberto Bompani, musician and singer at first, then show manager and, currently, one of the most important Italian experts on entertainment for private and corporate events. To better understand the modus operandi leading companies in the fieldbehind one of the , we interviewed Alberto Bompani, who is the creative mind behind the success of Alma Project 24/7.
Alberto, what are your future plans? To take over the world?! Jokes aside, your professional journey is quite unique, considering that Alma Project 24/7 began from private events. What are your competitive advantages towards customers?
I cannot but thank you for the kind introduction. I have never actually been a musician. I have written songs and I have interpreted them in the attempt to transmit to the public what I had written. This quickly led to work opportunities at private events as a singer, a technician, and even as a supervisor for activities carried out by other colleagues and collaborators.
I owe a lot to my experience in the field, since today, by representing dozens of musicians and technicians that carry out activities in the field, oftentimes following multiple services at once, we are capable to know and foresee the potential and the limits of each one. I am convinced that the client benefits from the advantage of having a team that is serene, organised, and definitely always motivated to generate the best possible outcome.
Today your company offers all sorts of light and sound designs, musical entertainment and performances, all realised by your technical equipes and materials. How have you been able to reach this goal?
Every time I share content on Alma Project 24/7’s social media profiles, I think of how much that specific image or video represents just the tip of a larger, more beautiful iceberg.
It is not possible to describe something without stressing the audience with the actual work behind every detail and creation. Besides, an iceberg is always an iceberg. I can only say that the journey we began fifteen years ago, has been one made of encounters, evaluations, partnerships and arrangements, always keeping in sight what Vinicius de Moraes defined “The Art of Encounter.” I would not be able to interpret this profession in any other way. And, probably, Talent Scouting has always been a true passion of mine!
I cannot but make another mention, since you ask me of the materials that we use for the setups we create. I have been pondering over a quote by Steve Jobs, which I believe will be our mantra for the upcoming season: “It’s not the tools that you have faith in – tools are just tools. They work, or they don’t work. It’s people you have faith in or not.” It is not what we use. Equipment is just inanimate matter. It is the people that work in the field that, through their creations and skills, ennoble an object, which, otherwise, would just be an object.
There is a common thread connecting the needs and dreams of the client to us, which we then translate into technical terms, and then to the staff, which executes and puts these terms into practice. This goes full circle when the guests reach the venue and the music starts, when the lights turn on at dusk, and when the Deejay plays the last song of the night. I cannot but think of this. I am fascinated by this concept, which -as those who work in this field know- creates a very strong dependency.
To be an entrepreneur in the entertainment industry is a very complicated job. How are you able to realise it in such a precise manner (apart for being sleep deprived!)?
I find myself at ease in the complexity of my profession, as I have multiple personalities. Now, don’t be afraid, and allow me to explain! As for every complexity, even in our field it is necessary to know it and then learn to tame it. I have a scientific background, a legal one, and, while I was studying Law, my ambition was to become a songwriter. The result of this being that we can talk about the characteristics of a headlamp or a microphone, of the size of a stage, of the logistics of the next week of productions, of the Economic Summary of an event, of the withholding tax or of how to manage a work relationship with a collaborator, and you will always find me at ease.
I must confess: I owe much of this to the balance I have had within my family, as well as to the fact that I have always been free in the choices that I have made, even the most important ones, ever since I was very young. And this ensured that, today, I still feel the responsibility of my independence as an entrepreneur.
With regard to being sleep deprived, I named my new business 24/7 S.r.l., since working with clients who write from every and any timezone has led me to want to make it a habit to return to work after dinner so that I can assist them. 24 hours a day, 7 days out of 7. Sometimes, at night, I watch outside of the window of my office and I think to myself: at this hour of the night, only I and the Autogrills are open in Italy!
We know that Alma Project has recently undergone company restructuring. What changed, exactly? And how do you feel in this new organisation?
Since Christmas of 2016, I decided to continue and pursue this project without the collaborators I had shared it with since the very beginning. In other words, a marriage that came to an end after fifteen years. I made this decision in just a few days. I followed the breadcrumbs I found along the way, and at the end of the path there was this thing I had to do. Do you want to know something funny, yet interesting? It took a giffy in a city like Florence to let people know; the word spread very quickly. Without wanting it, I organised the biggest, free marketing operation that I could have ever invented, as it led to a frenzy of calls, emails and requests for further clarification, which inevitably brought larger volumes of work, contacts and new opportunities.
You ask me what has changed. On an internal structural level, absolutely nothing. The historical technicians, the collaborators in the office, and the clients are all the same, and have actually increased, with hirings in key positions and new, amazing friendships. At Alma Project 24/7 we are happy, because we are the same group of always, and in the field this feeling brings great results.
We imagine that, in a company such as Alma Project 24/7, teamwork is crucial. How do you maintain the team so united, alert, but above all enthusiastic?
I am present and am always there for them, at whatever hour of the day or night. I am not a good example for my children, to whom I will teach that a job as an employee will be the best choice for them to safeguard their private life and free time, but I want to be a good example for my collaborators, and give them all of the indications and instructions they need to work well, hence obtaining always the best possible outcome. There is also time for leisurely moments, and we have organised parties and cocktails at the warehouse to unleash the creativity of each single individual and test out new materials, mixing business with pleasure. I must say that, when it comes to organising parties, we have become quite good at it!
You have always been an innovator in the creation of setups, materials and finishings. What innovations do you have in store for 2017?
I do not like to follow trends, and I will not change this aspect. I like what is beautiful and well done, in a reasonable manner, and not do what everyone else does. However, I like to be innovative in the creation of solutions and setups that adapt to different venues in which we operate, hence enhancing their environments and contents without distorting them. With this answer, I believe I have satisfied your question, without revealing any company secret. However, I can give you a hint: for some upcoming setups, we will be… invisible! Let’s see if you can figure it out!
You have always had a great relationship with all event organisation agencies. How have roles changed and evolved in time? And what do you believe both agencies and suppliers must do in order to increase productivity in this field?
Organisation must be… organised! It is easy to work with those that have a solid workflow. However, there is still a standard lacking in the communication between agencies, us [the suppliers], and clients. It is too early to speak about it, but the idea of working on a project that forces a common denominator to even the simplest of things, such as the name of a file, the subject of an email, the Dropbox folders that are shared with everyone, is something that has truly fascinated me for some time.
Work relationships with many agencies that operate in different ways are possible, due to the fact that, on a daily basis, we translate the requests we receive into a language that is comprehensible to all those that interact with us. However, by creating a uniform method, there would be no more agencies with which we would work better better or worse, because everybody would be speaking the same language and the outcome is that the client receives what he or she wants. Or maybe even asks for something more!
What are the fundamental bits of information that you need in order to hypothesise a project for a client? And, ideally, in which phase of the organisation of the event should you be contacted?
It is crucial for us to know the date, the indicative time and, above all, the venue of the event for which we must study a production. This is a mantra for all of our Staff, and a requirement in order to hypothesise artistic and technical solutions. Once these parameters have been defined, then we come into play.
Sometimes, and actually quite often, it happens that clients choose a specific venue because they have already seen our setups. To know that we have been able to enhance to such level not just a venue but the market itself, hence creating opportunities for others through to a job well done, is a great pleasure for us, and I say this with a bit of pride.
How do you envision Alma Project 24/7’s growth in the next five years?
Right now, I am very concentrated on this season, which has just started. Forecasts are possible, and they are bright, but the development of Alma Project 24/7 will be given by the level of concentration and by the sacrifices we will all endure to grow, together. I never call my reality a “business”, since, for me, it is like a second family. The market will say whether we are right or wrong, but I hope that we will never say that we could have done better and/or more. I have taught everyone to point out each and every mishap, and to interrupt what we are doing to stop and think about why the mechanism slows down, in order to never, ever repeat the same mistake again. Therefore, in the next five years, I expect us to have a company that will be… flawless!
According to you, what are the five most dramatic mistakes that you or your team could make during a wedding reception? Have any of these ever occurred?
Luckily, we never made a dramatic error; if for “dramatic” you mean something that concerns the security and serenity of an event, or of its guests. In fact, all of our productions undergo a series of quality, stability, safety and certification checks before they are set into place. Risk is embedded in our line of work, but it is better not to incur in any risk at all.
Moreover, Alma Project 24/7 always has a “Plan B”: someone that leaves the warehouse to bring something that is missing for a job, the files with the requests for the Deejay are copied on all devices of technicians and are saved on cloud, sleeper cells ready to intervene for services even on the same night, a variety of safeguards that I will not disclose here. And besides Plan B, there’s the “Bompanata,” which involves bringing an extra 10% of the necessary materials, plus additional extra material, in order to cope with any malfunction and/or oversight. “Errare humanvm est, perseverare autem diabolicvm,” hence every mistake is followed by a lesson: if we do well, next time we will do even better. And so on and so forth, up to the perfect production. Utopia?
Amongst all the events realised by Alma Project 24/7, is there any particular one you are more passionate about? And, if yes, which one and why?
In 2011 we realised a stage, light setup, audio and backline for Mr. Gordon Sumner, aka Sting. I put my ten years of experience at work for a 15-minute long concert. It is the strong experiences in this line of work that allow you to measure yourself with who you are and bring you to the next level of experience and awareness. From that moment on, it has been a continuous succession of feats and always more challenging productions.
We thank Alberto Bompani of Alma Project 24/7 for his availability and kindness.