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Playing the Corporate Clubbing Game

Author: Michelle Pirovich
Wednesday, July 24, 2002
Cream, the nightclub, the outdoor festival, the double compilation cds and the brand are celebrating their ten years of being. Happy Anniversary. I asked James Barton, the mind behind the market, how he keeps motivated after 10 years, to which I received the reply. 'Doing interviews like this !!' Now I am not a huge fan of the email interview, there is no instant feed back which means no chance to figure out exactly what is meant in such cases. Had I been asking James this question over the phone I am quite sure I would have known exactly where he was coming from, instead my initial response upon reading this was 'Thanks for nothing Barton, just giving you a free plug here. If you are going to be the Mac Donalds of the dance world at least give it to us with a smile.' Too harsh perhaps- Who knows, maybe my interview was the 50th one James had answered and it was all getting a little tedious, kinda like listening to and reviewing the umpteenth Cream compilation cd, but hey, I am not one to hold a grudge, so with that out of the way, I will begin my story now.

Cream was formed in 1992 and according to James the idea behind it was to 'Create a small night club for me and some friends to hang out in. We were all looking for a venue where we could listen to great music from cool dj's.' There is no doubt that this has been achieved, with the likes of Paul Oakenfold and Sasha owing some of their superstar status to the Cream nightclub, everyone who has a reputation for playing quality music have graced the decks of this 'superclub' playing to an ever growing number of loyal followers. James, who never planned for it all to get as big as this, now has even bigger plans to keep his devoted clubbers going and to pull in some new ones as well.

So if James never intended for Cream to grow like it did, did he know when he had hit ' that' special moment 'There were a few amazing times when I thought 'this is it' but then something else happened and I thought when will it all end. I do think there is so much more to come from this company, we are all still very young in a business sense. I am still only 33 and the majority of all the staff are under 30. Cream is a company that is ever changing and evolving, so hopefully there's still many defining moments yet to come.'

Over the last ten years Cream have managed to turn the club into a brand, its a well oiled marketing machine that has infiltrated every facet of the youth lifestyle market and entertainment industry, making it more than just a fad. The success James puts down to hard work, determination and luck, and with the growing rise of commercialism in dance music, Creams rampaging success throughout the world has raised a few eyebrows. Many compare them to those in the upper echelons of the marketing world and it is a comment that a lot of people pose to James to which he replies.'I think it's about your product and how you position yourselves, Cream has always been about doing things from the dance floor and I think that people do know this. Like I said earlier we are a very young company with a young staff who have all grown up around dance music and we all have a love for what we do.'

Like any business, (and it can be hard for a lot of people to remember that there has to be a 'business' element for dance music to survive), the ride to success has been a learning experience with many a mistake made. For James Barton though, the Cream brand has been so hugely successful that he wouldn't change the way he has done most of it.'There's not much I would change, if I had the chance again. There were a lot of mistakes made in the early day's, but it was all due to our naivety and inexperience. I think for many years it was our creativity that got us along, but we soon discovered that we needed to wise up and start looking at this from a business perspective also . We wasted a lot of money on crazy and wild stuff that never worked, but it was good fun trying.'

With Creamf