60 Seconds with Shack
David Shackleton (Shack) - History and Politics, 1988, Fylde - is MD of Phantom Music Management currently overseeing the antics of metal band, Iron Maiden.
Probably the most exciting time of David Shackleton’s university life at Lancaster was the day his first article appeared in rock magazine Kerrang! The feelings it generated still overshadow the sensations he had later in launching the careers of world sensations One Direction, Dido, Annie Lennox and Westlife.
He remembers his first-year self virtually taking up residence at the newsagent’s shop in Alex Square waiting until the magazine arrived to buy one with his review of English rock band Marillion’s Misplaced Childhood tour.
“I was single-minded about what I wanted to do,” laughs Shack.”I had come to university determined that I was going to grow my hair & become a music journalist and I felt as if I had arrived.” University was a real eye-opener for Shack, even though the sporty youngster from a conservative Leeds family considered himself to be quite sophisticated. He found himself mixing with both an ‘openly Gay hard-core vegetarian’ and a ‘posh farmer’s son from down South’, in a scene he could not have imagined back home.
Although he chose Lancaster for the rock gigs it advertised, these did not happen during his time there. But he found himself travelling to Manchester and all over the country to review bands for Kerrang! and he had his own column with Scan called ‘For Those About To Rock’. The appearance of Scottish band Pallas at the Sugar House, gave him his first overseas journalistic assignment, in Amsterdam.
His three years as a student are packed with memories of broadening horizons, such as the night his politics tutor David Denver held a Burns Night, complete with whisky and haggis - the first time Shack had encountered them. There was also the press and political furore caused when two mature students suggested model Sam Fox be awarded an honorary degree.
Although Shack does not consider himself academic, and admits he spent much of his time at Lancaster playing football, Dungeons and Dragons and with the Rock Society, he is proud of having achieved a good degree and thoroughly enjoyed his studies, particularly his free ninth unit on the Yorkshire Post.
“Lancaster University gave me the confidence to stand on my own two feet,” he says. “All I have done for the past 10 years is to travel the world and I have never had any problems. I think studying International Relations has had some effect on the way I operate and all the creative writing I did at university has given me longevity in the business.”
On graduation he was straight down to London as a freelance rock journalist, eventually gaining a full-time job with Kerrang! thanks to his Scan column calling card, rising to editor of Metal Forces. Alongside this he did some broadcasting work for BBC Radio 1. Then in 1990 he was asked to do some consultancy work for BMG Records about Deep Purple and after a month he was offered a job with the company. He took it to ensure he did not end up like many of his journalist colleagues ‘in my 40s, balding with bad jeans and still wearing free T-shirts’.
“The thing is,” says Shack, “I would not have got my job at BMG, which led to me being at Sony if I had not had a degree.” The chairman of the organisation was determined he needed a graduate. From then on his life took on a very different turn which saw him take a series of jobs during 22 years in Sony in international product management, heading the foreign labels and ending up as Vice President of International for Sony UK. He left the job in January 2013 and is now MD of Phantom Music Management, Iron Maiden's Management Company.
His work has seen him travel the world, party in every continent and launch the careers of strings of pop stars. At BMG he also met his wife Nicki Chapman, the TV presenter and former Popstars and Pop Idol judge.