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WME's Sam Wald, Paradigm's Christine Cao and Karsten Jahnke MD Ben Mitha round out the tenth edition of IQ's spotlight on future live music biz leaders
By IQ on 19 Oct 2017
After shining the spotlight on (in no particular order) our first four New Bosses – Anna-Sophie Mertens, Zoe Swindells, Ryan Penty and Andrés Guanipa – in September, then Summer Marshall, Connie Shao and Matt Harrap earlier this month, the final instalment of IQ’s New Bosses 2017 wraps up our annual spotlight on the live music industry leaders of the future.
Agent, WME (AU)
Sam worked in various capacities, including artist management, tour management, talent buying and promotion, before he started working at WME’s head office in Beverly Hills in 2010. He was recruited to the Sydney office as an agent in 2013, where his expertise in electronic music led to his appointment as the territorial agent for WME’s electronic roster in Asia, Australia and New Zealand. In addition to his territorial roster, Sam’s clients also include Broods, Elliphant, Gallant, Gang of Youths, Hermitude, Jarryd James, Julia Jacklin, Matoma, Marlon Williams, Middle Kids, Porter Robinson, Starley and Zhu, among others.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to become an agent?
Get involved early and really take the time to learn as many different sides of the industry as possible. Don’t have any ego, and be willing to take on any tasks (big or small). There is a lot of competition, and not a lot of jobs. You need to make yourself a valuable asset.
Was it a difficult decision to move to Australia?
Not at all. I saw a great opportunity to move to Australia to work with many of the bands I loved, at an agency called Artist Voice. They had an amazing roster and were starting to push hard into Asia at a time when no one else in the region had the same foresight.
What’s the single best thing about being in Australia?
I get to hang out with my grandfather. I’m half Aussie, so grew up coming here as a kid.
What’s the best lesson that you’ve learned while at WME?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. I’m fortunate to be surrounded by a lot of really smart people at WME who have a wealth of knowledge and experience.
Agent, Paradigm (US)
Christine graduated from the University of Colorado and worked as an assistant at AEG Live and CAA before joining the Windish Agency in 2013. Her roster includes Grammy winner Daya, Grammy-nominated R&B singer Gallant, electronic pop phenomenon Alina Baraz and Nothing But Thieves, among others. With the majority of her artists hitting the road in support of upcoming releases, 2018 will be Christine’s busiest year yet.
What made you decide to become an agent?
I was promoting shows for my college and realised I had a massive passion for live music. I’m thankful to have learned that side of things, but I wanted to be part of an artist’s journey developing into various markets.
What’s the worst thing about your job?
If I get a chance to do this forever, I honestly can’t bring myself to think about the worst side of this gig. Maybe aeroplane food when you forget to grab something before leaving for an out-of-town show.
What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in equality during your time in the industry?
I grew up being told that being a minority both in my race and my gender was going to make things harder. A positive shift has occurred over the years, and I’m thankful for the mentors, both male and female, who have been so supportive and inspirational.
Where is your favourite festival, and which three dream acts would you like to see headlining it?
I had the chance to visit Ho Chi Minh City a few times, where my parents are from. That market is aching for live music, though electronic and pop thrive there. I’d headline my festival with the Backstreet Boys, The National and Ryan Adams.
MD, Karsten Jahnke Konzertdirektion (DE)
The grandson of legendary promoter Karsten Jahnke, Ben started promoting hip-hop parties during his school days in Hamburg, and founded full-service events company Digga Events while studying for his degree. In 2014, Karsten appointed Ben managing director and he now oversees a roster of 60 international acts, as well as domestic acts like Johannes Oerding, Max Giesinger and Michael Patrick Kelly.
How has your family’s legacy affected your industry relationships?
It was a gift at the beginning, but it also took quite a while to define my own profile and not be automatically related to Karsten’s musical profile in the industry.
Is there any practice that you would like to change, or introduce, to improve the way the business is done?
More loyalty and fewer global deals. I understand the financial dimensions behind it, but it’s always painful to lose an artist you have discovered early, invested in and helped build to a level where they arouse interest for a global deal and, all of a sudden, you’re out of the picture and there isn’t anything you can do about it.
Have there been any mistakes that have taught you valuable lessons?
I learn from mistakes daily – passing on an act in the early stages that takes off later on; miscalculating the market potential of an act and losing money; or not seeing enough potential in an idea or project that somebody else is later really successful with. I guess that’s just part of the business. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose…
Read the New Bosses 2017 as it originally appeared in the digital edition of IQ 73: