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The New Bosses 2019: Bonita McKinney, Ticketmaster

Kicking off a series of interviews with IQ’s 2019 New Bosses is Bonita McKinney, business development manager of music and festivals at Ticketmaster

By IQ on 12 Sep 2019

Bonita McKinney, Ticketmaster, New Bosses 2019

Bonita McKinney

The New Bosses 2019 – the biggest-ever edition of IQ‘s yearly roundup of future live industry leaders, as voted for by their peers – was published in IQ 85 this week, revealing the twelve promising agents, promoters, bookers and execs that make up this year’s list.

To get to know this year’s cream of the crop a little better, IQ conducted interviews with each one of 2019’s New Bosses, to discover their greatest inspirations and proudest achievements, pinpoint the reasons for their success and obtain advice for those hoping to be a future New Boss. Snippets of the interviews can be found in the latest IQ Magazine, with all interviews being reproduced in full online and on IQ Index over the coming weeks.

First up is Bonita McKinney (30), business development manager of music and festivals at Ticketmaster. Born in Exeter and raised in Bournemouth, McKinney studied commercial music at London’s University of Westminster. Her first full-time industry role was at Miracle Artists as an assistant to agent Nick Peel, where she spent two years before joining Academy Music Group in 2010 as a promoter.

After spells as a promoter for DHP Family and Robomagic, she joined Ticketmaster in 2016, moving into her current role earlier this year.


What are you busy with right now?
As I’m writing, it is mid-festival season so I’m running from field to field helping ensure box offices run smoothly and clients are happy, all while setting up presales for 2020 events.

My main role is to sign up new clients to Ticketmaster, whether they be a festival, venue, promoter or brand. I help take independent events to the next level through Ticketmaster’s marketing and technology.

Did you always want to work in the music business?
Yes, but I thought I’d be on the stage! I was in a band pitched for “electro goth success” and toured the country for a couple of years. I’m so thankful I had that experience, as now I truly understand what it is like from the artists’ perspective and just how important grassroots venues are to the success of new acts.

What are some of the highlights of your career so far?
As a promoter for more than five years, some of my highlights were Craig David’s comeback tour, Ghost’s first UK Tour with Jägermeister Music, taking Sleaford Mods to a sell-out Forum from a 50-cap room in Nottingham and creating an event for female artists which won the PRS for Music Fund.

My Ticketmaster highlight so far has to be working with the Music Venue Trust to help save grassroots music venues across the country.

“The key elements of my job are the same as promoting… I’m just helping someone else to sell out their shows instead of my own”

How has your role changed since you started out?
Prior to working for Ticketmaster I was their client – promoting festivals and stand-alone shows across the AMG venue estate. I think that experience has been fundamental to my success here at Ticketmaster now. The key elements of my job are the same as promoting and I’m working with all the same people… I’m just helping someone else to sell out their shows instead of my own.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt? Either as a promoter, or in ticketing/marketing…
Change is good for the soul. I always say this to friends considering a career change. I’ve literally had my coming of age within the music industry – I was a full-time promoter by the age of 21, negotiating with the biggest agents in the world. Three and a bit years ago I took some time off before joining Ticketmaster in 2016. Taking a break for mindfulness and reflection is so important, I felt refreshed and geared up to start the next challenge.

What, if anything, would you change about how the live industry is run today?
Diversity. Luckily Live Nation Entertainment has loads of incredible internal schemes to work towards diversity in the workplace – whether LGBTQI, gender, racial or health related – but it’s important that the entire industry comes together to tackle this too.

What do you do for fun?
Explore the world. I’ve worked solidly since I was 18 so never did the travelling thing. I now try and get away whenever there is a quiet season. The thing I find most rewarding is taking my family to gigs and festivals. Seeing the Spice Girls with my sister this year was one of the most nostalgic and emotional nights of our lives!

“It is important to have people around you who can understand why you work the crazy hours and motivate you to push on through… or tell you to take a break”

Do you have an industry mentor?
My current boss, Sarah Slater. She balances running the music department for the biggest ticketing company in the world, parenthood and having a bloody good time. There is a level of trust and security I have with her that I haven’t experienced before, perhaps it is the difference in having a female boss (she’s my first). Empowered people empower others!

Honourable mentions go to: Andy Robbins, Ian Richards and Steve Strange for always having my back.

What advice would you give to anyone who wants to get into, or is new to, the business?
Make friends. I was very lucky to start in the industry at the same time as most of my, now, best friends. We all started on reception or sending out ticket figures and have established a girl gang that can empathise with the highs and lows of the music biz. It is important to have people around you who can understand why you work the crazy hours and motivate you to push on through… or tell you to take a break.

Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?
Technology will have progressed so much that we’ll probably live in a Black Mirror world, communicating through Artificial Intelligence. I’m excited to grow within Ticketmaster and Live Nation, I’d like to work more internationally, manage a team and empower the next new bosses.


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