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The New Bosses 2019: Marc Saunders, The O2

Continuing a series of interviews with IQ's 2019 New Bosses, Marc Saunders is programming manager at the AEG-owned O2 Arena in London, UK

By IQ on 02 Oct 2019

The New Bosses 2019: Marc Saunders

Marc Saunders

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 last month 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.

The sixth New Boss is Marc Saunders (27), programming manager of The O2 in London. Saunders studied music journalism at the University for the Creative Arts (UCA) in Surrey in the UK (but took a different route into the industry to award-winning IQ news editor Jon Chapple, who did the same course).

After interning at Vector Management (James, Il Divo), Saunders spent two and a half years at publisher Hornall Brothers Music, before joining The O2 in London in 2015. (Read the previous interview with HomeComing Events’ Katlego Malatji here.)


What are you busy with right now?
Finalising 2019’s calendar and looking ahead to 2020 – and 2021 – ensuring that the diary is being filled up with the biggest artists and top events. One perk of always looking so far ahead is that time seems to fly by!

Did you always want to work in the music business?
Being the dreamer that I am, I originally wanted to work in the industry but as a musician, I can play a few instruments and I used to be a session guitarist for various artists. I then had a realisation that it might be a wiser step to head into the business side of the music industry.

What are some of the highlights of your career so far?
I’d say booking my first event which was Blue Planet II: Live In Concert in March 2019. It was amazing to see everything finally come together after months of planning and watch the incredible shows play out. It was also the first plastic-free event at The O2 which I was really proud to be a part of.

On the other hand, I had the privilege of presenting Post Malone an award to celebrate his first headline shows at the arena. I’m a huge fan, and I hope next time I have a chance to challenge him at beer pong.

“Building and maintaining relationships is so fundamental to what we do”

How has your role changed since you started out?
I first joined the team as programming administrator in 2015, where my primary focus was the coordination of our very busy calendar, and also issuing show contracts. My evolution within the team has culminated in me now focusing on the physical booking of shows, by means of working closely with agents and promoters to ensure we attract the best talent and book the most sought-after events.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt while at The O2?
Building and maintaining relationships is so fundamental to what we do. One of the main keys to the venue’s success is based on our efforts to ensure that our clients and their artists are the top priority. If you go the extra length to make your clients happy, then the shows will always be more successful.

What, if anything, would you change about how the live industry is run today?
I would like there to be more focus on grassroots venues in the UK. The amazing fundraising work of the Music Venue Trust this year has shown that there is still a strong belief in ensuring the survival of these venues, and I firmly believe that without them, artists will not have an initial platform to one day reach the level of performing in arenas.

“I feel very fortunate to work at the world’s most popular music, entertainment and leisure venue and I don’t want this adventure to end”

What do you do for fun?
I have a love/hate relationship with running. I regularly go for jogs to keep active, and also finished the London Marathon this year for the Make-A-Wish foundation. But if I’d call running ‘fun’ then I’d be the world’s biggest liar!

Do you have an industry mentor?
Since being introduced into the programming team, Emma Bownes and Christian D’Acuna have been so influential in helping to shape my career. They’ve taken me under their wing and helped to teach me the ins and outs of how to book shows at an arena level, and I have the utmost gratitude towards them for that.

What advice would you give to anyone who wants to get into, or is new to, the business?
A music-related degree is always a bonus, but realistically if you have the passion and drive to go the extra mile, then you’ll succeed in this industry. Make friends with everyone, broaden your horizons, and good things will come your way.

Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?
I usually don’t know where I see myself in ten days time, let alone ten years! But as it stands I feel very fortunate to work at the world’s most popular music, entertainment and leisure venue and I don’t want this adventure to end.


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