The Soapbox Sessions welcomed an eclectic selection of speakers including radio DJ Steve Lamacq and a Buddhist monk to present on a wide range of music-related topics
Sign up for IQ Index
The latest industry news to your inbox.
In its second year, ILMC's Futures Forum bridged live music's generation gap to deliver a diverse, engaging mix of conference programming, networking and mentoring
By IQ on 09 Mar 2020
Futures Forum, ILMC’s event within an event for the next generation of live music industry leaders, returned for its sophomore outing on Friday 6 March, welcoming more than 200 young professionals for a packed day of panels, workshops, networking, TED-style ‘Soapbox’ sessions and career-boosting mentoring.
As in year one, Futures Forum, which takes place on the final day of the International Live Music Conference (ILMC), was also open to all ILMC delegates – bringing together the people that currently define the business with the emerging stars driving its evolution. This intra-generational ethos was reflected in the day’s programming, which included sessions on moving on from early career setbacks (Life After Your Star Act), learning from one’s seniors/juniors (OK, Boomer: Closing the generation gap) and more.
Futures 2020 kicked off with Meet the New Bosses: Class of 2020, which saw a quintet of IQ New Bosses, including Tomorrow’s New Boss 2020 winner Charly Beedell-Tuck (Solo Agency), discuss their respective routes to the top, as well as some of the most pressing issues facing under-30s in live music today, including wellness, sustainability, the importance of finding time for oneself, and loving what you do.
“You have to love it,” said Primary Talent’s Matt Pickering-Copley, “otherwise it can become unsustainable very quickly.
“A lot of people who don’t work in the [music] industry don’t understand why I’d fly to Sweden for one night to see a band, or go to all these events – Eurosonic, IFF, ILMC, etc. – but it’s so important to see people and be seen to be there. […] What’s the saying about working a job that you love? If you don’t actually really want to do this, that’s when it becomes unsustainable.”
“The people you work with end up being your friends,” added Karolina Hansen of Live Nation Sweden, “so if you get a stressed-out email, you know where it’s coming from. If you treat everyone like you want to be treated, when you find yourself in that situation – you’re the one sending the stressed-out email – you understand.”
“If you don’t actually really want to do this, that’s when it becomes unsustainable”
Supporting each other is really important, said Beedell-Tuck, who described being nominated for Tomorrow’s New Boss as “so important to me because so many of the nominees were my friends. It’s a small industry, so you end up seeing the same people all the time.”
Her advice: “Be mindful, and help each other. Some of my best friends are at other agencies, but we don’t see the need to be ultra-competitive. Be supportive; we ultimately all have the same interests.”
Running alongside Meet the New Bosses was the Ticket of the Future workshop, hosted by Ticketmaster’s Bonita McKinney and festival ticketing expert Lou Champion, as well as the first round of mentoring sessions, which provided a rare opportunity for delegates to meet face to face with some of the most successful figures in live music.
Mentors this year included Live Nation president of international touring Phil Bowdery, Paradigm agent Mike Malak, Dice UK managing director Amy Oldham, MAMA Festivals director Dave Newton, Mercury Wheels founder Barnaby Harrod and AEG Europe’s VP of venue programming, Emma Bownes.
Other highlights of the morning included two half-hour workshops – Getting Smart About Digital Marketing, led by Orchard Live’s Richard Samuel, and Assertiveness & Effectiveness at Work, hosted by leadership coach Prince Laryea – and the first four 15-minute Soapbox Sessions, with Eclipse Live’s Chin Okeke (‘Hello, Lagos!’), Blackstar Lodnon’s Olivia Hobbs (‘Being the boss sucks’), Dice’s Dave Brooks (‘Getting your dream gig’) and Extinction Rebellion’s Helena Farstad (‘The climate crisis and you’).
Following a five-star buffet lunch, the afternoon began in earnest with a triple-header of Mental Health: Next steps for live, the MMF-hosted workshop Actioning Change in Live Music and the aforementioned Life After Your Star Act panel, with agents Geoff Meall, Mark Bennett and Dan Silver and promoter Barnaby Harrod.
The mental health session was hosted by agents Matt Hanner and Sarah Joy of ATC Live, who opened by talking about their late colleague, Chris Meredith, who took his own life last year.
“The younger generation coming in now are wondering why people aren’t looking after themselves”
Adam Ficek, the Babyshambles drummer-turned-psychotherapist, spoke on the unique challenges posed by live: “There are no other industries like the music industry. It’s open-access, and open all hours, and you’re expected to put in as much time as you can.”
“The industry we work in is very interesting,” added Polish promoter Sara Maria Kordek, offering the artist’s perspective. “Suddenly you’ve got an artist [who achieves fame] and has lots of privileges, so they can get away with things you wouldn’t be able to do in a ‘normal’ job – you wouldn’t be able to have a drink before you check your emails in an office. But they’re expected to be at 100% all the time, to deliver, so they’re celebrating nearly every day.”
This is something that filters down to crew and other industry professionals, suggested Kordek, who described how she made a point of finding something to do (other than drinking) for her team on a recent 50-show tour. “We found cool things to do in each city, or went to a movie,” she explained. “You shouldn’t be partying every evening.”
Things are changing for the better, said Rich Mutimer from Paradigm, who spearheads the agency’s wellbeing initiatives. “The younger generation coming in now are wondering why people aren’t looking after themselves,” he said, “and that gives everyone a kick up the bum.”
The second round of Soapbox Sessions – ‘5 leadership lessons in 15 minutes’ with Key Production’s Karen Emmanuel, Tracie Storey’s ‘Finding balance with vibrational sound’ and ‘Show me the data!’ with Leon Neville – followed, running alongside ‘OK, Boomer’, a new session that paired up senior executives from leading concert businesses with their more junior counterparts to compare experiences and ways of working.
ICM Partners’ Kevin Jergenson opened the panel explaining he had interned with his now-colleague Scott Mantell for two summers, then started in the mail room before becoming Scott’s assistant and then an agent. Mantell said everyone needs a mentor, and for him, mentorship is about identifying young talent. And learning goes both ways – he said he’s learning a lot from Jergenson.
“Be kind. Do business with a smile”
Live Nation’s Phil Bowdery said encouragement is important. “You don’t want to stop people making mistakes, but one of the quickest ways to learn is to mess something up,” he explained. His colleague, Live Nation UK promoter Joe Schiavon, said for someone like him there’s a lot to learn from Bowdery, especially about working on arenas.
Jen Hammel joined CAA in 2013, having reached out to agent Maria May to say she wanted to work for her. May said the two are like a partnership, adding Hammel is fearless because she is so supported. “She inspires me to push further and do more,’ said May.
To conclude, the panel was asked what advice they would you give their younger selves. Jergenson said: “Remember you’ll get through it and you’ll still love it despite the personal sacrifices.” Mantell added: “Be kind. Do business with a smile.”
Bowdery agreed, adding he said it’s important to listen, learn and watch. Schiavon said the best way you can learn is by your mistakes – and be OK to make mistakes. May said she would advise her younger self to be brave and find people to work with that make you feel good about yourself. Hammel said her advice would be don’t be afraid to voice your opinion, especially if you’re the youngest in the room.
Futures Forum 2020 concluded with the Futures Forum Keynote: Team Mumford & Sons, which welcomed band member Ben Lovett, manager Adam Tudhope and agent Lucy Dickins to reflect on the band’s journey from banjo-plucking west London folkies to global superstars, with journalist and friend of the band, Paul Stokes, providing the questions. Read the full report here:
Futures Forum will return in March 2021.
Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.