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Continuing a series of interviews with the 2020 New Bosses, IQ speaks to Jolien Augustyns, a junior promoter at Live Nation Belgium
By IQ on 02 Nov 2020
The New Bosses 2020 – the latest edition of IQ’s annual celebration of the brightest young talent in the live business today, as voted for by their peers – was published in IQ 93 this month, revealing the 12 promising promoters, bookers, agents, and A&R and production experts 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 2020’s New Bosses, discovering their greatest inspirations and pinpointing the reasons for their success. Catch up on the previous New Bosses interview with Bertie Gibbon, A&R at ATC Live in the UK here.
A graduate of Karel de Grote University College in Antwerp, Augustyns specialises in promoting indoor shows at Live Nation Belgium. After beginning her music biz career interning at Sony Music Belgium, Augustyns “lost her heart” to the live music industry while working as a festival assistant for Rock Werchter in 2014.
After graduating the same year, she had to make a choice: chase her “teenage dream” of being an A&R manager at a record label, or “take a leap of faith and stumble into the live music industry.” As you’ve probably already guessed, she “did the latter, and haven’t once regretted it,” she explains.
What are you working on right now?
We’re already working on shows in 2021 and 2022, but unfortunately rescheduling and cancelling shows due to Covid-19 still takes up quite some time. Meanwhile, we’re also thinking about initiatives to get the industry back up and running during these unprecedented times.
What are some of the highlights of your career to date?
Even though I’m part of the indoor show department, I try to help out at our festivals during the summer each year as well. My absolute highlight is this year’s Rock Werchter Zomerbar (Summer Bar). Summer 2020 was essentially cancelled due to Covid-19, still, our festival team was able to put a month-long mini-festival at Werchter comprising 36 concerts with local acts, two comedy nights and even a live TV show. It was all for charity and we had a total of 15,000 visitors at the festival.
Even though I wasn’t part of the preparations, I was able to join the team during that crazy month. In a way, it was the best team building activity I’ve ever experienced, forming real connections with people I’ve known for years. It’s the highlight of the summer, of 2020 and probably my whole career to date.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt working in live music?
There are many lessons to be learned in this industry. Personally, I believe treating your industry contacts with respect is one of the main lessons to learn. Respect and kindness will get you a long way. It’s okay to stand your ground, to not be a pushover or a people-pleaser all the time, as long as you remain respectful about it and can provide good arguments.
“The Rock Werchter Zomerbar was the highlight of the summer, of 2020 and probably my whole career to date”
Did you always want to be a promoter?
Not at all to be honest. As a teen, I had set my mind on becoming an A&R manager at a record label. I landed an internship at Sony Music Belgium during my last year of college, and whilst I absolutely loved it there, I lost my heart to the live music industry instead whilst being a festival assistant at Rock Werchter that same year. A little while after graduating, I got the chance to work at both companies and had to make the difficult choice between chasing my teenage dreams or taking a leap of faith into the live music industry. I did the latter and haven’t once regretted it. I worked my way through the company and now I’m a junior promoter.
What’s it like working in the Belgian market?
We have such an interesting market, with a clear difference between the French-speaking part and the Flemish-speaking part of the country. I mainly operate in Flanders – we have some great venues and I’d like to think we’re quite the early adapters with some genres. It’s such a small country, and yet we’re able to put on massive shows. Also, what a luxury to be able to travel through the whole country in a matter of hours. No need to take flights or to have different offices at key locations. Everything’s within reach. The sky is the limit, basically.
What impact has Covid-19 has on your job?
Where to even start? I could give a ton of draining stories, but we’re all suffering in one way or another. We’ve had brainstorms about how we can organise events during this pandemic. We’ve been negotiating with the insurance companies. We’ve had some very difficult conversations. The list of new experiences is endless. Whilst a lot of it has been bad, stressful and demotivating, I’ve also learned a lot during these past few months. We have proven to be extremely resilient. I’ve been lucky so far, I’m still working and learning, but I know this hasn’t been the case for everyone and my heart goes out to anyone who lost their job, dream or career. I feel for them and I may sound naive, but I hope we can all rise from the dust together.
“Belgium is such a small country, and yet we’re able to put on massive shows. Everything’s within reach. The sky is the limit”
Do you have a mentor in the industry?
There is one person I’d like to mention in particular: Tom Van der Elst, festival manager at our festivals, and my mentor while I was interning there. He gave me a chance at a time when I hadn’t achieved anything yet, and introduced me to the team I now call my work family.
What does the live music industry do well, and what can we do better?
Obviously, this industry can put on some damn good shows but I think at some point the financial part evolved too quickly. Fees are getting higher and higher, which makes sense when the economy is thriving but I’d like to see more understanding of the financial state of certain local markets.
Not every market is financially strong. Not every market is suitable for high ticket prices. Not every genre works well at a certain venue. You can’t compare country A to country B and expect the same ticket prices, amount of tickets sold and fees. Let’s work on that and reboot the system whilst we’re at it. Make it more about passion and music, instead of the money and numbers. Also, power to the women (no explanation needed)!
What advice would you give to someone who’s new to the business?
Stay true to yourself. Don’t let anyone change who you are. Take a chance when an opportunity presents itself and always treat one another with respect and kindness. Also, whenever you feel like you’re drowning in this crazy industry, know that you’re not alone. I’ve been made fun of by people in this industry who didn’t take me seriously due to my gender and/or age. A lot of us have gone through this before and the only thing you can do is always be the best version of yourself and remain calm, friendly and helpful.
“I’d like to see more understanding of the financial state of certain local markets. Not every market is financially strong”
What are the biggest challenges you’re facing currently?
Growing as a promoter definitely is a big challenge for me right now. While wanting to go full steam ahead at the start of the year, the industry has obviously drastically changed these past few months. In no way could I have guessed I would be spending most my time cancelling and rescheduling shows, instead of starting to work on my own shows. Luckily, we’re already working on 2021 and 2022, and even though it’s going a lot slower than I hoped, I’m confident that whatever’s happening now will help me become a better promoter in the end.
Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?
Exactly where I’m at now minus the ‘junior’ part. Promoting acts from club level to arena level, sharing the artist’s journey along the way. Developing my instinct and knowledge of the industry. Learning more about the production side of it as well, maybe even experience the touring life once. I’ve got some amazing role models in the office to look up to and I hope to get to their level one day.
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