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The New Bosses 2021: Will Marshall, Primary/ICM

Continuing a series of interviews with the 2021 New Bosses, IQ speaks to Will Marshall, agent at Primary Talent/ICM Partners in the UK

By IQ on 10 Sep 2021

Will Marshall, Primary Talent/ICM Partners

Will Marshall, Primary Talent/ICM Partners

The New Bosses 2021 – 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 103 this month, revealing the 12 promising promoters, bookers, agents, entrepreneurs that make up this year’s list.

To get to know this year’s cohort a little better, IQ conducted interviews with each one of 2021’s New Bosses, discovering their greatest inspirations and pinpointing the reasons for their success.

Catch up on the previous 2021 New Bosses interview with Talissa Buhl, festival booker at FKP Scorpio in Germany here.

Born and raised in London, Will Marshall started out running monthly showcase events in the city’s East End, combined with spells working for Live Nation’s festival production team, while studying.

Earning a degree in architecture, in 2014 he dropped the books to join Metropolis Music before heading to Primary Talent in 2016 as an agent, working with Matt Bates. Marshall’s roster is as eclectic and wide-ranging as the London music scene he grew up admiring: alt-pop, electronic, rap, rock, folk and indie acts all garner attention.

A degree in architecture isn’t the traditional route into music – are there any parallels at all with being an agent?
Both have set me up for a life of late nights and impending deadlines, but in all seriousness, there is a problem-solving nature that connects the two, usually within a collaborative framework, and almost always with a slightly competitive drive.

You ran regular showcases when you were a student. How did you find the talent and has that experience helped you understand the job of promoters better?
In terms of the latter, definitely. When it comes to decision making and giving clear advice, the understanding and knowledge of those companies, their different departments and how they operate is key.

Regarding sourcing talent, it sounds simple but I would just put on events and book acts whose music I liked. The way in which music is consumed now means that everyone is their own curator; the tastes you are catering for have exploded exponentially. That is exciting, especially as we push for a more inclusive music scene.

“The advent of widespread livestreaming highlighted just how pivotal crowds are in creating the moments that we do this for”

Do you have a mentor or anyone you turn to for advice?
Probably too many to single out but I feel very lucky because my job requires me to connect with people in all different parts of the industry from all around the world, so they keep my view well rounded. My family and friends keep me grounded and remind me what is really important.

What are you most looking forward to as pandemic restrictions are lifted?
Crowds, and the energy, together with the artist, that they can create. Whilst the advent of widespread livestreaming presented artists and their teams and crew with much needed earning opportunities, it also highlighted just how pivotal crowds are in creating the special moments that we all do this for.

The pandemic has been hard on us all – are there any positive aspects that you are taking out of it?
We’ve seen a lot of people struggling in the slow down and the uncertainty. The pause has given us a moment to make decisions more consciously and in disrupting the pace there has been more time for conversations around sustainability, and gender and race equality. I hope these conversations continue and that they can further shape behaviour and action.


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