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Leading live execs share their hopes for 2022

WME's Lucy Dickins, CAA's Emma Banks, Phil Bowdery of Live Nation and UTA's Neil Warnock speak to IQ about the challenges ahead

By James Hanley on 06 Jan 2022

(Clockwise from top left): Lucy Dickins, Emma Banks, Neil Warnock, Phil Bowdery


Industry leaders have spoken to IQ about their biggest hopes and fears for the live business in 2022.

With the Omicron variant looking sure to disrupt the touring calendar for at least the first few months of the new year, the next 12 months are clouded with uncertainty. But speaking as part of a special feature in the new issue of the magazine, a raft of the sector’s leading lights have shared their optimism that better times are ahead.

“The pandemic fatigue will lead to full recovery of the live industry, but it will come with its ups and downs,” predicts Lucy Dickins, co-head of music at WME. “It’s certainly going to be a crowded marketplace. There is a huge backlog of touring due to the amount of new artists we have been breaking through and also the artists that have released multiple projects in the world where being on the road was halted.”

Dickins’ clients include Adele, who returned with her fourth studio LP 30 last year and will headline two sold-out nights at AEG’s BST Hyde Park festival in the summer.

“I also think we’ll see more traditional songs and artist albums return,” adds Dickins. “We are already beginning to see this with a few big artists, as during the pandemic there were far less collaborations.”

The agent, who also represents the likes of Mumford & Sons and Mabel, expects technology to play an even bigger part in artist campaigns moving forward.

“TikTok is definitely having a moment with more artists using the platform, but I think we’ll see a rise in other mediums over time,” she says. “The metaverse has already made its mark on the music industry. I think we will see more in 2022. Roblox and Fortnite have millions of daily active users who have been living the avatar life for some time. I’m slowly getting my head around it all!”

“We will get through this, but it will be tricky for a while longer”

Following a “rocky” conclusion to 2021, CAA Emma Banks anticipates an even “rockier” opening to 2022.

“Clearly, the continuing lockdowns in various European markets are bad for business, and even when venues are allowed to remain open, we are seeing a high level of absence at shows, where people are no longer feeling confident to go out. So business is going to be tough because we are going to lose more shows, and that is bad for everyone,” she says.

“I assume that as the population gets vaccinated with a third shot, we will then see case numbers reduce and can get back to the place we have been in the last few months, with shows happening and everyone out and about again. We will get through this, but it will be tricky for a while longer, and the 2022 bounce back looks like it is going to take longer than we hoped.”

LIVE group chair Phil Bowdery, Live Nation’s executive president of touring, international, strikes an optimistic note.

“I think we’ve all learnt that the industry stands ready to deal with any bumps in the road, and the calendar looks great well into 2022 and 2023,” he concludes. “Whatever comes our way, I think 2022 is going to be a bumper year, and I can’t wait.”

Co-Head of UTA’s UK office Neil Warnock naturally has reservations regarding Q1, but is confident the business will burst into life come spring.

“The first three months of 2022 may be chaotic,” he advises. “The new variant has sent yet another curve ball through the whole of our live industry. We had hoped that the end of 2021 would see the start of a new normality in 2022. However, I’m hopeful that by April we’ll be back to business, and the business will be huge. We will have bursting box offices, and I look forward to a massive festival season from late May onwards.”

The full interviews will be published in the new issue of IQ, which is out later this month.

 


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