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Q&A: AEG’s Gary Gersh on talent development

AEG's president of global talent discusses talent development, the rise of non-English-speaking artists and the role of streaming

By Lisa Henderson on 03 Feb 2023

Gary Gersh, president, AEG Presents Global Touring and Talent

AEG president of global talent Gary Gersh

Ever-changing best practice and technological innovation are impacting the live music industry like never before, while important issues such as diversity, equality, and sustainability are being embraced by every sector of the business. In the most recent issue of IQ, we talk to some of the architects who are helping to shape the industry of the future, to quiz them on their blueprints and predictions for how we may all be operating in a few years’ time. This excerpt from the feature sees AEG president of global talent Gary Gersh discuss the importance of talent development, the rise of non-English-speaking artists and the role of streaming.


IQ: What does the live music business look like in 2030? How do you see things changing?
GG: I think the live music scene will be more globally based – we’ll be doing tours all over the world and in countries that we may not have gone in as regularly before. I believe more artists will be coming from countries that we didn’t imagine. And I think streaming will continue to just level this playing field. It’s super exciting.

While the top end of the business is enjoying record numbers, the middle and lower end of touring acts are struggling. What more can be done to support and develop new talent?
We’re in the development business, and we have to continue to take artists from the beginning all the way through the middle and to headliners. If we do it the other way, top-down, you end up not developing talent, and you end up not having the future we all want to have.

Bottom-up is the way we look at it because most artists that are going to be around a long time will not start in the middle or at the top. Even though they may have hits, the lasting power comes from building your audience, market by market, globally. We, as an industry, have to spend more time, money, and resources to be able to develop talent from its earliest days. Or else I think we end up having no middle, which will mean fewer artists getting to be superstars.

“We, as an industry, have to spend more time, money, and resources to be able to develop talent from its earliest days”

As president of AEG’s global touring, where do you see opportunities for growth in the next three years?
Geography and musicality are going to go hand in hand, and we’re going to see music come from all different places in the world. We’re moving toward a situation where alternative music will come from places where English isn’t the most important thing. We’ve just finished sold-out tours with Rammstein, Blackpink, and Karol G, and there’s not a word of English in
any of it. So, I think that’s where we’re going to see opportunities coming from.

What’s the greatest threat to the business currently, and how do we solve it?
I’ve been doing this since I was a young teenager, and I’ve never looked at things as threats to our business. If you look at all that’s going on right now, you can see that there’s a levelling of the playing field around the world through streaming. For example, Karol G puts on a show for Coachella and doesn’t use it anywhere else, but her growth around the world from the stream is gigantic. At the same time, Anitta is playing and Grupo Firme is playing and they’re widening their audiences because the opportunity is just so powerful. The threats that we may perceive are actually opportunities. There is some great new music around, so I think the biggest threat is that people become complacent.


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