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LGBTIQ+ List 2023: João Pedro Viana, WME

Continuing a series of interviews with this year's queer pioneers, IQ speaks to the UK-based music agent

By Lisa Henderson on 10 Aug 2023

João Pedro Viana, WME

João Pedro Viana, WME

The LGBTIQ+ List 2023 – IQ Magazine’s third annual celebration of queer professionals who make an immense impact in the international live music business – has been revealed.

The ever-popular list is the centrepiece of IQ’s third Pride edition, sponsored by Ticketmaster, which is now available to read online and in print for subscribers.

To get to know this year’s queer pioneers a little better, we interviewed each of them on the development of the industry, the challenges that are keeping them up at night and more.

Throughout the next month, IQ will publish a new interview each day. Check out yesterday’s profile with Areti Tziorta, marketing manager at TEG Europe in Birmingham and Bristol, UK.

The series continues with João Pedro Viana (he/him/his), music agent at WME in London, UK.

João Pedro Viana is a music agent at WME, where he has consistently prioritised the career growth of multiple queer artists. Viana now represents the acclaimed Jake Shears internationally, an artist who has had a remarkable impact in bringing queer culture to the mainstream. Viana also represents one of Brazil’s most streamed artists and queer icons, Gloria Groove, whose debut album Lady Leste reached the #1 spot of the Spotify’s World Top Album chart on release week. In less than a year, Groove established herself as one of Brazil’s most streamed artists with a triple diamond album and she’s now on a path to become a global success.

Tell us about the professional feat you’re most PROUD of in 2023 so far.
I’m very proud of the work I have been developing with Gloria Groove. We just had her over for her first proper UK visit, which started on the mainstage at Mighty Hoopla and finished with an insane sold-out show at Heaven with everyone singing every single word. There’s huge interest coming from everywhere; we can see she will be a big star.

Name one queer act you’re itching to see live this year.
Romy. I love her new tracks.

What advice could you give to young queer professionals?
For years, I believed that I would never have a seat at the table because I didn’t know how to hold a conversation about football. I’m extrovert and incredibly social, but my god… building relationships with the industry boys was difficult. I would find myself right in the middle of it, holding a pint and smiling with absolutely NOTHING to say. That isolating feeling had a deep impact on my confidence. There was nothing wrong with me or them, and the conversational topic ‘football’ is just a small example.

It felt indeed like a male/hetero-dominated environment, and the lack of diversity (and representation) was validating both perspectives, that they were the main story and that I was marginal. Today, the climate is slightly different; I believe there’s space for many main stories… At least, I’m finding space for myself, and it’s quite liberating. My advice to you is that you surround yourself with the people that enable you. Your talent is the combination of your imagination, patience, and resilience… but confidence is a different game. You need support and mentorship, and the biggest mistake is thinking that you will win alone.

“In my 15 years working in music, I have encountered ONE SINGLE trans person”

In terms of challenges in the industry, what’s currently keeping you up at night?
In my 15 years working in music, I have encountered ONE SINGLE trans person. It’s alarming. I suspect it’s correlated with the total lack of representation, and as a result, trans people don’t aspire to become music professionals. This is deeply problematic, and I feel people don’t care. What people said about gay people in the ‘80s during the AIDS epidemic, they’re saying now about trans people. It’s shocking! I strongly believe that an industry that profits from trans artists should be more vocal about protecting trans lives.

How do you see the live music business developing in the next few years?
The appetite for stadium shows is higher than ever. Demand and offer are rising, with ticket prices rocketing. And at the same time, we see a lot of festivals with stellar line-ups struggling to sell. People are looking for these experiences because they want to have the time of their lives, and I feel big stadium acts have been consistently offering that. It feels that festivals will probably need imagination if they want to compete. I think, in the next ten years, we will see a major creative shift on the experiential side of things.

Name one thing the industry could do to be a more equitable place.
72% of Billboard’s Power List 2023 are men – Fact! Representation matters – Fact! Do I need to connect the dots here?

Shout out your biggest ally in the live music industry.
Rob Markus, Lucy Dickins, David Levy, and Levi Jackson. These are the people that enable and encourage me every day. Couldn’t be more grateful to them.

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