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There is still a long way to go

One Fiinix Live agent Jess Kinn details some of the foundations that she and others are laying to help queer acts and their fans to thrive...

11 Aug 2023

I don’t take for granted the responsibility I have when my queer artists trust me to represent them. It’s not just about booking shows, it’s about making sure they feel safe and supported throughout their careers. The artists I work with in the queer space and beyond are outspoken and deeply connected to culture and their communities. I match their passion and do everything I can to make sure they’re treated correctly and won’t hesitate to call out injustices.

I’ve always been led by the music when it comes to building my roster, but there is an affinity I’ve found with queer artists and the community, which I myself am apart of and feel deeply connected to.

Trust and openness are a huge factor when building an artist’s live career, and I always aim to create a caring, considerate, judgement-free environment.

I’ve been fortunate when booking the headline acts for festivals that I’ve been in a position of power to help curate the line-up in some instances. I’ll work closely with Years & Years’ team, who are very passionate in this area, to ensure as diverse a line-up as possible.

It’s a joy to be able to put the emerging queer talent on these shows or get them on the promoters’ radar for when the time is right. I’m seeing more goodwill out there from promoters and conversations in the last few years that were never happening before, from 50/50 gender splits to queer inclusivity to racial diversity… but there is still a long way to go.
It’s a balancing act between prioritising diversity/inclusivity at these shows whilst still ensuring there is enough ticket buying power. Unfortunately, the openness to queer marketability and mainstream potential is a more recent development, and there is not as much queer talent at the top as there deserves to be. I could count on my hand the queer festival headliners we have right now in this country.

“To see the rise in opportunities for queer artists and be a part of it is phenomenal”

There’s a level of sensitivity and understanding that is necessary to navigate spaces to ensure queer artists’ and their audiences’ comfortability and safety. I always request gender-neutral toilets, [British sign language] interpreters, and work closely with artist management on how we can create safe spaces. For example, Years & Years with Nando’s offered any fans attending their headline shows alone to meet up with fellow concertgoers at the restaurants before the show. We’ve tried to implement this going forward with other artists and their fans to create a network where fans can chat before the show and try and buddy-up beforehand.

Recently, I booked an act on a show, and they brought to my attention that one of the speakers on the line-up had been spreading transphobic hate speech, and they no longer felt comfortable. We made the decision to pull them from the show. Making sure my artists feel supported is the main priority.

Supporting other artists within the community is important; for example, Years & Years had an all-queer line-up for their arena tour last year, and Alice Longyu Gao (co-agent with Emma at One Fiinix Live) announced an all-queer line-up for their May debut headline tour. I also think it’s essential to work with a diverse pool of people on the touring crew. It’s a privilege to work with the Trans Creative Collective who are committed to providing trans, non-binary, and female crew.

Seeing my queer artists doing incredible things is hugely satisfying for me, from Years & Years headlining Mighty Hoopla and Standon Calling; The Aces selling out their EP release show in under ten minutes; July Jones winning the Music Moves Europe Award this year; and Queer House Party taking over a ton of stages across festivals and events (Flipper’s Roller Boogie Palace, Latitude Festival & Sziget Festival) in the UK and Europe.

To see the rise in opportunities for queer artists and be a part of it is phenomenal. Long may it continue and we’ll see even more queer headliners in the next five years. PADAM!

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