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Futures Forum and MMF host artist development workshop

Emerging live executives and managers came together for a hosted debate and networking drinks in London this week

By Lisa Henderson on 31 May 2024

ILMC’s Futures Forum (FF) and the Music Managers Forum (MMF) joined forces this week for an event that saw emerging live music executives and artist managers discuss the future of artist development.

The workshop and networking drinks took place on Tuesday night (28 May) at The Garage in London, hosted by FF’s Lisa Henderson and MMF’s Svi Dethekar, with support from AEG Europe, AXS, The O2 and ILMC.

Attendees from companies including Runway Artists, ATC Live, X-Ray Touring, Royal Albert Hall, Live Nation, Red Light Management, Wildlife Mgmt, East City Management, AEG Presents and CAA attended the free admission event.

The 75-minute hosted debate saw the executives discuss barriers to developing and growing a fanbase in live music, strategies and innovative approaches to ensure a successful tour, and solutions to ensure the next-generation headliners rise to the top.

Discussing key considerations for developing an emerging act’s live career, one exec said: “Artists need to put in their 10,000 hours to be at a professional level. Patience is important – from both artists and managers – especially when you’re looking to build.”

Another exec added: “We need to help emerging artists understand that initially, they need to take ownership of their live career. It’s important that they have mentors and guidance on how the live music business works and how you can get paid – whether that’s via ticket sales or PRS. They also need an understanding of how the industry is changing.”

According to attendees, the biggest barriers to artist development include a lack of government funding, high audience expectations, venue availability, converting online fans to ticket buyers and the cost of touring.

“There was an awful lot of knowledge and passion in the room, especially around areas like grassroots and mid-level touring”

The latter was a major talking point for attendees when sharing their strategies and innovative approaches for a successful tour.

“You’ve got to be creative,” one attendee said. “Think about brands subsidising the costs of a tour, or using influencer marketing to reach new audiences.”

Other execs warned that artists should choose wisely when to go on tour and ensure that every show counts.

“Think about collaborations and providing something special for a fanbase,” said one attendee.  “Think about your marketing campaigns, creating interesting assets, and think about data capture to help plan future events.”

Exploring solutions to the aforementioned issues, attendees said they would like to see a UK ticket levy introduced to support grassroots touring. Execs also called for more transparency about where fees go and revenues flow.

“As Futures Forum continues to build out a year-round programme for its community of young live music professionals, the evening truly showed how creative the various sectors of the live business can be when they get together to collaborate,” says Greg Parmley, head of ILMC.

“We would especially like to thank Futures Forum’s annual partners AEG Europe, The O2 and AXS, for making unique moments like this possible.”

Manasvi Dethekar, membership secretary, MMF, added: “Working with Futures Forum was a really exciting collaboration for the MMF. Importantly, it was also an opportunity to capture views from a wide diversity of upcoming managers, booking agents, venues and others who are dedicated to building the live careers of artists. There was an awful lot of knowledge and passion in the room, especially around areas like grassroots and mid-level touring. We’re incredibly grateful to everyone who participated, and we’ll be using all the feedback we gained to inform some of the MMF’s upcoming projects.”

Futures Forum is a year-round platform for the next generation of live music industry leaders to forge relationships and exchange ideas.

The organisation hosts a one-day conference discussion and networking event in London each spring, on the final day of its renowned parent event, the International Live Music Conference (ILMC).


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