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Art & Industry founder Mick Griffiths passes

Mick Griffiths, veteran agent and founder of live music booking agency Art & Industry, has passed away.

Griffiths formed the London-based agency in 2010 after working as an agent at Asgard for 30 years.

During his career, Griffiths worked with artists including Mogwai, Ocean Colour Scene, The Go! Team and Julian Cope.

Following his passing, a raft of executives and artists from the live music industry have paid tribute on social media.

Anton Lockwood, director of live at DHP Family, wrote on Facebook: “Terrible news that Mick Griffiths has died. A proper independent agent who saw things his own way, and always took the creative path.

“A proper independent agent who saw things his own way, and always took the creative path”

“I had the pleasure of working with him on many shows, taking (one of my favourite artists) The House Of Love to the Roundhouse [in London], some incredible nights with The Go! Team Tindersticks and so many more.

“And l loved that Mick was more than an agent – under the name Schneider he created great minimalist, geometric artworks – one of my favourite times was only 4 years ago when we agreed for him paint on the rear wall of The Garage in his beloved Islington. Very sad to lose one of our proper original, maverick characters, will miss him.”

Ocean Colour Scene paid tribute to Griffiths on Twitter this morning: “We are very sad to hear the news that our friend and tour agent Mick Griffiths has passed away.

“Mick has helped plan the tours for over 25 years since the days of our album Moseley Shoals. Our thoughts are with his friends and family.”

The Go! Team tweeted: “Gutted to hear our live booking agent Mick Griffiths has passed away. Mick was with us from the very beginning and such a genuine lover of music. RIP Mick.”

Memphis Industries, the British independent record label that is home to The Go! Team, added: “Devastated to hear that our friend Mick Griffiths, agent to The Go! Team amongst many others, has passed away. A genuine inspiration to us for his independent spirit and passion for music and so much more besides. He’s going to be sadly missed.”

“A genuine inspiration to us for his independent spirit and passion for music”

Sebastien Vuignier, who worked with Griffiths on a number of concerts, wrote: “Very sad to hear that Mick Griffiths passed away. Mick was a wonderful person and passionate booking agent.

“I worked with him since 1999. We did wonderful shows together such as Tindersticks, Mogwai, Yann Tiersen, Efterklang and many more. My thoughts are with his family and friends, and of course his colleague Dave Jennings.”

Ade Dovey, live music promoter at Luminescent Live and former event programming and content manager for ASM Global, tweeted: “Absolutely gutted to hear that Mick Griffiths has left us. Owe this man a lot of gratitude for all the amazing shows we’ve worked and supporting me with putting gigs on over the years. Especially with Mogwai, Julian Cope, The Go Team and Ocean Colour Scene.”

Rob Whitaker, manager of acts including Editors, Slowdive and Public Service Broadcasting at Zoot Management, said: “Back in the mists of time, before the management adventure, when myself and Jacko were young promoters, he was the very kindest and most encouraging of all the agents. We continue to have many mutual friends and he’s always just felt like one of the good guys. The world is a worse place without him in it!”

“He’s always just felt like one of the good guys. The world is a worse place without him in it!”

Promoter Dave Travis wrote on Facebook: “I’ve been booking bands off him for around 40 years, I always enjoyed the bartering over sometimes small amounts on bands fees.

“Mick was also the artist Schneider, he produced incredible works of art that I was fortunate enough to display at Havill and Travis gallery.

“I took the photo below at Mick’s pop up exhibition in London 3 years ago, when I helped him hang the exhibition, it took the 2 of us 9 hours as I knew Mick would insist that it was millimetre perfect, it was a happy day.

“I ended up being Barman at the preview. I treasure the print he gave me as a gift for helping him, even though it was quite large and I took it to a Henge gig at The Lexington then walked to Euston with it after. I’ll miss our lovely chats about music, art and football.”

 


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Arcadia Live absorbs Ink Music’s live division

Two key players in Austria’s live music business, Arcadia Live and Ink Music, have announced a new partnership.

In August this year, Ink Music announced that it was saying goodbye to its live division after 20 years but would continue to grow its label, management and publishing services.

This week, the pair has announced that FKP Scorpio-backed Arcadia Live will be taking responsibility for the future live and touring business of a large number of the artists that were previously represented by Ink.

Arcadia is also welcoming former Ink staffer Corinna Maier to the team at the beginning of 2022.

Maier, who worked at Ink between 2011 and 2016, will sit alongside Jonathan Zott (head of booking, Arcadia Live) for the live agendas of Inks’ domestic acts. This includes My Ugly Clementine, Mira Lu Kovacs, Garish, Kerosin95, Farewell Dear Ghost and others.

On an international level, American alternative rock band Nada Surf will also join Arcadia’s live roster.

“We are taking this step with the positive expectation of breaking boundaries with united forces”

Arcadia says the cooperation opens up a network of event organisers, festivals and agencies for the artists through its shareholder and parent company FKP Scorpio, which now has operations in 11 countries in Europe.

“Our journey as Arcadia Live – from the indie company to the Europe-wide part of the FKP Scorpio group of companies – was and is essentially determined by the love of music,” says Filip Potocki, founder and managing director, Arcadia Live.

“And the tireless effort to offer both the artists and the audience unforgettable and lasting live moments. Hannes [Tschürtz, founder and MD, Ink Music] and Ink Music have a similar philosophy. Since our first steps in the music industry that we took at the same time.

“Since those beginnings, our paths have crossed again and again. Professionally and privately. Other commonalities that define our work: mutual appreciation, loyalty and professionalism are the top priorities. That’s why I’m looking forward to a successful future together on the international stage.”

Tschürtz added: “We have known each other for many years and are taking this step with the positive expectation of breaking boundaries with united forces.”

Vienna-based Arcadia Live is a German-Austrian joint venture between FKP Group, Four Artists Booking Agency, Chimperator Live and KKT.

The agency supervises numerous national and international acts such as alt-J, Frank Turner, George Ezra, James Bay, James Blunt, Marteria, Mac Demarco, Nothing But Thieves, Revolverheld, Two Door Cinema Club, The 1975, The Wombats and more.

 


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Wasserman hires veteran agent Shannon Casey

Wasserman Music has appointed Shannon Casey as SVP of fairs and festivals, to expand the agency’s reach in the business area.

Casey will start at Wasserman on 1 October, based in the agency’s Nashville office.

The veteran agent joins Wasserman after more than two decades at CAA in Nashville, representing some of the most notable live performance talent in the music business.

“I look forward to working with some of the most passionate and respected agents in the business,” says Casey.

“I can’t wait to reconnect with all the fair and festival buyers, with whom it has been my pleasure to work over the years”

“I can’t wait to reconnect with all the fair and festival talent buyers, with whom it has been my pleasure to work over the years, and I’m excited about creating new touring opportunities for a dynamic roster of talented artists.”

Wasserman SVP, Lenore Kinder, added: “The addition of Shannon to Wasserman Music brings irreplaceable experience and expertise in a rapidly evolving economy in fairs and festivals.

“She has cultivated decades of meaningful relationships with her buyers, and I have no doubt they’re just as eager to get back to business with her as we are!”

Today’s news follows the appointment of veteran agent Brent Smith as executive vice-president and managing executive, in July, and five new agents, earlier this month.

The appointments follow Wasserman group’s acquisition of Paradigm’s North American live music business.

 


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The New Bosses 2021: Tessie Lammle, UTA

The New Bosses 2021 – the latest edition of IQ’s annual celebration of the brightest young talent in the live business today, as voted for by their peers – was published in IQ 103 this month, revealing the 12 promising promoters, bookers, agents, entrepreneurs that make up this year’s list.

To get to know this year’s cohort a little better, IQ conducted interviews with each one of 2021’s New Bosses, discovering their greatest inspirations and pinpointing the reasons for their success.

Catch up on the previous 2021 New Bosses interview with Dan Roberts, promoter at Live Nation in the UK here.

After graduating from Bentley University, Tessie Lammle began her career in the mailroom at UTA, rising through the ranks to become an agent who represents artists including The Aces, Tierra Whack, TLC, Pussycat Dolls, Lil Wayne, SAINt JHN and many more.

When traditional touring paused due to Covid-19, Lammle re-thought how artists could reach their fans and collaborated with UTA’s Music Innovation division to book various virtual performances and showcases.

A passionate advocate for other women in the music industry, Lammle is a founding member of UTA’s La Femme Majeure event series and is on the leadership board of the company’s Justice Now task force. Outside of UTA, she is a member of the MusiCares Next Generation Board, and she volunteers with Habitat for Humanity.


Can you tell us how you got involved with La Femme Majeure (LFM) and what its goals are?
A group of colleagues and I founded LFM in 2018. We wanted to create a space for young women in the industry where we could be ourselves and network comfortably. Our main goal is to focus on music’s next era of women leaders.

You interned at Universal Music and ICM – what advice would you give to others when it comes to landing meaningful internships?
There’s a common misconception that you must know someone to break into the industry. The best thing I did to get my foot in the door was to network. It also helps to remember that everyone was in the same situation in the beginning, so you might as well say hello, send an email, and reach out to your potential mentors on LinkedIn. Always lead with kindness.

The pandemic ‘pause’ narrowed the avenues for artists to connect with fans. Can you explain what you did to maximize opportunities for some of your acts?
Throughout the pandemic, UTA has driven success for our clients with our collaborative, 360-degree approach. As a full-service agency, our divisions are constantly communicating with each other.

“I thought that I had to see a live show to truly understand an artist and their potential, but this year has forced me to adapt”

When traditional touring was paused, we worked across all our departments and with new buyers to offer innovative opportunities to our artists. As a result, the agency was able to secure brand partnerships, drive-through concerts, livestreamed performances, publishing deals, film and TV roles, gaming collaborations, podcast hosting gigs, and more for our clients.

If you had a magic wand, what one thing would you change or introduce to improve the live music industry?
More diversity, equity, and inclusion across the board. There has been some great forward momentum and that’s what makes our industry exciting and forever evolving.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
I’m not sure where I’ll be living in five years, or which new artists I’ll be representing, but I do hope to be working with an even bigger roster at UTA. I know I’ll still have a hunger to be constantly finding out-of-the-box opportunities for my clients that leverage all the company’s resources. I also hope in five years I will be able to keep a plant alive for more than three days and will be working my way towards having a family!

You signed a number of artists during lockdown. Were those difficult pitches, and can you say anything about how you tailor your career plan strategies depending on the artist and genre?
I always thought that I had to see a live show to truly understand an artist and their potential, but this past year has forced me to adapt. No two artists ever have the same goals, even within the same genre. I am a firm believer that you must cater to the artist first and hear their visions before you set a strategy.

 


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CAA to acquire ICM Partners in historic deal

Creative Artists Agency (CAA) and ICM Partners are joining forces in a landmark agency merger that will “drive broader and more inclusive representation” for their clients.

The deal, if approved, will bring together two of the leading global agencies in entertainment and sports. The agency landscape would then consist of what US outlets are calling ‘the big three’ – CAA, WME, UTA – alongside Wasserman, which is also a major player in the US. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The agreement, announced today (27 September), is said to be the largest talent agency transaction since WME acquired IMG in 2014 and since Endeavor joined forces with William Morris Agency in 2009, which forged the contemporary WME.

“Today’s storytellers, athletes, thought-leaders, and trend-setters who can move, inspire, and attract large, global audiences have an unprecedented opportunity and ability to achieve their goals and aspirations,” says CAA’s Bryan Lourd, Kevin Huvane, and Richard Lovett.

“The strategic combination bolsters our collective resources, expertise, and relationships to deliver more opportunities”

“The strategic combination of CAA and ICM bolsters our collective resources, expertise, and relationships to deliver even more opportunities for our world-class clients to build their careers and their brands across multiple disciplines and platforms in an evolving marketplace.

“Our strong financial position enables us to continue to expand and diversify our businesses, with service and representation remaining central to what we do and who we are. We’re fortunate to have a partner in ICM who shares our commitment to the widest and most inclusive vision possible for what our clients and company can accomplish together.”

ICM’s Chris Silbermann, who will join CAA’s shareholder board, added: “We’re thrilled to partner and combine forces with the talented CAA team. Together, we will build upon our accomplishments and entrepreneurial spirit, and continue to demonstrate an unwavering commitment to the best interests of our clients, as well as empowering new, diverse voices within the industry.”

ICM brings to CAA a global roster of artists in film, television, music, comedy, theatre, games, politics, and podcasting.

“[CAA’s] strong financial position enables us to continue to expand and diversify our businesses”

ICM’s music clients include Chaka Khan, Buddy Guy, Chris Rock, Corinne Bailey Rae, D’Angelo, Dan Auerbach, Good Charlotte, J. Cole, Jerry Seinfeld, Jill Scott, Kamasi Washington, Khalid, Lisa Loeb, Los Lonely Boys, Mavis Staples, Migos, Puddles Pity Party, Roger Daltrey, Rosanne Cash, Scott Stapp, Sheila E, The Black Keys, Tower of Power, Trey Songz and more.

Last year, ICM joined forces with Primary Talent International, one of London’s last major independent booking agencies.

Primary Talent is home to more than 900 music clients, including the likes of Stormzy, the 1975, alt-J, Noel Gallagher, Patti Smith, the Cure, Pussycat Dolls, Two Door Cinema Club, Dave, Lana Del Rey and Catfish and the Bottlemen.

CAA is a leading entertainment, media, and sports enterprise, with expertise in motion pictures, television, music, sports, theater, digital media, publishing, endorsements, media finance, consumer investing, fashion, podcasting, speaking, games, and philanthropy.

CAA was the first entertainment talent agency to build a sports business, create an investment bank, launch a venture fund, found technology start-up companies, and establish a business in China (CAA China), among other industry innovations.

“Together, we will build upon our accomplishments and entrepreneurial spirit”

A subsidiary of CAA, Entertainment Benefits Group (EBG) is a leader in corporate entertainment and travel, with more than 40,000 clients and 60 million users.

Founded in 1975, CAA is headquartered in Los Angeles, and has a significant presence in New York, Nashville, London, Beijing, and Shanghai, as well as offices in Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Geneva, Jacksonville, Las Vegas, Memphis, Miami, Munich, Orlando, Stockholm, and Toronto, among other locations globally.

Originally founded in 1975 as International Creative Management, then rebranded as ICM Partners in 2012, ICM has the expertise and influence of a legacy agency, and an entrepreneurial innovative spirit dedicated to serving its clients across the globe with passion and distinction.

ICM has offices in Los Angeles, New York, Washington DC, and London, and strategic partnerships in Europe, Asia, and beyond.

 


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Steve Strange: A strange half-century

This article was originally published in May 2018, and has been republished following the sad news of Steve Strange’s passing. 

 


A party on 13 April 2018 to celebrate Steve Strange’s 50th birthday marked the reopening of London’s Subterania, which long-time friend Vince Power has resurrected after a 15-year hiatus. Picking a grassroots club as the destination for his landmark birthday party sums up a man who has dedicated more than half his life to the live music business – and who can be found more often than not in small venues scouting for new talent, or introducing promoters to another of the up-and-coming acts on his roster.

For the purposes of this cloak-and-dagger operation, we relied on some of the historic articles that we’ve written in the past about Strange. However, we were able to corner him for an interview for a non-existent profile piece, where he gave us a fascinating insight into how he sees the business developing in the future.

But more on that later. First, here’s a potted history of the birthday boy’s life and career to date…

Strange beginnings
Born in Lisburn near Belfast on 17 April 1968, Strange was raised in Carrickfergus in nearby County Antrim during the Troubles in Northern Ireland. At the age of 11, after his cousin took him to see UFO at Ulster Hall in Belfast, Strange’s love of hard rock was born, which saw him devote his youth to the likes of Rush, AC/DC, Kiss, and Def Leppard.

The allure of music also encouraged Strange to become a musician himself and having been introduced to drumming in the Boys’ Brigade youth group, he was able to hone his skills when his father bought him a drum kit at the age of 12, leading to jam sessions with friends at school.

“I was intrigued by it – how tours were routed, why some bands played clubs not halls, etc. It was very exciting.”

His first band, Slack Alice, didn’t reach the heights its members had hoped for, so Strange found himself sitting behind the drums for a couple of cover bands before becoming part of the line-up for popular Belfast outfit No Hot Ashes in 1986. A record deal with GWR, thanks in no small part to Strange’s powers of persuasion, saw the band move to London a year later to record a debut album that, unfortunately, failed to hit the shops after the label’s distribution arm, Pie Records, went bust.

In need of income, Strange accepted an offer from Jon Vyner to join the Bron Agency and book some gigs. “I used to do [that] anyway – it was always left to the drummer to chase support tours and gigs,” Strange told IQ in 2009. Tapping up GWR’s Doug Smith to secure his acts occasional support slots with the likes of Motörhead and Girlschool, Strange worked tirelessly, making himself known around London’s gig circuit, making friends with bands and offering to book shows. “I did a lot of analysing about how the business worked, and it was a steep learning curve. I was intrigued by it – how tours were routed, why some bands played clubs not halls, etc. It was very exciting.”

A strange business
Strange’s initial steps into the business side of live music involved him hopping from agency to agency. From Bron he joined Adam Parsons’ Big Rock Inc., and from there he switched to Prestige Artists, working with Clive Underhill- Smith and Rob Hallett. Disenchanted with the acts he was asked to book, Strange made the decision to move back to Northern Ireland, where, in 1992, he found a job at The Limelight and spent a year on the other side of the fence promoting shows with Eamonn McCann.

That move led to one of Strange’s biggest breaks, when a trio of school kids in a band called Ash started relentlessly hassling him for support slots in the venue. The band’s bass player, Mark Hamilton, recalls that Strange’s office in the Limelight doubled as the cloakroom at the weekend: “You had to push past the rails where the coats were to get to Steve’s desk at the back.” The teenagers’ tenacity impressed Strange enough to give the band slots supporting the likes of Elastica, Babes in Toyland, and Ride, and as the fan-base began to grow, he accepted an offer from Ash manager Stephen Taverner to become the band’s agent, and soon found himself working with Rob Challice at Forward Artist Booking.

Adding acts to his roster, Strange soon got itchy feet again and felt the need to move to a bigger agency: John Giddings’ Solo.

Strange’s office in the Limelight doubled as the cloakroom at the weekend: “You had to push past the rails where the coats were to get to Steve’s desk at the back”

The next rung of the ladder saw Strange move to Fair Warning/Wasted Talent where Ian Huffam and Jeff Craft took him under their wings. “It just felt like the right place to go,” says Strange. “It was much more a demographically suited agency for me.” Other colleagues at that company, which would later morph into Helter Skelter, were Ian Flukes, John Jackson, Pete Nash, Paul Bolton, Jim Morewood, Emma Banks, Mike Greek, Ian Sales, Paul Franklin and Nigel Hassler.

Strange breaks
That career move coincided with Strange’s move into the big time. Within months of settling into his new environment, he was invited by Interscope Records’ label head Martin Kierszenbaum and A&R chief Don Robinson to take a look at some of the acts they were developing.

“I’ve always listened to American music, and a lot of the bands I liked when I was younger were from the United States,” says Strange. “So I started to sign bands from the US or who were America-based, and I spent a lot of time building relationships with people who work in the American business. My relationship with Interscope, for instance, on the back of representing Smash Mouth, led to Martin and Don putting Eminem on my radar before there was even a record released. I remember hearing ‘My Name Is’ before it had even gone to radio and just being blown away. So I’ve been very fortunate to work with Eminem for a long time now.”

While that introduction to Eminem may have been a piece of good fortune, the circumstances owe everything to Steve Strange’s philosophy when it comes to making a mark in the North American music sector.

 


Continue reading this feature in the digital edition of IQ 77, or subscribe to the magazine here

 

The New Bosses 2021: Flo Noseda-Littler, Paradigm

The New Bosses 2021 – the latest edition of IQ’s annual celebration of the brightest young talent in the live business today, as voted for by their peers – was published in IQ 103 this month, revealing the 12 promising promoters, bookers, agents, entrepreneurs that make up this year’s list.

To get to know this year’s cohort a little better, IQ conducted interviews with each one of 2021’s New Bosses, discovering their greatest inspirations and pinpointing the reasons for their success.

Catch up on the previous 2021 New Bosses interview Age Versluis, promoter at Friendly Fire in the Netherlands here.

Born in London’s Waterloo area, Noseda-Littler was brought up around jazz and soul music by a family of entertainers – her mum is a singer, granddad a pianist, and grandmother a dancer.

At university, where she studied civil engineering, Noseda-Littler started booking musician friends into venues and festivals around the UK, and after graduating she started working under the wing of her cousin at Academy Music Group (AMG), which also provided her with a chance to work at Wireless Festival.

An internship at Brixton Academy followed, before, in 2015, she found herself a job as general agency assistant at Paradigm, where for the last three years she has been on several committees and task forces to bridge the gap between support staff and agency management.


You come from a musical family. What’s the first gig you can remember going to – and when did you decide you should pursue a career in the business?
My first memory was at 8 when we went to Party in the Park, Hyde Park. It was a magical experience seeing live music, and going to a festival for the first time with thousands of people.

What set you on your path in the industry?
At university, I fell into booking my boyfriend’s band. I started a database of contacts and soon managed to get gigs at cool UK venues and festivals. Something ignited in me and I knew I had to do this full-time!

Do you think working on the venues side of the business has helped you in your career on the agency side?
Working at Brixton and AMG gave me the building blocks to understand live shows, from promotion and ticketing to backstage issues and settlements. I got to shadow lots of different staff, which showed me the practicalities of how much it takes to execute a show onsite. It was so useful to draw on those experiences when learning the agency world and routing shows together.

“It’s been vital for both agent and promoter to be transparent and flexible in order to protect the longevity of the industry”

We’ve heard a lot about the closer collaboration between agents and promoters during the past year. What’s your experience of that been, and how do you see it benefitting Paradigm’s clients as the business reopens?
Promoters are usually the first to take big financial risks on a tour, which has never been more to their detriment than in the past 17 months. During these ever-changing times, it’s been vital for both agent and promoter to be transparent and flexible in order to protect the longevity of the live industry. In demanding less from our promoters in the short term, it supports the recovery and prospects of our clients’ live careers. We are all in this together and just want to see the business thriving again!

You’ve become one of the go-to people for younger staff at Paradigm. What advice would you give to other young people who are trying to break into the live music business?
Festivals offer a range of volunteering roles so it’s worth checking them out to gain experience and meet people if there’s nothing music related on your CV. Internships often involve being thrown into the deep end, but you shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions. What really gets noticed is an eagerness to learn and integrity of work.

“A bigger effort is needed across the industry to reduce waste, lower emissions, and protect the future of our planet”

Where would you like to see yourself in five years’ time?
Booking tours in an industry that has fully recovered and is booming once more!

The pandemic has been hard on us all – are there any positive aspects that you can take out of the last 17 months?
During furlough, I discovered a love of running and went on to complete my first half marathon. This new hobby has been a freeing and stress-busting tool for me, that I hadn’t been able to try in my old routine.

Mental health has been a hot topic during the pandemic worldwide which has filtered across the workplace. These unprecedented times have allowed us to make our well-being a higher priority and feel more comfortable in vocalising how we feel. I’m hopeful mental health will remain high on the agenda when touring returns to a normal pace. It’ll result in a healthier and happier industry!

As a new boss, what one thing would you change to make the live music industry a better place?
One of the most urgent issues is energy consumption. There are some great initiatives, like The Green Rider, but a bigger effort is needed across the industry to reduce waste, lower emissions, and protect the future of our planet.


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The New Bosses 2021: Jenna Dooling, WME

The New Bosses 2021 – the latest edition of IQ’s annual celebration of the brightest young talent in the live business today, as voted for by their peers – was published in IQ 103 this month, revealing the 12 promising promoters, bookers, agents, entrepreneurs that make up this year’s list.

To get to know this year’s cohort a little better, IQ conducted interviews with each one of 2021’s New Bosses, discovering their greatest inspirations and pinpointing the reasons for their success.

Catch up on the previous 2021 New Bosses interview with Arjun Mehta, founder and CEO at Moment House in the US here.

Jenna Dooling’s path into the music industry began in her hometown of Liverpool, where she first began working for a club promoter. This prompted her to apply for a course at the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts (LIPA), for a degree in music, theatre and entertainment management.

During her studies she also worked for various promoters and realised she wanted to be in London to pursue a career in the music industry, and just months after graduating she began working at WME.

Five years later she is an agent at WME having worked her way up from mailroom assistant in 2015. She is now handling all club bookings across the UK and Ireland for the agency’s electronic roster, while her own roster includes Black Coffee, Fatboy Slim, and Damian Lazarus (alongside David Levy).

 


WME’s mailroom programme is legendary. Can you tell us a bit about it and how it helped set you up for a path into being an agent?

Although my job title was ‘mailroom assistant’, I worked on the front desk so my role also included duties of a receptionist. You are the first and last person that anyone sees when entering the office, so you have to take pride in your role and present yourself in a professional way, with a warm welcome.

Whilst greeting agents and assistants from all departments and learning about the clients they represent, I started to picture my career path and formulate a plan as to how I was going to get there. My main focus was to progress into the music department.

Like any job, you have to start from the bottom and work your way up. From answering calls, handling the mail, to tea/coffee runs, ordering cabs, you have to think of the end goal and that this is only temporary until you have proven yourself.

“Being a former promoter has given me a real appreciation of how hard they work in order to help deliver a successful show”

You had some experience working on the promoter side when you were younger – do you think that’s helped make you a better agent?
Being a former promoter, I understand what it’s like being on the other side of the fence. It’s given me a real appreciation of how hard [promoters] work in order to help deliver a successful show for our clients.

We’ve heard a lot about the closer collaboration between agents and promoters during the past year. What’s your experience of that been, and how do you see it benefitting your clients as the business reopens?
Throughout the pandemic I’ve built closer relationships with promoters by just keeping the conversations rolling, checking in seeing how people are, even when there were no shows happening that needed to be discussed.

We’ve all faced difficult challenges, so working together through these tough times has helped us put our best foot forward. By being proactive, we have implemented backup plans and been constantly flexible across the board with reschedules and cancellations.

One of the best things we have picked up from this is the sharing of information relevant to specific territories which has been invaluable. Throughout the last 18 months, we have built stronger relationships with our promoter partners that in turn will benefit our clients hugely as we work hand-in-hand to deliver the best possible shows and experiences for our careers.

“The most important aspect of the entertainment industry is building strong, long-standing relationships”

Your determination played a significant role in you getting your foot in the door. What advice would you give to others trying to break into the live music business?
The most important aspect of the entertainment industry is building strong, long-standing relationships. Attend as many events and conferences as possible, you never know who you will meet. There’s no harm in reaching out to people on email with a friendly introduction, asking for some advice etc. Don’t be put off when some people don’t respond, consistency is key, so don’t give up!

When I was at school, I didn’t know being a ‘music agent’ was even a thing – we didn’t get taught about all the creative roles in the entertainment industry. You have to do as much research as possible, but speaking to people that you look up to is the best place to start and never be afraid to ask questions! What has helped me through my time at WME is having a mentor, to be able to help guide me, explain things and just absorb information when sitting on calls, as you understand how that agent is thinking logistically and strategically.

What are the biggest challenges facing you and your WME colleagues as the industry starts to get back on its feet?
Diversity and inclusion have been and will continue to be major priorities for me. We continue to push for equality on line ups and open dialogue about how to have better representation.

“Logistically, one of the biggest challenges that we face at the moment is the congested schedule of festivals and tours”

Logistically, one of the biggest challenges that we face at the moment is the congested schedule of festivals and tours, with most artists having missed a full two years of touring. All of them are keen to get back on the road doing what they love best and playing for their fans. This is leading to limited availability at venues and festival slots with many having chosen to honour offers made for artists in 2020 and 2021.

What are you most looking forward to about the year ahead?
I can’t wait to get back to the office to be with my colleagues and friends. Since everything reopened in the UK, it feels so good to be back, attending gigs and festivals – what we have all been waiting (patiently) for and hoping it continues back to normal across the world.

Where would you like to see yourself in five years’ time?
Like any aspiring agent, I want to see myself continue to expand my roster with exciting new talent. Focusing on building a diversified roster, representing artists from the developmental stage to headline level both in the live space and electronic world. I want to look back at the end of each year and be proud of my clients and the team around me for putting together a great run of shows and headline tours.

 


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The LGBTIQ+ List 2021: Zoe Williamson, UTA

The LGBTIQ+ List 2021 – IQ’s first annual celebration of queer professionals who make an immense impact in the international live music business – was published in the inaugural Pride edition (issue 101) this month.

The 20 individuals comprising the LGBTIQ+ List 2021, as nominated by our readers and verified by our esteemed steering committee, have gone above and beyond to wave the flag for an industry that we can all be proud of.

To get to know this year’s queer pioneers a little better, IQ asked each individual to share their challenges, triumphs, advice and more. Each day this month, we’ll publish a new interview with an individual on the LGBTIQ+ List 2021. Catch up on the previous interview with Austin Sarich, tour director for North America at Live Nation here.

 


Zoe Williamson
she/her/hers
Agent, UTA
Brooklyn, New York, US
zoe.williamson@unitedtalent.com

Tell us about a personal triumph in your career.
Working on and announcing Arlo Parks’ North America headline tour for this fall was a huge highlight. Seeing how much love there is in the US validated the incredible work that Arlo has poured into her music and into building an authentic and organic relationship with her fans.

What advice could you give for young queer professionals?
Ignore the people trying to tell you to act or behave a certain way to succeed. If we’re going to make a shift in the industry, I would encourage any young queer and/or trans professionals to help break the mould of the traditional perception of ‘leaders’. We are the new leaders, and so anything we do is what leadership looks like.

“I would encourage any young queer and/or trans pros to help break the mould of the traditional perception of ‘leaders'”

Tell us about a professional challenge you often come across as a queer person.
I’m sometimes put in situations where I’m asked to work with someone for the sole reason that they’re in the LGBTQIA+ community. It’s disappointing because at times it can feel as though I’m being paired with someone because of my identity, not because of my hard work or skillset.

Industry professionals often misgender and misunderstand sexuality, and we have to take time and energy to educate, which can be exhausting and daunting. I’m all about patience, but it’s hard to work in an industry that has been saying for years it’s going to do the work, yet year after year that work falls on us to do.

“I want [the LGBTQIA+ community] calling the shots; not just having a seat at the table but having a say in the decision making”

What one thing could the industry do to be more inclusive?
During the pandemic, I am proud to have been a part of the launch of Justice Now, a task force within UTA’s music department that aims to reverse systemic racism in the industry through four pillars of education, mentorship, empowerment and fearless imagination.

I feel lucky to work at a company that celebrates and embraces the LGBTQIA+ community, but I want to see more of my community in the industry. I want us calling the shots; not just having a seat at the table but having a say in the decision making.

Causes you support.
For The Gworls, The Okra Project, Marsha P. Johnson Institute, The Center, Trevor Project.

How could the industry build back better, post-pandemic?
We need to create a space for industry professionals within the LGBTQIA+ community to not feel targeted, isolated, neglected, and unsafe. Accountability means nothing without consequences. Basically, if we don’t start telling people “You are not above consequences for your actions” and actually walking the walk on that, I don’t see this industry changing at the rate it needs to.

 


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The LGBTIQ+ List 2021: Rauha Kyyrö, Fullsteam Agency

The LGBTIQ+ List 2021 – IQ’s first annual celebration of queer professionals who make an immense impact in the international live music business – was published in the inaugural Pride edition (issue 101) this month.

The 20 individuals comprising the LGBTIQ+ List 2021, as nominated by our readers and verified by our esteemed steering committee, have gone above and beyond to wave the flag for an industry that we can all be proud of.

To get to know this year’s queer pioneers a little better, IQ asked each individual to share their challenges, triumphs, advice and more. Each day this month, we’ll publish a new interview with an individual on the LGBTIQ+ List 2021. Catch up on the previous interview with Daniel Brown, event producer/programmer at Birmingham Pride, UK here.

 


Rauha Kyyrö
she/her/hers
Head promoter, Fullsteam Agency
Finland
rauha@fullsteam.fi

Tell us about a personal triumph in your career.
I definitely can’t take the credit for any of the production work required to make it happen, but in 2018 we built a 60-metre stage and a 30-truck production for the most popular Finnish artist, Cheek, on top of a lido located basically in a deep pit at the bottom of a ski-jumping stadium, and let’s just say that it was not uncomplicated. But the artist got what he wanted, and we sold out 60,000 tickets.

What advice could you give for young queer professionals?
When you notice a problem in your workplace, whether it is racism, discrimination or inequality of any kind, cis/heteronormativity, assumed monogamy, or anything that you are not comfortable with, speak up and ask for change. And if they don’t want to listen to you, start your own company – or come work for us!

“Hearing ‘Ladies and Gentlemen’ these days makes me almost as sick as ‘Dear Sirs’…”

Tell us about a professional challenge you often come across as a queer person.
I think people often have challenges with what they don’t understand. For example, they might judge you for your life choices and therefore not treat you with respect or give you what you deserve even if what you are doing has nothing to do with your work. When someone takes the risk to be open about their gender identity, sexuality or number of partners, etc., in an environment with so many fucked-up norms, it is usually not a phase.

What one thing could the industry do to be more inclusive?
To start with, we could easily stop using binary and cisnormative language in all our communication. Hearing ‘Ladies and Gentlemen’ these days makes me almost as sick as ‘Dear Sirs’. And what’s the deal with binary toilets still around at festivals and venues? Just make all the toilets unisex, that’s the easiest thing you can do to be more inclusive to trans people, and it helps with queues too!

“Make all the toilets unisex, that’s the easiest thing you can do to be more inclusive to trans people, and it helps with queues too!”

A cause you support.
Questioning norms.

What does the near future of the industry look like?
Busy.

How could the industry build back better, post-pandemic?
In my experience, people in the live music industry have been nicer, more understanding and more patient during the pandemic. Let’s keep that up. Nobody should have to be intimidated because of a gig.

 


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