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Coming out: IQ’s Pride Takeover edition arrives

IQ 127, the latest issue of the international live music industry’s favourite magazine, is available to read online now.

The May/June 2024 issue marks the fourth annual Pride takeover edition, supported again by Ticketmaster.

At the forefront of the issue is the LGBTIQ+ List, announced yesterday, which profiles 20 queer pioneers making an impact in the international live music business and beyond.

Issue 127 also sees the return of the Loud & Proud playlist and feature, in which our agency partners spotlight 12 queer stars to note.

Elsewhere, Pride editor Lisa Henderson profiles LGBTIQ+ List finalist and ASM Global heavyweight Anna Sjölund, charting the trajectory of her 25 years in the business.

Meanwhile, Gordon Masson talks to executives about putting diversity, equality and inclusion strategies into practice in the live music industry.

For this edition’s columns and comments, Zoe Maras shares her experience of being asexual in the industry and RuPaul’s Drag Race star Alaska Thunderfuck 5000 details the ramifications of proposed anti-drag and LGBTIQ+ legislation in the United States.

Beyond the Pride-specific content, DJ Mag editor Carl Loben examines the trends shaping the global electronic music scene and Adam Woods visits some of the diverse territories that make up the vibrant, ever-expanding Latin American tour circuit.

As always, the majority of the magazine’s content will appear online in some form in the next four weeks.

However, if you can’t wait for your fix of essential live music industry features, opinion and analysis, click here to subscribe to IQ from just £8 a month – or check out what you’re missing out on with the limited preview below:

 


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LGBTIQ+ List 2024: This year’s queer pioneers unveiled

IQ Magazine has revealed the LGBTIQ+ List 2024 – the fourth annual celebration of queer professionals who make an immense impact in the international live music business.

The list is once again the centrepiece of IQ’s annual Pride edition, sponsored by Ticketmaster, which is now available to read online and in print for subscribers.

The 20 individuals comprising the LGBTIQ+ List 2024 – as nominated by our readers and verified by our esteemed steering committee – are individuals that have gone above and beyond to wave the flag for an industry that we can all be proud of.

The fourth instalment comprises agents, promoters, venue directors, bookers, consultants, sustainability experts, talent buyers, managers and sound engineers from across the world.

In alphabetical order, the LGBTIQ+ List 2024 is:

Anna Sjölund, EU programming director, ASM Global (SE)
Ary Maudit, sound engineer/producer, RAK Studios/Strongroom/Saffron Records (UK)
Buğra Davaslıgıl, senior talent buyer, Charmenko (TR)
Caterina Conti, operations manager, 432 Presents (UK)
Chris May, general manager, BC Place Stadium (CA)
Dustin Turner, music marketing agent, music touring, CAA (US)
Emma Davis, general manager/agent, One Fiinix Live (UK)
Gwen Iffland, senior marketing & PR manager, Wizard Live (DE)
Jason Brotman, founder, Five Senses Reeling (US)
Joona Juutilainen, Booking Assistant, Fullsteam Agency (FI)
Luke Mulligan, director, Circa 41 (AU)
Paul Lomas, booker, WME (UK)
Pembe Tokluhan, production/founder/diversity consultant, Petok Productions (UK)
Priscilla Nagashima, VP of engineering, DICE (UK)
Rhys France, corporate & private events booker, CAA (UK)
Rivca Burns, acting head of music, Factory International (UK)
Ross Patel, green impact consultant & board member, LIVE/MMF (UK)
Sam Oldham, venue director, The O2 (UK)
Sam Booth, director of sustainability, AEG Europe (UK)
Zoe Maras, founder & artist services, Joyride Agency (NZ)

Throughout Pride Month (June), IQ will be publishing full-length interviews with each person on the LGBTIQ+ List 2024.

However, subscribers can read the full Pride edition now. Click here to subscribe to IQ from just £8 a month – or see what you’re missing out on with the limited preview below.

Check out previous Pride lists from 2023, 2022 and 2021.

 


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ILMC 36: The Agency Business

Leading agents offered an upbeat overview of the agency trade in 2024 and pondered the future of the model in the annual ILMC panel on the sector.

The Agency Business 2024 panel chair Anna Sjölund was joined by guest speakers Bex Wedlake (One Fiinix Live), Brian Ahern (WME), Tom Schroeder (Wasserman Music) and James Wright (UTA) to debate a range of topics.

“The great thing after the pandemic, [Brexit], and the general inflation of costs, we’re still having a strong touring business. The difficulty is costs, be that for artists, promoters or venue operators,” said Wright.

Asked how it was to be an agent in 2024, Schroeder said, “I bloody love it. I don’t disagree that there are problems, but they’re a bit like a jigsaw that we have to work out and I really enjoy that challenge. The fact is that artists are a lot more involved in their careers these days, and that makes things fun.

“The rules have changed and some historic templates have [been discontinued], and because social media plays such a big part in things now, artists have to be a lot more involved in their career and decisions about their career, so I truly believe this is the best time I’ve had in my career.”

“The appetite for live music is bigger and better than ever before”

Wedlake noted, “The appetite for live music is bigger and better than ever before, and there’s a bigger emphasis on women in music and LGBTQ issues, led by the artists, and it’s amazing to witness that levelling of the [playing field] and the evolution of our job. There’s no one-size-fits-all for either clients or us as agents, so the fact that big corporations and independent operations can happily co-exist is pretty healthy.

Ahern agreed, commenting, “I believe our company can provide a competitive advantage to our clients, but there are also bands and artists who simply want to tour, and therefore being at another agency is a better fit for them. I have a lot of respect for the indie agents and what they do – thankfully there is enough work for all of us.”

Discussing the reality of global deals, Wright revealed that he had chosen a lower offer for one of his clients because a higher offer would have meant unrealistic ticket prices for that act’s fans. And talking about the changing role of the agent, Schroeder said that while 15 years ago his job involved booking gigs, “What was 90% of my job is now just 10%, as I spend a lot more time working on strategy and creativity. And the best thing is I don’t know how I will be doing things in 18 months because the business keeps changing and I think the industry is all the better for it.”

Schroeder courted controversy by stating that grassroots venues were no longer a part of the ecosystem for his roster of clients, although he acknowledged their importance. But Wedlake responded, “We all have a responsibility to feed back into the grassroots sector – that’s why I’m a proponent of using independent promoters.” She added, “My job as an agent is to ferret out promoters who understand my artists and with whom we can grow sensibly, slowly and creatively.”

Addressing concerns about agents signing too many acts to their rosters, Wright said, “We are opportunistic, but we have to believe in the artists we sign. It’s complicated and it’s hard work, but we don’t get paid straight away, so belief is a big part of it.”

“We need promoters to help us get to a point where touring becomes financially sustainable”

Underlining that point, Schroeder revealed that he has been working with Raye for eight years – “Six and a half years were a real slog, but I always had that belief and I stuck with her.”

Turning the discussion to the different ways in which agencies operate, Sjölund asked Ahern about WME’s territorial model, leading Ahern to dismiss some of the myths about the practice.

“We don’t simply hand off to someone who does not know what they are doing. We engage experts who have knowledge about specific markets, or who speak the local language, and who can advise me as the agent who can then use that information to make a decision. But the person who presents the artist always has that direct relationship – if I do not have that direct contact with my artist, I get fired.”

Schroeder also underlined the importance of the promoter in planning career strategies for artists. “If we choose a promoter that we trust, why would we not want their opinion in a meeting with the artist and management? They are the well informed gamblers that we rely on.”

He concluded, “We need promoters to help us get to a point where touring becomes financially sustainable.”

 


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Anna Sjölund trades Live Nation for ASM Global

ASM Global has appointed Anna Sjölund as European programming director, with a focus on the growth of the business in the Nordics region.

The industry stalwart joins the venue management giant from Live Nation Sweden, where she has risen through the ranks over 24 years.

In her new role, Sjölund will be based out of ASM’s Stockholm office and tasked with curating content at venues including Friends Arena, Tele2 Arena, Avicii Arena, Södra Teatern and Kulttuuritalo, as well as offering support in the rest of Europe.

While leading the Swedish programming team, she will support the individual venues and regional content teams to deliver and develop “a truly world-class and unrivalled calendar of unmissable live entertainment content”.

Marie Lindqvist, senior vice president of operations in Europe for ASM Global, says: “We are incredibly excited to welcome Anna to the ASM Global team. Anna is highly experienced, widely respected, and comes with a vast network within the industry, especially in the Nordics. I have worked with Anna in various capacities for more than 15 years, so I can confidently say she shares the same passion for growing the footprint of amazing live events in Sweden, and the rest of the Nordic region. Anna is a brilliant new addition to our best-in-class team and I look forward to working with her as we look to a bright future in Sweden and the Nordics.”

“Knowing that Anna was the promoter of your show meant total confidence that every possible aspect of the event was fully covered”

Brian Celler, senior vice president content and programming for UK & Europe at ASM Global, adds: “Let’s be entirely honest, Anna joining the ASM Global European programming team is nothing short of seismic. She is a world-class executive, held in the highest esteem by her colleagues, agents, managers, and artists globally. Knowing that Anna was the promoter of your show meant total confidence that every possible aspect of the event was fully covered. We are beyond thrilled to be part of Anna’s next progression in her career and her integral role in the expanding ASM Global venue portfolio in Europe.”

Sjölund joined Thomas Johansson’s EMA Telstar (now Live Nation Sweden) as a production assistant in 2000, and rapidly rose through the ranks. She has served as VP operations, Live Nation Central and Eastern Europe 2010-2013, and led the touring and festival business at Live Nation Sweden for more than 10 years. Most recently, she served in a global role as SVP Touring International.

Sjölund has established herself as one of Europe’s premier promoters with an unrivalled network in Sweden and the Nordics, promoting hundreds of arena and stadium shows in the region with world-class acts, as well as bringing international festival Lollapalooza to Stockholm in 2019, 2022, and 2023.

She is a longstanding promoter of the NHL Global Series in Sweden, Finland, Czech Rep and Germany – successfully filling Stockholm with 52,000 hockey fans from all over the world this season alone. As a result, Stockholm has had 16 regular season NHL games since 2008 – more than twice as many as any other city outside of North America.

Sjölund says: “During my 24 years with the great Thomas Johansson and the team at Live Nation Sweden I have worked incredibly close with the ASM Global venues here, and have had the fortune to be a part of hundreds of incredible events there – to now continue to develop and expand that business in the European region is something I’m really looking forward to. I joined forces with Marie Lindqvist to gather the Swedish event industry during the pandemic years, and have tremendous respect for her leadership and strategic work, and am excited to continue that partnership and our shared passion for live entertainment on a daily basis.”

 


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Festival Focus: Anna Sjölund, Live Nation Sweden

In addition to her new role as SVP touring international for Live Nation, Anna Sjölund continues her festival work in Sweden overseeing Summerburst and serving on the board of Sweden Rock Festival. She brought Lollapalooza to Stockholm in 2019, which had a highly successful debut and then the pandemic hit. Here she tells us what it took to get through and looks ahead to the future.

How did you and the team get through the pandemic?
The first Lollapalooza Stockholm was fantastic. We had a great bill ready for the second year and then the pandemic struck. It was really tough for us mentally. In 2021, there was a window where it looked like we could have festivals, so we announced, but then everything closed down again. That was particularly challenging. I spent my pandemic time – apart from cancelling and moving shows – being one of the leaders of the industry movement that worked with authorities and politicians here. We’re a commercial company and never relied on government funding before. When the pandemic hit, we realised the people that held the crisis funds didn’t even know what the music business was, let alone festivals. So, we came together as an industry and spent time educating politicians about the value of our industry.

We got great support from [tourism organisation] Visit Stockholm. They see the value in Lollapalooza, especially considering that as a first-year festival 15% of our visitors came from outside Sweden (and this year, that increased to almost 19%). Those numbers are important for a city like Stockholm. So, we got funding – not enough to cover our losses but it meant we kept the majority of our team intact, thankfully.

When we finally got to have the festival this year, it was fantastic. We’re so happy that we got support from many of the acts who stayed on the bill and from everyone who came. It was just amazing to come back and do the festival again.

“I think that the ‘experience’ will be increasingly important”

What trends do you think we will see play out in the next few years at festivals?
Rock music seems to be coming back at the moment, which I love. I also think that the ‘experience’ will be increasingly important. A festival is something you attend all day, and we want people to have a great time from early until late. People expect more every year because the ticket prices go up, but we can offer a great experience for everyone. We have high-end stuff for the people that want that, which means we also can deliver a great product for the kids that saved up their money to come.

Local artists are going to be very important in the coming years because touring costs are up, and the dollar exchange rate is challenging. Having strong local talent that attracts a local audience means you don’t have to programme only the very expensive international talent. We’re in a great position for that because we have very strong local talent in Sweden.

What challenges does the festival industry face?
Staffing, production costs, and the dollar exchange rate. We’re aiming to improve the staffing issue by launching a trainee programme, which will see people working on our festivals on six- to 12-month contracts; we’ll train and pay them. We’re focusing the recruitment outside our standard channels because we want new people. They aren’t obliged to stay with us after the programme, but I hope they will.

“Now more than ever, we need places where we gather and enjoy things together, no matter our background or political views”

Together with Spotify we are the main partners to IFPI on You+ Music, an initiative for youth from urban areas of Sweden. The aim is to open the door and inspire young people with a love of music to work with it – they’ve heard you can be an artist, producer, promoter, or manager – we’re showing them how to get there.

Why are festivals important, and what role do they play in our cultural landscape?
Festivals have a huge role in people’s lives. Live music is very important for many reasons, but festivals in particular, because now more than ever, we need places where we gather and enjoy things together, no matter our background or our political views.

With Lollapalooza, we have people travelling from all over the world to come to Stockholm, and we’re showing the best we have here, so festivals are a great way to showcase your culture.
Finally, festivals employ so many people, from cleaning squads to food sellers, and that’s really important. You’re putting together teams of people who don’t know each other. And it’s a great way to integrate and find communities together.

 


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Arthur Awards 2018: All the winners

For more than two decades, the Arthur Awards, the live music industry’s Oscar equivalents, have been handed out during ILMC – and last week’s ‘Close Encounters of the 30th Kind’ anniversary event was no exception, with the brightest stars of the concert business taking a host of UFOs (unidentified f—ing objects) back to their own galaxies.

Taking place for the second year in the sumptuous surroundings of 8Northumberland, the Gala-ctic Dinner & Arthur Awards saw 350 interstellar travellers don their best spacesuits and set a course for an evening of mirth, merriment and glittering gongs.

On entertainment duties were host Emma Banks, who returned to captain the USS ILMC, and Whitney Houston tribute act Belinda Davids, who gave stirring renditions of ‘I Will Always Love You’ and ‘One Moment in Time’.

Also returning to the stage was Rock Werchter founder and 2017 Bottle Award winner Herman Schueremans, who presented the Bottle Award 2018 to ILMC’s founder, Martin Hopewell. Hopewell – who believed he would be, as usual, presenting the Bottle Award – was instead its recipient, and received a standing ovation from the audience (after tearing up the now-useless speech he’d prepared for the ‘winner’).

An emotional Hopewell closed the ceremony by paying tribute to ILMC’s former producer, Alia Dann Swift, and Dave Chumbley of Primary Talent, both of whom passed away in 2018.

Notably, all Arthurs for individuals – the awards for best assistant, professional services, new talent, agent and promoter – were won by women. The ceremony, on Thursday 8 March, coincided with International Women’s Day.

To view a photo gallery of the evening, visit flic.kr/s/aHskuAJjEp.

A full list of Arthur Awards 2018 winners is below.

 


Venue (First venue to come into your head)
The O2, London (UK)

Production services (Services above and beyond)
eps

Professional services (Most professional professional)
Gillian Park, MGR Touring

Festival (Liggers’ favourite festival)
Glastonbury (UK)

Ticketing (The golden ticket)
Ticketmaster

Assistant (The people’s assistant)
Eliza-Jane Oliver, AEG Presents

New business talent (Tomorrow’s new boss)
Anna-Sophie Mertens, Live Nation

Agent (Second least offensive agent)
Natasha Bent, Coda

Promoter (The promoters’ promoter)
Anna Sjölund, Live Nation Sweden

Bottle Award
Martin Hopewell

 


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Live Nation Sweden appoints new joint MDs

Live Nation Sweden has announced the promotion of its head promoter, Anna Sjölund, and director of marketing and Nordic partnerships, Therése Liljedahl, as joint managing directors.

Both Sjölund and Liljedahl, who commence their new positions immediately, will retain elements of their previous roles: Sjölund remains head promoter, overseeing Live Nation Sweden’s agency, touring and festivals, while Liljedahl will retain responsibility for commercial partnerships in the Nordics while also managing Live Nation Sweden’s marketing, partnership, finance, administration and HR functions.

John Reid, president of concerts for Live Nation Europe, says: “The combined and complementary skill set that Anna and Therése will bring to their roles as managing directors is unparallelled. Together they will continue to grow the business that Thomas [Johansson] and Carl [Pernow] have built and take Live Nation Sweden into the future.”

Carl Pernow, now Live Nation’s president of Nordics, adds: “I am pleased to hand over the leadership of Live Nation Sweden to two exemplary leaders within their respective areas. I look forward to further developing the Nordic business with Anna, Therése and our Nordic colleagues.”

“I am pleased to hand over leadership to two exemplary leaders within their respective areas”

The appointments follow a bumper 2017 for LN Sweden, with concert successes including Guns N’ Roses, Coldplay, Metallica, Depeche Mode and the Rolling Stones. The Stockholm-based company also owns and operates festivals Summerburst, Way Out West (through subsidiary Luger) and Sweden Rock, which it bought last November.

Sjölund comments: “I have spent the majority of my career at Live Nation and had the opportunity to grow together with the business. I am excited to be able to continue my journey in this new role and look forward to what is ahead.”

“I’m honoured to have been given this opportunity,” adds Liljedahl. “I look forward to taking the next step at Live Nation Sweden together with Anna and my fantastic colleagues.”

 


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