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Music Venue Trust names new co-chairs

The UK’s Music Venue Trust (MVT) has made a number of changes to its board of trustees.

Ingrooves’ Bonita McKinney and Heliocentric Entertainment’s Phyllis Belezos have been named co-chairs, succeeding Sarah Thirtle in the role.

Both are trustees of the charitable organisation and played an important role in its work throughout the pandemic, including when assessing the financial support that MVT was able to give to individual venues via its successful #SaveOurVenues campaign.

“I have been a proud member of the MVT board and am excited to become co-chair,” says Belezos. “Music Venue Trust and the team’s work has helped venues survive not only during these last two years of the Covid-19 pandemic, but by supporting them in every way.

“My goal is to continue the building process so that venues not just survive but thrive. I also want to help instigate new ideas and structure to a part of the live industry that is fundamental to the artists and everyone involved in our beloved grassroots music venue community.”

McKinney adds: “I’ve seen the team work tirelessly over the pandemic and I want to help them and the music venues we represent as much as possible. I’m excited to lead the board into the next chapter for MVT as we face the post-pandemic music landscape and get back to our core goals and mission.”

“We welcome interest from anyone with relevant skills who is keen to volunteer their time and passion for grassroots music venues”

Scott Taylforth, Ticketmaster’s finance manager, UK client settlements, has also joined the MVT board as treasurer.

“Live music has played a major part in influencing my life for as long as I can remember,” he says. “Grassroots music venues are where it all begins, they’re the breeding ground of an industry that is worth a staggering £5.8 billion to the UK economy. Without them, many opportunities would be lost for future generations and the creative industries as we know them would cease to exist.

“I am absolutely honoured to be working with the MVT and look forward to working with the team and drawing on my music industry finance experience to help grow this amazing organisation.”

Meanwhile, Bengi Unsal, ex-head of contemporary music at Southbank Centre, is stepping down from the MVT board after four years but will serve as an MVT industry patron, as well as becoming director of the Institute of Contemporary Art.

“We are excited to welcome Phyllis, Bonita and Scott into these roles,” says MVT strategic director Beverley Whitrick. “Their experience, expertise and insight will be invaluable to our team as we navigate the next phase of MVT and put in place the strategies needed to continue protecting the grassroots music venue community.

“We would also like to thank Bengi and all of our continuing trustees for their incredible contribution to Music Venue Trust. The charity will continue to develop its board and we welcome expressions of interest from anyone with relevant skills who is keen to volunteer their time and passion for grassroots music venues.”


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The New Bosses 2019: Bonita McKinney, Ticketmaster

The New Bosses 2019 – the biggest-ever edition of IQ‘s yearly roundup of future live industry leaders, as voted for by their peers – was published in IQ 85 this week, revealing the twelve promising agents, promoters, bookers and execs that make up this year’s list.

To get to know this year’s cream of the crop a little better, IQ conducted interviews with each one of 2019’s New Bosses, to discover their greatest inspirations and proudest achievements, pinpoint the reasons for their success and obtain advice for those hoping to be a future New Boss. Snippets of the interviews can be found in the latest IQ Magazine, with all interviews being reproduced in full online and on IQ Index over the coming weeks.

First up is Bonita McKinney (30), business development manager of music and festivals at Ticketmaster. Born in Exeter and raised in Bournemouth, McKinney studied commercial music at London’s University of Westminster. Her first full-time industry role was at Miracle Artists as an assistant to agent Nick Peel, where she spent two years before joining Academy Music Group in 2010 as a promoter.

After spells as a promoter for DHP Family and Robomagic, she joined Ticketmaster in 2016, moving into her current role earlier this year.


What are you busy with right now?
As I’m writing, it is mid-festival season so I’m running from field to field helping ensure box offices run smoothly and clients are happy, all while setting up presales for 2020 events.

My main role is to sign up new clients to Ticketmaster, whether they be a festival, venue, promoter or brand. I help take independent events to the next level through Ticketmaster’s marketing and technology.

Did you always want to work in the music business?
Yes, but I thought I’d be on the stage! I was in a band pitched for “electro goth success” and toured the country for a couple of years. I’m so thankful I had that experience, as now I truly understand what it is like from the artists’ perspective and just how important grassroots venues are to the success of new acts.

What are some of the highlights of your career so far?
As a promoter for more than five years, some of my highlights were Craig David’s comeback tour, Ghost’s first UK Tour with Jägermeister Music, taking Sleaford Mods to a sell-out Forum from a 50-cap room in Nottingham and creating an event for female artists which won the PRS for Music Fund.

My Ticketmaster highlight so far has to be working with the Music Venue Trust to help save grassroots music venues across the country.

“The key elements of my job are the same as promoting… I’m just helping someone else to sell out their shows instead of my own”

How has your role changed since you started out?
Prior to working for Ticketmaster I was their client – promoting festivals and stand-alone shows across the AMG venue estate. I think that experience has been fundamental to my success here at Ticketmaster now. The key elements of my job are the same as promoting and I’m working with all the same people… I’m just helping someone else to sell out their shows instead of my own.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt? Either as a promoter, or in ticketing/marketing…
Change is good for the soul. I always say this to friends considering a career change. I’ve literally had my coming of age within the music industry – I was a full-time promoter by the age of 21, negotiating with the biggest agents in the world. Three and a bit years ago I took some time off before joining Ticketmaster in 2016. Taking a break for mindfulness and reflection is so important, I felt refreshed and geared up to start the next challenge.

What, if anything, would you change about how the live industry is run today?
Diversity. Luckily Live Nation Entertainment has loads of incredible internal schemes to work towards diversity in the workplace – whether LGBTQI, gender, racial or health related – but it’s important that the entire industry comes together to tackle this too.

What do you do for fun?
Explore the world. I’ve worked solidly since I was 18 so never did the travelling thing. I now try and get away whenever there is a quiet season. The thing I find most rewarding is taking my family to gigs and festivals. Seeing the Spice Girls with my sister this year was one of the most nostalgic and emotional nights of our lives!

“It is important to have people around you who can understand why you work the crazy hours and motivate you to push on through… or tell you to take a break”

Do you have an industry mentor?
My current boss, Sarah Slater. She balances running the music department for the biggest ticketing company in the world, parenthood and having a bloody good time. There is a level of trust and security I have with her that I haven’t experienced before, perhaps it is the difference in having a female boss (she’s my first). Empowered people empower others!

Honourable mentions go to: Andy Robbins, Ian Richards and Steve Strange for always having my back.

What advice would you give to anyone who wants to get into, or is new to, the business?
Make friends. I was very lucky to start in the industry at the same time as most of my, now, best friends. We all started on reception or sending out ticket figures and have established a girl gang that can empathise with the highs and lows of the music biz. It is important to have people around you who can understand why you work the crazy hours and motivate you to push on through… or tell you to take a break.

Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?
Technology will have progressed so much that we’ll probably live in a Black Mirror world, communicating through Artificial Intelligence. I’m excited to grow within Ticketmaster and Live Nation, I’d like to work more internationally, manage a team and empower the next new bosses.


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The New Bosses: Meet the class of 2019

The latest edition of IQ’s New Bosses goes live today, celebrating the brightest talent aged 30 and under in the international live music business.

The New Bosses 2019 – the 12th outing for IQ’s annual list of  future live music industry leaders, as decided by their peers – is the biggest to date, with no fewer than a dozen promoters, bookers, agents and other young execs making the cut:

IQ’s 2019 New Bosses will be automatically shortlisted for the Tomorrow’s New Boss award at the Arthur Awards at ILMC in March 2020, voting for which opens in November. “It was an incredibly rewarding experience to have won the Tomorrow’s New Boss award this year,” says ICM Partners agent Kevin Jergenson, who picked up his award at ILMC 31.

Full interviews with all the New Bosses 2019 will appear online in the coming weeks

“As an award that is voted on solely by my peers within the industry, it means a great deal to know that the passion and time I have put into this job and industry has been noticed and well received. I truly am blessed to be working with so many amazing people and artists within such an incredible industry. Congrats and good luck to all of this year’s New Bosses!”

Short profiles of, and brief interviews with, all 2019 New Bosses are featured in the latest issue of IQ Magazine, which can be read in the digital issue embedded below. These individual profiles use heavily edited versions of the full interviews, which will appear online in the coming weeks.

These promising emerging execs will also play a key role in forthcoming editions of Futures Forum, the discussion and networking event for the next generation of industry leaders that debuted at ILMC 31 in March.

Read on, then, to learn more about this year’s roster of young, talented professionals who are shaping the future of our business…

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