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The New Bosses 2021: Anna Parry, The O2

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.

The first 2021 New Bosses interview is with Anna Parry, programming manager at the O2, London.

Born in Calgary, Canada, Parry travelled to Spain to study global entertainment and music business at Berklee College of Music in Valencia. With an independent promoter as a father, she grew up in backstage corridors and tour buses and quickly learned the ropes of the live business as a production runner, tour manager, logistics coordinator, and promoter rep.

Her move to London initially involved an internship at UTA, while also running the events programme for she.grows, the mentorship programme for shesaid.so. Parry joined the programming team at the O2 in 2018 and now works with some of the biggest artists in the world.


What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
There are two: seeing Paul McCartney at the O2. My dad [Jeff Parry of Jeff Parry Productions] became a promoter because of his love for the Beatles and seeing him perform in my place of work was a full-circle moment for me; and I’m currently working on a project with Prince’s estate to honour his 21-night legacy at The O2. It’s a surreal feeling to be working with one of the most influential teams in the business.

You spent part of the lockdown back in Canada, what challenges did that present in your working day?
Well, the obvious one would be the time difference, but luckily I was in Canada during the months of January and February which was a quiet time for the O2. My team are also extremely supportive and allowed for somewhat flexible working hours. Generally, I think that January and February were a hard time for everyone and it was difficult being so far from my team but I was very fortunate to be able to spend the time with my family.

“What is really going to make a difference [to the live music industry] is diversity in the top positions”

As a new boss, what one thing would you change to make the live music industry a better place?
A more diverse recruitment process. We need to see diversity in every level of organisations, ensuring equal opportunities for people to get their foot in the door and a framework for them to progress. What is really going to make a difference is diversity in the top positions.

Tell us a bit about your work with she.grows/she said.so.
I came across shesaid.so when I was a promoter rep in my hometown of Calgary, and I was working with the only female promoter in the area who told me about the incredible community. She then said her biggest regret was not moving internationally and that’s when I started thinking about the opportunity the industry provided in a global context. It then all came full circle for me when I was able to act as the events manager for the she.grows mentorship programme in London, and was introduced to a plethora of inspiring women.

You’ve travelled thousands of miles to study and find work, what advice would you give to anyone trying to break into the business?
Never give up, and never take no for an answer. The door is never fully closed, you just need to find a new way to open it.

“It is a very exciting time as we get to reinvent a lot of processes”

Where do you see yourself in five years?
I am fortunate to work for a global company in AEG with a stream of creative people where opportunities feel limitless so it is hard to say, but I am very happy at the O2 and feel like we have a lot of catching up to do after the past 18 months!

What’s the biggest challenge for you and the O2 team now that the business is emerging from lockdown restrictions?
Re-engaging the workforce. As a company we have gone through a lot of changes and have a lot of new processes in place. Re-entrance anxiety is a real issue, and as it stands, 2022 is projected to be our busiest year ever at the O2 and we need to ensure that, after over 500 days of no events, people will be well equipped and feel comfortable getting back at it.

With that said it is also a very exciting time as we get to reinvent a lot of processes and I think we have all learned a lot during lockdown and have an even further appreciation for what we do and why we do it.

 


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Showpass expands hotel ‘balcony concert’ series

Calgary-based event technology company Showpass is expanding its balcony concert series with two special shows at The Ritz Carlton in Florida, organised with promoter Rush Concerts.

Showpass launched the Hotels Live concert series in Canada, last June, and sold out more than 30 shows in hotel pools and courtyards across the country.

The ‘staycation’ concert model is designed to be Covid-compliant, with guests watching the show from the balcony of their hotel rooms, which have their own bathrooms, room service and contactless check-in and check-out.

The company’s new mini-series, ‘The MercyMe Show’tel – Music with a view’, will take place on 5 and 6 March at The Ritz Carlton on Amelia Island in Florida with live music by American contemporary Christian band MercyMe.

“Tens of thousands of fans have enjoyed live entertainment without one single recorded case of Covid-19”

Balcony tickets start from US$1,100, which includes a hotel room that can accommodate up to four guests for an overnight stay and an additional two guests on the balcony during the show.

Table tickets start from $1,000, which includes a hotel room that doesn’t have a view of the stage. These attendees will be required to wear a mask whilst seated.

“To date, we have partnered with four global hotel chains representing over 1,000 potential locations, sold 4,000+ hotel rooms, and seen tens of thousands of fans enjoy live entertainment, all without one single recorded case of Covid-19,” says Showpass business development executive, Joel Jelinski.

Tickets for “MercyMe Show’tel – Music With A View,” are on sale now exclusively through on Showpass’ website.

 


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Canadian hotels host first govt-approved concerts

Hotels are serving as the stage for live music’s return in Canada, as venue and event management software company Showpass and booking agency Livestar Entertainment team up to host shows in hotel pools and courtyards across the country.

The Hotels Live concert series – billed as the first government-sanctioned live music events to take place in the country since the Covid-19 shutdown – launched on Monday (29 June) in the city of Calgary, with a series of shows set to take place at the pool deck stage at the Ramada Plaza Downtown hotel this month.

Tickets for the concerts, which feature acts the Hip Experience, Garth Brooks tribute Fresh Horses and Pink Floyd tribute Pink 4reud, start from CA$75 (€49), with the hotel room included.

All rooms have balconies overlooking the stage, acting as guests’ private box suites. Food and drink packages may also be included for an additional price.

“We know this hotel balcony series will be our first of many to come”

The hospitality and entertainment industries have similarly joined forces in Sweden, where promoter Jubel is hosting concerts as part of weekend getaways, and the Netherlands, where EDM promoter ID&T is trying its hand at organising camping holidays.

“Hotels Live is proud to collaborate with Showpass to bring live music back to the world. By providing a truly exclusive entertainment experience, we know this hotel balcony series will be our first of many to come,” says Rob Cyrynowski of Livestar Entertainment Canada/Hotels Live.

“The goal of this project is to get as many folks in the music industry – from musicians and crew members, to agents and promoters – back to doing what they love and most importantly, getting paid to do it,” adds Showpass CEO Lucas McCarthy.

Showpass and Livestar plan to announce more Hotels Live concert dates across North America in due course, partnering with hotels, festival and venue operators, promoters and agencies to bring more shows to fruition.

More information on working with one of the Showpass hotel partners to host an event, can be found here.

 


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North American arenas compensate part-time employees

Amid widespread cancellations of live entertainment and sporting events, several arenas in North America are taking steps to ensure the livelihoods of their part-time staff.

Large venues including Staples Center (20,000-cap.) in Los Angeles, Smoothie King Center (17,791-seat) in New Orleans and Scotiabank Saddledome (19,289-seat) in Calgary have created employee funds for non-salaried workers who have been affected by coronavirus-induced closures.

In LA, the AEG-operated Staples Center – along with its sports-team tenants, the LA Lakers, LA Clippers and LA Kings – have established a compensation scheme for wages lost by part-time employees.

Payments from the fund, according to NHL.com, will be distributed among more than 2,800 hourly event employees, including box-office staff, ushers, security, stagehands, operations staff, car park attendants and F&B sellers.

Meanwhile, Gayle Benson, owner of the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans, has announced plans to establish an ‘Arena Assistance Fund’ for those left out of pocket by the cancellation of upcoming NBA basketball games.

“We want to do our part to assist those that have been impacted in our community”

Benson, whose teams play at ASM Global’s Smoothie King Center, has also made a personal donation of US$1 million to create the Gayle Benson Community Fund to remunerate Pelicans employees, as well as local ‘gig economy’ workers in New Orleans.

“We have been meeting and planning a response since the NBA’s announcement to suspend games. Our meaningful discussions have led to what we believe is the most impactful way to best serve the needs of our community as a whole,” she says. “We want to do our part to assist those that have been impacted in our community.”

North of the Canadian border, Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation (CSEC), which owns the Calgary Flames ice-hockey team and operates the Saddledome, has similarly announced it will pay part-time and hourly employees while the Flames’ season is on hold.

San Francisco’s Chase Center has also established a $1m ‘disaster relief fund’, to be funded by the owners, players and coaches of NBA squad Golden State Warriors, to pay employees while the 19,500-capacity venue is empty.

Yesterday, US president Donald Trump recommended Americans refrain from gathering in groups of more than ten until the end of the month, as well as the closure of bars, restaurants, clubs and schools.

 


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Like heavy music? You might be in a hate group

A Canadian music fan has criticised Calgary’s police service for apparently suggesting listening to “heavy rock music” could be a sign a young person is a member of a hate group.

In an information leaflet entitled Signs of a child being part of a hate group, the police force lists “playing loud, heavy rock music with violent lyrics” as an ‘early warning sign’, and police spokesman Corwin Odland says there “tends to be a correlation” between members of extremist groups and being “involved in that kind of music”.

The list has been rebuked by Calgary heavy metal fan Robert Riggs‎, who tells the Toronto Metro the idea of heavy metal fans as violent is an outdated stereotype. “My son, he listens to heavy metal, and he’s one of the nicest kids ever, but I tend to see him lumped into a group he doesn’t belong in,” he says.

“It’s kind of gone the way of [the idea that] video games cause violence and things like that. It’s not monkey see, monkey do. Kids see their parents go to work all time, and they don’t suddenly get up and find a job at seven years old.”

The list has since been updated to remove the word “rock” from the description, although the reference to “heavy music” remains.

 


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