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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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Live Nation set to get Canada ‘back on touring map’

Canada is welcoming US artists to perform on the country’s stages for the first time in 18 months.

Vaccinated Americans and permanent residents are now able to cross the Canadian border for the first time since closing on 18 March 2020.

“This step opens possibilities to get Canada back on the touring map for sure. Some artists already have shows planned with more conversations picking up,” says Arthur Fogel, chairman of global touring for Live Nation.

Live Nation Canada’s first concert with major US acts will be on 2 September with Maroon 5 and Blackbear at the Budweiser Stage in Toronto. This will make the artists the first major US acts to play in the country since reopening.

This week, Live Nation Canada announced plans to require all artists and fans to show proof of vaccination or a recent negative Covid test to attend shows at the company’s stable of owned and operated Canadian venues.

The mandate is set to come into effect from no later than 4 October at Live Nation Canada’s outdoor venues and festivals, including Budweiser Stage (Toronto), History (Toronto), The Danforth Music Hall (Toronto), Commodore Ballroom (Vancouver), Midway (Edmonton), and The Velvet Underground (Toronto).

“Some artists already have shows planned [in Canada] with more conversations picking up”

The live entertainment behemoth is also sharing best practices for artists to request these policies at third-party venues where Live Nation promotes shows but does not control protocols.

“Live Nation and the live music industry are about uniting people, and vaccines are one of the greatest tools for making sure that everyone can continue to enjoy live music together,” said Wayne Zronik, president business operations, Live Nation Canada.

“We’re confident this is the right move for everyone coming out to shows, including artists, fans, crew, and our staff.”

Live Nation has announced similar entry requirements for markets including the UK and the US. IQ also understands that the promoter will take a market-by-market approach based on local governments’ requirements –many of which already utilise Covid-status certification for entrance to public spaces.


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Quebec to host biggest pilot concert to date

Up to 20,000 fully vaccinated music fans will gather on the Plains of Abraham in Quebec City in September for the world’s biggest test concert to date.

Caroline Proulx, minister for tourism in the devolved government of Quebec, announced earlier this week that Laval University will oversee a pilot event provisionally set for 25 September, with local promoters invited to tender for a “test event [that will be] as close as possible to a pre-pandemic event in its formula”. The selected promoter will be required to book at least three Quebec artists, as well as ensuring that at least 50% of the content of the show is in French.

A source tells the Journal de Québec that the preferred scenario for the event would involve 20,000 double-jabbed spectators, who would not be asked to wear masks, and an open-air concert on the Plains of Abraham, a 240-acre park in Quebec City. At the same time, 5,000 people would attend an indoor show, likely at the Videotron Centre arena.

“By September we believe the majority of Quebeckers will be doubly vaccinated”

The concert going ahead would be dependent on the public health situation at the time. “The goal is to make it an event that is safe, with no risk to people,” says Laval University’s Sophie D’Amours.

“This large gathering will be free for people who participate on a voluntary basis,” Proulx told a press conference on Monday (19 July). “Why was the month of September targeted? Because we believe that the majority of Quebeckers will be [doubly] vaccinated.”

Proulx estimates the test show, Canada’s first, will cost between CA$2–3 million (US$1.6–2.4m).

The latest pilot concert series, held in Leipzig in Germany in May and June, resulted in no infections, bolstering findings from previous test events in Europe. Last month, Festival Republic held a 10,000-person, three-day festival event, Download Pilot, at Donington Park in the UK.

International test events underline concert safety

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ASM Global expands partnership with Ticketmaster

ASM Global, the world’s biggest operator of entertainment venues, has expanded its ticketing partnership with Ticketmaster across its North American stadia, arenas, convention centres and performing arts venues.

In addition to extending their existing deal, the pair have have also expanded their relationship to include shows promoted by Ticketmaster parent Live Nation other ASM Global venues in North America. ASM, formed in 2019 by the merger of AEG Facilities and SMG, operates more than 300 venues on five continents.

The partnership will give the more than eight million fans that pass through ASM’s American and Canadian venues each year access to Ticketmaster’s digital ticketing offer, which includes contactless entry, mobile tickets, instant transfer to friends or other fans, and anti-counterfeiting measures, say the partners, while ASM benefits from Ticketmaster’s live analytics dashboard.

“ASM is our largest partner in North America, and we are proud to grow our great work together”

ASM Global president and CEO Ron Bension says: “With amazing content in all of our venues as a powerful foundation, we continue to discover imaginative new methods that leverage breakthrough technologies to create unparallelled consumer journeys, including innovative food and beverage and premium VIP treatment for fans. Aligning with industry leaders like Ticketmaster is a critical component in providing millions of people with the most seamless and secure live experiences.”

“ASM is our largest partner in North America, and we are proud to grow our great work together,” says Michael Rapino, president and CEO of Live Nation. “We are committed to supporting ASM’s efforts to provide fans with best-in-class ticketing and fan-engagement now and into the future.”

AEG took full control of its own ticketing platform, AXS, last year, though the business sits outside ASM Global. In 2018, it was announced that AXS was the official resale and mobile ticketing partner to a number of AEG venues, including Staples Center (Los Angeles), PlayStation Theater (New York), Target Center (Minneapolis) and Sprint Center (Kansas City). Those venues did not become ASM properties upon the 2019 merger.


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Canada’s indie venues bolstered by $100k aid

Independent live music venues in Canada will have the chance to apply for a share of a CA$100,000 (US$83,000) relief fund, launched by Jägermeister Canada.

According to the Canadian Live Music Association’s (CLMA) Covid-19 Venue Closures List, 89 Canadian music venues have permanently closed during the pandemic and a further 15 venues are in imminent danger of shuttering.

Thanks to the newly announced fund, 100 struggling Canadian live music venues will receive grants of $1,000 to help them soften the financial blow of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Eligible recipients for the relief will be selected through a lottery system, which Jägermeister will run in partnership with the CLMA.

Grant applications opened yesterday (25 May) and the deadline for submissions is Wednesday 2 June 2021 at 11:59 pm EST. Successful applicants will be notified via the CLMA at the end of June.

Venues must satisfy at least three of the eligibility requirements stated below, though exceptions may be made for venues in “rural or remote areas”:

Canada’s live music venues are also set to benefit from the recently announced 2021 budget, which includes C$50 million (US$40m) to help the sector weather the pandemic during 2021 and 2022.


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Cirque du Soleil announces return to the stage

Cirque do Soleil Entertainment Group has announced the reopening of four of its most popular shows, which have been closed for more than a year due to restrictions imposed in response to the pandemic.

Montreal-based Cirque du Soleil, the world’s largest producer of circus and other touring entertainment events, was one of the first casualties of the coronavirus, filing for bankruptcy last June after having already laid off thousands of staff. It emerged from bankruptcy protection in November after striking an agreement with creditors.

Two resident shows, O at the Bellagio and Mystère at Treasure Island, will reopen in Las Vegas this summer (1 July and 28 June, respectively), with the affiliated Blue Man Group show also returning to the Luxor Hotel from 24 June. Tickets for all Las Vegas shows are on sale now.

“I just can’t wait to see the lights go back on”

Two Cirque-produced touring events will also reopen: Kooza will return to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic from November, with Luzia opening at the Royal Albert Hall in London in January 2022.

Daniel Lamarre, president and CEO of Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group, says: “This is the moment we have all been waiting for. Almost 400 days have passed since we had to take a temporary hiatus, and we have been anxiously awaiting our return to the stage.

“I am so proud of the resilience of our artists and employees who persevered during the most challenging times with stages dark around the world for so long. I just can’t wait to see the lights go back on.”

“This is only the beginning,” he adds. “We look forward to sharing more exciting news in the coming weeks.”


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Canada’s 2021 budget includes $50m for live music

The Canadian government has reserved up to C$50 million (US$40m) in the newly announced budget to help the live music sector weather the pandemic during 2021 and 2022.

The budget was announced yesterday (19 April) by finance minister Chrystia Freeland, who vowed to “punch our way out of the Covid recession” with $101 billion (US$81bn) in spending over three years.

The Canadian Live Music Association (CLMA) has welcomed the federal budget which it says “acknowledges our hardest hit sector” by delegating $70m to the Canada Music Fund, including the $50m earmarked specifically for live music and live music venues.

“Today, our collective voice which we all worked so hard to raise, has been heard. It is with great relief that we welcome budget 2021, which clearly recognises the integral role the Canadian live music industry plays in our quality of life – as well as its significant economic, social, and cultural benefits,” says Erin Benjamin, CLMA president and CEO.

“This support will help safeguard our nation’s critical cultural infrastructure – and the incredible artists and community”

“Our industry has been devastated as a result of Covid-19. This support will help safeguard our nation’s critical cultural infrastructure – and the incredible people, artists and community whose passion and livelihood is live music. We look forward to working with the government to ensure it reaches each and every company and organisation who needs it. With today’s historic budget, our government has helped us to believe in the future – and we can’t wait to get there, together.”

Other highlights from the budget include:

Last year, the government supported the sector by allowing organisations operating in the for-profit live music industry access to a CA$20m (€13m) Covid-19 support fund.

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Midnight Agency launches in Canada

Canada’s newest independent booking outfit, Midnight Agency, has launched with offices in Vancouver and Toronto.

Founded by veteran agent Grant Paley (president), formerly of Paquin Artists Agency, and artist-agent Nick Middleton (CEO), best known as one half of electronic music duo the Funk Hunters, Midnight Agency represents a diverse roster of more than 30 artists, including Jurassic 5’s Chali 2na Too Many Zooz DJ Shub and James Brown’s band, the JBs, as well as some of the biggest Twitch streamers in Canada.

The latest Covid-19-era agency launch in North America (following the likes of Field Booking, Arrival Artists and TBA Agency), and the first in Canada, Midnight will champion both the live and digital aspects of the agent’s role, say the co-founders, boasting a line-up of gaming streamers that includes the likes of Twitch partners JessU, Pyka and Guns, who reach tens of thousands of viewers weekly.

“We are proud to be the first new independent agency to launch in Canada since Covid-19”

“We are once again witnessing a major shift in the agency landscape: a return to boutique, independent, artist-focused companies charged with creating new opportunities in both the digital and live markets,” says Middleton, who also leads electronic label Westwood Recordings.

“We are proud to be the first new independent agency to launch in Canada since Covid-19 suspended live music. Midnight is about taking back control for our artists, building new revenue streams and navigating the ever-changing demands of how to deliver art and shared music experiences in a post-Covid era.”

Paley, who also started out as an artist, fronting the band Moses Mayes, adds: “After many years working to just find the gigs, I felt compelled to create an agency where working with an artist to fulfil their vision was a top priority. I really missed being a creative person.

Our roster at Midnight Agency represents some of the most forward thinking, diverse and technologically savvy individuals I’ve ever met. I look forward to pushing the boundaries with them and changing the way live music experiences integrate with today’s fast moving online platforms and strategies.”


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Canada to host ‘first major event using rapid screening’

The Ontario Festival Industry Taskforce (OFIT) is spearheading the organisation of a concert that is said to be the first major event in Canada to use rapid screening.

The event, dubbed The Long Road Back, is due to take place this month at the Casino Lac-Leamy Plaza at Lansdowne Park, Ottawa, with a performance from local Motown tribute band, The Commotions.

Attendance will be limited to 100 participants, and all spectators as well as staff, musicians and crew must prove they’ve tested negative for Covid-19 within 48 hours before the band performs.

Once at the event, attendees will be seated at tables and will be required to wear masks and adhere to social distancing throughout the event.

According to the organisers, tickets – which were priced at CA$25 and could only be purchased in groups of four – sold out in under an hour.

“As we look ahead to the summer of 2021 and beyond, establishing best practices for live music events now is critical”

“As we look ahead to the summer of 2021 and beyond, establishing best practices for live music events now is critical,” says OFIT chair Mark Monahan. “In order to produce summer and fall events, rapid Covid-19 antigen screening is needed to demonstrate live concerts can happen safely.”

The concert was originally slated for 27 March but has now been postponed after the city’s chief medical officer of health said the city will likely limit outdoor public gatherings to 25 people next week.

The organisers say the event will be rescheduled “for the earliest possible date” should restrictions be tightened.

The concert is produced in conjunction with local promoter Live DNA, the team behind Ottawa Bluesfest, the Canadian Live Music Association, Ottawa Festivals Network, and the National Arts Centre. The organisers are producing the event under the guidance of Rapid Test & Trace Canada.


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Canadian venues and festivals to adopt Safe Travels stamp

Festivals, venues and other live music organisations will be able to display the Safe Travels stamp, a mark that their events meet certain safety and hygiene standards, as part of a new partnership between the Canadian Live Music Association (CLMA) and the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO).

The Safe Travels symbol, an initiative of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), was originally designed for the tourism sector in order to help travellers recognise businesses which have adopted the standardised health and hygiene protocols set out under the programme. The protocols for convention centres, meetings and events, as well as for attractions and for hospitality operators, can be found on the WTTC website.

TIAO is administering the Safe Travels programme on behalf on the entire country. A current list of approved Canadian Safe Travels applicants can be viewed here.

“The Safe Travels programme will help us all to feel safe when we re-engage with the live experiences we miss so much”

“We know that millions of Canadians are excited to return to live music just as safe as it is to do so. That’s why our members continue to invest heavily in the protection of fans, artists and crew, leveraging best practices from at home and around the world,” says Erin Benjamin, president and CEO of the CLMA.

“With thanks to TIAO’s leadership, the Safe Travels Stamp programme will help us all to feel safe when we re-engage with the music and live experiences we miss so much.”

The CLMA is holding a Safe Travels information session on Zoom on 4 March at 2pm ET, which can be registered for here. To apply for a stamp, visit the TIAO site.


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

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