UK govt abolishes business rates for small venues
Businesses with a rateable value of below £51,000 will not pay any business rates – the tax levied on non-domestic property in the UK – for the next year, in what comes as a boost to the country’s grassroots music sector.
UK chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the rates abolishment today (11 March) as part of the government’s budget for 2020, which focuses on how to ease the economic impact of the Covid-19 outbreak. The rates relief will run from April 2020 for twelve months.
Full business rates relief previously only applied to firms with a rateable value – the value used to determine payable business rates, based on size, location and other factors – of below £12,000.
“In our manifesto last year, the government promised to increase their business rates retail discount by 50%, but we can go further,” says the chancellor. “We are taking the exceptional step of abolishing business rates altogether.”
The tax cut, says Sunak, is worth over £1 billion and is set to save each business up to £25,000.
A review into the long-term future of business rates will be concluded by the autumn.
“We are taking the exceptional step of abolishing business rates altogether”
In 2017, a 4% hike in business rates saw the overheads paid by many small businesses across the UK skyrocket. Grassroots venues in particular have suffered, having remained exempt from the tax relief granted to other small retailers for years.
Venue operators across the UK celebrated a 50% cut in rates in January, calling it “a profound and positive step” for the sector.
That same month, iconic London music venue the 100 Club became the first venue in the country to receive full business rates relief, under a new scheme put forward by Westminster City Council.
The venue, which has played host to the Rolling Stones, Oasis and the Sex Pistols, has been on the brink of closure at least three times in the past decade, with a third of UK venues closing in the same time period.
Speaking at Futures Forum on Friday, Mumford & Sons’ Ben Lovett, who operates London venues Omeara and Lafayette, lamented the loss of many UK grassroots venues and stressed the importance of having venues of all sizes for artists to perform in.
Mark Davyd of the Music Venue Trust (MVT) comments: “Music Venue Trust very warmly welcomes additional measures announced by HM Government in the budget to tackle the developing crisis provoked by Covid-19. We are particularly pleased that alongside the additional cut to business rates, the challenges Covid-19 presents to the smallest grassroots music venues, many of whom are too small to be in the existing business rates system, will be addressed via the small business grant fund, providing grants of up to £3000 to manage the emerging negative impacts.
“The coronavirus outbreak presents a new challenge for the live music industry and this welcome step will be a lifeline for some at this critical time”
“It remains the case that too many grassroots music venues in the UK have rateable valuations which are simply too high to benefit from either of these measures,” continues Davyd, “and those venues will need additional measures bringing forward to enable them to withstand this crisis.
“We also welcome the commitment to a review of business rates to be carried out this year, with the hope that this review will finally result in the creation of an accurate and relevant classification for grassroots music venues that will see an end to them being unfairly penalised in this outdated system.”
Acting UK Music CEO Tom Kiehl adds that the chancellor should “be hugely congratulated” for scrapping business rates.
“Music venues are the lifeblood of our industry,” continues Kiehl. “However, many are fighting for survival and need all the help they can get to remain open.
“The coronavirus outbreak presents a new challenge for the live music industry and this welcome step will be a lifeline for some businesses at this critical time.
“We ask the Government to constantly review financial support available to music businesses and employees in response to coronavirus and consider making further changes.”
Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.
The industry’s new bosses shine at Futures Forum 2020
Futures Forum, ILMC’s event within an event for the next generation of live music industry leaders, returned for its sophomore outing on Friday 6 March, welcoming more than 200 young professionals for a packed day of panels, workshops, networking, TED-style ‘Soapbox’ sessions and career-boosting mentoring.
As in year one, Futures Forum, which takes place on the final day of the International Live Music Conference (ILMC), was also open to all ILMC delegates – bringing together the people that currently define the business with the emerging stars driving its evolution. This intra-generational ethos was reflected in the day’s programming, which included sessions on moving on from early career setbacks (Life After Your Star Act), learning from one’s seniors/juniors (OK, Boomer: Closing the generation gap) and more.
Futures 2020 kicked off with Meet the New Bosses: Class of 2020, which saw a quintet of IQ New Bosses, including Tomorrow’s New Boss 2020 winner Charly Beedell-Tuck (Solo Agency), discuss their respective routes to the top, as well as some of the most pressing issues facing under-30s in live music today, including wellness, sustainability, the importance of finding time for oneself, and loving what you do.
“You have to love it,” said Primary Talent’s Matt Pickering-Copley, “otherwise it can become unsustainable very quickly.
“A lot of people who don’t work in the [music] industry don’t understand why I’d fly to Sweden for one night to see a band, or go to all these events – Eurosonic, IFF, ILMC, etc. – but it’s so important to see people and be seen to be there. […] What’s the saying about working a job that you love? If you don’t actually really want to do this, that’s when it becomes unsustainable.”
“The people you work with end up being your friends,” added Karolina Hansen of Live Nation Sweden, “so if you get a stressed-out email, you know where it’s coming from. If you treat everyone like you want to be treated, when you find yourself in that situation – you’re the one sending the stressed-out email – you understand.”
“If you don’t actually really want to do this, that’s when it becomes unsustainable”
Supporting each other is really important, said Beedell-Tuck, who described being nominated for Tomorrow’s New Boss as “so important to me because so many of the nominees were my friends. It’s a small industry, so you end up seeing the same people all the time.”
Her advice: “Be mindful, and help each other. Some of my best friends are at other agencies, but we don’t see the need to be ultra-competitive. Be supportive; we ultimately all have the same interests.”
Running alongside Meet the New Bosses was the Ticket of the Future workshop, hosted by Ticketmaster’s Bonita McKinney and festival ticketing expert Lou Champion, as well as the first round of mentoring sessions, which provided a rare opportunity for delegates to meet face to face with some of the most successful figures in live music.
Mentors this year included Live Nation president of international touring Phil Bowdery, Paradigm agent Mike Malak, Dice UK managing director Amy Oldham, MAMA Festivals director Dave Newton, Mercury Wheels founder Barnaby Harrod and AEG Europe’s VP of venue programming, Emma Bownes.
Other highlights of the morning included two half-hour workshops – Getting Smart About Digital Marketing, led by Orchard Live’s Richard Samuel, and Assertiveness & Effectiveness at Work, hosted by leadership coach Prince Laryea – and the first four 15-minute Soapbox Sessions, with Eclipse Live’s Chin Okeke (‘Hello, Lagos!’), Blackstar Lodnon’s Olivia Hobbs (‘Being the boss sucks’), Dice’s Dave Brooks (‘Getting your dream gig’) and Extinction Rebellion’s Helena Farstad (‘The climate crisis and you’).
Following a five-star buffet lunch, the afternoon began in earnest with a triple-header of Mental Health: Next steps for live, the MMF-hosted workshop Actioning Change in Live Music and the aforementioned Life After Your Star Act panel, with agents Geoff Meall, Mark Bennett and Dan Silver and promoter Barnaby Harrod.
The mental health session was hosted by agents Matt Hanner and Sarah Joy of ATC Live, who opened by talking about their late colleague, Chris Meredith, who took his own life last year.
“The younger generation coming in now are wondering why people aren’t looking after themselves”
Adam Ficek, the Babyshambles drummer-turned-psychotherapist, spoke on the unique challenges posed by live: “There are no other industries like the music industry. It’s open-access, and open all hours, and you’re expected to put in as much time as you can.”
“The industry we work in is very interesting,” added Polish promoter Sara Maria Kordek, offering the artist’s perspective. “Suddenly you’ve got an artist [who achieves fame] and has lots of privileges, so they can get away with things you wouldn’t be able to do in a ‘normal’ job – you wouldn’t be able to have a drink before you check your emails in an office. But they’re expected to be at 100% all the time, to deliver, so they’re celebrating nearly every day.”
This is something that filters down to crew and other industry professionals, suggested Kordek, who described how she made a point of finding something to do (other than drinking) for her team on a recent 50-show tour. “We found cool things to do in each city, or went to a movie,” she explained. “You shouldn’t be partying every evening.”
Things are changing for the better, said Rich Mutimer from Paradigm, who spearheads the agency’s wellbeing initiatives. “The younger generation coming in now are wondering why people aren’t looking after themselves,” he said, “and that gives everyone a kick up the bum.”
The second round of Soapbox Sessions – ‘5 leadership lessons in 15 minutes’ with Key Production’s Karen Emmanuel, Tracie Storey’s ‘Finding balance with vibrational sound’ and ‘Show me the data!’ with Leon Neville – followed, running alongside ‘OK, Boomer’, a new session that paired up senior executives from leading concert businesses with their more junior counterparts to compare experiences and ways of working.
ICM Partners’ Kevin Jergenson opened the panel explaining he had interned with his now-colleague Scott Mantell for two summers, then started in the mail room before becoming Scott’s assistant and then an agent. Mantell said everyone needs a mentor, and for him, mentorship is about identifying young talent. And learning goes both ways – he said he’s learning a lot from Jergenson.
“Be kind. Do business with a smile”
Live Nation’s Phil Bowdery said encouragement is important. “You don’t want to stop people making mistakes, but one of the quickest ways to learn is to mess something up,” he explained. His colleague, Live Nation UK promoter Joe Schiavon, said for someone like him there’s a lot to learn from Bowdery, especially about working on arenas.
Jen Hammel joined CAA in 2013, having reached out to agent Maria May to say she wanted to work for her. May said the two are like a partnership, adding Hammel is fearless because she is so supported. “She inspires me to push further and do more,’ said May.
To conclude, the panel was asked what advice they would you give their younger selves. Jergenson said: “Remember you’ll get through it and you’ll still love it despite the personal sacrifices.” Mantell added: “Be kind. Do business with a smile.”
Bowdery agreed, adding he said it’s important to listen, learn and watch. Schiavon said the best way you can learn is by your mistakes – and be OK to make mistakes. May said she would advise her younger self to be brave and find people to work with that make you feel good about yourself. Hammel said her advice would be don’t be afraid to voice your opinion, especially if you’re the youngest in the room.
Futures Forum 2020 concluded with the Futures Forum Keynote: Team Mumford & Sons, which welcomed band member Ben Lovett, manager Adam Tudhope and agent Lucy Dickins to reflect on the band’s journey from banjo-plucking west London folkies to global superstars, with journalist and friend of the band, Paul Stokes, providing the questions. Read the full report here:
Futures Forum will return in March 2021.
Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.
‘We exist to tour’: Team Mumford do Futures Forum
Mumford & Sons’ live strategy formed the core of the Futures Forum keynote interview on Friday (6 March), featuring founding band member Ben Lovett, manager Adam Tudhope and agent Lucy Dickins, in conversation with journalist Paul Stokes.
“We are most passionate about the live side,” said Lovett, in a statement that proved almost superfluous over the course of the interview, given the palpable sense of enthusiasm he emitted while talking about Mumford & Sons’ past tours, their Gentlemen of the Road events and his own venues, Omeara and Lafayette.
Since the very earliest stages of Mumford & Sons – and even before they were known as such – the band members approached performing with a “sleeves rolled-up mentality”, unafraid of getting involved with staging and other aspects of putting on shows.
This resulted in a collaborative approach to touring, which remains to this very day. “I love the fact that it is always a conversation between us and the promoters,” said Lovett. “We respect promoters as a band – it’s in our DNA.”
The band officially formed in 2007, consisting of Marcus Mumford, Winston Marshall, Ted Dwane and Lovett, with Dickins and Tudhope coming on board as firm members of the team from the get go.
“We just toured non-stop,” said Dickins, who joined WME in May last year. “I’ve never seen a work ethic like it and that continues today.”
Lovett agreed that “the main reason Mumford & Sons exist is to tour”. The band’s most recent concert tour, Delta, saw them perform more than 60 dates at arenas across Europe, North America, Asia and Australia.
“I’ve never seen a work ethic like it and that continues today”
The mammoth tour sold 700,000 tickets in just a few days of going on sale, broke multiple attendance records and featured the band playing in the round for the first time. “It was very challenging but incredibly effective staging,” said Lovett, explaining there was a “sense of duty” to allow fans to experience their songs in a different way for their fourth headlining tour.
“We took some risks on Delta,” he said, “and on balance it really paid off. It really felt like there were connection happening between audience members throughout that tour.”
Forming meaningful connections in interesting places is at the heart of much of what the band do. The team revealed that upcoming plans to “go deeper into eastern Europe”, explore new “seemingly random places” and work with new promoters, were “scuppered” by the recent coronavirus outbreak.
“We really do have a really awesome idea up our sleeves,” said Tudhope, with the team hinting that plans would not be put on hold forever.
The band’s Gentlemen of the Road event series has seen them perform in many different places, travelling to small towns in the UK, Australia, the US, South Africa, and more.
“The culture clash is so beautiful”, said Tudhope, speaking of seeing tiny, off-the-beaten track towns inundated with festivalgoers, and local businesses benefitting from the event. “There’s a real community aspect.”
Dickins referenced the practical challenges of finding a suitable site for these unique events and curating the line-up. “It’s double, if not triple the amount of work but it’s worth every bit,” she said. “Enthusiasm drives it.”
“It was very challenging but incredibly effective staging”
From a business point of view, Tudhope said the events were a great way of gaining a true understanding of how promoters work, which has “really informed a lot of our own business decisions.”
“Promoters aren’t a bank for us,” added the Mumford & Sons manager. “They’re the enablers of a dream and you need a good relationship for that.”
If the experience of putting on their own events has enabled the band and team to develop a deeper understanding of how promoters work, then Lovett’s experience as a touring musician has informed him in his capacity as a venue owner.
Lovett, who owns and operates London venues Omeara and the recently opened Lafayette, stated that both fans and artists want something “unique” from venues, asking why the industry is pushing a more standardised “cookie cutter” model.
“Everybody wants to play Omeara because it’s so thought out from the artist’s side,” said Dickins. Artists that have performed at the 320-capacity venue include the Pretenders, Kodaline, the Maccabees, Beck and Circa Waves, with upcoming performances from Jake Bugg, Amy Wadge and Jesse Malin.
Lafayette (600-cap.) opened its doors last week with a performance by Brit Award-winner Dave and already has a full programme of upcoming events by the likes of Jack Peñate, D Double E and Hudson Taylor.
“The support I’ve received for Lafayette has meant the world,” said Lovett, adding that he has the lease on the venue for 25 years – equating to around 5,000 shows. “Just think of all the acts that are going to go through there.”
“For me, the sign of a successful band is longevity”
Lovett’s venue ventures have much to do with sustaining the live industry and providing artists with a place to perform. Lovett referenced the number of venue closures that have been seen in recent years, emphasising the damage that the secondary ticketing market is enacting on the grassroots level of the industry in particular.
Tudhope spoke of how the US leg of Mumfords’ Delta tour ended up generating “many millions” for the secondary market. “We didn’t want our fans to have to pay that money,” he said, explaining that it was the tickets sold at the affordable price band that were most heavily targeted by touts.
This experience “galvanised us really strongly to do something about it”, said Tudhope. Together with other managers and artists, the Mumford team has now created “a really good coalition” around anti-touting group FanFair Alliance.
Environmental sustainability is another area that the team is looking to improve upon. The band partnered with green touring specialist Reverb on its Delta tour to calculate – and later offset – carbon emissions, and create an eco-friendly touring template for future use.
“The key thing you have to commit to is spending money,” said Tudhope. “It costs money to be greener, that’s the reality.”
With sustainability remaining essential to Mumford & Sons’ ethos, it appears this will be a cost the band is willing to take.
“For me, the sign of a successful band is longevity, rather than number ones or show size, or anything else,” said Lovett. “All I want to know is: how can we do this for longer?”
The final countdown: ILMC week is here
The 32nd International Live Music Conference (ILMC) is kicking off tomorrow (3 March) in London, welcoming top music industry professionals for a wide range of panel discussions, keynote interviews and networking events.
The 2020 edition of ILMC features the conference’s most wide-reaching agenda yet, with sessions looking at the agency, ticketing, venue and festival sectors, as well as exploring green touring, mental health, the Insta-generation and life after losing a star act.
This year also sees the return of Futures Forum on 6 March, a forward-looking discussion and networking event created by young professionals for the next generation of live music industry leaders.
Highlights of the ILMC agenda include the ILMC Breakfast Meeting, which sees Dire Straits manager Ed Bicknell site down to interview fellow legendary artist manager Peter Rudge, and the Futures Forum keynote, featuring Team Mumford & Sons – founding band member and venue owner Ben Lovett, manager Adam Tudhope and booking agent Lucy Dickins.
The 2020 edition of ILMC features the conference’s most wide-reaching agenda yet
Elsewhere, ILMC’s main opening session The Open Forum: Universally challenged will consider the impact of Covid-19 coronavirus on the business, as well as other key topics; agents line up to discuss recent strategies for both emerging and established artists in The Agency Business 2020; urban music’s meteoric rise is examined in the Urban Legends: Hip hop on top panel; and the industry’s duty of care towards its workforce forms the centre of conversation in the Mental Health: Next steps for live session.
A packed ILMC workshop schedule will look at the impact 5G is likely to have on live music, the benefits video-sharing platform TikTok brings to the business, how to maximise the potential of digital marketing and the advantages of digital ticketing.
Outside of the conference programming, the best and brightest of the industry will be crowned at the ILMC Arthur Awards Winners’ Dinner on Thursday night and delegates will go head to head in a series of activities including the It’s a Copout game show night, as well as staples of the ILMC night-time programme table football and karaoke.
ILMC takes place at the Royal Garden Hotel in London from 3 to 6 March. Companies supporting this year’s conference include Live Nation, Ticketmaster, Eventim, Universe, Livestyled, Tysers, Joy Station, Mojo Rental and Showsec.
ILMC speaker spotlight: Jo Young, Ticketmaster
With the 32nd International Live Music Conference (ILMC) set to kick off in earnest next Wednesday, IQ has been catching up with some key speakers to hear what they have planned for the most-anticipated event in the live music calendar.
Following the previous speaker spotlight with AEG Europe/EAA’s John Langford, IQ chats with Jo Young from Ticketmaster, who is chairing the Meet the New Bosses: Class of 2020 panel at Futures Forum on Friday 6 March.
She’ll be joined by Solo Agency’s Charly Beedell-Tuck, Live Nation Sweden’s Karolina Hansen, the O2’s Marc Saunders, Primary Talent International’s Matt Pickering-Copley and Move Concerts Argentina’s Melanie Eselevsky, who’ll kick off the day with a discussion of their journey to the top and the skills needed to succeed in the modern live industry.
IQ: What do you expect to be the main talking points of your panel?
This was my favourite panel last year at the first Futures Forum – so the pressure is on to ensure this year’s is just as informative and entertaining! I’ll be asking the panellists how they ended up in their current role; there’s no one path into this industry, so it’s always fascinating to hear other people share how they ended up working in live.
This year I’d like to focus on any recent, positive changes they’ve seen in their time so far in the industry, and what they see as necessary areas for us all to improve for the next generation of new bosses.
How do you anticipate the session panning out with the latest round of New Bosses, as compared to last year?
I’d also like to build on a theme that emerged last year around how we all stay healthy and mindful, and ask them how they look after themselves in the more chaotic moments. There will also be the chance for any audience members to submit questions anonymously, so who knows where that could lead us…
“Last year’s inaugural event was such a breath of fresh air”
Is there anything else you’re particularly looking forward to seeing at ILMC/Futures?
Last year’s inaugural event was such a breath of fresh air – it inspired a lot of optimism to see such diversity in speakers. Hearing other people’s high points, hopes and frustrations was particularly valuable.
I, for one, am most looking forward to seeing the ‘OK, Boomer’ session this year – it’s inspired idea to get the senior execs and more junior counterparts to share experiences (particularly when those people are Phil Bowdery and Anna-Sophie Mertens!).
Meet the New Bosses: Class of 2020 takes place in room 1 at 10am on Friday 6 March.
ILMC 32 unveils third wave of speakers
A diverse and international group of industry professionals make up the latest round of speakers for the International Live Music Conference (ILMC) and Futures Forum, which take place in London in March.
The group, which join previously announced panel chairs and workshop hosts, as well as many high-profile guest speakers, includes representatives from Live Nation, ICM Partners, Paradigm, the O2 Arena, Fullsteam, Solo Agency and many more.
A highly international delegation of speakers come together for The Global Marketplace: Games without frontiers session, with representatives from Live Nation Asia, Korea’s International Creative Agency, UAE’s Flash Entertainment, Brazil’s Live Talentos and Singapore’s Midas Promotions, as well as a Kenyan-based agent from Austria’s Georg Leitner Productions.
Futures Forum is back with a bang on Friday 6 March, after a successful debut outing last year. The OK, Boomer: Closing the generation gap panel sees Live Nation’s Phil Bowdery and Anna-Sophie Mertens, ICM Partners’ Scott Mantell and Kevin Jergenson, and CAA’s Maria May and Jen Hammel join forces in an all-new session pairing up senior executives with their more junior counterparts.
Futures Forum is back with a bang, after a highly successful debut outing last year
More highlights on the future-focused day include the Meet the New Bosses: Class of 2020 session, chaired by Ticketmaster’s Jo Young, and featuring new bosses Charly Beedell-Tuck (Solo Agency), Matt Pickering-Copley (Primary Talent International) and Marc Saunders (the O2), three of the list of twelve future live music industry leaders selected by ILMC and IQ Magazine this year.
Following on from last year’s thought-provoking panel on wellbeing, the Mental Health: Next steps for live discussion, led by ATC Live’s Stacey Pragnell, will feature guest speakers Adam Ficek (Babyshambles/Music & Mind), Richard Mutimer (Paradigm), Aino-Maria Paasivirta (Fullsteam Agency) and Joe Hastings (Help Musicians) and look at how to formulate a healthier and happier industry for the future.
With over 100 speakers and 40 sessions over the whole conference, there are plenty of big names and exciting details left to be announced in the coming weeks.
ILMC is taking place from 3 to 6 March at the Royal Garden Hotel in London. Companies supporting this year’s conference include Live Nation, Ticketmaster, Eventim, WME, Universe, Livestyled, Tysers, Joy Station, Mojo Rental and Showsec.
ILMC launches 2020 edition, adds extra space
Organisers of the International Live Music Conference (ILMC) today launched the 2020 edition, which sees a second hotel added and more meeting and networking space than ever before.
The 32nd edition of the invitation-only event will see 1,200 delegates attend the main conference, with around 2,000 professionals at ILMC events across the week in total.
As well as taking place at the Royal Garden Hotel, ILMC’s traditional home, the nearby Baglioni Hotel will be exclusive to ILMC delegates.
“With the top promoters, agents, festivals and venues landing in London from over 60 markets, meeting space is always at a premium,” says ILMC head Greg Parmley. “Adding a second site responds to this increasing demand, gives delegates room to do more business, and allows us to expand our programming.”
“With the top promoters, agents, festivals and venues landing in London from over 60 markets, meeting space is always at a premium”
As well as ILMC itself, satellite events around the main conference include Futures Forum on Friday 6 March which invites an additional delegation of 250 young executives to discuss the future of the business; The Arthur Awards, the live industry’s top awards which takes place on Thursday 5 March; and the ILMC Production Meeting (IPM) and Green Events and Innovations Conference (GEI) on Tuesday 3 March.
Last year’s conference programme included keynotes from Roger Daltrey and Dua Lipa, and guest speaker slots from executives including Klaus-Peter Schulenberg (CTS Eventim), Tim Leiweke (Oak View), Michelle Bernstein (WME), Alex Hardee (Paradigm), Marsha Vlasic (Artist Group Intl.), Steve Lamacq (BBC 6Music), Phil Bowdery (Live Nation) and Bill Silva (Bill Silva Mgmt). The 2020 agenda will be published in January.
Companies supporting ILMC’s 2020 edition include Live Nation, Ticketmaster, CTS Eventim, Integro, MOJO Rental, Showsec, WME, eps, Aiken Promotions, LiveStyled, Universe, Feld Entertainment and Buma Cultuur.
The new website, which invites the world’s top industry players to travel to London for three days of ‘The Game of Live’ with the greatest masterminds in the business, is here.
The New Bosses 2019: Sophie Lobl, C3 Presents
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 last month 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 September edition of IQ Magazine.
All interviews have now been reproduced in full online and on IQ Index, but this is not the last you will hear from these promising young execs. The New Bosses will play a key role in the forthcoming edition of Futures Forum, the discussion and networking event for the next generation of industry leaders that debuted at ILMC 31 in March.
The final new boss is Sophie Lobl (28), global festival buyer at C3 Presents in Texas. Born in London, Lobl made her way to the United States after graduating from Leeds University in the UK. Starting her career at BBC Radio 1, she later went to WME, where she worked her way up from a receptionist to assisting Russell Warby, Ari Emanuel and, finally, Marc Geiger in the LA office.
In 2019, Lobl relocated to Texas to work for C3 in the newly created role of global festival buyer, where she works closely with the European Live Nation team on artist offers for 197 festivals worldwide. (Read the previous interview with United Talent Agency’s Sara Schoch here).
What are you busy with right now?
Booking festivals for 2020. We are in the middle of booking all the line ups for next year and about to announce the Austin City Limits schedule!
Did you always want to work in the music business?
Pretty much. I actually initially wanted to work in radio. I produced and presented a couple of shows on my student radio station in Leeds which led me into working as an assistant producer at Radio 1 and 1Xtra – I thought I was going to be Annie Mac! Then I discovered live and booking shows and there was no turning back after that.
What are some of the highlights of your career so far?
Working on Tom Petty’s last tour is one of the greatest memories I’ll ever have. He was a lovely man. Launching Lollapalooza Stockholm is also a true career highlight. We’re very excited for 2020, it looks like we’ll have a great line up.
“I discovered live and booking shows and there was no turning back after that”
How has your role changed since you started out?
It’s changed drastically. I went from working on reception and making coffee, to being (several) agents’ assistants, to now booking and managing my own multi-stage festivals. None of it was planned, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. C3 is an awesome company and I am incredibly excited about the projects I get to work on and also about some of the new projects we have in the pipeline.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt while at C3?
That’s a big question. I think never being afraid of trying something new is the main one. Launching a festival is terrifying and working in markets that are new to us can be daunting. Luckily, we have incredible partners on our international festivals that save us from losing our jobs.
What, if anything, would you change about how the live industry is run today?
I think just more inclusiveness generally across the board. It really is getting better and there are now far more opportunities for women and other minorities. But that shouldn’t even really be a thing, should it? C3 actually has a majority of women employees, especially in senior management positions. I think other companies are following suit.
“Never being afraid of trying something new is important – launching a festival is terrifying and working in markets that are new to us can be daunting”
What do you do for fun?
Hang out with my French Bulldog. His name is Francis. You should follow him on Instagram (@francislefrenchie).
Do you have an industry mentor?
[Live Nation vice president fo European Touring] Kelly Chappell has been my mentor, saviour and sister since the beginning of time. She really is the best. I don’t know anyone that works harder or that has such an incredible attention to detail as she has. She is so knowledgeable and wise and deserves all the recognition I can give her.
What advice would you give to anyone who wants to get into, or is new to, the business?
Work your bum off. None of this is easy and, although it may look glamorous, it really isn’t sometimes. But the hard work pays off and it really is worth it.
Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?
Sitting at home with ten french bulldogs? Probably doing exactly what I’m doing now. Maybe just a little better. C3 & S doesn’t really have a ring to it, does it?