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Futures Forum and MMF host artist development workshop

ILMC’s Futures Forum (FF) and the Music Managers Forum (MMF) joined forces this week for an event that saw emerging live music executives and artist managers discuss the future of artist development.

The workshop and networking drinks took place on Tuesday night (28 May) at The Garage in London, hosted by FF’s Lisa Henderson and MMF’s Svi Dethekar, with support from AEG Europe, AXS, The O2 and ILMC.

Attendees from companies including Runway Artists, ATC Live, X-Ray Touring, Royal Albert Hall, Live Nation, Red Light Management, Wildlife Mgmt, East City Management, AEG Presents and CAA attended the free admission event.

The 75-minute hosted debate saw the executives discuss barriers to developing and growing a fanbase in live music, strategies and innovative approaches to ensure a successful tour, and solutions to ensure the next-generation headliners rise to the top.

Discussing key considerations for developing an emerging act’s live career, one exec said: “Artists need to put in their 10,000 hours to be at a professional level. Patience is important – from both artists and managers – especially when you’re looking to build.”

Another exec added: “We need to help emerging artists understand that initially, they need to take ownership of their live career. It’s important that they have mentors and guidance on how the live music business works and how you can get paid – whether that’s via ticket sales or PRS. They also need an understanding of how the industry is changing.”

According to attendees, the biggest barriers to artist development include a lack of government funding, high audience expectations, venue availability, converting online fans to ticket buyers and the cost of touring.

“There was an awful lot of knowledge and passion in the room, especially around areas like grassroots and mid-level touring”

The latter was a major talking point for attendees when sharing their strategies and innovative approaches for a successful tour.

“You’ve got to be creative,” one attendee said. “Think about brands subsidising the costs of a tour, or using influencer marketing to reach new audiences.”

Other execs warned that artists should choose wisely when to go on tour and ensure that every show counts.

“Think about collaborations and providing something special for a fanbase,” said one attendee.  “Think about your marketing campaigns, creating interesting assets, and think about data capture to help plan future events.”

Exploring solutions to the aforementioned issues, attendees said they would like to see a UK ticket levy introduced to support grassroots touring. Execs also called for more transparency about where fees go and revenues flow.

“As Futures Forum continues to build out a year-round programme for its community of young live music professionals, the evening truly showed how creative the various sectors of the live business can be when they get together to collaborate,” says Greg Parmley, head of ILMC.

“We would especially like to thank Futures Forum’s annual partners AEG Europe, The O2 and AXS, for making unique moments like this possible.”

Manasvi Dethekar, membership secretary, MMF, added: “Working with Futures Forum was a really exciting collaboration for the MMF. Importantly, it was also an opportunity to capture views from a wide diversity of upcoming managers, booking agents, venues and others who are dedicated to building the live careers of artists. There was an awful lot of knowledge and passion in the room, especially around areas like grassroots and mid-level touring. We’re incredibly grateful to everyone who participated, and we’ll be using all the feedback we gained to inform some of the MMF’s upcoming projects.”

Futures Forum is a year-round platform for the next generation of live music industry leaders to forge relationships and exchange ideas.

The organisation hosts a one-day conference discussion and networking event in London each spring, on the final day of its renowned parent event, the International Live Music Conference (ILMC).

 


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Young execs place bets on 2024’s breaking acts

Young and emerging executives shared their predictions for 2024’s breaking acts, during last week’s Futures Forum.

Gurj Summan (Live Nation, UK), Kerem Turgut (All Things Live, UAE), Niklas Magedanz (Goodlive Artists, DE) and Caitlin-Finn Ballard (ATC Live, UK) swapped artist tips during the increasingly popular session, Now That’s What I Call 2024.

The panel, moderated by Midnight Mango’s Louise McGovern, shared three tracks each with the audience, as well as information on the artists’ journey, live careers and more. See a full breakdown below.

Double Back – Coco Jones
Gurj Summan, Live Nation, said: “I loved her voice. She came up through Disney and signed to Def Jam in 2022. This year she got nominated for five Grammy Awards and won Best R&B Performance over the likes of SZA and Victoria Monet, so she’s having a great year. We promoted a show for her at KOKO in Camden last year and it sold out.”

Poolside – Gia Ford
Caitlin-Finn Ballard, ATC Live, said: “I started working with Gia this year and she signed to Chrysalis a few months ago. That song is an allegorical story about a pool boy working in the Hollywood Hills and building up resentment against the people he works for… She’s taken a very cinematic direction, it’s very dark and broody. She’s an amazing live vocalist and is about to go on tour supporting Marika Hackman.”

Ainda Bern – Marisa Monte
Kerem Turgut, All Things Live, said: “In the UAE, we have over 200 nationalities and the Brazilian population is around 10,000. So we decided to book [Brazilian singer and composed] Marisa Monte. She’s going to play in Dubai at the end of November for two days because we are very confident she could sell over 2,000 tickets.”

www she hot – UCHE YARA
Niklas Magedanz, Goodlive Artists, said: “She is 20 years old, we started working with her when she was 19. She’s a talent that I have rarely seen… such an aura on stage and a unique sound. I describe her sound as Little Simz meets King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard. We’re doing the Germany shows for her first headline tour, this spring all across Europe. The best is yet to come.”

N.L.S (Nach Le Soniye) – Raf Saperra
Gurj Summan, Live Nation, said: “He is UK-born, from Lewisham. British-Asian and represents the culture. He has had an enormous trajectory in the last year. We had a sold-out tour and he recently got signed to Mass Appeal which is Nas’s imprint. Releasing a new album next week. He’s a mixture of two worlds, hip hop and Bhangra. In the Asian scene, he’s one of the most exciting acts to come out of the UK, selling out shows pretty much everywhere; America, Canada and Australia.”

Candyman – Loverman
Caitlin-Finn Ballard, ATC Live, said: “This is one of my newest signings, an Anglo-Belgium artist. I got a tip from Live Nation Belgium, they told me he was selling out his first tour after releasing his debut album. He had two sold-out ABs in Brussels and they invited me along to one of them. I completely forgot I was there for work, I had hairs standing up on the back of my arms… he’s got one of the best live shows I’ve ever seen.”

The City Holds My Heart – Ghostly Kisses
Kerem Turgut, All Things Live, said: “She’s from Canada and I had a chance to work with her in 2019 before Covid in Istanbul. She sold almost 1,000 tickets in Turkey and 2,000 tickets in Egypt. In 2022, we brought her to Dubai Opera House and sold over 1,300 tickets which is an amazing number for this kind of emerging act. The following year, she visited Bahrain and Kuwait and did very well. In 2024, she’ll come back to the region again.”

Follow Don’t Follow – orbit
Niklas Magedanz, Goodlive Artists, said: “We are all very excited about him in our office. He’s a special and introverted artist who makes music with his childhood friends. All that started to develop well during the pandemic, he gained millions of streams on his first singles and did a DIY tour in people’s backyards all over Europe. We have him on 1,000-capacity level in Germany. His debut album hasn’t even been released yet. He has a very active and strong fanbase and makes electronic music for indie kids and vice verse. He currently doesn’t have an international agent in place!”

Normal – Skrapz
Gurj Summan, Live Nation, said: “Skrapz has been around for a while but he’s a solid rapper. We just announced his headline show a few weeks ago and it sold out pretty much on the day. His album is out today (Friday 1 March), it’s called Reflections. He’s signed to UTA and he’s doing really well… really excited future ahead.”

Backseat Baby – Cosmorat
Caitlin-Finn Ballard, ATC Live, said: “It’s the first single they’ve released. They’re two introverted, nerdy sound engineers who are geniuses when it comes to recording and writing. It’s been a heartening experience working with them; I’ve realised that word of mouth is still so powerful because they had no team or money behind them. Attention has picked up bit by bit to the point that we’re now doing a big festival summer. Now, they’ve got a team in place and we’ve got some fun shows lined up for their EP launch.”

Pasoori – Shae Gill, Ali Sethi
Kerem Turgut, All Things Live, said: “This video has more than 700 million views on YouTube. The artist is from Pakistan but he lives in New York. We had the chance to host him in 2023 in Dubai, which sold over 2,000 tickets. In Dubai, we have almost two million Indians, and one million Pakistanis, so the South Asian community is very strong. And then we put him on our programme and the show was great. We are going to bring him to the region again in January 2025. I think he’s a great artist and he’s very strong in our market.

Aspiration – Zaho de Sagazan
Niklas Magedanz, Goodlive Artists, said: “We booked her to Reeperbahn festival in Hamburg last fall and I have never received so many festival offers for an artist in the first year, especially in Germany. In France, it’s going even better for her. She’s playing the Zenith in Paris already. We really hope that this great potential comes over to Germany sometime soon.”

 

See the full playlist for Now That’s What I Call 2024 below.


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Kilimanjaro Live trio hold court at Futures Forum

The team behind DEAG-owned UK promoter Kilimanjaro Live offered a few pearls of wisdom to the next generation in a keynote interview at Futures Forum.

The conference for young and emerging live music executives returned to London’s Royal Lancaster Hotel on Friday (1 March) to conclude the 2024 International Live Music Conference (ILMC).

The FF programme spanned the agency business, artist development, sustainability, the evolution of festivals and more, with speakers including Connie Shao (AEG Presents), Beckie Sugden (CAA), Louisa Robinson (FORM), Caroline Simionescu-Marin (WME), Lottie Bradshaw (TEG Live Europe), Sally Dunstone (Primary Talent) and Jess Kinn (One Fiinix Live).

Rounding off the event, three of Kilimanjaro Live’s principals – Stuart Galbraith, San Phillips and Alan Day – were quizzed by IQ‘s Lisa Henderson about building a modern music company, what they’ve learned on the journey, and how they see both their company and the broader business developing.

Formed in 2008, the London-based firm currently works with artists including Simply Red, Ed Sheeran, Andrea Bocelli, Hans Zimmer, Stereophonics and Don Broco. Here is a selection of key talking points from the session…

“The ability to make a living out of music is getting more and more difficult”

Diversifying the business…
Stuart Galbraith:
“The ability to make a living out of music is getting more and more difficult. As a promoter, the risk versus return ratio is atrocious. If you talk to accountants who come into audit our books, they look at you as if you’re mad: ‘You risk this much money to make this much money?’ And if you look at us as a margin business by comparison to any other sector, it just doesn’t make sense – particularly as the world has become smaller and global deals are coming to play, those margins are even more tight.

“So we’ve deliberately in the last seven years diversified [into] more businesses where there is a better market. There is less risk. And it enables us to then justify running a concert promoting business that, to be quite frank, as a standalone business is suspect. However, the fact that you can send an email and say that we promote Ed Sheeran, or we promoted Live 8, or we work with Andrea Bocelli, opens so many doors, and it’s still a very, very crucial part of our business.”

Artist development…
Alan Day: “Some of our biggest acts we met at the very bottom. One of our colleagues, Steve Tilley, met Ed Sheeran supporting Just Jack at Shepherd’s Bush Empire.”

SG: “Which lost £3,500.”

AD: “Sabaton, the metal band, I met at South by Southwest. There were 40 people there [and I] gave them my number. Their first show I did in London was at the Garage, then Electric Ballroom, then Koko… While She Sleeps played Ally Pally recently, first gig Borderline. Don Broco, I met in a bar at a festival where they were playing to 50 people and now we’re in arenas. So that’s how we get there from the get-go.”

“It’s a way of life rather than just a nine-to-five job, seven days a week”

Work-life balance…
San Phillips: “Something that I say to people new to the industry and to the company is that gigs happen at the evenings and weekends. So maybe what do you want when you’re 20, aren’t things you want to be doing when you’re 40, so be mindful of the kind of goals that you want in life. We do what we need to do to get it done. But we love going to gigs. We go to a lot together and that’s what it’s about. You’re not going to necessarily work regular hours, and obviously when you’re launching something, of course it’s time consuming. I’m not going to lie about that. You can’t teach people stamina and I think stamina is one of the things that you really need.”

SG: “Promoting was one of the few jobs where quite literally the more hours you put in, the more successful you’re potentially going to be. And if you look at Alan or Steve, it’s a way of life rather than just a nine-to-five job seven days a week. And if you’re going to go on holiday, the manager still wants to talk to you.”

Challenges for the year ahead…
AD: “Rising costs – from PAs, to security, to crews, riggers, trucking…”

SG: “As a promoter we’re invariably a function of the bottom line, we’re a percentage of what’s left. And those rising costs are unfortunately, as we predicted during Covid, being met by increased ticket prices. So we’re seeing huge escalation in ticket prices that are way beyond anything that we would have expected two years ago. That’s fine if we’re on an indoor tour where we’re working in a finite environment, but when you then come to outdoors and you’ve booked either festivals or small outdoor shows, it becomes very, very scary.

“We run the festival in Scotland called Belladrum, which is now Scotland’s biggest camping festival and our costs at Belladrum in three years have increased by a million pounds. And I just can’t put the ticket price up to match that. With Belladrum, we’ve been able to get a margin increase in capacity, which has helped offset that cost, but we’re having to accept that that festival now can’t be as profitable as it used to be.”

“If we had a discussion, we probably would have avoided making the biggest mistake in Kili’s history”

Biggest career lesson…
SG: “I think our biggest lesson was making sure that within your opinion, because it can be absolutely crucial. When we took Kili private in 2012, within a week, we launched Sonisphere at Knebworth. Within three days, it became very evident that we’d made a huge mistake, and when we took a final decision to cancel it, Alan came up with the line which was, ‘I knew it wouldn’t work. I didn’t think it was a good idea.’

“From that day on, we said, ‘Well, if you have an opinion, then you must express it – particularly in a team environment, because Alan’s viewpoint was absolutely correct. And if we had had a discussion, then we probably would have avoided making what was then the biggest mistake in Kili’s history.

“It was a mistake because we were ahead of our time because we booked Queen with Adam Lambert as the lead singer and Queen fans had not embraced Adam Lambert at that point in time. Now, Queen sell more tickets with Adam Lambert as the lead singer that they used to with Freddie Mercury. But in that particular year, no one wanted to buy the tickets – and Alan knew that.”

SP: “Everybody gets their voice heard. Anybody can come up to you, whatever their position in the company, and say, ‘Oh no, what were you doing that for? Why haven’t we chosen to do this?’ And they’re not told off… Everybody in the company is a [music] fan, and we encourage them to say things.”

 


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Team Kilimanjaro Live for Futures Forum keynote

Futures Forum has announced a keynote interview with the team behind Kilimanjaro Live, one of the most successful live music promoters in the UK.

The conference for young and emerging live music executives will return to the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London on Friday 1 March 2024 as part of the International Live Music Conference (ILMC).

For the final session of the day, three of Kilimanjaro Live’s principals  – Stuart Galbraith, San Phillips and Alan Day – will take to the stage to discuss building a modern music company, what they’ve learned on the journey, and how they see both their company and the broader business developing.

Formed in 2008, the London-based firm currently works with artists including Simply Red, Ed Sheeran, Andrea Bocelli, Hans Zimmer, Stereophonics and Don Broco.

Three of Kilimanjaro Live’s principals will take to the stage to discuss building a modern music company

With the Kili team now setting the bar in comedy, spoken word, theatre and exhibitions, the company’s growth and development have been seismic.

Just yesterday (22 February), the firm launched a new parent company to support its “major expansion”. The company’s 16 live entertainment brands will now operate under the new umbrella company KMJ Entertainment, owned by parent group DEAG.

News of the keynote comes days after Futures Forum unveiled the full speaker lineup for panels, which will span the agency business, artist development, sustainability, the evolution of festivals and more.

Speakers include Connie Shao (AEG Presents), Beckie Sugden (CAA), Maddie Arnold (Live Nation), Louisa Robinson (FORM), Caroline Simionescu-Marin (WME), Lottie Bradshaw (TEG Live Europe), Sally Dunstone (Primary Talent) and Jess Kinn (One Fiinix Live).

Limited passes are available for Futures Forum for just £125+VAT, which includes all of the above, a five-star lunch, refreshments, drinks, and networking opportunities. For more information or to purchase passes, click here.

 


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Futures Forum 2024 agenda ramps up

Futures Forum, the leading conference for the next generation of live music industry leaders, has unveiled the full speaker lineup for panels.

The fourth annual instalment of the gathering will again take place at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London on 1 March 2024 – the final day of its renowned parent event, the International Live Music Conference (ILMC).

The Agents vs Bookers panel is completed by CAA’s Beckie Sugden and Aimée Kearsley who will go head-to-head alongside Wasserman Music’s Alex Hardee and Holly Rowland, with Marc Saunders (The O2) set to lead the charge.

Joining the A&R in 2024: Unchartered Territory session are Maddie Arnold (Live Nation), Louisa Robinson (FORM), Caroline Simionescu-Marin (WME) and Lottie Bradshaw (TEG Live Europe). Sally Dunstone (Primary Talent) will spearhead the session.

A Greener Future: The Case Studies will see Nikoline Skaarup (DTD Concerts) discuss NorthSide Festival’s journey to going meat-free and Mark Stevenson (CUR8) explain The 1975’s carbon-removal shows at The O2. In addition, Mickey Curbishley will discuss how Solotech’s sustainability approach was redefined through their work on a Jonas Brothers concert. AEG Presents and Live Nation will also appear in this session.

CAA’s Beckie Sugden and Aimée Kearsley will go head-to-head alongside Wasserman Music’s Alex Hardee and Holly Rowland

Elsewhere, the Evolution of the Music Festival panel has gained Jamie Tagg (Mighty Hoopla), Daniel Lawson (GALA Festival/TOGETHERZERO), Jess Shields (Live Nation) and Bee Grzegorzek (Attitude Is Everything). The join moderator Ross Patel (Whole Entertainment/MMF Board).

Meet The New Bosses: Class of 2024 is now a full house, with Connie Shao (AEG Presents) in the moderator’s seat. Speakers are: Chloé Abrahams-Duperry (Ticketmaster), Vlad Yaremchuk (Atlas Festival), Jamie Shaughnessy (CAA) and Katja Thalerová (LALA Slovak Music Export).

Forming the speaker lineup for Now That’s What I Call 2024 is Melanie Eselevsky (Move Concerts), Niklas Magedanz (Goodlive Artists), Kerem Turgut (All Things Live) and Gurj Sumann (Live Nation), with Louise McGovern (Midnight Mango) at the helm.

Soapbox Sessions and the hotly anticipated Futures Forum Keynote will be announced soon.

Passes for the 1 March 2024 event are available for just £125+VAT, which includes all of the above, a five-star lunch, refreshments, drinks, and networking opportunities. For more information on Futures Forum 2024 or to purchase passes, click here.

 


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ILMC 36: Maria May, Robbie Balfour and more confirmed

A raft of moderators and partners for the 36th edition of the International Live Music Conference (ILMC) have been unveiled.

The three-day conference will welcome over 1,400 of the world’s top live music professionals from over 50 countries when it returns to the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London between 27 Feb and 1 March.

On the opening day, CAA’s Maria May hosts The Open Forum, while cultural disruptor Cliff Fluet from Eleven leads a discussion on the practical applications of AI for live music in Artificial Intelligence: Moving at light speed.

And on 29 February, The O2’s Robbie Balfour asks the pressing questions in Marketing: Planet-ing new ideas.

The Friday of ILMC (1 March) will once again be dedicated to the next generation of live music industry leaders, with the fourth edition of Futures Forum.

On the opening day, CAA’s Maria May hosts The Open Forum alongside a soon-to-be-announced panel of VIPs

Connie Shao from AEG Presents hosts the opening session, Meet the New Bosses: Class of 2024; Marc Saunders from The O2 dives into the details of working relationships in Agents vs Bookers, and AGF’s Claire O’Neill leads a deep dive into tried-and-tested practices and innovative solutions in A Greener Future: The case studies.

Also on Friday, Touring Entertainment LIVE (TEL) will see Tom Zaller from Imagine Exhibitions kick off proceedings in The State of The Nation whilst TEO’s Manon Delaury hosts Quick-Fire Sessions presenting the best up-and-coming productions available to book.

And finally, Semmel Concerts’ Christoph Scholz takes the helm in Standing Out in a Crowded Market, to examine how promoters and producers are finding unique paths to success; and Jonathan Shank from Terrapin Station Entertainment chairs We’ve got 99 problems & here’s how we solve them, to ask how the sector can work more collectively.

TEL is supported by TEO, Fever, and Semmel Exhibitions. The ILMC Production Meeting (on 29 February) has also announced a wave of partners including Freight Minds, eps, and Solotech.

Full information about ILMC 2024, The Arthur Awards, Futures Forum or TEL, visit 36.ilmc.com.

 


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ILMC’s 2024 mission to be ‘Out of This World!’

The 36th International Live Music Conference (ILMC) is welcoming a raft of industry supporters and launching a new dedicated satellite event for its 2024 edition, which takes place from 27 Feb-1 March 2024.

The three-day conference will welcome over 1,400 of the world’s top live music professionals from over 50 countries when it returns to the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London. The 2024 event sees live music professionals invited on a mission to explore new frontiers, topics and markets across the business.

Mission partners this year include Co-op Live, Manchester’s new arena which opens its doors in April 2024. Gary Roden, Executive Director and General Manager, Co-op Live said: “We’re over the moon to be supporting this year’s ILMC. We are putting the finishing touches on Co-op Live as we speak, locking in a series of incredible shows including multi-night and exclusives, and invite you to join us for lift off in April 2024.”

Also platinum partners for ILMC 36 are Live Nation and Ticketmaster, and John Reid, president EMEA at Live Nation said: “Live Nation and Ticketmaster are delighted to once again sponsor ILMC where in-depth discussions and the evening socials bring us all together. We are proud to continue to promote the industry and it is always an important opportunity early in the year for the business. We look forward to seeing everyone.”

“With an expanded schedule of events and such fantastic support from our stellar industry partners, ILMC 2024 looks like it will be truly out of this world!”

Other principal supporters on the 2024 conference include gold partners ASM Global and CTS Eventim, and silver partners AXS, DEAG and Showsec. ASM Global will also support ILMC’s Alia Dann Swift Bursary Scheme, which offers a complimentary conference pass and mentoring opportunities to 30 young professionals.

In addition to ILMC’s schedule of debates, workshops, keynotes and events, the conference also sees a new one-day satellite event, Touring Entertainment LIVE, dedicated to the global business of big brand live entertainment, exhibitions and touring family shows on Friday 1 March. Meanwhile, ILMC’s Central London showcase event, London Calling, takes place in additional venues across Soho for its sophomore edition on Weds 28 Feb.

On Thursday 29 Feb, The Arthur Awards – the international live music industry’s Oscar-equivalents – will be presented in front of 450 guests during a ceremony compered by CAA’s London co-head Emma Banks. And the following day sees Futures Forum take place, the one-day event for young live music professionals with all ILMC delegates encouraged to attend.

“We are proud to continue to promote the industry and it is always an important opportunity early in the year for the business.”

“Over 2,000 professionals now attend an ILMC event during the conference week,” says ILMC head Greg Parmley, “And with more meeting space that ever, an expanded schedule of events, and such fantastic support from our stellar industry partners, ILMC 2024 looks like it will be truly out of this world!”

The 2023 edition of ILMC welcomed speakers including Marty Diamond (Wasserman Music), Doc McGhee (McGhee Ent.), Maria May (CAA), Phil Bowdery (Live Nation), Jessica Koravos (Oak View Group), Obi Asika (UTA), Marie Lindqvist (ASM Global Europe) & Detlef Kornett (DEAG).

Full information about ILMC 2024, The Arthur Awards, Futures Forum, London Calling and the new Touring Entertainment LIVE day is at 36.ilmc.com.

 


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ILMC’s Futures Forum to return in 2024

Futures Forum, the one-day discussion and networking event for the next generation of live music industry leaders, is returning next year.

The fourth instalment of the gathering will again take place at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London on 1 March 2024 – the final day of its renowned parent event, the International Live Music Conference (ILMC).

The meeting of the two events will bring together the people who currently define the business and more than 200 emerging execs who are driving its evolution.

The announcement of the flagship event follows last night’s sold-out Futures Forum 2024 launch party at Oslo in Hackney, London. The party was sponsored by AEG Europe, AXS and The O2, who are supporting a planned expansion of Futures Forum activity across the next 12 months.

“On behalf of everyone at The O2, AEG Europe, and AXS, we’re really super proud to be supporting Futures Forum 2024,” said Marc Saunders, senior programming manager at The O2, at the event. “It’s an honour standing here today and meeting so many ambitious and hard-working individuals like yourselves – we really do believe in nurturing young talent.”

“We’re really excited to be involved with the initiative because, at the end of the day, it’s supporting the next generation of live, which is all of you in this room.”

The announcement of the flagship event follows last night’s sold-out Futures Forum 2024 launch party

Futures Forum has taken place in 2019, 2020 and 2023, featuring keynote interviews with Dua Lipa and her father Dugi, Team Mumford & Sons (Lucy Dickins, Ben Lovett and Adam Tudhope), and Wasserman Music’s Marty Diamond, respectively.

As with previous editions, the 2024 edition will experiment with non-traditional conference formats, mixing connected discussions with immersive workshops, peer-to-peer networking and TED-style ‘Soapbox’ presentations by thought leaders.

The agenda will again be steered by a council made up of some of the most exciting young executives in the industry, alongside affiliated associations, the ILMC agenda team and the IQ editorial team.

The 2024 event capitalises on the success of Futures Forum’s new online platform and newsletter, which connects the international community via essential content and exclusive events.

Passes for the one-day event start from £125 + VAT. For more information or to buy tickets, click here.

 


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Marty Diamond charms ILMC’s Futures Forum

Renowned agent Marty Diamond regaled ILMC with stories of Ed Sheeran, Coldplay and Barack Obama during the Futures Forum 2023 keynote interview.

Having founded the celebrated boutique agency Little Big Man Booking in 1994 and after stints working at International Talent Group (ITG), Arista, PolyGram and Bill Graham Management, US-based Diamond is regarded as one of the most forward-thinking executives in the business. His current roster includes acts such as Coldplay, Sheeran, Liam Gallagher, Janelle Monáe, Sigur Rós and Lorde.

Discussing his path through the agency world, the EVP and managing executive of Wasserman Music brought this year’s conference at London’s Royal Lancaster Hotel to a close last Friday (3 March). Here are a selection of standout moments from his hour-long conversation with BBC Radio 1’s Abbie McCarthy…

“I started to have clients that meant something. But I also realised that I didn’t have the ability to service them the way that I probably should have”

Starting Little Big Man Booking…
“I either was somebody who couldn’t hold down a job, or had the attention span the span of a gnat. But ultimately I worked for a company called ITG, which was owned by Wayne Forte and Michael Farrell. Their clients were Duran Duran, Jesus Jones, David Bowie, Genesis, Phil Collins and The Cure. They were the gold standard of agencies. They were two really good people, but all good things come to an end and I was kind of at a loss because the partnership split up and I was at this crossroad of, what do I do? I was asked by each of them to come to work for them, and I realised that I probably should just go and do something on my own. I moved across the street to my friend Jim Grant’s office. The office he was giving me was a storage closet for one of his bands’ guitars. It was about 5ft x 5ft. But I started Little Big Man in [that] office. I had a handful of clients, and I originally started with one employee, a guy named Larry Webman. Larry is still with me. And then I hired this girl Tammy [Shin-Sprotte], who also worked at ITG.”

Moving to Paradigm…
“We had become a very successful little boutique agency. We moved out of that little space that was a phone closet, to Lower Manhattan on Sixth Avenue, and I started to have clients that meant something. But I also realised that I didn’t have the ability to service them the way that I probably should have. I went to work for a company called Paradigm, which I worked at for 15 years.”

“I remember Chris Martin saying to me, ‘I’m excited to be working with you. I have no intention of ever working in America'”

Discovering Ed Sheeran…
“A very good friend of mine, Scotty Brothman, told me that his label was signing this kid, Ed Sheeran, and I should be on it. I went to see Ed play in, I want to say it was Guilford, in a tiny little club. I’m not very tall, so a lot of times I go to shows and I look at the back of people’s shoulders. And I literally watched the entire show – other than the moment that Ed stood on a chair in the middle of the room – through someone’s cellphone under a dripping air conditioner. I ended up sitting on the steps outside his dressing room talking, and we became friends and I’m very happy to be a part of this team. It started in a little nightclub in Guilford, and now we’re doing 20 sellout stadiums in America.”

Working with Coldplay…
“It’s over 22 years for me and Coldplay. Phil Harvey, who’s part of the management team, was the original manager. Larry and I sat with Phil in a restaurant over by Shepherd’s Bush Empire to try to convince him to sign with us – this is when we were at Little Big Man – and we wouldn’t let him leave the restaurant until he said we represented the band. And then I went to see Coldplay at V Fest. I think it was their first round of festivals and they were on the second stage early in the day. And I remember Chris [Martin] saying to me, ‘It’s really great to meet you. I’m excited to be working with you. I have no intention of ever working in America.’ It was a moment of silence. But they’re amazing, and 22 years later, they’re in the midst of a massive stadium tour.”

“I remember President Obama bending down on his knees to talk to my daughter”

Career highlights…
“David Gray selling out Madison Square Garden during White Ladder… was an amazing moment. I actually think Ed playing Madison Square Garden might have been one of the most sensational moments in my life. I remember going to see Ed Sheeran on the first tour he did in America. He supported Snow Patrol, who were another client, and I had Janelle Monae in Washington DC the same night – she was doing the White House Easter Egg Roll when the Obamas were in the White House, so I was with my family during the day on the White House lawn with Janelle Monae. We got to meet the president, who I actually really liked – I can’t say that for many of our presidents – and I remember President Obama bending down on his knees to talk to my daughter. That was the beginning of my day. And the end of my day was sitting with Ed Sheeran, who at the time was smoking a cigarette after opening for Snow Patrol. I think we were three days into his presence in America and he’s like, ‘So when we play Madison Square Garden?'”

“I sleep three or four hours a night. My phone is next to my bed – probably not the best behaviour in the world”

What his average day looks like…
“I’ll give you my average day Los Angeles version, New York version and London version. They all start the same. The most important thing in my life is my family. My two girls are the most important thing. If I’m in LA, it’s 3am or 3.30am in the morning, I call my daughter Story to wake her. I called her at 11.30am today from London to wake up. I wake her in New York at 6am or 6.30am. That is the start of my day. Then I put my head down and I have a phenomenal team of people that I work with.”

The secret to his longevity…
“Well, I’ve been clean and sober for over 30 years. I think that’s part of it. Surrounding myself with good people is a really big part of it, and enjoying the people that I’m around. My girls are a big part of my longevity, they keep me strong, and they keep focused about being a sensitive, caring person. I fucking hate Mondays. I guess Bob [Geldof] was right when he said that, but I struggle with Mondays, I have a really hard time finding my rhythm. I don’t sleep a lot: I sleep three or four hours a night. My phone is next to my bed – probably not the best behaviour in the world. I get texts and emails from people saying, ‘When do you sleep? Why aren’t you asleep?’ A lot of times, I have no idea where I am so that sometimes plays a part!”

 


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Futures Forum: Closing the Generation Gap

The fascinating differences between the generations on the professional side of the business were explored during ILMC’s Futures Forum.

The OK, Boomer: Closing the Generation Gap, Part II session was chaired by Debbie McWilliams, from the Scottish Event Campus, and leaned on the experiences of CAA agents Maria May and Bilge Morden, and promoters Raye Cosbert (Metropolis Music) and Peter Thomsen (Kilimanjaro Live).

While May and Cosbert harked back to a time when their generation helped make the rules and by definition had to be entrepreneurial, Morden noted that millennials and Gen Z staff desire more feedback from their elders, hoping to be guided through their careers, rather than being allowed to follow the wrong path and waste any time.

“The review we get once a year doesn’t really work for millennials – it’s very important to keep them motivated and engaged, otherwise they are likely to move on,” warned Morden. “Millennials will leave a job for less pay, if it has more purpose.”

But underlining just how much busier today’s live music environment can be, Morden disclosed, “We have the Helter Skelter [agency] roster framed on the office wall, and that entire roster is probably smaller than the roster that many agents personally have today.”

“Women in live did not really exist back in the day – and that was the same with colour, people with disabilities… The change has all been positive”

May acknowledged that the commitment to invest in people’s success has brought about significant changes in the business. “We need to create an environment where we can retain staff,” she said. “We spend so long investing in them that you want to keep them and develop them into future bosses.”

However, sounding a note of caution for younger people who want to climb the ladder quickly, May admitted, “It took me about ten years to become a really good agent – and I wasn’t firing on all cylinders until I was six or seven years in. But those years allowed me to make mistakes and learn from that, so it was good that it took a moment.”

Thomsen, who started at Kilimanjaro as an intern, told Futures Forum delegates, “The internship was super-helpful, but very much [because] I figured out how to make it work for me: I sat next to ticketing and learned about that; I asked marketing if they needed help… so, I got to know how the company worked, and when they were hiring promoter reps, I told them that’s what I wanted to do, and they fortunately gave me the break.”

Thomsen also applauded Kilimanjaro for the way it emboldens staff to be creative. “It’s about making sure everyone feels that they contribute, and their ideas can be heard. There’s a lot of intelligence and creativity at all levels of employee,” said Thomsen.

Cosbert pointed out that it has been the younger generation that has driven change when it comes to concerns like gender balance, equality and diversity. “Women in live did not really exist back in the day – and that was the same with colour, people with disabilities,” said Cosbert. “It’s the younger generation that have made my generation embrace that a lot
more. The change has all been positive – being more inclusive. People did not consider it years ago.”

“WhatsApp does not work for me. I urge my team to pick up the phone because you can solve multiple things quickly, rather than send multiple emails”

Such concepts, said Cosbert, are also changing the way companies conduct themselves strategically. “Rather than think what’s the best for your company, the change is that you need to think what is best for your people,” he stated.

May agreed, “We need young people to come into the business and work with us: it’s the job of senior management to adapt and make that happen… People are choosing to work at different places based on how the [employers] treat their workers.” Indeed, May urged young delegates at Futures Forum to “Ask questions in interviews – what is your gender split? What is your diversity policy?”

While CAA colleague Morden admitted to liking the office environment, he observed that many younger people do not feel the need to be in an office to get the job done. May opined, “If we’re together three days a week, we can see where things are going wrong and can help each other.”

On communications, she added, “WhatsApp does not work for me. I urge my team to pick up the phone because you can solve multiple things quickly, rather than send multiple emails.”

On the related subject of the work/life balance, each guest spoke about music being a vocation, meaning those working in live music often view that balance in a different way. Thomsen summed this up by saying, “Our work and personal life intertwine and it depends how people handle that from person to person. If I only think about and care about music, that does not make me the most productive person.”

“My advice to younger folk is if in doubt, ask. There’s always someone who will have an experienced view that you can use”

Addressing mental health and the work/life balance, May, concurred it can be a tricky tightrope. “When I was in my 20s, in the 1990s, it was a bit of a blur, so I’ve realised I need to take breaks – a week here, three days there. But even then, I’m still on my phone quite a lot. I’m trying to reach that place where I do have balance – but I love what I do, so I think I do have balance.”

While Cosbert and May urged others to use their ears, rather than rely too heavily on data, the latter conceded that technology had undoubtedly made their lives easier. “Leading a department that churns out thousands of contracts, tech has obviously made that easier,” she said. However, she countered, “Sometimes it turns me off when people are spouting data rather than talking about a track and how it makes them feel.”

That struck a chord with Cosbert. “The younger generations have access to immediate information that I did not have coming up through the industry,” he said. “But there’s so much information coming in now, it’s about putting filters in place… [In turn] I have to pass on my knowledge correctly to help them grow. My advice to younger folk is if in doubt, ask. There’s always someone who will have an experienced view that you can use.”

While the session’s panellists highlighted a slate of differences between the ways that each generation operates, Cosbert concluded, “Our priorities and pathways and goals are pretty much aligned. The live business is a people business. We get paid for doing something we love, but we often tend to forget how it can affect you when you are engrossed in it, and how it can burn you out.”

 


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