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Wasserman promotes nine, creates orchestral arm

Talent agency Wasserman Music has announced the promotion of nine team members, as well as the creation of a dedicated orchestral division.

Promotions include London-based agent Holly Rowland, who started out at Wasserman precursor Coda in 2014, and serves clients including Louis Tomlinson, Rag’n’Bone Man, INJI and Liang Lawrence.

Other promotions include New York-based Alex Christie (agent), Annie Cole (manager, touring), Owen Hynes (manager, tour marketing) and Noah Plotnicki (agent), Nashville-based Anna Kathryn Groom (manager, brand partnerships), and Los Angeles-based Kara Klein (manager, brand partnerships) and Lindsay Roblesi (agent).

In addition, Miami-based agent Brittany Miller, who joined Wasserman precursor AM Only in 2014, moves to the agency’s global festivals department as director, festivals, focusing on electronic music events around the world.

“Nurturing and advancing the careers of talented members of our global team is central to our culture of support and empowerment, so we’re proud to announce these well-earned promotions,” says Lee Anderson, Wasserman Music EVP and managing executive. “Continually creating new ways to super-serve our clients is our core mission, and it’s most gratifying when we’re able to do that by elevating exceptional Team Wass colleagues to serve them even better.”

“Emily has been able to see the enormous opportunity in the live symphonic space beyond just talent booking”

Meanwhile, in a “first-of-its-kind” move for a major talent agency, Wasserman has also announced the creation of a new dedicated orchestral division headed by VP Emily Threlfall Yoon.

The new division represents IP-driven symphonic properties such as SQEX’s Final Fantasy VII REBIRTH World Orchestra Tour and the dozens of titles produced by Disney Concerts, including Marvel Studios’ The Infinity Saga Concert Experience, as well as a group of conductors, orchestrators, and arrangers.

The division will also partner with artists across Wasserman Music’s client roster, such as John Legend, Melissa Etheridge, Laufey, and Zedd, to conceive and produce new popular programming symphonic projects.

“Emily has been able to see the enormous opportunity in the live symphonic space beyond just talent booking,” adds Anderson. “By working as a creative partner with artists and IP-driven properties – whether movies, TV, video games, or pop music – Emily and our new orchestral division are taking the music that people love in their everyday lives and presenting it in exciting new ways to fans of all kinds.”

 


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Futures Forum 2024: First speakers confirmed

Futures Forum, the leading conference for the next generation of live music industry leaders, has revealed the first raft of speakers and moderators for 2024.

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 first confirmed speakers include Wasserman Musics Alex Hardee and Holly Rowland, who will appear together on the Agents vs Bookers panel, which aims to lift the lid on the inner workings of agency partnerships.

Chairing that panel is The O2s Marc Saunders, who will conduct in-depth discussions and quickfire question rounds to test the pairs’ knowledge of each other and their rosters.

Gurj Summan will be one of four panellists to swap tracks, tips and tales of the artists that are dominating their playlists

Elsewhere, former New Boss Connie Shao (AEG Presents) will moderate Meet The New Bosses: Class of 2024, featuring a quartet of the most promising 30-and-unders in the international live music business.

While Claire O’Neill (A Greener Future) will take the helm for A Greener Future: The Case Studies. She’ll welcome a panel of sustainability pioneers from festivals, venues and tours, who will share their tried-and-tested practices and innovative solutions.

And finally, Gurj Summan (Live Nation, Festival Republic) will be one of four panellists to swap tracks, tips and tales of the artists that are dominating their playlists, during Now That’s What I Call 2024.

For more information on Futures Forum 2024 or to purchase passes, please click here.

 


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The habit he can’t break: Louis Tomlinson returns to the road

Usually, when an act completes a world tour, they come off the road for an extended period to rest, record new material, and then typically two or three years later the wheels are set in motion for an album release, promo, and tour dates. Louis Tomlinson did not get that memo.

His first solo tour ran late due to the pandemic restrictions, meaning that by the time it concluded in September 2022, his second album, Faith in the Future, was scheduled to drop and tickets for the associated tour were ready to go on sale.

“This tour went on sale last October or November – basically a year in advance,” explains agent Holly Rowland, who represents Tomlinson alongside Alex Hardee, internationally, while Wasserman Music colleagues Marty Diamond and Ash Mowry-Lewis do likewise for North America.

Despite that quick turnaround between tours, Rowland reports that ticket sales for the current tour are going very well indeed. “The first leg went through Scandinavia before doing the Baltics and Eastern Europe – Romania, Bulgaria, and Greece – places that most people, especially arena-level acts, don’t really go. And the second leg, which is more mainland Europe, started on 2 October.”

The tour is big. Very big for just a second outing in his own name. Between May and July this year, Tomlinson played 39 dates in the US and Canada across a mix of amphitheatres, arenas, pavilions, and stadiums. In August, he returned to Europe, where he is currently is in the midst of another 39 dates in arenas across the continent and the UK, which will take him to 18 November. Then, in early 2024, the Faith in the Future tour goes to Australia for two outdoor dates in Melbourne and Brisbane, before he takes the show to the country’s biggest indoor venue, the Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney.

“The tour before obviously was a Covid tour where the dates had to be chopped and changed. The positive aspect of that was that we were able to upgrade venues where that made sense”

And, as IQ went to press, Tomlinson released dates for a return to Latin America in May 2024 for a mix of indoor and outdoor shows, including stadia, across Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, and Uruguay.

“We’re going to Australia and part of Asia early next year,” states artist manager Matt Vines of London-based Seven 7 Management. “We then go into Latin America in May and June. And then we’ll handpick a selection of festivals next summer, before we draw the line on the campaign at the end of the summer.”

Rowland comments, “The tour before obviously was a Covid tour where the dates had to be chopped and changed. The positive aspect of that was that we were able to upgrade venues where that made sense. But it was really nice to start from scratch on this tour to make sure the routing was all going in the right direction.” She reports, “We’ve done nearly 16,000 tickets in Amsterdam, and 14,000 in Paris, which I think just underlines his credibility as an artist and his growing reputation among fans.”

Back to You
Playing a major role in shifting that ticketing inventory is a network of promoters also enjoying Tomlinson’s rising star.

“On this tour, it’s mainly Live Nation – we use a lot of the One Direction promoter,” explains Rowland. “But for Greece, we used Honeycomb Live, Charmenko did Romania, 8 Days A Week promoted the three shows in the Baltics, All Things Live did Finland, Fource are doing Prague, it’s Gadget in Switzerland, Atelier in Luxembourg, and when we get to the UK, it’s SJM, and MCD in Ireland.”

With a total of 39 European dates, Rowland split the outing into separate legs, scheduling a break after Scandinavia, the Balkans, Baltics and Athens, Greece and another after mainland Europe ending in Zurich, Switzerland.

“Louis has a real desire to perform to fans in markets that are often overlooked”

“It’s a perfect ratio, if I do say so myself,” she laughs. “It was right to split it up – 39 dates is a long, long tour, especially with the American tour throughout the summer being 11 weeks! We made sure to schedule days off, for everyone to recharge their batteries.”

In Spain, Nacho Córdoba at Live Nation promoted Tomlinson’s shows in Bilbao, Madrid, and Barcelona and reports sell-outs at each of the arenas involved.

“When Louis was last here, it was three days before the pandemic shut everything down in Spain. In fact, I think he played the final show before the market closed because of Covid,” says Córdoba.

“Last year, Louis organised his Away From Home festival in Fuengirola, and that also sold out, so we know he has a big following in Spain, and we also know that Spanish fans are super loyal. So, on this tour we sold out 7,000 tickets at Bilbao Arena Miribilla, 13,600 tickets at WiZink in Madrid, and 11,200 at Palau St Jordi in Barcelona.”

Already looking forward to Tomlinson “and his fantastic team” returning on the next tour, Córdoba believes it will be important to see what happens with the next album – and Tomlinson’s expectations – before making any plans.

“The most important thing is to keep the fans happy and keep the momentum building with Louis,” he states. “I am a big fan of the arenas, because the atmosphere at his shows was incredible. So, rather than look at going bigger, it might be a case of looking at other arenas in other markets. Whatever he does, we cannot wait to have Louis back in Spain.”

“He’s kept the ticket prices reasonable – and he never wants to do any gold circle or VIP tickets. I think that’s why he’s so close to his fans, because it’s not about maximising profits”

Stefan Wyss at Gadget abc Entertainment in Switzerland promoted Tomlinson when he visited Zurich’s Hallenstadion on 23 October and explains that he previously played the city’s Halle 622 venue on the first tour.

Recalling that debut solo outing, Wyss tells IQ, “At first, we announced a mid-size theatre club show, 1,800-capacity, but it sold out instantly. Then we moved it to Halle 62, which is 3,500-cap, and that also sold out immediately, so it was a really big success.

“They’ve invested a lot in the production of this current tour, and it’s doing really strong numbers, so that’s why we decided to go to the arena this time around, where we set a mid-size capacity of 7,000, which is good for a small market like Switzerland, especially because he’s coming back just one year later and playing a much bigger show.”

Wyss adds, “He’s kept the ticket prices reasonable – and he never wants to do any gold circle or VIP tickets. I think that’s why he’s so close to his fans, because it’s not about maximising profits. Another reason for his success is that in addition to attracting a mainstream audience, he’s also getting the music lovers because he’s just a very good songwriter and has brilliant songs.”

Wyss also notes that with many young fans typically arriving the day before the concert, the responsibility to look after them is extended.

“We set up toilets, we have security overnight, we give water away. It’s part of the organisation that we will take care of the fans.”

Fresh from announcing 12 dates across Argentina, Brazil (x 3), Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Peru, Paraguay, Panama, Puerto Rico, and Uruguay, promoter Fabiano Lima De Queiroz at Move Concerts reports that Tomlinson will visit a mix of arenas, as well as stadiums in Santiago, São Paolo, and Buenos Aires during his May tour.

“Louis really looks after his fans. On the last tour they did a deal with Greggs [bakery chain] to give free food to the people waiting in line, as some of them camped out for days in advance”

“Our first tour with Louis was supposed to be in 2020 and we’d booked half arenas everywhere – 5,000-6,000 capacities,” he informs IQ. “Louis was one of those acts who connected very well with the fans during the pandemic, so when we shifted the dates, first to 2021, and then to 2022, we ended up selling out and having to upgrade in certain metropolitan markets.

“In Santiago, for instance, we’d sold out two full arenas of 13,000 cap, but then the government declared that for mass gatherings the numbers needed to be limited to 10,000 people.”

Rather than let fans down, Move added a third date, which again ended up selling out. “I remember being on a night plane from Miami, while Matt Vines was flying in from Dallas, and we were both using the aircraft wi-fi to negotiate via text for that third show,” says Queiroz. “It was an interesting way to confirm putting the third date on sale, just three days before the actual show!”

He adds, “We’re taking a big bet on this tour when it comes to the number of cities and the capacities of the venues, but we’re hoping for the best, and we’ve gone out strong. We feel that the artist is in a good moment and that the latest album has just created more interest, so we’re looking forward to when he arrives in May.”

Further north, Ocesa will promote three dates in Mexico, including a stadium show at the F1 circuit, Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, deepening Tomlinson’s footprint in that crucial North American market.

Meanwhile, in Tomlinson’s homeland, Jack Dowling at SJM is promoting seven UK dates in November at arenas in Sheffield, Manchester, Glasgow, Brighton, Cardiff, London, and Birmingham, which will round out the European leg of the tour.

“We have a responsibility to look after [the fans]. Coming to a show should be a safe space, it’s where they find joy, and we have a responsibility to protect that”

“SJM has done every show Louis has been involved with, including all the One Direction arena and stadium shows,” notes Dowling, adding that on the first tour, the London show was originally pencilled in as a Roundhouse, then two Roundhouse shows, before finally being upgraded to Wembley Arena.

“This time, The O2 arena show in London will be sold out, while all the others have passed the expectations of where we wanted to be on this tour. In fact, when the UK dates were announced, it ranked as the fourth most engaged tour on social media in SJM’s history – his fans are just nuts.”

But Dowling also reports that the fanbase for Tomlinson is expanding. “The demographics are pulling not just from pop but also from indie rock now.”

Dowling adds, “Louis really looks after his fans. On the last tour they did a deal with Greggs [bakery chain] to give free food to the people waiting in line, as some of them camped out for days in advance.”

Out of my System
Ensuring his fans are looked after properly is the number one priority in Tomlinson’s live career.

Noting that Tomlinson’s audience comprises mainly young women and girls, Rowland reveals that, at the artist’s insistence, a safety team has been added to the tour to ensure everyone that attends his shows is looked after. “They manage all the safety within the shows for the fans,” she explains. “They came in for the Wembley show last year and have been with us ever since – they’ve been beneficial to the running of the tour.

“When he played in South America, some of his fans were camping outside for a month. So we have a responsibility to look after them. Coming to a show should be a safe space, it’s where they find joy, and we have a responsibility to protect that.”

Manager Vines comments, “One issue that we came up against almost all last year was crushing and fans passing out. We adopted a system where we could communicate with fans, who could hold up a mobile phone with a flashing red-and-white sign if they were in trouble but then we’d see them all popping up.

“I don’t know whether some of that was a hangover of the pandemic where fans just weren’t used to being in venues. But we experienced a number of situations where hydration and temperatures in venues became an issue. I know Billie Eilish went through similar issues.”

“I get detailed incident reports after each show… So far on this tour, we haven’t had any issues with crushing or hydration, which is fantastic”

With Tomlinson determined to meet a duty of care toward his fans, Vines says that the team now sends a “considerable advance package” to promoters ahead of their tour dates. “Our safety team goes into venues in the morning and basically ensures that a number of different things are in place – making sure that water is given to the fans, where the water comes from, and at what points in the show it happens.”

And on the crushing phenomena, he reports, “We’ve worked out how many fans it’s safe to have without a secondary barrier. So we instruct promoters to have certain barriers in place to relieve that pressure and avoid crushing.”

He adds, “I get detailed incident reports after each show, which lets myself and my management team know exactly what happened, and so far on this tour, we haven’t had any issues with crushing or hydration, which is fantastic.”

Production manager Craig Sherwood is impressed by the way the tour has pivoted to protect the ‘Louies.’ “The welfare officers are vital for the young girls who are aged from, I guess, 14 upwards. They can get dehydrated and malnourished pretty quickly if they are camping out for days, so it’s important that we look out for their wellbeing,” says Sherwood.

Citing the extremes that the Louies will put themselves through in an effort to secure themselves prime positions at the front of the stage, Sherwood recalls, “The first show on our US tour was in February, and it was freezing, but we found out that girls had been camping out on the pavement for five days. It’s crazy, as we know these young girls are coming from all over the world to see Louis.”

However, Tomlinson’s connection with those fans is evident in the level of merchandise sales at each show. “It’s a huge part of our business,” says Vines. “In America, we averaged about $36 a head, and it’s not much shy of that in Europe – we’ve set a few national records in terms of spend per head. But we spend a lot of time on merch plans, and we do venue-specific drops and give it a lot of care and attention, as it’s a really important element of Louis’ business.”

“We don’t do dynamic pricing, we don’t do platinum ticketing, we don’t do paid VIPs, we don’t increase ticket prices on aisle seats – all those tricks that everyone does that most fans don’t know about: we don’t do any of those”

We Made It
Making sure that the Faith in the Future tour delivers Tomlinson to his growing legion of fans, PM Sherwood’s long association with artist manager Vines made him the obvious choice when the artist first began his solo career.

“I remember doing a lot of promo dates around the UK and US before we started touring properly,” says Sherwood of his work with Tomlinson. “In fact, one of the first shows I remember doing with Louis was in Madrid when he played in a stadium, and I could see it was a taste of things to come.”

The partnership between Sherwood and Vines is crucial. “In terms of the show growing, our biggest challenge is keeping costs down, because we’re extremely cautious on ticket pricing,” says Vines. “We don’t do dynamic pricing, we don’t do platinum ticketing, we don’t do paid VIPs, we don’t increase ticket prices on aisle seats – all those tricks that everyone does that most fans don’t know about: we don’t do any of those.

“So, when it comes to the production side of things, we need to be incredibly careful. But I’ve been working with Craig for a decade, and he knows the importance of trying to keep costs as low as possible. For instance, we’ll run the show virtually a number of times so Louis can watch it with the show designer, Tom Taylor, make comments and tweak things. Then we’ll go into pre-production. But we try to do as much in virtual reality as possible before we take it into the physical world.”

Sherwood states, “Basically, we started out with two or three trucks, but now we’re up to nine, and things seem to be getting bigger day by day.”

Thankfully, Sherwood has amassed a vastly experienced crew over the years, allowing them to handle even the most unexpected scenarios. “I’ve been touring since the dawn of time, but the core crew I work with now have been together since about 2010, and I trust them implicitly, so I leave it up to them who they hire, as long as they think I’m going to like them, and they’ll get along with everyone. So far, it has worked well,” Sherwood reports.

And that veteran crew has dealt with some terrifying weather extremes on the current tour, including a show at Red Rocks in Colorado where the audience were subjected to a freak storm with golf ball-sized hail stones injuring dozens of people.

“We need to tweak the rigging on a daily basis, as we move to different venues”

Elsewhere, the crew has had to act quickly when the threat of high winds in Nashville caused problems on that outdoor run. “We didn’t want the video screens blowing about above the heads of the band, so it must have been amusing for the audience to see us taking them down,” Sherwood reports.

Indoors in Europe, the environment has been more controllable. The production itself involves an A-stage set 180 degrees across the barricades, although Sherwood says that on occasion a catwalk is also used by the performers.

“It’s a great lighting show and fantastic for audio, as we have a phenomenal front-of-house sound engineer – John Delf from Edge Studios – who makes life very easy for the rest of us,” says Sherwood. He also namechecks Barrie Pitt (monitor engineer), Oli Crump (audio system designer), Tom Taylor (lighting designer), Sam Kenyon (lighting technical director), and Torin Arnold (stage manager), while he praises Solo-Tech for supplying the sound, and Colour Sound Experiment (CSE) for taking charge of lighting, video, and rigging equipment.

Indeed, CSE has ten personnel out with the Faith in the Future tour. “We have eight screens on the road – six on stage plus two IMAGS that we use wherever appropriate,” the company’s Haydn Cruickshank tells IQ.

“We need to tweak the rigging on a daily basis, as we move to different venues, but other than that it’s a fairly smooth process thanks to Craig Sherwood. He is old-school and planned and worked on the production very far in advance, which is a great scenario for all involved. Craig is definitely one of our favourite production managers to work with.”

“Post-pandemic, the number of long-haul flights still aren’t as frequent as they were. As a result, the production is being reverse-engineered”

Garry Lewis at bussing contractors Beat The Street is also a fan of PM Sherwood. “Craig split the European tour into different runs. So, from Hamburg to Zurich, we had two super high-decker 12-berth buses for the tour party and two 16-berth double-deckers for the crew,” says Lewis. “After the show in Athens, we still have the two super high-deckers, as Louis loves them – he prefers to spend time on the bus, rather than in hotels – but we also have two 12-berth super high-deckers for the crew, as well as another crew 16-berth double-decker.”

Lewis continues, “We’ve worked with Craig for a good few years, and we have a great relationship with him. He plans everything way in advance, so it means it’s all very straightforward for us with no issues. So, we use single drivers for each bus, except on the longer runs or when our drivers are scheduled for prolonged breaks, and then we’ll fly in extra drivers as needed.”

If I Could Fly
With the production travelling to Australia in early 2024, before shifting to Latin America, Andy Lovell at Freight Minds is gearing up to become involved with Tomlinson once again.

“We’ve never failed anywhere to open the doors on time, so we know we’re capable of getting things done, even if we have a late start at mid-day”

“We did the Central and South America dates on the tour last year, and onto Mexico,” says Lovell. “It was very challenging back then as we were still coming back from Covid, and various systems and infrastructure were in pieces. But it all went well in the end, as we kept an eye on things and worked on it every day to make sure we had solutions to everything that was thrown our way.”

Lovell continues, “Things on this tour kick in early next year for us. Historically, Australian services were quite reliable, as we could use any number of airlines. But post-pandemic, the number of long-haul flights still aren’t as frequent as they were. As a result, the production is being reverse-engineered with the budget being worked out before we can see what we can afford to take as freight, and then we try to plan accordingly.

“Similarly, in Central and South America there are still just a fraction of the flights operating, compared to pre-Covid, so that makes it very challenging. If there aren’t the flights to handle the gear, then you have to start looking at chartering aircraft, or alter your schedule, and that can become very expensive, very fast.”

With everyone working on the artist’s behalf to make sure the tour remains on track, being able to call on such experienced production experts is paying off on a daily basis.

Sherwood notes, “There are a few back-to-back shows over long distances that occasionally mean we don’t arrive at the next venue until 11am, rather than 6am. But we’ve never failed anywhere to open the doors on time, so we know we’re capable of getting things done, even if we have a late start at mid-day.”

Such dilemmas are not lost on agent Rowland. “It’s not so much the routing, it’s more like the timings, because Louis does have two support acts, so the show starts at 7 o’clock, and then when we’re done, we need to load out to get to the next show in good time for loading in the next morning and soundchecks, etc.”

Nonetheless, Sherwood admits that he loves the trickier venues and schedules. “Because I’m a dinosaur, I relish anything that makes things difficult or awkward for us on the production side of things,” he says. “I think everyone on the crew looks forward to challenges and finding the solutions to problems.”

“We have this amazing platform where we can put these bands in front of these audiences as a showcase that allows them to build these authentic new audiences”

Common People
Having amassed millions of fans through his association with One Direction, Tomlinson very much has a ‘pay it forward’ attitude to music and is building a reputation as a champion for emerging talent, wherever he performs.

“He’s a great advocate for alternative music,” says manager Vines. “Louis realises that he’s in an incredibly privileged position in terms of what he can create in terms of awareness. He loves alternative music and indie music, and he understands how hard it is for that music to be heard. But we have this amazing platform where we can put these bands in front of these audiences as a showcase that allows them to build these authentic new audiences. It’s a huge part of his love of music, wanting to help younger bands.”

Rowland agrees. “He took an act called Andrew Cushin – a very new artist – on the road in America with him as his support, and he’s doing the same for Europe. Louis is a fan and is championing his career.

Indeed, Tomlinson’s A&R skills have knock-on effects for his agent, too. “He asked me to confirm the Australian band Pacific Avenue as support for his Australian tour last year. The music was great and they didn’t have an agent, so now I’m representing them!” says Rowland.

Perfect Now
As the European tour speeds toward its conclusion, agent Rowland is enjoying every minute of it. “It’s incredible – they’ve really stepped things up,” she says, fresh from seeing the show in Athens and Paris. “They’ve got 6 hanging LED screens on the stage, and the whole production just looks polished and professional.”

And Rowland is especially excited about next year’s Latin American dates, which will deliver her first stadium shows as an agent. “The return to Latin America is going to be huge – Louis is playing arenas and stadiums in South America and Mexico: 15 shows across 11 countries,” she says.

“He loves his fans, and he loves performing for them, it’s as simple as that. He just loves being on the road and seeing how the songs connect live”

Vines is similarly enthused. Harking back to the Covid situation, when a show would go on sale, sell out, be postponed, and then rescheduled in a bigger venue, Vines says, “For example, in Chile, originally the show was scheduled at a 5,000-cap, half-capacity arena in Santiago. And what we ended up doing was three nights at 10,000-cap in that same venue.”

Vines contends that Tomlinson’s work ethic is outstanding. “He loves his fans, and he loves performing for them, it’s as simple as that,” he says. “He just loves being on the road and seeing how the songs connect live. In fact, the second album was very much written with the tour and live shows in mind – ‘This song could work live,’ ‘This one will open the set,’ ‘This is the one we can do for the encore.’”

Fearless
Another element to Tomlinson’s psyche has been his decision to visit places off the usual tour circuit. “Louis has a real desire to perform to fans in markets that are often overlooked,” says Rowland.

Manager Vines explains that while the Covid-delayed first tour allowed them to upgrade venues pretty much everywhere, “On this tour, we’re a bit more competent on venue sizes, but we still speculate a little bit in different territories. In Europe, for example, we’ve gone into the Baltics and a number of different places to test the markets there, while in America, we are looking at A and B markets but also tertiary markets as well – we go to places where people just don’t tour in America, just to see what the reaction is. That was something that very much interested Louis – to play in front of people who don’t normally have gigs in their town. So there’s been a lot of experimentation on this tour in terms of where we go and what room to play.”

“Louis also is extremely fan-focused in everything that he does. He comes at it from a perspective of ‘I want to take the show to them'”

That concept is something that Vines has employed before. “I manage a bank called Hurts who were pretty much overlooked by the British radio system and we have spent 15 years building a business outside of the UK. And that was built on going to play at those places where people didn’t normally go. They built to multiple arena level in Russia, for instance.

“If you can build fanbases in lots of different places, you have festivals that you can play every summer, as well as touring those places. It allows you to have more consistency over a number of years, by having more opportunities.”

Such a strategy found a convert in Tomlinson. Vines tells IQ, “Louis also is extremely fan-focused in everything that he does. He comes at it from a perspective of ‘I want to take the show to them,’ meaning he’s always more willing to take the risky option to try something out.”

And the results? “It’s a combination,” concludes Vines. “There have been a couple of places where we now understand why tours don’t go there. But there’s are more places where it’s worked incredibly well. For example, we enjoyed incredibly good sales in Budapest. And overall, it’s allowing us to get a clearer idea, globally, of where the demand is, which will help us when we go into the next tour cycle.”

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The New Bosses 2023: Holly Rowland, Wasserman Music

The 16th edition of IQ Magazine’s New Bosses was published in IQ 121 this month, revealing 20 of the most promising 30-and-unders in the international live music business.

To get to know this year’s cohort a little better, IQ conducted interviews with each one of 2023’s New Bosses, discovering their greatest inspirations and pinpointing the reasons for their success.

Catch up on the previous interview with Gilbert Paz, vice president of live entertainment business operations at Loud And Live (US). The series continues with Holly Rowland, an agent at Wasserman Music (UK).

Holly Rowland began her career as an apprentice at Coda in 2014 before moving into an agent assistant role. She worked across DJ clients advancing shows, before moving to work with agent Sol Parker, and was promoted to booker for Alex Hardee in 2018. Holly was then promoted to an agent in June 2022. She works with artists such as Louis Tomlinson, Rag’n’Bone Man, INJI, Pink Sweat$ and Annika Bennett.


You’ve worked with both DJ clients and touring artists. What’s the main difference from an agent point of view about those two worlds?
The DJ world can be non-stop with clients jetting all over the world, every weekend with no real off cycle! The live plans of touring artists are still mostly strategised around traditional album campaigns and often require months (and a lot of times, years!) of pre-planning.

You’ve worked through the ranks at the company to become an agent in your own right. What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
I started at Coda Agency as an apprentice in 2014 so it has been quite the journey to being promoted to agent, that’s a big highlight in itself! With this job the small wins are just as exciting as the big ones, selling out the first headline show with someone like INJI is as much of a highlight as an O2 Arena in London with Louis later this year.

Last year you booked all of Louis Tomlinson’s international dates. Can you talk about that experience, and who you count on to bounce ideas off?
It truly is a team effort between his manager Matt Vines, Alex Hardee, myself and our global promoter partners. It’s a huge conversation to make sure we’re picking the right markets, the right rooms and making sure Louis is giving the best experience he can for his diehard fans.

Who on your roster should we all be looking out for in the year ahead?
Pink Sweat$, Lilian Helper, Annika Bennett & Pacific Avenue.

“Building your network of managers, lawyers, publishers and publicists is just as important as listening to all the new music”

Where is your favourite venue?
Anything north of the river… I live in Hertfordshire!

As a new boss, what would you like to change to make the live entertainment industry a better place?
Making entry-level jobs accessible to all by offering real starting salaries so that people from all backgrounds can begin their journey in the music industry. So often you have to work for free to ‘get in’ or below minimum wage meaning paying rent in London is not viable.

What events, tours or festivals are you most looking forward to in the year ahead?
Louis Tomlinson has another action-packed year ahead, so keep your eyes peeled there. Rag ‘N’ Bone Man is back with new music and my developing acts will be embarking on their first tours in different global territories which is an exciting feeling.

What advice would you give to anyone who is trying to find a job in live music?
Do your research. Be specific when you contact people, why are you getting in touch with them, is it because of a particular band they work on that you admire, or something else within their career that you relate to?

As an agent, are there any particular events, forums or platforms that you visit to try to discover the next big act?
There are so many places to discover new music, I do love Spotify, I’ve found a few of my artists through the platform. Music is a relationship business though, so building your network of managers, lawyers, publishers and publicists is just as important as listening to all the new music you can find.

 


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Wasserman’s Holly Rowland on the rise of Louis Tomlinson

Wasserman Music agent Holly Rowland has spoken to IQ about Louis Tomlinson’s 2023 European arena tour.

The former One Direction star is to embark on a 39-date outing across 28 countries next year, having recently completed a pandemic-delayed tour that spanned 57 dates in Europe, South America, Asia and Australia.

“Louis wanted to go everywhere,” says Rowland, who represents Tomlinson with Wassmerman’s Alex Hardee.

“One Direction never really toured Europe extensively – they did the major cities and the stadiums – but they never went to Eastern Europe for example. During their solo careers, Harry Styles has never done it and Niall Horan has never done it.”

Rowland believes that unlike Styles and Horan, who have also carved out solo careers since the best-selling boyband disbanded in 2016, Tomlinson’s worth is often underestimated.

“When I say I’ve booked a 39-date arena tour for Louis, people can’t believe it,” Rowland tells IQ. “They don’t believe his sales or the fact he has his own festival.”

“Even markets which are typically late sellers are nearly sold out even though the concerts are still a year away”

If Tomlinson was overlooked before, it all looks set to change now. Last Friday (18 November), the star beat Bruce Springsteen to score his first solo UK No. 1 album with ‘Faith In The Future’ via BMG. At the same time, ticket sales for his forthcoming tour are “really strong” despite going on sale a year in advance.

“It will sell out,” says Rowland. “London’s The O2 [cap. 21,000], for example, is on 90% and even markets which are typically late sellers, like Greece, are nearly sold out even though the concerts are still a year away.”

Rowland says it’s thanks to a symbiotic album-tour campaign that Tomlinson’s sales are strong on both the recorded and the live side.

“You wouldn’t typically go on sale with a tour so early but we needed to go out before the album so we could get the pre-orders,” she explains. “Synchronicity with recorded and live has sometimes been missed before but now, more than ever, it’s so important. An artist does well because their whole team is across everything and is communicating with each other.”

Rowland and Tomlinson’s team are particularly proud of the ticket prices for the tour, which start at £27.50 regionally.

“He’s a man of the people,” she says. “For example, he won’t do any golden circles or platinum or flexible ticketing or increased isle seating or paid meet-and-greets. That’s his philosophy.

“He won’t do any golden circles or platinum or flexible ticketing or increased isle seating or paid meet-and-greets”

“The issue nowadays is costs are going up so you have to cover your base but also keep it fair for the customer. The promoters crunched the numbers on their side and there was a lot of back and forth on the ticket price but obviously, the tour is spread across multiple dates so that helps. Plus it’s something Louis really wants to do.”

Promoters working on Tomlinson’s forthcoming tour include Live Nation (Slovenia, Hungary, Bulgaria), 8 Days a Week (Baltics), Pop Farm (Greece), Follow The Step (Poland), Charmenko (Romania), Fource Entertainment (Czech Republic) and SJM (UK).

The Faith In The Future 2023 outing is the follow-up to Tomlinson’s first world tour, which concluded in September, having been pushed back due to the pandemic.

Highlights from the tour include South America – “one of Louis’s biggest markets” – which saw the star sell 30,000 tickets in Brazil, 30,000 in Buenos Aires and 21,000 in Mexico.

Rowland also notes an open-air show in Milan, Italy, at the beginning of September, which saw 34,000 tickets fly off the shelf in 48 hours.

2022 also saw the evolution of Tomlinson’s own festival, Away From Home, which launched last year in Crystal Palace Park, London, and was free to attend.

“Louis’s fanbase is so loyal and they hang on every word he says”

This year the event moved to Malaga in Spain and featured The Vaccines, Sun Room, Stone and Hinds, all of whom performed alongside Tomlinson. This time around the event was ticked and Rowland says it sold 15,500 tickets in two days.

“I programmed it [alongside Louis] so it was quite fun to be on the other side of things, being the promoter and offering out supports to agents,” says Rowland.

Launching a festival was the natural progression for Tomlinson, who is known to hand-pick his own tour supports – many of whom go on to see great success, according to Rowland and Hardee.

“His fanbase is so loyal and they hang on every word he says,” says Rowland. “He’ll go onstage after the support acts and say ‘How amazing were they, go out and follow them,’ and that’s what his fans do because they really believe in him and trust him.”

Rowland notes that Tomlinson’s fanbase is surprisingly young – between 14–18 years old – which translates into strong merchandise sales, thanks to the parent pound.

“He can’t hide from his past in One Direction but we need to respect his path and see him for the artist he wants to be”

“What’s crazy is that his fanbase is so young, they weren’t even around when One Direction were having their heyday. They must’ve found the band through siblings or something…” she notes.

When asked if it has been difficult to extricate Tomlinson from his previous work in One Direction, Rowland says: “He can’t hide from his past – One Direction were one of the biggest boybands of all time – but we need to respect his path and see him for the artist he wants to be and not who he was.

And as for comparisons to his former bandmates’ solo careers, she adds: “Harry is pop, Niall is more singer-songwriter and Louis is indie. That’s the music he loves and you can see that through the acts he requests to support him. It’s time now to shine the light on who he is.”

 


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