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The New Bosses 2021: Talissa Buhl, FKP Scorpio

The New Bosses 2021 – the latest edition of IQ’s annual celebration of the brightest young talent in the live business today, as voted for by their peers – was published in IQ 103 this month, revealing the 12 promising promoters, bookers, agents, entrepreneurs that make up this year’s list.

To get to know this year’s cohort a little better, IQ conducted interviews with each one of 2021’s New Bosses, discovering their greatest inspirations and pinpointing the reasons for their success.

Catch up on the previous 2021 New Bosses interview with Paris Harding, promoter at SJM, UK, here.

Born and raised in Oldenburg, Germany, Talissa Buhl always wanted to live in Hamburg, where she has been for the past nine years. After leaving school, she travelled through Australia and New Zealand, and then decided that rather than studying, she wanted to do something more hands-on.

She secured an apprenticeship at Kontor Records but her main interest was always the live music business. Indeed, Buhl recalls being at Hurricane Festival in 2010, and realising she’d love to work behind the scenes. Six years later, she started working with FKP’s festival booking team, booking Hurricane (among many other festivals), and now she leads the team.


Do you think working on the record label side of the business helped you in your career on the festivals side?
The entertainment industry is not one dimensional. It’s important to try to have a good understanding and knowledge of the landscape we work in, in its entirety.

I’d applied for an apprenticeship at FKP before I worked at Kontor Records but didn’t get the job at the time. This was the best thing that could’ve happened because in the end working at the label gave me enough experience to get a proper job in the festival department.

As a new boss, what one thing would you change to make the live music industry a better place?
More diversity within the industry, and on festival bills. There’s still room for improvement and the whole industry needs to be aware of its responsibilities. It’s incredibly important to be proactive and not reactive on this subject. We must include diversity in our conversations from the start of the process, whether that’s booking a festival or hiring staff.

“It’s incredibly important to be proactive and not reactive with more diversity within the industry, and on festival bills”

What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
Getting to where I am now is something that I’m proud of as someone who didn’t have any family members or friends working in the music business – and especially as a woman in a very male-dominated industry. I remember being at Hurricane Festival in 2010, saying that I’d love to know what it might be like working behind the scenes of such a big festival. Six years later, in 2016, I started at FKP’s festival booking team, actually booking Hurricane festival (among many other festivals), now even leading the team.

What are you most looking forward to as the pandemic restrictions are lifted?
I can’t wait to be in front of a stage again to experience live music and to witness the actual result of my work. I’m also really looking forward to being able to meet friends and family again without having to worry too much about restrictions. Just like it was before the pandemic, but hopefully with some improvements!

“The biggest challenge FKP Scorpio and I has been finding a Covid-clause for the contracts that everyone can agree to”

What’s the biggest challenge for you and the FKP Scorpio team in the year ahead?
Honestly, probably something really boring such as finding a Covid-clause for the contracts that everyone can agree to. Other than that, we need to be able to adapt to the ever-changing landscape around us. We have to be aware of possible cancellations and have solutions in our back pocket so that we can keep fans and artists happy.

We’ve heard a lot about the closer collaboration between agents and promoters during the past year. What’s your experience of that been, and how do you see it developing as the business reopens?
I have really enjoyed getting to know more agents on a more personal level and sharing our experiences when we speak, rather than just talking about festival slots and arguing over money or billing. I hope that’s something we can maintain!

What advice would you give to anyone who is trying to find a job in live music?
You don’t need to go a conventional road (e.g. university). Your network and patience are way more important. Always trust your gut and don’t forget to take holidays. You have to take care of your own mental health and be mindful of those around you.

 


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