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Best of 2022: Lucy Dickins – A tale of two cities

This festive period, we are revisiting some of our most popular interviews from the last 12 months ahead of the return of our daily IQ Index newsletter on Tuesday, 3 January. Here, WME’s global head of contemporary music and touring Lucy Dickins reflects on her path to the top…

Having left ITB just three years ago, Lucy Dickins’ rise through the corporate ranks has been extraordinary. Looking back on her first 25 years in the music industry, she tells Gordon Masson about her path to the top, transforming WME, the philosophy behind her clients’ triumphant return to touring and splitting her time between London and Los Angeles.

As the newly appointed global head of contemporary music and touring for WME, Lucy Dickins is one of the most influential people in the global music business. At the time of speaking to IQ, she has just relocated to Los Angeles and is sitting in her new Beverly Hills office suite, complete with a generously stocked bar. “I’m not going to lie, I’ve made a fair old dent in that already, and I’ve only been here a week,” she states, revealing the irreverent, self-deprecating charm that has helped her amass an army of allies throughout the music industry, as well as a steadily growing list of A-list talent.

Her impact on WME has been transformational. Having been appointed to head the company’s music division in London in June 2019, her leadership during the initial months of the pandemic prompted the corporate giant to promote her, one year later, to co-head of the company’s music division globally, alongside Kirk Sommer. At IQ’s press time she was elevated again, taking on the global head of contemporary music and touring role.

And while her confidence and skills as one of the world’s foremost talent agents are undisputed, there’s one significant person who questions her rapid ascent up the corporate ladder. “I’m my own worst enemy,” she admits. “I just get mad imposter syndrome. But then I start actually doing the role and I realise I’m really good at it.”

One long-term admirer is former WME chief Marc Geiger who reveals his campaign to lure Lucy to the company took patience. “To me, the available choices to helm WME in the UK were very low when considering the people who could rise up the ranks,” he says. “I was looking at who I thought had the upside potential to be both an executive and a super-uber signer.

“It’s like being a sports coach: you look at potential, and Lucy was the best choice in the world. I didn’t know how difficult it was going to be to convince her to leave ITB – that legacy and that family business. But I also felt that situation was holding her back from being one of the biggest agents in the world.”

“Everyone else saw my roster, but Marc saw something in me that I didn’t even know existed; that I could be a great leader”

Lucy contends, “The whole process of leaving ITB took about a year. WME approached me first, and then when the rumour got out that I might be looking elsewhere, everyone else came knocking at the door. But I really liked Marc Geiger. Everyone else saw my roster, but Marc saw something in me that I didn’t even know existed; that I could be a great leader. But to achieve that I needed to prise myself away from ITB, and he gave me the confidence to do that.”

Stating that she wanted to make her mark in any new workplace, she continues, “WME’s London office wasn’t necessarily in the best of places – it was a bit of a satellite operation, and if there was a scramble to sign a new act, you’d be up against CAA, and you’d be up against Coda, but you’d never hear the name WME. I wanted to change that and put my imprint on it, and while I didn’t quite know if I had that in me, Marc Geiger believed in me, so I just bit the bullet and trusted him.”

Now WME’s London operation is a very different place with Lucy helping to attract a number of high-profile agents to join the company, as well as a growing number of headliner clients. “It’s thankfully gone brilliantly well, and now everyone wants to be at WME,” she states.

Early days
Although the Dickins family is a rock & roll dynasty, Lucy reports that the no-nonsense way in which parents Barry and Gill raised her and artist manager brother Jonathan kept things grounded. “They were really humble and never made it feel that we were different to anyone else,” she recalls. “When we went to gigs, we never went through the front doors, but it wasn’t made out to be something special. Everything was always really pushed under the radar.”

Lucy’s recollection of her first gig was going to see Abba. “I cried because it was too loud,” she says. Dad Barry remembers it slightly differently. “The kids wanted to meet the band and were really excited. The band themselves could not have been nicer, but Jonathan and Lucy just went quiet – they couldn’t say a word. It’s probably the last time either of them was speechless.”

Another meet-and-greet involved a life-changing moment. “I wanted to be a boy when I was little, so insisted on my hair being cut really short,” says Lucy. “We met Bucks Fizz backstage, and they said, ‘Oh what a cute little boy’ because of my hair and the fact I was wearing these velvet pedal pushers and a little frilly shirt. And I had to tell them, ‘I’m not a boy. I’m a girl!’ And then that changed who I wanted to be.”

“She’s genuine, generous, and funny, and she can spot that sparkle in people that they often cannot see themselves”

Despite her parents’ attempts to normalise their lives, their popularity among childhood friends had a lasting impact. “All the kids wanted to come to our house because mum and dad were really cool – so my brother’s mates would always be around at our house, and my mates would always be around because it was just a cool house,” says Lucy.

While countless people in the live music industry want to be Lucy’s best friend, that accolade goes to Kim Ratcliff, who met Lucy in infant school. She attests to the family’s down-to-earth vibe but has countless tales of meeting artists.

“They treated me like one of their own and took me on holidays and to loads of concerts,” she says. “I remember meeting Claude Nobs in his house in Montreux in 1988 and having lunch with Tracy Chapman who was admiring the Swatch watches Lucy and I had bought. It was another world, but it was all very matter of fact, rather than made out to be special. And there were lots of surreal moments like that.”

Godparent to Lucy’s children, and the Barbara Dickson to Lucy’s Elaine Paige, Ratcliff contends that their friendship affords Lucy one of the few places where she can switch off from the industry and be herself. “She’s the best friend I could ask for – in more than 40 years we’ve never had a cross word. She’s genuine, generous, and funny, and she can spot that sparkle in people that they often cannot see themselves.”

But sometimes that sparkle just isn’t Lucy’s cup of tea.

When her teenage friends queued to meet 80s heartthrobs Bros at a record store appearance, Lucy found herself alone chatting to Aswad, whose promo session was a little less frenetic. “I just didn’t like Bros,” she says. “I always sort of went against the grain of what you’re supposed to like. So I had this long chat with Aswad and ended up going home with their record.”

“Between the ages of about 15 and 30, Lucy and I didn’t have much in common. But from 30 onwards, we’ve become really close”

With less than three years separating them, Lucy admits her brother influenced her musical tastes. “I have a strong memory of Jonathan playing music really loud in his bedroom. He did a Doobie Brothers remix, and I remember him playing them for ages before he came up with that tune. He’d play a lot of Neil Young, and then he’d go into Keith Sweat: he’d just play all different types of music. So that influenced me. But courtesy of my parents, I also grew up on a lot of Dylan and Diana Ross and Paul Simon, so I have pretty good breeding.”

For his part, Jonathan says, “Between the ages of about 15 and 30, Lucy and I didn’t have much in common. But from 30 onwards, we’ve become really close.” Indeed, when IQ speaks to Jonathan, he’s in the process of relocating from New York to Los Angeles into a neighbourhood near his sister – a move that he notes will also allow their children to spend more time together.

Accidental career
Despite music being the family business, Lucy initially railed against the idea of following those footsteps. “I didn’t want to go into music because all the men in the family were in it,” she declares. “I wanted to go into film. I wanted to be a distributor or a film agent.”

Dad Barry says, “When she finished school, I told her she had one week to find a job. When she didn’t, I brought her into ITB to help out, and she worked for me for a while before becoming David Levy’s assistant.”

However, the pressure of the family business could be overwhelming. “Jonathan was like a breed of racehorse because he had to be the next person to keep the Dickins name up there, which was shit for him because there was so much expectation on him,” says Lucy. “But that meant there was very little expectation on me. So while Jonathan might have been the thoroughbred, that allowed me to kinda quietly creep up on the outside.”

“I’d tell her that I wanted her at ITB because she was good, not because she was my daughter, so I was pretty tough on her”

With music running deep in the veins, pursuing other career paths soon became a fleeting distraction, but not before she explored other pathways in the business.

Her years at ITB were punctuated by a brief sojourn at record label PWL. “I vividly remember the job interview,” she tells IQ. “It was my first lesson in how to wing it.

“They put me in this boardroom and gave me a scenario where I was a product manager. I didn’t even know what a fucking product manager was. But they were obviously impressed by whatever bullshit I came up with, as I started out as a junior product manager and just kept getting elevated – label manager and then head of international.”

A wave of consolidation in the label business closed that chapter in Lucy’s career when she was made redundant. “I was back into the realms of ‘what do I want to do?’ Some people wanted me to move into management, and lots of people were knocking on my door saying ‘we want you to do this’ and ‘you should do that,’ but I wasn’t sure.”

A somewhat reluctant return to ITB led to some testing times. “I’d tell her that I wanted her at ITB because she was good, not because she was my daughter, so I was pretty tough on her,” confesses Barry. “For instance, I taught her how to promote a show, knowing that she might never use it but that it would help her when it came to negotiating deals.”

“I heard her yelling down the phone at a promoter ‘Woah woah woah! I don’t get paid enough to take this shit!’ At that point, I knew she was going to make it”

He adds, “It’s difficult being a Dickins – people used to say I only got acts because of my dad, Percy, even though he wasn’t an agent. And then they’d say I’d get them because of my brother [Rob] who ran Warner Music. So I can sympathise with the same accusations that get thrown at Lucy and Jonathan.”

Increasingly frustrated with the menial tasks delegated her way, Lucy finally confronted her father. “He told me, ‘If you’re such a fucking know-it-all, here’s a map: go and route a tour.’ And I was like, ‘Fuck you. I will.’ I sat there for about three hours, didn’t know what I was doing. But when I delivered my plan, he was pretty impressed. And that was the start of it.”

Asked when he knew that Lucy could make the grade as an agent, Barry recalls one key moment. “I heard her yelling down the phone at a promoter ‘Woah woah woah! I don’t get paid enough to take this shit!’ At that point, I knew she was going to make it,” he laughs.

Building a roster
Having taken on a couple of baby acts, Lucy says that the foundations for her entire career boil down to one band, Hot Chip, whom she still represents 20-plus years later. Recalling her introduction, Lucy points to record label executive Ferdy Unger-Hamilton. “He told me to check them out. They were supporting Athlete, I think, at Shepherd’s Bush Empire, and I just loved them.”

After meeting co-founders Joe Goddard and Alexis Taylor, they asked her to sit down with the rest of the band. “We met in a pub – the Newman Arms – and they were all lined up like at a fucking job interview,” says Lucy. “I didn’t have a roster, and I knew other big agents with rosters who were battling to sign them. But I’d really done my due diligence and thought about the strategy of how I’d do things for them. So when Alexis called later that day to say they’d chosen me as their agent, I just remember being beyond delighted and promising that I’d never let them down.”

That studious approach to signing acts, says her father, is a particular forte. “She puts together brilliant strategies and plans and has creative ideas that I’d never come up with, such as using unusual venues and stuff,” says Barry.

“When you’re an agent, you just need that one act that’s going to actually believe in you and give you a chance”

Lucy notes, “When you’re an agent, you just need that one act that’s going to actually believe in you and give you a chance. Hot Chip were that band for me. They have a very, very special place in my heart because they’re the band that basically made me who I am.”

Indeed, the act is giving Lucy one of her first transatlantic dilemmas. “I’m desperately looking at how to get back for their show on 23rd September, when I’m supposed to be in Aspen, because I’ve never missed a London show by Hot Chip. I even went to their Brixton show the day before my son was born,” she reveals.

Artist relations
Look down the names on her roster and it’s apparent that most clients have been with Lucy since the beginning of their careers, highlighting a trait that breaks one of the unwritten rules of the music business: don’t believe you can be friends with the artist.

“She’s friends with lots of her clients,” observes Barry. “She’s amazing at networking, she’s fiercely loyal, and people genuinely like her– she’s even remained the agent for some acts when they’ve decided to change manager, which is unheard of,” he adds

That doesn’t mean to say that Lucy Dickins hasn’t been dumped by clients.

“I lost a band called Tilly and the Wall,” she says. “They fired me because they wanted to play the Scala, and I didn’t think they were there yet. I’m in the game of selling shows out, but I’m not someone who pushes my artists to take out every single ticket in a market for the sake of playing a bigger venue. I want to play a venue that we’re going to smash because I want an artist to have a career. And I’m always quite vocal on that. Tilly and the Wall disagreed.

“I also lost Vance Joy, who had that one big song, Riptide. But I’m not crying over either of them, and I genuinely don’t think there’s been anyone else I’ve lost, so it’s not the worst record over 25 years.”

“It’s not about family: it’s about the best people. I work with Lucy because she’s one of the best, not because she’s my sister”

Rather than naming a side-of-stage moment, Lucy contends her “made it” moment covers a particular period in time, during the early noughties, when immersing herself in an emerging underground scene started to reap dividends.

“It was around that kind of Jamie T, Laura Marling, Blueflowers, Jack Peñate, Mumford and Sons time… there was a whole scene, and I was just very lucky to be in it, signing the acts who were just getting bigger and bigger. I had that entire scene sewn up, and that was a real ‘wow’ moment in my career.”

Jonathan also looks back on that time as key to his working relationship with his sister. “It really started with Jamie T,” he says. “He was looking for an agent. I recommended Lucy, but told him that if he only met her there would be a load of people in the business who would say she only got the act because of me. So I advised Jamie to go and meet a few agents on his own – I didn’t need to be there – and then he could come back to me and tell me who he wanted to hire. And he loved Lucy. So the choice was his, although you’re always going to get fuckwits who say otherwise.”

And addressing charges of nepotism, which he too has suffered, Jonathan adds, “It’s not about family: it’s about the best people. I work with Lucy because she’s one of the best, not because she’s my sister. If people don’t believe that or don’t get it, I don’t fucking care. We don’t run our lives based on other people’s opinions or prejudices.”

One and only
Her friendships with artists have delivered numerous additions to Lucy’s roster over the decades, thanks to word-of-mouth and her professional achievements, and it was a Hot Chip connection that led to her finding her most famous client.

“I had Hot Chip playing at King’s College, and Jack Peñate asked if he could come along and bring his friend, Adele, a singer. She sat on the steps at the back of the stage ordering Jack to run around and do things for her. She was hilarious, and I just really warmed to her.

“At the end of night, I said: ‘You’re a singer,’ and she asked if I wanted her CD. Then she literally tapped this bloke on the shoulder and said, ‘Excuse me, you know that CD I gave you? Give us it back, I need to give it to her.’ It was hilarious, and I remember it like it was yesterday.

“Actually, when I think back to a lot of the artists I’ve signed, it’s really vivid – I remember the tiniest details of meeting Mumford & Sons; I remember the minutia of speaking to Jamie T. Those moments are really stuck in my head. And now, when I meet new artists, I look for that kind of mad connection. And if I get it, I’m all in. It’s a gut thing.”

She continues, “Anyway, the day after that Hot Chip show, I was doing some housework, and I thought I’d give the CD a listen. Hometown Glory came on. ‘Fuck off, what is this?’ It was insane. Then Daydreamer came on and then My Same. I’d never heard a voice like it, so I rang my brother to let him listen, and he told me he’d already had meetings with her.”

“People don’t remember but it took a while with Adele – it wasn’t an overnight thing”

The rest may be history but it hasn’t all been plain sailing.

“People don’t remember but it took a while with Adele – it wasn’t an overnight thing,” she states. “The press were appalling, and I heard some really shitty comments, all about the way she looked. Thankfully, the world is changing now, but it’s Adele and people like Ed Sheeran who paved the path for everyone else.”

Her relationship with Adele has led to some incredible career highs.

“There was the 2011 BRIT Awards when Adele sang Someone Like You; Mumford and Sons won best album; and Laura Marling won best female. It was the best night of my life. I felt like I owned the BRITS,” she beams.

Other significant moments include: “Hot Chip playing the Astoria; Adele on the Australian stadium tour, and this year’s BST Hyde Park shows; James Blake winning the Mercury Prize; Mumford & Sons on the Gentlemen of the Road tour and also when they played my 40th birthday.

“And lately, this Jamie T thing. I think it’s pretty fucking impressive 15 years into his career that he lands his first number-one album, and now we’ve announced this huge London show for next summer, so I’m super-excited about his career going forward.”

Flying the nest
Having built such an impressive roster at ITB, the offers were never going to be lacking when Lucy Dickins decided to look to pastures new.

But it was not a simple decision.

Brother Jonathan opines, “Leaving ITB took a lot of courage. It was a big deal to come out from my father’s shadow. And it also took great humility for my old man to allow her to spread her wings without playing any kind of emotional card – it showed really great characteristics in both of them.”

“The old boys’ club meant promoters were always calling up dad about Adele, and that really pissed me off. ‘Barry didn’t sign Adele. I signed Adele. Why are you asking him if she’s available for things?’”

As difficult as the decision was, Lucy believes the timing was spot on. “I’m not sitting where I’m sitting today without being taught by the best person there is in the business. Dad is my absolute idol, and to learn from him was an absolute blessing.

“But I realised that I needed to move on. The old boys’ club meant promoters were always calling up dad about Adele, and that really pissed me off. ‘Barry didn’t sign Adele. I signed Adele. Why are you asking him if she’s available for things?’ It was really undermining.

“It’s definitely a misogynist thing because Jonathan doesn’t get the same shit. And it’s a major reason why I moved to WME – I had to show people that I’m not doing what I’m doing because I’m Barry’s daughter. I’m doing what I’m doing because I’m really good at it. And the proof has been in the pudding. I left ITB and I’ve gone from strength to strength.”

Commenting on Lucy’s new role from his artist manager perspective, Jonathan states, “WME’s a giant, but there was a lot of room for improvement, and that’s nothing against some very good agents who were in the company – stellar people, especially in the UK. But Lucy has given it an energy and a youthful focus that I think it needed.”

“Lucy is one of the only British people to run a global agency, and I know she’s going to be spectacular”

Recruiter Marc Geiger, whose departure as WME’s head of music facilitated Lucy’s latest promotion, was never in any doubt she would flourish. “The first time Lucy interrupted me five times in a conversation, I knew she was the right person – she took the verbal wrestling match and slammed me to the ground like a WWE champion,” he tells IQ.

“Lucy is one of the only British people to run a global agency, and I know she’s going to be spectacular. She has all the tools, it’s her time, and it’s incredible to watch where she and Kirk are going to take this thing. They get to run the world, and I think they’re going to be amazing.”

WME co-head Kirk Sommer is similarly enthused. “I’ve known Lucy a long time. I don’t know exactly how many years it’s been, but we always seem to have similar interests and admiration for the same people – we’ve shared Adele as a client for many years,” he says.

And reporting on the working relationship they’ve now established, he adds, “I don’t think I could hope for more. I don’t think it could go any better. You know, we laugh very hard. And we work a lot harder.”

Californian dreaming
Having enjoyed a whirlwind 2022 that has included Rex Orange County selling out Gunnersbury Park in London, and in the same city, Adele’s massively successful hometown return – headlining a female-only line-up at BST Hyde Park – Lucy has never been busier. “I’ve signed something nearly every week for the last three months,” she tells IQ. “I’m not going to be someone who just sits back and rests on their laurels because if I’m not relevant to my artists, or the people that I’m mentoring, I’m not relevant to the company.”

She cites Loyle Carner, and Max Richter as well as grime superstar Stormzy as new signings that prove the new WME regime’s plans are working well. “I’ve also got this new girl, Ruti, who I’m excited about. And since I landed in the States, I’ve had some meetings that hopefully will result in a few more new signings. I love music so I’m never gonna stop.”

“I’m an absolute nightmare for people in corporate – I swear like a trooper, I’m opinionated, I’m loud, but I’m 47 years old so that’s not going to change. My dad says I’m like a van driver”

Having only been in her new L.A. home for a few days, she understandably is reticent to start publicly naming areas where she thinks WME needs strengthening. Instead, she is scathingly honest about her own shortcomings. “I’m an absolute nightmare for people in corporate – I swear like a trooper, I’m opinionated, I’m loud, but I’m 47 years old so that’s not going to change. My dad says I’m like a van driver,” she laughs.

“But I think that’s probably refreshing in the corporate environment. Someone at WME asked me recently what is the one thing that I want everyone to know about me. It’s what you see is what you get. I’ll tell you straight. I’ll be upfront, friendly, and I’ll treat everyone the same. There is no other side of me.”

While the step-up to the top job at WME obviously entails a heavier workload, the relocation to Los Angeles has, she says, given her more of a life/work balance than she latterly had in London.

“Being a mum is the hardest bit with a job like this,” she states. “My kids are seven and nine and it’s, ‘Mommy, you’re always working.’ That was a major reason for moving to L.A. because the 17-hour days in London were brutal – when my kids were sitting having dinner, I’d be in another room on a Zoom call, and then I’d miss bedtime. It’s hard for kids to understand.

“Swapping the days around is a bit of a challenge. I start very early in the morning with the London side, but then my day finishes with everyone else in L.A., which means I can actually go out and have a normal life in the evening. It’s much better.”

“Even if I’m in London one week per month, I can be really productive”

Despite the improved home life, there are no immediate plans to make the Californian residence permanent. “I don’t want to feel that I’m not in London,” she pleads. “The bottom line is that I’m going to stay in Los Angeles for as long as I feel I’m needed and as long as they want me around. And in the meantime, I’m going to flip flop between L.A. and London – I’m flying back for my shows all the time this year. Even if I’m in London one week per month, I can be really productive.”

Pandemic planning
While many peers endured a tough time during the pandemic, Lucy used the time to concentrate on revolutionising WME’s London operations and, having been promoted to the top job globally, formulating plans for the company’s future.

“I was very lucky that a lot of my big acts were writing records,” she reveals. “I didn’t want to be one of those agents that was constantly rescheduling dates – none of us knew when Covid was going to be over, so I saw little point in rescheduling or rerouting until we knew things would be ok.”

She continues, “The fact my artists were not touring gave me the ability to structure my thoughts: that ‘why?’ and ‘where?’ and ‘when?’ stuff. And there were, of course, lots of conversations with promoters, because Covid was shit for everybody, and we’re determined to be the best partner to everyone we possibly can.”

With business now picking up, that calm, considered approach is continuing. “I’m always upfront with my acts, so I’ve been warning them about the bottleneck of shows at the moment. And if they want to tour, they need to look at what’s going to make them stand out from every- one else. And they need to think about the size of venues they’re going into because what they were worth pre-Covid versus post-Covid could be very different.”

“Part of my job is making acts aware that in different places there are different issues – you need to brief clients as thoroughly as possible before deciding on a tour”

She highlights the cost-of-living crisis and ticket prices as another concern. “Part of my job is making acts aware that in different places there are different issues – you need to brief clients as thoroughly as possible before deciding on a tour. But some acts are having a great time: Jamie T flew out the door, while Marcus Mumford ticket sales have been brilliant, for example.”

Business prospects
On a day-to-day basis, Lucy relies heavily on her core team, including assistant Phoebe Holley, Whitney Boateng and long-term colleagues James Simmons and Chris Payne, who also made the move to WME from ITB.

Simmons tells IQ, “You enter Lucy’s office with a dilemma, an issue you’ve been stressing about for days and you need her help, but in actual fact you spend 25 minutes in there, both chatting about everything other than the subject you had planned to talk about. Then, as her mobile rings (‘I’d better take this, babe’), she’ll solve your problem in 15 seconds flat, and you’ll leave the room far wiser than when you entered. In summary, she’s constantly good fun, it’s never boring and her advice is always spot on.”

Payne agrees, “Lucy is a force. Working with her for the last decade or so has been an exercise in keeping up with an unreal pace and breadth of ideas. There’s no problem that can’t be fixed, and her energy and positivity can make you think anything is possible.”

“I’ve never known anyone as fiercely loyal as Lucy”

Her assistant, Phoebe Holley, notes, “I’ve never known anyone as fiercely loyal as Lucy. We joke a lot that I’m her carer, and I regularly catch myself putting on an Essex accent and saying ‘babe’ at the start of every sentence. The way she has supported, pushed, and mentored me throughout my time working with her, is something I’ll never take for granted. Such a creative mind that runs at a thousand mph but never misses a trick. No problems, just solutions (and a few tequilas). There is absolutely no one like Lucy Dickins.”

That’s something that the newest member of her team, Whitney Boateng, is learning quickly. “To say it is a blessing to work with Lucy is an understatement, she is exceptional beyond words,” says Boateng. “Lucy’s work ethic, her drive, her ideas, and her ability to make sure everyone can still access her support are unmatched, and these are just a few things that make working for her so easy.”

Having assembled such a tight unit to run her operations, Lucy successfully integrated her mantra companywide in London and is now focussing on plans to do the same globally.

“We’re having an incredible year,” she reports. “We’re on course to where we were in 2019, which is pretty outstanding given what we’ve all just come through.”

“It would be remiss to say that I don’t think there’s going to be some hurdles next year. The cost of living and the sheer number of acts going out in the market is going to affect things”

However, she’s a realist when it comes to targets. “It would be remiss to say that I don’t think there’s going to be some hurdles next year. The cost of living and the sheer number of acts going out in the market is going to affect things. There’s going to be some bumps in the road, 100%. But I’m a massive believer that you just attack those when they come along.

“The bottom line is that people still want to go out and see live music, which is very refreshing. As long as the appetite is there with the fans, things will be good.”

Enthused about the future they can deliver for WME’s music division, Sommer says, “We’re just generally very excited about our plans. Obviously, it’s been a very difficult couple of years for the industry: nobody has been immune to this thing, but we’re back, and business is great.”

Keeping specific strategies close to his chest, Sommer adds, “We all know it’s a dynamic marketplace, and it’s always evolving. Thankfully, we have the support to kind of lean into different areas that we think are important to our clients.”

Noting the multiple avenues that WME can exploit, Lucy comments, “It’s not something that happens overnight, but the ability to be able to tell an artist that at WME there’s a million things that we can set up for them is massively exciting.”

“We’re trying to encourage younger talent to come through so we can develop new superstars in this agency”

Indeed, looking ahead to the next 25 years, it’s obvious that Lucy Dickins will be piloting an agency business that would have been unimaginable when she first cut her teeth back in 1997. “There are so many different areas where artists can grow their careers now, and at WME we’ve got experts in all of those areas. So we’ve got people working on Web3, and we’ve got people looking for opportunities in the metaverse, for example.

“That’s another of the many reasons I joined WME, because it allows you, as an agent, to pivot and learn different things so that you can offer your artists that full-service thing. And we’re going to use that to bring in new talent – both on the agents and the artist side.

“We’re trying to encourage younger talent to come through so we can develop new superstars in this agency. There are loads of really talented people at WME that just need that chance to prove themselves, so we’re ramping up mentorship and support systems to allow that to happen.”

With 25 extraordinary years under her belt and a job title that only a handful of agents will ever attain, Lucy’s goals for the future remain refreshingly simple.

“It’s just to be the best version of myself I can possibly be,” she concludes when asked about ambitions. “To learn as much stuff and meet as many people and make new relationships as much as I can. And that hopefully will reflect on the company, and the company will be in a great position.”

This article originally appeared in Issue 113 of IQ Magazine.

 


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Blink-182 reunite for biggest-ever global tour

Blink-182 have announced their biggest-ever tour, spanning 70 dates across Latin America, North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.

The global outing sees all three founding members – Tom DeLonge, Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker – reunite for the first time in 10 years.

DeLonge quit the group twice and, from 2015 until now, the band was instead fronted by Matt Skiba, with whom Hoppus and Barker recorded two albums.

The reformed band’s tour, produced by Live Nation, will kick off in March 2023 with their first-ever performances in Latin America.

It will then continue to North America in May, Europe in September, and Australia and New Zealand in February 2024.

Venues on the arena tour include New York’s Madison Square Garden, London’s The O2 and Sydney’s Qudos Bank Arena

Venues on the arena tour include New York’s Madison Square Garden (cap. 20,789), London’s The O2 (20,000) and Sydney’s Qudos Bank Arena (21,000).

The outing also includes festivals such as Lollapalooza (in Brazil, Chile and Argentina), When We Were Young (Las Vegas) and Stereo Picnic (Colombia).

Tour support comes from Wallows (Latin America), Turnstile (North America), The Story So Far (Europe) and Rise Against (Australia/New Zealand).

Blink-182 are represented by Mike Dewdney at ITB worldwide excluding North America, which is handled by Darryl Eaton at CAA.

The band has also announced a new single, ‘Edging’, out this Friday (14 October) which also marks the first time in a decade that Hoppus, DeLonge and Barker have been in the studio together.

See all dates for Blink-182’s world tour here.

 


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October New Music Playlist out now

The latest edition of the IQ New Music playlist, featuring a selection of tracks curated by international booking agencies, is now live.

The playlist complements IQ Magazine’s popular New Signings page, which keeps the live industry updated about which new, emerging and re-emerging artists are being signed by agents. Click here to read the latest issue of IQ now.

The October edition of the playlist features tracks hand-picked by agents at ITB, UTA, ATC, Mother Artists and Solo.

Listen to the latest selection using the Spotify playlist below, or click here to catch up on last month’s playlist.

Separated by agency, the full track list for the October playlist is:

 

AgencyArtistSong
ITBAvivaLove and War
ITBCall Me KarizmaBlood
ITBCemetery SunMetamorphosis
ITBRed Rum ClubVanilla
ITBTyler Bryant & The ShakedownGhostrider
UTATobe NwigweLord Forgive Me
UTAPommeNelly
UTAShae UniverseYou Lose
UTAIda MaeClick Click Domino
UTAHoly WarsLittle Godz
ATCBlondshellSepsis
ATCBalming TigerSexy Nukim
ATCFrankie CosmosAftershock
ATCGilla BandPost Ryan
ATCSan SoucisAll Over This Party
Mother ArtistsGrandmas HouseBody
Mother ArtistsN.O.A.HStay Here
Mother ArtistsBerSuperspreader
Mother ArtistsSupershyChange
Mother ArtistsCate le BonTypical Love
Solo GermeinGood for a Girl
Solo The KairosTime Keeper
Solo Megan McKennaStronger
Solo BlondieSunday Girl
Solo Danny ElfmanKick Me

 


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September New Music Playlist out now

The latest edition of the IQ New Music playlist, featuring a selection of tracks curated by international booking agencies, is now live.

The playlist complements IQ Magazine’s popular New Signings page, which keeps the live industry updated about which new, emerging and re-emerging artists are being signed by agents. Click here to read the latest issue of IQ now.

The September edition of the playlist features tracks hand-picked by agents at CAA, ITB, Wasserman Music, UTA, Mother Artists and Solo.

Listen to the latest selection using the Spotify playlist below, or click here to catch up on last month’s Loud and Proud playlist from IQ Magazine‘s Pride edition.

Separated by agency, the full track list for the September playlist is:

 

AgencyArtistSong
CAASophie MayWith The Band
CAANell MescalGraduating
CAAWarren ZeidersRide the Lighting
ITBCemetery Sun Break Me Down
ITBEat Your Heart OutSour
ITBTyler Bryant & The Shakedown Ain’t None Watered Down
Wasserman MusicgrentperezEgo
Wasserman MusicFLOImmature
Wasserman MusicNieve EllaGirlfriend
Wasserman MusicThe ClauseForever Young
Wasserman MusicEwan McVicarHeather Park
UTAVibe ChemistryBaddest
UTAElanor MossSoundings
UTALåpsley32 Floors
UTALaa LeeBong Bing
UTAMusa KeysSelema (Po Po)
ATCBlondshellSepsis
ATCSurf CurseLost Honor
ATCCar Boot SaleOdoyewu
ATCZella DayRadio Silence
ATCStella DonnellyHow Was Your Day?
Mother ArtistsFirst Aid KitOut of My Head
Mother ArtistsFazerdazeCome Apart
Mother Artistsjuliepg.4 a picture of three hedges
Mother Artistscorookit's ok!
SoloThe K’sHometown
SoloThe KairosLazy Lethargic
SoloDagnyBrightsider
SoloSleep Well BeastOut of Date
SoloMegan McKennaSingle

 


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Road stories: Barry Dickins and Leon Ramakers

Live industry greats Barry Dickins and Leon Ramakers shared stories from their legendary careers in an intimate Dragons’ Den chat at ILMC 34 in London.

Dickins started his career more than 50 years ago arranging gigs for the likes of The Who, Jimi Hendrix Experience and Otis Redding. Going on to form agency International Talent Booking (ITB) with Rod MacSween in 1978, he still represents artists such as Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Neil Young, and ZZ Top.

Former Mojo Concerts director Ramakers, meanwhile, made his music business debut in 1970 at Holland Pop Festival, which featured Pink Floyd, The Byrds, T. Rex and Santana. Ramakers remains involved with Mojo – a company he has helped to maintain its market dominance in the Netherlands for more than half a century, latterly as part of Live Nation.

Here are a handful of highlights from their hour-long conversation…

“I’m so sorry I missed Sinatra, and that’s because I was too nice”

Selling Mojo to SFX in 1999…

Leon Ramakers: “[SFX founder Robert Sillerman] said, ‘Do you want to sell your company?’ I said, ‘It depends on what you want to pay for it?’ And he mentioned a figure. I said, ‘No, no, I’m not interested’ and I put the phone down. And I thought, ‘What have you just done?’ The next day, he called again and he doubled [the price]. He had no idea of my finances, they were crazy times. Finally, we went to see Sillerman in Madison Avenue. The door opens, Sillerman comes in and says, ‘Is this Holland? Today, I’m going to buy Holland.’ There were three reasons [to sell]. They were going to buy all of Europe and I didn’t want to be the island like Asterix and Obelix, like the Gallic village within the Roman Empire. The second thing, the money was good. And thirdly, I thought that we would have creative input from all these people from all over the world, although that never happened.”

Superstar clients – and the ones that got away…

Barry Dickins: “Dylan is still going. It’s very hard when you talk to a billionaire and say, ‘I’ve got this good gig for you Bob, it’s paying a million dollars.’ It’s like, ‘What? I get that for a painting!’ I’m very lucky because I worked with Jimi Hendrix; I worked with The Doors; I worked with Jefferson Aeroplane; I worked with Canned Heat. I’d like to have done Bruce Springsteen, I must admit, but so would everybody else. But I’ve been fortunate I’ve worked with some great clients.”

LR: “I’m sorry I missed Sinatra, and that’s because I was too nice. The previous promoter was [Dutch impresario] Lou van Rees, so I went to the Lou, and I said, ‘Shall we share?’ But then it turned out that the manager or the agent hated Lou van Rees, so they gave it to somebody else.”

BD: “I had Hendrix and I thought, ‘If anyone sees me at a Frank Sinatra concert, it’s all over.’ That was my mum and dad’s thing, and I never went. But I did go and see him the last time he played, which was a little bit sad, because had all the teleprompters around him and his son Frank Sinatra Jr. was playing the keyboards and leading the band. But he was a real pro and I’m glad I saw him, I just wish I’d seen him [earlier in his career].”

“You’re not entitled to keep an act forever”

Losing acts…

BD: “Nothing’s forever. We don’t live forever. You’re not entitled to keep an act forever. I’ve been very lucky I’ve had Dylan for nearly 40 years and it’s a bloody long time. Diana Ross was a bit difficult. I did have 32 years with her and earned every penny. She got pissed off once when I said, ‘I’m having an indoor pool put in my house, would you mind if I call it the Diana Ross pool?’ And she said, ‘What are you talking about?’ I said, ‘Well, every time I do well on a tour, I buy something for my house – and I want to know if you’re happy to have the swimming pool named after you.’ Fleetwood Mac paid for a snooker room. You’ve heard of the house Jack built, this was the house that Fleetwood Mac built! No one enjoys losing a band, and sometimes you lose them for no reason. Other times, I’ve really fucked up on something and haven’t been fired. The hard thing when you’ve got the older acts is they want a younger audience. My way of thinking is that with any artist, their core fans are 10 years older and 10 years younger. You’re not going to start getting 20-year-olds. Dylan, funnily enough, crosses over a bit because he’s Dylan, but it’s still mainly older people. And, of course, he’s 80, so my audience is 70 to 90. I’ve got to tell you, that’s a dying business mate!”

LR: “Also, it’s scientifically proven that the vast majority of people don’t change their musical tastes after 30. Obviously there are exceptions to the rule, but the vast majority stick to what they like [after] 30 and that’s it.”

“You see some reluctance now in ticket buying”

Worst deals…

BD: “I did a Michael Jackson show in Cardiff and the ticket [sales] were really slow. About two weeks from the show, we were losing £250,000, which was a bloody lot of money. To cut a long story short, we actually made money [in the end]. That was probably one of the worst deals, but it ended up okay.”

LR: “The worst half a second of my life was on stage. I was supposed to announce the support act in Utrecht for a show and said, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, please now welcome…’ and I’d forgotten the name. It took about a second, but it was the worst second of my life.”

BD: “I bet it felt like five minutes!”

Biggest hope for the industry…

BD: “Getting the business back to what it was, and I think we’ve got a shot at it. It was always a problem when it was just England [that was open]. Everyone kept saying, ‘Oh well, England is fine.’ I said, ‘Yeah, England’s fine, but nowhere else is.’ Try and say to an American act, ‘Come and do five shows in England: five arenas in England and that’s it.’ ‘No, I want Germany! I want Scandinavia!’ So now we’re kind of an even playing field.”

LR: “But you see some reluctance now in ticket buying. It’s the war; it’s the fact that they have got three tickets in their pocket already for shows that were postponed; it’s the inflation. Anything that went on sale before Christmas did very well, but what has been established this year is a bit soft… I’m not a pessimistic guy, but with ticket prices [going up and up], it could be that in three, four years time, we thought we saw the writing on the wall, but we didn’t act. I’m doing now a show with a really well known artist and the average ticket price is €110.”

 


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April New Music Playlist out now

The latest edition of the IQ New Music playlist, featuring a selection of tracks curated by international booking agencies, is now live.

The playlist complements IQ Magazine’s popular New Signings page, which keeps the live industry updated about which new, emerging and re-emerging artists are being signed by agents. Click here to read the latest issue of IQ now.

The April edition of the playlist features tracks hand-picked by agents at CAA, ICM, ITB, Paradigm, UTA, ATC, WME, Mother Artists, Primary and Pure Represents.

Listen to the latest selection using the Spotify playlist below, or click here to catch up on last month’s playlist first.

Separated by agency, the full track list for the April playlist is:

 

AgencyArtistSong
CAAAmelia Moore Moves
CAAThe Shires I See Stars
CAAElizaStraight Talker
CAAObongjayar Tinko Tinko
CAAGuy GerberPyramid Of The Moon
ICMYumi ZoumaAstral Projection
ICMMarlon CraftHans Zimmer
ICMMarzzCountless Times
ICMLarry JuneSmoothies in 1991
ICMMike DimesHome
ITBHot MilkBad Influence
ITBJet VesperKind of Blue
ITBPlaceboHappy Birthday In The Sky
ITBSick JoyI’ve Got More Than I Need (And I Don’t Have Much)
ITBstayMellownowurgone
ParadigmBartees StrangeHeavy Heart
ParadigmDanielle PonderSo Long
ParadigmTiberius BOlivia
ParadigmTom A SmithCrucify Me
ParadigmYunè PinkuDC Rot
UTAStacey RyanDon’t Text Me When You’re Drunk
UTAFrankie Stew & Harvey GunnTears on my Window
UTAYeatMonëy so big
UTAJack KaneGold
UTAJung Jaeil Way Back Then
ATCEnumclaw2002
ATCAldous HardingFever
ATCFolly GroupFaint Of Hearts
ATCSprintsDelia Smith
ATCEféKiwi
WMESigueJ Balvin, Ed Sheeran
WMEStrangeMiranda Lambert
WMEStars In The SkyKid Cudi
WMEBam BamCamila Cabello, Ed Sheeran
WMELeave You AloneKane Brown
Mother ArtistsBerSame Effect
Mother ArtistsRY XYour Love
Mother ArtistsThomas HeadonVictoria
Mother ArtistsViolet SkiesNever Be Cool
Mother ArtistsCorookidk god
PrimaryGames We Play I Hope You’re Happy
PrimaryRussHandsomer (Remix) (Feat. Ktlyn)
Pure RepresentsGeorge EzraAnyone For You
Pure RepresentsThe MysterinesHung Up
Pure RepresentsBilkDaydreamer
Pure RepresentsCompanion23rd Street
Pure RepresentsMychelleYounger Self

 


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March New Music Playlist out now

The latest edition of the IQ New Music playlist, featuring a selection of tracks curated by international booking agencies, is now live.

The playlist complements IQ Magazine’s popular New Signings page, which keeps the live industry updated about which new, emerging and re-emerging artists are being signed by agents. Click here to read the latest issue of IQ now.

The March edition of the playlist features tracks hand-picked by agents at CAA, ITB, Paradigm, UTA, ATC and Mother Artists.

Listen to the latest selection using the Spotify playlist below, or click here to catch up on last month’s playlist first.

Separated by agency, the full track list for the March playlist is:

 

AgencyArtistSong
CAANadeem Din-GabisiHoly Wata
CAANaomi SharonHills
CAAIvy SoleDangerous
ITBConradHollow
ITBDaytime TVSide By Side
ITBNaima BockEvery Morning
ITBPorridge Radio Back To The Radio
ITBTashHurricane Man
ParadigmEthan P. FlynnFather of Nine
ParadigmEtta MarcusProvider
ParadigmflowerovloveI Love This Song
ParadigmGoodboysBlack & Blue
ParadigmSpacey JaneSitting Up
UTAJohn HarvieBleach (On the Rocks)
UTAAlicia CretiCongratulations
UTAMaz O’ConnorWhen It Comes for You
UTAMiraa MayBig Woman
UTACleopatrickGood Grief
ATCKathleen FrancesBoy
ATCHurray for the Riff RaffLife On Earth
ATCMurkage DaveUs Lot
ATCLos BitchosThe Link Is About To Die
ATCBlack Country, New RoadAnts From Up There (Album)
Mother ArtistsAlex AmorCan You See Me
Mother ArtistsMy Life As A MonthElectro Junction
Mother ArtistsCMATEvery Bottle (Is My Boyfriend)
Mother ArtistsRY XLet You Go

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February New Music playlist out now

The latest edition of the IQ New Music playlist, featuring a selection of tracks curated by international booking agencies, is now live.

The playlist complements IQ Magazine’s popular New Signings page, which keeps the live industry updated about which new, emerging and re-emerging artists are being signed by agents. Click here to read the latest issue of IQ now.

The February edition of the New Music playlist features tracks hand-picked by agents at CAA, ITB, Paradigm, UTA, ATC, Primary and Pure Represents.

Listen to the latest selection using the Spotify playlist below, or click here to catch up on last month’s playlist first.

Separated by agency, the full track list for the February playlist is:

 

AgencyArtistSong
CAAMia WrayWork For Me
CAAHarry StoneLove Gone Cold
CAASadie JeanWYD Now?
CAAJoplynFact & Fiction
CAAEli Brown Believe
ITBHoneyglazeShadows
ITBJoolsHow Can Some Experience What Pride Is Without Liberation For All?
ITBThe Wild ThingsOnly Attraction
ITBAvalanche PartyDream Johnny Dream
ParadigmBarry Can't SwimEverything is Going to Be Alright
ParadigmCassyetteBehind Closed Doors
ParadigmDeyazMess
ParadigmHigher PowerFall From Grace
ParadigmTai VerdesLast Day On Earth
UTAGabzyParty Starter
UTAYung Filly100 Bags Freestyle
UTAMaya DelilahThank You
UTANoga ErezSwitch Me Off
UTAIda MaeLong Gone & Heartworn
ATCMetronomyThings Will Be Fine
ATCOmega SapienPlum
ATCCharles WatsonFigure Skater
ATCGrace CummingsHeaven
ATCLos BitchosPista (Fresh Start)
PrimaryMoore KismetParallel Heartbreak
PrimaryLil LotusSober
PrimaryMonoNeonThe Black Bag of Surprise
PrimaryEthel CainCrush
Pure RepresentsMax PopeMuddy Waters
Pure RepresentsThe MysterinesDangerous

 

 


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December New Music playlist out now

The latest edition of the IQ New Music playlist, featuring a selection of tracks curated by international booking agencies, is now live.

The playlist complements IQ Magazine’s popular New Signings page, which keeps the live industry updated about which new, emerging and re-emerging artists are being signed by agents. Click here to read the latest issue of IQ now.

The December edition of the New Music playlist features tracks hand-picked by agents at CAA, ICM, ITB, Paradigm, UTA, X-Ray, WME and Mother Artists.

Listen to the latest selection using the Spotify playlist below, or click here to catch up on last month’s playlist first.

Separated by agency, the full track list for the December playlist is:

AgencyArtistSong
CAADJ ShadowBuilding Steam with a Grain of Salt
ICMMontell Fish Fall in Love with You
ITBHoneyglazeCreative Jealousy
ITBLIFEFriends Without Names
ITBNaima Bock30 Degrees
ITBOwennBaby Girl
ITBPeaks!Black Guns/White Drugs
ParadigmDvr, Kenny BeatsLowlife
ParadigmNemahsisPaper Thin
ParadigmOliver MalcolmRolling Stone
ParadigmProspaLove Someone
ParadigmTalkSave Me
UTAMaya DelilahNeed a Word with Cupid
UTAPip BlomI Know I’m Not Easy To Like
UTAThe Kingdom Choir, Jake IsaacTogether Again
UTASerena IsiomaCrying In The Club
X-RayShaSimoneHushpuppi
WMELuke CombsDoin’ This
WMEMasked Wolf, Bebe RexhaIt’s You, Not Me (Sabotage)
WMEAnne-Marie and Niall HoranEverywhere
WMEFuture and SprngBrkMushrooms
WMETygaLift Me Up
Mother ArtistsIdlesCar Crash
Mother ArtistsCorookSims
Mother ArtistsFaouziaPuppet
Mother ArtistsThomas HeadonStrawberry Kisses
Mother ArtistsKills BirdsCough up Cherries

 


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Former ITB agent Phyllis Belezos goes independent

Veteran booking agent Phyllis Belezos has launched a new international talent booking and consultancy agency, Heliocentric Entertainment.

Belezos leaves her position as booking agent at ITB (International Talent Booking) after more than 18 years at the UK-based agency.

During her two-decade-long career, she has worked with a range of artists such as Whitney Houston, Boyz II Men, Massive Attack, Fatboy Slim, Bjork, Ice T, Nancy Sinatra and Robert Plant, as well a roster of acts that included Sufjan Stevens, St. Vincent, Brandi Carlile, Bernhoft, WAR, Sam Palladio, Vintage Trouble, Emiliana Torrini and House of Pain.

“I’m so excited to start this new venture and I feel like the last couple of years have cemented what I’ve wanted to achieve in my career and life,” says Belezos.

“I live and breathe music and being able to help artists develop and succeed is my main goal and objective”

“I live and breathe music and being able to help artists develop and succeed is my main goal and objective. I’m grateful for all the experience and knowledge I’ve had so far and ready for the next chapter.”

Heliocentric’s roster includes both established and emerging talent including Bernhoft, Bright Light Bright Light, Callaghan, Darin, Holloway Road, Jonathan Jackson + Enation, July 7.

According to the website, the agency offers its clients “a specialised plan on projects in the arts and music world by providing guidance on global touring, assembling the right core team and organising logistics”.

“We connect talent, brands & businesses, enabling them to stage memorable events, share remarkable music, tell significant stories, whilst booking their live performances throughout the world.”

Kyle Daniel, Little Barrie, Lydmor, Megan O’Neill, Sonia Stein, Sarah Darling, Sam Palladio, Tebey, Tom Bright, Vincent Darby and WAR are also on the agency’s roster.

 


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