x

The latest industry news to your inbox.


I'd like to hear about marketing opportunities

    

I accept IQ Magazine's Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

Ed Sheeran confirms 2025 European stadium tour

Ed Sheeran’s +–=÷× (Mathematics) Tour will officially extend to a fourth year after the star confirmed a final slate of 2025 European stadium dates.

The singer-songwriter, who is represented by Jon Ollier of One Fiinix Live outside North America, will play shows in Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Poland and Denmark next year.

The run is currently due to start at Civitas Metropolitano in Madrid on 30 May and conclude in Dusseldorf’s Merkur Spiel-Arena on 5 September, with further announcements to follow. Tickets go on general sale on Wednesday (10 July).

Sheeran also has upcoming 2024 concerts at Polsat Plus Arena in Gdansk, Poland (12-13 July), Puskás Aréna in Budapest, Hungary (20 July), Park 360 in Hradec Kralove, Czechia (27-28 July), Darius and Girėnas Stadium in Kaunas, Lithuania (3-4 August) and the Hipodrom in Zagreb, Croatia (10 August).

“In 2025, Mathematics Tour comes to an end. Gonna be hitting most of the other places we haven’t been to yet”

In addition, he will perform at Austria’s Frequency Festival (14 August), Ušće Park in Belgrade, Serbia (17 August), Romania’s National Arena in Bucharest (24 August), Vasil Levski Stadium in Sofia, Bulgaria (31 August) and Land of Tomorrow in Larnaca Bay, Cyprus (7-8 September), as well as headlining Brazil’s Rock in Rio on 19 September.

“In 2025, Mathematics Tour comes to an end,” says Sheeran in an Instagram post. “Gonna be hitting most of the other places we haven’t been to yet, but the first dates to go up will be the rest of Europe, more to follow.”

Held in support of Sheeran’s = (2021) and (2023) albums, the 131-date Mathematics Tour launched in Ireland at Croke Park, Dublin in April 2022. The trek was seventh highest-grossing tour of 2023, according to Pollstar, garnering $268 million from 2.5 million attendees.

Last month, the 33-year-old set a new record in Malta for the largest-ever paid-for concert, with 35,000 fans flocking to Ta’ Qali National Park in Attard – his first-ever performance in the country. Local independent promoters in Bulgaria and Latvia also spoke to IQ about how the tour is breaking ground in their markets.

The full list of 2025 tour dates is as follows:

30 May: Cívitas Metropolitano, Madrid, Spain
6 June: Orange Vélodrome Stadium, Marseille, France
14 June: TBA, Italy, Rome
20 June: Decathlon Arena – Stade Pierre Mauroy, Lille, France
29 June: MHPArena, Stuttgart, Germany
5 July: Volksparkstadion, Hamburg, Germany
26 July: Ullevaal Stadion, Oslo, Norway
2 August: Stadion Letzigrund, Zürich, Switzerland
8 August: Middenvijver Park, Antwerp, Belgium
16 August: Tarczyński Arena, Wroclaw, Poland
23 August: Strawberry Arena, Stockholm, Sweden
29-30 August: Øresundsparken, Copenhagen, Denmark
5 September: Merkur Spiel-Arena, Dusseldorf, Germany

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

Is a mid-level touring crisis emerging?

The litany of challenges facing the live industry – from breaking acts to gaming – came under the microscope in ILMC’s Touring: The Bread & Butter Business session.

Chaired by One Fiinix Live founder Jon Ollier, the panel featured Jan Digneffe of FKP Scorpio Belgium, Mercury Wheels/Live Nation Spain’s Barnaby Harrod, Finland-based Fullsteam founder Rauha Kyyro of FKP and agent Marsha Vlasic, president of Independent Artist Group in the US.

While the top end of the business is booming with record earnings for A-list tours, the discussion focused its attention on the potential crisis emerging in the mid-level.

Kyyro suggested the sector was struggling not only with high ticket prices, but from competition from other forms of media – such as video games.

“I think we’re losing out on a lot of young people going to the shows to get that experience because, well, first of all, the ticket prices are high. And also the market has changed in other ways, too,” she said. “But it actually might be a better 90 minute experience to play Fortnite than to go and see to a little show. If you look at what’s happened with gaming, just as an example, it’s developed so much faster than our live experience has. But the price of the live experience is going up all the time.”

“There’s a whole generation that don’t leave their rooms… They don’t even think about going to a live show”

Vlasic agreed the shift in habits among younger people was an issue.

“There’s a whole generation that don’t leave their rooms, and they know an act by one song,” she said. “They don’t even have the desire to go for the live experience. They’re very content on their group chats and TikTok and just discovering new songs, not artists. And that’s the worrisome generation, because they don’t even think about going to a live show.”

Vlasic added that the reluctance of some artists – particularly those outside the United States – to embrace VIP ticketing was a growing source of frustration.

“VIP is huge,” she said. “We had a package two summers ago that broke every record. But I have artists that just won’t do it. And it’s so frustrating because again, they don’t understand the value of it. It’s actually mostly non American artists that don’t allow it. But it’s such a big source of additional income.”

The subject switched to the topic of festival headliners, as Kyyro warned against an over-reliance on big name talent.

“We gave up on trying to get a seven-figure acts and we just focused on whatever we actually have access to and that the audience actually likes”

“If you’re really dependent on getting those few big names, then that’s going to kill your budget,” she said. “You’re probably not even going to even make any money unless you sell out.

“The key is to build a brand that is not so much dependent on having the number one artist every year. Provinssi, which is a Finnish festival we work with, has been around for over 40 years and it has had its ups and downs. I think the reason it’s now doing so well is that we gave up on trying to get a seven-figure acts and we just focused on whatever we actually have access to and that the audience actually likes. Then it doesn’t need to sell out, but we can still keep it going.”

The rise of joint headline and packaged tours was also touched upon, with Vlasic suggesting the acts do not necessarily have to be a perfect fit.

“As bigger acts are getting off the festivals and going into stadiums, the only way to do it is to piggyback and share the cost of the production,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be completely compatible, it’s just entertainment. When you think of packaging an act… it’s [about], how does this package look in terms of bringing in additional people and different audiences?

“[But] so many of them want to headline on their own and the market is saturated. I don’t know how to the summer’s going to do this year – and everybody’s gone on sale so much sooner.”

Some people need to step down from their throne in order to be able to play better venues

While Digneffe applauded the concept, he cautioned that persuading all parties of its merit was easier said than done.

“I think it’s an it’s an interesting idea, but you have trouble getting everybody on board,” he said. “If you look at the metal and the hard rock scene, there is a lot more going on and there is a lot more understanding between bands as well.

“We all know it’s an ego business. But I think that some people need to step down from their throne in order to be able to play better venues, and that will make the costs go down. It’s a more fun night for the punter anyway, so I see nothing but advantages. But to get it done, you need everybody on board. You need the agents to be on board. You need the management to be on board.”

“The metal thing is true,” added Harrod. “I went to see four metal bands in a 300-cap club in Barcelona. The kids had a great time.”

There was concern, however, about the lay of the land for breaking acts, and the apparent dearth of viable new headliners. Digneffe believed the focus on global tours was hurting those lower down the food chain.

“If I hear more streaming numbers I’ll go crazy. It’s just maddening – and streaming numbers don’t sell tickets”

“What is frustrating everybody about these world tours is this cherry picking that’s going on all the time,” said Digneffe. “I don’t want to be like a preacher in a church or anything, but the cherry picking also comes with a responsibility to look after the next generation. No one is doing that at the moment and I think that’s a real problem. The promoters that find solutions for that will help keep our business healthy.”

Vlasic lamented the obsession with streaming numbers, arguing they can give a false impression of an artist’s worth on the live scene.

“It’s all about the streaming and if I hear more streaming numbers I’ll go crazy,” she said. “It’s just maddening – and streaming numbers don’t sell tickets. I’ve always prided myself in working with career artists. How do we develop groups? It’s a really frightening thought.”

Harrod, meanwhile, remained hopeful that the tried and tested approach to building rising stars would still bear fruit going forward.

“We have to be proactive,” he said. “We have to get out, we have to support the new acts. Push them, get them out, and that’s it. It’s always been that. Nothing is easy. It’s [about] supporting bands, keeping doing those 200 and 300-cap shows and enjoying them.”

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

Agent Bex Wedlake joins One Fiinix Live

Independent live music agency One Fiinix Live has announced the appointment of seasoned live music professional Bex Wedlake as its newest agent.

Wedlake, whose appointment is effective immediately, is based in the US but will work closely with company’s UK team.

Her roster includes Black Stone Cherry, Dance Gavin Dance, Dayseeker, Des Rocs, GWAR, Halestorm, Haru Nemuri, Hoobastank, K.Flay, New Years Day, SkyeChristy, The Subways and Tiny Moving Parts. She will represent these artists in international territories outside of North America.

“We are delighted to welcome Bex to our company,” says One Fiinix Live founder and CEO Jon Ollier. “Not only does she bring with her an incredible wealth of experience and a fantastic roster that aligns perfectly with our aspirations, but Bex has time and again spotted and developed new talent with a remarkable hit rate.

“We see Bex as a valuable addition to our team, someone who is incredibly well connected and whose skill set complements that of the existing team very well”

“We see Bex as a valuable addition to our team, someone who is incredibly well connected and whose skill set complements that of the existing team very well. We really feel like we are building something very special here and we are all so excited for Bex to be a part of that.”

London-headquartered One Fiinix Live, which added veteran US agent John Pantle to its ranks last month, was launched by Ollier in November 2020, following his departure from CAA. The UK-based global booking agency represents acts including Ed Sheeran, Ms. Lauryn Hill, 2Cellos, Calum Scott and Hauser.

“This industry is based on human connection and innovation, qualities embraced and celebrated by Jon and the progressive team at One Fiinix Live,” adds Wedlake. “In just three years they have built an agency that embodies expertise, professionalism and respect. I am thrilled to be joining such an exciting and forward-thinking company and I look forward to immersing myself and my clients in a culture of inclusivity and elevation.”

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

Agency veteran John Pantle joins One Fiinix Live

Independent live music agency One Fiinix Live has announced that veteran US agent John Pantle is joining the company.

Pantle, who was previously a partner at live music specialist Sound Talent Group, will be based in Los Angeles, but will work remotely as part of the agency’s London-based team.

He brings 30 years of industry experience, including two decades as an agent, and has also served as an independent promoter and head of development for the club network division at House of Blues/Live Nation.

Pantle will continue to work with his existing roster of clients, which includes Hatsune Miku, Julieta Venegas, La Santa Cecilia, Natalia Lafourcade and Radwimps, among others.

“This business was built on creative ideas, entrepreneurship and personalities and John has all these attributes”

“This business was built on creative ideas, entrepreneurship and personalities and John has all these attributes,” says One Fiinix Live founder and CEO Jon Ollier. “The passion, drive and work ethic that John possesses is just incredibly infectious and added to his experience in this industry, makes his arrival an incredibly exciting prospect for us.

“John will continue to be based in the US but will work remotely as part of our London-based team and his diverse roster of clients, most of whom he already books internationally, will further extend the global reach of our company.”

One Fiinix Live was launched by Ollier in November 2020, following his departure from CAA. The UK-based global booking agency represents acts such as Ed Sheeran, Ms. Lauryn Hill, Calum Scott, Hauser and 2Cellos.

“In the short span of three years, Jon and his team have transformed the concept of the booking agency into a dream scenario – a team of individuals that infuse intelligence, focus, and flexibility to the modern-day challenges of the musician and creator,” says Pantle. “Our future requires a deep understanding on innovative concepts, and this opportunity to spread the gospel onto another continent couldn’t be passed up. We are all excited about this new path forward.”

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

Local promoters hail record Ed Sheeran sales

Local, independent promoters have spoken to IQ about how they’re breaking ground in their markets with record ticket sales for Ed Sheeran’s 2024 European tour.

The European leg of Sheeran’s + – = ÷ x (Mathematics) Tour is due to kick off on 8 June 2024 in Italy, making 20 stops at a mix of stadiums and festivals across the continent.

The first stadium stop on the AEG Presents promoted-outing will be at Ta’ Qali National Park (cap. 30,000), marking the 32-year-old’s first-ever concert in Malta.

According to one of the show’s local promoters, Nigel Camilleri at NNG Promotions, the 26 June 2024 concert has broken “all records” in the island country.

“The number of tickets in an hour, total number of ticket sales in one day, as well as total gross amount of ticket sales in an hour and in a day,” lists Camilleri, who is promoting the gig alongside AEG and Greatt.

“Hopefully, this will open more doors which were previously closed or only ajar”

“The adrenaline rush when the ticket sales opened was indescribable,” he continues. “It’s not often, at least in Malta, that one gets to promote a concert of an artist who appeals to such a wide-ranging audience.”

Camilleri says hosting a star of Sheeran’s size helps to put Malta – which is isolated from mainland Europe – on the map for other blockbuster tours.

“It is a great triumph for us because we have proven that the Maltese market can sustain an A-level artist such as Ed Sheeran,” he adds. “We have been working towards and building up to this moment for many years and admittedly there was an element of luck with the stars aligning for it to happen.

“As a company, it is a major feather in our cap and hopefully, this will open more doors which were previously closed or only ajar.”

Bulgarian promoter FEST Team is also hoping the success of Sheeran’s show at Vasil Levski Stadium in Sofia (31 August) will be a calling card for other A-list artists.

“[We hope] more prominent artists will acknowledge Bulgaria as a substantial market with tour potential”

“Our aspiration is that the success of this event will encourage more prominent artists to acknowledge Bulgaria and the Balkan region as a substantial market with tour potential,” FEST Team’s Stefan Elenkov tells IQ.

The Sofia-based full-service promoter sold all 60,000 tickets to the Bulgaria date in the first 24 hours of the on-sale. It beat the previous record set in 2009 by Madonna who sold 19,000 tickets in the first 24 hours for a 55,000-capacity show.

“This indeed is a truly remarkable achievement,” says Elenkov. “It is important to mention that a show of this magnitude hasn’t taken place in Bulgaria since 2009.”

Staging the biggest-ever concert in Bulgaria, which is yet to be included in the Schengen Area, hasn’t been without its challenges but Elenkov says his team has been “excited to embrace them”.

“After dedicating eight months to negotiations and detailed planning, we managed to successfully overcome various infrastructural and logistic challenges associated with the venue,” says Elenkov.

“Ticket Station Bulgaria is handling a show of such magnitude for the first time and has met the tour’s criteria”

“Anticipating Bulgaria and Romania’s inclusion in the Schengen area, we expect even fewer logistical challenges, making future tour planning considerably more structured. The routing Budapest – Bucharest – Sofia – Athens—would essentially become practically borderless.”

Another source of pride for FEST Team is the reported absence of tickets for Sheeran’s Bulgaria date on Viagogo.

“This demonstrates our success in implementing stringent security measures, ensuring that only real people have bought tickets for the show,” adds Elenkov. “This marks an important milestone – Ticket Station Bulgaria is handling a show of such magnitude for the first time and has precisely met the tour’s criteria.”

Sheeran’s team has long taken an aggressive stance against the secondary ticketing market, opting to use 100% mobile digital ticketing technology to keep tickets in the hands of fans.

The tour’s local promoters in Lithuania also have a lot to celebrate after sales for Sheeran’s two 2024 dates in the country broke “all previous entertainment sales records” across the Baltic states.

“By selling the most tickets of any artist in the Baltics, Sheeran has set yet another record”

According to L Tips Agency – which is organising Sheeran’s concerts in the Baltics for the third time – the first concert sold out in just over 24 hours the second is already more than 50% sold out, nine months in advance.

Provided both dates in Lithuania sell out, Sheeran will perform to 90,000 fans across the 3 and 4 August at Darius and Girėnas Stadium in Kaunas.

“In 2019, he set the record for the most visited international artist show of all time in Latvia with an attendance of approximately 50,000 people,” says Gints Putnins, owner of L Tips Agency. “Now a new record has been set for the whole of the Baltics!”

The Agency, which is one of the largest independent promoters in the Baltic States, is promoting the concert alongside FKP Scorpio.

Folkert Koopmans, founder & CEO of FKP Scorpio, adds: “By selling the most tickets of any artist in the Baltics, Ed Sheeran has set yet another record. We’re proud and happy to be promoting the shows and couldn’t have done so without the support of all local stakeholders and our partner agencies. L Tips Agency’s work has been invaluable in making the second-ever music concert in Kaunas stadium possible. We’re already looking forward to seeing everything coming together in August 2024!”

The 32-year-old’s forthcoming Dubai concerts could become the best-selling shows in UAE history

Sheeran’s record-breaking streak doesn’t stop at independent promoters, nor does it stop in Europe. As previously reported in IQ, the 32-year-old’s forthcoming Dubai concerts could become the best-selling shows in UAE history, according to All Thing Live Middle East CEO Thomas Ovesen.

The British singer-songwriter is due to play the Sevens Stadium from 19-20 January 2024 in what are being called the largest open-air concerts ever to take place in Dubai.

The dates, which will see Sheeran perform “in the round”, will be his first in the Middle East since playing at the city’s Autism Rocks Arena in November 2017, which attracted a sell-out 23,272 crowd.

Last month, Sheeran concluded the North American leg of his Mathematics tour, with the final date on 28 October at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Sheeran is represented by Marty Diamond and Ash Lewis at Wasserman for US and Canada, and Jon Ollier at One Finiix Live for the rest of the world.

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

One Fiinix Live hires booking agent Rob McGee

Jon Ollier’s One Fiinix Live has appointed booking agent Rob McGee.

McGee brings with him acts including Food House, freekind., Honeyblood, ĠENN, Ladyhawke, Shelf Lives, Sløtface, THUMPER and more.

He joins One Fiinix from FMLY Agency – a global talent agency, festival programme consultancy and artist management company based in Brighton – where he spent almost three years as an agent.

Prior to that, he spent just over two years as a booking agent at Bristol-based global talent agency, The Empire Agency.

“Rob joining One Fiinix Live is a coup, he oozes passion and drive”

“Rob joining One Fiinix Live is a coup, he oozes passion and drive and added to his commitment and energy, he deserves to go all the way,” Ollier tells IQ. “Exactly the kind of person we are keen to come on this journey with us. It goes without saying we are very excited to welcome him to the company.”

The One Fiinix team is completed by agents Sean Goulding, Jess Kinn and Emma Davis, as well as Sean Denny, Phil Wimble, Gaby Domanski and Joe Shacklady.

“Joining Jon, Emma, Jess, Sean and the team at One Fiinix is a dream come true,” says McGee. “I’m honoured to be joining a family of passionate and dedicated people who are committed to helping artists achieve their dreams. I have never been more excited to be working in the live industry and look forward to starting on my new path here, with the legends of One Fiinix Live.”

One Fiinix Live was launched by Ollier in November 2020, following his departure from CAA.

The UK-based global booking agency represents acts including Ed Sheeran, Years & Years, 2Cellos, Calum Scott and Tessa Violet.

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

IQ Tour of the Year 2022: Ed Sheeran + – = ÷ x

It’s 8.29 pm at Dublin’s Croke Park, 23 April 2022. The sense of anticipation among the 82,000 fans present – here to see Ed Sheeran kick off his fourth world tour, the +–=÷× Tour (AKA the Mathematics Tour) – is building to fever pitch; a giant red and yellow screen in front of the stage has been displaying a ten-minute count down, and there’s just one minute to go.

When it hits zero, the screens go up and Sheeran launches into Tide, the opening track of his fifth studio album, 2021’s =; a joyous frenzy and outpouring of celebration ensues.

“Magic” is how the Irish Examiner describes it; “a show that will live long in the memory,” adds the Independent. “When the music started, to hear and see the audience’s reaction and share their excitement, was really emotional,” says Helen Himmons, +–=÷×’s production manager. “To be standing there experiencing so many original, custom-designed elements all coming together for the first time in front of 82,000 people was exhilarating,” adds Bren Berry of Aiken Promotions, who was responsible for all ten of Sheeran’s Irish dates.

But that night was just the start; over 53 more shows in 2022 Sheeran wowed fans and critics alike and truly put on a show for the ages. From the sheer number of fans that he entertained to some of the groundbreaking production elements and the success of touring such a mammoth show in the challenging post-Covid environment, it’s no surprise that we have awarded Sheeran and his team IQ’s Tour of the Year award for 2022.

Galway Girl(s and Boys)
The anticipation in Dublin wasn’t just because Sheeran is one the world’s biggest pop stars and musical icons or that he has a particularly passionate fanbase in the Emerald Isle (in total he sold 410,000 tickets in Ireland, incredible for an island with less than 7 million inhabitants). It was also the first major outdoor concert in Ireland in three years, following the Covid-19 pandemic. “We sold 225,000 tickets in the first hour,” says Berry, “and if the dates had been available, we could have sold extra shows in Limerick and Belfast.”

But being the first large, outdoor event post-Covid also brought challenges. “The venue, local council, and suppliers all had different opinions about what should happen regarding Covid-19,” adds Berry. “There was also quite a bit of debate in the media about conditions that should be applicable for what was really the first big show in Ireland for three years.” The show – and the tour so far – went off without a hitch though; no mean feat considering its scale.

“We sold 225,000 tickets in the first hour and if the dates had been available, we could have sold extra shows”

And the numbers themselves are mind-boggling. Over 3.1m tickets sold, generating over £200m in revenue. 125 crew spread over three separate teams (plus 80 local crew at each venue); 84 trucks hauling over 56 tonnes of gear; a unique, custom-built stage design that had never been toured before; brand-new, state-of-the-art pyro effects; and even discussions with the UK government at Cabinet level.

Chief architects behind the tour, alongside Sheeran, are artist manager Stuart Camp and agents Marty Diamond from Wasserman Music for North America and Jon Ollier from One Fiinix Live for Europe and the rest of the world.

Revealing the detailed planning for the Mathematics production, Camp says, “We were talking about this show before we completed the Divide tour in the summer of 2019. The in-the-round idea has been knocked back and forth for several years, but this was the time to take the plunge – although the pandemic did throw a curveball, so we did consider going to a more standard end-on show given the uncertainties regarding what touring would look like.”

Explaining why the tour visited the markets and venues that it did across Europe, Ollier tells IQ, “You can only do what you do in the short season of weather window for stadium shows, and that’s sort of what dictated our tour routing in 2022. Certainly, there were no ‘filler’ dates or markets on the European tour leg.”

Turning to the actual show itself, Camp says, “We just wanted to do something that we hadn’t done before…to make the show as special and unique as we could.”

That remit fell upon the shoulders of production designer Mark Cunniffe, who notes, “It’s a huge show in terms of industrial presence, but it has a very theatrical feel and attention to detail that give it its unique look.”

But the complexity of the production was daunting, and Sheeran’s agent discloses that the core team initially worked on two concepts, just in case the more ambitious option would not work. “The caution on our part was in our expectations as we emerged from the pandemic,” says Ollier. “Our attitude was simply to have a good crack at it to see what we could achieve.

“We just wanted to do something that we hadn’t done before…to make the show as special and unique as we could”

“We worked on the ‘plan B’, involving a traditional end-on stage, in parallel, flipping between the two concepts as we worked out what was feasible financially as well as logistically and from an engineering perspective. The watershed moment was when Ed decided that he had to deliver the best show possible to the fans because everyone had endured such a lot during the pandemic, and he wanted to give them something they could remember for the rest of their lives. So that’s the moment we dumped the idea of the end-on stage and put all our efforts into the show being in-the-round.

“What everyone has put together is the most ambitious tour I’ve ever worked on; the fact we were trying to pull it off while we were in the pandemic made it all the more complicated but also all the more satisfying.”

And hinting at the groundbreaking nature of the setup, artist manager Camp adds, “By far the most extraordinary feature of the show is the structural cable net system. Whist it’s an existing architectural principle, it has never been toured before and is rightly considered to be the first of its kind in the touring entertainment industry.”

Beautiful People
The complexity of that system was developed over the course of 12 months, with Sheeran’s team working with Cunniffe and Himmons to come up with the initial concept before approaching Jeremy Lloyd at Wonder Works to see if it was possible from an engineering perspective. They then engaged Stage One to see if it could be constructed in such a way to make it tourable – could it be put together in the four days they had at each venue prior to the show, then dismantled and removed within 24 hours?

It was a tough challenge.

“I’ve always wanted to present Ed in the round, as I believe that’s the perfect way to get him closer to as many people in the audience as possible,” says Cunniffe. “Once he was happy with that concept, I busied myself designing a show that didn’t have the obligatory use of a four-post roof system, as that would have obscured the artist’s view of the audience. After a great deal of blue-sky thinking, I came up with a structural support with a cable net system that was as aesthetically pleasing as it was functional. It was also a unique design that hadn’t been toured before.”

Such cable net systems are usually supported by some form of permanent structure, typically a roof. Team Sheeran’s challenge was creating an in-the-round setup with no supporting pillars for the stage, screens, or PA – essentially trying to suspend 56 tonnes of equipment on a temporary rig, and one that was relatively quick to build and dismantle. Thanks to some clever engineering, a lot of innovation, and the construction of many custom elements, Cunniffe and co. made it a reality.

“The watershed moment was when Ed decided that he had to deliver the best show possible to the fans because everyone had endured such a lot during the pandemic”

“What we have is a central round stage with a circular ‘halo’ of video and lighting that rises up from the stage floor and suspends in the air,” says Himmons. “It’s held there by a complex cable net system, which is tensioned between six red ‘masts’ – these masts provide a rigging opportunity for plectrum-shaped IMAG video screens and audio hangs and the bases of them are also used as satellite stages for the band members.”

“To make the show efficiently tourable, an important part of the production design was to ensure that as many processes as possible could occur concurrently,” adds Lloyd. Thus, once the masts and cables were installed, along with some advance equipment, production worked in two teams, on opposite masts, ensuring the structure was loaded as evenly – and as quickly – as possible. Similarly, while all this was going on, the stage was constructed off to one side; when the cable net was done, the stage was simply rolled into place.

The resulting show was the event of the summer for millions of fans – and that will be the case for millions more in 2023, 24 and 25, according to Camp.

“2023 will see us go to Australia and New Zealand – a place so close to our hearts and always a joy to tour in – though also the first shows we have done there since the passing of Michael Gudinski, so it will be very poignant,” states Camp.

“Then we are onto the Americas: North America from April to September before we go for some shows into Central and South America. 2024 will hopefully see us go through southeast Asia and the European markets we weren’t able to visit this year, and I envisage the tour coming to a close in summer 2025.”

That’s music to the ears of the many promoters and partners involved in Sheeran’s career.

Afterglow
Salomon Hazot, of Saloni Productions, has worked with Sheeran “since his first show in a club” and is constantly impressed by how “he does all that is required to make things work.”

His two shows at the Stade de France could have been three, he says, but adding another was logistically impossible – the stadium was booked. But the show was, Hazot says, “really unbelievable. There was such a buzz, many French industry people came to the show to see how it worked.”

Steve Tilley of Kilimanjaro Live first promoted Sheeran back in 2009, and says, “The production was next level and really spectacular – they rewrote the rules on what can be achieved in terms of the way they designed and built the whole setup. Every night, I stood and watched in awe.” He adds that it’s an “absolute joy and an honour to be part of the team and work with Ed – everyone involved behaves with pure class and professionalism.”

“They rewrote the rules on what can be achieved in terms of the way they designed and built the whole setup”

FKP Scorpio chief Folkert Koopmans notes that despite Covid and “the extreme circumstances our society and economy find themselves in, this was probably his best-selling tour ever. The enormous ticket demand ensured the list of concert dates grew longer and longer – there was at least one extra show in almost every tour city.” He adds that the tour was “really something very different and special – working with him and his team feels like travelling with family. He’s never stopped being ‘just Ed,’ which is why his story as an artist is relatable – and he’s worked very hard to be where he is right now.”

In Switzerland, Johannes Vogel, owner and director of AllBlues Konzert AG, says that within hours of the first show going on sale, they announced a second – both sold out incredibly quickly (47,500 for both nights). “The production was not just huge and spectacular – it was made to help Ed deliver the best shows possible,” he says. “The level of intimacy for a stadium show and how close he was to the fans was extraordinary – it felt like being in a club with 50,000 others!”

In Austria it was a similar story – 130,000 over two nights, with 70% of the fans in Vienna being female. “The whole concept was incredible,” says Ewald Tatar of Barracuda Music, “and he’s one of the friendliest artists we have ever met. It’s always very professional working with Ed and his team, and we are very proud to be part of this ‘family’ for Austria.”

“It’s quite extraordinary how Ed beats his own sales records every time, and these shows were no exception, with four shows gone in about 48 hours,” says Xenia Grigat of Denmark’s Smash!Bang!Pow! “It’s spectacular to do an in- the-round show – it’s a treat for fans – but this one was in a different league. And the fact that there’s a lot of the same people working with Ed as when he first started out says a lot about the artist and the work environment he has created – everyone on the team is a pleasure to work with.”

“The production was genuinely incredible,” adds Simon Jones of AEG, who has worked with Sheeran for over 11 years. “It’s an engineering masterpiece, and by going to an in-the-round setup, he reached more people – it lent itself so well to the way he performs, which is so inclusive.” Jones also touches on another important element for the +–=÷× Tour – ticketing. “Ed’s main mantra is to protect his fans from unscrupulous touting and from being taken advantage of. So, we always put stringent anti-secondary measures in place, which require an extra couple of layers prior to purchasing.”

“It’s quite extraordinary how Ed beats his own sales records every time, and these shows were no exception, with four shows gone in about 48 hours”

“I think there’s a real legacy to this tour in terms of the ticketing strategy,” says FKP Scorpio’s Daniel Ealam. “We felt that in a post-pandemic world, there really needed to be a way of doing ticketing at this level in a regimented digital way, so we set about writing a comprehensive Ticketing Principles document with various rules for our ticketing partners to adhere to, to protect Ed’s fans. Our ticketing partners in the UK at Ticketmaster, Eventim, See, Gigantic, and AXS really bought into the idea that our tickets needed to stay with the person who bought it, unless sold through an official face-value reseller. This was rolled out throughout Europe and ran really smoothly.”

To fulfil that wish, CTS Eventim’s EVENTIM. Pass was put to the test, with its digital and personalised ticket abilities. “We used EVENTIM.Pass exclusively for the first time in ticket sales for Ed Sheeran’s European tour,” says Alexander Rouff, CTS Eventim’s COO. “After the start of presales, more than 1m digital tickets for the tour were sold in eight countries within a very short time.”

He explains, “The ticket purchased via EVENTIM.Pass can only be accessed on the smartphone using the EVENTIM.App – it is securely stored there, and the associated individual QR code for admission authorisation is only displayed shortly before an event. This and other security features largely prevent unauthorised resale, forgery, and misuse.”

The new system worked “100%” claims Rouff.

Indeed, there was only one attempt at fraud, and “it was detected and prevented by the missing security features of the ticket.” For fans of paper tickets, the company also offered EVENTIM. Memory Tickets. “The Memory Ticket for Ed Sheeran’s tour design was very well received by fans,” adds Rouff.

The A Team
Taking such a mammoth production on the road demands that Sheeran has two advance systems – basically the six red masts, cable net systems, and the satellite stages for the band. These leapfrog each other, so each advance team prepares every other venue. “But there was only one version of the universal production – sound, lights, video, automation, performance stage – so that was loaded in and out for every show,” adds Himmons.

Making sure the production equipment gets from A to B to Z is Global Motion who have been working with Sheeran since he first started playing arenas a decade ago.

“Getting back to work, post-Covid, has been great, but it’s been a bit of a nightmare in terms of finding people who want to work – it’s still not back to normal,” says Global Motion director Adam Hatton. “However, for a huge tour like this, the solution is all in the planning and thankfully team Sheeran are fantastic at that.”

Hatton reports that while for most clients concerned about sustainability, the advice is to simply take less gear on the road, for the huge spectaculars, like Mathematics, that isn’t always possible. “We decided to sign up to DHL’s sustainability programme which offers ways to offset carbon, as well as using electric trucks, etc, where possible.”

“For a huge tour like this, the solution is all in the planning and thankfully team Sheeran are fantastic at that”

And applauding the brains behind the Mathematics Tour, Hatton adds, “The show is extremely impressive – seeing a stadium show in the round is amazing. There were huge logistical issues to overcome to get this show on the road, but when you see the result, it makes everything worthwhile, and it’s been a pleasure to be involved with everyone who has made the tour possible.”

Working hand-in-hand with Global Motion were the trucking partners, who arguably faced the tour’s biggest dilemmas thanks to Brexit making the landscape even more complicated in what was already a Covid-challenged environment.

For the universal production element, KB Event were once again entrusted – the company has been working with Sheeran since 2012. In total, 27 Mega Box Artics and 5 Mega Curtain Side Arctics were required, each with a lead driver and two support leads. But with the tour starting in the Republic of Ireland, moving into the UK, and then touring for three months in mainland Europe, registrations and permits proved tricky to coordinate.

“Because of the Cabotage issues and the solutions we managed to agree with the UK government, all of the trucks on the tour had to be EU-registered vehicles,” says KB Event CEO, Stuart McPherson. “This gave the added complication that all the experienced UK drivers that had worked on previous Sheeran tours had to be sent to Ireland to sit their EU DCPC qualifications before the tour started. This also meant that replacement, standby, and substitute drivers all had to hold EU qualifications, too. This is an issue we have never had to deal with before and presented serious challenges and expenses getting everything in place before the tour started up.”

The proposed routing and show schedules also presented numerous logistical issues, again due to Brexit and the many new rules and regulations now in force regarding cross-border working. To get around this, KB engaged with the UK government and DfT, alongside trade association LIVE and the Road Haulage Association.

After months of negotiation, the UK government decided they would consider a duel registration option, where a company that has registered businesses in the EU and the UK (as long as both held a valid operator’s licence) could switch their EU trucks onto and off a UK operator’s licence. But with this not coming into law until August or September 2022, and the tour starting in April, things looked bleak.

“It’s an engineering masterpiece, and by going to an in-the-round setup, he reached more people”

The power of Sheeran – and the hard work of his transport suppliers – prevailed when a solution was proposed that would see the UK authorities adopt a short-term, temporary fix to get the industry through the summer. “This was accepted and pushed through cabinet just four weeks before the tour started,” says McPherson. “And I can tell you, we all slept a lot better that night!”

With KB Event handling the universal production, the two advanced systems were transported by Pieter Smit. They also faced challenges. “It was extremely difficult to get new trucks in Europe,” reports Steve Kroon, head of sales and relations. “We were lucky that through our extensive network, we found several brands that could deliver trucks with the highest emission class (Euro 6) – we had DAF, MAN, Ford, and Mercedes-Benz.” Kroon reveals it’s the first time the company has toured such a big production using renewable diesel. He adds, “We’re proud to be the first trucking company to have actually entered Sunderland’s Stadium of Light by truck and trailer combination – it was close and narrow, but we did it.”

There were plenty of other issues to solve for an outdoor, temporary, in-the-round setup. To ensure that no waterproofing or covers were required, everything – be it video, lighting, staging, or special effects – had to be IP65 rated. “A lot of time was spent sourcing, and in some cases, manufacturing from scratch, equipment that fulfilled this particular brief,” says Cunniffe.

Furthermore, the nature of stadium pitches or open, soft ground provided another challenge to overcome. “With the outer perimeter of the stage revolving, the entire performance stage has to be completely level in order for it to move,” says Himmons. “As we were not working on flat arena floors this was a challenge, specifically on the greenfield sites we played. And the floors also had to be able to take the weight of the show – some stadiums had underground car parks, directly beneath the pitch, so we had to look at our build process and crane movements, making sure we kept weight evenly distributed during the build, as well as consulting on how to support the floor from below because of the void underneath.”

I See Fire
Pyro was another element where the production and design team wanted to add something new. Tim Griffiths of Pains Fireworks was brought in to create some exciting effects; he didn’t disappoint. The brief, he says, was to “create something spectacular that could be repeated each night within the confines of the set. The incredible floating LED halo was the obvious place for us to mount close-proximity pyros, but the most exciting idea was trying to create a moment at the beginning of the concert using daylight effects. We decided to go for coloured, daylight smoke mines, which are the latest innovation of the past few years. They look stunning when fired in bright daylight and created an incredible rainbow feature four times at the start of each show.”

“Ed has set the bar high now, and I genuinely believe this is the most spectacular and ambitious live show on Earth”

Griffiths also utilised eleven of the latest liquid flame heads from German manufacturer, Galaxis. “The new Galaxis L-Flame was only released last year, and we had ordered the first batch in the UK, used them last summer, and knew that they would look fantastic built into the revolving stage,” he says. “The flame pumps sit under the stage and feed the heads with liquid IPA. The biggest challenge initially was to refine the flame heights and get a consistent flame using smaller nozzles than those supplied to reduce the height and avoid burning the lighting rig.”

Perfect
Although the sell-out tour could have added extra dates in key cities, Camp admits the approach was a little more cautious than it may normally have been. “The live industry was still re-finding its feet when we put our shows on sale for ’22,” says Camp. “I think it was the first stadium tour to go up post pandemic, and we did the same level of business here in Europe as the last tour.”

Confirming the total of 3.1m ticket sales across Europe during 2022, agent Ollier reveals the next tour leg in Australasia will account for another 700,000 tickets. He says, “Of course, a production of this size doesn’t come without its challenges and there are always going to be bumps on the road and nuances, but Ed has set the bar high now, and I genuinely believe this is the most spectacular and ambitious live show on Earth.”

Talking of Sheeran’s development as an artist, Camp adds, “He really has just simply grown in ability and confidence. This is the first tour we have used a band – albeit only for a quarter of the set – but it has bought another dimension and enabled Ed to perform songs that were previously tricky with just one man and a loop pedal.”

Mathematics’ added element of supporting musicians was just one of multiple surprises to entertain and enthral millions of fans.

The emotion and ambition of that opening show in Dublin rolled all over Europe and is set to be repeated across four additional continents before returning to Europe in 2024. As Bren Berry says of that opening night: “You go all in, roll the dice, hold your breath, and hope you hit the jackpot, which of course Ed and his brilliant team have done with this incredible, ground-breaking show. The opening night worked like a dream – the in-the-round atmosphere was electric, and Ed absolutely smashed it out of the park. I can still see the utter delight on his face coming off the stage.” It’s a sight that sets to be replicated a few more times as the rest of the world gets to experience the +–=÷× Tour in all its brilliance and glory.

 

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

Ed Sheeran sold the most concert tickets in 2022

Ed Sheeran sold more concert tickets this year than any other act, according to Billboards end-of-year box office scores.

The English singer-songwriter, who is represented by One Fiinix Live boss Jon Ollier, sold more than three million tickets to 63 concerts on the European leg of his + – = ÷ x (Mathematics) stadium tour.

The outing was also the third highest-grossing tour of 2022, raking in US$246,287,916 (around £202m). Bad Bunny claimed the top spot, grossing $373,463,379 for 65 shows, while Elton John came in second with $334,385,023 for 84 concerts.

Of Sheeran’s 63 concerts, the five-date run at London’s Wembley Stadium in June/July charted highest on Billboard‘s Top Boxscores, coming second after Harry Styles’ 15-date run at New York’s Madison Square Garden.

The Wembley shows, promoted by FKP Scorpio and Kilimanjaro Live, grossed US$37,232,300 (around £30m) from ticket sales alone and drew 420,269 attendances.

“The success of the + – = ÷ x Tour is simply unprecedented”

A further eight entries for the Mathematics tour can be found in the Top 50 Boxscores, including runs at Manchester’s Etihad Stadium, Munich’s Olympiastadion and Cardiff’s Principality Stadium.

“Superlatives are the order of the day with Ed Sheeran, but the success of this tour is and remains simply incredible,” FKP Scorpio CEO Folkert Koopmans previously told IQ. “The success of the + – = ÷ x Tour is simply unprecedented.”

While Smash!bang!pow, which promoted Sheeran’s record-breaking shows in Denmark, said the ticket sales are “beyond comparison” in Danish music history.

The Mathematics is the follow-up to Sheeran’s 255-show ÷ (Divide) run from 2017-19 which surpassed U2’s 360° as the highest-grossing tour ever, with a gross of $776.2m. It also set a new record for total attendance, at 8,796,567.

Sheeran will continue the Mathematics tour in 2023 with a trip to Australia in February and March and his first North American stadium tour in five years, next summer.

IQ will be publishing an in depth report on Sheeran’s tour in its bumper year-end issue – out shortly.

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

One Fiinix Live taps senior agent Sean Goulding

Jon Ollier’s independent agency One Fiinix Live has made a statement of intent with the hiring of experienced agent Sean Goulding from UTA.

New Yorker Goulding, who will continue to be based in London, has worked with artists such as Post Malone, Waterparks, Princess Nokia, Che Lingo, Denise Chaila, and Illenium. It is yet to be confirmed which of his existing clients will join him in his new role.

One Fiinix Live, which represents the likes of Ed Sheeran, Years & Years, 2Cellos, Calum Scott and Tessa Violet, was founded by Ollier in 2020 following his departure from CAA.

“I’m thrilled to be a part of building a progressive and innovative new company with Jon and the team”

“I’m thrilled to be a part of building a progressive and innovative new company with Jon and the team,” says Goulding. “Being surrounded by people courageous enough to venture out independently is precisely where I want to be. That’s the type of energy that will enhance the services provided to our clients as we move forward.”

Goulding joined The Agency Group, which was later absorbed into UTA, in 2006.

“I cannot express how excited we are to have Sean joining us. Sean is a real thoroughbred veteran of our game; he is incredibly experienced and knowledgeable but at the same time as hungry and passionate as anyone I have met,” says Ollier. “We share a vision for the future of business in general and I think this collaboration makes a real statement of intent for both parties.”

One Fiinix made its first hire in early 2021, recruiting ex-Paradigm agent Jess Kinn. Kinn recently spoke to IQ about her first year with the firm.

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

Jess Kinn on Years & Years, One Fiinix Live and 2022

One Fiinix Live agent Jess Kinn has spoken to IQ about her first year at Jon Ollier’s agency, her drive for a more inclusive industry and the challenges facing the agency business in 2022.

Kinn was the first agent to be hired by Ollier at One Finiix Live, who hailed her an “exciting and forward-thinking talent with a fantastic reputation and a huge future ahead of her”.

She joined the agency from livestreaming company LiveNow, having worked on some of 2020’s biggest music live streams, such as the Pete Tong Heritage Orchestra, Gorillaz and Dua Lipa’s record-breaking Studio 2054.

Kinn began her career with the Leighton Pope Organisation and worked her way up from receptionist to agent at Paradigm (formerly Coda Agency).

Her current roster at One Fiinix Live comprises more than 20 artists including Years & Years, Cat Burns, Mallrat, Tessa Violet, Beka and July Jones.

 


How did you come to be the first agent at Jon Ollier’s One Finiix Live agency?
JK: I heard really great things about Jon – everyone said he was one of the ‘good ones’. So I just called him up in November 2020 and asked for a chat – I think he thought it was about live streaming. I said, ‘Look, Jon, you don’t know me, but this is what I’m doing, this is who I am’. He invited me for lunch and we had this amazing four-hour chat about everything; our love of music, what we wanted from a company and the kind of culture we wanted to build. It just totally made sense. The next day we were both like ‘yeah, let’s do this’.

You’ve been at the agency for a year now. Tell us about some of the successes you’ve had with your roster in the past 12 months.
Olly [Alexander, Years & Years] had an amazing year. I guess it started with [Channel 4’s hit drama] It’s a Sin and then we had the Elton John performance at the Brits 2021 and the New Year’s Eve BBC show. It was amazing that we could do a 15-track show, featuring Kylie Minogue, Pet Shop Boys and queens from RuPaul’s drag race. It was a real celebration of all that we’d all done that year and that geared us up for the album [Night Call] which charted at number 1 [in January].

We have festivals coming up in the summer and our arena tour at the end of May. Cat Burns has had an incredible start to the year. We put up her debut headline show at Omeara which sold out in 30 mins so we put up another and it sold out in an hour. We’ve got a ton of exciting supports and festivals coming up this year.

“I think we’re all going to have to be malleable and adaptable this year”

Covid and Brexit are presenting huge challenges for touring, do you have a strategy to navigate the pitfalls?
Jon and I were quite sure that a lot wasn’t going to happen at the beginning of this year so we made a decision to avoid booking shows in early Q1. I’ve booked a lot of my European tours from May onwards. Especially US-based or Australia based artists I’m touring them from Q3 onwards as it still feels risky. I’m making sure my artists only play shows when it makes total sense and everything aligns. It’s about thinking: ‘why are we doing these shows? Is the world ready to hear this artist? Is the road ready to see this artist live? Is the timing right?’ This resonates more now than it ever did because every artist is out touring this year.

How are you dealing with the oversaturation of the concert market?
Venue availability is just crazy. But I think as more changes happen with, say, US acts having to push back their UK/EU dates, there will be more availability. You’ve got to be thinking so much further ahead than you ever did. I think we’re all going to have to be malleable and adaptable this year. You’ve got to be quick to change plans and try to find different ways to do things. If you can’t get the venue that you want, try and find a more unique location. If you’ve missed a certain market, try another one. It’s important to remember that things can’t be perfect, you can only do what you can do and you can only plan so much.

“I think we need to make sure that every show is special so that fans feel confident to buy and want to come to shows again”

UK promoters have reported an astounding amount of no-shows since the industry reopened. What has been your experience with this?
All of my newer artists like Ellie Dixon, Beka, Michael Aldag sold out their shows in 2021 and there weren’t many no shows. I think it was a case of good timing. Jon [Ollier’s] idea was to follow the sun around so the last show I booked was at the end of November. Post-Nov-Dec was when things started plateauing again with Covid. So, again, it’s about making sure that you only book things with intention and good reason.

How have you found ticket sales since the industry reopened?
Across the board, it has been hard to sell tickets. The amount of artists touring vs the amount of money people are able to spend on shows makes it super hard. Also, buyer confidence has plummeted because so many fans have bought tickets to shows that have been moved or cancelled. I think we need to make sure that every show is special so that fans feel confident to buy and want to come to shows again.

“Live streaming from an empty venue – which feels like a reminder of a time when we couldn’t attend shows – won’t continue”

With promoters having to honour line-ups that were booked two years ago, are there enough opportunities in 2022 for the newer artists on your roster?
There are definitely far fewer opportunities this year. I’m telling my artists and managers that we should aim for two or three opportunities that we really want and then try and build around that. They’re all aware of how difficult this year is – it’s going to be rough and tumble. Things will come late, plans will change. Last year, when promoters were going through the worst of it – not even knowing if they had jobs I checked in on them and made sure they were ok rather than demanding slots on festivals that might not happen.

You worked in the livestreaming business during the pandemic boom. What is your point of view on the format now?
It depends. Live streaming a concert from an empty venue is very different to live streaming a concert with an audience there. That’s why the Dua Lipa [Studio 2054] stream and the Gorillaz stream worked so well because they were hybrids between a music video and a live stream and something you could never see live. Live streaming from an empty venue – which just feels like a reminder of a time when we couldn’t attend shows – won’t continue. You just cannot replace going to a concert and being there in person.

“What I’ve realised now, at One Finiix Live, is that my main asset is being myself”

How have you found gender diversity in the industry, during your career?
It has been really hard. It’s still a very male-dominated industry. I’ve been surrounded by female assistants but few female agents or bookers and so I’ve often been the only woman in the room with artists, managers and promoters. I’ve been told I have a big personality, I’m confident and outspoken, but I feel that’s been misjudged at times and used against me, especially because I’m a woman. I used to feel like I had to dim myself down to make others feel comfortable, what I’ve realised now, at One Finiix Live, is that my main asset is being myself.

Who are some women you admire in the live music industry?
Kelly Chappell is a huge inspiration and should have also won ‘best speech’ at the Women in Music Awards! Laura Davidson who started her own company Amigas is super important to me. I try to work with female promoters like her, as well as Maddie Arnold at Live Nation, Chloe Pean at AEG and Alexandra Ampofo at Metropolis. On the agency side, I love Alice Hogg [ATC Live], Sally Dunstone [Primary Talent International] and Whitney Boateng [WME] – we worked together at CODA. There’s also an incredible team of women at One Fiinix Live – Emma Davis and Eve Thomas. Caroline Reason at Mata Agency is also an absolute queen!

“Before I confirm Years & Years for a festival, I insist on building [an inclusive] lineup together with promoters”

What are you doing to further diversity, equity and inclusion in the industry?
We’re making sure every UK festival Years & Years are playing are real inclusive spaces for everyone and the lineups are diverse across gender, race and sexuality. Before I confirm Years & Years for a festival, I insist on building the lineup together with promoters. So far, promoters – even the ones lacking in expertise in that area – are super open to it. I’m fortunate because most of the Y&Y shows are headlines so we are in a great position to enforce this.

I am also working with an incredible award-winning collective called Queer House Party which has built this insane following in lockdown by putting on safe and accessible spaces for people to come together within the queer community. The night has now made a leap from online to IRL selling out nights at iconic venues across UK. We are now bringing radical and queer excellence to festivals across the summer. I’m also speaking to the Trans Creative, co-founded by Charlie Deakin-Davies, who are working on creating opportunities for trans and non-binary production crews.

With all the issues agents are currently faced with, are you able to protect your mental health?
I actually feel that it has been harder to keep the work-life balance than it was pre-pandemic, there’s much more work but the demand is still the same. Everyone wants something now now now; dates are moving all the time. It feels way more intense than it did before. I’m hoping that the pressure dies down soon and, meanwhile, people do their best to be kind and patient because we’re all going through it. For me dancing and playing football is a great help!

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.