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

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.

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.”

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.

Ed Sheeran planning to tour in an electric campervan

Ed Sheeran says that he’s planning on touring in an electric campervan for his + – = ÷ x (mathematics) stadium tour, which kicks off in the spring.

Speaking last weekend as a guest on Today’s Sunday Sitdown, Sheeran said his ambition is to be “as electric as possible” in regards to his travel.

“We’re going to try and [travel] on the train or I’m talking to VW about an electric campervan,” he said. “I want to travel to every show as electric as possible.”

Sheeran also recently talked to BBC Radio London about his commitment to environmentalism and plans to “rewild as much of the UK as I can”.

“I feel like I am going to get my head bitten off anytime I say that, as my job is not a hugely sustainable job as I go and play in cities, but I am trying my best,” he added.

“I want to travel to every show as electric as possible.”

The mathematics tour, which kicks off in April next year, will see Sheeran play shows across the UK, Ireland, Central Europe and Scandinavia.

Dates for Asia, Australia and America will be announced in due course, according to a recent IQ interview with Sheeran’s live agent, Jon Ollier of One Fiinix Live.

Sheeran is the latest superstar act to discuss greener touring plans after Coldplay announced a groundbreaking eco-friendly stadium tour. The band’s agent, Josh Javor of X-Ray Touring, told IQ he hopes the tour will become a blueprint for other artists of the same calibre.


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’s Jon Ollier talks Ed Sheeran tour

Ed Sheeran’s agent Jon Ollier has spoken to IQ about the sequel to the biggest concert tour of all time.

Sheeran’s 255 show ÷ (Divide) run from 2017-19 surpassed U2’s 360° as the highest-grossing tour ever, with a gross of US$776.2 million. It also set a new record for total attendance, at 8,796,567, according to Pollstar data.

Tickets go on sale tomorrow (September 25) for the first leg of the follow-up + – = ÷ x stadium tour (pronounced |mathematics”), which kicks off in April next year.

The tour will see Sheeran play shows across the UK, Ireland, Central Europe and Scandinavia, but Ollier said breaking further records was low on the team’s list of priorities.

“Coming out of the pandemic, I think everyone would be very happy with just following it with excellence and keeping the fans happy,” the One Fiinix Live boss tells IQ.

“I think everyone would be very happy with just following [the ÷ tour] with excellence and keeping the fans happy”

“We’ve frozen the ticket prices from last time, because of everything the world’s been through, so we’re not really looking at our ambitions as much as just trying to do the best we can.

“Genuinely, the things that we are focusing on at this point in the process is getting the tickets into the hands of real fans, making sure people aren’t getting ripped off, making sure that we’re delivering excellence in everything that we do, and trying to deliver a great tour. And then everything else follows.”

The UK dates will be staged by Kilimanjaro Live, AEG Presents and FKP Scorpio, which hired longtime Sheeran co-promoter Daniel Ealam from DHP Family last year alongside Scott O’Neill.

“We had to go into arenas first on ÷ because we needed to understand the market and understand that everything was there for the taking in the way that it was, create the heat and create the demand,” explains Ollier. “But we’re at a place now where we need to satisfy the market rather than stoke the fire.”

The new tour is in support of Sheeran’s new album =, which will be released on October 29 through Asylum/Atlantic. The campaign is expected to run for three years and will include another LP before the end of 2024.

“They’ve changed up the [production] offering, so that it’s not just re-touring the old show with new songs”

“We’ll be announcing Asia, Australia, America, etc, as things roll out and I know that Ed would love to get to some new places, so I’m sure that’s on the horizon,” adds Ollier.

“We all hope that we are coming back to a market that is buoyant enough to support the level of business that will keep us running for a period of time that would allow us to get done what we usually get done. I think Ed said, ‘Right, here’s my tour, this is me now for the next three years,’ so that’s where his head’s at with it.

“And we’ll find out tomorrow when we go on sale, but we would love to be coming back to a market that feels buoyant enough for us to be able to do something like that.”

The concerts will also feature a new production set-up with Sheeran’s staging in the round, surrounded by the crowd in each stadium, potentially upping capacities. Previous tours have seen Sheeran perform solo with a loop pedal.

“They’ve changed up the offering, so there’s definitely a feeling that they’re doing something different, that it’s not just re-touring the old show with new songs,” says Ollier. “So there is definitely going to be a progression in production.”

“This time, we’ve made our ticketing 100% digital, which we think is going to be the future”

The ÷ tour was also notable for its aggressive campaign against the secondary market, and the upcoming tour will use specially developed mobile digital ticketing technology, which have safeguards in place “to ensure genuine fans are buying genuine tickets and to stop unofficial secondary ticketing sites, and unofficial ticket sellers, from being able to resell tickets at inflated prices and rip off fans”.

“This time, we’ve made our ticketing 100% digital, which we think is going to be the future,” says Ollier. “The ticketing companies have been fantastic in working with us – we’ve put quite a lot of pressure on them during a pandemic to develop their apps and the mechanisms that we need in place.

“We hope that this time [the battle against unauthorised resale sites] is going to feel a lot more like it’s all happening in the background. Last time around, it had to play out in the media because no one was listening. But people are listening now, people are aware and at the table, trying to change laws, trying to move things forward.

“There is no reason why in a world full of technology, that we can’t lean on technology a little bit more so we will have all of the failsafes and backdrops that you’d expect us to have. But it’s all going to be delivered through a digital platform, through an app, which will make sure that people enter the venue with legitimate tickets.”

Ollier began his career at Helter Skelter, moving to Free Trade Agency in 2008, when he first began working with Sheeran. He moved to CAA as a senior agent in 2015 before launching One Fiinix in November 2020, taking with him a roster of acts including Sheeran, Anne-Marie, JC Stewart, Lauv and 2Cellos.


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.

Jon Ollier: ‘The agency world has been shaken to its core’

Ed Sheeran agent Jon Ollier says hopes to help talented booking agents regain a sense of control after the devastating events of 2020 with his new venture, One Fiinix Live.

Speaking to IQ after the launch of One Fiinix last month, Ollier explained the agency’s unusual name, which was inspired by his eldest daughter’s middle name, Phoenix: “One Fiinix wasn’t necessarily named after her, but it comes from the same place,” he says. “When she was born, it was a cataclysm, and we’re in a similar situation now. A phoenix symbolises hope, rebirth, immortality, and new beginnings…”

In addition to Sheeran, Ollier takes the likes of Anne-Marie, JC Stewart, Lauv and 2Cellos to One Fiinix, which he set up following his exit from CAA in October after nearly six years at the agency.

Ollier says he looks back fondly at his tenure at CAA, which he describes as a “fantastic company” about which one “can’t say enough good things”.

“It was a very amicable exit from CAA, which came after lots and lots of discussion,” he explains. “They were very good to me.”

“I want to be able to look my kids in the eyes and tell them I did all I could to make sure we came out of this stronger”

However, as time went on, the impact of coronavirus on the major agency sector – and the opportunities presented by striking out on one’s own – became too difficult to ignore, continues Ollier. “No one single factor led me to this decision – if that was the case, I’d probably be foolish – but a major factor is the reaction to Covid-19.

“As agents, we’re problem solvers – we make things happen – but at the moment, the whole live business is being asked to just sit things out, and I’m not very good at doing that. I’ve got young kids and I want to be able to look them in the eyes in years to come and tell them I did all I could to make sure we came out of this stronger.”

Like his colleagues in the independent agency world, Ollier believes the crisis of 2020 has done much to shift the balance of the power in the agency sector.

“The business models of the big companies are not designed to withstand a pandemic. That’s not a criticism of anyone in particular – everyone has been far too complacent,” he says. The reality is that the major agencies have a huge amount of overheads, huge numbers of staff, and they’re not really able to move quickly in terms of making decisions and engineering their way out of it [the crisis].

“When the times were good, agents were being paid well and looked after by a company that seemed like it cared. But now, that whole concept has been shaken to the core. Agents need to feel a bit more like they’re in control.”

“Agents need to feel a bit more like they’re in control”

For those agents who feel like they’ve lost control of their destinies, Ollier has one simple message: Get in touch.

“So many people are clinging to this life raft, which is the job they’ve got, but which they don’t feel they have a future in,” he says, “and my job is to say, ‘Let go of the life raft.’”

Ollier says he sees One Fiinix – currently just him and longtime colleague Emma Davis – becoming a “collective of individuals who are empowered to go out and there are make deals”. “I’ve always wondered why we have a department for this, a department for that, when everyone in those departments is more than capable of going and getting a deal,” he explains.

While the new agency will have an office, the plan is to be less “departmentalised” and with more focus on its people, Ollier adds.

“At the moment, all I’m saying to people is, ‘How can I be supportive? Come and talk to me and let’s generate some ideas,’” he continues.

“Ultimately, we would like to help some people out. I’ve been helped out over the course of my career, and we all need that – no one is an island. So what I’m saying to people is: let’s get collaborative, let’s get creative, and let’s build our way out of this, however that manifests, in a mutually beneficial way.”


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.

Jon Ollier launches new agency One Fiinix Live

Ed Sheeran agent Jon Ollier has announced details of his new booking agency, launched following his recent departure from CAA.

Headquartered in London, One Fiinix Live aims to offer both a “first-class service” to Ollier’s existing roster – which also includes Anne-Marie, JC Stewart, Lauv and 2Cellos – while also investing in new “strategies to maximise opportunities in a post-Covid-19 world”, according to Ollier.

Ollier will serve as CEO of the new venture, with Emma Davis – who served as Ollier’s assistant at CAA – also joining One Fiinix Live. Ollier left CAA after nearly six years last month, along with his personal roster.

Explaining the reason behind the name, Ollier says: “I have always been interested in spirituality and symbolism. Fiinix is, of course, a play on the word Phoenix and so, therefore, a symbol of rebirth, hope, immortality and resurrection.

“It is a word that has come into relevance for me strongly at huge turning points in my life. We gave our daughter, our first child, the conventional spelling as her middle name. She came into our lives and it was all change, a new chapter in our lives. I think we are in a similar place right now: everything we knew to be true about our lives has been tested and shaken and my response to it has been to embrace the change, have faith in the immortality of music and hope in the rebirth which will come from it.”

Ollier began his career at Helter Skelter, moving to Free Trade Agency in 2008, when he first began working with Sheeran. He moved to CAA as a senior agent in 2015.

“After almost six years at CAA, where I learned a huge amount from some inspirational colleagues, I felt it was time to launch my own venture and realise the vision I had for a forward-thinking, innovative agency that could empower artists and help them reach new audiences,” he comments.

“The idea of starting the company now is to invest in a business that can grow from the bottom of the market”

The past few months have seen a flurry of activity in the agency world on both sides of the Atlantic, with the likes of Route One Booking and Runway Artists in the UK, Arrival ArtistsMint Talent Group and TBA Agency in the US and Rebel Beat Agency in Spain all having launched this autumn following cutbacks at the major agencies.

“It may seem counter intuitive, but I think this is uniquely good time to launch a new business as we enter the next phase for live music,” continues Ollier. “There will be huge opportunities as we create new ways of thinking and I believe One Fiinix Live is poised to play a leading role in that positive disruption.”

Hinting at plans to expand the number of agents at One Fiinix, he adds: “We are keen to turn the current challenges we are all facing into possibilities, and I encourage anyone who feels they have the same kind of mindset to reach out – now is the time to embrace the change.”

He adds: “The idea of starting the company now is to invest in a business that can grow from the bottom of the market and to create a vehicle that can take advantage of the situation we find ourselves in. There are talented people out there who, for a number of reasons, may feel their situation is less secure that it was and the hope is that we can start conversations, employ, go in to ventures or just simply offer support where we can.

“I think the priority for all of us right now needs to be the survival of the ecosystem as a whole and so I think the industry will become naturally more collaborative. It is then just about seeing what opportunities come out of that collaboration.”


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.

Sheeran agent Jon Ollier to launch own company

Jon Ollier has become the latest agent to use 2020 as a springboard to launch his own independent company, after CAA today confirmed he will be leaving the agency within weeks.

Ollier will be taking his biggest client, Ed Sheeran, with him, alongside fellow British stars Anne-Marie and Calum Scott, but at the moment it is unclear who else from his roster might also be part of the new venture.

Ollier was at Free Trade Agency until March 2015, when he joined CAA’s London office. His departure from the company is amicable, with CAA offering their full support for his yet-to-be named new venture.

“Starting my own company has been a dream of mine and I appreciate CAA’s support in this transition”

“CAA has been a wonderful experience and one I am incredibly grateful for,” says Ollier. “It has been an absolute privilege working alongside so many outstanding people who care deeply about their clients and each other.”

He adds, “Starting my own company has been a dream of mine and I appreciate CAA’s support in this transition.”

CAA co-head, Emma Banks tells IQ, “Jon has been a great colleague and friend. We wish him the very best as he pursues an entrepreneurial path, and look forward to working with him in his new role.”

Ollier will be handing over and wrapping up with the company until mid-November and more details about his new company will be released in due course.


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.