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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.

 


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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!

 


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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.

 


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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.

 


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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.”

 


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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.”

 


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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.

 


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