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Marty Diamond charms ILMC’s Futures Forum

Renowned agent Marty Diamond regaled ILMC with stories of Ed Sheeran, Coldplay and Barack Obama during the Futures Forum 2023 keynote interview.

Having founded the celebrated boutique agency Little Big Man Booking in 1994 and after stints working at International Talent Group (ITG), Arista, PolyGram and Bill Graham Management, US-based Diamond is regarded as one of the most forward-thinking executives in the business. His current roster includes acts such as Coldplay, Sheeran, Liam Gallagher, Janelle Monáe, Sigur Rós and Lorde.

Discussing his path through the agency world, the EVP and managing executive of Wasserman Music brought this year’s conference at London’s Royal Lancaster Hotel to a close last Friday (3 March). Here are a selection of standout moments from his hour-long conversation with BBC Radio 1’s Abbie McCarthy…

“I started to have clients that meant something. But I also realised that I didn’t have the ability to service them the way that I probably should have”

Starting Little Big Man Booking…
“I either was somebody who couldn’t hold down a job, or had the attention span the span of a gnat. But ultimately I worked for a company called ITG, which was owned by Wayne Forte and Michael Farrell. Their clients were Duran Duran, Jesus Jones, David Bowie, Genesis, Phil Collins and The Cure. They were the gold standard of agencies. They were two really good people, but all good things come to an end and I was kind of at a loss because the partnership split up and I was at this crossroad of, what do I do? I was asked by each of them to come to work for them, and I realised that I probably should just go and do something on my own. I moved across the street to my friend Jim Grant’s office. The office he was giving me was a storage closet for one of his bands’ guitars. It was about 5ft x 5ft. But I started Little Big Man in [that] office. I had a handful of clients, and I originally started with one employee, a guy named Larry Webman. Larry is still with me. And then I hired this girl Tammy [Shin-Sprotte], who also worked at ITG.”

Moving to Paradigm…
“We had become a very successful little boutique agency. We moved out of that little space that was a phone closet, to Lower Manhattan on Sixth Avenue, and I started to have clients that meant something. But I also realised that I didn’t have the ability to service them the way that I probably should have. I went to work for a company called Paradigm, which I worked at for 15 years.”

“I remember Chris Martin saying to me, ‘I’m excited to be working with you. I have no intention of ever working in America'”

Discovering Ed Sheeran…
“A very good friend of mine, Scotty Brothman, told me that his label was signing this kid, Ed Sheeran, and I should be on it. I went to see Ed play in, I want to say it was Guilford, in a tiny little club. I’m not very tall, so a lot of times I go to shows and I look at the back of people’s shoulders. And I literally watched the entire show – other than the moment that Ed stood on a chair in the middle of the room – through someone’s cellphone under a dripping air conditioner. I ended up sitting on the steps outside his dressing room talking, and we became friends and I’m very happy to be a part of this team. It started in a little nightclub in Guilford, and now we’re doing 20 sellout stadiums in America.”

Working with Coldplay…
“It’s over 22 years for me and Coldplay. Phil Harvey, who’s part of the management team, was the original manager. Larry and I sat with Phil in a restaurant over by Shepherd’s Bush Empire to try to convince him to sign with us – this is when we were at Little Big Man – and we wouldn’t let him leave the restaurant until he said we represented the band. And then I went to see Coldplay at V Fest. I think it was their first round of festivals and they were on the second stage early in the day. And I remember Chris [Martin] saying to me, ‘It’s really great to meet you. I’m excited to be working with you. I have no intention of ever working in America.’ It was a moment of silence. But they’re amazing, and 22 years later, they’re in the midst of a massive stadium tour.”

“I remember President Obama bending down on his knees to talk to my daughter”

Career highlights…
“David Gray selling out Madison Square Garden during White Ladder… was an amazing moment. I actually think Ed playing Madison Square Garden might have been one of the most sensational moments in my life. I remember going to see Ed Sheeran on the first tour he did in America. He supported Snow Patrol, who were another client, and I had Janelle Monae in Washington DC the same night – she was doing the White House Easter Egg Roll when the Obamas were in the White House, so I was with my family during the day on the White House lawn with Janelle Monae. We got to meet the president, who I actually really liked – I can’t say that for many of our presidents – and I remember President Obama bending down on his knees to talk to my daughter. That was the beginning of my day. And the end of my day was sitting with Ed Sheeran, who at the time was smoking a cigarette after opening for Snow Patrol. I think we were three days into his presence in America and he’s like, ‘So when we play Madison Square Garden?'”

“I sleep three or four hours a night. My phone is next to my bed – probably not the best behaviour in the world”

What his average day looks like…
“I’ll give you my average day Los Angeles version, New York version and London version. They all start the same. The most important thing in my life is my family. My two girls are the most important thing. If I’m in LA, it’s 3am or 3.30am in the morning, I call my daughter Story to wake her. I called her at 11.30am today from London to wake up. I wake her in New York at 6am or 6.30am. That is the start of my day. Then I put my head down and I have a phenomenal team of people that I work with.”

The secret to his longevity…
“Well, I’ve been clean and sober for over 30 years. I think that’s part of it. Surrounding myself with good people is a really big part of it, and enjoying the people that I’m around. My girls are a big part of my longevity, they keep me strong, and they keep focused about being a sensitive, caring person. I fucking hate Mondays. I guess Bob [Geldof] was right when he said that, but I struggle with Mondays, I have a really hard time finding my rhythm. I don’t sleep a lot: I sleep three or four hours a night. My phone is next to my bed – probably not the best behaviour in the world. I get texts and emails from people saying, ‘When do you sleep? Why aren’t you asleep?’ A lot of times, I have no idea where I am so that sometimes plays a part!”


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Brian Eno, Jacob Collier lined up for GEI keynote

The 15th edition of the Green Events and Innovations Conference will welcome back Brian Eno for a keynote conversation with Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jacob Collier.

Titled Music as a Social Synchroniser, the conversation will see the artists explore the social function of music and how it changes us, how it offers us a local counterpoint to the big things happening in the world and why it is so important in a community.

The keynote will also address “the whole question of where music comes from, and how it arises not just from the minds of individuals, but from whole societies, traditions and living ecosystems, is a way to also connect it to the big question of the climate crisis and music’s response to it”.

Eno is a renowned musician, producer, visual artist and activist who first came to international prominence in the early seventies as a founding member of British band, Roxy Music, followed by a series of solo albums and collaborations. He interviewed Norwegian popstar Aurora for GEI’s 2022 keynote.

The keynote will also address “the whole question of where music comes from”

Collier, meanwhile, is a five-time Grammy-award-winning artist that has been featured on songs by UK music icons like Coldplay and Stormzy, and American R&B superstars such as SZA, Kehlani, and Alicia Keys.

In his own projects, Collier has worked with a diverse cast of artistic powerhouses, from Malian singer Oumou Sangaré to John Mayer, T-Pain, Ty Dolla $ign, Daniel Caesar, Tori Kelly and Mahalia.

He has also helped Oscar-winner Hans Zimmer score the recent Boss Baby films and has written for a forthcoming West End musical on the life of opera singer Luciano Pavarotti.

Eno and Collier join a first round of speakers for GEI 15 that includes Dale Vince (Ecotricity), Rosanna Machado, Mark Stevenson (CUR8), Zed Anwar and Andy Cato (Wildfarmed, Groove Armada).

GEI is A Greener Festival’s flagship event and is organised in partnership with the ILMC, which takes place at the Royal Lancaster Hotel between 28 February and 3 March.

The leading gathering for sustainability at live events will take place on 28 February 2023. For more information on the conference, or to purchase tickets, click here.


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Casey Wasserman confirmed for ILMC keynote

Casey Wasserman, one of the most powerful figures in the global live agency business, has been revealed as one of a number of heavyweight keynote speakers set for ILMC 34.

The American executive is the chairman and CEO of leading sports, music and culture agency Wasserman, which specialises in marketing and talent representation on a global basis. He is also chairperson of the LA28 Olympic and Paralympic Games and most recently served as the Los Angeles Super Bowl host committee chairman for Super Bowl LVI in 2022.

In April last year, he unveiled Wasserman Music following the acquisition of Paradigm’s North American music business, adding global household names such as Billie Eilish, Coldplay, Drake, Ed Sheeran, Frank Ocean, Imagine Dragons, Jack Harlow, Janelle Monáe, Kacey Musgraves, Kenny Chesney, Normani, SZA and Zedd to an already huge roster of sports and entertainment brands, properties and talent.

In what promises to be a unique keynote interview, Casey Wasserman will be put ‘In The Hot Seat’ at this year’s ILMC. On Wednesday 27 April, he’ll give his view on the live music industry’s pathway to recovery and predictions on how live entertainment will evolve over the coming years.

“His perspective on the future of our business at this crucial time will be invaluable”

“Casey Wasserman has been a titan in live sports and entertainment for decades and his entry into music last year was attention-grabbing to say the least,” says ILMC head Greg Parmley. “His perspective on the future of our business at this crucial time will be invaluable.”

Wasserman’s addition to the ILMC line-up comes after renowned musician, producer and visual artist Brian Eno was announced in conversation with Norwegian artist Aurora on Friday 28 April. The second keynote runs as part of the Green Events & Innovations conference, which takes place within ILMC this year.

Other speakers confirmed for this year’s edition include Phil Bowdery (Live Nation), Jolanda Jansen (Rotterdam Ahoy), Mark Sutherland (journalist), John Giddings (Solo Agency), Jessica Koravos (Oak View Group), Leon Ramakers (Mojo Concerts), Alex Hill (AEG) and Stephan Thanscheidt (FKP Scorpio).

Returning in-person to London’s Royal Garden Hotel on April 26-29, ILMC also produces the ILMC Production Meeting (IPM), which will be held on Tuesday 26 April. IPM is expanding its programming in 2022 to include a day-long tranche of sessions by the Event Safety & Security Summit (E3S).

Full information about the conference including schedule, events and partners is at


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Marc Geiger confirmed for IFF 2020 keynote

Marc Geiger, WME’s former worldwide head of music, has been announced as this year’s IFF Keynote, in conversation with Goldman Sachs’ Lisa Yang.

News of the conversation comes as a host of leading figures line up to speak, and leading booking agencies Paradigm, Primary Talent International and Solo Agency announce dedicated livestream showcases of rising stars.

In light of the current Covid-19 crisis, IFF 2020, the sixth International Festival Forum, will run online as the Interactive Festival Forum (iFF), a two-day online event, from 2 to 3 September. The conference will see hundreds of festival and agency professionals congregate for panel discussions, workshops, networking and deal-making.

The keynote conversation between Geiger – who left WME earlier this year after building the agency’s music division into a global powerhouse – and Lang is expected to cover major disruptors, innovation and change over the next few years. Other topics in the iFF programme include ticket prices and artist fees, force majeure and refunds, virtual festivals, the lost year of artist development, corporate upheaval, sustainability, risk, insurance and more.

Speakers to have already announced their involvement include Alex Hardee (Paradigm), Martin Elbourne (Glastonbury), Maria May (CAA), Jim King and Arnaud Meersseman (AEG Presents), Roberta Medina (Rock in Rio), Peter Elliott and Matt Bates (Primary Talent), Fruzsina Szep, Fra Soler (Primavera Sound) and Tamas Kadar (Sziget).

“IFF remains an important moment to bring the music festival and agency sectors together”

“Even as a virtual edition, IFF remains an important moment to bring the music festival and agency sectors together,” says Paradigm director and agent James Whitting. “There’s no shortage of great new artists to showcase, and after the lost summer, a huge amount to talk about.

“If anything, this year is more vital than ever.”

Paradigm is one of the agencies to host a livestreamed showcase as part of the iFF schedule, produced in partnership with Primary Talent International and Solo Agency are also among those presenting upcoming artists.

The sixth edition of the event is backed by festival associations including Yourope, the Association of Independent Festivals, and De Concert!.

Companies to have already confirmed attendance include 13 Artists, ATC Live, Black Deer Live, BPM Concerti, Charmenko, Cobra Agency, Electric Castle, FKP Scorpio, Fullsteam Agency, Gadget ABC Entertainment, ICM Partners, Lost Horizon Festival, Matchbox Live, MetalDays Festival, Mojo Concerts, Paléo Festival Nyon, Roskilde Festival, TAKK, The Talent Boutique, Vertigo, Wacken Open Air & X-ray Touring.

More details about the IFF Keynote can be found here, while the full conference schedule is here.


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Herman Schueremans to keynote IFF 2019

Herman Schueremans, founder of Rock Werchter and CEO of Live Nation Belgium, has been revealed as the keynote interviewee for the fifth International Festival Forum (IFF), taking place in London from 24 to 26 September 2019.

One of the most influential festival pioneers in Europe, Schueremans has guided and grown the fortunes of Rock Werchter for over four decades. One of the most established and respected festivals in Europe, Werchter hosts 150,000 fans annually, has spawned satellite events including TW Classic, Werchter Boutique and Main Square Festival, and won a record six Arthur Awards.

At IFF, the invitation-only event for festivals and booking agents, Schueremans will be interviewed by ILMC founder and longtime friend Martin Hopewell.

“From starting out as a rock journalist to becoming the country’s dominant live music promoter and head of the Belgian arm of Live Nation, Schueremans remains a passionate music lover and entrepreneur, and so is an immensely fitting subject of this year’s IFF Keynote,” say conference organisers, who add that Schueremans will discuss his career, the growth of Werchter and the festival landscape today.

“With two of the industry’s best-known individuals on stage, and 60 minutes of festival-related tales and insight lined up, expect standing room only at this truly unique session.”

Schueremans follows in the footsteps of previous keynote interviewees Alex Hardee (Coda/Paradigm), Isle of Wight Festival’s John Giddings, Rock am Ring’s Marek and Andre Lieberberg and Glastonbury Festival founder Michael Eavis.

IFF 2019 takes place from Tuesday 24 to Thursday 26 September in Camden, London.

As well as confirming Schueremans, IFF has finalised its conference agenda for 2019, announcing UTA’s Greg Lowe as the chair for the traditional Festival Season panel, which kicks off Wednesday morning.

“Expect standing room only at this truly unique session”

Other conference programming includes the Big Billing Debate, chaired by Melt! Booking’s Julia Gudzent, which sees panellists debate the always-controversial issue of the ordering of festival bills, and Niche Work (If You Can Get It), moderated by IQ’s Jon Chapple, examines the proliferation of new genre-specific events outside the rock/pop bubble.

This year, IFF features additional agency partners, with 13 Artists, Solo Agency and Toutpartout joining longstanding partners CAA, Coda, WME, X-ray Touring, ITB, Primary Talent, opening party host UTA, ATC Live and Pitch and Smith. To make meetings between festivals and agents more efficient, IFF 2019 will debut a series of pop-up agency offices around the event. The temporary spaces will allow festivals to meet with most agencies without needing to travel between their ‘real’ offices.

Also new for 2019 is second outdoor networking area at Dingwalls, IFF’s longtime north London home, that will double the footprint of the event – and also allow a small additional number of festival delegates to attend – and two sets of dedicated meetings for all delegates.

The Knowledge Hub will invite leading innovators and solutions experts into IFF for a series of private 30-minute meetings on topics ranging from the latest festival tech to next generation ticketing and VIP opportunities, while the similar Green Hub welcomes leading practitioners to offer advice and expertise on environmental efforts by festivals, artists or companies.

For its fifth edition, IFF is also increasing the number of showcases: in addition to daytime agency shows at Dingwalls, Toutpartout, Dutch Export and Pop Farm will present shows at various venues around Camden on the evening of Wednesday 25 September.

For more information about IFF, including details on last-minute delegate passes, visit


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Focus Wales gears up for tenth anniversary

Welsh showcase festival Focus Wales has announced dates and released delegate passes for its upcoming tenth anniversary festival.

Taking place from 7 to 9 May in venues across Wrexham, North Wales, the festival will showcase acts from all over the world, alongside conference sessions, arts events and film screenings.

Focus Wales has released a limited number delegate passes at the super early bird rate of £80. Delegate passes give priority access to all live shows, panels and keynote talks, as well as to mixer events and the festival opening party.

Over 200 delegates attended the festival in 2019, with representatives from Glastonbury Festival, Eurosonic, Cambridge Folk Festival and BBC 6Music, among others.

“Focus Wales is a truly international affair”

Performer applications for Focus Wales 2020 are also now open to artists worldwide. The first 50 acts for 2020 will be selected in September, so artists are encouraged to submit applications early.

Over 240 acts performed at the 240 festival last year, including Neck Deep, Cate Le Bon and Boy Azooga.

“A truly international affair”, each year Focus Wales hosts a selection of dedicated international showcases. 2019 showcases included BreakOut West, Catalan Arts Music, Fira B!, Nova Scotia Music Week and WestSide Music Sweden.

Delegate passes can be purchased here.


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