x

The latest industry news to your inbox.


I'd like to hear about marketing opportunities

    

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

LGBTIQ+ List 2024: Gwen Iffland, Wizard Live

The LGBTIQ+ List 2024 – IQ Magazine’s fourth annual celebration of queer professionals who make an immense impact in the international live music business – has been revealed.

The ever-popular list is the centrepiece of IQ’s fourth Pride edition, sponsored by Ticketmaster, which is now available to read online and in print for subscribers.

To get to know this year’s queer pioneers a little better, we interviewed each of them on the development of the industry, the challenges that are keeping them up at night and more.

Throughout the next month, IQ will publish a new interview each day. Catch up on yesterday’s interview with Emma Davis (she/her), general manager/agent at One Fiinix Live.

The series continues with Gwen Iffland (she/her), senior marketing & PR manager at Wizard Live, recently rebranded from Wizard Promotions Konzertagentur.


Gwen Iffland has been in the marketing world for more than 10 years and has always wanted to gain a foothold in the live entertainment industry. From stints at dpa Deutsche Presse Agentur to a live communication agency to developing a local beer brand that champions the rights of marginalized groups with a permanent special edition, she has found her place at Wizard in 2022. Gwen lives in the heart of Frankfurt, loves the diversity of the city and has been committed to visibility and awareness-raising work for the queer community for several years via a leading role at Frankfurt Pride and local FLINTA* [Female, Lesbian, Intersex, Trans and Agender] collectives.

Tell us about the professional feat you’re most PROUD of in 2024 so far
Wizard is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, which we took as an opportunity to look closely at the company’s corporate identity. Among other things, this resulted in a new corporate design and I was able to accompany this process as the leading project manager. I am also looking forward to being able to train young people in media and marketing professions from this year onwards, as we want to expand our department.

Your colleagues say you bring the “LGBTIQ+ vibes to the office and after work events” – what does that look like?
The fact that I’m very active, open-minded and don’t mince my words means that my team feels comfortable asking me all kinds of questions. Education is very important to me. Apart from that, my team always gives me the opportunity to develop concepts to make queer artists more visible and to put the topic on the agenda both internally and externally, be it over a beer or through a presentation.

“The upcoming generation is as critical as they are bright and have a lot of drive to push things forward”

How do you get involved in Frankfurt’s queer community?
During the past years, I’ve had the chance to play a key role in shaping Pride in Frankfurt, conceptually, graphically and communicatively. As press spokesperson, I was the contact person for the city, media and the queers and was able to make the LGBTQIA+ community more heard. With around 250,000 visitors a year, Frankfurt Pride is one of the largest community events in Germany. Furthermore, I’m participating at clubcherry, a newly founded collective in and around Frankfurt that campaigns for the presence of flinta* people within the (electronic) music scene. Clubcherry also has a mission to question the male-dominated industry, to connect fellow campaigners and to strengthen FLINTA* within and outside the scene. I’m pleased that I now have a good standing in the city and am asked for advice on queer issues, to be able to drive development forward in this way.

What’s your most pressing challenge in the industry at the moment?
I am noticing that we are questioning ourselves more and more in the industry – strategically and even morally. The fact that I am very socially committed means that it is important to me that I can identify with my profession – after all, my job is an immense part of my life. In times of cancel culture and the like, it’s difficult to find artists who have a clean slate. And I’m not saying that I think cancel culture is bad, quite the opposite: it’s important to create awareness, to address things and to question your actions accordingly.

“Fortunately, a lot is happening right now to put the industry on the right track”

How do you see the live music business developing in the next few years?
I am looking forward to the young professionals to come. The upcoming generation is as critical as they are bright and have a lot of drive to push things forward. The old hands may struggle with this but in the end, it will be what makes the industry thrive. I’m really excited to see where we’ll be in a few years’ time.

Name one thing the industry could do to be a more equitable place.
Fortunately, a lot is happening right now to put the industry on the right track. My personal concern is to bring the term awareness and related concepts more to the fore at events that are not explicitly aimed at queer people.

Is there a queer act you’re itching to see this year?
I’ve already been to Fletcher’s show in Frankfurt this year – probably the most viral lesbian act at the moment. Seeing all the “baby gays” having the fun of their life, celebrating and singing together was totally heart-warming. I’m far away from all the gossip around Cari Fletcher, her show just gave me the best time. Stunning! But I’m still waiting for Cher to return to Europe so I can cross my top goal off my bucket list and live happily ever after, though I’m beginning to fear that won’t happen.

 


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

LGBTIQ+ List 2024: Emma Davis, One Fiinix

The LGBTIQ+ List 2024 – IQ Magazine’s fourth annual celebration of queer professionals who make an immense impact in the international live music business – has been revealed.

The ever-popular list is the centrepiece of IQ’s fourth Pride edition, sponsored by Ticketmaster, which is now available to read online and in print for subscribers.

To get to know this year’s queer pioneers a little better, we interviewed each of them on the development of the industry, the challenges that are keeping them up at night and more.

Throughout the next month, IQ will publish a new interview each day. Catch up on yesterday’s interview with Dustin Turner (he/him), music marketing executive at CAA.

The series continues with Emma Davis (she/her), general manager/agent at One Fiinix Live.


Tell us about the professional feat you’re most proud of in 2024 so far.
The first one was when I went to Bangkok for Ed Sheeran’s shows out there. To be on the other side of the world and see shows I’ve played a part in making happen play out was just such a huge privilege and something I’ll never forget. My second one was seeing RØRY play to a sold-out Electric Ballroom in February, surrounded by the whole team at One Fiinix Live. She’s an incredible artist with a truly inspirational story and deserves all the success she is getting. To be surrounded by such a supportive team of people from the agency that I have been a part in putting together too just made that feel so special.

What’s your most pressing challenge in the agency business at the moment?
Avails!

The vast majority of your extensive roster identifies as queer, was this intentional on your part?
I don’t know if I’ve done it intentionally, but I connect more with music and artists that are relevant to my personal interests. I’m a big believer that you get back what you put out into the world, so I guess the more I’ve embraced my authentic self the more queer my roster has got, and I’m totally here for it.

“I’d love to see more women and queer people in leadership roles, I think this industry would be a much kinder, more considerate and equal one if that were the case”

As a queer agent, are you able to better serve your queer artists?
I definitely think it makes me more empathetic – I know what it is like to turn up at a venue and be the only non-straight white male in a room, how intimidating and even unsafe that can feel. I make effort to make sure the best provisions are in place for my artists. I really think about who the right promoter is – will they understand the artist, their needs and their audience? Even things like making sure to discuss appropriate show reps so the first person artists meet on a show day is going to appreciate their needs and ensure they have the best possible experience.

Last year I had two of my US artists over and we met in person for the first time, they both said “You’re just like me!”, and it really hit home for me how important representation can be for artists. 

Name one thing the industry could do to be a more equitable place.
I’d love to see more women and queer people in leadership roles, I think this industry would be a much kinder, more considerate and equal one if that were the case. When I first started working as an assistant at one of the major booking agencies, someone said to me: “Don’t be too good at your job, or they will never promote you”. One of the most frustrating things I see in this industry is really talented women getting stuck in support roles because they still aren’t considered in the same way as their mostly mediocre male counterparts. Some of the best agents, promoters, and managers in the business are women who spent YEARS in support roles and have had to work ten times harder and shout WAY louder than they should to be heard.

“I’m a big believer that you get back what you put out into the world; the more I’ve embraced my authentic self the more queer my roster has got”

Name one queer act you’re itching to see live this year.
The Japanese House. This is cheating, but I also can’t wait to see Chappell Roan, and we are very excited to bring Alice Longyu Gao back over here – Jess Kinn and I represent her, and genuinely think she is one of the most exciting artists out there right now.

Shout out your biggest ally in the live music industry.
Jess Kinn. She (as well as Jon Ollier) is my number-one cheerleader, always has my back and gives the best pep talks you’ll ever get. She always stands up for what she thinks is right and I find her so inspiring in so many ways. Jess, along with her sister Martha, and the work they do for the LGBTQIA+ community goes above and beyond allyship.

Shout out any LGBTIQ+ cause(s) you support.
Mermaids. It’s a charity that supports transgender and non-binary young people and their families. Also would love to mention West London Queer Project too.

 


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

LGBTIQ+ List 2024: Dustin Turner, CAA

The LGBTIQ+ List 2024 – IQ Magazine’s fourth annual celebration of queer professionals who make an immense impact in the international live music business – has been revealed.

The ever-popular list is the centrepiece of IQ’s fourth Pride edition, sponsored by Ticketmaster, which is now available to read online and in print for subscribers.

To get to know this year’s queer pioneers a little better, we interviewed each of them on the development of the industry, the challenges that are keeping them up at night and more.

Throughout the next month, IQ will publish a new interview each day. Catch up on yesterday’s interview with Chris May, (he/him), general manager at BC Place Stadium.

The series continues with Dustin Turner (he/him), music marketing executive at CAA.


Music marketing agent Dustin Turner represents many of the world’s leading musicians and has been a leader in the LGBTQ+ philanthropic community. With a roster of nearly 50 clients, Turner supports the careers of Becky G, Betty Who, Bianca Del Rio, Dan + Shay, Jelly Roll, Kelsea Ballerini, Little Big Town, Maren Morris, Nickelback, Paulina Rubio, RuPaul’s Drag Race, Tim McGraw, and Zac Brown Band, among many others. Turner also serves as the agency’s point person for all bookings related to annual Pride events across the country. In addition to his work on the live side of the music business, Turner also volunteers with the CAA Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the agency. 

Tell us about the professional feat you’re most PROUD of in 2024 so far.
Maren Morris did a series of intimate shows for her fan club in late 2023 at iconic clubs like The Troubadour in LA which all sold out in minutes. Maren partnered with GLAAD [a non-profit LGBTQ advocacy organisation] so a portion of all tickets sold went back to them each night. To be at those shows and see Maren connect with her biggest fans each night was magical. We recently put her RSVP Redux tour on sale, still playing legendary venues throughout the rest of the year. Getting to work with so many clients and launch tours with Dan + Shay, Little Big Town, Sugarland, Jelly Roll, Rainbow Kitten Surprise, Tim McGraw, and Gavin DeGraw, among many others this year has been incredible and there is so much more to come!

What’s your most pressing challenge in the industry at the moment?
There is a lot of content out there and every week multiple huge tours are announced and going on sale. All are competing for the same dollars from fans, and you have to find a way to make your clients stand out and help them cut through the clutter. We’re constantly having to think about what makes the tour we are working on different from the others and why should a fan buy a ticket to our artist’s show over all others.  

“Luckily, we have been able to support [drag artist] clients and allow them to bring their talents and performances to cities across the US”

What does your involvement in the LGBTQ+ philanthropic community look like?
In addition to his work on the live side of the music business, I also volunteer with the CAA Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the agency. I helped plan CAA’s sixth annual Evening for Equality, which raised funds for The Oasis Center’s “Just Us” program to provide free counseling services to LGBTQ+ youth in Tennessee. I’m also a former board member of the Nashville LGBT Chamber of Commerce.

You work with many drag artists from the US. Have state bans on drag affected your work at all?
Obviously, this is an issue that continues and for now, we have had to make some of our shows 18+ instead of all ages. Luckily we have been able to support these clients and allow them to bring their talents and performances to cities across the US.

“We have made huge strides but I think it is important for our allies to allow LGBTQ+ people to live their authentic lives, when people do, we are all better”

You are CAA’s point person for bookings related to Pride events. Tell us about some of your favourite bookings for 2024.
I am really excited to have Sophie Ellis Bextor coming over to the US, not only to perform at OUTLOUD Festival in LA but also to do a headline tour. To see her success in the US after her song was featured in Saltburn is so deserved. Also, at OUTLOUD Festival we have Kesha and Adam Lambert performing on the Friday night, which will be awesome. We have Jojo Siwa doing multiple markets with the release of her new music, The Scarlet Opera playing in Phoenix, Icona Pop playing in Nashville, and Todrick Hall in San Diego. There are a lot of exciting bookings in 2024 for pride festivals across the country.

Name one thing the industry could do to be a more equitable place.
I feel like we have made huge strides but I think it is important for our allies to allow LGBTQ+ people to live their authentic lives, when people do, we are all better. 

Shout out to your biggest ally in the live music industry.
So many people have supported me on my professional journey, from my husband and family who deal with the crazy schedule and me having to miss personal things, to mentors and those I admire that I can pick up the phone and call anytime for support or to bounce ideas off of. To name specific people would be unfair to so many but I am very lucky to have such a strong support system around me.

 


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

Boomtown creates ‘blacklist’ over hateful comments

The UK’s Boomtown Festival says it will “blacklist” people from attending the festival after a post it made online to celebrate Pride Month was met with “hateful comments”.

Boomtown marked the start of Pride Month on 1 June with a social media post, paying tribute to “some of the incredible queer talent” that had graced the Hampshire event’s main stage over the past couple of years.

“We’re forever in awe of the LGBTQIA+ crew, artists, performers and citizens that bring the colour and make our city vibrant,” it said.

However, it has since disabled comments on the post, saying it attracted “negativity” that “goes against everything we stand for”.

“Recently, we encountered hateful comments on a post we shared celebrating the LGBTQIA+ community at the heart of Boomtown,” says a statement by the festival. “We are deeply proud of our beautiful LGBTQIA+ crews, artists, performers and citizens and we will wholeheartedly continue to celebrate the diverse communities that make our city come to life.

“We want to make it very clear that anyone with this type of view is not welcome at Boomtown”

“The kind of negativity we saw… goes against everything we stand for at Boomtown. We sincerely apologise to those who were targeted and to anyone and everyone who was affected. We were angered and saddened by the hateful comments. There’s no place for that here.

“We have a zero tolerance on any type of hate speech and our team swiftly removed the offensive comments and blocked the accounts. Unfortunately, further comments required us to disable comments entirely to protect everyone.”

Warning it would seek to ban those responsible, it added: “We’ve also created a blacklist to prevent these individuals from spreading hate on our platforms. Where possible, we’ll be taking steps to prevent them from attending the festival now or in the future. We want to make it very clear that anyone with this type of view is not welcome at Boomtown.”

Featuring 12 main stages and more than 50 hidden venues, Boomtown’s 2024 edition is titled: “Revolution of Imagination” and will be held at the Matterley Estate in South Downs National Park, near Winchester, from 7-11 August. Tickets cost £310 (€367).

First held in 2009, the festival has previously hosted acts such as Gorillaz, Lauryn Hill, M.I.A., The Streets, Wu-Tang Clan, The Specials, Cypress Hill, Limp Bizkit, Chase & Status and Madness. Live Nation, Gaiety and SJM Concerts took stakes in the event in 2022.

 


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.

LGBTIQ+ List 2024: Chris May, BC Place Stadium

The LGBTIQ+ List 2024 – IQ Magazine’s fourth annual celebration of queer professionals who make an immense impact in the international live music business – has been revealed.

The ever-popular list is the centrepiece of IQ’s fourth Pride edition, sponsored by Ticketmaster, which is now available to read online and in print for subscribers.

To get to know this year’s queer pioneers a little better, we interviewed each of them on the development of the industry, the challenges that are keeping them up at night and more.

Throughout the next month, IQ will publish a new interview each day. Catch up on yesterday’s interview with Caterina Conti (she/her), an operations manager at 432 Presents in Glasgow, Scotland.

The series continues with Chris May (he/him), general manager at BC Place Stadium.


Chris May, general manager at BC Place Stadium in Vancouver, has more than 15 years of dynamic leadership experience in global event management. With a diverse portfolio ranging from live concerts, musicals, and TV telethons to overseeing international touring logistics, May has overseen the successful execution of events on six continents, welcoming millions of guests. 

Since joining BC Place, May has been instrumental in driving its growth and diversification. Notable highlights include securing the stadium as a host venue for FIFA World Cup ’26, setting new records for the most concert nights in a year at BC Place and the most attended concert ever with Ed Sheeran’s Mathematics Tour in September 2023, and most recently, the launch of Coast City Country Festival in collaboration with Live Nation.

Tell us about the professional feat you’re most PROUD of in 2024 so far.
This April we launched our first-ever country music festival, Coast City Country, right in the heart of downtown Vancouver. Hosting 50,000 attendees daily with an indoor-outdoor experience (not to mention, during the festival off-season), was a huge achievement and no small feat. Extraordinary collaboration between our stadium team and Live Nation is what made it possible.

“My job is to create space and amplify the voices of those who don’t have the level of privilege I do”

Your colleagues in the international live music industry have praised you for being a “fantastic ally” for LGBTIQ+ people. What does that allyship look like?
For me, being an ally to the LGBTIQ+ community is about recognising my privilege within this community as a cis-gendered white individual. It’s about leveraging that privilege to carve out space and extend support to those within our community who face systemic challenges. My job is to create space and amplify the voices of those who don’t have the level of privilege I do. My role is not to determine the path of our community, it’s to ensure that people who have had a more challenging journey than me are leading the way and I’m supporting them in the best way I can, and they want. 

What’s your most pressing challenge in the industry at the moment?
Our foremost challenge is in advocating for ourselves. Secondly, reshaping perceptions of our stadium. And importantly, finding a way to do these things through a lens of diversity, equity, and inclusion, while embracing the principles of Truth and Reconciliation as a venue located on the traditional Coast Salish territory of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. Truth and Reconciliation involves confronting historical injustices and fostering healing and understanding among communities. In our context, it means acknowledging and addressing past wrongs and working towards a more equitable and inclusive future. 

“We all need to work together to develop what’s next and continue fostering a vibrant industry and ecosystem… This collaboration not only nurtures fresh talent but also opens doors for diverse experiences and perspectives to flourish”

How do you see the live music business developing in the next few years?
As the stadium business booms, it’s important that we aren’t losing focus. I aspire to be part of an industry where the big dogs are champions for emerging talents and venues. We all need to work together to develop what’s next and continue fostering a vibrant industry and ecosystem. Imagine a scenario where established venues, promoters, and investors actively engage with emerging talents, smaller venues, and grassroots initiatives. This collaboration not only nurtures fresh talent but also opens doors for diverse experiences and perspectives to flourish. It’s about creating beneficial partnerships where each player contributes to the growth and evolution of the industry. Without a focus on development, there won’t be a foundationally secure industry in the future.

Name one thing the industry could do to be a more equitable place.
In North America, the industry has serious work to do in making sure folks with accessible needs get fair treatment from start to finish when attending a show. It starts with ticket buying – right now in North America, accessible tickets are generally available for any guest to purchase – we need to ensure accessible tickets are reserved exclusively for those who need them. The next step is enhancing the overall stadium experience to cater to diverse needs. In September 2023, we hosted Coldplay for two nights on their Music of the Spheres World Tour, and their accessible seating options, focus on sustainability, and commitment to diversity and accessibility set an inspiring example for all of us.

“The Vancouver Pride Parade and Festival is my favourite queer space and event, and it holds a special place in my heart — it makes me proud to call Vancouver home”

Is there a queer act you’re itching to see live this year?
I can’t wait to catch another Orville Peck show. It’s been a couple of years since I last saw him perform, and he has a strong Vancouver connection (in addition to being all-around fabulous). 

Do you have a favourite queer space/venue in British Colombia or Canada?
The Vancouver Pride Parade and Festival is my favourite queer space and event, and it holds a special place in my heart. Being one of the largest celebrations in the country, the whole city comes alive in early August. It makes me proud to call Vancouver home.

How do you celebrate pride?
Professionally, we celebrate by participating in the parade, and through our Pride Pit Stop patio party, which we run alongside the Pride Festival at the finish line for the parade (located right at our stadium). Personally, my husband and I, along with our 7-year-old son, host an annual pride brunch. From 7am to noon on parade day we host 50+ people, complete with a mimosa bar and Caesar bar (the Canadian Bloody Mary, for those who are wondering).

 


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

LGBTIQ+ List 2024: Buğra Davaslıgil, Charmenko

The LGBTIQ+ List 2024 – IQ Magazine’s fourth annual celebration of queer professionals who make an immense impact in the international live music business – has been revealed.

The ever-popular list is the centrepiece of IQ’s fourth Pride edition, sponsored by Ticketmaster, which is now available to read online and in print for subscribers.

To get to know this year’s queer pioneers a little better, we interviewed each of them on the development of the industry, the challenges that are keeping them up at night and more.

Throughout the next month, IQ will publish a new interview each day. Catch up on yesterday’s interview with Ary Maudit (they/them), a multi-instrumentalist and sound engineer at Strongroom Studio/Saffron Records in the UK.

The series continues with Buğra Davaslıgil (he/they), a senior booker and talent buyer at Charmenko in Türkiye.


Born and bred in İstanbul, Buğra has lived in Türkiye’s largest city all his life except for a two-year period spent in London as an au pair. Though they spent two years as an architect after earning a Bachelor’s degree from İstanbul Technical University, Buğra returned from London determined to pave their way in the music industry. He was inspired after various freelance opportunities and a stint at Kod Müzik, and has now worked at Charmenko since 2006.

Tell us about the professional feat you’re most PROUD of in 2024 so far.
Having booked The Smile to perform in the Baltic States, Poland, Czechia, former Yugoslavia, Romania and Bulgaria.

Tell us about the challenges of living in a country ruled by an anti-LGBTIQ+ government.
Although homosexuality has never been illegal in Türkiye — it has not been illegal since 1858 so even during the Ottoman Empire period – the predecessor of the modern-day Republic of Türkiye — and gender reassignment surgery has been legal since 1988 and we do have lots of queer NGOs, university clubs and activists, an anti-LGBTIQ+, the government wants it all to be kept under the rug and doesn’t want you to take it as an identity and be seen out and loud. It doesn’t do anything to give you the legal rights to be protected from any kind of discrimination, abuse or harassment; therefore it is a struggle in all forms (social, economic and sometimes even life-threatening), and only way is the local as well as the global solidarity and do not let those lose your hope for an equal and brighter future.

“I am optimistic that [new leadership] might bring a wind of change, and we could have more support and freedom from the cities in cultural life”

Pride events and marches have long been banned, how do you tend to celebrate Pride month?
We do celebrate Pride month with queer parties, picnics, gatherings, panels and film screenings, and even do our own guerrilla Pride Parade. The parade is declared by the Istanbul Pride March Organising Committee to be on a specific street, but it actually takes place on another street so that the cops cannot interfere as they aren’t aware of the location change.

What are the current challenges in Türkiye’s live music business?
The economic crisis in Türkiye: very high inflation and Turkish Lira’s weakness against foreign currencies.

How do you see the country’s business developing in the next few years?
Since we have just had the local elections at the end of March and the opposition party CHP (The Republican People’s Party; social democrats) have won a majority of the cities and become the leading party in Türkiye, I am optimistic that it might bring a wind of change and we could have more support and freedom from the cities in cultural life.

“We still have a lot to go to support, especially non-binary and trans rights”

Name one thing the industry could do to be a more equitable place.
I would say please stop the ‘orientalism’ and try to be more inclusive in gender, sexual orientation, and ethnicity. And please do mean it, and not just tick the box.

Do you have a favourite queer space?
I have a favourite party called ‘Dudakların Cengi’ where all local drag performers take the stage in İstanbul.

Shout out any LGBTIQ+ cause(s) you support.
I believe we still have a lot to go to support, especially non-binary and trans rights.

 


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

LGBTIQ+ List 2024: Ary Maudit, Strongroom

The LGBTIQ+ List 2024 – IQ Magazine’s fourth annual celebration of queer professionals who make an immense impact in the international live music business – has been revealed.

The ever-popular list is the centrepiece of IQ’s fourth Pride edition, sponsored by Ticketmaster, which is now available to read online and in print for subscribers.

To get to know this year’s queer pioneers a little better, we interviewed each of them on the development of the industry, the challenges that are keeping them up at night and more.

Throughout the next month, IQ will publish a new interview each day, starting with Ary Maudit (they/them), a multi-instrumentalist and sound engineer at Strongroom Studio/Saffron Records in the UK.


Ary Maudit is a non-binary multi-instrumentalist and sound engineer who crafted their ears both in live and studio environments. Their mission is to empower trans, non-binary, women and gender-diverse artists inspired by the motivation of making the music industry a more inclusive place.

Starting in venues, and warehouses across east and south London – including the O2 Kentish Town Forum, E1 and Printworks – Ary landed at Strongroom Studio in 2021, accumulating credits on records from Sault, Yungblud, Tom Chaplin, Declan McKenna, Erland Cooper and more. At the same time, they toured as a FOH for Picture Parlour, Art School Girlfriend, and PECQ. When not in the studio, Ary is a sound mentor for Saffron and an active motorcycle rider, supporting Sapphic Ryders LMCC.

Tell us about the professional feat you’re most proud of in 2024 so far.
The year has just started and I feel like my best feat is yet to come. I definitely enjoyed kicking off the year on the road with Picture Parlour across UK and Europe. Great fun, I love them and I know they will go far. I am so grateful I get to be involved in the process.

What’s your most pressing challenge in the industry at the moment?
The music industry has many pressing challenges right now, mostly linked to the lack of funds and the overflowing of privilege. It is hard to identify the most pressing one as it might vary from profession to profession. Definitely, artists would benefit from less pressure in content creation and more value in their music, and music industry partitioners in more visibility and better pay.

“I found so many people who empowered me towards my career but struggled with affirming my professionality beyond my identity”

What would you like people to know about your experience as a trans person in the sound community (both live and recorded)?
That there are good people out there and good spaces. My personal experience so far has been a mixture of ups and downs. I found so many people who empowered me towards my career but also struggled with affirming my professionality beyond my identity. Especially touring, which involves very short turnaround times, rarely offers the opportunity of having ‘the conversation’ and it ends up being a parade of misgendering. To all the people approaching the industry at this very moment, I’d like to say to never stop speaking up for themselves and believing in their skills, even if sometimes they are not the person that everyone is expecting to be in charge behind the desk.

Why do you offer mentorship and reduced-priced/free sessions to LGBTQI+, BIPOC and minority people?
To make education more accessible to an unprivileged demographic, and re-qualify tech and educational spaces. I believe ‘what you can see, you can be’. At the beginning of my career, I struggled to find a mentor from my same background/gender identity/sexuality. Having someone like you who can not only teach technical concepts but help you navigate the industry understanding the nuances related to your identity, makes a big difference. So I’m not just interested in fostering diversity in sound, I would also like to offer others what I lacked.

“Often companies are more interested in ticking the inclusivity box rather than actively listening and making structural changes”

How do you see the live music business developing in the next few years?
On a general level, I feel it’s a tough time due to Brexit and the overall recession the UK is going through. Touring is getting harder and harder due to prices and artists are forced to make cuts in every corner to only break even most of the time. I can definitely see a total reshaping of old ways of doing things to give space to a more free and independent, DIY market. Hopefully, that will mean more opportunities to see queer artists at the top, which consequently will mean more inclusive crews.

Name one thing the industry could do to be a more equitable place.
Take effective action. Many people are advocating for change and inclusion in different areas of the music industry, from live to studio. Although, often companies are more interested in ticking the inclusivity box rather than actively listening and making structural changes. The industry, all together, should actively work to make structural changes – from hiring processes to inclusion policies. It is a painful one as it requires dismantling old dynamics that have been in place for decades. Re-educating people who have been working in the industry for many years alongside pushing minorities to the higher grounds would ease this process. It is becoming more common nowadays to see women/non binary/trans and gender-diverse industry professionals at entry-level positions but there is some work to do in the higher grounds.

“I rarely go out nowadays as I am very busy with work, but Unfold is the only party I haven’t given up yet”

Shout out to your biggest ally in the live music industry.
Jake Murray, director of Strongroom Studios. He did and does to this day whatever is in his power to make inclusivity and equality part of his ethos. It is vital to have people like him in the industry who give equal opportunities to all.

What’s your favourite queer space?
Fold, without a shadow of a doubt. For those who don’t know, it is a community-driven nightclub and art space in Canning Town, London. It’s predominantly attended by queer people and they bring the best current electronic music/techno DJs and performers. They run an event called Unfold every first and third Sunday of every month which is uber trans/queer. I rarely go out nowadays as I am very busy with work, but Unfold is the only party I haven’t given up yet.

 


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.

Primavera Sound gains LGBTQ+ stamp of approval

Primavera Sound has gained an internationally recognised stamp of approval demonstrating its commitment to LGBTQ people.

The Queer Destinations committed distinction, which is present in 12 countries, helps businesses create safe and more inclusive touristic spaces for the community.

The main requirement of the commendation is that 100% of staff and collaborators complete a digital educational programme called Hospitality Meets Diversity.

“Primavera Sound has been a pioneer in defending its values ​​such as sustainability, gender parity or diversity with programmes such as Nobody is Normal,” Queer Destinations said of the achievement.

Launched in 2019, Nobody is Normal is Primavera’s action plan against sexual aggression, harassment, transphobia, homophobia and other forms of discrimination.

As part of the action plan, stands are set up at the Barcelona-based festival where festivalgoers can report any cases of gender-based violence and discrimination, and itinerant staff are trained to deal with any incident.

The launch of Nobody is Normal coincided with Primavera becoming the first major festival to achieve a gender-balanced lineup in 2019.

“Primavera Sound has been a pioneer in defending its values ​​such as sustainability, gender parity or diversity”

Ever since, the festival’s organisers have been outspoken in challenging “pale, male and stale” lineups, calling on other major events to match their gender parity.

Alfonso Lanza, director of Primavera Sound, said the Queer Destinations recognition “values ​​the commitment that the festival has had for years with its audience, in this case and especially with the LGTBI community. It is an honour to be recognised since the festival itself is not an event aimed exclusively at the community and therefore, we believe that companies and associations in the sector value us positively has an added merit”.

Queer Destinations carried out its first audit of Primavera Sound at the recent editions in Barcelona and Madrid (which will not return in 2024).

This will help the companies develop an educational program that will include all the possible interactions between attendees and personnel of the festival organisation.

The implementation of the programme will then be carried out globally at Primavera’s sister events in Porto, São Paulo, Bogotá and Asunción at the end of 2023.

The Queer Destinations recognition comes a week after Primavera participated in a new edition of Think Plus, the think tank of the LGTBIQ+ Chamber of Commerce of Catalonia, focused on new LGBTIQ+ tourism models.

 


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.

Slovakian industry unites to condemn LGBTIQ+ hate crime

Slovakia’s live music industry is uniting to condemn two homophobic murders which took place last week, outside of LGBTIQ+ bar Tepláreň in Bratislava.

On 12 October, a far-right radicalised gunman murdered two young men, Matúš Horváth and Juraj Vankulič, in what has been dubbed “a cowardly act of terror”.

The hate crime attracted the attention of the European Parliament, which has called on governments to condemn hate and violence against “persons based on their gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression and sex characteristics in both Slovakia and the EU”.

The country’s biggest music festival Pohoda is spearheading a series of events to express solidarity with the bereaved, and show support for the LGBTIQ+ community.

More than 70 artists will perform across 40 venues across Slovakia between 12 to 20 November as part of the Slovenská Tepláreň event.

The festival will also host the Tepláreň Nahlas discussion series organised by the artist Ilona Németh, the Visual stage of the Pohoda festival, Nová Cvernovka center, the Academy of Fine Arts and Design, and the Matej Bel Institute.

Dozens of artists will perform in clubs across Slovakia between 12 to 20 November as part of the Slovenská Tepláreň event

“We want to express our solidarity with the families and loved ones of Matúš and Juraj, who were murdered in a hate crime in Bratislava’s Tepláreň bar,” reads a statement from Pohoda, which takes place at Trenčín Airport each year.

“We want to express our respect and esteem to those who made Tepláreň a welcoming place where free people can meet. We want to express our support for the LGBTI+ community.

“We want Slovakia to be a country where everyone can feel safe and where minorities are accepted with respect as a natural part of society. We want to see legislation changed to ensure a dignified and full-fledged life for all people in Slovakia, including the LGBTI+ community. We want to walk the path of non-violence, togetherness, and tolerance, and that is why we are organising the Slovenská Tepláreň festival.”

The festival’s partners include Tepláreň, Inakosť, Dúhový PRIDE Bratislava, Dúhový PRIDE Košice, Queer Slovakia, Saplinq and EHMK 2026 Trenčín.

Artists, venues or organisations wanting to take part in the festival are invited to apply before Friday 28 October. For more information, visit the Slovenská Tepláreň website here.

 


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.

Gold at the end of the rainbow

For decades, LGBTIQ+ culture was forced to exist on the fringes of society. Few queer artists were allowed to bring their whole selves to the stage, instead forced to hide in plain sight. This meant there was little to no representation for LGBTIQ+ music fans, and queer-friendly spaces in the mainstream were non-existent.

In Europe, in 2022, queer culture is increasingly celebrated. During this past month alone, Harry Styles headlined two shows at the 90,000-capacity Wembley Stadium; Elton John stole the show at BST Hyde Park; and Years & Years delivered a “jubilantly gay set” on the Other Stage at Glastonbury. LGBTIQ+ acts and allies are taking up space on some of the world’s biggest stages. And this culture is big business at the box office.

“There are a load of artists who have made it and who are inspiring LGBTIQ+ role models – Years & Years, Sam Smith, Christine [& The Queens], Kim Petras, Lil Nas X, for example,” says Live Nation promoter Maddie Arnold, who is also an alumna of IQ Magazine’s LGBTIQ+ List 2021.

“I’m glad these days people are a lot less prejudiced; you have highly influential people like Harry Styles who will wear non-gender-conforming clothes on stage and celebrate the queer community through his lyrics and onstage performances.”

“You have highly influential people like Harry Styles who will wear non-gender-conforming clothes on stage”

Stadium-filling icons aside, the value of the pink pound is perhaps best evidenced by the emergence of specialist companies and festivals in the live music business that serve queer artists and audiences. The last 12 months have seen the launch of agencies such as Queer Music Agency (Denmark) and Gallos Talent (UK), ticketing companies like Red Eye (New York), and festivals including Flesh (UK) – all of which cater exclusively to the community.

But not just anyone can strike gold with the pink pound. While many behemoth brands and companies have cottoned onto the economic value of the pink pound (hello Pinkwashing!), few are able to truly connect with those audiences in the same way as those who have put down roots in the community. In 2022, it has never been more evident that representation pays.

Gaps in the market
More often than not, it’s the executives who are themselves queer who are best equipped to identify trends, spot gaps in the market, and develop new opportunities in the space.

Patrick Janssen, marketing manager at Live Nation GSA, is one such professional. During his previous role at Karsten Jahnke Konzertdirektion (KJK), he marketed the first one-queen drag tour in the German market with Sasha Velour’s Smoke & Mirrors.

“I thought, why is nobody setting up shows for these queens in Germany?”

Velour rose to fame in 2007 after winning the ninth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, the smash-hit reality TV competition searching for America’s next drag superstar. The series has spanned fourteen seasons (plus several spin-off shows) and airs internationally in countries including the UK, Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, and Israel.

Thanks to the series, Velour earned acclaim on a global scale becoming a household name in certain circles, and yet… “When I spoke to friends, they were, like, ‘Oh, she’s going on tour in Europe, but she’s not coming to Germany,’” says Janssen. “And I thought, why is nobody setting up shows for these queens in Germany?”

Coincidentally, KJK was approached to promote Velour in Germany. The company’s CEO sought Janssen’s opinion who was readily equipped to report on Velour’s cultural relevance, fan base, and universal appeal. Fully immersed in the idea, Janssen ended up promoting the shows.

“I think if [the CEO had] had to decide on his own, he would have declined because he doesn’t know the audience or her background and career development – it’s not his thing,” says Janssen.

“It was really emotional to have brought so many people together to watch a drag queen”

Janssen’s alignment with Velour’s audience proved to be indispensable when it came to marketing the tour. “Another person on the tour marketing team might have spoken to gay magazines and run editorials and print ads, but the gay community is more digital than that,” says Janssen, explaining that he mostly relied on Grindr, a dating app that is geared towards gay and bisexual men.

“We had better click-through rates (CTRs) on Grindr than on Facebook and Instagram,” he continues. “On those social media platforms, I targeted different drag queens and the CTRs were good – like 10–14% – but on Grindr, the CTRs were like 20–28%. The product and the placement matched.”

The tour took place in spring and comprised one show at the Musical Dome (cap 2,000) in Cologne, one at the Laeiszhalle in Hamburg (2,025), and two at the Admiralspalast (1,756) in Berlin. Despite Germany being in the throes of Covid-19 restrictions, the shows were a success – both on an economic and a social level.

“Everyone had a good time, and people left the venue with a smile on their faces,” says Janssen. “It was really emotional to have brought so many people together to watch a drag queen.”

“Another person on the tour marketing team might have spoken to gay magazines but the gay community is more digital than that”

“The second tour that was offered was Adore Delano [an American drag queen who rose to fame on RuPaul’s Drag Race and then American Idol] in September. This time around, my CEO didn’t ask me if we should do this, he simply asked which capacity in the general market I would recommend.”

In addition, the success of Velour’s shows attracted an offer from a UK agent for The Trixie & Katya Show, [two drag queens who rose to fame on the seventh season of RuPaul’s Drag Race] who will tour in November.

Assembling the right team
As Janssen’s story illustrates, giving queer executives a seat at the table can have a direct impact on a company’s business and artist’s career. Though, as Live Nation’s Arnold points out, LGBTIQ+ artists don’t necessarily need a queer team around them to have the best chance of success.

“I definitely have my go-to agents when I find an artist that falls into this category who is looking for representation,” says Arnold, who promotes queer artists including Muna, ZAND, July Jones, PYRA, Alma, Lauren Sanderson, GIRLI, and Ashnikko.

“Some of [the agents] are queer themselves, but it’s definitely not a dealbreaker”

“Some of [the agents] are queer themselves, but it’s definitely not a dealbreaker. As long as I know they are inclusive, open-minded, and would be a good fit for the act, there’s definitely a conversation to be had. That being said… it’s always good to see if they already have LGBTIQ+ acts on their rosters.”

AEG Presents’ Chloe Pean, who works with queer acts including Duncan Laurence, Dhruv, and Will Young, and has launched an LGBTQIA+ club night/showcase called Melodaze, adds: “It’s always good to bear in mind that you can pick your team, whether you would like a queer marketing person and a female ticketing manager on the team, and think about all the options available that aren’t always traditional.”

Protecting the talent
Cherry-picking the right team is crucial to the success of any artist – no matter what their sexuality – but there’s an added layer of importance to that strategy when it comes to queer talent.

Even in 2022, LGBTIQ+ artists can face limitations ranging from unequal pay to discrimination to prejudiced language. With these considerations, it’s no surprise that the live music business has seen the launch of specialist companies that are well-versed in navigating such prejudice and protecting their talent.

“The drag events industry has always been a little bit of a Wild West”

Nathan Stone, the former creative director of TEG MJR and the creator of DragWorld, last year launched a new UK-based LGBTIQ+ talent management company, Gallos Talent.

The company is working with acts including drag queens Juno Birch and Joe Black (as seen on RuPaul’s Drag Race UK), and offers its services as a partner to events such as Trans Festival London and Cornwall Pride.

Discussing the reasons for launching Gallos Talent, Stone tells IQ: “The drag events industry has always been a little bit of a Wild West, which is something that has dramatically changed in the years since the huge success of Werq the World [an ongoing tour featuring drag queens from RuPaul’s Drag Race]. Before this, any club could put on events, change artists, cancel events, and withhold customers’ money – it wasn’t seemingly regulated in the same way.

“With artists of all sizes, it was always our priority to find partners who we know treat the artist well, as well as the customers, to stop these trends.”

“Unfortunately, there are far too many minorities who feel oppressed in the music industry”

That sentiment is echoed by Frederik Diness Ove, founder of Queer Music Agency in Denmark, which aims to provide non heterosexual talent with better opportunities to break- through in the music industry.

“Unfortunately, there are far too many minorities who feel oppressed in the music industry,” he tells IQ. “This industry is very much dominated by cis-gendered, white, straight men, and therefore we try to rally so we can hopefully stand stronger.”

While both agencies were launched with a mission to level the playing field for queer artists, both founders claim there’s a gap in the market for their specialist services.

“Whilst drag is a mainstay in the UK, there are still many European markets that are just beginning to get these events travelling through their countries, so that is really exciting to witness and be part of!” says Stone.

“Whilst drag is a mainstay in the UK, there are still many European markets that are just beginning to get these events”

Catering to the fanbase
According to AEG’s Pean, the choice of live space can be crucial in promoting queer artists and making their audiences feel safe and included. “It’s important to know what spaces work for a queer act and audience,” she says.

“There tends to be a more diverse roster of people that work in these spaces as well, which creates the right environment and means that there is expertise and understanding of what the act needs.”

But many who IQ spoke with said more can still be done to make venues more suitable for a community that has historically been marginalised. Gender-neutral toilets at venues are a priority for AEG Presents’ Chloe Pean. “It will take more time in venues that are owned by bigger corporations, but it feels like things are moving in the right direction,” she says.

Live Nation’s Arnold agrees: “The provision of gender-neutral toilet facilities is definitely something that should be thought about when putting on these types of shows; with adapted security protocols ensuring all staff members are fully trained and respectful of the audiences.”

“The provision of gender-neutral toilet facilities is definitely something that should be thought about”

Specialist crowd management agencies, which comprise exclusively of queer people and promise “a community-specific approach to security,” are becoming a common fixture in queer nightlife – particularly at club nights. Arnold also points to the importance of buddy systems, which are set up on online or at the venue and help solo gig-goers make new friends.

“A lot of ticket buyers are always looking for someone to go to the show with, and it’s great that a lot of artists promote buddy systems on their social media platforms so that fans can find other fans to go to the shows with,” she says. “It’s definitely the venue’s responsibility to ensure all fans feel safe and welcomed, whether it be a queer show or not.”

Pean adds: “It is also down to the person running the show on the day, taking care of the artists and making sure they are comfortable in their working environment.

“The promoter rep is also the one to brief the security staff and venue manager who relay [the information] on to the rest of their teams. You tend to see that once that ethos is implemented, it sets the tone for a night before a single ticketholder has walked through the door.”

These elements are crucial – but often overlooked – ways of connecting with queer audiences and capitalising on the kind of loyalty that has boosted queer artists from grassroots venues to world-renowned stages.

“From what I’ve been lucky enough to see, [fan bases of queer artists] are much more diverse, and very loyal,” says AEG Presents’ Chloe Pean.

“There’s no good way of explaining it, but the environment at a LGBTQ+’s person’s show is special and warm. You will have people that come who are fans of the music and then other fans that come for the community element and some for both!”

 


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.