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ILMC 33: The New Bosses reflect on a year of turmoil

While Futures Forum, ILMC’s conference within a conference for young professionals, took a year off in 2021, its traditional opening session survived ILMC’s move online, welcoming another five emerging execs to take the temperature of the business from an under-30’s perspective.

Chair Marc Saunders (The O2 London) opened by asking about how the panellists had spent the last 12 months, with panellists describing the usual mix of holding dates and moving shows, as well as listening to plenty of podcasts.

“It’s been a year and a half since my last show, and I’m very uncertain about what’s going to happen this summer,” said Sziget’s Virág Csiszár, reflecting on a difficult year. “It’s been a really tough time – we’ve had to let go of a lot of good colleagues and friends.”

Livestreaming has filled the gap to a certain extent, said Metropolis Music’s Alexandra Ampofo, winner of the 2021 Tomorrow’s New Boss award, although it will never replace the real thing. “Livestreaming is here to stay,” she said, pointing out how the format can enable people, such as those with disabilities, who wouldn’t normally attend a ‘real’ gig to see a show. “It’s really great from an accessibility point of view,” she continued. “It’s a real progressive move for our whole scene, given that there are people who can’t go to [physical] gigs.”

“When we return, I think it will be a mix of shows and concert streaming,” agreed Csiszár.

Bilge Morden from CAA added: “The ones that work are the ones like Dua Lipa’s [Studio 2054] with a very strong concept, that aren’t just a livestreamed concert.”

“2022 is going to be amazing. It’s packed with shows”

With talk turning to panellists’ routes into the industry and their obligations to the next generation, Morden said it’s essential that even internships and entry-level jobs are well paid, to ensure a diversity of voices. “Even when I was doing a paid internship, I was still putting on shows in Liverpool” to make ends meet, he said.

The legacy of Black Out Tuesday and the Black Lives Matter movement makes the conversation about diversity particularly important, said Kedist Bezabih from FKP Scorpio in Norway.

“It’s not just race – it’s gender, and even disability,” added Ampofo. “When you listen to people you’re able to make the tangible change you need to make. Companies need to put their money where their mouth is.”

Looking ahead to the immediate return of concerts, Bezabih said she believes we’re going to see enhanced cleaning and sanitisation for years to come, adding that “2022 is going to be amazing. It’s packed with shows already. I’m very hopefully for 2022.”

“I’m also really optimistic for the coming years,” added Ampofo, saying she also thinks that greater “sanitisation is here to stay – and it should, to be honest.”

Concluding on a positive note, Morden said: “I’m the most optimistic I’ve been in a long time. Keep the faith.”

 


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The New Bosses 2020: Bilge Morden, CAA

The New Bosses 2020 – the latest edition of IQ’s annual celebration of the brightest young talent in the live business today, as voted for by their peers – was published in IQ 93 this month, revealing the 12 promising promoters, bookers, agents, and A&R and production experts that make up this year’s list.

To get to know this year’s cream of the crop a little better, IQ conducted interviews with each one of 2020’s New Bosses, discovering their greatest inspirations and pinpointing the reasons for their success. Catch up on the previous New Bosses interview with Virág Csiszár, international booking manager at Sziget Cultural Management (Hu) here.

The next New Boss in the spotlight is Bilge Morden (26). Istanbul-born Morden started promoting shows while studying at Liverpool Institute for the Performing Arts (LIPA), putting on sold-out events with artists including Bastille and James Bay. In his third year at LIPA, he interned at promoter Communion Presents, where he starting working with various booking agencies.

“That’s when I knew I wanted to be an agent,” he explains. “I always saw CAA as the pinnacle, and when they introduced a two-month internship programme that summer, I jumped at the chance to get my foot in the door. Emma Banks gave me a shot, and three years later I became an agent.”

 


What are you working on right now?
For the most part, I have now moved my shows from 2020 to 2021 and it’s been nice focusing on some new tours which are being announced over the next few weeks. I am also spending increasingly more of my time having conversations to create opportunities in areas other than traditional touring such as podcasts, live streaming, brand partnerships. This stuff has become more important than ever.

What are some of the highlights of your career to date?
There’s been a few stand-out shows that I’ve been involved in: Lennon Stella’s two sold-out O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empires; Sam Fender’s three sold-out Omeara shows before winning the BRITs Critics Choice Award; and Maren Morris at the Royal Albert Hall. Helping grow our podcast business at CAA has also been a highlight.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt working in live music?
To always follow up, be candid, and go with my gut on new talent.

“For an industry built on personal relationships and human interaction – the new normal is certainly unusual”

Did you always want to be an agent?
I wanted to be a lawyer from the age of 10 because I was obsessed with the TV show The OC and I thought Sandy Cohen was the greatest man alive. However, when I was 16 I put on a gig with some local school bands and in that moment, my lifelong dream of being Sandy Cohen was over. I rejected the law schools I’d applied to for university and I went to LIPA where I really got into promoting shows. The more I dealt with agents, the more I realised I wanted to be one of them.

What impact has Covid-19 had on your job?
There’s been no touring in the past six months so there is a clear financial impact across every part of the food chain which presents all sorts of challenges for agents and the wider industry.

From a social aspect, we have been working from home during this time and I miss walking up to someone’s desk and having conversations in person, or overhearing people on the phone and gaining information in all sorts of ways that does not rely on video conferencing. I can’t wait to never use Zoom again!

I’ve also not gone this long without attending a gig since I was a kid and I’ve realised how much of my professional and social life revolves around live entertainment. For an industry built on personal relationships and human interaction – the new normal is certainly unusual.

Despite the very real challenges our industry faces, I think I’ve become a better agent at this time. I’ve got more perspective than ever, and I am more astute and creative in the way I approach problems. It’s opened my eyes to other ways I can service clients as well as shine a light on the new clients I’ve taken on over the past few months.

Do you have a mentor in the industry?
I’m lucky to have a few, and I could name any senior music agent at CAA, but I’ll highlight two. Nigel Hassler has given me several breaks throughout my early career and has definitely made me a better agent. He might be the most selfless and certainly one of the nicest agents in the business. Paul Franklin has given me countless pearls of wisdom over many tube rides and meals out, which has focussed my thinking. I’m very grateful.

“I’ve got more perspective than ever, and I am more astute and creative in the way I approach problems”

What does the live music industry do well, and what do you think we can do better?
Two things that live music does very well, historically, is fostering culture on a global scale, and raising money for causes and charities that it gets behind.

Clearly, one thing the industry needs to improve on is inclusion. It just makes sense that people from a variety of backgrounds, races and genders etc have not only an equal opportunity to work in the industry but also a proportional seat at the table. The people representing the talent should actually be representative of the talent.

What advice would you give to someone who’s new to the business?
Stretch the boundary of your job title, make friends fast, and don’t be sucked into gossiping about others.

What are the biggest challenges you’re facing currently?
There’s a whole host of new challenges to deal with this year. Uncertainty is the biggest one. It’s a strange time to be an agent. Agents like to have control over situations and be able to plan and have all the answers… Of course, we are trying to move tours to periods in the year we think they’ll have the best chance of going ahead, but we just don’t know with certainty when gigs will come back without social distancing. There are some tours which are on their third or fourth routing. There are also the associated challenges with moving tours further back in the calendar year.

Lots of artists, especially those on their way up, have lost momentum because they are unable to tour and do promo like they used to. I think everyone is trying to find interesting ways to start building momentum again.

It’s an uncomfortable time for our industry, but when shows come back, I think we’ll see a period of growth that we haven’t seen before.

Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?
Living in a nice house in Chiswick where my kids go to private school and playing golf on Fridays. That’s what you’re supposed to do when you’re successful in the music industry, right?

 


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The New Bosses: Virág Csiszár, Sziget Cultural Management

The New Bosses 2020 – the latest edition of IQ’s annual celebration of the brightest young talent in the live business today, as voted for by their peers – was published in IQ 93 this month, revealing the 12 promising promoters, bookers, agents, and A&R and production experts that make up this year’s list.

To get to know this year’s cream of the crop a little better, IQ conducted interviews with each one of 2020’s New Bosses, discovering their greatest inspirations and pinpointing the reasons for their success. Catch up on the previous New Bosses interview with Madie Cavilla, a senior account manager at Paradigm Talent in the UK here.

The next New Boss in the spotlight is Virág Csiszár (30), international booking manager at Sziget Cultural Management (SCM) in Hungary. Having finished her university studies, Csiszár joined SCM, which organises Hungary’s leading music festivals such as Sziget, VOLT, Balaton Sound, Strand Festival and many other events. She is involved in more than 150 shows every year, primarily through the festivals and headline gigs at Akvárium Klub in Budapest. In 2019, she received the highest state award for young talent in tourism from the Hungarian government.

 


What are you working on right now?
Booking the artists for the 2021 editions of our festivals

What are some of the highlights of your career to date?
I will always be proud that I worked on the first Hungarian festival appearances of Foo Fighters and Depeche Mode, and the first-ever Hungarian shows of Linkin Park, Lana Del Rey, Ed Sheeran, Dua Lipa and Shawn Mendes. Bringing artists to our country and introducing them to the Hungarian audience is an important mission for me.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt working in live music?
Accepting the fact that we can’t prepare for unforeseen incidents – neither in the booking process nor at the festival site. No matter how prepared we are, there will be things we can’t control and we have to find solutions that hurt the least.

“Bringing artists to our country and introducing them to the Hungarian audience is an important mission for me”

Did you always want to work in festivals?
I grew up in a family of artists. I remember when I was about five years old, my parents took me to see the stadium shows of Michael Jackson and Rolling Stones in Budapest. I’m lucky to be able to work in an industry that I’ve loved from a very young age.

What’s it like working in the Hungarian market?
Although we are a small market, Sziget is one of the biggest and most famous festivals in Europe with thousands of visitors coming from all around the world. I was born and raised in Budapest, showing my beautiful capital to so many great people through the festival is an incredible experience.

What impact has Covid-19 has on your job?
We needed to cancel all our events in 2020 which is something that never happened before in the history of our festivals. It was extremely sad to let go of all the shows we’ve been working on tirelessly for months but at the same time, we started to work on our line ups for the summer of 2021, hoping that we are going to be over the virus situation by then.

“No matter how prepared we are, there will be things we can’t control and we have to find solutions”

Do you have a mentor in the industry?
A few years ago, I lost an amazing mentor, colleague and friend, Dan Panaitescu, who was the international booking manager of our company. I never felt ready to take over such an important and responsible role, but I feel privileged having the support of all these amazing people around me every day.

What advice would you give to someone who’s new to the business?
Let yourself enough rest to be able to stay creative and curious about new things.

What are the biggest challenges you face as a festival booker?
Coping with constantly growing artist fees; finding a solution for a billing on our poster that all our headliners are happy with; and, on the human side, finding the right balance between private life and work.

Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?
I’m a “live in the moment” type of person, so I can’t even plan that far ahead.

 


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The New Bosses 2020: Madie Cavilla, Paradigm Talent

The New Bosses 2020 – the latest edition of IQ’s annual celebration of the brightest young talent in the live business today, as voted for by their peers – was published in IQ 93 this month, revealing the 12 promising promoters, bookers, agents, and A&R and production experts that make up this year’s list.

To get to know this year’s cream of the crop a little better, IQ conducted interviews with each one of 2020’s New Bosses, discovering their greatest inspirations and pinpointing the reasons for their success. Catch up on the previous New Bosses interview with Jolien Augustyns, a junior promoter at Live Nation Belgium here.

The next New Boss in the spotlight is Madie Cavilla (28), a senior account manager at Paradigm Talent in the UK. Following work experience at Marshall Arts Talent during her penultimate year at school, Cavilla hastily finished her final year and returned to take on a full-time job, before joining The Agency Group. She then took a break to go backpacking, and on her return to London, Dave Hallybone at Paradigm offered her a six-month contract, which quickly turned into a permanent role.

 


What are you working on right now?
Summer 2020 has predominantly consisted of working with promoters/festivals on the funds for rescheduled and cancelled shows. Throughout, it has been imperative to keep funds in the eco-system and shows in the diary. While this is still an ongoing task, I am also working across some streaming projects and enjoying learning something completely new.

What are some of the highlights of your career to date?
I was given a gold disc after a Macklemore & Ryan Lewis tour a few years back (not something I would ever have expected). Being part of the background operations, recognition comes in different ways. Seeing the London show gave me chills and I felt so emotional knowing all of the hard work the team had put in to get them from their first ever show to that moment.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt working in live music?
What you put in you definitely get back out. Those rewarding “pinch me” moments are really worth it.

Did you always want to work in the agency business?
Not at all! I wanted to be a solicitor as a young teenager, however, after a stint of work experience which involved going to court and listening to a very sensitive case I realised it was not for me. The following year I did work experience at Marshall Arts Talent and everything went from there.

“We’re great at having conversations about equality, but the actions aren’t always consistent with what we’re saying”

What impact has Covid-19 had on your job?
As strange as this may seem, I’ve enjoyed some of the difficult moments over the past few months. It’s made me realise I’m a lot more resilient than I thought and that I’m capable of any task thrown at me.

Do you have a mentor in the industry?
Gillian Park, MGR Touring, is a true angel. She has taught me so much and is never too busy to help when I’m stuck. She’s also taught me how to laugh through the madness: if we weren’t laughing we’d have most definitely been crying!

What does the live music industry do well, and what can we do better?
Equality. We’re great at having conversations about it, but the actions aren’t always consistent with what we’re saying. There’s no singular answer — from the festival bills down to staffing — but by creating an inclusive culture across the board we’ll eventually achieve and consistently improve.

“Be available to learn whatever you’re given the opportunity to, you never know where that will take you”

What advice would you give to someone who’s new to the business?
Be available to learn whatever you’re given the opportunity to, you never know where that will take you and the people you’ll meet along the way.

What are the biggest challenges you’re facing currently?
I’ve been working from home since mid-March, a home that didn’t have a specified office space and other than the odd day here and there (pre-Covid) hadn’t been used as a workspace. I’ve got into the rhythm of working from home and I really quite enjoy it now – saving 15+ hours a week on travel has improved my quality of life 10-fold.

However, staying engaged and motivated every single day has been a challenge, equally as challenging though is learning when to switch off my laptop/stop picking up my work phone and remembering that it’ll all still be there tomorrow! I think it’ll be challenging the other way too. When we go back to the office that’ll be a real adjustment again.

Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?
Prior to 2020, I felt somewhat certain about the future. That changed this year. I’ve had the opportunity to learn elements of the business that wouldn’t typically land on my desk, so I’m interested to see where that will take me. Ultimately, I know I’ll be happy, successful and have accomplished more than I ever thought possible when I walked into my first job in this industry more than a decade ago.

 


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The New Bosses 2020: Jolien Augustyns

The New Bosses 2020 – the latest edition of IQ’s annual celebration of the brightest young talent in the live business today, as voted for by their peers – was published in IQ 93 this month, revealing the 12 promising promoters, bookers, agents, and A&R and production experts that make up this year’s list.

To get to know this year’s cream of the crop a little better, IQ conducted interviews with each one of 2020’s New Bosses, discovering their greatest inspirations and pinpointing the reasons for their success. Catch up on the previous New Bosses interview with Bertie Gibbon, A&R at ATC Live in the UK here.

A graduate of Karel de Grote University College in Antwerp, Augustyns specialises in promoting indoor shows at Live Nation Belgium. After beginning her music biz career interning at Sony Music Belgium, Augustyns “lost her heart” to the live music industry while working as a festival assistant for Rock Werchter in 2014.

After graduating the same year, she had to make a choice: chase her “teenage dream” of being an A&R manager at a record label, or “take a leap of faith and stumble into the live music industry.” As you’ve probably already guessed, she “did the latter, and haven’t once regretted it,” she explains.

 


What are you working on right now?
We’re already working on shows in 2021 and 2022, but unfortunately rescheduling and cancelling shows due to Covid-19 still takes up quite some time. Meanwhile, we’re also thinking about initiatives to get the industry back up and running during these unprecedented times.

What are some of the highlights of your career to date?
Even though I’m part of the indoor show department, I try to help out at our festivals during the summer each year as well. My absolute highlight is this year’s Rock Werchter Zomerbar (Summer Bar). Summer 2020 was essentially cancelled due to Covid-19, still, our festival team was able to put a month-long mini-festival at Werchter comprising 36 concerts with local acts, two comedy nights and even a live TV show. It was all for charity and we had a total of 15,000 visitors at the festival.

Even though I wasn’t part of the preparations, I was able to join the team during that crazy month. In a way, it was the best team building activity I’ve ever experienced, forming real connections with people I’ve known for years. It’s the highlight of the summer, of 2020 and probably my whole career to date.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt working in live music?
There are many lessons to be learned in this industry. Personally, I believe treating your industry contacts with respect is one of the main lessons to learn. Respect and kindness will get you a long way. It’s okay to stand your ground, to not be a pushover or a people-pleaser all the time, as long as you remain respectful about it and can provide good arguments.

“The Rock Werchter Zomerbar was the highlight of the summer, of 2020 and probably my whole career to date”

Did you always want to be a promoter?
Not at all to be honest. As a teen, I had set my mind on becoming an A&R manager at a record label. I landed an internship at Sony Music Belgium during my last year of college, and whilst I absolutely loved it there, I lost my heart to the live music industry instead whilst being a festival assistant at Rock Werchter that same year. A little while after graduating, I got the chance to work at both companies and had to make the difficult choice between chasing my teenage dreams or taking a leap of faith into the live music industry. I did the latter and haven’t once regretted it. I worked my way through the company and now I’m a junior promoter.

What’s it like working in the Belgian market?
We have such an interesting market, with a clear difference between the French-speaking part and the Flemish-speaking part of the country. I mainly operate in Flanders – we have some great venues and I’d like to think we’re quite the early adapters with some genres. It’s such a small country, and yet we’re able to put on massive shows. Also, what a luxury to be able to travel through the whole country in a matter of hours. No need to take flights or to have different offices at key locations. Everything’s within reach. The sky is the limit, basically.

What impact has Covid-19 has on your job?
Where to even start? I could give a ton of draining stories, but we’re all suffering in one way or another. We’ve had brainstorms about how we can organise events during this pandemic. We’ve been negotiating with the insurance companies. We’ve had some very difficult conversations. The list of new experiences is endless. Whilst a lot of it has been bad, stressful and demotivating, I’ve also learned a lot during these past few months. We have proven to be extremely resilient. I’ve been lucky so far, I’m still working and learning, but I know this hasn’t been the case for everyone and my heart goes out to anyone who lost their job, dream or career. I feel for them and I may sound naive, but I hope we can all rise from the dust together.

“Belgium is such a small country, and yet we’re able to put on massive shows. Everything’s within reach. The sky is the limit”

Do you have a mentor in the industry?
There is one person I’d like to mention in particular: Tom Van der Elst, festival manager at our festivals, and my mentor while I was interning there. He gave me a chance at a time when I hadn’t achieved anything yet, and introduced me to the team I now call my work family.

What does the live music industry do well, and what can we do better?
Obviously, this industry can put on some damn good shows but I think at some point the financial part evolved too quickly. Fees are getting higher and higher, which makes sense when the economy is thriving but I’d like to see more understanding of the financial state of certain local markets.

Not every market is financially strong. Not every market is suitable for high ticket prices. Not every genre works well at a certain venue. You can’t compare country A to country B and expect the same ticket prices, amount of tickets sold and fees. Let’s work on that and reboot the system whilst we’re at it. Make it more about passion and music, instead of the money and numbers. Also, power to the women (no explanation needed)!

What advice would you give to someone who’s new to the business?
Stay true to yourself. Don’t let anyone change who you are. Take a chance when an opportunity presents itself and always treat one another with respect and kindness. Also, whenever you feel like you’re drowning in this crazy industry, know that you’re not alone. I’ve been made fun of by people in this industry who didn’t take me seriously due to my gender and/or age. A lot of us have gone through this before and the only thing you can do is always be the best version of yourself and remain calm, friendly and helpful.

“I’d like to see more understanding of the financial state of certain local markets. Not every market is financially strong”

What are the biggest challenges you’re facing currently?
Growing as a promoter definitely is a big challenge for me right now. While wanting to go full steam ahead at the start of the year, the industry has obviously drastically changed these past few months. In no way could I have guessed I would be spending most my time cancelling and rescheduling shows, instead of starting to work on my own shows. Luckily, we’re already working on 2021 and 2022, and even though it’s going a lot slower than I hoped, I’m confident that whatever’s happening now will help me become a better promoter in the end.

Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?
Exactly where I’m at now minus the ‘junior’ part. Promoting acts from club level to arena level, sharing the artist’s journey along the way. Developing my instinct and knowledge of the industry. Learning more about the production side of it as well, maybe even experience the touring life once. I’ve got some amazing role models in the office to look up to and I hope to get to their level one day.


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The New Bosses 2020: Bertie Gibbon, ATC Live

The New Bosses 2020 – the latest edition of IQ’s annual celebration of the brightest young talent in the live business today, as voted for by their peers – was published in IQ 93 this month, revealing the 12 promising promoters, bookers, agents, and A&R and production experts that make up this year’s list.

To get to know this year’s cream of the crop a little better, IQ conducted interviews with each one of 2020’s New Bosses, discovering their greatest inspirations and pinpointing the reasons for their success. Catch up on the previous New Bosses interview with Metropolis Music promoter Alexandra Ampofo here.

The next New Boss in the spotlight is Bertie Gibbon (29), who works in A&R at ATC Live in the UK. Manchester-born Gibbon got his start in the music business promoting shows at the University of Sheffield, where he first came into contact with agents and managers. After graduation, he moved to London, where he interned at a management company and label before joining ATC Live in 2013 as a scout and general assistant.

The same year, he founded a management company with Rough Trade’s Paul Jones, Gross Management, which became part of Rough Trade Management in 2018. Today, he continues to work in management while bringing artists to agents at ATC Live and managers at ATC Management. He is also developing a start-up label in Camden, London, called Ra-Ra Rok.

 


What are you working on right now?
We’ve been keeping our weekly A&R meetings going at ATC Live whilst the office has been out of action, so I’ve been listening to and sharing a lot of music with the agents and have had a bit more time to think about developing artists. Alex (Bruford) and I have been having some branding conversations too, having worked on the company website and branded materials up to this point.

Things have also kicked back into gear quite recently with my clients at Rough Trade management: Shame, who have just released their first new music for a couple of years and have a big year (Covid permitting!) lined up for 2021; Black Midi who are in the studio working on their next project; Sorry who are also in the studio following the release of their debut album on Domino back in March, and a new band from Manchester called The Goa Express who’ve just rounded off their debut single campaign with playlist support on 6 music.

What are some of the highlights of your career to date?
Generally being able to influence the musical direction at ATC Live and seeing the company grow from strength to strength has been super rewarding. On the management side, working on Shame’s debut album campaign was a big success for me and getting them out playing the shows they did. They really broke through the live side of their business and it was amazing to see that come together so well and see how many tickets they’ve been able to sell globally. Black Midi’s Mercury Prize nomination was nice to see, too!

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt working in live music?
That there is such a thing as playing too many shows! From my experience working with young bands there’s always a desire to do as much as possible and it can be difficult to say no to things when you’re on a hot streak but it’s super important that artists and band members have time to recuperate too (even if they don’t think so ahead of time!).

“There is such a thing as playing too many shows…it’s important that artists and band members have time to recuperate too”

What impact has Covid-19 had on your job?
There have been a few bits some colleagues and clients alike have experienced related to mental health which have presented some new challenges. Not being able to develop ideas in the office or dressing room on the road together has been tough at times, keeping people motivated and feeling part of the team has been something we’ve had to keep on top of week to week.

Do you have a mentor in the industry?
Alex Bruford at ATC Live, who hired me about eight years ago, has taught me almost everything I know about the live business (I originally applied to be his assistant – glad I didn’t end up doing it!).

Also Paul Jones from Rough Trade, who I’ve been working on the management side for about the same amount of time, and Dan Market at Sony, who gave me a leg-up into the industry in general and has consistently shared his unbound wisdom on A&R for over a decade now.

What does the live music industry do well, and what do you think we can do better?
Providing a wealth of opportunities for emerging acts – special mention to promoters in Europe who pay good fees and are willing take chances! I think there is more that could be done in the sector to promote diversity on both sides of the business. Obviously, events this year have leant to have some difficult but positive conversations about the way things have been in the past and what we can do in the future but it’s our responsibility to make sure they’re acted on and not forgotten.

“The current situation is really shining a light on how crucial live is to artists and businesses alike on all fronts”

It’s been great to see the support grow for women in the business in the past few years. I know ATC Live and other agencies have just committed to the Keychange gender equality pledge and I’m also lucky to work alongside some great ladies who have been particularly active in pushing that agenda forward but we can’t stop there. More needs to be done to promote black and minority ethnic artists and workers at the grassroots level if we’re going to get close to their representation being proportional in music and culture in general.

What advice would you give to someone who’s new to the business?
Remember you’re not dealing with products, you’re dealing with people! I know this sounds obvious but there are sectors of the music business that still don’t recognise this as they should and there are no doubt casualties as a result.

What are the biggest challenges you’re facing currently?
Figuring out how to compensate for the lost revenue from live in 2020 and now likely 2021, as well as how to develop and break a new act without the opportunity to play shows. The current situation is really shining a light on how crucial live is to artists and businesses alike on all fronts, while it’s nice to be pushed to be creative in coming up with potential solutions to these problems it’s by no means easy. Email me if you have the answer!

Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?
Hopefully working in a greener, more ethically driven music business with my current roster and still part of the team at ATC Live.

 


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The New Bosses 2020: Alexandra Ampofo, Metropolis Music

The New Bosses 2020 – the latest edition of IQ’s annual celebration of the brightest young talent in the live business today, as voted for by their peers – was published in IQ 93 this month, revealing the 12 promising promoters, bookers, agents, and A&R and production experts that make up this year’s list.

To get to know this year’s cream of the crop a little better, IQ conducted interviews with each one of 2020’s New Bosses, discovering their greatest inspirations and pinpointing the reasons for their success. Catch up on the previous New Bosses interview with Primavera Sound booker Camila Salinas here.

The next New Boss in the spotlight is Alexandra Ampofo (26), a Coventry University business management and leadership graduate, who in addition to promoting shows heads up Metropolis Music’s diversity employee resource group, and started Embrace Nation at Live Nation UK – a cultural and learning hub that strives towards racial equality in and out of the workplace for all Live Nation employees.

She also works across The End Festival, Black Music Coalition, The F List and Unicef Music Group. Ampofo started her career in 2013, founding events company Acoustic Live, which focuses on stripped-back, acoustic live shows. Her second not-for-profit organisation, Women Connect, is a collective creating safer, inclusive spaces and equal opportunities for women and non-binary and gender-variant people in the creative industries.

 


What are you working on right now?
I have recently launched my website where all my services within live music will be collated. I have lots of information on there that I’m really proud of, so for now, I’m going to continue building on my portfolio. 

What are some of the highlights of your career to date?
Being blessed enough to be part of the team who put together the SiR tour at Shepherd’s Bush Empire in February. I’m such a big fan of his, so that was definitely a bucket list moment for me. Another highlight is starting my company Acoustic Live – founded when I was 19 and now an award-winning events company dedicated to keeping stripped back music alive. I’m able to facilitate free services for artists of all calibres and all I’ve ever wanted is to help break the glass ceiling. Acoustic Live provides artists with tangible opportunities, and that’s priceless.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt working in live music?
If you want loyalty, get a dog.

Did you always want to be a concert promoter?
Yes and no – I knew I always wanted to be involved in curating events and music, but I didn’t know there was an official job title for this type of career. I feel so blessed to be living my dream.

What impact has Covid-19 has on your job?
The live music industry has taken a real hit due to the pandemic but it’s not all been bad. It’s actually brought me closer to a lot of the people I work with, now that we’re having to take extra care. There’s a sense of togetherness that I really enjoy.

“The industry is slowly changing and there are so many women and people of colour spearheading that change”

Do you have a mentor in the industry?
I do – he’s fantastic and has taught me some lessons about valuing myself, tackling my imposter syndrome and living in my truth. I’ve always been someone who is quite sure of themselves but simultaneously shrinks their achievements to make interaction more comfortable. I’m growing away from that and I like the person I am becoming.

What does the live music industry do well, and what can we do better?
There’s nothing like a live show. The atmosphere, the music, the vibrations, frequency and the people. The live music industry creates a unique musical experience so well. There’s some shows I’ve attended which were genuinely life changing just because they were executed so intrinsically.

Diversity within the industry needs to be cranked up a few notches – it’s still nowhere near the desired goal. I would like to see increased inclusivity for black, Asian, mixed-heritage and minority ethnic groups, the LGBTQI+ community, wheelchair users and/or varied physical disability, learning disabilities, people with visual impairments, users of British sign language and people with hearing impairments.

What advice would you give to someone who’s new to the business?
Humility is key but don’t shy away from asking for what you deserve. I’d also say we are in the business of people, so get to know them.

What are the biggest challenges you face as a promoter
Ageism, race and gender. Sometimes people can be reluctant to work with younger promoters because they associate age with inexperience which I find isn’t always the case. Gender and race have played similar roles in my personal journey; the disparity that follows marginalisation is a huge one but I am pretty hopeful.

The industry is slowly changing and there are so many women and people of colour spearheading that change.

Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?
I see myself still working in live music and loving every second of it. This is where I am happy. 

 


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The New Bosses 2020: Camila Salinas, Primavera Sound

The New Bosses 2020 – the latest edition of IQ’s annual celebration of the brightest young talent in the live business today, as voted for by their peers – was published in IQ 93 this month revealing the twelve promising promoters, bookers, agents, A&R and production experts that make up this year’s list.

To get to know this year’s cream of the crop a little better, IQ conducted interviews with each one of 2020’s New Bosses, to discover their greatest inspirations and pinpoint the reasons for their success. Catch up on the previous New Bosses interview with Kedist Bezabih, a promoter at FKP Scorpio in Norway, here.

Our next New Boss is Camila Salinas (26), a booker for Primavera Sound in Spain. Born in Bogotá, Colombia, Salinas moved with her family to Madrid aged five, leaving Spain 15 years later to seek her fortune in London.

“I started flyer-ing, doing doors, repping shows for different companies,” she explains, “which led me to do a few internships. However, it never really led to a job with a decent salary, so when I couldn’t handle the economic instability I moved back home.”

Back in Spain, Salinas started doing production work for a management and booking company. Then, one day, the call came from Primavera Sound: they wanted her to join their booking team.

 


What are you working on right now?
We’re working on rescheduling the headline shows we had confirmed for the autumn and winter, and finding creative ways to be able to do shows until the venues can open like normal.

What are some of the highlights of your career to date?
It might sound pretty basic but working with bands that I love with all my heart is the biggest reward of them all, and seeing with your own eyes that a bunch of people are having the greatest time because that band is playing in front of them and you helped to make that happen is the best. Big Thief playing my favourite venue in Madrid, the city I grew up in, would definitely have to be a highlight.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt working in live music?
Patience. It didn’t come naturally to me but over the years I learnt the great art of patience in every aspect of my life.

Did you always want to work in the festival business?
Not really, because when I started to feel like music was something that I wanted to dedicate my life to, I wasn’t aware of that entire universe… [but] once I [had] spent my first summer going to festivals, obviously that changed.

“We used Primavera’s amazing space to put on around 60 shows with national bands this summer”

When I started to develop a bigger interest in music, when I was around 14, and I started to pay attention to all the soundtracks from the shows I was obsessed with – Grey’s Anatomy, One Tree Hill and The OC – I definitely decided that I wanted to work with all these bands that made me so happy, and help them to go to places. And, if it was possible, to go to those places with them!

What impact has Covid-19 had on your job?
A big ugly one. Our job is to put a lot of people in the same place at the same time to enjoy and see someone on stage, so it’s been difficult, but at the same time we’ve had to think other ways to keep doing our job. We used the amazing space we have for the festival to put on around 60 shows with national bands this summer and all the security measures to be able to do it.

It’s been a really nice oasis in the middle of this drought and it kept us active – not just the bookers or us as promoters, but all the people that are behind a show, the bands, production team, logistics team, sound technicians, tour managers, the people behind the bars…

Do you have a mentor in the industry?
I have more than one, but a person that I’ll always look up to is Clemence Godard, who runs Bird on The Wire along with Tim Palmer, a promotion company based in London. When I arrived in London I started an apprenticeship there and it was my first proper step into the industry.

I truly admire her because in London she’s one of the few women who runs a promotion company. The heads of the promotions companies (or any company really) tend to be men and the other plus for me is that she’s not from the UK, which might seem a silly detail but as an immigrant with a clear accent I tell you, it’s really not.

“I truly admire Clemence Godard because in London she’s one of the few women who runs a promotion company”

I also have learnt so much with my colleagues at Primavera – Ivone, Arnau and Abel on our booking team. It was my first time working for at the core of a festival with this dimension and since the minute one, they have been the best colleagues to do it with.

What can the live music industry do better?
It needs more diversity in every aspect. More open doors for women, for people of colour, for the LGTBQ+ community, for people who are not wealthy enough to do hundreds of internships for free in order to get a real job. That is something that really needs to change.

What advice would you give to someone who’s new to the business?
To persist, to ask questions, and to be a sponge everywhere you go.

What are the biggest challenges you face as a festival booker?
To be original and fast, and to deal with the egos.

Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?
It changes every day since the pandemic started. These circumstances make you change your perspective depending on what might happen with our industry. So right now I’m not able to think far ahead, the only thing I can think of is that in 2021 the whole festival season can go ahead normally. If that happens, everything could be possible again.

 


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The New Bosses 2020: Kedist Bezabih, FKP Scorpio Norway

The New Bosses 2020 – the latest edition of IQ’s annual celebration of the brightest young talent in the live business today, as voted for by their peers – was published in IQ 93 this month revealing the twelve promising promoters, bookers, agents, A&R and production experts that make up this year’s list.

To get to know this year’s cream of the crop a little better, IQ conducted interviews with each one of 2020’s New Bosses, to discover their greatest inspirations and pinpoint the reasons for their success. Catch up on the previous New Bosses interview with Filippo Palermo, co-founder of Untitled Group in Australia, here.

Our fifth New Boss is Kedist Bezabih (28), a promoter at FKP Scorpio in Norway. Born in Oslo, Bezabih studied cultural project management at University of Innlandet from 2014 to 2017. In her first year at university, she was introduced to Torgeir Gullaksen, the founder of Goldstar, and began an internship at the company while also working at Red Bull Sound Select and Oslo venue Parkteatret.

After finishing her degree, she started working as a promoter at Goldstar, which became FKP Scorpio Norway in late 2017. Her roster includes Juice WRLD, Conan Gray, Aitch, Lennon Stella, Jay Rock, Yxng Bane, Omar Apollo, Jay1, Not3s and ZE.

 


What are you working on right now?
Still moving a few shows from 2020 and looking at new dates for 2021/22. I haven’t been that busy the last few months, but this time has opened up room to be more creative, look at new possibilities and develop solutions for the years to come.

What are some of the highlights of your career to date?
Growing up, we didn’t have places where we could experience the music we loved and listened to. To be able to book UK/US hip-hop acts, and seeing kids from where I grew up having the time of their lives in the mosh pits has really been one of the most rewarding things about my job. Also promoting the only headline show with Juice WRLD in Norway. I was a huge fan, so I appreciate that I was lucky enough to have met him.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt working in live music?
Trust your intuition. It’s usually right.

“It can be challenging to get up-and-coming acts to come and play in Norway when they have little time to tour Europe”

Did you always want to be a concert promoter?
I always wanted to work with something music-related but had no idea what or how to go about it. I sent a few emails to different companies within the industry right after high school, to no avail. After I started university things kind of fell into place, thankfully!

What’s it like working in the Norwegian market?
It’s a small and competitive market, but I enjoy that. It can be challenging to get up-and-coming acts to come and play when they have little time to tour Europe but that just means we have to create avenues that make us more attractive.

What impact has Covid-19 has on your job?
We’ve pretty much been shut down since mid-March, but we’re slowly starting up again. It’s been a weird time, good in some ways, bad in other ways. Ultimately, I do believe the industry and our company will be back stronger than ever.

Do you have a mentor in the industry?
I’ve had many mentors throughout my career that have been generous enough to share their time and experiences with me. They have given me the room to grow, the support and responsibility to really get going in this industry, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.

“As a new promoter I would say; be persistent, but also patient. It’s a hard thing to balance”

What does the live music industry do well, and what can we do better?
We’re really good at doing it for art. At the end of the day, the passion for music is what drives most of us, and that is extremely important. We have a way to go in terms of diversity. I think that the last few months have been a real eye-opener in terms of the issues certain groups face, where we as an industry have fallen short, and that we have a lot more work to do. I’m feeling hopeful that we’ll see many changes in the coming years – it’s about time.

What advice would you give to someone who’s new to the business?
As a new promoter I would say; be persistent, but also patient. It’s a hard thing to balance.

What are the biggest challenges you face as a promoter?
Right now, the looming threat is definitely the global issues we don’t have control over, like climate change and the pandemic. Beyond that, I would say the ever-evolving number of platforms where people discover and listen to music is challenging to keep up with. Your info needs to be up to date, and corroborated from multiple sources.

Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?
Time will tell. As long as I enjoy what I’m doing and I’m excited about it, I’m good.

 


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The New Bosses 2020: Filippo Palermo, Untitled Group

The New Bosses 2020 – the latest edition of IQ’s annual celebration of the brightest young talent in the live business today, as voted for by their peers – was published in IQ 93 this month revealing the twelve promising promoters, bookers, agents, A&R and production experts that make up this year’s list.

To get to know this year’s cream of the crop a little better, IQ conducted interviews with each one of 2020’s New Bosses, to discover their greatest inspirations and pinpoint the reasons for their success. Catch up on the previous New Bosses interview with Joe Skarzynski, a production co-ordinator in the US, here.

Filippo Palermo (27) is co-founder of Untitled Group, one of Australia’s largest independent music and events companies. After cutting his teeth on the Melbourne nightclub scene, aged 18, Palermo co-founded Untitled Group, which has grown to encompass a portfolio that includes music festivals and artist management, along with a booking agency, record label, international touring division and a music-tech investment arm. Since its first music festival in 2014, the group’s festival roster has grown to over ten touring and camping properties and bespoke metropolitan events, selling more than 250,000 tickets annually.

 


What are you working on right now?
We’re working on a number of new projects within the music, artist management, recordings and music tech industries, as well as using this “breathing space” while we don’t have a music festival on every second weekend, to brainstorm new event experiences for Beyond The Valley and Pitch Music & Arts in particular.

I’m currently in the process of hunting down, negotiating terms and actioning compliance and feasibility studies on new, exciting locations which have yet to be seen by the Australian music industry, in preparation for our return.

I’ve enjoyed discovering new breakthrough talent and brainstorming all Australian lineups with my UG team for when mass gatherings return but before travel sanctions update to allow for international touring again. I’ve also been assisting in the career growth of artists on my personal talent management arm such as Big Words, Cassettes For Kids and Bertie.

What are some of the highlights of your career to date?
Five years ago, when we were new to the industry, we flew to London, LA and New York in an effort to introduce ourselves to every major music talent agency in the globe. We found after a couple of meetings that a pattern had emerged; we would arrive nice and early with a company deck on hand and a big list of headliners we wanted to tour only to discover we were actually meeting the agent’s assistant to discuss emerging talent and the deck was a pointless accessory no one wanted to read.

In hindsight, it was a necessary reality check to help us reprioritise fostering emerging talent at the time, and it’s been a highlight walking into the same buildings in recent years to discuss the once-considered “unrealistic” headliners as real opportunities for us to work with in Australia.

“I’ve learned it’s important to find your own niche and bring something unique to the public”

Other highlights include receiving the bureaucratic green light on introducing our bespoke stage structure known as the Dance Tent to Beyond The Valley in 2018. It’s 80 metres long, 50 metres wide, covered in Mecano fabric rich in a colour gradient I chose myself, features 120 LED par ceiling lights and is paired with a 50 metre wide LED wall which intimately hosts some of the world’s most talented DJs and producers every New Years Eve.

Receiving government approval to activate a colossal, heritage listed, 70-year-old Wool Store warehouse to host artists such as Solomun and Jamie Jones since 2017 was also a special moment, especially considering at one point all signs were pointing towards cancelling the first event due to permitting issues. Highlights in more recent years include selling out Beyond The Valley 2019 in a record time of five minutes, marking it one of Australia’s most in-demand music festivals, as well as launching and selling out the inaugural Wildlands Festival in Brisbane which shared BTV’s 2019 headliners Rüfüs Du Sol and Tyler, The Creator.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt working in live music?
Whether you work in recordings, festivals, touring or artist representation, I’ve learned it’s important to find your own niche and bring something unique to the public. It’s also equally as important to acknowledge that innovation always means some level of risk, but if you educate yourself on every facet of your industry and work hard on mastering your craft, you can not only limit your exposure to this risk but also pull off something that will be genuinely enjoyed and appreciated by people.

Did you always want to be a promoter?
No, as a child I was a passionate guitarist and drummer playing in some pretty questionable cover bands. When I hit my teenage years, Mum shared with me her One Love and Ministry Of Sound compilations, introducing me to electronic music which was really influential.

“Our stunning Aussie outback, unique architecture, pristine wineries and CBD parks  make fantastic festival locations”

At the time, I had my now business partner and best mate Michael make me a fake ID using nail polish remover, a toothpick and a printer (don’t try this at home kids) so I could DJ at nightclubs around Melbourne underage. I always wanted to be the star up on stage until I started promoting clubs at 18, discovering my true passion was in project managing and curating an event experience holistically from behind the scenes.

What’s it like working in the Aus market?
It can be challenging. We’re very far away from the rest of the world, so when it comes to touring, we’re traditionally an afterthought for a lot of artists. However, our stunning Aussie outback, unique architecture, pristine wineries, CBD parks and state of the art live music venues provide us with some fantastic festival location opportunities that I, personally, haven’t discovered abroad.

What impact has Covid-19 has on your job?
It’s had a massive impact. Simply put, mass gatherings is the core of our business, and this has come to a complete halt. It has however allowed us to refocus some of our time and energy towards growing our artist roster, the music tech arm of our company, our record label, and expanding on new ideas for our major festival properties for 2021 onwards.

Do you have a mentor in the industry?
There are many industry professionals I’ve admired and learned from over the years, but I don’t have one particular “mentor” who has been there with me along the journey. I would say I idolise the work of Ed Banger records owner and Daft Punk manager Pedro Winter most.

“Th industry needs to improve diversity in programming and subsidising costs associated with accessibility infrastructure”

What does the live music industry do well, and what can we do better?
Live music enriches the lives of its fans globally. As a massive live music fan myself, I would say I live a more fulfilling and happier lifestyle as a result of its existence. The live music industry needs to improve on its diversity in programming and subsidising costs associated with accessibility infrastructure.

At Beyond The Valley we’ve pledged for a 50/50 gender balance on our lineup from 2022 onwards and we’re proud co-owners of Australia’s first all-inclusive festival, Ability Fest. However, I know that there’s a lot more we, and the rest of the industry could be doing.

What advice would you give to someone who’s new to the business?
It really does take persistence to make it in the music industry, for most people it’s years of hard work. Stick at it and don’t give up when the going gets tough!

What are the biggest challenges you’re facing currently?
Trying to get creative with a temporary live music solution to Covid times. It’s very difficult to make a socially distanced gig commercially viable, to the point where I feel it’s worth waiting until mass gatherings can return safely.

Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?
I hope to see my team and I still proudly waving the Untitled Group flag, as Australia’s most influential live music promoters.

 


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