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IFF 2022 launches with new central hub, agency partners

The eighth edition of the International Festival Forum (IFF), ILMC’s invitation-only event for festivals and bookers, is now live.

More than 800 delegates are expected to attend this year’s gathering of the international music festival business, with many of the world’s leading booking agencies signed up as partners.

Wasserman Music, WME, CAA, UTA, ICM Partners/Primary Talent, ATC Live, X-Ray Touring, One Finiix Live and Earth Agency are among the first to back the 2022 edition and many of whom will present showcases featuring the hottest new talent.

Alongside the showcases, IFF 2022 will offer the usual plethora of networking, showcases, panels, and parties – all taking place between 27 and 29 September in London.

In addition, IFF has announced a new central hub, the Holiday Inn in Camden, which will be transformed into IFF Central for three days.

IFF has announced a new central hub, the Holiday Inn in Camden, which will be transformed into IFF Central

IFF Central will be exclusive to delegates and will host all conference sessions, complimentary delegate lunches, a late-night bar that’s open until the early hours, and ample space for private meetings.

The hotel also features 100 rooms for delegates in a range of categories, which can be booked at the same time as registering your pass. Room rates are discounted for IFF delegates but there’s a limited number available. Click here for more details.

Since launching in 2015, IFF has gained a reputation for showcasing the most talented emerging artists at early stages of their careers, including Idles, Slaves, Loyle Carner, Public Service Broadcasting, Lewis Capaldi and Shame.

Last year, IFF enjoyed a successful return to a physical event, with a programme that featured a double keynote interview with Melvin Benn and Folkert Koopmans.

More details of IFF 2022, including the provisional schedule, will be announced in due course. If you have an idea for a panel topic, speaker or presentation, please email Ruud Berends.

A limited number of super discounted earlybird passes are now available for just £345 (saving £150 on the full rate). Each pass includes access to all sessions and showcases, lunches, dinners, and some drinks. Click here to register.


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Top agents call for action on diversity

Top agents called for a more diverse, inclusive and equitable industry during last week’s ESNS (Eurosonic Noorderslag).

Hannah Shogbola (UTA), Natasha Gregory (Mother Artists), Sally Dunstone (Primary Talent International) and Whitney Boateng (WME) came together for the all-female Agents Panel – hailed as “a long-overdue milestone” by moderator Maria May (CAA).

“We are representing the change we want to see,” said May during her opening gambit for the digital session. “I believe the music industry has a duty to continue to strive forward post-pandemic be even more progressive, more inclusive, and representative of the world that we live in.”

However, WME’s Boateng says there’s a “lot more work that needs to be done in the industry”. “It is still predominantly old white male and it has been for years,” she added. “Change has to come from the top-down and it has to be more than black squares.”

UTA’s Shogbola agreed: “If you are looking around your office and it does not reflect the society that you live in and the roster that you look after, then there is something categorically wrong.”

Black squares were posted on social media as part of the music industry’s Blackout Tuesday movement, a protest against racism and police brutality in response to the killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor.

“As a black woman within this industry, it’s frustrating that even 15-20 years into my career, it takes the death of somebody like George Floyd for our industry to finally open its eyes,” said Shogbola.

“The industry has a duty to be even more progressive, more inclusive, and representative of the world that we live in”

Boateng pointed out that it’s not just racial inequalities that the industry needs to fix but also disparities around sexuality and gender, with the panel unanimously agreeing that diversity on line-ups is still “not good enough”.

“It’s so important that when anybody is going to a show, they feel like it’s a safe and inclusive space for them,” said Dunstone.

Elsewhere during the panel, Mother Artists’ Gregory says that flexibility towards employees’ work hours will also be a key feature in a more equitable post-pandemic industry.

“Working 9–5 is not equality because everybody has a different situation, a different experience and different needs,” argued Gregory. “Being an agent is not a 9–5 anyway so just put trust in your team – working hard is a given in this industry.”

Dunstone agreed: “Adaptability and flexibility are massive takeaways from the last two years. Hopefully, we’ll pick and choose the bits of [pandemic life] that worked for us.”

The 36th edition of ESNS took place under the banner ‘Building Back Better, Together’ and focussed on getting the industry back on its feet after two years of the pandemic.

The hybrid conference and festival wrapped on Friday (21 January) and Dago Houben, director of ESNS said that “despite the fact that there is definitely screen fatigue, we were able to perform our platform function for the national and international music industry.


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Beckie Sugden moves to ICM Partners/Primary Talent

Beckie Sugden has joined ICM Partners/Primary Talent International as a concerts agent in the company’s London offices.

Sugden moves to ICM/Primary from X-ray Touring, which she joined in 2014.

Over the last seven years, she has built a roster including Anderson Paak & The Free Nationals, Russ, Noname, Mick Jenkins, T-Pain, Ghostemane, Mac Ayres, Soulection, Joe Kay and more, which will move with her to ICM/Primary.

“Beckie is an agent whose reputation in the industry precedes her,” says Matt Bates, managing director, Primary Talent International and ICM Partners head of International/Europe, who announced the news today. “She has an exciting and diverse roster and we are excited to welcome her into the ICM/Primary family.”

“Beckie is an agent whose reputation in the industry precedes her”

Sugden added: “I am absolutely thrilled to be joining the team at ICM/Primary, bringing my 15 years of experience to an already stellar international team. As we all begin to rebuild from the ashes of the pandemic there feels like no better time to join such a progressive, representative and forward-thinking company.

“I’m extremely proud to represent some of the most exceptional and groundbreaking artists around and I look forward to continuing our work together utilising the incredible breadth of resources ICM has to offer as artists’ careers become more multi-dimensional than ever.”

Prior to X-ray Touring, Sugden spent five years at The Agency Group (UTA), and she worked at WME before that. She began her career in live music from her bedroom as founder of her own agency, Mixedtape.

The recruitment of Sugden follows the appointment of Sally Dunstone earlier this year.

Primary Talent International joined forces with ICM Partners in March of 2020 and Matt Bates was named head of international/Europe of the combined entities in February 2021.


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Sally Dunstone joins Primary Talent International

Sally Dunstone, formerly of X-ray Touring, has joined London-based Primary Talent International as an agent, bringing artists including Grammy-nominated rapper Jack Harlow and Brit Awards Rising Star nominee Rina Sawayama.

Dunstone, one of IQ’s 2020 New Bosses, joined X-ray from Live Nation in 2014. Her roster also includes Kelly Lee Owens, Places and Faces, Maxo Kream and Lancey Foux.

“We are very excited to be welcoming Sally into the Primary Talent International family” says Primary Talent managing director Peter Elliott.

“Sally is an agent I have admired and wanted to work with for a long time”

“Sally is an agent I have admired and wanted to work with for a long time,” adds Matt Bates, director of Primary and head of international for parent company ICM Partners. “She has an exciting contemporary roster of clients and has a huge future ahead of her. We are thrilled to welcome her into the ICM/Primary family.”

Comments Dunstone: “What ICM and Primary have put together over the past year has not gone unnoticed in the concerts world, and I am excited to join the team with my talented roster of artists and keep the momentum going.”


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Steve Backman joins Matt Hanner’s Runway Artists

Independent UK booking agency Runway Artists has hired Steve Backman, formerly of Primary Talent International, as its first agent appointment.

Set up by former ATC Live agent Matt Hanner in the spring of 2020, Runway represents artists including Lanterns on the Lake, the Futureheads, Sleeper, Highasakite, Ned’s Atomic Dustband and Wyldest. It was one of the first of many new agencies to have launched in the UK since the start of the coronavirus crisis, being joined since by Ben Ward’s Route One Booking, Jon Ollier’s One Fiinix Live and Natasha Bent’s Mother Artists, among others.

Backman, who joins following a 19-year stint at Primary Talent, brings a roster that includes Emmy the Great, And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, Steve Lamacq, Gabriella Cilmi, the Bootleg Beatles, the Mission, Art School Girlfriend and Odina.

“It’s great that an agent of Steve’s pedigree had enough belief in what I’d started to want to come on board,” says Hanner. “We have a shared ethos and approach to the way we work with our artists, and I think we will benefit from working together.”

“We are the masters of our own destiny, and that is really freeing”

“It’s a chance for me to put my knowledge to something new, fresh and exciting that we have control of,” adds Backman. “We are the masters of our own destiny, and that is really freeing.”

“The independent agency world has ballooned over the last 12 months; there are some big players in it now, and there is a lot more scope to shake things up and work in a slightly different way,” continues Hanner, who says that having achieved financial backing, Runway Artists is looking to bring more agents on board in the near future.

“We have the freedom to push into areas where we might be able to offer more for our acts and benefit them in the long term. Different artists want different things from their careers, and we’re committed to delivering whatever it is they are trying to achieve, rather than feel we have to push every act into trying to fill arenas.

“It feels like a really exciting time to be putting a new company together. This is a serious proposition. We are ambitious and we are looking to grow over time.”


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IQ New Music playlist spotlights ILMC 33 showcase artists

The latest edition of IQ’s New Music playlist goes live today, showcasing the exciting new acts, handpicked by major international agencies and music export offices, that are set to perform at this week’s 33rd International Live Music Conference (ILMC).

Launched last summer, the playlist complements IQ Magazine’s popular New Signings page, which keeps the live industry updated about which new, emerging and re-emerging artists are being signed by agents.

The March playlist features contributions from ITB, ATC Live, Paradigm, UTA and Primary Talent, as well as UK Sounds, Hots (Hungarian Oncoming Tunes), Soundczech and Why Portugal, each of which have picked up to 12 tracks apiece showcasing some of their hottest touring artists.

Listen to the latest selection using the Spotify playlist below – or click here to catch up on the February 2021 edition first.

Separated by agency/export office, the full track list for the March playlist is:

ITBBernhoft, The Fashion BruisesLookalike
ITBBernhoftAll My Loving
ITBConradNo God
ITBConrad, Pablo NouvelleLiving For The Weekend
ITBKapil SeshasayeeThe Gharial
ITBKapil SeshasayeeThe Item Girl
ITBMobs, GoldhouseBig World (Goldhouse Remix)
ITBMobsSay Anything
ITBNature TVHometown
ITBNature TVOnly One
ITBNicole Slack Jones, Guéna LGI Am Free (Acoustic by Johan Czerneski)
ITBNicole Slack Jones, Guéna LGGive You My All (Acoustic by Johan Czerneski)
ATC LIVEFenne LilyTop to Toe
ATC LIVEFenne LilyFor a While
ATC LIVELos BitchosThe Link Is About to Die
ATC LIVELos BitchosPista (Great Start)
ATC LIVEPillow QueensHowDoILook
ATC LIVEPillow QueensGay Girls
ATC LIVERueben JamesSo Cool
ATC LIVERueben James, Col3traneMy Line
ATC LIVEThe Goa ExpressBe My Friend
ATC LIVEThe Goa ExpressThe Day
ParadigmRole ModelBlind
ParadigmRole ModelMinimal
ParadigmRitt MomneyPut Your Records On
ParadigmRitt MomneySomething, in General
ParadigmBartees StrangeBoomer
ParadigmBartees StrangeMustang
ParadigmTV PriestPress Gang
ParadigmTV PriestDecoration
ParadigmJP Saxe, Julia MichaelsIf The World Was Ending
ParadigmJP SaxeHey Stupid, I Love You
ParadigmChristyDancing With Air
ParadigmChristyOn My Mind
ParadigmUpsahlPeople I Don't Like
UTANubya GarciaThe Message Continues
UTANubya GarciaLost Kingdoms
UTAPeach Tree RascalsMariposa
UTAPeach Tree RascalsMango
UTASkullcrusherSong for Nick Drake
Primary Talent InternationalBVDLVD, Lil DarkiePunk!
Primary Talent InternationalBVDLVDAdderall
Primary Talent InternationalDeema, David ArmadaHash Brown
Primary Talent InternationalDeema, Kish!Maddie
Primary Talent InternationalJoesef, Loyle CarnerI Wonder Why
Primary Talent InternationalJoesefThe Sun Is Up Forever
Primary Talent InternationalKaty KirbyJuniper
Primary Talent InternationalLouisahhhChaos - Wax Wings Remix
Primary Talent InternationalMiloeWinona
UK SoundsCherymAbigail
UK SoundsCherymWeird Ones
UK SoundsGengahrBefore Sunrise
UK SoundsLady NadeAin't One Thing
UK SoundsLady NadeComplicated
UK SoundsTrueMendousHmmm
UK SoundsTrueMendousThat Don't Mean
UK SoundsDead Pony23, Never Me
UK SoundsDead PonySharp Tongues
UK SoundsHMS MorrisPoetry
UK SoundsHMS MorrisBabanod
UK SoundsElles BaileyMedicine Man - Acoustic
UK SoundsElles BaileyWhat's the Matter with You
HOTSBabé SilaHole
HOTSBabé SilaMoonlight
HOTSJazzbois, Kid AbsraktLive & Direct - Live
HOTSWun Two, JazzboisInterloop
HOTSPlaton KarataevThe Season of Singing
HOTSPlaton KarataevElevator
HOTSThe Devil's TradeDead Sister
HOTSThe Devil's TradeThe Iron Peak
SoundczechLambdaSpace Express
SoundczechLazer VikingWaiting for the End of the End of the End
SoundczechLazer VikingEveryone But U
SoundczechPlease the TreesMissing Feeling Nothing
SoundczechPlease the TreesA Song Is It's Own World
SoundczechTeepeeNo Reason
SoundczechTeepeeParallel World
WHY PortugalWhalesBig Pulse Waves
WHY PortugalWhalesGhost
WHY PortugalLina, Raül RefreeMedo
WHY PortugalLina, Raül RefreeCuidei que tinha morrido
WHY PortugalSurmaMaasai
WHY PortugalSurmaHemma
WHY PortugalDream PeoplePeople Think
WHY PortugalDream PeopleCaroline

The full ILMC showcase schedule is available from the ILMC 33 website.

ILMC 33 takes place this week, from 3 to 5 March. A limited number of tickets are still available – click here for more information.


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Pete Nash joins ICM Partners/Primary Talent

Respected New York-based booking agent Pete Nash has joined ICM Partners, becoming the latest addition to the US major agency’s recently formed International division, which incorporates the UK’s Primary Talent International.

British-born Nash most recently worked at WME, where he spent almost nine years booking artists including Alanis Morissette, Vince Staples, Duran Duran and Tegan and Sara in addition to his own roster.

Prior to joining WME he ran his own New York-based agency, which he formed after leaving legendary London-based outfit Helter Skelter. Spending 17 years as a Helter Skelter director, he represented artists such as Alicia Keys, Stevie Wonder, Blondie, the Fall and Suede. (ICM formerly owned the companies that become Helter Skelter; Nash’s ex-colleagues at the agency include X-ray’s Steve Strange and Pete Huffman, CAA’s Emma Banks and Mike Greek and K2’s John Jackson.)

Nash’s hiring – announced today (24 September) Rob Prinz, ICM’s head of worldwide concerts, and Primary Talent’s Matt Bates, ICM head of international – is the latest by ICM Partners International, the division formed with ICM’s effective acquisition of London’s Primary Talent in March. He follows former WME colleague Simon Clarkson, who joined ICM last month.

Both Nash and Clarkson will work closely with Primary Talent in London, say the agencies.

Nash – who will be based in ICM Partners’ New York office – brings artists including Kings of Leon, Pet Shop Boys, Regina Spektor, Travis, the Struts and Steve Winwood to ICM/Primary.

“The moves they have made to bolster their international footprint was the catalyst for me to make this move”

He says he’s “very excited to join an agency that is in growth mode. The moves they have made to bolster their international footprint was the catalyst for me to make this move.

“[I’m] looking forward to working closely with Rob Prinz and Matt Bates, who are longtime friends, and the teams at ICM and Primary.”

“I was trying to book acts off Pete long before I was ever an agent, so to be finally be able to work alongside him is a privilege,” says Bates, who is also a Primary director. “His experience in the international market is second to none, and his roster of incredible clients speaks for itself.

“I couldn’t wish for a more perfect addition on our team to help navigate the new exciting music landscape that we are entering into.”

In addition to New York and London, ICM – which is backed by US$150 million in private-equity investment – has offices in Los Angeles (headquarters) and Washington DC. It also holds a minority share in Albatros Agency, a Stockholm-based literary agency.


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ICM invests in Swedish agency Albatros

In the US agency’s latest investment in the European market, ICM Partners has acquired a minority stake in Albatros Agency, a Stockholm-based literary agency.

The investment sees Los Angeles-based ICM acquire “significant” minority share in Albatros, and follows its acquisition of London music agency Primary Talent International earlier this year.

As part of the deal, American ICM partner Pete Stone will relocate to Sweden to work closely with the Albatros team, according to Nordic 9. Albatros represents over 60 film and TV directors and screenwriters, including Björn Runge, Iram Haq, Jens Lien, Peter Grönlund and Måns Herngren.

“To partner with ICM is a true defining moment for us”

“We started Albatros Agency with a vision of boosting talent, working hands on with their projects, creating business opportunities and building long-term partnerships,” say Martina Österling and Elin Sandström Lundh, who co-founded Albatros in 2017, in a joint statement.

“We are very proud of what we have established at Albatros so far, but even more excited about this next chapter, and to partner with ICM is a true defining moment for us.”

ICM raised US$150m from Crestview Partners at the end of 2019.


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ICM’s Robert Gibbs promoted to head of department

Robert Gibbs has been promoted to head of contemporary music at ICM Partners, after 14 years at the company.

Gibbs moved from CAA to ICM in 2006 and was made a partner at the company in 2016.

His current roster includes artists such as J.Cole, PartyNextDoor and Ari Lennox and his work has earned him a spot on the Billboard Power 100 list for two years running.

“Robert is a fabulous agent, individual and an impactful leader. I am very proud of him and all that he has accomplished in his fourteen years at ICM,” said CEO, Chris Silbermann.

“We began discussing this well-deserved promotion last October and but for the pandemic, this would have happened sooner. He has earned this promotion with sustained levels of excellence in all aspects of the job and makes our organization stronger. I am thrilled for him and us.”

Robert Gibbs says: “ICM has built the best culture of any major agency and I am proud to take a leadership role within this organization.

“We have been fortifying the department even during the pandemic”

“We are the last and only major agency solely dedicated to the representation business and it shows in the manner in which we work for artists to achieve their dreams. We have been building and fortifying the department even during the pandemic and our contemporary music team is one I am proud to now lead.”

ICM’s international touring business includes artists such as Khalid, J. Cole, Migos, Good Charlotte, Charlie Wilson, Limp Bizkit, Sinead O’Connor, Suicideboys and Boyz II Men.

Other ICM clients include actors Samuel L. Jackson, Sir Patrick Stewart, John Travolta and Christoph Waltz, comedians Ellen DeGeneres, Chris Rock and Jerry Seinfeld, filmmaker Spike Lee and wrestler-actor John Cena. In addition to LA, the agency – formerly International Creative Management – also has offices in London, New York and Washington DC.

Earlier this year, ICM allied with Primary Talent International, one of London’s last major independent booking agencies.

Primary – home to the 1975, Stormzy and Dave – is retaining its name and team while benefitting from LA-based ICM’s “global scale”. While ICM’s international touring business will get a boost from the allyship.

ICM agent Yves Pierre, who represents artists including Lil Yachty, talked about navigating the world of livestreaming and why people must “put themselves on the line” to achieve a more diverse industry for IQ‘s Tales from Covid series.


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