Just Like Heaven: Inside The Cure’s European tour
Having entertained millions of people on their 2019 festivals tour, a headline outing the following year was very much on the cards for The Cure, before the pandemic halted every act with such ambitions. But determined to reconnect with fans following the enforced lay-off, the band are currently in the midst of their biggest-ever European tour.
With most dates already sold out weeks in advance, bar some last-minute production holds and restricted-view tickets, the tour is an unmitigated success. But the planning involved to get the band back out on the road has been gruelling, with agent Martin Hopewell confessing it has been the hardest tour he has worked on in his 50-year career.
“Robert Smith and I started talking about this tour not long after the 2019 festival run. Originally, we were looking at stuff for 2020, so effectively, this tour has been two years in the planning,” says Hopewell.
“When the pandemic hit in 2020, things that were due to happen that summer got moved to the autumn. In the autumn, those postponed shows and the scheduled autumn shows got moved into the spring of 2021. And then, when it became clear that that wasn’t going to happen, stuff from the spring of 2021 got moved to the autumn of 2021 on top of the stuff that was already planned for the ultimate 2021. It was like blowing leaves: you just end up with a bloody great pile of them somewhere! And in this case, it was five touring periods that got moved and ended up on top of each other in autumn 2022.”
“Trying to get availabilities was just a screaming nightmare…this is probably the most difficult tour I’ve ever booked”
However, as it became clear that Smith and the band were adamant about pressing ahead with a tour, Hopewell and his Primary Talent International colleague, Charlie Renton, rolled up their sleeves for what proved to be a mammoth exercise.
“Trying to get availabilities was just a screaming nightmare,” says Hopewell. “This is probably the most difficult tour I’ve ever booked. Putting something together during the pandemic was unbelievably challenging, and it took a big piece out of everybody involved in trying to put it together.”
He continues, “The biggest problem that we had was deciding when might be a safe time to do it. That, and the fact that every act in the world seemed to be planning tours in 2022 and had pencilled in holds at venues to the point where you might be 6th or 8th in line for any one particular date!”
Unperturbed, Hopewell and Renton hatched a plan. “Charlie and I collected the availabilities and made these monstrous spreadsheets, so that in the end we had six tours on hold: two for the autumn of this year – one starting in September, one starting in October; my favourite one was starting in the spring of next year – we had three different schedules lined up for next year; and we also put together an outdoor proposal for a summer 2022 tour with a whole load of beautiful parks and lakes and stadiums and castles in case there were still indoor restrictions.”
Charlie Renton tells IQ, “Not knowing what the Covid restrictions would be in certain countries was difficult, hence the reason we planned six different options, which is the most I’ve ever done – plus this is the biggest tour I’ve ever been involved in, so it was a huge challenge.”
“We’re playing 46 shows, which is the longest European tour that The Cure have ever done”
That drawn-out process allowed the agents and Robert Smith – who is the band’s de facto manager – to have a conversation about a number of different touring possibilities. “And, of course, he chose the trickiest one,” laughs Hopewell.
The routing sees the band travel roughly 12,000 miles across 19 European countries before finishing with the UK’s four home nations – Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and England. That schedule should see them entertaining more than 500,000 fans, thanks to a hardworking clique of European promoters who Hopewell affectionately refers to as ‘The Cure team.’
“We’re playing 46 shows, which is the longest European tour that The Cure have ever done,” states Hopewell. “Even then we weren’t able to include everything in the routing, but it was good to be able to put shows into some places the band haven’t played for a while – along with some new ones. We’d never been to the Baltic States before, so it was great to kick off the tour in Latvia. Our promoters did a great job at a very difficult time.”
Into the Dark
Production manager Phil Broad first worked with The Cure in the 1980s when he was a rigger, but he’s been the chief for the three most recent tours – the 2016 arena tour, the 2019 outdoor outing, and the current extravaganza.
Observing that many road warriors were a bit rusty when live music resumed, he says the early experience of tours being short-staffed seems to be resolving itself. “We’re not experiencing local crew shortages, really, but there are a lot of new people, so the crew situation definitely is not back to where it was,” he reports. “The Cure have a fairly sensible core crew of 32 people, so even where we’re turning up and there are inexperienced people on the local crew who are just there to make up the numbers, we can handle it pretty well.”
“The Cure don’t do production rehearsals, so there’s no room for error”
One complication is the band’s approach to touring, although given the history that most individuals on the crew have with the act, Broad takes it in his stride. “The Cure don’t do production rehearsals, so there’s no room for error,” he tells IQ. “Starting off a tour with them can be a bit nail-biting, as you need to have enough trucks, and there’s no point having one truck too many because it’s still going to cost you if you have to send it back. Basically, we arrived at the Arena Riga, loaded in, the band rehearsed that night, and then the next day we had the first show.”
…Happily Ever After
It’s not just the fans who had been clamouring for the band to restart their live activities. Promoters throughout Europe are reporting impressive ticket sales across the 22 territories the band are visiting.
“To be honest, I’d forgotten how extremely good The Cure are and how much I like them until they played the show in Stockholm,” says Thomas Johansson, Live Nation Nordics chairman. “They have some of the best pop songs ever written, and I noticed that they are attracting a younger element to their audience than ever before.
“The band are a true rock & roll outfit, and they do extremely well in our part of the world – they sold out in Norway and Copenhagen, and they were very close to selling out both the Avicii Arena and the Gothenburg shows in Sweden.”
In France, Alias Production founder Jules Frutos has eight sold-out dates. “I’ve been working with the band since before they even released their debut album Three Imaginary Boys [in 1979], so I’ve seen them play very small clubs in the likes of Orleans and Tours, right the way up to the venues they are doing now,” he says.
“To be honest, I’d forgotten how extremely good The Cure are…they have some of the best pop songs ever written”
Paying tribute to The Cure’s approach to the French market, Frutos notes that they have previously played all the venues they are visiting in 2022 – in Lyon, Montpellier, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Nantes, Strasbourg, Liévin, and Paris – but not all on the same tour. He adds, “They understood early on that the provinces are sometimes easier to play than Paris, where there are a limited number of venues, so the way they built their career in France has been very classical and special.”
Frutos also testifies to the band’s multigenerational appeal. “When they headlined Rock en Seine in 2019, that day of the festival sold out quicker than the others. The festival attracts a young audience, and when I went to see The Cure, it was very special – the people at the front, closest to the stage, were two or three generations of fans.”
Across the border in Spain, Live Nation’s Gay Mercader is also a long-time partner. “I’ve worked with the band for close to 40 years, and it has been a privilege – Martin Hopewell and the band have been incredibly loyal to all of their promoters over the years. It’s a big responsibility because when someone relies on you, you can never fuck up.”
Highlighting the band’s enduring – and growing – appeal, Mercader says, “I found out during the pandemic that many people in my life are massive fans of The Cure: my lawyer, some of the people who work on my estate. And they are not all ‘goth’ people. Cure fans are everywhere.
“I always sell out with The Cure. They last visited Spain in 2019 when they played Mad Cool Festival in Madrid, where their performance was televised on national TV, and they attracted the biggest audience of the whole festival.”
“The set is always crazily long – up to three hours – so they play literally every hit that’s out there: it’s an amazing show”
In Germany, Karsten Jahnke Konzertdirektion has been working with The Cure since 1980. But it’s Ben Mitha, who has taken over as managing director of his grandfather’s business, who promotes the band. “I actually got involved on their 2016 tour,” says Mitha. “I did all the settlements regarding those shows, and I’m really looking forward to getting back out on the road with them for our seven shows in Germany.
“It’s gonna be fun. The set is always crazily long – up to three hours – so they play literally every hit that’s out there: it’s an amazing show.”
In Italy, Barley Arts founder Claudio Trotta has four dates lined up – Bologna, Florence, Padova, and Milan. He’s been the band’s promoter since the 1980s and is in awe of their work ethic. “Many years ago, I had a sold-out show at the Forum in Milano, and all the audience were already in the venue, but [bass player] Simon Gallup was feeling so sick that he couldn’t even stand up,” recalls Trotta.
“We were at the point when Barry Hunter was ready to play instead of him on bass, but Simon said clearly, ‘I will play even if I’m gonna die on stage.’ So he did the show seated because he was in such pain. And after the show, he was three or four months in hospital because of an infection. From that day [on he’s been] my hero. I mean, we’re talking about a great human being with a lot of passion and who has a lot of respect for the audience.”
And remembering another instance, where the band played an outdoor show near Venice, during a rain storm, Trotta adds, “Robert and the band didn’t give a damn – they were soaked, but they played the show to the end. In my heart and in my mind, The Cure are in a different league.”
“In my heart and in my mind, The Cure are in a different league”
While Trotta also reports healthy ticket sales, it’s not all plain sailing for every promoter. In Austria, Alex Nussbaumer, of al-x concert promoter GmbH, believes the cost-of-living crisis is preventing many fans from buying tickets. But still, The Cure’s date at the Marx Halle in Vienna pulled in a packed crowd of over 8,000 fans.
“I’m super impressed with how solid they are in the live discipline – it’s a two-and-a-half-hour show, so the fans definitely get value for money,” says Nussbaumer. ‘That’s maybe why when I walked through the audience, I saw lots of families with children aged eight, nine, ten. It was a great atmosphere for a legendary band.”
He adds, “The Cure are fantastic. They have remained very loyal to me on the touring side, for which I am very grateful because they bring with them a very smooth production, thanks to the same kind of set-up and the same people remaining in the tour party.”
Thankfully, the feedback from the road is overwhelmingly positive. “The fans are loving it and are having a great time, and so are Robert and the band, so we are very happy,” comments agent, Renton.
She notes that with Covid cases on the rise again as the seasons change, the touring party are taking their own precautions against the virus. “The band and the core crew are in a bubble, and there are no aftershows on this tour, to try to mitigate against the virus. It’s worked well so far, so the plan is just to be sensible to hopefully avoid any issues.”
“Robert is the only artist I know in the world who discusses ticket prices, sightlines, scalings with every promoter”
The Perfect Boy
Revealing the depth of Robert Smith’s involvement in the band’s career, Mitha tells IQ, “Robert is the only artist I know in the world who discusses ticket prices, sightlines, scalings with every promoter – it was the same with the 2016 tour. So, when you send over scaling plans with those colour seating maps and everything, he literally goes into every detail and changes the colours. It must be crazy time-consuming for him, but he’s very involved.”
Spanish promoter Mercader comments, “They care deeply about the ticket prices – the only other act I can think of who care to the same extent is AC/DC. Robert wants sensible prices to make it as affordable as possible for all fans.”
It’s something that Hopewell knows well. “Promoters will put forward a ticket price they think is achievable and a lot of the time Robert will come back and say thank you very much, but I think the prices should be lower,” he says. “He’s also very keen to see ticket scales that are neatly structured rather than appearing to be haphazard from the fans’ point of view.”
Production manager Broad notes the positives, “Robert is like management. He wants to know the sales numbers, how everything looks, where everything is – he is very hands on. It actually has its advantages: if anyone asks ‘Why do you do X?’ we can answer, ‘Because Robert wants to!’ And that’s the end of the conversation.”
Another anomaly is that Smith is also very particular when it comes to the direction of travel. “Robert is a perfectionist when it comes to routing,” discloses Hopewell. “If you join up the dots on a map and there are any loops in there, he hates it. That makes it fun finding routings that will work, but it makes sense. After all it’s not us office-types who actually have to go out and do it.”
“Robert is a perfectionist when it comes to routing”
Out of This World
Transport suppliers Transam are certainly impressed with the ‘no loops’ policy. “The routing and schedule is very good considering the length of the tour – the agents did a really good job,” says Transam Trucking director Natasha Highcroft.
With ten trucks involved on the tour (nine for production and one for merchandise), Highcroft reports that Transam has had longer to plan for the tour than normal, such has been the extended Covid situation.
“The first quote we did was in April 2021, and we booked it last November, so we were well-prepared,” she says. “In fact, we’ve only had to use relief drivers in one spot on the entire tour, and that was so our drivers could take a mandatory 24-hour break. Otherwise, we’ve been organising our own shunt drivers, where necessary, because we’re trying to avoid the need for hiring local drivers, as productions are telling us that is proving problematic at the moment.”
Bryan Grant, at audio specialists Britannia Row, tells IQ that he has been working with The Cure since 1979, and they are one of his favourite clients. “They did some long stints in the 80s and 90s, but 46 arena shows in Europe is a significant tour by anyone’s standards,” he observes of the current tour.
Grant continues, “The tour is all going smoothly, but that doesn’t surprise me because they have a longstanding and loyal crew of key people who they can rely on. The crew are treated very well, and a plus point is the band and their music, which helps make it an enjoyable experience for all.”
“I’ve been working with [The Cure] for the last 44 years, and it’s genuinely been one of the great privileges of my life”
And he agrees with the ‘perfectionist’ description given to Smith. “Robert looks at every detail and communicates very well with the people who work with the band,” says Grant. “He constantly listens to the previous night’s performance to hone things. He’s the consummate professional and a meticulous planner. He would make a top-notch production manager.”
On stage, The Cure rely on PRG for lighting and video screens. While elsewhere on the road, Phoenix Bussing are providing the means for personnel travel, with Eat Your Heart Out keeping everyone fed and watered and Freight Minds ensuring the band’s equipment gets safely from A to B to Z.
At IQ’s press time, The Cure are roughly halfway through their 46-date run, but such is the following that they are continuing to build that enquiries are already circulating about future live plans.
Despite the financial restraints, Nussbaumer sums up promoters’ hopes by voicing his desire for the band to be back in Austria before too long. “All the talk is that they will be doing something next year, as we’re expecting there might be a new album,” he says.
“They played four new songs during the gig here in Vienna, so we’ll have to wait to see what their plans are.” Noting that he’s looking forward to seeing the tour finale at Wembley, Bryan Grant states, “The Cure have quietly become one of the best performing bands on the planet. They don’t make a lot of media noise, but the production is very creative and quirky but not over-elaborate –
they don’t have to rely on style over substance.”
He adds, “[lighting director] Angus McPhail has been there from the beginning and always has an interesting look for the production. At the same time, the audio has to be excellent, but it’s not there to mask anything – it’s simply to amplify whatever the band do on stage.”
Hopewell admits that the fact the band is on the road at all in 2022 is something of a miracle. “We have half a million fans going to see The Cure – about 11,000 people on average per night – which considering it’s just after a pandemic, people have less money than before, and have less confidence that shows are actually going to happen… it’s really humbling,” he says.
“I’m finding it hard to believe that we did it, because when you’re setting it up, there’s just a handful of us involved – in this case all working from home on laptops and cell phones during the lockdowns. And then bizarrely, this monster tour comes out of it and actually happens. After the last couple of years, I think I can be forgiven for feeling it’s all a little surreal at the moment.”
He concludes, “Personally, I’m always very aware of the debt that I owe to Robert Smith, especially for his loyalty over all these years. I stumbled across The Cure when we were all painfully young and started trying to help out with some club gigs in London. And now I’ve been working with them for the last 44 years, and it’s genuinely been one of the great privileges of my life.”
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ILMC 34: Top agents discuss post-pandemic landscape
Session chair Tom Schroeder (Wasserman) recounted his first ILMC experiences when he was accosted by private jet brokers who were not exactly relevant for his jungle acts. As a result, he said he wanted to make this year’s agency session a little more accessible for all.
Jon Ollier (One Fiinix Live) spoke of his recent experience with the start of the Ed Sheeran tour and the excitement around it, noting that outdoor shows appear to be more exciting than those indoors.
Looking for the positives in the current state of live music, Schroeder reported that young acts who have come through the pandemic appear to want to have a lot more ownership of their careers, with Lucy Dickins (WME) agreeing that there is a culture shift happening among the younger generation.
Ollier opined that it’s not just a generational thing, but also financial, as lots of people are buying tickets late, meaning that promoters have to take a leap of faith in investing in their events in the hope that people do turn up at the last minute.
The agents said [ticket] prices are not likely to come down as the artist’s costs have also increased
Sally Dunstone (Primary Talent) told ILMC that avails appear to have reached a saturation point, making it tricky to get to that next step with new artists. But she said this forced agents to be more creative and look to work with different venues, for example.
“We have to advise the artist on how they get to that next step in the career and if that means telling them to wait, rather than go out now and do a tour that could harm their long term prospects,” said Dunstone.
She said that her decision to switch agencies was down to the pandemic, thinking in a more entrepreneurial manner and searching for new opportunities – a sentiment echoed by Ollier who launched his own agency, saying that it was the CAA ethos of exploring new avenues and trying to always find a brighter path, that had prompted him to decide to establish his own venture.
Looking at the year ahead, Ari Bernstein (ICM Partners) observed the effect that festivals might have on other touring, highlighting radius causes and the like as issues that need to be discussed. He said Covid had made him look around for all the other revenue sources that his clients as artists could benefit from, which was something that would strengthen the sector going forward.
Schroeder said the new breed of young manager wants their agents to be a bigger part of the artist’s journey
Bernstein agreed with Schroeder that the price of living is going to squeeze the fans and there will be an impact that we are yet to experience. He also cited the war in Ukraine, rising costs and higher ticket prices, but accepted that it is now part of an agent’s role to negotiate those challenges.
On the thorny question of ticket prices, the agents said those prices are not likely to come down as the artist’s costs have also increased. But they said acts are already looking to tour with smaller productions in a bid to save money, as well as considering sustainability matters.
Schroeder said the new breed of young manager wants their agents to be a bigger part of the artist’s journey, rather than just a cog in the wheel.
Dickins also applauded the entrepreneurial spirit among young acts and younger agents. “The artists that tell me what they want to do, not the other way around,” she revealed. “There are things they are telling me that I think ‘shit, I’ve got to read up on that,’” she added.
Turning to the future, Dunstone predicted that in three to five years’ time the business would be fully recovered and progressed from where it was pre-pandemic. “People are looking at content differently now,” she said citing acts that have done well through the likes of TikTok. “I think we’ll see a fresh batch of new headliners in five years’ time, that have come through the pandemic,” said Dunstone.
“The artists that tell me what they want to do, not the other way around”
Ollier joked that Dickins would be working at his agency in three years, but on a serious note, he said there would be a period of natural selection with artists, events and probably even agents.
“Change is good,” said Dickins. “It’s been boring to see the same headliners at festivals for 15 years. I’m excited about the change and I’m embracing it – it’s already happening.”
Schroeder noted that while festival programming had improved, diversity in the actual industry itself was poor, with Dickins agreeing that the business needs to be a lot better.
Schroeder concluded that this summer will be bumpy but that agents need to navigate it. Ollier said, “The art is going to get better and better, no matter what us industry idiots have got to do.” That struck a chord with his fellow agents, with Bernstein believing that there will be more doors opening for revenue streams than ever before, as people embrace entrepreneurial ideas and think outside the box.
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The New Bosses: Remembering the class of 2021
The 14th edition of IQ Magazine‘s New Bosses celebrated the brightest talent aged 30 and under in the international live music business.
The New Bosses 2021 honoured no fewer than a dozen young executives, as voted by their colleagues around the world.
The 14th edition of the annual list inspired the most engaged voting process to date, with hundreds of people taking the time to submit nominations.
The year’s distinguished dozen comprises promoters, bookers, agents, entrepreneurs and more, all involved in the international business and each of whom is making a real difference in their respective sector.
In alphabetical order, the New Bosses 2021 are:
- Talissa Buhl, festival booker, FKP Scorpio (DE). Full profile here.
- Jenna Dooling, agent, WME (UK). Full profile here.
- Emma Greco, promoter, AEG Presents (FR). Full profile here.
- Paris Harding, promoter, SJM (UK). Full profile here.
- Tessie Lammle, agent, UTA (US). Full profile here.
- Will Marshall, agent, Primary Talent/ICM Partners (UK). Full profile here.
- Arjun Mehta, founder & CEO, Moment House (US). Full profile here.
- Flo Noseda-Littler, agency assistant, Paradigm (UK). Full profile here.
- Anna Parry, programming manager, the O2 (UK). Full profile here.
- Theo Quiblier, head of concerts, Two Gentlemen (CH). Full profile here.
- Dan Roberts, promoter, Live Nation (UK). Full profile here.
- Age Versluis, promoter, Friendly Fire (NL). Full profile here.
Subscribers can read full interviews with each of the 2021 New Bosses in issue 103 of IQ Magazine.
Click here to subscribe to IQ for just £5.99 a month – or check out what you’re missing out on with the limited preview below:
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CAA to acquire ICM Partners in historic deal
Creative Artists Agency (CAA) and ICM Partners are joining forces in a landmark agency merger that will “drive broader and more inclusive representation” for their clients.
The deal, if approved, will bring together two of the leading global agencies in entertainment and sports. The agency landscape would then consist of what US outlets are calling ‘the big three’ – CAA, WME, UTA – alongside Wasserman, which is also a major player in the US. Financial terms were not disclosed.
The agreement, announced today (27 September), is said to be the largest talent agency transaction since WME acquired IMG in 2014 and since Endeavor joined forces with William Morris Agency in 2009, which forged the contemporary WME.
“Today’s storytellers, athletes, thought-leaders, and trend-setters who can move, inspire, and attract large, global audiences have an unprecedented opportunity and ability to achieve their goals and aspirations,” says CAA’s Bryan Lourd, Kevin Huvane, and Richard Lovett.
“The strategic combination bolsters our collective resources, expertise, and relationships to deliver more opportunities”
“The strategic combination of CAA and ICM bolsters our collective resources, expertise, and relationships to deliver even more opportunities for our world-class clients to build their careers and their brands across multiple disciplines and platforms in an evolving marketplace.
“Our strong financial position enables us to continue to expand and diversify our businesses, with service and representation remaining central to what we do and who we are. We’re fortunate to have a partner in ICM who shares our commitment to the widest and most inclusive vision possible for what our clients and company can accomplish together.”
ICM’s Chris Silbermann, who will join CAA’s shareholder board, added: “We’re thrilled to partner and combine forces with the talented CAA team. Together, we will build upon our accomplishments and entrepreneurial spirit, and continue to demonstrate an unwavering commitment to the best interests of our clients, as well as empowering new, diverse voices within the industry.”
ICM brings to CAA a global roster of artists in film, television, music, comedy, theatre, games, politics, and podcasting.
“[CAA’s] strong financial position enables us to continue to expand and diversify our businesses”
ICM’s music clients include Chaka Khan, Buddy Guy, Chris Rock, Corinne Bailey Rae, D’Angelo, Dan Auerbach, Good Charlotte, J. Cole, Jerry Seinfeld, Jill Scott, Kamasi Washington, Khalid, Lisa Loeb, Los Lonely Boys, Mavis Staples, Migos, Puddles Pity Party, Roger Daltrey, Rosanne Cash, Scott Stapp, Sheila E, The Black Keys, Tower of Power, Trey Songz and more.
Last year, ICM joined forces with Primary Talent International, one of London’s last major independent booking agencies.
Primary Talent is home to more than 900 music clients, including the likes of Stormzy, the 1975, alt-J, Noel Gallagher, Patti Smith, the Cure, Pussycat Dolls, Two Door Cinema Club, Dave, Lana Del Rey and Catfish and the Bottlemen.
CAA is a leading entertainment, media, and sports enterprise, with expertise in motion pictures, television, music, sports, theater, digital media, publishing, endorsements, media finance, consumer investing, fashion, podcasting, speaking, games, and philanthropy.
CAA was the first entertainment talent agency to build a sports business, create an investment bank, launch a venture fund, found technology start-up companies, and establish a business in China (CAA China), among other industry innovations.
“Together, we will build upon our accomplishments and entrepreneurial spirit”
A subsidiary of CAA, Entertainment Benefits Group (EBG) is a leader in corporate entertainment and travel, with more than 40,000 clients and 60 million users.
Founded in 1975, CAA is headquartered in Los Angeles, and has a significant presence in New York, Nashville, London, Beijing, and Shanghai, as well as offices in Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Geneva, Jacksonville, Las Vegas, Memphis, Miami, Munich, Orlando, Stockholm, and Toronto, among other locations globally.
Originally founded in 1975 as International Creative Management, then rebranded as ICM Partners in 2012, ICM has the expertise and influence of a legacy agency, and an entrepreneurial innovative spirit dedicated to serving its clients across the globe with passion and distinction.
ICM has offices in Los Angeles, New York, Washington DC, and London, and strategic partnerships in Europe, Asia, and beyond.
The New Bosses 2021: Will Marshall, Primary/ICM
The New Bosses 2021 – 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 103 this month, revealing the 12 promising promoters, bookers, agents, entrepreneurs that make up this year’s list.
To get to know this year’s cohort a little better, IQ conducted interviews with each one of 2021’s New Bosses, discovering their greatest inspirations and pinpointing the reasons for their success.
Catch up on the previous 2021 New Bosses interview with Talissa Buhl, festival booker at FKP Scorpio in Germany here.
Born and raised in London, Will Marshall started out running monthly showcase events in the city’s East End, combined with spells working for Live Nation’s festival production team, while studying.
Earning a degree in architecture, in 2014 he dropped the books to join Metropolis Music before heading to Primary Talent in 2016 as an agent, working with Matt Bates. Marshall’s roster is as eclectic and wide-ranging as the London music scene he grew up admiring: alt-pop, electronic, rap, rock, folk and indie acts all garner attention.
A degree in architecture isn’t the traditional route into music – are there any parallels at all with being an agent?
Both have set me up for a life of late nights and impending deadlines, but in all seriousness, there is a problem-solving nature that connects the two, usually within a collaborative framework, and almost always with a slightly competitive drive.
You ran regular showcases when you were a student. How did you find the talent and has that experience helped you understand the job of promoters better?
In terms of the latter, definitely. When it comes to decision making and giving clear advice, the understanding and knowledge of those companies, their different departments and how they operate is key.
Regarding sourcing talent, it sounds simple but I would just put on events and book acts whose music I liked. The way in which music is consumed now means that everyone is their own curator; the tastes you are catering for have exploded exponentially. That is exciting, especially as we push for a more inclusive music scene.
“The advent of widespread livestreaming highlighted just how pivotal crowds are in creating the moments that we do this for”
Do you have a mentor or anyone you turn to for advice?
Probably too many to single out but I feel very lucky because my job requires me to connect with people in all different parts of the industry from all around the world, so they keep my view well rounded. My family and friends keep me grounded and remind me what is really important.
What are you most looking forward to as pandemic restrictions are lifted?
Crowds, and the energy, together with the artist, that they can create. Whilst the advent of widespread livestreaming presented artists and their teams and crew with much needed earning opportunities, it also highlighted just how pivotal crowds are in creating the special moments that we all do this for.
The pandemic has been hard on us all – are there any positive aspects that you are taking out of it?
We’ve seen a lot of people struggling in the slow down and the uncertainty. The pause has given us a moment to make decisions more consciously and in disrupting the pace there has been more time for conversations around sustainability, and gender and race equality. I hope these conversations continue and that they can further shape behaviour and action.
Loud and Proud: IQ pride playlist out now
The Pride takeover edition of the IQ New Music playlist, featuring a selection of tracks curated by major international booking agencies, is now live.
Launched last year, 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. Click here to read the inaugural Pride edition of IQ now.
The Loud and Proud (July) playlist features contributions from CAA, ICM, ITB, Paradigm Talent Agency, UTA, ATC, WME, Mother Artists, Primary Talent International, FMLY and Hometown Talent, each of which have picked several tracks apiece, showcasing some of their best queer touring artists.
Listen to the latest selection using the Spotify playlist below, or click here to catch up on the June playlist first.
Separated by agency, the full track list for the Loud and Proud (July) playlist is:
|CAA||Jodie Harsh||No Sleep|
|CAA||MUNA||Number One Fan|
|ICM||Tayla Parx||Dance Alone|
|ICM||Amorphous, Kehlani||Back Together|
|ITB||Annabel Allum||ordinary life|
|ITB||Brandi Carlile||The Joke|
|ITB||Cherym||Listening to My Head|
|ITB||Dream Nails||Kiss My Fist|
|ITB||Hot Milk||I Just Wanna Know What Happens When I'm Dead|
|Paradigm||Pabllo Vittar||Modo Turbo|
|Paradigm||Lynks||This Is the Hit|
|Paradigm||Ezra Furman||I Can Change|
|Paradigm||Perfume Genius||On the Floor|
|Paradigm||girl in red||Serotonin|
|UTA||Jake Wesley Rogers||Momentary|
|UTA||Madeline The Person||As a Child|
|UTA||Princess Nokia||It's Not My Fault|
|UTA||Sam Lee||The Tan Yard Side|
|ATC||Joe & The Shitboys||Drugs R'4 Kidz|
|ATC||Beverly Glenn-Copeland||Ever New|
|WME||Maya Jane Coles||Run to You|
|WME||Jazmin Bean||Hello Kitty|
|WME||Carla Prata||Certified Freak|
|WME||Kim Petras||Heart to Break|
|Mother Artists||Joy Oladokun||sorry isn't good enough|
|Primary||Rina Sawayama||Chosen Family|
|Primary||Rufus Wainwright||Going To A Town|
|Primary||Marika Hackman||Claude's Girl|
|FMLY||Eliza Legzdina||Eat Your Greenz|
|FMLY||Ralph TV||4 U|
|FMLY||Du Blonde||All The Way|
|FMLY||Lazy Day||Real Feel|
|Hometown Talent||Jerry Paper||Cholla|
|Hometown Talent||Angel Haze||Battle Cry|
Mayday! The IQ new music playlist is now live
The latest edition of IQ’s new music playlist, featuring a selection of tracks curated by major international booking agencies, is now live, showcasing some of the most exciting talent for May 2021.
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 May playlist features contributions from CAA, ICM Partners, ITB, Paradigm, UTA, ATC Live, WME, Mother Artists and Primary Talent, each of which have picked up to five 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 April playlist first.
Separated by agency office, the full track list for the May playlist is:
|CAA||Stefflon Don||Can't Let You Go|
|CAA||Joe P||Fighting in the Car|
|ICM Partners||Imanbek||Dancing on Dangerous|
|ICM Partners||Tygapaw||Run 2 U|
|ICM Partners||Gaidaa||Let Me|
|ICM Partners||Tanerelle||Mama Saturn's Galactica|
|ICM Partners||Charmaine||Double Dutch|
|ITB||Bartleby Delicate||Plastic Flowers|
|ITB||Cherym||Kisses on my Cards|
|ITB||Haunt The Woods||Elephant|
|ITB||The Slow Readers Club||Everything I Own|
|Paradigm||Dom Dolla||Pump the Brakes|
|Paradigm||Fred Again||Dermot (See Yourself in my Eyes)|
|Paradigm||The Clause||Time Of Our Lives|
|UTA||Walk Off the Earth||Anthem|
|UTA||Ayron Jones||Spinning Circles|
|ATC Live||Juan Wauters||Monsoon|
|ATC Live||Pinty||Found it|
|ATC Live||Cassandra Jenkins||Crosshairs|
|WME||Olivia Rodrigo||Déjà Vu|
|WME||J Balvin, Khalid||Otra Noche Sin Ti|
|WME||Kygo||Gone are the Days|
|WME||Thomas Rhett||Country Again|
|Mother Artists||CMAT||I Don't Really Care For You|
|Mother Artists||Grandma's House||Small Talk|
|Primary||Indigo De Souza||Take Off Ur Pants|
|Primary||Cookiee Kawaii||Vibe (If I Back it Up)|
|Primary||Ethan Tasch||How are you|
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.”
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.”
Matt Bates named head of international for ICM Partners
Primary Talent International director Matt Bates has been named head of international and head of Europe for ICM Partners in a leadership reshuffle following the recent resignation of ICM’s head of worldwide concerts, Rob Prinz.
Prinz, who stepped down voluntarily to return to being a full-time touring agent for ICM, is succeeded by Mark Siegel, with Robert Gibbs becoming the agency’s head of music. The three new appointments were announced by Chris Silbermann, CEO of ICM Partners.
“Mark Siegel, Robert Gibbs and Matt Bates are universally respected within our agency and the music business at large,” says Silbermann. “Through their hard work and dedication to their clients and the team here at ICM, they epitomise the true meaning of leading by example.”
Elsewhere, Steve Levine remains co-head of worldwide concerts, while Peter Elliott continues as managing director of the UK’s Primary Talent, which joined forces with ICM last March. Scott Mantell remains co-head of ICM international, based in Los Angeles.
Siegel is a New York-based ICM partner who has been with the agency for more than 25 years. He was formerly head of music. Gibbs, a 14-year veteran of, and partner in, ICM was previously head of contemporary music.
“Mark Siegel, Robert Gibbs and Matt Bates are universally respected within our agency and the music business at large”
Bates has been in the business more than 20 years (15 of them with Primary) and remains on the London-based agency’s board, alongside Peter Elliott and Ben Winchester.
“We have empowered a talented, diverse and forward-thinking leadership team to best represent our clients and reap the rewards of the investments we have made in the live events business,” continues Silbermann. “We are all looking forward to a booming 2022 and beyond as the audience returns to experience the artists and concerts they love and have greatly missed.
“This diverse team combines the wisdom of experience with a forward-thinking, next-generation enthusiasm, giving our clients a dynamic leadership team and representation department built not only for success today, but into the future.”
Alongside the new appointments, ICM has established a new ‘Next Gen Concerts Leadership Committee’ designed to pave the way for the next generation of concert department leaders. It initially includes agents Jacqueline Reynolds-Drumm, Yves C. Pierre, Ari Bernstein and Mitch Blackman.
“I am extremely humbled and excited to be given the opportunity to step into a new role within ICM concerts,” comments Siegel. Chris Silbermann and Rob Prinz led the charge over the past year to grow our division and lay the foundation for ICM concerts to be a leader in the industry for years to come.
“The foundation Rob Prinz built in the concert division has left ICM in a formidable position from which to navigate the exciting new world of live music”
“We have created a talented, diverse, and forward-thinking leadership team who I am proud to work alongside in our commitment to best represent our incredible clients. They are the reason we strive every day to be better than yesterday, and I cannot think of a better group of agents, assistants and support staff who display their commitment and passion daily to that end.
“As I step into this new role, I do so knowing I am surrounded by an incredible team, including my partners Steve Levine, Rob Gibbs and Matt Bates, and I am eager to continue the work that has propelled this department forward. I am equally excited to work with Jacqui, Yves, Ari and Mitch as they step into an active leadership role. To Rob Prinz, my colleague and more importantly my friend, thank you for your tireless work and leadership, especially over the past year, which resulted in the tremendous growth of our department. I look forward to continuing to have you as a partner and a colleague for years to come.”
Adds Bates: “Since Primary joined with ICM 12 months ago, the support and vision I have seen from Chris Silbermann has been exceptional, which is reflected in the department’s growth and expansion. The foundation Rob Prinz built in the concert division has left ICM in a formidable position from which to navigate the exciting new world of live music, which is about to open up globally.
“I am looking forward to working alongside Mark Siegel and Rob Gibbs in their new roles and our incredible team of agents, who will lead ICM to the forefront of the live music business.”