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Runway Artists: ‘Popular culture isn’t shaped by ageing white men’

Runway Artists founder Matt Hanner has told IQ about the agency’s strategy to invest in the next generation of agents.

Hanner (formerly of ATC Live, Coda) launched the London-based independent booking agency in the spring of 2020, against the backdrop of a global pandemic.

Notably, the agency’s first hires included emerging executives Amg Greig and Dotun Bolaji (now at Primary Talent), with Greig set to move from a freelance role to a full-time position in June.

Indeed, Hanner says recruiting and training young and diverse agents is baked into the firm’s game plan.

“I want to build a talented team that represents the artists we work with and society as a whole,” he tells IQ.

“Younger, digital native agents will definitely have the upper hand when it comes to identifying and nurturing new artists”

“Popular culture is not shaped by aging white men and as something of an underdog in the agency landscape I want to give Runway a fighting chance when we’re up against the competition – if artists can look across the table and see a company that reflects and understands them then hopefully they’ll give us a shot.”

In fact, Hanner believes that having young agents on the team is an advantage when it comes to scouting talent.

“Someone in their early 20s has only ever consumed music in an ecosystem in which DSPs are a major player; the associated shift in consumption habits has massively altered how people approach genre and that feeds into talent development and discovery,” he explains.

“Personally when looking at new artists I feel I can’t stray too far from my ‘lane’ as I don’t know the tastemakers outside certain genres but streaming has moved the goalposts completely and younger, digital native agents will definitely have the upper hand when it comes to identifying and nurturing new artists.”

The younger generation of Runway recently expanded with Louise McGovern (an agent who has previously worked for Midnight Mango and DHP) and intern Emer Marcus, who joined Heather MosselsonSteve Backman, Zac Peters, Craig Wylie, Georgia Chrysanthopoulos and Karen Murray.

“The shift in age and gender balance of the company should bring a new dynamic”

But Runway’s commitment to diversity isn’t just reflected in its team. Having partnered with gender-equality initiative Keychange, the agency has pledged to maintain a minimum of 50% female-led or majority-female artists across the agency’s roster.

“Additionally, we are looking to address the racial imbalance across the artists we represent,” reads a mission statement on the agency’s website.

McGovern – who represents KEG, Alien Chicks, Spyres, Toby Sebastian, Jaws The Shark, Cable Street Collective, Dutch Criminal Record, Jade Helliwell and Kima Otung – says Runway’s DEI strategy is partly what attracted her to the company.

“They invest a lot into grassroots artists and venues and have a people-first approach, and equality, diversity and inclusion are important concepts to me, so I was thrilled to see them sign up to the Keychange pact,” she says. “In terms of their roster, they have a diverse range of artists, and I could see my roster and my future roster fitting in well there.”

Meanwhile, Marcus has been interning at Runway for nine months now and says her experience at the agency has been “crucial” in an industry that can be “daunting for young people to enter”.

“Talent and aptitude for the role are more important than experience, so assuming we’re getting that bit right once the doors are open we want to see people running through them,” says Hanner.

As an independent agency, Hanner believes Runway can give less experienced executives broader exposure to agency work and progress them quicker into an agent role.

“I think, in general, agencies have been hiring as young and cheap as they can for years with very different motivations,” he says. “You could argue it would be more financially prudent and less work to bring in experienced staff and those with a proven roster but one of the advantages to being an independent company is that we can be idealistic and take a gamble because we believe it’s the right thing to do.

“The shift in age and gender balance of the company should bring a new dynamic and I am hoping we empower our newly expanded team to drive Runway forward in an exciting direction,” Hanner says.

 


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Primary Talent welcomes agent Dotun Bolaji

Primary Talent International has hired agent Dotun Bolaji, who will be based out of the company’s London offices.

Bolaji joins the agency from Runway Artists and brings a roster that includes Agajon (DJ), B-ahwe, Jay Prince, Jords, Karl Benjamin, and Planet Giza.

He has been part of the Watford-based live music showcase Superlative and has a background in club promoting, staging nights with the likes of Giggs, DJ EZ, Section Boyz and AJ Tracey.

The young agent was on ILMC’s Futures Forum 2022 committee, which champions the next generation of live music industry leaders.

“I’m pleased and excited to have Dotun join our team here at Primary as we continue to expand our roster of agents and clients,” says Matt Bates, managing Partner and CEO of Primary Talent International.

“As fans embrace diverse sounds, I’m dedicated to amplifying [music of Black origin]”

“He has extensive knowledge of what’s going on in the UK market and shares our enthusiasm for the future of the live experience.”

Bolaji adds: “I’m thrilled to join the team at Primary Talent, with note to their stellar reputation. In this digital age, music of Black origin and Black artists who make music beyond conventional expectations are reaching unprecedented heights.

“As fans embrace diverse sounds, I’m dedicated to amplifying these voices, bringing new and creative experiences to broader audiences. The future of live music is bright.”

Primary Talent International is a leading independent international live music booking agency, boasting a roaster of nearly 460 clients.

Clients include The 1975, The Cure, Noel Gallagher, Jack Harlow, alt-J, Dropkick Murphys, Patti Smith, Imanbek, Mitski, Rina Sawayama, The Streets, Two Door Cinema Club, Wolf Alice, and Ziggy Marley.

 


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LGBTIQ+ List 2023: Amy Greig, Runway Artists

The LGBTIQ+ List 2023 – IQ Magazine’s third annual celebration of queer professionals who make an immense impact in the international live music business – has been revealed.

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

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

Throughout the next month, IQ will publish a new interview each day. Check out yesterday’s profile with Johanna Beckman, senior creative curator & promotor at FKP Scorpio Sweden.

The series continues with Amy Greig (she/her), booking agent at Runway Artists in the UK.

Amy Greig is a booking agent and new-music scout at Runway Artists whose roster includes acts such as ROE, Legss, Babymorocco, and LibraLibra. She’s been at Runway for almost two years, working alongside Matt Hanner and Steve Backman.


Tell us about the professional feat you’re most PROUD of in 2023 so far.
That’s tough! In terms of things that have been announced at this point, I would say Babymorocco’s upcoming Space 289 headline is a big one. A lot of hard work from the whole team has gone into getting to this stage, and the show itself has a lot of surprises in store; he’s going to kill it.

Name one queer act you’re itching to see live this year.
It’s got to be Ethel Cain.

What advice could you give to young queer professionals?
I’m not sure I’m qualified to answer this one just yet; ask me again after my next birthday!

“Being at six of those shows a week… I think that outweighs any potential inexperience from a young person really”

Name one thing you’d like to see the live music business change.
The idea that live music professionals should stay in their genre lane. Nobody is really listening to music that way anymore. Why are we working that way?

Name one thing the industry could do to be a more equitable place.
Give more opportunities to young professionals. I’m 20 but also a student. I think that’s an asset, having an understanding of what shows my peers are going to, but also being at six of those shows a week. I think that outweighs any potential inexperience from a young person really. I’m really fortunate to have been shown the ropes by our office; we need more people like Matt and Steve who are willing to help young agents learn.

Shout out to your biggest ally in the live music industry.
Matt and Steve from our office. The best guys I know!

 


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LGBTIQ+ List 2023: Meet this year’s queer pioneers

IQ Magazine has revealed the LGBTIQ+ List 2023 – the third annual celebration of queer professionals who make an immense impact in the international live music business.

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

The 20 individuals comprising the LGBTIQ+ List 2023 – as nominated by our readers and verified by our esteemed steering committee – are individuals that have gone above and beyond to wave the flag for an industry that we can all be proud of.

The third instalment comprises agents, promoters, tour managers, marketing executives, consultants, founders and more – all of whom identify as LGBTIQ+ and, in the face of adversity, have made enormous contributions to their respective sectors.

In alphabetical order, the LGBTIQ+ List 2023 is:

Christina Austin, music agent, United Talent Agency (UK)
Hila Aviran, director of entertainment & tours, PixMob (US)
Johanna Beckman, senior creative curator and promoter, FKP Scorpio Sweden (SE)
Amy Greig, booking agent, Runway Artists (UK)
Adem Holness, head of contemporary music, Southbank Centre (UK)
Kane Kete, client development manager, Ticketmaster (AU)
Ippei Kimura, booking/marketing/tour manager, Creativeman Productions (JP)
Katherine Koranteng, marketing & campaigns manager, Festival Republic (UK)
Stefan Lehmkuhl, freelance curator & live entertainment consultant, BMG/Ruined My Rainbow (DE)
Lucy Mackenzie McNae, tour manager (Josef, Twin Atlantic), Two and a Half TMs (UK)
Saskhia Menendez, innovator at Keychange, board of directors at F-List Music (UK)
Dev Mistry, global internal comms manager, DICE (UK)
Frederik Diness Ove, founder, Queer Music Agency (DK)
Boyan Pinter (Boiadjiev), founder/director, SPIKE Bulgarian Music Showcase (BG)
Scott Robson, event manager, ASM Global (UK)
Roman Samotný, director, Queer Slovakia (SK)
Marie-Christine Scheffold, senior booking agent manager, Selective Artists (DE)
Karim Siddiqui, senior booking manager, Live Nation (US)
Areti Tziorta, marketing manager, TEG Europe (UK)
João Pedro Viana, music agent, WME (UK)

Throughout the next month, IQ will be publishing full-length interviews with each person on the LGBTIQ+ List 2023.

Subscribers can read the full Pride edition now. Click here to subscribe to IQ from less than £8 a month – or see what you’re missing out on with the limited preview below.

Check out 2022’s cohort of queer pioneers here, and 2021’s cohort here.

Runway Artists hires agent Zac Peters

Independent booking agency Runway Artists has hired experienced booking agent Zac Peters.

Peters served roles at HMV, Somerset Music Hub, Bristol Music Foundation and Glastonbury before moving into the agency world in 2010, when he joined Midnight Mango Productions. Initially agent for The Beat, he went on to represent acts including The Boxettes, Smoke Feathers, The Selecter, Neville Staple, Black Roots, Talisman, Freak Power, Kitten & The Hip and Martha Tilston, among others.

In 2014, Peters moved to DMF Music, where he worked with the likes of Dodgy, Dreadzone, Emily Capell, King Kong Company, Moon Hooch, Peat & Diesel, Sound of the Sirens, Sean McGowan, They Might Be Giants and The Selecter. He has also been a PRS Funding Advisor since 2016

“We’re really excited to have Zac join Runway and were thrilled that he was open to a conversation with us, having been so well regarded during his time at DMF,” says Runway founder Matt Hanner. “He’s got a broad base of experience, working with artists old and new, which is really important for us, both in terms of our roster but also for the junior members of our team to have another person on-board who they can learn from.

“We’re determined to champion an equitable work-life balance that our industry so often doesn’t allow”

“Beyond that, Zac’s a family man and, as a company that has been built around individuals with their own family commitments, we’re determined to champion an equitable work-life balance that our industry so often doesn’t allow.”

Former ATC Live agent Hanner formed Runway in 2020 during the upheaval of the Covid-19 pandemic, and was soon joined by live veteran Steve Backman as director and co-owner following the latter’s 19-year stint at Primary Talent International.

“I am genuinely excited to be joining Runway, and to be working along with the team already there,” says Peters. “Steve and Matt are really good peers that I already looked up to, and it’s brilliant that the company publicly states how important a work-life balance is. I cannot wait to get started on my own roster and getting to know everyone better.”

Runway represents acts including Public Image Ltd, A Certain Ratio, Sleeper, Beatenberg, Jords, Personal Trainer, Silver Moth and Jay Prince.

 


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Runway Artists announces four hires, new showcase

Independent UK booking agency Runway Artists is expanding its team with four new hires and launching a new live showcase event for the music industry.

Joining founder Matt Hanner (formerly of ATC Live) and agent Steve Backman (formerly of Primary Talent) at the agency are agents Dotun Bolaji and Craig Wylie, new music A&R scout Amy Greig, and assistant Heather Mosselson.

Wylie previously held positions at promoters CPL and MAMA Group, as well as London’s Roundhouse venue.

Over the course of his career, he has promoted artists including Pete Doherty, Maroon 5, Ray Lamontagne, Fall Out Boy, Madeleine Peyroux, Roxy Music and Kris Kristofferson.

Prior to joining Runway, Wylie was operating as an independent, at a grassroots level, since 2018.

“As a new agency, it’s been really exciting for us to have the opportunity to put some of our key principles into practice”

Greig has worked as a promoter for a number of London’s famous grassroots venues including The Grace and The Camden Assembly, as well as promoting her own nights at The Amersham Arms and The George Tavern.

During his time at university, Bolaji booked and promoted a number of acts that would go on to become big names, including Giggs, Chip, AJ Tracey and DJ EZ. After leaving university, he promoted London’s SuperLative Sessions.

Mosselson began her career as assistant booker for Glastonbury, where she organised the festival’s very first hip hop day in 1999.

She went on to become a senior assistant at VAT Agency before moving to Primary Talent International, where she worked as director’s assistant.

During her time at Primary, Mosselson was the booking agent for DJ Noize, MC Supernatural, Foreign Beggars, Mystro, Braintax, Skinnyman and DJ Flip.

“We’ve been able to bring in a real range of experience, knowledge and ages”

Commenting on the new appointments, Hanner says: “As a new agency, it’s been really exciting for us to have the opportunity to put some of our key principles into practice – not just in respect of our artists but also our team.

“We’ve been able to bring in a real range of experience, knowledge and ages – from a rookie agent such as Dotun, who we’ve been able to bring in as he makes his first moves in representing talent, and Amy who has worked at a grassroots level across London; through to the varied industry backgrounds of both Craig and Heather who are able to bring so much to the table as we continue to grow.”

Runway will also launch a new live showcase this month, which will see the agency collaborate with other music companies to put together line-ups of new talent.

The first edition of In Transit, at London’s Strongroom on 23 February, has been curated in partnership with independent publisher Bucks Music Group.

Beharie, Amaroun, Hallan and Catty are slated to perform at the showcase, and Steve Lamacq is billed to deliver a DJ set.

“We know we’re not reinventing the wheel by launching a showcase event, but there’s always demand from our artists”

Hanner said: “We know we’re not reinventing the wheel by launching a showcase event, but there’s always demand from our artists to play low-pressures shows, be it to test out new material, invite curious industry or just shake off the cobwebs after a couple of years of inactivity. As an agency, Runway wants to be proactive in helping our artists practically, even if it doesn’t fall into an agent’s traditional wheelhouse.

“It also gives us the opportunity to further collaborate with our friends in the industry. For the first edition, that’s Bucks but we’re looking to develop the brand in a way that means we could even accommodate artists from other agencies in the future if it made sense. At times over the last couple of years, there has been a renewed sense of co-operation across the live industry and we certainly don’t want to lose that just because touring’s back on the agenda.”

London-based Runway was one of the rafts of new agencies to launch during the Covid-19 pandemic.

It represents a number of acts including Lanterns On The Lake, A Certain Ratio, Sleeper, Art School Girlfriend, Pom Poko, Mourning [A] BLKstar, Astrid, Brother Zulu and Flo Perlin.

 


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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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