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IQ Focus: The Top 10 sessions so far

Since launching IQ Focus, a weekly series of livestreamed panels that debuted in May, we’ve been inviting heavyweights from the international live music business to discuss issues ranging from the trials and tribulations of a pandemic to the systemic racism brought to light by Blackout Tuesday, and everything in between.

But it hasn’t all been doom and gloom. The Innovation Session, for example, heard panellists discuss the flurry of innovation, fledgeling business models, and new ideas that have come out of the coronavirus crisis. Staying Safe & Sane During Covid presented expert opinions on how to protect the mental health and wellbeing of music professionals and artists. What all these sessions have had in common is a sense of optimism, opportunity and determination, as our industry forges ahead into the unknown.

This week we’re taking some time off from IQ Focus, but in the meantime, please enjoy our top ten sessions from the past couple of months and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel to receive notifications about future IQ Focus sessions.


1. Festival Forum: Here Comes ’21

Hosted by ILMC head Greg Parmley, a panel comprising Europe’s festival elite discuss the collapse of this year’s festival season, as well as predictions for the next. Jim King (AEG Presents), Stephan Thanscheidt (FKP Scorpio), Rachael Greenfield (Bloodstock Open Air), Anders Wahren (Roskilde Festival) and Mathieu Jaton (Montreux Jazz Festival) update us on how they’re coping in unprecedented circumstances; what lessons have been learned, which challenges have been faced and crucially, what the road to recovery looks like.


2. The Agency Business: 3.0

The Covid-19 crisis has presented significant challenges for both multinational agencies and boutique outfits. From juggling investors to dealing with a hiatus from touring, agencies are being forced to reflect on how their companies are structured and seek new opportunities and creative solutions. ILMC head and session chair Greg Parmley asks an all-star panel, what comes next? Guest speakers include Angus Baskerville, (13 Artists) Jules de Lattre (United Talent Agency), Maria May (Creative Artists Agency) and Tom Schroeder (Paradigm Talent Agency).


3. The Venue’s Venue: Building Back

For IQ‘s third focus session, John Langford, COO of AEG Europe, invites leading venue professionals to discuss strategies for weathering the storm, what the key learnings have been so far, and what emerging from life under lockdown might look like. Guest speakers include Lucy Noble (Royal Albert Hall / National Arena Association – UK), Olivier Toth (Rockhal / European Arena Association – Luxembourg), Oliver Hoppe (Wizard Promotions – Germany), Tom Lynch (ASM Global – UK), Lotta Nibell (GOT Event – Sweden).


4. The Innovation Session

While the catastrophic impact of Covid-19 continues to resonate throughout live music, the halt in normal business is seeing a flurry of innovation, fledgeling business models, and new ideas. From an explosion in livestreaming to virtual performances and meet & greets, 3D venues, gaming and tipping, what green shoots are rising from this current situation? Mike Malak, senior agent at Paradigm Talent Agency chairs our fourth IQ Focus session and invites a line-up of free-thinkers and ground-breakers.


5. The State of Independence: Promoters

Across the touring world, independent promoters face similar challenges when looking ahead to business post-Covid-19. While this current period presents many unique challenges for this creative and entrepreneurial sector, it’s one of many pressures they face. So what’s the state of play in Europe, South America and India? And what alternative show formats, and business models are independent promoters adopting to stay ahead? CAA’s Emma Banks hosts the session to ask, as the industry emerges from its current crisis, where the opportunities might lie?


6. Festival Forum: The Next Stage

We’re midway through what would have been this year’s festival season, and it’s a summer like no other. But are we midway through the crisis, or is there still further to go before the festival sector can confidently progress into 2021? With a number of Government support packages in place, and much of this year’s line ups transplanted to next year, how confident are promoters feeling about next year, and are artists and audiences ready to return? IQ editor Gordon Masson hosts this discussion with guest speakers including Cindy Castillo (Mad Cool Festival – ES), John Giddings (Isle of Wight Festival / Solo Agency – UK), Stefan Lehmkuhl (Goodlive – DE), Codruta Vulcu (ARTmania Festival – RO).


7. Grassroots Music Venues in Crisis

One of the hardest-hit areas of the business, grassroots music venues may well also be the first to emerge from the current crisis over the coming weeks and months. Across Europe, the fate of these vital stages on which talent is born and grown, is mixed, with some facing closure. How are our small venues being protected by the organisations and industry around them, and what still needs to be done? And once their doors are open again, how different will gig going be?


8. Beyond Rhetoric: Race in Live Music

Blackout Tuesday brought the industry to a standstill and thrust the topic of diversity in the music business back into view. So just what challenges do black promoters, agents and managers face, and what’s needed to counter systemic racism both within the business, in performance spaces and touring markets? Our next IQ Focus session will ask how changes can be made, and the current momentum can be maintained over the months and years ahead.


9. IQ Focus & The MMF Present: Managing The Crisis

With the bulk of artists dependent on live music revenue and audience connection, the Covid-19 crisis has decimated livelihoods. But what does it mean for their managers – the individuals thrown into salvaging campaigns, rescheduling tours, interpreting contractual changes and navigating the most uncertain of futures? How are their own businesses faring? And what do they see as the challenges – and hopefully opportunities – ahead for the live sector, in what we are all optimistically calling the “new normal”.


10. Staying Safe & Sane During Covid

Staying Safe & Sane During Covid considered how to best protect the mental health and wellbeing of music professionals and artists alike who are juggling disruption to working conditions, employment & financial concerns, a difficult global outlook and more. Chaired by Stacey Pragnell at ATC Live, the conversation featured Lollapalooza Berlin promoter Stefan Lehmkuhl (Goodlive), MITC founder Tamsin Embleton, tour manager Andy Franks (Music Support) and the CEO of mental health and wellbeing festival Getahead, Jenni Cochrane.


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First IQ Focus session tackles staying healthy in a pandemic

Live industry professionals shared tips on how to cope with job insecurity, home working and a lack of social interaction in the first of the weekly IQ Focus virtual panel series, which centred on maintaining mental health and wellbeing during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Chaired by Stacey Pragnell from ATC Live, Staying Safe & Sane During Covid, which was streamed live on Facebook and YouTube, and is available to watch back now, featured Lollapalooza Berlin promoter Stefan Lehmkuhl (Goodlive), the Music Industry Therapists and Coaches founder Tamsin Embleton (Embleton Psychotherapy), tour manager Andy Franks (Music Support) and Jenni Cochrane, CEO of Getahead and organiser of the new Getahead Virtual Festivals.

As the coronavirus shutdown brings business to a standstill, provokes job uncertainty and puts the brakes on social contact, Pragnell asked panellists what live music professionals need to do to protect their mental health and wellbeing.

“We all need to accept that things are currently out of control,” said Embleton, “This is hard for people who are used to pulling off massive tours and festivals, but we need to adapt and be flexible.”

Lehmkuhl spoke of the importance of establishing a daily routine while working from home and in developing new habits such as regular meditation and exercise, which will also help maintain wellbeing once the Covid-19 crisis has passed.

“There’s a good chance that, if there are festivals, events and parties next year, then it’s going to be a very big year,” said Lehmkuhl. “So this is a chance to plan for this and create new habits.”

Pragnell noted that many people feel anxious about working from home and asked how to tackle this.

“My fear is that when we start to ease back into things there is going to be so much work to do … We need to pace ourselves”

Franks stressed the importance of delineating between work and rest. “It’s rare you will find a boss or employer that will suggest you take time off, so you need to know when to stop and have a rest.”

The panellists also recommended the use of industry specific support services, with Hub of Hope, Passenger Recovery, Backline, Music Support, Help Musicians’ Music Minds Matter, the UK Musicians’ Union, Live Nation’s Crew Nation and Bapam among the services mentioned.

“When you talk to someone that’s involved in our industry, it makes a hell of a lot of difference,” said Franks.

As an employer, Lehmkuhl said it is important to lead by example and be open about any difficulties you may encounter in order to break down boundaries and encourage employees to do the same.

Talk turned to how to harness any positive changes brought about by the current crisis. “I hope this has taught us all how to slow down and relax,” said Embleton. “My fear is that when we start to ease back into things there is going to be so much work to do and it’s going to be a real rush. We need to pace ourselves.”

The next IQ Focus panel, Festival Forum: Here Come 21, is taking place on Thursday 14 May at 4pm BST.

Watch Staying Safe & Sane During Covid back here:

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