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The New Bosses 2021: Anna Parry, The O2

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.

The first 2021 New Bosses interview is with Anna Parry, programming manager at the O2, London.

Born in Calgary, Canada, Parry travelled to Spain to study global entertainment and music business at Berklee College of Music in Valencia. With an independent promoter as a father, she grew up in backstage corridors and tour buses and quickly learned the ropes of the live business as a production runner, tour manager, logistics coordinator, and promoter rep.

Her move to London initially involved an internship at UTA, while also running the events programme for she.grows, the mentorship programme for shesaid.so. Parry joined the programming team at the O2 in 2018 and now works with some of the biggest artists in the world.

What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
There are two: seeing Paul McCartney at the O2. My dad [Jeff Parry of Jeff Parry Productions] became a promoter because of his love for the Beatles and seeing him perform in my place of work was a full-circle moment for me; and I’m currently working on a project with Prince’s estate to honour his 21-night legacy at The O2. It’s a surreal feeling to be working with one of the most influential teams in the business.

You spent part of the lockdown back in Canada, what challenges did that present in your working day?
Well, the obvious one would be the time difference, but luckily I was in Canada during the months of January and February which was a quiet time for the O2. My team are also extremely supportive and allowed for somewhat flexible working hours. Generally, I think that January and February were a hard time for everyone and it was difficult being so far from my team but I was very fortunate to be able to spend the time with my family.

“What is really going to make a difference [to the live music industry] is diversity in the top positions”

As a new boss, what one thing would you change to make the live music industry a better place?
A more diverse recruitment process. We need to see diversity in every level of organisations, ensuring equal opportunities for people to get their foot in the door and a framework for them to progress. What is really going to make a difference is diversity in the top positions.

Tell us a bit about your work with she.grows/she said.so.
I came across shesaid.so when I was a promoter rep in my hometown of Calgary, and I was working with the only female promoter in the area who told me about the incredible community. She then said her biggest regret was not moving internationally and that’s when I started thinking about the opportunity the industry provided in a global context. It then all came full circle for me when I was able to act as the events manager for the she.grows mentorship programme in London, and was introduced to a plethora of inspiring women.

You’ve travelled thousands of miles to study and find work, what advice would you give to anyone trying to break into the business?
Never give up, and never take no for an answer. The door is never fully closed, you just need to find a new way to open it.

“It is a very exciting time as we get to reinvent a lot of processes”

Where do you see yourself in five years?
I am fortunate to work for a global company in AEG with a stream of creative people where opportunities feel limitless so it is hard to say, but I am very happy at the O2 and feel like we have a lot of catching up to do after the past 18 months!

What’s the biggest challenge for you and the O2 team now that the business is emerging from lockdown restrictions?
Re-engaging the workforce. As a company we have gone through a lot of changes and have a lot of new processes in place. Re-entrance anxiety is a real issue, and as it stands, 2022 is projected to be our busiest year ever at the O2 and we need to ensure that, after over 500 days of no events, people will be well equipped and feel comfortable getting back at it.

With that said it is also a very exciting time as we get to reinvent a lot of processes and I think we have all learned a lot during lockdown and have an even further appreciation for what we do and why we do it.


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The New Bosses: Class of 2021 revealed

The latest edition of IQ‘s New Bosses goes live today, celebrating the brightest talent aged 30 and under in the international live music business.

The New Bosses 2021 honours 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.

Our distinguished dozen this year 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:

As in previous years, full interviews with each of the 2021 New Bosses will appear online in the coming days and weeks. However, subscribers can read short individual profiles of each New Boss now 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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“Just incredible”: Inside the O2’s emotional first shows back

The team behind Gorillaz’ two shows at London’s O2 Arena earlier this week have spoken of their joy in being involved in the UK’s first full-capacity arena concerts in 17 long months.

The Damon Albarn-led virtual band made their return to the O2, the world’s busiest music venue, on 10–11 August, playing a free show for National Health Service (NHS) workers on Tuesday and then a sold-out ticketed event for the general public the following night. Stuart Galbraith, CEO of the shows’ promoter, Kilimanjaro Live – who says he last saw a concert in May 2020 – tells IQ of his excitement at seeing “17,000 people all in one place, having world-class entertainment and just having fun. And [the first night] in particular, it’s brilliant that we could say ‘thank you’ in this way and give these heroes a night of free entertainment.”

Featuring special guests including Shaun Ryder, Little Simz, Leee John, Robert Smith and New Order’s Peter Hook, the shows marked both the return of full-capacity arena entertainment to the UK and Gorillaz to the stage, the O2 dates being the band’s first live performances since October 2018.

“The atmosphere was… I really can’t describe it. It was just incredible,” says Emma Bownes, vice-president of venue programming for the O2’s operator, AEG Europe, for whom the Gorillaz’ shows marked the first arena concerts at the venue since Halsey played on 8 March 2020.

“We’d been talking internally about how great it would be if we could have a really special first show back,” she continues, recalling the genesis of the free gig for healthcare staff, “and then Stuart from Kili got in touch, as he’d been talking to Ian [Huffam at X-ray Touring, Gorillaz’ agent] and also the band about this NHS show, so that was really fortuitous. He said, ‘We want to do this’, and we told him on the venue side we were also trying to think about how amazing it would be to have a special first show back, so it worked really well.”

“It’s brilliant we could say ‘thank you’ and give these heroes a night of free entertainment”

Bownes explains that the venue used a now-familiar system of Covid-status certification to keep concertgoers safe, with entry restricted to those who could prove they are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, have natural antibodies against the disease, or had returned a negative lateral-flow test in the previous 36 hours. Due to a combination of effective communications ahead of the event, she says, and growing awareness among fans of the need to keep shows provable free of coronavirus as they return, a huge 95% of the 17,000 people who attended the second Gorillaz show had their NHS (National Health Service) Covid Pass ready at the gates – despite it being, in many cases, the first live event they had attended in nearly two years.

“What we spent a lot of time doing in the run-up to the show was trying to make sure that everybody knew what to expect before they arrived,” Bownes says. “For the ticketed show, only 5% of people weren’t quite set up, so the comms worked. Even among those 5%, she adds, “none of them required a test – some, for example, had already taken the it but they hadn’t uploaded the result to the NHS yet – and none of them were turned away.”

Helping with the speedy ingress was the fact that people turned up earlier than for a ‘normal’ gig, continues Bownes. “Because we did all these comms in advance, it wasn’t like it normally is, where you get a massive rush 45 minutes before the band goes on,” she says. “People turned up in good time and had factored into their journeys that we needed plenty of time to check their Covid Passes.”

Covid-status certification like that used at the Gorillaz shows is a “good thing to educate the audience on”, particularly as it could become mandatory for live events in the UK later this year, Galbraith says. “I think it’s a good thing to do it now and get people used to it,” he comments. “In the way that you’re going to use exactly the same system for travel, I think it will become the norm for many things in society for the next few months, and possibly a couple of years. And I don’t think it’s that big of an imposition to be able to just prove to your fellow customers that you’re safe – and that therefore enables us to say to the customers, ‘Come to the show with certainty that everyone around you is virus-free. That also adds to that overall customer confidence, which in itself will add to our ticket sales.”

“I think the vast majority of people are quite happy to do it and show that responsibility to their fellow members of the public,” he continues. “And we’re running similar protocols backstage as well: The ability to get a pass to work in the backstage area is contingent on providing your Covid certification in exactly the way that getting a ticket is in the front of house.”

“I will never take it for granted, being at a gig, again. Everybody says it, but I genuinely mean it”

With a busy diary of upcoming shows – Galbraith notes that ticket sales are picking up across the board, particularly among rock acts and those popular with younger audiences, with acts as diverse as Sabaton, Andrea Bocelli and film composer Hans Zimmer selling particularly well – the Kilimanjaro Live chief says he’s looking forward to getting back to doing what he loves after nearly 18 months of “politicking and lobbying” with LIVE (Live music Industry Venues and Entertainment) to help the UK business survive the coronavirus crisis. And while he’s under no illusion that the industry body will have plenty to deal with over the next few years, particularly the challenges posed by Brexit and the environmental impact of touring, “it’s going to be brilliant to get back to what we should have been doing”, he says.

“It’s been such a weird time because we’ve just been rescheduling constantly. We’ve rescheduled over 200 gigs, and we’ve had to cancel 55, and whereas normally we’d be doing all this work and have all these gigs – actually have something to show for it – the past 18 months have just been reschedule, reschedule, reschedule countless times,” adds Bownes. “So to have the show actually happen was amazing.”

“The bit that did it for me,” she continues, “was walking around the back of the stage to go and see Stuart and Ian. The O2 probably does 200 gigs a year so it was something that you used to do so often, but it was like you’d forgotten that you used to do it – just walking behind the stage on the way to see the promoter and the agent, and hearing the crowd… It was amazing. It was just great.

“I will never take it for granted, being at a gig, again. Everybody says it, but I genuinely mean it. You know what the industry is like: People don’t always go to gigs, or they’ll maybe see a few songs and go home, but I do feel like that will change.”

Another free show for NHS workers headlined by Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher will take place at the O2 next Tuesday (17 August).


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Ariana Grande to headline Fortnite’s Rift Tour

Ariana Grande will be the next artist to perform an in-game concert for the hugely popular multiplayer video game, Fortnite.

The Grammy award-winning artist is set to headline the forthcoming Rift Tour, a virtual ‘musical experience’ that will take place within the online game.

The Rift Tour comprises five shows in early August: Friday 6 August at 18:00 ET, Saturday 7 August at 14:00 ET and Sunday 6 August at 00:00 ET, 10:00 ET and 18:00 ET.

“Working with Epic and the Fortnite team to bring my music to life inside the game has been so fun and such an honour,” says Grande. “I can’t wait to join my fans and see all of your reactions to such an unforgettable, magical journey to new realities.”

“Fortnite is a place for the imagination and the impossible”

Fortnite is a place for the imagination and the impossible. With the Rift Tour, we’re bringing a musical journey to life that players can experience, feel, and join alongside their friends,” says Phil Rampulla, head of brand for Fortnite developer Epic Games.

“We’re so grateful to have an iconic superstar like Ariana Grande and her team join us for a musical experience at metaverse scale, and for players and fans alike to experience the Rift Tour!”

Republic Records-signed Ariana Grande is the latest artist to perform within Fortnite, after the likes of Marshmello, Travis Scott, Steve Aoki, Deadmau5, Easy Life and J. Balvin.

The singer’s performance follows a virtual show at the in-game O2 in June, which was performed by the UK act Easy Life.

The iconic London venue became the first real-world arena to get its own venue in Fortnite. 

Watch a teaser for Ariana Grande’s appearance on the Rift Tour below.

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The O2 London recreated in Fortnite

The O2 is set to become the first real-world arena to get its own venue in Fortnite, with players now able to explore the iconic London venue ahead of an in-game performance by UK act Easy Life this Thursday.

Created in Fortnite Creative, the Minecraft-like sandbox game within Fortnite proper, the virtual O2 is a faithful recreation from the outside, while inside players can discover “exciting gameplay additions” including hidden rooms, backstage areas and a new take on the O2’s bar, the O2 Blueroom.

Island Records-signed Easy Life’s in-game performance will available to watch from this Thursday (24 June) at 20.30 BST until 23.59 BST on Sunday 27 June. The show will then be posted to Easy Life’s YouTube channel from Monday 28 June.

The O2 in Fortnite Creative

Described as an “interactive music experience” rather than a virtual concert, the show promises an ever-changing virtual world influenced by Easy Life’s music and lyrics. During the event, Fortnite players will be transported to six unique areas, each inspired by a different track from Life’s a Beach, the band’s debut album.

The Leicester five-piece are the first British band to play a show in Fortnite, the hugely popular multiplayer video game, following the likes of Marshmello, Travis Scott, Steve Aoki, Deadmau5 and J. Balvin.

Simon Valcarcel, head of brand and consumer marketing communications for O2, the O2’s naming sponsor, says: “We couldn’t be prouder to work alongside both Island Records and Epic Games to bring such an incredible experience to O2 customers and music fans all over the world via Fortnite Creative.

“We were thrilled when we were approached with the idea to bring the O2 to Fortnite”

“O2 has a rich heritage in music and we’re committed to providing music fans with unique experiences so it’s only fitting that we’re bringing the world’s most popular entertainment venue into the world’s biggest game. We know how much everyone – us included – has missed going to gigs so we’re excited to bring the UK’s hottest up-and-coming band to music fans globally through Fortnite Creative.”

Nate Nanzer, head of global partnerships for Fortnite developer Epic Games, adds: “We were thrilled when we were approached with the idea to bring the O2, one of the most iconic entertainment venues on the planet, to Fortnite Creative. We’re always looking for exciting and authentic experiences to bring to our players, and we can’t wait for them to get hands-on with this interactive musical journey.

“We’re excited to have the UK’s break-out band, Easy Life, perform in the game and we think our players are really going to love exploring all that the O2 has to offer in Fortnite Creative over the next week.”


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Burna Boy to open the O2’s Welcome Back Shows series

Afrofusion star Burna Boy will kick off the O2’s Welcome Back Shows series this summer, heralding a return to normality for the London arena.

The Welcome Back Shows series will welcome capacity crowds to the 20,000-cap. arena for the first time since 2020, starting with Burna Boy’s first-ever headline show on 27 August.

The concert, dubbed Twice as Tall, will be the first event in the Welcome Back Shows series which also features Ministry of Sound Classical on 13 November and UK comedian Mo Gilligan + Friends with ‘The Black British Takeover’ on 8 December, as previously reported on IQ.

“We’re ecstatic that the series will kick off the arena returning to full capacity this August with global superstar Burna Boy”

“We’re ecstatic that the Welcome Back Shows will kick off the arena returning to full capacity this August with global superstar Burna Boy,” says Anna Parry, programming manager at the O2. “He’s been a trailblazer in the music industry and we can’t wait to hear him fill the arena with his feel-good hits, providing a much-needed antidote to this past year.”

Gareth Griffiths, head of sponsorship at O2 added: “What a way to kickstart the Welcome Back Shows in August, we’re delighted to welcome Burna Boy back to The O2 with his Twice As Tall show. Getting the arena open again and full of fans is so important, there are brighter times coming and we can’t wait.”

Burna Boy first graced the stage of the O2 arena alongside Stormzy at the Brit Awards in 2020. This year’s awards were also hosted at the O2, marking the UK’s largest indoor pilot event.


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The O2 to reopen at full capacity

An earlier version of this story said erroneously that the O2 will reopen in December. While the Mo Gilligan event is the first to be announced, The Welcome Back Shows actually commence in August.


On the back of hosting the Brit Awards 2021, the UK’s largest indoor pilot event, last week, the O2 in London has announced plans to reopen at full capacity with a series of ‘welcome back’ events beginning this summer.

The Welcome Back Shows series will welcome capacity crowds to the 20,000-cap. arena for the first time since 2020, with a show on 8 December, featuring comedian Mo Gilligan headlining the Black British Takeover, an event celebrating black British culture, the first event announced.

Emma Bownes, VP of programming for the venue’s owner-operator, AEG Europe, says: “The Welcome Back Shows mark a really exciting moment for the O2 and for our fans, as we get ready to welcome full-capacity crowds back to the venue after such a long period. We’re planning a stunning string of events that will bring the best in comedy, dance, afrobeat, rock and pop to London and give fans what they’ve been waiting for.

“We’re delighted to be launching our return season with the very best of British comedy and know that hearing the O2 Arena roar with 20,000 laughs is the tonic we all need.”

“We’re delighted to be launching our return season with the very best of British comedy”

“I’m really proud of the black British comedy circuit that I started on. The talent on this scene is exceptional, but all too often ignored by mainstream media, so what better place to showcase the culture than the most famous venue in the country?” comments Gilligan. “We’re ready to bring the Great British public a show like you’ve never seen before.”

The O2 itself was converted into a National Health Service training facility at the start of the pandemic and before the Brits had been used for closed, livestreamed events such as the ATP Tennis Finals and Pete Tong’s Ibiza Classics.

“We’re ready to welcome full capacity crowds back to the O2 again, and The Welcome Back Shows are going to bring so much joy to fans who have been missing us almost as much as we’ve been missing them,” says the arena’s GM, Steve Sayer. We have created a truly spectacular programme of events to reopen the venue, and 2022 looks set to be our year busiest ever.”

Further acts performing as part of The Welcome Back Shows will be announced in the coming weeks.


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The O2 London to install wind turbines

The O2 in London will reduce its carbon emissions by installing ten wind turbines on site in Greenwich.

The turbines, produced by UK engineering company Alpha 311, will produce up to 87,600 kWh a year – equivalent to the electricity used by 23 British homes, according to the arena. While a small part of the 20,000-capacity O2’s overall energy needs, it is hoped the trial lead could to similar partnerships with other AEG venues, says Lee Lacey, the O2’s facility director.

“We are so incredibly excited to be collaborating with the team at Alpha 311 and be the first venue in the world to install their commercial wind turbines,” Lacey says. “We have been searching for a suitable wind-generated power source to help reduce our GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions and assist in our ambition to achieve a carbon net-zero venue.

“We have been searching for a suitable wind-generated power source to help reduce our GHG emissions”

“The opportunity to provide a local on-site source of power generation is huge, and we hope this trial provides the launch pad of many more installations, not only at the O2 and other AEG venues, but across the Greenwich Peninsula and throughout the UK.”

According to Alpha 311, its turbines are both smaller and cheaper to install than traditional windmills, and can be easily retrofitted to existing infrastructure. The recyclable turbines also generate energy without natural wind, particularly when placed next to a road or railway.

“We’re so pleased that the O2 is the first to sign up with us globally,” says Alpha 311 CEO Barry Thompson. “The Alpha 311 turbine was born in Britain with international aspirations, so it’s fitting that we’re working with the world’s most popular music, entertainment and leisure venue. It’s not just a London landmark – it’s a global icon – and we couldn’t be more proud, or thankful, for the O2’s belief in us.”


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Pete Tong to play London’s O2 arena this December

Pete Tong, along with The Heritage Orchestra and its founder Jules Buckley, will bring live music back to London’s O2 for the first time since the advent of the pandemic in March.

The BBC Radio 1 DJ and co will perform Ibiza classics without an audience, taking full advantage of the floor space afforded by the 21,000-capacity venue.

Fans will be able to watch ‘O Come, All Ye Ravers’ on 19 December via LIVENow and tickets will be free for O2 customers and upwards of £10 for others.

Pete Tong presents Ibiza Classics with The Heritage Orchestra and Jules Buckley was held at the O2 for the first time in December 2016 and has returned to sell-out crowds each year since. The live event will return to the O2 with a live audience on 4 and 5 December 2021.

“We’re going to perform from the floor of the O2 arena and broadcast it right into your homes”

“We are very excited that Pete Tong, The Heritage Orchestra and Jules Buckley are returning to the O2 with their Ibiza Classics show for a fifth consecutive year – no pandemic will get in the way of this annual tradition,” says Christian D’Acuna, the O2 programming director.

“It will be the first time the O2 has had any live music performed in the venue since March and despite there being no fans in the venue, it’s great to return to live with one of our favourite shows. We can’t wait to tune in on Saturday 19 December and look forward to the return of fans for next years confirmed Pete Tong Ibiza Classics shows at the O2.”

Pete Tong says: “2020, our whole year has been lost – no tours, no shows, no exceptions! We can’t be together in clubs or concert arenas but we can still put on a show for you. We’re going to perform from the floor of the O2 arena and broadcast it right into your homes. The rave will be back one day but for now, we are going to make the most of what we have!”

Early bird tickets go on general sale at 9 am on 27 November from the O2’s website. O2 customers can get their tickets for free via the Priority app from 9 am tomorrow (26 November) until the afternoon on the day of the event.


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Major award shows will return “rain or shine” in 2021

The Grammy Awards, one of the earliest dates in the annual calendar for music awards, will be happening in January 2021 “come rain or shine, Covid-19 vaccine or not,” say organisers.

The 63rd edition of the US-based awards show is scheduled to take place on 31 January and will be broadcast on CBS at 8 pm ET.

Organisers say things will be “a little different” at next year’s ceremony but have not yet revealed details about the show’s format.

However, Harvey Mason Jnr, the Recording Academy’s interim president/CEO, offered some insight on what to expect at the 2021 show back in June during an interview with Variety.

“We are simultaneously developing three plans for what the show would look like: One is the traditional show with the full crowd, two is a limited crowd, and three is no crowd, and there’s creative around all three of those ideas: how and where we would film it. But none of them involve changing or postponing the date,” said Mason.

“We are simultaneously developing three plans for what the Grammys would look like, but none involving postponing”

Mason also said the Grammys are looking at hosting the awards at the Staples Centre (cap. 20,000) in LA with a limited audience, though it seems “increasing unlikely”. The one thing he guarantees is “a spectacular show” that, no matter what, the show will be executed fully live, with no pre-recorded segments.

Across the pond, organisers of Britain’s annual music awards show, the Brits, have said the event will return next year on 11 May instead of its usual date in February and will be broadcast on ITV.

Organisers say they consulted with the music industry and show partners Mastercard, ITV and AEG, and made the decision based on safety and logistical considerations.

“We believe that this move will give a fairer opportunity to all artists, as well as ensuring a mix of huge domestic and global superstars that annually attend and perform at the show,” the Brits statement reads.

Speaking about the decision to move the date, Geoff Taylor, chief executive at British Phonographic Industry and Brit Awards said: “We want to make sure that the Brits delivers the outstanding production levels, superstar performances and live excitement that make it the biggest night in music.

“We want to make sure that The Brits delivers the outstanding production levels, superstar performances and live excitement”

“We believe that the best way to achieve this in 2021 is to move the show back a few months to May, and we are already at work planning a spectacular event that will remind us how important music has been in getting us all through these difficult times.”

The awards show held its 40th edition before the pandemic hit in February, which took place at the O2 (cap. 21,000) in London, where it has been held every year since 2011.

Major award shows that have taken place during the pandemic include MTV’s VMAs (August, US), the Country Music Awards (September, US), the Mercury Prize (September, UK) and The Billboard Music Awards (October, US) and have not yet revealed details about 2021 ceremonies.

Still to come this year is the American Music Awards, which will air on 22 November in the US at 8 pm ET on ABC and plans to “bring fans together with surprising musical performances and celebrate the artists who make it happen”. Additional details regarding the production of the show will be announced at a later date.

Also, the UK’s Mobo Awards, which has celebrated music of black origin since 1996, is due to return after two years off. Founder Kanya King told Capital Xtra in an exclusive interview that the ceremony would return in an “exciting and dynamic” way before the end of the year. Further details about the ceremony are yet to be revealed.


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