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Raft of appointments across US live industry

Live Nation Urban (LNU) has made Mari Arionne Davies its new VP of booking and talent.

In the new role, Davies will oversee artist bookings for LNU festivals and touring brands and will actively seek out partners to “introduce a new generation of tours, festivals, and activations”.

A founding member of Diversify ICM and a supporter of The Show Must Be Paused campaign, LA-based Davies has a background in social justice. Her remit at LNU will also include identifying avenues to support underserved voices in the business.

“It’s truly a thrill to be joining the dynamic team at Live Nation Urban,” said Davies. “LNU has shown tremendous growth and proven to be the premier source for live urban music. I look forward to working along with the team to further impact the company and the culture and to continue working with the brightest stars of hip hop, R&B and gospel as live events return to stages around the world.”

Most recently an agent at ICM Partners, Davies has worked with artists including Kelly Rowland and contributed to the rise of acts such as A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, Cordae, Kiana Ledé and Jacquees.

“We are beyond excited to bring Mari over to head up our festival booking and touring activities,” added LNU president Shawn Gee. “She is a rising star in the business, and we are fortunate to have her on the Live Nation Urban team”

“Whether it’s artists or our own internal team, Live Nation is always investing in people we believe in”

Live Nation has also promoted Jenifer Smith to head of urban tour marketing & strategy. She will lead the company’s urban tour marketing team, supporting its roster of R&B and hip-hop tours within the concerts division. Smith was a tour marketer at AEG Presents and Goldenvoice for close to a decade, prior to joining Live Nation two years ago.

“Whether it’s artists or our own internal team, Live Nation is always investing in people we believe in,” said Omar Al-joulani, head of talent & touring for Live Nation Concerts.

“Jenifer has been an incredible leader at Live Nation, and we are confident her strategic focus and experience will do big things for every artist working with our Urban marketing team.”

Elsewhere, venue management giant ASM Global has tapped industry veteran John Boyle as global chief content officer. Boyle was previously chief growth officer and interim CFO of Insomniac Events and will lead ASM Global’s presentation and production content pipeline for its venue portfolio.

“With John’s far-reaching experience and the content team we are building, we will provide a greater number and wider array of profitable events to our venues, which comprise the most iconic family of venues in the world,” said ASM Global president and CEO Ron Bension.

In addition, livestreaming firm Dreamstage has hired veteran entertainment marketing executive Jesse Kirshbaum as CMO. Kirshbaum brings previously led Nue Agency and has worked with clients such as Pusha T, J. Cole, Big Sean, Mike Posner, Action Bronson, Wale and Solange.

“I couldn’t be more excited about joining the ‘Dream Team’,” said Kirshbaum. “The company is well-positioned to lead the charge into the future of the music business. The pandemic has changed the live business and consumer and artist habits around it, forever,” said Kirshbaum. “The data shows that when done right, livestreaming has a positive effect on artists relationships with their fans and creates even more demand for live shows.”

 


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Leading music execs launch Black Music Action Coalition

Over 30 top artist managers, agents and other US industry executives have formed a new advocacy group, the Black Music Action Coalition (BMAC), to address systemic racism within the music industry and in society at large.

The coalition was inspired by and formed in alliance with #TheShowMustBePaused initiative, which was started by Atlantic Record’s Jamila Thomas and Platoon’s Brianna Agyeman, and which prompted the Black Out Tuesday initiative.

BMAC is currently run by an executive committee that includes founding members Ashaunna Ayars (founder of the Ayars Agency), Binta Brown (founder and CEO of Fermata Entertainment), Jamil Davis (co-CEO of the Revels Group), Shawn Holiday (co-head of Urban Music at Columbia Records), Courtney Stewart (CEO, Right Hand Music Group) and Prophet (CEO of 50/50 Music Group Management).

The coalition is also guided by an advisory board consisting of industry veterans Clarence Avant, Quincy Jones, Irving Azoff and Ron Sweeney.

In a similar vein to the Black Music Coalition in the UK, which consists of leading Black promoters, managers and label executives, BMAC has sent an open letter to the heads of music companies, setting out a plan for change.

“We created BMAC to address long standing racial inequities in the business, the financial impact of those inequities for both Black artists and executives, and ways we can work with you urgently to solve these problems,” reads the letter.

“We created BMAC to address long standing racial inequities in the business”

“We are encouraged by recent efforts by Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, Sony Music, Apple, YouTube, BMG and other industry participants. However, we know that more needs to be done and we must do it together.”

The coalition states its highest priority is to meet with company CEOs “to mutually develop a plan to address the deeply rooted systemic racism in our industry”.

Another key issue is ensuring the coalition has “a voice in determining how funds designated to fight racism are allocated”, given that “so few companies in the music industry are run by Black people”.

“We must work together to put a plan for change in place with you within the next 30 days. BMAC intends to hold you accountable, and will keep track of the music industry’s efforts to clean up its own house. There is a lot of work for us to do, and we look forward to doing it together.”

Artists including Roddy Ricch, Lil Nas X, Mary J Blige, Lady Gaga, Cardi B, Ariana Grande, Billie Eilish, Pharell Williams, Travis Scott and Post Malone have shown their support for the letter.

The BMAC letter can be read in full here, along with a list of artist signatories and industry partners.

This week’s IQ Focus panel, Beyond Rhetoric: Race in Live Music, will look at the problems of systemic racism within the live business and discuss what needs to be done to make the industry a more diverse place. To set a reminder for the session on Thursday head to the IQ Magazine page on Facebook or YouTube.

Photo: Frank Schwichtenberg/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0) (cropped)

 


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Black music executives set out standards for industry

A collective of Black music executives in the UK has sent a letter to heads of companies including Live Nation, Universal Music Group and Spotify, laying out five “immediate calls to action” to tackle structural and systematic racism within the music industry.

The letter builds on Black Out Tuesday last week, which saw the global music business down tools in solidarity with anti-racism protestors in the US and in order to reflect on what steps need to be taken to address racism in the industry and wider society.



Following on from the demonstration, which was promoted through the hashtag #TheShowMustBePaused, executives from Metropolis Music, the Music Managers Forum (MMF), Ministry of Sound, Sony Music, UMG, Atlantic Records, Warner Music Group, and more, have come together under the #TheShowMustBePausedUK initiative and newly formed Black Music Coalition to call for immediate changes at the UK’s biggest live and recorded music companies.

“The music industry has long been a microcosm for [racial] injustices and they continue to play out within the companies you lead”

Directed to “chairman, CEOs presidents and music industry leaders”, the letter calls on companies to implement mandatory anti-racism/unconscious bias training; commit money each year to Black organisations, educational projects and charities in the UK; implement career development for Black staff to ensure greater representation at senior management level; replace the term “urban music” with “Black music”; and establish a dedicated equality and diversity task force.

“It is a widely shared belief that the music industry has long been a microcosm for these injustices and they continue to play out within the companies you lead, companies which we are a part of,” reads the letter.

“Your public statements of support throughout the recent times were impassioned and we appreciated them, but we now want to drive forward tangible changes, giving power to that show of support.

“We expect that these long overdue steps will be implemented in a comprehensive manner to translate your empathy into a legacy of lasting change and we look forward to working with you to ensure that this happens.”

The letter can be read in full below, along with a list of signatories:

 


Dear Chairmen, CEOs, Presidents and Music Industry Leaders,

The past few weeks and months have been filled with visceral and overwhelming emotions of frustration, grief and sadness following the violent and untimely deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery in America and what the circumstances of their deaths repeated to us about the position of Black people, the value of Black lives and livelihood and of the pervasive stain of racism in our society.

As the Black community mourned, many of us working in this and other industries tried to adopt our usual coping mechanism of suppressing our trauma caused from witnessing the disregard for Black life, but this time was different, we found and find ourselves unable to do so.

For far too long, the global Black community have faced racial injustice, inequality and disenfranchisement across all aspects of society and here in the UK, is no different.

As Black British people, we know of and have seen members of our community overpoliced, brutally treated and die at the hands of institutionally racist police forces and recount for example the deaths of Sarah Reed, Rashan Charles, Mark Duggan, Sean Rigg and many more. Simply put, the UK is not innocent.

Further, we are all facing an unprecedented global pandemic caused by the Coronavirus yet still, it is Black and Brown members of society who are being disproportionately affected e.g. Public Health England COVID19: Review of Disparities in risks and outcomes study shows that Black males in the UK are 4.2 times more likely to die from a Covid- 19 related death than white males. Throughout this public health crisis, racism also continues to rear its head; we witnessed a blatant indifference to Black lives most recently, in the case of Black front-line key worker Belly Mujinga, who was made to work in a public facing position despite her bosses being aware she had underlying health conditions, consequently died from Coronavirus having been assaulted by a white male. The investigation into her case was swiftly closed by the police and only reopened following immense public pressure and a peaceful protest in London.

The music industry has long profited from the rich and varied culture of Black people

These situations illustrate the ways structural and systemic racism creates poor outcomes for Black people and the Black community at large.

The music industry has long profited from the rich and varied culture of Black people for many generations but overall, we feel it has failed to acknowledge the structural and systematic racism affecting the very same Black community and so effectively, enjoying the rhythm and ignoring the blues. We feel that as an industry, we cannot continue to benefit and profit, whilst continuing to ignore the issues of the community we benefit and profit so much from, issues which affect far too many of our artists in one way or another.

In the US, Brianna Agyemang and Jamila Thomas launched #TheShowMustBePaused initiative and their mission was clear – to give us all a moment; a moment to pause, to exhale and find some solace. Here in the UK, the message resonated with many of us Black executives and as a result we launched #TheShowMustBePausedUK, coming together to discuss what permanent change we needed to bring about within our beloved industry.

Coming together and talking about the events outlined herein and our shared experiences, caused us to relive the many instances of injustice, racist comments and marginalisation across our lives including in our experiences within this industry. It is a widely shared belief that the music industry has long been a microcosm for these injustices and they continue to play out within the companies you lead, companies which we are a part of. As a result of the passionate and thought-provoking conversations over the last week; the consensus is clear – the time for change is NOW.

The consensus is clear – the time for change is NOW

As the leaders across the UK industry, who stood in solidarity with us for #BlackOutTuesday, publicly declaring your support and commitment to change, here are our immediate calls to action:

Your public statements of support throughout the recent times were impassioned and we appreciated them, but we now want to drive forward tangible changes, giving power to that show of support.

We expect that these long overdue steps will be implemented in a comprehensive manner to translate your empathy into a legacy of lasting change and we look forward to working with you to ensure that this happens.

Signed,
The Black Music Coalition, The Show Must Be Paused UK, and on behalf of Black executives from Warner Music Group, Sony Music, Universal Music Group, BMG, Live Nation UK, Spotify and MMF.

 


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