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New Bosses name one thing industry must change

Alumni from IQ Magazine‘s most recent class of New Bosses have identified areas of improvement for the international live music business.

A handful of the next-gen leaders shared their thoughts during Meet the New Bosses: The Class of 2021, at last month’s International Live Music Conference (ILMC).

Theo Quiblier, head of concerts at Two Gentlemen in Switzerland, believes the one thing the industry needs to get better at is normalising failure.

“We are in a fantastic industry where everyone is signing the new top artist or selling out venues or sealing huge deals with festivals but that’s just the tip of the iceberg,” he says. “I feel that we’re all a bit afraid of saying, ‘I went on sale with my favourite band and it didn’t go well’ – as simple as that.

“I feel that we’re all a bit afraid of saying, ‘I went on sale with my favourite band and it didn’t go well'”

“As a promoter, I could say, ‘Oh, I work with this top band,’ and people think, ‘That’s amazing, he must be rich,’ and, in reality, it’s your biggest loss of the year. We need little reality checks, and to say ‘I’m doing my best but I’m not the best’. Sharing insecurities is great because failure happens to everybody.”

Flo Noseda-Littler, agency assistant at Wasserman Music (formerly Paradigm UK), called for better pay for junior staff so more people can viably start their careers in the industry.

“Fair salaries for junior staff and internships so that it enables people in those positions to live in the cities in which they work,” comments Noseda-Littler. “By providing a free internship or a low paid job, you’re cutting off so many people who don’t have the ability to still live with their parents or be subsidised by their parents. And then you’re just reducing the number of people you can recruit and missing out on potentially really ambitious and amazing people.”

Anna Parry, partnerships manager at the O2 in London, echoed Noseda-Littler’s thoughts, adding that companies also need to improve their recruitment strategies in order to reach a more diverse pool of talent.

“This is a job that costs you a lot of time at your desk and a lot of time in your head”

“Companies really need to put more effort into understanding why people aren’t applying for these jobs, and then they need to create a lower barrier of entry for those types of people,” says Parry. “It’s not just saying, ‘Oh okay, well we posted the job on a different forum than we usually would’. It’s going to take a lot more of that to actually make a difference. We need to focus on that because it’s important our industry is representative of the artists we represent.”

Age Versluis (promoter at Friendly Fire in the Netherlands) on the other hand, is petitioning for a four-day workweek: “This is a job that costs you a lot of time at your desk and a lot of time in your head. Since Covid, we’re seeing a lot of people burning out and having trouble getting to that fourth or fifth gear.

“We forget that moving shows for two years to the same months is quite stressful. I think we could use some extra ‘me’ time.”

Tessie Lammle, agent at UTA in the US, echoed her peers’ points, adding: “I was going to say diversity or work-life balance but Theo’s point is huge. I think the younger generation is getting much better at [sharing insecurities].”

Each of the panellists appeared as part of IQ Magazine‘s New Bosses 2021, an annual list celebrating the brightest talent aged 30 and under in the international live music business. See the full list of the distinguished dozen here.


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The New Bosses 2021: Theo Quiblier, Two Gentlemen

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 Tessie Lammle, booking agent at UTA in the US here.

Theo Quiblier started like a lot of people in the industry – in a band with classmates – but quickly realised he was better at finding shows than playing them. He began promoting shows at La Parenthèse in his hometown of Nyon, Switzerland, aged just 16, while also working for festivals such as Montreux Jazz and Antigel.

Spending more time booking shows than studying at university in Geneva, Quiblier was approached by Two Gentlemen’s Patrick David, who offered him a job as a junior booker.

Fast-forward a few years and he is the company’s head of concerts and touring and works with a roster that includes The National, Angel Olsen, The War on Drugs, Sharon Van Etten, Squid, Fontaines D.C., Father John Misty, Viagra Boys, as well as powerhouse Swiss supergroup Brandão Faber Hunger. Quiblier also manages Dino Brandão.


You’re a promoter, an agent, and an artist manager – which role is your favourite?
It’s the diversity of roles. Being able to work every day with everyone in the team on so many different topics is thrilling. The more you understand each aspect of the industry, the better you can service your clients and partners.

As you began working in the business as a teenager, do you have a mentor or anyone you turn to for advice?
Patrick David. His experience and knowledge are an inexhaustible source of inspiration to me. If we don’t spend at least one hour on the phone a day debating, it’s probably because one of us is sick. Also, Sébastien Vuignier who has always given me his time. A true legend!

What has been the highlight of your career, so far?
The National at Samsung Hall in Zürich in 2019. When you do this job you secretly dream of promoting your absolute favourite band.

“You learn so much from one single mistake simply because you will not forget it”

What are you most looking forward to as the pandemic restrictions are lifted?
Sweaty gigs in small rooms with people flying all over the place! The band comes on stage and the show hasn’t even started yet you already know the night’s going to be electric. I miss that so badly…

Also finally being able to see live some artists we’ve been working with for more than three years and who still have not been able to come over and perform for the reasons we all know.

What advice would you give to anyone trying to find a job in live music?
Never be afraid to make mistakes. You learn so much from one single mistake simply because you will not forget it. That’s so valuable and entirely part of the process.

The pandemic has been hard on us all – are there any positive aspects that you and Two Gentlemen are taking out of it?
Being able to press pause, sit down together as a company and ask “How are we feeling? How are we doing? How can we improve?”, has been a gift. Also, cooperation with others has never been so good. I can definitely feel a real sense of togetherness.


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