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ILMC 35: Industry heads tackle big topics

ILMC 35 kicked off with the traditional Open Forum session with this year’s host, Maria May from CAA, addressing a swathe of issues, while looking back on a monumental year for live music around the world.

May noted various statistics about the growth of the business in 2022, including the fact that ticket prices for Pollstar’s top 100 tours had increased by more than 10%, before posing a question to her guests about whether those biggest-selling productions should be doing anything to support the grassroots side of the business.

Obi Asika from United Talent Agency noted that the year ahead was looking like it would be the strongest he has ever had, reporting that his dance music and afrobeat acts were doing great business. And answering a question about the stadium business harming grassroots, he stated, “I’m more worried about the stadium effect on festivals. But I don’t see it as an issue; it’s just different.”

“We have to be brave and inclusive if we want to have new headliners”

When it comes to helping grassroots acts, he added, “We have to be brave and inclusive if we want to have new headliners.”
Q Prime Management’s Tara Richardson contested: “There’s a whole generation of ticket buyers who have skipped [going to] sweaty clubs because they have been stuck indoors during the pandemic.”

But she agreed that perhaps stadiums could support grassroots venues through sponsorship or some other system. “The record labels and publishers develop talent, but the live side seems to be the only part that does not throw money back toward grassroots,” she observed.

Addressing the issue of spiralling costs, Herman Schueremans of Live Nation Belgium admitted that most people in the business had not expected such big rises. “The bottom line is that it’s a thing of give and take – listen to each other and be nicer to each other,” Schueremans pleaded. Looking back at 2022, he reported, “By respecting people and paying part [of the money] in advance and the balance the day after show, it worked really well.

“You cannot avoid rising costs – you have to live with it and deal with it. It might mean we have to work harder but earn less. Making a profit is important, but it’s not the most important.”

“The live side seems to be the only part that does not throw money back toward grassroots”

On a related note, talking about all the various challenges that the live sector is facing, Asika pointed to the example of some of his African artists who have had all kinds of obstacles to overcome to establish careers outside of their own countries. “However complex it is, we can figure it out,” he said. “There are enough ideas and enough good people to figure it out – it’s part of the fun.”

Tackling the controversial topic of dynamic pricing, John Meglen from Concerts West noted, “Most shows do not sell out, but at the very high end it’s a very simple supply and demand issue [and] dynamic pricing is a business decision. If you sell a ticket for $100 but then watch it be resold for $500, the artist should be receiving that money, not the tout.”

Meglen suggested that blaming the ticketing system for any issues was a cop-out. “It’s up to us to set those business rules – we cannot be blaming the ticketing systems, he said. “We have an issue of pricing, and we have a resale issue. We need to make sure that the money [remains] in our business. If we’re getting market value for our tickets, the artists are going to earn more and it’s not someone outside business making the money.”

Q Prime’s Richardson drew comparisons with the price of theatre tickets when it comes to tour pricing, but also had a pragmatic idea on how the teams involved in tour planning could better handle the subject. “Maybe there needs to be a middle ground where we involve tour accountants before we route – and we have a plan A, plan B, and plan C for the tour and the production, depending on the ticket price.”

“We have an issue of pricing, and we have a resale issue”

The session also looked at how the live music industry can attract a more diverse workforce, with the speakers agreeing that more needs to be done – from the top of the business downwards – to make true and meaningful progress.

Engaging in a debate regarding the environmental impact of the live music sector, Schueremans revealed, “At Rock Werchter 2022 we recycled or recouped 95% of our plastic. It was a hell of a challenge, but we did it and we should not just be doing it as festivals, we need to do it at all shows.”

However, Richardson concluded that rather than beat up the festivals and tours, “We’d be better off having a huge industry lobby to do something about the six big companies who are contributing most to carbon emissions.”

 


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UTA hires Brian Hill, Jaime Roberts

UTA has hired Brian Hill as music agent and Jaime Roberts as tour marketing director, both of whom will be joining the Nashville, US, office.

“We are excited to have Brian and Jaime join us at UTA as we continue to expand and elevate the music department,” says Scott Clayton, co-head of global music. “Their decades of experience and stellar track record of going above and beyond for their clients make them perfect additions to our world-class team in Nashville.”

Hill began his career in 1991 after graduating from the University of California, Irvine. Over the course of his 30-year career, he has worked at major agencies including Monterey Peninsula Artists/Paradigm and CAA.

Additionally, Hill is a two-time winner of Pollstar’s “Third Coast Agent of The Year” Award and was featured in an executive profile on the cover of the magazine. He has worked with many popular country acts including Eli Young Band, Aaron Lewis, Frankie Ballard and Home Free, among others.

“Their decades of experience and stellar track record of going above and beyond for their clients make them perfect additions”

Originally from New York, Roberts began her career in live entertainment promoting live tour family entertainment experiences with Feld Entertainment. She spent the next 12 years overseeing marketing and promotions at both Live Nation and The Bowery Presents for shows across the New York and New Jersey areas.

Most recently, Roberts spent seven years in Austin, Texas, where she developed and executed multi-channel marketing campaigns for major touring artists with Messina Touring Group. She led successful tour marketing efforts for artists including Shawn Mendes, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, Little Big Town, and Kelly Clarkson.

UTA’s roster of music artists includes Post Malone, Lizzo, Lil Nas X, Cardi B, deadmau5, Bad Bunny, J Balvin, YG, The Jonas Brothers, Demi Lovato, Marshmello, Bebe Rexha, The Pussycat Dolls, Common, Offset, Lil Wayne, Burna Boy, Halsey, Guns N’ Roses, Muse, Paramore, Machine Gun Kelly and James Blake.

 


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Obi Asika on what’s next for Afro Nation

Afro Nation co-founder Obi Asika has told IQ that further international growth could be on the cards for the world’s biggest Afrobeats festival.

Burna Boy and Wizkid will headline the brand’s debut Miami, Florida edition, presented by Event Horizon, SMADE and Live Nation at LoanDepot Park from 27-28 May, while previous Afro Nation festivals have taken place in Africa, Europe, and the Caribbean since the brand launched in 2019.

“We launched Afro Nation Miami recently and would love to do more shows in the US,” Asika tells IQ. “Brazil would be an incredible place to host an Afro Nation show and it is very much on our roadmap for the future, and of course more shows on the African continent.

“A lot goes into selecting locations for an Afro Nation festival, the beauty of the site, event infrastructure, travel logistics and accommodation for guests, but most importantly, everywhere you’ll find an Afro Nation event will be bringing joy to sites of cultural significance around the world.”

“Afrobeats is still a relatively new genre in terms of worldwide popularity and we are on a mission to help elevate the next generation of global superstars”

Event Horizon co-founder Asika has been co-head of UTA’s UK office since the company acquired his Echo Location Talent Agency in 2021, and will appear on The Open Forum: The industry health check panel at this year’s ILMC.

The leading agent stresses the importance of Afro Nation providing a platform for the next generation of talent, as well as showcasing globally renowned acts.

“Afrobeats is still a relatively new genre in terms of worldwide popularity and we are on a mission to help elevate the next generation of global superstars, so it was incredible to see such an enormous outpouring of love for artists such as Rema, CKay, Major League DJz and Uncle Waffles, as much as it was humbling to see how far artists like Wizkid, Davido and Burna Boy have come,” says Asika.

“We’re sure to witness some big moments with artists on an impressive trajectory like Fireboy DML and Asake this summer, and also like bringing massive non-English language acts like Dadju to even wider audiences.”

Last year, the festival marked its North American debut with Afro Nation Puerto Rico, as well as its return to Portugal for the second time and Ghana, for the first time since 2019. A Mexican edition had also been planned for September 2020, before the pandemic intervened.

“In 2023, we will be building on our VIP experience, elevating the beach club events and really optimising the stunning site that we build this festival on”

The 2023 Portugal event is scheduled for Portimão from 28-30 June, headlined by Burna Boy, 50 Cent and Booba.

“We’ve just announced the first phase line-up for Afro Nation Portugal 2023 and are really excited about the opportunity with the show this year,” says Asika. “We always strive to represent as many genres and artists from as many countries as possible, led by Africa, and we have a great platform to build on after an incredibly successful event in Portugal last year.

“2022 saw a great deal of change, with a huge, brand new main stage, raised production levels and a completely unique backstage artist village concept that we commissioned. In 2023, we will be building on our VIP experience, elevating the beach club events and really optimising the stunning site that we build this festival on.

“Evolving our infrastructure in an aesthetically pleasing way that is harmonious to our beach setting is incredibly important to us, in the same way we always look to support the local industry and economies by working collaboratively and constructively with everyone around us.”

Asika says ticket sales for Afro Nation Portugal’s 2022 edition “surpassed all our objectives” despite logistical issues related to the pandemic.

“The Portugal show doubled in size and we sold 50% of our tickets for 2023 before we even announced our line up, so we have built an incredibly loyal fanbase for the brand,” he says. “There were difficulties in getting access to certain equipment as our industry still felt the after effects of the pandemic and one thing we have done as a business to combat that is to invest more in owning our own inventory. For example we have invested into owning our own main stage, security barriers and steel shields to use at our festivals in Portugal and West Africa, and also to allow touring artists and other promotions – such as Global Citizens and Black Star Line Festival in 2022 – to access it.”

“We are generally hearing good things about ticket sales and if you have a strong brand with a clear identity then people will keep buying tickets”

He continues: “One issue we have faced with building events in multiple territories such as Ghana, Puerto Rico, Miami and Portugal is around artist travel and visa difficulties, but this is part of our commitment to having as much global representation on stage as we possibly can.

“Ticketing can also be an issue, a process we want to make as easy and accessible as possible, so we have partnered with Easol to sell our tickets and introduced them to African payment gateways so they can take payment from customers using African cards. We pride ourselves on partnering with innovative technologies and removing obstacles in the industry.”

While Asika acknowledges there is some concern in the live events industry over the potential effect on ticket sales from the cost of living crisis, he is feeling positive about the season ahead.

“We are generally hearing good things about ticket sales and if you have a strong brand with a clear identity then people will keep buying tickets,” he adds. “Due to the backlog from Covid there were too many shows last year. Now things are back to normal and we broadly have a positive outlook on the events industry. The travel industry also seems to be recovering well and, as a promoter who offers international event experiencers, that’s very promising to see.”

 


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Live music giants move to bolster operations

Live Nation, UTA, WME and AXS have all moved to bolster their ranks with a series of notable appointments.

Dan Wall, who retired from global law firm Latham & Watkins earlier this week, has joined Live Nation as EVP for corporate and regulatory affairs.

Wall has been a key advisor to Live Nation for more than 12 years, previously providing guidance as lead outside counsel while a partner at Latham & Watkins. His new role will enable him to continue providing strategic counsel to the firm.

“Live Nation has been a special client to me, so about three years ago I floated the idea of this continuing relationship,” says Wall. “I am grateful to Michael [Rapino, CEO] and Joe [Berchtold, CFO] for allowing me to continue our work together and I am excited by the challenge.”

“Dan has been a trusted advisor and partner and he will no doubt continue to be a valuable asset to the team,” adds Rapino.

“The addition of Paul and Ceci, with their web of expertise… is another powerful signal about the trajectory of our company”

Elsewhere, leading talent agency UTA has added Main Street Advisors CEO Paul Wachter and Nexus Management Group founder Ceci Kurzman to its board of directors. Wachter will serve as the board’s chairman.

“The addition of Paul and Ceci, with their web of expertise in entertainment and technology, finance and corporate governance, is another powerful signal about the trajectory of our company and the work we are doing on behalf of our clients,” says Jeremy Zimmer, UTA co-founder and CEO.

The appointments support the recent growth and diversification of UTA’s business, including its acquisitions of UK talent and literary agency Curtis Brown Group and entertainment and marketing advisory firm MediaLink, as well as the strategic partnership forged with global private equity firm EQT.

“When we brought in EQT last summer as UTA’s largest minority investor, we together recognised the value of adding experienced outside voices to the board to help us continue to pursue our goals,” adds Zimmer. “Both Paul and Ceci are passionate about artists and culture and recognise the importance of how UTA can continue to lead into the future. We could not be more fortunate to have them stepping into these roles.”

“These promotions showcase the breadth of our client roster and how far we can go in servicing our artists”

Rival agency WME, meanwhile, has upped seven partners and 12 agents in its music division across its global offices in the US, UK and Australia.

Jared Rampersaud, Levi Jackson, Doug Singer, Henry Glascock, Dave Bradley, Brendan Long and Bradley Rainey are promoted to partners, while Henry Delargy, Kidder Erdman, Phillip Richard, Josh Sanchez, Anna Horowitz, Tom Larger, Brendan Moylan, Becca Chisholm, Caleb Fenn, Carter Green, Kanan Vitolo and Morgan Carney are elevated to agents.

“These promotions showcase the breadth of our client roster and how far we can go in servicing our artists,” says Lucy Dickins, WME’s global head of contemporary music and touring, and Becky Gardenhire, co-head of WME’s Nashville office. “We are so proud of the leadership and ingenuity each of these individuals has demonstrated, and we look forward to what they will achieve.”

Finally, The Music Network reports that AEG-owned ticketing company AXS has hired Andrew Travis to run its new Australia and New Zealand JV with Frontier Touring. Travis is a former CEO of Australian rules football club Gold Coast Suns, and was most recently COO of Melbourne & Olympic Parks, home to Rod Laver Arena, AAMI Park, John Cain Arena and Margaret Court Arena.

“I am delighted to be joining the team at AXS and to have been given the opportunity to lead this exciting expansion into the Australia and NZ market,” says Travis. “I look forward to super serving venues to optimise their ticketing operations and drive improved customer outcomes and satisfaction.”

“We are thrilled to have Andrew lead AXS’ entry into the vibrant Australian and New Zealand live event market,” adds AXS CEO Bryan Perez. “His extensive experience as an industry leader in sports and entertainment venues gives him a keen insight into their goals and ambitions and the challenges they’ve had realising them. He is the right person to help AXS address those challenges in a new and innovative way to the benefit of fans, artists and team throughout the region.”

 


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UTA’s Gary Howard: ‘2023 will be a busy year’

UTA agent Gary Howard warns ticket prices will likely have to increase to cope with rising costs as the business readies itself for another packed 12 months.

Howard, who represents the likes of N-Dubz, Craig David, Blue, Steps and UB40 ft. Ali Campbell, is coming off a sterling 2022, which saw him named The O2’s Agent of the Year after handling eight shows at the London venue – more than any other agent.

“2023 will again be a busy year for most although some of the logistical issues caused by Covid and Brexit will still be with us for at least another 12 months,” he tells IQ. “Also, I think ticket prices will have to increase to deal with rising costs of production and the current cost-of-living [crisis].”

The veteran pop agent describes the sheer volume of concerts held last year as an “eye-opener”.

“I have never seen so many stadium shows happen at the same time”

“It was a wild year,” he says. “I have never seen so many stadium shows happen at the same time. On Glastonbury weekend alone, you had BST on with three nights, Red Hot Chili Peppers at London Stadium, Ed Sheeran at Wembley, Diana Ross and Billie Eilish at The O2 and hundreds of other shows happening at the same time – and that was just in London!

“My expectations were high as I had four massive arena tours out and a huge summer programme as well, and the year didn’t disappoint.”

Personal highlights included hip-hop trio N-Dubz’ UK arena comeback tour, which sold more than 250,000 tickets, and an emotional UB40 ft. Ali Campbell tour in memory of late bandmate Astro, who died in November 2021.

“Seeing [Astro] digitally up on the massive screens performing Rat in mi Kitchen in February was so emotional,” says Howard. “I, like most of the audience was brought to tears. I really loved that man, he was a top fella who had time for everyone and would always greet me with a big smile and say in his Brummie accent, ‘Alright Millwall.'”

“I just hope that by the end of 2023, I’m staring at 2024 with a big smile on my face as we have so much new talent breaking globally”

He adds: “Also, N-Dubz selling out four O2 Arenas and 23 arenas across the tour when most of the industry said we couldn’t sell out Shepherd’s Bush Empire, and that I was apparently mad for trying is something that will always stick with me. But more than that, Tulisa from the band calling me with tears of joy the moment it all flew out of the window saying, ‘We did it Gary. No one believed us, but we did it.’ That was also a major highlight.”

In closing, Howard discusses his high hopes for some of the newer additions to his roster.

“I just hope that by the end of 2023, I’m staring at 2024 with a big smile on my face as we have so much new talent breaking globally like JVKE, Natalie Jane, Johnny Orlando, Leah Kate, Bellah Mae and Junior Andre. It would be great for some of them to break through in a major way. We are definitely expecting that they will!”

Howard is also excited to be working with singer-songwriter Jess Glynne, who recently signed to UTA for worldwide representation.

“She is just the most amazing talent and a true British icon,” gushes Howard. “I represent her with Oliver Ward and we are currently building the comeback plan alongside her management at Roc Nation and her new label EMI. I just can’t wait.”

 


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The New Bosses 2022: Zoe Williamson, UTA

The 15th edition of IQ Magazine’s New Bosses was published in IQ 114 this month, revealing 20 of the most promising 30-and-unders in the international live music business.

To get to know this year’s cohort a little better, IQ conducted interviews with each one of 2022’s New Bosses, discovering their greatest inspirations and pinpointing the reasons for their success.

Catch up on the previous New Bosses 2022 interview with Vegard Storaas, promoter at Live Nation Norway. The series concludes with Zoe Williamson, booking agent at UTA in the US.

Zoe Rae Williamson joined UTA in 2016, working her way up from the mailroom to music agent. She helps strategise and book tours and live opportunities for clients like Arlo Parks, St. Vincent, Spoon, Big Freedia, Pom Pom Squad, Nova Twins, Hovvdy, and more. She also covers North American Pride events for artists including Tinashe, Shygirl, and Michaela Jaé Rodriguez, among others.

She finds inspiration in UTA’s collaborative and stimulating environment and holds leadership roles in several company programmes to promote positivity and inclusivity in the music industry. She co-founded La Femme Majeure, an event series focused on empowering women, and Justice Now, an internal initiative to combat systemic racism.

 


You started out in the famous mailroom at UTA. Is this still a viable path for people wanting to break into the music industry in 2022?

Absolutely. I wouldn’t have traded my experience for anything, and there is still immense value to starting in the mailroom at an agency. At UTA, music agents work across the entire company to find opportunities for clients in other business verticals like acting, writing, film, and many other spaces. Since there are so many resources available for clients, it’s helpful to begin your career journey by learning as much as possible about every department, and the mailroom is a great place to start absorbing that knowledge. It’s also important to remember that working in the mailroom or another entry-level agency position doesn’t mean you have to be an agent. So many promoters, managers, label executives, and more got their start working as agency interns, assistants, and trainees. You never know where you’ll end up.

“We wanted to create an environment in which all women – regardless of their levels – could come together, get to know each other, and build community”

La Femme Majeure and Justice Now sound like fantastic initiatives. Can you tell us more about them?

La Femme Majeure (LFM) started off in New York and has since expanded globally. This year, we are hoping to launch LFM panel events in Nashville and London and to resume in-person events in Los Angeles and New York. Many events geared towards empowering women tend to focus specifically on high-level veteran executives and students looking to launch their careers, so we started LFM to create a networking event series that also includes women in the middle of that spectrum, who are succeeding in their current roles while aiming to take the next step in their professional journeys.

We wanted to create an environment in which all women – regardless of their levels – could come together, get to know each other, and build community. The moment you walk into an LFM event, it needs to feel like home. We’ve been able to accomplish that over the years because we go into every event with the intention of facilitating inclusion and warmth. Co-founding LFM with my colleagues is one of my proudest accomplishments. Launching and maintaining the series has been a true group effort, and I feel very lucky to work with such exceptional women.

Justice Now started in 2020 following the police murders of multiple Black Americans, including George Floyd. Quarantine forced everyone to face the reality of how racism still permeates the country. The founding members of Justice Now at UTA have always been communicating about these issues so when the George Floyd news hit, we immediately decided to come together and create structured efforts to combat racism within the industry. We have continually made progress since Justice Now’s inception by increasing inclusivity within the agent training program, creating regular education-focused programming, organising internal mentorship Q&A’s with agents, and more. We are moving forward and it’s important to celebrate those wins as motivation to make more forward strides in years to come.

Do you think the music industry and consumer brands are best exploiting the opportunities that Pride has to offer, or do you think these events should remain somewhat ring-fenced as cultural and educational institutions?

As both a queer person and someone that works at a major agency, it’s important for me to see the benefits of both large-scale, company-sponsored Pride events and more underground grassroots events. Additionally, many LGBTQIA+ artists make a huge portion of their annual revenue during Pride Month through corporate events. However, the LGBTQIA+ community doesn’t stop existing outside of June and other international Pride months, and we need to be creating more year-round live experiences and opportunities to support the community beyond standard Pride months and timelines.

“While it’s important to raise your hand when someone needs help, you can’t take on everything or you’ll burn out”

What has been your biggest career highlight to date?

I could never pick just one! But I will say that one of the greatest highlights has been the friendships and trustworthy relationships I’ve formed and nurtured over the years. It has been, and continues to be, a joy to get to know so many great people within the music space. We’re nothing in this industry without each other. Nothing gets done alone!

If you could offer the 18-year-old Zoe one piece of advice, what would it be?

Not everyone’s problem is your problem. When I was younger, I often overextended myself to the point of exhaustion trying to help everyone in my life, even people I wasn’t close with. While it’s important to raise your hand when someone needs help, you can’t take on everything or you’ll burn out. Also, there are occasions in which other colleagues may be better equipped to help solve an issue. Now, when someone is going through a challenge, I consider my bandwidth and relevant experience before jumping in.

The gender imbalance at festivals has been an issue again this year. Are there any proactive suggestions agents can make to help address these problems?

When agents are pitching a woman-identifying client to a festival buyer, they need to be able to articulate why that particular artist belongs on that specific line-up. It is essential to educate ourselves on our clients’ unique personal backgrounds, bodies of work, and fanbases beyond their gender identity, so that we can provide the buyers a more well-rounded perspective on our artists.

“During the shutdown, people across the music industry had to work together to find new ways for artists to connect with fans and make a living”

As an agent, are there any particular events or forums that you visit to try to discover the next big act?

I’ve always been a big fan of The Fader’s Gen-F profiles, which highlight talented emerging artists, and app-curated playlists that recommend songs by new artists based on my current music preferences. However, word-of-mouth will always be my favourite way of discovering potential new clients because it encourages a sense of community with their other fans, as we’re all helping those artists launch their careers.

What are the biggest lessons that you learned during the pandemic that you can use to help with your career going forward?

I learned that you can’t get anything done in this job without getting in touch with your humanity. Before the pandemic, I thought that I needed to forge my own path for myself and my clients through aggressive negotiation tactics, but that simply isn’t true. You can achieve your goals without trying to force someone’s hand. During the shutdown, people across the music industry had to work together to find new ways for artists to connect with fans and make a living. We succeeded by building collaborative partnerships and trusting each other. Now, I try to work in tandem with others to achieve goals and solve problems instead of trying to assert dominance to force something to get done. A colleague once suggested we should assume positive intent. I really like that concept, and I’ve been able to accomplish so much more in the past two years because of it.

 


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AEG Presents appoints first head of comedy

On the heels of the appointment of Lucy Noble as AEG Presents’ inaugural artistic director, the company has named Georgie Donnelly as its first head of comedy.

Previously head of comedy & podcasts at Moment House, Donnelly has also served stints as an agent at UTA and established the comedy department at promoter Kilimanjaro Live.

Donnelly’s hiring is considered central to AEG’s plans to expand its footprint beyond music and exponentially grow its comedy portfolio, which includes the London debut of Just For Laughs festival, which takes place at The O2 from 2-5 March 2023.

“I am absolutely delighted to join the team at AEG Presents who are synonymous with live music and entertainment,” says Donnelly, who has worked with the likes of Jonathan Van Ness, Hasan Minhaj, Daniel Howell, Yvonne Orji, and Russell Peters. “I am so excited to be expanding the live comedy aspect of the business and look forward to bringing some of the biggest stars and events in global comedy to the UK.”

“With Just for Laughs, as well as the arrival of Georgie to this newly created role, our plan is to really accelerate our comedic footprint”

AEG Presents UK CEO Steve Homer adds: “Georgie is immersed in the comedy world and has incredible experience booking and running tours and shows across multiple comedic genres. It’s an area AEG Presents is increasingly taking up residence and with Just for Laughs, as well as the arrival of Georgie to this newly created role, our plan is to really accelerate our comedic footprint.”

Donnelly’s arrival comes just weeks after it was announced that Royal Albert Hall artistic director Lucy Noble will be joining AEG’s European senior leadership team, assuming responsibility for setting the artistic direction across the company’s live touring and events business.

Noble, who is tasked with overseeing content creation as well as the production of new events, also assumes responsibility for promoting and touring shows, with an initial focus on the UK, followed by an eventual expansion into Europe and other territories.

Meanwhile, Stormzy has been announced as the first headliner of AEG’s All Points East 2023 festival in Victoria Park, London. In a UK exclusive, the grime artist will star in his own curated This Is What We Mean Day on Friday 18 August.

 


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UTA announces huge round of promotions

Leading global talent, entertainment and sports agency UTA has elevated 67 colleagues across 27 divisions in its latest round of promotions.

US-based Mackenzie Coberley (coordinator), Brennan Duffy (agent), Noah Friedlander (agent), Alana Gitt (agent), Akhil Hegde (agent), Lauren Holland (agent), Alexis Lesko (coordinator), Gabriella Librizzi (coordinator), Lauren McClusky (coordinator) and Hope Murray (coordinator) have all been upped in the firm’s music department.

The promotions recognise contributions at various levels of the company, and also include departments such as motion picture literary, news & broadcasting, production, publishing, talent, theatre, television literary, television talent, Asian business
development, audio, brand studio, comedy touring, communications, digital talent, endorsements & voiceover, finance & accounting, fine arts, gaming & Esports, HR, IT, IQ, media rights, MediaLink, UTA Foundation, Ventures and Web 3.0.

“Providing opportunities for advancement is core to our culture, and we are proud to share in this group’s success”

“Over the past year, UTA has accelerated our momentum with new acquisitions, investments in our client capabilities, and key hires,” says UTA president David Kramer. “This growth could not be possible without the hard work, ambition, and collaborative nature of the colleagues we promoted today. Providing opportunities for advancement is core to our culture, and we are proud to share in this group’s success and excited to see what their next chapters at UTA will bring.”

The promotions represent a wide range of backgrounds and experiences and include over 60% who identify as women and 35% who identify as people of colour, while 80% of those promoted to agent started their careers in UTA’s agent training programme.

Earlier this year, UTA announced its largest partner class ever-elevating 26 partners across 15 divisions.

The promotions come amidst a time of substantial development and growth for UTA. In July, it confirmed a strategic partnership with global investment firm EQT Private Equity and recently announced the acquisitions of literary and talent group Curtis Brown Group and software and data analytics company MediaHound.

 


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CAA cuts ties with Kanye West after antisemitic slurs

Creative Artists Agency (CAA) no longer represents longtime client Kanye West, a representative of the company this week told The New York Times.

The agency has represented West for touring since 2016, during which time he has not been on tour.

The move comes after the US rapper this month posted antisemitic slurs on social media and wore a shirt with a slogan associated with white supremacists.

His remarks prompted an antisemitic and white supremacist group to unfurl a large banner above a Los Angeles overpass, which read “Kanye is right about the Jews,” over the weekend.

The music industry has subsequently begun to distance itself from the rapper, with executives including UTA CEO Jeremy Zimmer and Endeavor’s Ari Emanuel encouraging the boycott of West.

West and his G.O.O.D. Music imprint are no longer a part of Def Jam Recordings

Per The Times article, West (now known as Ye) and his G.O.O.D. Music imprint are no longer a part of Def Jam Recordings. Ye’s artist contract with the label expired following the release of 2021’s Donda, although it’s unclear if he was expected to continue the partnership with his longtime label home prior to his recent anti-Semitic outbursts.

The 45-year-old rapper had already burned bridges in the industry when he pulled out of headlining this year’s Coachella just over a week before it was due to start.

He was also disinvited from performing at the Grammy Awards last spring after erratic behaviour and, in July this year, LA-based production company Phantom Labs sued West, for allegedly owing $7.1 million for unpaid work.

The fashion world is also beginning to cut ties with West, with Balenciaga confirming last week that it “no longer has any relationship nor any plans for future projects related to this artist”.

Also, today (25 October), Adidas released a statement announcing it has officially ended its partnership with the rapper.

“Adidas does not tolerate antisemitism and any other sort of hate speech,” it reads. “Ye’s recent comments and actions have been unacceptable, hateful and dangerous, and they violate the company’s values of diversity and inclusion, mutual respect and fairness.”

 


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UTA CEO asks agents to support boycott of Kanye

UTA CEO and co-founder Jeremy Zimmer has issued a company-wide memo asking agents to “support the boycott of Kanye West,” according to Variety.

The 23 October memo, titled Rise of Anti-Semitism and Hate, follows an antisemitic rally in Los Angeles on the weekend, sparked by the rapper.

“As a company, we stand for a wide diversity of voices and ideas; But we can’t support hate speech, bigotry or anti-semitism,” Zimmer wrote. “Please support the boycott of Kanye West. Powerful voices spewing hatred have frequently driven people to do hateful things.”

On Saturday (22 October), Antisemites took to a Los Angeles freeway overpass to express their support of the rapper, who posted anti-Jewish slurs on social media. Also on Sunday, fliers were reportedly distributed around Brentwood identifying entertainment executives as “Jewish”.

“I’m saddened to write that once again we’re seeing a surge in anti-Semitism in our communities, fueled by Kanye’s comments and a resulting in an incident in Los Angeles yesterday where hateful banners were placed over the 405 freeway,” wrote Zimmer.

“Regrettably, anti-Semitism, racism and many forms of hate and intolerance are part of the fabric of society. Generally, they live as a plague eroding the health of communities and are combatted by understanding, tolerance and the general goodness of most people.

“But throughout history some have used their public platform to spew the plague out loud and spread the contagion to dangerous effect. Kanye is the latest to do so, and we’re seeing how his words embolden others to amplify their vile beliefs. I’ve also seen copies of horribly anti-Semitic flyers left this weekend on the doorsteps of homes in LA neighborhoods, showing that the 405 banners are not the end of it.

“Those who continue to do business with West are giving his misguided hate an audience”

“Equally worrying is what is happening on college campuses, where concern and debate about Zionism becomes veiled anti-Semitism. Wellesley College recently has been at the epicenter of this dilemma. The Wellesley newspaper recently supported a mapping project showing the nearby Jewish owned businesses, and suggesting that they be boycotted. The assumption being that because they are owned by Jews, they must be anti-Palestine. This is the kind of dangerous thinking that can lead to inflaming anti-Semitism and hate, and there have been examples of it at other schools.

“Whether it’s signs on the 405 in Los Angeles, flyers on doorsteps, mapping Jewish businesses in Boston, or marching with hoods and crosses, all of these behaviors ignite the embers of bigotry, and they must not be tolerated.

“As a company we stand for a wide diversity of voices and ideas. But we can’t support hate speech, bigotry or anti-semitism. Please support the boycott of Kanye West. Powerful voices spewing hatred have frequently driven people to do hateful things. Let’s not be lulled into thinking this time it’s different,” he concludes.

Elsewhere, Ari Emanuel, CEO of WME parent company Endeavor, recently penned an op-ed for the Financial Times calling on West’s business partners – such as Apple, Spotify, Adidas and his touring partners – to stop working with him.

“West is not just any person — he is a pop culture icon with millions of fans around the world,” Emanuel wrote. “And among them are young people whose views are still being formed. This is why it is necessary for all of us to speak out. Hatred and anti-Semitism should have no place in our society, no matter how much money is at stake.”

“Those who continue to do business with West are giving his misguided hate an audience,” Emanuel added. “There should be no tolerance anywhere for West’s anti-Semitism. This is a moment in history where the stakes are high and being open about our values, and living them, is essential. Silence and inaction are not an option.”

 


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