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Louis Tomlinson-curated festival heads to Mexico

Louis Tomlinson has announced he is bringing his The Away From Home Festival to Mexico.

The One Direction singer will star in and curate the brand’s fourth edition, which he launched in the UK in 2021 with a free event at Crystal Palace Park, London, in 2021.

Tomlinson subsequently expanded the festival with a ticketed event in Fuengirola, Malaga, Spain in 2022, and rolled out an Italian edition at Parco Bussoladomani in Lido di Camaiore  last August.

The Mexican leg will take place on June 8 at the Hacienda Susúla in Mérida, Yucatán. A presale begins on 16 April, with the general sale planned for the next day. Full lineup details are yet to be announced.

“We are excited to announce that Louis Tomlinson will bring the fourth edition of The Away From Home Festival to Mexico, an event curated by the singer where great artists of international stature will perform,” says a statement by promoter Ocesa.

“The Away From Home Festival has already made its mark in several countries, including the United Kingdom, Spain and Italy”

“The Away From Home Festival has already made its mark in several countries, including the United Kingdom, Spain and Italy. Now, it comes to Mexico to offer a platform that will bring great talents. This festival is the perfect opportunity to discover new music and enjoy a vibrant and energetic atmosphere.”

Tomlinson also has upcoming headline dates in Panama, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay, Chile, Peru, Colombia and Costa Rica. Speaking to IQ last year, the star’s agent Holly Rowland of Wasserman Music said Latin America was one of Tomlinson’s biggest markets.

“The return to Latin America is going to be huge – Louis is playing arenas and stadiums in South America and Mexico: 15 shows across 11 countries,” she said.

Revisit IQ‘s behind the scenes feature on Tomlinson’s Faith in the Future Tour here.

 


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Wasserman promotes nine, creates orchestral arm

Talent agency Wasserman Music has announced the promotion of nine team members, as well as the creation of a dedicated orchestral division.

Promotions include London-based agent Holly Rowland, who started out at Wasserman precursor Coda in 2014, and serves clients including Louis Tomlinson, Rag’n’Bone Man, INJI and Liang Lawrence.

Other promotions include New York-based Alex Christie (agent), Annie Cole (manager, touring), Owen Hynes (manager, tour marketing) and Noah Plotnicki (agent), Nashville-based Anna Kathryn Groom (manager, brand partnerships), and Los Angeles-based Kara Klein (manager, brand partnerships) and Lindsay Roblesi (agent).

In addition, Miami-based agent Brittany Miller, who joined Wasserman precursor AM Only in 2014, moves to the agency’s global festivals department as director, festivals, focusing on electronic music events around the world.

“Nurturing and advancing the careers of talented members of our global team is central to our culture of support and empowerment, so we’re proud to announce these well-earned promotions,” says Lee Anderson, Wasserman Music EVP and managing executive. “Continually creating new ways to super-serve our clients is our core mission, and it’s most gratifying when we’re able to do that by elevating exceptional Team Wass colleagues to serve them even better.”

“Emily has been able to see the enormous opportunity in the live symphonic space beyond just talent booking”

Meanwhile, in a “first-of-its-kind” move for a major talent agency, Wasserman has also announced the creation of a new dedicated orchestral division headed by VP Emily Threlfall Yoon.

The new division represents IP-driven symphonic properties such as SQEX’s Final Fantasy VII REBIRTH World Orchestra Tour and the dozens of titles produced by Disney Concerts, including Marvel Studios’ The Infinity Saga Concert Experience, as well as a group of conductors, orchestrators, and arrangers.

The division will also partner with artists across Wasserman Music’s client roster, such as John Legend, Melissa Etheridge, Laufey, and Zedd, to conceive and produce new popular programming symphonic projects.

“Emily has been able to see the enormous opportunity in the live symphonic space beyond just talent booking,” adds Anderson. “By working as a creative partner with artists and IP-driven properties – whether movies, TV, video games, or pop music – Emily and our new orchestral division are taking the music that people love in their everyday lives and presenting it in exciting new ways to fans of all kinds.”

 


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Raye steals the show at 2024 BRIT Awards

Raye dominated the 2024 BRIT Awards with a record-breaking six wins from seven nominations.

The UK singer-songwriter surpassed Harry Styles, Adele and Blur’s previous joint record of four for the most BRIT wins in one night, taking the awards for Album, Artist, Songwriter, Song (Escapism), Best New Artist and R&B Act.

The 26-year-old BRIT School graduate, who was signed to Polydor before finding success as an independent artist, also performed a medley of her hits at the event, held on Saturday (2 March) at The O2 in London. She will return to the venue on 15 March to play her biggest headline show to date.

“Raye stole the night, but we all know that,” her live agent Tom Schroeder of Wasserman Music tells IQ. “She stole it with the record breaking wins, with the performance, with her messaging about fairness within the industry, but most importantly with her story.

“Raye’s career took off when she took control, when she started making decisions; Raye runs Raye. We continue to break the rules, with March’s O2 being another chapter in the story – but everyone around the globe now knows what a complete artist she is – one of the UK’s greatest. She has changed the game and is the blueprint of how to do it.”

The 44th BRITs also saw performances from Dua Lipa, Calvin Harris & Ellie Goulding, Tate McRae, Jungle, Becky Hill and Chase & Status, Rema and BRITs Global Icon Award recipient Kylie Minogue, who closed the show.

Other winners included Jungle (Group), Bring Me the Horizon (Alternative/Rock), Calvin Harris (Dance), Casisdead (Hip-hop/Grime/Rap), SZA (International Artist), Dua Lipa (Pop), Boygenius (International Group), Chase & Status (Producer) and Miley Cyrus (International Song – Flowers).

Hosted by Maya Jama, Clara Amfo and Roman Kemp, the Mastercard-sponsored event was broadcast live in the UK on ITV1 and ITVX, and livestreamed on YouTube for international viewers.

“Artists and managers and labels and agents have kept supporting it to enable it to be the event that it is today”

Meanwhile, the annual BRITs Week wraps up tonight (4 March) with BRITs Rising Star winners The Last Dinner Party at The Trades Club, Hebden Bridge.

The annual charity concert series features intimate one-off performances from big names. Since BRITs Week’s inception in 2009, the shows have raised more than £7 million for War Child to help children whose lives have been torn apart by war.

Produced by AEG Presents, BPI, Bauer Media Audio UK and War Child, BRITs Week commenced on 19 February with gigs by Cian Ducrot and You Me At Six will kick off proceedings at London’s Union Chapel and Brighton’s Concorde 2. The 2024 line-up has also included the likes of Baby Queen, Aitch, Ash, Pendulum, Sleaford Mods, CMAT and Venbee.

“It’s genuinely a joy to work on,” says Simon Jones, AEG’s SVP, live music international, speaking to IQ. “An industry fixture that has grown and grown over the past 10 years. Artists and managers and labels and agents have kept supporting it to enable it to be the event that it is today, and I hope it continues in that fashion.

“Maggie Crowe from the BPI has continued to give it its full backing, and Will Smyth from AEG and the whole War Child team have continued to tirelessly deliver the event to an even higher standard every year. We’re lucky artists want to play it; it’s not easy, but it always comes together!”

 


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ILMC 36: The Agency Business

Leading agents offered an upbeat overview of the agency trade in 2024 and pondered the future of the model in the annual ILMC panel on the sector.

The Agency Business 2024 panel chair Anna Sjölund was joined by guest speakers Bex Wedlake (One Fiinix Live), Brian Ahern (WME), Tom Schroeder (Wasserman Music) and James Wright (UTA) to debate a range of topics.

“The great thing after the pandemic, [Brexit], and the general inflation of costs, we’re still having a strong touring business. The difficulty is costs, be that for artists, promoters or venue operators,” said Wright.

Asked how it was to be an agent in 2024, Schroeder said, “I bloody love it. I don’t disagree that there are problems, but they’re a bit like a jigsaw that we have to work out and I really enjoy that challenge. The fact is that artists are a lot more involved in their careers these days, and that makes things fun.

“The rules have changed and some historic templates have [been discontinued], and because social media plays such a big part in things now, artists have to be a lot more involved in their career and decisions about their career, so I truly believe this is the best time I’ve had in my career.”

“The appetite for live music is bigger and better than ever before”

Wedlake noted, “The appetite for live music is bigger and better than ever before, and there’s a bigger emphasis on women in music and LGBTQ issues, led by the artists, and it’s amazing to witness that levelling of the [playing field] and the evolution of our job. There’s no one-size-fits-all for either clients or us as agents, so the fact that big corporations and independent operations can happily co-exist is pretty healthy.

Ahern agreed, commenting, “I believe our company can provide a competitive advantage to our clients, but there are also bands and artists who simply want to tour, and therefore being at another agency is a better fit for them. I have a lot of respect for the indie agents and what they do – thankfully there is enough work for all of us.”

Discussing the reality of global deals, Wright revealed that he had chosen a lower offer for one of his clients because a higher offer would have meant unrealistic ticket prices for that act’s fans. And talking about the changing role of the agent, Schroeder said that while 15 years ago his job involved booking gigs, “What was 90% of my job is now just 10%, as I spend a lot more time working on strategy and creativity. And the best thing is I don’t know how I will be doing things in 18 months because the business keeps changing and I think the industry is all the better for it.”

Schroeder courted controversy by stating that grassroots venues were no longer a part of the ecosystem for his roster of clients, although he acknowledged their importance. But Wedlake responded, “We all have a responsibility to feed back into the grassroots sector – that’s why I’m a proponent of using independent promoters.” She added, “My job as an agent is to ferret out promoters who understand my artists and with whom we can grow sensibly, slowly and creatively.”

Addressing concerns about agents signing too many acts to their rosters, Wright said, “We are opportunistic, but we have to believe in the artists we sign. It’s complicated and it’s hard work, but we don’t get paid straight away, so belief is a big part of it.”

“We need promoters to help us get to a point where touring becomes financially sustainable”

Underlining that point, Schroeder revealed that he has been working with Raye for eight years – “Six and a half years were a real slog, but I always had that belief and I stuck with her.”

Turning the discussion to the different ways in which agencies operate, Sjölund asked Ahern about WME’s territorial model, leading Ahern to dismiss some of the myths about the practice.

“We don’t simply hand off to someone who does not know what they are doing. We engage experts who have knowledge about specific markets, or who speak the local language, and who can advise me as the agent who can then use that information to make a decision. But the person who presents the artist always has that direct relationship – if I do not have that direct contact with my artist, I get fired.”

Schroeder also underlined the importance of the promoter in planning career strategies for artists. “If we choose a promoter that we trust, why would we not want their opinion in a meeting with the artist and management? They are the well informed gamblers that we rely on.”

He concluded, “We need promoters to help us get to a point where touring becomes financially sustainable.”

 


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Wasserman Music adds executives to agent team

Talent agency Wasserman Music has announced the addition of four executives to its worldwide agent team.

Josh Dick and Jonathan Insogna join as VPs, based in New York and Nashville, respectively, while Rebecca Prochnik joins as a director based in London and Gideon “Shay” Royale joins as a director based in New York.

In a career spanning more than 20 years, Dick began as a booking agent at The Agency Group, working with artists including A$AP Rocky, Danny Brown and Yelawolf. He then switched to artist management, guiding the careers of acts including Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Flatbush Zombies.

In his new role, he will continue to represent Flatbush Zombies as their agent for North America, among other clients.

Country and Americana specialist Insogna joins after 17 years at WME. His clients include Morgan Wade, Yola, Cam Whitcomb, Drew Erwin, Joshua Quimby, Max McNown, and Theo Kandel. He is a member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music and served on the founding board of advisors for the To Nashville, With Love Fund.

“We are excited to welcome Josh, Jonathan, Rebecca, and Shay to our growing global team of outstanding agents and career strategists”

Prochnik founded the London-based independent Earth Agency in 2014, before moving to UTA in 2021. She will represent artists including AJ Tracey, Black Lips, Calibre, CASISDEAD, Decius, Fat Dog, Frost Children, Ghetts, Jme, Kode 9, Mala, Paranoid London and Warmduscher.

Royale began his career as an advisor under the umbrellas of Wells Fargo, Merrill Lynch and MJ Capital Partners, later joining the Global Sports and Entertainment Division at Morgan Stanley. He has since worked with music artists as a manager and A&R consultant, most recently leading the indie incubator and artist development company, All Season. He also co-founded the community-based ticketing platform TBA.

At Wasserman, Royale will lead the agency’s growth in the Afro-music space, with clients including Victony, Black Sherif, Gabzy, Blxckie, melvitto and WurlD.

“We are excited to welcome Josh, Jonathan, Rebecca, and Shay to our growing global team of outstanding agents and career strategists,” says Lee Anderson, Wasserman Music EVP and managing executive. “Their unique backgrounds and experience will help to drive Wasserman Music’s accelerating growth across global territories, emerging genres, and innovative new ways to serve our valued clients around the world.”

Headquartered in Los Angeles, Wasserman operates globally across 27 countries and more than 62 cities, including New York, London, Abu Dhabi, Amsterdam, Hong Kong, Madrid, Mexico City, Toronto, Paris and Sydney.

 


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Futures Forum 2024: First speakers confirmed

Futures Forum, the leading conference for the next generation of live music industry leaders, has revealed the first raft of speakers and moderators for 2024.

The fourth annual instalment of the gathering will again take place at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London on 1 March 2024 – the final day of its renowned parent event, the International Live Music Conference (ILMC).

The first confirmed speakers include Wasserman Musics Alex Hardee and Holly Rowland, who will appear together on the Agents vs Bookers panel, which aims to lift the lid on the inner workings of agency partnerships.

Chairing that panel is The O2s Marc Saunders, who will conduct in-depth discussions and quickfire question rounds to test the pairs’ knowledge of each other and their rosters.

Gurj Summan will be one of four panellists to swap tracks, tips and tales of the artists that are dominating their playlists

Elsewhere, former New Boss Connie Shao (AEG Presents) will moderate Meet The New Bosses: Class of 2024, featuring a quartet of the most promising 30-and-unders in the international live music business.

While Claire O’Neill (A Greener Future) will take the helm for A Greener Future: The Case Studies. She’ll welcome a panel of sustainability pioneers from festivals, venues and tours, who will share their tried-and-tested practices and innovative solutions.

And finally, Gurj Summan (Live Nation, Festival Republic) will be one of four panellists to swap tracks, tips and tales of the artists that are dominating their playlists, during Now That’s What I Call 2024.

For more information on Futures Forum 2024 or to purchase passes, please click here.

 


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The habit he can’t break: Louis Tomlinson returns to the road

Usually, when an act completes a world tour, they come off the road for an extended period to rest, record new material, and then typically two or three years later the wheels are set in motion for an album release, promo, and tour dates. Louis Tomlinson did not get that memo.

His first solo tour ran late due to the pandemic restrictions, meaning that by the time it concluded in September 2022, his second album, Faith in the Future, was scheduled to drop and tickets for the associated tour were ready to go on sale.

“This tour went on sale last October or November – basically a year in advance,” explains agent Holly Rowland, who represents Tomlinson alongside Alex Hardee, internationally, while Wasserman Music colleagues Marty Diamond and Ash Mowry-Lewis do likewise for North America.

Despite that quick turnaround between tours, Rowland reports that ticket sales for the current tour are going very well indeed. “The first leg went through Scandinavia before doing the Baltics and Eastern Europe – Romania, Bulgaria, and Greece – places that most people, especially arena-level acts, don’t really go. And the second leg, which is more mainland Europe, started on 2 October.”

The tour is big. Very big for just a second outing in his own name. Between May and July this year, Tomlinson played 39 dates in the US and Canada across a mix of amphitheatres, arenas, pavilions, and stadiums. In August, he returned to Europe, where he is currently is in the midst of another 39 dates in arenas across the continent and the UK, which will take him to 18 November. Then, in early 2024, the Faith in the Future tour goes to Australia for two outdoor dates in Melbourne and Brisbane, before he takes the show to the country’s biggest indoor venue, the Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney.

“The tour before obviously was a Covid tour where the dates had to be chopped and changed. The positive aspect of that was that we were able to upgrade venues where that made sense”

And, as IQ went to press, Tomlinson released dates for a return to Latin America in May 2024 for a mix of indoor and outdoor shows, including stadia, across Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, and Uruguay.

“We’re going to Australia and part of Asia early next year,” states artist manager Matt Vines of London-based Seven 7 Management. “We then go into Latin America in May and June. And then we’ll handpick a selection of festivals next summer, before we draw the line on the campaign at the end of the summer.”

Rowland comments, “The tour before obviously was a Covid tour where the dates had to be chopped and changed. The positive aspect of that was that we were able to upgrade venues where that made sense. But it was really nice to start from scratch on this tour to make sure the routing was all going in the right direction.” She reports, “We’ve done nearly 16,000 tickets in Amsterdam, and 14,000 in Paris, which I think just underlines his credibility as an artist and his growing reputation among fans.”

Back to You
Playing a major role in shifting that ticketing inventory is a network of promoters also enjoying Tomlinson’s rising star.

“On this tour, it’s mainly Live Nation – we use a lot of the One Direction promoter,” explains Rowland. “But for Greece, we used Honeycomb Live, Charmenko did Romania, 8 Days A Week promoted the three shows in the Baltics, All Things Live did Finland, Fource are doing Prague, it’s Gadget in Switzerland, Atelier in Luxembourg, and when we get to the UK, it’s SJM, and MCD in Ireland.”

With a total of 39 European dates, Rowland split the outing into separate legs, scheduling a break after Scandinavia, the Balkans, Baltics and Athens, Greece and another after mainland Europe ending in Zurich, Switzerland.

“Louis has a real desire to perform to fans in markets that are often overlooked”

“It’s a perfect ratio, if I do say so myself,” she laughs. “It was right to split it up – 39 dates is a long, long tour, especially with the American tour throughout the summer being 11 weeks! We made sure to schedule days off, for everyone to recharge their batteries.”

In Spain, Nacho Córdoba at Live Nation promoted Tomlinson’s shows in Bilbao, Madrid, and Barcelona and reports sell-outs at each of the arenas involved.

“When Louis was last here, it was three days before the pandemic shut everything down in Spain. In fact, I think he played the final show before the market closed because of Covid,” says Córdoba.

“Last year, Louis organised his Away From Home festival in Fuengirola, and that also sold out, so we know he has a big following in Spain, and we also know that Spanish fans are super loyal. So, on this tour we sold out 7,000 tickets at Bilbao Arena Miribilla, 13,600 tickets at WiZink in Madrid, and 11,200 at Palau St Jordi in Barcelona.”

Already looking forward to Tomlinson “and his fantastic team” returning on the next tour, Córdoba believes it will be important to see what happens with the next album – and Tomlinson’s expectations – before making any plans.

“The most important thing is to keep the fans happy and keep the momentum building with Louis,” he states. “I am a big fan of the arenas, because the atmosphere at his shows was incredible. So, rather than look at going bigger, it might be a case of looking at other arenas in other markets. Whatever he does, we cannot wait to have Louis back in Spain.”

“He’s kept the ticket prices reasonable – and he never wants to do any gold circle or VIP tickets. I think that’s why he’s so close to his fans, because it’s not about maximising profits”

Stefan Wyss at Gadget abc Entertainment in Switzerland promoted Tomlinson when he visited Zurich’s Hallenstadion on 23 October and explains that he previously played the city’s Halle 622 venue on the first tour.

Recalling that debut solo outing, Wyss tells IQ, “At first, we announced a mid-size theatre club show, 1,800-capacity, but it sold out instantly. Then we moved it to Halle 62, which is 3,500-cap, and that also sold out immediately, so it was a really big success.

“They’ve invested a lot in the production of this current tour, and it’s doing really strong numbers, so that’s why we decided to go to the arena this time around, where we set a mid-size capacity of 7,000, which is good for a small market like Switzerland, especially because he’s coming back just one year later and playing a much bigger show.”

Wyss adds, “He’s kept the ticket prices reasonable – and he never wants to do any gold circle or VIP tickets. I think that’s why he’s so close to his fans, because it’s not about maximising profits. Another reason for his success is that in addition to attracting a mainstream audience, he’s also getting the music lovers because he’s just a very good songwriter and has brilliant songs.”

Wyss also notes that with many young fans typically arriving the day before the concert, the responsibility to look after them is extended.

“We set up toilets, we have security overnight, we give water away. It’s part of the organisation that we will take care of the fans.”

Fresh from announcing 12 dates across Argentina, Brazil (x 3), Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Peru, Paraguay, Panama, Puerto Rico, and Uruguay, promoter Fabiano Lima De Queiroz at Move Concerts reports that Tomlinson will visit a mix of arenas, as well as stadiums in Santiago, São Paolo, and Buenos Aires during his May tour.

“Louis really looks after his fans. On the last tour they did a deal with Greggs [bakery chain] to give free food to the people waiting in line, as some of them camped out for days in advance”

“Our first tour with Louis was supposed to be in 2020 and we’d booked half arenas everywhere – 5,000-6,000 capacities,” he informs IQ. “Louis was one of those acts who connected very well with the fans during the pandemic, so when we shifted the dates, first to 2021, and then to 2022, we ended up selling out and having to upgrade in certain metropolitan markets.

“In Santiago, for instance, we’d sold out two full arenas of 13,000 cap, but then the government declared that for mass gatherings the numbers needed to be limited to 10,000 people.”

Rather than let fans down, Move added a third date, which again ended up selling out. “I remember being on a night plane from Miami, while Matt Vines was flying in from Dallas, and we were both using the aircraft wi-fi to negotiate via text for that third show,” says Queiroz. “It was an interesting way to confirm putting the third date on sale, just three days before the actual show!”

He adds, “We’re taking a big bet on this tour when it comes to the number of cities and the capacities of the venues, but we’re hoping for the best, and we’ve gone out strong. We feel that the artist is in a good moment and that the latest album has just created more interest, so we’re looking forward to when he arrives in May.”

Further north, Ocesa will promote three dates in Mexico, including a stadium show at the F1 circuit, Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, deepening Tomlinson’s footprint in that crucial North American market.

Meanwhile, in Tomlinson’s homeland, Jack Dowling at SJM is promoting seven UK dates in November at arenas in Sheffield, Manchester, Glasgow, Brighton, Cardiff, London, and Birmingham, which will round out the European leg of the tour.

“We have a responsibility to look after [the fans]. Coming to a show should be a safe space, it’s where they find joy, and we have a responsibility to protect that”

“SJM has done every show Louis has been involved with, including all the One Direction arena and stadium shows,” notes Dowling, adding that on the first tour, the London show was originally pencilled in as a Roundhouse, then two Roundhouse shows, before finally being upgraded to Wembley Arena.

“This time, The O2 arena show in London will be sold out, while all the others have passed the expectations of where we wanted to be on this tour. In fact, when the UK dates were announced, it ranked as the fourth most engaged tour on social media in SJM’s history – his fans are just nuts.”

But Dowling also reports that the fanbase for Tomlinson is expanding. “The demographics are pulling not just from pop but also from indie rock now.”

Dowling adds, “Louis really looks after his fans. On the last tour they did a deal with Greggs [bakery chain] to give free food to the people waiting in line, as some of them camped out for days in advance.”

Out of my System
Ensuring his fans are looked after properly is the number one priority in Tomlinson’s live career.

Noting that Tomlinson’s audience comprises mainly young women and girls, Rowland reveals that, at the artist’s insistence, a safety team has been added to the tour to ensure everyone that attends his shows is looked after. “They manage all the safety within the shows for the fans,” she explains. “They came in for the Wembley show last year and have been with us ever since – they’ve been beneficial to the running of the tour.

“When he played in South America, some of his fans were camping outside for a month. So we have a responsibility to look after them. Coming to a show should be a safe space, it’s where they find joy, and we have a responsibility to protect that.”

Manager Vines comments, “One issue that we came up against almost all last year was crushing and fans passing out. We adopted a system where we could communicate with fans, who could hold up a mobile phone with a flashing red-and-white sign if they were in trouble but then we’d see them all popping up.

“I don’t know whether some of that was a hangover of the pandemic where fans just weren’t used to being in venues. But we experienced a number of situations where hydration and temperatures in venues became an issue. I know Billie Eilish went through similar issues.”

“I get detailed incident reports after each show… So far on this tour, we haven’t had any issues with crushing or hydration, which is fantastic”

With Tomlinson determined to meet a duty of care toward his fans, Vines says that the team now sends a “considerable advance package” to promoters ahead of their tour dates. “Our safety team goes into venues in the morning and basically ensures that a number of different things are in place – making sure that water is given to the fans, where the water comes from, and at what points in the show it happens.”

And on the crushing phenomena, he reports, “We’ve worked out how many fans it’s safe to have without a secondary barrier. So we instruct promoters to have certain barriers in place to relieve that pressure and avoid crushing.”

He adds, “I get detailed incident reports after each show, which lets myself and my management team know exactly what happened, and so far on this tour, we haven’t had any issues with crushing or hydration, which is fantastic.”

Production manager Craig Sherwood is impressed by the way the tour has pivoted to protect the ‘Louies.’ “The welfare officers are vital for the young girls who are aged from, I guess, 14 upwards. They can get dehydrated and malnourished pretty quickly if they are camping out for days, so it’s important that we look out for their wellbeing,” says Sherwood.

Citing the extremes that the Louies will put themselves through in an effort to secure themselves prime positions at the front of the stage, Sherwood recalls, “The first show on our US tour was in February, and it was freezing, but we found out that girls had been camping out on the pavement for five days. It’s crazy, as we know these young girls are coming from all over the world to see Louis.”

However, Tomlinson’s connection with those fans is evident in the level of merchandise sales at each show. “It’s a huge part of our business,” says Vines. “In America, we averaged about $36 a head, and it’s not much shy of that in Europe – we’ve set a few national records in terms of spend per head. But we spend a lot of time on merch plans, and we do venue-specific drops and give it a lot of care and attention, as it’s a really important element of Louis’ business.”

“We don’t do dynamic pricing, we don’t do platinum ticketing, we don’t do paid VIPs, we don’t increase ticket prices on aisle seats – all those tricks that everyone does that most fans don’t know about: we don’t do any of those”

We Made It
Making sure that the Faith in the Future tour delivers Tomlinson to his growing legion of fans, PM Sherwood’s long association with artist manager Vines made him the obvious choice when the artist first began his solo career.

“I remember doing a lot of promo dates around the UK and US before we started touring properly,” says Sherwood of his work with Tomlinson. “In fact, one of the first shows I remember doing with Louis was in Madrid when he played in a stadium, and I could see it was a taste of things to come.”

The partnership between Sherwood and Vines is crucial. “In terms of the show growing, our biggest challenge is keeping costs down, because we’re extremely cautious on ticket pricing,” says Vines. “We don’t do dynamic pricing, we don’t do platinum ticketing, we don’t do paid VIPs, we don’t increase ticket prices on aisle seats – all those tricks that everyone does that most fans don’t know about: we don’t do any of those.

“So, when it comes to the production side of things, we need to be incredibly careful. But I’ve been working with Craig for a decade, and he knows the importance of trying to keep costs as low as possible. For instance, we’ll run the show virtually a number of times so Louis can watch it with the show designer, Tom Taylor, make comments and tweak things. Then we’ll go into pre-production. But we try to do as much in virtual reality as possible before we take it into the physical world.”

Sherwood states, “Basically, we started out with two or three trucks, but now we’re up to nine, and things seem to be getting bigger day by day.”

Thankfully, Sherwood has amassed a vastly experienced crew over the years, allowing them to handle even the most unexpected scenarios. “I’ve been touring since the dawn of time, but the core crew I work with now have been together since about 2010, and I trust them implicitly, so I leave it up to them who they hire, as long as they think I’m going to like them, and they’ll get along with everyone. So far, it has worked well,” Sherwood reports.

And that veteran crew has dealt with some terrifying weather extremes on the current tour, including a show at Red Rocks in Colorado where the audience were subjected to a freak storm with golf ball-sized hail stones injuring dozens of people.

“We need to tweak the rigging on a daily basis, as we move to different venues”

Elsewhere, the crew has had to act quickly when the threat of high winds in Nashville caused problems on that outdoor run. “We didn’t want the video screens blowing about above the heads of the band, so it must have been amusing for the audience to see us taking them down,” Sherwood reports.

Indoors in Europe, the environment has been more controllable. The production itself involves an A-stage set 180 degrees across the barricades, although Sherwood says that on occasion a catwalk is also used by the performers.

“It’s a great lighting show and fantastic for audio, as we have a phenomenal front-of-house sound engineer – John Delf from Edge Studios – who makes life very easy for the rest of us,” says Sherwood. He also namechecks Barrie Pitt (monitor engineer), Oli Crump (audio system designer), Tom Taylor (lighting designer), Sam Kenyon (lighting technical director), and Torin Arnold (stage manager), while he praises Solo-Tech for supplying the sound, and Colour Sound Experiment (CSE) for taking charge of lighting, video, and rigging equipment.

Indeed, CSE has ten personnel out with the Faith in the Future tour. “We have eight screens on the road – six on stage plus two IMAGS that we use wherever appropriate,” the company’s Haydn Cruickshank tells IQ.

“We need to tweak the rigging on a daily basis, as we move to different venues, but other than that it’s a fairly smooth process thanks to Craig Sherwood. He is old-school and planned and worked on the production very far in advance, which is a great scenario for all involved. Craig is definitely one of our favourite production managers to work with.”

“Post-pandemic, the number of long-haul flights still aren’t as frequent as they were. As a result, the production is being reverse-engineered”

Garry Lewis at bussing contractors Beat The Street is also a fan of PM Sherwood. “Craig split the European tour into different runs. So, from Hamburg to Zurich, we had two super high-decker 12-berth buses for the tour party and two 16-berth double-deckers for the crew,” says Lewis. “After the show in Athens, we still have the two super high-deckers, as Louis loves them – he prefers to spend time on the bus, rather than in hotels – but we also have two 12-berth super high-deckers for the crew, as well as another crew 16-berth double-decker.”

Lewis continues, “We’ve worked with Craig for a good few years, and we have a great relationship with him. He plans everything way in advance, so it means it’s all very straightforward for us with no issues. So, we use single drivers for each bus, except on the longer runs or when our drivers are scheduled for prolonged breaks, and then we’ll fly in extra drivers as needed.”

If I Could Fly
With the production travelling to Australia in early 2024, before shifting to Latin America, Andy Lovell at Freight Minds is gearing up to become involved with Tomlinson once again.

“We’ve never failed anywhere to open the doors on time, so we know we’re capable of getting things done, even if we have a late start at mid-day”

“We did the Central and South America dates on the tour last year, and onto Mexico,” says Lovell. “It was very challenging back then as we were still coming back from Covid, and various systems and infrastructure were in pieces. But it all went well in the end, as we kept an eye on things and worked on it every day to make sure we had solutions to everything that was thrown our way.”

Lovell continues, “Things on this tour kick in early next year for us. Historically, Australian services were quite reliable, as we could use any number of airlines. But post-pandemic, the number of long-haul flights still aren’t as frequent as they were. As a result, the production is being reverse-engineered with the budget being worked out before we can see what we can afford to take as freight, and then we try to plan accordingly.

“Similarly, in Central and South America there are still just a fraction of the flights operating, compared to pre-Covid, so that makes it very challenging. If there aren’t the flights to handle the gear, then you have to start looking at chartering aircraft, or alter your schedule, and that can become very expensive, very fast.”

With everyone working on the artist’s behalf to make sure the tour remains on track, being able to call on such experienced production experts is paying off on a daily basis.

Sherwood notes, “There are a few back-to-back shows over long distances that occasionally mean we don’t arrive at the next venue until 11am, rather than 6am. But we’ve never failed anywhere to open the doors on time, so we know we’re capable of getting things done, even if we have a late start at mid-day.”

Such dilemmas are not lost on agent Rowland. “It’s not so much the routing, it’s more like the timings, because Louis does have two support acts, so the show starts at 7 o’clock, and then when we’re done, we need to load out to get to the next show in good time for loading in the next morning and soundchecks, etc.”

Nonetheless, Sherwood admits that he loves the trickier venues and schedules. “Because I’m a dinosaur, I relish anything that makes things difficult or awkward for us on the production side of things,” he says. “I think everyone on the crew looks forward to challenges and finding the solutions to problems.”

“We have this amazing platform where we can put these bands in front of these audiences as a showcase that allows them to build these authentic new audiences”

Common People
Having amassed millions of fans through his association with One Direction, Tomlinson very much has a ‘pay it forward’ attitude to music and is building a reputation as a champion for emerging talent, wherever he performs.

“He’s a great advocate for alternative music,” says manager Vines. “Louis realises that he’s in an incredibly privileged position in terms of what he can create in terms of awareness. He loves alternative music and indie music, and he understands how hard it is for that music to be heard. But we have this amazing platform where we can put these bands in front of these audiences as a showcase that allows them to build these authentic new audiences. It’s a huge part of his love of music, wanting to help younger bands.”

Rowland agrees. “He took an act called Andrew Cushin – a very new artist – on the road in America with him as his support, and he’s doing the same for Europe. Louis is a fan and is championing his career.

Indeed, Tomlinson’s A&R skills have knock-on effects for his agent, too. “He asked me to confirm the Australian band Pacific Avenue as support for his Australian tour last year. The music was great and they didn’t have an agent, so now I’m representing them!” says Rowland.

Perfect Now
As the European tour speeds toward its conclusion, agent Rowland is enjoying every minute of it. “It’s incredible – they’ve really stepped things up,” she says, fresh from seeing the show in Athens and Paris. “They’ve got 6 hanging LED screens on the stage, and the whole production just looks polished and professional.”

And Rowland is especially excited about next year’s Latin American dates, which will deliver her first stadium shows as an agent. “The return to Latin America is going to be huge – Louis is playing arenas and stadiums in South America and Mexico: 15 shows across 11 countries,” she says.

“He loves his fans, and he loves performing for them, it’s as simple as that. He just loves being on the road and seeing how the songs connect live”

Vines is similarly enthused. Harking back to the Covid situation, when a show would go on sale, sell out, be postponed, and then rescheduled in a bigger venue, Vines says, “For example, in Chile, originally the show was scheduled at a 5,000-cap, half-capacity arena in Santiago. And what we ended up doing was three nights at 10,000-cap in that same venue.”

Vines contends that Tomlinson’s work ethic is outstanding. “He loves his fans, and he loves performing for them, it’s as simple as that,” he says. “He just loves being on the road and seeing how the songs connect live. In fact, the second album was very much written with the tour and live shows in mind – ‘This song could work live,’ ‘This one will open the set,’ ‘This is the one we can do for the encore.’”

Fearless
Another element to Tomlinson’s psyche has been his decision to visit places off the usual tour circuit. “Louis has a real desire to perform to fans in markets that are often overlooked,” says Rowland.

Manager Vines explains that while the Covid-delayed first tour allowed them to upgrade venues pretty much everywhere, “On this tour, we’re a bit more competent on venue sizes, but we still speculate a little bit in different territories. In Europe, for example, we’ve gone into the Baltics and a number of different places to test the markets there, while in America, we are looking at A and B markets but also tertiary markets as well – we go to places where people just don’t tour in America, just to see what the reaction is. That was something that very much interested Louis – to play in front of people who don’t normally have gigs in their town. So there’s been a lot of experimentation on this tour in terms of where we go and what room to play.”

“Louis also is extremely fan-focused in everything that he does. He comes at it from a perspective of ‘I want to take the show to them'”

That concept is something that Vines has employed before. “I manage a bank called Hurts who were pretty much overlooked by the British radio system and we have spent 15 years building a business outside of the UK. And that was built on going to play at those places where people didn’t normally go. They built to multiple arena level in Russia, for instance.

“If you can build fanbases in lots of different places, you have festivals that you can play every summer, as well as touring those places. It allows you to have more consistency over a number of years, by having more opportunities.”

Such a strategy found a convert in Tomlinson. Vines tells IQ, “Louis also is extremely fan-focused in everything that he does. He comes at it from a perspective of ‘I want to take the show to them,’ meaning he’s always more willing to take the risky option to try something out.”

And the results? “It’s a combination,” concludes Vines. “There have been a couple of places where we now understand why tours don’t go there. But there’s are more places where it’s worked incredibly well. For example, we enjoyed incredibly good sales in Budapest. And overall, it’s allowing us to get a clearer idea, globally, of where the demand is, which will help us when we go into the next tour cycle.”

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Wasserman Music unveils new exec hires

Global talent agency Wasserman Music has added four new executives to its team as it continues to grow its international workforce.

Brad Goodman and Taryn Haight join as Los Angeles-based SVP and VP of strategy, electronic music, respectively, while New York-based Sam Bartlett is named VP casinos/performing arts centres and Guy Mason is appointed as the firm’s London-based legal counsel, supporting its European Business Affairs team.

“The addition of Brad, Sam, Taryn, and Guy helps us continue to strengthen our organisation”

“Since the launch of Wasserman Music in 2021, we have always put a premium on our culture and on super-serving the artists we have the honour to represent around the world,” says Wasserman Music EVP & managing executive Lee Anderson. “The addition of Brad, Sam, Taryn, and Guy helps us continue to strengthen our organisation and solidify our place as the premier global music representation agency.”

Headquartered in Los Angeles, Wasserman operates across 27 countries and more than 62 cities, including New York, London, Abu Dhabi, Amsterdam, Hong Kong, Madrid, Mexico City, Toronto, Paris and Sydney.

Goodman, who comes on board following a lengthy stint at WME, brings a roster of clients, including Melissa Etheridge, “Weird Al” Yankovic and Ziggy Marley, and Bartlett joins after a decade in the music and comedy touring departments at CAA and ICM.

In a newly created role, Haight will oversee brand-building and non-touring opportunities for the company’s roster of electronic music artists. Haight previously spent more than a decade in dance music marketing at labels including Ninja Tune, Warner Records and Ultra Records, and most recently served as head of strategy for creative incubator HIFI Labs.

In addition, Mason joins from VCCP Group LLP, where he served as a commercial and intellectual property solicitor covering a multi-disciplinary international group of affiliate agencies in areas including advertising, marketing, branding and data.

 


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Central Cee signs with Wasserman Music

History-making British rapper Central Cee has signed with Wasserman Music for worldwide agency representation.

The West London native is the first British rapper in history to reach over one billion Spotify streams in a single year.

He is now represented worldwide by Wasserman Music agents Brent Smith, Lauren Marker, Tom Schroeder and Jesse Fayne.

Central Cee (born Oakley Neil Caesar-Su) released his first tracks in 2014, following them up with a long series of EPs and singles over the following years.

He released his first full mixtape, Wild West, in 2021, which was the top-selling British debut project of the year.

The West London native is the first British rapper in history to reach over one billion Spotify streams in a single year

His 2022 single Doja has racked up more than 450 million streams on Spotify alone and debuted at No. 2 on the official UK charts, while his 23 mixtape debuted at No. 1 on the country’s albums chart.

2023’s Sprinter, a collaboration with fellow English rapper Dave, debuted at No.1 on the UK singles chart with over 13 million streams in just one week, the most for any U.K. rap single in history. The track remained at No.1 for 10 consecutive weeks, making it the longest-running No.1 rap single in UK chart history.

A recent freestyle session with Drake recorded on NYC’s On the Radar streaming platform immediately went viral and landed on the Billboard Top 100, followed by a support slot on the final 16 dates of Drake’s current US tour – the highest-grossing hip-hop tour in history.

He has completed sold-out headline shows across the US, Europe, and Australia, and prominent slots on major American and international festivals, including Glastonbury (England), Governor’s Ball (NYC), Primavera Sound (Barcelona and Porto), Osheaga Festival (Montreal), Roskilde Festival (Denmark), Garorock (France), Les Ardentes (Belgium), and Rolling Loud (Miami, Rotterdam, Thailand, California, Toronto).

Central Cee also became the first-ever British male rapper to be included in XXL magazine’s influential annual Freshman Class list, in June.

Wasserman Music’s roster also includes Drake, Kendrick Lamar, SZA, and Childish Gambino.

 


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Music Mudder 2023 raises over £61,000 for charity

Music Mudder 2023, the music-inspired endurance event organised by Wasserman Music in partnership with Nordoff and Robbins, successfully raised over £61,000 for the charity.

Hosted by Capital’s Kemi Rodgers, the event saw more than 400 competitors across 52 teams from across the industry tackle over 40 obstacles at the legendary Camelot Events ‘Nuts Challenge’ course in Dorking, Surrey, on 15 September.

Oscar Tuttiett, competing on the AEG Presents B team, completed the 7km course in the fastest individual time in 53 minutes 34 seconds, helping the full AEG Presents B team take the top spot as the fastest overall team, with an average time of 1 hour, 3 minutes and 20 seconds.

Live Nation won the top prize for fundraising, with over £4,700 donated via their JustGiving page.

“The atmosphere across the day was buzzing and it was so great to see such camaraderie”

Sandy Trappitt, deputy director of fundraising, Nordoff and Robbins, says: “Music Mudder 2023 was incredible, with hundreds of people facing the mud head-on to help raise vital funds for Nordoff and Robbins. A huge thank you to everyone who took part and donated, and to Wasserman Music for partnering with us once again as we encourage the next generation of industry leaders to engage with our mission. All money raised from Music Mudder goes directly towards providing music therapy across the UK, helping people to connect and communicate through the power of music.”

Lucy Putman, agent, Wasserman Music, adds: “This year’s Music Mudder was the biggest, toughest and muddiest one yet! The atmosphere across the day was buzzing and it was so great to see such camaraderie as the teams took on slides, tunnels, trenches, scramble nets, mud lakes and more in the name of music therapy. We’re so happy to have raised over £61,000 for Nordoff and Robbins and we’re already planning for Music Mudder 2024, so register now to take on this unique challenge, raising money for an amazing cause whilst entering into some friendly, muddy competition with your peers.”

Nordoff and Robbins is the UK’s largest music therapy charity. The charity’s trained music therapists help break through the barriers caused by life-limiting illness, disability and social isolation, creating space for people to express themselves and find connection in society.

Registrations are now open for Music Mudder 2024, taking place on Friday 13 September 2024, at music-mudder.com.

 


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