The latest industry news to your inbox.


I'd like to hear about marketing opportunities


I accept IQ Magazine's Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

Top agents weigh up consolidation of the biz

Top execs weighed up the pros and cons of the continued consolidation of the agency business at the recent ILMC.

Alex Hardee (Wasserman Music), Alex Bruford (ATC Live), Charly Beedell-Tuck (Solo Agency) and Ella Street (WME) shared their views on the matter during the Agency Business 2023 panel, moderated by IQ Magazine‘s Gordon Masson.

The panel, which took place at the beginning of March, marked one year since Paradigm UK was acquired by Wasserman Music, with Hardee becoming part of the managing executive team.

He told ILMC delegates he thinks the convergence of the business will continue, leaving a handful of major agencies that operate on a global scale.

“I think that there’ll be fewer and fewer agencies and they’ll fold up into bigger ones,” said Hardee, who represents Liam Gallagher and Lewis Capaldi among others.

“I don’t know how you can survive on a big scale without having a global footprint moving forward because the Americans have rigged the game in streaming and the majority of the new acts that are going to be global acts will come from America and perhaps Korea because that’s where the streaming base is. Branding – even though a lot of its smoke and mirrors – seems to be quite important. We’ve got 300 people working at our company now, just in the UK.

“I think that there’ll be fewer and fewer agencies and they’ll fold up into bigger ones”

“I don’t know how you’d operate on a cottage industry level and retain a world-class band. You’d be under so much pressure from people. I think it will be very hard. I think that there will be four or five main agencies probably like there are four or five main record labels.”

While WME’s Ella Street stressed the importance of independents in a healthy marketplace, she echoed Hardee’s point about the need for agencies to have a global footprint.

“I think competition is obviously important and we need to support those independent agencies, venues and festivals to create a healthy marketplace for everybody,” said Street, a WME veteran who represents the likes of Keane, Goldfrapp and more.

“And obviously, some artists are looking for a more boutique experience and don’t want to sign with WME or Wasserman. But I think Alex does have a point; artists and managers are coming to us and wanting a global plan. We’re having to project 18 months, two years ahead. So unless an artist is just looking to just tour the UK at a certain level, they are eventually going to involve a bigger team – they’re going to be looking for that next part of the conversation.”

Bruford, founder and MD of independent agency ATC Live, argued: “I think it’s well proven now that you don’t need a major record label or a major agency or major management to be a global success. I think there are a lot of artists out there that have managed it with all kinds of different levels of teams. For me, what matters is the quality of the work that you do. Whether you deliver not for your artists, it’s not really about the size of the company.

“It’s well proven now that you don’t need a major record label or a major agency or major management to be a global success”

“For us, the continued consolidation is beneficial because rather than being focused on volume, we’re focused on the creative and strategic representation of our artists. And that’s really our priority, rather than how many acts we represent and how big the numbers are. We’ve had really positive responses to that from a lot of the biggest artists and managers out there who want to have their artists represented in that way. There are obviously different ways of doing it and it just depends on which path artists want to take with their careers. I do totally agree that you need a global footprint – we have one – and I think that that’s a really important part of the business. It’s just part of the game.”

Beedell-Tuck, a senior agent at John Giddings’ boutique Solo Agency, reinforced Bruford’s point about the bespoke service independents can offer artists.

“It’s about how you’re servicing your clients and what kind of service you’re offering,” said Beedell-Tuck, who works with artists ranging from Iggy Pop to Megan McKenna.

“If you’re represented by a smaller boutique agency, you’re likely to get a more tailored experience because, in my opinion, you get more of the agent’s time and you’re not just another number. Having a global footprint is very important but there are other ways of satisfying that.”

Since the panel took place, there has been more movement in the agency business, with Primary Talent returning to being an independent music talent agency following a management buyout.

Primary was sold to ICM Partners in 2020, which was subsequently acquired by CAA.


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

Touring powerhouses back Fair Ticketing Reforms

Live Nation, CAA, UTA, Wasserman Music and WME are among more than 20 music organisations to come out in support of ticketing reforms.

Fans & Artists Insisting on Reforms (FAIR) Ticketing is appealing for policymakers to combat ticket touts by giving artists the right to decide how their tickets can be sold, transferred and resold, and for speculative ticket selling and other deceptive practices used to sell tickets to be made illegal.

In addition, the coalition is demanding the expansion and and stricter enforcement of the 2016 BOTS Act and for resale sites that serve as a “safe haven” for touts – and knowingly sell tickets that are illegally acquired – to be fined.

Finally, it is calling for all-in pricing across all ticketing marketplaces introduced nationally so that fans know the full cost of a ticket plus fees right upfront.

“Bots and scalpers cause chaos in the current onsale process, leaving lots of fans disappointed,” says Michael Rapino, president and CEO of Live Nation, which launched the Fair Ticketing Act last month. “Artists are fiercely protective of their fans and we need to make sure laws help artists control their concert intellectual property and how their tickets are sold. That would be a big step forward in helping fans buy tickets at the prices artists set.”

“FAIR Ticketing reforms give more control over ticketing to the artists so they can get tickets to real fans and prevent unauthorised resellers from charging exponentially more than face value”

Other high-profile supporters of the reforms include The Azoff Company chair and CEO Irving Azoff, Wasserman Music EVP and managing executive Sam Hunt and WME global head of contemporary music Lucy Dickins.

“No one cares more about fans than the artists,” says Azoff. “FAIR Ticketing reforms give more control over ticketing to the artists so they can get tickets to real fans and prevent unauthorised resellers from charging exponentially more than face value. I hope Congress will pass legislation for the good of artists and their fans.”

“Ticketing can be a frustrating and confusing experience for fans, and technological advancements in the space often end up being double-edged swords,” says Hunt. “FAIR Ticketing reforms are a crucial leap toward creating a process that is equitable and transparent to all parties.”

Dickins adds: “There is no doubt that change is needed in the current ticketing ecosystem to protect our clients and their work. The FAIR Ticketing reforms would provide the necessary tools to empower artists and creators who know their fans best while putting an end to deceptive ticketing practices.”

The artist coalitions, management groups, music labels and agencies to have signed on to back the “artist and fan friendly reforms”, include the following:

724 Management
Black Music Action Coalition (BMAC)
Creative Artists Agency (CAA)
Crush Music
The Core Entertainment
Faculty Inc.
Full Stop Management
Gellman Management
Laffitte Management Group
Live Nation Entertainment
Music Artists Coalition (MAC)
Red Light Management
Songwriters of North America (SONA)
United Talent Agency (UTA)
Universal Music Group
Vector Management
Wasserman Music
Wolfson Entertainment Inc.


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

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.”


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

Best of 2022: Lucy Dickins – A tale of two cities

This festive period, we are revisiting some of our most popular interviews from the last 12 months ahead of the return of our daily IQ Index newsletter on Tuesday, 3 January. Here, WME’s global head of contemporary music and touring Lucy Dickins reflects on her path to the top…

Having left ITB just three years ago, Lucy Dickins’ rise through the corporate ranks has been extraordinary. Looking back on her first 25 years in the music industry, she tells Gordon Masson about her path to the top, transforming WME, the philosophy behind her clients’ triumphant return to touring and splitting her time between London and Los Angeles.

As the newly appointed global head of contemporary music and touring for WME, Lucy Dickins is one of the most influential people in the global music business. At the time of speaking to IQ, she has just relocated to Los Angeles and is sitting in her new Beverly Hills office suite, complete with a generously stocked bar. “I’m not going to lie, I’ve made a fair old dent in that already, and I’ve only been here a week,” she states, revealing the irreverent, self-deprecating charm that has helped her amass an army of allies throughout the music industry, as well as a steadily growing list of A-list talent.

Her impact on WME has been transformational. Having been appointed to head the company’s music division in London in June 2019, her leadership during the initial months of the pandemic prompted the corporate giant to promote her, one year later, to co-head of the company’s music division globally, alongside Kirk Sommer. At IQ’s press time she was elevated again, taking on the global head of contemporary music and touring role.

And while her confidence and skills as one of the world’s foremost talent agents are undisputed, there’s one significant person who questions her rapid ascent up the corporate ladder. “I’m my own worst enemy,” she admits. “I just get mad imposter syndrome. But then I start actually doing the role and I realise I’m really good at it.”

One long-term admirer is former WME chief Marc Geiger who reveals his campaign to lure Lucy to the company took patience. “To me, the available choices to helm WME in the UK were very low when considering the people who could rise up the ranks,” he says. “I was looking at who I thought had the upside potential to be both an executive and a super-uber signer.

“It’s like being a sports coach: you look at potential, and Lucy was the best choice in the world. I didn’t know how difficult it was going to be to convince her to leave ITB – that legacy and that family business. But I also felt that situation was holding her back from being one of the biggest agents in the world.”

“Everyone else saw my roster, but Marc saw something in me that I didn’t even know existed; that I could be a great leader”

Lucy contends, “The whole process of leaving ITB took about a year. WME approached me first, and then when the rumour got out that I might be looking elsewhere, everyone else came knocking at the door. But I really liked Marc Geiger. Everyone else saw my roster, but Marc saw something in me that I didn’t even know existed; that I could be a great leader. But to achieve that I needed to prise myself away from ITB, and he gave me the confidence to do that.”

Stating that she wanted to make her mark in any new workplace, she continues, “WME’s London office wasn’t necessarily in the best of places – it was a bit of a satellite operation, and if there was a scramble to sign a new act, you’d be up against CAA, and you’d be up against Coda, but you’d never hear the name WME. I wanted to change that and put my imprint on it, and while I didn’t quite know if I had that in me, Marc Geiger believed in me, so I just bit the bullet and trusted him.”

Now WME’s London operation is a very different place with Lucy helping to attract a number of high-profile agents to join the company, as well as a growing number of headliner clients. “It’s thankfully gone brilliantly well, and now everyone wants to be at WME,” she states.

Early days
Although the Dickins family is a rock & roll dynasty, Lucy reports that the no-nonsense way in which parents Barry and Gill raised her and artist manager brother Jonathan kept things grounded. “They were really humble and never made it feel that we were different to anyone else,” she recalls. “When we went to gigs, we never went through the front doors, but it wasn’t made out to be something special. Everything was always really pushed under the radar.”

Lucy’s recollection of her first gig was going to see Abba. “I cried because it was too loud,” she says. Dad Barry remembers it slightly differently. “The kids wanted to meet the band and were really excited. The band themselves could not have been nicer, but Jonathan and Lucy just went quiet – they couldn’t say a word. It’s probably the last time either of them was speechless.”

Another meet-and-greet involved a life-changing moment. “I wanted to be a boy when I was little, so insisted on my hair being cut really short,” says Lucy. “We met Bucks Fizz backstage, and they said, ‘Oh what a cute little boy’ because of my hair and the fact I was wearing these velvet pedal pushers and a little frilly shirt. And I had to tell them, ‘I’m not a boy. I’m a girl!’ And then that changed who I wanted to be.”

“She’s genuine, generous, and funny, and she can spot that sparkle in people that they often cannot see themselves”

Despite her parents’ attempts to normalise their lives, their popularity among childhood friends had a lasting impact. “All the kids wanted to come to our house because mum and dad were really cool – so my brother’s mates would always be around at our house, and my mates would always be around because it was just a cool house,” says Lucy.

While countless people in the live music industry want to be Lucy’s best friend, that accolade goes to Kim Ratcliff, who met Lucy in infant school. She attests to the family’s down-to-earth vibe but has countless tales of meeting artists.

“They treated me like one of their own and took me on holidays and to loads of concerts,” she says. “I remember meeting Claude Nobs in his house in Montreux in 1988 and having lunch with Tracy Chapman who was admiring the Swatch watches Lucy and I had bought. It was another world, but it was all very matter of fact, rather than made out to be special. And there were lots of surreal moments like that.”

Godparent to Lucy’s children, and the Barbara Dickson to Lucy’s Elaine Paige, Ratcliff contends that their friendship affords Lucy one of the few places where she can switch off from the industry and be herself. “She’s the best friend I could ask for – in more than 40 years we’ve never had a cross word. She’s genuine, generous, and funny, and she can spot that sparkle in people that they often cannot see themselves.”

But sometimes that sparkle just isn’t Lucy’s cup of tea.

When her teenage friends queued to meet 80s heartthrobs Bros at a record store appearance, Lucy found herself alone chatting to Aswad, whose promo session was a little less frenetic. “I just didn’t like Bros,” she says. “I always sort of went against the grain of what you’re supposed to like. So I had this long chat with Aswad and ended up going home with their record.”

“Between the ages of about 15 and 30, Lucy and I didn’t have much in common. But from 30 onwards, we’ve become really close”

With less than three years separating them, Lucy admits her brother influenced her musical tastes. “I have a strong memory of Jonathan playing music really loud in his bedroom. He did a Doobie Brothers remix, and I remember him playing them for ages before he came up with that tune. He’d play a lot of Neil Young, and then he’d go into Keith Sweat: he’d just play all different types of music. So that influenced me. But courtesy of my parents, I also grew up on a lot of Dylan and Diana Ross and Paul Simon, so I have pretty good breeding.”

For his part, Jonathan says, “Between the ages of about 15 and 30, Lucy and I didn’t have much in common. But from 30 onwards, we’ve become really close.” Indeed, when IQ speaks to Jonathan, he’s in the process of relocating from New York to Los Angeles into a neighbourhood near his sister – a move that he notes will also allow their children to spend more time together.

Accidental career
Despite music being the family business, Lucy initially railed against the idea of following those footsteps. “I didn’t want to go into music because all the men in the family were in it,” she declares. “I wanted to go into film. I wanted to be a distributor or a film agent.”

Dad Barry says, “When she finished school, I told her she had one week to find a job. When she didn’t, I brought her into ITB to help out, and she worked for me for a while before becoming David Levy’s assistant.”

However, the pressure of the family business could be overwhelming. “Jonathan was like a breed of racehorse because he had to be the next person to keep the Dickins name up there, which was shit for him because there was so much expectation on him,” says Lucy. “But that meant there was very little expectation on me. So while Jonathan might have been the thoroughbred, that allowed me to kinda quietly creep up on the outside.”

“I’d tell her that I wanted her at ITB because she was good, not because she was my daughter, so I was pretty tough on her”

With music running deep in the veins, pursuing other career paths soon became a fleeting distraction, but not before she explored other pathways in the business.

Her years at ITB were punctuated by a brief sojourn at record label PWL. “I vividly remember the job interview,” she tells IQ. “It was my first lesson in how to wing it.

“They put me in this boardroom and gave me a scenario where I was a product manager. I didn’t even know what a fucking product manager was. But they were obviously impressed by whatever bullshit I came up with, as I started out as a junior product manager and just kept getting elevated – label manager and then head of international.”

A wave of consolidation in the label business closed that chapter in Lucy’s career when she was made redundant. “I was back into the realms of ‘what do I want to do?’ Some people wanted me to move into management, and lots of people were knocking on my door saying ‘we want you to do this’ and ‘you should do that,’ but I wasn’t sure.”

A somewhat reluctant return to ITB led to some testing times. “I’d tell her that I wanted her at ITB because she was good, not because she was my daughter, so I was pretty tough on her,” confesses Barry. “For instance, I taught her how to promote a show, knowing that she might never use it but that it would help her when it came to negotiating deals.”

“I heard her yelling down the phone at a promoter ‘Woah woah woah! I don’t get paid enough to take this shit!’ At that point, I knew she was going to make it”

He adds, “It’s difficult being a Dickins – people used to say I only got acts because of my dad, Percy, even though he wasn’t an agent. And then they’d say I’d get them because of my brother [Rob] who ran Warner Music. So I can sympathise with the same accusations that get thrown at Lucy and Jonathan.”

Increasingly frustrated with the menial tasks delegated her way, Lucy finally confronted her father. “He told me, ‘If you’re such a fucking know-it-all, here’s a map: go and route a tour.’ And I was like, ‘Fuck you. I will.’ I sat there for about three hours, didn’t know what I was doing. But when I delivered my plan, he was pretty impressed. And that was the start of it.”

Asked when he knew that Lucy could make the grade as an agent, Barry recalls one key moment. “I heard her yelling down the phone at a promoter ‘Woah woah woah! I don’t get paid enough to take this shit!’ At that point, I knew she was going to make it,” he laughs.

Building a roster
Having taken on a couple of baby acts, Lucy says that the foundations for her entire career boil down to one band, Hot Chip, whom she still represents 20-plus years later. Recalling her introduction, Lucy points to record label executive Ferdy Unger-Hamilton. “He told me to check them out. They were supporting Athlete, I think, at Shepherd’s Bush Empire, and I just loved them.”

After meeting co-founders Joe Goddard and Alexis Taylor, they asked her to sit down with the rest of the band. “We met in a pub – the Newman Arms – and they were all lined up like at a fucking job interview,” says Lucy. “I didn’t have a roster, and I knew other big agents with rosters who were battling to sign them. But I’d really done my due diligence and thought about the strategy of how I’d do things for them. So when Alexis called later that day to say they’d chosen me as their agent, I just remember being beyond delighted and promising that I’d never let them down.”

That studious approach to signing acts, says her father, is a particular forte. “She puts together brilliant strategies and plans and has creative ideas that I’d never come up with, such as using unusual venues and stuff,” says Barry.

“When you’re an agent, you just need that one act that’s going to actually believe in you and give you a chance”

Lucy notes, “When you’re an agent, you just need that one act that’s going to actually believe in you and give you a chance. Hot Chip were that band for me. They have a very, very special place in my heart because they’re the band that basically made me who I am.”

Indeed, the act is giving Lucy one of her first transatlantic dilemmas. “I’m desperately looking at how to get back for their show on 23rd September, when I’m supposed to be in Aspen, because I’ve never missed a London show by Hot Chip. I even went to their Brixton show the day before my son was born,” she reveals.

Artist relations
Look down the names on her roster and it’s apparent that most clients have been with Lucy since the beginning of their careers, highlighting a trait that breaks one of the unwritten rules of the music business: don’t believe you can be friends with the artist.

“She’s friends with lots of her clients,” observes Barry. “She’s amazing at networking, she’s fiercely loyal, and people genuinely like her– she’s even remained the agent for some acts when they’ve decided to change manager, which is unheard of,” he adds

That doesn’t mean to say that Lucy Dickins hasn’t been dumped by clients.

“I lost a band called Tilly and the Wall,” she says. “They fired me because they wanted to play the Scala, and I didn’t think they were there yet. I’m in the game of selling shows out, but I’m not someone who pushes my artists to take out every single ticket in a market for the sake of playing a bigger venue. I want to play a venue that we’re going to smash because I want an artist to have a career. And I’m always quite vocal on that. Tilly and the Wall disagreed.

“I also lost Vance Joy, who had that one big song, Riptide. But I’m not crying over either of them, and I genuinely don’t think there’s been anyone else I’ve lost, so it’s not the worst record over 25 years.”

“It’s not about family: it’s about the best people. I work with Lucy because she’s one of the best, not because she’s my sister”

Rather than naming a side-of-stage moment, Lucy contends her “made it” moment covers a particular period in time, during the early noughties, when immersing herself in an emerging underground scene started to reap dividends.

“It was around that kind of Jamie T, Laura Marling, Blueflowers, Jack Peñate, Mumford and Sons time… there was a whole scene, and I was just very lucky to be in it, signing the acts who were just getting bigger and bigger. I had that entire scene sewn up, and that was a real ‘wow’ moment in my career.”

Jonathan also looks back on that time as key to his working relationship with his sister. “It really started with Jamie T,” he says. “He was looking for an agent. I recommended Lucy, but told him that if he only met her there would be a load of people in the business who would say she only got the act because of me. So I advised Jamie to go and meet a few agents on his own – I didn’t need to be there – and then he could come back to me and tell me who he wanted to hire. And he loved Lucy. So the choice was his, although you’re always going to get fuckwits who say otherwise.”

And addressing charges of nepotism, which he too has suffered, Jonathan adds, “It’s not about family: it’s about the best people. I work with Lucy because she’s one of the best, not because she’s my sister. If people don’t believe that or don’t get it, I don’t fucking care. We don’t run our lives based on other people’s opinions or prejudices.”

One and only
Her friendships with artists have delivered numerous additions to Lucy’s roster over the decades, thanks to word-of-mouth and her professional achievements, and it was a Hot Chip connection that led to her finding her most famous client.

“I had Hot Chip playing at King’s College, and Jack Peñate asked if he could come along and bring his friend, Adele, a singer. She sat on the steps at the back of the stage ordering Jack to run around and do things for her. She was hilarious, and I just really warmed to her.

“At the end of night, I said: ‘You’re a singer,’ and she asked if I wanted her CD. Then she literally tapped this bloke on the shoulder and said, ‘Excuse me, you know that CD I gave you? Give us it back, I need to give it to her.’ It was hilarious, and I remember it like it was yesterday.

“Actually, when I think back to a lot of the artists I’ve signed, it’s really vivid – I remember the tiniest details of meeting Mumford & Sons; I remember the minutia of speaking to Jamie T. Those moments are really stuck in my head. And now, when I meet new artists, I look for that kind of mad connection. And if I get it, I’m all in. It’s a gut thing.”

She continues, “Anyway, the day after that Hot Chip show, I was doing some housework, and I thought I’d give the CD a listen. Hometown Glory came on. ‘Fuck off, what is this?’ It was insane. Then Daydreamer came on and then My Same. I’d never heard a voice like it, so I rang my brother to let him listen, and he told me he’d already had meetings with her.”

“People don’t remember but it took a while with Adele – it wasn’t an overnight thing”

The rest may be history but it hasn’t all been plain sailing.

“People don’t remember but it took a while with Adele – it wasn’t an overnight thing,” she states. “The press were appalling, and I heard some really shitty comments, all about the way she looked. Thankfully, the world is changing now, but it’s Adele and people like Ed Sheeran who paved the path for everyone else.”

Her relationship with Adele has led to some incredible career highs.

“There was the 2011 BRIT Awards when Adele sang Someone Like You; Mumford and Sons won best album; and Laura Marling won best female. It was the best night of my life. I felt like I owned the BRITS,” she beams.

Other significant moments include: “Hot Chip playing the Astoria; Adele on the Australian stadium tour, and this year’s BST Hyde Park shows; James Blake winning the Mercury Prize; Mumford & Sons on the Gentlemen of the Road tour and also when they played my 40th birthday.

“And lately, this Jamie T thing. I think it’s pretty fucking impressive 15 years into his career that he lands his first number-one album, and now we’ve announced this huge London show for next summer, so I’m super-excited about his career going forward.”

Flying the nest
Having built such an impressive roster at ITB, the offers were never going to be lacking when Lucy Dickins decided to look to pastures new.

But it was not a simple decision.

Brother Jonathan opines, “Leaving ITB took a lot of courage. It was a big deal to come out from my father’s shadow. And it also took great humility for my old man to allow her to spread her wings without playing any kind of emotional card – it showed really great characteristics in both of them.”

“The old boys’ club meant promoters were always calling up dad about Adele, and that really pissed me off. ‘Barry didn’t sign Adele. I signed Adele. Why are you asking him if she’s available for things?’”

As difficult as the decision was, Lucy believes the timing was spot on. “I’m not sitting where I’m sitting today without being taught by the best person there is in the business. Dad is my absolute idol, and to learn from him was an absolute blessing.

“But I realised that I needed to move on. The old boys’ club meant promoters were always calling up dad about Adele, and that really pissed me off. ‘Barry didn’t sign Adele. I signed Adele. Why are you asking him if she’s available for things?’ It was really undermining.

“It’s definitely a misogynist thing because Jonathan doesn’t get the same shit. And it’s a major reason why I moved to WME – I had to show people that I’m not doing what I’m doing because I’m Barry’s daughter. I’m doing what I’m doing because I’m really good at it. And the proof has been in the pudding. I left ITB and I’ve gone from strength to strength.”

Commenting on Lucy’s new role from his artist manager perspective, Jonathan states, “WME’s a giant, but there was a lot of room for improvement, and that’s nothing against some very good agents who were in the company – stellar people, especially in the UK. But Lucy has given it an energy and a youthful focus that I think it needed.”

“Lucy is one of the only British people to run a global agency, and I know she’s going to be spectacular”

Recruiter Marc Geiger, whose departure as WME’s head of music facilitated Lucy’s latest promotion, was never in any doubt she would flourish. “The first time Lucy interrupted me five times in a conversation, I knew she was the right person – she took the verbal wrestling match and slammed me to the ground like a WWE champion,” he tells IQ.

“Lucy is one of the only British people to run a global agency, and I know she’s going to be spectacular. She has all the tools, it’s her time, and it’s incredible to watch where she and Kirk are going to take this thing. They get to run the world, and I think they’re going to be amazing.”

WME co-head Kirk Sommer is similarly enthused. “I’ve known Lucy a long time. I don’t know exactly how many years it’s been, but we always seem to have similar interests and admiration for the same people – we’ve shared Adele as a client for many years,” he says.

And reporting on the working relationship they’ve now established, he adds, “I don’t think I could hope for more. I don’t think it could go any better. You know, we laugh very hard. And we work a lot harder.”

Californian dreaming
Having enjoyed a whirlwind 2022 that has included Rex Orange County selling out Gunnersbury Park in London, and in the same city, Adele’s massively successful hometown return – headlining a female-only line-up at BST Hyde Park – Lucy has never been busier. “I’ve signed something nearly every week for the last three months,” she tells IQ. “I’m not going to be someone who just sits back and rests on their laurels because if I’m not relevant to my artists, or the people that I’m mentoring, I’m not relevant to the company.”

She cites Loyle Carner, and Max Richter as well as grime superstar Stormzy as new signings that prove the new WME regime’s plans are working well. “I’ve also got this new girl, Ruti, who I’m excited about. And since I landed in the States, I’ve had some meetings that hopefully will result in a few more new signings. I love music so I’m never gonna stop.”

“I’m an absolute nightmare for people in corporate – I swear like a trooper, I’m opinionated, I’m loud, but I’m 47 years old so that’s not going to change. My dad says I’m like a van driver”

Having only been in her new L.A. home for a few days, she understandably is reticent to start publicly naming areas where she thinks WME needs strengthening. Instead, she is scathingly honest about her own shortcomings. “I’m an absolute nightmare for people in corporate – I swear like a trooper, I’m opinionated, I’m loud, but I’m 47 years old so that’s not going to change. My dad says I’m like a van driver,” she laughs.

“But I think that’s probably refreshing in the corporate environment. Someone at WME asked me recently what is the one thing that I want everyone to know about me. It’s what you see is what you get. I’ll tell you straight. I’ll be upfront, friendly, and I’ll treat everyone the same. There is no other side of me.”

While the step-up to the top job at WME obviously entails a heavier workload, the relocation to Los Angeles has, she says, given her more of a life/work balance than she latterly had in London.

“Being a mum is the hardest bit with a job like this,” she states. “My kids are seven and nine and it’s, ‘Mommy, you’re always working.’ That was a major reason for moving to L.A. because the 17-hour days in London were brutal – when my kids were sitting having dinner, I’d be in another room on a Zoom call, and then I’d miss bedtime. It’s hard for kids to understand.

“Swapping the days around is a bit of a challenge. I start very early in the morning with the London side, but then my day finishes with everyone else in L.A., which means I can actually go out and have a normal life in the evening. It’s much better.”

“Even if I’m in London one week per month, I can be really productive”

Despite the improved home life, there are no immediate plans to make the Californian residence permanent. “I don’t want to feel that I’m not in London,” she pleads. “The bottom line is that I’m going to stay in Los Angeles for as long as I feel I’m needed and as long as they want me around. And in the meantime, I’m going to flip flop between L.A. and London – I’m flying back for my shows all the time this year. Even if I’m in London one week per month, I can be really productive.”

Pandemic planning
While many peers endured a tough time during the pandemic, Lucy used the time to concentrate on revolutionising WME’s London operations and, having been promoted to the top job globally, formulating plans for the company’s future.

“I was very lucky that a lot of my big acts were writing records,” she reveals. “I didn’t want to be one of those agents that was constantly rescheduling dates – none of us knew when Covid was going to be over, so I saw little point in rescheduling or rerouting until we knew things would be ok.”

She continues, “The fact my artists were not touring gave me the ability to structure my thoughts: that ‘why?’ and ‘where?’ and ‘when?’ stuff. And there were, of course, lots of conversations with promoters, because Covid was shit for everybody, and we’re determined to be the best partner to everyone we possibly can.”

With business now picking up, that calm, considered approach is continuing. “I’m always upfront with my acts, so I’ve been warning them about the bottleneck of shows at the moment. And if they want to tour, they need to look at what’s going to make them stand out from every- one else. And they need to think about the size of venues they’re going into because what they were worth pre-Covid versus post-Covid could be very different.”

“Part of my job is making acts aware that in different places there are different issues – you need to brief clients as thoroughly as possible before deciding on a tour”

She highlights the cost-of-living crisis and ticket prices as another concern. “Part of my job is making acts aware that in different places there are different issues – you need to brief clients as thoroughly as possible before deciding on a tour. But some acts are having a great time: Jamie T flew out the door, while Marcus Mumford ticket sales have been brilliant, for example.”

Business prospects
On a day-to-day basis, Lucy relies heavily on her core team, including assistant Phoebe Holley, Whitney Boateng and long-term colleagues James Simmons and Chris Payne, who also made the move to WME from ITB.

Simmons tells IQ, “You enter Lucy’s office with a dilemma, an issue you’ve been stressing about for days and you need her help, but in actual fact you spend 25 minutes in there, both chatting about everything other than the subject you had planned to talk about. Then, as her mobile rings (‘I’d better take this, babe’), she’ll solve your problem in 15 seconds flat, and you’ll leave the room far wiser than when you entered. In summary, she’s constantly good fun, it’s never boring and her advice is always spot on.”

Payne agrees, “Lucy is a force. Working with her for the last decade or so has been an exercise in keeping up with an unreal pace and breadth of ideas. There’s no problem that can’t be fixed, and her energy and positivity can make you think anything is possible.”

“I’ve never known anyone as fiercely loyal as Lucy”

Her assistant, Phoebe Holley, notes, “I’ve never known anyone as fiercely loyal as Lucy. We joke a lot that I’m her carer, and I regularly catch myself putting on an Essex accent and saying ‘babe’ at the start of every sentence. The way she has supported, pushed, and mentored me throughout my time working with her, is something I’ll never take for granted. Such a creative mind that runs at a thousand mph but never misses a trick. No problems, just solutions (and a few tequilas). There is absolutely no one like Lucy Dickins.”

That’s something that the newest member of her team, Whitney Boateng, is learning quickly. “To say it is a blessing to work with Lucy is an understatement, she is exceptional beyond words,” says Boateng. “Lucy’s work ethic, her drive, her ideas, and her ability to make sure everyone can still access her support are unmatched, and these are just a few things that make working for her so easy.”

Having assembled such a tight unit to run her operations, Lucy successfully integrated her mantra companywide in London and is now focussing on plans to do the same globally.

“We’re having an incredible year,” she reports. “We’re on course to where we were in 2019, which is pretty outstanding given what we’ve all just come through.”

“It would be remiss to say that I don’t think there’s going to be some hurdles next year. The cost of living and the sheer number of acts going out in the market is going to affect things”

However, she’s a realist when it comes to targets. “It would be remiss to say that I don’t think there’s going to be some hurdles next year. The cost of living and the sheer number of acts going out in the market is going to affect things. There’s going to be some bumps in the road, 100%. But I’m a massive believer that you just attack those when they come along.

“The bottom line is that people still want to go out and see live music, which is very refreshing. As long as the appetite is there with the fans, things will be good.”

Enthused about the future they can deliver for WME’s music division, Sommer says, “We’re just generally very excited about our plans. Obviously, it’s been a very difficult couple of years for the industry: nobody has been immune to this thing, but we’re back, and business is great.”

Keeping specific strategies close to his chest, Sommer adds, “We all know it’s a dynamic marketplace, and it’s always evolving. Thankfully, we have the support to kind of lean into different areas that we think are important to our clients.”

Noting the multiple avenues that WME can exploit, Lucy comments, “It’s not something that happens overnight, but the ability to be able to tell an artist that at WME there’s a million things that we can set up for them is massively exciting.”

“We’re trying to encourage younger talent to come through so we can develop new superstars in this agency”

Indeed, looking ahead to the next 25 years, it’s obvious that Lucy Dickins will be piloting an agency business that would have been unimaginable when she first cut her teeth back in 1997. “There are so many different areas where artists can grow their careers now, and at WME we’ve got experts in all of those areas. So we’ve got people working on Web3, and we’ve got people looking for opportunities in the metaverse, for example.

“That’s another of the many reasons I joined WME, because it allows you, as an agent, to pivot and learn different things so that you can offer your artists that full-service thing. And we’re going to use that to bring in new talent – both on the agents and the artist side.

“We’re trying to encourage younger talent to come through so we can develop new superstars in this agency. There are loads of really talented people at WME that just need that chance to prove themselves, so we’re ramping up mentorship and support systems to allow that to happen.”

With 25 extraordinary years under her belt and a job title that only a handful of agents will ever attain, Lucy’s goals for the future remain refreshingly simple.

“It’s just to be the best version of myself I can possibly be,” she concludes when asked about ambitions. “To learn as much stuff and meet as many people and make new relationships as much as I can. And that hopefully will reflect on the company, and the company will be in a great position.”

This article originally appeared in Issue 113 of IQ Magazine.


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

The New Bosses 2022: Steel Hanf, Proxy Agency

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 Bosess 2022 interview with Sönke Schal, head of people & culture at Karsten Jahnke Konzertdirektion (DE). The series continues with Steel Hanf, managing director of Proxy Agency, in the US.

Steel Hanf (30) is managing director of Proxy Agency, a Melbourne-based talent agency birthed in partnership with Untitled Group in January 2021. Eighteen months later, Proxy has booked over 1,000 gigs across Asia Pacific while nurturing a community of likeminded industry professionals and a roster of 80+ artists, of which Hanf is the agent for Hayden James, What So Not, SG Lewis, Lastlings, Cosmo’s Midnight, Partiboi69, Nina Las Vegas, jamesjamesjames, Memphis LK, X CLUB., among others.

A long way from his birthplace of New Jersey, Hanf was previously an agent with WME for five years across their Los Angeles and Sydney offices. Since 2020, he has participated in Diversity Arts Australia’s equity and inclusion programme called Fair Play, which is a crash course on diversity; safe and inclusive workplaces; and representation throughout the music industry.


Making the move to Australia is quite an unusual step for an American. How did that relocation under WME come about?
I was promoted to agent at WME when I was 24, and they asked me if I’d move to Sydney to help grow their Australian office. Moving to Australia wasn’t ever something I’d considered, but my growing interest in Australian music at the time was probably moving me in that direction without my realising it.

The company knew I had a good ear for finding new talent, and the idea of living and breathing the Australian culture that was producing these incredible global artists became an inspiring idea to me. Young Steel told himself the move would just be for two years and then he would move to London or go back to LA. But the more time I spent in Australia the more I realised how fluently I was able to manoeuvre the Australian industry and make strong relationships quickly. I was at every show, as many festivals as I could physically do, and the more I got amongst it and the more I felt people rallying around me, the more I felt like I was finally home.

You obviously spotted a gap in the marketplace when you launched Proxy Agency. Have you always had an entrepreneurial streak or has this been a leap of faith?
I’ve always had strong intuition in recognising opportunities. Australia’s agency landscape was missing something that I thought wasn’t existing yet: an agency with a global perspective on things that is concurrently nurturing the new wave of artists and industry professionals under a banner that means something culturally. So much of the up-and-coming world-class talent in Australia is found in very small pockets of culture. We recognise the value in signing talent at this level instead of waiting for them to be able to sell X amount of tickets, and we don’t try to change what they are doing, as the culture they represent is so meaningful and powerful.

It’s our job to augment what these artists are already doing and connect them with the right parts of the wider industry that share their values. The artists on our roster have a feeling of alignment with each other in one way or another; if it’s not by ‘genre,’ it’s by the energy they are putting out into the world. That’s why Proxy feels like a family; the artists on Proxy are each other’s biggest cheerleaders and there’s an energy behind it because the music matters and we’re representing the change we want to see in the world.

“We are one of the few agencies in Australia that has inclusion and diversity clauses in our contracts”

I’m guessing that Proxy is not quite as corporate as WME, but are there any significant ideas that you’ve taken from your previous employer into your own business?
I’m very grateful for my years with WME; it’s how I learned the global live business and how to be an agent at the highest level. I was able to see what works and what doesn’t work and apply that knowledge to my vision for Proxy. Operating in a corporate structure came very naturally to me, but it wasn’t until I left that setting was I able to properly spread my wings and navigate the industry in the ways that feel most intuitive to me. Proxy’s spirit is very independent, for the artists and for the people.

Being the partner of a recognised promoter might raise a few eyebrows. Is there an ethos that allows Proxy to happily deal with Untitled’s rivals?
The agent/promoter model is not a foreign concept in Australia like it is in most parts of the world. Because the industry is so small here, there is mutual respect for each other’s priorities because at the end of the day, everyone is in this for the talent, the creativity, and putting on the best shows possible. Our job as agents is to always be an objective third party and work with the promoters that put forward the best opportunities for our artists. Our ethos is that the connection is not a conflict of interest but a conflict for interest.

While Proxy is a part of the Untitled Group, the agency runs and operates completely independently. We are artist-first; external promoters have recognised that through their dealings with us and our actions, and Untitled respects when we pass on their offers in favour of competitors.

Proxy has had a rapid rise to prominence, but what has been your biggest highlight so far?
Signing Hayden James who is an A-level festival headliner in Australia, in a very competitive pursuit, was a massive moment for me and Proxy as a whole. Given how fresh Proxy is in the market, being able to sign headliner-level talent this early, [helped affirm] that our presence is resonating the way we want it to at all levels of the industry. The resources that signings like these provide starts a chain reaction of rapid growth via new hirings and more signings at both the established- and development-level. Recent moments include signing UK artist SG Lewis for Asia Pacific representation and signing Australia’s electronic maestro Willaris. K.

“Ensuring indigenous cultures are hired, signed, and supported in our industry is of utmost priority for us”

As a new boss, what is one thing you would change to make the live entertainment industry a better place?
Requiring a rule of kindness, respect, social impact, and understanding in our dealings with one another!

Fair Play sounds like a fantastic initiative. What does it mean in real terms, and how does its guidance affect your everyday activities?
Ensuring diversity, inclusivity, and safe space workplaces has been an ethos we carry into the office every day. Proxy’s staff is more than 70% female-identifying, and we are one of the few agencies in Australia that has inclusion and diversity clauses in our contracts. We know our artists are not interested in playing on events that do not have appropriate representation throughout the bill, and our roster is very diverse across many walks of life. We have so much heavily sought-after talent, which means we have the leverage to start these conversations across the industry and make a difference. Being in Australia means we are also operating on the stolen land of the traditional owners, so ensuring indigenous cultures are hired, signed, and supported in our industry is of utmost priority for us.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time? Is there scope for Proxy to expand internationally, for instance?
I will still be heading up Proxy, and I see us growing in every direction. It’s crazy that we’ve only just written the first chapter of Proxy’s story. I’ve always seen Proxy as more than a booking agency, so expanding the scope of our business across the media landscape and using these resources to create more impact and provide more for our clients is a top goal of ours. Expanding internationally is something we’ve already begun doing in Asia. Like I know with my artists’ touring strategies, if things get so loud domestically, then they will inevitably bleed out internationally. Australia is a global tastemaker market.

See the full list of 2022 New Bosses in IQ 114, which is available now. To subscribe, and get access to our latest issue and all of our content, click here.


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

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.”


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

IFF ’22: ‘Agents and promoters must stick together’

Top agents and festival promoters say that the spirit of collaboration cultivated during the Covid-19 pandemic must be maintained if the industry is to overcome the next set of challenges.

The discussion took place today at IFF (International Festival Forum) during the panel Festivals & Agents: Happier than ever?, which featured Nikolaj Thorenfeldt (Smash! Bang! Pow!, DK), Chris Payne (WME, UK), Adele Slater (Wasserman Music, UK), Rauha Kyyrö (Fullsteam Agency, FI) and Cindy Castillo (Mad Cool, ES).

Fullsteam’s Kyyrö told IFF delegates that the bright side of the pandemic was an increased sense of understanding and patience among colleagues in the business.

“What I’ve noticed during the summer and autumn is that none of the companies to me seem to be working 100% efficiently,” she said. “I think everyone’s still struggling a little bit with how to set up their business and how to work internally so this is making us a little bit more patient. I’m no longer getting so many angry emails about not responding right away. I might get a reminder, but it’s usually a kinder reminder.”

Wasserman Music’s Slater said the pandemic also gave promoters and agents the chance to get to know the person behind the email address, thus humanising business relationships.

“We all had to club together because no one really knew what was going on at any point,” she said. “With promoters, once you’d rescheduled your shows, you would check in on them and see if they were okay and actually get to know the person rather than asking for a pencil. You had time to get to know people. It helped relationships with people rather than [feed into] the whole agent versus promoter [thing].”

Thorenfeldt from Smash! Bang! Pow! agreed, adding: “Some of the best conversations I’ve had with various business partners was when we actually got to talk about stuff that’s not numbers of whatever. You actually started to get to know certain relationships a lot better, which I think has been incredibly fruitful in a lot of ways since we returned to business. You found out what’s important in some of your work relationships and got a better idea of what sort of pressure each of us is feeling in our everyday life.”

Mad Cool’s Castillo said she personally experienced this newfound empathy from industry peers when the promoter cancelled Mad Cool Sunset.

“I think we have become more willing to look for solutions when problems arise”

The festival was called off after organisers were unable to find a “suitable” replacement for Rage Against The Machine, who recently cancelled all forthcoming dates in the UK and Europe.

“Four or five years ago, the response probably would have been ‘You’re gonna pay me everything now’,” explained Castillo. “Now, 95% of people said ‘Okay, Cindy, don’t worry. We understand the situation. It’s a shame this has happened. Let’s look for a solution.

“I think we have become more willing to look for solutions when problems arise. Maybe a couple of years ago, there would have been more aggressive communication with people demanding what they want but now there’s understanding.”

And it’s not just the bonds between agents and promoters that have strengthened because of the pandemic, according to WME’s Payne.

“We’ve got closer as a team internally because we’ve had to help each other. It might be that one of my colleagues has got a show but I’ve got a better relationship with a promoter and I’ll go down and help a little bit. And hopefully, that’s happening in the promoter world as well. It makes you just run harder and faster and better together.”

The panel agreed that, going forward, different forces in the industry must continue to work as one in order to overcome issues such as soaring costs, staff shortages and talent drains.

“These are crazy circumstances and we need to try and compromise,” continued Payne. “So I’m hoping compromises are a bigger part of everyone’s conversations, from agents to promoters, because we’re in an ecosystem and you don’t have one without the other.”

Thorenfeldt from Smash! Bang! Pow! added: “We want to help great artists achieve their wildest dreams – that’s the mutual goal for all of us. I also think that if there’s a mutual problem we need to look at it together, as well.”


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

Lizzo can keep $5m Virgin Fest fee, judge rules

Lizzo can keep her US$5 million booking fee for 2020’s cancelled Virgin Fest in Los Angeles, a California judge ruled earlier this month.

The company that was promoting Virgin Fest, VFLA Eventco LLC, filed a lawsuit against WME in July 2020, as well as artists Lizzo, Ellie Goulding and Kali Uchis, saying the parties had agreed to return monies they had been advanced in the event of cancellation due to “an uncontrollable factor”.

The acts had been scheduled to play the debut outing of the festival at the Banc of California Stadium (22,000-cap.) and Exposition Park (160-acre) in LA on 6 and 7 June 2020 before it was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

After a two-year legal dispute, LA Superior Court judge Mark Epstein ruled on 1 September that the cancellation clauses added by attorneys for WME to its clients’ performance contracts shifted the financial risk of cancellation onto the festival.

Attorneys for WME insisted on several revisions to the original contract – especially to the force majeure clause – to make the contracts more “artist friendly.”

Thanks to those revisions, Lizzo, Goulding and Uchis are not required to pay back performance fees that were paid in advance of Virgin Fest.

Following the ruling, Virgin Fest owners Marc and Sharon Hagle are looking at financial losses in the festival business of approximately $23 million, court records show.

The festival was funded by the couple – who made their fortune in commercial real estate – and run by Jason Felts, CEO of the Virgin Group’s festival arm.

Richard Branson’s involvement with Virgin Fest was mostly that of a figurehead, promoting the festival online.

Agents at WME — including former co-head of music Marc Geiger, head of festivals and partner Josh Kurfirst, and Lizzo’s agent Matthew Morgan (who now represents her at UTA) — were vocally sceptical about Virgin Fest’s prospects for success, according to emails and communications produced in the lawsuit.

WME insisted that Lizzo be paid 100% of the fee prior to the festival announcing her as a headliner

Geiger warned Felts that staging the festival in Los Angeles, a market dominated by Live Nation, Goldenvoice and several well-established independents, was a bad idea.

Regardless, Felts pushed ahead with the festival and after Virgin Fest talent buyer Zach Tetreault raised Lizzo’s performance fee three times, ultimately landing on $5 million, the artist accepted the offer.

Goulding (represented by WME partner and global co-head of music Kirk Sommer) accepted $600,000 to perform at the festival and Uchis (represented by WME partner Kevin Shivers) agreed to play for $400,000. Another $300,000 was paid to WME to book five additional acts, among them the Marcus King Band and Banks.

WME insisted that Lizzo be paid 100% of the fee prior to the festival announcing her as a headliner and that Uchis and Goulding be paid 50% upon signing and the remaining 50% paid 90 days prior to their performances, emails produced for the lawsuit show.

Hoping to avoid any additional risk, Kurfirst instructed attorneys at WME in February 2020 to make sure the contracts were “100%,” meaning WME artists would be paid even if the festival was cancelled.

A month later, all events were indefinitely postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and WME steeled itself for a fight.

“One or more of the artists including a headliner are now going to take a position and not return the money,” Sommer wrote in a 4 June email to Goulding’s managers at TAP Management. “We have all seen unsuccessful festivals collapse and attempt to claw back artists guarantees, this festival was addressed upfront with stronger language and deposit terms for this reason.”

On 12 March 2021, Epstein issued an order that said the agreements the parties signed protected WME from being sued for what is essentially a dispute between the artists and the promoter.

That meant Epstein later dismissed four counts filed against WME by Virgin Fest including conversion and violations of California’s unfair competition law as well as a request for punitive damages.

The judge found that WME was simply following the wishes of its clients Lizzo, Goulding and Uchis, noting that WME did agree to return money to Virgin Fest for other clients who instructed them to do so.


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

Endeavor appoints new WME co-chairs

Endeavor has named Richard Weitz and Christian Muirhead as co-chairmen of WME.

Weitz, who represents an array of musicians, actors, comedians, writers, producers and directors, joined the agency in 1997 and was promoted to partner in 2002 when he was also named head of its television packaging department. Prior to Endeavor, Weitz served stints at InterTalent Agency and ICM.

“WME is home to me, and I’m thrilled to carry on its century-long history and help set the course for its next 100 years,” says Weitz. “I’ve had the privilege of working with some of the most talented artists, agents, and industry executives for over 25 years. I’m humbled to have this incredible opportunity to expand on those relationships and introduce new ones, while working with Ari Greenburg, Dan Limerick, and the entire management team to create further value for our clients.”

Muirhead, meanwhile, has been with the company for 18 years and has served as Endeavor’s chief communications officer (CCO) since 2014. He first joined the then William Morris Agency in 2004 and became its communications lead in 2008.

Following its merger with the Endeavor talent agency in 2009, Muirhead became WME’s head of communications and was later named a partner. He previously worked in international publicity at Warner Bros. Pictures.

“The appointment of Richard and Christian marks a truly transformative day for WME”

“Having started my journey at WME, I’ve had a front row seat to the evolution of the entertainment business and the growing influence of talent in shaping it,” says Muirhead. “I look forward to leveraging the full scale and depth of Endeavor’s network on our clients’ behalf, forging connections and creating opportunities to help them build industry-leading brands and businesses.”

WME’s music roster includes acts such as Adele, Foo Fighters, The Killers, Stormzy, Olivia Rodrigo and Bruno Mars.

“The appointment of Richard and Christian marks a truly transformative day for WME, which continues to be the inspirational core of Endeavor,” says the company’s president Mark Shapiro. “I’ve seen first-hand their innate ability to lead, to build meaningful relationships, and to leverage the broader Endeavor network in service to our clients’ aspirations. Coupled with their deep understanding of the entertainment landscape, I can say with certainty that there are no better or more complementary individuals to now lead the agency.”

The duo succeed chair Lloyd Braun, who plans to step down at the end of 2022.

“I would like to thank Lloyd for his leadership over these past three years, navigating WME through the pandemic and setting the agency on course for its best financial year on record,” adds Shapiro. “Lloyd has left an indelible mark on WME and laid a strong foundation for the future.”

WME recently elevated Lucy Dickins to the position of global head of contemporary music and touring.

Endeavor reported continued growth across its portfolio in the second quarter of 2022, prompting the company to increase its full-year forecast for adjusted EBITDA. Endeavor, which also owns sports agency IMG and the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), among other properties, generated revenue of US$1.313 billion for the quarterly period ending 30 June, 2022.


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

WME promotes four to agent in music and touring division

WME has promoted four team members to agent in its Contemporary Music and Touring division: Justin Edwards, Mary Hannon, Phoebe Holley and Matt Smith.

“We are thrilled and beyond proud to announce these much-deserved promotions,” says Lucy Dickins, global head and Kirk Sommer, global co-head of WME’s Contemporary Music and Touring.

“Justin, Mary, Phoebe and Matt have all excelled in what they do and have brought tremendous passion, energy, and creativity to their work for our artists and internally to the WME team. It’s so exciting to see their growth, and we are honoured to have them be part of the future of WME.”

Justin Edwards’ career at WME began in 2017, and he has worked alongside six agents in six unique departments of WME. He currently handles The Revivalists and The Main Squeeze, alongside their WME agent teams, and oversees bookings for over 75 festivals for the agency, including Bonnaroo, Summer Camp, Wonderstruck, Wonderbus, Capitol Hill Block Party, SunFest, Rifflandia, Mempho, and Desert Daze. Edwards specialises in booking WME’s alternative/rock/indie clients on festivals across North America and his focus is to grow WME’s contemporary music presence in Nashville.

“Justin, Mary, Phoebe and Matt have brought tremendous passion, energy, and creativity to their work”

Mary Hannon started her career at WME in 2016 in the mailroom after graduating from Ohio State University. She worked in country music in WME’s Nashville office, and in 2020, transferred to the Beverly Hills office to work in hip-hop, initially in the festival department and most recently working for the co-head of hip-hop and R&B, Caroline Yim. Hannon’s focus is on booking WME’s Music roster and will work closely on client teams including Anderson .Paak, DOMi & JD Beck, Earl Sweatshirt, Jhené Aiko, Kehlani, Rico Nasty, Steve Lacy, Syd, Willow, and many others.

Phoebe Holley originally joined WME in 2019 and began working with Lucy Dickins at the beginning of 2021 with clients Knucks, Abra Cadabra, Ruti, Chrissi, Bonnie Kemplay, and Sam Akpro. A graduate of UHI, Holley grew up in Spain and returned to her native UK to pursue a career in music, booking a club night at King Tuts and showcasing the likes of Lewis Capaldi, The Snuts and Vistas. She is currently based in the Beverly Hills office.

Matt Smith joined WME’s London office in 2018. He served as the assistant to Steve Hogan, Ella Street, Andy Nees, Jenna Dooling and Brendan Long, and in 2021 was promoted to agent trainee working with Steve Hogan on tours for clients such as Peggy Gou, Eric Prydz, Groove Armada, ARTBAT, Madeon, Porter Robinson, and many more. With his promotion to agent, Smith will continue to be based in the London office, working in the electronic music department and booking shows across various European territories.

WME’s global head of contemporary music and touring, Lucy Dickins, is profiled in the latest issue of IQ, available to read here.


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.