The LGBTIQ+ List 2022: Georgie Lanfranchi, Only Helix
The LGBTIQ+ List 2022 – IQ Magazine’s second annual celebration of queer professionals who make an immense impact in the international live music business – was published in the Pride edition (issue 112) this month.
The July 2022 issue, which is available to read now, was made possible thanks to support from Ticketmaster.
To get to know this year’s queer pioneers a little better, we interviewed each individual on their challenges, triumphs, advice and more.
Throughout the next month, IQ will publish a new interview each day. Catch up on the previous interview with David Jones (he/him/his), chief information officer at AEG in the UK.
The series continues with Georgie Lanfranchi (she/her/hers), tour manager/production coordinator at Only Helix in the UK.
Tell us about a personal triumph in your career
I have had the privilege of looking after so many outstanding performers and crew but my journey with Years & Years, growing from being their production coordinator to their tour manger, has been by far the most rewarding of my career. Being queer and working for one of the biggest gay icons of our time is a true honour, especially when it’s someone as talented, authentic, and kind as Olly [Alexander, Years & Years]. He is a truly special individual and that trickles down to make a wonderfully remarkable touring family. Working their set on Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury in 2019 was a real top 10 highlight of my life.
What advice could you give to young queer professionals?
Try your best not to hide who you are. This can often be instinctive for queer people but the industry is changing, opinions are changing and the best way to help drive that forward is to be visible. The more diversity we push forward, the more that follows. The main advice I give to anyone, in general, is to be kind, be a team player and take a moment every day to take in how amazing our jobs really are.
“I actually feel that being a woman is more of a hindrance [than being queer] in this industry”
What’s the best mistake you’ve ever made?
Without sounding too corny, every mistake I have made is the best mistake, it’s the best way to learn how to do things right. Those cringy, stomach-dropping, mortifying moments that stick with you when you realise you’ve messed up stick with you for a reason. You don’t make those mistakes again! I’ve made a lot of them, and I will make more in the future, and I will be a better learner and teacher for it.
Tell us about a professional challenge you’ve come across as a queer person in the industry
I’ve had to think quite hard about this. I’m not sure I have ever had any challenges specifically because I am queer, as I actually feel that being a woman is more of a hindrance in this industry, but it can be hard to distinguish I suppose, the two are probably quite entwined. I have been incredibly lucky to work on tours that have been very inclusive and with people who have never made it a problem. Don’t get me wrong, I still get a lot of ignorant questions from people that perhaps don’t (knowingly) have queer people in their life, or even bother to think about the answers before they ask the questions, but I’d say you’d be hard pressed to find a queer person that doesn’t!
One thing the live industry could do to be a more inclusive place
There are a lot of incredible people who are creating the spaces they need to feel included within the industry, so get involved! And if you can’t find the space you need, go and make it! I think it’s so wonderful to see the industry changing to represent marginalised groups as a whole, and people are finally starting to feel seen and heard. I think what we really do need to remember to do is not to isolate ourselves within these spaces. The industry itself will not grow if we pocket ourselves into our groups; we need to make sure everyone is included, and everyone supports everyone else’s cause so that we are integrated into the industry at large. This is not a courtesy we have been given in the past, but to move forward, we have to be better.
“The industry itself will not grow if we pocket ourselves into our groups; we need to make sure everyone is included”
Causes you support
Music Support, CALM, The Trevor Project, David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, WWF, Rainforest Alliance.
The queer act you’re itching to see live this year
The list is extensive but I’m normally on the road, so I tend not to torture myself looking up gigs I’ll never be able to go to! That is the joy of festival season though; seeing a plethora of artists you never thought you’d get to see. I’ve still yet to see Tash Sultana after their gig got cancelled due to the pandemic… maybe one day!
Your favourite queer space
It will forever be my first queer outing – Flamingos Nightclub in Bristol – which is sadly no more. The first time I went was with two friends, we all told our parents we were going to each other’s houses and hopped on a train with some IDs from girls a couple of school years above us. ‘Drink the bar dry’ was Flamingos trademark, and for £20 we got in and gave that a good go! I felt a real absence of queer spaces growing up, from the countryside towns I grew up in and even the cities I frequented in my university years. It’s so important to keep these spaces going so queer folk have a safe space to go, and a place to find and express themselves. Support your local queer spaces!
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Jess Kinn on Years & Years, One Fiinix Live and 2022
One Fiinix Live agent Jess Kinn has spoken to IQ about her first year at Jon Ollier’s agency, her drive for a more inclusive industry and the challenges facing the agency business in 2022.
Kinn was the first agent to be hired by Ollier at One Finiix Live, who hailed her an “exciting and forward-thinking talent with a fantastic reputation and a huge future ahead of her”.
She joined the agency from livestreaming company LiveNow, having worked on some of 2020’s biggest music live streams, such as the Pete Tong Heritage Orchestra, Gorillaz and Dua Lipa’s record-breaking Studio 2054.
Kinn began her career with the Leighton Pope Organisation and worked her way up from receptionist to agent at Paradigm (formerly Coda Agency).
Her current roster at One Fiinix Live comprises more than 20 artists including Years & Years, Cat Burns, Mallrat, Tessa Violet, Beka and July Jones.
How did you come to be the first agent at Jon Ollier’s One Finiix Live agency?
JK: I heard really great things about Jon – everyone said he was one of the ‘good ones’. So I just called him up in November 2020 and asked for a chat – I think he thought it was about live streaming. I said, ‘Look, Jon, you don’t know me, but this is what I’m doing, this is who I am’. He invited me for lunch and we had this amazing four-hour chat about everything; our love of music, what we wanted from a company and the kind of culture we wanted to build. It just totally made sense. The next day we were both like ‘yeah, let’s do this’.
You’ve been at the agency for a year now. Tell us about some of the successes you’ve had with your roster in the past 12 months.
Olly [Alexander, Years & Years] had an amazing year. I guess it started with [Channel 4’s hit drama] It’s a Sin and then we had the Elton John performance at the Brits 2021 and the New Year’s Eve BBC show. It was amazing that we could do a 15-track show, featuring Kylie Minogue, Pet Shop Boys and queens from RuPaul’s drag race. It was a real celebration of all that we’d all done that year and that geared us up for the album [Night Call] which charted at number 1 [in January].
We have festivals coming up in the summer and our arena tour at the end of May. Cat Burns has had an incredible start to the year. We put up her debut headline show at Omeara which sold out in 30 mins so we put up another and it sold out in an hour. We’ve got a ton of exciting supports and festivals coming up this year.
“I think we’re all going to have to be malleable and adaptable this year”
Covid and Brexit are presenting huge challenges for touring, do you have a strategy to navigate the pitfalls?
Jon and I were quite sure that a lot wasn’t going to happen at the beginning of this year so we made a decision to avoid booking shows in early Q1. I’ve booked a lot of my European tours from May onwards. Especially US-based or Australia based artists I’m touring them from Q3 onwards as it still feels risky. I’m making sure my artists only play shows when it makes total sense and everything aligns. It’s about thinking: ‘why are we doing these shows? Is the world ready to hear this artist? Is the road ready to see this artist live? Is the timing right?’ This resonates more now than it ever did because every artist is out touring this year.
How are you dealing with the oversaturation of the concert market?
Venue availability is just crazy. But I think as more changes happen with, say, US acts having to push back their UK/EU dates, there will be more availability. You’ve got to be thinking so much further ahead than you ever did. I think we’re all going to have to be malleable and adaptable this year. You’ve got to be quick to change plans and try to find different ways to do things. If you can’t get the venue that you want, try and find a more unique location. If you’ve missed a certain market, try another one. It’s important to remember that things can’t be perfect, you can only do what you can do and you can only plan so much.
“I think we need to make sure that every show is special so that fans feel confident to buy and want to come to shows again”
UK promoters have reported an astounding amount of no-shows since the industry reopened. What has been your experience with this?
All of my newer artists like Ellie Dixon, Beka, Michael Aldag sold out their shows in 2021 and there weren’t many no shows. I think it was a case of good timing. Jon [Ollier’s] idea was to follow the sun around so the last show I booked was at the end of November. Post-Nov-Dec was when things started plateauing again with Covid. So, again, it’s about making sure that you only book things with intention and good reason.
How have you found ticket sales since the industry reopened?
Across the board, it has been hard to sell tickets. The amount of artists touring vs the amount of money people are able to spend on shows makes it super hard. Also, buyer confidence has plummeted because so many fans have bought tickets to shows that have been moved or cancelled. I think we need to make sure that every show is special so that fans feel confident to buy and want to come to shows again.
“Live streaming from an empty venue – which feels like a reminder of a time when we couldn’t attend shows – won’t continue”
With promoters having to honour line-ups that were booked two years ago, are there enough opportunities in 2022 for the newer artists on your roster?
There are definitely far fewer opportunities this year. I’m telling my artists and managers that we should aim for two or three opportunities that we really want and then try and build around that. They’re all aware of how difficult this year is – it’s going to be rough and tumble. Things will come late, plans will change. Last year, when promoters were going through the worst of it – not even knowing if they had jobs I checked in on them and made sure they were ok rather than demanding slots on festivals that might not happen.
You worked in the livestreaming business during the pandemic boom. What is your point of view on the format now?
It depends. Live streaming a concert from an empty venue is very different to live streaming a concert with an audience there. That’s why the Dua Lipa [Studio 2054] stream and the Gorillaz stream worked so well because they were hybrids between a music video and a live stream and something you could never see live. Live streaming from an empty venue – which just feels like a reminder of a time when we couldn’t attend shows – won’t continue. You just cannot replace going to a concert and being there in person.
“What I’ve realised now, at One Finiix Live, is that my main asset is being myself”
How have you found gender diversity in the industry, during your career?
It has been really hard. It’s still a very male-dominated industry. I’ve been surrounded by female assistants but few female agents or bookers and so I’ve often been the only woman in the room with artists, managers and promoters. I’ve been told I have a big personality, I’m confident and outspoken, but I feel that’s been misjudged at times and used against me, especially because I’m a woman. I used to feel like I had to dim myself down to make others feel comfortable, what I’ve realised now, at One Finiix Live, is that my main asset is being myself.
Who are some women you admire in the live music industry?
Kelly Chappell is a huge inspiration and should have also won ‘best speech’ at the Women in Music Awards! Laura Davidson who started her own company Amigas is super important to me. I try to work with female promoters like her, as well as Maddie Arnold at Live Nation, Chloe Pean at AEG and Alexandra Ampofo at Metropolis. On the agency side, I love Alice Hogg [ATC Live], Sally Dunstone [Primary Talent International] and Whitney Boateng [WME] – we worked together at CODA. There’s also an incredible team of women at One Fiinix Live – Emma Davis and Eve Thomas. Caroline Reason at Mata Agency is also an absolute queen!
“Before I confirm Years & Years for a festival, I insist on building [an inclusive] lineup together with promoters”
What are you doing to further diversity, equity and inclusion in the industry?
We’re making sure every UK festival Years & Years are playing are real inclusive spaces for everyone and the lineups are diverse across gender, race and sexuality. Before I confirm Years & Years for a festival, I insist on building the lineup together with promoters. So far, promoters – even the ones lacking in expertise in that area – are super open to it. I’m fortunate because most of the Y&Y shows are headlines so we are in a great position to enforce this.
I am also working with an incredible award-winning collective called Queer House Party which has built this insane following in lockdown by putting on safe and accessible spaces for people to come together within the queer community. The night has now made a leap from online to IRL selling out nights at iconic venues across UK. We are now bringing radical and queer excellence to festivals across the summer. I’m also speaking to the Trans Creative, co-founded by Charlie Deakin-Davies, who are working on creating opportunities for trans and non-binary production crews.
With all the issues agents are currently faced with, are you able to protect your mental health?
I actually feel that it has been harder to keep the work-life balance than it was pre-pandemic, there’s much more work but the demand is still the same. Everyone wants something now now now; dates are moving all the time. It feels way more intense than it did before. I’m hoping that the pressure dies down soon and, meanwhile, people do their best to be kind and patient because we’re all going through it. For me dancing and playing football is a great help!
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UMG artists and esports collide at Insomnia
Insomnia, the UK’s biggest gaming festival, will this year have live music for the first time after partnering with Universal Music Group (UMG).
Years and Years, Chase & Status, Wretch 32, Disciples and Jaguar Skills – all of whom are signed to Island Records, a division of UMG – will “take the stage alongside the world’s best videogamers and YouTube stars” at the NEC in Birmingham on 14–17 April, in the latest example of a traditional music company seeking to gain a foothold in the increasingly lucrative esports – or competitive videogaming – business. Global revenues from esports are expected to reach US$1.1 billion by 2019.
Insomnia Gaming Festival director Andy Smith comments: “Insomnia is now bigger, better and even more exciting. These huge music acts will electrify our live stage in April, as we extend the festival to four days by popular demand and introduce some thrilling new gaming features to our fans.”
“Insomnia is now bigger, better and even more exciting. These huge music acts will electrify our live stage in April”
UMG’s parent company, Vivendi (which also owns ticket agencies See Tickets and Digitick), signed a strategic partnership with the world’s largest esports promoter, ESL, in October.
AEG also has an agreement with ESL to host esports events at its venues, including The O2 in London, Oracle Arena in California and Barclays Center in New York.
More than 100,000 people are expected to attend Insomnia 60.