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The New Bosses 2022: Zoe Williamson, UTA

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

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

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

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

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

 


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What has been your biggest career highlight to date?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


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The New Bosses: Introducing the class of 2022

The 15th edition of IQ Magazine‘s New Bosses can now be revealed, highlighting 20 of the most promising 30-and-unders in the international live music business.

New Bosses 2022 inspired the most engaged voting process to date, with hundreds of people taking the time to submit nominations. The final 20 comprises executives working across agencies, promoters, ticketing companies, charities and venues in 12 different countries.

In no particular order, the New Bosses 2022 are:

Benji Fritzenschaft, DreamHaus (DE).
Clara Cullen, Music Venue Trust (UK).
Dan Rais, CAA (CO).
David Nguyen, Rock The People (CZ).
Daytona Häusermann, Gadget ABC (CH).
Grant Hall, ASM Global (US).
James Craigie, Goldenvoice (UK).
Kathryn Dryburgh, ATC Live (UK).
Resi Scheurmann, Konzertbüro Schoneberg (DE).
Seny Kassaye, Fort Agency (CA).
Agustina Cabo, Move Concerts (AR).
Sönke Schal, Karsten Janke Konzertdirektion (DE).
Steel Hanf, Proxy Agency (US).
Steff James, Live Nation (UK).
Stella Scocco, Södra Teatern (SE).
Vegard Storaas, Live Nation (NO).
Lewis Wilde, DICE (UK).
Zoe Williamson, UTA (US).
Jonathan Hou, Live Nation (US).
Maciej Korczak, Follow The Step (PL).

Subscribers can read shortened profiles of each of the 2022 New Bosses in issue 114 of IQ Magazine, which is out now. Full-length Q&As will appear on IQ in the coming days and weeks.

Click here to subscribe to IQ for just £7.99 a month – or check out what you’re missing out on with the limited preview below:

 


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The LGBTIQ+ List 2021: Zoe Williamson, UTA

The LGBTIQ+ List 2021 – IQ’s first annual celebration of queer professionals who make an immense impact in the international live music business – was published in the inaugural Pride edition (issue 101) this month.

The 20 individuals comprising the LGBTIQ+ List 2021, as nominated by our readers and verified by our esteemed steering committee, have gone above and beyond to wave the flag for an industry that we can all be proud of.

To get to know this year’s queer pioneers a little better, IQ asked each individual to share their challenges, triumphs, advice and more. Each day this month, we’ll publish a new interview with an individual on the LGBTIQ+ List 2021. Catch up on the previous interview with Austin Sarich, tour director for North America at Live Nation here.

 


Zoe Williamson
she/her/hers
Agent, UTA
Brooklyn, New York, US
[email protected]

Tell us about a personal triumph in your career.
Working on and announcing Arlo Parks’ North America headline tour for this fall was a huge highlight. Seeing how much love there is in the US validated the incredible work that Arlo has poured into her music and into building an authentic and organic relationship with her fans.

What advice could you give for young queer professionals?
Ignore the people trying to tell you to act or behave a certain way to succeed. If we’re going to make a shift in the industry, I would encourage any young queer and/or trans professionals to help break the mould of the traditional perception of ‘leaders’. We are the new leaders, and so anything we do is what leadership looks like.

“I would encourage any young queer and/or trans pros to help break the mould of the traditional perception of ‘leaders'”

Tell us about a professional challenge you often come across as a queer person.
I’m sometimes put in situations where I’m asked to work with someone for the sole reason that they’re in the LGBTQIA+ community. It’s disappointing because at times it can feel as though I’m being paired with someone because of my identity, not because of my hard work or skillset.

Industry professionals often misgender and misunderstand sexuality, and we have to take time and energy to educate, which can be exhausting and daunting. I’m all about patience, but it’s hard to work in an industry that has been saying for years it’s going to do the work, yet year after year that work falls on us to do.

“I want [the LGBTQIA+ community] calling the shots; not just having a seat at the table but having a say in the decision making”

What one thing could the industry do to be more inclusive?
During the pandemic, I am proud to have been a part of the launch of Justice Now, a task force within UTA’s music department that aims to reverse systemic racism in the industry through four pillars of education, mentorship, empowerment and fearless imagination.

I feel lucky to work at a company that celebrates and embraces the LGBTQIA+ community, but I want to see more of my community in the industry. I want us calling the shots; not just having a seat at the table but having a say in the decision making.

Causes you support.
For The Gworls, The Okra Project, Marsha P. Johnson Institute, The Center, Trevor Project.

How could the industry build back better, post-pandemic?
We need to create a space for industry professionals within the LGBTQIA+ community to not feel targeted, isolated, neglected, and unsafe. Accountability means nothing without consequences. Basically, if we don’t start telling people “You are not above consequences for your actions” and actually walking the walk on that, I don’t see this industry changing at the rate it needs to.

 


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