No. 27: Marc Geiger, Sara Newkirk Simon, Kirk Sommer, Brent Smith | Power 100
Partner/head of music, WME
SARA NEWKIRK SIMON
Partners/co-heads of music, WME
EIGHT OF THE TOP 25 TOURS: In between reeling off quantitative measures of WME's muscle -- the agency's music division repped eight of Billboard Boxscore's top 25 concert tours for 2018, including Bruno Mars and Justin Timberlake, and, by its own calculation, 63 percent of headliners at major music festivals -- Geiger points out that he and his leadership team are also dedicated to "figuring out how qualitative gets into the mix." For Geiger, David Byrne's American Utopia tour, which he contends was the year's best, checks that box. Simon, meanwhile, cites WME's history with Latin music from Luis Miguel (another top 25 tour of 2018) to J Balvin to Kali Uchis. "We strive to be early and steadfast," she says. Smith's clients, Drake and Childish Gambino, dominated pop culture in 2018, and two of Sommer's top acts rocked the festival circuit as headliners: Arctic Monkeys at Austin City Limits and The Killers at Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza.
What was the biggest music story of 2018?
Simon: Disintermediation of distribution and the amount of music that is out there. When I hear that 50,000 new songs a week are being uploaded to the digital service providers, that is the story.
Geiger: The total obliteration of charts. Right now, there's a transition and a fight between sales, streaming, paid and unpaid. That's the macro story.
Where do you expect to see growth in your business?
Geiger: The touring business is healthy. The next phase has more to do with music stars crossing over into other areas.
What's one change you'd like to see in the industry in 2019?
Simon: More perspective and nurturing of people with strong points of view. We haven't had something like that since [Spotify playlist] RapCaviar, and it's very important. When you have complete democratization of distribution, consumers get overwhelmed and consume less if smart people aren't filtering.