'We're looking at constant growth': UTA's Neil Warnock on the future of the live music business

Neil Warnock

No one knows live music quite like Neil Warnock.

UTA’s global head of touring is celebrating 50 years at the top of the UK booking agency tree, not least by appearing on the front cover of this week’s print edition of Music Week. And – while that industry has grown exponentially since the days when Warnock was hanging out at Eel Pie Island with The Who’s Pete Townshend in the 1960s – the legendary agent doesn’t see any end to that expansion just yet. Just so long as the live biz plays it cool.

“We’re looking at constant growth – as long as we’re smart,” he said, speaking exclusively to Music Week. “We can see artists getting over-toured. We can see artists getting over-priced. Our punter has got so many choices of how they’re going to spend their money, whether they want to go to a football match or go on holiday, it’s a big world out there. We’ve got to provide them with a fantastic experience, we want [concert-goers] to be telling everybody else that they saw the most fantastic show and they can’t wait to buy tickets for the next one.”

The surge in demand for concert tickets began as recorded music hit a slump, as internet users began to value irreplaceable experience over easily replicated ownership. But the boom has continued even as streaming has led a label revival and, with the anticipated launch of venues such as the Madison Square Garden Company’s new London arena, Warnock sees no sign of waning demand.

 

We’re looking at constant growth – as long as we’re smart. We can see artists getting over-toured. We can see artists getting over-priced. 

Neil Warnock

 

“I don’t see any necessary slowdown at all. Revenues continue to go up,” said Warnock, who won Music Week’s Strat Award in 2015. “More venues are going to be built in more parts of the world. We definitely haven’t got to any point of exhaustion or a plateau. But where we can get it wrong is if we damage ourselves and there’s always a danger of that. If we continue to be smart and get it right, I don’t see any reason why what we’re building can’t go on and develop further.”

UTA agents Anna Bewers and Gary Howard are shortlisted in the Live Music Agent (Individual) category at this year’s Music Week Awards. To read the full, exclusive Neil Warnock interview, see this week’s print edition of Music Week, or click here. To subscribe and never miss a vital music biz story, click here.

(Photo: Paul Harries)

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