– Sara Bollwinkel
When Sara Bollwinkel – and her agency partner Tom Windish – signed a sphinx-like 14-year-old streaming artist, the tactical decision was made to allow Billie Eilish to evolve in a natural order. Rather than swoop in, max out room sizes and ticket prices, the thinking leaned into the importance of allowing the young woman, whose “Ocean Eyes” was creating an unprecedented response, to come into her performing self organically.
“There’s real beauty to the darkness,” says Pollstar ’s 2020 Rising Star winner and Billboard ’s 2019 Chip Hooper Award honoree. ”It drew me to her. If the song makes me want to dance and cry, that’s my taste.” Evidently, it’s also over 500,000 ticket buyers’ taste, blowing out the seats for Eilish’s “Where Do We Go” arena tour in minutes. With 10 Grammys between Eilish and brother Finneas O’Connell, the siblings have matured in their own creative vortex, something that defines Bollwinkel’s approach.
“The journey is why I do this. Rolling up your sleeves, creativity and strategy, all the success means more because of it.” Bollwinkel, who started playing violin at 11, went on the road with a DIY band for a number of years and now plays for enjoyment, recognizes the toll the pace can take. It keeps her mindful. “Touring can be taxing at any age,” she concedes. “The main thing is protecting people’s mental health. For young acts, that’s essentially the focus. ‘Do they need their holidays at home? How should the days be structured?’ Billie and Finneas are jumping into the work force like everyone else, but they’re kids, and they need to have fun and develop.”
Citing Paradigm as a company devoid of sexism, she points to “payment inequality, discrimination and abuse” as the three largest issues for women in the industry. “When I’m in the office, I’m Work Sara. I don’t have a gender, just do the work. But I can hire women to work with me, give women opportunities. And that’s great. Establishing teams you can trust? It’s everything.”