Samantha Kirby Yoh, Partner & Co-Head of Worldwide Music, UTA

Samantha Kirby Yoh
Courtesy UTA
– Samantha Kirby Yoh

Hitting The Ground Running

Samantha Kirby Yoh
Partner & Co-Head of Worldwide Music, UTA  

Samantha Kirby Yoh brought her passion for equity and social justice with her to United Talent Agency when she was named Co-Head of Worldwide Music in September, 2020, and quickly put it to work.

“The entire global music department came together during this time around our mutual goals of unity and collaboration,” Kirby Yoh says. “For example, following the police murder of George Floyd, a group of UTA music colleagues founded Justice Now, an internal task force that aims to reverse systemic racism in the industry through four pillars of education, mentorship, empowerment and fearless imagination.

Justice Now meets monthly, and topics have included the origin of race, the history of voting and elections in the United States and United Kingdom, Black influence on the origin of music and more, she tells Pollstar.

Kirby Yoh joined UTA at a fraught time for the entire concert industry and considers her work helping the Worldwide Music department continue to grow and develop to be her biggest accomplishment for the year. And she’s helping it improve touring as well, far beyond those who book and perform shows.

“The challenges of the last year created a new awareness for the need to change how the music business was conducted in the past,” she says. “As an industry, we are working on establishing provisions for venues and live event staff members – crew, stagehands, catering, parking attendants and more – who had no safety net when the pandemic struck. Additionally, we are building tools to combat the lack of diversity within the landscape, and to reduce the environmental impact.” A founder of She Is The Music, which focuses on increasing the number of women working in the global music industry, Kirby Yoh also sits on the advisory board of the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, which works to increase diversity in the entertainment industry. She also co-founded “Noise for Now,” which connects performers to organizations fighting for reproductive rights.

She supports other initiatives, including one founded by Noelle Scaggs, another Impact 50 honoree (see page 26).

“It is crucial for the industry to focus on increasing diversity, equity and inclusion with the industry,” she says. “We need to support programs such as Diversify The Stage, an initiative that aims to establish a more inclusive hiring process in the live music, events and touring spaces.”

In a year full of strife, with layoffs, furloughs, changings of the guard and general upheaval in the agency business, Kirby Yoh prioritized not only getting back to business but making the business better. Kirby Yoh joined UTA following a run as head of East Coast Music at WME, where she oversaw a music department representing top talent including Björk, Rosalía, LCD Soundsystem, Florence + The Machine and more.