Impact International: UK/Euro Honors
Managing A Visionary: Fiona Commins Remains Humble
This piece about Fiona Commins begins by talking about her client, the incomparable Jean-Michel Jarre, because that’s what she’d want. Commins clearly doesn’t want any of the limelight, despite having a say in all aspects of Jarre’s business for 35 years. She humbly and only reluctantly accepted this honor as well as our request for an interview.
Jarre has been pushing the envelope in sound and show production since the 1970s. He performed in front of crowds exceeding 1 million spectators four times in his career, including Moscow in 1997 on the Russian capital’s 850th anniversary, when 3.5 million took to the streets – the largest concert audience in recorded history. “It was a historic moment for the live entertainment industry and, personally, the highlight of my career,” says Commins, who would usually go for a more intimate setting like London’s Roundhouse.
Jarre is someone who thrives on challenges. A world in lockdown was never going to stop him. His NYE 2021 livestream, where a JMJ avatar performed in a virtual representation of Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, garnered 75 million views, which earned him the pole position on Pollstar’s Q1 live streaming charts by a wide margin. Jarre and his team spent four months preparing the virtual concert in collaboration with the City of Paris and UNESCO, culminating in “a fantastic moment of communion and rejuvenation during a period of unprecedented separation,” according to Commins. Despite the virtual success, Jarre and his team just want to get back out there. One opportunity presented itself on Music Day 2021 in June, at a location almost as prestigious as Notre Dame: the Élysée Palace, the residence of the French president. It may not have been a stadium, or an arena packed with fans, but it was a start.
Even while Jarre wasn’t performing, his team hasn’t been idle, Commins explains: “We’ve been kept busy by other projects we had on standby, such as foreign language translations of JMJ’s autobiography, also original film scores and future virtual reality projects. As highlighted by the NYE virtual Notre Dame concert, the pandemic encouraged us to explore new mediums. Virtual live entertainment won’t be replacing in-person concerts, but it will nevertheless allow us to reach out to new audiences in new ways.”
When you work with someone for most of your life, you end up becoming more than business partners. “We feel like family,” she says. “This is key to our successful relationship.” Jarre can consider himself lucky, because to Commins, family is the most important thing in life.