‘Collaborate! Celebrate your peers!’: Q’s With Impact International Honoree Jon Ollier

Jon Ollier.
Courtesy of One Fiinix Live
– Jon Ollier.
Founder and CEO of new London-based agency One Fiinix Live.

Jon Ollier, who’s part of the core team that pulled off the biggest tour in history, is one of 20 honorees on Pollstar’s inaugural Impact International list. He left CAA, his professional home for almost six years, in October 2020 to launch his own agency, One Fiinix Live

We wanted to know why he went independent during what has arguably been the biggest crisis this industry has ever faced. 
Pollstar: The UK’s opening back up. It’s been too long. Describe your state of mind in the middle of 2021, please.
Jon Ollier: My state of mind in 2021 was / is actually very strong, I mean that is a large part of the reason why I started a business when I did. We have been able to build the pandemic, or at least as much of it as we can reasonably predict, into our business plan, meaning that we have been able to focus on forward momentum, building and planning. Even where the primary business has been limited, the things we have been deep in working on have been those positive actions and the biproduct of that is that it has been really good for our mental health and wellbeing through difficult times.  

Jess Kinn.
– Jess Kinn.
Agent at One Fiinix Live.

How’s the formation of One Fiinix Live coming along?

We welcomed another agent to the company in Jess Kinn, who has been an absolute force of nature. Six months into her time here and the roster not only benefits from some big-name additions, but also it is way more balanced, way more diverse, way more representative of female and LGBTQ artists.
We also welcomed Sean Denny to the company in a creative development and A&R role, Sean is incredibly well connected and is working with us on how we identify strategies in, and how we better navigate, the digital world.     
We have also been in an office since February (taking all the appropriate precautions of course) and that has meant that we have been able to offer a space to share for one or two other great professionals who needed it and as such we have created a community and resources around us which we can all call upon. It is exciting to consider how this situation might develop over time, but for now we are all just really enjoying the journey.
What gave you the confidence of going indie in what has been the biggest challenge to this business in a lifetime?
I am not sure that confidence is really the feeling that one has going into this to be honest. I mean the support and trust that our clients have shown in us is absolutely fundamental, without them we are nothing, and I am confident in my skill set and in my intentions but I don’t think this is really what drove me to take the step that I did. I think that really came more down to the fact we were confronted with a cataclysmic event, and in my view it required a huge and radical response.
What are you aiming to offer your artists in your new independent position?
We are really not trying to be complicated with this, we are offering our clients excellence and focus. We are not weighed down by departments, infrastructure and overhead, we are not beholden to cashflow objectives coming out of the pandemic, we are not firefighting or consolidating, we are working on our clients’ careers pure and simple.

Ed Sheeran.
– Ed Sheeran.
A true cover story.

What are your main takeaways from this past year-and-a-half, and how will they impact how you conduct business going forward?

Collaborate! Celebrate your peers, lift each other up, help each other out, find way to make it mutually beneficial. This sounds airy fairy, and the good will is an upside but the biproduct is a wider set of resources without crippling overhead  
Any personal takeaways from the pandemic?
Never question if the things you learned in school will ever be used in the real world, you never know when you will have to do home schooling!
How have you stayed motivated through this challenging time?
Same as always, I am just trying to take care of my people
What do you predict in the coming year for the live business?
I am always describing the year ahead as “rough and tumble”, and I think that best describes it. Literally every artist out there is now lined back up at the start line and wants to be working next year, big or small. 
So, on one hand it is going to be a crowded marketplace, on top of economic shifts, which will make things unpredictable and on the other hand we are by no means out of the woods in terms of the virus itself.
I think we will be able to get some good business done, but there will likely be shows that are forced to cancel, some will move, some will struggle commercially and ultimately there will be winners and losers unfortunately. We just have to try to make the most of it, stay ahead of the curve to the extent we possibly can, protect people as much as we can and roll with the punches to a degree.

The reasons for launching his own agency are pretty straightforward, says Ollier:
Courtesy of One Fiinix Live
– The reasons for launching his own agency are pretty straightforward, says Ollier:
“We are really not trying to be complicated with this, we are offering our clients excellence and focus.”

Where does this industry stand in terms of inclusivity?

Inclusivity is something close to my heart, it is only really in music that I personally found somewhere to belong when I was young, so I think philosophically the live industry should be a breeding ground for improved inclusivity. What I think we need to do is take greater responsibility for it and look more honestly at ourselves and the part we each play in developing it.
As I said earlier, Jess came in to the company and added to the roster and it wasn’t until I looked back on it that I realized the diversity she added really needed to be added, there was nothing deliberate in it but I had to hold my hands up and admit that I, a person who considers myself to be an inclusive person, had missed it. We are only going to improve the situation if we can be honest about it.
How do you foresee approaching sustainability going forward?
This is a really tricky one when it comes to touring, because I think the issue is different to other prominent causes. There is the emotional side of it, the winning of hearts and minds, the carrying of the message and that is something that the artists have a great deal of power with. 
In my personal, and not always popular, view though the issue of the practicalities of carbon neutrality in touring is more complicated because it requires everyone involved to take part, the artist, the venue, the suppliers and crucially the audience to truly achieve the result we need
It is a red herring to expect any given artist to one day sort of present you with a carbon neutral tour because the only way that can be achieved is with off-setting third parties’ carbon footprint, over which they have no control and it is debatable as to if this is actually a solution.
I believe we will get there, but we will need legislation which requires each party, the artist, the suppliers, the venues and the audience to each keep their side of the street clean, then when they mesh together, we will have a green tour. Until then the idea will be to do our absolute best to be better and to keep improving and making progress in the areas which we can control.  
What do you consider your biggest accomplishments in your career and why?
What I will say is that plaudits count for very little when you are faced with the problems we have been faced with in the last 18 months, everything I have achieved in the past made me the kind of person that could take positive action in this situation – this I am grateful for.  
Everything else, let’s talk about that when we are truly out the other side.