Pollstar + VenuesNow 2022 Women Of Live: Jeanine McLean-Williams
MBK Entertainment Inc.
President & Managing Partner
Lots of managers and agents navigated getting their artists back on the road in 2021. But MBK Entertainment’s Jeanine McLean-Williams, who co-manages H.E.R., had an even tougher challenge: Pulling off a festival curated by one of her clients as the industry returned following the pandemic.
“The moment that truly said ‘we are back’ was the second year of the H.E.R. Lights On Festival,” says McLean-Williams, reminiscing about the sold-out September event – expanded from its single-day 2019 iteration to two days in 2021 – held at Concord Pavilion in Concord, Calif., which featured H.E.R, Erykah Badu, Bryson Tiller, Ari Lennox and Ty Dolla $ign, among others. “That festival is super special as it’s owned by H.E.R., an African American/Filipino female, along with touring partners Live Nation Urban, and for it to continue to be successful lets others feel empowered and feel that with hard work and grit, the sky’s the limit.”
Behind the scenes, McLean-Williams, MBK’s president and managing partner, worked tirelessly to bring the event to fruition – a daunting task that went far beyond the artists on the bill.
“With the touring industry still experiencing uncertainties with COVID protocols and mandates in mid 2021, which is when I started to approach brand partners for the H.E.R. Lights On Festival, there were major challenges in getting brands to commit,” says McLean-Williams, who ultimately secured partnerships with Fender, Cîroc, Sony and more for the “uberly successful” event.
Though heartened by “the festivals and tours going up for sale and selling out,” McLean-Williams acknowledges touring challenges remain.
“Due to a lack of venue availability, we have to zig-zag the country more than usual, but it’s all good,” she says, commending MBK CEO Jeff Robinson for his commitment to getting MBK’s artists back on tour.
And, as those tours reboot, McLean-Williams is focused on extending the inclusion and diversity MBK built itself on to the industry at large.
“Any set or tour that we are a part of, we demand to see diversity on the stage crew, the PAs, catering, local ground teams… literally everywhere,” she says. “If all management companies and touring artists demand it, we will start to see the much-needed changes.”