UTA’s Matthew Morgan On ‘Fighting Like Hell For Your Clients’ & Big Year For Lizzo, GAYLE, Michael Franti


Matthew Morgan, partner and co-head of UTA’s Nashville office, caught up with Pollstar to chat about his clients’ 2023 tour plans, from superstar Lizzo to rising artist GAYLE.

After the success of her 2022 “The Special Tour” – which ranked No. 46 on Pollstar’s North American Top Tours chart with a gross of $35.4 million – Lizzo headed to European arenas in February. That leg runs through March 16, wrapping with two nights at London’s The O2 and then she returns to North America in April.

Following her debut headline tour in 2022, GAYLE will have the chance to play for stadium-sized crowds with support slots on Taylor Swift’s “The Eras Tour” in North America and P!nk’s “Summer Carnival” trek in Europe.

Morgan’s roster also includes Michael Franti & Spearhead, JP Saxe, Kidd G, Anderson East, Rodrigo y Gabriela and many others.

Pollstar: You’ve played an instrumental role in Lizzo’s career, working with her since her club days. What did her win for Record of the Year mean to you?
Matthew Morgan: It was awesome being there in person and witnessing it. Seeing her be the first Black woman to win this category in almost 30 years was really massive. It’s kind of crazy that Whitney Houston in 1994 was the last one to win Record of the Year.

She is such an inspiration for being unapologetically herself and how she stands up for the underrepresented. [With] her TV show, “Watch Out for the Big Grrrls” on Amazon, her mission from day one was really showcasing the talent of the often-overlooked people that didn’t fit the Hollywood norms of size and color. To see her win an Emmy, in year one of having that show out, was pretty amazing. There’s just so many things.

Can you talk about the strategy in booking Lizzo’s 2023 dates, following the success of 2022?
Going out with the 2022 run set the table. We were going to go in the major markets, the ones we thought we could really have the biggest impact first. With the fall tour we got to check the box on two sold-out nights at the Forum, two sold-out nights at Moda in Portland … and then that momentum carried us into 2023. We have real radio saturation and visibility and presence out there. Award season visibility was part of the strategy – having the Europe [leg] start after the Grammys and the Brits. And then leg two of the North American run is done around festival anchors like New Orleans Jazz and Bottle Rock and Governors Ball. Both continents are mostly sold out in advance.

GAYLE is heading on the road supporting Taylor Swift as well as P!nk. How did those support slots come to be?
GAYLE’s phenomenal. We signed her in late 2019 as a 15-year-old at that time. She presented as mature beyond her years as a vocalist and as a songwriter. COVID hit shortly after that. Marissa Smith and I lead that team and it’s been really awesome working with her. It’s been a lot of setup, honestly (laughs) to get to the Taylor dates. We did some select headlining, which we sold out once venues were back open for business and we had the wonderful gift of a massive viral hit song. And then we had her opening for AJR; we had her playing key festivals like Lollapalooza and ACL and Firefly. We did some brand deals between Bumble and Afterpay; have some others that are in the works. All those things cumulatively helped raise her visibility and profile to end up on somebody like Taylor’s radar because I think, as we all know, Taylor does what Taylor wants to do.

GAYLE was playing a national songwriter award show and Taylor Swift was there, saw her play and requested to come down to her green room afterwards and asked her what she was doing the next summer. That was an incredible pinch-me moment for her and everybody else. I think Taylor saw a little bit of herself in GAYLE, where she was at a similar time in her career at that age. … And so it was really exciting. We were able to secure 15 stadium dates with Taylor and then in Europe [she’s] opening for P!nk on 15 stadium dates, including Hyde Park. So a really fantastic summer ahead for her with new music coming out and then a fall tour that we have planned.

Anything you’d like to share about your other clients’ upcoming plans?
There’s so many outings that my clients are doing right now. Michael Franti & Spearhead has been around for a number of years, but this will be his biggest tour year ever. He’s doing almost 60 dates and the biggest onsale that he’s had in his career. He runs a podcast. He just scored a movie that Woody Harrelson is starring in that’s coming out called “Champions.” That was the first movie that he ever scored. Really an exciting milestone for him. And he’s got a cruise going out this fall, his second annual Soulshine cruise, which has already eclipsed the sales of year one. It’s got Tank and the Bangas and John Butler and SOJA and others on it, so a lot of fun stuff with him. And then JP Saxe is going out with John Mayer next month and he’s got new music rolling out and a fall headline and playing Bonnaroo. … There’s a lot of exciting stuff happening with a lot of clients and it’s just fun to have this UTA team that’s really helping propel all of it.

With the role of partner and co-head of UTA’s Nashville office, have you found yourself taking on the role of a mentor?
Your whole career, you’re mentoring somebody and you’re being mentored by somebody. The role has definitely expanded my mentorship reach, but it’s also expanded the number of people that get to speak into my life and my work and help me be a better agent, too. We’re all learning from each other and it’s been exciting and energizing, I think, both ways.

You’ve been in the music business for over 20 years now. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned?
Be kind and be consistent and show up for your clients and colleagues every day. And then fight like hell for your clients. Those things carry you, no matter the situation.