2023 Women Of Live: Lesley Olenik
SVP, Global Touring | Live Nation
Lesley Olenik is so much more than a tour promoter. She’s a mentor, a rainmaker and a supporter of myriad projects and funds that better the lives of people around the globe. But even if all she did was bring Billie Eilish around the planet on the singer’s “Happier Than Ever World Tour,” there would be plenty of praises to sing.
Olenik considers the Eilish tour to be the most impactful success story of all of 2022, raising funds and visibility for non-profits including Support + Feed, OzHarvest and Reverb.
In addition to raising funds, Eilish raised awareness of the global climate crisis, most notably during a sold-out, six-show stand in June at London’s 21,000-capacity O2 arena.
During that period, the venue went all-vegan and simultaneously hosted climate-related events under the “Overheated” banner including panels, one of which featured the singer and her brother, Finneas.
“With 2023 tracking to be another record-setting year, there is opportunity for artists to challenge their peers and brands they partner with to make change for the better,” Olenik says. “Many artists we work with are already doing this – last year, Lizzo and Live Nation donated $1 million to Planned Parenthood and abortion rights after the overturn of Roe v. Wade.”
She adds that Pharrell, with his Something In The Water festival (the lineup for which was announced March 15), requires brands to activate to make change not just at the show, but in the community.
As for the state of women in the live business, she’s cognizant of positive gains made but not hesitant to say there’s room for improvement.
“We’re definitely making strides and the industry is starting to feel more inclusive … ” Olenik says. “Ultimately, we need more representation at the top. I’d love to see more women speaking on panels, leading teams, running departments and businesses across the board. We need more female managers and promoters and less isolation.”
For women new to the industry, she offers, “Don’t be passive – be proactive. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, as it’s the best way to learn. Focus on networking and building valuable relationships with people.”