During this year’s Women In Music Awards, we inducted a further 14 amazing industry executives (including one posthumous award) into the Roll Of Honour, in association with TikTok. They join the pantheon of previous honourees, including some of the biggest names in the business, from Emma Banks and Sarah Stennett to Kanya King, Rebecca Allen and Stacey Tang, that have been selected since the awards began in 2014.
The Roll Of Honour aims to highlight the breadth, depth and variety of individuals who are game-changers in the music industry, with their activities consistently benefiting women, or focusing on empowerment/gender disparity. Following the Women In Music Awards ceremony, Music Week is running Q&A interviews with all of this year’s Roll Of Honour inductees.
Before she arrived at where she is today, vice president, music & festivals at Ticketmaster, Sarah Slater started out as a professional dancer and teacher before entering the world of ticketing and live music as an account manager at Trinity Street. Tere she worked with all of the major labels, as well as directly with artists like Robbie Williams and events including Global Gathering and Ibiza Rocks.
After a few years working elsewhere, Slater was drawn back to ticketing life in 2010 – with the assistance of Big Life Management legend Jazz Summers and team, she founded her own boutique ticketing agency Over9. The agency worked with numerous acts overseeing pre-sales, managing their fan clubs and merchandise stores. During this time, Slater worked directly with artists, their managers and agents on global tours and unique events, and worked with Harvey Goldsmith and Gucci on the Chime For Change event with Beyoncé at Twickenham.
In 2015 Slater moved to Ticketmaster as business development director. Three years later she was promoted to vice president of client development - music & festivals, and last year to vice president of music & festivals.
As part of the senior leadership team of Ticketmaster UK, Slater’s role includes managing the client and commercial relationship with the UK’s largest promoters and festivals including Live Nation, Festival Republic, Cuffe & Taylor, Parklife and The Warehouse Project, Creamfields, SJM, Marshall Arts, Senbla as well as the BBC.
Throughout the pandemic, Slater worked with her clients to facilitate the cancellation and rescheduling of thousands of shows and festivals. She worked closely with Festival Republic on their Pilot events in Liverpool and at Download and Latitude Festival. As the UK led the way out of the pandemic, Slater worked with Live Nation, Solo and Cream to deliver as many festivals as possible post lockdown to eager fans. This included Reading And Leeds, Creamfields and the delayed Isle of Wight Festival and Parklife.
Slater has been key to Ticketmaster’s long-term relationship with the Music Venue Trust, giving its grassroots venue members access to special ticketing rates. This saw Ticketmaster sell over 150,000 tickets for MVT members in 2019, contributing over £50,000 to the Music Venue Trust ‘Maintain and Sustain’ fund.
In March 2022, Slater launched Ticketmaster Connection Sessions, a space for underrepresented groups or those without the opportunity to come together to network and learn about the industry in a safe and secure environment. The first event held in April was aimed at young women and was a great success.
Slater also sits on the North West Fundraising Committee for Nordoff Robbins and has recently been appointed as a governor at her old performing arts college, Bodywork Dance Studios.
Earlier this year, Slater was the first ever recipient of the Golden Ticketer award at the ILMC Arthur Awards. Here, she reflects on her career so far...
How do you feel about joining the Music Week Women In Music Roll Of Honour?
“I’m thrilled, honoured, excited, overwhelmed and all of the other adjectives I’ve forgotten. It means so much – the recognition of your peers is the best feeling ever. Thank you to the ‘village’: Jon, mum, dad, Linda and Katie and the best guiding lights ever, the big bros Mark and Andrew, and the continuous support of our Jon Jon.”
How do you look back on your early years getting into the industry?
“I originally trained as a dancer with the goal of being a backing dancer or in the Moulin Rouge. Unfortunately, or rather fortunately, I didn’t really have what it takes. Instead, I decided to focus on teaching and stage management. It was there that I met the amazing Andrew Murray who co-led the original ticketing disruptor Trinity Street and suggested I interview for a job there. And the rest, as they say, is history. It wasn’t a smooth road, and I didn’t stay in live music or ticketing the whole time. I’ve been made redundant, worked in fashion eCommerce, and been a proper annoying salesperson. But this all added to my skills set. I think that if you work hard, you’re nice to people and have a bit of personality about you, anything is possible.”
Did you have a mentor at that stage?
“Plenty. Andrew Murray, who I still annoy regularly. Katie Ray at Trinity Street, who taught me the key skills, like how to write an email and handle strong personalities. Then there is the man who put all his faith in me – Jazz Summers, who invested in Over 9 which was my own artist services company. Without him or Andrew I would have never gotten into ticketing in the first place. There are also so many amazing women leaders at Ticketmaster. Two standouts are actually Roll Of Honour alumni Sam Isles and Selina Emeny. Both continue to be sounding boards, my go-to emotional support on tough days and my biggest cheerleaders. I also happen to have the best boss in the industry in Andrew Parsons. He, plus the legendary team at Ticketmaster with their fountain of ticketing knowledge, are solid rocks for me to lean on day in and day out.”
What’s your biggest achievement so far?
“Personally, it is my little boy, Henry. Doing what I do and him – so far – turning out alright is a miracle and the product of the work of a village. Professionally, I’d say the relationships I’ve built. The ability to be a service provider but also someone clients come to for advice is a point I always wanted to get to. I also really enjoy my job, and I think that’s the most important thing. It remains a challenge; it is trying at times, but I wouldn’t change it for the world, and I feel very privileged to be able to say that.”
Just how challenging was the pandemic for Ticketmaster in your experience?
“I suddenly had to become the expert in how to cancel a show rather than put one on sale. I’m a people person, so the combination of being cooped up at home along with the stress of rescheduling so many shows was challenging. But look at how the whole industry bounced back. I think it’s a testament to the resilience we have as a collective and how we all came together to fight for the industry we love.”
If you work hard, you’re nice to people and have a bit of personality about you, anything is possible
Ticketmaster also won at the Music Week Awards this year – what gives your team an edge in this sector?
“The team is what gives us the biggest edge. I added up the years of experience at a summer debrief the other week, and between 15 of us there was 225 years of ticketing experience at the table – you’re not going to get that anywhere else. We have so many inspiring female executives at Ticketmaster, and an abundance of support for women across the company. We have a course that revolves specifically around empowering women’s development – creating the space to develop confidence, adjust internal beliefs, respond assertively, pitch ideas, gain visibility, make an informed career plan and develop a leadership style. It came at just the right time for me and I can’t wait to see what it does for the next generation of Ticketmaster women.”
What advice would you offer young women about enjoying a successful career in music?
“Learn the key skills. Learn how to write an email, some sales skills – whatever role you’re going into, they set you up for life. And don’t be scared to network. Also, work hard – you will be rewarded for it.”
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
“Being continuously told that ‘you got this’ when you’re doing something that scares you. You’re not going to learn new things without being put into the fire every now and then. From leading my first onsite back in the day with The Nickelodeon Experience, to leading the ticketing on a stadium show with Chime For Change at Twickenham, and then the many firsts at Ticketmaster. You must have faith you can do it and if it does go wrong, learn from it so you don’t make the same mistake again.”
Finally, what’s your biggest lesson from 2022 so far?
“You never stop learning. And that I still have what it takes to camp at a festival at 40 plus years...”