Runway Artists: ‘Popular culture isn’t shaped by ageing white men’

The founder of independent booking agency Runway Artists discusses the firm's strategy to invest in the next generation of agents.


Runway Artists founder Matt Hanner has discussed the agency’s strategy to invest in the next generation of agents.

Hanner (formerly of ATC Live, Coda) launched the London-based independent booking agency in the spring of 2020, against the backdrop of a global pandemic.

Notably, the agency’s first hires included emerging executives Amy Greig and Dotun Bolaji (now at Primary Talent), with Greig moving from a freelance role to a full-time position in June.

Indeed, Hanner says recruiting and training young and diverse agents is baked into the firm’s game plan.

“I want to build a talented team that represents the artists we work with and society as a whole,” he says.

“Popular culture is not shaped by aging white men, and as something of an underdog in the agency landscape, I want to give Runway a fighting chance when we’re up against the competition – if artists can look across the table and see a company that reflects and understands them then hopefully they’ll give us a shot.”

In fact, Hanner believes that having young agents on the team is an advantage when it comes to scouting talent.

“Someone in their early 20s has only ever consumed music in an ecosystem in which DSPs [digital streaming platforms] are a major player; the associated shift in consumption habits has massively altered how people approach genre and that feeds into talent development and discovery,” he explains.

“Personally, when looking at new artists, I feel I can’t stray too far from my ‘lane’ as I don’t know the tastemakers outside certain genres but streaming has moved the goalposts completely. Younger, digital native agents will definitely have the upper hand when it comes to identifying and nurturing new artists.”

In addition to Greig, the younger generation of Runway is completed by new recruits Louise McGovern (an agent who has previously worked for Midnight Mango and DHP) and intern Emer Marcus. Here, Futures Forum gets to know the three female executives.

Louise McGovern

What attracted you to Runway Artists?

LM: I met Matt and Steve at IFF in 2021 whilst working at Midnight Mango. I kept an eye on the company as it’s grown over the years, and I have admired several of its initiatives such as the In Transit and Nordic Night Showcases, and most recently their Agents and Managers conference. 

I also felt that the company’s values matched mine, they invest a lot into grassroots artists and venues and have a people-first approach, and equality, diversity and inclusion are important concepts to me, so I was thrilled to see them sign up to the Keychange pact.

The more I got to know everyone at Runway, the more it felt like a community or a family and that’s exactly what I want. I’ve only just started here but I already feel very supported and excited for my next chapter.

In terms of their roster, they have a diverse range of artists, and I could see my roster and my future roster fitting in well there. 

What do you hope this next chapter of your career will look like?

LM: In the last few years, I’ve been figuring out what excites and motivates me in a roster, and I feel fully supported to go out and sign what moves me. Runway works collaboratively on several artists, and I’d really love to start doing more of this too. I think there’s a lot of room for growth here, and I would love to get more involved in the day-to-day running of the company and help grow it.

LM’s Roster: KEG, Alien Chicks, Spyres, Toby Sebastian, Jaws The Shark, Cable Street Collective, Dutch Criminal Record, Jade Helliwell and Kima Otung.

Emer Marcus

You’re relatively new to the industry, why have you chosen Runway as the place to kick off your career?

EM: I met Matt in 2022 while I was taking part in the Scratch My Progress Talent Development programme with Charlene Hegarty in The Oh Yeah Centre, Belfast. During Scratch, I got to set up several meetings with Matt where I was able to ask him questions about his experience as a booking agent, and what the job can be like day to day. After spending my first few weeks in the office at Runway, I enjoyed the standard of relationship that Runway has with its artists and their willingness to invest in me and my training.

What have your first nine months at Runway been like?

EM: Fantastic! The fact that I’m able to work remotely has been a massive benefit for me as the music scene in Northern Ireland is something I have always been passionate about since deciding to pursue a career in the industry. Before Runway I had only ever been to London once as a kid so being able to go over for conferences and to have the experience of working in the office has been really beneficial for me when it comes to networking and discovering new music.

What are your ambitions for your internship at Runway?

EM: I can’t wait to have some artists of my own on the roster and I’m really looking forward to seeing smaller artists grow their audiences, through seeing them supporting artists they already love. I love finding new music so I’m looking forward to hearing anything that comes in the direction of Runway.

What’s the importance of agencies like Runway providing internships to aspiring execs?

EM: As someone who comes from the countryside in Northern Ireland, networking and making connections in the industry felt like a bit of a battle, but the team at Runway have been an amazing support when it comes to getting my name out there. I think it can be daunting for young people to want to pursue a career in the live industry at the moment, so internships like the one Runway has offered me are crucial. I’ve learnt so much from just being in the environment and having the opportunity to ask questions as the team is working, it’s been invaluable to me so far in my career.

Amy Greig

You’ve been at Runway for just over three years now. What’s changed since you first joined?

AG: I think we’ve definitely expanded, both our roster and our staff. It’s great having more people around a variety of new and exciting artists! It’s been lovely watching it grow.

Can you tell us about some of your recent successes with your clients? 

AG: Both Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard and King Nun have just wrapped some lengthy tours in support of their respective new albums. I’ve had lots of success across my roster with tastemaker festivals, it feels exciting!

What are your ambitions for 2024?

Hopefully continue to take on some new acts, I’m really looking forward to expanding my roster.

AG’s Roster: Babymorocco, Flat Party, The Wytches, Deary, King Nun, Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard, Strawbey, Legss and ROE.