It doesn’t have to be International Women’s day for us to profile the wonderful women we work with in live entertainment. We grabbed some time with Emma Livingstone Head of Marketing Communication at Manchester Arena to find out more about city life, the modern fan and get an opinion on the digital future…

We understand you were born and bred in Yorkshire before moving across to Manchester. Is the live music scene different in each city?

Absolutely and I love the subtle differences that each city’s live music scene has to offer. I’m a Yorkshire lass who moved to Manchester and married a Liverpudlian. I remember that Leeds had one of the best drum and base nights, I love Liverpool’s vibe and the Manchester live music scene is second to none!

Growing up I was fortunate enough to enjoy my parent’s musical tastes from Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac, Genesis and Pink Floyd to Carol King, musicals and the Opera. Couple that with a sound musical education from my tenure at Hard Rock Cafe and all my years working for Manchester’s Arena and you’ve got quite an eclectic mix of tastes, influences and genres. There is nothing like the collective effervescence of a crowd at a live music event, caught in that moment of pure magic. It’s a privileged position, we are literally spreading joy through selling tickets and creating memories that last a lifetime.

Photo Credit: Karin Albinnson

Following your years of experience in the marketing and comms field, what would you say have been the major changes in fan behaviour over the past few years?

I am fascinated by the way that technology is influencing fan behaviour. Music streaming services such as Deezer have the capabilities to serve you fresh music based on your listening habits, making it easier for you to discover your new favourite band or artist. Having such a catalogue of artists at your fingertips is a world away from the old days of having a limited soundtrack and having to change a cassette tape half way through an album to listen to the other side!

Globalisation has enabled fans to access a much more diverse pool of musical influences and genres. When BLACKPINK played a sell-out show Manchester Arena last year, they were the first K-Pop group to play an arena outside of London, which is a great accomplishments.

In the busy world of live events, how do you maintain a work life balance?

Loving what you do helps as does having a solid support network around you, I am fortunate to have both. Not only do I love my job but I am well supported and surrounded by a team of individuals who are experts in their fields and a close family who keep me in check.

I love learning and made a promise to myself l that I would learn a new skill every year. As a result I have amassed quite a few hobbies that are key to keeping me grounded and sane; I am a Beekeeper, a Reiki Master, a Massage Therapist, Oncology Massage Therapist and a Reflexologist. I recently qualified in Facial Reflexology with Ziggie Bergman at the London School of Reflexology (Google her, she is an incredible woman). I am a member of the Federation of Holistic Therapists and the Association of Reflexologists, each membership carrying its own continued professional development (CPD) obligation which means I am always planning my next course and qualification.

This year I’m looking forward to completing Zone Face Lift training with Ziggie Bergman and in 2021 I plan to become a fully qualified Aromatherapist. I did my first Aromatherapy course back in 1997 so I’m keen to learn what’s new and finally get the level 3 practitioner qualification.

I don’t do things by halves and I although I am banned from buying any more crystals (apparently there’s no room in the house for anymore), I don’t mind telling the occasional white lie if challenged about a ‘new’ piece “Oh this little thing, it’s not new, it’s ages old!” I’m just grateful that my husband doesn’t know about the stash of crystals around my desk at work…

There are more awards and recognitions for females across many industries every year. Who are you inspired by and why?

I am very interested in awards and genuinely enjoy celebrating the success of others. My dear friend Rita Gilligan MBE was one of the original waitresses when Hard Rock opened in London back in 1971, she has won numerous awards in her time and is a truly inspirational character with boundless positivity, tenacity, resilience and energy. She tours the world and has the gift of spreading sunshine wherever she goes.

I am obsessed with Stevie Nicks “Don’t be a lady, be a legend” and having seen Cher in action for the first time last year, I aspire to ‘be more Cher’ in everything I do.

My biggest inspiration and the reason for all my continued professional development and specifically the complementary therapy passion is my mum. She is an incredible woman who I am also fortunate to call my best friend. 

Emma Livingstone and Rita Gilligan MBE

With the fast advance of digital, what do you think is to come for the live entertainment industry over the next 5 years?

When I started my career at a full service arts advertising agency back in 2005, the majority of my clients were sceptical of this new-fangled thing called the internet, they didn’t want to be involved with it and were quite certain that it wouldn’t catch on anyway. Early adopters thrived and those that were late to the party became its biggest advocates, chastising themselves for not having the courage or foresight to get on board sooner. Virtual Reality is an exciting proposition and is set to be a major industry disruptor.

But who knows what the future holds for the live entertainment industry – what you can guarantee is that as long as people are passionate about live music, its technologies and capabilities will continue to push the boundaries and inspire.

Emma Livingstone