Five minutes with….Marc Jones, head of Motivate Talent
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Five minutes with…Marc Jones, head of Motivate Talent

Five minutes with…Marc Jones, head of Motivate Talent

Part of the Dubai-headquartered Motivate Media Group, Motivate Talent aims to be the platform of choice for global personalities seeking inroads within the region

Gulf Business
Marc Jones Motivate Talent

Why was the decision made to set up Motivate Talent and were there best practices from other global talent agencies that were incorporated into the model?
The hospitality and entertainment sector was one of the industries hardest hit by the pandemic and is still suffering massively – to the point where many companies, agencies and individual artists and performers may never recover. There was very much method in the madness when deciding to launch a Talent division at the end of 2020 – the industry and traditional processes were tired, dated and desperately needed to evolve. This created a ‘land-grab’ opportunity to rip up the rule book and develop a new direction in the way that talent is managed/represented and entertainment is produced. With travel restrictions and guidelines changing continuously, the platforms and formats such as webinars, streaming sites, podcasts, reels and socially-distanced ‘dinner and show’ performances have become the new ‘entertainment norm’.

Which are some of the key talent signed on since starting MT and what are the division’s major highlights to date?
The initial big ticket win was obviously having the legendary John Cleese signed exclusively and in the region for a six-week period where we delivered sold-out theatre shows, keynote speeches at conferences and exhibitions, Ted Talks, book signings, corporate after-dinner speaking and even cameo video messaging.

We booked inspirational speaker and author Malcolm Gladwell for the World Conference on Creative Economy at Expo 2020 in December as part of a direct international management partnership that has seen us add the likes of 2Cellos, Bastille, Clean Bandit, Emile Sande, Katherine Jenkins, Leona Lewis, Rag’N’Bone Man, Billy Monger, Katherine Ryan, Scott Mills, Peter Crouch and Russell Brand to the roster.

The former rugby player Mike Phillips (who now lives in Dubai) filmed a documentary, was a presenter and pundit for the British Lions test series during the summer and has recently published his autobiography ahead of some upcoming appearances at Expo in March.

Nezha Alaoui is an impact influencer, author, entrepreneur and global women’s advocate in her role as CEO of Women Choice. Since signing exclusively for Motivate Talent last summer, her network in the region has expanded to over 2.1m followers and she is highly in demand as a keynote speaker, moderator and presenter.

Tell us about the most exciting home-grown and largely undiscovered talent coming out from the Middle East?
From the outset, we wanted Motivate Talent to be a showcase platform to support and promote the phenomenal talent that we have in the region. Having been privileged to have been involved in numerous major events and festivals over the years, we have regularly been frustrated about the way that many of the amazing musicians, DJs, presenters and performers are managed and promoted – with opportunities often being given to international artists and agencies ahead of the grassroots talent (or in many cases, they are asked to perform for free in exchange for the chance to raise their profiles).

By taking on the role of the ‘agent’ rather than just being another ‘agency’ there is a responsibility to manage the talent properly – from contracting, fee negotiations and payment terms, content creation and media coverage, and selecting the very best options for the right brands and events.

What are some of the plans that Motivate Talent has in the pipeline for this year?
Just over nine months ago we signed Steven Bartlett who we booked for LEAP in Riyadh – a global technology event now taking place at the beginning of February. Steven has just become the youngest-ever entrepreneur investor on BBC’s Dragons’ Den, his autobiography Happy Sexy Millionaire is No.1 on the Sunday Times Best Sellers list. His podcast Diary of a CEO has just knocked Joe Rogan off the top-spot with Spotify and is a now a sell-out theatre show throughout Europe.

We will shortly be announcing a special event with him in Dubai at the beginning of March and are also planning a series of corporate and public events with him in the region towards the end of the year.

As we enter the latter stages of Expo 2020, we are also working with several international speakers and acts, including YouTube sensations Welsh of the West End who will be performing as part of the St David’s Day celebrations.

Another major project that we are working on at the moment involves live streaming and entertainment with content delivered in real time. With an initial focus on business and sports, the plan is to develop the programming to include lifestyle and events, then audition and identify regional presenters and performers for each show.

Any challenges that Motivate Talent foresees in the near-medium term in growing the pool of talent and building out access for them in the region?
The sector with the biggest challenge right now still remains music. With continual restrictions and guidelines in place, it will more likely be later in the year that we see the festivals, large concerts and bigger events returning. With the ever-increasing number of media and digital platforms readily available now, all talent needs to be innovative, relevant and up to speed in producing quality content and entertainment. We wouldn’t say that it is a case of growing the number in the talent pool, but more about selecting and representing the very best in their chosen specialty.

To learn more about Motivate Talent, click here. To view its Instagram page, click here 

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