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Pandora hails live/streaming synergy with Jam deal

Ticketfly has become the official ticketing provider for three Chicago venues owned by Jam Productions, the US’s largest independent concert promoter.

Is it the second major signing for the fast-growing ticket outlet in as many months: in late April the company, owned by internet radio/streaming service Pandora, lured The Bowery Presents’ Bowery Ballroom and Mercury Lounge away from Ticketmaster.

In addition to taking over ticketing duties for the 2,500-capacity Riviera Theatre, 1,400-capacity Vic Theatre and 900-capacity Park West, Ticketfly will handle “select Jam events throughout the midwest”. (Upcoming Jam shows include Adele at the United Center, Alabama Shakes at the Aragon Ballroom and Wilco at Hall’s Island.)

The three venues previously had a partnership with Etix.

Ticketfly’s other Chicago clients include venues Reggies, The Hideout, Subterranean and Beat Kitchen and festivals Pitchfork Music Festival and Riot Fest.

“We’re making an aggressive move upstream into larger venues and promoters… we’re going after the incumbents, hard

The ticketer now has a presence in America’s three major ‘music cities’ – Chicago, New York and Los Angeles – and Ticketfly’s Rachel Durfee says the company is “making an aggressive move upstream into larger venues and promoters… we’re going after the incumbents, hard.”

Ticketfly also added 48 new venues and promoters to its Canadian roster in January with the acquisition of ticketing system developer TicketBreak.

“Each new deal is further validation that bringing live and streaming music together under one roof is a win-win-win for fans, artists, and promoters,” says Sara Clemens, Pandora’s chief operating officer. “We’re helping venues and promoters book the right talent, promote their events, and build their brand and audience – ultimately helping them to sell more tickets and make more fans happy.”

Despite outwardly going from strength to strength, there are signs that all is not well at Pandora: its stock has been on a downward slide since 2014, and many are questioning whether its spending plans are sustainable. Last month its biggest investor, Corvex Management, said Pandora is “pursuing a costly and uncertain business plan, without a thorough evaluation of all shareholder value-maximising alternatives” and criticised what it called “questionable capital allocation decisions”.

 


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Songkick joins the MMF

Artist-ticketing and concert discovery service Songkick has joined the Music Managers Forum (MMF) as an associate member.

In a statement, Songkick said becoming an associate of the MMF will boost its efforts to “ensure tickets end up in the hands of dedicated fans rather than on the secondary market” and “ensure musicians are able to take control of their live experiences”.

“Songkick strives to be a transparent, pioneering technology partner to artists, making it possible for musicians to remain in control of their tickets and connect them with their global fanbase better than ever before,” says Matt Jones, who has been sole CEO of Songkick since January. “We’re proud to join the Music Managers Forum as an associate, and look forward to continuing our work with its members to help artists take control of their ticketing, grow their live businesses and fight touts.”

“We look forward to continuing our work with the MMF to help artists take control of their ticketing, grow their live businesses and fight touts”

Songkick is the world’s largest direct-to-fan marketing service, operating in over 20 markets globally. It is currently suing Live Nation/Ticketmaster over claims the ticketing giant “exploited [its] monopoly power” to stifle competition by attempting to force the Songkick to pay service fees for artist-to-fan presales and intimidating concert venues and artists into not working with Songkick and other rival ticket outlets.

The MMF represents over 500 artist managers in the UK and more than 1,700 in the US, and also counts Spotify, Universal Music Group, AirPartner, Robertson Taylor and Google among its associates.

 


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New fund for Nordic promoters announced

The Nordic Culture Fund, a Nordic Council-backed organisation that provides funding for cultural projects in Scandinavia and the Nordic countries, has announced the launch of a new initiative designed to make it easier for Nordic venues and festivals to book domestic acts.

As reported by the Norwegian Live Music Association (Norske Konsertarrangører), which represented the country’s concert promoters in preliminary talks, the as-yet untitled funding programme will “underpin efforts for the development of Nordic live music across borders”.

A statement from the Konsertarrangører says it’s “very pleased” that the fund is aimed at promoters, as opposed to similar programmes for “artist mobility”, which generally target the artists themselves. It expects more details to emerge before the new year.

Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Iceland and Finland are full members of the Nordic Council, and Aland (a Swedish-speaking self-governing region of Finland) and the Faroe Islands and Greenland (both self-governing regions of Denmark) associate members.

 


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ILMC moves to midweek

The International Live Music Conference (ILMC) will move to a midweek format in 2017, shifting from its traditional Friday to Sunday dates after members voted in favour of the proposal.

“In April we asked all ILMC members to vote on whether the conference should trial a move to midweek,” says a statement from the conference. “After an overwhelmingly popular response (86%, unlike a certain other current split vote we won’t mention), we’re excited to announce that ILMC will indeed shift to midweek in 2017.”

ILMC 29 will take place from Wednesday 8 to Friday 10 March at the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington, with the ILMC Production Meeting (IPM) and Green Events and Innovations (GEI) held the day before, on Tuesday 7 March.

The conference has to announce a theme for the 29th edition (last year’s was classic video games), but it promises next year’s event will “launch in earnest” this autumn.

Read IQ‘s highlights of ILMC 28 – including interviews with Live Nation’s Michael Rapino, WME’s Marc Geiger and Wizard Promotions’ Ossy Hoppe and a discussion of show safety after the then-recent terror attacks in Paris – here.

 


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San Bernardino votes to save Insomniac’s raves

The board of supervisors of San Bernardino County has rejected a proposal which would have seen electronic dance music (EDM) events banned from the San Manuel Amphitheater, the home of Insomniac Events’ Beyond Wonderland and Nocturnal Wonderland.

The motion was proposed by Janice Rutherford, a member of San Bernardino County’s board of supervisors (roughly equivalent to a county council), in the first week of May. The supervisor cited the “dozens, if not hundreds” of complaints she said she has received from residents since the two events moved to the 65,000-capacity amphitheatre in Devore, California, in 2013, when the county entered into a contract with Insomiac parent Live Nation.

But Rutherford’s proposal failed to gain majority support when it went to vote on Tuesday, reports the San Bernardino Sun, with councillor Curt Hagman opposing and James Ramos and Josie Gonzales absent.

Live Nation employs more than 1,200 people at each of its events at the amphitheatre, and San Bernardino collects $1.4m in rent from the promoter annually

Instead of voting to sever the county’s contract with Live Nation, the three members of the board present agreed instead to petition Live Nation to end the events at 23.00 instead of their usual finishing times of 3.00 the next morning.

Matt Prieshoff, chief operating officer for Live Nation in California, said at the meeting that the promoter employs more than 1,200 people at each of its events at the amphitheatre. The county collects US$1.4 million in rent from Live Nation annually, and has earnt over $500,000 over the last two years as a percentage of ticket sales.

Devore resident Karen Slobom, quoted by the Sun, said the vote demonstrated “how economics – money – supersedes the lives and well-being of the people”.

Nearly 250 people were arrested at this year’s Beyond Wonderland for various offences including trespassing, being drunk in public and drug-related crimes, chiefly possession of ecstasy/MDMA with intent to supply, and one person died of a drug overdose in 2015.

 


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Festival promoters count the cost of Brexit [updated]

For many British festival promoters, the vote by the UK to leave the European Union last Thursday was an unwelcome shock as they finalise preparations for the busy summer ahead.

The most immediate effect of Britain’s vote for an EU exit, or Brexit (aside from forcing the resignation of the prime minister, a vote of no confidence in the leader of the opposition and four million people to sign a petition calling for a second referendum, that is), was to send the pound sterling into freefall, with the British currency slumping to a 30-year low against the US dollar shortly after the results were announced.

The concerns many in the live music industry have around Brexit are by now well documented – the spectre of the possible reintroduction of carnets and border checks looms large, while others simply believe it sends the wrong message to Britain’s European partners – but the currency issue, and what a weak pound means for UK festivals booking US acts, is one that hasn’t yet been explored.

One promoter who isn’t too concerned – at least in the short term – is Metropolis Music founder Bob Angus, who said his company has already stocked up on dollars to pay most of the American artists who will play V Festival in August. “For this year we’re all fine,” he tells IQ. “[The vote] doesn’t affect us. There are a few smaller acts that we haven’t got the dollars for, but in the grand scheme of things it’s fine.

“Obviously if we wanted to get Americans in next year the offers we can make won’t be as good if the dollar’s still up 15% on the pound, but at this point in time we just don’t know where the currency is going to end up. Whatever happens to the dollar rate in the long term affects everything.”

“If we want to get Americans for next year the offers we can make won’t be as good if the dollar’s still up 15% on the pound”

While Angus says he doesn’t believe the UK will see a raft of festivals with substandard line-ups in 2017, he acknowledges that ticket prices may have to rise if the pound hasn’t recovered by this time next year. “When you’re at finite capacity venues there’s only so much sterling there, so the only way you can counter it – to maintain those dollar fees – is to put ticket prices up.

“But with everything that’s been talked about – VAT changes, whatever – Christ knows what’s going to happen. I don’t think anyone really knows where everything’s going.”

Neil Warnock, head of music worldwide at United Talent Agency, says many of the promoters he works with “also had the foresight to buy their dollars when they were in the mid-$1.40s” (as of the time of writing, £1 will get you $1.34), but notes that “a lot of the deals for US acts will have been agreed” at the same, more favourable exchange rate anyway.

Fiona Stewart, festival director of independent 20,000-capacity event Green Man, confirms Warnock’s view that currency fluctuations won’t affect her locked-in US artist contracts for 2016 (artists appearing at Green Man who’ll presumably be paid in dollars include Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Warpaint and Grandaddy), but says it “might be a very different situation” when fees are negotiated for next year.

“It’s difficult to know what’s going to happen in future years,” she says. “We can only pay what we pay. With artist fees being quite high in a competitive market, you’re in a better position if the economy is robust.”

However, Stewart emphasises that there are “lots of reasons why artists and agents want to play festivals”, and states that for independent events like Green Man, “you have to hold out for the fact that there are people who want their artists to perform for reasons other than just the top amount of money they can get”. “I imagine the pressure is really on for events which have the more popular, big-name billings,” she adds.

“If the music industry were being driven just by what goes on in the financial markets, we wouldn’t be who we are. We promote music and we’ll make it work”

If Stewart isn’t concerning herself too much with Brexit economics, it’s because she’s more worried about “more pressing” issues like the potential increase in the PRS tariff – “that’s real, and that’s happening now, and we don’t know what’s going on with it” – and the threat to live music from commercial development. On a rise in tariffs, she says: “Lots of money is going to be expected from festivals – and we already know about that.”

Festival Republic managing director Melvin Benn says his organisation, which promotes Wireless, Latitude, Electric Daisy Carnival UK and the Reading and Leeds Festivals, “as a matter of course” also buys dollars in advance and tells IQ he consequently doesn’t expect the falling pound to “hit our bottom line at all”.

While Benn says last Friday was, for him personally, “the darkest day of my life”, he doesn’t expect to see “any change at all” in either line-ups or ticket prices in 2017. “If the music industry were being driven just by what goes on in the financial markets, we wouldn’t be who we are,” he says. That’s what the City does – we promote music and we’ll make it work.”

Owen Smith of Gibraltar Music Festival – uniquely placed as a British festival in continental Europe – is only paying one act in dollars, “and we bought some of them beforehand”, but is more concerned about the euro, by which the pound has also fallen 10 points since the vote.

“A lot of our production costs are in euros and that’s a bigger issue for us,” he explains. “Even a few cents can make a big difference to us, so we’re keeping an eye on things in case we need to look at the budget again.”

“The UK is strong and people want to deal with us, especially in the live music business. We will increase the value of the pound back to where we were, and beyond”

Looking at the devalued pound from an artist’s perspective, music industry accountant Bill Zysblat, David Bowie’s long-serving business manager, says American acts touring Britain could face as much as an 8% pay cut, but says the decrease in wage will be offset by lower prices in their host country. “Sure, your gross in [revenue] has gone down, but so has the cost of everything, [such as] hotels, travel, etc.,” he tells Billboard.  So, it’s really just the net that gets hit, which is important, but a fraction of the gross.”

Stewart says her biggest issue with Brexit is its impact on “how we’re seen as a nation”. “People want to visit a country because they have an image of the country or festival – you don’t book a flight to somewhere that’s not going to be welcoming or enjoyable,” she says. “We’ll have to see how that affects what people’s image of Britain is going to be in the future.”

Speaking from a business perspective, Warnock is more upbeat: “My opinion – and it’s purely an individual one – is that the UK is strong and people want to deal with us, especially in the live music business,” he says. “We will increase the value of the pound back to where we were, and beyond. In the short term there is chaos, but long term we shall overcome, to quote the song. I voted to stay in Europe, but now that we’re out, we’ve just got to deal with it.”

Benn has the final word: “If we [the UK] didn’t have the best festivals in the world, we might have a problem. But we do, and the artists will want to come and play them – there’s no doubt about that in my mind.”

 


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Festival Focus: Lindisfarne, SGP, Gibraltar Fest

Conleth Maenpaa, the founder of Lindisfarne Festival, has urged the British public to support the UK’s independent music festivals following the cancellation earlier this week of fellow Northumberland event Down to the Woods.

“We were very disappointed to learn about the cancellation of Down to the Woods,” Maenpaa, a director of Nokomis and Bor Events, the promoter behind Lindisfarne, tells eFestivals. “Last year also sadly saw the cancellation of the Northern Lights event in Newcastle, and there seems to be a growing trend of smaller independents across the country also having to close. We are really keen to urge people to get behind our local festivals, to join in the fun and help protect their future and legacy.

“While the market is tough out there, we are lucky to be seeing a steady stream of ticket sales for Lindisfarne Festival 2016. I think what makes it difficult is that the public know that a lot of these north-east festivals won’t sell out straight away, hence waiting to purchase tickets till nearer to the time. This can make it hard for organisers to plan when you are anticipating demand ahead of the event, knowing how much to invest and so forth.”

Reef and British Sea Power will headline the second Lindisfarne Festival, on Friday 2 and Saturday 3 September, respectively.

Mick Hucknall, Simply Red, Soulnation Festival 2010, Jazzuality.com

Down to the Woods is the second UK indie to go under in two weeks, with Summer Days Festival at Clitheroe Castle in Lancashire also calling time on its second outing just weeks before it was due to kick off on 6 July.

A spokesman for the festival, which was to have featured headliners Simply Red, Jools Holland and Echo & the Bunnymen, says: “We have looked at every angle possible to keep the event live, but due to a combination of factors, including rising cost and newly arisen logistical obstacles ,we have no choice but to call Summer Days off.

“Support for Summer Days has been both incredible and humbling and makes this decision all the harder. You have our heartfelt apologies. Thank you again for all your support.” (Mick Hucknall/Simply Red photo by Jazzuality.com.)

Bill Bailey, Royal Albert Hall, 2008, Nick Webb

In happier news, Festival Republic’s Latitude has added further names to its Comedy Arena line-up.

Among the newly confirmed comedians are headliner Bill BaileyMilton Jones, Katherine RyanRobin Ince and Josie Long and Reece Shearsmith and Rufus Hound of The League of Gentlemen, who will present Festival Shambles, a Latitude-themed edition of their Book Shambles podcast. (Bill Bailey photo by Nick Webb.)

Maribou State, Oslo, Hackney, Marc Sethi

The Secret Garden Party (SGP) has chosen a new headliner to replace Primal Scream, who earlier this month cancelled their slots at SGP and seven other festivals after frontman Bobby Gillespie fell off the stage at Caribana Festival in Vaud, Switzerland.

UK dance music duo Maribou State will step up to the plate, joining other new additions Molotov Jukebox, Clean Cut Kid, Sundara Karma, Secret Company, Kloe, Mt Wolf, Nimmo, Blondage, Kioko, Stony Browder Jnr and Belle Roscoe at the psychedelic extravaganza in Abbots Ripton, Cambridgeshire, from 21 to 24 July. (Maribou State photo Marc Sethi.)

Brian Jonestown Massacre, L'Aéronef, Lille, 2014, Laurent Breillat

Nous Productions/Radical Production’s Rock en Seine, set for Château de Saint-Cloud park in west Paris in the last weekend of August, also finalised its line-up this week, adding 20 new acts including The ShinsThe Brian Jonestown MassacreLittle Simz and film composer Flavien Berger.

Here are the new additions in full:

Rock en Seine 2016 complete line-upRock en Seine 2016 complete line-upRock en Seine 2016 complete line-up

(Brian Jonestown Massacre photo by Laurent Breillat.)

And American R&B singer and prolific songwriter Ne-Yo will play a British festival exclusive (well, ‘British’) alongside Bryan Ferry, The Vamps and Toploader at the fifth Gibraltar Music Festival this September.

The festival, backed by Gibraltar’s government, takes place on the 3rd and 4th at the UK overseas territory’s 5,000-capacity Victoria Stadium. Already confirmed are Stereophonics, Jess Glynne, All Saints, KT Tunstall, Foxes and more.

 


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Is Apple going to disable iPhone cameras at gigs?

Apple has been granted a patent that could allow it to block filming or taking photos on iPhones at concerts.

US patent 9,380,225, first applied for 2011, relates to the detection of an infrared signal by the phone’s camera, and concerns itself primarily with potential applications for augmented reality – for example, using infrared transmitters at museums to beam information to iPhone users photographing a particular exhibit.

However, the patent also describes a secondary application that will be particularly interesting for venues, stating that “[infrared] transmitter[s] can be located in areas where capturing pictures and videos is prohibited (eg a concert or a classified facility) and the transmitters can generate infrared signals with encoded data that includes commands temporarily disabling recording functions”, and even includes a handy diagram showing how it could work:

Apple iPhone patent 9,380,225, fig. 5

IQ earlier this month reported on a study by MIDiA Research which revealed digital and mobile now dominate event discovery, ticket buying and sharing and opined that: “The use of smartphones in events is an invaluable form of brand promotion and can be leveraged to build engaged future attendee lists through tactics such as image competitions on social platforms.”

Clearly someone at Apple disagrees – although the California-based company has not announced any plans to include the functionality in its next model, the iPhone 7. Apple has sold well in excess of 700 million iPhones worldwide since the phone’s introduction in 2007.

 


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Russia collection society head arrested for fraud

The director-general of Russia’s copyright collection society, the Russian Authors’ Society (RAO), has been arrested on suspicion of fraud.

Sergei Fedotov, who led RAO during its abandoned merger with the Russian Union of Right-holders (RUR) and the Russian Organisation for Intellectual Property (VOIS) in July 2015, is accused of siphoning off over ₽500 million (£5.8m) from property owned by the public organisation, which has nearly 27,000 members.

Police spokeswoman Irina Volk confirmed yesterday that “operatives of the Russian interior ministry’s department of economic security and anti-corruption, in cooperation with FSB (Federal Security Service) staff, have detained the director-general of the Russian Authors’ Society”, reports state-owned news agency RIA Novosti.

Fedotov’s deputy, Vera Vladimirovna, will take over the running of RAO while the director-general is in custody.

Fedotov’s lawyer, Denis Baluev, has said his client is not guilty and asked that he be released on a bail of ₽5m (£58,200). RAO has also denied any wrongdoing by Fedotov.

Police raided RAO’s office on Monday and seized folders which “presumably could be documents relating to financial and operating activities of the company”, said RIA.

 


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Roundhouse exec producer Nicola Thorold dies

Nicola Thorold OBE, executive producer at London music and arts venue the Roundhouse, has died aged 51.

Thorold – who, along with a number of other music industry figures, was appointed to the Order of the British Empire in the Queen’s Birthday Honours earlier this month – had worked at the 3,300-capacity Camden venue since 2012, initially as a consultant and then as executive producer. A statement from the Roundhouse said its staff are “deeply saddened by the news that our much-loved colleague Nicola Thorold has died”.

The Stage reports that Thorold had been suffering from cancer.

The venue’s chief executive, Marcus Davey, told the theatre trade paper: “Nicola remained optimistic and upbeat throughout her illness and although we are very much in shock, and we know we will miss her beyond imagination, we are taking inspiration from her optimism to make light in the darkness that suddenly surrounds us.

“We are deeply saddened by the news that our much-loved colleague, Nicola Thorold, has died”

“Her spirit will shine with us and all those that came in to contact with her always. Our thoughts are with [her husband] Paddy and her family at this time.”

Thorold was between 2000 and 2006 director of theatre at Arts Council England, where she developed and managed the £100m Theatre Review 2000, which secured an extra £25 million in grants for the theatre sector, and later became a freelance theatre consultant before moving to the Roundhouse.

British culture minister Ed Vaizey paid tribute to Thorold on Twitter, describing her as “a passionate champion who will be missed”.

 


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