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Uncertainty abounds in the Americas following the US's "Brexit moment", with the consequences for the touring business of a Trump presidency yet to be felt
By Jon Chapple on 09 Nov 2016
In the purported words of Vladimir Lenin, “there are decades where nothing happens, and there are weeks where decades happen”, and the 45 weeks of 2016 so far fall firmly into the latter camp. The most unpredictable year in living memory – one that brought us the deaths of David Bowie and Prince, Chewbacca mom, the spectacular rise and fall of Pokémon Go, Pen Pineapple Apple Pen and, yes, Brexit – has delivered once again, in the form of US president-elect Donald J. Trump.
In conversation with IQ in the run-up to the election, a majority of industry figures professed a preference for Trump’s rival, Hillary Clinton – “I work in live entertainment; it’s no secret who I’m voting for,” said one typical response – but with President Trump (and, presumably, his promised Mexico–US border wall) now a reality, what does the future hold for the industry, both in the US and further afield?
Phil Rodriguez, the CEO of Latin America’s largest independent promoter, Miami-headquartered Move Concerts, tells IQ America has had “its Brexit moment”, referencing to the UK’s equally surprising vote to leave the EU in June.
On the ramifications for economies in his part of the world, Rodriguez says it’s “too early to tell”. “That said, my initial feelings are that in terms of South America, I do not see a negative impact economically,” he continues. “In terms of Central America, I do see the possibility of a negative impact, given the amount of Central American immigrants in the US and the money they send back home.”
Guillermo Parra Riveros, director of international events at Mexican promoter Ocesa – who on Monday predicted “devastating” consequences for his country’s currency and music industry – simply says he’s “more than shocked” at Trump’s becoming the leader of the free world, adding: “The future doesn’t look good.” (Mexican economic analyst Alejandro Hope agrees, describing a Trump presidency as “probably something as close to a national emergency as Mexico has faced in many decades”.)
“America has had its Brexit moment”
One senior concert industry figure who will likely be pleased is AEG CEO Phil Anschutz, who, as Amplify reports, has given US$469,000 to the Republican party since 2015.
“Honestly, I have no idea what happened,” comments Emporium Presents’ Dan Steinberg, who predicted a victory for Hillary Clinton. “I never thought he could win – I didn’t take it seriously.”
Steinberg says the industry and the US as a whole will now have to come together “to deal with the outcome, no matter what”.
At this early stage (the president-elect won’t take office until 20 January), that outcome is far from clear, and veteran agent Wayne Forte, the president of Entourage Talent Associates, warns against “overreaction” until the dust settles on the election, and draws a comparison with Brexit, when “the market took a minor crash [but] eventually recovered”.
In Latin American markets, Forte echoes Riveros’s concerns about the short-term volatility of exchange rates – “the [Mexican] peso went down 7% to 12%, and now 13%, against the US dollar”, he noted this morning – and says (while acknowledging “this is all speculation”) it could become harder for American artists to tour Central and South America.
“The show must go on. Music – live music – that is common ground”
“In addition to the financial perspective, there are the issues of visas and work permits,” he explains. “This is something I don’t think we will know for some time; however, I would expect a ‘pushback’ from the affected countries [hit by falling currencies and Trump’s promised tearing up of existing trade agreements], with longer and longer time periods for visas and work permit approvals – or, perhaps, issued in lesser and lesser numbers, though this will ultimately affect the individual countries’ tourism trades. This will certainly […] affect us here in the US.”
SB Management’s Scooter Braun (Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande), who previously backed Clinton in her calls for gun law reform, said at the Billboard Touring & Conference Awards yesterday the result was “surreal” but added Americans can still be happy to “wake up in the morning and be in this country.” “We have been through worse and we’ll get through this,” he commented.
And for Alex Hodges, the CEO of LA-based Nederlander Concerts, there’s only relief the election cycle has finally come to a close. “The show must go on, and I’m talking about great music performed live,” he comments. “Music – live music – that is common ground.
“The crazy stuff [is] over.”
This article will be updated with more reactions from industry figures as we receive them.
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