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UMC to open new venue in Toronto

Toronto’s beleaguered grassroots venue scene will be given a shot in the arm by major label Universal Music Canada (UMC) late next next year when it moves its headquarters to a new office in the city’s Liberty Village district.

The new, environmentally friendly HQ, at 80 Atlantic Avenue – Toronto’s first new timber-framed commercial building “in a generation” – will serve as a “community hub for artists, media partners and music audiences”, says UMC president and CEO Jeffrey Remedios, incorporating performance areas, recording facilities and promotional spaces for artists.

“Eighty Atlantic will mark a new phase in the growth and evolution of Toronto’s music community, enabling artists to fully refine their craft here at home rather than resorting to exporting it raw for others to finish before bringing to market,” said Remedios at a launch event last week.

“This is the kind of creativity and innovation that I want to see in every corner of Toronto”

Remedios also outlined his vision for transforming UMC, a division of Vivendi’s Universal Music Group, from a traditional into a “music-focused media company whose address could become as rooted in Toronto’s character as the Capitol Records tower in Los Angeles, Motown’s house in Detroit, Chess Records in Chicago or Factory Records in Manchester.”

Mayor John Tory, who has previously spoken of his commitment to “supporting [Toronto’s] live music venues”, many of which have closed in recent months, praised UMC as “a company that’s being innovative”, adding: “This is the kind of creativity and innovation that I want to see in every corner of Toronto.”

City councillors in April voted unanimously to make Toronto a ‘music city’, accepting the music strategy devised by the Toronto Music Advisory Council, a 36-member coalition of promoters, agents, labels and city officials.

UMC’s new offices are expected to open in late 2018.

 


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New name, president for UK Agents’ Association

Neil Tomlinson, director of Sheffield-based The Act Store, has been promoted to president of the UK’s Entertainment Agents’ Association.

The appointment comes amid a rebranding for the trade association, founded in 1927 and most recently known as the Agents’ Association, with the word ‘Entertainment’ returning to its name to reflect its representation of “reputable agents from all walks of the entertainment industry”.

Tomlinson (pictured) who was formerly executive vice-president, comments: “This is an exciting time to take on the role of president as we focus on moving the Entertainment Agents’ Association forward to play a more visible role in lobbing government, identifying new entertainment trends and anticipating any potential barriers to trade for the benefit of our members.

“This is an exciting time to take on the role of president as we focus on moving the Entertainment Agents’ Association forward”

“We will be progressing our marketing and social-media strategy and announcing exciting new plans shortly. Our members agree to adhere to a strict code of conduct and we look forward to welcoming new and established agents as members. Benefits include access to legally approved artist contracts, legal advice and networking opportunities including the annual gala ball that was reintroduced this year.”

Also new for the association an affiliate programme, overseen by outgoing president Alan Cutler, which enables suppliers and service providers, such as photographers and sound and lighting companies, to join.

Anyone interested in joining the Entertainment Agents’ Association should email association@agents-uk.com.

 


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‘Like a refugee camp’: Chaos at Fyre Festival

Fyre Festival, the much-anticipated new luxury boutique event by Ja Rule and Billy McFarland’s Fyre Media, has descended into chaos on its first day, with many ticket-holders stranded in Miami following the cancellation of their flights – and those who did make it to the Bahamas discovering conditions that have been compared to a refugee camp.

Angry festivalgoers – who had paid at bare minimum $1,500 to be there, and some up to $50,000 – have taken to social media and the r/fyrefestival subreddit to document the half-built tents, mountains of rubbish and débris and sub-standard food (“The dinner that Fyre Festival promised us was catered by Steven Starr is literally bread, cheese and salad with dressing”, wrote one Redditor) waiting for them in the Exumas, although the festival has yet to be officially called off.

The Fyre Festival Twitter account, which has since deleted its entire tweet history, has so far only issued two advisories to those witnessing first-hand what it describes as “the unexpected start to #FyreFestival”, telling those waiting for flights that they would have their tickets refunded and those on site that festival staff are “working to comfortably accommodate [their] needs”.

Blink-182 had already cancelled their headline slot at the festival, telling fans last night they were “not confident that we have what we need to give you the quality of performances we always give our fans”.

There has, at the time of writing, been no word from the other performers, who include Major Lazer, Pusha T, Disclosure, Skepta and Desiigner.

The festival had been heavily publicised on social media by several wealthy, high-profile  ‘influencers’, including models Emily Ratajkowski and Bella Hadid and Keeping Up with the Kardashians star Kendall Jenner. There has been speculation some of the backers may now face legal action for contravening new regulations on transparency in social-media endorsements.

So hyped to announce my G.O.O.D. Music Family as the first headliners for @fyrefestival. Get tix now at fyrefestival.com. VIP access for my followers… use my promo code KJONFYRE for the next 24 hours to get on the list for the artists and talent afterparty on Fyre Cay. #fyrefestival

A post shared by Kendall (@kendalljenner) on

Matt Halfhill, the founder of trainer/sneaker news site Nice Kicks, posted photos on Twitter that appeared to show festivalgoers housed in disaster relief tents – a scene described by redditor Here_Comes_the_Kingz as looking like a “refugee camp”. Another said the festival resembles “Rich Kids of Instagram meets Lord of the Flies“.

According to an anonymous 4chan user, the US embassy is reportedly now involved, flying “military rescue missions” to retrieve those stranded on the island.

One of Twitter’s most comprehensive documenters of the conditions on site has been @FyreFraud, who yesterday posted a video showing the state of what it jokingly called the “tropical private island owned by [Pablo] Escabar”, showing a barren landscape strewn with rubbish and unassembled accommodation.

Fyre Festival has promised to “provide regular updates and news via email to guest [sic] and our official social media channels as they come”.

 

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Digital Economy Bill signed into law

The Digital Economy Bill 2016-17, which criminalises the use of ticket bots in the UK, has received royal assent and become law.

The bill, which also includes provisions relating to online pornography, direct marketing, digital intellectual property and increasing broadband speed, prohibits the misuse of an “electronic communications network” or “electronic communications service” to bulk-buy tickets.

It also builds on the Consumer Rights Act 2015 by requiring secondary ticket sellers to provide a “unique ticket number that may help the buyer to identify the seat or standing area or its location”.

Matt Hancock, the UK’s minister of state for digital and culture (pictured), says he’s “delighted the Digital Economy Act has become law”, saying the legislation will provide “better support for consumers” and “help build a more connected and stronger economy”.

Anti-ticket touting group FanFair Alliance has welcomed the news, but cautioned that the effectiveness of the bill “will be for nothing” without proper enforcement.

“It is now vital that the UK’s consumer laws are enforced, and recommendations made in the Waterson review are fully implemented”

“On top of government measures to criminalise the bulk-buying of tickets, this relatively minor amendment to the Consumer Rights Act, for a ‘unique ticket number’ to be displayed when a ticket is listed for resale, should greatly increase transparency in the so-called secondary ticketing market,” it said in a statement.

“If enforced, it will give users some assurances that the ticket they are buying actually exists, as well as disrupting the practices of hardcore touts that thrive on sites like Viagogo, StubHub, Get Me In! and Seatwave. FanFair Alliance would like to thank everyone who has supported us in campaigning for these changes – and particularly Nigel Adams MP, Sharon Hodgson MP, Lord Moynihan, Baroness Hayter, Lord Clement-Jones, Lord Stevenson, the late Baroness Heyhoe-Flint and members of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

“We were also heartened that the culture minister has clarified unequivocally that secondary platforms must provide information of any resale restrictions. Going forward, it is now vital that the UK’s consumer laws are enforced, and recommendations made in the Waterson review of secondary ticketing are fully implemented.

“After the general election [on 8 June], we will need details on how all these changes will work in practice. Only then, and combined with a concerted effort from industry and regulators, will this broken market be fixed and British audiences provided with the open and properly functioning resale market they deserve.”

 


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UK Music announces new chief executive

Labour MP Michael Dugher has been named the new chief executive of UK Music, replacing Jo Dipple, who announced her intention to stand down earlier this year.

Dugher (pictured), who will resign as member of parliament for Barnsley East ahead of June’s general election, was sacked as shadow culture secretary in January 2016 after a falling out with party leader Jeremy Corbyn. In parliament, he was known for his advocacy on behalf Britain’s live industry, championing small venues and supporting legislation to curb the secondary ticketing sector.

The MP says he’s “thrilled” to join the music-industry trade body. “I have engaged with the organisation for several years and have seen it go from strength to strength thanks to its board, chairman Andy Heath and previous CEOs Feargal Sharkey and Jo Dipple,” he comments. “There is a great team at UK Music who do brilliant work, and I’m really looking forward to working with them.

“British music is a world-beating industry which brings huge economic benefits for our country. I am determined to work with all the individual members of UK Music […] to ensure our industry is protected during the Brexit process and that we continue to thrive. Safeguarding intellectual property, protecting venues, promoting new opportunities and broadening diversity in the sector are all central to our work at UK Music.

“I am determined to work with all the individual members of UK Music to ensure our industry is protected during the Brexit process and that we continue to thrive”

“Music has been a lifelong passion for me and I’m looking forward to helping make a real difference as UK Music’s new chief executive.”

Andy Heath MBE, UK Music’s chairman, adds: “Michael is a first-class and dynamic choice with a proven track record as a powerful supporter of British music – both the artists and the commercial organisations. He knows the business and politics inside out.

He also pays tribute to Dipple, who “has been a tireless champion for the music sector and has built an organisation which is now a powerful unified voice for the industry”.

Dugher will take up his new position in mid-May.

 


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€3.75m security bill for French music festivals

With France, the world’s fifth-largest market for live music, continuing to be hit by terror attacks on a regular basis – the two most recent of which, in Réunion and Grenoble, occurred just this morning – new research has revealed the extent to which its festivals, already squeezed by rising artist fees, are facing spiralling costs for keeping their patrons safe.

CNV’s Festivals of Contemporary Music in 2016 report, which surveyed 87 events, found France’s festivals spent a combined €3.74 million on security last year – that’s an average of €13,613 each per day, or €42,970 for the entire festival – with security, logistical and technical costs jumping 11% between 2015 and 2016 alone. Spending on security, CNV estimates, now makes up 3% of the average festival’s entire budget.

The study, presented at last week’s Printemps de Bourges festival, reveals that festivals with a budget of less than €1.5m were particularly affected (averaging 3.7% of total expenditure), with those with spending €1.5m+ allocating 2.6% of their budgets for security. Those with a budget of less than €500,000 were worst hit, “because there was previously little security in place at such events”.

While the big promoters will be spending more than small festivals – 2.6% of €1.5m is obviously more than double 3.7% of €500,000 – Live Nation France’s head of festivals, Armel Campagna, told IQ last year that “business is not the most important thing” when it comes to festivalgoers’ safety. “We’re never going to be able go back to the situation prior to 2015,” he said.

Softening the blow slightly is the fact that the 87 festivals surveyed by CNV were all beneficiaries of the Emergency Fund for Live Entertainment (Fonds d’urgence au spectacle vivant), established following the Bataclan attack in November 2015 to assist struggling live entertainment businesses. According to Le Dauphiné Libéré, the fund totalled €18m in 2016, with €4m announced so far for this year.

“Costs for increased security at events could eventually upset financial balances, which remain very fragile”

However, security wasn’t the only thing that cost festivals more in 2016: artist fees, ‘other expenses’, such as marketing and taxes, and technical and logistical expenses (including security costs) and all rose between 2014 and 2016, by 6%, 4% and 7%, respectively (17% in total).

In the same period, average revenues increased by just 18% (7% ‘own revenue’ – ie from tickets and ancillaries – 9% from sponsorship and 2% from government funding), leading the report’s authors, CNV’s Philippe Nicolas, Eva Husson, Séverine Morin, Patricia Sadaoui and Mary Vercauteren, to warn that “even with the implementation of the Emergency Fund, […] costs for increased security at events could eventually upset financial balances, which remain very fragile”.

Though “fragile” some budgets may be, it certainly hasn’t put a dent in ticket sales: the 30 most popular French festivals in 2016 reported their highest attendances at least five years, while CNV, Irma and Sacem’s Barofest 2016 found last April that the “attractiveness of festivals in France is stronger than ever”.

This, said Luc Gaurichon and Malika Séguineau of promoters’ association Prodiss at the MaMA Convention in October, can be attributed to a growing sense among French music fans that simply attending festivals is an act of resistance against those seeking to destroy their way of life: “Even more so than last year, the French believe the entertainment industry helps to fight against the atmosphere of crisis in France. The public report they continue to go to shows to feel emotion and experience exceptional moments to share.”

 


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FKP Scorpio appoints new chief operating officer

German promoter FKP Scorpio has appointed veteran artist manager Freddie de Wall to the newly created position of chief operating officer (COO).

De Wall (pictured) was most recently co-owner and managing director of Hamburg-based management firm Heinrich & de Wall. He began his career as a road manager and booker with now-defunct concert promoter Sunrise, then spent two decades in the label business, working at Phonogram, WEA Records, Metronome, BMG (where he rose to become MD of BMG Denmark) and Edel Music.

At FKP Scorpio, which has since last June been majority owned by CTS Eventim, de Wall will focus on international “project development and coordination, and the strategic development and expansion of new business fields, both domestically and abroad”, according to a statement from Scorpio.

FKP Scorpio’s founder and managing director, Folkert Koopmans, comments: “With Freddie de Wall we have managed to acquire both a passionate and professional expert as COO. His diverse experience and contacts in the international music business will help us to successfully continue our expansion, both nationally and throughout Europe, and to implement the internal structures that are necessary to achieve this.

“With Freddie de Wall we have managed to acquire both a passionate and professional expert as COO”

“We are delighted that Freddie will strengthen the FKP Scorpio team in future as operative head, and that we can tackle the approaching challenges with him.”

“For many years I have observed with interest how purposefully Folkert Koopmans and his team have made FKP Scorpio into one of the most renowned and successful companies in the tough live music market, not only in Germany but throughout Europe,” adds de Wall. “He is a man of action, a great networker and impulse generator for the sector, with his own style.

“I am looking forward to bringing my own experience from many years in the music business to FKP Scorpio, taking responsibility for the operative business at a highly professional promoter and consolidating and further developing the position of the company internationally.”

FKP Scorpio recently won promoter of the year at the German Live Entertainment Awards 2017.

 


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New EDM festival… at Disneyland Paris

Disney Business Solutions, the events arm of Disneyland Paris (DLP), has announced the launch of Electroland, a new one-day electronic dance music (EDM) festival taking over the theme park on the evening of 8 July.

With a capacity of 10,000, Electroland – whose name bears more than a passing resemblance to LiveStyle’s Tomorrowland and Mysteryland festivals, the former of which shares a name with a themed ‘land’ at several Disney parks – will “transform DLP into an EDM haven” with performances by Grammy-nominated DJ Steve Aoki, Australian duo Nervo and French house producer Michael Calfan and visual artist-turned-singer Richard Orlinksi.

“Electroland needs to be seen to be believed”

In addition to the music line-up, an Electroland ticket (priced at €68 for a standard pass or €85 for a ‘privilege’ VIP ticket) will give festivalgoers access to the park’s rides by night.

“With giant LED screens, projection mapping on to one of the park’s most iconic attractions – The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror – some very special guests and surprise immersive elements, all set against a magical Disney backdrop, Electroland needs to be seen to be believed,” reads the launch blurb.

Disney Business Solutions also offers several for-hire venues for corporate events, including the 4,000-cap. Disney Events Arena, as well as the park itself.

 


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eps launches UK business

eps, the German-headquartered, multinational event infrastructure supplier, is to open its first branch in the UK.

Led by managing director Okan Tombulca, eps supplies infrastructure and planning for numerous tours and festivals, including Beyoncé, Coldplay, Rihanna, Rock am Ring, Lollapalooza and Coachella, from its offices in Germany, Denmark, Italy, Poland, Switzerland, Australia, Brazil and the US.

Tombulca explains: “We have not entered the UK market in the past as we had a very successful partnership arrangement with Eve Trakway in the days when it was owned by Rick Barnett and Chris Lowton. We have now joined with them again to form our UK operation.

“We have worked with many UK promoters and organisations worldwide and I am delighted that we can now provide those same services direct”

“We have worked with many UK promoters and organisations worldwide and I am delighted that we can now provide those same services direct.”

eps UK team, based in Worksop, Nottinghamshire, will offer a range of roadway, fencing and barrier systems, including heavy-duty trackway, stage barriers, pedestrian pathways, security fencing systems, temporary lighting and pitch coverings.

eps UK managing director Anthony Sinclair adds: “There are many equipment providers in the UK, but we understand that it is service that is the most important element of any project – and to ensure we always delight our customers is critical. We promise, we deliver. It’s how the eps group was built.”

 


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Global’s Ian Hanson named MelodyVR director

British music VR start-up MelodyVR has appointed Ian Hanson, chief operating officer of Global, as a non-executive director.

Hanson joined commercial radio giant Global – now also the UK’s second-biggest festival promoter – from Evenbase Recruitment, and was previously group operations director of Daily Mail and General Trust and COO of EMI. He replaces Peter Read on the board of MelodyVR parent EVR Holdings.

London-based MelodyVR has partnerships with both Universal Music Group and Warner Music group to develop “virtual-reality music experiences” featuring artists from the major labels’ respective rosters.

“MelodyVR occupies a unique position in a rapidly expanding VR marketplace”

Hanson comments: “I’m very excited to be joining the EVR board and to be a part of a very exciting journey.

“MelodyVR occupies a unique position in a rapidly expanding VR marketplace, and that, together with an impressive management team led by Anthony Matchett, [means] the company is very well placed to grow significantly and to further establish a market-leading position.”

The rise of virtual reality was one of the key talking points of the music business in 2016, with several festivals, promoters and streaming services partnering with VR companies amid wider consumer adoption of the technology.

 


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