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DEAG posts €0.3m profit in H1 2017

Deutsche Entertainment AG (DEAG) today posted encouraging financial results for the first half (H1) of 2017, recording a return to profit following six months of “strong organic growth”.

Turnover rose 14.4%, to €90.2 million, while earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) were €300,000, as compared to a €3.6m loss in H1 2016.

Successful H1 2017 on-sales included “spectator magnets” Ed Sheeran, Iron Maiden, Kiss, Aerosmith, Craig David and the Matapaloz metal festival (Böhse Onkelz, Slayer, Five Finger Death Punch, Papa Roach, Anthrax) at the Hockheimring, with family favourites Disney on Ice and Tini, starring Violetta, and UK concert series Kew the Music and Live at Chelsea also proving popular.

“We’re already looking forward optimistically to 2018”

Ticket sales through DEAG’s local MyTicket portals (in Germany, Austria and the UK) also “contributed significantly”, according to the half-year report.

“We’re already looking forward optimistically to 2018,” writes DEAG founder and CEO Peter Schwenkow, anticipating a strong fourth quarter. “Event pre-sales are quite promising.

“We also reached another important milestone with our recent acquisition of the British event promoter Flying Music Group. That will help us make better use of the growth opportunities in our second home market in the UK. We’re expecting significant growth impulses from our UK business for the upcoming year.”


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Like heavy music? You might be in a hate group

A Canadian music fan has criticised Calgary’s police service for apparently suggesting listening to “heavy rock music” could be a sign a young person is a member of a hate group.

In an information leaflet entitled Signs of a child being part of a hate group, the police force lists “playing loud, heavy rock music with violent lyrics” as an ‘early warning sign’, and police spokesman Corwin Odland says there “tends to be a correlation” between members of extremist groups and being “involved in that kind of music”.

The list has been rebuked by Calgary heavy metal fan Robert Riggs‎, who tells the Toronto Metro the idea of heavy metal fans as violent is an outdated stereotype. “My son, he listens to heavy metal, and he’s one of the nicest kids ever, but I tend to see him lumped into a group he doesn’t belong in,” he says.

“It’s kind of gone the way of [the idea that] video games cause violence and things like that. It’s not monkey see, monkey do. Kids see their parents go to work all time, and they don’t suddenly get up and find a job at seven years old.”

The list has since been updated to remove the word “rock” from the description, although the reference to “heavy music” remains.


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Fyre Festival company placed into bankruptcy

Robert Knuts, a lawyer representing three Fyre Festival investors, has said he is looking forward “to finding out where the money went” after successfully forcing the company behind the doomed event into bankruptcy.

New York judge Martin Glenn placed Fyre Festival LLC into chapter-seven bankruptcy, or liquidation, on Tuesday, following pressure from Knuts’s Sher Tremonte law firm, which is aiming to recoup US$530,000 invested in the disastrous Bahamas festival by John Nemeth, Raul Jimenez and Andrew Newman.

As part of the ruling, Glenn has ordered Fyre Festival LLC to prepare documents showing all monies owed by the company.

Though Knuts represents a group of more than 20 investors (who collectively lent the festival some $4 million), theirs is just one of a number of lawsuits targeting Fyre Festival and its organisers, Billy McFarland, Ja Rule and their company Fyre Media.

Lawyers seek big wins over Fyre Festival woes

McFarland, who became the public face of the festival, was arrested in July, charged with operating a “scheme to defraud investors” out of almost $1.2m. He was later released on bail, and is currently in plea-bargain negotiations with the US government.


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“Substantial irregularities” in Kanye records, says counterclaim

Several Lloyd’s of London insurers are counter-suing Kanye West, alleging representatives for the rapper’s company, Very Good Touring (VGT), “wilfully concealed and or misrepresented relevant facts” in an effort to thwart underwriters’ investigation into the partial cancellation of his Saint Pablo tour.

West called off the remainder of the North American tour on 21 November 2016, two days after cutting short a show in Sacramento and embarking on a 25-minute, apparently unscripted onstage rant praising Donald Trump and criticising Hillary Clinton, Jay Z, Beyoncé and Facebook. He was later admitted to a Los Angeles mental hospital, Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, apparently suffering from exhaustion and sleep deprivation.

Earlier this month it was reported VGT was suing several syndicates at Lloyd’s of London, the insurance market, for breach of contract after they refused to pay out for the cancelled shows. The suit alleges the Lloyd’s insurers told West that “they may deny coverage of the claim on the unsupportable contention that use of marijuana by Kanye caused the medical condition”.

In a counterclaim, filed in US district court for central California on Tuesday, five Lloyd’s underwriters – Cathedral Syndicate 2010, Liberty Syndicate 4472, XL Catlin Syndicate 2003, Markel Syndicate 3000 and Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty – deny implying that West’s use of cannabis “provides the sole basis” for their denial of the US$10.8m claim, instead accusing his representatives of sabotaging their investigation, “contrary to the duties of cooperation VGT agreed to as a condition” of the policy.

“Throughout underwriters’ investigation, VGT and its legal, medical and other agents and representatives have delayed, hindered, stalled and/or refused to provide information both relevant and necessary for underwriters to complete their investigation of the claim,” reads the complaint.

The investigation has turned up “substantial irregularities in Mr West’s medical history”

“Underwriters are informed and believe, and thereon, these same persons have wilfully concealed and or misrepresented relevant facts in an effort to thwart underwriters’ investigation.”

The suit also says the insurers’ investigation, based on “documents and other information necessary to determine VGT’s entitlement to coverage under the policy”, has turned up “substantial irregularities in Mr West’s medical history”, although it declined to provide specifics.

While the plaintiffs – who have demanded a jury trial – maintain they are unable to reach a conclusion until VGT supplies “additional information requested” as part of their investigation, West’s lawyer, Howard King, criticised the counterclaim as amounting to the “same generic response Lloyd’s files in all cases when they don’t want to honour a legitimate claim but can’t find a factual basis to deny a claim.

“We look forward to the day a jury awards our client the full amount of the policy he purchased, plus interest at 10% per annum, along with punitive damages.”

A similar lawsuit, brought by Foo Fighters against several Lloyd’s brokers for “inconsistent, erratic and unreasonable behaviour” after the partial cancellation of the band’s Sonic Highways tour, was dismissed by the same court last October.


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Rob da Bank, Foals join campaign to save the Cellar

Local bands Foals, Ride and Glass Animals, along with DJ and Bestival founder Rob da Bank, are among those to have signed a new petition opposing the impending closure of the Cellar, one of Oxford’s best-loved independent music venues.

The 150-capacity basement club – established 40 years ago by local promoter Adrian Hopkins and now managed by his son, Tim – is to be turned into a retail space, landlord St Michael’s and All Saints’ Charities announced earlier this week.

In addition to Foals, Glass Animals et al., the Cellar has hosted early-career shows by Mumford & Sons, The xx, Young Knives, Stornoway, Diplo and Friendly Fires, and is recognised as a “pivotal venue in the development of Oxford’s musical history”, according to the petition, which is already close to its 10,000-signature target.

Tim Hopkins comments: “It is devastating news, not just for the Cellar team, but for the Oxford music scene as a whole. The loss of an important cultural asset such as the Cellar is a matter of concern for everyone – not just the music fans and musicians of Oxford. It should be of concern to anyone who cares about jobs, the night-time economy, local creativity and the social community of the city. We appreciate the pressures that may be felt by St Michael’s and All Saints’ Charities, but the aims of the charity are not furthered by losing such a vital local space.

“It’s quite clear that the people of Oxford want the Cellar to stay”

“We would welcome the opportunity to work with St Michael’s and All Saints’ to look at an alternative way to increase their income, if this is their aim, but we have yet to be consulted on this. Working together could led to economic benefits for the charity, and we urge the trustees to pause and consider the wider benefits that a cultural space such as the Cellar brings to the local community.”

Mark Davyd of Music Venue Trust says allowing the conversion of the venue to a shop would be contrary to Oxford City Council’s culture strategy. “We urge St Michaels and All Saints to withdraw their application and work with the Cellar to develop a proposal that protects this important venue,” he comments. “Oxford City Council have a very clear cultural strategy, and converting a fantastic cultural asset like the Cellar into a retail space quite obviously flies in the face of that, as well as the needs of local people.

“It’s quite clear that the people of Oxford want the Cellar to stay, and we hope the charity will recognise this and reconsider their plans.”

IQ revealed earlier this month that publicly funded arts body Arts Council England has allocated just 0.06% of its total funding to popular music venues in its 2018–22 grants.


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Buma/Stemra delays annual report after financial “errors”

Buma/Stemra has postponed the publication of its 2016 annual report after an investigation turned up “errors” in its financial reporting, its CEO has announced.

Wim van Limpt, who has led the Dutch collection society since 2016, has promised a package of reforms to make Buma/Stemra a more “market-oriented, viable and transparent organisation”, after law firm NautaDutilh discovered irregularities – including unacceptably high costs, amounting to a “failure to comply with accounting rules” – in its provisional 2016 accounts.

“I regret the results of the investigation but am relieved that questions have now been answered and measures can be taken to fix the mistakes,” he told Buma/Stemra’s board and more than 26,000 members on Monday. “With the additional measures and the already initiated organisational improvements, nothing stands in the way of becoming the kind of organisation that should be expected of us.”

Van Limpt (pictured) brought in NautaDutilh as an auditor earlier this year after his queries about Buma/Stemra’s accounts “could not be answered internally”, he explains. The firm discovered Buma/Stemra’s board of directors were “not adequately informed about important financial decisions” – and, most damningly, that there was a “culture of budgeting” at the organisation that caused large amounts of money to be set aside as a ‘buffer’ in case of financial difficulties.

According to the NRC Handelsblad, the former management had, by the end of 2015 alone, managed to set aside around €6 million by not recording suppliers’ invoices in Buma/Stemra’s books.

“I regret the results of the investigation but am relieved that questions have now been answered”

“These costs […] were not included in the bookkeeping, and were not always recorded at the time that the costs were actually incurred,” says spokesman Frank Janssen.

Buma/Stemra declined to comment on any disciplinary action against the employees concerned.

Buma/Stemra’s former CEO, Hein van der Ree, left the organisation in early 2016 as his salary exceeded that allowed by a Dutch law regulating public-sector pay.

Van Limpt says the corrected annual report will be published shortly, following the implementation of a system of “high-quality, transparent and automated data processing” of its accounts. “The annual accounts will be drawn up on the basis of the findings and presented to members for approval at an extra general members’ meeting to be held soon,” he explains.

IQ revealed last year that Buma – the PRO component of Buma/Stemra, with Stemra overseeing mechanical rights – was to abolish its controversial practice of offering live tariff rebates to promoters after consulting with “all market players, including authors and performers”.


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Raise Your Voice: Pre-election Reeperbahn gets political

Reeperbahn Festival has finalised its festival and conference agendas for 2017, announcing the dates, times and venues for all events, as well as a special conference strand – Raise Your Voice – focusing on music and political engagement ahead of the German general election on 24 September.

“Pop is (and always has been) political,” reads a statement from the popular music industry event, which returns to Hamburg from 20 to 23 September. “Bands and artists have addressed important sociopolitical issues in their songs, and since the 1960s pop music has provided the soundtrack, as well as support, for major social transformations.

“Nevertheless, when those in the entertainment world – including musicians and businesses in the music industry – stand up for what they believe in, they are often subject to public criticism. Why that is, and what the music world can do to raise its voice and take a stand without coming across as inauthentic – this is something that will be explored in several panel discussions.”

Said panel discussions include Musik Bewegt – Wie geht Haltung?, in which artists Herbert Grönemeyer (pictured) Ingo Pohlmann and Fetsum will join representatives from Sea Watch, Doctors Without Borders and Viva con Agua to discuss the impact of social and political engagement; and Pop Goes Politics, with Fetsum (who came to Germany as a refugee), Büro für Offensivkultur founder Heinz Ratz and Global Citizen Festival Hamburg organiser Carolin Albrecht, which covers protest and political engagement in the pop world.

Music in the Middle East, meanwhile, will focus on the influence of music in a region afflicted by crises and war, with artists Shahin Najafi and Yasmine Hamdan and Cooking Vinyl/Palestine Music Expo founder Martin Goldschmidt.

All festival and conference events can be found on the Reeperbahn Festival website or the iOS and Android apps.


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EventBooking completes 6,500-mile workshop tour

Staff from EventBooking, a US developer of online booking and management software for venues, have returned home to Knoxville, Tennessee, after a 6,578-mile (10,586km) road trip visiting venues across the country.

The nationwide tour – which saw founder and CEO John Platillero, along with two other EventBooking team members, host free roundtable discussions about the evolution of technology in live events – made 18 venue visits and was attended by 200 staff from more than 50 venues. It kicked off in Knoxville, then continued north to Michigan and west to California, before returning to Tennessee.

“The purpose of this trip was to get out from behind our desks, put the phone down and visit venues,” says Platillero. “We simply wanted to hear from venue professionals about how their jobs could be more seamless. What issues do people have day to day as they run their venue? What sort of advancements in venue technology could alleviate those?”

Charlie Lewis, who accompanied Platillero, adds: “What stands out most from our journey is the fact that there’s no substitute for engaging the people of this industry face to face. Our gears are turning here at EventBooking as a result of each discussion, and we are excited to implement ideas for how we can make everyone’s day a little better and more simple.”

The tour, dubbed the Road to VenueConnect 2017, culminated at the annual IAVM VenueConnect conference in Nashville. Ticketmaster served as a partner, and sent representatives to contribute to the discussions.


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Alpha Omega to open office in UK

Italian metal agency Alpha Omega Management is to open a UK and Ireland office as part of a “collaborative partnership” with UK-based Enso Music Management.

Enso – an artist management and PR company, also specialising in heavy metal, based in the south-west of England – says the collaboration will “promote, support and develop the career of both [companies’] rosters around the world”. Metal heavyweights represented by Alpha Omega include Steve Di Giorgio, Omen, Node, DRI (Dirty Rotten Imbeciles) and Norway’s Ancient, while Enso’s management roster includes Perpetua, Fractions and and Xerosun.

“Enso Music Management & PR is proud to announce a collaborative partnership with Alpha Omega Management to promote, support and develop the career of both rosters around the world,” say Enso’s Rachael Harrison and Dorothy Demeester in a joint statement. “We entered this collaboration as, more than ever, we want to share our passion for music and team up with people as passionate as we are.

“We want to share our passion for music and team up with people as passionate as we are”

“This passion for music is what we found in the Alpha Omega team, so it was obvious for us to join forces with them and start a new exciting journey, dedicated to our bands and the development of their career. We are really proud of this and looking forward to building up the best structure to give the best support our artists.”

Alex Azzali (pictured), Alpha Omega’s general manager, explains the UK/Irish office joins the agency’s HQ in Italy and branch offices in the Americas and Ukraine/Russia. He continues: “Earlier this year we launched the new brand of [tour] services, Alpha Omega Tours, and just recently we inaugurated our new management branch, dedicated to the needs and interests of session musicians and solo artists.

“Our hard-working team has [put in the] hours to reach every target and milestone we set at the beginning of our journey, and today we are proud to be considered a highly valued band and artist management company, gaining appreciation from the music scene worldwide.”


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“Misleading” Viagogo facing Australia court case

Viagogo is facing legal action in Australia after being accused by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) of multiple breaches of consumer law over its “misleading” ticket pricing.

ACCC alleges the secretive, Swiss-headquartered secondary ticketer “made false or misleading representations, and engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct, regarding the price of tickets on its online platform by failing to disclose substantial fees” from 1 May 2017 to 26 June 2017.

“We allege that Viagogo failed to disclose significant and unavoidable fees upfront in the ticket price, including a 27.6% booking fee for most events and a handling fee,” says Delia Rickard, the deputy chair of ACCC, a government body responsible for bringing legal actions against companies that breach Australia’s Competition and Consumer Act.

ACCC, acting on information from consumers’ association Choice, cites several examples of the alleged illegal pricing, including the price of a ticket to The Book of Mormon increasing 31%, from A$135 to $177.45, after factoring in booking and handling fees, and two Cat Stevens tickets costing 29% more ($579.95, rather than $450) after fees.

Choice shops secondary ticket sites to Aus govt

It is also alleged Viagogo misled consumers by flagging tickets as almost sold out, without making clear this referred only to tickets listed on Viagogo, as well as promoting itself as an ‘official’ (ie primary) ticket seller on Google, mirroring the similar recent controversy in the UK.

Statements such as “‘less than 1% of tickets remaining’ created a sense of urgency for people to buy them straight away, when tickets may have still been available through other ticket sources”, adds Rickard, while the use of the term ‘official” implies “that consumers could buy official original tickets, when in fact Viagogo is a platform for tickets that are being [sold on] by others”.

ACCC, which says it has received 473 complaints about Viagogo so far this year, is seeking “declarations, injunctions, pecuniary penalties, corrective publication orders, orders for a compliance programme and costs” from the Federal Court of Australia.

“The ACCC expects all ticket reselling websites to be clear and upfront about the fees they charge, the type of tickets they sell and the nature of their business,” says Rickard.


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