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AEG Presents promoter exits to form management co

After 11 years at AEG Live/Presents and Goldenvoice, concert promoter Rebeca León is stepping down to focus on her artist management company, Lionfish Entertainment.

León, currently senior vice-president of Latin talent at the AEG Presents, has plotted US-wide tours for major Latin music artists including Enrique Iglesias, Mana, Juanes, Wisin y Yandel and Romeo Santos, and helped establish LA Live/Staples Centre as “the premiere destination for Latin artists” in LA, says AEG.

Under her leadership, the Latin division was responsible for 700 shows, selling more than 2.3m tickets and grossing over US $188m.

Her music clients at Lionfish include Colombian stars Juanes and J. Balvin.

“AEG Presents and Goldenvoice has been an amazing place for me to learn the concert promotion business and grow my career,” says León (pictured). “The company has been incredibly supportive of my efforts to build the Latin business both here in Los Angeles and as a national touring platform.

“It was a difficult decision to leave AEG Presents, but it’s the right time for me to focus all of my energy on artist management”

“It was a difficult decision to leave AEG Presents, but it’s the right time for me to focus all of my energy on artist management. And I know there will be future projects down the road that I will work on with my friends at AEG.”

The companies plan to collaborate on J. Balvin’s upcoming sold-out US tour.

“We are sorry to see Rebeca leave the concert promotion business,” adds Rick Mueller, president of AEG Presents North America. “Rebeca is incredibly talented, creative and passionate about Latin music and her artists. Her management clients will undoubtedly benefit from having her full-time attention to further their careers.”

Hans Schafer replaces León to head up Latin promotions.

Goldenvoice lost its senior VP of talent buying, Lesley Olenik, to Live Nation earlier this month.


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Dice launches in the US

Disruptive UK ticketing company Dice is to launch in the United States, it announced this morning.

Initially offering tickets to shows in Los Angeles and San Francisco (Sam Smith, Khalid, Matthew Dear and Vevo’s SF Hallowe’en event in San Francisco are among its first events), Dice US has big plans for the world’s largest, and most competitive, ticketing market, says Dice founder and CEO Phil Hutcheon.

“We’re focused on a younger demographic that’s fed up with how ticketing is,” says Hutcheon. “They’re disengaging, and we need to be careful because live music is in competition with Netflix, with bars [and] with eating out”.

“We have ambitious plans to roll out across the US in the coming months”

“If you keep screwing over fans, they won’t come back. Dice is the ethical platform that fans trust to get tickets. We get fans in, keep scalpers out and we have ambitious plans to roll out across the US in the coming months.”

Dice launched in the UK in 2014, carving out a niche with a booking fee-free model that ties tickets to mobile devices, making unauthorised resale impossible. It earlier this month announced it was introducing ‘hangover days’ for worse-for-wear staff, and in May debuted an industry first no-questions-asked refunds policy for customers no longer able to attend shows.


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‘I couldn’t pay Marc Bolan’: Michael Eavis on Glasto’s history

Glastonbury Festival founder Michael Eavis spoke on the history and ethos behind the event, his charity work, increasing capacity and the backlash to booking Jay-Z in an entertaining, anecdote-packed keynote interview at the International Festival Forum (IFF) this morning.

Interviewed by CAA agent Emma Banks, Eavis – who wore his trademark shorts and sandals and spent the entire hour on his feet – recounted Glastonbury’s remarkable story, starting at the very beginning. As a young man, he said, “I went to sea to see the world. Unfortunately, my father died when I was 19, so I had to come back and manage the farm.”

After an epiphany at 1970’s Bath Festival – “I fell in love,” he explained. “They had Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, all these west coast [US] bands” – Eavis decided to use the newly inherited Worthy Farm for a festival of his own. “[Bath] was my road to Damascus,” he said. “The next day I was on the phone to bands.”

After a deal with the Kinks fell through, Eavis booked Tyrannosaurus Rex, whose frontman, Marc Bolan, headlined the first Glastonbury – then called Worthy Farm Pop Festival – on his way to a Butlins holiday camp. Bolan was paid £500, while 500 festivalgoers paid £1 each to attend – and were given free milk by dairy farmer Eavis. “I couldn’t pay the band,” Eavis continued. “Marc did a marvellous set, with the sun going down; it was wonderful. I told him, ‘I can’t pay you, but I’ll give you £100 per month for five months.’ He got paid, but he wasn’t happy about it.”

After a free festival in 1971 and a smaller, ad-hoc event in 1979, Glastonbury became an annual fixture in the 1980s, with Eavis organising the festival in partnership with the left-wing Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND).

Eavis said Glastonbury really came into own in 1985, when then-defence secretary Michael Heseltine – a vocal opponent of the CND – ordered Stonehenge off limits to the so-called New Age travellers, resulting in the ‘Battle of the Beanfield’ between travellers and Wiltshire police.

“If you’re well off enough to live like I do, that’s enough for me”

“We’d been going half-cocked until then, breaking even and not making any money,” explained Eavis. “[After Stonehenge was closed] we had 50,000 people came down to Glastonbury instead. All that Stonehenge stuff, the hippies, the creativity, they all came down my lovely farm. It was the middle of the [Margaret] Thatcher years, there was a lot of discontent, and people saw me as a decent bloke and came to work for me for free.”

Many of the class of ’85, he added, still work for Glastonbury Festival as part of its legion of programmers and crew.

Fast-forward to 2000, and the festival had been become “huge”, said Eavis –”We were getting more and more popular, for some reason; people came to us like lemmings from Europe, we had planes full of people from Japan…” – who was by then having trouble obtaining a licence for the event.

“That was the year all those people died as Roskilde [nine people were killed in a fatal crush during a Pearl Jam show], and the police came to me and said, ‘You’re not running it properly.’ So I had to go Melvin [Benn] and Vince Power at Mean Fiddler.”

This satisfied the police, said Eavis, that “we knew what we were doing, because he [Benn] knew what he was doing!” – although Eavis added that he taught the now-Festival Republic chief “everything he knows”. (Benn parted company with Glastonbury in 2012.)

Eavis attributes the staying power of Glastonbury to the team he has assembled; in addition to his own family, there are some 100,000 staff on site (joining the 150,000 ticketholders), working in capacities ranging from crew and production staff to the programmers, each of whom have a large degree of autonomy to run their own areas (Shangri-La, Arcadia, the Green Fields, etc.) as they see fit.

“We ended up selling our last ticket on the Thursday night before the festival”

“I’ve got all this trust in all these people, and that’s really what makes the show so successful, I think,” he commented.

One of Glastonbury’s most successful recent exports is Arcadia – it of giant metal spider fame. Recalling the project’s genesis, Eavis said: “They came to me and said they needed £20,000 to buy some cranes for sale from Southampton docks because they were going to build a spider. I gave them the £20k – I didn’t even know these two boys – but it’s been a huge success, and they’re currently in Korea with it.”

“People are full of ideas,” he continued, “and what’s more, they can put them together and make them work. It’s not hippie nonsense.”

Turning to booking, Banks asked about 2008, when Eavis was persuaded by his daughter, Emily, to book Jay-Z – a decision criticised by many at the time, not least Noel Gallagher, as supposedly being against the festival’s ethos.

“That year, we were in real trouble,” Eavis remembered. “We weren’t selling. I thought we might have to cancel, as we didn’t have a headliner, but Emily said, ‘Jay-Z will do it’. I said, ‘Who’s he?’

“I spoke to his agent in LA, and he said, ‘I don’t think it’s our kind of music, Michael. [Glastonbury is] a bunch of hippies living in the Welsh mountains.’ I said, ‘We’re miles from Wales! And we come from all over, mainly from cities: Newcastle, Birmingham, London…’

“It costs about £30m to build the show, with about £2m left over – and we give away £2m to various charities”

“Eventually I talked to him into it. I said, ‘It’s the best thing you’ll ever do.’ So he said, ‘OK – we’ll do your show.’

“Then it was announced. Noel said it was rubbish, and the hoo-ha went on for months. We needed to sell another 50,000 to break even – we’d only sold 80,000 tickets by that point – and I was frantic. I thought we were going to go bust.

“We ended up selling our last ticket on the Thursday night before the festival. It was huge in the end… and it made Jay-Z, didn’t it?”

Eavis said he didn’t see any contradiction between Glastonbury’s largely (until that point) focus on rock/pop and the booking of a major hip-hop star. “It’s what Glastonbury does,” he explained. “It’s bold, it was different… and that’s what Glastonbury’s all about. Doing something different.”

He added that Jay-Z’s performance opened the floodgates to a new generation of US stars who want to play the festival. “Beyoncé couldn’t wait to do it, all her friends wanted to do it. Then we had Kanye [West], which was a great show – although I have to admit, I was watching the Moody Blues at the time…”

Looking to the future, Eavis revealed the festival is “looking at increasing the numbers by about 30,000”, pushing Glastonbury’s capacity up to 280,000 (for fans and staff combined). “We started with 100 acres; we’re now up to 1,500 acres,” he explained.

“I’ve got all this trust in these people, and that’s really what makes the show so successful, I think:

“We’re looking at increasing that, but I don’t think we need to really. I’m not desperate to increase it. There’s value in it being smaller and harder to get to – it makes it a bit more exclusive…”

While an extra 30,000 tickets – each guaranteed to sell – would be a dream come true for most festival promoters, Eavis, as Banks noted, gives the vast majority of its profits away to charity. “It costs about £30m to build the show, with about £2m left over,” said Eavis, “and we give away £2m to various charities.

“If you’re well off enough to live like I do, with a wonderful farm, a wonderful family, that’s enough for me.”

Glastonbury will in 2018 take its regular year off, or ‘fallow year’, to give the land a chance to recover, and Eavis said he will spend the year largely focusing on a new social housing development in Pilton, where he is funding 50 homes for “working-class people” in Glastonbury Festival’s home village. “They’ll always be available for rent,” he said. “They’ll never be sold.”

Agreeing with Banks it probably has roots in his Methodist faith, Eavis said his priorities have always been “on all that John Wesley stuff: to do all you can for society and give it away.

“If I can make my show work, and people have faith in me, that’s money in the bank… that’s worth a lot.”


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20% increase in delegates at 12th Reeperbahn Festival

The number of delegates at Reeperbahn Festival 2017 increased almost 20% year on year, from 3,700 to 4,400, organisers have announced, following another successful year for the German conference and showcase festival.

The total number of guests, both industry and consumer, topped 40,000 – a new record – with attendees from 57 nations making the pilgrimage to Hamburg on 20–23 September.

The music programme comprised more than 600 concerts by 420 artist/bands, including the German solo debut for former Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher and a show by ex-Gossip singer Beth Ditto.

“We have experienced a Reeperbahn Festival of the highest quality,” says Alexander Schulz, the event’s director and founder, “offering a programme of an unprecedented level in terms of concerts as well as film, art and the conference.

“We have experienced a Reeperbahn Festival of the highest quality”

“I do not only refer to the increased number of options for all sectors to do international business. We have also experienced the strongest Reeperbahn Festival in terms of social policy. The goal we set ourselves yesterday, to close the gender gap at our own event by 2022, is only one example.”

The focus country for Reeperbahn 2017 was Canada, with France set to follow in 2018. Marc Thonon, CEO of French Music Export, comments:  “In 2006, at the very first edition of Reeperbahn Festival, Le Bureau Export was one of the first export offices to partner with the event. Over the past 12 years, this partnership has made possible numerous showcases, networking events and conferences where the artistic variety of music made in France has had the chance to shine through.

“[Next year] will be the height of this longstanding cross-cultural collaboration with even more sessions, meetings and opportunities for French music industry professionals to share their work and experiences. The timing could not be better, as Le Bureau Export celebrates its 25th anniversary of helping French and international music professionals work together to promote artists ‘made in France’ around the world.”

Reeperbahn will return from 19 to 22 September 2018.


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“Hugely ambitious” Sound City Satellite planned for 2018

British showcase festival Liverpool Sound City is to take to the road next year, with a new touring event, Sound City Satellite, set to visit other towns in the north of England throughout April and May.

Sound City Satellite will tour towns between Liverpool and Manchester – as well as along the M62 corridor, which extends as far as Hull – in a bid to shine a “national and international spotlight” on the areas by showcasing their creative and cultural credentials. Participating towns will be announced in early 2018.

“If there’s one thing that Brexit taught us, it’s that there is a sense of social disenfranchisement between the significant suburbs that lie between the cities of Liverpool and Manchester and along the M62 corridor,” comments Sound City CEO David Pichilingi. “This should not be the case, when you consider that this great region has been responsible for some of the most important pieces of pop culture over the past 50 years. Going back further, the region has been responsible for some of the greatest innovations of the 20th century.

“Sound City Satellite is a hugely ambitious project. It strikes right at the heart of what we originally set out to do: to champion emerging business and artistic talent from our region and give them the belief that they do not need to move away in order to fulfil their potential and run successful businesses. The aim will be to foster a spirit of inclusion; that we are all in this together.

“It is not meant as a snub to London, but it is meant to help people view the bigger picture as well as encourage artists and businesses to stay in the north and build a real business economy outside of the capital.”

“The aim will be to foster a spirit of inclusion: that we are all in this together”

Steve Rotheram, Liverpool’s metro mayor, adds: “Music and the music industry have always straddled the rivalries between our two great cities [Liverpool and Manchester] and have flourished in many towns across our region. It’s an expression of a shared creative DNA that has continued to nurture and launch world-class talent. This is a great idea and a great opportunity to celebrate and enjoy something that unites us.”

The Sound City Satellite tour will conclude at Liverpool Sound City 2018 on 5–6 May, which returns to Liverpool city centre after a year at Clarence Dock in 2017 for its 10th anniversary celebrations.

Sound City COO Becky Ayres says: “We delivered three hugely ambitious and successful years of Sound City on the north docklands of Liverpool. Sound City was the first to shine a beacon on this neglected area of the city and, by doing so, we’ve even encouraged Everton FC to relocate to our former festival site.

“We now feel it is time for us to come back to the city centre and embark on the next stage of our journey. [Next year] will be all about re-establishing new links and a new feel. This will also lead us into the hugely ambitious plans that we have for 2019, which will be revealed over the coming months.”

The new venue will be revealed in the coming weeks, with artist applications for 2018 also opening soon.

Sound City last year welcomed investment from Modern Sky Entertainment, the company behind China’s successful Strawberry Music Festivals.


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UK industry pros prepare for 7th APL charity bike ride

An intrepid group of 24 UK events industry stalwarts will embark from Newcastle on Friday 6 October for the seventh annual APL charity cycle ride, this year in aid of the Graham Wylie Foundation.

Paul Ludford, senior partner of event management company APL Event, has organised charity bike rides from the west to east coast of the UK for the past seven years, handpicking his team for “combined athletic and drinking prowess”. Last year’s ride raised £13,355 for the Rainbow Trust.

This year’s ride takes in a more than 200-mile route from Newcastle to Edinburgh. The riders are Paul Ludford, Anita Ludford, Phil Ludford, Katherine Ludford, Jim Mawdsley, John Fairs, Tyrone Brunton, Geoff Gorringe, Nigel Gilbert, Neil Fenwick, Rob Moody, Simon Miller, Kevin Thorburn, Nick Grecian, Patrick Chen, Dean Crame, Graham Cochrane, Lynne Armstrong, Ian Davison, Chris Lowton, Jon Sigsworth, Graham Brown, Neill Findlay and Jim Gaffney.

The Graham Wylie Foundation provides grants to fund equipment, buildings, staff and assets for the benefit of children and young people. To donate the APL cycle ride, visit


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Live Nation launches own Messenger bot

Live Nation Entertainment has followed its subsidiary, Ticketmaster, in launching a chatbot for Facebook Messenger, with the aim of converting more of the 1.3bn people who use the app every month into Live Nation customers.

Bots have increased in popularity in the music business in recent months, with StubHub (for Skype), Universal Music (text message-based) and ticket search engine TickX (for Messenger) among the companies now using so-called conversational commerce to sell tickets.

Live Nation explains how its bot works:

Or, if you can’t imagine it, the gif below shows how to buy tickets with friends:

Live Nation chatbot, sharing with friends


“Concerts are extremely social experiences, and we’re excited to introduce a concert discovery tool that embodies that social spirit,” says Lisa Licht, Live Nation Concerts’ CMO. “Whether fans choose to interact with our new bot one on one, or get their friends involved in the planning, we think they’ll have a lot of fun finding shows to go to.”

The bot is live now, initially featuring events in North America. To start chatting, users can search for ‘Live Nation Concerts’ in the Messenger app or visit Live Nation Concerts’ Facebook page and click the ‘message’ button.


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Singapore’s Temasek takes stake in CAA

Temasek Holdings, a sovereign wealth fund in Singapore, has made a “strategic investment” in Creative Artists Agency (CAA).

The investment from Temasek – a state-owned holding company whose portfolio is worth around S$275 billion (US$200bn) – will be used to further CAA’s “tremendous growth, including by acquisitions”, the agency said today. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, although TPG Capital remains CAA’s majority owner.

Temasek’s other investments in media and entertainment include Alibaba, SoundCloud and broadcaster Mediacorp.

“Today’s announcement speaks to the incredible growth and relentless innovation across all areas of the agency”

“As one the most successful and sophisticated investors in the world, Temasek provides an extraordinary level of insight and resources as we continue to provide the best opportunities for the company and our clients,” comments CAA president Richard Lovett.

“Today’s announcement speaks to the incredible growth and relentless innovation across all areas of the agency. We have a combination of partners that provide global firepower for our continued success.”

The buy-in from Tamesek follows April’s minority investment by CMC Capital Partners, which led to the creation of a dedicated Chinese division for the agency.


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Function(x) furloughs 75% of its employees

Three quarters of staff at Function(x), the troubled online business founded by former SFX Entertainment CEO Robert Sillerman, have been effectively laid off, with the company telling investors it lacks the funds to pay them.

In its most recent 8-K filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Function(x) reveals it has been operating with a skeleton staff since 15 September, when 22 of its 31 employees were put on indefinite furlough owing to a lack of “sufficient available funds to continue their employment at this time”.

A furlough – a term chiefly used in the US – is a temporary leave of absence imposed on employees by a company, especially one facing unfavourable economic circumstances.

“Any such decision by the company will depend, in part, on whether adequate funding can be obtained”

In Function(x)’s case, the business says it is “considering whether it will offer any or all of the furloughed employees re-employment” – a decision dependent, “in part, on whether adequate funding can be obtained, and there is no such assurance that may happen”.

Function(x), which specialises in ‘viral’ online content, has been in a downward spiral since early summer, culminating in its delisting from the Nasdaq stock exchange after failing to file an up-to-date current report. In June, auditors for the company resigned after discovering alleged “insufficiently authorised cash disbursements” to Sillerman from its bank accounts.


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Major players bid to awaken China’s “sleeping giant”

The past week has seen a flurry of activity in the fast-growing – but still largely untapped – Chinese live music business, with two global players launching of new ventures with the potential to shake up a market already predicted to grow by ~7% annually through 2021.

Ecommerce giant Alibaba Group, which turned over ¥158.3 billion (US$23.9bn) in the 2017 financial year, and claims to be the world’s biggest retailer, on 19 September announced the launch of a dedicated live entertainment division, to encompass ticketing, content creation and the live experience.

According to Yu Yongfu, president of Alibaba’s Digital Media and Entertainment Group, the new company, described only as the live entertainment business group (阿里文娱现场娱乐事业群), is a “key part” of Alibaba’s strategy to grow its presence in the entertainment market, where it already has interests in film distribution and production, artist booking and management, and streaming music and video.

Ticketing for the new venture will be handled by – China’s largest entertainment ticketing platform, acquired by Alibaba in March – with its subsidiaries MaiLive and Maizuo, hitherto largely involved in online movie ticketing, leveraging Alibaba’s data to produce live shows, reports TechNode.

Alibaba’s long-awaited move into live events – predicted by IQ as far back as May 2016 – comes as Australia’s TEG announces what it calls a “game-changing” partnership with major Chinese ticketer YongLe to launch a cloud-based ticketing platform in China. The platform, expected to be launched in 2018, will be branded YunTek, which translates as “cloud technology”.

“This is a game changer. We believe YunTek will disrupt the entire Chinese live entertainment market”

TEG, which owns leading Australian ticketer Ticketek, as well as promoters TEG Live, TEG Dainty (formed last July following the acquisition of Paul Dainty’s Dainty Group) and Life Like Touring, last month launched a new division, TEG Asia, focused on expanding its activities in the continent. TEG says YunTek, a self-service platform, will be “one of the most sophisticated end-to-end ticketing and live event management platforms that have ever been developed”.

“This is a game changer, as we believe YunTek will disrupt the entire Chinese live entertainment market,” says TEG CEO Geoff Jones. “Not only are we delivering a new and innovative ticketing solution to the Chinese market, we are upending the traditional live events value chain.”

Ren Wang, CEO of YongLe, adds that the JV represents a “combination of the largest ticketing and entertainment businesses in the region”. “We are pleased to be joining forces with TEG, one of the largest and most respected ticketing companies globally,” adds Wang. “We believe TEG’s experience in both ticketing and live entertainment will ensure the success of the YunTek platform.”

The movement in the live market follows huge growth for the Chinese recorded music industry; 20.3% in 2016, according to IFPI, driven by an increase of 30.6% in streaming. In terms of revenue, China has yet to break the global top ten, with piracy still a problem – although analysts believe rising incomes and a government crackdown on piracy is slowly changing that, with many pointing to China as a ‘sleeping giant’ music economy ready to explode.

According to PwC’s Global entertainment and media outlook 2017-2021, the Chinese live music industry was worth US$217 million in 2016, and is set to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.721%, reaching $301m in 2021.

“Australia currently has a greater music market on account of its superior live industry. Not for long: China’s music market is sprinting”

“For a nation with some 1.38bn residents (and further population growth on the horizon due to the relaxing of the one-child policy), the legitimate market has until now been tagged as a sleeping giant,” reads the report. “Australia, with a population of just 24m, currently has a greater music market in terms of total revenue on account of its superior live industry. Not for long: China’s music market is sprinting.”

Writing for MBW in July, Modern Sky founder LiHui Shen estimated there are around 365m people in China who “will happily buy into culture and entertainment – young people that have newly disposable income to spend on leisure. It may not be the entire 1.2bn population, but it’s still the equivalent of the entire USA buying into music. Imagine that.”

As for the live business, it is “flourishing,” said Shen, “with plenty of big festivals, venues and opportunities for touring. Modern Sky has seen success on that front as China’s largest promoter, presenting over 15 Strawberry Music Festivals every year in China – but many companies still aren’t equipped to make the most of the live world.”

He suggested the key to success in China is – just as TEG has done with YongLe – “working with partners who understand the territory and can make things happen”.


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