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Venue to be sold on eBay

If you look hard enough you can find most things for sale on eBay, but this one’s a real novelty: Austin, Texas, venue The Parish is being sold off on the auction site.

The 435-capacity venue is in the heart of the city’s entertainment district, and will be listed from 1-10 December. But it’s not the building itself up for grabs, but the business, its current bookings, bar, sound equipment, 12-year lease and the chance to renew the alcohol licence.

Owner ATX Brands’ boss Doug Guller told Venues Today he’s putting the business on eBay because he wants to bypass the traditional music industry networks; and is hoping to bring in new blood to the self-proclaimed “live music capital of the world” (ahem).

“Hopefully it’ll be sold to someone in the industry that can take it to the next level.”

“I wanted to cast a wide net, and when things like properties come up for sale, the broker usually just sends the info out to their email list and that’s it,” he said. “Properties trade very well with brokers, but when it comes to selling an entire business, there’s not really a set formula or process for how to get it done.”

“Hopefully it’s someone in the industry that can afford a venue like The Parish and can take it to the next level.”

Bidding starts at $1, although Guller admits he’s set an undisclosed reserve price that must be reached for the deal to go through. He says he’s looking for someone

ATX Brands decided earlier this year to sell its live music venues to concentrate on growing his “breastaurant” brands Bikini’s and Happy Chicks. In July it sold outdoor music venue Scoot Inn to Austin-based promoter C3 Presents.

Although it’s rarely a stop for national tours, artists to have played small-scale appearances at The Parish include Slash, Perry Farrell, Leon Bridges and Pete Townsend.

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Rainbow club closes after drug deaths

Owners of Birmingham’s Rainbow Club complex say they will appeal after being stripped of their licence “to protect public safety”, following the recent drugs-related death of a 19-year-old.

Student Michael Trueman died after a Halloween event at the venue. He is believed to have taken MDMA. In 2015 Dylan Booth died after taking ecstasy at a New Year Eve event.

At a hearing of the city council’s licensing committee, West Midlands Police spokesperson Abdul Rohomon told the city council: “There are around 3,000 licensed premises in Birmingham and this is the only venue which has suffered drug-related deaths. The most stringent measures are in place, yet drugs are still being consumed inside the venue.”

There is a global society issue, this won’t be the last drug-related death on licensed premises

Revoking the licence, Cllr Alex Buchanan, chairman of the city’s licensing committee, said: “We have a duty to protect public safety. There has been two deaths in less than two years. The most stringent measures in the city have been introduced at the club but only last month there was another death through drugs. The committee has no option but to revoke Rainbow club’s license.”

In a statement issued after the shutdown was rubber-stamped, The Rainbow Venues said: “We firmly believe our team took great care, time and passion to create a safe environment for people to enjoy our events.

“We had very robust policies that West Midlands Police have accepted are more stringent than any other licensed premises in the country.

“As operators, we can’t be false. The decision is wrong.

“We can’t pretend we agree, we can’t promise that drugs will not enter licensed premises; people go to extreme lengths to get drugs into venues, if they succeed over the border, prisons and even parliament, then they will find a way into a club.

“They are breaking the law. Are we?

“There is a global society issue, this won’t be the last drug-related death on licensed premises. We can’t lie. We didn’t lie. This will happen again and again.”

Forthcoming shows at the Rainbow include Bicep and Applebum. There’s been no news on what will happen to these dates.


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Anti-tout giants to deliver ESNS keynotes

The debate over secondary ticketing will no doubt take centre stage at international conference and showcase festival Eurosonic Noorderslag in January, as two strong anti-tout promoters deliver separate keynote interviews.

British promoter Harvey Goldsmith and German promoter and agent Scumeck Sabottka are both fierce opponents of ticket touts and they’ll no doubt be forthright when discussing with Allan McGowan and Emma Banks respectively.

Among 150 other panels at the 17-20 January event in Groningen, Netherlands, is a debate on how boutique festivals continue to be competitive in an ever-lengthening festival season. Panellists include Christoph Storbeck from Italy’s Ypsigrock, Grimur Atlason from Iceland Airwaves, Jenny Wren from Ireland’s Body & Soul, and Stefan Reichmann from Germany’s Haldern Pop.

The Agents Panel will feature insight from X-Ray Touring’s Paul Bolton, CAA’s Summer Marshall, Sarah Sølvsteen from Sølvsteen Inc and Brian Ahern from WME.

Elsewhere there’ll be a keynote from Ticketmaster head of music David Marcus, a chance to meet key players in the Danish live music industry (Denmark is the focus country for 2018), a discussion on the difficulties of touring Asia, and the latest on health and safety from Chris Kemp and Henrik Nielsen.

The 2017 conference attracted 4,200 professional delegates, including representatives from over 400 international festivals.

The event’s showcase festivals Eurosonic and Noorderslag includes almost 400 artists from over 30 countries. Artists include Bad Sounds, Ellis May, Housewives, NIHILS, School of X and Tamino.

The EBBA Awards and European Festival Awards will open proceedings on 17 January.


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Concerts return to Kenwood House after five years

Outdoor concerts will return to London’s Kenwood House next summer, after an absence of five years.

English Heritage and promoter Giles Cooper Entertainment (GCE) say the Heritage Live Concert Series will take place across two weekends in June, with capacities of 10,000 each day. Acts announced so far are Kris Kristofferson on June 22 and Movie Themes by John Williams with The Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra the next day. Further artists will be announced in the coming weeks.

The venue in Hampstead hosted concerts almost continuously since 1951, but in 2014 previous promoter Rouge Events pulled out of a deal after suffering poor ticket sales the year before.

People have been asking us for ages when the concerts would return

Sam Cooper, English Heritage’s general manager at Kenwood, said: “We are thrilled to be bringing back the summer concerts to Kenwood. People have been asking us for ages when the concerts would return and while at this stage it’s for one year only, we’re hopeful that this will become an annual event.”

Promoter of the concerts GCE is also organising concerts at two other English Heritage properties: Wrest Park in Bedfordshire (cap. 10,000) and Audley End (10,000) in Essex.


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‘27% of young people want gig phone ban’

More than a quarter of gig-goers under 30 years old think mobile phones should be banned at concerts because filming and photography is distracting and takes away from the experience, according to a survey by ticketing company Skiddle.

The firm consulted 1,200 people aged 16-30 and found of the 27% of people who wanted the devices banned, 20% said it was because they block your view of the band. 37% said they were distracting and 34% said they take away from the experience.

Of the 74% who said mobile phones shouldn’t be banned, over half (52%) said they capture footage because they like to relive the experience once they have left the event. Nearly a quarter (24%) said they like to share the music experience on social media and 13% said if they have bought a ticket it is ‘”their right to use their phones as they wish”.

‘We found the results of this survey particularly interesting because of the age of respondents’

Commenting on the results, Skiddle director Ben Sebborn said: “The issue of banning mobile phones at gigs is one that has been hotly debated in recent months. We found the results of this survey particularly interesting because of the age of respondents. Typically banning filming and photography is an opinion most commonly associated with older generations – however this survey shows that many younger people agree that live music experiences are best enjoyed without handheld technology present.

“However, despite the issue been highlighted by artists, gig-goers and venues on an almost weekly basis, it does appear that an overwhelming majority (74%) think that filming and photography should be allowed at live music events, which shows any crackdown will result in a high proportion of unsatisfied music fans.

“Whatever your opinion, it’s clear that this is a contentious issue that isn’t going to go away and it will be interesting to watch the debate unfold as opinion becomes more and more divided.”


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Why gender diversity leads to better business

2017 looks like the year when the industry finally started walking the talk about amplifying women’s voices, both on and off stage.

In June, Spotify’s Daniel Ek and Max Martin launched the Equalizer Project, which focuses on increasing the number of female songwriters; in August, Melvin Benn’s Festival Republic announced ReBalance, a three-year project aimed at addressing the chronic gender imbalance in the music industry; and in October, PRS Foundation went live with Keychange, a European project that will empower 60 female artists and industry innovators. Meanwhile, many Scandinavian festivals are already committed to a 50:50 gender-balanced bill.

Anders Wahren, of Roskilde Festival in Denmark, said: “We try to inspire – through the very talented artists we have on our stages; through the work we do with organisations and underground promoters such as Freemuse, Girls are Awesome and Femtastic; and by having debates and talks with artists such as Madame Gandhi and Princess Nokia at this year’s festival. We can encourage our audience, upcoming artists and potential future artists, by supporting campaigns for more girls to pick up an instrument, and setting up summer camps for girls. There is a lot to be done that does not start with the big festival stages – but the beauty of it all is that when we, as a non-profit festival, fund causes like this, we actually also help develop the future headliners that we will be presenting in five to ten years.”

These initiatives are to be applauded, and are clear signs that the 21st-century music industry has finally realised that there are huge business advantages to be gained from promoting women on stage and behind the curtain. All the research reports that diverse teams of people are more creative, more dynamic, and more profitable to an organisation than homogenous teams, which in the music industry’s case – and in many others – means middle-aged, Western, white men. It makes good business sense to fully capitalise on the talents of the entire workforce. It makes good commercial sense to design festival bills that reflect the diversity of consumers and the multicultural society we live in.

Progress on gender equality and diversity is not an either/or – the work needs to progress in parallel. Both need targets and strategic plans if they are to change the mix of leadership teams. Both are at different levels. BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) staff struggle to reach middle management in numbers, and women hit the wall at middle management, so a talent pipeline needs to be built.

“The working culture was designed by men in the middle of the last century”

Here, unconscious bias recruitment and mentoring is key: if you can see it, you can believe it.

Digital technology has transformed our lives and yet its potential to transform our working lives, known as ‘smart working,’ is still to be realised in most music biz offices. The working culture was designed by men in the middle of the last century, and it’s based on command and control, presenteeism, an obsession with process, the jacket on the back of the chair, the need for the boss to look out at his team. Modern companies are task-and-output focused – employees are encouraged to work flexibly, and they are trusted and given responsibility: if you can’t trust your team, then why are they working for you? Smart working increases access to a much broader range of people, for whom working in an office five days a week is not practical or desirable. In 2014, government legislation was introduced giving every employee the right to flexible working – who knew?

Smart working is a proven game-changer for creating a diverse and more gender-equal workforce, and it allows a more balanced work/home life, which, thankfully, is a huge priority for Generation Y – the days of the macho, stay-in-the-office-all-hours type are thankfully dying out, as are the industry’s old guard.

The music industry is largely made up of small- to medium-sized companies that often have no HR function and certainly no company manuals, hence knowledge about employee rights, such as shared parental leave, can be sketchy. This is an area that should be addressed with the utmost urgency and requested by staff.

The future is looking bright, in the hands of a new generation of leaders who grew up with diversity, increasing gender equality and a life that has balance. Everyone has a part to play in bringing this change.


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4 live music biz predictions for 2018

2018 will see an increase in non-traditional gigs

Non-traditional gigs, such as pop-up spaces, restaurants and living rooms, will continue to grow throughout 2018. Airbnb even expressed interest in adding ‘Music Experiences’ to its services by bringing artists to rentals for informal gigs. According to a report by Eventbrite, in 2017, demand for nontraditional meeting and event facilities increased by 3.8%.

This rise in non-traditional gigs is also made evident through the success of Sofar Sounds, which has contributed to the increased demand for unique music experiences.


Festivals will continue to grow… which may not be a good thing

Today, festivals have grown so quickly that they’re no longer the grassroots experience they used to be for fans or artists. Festivals are now dominated by the same live music giants that control big venues, meaning that they have come to represent the overall consolidation and corporatisation that has occurred in live music.

A study by the economic research firm TXP Inc. showed that from 2010 to 2014, the tourist music sector in Austin, Texas increased its revenue by a $100 million, while the local music sector decreased in revenue by $33 million. The festival scene is growing rapidly, but this growth is happening at the expense of local music venues across the country.


New tech for independent artists is on its way

New technologies will play an increasingly important role in the antiquated gig-booking process, which will allow musicians to play more shows, grow their fanbases and manage their careers. The onset of new technologies will allow for the growth of DIY artists who are looking to book shows on their own terms, without the help of an agent or booking manager.

In recent decades, the music industry has seen incredible technological innovations, but the music-booking process has remained surprisingly behind. However, the marketplace model has the power to revamp the live music scene in the coming year.


More musicians will use data to identify their targets

Artists will become better at using data about their fanbases to find the right places to play and tour, as well as to help market their shows. This trend is further proven through Spotify’s recent release of an app that helps artists track real-time streaming data and audience demographics. Music fans today have access to a wider range of music than ever before, making it increasingly necessary for musicians to use data to their advantage and hone in on their target market.


David Baird is founder and CEO of Gigmor, a live music marketplace that connects artists and bands with bookers, promoters and venues.

Ontario drops proposed ticket transparency rules

The Canadian province of Ontario has abandoned plans for legislation that would have required ticket sellers to disclose how many tickets are available to the public for a given event seven days before they go on sale.

The measure was announced last month as part of a consumer protection bill that also provides for capping the price of resold tickets at 150% of face value; banning ticket bots and prohibiting the resale of bot-bought tickets; and requiring business selling or reselling tickets to disclose information including the capacity of the venue, the number of tickets on general on-sale and the original face-value ticket price.

While those measures remain largely uncontroversial, Ontario’s Liberal party government is to drop the transparency clause under pressure from artists and the industry, reveals the Globe and Mail, concluding that the rule “would be a disincentive for musicians, particularly small and medium acts, to tour the province”.

“Revealing ticket numbers could enable touts to better use bots to buy bulk tickets where they’re known to be scarce”

While some argue a lack of transparency around the amount of tickets actually on sale is a symptom of a “broken” ticket market – “The murky nature of how many tickets are ever available to the public makes the secondary resale market an easy scapegoat when fans fail to acquire tickets on regular sale,” argues TicketNews’s Sean Burns, “only to see immediate resale options at substantially higher prices on the secondary market” – promoters and primary ticketers largely disagree, with the abandonment of the transparency measure following a concerted effort by Ticketmaster Canada and promoters’ association Music Canada Live, reports the Globe and Mail.

According to the paper, Ticketmaster’s Canadian COO, Patti-Anne Tarlton, told Ontarian parliamentarians that revealing total ticket numbers “could enable [touts] to better use bots to buy bulk tickets where they’re known to be scarce”.

A different proposal, backed by opposition parties, would force primary sellers to make at least 75% of tickets available to the public – although leaving artists and promoters with just 25% of ticket inventory would make Ontario less appealing to companies based outside the province, so is similarly unlikely to make it into law.


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Nielsen’s Steve Hasker joins CAA as Global CEO

Steve Hasker, formerly COO of market research firm Nielsen, has been appointed CEO of Creative Artists Agency (CAA)’s restructured CAA Global division, joining the agency in January 2018.

CAA Global includes assets outside CAA’s core talent booking business, including CAA China, a joint venture with China’s CMC Capital Partners; Evolution Media, the agency’s US$500m merchant bank; venture-capital fund CAA Ventures; and Vancouver-based tech investment vehicle Creative Labs.

Prior to joining Nielsen in 2009, Hasker (pictured) was a partner at management consultancy McKinsey & Company, focusing on TV, data, film, sports and digital advertising. Commenting on his joining CAA, he says: “CAA is very well positioned to take advantage of massive technology disruption and changing consumer behaviour. I look forward to building upon CAA’s long history of industry leadership and relentless innovation to create successful new global businesses and opportunities for its clients and the company.”

“CAA is very well positioned to take advantage of massive technology disruption and changing consumer behaviour”

“CAA Global is an exciting step in the continued growth and diversification of CAA,” adds agency president Richard Lovett.  “Steve is a transformational and highly accomplished industry executive, and we are thrilled, after conducting an extensive search, to have found someone who also shares so profoundly our cultural priority of collaborative success.

“Under Steve’s leadership, we are confident that CAA Global will capitalise on the strength of CAA’s position at the nexus of talent, content, technology and brands across the global marketplace to accelerate growth and innovation for CAA and our clients.”

In other CAA news, Risa Gertner, the agency’s motion picture literary department co-head, and Sherrie Sage Schwartz, its chief HR office, have been appointed to the management committee, which oversees management of the company. The agency has also created a pair of operational groups, called finance and people & culture, respectively, to advise and propose initiatives to its management committee.


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Eventbrite partners with Twickets

Face-value resale is now available for Eventbrite-ticketed events in the UK, Australia and New Zealand as a result of a new partnership with Twickets.

The deal, announced this morning, will give promoters the option to opt into the Twickets service, giving customers the option to buy and sell spare tickets at face value by logging into their Eventbrite account on the Twickets platform.

It is the latest such partnership for UK-based Twickets, which is also active in Spain and the US, following deals with the Ticket Factory, Frontier Touring and DEAG’s

Eventbrite customer Rhythm and Vines, New Zealand’s longest-running music festival, will be one of the first to use the new Twickets integration for its 2017 edition on 29–31 December.

“Partnering with ethical peer-to-peer exchange platforms like Twickets enables our promoters to allow their fans to easily sell their unwanted tickets at a fair price”

Twickets founder Richard Davies, says: “It’s great to be partnering with Eventbrite, who share our commitment to providing fair ticket resale. We are happy to be bringing face-value resale to more events through this partnership, giving eventgoers the peace of mind that they are not only getting a fair deal, but also that they will be guaranteed entry to the event itself with an officially reissued ticket.

“We’re also very excited to be bringing Twickets to new audiences in New Zealand and look forward to our future in the country.”

“There are a number of technology solutions that we have already put in place to help our larger events prevent unauthorised resales of their tickets,” adds Joel Crouch, general manager for Eventbrite in the UK and Republic of Ireland. “At the same time, we want stay true to the fans, who often have perfectly valid reasons to sell their tickets. Partnering with ethical peer-to-peer exchange platforms like Twickets enables our promoters to allow their fans to easily sell their unwanted tickets at a fair price, and assures the buyers of those tickets that they have obtained official, authorised tickets that will get them in.”


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