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Dice hires 2017’s biggest gig-goer

UK ticketing/concert discovery app Dice has hired a music fan who attended a huge 122 shows in 12 months as its new fan support agent.

Dave Brooks – a 26-year-old from Enfield, not the executive editor of Amplify – previously worked as a freelance writer, before attracting the attention of Dice earlier this year with his dedicated gig-going. In his new role, Brooks “answers gig-related questions and ensures his fellow Dice fans are having the best possible experience”, according to the company.

Russ Tannen, Dice managing director, comments: “Dave is an absolute legend at Dice, and it’s great to bring in another member of the team so passionate about live music. It was the easiest decision of all time to ask him to work for us.”

“Dave is an absolute legend at Dice”

“I didn’t think I’d land a job with one of my favourite brands by attending so many shows,” adds Brooks (pictured). “It’s cool to be able to chat music with like-minded people, plus it’s a great bonus to be able to see so much live music and actually be encouraged to ramp up my gig-going.”

However, after “refreshing the data,” Tannen says Dice noticed one fan had been to even more gigs last year – 298 – “raising the question, ‘Who will be Dice’s top gig-goer in 2018?’”

Dice recently abandoned its famous no-booking fee business model after admitting it lost money on every show and was struggling to secure ticket allocations for larger events.


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Aventus appoints CMO ahead of imminent launch

London-based blockchain ticketing platform Aventus Systems has hired Andrew Ford as chief marketing officer.

Ford – a tech industry veteran who has held senior roles at Norton/Symantec, Dell, BT, HP and data analytics firm Pitney Bowes – will work alongside Aventus co-founders Annika Monari and Alan Vey, CTO Andy Grant and their team to prepare for the upcoming launch of the the Aventus Protocol, an open-source blockchain on the Ethereum network its creators hope will revolutionise the industry by facilitating the “secure and transparent creation, promotion and sale of tickets that is not controlled by any one entity”.

Ford (pictured) will focus on developing marketing strategy to sell the benefits of blockchain technology to the ticketing industry.

“Hiring a world-class leader in technology marketing like Andrew represents a milestone for our initiative,” says Monari. “Andrew is the perfect person to lead the effort of shaping and bringing our brand and blockchain protocol to market.”

Speaking to IQ recently about the global slump in cryptocurrency/token prices, Monari said she was unconcerned about the fall in the value of the company’s AVT token, which will be used to power the Aventus Protocol. “Some people are focused on getting best price possible for their market caps,” she explained. “But we’re focusing on building our product, and the market will ultimately reflect that.”

“We are excited to facilitate the bridge between the industry and the power of the blockchain”

“I chose to join Aventus because their vision, leadership and technology are some of the strongest I have seen in my career,” says Ford, commenting on his appointment. “We are at the forefront of creating new technology for the ticketing industry that will solve many of the issues that have been impacting the existing companies in the space.

“We are creating real value with new blockchain technology and tools, and that is exciting to a part of.”

In September 2017, Aventus successfully crowdfunded 60,000 ether tokens, valued at more than £40m today, shortly after appointing Professor Michael Waterson and promoter Bernie Dillon to its advisory board.

The company says it plans release the initial iteration of its protocol and tools in the coming months.

“Since the Aventus token sale, we have been expanding our team and developing our protocol,” adds Aventus’s other co-founder, Alan Vey. “We are now nearing the completion of our first version and are excited to bring it to the market and facilitate the bridge between the industry and the power of the blockchain.”


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Another year of record growth for Live Nation

As predicted by CEO Michael Rapino in November, Live Nation Entertainment has posted a seventh consecutive year of record-breaking growth, turning over nearly an extra US$2bn – a remarkable 24% increase in revenue – in 2017.

Speaking to investors yesterday, Rapino (pictured) said he sees “strong growth for years” in the global concert market, of which Live Nation is by far the biggest player, “as fans globally drive demand, artists are touring more, and sponsorship and ticketing benefit from the concerts flywheel”.

That value of that flywheel grew even more, with LN’s concerts division worth $7.9bn (up 26%) in 2017, while concert attendance – from a reported 30,000 shows in 40 countries – grew 21% to 86 million. “Given our plans to further monetise our fan relationships, I expect this will translate into a continued strong growth in concerts AOI [adjusted operating income] in 2018,” said Rapino.

Across the company as a whole – including sponsorship and ticketing (Ticketmaster) – revenue was up 24%, AOI up 15% and free cash flow up 21%, with all delivering their strongest-ever AOI results.

Losses did, however, widen in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2017, as a result of the company’s $110m legal settlement with Songkick.

Among Ticketmaster’s greatest successes in 2017, continued Rapino, was the introduction of the Verified Fan initiative, which aims to verify the ticket-buyer is a genuine “fan” by asking them to register for a presale in advance, then emailing codes to buyers it predicts will use the ticket rather than resell it.

“In 2018, I expect us to further consolidate our global concerts position”

“Through the year, we worked with over 80 artists on Verified Fan, selling three million tickets and saving fans over $100 million relative to what they would have spent on the secondary market to buy these tickets,” he said. “As we look to 2018, it will continue to be a top priority to evolve Verified Fan, while also building out a full suite of services that continue to give artists greater control of how their tickets are priced and distributed.”

However, “at the same time,” Rapino continued, “we’ve also continued to improve our marketplace, already by far the largest ticketing marketplace in the world. We remain focused on building the inventory available to fans, adding new clients and expanding our secondary listings.”

Looking ahead to 2018, Rapino expects Live Nation “to further consolidate our global concerts position while enhancing our on-site hospitality business and capturing additional pricing opportunities.

“We believe that our sponsorship business will continue driving double-digit growth as more brands look for that direct connection with music fans. And a more effective Ticketmaster marketplace, along with further alignment with artists, should continue to build on Ticketmaster’s success.”

“The combination of macro trends and our demonstrated ability to execute provide great confidence in our ability to grow the business for many years to come,” he concluded.


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Grímur Atlason departs as Iceland Airwaves sold

Icelandic promoter Sena Live says it plans to take Iceland Airwaves back to its roots by showcasing emerging Icelandic talent, rather than booking big international names, following its recent purchase of the festival.

Speaking to Morgunblaðið, Sena Live CEO Ísleifur Þórhaldsson says it wants to “go back to basics. We don’t think Airwaves should be chasing the big acts, but should be a festival for up-and-coming and indie bands.”

The company announced last week it had bought Iceland Airwaves along with the Airwaves brand, which previously belonged to the festival’s main sponsor, Icelandair. According to the paper, Airwaves lost almost half a million euros in 2016, owing to declining ticket sales and rising costs. “We definitely have to make cuts here and there, but we’re still not talking about people feeling like the festival is downsizing,” says Ísleifur. “It’s not about booking as many [bands] as possible, but booking well.”

Mumford & Sons, Fleet Foxes, Michael Kiwanuka, Billy Bragg and Benjamin Clementine were among the high-profile international acts who played Airwaves 2017.

“We will not be the people who destroy Airwaves”

Sena Live’s acquisition of Airwaves coincides with the departure of long-serving festival director Grímur Atlason, who says that after eight years, “it’s time to move on”, adding: “It’s been a privilege and pleasure working for this great festival with all my marvellous co-workers over the years.”

Ísleifur says the festival’s renewed focus on showcasing Icelandic talent to foreign bookers has the full support of its sponsors. “We take these obligations seriously,” he explains. While bigger bands will still be booked, “they will always have to fit into the basic ideology of the festival,” he says.

“Airwaves is a deep-rooted cultural institution which we know and feel immediately that everyone cares about,” Ísleifur concludes. “We will not be the people who destroy Airwaves.”

Sena Live is one of Iceland’s biggest promoters, recently bringing artists such as Justin Timberlake, Justin Bieber, Iron & Wine and Tiësto to the Nordic island, which has a population of around 350,000.


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Rob Hallett’s Robomagic joins Live Nation

Rob Hallett – the veteran promoter and live music exec who, as president of international touring at AEG Live, oversaw global tours for the likes of Leonard Cohen, Justin Bieber and Jennifer Lopez and the launch of British Summer Time Hyde Park – has joined Live Nation, IQ can reveal.

Robomagic, the live entertainment venture Hallett founded following his exit from AEG in April 2014, is now officially “a Live Nation company”, and the two companies are jointly promoting several upcoming shows, including UK dates by HER, Why Don’t We, Lemz and Jammer of Boy Better Know. Past Robomagic/Live Nation productions include Tower of Song: A Memorial Tribute to Leonard Cohen in Montreal last November and Boy Better Know’s O2 Arena takeover in August.

Hallett established AEG Live in the UK in February 2005, and was instrumental in growing the profile of the company (now AEG Presents) internationally. Highlights of his AEG tenure include Prince’s landmark 21-night residency at the O2 in London in 2007; three Bon Jovi stadium treks; Cohen’s successful 2008–10 comeback tour; and the debut of BST in 2013 with two huge shows by the Rolling Stones.

Robomagic is now officially “a Live Nation company”, and the two companies are jointly promoting several upcoming shows

Prior to joining AEG, he was a director of Mean Fiddler Music Group (later MAMA & Company, now owned by Live Nation), after a decade as an agent and promoter at Barrie Marshall’s Marshall Arts.

Hallett established Robomagic – which comprises Robomagic Live, a boutique touring division, and Robomagic 360, which describes itself as encompassing “touring, recording, publishing and artist/brand management” – in January 2015. The company’s artist roster includes TLC, Sleaford Mods, Goldie and Boy Better Know, as well as Duran Duran, who Hallett represented as agent in the ’80s.

Other new Live Nation partnerships in 2018 include the acquisitions of US promoter Frank Productions and the remaining ticketing assets of Songkick.

Both companies were unavailable for comment.


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Rize announced for Hylands Park…but no event in Staffs

SJM Concerts today announced dates and the first acts for Rize Festival, the event replacing V Festival at Hylands Park in Chelmsford.

Taking place on Friday 17 and Saturday 18 August 2018, rather than V’s traditional Saturday and Sunday, the festival will be headlined by Liam Gallagher and Stereophonics. Other performers include James Bay, Manic Street Preachers, Bastille, Maximo Park, Rag’n’Bone Man, Rita Ora, Circa Waves and Craig David’s TS5, with bookers focusing on an “exciting mix of the very best music from classic indie, pop, urban, dance and new upcoming talent across four stages”.

Richard Branson’s Virgin Group announced in October it was pulling its sponsorship of V, ending a 22-year commercial relationship and bringing to a close the festival in its former guise. While the Chelmsford leg now has a replacement in the form of Rize, no event has been announced for Weston Park in Staffordshire, which formerly hosted a sister festival on the same weekend.

A representative for Rize Festival confirms to IQ that Roseclaim – the company behind V Festival, whose directors include Live Nation’s Paul Latham, Metropolis’s Bob Angus, SJM Concerts’ Simon Moran and MCD Productions’ Denis Desmond – will “not be promoting a new event at Weston Park in 2018”.

“We are very excited about working with Roseclaim on a future project here on the estate in 2019”

Colin Sweeney, CEO of the Weston Park Foundation, which manages the park, says: “We have been enormously proud to have been home to the former V Festival over the last 19 years. The significant contribution that hosting the event has made to the charitable objectives of the Weston Park Foundation and the wider regional economy cannot be underestimated.”

Sweeney adds, however, there will likely be another Live Nation/Metropolis/SJM/MCD festival in the park next year, saying: “We are very excited about working with Roseclaim on a future project here on the estate in 2019.”

Liam Gallagher’s upcoming headline show in Finsbury Park, promoted by Live Nation’s Festival Republic, is billed as being presented by “Rize”, indicating the promoter has plans for the brand outside the annual festival.

A full line-up is below:

Rize Festival 2018


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Rainbow becomes Digbeth Arena under new operator MJR

The Rainbow Arena in Digbeth, Birmingham – a 12,000sqft outdoor venue formerly part of the Rainbow Venues – has been taken over by MJR Group, which is to rebrand the site Digbeth Arena.

The Rainbow Venues lost its licence last November following the drug-related death of a 19-year-old student. MJR – a fast-growing promoter/venue operator which recently welcomed several new recruits from CAA, DHP Family and VMS Live – has announced a series of shows for the rechristened venue, which originally opened in 2012 on the site of a former scaffold yard and has since hosted several major inner-city festivals, including Annie Mac Presents (2013), Made Festival (2014–2017) and Chapter Festival (2014–2017).

Under the Skyline Series banner, upcoming Digbeth Arena shows include James Arthur on 25 August; Texas and Imelda May on 1 September; The The on 7 September; and Garbage on 8 September, with more announcements expected soon.

Benjamin Newby of the MJR Group says: “We are honoured and humbled to become part of the innovative and artistic hub that is Digbeth, Birmingham. We have already started developing great relationships with the business and creative community and look forward to what the future will bring. We recognise the dedicated and inspirational work Rainbow Venues have put into their venues and Digbeth as a whole.

“We are honoured and humbled to become part of the innovative and artistic hub that is Digbeth”

“We will work hard to continue their passion while adding our own vision and operational standards to the arena.

“As a resident of Birmingham, I personally could not be happier or excited that MJR are involved in this project that joins our group of venues across the country, and become part of this exuberant city.”

The Rainbow Events – which as the Rainbow Venues formerly managed the site – meanwhile, is moving away from venue operation and towards concert promotion. “Our business will return full circle to the position from where we originally started,” comments Rainbow Venues founder Lee McDonald. “Working with emerging and established artists, bands and labels to produce extraordinary and memorable experiences for music fans and clubbers across the country under The Rainbow Events.

“We have a strong relationship with The MJR Group and could not be happier that they are the company taking the arena forward into the future.”


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Expedia launches concert ticket sales platform, one of the world’s most popular travel booking sites, has moved into concert ticketing through a partnership with resale site TicketNetwork.

Expedia, which already offers airline tickets, hotel reservations, car hire, tours and tickets to attractions such as museums and galleries, has launched Event Tickets, which adds secondary-market tickets to more than 95,000 concerts, sports matches and other live events to its offering for US customers.

“We know travellers are looking for unique and authentic experiences while in-destination,” says Jen O’Twomney, vice-president of Expedia’s Local Expert division.

“Adding event tickets to our product offering makes all the sense in the world”

“They want to catch a baseball game at a stadium they’ve never been to, or see a show that isn’t playing in their hometown. There’s also a growing trend to build entire trips around events, to attend a music festival, follow a specific artist on tour or root for your team at an away game.

“Adding event tickets to our product offering makes all the sense in the world and gives us another way to help travellers get the most out of their vacation.”

Expedia’s ticketing debut follows the launch of primary platform Ryanair Tickets by the eponymous Irish low-cost airline last November.

Photo: © Travelarz / Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0 PL)


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Saudi Arabia ‘to host 5,000 live events’ in 2018

Saudi Arabia will play host to more than 5,000 live events this year, including “live music performances, theatre shows, musicals, circus performances, community festivals and much more”, according to its General Authority for Entertainment (GEA), as the reclusive kingdom continues to focus on growing its live entertainment sector.

GEA says Saudi Arabia is ready to become a “global entertainment hub”, with a 2018 events calendar set to feature performances from “some of the world’s most celebrated artists”.

Under the banner Vision 2030, the Sunni theocracy is seeking to reduce its dependence on oil by developing its service sector, including a domestic entertainment market. GEA, created by royal decree in May 2016, is spearheading the entertainment drive, and has so far been responsible for bringing shows including Cirque du Soleil and the Lion King musical to the kingdom, as well as the first Saudi Comic Con.

The authority organised 52 events in 2016, which grew to more than 2,200, attended by 8.2m people, in 2017.

“A world-class entertainment industry will put Saudi Arabia on the global tourism and entertainment map”

In March 2017, Saudi capital Riyadh hosted its first concert since 1988 – music is generally considered sinful (haram) by Saudi religious authorities – marking the start of a “major social shift in the conservative kingdom”, according to The New Arab.

In September, meanwhile, the Saudi government announced a US$2.7bn fund aimed at assisting event promoters with growing the local entertainment industry.

“GEA is proud to be one of the drivers of transformation in the kingdom,” says GEA chairman Ahmed Al Khatib (pictured), “through its clear purpose to build a world-class entertainment industry that will put the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on the global tourism and entertainment map.”

However, just one music event has been announced for 2018 so far – Egyptian singer Tamer Hosny in Jeddah on 30 March – indicating the kingdom is still some way off catching up to other regional live music hubs such as Israel, the UAE and Qatar.


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45 conferences, showcases commit to gender equality

Forty-five new music industry conferences and showcase festivals have signed up to PRS Foundation’s Keychange initiative, pledging to achieve or maintain a 50/50 gender balance across their events by 2022.

Politicians, artists and the wider music industry will gather at the Canadian High Commission in London this evening to mark the milestone, which sees events including the Netherlands’ Eurosonic Noorderslag, Spain’s Granada Experience, France’s Midem, Canada’s Canadian Music Week and BreakOut West, Norway’s Borealis and the UK’s Wide Days, Roundhouse Rising and Focus Wales joining founding festival partners Reeperbahn Festival (Germany), BIME (Spain), Iceland Airwaves, Way Out West (Sweden), Musikcentrum Sweden, Tallinn Music Week (Estonia), MUTEK (Canada) and the Great Escape (UK) as Keychange supporters.

Keychange is backed by the EU’s Creative Europe programme, and will later this year presents its manifesto at an event at the European parliament in Brussels.

Other participating festivals include Liverpool Sound City (UK), Waves Vienna (Austria), Westway Lab (Portugal), Hard Working Class Heroes (Rep. of Ireland), A2IM Indie Week (US) and Pop-Kultur (Germany).

“I hope that this will be the start of a more balanced industry which will result in benefits for everyone”

“We support diverse talent across every programme we run at PRS Foundation,” says the charitable organisation’s CEO, Vanessa Reed. “Forty per cent of our grantees in 2017 were from a BAME [black, Asian and minority-ethnic] background and 53% featured female artists. Our focus on gender equality in 2018 aligns with the centenary for some women being given the vote in the UK. A hundred years on, the push for gender parity across society continues, and with increased public awareness of inequalities across the creative industries we have an opportunity to respond and commit to tangible change in music.

“The Keychange network of female artists and industry professionals and the festival partners’ idea of establishing a collective pledge will significantly accelerate change. I hope that this will be the start of a more balanced industry which will result in benefits for everyone.”

Reeperbahn’s Alex Schulz adds: “Reeperbahn Festival is proud to be a founding Keychange partner because we recognise the barriers that women are facing in the music industry and we know that our festival stages aren’t as balanced as we would like them to be. Keychange is promoting a shift that will ultimately be good for our festivals and good for the industry as a whole. I hope that many more festivals will have joined with us by the end of this year, making this a global movement.”


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