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Hefty fine for man who flew drone over Sheeran show

A man has been fined A$1,050 (US$805) for flying a drone over Ed Sheeran’s show in Brisbane on 21 March.

Sheeran’s record-breaking ÷ world tour touched down in Australia on 1 March, visiting Brisbane’s 52,500-capacity Suncorp Stadium on the 20th and 21st.

According to Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), which issued the fine for the “hazardous operation of a drone”, the unmanned aircraft was flown at night, in a populous area, within 30 metres of people and beyond line of sight – all prohibited under Australian drone safety regulations.

Queensland police identified the Brisbane-based man flying the drone and provided CASA with evidence of the flight, according to the aviation authority.

Will Robley of Quantum Aviation spoke at ILMC in March about the anti-drone technology used by the company to prevent use of the aircraft at events, against a background of drones now being used to carry weapons or even being used as weapons themselves. “Your event security should consider the threat from above,” he warned.


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Spanish secondary ticketers’ association calls for regulation

The National Ticketing Association, a newly established body representing the secondary ticketing sector in Spain, has said the resale of tickets is a “positive” thing for those who can no longer attend – but that it must be regulated to protect consumers.

The association, known in Spanish as the Asociación Nacional de Ticketing (Anatic), was set up in February by representatives of three Spanish secondary platforms: María Requena of Monoticket, Miguel Jiménez of Eventradas (Oferta y Gestión de Ocio) and Marcos Fernández of Event Factory. Similar to the UK’s Association of Secondary Ticket Agents (ASTA) and the US’s National Association of Ticket Brokers (NATB), Anatic seeks the professionalisation of the industry and to weed out fradulent resellers, who they blame for creating negative “public opinion” of the resale market.

According to Requena, the current lack of regulation in Spain has created an environment where ticket fraud is “difficult to identify” and where resold tickets often have no guarantee. She tells Europa Press that there are, however, companies (including, presumably, her own) that guarantee the legitimacy of the ticket.

“Future legislation” around ticket resale is an “opportunity” to create a level playing field for all ticket sellers

“Future legislation” around ticket resale, Requena suggests, is therefore an “opportunity” to create a level playing field for all ticket agents and ensure fair competition. “We want to ensure this important sector becomes part of the public consciousness and […] is able to demonstrate its worth.”

Spanish culture minister Íñigo Méndez de Vigo pledged in March 2017 to “regulate” the online ticket resale market, although he ruled out an outright ban, saying it would be like “putting doors on a field” (“ponerle puertas al campo”) – ie impossible.

A recent survey by Ticketea revealed nearly three quarters of resold tickets in Spain are touted for profit.


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Jason Nissen facing jail time after guilty plea

Jason Nissen, the New York-based former ticket reseller accused of operating a a multimillion-dollar ponzi scheme, has pledged to repay his victims after pleading guilty to wire fraud.

Nissen and eight of his companies are accused of funnelling more than US$120m through a fraudulent scheme in which investors were promised “impossibly high returns” on resold tickets for events including Broadway musical Hamilton, Adele’s Adele Live 2016/2017 world tour, the Super Bowl and several other sporting events.

In reality, alleged prosecuting lawyers Morrison Cohen, “the ‘returns’ on the ticket sales were illusory, financed by cash infusions from new investors who were told their money would be used to purchase tickets for resale”.

Last June, a New York court ordered the seizure of cash, property, shares and other assets from Nissen, who allegedly conned investors out of $32m to prop up what the prosecution described as a “basic yet audacious” ticket-selling scam. One of his companies, National Event Company (Neco), was later given the go-ahead to sell its remaining inventory of approximately 11,000 tickets, after successfully arguing the tickets would otherwise become worthless.

“I wish to apologise to those who trusted me with their investments and loans”

Nissen yesterday pleaded guilty to a single count of wire fraud – fraud committed using electronic communications – before district judge Paul Engelmayer in Manhattan, reports Bloomberg Markets.

Nissen told Engelmayer he borrowed money from investors to buy large quantities of tickets, often at high interest rates, but was forced to seek more funding due to poor sales and “other business problems”.

“I know that my conduct was wrong and I wish to apologise to those who trusted me with their investments and loans and for any harm I have caused,” he said, adding he would work to repay investors.

The maximum sentence for wire fraud, if convicted at trial, is 20 years in prison, although Nissen’s plea agreement reportedly calls for him to serve between five and just over ten years when he is sentenced on 21 August. He also faces a fine of as much as $250,000 – or twice the gain to him or the loss to others – and will be ordered to pay investors $65–72m in restitution.


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Landmark legal win for musician with acoustic shock

A classical musician who suffered permanent hearing damage as a result of being exposed to noise levels of more than 130bB has won a legal victory over the Royal Opera House (ROH), in a judgment that could have wide-ranging implications for the British music industry.

Chris Goldscheider, a ROH viola player, suffered ‘acoustic shock’ – a condition with symptoms including pain, tinnitus and nausea, caused by hearing an unexpected loud sound – during a rehearsal for a performance of Wagner’s The Valkyrie in September 2012. Goldscheider was seated in the opera house’s orchestra pit (pictured), where peak noise levels reached 130.8dB – louder than a modern jet engine – according to the High Court judgment.

Goldscheider’s claim centred on the orchestra’s alleged violation of the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005, which compel employers to reduce the risk to employees’ health by controlling the noise they are exposed to while at work.

Finding in Goldscheider’s favour, judge Nicole Davies said there is a “clear factual and causal link between identified breaches of the regulations and the high level of noise which ensued at the rehearsal. It commenced with an inadequate risk assessment, [and] continued with a failure to undertake any monitoring of noise levels in the cramped orchestra pit with a new orchestral configuration which had been chosen for artistic reasons.”

While the musician wore earplugs during “those parts of the rehearsal when he felt he needed them”, according to court documents, the noise from the brass section behind him was still “overwhelming”.

“Sound is not a byproduct of an industrial process but is an essential part of the product itself”

Goldscheider “now lives a relatively quiet life”, and “has learnt to avoid the noises which trigger the symptoms – for example, the vibrations from a large supermarket fridge or the noise in a restaurant”. His injuries, he says, have “decimated his professional life and made his partner’s professional life very difficult, as she is a member of the ROH orchestra”.

In a statement to the BBC, the ROH says it had received medical advice that long-term hearing damage could not be caused by an isolated incident of exposure to live music. “We have been at the forefront of industry wide attempts to protect musicians from the dangers of exposure to significant levels of performance sound, in collaboration with our staff, the Musicians’ Union, acoustic engineers and the Health and Safety Executive,” says a spokesperson.

“Although this judgment is restricted to our obligations as an employer under the Noise Regulations, it has potentially far-reaching implications for the Royal Opera House and the wider music industry.

“We do not believe that the Noise Regulations can be applied in an artistic institution in the same manner as in a factory – not least because in the case of the Royal Opera House, sound is not a byproduct of an industrial process but is an essential part of the product itself.”

“This has been a complex case and we will consider carefully whether to appeal the judgment,” the venue concludes.

Damages payable to Goldscheider will be assessed at a later date.


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After a decade, AIF goes it alone

The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) will break away from its parent company, the Association of Independent Music (AIM), to operate as a separate company as of April this year.

AIF was set up in 2008 as a division of AIM by Rob da Bank (Bestival), Ben Turner (Graphite Media) and former AIM chief exec Alison Wenham, and has since grown from 12 to 65 member festivals with a collective audience of over 600,000.

The newly independent association will be led by current general manager Paul Reed, who has been appointed chief executive.

He will be supported by AIF chair Jim Mawdsley, vice-chair Goc O’Callaghan (ArcTanGent) and a board of directors that includes execs from Broadwick Live, Kilimanjaro Live, Standon Calling, Liverpool Sound City, Bestival and more.

“It feels like AIF has grown up and is ready to leave home”

Reed is also joined by new recruit Phoebe Rodwell, who moves from the Music Managers Forum to become AIF’s membership and project coordinator, a newly created role that will focus on membership development.

The company will also move into new premises at the Handbag Factory in Vauxhall, London.

“Following ten successful years, it feels like AIF has grown up and is ready to leave home,” comments Reed. “I’d like to thank all at AIM for supporting and nurturing AIF, enabling us to grow from a handful of promoters around a table to an invaluable support network for our 65 members.

“I’m incredibly excited about the future. We’re working on a number of initiatives and campaigns for this year and, with a new team in place, we’re in a strong position to move on to the next phase of our development.”


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Festival trends for 2018

The festival experience is evolving, and 2018 looks set to be a time in which current trends gain significant traction. As the core demographic, millennials are the driving force behind the changing face of the modern festival.

The experience economy
As our recent research paper confirmed, millennials prioritise experiences over material goods. This will continue to have a significant and varied impact on the festival world this year. We’re already seeing innovation throughout the sector, for example, Camp Wildfire’s outdoor activities or mediaeval weapons training at Swordpunk. The desire to seek unique experiences is also inspiring the growth of experiential activation at festivals. At Festival №6, Old Mout (cider) solved two issues at once with a simple method: 1) Old Mout wanted to build awareness for the adventurous aspect of their brand, and 2) People don’t enjoy queuing at bars. The solution: They built an Old Mout slide that people could use to bypass the bar queue.

On a grander scale, interactive art installations are already common, and VR, AR and AI will eventually make such ideas bigger and more fantastical. As such, tech will become more common, and we’ll see more technology companies collaborate with both festival organisers and brands.

The desire to seek out new experiences also ties into the current wellness trend. In our recent research, we’ve seen that old-school festival hedonism is changing. Young people are drinking less, eating better and aspire to achieve physical and mental wellbeing. Many wellness pursuits are experiences in their own right. Wilderness Festival hosted hip-hop yoga, qoya dancing and ommersion, which mixes Mongolian overtone chanting with a gong bath and aromatherapy, and is an experience to remember.

We’ll see wellness continue to grow throughout 2018, following the success of events like Morning Gloryville and Soul Circus. Wellness is a natural fit for a festival’s communal vibe. As Morning Gloryville’s Samantha Moyo said in our documentary A New Dawn: Meet the Future of UK Nightlife, “We really looked at all aspects of clubbing and partying and we were just like, how can we make the journey different for people who come so the experience is much more healthy, grounded and transformative?”

“The tried-and-tested festival format of bands supplemented by little more than a comedy or film tent is on its way out”

The combination of the above factors means that music festivals are becoming much more diverse, colourful and experiential. The tried-and-tested festival format of bands supplemented by little more than a comedy or film tent is on its way out. Independent festivals, which have the freedom and courage to experiment and innovate, will continue to be the main drivers behind this change, before it eventually permeates the entire industry.

Inconspicuous technology
Looking at event technology, we predict that the truly impactful innovation will continue to seem quite unspectacular – at least compared to headline-grabbing tech such as VR, AR and on-stage holograms.

One example of how technology will subtly help improve festivals is the next generation of RFID technology. Its benefits include rapid event entry, shorter queues and faster, cashless transactions. RFID can create a wealth of data that can help event creators better understand and optimise their festivals, making it much easier to convince potential sponsors to come on board.

An ever-evolving range and depth of distribution and integration partnerships between ticketing companies and platforms for entertainment (eg Eventbrite’s integrations with Spotify, Facebook, Bandsintown or Ents24) will also make it easier for consumers to find and buy tickets. In an era in which sales via mass email newsletters are in decline, independent organisers can now sell directly to consumers via this distributed form of sales, bypassing existing monopolies on customer data, and building their own base of fans for future campaigns.

All in all, festivals will change for the better in 2018. We can expect more diverse experiences, and new-and-improved technology will benefit both the industry and consumers, but for the most part it will be a subtle evolution, rather than a dramatic sea change.

Millennials will be the ones that demand this change, as they strive for new experiences and wellness. Flexible, innovative and independent festivals are best placed to deliver on this. We can’t wait to see what the year ahead will bring.


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Kerslake report: SMG, Showsec praised for “above and beyond” Manchester response

Manchester Arena operator SMG Europe and security provider Showsec went “above and beyond their roles to provide humanitarian assistance” to victims of the terror attack of 22 May 2017, according to an independent inquiry into the response to the bombing, the findings of which were released today.

The Kerslake review – established by the mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, and chaired by former Civil Service head Bob Kerslake, Baron Kerslake – found significant failings on the part of the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS), whose firefighters, it says, did not arrive at the scene until two hours after the bombing.

The report also highlights communication issues between police and other agencies – a consequence of the former’s multiple “wide-ranging and testing” duties on the night – and the “complete failure” of an emergency telephony system provided by Vodafone, which caused “considerable distress on the night to families who were frantically seeking to find out more information about what had happened to their loved ones”.

Despite these failures, emergency services, arena bosses, staff, first-aiders and the wider local community were commended for their response to the attack by Salman Ramadan Abedi, a suicide bomber who detonated an improvised device outside the 21,000-cap. venue’s foyer after a show by Ariana Grande, killing 22.

Investment in emergency planning meant staff “were generally able to act with a high degree of confidence”, concluded the Kerslake-chaired panel, while “good judgement was exercised by was exercised key emergency personnel at critical points during the evening”.

“The stewards had formed a human wall to stop people going towards the smoke, which was extremely brave”

“Based on everything seen and heard, the panel believes that staff at the arena made a positive difference and that, without their contributions, the response would have been diminished,” concludes the report. “The panel recognises that SMG, Showsec and EMT-UK [first-aid] personnel went above and beyond their roles to provide humanitarian assistance, and that many of them attended to casualties in the foyer to the best of their abilities, putting aside concern for their own safety in order to try to save others.”

The report also includes several witness testimonies, many of whom praise Showsec’s stewards’ actions in the aftermath of the attack.

“When I was in the main arena, the stewards had formed a human wall to stop people going towards the smoke, which I believe was extremely brave,” said one, with another attendee adding that stewards “were fantastic and were trying to calm everyone down.”

“I felt the evacuation was done as calmly as possible considering,” said another.

Despite this, many of those who attended the show said they believed there was insufficient security at the arena, with bag searches particularly identified as being “inconsistent”. ““The security could have been better and there should have been more searches,” said one concertgoer.

However, Lord Kerslake’s panel countered criticisms of a perceived lack of security, pointing out that “the bomber had not attempted to gain entry to the actual venue, but had remained in the foyer, which was outside of the security zone”.

“There is a lot to be proud of in the response to the attack”

“The Manchester Arena attack was devastating for many thousands of people. We must think first and always of the families of those who have been bereaved, those injured and all those affected by this act of terror,” says Lord Kerslake, commenting on the publication of the report. “We have ensured that their views have been front and centre throughout this process.

“There is a lot to be proud of in the response to the attack, both for the city region of Greater Manchester and for the emergency services. The benefits of collaborative working and planning for emergencies were demonstrated to the full. And there were hundreds, if not thousands, of individual acts of bravery and selflessness.

“But it’s also vital to learn the lessons around things that did not go so well. It matters not just for the people of Greater Manchester and beyond who were caught up in the terrible events of that night, but also for places that might be caught up in such an attack in the future.

“I would like to thank all of those who contributed to this report. There was honesty, there was soul-searching, and there was a determination that their insight would benefit others in the future.”

Manchester Arena reopened on 11 September with the We Are Manchester benefit concert, headlined by Noel Gallagher.


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eOne moves into live entertainment with Round Room buy

Multinational entertainment company Entertainment One (eOne), whose portfolio includes TV, film production and distribution, artist management and recorded music/publishing divisions, has added live entertainment production to its product offering with the acquisition of New York-based Round Room Entertainment.

Round Room, which focuses on live entertainment for family content and special events, has worked on tours by the Rolling Stones, Barbra Streisand and Oprah Winfrey, as well as Broadway productions including Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark and Rock of Ages.

The acquisition follows the two companies’ successful collaboration on the PJ Masks Live tour, based on eOne’s animated children’s programme PJ Masks and produced by Round Room, which completed its initial run of US dates in late 2017, selling more than 150,000 tickets. The tour continues in 2018 with dates in Australia and the US.

The company will continue to be led by co-presidents Stephen Shaw and Jonathan Linden, who formerly worked under Michael Cohl at Concert Productions International, Live Nation and S2BN Entertainment. Both will report to Chris Taylor, eOne’s head of music.

“We look forward to working closely with Chris and his team to connect his extensive roster of artists with countless fans around the world”

“Across all areas of music, we work with so many spokes on the wheel, and live entertainment is such an important one,” says Taylor. Adding Round Room to our team, with Stephen and Jonathan at the helm, is going to provide the capacity to expand the reach of our brands, touch more fans on a global scale and further elevate our management roster.”

“We are very excited to join eOne and become a part of their global family while continuing to grow our core roster,” adds Shaw. “This is a very strategic move for both sides, and we look forward to working closely with Chris and his team to connect his extensive roster of artists with countless fans around the world.”

Entertainment One’s music roster, which comprises its record labels, a management operation and a distribution arm, includes CKY, BadBadNotGood, Death from Above 1979, the Game, Ghostface Killah, Snoop Dogg, Black Label Society, the Lumineers and Waka Flocka Flame. Across all divisions, the company turned over nearly US$1.1bn in 2017.


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Endeavor to acquire digital video co NeuLion in $250m deal

NeuLion, a New York-based video company specialising in broadcasts of live events, is to be acquired by agency giant Endeavor (formerly WME-IMG) in a US$250 million all-cash deal.

NeuLion provides streaming digital video content for companies including the NFL, NBA, Univision and Sky Sports.

The two companies worked together last August for the Conor McGregor–Floyd Mayweather fight, which was the second most-bought pay-per-view sports event in history. McGregor was at the time world lightweight champion of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), which WME-IMG bought for $4bn in July 2016.

“NeuLion provides an ideal combination of technology and client services”

On completion of the deal – which sees Endeavor acquire all shares of outstanding NeuLion common stock for $0.84 apiece – NeuLion will become a privately held Endeavor subsidiary.

“We’re excited by the value delivered to our stockholders through this transaction, and we’re looking forward to the dynamic opportunities that being part of the Endeavor family will provide for both our current and new clients,” says Roy Reichbach, president and CEO NeuLion.

Ari Emanuel, CEO of Endeavor, adds: “Through our content portfolio, client base and broader network of rightsholders, we’ve encountered many different platforms for distributing and monetising content. NeuLion provides an ideal combination of technology and client services, and we’re excited for the value this brings to our existing partners and the foundation it provides for our future digital growth.”


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UTA signs ‘godfather of grime’ Wiley

United Talent Agency (UTA) in London has signed British grime star Wiley for worldwide representation.

The platinum-selling British rapper, real name Richard Cowie Jnr MBE, will be represented by a team of global agents at UTA, who in addition to touring will “explore opportunities for him across a wide scope of services”, including digital, branding, endorsements and TV.

Agent Billy Wood, who joined UTA from WME last March, says: “We are thrilled to be working with such an iconic tastemaker in music. He has played an integral role in elevating grime globally and still remains close to his roots. We look forward to working with Wiley and his team worldwide.”

Wiley was formerly represented by Wood at WME.


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