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Istanbul Jazz Festival appoints new director

Istanbul Jazz Festival has named Harun İzer as its new festival director.

İzer, who had served as assistant director since 2011, replaces Pelin Opcin, who moved to Serious, the producer of London Jazz Festival, in February.

İzer, who joined Istanbul Jazz Festival as an assistant in 2003, curates its European Jazz Club, Encounters with Masters, Tünel Feast and Night Out programmes. He also manages the festival’s newest project, Vitrin: Showcase for Contemporary Music in Turkey, which has taken place annually since 2017.

Additionally, İzer is on the nomination committee for the Paul Acket Award, presented by North Sea Jazz Festival, and the Aga Khan Music Awards, to be awarded by the Aga Khan Music Initiative as of 2019.

More than 50,000 people attended the latest Istanbul Jazz Festival, which hosted more than 450 artists, including Nick Cave and Robert Plant, across 27 venues over 22 days in June and July.


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Steve Ackles, Anna Plumley join Live Nation

Steve Ackles and Anna Plumley have joined Live Nation’s US touring team, as senior director of touring and senior director of marketing, respectively, from rival promoter AEG Presents.

In their new roles, Ackles (pictured) will help oversee national stadium and arena tours throughout North America and Plumley will market a range of artists, including tours with new Live Nation partner Frank Productions.

Both will be based in Los Angeles and will both report to Omar Al-Joulani and Ryan McElrath, senior vice-presidents of North American touring.

“With the expansion of our touring team, Live Nation is able to service an even wider breadth of artists and help them cultivate the best live experience for their fans,” says Bob Roux, president of US Concerts at Live Nation. “Steve and Anna have already hit the ground running and we’re thrilled to have them on our team.”


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Backstage with Holly Maniatty, the internet’s favourite interpreter

If you’ve ever stumbled on a viral video interpreter captivating a concert audience with a barrage of animated, quick-fire sign language, you’re likely already familiar with the work of Holly Maniatty.

Maniatty has been working as an American sign language (ASL) interpreter since 2000, and now specialises in signing for concerts and festivals, making shows by the likes of Jay-Z, Bruce Springsteen, Marilyn Manson, Kanye West, U2 and Eminem accessible to hearing-impaired concertgoers, and winning her a legion of fans – deaf and hearing alike – in the process.

Whether it’s ‘slaying it’ with Eminem, dancing with Waka Flocka Flame or bringing da ruckus with Wu-Tang Clan, Maniatty’s joyous, ebullient brand of signing has made her an internet star and one of the most in-demand ASL interpreters in the US.

The role of the interpreter, Maniatty (pictured) explains, goes far beyond memorising the words and translating them into ASL – her job, she tells IQ, is to “make every moment of the performance accessible. That means the music, the lyrics, the crowd, the emcee – everything.”

“For me that is a process that involves a lot of prep work,” she continues. “Depending on the artist, it can range anywhere from ten to 50 hours for a 45-minute performance. This includes research about the artist, the lyrical references, their influences, the musical story and authors. It’s a multi-layered process to give [fans] access to the musician.”

As the name suggests, ASL is a language in its own right, with its own grammar, syntax and structure unrelated to English. (ASL and British Sign Language, for example, are mutually unintelligible, despite both countries using English as a spoken language.) Accordingly, says Maniatty, concert interpreters focus on the meaning of the lyrics, “as interpreting is a meaning-for-meaning process.

“I hope this brings access to shows into the forefront of people’s minds”

“There are many equivalencies between ASL and English – but far more that are not equivalent. For example, there may be one phrase with five words in English that requires three signs, and conversely three English words may require ten signs to achieve an equivalency.”

In preparation for her interpretation of Eminem’s recent performance at Firefly Music Festival (which Mashable says “stole the show” during ‘Rap God’), Maniatty says she “worked on memorising both the musical story and the lyrics”. “One really great thing about Eminem is that his personal story, background and musical roots are really well known,” she explains, “as is his genius use of language to engage and entertain.

“These are huge challenges for an interpreter, but also an opportunity to use ASL at its fullest. ASL is a rich and complex language that has so many linguistic opportunities through the use of poetic and storytelling techniques, and this makes it a great marriage with music, and specifically hip hop.

“‘Rap God’ is very lyrically intense – the middle section where he raps very rapidly is also a challenge. I worked on that section of the song for a good five to eight hours, and then built the interpretation out from there.”

Maniatty says the demand for interpreters at concerts is still growing, driven by an increased awareness of their availability among deaf concertgoers. With the prevalence of social media, she explains, “people are more aware, instantaneously, of what is happening, or has happened, around the world. So as interpreters became more available for events and concerts, patrons became more aware and started requesting interpreters.”

“YouTube, and other user-sourced video sites,” she adds, “have made this a viral phenomenon – it is wonderful to get the word out and raise awareness.”

“ASL is a rich and complex language that has so many linguistic opportunities”

As the number of deaf people attending concerts increases, Maniatty says she hopes her online popularity, as well as that of other interpreters, will drive home the message that promoters must be serious about making their shows accessible.

“It comes back to what music and festivals and events are really all about: lots of different kinds of people connecting for the same performance or moment,” she explains. “I think that people see an interpreter and it kind of blows their mind that there are people that use ASL connecting to something that they love as well.

“Ultimately, I hope that it brings awareness to other patrons, producers and, especially, musicians that deaf people want access to their shows. Often patrons have to spend a lot of time emailing and calling and trying to get a hold of someone to request an interpreter. They then have to wait and see if the interpreter is qualified and certified and can do this kind of work well. Other patrons don’t have to do that – they just buy a ticket and show up. So, I hope that this brings access to shows into the forefront of people’s minds.”

“Beyond that, I hope that people take that image of an interpreter back to their everyday lives,” she adds. “Maybe they are a nurse, or a lawyer, or any other profession, and they come in contact with a deaf customer or patient and remember seeing an interpreter, and then provide access to the deaf person.

“Deaf people are still having to fight on a daily basis to get interpreters for doctor’s appointments, courts, et cetera. So hopefully this makes it a little easier, and makes equal access the norm.”


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Strong showing for ticketing and live in Vivendi’s H1

While most of the column inches dedicated to Vivendi’s H1 2018 results have centred on its plans to sell up to 50% of Universal Music Group “to one or more strategic partners” and not via an IPO, the French conglomerate’s latest financials also underline the strength of its many live businesses, with record festival crowds and a powerful ticketing unit incorporating the recently acquired Paylogic.

Vivendi Village – which includes Vivendi Ticketing (See Tickets UK and US, Digitick and Paylogic, acquired in April) live event producers Vivendi Talents&Live and Olympia Production, and several music venues and festivals – turned over €52 million in the first six months of 2018. While that’s a slight decline on the €56m seen in H1 2017, the 2018 figure includes the cost of the acquisitions of Paylogic and ad agency Havas.

Following the Paylogic deal, ticketing accounts for half of Vivendi Village’s revenues, giving Vivendi a “strong and complementary presence in three major markets: it is a leading player in the United Kingdom, it offers significant opportunities for synergies in Continental Europe and it is strongly growing as challenger in the United States”, according to the financial report.

Beyond ticketing, Vivendi’s festivals also saw success in the first half of the year. France’s Les Déferlantes, Brive Festival and Live au Campo – all managed by Vivendi Village – saw their attendance rates grow by 17%, 30% and 15%, respectively, and the company is plotting further expansion in the French festival market with the rumoured acquisition of Garorock and the launch of a new event in Limoges in 2019.

Total live revenues grew 36.7% year on year.

Outside of Europe and North America, meanwhile, a strong performance in Africa, and intentions to expand these operations, has also proved fruitful. An additional CanalOlympia venue was opened on 1 June 2018 in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso – Vivendi’s second in the city and the ninth in its growing west African live venue/cinema network.


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Hackney curfew: ‘marginalised communities will suffer most’

Campaigners protesting the controversial new Hackney curfew legislation have spoken about how the policy will potentially affect marginalised communities the most. Speaking at Friday’s protest (27 July), a number of protesters spoke to local media, saying LGBTQ, BME and women-friendly music venues are at the biggest risk of disappearance because of the new nightlife legislation.

Speaking to the Hackney Citizenprotest co-organiser Jo Alloway said: “Hackney is renowned for its diversity and its nightlife – it’s something people specifically come to Hackney for.

“Each venue is a hub of community, whether that’s LGBTQ nightlife, Caribbean nightlife – it’s a safe space where people can enjoy their own culture.”

As Johnny Dillon, another co-organiser of the protest, explains, the fear is that as ‘minority-friendly’ clubs and venues close, new ones won’t be able to open and replace them. Instead, corporate brands and chains will take their place, without thought for the cultural spaces being lost. Talking to NME, Dillon warned against places like Shoreditch turning into Leicester Square.

“We’re seeing pubs and clubs – for the LGBTQ community, and the BME community, and spaces for women – close all the time,” he says. “I think that is really being put at risk by the proposal that Hackney Council have just passed.”

“It’s the council and the licensing committee that have pushed this through.”

“Hackney is one of the few places where those still exist in number. If those spaces are to start to close, new ones aren’t going to open.”

After the news of the Hackney curfew broke, London’s Night Czar Amy Lamé came under fire for appearing not to fight against the plans. Many questioned what the role of Night Czar was for, if not to protest against potentially damaging legislation such as this.

In a statement released shortly after the initial backlash, before the protests took place, she explained her intention to get all parties involved around a table to talk out the problems with the new policies; she has demanded an urgent meeting with the mayor of Hackney, Philip Glanville. In the statement, she does not address how the policy may affect the lives of residents from minority backgrounds.

“I’m sure there is a positive way forward,” it reads. “My role is to help get everyone to sit around the table, talking together, to represent the needs of the night-time economy in those conversations, and ultimately to find a solution that works for everyone.

“I’ve used this convening power on a number of different issues…and it really can work.”

Whilst many protesters agree the Night Czar has dropped the ball somewhat in her response to the curfew legislation, Dillon maintains it isn’t solely her that should be held responsible for the decision.

“It’s the council and the licensing committee that have pushed this through.”


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EAY 2018: 10 tech tips for arena bosses

Arena concert productions have become increasingly spectacular in recent years, but that is not where the use of cutting-edge technology in arenas need end – an array of remarkable tech solutions has been created that can not only enhance the concertgoing experience for fans, but can drive revenue, increase security and minimise the environmental footprint for venue operators.

Here are ten of the best, as seen in the European Arena Yearbook 2018, the second edition of IQ’s comprehensive guide to Europe’s arenas business…

1. Mercedes-Benz Arena goes green
The 17,000-cap. Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin has taken a series of innovative measures to ensure that it is one of the most environmentally friendly venues in the world.

As part of AEG’s environmental sustainability programme, AEG 1Earth, the venue recently began purchasing renewable energy credits (RECs) to offset 100% of the carbon emissions associated with its purchases of electric power. The arena’s energy is sourced through hydroelectric plants in northern Europe and is certified with the RenewablePLUS label issued by the strict TÜV Rheinland certification programme.

A block-heating power plant installed on the roof of the arena generates energy from natural gas and captures waste heat for use in the arena, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Emissions caused by natural gas consumption are offset with ÖkoPLUS credits to support a hydroelectricity project in Malana, India.

Other measures include providing parking space for 400 cycles, biodegradable cups made from cornstarch and food sourced from local or regional producers.

The venue’s general manager, Michael Hapka, says that in partnership with energy supplier GASAG, the arena has found a way to be carbon neutral without increasing energy costs. “It was a very big step forward to 100% neutralise the carbon footprint of the arena, which we achieved in January. We don’t advertise it to the public but we have noticed that artists have taken a real interest in the environmental efficiency of the arena.”

“Artists have taken a real interest in the environmental efficiency of the arena”

2. Livestyled
Launched in 2014 by CEO Adam Goodyer, LiveStyled specialises in creating mobile apps and interactive technology designed to enhance the experience of concertgoers while boosting revenue for venue operators. “Our vision is to be the glue that binds the physical and digital concertgoing experience together,” says Goodyer.

Among the core digital functionality offered by LiveStyled, which can be embedded in a white-label app, a venue’s website or its Facebook pages, are access control and loyalty rewards, through to helping customers navigate their way around an arena. “It not only enables users to pre-order and quickly collect food and beverages – they can also easily digitally share tickets they have purchased with friends, which we are then able to pick up the data about their friendship group,” says Goodyer.

LiveStyled’s many clients include AEG, O2 and Live Nation, with the technology currently being used at 55 venues around the world, including London’s O2 Arena and SSE Arena Belfast. It also recently signed a three-year deal with AEG’s promotion division, AEG Presents, starting with All Points East and British Summer Time festivals.

Goodyer says the results speak for themselves: “It was used to run a promotion at the SSE Arena Belfast, where users were encouraged to spend more on food and beverages by being rewarded with a small digital wallet credit. That small incentive to encourage them to spend a little more resulted in a 16% increased in overall food and beverage expenditure in the arena.”

The LiveStyled boss says the next step for the technology is its integration into venue IPTV systems so that content can be personalised on every single screen around a building to reflect the known interests and tastes of the individuals gathered near each of them.

“Our vision is to be the glue that binds the physical and digital concertgoing experience together”

3. Hypervsn
Award-winning British company Kino-mo, which is backed by investors including Richard Branson and Mark Cuban, has launched an innovative advertising solution that generates 3D images that appear to float in mid-air.

The system’s 3D images can not only be used to promote upcoming shows, food and beverage product lines or to draw attention to a retail outlet, but can be used by artists during a show as on-stage visuals.

The Hypervsn product, which is able to produce 3D holographic advertising visuals of up to three metres high, is made up of multiple modular units that look like propellers, with each of the arms containing programmable LEDs. The unit’s processor sends signals to each of the LEDs and instructs them when to turn on and off. As the lights change, the whole device spins and the eye perceives the light emitted as a hologram, much like those featured in the film Blade Runner 2049.

Kino-mo can create custom 3D content for clients but also offers a content creation tool that enables them to transform their existing 2D assets into 3D visuals suitable for Hypervsn. Images or videos can be uploaded and displayed using a cloud-based management platform.

Designed for commercial use at sites such as entertainment venues and retail outlets, the system is simple to install and relocate, with accessories available that make it possible to mount devices to ceilings, walls and shelves.

Kino-mo caused a major stir in January when it launched Hypervsn at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and an equally warm reception when it was showcased at ILMC in London. Among the brands already using Hypervsn are Apple, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble and Pernod Ricard.

“Hypervsn has already proven itself to be a powerful technological solution to create immersive experiences, drive advocacy, and articulate the value of a brand,” says Kino-mo co-founder Kiryl Chykeyuk.


Continue reading this feature in the digital edition of EAY 2018, or subscribe to IQ here

52,000 people attend 25th Istanbul Jazz Festival

Celebrating their 25th year with 52,000 jazz fans, the events of 2016’s failed coup d’état are a distant memory for the Istanbul Jazz Festival. Two years ago, organisers were grateful for just avoiding cancellation amid the political unrest; in 2018, organisers are celebrating the festival’s most successful series in years.

Over the course of the 22-day festival, 450 artists performed in venues around the Turkish capital. Local artists and jazz heavyweights shared the 27 stages of the festival, organised by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV). Among the most high-profile of performers, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds played to a crowd of 9,000 fans, whilst Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters welcomed nearly 200 refugees to their performance, in connection with the UNCHR.

Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters welcomed nearly 200 refugees to their performance, in connection with the UNCHR.

Among the more traditional jazz offerings, this year also welcomed back networking and showcase event, Vitrin, for the second time. Turning a spotlight on musicians and artists from Turkey, the showcase offered a mix of jazz-crossover performances alongside indie, electronic and rock groups.

Since the events of 2016, jazz fans from across the world have rallied around the festival. In 2017, organisers were given a confidence boost as 25,000 people returned to the Istanbul concert series, just one year after the failed coup. At the time, festival director Pelin Opcin said: “The audience reaction was amazing. We were delighted – the eagerness and enthusiasm I saw among attendees this year is really promising.”

Opcin went on to say last year that she was confident future editions of the Istanbul Jazz Festival would see the event bounce back to its former glory, once again attracting the 40,000 to 45,000 festivalgoers that previous years had enjoyed. The scale and success of this year prove her thoughts were well-founded.


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EEMC enjoys second successful year

The Romanian city of Sibiu hosted more than 30 industry delegates from around the world for the second annual East European Music Conference (EEMC), 26–28 July, where artists expanding their careers outside of Romania’s borders featured heavily on the conference agenda.

Organised with the support of the Romanian Association of Concerts and Cultural Events Organisers (AROC) and sponsors Kaufland, and financed by Sibiu Municipality, the event provided a day-time programme for delegates attending ARTmania Festival, promoted by AROC chair Codruța Vulcu, who is also one of the leading exponents of the country’s new export office.

International producers, booking agents, promoters and showcase event organisers were among those who witnessed the first Romanian Music Export’s showcase, where five acts chosen by an international jury performed on the eve of the ARTmania festival.

The conference schedule included discussions involving the Take a Stand and Music Moves Europe campaigns; initiatives to improve event sustainability; how to make the most of showcase events; and how to set up an export office, while attendees were enthralled by keynote interviews with promoting legend Laszlo Hegedus and Exit Festival founder Ivan Milivojev.

“The business is becoming more professional and artists are being introduced to all sorts of new opportunities”

But with an emphasis on helping Romanian talent to establish meaningful careers, EEMC also featured networking and mentoring sessions for musicians and their representatives, while workshops on subjects covering the live, recording, publishing and branding side of an act’s activities were led by International Music Managers Forum policy advisor Jake Beaumont-Nesbitt, whose presentations captivated the many artists at the conference.

“The Romanian music industry is still in it’s infancy, but thanks to the many experts that have given up their time to come to EEMC over its first two years, I’m happy to say that the business is beginning to become more professional and artists are being introduced to all sorts of new opportunities to help them make a career from music,” says Vulcu.

“The launch of Romanian Music Export is another significant step toward developing our country’s vibrant cultural scene. More than 200 acts applied to take part in our first showcase event, highlighting the importance of creating such a support network for artists and those working in the local industry.”


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Sniffer dogs criticised as false positives revealed

The use of sniffer dogs at music festivals has come into question again in New South Wales, after data released by police revealed the huge extent of false positives made by the animals leading to strip and general searches.

Figures were made public after Green party politician David Shoebridge questioned the effectiveness of sniffer dog programs. In May this year, he was contacted by constituents who had been turned away from Midnight Mafia, a music festival in Sydney, after wrongly being singled out by dogs. Despite finding no drugs on the festivalgoers, they were barred from the event.

A similar policy was adopted for last month’s Above & Beyond, another Sydney-based festival. NSW police warned prospective festivalgoers that they would be turned away if a sniffer dog made any indication, regardless of if drugs were actually found or not.

The release of the new information has prompted outrage from politicians and media – outrage made even worse by the New South Wales Police Department’s (NSWPD) lack of information regarding the cost of sniffer dog programmes for the taxpayer.

“These aggressive searches are all about PR, about the police being seen to do something on the failing war on drugs.”

Mr Shoebridge called the failed searches an abuse of rights. “Any other government program that gets it wrong almost two-thirds of the time would be immediately halted,” he comments.

“These aggressive searches are all about PR, about the police being seen to do something on the failing war on drugs.”

According to the numbers for strip searches last year, sniffer dogs made 1,124 indications to NSW police. Of these, just 406 successfully identified a person carrying drugs – a 64% failure rate. General searches proved just as unsuccessful. 2017 saw 3,954 out of 10,224 general searches indicated by dogs turn up positive results – a 61% failure rate.

Numbers look no better for the start of 2018, either. The current failure rate for strip searches stands at 56% and at 63% for general searches in the first six months of the year.

Backed by Shoebridge and the Green party in NSW, the Sniff Off campaign group has opposed the police use of sniffer dogs since 2002. It labels the program as “excellent at violating civil liberties,” particularly those of “young people, Aboriginal communities and the poor.” Responding to the new figures on their Facebook page, the group called on Gladys Berejiklian, the current NSW premier and leader of the Liberal Party, to “get rid of the drug dog program for good.”


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Iceland Airwaves 2018 closes gender gap

With its 2018 edition, taking place from 7 to 10 November, Iceland Airwaves becomes the first major music festival with a line-up that’s more than 50% female, its head of operations, Will Larnach-Jones, has revealed.

Airwaves is a signatory to the Keychange initiative, which commits nearly 100 festivals and conferences globally to achieving gender-balanced line-ups by 2022. According to Larnach-Jones, the Reykjavik festival has beaten that target by four years, with its 2018 line-up featuring at least as many female as male performers.

“We still have another round of acts to announce, but we’ll be over 50%,” he tells the New York Times. “It was almost back to front: We looked at people we really liked, and then in meetings said, ‘Do we have enough?’

“Happily we always did. That shows you don’t have to try hard – there [are] so many inspiring women around.”

“You don’t have to try hard – there are so many inspiring women around”

Alexander Schulz of Reeperbahn Festival – also a supporter of Keychange – says “the reasons for excuses [for not having a balanced line-up] are getting shorter year by year”, although he cautions that the industry still has a way to go. “There is a great deal of [resistance to] booking as many female acts as male acts,” he tells the Times. “Even female bookers tell me that they are frightened of an economic failure for their festival if they would do so, because popular and well-selling acts out there in the market are mainly male.”

Iceland Airwaves 2018 performers announced so far include Blood Orange, Alma, Superorganism, Stereo Honey and Fever Ray, as well as popular local artists Sóley, Hildur and Young Karin. Airwaves was acquired earlier this year by Icelandic promoter Sena Live, which said it plans to take the festival back to its roots by showcasing emerging Icelandic talent, rather than focusing on booking big international names.


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