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Behind the scenes at All Points East

Jim King, AEG Presents' EVP of live music, explains the original thinking behind the creation and launch of the company’s highly successful new London festival

27 Jul 2018

Jim King, AEG Presents

This year, AEG Presents launched a new festival, All Points East in Victoria Park. Victoria Park is a fantastic green space in the heart of a vibrant area of London, one of the most important live music cities in the world. It will be the home of All Points East for the next four years.

We were focused on creating a series of shows that widened our relationships with the artist community and music fans. We wanted to achieve this by delivering an event that complemented what we already did in London but would carry its own personality and identity.

Staging a brand-new event in a crowded market is always as much about thinking differently and creatively as it is about utilising past experience. We waited patiently for the chance to present our ideas to Tower Hamlets local authority and when the new contract opportunity arose we knew we needed to move quickly and deliver a vision that resonated with them. If we were successful, we were also acutely aware of other stakeholders we needed to connect with to ensure the event was a success on all levels, not just musically.

The often-used ‘we’re only here for two weeks’ argument never seemed the strongest way to win the hearts and minds of people who rely on parks for their family enjoyment and well-being. Being a good partner is an important part of AEG’s DNA, and being a good partner in the community even more so. We are able to do this by having the right people with the right outlook. We don’t look to compete on volume. We just want to do what we do as well as we possibly can. That allows our team to spend a little longer to make something a little better.

The real challenge for me is whether we, the industry, are giving fans what they want

The fact that Victoria Park has such a unique cultural history meant we were able to strengthen our All Points Equal event. This celebrated 100 years since some women were given the right to vote and 90 years of equal voting rights for women and men, with a rich vein of inspirational educational and historical content that kicked off the midweek programme of free-to-access activities.

Music, of course, matters the most. There is a lot of talk about the industry lacking headliners but I’ve never totally bought into that argument, which I see as a fairly limited assessment of the live music landscape. The real challenge for me is whether we, the industry, are giving fans what they want. Are we creating platforms where they return home inspired to come back for another live music experience as quickly as they are able to? That’s essentially the challenge we want our team to meet at All Points East.

All Points East was, and is, about artists who never dial it in. It was booked driven by our own musical passion, and we wanted musicians who wear their own passion on their sleeves, and always deliver. So 40,000 people came to see Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds give one of the most memorable headline performances that I have ever seen. Raw, heartfelt, sometimes brutal, and searingly honest.

While All Points East is travelling a different road to British Summer Time Hyde Park and requires elements of different thinking, there is an overriding philosophy that unites them. Both events stand for a delivery of quality. We want artists to walk out the production exit feeling they had a great time and that they were treated respectfully. Equally, we want the fans to walk out the public exit and say they had a great time and were treated respectfully.

I like to not overcomplicate things…

 


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