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E3S 2018: Collaboration key to securing the industry’s future

The Manchester Arena bombing of 22 May 2017 was a “game-changer” from a counter-terrorism perspective, laying bare the importance of a strong private security presence to combat the growing threat to ‘soft’ targets such as concerts, said Metropolitan police commander Lucy D’Orsi, opening the second edition of the Event Safety & Security Summit (E3S) on 30 October.

The Met’s deputy assistant commissioner in specialist operations gave a 15-minute welcome address in which she said the Manchester attack – along with the vehicle ramming attacks in Westminster and on London Bridge in March and June 2017, respectively – proved that “anything is potentially a target; anything is possible”.

D’Orsi’s address kicked off a packed day of panels, presentations and workshops for the sophomore E3S, which boasted more than double the content of last year’s debut event. More than 300 professionals from 20 markets attended the day.

Other highlights included a speech by Lord Kerslake, author of the eponymous inquiry into the Manchester Arena attack, who presented the key findings and recommendations of his report; panel sessions on ‘Protecting the Future of Live Events’, which examined what initiatives are helping develop an international safety culture, and ‘Learning Transferrable Lessons’, which considered operations from the World Cup to state visits by US presidents to learn lessons from each scenario; and a host of talks and workshops covering security training, emergency messaging, behavioural detection, lockdown procedures and more.

Lord Kerslake described the Manchester Arena bombing – the deadliest terrorist attack in the UK since the 7/7 bombings of 2005 – as a “brutal, real-world test” of the venue’s security procedures.

The Manchester Arena bombing was a “brutal, real-world test” of the venue’s security procedures

He identified four key lessons event organisers and venues should learn from the tragedy: That his review, commissioned by mayor of Manchester Andy Burnham, was “the right thing to do, and should become standard practice in future”; that “importance of partnerships” between stakeholders, as well as thorough emergency planning, “cannot be overstated”; that a “genuinely multi-agency approach” is needed in case of emergency (“even in strong partnerships, the tendency of agencies under pressure to default to a single-agency way of working is extremely strong,” he explained); and that however good those plans are, “the reality will be different. There is no substitution for good situational awareness and discretion.”

As terrible as the attack was, Lord Kerslake concluded, had it taken place ten minutes later – when more young fans were exiting the arena – the outcome would have even worse. “We cannot afford to be complacent,” he said.

A key theme of the E3S 2018 was the importance of openness among stakeholders and the ability – and will – to share crucial information.

The O2 head of operations Danielle Kennedy-Clark said the live events industry needs to get better at sharing data with each other. “As a venue,” she commented, “we have a very close relationship with local authorities and other stakeholders […] but I do still feel a lot of the time security is seen as a big secret. We’re getting better but there’s still a long way to come.”

Tony Duncan, who works as tour security director for artists including U2, Madonna, Rihanna and Sir Paul McCartney, said the events security landscape is currently “fractured at best”, tending to “react to big events”. The industry could, he suggested, benefit from “formalis[ing] procedures across the board”.

“A lot of the time security is seen as a big secret”

One popular presentation at E3S was a preview of the new Green Guide, given by Ken Scott of the Sports Grounds Safety Authority. Scott also spoke about how his organisation, formerly the Football Licensing Authority, was formed after the Hillsborough disaster to “sit over the top of all those competing commercial entities [football clubs] and take the best bits of each, which you [the entertainment industry] don’t have”. “Maybe you need something similar,” he said.

The SEC’s Jeanette Roberts, a former inspector for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), suggested there could be an HSE-style government agency to set security standards industry wide. With HSE, she explained, “what they did was reach out to the industry for their knowledge – it was a brave step for the agency to go and say, ‘We need your help’.”

From a police perspective, D’Orsi concluded by saying it’s a long-term police goal to share as much information on threats as possible with venues and private security companies. Addressing delegates, she said: “Many of you represent iconic locations and events which are often broadcast live – and if you look at the propaganda put out by ISIL [Islamic State], Al-Qaeda and other groups, you are attractive targets.

“There will be less policing at live events in future – but the ambition to share as much as we can with you is very strong, and I’m confident we will achieve that.”

 


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Corida acquires 50% of Pitchfork Paris promoter Super!

Corida Group, one of the largest independent live music companies in France, has acquired half of Super!, the promoter behind the Pitchfork Paris, Cabourg Mon Amour and Biarritz en Été festivals.

The deal – signed on the eve of Pitchfork Paris (1–3 November) – sees Super! join other semi-independent promoters the Talent Boutique and Pi-Pôle, along with Corida itself, under the Corida Group umbrella. The set-up, says the company, offers “a distinct and innovative alternative to multinational promoters”, such as Live Nation France and the recently launched AEG Presents France, “in Europe.”

Corida is the live music arm of France’s multifaceted Because Music Group, which is also involved in publishing, artist management and venue ownership.

The company now owns five festivals – its portfolio already included We Love Green and Peacock Festival – and programmes a further two (Super! is exec producer of Red Bull Music Festival and curator of Villette Sonique), while its promotion roster is boosted by the likes of the XX, Bon Iver, Four Fet, Mumford & Sons and Caribou.

“Together, we can be a real alternative, and attract the most talented independent acts touring France and Europe”

Julien Catala, who founded Super! in 2006, says: “I am delighted and proud to be joining the Corida and Because groups. This new partnership will enable Super! to develop its booking activities, festival production and special events, and continue to expand.

“In a globalised industry with multinational operators, being part of an independent group remains crucial to the Super! concept and the whole team. I am looking forward to working alongside Emmanuel [de Buretel, Because founder], Olivier [Darbois, Corida MD] and their partners at the Corida Group in order to expand an independent, innovative and modern network, while cultivating a strong and unique artistic ambition.”

“Super! is a fantastic addition to our group,” adds Darbois, recently appointed president of Prodiss. “Julien will continue to operate Super! independently while we will offer him our expertise and strength to help him expand. Together, we can be a real alternative, and attract the most talented independent acts touring France and Europe with a world-class level of service”.

De Buretel comments: “I am particularly excited to have the opportunity to work with Julien and his team. He is an imaginative entrepreneur who has demonstrated over the past 12 years that you can build a real alternative in a very competitive market like France. He will be an important asset for Corida Group across artist development to festivals, and we look forward to building synergies across the Because umbrella.”

 


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64,000 Tomorrowland-goers compromised in data breach

The personal data of tens of thousands of attendees of Tomorrowland 2014 has been compromised in a suspected cyberattack, the festival has confirmed.

Personal information of 64,000 people who bought tickets through Paylogic, including names, email addresses and postcodes, may have been stolen after hackers gained access to an old festival database, although sensitive data such as payment information was not affected, according to Tomorrowland press coordinator Debby Wilmsen

Speaking to Flemish-language daily De Standaard, Wilmsen says the Belgian festival, one of the world’s largest electronic dance music (EDM) events, reported the breach to the Dutch Data Protection Authority before contacting customers.

“The managers of the Paylogic ticketing system noticed some unusual activity on an older system,” she explains. “After careful analysis, it appeared that an old database from Tomorrowland 2014 was responsible. The server in question was immediately taken offline.”

“An old database from Tomorrowland 2014 was responsible. The server in question was immediately taken offline”

“When we were informed about this by Paylogic, we first informed the Data Protection Authority. We then decided to send an email to all affected visitors to inform them.”

The data that was compromised, she adds, “only contains [visitors’] names, email address, gender, age and postal code. The payment details, passwords and addresses of the users are not included.”

News of the Paylogic breach follows similar hacks of other ticketing systems, including Ticketmaster and, more seriously, Eventbrite’s Ticketfly, both this summer.

In a statement, Paylogic (now owned by France’s Vivendi) says it has “taken all necessary actions” to prevent access to other old databases. “We also continue to invest in the security of our system,” it adds. “This incident only affects Tomorrowland 2014 and not our other customers.”

 


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Switzerland’s Starticket appoints new CEO

Leading Swiss ticketing platform Starticket has appointed former Swiss Railways exec Christof Zogg as CEO.

Zogg replaces outgoing CEO Stefan Riedel, who has left the company, effective 1 January 2019. He was previously director of digital business at Swiss Federal Railways (SBB), which he joined in 2014 from Microsoft Switzerland.

According to the International Ticketing Yearbook 2018, Starticket is the second-largest entertainment ticket seller in Switzerland, “snapping at [the] heels” of market leader Ticketcorner, owned by CTS Eventim. Ticketcorner/Eventim last year attempted unsuccessfully to acquire Starticket, with the merger blocked by Switzerland’s Federal Competition Commission.

“Christof Zogg … is well qualified to further strengthen Starticket’s role as a service provider”

Starticket sells millions of tickets annually through Starticket.ch and its network of 1,500 booking offices and call centres.

“Christof Zogg successfully advanced digital sales at SBB and with his experience in the field of digital business, and he is well qualified to further strengthen Starticket’s role as a service provider,” says Samuel Hügli, head of technology and ventures at Starticket owner Tamedia.

“On behalf of Tamedia’s management board I wish him a good start and expect that, together with our customers and partners, we will carry on the success story of Starticket.”

 


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“Business as usual” for Pozitif as founders step down

Despite rumours to the contrary, leading Turkish promoter Pozitif is alive and kicking, undeterred by a major corporate restructure and the loss of its two remaining co-founders, according to the company.

Pozitif, founded in 1989 by Cem Yegül and brothers Ahmet and Mehmet Uluğ, is one of the largest concert promoters in Turkey, with recent shows including Alt-J, Oscar and the Wolf, Editors, Jessie J, OneRepublic, Morrissey and Blondie. It also operates several venues, including Volkswagen Arena (5,800-cap.) and Babylon (450-cap.), both in Istanbul, and festivals Cappadox, Bodrum Music Festival and One Love Festival.

In 2013, it was acquired by the Doğuş Group conglomerate, whose wide-ranging corporate interests also include retail chains, energy companies, hotels and hospitality businesses, radio and TV stations and a string of car dealerships.

Recent speculation suggested Pozitif’s promotions business, hit hard by the recent collapse of the Turkish lira, was to be killed off, leaving just the venues – one insider told IQ earlier this summer he believed the company was “going down” imminently.

“We now have fewer people – however, we’re doing the same amount of work”

Additionally, Ahmet Uluğ announced in May he was leaving Pozitif after 29 years, while IQ learnt Yegül – most recently the company’s CEO and president – is also no longer part of the management structure, although he remains a partner. (Mehmet Uluğ passed away in 2013.)

However, far from “going down”, Doğuş is navigating the turbulent political and economic climate in Turkey better than many, according to Pozitif senior booker Elif Cemal, downsizing its operations while laying a solid foundation for Pozitif’s future.

“A lot of companies of all sizes have already restructured, or are now are restructuring, their organisations, laying off staff or closing some departments,” she tells IQ. “Some of these conglomerates, such as Doğuş, which has a lot of investments here and abroad, had to start this process a little bit earlier than some.

“At Pozitif, it’s true that we now have fewer people – however, we’re doing the same amount of work, in booking and live events team, marketing and media, finance… Currently, we are preparing to celebrate Pozitif’s 30th year, Babylon’s 20th year, Volkswagen Arena’s fifth year and the fifth anniversary of our new international destination festival, Cappadox, in 2019.”

“Fluctuations in Turkey are always expected and part of our lives”

Other than the departure of Uluğ and Yegül’s stepping back, “the operational management team is the same,” Cemal says. “Ayşegül Turfan, who has been with the company for over 20 years, is managing partner, I am here in my usual senior booker capacity, and I am glad to share that Mehmet Ağaoğulları has joined our booking and live entertainment department.”

According to the International Ticketing Yearbook 2018, “the political turmoil in Turkey […] hasn’t stopped the overall live entertainment business from growing”, with the local live music ticket market worth €69m and expected to grow 4% annually through 2022.

For Pozitif, “we will go on with Babylon club as usual, as well as the Cappadox, One Love, Babylon Soundgarden and Akbank Jazz Festivals in 2019 and Volkswagen Arena concerts,” concludes Cemal. “Maybe with not-too-ambitious line-ups, but smarter programmes…”

“As we all know, fluctuations in Turkey are always expected and part of our lives,” she adds, “so [the political situation] has not had a bigger effect on the live entertainment business than usual”. For Pozitif, then, she says – and the live industry in general – it’s “business as usual”.

 


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The New Bosses 2018: Meryl Luzzi, Paradigm

The New Bosses 2018 – the latest edition of IQ’s annual list of future live business leaders – received a rapturous industry response following its publication in IQ 78, with friends and colleagues of the winning ten agents, promoters and other rising stars rushing to congratulate the class of 2018.

In putting together the list, 2018’s New Bosses gave IQ lengthy interviews spotlighting their careers so far, as well as insights into their working methods and tips for those hoping to follow in their footsteps. While these were (owing to the limitations of a print magazine) edited heavily, they’ll be reproduced in full online and on IQ Index over the coming weeks.

Thirty-year-old Meryl Luzzi, an agent at Paradigm Talent Agency in Los Angeles, is New Boss #3.

Luzzi graduated from Ithaca College in New York with a degree in integrated marketing communications, then worked as an event producer in Boston, Massachusetts, and New York. She bought a one-way ticket to Los Angeles in 2012 “never looked back”.

In LA, Luzzi joined AM Only, which at the time had just five employees in its newly opened LA office. AM Only had just partnered with powerhouse agency Paradigm, and was later fully acquired and rebranded. “I’m incredibly grateful to have joined the company at not just a pivotal time for dance music in America, but to be a part of AM Only’s rich history,” she says. (Read the previous interview, with the MJR Group’s Mike Jones, here.)

 


Who are you working with at the moment?
Sofi Tukker, who recently sold out two Fondas [1,200-cap.] in Los Angeles and Brooklyn Steel [1,800-cap.] in New York, among many other dates. They’re playing Life is Beautiful, CRSSD, Austin City Limits and Voodoo festivals this fall. Their album, Treehouse, went to №1 on the iTunes dance chart, and their single ‘Best Friend’ was featured in the iPhone X commercial and climbed the dance, top40, alternative and Hot AC charts here in the States.

Anjunadeep, for which we put together a series of open-air events – all outdoor, mostly daytime parties across the country. Notable highlights were a sold-out Brooklyn Mirage [6,000-cap.] and Treasure Island [in San Francisco] in advance.

I recently signed Mac Ayres, an R&B singer from New York, who is an incredible talent and whose debut album came out on 5 September. He’ll be touring in North America in November and I can’t wait for the world to get to know him.

Who do you turn to for advice?
I am extremely fortunate to have an incredible support system in my both my biological family and also my work family. Matt Rodriguez, Paul Morris, Emma Hoser and Alan Gary are a few people who have provided me with such guidance and helped me find my voice within this business.

There are also so many women in this business that I am grateful to call not only colleagues but friends, who I can rely on and am continually inspired by and in awe of. To have their support and support them is the best thing in the world.

As a New Boss, how would you improve the way business is done?
Check your ego at the door. No one has time for it.

Be a good human being first and great at your job second.

How has the role of an agent changed since you have been in the business?
Agents are at the forefront of music discovery – they are the new A&Rs, in a way. Also, there are so many artists touring, and thus so much more competition out there, that agents must find ways to tour more strategically.

Where is the most exotic place that your work has taken you?
I went to Brazil for the first time this year and fell in love with the culture, the people and their insatiable appetite for music.

“Never lose sight of who you are, what you want and what you stand for”

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt while at Paradigm?
We get countless emails a day and it’s easier to fire across a response and move onto the next one. I’ve learned a phone call and a personal touch goes a long way.

An agent at Paradigm also once said to me, “We’re not defined by the one decision we choose to make, but we are a culmination of the decisions we choose to make each day.” And our decisions ultimately dictate our priorities, right? So wake up each day and make decisions that support what you believe in. At the end of the day, we all have to look ourselves in the mirror and be proud of the way in which we conducted our business.

What do you do in your spare time to relax?
I’m a big advocate for a healthy and sustainable lifestyle. Working out, dancing to Bruno Mars and spending time with family and friends is the best way for me to unwind. And heist movies… I watch a lot of heist movies.

What do you see yourself doing in five years’ time?
Continue working to make this industry a better place than when I first started, empower other young women coming up in this business and work with artists who continually inspire me to do better, be better and fuel my love for music.

What advice would you give anyone who wants to get into the live music business?
Be a sponge. Listen, ask questions, say ‘yes’ to every opportunity and find someone in this business who is like-minded and hold onto them. Never lose sight of who you are, what you want and what you stand for.

And if you think you don’t fit in or that you’re different from those around you, know it’s your edge and not a weakness. Use it.

 


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Green Events & Innovations 2019 launches

The 11th edition of the Green Events & Innovations Conference (GEI), the conference for sustainability at live events, is open for registration.

Next year’s conference, run by A Greener Festival in partnership with the International Live Music Conference (ILMC), will take place on Tuesday 5 March 2019, at the Royal Garden Hotel in London, the day before ILMC. After selling out last year, and amid increased interest in sustainability, GEI is moving into a larger space in the hotel in 2019, accommodating more delegates and a bigger networking space.

Alongside the change of venue, GEI’s agenda is expanding and will collaborate more closely with the ILMC Production Meeting (IPM), which takes place concurrently in the same venue, thereby allowing delegates of both events to share knowledge and experience and network.

“A heightened awareness of plastics in our oceans, our food and our bodies, the health impacts of poor air quality, and stark warnings released recently relating to climate change mean radical and rapid changes are vitally important across every industry, and in our personal lives, too,” say organisers in a statement.

“We are already witnessing unprecedented involvement from stakeholders … But so much more can and needs to be done”

“We are already witnessing unprecedented involvement from stakeholders (from governance, individuals and businesses), who are investing in tangible solutions. But so much more can and needs to be done. GEI11 will welcome some of the top events in the world, and the best innovators, to share knowledge and experience; connect and network; and accelerate the transition of events and festivals from environment costly to environment friendly.”

Topics confirmed for the 2019 agenda include plastics and reusables, in light of the recent ban on single-use plastics by the European parliament; campsite waste and behaviour; merchandise; touring and transport; and event catering and food. The full GEI 11, agenda along with key note speaker, chairs and panellists, will be published over the next few months.

In addition, the conference will feature focused break-out sessions for industry groups working on specific collaborative projects.

Early-bird rate is available until 4 December 2019, at a cost of £80 plus VAT. To buy tickets, normally priced at £100 + VAT, click here.

 


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TodayTix launches event production arm, TodayTix Presents

Last-minute theatre ticketing platform TodayTix has announced plans to move beyond “simply processing ticket orders into producing live experiences audiences want most” with the launch of a new event production division, TodayTix Presents.

TodayTix, co-founded by former Broadway producers Brian Fenty and Merritt Baer, launched in New York in 2013 and is now also active in London, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington DC, Boston, Connecticut, Philadelphia, Seattle, Toronto, Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston (Texas) and the Berkshires (Massachusetts). Its partners include more than 450 venues and institutions globally, for whom it sells last-minute tickets to theatrical shows, musicals, comedy shows, concert, operas and dance events.

“When we launched TodayTix in 2013, our mission was to unlock access to theatre and the arts by introducing a simple way to buy and sell tickets,” says CEO Fenty (pictured). “Today, we serve more than 4.6 million customers globally, where more than two-thirds of our customers see multiple shows a year.

TodayTix Presents initially aims to produce three events each quarter across 13 cities

“As we ushered a new, younger demographic into this world over the past five years, we studied their behaviour and solicited their feedback to understand the types of experiences they crave most, which is the driving creative force behind the productions you’ll see from TodayTix Presents.”

TodayTix Presents initially aims to produce three events each quarter across the 13 cities in which it’s active. Its first production was in September 2018, in the form of a sold-out concert with Broadway performers including Darren Criss, Matthew Morrison, and Ariana DeBose, featuring the music of Madonna, Katy Perry, the Beatles and more.

The next TodayTix Presents event will be held in early November in New York city.

 


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Vivid Seats brings in Stan Chia as CEO

US secondary ticketing platform Vivid Seats has hired Stan Chia as CEO.

Chia was formerly COO of online food ordering service Grubhub, and has previously held senior roles at Amazon, Cisco and General Electric. He will take over daily operations at Vivid Seats – the largest independent ticket resale service North America, and a competitor to the likes of Ticketmaster Resale/TicketsNow and eBay-owned StubHub – from co-founders Eric Vassilatos and Jerry Bednyak, who remain co-chairmen of the company’s board.

“Stan’s experience driving incremental growth, strategic partnership development and innovative operations makes him an ideal fit to further advance Vivid Seats and the ticket purchasing experience,” says Bednyak, who with Vassilatos founded Chicago-based Vivid Seats as a start-up in 2001. “I am confident that he’ll take the company to the next phase of its corporate evolution and look forward to working with him.”

“I want to thank the founders and Vivid Seats’ shareholders for the opportunity to lead such an exceptional company of great people during a time of growth and innovation in the marketplace,” adds Chia (pictured). “I’ve always had a passion for live events and technology, and I am excited to work with the Vivid Seats team to provide consumers the best experience in online ticketing.”

Vivid Seats is backed by private-equity firms Vista Equity Partners and GTCR, the latter of which acquired a significant stake last May.

 


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Competition Authority fines SIAE for “abuse of dominant position”

The Italian Competition Authority has levied a symbolic fine of €1,000 on performance rights organisation (PRO) SIAE for the abuse of its dominant market position to suppress competition in Italy’s rights sector.

SIAE (the Italian Society of Authors and Publishers, or Società Italiana degli Autori ed Editori) has been given 60 days to “put an end to its [alleged] distortions of competition”, which relate to a dispute with two newer copyright collection societies, Soundreef and Innovaetica.

SIAE had formerly exercised a (legal) monopoly on Italian royalties collections, although a 2017 provision of Italy’s budget law finally paved the way for the liberalisation of the market and allowed for competition, to comply with EU law.

Some 8,000 rightsholders have left SIAE in recent years, mostly for Soundreef. SIAE was alleged to have spent 400,000 to investigate Soundreef – including by hiring Black Cube, a private intelligence agency founded by ex-Mossad agents – following the high-profile defection of Fabio Rovazzi and Fedez in January.

According to AGCM, SIAE has embarked on a “complex exclusionary strategy” designed to uphold its monopoly

In Fedez’s case, his tour promoter, Show Bees, had paid the artist’s royalties to SIAE – as it was legally obliged to do – but was later ordered to also pay Soundreef too (calling to mind the headache faced by other promoters whose acts are collecting their performance royalties directly).

According to the Italian Competition Authority (AGCM), SIAE has since 2012 embarked on a “complex exclusionary strategy” designed to uphold its monopoly, “impairing the right of authors to choose copyright management services provided by [SIAE’s] competitors”.

As a result, the authority today ordered SIAE to “immediately end the proven distortion of competition and to refrain from behaving [as such] in the future”, as well as imposing the €1,000 fine as a “symbolic pecuniary sanction”.

SIAE’s president, lyricist Mogol (pictured), says the society will “read and evaluate the text [of AGCM’s decision] very carefully”. “SIAE is sure to be able to demonstrate that no violation for abuse took place, and that its work was always respectful of the law on copyright and in general, including in the field of competition,” he comments.

 


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