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Criticism of Italy ticket law mounts after Sting ‘chaos’

Live Nation Italy has added its voice to the chorus of criticism surrounding Italy’s new named-ticket law, after a number of concertgoers were turned away from a delayed Sting show in Assago on Tuesday (29 October).

The show, at the Mediolanum Forum, near Milan, was the first promoted by Live Nation since the new regulations, introduced on 1 July, came into effect – and was therefore an “important test” of how the law would work in practice, says the company.

The answer? Not very well, according to Live Nation, who blamed the new legislation for the Sting show starting an hour late, after fans stuck in queues were unable to gain access to the arena.

The so-called named ticket law – designed to curb unauthorised resale – requires the purchaser’s name to be printed on tickets for all shows over 5,000 capacity, and concertgoers’ ID to match that name, to prevent tickets being sold on the secondary market. The Italian live music industry has consistently opposed the measure, warning of potential disruption and queues, and CTS Eventim’s TicketOne, Italy’s biggest ticket seller, said in September the law isn’t even effective, with tickets still widely available on the major resale sites.

TicketOne: touts thriving under named ticket law

Many people were also turned away from the Sting (pictured) show for having inadequate identification, or documents that didn’t match the name on their ticket.

Roberto De Luca, chairman of Live Nation Italy, says the company found itself in the “paradox that applying the law would lead to big disruptions, with the only solution being to violate it”.

“Of course we didn’t,” he says, “although we showed maximum flexibility and gave all possible assistance to the public.” Faced with huge queues, he continues, “even the police asked us to accept photocopied and scanned [ID] documents, which is not lawful.”

In addition to Live Nation and Eventim, criticism has been levelled at named tickets by Assomusica, the Italian concert promoters’ association, whose president, Vincenzo Spera, urges the government to reconsider the legislation for the sake of fans.

“One of the main concerns about the introduction of the new regulations, which we have always brought to the attention of the public, is the inconvenience caused by the new legislation,” comments Spera. “At an event of this magnitude [the Sting concert], where the spectators, being a weekday, arrive directly after work, huge delays are inevitable due to the need to carry out the checks required by law.”

Spera adds that Assomusica hopes the Italian parliament “will review the law by the end of the year”, taking into account “the many inconveniences and inefficiencies that occurred” at the Sting show. “Moreover, the phenomenon of secondary ticketing is far from being solved, and the authorities tasked with sanctioning the sites responsible have not yet taken adequate measures.”

“This law that penalises the public and punishes organisers, putting the ​​live entertainment industry at risk”

Unfortunately for the industry, the incident appears to have strengthened the resolve of Sergio Battelli, the deputy who introduced the named-ticket law, who has hit out at Live Nation, describing as “pure madness” a private company “using the stage for a rally against a state law”.

“I would add that if Live Nation, which in the past few months has brought 60,000 people to the Olympic Stadium in Rome for the [pre-law] Ed Sheeran concert, has had difficulty in getting 10,000 spectators into the Assago Forum, the problem is not the law but the organiser,” he wrote on Facebook.

The industry, however, largely shares the view of De Luca, who adds: “If there were these problems on a concert for 10,000 people, it’s very serious – because it’s a test to see exactly what will happen with major shows such as festivals, and on long tours.”

“Live Nation therefore reiterates its utmost opposition to a law that penalises the public and punishes organisers, putting the ​​live entertainment industry, which is a great cultural and economic resource for our country, at risk” reads a statement provided by Live Nation. “As demonstrated by other sectors, such as sports, and football in particular, we do not need named tickets to combat ticket touting.

“In fact, for [Sting], there were still copious amounts of tickets available on the secondary ticketing platforms.”

 


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Ticketmaster launches accessible tickets online

Ticketmaster has launched online tickets sales for disabled fans in the UK, allowing customers to buy accessible tickets online for the first time.

Ticketmaster’s online booking validation process allows fans with accessibility requirements to purchase the correct tickets easily. Customers who make an online accessible order are asked to submit their requirements, such as a seat for a personal assistant, a wheelchair-accessible space or access to the best location to view sign language interpretation, via their Ticketmaster account. All information will be saved for future purchases.

The system will be rolled out for upcoming events as Glasgow’s Scottish Event Campus (SEC) venues, which include the 13,000-capacity SSE Hydro, Glasgow and Motorpoint Arena Cardiff.

“At Ticketmaster we believe equal access to live entertainment is paramount,” comments Ticketmaster UK managing director Andrew Parsons.

“We knew we had to do more for disabled fans and our team has worked hard on this ground-breaking technology that endeavours to make ticket buying simple for all. Every fan should have the same access to the events they love, it’s an ongoing process and one we continue to prioritise.”

“This is real progress for millions of disabled fans who are entitled to a variety of ways in which they can book their tickets”

A recent survey compiled by music accessibility charity Attitude is Everything (AIE) found that 83% of disabled gig-goers have been deterred from buying tickets due to inaccessible booking systems. Many reported paying extra to be able to buy a ticket online, or having no option to purchase online at all.

Suzanne Bull MBE, CEO of the charity, says she is “delighted” that accessible tickets are now available online.

“This is real progress for millions of disabled fans who are entitled to a variety of ways in which they can book their tickets,” says Bull. “In designing their new service, Ticketmaster has worked closely with us and our Ticketing Without Barriers Coalition to achieve the five steps to inclusive ticketing that we set out in our February 2018 State of Access report. We wish them every success.”

The new system will roll out across more events, venues and countries in the near future.

Motorpoint Arena Cardiff and Ticketmaster UK were among nominees for AIE’s Outstanding Attitude Awards this year.

 


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It’s the Ship festival to set sail from Korea

Livescape Group, the company behind floating festival franchise It’s the Ship, has announced a Korean edition of the festival, due to set sail in August 2020.

It’s the Ship, Asia’s largest cruise ship-based festival, has set sail from Singapore for the past five years. The sixth edition, scheduled for 13 to 15 November 2019, will feature performances from acts including Nervo, Ben Nicky, Darren Styles and Ookay.

The South Korean edition of the festival, produced in partnership with Seoul-based cruise specialist Cruise Lab Co. Ltd, follows the inaugural It’s the Ship China, which took place from 13 to 17 June this year.

“We are excited to bring It’s the Ship to our country,” says Cruise Lab CEO Wilson Chang. “We’re looking forward to this maiden voyage for It’s the Ship Korea, bringing an all-encompassing unique music festival journey on a luxurious cruise ship.”

“It’s the Ship Korea indicates the growth of our homegrown brand and our international expansion through new charters worldwide”

Iqbal Ameer, Group CEO of Livescape Group, says it is an “honour” to announce the new festival in South Korea which “indicates the growth of our homegrown brand and our international expansion through new charters worldwide.”

Speaking to IQ in February, Ameer singled out South Korea, along with Japan and Australia, as “targets” for future events, stating the ambition for It’s the Ship to become “the world’s largest festival at sea”.

More information on ticketing and cabin reservations can be found here.

Read more about the growing phenomenon of floating festivals in IQ 86.

 


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Norwegian Mood: Norway market report

Norway doesn’t have the world’s biggest population – about 5.4 million – but don’t let anyone tell you it’s small.

If you were to drive from the site of the country’s southernmost major music festival to its northernmost – from Bystranda beach in Kristiansand, home of Palmesus, to Midnattsrocken in Lakselv, well into the Arctic Circle – you’d be looking at a 25-hour, 2,120km road trip through Norway and Sweden. Ergo, you might want to think about flying.

Between those two points on the Norwegian side, in addition to 450,000 lakes, there’s a lot of music. Some agents suggest there are more shows in the capital of Oslo than in Stockholm and Copenhagen combined. Others claim Norway has more festivals than any other country per head.

“Concerts are still the most popular cultural activity among Norwegians, besides the cinema,” says Tone Østerdal, CEO of the Norwegian Live Music Association (NKA). “And there are so many festivals now. We are not that many people but there are very many festivals around.”

The Norwegian concert business was worth NOK2.6billion (€270million) in 2017 – more than half of the NOK4.9bn (€510m) total value of the Norwegian music business. Norway is, of course, a major producer of music – not quite at Sweden’s level, but with plenty of recognisable names, from A-ha and Röyksopp to Sigrid, Susanne Sundfør, Nico & Vinz and Marcus & Martinus. And given its strong exchange rate and sound consumer base it is known, internationally, as a pretty lucrative spot that earns its place on a tour schedule.

“We are out on the outer edge,” says promoter Peer Osmundsvaag of All Things Live Norway. “You go to Norway for a reason, whether that be a financial one or because you have a strong fanbase here. It is not somewhere you just roll through.”

“It’s a strong and well-run live industry all over the country, and there’s a good bond”

There’s certainly money here, as everyone knows, but as well as the standard high-octane live business that fills arenas in the largest cities, Norway has a large, often volunteer-driven network of grass roots venues and small promoters, with regional music hubs tasked with supporting talent and initiative outside Oslo, and strong communication between regions.

Oslo is clearly the key Norwegian market, but other major cities – Bergen, Stavanger and Ålesund, scattered up the west coast; Trondheim in the centre; and Tromsø in the north – maintain their own highly independent scenes. No two of them are any less than five hours from each other by road, and most are much more. The geographical isolation of each city has effectively meant that each one has developed its own live identity, fuelled by hearty festivals and small venues.

“Norway is really about five countries in one, centring around the major cities,” says Osmundsvaag. “Therefore, the local festivals are very strong, because they are all so important for the local communities.”

Norway’s oil wealth also has ways of trickling down into the market. The Norwegian Cultural Fund had €98m to spend in 2018, having granted support to 2,546 out of 6,668 applications from the worlds of music, literature and other arts, the year before.

Festivals tend to attract more support than the broader live business, Østerdal suggests, but money also goes to regional talent development and new venues, and the NKA is active in knitting the industry together at all levels.

“For all of Norway, the reason we have a good live music scene is because of the NKA,” says Are Bergerud, head of Trondheim’s Tempo hub. “Everyone meets up and we all talk to each other all over the place. It’s a strong and well-run live industry all over the country, and there’s a good bond. Tone [Østerdal] is doing important work.”

 


Continue reading this feature in the digital edition of IQ 85, or subscribe to the magazine here.


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Norway’s NKA appoints new chairman

Ivar Chelsom Vogt, head of culture at Bergen venue USF Verftet, has been appointed the new chairman of the Norwegian Live Music Association (NKA).

At its most recent annual promoter conference in Stavanger, NKA (Norsk Konsertarrangører) also elected a new board, with members welcoming new additions Therese Østby Haugen, Trym Grydeland and Åsa Paaske Gulbrandsen, promoting Merete Moum Lo and Herman Ekle Lund, and reelecting Alexandra Archetti Stølen.

“The live market is growing and concert organisers are playing an increasingly central role in the music industry,” says Vogt, who also sits on the board of showcase festivals Vill Vill Vest and by:Larm. “At the same time, margins are small and many promoters are under pressure, [so] it is important that we as a sector work together to ensure a broad, diverse and viable field of organisers.

“NKA is an organisation in continuous growth and development”

“NKA is an organisation in continuous growth and development, with a membership growth of 13% so far in 2019. This is testament to NKA’s relevance, position and opportunity. There is still a lot to work on in this field, and I look forward to taking on the position.”

NKA represents some 350 promoters, festivals and other live businesses across Norway. Read IQ’s recent Norway market report, which found a country with one of the most active live music scenes in Europe, here.

Norwegian Mood: Norway market report

 


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The New Bosses 2019: Sophie Lobl, C3 Presents

The New Bosses 2019 – the biggest-ever edition of IQ‘s yearly roundup of future live industry leaders, as voted for by their peers – was published in IQ 85 last month revealing the twelve promising agents, promoters, bookers and execs that make up this year’s list.

To get to know this year’s cream of the crop a little better, IQ conducted interviews with each one of 2019’s New Bosses, to discover their greatest inspirations and proudest achievements, pinpoint the reasons for their success and obtain advice for those hoping to be a future New Boss. Snippets of the interviews can be found in the September edition of IQ Magazine.

All interviews have now been reproduced in full online and on IQ Index, but this is not the last you will hear from these promising young execs. The New Bosses will play a key role in the forthcoming edition of Futures Forum, the discussion and networking event for the next generation of industry leaders that debuted at ILMC 31 in March. 

The final new boss is Sophie Lobl (28), global festival buyer at C3 Presents in Texas. Born in London, Lobl made her way to the United States after graduating from Leeds University in the UK. Starting her career at BBC Radio 1, she later went to WME, where she worked her way up from a receptionist to assisting Russell Warby, Ari Emanuel and, finally, Marc Geiger in the LA office.

In 2019, Lobl relocated to Texas to work for C3 in the newly created role of global festival buyer, where she works closely with the European Live Nation team on artist offers for 197 festivals worldwide. (Read the previous interview with United Talent Agency’s Sara Schoch here).

 


What are you busy with right now?
Booking festivals for 2020. We are in the middle of booking all the line ups for next year and about to announce the Austin City Limits schedule!

Did you always want to work in the music business?
Pretty much. I actually initially wanted to work in radio. I produced and presented a couple of shows on my student radio station in Leeds which led me into working as an assistant producer at Radio 1 and 1Xtra – I thought I was going to be Annie Mac! Then I discovered live and booking shows and there was no turning back after that.

What are some of the highlights of your career so far?
Working on Tom Petty’s last tour is one of the greatest memories I’ll ever have. He was a lovely man. Launching Lollapalooza Stockholm is also a true career highlight. We’re very excited for 2020, it looks like we’ll have a great line up.

“I discovered live and booking shows and there was no turning back after that”

How has your role changed since you started out?
It’s changed drastically. I went from working on reception and making coffee, to being (several) agents’ assistants, to now booking and managing my own multi-stage festivals. None of it was planned, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. C3 is an awesome company and I am incredibly excited about the projects I get to work on and also about some of the new projects we have in the pipeline.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt while at C3?
That’s a big question. I think never being afraid of trying something new is the main one. Launching a festival is terrifying and working in markets that are new to us can be daunting. Luckily, we have incredible partners on our international festivals that save us from losing our jobs.

What, if anything, would you change about how the live industry is run today?
I think just more inclusiveness generally across the board. It really is getting better and there are now far more opportunities for women and other minorities. But that shouldn’t even really be a thing, should it? C3 actually has a majority of women employees, especially in senior management positions. I think other companies are following suit.

“Never being afraid of trying something new is important – launching a festival is terrifying and working in markets that are new to us can be daunting”

What do you do for fun?
Hang out with my French Bulldog. His name is Francis. You should follow him on Instagram (@francislefrenchie).

Do you have an industry mentor?
[Live Nation vice president fo European Touring] Kelly Chappell has been my mentor, saviour and sister since the beginning of time. She really is the best. I don’t know anyone that works harder or that has such an incredible attention to detail as she has. She is so knowledgeable and wise and deserves all the recognition I can give her.

What advice would you give to anyone who wants to get into, or is new to, the business?
Work your bum off. None of this is easy and, although it may look glamorous, it really isn’t sometimes. But the hard work pays off and it really is worth it.

Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?
Sitting at home with ten french bulldogs? Probably doing exactly what I’m doing now. Maybe just a little better. C3 & S doesn’t really have a ring to it, does it?

 


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Esmúsica: ‘collective voice’ of Spanish music biz is born

Organisations from the live, recorded and publishing sectors in Spain have joined forces to create Esmúsica, a federation acting as a “collective voice” for the Spanish music industry.

The umbrella body was formed yesterday (Wednesday 30 October) at industry conference BIME Pro, which is taking place until 1 November in Bilbao, north Spain. The organisation takes a similar model to that of umbrella groups in Britain (UK Music) and Canada (Music Canada).

Industry figures signed the agreement to launch the federation, with representatives from Acces (national association for live music venues); Aedem (Association of independent music publishers); AIE (Society for performing artists and publishers); APM (Association for music promoters); Arte (Association of stage technicians); Opem (Organisation of professional music publishers); Promusicae (Spanish music producers); SGAE (General society of authors and publishers); and Ufi (Union for independent phonographers).

Iñaki Gaztelumendi, founder and president of Spain Live Music and the person responsible for the new body’s strategic plan, told Spanish news agency Efe that Esmúsica will “put the demands of this sector – which is of such economic, cultural and social importance – on the public agenda, so we can improve as a collective entity.”

“Esmúsica will put the demands of this important sector on the public agenda”

Esmúsica aims to work closely with the state to aid the sustainable development of the Spanish music sector, focusing on areas of talent, creativity, intellectual property, entrepreneurship, training, innovation and internationalisation.

The association also wants to create national standards for all areas of the music industry in the country.

In addition, Esmúsica will produce a best practice guide relating to hiring in the sector and collaborate in the formation of an Academy of Spanish Music.

In terms of financing, the umbrella organisation plans to create a state fund dedicated to the development of the music industry.

The new body will also form the Observatory of Spanish Music, an analytical body looking at the current state of the Spanish music industry and working on ways to advance in the future.

Spain is the focus of the latest IQ market report, available to read online in the most recent edition of IQ Magazine here.

 


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Neo Sala presented with lifetime achievement award

Neo Sala, founder and CEO of promoter Doctor Music, has been presented with an award by the Spanish music industry to recognise his four-decade career in the live business.

Sala, who founded Doctor Music in 1982, was given by the award by Albert Salmerón, president of the Association of Music Promoters (APM), at the sixth Premios Fest awards in Bilbao yesterday (30 October).

Nearly 40 years after its founding, Doctor Music, still led by Sala, remains one of Europe’s leading independent promoters, working with the likes of the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Adele, Katy Perry, REM, Camila Cabello, Shawn Mendes and Greta Van Fleet. It also launched Spain’s first-ever major music festival, Doctor Music Festival, in the mid-1990s.

“Neo has played a fundamental role in the formation of the national music scene”

Last May, the company sold a majority stake to Germany’s CTS Eventim, becoming Eventim’s first controlled promoter in the Spanish market.

According to APM, Sala is “the greatest exponent of the music industry in our country”. “Neo has played a fundamental role in the formation of the national musical and cultural scene, helping Spain to become a must-stop destination for any world-class tour,” says the association.

The Premios Fest (‘Fest Awards’) take place annually ahead of the BIME Live conference. Other 2019 winners included Bilbao BBK Live, which picked up best large festival, and Cruïlla Festival, which won the innovation award.

 


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A&MAs: Debbie Gwyther named manager of the year

The Music Managers Forum (MMF) and Featured Artists Coalition (FAC) have announced final details of the 2019 Artist & Manager Awards (A&MAs), with Debbie Gwyther (FEAR) named manager of the year and Lewis Capaldi to receive artist of the year.

Hosted by BBC Radio 1’s Huw Stephens, the A&MAs 2019 take place at London’s Bloomsbury Big Top on Thursday 14 November.

Alongside UROK’s Sam and Roy Eldridge, who will present her award, Gwyther has masterminded the return of Liam Gallagher to centre stage, having delivered two No 1 albums, with Why Me? Why Not following As You Were to the UK’s top spot in September 2019.

Gwyther and the Eldridges have also guided Gallagher to live success, reinvigorating Oasis classics alongside his newer material for a run of celebratory sold-out performances in Europe, the Americas and Australasia. The award for Manager of the Year is sponsored by YouTube Music.

Annabella Coldrick, CEO of the MMF, comments: “Selecting a manager of the year is always a massive challenge, but Debbie’s impact over the past 12 months has been undeniable.

“Debbie’s impact over the past 12 months has been undeniable”

“We all know that Liam Gallagher is one of the UK’s greatest, most enduring and recognisable rock stars, but behind the scenes is a story of incredible team work and collaboration – all with the goal of putting Liam back where he belongs.

“MMF are delighted to recognise Debbie’s success and thrilled that Sam and Roy have agreed to present the award. Why her? Why not!”

The rise of Lewis Capaldi, meanwhile, has been “the irrefutable story of 2019”, say A&MAs organisers. In just 12 months, the singer-songwriter has graduated from theatres to sold-out arenas shows, and released a number-one album, Divinely Uninspired to a Hellish Extent.

As previously announced, other confirmed winners at the 2019 Artist & Manager Awards are Nile Rodgers (artists’ artist award), Rebecca Boulton and Andy Robinson (managers’ manager award), Neneh Cherry (pioneer award), Sam Fender and Owain Davies (FanFair Alliance outstanding contribution to live music), Andy Varley (entrepreneur award) and Sandy Dworniak (writer/producer manager).

 


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Report: 2020 festival season “main worry” post-Brexit

A report published by the Birmingham Live Music Project (BLMP) has revealed the main live music-related concerns for industry figures, policymakers and academics in a post-Brexit world.

The report, written by researchers at Aston University, Birmingham City University and Newcastle University with contributions by Arts Council England, Birmingham Music Coalition and Musicians’ Union, states the decrease in ‘music tourism’ to the UK is likely to cost the economy “hundreds of millions of pounds”.

The 2020 festival season is identified as one of the major concerns for the UK music industry after Brexit.

“Given the uncertainty around Brexit, it is hard to predict what the potential costs of running events of such scale may be in order to plan for any potential losses linked to those costs,” write the authors of the report: Patrycja Rozbicka, Craig Hamilton, Adam Behr, Patricia Correa Vila and Luke John Davies.

A drop in “consumer confidence” has already resulted in a slower sales cycle for live events, which is proving a particular issue for emerging artists. As a consequence, managers and agents are becoming “increasingly risk-averse”, often preferring to ask for fixed fees over a percentage of sales.

“Given the uncertainty around Brexit, it is hard to predict what the potential costs of running events of such scale may be”

“The feeling amongst local stakeholders is that these issues will only become more difficult to manage should Brexit go badly,” states the report, highlighting the effect on promoters who “have to underwrite the success (or otherwise) of shows”.

Touring – which has been deemed “unviable” for some post-Brexit – is another major issue for the BLMP. UK acts seeking to play in Europe would face “increased financial and administrative burdens” and a ‘cultural pushback’ against the UK may decrease the number of opportunities for UK acts abroad, as well as the attractiveness of the country as a touring destination.

Disruptions and delays at UK and EU borders are also likely to cause issues, with a “shortage of warehouse space” in the country driving up prices for production firms wishing to store equipment.

The UK has also traditionally acted as a “staging post” for international acts touring the EU. If current UK-based production companies were to relocate to cities with better access to EU markets such as Dublin, states the report, jobs and opportunities are likely to go with them.

“This report is the first step in a bigger project which aims to provide much needed creative solutions and recommendations to secure the future of the music industry as we know it pre-Brexit”

“By bringing a variety of stakeholders together, we aimed to explore the way Brexit is likely to impact everything from the thousands of people who follow and support the live music industry, through to the musicians themselves and the regional authorities that legislate and administrate for cultural economies,” comments Patrycja Rozbicka, one of the authors of the report.

“This report is the first step in a bigger project which aims to provide much needed creative solutions and recommendations to secure the future of the music industry as we know it pre-Brexit.”

UK live industry figures have deemed existing government recommendations on touring post Brexit as “inadequate”.

The BLMP is a research programme jointly run by Rozbicka (Aston University), Behr (Newcastle University) and Hamilton (Birmingham City University). A full version of the report is available to read here.

 


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