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Elton John records biggest tour in Covid-hit H1 2020

With gross earnings of nearly US$90 million, Elton John’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road was the biggest tour globally in the first half of 2020 according to the latest Pollstar box-office numbers.

The site’s mid-year Top 100 Worldwide Tours shows Sir Elton had grossed $87.1m from 38 shows, with a total of 664,749 tickets sold, when concert touring ground to a pandemic-induced halt in March. (The ‘mid-year’ reporting period runs from 21 November 2019 to 20 May 2020, though the final show of John’s only 2020 touring period, at Western Sydney Stadium in Australia, took place months before, on 7 March.)

Sir Elton’s AEG-promoted success down under outshone his nearest competition to the tune of $16m, Celine Dion placing second with Courage world tour, which played arenas in North America from September to March. Another AEG tour, Courage grossed $71.2m from 33 shows, with 408,407 tickets sold.

Third and fourth, and the only other artists grossing more than $50m, were Trans-Siberian Orchestra and U2, respectively, while fifth-placed Post Malone recorded $38.8m from 22 dates.

Live Nation, unsurprisingly, retains its crown as the number-one promoter; Madrid’s WizInk Center is a new entry for top arena, having sold 30,000 more tickets than second-placed Madison Square Garden.

 


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StubHub UK managers move to ticketing startup Tickitto

Two former members of the StubHub UK team have joined ticketing software startup Tickitto, as StubHub faces continuing scrutiny in the UK over its merger with fellow secondary ticketer Viagogo.

Nick Harford and Harriet Clayton, join Tickitto from StubHub UK, they had worked on developing the company’s primary ticketing business. The pair, who left StubHub in May 2019, take on the roles of head of business development and partnerships and head of partnerships activation respectively.

StubHub’s acquisition by fellow secondary ticketing giant Viagogo has been at the scrutiny of the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) since December. The watchdog recently referred the merger for an in-depth investigation, warning that it could result in “a substantial lessening of competition”.

“We are committed to acquiring the very best talent and expertise in the industry”

“My experience working with major rights holders, promoters, ticketing platforms venues and software providers, as well as navigating the complexities of the entertainment world lends itself well to support the expansion of Tickitto across its key markets,” comments Harford.

Dana Lattouf, CEO of Tickitto, adds: “We are committed to acquiring the very best talent and expertise in the industry. I am excited to welcome Harry and Nick into the team and look forward to unlocking the world’s best-ticketed experiences and forging strong relationships with our partners.

“I am confident that their combined expertise will aid our growth as we embark on the next stage of our journey.”

Launched in 2017, Tickitto provides an easy-to-use application programming interface (API) for the integration of ticket selling software onto any platform, allowing partners to access inventory, pricing and availability in one place. The company recently received US$700,000 in a pre-seed investment round from Seedcamp.

 


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10m+ stream BBC Glastonbury 2020 coverage

The BBC’s Glastonbury Experience was a break-out streaming hit, with more than ten million views on the corporation’s on-demand platform, BBC iPlayer, as of Tuesday 30 June.

Running from 10am local time on Thursday 25 June until late on Monday 29 June – commemorating the 50th anniversary of Glastonbury Festival that never was – the Glastonbury Experience aimed to bring the spirit of the legendary festival to viewers at home by broadcasting past performances on iPlayer, television, radio and the BBC Sounds audio streaming service.

In addition to broadcasting sets on TV (BBC Two and BBC Four), including Adele (2016), Beyoncé (2011), Coldplay (2016), Jay-Z (2008) and David Bowie (2000) – the first time Bowie’s performance has ever been broadcast in full – the BBC created a ‘pop-up’ Glastonbury Experience channel on iPlayer. That channel additionally featured shows by the likes of the Killers (2004), Radiohead (1997), Christine and the Queens (2016) and Billie Eilish (2019).

At press time, a BBC Music spokesperson tells IQ, there have been 10.2 million requests for Glastonbury content on iPlayer so far – and with content available for another 30 days, the corporation says it expects that number to grow.

Adele’s set was the most-watched programme on BBC Two, with an audience of 2.1m

Overnight figures for television content, meanwhile, show that Adele’s set was the most-watched programme on BBC Two, with an audience of 2.1m (the biggest for a BBC Two Glastonbury programme since 2017).

Sunday evening’s edition of Glastonbury Backstage Acoustics, with an audience of 261,000, was the BBC Four programme with the highest audience, followed closely by Nile Rodgers and Chic (2017), which had an audience of 258,000. For your background information these initial figures are not consolidated so are only an early indication of the performances of Glastonbury related programming on BBC TV and BBC iPlayer this weekend.

Glastonbury Festival will return on 23–27 June 2021.

 


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Covid-safe Lolla Paris to take place in July

The team behind Lollapalooza Paris has joined forces with Parisian couture house Balmain to host a one-day, musical picnic event on 19 July.

The adapted edition of Lolla Paris, which will take place on the original festival weekend at its home at the ParisLongchamp Racecourse, is also put on in collaboration with Michelin-starred French chef Jean Imbert and champagne brand Veuve Clicquot.

C3 Presents and Live Nation France called off the 2020 edition of Lolla Paris, which was set to feature Billie Eilish, Pearl Jam, Asap Rocky, Vampire Weekend and Rita Ora, due to the coronavirus pandemic and ensuing country-wide event ban.

Now, as touring gets set to return to France next month and venues, including stadiums and racetracks from 11 July, are allowed to host up to 5,000 people, a tailor-made Lollapalooza Paris 2020 is to take place.

Fans will sit on picnic blankets designed for the event by Balmain’s artistic director, Olivier Rousteing, and sample a menu prepared by Lolla chef Jean Imbert, accompanied by a bottle of Veuve Clicquot rosé champagne with wine and food pairing.

“[The event] will celebrate a certain French art of living in an exceptional summer setting”

The event will take place in compliance with current sanitary rules and distancing measures.

Tickets go on sale on Thursday 2 July at 10 a.m. CET on the Balmain website. Proceeds from ticket sales will go towards the Global Fund’s Covid-19 response, in collaboration with HIV/AIDS charity (RED).

To further raise awareness and funds, five customised pairs of Balmain trainers and several collector’s picnic blankets will be sold online on the day of the event with all profits raised going to the fund.

Angelo Gopee, general manager of Live Nation France, says the collaboration between Balmain and Lollapalooza, “two emblematic brands with an international reputation”, was “obvious”. “[The event] will celebrate a certain French art of living in an exceptional summer setting.”

“If there was one thing that the months of confinement made very clear, it was how much of life’s beauty that we had taken for granted,” adds Rousteing. “Forced apart, we realised how important it was to be together. Locked inside, we longed for the beauty of springtime in Paris.”

A full programme of content for Lolla Paris 2020 will be available online soon.

 


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Canadian hotels host first govt-approved concerts

Hotels are serving as the stage for live music’s return in Canada, as venue and event management software company Showpass and booking agency Livestar Entertainment team up to host shows in hotel pools and courtyards across the country.

The Hotels Live concert series – billed as the first government-sanctioned live music events to take place in the country since the Covid-19 shutdown – launched on Monday (29 June) in the city of Calgary, with a series of shows set to take place at the pool deck stage at the Ramada Plaza Downtown hotel this month.

Tickets for the concerts, which feature acts the Hip Experience, Garth Brooks tribute Fresh Horses and Pink Floyd tribute Pink 4reud, start from CA$75 (€49), with the hotel room included.

All rooms have balconies overlooking the stage, acting as guests’ private box suites. Food and drink packages may also be included for an additional price.

“We know this hotel balcony series will be our first of many to come”

The hospitality and entertainment industries have similarly joined forces in Sweden, where promoter Jubel is hosting concerts as part of weekend getaways, and the Netherlands, where EDM promoter ID&T is trying its hand at organising camping holidays.

“Hotels Live is proud to collaborate with Showpass to bring live music back to the world. By providing a truly exclusive entertainment experience, we know this hotel balcony series will be our first of many to come,” says Rob Cyrynowski of Livestar Entertainment Canada/Hotels Live.

“The goal of this project is to get as many folks in the music industry – from musicians and crew members, to agents and promoters – back to doing what they love and most importantly, getting paid to do it,” adds Showpass CEO Lucas McCarthy.

Showpass and Livestar plan to announce more Hotels Live concert dates across North America in due course, partnering with hotels, festival and venue operators, promoters and agencies to bring more shows to fruition.

More information on working with one of the Showpass hotel partners to host an event, can be found here.

 


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Cirque du Soleil files for bankruptcy protection

Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group, the world’s largest producer of contemporary circus and other touring entertainment shows, has filed for bankruptcy protection in Canada after more than three months of “zero revenues” as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Montreal-based Cirque du Soleil announced yesterday (29 June) it has applied to restructure its business under Canada’s CCCA (Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act – a process that shields it from creditors, similar to administration in the UK or chapter-11 bankruptcy in the US). Its application will heard today by the Superior Court of Quebec.

The announcement follows a particularly torrid quarter for Cirque, which announced thousands of temporary lay-offs in the early days of the pandemic.

Cirque says it has entered into a court-supervised purchase agreement with shareholders, including Texas-based TPG Capital and China’s Fosun Capital Group, to establish two funds, worth US$20 million, to provide relief to laid-off employees and contractors. (Some 3,480 of the more than 4,500 employees furloughed in March are expected to lose their jobs permanently.)

The ‘sponsors’, which also include state-owned investment company Quebec Deposit and Investment Fund (CDPQ), will additionally inject $300m worth of liquidity in order to restart the restructured business.

“I look forward to rebuilding our operations and coming together once again”

“For the past 36 years, Cirque du Soleil has been a highly successful and profitable organisation. However, with zero revenues since the forced closure of all of our shows due to Covid-19, management had to act decisively to protect the company’s future,” comments Daniel Lamarre, president and CEO of Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group.

Subject to the Superior Court’s approval, the sponsors will also serve as the “stalking horse”, or reserve bidders, in a sale and investment solicitation process (‘SISP’) of Cirque’s assets.

“The purchase agreement and SISP provide a path for Cirque to emerge from CCAA protection as a stronger company. The robust commitment from the sponsors – which includes additional funds to support our impacted employees, contractors and critical partners, all of whom are important to Cirque’s return – reflects our mutual belief in the power and long-term potential of our brand,” continues Lamarre.

“I look forward to rebuilding our operations and coming together to once again create the magical spectacle that is Cirque du Soleil for our millions of fans worldwide.”

 


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1/3 of Italians book tickets for post-corona shows

In news that bodes well for the immediate future of the Italian live industry, nearly a third of live music fans have already bought, or are planning to buy, tickets for their first post-lockdown concerts, new research suggests.

Dopo l’Intervallo (After the Interval), based on the results of a survey of over 32,000 Italian eventgoers between 27 May and 19 June, reveals that 30.5% of respondents are actively seeking to buy tickets for shows – nearly double the number in the UK (17%), where the first After the Interval survey was conducted on 16 April–6 May.

“Italy is considered to be 2–4 weeks ahead of the UK in their experience of Covid-19. Could these results give us an idea of how our cultural audiences might be feeling in 6–8 weeks?” asks Indigo, the consultancy behind both surveys.

Italy’s concert scene reopened for business earlier this month, with phase three of the easing of lockdown seeing indoor shows of up to 200 people and outdoor events of up to 1,000 people allowed from 15 June. Some 90% of bars and restaurants are now open, though the live industry continues to wait for news on major gatherings such as large concerts and festivals.

“[Italians] consider it an integral part of their culture … to participate in music events and live shows”

The Italian version of After the Interval – produced by Indigo for Teatro Stabile del FVG, with input from live music associations such as Assomusica and KeepOn Live – additionally reveals a huge 96% of Italian respondents said they have missed live events during the Covid-19 pandemic (73% of them “a lot”), and that nearly a quarter (23%) would return to an event “as soon as venues reopen”.

However, of the 30.5% of those who are actively booking tickets, around half of them are booking for events after November 2020, indicating there will likely not be a full-scale recovery until 2021.

Vincenzo Spera, president of promoters’ association Assomusica, says the survey results are testament to the importance the Italian public places on live events. “We can take comfort and confidence”, he explains, in the fact Italian audiences consider it an “integral part of their culture […] to participate in music events and live shows.”

Italy is the world’s sixth-largest music market, with US$635m in ticket sales in 2019, according to PwC.

 


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Björk to perform to live audience in August

Björk is performing a series of shows across three consecutive weekends in August in her home country of Iceland, to celebrate the start of the country’s post-coronavirus reopening.

The shows, which are organised in conjunction with showcase festival Iceland Airwaves, will see the singer perform at Reykjavík’s 1,800-capacity Harpa Hall on 9, 15 and 23 August. The performances will be some of the first from a major artist in front of a live audience since the coronavirus shutdown.

“Dear friends, I would like to invite you to some concerts,” reads a statement from Björk. “We are going to celebrate that we are all healthily exiting quarantine together.”

Björk also states the concerts aim to honour “folks who got hit hardest [by] the coronavirus and the black lives matter movement”, as well as acting as a celebration of the Icelandic musicians that Björk has worked with over the years.

“We are going to celebrate that we are all healthily exiting quarantine together”

Each concert will showcase new instrumental arrangements of scores from Björk’s back catalogue. Björk will perform alongside the Hamrahlid Choir on 9 August and will be accompanied by the Icelandic symphony orchestra on the other two dates.

The concerts will also be streamed live online, where there will an option to donate to women’s shelter Kvennaathvarfid. For those attending in person, money raised from food and drink sales will go to the shelter.

Björk had been set to perform special orchestral shows at Moscow’s Crocus Music Hall and Helsinki’s Hartwall Arena this summer, as well as at festivals Waldbühne Open Air in Germany, Siene Musicale in France and Bluedot festival in the UK, before the pandemic put a halt on global touring.

Tickets for the Harpa Hall shows are available for pre-order on 2 July at 10 a.m. GMT, with general sale commencing on 3 July. Tickets will be priced in five tiers, starting at ISK4,990 (€32).

Iceland Airwaves is taking place from 4 to 7 November in Reykjavík, featuring acts including Metronomy, Courtney Barrett, Black Pumas, Squid and Iceland’s Daði Freyr.

 


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Croatian beach festival to go ahead in July

Pag, the Croatian island home to the Hideout and Sonus festivals, will host a new electronic music festival in the second week of July.

Zagred-based promoter BSH Events hopes to attract around 4,000 guests to the debut BSH Island festival, which will take place at the waterfront Noa Beach Club from Thursday 7 to Sunday 12 July. The festival – which has been given the green light by local health authorities – will feature a dance-focused line-up headlined by Richy Ahmed, Paco Osuna, Honey Dijon and Artbat.

According to BSH, which has been organising parties in Croatia since 2013, the festival will comply with all “epidemiological measures necessary”. Both Sonus and Superstruct’s Hideout were cancelled earlier this year as the coronavirus crisis escalated.

Most clubs on Pag’s Zrce beach will reopen in the first week of July, while Noa opened its doors earlier this month.

The festival will comply with all “epidemiological measures necessary”

Tea Cafuta, speaking on behalf of the Zrce beach clubs, tells Hrturizam.hr the venues “have a detailed plan of compliance” with anti-Covid-19 measures that include limiting the number of people allowed in key ‘zones’ inside the clubs, temperature checking patrons, and installing disinfectants and sanitisers throughout.

At press time, BSH Island had sold more than 1,500 tickets, mostly to locals, although they are also proving popular with Dutch and Belgian tourists, according to BSH Events’ Drago Vukelic. Tickets are priced at HRK 250 (€33) for regular passes and HRK 550 (€73) for VIP tickets.

As of last week, Croatia had closed its borders to a number of its Balkan neighbours to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, though tourists from many countries are being welcomed in a bid to kickstart the country’s tourism-dependent entertainment sector.

 


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Final line-up for VR Wireless Connect revealed

Festival Republic and MelodyVR have announced the full line-up for Wireless Connect, a three-day virtual reality music festival taking place from 3 to 5 July.

The event will see exclusive performances – filmed in MelodyVR’s LA studio and custom-made studio in Alexandra Palace, London – from acts including Stefflon Don, Mist, Steel Banglez, Jay1, as well as additional footage from Wireless 2019 featuring Skepta, Young Thug, Rae Sremmurd and more. 

Other performances will come from Yungen, Unknown T, Big Narstie and Deno in the UK and from Saweetie, iann dior and 24kGoldn in the US. The full line-up and schedule can be found here.

Wireless Connect will be available in 360​° immersive virtual ​reality on smartphones and VR headsets via the MelodyVR app. It will also stream on the Wireless Facebook Live and YouTube channels.

Free to watch, Wireless Connect fans are encouraged to make a donation to the Black Lives Matter movement

Free to watch, Wireless Connect fans are encouraged to make a donation to the Black Lives Matter movement via a Crowdfunder, which launches at 5 p.m. BST today (29 June).

Radio station Capital Xtra will air artist interviews and provide the soundtrack to those bringing the festival experience to their home.

A celebration of rap, grime, hip hop and RnB, Wireless Festival was forced to cancel its fifteenth anniversary edition this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Acts billed to play the event in London’s Finsbury Park included ASAP Rocky, D-Block Europe and Lil Uzi Thug.

Ben Samuels, North America president of MelodyVR, was one of a number of music industry innovators to take part in the IQ Focus Innovation Session last month. All previous IQ Focus sessions can be watched back here.

 


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