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The Brexit deal: What we know so far

The live music industry has been left with many unanswered questions by the post-Brexit trade deal, which was agreed upon by the UK and the EU on Christmas Eve (24 December).

The deal, which was signed into law yesterday, takes effect at 11 pm GMT today (31 December) – four-and-a-half years after the UK voted to leave the EU in a referendum and almost a year after the UK officially left the EU.

While much of the impact on touring musicians and productions is still unclear, IQ spoke with specialists across concert hauliers, freight and visas, to identify the current state of play for the live music business.

Concert Hauliers
According to Richard Burnett, CEO, Road Haulage Association, the biggest issue the new Free Trade Agreement presents to concert hauliers is restricted access to the market. This is due to reduced cabotage – a restriction of movements within a country.

Before Brexit, concert hauliers were not restricted in the number of times they could unload and load productions on a European tour. From tomorrow, trucks over 3.5 tonnes are limited to just three internal movements.

“So, a haulier could drop off a load in Paris, pick up a load in Paris, and then take it to Leon. And then the haulier would have to come home,” Burnett explains. The cabotage rules are also reciprocal; European trucks touring the UK would have equally limited movements.

From tomorrow, trucks over 3.5 tonnes are limited to just three internal movements

An estimated 85% of the European concert trucking business is based from the UK. Burnett says that currently, the only way those hauliers can continue to provide the same service they have for decades is by setting up a European operation which “costs a lot of money… hauliers have already had the worst year in their history due to Covid and are struggling enormously as it is.”

Seeking an exemption from the current rules, the Road Haulage Association and umbrella trade group LIVE is lobbying the UK Government to intervene and prevent large-scale European touring out of the UK from effectively being unable to resume in 2021.

ATA carnets
The carnet system will once again apply within Europe, as it did prior to the UK’s membership of the EU, and in line with other non-EU international tours.

It will now be necessary for tours to obtain ATA Carnets for all equipment travelling outside of the UK on a temporary basis. And while the carnet process is well established, its reintroduction is expected to add friction and cost to European touring, with its impact felt more intensely by grassroots and emerging artists.

“Merchandise shipments and any other consumable items cannot be shipped on a carnet so they will probably have to enter the EU on a permanent basis and, whilst they should be duty-free, a local company in the European destination country will have to take responsibility for the VAT due on the import,” says John Corr at Sound Moves.

While the carnet process is well established, its reintroduction is expected to add friction and cost to European touring

In terms of logistics, Corr points out that the new deal will require all trucks of 7.5 tonnes and above to have submitted customs clearance details and obtained a Kent Access Permit to be allowed to enter the county, to then make use of one of the document processing facilities and be allowed to board and cross.

His colleague, Martin Corr, stresses the inevitable delays tours will suffer while everyone gets used to the new customs procedures and processes.

“In the long term, promoters, managers and productions managers will have to budget for extra costs in relation to raising and bonding carnets. At the same time, itineraries will need to be carefully scrutinised to allow for the extra time and potential delays whilst carnets and other documents – including those for the truck and the drivers – are presented, approved, and customs and immigration release obtained,” he says.

Visas
For outbound immigration (UK to EU), visa requirements for touring musicians and crew will, in the future, be up to each individual country and enquiries are underway regarding immigration regulations applicable to each individual member state for outbound mobility from the UK.

A recent blog post by immigration specialists Viva La Visa states that, “The hoped-for provision for a dedicated clear permit free route for UK performers and their crews to operate in the EU was not there”. Industry associations are subsequently pressing for urgent clarification.

For inbound immigration, from tomorrow EU musicians (and entourages) will be coming into the UK through any of the existing three routes that apply to non-visa nationals: Certificates of Sponsorship (Tier 5), Permitted Paid Engagements (PPE) and Permit Free Festivals.

Various petitions have been launched in relation to musicians working in the EU post-Brexit including ‘Seek Europe-wide Visa-free work permit for Touring professionals and Artists‘ which will be debated in Parliament after surpassing 100,000 signatures, and the Musicians’ Union’s ‘Musicians’ Passport’ campaign.

IQ will be updating readers as further details of the new Brexit deal are clarified…

 


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Dutch events sector suffers €2bn loss of revenue

The Dutch events sector has suffered an estimated 90% loss of revenue equating to €2 billion in 2020, according to Respons’ Festival Monitor, the annual survey of the Dutch festival market.

Based on festival figures from 2019 and the forecasted growth of the sector, it was expected that 1,200 art and culture festivals would take place in 2020, generating 27.4 million visits.

However, this year’s survey found that in 2020, just 190 festivals (17% of the forecast for 2020) took place – half of which, before the pandemic in mid-March – generating only 1.4 million visits (5% of the forecast for 2020).

Respons says the number of festivals that took place in 2020 is the same as in 1985.

The figures for 2020 are in stark contrast to the record figures for 2019 which showed that spending by visitors (including tickets, food & drinks) amounted to €961 m in 2019, while the gross revenue rose to a record high of €300 m in 2019 and almost 10 million tickets sold.

Respons says the number of festivals that took place in 2020 is the same as in 1985

The Netherlands’ summer festival season was wiped out when, in April, the Dutch government announced a ban on all large-scale events, causing the cancellations of Mojo’s Lowlands, Down the Rabbit Hole, Pinkpop, North Sea Jazz and Woo Hah!, as well as Friendly Fire’s Kept Secret and ID&T’s Defqon.1, Awakenings, Mysteryland and Amsterdam Open Air.

It was revealed in August, that ID&T was to receive an advance insurance payout of €1.3 million to compensate for lost income due to the corona crisis and the cancellation of its festivals.

The Dutch government recently extended its support for the event industry, adding another €3.7 bn euros to its financial aid for businesses that have been affected by the country’s prolonged partial lockdown. This follows the previous €33.7 bn in support the government pledged to protect businesses and jobs amid the coronavirus pandemic.

While the events industry will remain relatively quiet over the festive period, the Dutch government recently gave the green light for a number of test shows in January.

The pilot shows, organised under the umbrella of ‘Back to Live’, will include a concert and a dance event at Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam and two open-air festivals at the Lowlands and Defqon Biddinghuizen sites, (to be organised by Mojo and ID&T) among other events.

 


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Unsung Heroes 2020: #feedourcrew

Unsung Heroes 2020, published in IQ 95 this month, is a tribute to some of the organisations and individuals who have gone above and beyond to help others during a year unlike any other – be that through their efforts to protect the industry, or helping those who were in desperate need.

We turned to the readership and asked you to nominate worthy causes and personalities for consideration as the inaugural members of our Unsung Heroes awards. Now, IQ can reveal the dozen most voted Unsung Heroes of 2020, starting with South Africa’s #feedourcrew.


Established just after lockdown in April 2020, #feedourcrew’s objective is to provide temporary support, through food vouchers, to technical and casual event crew personnel across South Africa. Founding members Tamsyn Strydom (MGG Productions), Kagiso Moima Wa Masimini (Black Motion Productions), Marcia Alves (We Are Boundless) and Daria Higgins (True North Events) wanted to assist the members of their teams who contribute tirelessly towards creating memorable events, but as freelance technical staff were unable to access any form of relief funds or grants.

Almost all 526 freelancers assisted to date are the sole breadwinners in their families and rely heavily on a normally robust industry for their livelihoods. That, however, changed when the strict lockdown rules were introduced in South Africa, leaving hundreds of crew members without any income.

#feedourcrew has raised ZAR344,564 (€18,684) and has paid out ZAR333,500 (€18,084), with 122 applicants still on the waiting list

To date, #feedourcrew has raised ZAR344,564 (€18,684) and has paid out ZAR333,500 (€18,084), with 122 applicants still on the waiting list for help. As the live industry begins to get back to business in SA, #feedourcrew has partnered with organisations such as the Kagiso Education Fund, which provides on-the-job stagehand training for students aged 18-30 through various industry partners. It also develops community arts space for young people, women, and people living with disabilities.

In August, #feedourcrew also gave birth to #flightcasemovement in an effort to unite members from the live events and technical production sectors. On behalf of those working in the business, #flightcasemovement hand-delivered a memorandum of demands to South Africa’s Department of Sports, Arts & Culture (DSAC) in response to the devastating effect that the government’s prohibition on gatherings has had on the live events industry.

Founded by Kagiso Moima Wa Masimini, Tamsyn Strydom, Aubrey Ndaba (Tech Forum), Sizwe Mokoena (Ugqozi Entertainment), and freelance production manager Lefa Tsiane, #flightcasemovement is providing the live events production community with a vehicle to lobby politicians and give a voice to the sector.

“It is not unusual for crews to work up to 36 hours in a row with no rest… we need to change that”

Among its early activities, the organisation was able to participate in and present the findings of a survey conducted by media group Sun Circle, examining the impact Covid-19 has had on the business and the people who depend upon it.

As a result, #flightcasemovement’s memorandum of demands to the government includes:

On the final point, #flightcasemovement is hoping DSAC will help it draw up guidelines for a sustainable plan to best support the industry and to start the process of regulation within the production business. “While we are one of the strictest industries worldwide in terms of health and safety, there is no regulation on the hours worked in South Africa and it is not unusual for crews to work up to 36 hours in a row with no rest,” states Lefa Tsiane. “We need to change that.”

 


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Robert Grima: ‘We need the whole ecosystem to succeed’

As the worst year in the history of the live music business finally nears its end, IQ caught up with several industry leaders ahead of the new year, asking for their predictions for 2021, as well as the lessons they can take forward from 2020.

Here, Robert Grima, president of Live Nation Spain, speaks about the logistics of putting on 18 shows this summer while the pandemic raged, and why the industry must no longer take the live experience for granted when concerts return…


IQ: This year has been difficult, to put it mildly, but have there been any positive aspects you are taking forward from this annus horribilis?
RG: Yes, 2020 has also been a year of reflection and, especially, of cooperation in the live music sector. The sector has come together to give visibility to live music events as part of the culture and lives of many people, showing our professionalism and effectiveness and the efforts of promoters to give continuity to the sector, despite the circumstances.

How has news of the coronavirus vaccine news changed the conversations you are having with artists, management, promoters, festivals, etc.?
We as a global company are totally focused to getting back to the shows we all know and love, and there is a great focus on many ideas and protocols that will help us improve the service to fans and deliver a quick return.

Livestreamed shows have shown that fans will pay to see their favourite acts remotely. How do you imagine this technology might develop when regular touring activity resumes?
The impact of livestreamed shows in Spain has been similar to in other countries. Livestreaming has proved to be a good complement to live, and additionally can be a marketing add for our artists through these times.

It is a model that, in the future, can coexist with the live show as an additional offer for the fan in some cases, but the experience of a live show is unique and irreplaceable.

“Once we are all able to come back there is going to be incredible pent-up demand waiting on the other side”

What advice or encouragement can you give to those who were hoping to break through in 2020, knowing that the market is going to be overcrowded with onsales when the industry gets back to work?
Live is one of the best ways for artists to grow their engagement with fans, and once we are all able to come back there is going to be incredible pent-up demand waiting on the other side.

I would encourage them to focus on playing live, not stopping, even if it means performing with reduced capacity for longer, because it has been proven that fans respond and artists enjoy it. And it’s the best way for artist to maintain and grow their engagement with fans.

Despite the high numbers of Covid-19 cases in Spain, you were still able to host some Crew Nation events. How did you achieve this, and what challenges did you have to overcome?
Yes, we hosted 18 Crew Nation Presents shows in La Riviera over the summer with the aim of supporting and giving visibility to crews that work in live events. The shows were a great success. Artists love playing live, and the fans got to go to shows in a summer when, in many places, live music was on pause. Additionally, and really importantly, the crew were supported by the events at a really hard time, looking after the whole ecosystem of live.

This was all made possible because we collaborated closely with the local authorities and adapted protocols to the new regulations, which have been effective and used throughout the series.

As Spain/Portugal are often either the first or last dates of European tours, do you think the Spanish market’s return to business will be different to other territories around the world?
No, it does not have to be different. Fans continue to await concerts with the same enthusiasm, and Spain will continue to be an attractive country for artists. I actually believe that there will be a boost in the live sector once we get back.

“I hope that from next year we all can be in the moment and grateful for every show we get to be a part of”

The way various rival firms have cooperated and collaborated for the common good during the pandemic has been impressive. What hopes do you have that closer industry bonds can continue post-Covid-19?
My hope is that once and for all we can cooperate together in all moments, not only in difficult ones. What we have really seen is that the live industry is an ecosystem and we need all of it to succeed.

What do you think the biggest challenges are going to be for Live 2.0, and how do you think industry leaders can best guide the business as things reopen?
We have spent the summer working hard with local authorities to guarantee artists, fans and crews that the concerts are taking place in a safe environment. This is what promoters and artists across the world will be focusing on, and what we have proven so far to be possible. The parameters may continue to change but we will, as always, work with local authorities and health advisers to get as many artists in front of their fans as possible.

With the Crew Nation Presents shows we demonstrated that not only promoters are taking the new restrictions seriously, but that the fans are, too. I think that’s the best sign of things to come once we can fully reopen.

Finally, are there any bad habits the industry had that you are hoping might disappear when normality returns?
It’s easy to get swept up in the day to day, and I hope that from next year we all can be in the moment and grateful for every show we get to be a part of. Let’s not ever take live music for granted.

 


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SLEN: Save Our Stages Act fails many in live biz

Further relief beyond Save Our Stages, the relief bill passed by the US Congress earlier this week, must be provided in 2021 to American live events workers, many of whom will not benefit from the bill’s provisions, the Save Live Events Now (SLEN) coalition has warned.

SLENformed in October by companies including Live Nation, AEG Presents, WME, CAA, UTA, Paradigm Talent Agency, Feld Entertainment, Oak View Group and ASM Global – says that while the “passage of the Consolidation Appropriations Act of 2021”, which incorporates the Save Our Stages bill, “was an important step forward for many of those across the nation impacted by the coronavirus pandemic”, more must be done to help those who have fallen through the cracks.

“For many in the live events industry this is a [sticking plaster] on a large cut. It helps to cover a portion of the cut, but doesn’t stop the bleeding,” comments SLEN spokesperson Jeanne Moran. “The live events industry was the first to stop operations due to the pandemic and will likely be one of the last to restart, and the Save Live Events Now coalition will continue to shine a light on the vast and diverse ecosystem of workers and industries impacted by the shutdown of the live events industry due to Covid-19 in the year ahead.”

According to SLEN, since March 77% of all US live entertainment professionals have lost 100% of their income, while staff and crew have been reduced by almost 80% and 62% of American artists are unemployed.

“This helps to cover a portion of the cut, but doesn’t stop the bleeding”

“The Save Our Stages Act will provide relief to the industry, but it leaves behind key segments of the industry, which is why to truly save the live events industry – and more specifically the workers who power it – more must be done,” explains the organisation in a statement. “For example, the deal restores the federal pandemic unemployment compensation at $300 per week for 11 weeks, and certain self-employed and gig workers could get an extra $100 per week. While this is less than the $600 a week over a 16-week period desired by SLEN, this deal improves upon the status quo.

“Overall, this is a step in the right direction, but more work needs to be done – enhanced relief and additional extensions will be urgently needed early next year, as most live events workers will continue to be out of work past mid-March when these provisions expire.”

Concludes Moran: “We look forward to working with those on both sides of the aisle in the new Congress, as well as the new administration to ensure that meaningful action is taken to aid the millions of people whose livelihoods remain severely impacted by the shutdown of live events.”

New US president Joe Biden takes office on 20 January 2021.

 


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#WeAreLive: Umbrella group petitions EU for help

#WeAreLive, a coalition of event industry associations in more than a dozen northern European countries, has lodged a petition with the European Parliament to ask for “urgent measures” to save millions of jobs continent-wide.

The organisation – whose membership comprises industry associations in Poland, Germany, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Croatia, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Serbia and Russia – is demanding grants equivalent to 75% of companies’ fixed costs, along with the extension of existing loans, the suspension of existing EU aid framework (whose limitations, #WeAreLive says, prevent “real help for hard-hit” companies) and for EU officials to enter into real “rescue dialogue” with the events sector.

With members including the International Live Events Association Europe (Germany), Polish Event Industry Association, Sponsorship and Event Association (Norway) and Event Industry Association of Lithuania, #WeAreLive represents over 20,000 companies with more than 500,000 employees and 200,000 apprentices.

In total, the organisation says, the events sector is the 13th largest industry in Europe, generating €172.6 billion in direct GDP and supporting 2.9 million jobs.

“Governments should be looking for drivers like events to grow the economy”

In the petition, the full text of which can be read here, the associations say the live events sector must “be recognised by national and regional governments for its value now, and not in hindsight, after we are beyond saving from the outcome of Covid-19”.

“At times like this, when the recovery is so critical to our organisations, our society and our economy overall, the power of events is something that can be central in reaching this goal,” it continues. “Governments should be looking for drivers like this that grow the economy.”

The petition further urges that events is treated as an industry in its own right, rather than bundled in with culture, tourism or foreign affairs. “This [current] disunity condemns us to the lack of common solutions, help and strategies for the development of the industry at an European level,” it reads.

Dolors Montserrat, chair of the EU’s committee, has already confirmed the #WeAreLive petition is “admissible” and will be considered by the European Commission on a preliminary basis. However, it needs 200,000 signatures by EU citizens to ensure it is accepted by and debated in the European Parliament.

To sign the petition now, click here.

 


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City of Vilnius releases ‘socially distanced’ Xmas LP

In partnership with the city of Vilnius, a group of Lithuanian electronic music producers have released Re-Xmas, a ‘socially distanced’ Christmas album commemorating the “extraordinary” 2020 festive season.

As a video on the Re-Xmas project website explains, the album features reworkings of traditional Christmas songs, including ‘Jingle Bells’, ‘Silent Night and ‘O Christmas Tree’ (‘O Tannenbaum‘), by top local talent.

The ‘social distancing’ element sees the composers adding two equal intervals of pause – symbolising two metres’ distance – after each note from the song’s main melody.

Contributors include dark-techno DJ Alex Krell, ambient producer Fume and experimental electronic duo Lakeside Culture, with the album’s release supported by Lithuanian DJ collection Antidote Community.

The project also incorporates an audiovisual installation near Kablys, the Vilnius electronic music mecca, while the album will be played as album of the week on the national radio station LRT Opus.

Listen to the full Re-Xmas album on SoundCloud here.


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US Congress passes $15bn Save Our Stages aid

The US Congress has passed the Save Our Stages bill, which will provide around US$15 billion in relief to independent music venues, as part of a wider $900bn Covid-19 stimulus package.

The passage of the bill yesterday (Sunday 20 December) followed a two-hour hearing earlier in the week, during which representatives of the grassroots venues sector made a “passionate and compelling case for federal aid before the US Senate”, according to Variety.

Passage of Save Our Stages by Congress is the final stage before it goes to president Donald Trump, whose signature will enshrine the bill in law. Trump supports the bill, according to White House spokesman Ben Williamson.

“I am especially pleased that this bill will provide money for bars and restaurants, and $15 billion in SBA [Small Business Administration] grants for theatre operators and small venue owners through the Save Our Stages act,” says New York senator Chuck Schumer, a co-sponsor of the bill.

“We’re thrilled that Congress has heard the call of shuttered independent venues across the country”

“These venues are so important to my state and many states across the country; they are the lifeblood of our communities. They were first to close, and will be the last to open. The bill gives them a fighting chance.”

“We’re thrilled that Congress has heard the call of shuttered independent venues across the country and provided us a crucial lifeline by including the Save Our Stages Act in the Covid-19 relief bill,” adds Dayna Frank, owner and CEO of Minneapolis’s First Avenue (1,550-cap.) and board president of the National Independent Venue Association.

“We’re also incredibly grateful that this bill provides pandemic unemployment assistance, which will help the millions of people who lost their jobs through no fault of their own during this economic crisis. We urge swift passage of this legislation, which will assist those in the greatest need and ensure the music lives on for generations to come.”

In addition to its Save Our Stages component, the wider Covid-19 relief act includes $600 in direct payments to individuals, and $300-a-week boost to unemployment benefits, as well as provisions for food assistance, vaccine distribution, transit and healthcare, Reuters reports.

 


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All Things Live acquires comedy agency ROA

Leading Nordic live entertainment company All Things Live has acquired ROA, a Swedish booking agency and management company for comedians, speakers, actors, screenwriters and authors.

Stockholm-based ROA becomes part of All Things Live’s comedy business, which also includes Norway’s Stand Up Norge and Sweden’s Blixten & Co. All ROA employees will remain in their jobs following the acquisition, terms of which were not disclosed.

“I am very pleased that we finally become part of All Things Live,” says Sabina Donoukará, the agency’s CEO. “It is a step in the right direction for ROA as a company, for our clients and our staff. Having the opportunity to realise our full potential feels good.

“This is the ultimate proof of the fantastic job our staff and us have done over the years. I am excited and looking forward to what is to come.”

“We are pleased and proud to welcome ROA and their many gifted comedians to the All Things Live family”

“We have owned this company for 13 years, and it is now time for us to step down as coowners and just be comedians,” says Johan Glans, a comedian who co-founded ROA in 2007 alongside David Batra, Thomas Järvheden, Özz Nûjen, Hasse Brontén and Måns Möller. “We are handing over the reins to people who can really make ROA reach its full potential. And the close collaboration with our Nordic neighbours will, of course, be extra exciting.”

Adds Henrik Berndtson of All Things Live Sweden: “We are pleased and proud to welcome ROA and their many gifted comedians to the All Things Live family. We are looking forward to strengthening our common platform in Sweden and exchanging talent, productions and experience across the other Nordic countries.”

Founded in 2018, All Things Live – backed by private-equity firm Waterland – also includes ICO Concerts and ICO Management and Touring (Denmark), Friction and Atomic Soul Booking (Norway), Maloney Concerts, Monkfish and Big Slap festival (Sweden) and Weekend Festival (Finland).

 


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Last chance for GEI13 launch-price tickets

Launch-price tickets for the Green Events and Innovations Conference 2021 (GEI13) will be available until 23:50 GMT today, Friday 18 December, unless passes sell out beforehand.

GEI, the annual conference on sustainability in events, will take place in a virtual format on 2 March 2021 with newly announced guest speakers including Hadi Ahmadzedah (ECODISCO), Yaw Owusu (The Playmaker Group), Jenny Hamada (BST Hyde Park/AEG Presents) and Fay Milton (Savages/Music Declares Emergency).

The 13th edition is presented by A Greener Festival (AGF) in partnership with the International Live Music Conference (ILMC), which is also taking place virtually from 3 to 5 March.

Noting that the number 13 is associated with upheaval and destruction – and with a nod to the pandemic – organisers say GEI13 will honour the theme of transition and transformation.

The conference will reflect on how the industry can be ‘both receptive and active to co-create a better future’

The conference will reflect on how the industry can be ‘both receptive and active to co-create a better future,’ taking in topics including transport; food systems; equality and inclusivity; health and wellbeing; power systems; design; and materials usage for circularity and more.

Previously announced speakers include Dale Vince, (Ecotricity, UK); David Ojay (Naam Festival, KE); Tom Schroeder, Paradigm Agency (UK); Gina Perier, Lapee (DK); Gordon Masson, IQ Magazine/ILMC (UK) and Claire O’Neill, AGF (UK).

Launch-price GEI tickets are on sale via Ticketsellers now.

Rates are also changing for the 14th ILMC Production Meeting (IPM), which will also take place in a virtual format on 2 March 2021, returning to its traditional slot the day before ILMC.

Discounted autumn-rate tickets for IPM are only available until 18:00 GMT today, after which the winter rate kicks in at £50 (plus 3% service fee). Book your pass here.

 


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