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Phil Rodriguez: Reopening a “great opportunity” for new acts

Having survived the most difficult year in live music history, the optimistic Move Concerts CEO offers his predictions for the year ahead

By IQ on 17 Dec 2020

Phil Rodriguez, Move Concerts

Phil Rodriguez

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, Phil Rodriguez of Move Concerts, South America’s biggest independent promoter, speaks about the challenges that lie ahead, including the opportunities for emerging and local artists, and why cooperation will be important than ever on live music’s road to recovery…

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?
PR: Aside from spending more time with family… business-wise, it was a power kick in the ass that made us all look at costs, reinvent ourselves, etc. We got into the streaming business with LivePass Play and expanded our management roster.

When the “curtain opens” again, we will have more tools in our toolbox and run leaner and meaner.

How has coronavirus vaccine news changed the conversations you are having with colleagues, agents, artists, venues, etc.?
Everyone I have spoken with is more positive. The vaccine was the thing everyone was waiting for. Finally hope, and a better idea of timelines.

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 shut down of live events made the streaming business grow and become a new asset in our business. It will evolve and find its niche once live events come back – marketing, special launches, tour end (or start), streams, etc.

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?
The upside for many artists is that they had over a year off the road to write, record, write, record. When they go out, in many cases, it will not be with just one or two singles out. It will be three-plus deep. That will help.

But be careful with dates/routings and be clever with what extra value your show offers to the punters. Is it priced right? Is the show a must-see? There will be a tsunami of tours!

“Moving forward with new routings and tours, we better be speaking with each other!”

Do you think Latin America’s return to business will be a different experience from that elsewhere?
The lockdowns in most of LatAm were very strict. Folks are inching to go out.

LatAm markets will open sooner – but with local artists. In fact, Brazil started having socially distanced concerts in Sao Paulo this month (50% of capacity up to a max of 2,000 with social distancing, seated). Rio, as of 1 November, can have up to 50% of capacity seated and socially distance, Buenos Aires has theatres opened with 30% capacity and socially distanced. Chile starts with socially distanced shows end of the month, and Uruguay never locked down and has live events at 30% of capacity. Only Peru, Colombia, Puerto Rico and Central America are still without live events.

The front end of the ‘opening’ of concerts around the world will be with local artists. A great opportunity for them to take advantage of and be front and centre.

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?
It has always been the smart thing to do. I have always felt that there is a sense of community in our business – no matter how warped we may seem at times!

We just went through a storm like never before. No one in our business was immune. No one will forget this black swan and, also, who stood solid in the storm.

Plus, moving forward with new routings, tours, etc., we better be speaking with each other!

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?
Everyone will come back wanting to make up for the time lost and costs incurred. This should not cloud our decisions.

Finally, are there any bad habits the industry had that you are hoping might disappear when normality returns?
Yes, high ticket prices! We better look at ticket prices carefully.

There are more reasons than ever before: many people lost their jobs or businesses, others burned through their cash reserves, many currencies devalued during the pandemic, and there will be a lot of options for the consumer – from tours, to sports, to travel, etc. All the things most folks gave up for over a year.


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