Ticketmaster France partners with Carrefour Spectacles
Ticketmaster France (TM) has become the official ticketing partner of Carrefour Spectacles, one of the most established ticketing retailers in the French market.
Under the partnership, TM France will facilitate all of Carrefour Spectacles’ ticketing activities, including online sales, and those at all 600+ ticket offices located in Carrefour Group hypermarkets and supermarkets around France.
Carrefour Spectacles customers will now have access to Ticketmaster’s services and products including an extended catalogue of events as well as new, immersive technologies such as interactive seating map technology.
“We’re thrilled to team up with such a major player in the French entertainment industry. Together, we will be able to connect even more French fans to the events they love,” says François Thominet, MD of Ticketmaster France.
“Simply put, we think our customers will have a better experience buying tickets with Ticketmaster”
“As we continue to invest and innovate our technology, we look forward to providing Carrefour Spectacles’ customers with the best ticketing experience as they return to live.”
Jean-Baptiste Prévoteau, director of merchant services for Carrefour, adds: “As we get ready to reopen our industry, we are so pleased to embark on this new partnership.
“Simply put, we think our customers will have a better experience buying tickets with Ticketmaster. Their ability to offer an enriched customer experience alongside unmatched ticketing technology led us to make this change, and we look forward to a very long and prosperous relationship.”
Carrefour’s ticketing services were previously provided by France Billet, now partially owned by Ticketmaster rival CTS Eventim.
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Guidelines published for safe reopening in Europe
The European Commission has published new guidelines to enable the safe restart of cultural and creative activities across the EU.
The guidelines, presented yesterday (29 June) by the EC’s vice-president for ‘promoting our European way of life’, Margaritis Schinas, and the commissioner for innovation, research, culture, education and youth, Mariya Gabriel, aim to “provide a coordinated approach in line with the specific national, regional and local conditions” in individual member states as the epidemiological situation increases across the European Union, says the EC.
“Culture helped people cope with the impacts of lockdowns and social distancing. It is now our turn to accompany the sectors in their path to reopening,” says Schinas (pictured). “We need coordinated and tailor-made efforts across the EU to allow the culture world to safely and gradually resume its activities and be more prepared for future crises.
“The cultural and creative sectors are strong European assets and are important for Europe’s sustainable recovery, increased resilience of European society and, more generally, our European way of life.”
“We need coordinated and tailor-made efforts across the EU to allow the culture world to safely and gradually resume its activities”
The EU guidelines, developed by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control in partnership with the EU Health Security Committee, recommend the following:
- The lifting of all restrictions should be strategic and gradual, with a restricted number of participants at the beginning to assess the epidemiological situation
- Cultural establishments should have a preparedness plan detailing protocols of actions when Covid-19 cases are detected
- Targeted information and/or ad-hoc training should be made available for all staff in cultural establishments to minimise risks of infection
- Vaccination of persons working in cultural settings should be promoted to ensure their and the public’s protection
- Participants can be asked proof of negative Covid-19 test and/or vaccination and/or Covid-19 diagnosis in order to be admitted to the venue. Depending on the local circulation of variants, this requirement can be extended to fully vaccinated individuals
- Establishments should ensure that the contact details of the audiences are available in case they are needed for contact tracing
- The establishment should put in place targeted protective measures: maintaining social distancing whenever possible, clean and accessible hand-washing facilities, appropriate ventilation and frequent cleaning of surfaces. The use of face masks by attendees is an important complementary measure
- A range of actions to ensure the sustainable recovery of the entire sector should accompany the reopening of cultural venues. Actions at EU level complement those taken by Member States and by the sectors
EU member states, says the commission, are now invited to “take full advantage” of the bloc’s Recovery and Resilience Facility to invest in their national cultural sectors as the pandemic nears its end. Through Creative Europe (€2.5bn) and Horizon Europe (€2bn) nearly €4.5 billion is being made available for “cultural, creative and inclusive projects” from 2021 to 2027.
“The aim of these guidelines is to facilitate coordination of member states’ measures at EU level”
“The cultural and creative industries and sectors have paid a heavy toll since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak. At the same time, the crisis highlighted their importance for our society and economy,” comments Gabriel. “With the increased vaccine uptake, gradual lifting of restrictions, including in the field of culture, is taking place. The aim of these guidelines is to facilitate coordination of member states’ measures at EU level.
“Simultaneously, a safe reopening of cultural settings should go hand in hand with a range of actions to ensure the sustainable recovery and resilience of the entire sector.”
Welcoming the guidelines, Pearle* (Performing Arts Employers Associations League Europe) says attention to also be paid to the various successful test events in EU countries, which have proven that reopening at full capacity is possible with measures such as mass testing.
The Brussels-based federation also approves of the commissioners’ “presentation of funding lines”, underlining “that appropriate support packages are needed to revive the sector and recover from more than a year and a half of lost income,” says a Pearle* spokesperson. “The signal of the [European Commission] to put in place dedicated European funds need to be complemented with member state support, also at regional and local level,” they emphasise.
This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.
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90%-vaccinated Iceland lifts all restrictions
The government of Iceland has abolished all temporary regulations relating to the coronavirus, including restrictions on mass gatherings and the requirement to wear masks and socially distance, as the pandemic effectively comes to an end in the Scandinavian country.
In contrast to the likes of Denmark and Sweden, which are crawling towards a return to normal activity, Icelanders no longer have any restrictions on their freedom as of midnight on Friday 25/Saturday 26 June. Some 87% of adults in the country, which has a tiny population of less than 400,000, have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, while 60% are fully vaccinated (having received both jabs).
With all adults now having been offered the vaccine, “government plans for the vaccination programme and the lifting of restrictions on gatherings have therefore been completed”, according to the Icelandic government.
“We are regaining the kind of society which we feel normal living in, and we have longed for ever since [emergency legislation] was activated because of the pandemic more than a year ago, on 16 March 2020,” says health minister Svandís Svavarsdóttir, who adds that decision to lift all restrictions is in line with recommendations of Iceland’s chief epidemiologist.
At press time, Iceland had only 23 active cases of Covid-19, with just one person in a serious or critical condition.
“We are confident our contact-tracing capabilities will prove sufficient to handle any new outbreaks”
Víðir Reynisson, Iceland’s head of civil protection, says that while “small clusters of infection may [re]appear in future], he is “confident that our contact-tracing capabilities, with the public’s willingness to abide by both quarantine and isolation requirements, will prove sufficient to handle any new outbreaks.”
As of Friday, there were 12 people in isolation due to testing positive for Covid-19. Currently, the dominant domestic strain of the disease, which has just killed just one person this year, is the Alpha (‘Kent’/‘British’) variant.
“The contact tracing and quarantine efforts here in Iceland seem to have contained its transmission to a similar level as the original variant, with slightly more than 5% of quarantined individuals turning out to have been infected, regardless of which sub-type of the virus we have been dealing with,” comments chief epidemiologist Thorolfur Gudnason.
From 1 July, new rules on border screening come into force, exempting travellers from testing if they can produce a certificate of full vaccination.
This means it’s full steam ahead for Iceland’s remaining festivals, even those which welcome a large number of international visitors, such as Iceland Airwaves. (Iceland’s other main international festival, Secret Solstice, has already postponed to 2022.)
From 1 July travellers are exempt from border testing if they can produce certificate of full vaccination
Airwaves, taking place 3–6 November, will feature performances by the likes of Arlo Parks, Metronomy, Black Pumas, Sad Night Dynamite, Bartees Strange, Sin Fang, Vök, Daughters of Reykjavik and Mammút, marking a welcome return to a physical festival after last year’s Live from Reykjavik livestreaming event.
The popular festival has also announced a new partnership with Japanese ticketing technology firm Zaiko that sees a digital festival offering, Iceland Airwaves Japan, launch with 15 on-demand live performances available to fans in Japan.
Iceland Airwaves Japan will stream content throughout the year, culminating in giving fans the opportunity to go to the festival in person or online. After the event, they can relive their favourite moments through video content, access exclusive after-parties and check out performances they missed.
Zaiko’s founder and CEO, Malek Nasser, says: “As someone who has enjoyed music festivals for over ten years, not to mention worked for many of Japan’s best festivals, I am excited to come together with Iceland Airwaves to bring the festival format into the digital event world. I believe this collaboration will become a model for the entire industry on how festivals can connect with fans year-round.”
This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.
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Sweden’s capacity limits: How low can they go?
While markets across Europe charge towards a full reopening, the Swedish live industry is still crawling to the finish line thanks to its government’s ever-stringent capacity limits.
The Scandinavian nation yesterday (28 June) announced that it will move to the second stage of its reopening roadmap on 1 July, permitting indoor standing concerts with a grand total of 50 people.
As of tomorrow, seated indoor concerts will be allowed to take place with 300 people, standing outdoor concerts with 600, and seated outdoor concerts with 3,000.
The government presented the five-step plan for removing Covid restrictions on 27 May, which commenced on 1 June.
Capacity limits for public gatherings, public events and private gatherings aren’t due to be removed until September
In the first stage of Sweden’s roadmap, the government imposed a capacity limit of just eight people for indoor standing shows – one of the lowest in Europe at that time.
Capacity limits for public gatherings, public events and private gatherings in Sweden aren’t due to be removed until step four, which is due to be initiated in September.
The removal of restrictions comes too late for Swedish festivals, the majority of which have already been cancelled.
Major events such as Way Out West (12–14 August), Sweden Rock (9–12 June), Lollapalooza Stockholm (2–5 July) and Statement Festival (3–4 September) were called off earlier this year.
$1bn artists line up global tours as confidence builds
Some of the world’s biggest artists, collectively worth more than US$1 billion in ticket revenue between 2018 and 2020, will hit the road again in 2021 and ’22, as confidence builds for a return to international touring over the next 12 months.
Sir Elton John, Celine Dion, Metallica, Michael Bublé, Guns N’ Roses, Bruce Springsteen and Eagles – all of whom ranked among the highest-grossing tours of 2018, 2019 and 2020, grossing more than $1bn between them – have in recent weeks revealed plans for new or rescheduled global tours, many of them starting as soon as this summer.
Sir Elton has extended his disrupted final tour, Farewell Yellow Brick Road, with a bumper 30-date, six-month stadium run across across mainland Europe, the UK and the United States.
Here they are – my final tour dates ever in North America and Europe! This has been an incredible tour so far and I'll be going out in the biggest possible way. I can't wait to see you all on the road one last time 🚀🚀🚀
— Elton John (@eltonofficial) June 23, 2021
“Hello, all you wonderful fans out there. I’m coming to you today with an announcement I’ve been working towards for, well, all my life: the shows that I announce today will be my final tour dates ever in North America and Europe,” he says in a statement.
“I’m going to go out in the biggest possible way, performing at my very best, with the most spectacular production I’ve ever had, playing in places that have meant so much to me throughout my career.
“Whether it’s next summer in Frankfurt or at the legendary Dodger Stadium for the grand finale in the United States, I can’t wait to see you all on the road one last time. This has been an incredible tour so far, full of the most amazing highs, and I look forward to making more wonderful memories with you at these final shows.”
The Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour, Sir Elton’s farewell tour, was brought to a halt by the coronavirus pandemic last March, with the last show on 7 March 2020 at Bankwest Stadium in Parramatta, Australia. The tour resumes on 1 September at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin and will conclude in Australasia in 2023.
The tour, produced and promoted by AEG Presents, grossed $212 million in 2019 and $71.2m in 2020.
“I’m going to go out in the biggest possible way, performing at my very best”
Springsteen, who grossed an incredible $88.3m from his Springsteen on Broadway shows, which had an average ticket price of $509, in 2018, also has live plans for 2022.
As well as reviving Springsteen on Broadway, Springsteen confirmed to E Street Radio on SiriusXM he is planning a full tour with his E Street Band in 2022. “I knew we were going to tour with the band next year,” he said, “[but] I had a friend who got so enthusiastic about it [Springsteen on Broadway] that he talked me into it sitting on my couch one night. The next day I said, ‘OK, we’ll do some shows.’ It really came around kind of casually.”
Eagles, meanwhile recently added another six dates to their long-delayed Hotel California tour, which kicks off at Madison Square Garden in New York in August.
While the band has only announced the rescheduled US dates so far (the first leg ends at Chase Center in San Francisco on 23 October 2021), pre-pandemic the Live Nation-promoted tour included included dates in London (Wembley Stadium) and Los Cabos, Mexico (Cabo en Vivo), so it is expected that additional European and Latin American shows are still to be announced.
Eagles grossed $166m from their 2018 North American tour.
“We have waited far too long to say these words: we’re getting back out there”
Under the banner The Return of the European Summer Vacation, the band will play headline shows at Denmark’s Copenhell, the Netherlands’ Pinkpop, Italy’s Firenze Rocks, the Czech Republic’s Prague Rocks, Belgium’s Rock Werchter, Spain’s Mad Cool and Portugal’s NOS Alive. .
“We have waited far too long to say these words: we’re getting back out there and are finally announcing our return to Europe in 2022,” say Metallica in a statement. “Needless to say, we cannot wait to see all of you once again as our European ’tallica Family will finally have a chance to reunite in June and July of next year.”
The festivals next year will be Metallica’s first European shows since their Worldwired global tour, which grossed a total of $179m in 2019.
Elsewhere, Bublé (who grossed $115.8m in 2019 and $24.8m in 2020) is resuming his An Evening With Michael Bublé tour in North America in August, while Dion’s (2020 gross: $71.2m) postponed Courage world tour will finally kick off the same month in Winnipeg.
Also resuming a postponed tour this summer are Guns’ N Roses, whose world stadium tour – newly rechristened We’re F’n’ Back! – will begin at Hersheypark Stadium in Hershey, Pennsylvania, on 31 July 2021. The tour will include Australasian dates later this year and a string of European stadium shows next summer.
Opening the tour will be the late Eddie Van Halen’s bassist, son Wolfgang, with his band Mammoth WVH.
10k people attend Poland’s biggest show since 2020
Last weekend, German DJ Boris Brejcha played the biggest concert Poland has seen since the outbreak of Covid at the beginning of 2020.
Ten thousand fans gathered in Poland’s largest and best-preserved fortress, in Modlin, located northwest of Warsaw, last Friday (25 June) to enjoy Brejcha’s set.
According to the promoters, Follow the Step, the enormous structure (pictured) was created by specialists especially for the event and was months in the making.
“This was the first production of this type in this part of Europe and thanks to the huge amount of technology, lights and the latest generation sound system, provided an amazing experience,” according to a press release.
Entry was restricted to doubly vaccinated residents, as per government guidelines, all of whom were required to show proof of vaccination.
“Finally after one and a half years we could put our plans into action and get back to organising events on the big scale,” Follow the Step’s Tamara Przystasz tells IQ.
“Not only was it quite a challenge organising it in such a way that will comply with all the new rules and restrictions, but it was also the first event that we could organise for vaccinated people only. However, it was amazing to see 10,000 people celebrating the comeback of music events.”
Maciej Korczak, owner of FTS, added: “The Boris Brejcha show was a huge step forward not only for our company but also for the whole event and music industry in our country. We like to pave the way here as we believe that nothing is impossible.”
“It quite a challenge organising it in such a way that will comply with all the new rules and restrictions”
“The show was just a warm-up for us before Fest Festival this summer which will take place on the 11-14 of August in Chorzów. But after what we managed to do with Boris show we are now sure that we are able to organise Fest Festival this summer for 40,000 people safely.”
Earlier this month, Follow the Step was given permission to hold multi-genre event Fest Festival without any capacity limits, provided that attendees have had their Covid-19 vaccinations.
During a press conference, the Polish minister of health confirmed the information that people vaccinated against Covid-19 do not count towards the established limits applicable during mass events.
The event is scheduled to happen 11–14 August in Chorzów and organisers have so far confirmed acts such as Kygo, James Bay, Rag’n’Bone Man and Alan Walker on the bill.
Alongside Poland, mega concerts with 10,000 people or more have recently returned to China, the US and Israel, while France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Austria and the UK have set a date this summer for the resumption of large, non-socially distanced shows.
Loud and Proud: IQ pride playlist out now
The Pride takeover edition of the IQ New Music playlist, featuring a selection of tracks curated by major international booking agencies, is now live.
Launched last year, the playlist complements IQ Magazine’s popular New Signings page, which keeps the live industry updated about which new, emerging and re-emerging artists are being signed by agents. Click here to read the inaugural Pride edition of IQ now.
The Loud and Proud (July) playlist features contributions from CAA, ICM, ITB, Paradigm Talent Agency, UTA, ATC, WME, Mother Artists, Primary Talent International, FMLY and Hometown Talent, each of which have picked several tracks apiece, showcasing some of their best queer touring artists.
Listen to the latest selection using the Spotify playlist below, or click here to catch up on the June playlist first.
Separated by agency, the full track list for the Loud and Proud (July) playlist is:
|CAA||Jodie Harsh||No Sleep|
|CAA||MUNA||Number One Fan|
|ICM||Tayla Parx||Dance Alone|
|ICM||Amorphous, Kehlani||Back Together|
|ITB||Annabel Allum||ordinary life|
|ITB||Brandi Carlile||The Joke|
|ITB||Cherym||Listening to My Head|
|ITB||Dream Nails||Kiss My Fist|
|ITB||Hot Milk||I Just Wanna Know What Happens When I'm Dead|
|Paradigm||Pabllo Vittar||Modo Turbo|
|Paradigm||Lynks||This Is the Hit|
|Paradigm||Ezra Furman||I Can Change|
|Paradigm||Perfume Genius||On the Floor|
|Paradigm||girl in red||Serotonin|
|UTA||Jake Wesley Rogers||Momentary|
|UTA||Madeline The Person||As a Child|
|UTA||Princess Nokia||It's Not My Fault|
|UTA||Sam Lee||The Tan Yard Side|
|ATC||Joe & The Shitboys||Drugs R'4 Kidz|
|ATC||Beverly Glenn-Copeland||Ever New|
|WME||Maya Jane Coles||Run to You|
|WME||Jazmin Bean||Hello Kitty|
|WME||Carla Prata||Certified Freak|
|WME||Kim Petras||Heart to Break|
|Mother Artists||Joy Oladokun||sorry isn't good enough|
|Primary||Rina Sawayama||Chosen Family|
|Primary||Rufus Wainwright||Going To A Town|
|Primary||Marika Hackman||Claude's Girl|
|FMLY||Eliza Legzdina||Eat Your Greenz|
|FMLY||Ralph TV||4 U|
|FMLY||Du Blonde||All The Way|
|FMLY||Lazy Day||Real Feel|
|Hometown Talent||Jerry Paper||Cholla|
|Hometown Talent||Angel Haze||Battle Cry|
Tramlines to go ahead in July with 40,000 fans
Sheffield’s Tramlines festival has announced it will go ahead at its full capacity of 40,000 next month after joining the third phase of the UK’s pilot events initiative, the Events Research Programme (ERP).
Tramlines, majority owned by Superstruct Entertainment, is the latest festival to join the next round of ERP pilots, following news late last week that Festival Republic’s Latitude will also be held as a clinically controlled ERP event. Tramlines 2021 will take place in Hillsborough Park in Sheffield from 23 to 25 July, with headliners the Streets, Royal Blood and Richard Ashcroft.
Tramlines’ participation in the programme means the festival can go ahead independently of national reopening dates (provisionally scheduled for 19 July) with fans not expected to socially distance or wear masks. All attendees will be required to have had two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine or submitted a negative lateral-flow test in the previous 48 hours.
The good news for Tramlines comes as Womad, the festival of world music held annually in the Wiltshire countryside, cancels its 2021 edition (which was scheduled for 22–25 July) citing ongoing uncertainty around the reopening date and the continued lack of government-backed event cancellation insurance for large events.
“We have not been asking for financial support; all we have wanted is certainty in the form of insurance against cancellation (that we’d be happy to pay for),” reads a statement from the festival, which which was to have featured performances by Anoushka Shankar, Nitin Sawhney, Greentea Peng and more. Referring to the ‘test event’ status granted to some events, organisers add: “The industry should see equal access to support and a much less opaque way of deciding who gets help.”
Elsewhere, as Womad cancelled Standon Calling in Hertfordshire confirmed it would “go for it” with its 15th-anniversary event, held over the same dates.“The government’s impressive vaccination record, the Event Research Programme data published at the end of last week (which showed there were no substantial outbreaks at phase one of the test events) and yesterday’s comments made by the new secretary of state for health and social Care that 19 June will be the ‘end of the line’ for Covid restrictions have encouraged us to go for it,” explains founder Alex Trenchard.
“It is very important to us that clear guidance is made available quickly to the entire event community”
Commenting on Tramlines being awarded ERP status, the festival’s operations director, Timm Cleasby, says: “We are absolutely delighted to be able to confirm that Tramlines 2021 is going ahead, having accepted the government’s invitation to join the Events Research Programme. This means we have a proven framework to follow, which at previous events has shown that festivals can be enjoyed at no more risk than other activities. Once inside, there will be no need for social distancing and no one will have to wear a mask if they don’t want to.
“We would like to express our solidarity with those festivals which have not been able to go ahead this year and those which are still seeking clarity. It is very important to us that clear guidance is made available quickly to the entire event community so that as many festivals as possible can go ahead with confidence this summer. Huge ticket sales across the sector show how keen fans are to come to our events and we want to help reassure them that we can welcome them back safely.”
UK culture minister Caroline Dinenage adds: “I know how desperately people want to get back to festivals, which is why they’re a hugely important part of our Events Research Programme.
“As we continue to work towards live events reopening fully on 19 July, this year’s Tramlines festival will provide more vital scientific evidence and allow us to trial Covid certification, building on what we’ve learnt from our successful Sefton Park [Pilot] and Download [Pilot] events.”
All ticketholders for the sold-out festival will be contacted by Tramlines’ ticketing partner, Gigantic, by email on 1 July with further details. Anyone who does not want to take part in the Tramlines pilot may roll over their ticket to Tramlines 2022 at no extra cost.
A Brave New Agency World: Meet the independents
Last year presented the agency world with a raft of unforeseen hardships, from the shutdown of the concert business to widespread job losses. Faced with the choice to adapt or founder, many agents rose to the challenge of the former, ushering in a new age of entrepreneurship. Some agents banded together in the wake of redundancy and others decided to strike out of their own accord, spurring a wave of brand-new independent agencies across the globe.
The UK gained the likes of Mother Artists, One Fiinix Live, Route One Booking, Marshall Live Agency, Runway Artists and Playbook Artists; the US welcomed Arrival Artists, Mint Talent Group, TBA Agency and Paladin Artists; and the Spanish agency landscape expanded with Rebel Beat Agency – all “born out of the most unlikely of scenarios,” as Arrival puts it.
For the founders of Arrival, the most unlikely scenario was being laid off from Paradigm Talent Agency in the US, along with hundreds of others. But co-founder Ali Hedrick says this turned out to be a blessing in disguise: “I’d hoped that one day I would be my own boss, but I’m not sure if I ever would have done it, so it’s kind of fortuitous that it happened and forced my hand, in a good way.”
Hedrick founded the agency in October 2020 with her former Paradigm colleagues Erik Selz, John Bongiorno, Karl Morse and Ethan Berlin, as well as Matt Yasecko, former COO of Chicago- based agency The Billions Corporation – where she previously worked for nearly 23 years. A
Arrival’s roster includes the likes of Everything Everything, Denai Moore, Sons of Kemet, Wild Pink, Andrew Bird, and LOMA, booking from offices in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Seattle.
After clocking in time at other agencies, both major and independent, Hedrick says that setting up her own shop has given her a new lease of life as an agent. “It’s made me love booking again and being an owner just feels right… all agents are entrepreneurs in their own way.”
Jon Ollier, an ex-CAA agent who used the pandemic as a jumping off point to launch his new UK-based agency One Fiinix Live, echoes that sentiment: “As agents, we’re problem solvers – we make things happen – but the whole live business was being asked to just sit things out [because of Covid restrictions], and I’m not very good at doing that.”
Ollier took the likes of Ed Sheeran, Anne-Marie, JC Stewart, Lauv and 2Cellos to One Fiinix, which he set up following his exit from CAA in October 2020, after nearly six years at the agency.
“No one single factor led me to this decision. If that was the case, I’d probably be foolish – but a major factor is the reaction to Covid-19. I’ve got young kids and I want to be able to look them in the eyes in years to come and tell them I did all I could to make sure we came out of this stronger.”
“I always really just hated the competitiveness among agents and agencies – or even agents within the same agency”
A sense of fortitude is something Amy Davidman, founder and partner at US-based TBA Agency, is striving for too, after the “emotional upheaval” of the pandemic and her own redundancy from Paradigm.
“I chose optimism. I choose to believe in my work and my clients and my partners, and our ability to start a company and be successful and do right by our clients,” she says.
Davidman formed TBA in September 2020, alongside Marshall Betts, Avery McTaggart, Ryan Craven, and Devin Landau, to whom she felt “a natural gravitation.”
The new agency has unveiled a clientele that includes The War on Drugs, Courtney Barnett, Chvrches, Tune-Yards, Cut Copy, Beirut, Guided by Voices, Jungle, Cuco, Purity Ring, José González, Tycho, Caribou, and Alvvays, operating from offices in Los Angeles and New York.
“As a group, the five of us really could cover all the bases of what we needed to launch the Sons of Kemet are one of the acts helping to launch Arrival Artists company. Typically, none of our contracts would have ended at the same time so it would have been very difficult for all of us as partners to come together at the same time and launch a company,” Davidman says, pointing out the fortunate timing.
Timing has been a crucial factor for Route One Booking founder Ben Ward, who says that his redundancy from United Talent Agency (UTA) in London, along with the pandemic, has provided the perfect storm in which to launch his UK-based agency.
“I’d previously thought about going independent and the redundancy just accelerated things. I thought I’m not going to sit around and feel sorry for myself… I’m going to see which clients I can retain. There was nothing I could do but throw myself wholeheartedly into it,” he says.
The veteran rock agent and Orange Goblin frontman launched his new booking agency in November 2020, alongside co-director Jules Chenoweth, during England’s second national lockdown.
“When you want your numbers to be good, you’re thinking in a different way. Going independent has lifted a layer of self-inflicted stress that I didn’t need”
“If touring and festivals were all going ahead at the time, we would have been scrambling around trying to get things sorted in time for the summer,” he says. “But because there was nothing happening, we could reschedule shows and look to 2022 and 2023 and have time to get everything in place and bring everything up to speed.”
The new agency’s roster includes the likes of influential punks Discharge, fuzz-rock legends Fu Manchu, Canadian thrash act Voivod and country artist-producer Shooter Jennings, alongside emerging acts such as King Creature, Video Nasties, Daxx aand Roxane, and Blind River. In addition to bookings, Route One offers clients transport options for touring, backline, and links to digital music distribution company RouteNote, of which Chenoweth is a board member. The company also owns The Yard, a music venue in Cornwall.
Like Hedrick and Davidman, Ward says that going independent has renewed his “enthusiasm and clarity” for the job, which had diminished during his time working at a major agency.
“You can get really down and lose focus on what it’s all about. I had periods of that at UTA,” he explains. “If you want to be really hands-on with your artist, then being a small fish in a big pond isn’t as good as being the big fish in a small pond. A lot of artists fail because they were swept under the carpet at bigger agencies, and I feel that a lot of agents probably felt the same way as well.
“You get your big hitters at every agency who deliver millions of pounds worth of commission each year, and younger agents won’t be regarded in the same light. That’s understandable because every company is in it to make money, but the money comes secondary – it’s the artists’ satisfaction and seeing bands’ careers develop that comes first for me. I think with bigger agencies that satisfaction is lost with the pressure to deliver and keep the big wheels rolling.”
Davidman, who spent three years at Paradigm, agrees that both artists and agents are at risk of “slipping through the cracks” in a major agency. “I saw the benefits at a larger full-service agency, and yet I’ve maybe felt a little bit less in control of those benefits,” she says. “I think major agencies can work for a lot of artists and managers, and then I think others really slip through the cracks. There should really just be space for everybody to be successful and have access to a lot of different opportunities.
“I always really just hated the competitiveness among agents and agencies – or even agents within the same agency. I have hoped that there could be a way that we could all just say, ‘Yeah, you offer that thing, and you offer that thing,’ but if a lot of people are going after the same artists it just naturally becomes competitive.”
Davidman says that being her own boss has alleviated that sense of pressure and competition and has helped reaffirm her unique offering as an agent.
“If you want to be really hands-on with your artist, then being a small fish in a big pond isn’t as good as being the big fish in a small pond”
“After we launched TBA, there were a couple artists that I tried to sign that I didn’t, and I was less broken up about it than I maybe would have been before. I was, like, ‘Yeah, if this doesn’t fit what you’re looking for then cool, go and find the thing that you’re looking for, because this is what I’m doing and I’m really in it.’ Now I don’t have to wake up every day wondering what my value is or how I fit into a larger picture or what my numbers are going to be.”
The pressure to hit targets and go up against peers are two things Hedrick says she won’t miss either. “You have to do projections a couple times a year at a major agency,” she explains. “You’re always looking at your numbers and when you’re not one of the top agents at the company, there is that pressure to be doing well. There’s in-built competition. When you want your numbers to be good, you’re thinking in a different way. Going independent has lifted a layer of self-inflicted stress that I didn’t need.”
One Fiinix Live’s Ollier believes the crisis of 2020 will have highlighted these issues and suggests that a paradigm shift may be on the horizon. “When the times were good, agents were being paid well and looked after by a company that seemed like it cared. But now, that whole concept has been shaken to the core. Agents need to feel a bit more like they’re in control.
“The business models of the big companies are not designed to withstand a pandemic. That’s not a criticism of anyone in particular – everyone has been far too complacent,” he says. The reality is that the major agencies have a huge amount of overheads, huge numbers of staff, and they’re not really able to move quickly in terms of making decisions and engineering their way out of it [the crisis]. There’s a unanimous sense that the shackles are off for these agents, and with a greater sense of autonomy each is revelling in their ability to abandon traditional ways of working and reinvent the wheel.
For Ward, breaking away from an established agency has empowered him to take a more “hands-on approach.” “We have that freedom to sign the acts we want to sign – whether it’s rock and metal bands or we want to get a bit more diverse with our roster. And you know there’s no fear anymore, just opportunities,” he says.
Davidman is also keen to ditch the traditional “strict rules” about who gets to work on which projects, and instead is adopting a more ad-hoc approach to TBA’s services, especially during the pandemic. “We have to be flexible about who we’re talking to and what opportunities we are putting in front of folks,” she says. “Whether that’s being open to an artist who doesn’t have a manager, or a manager who is independent but wants a team to help them with different things, or someone who’s asking for help in a realm outside of touring – those things are not what an agent would traditionally do, but we at least want to be open to these opportunities.”
Ollier has had a similar vision for his agency, revealing plans to be less “departmentalised” and more focused on the people within the company.
“We’re ripping up the old-school contracts and the old-school way of working”
“At the moment, all I’m saying to people is, ‘How can I be supportive? Come and talk to me and let’s generate some ideas,’” he says. “Ultimately, we would like to help some people out. I’ve been helped out over the course of my career, and we all need that – no one is an island. So, what I’m saying to people is: let’s get collaborative, let’s get creative, and let’s build our way out of this, however that manifests, in a mutually beneficial way.”
Hedrick, who has been an agent for over two decades, is looking forward to diversifying Arrival’s workforce and mentoring aspiring agents – something she’s never had the chance to do before. “[Arrival Artists] could easily just hire the people we’ve worked with before – that have done the job and that we know are fantastic – but we’re doing our due diligence to make sure that we include a more diverse set of people. We’ll probably even hire some people who haven’t done the job before that we need to train,” she says.
Hiring is also top of the agenda for Natasha Bent, who left Paradigm in December 2020 to set up UK-based artist management and live agency Mother Artists, along with her brother Mark Bent. “We’re ripping up the old-school contracts and the old-school way of working, and really trying to be diverse in not only who we work with but who comes on board in our team,” she says.
“It’s not only about clients but it’s about us and creating a company that – in my mind, wherever I’ve gone – I always thought should exist. A place where ourselves, our families, and those who decide to join in the future, are really well looked after,” she says.
Another thing that was important to Hedrick was the implementation of a profit share for all the employees at the company. “I want to make sure that we share the profits with all employees so they can buy a home someday and show that not everybody at the company needs to become an agent to make decent money. If the company has a banner year and profits, that will be spread throughout the entire company,” she says.
As for the sense of cut-throat competition that each agent has referred to: that has been replaced with a desire to collaborate – something Hedrick chalks up to the pandemic, “which made us all a little bit softer and nicer to each other because we’re all in this together.”
The Arrival Artists boss says she has calls with new agencies including Mint and TBA on a regular basis, as well as weekly meetings with UK agency ATC Live, with which Arrival has formed a strategic partnership to “facilitate dynamic global representation for shared artists.”
Davidman, meanwhile, hopes that this new spirit of collaboration will not only better the agency world but the industry as a whole. “The agency world should not be so divided, fighting over power,” she says. “We should collaborate and use the collective power to try to figure out the important things, like how to break down systemic racism within the music industry.”
Welcome to a brave new agency world…
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Venues Day International to debut in October
Music Venue Trust (MVT), which represents 100s of grassroots music venues in the UK, has announced that its annual conference and networking event, which was postponed last year due to the pandemic, will now take place in October.
To enable as many venues as possible to participate, Venues Day 2021 – which takes place at Earth in London on Tuesday 5 October – will be a hybrid event incorporating Venues Day Online, a day of virtual activity on 12 October, to ensure every venue in the country gets access to best practice information, advice and guidance as they emerge from lockdown.
Another new event, the inaugural Venues Day International, will take place on 19 October. A partnership between MVT and Live DMA (Europe), Music Policy Forum (North America), Canadian Live Music Association, Live Music Office Australia and NIVA (US), Venues Day International is the first global event aimed exclusively at grassroots music venue operators and owners.
Venues Day International will also take place online and feature panels, presentations and discussion on shared challenges and opportunities across the world.
“We are incredibly excited … to have taken the challenge of the crisis head on and be delivering a hugely increased range and scope of events”
Venues Day is sponsored by Ticketmaster and Amazon, with additional support coming from Jack Daniel’s, White Light, ILMC and media partners IQ and NME.
Andrew Parsons, MD of Ticketmaster UK, says: “Venues Day has long been a pillar for the grassroots community, but this year’s will be a lifeline to so many venues around the country as we inch closer to reopening. The sheer graft of MVT throughout the pandemic to support the industry has been truly inspiring to see, and we’re happy to do our part and sponsor Venues Day 2021.”
“Music Venue Trust offers invaluable support to our industry, and initiatives such as the Grassroots Music Venues Crisis Service have provided a lifeline for many over the past year,” adds Patrick Clifton, UK head of music for Amazon Music. “At Amazon Music we’re proud to continue our partnership with MVT, to help bring Venues Day to grassroots sites across the country, providing guidance and advice to ensure they can safely open their doors to music fans.”
Beverley Whitrick, strategic director of Music Venue Trust, comments: “Venues Day 2021 will further encourage collaboration and sharing, connecting venues across the world so they feel part of a growing movement to emphasise how vital they are to both the wider music industry and local communities. We are incredibly excited to not only be able to deliver the existing event, but to have taken the challenge of the crisis head on and to be delivering a hugely increased range and scope of events with our domestic and international partners.”