The conference, incorporating Production Live! and the 27th Pollstar Awards, runs until Friday at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis hotel
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The California-based conference opens next week, with more than 150 speakers making their way to the Beverly Hilton hotel
By Gordon Masson on 11 Jun 2021
More than 150 speakers will be appearing in person at the Pollstar Live! conference next week, as the event becomes a pioneer for similar gatherings around the world in the months to follow.
So far, more than 2,000 people have registered to take part in the 15–17 June conference, which for the first time will also allow delegates around the world to tune in and watch livestreamed coverage of the panels and sessions.
“It’s been a challenge because back when we first announced we were going to do Pollstar Live! in-person, in December last year, to be frank I don’t think very many people at all thought we could or we would be able to do it,” admits Ray Waddell, president of organiser OVG Media & Conferences. “Our CEO Tim Leiweke was adamant that we do this, and our hope was that we would find the sweet spot between being allowed to do it, with a relaxation in certain restrictions, and before everyone became too busy and were unable to attend anything. And by all appearances, we’ve found that sweet spot.”
The event will have capacity limitations, says Waddell, while there are “a lot of protocols that we’re following to make sure we have as safe an event as possible.” Those measures include on-site testing, while delegates that can prove vaccination will also be allowed entry.
Rather than a hindrance, the testing regime will allow specialist companies to showcase their services to the live entertainment industry execs in attendance, prompting Waddell to observe, “In many ways I think we could be the prototype for what events might look like going forward. The steps we are taking are similar to what OVG as a company is doing at arenas where they play a role.”
Among the highlights that Waddell is looking forward to during the three-days of discussion are the panels at Production Live!, the main event’s companion conference for the production community that takes place on 15 June.
“Throughout both Production Live! and Pollstar Live! we’re taking on the traditional legacy topics of our business: selling tickets, artist development, branding and sponsorships, and all the global touring issues.
“In many ways I think we could be the prototype for what events might look like going forward”
But everything this year is through two specific lenses – one of them is about how do we come back and what it’s going to look like; and the other is that the social and political landscape has shifted while we’ve been away, so to speak, in that inclusivity and safety and wellness aspects will be woven throughout our three days.”
Waddell himself will moderate the opening session at Pollstar Live! where he will be joined on stage by Marty Diamond (Wasserman Music), Arthur Fogel (Live Nation), Ron Laffitte (Patriot Management), Dre London (Fionda Management) and Marsha Vlasic (Artist Group International).
Waddell notes, “The last ten years of our business has been a golden era with every year better than the previous, so we’re going to address how we can get back to that right out of the gate with ‘Golden Era 2.0: How the concert business comes back and what it looks like’.”
Another highlight will include a session entitled ‘Now, where were we? Picking up the pieces after a year off the road’ which will see the likes of Billie Eilish agent Sara Bollwinkel (Wasserman Music), Elton John agent Howard Rose, Ken Fermaglich from UTA, Artist Group International’s Adam Kornfeld and Kiss manager Doc McGhee.
“There were a lot of tours and artists that had gathered momentum only to be halted by the pandemic – Billie Eilish, Tame Impala, farewell tours by Kiss and Elton John, or returns like Guns N’ Roses – so it will be interesting to hear from people involved in those projects about how you pick them up from cold after 15 months,” says Waddell. “Having Howard Rose on a panel is like getting Bigfoot – it’s very rare. So we’re incredibly privileged to have him and I know that being Elton’s agent from day one, he has some stories to tell.”
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