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Arena Network appoints new booking director

Arena Network, the association of US arenas and large theatres, has appointed Justin Kujawa as booking director.

In his new role, Kujawa, who joins from Nederlander Concerts in Los Angeles, will focus on identifying and pursuing national and regional bookings for the association’s 40-plus member venues.

Before joining Nederland Concerts, where he booked some of the premiere concert venues in California (including the Greek Theatre, Vina Robles Amphitheater and the Forum), Jujawa worked for 17 years at Live Nation, starting his career in operations at Deer Creek Music Center in Indianapolis and working his way up to talent buyer.

“I’m looking forward to driving more content to our venues”

“My years of experience as a talent buyer in many different markets throughout the country has provided me with a unique perspective to help Arena Network’s venue members,” says Kujawa.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to build strong relationships with agents and promoters alike, and I’m looking forward to driving more content to our venues and getting to know many new markets and venue execs in the process.”

“We are thrilled to have Justin joining our team,” adds Arena Network CEO Andrew Prince. “As we all navigate this unprecedented time and venues welcome back fans, having someone with his experience and knowledge will be an incredible asset to all our members. We couldn’t be happier to have Justin with us as we continue to grow our membership and services.”

 


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Oak View Group to merge with Spectra

Oak View Group (OVG) has announced plans to merge with Spectra, a Philadelphia-based venue management firm with arenas, stadia, theatres and convention centres across North America.

Founded in 2015 by industry veterans Tim Leiweke and Irving Azoff, OVG specialises in property development and financing, sponsorship and partnerships and venue operation and security, while Spectra provides management, consultancy and hospitality services to its partner venues. The merger of the pair, terms of which were not disclosed, creates a “full-service” company with complementary specialities, according to Leiweke, the former AEG CEO who now serves in the same role at OVG.

“This merger brings together two dynamic leaders in the live events industry with complementary capabilities that will deliver a broad array of services to our clients,” says Leiweke. “OVG’s core competencies in arena development and corporate sponsorships, coupled with Spectra’s leadership in food and beverage services, will create a full-service live events company that will deliver a compelling and highly competitive set of offerings that meet our clients’ evolving needs.

“I look forward to collaborating with the talented team at Spectra and bringing together our two organisations to create something truly unique.”

“This merger brings together two dynamic leaders in the live events industry with complementary capabilities”

Dave Scott, CEO of Spectra, adds: “This is an exciting development for Spectra and an important step in our journey to provide unparallelled services to our clients along with exciting growth opportunities for our team members as part of a larger, more diverse organisation. This merger accelerates our existing strategy and will lead to significant opportunities to cross-sell food, beverage and sponsorship services across our combined client base.

“I look forward to working with Tim, Irving and the OVG team to enhance the future of live events for our valued clients.”

Following completion of the merger, which is expected in the fourth quarter of this 2021 (subject to regulatory approvals and other conditions), OVG will remain headquartered in Los Angeles and Spectra in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Spectra offers venue management, food services and hospitality, and partnerships services for 330 clients in the US and Canada, including stadia, arenas, convention centres, performing arts centres, fairgrounds and casinos, as well as Singapore Sports Hub in south-east Asia. OVG, which has six arenas under construction, including Co-op Live in Manchester, UK, recently inked a global ticketing deal with Ticketmaster.

 


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Yourticketprovider moves into NFT ticketing

Yourticketprovider, one of the Netherlands’ leading ticketing platforms, will integrate a new NFT (non-fungible token) ticketing product called Digital Twin.

Launched by blockchain ticketing innovator, GET Protocol, the product will allow Yourticketprovider to create an NFT copy of every ticket issued without extensive integration or interruption to their usual business.

“Thanks to this unique integration with the GET Protocol we will help organisers to enter, explore and monetise the many opportunities of this new online space using NFTs, for example, a more secure secondary market, pre-funding events and selling digital merchandise,” says Bart Peute, CEO of Yourticketprovider.

“Also to a visitor a ticket is much more than a barcode and we now support the full visitor journey and experience offline and online.”

Maarten Bloemers, CEO of GET Protocol, added: ‘We are thrilled with this move, as we are looking to develop the NFT ticketing use case as widely and thoroughly as possible.

“YTP will help organisers to enter, explore and monetise the many opportunities of this new online space using NFTs”

“In Yourticketprovider we have a great initial partner for the Digital Twin product, showing that they are open to innovation. That’s a mindset we are hoping to come across more and more, as we show the world what a ticket is capable of.”

Founded in 2012, Yourticketprovider currently sells around 2 million tickets per year. The CM.com-backed platform sells tickets for major festival organisers such as Loveland events, the Zoo events and Kwaku Summer festivals.

Yourticketprovider is the first platform to integrate with Digital Twin, which was designed for existing ticketing companies who want to break into the NFT ticketing space.

GET Protocol has been issuing and optimising blockchain-registered tickets since 2016, helping to eliminate scalping, the monetisation of the secondary market and the possibilities of using tickets as digital collectables.

Read more about the possibilities of NFT ticketing here.


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ASM Global expands Middle East venue portfolio

ASM Global is expanding its Middle East portfolio with the addition of two new venues in Jeddah, Saudia Arabia.

The global entertainment giant has been appointed as the managing operator of the 20,000-seat Jeddah Arena and the International Convention Centre Jeddah (ICC Jeddah), both set to open in December 2025.

The two new venues will be located adjacent to Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport, as part of the Jeddah Airport City project.

ASM’s Middle East portfolio already includes the Coca-Cola Arena in Dubai (cap. 17,000), the Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre and The Bahrain International Exhibition & Convention Centre.

“ASM Global is looking forward to being an integral part of the team to deliver this visionary project in Jeddah,” says ASM Global Asia Pacific chairman and chief executive, Harvey Lister.

“It was only fitting to appoint the global giants in the venue and entertainment industry to collaborate on this landmark project”

“We pride ourselves on joining forces with partners with whom we know we can make a difference to creating and delivering amazing experiences.”

SARH Real Estate and Development founder and chairman of SARH Real Estate Investments, Sultan Al-Harbi, added: “Upon analysing the significant importance of both the iconic arena and convention centre, it was only fitting to appoint the global giants in the venue and entertainment industry, ASM Global, to collaborate on this landmark project for Jeddah and Saudi Arabia.”

SARH Real Estate and Development recently announced the Airport City project, which will include three to five-star hotels, a shopping mall, ‘world-class’ parklands, a dedicated business centre and residential sector, as well as many other recreational amenities. The development is set to commence by the end of 2021.

Today’s news comes weeks after ASM was announced as the managing operator of The Bahrain International Exhibition & Convention Centre – the largest venue of its kind in the Middle East.


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Sweden’s TADC expands to Norway and Denmark

Swedish promoter Triffid and Danger Concerts has rebranded as TADC and opened offices in Norway and Denmark.

The company, formed in 2015 by the merger of Edward Janson’s Triffid Productions and Chris Rotenius’s Danger Music & Media, promotes more than 300 concerts a year in Scandinavia, as well as festivals such as Gefle Metal Festival and Atlas Rock in Gävle and the summer series Rock På Skansen in Stockholm.

“When we started the company six years ago our focus was on rock and metal,” says Rotenius. “In the future we will broaden our focus, and the change of name is a logical step, even though rock music will still be close to our hearts.”

In Norway, the business will be run alongside Jon Enger of Live Wire Concerts. TADC says it will launch a festival and summer concert series in Norway over the next few years.

“During the last couple of years the company has grown quickly and it feels like the right step to have a presence in Norway and Denmark as well,” says Janson. “We are looking forward to a lot of successful shows in all three countries.”

 


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AMG announces 3,000-cap. venue in Scotland

Academy Music Group (AMG) has expanded in Scotland with the acquisition of the 3,000-capacity Edinburgh Corn Exchange.

A category B-listed building, the Corn Exchange – which under AMG’s ownership becomes O2 Academy Edinburgh – was built in 1909 and over the last two decades has become one of Edinburgh’s largest standing, multi-purpose venues. Its reputation for live music was cemented with a sell-out show with Blur in 1999, with performers since then including Foo Fighters, Biffy Clyro, Oasis, Coldplay, Faithless, Arctic Monkeys, Garbage, Grace Jones, Radiohead, Paulo Nutini, Pulp and Calvin Harris.

“We’ve been keen to expand our O2 Academy brand in Scotland for some time and we’re delighted to now be in Edinburgh,” says Graham Walters, chief operating officer of Academy Music Group. “It’s an inspiring city with a thriving appetite for music and culture.

“We see huge potential with this venue: it fits with our ethos of investing in heritage buildings, with the right capacity of 3,000 to bring world-class entertainment to the city. It also has a number of diverse secondary spaces, flexible formats and configurations that we’ll be looking at over the coming months to complement programming and events in the main auditorium.

Gareth Griffiths, head of sponsorship for O2, adds: “The new O2 Academy Edinburgh is a brilliant addition to our O2 Academy estate. It’s a beautiful venue and as entertainment begins to return this further demonstrates O2 and Academy Music Group’s commitment to enhancing the live industry in Scotland, one of the best places to watch music in the UK.”

“We’re delighted to now be in Edinburgh. It’s an inspiring city with a thriving appetite for music and culture”

Paul DeMarco, managing director of former owner Marco’s Leisure, says: “When Marco’s Leisure bought the Corn Exchange in Chesser 22 years ago, we started with a plan to be Edinburgh’s go-to concert venue and ran over 300 live shows, as well as welcoming three million visitors to gigs, conferences, banquets, weddings, exhibitions and parties, creating one of the busiest and most successful venues in Scotland.

“We are happy to pass on the baton to the top professionals in the live music industry, who will ensure it continues to play a major role in Scotland’s events industry for many more years to come. Marco’s will continue to operate and expand its leisure business.”

Edinburgh Corn Exchange becomes O2 Academy Edinburgh from tomorrow (1 September), adding to the existing UK portfolio of now 20 venues owned and operated by Academy Music Group, including Scotland’s O2 Academy Glasgow and London’s O2 Academy Brixton and O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire.

Academy Music Group has already invested in brand-new in-house sound and lighting production facilities at O2 Academy Edinburgh ahead of forthcoming shows, which include Declan McKenna (3 September), Tom Grennan (9 September), Chic and Nile Rogers (21 September), Yungblud (11 October), DMA’s (18 and 19 October), Rag’n’Bone Man (26 October), the Snuts (28 October), Bullet for My Valentine (1 November), Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes (23 November), Bicep (7 December), The Charlatans (21 December), Chvrches (13 March 2022), Jake Bugg (21 March), the War on Drugs (18 April), Gary Numan (9 May), Marina (17 May) and Beck (14 Jun).

 


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UK prepares for biggest festival weekend in two years

More than half a million people are expected at open-air music events across the UK over the next four days for the biggest festival weekend since summer 2019.

Among the major festivals making their long-awaited, non-socially distanced returns after a year off this long weekend – Monday is a public holiday in England – are Live Nation UK’s Creamfields (Thursday 26–Sunday 29 August), AEG Presents’ All Points East (Friday 27–Monday 30 August), Festival Republic’s Reading and Leeds Festivals (27–29 August) and Superstruct Entertainment’s Victorious Festival (27–29 August), as well as a handful of smaller events.

Citing the success of the national Covid-19 vaccine roll-out, the UK government did away with the last social distancing regulations in England on 19 July (so-called ‘freedom day’) and a number of music festivals, notably Tramlines, Latitude, Standon Calling and Boardmasters, have taken place since, most with a system of Covid-status certification in place based on the NHS (National Health Service) app.

After its cancellation in 2020, Creamfields, the UK’s biggest dance music event, returns to its long-time home in Daresbury, Cheshire, with performances by Basement Jaxx, Jaxx, Tiësto, Peggy Gou, Eric Prydz, Chemical Brothers, Carl Cox, Andy C, Scooter, Paul Van Dyck, Pete Tong, Martin Garrix and more.

Though Creamfields has not announced a capacity reduction for 2021 – a full complement of ten stages of music will be in operation from Friday to Sunday – the event will be fully cashless for the first time, with only electronic payments available at all bars and concessions.

The return of twin festivals Reading and Leeds, Stormzy, Liam Gallagher, Post Malone, Catfish and the Bottlemen, Disclosure and Biffy Clyro, will be “a real[ly] emotional time” for the mainly young people attending, who have had “the worst 18 months for that generation almost since the invention of the teenager in the late 50s, when teenagers became a thing,” Festival Republic MD Melvin Benn tells the BBC.

The festivals will also be home to pop-up vaccination clinics which the NHS says will make it as easy to get a jab as a burger or beer.

“The live music industry is holding itself to a higher standard than any other sector in terms of Covid measures”

London’s All Points East, which this year incorporates Field Day, is AEG Presents’ first festival in the UK since British Summer Time in Hyde Park in July 2019. Moved from its traditional spring dates, the festival opens with London Grammar headlining tonight, with other headliners across the weekend including Jorja Smith, Jamie XX, Kano and Foals, as well as Bicep at Field Day on Sunday.

The festival, held in Victoria Park, will be attended by in excess of 40,000 people a day, having boosted its capacity since 2019.

“We are already experiencing such a great feeling from everyone on site: happy faces of fans, artists and staff coming back together for a brilliant music festival,” AEG’s head of European festivals, Jim King, tells IQ. “There is excitement and anticipation, everyone getting to know each other again and discovering their new favourite artist or looking forward to the big headliners. For us at All Points East, it is our first opportunity to put into practice what we do best and that in itself is a brilliant feeling.

“We have sold 160,000 tickets for four days. It’s clear that everyone is eager to get back to live music and after All Points East being away for 817 days, it is really satisfying to know that. The live music industry is holding itself to a higher standard than any other sector in terms of Covid measures. We can be proud that our industry is leading the way in staff and customer safety.”

In Portsmouth, Madness, the Streets, Royal Blood, Manic Street Preachers, Supergrass and Nile Rogers and Chic are leading Victorious Festival’s return.

Like all the festivals mentioned, Victorious festivalgoers will need to demonstrate their negative Covid-19 status – proof of full vaccination or immunity, or a negative test – to gain entry.

While concerns have been raised about the impact of large events like festivals on Covid-19 transmission, scientists say the trigger points for spreading the virus are public transport and shared cars to get to events, Reuters reports, as outdoor gatherings can be relatively risk free, as demonstrated by pilot events in the UK and elsewhere.

 


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GEI enlists industry titans for summer edition

With less than four weeks to go, the Green Events and Innovations Conference (GEI) has announced a new raft of panels and speakers for its Summer Edition.

The conference will be streamed online on 16 September via Hopin, with speakers joining both live and virtually from the Virtual Venue, powered by 100% renewable energy.

Newly announced speakers include Nuno Bettencourt (Extreme), Dave Ojay (NAAM Festival), Amber Etre (Christie Lites), Fay Milton (Savages) and Celia Palau Lodge (Cooking Vinyl Records).

Samm Farai Munro (Magamba Network), Meegan Jones (Sea, Great Ocean Race), Stuart McPherson (KB Event) and Jamal Chalabi (Backlash Productions) are also new to the billing.

Elsewhere on the agenda, the umbrella group representing the UK live industry, LIVE, will be giving delegates an exclusive first look at its ‘Live Green Declaration‘.

LIVE will be giving delegates an exclusive first look at its ‘Live Green Declaration’

John Langford (AEG Europe), Stuart Galbraith (Kilimanjaro Live) and Clementine Bunel (Paradigm) are among the speakers who will be discussing the declaration, which sets out a vision for sustainability in the live industry.

The newly formed Tour Production Group (TPG) will also be delivering a key session at this year’s summer edition, ‘A Greener Tour – V for Vendor‘.

Moderated by TPG founder Wob Roberts, the session will delve into the opportunities, obstacles and actions for the greener tours of the near future, with a special focus on vendors.

The session will include Amber Etra (Christie Lights), Robert Trebus (d&b audiotechnik), Stuart McPherson (KB Event Ltd), Jamal Chalabi (Backlash Productions) and David NG Lawrence (DNG Production).

Organisers expect 200+ delegates to attend the first GEI Summer Edition, tickets for which are on sale now. The schedule can be viewed here.

GEI is A Greener Festival’s annual flagship event, delivered in partnership with the International Live Music Conference (ILMC) in London. It has been running for over 13 years and welcomes delegates and speakers who are leaders in the event sector, sustainability and regenerative economies.

 


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Spain rolls out €3 million subsidy for venue operators

The Catalan government yesterday (26 August) announced a new subsidy of €3 million for venue operators in the region.

The fund will help operators mitigate the financial impact of the Covid-19 restrictions implemented during the first half of 2021.

This is the second subsidy of its kind and is almost double the initial €1,800,000 aid for venue operators.

In the new round of funding, the maximum limit of aid that operators can receive is increased to €350,000.

In order to be eligible, venue operators must prove a minimum expenditure of €4,000, as well as programming that includes at least 24 paid concerts between 14 March 2019 and 14 March 2020.

This is the second subsidy of its kind and is almost double the initial €1,800,000 aid for venue operators

Grants will vary depending on the capacity of the venue:

The Catalan government has also announced an €800,000 subsidy for the programming of live music events.

The funding, which applies to festivals, concert series and venue operators, can be used for all projects developed from 1 June 2020 that have ended between 1 October 2020 and 30 September 2021.

Festivals and concert series must have included a minimum of four concerts in Catalonia in order to be eligible. Venue operators must have hosted a minimum of 20 concerts with paid admission in order to apply. Applicants may receive up to €45,000.

 


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Man dies after New York concert backflip

A man has died after falling from a balcony at a Dead and Company concert in New York last Friday.

Drinks entrepreneur Ian Crystal, 46, fell up to 50’ (15m) onto concrete after allegedly attempting a backflip during an interval at the show, held at the 42,000-capacity Citi Field stadium on 20 August.

According to local media, Brooklyn resident Crystal was found unresponsive at the scene after hitting the ground headfirst.

Crystal (pictured) , who is thought to have jumped from a second-floor concourse, was pronounced dead at arrival at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in Queens, the New York Post reports.

“Our deepest and heartfelt condolences go out to all the attendee’s loved ones”

A driver outside the stadium said he saw the man later identified as Crystal “flip” before falling and slamming into the ground below, the Post adds.

Harold Kaufman, a spokesperson for the New York Mets, who play at Citi Field, told CNN the following day: “We are aware of a tragic incident which sadly resulted in a fatality last night. Our deepest and heartfelt condolences go out to all the attendee’s loved ones.”

Crystal was the CEO of Evolution Spirits, which produces Monkey Spiced Rum, and formerly worked with brands including Abolsut Vodka, Malibu Rum, and Stoli Vodka, collaborating with artists including Jay-Z, Swedish House Mafia and Ne-Yo.

 


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