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BST’s Jim King talks Adele, live biz resurgence

AEG’s Jim King has hailed Adele as “the biggest act on the planet” ahead of the singer’s exclusive two-night stand at BST Hyde Park this weekend.

Demand for the 65,000-cap London shows was enormous, with tickets selling out within minutes of going on sale last October.

The 1-2 July double-header will be the star’s first concerts proper since 2017, when her scheduled four-night run at Wembley Stadium was cut short due to damaged vocal cords. Her planned Weekends With Adele Las Vegas residency was postponed in January – just 24 hours before its opening night – with rescheduled dates still to be announced.

“She’s the biggest act on the planet. And for us to be able to have two concerts with her here is such a highlight for everybody involved,” King, AEG’s CEO of European festivals, tells IQ. “We couldn’t be more thankful that she decided to come and play here. We know they’re so excited about it.

“Fans are going to see the biggest act in the world perform two of the best concerts anyone’s going to see this year”

Adele, whose 2016 Adele Live tour grossed $167.7 million across 107 shows, is represented by WME agents Lucy Dickins internationally and Kirk Sommer in North America.

“The conversations that we’ve been having with her team all the way through this have been unbelievably positive,” adds King. “They are a great team to work with – we know them very well from days gone by. Fans are going to see the biggest act in the world perform two of the best concerts that anyone’s going to see this year. It’s very exciting.”

This year’s BST hosted headliners Elton John, the Rolling Stones and Eagles last weekend, with Adele and a second date with the Stones (3 June) following over the next three days. Concerts by Pearl Jam (8–9 July) and Duran Duran (10 July) bring the 2022 American Express-sponsored series to a close.

But despite expanding the BST programme from six concerts to nine, AEG pressed pause on pre-pandemic plans for new events in favour of rejuvenating existing festivals. King – who previously warned the live industry against oversupplying the market – feels the promoter’s “cautious” approach since returning from Covid-19 has been vindicated.

“The concerns that we had at the top end of the year still apply now”

“I think we’re going to continue to have an amazing year, but based on the fact that we were relatively cautious,” he says. “It sounds a bit crazy to say that with nine sold-out Hyde Park concerts, but it’s nine – we’re not chasing 99. So we have chosen to be fairly modest in our output.

“The concerns that we had at the top end of the year – that rescheduled shows from 2020 and 2021 were being rescheduled into ’22, on top of those shows that were coming into the marketplace in 2022 – still apply now.

“What we saw, and what we still see, is the indoor touring cycle extending quite deeply into the summer because of venue availability, and thus you have festivals competing with headline tours. There’s only so much money that people have to buy tickets, so I think that concern is very real and our response to it – which was being cautious in the number of shows that we did – was the right thing to do.”

“The backbone of the industry is the supply chain and the staff. They’re the people who make this happen”

King also reflects on how the touring business has changed compared to pre-March 2020 times.

“From an operational perspective, it’s largely the same, albeit there are well documented challenges in the supply chain – labour resourcing, etc, has been particularly difficult,” he says. “We have an industry now which has picked itself back up again, but there are a lot of faces who are no longer with us. A lot of experience left the industry and that is one of the greatest challenges we have needed to bounce back from.

“How do we quickly and aggressively drive that experience back into what we have? Because the backbone of the industry is the supply chain and the staff. They’re the people who make this happen. And the ability to make decisions and, more importantly, make the right ones is what makes the UK industry the leading one in the world, in my opinion.”

He adds: “We’re also dealing with the impact of a wider economy issue of the cost of living crisis, which is ongoing and will be with us for some time, no doubt. But we’ve been here before, we’ve been in challenging economy situations where money’s tight and we have to react accordingly. We have to drive value and quality into the market so that when fans buy tickets, they feel that their experience was unbelievable value and they want to remain with us.”

Read part one of our interview with King here.

 


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1.5m K-pop fans attempt to buy NCT Dream tickets

A reported 1.5 million people tried to buy tickets for an upcoming show by South Korean boy band NCT Dream.

The seven-piece group will perform their first solo concerts in almost three years, The Dream Show 2: In a Dream, at the 20,000-cap Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul from 29-31 July.

According to Allkpop, Korean ticketing platform Yes24 crashed during the presale due to the overwhelming demand. One fan uploaded a screenshot of the her position on the waiting list, which showed 600,544 other people ahead of her in the online queue.

NCT Dream’s only previous concert featuring their full line-up was held in 2019

The 31 July concert will be livestreamed on streaming platform Beyond LIVE.

The Dream Show, NCT Dream’s only previous concert featuring their full line-up, was held in 2019 at Seoul’s Jangchung Arena.

Launched in 2016 by SM Entertainment, NCT Dream are one of four spin-offs of K-pop juggernaut NCT, which consists of 23 members.

 


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Dansk Live chair Lars Månsson Sloth steps down

Dansk Live is on the lookout for a new chair following the resignation of longtime board member Lars Månsson Sloth.

Sloth, who has also stepped down from his position at music organisation Gimle, joined the board at the Danish trade body in 2012 and has served as chair since 2018.

“Lars has been of great importance to the association’s development in recent years, and his routine and his friendly and calm disposition will be missed,” it says a statement.

“Lars was a great support to the secretariat’s work”

Esben Marcher, head of secretariat at Dansk Live, credits Sloth for his crisis management work during the pandemic.

“The dialogue between the board and the secretariat of Dansk Live is very close, and my collaboration has been particularly close with Lars,” says Marcher. “Lars has helped to move Dansk Live as an association – both organisationally and politically.

“Lars was a great support to the secretariat’s work, not least during the corona crisis, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank him many times for the cooperation”

Deputy chair Søren Eskildsen will take over temporarily until a permanent replacement is found.

 


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Stormzy signs with WME

WME has signed Stormzy for representation in all areas.

The grime artist, real name Michael Omari, inked a worldwide deal with CAA only last year, having previously been a client of Primary Talent International.

The move, announced just days after the completion of CAA’s $750 million acquisition of ICM Partners, covers touring and brand partnerships and reunites the 28-year-old with his former agent at Primary, Craig D’Souza, who joined WME as partner in 2021.

“Stormzy is one of the UK’s most inspiring artists who has consistently stood up to address social injustices”

D’Souza, who brought a roster including Dave, Krept and Konan, J Hus, Jacob Banks and Headie One to WME’s London office, guided Stormzy’s live career from 250-capacity club shows in 2015 through to his 2019 Glastonbury headline performance and a sold-out world tour.  He will represent the star alongside WME co-head of music Lucy Dickins and agent Whitney Boateng, reports Music Week.

“A true spokesman of Black empowerment and social activism, Stormzy is one of the UK’s most inspiring artists who has consistently stood up to address social injustices, encouraging his fans and listeners alike to speak openly about their beliefs and fight for their rights,” says a WME statement.

Managed by #Merky co-founder Tobe Onwuka, Stormzy also headlined Reading & Leeds in 2021, and completed his first UK arena tour earlier this year.

His upcoming tour dates include slots at Weekend Festival Finland (2 July), Madrid’s Mad Cool (7 July), Portugal’s Nos Alive (8 July) and Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland (11 July), followed by an Australasian tour booked for November/December.

 


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Hï Ibiza voted world’s No.1 club

Hï Ibiza has been named the world’s No.1 club in DJ Mag‘s annual poll.

The 5,500-cap superclub relegated last year’s winner Echostage (cap. 3,000) in Washington DC to second place.

The list was decided by more than 600,000 votes cast by DJ Mag readers, with Green Valley (12,000) in Camboriú, Brazil, the UK’s Printworks London (6,000) and Bootshaus (1,800) in Cologne, Germany completing the Top 5.

“We are feeling the energy and excitement from all sides about returning to our magical island”

“It truly is an honour for both myself and the entire team to receive this fantastic news and to be recognised in this way,” says Yann Pissenem, CEO and founder of The Night League, the company that presides over Hï Ibiza.

“Each and every year we put our hearts and souls into providing what we believe is the best experience achievable for people to come, enjoy and forget about their problems for a moment in time. This summer we are feeling the energy and excitement from all sides about returning to our magical island to experience Ibiza’s best season yet.”

Hï Ibiza opened in 2017 and boasts an 80-strong production team. Weekly residencies for this summer include Afterlife, Alok, Black Coffee, Damian Lazarus, David Guetta, Fisher, Glitterbox, Idris Elba, Paco Osuna, The Martinez Brothers and Vintage Culture, alongside a host of guest DJs.

 


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SXSW expands to Australia for 2023

US conference and showcase festival South By Southwest (SXSW) is expanding beyond Austin, Texas to debut in Sydney, Australia from 15-22 October 2023.

A celebration of the tech, film and music industries, SXSW Sydney is a collaboration with promoter TEG, the NSW government and tourism agency Destination NSW.

The week-long event will be the official annual Asia Pacific instalment of SXSW, which first took place in March 1987 in Austin, Texas.

“SXSW Sydney will establish a new SXSW touchpoint, enabling the international and cross-sector connections that deliver the most innovative products and content”

“We couldn’t be more excited and honoured to work with TEG and the New South Wales Government via Destination NSW on an event that brings to Australia the professional opportunities and unexpected discoveries that make SXSW unique,” says Roland Swenson, CEO and co-founder of SXSW. “The purpose of SXSW is to help creative people achieve their goals, and Sydney is the ideal city to serve as a home for the cross-collaboration that exists within the many industries we bring together.”

“SXSW is an event without equal internationally that has launched the careers of so many creative professionals,” adds Geoff Jones, TEG group CEO and event producer for SXSW Sydney. “Through showcasing the creator industries of the Asia Pacific to the world, SXSW Sydney will establish a new SXSW touchpoint, enabling the international and cross-sector connections that deliver the most innovative products and content.

“I would like to welcome Colin Daniels as the managing director of SXSW Sydney and thank the NSW Government, Destination NSW, and the team at SXSW for their foresight and support.”

 


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DEAG reports biggest summer in company history

DEAG has reported the most successful summer in its 44-year history, with more than three million tickets sold for the promoter’s events.

A record total of 3.1m people are scheduled to attend DEAG shows in Germany, UK, Ireland, Switzerland and Denmark between June and August.

Highlights so far have included Stuttgart’s Kesselfestival, which attracted 50,000 visitors for the first time last weekend. A similar number is expected at the upcoming Sion Sous Les Etoiles festival, along with an open air Die Ärzte concert in Thun, both in Switzerland.

Via its Kilimanjaro Live subsidiary, it has also either promoted or co-promoted stadium concerts by Ed Sheeran and Stereophonics in the UK and Tom Jones at Live at Chelsea. Allied to shows by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and Kiss in Germany, as well as the Rock the Ring festival in Switzerland, DEAG welcomed close to 1.1m paying customers in June alone.

“It’s a great feeling to finally be back on track after the challenging months brought on by corona”

“It’s a great feeling to finally be back on track after the challenging months brought on by corona,” says DEAG CEO Peter Schwenkow. “Considering the rising costs and limited availability of personnel and material, my unconditional thanks go to our organisers, partners and employees for their great commitment to artists and the audiences.”

The group has already sold 1.3m tickets in July for concerts by the likes of Iron Maiden, Anna Netrebko, Die Toten Hosen in Switzerland, the Scottish festival Belladrum and the Nature One and Ruhr-in-Love festivals. Together with the already very good sales for August 2022.

Schwenkow predicted a bumper year when speaking to IQ earlier this year.

“We are very much convinced we will see a record year, just by delivering the 5,000-plus shows we have on sale,” he said. “Probably not with the full profit margins due to lack of personnel and by accepting higher costs at ticket prices from 2020 and 2021, but still strong.”

 


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AEG names CIO of new Global Technology division

AEG has appointed David Jones as chief information officer of its new AEG Global Technology division.

Formerly CIO for AEG Europe, the London-based digital and tech veteran will be responsible for the company’s technology strategy and solutions across the US, Europe and Asia-Pacific.

AEG Global Technology is designed to help facilitate the use of data and customer-facing technologies to drive revenue across the business and provide “best-in-class” customer experiences.

“The development of AEG Global Technology further underscores AEG’s commitment to ensuring all of our venues, teams and businesses have the digital infrastructure necessary to continue delivering differentiated live, event customer experiences, says Ted Fikre, AEG’s vice-chairman and chief legal and development officer.

“With his exceptional background and history of creating innovative solutions to AEG’s technology needs, David is ideally qualified to oversee and spearhead the development of technology required to continue to transform our business into the future.”

“As we look ahead, consumer-focused and data-rich technology capabilities will be core to AEG’s success”

In the newly created role, Jones, who is executive sponsor of AEG Europe’s PRIDE Employee Network Group, will also be tasked with overseeing the firm’s information security and privacy teams, “providing a consolidated infrastructure that aligns the company’s core pillars of technology, data, and innovation globally”. He will work in close alignment with the technology teams at AEG venues such as The O2 in London and Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles, and will also partner with the company’s AEG Presents, AEG Sports and AXS subsidiaries to deliver expertise, services, and support globally.

“As we look ahead, consumer-focused and data-rich technology capabilities will be core to AEG’s success,” says Jones. “The formation of our new AEG Global Technology division will bring together our talented technology staff in the US, Europe and beyond into one team and will ensure that we are able to deliver best-in-class technology solutions today, and in the future.

“Our ambition is to deploy technology to help fans have the very best experience at our events, whether they are watching the LA Kings at Crypto.com Arena, the LA Galaxy at Dignity Health Sports Park, rocking out to a legendary performer at The O2, or enjoying a weekend at one of our renowned festivals.”

 


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Backstreet Boys livestream pulls in 45m viewers

A free livestream performance by the Backstreet Boys attracted a record-breaking 45 million viewers in China via Tencent’s WeChat app.

Broadcast last Friday (24 June), the two-hour show was recorded at Rock Lititz Studio, Pennsylvania, US. Sponsored by Lincoln and produced by 24/7 Productions, it reached 10m viewers within its first half hour and was the highest-attended livestream concert on the platform by an international artist.

The show incorporated a special guest appearance from Westlife, broadcast from Smock Alley in Dublin. Directed by Chris Howe and produced by online event promoter Driift, it enabled the two bands to duet on the Backstreet Boys’ hit I Want It That Way and Westlife’s My Love.

“Achieving this level of engagement in China is unprecedented for international artists”

It marked the second time Howe and Driift have collaborated with Westlife and their management for a WeChat livestream. The Irish group’s previous show, which took place in December 2021, attracted 28m viewers. On both occasions, the performances were filmed specifically for viewing and consumption on mobile devices.

“It’s been a real joy to work with Westlife again as part of such an extraordinarily successful collaboration,” says Sasha Duncan, Driift’s head of production. “Achieving this level of engagement in China is unprecedented for international artists, and also highlights the versatility of the livestream format.

“Whether it’s a high-end cinematic production or a performance like this, tailored for viewing on mobile devices, we’re proving it’s possible to forge a genuine connection with online audiences.”

 


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Notting Hill Carnival boss named new AIF chair

The UK’s Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) has named Notting Hill Carnival CEO Matthew Phillip as its new chair.

Phillip is the CEO of London’s leading Carnival development agency, Carnival Village Trust, which is dedicated to supporting and delivering an integrated programme of carnival arts.

In addition, Phillip is the CEO of Notting Hill Carnival Ltd, the organisation that manages Notting Hill Carnival, and MD of Mangrove Carnival Arts CIC.

“The AIF has shown itself to be an incredible champion for independent festival operators – no more so than in recent years, both during the pandemic and what is still now a very difficult time for promoters all over the country,” says Phillip. “It’s with great pride that I take on the role of AIF chair. I look forward to offering my experience and expertise to further the organisation’s great work and help it evolve to meet today’s challenges.”

“It remains a critical time for AIF as we emerge from the worst effects of the pandemic”

Phillip succeeds Jim Mawdsley, who has stepped down after a seven-year tenure.

At AIF, Philip will work alongside the organisation’s board, vice-chair Nick Morgan and CEO Paul Reed.

“Following a robust search for the right candidate, I’m delighted to welcome Matthew as the new chair of AIF,” says Reed. “Matthew brings a wealth of relevant experience in governance and leadership as the CEO of the globally renowned Notting Hill Carnival, among other important roles.

“It remains a critical time for AIF as we emerge from the worst effects of the pandemic. Our members are facing some very difficult trading conditions, and we have a renewed focus on climate action, audience welfare and diversity. AIF’s role as a collective voice and support network to our members remains vital and I look forward to working with Matthew to ensure that the organisation evolves and continues to be a powerful advocate for the independent festival sector.”

Reed recently spoke to IQ about the UK festival sector’s “incredibly challenging” summer.

 


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