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Metronomy, Stormzy latest acts to call off tours

Tour cancellations are mounting, with Metronomy and Stormzy becoming the latest artists to scrap plans.

In the last couple of months, Santigold, Arlo ParksShawn MendesSam Fender, Russ, Wet Leg and Disclosure have all cancelled dates due to mental health concerns, while Placebo, alt-J, Pale Waves and Anthrax have scrapped appearances due to “logistical issues”.

Yesterday (29 September) English electronic group Metronomy followed suit, pulling the plug on their upcoming tour of North America.

“Touring America is one of the most expensive and exhausting things a band can do,” wrote the band in a post on Instagram.

“When you’re a young band, that time spent touring the states is the only way that you would want to spend it. But, when you’re a little older and a little wiser, you start weighing up the time you spend on the road against the time you spend with loved ones at home,” it continued.

“Right now, it doesn’t make sense for us to come I’m afraid. We’ve had an incredibly busy year of gigs and festivals and now need to afford some of the same time and attention to our home lives.”

The tour was due to kick off this October but the majority of shows have now been postponed until May 2023. The band will still play their Los Angeles show at The Wiltern on 27 October and at the Pepsi Centre in Mexico City two days later as planned.



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Meanwhile, Stormzy has called time on his Australia and New Zealand tour due to “circumstances beyond my control”.

“It is with the heaviest of hearts that I have to inform you guys that due to circumstances beyond my control, I must cancel international commitments for the remainder of the year which includes my Australian and New Zealand tour,” a statement from the rapper reads.

“You guys have waited so patiently and I am so sorry that this has to happen after all these ups and downs. I love you guys and I promise I will be back as soon as I can with a show that’s bigger and better than ever.”

Stormzy was set to perform at Spilt Milk festival as well as headline shows at HBF Stadium in Perth, two nights at the Hordern Pavilion in Sydney, Riverstage in Brisbane, John Cain Arena in Melbourne and AEC Theatre in Adelaide.

The shows were originally scheduled for 2020 before being halted by the pandemic. Many fans have waited close to three years for the shows after buying tickets. It was set to be Stormzy’s first appearance in Australia in five years.


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AEG’s Adam Wilkes talks Frontier’s new era

Frontier Touring chairman Adam Wilkes has given an insight the company’s new leadership structure and paid tribute to late founder Michael Gudinski in a new interview.

Wilkes, who has been president and CEO of AEG Presents Asia Pacific since 2016, became chair of the Frontier board earlier this year as part of a restructure following Gudinski’s passing in March 2021. A subsidiary of Mushroom Group, Frontier entered into a strategic JV with AEG in 2019.

The company’s executive team comprises Dion Brant as CEO, COO Susan Heymann, CMCO Reegan Stark, and CCO Andrew Spencer.

“I think that works. It allows all people to shine at what they do best.” said Wilkes in an on-stage Q&A at the Music Matters industry conference at Singapore’s Hilton Hotel, reports The Music Network.

“We’ve traditionally been the market leader in Australia, so all signs would suggest that will continue”

“Nobody can fill Michael’s shoes, it’s not a possible thing, he was a one of a kind,” he added. “But one of Michael’s legacies is the incredible company he built, and he had a really deep bench.

“We’ve traditionally been the market leader in Australia, so all signs would suggest that will continue.”

Wilkes described Gudinski, one of the best-known and most-loved figures in the concert business down under for five decades, as a “titan”.

“He was integral to developing the live music industry in Australia since the 1970s, someone that I looked at as a mentor and a friend,” said Wilkes, who went on to discuss the health of the wider Australian live sector.

“The Australian market never ceases to impress,” he said. “It’s only 25 million people but it really punches above its weight when it comes to live performance. I think the per-cap spending in Australia is the highest in the world. It’s just so engrained in the culture.”


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Dark Horses: The resilience of metal

Cranked amplifiers. Pyrotechnic firepower. Mosh-pit mayhem. As a genre where the blood, sweat and riffs of the live experience are both an integral part of fan appeal and artists’ revenues, the fortunes of metal are intrinsically tied to the live market, in sickness and in health.

After nearly two years of silence due to the pandemic, metal is steadily finding its feet again as a return to the summer festival touring circuit continues apace. At the time of writing, Wacken Open Air had recently wound up its 2022 edition, where 80,000 diehard metalheads summed up the loyalty in the genre with more than 95% of them rolling over their tickets from previous years. And just one day after the curtain came down, fans took just five hours to snap up all 80,000 tickets for the 2023 edition.

Elsewhere, live juggernaut Rammstein are resuming their record-breaking global stadium tour after it was rudely interrupted in 2020, concluding with three nights at Mexico City’s 65,000-capacity Foro Sol stadium. Newer boutique events are also performing well, such as Italy’s Rock The Castle, which is offering fans the opportunity to see legendary headliners Judas Priest and Megadeth within Scaligero Castle grounds.

“Metal fans are fans for their whole life,” affirms Andrea Pieroni, CEO of Vertigo who promoted the event. “We sold almost 20,000 tickets over the weekend, which is good if you consider we sell only daily tickets and capacity is 9,000. It’s a new renaissance, literally!”

The road back to live has been rocky, and the issues beleaguering the entire live industry – crew shortages, skyrocketing fuel prices, ballooning production costs – are keenly felt. Yet, unsurprisingly, for a genre that has always punched above its weight and boasts fans regarded as the most loyal in the world, in this report IQ hears how many artists and show organisers have not only survived but thrived, through a mix of passion, community and grit.

“Metal fans are fans for their whole life”

Riders on the storm
When it dawned on the industry that 2021 would not see a return to business-as-usual, several no-table metal festivals embraced digital technology like never before by staging online editions rather than let another year pass unmarked.

One such festival is The Netherlands’ tastemaker event Roadburn, whose organisers launched Roadburn Redux in April 2021, a four-day streaming event with live performances from Tilburg’s lynchpin club venue, 013. “We pulled out all the stops to make Roadburn Redux something really special, and it was affirming, as an independent festival, that we might still have a future,” recalls artistic director Walter Hoeijmakers. Performances were broadcast in real-time by local production specialists, LiveWall, who also created the online portal, which saw 79,000 fans from 132 countries tune in.

The carefully curated programme recreated all the regular hallmarks that have earned Roadburn an engaged following and a reputation for “redefining heavy”: spotlights on emerging underground talent, panel discussions, and exclusive commissioned projects, made possible through grants from the Dutch government. “We approached 16 bands and told them, ‘We want to give you a portion of this grant to create new music that we can premiere at Roadburn 2021,’” explains Hoeijmakers. “That was the main goal: to inspire the community and give bands an opportunity to grow and keep them visible.”

France’s Hellfest also got in on the action, creating a virtual “metalverse” for Hellfest From Home, where visitors could navigate between stages and interact with other headbangers. Alongside live performances, video content catered to the wider festival experience, from cocktail recipes to cooking tutorials with rockstars, racking up nearly three million views overall.

“We don’t treat festival goers as customers: it’s more like a community”

Significantly, both festivals made the online experiences open to all, free of charge. Roadburn opened donations, raising over €56,000 to help cover costs, while Hellfest sold specially produced merchandise. As Hellfest communications manager Eric Perrin explains, the focus was to repay fans for their loyalty: “It was a ‘thank you’ to everyone who had held on to their tickets. We don’t treat festival goers as customers: it’s more like a community. As an independent festival, ticketing is 60% of our budget, so we maintain a special relationship with our community because, ultimately, they’re our lifeline.”

Both festivals have been rewarded this year with sold-out attendance for their respective physical comebacks, with nearly 90% of original tickets purchases rolled over. 5,500 visitors returned to Roadburn this year, with around 80% of attendees travelling from outside The Netherlands. Meanwhile, Hellfest celebrated its 15th anniversary by spreading a stacked bill over two weekends, welcoming 420,000 people to Clisson over seven days.

Younger bands, like Static Dress and Sleep Token, have also been able to build anticipation with fresh music over the pandemic and return to larger audiences. Canadian metallers Spiritbox were on their first tour playing support to 800-cap rooms or less when the world locked down. Now, they are one of the hottest properties in metal, recently notching up a much-anticipated debut at Download Festival and two sold-out nights at Islington’s O2 Academy venue as headliners, selling 1,600 tickets.

Back in the saddle
A few tentpole events can be seen as paving the way for metal’s return to heavyweight commercial performance. Most obvious is The Metal Tour of the Year which packages together Trivium and Lamb Of God with thrash icons Megadeth, which in its first leg in 2021 alone sold over 170,000 tickets across 24 North American dates, grossing nearly $8m (€7.9m) according to Pollstar.

More impressively, demand proved so high that a second leg of 26 dates was undertaken earlier this year. Over in the UK, Bring Me The Horizon launched a fresh tour of six arenas in 2021, which sold over 60,000 tickets, while Don Broco’s 11-date run of academy-sized venues (25,000 tickets sold) has set them up for their first arena tour next year.

“We need to take more chances on new headliners”

But, in Britain’s metal calendar, no event speaks louder than Download Festival. In 2021, the UK government tasked the festival with putting together a 10,000-capacity camping festival with zero social distancing, as part of the wider Events Research Programme that would make the case for large-scale gatherings post-lockdown. Oh, and with just four weeks’ notice. No pressure.

“John Probyn and his team at Festival Republic did an incredible job pulling together the production in such short notice,” recalls Live Nation promoter Kamran Haq. “We managed to confirm the entire line-up in four days. Some bands thought we were joking when we told them we were going to do a festival in four weeks’ time, but thankfully every band we approached jumped at the chance.”

The result was a scaled-down Download featuring a best-of-British line-up headed by Enter Shikari, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, and Bullet For My Valentine. While the event was never going to turn a profit with reduced capacity and reported production costs of £2.7m (€3.2m), Haq affirms that the exercise was worthwhile. “It was a loss leader, but its success allowed other festivals like Reading and Leeds, Creamfields, Latitude etc., to go ahead later in the summer. It also showed us that we need to take more chances on new headliners, and we will do.”

By all accounts, metal festivals and tours have been back in full force this summer, with many circuit mainstays reporting bumper attendance numbers, including: Download (110,000, UK); Rock Am Ring and Rock Im Park (150,000 combined, Germany); Graspop Metal Meeting (220,000, Belgium); Welcome To Rockville (160,000, US); Resurrection Festival (145,000, Spain); and Good Things (90,000, Australia).

Perennial favourites Iron Maiden resumed their mammoth Legacy Of The Beast tour to sweep up 170,000 tickets over five German stadium shows alone. In most cases, ticket retention ranges from 75% up to 90%. Yet that diehard loyalty of holding on to tickets for the past two years has also come at a cost this year – namely that touring budgets and ticket prices drawn up in 2019/2020 do not square with the costs of staging shows in 2022, with many reporting at least a 30% increase in production costs.

“We’re going to be forced to analyse comfort levels for increasing ticket prices”

“I have never seen anything like it,” says Ossy Hoppe of Wizard Promotions who, with almost 50 years’ experience promoting hard rock’s elite under his belt, has seen it all. “We have a completely different situation now, where neither promoters nor bands are making the money they expected on deals. If bands can’t get trucks, they’re getting busses. If they can’t get busses, then they’re chartering planes. The only way we will get through is if we all pull on the same string.”

5B Artist Management president Justin Arcangel observes that 2023 tour sales vary wildly, and while per-head merchandise sales at shows are double pre-pandemic levels, selling VIP packages has become essential to mitigate risk. “Maybe in 2019 our guarantees would pay for the tour and VIP would be a profit centre. Now the VIP is necessary to help the tour break even,” says Arcangel, whose clients include heavy hitters Megadeth, Slipknot, and Behemoth. “We’re going to be forced to analyse comfort levels for increasing ticket prices, but we also have to figure out how to make these tours profit if touring is going to be sustainable.”

Latin America has proven itself to be a hotbed for a thriving, passionate metal fanbase across the continent. In our 2020 report, CKConcerts managing director Christian Krämer stated that development of venues and tour infrastructure would be necessary to truly open up the region. Fortunately, from his perspective, the pandemic has not set back efforts in this area.

“A few venues had to close, but the vast majority are still there, and we are even seeing new venues being opened, such as Coliseo Live arena in Bogotá,” he says. Appetites for continent-spanning tours with Airbourne and Obituary are looking promising, but not all sales are equal. “Both tours are selling very good, but I have seen several other shows that only sold very late. The market will be oversaturated until late 2023 probably, so it is still too early to see how everything will play out.”

But, as Christopher “Bitz” Ruvalcaba of metal powerhouse Cobra Agency observes, uncertainty is par for the course in a territory where political stability and currency values can, and will, vary year-to-year, state to state: “It’s not just Covid for us. You might have riots in Chile or you do a deal where the value of the dollar was worth five pesos, then three months later the dollar might be worth ten pesos. Tour cancellations happen all the time. It’s a case of resilience and adapting to bring the best opportunities to your artists.”

“The metal fans in South America are more passionate than anywhere in the world”

The pandemic and the war in Ukraine may have exacerbated existing problems, such as the costs of flying and freighting, which are a logistical necessity for a band crossing the Andes, but Ruvalcaba’s optimism for metal’s growth in the region remains unchanged. Having worked with promoters from grassroots to stadium-level and built strong relationships with artists such as Slipknot over the past ten years, he has seen touring infrastructure for metal bands across the region go from strength to strength.

The success of Mexico’s Hell and Heaven Metal Fest (30,000 cap), and the high-profile expansion of Knotfest into the territory are proof of long-term commitment bearing fruit. “We have been trying to stage Knotfest in Brazil and Chile for five years, and we have only just found the right bands and right time to do it,” he says proudly of the Slipknot-affiliated festival, which this year will also be staged in Colombia and so far has sold 30,000 tickets for each event before the full bill has even been announced. “You need passion and patience to make shows happen here, but the metal fans in South America are more passionate than anywhere in the world. It’s a culture. It’s a message.”

Forging ahead
As a heavy metal summer of festivals and touring draws to a close, conversation naturally turns to how tours set for winter 2022 and spring 2023 will perform. After all, once rollover tickets have been used up and punters start to feel the pinch of winter energy costs, how will tours sell?

Whether at a major league or independent-level, both 5B’s Justin Arcangel and Sarika Rice of London-based Desertfest have noticed a trend for customers to wait until the 11th hour to buy tickets. “I think people are wary of parting with money in advance or [concerned] that the shows are even going to happen,” says Rice, who as Desertfest’s booker and marketing head is finding the last-minute ticket sales challenging when it comes to projecting budgets for 2023’s festivals in London and New York. “Going into this year, we had 1,000 tickets rolled over for London. Will we see a quick uptake when we put tickets on sale or will it be down to the wire? We’ve got to be prepared for that.”

Yet Alan Day of Kilimanjaro Live and Action! Presents is bullish about the sales coming in. “You hear, ‘Oh, this autumn is going to be tough,’ but people say that every year! It’s always busy, but I think the market is very strong for rock and metal bands,” says Day, who has major UK tours with Bullet For My Valentine, Saboton, and Don Broco scheduled for Q1 2023. “I am very wary of the cost-of-living crisis, and we are being careful in how we position younger bands, but people will do everything they can to ensure their pay cheques stretch to go to see a show. The metal audience is loyal – that will never go away.”

“The future of touring itself will be about having much stronger packaging and not an increase in ticket price”

The opinion among many promoters and bookers is that rewarding that loyalty and delivering value-for-money at the barriers will prove crucial when it comes to ensuring good turnouts while navigating the rising costs of touring. As Adam ‘Rad’ Saunders of X-ray Touring cautions, simply offloading touring costs onto the consumer by hiking ticket prices simply won’t cut it.

“The future of touring itself will be about having much stronger packaging and not an increase in ticket price,” says Saunders, who believes that co-headline packages such as Amon Amarth and Machine Head’s upcoming UK arena tour are the way forward. “You need to put more on the table. The ticket buyer needs more value for their money, and I think that is what is needed for the confidence to return and for advance ticket sales to come back to what they were prior.”

One thing everyone IQ spoke to agrees upon is that metal continues to gain a fresh young audience, whether through well-placed syncs creating a “Stranger Things moment” or through rock lifers introducing their children to the visceral thrill of a metal show turned up to 11.

“I see young kids between 12 and 17 going back and listening to UFO and Thin Lizzy, and it’s amazing that there’s a new generation coming up that are really into hard rock and heavy metal,” marvels Ossy Hoppe, concluding that whatever the upcoming years bring for bands and their teams, the future of metal is loud. “Long live rock and roll and hopefully so will we!”

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Driift acquires Dreamstage amid Deezer investment

Livestreaming business Driift is acquiring technology and sales platform Dreamstage amid a fresh £4 million investment from French streaming service Deezer.

Dreamstage provided the platform for Driift’s global livestream for Little Mix from The O2 in London in May, facilitating sales of over 85,000 tickets worldwide.

The companies say the union will bring together their respective production and tech capabilities to create a new leader in the livestream market, with the combined business continuing under the Driift name as an independent entity, run by CEO Ric Salmon and COO Claire Mas.

“This is an exciting new chapter for Driift,” says Salmon. “Over the past two years we have become genuine pioneers in the livestreaming space. We’ve collaborated with certain of the world’s most talented artists, filmmakers and creators to deliver online events that have been part of the latest redefinition of the livestreaming format. Our team has shown a proven ability to innovate, selling hundreds of thousands of tickets and generating millions of dollars in revenues already.”

Co-founded by Salmon and Brian Message at ATC Management, Driift has produced dozens of online shows for artists including The Smile, Westlife, Laura Marling, Nick Cave, Niall Horan, Andrea Bocelli, Kylie Minogue, Fontaines DC and Dita Von Teese, and produced the BAFTA Award-winning Glastonbury Festival: Live at Worthy Farm in cooperation with BBC Studios.

Investing in both businesses in 2021 and 2022, Deezer remained a minority shareholder in Driift and became a majority shareholder in Dreamstage, prior to the latest transaction. The latest development sees Deezer become the largest shareholder of Driift, bringing its total investment this year to around $7m.

“Through Deezer’s investment, we are confident that our upward trajectory will accelerate”

“As the home of music, this is a milestone moment for Deezer,” says Deezer CEO Jeronimo Folgueira. “Connecting artists and fans through engaging experiences is an essential part of our growth strategy, and adding livestreaming capabilities to our portfolio is a key component to deliver on this ambition.

“Driift has already built an unparalleled reputation for bringing groundbreaking livestreams to music fans all over the world, and we consider that the addition of Dreamstage’s tech and sales platform will take the business to the next level. We have full confidence in the Driift team to deliver fantastic results.”

Salmon says Driift has now secured sufficient funds to execute on its business plan and accelerate growth.

“Through Deezer’s investment, we are confident that our upward trajectory will accelerate,” he adds. “We are delighted to welcome Dreamstage’s hugely talented team of developers, engineers and customer service personnel into the company. We can now offer a fully integrated livestreaming solution to our partners, with production, promotion and what we see as a market-leading technology and revenue generating platform under one roof. It is a major cultural shift, and we look forward to bringing an even greater range of live experiences to truly global audiences.”

Current Driift co-owners ATC Management and Beggars Group will remain significant shareholders in the newly merged entity, with ATC holding two of the five board seats.


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Yucaipa invests in Day After Day Productions

Ron Burkle’s private equity firm Yucaipa Companies has invested in booking agency Day After Day Productions (DADP).

Founded and led by agent Seth Shomes, the DADP roster includes more than 30 clients such as 98 Degrees, Aaron Lewis, Brian Wilson, Celebrating Meat Loaf, Deal Or No Deal – Live!, Flo Rida, Ice-T presents The Art Of Rap, Jeff Bridges & The Abiders, Matt Fraser, Missy Elliott, Staind, T.I., The Commodores, Tony Orlando, Tyler Henry, War and Wayne Newton.

Industry veteran Shomes relaunched DADP in 2021, having originally founded the agency in 1996. The firm specialises in booking entertainment for casinos, fairs, city events, theatres, PACs and corporate entities. DADP operated independently through 2014 until Shomes joined The Agency Group.

“Over the last decade I have watched with great interest Ron Burkle’s foray into the agency business and I am thrilled to partner with him and Yucaipa,” says Shomes. “As I relaunched DADP in April 2021 with just myself and a laptop, it is a proud moment that our immediate growth has quickly led to a partnership with one of the biggest entrepreneurs out there, and I look forward to finding internal synergies within Yucaipa’s portfolio of agencies and related entertainment companies.”

Yucaipa has existing interests in the live music industry through booking agencies Artist Group International, X-ray Touring, APA and K2, Primavera Sound and Primavera Pro,  and US promoter Danny Wimmer Presents. It also previously had a joint venture with Paradigm Talent Agency.

“Seth’s creative approach and client philosophy is in lockstep with ours”

“We are extremely pleased to be going into business with Seth Shomes,” says David Barnes, partner at Yucaipa. “We greatly admire the company he has built and look forward to having a successful partnership with him for years to come.”

As part of the investment, Danny Wimmer Presents has partnered with DADP to grow its DWP Talent Services (DWPTS) division. Shomes has been named partner of DWPTS, which focuses on the casino and fair business and was launched in 2021 with the acquisition of Billy Alan Productions.

“Billy Brill, Danny Wimmer, Del Williams and I have been looking for the right opportunities to expand our talent buying services for third party clients like casinos and fairs,” says Danny Hayes, CEO of Danny Wimmer Presents. “I was Seth’s lawyer the first time he built Day After Day, so I know what his unique skill set, relationships and reputation will bring to DWPTS. Seth’s creative approach and client philosophy is in lockstep with ours.”

DWP is one of the largest independent producers of destination music festivals in the US, with events including Aftershock, Bourbon & Beyond, GoldenSky Country Music Festival, Inkcarceration Music & Tattoo Festival, Louder Than Life, and Welcome To Rockville.


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IFF ’22: The new kids take centre stage

The teams behind the multitude of new companies and events to launch post-Covid took the spotlight on the final day of this year’s International Festival Forum (IFF) in London.

Moderated by IQ‘s Lisa Henderson, the New Kids on the Block quickfire presentation session heard from the key new festival and agencies to have emerged in the last 18 months.

The panel featured FKP Scorpio MD Stephan Thanscheidt, Mother Artists co-founder Natasha Gregory, Barbara Hexges of Goodlive’s Superbloom, Runway Artists founder Matt Hanner and Jess Kinn and Emma Davis from booking agency One Fiinix Live.

Thanscheidt discussed the success of the debut edition of FKP’s new open-air festival Tempelhof Sounds, launched with DreamHaus and Loft Concerts on the grounds of Berlin’s Tempelhof Airport in June. The event was headlined by Florence + The Machine, Muse and The Strokes.

“We had strong media partners and huge media reach, so the brand got established really quickly”

“We announced it last October, and four weeks later Omicron kicked in,” sighed Thanscheidt. “But we had a fantastic premiere. We had 40,000 people per day, which made us really happy because we were pretty much restricted because of Corona in Germany until this April. So the first edition went  really well and we had strong media partners and huge media reach, so the brand got established really quickly. The city of Berlin also welcomed us with open arms, which was fantastic for us.

“It was cool to book our new festival because most of the festivals we do were booked the second half of ’19 and then got postponed and postponed and postponed. So we had to wait until this year and there were a lot of bands who couldn’t get the slots at other festivals, so we had a fantastic line-up that was fresh and was really well received by the audience.

“We had a very good audience that was also interested in all of the topics that are part of the philosophy of this festival, like diversity, gender equality and all these kinds of things. We had a huge sustainability programme, and we set ourselves clear goals from the very start.”

Gregory, meanwhile, spoke about the progress of artist management and live agency called Mother Artists, which she launched in 2020 with her brother, music manager Mark Bent. The agency represents the likes of Idles, First Aid Kit, Amy Macdonald, Bombay Bicycle Club and Foster the People.

“It’s just about being honest with each other and realising that you’re dealing with humans”

Detailing the firm’s patented  “no-bullshit” policy, Gregory said: “It’s just about being honest with each other and realising that you’re dealing with humans. When we’re talking about festivals and budgets, we’re having an honest conversation [with promoters] and we come to the same number – there isn’t this working against each other.

“The pride I have in teams like Idles is that I don’t feel like I’m going to lose my job every day and I hope that the promoters feel the same way. We are all the same team, you leave your egos on the side. We’re all in it for the same reason, and there is zero tolerance for bullying. If someone writes a shitty email to someone in my team, we don’t accept it, I support them… That sounds like a great place to work.”

Hexges reported on the two-day Superbloom, which finally launched in Munich’s historic Olympic Park in September after two postponements due to Covid-related restrictions. Calvin Harris, Macklemore, Megan Thee Stallion, Rita Ora, Skepta and David Guetta were among the acts that performed across 11 stages during the event.

Alongside live music, the festival delivered a multi-faceted programme of art, culture, diversity, lifestyle, society, research and development, sustainability and science, with the aim of “redefining the music festival concept”.

“We had 50,000 visitors per day on a huge, historic location in the heart of Munich”

“We had 50,000 visitors per day on a huge, historic location in the heart of Munich,” said Hexges. “It was our first edition and we sold out. It had eight stages, including three main stages – one indoor – and the concept includes 50% music and 50% experience. We had 11 experience areas and it was a tough ride to be honest, but it worked and I was surprised at how well it went.”

Former ATC Live agent Hanner recalled taking a leap of faith and setting up Runway in spring 2020, having been made redundant shortly after the onset of Covid-19. The company made Steve Backman, formerly of Primary Talent International, its first agent appointment last year and expanded its team with four new hires in early 2022.

“The pandemic forced my hand,” he said. “I had a choice to make at that stage. And having spoken to a few artists and knowing that they’d come with me to be part of a fledgling roster, I was made redundant on the Friday and I think Runway began to exist in some form the following Monday. So it was a pretty swift turnaround.”

“We try to get involved building careers, for artists in meaningful ways, not just for the ones who are going to make us a bit of money next week”

He continued: “We are very independent, and we work with a lot of independent managers, a lot of independent artists and that is broadly what ties a lot of our roster together, even more so than stylistically. It also means that we’re pretty involved with our artists and our teams. We like to think of ourselves as boots on the ground, part of a core artist team.

“We try to get involved building careers, for artists in meaningful ways, not just for the ones who are going to make us a bit of money next week, but hopefully the ones that are going to make us some money maybe in eight years’ time. It also means that we’re growing our team organically. We’re not able to throw money at things.”

Booking agency One Fiinix Live was launched by Ed Sheeran agent Jon Ollier following his departure from CAA in late 2020. Davis – who served as Ollier’s assistant at CAA – joined the company from its inception, with ex-Paradigm agent Kinn coming on board in February 2021. The duo debated the benefits of working for a growing independent company.

“One of the most important is that we kind of make the rules,” suggested Davis. “The job is the same and you’re working with the same people but we have the power to go the way we want to, which is exciting.”

“It is also making sure we’re not just putting an artist out there for the sake of it and really sticking to the strategy of only touring at the right time, especially now,” adds Kinn. “Being able to pick and choose helps.”


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IFF ’22: ‘Agents and promoters must stick together’

Top agents and festival promoters say that the spirit of collaboration cultivated during the Covid-19 pandemic must be maintained if the industry is to overcome the next set of challenges.

The discussion took place today at IFF (International Festival Forum) during the panel Festivals & Agents: Happier than ever?, which featured Nikolaj Thorenfeldt (Smash! Bang! Pow!, DK), Chris Payne (WME, UK), Adele Slater (Wasserman Music, UK), Rauha Kyyrö (Fullsteam Agency, FI) and Cindy Castillo (Mad Cool, ES).

Fullsteam’s Kyyrö told IFF delegates that the bright side of the pandemic was an increased sense of understanding and patience among colleagues in the business.

“What I’ve noticed during the summer and autumn is that none of the companies to me seem to be working 100% efficiently,” she said. “I think everyone’s still struggling a little bit with how to set up their business and how to work internally so this is making us a little bit more patient. I’m no longer getting so many angry emails about not responding right away. I might get a reminder, but it’s usually a kinder reminder.”

Wasserman Music’s Slater said the pandemic also gave promoters and agents the chance to get to know the person behind the email address, thus humanising business relationships.

“We all had to club together because no one really knew what was going on at any point,” she said. “With promoters, once you’d rescheduled your shows, you would check in on them and see if they were okay and actually get to know the person rather than asking for a pencil. You had time to get to know people. It helped relationships with people rather than [feed into] the whole agent versus promoter [thing].”

Thorenfeldt from Smash! Bang! Pow! agreed, adding: “Some of the best conversations I’ve had with various business partners was when we actually got to talk about stuff that’s not numbers of whatever. You actually started to get to know certain relationships a lot better, which I think has been incredibly fruitful in a lot of ways since we returned to business. You found out what’s important in some of your work relationships and got a better idea of what sort of pressure each of us is feeling in our everyday life.”

Mad Cool’s Castillo said she personally experienced this newfound empathy from industry peers when the promoter cancelled Mad Cool Sunset.

“I think we have become more willing to look for solutions when problems arise”

The festival was called off after organisers were unable to find a “suitable” replacement for Rage Against The Machine, who recently cancelled all forthcoming dates in the UK and Europe.

“Four or five years ago, the response probably would have been ‘You’re gonna pay me everything now’,” explained Castillo. “Now, 95% of people said ‘Okay, Cindy, don’t worry. We understand the situation. It’s a shame this has happened. Let’s look for a solution.

“I think we have become more willing to look for solutions when problems arise. Maybe a couple of years ago, there would have been more aggressive communication with people demanding what they want but now there’s understanding.”

And it’s not just the bonds between agents and promoters that have strengthened because of the pandemic, according to WME’s Payne.

“We’ve got closer as a team internally because we’ve had to help each other. It might be that one of my colleagues has got a show but I’ve got a better relationship with a promoter and I’ll go down and help a little bit. And hopefully, that’s happening in the promoter world as well. It makes you just run harder and faster and better together.”

The panel agreed that, going forward, different forces in the industry must continue to work as one in order to overcome issues such as soaring costs, staff shortages and talent drains.

“These are crazy circumstances and we need to try and compromise,” continued Payne. “So I’m hoping compromises are a bigger part of everyone’s conversations, from agents to promoters, because we’re in an ecosystem and you don’t have one without the other.”

Thorenfeldt from Smash! Bang! Pow! added: “We want to help great artists achieve their wildest dreams – that’s the mutual goal for all of us. I also think that if there’s a mutual problem we need to look at it together, as well.”


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BMG books out Berlin venue until 2024

Berlin-headquartered music company BMG has booked out the German capital’s 1,600-seat Theater des Westens (TdW) every night until the end of 2024 to provide a home to its growing live events business.

The renowned record label and music publisher entered the live business in 2020 with the acquisition of a majority stake in promoter/event production firm Undercover.

BMG’s shows at TdW will include a series of residencies by domestic and international recording artists, as well as BMG’s growing roster of stage musicals.

“The Theater des Westens is arguably the greatest theatre in the German capital,” says BMG CEO Hartwig Masuch. “As a Berlin-born company, and the only German-owned and managed global player in the music industry, we are proud to make this investment in the musical life of our hometown.”

“We see a particular opportunity for established artists who want to present a high-end show in a beautiful venue rather than embarking on a regular tour”

The TdW is operated by Netherlands-based live entertainment firm Stage Entertainment, while the building is owned by the city of Berlin.

“We are committed to making the Theater des Westens the premier venue for entertainment in Berlin,” says BMG chief content officer Dominique Casimir. “Taking such a long lease on a venue is a first for a music company. We are starting with two great shows – Ku’damm 56 and now Romeo & Julia – but there is a lot more to come.

“Bringing high-end artist residencies to Berlin is a first for Germany. We see a particular opportunity for established artists who want to present a high-end show in a beautiful venue rather than embarking on a regular tour.”


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ASM Global re-appointed Suncorp Stadium manager

The Queensland government has re-appointed ASM Global as manager of Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium in Australia.

ASM Global Asia Pacific, which runs venues across Australia, New Zealand, the Asia Pacific and Middle East, has managed Suncorp Stadium since its redevelopment in 2003 and has now been granted a five-year extension following a formal tender process.

ASM Global Asia Pacific chair and CEO Harvey Lister AM says the company is honoured to be re-appointed as venue manager, which he said reflected the Queensland’s Government’s continuing faith and trust in the firm’s ability to manage the stadium to a world class standard.

Suncorp Stadium GM Alan Graham paid tribute to the work of the stadium management team.

“ASM Global has assisted us in continuing to take advantage of the latest innovations and cutting-edge technology”

“It is also fortunate that we are part of a world-wide network in ASM Global which has assisted us in continuing to take advantage of the latest innovations and cutting-edge technology ensuring the Suncorp Stadium team remains amongst the most elite in the world,” adds Graham.

It was recently revealed that the number of concerts permitted at the stadium could be set to double over the next two years to meet increased post-pandemic demand.

The 52,500-cap stadium is currently allowed to host a maximum of six gigs per year and already has shows lined up for 2023 by Elton John (21 January), Red Hot Chili Peppers (29 January) and three dates with Ed Sheeran (17-19 February).

But with a growing number of high-profile artists looking to tour the country post-Covid, the government is surveying residents and businesses for their views on temporarily raising the venue’s live music quota.


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Billy Joel joins BST Hyde Park 2023 line-up

Billy Joel is the latest headliner to be announced for next year’s American Express presents BST Hyde Park.

The 73-year-old, who is the sixth best-selling recording artist of all time with 160 million records sold, will take to the Great Oak Stage on 7 July for his only European show of 2023.

Tickets go on general sale on Thursday 6 October, with special guests to be announced soon. The show will be Joel’s first UK date in four years, since a Wembley Stadium (cap. 90,000) date in summer 2019.

The US great is the second act to be confirmed for next year’s BST line-up, following Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band, who will play two nights at the AEG-promoted London concert series on 6&8 July.

Earlier this month it was announced that Joel has added another show to his record-breaking Madison Square Garden residency in New York City. Promoted by MSG Entertainment in association with AEG Presents, the star’s 13 January show will mark his 87th monthly and 133rd lifetime show at the venue.

Billy Joel was named Madison Square Garden’s first-ever music franchise in December 2013

Joel was named MSG’s first-ever music franchise in December 2013. The record-breaking residency began in January 2014 with the singer vowing to perform one show every month at The Garden, “as long as the demand continues”.

Booked by Artist Group International, Joel was 2021’s 57th highest-grossing worldwide tour, generating $17,443,530 from 133,877 ticket sales according to Pollstar data.

Meanwhile, in celebration of 50 years of Billy Joel, the musician’s famous 1990 Live At Yankee Stadium concert will be beamed in cinemas for a special two-night global fan event. Presented by Trafalgar Releasing and Sony Music Entertainment’s premium content division, the re-edited film will be screened on Wednesday October 5 and Sunday October 9.

Columbia Records and Legacy Recordings, Sony Music’s catalogue division, will release Billy Joel Live at Yankee Stadium in digital, 2CD, 3LP and Blu-ray formats on 4 November.


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