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Midnight Mango further grows agency team

Booking agency Midnight Mango has continued to expand its ranks by adding Duncan Chappell to its team of agents.

Chappell started out booking gigs as a hobby and has gone on to build a roster including the likes of Ranagri, Fred’s House, Annae Renae, Calum Gilligan and The Dunwells, among others.

“Frankly I’m both delighted and amazed to have been asked to join the Midnight Mango family as an agent as I haven’t been in the music business that long,” says Chappell. “I’m looking forward to providing some great opportunities for my wonderful roster of artists and to introduce the rest of the MM team to some of the venues and promoters that I’ve worked with.

“It will be a bit of a step change for me, going from a retiree with a hobby to being back in full time employment again”

“It will be a bit of a step change for me, going from a retiree with a hobby to being back in full time employment again, but I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

Chappell brings Midnight Mango’s number of agents to 13 as it continues to grow its agent freelancer platform, launched in 2020 to bring new agents to the company on a freelance basis, supporting them financially through the pandemic period while allowing them to retain control over their rosters and income..

He becomes the second agent to join the UK-based agency this month, following the hiring of Barry Stewart, who represents acts including The Undertones, Skipinnish, Shooglenifty and Sharon Shannon.

 


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Festival Focus: Tamás Kádár, Sziget

Since it launched in 1993, Hungary’s Sziget has evolved into one of Europe’s largest festivals, featuring more than 1,000 shows on six stages over six days. With a strong focus on diversity, it attracts people from more than 100 countries and includes a broad range of entertainment including circus, theatre, a museum quarter, and much more. In an excerpt from IQ and Yourope’s European Festival Report, CEO Tamás Kádár looks back at the festival’s return since the pandemic.

What was it like for you and the Sziget team during the pandemic?
First of all, it was a great pleasure to see so many happy faces again on Sziget, the Island of Freedom, in August this year. To be together again and to enjoy music and freedom is always the highlight of my year, but this edition was even more emotional for our entire team after almost three years of pause and waiting.

Financially, it was a very tough ride for our company because the Hungarian government wasn’t willing to provide sufficient support for the culture and live sector during the pandemic, so we had to rely on ourselves. We managed to keep the core team onboard and to somehow keep our heads above water, despite these huge financial and emotional challenges.

Sziget is renowned for its broad international audience – what do you think is the cultural value of attracting people from so many countries to the festival?
I think Sziget is really a Pan-European get-together where young people from all over the world become ‘Szitizens’ of the Island of Freedom. We welcomed fans from over 100 countries in 2022. The festival’s programming is a broad church, from the weirdest of the weird to the most mainstream acts on Earth. We welcome them all. We believe in embracing diversity, respecting human dignity, and looking out for each other.

“I don’t consider this season to be the first edition after Covid-19 but the last during the pandemic”

What trends do you think we will see play out in the next few years at festivals?
I don’t consider this season to be the first edition after Covid-19 but the last during the pandemic. The real comeback for festivals will happen next year, and I think that major festivals will become increasingly successful. I’m conscious of the humanitarian and economic impacts of the Russian aggression in Ukraine, but I strongly believe that festivals can provide a safe haven for our souls where we can enjoy life and hopefully celebrate peace very soon.

What challenges does the festival industry face? And how are you aiming to approach them?
Most of the challenges are things such as inflation, staff shortages, and increasing energy prices, but I think Sziget has learned to manage these things over the past 30 years.

What do you think is the importance of festivals to the cultural landscape?
I think festivals have proven not only to have a strong positive economic impact on local and national level, but they also add a lot [of colour] to the cultural landscape of a society. Sziget is not only a music festival with a very strong international line-up but also a place for local acts and world-class performances from all kinds of genres and artforms. So, it is really a 360-degree performing arts festival, way beyond music.

Read the European Festival Report in full below.

The Halls Wolverhampton reveals opening lineup

AEG Presents has confirmed concerts by McFly, Sugababes and The Vamps as part of its opening lineup for The Halls Wolverhampton.

The 3,404-capacity The Civic at The Halls Wolverhampton and 1,289-cap The Wulfrun officially reopen in June following a major multi-million-pound refurbishment programme by City of Wolverhampton Council in partnership with AEG.

Gigs by Leftfield and Chris Isaak are also part of the launch month following the opening night with American magicians Penn & Teller on 1 June, with more names soon to be added.

“We have a fantastic line up set for June, befitting of the opening of the iconic The Halls Wolverhampton and the renowned artists we’re thrilled to welcome to this great city,” says AEG Presents UK CEO and Wolverhampton native Steve Homer. “I can’t wait to officially open the
doors and be part of the crowd enjoying these performances. From rock to pop and comedy, there really is something for everyone.”

“This fantastic opening month of shows in June will ensure the new-look venue bursts back into life in style after our multi-million-pound transformation works”

The Halls have been closed since December 2015. Visitors will enjoy more comfortable seats, a greater number of bars and enhanced space to socialise, expanded and revamped toilet facilities, lift access for those viewing from the new balcony level, better access arrangements for disabled visitors, a greater number of accessible viewing points and improved room temperatures through the installation of a new air handling system.

“These are exciting times for this much-loved venue in our city – and is what all the blood, sweat and tears have been for,” adds council leader Ian Brookfield. “AEG Presents’ passion for The Halls and ambition for the future matches our own and this fantastic opening month of shows in June will ensure the new-look venue bursts back into life in style after our multi-million-pound transformation works.

“We’re thrilled to be working with AEG Presents on this, who understand the venue’s rich heritage and share our vision of reimagining an iconic institution that will continue to bring joy to the lives of locals for years to come, helping shape our city centre, creating jobs and boosting businesses by attracting 300,000 visitors a year and adding more than £10 million annually to the local economy.”

AEG, which agreed a 25-year deal with the council to run the venues back in 2019, will also operate the 4,400-cap live music space within London’s £1.3 billion Olympia scheme, which is on track to open in 2024. The firm’s mid-size portfolio also includes the 5,000-cap Eventim Apollo and 2,800-cap Indigo at The O2, both in London.

 


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Germany’s live body appoints sustainability director

Germany’s Federal Association of the Concert and Event Industry (BDKV) has elected Mike Keller as sustainability director.

Keller is managing director at Markthalle Hamburg convention centre, a certified sustainability manager for events and a long-standing member of BDKV.

“Sustainability is now one of the most important social topics and with Mike we have now found the ideal cast for the BDKV,” reads a statement from the association.

“He will enrich us with his specialist knowledge, his connections and his enthusiasm for all aspects of sustainability”

“He will enrich us enormously with his specialist knowledge, his connections and his enthusiasm for all aspects of sustainability and, together with our members, will develop practicable solutions with which we can meet our responsibility and importance and an industry.”

Mike Keller adds: “I’m excited to see how our events will make an important contribution to sustainable development in the interests of the environment, people and the economy. There’s a lot to do!”

At the end of last year, BDKV installed a new board, spearheaded by new president Sonia Simmenauer.

 


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MVT issues arenas warning after report findings

Music Venue Trust (MVT) chief Mark Davyd says the UK business “cannot go on building more and more arenas” without safeguarding the grassroots network, amid the findings of a new report.

The MVT, which represents almost 10,000 UK grassroots music venues, is proposing that all new arenas opening in the UK contribute to the security of the wider music sector by investing a percentage of every ticket sold into the grassroots ecosystem.

The organisation has already issued a direct request to the City of Manchester, Manchester mayor Andy Burnham, Manchester City Council and all Manchester MPs to ensure the new 23,500-capacity Co-op Live Arena pledges its support to the initiative.

“We cannot go on building more and more arenas with no plan of how to fill the stages they create in five, 10 or 20 years time and without these new facilities playing their part in helping protect the grassroots ecosystem,” says MVT CEO Mark Davyd. “Eight new arenas are planned for the UK. We should collectively have a considered and constructed plan of research and development investment that will fill those arenas with new talent.”

The move follows the publication of the MVT’s 2022 Annual Report which, it says, shows the grassroots scene is “now past the tipping point”.

A survey of the 960 members of the Music Venue Alliance (MVA), which employs more than 30,000 people throughout the sector, found that they staged 177,000 events in 2022, attracting audience visits of almost 22 million. However, this represents a decline of 16.7% from the last pre-pandemic year of 2019, as venues were forced to make significant cutbacks to continue operating solvently.

“The threat is real: we need more from the music industry and we need it now”

The decline saw the number of events staged per week in individual venues fall from 4.2 in 2019 to just 3.5 in 2022 with only 1.97 of those identified as ticketed live music shows. Davyd says the conclusions of the report make for “grim reading”.

“The threat is real,”he adds. “We need more from the music industry and we need it now, otherwise what is currently a crisis will soon become a terminal decline for venues, their staff, artists and audiences.”

The report also identified that in 2022, the average grassroots music venue capacity was 308, of which 40% was utilised per event, down from 2019 when the average capacity was 51%. The total income from those events was over £500m but venues reported an average profit margin of just 0.2% resulting in them subsidising live music performances by around £79m last year.

“Obviously we are pleased to highlight the fact that grassroots music venues contribute over half a billion pounds to the UK economy and to emphasise their enormous impact on the cultural life of our country; but it is also necessary to reiterate the precarious financial position that much of the sector still finds themselves in – the current economics no longer stack up,” says Davyd.

“We need a coherent long term economic plan that recognises the importance of what our members do and gives them a chance to keep nurturing up and coming artists”

The MVT has slammed the VAT applied to venue ticket sales as “crushing the economic viability of this sector and reducing the ability of the grassroots to create new British talent”, and demanded it be reduced to the average European level of 5% – or removed entirely. It is also calling for a thorough review of what it refers to as “excessive and anti-competitive” business rates.

“We need urgent action from the government on all these factors as well as a full review of VAT on ticket sales,” says Davyd. “In short, we need a coherent long term economic plan that recognises the importance of what our members do and gives them a chance to keep nurturing up and coming artists and contributing to their local communities.

“It doesn’t make any sense for the government to continue to tax what is clearly research and development. We don’t penalise any other industry like this and we need to stop putting barriers in the way of risk taking and investment in new British talent.

“The spiralling cost of energy bills, rents, excessive & anti-competitive business rates, and other overheads, combined with the effects that the cost of living crisis is having on the disposable income of our audiences, means that venues are operating on razor thin margins and in many cases struggling to survive.”

View the report in full here.

 


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Inaugural Lollapalooza India draws 60,000 fans

The debut edition of Lollapalooza India drew 60,000 fans over two days, with 40 artists performing across four stages on a 50-acre site.

Held at the Mahalaxmi Racecourse Lawns in Mumbai between 28–29 January, the event saw performances from local and international artists including Imagine Dragons, The Strokes, AP Dhillon, Cigarettes After Sex, Divine, the F16s, Jackson Wang, Imanbek, Greta Van Fleet, The Wombats, and Diplo – many of whom performed in India for the first time.

The organisers arranged for a range of facilities such as sign language interpreters, disability services and support organisations, plus on-site response teams providing assistance for psychological safety and inclusivity for the LGBT+ community. There was also a distress helpline, free unlimited drinking water supply, and buses dedicated to the festival connecting all of Mumbai.

The festival also unveiled a campaign titled #LollaForChange, which aims for minimal waste, managing food wastage, and increased sustainable measures.

Lollapalooza India was produced by founder Perry Farrell, WME, C3 Presents and India’s BookMyShow, and means the brand has now grown to eight countries on four continents, including editions in the US, Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Germany, France and Sweden. The festival will return to India in 2024.

 


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Prosecutions mount over Mirror video screen fall

The number of prosecutions brought over the incident in Hong Kong where a giant video screen fall on two dancers during a concert by boy band Mirror has risen to 15.

Two dancers were injured – one of them critically – in the incident at Hong Kong Coliseum on 28 July 2022. According to local media, Mo Lee Kai-yin, 27, remains in hospital six months on after sustaining injuries to his cervical vertebrae, head and lungs

Following an investigation, charges have been levelled against three companies – Engineering Impact, Hip Hing Loong Stage Engineering and Studiodanz.  The firms are accused of breaching the Occupational Safety and Health Ordinance and the Employees’ Compensation Ordinance.

Variety reports that the alleged offences included failure to provide employees with safe plant and safe systems of work, failure to notify the Commissioner for Labour of an accident and [failure] to take out employees’ compensation insurance for employees.

Three people were also charged with conspiracy to defraud in relation to the case earlier this month

The case is scheduled to be heard at the Kowloon City Magistrates’ Court on 27 March.

“The LD will not tolerate the above-mentioned illegal acts and will strictly enforce the law and do its utmost to protect the occupational safety and health as well as the statutory rights of employees,” says a Labour Department spokesperson.

Three people were also charged with conspiracy to defraud in relation to the case earlier this month. The trio – a woman and two men aged between 41 and 60 – are reportedly employees of Engineering Impact and will appear in court in February.

Police officers allegedly found some equipment was more than seven times the weight declared and claim the firm deliberately gave false information in order to obtain a permit for a planned 12-concert run by the 12-member boy band. The remaining shows were cancelled in the wake of the incident.

 


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Japan lifts cheering restrictions on concerts

The Japanese government is relaxing its longstanding ban on cheering at concerts and sporting events after announcing it is to reclassify Covid-19’s disease status.

From 8 May, coronavirus will be downgraded from class Class 2 to Class 5 – the same tier as seasonal flu – in the country, with residents told to use their own judgement when it comes to mitigation measures, including mask-wearing.

“With the change in categorisation, the nation’s Covid-19 measures will change from one where government agencies make various requests (to people and institutions) and intervene, to one that respects the choices of individuals, like in response to seasonal influenza,” says a statement by the infectious disease panel, as per the Japan Times.

“The government will need to make detailed explanations of its basic view and changes to be brought on by the reclassification, and provide necessary information.”

“Some in the audience will probably keep masking up, while others won’t”

Under the current restrictions, which will be lifted immediately, cheering is permitted only at venues where attendance is limited to 50% or less of capacity. Music venues have been able to operate at 100% capacity as long as audience members “wear masks, keep their voices down to conversational levels, and cheer or sing along for less than a quarter of every song”, reports Nikkei Asia.

“Some in the audience will probably keep masking up, while others won’t,” says Masashi Kondo, head of the Live House Commission trade group. “It’s hard to respond unless there are clear standards, so I hope the government will provide an explanation based on science.”

It was revealed last month that concert-goers in Japan could require government-issued ID cards to attend gigs under plans being considered by the government to help combat ticket touting.

 


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Make 2023 the most accessible year yet

Here, Suzanne Bull, founder of UK live events accessibility charity Attitude is Everything, highlights the need for more events to sign up to the organisation’s #FestivalsWithoutBarriers campaign and make 2023 the most accessible summer yet.

Following the wholesale closures of 2020 and 2021, 2022 has still been a strange and peculiar year for live music. Obviously, it’s brilliant that fans can at last enjoy a return to gigs and festivals, although it’s been difficult to ignore some of the pandemic’s more serious and lingering disruptions – and especially for certain artist and audience demographics.

It’s also easy to forget how quickly events have moved on. Seems remarkable now, but it wasn’t until the end of January [22’] that UK venues were freed from Covid-related restrictions. Meanwhile, according to pan-industry trade body LIVE, in the first three months of the year, a quarter of all UK music events had been cancelled.

For some, these traumas might feel like they’re fading away in the rear-view mirror – and in the interim period, a number of high-profile successes like Glastonbury’s belated 50th birthday or Adele’s triumphant Hyde Park performances, have arguably papered over a few cracks. But many will concede that the pandemic’s ongoing impact for livelihoods and businesses continues to be pretty devastating.

Judging from the feedback collected by Attitude is Everything’s team of mystery shoppers, there definitely appeared to be a mixed picture when it comes to access provision for disabled audiences.

Whether the result of experienced access officers losing their jobs or shortcomings in planning and preparation or simply a lack of understanding in terms of how disabled people feel about returning to live shows, it definitely feels that we’ve taken several steps backwards.

“Aside from the clear legal and moral obligations for event organisers to cater for disabled customers, there is also a strong economic argument to encourage inclusivity”

As you can imagine, for the founder of a charity committed to breaking down access barriers, this was a challenge. In the year before the pandemic, Attitude is Everything was preparing to celebrate our 20th anniversary with a series of initiatives to highlight how far we’d come and how things had improved.

However, while this situation is clearly worrying for millions of disabled music fans, of whom many also bore the brunt of the pandemic, it should also be a huge concern for the live sector at large as it looks to retrench and bounce back amidst these highly uncertain headwinds.

Aside from the clear legal and moral obligations for event organisers to cater for disabled customers, there is also a strong economic argument to encourage inclusivity.

Thanks in part to the work of Attitude is Everything, in the years before the pandemic, the economic spend from disabled people attending live music grew from £3.4m in 2013 to £9.3m in 2019. Even during the height of Covid, our research highlighted a huge demand from the disabled community to return to live events.

In August 2021, 50% of disabled people we surveyed told us they’d feel comfortable attending an indoor live event as long as increased safety measures were in place. 48% said they planning to attend an indoor live event and 55% that they were planning to attend an outdoor event by the end of 2021.

“I’m convinced we can return to the positivity of 2019 and play our part in building a better industry for the future”

For all these reasons, I was delighted that last month Attitude is Everything could announce a new partnership with the Association of Independent Festivals [AIF], the Association of Festival Organisers [AFO], and the British Arts Festival Association [BAFA] that’s looking to reset the agenda between live music and the disabled community and make 2023 the most accessible year yet.

Called #FestivalsWithoutBarriers, it means more than 200 events including the likes of Boardmasters, Boomtown Fair, End of the Road, Cambridge Folk Festival, and the BBC Proms have been issued with a renewed call to commit to three actions:

To provide quality access information to disabled audiences at the point of tickets going on sale by implementing Attitude is Everything’s Access Starts Online guidance.

To integrate questions about access requirements into the artist booking process.

To implement practical changes to make festival workplaces and festival volunteering accessible to disabled people.

Complementing this, we will help support AIF, AFO, and BAFA members to implement these actions through our guidance and publications, as well as offering hands-on and subsidised Disability Equality Training and an opportunity to learn from the experiences of disabled people (whether they are artists, audience members, volunteers, or professionals) including participants on our Future Leaders Programme.

These won’t, of course, amount to a silver bullet that makes everything perfect, but if we can at least recognise and re-evaluate the positive and dynamic contribution made by disabled people to live music, then I’m convinced we can return to the positivity of 2019 and play our part in building a better industry for the future.

 


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Rolling Loud Thailand details inaugural festival

Rolling Loud Thailand has revealed more details on the inaugural festival, including the lineup, location and ticket prices.

Cardi B, Chris Brown and Travis Scott will headline Rolling Loud’s very first Asia instalment in Pattaya, on Thailand’s eastern Gulf coast.

They’ll be joined by Lil Uzi Vert, Rick Ross, Offset, DaBaby, Soulja Boy, Rae Sremmurd and more for the 13–15 April event.

Tickets are now available with weekend passes priced at THB 13,000 (€365) for general admission and THB 25,000 (€700) for VIP.

This year, Rolling Loud will also hold inaugural editions in Germany and the Netherlands

The festival’s foray into Thailand will mark its first official event in Asia after a failed attempt at venturing into Hong Kong in 2019. The Hong Kong edition was scheduled to take place in October 2019 but was cancelled due to the city’s ongoing riots and protests at the time.

Rolling Loud Hong Kong would have been headlined by Migos and Wiz Khalifa with additional performances from the likes of Playboi Carti, Smokepurpp, Ski Mask The Slump God and more.

Since launching in 2015, Rolling Loud has grown from a one-day event in Miami into the world’s largest hip-hop festival franchise, with events in the US, Canada, Europe and now Asia.

This year, the brand will also hold inaugural editions in Germany and the Netherlands. Plus, the brand will return to Los Angeles next year for the first time since 2019.

Live Nation says that “Under the leadership of its founders, Matt Zingler and Tariq Cherif, Rolling Loud has grown to become the most powerful hip-hop festival in music history.”

 


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