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Promoters from Doctor Music, Live Nation, Concert Studio, Primavera Sound and The Last Tour discuss how the market has bounced back
By IQ on 18 Apr 2023
Spain is a remarkably fertile market, with about 1,000 music festivals a year, including globally renowned names such as Barcelona’s Primavera Sound and Sónar, Madrid’s Mad Cool, Festival Internacional de Benicàssim, and Bilbao BBK Live. It has plenty of sturdy promoters and some flourishing live destinations, led by Madrid, Barcelona, and Bilbao.
In terms of promoters, Spain has a broad range of both hardworking indies and heavyweight corporates. The former camp includes the increasingly intrepid Primavera organisation, Producciones Animadas, Concert Studio, Houston Party Music, and The Project in Barcelona; RLM, Get In, Just Life Music, and Ground Control in Madrid; Valencia’s Serious Fan Music; Last Tour in Bilbao; Zaragoza’s Siamm Producciones; and Murcia rock specialist Madness Live!.
Joining the corporates in recent years has been the veteran Doctor Music, which sold a 63.5% share to CTS Eventim in May 2018, 35 years after staging its first shows. It remains a go-to for international and superstar acts. In partnership with Live Nation Spain, it was among the local promoters on AEG/ Concerts West’s Rolling Stones tour for its stop at Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid, with Bruce Springsteen, Robbie Williams, and Rammstein coming up in 2023.
“Although times are challenging, after two miserable years of Covid, I see lots of people wanting to enjoy live music again and going to concerts is a key part of this vital experience,” says Doctor Music CEO Neo Sala. “So yes, I see a big cause for optimism not only for the next year but also for the forthcoming ones.”
“I see lots of people wanting to enjoy live music again and going to concerts is a key part of this vital experience”
As well as its own activities, Live Nation holds a majority stake in leading Latin promoter Planet Events. As well as a joint venture with Mercury Wheels, Live Nation also operates a strategic partnership with Andalusian promoter Riff Producciones aimed at growing Spanish acts in overseas markets. Among the highlights of 2022 in the Live Nation camp were Planet Events’ Marc Anthony tour, postponed since 2020, and Live Nation’s own 27-date tour for Fito & Fitipaldis, which became Spain’s most popular tour of the year.
“2022 was the most challenging year I remember in my career, but it was worth it,” says Live Nation Spain president Robert Grima. “And now 2023 is looking to be possibly the best year for us. And the demand for shows and ticket sales keeps growing, which is a very good signal.
“We have big tours coming up next year for Coldplay, Harry Styles, Muse, Blink-182, Louis Tomlinson, and Lewis Capaldi, but we are also putting a very strong focus on local talent with national multiple tours of artists like Hombres G, Beret, El Kanka, and Rels B.”
Elsewhere, artist management company RLM, whose CEO Rosa Lagarrigue was the force behind Planet Events before its sale to Live Nation, has returned to promoting in recent years, taking on tours for Ricardo Arjona, Alejandro Sanz, Raphael, and Rozalén.
“It will be a great year in Spain, for the artists and for the public, who will be able to enjoy a wide offer of concerts”
Concert Studio chalked up record attendances at its summer festivals – the Festival Jardins Pedralbes in Barcelona and the Cerdanya Music Festival in the Pyrenees – and now looks towards the 25th edition of the Banco Mediolanum Festival Mil·lenni, which takes place across Barcelona and will run from October 2023 to May 2024, and the boutique Icónica Sevilla Fest, which in 2023 marks its third edition.
“It will be a great year in Spain, for the artists and for the public, who will be able to enjoy a wide offer of concerts. However, we see indications of a possible market saturation that will affect the work of all promoters,” says Concert Studio’s Carlos Perez.
Murcia-based promoter Madness Live! launched the new rock- and metal-focused Rock Imperium Festival in the city of Cartagena in June, headed by Scorpions, Europe, and others, and it will return next year across three days with Helloween and Deep Purple headlining. Madness Live! also has forthcoming shows with the likes of Iron Maiden, Bullet For My Valentine, Cannibal Corpse, and plenty of others.
Of Spain’s mighty festivals, 2022 was a big year for Primavera Sound. It closed the biggest edition in its 20-year history in June, welcoming nearly half a million people to the Spanish city of Barcelona after a two-year hiatus.
“We see indications of a possible market saturation that will affect the work of all promoters”
For its 20th anniversary celebrations, Primavera held its maiden US edition in Los Angeles in September, and November saw events in São Paulo in Brazil, Santiago in Chile, and Buenos Aires in Argentina, as well as the Primavera Weekender in Benidorm.
“There is a Primavera Sound community all over the planet,” Primavera Sound director Alfonso Lanza told IQ in the wake of the festivals’ South American debut, which drew more than 300,000 across the three editions. “It was very different in each country, but it was definitely the most passionate audiences I have ever seen.”
Since launching in 2016, the Live Nation-produced Mad Cool Festival in Madrid has grown rapidly from an overall capacity of 45,000 to 80,000. In July, the festival added a fifth day, and headliners included Muse, The Killers, and Metallica.
Andalucía Big Festival, a new event from the team behind Mad Cool, debuted on 8–10 September at Malaga’s Feria Ground, with acts such as Muse, Jamiroquai, Years & Years, Glass Animals, Michael Kiwanuka, Wolf Alice, Franz Ferdinand, and Aurora.
“There is a Primavera Sound community all over the planet”
However, the Mad Cool Sunset Festival in September was called off after organisers were unable to find a “suitable” replacement for Rage Against The Machine, who had recently cancelled all forthcoming dates in the UK and Europe.
Bilbao BBK Live, meanwhile, returned in July with more than 100,000 in attendance and LCD Soundsystem, The Killers, J Balvin, and the Pet Shop Boys on stage. Its organiser Last Tour International also stages the Kalorama and BIME Live events, as well as the new Cala Mijas Festival on the Costa del Sol in Malaga and diversifications into Portugal (MEO Kalorama festival) and Colombia (BIME Bogotá).
“This year, we feel that we are recovering the normal rhythm, although we predict a difficult year due to the social and economic situation,” says Last Tour director of communications Eva Castillo.
The Music Republic, owned by brothers David and Toño Sánchez, promotes festivals such as Arenal Sound, Viña Rock, Granada Sound, and Madrid Salvaje, and also acquired Benicàssim Festival from Madrid-based Maraworld in 2019.
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