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In our latest chapter, we delve into a highly competitive market with a remarkably strong talent pool of its own
By IQ on 16 May 2023
Italy is a busy, highly competitive market with a remarkably strong talent pool of its own, which makes it a very distinctive battleground for its leading promoters.
Whereas in many markets a pipeline of international arena and stadium talent is the holy grail, Italian audiences are significantly less interested in music from beyond their borders than in their own country’s output. Indeed, every one of the Top 20 best-selling albums and singles of 2021 was by an Italian artist, and the same was true of the cumulative single and album Top 10s for the first half of 2022.
In terms of homegrown stars, stadium-filler Ultimo, Milanese rapper-turned-singer-songwriter Rkomi, glam-rockers Måneskin, Bergamo’s indie-rockers Pinguini Tattici Nucleari, and hip-hoppers including Sfera Ebbasta, producer-rapper Tha Supreme, and recent chart-topping debutant Rondodasosa are just a few highlights of a remarkably crowded field.
Consequently, Live Nation and CTS Eventim, while ruthlessly rivalrous in Italy, have broadly distinct specialities: Live Nation controlling the biggest international stars, from Coldplay to Depeche Mode to Harry Styles to Muse in recent and imminent times; Eventim taking the lion’s share of Italian talent – give or take some crossover here and there.
CTS Eventim has spent recent years rounding up leading Italian independents, and its stable now includes Vertigo, as well as Vivo Concerti, Di & Gi, and Friends & Partners, in addition to ticketing market leader TicketOne.
As Vertigo CEO Andrea Pieroni put it in IQ last autumn, “the reality is that now there are only two big groups: Live Nation on one side and Eventim on the other. In general, if you are not part of a big corporation, things will be very hard.”
Italy tends to understand festivals as a concert series or summertime headline shows with a slightly longer-than-usual bill
All four Eventim promoters are strong in different ways. Vivo Concerti has a particular grip on the new wave of young Italian talent, including Ultimo, Blanco, Måneskin, and others.
Di & Gi’s highlights of 2022 included The Stones at the San Siro in June, Elton John’s final Italian performance at the same stadium a couple of weeks earlier, with six dates for Roger Waters next year in Milan and Bologna.
Friends & Partners focuses on established Italian stars. “We’re working on various projects ranging among different genres,” says Friends & Partners CEO Ferdinando Salzano, “from Ligabue to Marracash, from Zucchero to Pinguini Tattici Nucleari, from Claudio Baglioni to Elisa, from Blanco to Venditti and De Gregori, from Il Volo to Alesssandra Amoroso. We’re also arranging the great live return of Laura Pausini.”
Vertigo has a strong rock pedigree, with Iron Maiden and Rammstein shows coming around again next year – having already stopped off in Italy in summer 2021 – to add to the ongoing world tour of homegrown superstar Eros Ramazzotti. “I’m pretty sure his world tour will be one of the best sellers in the indoor season 2022-23,” says Pieroni.
Live Nation, meanwhile, chalked up 22 stadiums over the summer period of 2022 alone, with 1.24m tickets sold, as well as blockbuster open-air shows and a pair of festivals – Firenze Rocks and I-Days. Its stable of promoters also includes Comcerto.
Italy tends to understand festivals as a concert series or summertime headline shows with a slightly longer-than-usual bill. Key examples include Di & Gi’s Lucca Summer Festival and Maximiliano Bucci and Sergio Giuliani’s Rock in Roma, which this year marked its 19th edition.
“Costs are rising every day, but of course we can’t increase the ticket prices accordingly because people wouldn’t have enough money to buy”
Vivo Concerti is involved in Florence’s two-day electronic festival Decibel Open Air, which MD Clemente Zard promises will grow significantly as he aims to sell Italy on the concept of a multi-artist, multi-stage festival in the international style.
“It will take some time, but I’m sure we will achieve this result because it’s important for Italy to have festivals in a proper way and not only headline shows,” Zard recently told IQ.
In the meantime, while Italy is a strong market, it is far from immune to the high-cost, high-risk conditions that currently afflict the touring world and put independents in particular peril.
“Costs are rising every day, but of course we can’t increase the ticket prices accordingly because people wouldn’t have enough money to buy,” says Pieroni. “Therefore, we have to be very careful with offers and production costs.”
Among Italy’s independents are Claudio Trotta’s Italian pioneer Barley Arts, which brought Queen + Adam Lambert, Deftones, and others to Italy this summer and has sold 170,000 tickets for three Bruce Springsteen dates next May and July.
The 52-year-old Trident Music remains active, promoting Jovanotti, Sfera Ebbasta, Tiromancino, and events including the Jova Beach Party’s recurring summer tour of Italian beaches. In July, meanwhile, Milan-based independent Radar became the latest member of the Nordic All Things Live collective.
Rome-based independent promoter DNA Concerti has shows booked next year for Algiers, Warmduscher, and Adam Green with Francesco Mandelli, but DNA’s Pietro Fuccio says this summer has been too congested for indies to be throwing too many shows into the mix. “We kind of had an idea that it would be a very difficult summer, and we said to most of our artists, ’can we wait for a few months?’” he says. “It’s been a big rush, and it’s totally understandable. But if you want to be strategic, is the summer right after a pandemic the best time to get out there?”
The Global Promoters Report is published in print, digitally, and all content is also available as a year-round resource on the IQ site. The Global Promoters Report includes key summaries of the major promoters working across 40+ markets, unique interviews and editorial on key trends and developments across the global live music business.To access all content from the current Global Promoters Report, click here.