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Execs talk talent exodus, sales and no-shows

The live music industry’s staffing shortage, returning customer confidence and no-shows at concerts were high on the agenda in IQ’s latest Recovery Sessions event.

Chaired by the European Arenas Association Olivier Toth, the webinar explored the recovery of the arena market with the help of a heavyweight line-up of executives, including Coralie Berael (Forest National Arena), Tony Goldring (WME), Steve Homer, (AEG Presents), Hans Dhondt (Rock Werchter) and Paul Twomey (Bio Security Systems).

A key issue of debate was the loss of seasoned backstage workers to other industries during the pandemic.

“All venues and festivals are going to come together at some point and try to find their usual people, but a lot of them have left that pool,” said Berael. “We’re going to have to replace people and they’ll need training. They don’t have the necessary experience.

“The loss of talent is quite a concern. I’m not only worried about the quantity of staff, but especially the quality of staff and we are having to start a lot more upfront in finding the right people. Usually, even a week before, you can make a miracle and find the right people, but now you might need to start a lot earlier… It’s a real risk to business continuity and it’s one of the challenges that we’re facing at the moment.”

Homer suggested the issue had been exacerbated in the UK by Brexit.

“We had some issue trying to secure catering companies because they were struggling with staffing,” he said. “We’ve got a double whammy here with Brexit having an influence on people leaving the UK as well.

“There was a severe level of burnout, because we went from literally nothing in venues to almost 80/90%. People had been working for supermarkets or courier services, and then all of a sudden they’re thrown back into working full time in venues, operating as security, or stewarding, or local crew. So it’s been a tough baptism, shall we say, to come back.

“Luckily, the people that are in the industry are determined to make it successful, so a lot of people have gone the extra yard, or the extra mile in a lot of cases, to make sure that events have been happening.”

We’re quite confident for the next few months, but it will take time

Berael reported that, after a slow summer, ticket sales for shows were on the rise, with younger people especially keen to return to live events.

“Since there are a few mass events happening, we can see that the trust is growing again,” she said. “We see that in the curve of the ticket sales. It’s like people were waiting to see whether it went well, and whether there were long queues, etc. So we’re quite confident for the next few months, but it will take time.”

She added: “We communicated probably 500% more with our audience than we used to, just to make sure, in the first instance, that they knew the show was going to happen, to reassure them in a way.

“All the emails about how [the entry system was going to work] came afterwards… explaining to them and educating them about how it was going to work, so that they could already imagine the journey.”

As revealed by IQ last month, promoters have reported the rate of no-shows by ticket-holders at concerts has been far higher than usual.

“At the start of September, we were experiencing quite high levels of no shows – anything between 25% and 35% in some markets,” said Homer. “It does seem to have settled down a bit better this month. The no-show rate is dropping to between 10% and 15%.

“I’ve often equated this whole experience to the feeling of if you go to an outdoor swimming pool. There’s always someone that will go in first, and when that person surfaces, everyone on the side goes, ‘what was it like?’ And I think there’s an element of that that comes along with shows as well.

“It’s all about confidence, and I think the longer we go on without any further restrictions imposed or anything like that, the more comfortable people will be going to shows, going into those indoor environments, with mass audiences.”

With shows that have been announced more recently, you would expect the no-show numbers to be a lot less

Goldring shared an alternative theory for the high no-show level.

“I think we have different situations,” he said. “With a tour that went on sale in 2019 and has been rescheduled a number of times, some people just kind of forget about it, or maybe they’ve lost interest. So I think you’re going to have that scenario.

“With shows that have been announced more recently, you would expect the no-show numbers to be a lot less.”

He continued: “The thing that’s really put a smile on my face is that artists have just loved performing again. They’ve been stuck at home like all of us and, suddenly, they’ve had that interaction with the audience that they haven’t had for so long, and they’ve loved it. So that’s very positive for all of us.”

The Recovery Sessions, supported by ASM Global and Goodtill, is a series of fortnightly webinars designed to keep the live music industry updated about the international roadmap to reopening. All Recovery Sessions events are free to access for IQ subscribers.

To subscribe to IQ for just £5.99 a month, click here.

 


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James Hanley joins IQ as News Editor

IQ’s daily live music business coverage has been bolstered by the addition of veteran music business journalist James Hanley as News Editor.

Hanley joins the IQ team to work alongside Deputy Editor Lisa Henderson and IQ Magazine editor Gordon Masson. He replaces former news editor Jon Chapple.

Prior to joining IQ, Hanley worked as senior staff writer at Music Week from 2015 until going freelance earlier this year. He was previously news editor at former live music business titles Audience and Live UK.

I am excited to join IQ and look forward to building its news coverage

“James’s knowledge of the live sector is encyclopaedic, and the whole IQ team has been a fan of his writing for years,” says Masson. “It’s fantastic that he’s finally joined the team.”

“I am excited to join IQ and look forward to building its news coverage, continuing to get critical information out first, and launching new projects in the coming months,” adds Hanley. “I am delighted to be working with Greg and Lisa as we document the industry’s resurgence from the pandemic and build towards a brighter future.”

Hanley can be contacted at james@iq-mag.net, while Henderson can be contacted at lisa@iq-mag.net.

 


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Scots vaccine passport ‘costing biz £250k a week’

The botched rollout of Scotland’s vaccine passport app is costing venues £250,000 a week, according to the Music Venue Trust (MVT).

The Scottish Music Venues Alliance (SMVA) has reported a 39% dip in business per week, amounting to £249,471.23, since vaccine certification became mandatory for large events and nightclubs on 1 October.

A vast majority of people experienced repeated problems in registering and uploading their personal vaccine status to the app, says the events sector.

With the weekly turnover for SMVA members totalling just under £640,000, the drop represents a loss of more than £712,770 over the first two weeks of the month. Venues stand to lose almost £2 million from an eight-week downturn. MVT CEO Mark Davyd describes the figures as “terrible”.

“We told [the government] very clearly that if they went down a vaccine-only passport route, there would need to be financial compensation for the people who have to deliver it, and they didn’t do that,” Davyd tells IQ. “They waited to see what would happen. And what’s happened is £700,000 has already been lost, £250,000 a week is being lost and is going to carry on being lost while they still pursue this policy.”

Scottish venues reported high levels of customer frustration over the lack of information from government and the chaotic rollout of the app. First minister Nicola Sturgeon said NHS Scotland systems were to blame for the troubled launch rather than the app itself.

Davyd says a BRIA [Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment] put out by the authorities after implementation contained no financial assumptions.

“It merely noted that only 62% of 18 to 29-year-olds were actually double vaccinated,” he says. “Well, it doesn’t take a genius to work out that 18 to 29-year-olds are a very large percentage of the audience that goes to grassroots music venues. And therefore 38% of them can no longer get into a grassroots music venue.”

This is having no impact whatsoever on transmission rates

A third of ticket holders over the first two weeks did not attend, while 27% of customers were refused entry due to lack of evidence of full certification. Furthermore, 61% of punters would have been refused entry had venues strictly implemented the full terms of the restrictions, which became enforceable by law on Monday (15 October).

“To be very clear, this is having no impact whatsoever on transmission rates,” says Davyd. “All it’s doing is driving customers out of a very specific part of the economy and putting them somewhere else where they [don’t require] a vaccine passport.

“Transmission isn’t taking place in grassroots music venues, they’re actually doing really, really good risk management. They’re doing great studies, they’re really working hard on safety. This was a thing that, if they wanted to do it, they needed to do it a much, much wider basis so they didn’t get market distortion. It’s the Scottish government’s job to sort that out now.”

On what happens next, Davyd says that the £6m earmarked by the Scottish government to help the domestic events sector recover from the pandemic remains untouched, with a meeting on how to distribute it planned for late this month.

“They now need to spend it to make sure the grassroots music venues are not closed by a policy that really needed a great deal more work before it was implemented,” he adds.

 


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Green Guardians: Resource management

The Green Guardians Guide, spearheaded by the Green Events and Innovations Conference (GEI) and IQ Magazine, is a new yearly initiative boosting the profiles of those working at the forefront of sustainability, in the hope that it might also inspire others.

The 2021 list, which originally ran in IQ 103, includes 40 entries across eight categories, highlighting some of the organisations and individuals who are working so tirelessly to reduce the carbon footprint of the live entertainment business.

This year’s winners have been chosen by a judging panel that includes experts from A Greener Festival, Greener Events, Julie’s Bicycle, the Sustainability in Production Alliance, the Sustainable Event Council and the Tour Production Group.

IQ will publish entries across all categories over the coming weeks. Catch up on the previous instalment of the Green Guardians Guide which looks at food & drink.


Ball Aluminium Cup
With its infinitely recyclable aluminium cups, Ball Corporation has signed a number of deals to supply the product line to events, including the 2020 Superbowl in Miami and PGA’s Waste Management Phoenix Open, effectively replacing millions of single-use plastic cups.

Durable, cool to the touch and extremely eco-friendly, extensive research on both sides of the Atlantic claims that consumers believe a venue that serves beverages in aluminium cups cares about the environment and that the drinking experience at that venue would be higher quality/better than other unrecyclable formats currently on offer.

Ball Corporation says that aluminium can be recycled infinitely without ever losing quality. In fact, it cites research that suggests that nearly 75% of all aluminium ever made is still in use today.

The cups can easily be made (minimum order of 50,000 applies) with custom logos and graphics to correspond with venues, events, teams, brands and more. Additionally, Ball’s drinking vessels are sturdier and more durable than other options, reducing breakage incidents and increasing quality perceptions.

EAP launched Love Your Tent, a campaign designed to encourage people to reuse them instead of discarding them

Eco Action Partnership
Waste is a key issue that the festival community needs to tackle head-on, particularly the ongoing problem of discarded tents and camping equipment left behind at the end of most camping festivals, creating one of the biggest environmental issues facing organisers.

With this in mind, Eco Action Partnership (EAP) launched Love Your Tent, a campaign designed to bond people with their portable homes and encourage them to reuse them instead of discarding them.

The organisation’s aim is to publicise the issue and create some solid solutions for change that will benefit the whole of the festival community.

Rick Storey, who helped initiate the campaign, explains, “We are determined to make festivals greener, more sustainable, and more enjoyable events for audiences and organisers, and one way of doing that is to cut down on the number of discarded tents. This can’t be done in solus, it needs to happen across the festival community and should involve tent retailers, festivalgoers and organisers.”

As part of its range of services, EAP also conducts carbon audits for events and businesses, helping to pinpoint where the main impacts are.

Greenbox offers a unique and forward-thinking approach to event waste management

Greenbox Events
Based in Bristol, UK, waste and recycling specialist Greenbox offers a unique and forward-thinking approach to event waste management. It pioneers the most sustainable strategies whilst keeping events clean, tidy and safe.

The Greenbox team builds on a wealth of experience that dates back to the mid-90s when recycling was first taking a foothold in the events industry. Its specially designed, distinctive and robust recycling stations are renowned for their ease of use and high recycling yield.

The company maintains that it’s what you don’t see that’s most important; through strategic deployment of its teams Greenbox tackles cleansing issues before they become a problem.

Greenbox operates throughout the UK, frequently in remote areas with limited or difficult access, as well as busy city centres, and at high-profile sporting events. It provides all the necessary vehicles, personnel, equipment and expertise to ensure events are cleaned efficiently, professionally and more sustainably.

Pitched for You is forming pacts to deliver mass accommodation smoothly in one package

Pitched for You
In 2021, Pitched for You has been delivering initial contracts, taking on crew and forming important relationships within the industry. As a supplier, the company took on every event it could, only to have half cancel and others pop up out of the blue with requests like isolation camps, glamp sites or a restaurant on a cliff.

As a B2B accommodation supplier, Pitched for You is forming pacts with ticket sellers, green travel companies, event assessors and production companies to deliver mass accommodation smoothly in one package.

Although determined to develop a real circular economy service, on the product side materials remain a great challenge, as there are simply no circular economy tent fabrics, yet. So the company is working with Nikwax to help develop these, finding that the correct fibres, coatings and maintenance techniques can make its material last “forever.”

On the service side, Pitched For You took advice from Aston Business School’s Advanced Services Group to ensure its business model is truly sustainable. While on the manufacturing side, Covid is presenting all sorts of international trade issues, so the company is considering moving manufacture entirely to the UK.

OVG is leading the development and operations of the Climate Pledge Arena, the first net-zero carbon arena

Oak View Group
With a mission to innovate and improve the live venue experience, Oak View Group (OVG) is leading the development and operations of the Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, which it says will be the first net-zero carbon arena in the world.

OVG believes the new building will be the most sustainable arena venue in the world, serving as a long-lasting and regular reminder of the urgent need for climate action.

Among the multiple strategies the company is relying on to achieve its goals, it has committed to no fossil fuel consumption in the arena for daily use; it will use an extensive solar panel installation combined with off-site supplementary renewable energy for 100% renewable energy power; and it will offset any carbon emission activities it cannot eliminate – like transportation – by purchasing credible carbon offsets.

Other initiatives include a sustainable food and beverage strategy, ensuring that 75% of all produce is sourced within a 300-mile range. Additionally, the arena will have a zero single-use plastic policy, advanced water conservation measures, and by simplifying its supply chain OVG will target a zero-waste goal.

The new arena, which opens in October, will be used to inform future OVG developments including UBS Arena in New York; Moody Center in Austin, Texas; Co-op Live Arena in Manchester, UK; Coachella Valley Arena, California; and new projects in Savannah, Georgia and Milan, Italy.


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IQ 104 out now: IFF, GEI, Steve Strange

IQ 104, the latest issue of the international live music industry’s favourite monthly magazine, is available to read online now.

The October 2021 edition reflects on two of the industry’s best-known events, the International Festival Forum and the Green Events & Innovations conference – both of which returned last month.

The issue also pays homage to renowned booking agent and X-ray co-founder Steve Strange, who recently passed away.

Elsewhere, Adam Woods talks to some of the innovators behind contactless payment systems, IQ gets to grips with audience insights tools and Derek Robertson learns about the rollercoaster ride that suppliers have experienced during the pandemic.

For this edition’s columns and comments, IQ passes the mic to Music Venue Trust’s Mark Davyd, as well as Jürgen Schlensog and Sven Meyer from Jazzopen Stuttgart.

And, in this month’s Your Shout, we ask the industry how they would use an extra hour a day.

As always, the majority of the magazine’s content will appear online in some form in the next four weeks. However, if you can’t wait for your fix of essential live music industry features, opinion and analysis, click here to subscribe to IQ for just £5.99 a month – or check out what you’re missing out on with the limited preview below:

 

IQ subscribers can log in and read the full magazine now.

 


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The New Bosses: Class of 2021 revealed

The latest edition of IQ‘s New Bosses goes live today, celebrating the brightest talent aged 30 and under in the international live music business.

The New Bosses 2021 honours no fewer than a dozen young executives, as voted by their colleagues around the world.

The 14th edition of the annual list inspired the most engaged voting process to date, with hundreds of people taking the time to submit nominations.

Our distinguished dozen this year comprises promoters, bookers, agents, entrepreneurs and more, all involved in the international business and each of whom is making a real difference in their respective sector.

In alphabetical order, the New Bosses 2021 are:

As in previous years, full interviews with each of the 2021 New Bosses will appear online in the coming days and weeks. However, subscribers can read short individual profiles of each New Boss now in issue 103 of IQ Magazine.

Click here to subscribe to IQ for just £5.99 a month – or check out what you’re missing out on with the limited preview below:

 

 


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IQ 103 out now: New Bosses, Green Guardians & more

IQ 103, the latest issue of the international live music industry’s favourite monthly magazine, is available to read online now.

The September 2021 edition heralds the publication of the New Bosses, IQ’s annual celebration of 12 future industry leaders, nominated by the global live music industry. Subscribers can see the full list of our most promising 30-and-unders working in the business here.

This issue also marks the return of the Green Guardians Guide, championing 40 individuals, companies and initiatives that are driving the green agenda.

Elsewhere, deputy news editor Lisa Henderson looks at some of the new arena projects that promise to take indoor shows to the next level as the live entertainment industry returns to form.

For this edition’s columns and comments, we pass the mic to Paradigm’s Adele Slater, Yourope’s Holger Jan Schmidt and the Roadie Cookbook’s Nick Gosling and Julie Cotton.

And, in this month’s Your Shout, we ask industry leaders which two people they’d want on their team in a zombie apocalypse.

As always, the majority of the magazine’s content will appear online in some form in the next four weeks. However, if you can’t wait for your fix of essential live music industry features, opinion and analysis, click here to subscribe to IQ for just £5.99 a month – or check out what you’re missing out on with the limited preview below:

 

IQ subscribers can log in and read the full magazine now.

 


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Singapore reopens gradually for vaccinated fans

A maximum of 1,000 people are now permitted at live events in Singapore, as the south-east Asian country continues to lift restrictions cautiously for vaccinated residents.

The 1,000-person limit – which applies to only to events where all attendees are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, or can prove their negative status – includes live entertainment events, spectator sports and conferences, according to the Straits Times. The increase, announced by Singapore’s Covid-19 taskforce, doubles the previous limit of 500 (vaccinated) people, brought in earlier this month.

The city-state, which is home to nearly six million people, is taking a different approach to reopening to countries such as the UK and US, where capacity limits and social distancing regulations have been abolished.

Singapore, said finance minister Lawrence Wong, who leads the multi-ministry taskforce, does not want to open up with a “big bang” like many Western countries have, he told an audience at a hospital yesterday (24 August).

“The objective is to get to the end of this pandemic with as little death and damage as possible”

“Because they already have much higher levels of underlying immunity and protection, many of these countries are more prepared to open up fully,” he said. “They say they have a ‘Freedom Day’, and they are prepared to let the virus run its course through their population.”

In contrast, Singapore has kept infections low throughout the pandemic, with just 50 deaths from Covid-19 in total, and hopes to keep cases at a minimum while opening up, said Wong. The objective, he added, is “to get to the end of this pandemic with as little death and damage as possible, even as we progressively resume most of our normal lives.”

The new 1,000-person capacity limit will apply to those who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, who have antibodies having recovered from the disease, or who test negative for the virus 24 hours before the expected end of the event in question.

At press time, some 78% of Singaporeans were fully vaccinated against the virus.

 


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 recovery centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

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DEAG welcomes 20,000+ for Potsdam palace shows

Despite ongoing restrictions on large events in Germany, promoter DEAG was able to bring together more than 20,000 people in Potsdam on Friday 20 and Saturday 21 August for two evenings of French-themed live entertainment.

After a hiatus in 2020, Potsdamer Schlössernacht (Potsdam Palace Night) returned to the Sanssouci Palace Park with the theme Les Rendez-vous au Park Sanssouci, with guests including the actors Benjamin Sadler, Esther Schweins, Benno Fürmann, Dietmar Bär, Andrea Sawatzki and Christian Berkel, and the theatre companies Quidams and Sol’Air.

Other entertainment at the sold-out events included illuminations, projections, tightrope walking and a fire and light show.

Potsdamer Schlössernacht 2021 was able to go ahead as a result of a “comprehensive hygiene concept”, says organiser DEAG, which included halving the normal capacity of the event.

“More than 20,000 visitors found their way to this year’s Potsdam Palace Night despite difficult conditions and were rewarded”

Around 9,000 people attended the open-air show on Friday, while 12,500 were present on Saturday.

“More than 20,000 visitors found their way to this year’s Potsdam Palace Night despite difficult conditions and were rewarded: with, at last, fun walks and good humour, the most beautiful entertainment, and the best pleasure with culinary highlights,” comments DEAG CEO Peter Schwenkow. “We would like to sincerely thank everyone who was there and look forward to all those who want to come next year.”

Mike Schubert, the mayor of Potsdam, adds: “I am very happy about the success of this year’s Palace Night. The event has shown two aspects: a mature and responsible security concept on the part of the organisers, and responsible behaviour on the part of the visitors also, make large events possible. Our city needs formats like the Palace Night, for guests and residents alike.”

 


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 recovery centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

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No new infections from Clubculture Reboot Berlin

The organisers of Berlin’s Clubculture Reboot have welcomed what they describe as positive interim results from the recent pilot event series, which saw around 2,000 people attend indoor club nights at six venues after taking PCR tests for Covid-19.

According to Clubcomission, the association which organised the event alongside the Berlin Senate’s department for culture and the Charité hospital, there were zero new infections as a result of the event, proving once again that “dance [music] events may be held safely even under pandemic conditions”.

Participants in Clubculture Reboot, which took place from 6–8 August across six Berlin clubs, needed to produce a negative PCR test to gain entry, as opposed to the rapid lateral-flow/antigen tests more commonly used for concerts and festivals.

All clubgoers, regardless of their vaccination status, had to go undergo a PCR test – the ‘swab test’ which is more accurate than a rapid test, but which takes at least 24 hours to return its results – at one of three designated test centres in the 48 hours leading up to the weekend’s events.

“The project offers real [guidelines] for the opening of clubs, even if infections and hospitalisations rise sharply in autumn”

Of the 2,110 people who were tested pre-event, seven were turned away after testing positive, and all attendees who submitted to follow-up PCR test (1,447 people, or almost 70%) tested negative for the virus. While the full results are expected at the end of the month, the interim findings are welcome, says Clubcommissionc chair Pamela Schobeß: “The project offers real perspective for the opening of clubs, even if incidences [of Covid-19] and hospitalisations rise sharply in autumn.

“It proves that with this method, safe spaces can be created that make it possible to bring club culture to life even in a pandemic.”

Dr Florian Kainzinger, who designed the testing process, adds: “With this project we were able to show that PCR tests can also be implemented in a very short period of time from sampling to transmission of results. This enables new perspectives for a safe reopening even in high-risk areas.”

 


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