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BBC invests in immersive live events firm

The BBC’s investment arm BBC Ventures has invested £500,000 (€590,263) in Bristol-based immersive live events specialist Condense.

Over the past year, BBC Radio 1’s New Music Show with Jack Saunders has worked in partnership with Condense to host a series of immersive live gigs with artists such as Gardna, Charlotte Plank and Sam Tompkins.

The concerts have taken place in a virtual venue called The New Music Portal, where artists’ performances are captured and live-streamed as “true-to-life” video, and fans can join as an avatar on their mobile or laptop and move around the venue like a video game.

“The New Music Portal enables the BBC to bring the best of our performances to younger audiences who are increasingly spending time in these sorts of game-like online environments,” says Jeremy Walker, head of BBC Ventures.

“In fact, they’ve already seen massively popular music events in spaces like Fortnite – young people in their millions have gone to online concerts from megastars like Travis Scott, Billie Eilish and Ariana Grande.”

“The New Music Portal enables the BBC to bring the best of our performances to younger audiences”

The BBC says that, by using Condense’s technology, it can give artists access to this technology at a much earlier stage of their career.

Sam Tompkins, whose performance in The New Music Portal was his first in a virtual environment, said: “The more that this technology moves on, the more we’re going to get closer to that live experience and I think that’s so special. This is a much more accessible way for people to hear live music and I’m all for that.”

BBC Ventures is planning to explore other ways to use Condense technology to bring live and immersive experiences to audiences in areas such as sport, education and news.

Nick Fellingham, Condense CEO, adds: “This partnership positions BBC audiences at the very forefront of the evolution of what it means to be a music fan in an age where people all over the world can now come together in-game to experience live music. You can attend a gig with your cousin who lives hundreds of miles away and share a real moment with your favourite artist through the New Music Portal.”

Founded in 2019, Condense technology is powered by volumetric video, allowing clients to create 3D content instantly and live-stream to mobile, PC, web, consoles, VR and AR.

The firm has previously partnered with telecommunications company BT, Crack Magazine and brand builder Diageo.

 


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AI surveillance trialled at gigs ahead of Olympics

AI-assisted video surveillance was tested at concerts by French police ahead of their deployment at the Summer Olympic Games in Paris.

The authorities tested six AI-enabled cameras at Depeche Mode’s two-night stand at Accor Arena earlier this year in the run-up to the 2024 Paris Olympics, which will be held from 26 July to 11 August.

Biometric Update reports the system runs on software platform Cityvision, developed by Paris-based Wintics, with the tools trained to detect eight types of suspicious or potentially dangerous activity.

According to the Telegraph, weapons, fire, bodies on the ground and abandoned packages will send alerts to surveillance operators, as will crowd behaviours including mass movement, trespassing in restricted zones, overcrowding and traffic that goes against the flow, abandoned packages, weapons, a body on the ground and fire.

Once an incident has been flagged, operators will decide whether or not to alert authorities and request police action.

The French parliament passed a law in May last year authorising the use of AI for the security of sporting and recreational events following the chaotic pre-match crowd management scenes that marred the 2022 UEFA Champions League Final at the Stade de France. However, the law bans the use of algorithmic facial recognition.

“Algorithmic video surveillance is inherently dangerous biometric technology”

The measures have raised the ire of privacy group Quadrature du Net, which says: “Algorithmic video surveillance is inherently dangerous biometric technology. Accepting it opens the way to the worst surveillance tools.”

ASM Global announced a partnership with Evolv Technology, a leader in weapons detection security screening, in 2022. ASM’s AO Arena (cap. 21,000) in Manchester became the first arena in Europe to use AI-based threat detection screening system, Evolv Express, to screen guests as they arrive at the arena for events, without the need to stop or remove items from their pockets or policy-compliant bags.

Madison Square Garden Company previously caused controversy in 2022 when it emerged it was using facial recognition technology to prevent anyone who works for a firm that is suing it from entering its venues.

The ban covered venues including New York’s Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, the Beacon Theatre and the Chicago Theatre.

 


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IQ 128 out now: Take That, Germany, Metal & more

IQ 128, the latest issue of the international live music industry’s favourite magazine, is available to read online now.

In the June/July issue, Gordon Masson goes behind the scenes of Take That’s This Life on Tour, and Derek Robertson charts the success of Switzerland’s leading promoter Gadget Entertainment as the company turns 30.

Elsewhere, Kerrang‘s Sam Law provides an in-depth report on the metal genre, and Adam Woods investigates one of the most robust music markets in the world – Germany.

Readers can also gain insight into the 2024 festival season, find out where some of the first New Bosses are today, and preview the forthcoming IFF (International Festival Forum).

For this edition’s comments and columns, Mamas in Music founder Mary Leay provides encouragement for mothers working in the music business, while MMF’s Manasvi Dethekar shares five takeaways from the association’s recent workshop in collaboration with Futures Forum.

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 from just £8 a month or click here to purchase your print copy.

Check out what you’re missing out on with the limited preview below:

 


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LGBTIQ+ List 2024: Priscilla Nagashima, DICE

The LGBTIQ+ List 2024 – IQ Magazine’s fourth annual celebration of queer professionals who make an immense impact in the international live music business – has been revealed.

The ever-popular list is the centrepiece of IQ’s fourth Pride edition, sponsored by Ticketmaster, which is now available to read online and in print for subscribers.

To get to know this year’s queer pioneers a little better, we interviewed each of them on the development of the industry, the challenges that are keeping them up at night and more.

Throughout the next month, IQ will publish a new interview each day. Catch up on yesterday’s interview with Pembe Tokluhan (she/her), founder and CEO of Petok Productions.

The series continues with Priscilla Nagashima (she/her), VP of engineering at DICE.


Priscilla Nagashima brings over 18 years of expertise in product, engineering and AI/ML across music, marketing, ticketing, payments and mobility systems. As an advocate for LGBTQIA+ rights and diversity in STEM, she drives inclusive initiatives within her product and engineering team at DICE. She holds an MSc in Software Engineering from the University of Oxford and is recognised for her strategic tech leadership and extensive public speaking engagements at global events like TEDx.

Tell us about the professional feat you’re most PROUD of in 2024 so far.
It was so cool working behind the scenes with the team at DICE to see some massive events selling out so quickly and smoothly on our platform – Primavera Sound, Sónar and several Boiler Room shows to name a few.

What’s your most pressing challenge in the industry right now?
Competing with bots, touts and ticket scammers. DICE has always focused on how we fix ticketing for fans with features – like our Waiting List and mobile tickets locked to smartphones – that are hassle-free for fans but a nightmare for touts. It breaks my heart to see people selling through unofficial channels, sometimes to their detriment. With the evolution of AI and more sophisticated software, the fight must continue.

“I am proud that my engineering leadership team at DICE has a majority female representation, with most coming from diverse backgrounds too”

Tell us about some of the work you’ve done in DICE’s Pride 365 Employee Community Group.
I have proudly and actively championed LGBTQIA+ inclusivity at DICE as the executive sponsor of our Pride 365 ECG (Employee Community Group). The group focuses on LGBTQ+ issues, policies, events, product features and community-building, with incredible people promoting inclusivity within the company and beyond. My work with them has been on coaching, supporting initiatives and pushing for change, helping make company-wide policies or product features happen faster to benefit our community.

How do you ensure engineering leadership reflects a mix of gender identities, neurodiversity, and LGBTQIA+ representation?
I come from a diverse background, having been born and raised in Brazil to a half-Brazilian and half-Japanese family. Being a queer woman of colour in tech also means I have fought, throughout my career, to do whatever was necessary to bring more diversity to the table in whatever position or company I worked for. I am proud that my engineering leadership team at DICE has a majority female representation, with most coming from diverse backgrounds too – whether in terms of gender, race, sexual orientation or neurodiversity. But as much as I have championed it and made it a topic for our agendas, the truth is that this was only possible by working closely with other teams, pushing for diversity in our talent pool and putting provisions in place to guarantee inclusivity and fairness throughout the hiring process.

“We all agree that bringing more representation and different voices to the table is wonderful, but very few out there are walking the walk on that”

How do you see ticketing technology developing in the next few years?
With the cost of living crisis, people are becoming more picky about how they spend their disposable income. Going out is expensive so it’s a matter of finding the right things at the right price. This is where I think the commoditisation of AI will thrive and become more popular but only the companies that think of fans and have amazing user experiences will stand out.

Name one thing the industry could do to be a more equitable place.
Invest more actively in the education and employment of people in disadvantaged communities. Overall, we all agree that bringing more representation and different voices to the table is wonderful but very few out there are walking the walk on that.

Name one queer act you’re itching to see live this year.
Billie Eilish. Brownie points if Lana del Rey joins her on stage for a duet, just like at Coachella.

“Being a queer woman of colour in tech also means I have fought, throughout my career, to do whatever was necessary to bring more diversity to the table”

Shout out your biggest ally in the live music industry.
Corrie McLean, DICE’s head of artist development programmes. A legendary human being, an endless fountain of energy and the real queen of queers at DICE.

Shout out any LGBTIQ+ cause(s) you support.
Massive shout out to Goal Diggers FC, a non-profit women’s and non-binary football club in East London that makes football accessible regardless of ability. I have been part of the club for over a year and can say it’s such an inclusive, open and supportive community, embracing people from all backgrounds. The club has its regular night out event in Hackney called Murder On Zidane’s Floor (MOFZ) – you’ve gotta look it up!

 


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Strength in numbers: How firms are diversifying the workforce

When the global live music industry began its recovery from two years of lockdowns, many organisations found that their workforce had been significantly depleted. However, as a business that has often been criticised for its lack of diversity, a concerted effort began to try to improve the makeup of the teams of professionals behind the scenes that help artists go on tour and perform at festivals.

Forward-thinking companies and organisations have embraced the concept that a diverse workforce helps deliver a healthier balance sheet, as it better equips operators to cater for artists and fans from all walks of life while acknowledging that different people have different needs, both in the workplace and at live music events.

“Think about the differently abled community or those who are neurodivergent,” poses Lindsay LaBennett, Wasserman Group’s VP of impact and inclusion. “From an employer, they need a space where who they are naturally is accepted and appreciated. So, if you are on the spectrum – say being social takes too much energy out – you should be able to come to work and not have to go to the happy hour, not have to participate, because you do your best work when you aren’t having to be social.”

A 14-year staffer at Wasserman, LaBennett has been working in her DEI role for the past four years, but her interest in inclusive business practices and equity-based initiatives dates back to 2016.

“We have a diverse roster – it’s not cookie-cutter music: we have a mix of people, and we need our staff to reflect that”

“For me, it was the Colin Kaepernick situation that caused an internal shift,” she tells IQ. “I wanted to be part of the solution for Wasserman when it comes to making sure we are advocating for communities and that we are addressing our own inclusivity gaps. I was doing this internally since 2016, but at the end of 2020, I created the role that I’m in now.”

Describing that development as “staff-driven and corporate stamped,” LaBennett recalls that various colleagues were calling for DEI to become a priority. “We had people across our business saying that we needed someone whose role was to focus on it 100% of the time. And our leadership, Casey Wasserman, completely agreed.”

Such employee-driven demand is a common thread among the companies IQ spoke to for this report. “AEG worldwide has made DEI a corporate priority, appointing a DEI director that leads its efforts,” explains Samantha Fernandez, VP of global partnerships at AEG Presents. “However, it has had a number of employee network groups for far longer, which have highlighted and created spaces for various employees.” Those network groups include Pride AEG, of which Fernandez is the executive sponsor.

But it’s not just the multinational corporations that are making moves to improve the makeup of their staff, as Hilary Walsh, general manager at London-based agency Pure Represents, attests. “This is our third year in operation, and we are now a team of 15 people,” she states. “Angus [Baskerville], and his wife, Jodie Harkins, who set the company up, worked very hard on their planning for diversity in the workplace because we have a diverse roster – it’s not cookie-cutter music: we have a mix of people, and we need our staff to reflect that. As a result, we really strived to hire people from different backgrounds, so that when our artists come into our office, they’re able to see a diverse bunch of people who are working on their behalf.”

“Our success is how our fans and how our communities look at us”

She adds, “We’re not just diverse in terms of ethnicity, it’s in ages as well. We have an intern who came to us through Small Green Shoots and she’s brilliant. She’s 22 years old, so she has her finger on the pulse, and she comes at it from a completely different background and train of thought. That diversity in age is something that we actively look for when we recruit, because if we all like the same kind of music, nothing’s going to change.”

Multiple Benefits
Fostering diversity in the workplace doesn’t just help with A&R activities, as the positive impact it can have when dealing with consumers is having a major effect on hiring practices for those sectors that are fan-facing.

Launched in late 2015 with an employee count of just six people, Oak View Group’s impact on the global venues business has been nothing short of seismic, with a current headcount of close to 50,000, “And we’re on our way to 60,000 probably before the end of the year,” says chief people & culture officer, Ann Jackson.

Stressing the importance of having a diverse workforce, Jackson says, “Our success is how our fans and how our communities look at us. We can build buildings or manage buildings or provide services, but if the people think we don’t look like or represent their community, or don’t share the same feel or vibe, that’s not success. So, it’s important to our business model that we can get out there and be very intentional on our hiring process.”

“The language that we use in job postings and adverts has become more crucial than ever”

That sentiment is echoed by others in the venues sector. “We have a really strong local presence in the cities where we operate, with the majority of our staff coming from the immediate area,” says Lee Bayman, ASM Global’s HR director for Europe. “We’re going through a process of building our talent team at the moment, and what I hear in a lot of the interviews is that the candidates are existing customers, which is super positive, especially as I know that our existing employees also continue to be customers at our venues.”

He notes that ASM Global is currently updating its systems and processes to help with recruitment, with DEI being central to those manoeuvres. “There’s a lot of underground work that we need to do, and it’s not glamourous, but it’s essential to provide us with the tools that we need to then go on to the likes of social media to help with our recruitment drives,” he explains.

Elsewhere, Bayman says that advertising in trans publications and Pride magazines is helping broaden the search for new employees. “I don’t think we particularly struggle to get the message out in this industry, as live events are an open door to everyone. But the language that we use in job postings and adverts has become more crucial than ever, as we try to give people a feeling of what the culture is at ASM Global.”

Noting that Pure Represents uses specialist recruitment consultants, Walsh says the company also relies on trade publications to communicate about job vacancies.

“We’re always mining for where else we can find people: What are their locations? What other organisations can we get into partnership with?”

“We will advertise in the usual suspects of IQ Magazine and Music Week to reach a target bunch of people that we know want to work in music. If I put an ad in [the mainstream press], it might not achieve that goal,” says Walsh. “We’ve also had success advertising with Black Lives in Music, but finding all the right avenues is tricky, so we’re always open to hearing about new places where we can connect with a wider target audience.”

Walsh adds, “Being small and independent, we can choose who we work with to reach a diverse target audience. And that’s why working with a company like Small Green Shoots is really beneficial because they came with a whole selection of CVs to choose from.”

Detailing the OVG strategy for finding new staff, Jackson says, “Our head of talent acquisition and our head of DEI work very closely together to make sure that we’re always mining for where else we can find people: What are their locations? What other organisations can we get into partnership with?”

And with the venue conglomerate entering markets in the likes of Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East, education about cultural differences is hot on the agenda for the OVG recruitment teams.

“What really moves the needle is when we have our cis straight allies coming to the table”

“We need to make sure we understand the local culture by trying not to only have an American-centric view of everything,” stresses Jackson. “We try to make sure our Oak View Group values align with the local culture by talking to local people and engaging local HR professionals as well.”

Taking the Middle East as an example, Jackson says, “We need to learn what employee expectations are beyond the employment laws. From an employee experience perspective, we want Oak View Group to be a great thing in the Middle East, with our employees as our ambassadors, so it requires a lot of research and listening to our local partners.”

Education
DEI training is also becoming more important internally at companies working in live entertainment, and numerous specialist consultants and organisations now offer guidance and tuition on aspects such as inclusive language and behaviour.

For her part, Fernandez believes that training needs to start with senior management. “What really moves the needle is when we have our cis straight allies coming to the table,” she tells IQ. “When a boss starts using gender-neutral references to their partner, it really makes a huge difference. That’s started to happen quite a bit at AEG, which has a lot to do with these education programmes, and diversity training – when you highlight it, it really does start to make its way through.”

“Not everyone is a behemoth like Wasserman, but there are small things that we can all do every day to be more equitable”

Externally, Fernandez reports that AEG has developed a long-standing relationship with the LGBTQ Center. “Our ‘Pride at AEG’ group has spent time there in various ways, including a recent career session where we brought folks from all divisions of AEG to a moderated panel where young people were able to fire questions at us. The idea was to give them an idea of the various roles that exist in entertainment. I oversee brand partnerships – a job I didn’t know existed when I was younger. So we need to tell young people that there are careers out there for them.”

That scenario also rings true for Walsh. “Growing up, I never knew there were jobs like a music agent or a lighting designer. It would be amazing if we got to a place where career guidance at schools might involve real live examples of people speaking to the pupils: ‘I am an agent, and this is what an agent does.’ If we were able to engage with high-school-aged people, that’s where we could find the most diverse array of potential new recruits.”

In terms of outreach, LaBennett tells IQ that Wasserman Group has historic relationships with Black colleges and Hispanic-serving institutions. “We partner with them with the intention of bringing our expertise to the students, because having people [from the industry] visit college campuses is so much more meaningful than just reading books or listening to lectures or podcasts.”

But she is cognisant that the resources of the corporate world should be used to help the wider sports and entertainment sectors. “We’re aware that a lot of smaller companies don’t have the resources or budget, but we want to educate them and say, ‘Don’t let those be hurdles to being equitable.’ Not everyone is a behemoth like Wasserman, but there are small things that we can all do every day to be more equitable.”

“Our main focus is creating safe spaces for the LGBTIQ+ community to connect with each other”

Under the Microscope
With Pride month events filling the calendar over the next few weeks, companies operating in the live entertainment sector are acutely aware that the makeup of their workforce is being scrutinised by event attendees and the talent who entertain them.

Detailing some of AEG’s Pride initiatives, Fernandez says, “Our main focus is creating safe spaces for the LGBTIQ+ community to connect with each other – and that also goes for our LGBTIQ+ staff and allies.

“AEG is an official sponsor of LA Pride, and we have a quite a large presence there. And then we do various internal events throughout the year. Last year, for instance, we screened a documentary by the Trevor Project and had a Q&A afterwards.”

However, noting that it can be difficult for some people to talk about their identity, Fernandez observes, “It’s not often that you’ll interview somebody and they’ll say, ‘Hi, I’m part of the LGBTIQ+ community.’ That’s a really interesting challenge – how to ensure we are casting a wide net when it comes to hiring, as it relates to the LGBTIQ+ community, but still wanting to protect people’s identity if they want it protected.”

“I think folks are expecting some kind of sort of visible commitment to diversity”

When it comes to recruitment, ASM’s Bayman observes that job candidates are more assertive than ever, asking probing questions of HR professionals in terms of DEI policies, sustainability, and staff support structures.

“It’s important to use the recruitment process to help people understand what your company culture is, but you also need to be prepared to be transparent and honest about what their role might be, both when it’s crazily busy and when it’s a quiet day, otherwise people start working for you and the reality is nowhere near what they might have expected,” he says.

Homing in on the kinds of proactive elements that can entice people from all walks of life to consider live music as a career path, Fernandez says, “I can speak mostly to the LGBTIQ+ community, of which I am a part. I think folks are expecting some kind of sort of visible commitment to diversity, both in the events that we do and the lineups that we book.

“There was a lot of press that came out of Coachella this year about the number of female queer artists, which was amazing to see. For our employee base, those kinds of things bring us a lot of, for lack of a better word, pride.”

“In the time that I’ve been at AEG, the leave policy for a non-carrying parent, and for a carrying parent more than tripled in both cases”

Fernandez applauds her employer for listening and reacting to the needs of staff. “In the time that I’ve been at AEG, the leave policy for a non-carrying parent, and for a carrying parent more than tripled in both cases. For somebody who is in a same-sex partnership, and who has both carried children and been a non-carrying parent, it really made a huge difference for our family.”

At Wasserman, LaBennett comments, “In my experience, what people need from their employer is to be able to show up authentically and to have a space where they feel a sense of belonging – they want to see other people that look like them. Imagine having a disability and when you come to work you see someone else with that same disability: there’s an instant connection and instant community. Whether you are Black, Hispanic, Asian, part of the queer community, you want to see people who are walking your walk.”

Results
While endeavouring to build truly diverse teams is crucial to 21st-century commerce, establishing protocols to measure company progress can be a difficult proposition.

“We do employee testimonials to ask how they feel about new things we implement. So we’ll check-in with people three months down the line to gauge opinions as a kind of measure,” says Jackson of some of OVG’s efforts to track DEI results.

“At the end of the day, if we’re not making a difference, what are we doing?”

“We attach it to competencies within our performance management. Have we seen an increase in our hiring? Have we seen diversity improvement among suppliers coming to work at OVG? So, where we have data, we collect it to figure out ‘is this good enough for us?’ To be honest, so far, it’s not, but we’re giving ourselves grace because we know that we are committed to it.”

Fernandez notes that AEG carries out attitude-based surveys, quizzing staff if they feel connected to the work environment and if they feel their identity is being celebrated. Meanwhile, the company’s DEI and HR teams calculate changes in workforce demographics on an annual basis.

For a smaller company like Pure Represents, results are easier to assess. “We just need to look around the office to see the results,” says Walsh. “We heavily promote inclusion as one of Pure’s fundamental principles. So, when we have A&R meetings, for example, we invite marketing, we invite the intern, and everyone is encouraged to share their thoughts on the artists that we’re talking about. You can do that when you’re 15 people. If you’re in an office of 200 people, you may have less of a voice.”

Agreeing on the importance of monitoring progression in building diverse teams, LaBennett says, “We’re constantly challenging ourselves to come up with creative [key performance indicators] and metrics because, at the end of the day, if we’re not making a difference, what are we doing?”

“In order to get your bonus or to get promoted, there’s a DEI behaviour that we’re looking for”

One Wasserman-related yardstick she points to involves its college music business programme. “It boils down to whether we are able to hire the students: Did they secure an internship? After they secured an internship, were they offered full-time employment? If we’re able to say Wasserman hired eight interns, and of those eight, four of them are returning and two of them are getting full-time jobs, that’s a metric that matters.”

Indeed, in a move designed to ensure that those results continue to improve, Wasserman has integrated DEI participation into every employee’s performance review. “In order to get your bonus or to get promoted, there’s a DEI behaviour that we’re looking for,” explains LaBennett.

“That might be something as simple as working with a Black-owned caterer when you’re hosting an event. Or if you are going to go speak to college students, making sure you include people that are neurodivergent. There has to be some sort of element of your work that is equitable and inclusive.”

Challenges
While real strides are being taken across the live music entertainment business to fill vacancies with individuals from marginalised groups, the task facing recruiters is not without its difficulties.

OVG’s Jackson comments, “Underrepresented people, whatever group they’re part of, want to be valued. It’s our task to understand what is important to them, whether it’s through their culture or religion or whatever group they’re part of, and we need to show a value to that, rather than discount them or being deaf to them.

“This industry has historically been led by white males – and it still is – but the employees we’re hiring now need to be given the confidence that [they] will one day be the industry’s leaders. We want them to be leaders in 15, 20 years, and we will try to put things in place to let them see that we’re supporting that for real and that they have a long-term home here.”

“Being able to stick with it is crucial, because results are not immediate”

Considering career progression, LaBennett flags up staff retention as an ongoing battle. “It’s hugely important because career growth usually comes when you’ve been here for a while, then you get elevated to senior director or vice president. But, if we’re not able to retain that talent in the first place, that’s going to negatively impact our diversity ambitions.”

LaBennett also highlights empathy fatigue as a real challenge in the drive to embrace DEI initiatives. “In 2020, the world was revved up about the need to be more equitable and the need to help certain communities,” she recalls.

“Basically, we’re talking about biases – race and gender and sexuality and religion in the workplace – and 15 years ago, we weren’t doing that. Matter of fact, we were consciously staying away from it.

“Being able to stick with it is crucial, because results are not immediate. With DEI work, we’re sowing seeds and then we’re watering the seeds and then getting the sun to come in. But we won’t bear that fruit anytime soon.”

Work in (Good) Progress
As companies throughout the sector meet potential new employees who fully expect favourable DEI terms – often before they even agree to attending a job interview, those key policies are becoming essential throughout the industry, as suppliers and contractors are also being urged to step up their game.

“The bottom line is the more diverse a team you have, the more diverse the clients you’re going to attract”

“We have, like, a very robust supplier diversity programme here in the States,” Oakview Group’s Jackson reveals. “We gather data on suppliers, we measure that, and we set goals on how we want to grow, year over year.”

Pure’s Walsh observes, “At interview level, we find that potential employees often have read the ‘people and planet’ section on our website, where we outline our policies on diversity and sustainability. They also take a keen interest in our links to Earth Percent, Small Green Shoots and Black Lives in Music, the interviewee looks at the company holistically and its culture – it’s no longer just about the salary offered.”

LaBennett states, “The bottom line is the more diverse a team you have, the more diverse the clients you’re going to attract. If you go to a music festival right now, you’re not seeing one kind of person: you’re seeing a myriad of people from different backgrounds. If we aren’t recog- nising that those are the ultimate people that our artists are trying to reach, then we’re failing.”

Walsh concludes, “Every day is a school day – there’s constantly new challenges, and what worked last week might no longer work this week. But so long as everyone is open to that, and open to learning, then I think we’re going in the right direction.”

 


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ABBA Voyage team ‘in talks’ for Elvis virtual show

The Swedish entertainment firm that helped bring ABBA Voyage to life is reportedly in talks to revive Elvis Presley in hologram form for live shows.

The Financial Times reports that Pophouse Entertainment, whose co-founder is ABBA’s Björn Ulvaeus, has engaged in discussions with Sony Music, which owns the rights to Presley’s work, and investment company Authentic Brands Group, owner of the singer’s image and likeness.

Ulvaeus teased the potential agreement at a conference in Germany earlier this month, saying: “I would like to see the young Elvis come alive again.”

Pophouse, Sony and ABG declined to comment on the report, which claims the talks have focused on a commercial partnership rather than a sale of the music rights or IP, as opposed to the recent deal that saw Kiss sells the rights to their name, music, image and likeness to Pophouse. The firm has confirmed plans for a Kiss avatar show in 2027, along with a biopic and themed experience.

Presley, who died in 1977 aged 42, was introduced to a new generation in 2022 via the smash-hit big screen biopic Elvis, directed by Baz Luhrmann.

A separate production, Elvis Evolution, is due to launch in London this November

A separate production, Elvis Evolution – a collaboration between Elvis Presley Enterprises, Authentic Brands Group and immersive specialist Layered Reality (LR) – is due to launch in London this November, with further stops planned in Las Vegas, Berlin and Tokyo.

The virtual concert will feature “a life sized digital Elvis” who will “share his most iconic songs and moves for the very first time on a UK stage”, made possible thanks to LR’s “unique blend of technology, augmented reality, theatre, projection and multi-sensory effects”.

A previous show, Elvis In Concert: Live On Screen, toured UK arenas in 2016. The concert experience, which was promoted by Kennedy Street and AAA in conjunction with Elvis’ estate, featured archive performance footage of Presley on video screens, accompanied live on stage by The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. The production returned to The O2 in London last year.

ABBA Voyage, which blends the virtual and physical worlds, has sold more than two million tickets since launching at the demountable 3,000-cap ‘ABBA Arena’ in 2022. Producer Svana Gisla gave an insight into the show during  Touring Entertainment Live (TEL) at this year’s ILMC.

 


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Coming out: IQ’s Pride Takeover edition arrives

IQ 127, the latest issue of the international live music industry’s favourite magazine, is available to read online now.

The May/June 2024 issue marks the fourth annual Pride takeover edition, supported again by Ticketmaster.

At the forefront of the issue is the LGBTIQ+ List, announced yesterday, which profiles 20 queer pioneers making an impact in the international live music business and beyond.

Issue 127 also sees the return of the Loud & Proud playlist and feature, in which our agency partners spotlight 12 queer stars to note.

Elsewhere, Pride editor Lisa Henderson profiles LGBTIQ+ List finalist and ASM Global heavyweight Anna Sjölund, charting the trajectory of her 25 years in the business.

Meanwhile, Gordon Masson talks to executives about putting diversity, equality and inclusion strategies into practice in the live music industry.

For this edition’s columns and comments, Zoe Maras shares her experience of being asexual in the industry and RuPaul’s Drag Race star Alaska Thunderfuck 5000 details the ramifications of proposed anti-drag and LGBTIQ+ legislation in the United States.

Beyond the Pride-specific content, DJ Mag editor Carl Loben examines the trends shaping the global electronic music scene and Adam Woods visits some of the diverse territories that make up the vibrant, ever-expanding Latin American tour circuit.

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 from just £8 a month – or check out what you’re missing out on with the limited preview below:

 


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LGBTIQ+ List 2024: This year’s queer pioneers unveiled

IQ Magazine has revealed the LGBTIQ+ List 2024 – the fourth annual celebration of queer professionals who make an immense impact in the international live music business.

The list is once again the centrepiece of IQ’s annual Pride edition, sponsored by Ticketmaster, which is now available to read online and in print for subscribers.

The 20 individuals comprising the LGBTIQ+ List 2024 – as nominated by our readers and verified by our esteemed steering committee – are individuals that have gone above and beyond to wave the flag for an industry that we can all be proud of.

The fourth instalment comprises agents, promoters, venue directors, bookers, consultants, sustainability experts, talent buyers, managers and sound engineers from across the world.

In alphabetical order, the LGBTIQ+ List 2024 is:

Anna Sjölund, EU programming director, ASM Global (SE)
Ary Maudit, sound engineer/producer, RAK Studios/Strongroom/Saffron Records (UK)
Buğra Davaslıgıl, senior talent buyer, Charmenko (TR)
Caterina Conti, operations manager, 432 Presents (UK)
Chris May, general manager, BC Place Stadium (CA)
Dustin Turner, music marketing agent, music touring, CAA (US)
Emma Davis, general manager/agent, One Fiinix Live (UK)
Gwen Iffland, senior marketing & PR manager, Wizard Live (DE)
Jason Brotman, founder, Five Senses Reeling (US)
Joona Juutilainen, Booking Assistant, Fullsteam Agency (FI)
Luke Mulligan, director, Circa 41 (AU)
Paul Lomas, booker, WME (UK)
Pembe Tokluhan, production/founder/diversity consultant, Petok Productions (UK)
Priscilla Nagashima, VP of engineering, DICE (UK)
Rhys France, corporate & private events booker, CAA (UK)
Rivca Burns, acting head of music, Factory International (UK)
Ross Patel, green impact consultant & board member, LIVE/MMF (UK)
Sam Oldham, venue director, The O2 (UK)
Sam Booth, director of sustainability, AEG Europe (UK)
Zoe Maras, founder & artist services, Joyride Agency (NZ)

Throughout Pride Month (June), IQ will be publishing full-length interviews with each person on the LGBTIQ+ List 2024.

However, subscribers can read the full Pride edition now. Click here to subscribe to IQ from just £8 a month – or see what you’re missing out on with the limited preview below.

Check out previous Pride lists from 2023, 2022 and 2021.

 


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Coldplay to premiere Buenos Aires concert on Veeps

Coldplay’s Music of the Spheres: Live at River Plate concert film is to have its streaming premiere on Live Nation’s Veeps platform.

Filmed during the band’s sold out, 10-night run at Buenos Aires’ River Plate stadium, the 70,000-cap show in Argentina on 28 October 2022 was screened in thousands of cinemas across more than 80 countries, marking the first ever live worldwide cinema broadcast of a concert from Latin America.

According to Boxoffice Pro, the original broadcast grossed more than $8.4 million at the box office, charting at No.1 in Argentina, Chile, Mexico and the Netherlands.

Coldplay’s 10-night sellout run at the stadium set a new national record, which previously belonged to Roger Waters, who played nine shows at the legendary “Monumental” venue in March 2012 during his The Wall Live tour.

Launched in 2018 by Good Charlotte’s Joel and Benji Madden, Veeps has streamed performances to millions of viewers worldwide for thousands of artists

Veeps will air the film on Saturday 11 May at 12pm PT/8pm BST. The production, which features remixed and remastered sound and visuals captured by BAFTA-winning director Paul Dugdale using 30 cameras, racing drones and 360° filming techniques, will be free to view as a live airing and available on-demand for audiences to rent after the live broadcast for $3.99.

Launched in 2018 by Good Charlotte’s Joel and Benji Madden, Veeps has streamed performances to millions of viewers worldwide for thousands of artists including Billie Eilish, Bob Dylan, Brandi Carlile, Chris Stapleton, Foo Fighters and Kings of Leon. Live Nation acquired a majority stake in the service in 2021.

The Music of the Spheres trek could see Coldplay become the first band to gross $1 billion from a single tour. At last count it had earned $810.9m, having been attended by 7.66 million fans. This June, the group will become the first act to headline Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stage five times. They previously topped the bill in 2002, 2005, 2011 and 2016. The date will mark the band’s only European festival appearance of the year.

 


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CTS Eventim secures TikTok ticketing partnership

Pan-European live entertainment company CTS Eventim has become the latest ticketing giant to launch a global partnership with TikTok.

A new ticketing feature, which will enable fans to discover tour dates and buy tickets through CTS from within the TikTok platform, is available now in Germany, with rollout in other markets set to begin shortly.

“We are very excited to launch this new partnership in Germany, where Eventim holds a strong position in the ticketing market,” says TikTok’s global music partnership development lead Michael Kümmerle. “We want to give artists the opportunity to promote their live dates and drive ticket sales through great partners like Eventim, and we look forward to bringing this opportunity to artists all over the world in the near future.”

“Artists gain incredible reach through the TikTok platform… This new partnership will allow them to translate that reach into an effective new marketing channel”

Any Certified Artist on TikTok in participating countries can select CTS Eventim under the “Add link” option before posting a video and can then search for any event on CTS  and select “Add to video” to add the link. Once creators share their video, TikTok users will see a “Get Tickets” button within the video description that directs them to CTS, where they can buy tickets.

The video app expanded its partnership with Ticketmaster last year to more than 20 new markets following the launch of the link-up in the US in 2022, and recently confirmed a link-up with AEG’s AXS.

“As a partner to artists and concert promoters in Europe and globally, we’re always looking for ways to enrich our services to them,” says CTS Eventim COO Alexander Ruoff. “Artists gain incredible reach through the TikTok platform – so we’re delighted this new partnership will allow them to translate that reach into an effective new marketing channel.”

 


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