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Spend, no-shows and demand all up in UK, say promoters

Leading promoters in the UK live industry say they’re experiencing mixed fortunes following the full reopening in England on 19 July.

As the sector launches into recovery mode, executives are reporting high levels of pent-up demand for many shows.

Denis Desmond, chairman of Live Nation UK and Ireland, says: “Artists, promoters, production and marketing teams are champing at the bit and ready to meet the demands.

“Thankfully our festivals happened, and we were very pleased with sales which proves that the demand for live music is still going strong. Now we’re moving into touring season and we have a busy schedule lined up for the rest of the year and into 2022.”

As the live sector prepares for what looks to be its busiest year ever from 1 January, promoters say the UK’s next challenge will be keeping up with demand given that much of the supply chain has yet to recover.

“We’ve got 18 months of touring coming up across the UK and all of the suppliers are going to be hugely stretched,” says Richard Buck, CEO of TEG MJR, the UK subsidiary of Sydney-based live entertainment and ticketing firm TEG.

“Artists, promoters, production and marketing teams are champing at the bit and ready to meet the demands”

Desmond agrees, adding: “Going forward there are still challenges including issues with the supply chain and many talented specialists have been forced to leave the sector, plus there remain complexities for touring in Europe post-Brexit.”

And as an autumn period of touring kicks off, the ongoing spectre of Covid-19 is a continued source of uncertainty for promoters who say the rate of no-shows at concerts is far higher than usual.

Buck reports “anywhere up to 50% no-shows, especially on postponed shows. It’s a little less if the show is taking place closer to the time when it was announced but at sell-out shows, there has been significant no-attendance”.

Buck believes the no-shows are down to an “amalgamation of low confidence, forgotten tickets and isolating” and predicts three to six months for the levels of attendance to go back to what they were pre-pandemic.

UK-based promoter and venue operator DHP Family is also experiencing high rates of no-shows and says it’s increasingly hard to predict attendance post-Freedom Day.

“[Attendance] varies by artist and how many times the show has been rescheduled etc,” says DHP’s director of live, Anton Lockwood.

“[There has been] anywhere up to 50% no-shows, especially on postponed shows”

“We’ve seen 20–30% on bigger shows. Typically smaller shows are less predictable; it can be 100% attendance or, if it’s the kind of show where the artist has been relying on their friends and family to turn up, it can be up to 75%. It’s all over the place.”

While refund requests are reportedly very low, most events are currently offering a refund to ticket holders who can’t attend due to a Covid-related illness on a discretionary basis.

“If it’s a rescheduled show, you’re entitled to a refund, the end,” says DHP’s Lockwood. “But there’s a debate about if you’ve got Covid, whether you’re entitled to a refund or we should just give a refund out of kindness.”

Fortunately, DHP has also not seen huge numbers of refund requests so far: “It’s not caused a problem but it is a worry because if you settle the show with the artist and then some of the refunds come in, you’ve got a problem.”

Buck says TEG MJR is being “lenient” when it comes to refunds but they are dealing with it on a case-by-case basis.

“We’re being a lot more liberal with refunds because we want people to buy in confidence when the market opens which is a slight double-edged sword,” he explains.

“2022 and 2023 sales have been disproportionately strong… probably 20-25% up on forecast”

“Previously, if you had a sold-out show it was sold out. Now, it’s a lot more difficult to settle on the other side because you’ve got refunds post-event,” Buck concludes.

But while Covid continues to cause operational complexities, Buck says the increase in spend-per-head at concerts is “dramatically up” versus pre-Covid and ticket sales for new shows have soared.

“2022 and 2023 sales have been disproportionately strong,” he says, “Probably 20-25% up on forecast.”

And with the threat of last-minute venue closures due to staff being ‘pinged’ (told to self-isolate by the NHS app) or contracting the disease, alongside similar worries with touring parties, many say recovery feels like a gradual process.

“We don’t know whether the shows are going to happen or not, whether the artist is going to be able to travel or they end up catching Covid,” says Lockwood.

“People assume it is all back to normal but everything is just much harder. It’s great to be back, don’t get me wrong, but the uncertainties have ramped up.”

 


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Sportpaleis: “We still have to reschedule more than a million tickets”

Belgium’s live industry has largely reopened thanks to the Covid Safe Ticket but it could be up to two years until it’s firing on all cylinders again, according to key venues.

This is partly down to the large numbers of ‘old’ tickets that still need to be rebooked – more than one million for the Sportpaleis Antwerp (cap. 23,001) alone – the Flemish Radio and Television Broadcasting Organisation (vrt) reports.

“We still have to reschedule more than one million tickets,” Jan Van Esbroeck, CEO of Sportpaleis Group, told vrt. “People prefer to redeem those already paid tickets first before thinking about new events.”

Esbroeck nods to Bart Peeters’s rescheduled Deluxe concerts at the Group’s Lotto Arena (cap. 5,218) which were announced last week. “You can hardly buy tickets for those new dates because the majority of them have been in the hands of about 50,000 owners for almost two years,” he says.

“It may take another two years before everything falls into place again”

Mike Naert, general director of concert hall Het Depot in Leuven, still notices a lack of trust and even a certain degree of fear among the general public. He mainly blames the communication of the government: “They keep blowing hot and cold at the same time. Do the vaccinations work or not? Is the realm of freedom here or not? Too much confusion is still being sown.”

Many smaller venues also speak of slower or fewer ticket sales compared to before the pandemic. Gilles Ledure, director of Flagey in Ixelles immediately took into account about 30% fewer sales than before the pandemic when the autumn announcements were made: “It is not yet the rush that everyone expected this autumn. It may take another two years before everything falls into place again.”

Jérôme Giersé from Bozar in Brussels added: “The public also decides more last-minute than before corona. Ticket sales are much more difficult to estimate these days.”

 


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Amazon takes palm-recognition tech to venues

Amazon is bringing its palm-recognition technology to music venues, starting with the Red Rocks Amphitheatre in the US.

According to AP, the e-commerce giant has inked a deal with AEG to bring Amazon One to the Denver venue, which sells tickets on AEG’s ticketing site, AXS.

Starting from today (14 September), concertgoers at the 9,525-capacity venue can sign up to connect their palm to a ticketing account by hovering their hand over a device.

Concertgoers only need to sign up once and then can use their palm to get into other shows and events at the venue. An Amazon account is not needed to use it.

It’s the first time the Amazon One technology will be used outside some of Amazon’s stores, where shoppers can pay for groceries by swiping their palms.

Concertgoers only need to sign up once and then can use their palm to get into other shows and events at the venue

Bryan Perez, CEO of AXS, says other venues plan to add the technology in the coming months but he declined to say where or how many. AEG partners with more than 350 stadiums and theatres around the world.

“Concertgoers can get to their seats faster with their palm than holding up their phone to an attendant to scan a bar code. Those who want to scan their palms will have a separate lane to enter,” says Perez.

“You don’t have to fumble around with your phone. Your hand is always attached to your body.”

Addressing privacy concerns, Amazon said it keeps the palm images in a secure part of its cloud and doesn’t store the information on the Amazon One device.

Users can also ask for their information to be deleted at any time, the company added.

 


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Twitter starts to roll out Ticketed Spaces

Twitter has started to roll out Ticketed Spaces, a functionality which will enable some creators to generate revenue from hosting live audio events on the platform.

The new feature follows the launch of Twitter Spaces, a feature that allows users with at least 600 followers to host live audio events.

Artists including Taylor Swift, Nick Jonas and Finneas have already used Twitter Spaces as a way to connect with fans through Q&As and meet-and-greets – combining elements of Clubhouse and Patreon.

Now, with the launch of Ticketed Spaces, artists will have the opportunity to monetise their digital events – which are becoming an increasingly viable revenue stream due to the pandemic.

Back in June, Twitter began accepting applications for Ticketed Spaces as well as Super Follows — which allows users to monetise exclusive and bonus content through monthly subscription fees.

It has now begun rolling out the feature to select iOS users, but the company hopes “to get it to everyone soon.” Among the requirements to host Ticketed Spaces include being over 18 years old, having hosted at least three Spaces within the last 30 days, and having at least 1,000 active followers.

Hosts will be able to sell tickets to their Spaces on the platform and set the price — which can be anywhere from US$1 to $999

Hosts will be able to sell tickets to their Spaces on the platform and set the price, which can be anywhere from US$1 to $999.

Twitter previously stated that it will take a 3% cut of creators’ earnings from Ticketed Spaces. But since the feature is only currently available on iOS, that means that Twitter will be subject to Apple’s 30% in-app purchase fee, so a creator will only see 67% of each ticket sale.

If a creator’s total lifetime earnings on Twitter — including Ticketed Spaces and Super Follows — exceed $50,000, then Twitter will raise its 3% commission to 20%, according to Tech Crunch.

Hosts of Ticketed Spaces will abe able to promote their Spaces by sending notifications to attendees as well as limit the size of their Space, which is not possible with regular Spaces.

Ticketed Spaces would also differentiate Twitter from its live audio competitors, Clubhouse and Instagram, which haven’t enabled advance ticket sales.

More about Ticketed Spaces here.

 


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Nordic music biz reveals Top 20 under 30 list for 2021

The fourth annual Nordic Music Biz Top 20 under 30 list has been revealed, honouring the ‘young forces driving the Nordic music industry forward’.

According to organsiers Nomex (Nordic Music Export), the winners were chosen by a panel of 15 judges from the Nordic music industry, based on “company growth, career path, recognition in the industry, influence in the industry in 2020, artistic development, innovation, concert revenues, sales, streaming, campaigns, radio and television publicity”.

This year’s Nordic Music Biz Top 20 under 30 list comprises:

Nina Finnerud, head of UK at Music Norway, commented on the list: “With the Covid-19 pandemic, we have seen that the recruitment of young people into the music industry is more important than ever.

“It’s crucial to show the new generation of managers, labels, agents, festivals etc that it is a safe and rewarding industry to work in and choose as a career. It is also vital to make sure the artists have talented people to work with them and look out for their best interest in the future.”

This year’s Nordic Music Biz Top 20 under 30 will be honoured with a ceremony during by:Larm festival in Olso, Norway, on the 30 September.

Nomex was set up to facilitate growth and development in the Nordic music sector, and is a collaborative organisation set up by Export Music Sweden, Music Export Denmark, Music Finland, Iceland Music Export and Music Norway.

 


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Viagogo sells StubHub business outside N.America

Viagogo has sold its StubHub business outside of North America – including the UK – to investment firm Digital Fuel Capital LLC for an undisclosed sum.

The sale was approved by the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and completed on 3 September, after secondary ticketing giant Viagogo was forced to sell its international business due to competition concerns.

Viagogo acquired eBay’s ticketing division StubHub for $4.05 billion in cash in February 2020.

According to the CMA, a merger between the two companies would have resulted in a substantial lessening of competition in the secondary ticketing market, leading to higher prices and limited option for fans.

“We look forward to sharing more details about the integration of the two businesses”

Viagogo assuaged competition concerns by proposing the “divestment to an upfront buyer of StubHub’s European and certain other international legal entities”.

The sale of StubHub International to Digital Fuel Capital now brings the merger investigation to a close, says the CMA.

The Massachusetts-based investment firm will add StubHub International to its portfolio which consists of Artifact Uprising, Boutique Brands, BuyAutoParts, Guild Brands, National Tree Company, Outdoor Adventure Brands, Renovation Brands, RugsUSA, and Seattle Coffee Gear.

“We appreciate the CMA’s role in bringing the merger to this conclusion, and we look forward to sharing more details about the integration of the two businesses with our loyal customers and partners very soon,” says Cris Miller, VP of business development, Viagogo.

“Viagogo is a website with a long and storied history of breaking the law”

“As the live events industry emerges from the coronavirus pandemic, robust competition in the ticketing market is needed more than ever and Viagogo will continue to take its essential role in the live events industry very seriously. Viagogo and StubHub will always remain committed to working with regulators, while providing safe and secure platforms for people to buy and sell tickets to events all over the world.”

In 2021 so far, Viagogo has been investigated for violating laws in countries including Austria, Italy and Australia.

Adam Webb, campaign manager at FanFair Alliance, an anti-touting campaign group, says: “Good luck to Digital Fuel Capital. For their sake, I hope they didn’t pay very much.

“Viagogo is a website with a long and storied history of breaking the law and that’s dominated by large-scale touts and non-existent tickets.”

 


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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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Eventim UK chairman to step down

CTS Eventim has announced that Nick Blackburn is stepping down from his post as chairman of Eventim UK on 30 September 2021.

Blackburn joined the British subsidiary of the pan-European live entertainment giant in June 2011, two years after it launched.

At the London-based ticketing company, Nick was responsible for Eventim’s business development in the UK and Ireland. He was previously chairman and CEO of See Tickets in the UK.

“I have enjoyed my time at Eventim which turned out to be longer than I originally expected,” says Nick Blackburn.

“I would not leave until there was a strong management structure in place which could take the company forward”

“I informed Klaus-Peter Schulenberg [CEO of CTS Eventim] of my intentions last March as by then I had introduced John Gibson and Martin Fitzgerald to the company, both now managing directors at Eventim UK, thus keeping my promise that I would not leave until there was a strong management structure in place which could take the company forward.

“I am now free to move on to consultancy work, to spend more time on an educational charity of which I am a trustee and complete some items in my bucket list especially in travel.”

Schulenberg added: “Over the past ten years, Nick has taken Eventim UK forward and strengthened its position in this important market. In addition, I would like to thank him for setting the course for the continued positive development of our company in the UK. I wish Nick all the best for his future.”

 


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Yourticketprovider moves into NFT ticketing

Yourticketprovider, one of the Netherlands’ leading ticketing platforms, will integrate a new NFT (non-fungible token) ticketing product called Digital Twin.

Launched by blockchain ticketing innovator, GET Protocol, the product will allow Yourticketprovider to create an NFT copy of every ticket issued without extensive integration or interruption to their usual business.

“Thanks to this unique integration with the GET Protocol we will help organisers to enter, explore and monetise the many opportunities of this new online space using NFTs, for example, a more secure secondary market, pre-funding events and selling digital merchandise,” says Bart Peute, CEO of Yourticketprovider.

“Also to a visitor a ticket is much more than a barcode and we now support the full visitor journey and experience offline and online.”

Maarten Bloemers, CEO of GET Protocol, added: ‘We are thrilled with this move, as we are looking to develop the NFT ticketing use case as widely and thoroughly as possible.

“YTP will help organisers to enter, explore and monetise the many opportunities of this new online space using NFTs”

“In Yourticketprovider we have a great initial partner for the Digital Twin product, showing that they are open to innovation. That’s a mindset we are hoping to come across more and more, as we show the world what a ticket is capable of.”

Founded in 2012, Yourticketprovider currently sells around 2 million tickets per year. The CM.com-backed platform sells tickets for major festival organisers such as Loveland events, the Zoo events and Kwaku Summer festivals.

Yourticketprovider is the first platform to integrate with Digital Twin, which was designed for existing ticketing companies who want to break into the NFT ticketing space.

GET Protocol has been issuing and optimising blockchain-registered tickets since 2016, helping to eliminate scalping, the monetisation of the secondary market and the possibilities of using tickets as digital collectables.

Read more about the possibilities of NFT ticketing here.


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