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The world’s leading promoters & the 55 top markets they operate in.
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As the seventh-largest economy in the world and third in Europe after Germany and the UK, France is a crucial cog in the global touring machine, but it has its own strong character, too, with a mighty independent streak and a formidably strong domestic industry.
However, while France may be robust and staunchly individual, its promoters are not immune to the same themes sweeping through the global live business – the rising costs, the rising prices, and particularly the one that sends big events skyrocketing while the middle of the market struggles for lift-off.
“I think it’s a general trend that’s been seen in most countries,” says AEG Presents France managing director Arnaud Meersseman. “There are tentpole events and artists that perform extremely well; there are newer things that perform extremely well; and then there’s that whole middle area where it’s just a bog and things aren’t that great.”
“There are tentpole events and artists that perform extremely well; there are newer things that perform extremely well; and then there’s that whole middle area where it’s just a bog and things aren’t that great.”
Meersseman declares himself happy with 2023, citing Ed Sheeran at the Accor Arena, Lana Del Rey at the Olympia, and Blackpink at the Stade de France – the Korean giant’s only European date this year – as Parisian highlights. AEG’s Rock en Seine festival, meanwhile, took place on the last weekend of August before 150,000 people across four days, with Billie Eilish’s only French appearance, plus Cypress Hill, Florence + the Machine, and others.
But if 2023 represents the first full year back after the great post-Covid rationalisation of 2022, there is a further complication already priced in for 2024. The XXXIII Olympic Summer Games comes to town from 26 July to 11 August and has caused havoc in the summer calendar, with popular venues including the Accor Arena, Paris La Défense Arena, and the Stade de France requisitioned for sporting use.
The Olympics have had a big impact on festivals, too, with lengthy negotiations over the allocation of limited policing resources. “Most French festivals have either found a solution with the French police authorities or moved their dates by a week or so,” says Meersseman.
“Most French festivals have either found a solution with the French police authorities or moved their dates by a week or so.”
Live Nation France, in common with most of the other territorial offices of the same group, has had a heavy year of stadiums, with Metallica at Paris’s Stade de France, Red Hot Chili Peppers at Lyon’s Groupama Stadium, Beyoncé at the Stade de France and Marseille’s Orange Velodrome, as well as further mega-dates by Bring Me The Horizon, The Weeknd, Depeche Mode, and others.
As well as Lollapalooza in Paris – unconfirmed for 2024 at the time of writing – Live Nation operates the FBLO Festival in nearby Fontainebleau, I Love Techno Europe in Montpellier, and Main Square in Arras. Managing director Angelo Gopee says: “This year was a continuation of 2022, when we succeeded in making a lot of progress in the various areas of our business. The work we’ve been putting in for several years is now bearing fruit, and we’ve seen the huge success of the Lollapalooza Paris festival and the record number of concerts in stadiums.
“We are working with all our teams in the US, UK, and France to add shows in fast-growing markets such as Lyon, where we are now partners in the arena. We will also be running The Main Square Festival in Arras, which sold out in ‘22 and ‘23.”
“We are working with all our teams in the US, UK, and France to add shows in fast-growing markets such as Lyon, where we are now partners in the arena.”
As much as France is a market that means a great deal to global corporates – in addition to Live Nation and AEG, local French giants FIMALAC and Lagardère make their homes in Paris, around which the French live business revolves – it is also a country in which independence is, if not easy, then still conceivable.
“We have a very diverse network of companies and promoters – a lot of tiny companies and organisers working in the music industry,” says Cyril Bahsief of Paris-based promoter Öctöpus. “I don’t know how many we are, but we are kind of numerous, especially compared to a lot of other European countries. Live Nation and AEG are number one or number two, but the rest is very diverse, and everyone is getting along quite well, I would say.”
Among the larger, older indie hands are Alias Production, which cut its teeth on Eurythmics, The Clash, Lou Reed, and Peter Gabriel from 1982, and now has Tindersticks, Noel Gallagher, Archive, Mika, and Idles shows incoming this autumn; busy indie-rock specialist Radical Production, which has been on the scene since 1989 and in May staged Arctic Monkeys for two nights at the Accor Arena; and the big-hitting, Springsteen- and Hellfest-promoting Gérard Drouot Productions.
Needless to say, given the voracious nature of the corporate sector, many of France’s indies could easily surrender their independence at will – which isn’t to say they want to.
“I don’t think corporates can do everything, and there’s room for an independent like me to be successful.”
“Right now, I’m happy to be an independent,” Matthieu Drouot of GDP told IQ in January. “It’s not always easy, because you’re up against Live Nation and other corporate companies, and they do world tours and I don’t, but there is so much talent out there and so much audience. I don’t think corporates can do everything, and there’s room for an independent like me to be successful.”
France’s other national promoters include Because Music’s Corida Group, which includes Corida itself, The Talent Boutique, PiPôle and, since 2018, Super!, which promotes and produces copious shows (Slowdive, Calexico, and Jungle are all imminent) and festivals including the multi-venue Pitchfork Music Festival Paris, Villette Sonique in the city’s Parc de la Villette, and the multi-genre MIDI festival in Hyères on the Mediterranean coast.
With a self-evidently strong line in UK hip-hop, Öctöpus represents a powerful roster of French and international artists including Central Cee, Stormzy, Weyes Blood, AJ Tracey, Rejjie Snow, Joy Crookes, Dave, Pi’erre Bourne, Key Glock, and Quinzequinze, and also books and promotes the Chorus and Check-in Party festivals.
“At the beginning, when we were promoting those UK hip-hop shows in Paris or in France, we had the feeling that it was more British people coming over because they couldn’t buy tickets at home, and now these artists have succeeded in convincing the French audience as well.”
“For a long time, we’ve been working with UK hip-hop artists, like Rejjie Snow, and then Dave, Stormzy, Central Cee and all these guys,” says Bahsief. “At the beginning, when we were promoting those UK hip-hop shows in Paris or in France, we had the feeling that it was more British people coming over because they couldn’t buy tickets at home, and now these artists have succeeded in convincing the French audience as well. So even though we have a huge French hip-hop scene, the UK scene is very strong now.”
Among the swathe of industrious independent French promoters, many others merit a mention. In early 2022, Speakeasy’s Jean-Louis Schell teamed up with Paris rock venue Supersonic to create a new promoter, Take Me Out, with a focus on breaking fresh talent. Among the more established artists on its books are Kasabian, Passenger, and The Libertines.
Anthony Chambon’s Opus Live maintains a roster of more than 40 international and French artists including All Time Low and Enter Shikari and is also involved in the artistic direction of Slam Dunk Festival in Paris.
Allo Floride handles tours and events of mostly French talent (including Prince Waly, Molecule, and Mandragora this autumn) as part of a broader group that also includes management, publishing, venues and clubs (including Slalom in Lille and Sacré in Paris’s 2nd arrondissement).
Vedettes is a promoter and agency representing artists including Angel Olsen, Cate Le Bon, Kevin Morby, and others.
Vedettes, formed via the amalgamation of My Favorite, Kongfuzi, and La Route du Rock Booking, is a promoter and agency representing artists including Angel Olsen, Cate Le Bon, Kevin Morby, and others. Booker and promoter Junzi Arts represents a stable including Drag Race France, Woodkid, and Riopy.
Producer Astérios Spectacles has operated for 25 years on a diverse base ranging from jazz to rap to chanson, with Kamasi Washington, Nubya Garcia, Gabi Hartmann, Kae Tempest, and Femi Kuti on the books. It is a part of the Le Jardin Imparfait group, which also includes La Maroquinerie, Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord, and Le Théâtre de l’Athénée venues.
Base Productions, a longstanding booker/promoter launched in 1999, presides over a roster including Fall Out Boy, Fear Factory, Killer Mike, and Panic! At The Disco, while Pedro Booking produces and organises nearly 500 concerts per year for around 50 global artists, as well as organising events including the alternative Míréló Festival in Marseille and Roscella Bay Festiv al in La Rochelle.