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AEG’s Jim King: ‘Fans will expect more in 2022’

AEG Presents CEO of European Festivals Jim King says the live business will need to “up its game” in 2022 to meet fans’ raised expectations.

Though heartened by the success of the festivals that managed to go ahead in late summer ’21 following the Covid washout of the previous summer, the leading exec advises the bar will be set higher for the coming season.

“We must be careful,” he tells IQ. “The emergence from multiple lockdowns created a unique demand that is unlikely to repeat in the same way.

“Fans will expect more in 2022 than they accepted in 2021. We will see an increasing upturn in expectation from fans as the year plays out and they have been to more and more shows and there will be a need for the industry to up its game to keep fans attending and buying more tickets in the later part of the year.”

“For some artists and events, 2022 has a risk of being a hangover from the pandemic rather than the strong return the industry needs”

Highlighting the potential problems for tours and festivals over the next 12 months, King points to the number of headline tours rescheduled from 2020/21 into 2022 – an issue set to be further exacerbated by the ongoing disruption to the circuit in Q1 ’22.

“Many of the sales cycles sit on top of each other and in many cases, also sit on top of the festivals that the artist is also appearing on,” he says. “Ultimately, tour and festival announcements need to be carefully coordinated, but if an artist normally sells 5,000 tickets in a market per cycle, then packaging 10,000 or more tickets around a festival play all in the same market in one year is going to be a challenge, and some artists and events will suffer.

“At some point there is likely to be fatigue between fans and certain artists, resulting in some events experiencing lower sales and/or higher non-attendance. If not managed, then for some artists and events, 2022 has a risk of being a hangover from the pandemic rather than the strong return the industry needs.”

AEG’s flagship UK concert series, BST Hyde Park, was cancelled for the second year in succession in 2021, but will return with a bumper line-up this summer. The London-based festival is to take place across two weeks from 24 June to 10 July, with concerts from Elton John (24 June), Eagles (26 June), Duran Duran (10 July), Pearl Jam (8–9 July) and, in a huge coup, Adele (1–2 July).

“With the volume of shows in play, fans will not respond favourably if their expectations are not being met”

The promoter’s All Points East staple was able to take place in London’s Victoria Park last August and its 2022 edition is set over two weekends from 19-20 and 25-28 August with headliners Gorillaz, The Chemical Brothers, Tame Impala, The National and Disclosure.

AEG’s French festival, Rock en Seine (ReS), meanwhile, has swelled to a four-day format and will be headlined by Stromae, Tame Impala and Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds from 25–28 August in Domaine National de Saint-Cloud.

King has previously explained the company paused its pre-pandemic plans for new events in favour of focusing on rejuvenating established festivals. But as the industry gears up for its first proper summer season since 2019, he retains high hopes of a strong return.

“Overall, I am positive for the summer,” concludes King. “AEG has a fantastic series of festivals on sale with amazing headliners, but the ball is in our court to deliver great fan experiences, and with the volume of shows in play, fans will not respond favourably if their expectations are not being met.”

Read the full interview with King in IQ 107, out now.

 


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IQ 107 out now: Industry heads map the road ahead

IQ 107, the latest issue of the international live music industry’s favourite monthly magazine, is available to read online now.

In the January 2022 edition, industry leaders from around the world share their thoughts about the state of the industry and the recovery of the sector, over the coming weeks and months.

Elsewhere, the IQ news team looks back at the trends, deals, events and, of course, the Covid restrictions that made the headlines during 2021.

On page 34, IQ Magazine editor Gordon Masson explores the benefits that blockchain technology can offer the live music industry.

For this edition’s columns and comments, Wayne Forte details the process behind producing his critically acclaimed Mad Dogs & Englishmen documentary, and Richard Davies urges the industry to adopt a more strategic approach in its efforts to beat ticket touts.

And, in this month’s Your Shout, Dan Steinberg (Emporium Presents), Rob Challice (Paradigm), Mark Davyd (Music Venue Trust) and Nick Hobbs (Charmenko) describe their best moments of 2021.

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:


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Leading live execs share their hopes for 2022

Industry leaders have spoken to IQ about their biggest hopes and fears for the live business in 2022.

With the Omicron variant looking sure to disrupt the touring calendar for at least the first few months of the new year, the next 12 months are clouded with uncertainty. But speaking as part of a special feature in the new issue of the magazine, a raft of the sector’s leading lights have shared their optimism that better times are ahead.

“The pandemic fatigue will lead to full recovery of the live industry, but it will come with its ups and downs,” predicts Lucy Dickins, co-head of music at WME. “It’s certainly going to be a crowded marketplace. There is a huge backlog of touring due to the amount of new artists we have been breaking through and also the artists that have released multiple projects in the world where being on the road was halted.”

Dickins’ clients include Adele, who returned with her fourth studio LP 30 last year and will headline two sold-out nights at AEG’s BST Hyde Park festival in the summer.

“I also think we’ll see more traditional songs and artist albums return,” adds Dickins. “We are already beginning to see this with a few big artists, as during the pandemic there were far less collaborations.”

The agent, who also represents the likes of Mumford & Sons and Mabel, expects technology to play an even bigger part in artist campaigns moving forward.

“TikTok is definitely having a moment with more artists using the platform, but I think we’ll see a rise in other mediums over time,” she says. “The metaverse has already made its mark on the music industry. I think we will see more in 2022. Roblox and Fortnite have millions of daily active users who have been living the avatar life for some time. I’m slowly getting my head around it all!”

“We will get through this, but it will be tricky for a while longer”

Following a “rocky” conclusion to 2021, CAA Emma Banks anticipates an even “rockier” opening to 2022.

“Clearly, the continuing lockdowns in various European markets are bad for business, and even when venues are allowed to remain open, we are seeing a high level of absence at shows, where people are no longer feeling confident to go out. So business is going to be tough because we are going to lose more shows, and that is bad for everyone,” she says.

“I assume that as the population gets vaccinated with a third shot, we will then see case numbers reduce and can get back to the place we have been in the last few months, with shows happening and everyone out and about again. We will get through this, but it will be tricky for a while longer, and the 2022 bounce back looks like it is going to take longer than we hoped.”

LIVE group chair Phil Bowdery, Live Nation’s executive president of touring, international, strikes an optimistic note.

“I think we’ve all learnt that the industry stands ready to deal with any bumps in the road, and the calendar looks great well into 2022 and 2023,” he concludes. “Whatever comes our way, I think 2022 is going to be a bumper year, and I can’t wait.”

Co-Head of UTA’s UK office Neil Warnock naturally has reservations regarding Q1, but is confident the business will burst into life come spring.

“The first three months of 2022 may be chaotic,” he advises. “The new variant has sent yet another curve ball through the whole of our live industry. We had hoped that the end of 2021 would see the start of a new normality in 2022. However, I’m hopeful that by April we’ll be back to business, and the business will be huge. We will have bursting box offices, and I look forward to a massive festival season from late May onwards.”

The full interviews will be published in the new issue of IQ, which is out later this month.

 


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Angus Baskerville to launch new indie agency

Angus Baskerville, the longstanding 13 Artists director and booking agent is moving to new independent agency Pure from 1 January 2022.

The move was announced in an email circulated this afternoon. Others CC’d on the email with a Pure Represents email address include Simon O’ Neill, Brooke Rayner, Hayley Morrison and Aimee Burn – all of whom were previously known to be working for 13 Artists.

Artist manager and Baskerville’s wife Jodie Harkins was also copied in on the email with a Pure Represents email address.

After working as an artist manager and in A&R at London Records, Baskerville joined 13 Artists as an agent in 2004, becoming a partner in 2010. In 2019, Baskerville opened a second 13 Artists office in London, at Tileyard Studios.

Speaking to IQ last year, he said: “I do believe the independent sector has the possibility of thriving in 2021 and beyond, as we’re required to modernise and refresh approaches to the way we work – and do that quickly.”

IQ has contacted Baskerville for comment.

 


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UK faces “devastating loss” over cancellations, no-shows

The UK live industry is contending with up to 50% audience no shows and widespread cancellations due to Omicron, a snap industry survey has shown.

The survey, conducted by LIVE, found that 70% of organisers were forced to cancel shows due to take place last week. Jessie Ware, Steps, Paul Weller, Coldplay and Lil Nas X are among the artists forced to cancel due to the virus.

Among the major artists that have this week cancelled remaining shows for 2021 are also The Charlatans (five dates), Supergrass (three), Stereophonics (two), Deacon Blue (two), Del Amitri (three), The Libertines (two) and Amy Macdonald (one).

Cancellations also extend into next year, with 50% of venues having already cancelled shows for January and February– some as many as 10 each – and more expected to follow, according to LIVE’s survey.

Cancellations also extend into next year, with 50% of venues having already cancelled shows for January and February

MØ and Brockhampton are among the artists that have already cancelled or postponed UK/EU tours scheduled for 2022 as a result of concerns around Omicron.

The trade association says that the widespread cancellations, alongside a high rate of audience dropouts, are leading to a “devastating” rise in lost income for the live music industry.

These losses are compounded by drastic falls in tickets sales, with expected ticket sales for 2022 live music falling by over a third in the last few weeks, the association adds.

Lucy Noble, National Arenas Association chair and artistic director at Royal Albert Hall, says ticket sales for the London venue have “fallen off a cliff in the past fortnight due to the climate of uncertainty”.

“Ticket sales have fallen off a cliff in the past fortnight due to the climate of uncertainty”

“We have already had a £20m loan from the government but we don’t want to accumulate any more debt,” she tells IQ.

Mark Davyd, CEO of The Music Venue Trust, warns that the position of the industry is taking “a dramatic turn for the worst”.

“Without swift action from the government the entire sector risks collapse within weeks not months,” he tells IQ. “We are currently organising the sector to make applications for all available funding, but more than 50% of grassroots music venues across the UK do not meet the criteria to qualify for the funding currently available.

“The government needs to act on VAT, business rates, retail, hospitality & leisure grants and additional restrictions grants without delay. None of this is new; the government did an excellent job of preventing music venue closures in the last 23 months. We simply need that support reopened to deal with the latest phase of the pandemic.”

“Without swift action from the government the entire sector risks collapse within weeks not months”

Commenting on the snap survey, a spokesperson from LIVE said: “These statistics paint a bleak picture for the sector which is why it’s absolutely vital that the government provides additional support immediately. We need urgent assistance to avoid the live music industry running into the ground, forcing venues to shut up shop and a Christmas of Misery with job losses, and freelancers and artists without work.

“We also face a double-whammy as next year’s sales take a nosedive, meaning organisers do not have the cash needed to cover soaring costs as they struggle to stay afloat while operating at a loss.”

LIVE, on behalf of more than 3,100 businesses in the sector, is now calling for urgent financial support from government, including:

 


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Paradigm’s Alex Hardee talks 2022 ticket sales

Paradigm Agency’s Alex Hardee has spoken to IQ about how the last two years of disruption has impacted on ticket sales for 2022.

The London-based agent, who represents acts including Liam Gallagher, London Grammar, Rag’N’Bone Man and Grace Jones, says the middle tier of shows is being squeezed by the bottleneck of live events.

“Hot things are selling and some of the new things are selling, but the middle stuff is proving problematic,” says Hardee, speaking in the latest issue of IQ Magazine.

“Stuff that’s been around a bit and maybe not having reactive records, that’s where the squeeze is. That’s always been where the squeeze is, it’s just more accentuated at the moment because there is so much stuff out there. There is a lot of touring going into next year so there’ll be a few misses, I think.”

Hardee, who discusses Gallagher’s forthcoming return to Knebworth here, was gearing up for a quiet start to 2022 even before concerns over the Omicron variant threatened to complicate matters further.

Everyone has announced and gone on sale further in advance

“A long time ago, we said to leave all our tours in Europe to April/May and miss the winter out, and that probably was the right move,” he says. “We hardly have anything going out in January and February apart from one-offs, but no European touring.

“We’re definitely further ahead of booking ’22 than we would be at this point in a normal year, because most of ’22 is all booked. Everyone has announced and gone on sale further in advance so there are a lot less slots left for festivals than there would normally be at this stage.

“The tours are all booked, all avails were held, so there isn’t much left to do for ’22 now, so ’23 will start. I don’t think they’re going to necessarily start looking at ’23 festivals that early, but they’re starting to talk about the headliners.”

Asked about the likely impact the shortage of slots will have on emerging bands, Hardee adds: “There’s a myth that if you go on at a festival, you’re going to play in front of someone. You’re not going to play in front of someone unless people want to see you. It’s not like the old days where people would just wander around, everyone knows everything [now].

“For newer acts, it probably takes a year before you get to a point where you’re ready to play festivals. You need to build your streaming, your tickets and your worth up before you get on them.

“You shouldn’t be obsessed by playing a festival for the sake of it; you’ve got to be obsessed with playing the festival at the right time, when it’s going to enhance your career.”

 


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Six60 to set new stadium record in New Zealand

–New Zealand band Six60 will set a new record for the most amount of NZ stadiums visited during one tour.

The tour will kick off in March 2022, visiting six stadiums including Rotorua International Stadium (cap. 34,000) in Rotorua, Forsyth Barr Stadium (30,700) in Dunedin, Orangetheory Stadium (18,000) in Christchurch and Sky Stadium (34,000) in Wellington.

The 2022 jaunt will also visit Napier’s Mclean Park (19,700), where the band will make history as the first act to play at the sports ground.

The 2022 jaunt will also visit Napier’s Mclean Park, where the band will make history as the first act to play at the ground

The tour will conclude with a concert at Auckland’s Eden Park (50,000), a year after Six60 became the first band to headline the stadium with their sold-out concert in April.

The Eden Park show was also the world’s largest concert since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ahead of next year’s tour, Six60 are encouraging fans to get their jabs to ensure they don’t miss out on next year’s dates, as vaccine passports will be mandatory for anyone in the country wanting to attend live music events.

The introduction of vaccine passports has divided the country’s live music industry, with some promoters insisting certification will be the key to summer festivals and others warning it’ll create a ‘two-tier’ society.

 


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Sónar announces Portuguese debut for 2022

Sónar has announced the launch of a brand new festival in Lisbon next year, marking the iconic brand’s Portuguese debut.

Sónar Lisboa 2022 will take place between 8–10 April next year and, in line with the brand’s flagship festival in Barcelona and its international offshoots, will celebrate “forward-thinking electronic music, creativity and technology”.

Like its other global counterparts, Sónar Lisboa will be split into Sónar by Day and Sónar by Night programming, held in several venues across the capital city including Parque Docas de Santos, Creative Hub Beato, Lisbon Congress Centre and more.

Sónar Lisboa 2022 will be held in several venues including Parque Docas de Santos, Creative Hub Beato and Lisbon Congress Centre

The lineup is yet to be announced but first-release tickets are on sale now, starting from £103.

The brand’s marquee festival Sónar Barcelona, which is majority-owned by Superstruct parent Providence Equity Partners, was called off earlier this year.

In lieu of the flagship festival, the brand has announced two new in-person festivals for Barcelona in autumn 2021, the AI and Music Festival and SónarCCCB.

The festival brand also has offshoots in Bogota, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong, Reykjavik and Istanbul.

 


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Live music down 64% this year – but will rebound in 2021

The money generated by live music ticket sales and sponsorships has fallen 64% in 2020, with nearly US$18 billion having been wiped off the value of the international concert industry this year alone.

That’s according to the latest figures from auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), whose new Global Entertainment & Media Outlook illustrates for the first time the economic devastation wrought by the novel coronavirus and subsequent restrictions on staging live events.

The Global Entertainment & Media Outlook 2020–2024 – whose forerunner, the pre-coronavirus Outlook 2019–2023, predicted average annual live music growth of 3.33% through 2023 – revises that figure down to 1.4% (2019–24) to reflect the impact of Covid-19.

In total, live music will generate a projected $10.4bn ($8.3bn ticket sales + $2.1bn sponsorship) in 2020 – down from nearly $29bn in 2019, and far short of the $30.4bn generated by recorded music this year, according to the report. The fall in live revenues has also helped wiped some $17bn off the value of the global music industry as a whole, as the chart below (which covers 2015–24) shows:

2020–24 live music revenues, PwC Outlook 2020

This year marks the first time since the great recording industry slump of the 2000s – when touring overtook physical sales as artists’ main source of revenue – that the recorded sector (including digital) has been worth more than live, reflecting continued strong growth in music streaming, particularly during the Covid-19 era.

Music streaming specifically is worth $20.4bn in 2020, with a predicted compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.32% up to and including 2024.

The global concert industry’s revenues in 2022 will be $29.3bn – over $300m higher than in 2019

Recorded music isn’t the only sector to have done well out of lockdown. Where physical experiences, such as live music, cinema and theatre, have been particularly hard hit by the downturn, home entertainment is booming, according to PwC, with video games (as previously noted by IQ) and ‘over-the-top’ (OTT) video – ie Netflix and other video streaming services – the chief “beneficiaries” of the Covid-19 crisis.

In the UK alone, OTT video revenue has “surge[d] by 18.6% in 2020, to £1.6bn”, the report notes, while videogame consumption is up 9.7%. “Overall, the video games industry is forecast for 9% growth this year, amounting to £5.2bn, and by 2024 the sector will be worth £6.8bn at a CAGR of 7%,” it continues.

But it’s not all bad news for live. Far from it: The 2020–2024 Outlook shows that live music will rebound in 2021, with worldwide revenues growing by 82.6%, to over $19bn, as concerts resume.

Mark Maitland, PwC’s UK head of entertainment and media, says a similarly strong recovery is expected in 2021 for other industries reliant on “in-person” experiences.

“Parts of the media sector have been hit very hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly in-person activities or those reliant on advertising revenue,” he explains. “This will drive a c. 7% decline in sector revenues in 2020, but in recent months we have already seen improving performance, and as such, we expect the sector revenues to return to 2019 levels in 2021.”

Looking further ahead, PwC’s numbers tally with previous predictions made by investment bank Goldman Sachs – another seasoned music industry observer – whose head of media and internet research, Lisa Yang, said at iFF last week she expects the live music industry’s recovery to be complete by 2022.

PwC forecasts “live music to bounce back immediately next year”

Similarly, the Outlook 2020–2024 shows global revenues of $29.3bn – over $300m higher than in 2019 – for the concert industry in 2022, with ticket sales having rebounded to $23.3bn, compared to $22.9bn in 2019.

Despite a ‘lost’ year in 2020, then, PwC’s analysts see consistent growth for live music in the years ahead, noting that even though the business has ground to a halt, M&A activity continues.

“With global live music revenue expected to grow at a 1.4% CAGR, despite disruption to the sector in 2020 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic there is much to gain from having a broad-based live offering,” reads the report.

“Providing more venues reopen,” PwC UK forecasts “live music to bounce back immediately next year from its growth loss this year”.

Highlighting how live businesses have embraced technology to connect with fans during the concert shutdown (giving the recent virtual Wireless Connect festival as an example), Maitland notes that industries which have diversified into digital are the ones best placed to bounce back quickly after the coronavirus threat has passed.

“Some parts of the [entertainment] sector, such as gaming and OTT video, have been beneficiaries during the pandemic, and we expect these to continue to prosper, with many ‘lockdown habits’ continuing far beyond lockdown,” he explains.

“For sectors adversely affected by the pandemic, this has brought forward some of the digital disruption prophesied to come years later, and it has reinforced the digitisation of the industry. This is reflected in [the fact that] industries that are forecast to claw back their lost revenue are ones being driven by, or have embraced, technology as a way to connect with consumers.”

 


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