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Capacity boost for AMG’s revamped O2 City Hall

Academy Music Group (AMG) has breathed new life into O2 City Hall Newcastle following a significant revamp.

The 95-year-old venue has benefited from a brand-new, state-of-the-art retractable seating system, major restoration works and enhancements in house sound and lighting production.

The multi-functional auditorium has increased its capacity from 2,135 to 2,600, while also offering a 2,000-cap fully seated option with improved comfort and sightlines.

“When we acquired O2 City Hall Newcastle back in May 2019, we knew that it needed significant adjustments to reinstate it to its former glory and get it firmly back on the schedule for major touring acts” says AMG’s chief operating officer Graham Walters.

“It’s a stunning room, one that has seen the biggest names in rock and pop over the last four decades. Investment in modern facilities – including the option to have an all-standing auditorium – had to be on the agenda to offer a flexible space, as well as keeping a seated configuration. This way, we can hugely extend the variety of live music and events to tour in Newcastle and make sure we preserve its future for people and the community to enjoy for generations to come.”

“We’re thrilled to be part of this next phase in the venue’s story”

Opened in 1927, the Grade-II-listed venue is one of Newcastle’s first dedicated concert venues, which also houses an original Harrison & Harrison organ. As part of its revamp, AMG has also installed new additional toilets and refurbished the basement bar and a new extra bar area at balcony level, as well as a brand-new LED ceiling-lighting system in the main auditorium, plus a significant investment in a full production install of PA and stage lighting systems.

“This development paves the way for many more iconic performances to take the stage at O2 City Hall Newcastle,” adds Gareth Griffiths, director of partnerships and sponsorship for Virgin Media O2. “We’re thrilled to be part of this next phase in the venue’s story.”

Upcoming shows at the venue include Florence + The Machine, Paul Weller, Foals, Keith Urban, Gary Numan, Michael Kiwanuka, Roget Daltrey, The Prodigy, Ian Brown, Kaiser Chiefs, Sigrid and Placebo.

O2 City Hall Newcastle is part of AMG’s portfolio of venues across the UK, which includes London’s O2 Academy Brixton and O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, among others.

AMG has also enlisted the support of Liverpool-based Adlib to co-design and install a high-end touring specification for its audio and lighting systems at the 3,000-cap O2 Academy Edinburgh, its newest Scottish venue


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The New Bosses 2021: Flo Noseda-Littler, Paradigm

The New Bosses 2021 – the latest edition of IQ’s annual celebration of the brightest young talent in the live business today, as voted for by their peers – was published in IQ 103 this month, revealing the 12 promising promoters, bookers, agents, entrepreneurs that make up this year’s list.

To get to know this year’s cohort a little better, IQ conducted interviews with each one of 2021’s New Bosses, discovering their greatest inspirations and pinpointing the reasons for their success.

Catch up on the previous 2021 New Bosses interview Age Versluis, promoter at Friendly Fire in the Netherlands here.

Born in London’s Waterloo area, Noseda-Littler was brought up around jazz and soul music by a family of entertainers – her mum is a singer, granddad a pianist, and grandmother a dancer.

At university, where she studied civil engineering, Noseda-Littler started booking musician friends into venues and festivals around the UK, and after graduating she started working under the wing of her cousin at Academy Music Group (AMG), which also provided her with a chance to work at Wireless Festival.

An internship at Brixton Academy followed, before, in 2015, she found herself a job as general agency assistant at Paradigm, where for the last three years she has been on several committees and task forces to bridge the gap between support staff and agency management.

You come from a musical family. What’s the first gig you can remember going to – and when did you decide you should pursue a career in the business?
My first memory was at 8 when we went to Party in the Park, Hyde Park. It was a magical experience seeing live music, and going to a festival for the first time with thousands of people.

What set you on your path in the industry?
At university, I fell into booking my boyfriend’s band. I started a database of contacts and soon managed to get gigs at cool UK venues and festivals. Something ignited in me and I knew I had to do this full-time!

Do you think working on the venues side of the business has helped you in your career on the agency side?
Working at Brixton and AMG gave me the building blocks to understand live shows, from promotion and ticketing to backstage issues and settlements. I got to shadow lots of different staff, which showed me the practicalities of how much it takes to execute a show onsite. It was so useful to draw on those experiences when learning the agency world and routing shows together.

“It’s been vital for both agent and promoter to be transparent and flexible in order to protect the longevity of the industry”

We’ve heard a lot about the closer collaboration between agents and promoters during the past year. What’s your experience of that been, and how do you see it benefitting Paradigm’s clients as the business reopens?
Promoters are usually the first to take big financial risks on a tour, which has never been more to their detriment than in the past 17 months. During these ever-changing times, it’s been vital for both agent and promoter to be transparent and flexible in order to protect the longevity of the live industry. In demanding less from our promoters in the short term, it supports the recovery and prospects of our clients’ live careers. We are all in this together and just want to see the business thriving again!

You’ve become one of the go-to people for younger staff at Paradigm. What advice would you give to other young people who are trying to break into the live music business?
Festivals offer a range of volunteering roles so it’s worth checking them out to gain experience and meet people if there’s nothing music related on your CV. Internships often involve being thrown into the deep end, but you shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions. What really gets noticed is an eagerness to learn and integrity of work.

“A bigger effort is needed across the industry to reduce waste, lower emissions, and protect the future of our planet”

Where would you like to see yourself in five years’ time?
Booking tours in an industry that has fully recovered and is booming once more!

The pandemic has been hard on us all – are there any positive aspects that you can take out of the last 17 months?
During furlough, I discovered a love of running and went on to complete my first half marathon. This new hobby has been a freeing and stress-busting tool for me, that I hadn’t been able to try in my old routine.

Mental health has been a hot topic during the pandemic worldwide which has filtered across the workplace. These unprecedented times have allowed us to make our well-being a higher priority and feel more comfortable in vocalising how we feel. I’m hopeful mental health will remain high on the agenda when touring returns to a normal pace. It’ll result in a healthier and happier industry!

As a new boss, what one thing would you change to make the live music industry a better place?
One of the most urgent issues is energy consumption. There are some great initiatives, like The Green Rider, but a bigger effort is needed across the industry to reduce waste, lower emissions, and protect the future of our planet.

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AMG announces 3,000-cap. venue in Scotland

Academy Music Group (AMG) has expanded in Scotland with the acquisition of the 3,000-capacity Edinburgh Corn Exchange.

A category B-listed building, the Corn Exchange – which under AMG’s ownership becomes O2 Academy Edinburgh – was built in 1909 and over the last two decades has become one of Edinburgh’s largest standing, multi-purpose venues. Its reputation for live music was cemented with a sell-out show with Blur in 1999, with performers since then including Foo Fighters, Biffy Clyro, Oasis, Coldplay, Faithless, Arctic Monkeys, Garbage, Grace Jones, Radiohead, Paulo Nutini, Pulp and Calvin Harris.

“We’ve been keen to expand our O2 Academy brand in Scotland for some time and we’re delighted to now be in Edinburgh,” says Graham Walters, chief operating officer of Academy Music Group. “It’s an inspiring city with a thriving appetite for music and culture.

“We see huge potential with this venue: it fits with our ethos of investing in heritage buildings, with the right capacity of 3,000 to bring world-class entertainment to the city. It also has a number of diverse secondary spaces, flexible formats and configurations that we’ll be looking at over the coming months to complement programming and events in the main auditorium.

Gareth Griffiths, head of sponsorship for O2, adds: “The new O2 Academy Edinburgh is a brilliant addition to our O2 Academy estate. It’s a beautiful venue and as entertainment begins to return this further demonstrates O2 and Academy Music Group’s commitment to enhancing the live industry in Scotland, one of the best places to watch music in the UK.”

“We’re delighted to now be in Edinburgh. It’s an inspiring city with a thriving appetite for music and culture”

Paul DeMarco, managing director of former owner Marco’s Leisure, says: “When Marco’s Leisure bought the Corn Exchange in Chesser 22 years ago, we started with a plan to be Edinburgh’s go-to concert venue and ran over 300 live shows, as well as welcoming three million visitors to gigs, conferences, banquets, weddings, exhibitions and parties, creating one of the busiest and most successful venues in Scotland.

“We are happy to pass on the baton to the top professionals in the live music industry, who will ensure it continues to play a major role in Scotland’s events industry for many more years to come. Marco’s will continue to operate and expand its leisure business.”

Edinburgh Corn Exchange becomes O2 Academy Edinburgh from tomorrow (1 September), adding to the existing UK portfolio of now 20 venues owned and operated by Academy Music Group, including Scotland’s O2 Academy Glasgow and London’s O2 Academy Brixton and O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire.

Academy Music Group has already invested in brand-new in-house sound and lighting production facilities at O2 Academy Edinburgh ahead of forthcoming shows, which include Declan McKenna (3 September), Tom Grennan (9 September), Chic and Nile Rogers (21 September), Yungblud (11 October), DMA’s (18 and 19 October), Rag’n’Bone Man (26 October), the Snuts (28 October), Bullet for My Valentine (1 November), Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes (23 November), Bicep (7 December), The Charlatans (21 December), Chvrches (13 March 2022), Jake Bugg (21 March), the War on Drugs (18 April), Gary Numan (9 May), Marina (17 May) and Beck (14 Jun).


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Academy Music Group, Ronnie Scott’s receive CRF grants

Academy Music Group (AMG), Ronnie Scott’s and London Venue Group (LVG) are among the eight arts and cultural organisations in the UK to receive grants between £1 million and £3m from the second Culture Recovery Fund (CRF) tranche.

Venue operator AMG, whose shareholders include Live Nation, will receive just under £3m (£2,981,431) to “help meet the core operating costs” of its 20 live music venues across the country, including O2 Academy venues in London, Leeds and Liverpool.

While world-renowned jazz club Ronnie Scott’s has received a grant of £1,272,631 to “explore streamed performance opportunities for emerging and established British musicians”. The club says it’s delighted that “the fundamental importance of Ronnie Scott’s” has been recognised.

And venue operator LVG, owned by Mumford & Sons member Ben Lovett, has been awarded £2,358,902 to maintain its venues Omeara (cap. 320), Lafayette (600) and recent addition The Social (250) during closure and “enable them to explore streaming options in the future”.

“We are overjoyed that we are able to ensure that all our members of staff can now look ahead to Christmas without the looming threat of redundancy, and to protect the extended Venue Group family; a team of bright, passionate, capable, industry professionals who we’ve been trying to support however possible since being forced to close our venues back in March,” Lovett wrote on Instagram.

“These grants will help the places that have shaped our skylines for hundreds of years and that continue to define culture”

“These grants will help the places that have shaped our skylines for hundreds of years and that continue to define culture in our towns and cities,” says culture secretary Oliver Dowden at the department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), which has been working alongside Arts Council England to disperse the fund.

“From St Paul’s and Ronnie Scott’s to The Lowry and Durham Cathedral, we’re protecting heritage and culture in every corner of the country to save jobs and ensure it can bounce back strongly.”

Elsewhere, in Scotland, 203 organisations and venues have received a share of £11.75m through the first tranche of the Scottish government’s Culture Organisations and Venues Recovery Fund, delivered by Creative Scotland.

“The Scottish government is determined to do everything within our powers to see the sector through this crisis,” says culture secretary Fiona Hyslop.

“This emergency funding will provide vital support to a wide range of cultural organisations and venues across Scotland currently facing extreme challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic. It has been designed specifically to help organisations cope with the immediate issues they are facing and to help save jobs.

“I am pleased to see such a wide range of organisations supported, from comedy clubs and theatres to galleries and production companies.”

See results from the first round of the UK’s CRF here.


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