The decade in live: 2015
The start of a new year and, perhaps more significantly, a new decade is fast approaching – and while many may be thinking ahead to New Year’s Eve plans and well-meaning 2020 resolutions, IQ is casting its mind back to the most pivotal industry moments of the last ten years.
Following on from a strong year in 2014, the live music industry in 2015 continued to go from strength to strength, with fans once again showing willingness to spend money on concert tickets.
After the success of their first all-stadia tour, British boyband One Direction embarked on another mammoth concert tour, which came in at number two on the year-end charts, despite the departure of band member Zayn Malik two months in. The tour was the beginning of the end for the band, which went on indefinite hiatus the following year.
2015 was a busy year in the live business, notably seeing the birth of Tim Leiweke and Irving Azoff’s Oak View Group. It was also the year that the Robert Sillerman’s rebirthed SFX Entertainment began to run into some serious trouble…
2015 in numbers
The top 100 worldwide tours grossed more than US$4.7 billion in 2015, up 14% from the year before but falling short of 2013’s $5bn. Ticket sales were also up, increasing by 16% to 59.7m, again lower than the 2013 total of 63.3m. The average ticket price in 2015 was down $3.30 to $78.80.
Taylor Swift was the top touring artist of the year, grossing $250.4m with her The 1989 world tour. The singer generated nearly $200m in North America alone, smashing the previous record of $162m set by the Rolling Stones in 2005.
One Direction also had a successful year with the On the Road Again tour, coming in behind Swift with year-end gross at $210.2m and selling 2.4m tickets, the most of any artist that year. AC/DC made $180m in ticket sales on their biggest tour to date, with U2’s Innocence + Experience grossing $152.2m and Foo Fighters’ Sonic Highway tour totalling $127m.
2015 in brief
Live Nation takes control of Austin City Limits and Lollapalooza promoter C3 Presents, paying a reported $125m for a 51% stake.
Austrian concert organiser Arcadia agrees a new partnership with four German companies – Four Artists, Chimperator Live, KKT and FKP Scorpio – to found Arcadia Live, a new
Live Nation agrees a joint venture with Thailand-based entertainment firm BEC-Tero. The new company, Live Nation BEC-Tero, will promote concerts by Western, J-Pop and K-Pop artists in the region, a pursuit in which BEC-Tero’s concerts division is already a market leader locally.
The Agency Group acquires UK-based electronic music agency Futureboogie, whose roster includes the likes of Bonobo, Crazy P and Nightmares on Wax.
The state of Washington passes a bill to outlaw ticket bots in an attempt to clamp down on the computer software that often prevents humans from buying seats online for concerts and sporting events. The move brings the number of states that have banned bots to 13.
A group of artists including Chris Martin, Calvin Harris, Madonna, Rihanna, Beyoncé, Jay Z, Kanye West, Daft Punk, Alicia Keys, Jack White and Nicki Minaj launch a new streaming service called Tidal, which is described as the first artist-owned platform for music and video.
The O2 arena in London announces that it has sold its 15 millionth ticket. The building, which opened in June 2007, has consistently been the most popular live music venue in the world, with research conducted by Media Insight Consulting claiming that 30% of the UK population has attended The O2 complex at least once.
ILMC launches the International Festival Forum, which aims to help strengthen the relationship between event organisers and agents. The London-based event is set to feature partner agencies such as Coda, The Agency Group, Primary Talent and X-ray Touring who will showcase festival-ready acts to promoters from around the world.
Australian media company Nine Entertainment sells its live events companies Nine Live and Ticketek to Asian private equity firm Affinity Equity Partners for AUD$640m ($480m).
Sydney-based Soapbox Artists, which grew out of the Australian wing of Ministry of Sound, announces its merger with the Melbourne-based 360 Agency. The combined EDM agencies will be a significant player in the dance market, representing a large roster of DJ and producer talent.
Live Nation acquires a controlling stake in American festival Bonnaroo. Under the terms of the deal, current promoters Superfly and AC Entertainment will continue to programme and run the event.
AEG agrees an extended deal with America’s International Speedway Corporation (ISC), allowing the company’s AEG Live division to look at organising concerts at racetracks around the country. ISC owns 13 raceways, including such iconic arenas as Daytona and Watkins Glen.
The Foo Fighters cancel a number of shows after frontman Dave Grohl breaks his leg during a concert in Sweden. Despite a nasty fracture, however, Grohl makes headlines around the world by returning to complete the Gothenburg show, receiving medical attention on stage.
German promoter Deutsche Entertainment AG and its UK offshoots Kilimanjaro Live and Raymond Gubbay Ltd, have set-up a company to sell tickets for their British shows. MyTicket.co.uk will expand the MyTicket concept that has already been running in Germany for six months.
The Windish Agency and Paradigm Talent Agency agree a partnership deal to form one of the world’s biggest independent agency operations, bringing The Windish Agency together with Paradigm partner agencies AM Only and Coda Music Agency, as well as Paradigm itself.
Live Nation Entertainment forms Live Nation Concerts Germany with German concert promoter Marek Lieberberg to promote concerts and festivals in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
William Morris agent Sol Parker jumps ship to Coda Agency, taking Take That, The Prodigy and Rita Ora with him.
United Talent Agency completes its acquisition of The Agency Group.
Live Nation acquires venue and festival operator MAMA & Company, returning a number of former Live Nation assets to its portfolio.
Australian promoter Andrew McManus is arrested at Melbourne Airport on charges of money laundering and the importation of 300 kilograms of cocaine. McManus is one of five people arrested in Australia and the United States as part of an FBI investigation.
Disgruntled investors hit SFX with a lawsuit claiming they were deceived with false and misleading statements over the company’s privatisation plans.
Ebay-owned secondary ticketing platform StubHub launches in Germany.
Pandora completes a $450m takeover of specialist ticketing agency Ticketfly.
Several preliminary bids are reportedly submitted for EDM promoter SFX in addition to that from CEO Robert Sillerman, who bid to buy back the company for $3.25 per share.
SFX promotes former IQ new boss Sebastian Solano to CEO of ID&T North America.
Ex-AEG chief Tim Leiweke forms live entertainment investment firm Oak View Group with Irving Azoff.
Ex-Done Events chief Thomas Ovesen is named CEO of new Dubai-based live music company 117 Live.
Live Nation UK vice-president Steve Homer and senior vice-president Toby Leighton-Pope leave the company.
Who we lost
Mike Porcaro, bassist for Toto; blues legend B.B. King; John Gammon, Pollstar’s UK/Europe correspondent; veteran promoter and ILMC member, Paul King; Stage Entertainment’s project manager Sjoerd Unger; Live Nation venue chief David Vickers; U2 tour manager Dennis Sheehan.
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AC/DC tribute concert to take over ‘Highway to Hell’
Forty years after the death of AC/DC frontman Bon Scott, the band will be celebrated in a moving tribute concert on the Canning Highway, or ‘Highway to Hell’, in Perth, Australia.
The ten-kilometre stretch of road will be closed to accommodate the roving concert on 1 March 2020. AC/DC referenced the infamous road in their 1979 album ‘Highway to Hell’, the group’s last to feature Scott, who died in early 1980.
The tribute concert, which is set to take place on the closing day of Perth Arts Festival, will feature eight bands reinterpreting AC/DC songs from the top of moving semi-trailers.
Melbourne punk act Amyl and the Sniffers, indigenous Australian band the Pigram Brothers, Perth singer Abbe May, Japanese rock trio Shonen Knife, Finnish country band Steve n Seagulls and the Perth Symphony Orchestra are among acts confirmed to play the event.
The tribute concert, which is set to take place on the closing day of Perth Arts Festival, will feature eight bands reinterpreting AC/DC songs from the top of moving semi-trailers
Beginning at 5 p.m., the convoy of trucks will travel from historic, former live music venue the Raffles Hotel to the Fremantle Traffic Bridge, a journey made frequently by Scott in his youth.
The concert will also serve as a tribute to AC/DC’s ‘It’s a Long Way to the Top’ music video, which features the band performing on the back of a moving vehicle.
Fans are advised the arrive at the free-to-attend event at 3 p.m. to secure a spot.
Perth Arts Festival is taking place from 7 February to 1 March 2020 in venues across the city. New Zealand gothic folk singer Aldous Harding and US experimental rock band Yeasayer are among artists playing throughout the festival.
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Live Nation fined €15k over AC/DC refund dispute
The city of Seville has fined Live Nation €15,000 for failing to provide refunds for AC/DC’s Axl Rose-fronted show at Seville Olympic Stadium last May.
The gig, part of the European leg of Australian band’s Rock or Bust world tour, was the subject of a complaint by Spanish NGO Facua–Consumers in Action, which successfully argued the promoter breached Andalusian law by allegedly ignoring some ticketholders’ requests for refunds and closing the refund window after just three days.
Guns N’ Roses frontman Rose became lead singer for the 2015–16 tour midway through last year following the sudden retirement of long-serving vocalist Brian Johnson.
Andalusia’s performance regulations specify concertgoers are entitled to a full refund when a show is “substantially amended”
Live Nation had, explains Facua, previously promised to “refund the money of those who asked for it” without specifying a deadline. “Facua announced the company’s commitment on 26 April,” it says in a statement. “But, overwhelmed by the requests, the promoter informed the association by email on 1 May (a Sunday and public holiday, so Monday was also not workable in much of the country) that the deadline for processing returns closed on day three – an unexpected decision that [left] a multitude of users surprised and without any room for manoeuvre”.
Facua also says many customers were told simply “We regret to inform you that we have stopped serving the requests for reimbursement”, and that some “did not even get a response to their writing, despite having been submitted their requests before 3 May”.
Article 23.1 of Andalusia’s performance regulations specifies concertgoers are entitled to a full refund “when the public spectacle or recreational activity is suspended, postponed or substantially amended”, and provide for fines of up to €30,000 for violations.
IQTV: Andy Copping, Live Nation
Welcome to the second episode of IQTV, IQ’s new YouTube video series featuring revealing interviews and insights from some of the biggest players in the international live music business.
Following last week’s inaugural episode with Live Nation’s chairman of international music, Thomas Johansson, we continue our series of interviews commemorating the company’s 10th year in the business with Download festival booker and president of UK touring Andy Copping.
In an interview filmed at ILMC 28 in March, Copping talks advancing from regional to national promotion, the genesis of Download, the rise of social media marketing and and the “roll of the dice” that led to AC/DC’s return to the festival circuit…
Axl Rose and AC/DC: A “masterly first appearance”
AC/DC fans considering asking for a refund for their Rock or Bust tour tickets following the recruitment of Guns N’ Roses’ Axl Rose to replace out-of-action lead singer Brian Johnson may want to think twice, because the first reviews are in – and it’s looking good so far.
Rose, who recently played Coachella with Guns N’ Roses and will tour with a line-up also including original members Slash and Duff McKagan this summer, made his debut with AC/DC at the Passeio Marítimo de Algés in Lisbon on Saturday (7 May).
Michael Hann, writing for The Guardian, praised Rose’s “masterly first appearance fronting AC/DC”, and said that though he sounds more confident on the Bon Scott-era songs – Johnson’s tunes “are delivered just fine, but there’s a slight sense he’s being a little too reverent” – the new-look AC/DC is a “triumph” that “does exactly what one would expect, but rather better than one had dared hope for”.
“A rare downside”, said Hann, was that Rose, who was seated for the concert after having recently broken his foot, “look[ed] for all the world like a hard-rock Davros” in his black leather throne.
“This monster mash-up of classic rock megabrands [has the] potential to be one of the touring hits of the summer”
Rolling Stone’s Mark Sutherland agreed that on recent material Rose “seemed unsure of whether to stick to his own trademark wail or give it more Johnson-esque rasp”, but “still seemed to be reaping the rewards of what he has joked were his first-ever proper rehearsals”.
Sutherland compared the union of Rose and AC/DC to poorly received superhero blockbuster Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, writing that “this monster mash-up of classic rock megabrands avoided becoming the Batman v Superman of hard rock (ie., loud, flashy but ultimately empty); instead, the Lisbon performance hinted at the new union’s potential to be one of the touring hits of the summer – assuming Rose stays under control and AC/DC avoid any further mishaps”.
Fan response was, on the whole, positive (although that’s to be expected considering those who were there had decided against accepting a refund when Rose replaced Johnson): “Axl Rose has a lot of respect for the group and he has the voice for it,” 48-year-old Paulo Dias told Sky News after the show.
However, there were dissenting opinions: “Axl Rose is nothing like Brian Johnson,” said Marcos Vizoso, 44, who had brought his 10-year-old daughter to the show. “I wanted her to see the original band.”
Watch AC/DC performing ‘Shoot to Thrill’ from Saturday’s concert below: