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European promoters reveal plans for Covid policies

Live Nation, AEG Europe, CTS Eventim and DEAG/Kilimanjaro have outlined how they plan to approach Covid-19 entry requirements for live entertainment in European markets.

Earlier this week, Live Nation Entertainment announced that, from 4 October, it will require all artists, crew and fans to produce proof of Covid-19 vaccination or a negative test to gain entry to its US venues and festivals.

Days later, Live Nation representatives confirmed that it plans to do the same in the UK – which is fully reopen – as well as Canada, which last week opened to fully vaccinated Americans and permanent residents.

As for other countries, IQ now understands that Live Nation will take a market-by-market approach based on local governments’ requirements –many of which already utilise Covid-status certification for entrance to public spaces.

IQ now understands that Live Nation will take a market-by-market approach based on local governments’ requirements

It was also announced last week that AEG Presents, AEG’s concert promotion division, will require all fans in the US to be vaccinated from 1 October.

Additionally, Anschutz Entertainment Group – including Goldenvoice/Coachella, ticket agency AXS and AEG’s owned sports teams – will mandate that all employees working at their US offices have had the vaccine, with “limited exceptions as required by law”.

However, AEG Europe “will be adopting an approach that is appropriate to the prevailing conditions and local health department and/or legislative requirements in each market,” COO, John Langford, reveals to IQ.

The live entertainment behemoth has already implemented a number of measures at its landmark venue, the O2 (cap. 21,000) in London.

In line with the advice and guidance from UK and local government, ticket holders are required to present an NHS Covid Pass on entry to the arena in order to gain access.

AEG Europe “will be adopting an approach that is appropriate to legislative requirements in each market”

This week saw the London arena back at full capacity for the first time since March 2020, welcoming 34,000 people to two shows by Gorillaz.

The show was promoted by UK promoter Kilimanjaro Live, which is backed by Berlin-based DEAG.

Peter Schwenkow, CEO of DEAG, says the UK is “by far the best country to promote shows at the moment,” but that the company has to handle different restrictions in all its territories, which includes Germany, Switzerland, the UK and the Republic of Ireland.

“It very much depends on local authorities: For example, Bavaria is different to Berlin and Zurich different to Geneva,” he explains.

“Denmark is partly open, the rest of Scandinavia is currently still very complicated. Ireland continues to be problematic but the UK is by far the best country to promote shows at the moment; Kilimanjaro Live did two sold-out shows at the O2 last week with the Gorillaz. Generally, we do prefer the 3G rule: vaccinated, recovered or tested. Anybody else will not be allowed to work, stay backstage or even enter the venue,” he says.

“Generally, [DEAG] does prefer the 3G rule: vaccinated, recovered or tested”

European ticketing and promoting powerhouse CTS Eventim are taking a similar bespoke approach to Covid-19 safety measures. “In Germany, if concerts are allowed to take place, our promoters will develop individual concepts in close coordination with the local authorities in the various regions and the corresponding local regulations for the protection against Corona,” a representative tells IQ.

The ticketing services and live entertainment giant has interests in 21 countries including major markets such as Germany, Spain, Italy and the UK.

The Eventim Group includes concert, tour, and festival promoter companies for events like Rock am Ring, Rock im Park, Hurricane, Southside, and Lucca Summer.

And CTS Eventim’s venue portfolio includes the Lanxess Arena (cap. 18,000) in Cologne, the KB Hallen (4,500) in Copenhagen, the Waldbühne (22,290) in Berlin and the Eventim Apollo (2,500) in London.

 


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AEG Global Partnerships makes senior hire in France

AEG Europe Global Partnerships has appointed Stéphan Degos as its new senior director of sponsorship sales, replacing the departing Emmanuel de Sola.

In his new role, Degos will oversee sponsorship and partnerships for for the 20,300-capacity Accor Arena in Paris.

He joins AEG from Pollen (the company formerly known as Verve, and before that as StreetTeam), having spent more than 20 years in live entertainment marketing, including seven years as head of brand marketing partnerships at Live Nation.

“I’m really looking forward to maximising the opportunities in the French region”

Paul Samuels, executive vice-president of AEG Europe Global Partnerships, comments: “We are looking forward to Stéphan joining our team and driving the strategic ambitions we have in France. As we reflect on our current successes in the region, we would like to thank Emmanuel de Sola for his contribution and wish him well with his new personal projects.”

“I am delighted to be joining AEG at this pivotal time,” adds Degos. “They are world leaders in entertainment and have a reputation for delivering exceptional deals for world-class brands. I’m really looking forward to maximising the opportunities in the French region and delivering against AEG’s strategic aims.”

 


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Live Nation, AEG report UK gender pay gap stats

Several UK-based live music businesses have voluntarily reported their most recent gender pay gap (GPG) statistics.

Despite the government ruling early into the Covid-19 pandemic that companies do not have to meet the deadline this year, Live Nation UK, AEG Europe and Ticketmaster UK have shared their pay gap data for the 12 months from 5 April 2019.

From 2017, all companies in mainland Britain with more than 250 employees have been required to report their GPG – defined as the “difference in the average hourly wage of all men and women across a workforce” – for the previous year to the government equalities office.

However, with that requirement on hold amid the coronavirus pandemic, many of the companies which appeared on last year’s list, including SMG/ASM Global, Academy Music Group, NEC Group, DHP Family and PRS for Music, have not reported their statistics this year. Global, meanwhile, is no longer in the festival game, and its successor entities do not hire more than 250 people.

This article will be updated if any of the companies that are missing add their GPG reports at a later date. For now, though, here are pay gap statistics – as well as links to the full reports – for the four companies which voluntarily met the original deadline…

 


Live Nation (Live Nation (Music) UK Ltd)

Pay gap (mean): 44.5% (-44.3%)
Pay gap (median): 25.7% (+11.7%)

Live Nation UK slashed its mean pay gap (the difference in average hourly wage across the entire company) to 44.5% in 2019–2020 – the lowest figure since GPG reporting began in the UK in 2017. However, its median GPG (the gap between the middle-paid man and middle-paid woman) grew slightly.

Women occupy 36% of the highest-paid jobs and 72% of the lowest-paid jobs, while median bonus pay is 41.2% lower for women.

 

Ticketmaster (Ticketmaster UK Ltd)

Pay gap (mean): 25.9% (-41.1%)
Pay gap (median): 28.9% (+25.7%)

At Ticketmaster, it’s a similar picture to parent company Live Nation, with a drastic reduction in the mean GPG but a slight widening of the median gap. At 25.9%, the pay gap across the entire organisation is also the narrowest it’s ever been.

Women occupy 21% of the highest-paid and 43% of the lowest-paid jobs; on average, women’s bonus pay is 32% lower than men’s (on a median basis).

 

AEG (Anschutz Sports Holdings Ltd)

Pay gap (mean): 34.5% (-20.9%)
Pay gap (median): 39% (+6%)

In the most recent 12-month epriod, AEG Europe had a mean pay gap of 34.5% (down 20.9% on 2018’s 43.6%), meaning the UK’s big two live entertainment companies both reported their lowest average GPGs since reporting began.

At AEG UK, women occupy 34% of the best-paid jobs and 59% of the lowest-paid jobs, while women’s median bonuses are 15.6% lower.

 

PPL PRS (PPL PRS Limited)

Pay gap (mean): -9.6%
Pay gap (median): -16.8%

Performance rights organisation PPL PRS Ltd, a joint venture between PRS for Music and PPL, had a negative gender pay gap – or a GPG in favour of women – in 2019/20.

Women occupy 49.1% of the highest-paid jobs and 27.3% of the lowest-paid, while a bonus gap of 0% means men and women take home the same average bonus pay.

 


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A new reality: Arenas talk reopening challenges

Strict hygiene protocols, contactless technology and fewer queues are likely to form the future of Europe’s arenas, as venue operators shun social distancing but nonetheless prepare to open to a changed reality.

Venue owners and event organisers across the continent have been grappling with new restrictions as many major markets around Europe begin to reopen, striving to strike the balance between providing a safe environment, maintaining financial viability and keeping their business alive.


Strict capacity limits and social distancing regulations have meant many venues have kept their doors closed, even if they are technically allowed to reopen.

With a current upper limit of 30 people at indoor events in the Netherlands, there is really “no model” for shows, Jurgen Hoekstra, manager of entertainment and sports at Rotterdam Ahoy tells IQ.

Hoekstra calculates that the Rotterdam Ahoy team could make an “attractive venue” operating at 30% capacity, maintaining 1.5 metres between guests, with a seating plan on the floor. But, really, “in our field of business, the aim is to let people enjoy experiences with a lot of others – the more people there are, the more special it is.

“We’re really dying to go back to the old normal.”

AEG Europe COO and Europe Arenas Association (EAA) president John Langford agrees that socially distanced shows are “financially and practically challenging – and in many cases impossible – for both venues and promoters”, although the early phase of recovery offers little other possibility than hosting events with lower capacities.

“We’re really dying to go back to the old normal”

“This scenario is however not viable or sustainable beyond just a handful of events.”

In the UK, Lucy Noble, artistic and commercial director of the Royal Albert Hall and chair of the National Arenas Association (NAA), says none of the venues she works with “can viably reopen while social distancing measures remain in place.”

Two-metre distancing would require using only 15% of the Hall’s full 8,000-person capacity, with a capacity of around 85% needed to make events financially viable.

So, what is the answer for venues? And how can they reopen while both keeping staff, artists and audience safe, and generating enough money to keep going?

A focus on a contactless customer journey, the use of protective gear, air filtering and upgraded hygiene protocols are among options listed by AEG Germany COO and VP Uwe Frommhold.

The allocation of time slots will also be important for “avoiding unnecessary mingling”, says Frommhold, whereas “tools to track down infection chains” are vital in case infection does spread at an event.

“It will be a combination of a lot of measures that will bring us back in business. There won’t be the sole game changer – not even a vaccine will do it alone.”

“It will be a combination of a lot of measures that will bring us back in business. There won’t be the sole game changer”

The AEG Europe team has also been working closely with ASM Global in the development of the VenueShield programme, a toolkit comprising best practice solutions that can be employed in response to public health guidance.

For Noble, a permanent move towards contactless payments and ticket scanning, as well as pre-booked food and drinks, will characterise the gig of the future.

The NAA has put together a proposal for the UK government which would allow venues to reopen at full capacity, including procedures such as heightened entrance and exit controls, increased sanitisation, the use of protective equipment and contactless service processes.

Noble gives the example of a production of the Phantom of the Opera, which has been running in Seoul, South Korea, throughout the Covid-19 crisis. The theatre used disinfectant mists, temperature checks and questionnaires to ensure safety standards were met.

“If we are to find a solution, it is going to be a combination of numerous measures, from increased access points to hand sanitisers, Perspex screens and PPE for staff,” says Noble.

Rotterdam Ahoy’s Hoekstra speaks of the possibility of repurposing space to allow for a wider variety of events in the short term.

With a variety of spaces at their disposal, including a 16,500-cap. arena, conference centre and exhibition halls, there is the possibility to host trade fairs and exhibitions at the venue, event formats which have seen some success in reopening so far.

“One thing we have to work really hard to preserve is the electric atmosphere when thousands of people experience live music together”

Even though restrictions in the Netherlands remain stringent – capacity limits are set at 30 until July, when they may be increased to 100 – Hoekstra hopes that signs of success in other markets, such as Switzerland, Denmark and Finland, may lead to a further lifting of measures.

“I am convinced that in the end that people will enjoy a show in a full arena again, as long as we can guarantee a safe place, and I really think this will be the case.”

For Noble, reassuring staff, artists, crew and audiences that it is safe to attend events will be “the biggest challenge” for venues wishing to reopen fully.

“People will understandably be nervous, and it’s our job to not only find a way for events to take place safely, but also to instil confidence that we’ve done so. That’s going to be a question of transparency and communication.”

Safety is, of course, at the forefront of everybody’s minds at the moment, and will continue to be for a long time in the future. However, it is important to remember that the very essence of the live show is also at risk, and this is something that has to be factored in while considering the best ways to reopen.

“One thing we have to work really hard to preserve is the electric atmosphere when thousands of people experience live music together,” says Noble.

“We are all missing that.”

 


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Venue leaders optimistic for 2020 reopening

Venue professionals expressed confidence that doors will reopen before the end of the year, but shared doubts as to whether social distancing is the answer, in the latest IQ Focus panel.

Available to watch back now on the IQ website, as well as on Facebook and Youtube, the session saw John Langford (AEG Europe), Lucy Noble (Royal Albert Hall/NAA), Olivier Toth (Rockhal/EAA), Oliver Hoppe (Wizard Promotions), Tom Lynch (ASM Global) and Lotta Nibell (GOT Event) reflect on when they will return to business and the tactics that venues will use to ensure the show goes on.

All panellists were optimistic that some shows will return before the end of 2020, although next year will see the true restart of indoor live events, with many speaking of “packed 2021 calendars”.

For Toth, CEO of the 6,500-capacity Rockhal in Luxembourg, smaller capacity shows with strict social distancing measures will be the most likely to restart before the new year. Rockhal’s intimate club venue, which typically has a capacity of 1,100, can hold 90 people with two metre distancing measures in place, but “we can increase capacity as we go”, said Toth.

“For shows of a bigger scale, I am optimistically hoping for the end of this year, but it is more likely to be 2021,” said Toth.

Rockhal is one of a number of venues in Luxembourg acting as a temporary medical facility.

For GOT Event, which operates nine venues in Sweden, sports fixtures are the most likely to return in 2020, with all matches played behind closed doors. “For music and other shows, I think it’ll be next year,” said Nibell.

Even though Sweden has not entered a full lockdown unlike many of its European counterparts, a ban on shows over 50 people has left the Swedish live industry in much the same position as elsewhere.

“For shows of a bigger scale, I am optimistically hoping for the end of this year, but it is more likely to be 2021”

ASM Global has already seen some success with the return of sporting events, hosting Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) events behind closed doors at venues in the United States.

Lynch said ASM Global’s VenueShield, a post-coronavirus reopening programme, has played a big part in allowing the sports powerhouse to get back up and running. “Next I’d like to see how, or if, we can introduce fans with social distancing and in a safe and clean environment.”

Social distancing has been a “hot topic” of late for the events industry, said Langford, asking Wizard Promotions’ Hoppe if it is a viable solution for event organisers.

While it may work for some kinds of shows and events, “I don’t think social distancing will be a part of what we will be looking at,” said Hoppe.  Drive-in concerts offer an example of social distancing success, added Hoppe, but “are horrible for an artist in my opinion”.

Noble, artistic and commercial director at London’s (5,272-cap.) Royal Albert Hall and chair of the UK’s National Arenas Association (NAA), agreed that social distancing is not part of the plan for reopening as “it just doesn’t work financially”.

“We do know we can run our venues in world class ways to facilitate shows going on, be it by contact tracing, temperature checks, questionnaires, disinfectant mists etc.”

Noble noted the lack of clarity given to the live industry by the UK government, which is yet to give a date for when events of any size will be permitted again. “If they don’t give us clarity, then we need to give them clarity,” said Noble. “We are suggesting to them how we can operate.”

“I am really positive about the future of live events, but we just need to find a way of operating in this situation, if it recurs”

The EAA has also taken up a lobbying position, working with the European Commission to develop a reopening plan for the live industry.

“We’ll be facing very different requirements and expectations from our customers,” said Toth. “Scenarios will be very different, from artist hospitality to audience experience, not even mentioning social distancing, so the ambition was to put major concerns out there and open up the discussion.”

Consumer demand has been another worry for the live industry, with surveys indicating a potential cautiousness on behalf of some about returning to public events. However, Toth pointed out that the majority of fans are holding on to tickets for postponed events, indicating that “people are looking forward to coming back”.

Noble said that the Royal Albert Hall is expecting confidence will take a while to return and is modelling accordingly.

“We certainly won’t be selling to full houses when we reopen,” said Noble. The venue is adjusting its programming to focus on shows that attract younger audiences first, the demographic most likely to make a quick return to events.

“I am really positive about the future of live events,” said Noble, “but we just need to find a way of operating in this situation, and for if it recurs.”

The next IQ Focus session, The Innovation Session, is taking place on Thursday 28 May at 4 p.m. BST/5 p.m. CET, chaired by Mike Malak (Paradigm), and featuring speakers Sheri Bryant (Sansar), Tommas Arnby (Locomotion Ent.), Amy Oldham (Dice), Ben Samuels (MelodyVR) and Prajit Gopal (Looped).

Get an automatic reminder when the live stream starts via Facebook Live or YouTube Live.

 


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Venues in the spotlight for next IQ Focus panel

Following on from last week’s popular Festival Forum session, this week’s IQ Focus virtual panel will turn the attention to venues, discussing how the world’s many shuttered music venues can weather the Covid-19 storm, and emerge from life under lockdown.

Chaired by John Langford (AEG Europe), The Venue’s Venue: Building Back, will feature speakers Lucy Noble (Royal Albert Hall/NAA), Olivier Toth (Rockhal/EAA), Oliver Hoppe (Wizard Promotions), Tom Lynch (ASM Global) and Lotta Nibell (GOT Event).

The touring world has changed dramatically since venue professionals came together for the Venue Summit at the International Live Music Conference (ILMC) in March, as doors have been shuttered, countless concerts cancelled and many venues repurposed to help in the fight against the disease.

Panellists will share their strategies on getting through the current crisis, as well as discussing the main lessons they have learned so far

Panellists will share their strategies on getting through the current crisis, as well as discussing the main lessons they have learned so far.

Looking to the future, the venue experts will also reflect on what the recovery process may look like and what will need to be done to keeps fans, staff and artists safe and get business back up and running in the crucial months ahead.

The session is taking place on Thursday 21 May at 3.30 (BST)/4.30 (CET). Get an automatic reminder when the live stream starts via Facebook Live or YouTube Live.


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GEI announces full agenda for 2020

The twelfth edition of A Greener Festival’s (AGF) Green Events and Innovations Conference (GEI) will look at topics including the sustainability of festivals, eco-friendly touring and social inequalities within the industry.

Representatives from Live Nation, AEG Europe, Extinction Rebellion, Glastonbury Festival and the O2 Arena are speaking at the one-day event, which is taking place alongside the ILMC Production Meeting (IPM) on Tuesday 3 March, the opening day of the International Live Music Conference (ILMC).

Punk legend John Robb of the Membranes is giving the keynote interview with Sebastian Sandys of Extinction Rebellion, before hosting the It’s a Human Story panel to discuss the live industry’s potential for social impact.

The Focus on Festivals panel, presented in collaboration with the International Green Deal, will look at the next steps that festivals need to take to achieve full circularity, with speakers from Lowlands, Cambridge Folk Festival, the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) and Big Green Coach.

A year on from the launch of the Green Artist Rider, IQ Magazine’s Gordon Masson will host A Greener Tour – Round 2, supported by Forum Karlin and Metronome, to explore what is being done to improve the sustainability of touring, with panellists including CAA’s Emma Banks, Live Nation Europe’s head of sustainability Patricia Yagüe and Tanner Watt from Reverb.

“Next [we need] to exchange knowledge and collaborate to allow fundamental changes so the live industry can be a strong positive force”

GEI will share breakout sessions with IPM, looking at the latest development in electricity usage at events, and updates in sustainable trucking in a panel presented by Rick Smith of Rule Out Loud Management and Maarten Arkenbout from the Pieter Smit Group.

The second International AGF Awards will round off the event, celebrating the achievements of the greenest festivals from around the world in a ceremony hosted by AGF co-founders Claire O’Neill and Ben Challis.

“We’re excited for GEI12, because we go way beyond raising awareness to having the full attention of top decision makers, artists, and experts to strategically and systematically reduce the industry’s negative impacts upon the environment,” comments O’Neill.

“Admitting to having a problem is the first step. Next is to exchange knowledge and collaborate to allow fundamental changes so the live industry can be a strong positive force. Due to the steep curve in action this year there has never been so much experience to share and to learn from in the greener event space – so this is going to be a busy and fast-paced agenda, but of course with a lot of fun and inspiration!”

GEI12 is taking place at the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington, London, supported by Stack-Cup.

 


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Mixed picture as UK biz reveals 2018/19 gender pay gap

For the second year running, the UK live music business has revealed its gender pay gap (GPG) statistics, showing a mixed picture in which strides are being made towards gender equality, but where female employees are still vastly outnumbered by their male colleagues at an executive level.

All companies in mainland Britain with more than 250 employees were given until 5 April 2019 to report their gender pay gap – defined as the “difference in the average hourly wage of all men and women across a workforce” – for the previous 12 months to the government equalities office. Companies also published data on bonuses and the breakdown of employees’ genders by pay quartile. (Read last year’s results here.)

While it should be noted that GPG measures the difference between men’s and women’s average earnings across a whole business – rather than the pay received by male and female employees for doing the same job – all companies surveyed by IQ reiterated their goal of narrowing the gap ahead of next year’s survey and beyond.

See below for how nine of the UK’s largest live music businesses stacked up in 2018/19.

“We are committed to narrowing the gap over time in our business”

Live Nation (Live Nation (Music) UK Ltd)

Pay gap (mean): 80% (+18%)
Pay gap (median): 23% (-8%)

Live Nation UK’s mean GPG is the widest of the nine companies featured, growing 18%, to 80% (though its median gap narrowed), in 2018 – a reflection, says president Denis Desmond, of the under-representation of women in the wider music industry, especially in the upper echelons.

Writing in LN’s 2018 gender pay gap report, Desmond says the company is “committed to increasing women and diversity in our workforce and being an inclusive environment where everyone can succeed”.

“Women are under-represented in the music business. The gender pay gap is reflective of this, particularly with more men in the revenue-generating roles at the higher end of the salary scale,” he comments.

“This is something we want to see change. Real change requires a dual and sustainable approach; increasing awareness of the career opportunities available and ensuring we do all we can to develop and retain the women already making the industry such an important contributor to the wider UK economy.

“We are committed to bringing more women into our workforce through promoting all types of career options, and particularly helping influence young people to consider our industry. Alongside this we are creating more apprenticeships and internships designed to give people real skills needed to enter this business for a long-term and fulfilling career.”

Desmond reveals Live Nation recently conducted a “job levelling review across the UK” as part of an overhaul of its approach to reward and compensation decisions, in a bid to boost fairness. “Our robust policies and training programmes ensure that we are continually working to ensure no bias exists in our recruitment processes and ensuring we provide full support to all employees in balancing their family lives with the unique demands of the music business,” he continues.

“We see gender pay gap reporting as an opportunity to increase awareness of these challenges and are committed to narrowing the gap over time in our business.”

“Progress is being made, with 75% of all appointments at head of department level and above awarded to female candidates”

AEG/The O2 (Anschutz Sports Holdings Ltd)

Pay gap (mean): 43.6% (+0.3%)
Pay gap (median): 36.8% (-4.4%)

AEG declined to comment on its 2018 gender pay gap, though it made its report available on Monday 8 April.

While its mean GPG widened slightly, its median gap fell by 4.4%, and there are a slightly more women in two pay quartiles – the top (28%, +2%) and lower quartiles (66%, +1%) – compared to 2017. The percentage of women who received bonus pay was flat at 22%, compared to 7% more men (39%).

“Despite having a fairly even split of male to female employees overall, our gender pay gap is significant and we have more work to do to remove this,” writes AEG Europe president Alex Hill. “This gap is created by a higher proportion of women than men in our lower-paid roles and more men than women in our higher-paid roles.

“Our gender pay gap is not acceptable and we must make even greater effort to work towards gender pay neutrality across our business.”

However, he adds, “[p]rogress is being made, highlighted by our figures showing that 75% of all appointments at head of department level and above were awarded to female candidates, and since April 2018, seven of the top 20 roles are now occupied by female employees.”

“SMG Europe is confident that its gender pay gap does not stem from paying men and women differently for the same or equivalent work”

SMG Europe (SMG Europe Holdings Ltd)

Pay gap (mean): 16.6% (+4.6%)
Pay gap (median): 6% (+2%)

Arena operator SMG Europe’s pay gap slightly widened in 2018, although the proportion of female employees actually increased in every pay quartile. Its results, an SMG spokesperson tells IQ, are skewed by the nearly 20% more women in the lower quartile compared to 2017/18.

“We have undertaken significant resourcing activity in the past 12 months [6 April 2017–5 April 2018]. with 650 new colleagues joining our team,” they say. “The majority of new colleagues are casually engaged team members, of which 66.5% are female and 33.5% male. The recruitment gender ratios were consistent with gender ratio of applicants – ie no positive or other discrimination.

“As of April 2018, a total of 82% of our population comprised casual roles, compared to 77.7% the previous year.  All our casually engaged colleagues, who make up the majority of our workforce, are paid at the same hourly rate for the same role, regardless of gender. The shift in our gender pay gap year-on-year is explained by the higher proportion of casually engaged individuals, of which there are proportionately more females this year, which is explained, as noted above, by the higher percentage of female applicants than our existing complement across our casually employed team.

“Our 2018 report also illustrates that women occupy 47% of the highest paid roles, compared to 43.3% the previous year, demonstrating that we have improved the proportion of women occupying the highest paid roles within the organisation.

“SMG Europe is confident that its gender pay gap does not stem from paying men and women differently for the same or equivalent work. Rather its gender pay gap is the result of the roles in which men and women work within the organisation and the salaries that these roles attract.”

“Whilst we are happy that this is going in the right direction, reducing the GPG remains a key priority for Global”

Global (Global Radio Services Ltd)

Pay gap (mean): 32.7% (-2.7%)
Pay gap (median): 19.4% (-1.1%)

Global, the UK’s second-largest festival operator, says it remains “committed” to closing its gender pay gap, which narrowed by 2.7% on a mean basis in 2018.

“Our workforce is balanced and fluctuates each month somewhere between 45%/55% female and male employees; however, we recognise that not having enough women in senior leadership roles is a significant factor in driving our GPG,” reads the company’s 2018 gender pay gap report. “In 2018, we are pleased that we have made some improvement across all measures, and reduced the GPG to 32.7%. Whilst we are happy that this is going in the right direction, it remains a key priority for Global, and creating a diverse and fair culture continues to be incredibly important.

“However, we recognise that this is a long-term strategy that takes time and focus, and that we won’t look different overnight. We have identified a number of initiatives existing and new, that will help us to continue to improve.”

These initiatives include its Global Apprenticeship scheme, launched in September 2018, which welcomed 17 apprentices and graduates into programming, digital, video, marketing, technology and commercial roles – of which 53% were female and from a BAME (black, Asian or minority ethnic) background – and a six-month leadership programme, whose alumni include 20 female middle managers who will be supported “in growing their careers at Global”.

“Our gender pay gap reflects the broader societal challenges of getting more women into the technology sector”

Ticketmaster (Ticketmaster UK Ltd)

Pay gap (mean): 44% (+8%)
Pay gap (median): 23% (+0%)

Ticketmaster’s mean GPG widened to 44%, while its median difference remains at 23%, the same gap as in 2017/18.

According to Mark Yovich, president of Ticketmaster International, its pay gap reflects the dearth of women working in the technology sector – and, if the figure was adjusted to remove employees working on the tech side, the GPG is 4% in favour of female staff.

“Ticketmaster is a vibrant, diverse place to work. We believe that diversity adds value to our workforce and delivers a better service to our fans,” he writes in TM’s 2018 pay gap report.

“As a technology-led business, our gender pay gap reflects the broader societal challenges of getting more women into the technology sector. There is an acute skills shortage in this area, with women accounting for just 25% of all UK STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] graduates. Only 16% of leadership positions in the technology industry are held by women [source: NCWIT]. Illustrating this challenge, if you remove our technology employees, our mean gender pay gap is minus 4%.

“Of course, we want to see more women in the technology industry and have been working with several organisations who provide opportunities for women to get into tech, including Women Who Code, codebar, Code First: Girls, and have an official partnership with Code Your Future. We host and support these groups with funding and regular meet-ups in our offices. We launched our own female employee resource group, WE Nation, in 2015 which continues to roll strong through our business in both the UK and across our international markets.

To ensure fairness, we have systemised our approach to reward and compensation decisions, including conducting a job levelling review across the UK. Our robust policies and training programmes ensure that we are continually working to ensure no bias exists in our recruitment processes.

“We see gender pay gap reporting as an opportunity to drive awareness about the challenges in our industry. We will continue to support women at all levels in our business. We are committed to increasing women and diversity in our workforce and being an inclusive environment where everyone can succeed.”

“Women are under-represented in the live music industry, and the GPG reflects this”

Academy Music Group (Academy Music Group Ltd)

Pay gap (mean): 21% (-3%)
Pay gap (median): 6% (+5%)

Live Nation-owned venue operator Academy Music Group (AMG) narrowed its mean pay gap to 21% in 2018, though its median GPG widened 5%.

Denis Desmond says AMG, whose venues include O2 Brixton Academy and Shepherds Bush Empire, is focusing on elevating more women into management positions.

“A key area of focus for us is achieving greater representation of women into venue management roles, which are our most senior positions and therefore attract higher rates of pay and bonuses,” he writes. “For venues, the median figure reflects our pay equity in the large volume of roles we regularly hire for where we have greater gender balance.”

“We are training managers to ensure no bias exists in our selection processes and ensuring we provide full support to all employees in balancing their family lives with the unique demands of the music business,” he continues, adding that, like Live Nation, AMG is “committed to narrowing the gap over time in our own business.”

“We are optimistic that plans to … attract, recognise and develop talent will have a real effect on improving gender pay equality at NEC Group”

NEC Group (National Exhibition Centre Ltd (The))

Pay gap (mean): 11.4% (+1.3%)
Pay gap (median): 9.7% (+2.6%)

NEC Group, which operates five arenas and convention centres in Birmingham, as of April 2018 had 1,861 employees and casual workers, of which 838 were men and 1,023 women. Its median pay gap, which widened 2.6% in 2018, nevertheless bests the UK average of 17.9%, says chief operating officer John Hornby.

Its most recent figures reflect the smaller proportion of men in lower pay quartiles compared to 2017.

“Overall the group’s profile is characterised by high numbers of employees working full and part time in the company’s catering, retail and hospitality operations, and smaller numbers of specialist technical, catering, supervisory and managerial roles,” reads the company’s 2018 GPG report. “The gender pay gap for the group presents a balanced picture, but there is still more to be done to ensure consistent improvement.

“In the past year, further investment has gone into developing our learning and development offer for all staff; for example, the New Leader programme and Experienced Leader programme, targeting those in leadership roles and those for whom a leadership role is the next career step. Since 2014 the team has trained over 260 new managers, with roughly an even male and female candidate profile.”

Hornby also highlights NEC Group’s talent programme, whose fifth cohort of 19 promotions is roughly gender equal, and its apprenticeship scheme.

“We are optimistic that some of these long-term plans to both attract, recognise and develop talent will have a real effect on improving gender pay equality within the NEC Group,” he concludes.

“Even though we’re ahead of most of our music industry peers … we’re not complacent about it – we know we’ve got more to do”

DHP Family (DHP Family Ltd)

Pay gap (mean): 11.6% (-2.1%)
Pay gap (median): 5% (+1.5%)

Nottingham-based promoter and venue operator DHP Family reported a 2% fall on its already low mean gap compared to last year’s figures, and the company says it does “not have an issue with equal pay. Our gender pay gap derives from fewer female employees within our venue management teams. This is a trend within our industry, whereby there are many more male venue managers across all levels, in particular the more senior the positions.”

While its mean pay gap is well below the national average, its bonus gap (the difference in bonus pay between men and women) remains high, at 48.5%, despite the percentage of women eligible doubling in 2018/19. “We are continuing to work on female representation for bonus eligible roles, and our initiatives to attract and retain females within our venue management and senior management teams are slowly reducing this difference,” according to its 2018 report.

“We’re fully committed to reducing our gender pay gap and I’m pleased to see we’ve made further progress this year,” DHP Family owner George Akins tells IQ.

“Even though we’re ahead of most of our music industry peers and the UK national average, we’re not complacent about it; we know we’ve got more to do and we’ve introduced a number of initiatives that will help in the years ahead.”

“We are making positive steps, but we know there is more we can do”

PRS for Music (PRS for Music Ltd)

Pay gap (mean): 16.8% (-0.4%)
Pay gap (median): 9.7% (-1.8%)

Pamela Harding, human resources director at performance rights organisation PRS, welcomes its narrowing pay gap but says there is still more to be done.

She comments: “Although we have seen a slight improvement, we have a continuing gender pay gap as there are fewer women in senior positions than men at PRS for Music. We believe that real progress is achieved through influencing business culture, and in 2018 we commenced our programme to recognise drivers of unconscious bias to better support our efforts to promote diversity and act inclusively. We also continued to take positive action with our new ‘Dignity at Work’ policy and by working with industry experts in diversity and inclusion.

“We are making positive steps, but we know there is more we can do. As we look further ahead, we remain committed to engaging all levels of our business to encourage, support and exemplify our core values and celebrate our differences.”

 


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The O2 retains crown as world’s busiest venue in 2018

The O2 in London cemented its status as the world’s most successful concert venue in 2018, according to operator AEG Europe, reporting in excess of 800,000 more ticket sales than its closest rival.

More than two million tickets were sold for 209 music, comedy, live entertainment and sports events at the venue last year, with highlights including sell-out shows by Kendrick Lamar and Pearl Jam, the sixth edition of the Country to Country festival, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Fight Night 127, the ATP tennis finals and the Fifa eWorld Cup Final.

Elsewhere, Michael McIntyre marked 2018 by selling the most tickets in O2 history, reaching 409,238 with his 28th headline show at the arena, while K-pop stars BTS, who played in October, smashed a merchandise sales record previously held by the Rolling Stones.

The 2m figure compares to nearly 1.2m tickets sold for events at the O2’s nearest rival, New York’s Madison Square Garden Arena, and 1.1m apiece for the Forum in California and WiZink Center in Madrid – the latter falling short of the third spot by fewer than a thousand tickets – according to Pollstar’s recently released top 200 arena venues chart.

“We’ve seen a huge amount of activity at the O2 this year”

The O2 is ranked 13th in Pollstar’s chart, with 765,860 tickets sold – far fewer than the two-plus million claimed by AEG. However, AEG no longer provides Pollstar with box-office figures following the magazine’s acquisition by rival outfit Oak View Group in July 2017, and its own numbers tally more closely with 2017, when the O2’s ticket sales were over 1.4m, according to that year’s Pollstar chart.

Speaking just before Christmas, John Langford, newly appointed COO of AEG Europe, said: “We’ve seen a huge amount of activity at the O2 this year, with the opening of ICON Outlet, Oxygen Freejumping and not to mention the record-breaking content that’s kept over two million entertained.

“I’d like to thank each and every person at the O2 and I’m confident that Steve Sayer will oversee another incredible year when he takes over as VP and general manager in 2019.”

The O2, which opened in 2007, has been the world’s top arena for ticket sales since 2008.

 


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Steve Sayer succeeds John Langford as the O2 GM

The O2, the world’s most popular live entertainment venue, will enter 2019 with a new general manager.

Steve Sayer, formerly the O2’s commercial director, will become its GM and vice-president from January, succeeding former GM/VP John Langford, who was recently named COO of AEG Europe.

Sayer’s promotion is accompanied by two other appointments: The O2 operations director Danielle Kennedy-Clark is promoted to deputy GM, while Gavin Brind becomes finance director, replacing AEG Europe’s new CFO, Paul Reeve.

“I’m delighted to be announcing that Steve, Danielle and Gavin will be leading the O2 from January,” comments Langford. “Their combined experience in managing this incredible venue, working alongside the senior leadership team, means that the world’s busiest arena will continue to flourish.”

“I’m excited to be leading the venue as we further develop the customer experience and our programme”

Sayer joined the O2 in 2014 as commercial director, overseeing ticketing operations, merchandising, food and beverage, and corporate sales, along with exhibition content and overseeing roof-walk attraction Up at the O2.

Kennedy-Clark joined the O2 at venue manager in 2010, before being promoted to operations director in 2017. Brind, meanwhile, joined AEG in 2012 and has been deputy finance director since 2017.

“The O2 continues to set the benchmark for the music and entertainment industry in every respect,” adds Sayer. “I’m excited to be leading the venue as we further develop the customer experience and our programme, finding new ways to delight the millions of fans who visit the O2 every year”.

The O2 was once again the world’s top arena by ticket sales in 2017, selling more than 1.44 million tickets compared to Madison Square Garden’s 1.17m.

 


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