fbpx

PROFILE

MY SUBSCRIPTION

LOGOUT

x

The latest industry news to your inbox.

    

I'd like to hear about marketing opportunities

    

I accept IQ Magazine's Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

Promotional difficulties

Since 2010, Viva has sold more than 46 million tickets, providing services for over 35,000 events organised by nearly 2,000 promoters. Among such a large portfolio of successful events, there are bound to be cases where things do not go as planned.

Recent concerts by Bryan Adams (18 November) and José Carreras (24 November), as well as two shows by Maluma due to take place in March 2020, are four such cases. Shortly before the Bryan Adams concert, the promoter of the shows, Art BG, informed Viva that due to “financial difficulties” it would be unable to fulfil its obligations and pay for the cost of the shows. The promoter then promptly disappeared, causing the loss of thousands of euros from the sale of two shows’ worth of tickets.

This left Viva, acting as the intermediate ticketing provider, with two options. The first option, and the most straightforward based on the business terms that govern ticketing, was to announce the cancellation of the events and advise the furious ticketholders to request refunds directly from Art BG.

The second option was for Viva to try to salvage the events, becoming responsible for all costs and losses, to avoid cancellations and keep ticketholders happy, no matter the price.

This decision was the only way to … protect the reputation of Greece’s live music business

Given that a new but experienced organiser, Gazarte, stepped in to help with the organisation of the events, Viva swiftly decided to follow the second option, assuming the full cost of the shows, which then went ahead as planned.

This decision was the only way to honour the more than 8,000 customers who had already bought tickets to the shows, and to protect the reputation of Greece’s live music business in the eyes of international promoters and artists.

Viva also issued 2,500 free tickets online, with an optional donation of €7 per ticket for the charity Together We Can (Oloi Mazi Boroume), which cares for poor families across Greece.

Viva is now pursuing legal action against the promoter, which has also been at the centre of controversy elsewhere in Europe in recent weeks, resulting in the cancellation of Enrique Iglesias shows in Croatia, Belarus and Latvia.

In the end, the organisational capacity of Gazarte combined with the high-speed reaction of Viva led to two hugely successful events in Athens, with two more to follow in March 2020.

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

One bad apple doesn’t spoil the barrel

In light of recent developments with Bulgarian promoters, now is the perfect time to widen the lens a bit and take a look at the Bulgarian live music industry beyond its recent highly publicised scandals.

The live music business in Bulgaria only really started in the 1990s. While Europe and the US were crafting the rules of the game and creating high-class music professionals during the post-war years, Eastern European markets had to wait for the fall of communism before a music industry could really take off.

The earliest western acts to come to Bulgaria came courtesy of adventurous local musicians who booked themselves as the support act, profit coming second to the glory of sharing the stage and a cold one with their musical heroes.

Despite these amateur beginnings, by the end of the nineties, Bulgaria had already received the blessing of a number of UK agents and production managers, bringing in stadium acts like Iron Maiden, Metallica, Sting and others. Before 1989, the idea of seeing any of these acts live was absolutely unthinkable. For Bulgarian music fans, these shows were an affirmation, a sign that Bulgaria was finally on the map.

By the 2000s, the Bulgarian live music sector had expanded exponentially. On the wings of a few lucky promoters (some heavily buttressed financially by western companies), a second generation of promoters arrived. These were not the passionate rockers of the 1990s, but a more opportunistic breed who saw the live music industry as a gateway to quick profits.

As the 2010s draw to a close, a new class of Bulgarian promoter is emerging

Unfortunately, these young bloods came to the scene having skipped the foundational level – music biz 101 – as it developed in the US and UK, growing out of social secretaries and campus events organisers. This new wave of promoters wanted only safe bets and sell-out shows.

While fast-moving markets have grown tired of shows consisting of classic rock albums played in their entirety by the few remaining members of a heritage band, Bulgarians, and Bulgarian promoters especially, are reluctant to move away from these established acts.

In effect, very few Bulgarian promoters had ever truly attempted to promote an act, preferring shows that sold themselves. The art of popularising and increasing the demand for an act, shining a spotlight on their talent, shaping public appetites and driving demand never really developed. Their only skill was in delivering shows; this being thanks more to the local production crew than the so-called promoter.

The loyalty between foreign agents and Bulgarian promoters is built on the back of the hard-working production crew. I’m proud to say that Bulgarian crews can, and do, work at every level.

“Show in foreign country went fine!” is not a good headline

Now, as the 2010s draw to a close, a new class of Bulgarian promoter is emerging. Our universities even offer degree programmes in music management. One can start saying “a music industry professional” in all senses of the term. The local scene has quite a few things to be proud of, from the success of large-scale productions like Roger Waters’s The Wall at the National Stadium and the development of the first-century AD ancient theatre in Plovdiv as a concert venue, to the emergence of well-equipped clubs like Joy Station, which has been heavily invested in. These all show a marked step forward.

The music industries in smaller countries rarely make the news with anything positive. Despite our best efforts to fight against these notions and do a better job than most, it’s just a drop in the ocean. This manifests itself clearly in situations where the outstanding work of a Bulgarian production team gets described as, “Not as bad as I expected.” I have witnessed this many times, and while it’s nice to be one of the exceptions, I’d much prefer to just change the perceptions.

It is important to remember that scandals only make the news because they are newsworthy. “Show in foreign country went fine!” is not a good headline.

For every scandal that makes the news, there are many successful shows put on by music-loving professionals and attended by passionate, grateful music fans.

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

Greek ticketer threatens legal action against Art BG

Greek ticketing company Viva is pursuing legal action against promoter Art BG for the return of almost €740,000 in ticket sales for events it claims the promoter “did not end up organising”.

According to an extrajudicial statement filed by Viva and obtained by IQ, Art BG sold 13,080 tickets to four concerts through Viva’s platform, collecting a total of €737,659.

On 11 November, ten days before the first scheduled date, the promoter informed Viva that, due to “financial difficulties”, it would be unable to pay for the cost of the shows.

The ticketing company states that the promoter then “literally disappeared” and has not responded to phone calls or written communications since.

In order to avoid cancellation of the first concert – Bryan Adams at Athens’ Oaka indoor arena (21,000-cap.) on 18 November – Viva “decided to bear the costs” and the show went ahead as planned.

The ticketing company states that the other affected events – Jose Carreras at the Oaka arena on 24 November and Maluma shows at the Paok Sports Arena (10,200-cap.) in Thessaloniki and the Peace and Friendship Stadium (14,940-cap.) in Piraeus on 11 March and 13 March respectively – will “be performed as planned”, in conjunction with new promoter Artway.

Viva is pursuing legal action against promoter Art BG for the return of almost €740,000 in ticket sales for events it claims the promoter “did not end up organising”

Viva expresses “strong disapproval” for what it terms “totally unprofessional and abusive behaviour” on behalf of the promoter.

Art BG has been at the centre of controversy elsewhere in Europe in recent weeks. As reported by IQ, CAA recently cancelled three Enrique Iglesias shows in Croatia, Belarus and Latvia, stating the promoter had “not fulfilled their contractual obligations”, whereas Latvian ticketing company Bilesu Serviss asked the police to investigate “possible fraud” on behalf of Art BG.

The promoter’s social media page has been deactivated. No response has been made to IQ’s request for comment.

Update: Viva announced today (21 November), that it is fronting all the costs for the Carreras concert this weekend, with organisational support from Gazarte Group Company. Viva will issue new, zero-value tickets to the 3,200 customers who paid to go to the show, as well as providing a further 2,500 free tickets online, with a suggested donation of €7. All proceeds will go to social and environmental development charity Together We Can (Όλοι μαζι μπορουμε).

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

Controversy as Enrique Iglesias shows cancelled

Upcoming shows by Spanish star Enrique Iglesias in Croatia, Belarus and Latvia have been cancelled, as the artist’s representative, Creative Artists Agency (CAA), declares a lack of compliance on behalf of promoter Art BG.

CAA released a statement on Thursday (14 November) calling off concerts at the Zagreb Arena (16,500-cap.) on 1 December; the Minsk Arena (15,000-cap.) on 3 December; and Arena Riga (10,300-cap.) on 5 December, all part of the artist’s All the Hits Live world tour.

A person close to the situation tells IQ that shows in Greece, under the charge of the same promoter, have also been affected.

Art BG has promoted other shows on the All the Hits Live tour in numerous countries, including Bulgaria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and Poland.

However, according to Latvian publication Apollo, no information about the concerts in Zagreb, Minsk and Riga had been published on Iglesias’ official website. The concert dates are still advertised on the Art BG website, but the pages they link to no longer exist.

“Sadly and regrettably, after much careful consideration, and exhausting all possible alternatives, we have been forced to cancel the upcoming shows in Zagreb, Riga, and Minsk,” reads the statement that CAA issued to ticket sellers, and published by Latvian platform Bilesu Serviss.

“Art BG has not complied or fulfilled their contractual obligations with the venues or any of the production elements for these three events”

“Art BG, the concert tour promoter, producer and event organiser, has not complied or fulfilled their contractual obligations with the venues or any of the production elements for these three events. All of this makes it impossible to put on the show that our fans deserve.

“Safety for our fans and crew is paramount and we cannot guarantee this for everyone without the promoter fulfilling their obligations. It is simply too big of a risk.”

The agency adds that it is seeking new dates for the shows “in the near future”.

“Together, with vendors and venues, we are devoted to making the responsible party, Art BG, held responsible for their actions,” concludes the statement.

Ticketing platform Bilesu Serviss has approached the police to obtain a legal assessment of the situation and “possible fraud by Art BG”. Until more information is available, no refunds will be made for tickets purchased on the Bilesu Serviss platform. Details about refunds will appear on the ticketer’s website and sent to all ticket holders in due course.

IQ has contacted Art BG and CAA for comment.

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.