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Live Nation consolidates Asia-Pacific division

Live Nation has announced the appointment of a number of senior leadership roles intended to unify its Asia-Pacific division.

Roger Field, currently CEO of Live Nation Australia and New Zealand, has been named president of Live Nation Asia Pacific, with Mark Kneebone taking on the new role of managing director of Live Nation New Zealand and Kei Ikuta promoted to president of Live Nation Japan.

Paul Antonio, currently president of Asia and the Middle East, moves to the new role of chief operating officer of Live Nation EMEA, reporting to John Reid, president of Live Nation EMEA.

Field (pictured) joined the company in 2010 to set up Live Nation Australia alongside Luke Hede (currently vice-president of touring). Following Live Nation’s acquisition of Michael Coppel Presents in 2012, Field has led the growth of the Australian and New Zealand businesses, initially as COO and then CEO from 2017.

In his new role, Field will oversee all of Live Nation’s businesses across the Asia-Pacific region, reporting to Live Nation Asia Pacific chairman Alan Ridgeway. Michael Coppel will continue as chairman of Live Nation Australia.

Serving as co-head of promotions for Australia and New Zealand since 2018, Kneebone’s new role will see him oversee all Live Nation’s businesses in NZ, reporting to Field. Stuart Clumpas retires from his role as chairman of LN New Zealand, but will continue as a consultant for the company, as well as a shareholder in Spark Arena.

“The cohesion of a true Asian-Pacific organisation presents significant opportunities for growth”

In Japan, Kei Ikuta takes over from John Boyle, who had served as president since January 2018 and is now moving back to work with Live Nation in Los Angeles. Under Boyle’s leadership, Live Nation’s profile and scale has grown significantly, launching Download in 2019, being appointed international booker for new Tokyo Olympic venue Ariake Arena and growing the company’s show count and market share. Ikuta, who joined the company earlier this year from Japanese promoter Udo Artists, will report to Field.

Commenting on the new hires, Ridgeway says: “The appointment of these roles provides us with the opportunity to further align our Australian, New Zealand and Asian businesses.

“Roger comes to the role with an impressive record of success and is in a great position to lead our growth strategy as he leverages our resources across the whole region. I wish Roger, Mark and Kei all the best in their new roles in taking our businesses forward in this new era, and thank Paul, Stuart and John for their hard work and dedication in establishing our presence in Asia, New Zealand and Japan.”

“I want to thank Alan for giving me the opportunity to lead the talented teams across the division,” adds Field. “The cohesion of a true Asian-Pacific organisation presents significant opportunities for growth, not only for our business but for the professional development of our people and relationships.

‘New Zealand continues to prove itself as a market that leads the way in the return to live and Mark is a proven leader who has played a critical role in our overall success. This appointment further solidifies our commitment to NZ and will affirm the market as a significant player in the global live industry.”

 


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StubHub shutters offices in Asia, Latin America

Secondary ticketing giant StubHub is closing down its offices in parts of Asia and Latin America, further reducing its workforce worldwide, the Guardian has reported.

In an email seen by the newspaper, employees were told that the closures “mean that we have to bid farewell to our colleagues in Mexico, Brazil, Japan, Hong kong, Taiwan and Korea”.

“This decision has not been made lightly, nor easily,” reads the email.

It is understood that fewer than 100 of StubHub’s 650-strong workforce are facing redundancy as a result of the closures. However, the company is also believed to be making further cuts to its staff based in Madrid, with team members being furloughed or working reduced hours.

“This decision has not been made lightly, nor easily”

A StubHub spokesperson tells IQ that it will continue to serve customers in Asia Pacific and Latin Amerca with the support of “core operational teams in Europe”.

The measures constitute another round of staff reductions for the secondary ticketer, which was acquired by Viagogo last year. StubHub furloughed around a third of its workforce earlier this year in response to the coronavirus pandemic, and also saw the departure of its CEO, Sukhinder Singh Cassidy in May.

“While events will be among the last to return to normal following this pandemic, we’re confident in the industry’s ability to rebound,” says a StubHub spokesperson.

“For now, we continue to support our customers and partners and look forward to a time when we are able to return to the joy of live events and the special connections that come with them.”

 


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Keeping afloat: Livescape on why the live experience is “irreplaceable”

Asia was the first continent to bear the brunt of the coronavirus outbreak, but not all suffered the peak at the same time.

Speaking to promoters in China and South Korea at the end of March, IQ found that some more stringent restrictions were beginning to be lifted and a “cautious sense of optimism” was settling in, even if the return to touring as we know it is still a long way off.

Now, the situation in countries in southeast Asia, which had staved off sharp spikes in cases until relatively recently, is worsening. Cases in Singapore have begun to rise again, the Indonesian capital of Jakarta has entered lockdown and the Malaysian government has extended its social distancing measure for a second time, until 28 April.

IQ catches up with Iqbal Ameer, CEO of Livescape Group, which operates in all three markets, to discuss government reactions, consumer confidence and the live industry post Covid-19.

 


IQ: What have you learned so far from the Covid-19 outbreak?
IA: The most important thing? That supporting each other brings out the best in people. We’re no stranger to being dealt with shit cards in the deck, and as a company have had crazy challenges over the past ten years. But now this is a global scale, and we’ve really seen the importance of community and how it is a driving force in achieving anything.

We’ve also learnt that adaptability is key in situations like this. We are hard at work in extending our festival brands and our business model to be more digitally focused. We are proud of our festivals that we have built and carry those badges on our chest. The challenge here is to ensure that we continue to deliver the same Livescape experience to our fans during trying times.

When do you think the recovery might start in Asia Pacific and how is the Livescape Group preparing for this?
At this point in time, we are all uncertain about when the actual recovery period is. Although there has been significant advances in Asian countries compared to Europe and America, we are still remaining vigilant – anything can happen.

Asia-Pacific alone has over 51 million people affected in the music industry, and this is no small number

The Livescape Group is based in three countries: Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. We are anticipating post-Covid-19 to be vital in economic stimulation, and we are working with the respective government bodies to ensure that events can continue by implementing precautionary measures with a focus on the health and wellbeing of music fans.

We are also pivoting some of our assets to be more lifestyle orientated.

How do you feel about the government response to the situation across the markets you operate in?
We have seen most governments around the region offering stimulus packages to help with the nation’s economy during this unprecedented time. Unfortunately for some of us based in Malaysia, most of it does not benefit us directly. As a member of Alife (Association of the Arts, Live Festivals and Events), Livescape is having continuous open discussions with the Malaysian government about the issues of postponement or cancellations, and are demanding that we are considered as well. Asia-Pacific alone has over 51 million people affected in the music industry, and this is no small number.

However, countries such as South Korea and Singapore have set ideal global practices for other countries to follow suit; which would contribute to the speed of the recovery. With our festival It’s the Ship being based in Singapore, we are thankful for the swift and fast action of the Singaporean government. We support their initiatives to get the arts and live sector up and running as soon as possible. (The Singaporean government has provided a $55 million arts and culture resilience package, including $20,000 grants for digital projects).

What changes might we see long term across the industry, and the festival business in particular?
It is naive to say that this pandemic will not change the core nature of the festival business. Already, we are seeing festivals and artists venturing into the digital space with livestreaming performances along with an increase of creative content being shared out in hopes to connect during this void of live events with their fans and community. Although it is a short-term solution to fill the void of live events, we do not consider this to be a road to recovery, as we believe that the live event experiences are irreplaceable.

We also expect a stronger focus on local talents, due to the nature of the interaction of communities during this period of time, and local gigs would be quicker to pick up post Covid-19.

The global pandemic has impacted the events industry in an unprecedented manner but we are optimistic about the long-term demand for live, experiential experiences

Post Covid-19, people will also be more wary in terms of how they experience live events in large gathering situations. It is then our responsibility as event organisers to ensure that we have procedures in place to address concerns relating to the health and safety measures such as temperature checks and sanitisation booths.

In some ways, people will also come to realise what our company has been preaching for the past ten years: experience comes first. We definitely see a desire for people to connect in person and we will not discount the renaissance of the roaring 20s, an era that was sparked after a period of difficult times.

Being a floating festival, do you foresee any particular challenges with the future of It’s the Ship?
We feel the challenges are across the board for all festivals. I’d be lying if I said no, but we are optimistic and never risk the safety and wellbeing of our shipmates. That has always been a top priority of ours, unfortunately the term “the show must go on” does not apply to us in this situation.

We’ve been transparent with that in our community and in our communications, with a campaign revolving around #StayHomeToComeHome, where we continuously share relevant news and information through our social platforms.

Being a floating festival, It’s the Ship provides a unique experience in terms of venue, as it takes place onboard a ship. The advantage is the fact that the venue puts us in a controlled environment that allows us to manage and plan prior to the event itself. We are also working very closely with the cruise company, which has recently put in place comprehensive health and safety preventive measures for the ease and comfort of our attendees.

At Livescape, we’re thankful to the partners we work with, especially cruise lines that we work with who have offered extremely affordable rates to ensure that It’s the Ship continues its multiple voyages in the years to come.

In Asia in particular, the main challenge would be rebuilding people’s confidence in attending large-scale events

What more general challenges do you think the industry face getting back up to speed?
In Asia in particular, the main challenge would be rebuilding people’s confidence in attending large-scale events. Putting in health and safety preventive measures will be key in reassuring our community.

The global pandemic has impacted the events industry in an unprecedented manner but we are optimistic about the long-term demand for live, experiential experiences! With social distancing being practised globally, audiences will be craving live, interactive experiences more, which will create the opportunity for experiential events to bounce back at a greater scale.

At Livescape, what have you been doing to adapt to life in the wake of coronavirus?
With a strong team in a resilient industry, our team has been taking this time working from home to diversify our business models and digitising our assets and communities. Our core philosophy has remained the same, but our execution will differ, moving towards more digitalisation – something extremely adaptable. This will be more evident once all this is over.

Until then, we will embrace the changes, continue to evolve to adapt to the situation and to be there for our industry, as well as the local communities, to the best of our ability.

Livescape has continued to build relationships and trust with our clients and partners who have approached us with the same vision of diversifying in mind. We work hand-in-hand in developing some very successful campaigns for big and small SMEs alike and we highly recommend that other companies do the same and look into opportunities available.

Remember always: We write the future!

 


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A long road to recovery: Promoters in Asia talk Covid-19

As some residents in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the disease now known as Covid-19 originated in November, leave their houses for the first time in months, IQ turns to promoters in China and the wider Asia-Pacific region to find out if this means a return to business as usual any time soon.

“People are cautiously optimistic,” Archie Hamilton, managing director of Shanghai-based promoter Split Works tells IQ, noting that some clubs – but no live venues – in Shanghai opened their doors for the first time in months last weekend. “We have a while longer until things open up properly.”

Although Split Works has projects ongoing in its brand business, which has been active in China for around 15 years, and is looking into moving into the livestreaming sector, Hamilton states that the core part of his business – live events – “is not coming back any time soon”.

Zhang Ran, director of international business at Modern Sky, echoes this sentiment, saying that “nothing has changed here yet for the music industry” and adding that “some venues likely won’t survive”.

Although the situation “is getting better” with regards to the virus, Zhang believes it will be a month or two until Modern Sky will be able to hold shows again and “probably longer for [shows by] international bands, given the virus situation elsewhere.”

Zhang says that Modern Sky is currently looking to book shows for November.

Elsewhere in Asia, Tommy Jinho Yoon, president of Korea’s International Creative Agency (ICA), says that everything “is calming down” in comparison to a lot of places around the world.

“We just need to band together as an industry and try to make things work, and be good humans at the same time”

Yesterday (23 March), South Korea reported the lowest number of new coronavirus cases since infection rates hit their peak four weeks ago. Although the virus has led to the shuttering of many events and venues in Korea, some popular musical theatre productions have continued to enjoy successful runs over the past few months.

“The Covid-19 madness is not completely over yet, but we are anticipating and hoping that the majority of this gets settled down by May or June,” Jinho Yoon tells IQ.

Matthew Lazarus-Hall, senior vice-president for AEG Presents’ Asia-Pacific division, states that, although China and other countries in Asia appear to be over the curve of the pandemic, the situation in many other parts of the world continues to put the brakes on international touring.

“The challenge is that a lot of artists can’t tour due to quarantine measures,” says Lazarus-Hall. “I anticipate that this situation will continue for many months, with everyone rescheduling tours until the back half of the year, and then maybe longer.”

With government restrictions on events and other public gatherings still in place across much of Asia, domestic touring remains difficult too.

China still has a complete event ban in place, whereas a surge in new cases of the virus led to a ban on gatherings of more than 250 people over the weekend in Singapore and a resumption of social distancing measures in Hong Kong.

“At AEG Presents, the plan is evolving every day based on government regulations, the industry and doing the right thing by our artists and staff, and we are reacting, and modifying our plans in real time,” says Lazarus-Hall.

“There’s no rulebook here, we just need to band together as an industry and try to make things work, and be good humans at the same time.”

 


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Ticketmaster expands to Singapore, Taiwan

Ticketing giant Ticketmaster is expanding into Asia, establishing a presence in Taiwan and Singapore.

The move, which sees Ticketmaster acquire Taiwanese ticketer Tixcraft and open a Singaporean branch, brings the company’s operations to 32 countries worldwide.

As a result of the expansion, Chad Phillips, former managing director for ApacTic, has been appointed to the newly created role of managing director of Ticketmaster Asia.

The launch of Ticketmaster Singapore following the company’s selection as one of three ticketing partners for Singaporean sports and entertainment complex, Sports Hub, late last year, along with TEG’s Ticketek and Sistic.

Sports Hub incorporates the 55,000 capacity National Stadium and a 12,000 capacity indoor stadium, which serve as the main venues for concerts in Singapore, hosting acts including U2 and Mayday, along with a 3,000 capacity arena and other facilities.

In Taiwan, Ticketmaster takes control of concert ticketing platform Tixcraft, which works with promoters such as Live Nation Taiwan, B’in and iMe Taiwan. Tixcraft founder and managing director KT Chiu will stay on at the company, serving as Ticketmaster Taiwan MD.

“The live entertainment industry across Asia has seen some immense growth and right now is the perfect time to welcome Ticketmaster to Taiwan and Singapore”

“By acquiring market leaders Tixcraft in Taiwan and launching in Singapore, we have established two great bases with talented teams to support the bourgeoning live entertainment scene in Asia,” comments Ticketmaster International president Mark Yovich.

“We are introducing greater levels of service and choice to event organisers across the region and can now provide fans with seamless access to our worldwide marketplace of events.”

Ticketmaster Asia MD Phillips adds: “Over recent years, the live entertainment industry across Asia has seen some immense growth and right now is the perfect time to welcome Ticketmaster to Taiwan and Singapore. I’m hugely excited to be joining the team and look forward to managing the rollout of the world’s most innovative ticketing marketplace.”

The launch of Ticketmaster in Taiwan and Singapore complements Live Nation’s existing concert promotions business across Asia Pacific.

In 2019, the company acquired Singaporean promoter One Production and PR Worldwide in Malaysia, while also making senior appointments to its growing business in China. In December last year, Live Nation Asia launched Live Nation Connects, a new creative marketing agency to connect brands to fans across Asia.

Read IQ’s analysis on consolidation within the ticketing sector here.

Major moves: consolidation sweeps the ticketing sector


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Eventbrite expands into Asia with Singapore launch

US-based ticketing and event technology platform Eventbrite has announced its expansion into Asia, with the launch of a localised platform in Singapore – the company’s first in an Asian market.

The launch follows organic growth in the Asian market and the adoption of Eventbrite’s platform in the Asia Pacific region. Eventbrite says the localised platform will provide Singaporean event creators with solutions to help them create experiences and sell tickets, and include curated local content, native checkout and payment processing in Singapore dollars.

The launch of Eventbrite Singapore sees San Francisco-based Eventbrite, which launched on the New York Stock Exchange last year, bring its financial might to bear against incumbent market leader Sistic, which controls around 70% of the city-state’s entertainment ticket market, according to the International Ticketing Yearbook 2018.

With an entertainment-loving population of 5.8 million and one of the highest per-capita gross domestic products (GDP) in the world, Singapore has fast become an established touring stop, with acts such as the Weeknd, Dua Lipa, Harry Styles and Bruno Mars playing in 2018. Live Nation, the world’s largest concert promoter, expanded its presence in Singapore last month by acquiring local promoter One Production.

To date, the general Eventbrite platform has powered more than 90,000 events in Singapore. Singaporeans have used Eventbrite to transact 4.9 million tickets, with 17,000 Singaporean event creators signing up to the company’s platform.

“Singaporea is a market we view as strategic to Eventbrite’s long-term success in the Asia Pacific region”

“Singapore is a nation where live experiences are deeply woven into the cultural fabric. From its dynamic arts festivals to its world-famous food scene, there’s always something new and exciting to do in the Lion City; and it’s a market we view as strategic to Eventbrite’s long-term success in the Asia Pacific region,” says Phil Silverstone, general manager of Eventbrite Asia Pacific.

Research released today by Roy Morgan in conjunction with Eventbrite shows that 95% of Singaporeans attended an event in the past year, with 44% stating they intend to attend more events next year.

“We’ve been closely tracking the events market in Singapore and are excited about the quality and breadth of events taking place. Following strong organic growth of our platform in-market, we’re pleased to deliver a localised offering that will help Singaporean event creators be even more successful,” adds Silverstone.

Eventbrite is also expanding in Europe. The company recently opened its first Europe-based development centre in Madrid, after last year acquiring Spanish ticketing platform Ticketea.

 


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