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Italian live music events up 70% since 2019

The number of concerts held in Italy last year represented a 70% increase on 2019 figures, according to national trade body Assomusica.

Referencing Italian Society of Authors and Publishers (SIAE) data, the organisation said that more than 31,000 concerts took place in Italy in 2022 compared to 18,000 in the last pre-pandemic year.

Speaking during a panel at Milan Music Week, Assomusica president Carlo Parodi credited the rise of smaller performances, which take place mainly outside the large metropolitan centres, with boosting the total.

“This panel is the natural continuation of a social campaign by Assomusica on the impact and positive consequences that concerts and live shows have on the territories, especially in villages and small towns,” said Parodi, as per the Ticketing Business.

“These numbers demonstrate how live shows and contemporary Italian music satisfy the primary need for culture and sociality in the territories.”

Bergamo Mayor Giorgio Gori pointed out that 50 concerts had been held in the city over the past three summers as part of the NXT Station project, while the city has also funded the opening of a second venue, the Lazzaretto.

“We are happy to have become part of the large family of Italian entertainment”

Mantua Mayor Mattia Palazzi also discussed the rise of the Mantova Summer Festival in attracting tourists. The event has confirmed Greta Van Fleet and Diana Krall for 2024, with the city previously having hosted the likes of Sting, OneRepublic, Sigur Ros, Kasabian and Placebo.

Assomusica was founded in Florence in 1996. However, a raft of Italy’s leading promoters split from the organisation in June to join breakaway live music association Assoconcerti, which subsequently installed renowned artist manager and promoter Bruno Sconocchia as its first president. Sconocchia, who has worked with top Italian artists such as Fabrizio De André, Gino Paoli, Ornella Vanoni, Zucchero, Pooh and Lucio Dalla, previously led Assomusica from 2005-09.

Billboard Italia reported the group’s formation was sparked by the appointment of 30-year industry veteran Parodi as Assomusica president, which was supported by local promoters but caused friction with the larger organisations, who considered Sconocchia a better fit for the role due to Parodi’s independent background.

Parodi is founder of the Collegno’s Flowers Festival and the Hiroshima Mon Amour live music club. He became the sixth president of Assomusica, succeeding the late Vincenzo Spera, who passed away in a road accident earlier this year.

The presidential office of AGIS (Italian General Association of Entertainment) approved AssoConcerti’s membership earlier this month, reports iMusicFun.

“We are happy to have become part of the large family of Italian entertainment,” said Sconocchia. “The strength of AGIS lies precisely in its ability to bring together within it a plurality of realities that represent the entire Italian entertainment sector.”

 


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Breakaway Italian music trade body formed

A number of Italy’s leading promoters have split from Assomusica to join a breakaway live music association.

The trade body, Assoconcerti, has installed renowned artist manager and promoter Bruno Sconocchia as its first president. Companies including Friends & Partners, Live Nation, Vivo Concerti, Trident, Vertigo, BCM Concerti and D’Alessandro e Galli have signed up to the new organisation.

Other members include AC, Ambaradan, Color Sound, Comcerto, Esse Concerti, FVG Live, GF Entertainment, Gruppo Carramusa, Habita, International Music and Arts – Master’s Voice, Musica Grandi Produzioni, Producteam, Show Net, Sol Eventi, Studio’s Programmazione Spettacoli, The Base and Zed Entertainment’s World.

Assoconcerti says it will “represent and assist the operators of live music in terms of legislation, negotiations, trade union, facilitating relations with institutions and both public and private organisations”.

Assoconcerti’s formation was reportedly sparked by the appointment of Carlo Parodi as Assomusica president

According to Billboard Italia, the breakaway group’s formation was sparked by the appointment of Carlo Parodi as Assomusica president, which was supported by local promoters but caused friction with the larger organisations, who considered Sconocchia a better fit for the role due to Parodi’s independent background.

A music promoter from Turin with over 30 years’ experience, Parodi is founder of the Collegno’s Flowers Festival and the Hiroshima Mon Amour live music club. He became the sixth president of Assomusica last month, succeeding the late Vincenzo Spera, who passed away in a road accident earlier this year.

Sconocchia, who has worked with top Italian artists such as Fabrizio De André, Gino Paoli, Ornella Vanoni, Zucchero, Pooh and Lucio Dalla, previously led Assomusica from 2005-09.

Assomusica was founded in Florence in 1996. Its current list of members can be viewed here.

 


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Italy’s Assomusica elects new president

Italy’s live music association Assomusica has announced the election of promoter Carlo Parodi as its new president following the 35th National Assembly of Associates.

Parodi becomes the sixth president of Assomusica, which was founded in Florence in 1996, succeeding the late Vincenzo Spera, who passed away in a road accident earlier this year.

A music promoter from Turin with over 30 years’ experience, Parodi is the founder of the Collegno’s Flowers Festival and the Hiroshima Mon Amour live music club.

The Assembly also elected the new board of directors, which now comprises Vincenzo Bellini, Paolo De Biasi, Fulvio De Rosa, Giuseppe Gomez Paloma, Giampaolo Grotta and Rita Zappador. Di Biasi had served as interim president since Spera’s death.

“The most complex issues will be addressed immediately, with great attention and care”

“It is with a sense of pride, as well as great responsibility and commitment, that I welcome this appointment and the trust that is being placed in me and in the new board of directors,” says Parodi. “The most complex issues will be addressed immediately, with great attention and care.

“On a personal level, I will commit to being everyone’s president, and those who know me know that this isn’t just a cliché. I will try to play my part, bringing my experience to the table, and taking on all the issues in the lively, structured industry of live music. We are now past the pandemic, that has proven how complex this segment of the cultural industry is and has shown that, in order to stand strong, Assomusica needs to be cohesive. And this, perhaps, is one of the most challenging legacies left by Vincenzo Spera.”

Salvitelle-born Spera founded event management company Duemilagrandieventi in 1974 and went on to work with a host of international artists, from Miles Davis to Bob Dylan, as well as household Italian entertainers such as Beppe Grillo to Fabrizio De André.

He held the role of Assomusica president for more than a decade, representing the majority of live music companies in Italy. News of his death in March sparked an outpouring of tributes from the industry.

 


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Assomusica’s Vincenzo Spera tragically passes

Vincenzo Spera, president of Italy’s live music association Assomusica and founder of event management company Duemilagrandieventi, has tragically passed away aged 70.

The Salvitelle-born exec was hit by a scooter on the evening of 13 March in Corso Magenta, Genoa, a few meters from his home. He was reportedly taken to San Martino hospital where he passed away at around 1 am.

Spera founded Duemilagrandieventi in 1974 and went on to work with a whole host of international artists, from Miles Davis to Bob Dylan, as well as household Italian entertainers such as Beppe Grillo to Fabrizio De André.

Since 2012, he has held the role of president of the Association of Italian Organisers and Producers of Live Music Shows, representing the majority of live music companies in Italy.

Spera was also a member of the Superior Council of Entertainment, president of the European Live Music Association (ELMA) and former member of the Consulta dello Spettacolo of MiBACT.

He was awarded the title of Officer of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic, Commander of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic, Knight of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic and Ambassador of Genoa in the World by the Municipality of Genoa. He was also a prolific journalist.

“If Genoa has hosted concerts of great artists over the years, it is due above all to its tenacity, ability and dedication”

“During his Assomusica presidency, he carried out numerous battles in favour of the development and internationalisation of live music, placing the enhancement of young talents as an absolute priority and constantly committed to dialogue with the institutions – Italian and European – so that our sector had the right importance in the social, cultural and entrepreneurial life of the country,” reads a statement from Assomusica.

“Especially in the difficult years of the pandemic, his determination, strength and lucid vision made it possible not to disperse the entrepreneurial heritage and the work of the years in which his project made the association great and authoritative.

“We will not betray your desire to “cultivate emotions” with a smile on your lips, the cheerfulness and courage of those who want to get excited. May your – our music – always accompany you.”

Tributes from associations, politicians, live music executives and others have already begun pouring in.

ILMC head Greg Parmley paid tribute to the late exec, saying: “I’m truly shocked to hear the awful news about Vincenzo. He was a hugely important ambassador for the Italian live music business, and his tenaciousness during the pandemic helped thousands of professionals. I’ll miss his regular phone calls about whatever new campaign he was devising, and his input at the ILMC association meetings. But more so I’ll miss his fantastic hospitality because a dinner with Vincenzo typically lasted five hours and around 15 courses! He was a passionate and unique individual.”

Fellow Italian association Arci said Spera’s passing was “a tremendous loss to all who loved him and to the world of live music for which he dedicated his whole life with passion. He was a road companion in many battles to give dignity to a world made of dreams, work, toil, and often underestimated. He was close to us during the pandemic when even the Arci circles that make live music were at risk of closing permanently.”

“For years we have shared ideas and projects to reform the Live Show giving the right weight to contemporary folk music in all its declines. We’ll miss Vincent’s strength, generosity and grit.”

“An innovative and tireless entertainer of the cultural life of Genoa and Liguria”

Genoa mayor Marco Bucci paid tribute to Spera’s “tenacity, ability and dedication”. “It was no coincidence that he was appointed Ambassador of Genoa in the world. If Genoa has hosted concerts of great artists over the years, it is due above all to its tenacity, ability and dedication. He always worked with the city, ready to lend a hand when it was useful to the cause and always able to provide important advice that we will inevitably miss.”

Senator of the Democratic Party Roberta Pinotti hailed him as “an innovative and tireless entertainer of the cultural life of Genoa and Liguria and an important point of reference for the world of Italian culture and shows”.

Federico Gasperi, CEO of Genoa-based recording studio Nadir Music, adds: “I was a passionate rookie who didn’t dream of becoming a rockstar but to be a manager and organise concerts, and to me you were simply an idol. You called me one very late night to ‘ask’ me to show up in your office because there was ‘urgent work to be done’, you taught me, helped me, encouraged me, gave me credit, offered me lunches and dinners, took me to a thousand concerts and introduced dozens of important artists and colleagues. You walked me home in the car at night telling me all the tales of your amazing career. You’ve always treated me with respect, affection and generosity.”

 


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No place like Rome: Italy market report

Having been shut down by the coronavirus for longer than many of its European neighbours, Italy’s live music professionals have been more eager than most to resume business. Adam Woods reports on their mixed fortunes.

In a market known for passionate and frequently litigious extremes of competition, the breadth of the coalition that met the press at Milan’s San Siro stadium last September was striking.

Under the banner of promoters’ body Assomusica, the heads of Friends and Partners (F&P), Vivo Concerti, Live Nation Italia, Vertigo, D’Alessandro e Galli (Di & Gi), BPM, DNA, and others sat shoulder-to-shoulder to insist on a full live restart at full capacity.

“We have lost 99% of revenue,” said Live Nation’s Roberto De Luca. “Only with 100% capacity can we start again.”

They didn’t get their wish until April this year, and a rollercoaster year has been the consequence – stuffed with shows, not all of them successful, but bringing relief, to the top end of the market in particular.

“We saw huge growth in 2022, both for international artist and local artists”

“We saw huge growth in 2022, both for international artist and local artists,” De Luca tells IQ, almost exactly a year on from the San Siro showdown. “Talking only about big events in the summer period, we produced 22 stadiums, with 1.24m tickets sold; two big open-air shows, with 105,000 tickets sold; and two festivals – Firenze Rocks and I-Days. We sold 309,000 tickets for those.”

The biggest shows, of course, give an impression of health that doesn’t necessarily carry right through the market.

“The trouble with this summer is there were too many offers,” says Vittorio Dellacasa of Milan-based staging and production specialist Delamaison Productions. “In a normal season, a venue might have ten shows a month, and now they have 29 on a monthly basis. The big events work very well – like, capacity of 20,000 upwards. But the medium to small events, it’s tough for them.”

Italy was hit particularly hard and exceptionally early by Covid. In the live business, the resulting restrictions meant two long zombie years, and as with most other markets, the ramifications of those and other disasters are taking time to unravel.

“I’m pretty sure it will take another two or three years before we come back to the pre-pandemic level”

“After two years of pandemic and the Ukrainian crisis, we are all living a very difficult period,” says Vertigo CEO Andrea Pieroni. “I’m pretty sure it will take another two or three years before we come back to the pre-pandemic level. It won’t be an easy challenge, in my opinion, but I’m here, and I’m ready to rock.”

Pieroni says he didn’t draw his inspiration from his home market for his recent novel, È solo rock‘n’roll (It’s only rock’n’roll), set in the international live music business. But anyone who wanted to create a soap opera around a real-life live music industry could do worse than basing it in Italy, where passions run high and lawsuits rain down with remarkable regularity.

Last year, CTS Eventim’s TicketOne was fined almost €11m by the country’s competition authority Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato (AGCM) over allegations of abusing a dominant position in the Italian ticketing market, though the conviction and fine were repealed in March 2022.

Over the course of the case, back in 2019, venue group and promoter Zed Entertainment’s co-founder Valeria Arzenton, who had publicly decried the practices of TicketOne and Eventim-owned promoter F&P, was threatened by the Eventim side with a defamation suit.

This year, Viagogo was dramatically fined €23.5m for breaking Italy’s rules on secondary ticketing. And in February 2019, De Luca and other Live Nation and Viagogo executives, as well as Di & Gi’s Mimmo D’Alessandro, were cleared of wrongdoing by a court in Milan, having been charged with profiting from inflating ticket prices using the secondary market between 2011 and 2016.

All of which paints a picture of a wild and interesting market, and one that remains proudly unique in numerous ways.

“The main difference between Italy and other markets is that around 70% of the business is in domestic acts”

Italian talent
In an industry where international talent typically makes the world go round, Italy remains remarkably self-contained. Italian stars still rule the roost on home turf, and big touring acts can often find themselves feeling rather less famous and successful in Italy than they do elsewhere.

“Probably the main difference between Italy and other markets is that around 70% of the business is in domestic acts,” says Pietro Fuccio of Rome-based independent promoter DNA Concerti. “When I speak to an international agent, he doesn’t understand why his artist, big or small, doesn’t get the same attention in Italy as he gets everywhere else – and it is because they are smaller here than they are everywhere else.”

The difference in recent years is a significant shift towards younger artists, spearheaded by performers such as stadium-filler Ultimo, Milan’s Rkomi, Vicenza’s Sangiovanni, glam-rockers Måneskin, Bergamo’s indie-rockers Pinguini Tattici Nucleari, and hip-hopper Sfera Ebbasta.

As a barometer of Italian music’s health at home, every one of the Top 20 best-selling albums of last year was by an Italian artist, and for the first time ever, the same was also true of the year’s Top 10 singles.

“In the last five, six years, Italian music has got big exposure,” says Eric Bagnarelli of Live Nation-owned promoter Comcerto. “There are a lot of new acts that are getting good results, and they are a huge part of the market now.”

“You can do very well from touring just in Italy”

The 71-year-old Sanremo Music Festival – the inspiration for Eurovision – retains a remarkable power to guide the musical mainstream. Over the years, Sanremo has launched the careers of numerous Italian acts, including Andrea Bocelli, Laura Pausini, Eros Ramazzotti and Zucchero, but it has neatly pivoted towards younger, edgier talent in recent years. Måneskin won the contest in 2021, and 2022 winner Blanco this summer sold out all 350,000 tickets of his 27-date Blu Celeste national tour in hours.

But while Italian acts may be superstars at home, it is relatively rare that they have made it big else- where. Often, they have been brokered by powerful booking agencies who fulfil a management-style role, with little attempt at an international plot.

“It is still difficult,” says Attilio Perissinotti of booking agency BPM Concerti. “There are more Italian artists that now play Europe because in the last ten or 15 years a lot of people have left Italy and gone to cities like Barcelona or London. But usually Italian acts sing in Italian. It’s a barrier, you know?”

“You can do very well from touring just in Italy,” notes Christoph Storbeck, head of the conference programme at Linecheck, Italy’s leading music conference, “so a lot of artists don’t see it as natural or mandatory to go out into the world.”

Måneskin have made a piece of Italian history by becoming a genuine international act on the back of their Eurovision 2021 win. Will Italian stars start bursting the country’s borders in greater numbers? Vivo Concerti’s managing director and co-owner Clemente Zard, isn’t convinced.

“I think this is an exception,” he says. “They obviously sing in English, and they came out in a very, very strong way, but to say it will now happen to a lot of other Italian artists – no, it won’t happen. But definitely, Italian music can have success in other countries.”

“There’s not much room for indie promoters, although sometimes even indie promoters can do some big names”

Promoters
Italy represents a particularly heated battleground for the international corporates, with Eventim in the box seat as the majority owner of promoters Vivo Concerti, Di & Gi, Vertigo and F&P, as well as ticketing market leader TicketOne.

“The reality is that now there are only two big groups: Live Nation on one side and Eventim on the other,” says Pieroni at Vertigo, which broadly leans towards rock, both domestic and international. “There’s not much room for indie promoters, although sometimes even indie promoters can do some big names. But in general, if you are not part of a big corporation, things will be very hard.”

Vivo Concerti finds itself in a particularly strong position as the booking agent and promoter for many of Italy’s most successful new acts, including Ultimo, Blanco, Måneskin and others.

“We promote a lot of international acts, and we are growing on that side, but we did €120m, €130m revenues this year and 75%, 80% is from local acts,” says Zard.

“We are lucky because we are the promoter for practically all of the major new Italian artists. This summer we did 22 large-scale events, between stadiums and big arenas including Circo Massimo. And we are still growing because we are a young company – I am 32 years of age, all my employees are pretty young. We understand how things are moving because we are part of the generation that is moving them.”

“It was a good summer with big numbers, although most of the shows were postponements from 2020, so those tickets were sold a long time ago”

One of Vivo Concerti’s innovations is the incorporation of a 13-strong booking department. “That is very unusual for a promoter in Italy – Italians are not famous for being the most modern in the business.”

Vivo Concerti and F&P recently pooled their resources for the launch of a new media company, Friends & Vivo Multimedia, which aims to assist brands eager to capitalise on the power of live music. The venture defines the two companies’ reach as 3,000 shows per year and an audience of 5 million, with a combined 140 Italian artists, 50 international ones, and 45 DJs represented.

Of the other Eventim siblings, Vertigo reports a fitfully strong summer, flanked by a testing spring, and a potentially barn- storming autumn.

“It was a good summer with big numbers, although most of the shows were postponements from 2020, so those tickets were sold a long time ago,” says Pieroni. “Regarding shows we announced in early 2022 to happen in the summer, unfortunately the situation was not so good. On the other hand, we announced several arena shows to happen in the autumn, and those have sold incredibly well.”

Di & Gi, meanwhile, finds the market “in very good health right now,” according to promoter Enrico D’Alessandro, who reels off big shows: the Stones at the San Siro in June; Elton John’s final Italian performance at the same stadium a couple of weeks earlier; six dates for Roger Waters next year in Milan and Bologna.

“Like everywhere else, increased costs have affected our work, and this problem will not decrease in the near future”

Live Nation Italia, meanwhile, has all the international strength you would expect, as well as a fast-growing ticketing contender in Ticketmaster. De Luca rates development of local artists as a key priority for Live Nation over the coming years, though he notes that there are plenty of existential challenges in these tricky times.

“Like everywhere else, increased costs have affected our work, and this problem will not decrease in the near future,” he says. “On top of this there was, and there is, a shortage of personnel, as many left their usual jobs due to the lack of shows during the pandemic. We lost a lot of professional people, and we need to train new ones, and it will take time for that.”

Of course, there are independents that thrive, including Trident Music, with its affiliated booking agency BPM Concerti.
“We are one of the last big independent groups in Italy,” says Perissinotti at BPM, which holds a roster of around 50 Italian acts such as Pinguini Tattici Nucleari, Luchè, Paky, Nayt, while also taking care of Italian gigs for international artists such as Jethro Tull, Yes, Tokio Hotel and V**gra Boys. Trident handles Jovanotti, Sfera Ebbasta, and Tiromancino, and events including the Jova Beach Party’s recurring summer tour of Italian beaches.

In July, Milan-based independent Radar Concerti sought the comfort of a larger group when it became the latest member of the Nordic All Things Live collective.

“I was with Live Nation for ten years, and I was missing the information,” says Radar Concerti’s Fabrizio Pompeo. “Now we have a lot more of that, a lot of colleagues sharing what they know about different markets. Being part of a bigger company means having a different strategy – bigger shows, maybe festivals.

“When you’re a smaller independent, you try and grow some new artist, and then when things start to happen they come and say, ‘Sorry, we went to Live Nation. Thanks, you did a great job.’ But already, I think people are treating us differently.”

“Some very good medium and small shows are suffering on the sales, and production-wise, all of us in Europe have lost a lot of personnel”

Under veteran Claudio Trotta, Italian pioneer Barley Arts also forges on, bringing Queen + Adam Lambert, Deftones, and others to Italy this summer and selling 170,000 tickets for three Bruce Springsteen dates next May and July at the Parco Urbano G. Bassani in Ferrara, Rome’s Circo Massimo, and Monza’s Autodromo Nazionale.

“2022 has seen ups and downs,” says Barley Arts head of booking Marco Ercolani. “There was a slow spring, a hectic and way too busy summer, and a difficult fall.”

For obvious reasons, including rising touring costs, squeezed disposable income, market saturation, and other knock-on effects from Covid and the Russo-Ukrainian War, Ercolani and Trotta predict a difficult time to come.

“It’s going to be tough,” says Trotta. “Very tough. But for now we are having a very good year. We are back working, we are doing shows and tours that have been rescheduled five, even six times, and we are doing some new shows as well, with some great successes. But some very good medium and small shows are suffering on the sales, and production-wise, all of us in Europe have lost a lot of personnel.”

“I tried a couple of times to do multiple-stage festivals and camping, but the ticket sales remained the same”

Festivals
Festivals mean something a little different in Italy than elsewhere. Multi-stage events are rare, as is onsite camping, so the typical Italian festival is more akin to a concert series, often spread across several weeks, with a handful of acts and one clear headliner each day.

“We don’t have a festival with multiple stages and a 60,000-70,000-capacity,” says Bagnarelli. “We don’t have anything that is comparable to Glastonbury or Reading and Leeds.”

It is an issue that has dogged the market over the years. “I tried a couple of times to do multiple-stage festivals and camping, but the ticket sales remained the same,” says Pieroni. “So why spend more money? We also have to consider that June and July in Italy are the hottest months. It’s not like northern Europe where you have 22 degrees during the day and people feel like they are in heaven. In Italy, they would feel like they were in hell.”

Among the most recent attempts to challenge the paradigm was the eclectic pop and rock event Home Festival, initially in Treviso and latterly in Venice, which appeared to signal a new dawn in Italian festival habits, drawing 80,000 at its peak in 2018. But its Treviso-based promoter Home Entertainment fell on hard times after a troubled tenth edition in 2019, and the following year the company went into liquidation.

For his part, Zard is convinced festivals are another area of the market ripe for modernisation. Having brought on board Daze Events’ Alessandro Ravizza as senior promoter and head of festivals development, Vivo Concerti is involved in Florence’s two-day, multi-stage electronic festival Decibel Open Air, for which Zard predicts bigger and better things – just as he does the market at large.

“It’s important for Italy to have festivals in a proper way and not only headline shows”

“It will take some time, but I’m sure we will achieve this result because it’s important for Italy to have festivals in a proper way and not only headline shows,” he says. “In the coming years, we will surely invest more in festivals we have at the moment, festivals we will acquire, and festivals we will start ourselves in the coming years.”

Founded in 1998, Di & Gi’s Lucca Summer Festival is the veteran of the scene, its 2022 edition the 23rd to grace the Tuscan city – this year across 15 nights in the Piazza Napoleone and on a site beside the historic city walls.

“We registered 150,000 attendees in this edition, and we had John Legend, Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, Zucchero, and a few other major Italian artists,” says D’Alessandro. “You could really feel the joy of the audience at being able to come back.”

Di & Gi’s latest festival venture was the six-day La Prima Estate in Lido di Camaiore in the province of Lucca, which had its first edition in June with space for around 5,000 and a range of daytime activities – yoga on the beach, cooking classes, trekking in the hills – to further sweeten evening line-ups headlined by Duran Duran, The National, Anderson .Paak, and others.

“It’s a 360-degree experience,” says D’Alessandro. “We realise that a concert is not enough anymore for this audience, so let’s do it in a great location where they can spend the day on the beach or having a lot of different experiences. We have 1,000 km of coast, but I don’t recall an Italian festival right on the beach.”

Rock in Roma, which was launched by Maximiliano Bucci and Sergio Giuliani as Romarock in 2002 in tribute to Rock In Rio and Coachella, this year chalked up its 19th edition, with Massive Attack, Chemical Brothers, Rkomi, Blanco, and others playing through June and July, again in the headline show format.

Firenze Rocks, with Muse, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Green Day, and Metallica headlining across four days, leveraged Live Nation firepower in June, while I-Days did the same in Milan with Greta Van Fleet, Imagine Dragons, Rkomi, and Green Day once more.

Other Italian festivals include techno event Kappa FuturFestivalin Turin; drum and bass festival SUNANDBASS in Sardinia; Mi Ami in Milan; and indie event Ypsigrock in Castelbuono, Sicily.

Music Innovation Hub’s Linecheck, meanwhile, leads the line for industry conferences, taking place in Milan in November. “It’s the main conference in general,” says Storbeck. “We are happening within the great framework of Milan Music Week, so there’s stuff happening all over the city, more or less coordinated.”

“More than in the past, the national market is full of international artists… Italy is finally a global destination”

Venues
Valeria Arzenton of Zed Entertainment, the Padova-based venue operator and promoter whose ten buildings include the 2,500-cap Gran Teatro Geox, the 3,916-seat Kioene Arena, and 32,420-cap Stadio Euganeo in Padova and further venues in Brescia, Mantova, and Conegliano, found herself in the role of whistle-blower in 2019 when she gave anonymous testimony to an Italian TV show about abuse of a dominant position on the part of TicketOne.

The ensuing scandal was noisy and painful, but from Arzenton’s perspective it was ultimately worth- while, as the AGCM imposed on the market leader the obligation to open up to competing ticketing operators.

“In October, the final vote of the administrative justice will decide definitively the status of the trial,” she says. “In any case, from the first AGCM verdict, the market is irrevocably opened to other ticketing companies. In any case: goal achieved.”

Zed’s venues are carefully rising again after two full years of Covid, and Arzenton’s other projects include a musical based on the music of late Italian star Raffaella Carrà, which will debut in Spain in autumn 2023, but what Arzenton sees in Italy is an increasingly globalised market.

“More than in the past, the national market is full of international artists,” she says. “Also, promoters are more daring than ever with new venues, with festivals, with more dates. Festivals are becoming more familiar and more appreciated by the audience. Italy is finally a global destination.”

Evidently, other venue operators think so. Last year, Eventim announced plans to build a new multipurpose arena in Milan. Scheduled for completion in 2025, the 16,000-capacity MSG (Milano Santa Giulia) arena will be one of the largest in Italy and will also include an outdoor area of more than 10,000 square metres for open-air events.

The venue will compete with Oak View Group and Live Nation’s promised Santa Giulia Arena – which will, like the MSG, be used in the 2026 Winter Olympics – as well as the 12,700-seat Mediolanum Forum in Assago, near Milan, which has served the city since 1990 and is one of two Italian members of the European Arena Association (EAA).

Last year, ASM Global entered the Italian market for the first time when it secured the contract to operate the new 6,000-seat basketball arena in nearby Cantù, which is due to be completed in late 2023 and has potential concert applications.

Meanwhile, F&P’s Ferdinando Salzano is one of the movers behind the 100,000-capacity RCF Arena, the largest outdoor music venue in Europe, which opened in Reggio Emilia, near Bologna, just as Covid bit, but still sold out all tickets for its opening concert, featuring local superstar Luciano Ligabue. Harry Styles is booked in for July 2023.

 


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Assomusica: ‘It is urgent to resume live concerts’

Italian live music trade body Assomusica is urging the country’s prime minister to provide a roadmap for the sector’s reopening to ensure the summer season can go ahead.

Earlier this month, PM Mario Draghi set out his intention to announce a timeline for the easing of Covid measures, with government ministers declaring Italy was about to enter a “new phase” of the pandemic.

“In the coming weeks we will continue on this path of reopening,” said Draghi. “Based on the scientific evidence, and continuing to follow the trend of the epidemiological curve, we will announce a calendar for overcoming the current restrictions.”

A growing number of European countries have already signalled the end of Covid-19 restrictions. However, apart from the lifting of the outdoor mask mandate, few changes have been confirmed in Italy up to this point. And while welcoming Draghi’s stated ambition, Assomusica president Vincenzo Spera has reiterated the urgency of the situation.

“In numerous hearings in parliament… we have asked [on behalf of] the entire supply chain for a clear roadmap to ensure the full operation of the summer season of contemporary popular music concerts,” says Assomusica president Vincenzo Spera. “We also asked for a meeting with [health minister Roberto] Speranza to touch on this issue and reiterate that in light of the reopening of almost all the activities, we cannot continue to remain closed as we have done up to now in compliance with the restrictions and the public.

“Indeed, we have developed safety protocols for the public and have been able to demonstrate that there have been no cases or outbreaks of Covid 19 in the few shows that have become possible in these two year. Now, it is urgent to resume live concerts.”

“If we do not have certain dates and clear rules very soon to face the spring and summer season, the live sector risks collapse”

Italy’s state of emergency is currently set to expire on 31 March. It is not yet known whether the government plans to extend it, but the Italian green pass system is not expected to be scaled back anytime soon, with some experts maintaining that it must stay in place over summer “at least”.

The consumption of food and drink at concert halls and other indoor locations is banned until the end of March, which currently renders concerts “economically unstable”, according to trade associations. A raft of Italian trade bodies launched a campaign last month to draw attention to the ongoing shutdown. Arci, Assomusica, Bauli in Piazza, KeepON LIVE and MMF Italy have united to launch the campaign under the banner #Nessunconcerto (no concert).

“The operators in the sector are really tired and we would all like to go back to doing our job – in the squares, in the stadiums, in the sports halls – and bring the audience back to relive the emotions that only live music can offer to restart our sector,” adds Spera. “The situation of discrimination in the live sector is becoming unsustainable. If we do not have certain dates and clear rules very soon to face the spring and summer season, the live sector risks collapse.”

Meanwhile, Justin Bieber is the latest superstar act to be announced for Italy’s month-long Lucca Summer Festival, staged next to the historic Lucca City Walls. Bieber’s appearance is scheduled for 31 July. The 2022 line-up already features Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets, Liam Gallagher + Kasabian, Robert Plant + Alison Krauss and John Legend with Celine Dion confirmed for 2023.

 


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Italy’s live music biz launches #noconcert campaign

A raft of Italian trade bodies have joined forces to launch a new campaign drawing attention to the ongoing shutdown of the country’s live music industry.

AssoMusica, Arci, Assomusica, Bauli in Piazza, KeepON LIVE and MMF Italy have united to launch the campaign under the banner #Nessunconcerto (no concert).

Concerts have been banned until today (31 January) and the country’s state of emergency has been extended to 31 March 2022, amid the spread of the omicron variant.

The consumption of food and drink at concert halls and other indoor locations is banned until the end of March.

The use of FFP2 masks is also compulsory on public transport, in theatres, concert halls and cinemas and for sporting events until at least 31 March.

In a statement, the associations say that the enduring restrictions – particularly the ban on food and drink – render concerts “economically unstable”.

“The entire sector is once again forgotten”

The bodies point out that the sector has been almost “totally silent” since the very beginning of the pandemic.

“Although, last October, there was a faint hope that we could start towards a gradual, albeit slow, restart, in recent months an entire sector, that of contemporary live music, is once again forgotten,” reads the statement.

The #Nessunconcerto launched exactly one year after the associations’ previous campaign, L’ultimo Concerto? (The Last Concert?), a campaign that has been defined as ‘one of the largest webmobs’ the sector has seen.

The initiative launched on social media at the end of January 2021 when Italian venues posted images with the year of foundation and the year 2021 with a question mark to suggest that the crisis may force the permanent closure of these spaces sooner rather than later.

The culmination of the campaign involved 130 Italian venues livestreaming ‘silent’ performances from renowned artists including Lacuna Coil on 27 February 2021, marking a full year since the first venues closed and stages fell silent.

The campaign was originally launched in Spain to highlight the increasingly uncertain future of music venues.

 


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Italian music bodies demand immediate intervention

Italian event bodies have written an open letter to the government requesting a series of measures to ensure the live sector’s survival.

Assomusica, Arci and KeepOn LIVE, who previously united for ‘The Last Concert?’ campaign, have responded after the authorities banned concerts until 31 January and extended the country’s state of emergency to 31 March 2022.

Nightclubs will also remain closed until the end of this month, and the consumption of food and drink at concert halls and other indoor locations is also banned until the end of March, amid the spread of the omicron variant. The use of FFP2 masks is also compulsory on public transport, in theatres, concert halls and cinemas and for sporting events until at least 31 March.

The groups’ letter says the ban “should be reviewed and lifted as soon as possible, with a view to restoring more acceptable conditions” to the industry. It also calls for compensation for artists and behind-the-scenes staff in the event of sudden closures and an extension of the redundancy fund, along with social safety nets and other assistance.

It is paradoxical that a sector… of fundamental importance in the socio-cultural and economic life of the country, continues to be discriminated against

“Live music shows require time and planning,” it says, adding that the current situation has returned Italian event organisers to the “complete darkness in which they have sailed for almost two years”.

“It is paradoxical that a sector… of fundamental importance in the socio-cultural and economic life of the country, continues to be discriminated against compared to the rest of the entertainment funded by the FUS [Unified Fund for the Performing Arts],” it continues.

Arci, Assomusica and KeepOn LIVE conclude by asking for “immediate intervention” from the government “to try to keep alive what little is left of one of the categories most penalised by the entire pandemic”.

 


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Italy’s live sector slams “useless” capacity increase

Italian promoters’ association Assomusica has slammed the country’s latest rollback of restrictions as being “inadequate and useless”.

Capacity restrictions for live events were increased last week, as experts said the use of vaccine passports is slowing the spread of coronavirus.

Football stadiums are now allowed to reach 75% capacity, up from 50 per cent at the start of the season, indoor sporting arenas rise to 50% from 35%, and indoor music venues increase to 80% from 50%.

“An increase to 80% of the capacity for indoor shows is totally inadequate and useless – both for most of the concerts already postponed several times (many of which sold out and are impossible to reschedule without having to arbitrarily choose who has the right to see the show and who does not) and for future ones who need 100% capacity and no distancing,” writes the association.

“it is still not clear what the implementing provisions will be and when they will be made such in relation to the indoor tours”

“Apart from these percentages used in the media, it is still not clear what the implementing provisions will be and when they will be made such in relation to the indoor tours and those scheduled in the summer of 2022.”

“It is, therefore, essential to set a target percentage of the vaccinated population and consequently a certain date for the restart that is no longer postponable that today can count on the Green Pass deemed suitable in any other form of ‘gathering’ but obviously not for concerts that need a lot of advance warning to be properly organised.”

The denouncement follows a “desperate appeal” to the Italian government in late September, which was backed by trade associations and more than 300 domestic and foreign artists.

The open letter demands that capacity limits and the requirement for social distancing are abolished immediately – though it is proposed that masks and temperature checks upon entry to an event are mandatory.

The association and the signatories have called for a shared plan to be formalised by the government before 31 October.

 


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Italian industry rebukes gov over €222bn recovery

Italy’s live industry has admonished the government for failing to recognise ‘the cultural, economical and social importance’ of live music in its new recovery plan.

The ‘National Recovery and Resilience Plan’ (PNRR), totaling €222 billion, was presented to parliament on Monday (26 April) by president Mario Draghi.

Of the €222 bn, €6.7 bn has been allocated to culture with the aim to “increase the level of attractiveness of the country’s cultural and tourist system through the modernization of both tangible and intangible infrastructures”.

However, in the spending plan for culture, music venues (or theatres, as Italy prefers to call them) are only referenced once as part of a €300m bid to “promote eco-efficiency and the reduce energy consumption” in cultural venues.

Roberto De Luca, president of Live Nation Italy, told IQ: “I am very pleased about this PNRR but unfortunately, I do not find a single line regarding live music industry. This a terrible mistake as live music is a fundamental part of our culture, as well as an industry that has a huge economic impact on every territory where live music is happening.

“I do not find a single line regarding live music industry. This a terrible mistake as live music is a fundamental part of our culture”

“Live music has both direct and indirect effects. As an example, let’s look at what the FirenzeRocks festival means for Firenze. In 2019, it generated an economic impact of more than €40m as our audience spent between €300–500 per person on hotels, museums, restaurants and so on. Not just in Italy, summer live shows are happening in historic squares, castles, Roman and Greek amphitheaters, so I truly believe that is a driver for our own culture.”

Claudio Trotta, founder of Barley Arts and Slow Music, expressed similar disappointment to IQ: “I don’t see at all in this plan the recognition of the cultural, economical and social importance of live popular music and its industry. I don’t see any investment at all in new venues for music nor attention to professional training for the future generation.

“According to this plan, culture is important only if connected to the benefits that it creates for tourism and not for the citizens and the people. Culture is important by itself, not just when it’s used to draw tourism.

“On another note, I would love to see in this full plan a real and accurate attention to the biodynamic balance and not only some generic references to a digital, ecological and green transition.”

Vincenzo Spera, president of Italy’s live music association Assomusica, tells IQ he is particularly concerned about how the measures will affect the next generation.

“According to this plan, culture is important only if connected to the benefits that it creates for tourism”

“We currently do not know if and how the €6bn envisaged by the PNRR will be allocated to the live music sector. We are therefore very worried, especially because we believe that this could be a fundamental opportunity for socio-cultural aggregation at the European level.

“Obviously this does not concern, or should not only concern Italy, but all European countries, considering that music is the tool for the greatest socialisation and aggregation among young people. It is no coincidence that there is a measure called Next Generation. By continuing in this way, however, there is a risk that future generations will not derive any benefit from the envisaged measures but rather pay the price.

“We think that there is no better opportunity than this to realize some fundamental points which, especially following the pandemic, become particularly urgent: the first point [in the spending plan] concerns technological innovation, of which we are carriers and experimenters; the second point refers, instead, to the eco-sustainability of the live entertainment system and its ability to always attract new audiences to the territories, to discover new realities and to generate ‘green economy’, helping to enhance sites that are important from the point of view historical-architectural.

“The third point concerns the possibility of finally creating premises, structures and spaces of the future, conceived as they should be today, multifunctional, interactive and synergistic between the various genres of entertainment. The time has also come to create a physical and not just a virtual platform that can allow various European cultures to circulate in different countries.”

“The government propaganda is telling everyone that Italy is slowly getting back to a sort of normality but we still have restrictions”

Fabrizio Pompeo, Radar Concerti, tells IQ: “Yes, the headline of the news is great but going deeper into it, there is no such great news for the music business as nothing is coming directly to our industry. The €6bn is going to feed a very wide range of activities and not going to the music industry.

“The government propaganda is telling everyone that Italy is slowly getting back to a sort of normality but we still have restrictions which are making impossible arranging a concert. Not only the distancing procedures but we still have a curfew on from 10 pm to 5 am.”

As of Monday (26 April), eleven of the twenty Italian regions have been permitted to reopen music venues for capped and socially distanced concerts.

The eleven regions – including Lazio, Veneto, Piedmont, Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna – have been dubbed ‘yellow’ under the country’s colour-coded system of coronavirus restrictions and are now allowed to partially reopen.

Venues in the yellow zone can now reopen at 50% capacity, with no more than 500 people inside and 1,000 people outside – all of whom must observe one-metre social distancing. The 10 pm–5 am curfew is still in place.

 


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