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TEG launches live family entertainment arm

Australasian live entertainment powerhouse TEG has announced the creation of a new content division, TEG Experiences, bringing together its family entertainment, experiential and exhibitions businesses.

The division, a “new force in live family entertainment”, is part of TEG’s global growth strategy, following its recent acquisition of UK-based promoter and venue operator MJR Group.

Dustin Lockett will lead TEG Experiences as managing director. Lockett brings two decades of live entertainment experience to the role, previously serving as commercial director of BBC Studios ANZ and director of Seven West Media’s Red Live Events and Touring.

TEG chief executive Geoff Jones, who has worked with Lockett “several times before”, says he is the “perfect fit” to run TEG Experiences. Lockett will be based in Sydney and starts on 16 October.

Jones, who will produce the family content in partnership with global brands across Asia-Pacific, Europe and North America, comments: “TEG is Asia Pacific’s leading ticketing, live entertainment and technology business and now we are focused on becoming a global live entertainment business.

“TEG is Asia Pacific’s leading ticketing, live entertainment and technology business and now we are focused on becoming a global live entertainment business”

“The formation of TEG Experiences marks the next phase in that strategy. TEG is Australasia’s leader in live family entertainment and of the top three businesses of its kind globally in the fields of theatrical and experiential events. Now is the time for us to build on that position and pool our branded family entertainment assets.”

In addition to producing an array of new and alternative content, TEG Experiences will incorporate existing TEG divisions: live family entertainment show producer Life Like Touring, activation zone supplier the Entertainment Store and Lego-based installation creator Brickman Exhibitions.

Anton Berezin and Theresa Borg, who founded Life Like Touring and the Entertainment Store 20 years ago, are departing their roles as managing director and creative director of the divisions.

Borg will continue to work with TEG as a director and writer on future projects, while Berezin will seek a career as a performer.

TEG organises more than 200 live events a year through its owned promoters, TEG Dainty and TEG Live, and sells more than 28 million tickets annually via Ticketek, one of the ‘big two’ Australasian ticketing companies according to the International Ticketing Yearbook 2019.


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End of the indies: Frontier announces JV with AEG

AEG Presents, the world’s second-largest concert business, has joined forces with Frontier Touring, the leading promoter in Australasia, announcing a strategic joint venture that will see the two companies merge their operations in Australia and New Zealand.

The partnership, which follows Frontier’s recent merger with Michael Chugg’s Chugg Entertainment, combines “Frontier Touring’s broad regional expertise with AEG Presents’ extensive resources, and will continue to grow both companies’ presence throughout the Asia-Pacific region”, according to a joint statement.

After Live Nation, US-based AEG Presents (formerly AEG Live) is the #2 concert/festival promoter globally, according to Pollstar, with Frontier placing seventh, with nearly 2.3 million tickets sold, in 2018. The two companies have co-promoted a number of tours in Australia and New Zealand since 2007, including the Rolling Stones, Leonard Cohen, Taylor Swift’s Red and 1989 tours, Celine Dion, Justin Bieber, Rodriguez and Shawn Mendes.

According to the Wall Street Journal, AEG has acquired a 50% stake in Frontier Touring, part of Michael Gudinski’s Mushroom Group of companies.

Gudinski, who co-founded Frontier with Chugg in 1979, comments: “Frontier Touring has been fiercely independent since its inception in 1979, and there is no doubt that we’ve batted well above the average on a global level in recent years. AEG Presents has had a successful track record of partnering with independent promoters and allowing them to keep their entrepreneurial roots while also supporting their growth. This next step is about ensuring that Frontier, AEG and our joint-venture partners, Illusive Presents [led by Gudinski’s son, Matt] and Chugg Entertainment, raise the bar in the Australasian live market higher than ever before.”

Of the six Australian companies in the 2018 top 100 promoters list, just two are now independent

Frontier’s joint ventures with Illusive Presents and Chugg Entertainment will continue under the new arrangement (including Chugg’s stake in country music festival CMC Rocks, which will come under under the Frontier-AEG JV), which takes effect on 1 July. The deal does not, however, include the other 24 Mushroom Group companies.

“As demand for live entertainment continues to grow across Australia and New Zealand, we are incredibly excited to be working with a global entity like AEG Presents and the opportunities that it can bring to our business,” continues Gudinski. “AEG is known for its iconic assets, including the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, BST Hyde Park Festival, Stagecoach Country Music Festival, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival [and] such venues as Staples Center and the O2, among others.”

Frontier’s 2018 included tours by Paul McCartney, Celine Dion, Foo Fighters, the Killers, Harry Styles, Sam Smith, Rise Against and Ed Sheeran, the last of which became Australasia’s biggest-ever tour.

Jay Marciano, chairman and CEO of AEG Presents, says: “Frontier Touring and AEG Presents share a passion and commitment to delivering the best music experiences to artists and fans alike. Michael has built an incredibly respected organisation with a proven track record of success and we are pleased that he chose to partner with us.

“We look forward to working closely with him and his talented team to further grow the Frontier Touring brand.”

AEG’s partial acquisition of Frontier Touring, following Frontier’s merger with Chugg Entertainment, marks the end of an era in Australia, one of the last remaining major touring markets not controlled by multinational corporate entities.

“We are incredibly excited to be working with a global entity like AEG Presents and the opportunities that it can bring to our business”

Of the six Australian companies which placed on Pollstar’s 2018 top 100 promoters list, just two are now independent: 70th-placed Adrian Bohm Presents, which largely promotes comedy tours, and 93rd-placed Bluesfest Touring, the touring arm of Peter Noble’s Byron Bay Bluesfest. (Chugg was placed 47th.)

According to IQ’s 2018 Australasian market report, “the concert landscape of the Great Southern Land is still dominated by the ‘big four’” – Chugg, Gudinski, Michael Coppel and and Paul Dainty – with Live Nation “never far from the mind” of Australia’s indie promoters.

Live Nation, the world’s largest concert promoter, has had a presence in Australia since 2012, when it acquired Michael Coppel Presents (MCP), at that time the second-biggest promoter in Australia. MCP was later rebranded Live Nation Australia with Coppel as chief executive (he became chairman in March 2017, handing over the CEO reins to Roger Field).

Paul Dainty, meanwhile – whose Dainty Group company, along with Frontier, Chugg Entertainment and Live Nation/MCP, formerly dominated international touring in Australia – sold up in 2016, joining TEG, the parent company of leading ticketing platform Ticketek, that July. As IQ noted at the time, that deal created “an integrated live entertainment business (a “one-stop shop”, said TEG) to rival Live Nation Australia”.

Sydney-based TEG has since expanded into Asia, and has been linked with European ticketing/concert giant CTS Eventim, as well as several Chinese buyers.


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CMA welcomes three new staff members

Three new members of staff join the Nashville-based Country Music Association (CMA) this January. Emily Arvanitis takes on the role of live events coordinator, whereas Michelle Kirk and Megan Sykes join the strategic partnerships department, as director of integrated marketing and director of sales development and strategy, respectively.

Both Arvanitis and Kirk have worked at CMA previously in different roles. Arvanitis rejoins from management company Sandbox Entertainment (Midland, Faith Hill, Kacey Musgraves) and Kirk moves following a stint as brand partnership agent at William Morris Endeavor Entertainment (WME). Sykes also joins from an agency role, with Creative Artists Agency (CAA).

The two roles within CMA’s strategic partnerships department are newly created, as the company continues to focus on developing strategic marketing efforts. Established in 1958, CMA is the first trade association to promote a single genre of music, stating it is “dedicated to bringing the poetry and emotion of country music to the world”.

Country music has enjoyed a global revitalisation over the past few years, with artists such as Grammy Award-winning Musgraves bringing the genre to younger, international audiences. Spotify statistics show that country music streaming has seen a 21% increase outside of the United States since 2015, a figure that is expected to grow in coming years.

“CMA is dedicated to bringing the poetry and emotion of country music to the world”

Users in anglophone countries such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand are most likely to listen to country tunes, with a large following also presenting itself among Scandinavian listeners.

The resurgence of the genre is reflected in the popularity of live country music events. In 2013, AEG Europe and SJM Concerts worked with CMA to create London-based Country to Country (C2C) music festival. Since its inauguration, C2C has expanded to become Europe’s biggest country music festival. Last year, C2C played host to more than 80,000 country music lovers over three days in London, Dublin and Glasgow.

In response to demand among Australasian listeners, CMA has recently announced an international artist-focused touring series, Introducing Nashville. The tour launches in March in Australia and New Zealand, featuring artists Brandy Clark, Devin Dawson, Lindsay Ell and Tenille Towers. An industry event in Japan concludes the tour.


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New festival planned for “city on the up” Dundee

Craig Blyth, the promoter behind the ill-fated Angus Festival of House, has announced plans for a new two-day music festival in Dundee.

Blyth tells IQ it’s a “good time” for Scotland’s fourth largest city – a “city on the up, with lots of new investment” – to have its own major music festival, and says his initial meetings with Dundee City Council have been “positive”, with “good feedback” from councillors. A licensing application was submitted on Friday 12 August.

If approved, the as-yet-unnamed festival, earmarked for 12 and 13 August 2017 in the 400-acre Camperdown Park (pictured), will be the first for Blyth’s Jigsaw Events and Management, although it won’t be staging the event alone: Unlike for Festival of House, which was denied a licence after Angus councillors highlighted “significant gaps” in its planning, Jigsaw has partnered with experienced festival production company Loudsound (Creamfields, BST Hyde Park, RockNess) for the Dundee event, which Blyth calls “one of the best in the country”.

“We recognised where improvements can be made, and I think we’ve done it”

“We recognised where improvements can be made, and I think we’ve done it,” says Blyth.

Blyth explains the new festival will feature a range of music, including “live acts and a dance area”, as “we didn’t feel house was right for Dundee”, and will have a year-one capacity of 15,000.

Camperdown Park hosted BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend in 2006, he adds, so the “structure is there… the precedent is there. We know we can make this work.”


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It’s official: Going to concerts makes you happy

Regularly seeing music live can have a positive effect on mood and increase happiness, researchers in Australia have discovered.

Surveying a random sample of 1,000 Australians, Melissa K. Weinberg and Dawn Joseph of Deakin University in Victoria, Australia, found that the Personal Wellbeing Index (PWI) – defined as participants’ level of satisfaction with their standard of living, health, achievements in life, relationships, safety, community, connection, and future security – of those who attend live music events or go out dancing were “significantly higher” than those who “did not engage with music in those forms”.

“Engaging with music by dancing or attending musical events was associated with higher subjective wellbeing than for those who did not engage with music in these forms”

According to Weinberg and Joseph, the social component of gig-going is particularly important, with “people who sang or danced in the company of others reporting higher scores on many domains of SWB [subjective wellbeing] than those who engaged with music alone”.

While the researchers found definitively that those who go to concerts were, on average, happier, there is a caveat: Those who are able to regularly see live music are also likely to be better off financially. “In Australia, attending musical events is costly,” says their study, which can be read in full here, “and may be a privilege afforded to those who earn a higher income.”


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