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Pumpkins take The World Is A Vampire to Australia

The Smashing Pumpkins are taking their The World Is A Vampire touring rock festival to Australia in 2023.

Presented by One World Entertainment, the band will be joined by Jane’s Addiction, Amyl & The Sniffers, RedHook, Battlesnake on the 10-city rock “carnival”, with local acts opening each night.

Stops include Stuart Park, Wollongong (15 April), the 20,000-cap Sandstone Point Hotel (16 April), Sydney’s Hordern Pavilion (18 April), Newcastle Entertainment Centre (19 April), Hastings Foreshore (22 April), Kyral Castle, Ballarat (23 April), Adelaide Entertainment Centre (26 April), PICA Port Melbourne (27 April) and Nepean Aerospace Park, Penrith (29 April), before wrapping up on at Broadwater Parklands on the Gold Coast on 30 April.

In addition, the shows will feature professional wrestling matches between Billy Corgan’s NWA and the Wrestling Alliance of Australia”

Tickets cost from A$178.90 to $209 (€116 to €136).

In addition, the shows will feature professional wrestling matches between Smashing Pumpkins’ frontman Billy Corgan’s National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) and the Wrestling Alliance of Australia (WAOA).

As previously announced, the Pumpkins are partnering with Live Nation-owned Latin American giant Ocesa to debut the festival in Mexico at Ocesa’s Foro Sol (cap. 65,000) stadium, on 4 March. Interpol, Turnstile, Peter Hook & The Light, DeafHeaven and The Warning are also slated to perform at the first edition, along with Ekkstacy, Chelsea Wolf, Margaritas Posridas, In The Valley Below, El Shirota and Acid Waves.

 


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The Kid LAROI announces Fornite experience

Australian rapper The Kid LAROI has confirmed details of his ‘Wild Dreams’ Fortnite experience, which will include unreleased music.

The experience, set to launch this Friday 27 January, will be “an immersive, interactive musical experience portraying LAROI’s journey from humble beginnings to headlining sold-out performances as a worldwide superstar”.

According to the announcement, the Fortnite experience will feature The Kid LAROI’s new single ‘Love Again’ alongside three, unreleased tracks.

“In this interactive experience, players will quest throughout the cybercity ‘Laroitown’, ultimately attending a jam-packed LAROI concert featuring fan-favorite music and new music. Following the performance, players can join LAROI for the Afterparty. In the Afterparty, listen to the Wild Dreams mix on loop and get a look at the life of LAROI — both on tour and beyond.”

The ‘Wild Dreams’ experience will also include quests, with players able to earn XP and special The Kid LAROI items

The ‘Wild Dreams’ experience will also include quests, with players able to earn XP and special The Kid LAROI items.

Ahead of the experience, players can compete in a special cup from today for the opportunity to unlock Kid LAROI-inspired outfits, alongside a special banner icon and emoticon.

To participate, players must select the ‘The Kid LAROI Wild Dreams’ tile on the discover screen or enter the island code 2601-0606-9081.

In recent months, Fortnite has collaborated with the likes of Metallica, Charlie Puth, Wu-Tang Clan and Silk Sonic.

 


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Splendour in the Grass organisers fined $100k

The organisers of Australia’s Splendour in the Grass (SITG) have been fined A$100,000 (€63,000) for the traffic chaos that marred this year’s festival.

The first day of the Secret Sounds-promoted event in North Byron Parklands on 22 July was called off amid what was described as the worst weather in its 20-year history.

Thousands of festival-goers had been forced to wait up to eight hours to get into the site the day before due to the conditions, leading the main campsite to be closed to new arrivals. Those still queueing the next morning were redirected to an off-site camping ground, 13km away.

As the knock-on effects caused significant delays to local traffic, NSW’s Department of Planning and Environment has ordered SITG’s parent company Billinudgel Property to pay $10,000 each to 10 schools within a 10-kilometre radius of the venue for failing to comply with its traffic management plan.

“Traffic queuing resulted in short term, but significant traffic delays to the community, including school children travelling home from school on Thursday, 21 July 2022,” says a spokesperson for the authority. “After considering all of the options available to us, we have decided that the best outcome for the community is for the company to contribute financially to improvements to nearby schools through an enforceable undertaking.

“We place strict conditions on events such as Splendour in the Grass for a reason, and organisers need to abide by them.”

“We faced an unprecedented weather event, unlike anything we have seen in our 30 years of presenting festivals”

“Our compliance officers will once again be on the ground at that festival, to ensure those revised plans are followed,” adds the spokesperson.

Secret Sounds co-CEO Jessica Ducrou apologises to those impacted by the delays.

“Residents and schoolchildren were frustrated by unusually long queues, made worse by the weather, as Splendour festival goers tried to access their camping accommodation,” she says.

“We had a rigorous planning process in place through the Department of Planning which included council involvement and local committees such as the local traffic committee, local emergency management committee and a regulatory working group.

“However, we faced an unprecedented weather event, unlike anything we have seen in our 30 years of presenting festivals.”

Billinudgel Property will also be required to carry out an independent audit of the event a year early. In the meantime, the firm has been warned it needs to review and update its management plans ahead of its Falls Festival scheduled for later this month.

“Our compliance officers will once again be on the ground at that festival, to ensure those revised plans are followed,” adds the spokesperson.

 


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AXS to launch in Australia

AEG-owned ticketing company AXS is opening an Australian office early in the new year, backed by Frontier Touring.

The firm will reportedly launch the operation next month, promising to shake up a domestic market currently dominated by Live Nation’s Ticketmaster and TEG’s Ticketek.

“We feel like there’s an opportunity for a third major player to come in, but we don’t want to just come in and do business the same old way,” US-based AXS CEO Bryan Perez tells The Australian.

“We think that there’s a new and better business model out there, where ticketing may be a little bit more non-exclusive and open.”

AEG announced a strategic JV with Australasia’s Frontier Touring in 2019, which saw the two companies merge their operations in Australia and New Zealand.

“We think the time is right to help AXS come into Australia and, if nothing else, shake it up”

“We’ve been frustrated by the ticketing landscape for probably five or six years,” adds Frontier CEO Dion Brant. “We think the time is right to help AXS come into Australia and, if nothing else, shake it up.”

LA-headquartered AXS is the official ticketing partner for over 350 premier venues, sports teams, event organisers around the world. It has additional offices in the US in Charlotte, Cleveland, Dallas and Denver, alongside European bases in London and Sweden.

AEG took full control of AXS from co-owners TPG Capital and Rockbridge Growth Equity in 2019 and rolled out its resale solution in the UK in April of the same year. It has been the official resale ticketing partner for AEG in North America since 2018.

 


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Falls Festival organisers halt site move plan

Plans to find a new home in Victoria for Australia’s long-running Falls Festival have fallen through after organisers withdrew from the planning process.

Promoter Secret Sounds had previously announced the travelling festival would move from its longtime home in the seaside town of Lorne to Birregurra in Colac, a small city in the western district of Victoria, after the local authority approved a planning permit.

However, local farmers raised concerns over the event’s potential impact on cattle at neighbouring farms and launched an appeal against the decision, which was due to be heard in February and March. However, the Sydney Morning Herald reports that organisers have now decided to withdraw from the process.

“A small group of objectors opposed the planning permit approval for Falls Birregurra in Murroon, and applied to VCAT [Victorian Civil Administrative Tribunal]  to put a halt to it,” says Secret Sounds co-CEO Jessica Ducrou. “Unfortunately, following initial compulsory mediation, the parties could not achieve a resolution.

“Given the time and expense, we have decided to withdraw from the approval process”

“Given the time and expense, we have decided to withdraw from the approval process. It has taken two years of consultation and planning permit approval processes to get to this point and despite support from the local community and Colac Otway Council, the process has been stalled by the objectors through VCAT.”

Dicrou adds that organisers will re-assess the VCAT approval process next year.

The travelling festival is relocating from regional Victoria for the first time in its 30-year history and is set for Sidney Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne from 29-31 December with acts such as Arctic Monkeys, Lil Nas X and Chvrches.

Additional legs will also go ahead in Byron Bay (31 December 2022 to 2 January 2023) and Freemantle (7-8 January 2023).

 


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Australian orgs welcome $34m live music pledge

Australian music organisations have welcomed a pledge by the Victorian government to invest A$34 million in the state’s live music sector.

Premier Daniel Andrews, who is seeking a third term, and minister for creative industries Steve Dimopoulos have also promised cash to support 10,000 concerts over the next four years and $1,000 grants for artists if Labor prevail in this weekend’s state election.

The commitment also includes  $2.5m for a Live Music Major Events Fund, providing grants of up to $50,000 for festivals across the state, plus $2.4m for music industry charity Support Act to assist Victorian artists, managers, crew and music workers who face challenges with their mental health.

“We greatly appreciate this election commitment from the Victorian government,” says Support Act CEO Clive Miller. “If realised, it will have an enormous impact for our programs in Victoria, and help us to help the industry build back better after the disruptions of the past few years.

“We know from our own research that people working in music have elevated levels of psychological distress, suicide ideation, anxiety and depression, and that our prevention, education and training programs have real impact, as they are designed and delivered by people who work in music and have lived experience.”

“It will go a long way to helping the music industry get back on its feet and share great music with Victorians”

Miller adds that Support Act’s remit had increased significantly over the past few years, and that he hopes other governments – and the Victorian opposition – are also factoring Support Act into their upcoming budget planning.

The Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) has also backed the move.

“The Victorian music community was hit hard by extended lockdowns leading to live performance cancellations, and now face the challenges of reopening with rising costs, skills shortages and poor consumer confidence,” it says.

“This commitment addresses a range of aspects in the music ecosystem including live music, festivals, education and importantly the mental health toll on our community. It will go a long way to helping the music industry get back on its feet and share great music with Victorians.”

 


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Australian fest insurance dispute goes to court

A dispute between insurer Lloyd’s and Australia’s Subsonic relating to the festival’s 2019 cancellation has gone to court.

Event organiser Scott Commens is suing Lloyd’s for A$900,000 (€581,000) after the insurer argued the 5,000-cap electronic music festival, set for Riverwood Downs, near Monkerai, could still have proceeded despite the Black Summer bushfires raging in the area.

The Advocate reports that Lloyd’s stands by its decision not to pay out, with the company’s barrister Mark Newton pointing to the venue taking other bookings in the month that Subsonic was due to have been held.

“There was a variety of reasons why the landowner decided the event could not take place,” added Newton, who said the major issue was a question of fact about the “policy trigger” for the cancellation.

“It was a pretty dire circumstance”

According to documents previously filed with the federal court, Commens claims the December 2019 cancellation was necessary due to the extreme weather threat.

Stephen Walsh, representing Commens at a case management hearing earlier this month, said his client was seeking compensation for expenses incurred that had been calculated in a forensic accountant’s report.

Adjourning the case to February, on a date to be confirmed, Chief Justice James Allsop described the 2019/20 bushfires – which claimed 34 lives – as some of the “worst in living memory”. “It was a pretty dire circumstance,” he added.

 


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‘Financial barriers’ slow Oz market’s recovery

Financial barriers are slowing the post-pandemic recovery of Australia’s live music market, according to a new report.

The Live Attendance Update, conducted in October 2022, gives insights into the changing habits of gig-goers, revealing that money worries has replaced Covid concerns as the main deterrent to attending concerts.

But the long tail of the pandemic still continues to impact attendance, with 44% of audiences reporting they are attending fewer performing events than prior to March 2020, while spending levels have not increased since early 2022.

“Price sensitivity may increase, as financial reasons have now overtaken the virus as the main barrier to attendance,” says the report by research agency Patternmakers. “Financial barriers are now affecting 40% of audiences, up from 24% in August 2022. It’s likely to be a bumpy ride, with factors like re-entry anxiety and lacking energy to go out also impacting decisions.”

“While most audiences are feeling confident and many are optimistic about increasing their attendance in future, new barriers are emerging related to economic factors and lifestyle changes”

On a more encouraging note, 71% of the 5,438 people surveyed said they are “ready to attend [shows] now” – up from 65% in August and 59% in March – the highest percentage since the start of the pandemic. In addition, the data indicates that the shift towards last-minute ticket buying is here to stay.

“Full recovery will take time,” says the study. “While most audiences are feeling confident and many are optimistic about increasing their attendance in future, new barriers are emerging related to economic factors and lifestyle changes.”

Patternmakers suggests that gradual increases in attendances are likely, with half of audiences (51%) saying they expect to attend more often in the next year.

“However, the situation is complex and some are perceiving a lack of appealing events available (32%) or are prioritising other things in their lives at the moment (24%),” it advises.

“Things are slowly improving, and audiences are much more likely to be increasing their attendances than decreasing them over the next year”

Concluding there is reason for “cautious optimism”, the report notes that “gradual improvements in confidence are evident”.

“There’s cause for cautious optimism, and half of audiences said they expect to attend more often in the next year – but another 43% said their behaviours will stay the same,” it says.

“Things are slowly improving, and audiences are much more likely to be increasing their attendances than decreasing them over the next year – though plenty will be maintaining their current levels.”

Covid-19 stripped Australia’s live entertainment industry of AUS$1.4 billion in revenue during 2020, according to Live Performance Australia’s Ticket Attendance and Revenue Report.

 


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Bluesfest expands to Melbourne

Australia’s Bluesfest is expanding to Melbourne for 2023.

With the original Byron Bay blues & roots festival running from 6-10 April, the brand is adding an indoor edition at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre from 8-9 April.

Bluesfest founder and director Peter Noble is teaming up with Melbourne music industry veteran Neil Crocker to stage the multi-stage spin-off. Acts will include Ash Grunwald, Buddy Guy, The Doobie Brothers, Greensky Bluegrass, Henry Wagons, Kaleo, Kasey Chamber, Keb’ Mo’, Lucinda Williams, Paolo Nutini, Robert Glasper and Steve Earle.

With the opening day of Byron Bay’s 2022 Splendour in the Grass festival being cancelled after being hit by adverse weather, organisers stress the Melbourne complex “will be transformed into a fully weatherproof festival precinct”.

“We’ll be bringing some of the absolute premium international and local artists who perform at Bluesfest”

“We’ll be bringing some of the absolute premium international and local artists who perform at Bluesfest alongside the fantastic Melbourne artists to create an experience for music lovers that is unprecedented in this city,” says Noble.

“Offering patrons the chance to see more than 30 performances over a two day period in an environment that is weatherproofed, accessible and safe, right in the heart of the Melbourne and Docklands area.”

Weekend passes start at A$508.69 (€327.66).

Byron Bay Bluesfest returned in April with headliners such as Midnight Oil, Paul Kelly, Crowded House and Jimmy Barnes. Its 2021 edition did not take place after initially being postponed due to a public health order a mere 24 hours before doors were due to open to the public. A rescheduled date was later cancelled as a result of the pandemic.

 


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The New Bosses 2022: Steel Hanf, Proxy Agency

The 15th edition of IQ Magazine’s New Bosses was published in IQ 114 this month, revealing 20 of the most promising 30-and-unders in the international live music business.

To get to know this year’s cohort a little better, IQ conducted interviews with each one of 2022’s New Bosses, discovering their greatest inspirations and pinpointing the reasons for their success.

Catch up on the previous New Bosess 2022 interview with Sönke Schal, head of people & culture at Karsten Jahnke Konzertdirektion (DE). The series continues with Steel Hanf, managing director of Proxy Agency, in the US.

Steel Hanf (30) is managing director of Proxy Agency, a Melbourne-based talent agency birthed in partnership with Untitled Group in January 2021. Eighteen months later, Proxy has booked over 1,000 gigs across Asia Pacific while nurturing a community of likeminded industry professionals and a roster of 80+ artists, of which Hanf is the agent for Hayden James, What So Not, SG Lewis, Lastlings, Cosmo’s Midnight, Partiboi69, Nina Las Vegas, jamesjamesjames, Memphis LK, X CLUB., among others.

A long way from his birthplace of New Jersey, Hanf was previously an agent with WME for five years across their Los Angeles and Sydney offices. Since 2020, he has participated in Diversity Arts Australia’s equity and inclusion programme called Fair Play, which is a crash course on diversity; safe and inclusive workplaces; and representation throughout the music industry.

 


Making the move to Australia is quite an unusual step for an American. How did that relocation under WME come about?
I was promoted to agent at WME when I was 24, and they asked me if I’d move to Sydney to help grow their Australian office. Moving to Australia wasn’t ever something I’d considered, but my growing interest in Australian music at the time was probably moving me in that direction without my realising it.

The company knew I had a good ear for finding new talent, and the idea of living and breathing the Australian culture that was producing these incredible global artists became an inspiring idea to me. Young Steel told himself the move would just be for two years and then he would move to London or go back to LA. But the more time I spent in Australia the more I realised how fluently I was able to manoeuvre the Australian industry and make strong relationships quickly. I was at every show, as many festivals as I could physically do, and the more I got amongst it and the more I felt people rallying around me, the more I felt like I was finally home.

You obviously spotted a gap in the marketplace when you launched Proxy Agency. Have you always had an entrepreneurial streak or has this been a leap of faith?
I’ve always had strong intuition in recognising opportunities. Australia’s agency landscape was missing something that I thought wasn’t existing yet: an agency with a global perspective on things that is concurrently nurturing the new wave of artists and industry professionals under a banner that means something culturally. So much of the up-and-coming world-class talent in Australia is found in very small pockets of culture. We recognise the value in signing talent at this level instead of waiting for them to be able to sell X amount of tickets, and we don’t try to change what they are doing, as the culture they represent is so meaningful and powerful.

It’s our job to augment what these artists are already doing and connect them with the right parts of the wider industry that share their values. The artists on our roster have a feeling of alignment with each other in one way or another; if it’s not by ‘genre,’ it’s by the energy they are putting out into the world. That’s why Proxy feels like a family; the artists on Proxy are each other’s biggest cheerleaders and there’s an energy behind it because the music matters and we’re representing the change we want to see in the world.

“We are one of the few agencies in Australia that has inclusion and diversity clauses in our contracts”

I’m guessing that Proxy is not quite as corporate as WME, but are there any significant ideas that you’ve taken from your previous employer into your own business?
I’m very grateful for my years with WME; it’s how I learned the global live business and how to be an agent at the highest level. I was able to see what works and what doesn’t work and apply that knowledge to my vision for Proxy. Operating in a corporate structure came very naturally to me, but it wasn’t until I left that setting was I able to properly spread my wings and navigate the industry in the ways that feel most intuitive to me. Proxy’s spirit is very independent, for the artists and for the people.

Being the partner of a recognised promoter might raise a few eyebrows. Is there an ethos that allows Proxy to happily deal with Untitled’s rivals?
The agent/promoter model is not a foreign concept in Australia like it is in most parts of the world. Because the industry is so small here, there is mutual respect for each other’s priorities because at the end of the day, everyone is in this for the talent, the creativity, and putting on the best shows possible. Our job as agents is to always be an objective third party and work with the promoters that put forward the best opportunities for our artists. Our ethos is that the connection is not a conflict of interest but a conflict for interest.

While Proxy is a part of the Untitled Group, the agency runs and operates completely independently. We are artist-first; external promoters have recognised that through their dealings with us and our actions, and Untitled respects when we pass on their offers in favour of competitors.

Proxy has had a rapid rise to prominence, but what has been your biggest highlight so far?
Signing Hayden James who is an A-level festival headliner in Australia, in a very competitive pursuit, was a massive moment for me and Proxy as a whole. Given how fresh Proxy is in the market, being able to sign headliner-level talent this early, [helped affirm] that our presence is resonating the way we want it to at all levels of the industry. The resources that signings like these provide starts a chain reaction of rapid growth via new hirings and more signings at both the established- and development-level. Recent moments include signing UK artist SG Lewis for Asia Pacific representation and signing Australia’s electronic maestro Willaris. K.

“Ensuring indigenous cultures are hired, signed, and supported in our industry is of utmost priority for us”

As a new boss, what is one thing you would change to make the live entertainment industry a better place?
Requiring a rule of kindness, respect, social impact, and understanding in our dealings with one another!

Fair Play sounds like a fantastic initiative. What does it mean in real terms, and how does its guidance affect your everyday activities?
Ensuring diversity, inclusivity, and safe space workplaces has been an ethos we carry into the office every day. Proxy’s staff is more than 70% female-identifying, and we are one of the few agencies in Australia that has inclusion and diversity clauses in our contracts. We know our artists are not interested in playing on events that do not have appropriate representation throughout the bill, and our roster is very diverse across many walks of life. We have so much heavily sought-after talent, which means we have the leverage to start these conversations across the industry and make a difference. Being in Australia means we are also operating on the stolen land of the traditional owners, so ensuring indigenous cultures are hired, signed, and supported in our industry is of utmost priority for us.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time? Is there scope for Proxy to expand internationally, for instance?
I will still be heading up Proxy, and I see us growing in every direction. It’s crazy that we’ve only just written the first chapter of Proxy’s story. I’ve always seen Proxy as more than a booking agency, so expanding the scope of our business across the media landscape and using these resources to create more impact and provide more for our clients is a top goal of ours. Expanding internationally is something we’ve already begun doing in Asia. Like I know with my artists’ touring strategies, if things get so loud domestically, then they will inevitably bleed out internationally. Australia is a global tastemaker market.

See the full list of 2022 New Bosses in IQ 114, which is available now. To subscribe, and get access to our latest issue and all of our content, click here.

 


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