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The decade in live: 2017

The start of a new year and, perhaps more significantly, a new decade is fast approaching – and while many may be thinking ahead to New Year’s Eve plans and well-meaning 2020 resolutions, IQ is casting its mind back to the most pivotal industry moments of the last ten years.

The memories of a turbulent 2016 were left far behind in 2017, as the concert business enjoyed a record-breaking twelve months, as the year’s gross revenue and number of tickets sold saw 2013 finally knocked off the top spot.

The success of the live business in 2017, however, was somewhat overshadowed by a number of devastating terror attacks, with the Manchester Arena bombing, the shootings at Route 91 Harvest and BPM Festival, the Reina nightclub shooting and other incidents targeting music fans.

In response to the tragedies, the live industry united and made a positive impact, in the form of the One Love Manchester and We are Manchester charity concerts and candlelit vigils and fundraising for victims of the Route 91 Harvest attack.

Elsewhere, the booking agency world continued to consolidate through 2017, with a number of acquisitions, mergers and partnerships while Live Nation welcomed several more promoters, festivals, ticketing agencies and venues to its fast-growing family.


2017 in numbers

The live music business reached new heights in 2017, with the top 100 tours worldwide generating a record US$5.65 billion, up almost 16% from the previous year.

The number of tickets sold throughout the year also saw a notable increase from the year before, climbing 10.4% to 66.8 million, at an average price of almost $4 more per ticket than in 2016, at $84.60.

Eleven tours surpassed the $100m mark in 2017, with U2 topping the year-end charts having generated $316m on their Joshua Tree tour. Guns N’ Roses narrowly missed out on $300m, grossing $292.5m on the Not in this Lifetime tour.

Coldplay came in next, as the band’s A Head Full of Dreams tour made $238m. Bruno Mars’ 24K Magic tour was also successful, grossing just over $200m, whereas Metallica’s WorldWired tour generated $152.8m.

Depeche Mode, Paul McCartney, Ed Sheeran, the Rolling Stones, Garth Brooks and Celine Dion were the other acts whose 2017 tour earnings exceeded $100m.


2017 in brief

A lone gunman attacks New Year’s revellers at the Reina nightclub in Istanbul, resulting in the death of 39 people and injuries to a further 70. Two weeks later, four are killed and 12 injured during a shooting at the BPM Festival in the coastal resort of Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

AM Only and The Windish Agency rebrand as Paradigm Talent Agency, signalling the next phase of their joint ventures, launched in 2012 and 2015, respectively.

Global asset management firm Providence Equity Partners acquires a 70% stake in Sziget Festival and reveals plans to launch eight to ten branded festivals, with James Barton, former president of electronic music for Live Nation, leading the international expansion.

AEG Live finalises negotiations to acquire New York-based promoter/venue operator The Bowery Presents.

Ticketbis, the multinational resale operation acquired by eBay in May 2016, is rebranded as StubHub, bringing to an end the Ticketbis name across Europe, Asia and Latin America.

Live Nation enters the Middle East’s biggest touring market with the acquisition of a majority stake in Bluestone Entertainment, one of Israel’s leading promoters.

Iron Maiden’s decision to use paperless tickets on the UK leg of The Book of Souls arena tour helps reduce the number of tickets appearing on secondary sites by more than 95%, according to promoter Live Nation.

Live Nation acquires a controlling stake in the UK’s Isle of Wight Festival.

The Australian leg of Adele’s Live 2017 tour makes concert history after playing to more than 600,000 people over eight stadium dates.

The decade in live: 2017

Sziget Festival 2017 © László Mudra/Rockstar Photographers

In the biggest primary deal so far for the world’s largest secondary ticketing site, StubHub is named the official ticket seller for Rock in Rio 2017.

Creative Artists Agency increases its investment in the Chinese market via a new alliance with private equity firm CMC Capital Partners.

Luxury Ja Rule-backed boutique event, Fyre Festival, descends into chaos on its first day, with visitors to the Bahamas site comparing conditions to a refugee camp.

22 people, including children, lose their lives after a suicide bombing at Manchester Arena, for which Islamic State terror claims responsibility. The attack targets people leaving the 21,000-cap. venue at the end of an Ariana Grande concert.

Pandora Media announces the sale of Ticketfly to Eventbrite. Despite purchasing the company for $450m less than two years ago, it sells for a package worth $200m.

AEG invests in Immortals, one of the world’s leading esports teams, with professional players in the North American League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Super Smash Bros, Overwatch and Vainglory leagues. The team will now play their Los Angeles tournaments and matches at AEG’s LA Live entertainment district.

The organisers of ILMC announce the launch of the Event Safety and Security Summit (E3S), a one-day meeting focusing on security at live events.

The decade in live: 2017

The reality of Fyre Festival © Here_Comes_the_Kingz/Reddit

Helsinki-based Fullsteam Agency acquires Rähinä Live, whose roster includes some of Finland’s biggest hip-hop and pop artists.

Oak View Group, which counts Irving Azoff and Tim Leiweke among its founders, completes its acquisition of Pollstar, adding the US-based concert business magazine to its portfolio of trade titles.

Madison Square Garden Company makes a significant move into the esports sector by acquiring a controlling stake in Counter Logic Gaming.

Paradigm Talent Agency acquires Chicago- and California-based agency Monterey International, including its 14 agents and 200 acts.

Live Nation launches in Brazil with former Time for Fun (T4F) chief entertainment officer Alexandre Faria Fernandes at the helm.

Three quarters of staff at Function(x), the online business founded by former SFX Entertainment CEO Robert Sillerman, are effectively laid off, with the company telling investors it lacks the funds to pay them.

A sovereign wealth fund controlled by the government of Saudi Arabia, says it is forming a new SR10 billion ($2.7bn) investment vehicle in a bid to kick-start the kingdom’s entertainment sector.

Music returns to Manchester Arena as a capacity crowd turn out for We are Manchester, a benefit concert that raises funds for a memorial to the victims of the 22nd of May bombing.

The decade in live: 2017

The We are Manchester charity concert drew a full-capacity crowd at the 21,000-cap. arena © Showsec

A gunman kills 58 people and injures a further 546 at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival in Las Vegas. Local resident Stephen Paddock targeted the concertgoers from the 32nd floor of the nearby Mandalay Bay hotel.

WME-IMG rebrands as Endeavor, with company assets that include martial- arts promoter, UFC; ad agency, Droga5; Professional Bull Riders; the Miss Universe Organization; Frieze Art Fair; management companies, Dixon Talent and The Wall Group; and joint ventures such as Euroleague Basketball and esports championship ELEAGUE.

Ticketmaster confirms its long-rumoured expansion into Italy. The launch of Ticketmaster Italia, headquartered in Milan, follows the end of the exclusive long-term online partnership in Italy between Ticketmaster’s parent company, Live Nation, and CTS Eventim-owned TicketOne.

After 11 years in East London’s Victoria Park – now exclusive to AEG – Eat Your Own Ears’ Field Day Festival will head to Brockwell Park in South London. Live Nation’s Lovebox and Citadel are also rumoured to be moving to Brockwell Park.

Secondary ticketing websites will, from January 2018, be subject to stringent restrictions on their use of Google AdWords, as the search-engine giant cracks down on ticket resellers’ controversial use of its online advertising platform.

Leading self-service ticketer Eventbrite announces a series of new partnerships, rolling out integrations with events guide The List, festival package provider Festicket, word-of-mouth ticket sales platform Verve, and brand ambassador software Ticketrunner.

Michael Rapino, CEO of Live Nation Entertainment since 2010, will remain in his role until at least 2022 after signing a new five-year contract worth up to $9m per annum. Also re-upping are leading execs Kathy Willard, Michael Rowles and Joe Berchtold.

The decade in live: 2017

Primary Talent’s Dave Chumbley (1960-2017) picks up his Platinum Endurance Arthur Award at ILMC 25 © ILMC


Who we lost

Peter Rieger, founder of German promoter Peter Rieger Konzertagentur (PRK); Joseph Rascoff, business manager to the Stones, David Bowie, U2, Sting and more; ILMC’s long-time producer Alia Dann Swift; ShowSec International Ltd founder Mick Upton; Dave Chumbley, Primary Talent International director; Mary Cleary, former booker and tour manager; American singer-songwriter Tom Petty; pioneering concert promoter Shmuel Zemach, founder of Zemach Promotions; Australian country music promoter, agent and artist, Rob Potts; Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington; Reading festival founder Harold Pendelton; Washington, DC, promoter Jack Boyle; Live Nation Belgium booker Marianne Dekimpe; rock and roll pioneer Chuck Berry.


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Bowery Presents alum Makes joins Live Nation NY

Anthony Makes, formerly lead promoter at AEG-owned Bowery Presents, has joined Live Nation’s US Concerts division, as the company expands its team in New York.

Makes, who had been with Bowery for more than a decade, has been named president of New York, while longtime Live Nation booker Jason Miller becomes executive vice-president, New York. The team report to Alan Ostfield, Live Nation’s president of US Concerts for the north Atlantic region.

“Anthony brings significant industry experience from his 25-year career in music,” Ostfield comments. “With their combined knowledge of New York and strong relationships within the industry, Anthony and Jason will be unstoppable as we continue working to expand our annual concert events and venue platform.”

AEG finalised its acquisition of a stake in New York promoter/venue operator the Bowery Presents in January, less than a month after Live Nation formed a joint venture of its own, Mercury East Presents, with Bowery co-founder Michael Swier, adding famed venues the Bowery Ballroom (575-cap.) and Mercury Lounge (250-cap.) to its stable of New York properties.

The New York live music market – the world’s busiest – is hotly contested between the two companies: both Live Nation and AEG promote major festivals – Governors Ball and Panorama, respectively – on Randalls Island, while Madison Square Garden is central to the ongoing ‘booking war’ between AEG and Live Nation-aligned Azoff MSG Entertainment.

Live Nation produced or promoted from than 2,700 events in the New York region in 2017, with a combined audience of nearly six million.


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Live Nation forms New York JV with Bowery co-owner

Following the end of his venues’ relationship with AEG in August, Bowery Ballroom/Mercury Lounge co-owner Michael Swier has joined forces with Live Nation for a new promotion and booking venture.

New York-based Mercury East Presents, described as a “nexus of current and future independently owned and operated venues within” the city’s five boroughs, unites the Bowery Ballroom and Mercury Lounge (pictured), along with Live Nation’s Irving Plaza (1,025-cap.), Gramercy Theatre (499-cap.), Warsaw (1,000-cap.) and Ford Amphitheater at Coney Island Boardwalk (5,000-cap.), under one umbrella.

The newly formed company will also collaborate with festival promoter Founders Entertainment (Governors Ball, Meadows Music and Arts Festival), acquired by Live Nation in April 2016, and assist in bringing acts to Live Nation-aligned Madison Square Garden Company’s major New York venues, including Madison Square Garden, Barclay’s Center, the Beacon Theater and Radio City.

Mercury East will be based at Live Nation’s new east-coast headquarters, on 15th street in New York’s Meatpacking district.

“Mercury East is the ideal partnership, and will allow Live Nation to bring New York’s residents and visitors more music and events than ever before”

AEG Presents (then AEG Live) acquired a stake in Swier’s former company, the Bowery Presents, in January 2017, although the deal excluded Bowery Ballroom (575-cap.) and Mercury Lounge (250-cap.). AEG/Bowery Presents severed its ties with the venues six months later, with Live Nation rumoured to be among those interested in taking over the lease.

The partnership with Swier gives Live Nation a bigger presence in the New York market, which is hotly contested between the two companies: both Live Nation and AEG promote major festivals – Governors Ball and Panorama, respectively – on Randalls Island, while Madison Square Garden is central to the ongoing ‘booking war’ between AEG and Irving Azoff’s Azoff MSG Entertainment.

“Swier and his team are the total package, delivering industry expertise, relationships and landmark venues that complement the greater Live Nation portfolio,” says Michael Rapino, Live Nation president and CEO. “Mercury East is the ideal partnership, and will allow Live Nation to bring New York’s residents and visitors more music and events than ever before.”

“The foundation of Mercury East reaffirms our commitment to quality and streamlines production by officially uniting the venues we own and operate with our key partners,” says Swier. “The team behind Mercury East remains focused on cultivating bands throughout all stages of their success, as well ensuring audiences have a premium experience, from ticket purchase to show’s end.”


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Live Nation set to take on two AEG-booked clubs?

Live Nation (LN) could be set to take over two renowned New York clubs after promoter Bowery Presents parted company with the venues it’s named after – The Bowery Ballroom and Mercury Lounge.

The decision by the AEG-owned promoter to quit the venues leaves the door open for LN to expand in the city. A source told Brooklyn Vegan that’s exactly what LN plans to do, although there’s been no official comment.

That would ramp up the battle between LN and AEG, which acquired Bowery Presents in January and quickly set about expanding its portfolio, buying the operating rights to Manhattan’s Webster Hall a few months later.

Bowery Ballroom and The Mercury are owned by Bowery Presents co-founder Michael Swier, who sold his stake in the promoter in 2010.

“After careful thought and consideration, The Bowery Presents is parting ways with The Bowery Ballroom and Mercury Lounge,” Bowery Presents’ John Moore said in a statement.

“We are constantly exploring new opportunities for music-lovers in New York City”

“We have a long history with the venues as the exclusive booking and marketing arm and wish them well in the future. On the heels of our recently-opened Brooklyn Steel, the largest GA room in Brooklyn, and taking over booking duties for Webster Hall, we are constantly exploring new opportunities for music-lovers in New York City.”

LN is expanding in New York City, adding to Manhattan’s Irving Plaza by buying the rights to Brooklyn rock club Warsaw in June 2016 and The Amphitheater At Coney Island Boardwalk a few months before that.

Bowery Presents owns Terminal 5, Rough Trade, the Music Hall of Williamsburg and Brooklyn Steel, while parent company AEG owns Playstation Theater and Forest Hills Stadium.


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AEG’s Bowery Presents takes on Webster Hall lease

The Bowery Presents, the New York-based promoter and venue operator acquired by AEG Live in January, has bought the operating rights to famed Manhattan venue Webster Hall.

In partnership with Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment (BSE) – which operates Barclays Center (18,103-cap.) and NYCB Live/Nassau Coliseum (17,686-cap.) in New York – AEG Presents (né Live) will assume the long-term lease on the 131-year-old, 1,500-capacity East Village venue, which has hosted performances by U2, Eric Clapton, Sonic Youth, Guns N’ Roses and LCD Soundsystem.

It was formerly run by the Ballinger family, who took over the lease in 1989.

“We are excited to build on the iconic history of Webster Hall”

“Partnering with The Bowery Presents and Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment to programme and operate this iconic live facility will continue to enhance Webster Hall’s worldwide reputation as one of the industry’s most important venues,” comments Jay Marciano, chairman and CEO of AEG Presents.

BSE CEO Brett Yormark adds: “We are excited to build on the iconic history of Webster Hall. Webster Hall provides us with an extraordinary opportunity to connect with artists early in their careers and expands BSE’s venue footprint into Manhattan.

“We appreciate all that the Ballinger family has done to make Webster Hall an industry leading venue, and we are looking forward to working with them, The Bowery Presents and AEG Presents to make it an even greater destination for live music.”


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AEG Live completes The Bowery Presents deal

AEG Live has finalised its agreement to acquire an undisclosed stake in New York-based promoter/venue operator The Bowery Presents.

The deal – believed to have been close to completion as far back as last April – gives AEG a significant presence in the American north-east, and marks the end of a second independent New York promoter following Live Nation’s April 2016 acquisition of Founders Entertainment.

Bowery partners Jim Glancy and John Moore will, alongside AEG Live’s senior vice-president of the north-east region, Mark Shulman, oversee The Bowery Presents’ operations, including its newest venue, the 1,800-cap. Brooklyn Steel in East Williamsburg. The company books, produces and promotes more than 2,500 events annually.

According to The New York Times, the famed Bowery Ballroom and Mercury Lounge venues are not a part of the deal, as they are still owned by Michael Swier, who sold his stake in The Bowery Presents in 2010.

“We are confident that AEG Live will allow us to run The Bowery Presents autonomously and stay true to our entrepreneurial spirit”

“The Bowery Presents and AEG Live share a passion and commitment to delivering the best music experiences to fans,” comments AEG Live chairman and CEO Jay Marciano. “Jim and John have built an incredibly respected organisation with a proven track record of success and we are pleased that they chose to partner with us. We look forward to working closely with them to further grow The Bowery Presents brand.”

Glancy adds: “We are excited to join forces with the like-minded innovators that make up the AEG Live family. When we started looking at how AEG Live has partnered with other independent promoters, it gave us the confidence that AEG Live will allow us to not only run The Bowery Presents autonomously and stay true to our entrepreneurial spirit, but increase our reach within our existing markets and expand our horizons for future growth.

“Bands and audiences can continue to expect the same music-first experience we’re known for providing.”


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