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ILMC speaker spotlight: John Langford, EAA/AEG

The International Live Music Conference (ILMC) is now just over a week away and, as more and more chairs and panellists are announced, IQ catches up with some key speakers to hear what they hope to get out of this year’s conference.

Following on from the previous Speaker Spotlight, IQ talks to John Langford, president of the European Arenas Association (EAA) and AEG Europe COO.

Langford is chairing the Venue’s Venue: New builds, new brands panel to discuss what further competition and consolidation we can expect to see in the fast-evolving venue market.

He will be joined by panellists Jolanda Jansen (Rotterdam Ahoy), Brian Kabatznick (Oak View Group), Tom Lynch (ASM Global), Thomas Ovesen (Diriyah Gate Development Authority) and Harry Samuel (LiveStyled).


IQ: What do you expect to be the main talking points at your panel?

JL: I expect there will be lots of talk of new buildings and new markets. New arenas are not cheap, and returns can be limited in competitive markets or marginal locations, so what’s driving expansion and development plans? And what’s the reality of a ‘new arena model’?

Outside of Europe there are some exciting developments and new opportunities. We will look at what’s hot in Asia, the Middle East and Africa and ask whether building venues in those markets will create more demand for touring.

New arenas are not cheap, and returns can be limited, so what’s driving expansion and development plans?

With competition and consolidation in the venue market at an all-time high, has that had an affect on your day-to-day jobs?

Yes, absolutely. I am sure that each of the panel members can talk more to their experiences over the last eighteen months. From mergers to new players in the market, there’s a lot to talk about.

Would it be fair to say the large venue sector is among the most interesting parts of the music business right now?

Personally I believe that the entire live industry is in huge transformation. Specifically on the venue side, what we’re seeing in the large venue sector is mild compared to the storms facing grassroots venues. Business rates, gentrification, Brexit, skills shortages – it’s a minefield out there!

Is there anything else you’re particularly looking forward to at ILMC?

A cold Fightback lager at the end of a long day. All proceeds go to the Music Venues Trust! Beer with a conscience.

The Venue’s Venue panel is taking place at 10 a.m. on Thursday 5 March at ILMC.


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OVG International launches in London

Oak View Group (OVG), the US-based venue development, advisory and investment company co-founded by former AEG CEO Tim Leiweke and ex-Live Nation chairman Irving Azoff, today launched its new international business at the International Live Music Conference in London.

OVG International, based in London and led by notables from the European venues world, is tasked with building arena and stadium development and partnership opportunities in the UK, Europe and the Middle East and Asia. According to OVG CEO Leiweke, OVG International is already in “advanced discussions” on a number of projects in those territories.

Jessica Koravos, president of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group, and formerly MD of AEG Live and COO of AEG Europe, will serve as co-chair of OVG International alongside Leiweke.

Other appointments include:

“Oak View Group is growing rapidly, and we’re delighted to welcome seven exceptional executives to our team as we launch OVG International,” says Leiweke.

“We look forward to extending the Arena and Stadium Alliance to like-minded venues outside North America”

“Our aim is to create a new generation of state-of-the-art entertainment facilities. Our venues will be an elite class in terms of fan experience, artist experience and technology, and will provide an unparalleled platform for the activation of global brands.”

Oak View Group was founded in 2015. In addition to its major arena development projects at the Key Arena in Seattle, Belmont in New York and the University of Texas in Austin, OVG runs the Arena and Stadium Alliance, an invitation-only partnership of 28 arenas in North America that seeks to help independent venues attract global sponsorship opportunities, additional events and content.

It also has a venue-management outfit, OVG Facilities, launched last October following the acquisition of Pinnacle Venue Services, and a security arm, Prevent Advisors, and owns industry trade titles Venues Today and Pollstar, the latter which it bought last summer.

“The live events market has grown significantly in the United States since Oak View Group launched three years ago, and we see a huge opportunity to drive similar growth internationally by creating world-class experiences in world-class arenas,” continues Leiweke.

“We look forward to extending the Arena and Stadium Alliance to like-minded venues outside North America and to announcing more about OVG International’s plans soon.”


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EAA appoints new president Peter van der Veer

Peter van der Veer, CEO and co-owner of Dutch arena Rotterdam Ahoy (15,000-cap.), has been named president of the 35-strong European Arenas Association (EAA).

Van der Veer was elected at the association’s most recent AGM, held in Lisbon earlier this month, and succeeds outgoing president Brian Kabatznick of AEG Europe, whose three-year term has come to an end.

Van der Veer has been a member of the EAA since 2006 and an active board member since 2012.

He comments: “Our world changes at rapid speed. It requires a new view from us as venues. I am convinced that a platform such as EAA is essential in sharing ideas, in pulling the strings, in being pro-active on all important and relevant issues in the field of live events.

“I am honoured to have been chosen as president of this valuable platform”

“I am honoured to have been chosen as president of this valuable platform.”

Other EAA board members are Girts Krastins of Arena Riga (14,500-cap.), John Langford of the O2 (21,000-cap.), Jorge Silva of Altice (formerly MEO) Arena (20,000-cap.) in Lisbon and Lotta Nibbell of Scandinavium (14,000-cap.) in Gothenburg.

In 2017, European Arenas Association venues hosted more than 18.7m customers attending 2,899 events, according to the organisation’s most recent research report. According to IQ’s European Arena Yearbook 2017, produced in partnership with the EAA and UK National Arena Association (NAA), the European arenas business generated more than €1.4bn in 2016.


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