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Nicki Minaj’s Co-op Live gig axed after drugs arrest

Nicki Minaj’s concert at Manchester’s Co-op Live was called off at the last minute, following her arrest at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport.

The American rapper was arrested on suspicion of exporting soft drugs before being fined €350 and allowed to continue her journey, Dutch authorities said.

The artist didn’t make it to Manchester in time for her concert on Saturday (25 May), which was postponed just after 21:30 BST, with 20,000 fans in the arena waiting for her to take the stage.

On social media, Minaj said she was in a jail cell for between five and six hours, and finally arrived at her hotel in Manchester around midnight.

In a statement, promoters Live Nation said: “Nicki Minaj’s scheduled performance at Manchester’s Co-op Live on Saturday 25 May has been postponed.

“Tickets will remain valid for the rescheduled performance which will be announced as soon as possible.

“Despite Nicki’s best efforts to explore every possible avenue to make tonight’s show happen, the events of today have made it impossible. We are deeply disappointed by the inconvenience this has caused.”

Co-op Live posted the same statement.

Minaj continued her tour in Birmingham last night (26 May) and is due to visit London and Glasgow, before a second scheduled date in Manchester on Thursday.

It is the latest problem to hit the 23,500-cap Co-op Live, which has also been forced to postpone or move gigs by the likes of Olivia Rodrigo, Take That and Peter Kay in recent weeks after suffering a string of delays and technical problems.

The Oak View Group (OVG)-operated arena finally opened on 14 May for an opening performance by Manchester’s Elbow.

Co-op Live’s interim general manager, Rebecca Kane Burton, recently told OVG-owned publication VenuesNow that the venue is “all up and running and fully furnished”.

“We’ve had a natural ramp-up in terms of the capacities we’ve been hosting. Peter Kay was our biggest event (May 23-24). We had between 14,000 and 15,000 people – all of the levels in full use. All suites and premium areas have been working at full-tilt. There’s still work happening within the building, but it tends to be offices and back-of-house areas.”

 


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Key recent legal developments in live music

The live business is a well-oiled machine, but sometimes unexpected events and legal matters can impact and profoundly shape the sector. Below are some of the major developments over the past year as featured in IQ‘s newest publication, the Touring Business Handbook, and what they could mean for the future of the business.

Shows starting late
What happened: Some acts made unpredictability their calling card and would start shows incredibly late and, because they ended incredibly late, they would break curfews and invariably get fined. Now consumers are starting to take things into their own hands. Two US fans filed a class action against Madonna for allegedly starting her three shows at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn in December 2023 late, claiming a breach of contract with the audience who “had to get up early to go to work” the following day. The original suit also named the venue as a defendant.

What it means: Madonna and Live Nation responded and denied this was the case, insisting that due to a “technical issue 13 December during soundcheck” this was the only show affected. “We intend to defend this case vigorously,” they said. The case could quietly disappear or, if it reaches court and the claimants are successful, it could have profound implications for all other late-running shows by setting a major legal precedent. The concern is that fans could become ever-more litigious around different parts of the live experience.

“There is a clear move by both the public and legislators to put better safeguards in place around resales”

Ticket resale, scalping & bots
What happened: A number of major developments in major markets in 2023 are still unfolding in 2024. Six US senators introduced the Fans First Act in late 2023 aimed at delivering greater transparency for consumers around re-sales and greater accountability for bad actors in the space. This came after Taylor Swift fans in the US attempted to sue Ticketmaster for alleged “price fixing” around pre-sale tickets for Swift’s Eras tour.

Swift tickets were also a legal focus in Australia where in June 2023 the government in Victoria designated her shows at Melbourne Cricket Ground as a “major event” and therefore heavily restricted under Victoria’s anti-scalping laws. This snowballed into calls for tougher and unified national laws in Australia to clamp down on re-sales at inflated pricing and scalping.

In late 2023, FEAT (Face-value European Alliance for Ticketing) was looking to the EU’s Digital Services Act (DSA) to clamp down on illegal ticket resales following the DSA introducing new measures from August that require large search engines to clamp down on illegal product listing. In Texas, following chaos as Taylor Swift tickets went on sale, state senators proposed new laws that would clamp down on ticket-purchasing bots and this was signed into law in May 2023.

What it means: There is a clear move by both the public and legislators in different markets to put better safeguards in place as well as tougher measures in action around re-sales. For now, no change in national legislation has been pushed through in the US or Australia, but this could only be a matter of time unless the ticketing sector moves to better and more robustly self-regulate here. The developments in the EU could have much wider repercussions with regard to takedown notifications for secondary ticketing sites.

“Artists need to be incredibly aware that mass lawsuits could prove controversial and damage their public image”

Touring crew treatment & allegations of harassment
What happened: In September 2023, clothing designer Asha Daniels accused Lizzo and members of her team of creating an “unsafe, sexually charged workplace culture” for members of her touring production. A spokesperson for Lizzo called the harassment suit filed by Daniels “a bogus, absurd publicity stunt” and in December, Lizzo’s legal representatives moved to have the lawsuit dismissed.

What it means: It is impossible to speculate at this stage if the case will make it to court and, if so, which way the judgement would fall. Regardless of the merits (or not) of the suit, it raises important issues about safeguarding and welfare for contracted workers on tour.

Counterfeit merchandise
What happened: The perennial issue of counterfeit merchandise was brought into sharp relief in 2023 when lawyers acting for Luke Combs targeted multiple individuals for selling unauthorised merchandise. Nicol Harness was among those targeted for having sold 18 tumblers (featuring Combs’s name and face) she had made herself. Combs found out about the $250,000 suit against Harness (who is disabled), and said it “makes me sick,” insisting her name was dropped from the suit against rogue operators and he also sent her $11,000 by way of apology.

What it means: The issue of fake merchandise has long been an issue for musicians, beginning with people selling counterfeit and unlicensed goods on the street outside shows and then the process becoming industrialised on online sites such as eBay, Etsy, Redbubble and more.

This has echoes of the first waves of legal action against filesharers in the early 2000s and the PR backlash when individuals were being targeted. Artists need to protect their merchandise business but will also be incredibly aware that mass lawsuits could prove controversial and damage their public image.

“The issue of free speech and if/how it crosses the line into hate speech is a complex and contested area”

Hate speech, censorship & show cancellations
What happened: Three very different cases but they collectively raise complex debates about artists holding/ expressing certain views and engaging in certain behaviour and how that runs into calls for censorship of cancellation.

In early 2023, Roger Waters said he would take legal action against city authorities in Germany who threatened to cancel several of his shows in Germany, accusing Waters of antisemitism (a charge he denies). Waters subsequently won his battle to stage his shows in Frankfurt in May 2023.

In summer 2023, authorities in the Mexican state of Chihuahua banned acts from performing songs live that contain what are deemed to be misogynistic lyrics. Those who do could face fines of 1.2m pesos (circa £54,661).

Finally, in summer 2023, Matt Healy of The 1975 caused a political storm at the Good Vibes festival in Kuala Lumpur when he kissed bass player Ross MacDonald on stage. After just seven songs, the band were ordered to end their performance and the rest of the three-day festival was pulled after an “immediate cancellation directive.” The band pulled their upcoming shows in Indonesia and Taiwan while Malaysian authorities banned them from performing in the country.

What it means: The political views as well as the lyrical output of musicians are under growing scrutiny. The issue of free speech and if/how it crosses the line into hate speech is a complex and contested area. The issue of actions on stage like that of Healy are clearly specific to the moral and political views of certain countries, but this is something all musicians need to be aware
of.

These are extreme examples but they raise difficult questions about how far artistic expression can go and if censorship is the best response or if it is the thin end of the wedge that could see even greater restrictions placed on what musicians can say.

More information about recent developments with tax, legal, insurance, currency, and immigration is available to subscribers in IQ’s Touring Business Handbook, found here.

 


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Show cancelled after grenades thrown outside venue

A New Year’s Eve concert in Mexico was cancelled after three grenades were thrown outside the venue.

The show by Los Angeles-born, Sinaloa-raised narcocorrido (drug ballad) singer Larry Hernández had been due to take place at the Casa Blanca nightclub in eastern Tijuana.

“Unfortunately because of the events that just happened at the place where I was going to perform, it is impossible to do so,” says Hernández in a social media video. “These are things that are out of one’s control, so I apologise and send you a hug.”

GazetteXtra reports that people threw what appeared to be fragmentation grenades, which did not detonate, from a vehicle on Sunday (31 December).

According to Tijuana’s secretary of security and citizen protection Fernando Sánchez, the Mexican army arrived on site to remove the devices.

Baja California governor Marina del Pilar Ávila says the case is being investigated, but no evidence had been found of a direct threat either to Hernández or the concert venue. No arrests have yet been made.

Mexican singer-songwriter Peso Pluma also cancelled a concert in Tijuana last year following death threats

Hernández’s breakthrough album, 2009’s 16 Narco Corridos featured “vivid depictions” of drug trafficking culture and reached No.4 on the Billboard Top Latin Albums chart.

Mexican singer-songwriter Peso Pluma, who is similarly known for making narcoculture references in his music, also cancelled a concert in Tijuana last year following death threats from local drug cartel members. The October 2023 performance was set for the 33,333-capacity Estadio Caliente stadium.

The cancellation came after several public banners from alleged cartel members targeted the 24-year-old Guadalajara native. The band Fuerza Regida cancelled a show at the same stadium “for reasons beyond our reach” due to death threats.

“I would say there’s a situation between the criminal groups and the narcocorrido singers,” Tijuana mayor Montserrat Caballero told 12News.

Last November, the Guardian reported that local politicians in the city voted to ban narcocorridos from being performed or even played in the city, claiming they glorify violence and the drug trade. However, attempts to censor the genre have appeared to only enhance its popularity.

 


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Rolling Loud cancels Australian return

Plans for Rolling Loud to return to Australia next year for the first time since 2019 have been cancelled.

The hip-hop festival franchise had been due to land at Sydney’s Giants Stadium and Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne on 26 & 27 January 2024, respectively, but promoters say the event will no longer take place, citing “circumstances beyond our control”.

“We appreciate the love from all of our fans who are looking forward to Rolling Loud’s return to Australia,” says a statement. “We were hyped to bring the full Rolling Loud experience to our Aussie fans. Sadly, due to circumstances beyond our control, we’re unable to give you a show that lives up to the Rolling Loud standard, so we are left with no choice but to postpone the festival to a later date.

“To those of you who have already bought tickets, we appreciate you. All ticket holders will receive an automatic, full refund.”

Organisers insist a number of yet-to-be-announced side shows set to be held around the festival will still go ahead as planned.

“Rolling Loud will still be hosting a variety of smaller arena shows in early 2024”

“Australian fans, we still got you: Rolling Loud will still be hosting a variety of smaller arena shows in early 2024,” adds the statement.

The Miami-hailing festival has also run events in Los Angeles, New York, Sydney, Toronto, Rotterdam, Munich and the Algarve, and will launch in Thailand next year.

News of its Australian cancellation comes in the same week that The Weeknd postponed his upcoming Australia & New Zealand stadium tour, citing “unforeseen circumstances”.

The Canadian singer was set to perform 11 dates in the region from 20 November to 9 December this year, spread across Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium, Sydney’s Accor Stadium, Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium and Eden Park in Auckland.

 


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Christine and the Queens cancels 2023 dates

Christine and the Queens, also known as Redcar, has cancelled all remaining tour dates for 2023 due to illness.

“Red was taken ill today [16 October] and on advice of doctors forced to make the difficult decision to cancel all remaining tour dates for 2023,” reads a post on Christine and the Queens’ official Instagram account. “It’s not yet known what illness forced the cancellation.”

The French singer was scheduled to perform seven more shows in North America before wrapping the leg on 26 October.

“It’s not yet known what illness forced the cancellation”

Following that, Christine and the Queens was slated to perform a string of shows throughout Europe, including in Belgium and the Netherlands, with a final date scheduled for Paris’ L’Olympia on 27 November.

According to the singer’s statement, full refunds for all dates of the cancelled tour are available at the point of purchase.

The tour was in support of the French singer-songwriter’s most recent album ‘PARANOÏA, ANGELS, TRUE LOVE’, which arrived in June of this year and featured the likes of Madonna, 070 Shake and Mike Dean.

 


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Ed Sheeran show axed last minute due to venue issues

Ed Sheeran’s Saturday concert at the Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas was called off at the last minute due to “flooring issues”.

The 65,000-capacity venue initially warned fans shortly before the concert was due to start that it would be “significantly delayed” but it ended up being cancelled altogether.

The British singer revealed on social media on Sunday that he and his team battled for 24 hours to save the Mathematics Tour show after a “flooring problem” was identified.

The post explained that when the crew were bringing in their equipment ahead of the soundcheck, “rubber tiling had become unstuck – causing two tall towers to slip overnight by about a foot each”.

“We really tried to do the best we could to make the show happen but I’m not gonna risk the safety of my fans for anything”

“It was a safety issue, and we really tried to do the best we could to make the show happen but I’m not gonna risk the safety of my fans for anything,” wrote Sheeran. “I really am gutted, this was very much out of my control but I do take full responsibility for everyone that was put out from the cancellation.”

With temperatures over 90 degrees, some fans required medical attention for heat-related issues, the Clark County Fire Department told 8 News Now, with one person transported to a local hospital.

Allegiant Stadium said in a statement that “stadium doors were opened at 5:05 PM to get fans out of the heat and we ensured that anyone requiring assistance received it”.

Sheeran apologised for the lateness of the cancellation: “Nothing will take away from the effort people went to get to Vegas though and I’m sorry it wasn’t communicated sooner to the people waiting outside. We really thought the show was going to happen up until the very last moment but it just couldn’t for safety reasons.”

The show has been rescheduled for 28 October, pushing back the conclusion of the Mathematics Tour. The third and final leg of the 88-date tour had been due to finish at SoFi Stadium on 23 September.

 


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Noel Gallagher gig cancelled after bomb threat

A Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds concert in New York was cancelled due to a bomb threat shortly before the band were due to take the stage.

Gallagher is in the home stretch of a North America co-headline tour with Garbage, which stopped at the 5,200-cap Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Saratoga Springs, NY on Saturday (8 July).

However, the amphitheatre was evacuated “out of an abundance of caution” following performances by Garbage and support act Metric.

“The New York State Park Police, New York State Police, Saratoga Springs Police Department, Troy Police Department, and Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office responded to a bomb threat at Saratoga Performing Arts Center,” says a statement from the emergency services. “Out of an abundance of caution, the concert at Saratoga Performing Arts Center was suspended ‪at 9.40 pm and concert attendees were evacuated without incident. K9s completed a sweep of the venue after the crowd exited, with negative results.

Gallagher and Garbage are set to resume their co-headline tour tonight at New York City’s Capital One City Parks Foundation SummerStage

“This incident is under investigation.‬ This case will be investigated as, Making a Terroristic Threat, a Class D Felony.”

A performance by Kidz Pop at the outdoor venue yesterday was subsequently delayed as a result of inclement weather, with promoter Live Nation Saratoga advising fans to “seek shelter in the venue”.

Gallagher and Garbage are set to resume their tour tonight (10 July) at New York City’s Capital One City Parks Foundation SummerStage in Central Park. The run will then make further stops at Columbia’s Merriweather Post Pavilion (13 July), Philadelphia’s TD Pavilion at the Mann (14 July) and MGM Music Hall at Fenway in Boston (15 July).

The groups were previously forced to cancel a 28 June show at Breese Stevens Field in Wisconsin because of poor air quality. Promoter FPC Live said the decision was “based on the Public Health Madison & Dane County’s Air Quality Advisory”.

 


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Gorillaz cancel 2023 North America stadium tour

Gorillaz have scrapped their short run of stadium shows in North America, mere weeks after it was announced.

Damon Albarn’s virtual band was due to play four stadium shows in Los Angeles, Austin, Chicago, and Boston this September in support of their new album ‘Cracker Island’.

Kaytranada, Lil Yachty, and Remi Wolf were due to support the band on the outing, dubbed ‘The Gateway Tour’.

“Due to scheduling conflicts and circumstances beyond our control, the previously announced Gorillaz shows in September have been cancelled,” read a statement from ticket providers.

“We are gutted not to be able to perform for you this year”

“Refunds will be issued automatically at your point of purchase and will be processed as quickly as possible, there is nothing further for you to do at this time. Please allow for up to 30 days for the refund to process.”

Gorillaz themselves added: “We are gutted not to be able to perform for you this year. We were really looking forward to it and we hope to get back to you again as soon as we can. We love our Gorillaz family and we can’t wait to see you again.”

In April, Gorillaz performed both Coachella weekends, joined by a bevy of guests, including Bad Bunny, Beck, Yasiin Bey, Thundercat, Little Simz, Del the Funky Homosapien, and the surviving members of De La Soul.

Albarn is on tour with Blur this summer. The outing began last month with some intimate UK warm-up gigs ahead of the Britpop band’s two huge concerts at Wembley Stadium next month.

 


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Rolling Loud cancels New York festival for 2023

US hip-hop franchise Rolling Loud has cancelled its New York event for 2023, citing “logistical factors beyond our control”.

The Miami-hailing festival first hosted a New York City edition in 2019. After cancelling the 2020 edition due to Covid, further Rolling Loud New York events were held in 2021 and 2022.

In the past week, at least two other 2023 festivals have been cancelled including Sweden’s Summerburst and Bulgaria’s Hills of Rock.

In a statement, Rolling Loud organisers paid homage to previous editions and reassured fans the festival would return sometime in the future.

“We saw the beginning of the King Vamp era, Travis power through his full set through the pain, Parti and Uzi reuniting on stage, Nicki, 50 Cent, and A$AP Rocky putting on iconic headlining performances in their hometown, [and] Juice WRLD’s final festival performance,” reads the statement.

“We’ll be back in New York when the time is right”

“Sadly, due to logistical factors beyond our control, Rolling Loud will not return to New York in 2023. But don’t worry, this isn’t goodbye, more like see you later. We’ll be back in New York when the time is right. In the meantime, we invite all of our New York fans to meet us in Miami 21-23 July for our biggest, best festival of the year.”

Last year’s New York edition took place at Citi Field in Queens between 23-25 September with headliners Nicki Minaj, A$AP Rocky and Future.

In 2023, Rolling Loud will return to Miami, Los Angeles and Portugal, and make its debut in Germany, the Netherlands and Thailand.

 


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Croatia’s INmusic pulls 2023 edition due to inflation

INmusic, Croatia’s biggest open-air music festival, has pulled the plug on its 2023 edition due to a myriad of financial challenges.

“The ongoing repercussions of the pandemic, the war in Ukraine, inflation, and general sense of insecurity many of us feel in our everyday lives, have resulted in conditions which do not allow for a fully independent festival such as INmusic to take place,” reads a statement from the organisers.

“In the current circumstances, it is not possible to deliver the best possible international live music programme for a ticket price set in accordance to the local audience’s financial limitations,” it continues.

“[These] conditions do not allow for a fully independent festival such as INmusic to take place”

“Unwilling to give up either one of those principles which make INmusic festival what it is, and honouring your support since 2006 and attendance which enabled the festival to grow and develop with each edition, we have concluded it is best to focus our activities on securing the necessary preconditions for a stable continuity of INmusic festival in the future.”

The annual festival typically takes place across three days in June in the Croatian capital of Zagreb with an international-heavy lineup.

Last year marked INmusic’s 15th edition which was extended from three days to four and featured artists including The Killers, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Deftones, Royal Blood, IDLES and Kasabian. Details had not been announced for the 2023 instalment.

The organisers say they are hoping to hold the 16th edition in 2024 and share dates with fans in the following months.

 


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