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Ex-Paradigm staffer launches Field Booking agency

Brendan Biesen, ex-assistant to Erik Selz and Tom Windish at Paradigm Talent Agency, has launched Field Booking, the latest independent booking agency to come out of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Chicago-based agency will focus primarily on booking and tour management for musical acts, but will also provide promotional and image cultivation services for artists looking to expand their audiences.

Field Booking’s current roster includes Peter Oren, Half Gringa, The Slaps, Fast Preacher and Logan Farmer.

“The idea for Field Booking came from paying attention to the shifts and trends in the industry, and how it’s been adapting and reacting to the pandemic,” says Biesen.

“Field Booking came from paying attention to the shifts and trends in the industry, and how it’s been reacting to the pandemic”

“I felt that, with my time in the industry and the relationships I’ve managed to build in that time, I could forge a new path with Field and help give artists a chance at the success they deserve.

“I want to foster an inclusive environment at Field Booking that puts emphasis on the artists and their growth. I think it’s important to recognize that while I may be the agent, we are all in this together as a team to make this industry better as a whole.”

Biesen spent five years at Paradigm and its former incarnation The Windish Agency where he managed day-to-day booking duties for the rosters of Windish and Selz and helped expand the reach of the A&R department.

Field Booking follows the launch of Arrival ArtistsMint Talent Group and TBA Agency in the US, as well as Marshall Live Agency, Mother ArtistsOne Fiinix LiveRoute One Booking and Runway Artists in the UK and Rebel Beat Agency in Spain, in 2020, amid a wider fragmentation of the global agency sector in response to the coronavirus shutdown.

Want to hear more about the influx of new independent agencies from some of the new kids on the block? Register for ILMC and tune in to Agency Business: Enter the New Players.

 


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Ron Kaplan, Garry and Alex Buck join ICM Partners

ICM Partners has appointed seasoned US-based agents Ron Kaplan, Garry Buck and Alex Buck to its concerts division.

The trio join ICM Partners from Paradigm, which acquired Monterey International, the agency Kaplan and Garry Buck co-founded in 1994, three years ago. Kaplan and the Bucks bring a roster that includes Van Morrison, Roger Daltrey, Joss Stone, Whitesnake, Corinne Bailey Rae, Spyro Gyra and Stephen Stills’ the Rides to ICM.

Rob Prinz, head of worldwide concerts for ICM, comments: “I have known Ron and Garry as fierce competitors, talented and professional agents for decades. We are thrilled to welcome them and their tremendous clients to the ICM family.”

Kaplan and Garry Buck first worked together at Chicago-based agency Prestige (later American Famous Talent) in the mid 1980s, developing their rosters and routing global tours for rock, blues and Americana artists.

“I’m happy to find a home at ICM with so many like-minded agents”

Alex Buck joined them at Monterey International just over a decade ago.

Commenting on moving to ICM, Kaplan says: “It was Garry’s and my goal to find a collaborative team, who we could work closely with to provide our touring clients multi-faceted opportunities across all aspects of talent – including TV, movies, soundtrack, corporate and branding – while preserving our 30-plus year business partnership. We are so fortunate to find it at ICM.”

“I’m happy to find a home at ICM with so many like-minded agents, and truly excited for what the future holds,” adds Alex Buck.

The new hires follow a year of expansion for LA-based ICM Partners in 2020, which included a string of strategic hires and a partnership with the UK’s Primary Talent International.

 


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Chicago industry veterans launch Auris Presents

Auris Presents, a new promoter and event production company led by seasoned local live music professionals, has launched in Chicago.

The firm is co-founded by partners Nick Karounos and Stuart Hackley and managing partners John Curley (Paradigm Presents) and Joe Quade (Bam Creates). Karounos is owner of venues Radius (4,000-cap.) and Prysm (650-cap.), partner in Concord Music Hall (1,450-cap.), and former partner of React Presents (Spring Awakening Music Festival), while Hackley is the founder and operator of Loud Crowd, a national events company, and a former senior talent buyer at promoter Disco Donnie Presents.

“I’m excited to bring this strong Chicago-based team together, along with Stuart and the Loud Crowd team, who will continue to produce events throughout the country,” comments Karounos. “They bring incomparable energy and experience to Auris Presents’ midwest focus.”

“The formation of Auris Presents and bringing this team together was essential for our venues to survive”

Joining the team as operating partners are Carson Rhoads, Dom Brown and Mike Lang, with Garrett Birch and Joe Calderone rounding out the team in marketing and design.

Auris will promote “innovative, experiential and curated events at unique locations”, including owned venues, as well as partnering with other promoters and venues in the midwest and across the US, with a slate of socially distanced shows for the remainder of 2020 set to be announced soon.

“The formation of Auris Presents and bringing this team together was essential for our venues to survive, especially Radius, which opened just two weeks prior to the pandemic,” continues Karounos.

“The survival of independent promoters and venues is important to ensure one company isn’t able to monopolise the industry, causing [fewer] options for the artists and fans, inflated service fees and complacency with the fan experience.”

 


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R. Kelly concert permit denied amid “security concerns”

Illinois State has rejected plans for a spring break concert that would have been headlined by R. Kelly. The organisers of Spring Break Jam planned to hold the concert at Illinois State Fairgrounds in April, but officials have denied the application, citing security issues.

Controversial R&B star R. Kelly was to host the proposed event on 6 April in Springfield, Illinois. The line-up also included Yella Beezy, Young Lloyd and Dre Madison. Tickets for the event cost between US$75 and $150, according to previously released promotional material. Such material, including the event page on Eventbrite, has since been taken down.

“Unfortunately, we cannot control when organisers start promoting an event – there was never a signed agreement to host the event at the Illinois State Fairgrounds, only an application,” says Denise Albert, a spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA), reports the Chicago Tribune.

R. Kelly has faced allegations of sexual abuse throughout his career. Criticism of the artist has spiked following the airing of the Lifetime documentary series Surviving R. Kelly earlier this month. The documentary exposed detailed accounts of the singer’s alleged physical, sexual and emotional abuse of women, as well as claims that he ran an “abusive cult”.

“We cannot control when organisers start promoting an event – there was never a signed agreement to host the event”

The documentary has prompted many industry figures to denounce R. Kelly. Lady Gaga has since removed her duet with the artist from streaming services, apologising for having collaborated with the singer.

The IDOA claims that the cancellation is down to security concerns spurred by protests against the artist, and not in direct response to the documentary. The proposed event failed to meet the following criteria:

The IDOA have stated that they could reconsider and approve the concert, but only in the event that R. Kelly will not appear on the bill.

 


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SeatGeek expands with Man City, SeatGeek Stadium deals

SeatGeek’s primary ticketing ambitions have taken a major step forward with a new multi-year deal with Manchester City FC, one of the world’s most famous association football clubs.

The partnership, the terms of which were not disclosed, sees New York-based SeatGeek become Manchester City’s official ticketing partner as of the 2018–19 season, with the club using its SeatGeek Enterprise primary ticketing platform to provide its supporters with a “best-in-class buying experience”.

SeatGeek – until mid-2016 a strictly secondary ticketing platform – entered the primary market that summer via a strategic partnership with software company TopTix. Its first primary client was Major League Soccer (MLS), the highest-level football league in the US.

It later acquired TopTix and its SRO⁴ solution outright, and now counts venues including the Concergebouw (1,974-cap.) in Amsterdam, the Theatre Royal (847-cap.) in York and the English National Opera at London Coliseum (2,359-cap.) and sporting organisations the Dallas Cowboys, Royal Dutch Football Association, Sporting Kansas City, Leicester City FC and Los Angeles FC among its SeatGeek Enterprise clients.

“Chicago is an incredible city for live events, and we look forward to welcoming locals and visitors to SeatGeek Stadium”

Manchester City has the fifth-highest revenue in international football, at €527.7 million (US$644.5m) in 2016–17, and won the English premiership in 2012, 2014 and 2018.

A day before the Manchester City deal, the company additionally announced it is to take over naming rights on the 28,000-capacity Toyota Park football stadium in Bridgeview, Illinois, which is to be renamed SeatGeek Stadium.

SeatGeek says it will work to bring the stadium – home to football (soccer) teams Chicago Fire Soccer Club and Chicago Red Stars – more live events, including “premier concerts, music festivals and international sporting events”, alongside Bridgeview and venue manager Spectra.

The new name will kick in follow Chicago Fire’s final home match in the 2018 season.

“Chicago is an incredible city for live events, and we look forward to welcoming locals and visitors to SeatGeek Stadium,” says SeatGeek co-founder Russ D’Souza.

 


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Niantic agrees $1.5m+ Pokémon Go Fest settlement

Pokémon Go developer Niantic has reported settled the class-action lawsuit filed by disgruntled attendees of last year’s troubled Pokémon Go Fest for more than US$1.5 million.

Lawyer Thomas Zimmerman, representing lead plaintiff Jonathan Norton and a group of other festival attendees, sued Niantic last July for monetary damages to cover their travel expenses, after technical problems caused by overloaded mobile networks left many festivalgoers unable to play the hit game.

While Niantic refunded the cost of tickets ($20) and granted attendees’ $100 worth of in-game credit, no reimbursement was provided for travel costs to Chicago’s Grant Park. Many of the 20,000 people who attended had travelled large distances – some from outside the US.

According to TechCrunch, the class-action judgment (on 30 March) sees Niantic agree to pay out a total of $1.575m to cover travel expenses.

Any leftover money will be donated to charitable organisations Illinois Bar Foundation and Chicago Run, with no money reverting back to the company.

 


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Chicago approves controversial ‘ticket tax’ rise

The cost of many concert tickets in Chicago is set to rise after councillors voted overwhelmingly to increase the city’s amusement tax by 4% in 2018.

Chicago City Council on Tuesday approved mayor Rahm Emanuel’s 2018 budget by a 47–3 vote, setting the stage for tax hikes on venues with a capacity over 1,500, from 5% to 9%. Currently, a 5% levy is imposed on tickets to any “live cultural performance in a for-profit venue.

Emanuel – the brother of WME co-CEO Ari – expects the tax increase to bring in an additional US$15.8 million for the city, reports the Chicago Tribune.

Mayor Emanuel expects the tax increase to bring in an additional $15.8m

Stop Higher Amusement Taxes, a coalition of thousands of Chicago entertainment-industry workers, opposes the rise, saying “higher concert amusement taxes will drive shows to venues outside of Chicago to more tax-friendly local cities – or worse: some shows may bypass Chicago altogether.”

However, venues with a 750–1,499 capacity – previously taxed at 5% – will be exempt, while those with under 750 seats will similarly pay no tax. The amusement tax made headlines last August after it emerged two venues – both of which will now be exempt – were being chased for $200,000 in “crippling” back taxes.

Other tax increases coming into effect on 1 January include hikes on property, water, sewerage and ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft.

 


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Storms force Lollapalooza to cut short first night

Headline sets by Lorde, Muse and others were cut short as a storm forced the early closure of the first day of Lollapalooza.

Promoter C3 Presents and Chicago city officials evacuated the Grant Park site an hour before it was due to close, telling people via Twitter: “Grant Park is being evacuated due to weather. Please make your way to the nearest exit,” and “Tonight’s performances will not resume. Please make your way toward shelter, away from Grant Park”. Announcements were also made over loudspeakers and by stewards.

“We are disappointed to have to end today’s performances early, however our first priority is the safety of our fans, staff and artists,” said C3 Presents spokesperson Sandee Fenton.

It’s not the first time the event has been affected by the weather. In 2015 the final day of the festival was cut short by a nearby storm, and in 2012 the site was evacuated for similar reasons.

Very sad Chicago City & police evacuated Grant Park early on in our show tonight due to lightning strikes nearby. We will be back as soon as we can. Thanks to all those that were rocking in the storm. Amazing fans as always.

A post shared by MUSE (@muse) on Aug 3, 2017 at 8:11pm PDT

The 100,000-capacity festival runs from 3-6 August. Artists include The Killers, Arcade Fire, The xx, Alt-J, Chance the Rapper and Blink-182.

 


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SaveSave

Pokémon Go developer hit with suit over “flop” fest

Niantic, the developer of popular mobile game Pokémon Go, has been slapped with a class-action lawsuit after its inaugural Pokémon Go Fest was beset by technical problems that left many attendees unable to play the game.

The one-day festival, which took place last Saturday in Chicago’s Grant Park (known as the venue for Lollapalooza), was organised by Niantic as fan gathering to celebrate the first anniversary of Pokémon Go’s launch, and drew sponsorship from telcos Spring and Boost Mobile.

Tickets were priced at US$20 (although, predictably, many were being sold for much more on the usual resale sites), with around 20,000 people believed to have attended.

While the festival started relatively smoothly, it soon became clear that local mobile networks were not up to the task of accommodating 20,000 people trying to connect to the game simultaneously, and the mood in the park quickly turned ugly.

Eurogamer’s Matthew Reynolds, who was at the festival, writes:

By the time proceedings officially kicked off and were being streamed on Twitch to fans around the world, I couldn’t even get a phone signal – and nor could anyone else. I struggled to send simple SMS messages (remember those?) to keep the team back home abreast of what was happening. For an event entirely dependent on everyone having an internet connection, it was nothing short of a catastrophe.

Within the 90 minutes from early doors to the opening ceremony, the mood had turned sour. Though Niantic were quick to assure crowds they were looking into the connection issues, it wasn’t enough. CEO John Hanke was booed as he walked on stage, while brash heckles and chants of “fix our game” rang out as bubbly presenters did their best to keep the show going. It was uncomfortable viewing, and later scenes were uglier still. A water bottle was thrown at one of the on-stage presenters – the unwelcome outcome of a disappointed few’s emotions boiling over.

Niantic largely blamed mobile carriers, with Hanke saying most of the problems were due to “over-saturation of the mobile data networks of some network providers”, and refunded all attendees, as well as gifting in-game credit and a free legendary Pokémon.

“Had my client known he would spend the majority of the event waiting in lines and unable to play the game, he would have stayed in California”

This, says lawyer Thomas Zimmerman, isn’t enough, and doesn’t reimburse for those who travelled large distances – many from outside the US – to attend what he calls a “flop” of an event.

In a class-action lawsuit filed in the circuit court of Cook County, Illinois, yesterday, Zimmerman, of Chicago-based Zimmerman Law Offices, is seeking monetary damages to cover the travel expenses of lead plaintiff Jonathan Norton and a group of other festival attendees.

Zimmerman says connectivity problems were amplified by hours-long queues to get into the park.

“Attendees waited in line for hours to enter the fest, missing out on scheduled programming and exclusive in-game content available only to those with paid, activated wristbands at the fest,” reads the complaint. “The fest was plagued with internet connectivity issues related to overburdened cellular towers, in addition to Niantic’s own malfunctioning game server and software, rendering attendees unable to play the game.”

Zimmerman comments: “Festgoers were unable to complete timed in-game challenges to collect special rewards, or collect previously unavailable or rare Pokémon. Had my client [Norton] known that he would spend the majority of the event waiting in lines and unable to play the Pokémon Go game, he would have stayed in California instead of paying money to fly to Chicago to attend the fest.”

 


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Dolby launches Atmos for Music in the US

Dolby Atmos – an ‘immersive’ surround-sound technology with applications in home theatre, broadcast and, especially, cinema – has found a home in one of Chicago’s biggest nightclubs, as audio giant Dolby Laboratories continues the roll-out of its Atmos for Music brand on both sides of the Atlantic.

The installation at Sound-Bar (1,000-cap.), which comprises 30 speakers, 22 channels of audio and a bespoke lighting system, takes advantage of Dolby Atmos’s object-based audio tech to move in sync with the music. It marks the launch of Atmos for Music in the US, and follows the installation of an Atmos system at Ministry of Sound in London in December 2015.

At the time, Bob Borchers, chief marketing officer and senior vice-president of Dolby Laboratories, said Atmos – which, unlike traditional surround sound, allows users to place sounds as ‘objects’ in individual speakers, offering true spatial/3D audio – said the technology had the potential to revolutionise the live music industry. “We have seen how Dolby Atmos transforms the cinema and home theatre,” he said, “and we are confident that it will leave a lasting impact on the music industry, making live music and clubbing more engaging and immersive.”

The first artist to take advantage of Sound-Bar’s Atmos system will be DJ Solarstone (Richard Mowatt), who kicks off the venue’s Atmos ‘residency’ on 29 July.

“Our guests are going to be part of music history in the US”

“With Dolby Atmos technology, I can push the boundaries of what’s technologically possible in delivering my music, providing my fans with a show that will completely immerse them from all angles in the venue,” says Mowatt (pictured).

Haider Rizvi of Sound-Bar adds: “At Sound-Bar, we’ve always been proud to host some of the most dynamic dance music artists in Chicago. By partnering to bring Dolby Atmos to our space, our guests are going to be part of music history in the US.”

Watch TechRadar’s coverage of the Ministry of Sound installation, which includes artists explaining how Atmos works, below:

 


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