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Wave of illegal concerts sweeps South America

Thousands of South Americans attended illegal, non-socially distanced concerts and parties over the Easter weekend, with authorities making arrests across the continent as national governments continue to battle the coronavirus with varying degrees of success.

South America remains a hotspot for Covid-19 – with high mortality rates in Brazil, Peru, Chile and Paraguay of particular cause for concern – though the recent unlicensed live events suggest some people are beginning to chafe under ongoing restrictions on indoor gatherings.

In the town of Turuku, in Ecuador’s northern Imbabura province, local government officials, national police and the armed forces shut down an unlicensed music festival, Killary Fest, which would have been attended by an estimated 5,000 people.

Despite dismantling the stage and confiscating much of Killary Fest’s equipment, including speakers, authorities returned on the evening of Friday 2 April to “learn that, despite the warnings, the party was starting”, reports El Comercio. When they again moved to shut down the event, police and soldiers were pelted with sticks and stones by revellers.

The incident follows months of parties, concerts and other unlawful events in Ecuador, reports El Comercio.

In Punta Arenas, the southernmost city in Chile, a local election candidate is being held by police after organising a concert in a former hospital, attended by around 100 people.

Brazilian police continue to target illegal parties, which are being blamed for the surge in Covid-19 cases and deaths

In addition to not seeking permission for the event, Juan Pablo Martinez – who is standing in upcoming city council elections – failed to enforce mandatory social distancing and mask wearing at the clandestine concert, according to prosecutor Rina Blanco.

The show “endangered public health, given the number of people in close contact, and who he invited,” Blanco comments.

A music venue in Morón, near Buenos Aires in Argentina, has been shut down for 30 days after video emerged of cumbia singer Pablo Lescano playing to a non-socially distanced audience.

The event, which many have dubbed “el recital covid” (the Covid concert), was harshly criticised by the mayor of Morón, Lucas Ghi, who says organiser Vaprisana “worship[s] mischief, deception and the violation in rules” – comparing the club unfavourably to the honest businesspeople of the city, who “adhere to the norms and protocols required by the pandemic”.

Brazilian police also continue to target illegal parties, which are being blamed for the surge in Covid-19 cases and deaths in South America’s most populous country.

The most recent brought together around 100 people – half of whom were caught not wearing face masks – in the city of Sao Paolo last weekend. According to local press, the three organisers were arrested, while the venue was fined R$190,000 (€28,000).

 


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Chilean live assocs form coalition to lobby govt

A coalition of Chilean live music industry professionals has presented a series of measures to economy ministers and the National Consumer Service to mitigate the damage being done to the business by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Representatives from Chilean promoters’ association Agepec (Asociación Gremial de empresas productoras de entretenimiento y cultura), independent music industry body (IMI Chile), ticketing agencies including Puntoticket, Ticketek, and Top Ticket, venues such as Santiago’s Movistar Arena and the Caupolicán Theatre have drawn up a report entitled “Urgent rescue plan for the live music industry”.

The coalition calculates that the shutdown of the live industry due to coronavirus, as well as the disruption caused by nationwide protests, which began in October and halted last month amid the worsening Covid-19 crisis, could result in the loss of $250 million and 160,000 jobs in Chile’s live industry.

The proposals put forward to the Chilean government include ensuring all tickets bought for events that could not be held are valid for the rescheduled events. “This is key as it is a question of stagnated cash flow with no return in sight,” states the coalition.

Ticket refunds have been a topic of debate recently in the live industry, with associations around the world proposing ticket vouchers be offered to fans, instead of cash refunds.

Other measures include the return of tax paid in advance by individuals or companies; an extension on payments of withholding tax (WHT) – that taken from an employee’s income and paid directly from employers to the government – for the next 12 months; an extension on payments for visas or work permits for the next 12 months; unemployment insurance for part-time workers; flexibility to repurpose funds dedicated to now-cancelled events; and emergency financial relief for small- and medium-sized companies in the creative sector.

“If it carries on like this, only a very few companies are going to survive”

Agepec general manager Jorge Ramírez tells La Tercera that the collective aims to generate conditions in which the majority of shows that have been postponed can still go ahead.

“We believe that we can get through this if we find the right tools and utilise regulatory opportunities and temporary tax breaks,” said Ramírez.

Speaking to IQ last month, Carlos Geniso, president of Chilean promoter DG Medios, said that many in the country’s live business were looking to reschedule shows until the final quarter of the year. Lotus Productions’ Lollapalooza Chile, set to take place at the end of March, will now take place in November instead. Fans were able to access the online Lolla en Casa festival on the event’s original dates last weekend.

The Agepec GM also states that there must be a “greater willingness to compromise” from all parties involved, including the fan. “We are faced with a situation of force majeure here, a catastrophe that removes the responsibility for the mutual provision of services,” adding that audiences have, in general, been understanding of the disruption.

According to Ramírez , the combination of the impact of coronavirus and the protests could lead to 70% of those working in Chile’s live industry to lose their jobs.

“If it carries on like this, only a very few companies are going to survive, and it will signal the end of competition in the sector and independents.”

 


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Uncertainty for promoters as Covid-19 spreads in Latam

Promoters in Latin America are facing much uncertainty as shows are shut down, curfews imposed and currency values decline due to the worsening spread of coronavirus

The first case of Covid-19 was reported in Latin America in late February, in the Brazilian city of São Paulo. The virus has now spread to many other countries in the region, including Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela.

In the region’s biggest touring markets, quarantines are in place in Argentina, Colombia and parts of Brazil. In Chile, the government has imposed a curfew between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m, with over one million residents of its capital, Santiago, put under lockdown today (26 March).

This week, the Mexican government placed a ban on all public and private gatherings of over 100 people for the next month, as the country moved into phase two of the epidemic.

“It is still way too early to gauge the full impact in the mid and long term,” says Phil Rodriguez, CEO of Move Concerts, which has offices in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Peru and Puerto Rico, as well as its Miami headquarters. “The first impact is that shows and festivals have been cancelled or rescheduled.”

“For now, we are rescheduling shows from September onwards assuming that is a safe bet, but this could change.”

Major festivals in Latin America affected by the virus include the Lollapalooza festival franchise, which has been rescheduled for 23 to 26 November in Argentina, 27 to 29 November in Chile and 4 to 6 December in Brazil. Estéreo Picnic, due to take place in the Colombian capital of Bogotá in March, has now moved to the start of December.

“For now, we are rescheduling shows from September onwards assuming that is a safe bet, but this could change”

Rodriguez notes that promoters’ associations in all markets have been meeting and reaching out to governments for assistance in various forms, such as “ low interest credit lines, moratorium on taxes and extensions on the time period for reimbursements on cancelled shows.”

Asked what can be expected over the next few months, Rodriguez simply replies: “I wish I knew”.

“This is a continually changing scenario that can change at any minute and has so many parts involved that any speculation is sheer conjecture,” says the Move Concerts boss. “I think we all need a few more weeks to get a better handle on the longer term picture.”

Guillermo Parra, director of international events at Ocesa, the largest promoter in Latin America, agrees that the upcoming weeks “will be crucial”.

Live Nation announced its plan to acquire a controlling stake in Ocesa Entertainment, the world’s fifth-largest promoter and the parent company of Ticketmaster Mexico, in July last year. The promoter puts around 3,100 shows a year and operates 14 venues across Mexico.

“At the moment, all gatherings have been banned – from movie theaters to concerts – until 19 April,” says Parra, “but I honestly think this will go on for longer.”

“When we wake from the virus nightmare, the economic reality will begin”

In Chile, a market which has seen heavy disruption over the past few months due to wide-spread anti-government protests, promoters are rescheduling shows to June, subject to venue availability and touring schedules, says Carlos Geniso, president of DG Medios.

On 18 March, Chilean president Sebastian Piñera declared a “state of catastrophe” for 90 days in the whole country, including a ban on gatherings in public spaces and the establishing of a quarantine and curfew. After Brazil, the country is currently one of the worst affected in the region, with 1,142 confirmed cases.

“We are trying to move as much we can to the last quarter calendar of 2020,” says Geniso, adding that the income loss for thousands of people working in the country’s live industry “will be great for a long period of time”.

The economic impact of the virus is of great concern for all in Latin America. Rodriguez states that Brazil and Colombia have been hit particularly hard by the virus, not just in terms of numbers – Brazil has reported 2,201 cases and Colombia has 378 – but rather because “the exchange rate with the dollar has skyrocketed”.

One dollar is equivalent to 5.05 Brazilian reales, up from BRL4.45 at the end of February, whereas 4,066 Colombian pesos now equal $1, increasing from COP3,460 a month ago.

In Mexico, Parra states that, between the virus and declining oil prices, “the Mexican peso has been crushed”. The Mexican currency fell to a record low against the dollar earlier this week, with $1 selling for over 25 pesos on Monday.

“When we wake from the virus nightmare, the economic reality will begin,” says Parra.

Photo: Leonardo Samran/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) (cropped)

 


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Protests disrupt opening of Chile’s Vina del Mar Festival

The 61st edition of the International Festival of Viña del Mar got underway last night (23 February) to a backdrop of anti-government protests, which caused delays to the opening of the event.

The festival, which is taking place until 28 February at the 15,000-capacity Quinta Vergara park in Viña del Mar, started three and a half hours after schedule due to anti-government protests that congregated around the festival site and the O’Higgins hotel.

The opening act of the festival featuring Chilean hip-hop band Tiro de Gracia and singer Jordan did not take place as planned.

The opening act of the festival featuring Chilean hip-hop band Tiro de Gracia and singer Jordan did not take place as planned

Puerto Rican star Ricky Martin was the first artist to perform on Sunday, displaying his support for the protestors and stating: “May Chile serve as the catalyst for other parts of the world, where our voices are not heard.”

A wave of protests has been taking place across Chile for the past four months, sparked by a public transport fare hike and evolving into wider demonstrations against social inequality, living costs and the country’s constitution.

The protests have caused the cancellation of many major concerts and events, with the Movistar Arena in Chilean capital Santiago closing for almost a month in October.

Other acts performing at the six-day Viña del Mar festival include Ozuna, Ana Gabriel, Maroon 5, Pablo Alborán and Mon Laferte.


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LN strengthens Latam presence with DG Medios stake

Live Nation has acquired a majority stake in independent Chilean concert promoter DG Medios, as the live entertainment behemoth further strengthens its foothold in Latin America.

The stake adds to majority shareholdings for Live Nation in Argentina’s DF Entertainment, Brazilian festival Rock in Rio and major Mexican promoter Ocesa Entertainment.

IQ calculates that Live Nation has taken a majority shareholding in 19 promoters, festivals and other live music-related businesses worldwide this year.

Santiago-based DG Medios, which was founded by well known regional promoter Carlos Geniso, sold over 330,000 tickets last year and has promoted shows by U2, Rolling Stones, Guns N’ Roses, Paul McCartney and Justin Bieber.

“DG Medios is another important step in expanding our footprint across Latin America”

According to the International Ticketing Yearbook 2019, the promoter is one of a number of local players, along with Lotus and Bizarro, that contribute to “the health of Chile’s live music market”.

Live Nation has co-promoted with DG Medios owner Geniso, who will continue to oversee all operations at the company, for tours by the likes of Bon Jovi, Bruno Mars, Phil Collins, Depeche Mode and Harry Styles.

Live Nation president and CEO Michael Rapino says he is “thrilled to be in business with legendary Chilean promoter Carlos Geniso”, adding that, “DG Medios is another important step in expanding our footprint across Latin America.”

Geniso comments that: “Teaming up with Live Nation will give us access to resources that will be instrumental in growing our substantial roster of shows even further. The DG Medios team and I are excited to provide even more memorable experiences for fans.”

 


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Buenos Aires Arena renamed to Movistar Arena

Telecommunications giant Movistar has signed a naming-rights deal with ASM Global-operated Buenos Aires Arena (15,000-cap.).

The arena is the third South American venue to take Movistar’s name, following similar partnerships with arenas in Santiago, Chile and Bogotá, Colombia.

Argentine singer Tini Stoessel marked the opening of the new arena on 1 November, which was free-to-enter for all Movistar customers that registered for tickets via Club Movistar.

Other acts to have performed at the arena include Spanish musicians Serrat and Sabina and Puerto Rican singer Chayanne, with upcoming shows by Abel Pintos, Keane, Ricardo Montaner, Andrés Calamaro, Shawn Mendes and J Balvin.

“This alliance is a milestone for our company”

Originally slated to be operated by AEG Facilities, the arena later came under ASM Global’s management, which was formed as the result of a merger between AEG Facilities and SMG. The venue is owned by Buenos Aires Arena SA, an entity controlled by La Nación, Argentina’s biggest media company.

“We are proud to be able to partner with this new concept of shows in Argentina,” comments Federico Rava, executive president of Movistar owner Telefónica Argentina. According to Rava, the new partnership “combines the best live entertainment with a unique experience for those present, exclusive benefits for Movistar clients and access to the latest technology and connectivity during the shows.”

“This alliance is a milestone for our company. We are very excited to welcome Movistar as our main sponsor, which will enhance the experience of spectators attending shows at Movistar Arena,” adds the arena’s president Natalia Mouhapé.

 


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Promoters positive despite sales drop in Barcelona

Concert promoters in Barcelona, Spain, have noticed a decrease in ticket sales as the result of protests in the city, sparked by the jailing of nine Catalan politicians and activists two weeks ago.

Promoters including Live Nation and Barcelona-based The Project, as well as venues such as el Palau de la Música and el Gran Teatre del Liceu have seen a decline in sales since 14 October, when the Spanish Supreme Court sentenced the organisers of the 2017 Catalan independence referendum to 9 – 13 years in prison.

“Sales have fallen and we still haven’t recovered the rates that we had before,” Tito Ramoneda, co-founder of The Project and vice president of Spanish Promoters’ Association APMusicales told El Periódico. According to Ramoneda, sales have dropped by around 30% over the past two weeks.

El Palau de la Música, which closed its doors due to difficulties in accessing the venue during the height of the protests, has seen a 69% decrease in concert ticket sales, with organised visits to the building dropping by 5%.

“We have to preserve cultural life,” says el Palau director Joan Oller, echoing a sentiment expressed to IQ by Hong Kong-based promoters in August. “We can’t forget that el Palau maintained its musical offering during the civil war. Beyond the crisis we’re going through, it is always important to keep our link with culture.”

“Sales have fallen and we still haven’t recovered the rates that we had before”

Ticket sales for Live Nation-promoted concerts in Barcelona have also been lower than usual, a source told El Periódico. However, unlike in 2017 – when the Catalan leaders were originally arrested – shows are going ahead as planned.

The Project promoted a Herbie Hancock concert as part of Barcelona Jazz Festival over the weekend and Live Nation has upcoming shows from Daniel Caesar, Royal Republic, Bear’s Den and Vampire Weekend.

Concert and festival promoter Cruilla has noted a “good rate of sales”, selling out shows by a selection of Catalan and Spanish acts including Iseo and Dodosound, Manel, León Benavente, Buhos and Els Catarres.

Primavera Sound, one of the first representatives of the music industry to speak out against the sentencing, states that “more passes than normal” were sold in the week following the sentencing.

Political upheaval has taken its toll on live music across the world in recent months, with protests in leading to the cancellation of the inaugural edition of Rolling Loud Hong Kong and multiple concerts and festivals in Santiago, Chile.

 


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Concerts axed as unrest builds in Chilean capital

Following the outbreak of anti-government protests, the Chilean government has ordered the cancellation of all “large-scale events”, declaring a state of emergency and imposing a curfew in Santiago and other parts of the country.

The protests began in the capital city of Santiago on Friday (18 October), following a public transport fare hike. Demonstrations later evolved into more general protests over living costs and inequality, spreading to other areas of Chile.

Two performances from celebrity violinist André Rieu at the 17,000-capacity Movistar Arena in Santiago were put on hold following the measures.

“We are deeply sorry for the cancellations and the inconvenience this will cause to those who had bought tickets,” stated local promoter Bizarro Live Entertainment, “but we find ourselves in a situation that is out of our hands.”

Canadian singer Bryan Adams was also due to play at the arena, following shows in Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay. The singer cited “civil unrest” as the reason for the cancellation of today’s (22 October) show.

The one-day Vívela Festival, which was set to take place in Santiago’s Quinta Normal park, was also called off. Colombian band Bomba Estereo, UK electronic group Morcheeba, Jamaican reggae band Inner Circle and Venezuelan duo Mau y Ricky were among acts scheduled to play the festival.

“We are deeply sorry for the cancellations, but we find ourselves in a situation that is out of our hands”

“We are suspending the festival as we received an official statement from the government informing organisers that all large-scale events in the metropolitan area must be cancelled, due to the difficult situation that is going on,” announced festival promoter Street Machine.

Tickets for a show by Argentinian rock band Soda Stereo, due to go on sale today for Banco de Chile customers and on Thursday for the general public, will not be available until further notice, announced Chilean promoter Lotus Producciones.

According to IQ’s International Ticketing Yearbook 2019 (ITY), Chile’s live market has “thrived” in recent years, while South America’s other major touring destinations – Brazil and Argentina – have “faltered”.

“We have our own challenges, but we see the Chilean market as much more stable than the other markets in Latin America and the Caribbean,” Paulo Atienza, CEO of Chile’s leading ticketing company PuntoTicket, told ITY.

Major festivals in the country include Lotus Producciones-promoted Santiago Gets Louder and Lollapalooza Chile. Rock in Rio founder Roberto Medina recently announced that a Chilean edition of the Brazilian mega festival would take place in 2021.

 


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Rock in Rio founder plans Chilean fest

A Chilean edition of Brazilian mega festival Rock in Rio is in the works for 2021, confirms festival founder Roberto Medina.

Rock City-promoted Rock in Rio, founded by Medina in 1985, is the second highest-grossing festival in the world and the largest in South America. Rock City, in which Live Nation recently upped its shareholding to a majority stake, also operates a sister event in Lisbon, and formerly in Las Vegas and Madrid.

The Santiago de Chile edition marks the first expansion of the Rock in Rio festival brand within the Latin American region. Medina estimates investment needed for the new festival to be “nearly $150 million”.

The four-day event is billed for October 2021, just after the flagship Rio de Janeiro festival, with “practically the same line-up”. Drake, Foo Fighters, Bon Jovi, Iron Maiden, Pink and Muse are among those playing Rock in Rio this year.

“Chile is a calm country with a stable economy, it seems like a logical step,” Medina told Chilean newspaper La Tercera. “800,000 people live in Lisbon, whereas Santiago has five million inhabitants in a country with a much bigger economy than Portugal.”

“Chile is a calm country with a stable economy, it seems like a logical step”

Medina also cites “great political and economic stability” in neighbouring Argentina as a major deterrent for a potential Argentinian branch.

“[Chile’s] proximity to Brazil is a positive,” states Medina, saying “almost 200,000 people” miss out on tickets for the Rio edition each year. Fans now have the option to attend the sister event a four-hour plane ride away. According to Medina, acts have traditionally played solo concerts in Santiago after their Rock in Rio appearance.

Medina also cites the positive economic impact the festival would bring to Santiago, estimated to be US$500 million over the four days.

Lollapalooza Chile, which has taken place in Santiago since 2011, is not viewed as competition for the Rock City festival. “The scale and approach [of the two events] are different,” explains Medina.

Rock in Rio takes place from 27 to 29 September and 3 to 6 October in Barra Olympic Park. Tickets will be available soon via Festicket.


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T4F names Luiz Oscar Niemeyer head of live music in South America

Luiz Oscar Niemeyer, the veteran Brazilian concert promoter who sold his Planmusic company to Time for Fun (T4F) last May, has been appointed head of T4F’s live music/entertainment activities in all four countries where the company is active.

Niemeyer (pictured) previously held the same role for Brazil, but will now additionally oversee live entertainment in Argentina, Peru and Chile. He replaces former chief entertainment officer Alexandre Faria Fernandes, who T4F thanks for “all his contributions and wishes him success in future endeavours”.

T4F is South America’s leading live entertainment company and one the top-five promoters worldwide. Upcoming shows include Fifth Harmony’s PSA tour, The Wailers in Rio and Sao Paolo, Paul McCartney’s One on One tour and Lollapalooza Brasil next March.

Niemeyer, meanwhile, has promoted some of the biggest live shows in Brazilian history, including Hollywood Rock festival from 1988 to 1993, Paul McCartney’s 1990 concert at the Maracanã, which attracted 184,000 people, and The Rolling Stones’ historic performance to more than 1.5 million people on Copacabana beach in 2006, and is widely credited as the man who put Brazil on the international touring map.

 


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