Italy’s Barley Arts launches new music festival
Renowned Italian promoter Barley Arts has announced the first edition of a brand new festival centred on the idea of comfort.
The inaugural Comfort festival will take place between 3–4 September 2021 in Ferrara, northern Italy, at the Parco Urbano Bassani – an ancient hunting reserve surrounded by lakes and meadows.
The festival will comprise two stages: the Comfort stage, which will offer live music performances, and the Armonia (harmony) stage by Slow Music, which will host acoustic, literary and theatrical performances.
Comfort will invite around 4,000 attendees each day to enjoy the performances, either from the comfort of ‘the blanket area’ in front of the stage, a deckchair, table, or seat.
The line-up boasts more than 20 Italian and international acts including Lovesick Duo, Filo Graziani, The Cyborgs, Paolo Benvegnù, Matthew Lee quartet and Rinky Tinky Jazz Orchestra.
Barley Arts founder and Slow Music president Claudio Trotta – who has produced and promoted a plethora of concerts from international artists all over the world – says the idea has been years in the making.
“The ingredients are all there: the prestigious signature of Trotta, the unique area of Parco Bassani, many great acts”
Comfort festival is co-produced with Teatro Comunale di Ferrara (opera house) and sponsored by the municipality of Ferrara.
“Comfort festival is a great novelty this year and it will further enrich the large calendar of events during this summer of recovery,” says the mayor of Ferrara, Alan Fabbri.
“Parco Urbano is a new venue that will be animated by music of national and international artists, which the audience will listen to surrounded by greenery, in a large, evocative, equipped area. A unique place on which we are working to make it more usable and make it a setting for major events. We are happy to collaborate with Claudio Trotta, whose name and history are linked to international artists of the highest level.”
Council member Marco Gulinelli added: “Comfort festival has all the prerequisites to become one of the most qualifying events at a national level during this summer of recovery. The ingredients are all there: a prestigious signature like that of Claudio Trotta, the unique area of Parco Bassani, many great singers and bands on stage and a very wide offer that ranges from different musical genres to literature.”
Tickets for the festival are on sale on Ticketmaster, Ticketone and Vivaticket. A one-day ticket costs €25, a two-day pass costs €40.
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Italian industry rebukes gov over €222bn recovery
Italy’s live industry has admonished the government for failing to recognise ‘the cultural, economical and social importance’ of live music in its new recovery plan.
The ‘National Recovery and Resilience Plan’ (PNRR), totaling €222 billion, was presented to parliament on Monday (26 April) by president Mario Draghi.
Of the €222 bn, €6.7 bn has been allocated to culture with the aim to “increase the level of attractiveness of the country’s cultural and tourist system through the modernization of both tangible and intangible infrastructures”.
However, in the spending plan for culture, music venues (or theatres, as Italy prefers to call them) are only referenced once as part of a €300m bid to “promote eco-efficiency and the reduce energy consumption” in cultural venues.
Roberto De Luca, president of Live Nation Italy, told IQ: “I am very pleased about this PNRR but unfortunately, I do not find a single line regarding live music industry. This a terrible mistake as live music is a fundamental part of our culture, as well as an industry that has a huge economic impact on every territory where live music is happening.
“I do not find a single line regarding live music industry. This a terrible mistake as live music is a fundamental part of our culture”
“Live music has both direct and indirect effects. As an example, let’s look at what the FirenzeRocks festival means for Firenze. In 2019, it generated an economic impact of more than €40m as our audience spent between €300–500 per person on hotels, museums, restaurants and so on. Not just in Italy, summer live shows are happening in historic squares, castles, Roman and Greek amphitheaters, so I truly believe that is a driver for our own culture.”
Claudio Trotta, founder of Barley Arts and Slow Music, expressed similar disappointment to IQ: “I don’t see at all in this plan the recognition of the cultural, economical and social importance of live popular music and its industry. I don’t see any investment at all in new venues for music nor attention to professional training for the future generation.
“According to this plan, culture is important only if connected to the benefits that it creates for tourism and not for the citizens and the people. Culture is important by itself, not just when it’s used to draw tourism.
“On another note, I would love to see in this full plan a real and accurate attention to the biodynamic balance and not only some generic references to a digital, ecological and green transition.”
Vincenzo Spera, president of Italy’s live music association Assomusica, tells IQ he is particularly concerned about how the measures will affect the next generation.
“According to this plan, culture is important only if connected to the benefits that it creates for tourism”
“We currently do not know if and how the €6bn envisaged by the PNRR will be allocated to the live music sector. We are therefore very worried, especially because we believe that this could be a fundamental opportunity for socio-cultural aggregation at the European level.
“Obviously this does not concern, or should not only concern Italy, but all European countries, considering that music is the tool for the greatest socialisation and aggregation among young people. It is no coincidence that there is a measure called Next Generation. By continuing in this way, however, there is a risk that future generations will not derive any benefit from the envisaged measures but rather pay the price.
“We think that there is no better opportunity than this to realize some fundamental points which, especially following the pandemic, become particularly urgent: the first point [in the spending plan] concerns technological innovation, of which we are carriers and experimenters; the second point refers, instead, to the eco-sustainability of the live entertainment system and its ability to always attract new audiences to the territories, to discover new realities and to generate ‘green economy’, helping to enhance sites that are important from the point of view historical-architectural.
“The third point concerns the possibility of finally creating premises, structures and spaces of the future, conceived as they should be today, multifunctional, interactive and synergistic between the various genres of entertainment. The time has also come to create a physical and not just a virtual platform that can allow various European cultures to circulate in different countries.”
“The government propaganda is telling everyone that Italy is slowly getting back to a sort of normality but we still have restrictions”
Fabrizio Pompeo, Radar Concerti, tells IQ: “Yes, the headline of the news is great but going deeper into it, there is no such great news for the music business as nothing is coming directly to our industry. The €6bn is going to feed a very wide range of activities and not going to the music industry.
“The government propaganda is telling everyone that Italy is slowly getting back to a sort of normality but we still have restrictions which are making impossible arranging a concert. Not only the distancing procedures but we still have a curfew on from 10 pm to 5 am.”
As of Monday (26 April), eleven of the twenty Italian regions have been permitted to reopen music venues for capped and socially distanced concerts.
The eleven regions – including Lazio, Veneto, Piedmont, Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna – have been dubbed ‘yellow’ under the country’s colour-coded system of coronavirus restrictions and are now allowed to partially reopen.
Venues in the yellow zone can now reopen at 50% capacity, with no more than 500 people inside and 1,000 people outside – all of whom must observe one-metre social distancing. The 10 pm–5 am curfew is still in place.
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Claudio Trotta awarded Milan’s gold medal
Italian promoter Claudio Trotta has been officially recognised by the city of Milan for his 40-year service to music.
The Barley Arts founder and Slow Music president has been awarded the gold medal of the Ambrogino d’Oro – only one of 15 given out by the municipality each year.
The Bureau of Milan City Council which decides the winners has commended Trotta for his ongoing fight against secondary ticketing; his “visionary” to launch iconic festivals such as Sonoria and organise Italian tours with the likes of Bruce Springsteen; and his promotion of sustainability which earned Barley Arts a Greener Festival Award.
“I have become part of a list of people, who since 1946, the City of Milan recognises as having given their city everything they could for the supreme and superior good that is the community,” says Trotta.
“Seeing my courage rewarded so publicly is a powerful incentive to continue on my path”
“Now, more than ever, it is vital to share hope, passion, affection, harmony, respect and vision of the future for those who are yet to be born and for humanity as a whole. I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life but I’ve always had the courage to act according to my visions, no matter the cost to myself.
“Seeing my courage rewarded so publicly and the reasons that supported my Ambrogino expressed vividly, is a powerful incentive to continue on my path.
“I would like to underline that a man alone can do nothing if he is not supported by a community; whether that be family, teamwork or even strangers who are kindred souls, they share in their daily lives my same priorities and struggles. Thank you everyone for this award, it represents real and heartfelt satisfaction.”
The official ceremony takes place every year on 7 December – the feast of Sant’Ambrogio, the patron saint of Milan – and the prizes are delivered by the city mayor.
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Putting music back in the centre
Before speaking on the future of the sector in which I work, with Barley Arts and Slow Music, I would like to reflect on a wider context.
The great health tragedies, wars, hunger and poverty that have affected millions of people, even in recent decades, were always perceived as concerning “others”.
We were those “others” all the time, but we are noticing this fact only now that we are directly and indiscriminately affected by the situation.
Covid-19 is a global pandemic, but we can’t forget that today millions of people still starve and face calamities and famines of all kinds.
Today we are facing an emergency that we would otherwise have ignored.
When we get out of the global health emergency, as an optimistic man devoted to Enlightenment principles (as I consider myself) I hope that humanity can reconsider its priorities and focus again on affection, harmony and the physiological need to help others, and take our time in order to give continuity and diversity to our life without suffering too much from the inexorability of its progress.
We have no time to cry about ourselves, but only for the beloved ones lost by many of us.
We don’t even have time, nor reasons, to be afraid but only to be aware.
I hope that it can finally be understood that each individual action always corresponds to collective consequences, and that the unbridled race towards fame, power and financial and economic wealth do not make most of humanity feel good.
the unbridled race towards fame, power and financial and economic wealth do not make most of humanity feel good
In addition to thanking doctors and nurses, we must remember the hundreds of thousands of people who every day take care of everything necessary for us to continue living – cashiers, shopkeepers, cleaners, truck drivers, public transportation workers and taxi drivers, and volunteers of all categories – but also the prisoners and the many beggars who are refused accommodation in Milan in this period of emergency, and still need help.
We cannot forget people with mental and drug addiction problems, self-employed workers of all kinds, undeclared workers and the elderly alone in their homes and residences.
I believe it is necessary to suggest a collective qualitative leap in the ways of compulsory staying at home during these months.
I believe that civil society can, and should, make itself available in a rational and coordinated way by using its consolidated expertise and network of professional relationships to support and sustain all those activities that support the people who need it most.
For example, specifically concerning my field, the knowhow of more than 40 years of show set-up and production, often in makeshift locations and even in extreme conditions, can and must be a useful resource in setting up temporary structures of any kind.
Music, art, theatre and literature can help and comfort, and can contribute to the economic reconstruction of the country.
With Slow Music, we are creating (from home) ‘Slow Club’, a sort of many-voiced magazine that will be online this week.
We must reconsider our priorities: they must go back to being the well-being of people
Finally, it will be necessary to reflect on the production methods of mass gatherings for next few years.
We must reconsider our priorities: they must go back to being the well-being of people, from the moment they purchase the ticket until they return home at the end of the show, rather than those of numbers, turnover, records, ubiquity instead of participation, and the satisfaction of the egos of those on stage.
It will be necessary to think of new forms of assistance; to distance the audience in the right way; to recalculate the capacities and review the methods of entry and exit flows; and in general, allow everyone to enjoy the soothing power that culture, and of course music, have for the psycho-physical balance of people.
Perhaps we are at the end of a second Middle Ages, and nature is sending us a kind of ‘last call’ – either mankind corrects the route or we will have no more alternatives if not to succumb to all kinds of calamities, like the one we are going through.
Perhaps we can contribute to a new Renaissance, if not for us, at least for our sons, grandsons and great-grandsons.
There is a time for everything, and all we can now do is reschedule what has to be interrupted and what cannot be achieved for a few months. But it is certain that in due course, and at a necessarily international forum, many things will have to be reviewed, putting the essence that is ‘music’ back to the centre and giving up everything that is useless and often mystifying in this industry superstructure.
And anyway, with 2.6 billion people at home, Mother Earth is feeling much better. Once the health emergency is over, it will be a starting to point to reflect on changing our way of being.
Claudio Trotta is founder and CEO of Barley Arts.
No rhythm in the algorithm
As I said at the time, when I received word of Viagogo’s plans to acquire StubHub, it was one of the worst pieces of news I had received in my more than 40 years in the business.
First of all, the fact that Viagogo can spend US$4 billion in cash is very worrying. Secondly, that Viagogo has bought a competitor that operates in most countries means we are still really far from winning the battle against this cancer – and I do truly believe it is a cancer – which has been eating away at the live music industry for far too long now.
I am sure Viagogo has made this deal because they absolutely know it means they can carry on doing secondary ticketing in the majority of countries in the world and circumvent the laws in place. This is very bad for the future of the industry; for music, for punters and for overall quality. Music is in danger of becoming only for rich people and hardcore fans – the only people capable of or prepared to pay inflated secondary prices.
We need to do something to combat this, otherwise live music as we know it will die. Hugely inflated prices would mean no new acts either, which means no future for the business.
I truly believe the audience and the industry needs waking up from a long sleep. The music business has clearly been “drugged” by this system, which has inflicted damaged on the audience, who are, ultimately, our main shareholders.
What’s at stake, in fact, is not just the chance for punters to buy tickets at a decent and sustainable price, or attend several different shows, or even for newcomers to the live music industry to freely decide whether they want to be an independent entrepreneur or an employee of one of a few major companies… What’s at stake now is the future of our kids and, ultimately, their relation to culture and live music and the role it plays in their lives.
The future should depend on our own talent, courage, respect, work ethics and professionalism
With the dawn of dynamic pricing, which uses software to price tickets automatically based on popularity, we have taken yet another step towards the algorithmisation of the live music industry. Are audiences of the future going to be able to grow their identities and personal tastes organically, rather than artificially following algorithms that decide – what they listen to, what they see, what they buy and so on – for them?
The music business has to walk to the beat of its own drum, the way it has always has.
This means making your own choices based on whether you believe in an artist and like their material, not because an algorithm tells you that a particular song is what ‘X’ amount of people will love or that this is how much a ticket should cost.
It means challenging convention and creating our own future based on our own feelings. What really scares me is that if we don’t act now, in the very near future people will no longer trust their own feelings and make their own decisions.
The future should not be dictated by a computer. The future should depend on our own talent, courage, respect, work ethics and professionalism.
The huge personalities that have influenced the industry, like Bill Graham, certainly didn’t use algorithms, and we are all in the industry because of their talent and charisma. Maybe it’s time we remembered that.
Italian promoter David Zard passes
David Zard, a pioneering concert promoter who was the first to bring some of the biggest names in rock music to Italy, has died aged 75.
Born in Tripoli, Zard (pictured) emigrated to Italy in 1967, fleeing persecution of Libya’s Jewish minority after the Six-Day War, and over the next five decades established himself as one of the country’s leading promoters, organising stadium tours by Cat Stevens, Elton John, Tina Turner, Lou Reed, Frank Zappa, the Rolling Stones, Genesis, Bob Dylan, Madonna, Michael Jackson and more.
He was also a record producer, a longtime ILMC member and a booking agent, to Italian singer-songwriter Gianna Nannini, among others. In recent years Zard and his company, Saludo Italia, focused on stage shows, most recently producing the 2013 musical Romeo e Giulietta – Ama e cambia il mondo (Romeo and Juliet – Love and Change the World).
Vincenzo Spera, president of Italian promoters’ association Assomusica says he was left “speechless” by news of Zard’s passing on 27 January (also Holocaust memorial day). “Your voice, your teachings and your passion will never abandon us,” says Spera. “You will be greatly missed.”
“David Zard has done much for Italian music – much more than one imagines”
Writing for la Repubblica, Italian music journalist Erneso Assante describes Zard as a “visionary” who foresaw a modern concert industry worthy of the term “industry. But he was also a huge fan of music: he knew artists, genres, trends… nothing escaped his radar.”
He was, continues Assante, “gruff and sympathetic, affectionate and sharp, difficult and soft, an eagle and dove. A wonderful heap of contradictions, from which emerged his personality, his strong beliefs, his love for music. Yes, David Zard has done much for Italian music – much more than one imagines. And it will, rightly, be remembered for it.”
Barley Arts founder Claudio Trotta says Zard was a “visionary, proud, brave man” with “charisma, a personality and a unique character”. Trotta also praises his work in fighting against ticket resale, saying Zard was “one of my colleagues who spoke against the phenomenon of secondary ticketing, highlighting the abuse by some well-known multinationals”, and his recognition of the “undisputed talent” of Italian singer Angelo Branduardi, whose success opened the door other for Italian artists in Europe.
Ruth Dureghello, president of the Jewish Community of Rome, praises Zard’s contribution to the “history of music and entertainment in Italy. He brought prestige to the Jewish community, who now mourn their loss.”
Zard is survived by his wife, Patrizia Tomasich, and their son, Clemente, who now leads Warner Music Italy’s live operation, Vivo Concerti.
Rocking fillers: Live music Christmas gift guide
Classic concert posters
Is there anything in the history of rock music art as magnificent as Kate Burness’s poster for the Stones’ 1973 show at Cardiff Castle, depicting a dragon with an unfortunate case of Mick Jagger-mouth?
This particular print is sadly sold out, but there are plenty more to choose from at Classic Posters, including the Doors, the Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd, Bob Dylan, the Beatles and the Who.
No Pasta No Show
No Pasta No Show: My 40 Years of Live Music in Italy, Barley Arts founder Claudio Trotta’s new autobiography, is part memoir by a promoter responsible for more than 15,000 live events over five decades, and part history of the Italian concert business.
Sleep Safe tape
At your tenth show this week? In a dingy basement surrounded by drunk students when you’d much rather be at home in bed with your wife/husband/cuddle pillow? Treat yourself to 40 winks mid-gig with these extremely convincing stick-on fake eyes.
Just £5 from Wish.com… for the agent who has everything.
Dean Budnick and Josh Baron’s Ticket Masters – subtitled The Rise of the Concert Industry and How the Public Got Scalped – chronicles the history and growth of the modern live music industry, with a particular focus on the changing, often controversial, ticketing market.
A 2011 Maclean’s review calls the book a “fascinating insider’s portrait of the music business once all of the pulsing lights, fog machines and sound equipment have been turned off”.
Wanted to be a rock star but lacked the musical talent? Never fear: Dan Wieden’s Musical Ruler offers you the chance to “become a musician in just a few hours!”
For just £5.99, the stationery maestro will guide you through “the highs, the lows and a variety of twanging thrills” of “modern ruler playing” – perfect for the failed musician in your life.
Isolate ear plugs
Starting at just £24.99, Flare Audio’s aluminium Isolate ear protectors promise to shield your ear drums from permanent hearing damage by blocking loud noise – such as live music – while still allowing you to ‘hear’ in detail through bone conduction.
Muse’s tour director, Glen Rowe, describes them as “bloody brilliant”, while legendary producer Tony Visconti (Bowie/T. Rex/Morrissey) says they’re “the best plugs I’ve ever used”. High praise indeed.
Desk Tape Series
If you want to raise money for a worthy music-related cause this Christmas, you could do worse than ARCA’s Desk Tape Series.
ARCA advocates for road crew, which it describes as the “backbone of Australian music”, especially those in crisis. All proceeds from the sale of the recordings will be used to assist road crew: The roadie who worked on the show will receive 80% of the profit, with 20% being retained by ARCA for its charitable Roadies Fund.
Emperor Palpatine mask
What better way to celebrate ILMC’s close encounters-themed 30th anniversary than with this truly horrifying silicone mask of the most evil man in the galaxy, Star Wars’s Darth Sidious/Sheev Palpatine?
It’s yours for just £517.90 from Ireland’s Madhouse FX Studio. Just make sure you let your colleagues know if you’ve ordered one – one Sith lord in the Royal Garden Hotel is probably more than enough…
Shameless plug: IQ Magazine
Not yet a subscriber to the only essential magazine for the international live music business? There’s still time to get your order in before Christmas, making sure you keep on top of the all latest live music industry news, features and insights throughout 2018.
Exclusive: No Secondary Ticketing stream
Update (27/7): The conference has finished, but the archived stream can still be watched in its entirety above.
Today, at the Franco Parenti Theatre in Milan, Italian promoter Barley Arts hosts the inaugural No Secondary Ticketing conference.
No Secondary Ticketing, the “first international conference against secondary ticketing”, was convened in the aftermath of the infamous ‘Coldplay case’ which led to ticket touting being provisionally banned outright in Italy. It brings together international live music professionals to discuss the ethics and effects of secondary ticketing on the global live entertainment industry, and will see the launch of the Anti-Secondary Ticketing Federation – an association that will report illegal ticket resale to police and “inform consumers about the risks of the secondary market”.
A live stream in English will be live from 10am GMT. The full agenda is as follows:
Session 1 (10.00–12.30 GMT)
- Discussion on preventing ticket touting, with artists, managers, promoters, ticket agencies, press and collection society SIAE
- The launch of the Anti-Secondary Ticketing Federation
Session 2 (14.30–17.00 GMT)
- Roundtable on the ethics of the live music supply chain, with the Italian Antitrust Authority, Altroconsumo, Assomusica, economists, lawyers and politicians
Italy set to outlaw secondary ticketing
An amendment to Italy’s 2017 budget law that would criminalise ticket touting has been approved by the country’s Chamber of Deputies, clearing the last major hurdle towards being written into law.
The amendment, introduced earlier this month by culture minister Dario Franceschini, prohibits the “sale, or any other form of placement [on the secondary market], of tickets” by anyone other than the issuer, and provides for fines of between €5,000 and €180,000 for those caught doing so – both on- and offline.
In addition, secondary ticketing sites will themselves be held responsible if found to be facilitating the illegal resale of tickets, and subject to “removal of the [tickets] or, in severe cases, the blocking of the website through which the infringement has taken place”, with no possibility for damage claims.
While professional touting is officially out, the amendment does, however, allow for the sale of the occasional unwanted ticket, which is “not sanctioned when carried out by a physical person on an occasional basis, provided there is no commercial purpose”.
Once written into the budget law, the amendment still needs to be approved within 30 days by the justice, culture and economic ministries, although a source close to the situation tells IQ it will “definitely be approved by [all] parties”.
The passage of the act could, however, be complicated by the looming referendum on overhauling the Italian constitution – to which a ‘no’ vote could, analysts believe, trigger the resignation of prime minister Matteo Renzi.
“With this measure, the government has taken a clear step towards addressing the problem, including serious financial penalties”
The move to outlaw secondary ticketing in Italy comes after controversy in the market following an admission by Live Nation Italy’s managing director, Roberto de Luca, that his company had been passing inventory directly to Viagogo, leading to several artists, including stadium-filler Vasco Rossi, severing their ties with Live Nation.
The direct links between several national promoters and the secondary market were made public by national TV programme Le Iene (mirroring similar revelations about the UK market made public by Channel 4’s Dispatches programme in February 2012) earlier this month. While many Italian promoters have exclusive ticketing contracts with primary ticketing company Ticketone, the programme alleged that primary tickets are sold directly to secondary platforms at face value, with 90% of the uplift then passed back to certain promoters.
Live Nation Italy, which said the collusion related to a “small number of tickets for a handful of international artists” and that it has “never been asked to list any tickets on secondary markets by Italian artists”, has since voluntarily withdrawn from promoters’ association Assomusica.
It was followed closely by rival promoter Barley Arts, whose managing director, Claudio Trotta, said in an open letter the association had, by allegedly failing to take a decisive stand on the issue, ceased to “represent me properly”.
Assomusica counters that it “had tried to put an end to the phenomenon [of secondary ticketing]” and fully supports Franceschini’s amendment.
“With this measure, the government has taken a clear step towards addressing the problem,” it said in a statement today, “including serious financial penalties for those who practice this activity. […] A big thank you … for taking such substantial action.”