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Cities up stakes for A-list tours in tourism push

As A-list tours become increasingly hot commodities in cities’ efforts to boost tourism, it has emerged the Western Australian government paid A$8 million to subsidise two Coldplay concerts.

The band played two nights at Perth’s Optus Stadium – their first gigs in Western Australia since 2009 – in November 2023 as part of their Music of the Spheres World Tour, in what was hailed as a “major tourism coup” for the country’s fourth most populous city.

Presented by the WA government, through Tourism WA, and Live Nation, the Australian-exclusive gigs were promoted alongside hotel packages designed to encourage visitors to stay longer in Perth and explore the region further, creating additional economic benefits.

A new Guardian report has revealed that $8m (€5m) was paid to Live Nation in relation to the performances, which Tourism WA said injected “tens of millions of visitor spend” into the state’s economy. The body said the award followed “a rigorous assessment, cost benefit analysis, review and approvals process, including review and approval by the Tourism WA Board, Treasury and final sign off by the minister for tourism and premier”.

Coldplay are returning to Australia and New Zealand this October and November to perform in Sydney, Melbourne and Auckland.

It follows a similar disclosure around Coldplay’s four nights in Portugal at the 50,000-cap Estádio Cidade de Coimbra in Portugal in May last year. The concerts attracted controversy when it was revealed promoter Everything is New would receive €440,000 from the municipality and was exempted from “municipal fees and prices” for the shows. The authority also spent €28,000 on restoring the stadium’s pitch.

In return, the promoter had to ensure the council was included as a partner on press materials and within press communications, among other obligations. Coimbra City Council mayor José Manuel Silva called the agreement “one of the best deals ever in this area”, which he said would “place the city on the route of major world events”.

The shows were attended by 211,000 fans overall, generating €36 million for the local economy, with each visitor spending an average of €180, concluded a study by the Instituto Superior de Contabilidade e Administração de Coimbra (ISCAC).

The Singapore Tourism Board authorised a grant for Taylor Swift to perform six nights at Singapore National Stadium in March 2024

In another high-profile case earlier this year, Singapore reportedly struck an exclusivity deal with Taylor Swift to make the island nation her only Eras tour stop in south-east Asia.

The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) authorised a grant for Swift to perform six nights at the 55,000-cap Singapore National Stadium in March 2024, allegedly on the condition she would not play any other countries in the region.

Thai PM Srettha Thavisin alleged the Singapore government offered $2 million to $3m (€1.4m to €2.1m) per show for exclusive rights, after enquiring why the tour would not be stopping in Thailand.

“[Promoter AEG] didn’t tell me the exact figure but they said the Singapore government offers subsidies of between $2m and $3m,” said Srettha. “But the Singaporean government is clever. They told [organisers] not to hold any other shows in [south-east] Asia.”

In a joint statement, the culture ministry and the STB admitted working directly with concert organisers, but declined to confirm either the amount of the grant or the existence of an exclusivity deal.

“It is likely to generate significant benefits to the Singapore economy, especially to tourism activities such as hospitality, retail, travel and dining, as has happened in other cities in which Taylor Swift has performed,” they said at the time.

 


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Coldplay reach settlement with former manager

Coldplay have reportedly reached a seven-figure settlement with former manager Dave Holmes.

Holmes, who worked with the group for more than 20 years prior to being dismissed in 2022, sued the Chris Martin-fronted band for breach of contract last year, seeking more than £10 million (€11.7m) in allegedly unpaid commission.

The group said they “vigorously disputed” the allegations and counter-sued for £14m, accusing Holmes of failing to “adequately to supervise and control” the budget for their ongoing Music of The Spheres World Tour.

They also alleged that Holmes leveraged his position as manager to secure $30 million in loans from Live Nation, which they claim could have created a conflict of interest in tour negotiations.

A spokesperson for Holmes hit back at the claims, telling MailOnline: “Accusing Dave Holmes of non-existent ethical lapses and other made-up misconduct will not deflect from the real issue at hand: Coldplay had a contract with Dave, they are refusing to honour it and they need to pay Dave what they owe him.”

“Chris and the band are happy they’ve drawn a line in the sand but it has come at a price”

According to documents filed at London’s High Court in May, obtained by The Sun, Coldplay have now agreed an undisclosed seven-figure settlement to stop private details being made public in court.

“Chris and the band are happy they’ve drawn a line in the sand but it has come at a price,” says a source, as per the Daily Mail. “The settlement cost them millions. They just want to move on.”

Coldplay are currently managed by the team of Phil Harvey, Mandi Frost and Arlene Moon. Last Saturday (29 June), the quartet headlined the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury for a record fifth time.

The Music of the Spheres Tour, which kicked off in 2022, could see Coldplay become the first band to gross $1 billion from a single tour. At last count it had earned $810.9m, having been attended by 7.66 million fans.

 


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Coldplay, Live Nation form committee for sustainability study

Coldplay, Live Nation, Warner Music Group (WMG) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have announced an advisory committee for their study of the live music industry’s carbon footprint.

The Assessment Report of Live Music and Climate Change in the US and the UK, announced in January, will suggest practical solutions to reduce the environmental impact of live music events “at every level,” from pubs and clubs to stadiums.

The next phase of the study involves the assembly of an advisory committee of over 50 music industry experts and veterans across core areas including venue management, tour management and production, artist relations, and sustainability.

Michael Rapino (president & CEO, Live Nation) Robert Kyncl, (CEO, Warner Music Group), Ellie Goulding (artist), Jessica Koravos (co-chair, president OVG) and Josh Javor (partner & co-head of WME) are among the committee members.

“As I’ve been saying for many years, we urgently need data-driven action on climate and nature breakdown in every area,” says Ellie Goulding, artist & advisory committee member. “This is the first time a study like this has taken place at this scale, including all the different parts of the industry ecosystem, from artists and promoters to management and labels and I’m really pleased to support that level of collaboration.”

Prof. John E. Fernandez, director, MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative, which is conducting the study, adds: “With the participation of the advisory committee and contributions of data from various sources, we are well on our way to producing a significant contribution to knowledge that can support meaningful actions to address climate change.”

Additional contributions will come from various organisations, NGOs and charities that work within the live music ecosystem including REVERB, Support+Feed, Julie’s Bicycle, Global Citizen and Client Earth.

“As I’ve been saying for many years, we urgently need data-driven action on climate and nature breakdown in every area”

The report, initially anticipated to be complete in July 2024, has been extended to allow for more comprehensive data collection and analysis. It is now expected to be released in the autumn of 2024. The aim remains to:

Other advisory members include Lesley Olenik (SVP, Global Touring Live Nation), Danny Rukasin (manager, Billie Eilish), Joel Eriksson (tour manager, Fred Again..), Nicole Massey, (production manager for Billie Eilish and FINNEAS), Rebecca Travis (tour manager, Florence + The Machine, Gorillaz), Lindsay Arell (chief sustainability Officer, ASM Global), Lucy August-Perna (head of sustainability, Live Nation) and more.

Earlier this year, Coldplay revealed they had beaten their target for cutting carbon emissions on their Music of the Spheres World Tour.

Highlights from the ongoing trek have included an 86% average return and re-use rate of LED wristbands, 18 shows powered entirely using the tourable battery system in 2023 made from recycled BMW i3 batteries and 23 partnerships with green travel providers to help fans travel to shows via super-low carbon transport.

In addition, 17kWh average power per show has been generated via in-venue solar installations, kinetic dance floors and power bikes – enough to power the band’s C-stage performance each night.

All shows have offered free water refill stations for fans, while over 3,000 tCO2e has been saved by purchasing Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) for flights, and 72% of all tour waste has been diverted from landfill and sent for reuse, recycling and composting, while 9,625 meals and 90kg of toiletries donated from tour catering to the unhoused and unsheltered.

 


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Glastonbury ‘going from strength to strength’

Glastonbury Festival founder Sir Michael Eavis says the UK event is “going from strength to strength” after the doors were opened for its 38th edition yesterday.

Running from 26-30 June at Worthy Farm in Pilton, Somerset, performances on its main music stages kick off tomorrow. Dua Lipa, Coldplay and SZA are this year’s Pyramid Stage headliners, with further acts including LCD Soundsystem, PJ Harvey, Little Simz, Burna Boy, Janelle Monáe, Cyndi Lauper, Michael Kiwanuka, Paul Heaton, Keane, Paloma Faith, Oliva Dean, Ayra Starr and Seventeen, who will become the first K-pop act to perform on the stage. Shania Twain will occupy the coveted Sunday teatime “legend slot”.

Speaking to the Glastonbury Free Press, Eavis, who launched the now 140,000-cap festival 54 years ago, said: “It’s all going from strength to strength… you have to see everything. Get out there and explore. I recommend going around in the middle of the night. That’s the best way to catch all the exciting things that are really going on. You need to stay up until five in the morning. Then you’ll see all sorts of incredible stuff!”

The recently knighted 88-year-old highlighted the positive weather forecast and the Arcadia stage’s new dragonfly installation as reasons for cheer, as well as the new Terminal 1 venue in Williams Green.

“It’s dealing with the issue of immigration,” he said. “They’re taking the approach that we can solve it. We can be friendly to these unfortunate people in the boats. It’s demonstrating – the whole festival is, really – that you can get on with your neighbour. And they’re putting all of that into a show.

“It’s so important that this festival stands for something,” he added. “That’s the guts of the event, really. It’s why we’ve backed the CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) since 1981.”

The Other Stage, meanwhile, will be headlined by Idles, Disclosure and The National, and will also host the likes of D-Block Europe, The Streets, Two Door Cinema Club, Anne-Marie, Camila Cabello, Avril Lavigne, Bombay Bicycle Club, Bloc Party, The Last Dinner Party, Nothing but Thieves, Confidence Man and Headie One.

“We wanted to create a space that not only showcases the incredible talent within our community but also fosters a sense of belonging”

The largest greenfield music and performing arts festival in the world, Glastonbury will also unveil its first-ever dedicated South Asian stage this year, operated by South Asian cultural organisations, Dialled In, Daytimers and Going South.

The stage, named Arrivals, will be part of the Shangri-La area and feature the likes of Anish Kumar, Baalti, Nabihah Iqbal, Gracie T, Nikki Nair, Bobby Friction and Raji Rags. Its debut follows rising calls for greater representation of British Asian music and artists.

“We wanted to create a space that not only showcases the incredible talent within our community but also fosters a sense of belonging,” said Dialled In curator Dhruva Balram.

For the first time, the BBC will globally livestream headline Glastonbury performances, with Dua Lipa (28 June) and Coldplay’s (29 June) Pyramid Stage sets available to view on the recently relaunched BBC.com. Lipa will be making Pyramid Stage bow, while Coldplay will be headlining the festival for a record fifth time, and for the first time since 2016.

The festival’s exclusive broadcast partner is providing six weeks of build-up and coverage of Glastonbury 2024, running content from 3 June to 14 July, in its longest celebration of the festival yet.

“At the BBC, we bring Glastonbury to you, and we’re incredibly proud of our coverage,” says BBC director of music Lorna Clarke. “It enables millions of people to access the magic of Emily and Michael Eavis’ festival each year. The global streams of Dua Lipa and Coldplay’s performances are another exciting addition to our offer, allowing us not only to unite music fans across the country, but across the world with the opportunity to experience these world class performances as they happen.”

Glastonbury organiser recently told the BBC’s Sidetracked podcast that the festival is likely to to take a year off in 2026 to allow the ground to recover on the Worthy Farm site. It most recently took a fallow year in 2018, although the 2020 and 2021 festivals were cancelled due to the pandemic.

 


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Coldplay beat world tour emissions target

Coldplay have revealed they have beaten their target for cutting carbon emissions on their Music of the Spheres World Tour.

The band’s tour announcement back in late 2021 came hand-in-hand with a 12-point plan for cutting their carbon footprint, including a pledge to reduce their direct carbon emissions from show production, freight, band and crew travel by at least 50% compared with their previous A Head Full of Dreams stadium tour.

In their last update in June 2023, the group said the tour had produced 47% less CO2e emissions than their 2016/17 trek. Twelve months on, they have improved on those figures significantly.

“We’re happy to report that direct CO2e emissions from the first two years of this tour are 59% less than our previous stadium tour, on a show-by-show comparison,” say Coldplay in a statement. “These figures have been verified by the MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative.

“We’d like to say a huge thank you to our incredible touring family and to all the brilliant people who’ve made this possible. Most of all, we’d like to thank everyone who’s come to a show and helped charge the show batteries on the power bikes and kinetic dance floors; everyone who’s arrived by foot, bike, ride share or public transport; everyone who’s come with refillable water bottles or returned their LED wristband for recycling; and everyone who’s bought a ticket, which means you’ve planted one of seven million trees so far.

“As a band, and as an industry, we’re a long way from where we need to be on this. But we’re grateful for everyone’s help so far, and we salute everyone who’s making efforts to push things in the right direction.”

A comprehensive study of the live music industry’s carbon footprint is being conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), co-funded by Coldplay, Live Nation and Warner Music Group (WMG).

Coldplay also launched a free app for fans as part of their pledge to make the tour as eco-friendly as possible. Highlights from the ongoing trek have included an 86% average return and re-use rate of LED wristbands, 18 shows powered entirely using the tourable battery system in 2023 made from recycled BMW i3 batteries and 23 partnerships with green travel providers to help fans travel to shows via super-low carbon transport.

“This latest analysis of Coldplay’s impact on the environment from touring is again setting a new standard for the entire music industry”

In addition, 17kWh average power per show has been generated via in-venue solar installations, kinetic dance floors and power bikes – enough to power the band’s C-stage performance each night.

All shows have offered free water refill stations for fans, while over 3,000 tCO2e has been saved by purchasing Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) for flights, and 72% of all tour waste has been diverted from landfill and sent for reuse, recycling and composting, while 9,625 meals and 90kg of toiletries donated from tour catering to the unhoused and unsheltered.

“For some time now, Coldplay has been leading by example in taking seriously and acting on the various interrelated environmental and social challenges facing humanity; climate change, biodiversity loss, air and water pollution, environmental injustice and more,” says Prof. John E. Fernández of MIT.

“With each subsequent year of their tour they demonstrate an evolving vision and expanded commitment to move the entire music industry toward true and humane sustainability and planetary resilience. From collecting unprecedented amounts of data to taking specific actions today based on rigorous analysis, Coldplay is modelling a trajectory toward a low carbon, biodiverse and equitable future.

“This latest analysis of Coldplay’s impact on the environment from touring is again setting a new standard for the entire music industry. The data and the methods of analysis support the conclusion that substantial progress has been made to reduce emissions in touring.”

The Music of the Spheres Tour could see Coldplay become the first band to gross $1 billion from a single tour. At last count it had earned $810.9m, having been attended by 7.66 million fans. This June, the group will become the first act to headline Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stage five times. They previously topped the bill in 2002, 2005, 2011 and 2016. The date will mark the band’s only European festival appearance of the year.

 


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Coldplay to premiere Buenos Aires concert on Veeps

Coldplay’s Music of the Spheres: Live at River Plate concert film is to have its streaming premiere on Live Nation’s Veeps platform.

Filmed during the band’s sold out, 10-night run at Buenos Aires’ River Plate stadium, the 70,000-cap show in Argentina on 28 October 2022 was screened in thousands of cinemas across more than 80 countries, marking the first ever live worldwide cinema broadcast of a concert from Latin America.

According to Boxoffice Pro, the original broadcast grossed more than $8.4 million at the box office, charting at No.1 in Argentina, Chile, Mexico and the Netherlands.

Coldplay’s 10-night sellout run at the stadium set a new national record, which previously belonged to Roger Waters, who played nine shows at the legendary “Monumental” venue in March 2012 during his The Wall Live tour.

Launched in 2018 by Good Charlotte’s Joel and Benji Madden, Veeps has streamed performances to millions of viewers worldwide for thousands of artists

Veeps will air the film on Saturday 11 May at 12pm PT/8pm BST. The production, which features remixed and remastered sound and visuals captured by BAFTA-winning director Paul Dugdale using 30 cameras, racing drones and 360° filming techniques, will be free to view as a live airing and available on-demand for audiences to rent after the live broadcast for $3.99.

Launched in 2018 by Good Charlotte’s Joel and Benji Madden, Veeps has streamed performances to millions of viewers worldwide for thousands of artists including Billie Eilish, Bob Dylan, Brandi Carlile, Chris Stapleton, Foo Fighters and Kings of Leon. Live Nation acquired a majority stake in the service in 2021.

The Music of the Spheres trek could see Coldplay become the first band to gross $1 billion from a single tour. At last count it had earned $810.9m, having been attended by 7.66 million fans. This June, the group will become the first act to headline Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stage five times. They previously topped the bill in 2002, 2005, 2011 and 2016. The date will mark the band’s only European festival appearance of the year.

 


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Coldplay set to become first band to net $1bn tour

Coldplay’s globe-trotting Music of the Spheres run could see them become the first band to gross $1 billion from a single tour.

The group topped Pollstar‘s Worldwide Top 100 Artists chart for Q1 2024, earning $100.5 million from 13 concerts, including six nights at Singapore National Stadium. The top 3 also consisted of U2, whose Las Vegas Sphere residency garnered $95.2m, and Madonna’s The Celebration Tour, which grossed $86.2m.

The Music of the Spheres World Tour, which was the fourth highest-grossing trek of 2023, kicked off in Costa Rica in March 2022 and has an average gross of $6.1m, with 43 stadium dates remaining.

At last count it had earned $810.9m, having been attended by 7.66 million fans.

“It’s no surprise to me that Coldplay has become one of the most successful touring acts of all time”

“It’s no surprise to me that Coldplay has become one of the most successful touring acts of all time,” the band’s international agent Josh Javor of WME tells Pollstar. “The band has been setting trends and pushing the boundaries of how fans experience a concert for years. This show has a great value for the ticket price and is one that attendees truly never forget – the amount of pure entertainment that the band packs into one show is unparalleled!”

Should they surpass the billion-dollar mark, Coldplay would follow in the footsteps of Taylor Swift, whose Eras Tour officially become the first tour in history to surpass $1 billion in revenue last December.

This June, Coldplay will become the first act to headline Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stage five times. They previously topped the bill in 2002, 2005, 2011 and 2016. The date will mark the band’s only European festival appearance of the year. Revisit IQ’s Music of the Spheres Tour feature here.

According to Pollstar data, the total of the Top 100 Tours in the first quarter of 2024 was up 35% year-over-year to $1.252bn – passing the billion-dollar mark for the first time in a Q1.

 


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Women on the Road

If you want to get a sense of representation on the road, award nominations are one place to look. As many of the interviewees for this feature excitedly pointed out, women dominate certain categories on the shortlist for this year’s TPI Awards. For the Tour Manager of the Year Award, five out of six nominees are women.

“That’s pretty huge,” says nominee Rebecca Travis, who has been tour manager for artists including James Blake, Gorillaz, Ellie Goulding, Florence and the Machine, and Arcade Fire.“I’ve been getting nominated for that kind of award quite a few times, and it’s generally one or two women in that category,” she adds.

Marguerite Nguyen, longtime tour manager for Coldplay, and another one of the five female nominees, says the tour manager shortlist reflects a growing trend. “Tour managers are increasingly female,” she tells IQ from her home in Chicago. “I think women are better at this role, just like I think men are better at other roles on the road. My theory is that women are better multitaskers than men. Plus, there’s probably a little bit of motherly care to how we operate.”

Travis attests: “I do believe that women have perhaps a more caring, nurturing, motherly sort of way with them, and they might be more thoughtful about things like eating and health and mental wellbeing.”

While female representation among tour managers is strong, unfortunately, it’s not reflective of gender balance in the wider production industry – especially when it comes to technical departments.

“It’s always been the ‘merch girl’ or the ‘sound guy'”

“The highest representation I’ve seen is ten women on a crew of 50 people,” says Laura Nagtegaal, a guitar technician and tour manager who has been working in the industry for 30 years. “And when it comes to the backline, I’m a unicorn.”

Travis, whose industry career has spanned 25 years, has also noticed a gender divide when it comes to different touring disciplines: “Wardrobe, catering, management, assistant roles, are female-dominated, and accountants, and tour managers are well-represernted, but I struggle to think of many female production managers.”

On the other side of the production industry is Ginger Owl, a female-led company dealing in event management, accreditation, logistics, and advancing. “We advance lots of festivals and still, primarily, our main contacts are men – especially the technical and production roles,” says Julie Chennells. “You can count on one hand the ladies you see in the lighting industry, for example. We tend to see them more in logistics and sectors like in accreditation.

“I wouldn’t like to comment whether it’s society pushing women that way or if it’s because they don’t have the opportunities or if it’s indeed because they’re just not that interested in that side. It’s a very difficult question and debate. But if you look at the touring industry, it’s a microcosm of the world.”

Nagtegaal points out, gender inequality across roles has long been ingrained in ways we might not even realise: “It’s always been the ‘merch girl’ or the ‘sound guy.’”

“There are more women than I had ever witnessed on any other tour”

In a league of their own
It may not come as a surprise that one of the acts setting the bar for diversity among touring crews is Coldplay, a band that has been industry-leading in more ways than one.

Marguerite Nguyen started touring with the British icons in 2008 on the Viva La Vida tour as the production coordinator, before getting promoted to tour manager for Mylo Xyloto.

“I remember one day, we were walking the band offstage, and I saw a sea of women surrounding the band as they were walking back to the dressing room,” she recalls of her early days with the band. “There are more women than I had ever witnessed on any other tour – and it’s by no means a requirement of employment,” she says.

Coldplay’s team comprises more than 40 women and, what’s more notable than that, is the roles they take up on the crew: from head carpenter to Chris Martin’s personal security officer.

Travis, who was recently drafted into the Coldplay crew by Nguyen, says Coldplay are peerless when it comes to the gender balance of crew. “There are women everywhere on that team,” she says. “The technical departments are really well represented but that’s because the band make a real conscious effort to do that. They have programmes and apprenticeships, and it’s great because the band is huge, and they have the budget. But I think genuinely it just stems from the fact that the band wants to work with women.”

“There are women everywhere on [the Coldplay] team”

But as Travis knows from previous experiences, some artists are willing to hire more women in their crew but are not able to do so for a range of reasons, including the shortage of staff post-Covid.

“If you were only recruiting two or three new crew, ideally you would like to be diverse but really you’re just trying to get the very best people,” says Travis. “And actually, after Covid, sometimes you’re sometimes just trying to get people [full stop].”

Like any industry, hiring practices are crucial to end up with a diverse workforce. So who are the people in charge of staffing a tour?

“Tours are mostly staffed when you come onto them,” explains Travis. “If you’ve got a tour manager and a production manager and you’ve been touring a while, they’ll have people they’ve been working with for years.”

Although Nguyen hired Travis, she tells IQ that she rarely has a hand in recruitment, but when she does, “I try to choose the person who has the best skill set for that position.”

Travis, if in the position to staff a tour, would also hire based on merit: “There is definitely a sisterhood, but I wouldn’t hire a woman over a man unless they were as or better qualified.”

“We probably attract women because we are female directors”

Ginger Owl’s Julie Chennells and Nancy Skipper are two women who are in the position to hire and, incidentally, have a female-dominated team. “The management team is all female. We’ve got ten full-time staff and only three of them are male. This is not through choice but through choosing the people who are right to do the job,” says Skipper.

However, she admits that being a female-led company is a draw for female candidates hoping to work in the industry –underlining the importance of visibility and representation.

“We probably attract women because we are female directors. Quite often we read that in emails – that’s something that’s drawn them to apply.”

But if, as these women say, hiring in the industry is a meritocracy, it begs the question why women aren’t represented across the board. Is it because they’re underqualified or is it because they’re not applying for certain positions in the first place – perhaps because they can’t see other women in certain positions?

“The music industry is the only industry that hasn’t been affected by the MeToo movement”

An unfair fight
The thing with meritocracy is that it only works if the playing field is even to start with and, as these women tell IQ, sexism and misogyny are alive and well in the industry. “I don’t know any woman that hasn’t encountered sexism and misogyny. No matter how big or how small or how innocent or how extreme,” says Nguyen.

“The music industry is the only industry that hasn’t been affected by the MeToo movement,” she adds. A recent survey by Women In Live Music (WILM) found that 41% feel that they don’t belong to the music industry because they are women. Respondents comprised 187 women from 26 different countries.

Laura Nagtegaal, who is a transgender woman, has a unique perspective on sexism in the industry, having presented as a man for the first chunk of her career before transitioning. “[Before transitioning] I would typically work ten to 20 events a month, and it doesn’t happen anymore,” she says. “If I ever had a situation where I reached the end of my money before the end of the month, all I would need to do is ask anyone in the industry and before I could even finish the sentence, I would have multiple job offers.”

“It makes me think what if I [was never] good but because I presented as a bloke, I was just one of the guys, and guys can’t fail to [get to] the top.”

“It’s common knowledge in every industry that women always get paid less than men”

Even the women that do manage to progress through the industry’s meritocracy are still not getting the same rewards or recognition as their male counterparts.

“It’s common knowledge in every industry that women always get paid less than men,” says Nguyen.“It’s a very touchy subject with women, but I think that we should not be scared to talk about salaries and money. We should be asking each other ‘Hey, what did you get on this tour? Or ‘What should I ask for?’ Or ‘I really think I deserve a raise.’ I definitely don’t think men are having those kinds of conversations.”

Nobody puts baby in a corner
Another possible reason for the lack of female representation within touring crews, especially in some of the leading positions, is the difficulty of having children and maintaining a career on the road.

WILM, a European platform and online community for women in live music with more than 7,000 users, has long been investigating the impact – perceived and proven – of motherhood on women’s careers.

“We noticed over the years that women on-stage and offstage would hide their pregnancy if they were expecting, out of fear of losing jobs,” says WILM co-founder Malle Kaas.

“I think most people give up the industry if they have kids”

“We heard many women saying they would postpone having children as they couldn’t see themselves having kids and keep working in the live music industry.”

Nguyen can testify to this: “I have always wanted to have children. When I was 36, I froze my eggs as an insurance policy for my future because I just didn’t know what was going to happen.

“If I choose to have a baby, I can’t do my job. It’s just a fact, and it sucks. And I know that I’m not done doing what I’m doing. I know women who are on the road who have children, and it’s super difficult. I think women instinctively have a guilt of being away.”

“I wish there was a better system for all women in every spectrum of the world and their careers. For women on the road, particularly, it is more difficult.”

Travis says this is true for women in the tour manager roles because of the nature of the job. “Sometimes people ask me if I’ve got kids and I say, ‘When would that have happened? Where are they when I’m out here?’” she laughs. “A tour management job is all-encompassing. If you were a monitor engineer or a lighting operator, and you had a partner with a job that would allow them to look after the child, you could go away for a week or two, but as a tour manager, there’s no way you could do that. I think most people give up the industry if they have kids.”

“I felt like I couldn’t be seen to be incapable because I was pregnant otherwise, people would stop giving me work”

Chennells, who has children of her own, adds: “I do think it’s another reason that [this industry] could be more off-putting to someone.”

The Ginger Owl boss remembers the pressure she felt to plough on with her work both before and after she gave birth, due to a lack of infrastructure for pregnant women – especially those that are freelance.

“I worked as a promoter rep until I was around eight months pregnant,” she says. “I felt like I couldn’t be seen to be incapable because I was pregnant otherwise, people would stop giving me work. You feel like you have to plough on to not be out of the circuit.”

Chennells returned to her first event when her daughter was two and a half months old: “I’d still been breastfeeding her and stuff, and I remember having to express in a PolyJohn [toilet] because there was just no other way. That’s just how it was, there are no provisions for stuff like that.”

By the same token
In other industries, those in charge of hiring have deployed positive discrimination when it comes to hiring, as a means to diversify the workforce, but the live music industry has mixed opinions.

“There are positive and negative sides to [positive discrimination],” says Laura Nagtegaal. “For instance, one band likes to book me because I’m Polish.”

But as she points out, there’s a difference between positive discrimination and tokenism. “One band, as I found out later, received an extra subsidy from the government for hiring a transgender person,” she says. “So that felt so much worse than tokenism, that felt like being used. Tokenism makes you second guess yourself – it creates imposter syndrome.”

“People see me on stage and they’re like, ‘Oh my god, I can do this, too.'”

Imposter syndrome seems to be prevalent among women in the industry – possibly for that reason. In the aforementioned WILM survey, 44% of respondents said that, in general, they feel less confident than their male colleagues.

But Nagtegaal points out that despite the intention when it comes to hiring women, the result is often positive. “By hiring me, the numbers actually go up, there’s more representation,” she says. “People see me on stage and they’re like, ‘Oh my god, I can do this, too.’ People literally come up to me after the show and say, ‘I didn’t know women could do this.’”

Travis says that being part of a minority has proved to be an advantage when it comes to getting hired for a job: “There’s less of you, therefore you stand out more.”

On the flip side, Chennells argues: “I do think it can be quite intimidating still to go into a very male-orientated sector like the audio or the lighting crew.”

Levelling the playing field
When WILM launched seven years ago to increase the representation of women backstage, the co-founders hoped it wouldn’t be needed for more than six months.

“We were so wrong!” says Kaas. “The need for WILM gets bigger every year, and we are looking at six to seven more years of work as we try to keep up with the huge demand for our community.”

“I just want women to have the same opportunities as men”

In an industry that continues to be dominated by men, there are many improvements to be made for women – from equal pay to better support for mothers – but the women are keen to point out that there are some fundamental issues that needs to be addressed first.

“One thing is to introduce and recruit women to the industry, another thing is to retain them,” says Kaas. “It takes about three to five years of training to get a competent person who can do the gig. But the majority of women dropout of the industry after three to four years for whatever reason. If we don’t find solutions to retain the women in the industry, we’ll keep on losing them and not really getting anywhere.”

Put simply by Nguyen: “I just want women to have the same opportunities as men. It would be nice to have an even playing field for everybody, no matter how you identify.”

 


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Coldplay, Live Nation and more co-sign on sustainability study

A comprehensive study of the live music industry’s carbon footprint will be conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and co-funded by Coldplay, Live Nation and Warner Music Group (WMG).

The report will suggest practical solutions to reduce the environmental impact of live music events “at every level,” from pubs and clubs to stadiums.

The partnership will kick off with an initial research phase focused on the UK and the US which will be presented as an Assessment Report of Live Music and Climate Change, anticipated to be completed in July 2024.

The report will aim to develop a comprehensive assessment of the relationship between live music and climate change, identify key areas where the industry and concertgoers can make tangible improvements to reduce emissions and provide a detailed analysis of the latest developments in green technology and sustainable practices.

MIT’s Environmental Solutions Initiative (MIT ESI), a leading climate and environmental academic research and solutions group, will recommend scientifically informed actions and policies that can be replicated across the live music industry to reduce its environmental footprint and establish a sustainable future for live events.

“I applaud the spirit of openness and collaboration that will allow us to identify specific challenges”

MIT Prof. John E. Fernandez, director of the ESI, says: “I’m delighted that we will be working with our partners to co-create recommendations for a sustainable future in music. As well as jointly funding the research, I applaud the spirit of openness and collaboration that will allow us to identify specific challenges in areas such as live event production, freight and audience travel, and recommend solutions that can be implemented across the entire industry to address climate change.”

Coldplay launched their current Music Of The Spheres world tour with a pledge to cut emissions by 50%. In June last year, the group issued an update on the tour’s sustainability initiatives, revealing that, on a show-by-show comparison, it has so far produced 47% less CO2e emissions than their previous A Head Full of Dreams stadium tour in 2016/17.

More than seven million trees have already been planted around the world, with one being planted for each concert-goer.

In 2022, Live Nation partnered with Coldplay and major public transportation providers to offer fans free or discounted rides to incentivise and encourage green travel. The initiative supported a 59% average increase in public transport ridership on show days across four US cities.

“We’re proud to share best practices and solutions developed by Green Nation in this report,” says Lucy August-Perna, director of global sustainability, Live Nation. “Helping accelerate sustainable practices benefits everyone who enjoys live music, while ensuring a strong future for the industry. We look forward to sharing the report with industry partners and fans alike.”

Interested in the intersection of sustainability and live events? Don’t miss out on the 16th edition of the Green Events and Innovations conference. For more information, click here.

 


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Hot tickets: Ten blockbuster tours for 2024

Dominated by Taylor Swift’s record-shattering Eras Tour, 2023 was an unprecedented year for the concert industry, with business up double-digit percentages in virtually every metric.

Total grosses for the Top 100 Worldwide Tours were up 46% to a $9.17bn (2022’s total was $6.28bn), according to Pollstar’s year-end charts, while attendance was up 18.38% in total tickets sold to 70.1 million (2022: 59.2m).

But 2024 could prove to be bigger still. Here, IQ runs through ten of the blockbuster outings planned for the next 12 months…

 


TAYLOR SWIFT
Eras has already been crowned as the first tour in history to surpass $1 billion in revenue, but is projected to take its total to more than $2bn by the end of this year. The run resumes in Asia next month in Tokyo, Japan and lands in Europe in May, when highlights will include a sold-out eight-night stand at London’s Wembley Stadium, before returning to North America in the autumn. 

Territories: Asia/Australia, Europe, North America

Dates: February-December

 


COLDPLAY
More than nine million tickets have been sold for the Music of the Spheres tour, which began in March 2022, according to Live Nation. Coldplay recently confirmed an additional run of Australia and New Zealand dates for October-November 2024, which will see the band perform in Sydney, Melbourne and Auckland for the first time since 2016.

Territories: Asia, Europe, Australia/New Zealand

Dates: January-November

 


ED SHEERAN
Sheeran’s + – = ÷ x (Mathematics) Tour was the seventh highest-grossing concert run of 2023 according to Pollstar, generating US$268,017,633 from 54 stadium shows in Australia & New Zealand and the US and Canada. His upcoming itinerary includes stops as far afield as Bahrain, the UAE, Taiwan, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and India, along with a slate of festival dates.

Territories: Asia, Europe

Dates: January-September

 


BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN AND THE E STREET BAND
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band sold more than 1.6 million tickets for their 2023 European jaunt, and are coming back for more this summer for a run of stadium concerts sandwiched between two tour legs in North America. The tour includes a number of US dates rescheduled from 2023 while Springsteen recovered from peptic ulcer disease.

Territories: North America, Europe

Dates: March-November

 


P!NK
P!nk further extended her Summer Carnival Tour late last year after shifting more than three million tickets for the stadium run so far. The ANZ leg, which kicks off in February, is already the country’s biggest-selling run ever by a female artist.

Territories: Australia/New Zealand, Europe, North America

Dates: February-November

 


FOO FIGHTERS
The Foos begin the year by wrapping up their Australian and New Zealand shows later this month. A European stadium run will follow in June alongside some high-profile festival headline spots, before a US and Canada trek later in the summer.

Territories: Australia, Europe, North America

Dates: January, June-August

 


GREEN DAY
Green Day are marking the anniversaries of their seminal American Idiot and Dookie albums by heading out on a global stadium tour. The Saviors Tour comprises more than 30 dates in North America and Europe, including festivals such as Rock im Park/Rock am Ring (Germany), I Days (Italy) and Isle of Wight (UK).

Territories: Europe, North America

Dates: May-September

 


DRAKE
The multi Grammy Award-winning Canadian will be joined by rapper J. Cole across many of the dates on his It’s All A Blur Tour – Big As The What? Tour. While the arena run is currently limited to the US, Drake has teased adding a European leg.

Territories: North America

Dates: January-March

 


BAD BUNNY
The Puerto Rican’s 2022 World’s Hottest Tour lived up to his name as Bad Bunny became the highest-grossing touring artist in a calendar year up to that point. The 29-year-old streaming sensation returns to the road next month for 47 arena dates across 31 cities throughout North America.

Territories: North America

Dates: February-May

 


KAROL G

Reggaeton superstar Karol G will make her long-awaited European tour debut this summer. The Colombian singer-songwriter will bring Mañana Será Bonito (Tomorrow Will Be Nice) to arenas and stadiums across the continent after completing a 27-date trek across 14 cities in Latin America.

Territories: North America, Latin America, Europe

Dates: February-July

 


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