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LIVE CEO Jon Collins on next steps for key issues

Jon Collins, the recently appointed CEO of live music industry umbrella group LIVE, has spoken to IQ about sustainability, diversity, consumer confidence and the spiking crisis, in the second instalment of a two-part interview.

In the first part of the interview, published last week, Collins discussed his approach to tackling VAT reduction, government engagement, post-Brexit touring and the cost of living crisis.

Here, the CEO sets out the remainder of his key priorities and his plan of action for each, going forward.

“We’re out of the habit of going out and we need to find ways to get people back out”

Consumer confidence
We’re post-Covid restrictions but still dealing with the impact they’ve had on customers’ confidence to go out to gigs. We’re just finalising some consumer research which found that 14% are reticent. And there is still that tranche of people who did go to gigs beforehand and are saying they’re not quite there in terms of being comfortable to go out. The average person is holding 2.3 tickets from events that have been rolled over so they’re waiting to go to those events before buying something else  – in some cases because they don’t have as much disposable income.

You’ve got 55% whose attitude towards attending gigs, in general, has changed – with 20% of those saying they’re going to fewer events overall. Not having as much energy to go out and not thinking about going out counts for 15% each, and 13% say travelling to events now feels like a lot of effort. We’re out of the habit of going out and we need to find ways to get people back out.

One thing we would like the government to do is to encourage people to come out. I think it’s Spain where they gave people a couple of 100 euros to go and spend in their local economy. That drives activity, which drives tax take, so there’s demonstrable value there. But beyond that, we also think there could be a positive communications campaign, a bit like Let’s Do London. We’re world-class at live music, so let’s bang the drum about it.

“We’re looking to do is build out a Green Information Hub which will have the information there in an understandable way”

Live Green chair John Langford has done a brilliant job of corralling everybody around that net zero by 2030 commitment. There’s a whole workstream that flows out of that about how can LIVE support the organisations on our board to then support their members to be able to hit that target – which is not that far away.

There are lots of passionate, informed expert actors in this space – such as Earthpercent, Julie’s Bicycle, Music Declares Emergency etc – and we’re not going to claim to have the same level of knowledge and understanding – but what we do have is an ability to broadcast to the live music industry in an effective way through our structures. So what we’re looking to do is build out a Green Information Hub which will have the information there in an understandable way, sometimes drawn from our own auspices but often we will just be signposting to those brilliant organisations.

I feel very encouraged by how serious LIVE, and the organisations within LIVE, are taking this issue and also by the practical steps that they are taking to really reshape how the industry operates for things like green riders – which is an addendum to an artist’s contract. We’re looking at putting something around sustainability into the contract itself because once both parties have signed that, there’s no wiggle room.

“There’s a risk that diversity, equity and inclusion become a talking shop… we’re pivoting to focus on actions”

There’s a risk that diversity, equity and inclusion become a talking shop. It’s so broad that you can be paralysed. We’re pivoting away from talking about the issues to focusing on actions. The first step is looking at how we diversify the entrance into our industry. We know that there’s huge vacancy across all parts of live music, across broader hospitality, so actually, there’s sound commercial and economic logic to asking: are you looking at the most diverse talent pool possible? By doing that we foster a more diverse, inclusive workforce. You have to supplement that with action taken for people mid-career too and action taken for people who have stepped away from the industry but want to come back. So as ever, these things are multi-dimensional.

Drink spiking
We’re doing an immediate piece of work right now with the home office around spiking and tackling that threat within the wider context of delivering safe spaces. It’s such an opaque issue and the evidence base is very difficult to get to. Some people say it’s being underreported and other parties say it’s been overreported. What we care about ultimately, is the safety of our customers. So what we want is to make sure is that we tackle spiking in a way that doesn’t suck resources away from spotting vulnerable people in other circumstances.


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