Spend, no-shows and demand all up in UK, say promoters
Leading promoters in the UK live industry say they’re experiencing mixed fortunes following the full reopening in England on 19 July.
As the sector launches into recovery mode, executives are reporting high levels of pent-up demand for many shows.
Denis Desmond, chairman of Live Nation UK and Ireland, says: “Artists, promoters, production and marketing teams are champing at the bit and ready to meet the demands.
“Thankfully our festivals happened, and we were very pleased with sales which proves that the demand for live music is still going strong. Now we’re moving into touring season and we have a busy schedule lined up for the rest of the year and into 2022.”
As the live sector prepares for what looks to be its busiest year ever from 1 January, promoters say the UK’s next challenge will be keeping up with demand given that much of the supply chain has yet to recover.
“We’ve got 18 months of touring coming up across the UK and all of the suppliers are going to be hugely stretched,” says Richard Buck, CEO of TEG MJR, the UK subsidiary of Sydney-based live entertainment and ticketing firm TEG.
“Artists, promoters, production and marketing teams are champing at the bit and ready to meet the demands”
Desmond agrees, adding: “Going forward there are still challenges including issues with the supply chain and many talented specialists have been forced to leave the sector, plus there remain complexities for touring in Europe post-Brexit.”
And as an autumn period of touring kicks off, the ongoing spectre of Covid-19 is a continued source of uncertainty for promoters who say the rate of no-shows at concerts is far higher than usual.
Buck reports “anywhere up to 50% no-shows, especially on postponed shows. It’s a little less if the show is taking place closer to the time when it was announced but at sell-out shows, there has been significant no-attendance”.
Buck believes the no-shows are down to an “amalgamation of low confidence, forgotten tickets and isolating” and predicts three to six months for the levels of attendance to go back to what they were pre-pandemic.
UK-based promoter and venue operator DHP Family is also experiencing high rates of no-shows and says it’s increasingly hard to predict attendance post-Freedom Day.
“[Attendance] varies by artist and how many times the show has been rescheduled etc,” says DHP’s director of live, Anton Lockwood.
“[There has been] anywhere up to 50% no-shows, especially on postponed shows”
“We’ve seen 20–30% on bigger shows. Typically smaller shows are less predictable; it can be 100% attendance or, if it’s the kind of show where the artist has been relying on their friends and family to turn up, it can be up to 75%. It’s all over the place.”
While refund requests are reportedly very low, most events are currently offering a refund to ticket holders who can’t attend due to a Covid-related illness on a discretionary basis.
“If it’s a rescheduled show, you’re entitled to a refund, the end,” says DHP’s Lockwood. “But there’s a debate about if you’ve got Covid, whether you’re entitled to a refund or we should just give a refund out of kindness.”
Fortunately, DHP has also not seen huge numbers of refund requests so far: “It’s not caused a problem but it is a worry because if you settle the show with the artist and then some of the refunds come in, you’ve got a problem.”
Buck says TEG MJR is being “lenient” when it comes to refunds but they are dealing with it on a case-by-case basis.
“We’re being a lot more liberal with refunds because we want people to buy in confidence when the market opens which is a slight double-edged sword,” he explains.
“2022 and 2023 sales have been disproportionately strong… probably 20-25% up on forecast”
“Previously, if you had a sold-out show it was sold out. Now, it’s a lot more difficult to settle on the other side because you’ve got refunds post-event,” Buck concludes.
But while Covid continues to cause operational complexities, Buck says the increase in spend-per-head at concerts is “dramatically up” versus pre-Covid and ticket sales for new shows have soared.
“2022 and 2023 sales have been disproportionately strong,” he says, “Probably 20-25% up on forecast.”
And with the threat of last-minute venue closures due to staff being ‘pinged’ (told to self-isolate by the NHS app) or contracting the disease, alongside similar worries with touring parties, many say recovery feels like a gradual process.
“We don’t know whether the shows are going to happen or not, whether the artist is going to be able to travel or they end up catching Covid,” says Lockwood.
“People assume it is all back to normal but everything is just much harder. It’s great to be back, don’t get me wrong, but the uncertainties have ramped up.”
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The New Bosses 2021: Dan Roberts, Live Nation
The New Bosses 2021 – the latest edition of IQ’s annual celebration of the brightest young talent in the live business today, as voted for by their peers – was published in IQ 103 this month, revealing the 12 promising promoters, bookers, agents, entrepreneurs that make up this year’s list.
To get to know this year’s cohort a little better, IQ conducted interviews with each one of 2021’s New Bosses, discovering their greatest inspirations and pinpointing the reasons for their success.
Catch up on the previous 2021 New Bosses interview with Flo Noseda-Littler, agency assistant at Paradigm in the UK here.
Dan Roberts was born in Boston, Massachusetts, but brought up in Nottinghamshire in the UK. His introduction to live music began, aged 16, when Liars Club [in Manchester] owner Ricky Haley paid him to put up posters. From there Roberts moved to Leeds to study biology, while local entrepreneur Ash Kollakowski taught him how to rep shows and book local supports.
When he completed his studies, he found a job at DHP, where he learned to be a national promoter, and five years later he moved to Metropolis Music and the Live Nation family.
You studied biology – are there any parallels at all with your work, or did any of the disciplines learned at university help you?
Communicating concisely in writing and applying a functional, transactional mindset to the processes that go into building a show. You can’t teach taste though.
Having a US passport can be very useful in this business – have you been able to take advantage of that for your work, as yet?
I once went to the Hamptons with Matt Bates, which was very nice. Aside from that and a trip to NYC to see Partisan Records and Cigarettes After Sex team, I look forward to building my US network further as we return to full business.
You started working on shows while you were a student: do you have a mentor or anyone you turn to for advice?
Ricky Haley, Dan McEvoy, Ash Kollakowski, Dan Ealam, George Akins, Anton Lockwood, Raye Cosbert, Will Marshall, Bob Angus, Denis Desmond, Melvin Benn… What Denis, Raye and Bob can communicate with ten words would take most people a hundred.
Learning how to rep shows and book local support acts in Nottingham has obviously served you well. Does that experience help when it comes to choosing who to work with in cities around the UK?
A good network of reps is useful. As an industry, we’ve lost a lot of freelancers on the production side over this period which is a travesty.
“Taking acts from 200-cap rooms to Brixton Academy is incredibly rewarding”
What has been the highlight of your career, so far?
Taking acts from 200-cap rooms to Brixton Academy is incredibly rewarding. Show-wise it would have to be The Strokes at the Roundhouse in February 2020, which I worked on with Bob. Implementing 100% digital ticketing with Ticketmaster was an operational win.
The pandemic has been hard on us all – are there any positive aspects that you are taking out of it?
This time has given me a chance to get closer to the teams at Metropolis, Live Nation, Festival Republic and Ticketmaster.
What are you most looking forward to as restrictions lift?
Fontaines D.C. playing A Lucid Dream to 10,250 people at Ally Pally. More specifically, the bit at the start where Grian goes “shew”. That on a big L-Acoustics or d&b rig at about 103db, with their wonderful team around me at FOH, that would be nice.
What’s the biggest challenge for you and your colleagues now that the business is emerging from lockdown restrictions?
Everyone is coming back to shows from different places and from different experiences during lockdown, so empathy is a must. Our communal mental health is very important as we return.
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FKP Scorpio UK poaches DHP’s Ealam and O’Neill
FKP Scorpio has hired veteran concert promoters Daniel Ealam and Scott O’Neill to head up and grow its nascent UK touring business.
The hiring of Ealam and O’Neill marks a renewed focus for Hamburg-headquartered FKP on its British operation, FKP Scorpio UK Ltd, which originally soft-launched in 2018. The pair will team up with FKP Scorpio CEO Folkert Koopmans to “actively promote and build the UK arm of the business”, according to the company.
Both promoters join FKP Scorpio from DHP Family, the independent Nottingham-based concert, venue and festival outfit. Ealam had been at DHP since 2002, rising to become director of live in 2016, while O’Neill, who joined in 2010, was formerly senior promoter.
Both have promoted thousands of shows across the UK, from 80 to 80,000 capacity, notes FKP, and sold millions of tickets. Highlights for the pair include 18 stadia since 2015 and outdoor events at Cardiff Castle, Leeds Roundhay Park, Ipswich Chantry Park and Bristol Filton Airfield, with acts including Ed Sheeran, Massive Attack, Catfish and the Bottlemen, Adele, Mumford and Sons, Brian Wilson, Anne-Marie and the War on Drugs.
“We are so excited to build FKP Scorpio in the UK,” say the pair in a joint statement. “We have long admired the company’s ethos and ethics and truly believe that it is a force for good within the industry and expanding at a time when we need strong promoters with good values working across Europe.
“Folkert shares our vision for the business, and we have big plans to make this a huge success”
“Folkert shares our vision for the business and we have big plans to make this a huge success and support our artists, agents and managers and give fans the ultimate live experiences.”
Joining Ealam, O’Neill and Koopmans on the FKP Scorpio UK board are Barry Campbell and James Cassidy, the driving forces behind FKP UK’s Blue Planet II and Planet Earth II shows, which have been touring arenas in the UK and continental Europe since.
In addition to the UK and Germany, majority CTS Eventim-owned FKP Scorpio has offices in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Poland, Netherlands, Austria, Finland and, most recently, Belgium. The company is one of the biggest concert and festival promoters in continental Europe, with its flagship festivals, Hurricane and Southside, the fifth and sixth highest-grossing in the world, respectively.
“We are very much looking forward to working with Daniel and Scott, who have built up an excellent reputation and have excellent contacts,” says Koopmans. “We are convinced that with their support we will be able to significantly expand FKP Scorpio’s activities in the UK.”
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Indie promoters talk challenges, post-corona recovery
The latest IQ Focus virtual panel, The State of Independence: Promoters, checked in with independent concert promoters in the UK, Europe, India and South America to discover how these entrepreneurs are preparing for the live industry’s return to normality.
Hosted by agent Emma Banks (CAA), yesterday’s session welcomed British promoters Anton Lockwood (DHP Family) and David Messer (DMP), Munbir Chawla from India’s The Wild City, Melanie Eselevsky from Argentina’s Move Concerts and Karsten Jahnke Konzertdirektion’s Roman Pitone to discuss the current difficulties unique to their sector, as well as the opportunities and challenges of a post-Covid-19 world .
Speaking about emerging concert formats such as drive-in shows, Pitone said Karsten Jahnke has done a number of drive-in events in Germany over the past few months. “Overall, they went well,” he said, but enthusiasm has declined over time as fans increasingly miss ‘real’ shows: “You could see when we started it that people were really eager to see shows [in some form] again, but it slowed down as time went on as people realised it’s just not the same.”
He added that the company is only breaking even on its drive-in and other socially distanced events. “With the income, we’re just paying for what we’re doing,” he explained. “This is just to keep doing something that is our passion and our livelihood, until we can do something [else]…”
In India, where live music is still invariably sponsored, brands have realised the coronavirus crisis isn’t going away and are spending less on live events, creating a headache for promoters, said Chawla. “The brands have realised they’re in it for the long haul, and cultural marketing spend is now being put back into marketing the products” directly, he commented.
“I want to remain independent. It’s not all and gloom”
“Unlike a lot of other scenes, the Indian scene is pretty reliant on brands. So, with the brands spending less money, that will also affect shows and the scale at which they can happen.”
Giving an overview of the situation in countries where Move Concerts operates, Eselevsky brought panellists up to date on the latest developments in Latin America, from the furlough scheme in Argentina to ticket vouchers in Brazil and drive-in concerts in Puerto Rico.
She also touched on the challenge of organising concerts in Argentina when the value of the local currency fluctuates so often: “Three years ago, the exchange rate was 18 pesos [to the US dollar],” she said. “Now it’s 75 pesos.”
Banks described her own experience of playing Argentina, relaying how one of her acts once oversold a show in Buenos Aires and still didn’t break even. “Try explaining that to the manager!” she said.
Turning to 2021, Messer said he’s “finding that because so many things have been moved into next year, things are fully booked” for late 2021 already. “So it’s very hard to know what you can book – the dates are going very quickly, but you can’t book the artists” because the situation around international touring is still so unclear.
“People are talking a lot more to each other … We’re all in the same place”
Lockwood said he can understood why many artists, especially American ones, could be reluctant to travel internationally well into next year, even if it’s a “depressing” thought. “Imagine the nightmare of being a US band,” he explained, “you get to the border of Spain and Portugal, and your bus driver gets a cough and you have to quarantine for 14 days. So, your whole tour’s just gone.
“Whereas, at least if you’re a US band and you tour the US, you won’t get caught in that.”
While the crisis has thrown into sharp relief the vulnerability of the independent sector, none of the panellists responded in the affirmative when Banks asked, tongue in cheek, if they wish they’d sold to Live Nation before coronavirus hit.
“It’s not all and gloom,” said Chawla, highlighting the quality of the music being released and the increasingly global nature of the industry as among the bright spots, while Messer praised how “people have come together” to mitigate the impact of the concert shutdown.
“People are talking a lot more to each other – people from different sides of the industry,” he said, in a sentiment echoed by Banks. “We’re all in the same place, and luckily everyone’s helping each other, which we have to do. We all need each other – we’re not going survive unless we can all exist.”
Indie promoters in spotlight for next IQ Focus
Continuing the weekly series of IQ Focus virtual sessions, State of Independence: Promoters will see independent event organisers from across the globe come together to discuss the specific obstacles facing their business.
The tenth panel of the popular IQ Focus series, the session will be streamed live on Facebook and YouTube on Thursday 16 July at 4 p.m. BST/5 p.m. CET.
Across the touring world, independent promoters are facing a similar challenge when looking ahead to a post Covid-19 business.
While this current period presents many unique challenges for this creative and entrepreneurial sector, it’s one of many pressures they face. So what’s the state of play in Europe, South America and India? And what alternative show formats, and business models are independent promoters adopting to stay ahead?
CAA’s Emma Banks hosts the session to ask, as the industry emerges from its current crisis, where the opportunities might lie?
Joining Banks are DHP Family’s Anton Lockwood, Karsten Janhke Konzertdirektion’s Ben Mitha, DMP UK’s David Messer, Melanie Eselevsky from Argentina’s Move Concerts and Munbir Chawla from the Wild City in India.
All previous IQ Focus sessions, which have looked at topics including the challenges facing festivals, diversity in live, management under lockdown, the agency business, large-scale venues and innovation in live music, can be watched back here.
DHP Family unveils new London venue
UK-based promoter and venue operator DHP Family is launching the Grace, a new late night music venue in Islington, north London.
The 150-capacity venue is the latest addition to the DHP Family portfolio, which includes London venues the Garage (600-capacity) and Oslo (375-capacity), as well as award-winning boat venue Thekla (400-cap.) in Bristol.
Opening today (Friday 13 September) with music by DJs from Soho record store Sister Ray Records, upcoming shows at the venue include country singer Lauren Jenkins, Manchester bands Ist Ist Ist and the Covasettes and neo-soul singer Ben Brown.
Housed in what originally opened as Upstairs at the Garage, the space has already hosted acts including Jeff Buckley, the Killers, Sheryl Crow, Mogwai and Grimes.
“Here at the Grace, we had the perfect opportunity to combine our bar and live music space”
“London is well known for its live music pubs which are institutions in their own right,” comments DHP Family owner George Akins.
“Here at the Grace, we had the perfect opportunity to combine our bar and live music space to create an atmospheric space that can function equally well for after-work drinks or post-gig partying.”
The Grace will open from 5 p.m. each day, closing at 2 a.m. Monday to Thursday and at 4 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. The venue will not open on Sundays.
The venue is situated opposite Highbury and Islington tube station. More information can be found here.
In addition to its venue portfolio, Nottingham-based DHP Family runs the 25,000-capacity Splendour festival in Nottingham and multi-venue festival Dot to Dot in several cities. DHP also puts on 1,500 gigs per year, promoting tours by Ed Sheeran, the War on Drugs, Enter Shikari and more.
Sheeran wraps up Divide tour with hometown return
Ending where it all began, Ed Sheeran is performing the final concerts of his record-breaking ÷ (Divide) tour in his hometown of Ipswich, UK.
After spending 893 days on the road, performing at 166 venues in 43 countries and breaking attendance records in Iceland, Finland and South Africa, the end of Sheeran’s Divide tour – the highest grossing concert tour ever – is finally in sight.
Sheeran is closing the tour with four homecoming gigs at a specially erected 40,000-capacity arena in Chantry Park, Ipswich, from Friday 23 to Monday 26 August. The shows follow two UK tour dates in Roundhay Park, Leeds, last weekend.
According to local paper, Ipswich Star, fans have been queuing from as early as 5 a.m. to secure the best spot at today’s (23 August) show.
Fellow Suffolk-hailing act the Darkness will support Sheeran at all four shows, with Passenger warming up crowds on Friday and Saturday and Lewis Capaldi kicking things off on the other two nights.
Sheeran’s team includes his manager, Stuart Camp, agents Jon Ollier (CAA) and Marty Diamond (Paradigm), tour manager Mark Friend and a roster of promoters that includes FKP Scorpio in Germany, AEG Presents, DHP Family and Kilimanjaro Live in the UK, Frontier Touring down under and Messina Touring Group in North America.
Tickets for the concerts are priced at £82.50, with only tickets for the Monday evening show remaining at press time.
London venue the Borderline closes after 30 years
London venue Borderline has announced it will close its doors this summer, after more than 30 years hosting acts including Debbie Harry, Blur, Muse, Amy Winehouse and the 1975.
Promoter and venue operator DHP Family, who bought the Borderline from Mama in 2016, has made the decision to close the 300-capacity venue by August 31 in the face of “ever increasing rents, rising business rates and ongoing redevelopment plans for Soho”.
According to music charity the Music Venue Trust (MVT), 35% of UK grassroots music venues have closed in the last decade. A 4% rise in business rates –the tax levied on non-residential property in the UK – has caused further problems for music venues, which are not eligible for the tax rebates applicable to other small businesses. Escalating London rents have also impacted many venues.
“This has been a difficult decision, but given intentions by the landlord to increase the rent significantly for a second time since we took it over in 2016 as well as plans to redevelop the building housing the Borderline, we now know the venue doesn’t have a long term future so it makes no sense for us to continue to invest,” says DHP Family managing director George Akins.
“This is a sad day for all of us who love live music and believe in grassroots venues”
“We’ve had an amazing two years at Borderline with some fantastic shows and want to thank everyone for their support from agents, promoters and artists to all the thousands who have come to the gigs and club nights.
“We’ve put our all into trying to revive this iconic venue but unfortunately, it has been impossible to turn into a sustainable operation due to so many external factors. This is a sad day for all of us who love live music and believe in grassroots venues,” adds Akins.
DHP has retained the Borderline names and will consider opportunities to relocate the venue.
Akins says that DHP is “still committed to creating and running the best grassroots music venues in the country.” The company plans to reinvest in other parts of its portfolio, setting aside £1 million for work on Bristol’s Thekla, preparing for the 40th anniversary of Rock City in Nottingham and working on the opening of its first venue in Birmingham.
The announcement comes in the midst of a spate of good news for UK grassroots venues, as fellow DHP-owned London venue, the Garage, last week won protection from the local council which has pledged to safeguard the venue in case of area redevelopment and MVT recently announced £1.5 million in funding to protect and improve grassroots music venues, as well as support from industry-led initiatives.
Mixed picture as UK biz reveals 2018/19 gender pay gap
For the second year running, the UK live music business has revealed its gender pay gap (GPG) statistics, showing a mixed picture in which strides are being made towards gender equality, but where female employees are still vastly outnumbered by their male colleagues at an executive level.
All companies in mainland Britain with more than 250 employees were given until 5 April 2019 to report their gender pay gap – defined as the “difference in the average hourly wage of all men and women across a workforce” – for the previous 12 months to the government equalities office. Companies also published data on bonuses and the breakdown of employees’ genders by pay quartile. (Read last year’s results here.)
While it should be noted that GPG measures the difference between men’s and women’s average earnings across a whole business – rather than the pay received by male and female employees for doing the same job – all companies surveyed by IQ reiterated their goal of narrowing the gap ahead of next year’s survey and beyond.
See below for how nine of the UK’s largest live music businesses stacked up in 2018/19.
“We are committed to narrowing the gap over time in our business”
Live Nation (Live Nation (Music) UK Ltd)
Pay gap (mean): 80% (+18%)
Pay gap (median): 23% (-8%)
Live Nation UK’s mean GPG is the widest of the nine companies featured, growing 18%, to 80% (though its median gap narrowed), in 2018 – a reflection, says president Denis Desmond, of the under-representation of women in the wider music industry, especially in the upper echelons.
Writing in LN’s 2018 gender pay gap report, Desmond says the company is “committed to increasing women and diversity in our workforce and being an inclusive environment where everyone can succeed”.
“Women are under-represented in the music business. The gender pay gap is reflective of this, particularly with more men in the revenue-generating roles at the higher end of the salary scale,” he comments.
“This is something we want to see change. Real change requires a dual and sustainable approach; increasing awareness of the career opportunities available and ensuring we do all we can to develop and retain the women already making the industry such an important contributor to the wider UK economy.
“We are committed to bringing more women into our workforce through promoting all types of career options, and particularly helping influence young people to consider our industry. Alongside this we are creating more apprenticeships and internships designed to give people real skills needed to enter this business for a long-term and fulfilling career.”
Desmond reveals Live Nation recently conducted a “job levelling review across the UK” as part of an overhaul of its approach to reward and compensation decisions, in a bid to boost fairness. “Our robust policies and training programmes ensure that we are continually working to ensure no bias exists in our recruitment processes and ensuring we provide full support to all employees in balancing their family lives with the unique demands of the music business,” he continues.
“We see gender pay gap reporting as an opportunity to increase awareness of these challenges and are committed to narrowing the gap over time in our business.”
“Progress is being made, with 75% of all appointments at head of department level and above awarded to female candidates”
AEG/The O2 (Anschutz Sports Holdings Ltd)
Pay gap (mean): 43.6% (+0.3%)
Pay gap (median): 36.8% (-4.4%)
AEG declined to comment on its 2018 gender pay gap, though it made its report available on Monday 8 April.
While its mean GPG widened slightly, its median gap fell by 4.4%, and there are a slightly more women in two pay quartiles – the top (28%, +2%) and lower quartiles (66%, +1%) – compared to 2017. The percentage of women who received bonus pay was flat at 22%, compared to 7% more men (39%).
“Despite having a fairly even split of male to female employees overall, our gender pay gap is significant and we have more work to do to remove this,” writes AEG Europe president Alex Hill. “This gap is created by a higher proportion of women than men in our lower-paid roles and more men than women in our higher-paid roles.
“Our gender pay gap is not acceptable and we must make even greater effort to work towards gender pay neutrality across our business.”
However, he adds, “[p]rogress is being made, highlighted by our figures showing that 75% of all appointments at head of department level and above were awarded to female candidates, and since April 2018, seven of the top 20 roles are now occupied by female employees.”
“SMG Europe is confident that its gender pay gap does not stem from paying men and women differently for the same or equivalent work”
SMG Europe (SMG Europe Holdings Ltd)
Pay gap (mean): 16.6% (+4.6%)
Pay gap (median): 6% (+2%)
Arena operator SMG Europe’s pay gap slightly widened in 2018, although the proportion of female employees actually increased in every pay quartile. Its results, an SMG spokesperson tells IQ, are skewed by the nearly 20% more women in the lower quartile compared to 2017/18.
“We have undertaken significant resourcing activity in the past 12 months [6 April 2017–5 April 2018]. with 650 new colleagues joining our team,” they say. “The majority of new colleagues are casually engaged team members, of which 66.5% are female and 33.5% male. The recruitment gender ratios were consistent with gender ratio of applicants – ie no positive or other discrimination.
“As of April 2018, a total of 82% of our population comprised casual roles, compared to 77.7% the previous year. All our casually engaged colleagues, who make up the majority of our workforce, are paid at the same hourly rate for the same role, regardless of gender. The shift in our gender pay gap year-on-year is explained by the higher proportion of casually engaged individuals, of which there are proportionately more females this year, which is explained, as noted above, by the higher percentage of female applicants than our existing complement across our casually employed team.
“Our 2018 report also illustrates that women occupy 47% of the highest paid roles, compared to 43.3% the previous year, demonstrating that we have improved the proportion of women occupying the highest paid roles within the organisation.
“SMG Europe is confident that its gender pay gap does not stem from paying men and women differently for the same or equivalent work. Rather its gender pay gap is the result of the roles in which men and women work within the organisation and the salaries that these roles attract.”
“Whilst we are happy that this is going in the right direction, reducing the GPG remains a key priority for Global”
Global (Global Radio Services Ltd)
Pay gap (mean): 32.7% (-2.7%)
Pay gap (median): 19.4% (-1.1%)
Global, the UK’s second-largest festival operator, says it remains “committed” to closing its gender pay gap, which narrowed by 2.7% on a mean basis in 2018.
“Our workforce is balanced and fluctuates each month somewhere between 45%/55% female and male employees; however, we recognise that not having enough women in senior leadership roles is a significant factor in driving our GPG,” reads the company’s 2018 gender pay gap report. “In 2018, we are pleased that we have made some improvement across all measures, and reduced the GPG to 32.7%. Whilst we are happy that this is going in the right direction, it remains a key priority for Global, and creating a diverse and fair culture continues to be incredibly important.
“However, we recognise that this is a long-term strategy that takes time and focus, and that we won’t look different overnight. We have identified a number of initiatives existing and new, that will help us to continue to improve.”
These initiatives include its Global Apprenticeship scheme, launched in September 2018, which welcomed 17 apprentices and graduates into programming, digital, video, marketing, technology and commercial roles – of which 53% were female and from a BAME (black, Asian or minority ethnic) background – and a six-month leadership programme, whose alumni include 20 female middle managers who will be supported “in growing their careers at Global”.
“Our gender pay gap reflects the broader societal challenges of getting more women into the technology sector”
Ticketmaster (Ticketmaster UK Ltd)
Pay gap (mean): 44% (+8%)
Pay gap (median): 23% (+0%)
Ticketmaster’s mean GPG widened to 44%, while its median difference remains at 23%, the same gap as in 2017/18.
According to Mark Yovich, president of Ticketmaster International, its pay gap reflects the dearth of women working in the technology sector – and, if the figure was adjusted to remove employees working on the tech side, the GPG is 4% in favour of female staff.
“Ticketmaster is a vibrant, diverse place to work. We believe that diversity adds value to our workforce and delivers a better service to our fans,” he writes in TM’s 2018 pay gap report.
“As a technology-led business, our gender pay gap reflects the broader societal challenges of getting more women into the technology sector. There is an acute skills shortage in this area, with women accounting for just 25% of all UK STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] graduates. Only 16% of leadership positions in the technology industry are held by women [source: NCWIT]. Illustrating this challenge, if you remove our technology employees, our mean gender pay gap is minus 4%.
“Of course, we want to see more women in the technology industry and have been working with several organisations who provide opportunities for women to get into tech, including Women Who Code, codebar, Code First: Girls, and have an official partnership with Code Your Future. We host and support these groups with funding and regular meet-ups in our offices. We launched our own female employee resource group, WE Nation, in 2015 which continues to roll strong through our business in both the UK and across our international markets.
To ensure fairness, we have systemised our approach to reward and compensation decisions, including conducting a job levelling review across the UK. Our robust policies and training programmes ensure that we are continually working to ensure no bias exists in our recruitment processes.
“We see gender pay gap reporting as an opportunity to drive awareness about the challenges in our industry. We will continue to support women at all levels in our business. We are committed to increasing women and diversity in our workforce and being an inclusive environment where everyone can succeed.”
“Women are under-represented in the live music industry, and the GPG reflects this”
Academy Music Group (Academy Music Group Ltd)
Pay gap (mean): 21% (-3%)
Pay gap (median): 6% (+5%)
Live Nation-owned venue operator Academy Music Group (AMG) narrowed its mean pay gap to 21% in 2018, though its median GPG widened 5%.
Denis Desmond says AMG, whose venues include O2 Brixton Academy and Shepherds Bush Empire, is focusing on elevating more women into management positions.
“A key area of focus for us is achieving greater representation of women into venue management roles, which are our most senior positions and therefore attract higher rates of pay and bonuses,” he writes. “For venues, the median figure reflects our pay equity in the large volume of roles we regularly hire for where we have greater gender balance.”
“We are training managers to ensure no bias exists in our selection processes and ensuring we provide full support to all employees in balancing their family lives with the unique demands of the music business,” he continues, adding that, like Live Nation, AMG is “committed to narrowing the gap over time in our own business.”
“We are optimistic that plans to … attract, recognise and develop talent will have a real effect on improving gender pay equality at NEC Group”
NEC Group (National Exhibition Centre Ltd (The))
Pay gap (mean): 11.4% (+1.3%)
Pay gap (median): 9.7% (+2.6%)
NEC Group, which operates five arenas and convention centres in Birmingham, as of April 2018 had 1,861 employees and casual workers, of which 838 were men and 1,023 women. Its median pay gap, which widened 2.6% in 2018, nevertheless bests the UK average of 17.9%, says chief operating officer John Hornby.
Its most recent figures reflect the smaller proportion of men in lower pay quartiles compared to 2017.
“Overall the group’s profile is characterised by high numbers of employees working full and part time in the company’s catering, retail and hospitality operations, and smaller numbers of specialist technical, catering, supervisory and managerial roles,” reads the company’s 2018 GPG report. “The gender pay gap for the group presents a balanced picture, but there is still more to be done to ensure consistent improvement.
“In the past year, further investment has gone into developing our learning and development offer for all staff; for example, the New Leader programme and Experienced Leader programme, targeting those in leadership roles and those for whom a leadership role is the next career step. Since 2014 the team has trained over 260 new managers, with roughly an even male and female candidate profile.”
Hornby also highlights NEC Group’s talent programme, whose fifth cohort of 19 promotions is roughly gender equal, and its apprenticeship scheme.
“We are optimistic that some of these long-term plans to both attract, recognise and develop talent will have a real effect on improving gender pay equality within the NEC Group,” he concludes.
“Even though we’re ahead of most of our music industry peers … we’re not complacent about it – we know we’ve got more to do”
DHP Family (DHP Family Ltd)
Pay gap (mean): 11.6% (-2.1%)
Pay gap (median): 5% (+1.5%)
Nottingham-based promoter and venue operator DHP Family reported a 2% fall on its already low mean gap compared to last year’s figures, and the company says it does “not have an issue with equal pay. Our gender pay gap derives from fewer female employees within our venue management teams. This is a trend within our industry, whereby there are many more male venue managers across all levels, in particular the more senior the positions.”
While its mean pay gap is well below the national average, its bonus gap (the difference in bonus pay between men and women) remains high, at 48.5%, despite the percentage of women eligible doubling in 2018/19. “We are continuing to work on female representation for bonus eligible roles, and our initiatives to attract and retain females within our venue management and senior management teams are slowly reducing this difference,” according to its 2018 report.
“We’re fully committed to reducing our gender pay gap and I’m pleased to see we’ve made further progress this year,” DHP Family owner George Akins tells IQ.
“Even though we’re ahead of most of our music industry peers and the UK national average, we’re not complacent about it; we know we’ve got more to do and we’ve introduced a number of initiatives that will help in the years ahead.”
“We are making positive steps, but we know there is more we can do”
PRS for Music (PRS for Music Ltd)
Pay gap (mean): 16.8% (-0.4%)
Pay gap (median): 9.7% (-1.8%)
Pamela Harding, human resources director at performance rights organisation PRS, welcomes its narrowing pay gap but says there is still more to be done.
She comments: “Although we have seen a slight improvement, we have a continuing gender pay gap as there are fewer women in senior positions than men at PRS for Music. We believe that real progress is achieved through influencing business culture, and in 2018 we commenced our programme to recognise drivers of unconscious bias to better support our efforts to promote diversity and act inclusively. We also continued to take positive action with our new ‘Dignity at Work’ policy and by working with industry experts in diversity and inclusion.
“We are making positive steps, but we know there is more we can do. As we look further ahead, we remain committed to engaging all levels of our business to encourage, support and exemplify our core values and celebrate our differences.”
Bristol’s Thekla to receive £1m dry dock overhaul
DHP Family-owned Thekla (400-cap.), the award-winning live music boat venue based in Bristol, UK, is to be taken into dry dock on Monday 3 June for a £1 million overhaul to secure the boat’s next 50 years as a venue and club.
Ahead of the overhaul, Thekla will celebrate its 35th anniversary weekend from Thursday 2 to Saturday 5 May, with acts including BBC Radio 6 Music’s Steve Lamacq, drum and bass artist Roni Size, rock group October Drift and Hessle Audio co-founder Pangaea.
Built in 1958, a new steel offset hull will be welded to the whole of the boat’s existing hull. A recent detailed survey showed that the current hull is near the end of its life, despite regular, routine inspections and repairs.
“There’s a lot of love for Thekla in Bristol, around the country and worldwide. Both music fans and bands like Florence and the Machine, White Denim, Mumford and Sons, Ellie Goulding and many others who have played there over the years have taken part in some great nights,” says George Akins of DHP Family.
“We’re committed to preserving that heritage and that’s why we’re getting the new hull fitted – we need to make sure that Thekla continues to be a great night out for the next 50 years,” adds Akins.
“There’s a lot of love for Thekla in Bristol, around the country and worldwide […] we need to make sure that Thekla continues to be a great night out for the next 50 years”
At over 50 metres in length, Thekla is one of the longest ships in Bristol’s floating harbour. Repairs will be undertaken in the grade two listed Albion dry dock, which reopened in 2018 to allow maintenance and repair to be carried out on large ships in the city.
“We are very pleased to be undertaking works on Thekla and so secure her long term future in Bristol,” comments Martin Childs, co-owner of the Albion Dock Company. “Equally, her visit to the Albion Dockyard helps our venture in bringing this historic facility back to full time use as a working dry dock.”
Thekla will return to its usual position in Bristol’s floating harbour and reopen to the public in early September 2019. The Thekla team will announce the exact date of its reopening through its website and social media channels.
In 2017, DHP called on supporters to back its #savethekla campaign amid fears that noise complaints would cause the venue to close following the approval of a new housing development adjacent to the venue.
More information about the Thekla 35th anniversary celebrations can be found here.