Spanish promoters react to sweeping restrictions
Spain’s live music sector is reckoning with a whole host of new restrictions imposed by the Spanish government and its various communities.
Earlier this week, prime minister Pedro Sánchez and his cabinet declared a six-month state of emergency, set to remain in force until 9 May, with periodic reviews.
The decree will allow Spain’s regional governments to order an overnight curfew to run from 11 pm to 6 am, or to begin and finish an hour earlier or later.
Yesterday (29 October), Catalonia went one step further, ordering the suspension of cultural activities for 15 days, starting from today.
“After some months of lockdown, postponing or cancelling all shows, we had a slight restart with many restrictions and reduced capacities,” says Albert Salmerón of Producciones Animadas.
“And now with the current situation, we have to postpone again the new shows we were programming following all the health and safety rules of the new normality. This means that we will have to keep our companies without any income for a very long time. This is a terrible situation and it’s essential that the Spanish government makes a plan to save the live music industry providing enough budget to cover costs of this lockdown and of the cancellations of shows.
“The expectations were not good but now they are even worse”
Juan Antonio of rock and metal promoter Madness Live agrees, adding that the new measures present a “very hard situation”.
“The expectations were not good but now they are even worse. For Madness Live and so many other companies in the music industry in Spain, which only work with international artists, it’s almost impossible to do anything. Since 11 March we were not able to organise any concert and unless the situation changes drastically, we think it would take much longer,” says Antonio.
“In the end, I think the governments will have to allow us to work coexisting with the virus… How? I don’t know. Maybe when the vaccine is out there for the most vulnerable part of the population, with the fasts tests or a cure. But until then, many employments will be – are being – destroyed, many venues will close and many promoter/booking/management offices will close. Unfortunately, the light at the end of this long tunnel is still far for us.”
Robert Grima, president at Live Nation Spain, however, is determined to charge ahead, working around the restrictions.
“The curfew does not affect the current situation for shows with reduced capacities at seated clubs and theatres, and therefore we will keep working on shows at that level. I am optimistic as concerts and events have not been a point of transmission and we are working with health authorities for test shows to certificate and create protocols to get back to the business asap,” says Grima.
“Unfortunately, the light at the end of this long tunnel is still far for us”
Neo Sala, founder and CEO at Doctor Music, suggested the new restrictions may even have a “positive effect”.
“The current state of emergency is much softer than the one applied last spring as it does not allow the government to lock down the population at home. It does not make any difference as “real concerts” – those with full capacities and no social distancing were not allowed anyway, even without the state of emergency.
“In fact, in the long term, it could have a positive effect for the live music industry as the more contained the people have been, the more hunger there will be for live entertainment when the Covid crisis is over. Our team is going through this situation together and with good spirit, ready to rock as soon as we can,” Sala concludes.
Es Música, the national federation, estimated that the losses in the live music sector due to the pandemic could exceed €1.2m after a year. While The International Monetary Fund recently said that Spain will be one of the developed countries worst affected by the Covid-19 crisis.
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Neo Sala presented with lifetime achievement award
Neo Sala, founder and CEO of promoter Doctor Music, has been presented with an award by the Spanish music industry to recognise his four-decade career in the live business.
Sala, who founded Doctor Music in 1982, was given by the award by Albert Salmerón, president of the Association of Music Promoters (APM), at the sixth Premios Fest awards in Bilbao yesterday (30 October).
Nearly 40 years after its founding, Doctor Music, still led by Sala, remains one of Europe’s leading independent promoters, working with the likes of the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Adele, Katy Perry, REM, Camila Cabello, Shawn Mendes and Greta Van Fleet. It also launched Spain’s first-ever major music festival, Doctor Music Festival, in the mid-1990s.
“Neo has played a fundamental role in the formation of the national music scene”
Last May, the company sold a majority stake to Germany’s CTS Eventim, becoming Eventim’s first controlled promoter in the Spanish market.
According to APM, Sala is “the greatest exponent of the music industry in our country”. “Neo has played a fundamental role in the formation of the national musical and cultural scene, helping Spain to become a must-stop destination for any world-class tour,” says the association.
The Premios Fest (‘Fest Awards’) take place annually ahead of the BIME Live conference. Other 2019 winners included Bilbao BBK Live, which picked up best large festival, and Cruïlla Festival, which won the innovation award.
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Doctor Music Festival forced to move by flood threat
Spain’s Doctor Music Festival (DMF) has been obliged to change sites for its comeback edition this summer, after the Catalan Water Agency (ACA) warned that the event’s original site in the Pyrenees was at risk of flooding.
Neo Sala, the founder of promoter Doctor Music, confirmed today that Doctor Music 2019 will take place at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya Formula 1 track in Montmeló, near Barcelona, from 12 to 14 July. The festival was originally planned to take place over four days at Escalarre, in the Àneu valley, from 11 to 14 July, with the change meaning that Smashing Pumpkins will play on 14 July rather than the 11th, as originally planned.
Smashing Pumpkins will now play before Sunday’s headliner, the Strokes, after agreeing to “accommodate the date and time change for the sake of the festival, their fans and the other bands”.
Doctor Music Festival took place in Escalarre in 1996, 1997 and 1998. Festival organisers said they considered the ACA’s warning to be an exaggerated interpretation of the theoretical risk of flooding, in a valley that hasn’t flooded in summer for as long as records exist.
In a press conference to announce the change of venue, Sala talked of ecologists and “eco-opportunists”, criticising those who felt the valley was “theirs, and untouchable”.
“In the festival’s opinion, there has been a very over-exaggerated and destructive interpretation of the regulations surroundings theoretical flood risks in the valley, which has never before flooded in summer (at least as far as current data shows),” says DMF in a statement.
“We have found Montmeló, which is a fantastic place”
“The stringency levels which have been applied in this case far surpass the norm and we have therefore been forced to abandon the originally planned location in order to ensure that all artistic commitments made are complied with, and make sure that the festival goes ahead as per originally designed for this new edition.”
All of the artists confirmed for DMF 2019 will still perform, with the exception of Chris Robinson Brotherhood and the Prodigy, who cancelled all their live dates following the death of Keith Flint.
All tickets remain valid, though a refund policy has been implemented for those who no longer wish to attend. Ticket prices have also dropped, in reflection of the new three-day nature of the event, and promoters will reimburse those who already bought passes at the old, more expensive rate. Full information is available from www.doctormusicfestival.com.
Sala said he hasn’t considered the future of DMF beyond the 2019 event. “We are not even thinking about it,” he said. “We have found Montmeló, which is a fantastic place. And we are concentrating on having the best possible festival in Montmeló.”
Doctor Music today also announced new names for the festival, including Empire of the Sun, Johnny Marr, Texas, Kamasi Washington and Luciano. Swiss DJ Luciano will play in Force Field, an open-air stage dedicated to electronic music curated by DJ Damian Lazarus.
Sala also spoke on DMF’s impressive technical specs. The main stage will be 162m (531’) wide – apparently the largest concert or festival stage ever used in the south of Europe – and is designed by Ray Winkler of Stufish Architects, which has worked on stage design for the likes of the Rolling Stones and U2.
The festival’s lighting is being overseen by Patrick Woodroffe, director of Woodroffe Bassett Design, who designed recent tours by AC/DC, the Rolling Stones, Adele and Black Sabbath.
Doctor Music Festival 2019 announces first acts
Spain’s Doctor Music Festival has announced its first wave of artists for next year’s ‘reincarnation edition’, including several who will perform multiple times throughout the festival.
Both King Crimson and Underworld will perform three sets apiece, giving fans more than one opportunity to see headliners and “reduce the anxiety generated […] by the worry of missing any of the key concerts”, according to festival promoter Neo Sala.
Sala explains: “I do not want people to have the feeling that they will miss something – the famous FOMO [fear of missing out] effect that you get in those big events will be reduced at Doctor Music Festival.”
Other performers include the Strokes (who return to the road in 2019 after a two-year hiatus), Smashing Pumpkins, Greta Van Fleet, Primal Scream, the Prodigy, Sisters of Mercy and Eyellusion’s Frank Zappa hologram.
The full line-up for the festival – which takes place from 11 to 14 July 2019 at a 350-acre site in Escalarre, surrounded by the Catalan Pyrenees – will be announced early next year.
A poster showing the first wave of acts in full is below:
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Spain: 69% of resold tickets are touted for profit
Nearly three quarters of tickets placed on secondary sites in Spain are there to be sold for profit, new data reveals, as momentum builds towards regulating the Spanish resale market.
Ticketea, a Madrid-based self-service ticketer, on Monday held a press conference to present the results of a survey of 12,000 people which discovered more than one in four (26%) Spaniards has resold an event ticket online. Of those 26%, 69% of respondents admitted to “speculating” on the ticket’s price, turning a profit by reselling it for more than face value.
The Ticketea survey comes as public sentiment in Spain shifts increasingly towards legislating to regulate the secondary market, inflamed by several high-profile controversies over ticket touting. Bruce Springsteen promoter Doctor Music is taking legal action – still ongoing – against several sites it accuses of “defrauding” consumers, while in February Berry Producciones and popular singer Alejandro Sanz sued Viagogo and established the Anti-Resale Alliance, an anti-touting association along the lines of FanFair in the UK.
While a majority (55%) of those surveyed are against an outright ban on resale, as is being introduced in Italy, 67% say secondary ticketing should be a “controlled practice, regulated by the law”. Of those 67%, more than three quarters say the price of resold tickets should be capped at no more than 10% above face value.
“They hurt the fans, and they take advantage of the talent of the artists and the risk assumed by promoters”
Speaking at the press conference – also attended by Doctor Music’s Neo Sala and Springsteen fan club president Joan Colet, who is hoping to gain 500,000 signatures on a petition to criminalise for-profit resale – Ticketea CEO Javier Andres said: “The current situation with ticket resale in Spain is not caused by fans selling a ticket because they can no longer attend a concert; the problem is speculators who buy large numbers of tickets and resell them for a premium of as much as 1,000%…
“They hurt the fans, and they take advantage of the talent of the artists and the risk assumed by promoters and organisers of events.”
Other insights from the survey include that around one in three people have bought a resold ticket, of which 30% paid above face value, and that 94% of consumers would like to see the introduction of a window of time in which tickets can be legally resold – cutting out brokers who harvest tickets in bulk and immediately list them on secondary sites.
Spanish culture minister Íñigo Méndez de Vigo pledged on 8 March to “regulate” the online ticket resale market, although he ruled out an outright ban, saying it would be like “putting doors on a field” (“ponerle puertas al campo“) – ie impossible. No concrete measures have yet been announced.
Reincarnation for Doctor Music Festival
Spanish promoter Doctor Music last night held a launch party in London for the new iteration of its Doctor Music Festival, which will return after a 19-year hiatus in summer 2019.
MCed by BBC Radio 6 Music presenter Matt Everitt, and featuring food by world-famous chef Albert Adrià, the event – held at the exclusive Groucho Club – was attended by a number of high-profile agents and managers, including representatives of Arcade Fire (CAA), Bob Dylan (ITB), Robbie Williams (ie:music), Neil Young (ITB), Muse (UTA), The Black Keys (Paradigm) and Tom Petty (ITB).
The first 6,000 tickets for the ‘Reincarnation Edition’ festival, which will run from 12 to 14 July 2019, will go on sale from www.doctormusicfestival.com in early May – more than two years before the actual event itself.
Three-day passes are €175, although those who attended any of the previous Doctor Music Festivals – 1996, 1997 and 1998 in Escalarre or 2000 in Asturias – will be offered a €50 discount.
The festival site for the 2017 event – which returns to Escalarre, in the Catalan Pyrenees – will be spread over 140 hectares (346 acres), with five stages and general and VIP camping areas, for a minimum capacity of 40,000.
“The combination of the stars right above our heads, the greatest music legends and the most outstanding young talent will create a heavenly experience”
No performers have yet been announced, although is has been confirmed Adrià will integrate his Barcelona restaurant, Tickets, into the festival, bringing over chefs and staff to cook for festivalgoers. He says he’s “really excited to close the restaurant in Barcelona for a full weekend and move it to a wonderful mountain valley”. Albert Adrià’s ‘Tickets’ Food Experience at Doctor Music Festival can already be pre-booked through their website.
Doctor Music founder and CEO Neo Sala comments: “The Doctor Music Festival is an ecological Shangri-La, an unspoilt valley providing limitless space to roam and surrounded by mountains, where we will welcome tens of thousands of lovers of peace, music and nature.
“The combination of the stars right above our heads, the greatest music legends and the most outstanding young talent will create a heavenly experience.”
There have so far been four Doctor Music Festivals in total: in 1996 (headliners: David Bowie, Blur, Lou Reed), 1997 (Rage Against the Machine, Megadeth, Placebo), 1998 (Beastie Boys, Bob Dylan, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds) and 2000 (Beck, Pet Shop Boys and the first Spanish show by Muse).
Melvin Benn’s Mean Fiddler group staged a spin-off one-day festival in Barcelona, the Metallica-headlined Doctor Music Day, in 2003, although there was no follow-up.
Twickets eyes global launch after £1.2m funding
Face-value ticket exchange website Twickets has ended its crowdfunding campaign with £1.2m of investment – over 70% the original £700k it asked for – and founder Richard Davies is gearing up for international expansion.
The crowdfunding campaign launched in November last year with the aim of raising cash to help the business grow by bolstering its technology team and undertake its first marketing campaign. That campaign will focus on providing incentives for users of the service to help spread the word, with outbound marketing activity aimed at capturing new users coming next, Davies tells IQ. He’s currently looking for a head of marketing to oversee the project.
Twickets is available in the UK and thanks to a tie-up with Neo Sala’s Spanish promoter, Doctor Music, will launch in Spain before the end of March. Sala invested in the recent round alongside a number of promoters in Spain and Switzerland. Davies wants to roll out Twickets in other European territories as well as Australia, where they’ve already appointed someone to head up operations, and New York State in the second half of this year.
A total of 12% equity in Twickets has been given to those who participated in the funding drive, with the start-up now valued at over £11m. T-shirts, waived booking fees and tickets to parties and events were offered to funders as incentives.
“As a community-led business we felt crowdfunding was the most relevant way for us to raise funds. We have industry investors as well, but we felt it was important to allow our users to invest.”
“As a community-led business we felt crowdfunding was the most relevant way for us to raise funds. We have industry investors as well but we felt it was important to allow our users to invest,” Davies explained. Since launching in 2011, Twickets has achieved over £2.7m in ticket sales and 240k app downloads. Including the £1.2m, its total investment has topped £2m to date.
A premium service is in the works that will offer sellers “promoted tickets” at the top of the Twickets stream and a “waiting list” service that’s currently in trial will allow buyers to register for a ticket for automatic allocation once available. Twickets has been appointed as the exclusive resale platform for partners including Adele, Mumford & Sons, One Direction, QPR, Crystal Palace football club and promoter Kilimanjaro Live and parent company Deutsche Entertainment AG (DEAG).
Recent investors include Marcus Russell and Alec McKinlay of Ignition Management (Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Catfish and the Bottlemen), Closer Artists (James Bay, George Ezra, James Morrison) and Twickets’ original founding board, which includes FanFair Alliance founders Ian McAndrew and Harry Magee, along with Richard Griffiths of Modest! Management (One Direction, Olly Murs), Chrysalis Records founder Chris Wright CBE, former EMI and BPI chairman Tony Wadsworth CBE and Crystal Palace FC’s owner and chairman, Steve Parish.
Twickets to launch in Spain with Doctor Music
UK-based face-value ticket exchange Twickets is to launch in Spain after securing financial backing from Marcus Russell and Alec McKinlay of Ignition Management (Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Catfish and the Bottlemen) and Neo Sala, the founder of Spain’s leading concert promoter, Doctor Music.
Russell, McKinlay and Sala have invested in the company as part of a funding round, opening today, on crowdfunding site Seedrs, which has so far raised more than £126,000, of a target of £700,003. Also reinvesting is Twickets’ original founding board, which includes FanFair Alliance founders Ian McAndrew and Harry Magee, along with Richard Griffiths of Modest! Management (One Direction, Olly Murs), Chrysalis Records founder Chris Wright CBE, former EMI and BPI chairman Tony Wadsworth CBE and Crystal Palace FC’s owner and chairman, Steve Parish.
The new Spanish operation, due to launch before the end of 2016, will be a joint venture between Twickets and Doctor Music. Sala – who said at the Live & Ticketing Summit in September he “wish[ed] we had Twickets in Spain” – comments: “I have been looking forward to the day that a service like Twickets launches in Spain to put a stop to touts who profit from everyone else’s hard work and take fans’ hard-earned money…
“I am pleased to be partnering with Richard, and his team and look forward to Twickets Spain launching soon.”
Twickets has also become the official ticket resale partner of south London-based Crystal Palace football club. Parish says: “I was really happy to invest in something that seemed an ethical way of solving the problem of secondary ticketing. It soon dawned on us that partnering with Twickets was a fantastic opportunity for the club – to make sure that when supporters couldn’t go to a match, they could get their tickets to other supporters.”
Twickets founder Richard Davies comments: “Our second round of investment is an exciting opportunity to further expand the business internationally, and welcoming top industry players like Neo Sala, Marcus Russell and Alec McKinley into the Twickets family is a great development. As well as this, investing through Seedrs is an opportunity for fans to be a part of our continued growth.
“We are also incredibly proud to become the first face value resale platform to represent a Premiership football club. Working with Steve Parish and the staff at Crystal Palace to facilitate fair resale of match tickets between club members is an exciting and important step for Twickets.
“We are looking forward to launching in Spain and working with our new partners at Doctor Music to offer Spanish music fans an alternative, ethical method of purchasing concert tickets.”
‘Everyone has the right to resell their tickets’
Pino Sagliocco, chairman of Live Nation Spain, has waded into the long-running debate over secondary ticketing, arguing that anyone who has bought a ticket to a show owns it outright and has the right to sell it on the secondary market.
“Resale is inevitable and has always existed,” Sagliocco told the Association of Music Promoters’ Javier Herrero. “Everyone has the right to take their ticket and put it back on the market. And what I like most is that this process is controlled, to ensure the tickets are good, […] unlike what happened to us with Lady Gaga, who had a big problem with a forgeries.”
While a concert ticket represents a contract between a promoter and a gig-goer, in most countries, including Spain, there are no restrictions on selling that ticket on to a third party – unlike, for example, an airline ticket or (in the UK) a ticket to a football match.
This lack of a clear legal definition was touched upon by DHP Family promoter Anton Lockwood last month following the release of the Waterson report on secondary ticketing. The biggest thing [the report] is missing,” he told IQ, “is that nowhere that I can see has Professor Waterson addressed the question of, What is a ticket?'”
“Resale is inevitable and has always existed, and everyone has the right to take their ticket and put it back on the market”
“The ideal policy is that resale wouldn’t be allowed,” continued Lockwood,” but that is predicated on the position that the ticket is a contract between the concert provider and the customer – and you can’t just go, ‘Well, it’s not that customer, it’s a different one.’ It’s like an airline: you can’t just say, ‘I can’t be bothered to get on a plane today, my mate can go instead.’ It just doesn’t work like that.”
Sagliocco also touched on the explosion of new festivals in Madrid in 2016, arguing that supply now outstrips demand in the Spanish capital. “I do not think there is so much demand for [these new festivals], but there is a gap [in the market],” he said. Mad Cool Festival and Utopía/Madrid Dance Island are both new for this year and compete with Live Nation’s own Dcode.
Local rival Doctor Music in March filed official complaints against Live Nation/Ticketmaster-owned Seatwave, Viagogo and a number of other secondary outlets, alleging that the sites are “harmful to the world of music”.
Ticketbis hits back at ‘libellous’ Doctor Music
Ticketbis, one of the eight secondary ticket outlets that are the focus of an official complaint to Spanish regulatory authorities by Doctor Music, is suing the promoter for libel.
Jon Uriarte, CEO and cofounder of Ticketbis, says his company will “no longer stand idly before their statements about our business model [to which Doctor Music] ascribes criminal acts which in no way correspond to reality”.
“The smear campaign conducted by Doctor Music to discredit our business model mostly harms our customers, who have found in Ticketbis a legal and safe platform on which to buy and sell tickets,” he comments.
Sites like Ticketbis, says Uriarte, are the only “legal and safe alternative” to a transaction that would otherwise “take place in the street, without control and without paying taxes to the state”
Uriarte responds to Doctor Music’s claim that Ticketbis, along with fellow defendees Seatwave, Tengoentradas.com, Viagogo, Entradas 365, TicketNetwork, Ticket Liquidator and Worldticketshop, is ripping off music fans by pointing out that tickets to Bruce Springsteen’s Doctor Music-promoted concert in Barcelona tomorrow are available on Ticketbis for “between €16 and €39, well below face value” (the cheapest price as of today is actually a still-reasonable €39).
He also notes that promoters “do not usually admit the return of the entries, except for [in the event of] cancellation” and that sites like Ticketbis are the only “legal and safe alternative” to a transaction that would otherwise “take place in the street, without control and without paying taxes to the state”.
In March Doctor Music, whose conditions of sale prohibit the selling on of its tickets, said the “flood of resale tickets” available for its Springsteen and Adele gigs in Spain has “outraged fans, artists and music promoters” and threatened to take its case to the Spanish National Court.