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UK promoters discuss impact of currency fluctuation

A number of UK promoters have spoken to IQ about the impact of currency fluctuation on international touring, as the pound sterling continues on a tumultuous trajectory.

The currency slumped to a two-week low against the dollar of $1.0954 on Tuesday morning (11 October), before rebounding less than 24 hours later. However, Goldman Sachs told Pound Sterling Live it expects the pound to continue to weaken due to “flawed fundamentals”.

Richard Buck, head of European touring and Middle East partnerships at TEG Europe, tells IQ that the declining rate is having “a significant impact on international touring”.

“Offers made in USD, if the currency is not pre-booked, may need to be adjusted or even pushed back,” he says. “Also for artists who are paid in pound sterling, it becomes less attractive to visit the market as their potential return can diminish by around 20% versus the original forecast.

“Anyone that is incurring costs in dollars and getting paid in sterling, in particular, is going to struggle”

“Any multi-territory deal that has been made in USD is now harder to sell into territories as the return is harder to achieve. However, those already sold into markets such as the Middle East where the primary artist currency is USD may benefit from the improved conversion.”

The pound fell to an all-time low of $1.03 last month in the wake of the government’s mini-budget, prompting AEG Presents UK chief Steve Homer to list the exchange rate as one of the promoter’s biggest concerns, while US artists including Animal Collective cancelled tours, in part, due to currency devaluation.

But as Kilimanjaro Live CEO Stuart Galbraith points out, dwindling currency is not an issue unique to the UK.

“The dollar is strong against most currencies in the world at the moment so it’s probably an issue in Europe generally,” he notes. “But anyone that is incurring costs in dollars and getting paid in sterling, in particular, is going to struggle.”

Galbraith says that even though a large proportion of Kilimanjaro’s business is domestic, the promoter is still seeing the effects of the pound-to-dollar slump.

“Acts from America are telling us that they cannot afford to tour in Europe. We’ve certainly lost a couple of isolated shows in the last three or four months and we had a couple of tours that we were about to go on sale with but we’ve now been told the artist isn’t coming to the continent.

“Some acts will have put together budgets earlier on in the year when they were expecting they’d get a $1.30/40 for every pound. If they’re now redoing those budgets on an almost parity basis then you can absolutely understand why they’re not able to balance the books and go through with the tour.”

“It comes down to whether a US artist is able to use crew and suppliers that are UK and Europe based”

Galbraith says there are two possible short-term solutions for American artists. The first is to incur as many costs as possible in local currency and minimise the exposure to dollar expenditure, and the second is to reduce the scale of the show and do it on a more cost-effective basis, he says.

“It comes down to whether a US artist is able to use crew and suppliers that are UK and Europe based, instead of bringing staff and equipment from the US – which is all going to be paid for in dollars – and incurring transatlantic flights which are now extremely expensive in comparison to pre-covid times,” he says.

While Galbraith believes cost-cutting measures could be the solution to bringing US artists to the UK, Homer is concerned it’ll come down to UK promoters to offer bigger fees.

“We were almost on parity, which has not been something we’ve been familiar with for a long, long time. And it’s really biting in terms of artists touring over here – it becomes far more expensive for them to do it and it’ll be interesting to see how that impacts going forward. It’s creating a few anxious thoughts as to whether we can afford to offer American artists what they need to come over, so it might mean we’re missing a few that we would normally see.”


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