Grammys double down on live after year of no concerts
Dua Lipa, Taylor Swift and Megan Thee Stallion delivered a handful of the 32 live or pre-recorded performances at the annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles last night (14 March).
The 63rd edition kicked off with three back-to-back performances from Harry Styles, Billie Eilish and Haim, who performed in an in-the-round set-up, reminiscent of Later… with Jools Holland.
Eilish and her brother/producer Finneas performed her ethereal ballad ‘Everything I Wanted’, for which she took home Record of the Year, for the second consecutive year.
Megan Thee Stallion made her impressive debut at the Grammys, scooping three awards including Best New Artist, and delivering two performances that were ranked first and second place on Billboard’s performance review list.
The rapper first performed a medley of ‘Body’ and ‘Savage’ – the latter won her Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance along with Beyoncé, who featured on the recording – before joining Cardi B onstage for a live rendition of their chart-topping smash ‘WAP’.
Beyoncé also made her mark last night, becoming the most-awarded person in Grammys history with her 28th win
Beyoncé had an equally unforgettable night, becoming the most-awarded person in Grammys history with her 28th win for ‘Black Parade’. Bluegrass singer Alison Krauss previously held the title.
Taylor Swift also made history at Sunday’s ceremony, by becoming the first female artist ever to win album of the year three times.
Only three other artists have ever won the album of the year prize three times: Frank Sinatra, Paul Simon and Stevie Wonder.
The star was rewarded for her lockdown album ‘Folklore’, which she performed in part during last night’s ceremony with collaborators Aaron Dessner and Jack Antonoff.
‘Cardigan’, ‘August’ and ‘Willow’ all got an outing during Swift’s first Grammys performance in five years.
BTS, Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak, Doja Cat, Post Malone and Lionel Richie also delivered performances at last night’s Grammys.
Last night’s award show was the first from executive producer Ben Winston, best known for turning James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke series into a viral hit. Winston is the first new producer since Ken Ehrlich took over the show in 1980.
The production’s Covid precautions included 6ft-compliant tables and chairs beneath an outdoor terrace, five separate stages at the Los Angeles Convention Center and widespread testing – all of which added millions to the show’s budget.
See a complete list of winners and nominees for the 2021 Grammys here.
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PULSE: Highlights from ILMC’s new tech event
PULSE is an all-new platform that sits at the intersection of technology and live entertainment. A collaboration between ILMC, senior booking agent Mike Malak (Paradigm), and digital entertainment expert Yvan Boudillet (TheLynk), the first PULSE event took place at ILMC today (3 March), welcoming leading figures from both industries for a full day of discussion and debate.
Tickets for ILMC 33, which include all panels, including PULSE, available to watch back until 5 April 2021, are still available. Click here for more information.
The final Pulse session of the day, The Business of Live Tech, brought together industry heads to discuss emerging business models and new deals around tech and music.
One of the panel’s most interesting discourses was about the perceived fan-appetite for livestreaming before, during and after the pandemic.
Steve Hancock, Melody VR/Napster (UK) points out that fans’ demand for livestreaming was strong before the pandemic and will continue to be a valuable complementary offering to live.
“Just exclusively VR, we moved on to mobile smartphone and tablet in 2019, where we launched our real-time live technology at Wireless with Live Nation in Finsbury Park. We did all three days, multi-stage, multi-cam jumps and had 250,000 people coming through the app on the first weekend at that festival and it showed everyone that appetite was there.
“And as we introduced paywalls, as the market progressed, people were good with it. Livestreaming will never replace live but I think a hybrid, and marriage, of physical and digital attendance is, in my opinion, the way forward,” said Hancock.
Olenik ventured that the way to keep fans interested in livestreaming events post-pandemic is to offer bonus features
Lesley Olenik, Live Nation (US), ventured that the way to keep fans interested in livestreaming events post-pandemic is to offer bonus features for those watching at home.
“If you have a world tour that you’re planning and if the artist is open to it, giving people access to maybe like the rehearsals or the soundcheck and doing some sort of virtual meet and greet could appeal to fans around the world. Billie Eilish did a really cool video that was shown before her live stream with her crew and how they all work together to bring this show to life and like what an undertaking is and fans loved it,” said Olenik.
Justin Lubliner, Darkroom (US), agreed and warned that without features tailored specifically for at-home livestreaming, fans’ interest could waiver.
“Billie’s show was an amazing live stream experience: I think the differentiating factor between the one that we did [with Billie] and the one that I’ve seen from other artists was that it was created specifically to be watched behind a computer and a TV. Not to offend anyone but personally, I am less bullish about the general virtual concert space,” he said.
Cheryl Paglierani, United Talent Agency (US), echoed that thought: “There is going to be ways for us to create virtual balconies or virtual meet and greet experiences if they’re already doing you can add, you know more and maybe it’s through zoom or whatever platform so you know it helps the artist generate more revenue, as opposed to you know just the bodies that are in the building, that’s what people are discussing right now and trying to find the best solutions for, but I do think people will be willing to pay for it for sure.”
— The World Jam (@_Angela_Gil) March 3, 2021
Asking how to keep the fan at the centre of new virtual performance spaces, The New Fan Experience welcomed Sheri Bryant from virtual events platform Sansar, who spoke of the importance of connecting fans with performers while avoiding trying to compete with the live experience.
Livestreaming, said Driift’s Ric Salmon, is the “holy grail” for artists. “It’s a direct-to-fan format,” he said. “The ecosystem between the artist and the fan is complicated and there are a lot of mouths to feed in that process – [livestreaming] provides us with an opportunity to realign that relationship.
When choosing a platform, said Tommas Arnby (Locomotion), “you want to go where the fans are”. Streaming, he said, is about “creat[ing] scarce, unique moments. You want to really make something that blows the fans away – give them something they didn’t expect.”
Where the sector goes next, suggested Brandon Goodman of Best Friends Music “depends on the artist. It’s important for the creative to make sense with the artist – I don’t think artists should necessarily do what Billie [Eilish] did. For exampled, I loved the Dermot Kennedy stream – but I don’t think Dermot Kennedy in an XR world, like Billie, would be very on-brand for an artist like him.”
Trivium frontman Matt Heafy opened The Livestreamers’ Guide to Live Music by talking about his following on videogame-focused livestreaming site Twitch, where has more than 200,000 subscribers (many of whom also tuned into the ILMC panel).
While Heafy has been streaming on Twitch for years (including every Trivium show for the past three), “it took up until the pandemic happening for my channel to really take off,” he explained. It’s because of his putting in that groundwork, he added, that, “now that everyone’s stuck at home, they know to come and see what Matt’s been telling us about all this time.”
Julie Bogaert from Facebook spoke of the importance for streamers of having a “presence on as many platforms as possible,” in addition to Facebook and Instagram, “because they all have different audiences”.
For livestreamers, viewer engagement is key, added Heafy. “That’s what separates live from video. That viewer-streamer relationship is the big difference [between a live broadcast and] a video that already exists.
“It’s really that human element that’s important. I’ve heard it described as the Bruce Dickinson effect. Iron Maiden have been playing arenas for 20 years, but what he can do is make even the person in the nosebleed seats feel like the show is all about them.”
Building an audience on a platform like Twitch is “a grind”, admitted Wiktoria Wójcik of esports specialist InStreamly. “You have to prepare to stream to, say, every day, or once a week – you need to have a schedule, and always deliver.”
Livestreaming, she added, “isn’t an easy way to be discovered, because you’re going live for a few hours and then you vanish, as it’s live content only. You have to have a place where you aggregate your fans and them push them towards your live streams.”’
Asian Agent’s Danny Lee, who works with a number of K-pop acts, described the subtle differences between the various platforms. For example, “Instagram Live is very immediate,” he said. “People just go right into it. Whereas on something like V Live, which is a very popular Korean livestreaming app, a streamer may start out by just looking at the camera for five minutes.”
Livestreaming will not replace live, said Wójcik, but act as an add-on in future. “Even when we come out of this, there will still be people who can’t come to see you in person or come to your shows, so streaming will provide a way to connect with those fans.”
— Trish Brown (she / her) (@Trish_Brown) March 3, 2021
Pulse continued with Sweet Streams – Best in Class, which saw Lars-Oliver Vogt, Live Nation GSA, assemble leaders in the livestreaming space to share best practice and reflect on 2020’s standout events.
James Sutcliffe, LiveNow Global (UK), reflected on the success of Dua Lipa’s first ticketed virtual show, Studio 2054, which took place late last year and garnered more than 500 million views and 300,000 ticket sales.
LiveNow splashed out a whopping $1.5 million in realising the Dua Lipa project but big budgets are part of the company’s business model, said Sutcliffe.
“We’re not afraid to invest and I think it’s important for us to ensure that the quality levels of the content and the product that we’re putting out is high. And by us coming to the table with the willingness to invest and help curate these shows, it gives them the best possible chance of the end product being as good as you’ve just seen.”
Mike Schabel, Kiswe (US), enjoyed similar success with K-pop band BTS and their Map of the Soul On:e pay-per-view live stream, which saw 993,000 people across 193 countries tune in.
“How does livestreaming become more than just a promotional vehicle or novelty for mid-range acts”
Schabel says the most exciting thing about the live stream was “the number of innovations we’ve brought to the table for the audience” including multiple cameras to choose from, multi-language live closed captioning and Bluetooth-enabled light sticks.
However, the “live live” aspect of the shows was “an overwhelming challenge that everybody in this space knows”.
Speaking on the role of an agent in livestreaming, Natasha Gregory, Mother Artists (UK), says that while there’s been little financial gain, there’s been a lot to learn.
“I really wanted to get involved and find out how streaming works and how many tickets you can sell for a rock band, for instance, Idles who sell 2,500 tickets in London, and how that can reflect.”
“[Idles livestream] was at least six weeks of solid work and what you get out of it is minimal. I mean we did 12,000 streams but we did decide to use it more as a marketing tool,” she adds.
“It’s really about what can you do differently [with livestreaming] that makes it actually viable”
However, Tim Westergreen, Sessions Live (US), asked “how does livestreaming become more than just a promotional vehicle or novelty for mid-range acts?”.
“It’s really about what can you do differently that makes it actually viable, so that an average band can take advantage of what should be a great platform. You can do all sorts of different ticketing to offer the ability to connect with a band that the real world doesn’t allow you and unless you until you do that and do that in a scalable way, [livestreaming] will continue to be more elitist.”
Westergreen says that the monetisation of livestreaming for mid-range acts depends on two things: a fan and audience development platform as well as a monetisation mechanism similar to those tried and tested in gaming.
“How do you monetise engagement? That’s what gaming has done for two decades now it’s why, as an industry, it’s been so much more successful than music in the digital era.”
“It has only taken 10 months for fans to accept they have to pay for tickets to a live stream”
Fabrice Sergent, Bandsintown group (US), says: “There’s hope, and not just for the large artists”.
Sergeant says that last year Bandsintown listed 70,000 live streams last year, 75% of which were actually listed by artists of less than 100,000 followers.
Not only that but from July to October, the number of live streams that were ticketed jumped from 2% to 50%.
“For something that started as a free medium, it has only taken 10 months for fans to accept they have to pay for tickets to a live stream. When you think back to the time when music was pirated on Napster and it took 10 years for fans to finally accept to buy a subscription to music streaming.”
Pulse kicked off with New Technology Pitches, hosted by Steve Machin LiveFrom Events (UK), comprised of quick-fire presentations on the best new tech and innovation in the business.
First up, Arjun Mehta (US) showcased Moment House’s premium digital platform for live creators.
“How do you marry technology with culture? That’s the question at the heart of our approach,” Mehta says.
Mehta explained that Moment House was launched because he felt “a fundamental tool was missing from the internet”.
“This was never meant to be a replacement for a physical concert. We built it from the standpoint of ‘how do we craft the most compelling digital fan experience digitally?’… a brand new unit that’s fully complementary to the physical world.”
“How do you marry technology with culture? That’s the question at the heart of [Moment House’s] approach”
Mehta says Moment House is built on three core principles: “Number one is beautiful design – a beautiful user experience that really prioritises the fan. Number two is our messaging and how we frame Moment House to both the artists and fans as this new independent unit of a moment. The third thing is curating the sorts of artists on the platform…it’s very important to us that we took a top-down approach and brought some of the world’s biggest superstars onto the platform.”
Eight Day Sound then presented its Virtual Live Audience (VLA) technology, which “meaningfully reconnects audiences to the entertainment they love”.
“VLA is cutting edge proprietary technology that allows for seamless communication between presenters and audiences with low latency and high quality remote participants are displayed via video screens on site and the team can customise the layout.”
“The sky is the limit for the number of participants able to join VLA, which means that the audience is no longer limited to the venue, and there are opportunities for scalable ticketing sponsorship, advertising and other revenue-generating streams. You can maximise event profits.”
Next to the stand was Vladic Ravich, who told ILMC delegates how Bramble came to be.
Vladic and co-founder Salimah Ebrahim launched Bramble to offer “a more human way to gather online”
The company behind Bramble, Artery, started as a way to “connect people with cultural experience” by helping users set up secret events in their own homes.
When the pandemic hit, rendering Artery’s business model redundant, Vladic and co-founder Salimah Ebrahim launched Bramble which sought to offer “a more human way to gather online”.
“What makes Bramble a good gathering? The first thing is our proprietary fluid video technology, and if you haven’t seen this kind of spatial video and audio, it’s immediately intuitive.”
Bramble also offers a customisable performance venue that has hosted events including the House of Yes’s Halloween show as well as the Artist and Manager awards.
Next up, Param Kanabar tells ILMC delegates about Noq, a cashless and contactless ordering system that “looks at tackling queue management and issues around queuing at events”.
Noq is “a hybrid blend between a marketplace app as well as a branding solution”
“You just need a QR code specific to a particular event. This could be shared with customers, ahead of the event, whether that be through a website, social media, tickets, newsletters.
“Additionally, at the event, there’ll be multiple touch points, at the entrance, near the food zones. So when customers scan a QR code, they are taken straight to a festival landing page where they’re able to see all the vendors that are around them.
“This is great because there’s a lot of increase in folks being gluten free, vegan and vegetarian. Plus people have food allergies. So, communicating what you want in a busy festival and an event is difficult sometimes. And so from a customer perspective, having this and access to view everything that is around them is important.”
Kanabar says Noq’s unique selling point is that the app is “ultimately a hybrid blend between a marketplace app as well as a branding solution”.
Notetracks founder and CEO Kam Lal was next in line to deliver his pitch on what was dubbed ‘Asana for video and audio’.
Lookport is “the biggest video livestreaming platform in Eastern Europe”
The platform to share music, video, audio projects and gather feedback and notes.
“The problem we aim to solve is working on audio and video files remotely. Currently, you know the tools are very fragmented and there’s a disconnected workflow – it’s not very collaborative. So our solution is one workspace where you could review and collaborate in a seamless environment and gather feedback.”
Lookport’s Alex Wolf was next to the stand to tell delegates about “the biggest video livestreaming platform in Eastern Europe” which has hosted 150 livestreams throughout the pandemic and boasts more than 90 million views.
Wolf said the unique selling point of Lookport is that it provides a full service, from promoting the event, to producing it, to selling tickets, and then streaming the show.
“Lockport is a completely web based solution and you don’t need to then launch any specific application, we created our own web player so users can watch our content from any device. The player can also be embedded into any web page or landing site.”
“It is next to impossible today to receive audience data for an artist or event team all in one place”
Last but by no means least, Aivar took to the virtual stage to pitch FanSifter.
“It is next to impossible today to receive audience data for an artist or event team all in one place, in one format because data is locked into silos both in music and live. To get that data out of the silos is now more important than ever because, with cookie-based targeting and advertising sunsetting, artists and all the partners, management teams, promoters, labels, merch stores, even brands need to collaborate on these first party audience data sets, have to comply to GDPR and other privacy laws. FanSifter exists to solve this with a collaborative and privacy-compliant customer data platform.”
ESNS announces keynote with Dua Lipa’s manager
Dutch conference and showcase festival Eurosonic Noorderslag (ESNS) has announced a keynote interview with Wendy Ong, Dua Lipa’s manager and US president of Tap Music and Tap Records.
Ong will be in conversation with artist manager and board member of Music Managers Forum (MMF) Netherlands, Lijne Kreupeling, discussing the evolving profession of modern artist management.
As president of Tap Management and Tap Records US, Ong oversees all US-related management and label activities for a diverse roster of artists including Lana Del Rey, Dua Lipa, Ellie Goulding, Hailee Steinfeld, and more.
The US music manager and executive is the latest addition for the 35th edition of the Groningen-based festival, which will take place digitally between 13 to 16 January.
The digital edition will consist of Eurosonic, the showcase festival for emerging European talent; an online edition of the Music Moves Europe Talent Awards ceremony; the celebration of native talent, Noorderslag; and this year’s conference, titled Road to Recovery.
Ong oversees all US-related management and label activities for artists including Lana Del Rey, Ellie Goulding and Hailee Steinfeld
Highlights of the Road to Recovery programme include:
- Keynote Steve Strange (X-Ray Touring) with Michael Chugg (Michael Chugg Entertainment).
- Successful Covid festival formats, moderated by IQ’s Gordon Masson.
- Stop touting in Europe with Scumeck Sabottka (MCT Agentur).
- Tom Windish and Mike Malak in conversation with Cherie Hu.
- Keynote with Neil Warnock (UTA’s head of global music touring) with Greg Parmley (ILMC, IFF, IQ).
Other confirmed speakers for the conference include: Annabella Coldrick (Music Managers Forum), Beverley Whitrick (Music Venues Trust), Claire O’Neill (A Greener Festival), Eric van Eerdenburg (Lowlands/MOJO), Fruzsina Szep (Goodlive), Hannah Shgbola (Echo Location), Helen Sildna (Tallinn Music Week), Helen Smith (Impala), Henrick Bondo (Roskilde Festival), Jess Partridge (Face-value European Alliance for Ticketing), Keith Harris (Keith Harris Music Ltd), Michal Kascak (Pohoda Festival). See the full conference programme here.
Tickets for Eurosonic Noorderslag 2021 are available at a discounted price of €50, which includes access to the digital environment with live streams, on-demand panels, keynotes, sessions and showcases, access to a networking platform and database. The showcase part of the festival will be completely free.
Studio 2054: Backstage at the biggest live stream yet
Last weekend, Dua Lipa became the latest global megastar to dip a roller skate into the livestreaming water with her first ticketed virtual show, Studio 2054.
Described as a ‘“kaleidoscopic, rocket-fuelled journey through time, space, mirror balls, roller discos, bucket hats, belting beats, throbbing basslines and an absolute slam dunk of the best times in global club culture”, Studio 2054 eschewed the computer-generated digital FX seen at previous similar events for a neon extravaganza that strutted its way through multiple physical spaces in a specially constructed set at London’s Printworks.
Featuring guest appearances from the likes of Kylie Minogue, Miley Cyrus and Sir Elton John, the 28 November show is believed to have attracted the biggest-ever audience for a paid live stream, with over five million people tuning in live, according to a post-event release put out by organisers.
But what turned out to the biggest streaming event to date wasn’t originally an easy sell to the star involved, says Lipa’s manager, Ben Mawson of Tap Music. “Initially, Dua told me, ‘I don’t want to do one,’” recalls Mawson, who originally pitched Lipa the show that became Studio 2054 shortly after another Tap client, Ellie Goulding, wrapped up her debut live stream, The Brightest Blue Experience, in late August. “She said, ‘I’m waiting for live to come back.’
“I told her to think of it like a movie, or a live music video, and that captured her interest. And in the end she really enjoyed the experience, being back performing live.”
“There’s a lot of cost that goes into into explaining to an audience that it’s not just another live stream”
For the artist, meanwhile, preparations for Studio 2054 began in earnest a few weeks before the (non-socially distanced) show, when Lipa formed a ‘bubble’ with her dancers and other live performers, spending two weeks in a “quarantine house” to ensure the event’s Covid safety.
Tap estimates that 5m is a conservative estimate for the total viewers, with over 2m people tuning in in China alone. Another major hotspot was India, where Tap and livestreaming partner LiveNow struck a deal with domestic music streaming platform Gaana to provide the show to its subscribers, of whom 95,000 accessed the stream on Friday night alone, and numbers have grown since.
In China, meanwhile, a deal was done with another local streaming giant, Tencent, with fans able to watch the stream via QQ Music, Kugou, Kuwo and WeSing.
“Unless you count pre-internet events like Live Aid, I think we may well be the most-viewed live stream to date,” says Mawson.
Total ‘hard’ ticket sales for Studio 2054 current stand at around 284,000, although LiveNow is still selling on-demand tickets for the show, so that number will likely go up in the coming days.
The final general-admission tickets for the live event were priced at £13.99/€13.99, while catch-up passes are available for a discounted £7.50 until Sunday (6 December).
Tom Middleditch, chief product officer of LiveNow, says it’s crucial that ticketed streamed events like Studio 2054 go off without a hitch. “When people are paying for tickets, the experience has to be good,” he explains. “Livestreaming can always go wrong, but this was about as seamless as it can get.”
“When people are paying for tickets, the experience has to be good”
“I was terrified of the stream freezing,” adds Mawson. “I’ve tuned into some of the other big live streams and a few had major problems. Dua places huge importance on her fans’ experience, so it was key we didn’t get any complaints from users, and we didn’t.”
Middleditch reveals that, at its peak, the broadcast had viewers in 150 countries, with LiveNow’s platform localised towards fans depending on where they were in the world. “I have a lot of experience in sports, so I’m used to high peaks,” he says, “but when you have so many people [watching simultaneously all across the world] it’s a different challenge.”
For Mawson, it was important that Studio 2045 offered a fan experience beyond that of a basic livestreamed concert, as The Brightest Blue Experience – filmed inside the Edwardian V&A Museum in London – had in August.
“It’s hard because you’ve got to get balance right between the scale of idea and the costs,” explains Mawson. “You can’t just say to people, ‘Your favourite artist is doing a performance online,’ because everyone’s doing it, and they’re free.
“The model now has to almost like a TV special, with creative and marketing behind it – there’s a lot of cost that goes into into educating and explaining to an audience that it is an experience that they’re going to want to see, rather than just another live stream.”
The show’s marketing was helped no end by Lipa herself, Mawson says, who was tireless in her promotional efforts in the run-up to Studio 2054. “She kept putting trailers up, announcing guests… It was a very good marketing roll-out that helped to get the word out there.”
“The most important thing was that we didn’t do a show that’s ‘just’ a live show”
“The most important thing, as a manager, was that we didn’t do a show that’s ‘just’ a live show – it wasn’t just a concert in an arena that you can’t go to because of Covid,” Mawson continues. “The focus was on doing something different, and letting fans know we’re bringing something new to the market.”
Equally key to the show’s success was getting the price point right – something both Mawson and Middleditch believe the Studio 2054 team achieved, and which is borne out by the number of people who tuned in. “I’ve seen other shows priced much higher, and that affected their viewer numbers,” says Mawson. “Dua was the right pricing.”
“No one complained about the price, which is very unusual for this kind of event,” Middleditch adds.
While undoubtedly a successful second effort for the Tap-LiveNow partnership, Mawson says there’s still room for improvement with future live streams, noting that while the show “got massive visibility” in certain territories, there were some that underperformed. “I want to get better at the international thing,” he says, given that “Dua is the number-one star in the world”.
“There’s a lot music can learn from sport” when it comes to realising the full potential of the livestreaming model, adds Middleditch. “[Live streams are] never going to replace live – seeing something live is better than watching it on any device – but these kind of events provide so many opportunities for artists and fans.” Whether it’s instead of, or an addition to, an in-person live show, “people will be able to see artists live that they never could previously,” he concludes.
India: State of Hindipendents
If there were an award for the greatest potential touring market, India would be on that stage, brandishing the trophy, year in, year out. With a population nudging 1.4 billion and projected to surpass that of China by 2022, India is about as vast as countries get. Nonetheless, when a big band comes to town, the comparative rarity of the event still makes global headlines.
U2’s show in December at Mumbai’s DY Patil Stadium, the very last stop on the fifth leg of The Joshua Tree Tour, wasn’t the first superstar show to come to India – far from it: The Stones played Mumbai and Bangalore in 2003, while Beyoncé and Shakira came in 2007, Metallica in 2011, Coldplay in 2016, and Ed Sheeran in 2015 and 2017, with other significant visitors in between.
But each major concert fires up the expectation that India’s biggest cities could soon become routine destinations for the world’s biggest artists. And U2’s show before a crowd of 42,590, staged by local ticketing giant BookMyShow in partnership with Live Nation, got the country dreaming once more.
“There were a lot of reservations from everybody coming into India,” says BookMyShow CEO and founder Ashish Hemrajani, who freely concedes that India has failed to meet international expectations for live shows in the past. “It was the first outing for U2 here; it was the first show of this scale and magnitude; it was the last show of the tour. There was a lot riding on it and everyone was on tenterhooks.”
BookMyShow has been scaling up its promoting exploits in recent years, bringing Cirque du Soleil, NBA pre-season games, an adapted Hindi Aladdin and the Coldplay-headlined Mumbai edition of the Global Citizen festival, but Hemrajani says U2 represented a new level and a new set of pressures.
“There were a lot of reservations from everybody coming into India”
“We have got a great team in India, but nothing prepares you for dealing with Arthur Fogel, with Jake Berry and the whole team,” he says. “But if you talk to the folks that we dealt with, they were very pleasantly surprised by the level of professionalism they found.”
More than anyone else in the Indian business, Hemrajani has both a vision and a platform to bring about a revolution in the nation’s live entertainment offering. BookMyShow sells between 35% and 50% of all cinema tickets in a cinema-mad nation (“we are a hot, dusty country, which is an assault on all your senses, and cinema is the cheapest, most comfortable form of indoor entertainment,” he explains), and played a part in the massive success of the Indian Premier League (IPL) of cricket. If Hemrajani judges that India is ripe for some concert-going, the chances are he knows what he is talking about.
The same feeling has recently been in the air across the country. The preceding month, also at DY Patil Stadium, Katy Perry and Dua Lipa inaugurated the OnePlus Music Festival, along with local acts Amit Trivedi, Ritviz, as we keep searching and The Local Train. Both of the top-billers were new to the market, and again, the show was an unconventional labour of love, this time organised by the local operation of Chinese smartphone brand OnePlus, which rivals Samsung and Apple in India.
As OnePlus India general manager Vikas Agarwal told India’s The Telegraph newspaper: “[We were] not looking to organise everything by ourselves, but the country [was] not yet ready to organise such a large-scale event. [So] starting from the artist selection to the whole conceptualisation of the event, logistics – everything was done for the first time by the brand. I hope more such events will be organised in India.”
And then, of course, came Covid-19, to which we will inevitably return in a minute.
“The folks that we dealt with were very pleasantly surprised by the level of professionalism they found”
Still a mostly rural nation of numerous languages and cultures, heavily regionalised laws and huge inequality, India has always had more pressing priorities than slotting conveniently into a Western live music model. All the same, its entertainment market is highly evolved. The homegrown cinema industry enjoys a sophisticated, mostly mobile ticketing infrastructure, spearheaded by BookMyShow, with strong competition lately from Alibaba-backed Paytm. Both have diverse businesses and are busy across many sectors, including cricket, theatre, food and mobile payments.
Online ticketing was reckoned to be worth $330 million in 2017, according to Indian management consultant RedSeer, whose prediction of $580m in revenues this year has sadly been scuppered by recent events. In the past, the lion’s share of online ticket sales (55%), was for movies, with sport on 25% and events taking the remaining 20%, though both the latter categories are growing.
EDM, in particular, has found a booming home in India, where there is a large network of clubs and established festivals, from OML’s multi-city Bacardi NH7 Weekender to the monster Sunburn in Pune.
“The electronic music scene in the country has developed into its own industry and it’s spread to wider parts of the country,” says Dev Bhatia of dance music management and booking agency UnMute. “Having said that, I still feel we’re barely scratching the surface. Considering India will [soon] have five to six hundred million people under the age of 35 with cell phones and accessibility, the potential is endless.”
That potential is currently on pause. At the time of writing, India was attempting to relax its notably strict lockdown conditions even as it faced a record spike in Covid-19 infections. In a country where many millions of informal workers live on a daily wage, the economy can’t stand idle for long.
Continue reading this feature in the digital edition of IQ 90, or subscribe to the magazine here
Strong start for Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia
Dua Lipa sold more than 15,000 tickets in a single morning yesterday (6 December) when the Spanish leg of her Future Nostalgia European arena tour went on sale, according to promoter Mercury Wheels.
The Spanish dates, beginning at the 15,500-capacity WiZink Center in Madrid on 26 April, mark the start of the tour, which will visit more than 20 European cities before wrapping up at 3Arena in Dublin on 19 June.
In addition to WiZink Center, Lipa (pictured) will play the Palau Sant Jordi (17,000-cap.) in Barcelona two days later, on 28 April.
A share of all proceeds from tickets sold will go to Unicef and the Sunny Hill Foundation, set up by Dua and her father Dugi in Kosovo.
The Lipas were the keynote interviewees at the inaugural Futures Forum at ILMC this March, where they spoke about the foundation, Dua’s career so far and using Dua’s platform to help her fans and other young women.
Tap Music to raise £100k for mental health charities
Tap Music, whose management arm looks after the likes of Dua Lipa, Lana Del Rey and Ellie Goulding, has announced plans to raise £100,000 for mental health charities.
The global music group, which comprises Tap Management, Tap Music Publishing and Tap records, is fundraising for peer-to-peer online charity My Black Dog and suicide prevention charity Campaign Against Living Miserably (Calm).
“After the death of two close friends from suicide within weeks of each other earlier this year, we decided we wanted to do something to help awareness and funds for these two wonderful charities that do such incredible work saving lives,” says Tap Music co-founder Ben Mawson.
“I was shocked to discover how prevalent suicide is – an average of over 100 deaths/week last year in the UK – particularly tragic because so many of these deaths must be avoidable it the right help was present.”
Artists including Dua Lipa and Professor Green echo the company’s call for action.
“It’s painfully ironic that music has such power to make us happy but musicians themselves can often suffer disproportionately from mental health issues,” comments Lipa. “I have benefitted so much from this industry but I see around me every day what others can suffer: the fear of failure, loneliness and the intense pressures of social media, which I think is especially the case for female artists. It’s time for the music industry to start taking the mental health of artists seriously.
“It’s painfully ironic that music has such power to make us happy but musicians themselves can often suffer disproportionately from mental health issues”
“Mental health is the issue of our generation and it’s time the music industry woke up to it,” continues the One Kiss singer. “I’m so proud my management team is raising awareness and funds and calling this out as the crisis it is.”
Calm patron Professor Green, real name Stephen Manderson, also spoke out, saying that the “schedule and sleep deprivation” he experienced in the music industry “lead to a place of unhappiness and isolation”.
“It’s time we find a way to put support in place for people who need it,” says Manderson.
Tap embarked on a 24-hour cycle ride from London to Paris on 4 October to kickstart the fundraising initiative.
A 5-a-side charity football tournament featuring industry representatives from Live Nation, Creative Artists Agency (CAA), Paradigm, United Talent Agency and WME, among others, will take place later this week.
To donate to Tap Music’s fundraising efforts, click here.
Read more about how the music business is fighting mental illness here:
Katie Vinten launches Black Diamond Management
Management veteran Katie Vinten, who has steered the career of some of the biggest songwriters in pop, has formed Black Diamond Artist Management, with an initial roster that includes Justin Tranter (Justin Bieber, Imagine Dragons, Bebe Rexha, Selena Gomez), Zach Skelton (Jonas Brothers, Lil Nas X), Boy Matthews (Gallant, Hayden James) and The Voice’s Caroline Pennell.
The launch of Black Diamond – which initially serves only writers and producers, though Vinten notes she is “on the look-out for that special recording artist client – comes nearly ten months after she formed Facet Records, an imprint of Warner Bros, and Facet Publishing, both alongside Tranter.
“I’ve always loved black diamonds,” comments Vinten. “One of the first times I went skiing, I decided to forego the intermediate trail and try the black diamond after some quiet, teasing nudging from my biggest fan – my now-husband – Aaron Vinten. I went flying off my skis, but I got back up. I’ll never forget the experience. I made it.
“As manager, exec and publisher, I’m serving clients by showing them their greatest potential”
“I try to recapture that feeling as much as possible in my life. I realised you can do so much more than you think you can – you just have to try.
“As a manager, record executive and publisher, I’m serving clients by showing them their greatest potential.”
Facet Publishing – like Vinten and Black Diamond based in Los Angeles – represents songwriters including Kennedi Lykken (Ariana Grande, Dua Lipa, Chainsmokers, Jonas Brothers), Jason Gil (Katy Perry), Brandon Colbein (Zayn, Hayley Kiyoko) and the Roommates (Aaron Carpenter).
From CTS to Post Malone: IQ 83 out now
The latest issue of IQ landed in many subscribers’ laps today, offering readers a full round-up of this year’s International Live Music Conference (ILMC), as well as an in-depth look at the most important industry trends, figures and events of the past few months.
For those who missed the 31st edition of ILMC, the conference’s biggest year yet, or want to relive the highlights, IQ 83 provides a report of panels on ticketing, festivals, Brexit and diversity, as well as a look back at Roger Daltrey’s Breakfast meeting, complete with anecdotes from the Who’s early touring days.
The magazine also covers the ILMC Production Meeting (IPM), the Green Events and Innovations Conference (GEI) and the inaugural Futures Forum, in which IQ editor-in-chief Gordon Masson sat down with international star Dua Lipa and her father Dugi to discuss work ethics, women and the pair’s native Kosovo.
IQ’s latest edition marks the 30th anniversary of live events powerhouse CTS Eventim with an in-depth exploration of the company’s history and a look into the man behind the business, Klaus-Peter Schulenberg (KPS). And beyond the history of the company, we ask what’s in store for the new Eventim Live initiative.
The 83rd edition of IQ Magazine – the essential publication for the international live music business – is out now
Elsewhere, IQ 83 focuses on the Swiss live entertainment market, which has become ever more lucrative and attractive to transnational industry conglomerates, placing a strain on some established, independent operators.
The issue also reveals the secrets behind sell-outs, as some of the world’s most popular festivals spill the beans on how they consistently achieve a full house, despite an increasingly saturated and competitive festival market.
Another sell-out success story, IQ 83 talks to those behind rapper Post Malone’s popular world tour, which has sold out arenas across the Europe and South America.
To get your fix of essential live music industry features, comment and analysis in premium print format, click here to subscribe to IQ now.
Dua Lipa: ‘Women have to work harder to be heard’
Dua Lipa played an astonishing 245 shows during the touring cycle for her debut album, the Grammy- and Brit-winning star revealed at the inaugural Futures Forum in London on Friday.
Lipa was interviewed alongside her father, Dukagjin ‘Dugi’ Lipa, by IQ editor Gordon Masson for The Futures Forum Keynote: Dugi & Dua Lipa, the final session of the new one-day event for young live music professionals, which took place as part of the 31st International Live Music Conference (ILMC) on Friday 8 March.
Described by Masson as the “hardest-working person in pop”, Dua called the period around the release of 2017’s Dua Lipa – when she played 245 concerts and festival shows, progressing from small venues in her native UK to arenas in Europe, the US and Asia – as a “whirlwind” and “the craziest three years of my life”.
Dua recalled one of her earliest shows, at the 450-capacity Rescue Rooms in Nottingham, when Tap Management had to “bribe” patrons to come and see the future star. “There was no one there,” she said. “My manager had to ask [a group of people] if he bought them a drink, would they come and see his show?
“It wasn’t so bad, because I wasn’t expecting anyone to be there anyway – and it definitely managed my expectations.”
Dugi also spoke about his own rock’n’roll roots as frontman of cult group Oda, who achieved popularity in the ’90s, especially among the music-loving Kosovar and Albanian diaspora. (Lipa Snr was born in the former Yugoslavia, in what is now Kosovo, while Dua was born in London but attended school in Pristina.)
After having a no 1 hit in Yugoslavia aged 16, Dugi moved to the UK and formed a band in London. “We made a couple of songs, played a couple of gigs, and people started to show interest,” he told Masson, “so we decided to make an album.
“We created a mini-studio in my friend’s bedroom to record this album, then we made 1,000 CDs. They took up half the flat we were living in! My wife and I were thinking, ‘What are we going to do with all these?’, but they went quickly. So we started to order more, and do more promotion and PR – we probably sold about 20,000 CDs, without knowing what we were doing at all.
“More often than not, I’ll say, ‘That’s the best show I’ve ever done’, and then I’ll end up saying it again two days later”
“We created a cult band, and with no Instagram, no Facebook, no Twitter… it was all organic, with people buying CDs they could hold in their hands.”
Dua has also always been grateful for the support of Kosovars, she said, whose backing boosted her early career. “When I first put out my song ‘New Love’ on YouTube, everyone was really impressed by how many hits we got,” she joked, “but if you looked at the stats they were all from Kosovo!”
Lipa, who is currently recording album #2, said she makes all her music “with the live environment in mind”. “This new album is more conceptual; I guess when I’m in that world [the recording studio] I’m really thinking about the live show.” The next tour, she added, will feature “something new and something different. Hopefully now I’ll get to do shows that are a bit bigger and stages that are a bit bigger, and we’ll get to play around a bit more with that.”
On her fans, she continued: “I’m so fortunate: more often than not, I’ll say, ‘That’s the best show I’ve ever done’, and then I’ll end up saying it again two days later. The fans that come to my shows are really special.”
Futures Forum took place on International Women’s Day 2019, and Dua also used the Lipas’ keynote to illustrate the struggle faced by young female artists trying to break into the industry.
“As women, we have to work harder to be heard and appreciated,” she said. “It’s just one of those things – when you’re a female artist, unless you’re playing a piano or a guitar people think you’re manufactured, and you have to take some time to show people your stories and what you’ve gone through. Sometimes it just takes a little bit more explanation and a little more time, but it’s something I’m willing and ready to do to be heard.
“I try to use my platform to speak out; I’ve always been quite outspoken and never been afraid to say things that are true to me. I feel a duty to be a voice for my fans, because they’ve given that [platform] to me.”
In addition to helping to shape Dua’s career alongside her management, Tap’s Ben Mawson and Ed Millett, and running London-based PR company Mercy & Wild, Dugi is also founder of the Sunny Hill Foundation, which boasts Dua as a patron.
“When you’re a female artist, unless you’re playing a piano or a guitar people think you’re manufactured”
Last year, the father-daughter duo organised the inaugural Sunny Hill Festival in Pristina – Kosovo’s first major music festival – which aimed to put the young country on the cultural map while raising funds for underprivileged groups.
“Our first fanbase came from the Kosovar and Albanian diaspora […] so we wanted to give something back,” explained Dugi, who said the festival, which was headlined by Dua, Action Bronson and Martin Garrix, grew out of Dua’s shows in Pristina and Albania’s capital, Tirana, in 2017, which raised €100,000 for various causes, including music schools and festivals, as well as autism and Down’s syndrome charities.
“As much as wanted to help with arts funding, people in Kosovo also need a bit more than that,” added Dua.
Masson closed by asking the Lipas about the wealth of ethnic-Albanian talent, including Kosovar-British star Rita Ora and Albanian Americans Bebe Rexha and Action Bronson, lighting up the charts internationally, and whether it’s still necessary to relocate to a more mature market to achieve success.
No, said Dua: “Something I didn’t have that I needed was to be somewhere where everything is happening, and that for me was London.
“But now, with the power of Spotify, Apple Music and other streaming platforms, you can be anywhere and have your music heard.”
Dugi and Dua Lipa’s Futures Forum keynote followed the previous day’s ILMC keynote interview with Who frontman Roger Daltrey.