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International booking agency Pitch & Smith divides

European booking agency Pitch & Smith (P&S) has effectively split in two, with three former agents breaking away to launch new venture Playbook Artists.

Launched by Eleanor McGuinness, Nikita Lavrinenko and Paul McGivern, the new agency brings together more than 45 years of experience as well as a roster that includes Angel Olsen, Weyes Blood, Son Lux, Andy Shauf, This Is the Kit and Cut Copy.

Meanwhile, P&S founders Stefan Juhlin and Kalle Lundgren Smith will remain at the company along with team members based in London.

Juhlin tells IQ it was a mutual decision for the two parties to go their separate ways: “For Kalle and myself, we felt this was a good time to go back to where we once started, putting all our time and energy on fewer artists, with a very simple and straightforward organisation behind it. We’re confident this will benefit everyone, both ourselves and our artists.”

“For Kalle and myself, we felt this was a good time to go back to where [P&S] once started”

P&S will now be headquartered in Stockholm, where it was founded in 2007, with a roster that includes Caribou, José González and Toro Y Moi.

The agency will work will continue to work with the three former agents at Playbook, which will launch offices in London, Berlin and Dublin ‘to bring their international perspective to the European/UK live circuit’.

“The last year has been tough for the industry as a whole, but this feels like the perfect opportunity to collaboratively bring together the best of our experiences and shared values, and build something new with friends and partners,” says Playbook’s Paul McGivern.

“I don’t know two harder-working or more engaged agents than Eleanor and Nikita and I’m proud to be partners with them in the launch of PlayBook Artists.”

“We are all determined to bring new approaches and concepts to life and rethink what a modern, artist-focused agency can be”

Eleanor adds: “It’s important to all of us to support the independent network, especially after the challenges of the last year, and the years yet to come. Paul, Nikita and I come from a similar background of working independently, and we are very proud of that and the long term approach we have to our artists.”

Nikita comments: “It’s easy to get caught up in a “doom and gloom” mentality when the times are difficult. That’s why I love seeing excitement, energy and new ideas sprawling out conversations I have with Eleanor and Paul. We are all determined to come out of this stronger, bring new approaches and concepts to life and rethink together what a modern, artist-focused agency can be these days.”

The three partners will be joined by former Pitch & Smith agent assistant Duncan Smith, who will assume the role of agent with a roster that includes Happyness, Shopping, Lime Garden, LICE, Home Counties, and new signing Clara Mann.

Playbook follows the launch of Field Booking, Arrival ArtistsMint Talent Group and TBA Agency in the US, as well as Marshall Live AgencyMother ArtistsOne Fiinix LiveRoute One Booking and Runway Artists in the UK and Rebel Beat Agency in Spain, in 2020, amid a wider fragmentation of the global agency sector in response to the coronavirus shutdown.


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Aiken unveils new Vision for Dublin’s Vicar St

Ireland’s Aiken Promotions has unveiled Vision, a six-part online video series filmed at its 1,500-capacity Vicar Street venue in Dublin.

Partially funded with a grant from the government of the Republic of Ireland, Vision – hosted by comedian and TV presenter Tommy Tiernan – aims to celebrate Vicar St, says Aiken Promotions founder Peter Aiken. The venue, like nearly all others in Europe, has been largely closed since the dawn of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020.

“Opening the doors at Vicar St for those two weeks of filming and working together was great, even with only the performers, crew and venue staff present,” explains Aiken. “Ultimately, though, it was a bittersweet experience as it reminded us how much we all miss working at live shows – it’s impossible to recreate the buzz of an audience actually being the venue to witness another memorable performance.

“Aiken Promotions looks forward to a time when we can welcome everyone back to Vicar St”

“It was palpable how difficult things remain for everyone in the sector, so to have to turn the lights off again and walk away was heart-breaking.

“Obviously, there is no way to replicate the true essence of being at a live gig but with this special series, we hope we have created something that reminds us all of the magic we are missing.”

So far, two episodes of Vision have been released, the first featuring Christy Moore, Lankum and Lisa O’Neill and the second (embedded above) with Villagers, Cmat and comedian David O’Doherty.

“While the vision of future live entertainment might be still hazy, Aiken Promotions look forward to a time when we can welcome everyone back to Vicar St, along with all the other venues across Ireland,” adds Aiken.


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Irish biz calls for clarity as govt floats dry shows

Figures from across the live music industry have asked for consistency in how live events are treated in the Republic of Ireland, where just six people are currently allowed to gather even in the country’s biggest venues.

At press time, cultural businesses such as museums, cinemas, theatres and art galleries are allowed to welcome 50 people indoors because they are deemed to be “controlled environments”. All other indoor events – including concerts – are subject to the so-called ‘rule of six’, or a maximum capacity of six people.

Speaking to RTÉ Radio 1 on Wednesday, Indiependence festival promoter Shane Dunne said: “It’s quite ironic at the moment that I can have the same number of people in my kitchen as I can in the 3Arena [in Dublin], which has 9,500 seats.”

Brian Byrne, director of Wexford-based Lantern Presents, says recent reductions in capacity limits have scuppered his ability to put on socially distanced events.

“We had planned for 500-capacity socially distanced shows and then it changed; then we planned 200 and the guidelines changed again. So we planned for 50 indoors, but guidelines changed again – so it is frustrating,” he tells the Irish Mirror.

“At the moment I can have the same number of people in my kitchen as I can in the 3Arena”

Adding that there are now “contradictions” in government guidelines for different activities, he continues: “If I do a gig in a theatre, I can have 50 people. But if I do a gig in my own venues, I can have six.

“One of the venues we use is a church – a lovely venue. If I do a music event there this weekend I can only have six people at it. But if I go to mass there the next day, there can be 100 people at mass in the same building.”

Meanwhile, the Republic’s ministers for the arts and health met on Monday (7 September) to discuss provisional plans to restart live entertainment – if alcohol is not served on the premises.

According to the Irish Times, health secretary Martin is “keen to increase the levels of audience and artists at events beyond the current restrictions, and will examine if banning alcohol from such events could facilitate them being held.”

There were 196 daily cases of Covid-19 in Ireland yesterday (10 September).


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Festival Fever: latest wave of line-up announcements

In the most recent edition in a series of 2020 line-up announcements, IQ rounds up the festival billings from Rolling Loud Portugal, Jazzopen Stuttgart, Nos Primavera Sound Porto, Balaton Sound, Mallorca Live and Fest Festival.

(See the previous edition of Festival Fever here.)


Rolling Loud Portugal

When: 8 to 10 July
Where: Praia da Rocha, Portimão, Portugal

The Rolling Loud festival brand is making its European debut this summer in the Algarve region of Portugal.

The beachside festival is headlined by ASAP Rocky, Future and Wiz Khalifa, with performances from artists including AJ Tracey, Roddy Ricch, Dababy, Young Thug, Tyga, Playboi Carti, D-Block Europe and Giggs.

In an Instagram post, Rolling Loud co-founder Tariq Cherif warned that capacity is “limited” for the festival due to the beach setting, and advised fans to act quickly to purchase tickets.

Founded in 2015 by Cherif and Matt Zingler, Rolling Loud has expanded from its flagship Miami festival to take place in the Bay Area, Los Angeles, New York and Sydney, Australia. An inaugural Rolling Loud Hong Kong was called off earlier this year.

The pre-sale for Rolling Loud Portugal starts on Thursday 6 February at 8 a.m. Remaining tickets go on sale at 8 a.m. the following day here.

The Rolling Loud festival brand is making its European debut this summer

Jazzopen Stuttgart

When: 9 to 19 July
Where: Stuttgart, Germany
How many: 50,000 (whole festival)

Founded in 1994, the Jazzopen Stuttgart has hosted the likes of Quincy Jones, Bob Dylan, Lauryn Hill, Jamiroquai, BB King, Herbie Hancock, James Brown and Joss Stone over the years.

The 2020 edition will see artists including Sting, Lenny Kravitz, Van Morrison, Yusuf/Cat Stevens, John Legend, Jessie J, Jamie Cullum and Corinne Bailey Rae grace the main stage.

Staged in multiple venues ranging from 250- to 7,000-capacity, fans will be able to see acts such as Nils Frahm, Herbie Hancock, Arturo Sandoval, James Carter Organ Trio, Emmet Cohen and Rymden over the course of ten days.

“In the last 10 years we expanded the jazzopen from a regional event to one of the leading international jazz festivals with 50.000 ticket sales annually,” comments festival director Juergen Schlensog.

“This was only possible by means of a strong sponsoring. Daimler, Mastercard and Allianz accompany the festival alongside other valuable partners and brands. The UK market is of vital importance for us, as we book all major acts in direct exchange with local agents in the UK and USA.”

Tickets for Jazzopen Stuttgart 2020 are available here, with full festival passes priced from €700. Tickets for individual shows are also available for a range of prices, with some free-to-access concerts.

The 2020 edition will see artists including Sting, Lenny Kravitz and Van Morrison

Nos Primavera Sound Porto

When: 11 to 13 June
Where: Parque da Cidade, Porto, Portugal
How many: 30,000

The Portuguese sister event of Barcelona festival Primavera Sound has released the line-up for its ninth edition.

Tyler the Creator, Lana Del Rey, Pavement, FKA Twigs, Beck, Bad Bunny and King Krule are among those headlining the festival, which also features Chromatics, Earl Sweatshirt, Cigarettes After Sex and Kim Gordon.

Primavera Sound’s flagship Spanish event, which sold over 10,000 tickets in a day after announcing its line-up last month, will feature performances from the Stokes, Iggy Pop, Massive Attack, Lana Del Rey and Brittany Howard.

Tickets for Nos Primavera Sound Porto are available here, with a full festival pass priced at €120 (£102) and a day ticket at €60 (£51). Tickets for Primavera Sound Barcelona are still available here for €195 (£165).

The Portuguese sister event of Barcelona festival Primavera Sound has released the line-up for its ninth edition

Balaton Sound

When: 8 to 12 July
Where: Lake Balaton, Hungary
How many: 40,000

Balaton Sound, one of Europe’s largest open-air electronic music festivals, is back in 2020 following a record-breaking outing last year.

Over 170,000 fans attended the five-day event in 2019 to see artists including Tiesto, Marshmello, the Chainsmokers and Armin van Buuren.

The 2020 edition brings performances from the likes of Martin Garrix, DJ Snake, Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike, Kygo, Steve Aoki, Don Diablo, Sigala and Jonas Blue.

A special, Hollywood-themed VIP area will provide guests with a massage parlour, makeup lounge, exclusive pool parties and surprise shows.

Tickets for Balaton Sound 2020 are on sale now, with multi-day passes starting from €169 and going up to €325 for a five-day VIP ticket. Prices will increase on 14 February.

Over 170,000 fans attended the five-day event in 2019

Mallorca Live

When: 14 to 16 May
Where: Old Aquapark of Calvià, Mallorca, Spain
How many: 11,000

Mallorca Live festival is back in 2020 for its fifth year, with a headline performance from British electronic pop band Pet Shop Boys.

Crystal Fighters, Michael Kiwanuka, Miles Kane, Kate Tempest and Temples are among other acts performing at the festival.

Last year’s festival saw a record attendance of 33,500 people over three days, thanks to a festival site extension. A new fourth stage – Tròpic Stage – has been added for 2020, dedicated to electronic acts, featuring DJs including Marcel Dettman, dOP, Or:La and Red Axes.

Tickets for Mallorca Live festival can be purchased for €75 (£64) plus fees for the two-day pass (Friday and Saturday) and for €90 (£76) plus fees for the three-day pass here.

Crystal Fighters, Michael Kiwanuka and Kate Tempest are among other acts performing at the festival

Fest Festival

When: 13 to 15 August
Where: Silesia Park, Chorzów, Poland

Poland’s Fest Festival, one of the fastest-growing music festivals in eastern Europe, has announced the second wave of acts for its 2020 edition.

The festival’s second outing will be headlined by Mark Ronson, with performances from James Bay, Nothing But Thieves, Denzel Curry, Sigrid, Alice Glass, Sohn and Daughter.

Polish rappers Taco Hemingway and Mata have also been added to the line-up, along with local indie-rock band Sonbird.

Fest Festival was nominated for best new festival at the European Festival Awards 2019 and is up for the New Gig on the Block prize at the 2020 Arthur Awards, taking place at the International Live Music Conference in March.

Tickets for Fest Festival are available here for PLN 349 (£70), with prices set to increase on 14 February.

The festival’s second outing will be headlined by Mark Ronson

Forbidden Fruit Festival

When: 30 to 31 May
Where: Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Dublin, Ireland
How many: 10,000

Pod’s Forbidden Fruit Festival is celebrating its tenth anniversary edition in 2020 at its home in the grounds of the Irish Museum of Modern Art in the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Dublin.

The line-up for this year’s festival includes headliners Jorja Smith and Underworld, along with Peggy Gou, Loyle Carner, Hot Chip and the Avalanches.
The festival is returning to its roots this year, taking place over two days, rather than the three-day format preferred in previous editions. Organisers promise plenty of “birthday surprises” for their tenth year.

Weekend tickets are available here, priced at €124.50, with day tickets available for €69.50.


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MCD brings back Sunstroke festival for 2020

Faith No More and Deftones will headline Sunstroke when the ’90s alternative-rock festival returns to Ireland next summer.

Sunstroke, promoted by Denis Desmond’s MCD Productions, debuted in 1993 in Dublin’s Dalymount Park, when it was also headlined by Faith No More, according to RTE. The final Sunstroke took place at the Royal Dublin Society’s RDS Simmonscourt venue in 1995.

For its return in 2020, it will take place at Punchestown Racecourse near Naas – formerly also home to MCD’s Oxegen festival – on Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 June.

Other performers over three stages include the Jesus and Mary Chain, Gojira, Black Veil Brides and Killing Joke, as well as Bowling for Soup, While She Sleeps, Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes and Mongol-metal band the Hu.

Sunstroke 2020 line-up

Earlybird weekend tickets, priced at €129.50 (inc. booking fee) or €159.50 with camping, go on sale at 10am on 3 December.

MCD’s other festivals include the annual Longitude event, also in Dublin, as well as Love Sensation, Summer in the City and the Irish leg of Country to Country (C2C).


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Six countries, one genre: C2C makes 2020 return

AEG’s Country to Country (C2C) festival is returning in 2020 for the eighth edition of its flagship London event, alongside repeat editions in Ireland, Scotland, Germany, the Netherlands and Australia.

Luke Combs, Darius Rucker and Eric Church will headline C2C’s European festivals, alongside acts including the Cadillac Three, Tanya Tucker, Charles Esten, Brett Young and Old Dominion.

International touring series Introducing Nashville will be present at C2C for the first time this year, with acoustic performances from Abby Anderson, Eric Paslay and Tenille Townes.

C2C 2020 will take place from 13 to 15 March in London’s 20,000-capacity O2 Arena, which yesterday (22 October) celebrated reaching 25 million ticket sales. Simultaneous events will take place at Ireland’s 3Arena Dublin (13,000-cap.), promoted by MCD Productions, and the SSE Hydro (13,000-cap.) in Glasgow, Scotland, promoted by DF Concerts.

The country music festival is also returning to Afas Live Amsterdam (6,000-cap.) and AEG’s Verti Music Hall (4,350-cap.) in Berlin, following successful first outings last year. Greenhouse Talent will co-promote C2C Amsterdam, which takes place from 7 to 8 March, with Semmel Concerts taking charge of the Berlin edition on 6 to 8 March.

“C2C Festival 2020 continues to build on the massive success of Country to Country in the UK and across Europe”

“I am so proud to be part of the C2C family,” said Bob Harris OBE, the main stage host of the London event, at C2C’s line-up launch party at Country Music Week, which began on Monday.

“I can’t wait to listen to the best music in the world, enjoy the fantastic atmosphere of the main auditorium, catch the excitement of the pop-up stages and meet the incredible Country fans that make C2C so special.”

Chris York, C2C Festival promoter for SJM Concerts comments: “C2C Festival 2020 continues to build on the massive success of Country to Country in the UK and across Europe. We look forward to seeing all you passionate country fans in March once again.”

Tickets for all C2C’s European events go on sale on Friday 1 November at 10 a.m. (GMT).

More information about C2C Australia, which also returns for its second year in 2020, will be available at a later date. The Australian version of the event, promoted by AEG Presents and TEG Live, takes place in Sydney and Brisbane with a different line-up to other C2C events.

Read more about country music’s rise to global fame here.

Big country: How country music conquered the world

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IMRO celebrates Ireland’s best live music venues

The Irish Music Rights Organisation (IMRO) held its 11th Live Music Venue of the Year Awards in Dublin this week.

The Irish performing rights society held the ceremony at its headquarters in the country’s capital, celebrating the nation’s best venues, festivals and tech crews. Over 12,500 IMRO members voted for the awards. The ceremony was hosted by Paddy McKenna, the editor of Ireland’s male-targeted news website,

The Irish public voted to crown Dublin’s multi-purpose arts venue, the Sugar Club (350-cap.), as the national venue of the year.

In the regional categories, Dundalk pub the Spirit Store (230-cap.) won the prize for best venue in Leinster outside of Dublin, Monroe’s (180-cap.) in Galway was the best of Connacht and the An Grianán Theatre (383-cap.) won Ulster’s best venue. Live at St Luke’s in Cork, a live music venue in a former church, won the prize for Munster.

Other awards went to the nation’s best music festival (All Together Now, 15,000-cap.), best small music festival (Wexford Spiegeltent festival, 1,200-cap.) and best tech crew (Olympia Theatre, Dublin).

“We’re privileged in Ireland to have such a vibrant and eclectic live music scene, which is the backbone of the music industry as a whole”

Joe Clarke, the co-founder of CWD, a music-focused production, management and promotion company based in Dublin won the outstanding contribution to live music accolade. CWD currently manages Dublin rock band Bitch Falcon, Cork singer songwriter Jack O’Rourke and Irish producer and DJ Mark McCabe.

“We’re privileged in Ireland to have such a vibrant and eclectic live music scene, which is the backbone of the music industry as a whole,” says IMRO chief executive Victor Finn. “We feel it is vital to acknowledge the venues and festivals who support live music from a musician’s first performance right through to internationally known headline artists on main stages.”

Irish music and politics magazine, Hot Press, named Mike the Pies (100-cap.) in Listowel as its live venue of the year. The publication’s editor, Niall Stokes, also gave special commendations to Live at St Luke’s and the Chasin’ Bull in Bundoran.

Stokes says it is a “hugely optimistic moment for Irish music”, with “an extraordinary talent pool” represented at the awards.

“It is a deep love of music – as well as an entrepreneurial spirit and a sense of fun – which inspires a great venue,” says Stokes.


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Promoter warns fans over fake tickets scam

Promoter Peter Aiken issued a warning to fans about only buying tickets through official channels, after over 90 people bought fake tickets to two concerts in the last week.

He says more than 60 people who bought tickets for ZZ Top at Dublin’s 3Arena were denied entry because of fake tickets, while 30 had counterfeits for a Brian Wilson gig at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre in the city.

The Irish Times reports one man spent €1,000 on two tickets to see Brian Wilson, but had to be turned away when it was discovered they were false because the show was sold out.

In a statement, the promoter warned: “Following the ZZ Top and Brian Wilson Concerts in Dublin last week, Aiken Promotions would like to warn fans once again against purchasing tickets from secondary websites.

“At ZZ Top on Friday, at least 60 people turned up at the venue who had bought tickets through secondary websites. These tickets were not valid which caused distress and disappointment to these fans. Unfortunately it is not likely these people will get the money they paid refunded.

“As a promoter, it is extremely frustrating to see people being exploited like this and I would like to emphasise once again that fans should not purchase tickets from ANY secondary sellers.”


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Dublin judge rejects concert alcohol ban

An Irish judge has rejected calls for alcohol to banned at a number of high-profile summer concerts.

Twenty-five residents of south Dublin suburb Rathfarnham objected to a request for an alcohol licence by Events Bars and Catering for three MCD-promoted events in Marlay Park, citing alleged underage drinking, public urination and antisocial behaviour at previous concerts in the 300-acre park.

Michael Coghlan of Dublin District Court denied their objection, telling one resident that he must have known that Longitude Festival and concerts by The Stone Roses and Kodaline would not be a “teetotaller convention”, and that to consider a ban there would have to be specific incidents of alcohol-related criminal damage in the past or evidence of inadequate policing.

Judge Coghlan told the court: “I was interested to hear if there was a prevalence of public-order breaches, antisocial behaviour or violent incidents and the sergeant [Michael Phelan, who is co-ordinating the policing of the events] suggests that on the Richter scale things it was well down [at previous concerts].”

Judge Coghlan of denied their objection, telling one resident that he must have known that the shows would not be a “teetotaller convention”

The objectors provided the court with a list of complaints, and five Rathfarnham residents gave evidence, some fearing a repeat of the trouble that broke out during a Swedish House Mafia concert in Dublin’s Phoenix Park in 2012, when nine people were stabbed in a series of seemingly random, unprovoked attacks.

One, Niall O’Reilly, from Broadford, said his main concert is that for each show around 40,000 people will arrive in an area where the local population is less than 15,000.

Sergeant Phelan said there would be more gardai (police) on duty than at any previous Marlay Park concerts – 190 for the Stones Roses and Kodaline concerts and 180 for Longitude – and assured residents that “lessons have been learned from any problems previously experienced” at the venue.

Stabbed concertgoer settles with MCD

One of the many people who suffered injuries at the infamous Swedish House Mafia concert in Phoenix Park, Dublin, in 2012 has settled his claim for damages against the promoter of the event.

Dubliner Niall Davey sued Denis Desmond’s MCD Productions, as well as event management company Diffusion Events and security firms Swords Risk Services, Eventsec and Michael N. Slattery & Associates, for €60,000 in damages after being beaten and stabbed at the chaotic 7 July concert, at which a total of nine people were stabbed in a number of seemingly random, unprovoked attacks.

Davey’s barrister, Suzanne Walsh, did not disclose the terms of the settlement, which was made jointly with all defendants.

Irish prime minister (taoiseach) Enda Kenny described the events of the 7 July as “absolutely disgraceful, appalling and simply scandalous”. He also opined, like many others before and since, that the attacks may have been influenced by “the sort of music” played by progressive house act Swedish House Mafia.

One of the perpetrators, 24-year-old Raymond Donnan, was jailed for four years in 2014. At Donnan’s trial, a judge heard how the concert was “poorly marshalled”, particularly in relation to non-confiscation of alcohol.