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AMG announces 3,000-cap. venue in Scotland

Academy Music Group (AMG) has expanded in Scotland with the acquisition of the 3,000-capacity Edinburgh Corn Exchange.

A category B-listed building, the Corn Exchange – which under AMG’s ownership becomes O2 Academy Edinburgh – was built in 1909 and over the last two decades has become one of Edinburgh’s largest standing, multi-purpose venues. Its reputation for live music was cemented with a sell-out show with Blur in 1999, with performers since then including Foo Fighters, Biffy Clyro, Oasis, Coldplay, Faithless, Arctic Monkeys, Garbage, Grace Jones, Radiohead, Paulo Nutini, Pulp and Calvin Harris.

“We’ve been keen to expand our O2 Academy brand in Scotland for some time and we’re delighted to now be in Edinburgh,” says Graham Walters, chief operating officer of Academy Music Group. “It’s an inspiring city with a thriving appetite for music and culture.

“We see huge potential with this venue: it fits with our ethos of investing in heritage buildings, with the right capacity of 3,000 to bring world-class entertainment to the city. It also has a number of diverse secondary spaces, flexible formats and configurations that we’ll be looking at over the coming months to complement programming and events in the main auditorium.

Gareth Griffiths, head of sponsorship for O2, adds: “The new O2 Academy Edinburgh is a brilliant addition to our O2 Academy estate. It’s a beautiful venue and as entertainment begins to return this further demonstrates O2 and Academy Music Group’s commitment to enhancing the live industry in Scotland, one of the best places to watch music in the UK.”

“We’re delighted to now be in Edinburgh. It’s an inspiring city with a thriving appetite for music and culture”

Paul DeMarco, managing director of former owner Marco’s Leisure, says: “When Marco’s Leisure bought the Corn Exchange in Chesser 22 years ago, we started with a plan to be Edinburgh’s go-to concert venue and ran over 300 live shows, as well as welcoming three million visitors to gigs, conferences, banquets, weddings, exhibitions and parties, creating one of the busiest and most successful venues in Scotland.

“We are happy to pass on the baton to the top professionals in the live music industry, who will ensure it continues to play a major role in Scotland’s events industry for many more years to come. Marco’s will continue to operate and expand its leisure business.”

Edinburgh Corn Exchange becomes O2 Academy Edinburgh from tomorrow (1 September), adding to the existing UK portfolio of now 20 venues owned and operated by Academy Music Group, including Scotland’s O2 Academy Glasgow and London’s O2 Academy Brixton and O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire.

Academy Music Group has already invested in brand-new in-house sound and lighting production facilities at O2 Academy Edinburgh ahead of forthcoming shows, which include Declan McKenna (3 September), Tom Grennan (9 September), Chic and Nile Rogers (21 September), Yungblud (11 October), DMA’s (18 and 19 October), Rag’n’Bone Man (26 October), the Snuts (28 October), Bullet for My Valentine (1 November), Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes (23 November), Bicep (7 December), The Charlatans (21 December), Chvrches (13 March 2022), Jake Bugg (21 March), the War on Drugs (18 April), Gary Numan (9 May), Marina (17 May) and Beck (14 Jun).


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Drive Nation: LN UK unveils 2,100-cap. drive-in shows

Live Nation has announced a series of live drive-in concerts across 12 venues in the UK this summer, featuring acts including Dizzee Rascal, Gary Numan, Beverley Knight, the Streets, Sigala, Lightning Seeds, the Snuts and Kaiser Chiefs.

Drive-in concerts have proved to be a popular feature of lockdown life, with concertgoers getting their live music fix from the safety of their cars in countries including Germany, Denmark, the US, Lithuania and the Netherlands.

Now, the format is allowing the UK live industry to step back into the driving seat. Live Nation’s Utilita Live from the Drive-in series, which kicks off in mid-July, is more live music-focused than previously announced UK drive-in events, hosted by the likes of Mainstage Festivals and Live Nation-owned Ticketmaster.

The 300-carpacity (© 2020 IQ) concerts will be able to accommodate up to 2,100 people, with tickets available for two to seven people per car. Standard or premium tickets, which include guaranteed location in the front three rows and priority exit at end of show, will be available, with prices reportedly ranging from £25 to £100 per car.

Differing from many other drive-in shows and in a similar vein to Italy’s proposed bike-in concerts, concertgoers will be able to enjoy the performance through the full sound system – rather than car radio – in a dedicated area next to their vehicle. Fans are encouraged to bring folding chairs if they wish to sit during the gigs.

“The drive-in format is a thoughtful and fun way to safely bring one million Brits out of ‘entertainment lockdown’”

The shows will take place across 12 sites, including in the grounds of venues such as Birmingham Resorts World Arena and the National Bowl in Milton Keynes; at sports complexes including the University of Bolton football stadium and Cheltenhem and Newmarket racecourses; at airports in Bristol (Filton Airfield), Leeds (Leeds East Airport) and Teesside (Teesside International Airport); and various other outdoor event locations including the Royal Highland Centre in Edinburgh, Lincolnshire Showground and Central Docks Liverpool Waters.

Live Nation also plans to announce the London venues, as well as more artists and dates in due course.

“We are excited to bring Utilita Live From The Drive-In to fans across the UK,” comments Live Nation’s Peter Taylor. “This outdoor concert series was created as a way to reimagine the live music experience during a time of social distancing by allowing fans to enjoy concerts in the safest way possible.

“Each event will comply with all official government guidelines in order to protect fans, artists, crews and staff. We look forward to announcing some of the biggest names across UK music and bringing these fantastic artists to a city near you.”

“As we find new ways to navigate today’s world of social distancing,” adds Utilita CMO Jem Maidment, “we believe the drive-in format is a thoughtful and fun way to safely bring one million Brits out of ‘entertainment lockdown’ this summer 2020.”

Tickets for Utilita Live from the Drive-in go on sale at 10 a.m. on 22 June here. Further information on performers, entry prices, on-sale dates and restrictions can be found here.


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BST Hyde Park 2020 cancelled

AEG Presents’ British Summer Time (BST) Hyde Park will not take place this year, as the ongoing coronavirus pandemic claims another UK summer staple.

The festival, which was to take place over two weeks from 2 to 12 July, was set to feature headline acts including Post Malone, Little Mix, Kendrick Lamar, Pearl Jam, Taylor Swift and Duran Duran.

The cancellation follows that of All Points East festival, which was called off at the end of March.

“It is with great sadness that we have made the difficult decision to cancel BST Hyde Park 2020,” reads a statement from organisers.

“After closely following government actions and statements during the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as consulting with our partners The Royal Parks and wider agencies, we have concluded that this is the only possible outcome.”

“It is with great sadness that we have made the difficult decision to cancel BST Hyde Park 2020”

Ticketholders will contacted by ticketing agencies by 6 May with information on the refund process.

“We look forward to welcoming you back in 2021 and will be in touch about plans soon. In the meantime, please follow the advice and stay safe,” state organisers.

This year was to be the eighth outing for BST Hyde Park, combining two weekend of music with free-to-access midweek events. Over the years, BST has seen performances from acts including the Rolling Stones, Bon Jovi, Celine Dion, Stevie Wonder, Lionel Richie, the Cure, Black Sabbath and Barbra Streisand.

Other UK events to be called off this summer due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic include Glastonbury Festival, Isle of Wight Festival, Download, Lovebox, Parklife, Womad, Cambridge Folk Festival, Country to Country Festival, Radio One’s Big Weekend and Edinburgh Fringe Festival, as well as industry conferences including The Great Escape and the Ticketing Professionals Conference.


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Wee will rock you: Scotland market report

Let’s talk about Scottish independence. We’re referring, obviously, to Gerry Cinnamon, the staunchly indie, Glaswegian guitar-basher who has packed a career’s worth of touring milestones into the past two or three years.

There was the pair of sold-out shows at Glasgow’s Barrowland Ballroom in 2017 – the first unsigned artist to manage such a feat. Then Cinnamon really went up in the world, with two Christmas 2019 gigs at Glasgow’s SSE Hydro and one at Aberdeen’s 15,000-capacity P&J Arena – the biggest indoor show ever in Scotland. And, surely capping it all off, next summer’s show at Hampden Park: 50,000 tickets… all long gone.

“He grew up literally a stone’s throw away from Hampden, in Castlemilk,” says Geoff Ellis, CEO of DF Concerts. “We sold it out in a day.”

The fact that Cinnamon has also quickly converted local-hero status into arena-filling UK and Ireland success underscores Scotland’s status as a rigorous proving ground for its own artists, of whom he and Lewis Capaldi, are just the latest to break in a big way.

“If you go down well here, you are not going to be too shabby when you go out in the rest of the world,” theorises Hold Fast Entertainment’s Donald MacLeod, who operates Glasgow venues the Cathouse and the Garage.

Scotland in 2020 isn’t necessarily an easy place to get ahead, but it is bursting with local talent, busy promoters and full venues. The nation’s live industry added £431 million to the broader economy last year and sustained 4,300 full-time jobs, as well as drawing 1.1m music tourists – a jump of 38% from 2017 [source: UK Music].

Scotland in 2020 isn’t necessarily an easy place to get ahead, but it is bursting with local talent, busy promoters and full venues

There are all sorts of storylines in the wider drama of Scotland’s live music business. Edinburgh is on the up, with the tantalising prospect of an arena on the horizon at last. Glasgow, traditionally a supercharged music city with a perpetual tendency to steal the thunder of the more genteel capital, a 45-minute journey away, still does the business, but it isn’t having its best moment after losing the pivotal O2 ABC to a devastating fire last year.

Meanwhile, the festival scene evolves – out with T in the Park, in with TRNSMT and others. The Highlands, islands and notable towns and cities work hard to make the case that there is life outside the Central Belt. And Scotland’s thriving trad scene makes the case that there is more to life than pop.

But still the talent keeps coming. “We are not short of talent and bands coming up. We punch well above our weight,” says MacLeod.

Biffy Clyro, Franz Ferdinand, Calvin Harris, Young Fathers, Chvrches, Paolo Nutini, Amy Macdonald and Tom Walker have all attested to that in recent years, and Scottish venue calendars are reliably stuffed with local favourites: Capaldi, Simple Minds, Texas and Deacon Blue at the SSE Hydro this year; Jesus & Mary Chain and The Twilight Sad at Barrowlands; Edwyn Collins and Susan Boyle at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall.

And new artists, too: “Walt Disco, Slow Readers Club, Tamzene, The Snuts, The Dunts – are all selling out venues above 1,000-cap,” says Ellis. “We have got a really good, healthy scene at club level and that gets people engaged a bit more in terms of live music.”

“We have got a really good, healthy scene at club level and that gets people engaged a bit more in terms of live music”

You might imagine Scottish promoters were a tough, rivalrous bunch, but a photo tweeted by Donald MacLeod in December was a picture of harmony: the key figures from DF Concerts, Regular Music, PCL Presents and Triple G, smiling on the fairway at Loch Lomond Golf Club at an away-day put on by SSE Hydro.

“Aye, that was a good laugh,” says MacLeod, who in addition to his Glasgow clubs is a director of promoter Triple G, chair of Nordoff-Robbins Scotland and a columnist for The Sunday Post. “It’s a lot of promoters for the size of the market. But we all get on well. We are not bitter rivals, we are frenemies. We will all, at times, work with each other.”

Glasgow-based DF, part of LN-Gaiety Investments since 2008, is Scotland’s largest promoter, proprietor of the three-year-old TRNSMT at Glasgow Green, and the Summer Sessions series in Edinburgh and Glasgow each August, as well as shows from club- to stadium-level, and the celebrated King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut on St Vincent Street in Glasgow.

“2019 was a great year for us as a business,” says Ellis. “I think it was great for the market generally in Scotland. But it’s not easy – you have to get the pricing right, and you have to really work it. Scotland is only five million people. If you are doing a show at the Hydro, you are selling to all of Scotland.”

There are numerous independents, including PCL, Triple G, Synergy, 432 Presents, EDM specialists Fly Events and Electronic Edinburgh, and Highlands and islands specialist Beyond Presents.

“Scotland is only five million people. If you are doing a show at the Hydro, you are selling to all of Scotland”

But the largest is Edinburgh’s Regular Music, which continues to do large-scale business. Its properties including the annual concerts at Edinburgh Castle’s Esplanade and Summer Nights at Kelvingrove Bandstand in Glasgow. Eleven of the latter’s twelve 8,500-cap nights sold out in 2019, with stars including Teenage Fanclub and Hue & Cry, plus Suede, Patti Smith, Burt Bacharach and The National.

“We only promote in Scotland, and that’s our identity,” says Regular’s John Stout. “We are always conscious that Live Nation and AEG can offer Europe-wide and kind of exclude us. But we have got good relationships with a lot of bands that come back to us year after year. Stereophonics come back to us every time; we are working with Bon Iver and Lana Del Rey, so it’s not all going to the big guys.”

Another Regular regular are local boys The Proclaimers, who are in a career purple patch. “In Scotland alone, between September 2018 and September 2019, we did just over 70,000 tickets,” says Stout. “That includes two sold-out Edinburgh Castle shows, a sold-out Hydro, and a theatre tour. They will tour any town that has a 500-capacity venue. They have built that audience through hard work and quality.”

Beyond Events, which operates from Ullapool on the north-west coast, 45 miles from Inverness, has operated for 20 years across the great open spaces outside the two largest cities, from festivals down to tiny rooms, and latterly sometimes in Glasgow and Edinburgh, too.

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£25m revamp for outdoor events space in Edinburgh

A multi-million pound plan to redevelop Edinburgh’s West Princes Street Gardens would cap the number of major live events taking place in the park to 15 per year.

The plan, known as the Quaich Project, aims to “reimagine” the park and “bring people together” with facilities including open-air stages and public seating.

Although there would be no restrictions on hosting events that do not close the park off to the general public, large-scale ticketed events would be limited to 15 days a year under the new plan. According to the Scotsman, ticketed events were staged across 22 days last year.

However, the number of people attending events at the park could be higher. Edinburgh News reports that the proposed maximum capacity would be three times higher than that currently in place.

Major events including the Edinburgh edition of DF Concerts’ Summer Sessions, last year headlined by Florence and the Machine, Primal Scream and Chvrches; Fly Open Air, which featured Solomun, Nina Kraviz, Peggy Gou and Seth Troxler in 2019; and the New Year’s Eve Hogmanay concert are all currently held in the gardens.

“This is a model where big events that involve exclusive access to the gardens are kept to a minimum”

According to a survey carried out by the Ross Development Trust, the charitable organisation charged with regenerating the park, 75% of the public is in favour of the park hosting more events.

Donald Wilson, Edinburgh council’s culture chief, said: “This is a very important stage in the project to reimagine West Princes Street Gardens.

“The core focus for the business model is on community access and activity by creating and sustaining a space for all in the heart of the city, celebrating nature, reflection, community and performance.

“This is a model where big events that involve exclusive access to the gardens are kept to a minimum, but these will make it possible to offer low cost rental of spaces to community or charitable organisations. Crucially, it proposes no more event days than we have at present.”

The redevelopment plans will be discussed by local councillors next week.


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‘It’s rare a capital doesn’t have an arena’: NEC reveals Edinburgh venue plans

NEC Group, the UK arena and conference venue operator which manages five properties in Birmingham, has announced plans for a new indoor arena in Edinburgh.

The 8,000-capacity venue, a joint venture with Edinburgh-based Lothian Leisure Development (LLD), will be the first indoor arena in Scotland’s capital city, which has a population of just over half a million. (Glasgow, which has around 100,000 more people, has three, including ASM Global’s 13,000-cap. SSE Hydro, while smaller city Aberdeen is home to ASM’s new P&J Live arena, formerly TECA.)

Along with the arena, the 30-acre site at Straiton, outside Edinburgh city centre, will include conference, leisure and retail space, including a cinema and two hotels.

NEC Group – which currently operates two arenas, the 15,800-capacity Arena Birmingham and 15,700-cap. Resorts World Arena – will take on full management of the Edinburgh arena, including event programming, hospitality, commercial rights, catering and ticketing once planning permission is secured.

New Edinburgh arena by night

Dave Fowler, business development director of LLD, says: “These exciting proposals showcase the modern indoor arena that Edinburgh deserves, and with operating partner NEC on board, the capital is assured a pipeline of the world’s greatest entertainment talent. We also look forward to applying many of the other aspects of the hugely successful NEC campus [in Birmingham] to Edinburgh in due course.

“We see this as a revolution in entertainment provision for one of the world’s most cultural capitals, and one which will benefit all sections of the community.”

NEC Group recently joined Oak View Group’s International Venue Alliance, which also includes Silverstone Circuit and D.Live in Germany.

Its arenas chairman, Phil Mead, comments: “We host over 700 events per year in the Birmingham area and have always planned to take our successful events model to new cities with the backing of our majority shareholder, Blackstone. We are already looking forward to opening the redeveloped Bradford Live venue in 2021 and are delighted to now confirm our partnership with LLD, which will hopefully see us manage our first venue in Scotland.

“These days it is rare that a capital city doesn’t have an arena, so this is a long awaited and positive addition to the Scottish entertainment market”

“Edinburgh is well known for its wonderful cultural offering but remains one of the only European capital cities without an indoor arena, and so we’re excited by the thought of being able to bring some big names in entertainment to the region.”

DF Concerts promoter Dave McGeachan adds: “These days it is rare that a capital city doesn’t have an arena, so this is a long awaited and positive addition to the Scottish entertainment market.”

“A venue offering audience capacities between 5,000 to 8,000 will dovetail nicely with the existing facilities in Edinburgh and Glasgow,” says Mark Mackie from Edinburgh-based Regular Music. “We eagerly await the opening when we look forward to presenting a varied range of artists.”

LLD says it is currently in discussion with several parties to secure funding for the development phase of the project. The next milestone is expected to be a planning application by the end of 2020.


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Wide Days announces mini-summit on EU relations

Scotland’s music convention, Wide Days, is hosting a mini-summit of industry figures from across the European Union to strengthen and maintain ties with Europe and develop international opportunities.

The summit forms part of the tenth-anniversary edition of the convention, which takes place in Edinburgh from 11 to 13 April, and will be attended by representatives from showcase events, festivals and export offices from nine different countries.

Topics on the agenda include the potential for European events to guest-curate stages at future conventions as part of Wide Days’ new Festival Takeover initiative, which this year sees Scottish summer festivals Tenement Trail, Electric Fields and Kelburn Garden Party each programme a stage.

The Festival Takeover also sees the launch of artist exchanges with Focus Wales and Sound of Belfast, featuring performances by Welsh band Kidsmoke and Derry-based “grumpy electro-pop” artist Roe, who recently supported Snow Patrol on their UK arena tour. Wide Days organisers hope to establish closer ties with European events through the initiative in the coming years.

“Since its launch in 2010, Wide Days has built strong ties across Europe and we want to make sure these are maintained and developed further,” says Wide Days founder, Olaf Furniss. “At the summit we will be discussing the possibility of us hosting international festivals in the future.”

“Wide Days has built strong ties across Europe and we want to make sure these are maintained and developed further”

Delegates from Austria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands and Norway will attend the summit. Representatives from the Dutch, German, Irish and Austrian music export offices and the French festival association Prodiss will be present, as well as a range of promoters.

Alan Morrison, head of programming at Creative Scotland, welcomes the addition of the summit. “International showcasing is a two-way street. Scottish bands need to be out there breaking new markets and building up audiences abroad, but it’s equally important that the key players from foreign territories come here and witness our talent first-hand,” says Morrison.

“The delegate presence in 2019 proves that Wide Days is a first point of destination for international agents and bookers who want to check out our dynamic and diverse music scene,” adds Morrison.

“Creative Scotland is proud to support an event that’s ultimately all about building bridges across borders and bringing musicians, fans and the industry together on an international scale.”

The panel line-up for Wide Days 2019 includes Stevie Wonder’s manager Keith Harris, Radio 1 DJs Phil Taggart and Abbie McCarthy, Radio Scotland’s Vic Galloway and representatives from Bandcamp, Soundcloud, EmuBands PPL and charity partner Help Musicians Scotland.


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Wide Days announces 10th-anniversary conference details

Wide Days has announced more details of its tenth-anniversary convention, including the latest conference additions, a meeting of European showcase festivals, a music-themed walking tour, partnerships and details of its expanded live programme.

This year sees the Edinburgh event begin on the evening of Thursday 11 April with a coach tour guided by Wide Days founder Olaf Furniss, followed by a welcome gig hosted by Glasgow-based agency Antidote Booking and headlined by local act Man of Moon.

On Friday 12 April, the conference returns to the world’s oldest student union, Teviot Row House, with recently added Friday sessions including a critical look at what blockchain technology can deliver for the music industry, a lyric clinic hosted by Dr Dave Hook (in association with PRS for Music) and a session, Ask the Young Team, which offers industry delegates an opportunity to submit questions to a room full of music consumers.

“Wide Days’ conference has always placed an emphasis on introducing fresh ideas and taking a different approach to music-related subjects, as well as not being afraid to take a critical look at claims made about new technologies or platforms,” says Furniss. “From the first conference in 2010 we always felt that older delegates had something to learn from the next generation. Ask the Young Team is an opportunity for established industry delegates to get some invaluable insights.”

Delegates will also have the opportunity to meet representatives from festivals and showcase events across Europe, who will take part in a special summit exploring how to build closer ties with the Scottish music industry and the potential to develop artist exchanges.

“Wide Days’ conference has always placed an emphasis on introducing fresh ideas”

The Wide Days showcase, which runs on Friday, will feature seven of Scotland’s best emerging acts: Megan Airlie, Shears, VanIves, Eyes of Others, Chuchoter, Parliamo and Franky’s Evil Party. Previous participants include Kathryn Joseph, Be Charlotte, Fatherson, C Duncan and Honeyblood.

On Saturday morning, early risers will have the opportunity to join a music-based walking tour of Edinburgh’s Old Town (guided by Glasgow Music City Tours), followed by lunch, along with “surprise activities” and malt whisky tasting, at a mystery location. Vinyl junkies will then have the opportunity to visit some of Edinburgh’s record shops for Record Store Day, before dinner and the beginning of the Festival Takeover.

The new Festival Takeover initiative sees Electric Fields, Tenement Trail and Kelburn Garden Party each programming a stage, providing delegates and public alike with a flavour of three of Scotland’s leading music festivals. Additionally, in a first step to establishing closer ties with events across Europe, this year will see the first artist exchange with Focus Wales and Sound of Belfast.

Taking place in Edinburgh from 11 to 13 April, the event, known as ‘Scotland’s music convention’, will again be supported by PRS Foundation, PPL, Help Musicians Scotland, EmuBands, UHI, PRS For Music and the SMIA, with new partners including the Association of Independent Music (AIM), Ticketmaster UK, Antidote Booking and Edinburgh Napier University.

Jonathan West, marketing director for Ticketmaster Artist Services, says: “Year after year Scotland continues to produce incredible new artists, and the Wide Days showcase line-up has become essential listening for anyone wanting to tap into the nation’s next wave of talent. Teviot Row House and La Belle Angele are both great venues for new music so it goes without saying that everyone at Ticketmaster is absolutely stoked to be partnering with Wide Days to present this year’s live showcases.”

“Wide Days presents a great opportunity to hit an international audience here in Scotland”

Several discounts are available through partner organisations AIM, PPL and PRS, while Help Musicians Scotland will provide specially bursary places for emerging artists and industry professionals who would not otherwise be able attend due to financial barriers.

Vanessa Reed, CEO of PRS Foundation, comments: “Congratulations to Wide Days as they enter their tenth year in providing vital support and development opportunities for talented music creators in Scotland. We are proud to fund this award-winning showcasing event yet again as they expand and welcome new partners in 2019. The success stories we have seen at PRS Foundation are testament to the excellent work of the Wide Days team on a grassroots level – including Wide Days alumni Fatherson, who we are directly supporting to go to SXSW this year.

“I look forward to seeing the impact this support will have on the careers of the new showcasing artists.”

“We launched Antidote Booking with a strong international outlook; we have a wide variety of acts on the roster all of which are export ready,” adds Jamie Webster, co-founder of Antidote Booking. “Wide Days presents a great opportunity to hit an international audience here in Scotland. Our showcase presents three outstanding acts, Man of Moon, Tom McGuire and the Brassholes and Carla J. Easton, all of which have played high-profile shows at home and abroad already and have recently released new music.”

Robert Kilpatrick, general manager of SMIA (Scottish Music Industry Association, says: “Wide Days continues to provide an incredibly important and valuable opportunity for music practitioners at all levels to learn, network and discover fantastic new music. As the organisation tasked with representing and developing Scotland’s music industry, the SMIA is delighted to again support Wide Days as it enters its tenth year with its most expansive programme of activity to date.”


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New York, Edinburgh mull appointing night mayors

Following the lead of London, Paris, Zurich and several cities in the Netherlands, both New York and Scottish capital Edinburgh are considering appointing ‘night mayors’ to oversee the cities’ night-time economies.

Rafael Espinal, the member of New York city council for the 37th district, is reportedly drafting legislation that would create an office of nightlife overseen by the city’s first night mayor.

“What I imagine the office doing is finding ways we can be helpful in creating a business-friendly environment that supports nightlife,” Espinal tells Gothamist. “I want to make sure that we’re not a city where artists’ ability to express themselves is hindered by bureaucracy.”

The proposed role would include responsibility for protecting the city’s small and DIY venues, many of which are under pressure from local authorities and property developers.

“I feel like these venues are facing a whole array of issues: getting up to code and also dealing with pressures of the real-estate market here in New York,” Espinal adds. “We’ve got to the point where the only venues who are able to survive in this city are the high-end nightclubs in the Meatpacking district, or places with similar business models.

“We’ve got to the point where the only venues who are able to survive in this city are the high-end nightclubs”

“My main motivation to push for this office is to make sure that the DIY venues and the smaller venues that actually provide a hub for artists and musicians to come together and express their art are able to survive.”

Meanwhile, Edinburgh city council is expected to move ahead with plans to appoint its own night mayor following more than two years of talks with representatives of the local music business.

The move has been welcomed by Music Venue Trust, which wants to see the appointment of Amy Lamé as London’s ‘night czar’ replicated in other British cities.

The Scotsman reports the Edinburgh night mayor’s role would be as a “go-between for the [music] sector and different city council departments”, leading efforts to secure the future of existing venues and advise on the development of new ones.

According to The Economist, the introduction of Amsterdam’s night mayor (nachtburgemeester) in 2014 has been “transformative” for the Dutch capital, with Mirik Milan’s achievements including delivering a licensing regime that allows some venues to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


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Edinburgh braced for Wide Days 2016

Wide Days is set to add a political dimension to this year’s programme with party representatives outlining their music-related policies in the run up to next month’s Scottish elections.

Taking place on Friday 22 April at Edinburgh’s Pleasance Theatre, Wide Days’ hustings debate will includes the culture spokespeople for Labour, the Scottish Greens and left-wing alliance RISE. They will be joined by the Scottish National Party and Liberal Democrat candidates for the Edinburgh Central constituency, where most of the capital’s music venues are located.

“The Scottish Parliament is not only responsible for culture, but also for planning, local government, education, enterprise and tourism, “says Wide Days founder Olaf Furniss. “These areas are highly relevant to our sector and the discussion is an opportunity to learn how each party’s policies will relate to Scotland’s musicians and music business.”

Confirmed speakers include Claire Baker (Labour), Hannah Bettsworth (Liberal Democrats), Alison Dickie (SNP), Zara Kitson (Scottish Greens) and Jean Urquhart (RISE). An invitation has also been extended to the Scottish Conservatives.

“The discussion is an opportunity to learn how each party’s policies will relate to Scotland’s musicians and music business

Following a panel focusing on city music festivals, Wide Days will also host a presentation focusing an initiative to develop Edinburgh’s grassroots live music scene. The session will outline how delegates can effectively contribute to a consultation process recently launched by the City of Edinburgh Council (CEC).

Speakers include Nick Stewart (Sneaky Pete’s), Karl Champman (Usher Hall), Martin Elbourne (Music Cities/The Great Escape) and the deputy convener of the CEC’s culture and sport committee, Norma Austin Hart.

Other conference elements at Wide Days will include sessions on how to improve the environmental impact at festivals, and a panel devoted to A&R and finding hot new acts.

Internationally renowned as one of the most fun boutique conference and showcase events, Wide Days attracts around 250 delegates to its daytime professional panel programme, this year including guest speakers from Europe and the United States, while the evening’s showcase events have earned a reputation among emerging acts for delivering success. A number of acts have secured record deals after performing at Wide Days, while Scottish duo Honeyblood, which played their second ever gig at Wide Days, last year supported Foo Fighters at Murrayfield Stadium.