UK acts cancel Spanish dates: “Brexit is the next major threat to live music”
ATC Live has warned that Brexit is “the next major threat to live music” after two of the agency’s British acts were forced to pull out of Spain dates due to Brexit-related visa issues.
Earlier this year, 19 out of 27 EU member states reached an agreement with the UK government to award free work visas for 90 days, so that artists and their crew can travel freely during that period.
No such agreement was reached with major touring markets such as Spain and Portugal, as well as Greece, Croatia, Romania, Malta, Cyprus and Bulgaria.
For that reason, ATC-repped acts Squid and Black Country, New Road were each forced to pull out of several Spain dates on their respective European tours due to bureaucratic and financial hurdles.
“Not being able to play territories that are essential for growth is devastating for acts on the up and means a loss of earnings for everyone”
Sarah Joy, ATC Live, agent for Squid, tells IQ they worked hard with dedicated partners in Spain to “make every effort for the band to perform”.
“Unfortunately there were two major hurdles. Firstly, the cost of the visas makes mid-level venue touring untenable with a tour party of this size. Each member and crew would need a working visa and the costs stack up high against budgets.
“Secondly, the increased red tape including passports being submitted to embassies and long wait times for appointments made these dates completely unviable in the timescale.
“We hope with time that this process will be slim-lined and the costs reaccessed. Not being able to play territories that are essential for growth and reaching fans is devastating for artists on the up and means a loss of earnings for everyone involved. Now we are able to operate in the post-pandemic landscape, Brexit is the next major threat to live music.”
“We hope with time that this process will be slim-lined and the costs reaccessed”
Clemence Renaut, ATC Live, agent for Black Country New Road, adds: “We got clear information about the Spanish visa process and costs only recently, and the Spanish dates being right in the middle of the tour, it became too risky to try to get the visas on time, and too expensive for the band.
“It is a real shame for the band, the fans, the promoters and venues, as they were their first headline shows in Spain following their first album release this year, before coming back for Primavera in 2022. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem feasible to reschedule these shows in the near future because of other commitments, and also because we always try to tour Spain as part of a tour to avoid fly-ins. We all hope for an agreement to be reached very soon!”
Squid would have played in Barcelona (28 October), Madrid (29 October) and Vigo (30 October), while Black Country New Road were due to perform in San Sebastian (29 October), Madrid (30 October) and Barcelona (2 and 3 November).
Barcelona festival Primavera, which has booked both bands for its 2022 event, says that the cost of such cancellations due to visa issues could be “the final blow” for the Spanish market, which is still largely closed due to Covid-19 restrictions.
“The lack of progress to solve this problem is leading us dangerously close to a point of no return”
“We are suffering the cancellation of tours that were already programmed and for which money had already been invested, whilst those tours which should now be closed for next year are still up in the air. In a very delicate climate due to the Covid crisis, with promoters who have been unable to programme for the last two years and bands unable to tour internationally for the same amount of time, these costs could the final blow for an industry on which technical teams, venues and festivals depend, as well as of course the artists from one of the countries with a huge presence on our stages.
“The lack of progress to solve this problem is leading us dangerously close to a point of no return. In the meantime, and respecting the “principle of reciprocity” which was promised by the EU, the Spanish artists and creators have indeed already been granted temporary UK visas for creative / artistic performances, free of charge. In short, if practically the whole European Union has been able to find a solution to this problem, we should be able to do the same in ours. And with the utmost urgency.”
The UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) previously said it is “actively engaging with the remaining EU member states that do not allow visa- and permit-free touring” has made formal approaches to them “to align their arrangements with the UK’s generous rules, which allow touring performers and support staff to come to the UK for up to three months without a visa”.
“We recognise challenges remain around touring, and we are continuing to work closely with the industry,” says DCMS in a statement. “We want to ensure that when Covid-19 restrictions are lifted, touring can resume and our world-leading creative and cultural artists can continue to travel widely, learning their craft, growing their audiences and showing the best of British creativity to the world.”
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Spanish venues endure “broadest restrictions in Europe”
Spanish concert halls are suffering under the broadest restrictions in Europe, according to a recent study by Live DMA.
While many European markets have fully reopened – or are planning to – Spanish venues are either still shuttered or are operating with a number of restrictions that make it “economically unfeasible’ for them to open their doors.
The country’s live sector is still reckoning with restrictions that include social distancing, mask-wearing and capacity limits, despite having the third-highest (73%) vaccination rate in Europe.
Spain’s association of live music venues, ACCES, is now demanding the full reopening of the live music sector, in line with the European Union guidelines for the safe resumption of cultural activities.
The EU guidelines say that member states must continue to adopt a strategic and phased approach to reopening, increasing capacity limits if the vaccination rate progresses sufficiently.
“[Spain has] the same social distance and practically the same limitations and capacity reductions as before the vaccination campaign”
Many European countries such as England, Denmark and Norway have already removed restrictions on live events, while others such as Belgium, Finland, the Netherlands, Sweden and Lithuania plan to do so at the end of this month – all of which have a lower vaccination rate than that of Spain.
“We do not understand why Spain, being at the head of the population vaccination rates, also continues to lead the countries with the greatest restrictions on cultural spaces such as concert halls,” writes ACCES. “Requiring the same social distance and practically the same limitations and capacity reductions as before the vaccination campaign began.
“These limitations, given our high vaccination rate, must be lifted or at least mitigated so that we are allowed to carry out our activity normally again, that is: Without social distance, with full capacity and with the possibility of consumption in the bars, because if not now, then when?”
Last year, Spain’s Association of Music Promoters (APM) reported that around 25,000 concerts were cancelled last year in Spain, causing a total loss of €120 million for concert halls, which prompted numerous protests and demonstrations including The Last Concert and #alertaroja.
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CTS Eventim ‘optimally positioned’ for reopening
CTS Eventim’s Q2 financial results show that the company is “optimally positioned for the return of live entertainment,” according to CEO, Klaus-Peter Schulenberg.
In the period from April to June 2021, the Munich-based company’s revenue was up sharply compared with Q2 2020, primarily thanks to an uptick in ticket sales.
In the second quarter of 2021, ticketing revenue went up by 283.7%, from €9.4 million to €36.1m. Normalised EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation) amounted to €77.6m (previous year: loss of €18.2m). This included around €73m in German coronavirus support.
Before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, around 250 million tickets per annum were marketed using the company’s systems, which include online portals under brands such as eventim.de, oeticket.com, ticketcorner.ch, ticketone.it, and entradas.com.
The company’s live music revenue also improved in the second quarter of 2021, jumping by 81.5% year on year to €11.5m (previous year: €6.3m). Normalised EBITDA amounted to €21.4m (previous year: €1.9m). German coronavirus support contributed around €29m to earnings.
“Ticket sales are recovering, which confirms our view that people are yearning for live entertainment after the pandemic”
“Ticket sales are recovering, which confirms our view that people are yearning for live entertainment after a year and a half of the pandemic,” said Schulenberg. “However, politicians must set out a framework so that it is economically viable for events to be held again. The government support is very helpful but the industry wants to finally be able to earn its money by returning to work.”
He added: “CTS Eventim has taken the coronavirus crisis as an opportunity to further strengthen and broaden its market position by undertaking a number of major strategic initiatives. Going forward, we will be better positioned than ever before, especially internationally, to be able to impress our customers with our services, industry expertise and technology in the live entertainment business.”
During the pandemic, the pan-European live entertainment giant continued the expansion of its Eventim Live promoter network, establishing the Gadget abc Entertainment Group in Switzerland, partnering with legendary US promoter Michael Cohl, and acquiring a majority stake in the Barracuda Group in Austria.
In 2021, CTS acquired Berlin-based promoter DreamHaus, led by Matt Schwarz, taking the network up to 36 promoters in 15 countries.
The company recently announced plans to build a new €180 million arena in Milan, northern Italy.
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ARA publishes analysis of European test events
The Arena Resilience Alliance, the purpose-driven initiative created by the European Arenas Association (EAA), has published a report analysing findings from more than 20 test events hosted at 12 of its partner arenas across Europe.
ARA partner arenas that have hosted test events and experimental studies include AccorHotels Arena Paris, Ahoy Arena Rotterdam, Avia Solutions Group Arena Vilnius, Barclaycard Arena Hamburg, Mercedes-Benz Arena Berlin and Palau Sant Jordi Barcelona.
The new report aims to share the experience and insights gathered from those test events – which took place with between 100 and 5,000 participants – in order to provide a framework for the return to live events in Europe.
According to the ARA’s analysis, the total amount of visitors admitted at each event varied from under 5% of normal maximum capacity to over 30%.
The highest capacity events were held at the AccorHotels Arena in Paris which sold 5,000 tickets representing 33% of total capacity and the Palau San Jordi in Barcelona which also hosted 5,000 people which represented 28% of capacity.
“Building confidence amongst all our stakeholders that live events are a safe environment is so important”
The report also notes the varying approaches to safety and preventative measures:
- 83% required all visitors to have taken a PCR or antigen test within a stipulated timeframe prior to the event and 58% requiring another test taken within a fixed timeframe after the event.
- 92% of the venues employed enhanced cleaning protocols with 83% providing hand sanitisers at the entrances and throughout the venues.
- Only 17% of venues adopted temperature check protocol.
- Security check at the entrance was contactless, with 67% requiring a full body scan on entrance.
- Inside the venue social distancing was required at 50% of the venues with 17% adopting a mixed approach depending on
specific zone designation.
- 58% of the venues handed masks out on entry although masks were not required at all the events.
In terms of infrastructure development, arena ventilation and air filtering were found to be the highest priority for all participating venues, with 92% actively monitoring ventilation performance and 8% operating specific air filtration systems.
When it came to customer experience delivery, 100% of venues provided detailed pre-event customer guidance communications and ensured all the onsite staff were given adequate training to be able to deliver the new protocols. Almost 60% of venues offered food and beverage services and 42% operated contactless payment processes.
The report emphasises that, at the time of publication, there are “no recorded clusters of infection from those who attended the test events and there is no published evidence that these events contributed to the spread of the virus”.
It concludes: “From the evidence available to date, it appears that with the correct implementation of safety measures, in particular pre-event Covid testing and the use of the EU Digital Certificate, it is possible to host safe indoor live events.”
“We were pleased to share these findings, with a view to building towards a model that can be scaled”
“Arenas sit at the hub of the live events ecosystem playing a vital role in bringing together all the major stakeholders and playing a crucial role in communities across Europe,” says John Langford, president of European Arenas Association. “Over the past year, ARA has been promoting important dialogue around why we need unified conditions that will allow music, culture and sports to return to arenas and enable arenas to reopen.”
Olivier Toth, CEO, Rockhal in Luxembourg, EAA board member and co-founder of ARA, added: “After almost a year and a half without live events, experiments like our Because Music Matters showcase and other test events that have been taking place across Europe, are an important and positive step forward in testing the safety measures we can employ to support our back to business strategies.
“Building confidence amongst all our stakeholders that live events are a safe environment is so important. We were pleased to share these findings, with a view to building towards a model that can be scaled as the industry continues to work towards the safe and sustainable return of live events.”
Robert Fitzpatrick, CEO, The Odyssey Trust, owners of The SSE Arena, Belfast, EAA Member and co-founder of ARA, commented: “As the advocacy platform for European arenas, the ARA has developed a manifesto, which will be an important tool as we prepare for a return to live events, whilst working to protect the health and wellbeing of our communities and the sustainability of our industry.
“This report publishing the findings of the recent test events provides a further tool to help industry and key EU decision-makers come together and discuss the regional and national frameworks that will help us get back to business.”
See an extensive list of the test events and experimental studies that aim to show a scientific path back to live here.
Michael Rapino: ‘Live Nation’s US biz is fully reopen’
Live Nation Entertainment’s US concert business is now “fully open,” according to CEO Michael Rapino.
“We’re very excited about the American market. Seventy per cent of our business is going to be in the US and the UK. Those two markets seem on track,” he told CNBC on Thursday (8 July).
In the States, Live Nation has already hit a major post-restrictions milestone with its full-capacity show at New York’s iconic Madison Square Garden (cap. 20,000), performed by the Foo Fighters, which was the venue’s first concert since March 2020.
Continuing on an upward trajectory, Live Nation will host 30 US-wide amphitheatre tours at full capacity beginning this week, according to the CEO.
Later in July, the live entertainment giant will host the Rolling Loud festival in Miami – expected to bring in around 200,000 people – and a further 10–15 more festivals this summer.
“We’re going to make sure that we don’t [put on] four shows in one week and you’ve got to pick one”
In the company’s Q1 2021 earnings call in May, it reported that US festivals including Bonnaroo, Electric Daisy and Rolling Loud festivals all sold out in record times at full capacity.
The company also reported an increasingly busy 2022, after the number of major tours for next year increased by double-digits from pre-pandemic levels in 2019.
Addressing concerns about whether the backlog of concerts caused by the pandemic will result in an oversaturated market, Rapino told CNBC that artists will not perform “unless they have the weekends, and the right cities and the right markets”.
“We’re going to make sure that we don’t [put on] four shows in one week and you’ve got to pick one,” the CEO said. “We’ll spread those over a couple of years and a couple of markets. So we look at the pent-up demand as lots of availability, but we’re also going to make sure the consumer has time to buy it.”
While the US surges ahead, Rapino expects Live Nation’s European market to reopen by the autumn, and the Asian market to return in 2022 due to a delay in Covid vaccinations. “It’ll be a record 2022 and 2023,” he said.
TEG MJR and Snoop Dogg sign exclusive touring deal
TEG MJR, the UK-based promotion division of Asia-Pacific live powerhouse TEG, has secured an exclusive five-year deal with hip-hop heavyweight, Snoop Dogg.
Under the multi-million-dollar deal, TEG MJR will promote all of Snoop Dogg’s tours globally outside of North America, beginning with dates for Snoop’s 2022 world tour.
The European leg of the tour kicks off on 20 February 2022 and includes rescheduled sold-out shows at London’s 02 Arena (cap. 21,000), Dublin’s 3 Arena (cap. 13,000) and Amsterdam’s Ziggo Dome Arena (cap. 17,000).
TEG MJR CEO Richard Buck penned the agreement with Snoop’s international agents Julian O’Brien and MPI’s Minneapolis-based partner Nabil Ghebre, who have been working closely together with Bobby D (Aaka Robert Dreislen), who is at the helm of Snoop Dogg’s operations in Los Angeles.
Geoff Jones, CEO of TEG, says: “Snoop Dogg is a hip hop pioneer and one of its greatest live performers. He has won an astonishing number of awards and nominations and we are thrilled to be able to bring the man and his music live to fans the world over for the next five years.”
“We are really excited in helping him bring both his new music and back catalogue to life with this touring partnership”
Richard Buck, CEO of TEG MJR, says: “Snoop is one of the most respected and prolific hip hop artists on the planet. We are really excited in helping him bring both his new music and back catalogue to life with this touring partnership.”
Bobby D, Snoop Dogg’s manager and co-owner of Uncle Snoop’s Army, says: “We are excited about this five-year international partnership with TEG and to continuously come overseas to connect with our fans around the world.”
Uncle Snoop’s Army is a multi-million-dollar LA-based music and entertainment company representing hip-hop artists.
The first dates on Snoop Dogg’s world tour (including rescheduled dates for the UK, Ireland and Amsterdam) are:
20 Feb 2022 – Telenor Arena, Oslo, NO
21 Feb 2022 – Bella Center Kongreshal, Copenhagen, DK
23 Feb 2022 – Koepi Arena , Oberhausen, DE
24 Feb 2022 – Sportpaleis Arena , Antwerp, NL
25 Feb 2022 – Max Schmeling Halle , Berlin, DE
27 Feb 2022 – Accor Arena, Paris, FR
28 Feb 2022 – Ziggo Dome Arena, Amsterdam NL
02 Mar 2022 – SSE Hydro Arena, Glasgow UK
03 Mar 2022 – Resorts World Arena, Birmingham UK
05 Mar 2022 – AO Arena, Manchester UK
07 Mar 2022 – First Direct Arena, Leeds UK
08 Mar 2022 – 02 Arena, London UK
09 Mar 2022 – 3 Arena, Dublin IE
11 Mar 2022 – INEC Arena, Kerry IE
12 Mar 2022 – SSE Arena, Belfast UK
Pearle* launches 2021 map showing reopening of live
European live industry body Pearle* has published a new edition of its Map of Europe, which presents updates on the resumption of venues and live events across Europe.
Using a colour-coded system, the map illustrates differing circumstances from country to country, with some allowing performances for a smaller audience, others allowing rehearsals, and many remaining closed until further notice.
As it stands, Luxembourg will be the only country open for live music when venues open on 15 February. Up to 100 masked attendees will be permitted at shows, provided that they are assigned a seat and observe the two-metre social distancing measure if they do not belong to the same household.
While, in countries such as France, Belgium and Greece, public concerts are banned but exceptions such as rehearsals and livestream events are permitted.
“Providing citizens with a perspective of when they will be able to see a live concert again is a vital sign of hope to society”
No concrete, live performance-related information is available for Latvia, Lithuania, Malta and Norway.
“Over the past year, the live performance sector has proven its capacity to manage the risks for rehearsals and performances,” reads a statement from Pearle*.
“It has also fully proven its expertise on how to manage audiences. In the meantime, various scientific studies provide evidence of the fact that it is absolutely possible to reopen venues and hold open-air events in safe conditions for workers and audience.
“It’s time for governments to give the sector an outlook. Live events matter to people. Providing citizens with a perspective of when they will be able to see a live concert or performance again is an important sign of hope to society.”
The resource, which was first published in May 2020, will be continuously updated as more information becomes available from Pearle* members. The map with the evolution during 2020 can be accessed here. See the 2021 edition below.
ARA set to reveal manifesto for Europe’s return to live
The Arena Resilience Alliance (ARA), the purpose-driven initiative created by the European Arenas Association (EAA), is set to launch a manifesto detailing the essential next steps for a safe return to live music and sport across Europe.
The action plan will be revealed during the industry body’s second conference, ‘A Game of Two Halves: The Return Leg‘ in association with IQ, which will be streamed live on Thursday 18 February at 1 pm GMT on the EAA’s Facebook page and YouTube channel.
The free virtual event will feature contributions from a range of speakers including John Langford (AEG Europe COO and EAA president), Sam Tanson (minister of culture for Luxembourg) and Alex Jäger, (sport director at Champions Hockey League).
The free virtual event will feature contributions from speakers including John Langford, Sam Tanson and Alex Jäger
A Game of Two Halves: The Return Leg will also feature a keynote speech and presentation by Sam Tanson, minister of culture for Luxembourg, featuring behind the scenes footage and in-depth analysis from a series of test concerts taking place in Luxembourg at Rockhal arena’s club venue.
Alongside the Rockhal test events presentation and ARA manifesto launch, the event will also feature two panel discussions titled ‘Ready to Rock and Play’ and ‘Working out Way Back To You’ which will explore what support the live events sector needs from policymakers on both a national and EU level to enable long-term resilience and future growth.
Opening addresses will be delivered by Rita Brasil de Brito (chair of the Cultural Affairs Committee, Portuguese presidency of the council of the EU and Viviane Hoffmann (deputy director general at the European Commission Directorate-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture).
Major markets set out plans for Covid-19 passports
Australia and Iceland have joined a number of other markets across the globe in announcing plans for digital health passports which will show citizens’ Covid-19 vaccination and test status.
Iceland recently became the first European country to issue and recognise Covid-19 vaccination certificates to enable international travel for those inoculated against Covid-19.
Since early in the pandemic, the country has required a minimum five-day quarantine for international arrivals and now those with documentation showing they have received a full course of Covid-19 vaccines will be able to skip quarantine.
“You Check’s identity first [digital health passport] has a lot of potential to help venues and promoters manage risk”
In Australia, ahead of the nationwide rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine, the government has announced that all vaccinations will be recorded on the Australian Immunisation Register, and certificates would then be available digitally via the Express Plus Medicare app or in hard copy through the vaccination provider or Services Australia.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison told ABC National Radio it is “highly likely” that such documentation will be needed for international travel into the country.
Meanwhile, UK music venues are set to trial a health passport pioneered by London-based start-up You Check to accelerate the nation’s return to live.
The trials – which have been set-up in conjunction with Music Venue Trust (MVT) – are scheduled to take place at London’s 100 Club (cap. 350) and Bristol’s Exchange (cap. 250) in March.
The digital health passport will allow venue door staff and ingress operations to verify an attendee’s name, age, ticket and test result in one place and “facilitate communication between promoters and their full audiences, beyond the primary ticket buyer”.
[This] digital health passport will allow venue door staff and ingress operations to verify an attendee’s name, age, ticket and test result
“You Check’s identity first solution has a lot of potential to help venues and promoters manage risk,” says MVT CEO, Mark Davyd.
“It has a fast and thorough authentication process which enables health information to be stored against portable digital identity and MVT is pleased to be working with You Check to explore how this technology might form part of a comprehensive process which enables us to reopen every venue safely and revive live.”
Other nations that have revealed plans to launch a digital coronavirus passport include Sweden (by the summer) and Denmark (in three to four months), while Poland has already started issuing the digital pass to its citizens.
Elsewhere in Europe, Spain’s foreign minister Arancha Gonzalez has said “vaccine certification is something we are going towards inevitably”; Greek prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, has called upon the European Commission to introduce a standardized coronavirus vaccination certificate to facilitate travel within the European Union bloc, and Portugal’s interior minister Eduardo Cabrita has said that a vaccine certification would be easier to manage than the current Covid-19 requirements.
European leaders join forces for Solutions for Festivals
Yourope, the European festival association, is working with the continent’s leading festival operators on a new initiative that aims to ensure outdoor events are able to return as soon as it is safe to do so.
At Yourope’s invitation, AEG Presents, Eventim Live/FKP Scorpio, Goodlive, Live Nation and Superstruct Entertainment have partnered for Solutions for Festivals, working to bring back “full-capacity outdoor live events at the earliest opportunity”.
To that end, the Solutions for Festivals work group is consulting with senior figures in production, the supply chain, and festival health and safety, as well as medical experts.
According to the association, the group’s focus is on “reviewing and coordinating efforts to implement best practices for the health and safety of fans as festivals return”.
More information about the work of Solutions for Festivals will be revealed soon.