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New Zealand projects record touring business

A record year is being forecast for New Zealand’s concert scene, with Live Nation APAC revealing it has already sold out 80% of its shows in the market for 2024.

Artists including Foo Fighters, Jonas Brothers, Queens of the Stone Age, Blink-182 and Iron Maiden are due to play at venues across the country in 2024.

And national stadium Eden Park has two dates scheduled with P!nk from 8-9 March and three nights with Coldplay on 13 & 15-16 November. Spokesperson Duncan Blomfield tells 1News it will be the first year that music events outsell sporting events at the 60,000-cap Auckland stadium.

“The biggest one will of course be Coldplay, we’ve already got three concerts announced,” says Blomfield. “Sixty thousand people at each concert — so 180,000 to 200,000 just for that one event.”

P!nk will also perform at Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin on 5 March.

“Concerts used to be something that people would go to once or twice a year, but now it’s something they’re going to four or five or six times a year,” says Mark Kneebone, MD New Zealand at Live Nation APAC. “The excitement is huge. The demand for tickets is massive.”

Frontier Touring, meanwhile, will present Foo Fighters at the 47,000-cap Go Media Stadium in Auckland on 20 January. The band will also perform at Apollo Projects Stadium in Christchurch on 24 January and Wellington’s Sky Stadium on 27 January.

“We have had to wait a long time to bring Laneway Festival back to Aotearoa”

St Jerome’s Laneway Festival, which debuted in the country in 2010, will take place in New Zealand for the first time since 2020. After two years of pandemic cancellations, the 2023 edition was scrapped due to flooding.

Laneway 2024 will return to Aotearoa on Waitangi Day, 6 February, at the outer fields at Western Springs. Acts include Stormzy, Steve Lacy, Dominic Fike, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Raye and AJ Tracey.

“We have had to wait a long time to bring Laneway Festival back to Aotearoa,” says Laneway Festival co-founder Danny Rogers. “We were humbled by the outpouring of support shown to us earlier this year, and can’t wait to return, bringing an epic lineup of some of the world’s most exciting performers to this incredible venue in 2024.”

Plus, Tom Jones will perform a NZ exclusive performance at McLean Park in Napier on 6 April.

Elsewhere, Auckland’s Spark Arena has upcoming shows by artists such as Kid Laroi, The National, Jonas Brothers, Iron Maiden, Thirty Seconds to Mars and Tate McRae, while Wolfbrook Arena in Christchurch will welcome Matchbox Twenty, Queens of the Stone Age, Blink-182 and Incubus in the first half of the year.

PwC’s Economic Contribution of the NZ Music Industry 2023 report found that live performance had an estimated total economic impact of $167m and 1,703 FTEs, after accounting for multiplier effects, with homegrown content contributing just over a quarter of these impacts.

According to the 2023 Global Promoters Report, new festivals and venues are expected to see significant growth in New Zealand over the next decade.

 


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Mushroom Group unveils new touring division

Australia’s Mushroom Group is consolidating a number of its leading events and touring businesses under one banner, MG Live.

MG Live will combine specialist promoter brands such as Illusive Presents (hip-hop, rap and R&B), I OH YOU Touring (indie) and Arena Touring (80s heritage acts).

Also included is Roundhouse Entertainment (promoter of A Day on the Green winery events), Good Life Presents (leading under-18 events company), Fridayz Live (a partnership with electronic juggernaut Boiler Room) and more.

The division’s primary focus will be on developing branded events and experiences alongside its domestic and international headline touring, according to a release.

Now deemed Australia’s largest independent touring and events collective, MG Live will deliver a wide range of tours hand in hand with sister company Frontier Touring.

During the last twelve months, the two companies have been responsible for tours including Tyler, The Creator, Fatboy Slim, Ed Sheeran, Billy Joel, Richard Marx, Pavement, Ashnikko, Abbie Chatfield, Joey Bada$$, Vengaboys, J Balvin, Clinton Kane, Channel Tres and Dry Cleaning, selling more than 1.3 million tickets.

MG Live’s primary focus will be on developing branded events and experiences

“Throughout the last eighteen months, we have worked to consolidate a number of Mushroom’s live interests outside of our leading touring business Frontier Touring, which is operated in partnership with global powerhouse AEG Presents,” says Mushroom Group CEO Matt Gudinski. “We looked at how to best move forward with our other specialist touring and leading event companies and decided the time was right to combine their strengths and bring them under one banner.”

MG Live’s upcoming events include Robbie Williams and The Chicks performing at A Day on the Green, as well as tours by 070 Shake, The Teskey Brothers, DMA’S, Valley and Earl Sweatshirt.

News of the new live entertainment company comes a week after Mushroom Group launched new booking agency, MBA.

Mushroom Records was founded by the late Michael Gudinski in 1972, with his group of companies firmly establishing itself as one of the foremost music and entertainment specialists across both Australia and New Zealand.

Matt Gudinski was named Mushroom CEO in April 2021 in the wake of his father’s sudden passing the previous month.

 


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Mushroom Group planning 50th anniversary concert

Australia’s Mushroom Group is to stage a star-studded 50th anniversary concert in November this year.

The Herald Sun reports the “once in a lifetime event” will be held in Melbourne and will feature a “huge line-up of artists”, to be announced in the coming months.

In addition to touring, Mushroom includes record labels and artist services, publishing, merchandising, booking agencies, film and television production, talent management, venues, creative services and a brand agency.

Its anniversary celebrations will also include a documentary on the life and career of legendary Frontier Touring/Mushroom Group founder Michael Gudinski, who died in 2021, as well as new recordings of iconic Mushroom Records singles, culminating in a Mushroom 50 album. Limited edition merchandise will also be released.

“Mushroom Group’s legacy is something we’re extremely proud of and we have big plans to commemorate it”

“Mushroom Group’s legacy is something we’re extremely proud of and we have big plans to commemorate it,” says CEO Matt Gudinski. “So many amazing people and artists have formed part of our story and this anniversary is about celebrating our history and future.”

Gudinski’s late father formed Mushroom Records and Mushroom Music Publishing in Melbourne in 1972, going on to release its first album in April 1973.

Frontier Touring, founded in 1979, has worked with artists including Ed Sheeran, Kylie Minogue, the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, Paul McCartney and Foo Fighters. It merged with AEG Presents in 2019.

The Music Network notes that when Mushroom celebrated its 25th anniversary with a concert at Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) in November 1998, it was up until that point the most attended ticketed concert in Australian history, attracting 73,000 people. The show featured a host of domestic stars including Kylie Minogue, Dannii Minogue, Peter Andre and Jimmy Barnes with INXS in the band’s first public performance since the death of frontman Michael Hutchence the previous year.

 


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Ed Sheeran breaks own Melbourne record

Ed Sheeran has broken his own attendance record at Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) by playing to more than 100,000 fans on consecutive nights.

The superstar singer-songwriter performed to a 107,000-strong crowd last Thursday (2 March), topping that 24 hours later when he attracted a 109,500-strong crowd to Friday’s Frontier Touring-presented show. Eminem previously pulled in more than 80,000 punters at the venue in 2019.

“Ed loves to break a record and he’s smashed this one,” says Mushroom Group CEO Matt Gudinski, who describes the feat as “phenomenal”.

Earlier in the week, Sheeran paid tribute to his former Australian promoter, Gudinski’s father, Michael Gudinski, after visiting the statue of the late Mushroom Group founder outside Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena.

The largest concert ever held in Australia was a free admission show by The Seekers in 1967, which had an estimated 200,000 in attendance

“Toasting a 707 to the big man ahead of playing the biggest ticketed shows ever in Australian history this weekend,” wrote Sheeran on Instagram. “We miss you, you finally got me playing MCG in the round.”

According to Noise11, the largest concert ever held in Australia was a free admission show by The Seekers at Sidney Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne in 1967, which had an estimated 200,000 in attendance.

Sheeran’s opening night at MCG suffered a technical hitch, however, with some fans initially unable to access their tickets after buying them through Ticketek.

“Ticketek apologises to those fans who experienced a delay in entering the MCG for Ed Sheeran’s concert,” a spokesperson tells the Daily Mail. “A small number of Ticketek App users, who had valid tickets, were unable to retrieve their entry barcode until the issue was resolved.

“We thank fans for their patience whilst Ticketek enabled a solution, which saw all fans admitted prior to the start of the concert.”

Last month, Sheeran also smashed the attendance record at New Zealand’s Sky Stadium, with 48,000 fans flocking to the singer’s sold-out concert, again outselling the previous record-holder Eminem, who attracted 46,474 fans to his March 2019 date.

The Australia/New Zealand leg of the 32-year-old’s +–=÷× Tour (AKA the Mathematics Tour) wraps up this month with nights at Adelaide Oval (7 March) and Perth’s Optus Stadium (12 March).

Last week, Sheeran – who is represented by Marty Diamond of Wasserman Music in North America and Jon Ollier of One Fiinix Live for the rest of the world – announced a slate of European indoor shows in support of his upcoming fifth studio album, (Subtract), out 5 May. He will visit Manchester’s AO Arena (23 March), The O2 in London (24-25 March), Glasgow’s OVO Hydro (28 March), 3Arena Dublin (30 March) and Accor Arena, Paris (2 April).

 


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AXS to launch in Australia

AEG-owned ticketing company AXS is opening an Australian office early in the new year, backed by Frontier Touring.

The firm will reportedly launch the operation next month, promising to shake up a domestic market currently dominated by Live Nation’s Ticketmaster and TEG’s Ticketek.

“We feel like there’s an opportunity for a third major player to come in, but we don’t want to just come in and do business the same old way,” US-based AXS CEO Bryan Perez tells The Australian.

“We think that there’s a new and better business model out there, where ticketing may be a little bit more non-exclusive and open.”

AEG announced a strategic JV with Australasia’s Frontier Touring in 2019, which saw the two companies merge their operations in Australia and New Zealand.

“We think the time is right to help AXS come into Australia and, if nothing else, shake it up”

“We’ve been frustrated by the ticketing landscape for probably five or six years,” adds Frontier CEO Dion Brant. “We think the time is right to help AXS come into Australia and, if nothing else, shake it up.”

LA-headquartered AXS is the official ticketing partner for over 350 premier venues, sports teams, event organisers around the world. It has additional offices in the US in Charlotte, Cleveland, Dallas and Denver, alongside European bases in London and Sweden.

AEG took full control of AXS from co-owners TPG Capital and Rockbridge Growth Equity in 2019 and rolled out its resale solution in the UK in April of the same year. It has been the official resale ticketing partner for AEG in North America since 2018.

 


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AEG’s Adam Wilkes talks Frontier’s new era

Frontier Touring chairman Adam Wilkes has given an insight the company’s new leadership structure and paid tribute to late founder Michael Gudinski in a new interview.

Wilkes, who has been president and CEO of AEG Presents Asia Pacific since 2016, became chair of the Frontier board earlier this year as part of a restructure following Gudinski’s passing in March 2021. A subsidiary of Mushroom Group, Frontier entered into a strategic JV with AEG in 2019.

The company’s executive team comprises Dion Brant as CEO, COO Susan Heymann, CMCO Reegan Stark, and CCO Andrew Spencer.

“I think that works. It allows all people to shine at what they do best.” said Wilkes in an on-stage Q&A at the Music Matters industry conference at Singapore’s Hilton Hotel, reports The Music Network.

“We’ve traditionally been the market leader in Australia, so all signs would suggest that will continue”

“Nobody can fill Michael’s shoes, it’s not a possible thing, he was a one of a kind,” he added. “But one of Michael’s legacies is the incredible company he built, and he had a really deep bench.

“We’ve traditionally been the market leader in Australia, so all signs would suggest that will continue.”

Wilkes described Gudinski, one of the best-known and most-loved figures in the concert business down under for five decades, as a “titan”.

“He was integral to developing the live music industry in Australia since the 1970s, someone that I looked at as a mentor and a friend,” said Wilkes, who went on to discuss the health of the wider Australian live sector.

“The Australian market never ceases to impress,” he said. “It’s only 25 million people but it really punches above its weight when it comes to live performance. I think the per-cap spending in Australia is the highest in the world. It’s just so engrained in the culture.”

 


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Chugg: Elton tour set to make Australasian history

Veteran Australian promoter Michael Chugg has revealed that Elton John’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road Australia and New Zealand tour is on course to enter the history books.

The Australasia leg of the Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour was the biggest tour globally in the first half of 2020, according to Pollstar.

Sir Elton grossed US$87.1m from 38 shows during the mid-year reporting period, with a total of 664,749 tickets sold, before touring ground to a pandemic-induced halt that March.

Chugg Entertainment, Frontier Touring and AEG Presents have now announced a fresh run of dates by the star in the region for the beginning of 2023. Elton will play McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle (10 January), AAMI Park Melbourne (13 January), Sydney Football Stadium (18 January) and Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane (21 January) in Australia, in addition to Orangetheory Stadium, Christchurch (24 January) in New Zealand and two rescheduled shows at Auckland’s Mount Smart Stadium (27-28 January).

“People could have got refunds for those two postponed Auckland shows but 35,000 held on to their tickets”

In an interview with The Music Network, Chugg says the new shows will take the overall tally to 875,000 ticket sales, which would put it in third place in the all-time Australia and New Zealand rankings, trailing only Ed Sheeran’s 2018 Divide tour (950,000) and Dire Straits’ 1986 Brothers In Arms tour (900,000) in the all-British Top 3.

“Elton’s a great entertainer, his shows are fantastic. He delivers,” says Chugg. “He has this incredible rapport with the audience where he thrives on them and they thrive on him.

“Once you see Elton, you most likely will go and see him again. People could have got refunds for those two postponed Auckland shows but 35,000 held on to their tickets.

“Weirdly, he’s played a lot of shows in the Hunter Valley but he has never in Newcastle. So we decided on the Newcastle Stadium. It’ll be the first concert there in 32 years since we did the Newcastle earthquake benefit concert.”

Comprising well over 300 shows, the Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour kicked off in the US in September 2018 and it currently scheduled to wrap up in Europe in summer 2023.

 


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Australasia’s Frontier Touring expands team

Leading Australasian promoter Frontier Touring has expanded its team with the double appointment of Kylie Jeffrey and Claire Marshall.

Jeffrey, who joins as ticketing director, was most recently national tours manager at Ticketek and brings 25 years of experience in the live entertainment industry, including tours by artists including Robbie Williams, Elton John, Prince,  Pink, One Direction, Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran, as well as Live Earth in 2007 and Fire Fight 2020.

Working closely with Frontier’s longtime ticketing guru Mary Bainbridge and tour operations director Ingrid Hook, Jeffrey will work across the company’s repertoire of tours as the concert business returns to full strength following the lifting of Covid restrictions.

Veteran media partnerships and marketing executive Claire Marshall, meanwhile, has been named partnerships director.

Marshall had a 17-year spell with Sydney-based Nova Entertainment where she held various leadership roles in programming before becoming music marketing director for the network in 2014. In 2020, she moved to Sony Music Entertainment as senior director, catalogue streaming & strategic partnerships.

“We are bringing in two of the best as we look to some exciting touring times ahead”

“The appointment of Kylie and Claire is another exciting step for Frontier Touring, adding to our talented team,” says Frontier Touring CEO Dion Brant.

“Frontier has a long and rich history with Claire in her previous roles, and we built great mutual respect and rapport over many highly successful projects. Kylie, I have personally known and worked with for 24 years. The regard with which she is held across our industry is deserved and reflects her incredible character and work ethic.

“Frontier is built on its great people and with these appointments we are bringing in two of the best as we look to some exciting touring times ahead.”

The company is handling forthcoming Australia and New Zealand tours by acts such as Ed Sheeran, The Script, DMA’s, The Killers, Justin Bieber and Nick Cave & Warren Ellis, with the likes of Arctic Monkeys and Florence + The Machine lined up for 2023.

 


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Live music business remembers Taylor Hawkins

Foo Fighters star Taylor Hawkins has been remembered by the international live music world following his death aged 50.

The Texan drummer died on Friday (25 March) at a hotel in Bogota, Colombia, where the band had been due to headline Festival Estereo Picnic. His cause of death has not yet been established.

The band, whose remaining South American tour date at Lollapalooza Brazil in Sao Paulo was also cancelled, released a statement speaking of their devastation. “His musical spirit and infectious laughter will live on with all of us forever,” they said.

Chris York, director of Foo Fighters’ longtime UK promoter SJM Concerts, is among the many touring execs to pay tribute.

“I share with my colleagues at SJM Concerts the deepest sadness at the tragic death of Taylor,” he tells IQ. “Over the last 25 years we have helped share the Foo Fighters’ global success. Taylor’s extraordinary musicianship, tremendous character and huge warmth was writ large. He was a force of nature.

“Our thoughts are with his family, friends and bandmates at this time of unimaginable loss.”

Live Nation mourned the loss of “one of rock music’s greatest drummers”. “Our hearts go out to his family, the band, and fans around the world as we all mourn this heartbreaking loss,” the company tweeted.

“We are grateful for all the unforgettable concert moments he gave us”

Hawkins, who also performed and recorded with his Taylor Hawkins and the Coattail Riders side project, was a touring drummer for artists such as Alanis Morissette prior to joining the Foos in 1997.

Australia’s Frontier Touring writes: “Vale Taylor Hawkins. Our hearts are breaking for his family and friends,” while FKP Scorpio, whose relationship with the band dates back quarter of a century, says it is “shocked and saddened”.

“We are grateful for all the unforgettable concert moments he gave us: his drum solos and singing instruments, his humour and his laughter,” it says on Facebook. “Thank you for the music, Taylor! Now you can play the beat in the big band of Freddie Mercury, John Bonham and all the other genius musicians who have already gone ahead. The memory remains for us. Our thoughts are with Taylor’s family, his friends, companions and of course the band and crew.”

In a lengthy tribute, concert series Austin City Limits, which has hosted the Foo Fighters on two previous occasions, says Hawkins “radiated enthusiasm and pure rock & roll energy”.

“We were looking forward to seeing him again when the band returned for their next taping,” it says. “But mostly we’re sending our thoughts and love out to his family and his bandmates, and we’re mourning our friend. May he rest in peace.”

Swiss promoter Good News Production posts: “We’re still a little blown away by the news from last Saturday’s tragic and far too early death of Taylor Hawkins. Over the years, we were allowed to accompany the Foo Fighters on several occasions, not least in summer 2018 at their show at the Stade de Suisse in Bern.

“Taylor’s open, vivid and cheerful style was not only on stage incredibly contagious and we will always remember him as the wonderful person and outstanding musician he was.”

The firm acknowledged the “uncertainty” over the group’s remaining 2022 concerts and says it will update fans in “due time”.

Foo Fighters have North American dates scheduled for April/May, with European festival and stadium shows lined up for the summer. The tour is then slated to return to the US before heading to Australia and concluding in New Zealand in December.

 


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Michael Gudinski statue unveiled in Melbourne

A statue of the late Mushroom Group founder Michael Gudinski has been unveiled outside Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena, part of the Melbourne & Olympic Park precinct.

The life-size statue is in honour of the promoting legend’s contribution to Australia’s music, arts and entertainment industries, Melbourne & Olympic Park venues, and the state of Victoria.

The unveiling, which included speeches from Gudinski’s son, Mushroom Group CEO Matt Gudinski, Australian singer-songwriter Jimmy Barnes and Dan Andrews MP, premier of Victoria, formed part of the music company’s MG Day – a day-long celebration of Gudinski’s life and legacy.

“My family and I are humbled by this great tribute and recognition of my late father that acknowledges his contribution to the Australian music scene and the city of Melbourne and will stand as a permanent tribute to his legacy and importance to making the Australian music and entertainment landscape what it is today,” says Matt Gudinski.

The sculpture was created by Darien Pullen from local company Meridian Sculptures.

“To have a statue of Michael up here surrounded by the very venues that made Melbourne the home of everything to him seems perfect”

One of the best-known and most-loved figures in the concert business down under for five decades, Michael Gudinski died in his sleep at home in Melbourne last March aged 68.

The long-time ILMC member founded record label and music publisher Mushroom Group at the age of 20 in 1972. Mushroom went on to become Australia’s largest homegrown entertainment company, adding booking agency, merchandise, film/TV production and concert promotion services.

Frontier Touring, founded in 1979, remains Australia’s largest tour promoter, having worked with artists including Ed Sheeran, Kylie Minogue, the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, Paul McCartney and Foo Fighters. It merged with AEG Presents in 2019.

“To have a statue of Michael up here surrounded by the very venues that made Melbourne the home of everything to him seems perfect. From here he can hear the roar of the crowds from the MCG,” adds Barnes. “He can see and hear the punters leaving the Rod Laver Arena, or AAMI Park shouting about being at the best show they’ve ever seen. I think that would put a smile on his face. Especially if it was a Frontier show.”

Always Live, an initiative envisioned by the late Michael Gudinski to revitalise Victoria’s live music scene following the Covid shutdown, launched earlier this month.

 


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