Avicii’s family launches mental health foundation
The family of Swedish DJ and producer Avicii, real name Tim Bergling, has set up the Tim Bergling Foundation in his honour, raising money and awareness for mental health-related issues and suicide prevention.
The new foundation will focus predominantly on mental health and suicide prevention. It also hopes to address issues such as climate change, development assistance and conservation.
“Tim wanted to make a difference,” states Bergling’s family. “Starting a foundation in his name is our way to honour his memory and continue to act in his spirit.”
Avicii died of an apparent suicide in 2018, at the age of 28. The DJ had retired from touring two years previously, stating he had “too little time left for the life of the real person behind the artist” to continue.
Following his death, Avicii’s family described the dance music superstar as “an over-achieving perfectionist who travelled and worked hard at a pace that led to extreme stress.”
“Tim wanted to make a difference. Starting a foundation in his name is our way to honour his memory and continue to act in his spirit”
Family members referenced the DJ’s ongoing “struggles with thoughts about meaning, life, happiness”, saying “he could go on no longer.”
Discussing mental health at Futures Forum in March, Tristan Hunt from the Association for Electronic Music (AFEM), referenced the deaths of Bergling and of Prodigy frontman Keith Flint, who took his own life on 4 March. Hunt said the deaths were an indication of an industry- and society-wide problem.
“Across the industry, the majority of the deaths have been male – they have been high profile but also very representative,” said Hunt. “This is a serious and complex issue that we need to figure out going forward.”
Bergling was a dominant figure in the electronic dance music (EDM) scene, bringing dance music to arenas, breaking attendance records around the world and becoming the sixth-highest paid DJ in the world in 2015.
In 2012, Avicii donated the proceeds of a 27-date tour to the charity Feeding America. He also supported the Swedish aid organisation Radiojälpen and campaigns against human trafficking and gang violence.
Futures Forum: Soapbox Sessions
The Soapbox Sessions saw various experts present 15-minute, TED-style, quick fire presentations, across a diverse range of subjects including environmentalism, grassroots venues, touting and meditation.
Maggie Crowe OBE, director of events and charities at BPI, took to the stage first to reveal the inner-workings of the Brits and its evolution from a small, non-televised event to the UK’s answer to the Grammys. “We’re up for new ideas,” said Crowe, referencing the “lunacy that goes on in the Brits world.”
Next, A Greener Festival’s Claire O’Neill offered ten tips for an eco-friendly life, stating that “the entire fundamentals of the touring industry are not sustainable.” O’Neill promoted reusable cutlery, public transport, vegan eating, water sharing and an environmentally conscious approach to narcotics, “always choose a local dealer,” she joked.
Ticketmaster’s Ben Tipple explained the principles of content marketing – being relevant and valuable. Tipple described content as the “fun stuff” between marketing and journalism that “tells a story”. The initial stages of Fyre Festival’s content marketing was “actually really remarkable,” said Tipple, noting that the infamous festival sold on content alone.
Radio 6 DJ Steve Lamacq stepped up with Music Venue Trust’s Mark Davyd to stress the importance of grassroots music venues. “Local communities are built around these venues and new bands start to form because of them,” said Lamacq, who estimated he had attended “somewhere in the region of 5,800 gigs” in his life.
“Local communities are built around grassroots venues and new bands start to form because of them”
The second round of soapbox sessions kicked off with former ticket tout Ken Lowson, who said that “ticket bots are toast” and spoke of how a hallucination featuring Obi-Wan Kenobi persuaded him to stop scalping and instead serve the fan.
“The death of the newsfeed is here,” said Harry Willis from I AM POP. Willis explained that promoters can push ticket sales, send links to upcoming shows and gain fan data through messenger, stating that the immediate nature of communication is “essential in the live space.”
“You can’t control everything, often things do go wrong,” admitted production manager Sara Maria Kordek, who gave top tips on ensuring smooth production. Maintaining trust, empowering your team and trusting instincts are key, said Kordek, who spoke of production as a puzzle: “combine all the small details and check every piece fits to make the show.”
Finally, Buddhist monk Gelong Thubten said that people are “more desperate than ever” for mindfulness and meditation techniques, as “the systems we created to make life simpler are making it more complicated.”
Thubten dispelled myths surrounding meditation, which is more about choosing thoughts than removing them. Through mindfulness, “you become the boss of your own reality,” said the monk.
Dua Lipa: ‘Women have to work harder to be heard’
Dua Lipa played an astonishing 245 shows during the touring cycle for her debut album, the Grammy- and Brit-winning star revealed at the inaugural Futures Forum in London on Friday.
Lipa was interviewed alongside her father, Dukagjin ‘Dugi’ Lipa, by IQ editor Gordon Masson for The Futures Forum Keynote: Dugi & Dua Lipa, the final session of the new one-day event for young live music professionals, which took place as part of the 31st International Live Music Conference (ILMC) on Friday 8 March.
Described by Masson as the “hardest-working person in pop”, Dua called the period around the release of 2017’s Dua Lipa – when she played 245 concerts and festival shows, progressing from small venues in her native UK to arenas in Europe, the US and Asia – as a “whirlwind” and “the craziest three years of my life”.
Dua recalled one of her earliest shows, at the 450-capacity Rescue Rooms in Nottingham, when Tap Management had to “bribe” patrons to come and see the future star. “There was no one there,” she said. “My manager had to ask [a group of people] if he bought them a drink, would they come and see his show?
“It wasn’t so bad, because I wasn’t expecting anyone to be there anyway – and it definitely managed my expectations.”
Dugi also spoke about his own rock’n’roll roots as frontman of cult group Oda, who achieved popularity in the ’90s, especially among the music-loving Kosovar and Albanian diaspora. (Lipa Snr was born in the former Yugoslavia, in what is now Kosovo, while Dua was born in London but attended school in Pristina.)
After having a no 1 hit in Yugoslavia aged 16, Dugi moved to the UK and formed a band in London. “We made a couple of songs, played a couple of gigs, and people started to show interest,” he told Masson, “so we decided to make an album.
“We created a mini-studio in my friend’s bedroom to record this album, then we made 1,000 CDs. They took up half the flat we were living in! My wife and I were thinking, ‘What are we going to do with all these?’, but they went quickly. So we started to order more, and do more promotion and PR – we probably sold about 20,000 CDs, without knowing what we were doing at all.
“More often than not, I’ll say, ‘That’s the best show I’ve ever done’, and then I’ll end up saying it again two days later”
“We created a cult band, and with no Instagram, no Facebook, no Twitter… it was all organic, with people buying CDs they could hold in their hands.”
Dua has also always been grateful for the support of Kosovars, she said, whose backing boosted her early career. “When I first put out my song ‘New Love’ on YouTube, everyone was really impressed by how many hits we got,” she joked, “but if you looked at the stats they were all from Kosovo!”
Lipa, who is currently recording album #2, said she makes all her music “with the live environment in mind”. “This new album is more conceptual; I guess when I’m in that world [the recording studio] I’m really thinking about the live show.” The next tour, she added, will feature “something new and something different. Hopefully now I’ll get to do shows that are a bit bigger and stages that are a bit bigger, and we’ll get to play around a bit more with that.”
On her fans, she continued: “I’m so fortunate: more often than not, I’ll say, ‘That’s the best show I’ve ever done’, and then I’ll end up saying it again two days later. The fans that come to my shows are really special.”
Futures Forum took place on International Women’s Day 2019, and Dua also used the Lipas’ keynote to illustrate the struggle faced by young female artists trying to break into the industry.
“As women, we have to work harder to be heard and appreciated,” she said. “It’s just one of those things – when you’re a female artist, unless you’re playing a piano or a guitar people think you’re manufactured, and you have to take some time to show people your stories and what you’ve gone through. Sometimes it just takes a little bit more explanation and a little more time, but it’s something I’m willing and ready to do to be heard.
“I try to use my platform to speak out; I’ve always been quite outspoken and never been afraid to say things that are true to me. I feel a duty to be a voice for my fans, because they’ve given that [platform] to me.”
In addition to helping to shape Dua’s career alongside her management, Tap’s Ben Mawson and Ed Millett, and running London-based PR company Mercy & Wild, Dugi is also founder of the Sunny Hill Foundation, which boasts Dua as a patron.
“When you’re a female artist, unless you’re playing a piano or a guitar people think you’re manufactured”
Last year, the father-daughter duo organised the inaugural Sunny Hill Festival in Pristina – Kosovo’s first major music festival – which aimed to put the young country on the cultural map while raising funds for underprivileged groups.
“Our first fanbase came from the Kosovar and Albanian diaspora […] so we wanted to give something back,” explained Dugi, who said the festival, which was headlined by Dua, Action Bronson and Martin Garrix, grew out of Dua’s shows in Pristina and Albania’s capital, Tirana, in 2017, which raised €100,000 for various causes, including music schools and festivals, as well as autism and Down’s syndrome charities.
“As much as wanted to help with arts funding, people in Kosovo also need a bit more than that,” added Dua.
Masson closed by asking the Lipas about the wealth of ethnic-Albanian talent, including Kosovar-British star Rita Ora and Albanian Americans Bebe Rexha and Action Bronson, lighting up the charts internationally, and whether it’s still necessary to relocate to a more mature market to achieve success.
No, said Dua: “Something I didn’t have that I needed was to be somewhere where everything is happening, and that for me was London.
“But now, with the power of Spotify, Apple Music and other streaming platforms, you can be anywhere and have your music heard.”
Dugi and Dua Lipa’s Futures Forum keynote followed the previous day’s ILMC keynote interview with Who frontman Roger Daltrey.
Futures Forum: Health and wellbeing in live
Jana Watkins, head of human resources at Live Nation, spoke of her passion for promoting wellbeing within the business, admitting that “the environment in our industry isn’t particularly conducive to leading a healthy lifestyle.”
Director of Killing Moon, Achal Dhillon, echoed this sentiment saying that the industry encourages “certain types of behaviour” that are detrimental to mental and physical wellbeing. The fact that this behaviour is aspired to, or deemed necessary for success, “exacerbates conditions if people have a predisposition to mental illness, or even creates them,” said Dhillon.
Fiona McGugan of Music Managers Forum spoke of the importance of disclosure, and engaging with men directly on this specifically.
Tristan Hunt from the Association for Electronic Music referenced the recent passing of Prodigy’s Keith Flint and Tim Bergling (Avicii), highlighting the continuing prevalence of mental health problems in live music, despite growing awareness of issues.
Jenni Cochrane, director of culture and partnerships at AEI Group spoke of the “excess and problems” which success entails for young artists.
Watkins then asked panellists for their top tips for maintaining health and wellbeing. “Switching off – literally,” said Dhillon, speaking of the ever-present working environment within music.
“The environment in our industry isn’t particularly conducive to leading a healthy lifestyle”
McGugan referenced the isolating nature of mental health issues and spoke of the importance of being able to admit issues openly and talk about them with others. Hunt agreed with this, “the more we have this conversation, the more it destigmatises the issue,” he said.
Hunt and Cochrane then discussed the danger of phones, email and social media, stressing the need to take time out to cleanse the mind. Both recommended using night mode to limit exposure to blue light and of vastly reducing screen time, especially before bed and in the morning.
“Sleep is the foundation of everything to do with your mental and physical health,” said Cochrane. “Give yourself some quiet headspace, you deserve it.”
Substance abuse, and the industry’s enablement of it, was the next topic of discussion. Dhillon spoke of the tendency towards glamourising artists’ addictions and the ease of access to narcotics.
McGugan agreed that the industry needed to focus on its duty of care towards artists, whereas Hunt said the prevalence of drug use and abuse was symptomatic of a wider set of problems. “We do have an exploitative industry,” admitted Hunt, speaking of the focus on financial gain over wellbeing.
“We need to call people out and it has to be a collaborative effort,” he said.
Dua Lipa announced for Futures Forum ILMC keynote
Organisers of the inaugural Futures Forum – the one-day event for young live music professionals which takes place as part of this year’s International Live Music Conference (ILMC) – have announced double Grammy-winning pop sensation Dua Lipa as this year’s keynote interview.
The Futures Forum Keynote: Dugi & Dua Lipa will see Dua (pictured) and her rock star father, Dukagjin Lipa, interviewed by IQ editor Gordon Masson about the pivotal role that live music has played in building Dua’s career, the demands of life on the road and their Sunny Hill Foundation in Kosovo.
Dua Lipa last year smashed records to become the first UK female to reach more than one billion Spotify streams with a single track (‘New Rules’). She has also topped charts globally, and on Sunday won best new artist and best dance recording at the 2019 Grammy Awards, becoming only the third British female artist – after Adele and Amy Winehouse – to take home two awards.
As the final day of ILMC, Futures Forum takes place at the Royal Garden Hotel in west London on Friday 8 March. All ILMC delegates are able to attend, while subsidised day passes are available for younger working professionals.
“It’s a huge vote of confidence in Futures Forum to have an artist of Dua Lipa’s calibre and influence as our first-ever keynote interview, especially on International Women’s Day 2019,” says ILMC head Greg Parmley. “With over 30 speakers confirmed, we’re also proud that Futures Forum has achieved a gender-balanced line-up in year one.”
Dua and Dugi’s interview will be followed by a drinks reception to celebrate International Women’s Day, hosted by Live Nation Entertainment at London’s Royal Garden Hotel.
“This is the right time to toast the women making the live music business thrive, from artists like Dua Lipa to our growing team of female promoters,” comments Denis Desmond, chairman, Live Nation UK and Ireland. “To close ILMC on International Women’s Day is a fitting celebration of our bright future and we look forward to welcoming all ILMC and Futures Forum attendees.”
“It’s a huge vote of confidence in Futures Forum to have an artist of Dua Lipa’s calibre and influence as our first-ever keynote interview”
The keynote caps a day of panels, presentations and workshops which also sees legendary radio DJ Steve Lamacq present 30 Years in a Toilet: Enjoying grassroots venues the Lamacq way in conversation with Mark Davyd (Music Venue Trust).
While the full schedule is online at FuturesForum.live, other highlights include:
- Eight 15-minute Soapbox Session presentations, including How it’s done… the Brit Awards by BPI’s Maggie Crowe OBE; Confessions of a super-tout by reformed mega-scalper and ticket bot inventor Ken Lowson; 10 tips for living an eco-friendly life by A Greener Festival’s Claire O’Neill; and Ancient wisdom for modern living by Buddhist monk, meditation teacher and author Gelong Thubten
- Meet the New Bosses: Class of 2019, which sees UTA’s Oliver Ward chair a panel of rising industry stars who will discuss their vision for the future of the business
- Beyond Touring: Full-stack futures, with journalist Rhian Jones leading a debate on how artists will be building careers and incomes in the coming years
- Surviving the Business: Health & wellbeing in live, led by Live Nation’s Jana Watkins, who discusses how to survive and thrive in today’s business
ILMC runs from 5 to 8 March. Companies supporting this year’s conference include Live Nation, Ticketmaster, CTS Eventim, Showsec, Flash Entertainment, Integro, DEAG Entertainment and Mojo Rental.
Information about Futures Forum, including how to register, is here.
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ILMC announces full agenda for 2019
The International Live Music Conference (ILMC) has revealed its full conference programme for 2019.
Featuring 30% more sessions than any previous edition of the conference, topics for the 31st ILMC range from ticketing, agencies, investment and management to diversity, streaming, digital marketing, new technology and more.
“This year’s ILMC agenda features more sessions, more speakers and more topics,” says conference head Greg Parmley. “From our keynote interview with Roger Daltrey to the most immediate issues in the international business and the launch of the new Futures Forum day for young professionals, it’s a packed schedule.”
A committee of over 100 professionals worldwide helps build the ILMC agenda, with input also drawn from key industry associations. The invitation-only event welcomes over 1,000 of the world’s leading live music professionals from over 60 countries each year.
Highlights of the 2019 agenda include:
- Legendary Who frontman Roger Daltrey in conversation with Ed Bicknell on Thursday 7 March
- The Open Forum: With or without EU sees Live Nation’s Phil Bowdery lead an all-star cast through the last 12 months in the business, while The Agency Business 2019 considers the power balance in the business, and the development of full-service offerings
- The new Futures Forum day for younger professionals boasts speakers ranging from a Buddhist monk to a self-confessed super-tout, with a line-up of sessions including Beyond Touring: Full-stack futures and Meet the New Bosses: Class of 2019
“This year’s ILMC agenda features more sessions, more speakers and more topics”
- Ticketing: Is selling out losing out? asks whether it’s time we lost our obsession with sell-outs, while Secondary Ticketing: The fightback looks at recent anti-resale successes
- The Manager’s Office: Conjuring careers sees a line-up of prominent artist managers take the temperature of the live business
- Dedicated workshop sessions this year include Digital Marketing, Streaming – which looks at what live can gain from online music consumption – and demystifying and understanding an overabundance of information in D is for Data
- Diversity: Breaking the spell asks how the business can encourage a more diverse workforce, while Accessibility: Unlocking the purple pound examines the industry’s attitudes towards deaf and disabled fans
Further sessions and details of all guest speakers, including the final Futures Forum, will be announced in the coming weeks.
ILMC takes place at the Royal Garden Hotel in London from 5 to 8 March 2019. Companies supporting this year’s conference include Live Nation, Ticketmaster, CTS Eventim, Showsec, Flash Entertainment, Integro, DEAG Entertainment and Mojo Rental.
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