Glasgow’s Hydro reveals sponsorship, green plan
Scotland’s Hydro arena (cap. 13,000) has secured a naming rights deal with OVO, the UK’s third-biggest energy supplier (not to be confused with Drake’s record label).
The newly renamed OVO Hydro in Glasgow re-opened its doors in September following an 18-month closure and is now gearing up for a record-breaking 2022.
Next year, the nation’s flagship venue will host 40% more events than in an average year, with concerts from world-renowned acts such as Billie Eilish, Shawn Mendes, The Weeknd, Dua Lipa and Anne-Marie.
The OVO Hydro’s biggest-ever year of live entertainment will also see the venue continue to develop its sustainability credentials as part of a journey to achieve A Greener Festival‘s (AGF) ‘Greener Arena Certification’.
The AGF certification will include external verification that carbon reduction and transition strategies are at the heart of all venue operations, from catering to materials used and circularity.
OVO will support the venue’s goal to achieve the ‘Greener Arena Certification’ through funding of specific carbon-reduction and environmental initiatives recommended as a result of the annual accreditation process.
The venue will host 40% more events than in an average year, with concerts from Billie Eilish, Shawn Mendes and The Weeknd
In turn, the OVO Hydro will support the commitments in OVO’s ‘Plan Zero‘ to become a net-zero business by 2030 and drive progress towards zero-carbon living.
Billy McFadyen, director of finance and development at the SEC (Scottish Event Campus, which includes OVO Hydro), says: “OVO Energy is the perfect partner for SEC to help achieve our sustainable goals and objectives. We’re working hard to build on our existing, multi-layered sustainability programme and look forward to working with A Greener Festival towards achieving ‘Greener Arena Certification’ for the OVO Hydro.
“We’re grateful to OVO for their support towards this incredibly important consultation and certification process and look forward to working together to further strengthen our sustainability credentials, build upon the work we have already done, and make Scotland’s flagship entertainment venue as low impact as possible.”
The work with OVO and AGF will build on sustainability initiatives already in place across the SEC campus, which includes a sustainable food strategy, a pivot to digital ticketing and a long-standing partnership with conservation charity Trees for Life.
The SEC campus comprises the OVO Hydro, SEC Armadillo (cap. 3,000) and SEC Centre (cap. 13,000).
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Scotland’s TRNSMT festival permitted to go ahead
Scotland’s biggest music festival, Glasgow’s Trnsmt, has been permitted to go ahead this September with up to 50,000 non-socially distanced fans per day.
The festival has been awarded the status of ‘gateway event’ by the Scottish government because of its place as ‘an internationally significant flagship event’.
This status exempts Trnsmt from the current 5,000-person capacity limit on outdoor events.
The three-day music festival will take place at Glasgow Green between 10–12 September with headliners Courteeners, Liam Gallagher and The Chemical Brothers.
The festival, which would usually take place with up to 150,000 people in July, has not been held since 2019. The 2020 event was cancelled in April last year, a month after the first Covid lockdown was announced.
“I’m delighted to confirm that Trnsmt has been given approval to take place this year due to its status as a gateway event”
This year, promoter DF concerts is working with the Scottish government and Glasgow City Council to deliver the event.
Geoff Ellis, chief executive at Trnsmt and CEO at DF Concerts, says: “I’m delighted to confirm that cinch presents Trnsmt has been given approval to take place this year due to its status as a gateway event, with permission to host up to 50,000 fans per day over the weekend of 10–12 September. We’re looking forward to working in partnership with the Scottish government and Glasgow City Council in delivering the festival.”
The news comes after the first minister announced on Tuesday (3 August) that most Covid restrictions would be lifted from Monday 9 August.
Capacity limits of 2,000 people indoors and 5,000 people outdoors will remain in place beyond Monday although some exceptions may be possible on a case by case basis.
“This will allow us and local authorities to be assured of the arrangements in place to reduce risk,” the Scottish government said in a statement.
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SEC goes local with new food strategy
The host of COP26, the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) in Glasgow, has announced its a new sustainable food strategy which will see it source at least 80% of produce from within Scotland and only use reusable or recyclable packaging by 2023.
The renewed approach has been developed over the past two years with its official catering and hospitality partner Levy UK + I, the sports, and hospitality division of Compass Group UK and Ireland. All produce will be sourced from high-welfare producers with sustainable agriculture processes.
As part of the new food strategy, SEC will champion high quality, environmentally friendly local suppliers in areas such as fruit and vegetables, meat and bread. The food and drink offering at the landmark Glasgow venue will offer a broader range of plant-based options alongside premium and low-impact, local animal protein sources.
“As our industry gears up to restart, there is no better time to drive forward positive change.”
The venue is also making strides in the fight against food waste and aims to have reduced kitchen wastage to under 1% of food purchases by 2025 or sooner. Food waste will continue to be diverted from landfill to anaerobic digestion processing.
SEC donates surplus non-perishable food to local charity Launch Foods. In 2020, SEC donated around 10,000 food items to the charity who distribute it through local community organisations and schools.
Debbie McWilliams, Director of Live Entertainment at SEC, said: “Our new food strategy is an integral part of our commitment to reducing the environmental impact of events that take place on our Campus.
“As our industry gears up to restart, there is no better time to drive forward positive change. We are proud to have a strong and ambitious strategy in place to help us champion the very best of sustainably sourced Scottish produce on the international stage.”
The new food strategy has been implemented ahead of SEC hosting the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), taking place from 1–12 November 2021.
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The LGBTIQ+ List 2021: Lauren Kirkpatrick, DF Concerts
The LGBTIQ+ List 2021 – IQ’s first annual celebration of queer professionals who make an immense impact in the international live music business – was published in the inaugural Pride edition (issue 101) this month.
The 20 individuals comprising the LGBTIQ+ List 2021, as nominated by our readers and verified by our esteemed steering committee, have gone above and beyond to wave the flag for an industry that we can all be proud of.
To get to know this year’s queer pioneers a little better, IQ asked each individual to share their challenges, triumphs, advice and more. Each day this month, we’ll publish a new interview with an individual on the LGBTIQ+ List 2021. Catch up on the previous interview with Sean Hill, director of tour marketing at UTA in the UK here.
Tell us about a personal triumph in your career.
Having a helping hand in TRNSMT and achieving the Silver Award for accessibility with Attitude is Everything is a top highlight for me. A lot of hard work went into that project and seeing it from the start to completion was an extremely proud moment. When we first started TRNSMT Festival in 2017, our accessible platform allowed for 100 people, and then, in 2019, we had the capacity for 300 people. I couldn’t believe the size of the platform when I stood on it for the first time. It was almost as big as the main stage!
What advice could you give for young queer professionals?
Never let your sexuality be a barrier to your success. I’m a 24-year-old lesbian working in a department with five straight men, which was quite intimidating at first. It took me some time before realising that my situation wasn’t something to be apprehensive about but, instead, something to thrive from. Nobody else will go out and get opportunities for you so you need to do what is right for you every single time.
“It’s not only down to the LGBTQI+ community to try and evoke change”
Tell us about a professional challenge you often come across as a queer person.
I think for many queer people there is that fear of being likened to a pre-existing stereotype. That is ultimately why I kept my sexuality quiet for around a year until people got to know me without it being a factor. I always worried that I’d be judged for being a lesbian as opposed to my capability for the job. Thinking back on it now, it was quite a challenging time for me.
What one thing could the industry do to be more inclusive?
We need more straight allies to be vocal about diversity within the industry. It’s not only down to the LGBTQI+ community to try and evoke change. When a company supports its employees regardless of their sexuality and gender, it’ll empower people and set a standard across the industry, which will, hopefully, pave the way for mass change.
“I think for many queer people there is that fear of being likened to a pre-existing stereotype”
A cause you support.
Equality Network. They aim to achieve equality and improve the human rights of the LGBTQI+ community in Scotland. They work towards providing opportunities for people to become engaged in making Scotland a place for everyone, no matter their sexual orientation or gender. They want people to live free from hatred, prejudice and discrimination.
What does the near future of the industry look like?
Hopefully more gigs than ever before! We can’t wait to get back to doing what we do best – bringing live music into people’s lives. In Scotland, our last live music event was in March 2020, so we are all so excited to get back into a venue as soon as possible.
How could the industry build back better, post-pandemic?
In my opinion, music is the most powerful form of art and its way of communicating a message can be unparalleled. Having role models in the music business who promote positive messages about diversity and success will make people feel like having a career in music is absolutely achievable no matter what anyone may say.
Scottish industry slams gov’s reopening roadmap
The Scottish live industry has dubbed the government’s roadmap out of lockdown ‘meaningless’ and ‘vague’ for the return of live entertainment.
According to the NME, the government has confirmed that from 17 May, socially distanced indoor performances will be allowed to take place with up to 100 attendees while outdoor events and festivals can welcome up to 500 people.
The next phase of reopening will commence in early June when those numbers will hopefully increase to 200 people for indoor venues and 1,000 for outdoor events.
“It’s currently meaningless for the viability of live entertainment in Scotland”
By the end of June, it is hoped that event organisers will be able to host events for up to 400 indoors and 2000 outdoors – although higher capacities will be open to negotiation.
Sturgeon has not yet disclosed a provisional date for the ending of social distancing restrictions – while British prime minister Boris Johnson is poised to lift all restrictions by 21 June.
Commenting on the roadmap, Geoff Ellis, CEO of DF Concerts – Scotland’s biggest concert promoter and owner of King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut (cap. 300) in Glasgow – told IQ: “It’s currently meaningless for the viability of live entertainment in Scotland. A maximum of 100 people indoors and all physically distanced is under 20 people in King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut – to put it into context.
“The Scottish music industry remains closed and in a more precarious position than in England and Wales”
“We need Scottish government to give us a proper roadmap that goes beyond ‘level 0 by end of June’ as that still means physical distancing will be in place. However, based on common sense and logic arising from the progress being made in Scotland with both the suppression of the virus and the roll-out of the vaccine programme, I am very optimistic for shows without restrictions by the late summer – at the very latest in good time for our TRNSMT festival at full capacity.
“Meanwhile though, the Scottish music industry remains closed and in a more precarious position than its counterparts in England and Wales due to a lack of further committed funding from Scottish government.”
Donald MacLeod – MD of Holdfast Entertainment Group, promoter at CPL, and owner of Glasgow-based clubs The Garage and the Cathouse Rock Club – told IQ: “The latest ‘draft’ guidance from the Scottish government on social distancing for the hospitality sector is as clear as mud, and a cut and paste socially distanced shambles.
“The latest ‘draft’ guidance on social distancing for the hospitality sector is as clear as mud”
“It is obvious that whoever drafted them has not one scintilla of business sense or an ounce of care for the sector, whose operators are desperate and struggling to make ends meet in these exacting times. For venue owners, promoters, managers, bands and of course Scotland’s battalions of live music fans, with the Scottish government still not committing or even discussing with the sector indictive re-opening dates, pilot test events, and contemptuously refusing to include them in the strategic opening Tier Levels, I fear the worst. This is not a roadmap to recovery but an industry car crash.
“Now that we have the vaccine, the peddling of fear and caution from the government and their army of health advisors must stop and replaced with a concerted and confident drive back to normality, otherwise Scotland’s hospitality and live music industries will become a cultural wasteland.”
The uncertainty surrounding the potential Covid restrictions that may be in place in summer has already caused a number of major Scottish festivals to cancel, including The Belladrum Tartan Heart (July) and Glasgow’s Summer Nights (July/August).
However, DF Concerts is set to go ahead with TRNSMT between 10–12 September on Glasgow Green with headliners Courteeners, Liam Gallagher and The Chemical Brothers, as well as Edinburgh’s Summer Sessions in early August with headliners DMAs, Tom Jones, Anne-Marie and Travis.
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.
Continue reading this feature in the digital edition of IQ 88, or subscribe to the magazine here
Six countries, one genre: C2C makes 2020 return
AEG’s Country to Country (C2C) festival is returning in 2020 for the eighth edition of its flagship London event, alongside repeat editions in Ireland, Scotland, Germany, the Netherlands and Australia.
Luke Combs, Darius Rucker and Eric Church will headline C2C’s European festivals, alongside acts including the Cadillac Three, Tanya Tucker, Charles Esten, Brett Young and Old Dominion.
International touring series Introducing Nashville will be present at C2C for the first time this year, with acoustic performances from Abby Anderson, Eric Paslay and Tenille Townes.
C2C 2020 will take place from 13 to 15 March in London’s 20,000-capacity O2 Arena, which yesterday (22 October) celebrated reaching 25 million ticket sales. Simultaneous events will take place at Ireland’s 3Arena Dublin (13,000-cap.), promoted by MCD Productions, and the SSE Hydro (13,000-cap.) in Glasgow, Scotland, promoted by DF Concerts.
The country music festival is also returning to Afas Live Amsterdam (6,000-cap.) and AEG’s Verti Music Hall (4,350-cap.) in Berlin, following successful first outings last year. Greenhouse Talent will co-promote C2C Amsterdam, which takes place from 7 to 8 March, with Semmel Concerts taking charge of the Berlin edition on 6 to 8 March.
“C2C Festival 2020 continues to build on the massive success of Country to Country in the UK and across Europe”
“I am so proud to be part of the C2C family,” said Bob Harris OBE, the main stage host of the London event, at C2C’s line-up launch party at Country Music Week, which began on Monday.
“I can’t wait to listen to the best music in the world, enjoy the fantastic atmosphere of the main auditorium, catch the excitement of the pop-up stages and meet the incredible Country fans that make C2C so special.”
Chris York, C2C Festival promoter for SJM Concerts comments: “C2C Festival 2020 continues to build on the massive success of Country to Country in the UK and across Europe. We look forward to seeing all you passionate country fans in March once again.”
Tickets for all C2C’s European events go on sale on Friday 1 November at 10 a.m. (GMT).
More information about C2C Australia, which also returns for its second year in 2020, will be available at a later date. The Australian version of the event, promoted by AEG Presents and TEG Live, takes place in Sydney and Brisbane with a different line-up to other C2C events.
Read more about country music’s rise to global fame here.
New TM video explores Glaswegian music scene
The latest edition of Ticketmaster’s Homecoming video series aired last week, showcasing the “close-knit and diverse” Glaswegian music scene.
The documentary series connects artists with their hometowns and explores the places that shaped them. Previous episodes have included Bristol born songwriter Fenne Lily and Cardiff rock juggernauts Bullet For My Valentine.
The latest Homecoming focuses on three Glaswegian acts: noise-pop rising stars the Ninth Wave, indie rock four-piece Lucia and new-wave quintet Walt Disco, as they discuss the music scene in their hometown and highlight the importance of grassroots music venues.
The newest addition in Ticketmaster series comes off the back of the Music Venue Trust’s recent announcement that the number of grassroots music venues in London has increased for the first time in nearly a decade and shows the importance of local music culture in cities such as the burgeoning Glasgow scene.
432 Presents launches the Great Western festival
Brian Reynolds-led 432 Presents is bringing the Great Western, a new multi-venue music and arts festival, to Glasgow, Scotland this November.
The festival, taking place on Saturday 23 November, will host over 50 live acts across ten venues in the west end of Glasgow, including Malian desert blues collective Songhoy Blues, Californian dance punks !!! (Chk chk chk) and US singer-songwriter Cass McCombs.
Alongside live music programming, the Great Western is working with local restaurant and bars to provide a range of food and drink options. A variety of community workshops will also be on offer.
Veteran Scottish promoter Reynolds, formerly of Synergy Concerts, launched 432 Presents in January this year, along with the majority of the former Synergy team.
432 Presents promotes over 500 events each year, including ongoing collaborations with Scottish events Celtic Connections, Doune the Rabbit Hole and Edinburgh International Festival.
Venues under 432’s operation include Glasgow’s Hug and Pint (100-cap.) and the Blue Arrow Jazz Club (200-cap).
Limited early bird tickets for the Great Western have already sold out. Full price day tickets are still available for £28 plus booking fee.
Third outing cements Trnsmt as Glasgow staple
The third edition of DF Concerts’ Trnsmt took place at Glasgow Green over the weekend, with headliners Stormzy, Catfish and the Bottlemen and George Ezra playing to sold-out crowds.
Around 150,000 festivalgoers descended on the event from 12 to 14 July to see acts including Lewis Capaldi, Bastille, the Snuts, Gerry Cinnamon and Years and Years. Organisers confirmed the return of the event immediately after the close of the main stage on Sunday, projecting the 2020 dates onto buildings in the centre of Glasgow.
“After three hugely successful years, Trnsmt is now an established part of Glasgow’s annual cultural calendar,” says festival director and DF Concerts chief executive Geoff Ellis.
“This year’s sold-out festival was the best yet with so many highlights. We can’t wait to return to Glasgow Green next summer for another phenomenal weekend of music.”
“Trnsmt is now an established part of Glasgow’s annual cultural calendar”
The festival was smaller in scale than the 2018 event, which took place over two consecutive weekends. A new addition to the 2019 festival came in the form of the female-only Queen Tut’s stage, which aimed “to close the gender play gap”.
Trnsmt launched in 2017, after DF Concerts put major camping festival T in the Park on hold due to “onerous site restrictions”. Ellis recently confirmed that T in the Park would not be making a return.
“It’s all about Trnsmt for us now,” states Ellis, who last year told IQ that the appetite for large-scale camping festivals in Scotland had declined.
Trnsmt also garnered the support of the local council, with Glasgow city council leader Susan Aitken naming Trnsmt an “integral part” of the city’s offering and commending the “vibrancy and enjoyment” it provides.
Trnsmt 2020 will take place from 10 to 12 July on Glasgow Green.