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Global Promoters Report 2023: Germany

In the memorable assessment he provided to IQ last year, Rammstein and Robbie Williams promoter Scumeck Sabottka of MCT Agentur gave the German market short shrift.

“It’s shit,” he said. “The really big and hot things still sell, but the middle bit is really struggling. And that is the important bit, because we don’t just live on cake, we live on bread. And all the bread is gone.”

This year, Sabottka hasn’t drastically revised his view. “It seems that major stadium and arena tours are selling well, while club and mid-size-venue acts are not performing as well as before the pandemic – but that’s just my personal observation,” he says. “Overall, I would say business is stalling and not healthy. Let’s hope for 2024 to do better.”

Other promoters have reported similar challenges in a market characterised by rising costs, extreme saturation, and unpredictable demand for all but the most star-powered events. While more Germans are attending shows than ever before, the sheer quantity of those shows has led to weak sales in many instances. So, while plenty of blockbuster events have managed to buck that trend, the general sense is of a packed market that can’t quite be trusted.

“Compared to pre-pandemic, I think it’s busier,” says Sina Hall, head of the international booking department at Semmel Concerts. “And it’s gotten a little bit rougher because everybody is back out now.

“It’s a little bit more mystifying and harder to tell what are going to be the hard ticket sales for an act”

“Because their markets reopened much earlier, the US acts are now willing and ready to put focus on Europe again, so there’s a lot of content going through, and the markets are tricky now. We are all coming to terms with the fact that everything has got so much more expensive, and it’s a little bit more mystifying and harder to tell what are going to be the hard ticket sales for an act. You can’t necessarily compare it to pre-pandemic conditions.”

But though all is not entirely well, Germany remains the largest live music market in Europe and the third biggest in the world. In addition to heavy gig-going cities such as Berlin, Cologne, Munich, Hamburg, and Frankfurt, it has a further 35 cities with populations of around 200,000-plus and plenty of shows and local events in most of them.

Local giant CTS Eventim has significant strength in the German market, with stakes in promoters FKP Scorpio, Semmel, DreamHaus, Peter Rieger Konzertagentur and a number of regional promoters, as well as venues such as Cologne’s Lanxess Arena and the Waldbühne Berlin. The group reported a milestone €1.02bn in revenues for the first half of this year, and noted that Germany, along with Italy and Austria, was among the major drivers.

FKP Scorpio makes its home in Hamburg and presides over more than 25 festivals across Europe. The company has tours this year with acts including The National and Queens of the Stone Age and will also promote Taylor Swift’s Eras stadium dates in Germany next year.

FKP’s German festival portfolio is a strong one. This year’s twin Southside and Hurricane events – respectively in the southern town of Neuhausen ob Eck and at the Eichenring motorcycle speedway in Scheeßel in the north – came close to selling out this year, with 78,000 attendees at Hurricane and 60,000 at Southside, and Muse, Die Ärzte, Placebo, Queens of the Stone Age, The 1975, and Loyle Carner at the top of the bills.

“Rising costs for virtually everything continue to take their toll”

To hammer home their ongoing health, the festivals promptly sold 50,000 tickets for the 2024 editions on the first day of presale. “As we have not yet released any acts for the coming year, this result is also an enormous vote of confidence, which is perhaps even more valuable than any economic success,” said FKP founder and CEO Folkert Koopmans.

Other German festivals for FKP include Highfield, M’era Luna, Rolling Stone Beach, Metal Hammer Paradise, A Summer’s Tale, Plage Noire, and Deichbrand. Berlin’s open-air festival Tempelhof Sounds, produced with DreamHaus and Loft Concerts, took a break this year after its 2022 debut, as its Tempelhof Airport site is home to a growing number of refugee shelters.

“Rising costs for virtually everything continue to take their toll,” FKP MD Stephan Thanscheidt told IQ in July. “Because of this, less demand, and purchasing power, a lot of festivals are struggling, and we suspect their number to further decrease in the future.”

M’era Luna, took place before 25,000 fans in Hildesheim in August, featuring artists including Within Temptation and Ville Valo. The Highfield Festival, organised with Semmel Concerts, attracted 35,000 fans in August, while the 60,000-cap Deichbrand Festival, in Cuxhaven on Germany’s North Sea coast, sold out in July.

Semmel is another German titan, regularly ranking among the leading promoters worldwide. It handles a heavy schedule of major shows and exhibitions, adding up to more than 1,500 events a year for over 5m visitors, with Hans Zimmer, Schlager great Roland Kaiser and Elton John arena blockbuster Rocketman In Concert among the stars, to add to many big shows and a booming exhibitions business.

“We need to take care of the acts now that will make our life and our industry possible tomorrow”

But alongside the larger shows, Sina Hall is passionate about the notion of developing newer talent, and she notes that while many bigger artists and productions are keen to make up for lost time, younger ones are seeking to tour for different reasons.
“There’s a lot of different models for going out there,” she says. “Some artists understandably just want to play again, and then there are artists that really need it as a crucial part of their career development.”

In that spirit, for the first time, Semmel launched a Reeperbahn showcase this year, with eight acts on the bill, including German and US acts across a range of genres. “I think that’s showing how important we find this development of younger artists,” says Hall. “We need to take care of the acts now that will make our life and our industry possible tomorrow.”

Of the other Eventim-affiliated promoters, DreamHaus, founded by Matt Schwarz, former MD and COO of Live Nation GSA, handles the Eventim-owned twin Rock am Ring and Rock im Park festivals – which bring a combined attendance of 150,000 to Nuremberg in June, this year with Foo Fighters, Kings of Leon, and Die Toten Hosen as headliners – in addition to numerous artist shows.

Live Nation has been big news in Germany for eight years, since its acquisition of the powerful MLK operation. The ensuing years have been predictably muscular ones, and Live Nation GSA staged more than 50 open-air events for over 3m visitors in summer 2023.

A first edition of Rolling Loud Germany drew 60,000 to Munich’s Messe München fairgrounds in July for a hip-hop extravaganza spearheaded by Wizkid, Kendrick Lamar, and Travis Scott. Superbloom, staged in Munich in early September by Live Nation-owned Goodlive for the second time, sold 50,000 tickets on each of its two days, and Superbloom director Fruzsina Szép pronounced the event “almost perfect.”

“There’s a lot of different models for going out there”

“It was an absolutely beautiful and calm atmosphere throughout those two days,” she told IQ days after the festival. “I’ve never experienced a festival like this, that I’ve been involved with.”

Live Nation’s Lollapalooza Berlin in April became the first festival in Germany to be awarded the DIN ISO 20121 sustainability accreditation. However, its 111,000-cap Download Germany at the Hockenheimring was cancelled due to production issues resulting from this year’s busy summer season.

Among its many artist shows, Live Nation GSA also sold out eight stadium concerts for honorary Germans Depeche Mode this summer – two in Berlin, Frankfurt, and Düsseldorf; one each in Munich and Leipzig – and the band return for eight arena shows early in 2024.

Careful but prosperous and acquisitive throughout the post-Covid period, German-headquartered live entertainment group DEAG in August laid bare its expansion plans for 2023, with a revenue goal of more than €300m, ticket sales of 10m – up from 9m in 2022 – and an expectation of 6,000 events across its key European markets. The company also revealed in its H1 financial results that it has “several acquisitions in advanced stages of negotiation.”

The company had a strong festival summer, welcoming more than 800,000 visitors to its festivals between late June and early September. A new acquisition, German electronic dance festival Airbeat One, attracted 70,000 people to its 20th anniversary. Other major acquisitions in 2022 included the summer psytrance Indian Spirit event in Eldena, and Classic Open Air in Berlin’s Gendarmenmarkt – to add to a portfolio that includes the Ruhr-in-Love, Nature One and Kessel festivals.

“If you look at their audience, they have almost four generations there now”

DEAG-owned Wizard Promotions has plenty of success stories to throw into the pot, including Scorpions, the KISS farewell tour, and a notably storming Iron Maiden arena run. “They know what they are doing, and they can go to market very well,” says Wizard managing director Oliver Hoppe of the British heavy metal heroes. “Every show was a sell-out – one of the best Maiden tours I have ever seen. If you look at their audience, they have almost four generations there now. For a lot of the younger kids, 18 or even less, that whole metal and rock thing is starting to come back a little now.”

All the same, Hoppe echoes the sense of a market still trying to regain its feeling for what works. “Pre-Covid, there was a certain formula and understanding of things: if you do this, then that will happen,” he says. “Post-Covid, a lot has changed. Anything that has a brand name does well, to a certain degree, and often regardless of the ticket price. When people know what they are getting for their money, they don’t really care how much they spend on it. But if they are paying €100 for a big show, maybe they don’t go to the smaller shows, the bands they haven’t seen before – they save up for a couple of months for the bigger ticket.”

Among Germany’s other notable national promoters, Hamburg-based Karsten Jahnke Konzertdirektion organises about 1,300 concerts a year – 900 of them its own tours in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, and around 400 as a local partner in Hamburg for other promoters. Forthcoming shows include a stake in two Hamburg dates on Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour with AEG Presents and a wealth of other events from Björk to BABYMETAL.

On the festival side, its events include the Stadtpark Open Air concert series in Hamburg’s City Park, launched by Jahnke in 1975, as well as JazzNights, Elbjazz, and Überjazz festivals, plus Way Back When and Campus Spring Break in the Ruhr region.

Other independents in the German market include Berlin-based booker and national promoter Z|ART, whose shows currently include Boy & Bear, Jockstrap, and Johnny Jewel; Hamburg’s a.s.s. concerts & promotion, which promotes and books up to 1,200 concerts a year for German and international artists, with branch offices in Berlin, Hamburg, and Düsseldorf; Hamburg-based indie Neuland Concerts, whose shows for next year include Jason Derulo; and another Hamburg native, Music Minds Productions, which this year has been involved with shows by both Till Lindemann and – in person at Berlin’s Mercedes-Benz Arena but not singing – former president Barack Obama.

“When people know what they are getting for their money, they don’t really care how much they spend on it”

Of the market’s other key festival promoters, Cosmopop is responsible for the 29-year-old Time Warp electronic festival in Mannheim and further afield; Opus produces the renowned Jazzopen Stuttgart; while ICS (International Concert Service) controls the legendary Wacken Open Air in Schleswig- Holstein, one of the world’s biggest rock festivals.

From a geographical and promoting point of view, Germany is a huge market and a highly regionalised one, in which the 16 states have significant local differences. Traditionally, national promoters have partnered with local promoters for shows in specific cities, though these days the boundaries are often less defined.

National promoters often run their own shows in cities where they have a presence and some cultivate local specialists in-house. For instance, Wizard Promotions and sister company Handwerker Promotion formed a local joint venture in 2018 called Rhein-Main Concerts in Frankfurt to produce events in the south-west region of the country.

Nonetheless, the old system remains broadly in place, with powerful local promoters including Eventim’s Dirk Becker Entertainment, which operates in the Rhine-Ruhr region of western Germany encompassing Cologne; DEAG’s Munich- based Global Concerts; Hannover Concerts in the northern city of the same name; and Undercover, based in Braunschweig and operating in northern Germany and beyond.

German recording giant BMG acquired Undercover in 2020. It has booked Berlin’s 1,600-seat Theater des Westens until the end of 2024 for a series of residencies by domestic and international recording artists, as well as stage musical productions, and curated the live programme of the Hessentag, Germany’s largest state festival, in Pfungstadt, Hesse.

Global Promoters Report 2023 is out now.

 


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Global Promoters Report: Italy

Italy is a busy, highly competitive market with a remarkably strong talent pool of its own, which makes it a very distinctive battleground for its leading promoters.

Whereas in many markets a pipeline of international arena and stadium talent is the holy grail, Italian audiences are significantly less interested in music from beyond their borders than in their own country’s output. Indeed, every one of the Top 20 best-selling albums and singles of 2021 was by an Italian artist, and the same was true of the cumulative single and album Top 10s for the first half of 2022.

In terms of homegrown stars, stadium-filler Ultimo, Milanese rapper-turned-singer-songwriter Rkomi, glam-rockers Måneskin, Bergamo’s indie-rockers Pinguini Tattici Nucleari, and hip-hoppers including Sfera Ebbasta, producer-rapper Tha Supreme, and recent chart-topping debutant Rondodasosa are just a few highlights of a remarkably crowded field.
Consequently, Live Nation and CTS Eventim, while ruthlessly rivalrous in Italy, have broadly distinct specialities: Live Nation controlling the biggest international stars, from Coldplay to Depeche Mode to Harry Styles to Muse in recent and imminent times; Eventim taking the lion’s share of Italian talent – give or take some crossover here and there.

CTS Eventim has spent recent years rounding up leading Italian independents, and its stable now includes Vertigo, as well as Vivo Concerti, Di & Gi, and Friends & Partners, in addition to ticketing market leader TicketOne.

As Vertigo CEO Andrea Pieroni put it in IQ last autumn, “the reality is that now there are only two big groups: Live Nation on one side and Eventim on the other. In general, if you are not part of a big corporation, things will be very hard.”

Italy tends to understand festivals as a concert series or summertime headline shows with a slightly longer-than-usual bill

All four Eventim promoters are strong in different ways. Vivo Concerti has a particular grip on the new wave of young Italian talent, including Ultimo, Blanco, Måneskin, and others.

Di & Gi’s highlights of 2022 included The Stones at the San Siro in June, Elton John’s final Italian performance at the same stadium a couple of weeks earlier, with six dates for Roger Waters next year in Milan and Bologna.

Friends & Partners focuses on established Italian stars. “We’re working on various projects ranging among different genres,” says Friends & Partners CEO Ferdinando Salzano, “from Ligabue to Marracash, from Zucchero to Pinguini Tattici Nucleari, from Claudio Baglioni to Elisa, from Blanco to Venditti and De Gregori, from Il Volo to Alesssandra Amoroso. We’re also arranging the great live return of Laura Pausini.”

Vertigo has a strong rock pedigree, with Iron Maiden and Rammstein shows coming around again next year – having already stopped off in Italy in summer 2021 – to add to the ongoing world tour of homegrown superstar Eros Ramazzotti. “I’m pretty sure his world tour will be one of the best sellers in the indoor season 2022-23,” says Pieroni.

Live Nation, meanwhile, chalked up 22 stadiums over the summer period of 2022 alone, with 1.24m tickets sold, as well as blockbuster open-air shows and a pair of festivals – Firenze Rocks and I-Days. Its stable of promoters also includes Comcerto.

Italy tends to understand festivals as a concert series or summertime headline shows with a slightly longer-than-usual bill. Key examples include Di & Gi’s Lucca Summer Festival and Maximiliano Bucci and Sergio Giuliani’s Rock in Roma, which this year marked its 19th edition.

“Costs are rising every day, but of course we can’t increase the ticket prices accordingly because people wouldn’t have enough money to buy”

Vivo Concerti is involved in Florence’s two-day electronic festival Decibel Open Air, which MD Clemente Zard promises will grow significantly as he aims to sell Italy on the concept of a multi-artist, multi-stage festival in the international style.

“It will take some time, but I’m sure we will achieve this result because it’s important for Italy to have festivals in a proper way and not only headline shows,” Zard recently told IQ.

In the meantime, while Italy is a strong market, it is far from immune to the high-cost, high-risk conditions that currently afflict the touring world and put independents in particular peril.

“Costs are rising every day, but of course we can’t increase the ticket prices accordingly because people wouldn’t have enough money to buy,” says Pieroni. “Therefore, we have to be very careful with offers and production costs.”

Among Italy’s independents are Claudio Trotta’s Italian pioneer Barley Arts, which brought Queen + Adam Lambert, Deftones, and others to Italy this summer and has sold 170,000 tickets for three Bruce Springsteen dates next May and July.

The 52-year-old Trident Music remains active, promoting Jovanotti, Sfera Ebbasta, Tiromancino, and events including the Jova Beach Party’s recurring summer tour of Italian beaches. In July, meanwhile, Milan-based independent Radar became the latest member of the Nordic All Things Live collective.

Rome-based independent promoter DNA Concerti has shows booked next year for Algiers, Warmduscher, and Adam Green with Francesco Mandelli, but DNA’s Pietro Fuccio says this summer has been too congested for indies to be throwing too many shows into the mix. “We kind of had an idea that it would be a very difficult summer, and we said to most of our artists, ’can we wait for a few months?’” he says. “It’s been a big rush, and it’s totally understandable. But if you want to be strategic, is the summer right after a pandemic the best time to get out there?”

 


The Global Promoters Report is published in print, digitally, and all content is also available as a year-round resource on the IQ site. The Global Promoters Report includes key summaries of the major promoters working across 40+ markets, unique interviews and editorial on key trends and developments across the global live music business.To access all content from the current Global Promoters Report, click here.

Global Promoters Report: The Baltic States

In the Baltics, a region caught between rock and a hard place, the live music business is reportedly booming. “The market in the Baltic States recovered from the pandemic very quickly,” says Renatas Načajus, partner at ISEG in Vilnius. “Most of the events that were rescheduled had bigger ticket sales than we usually would have before the pandemic.”

ISEG are toasting recent successes with tours around Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania by OneRepublic, James Arthur, LP, and GusGus among others, and they’re not alone. Top Baltic promoters such as Medusa Concert, L Tips, and 8 Days A Week have all benefited from a post-pandemic bounce- back, while Live Nation has seen a roaring trade for shows by Slipknot, Dua Lipa, Sting, Eurovision breakout sensation Måneskin, and Rammstein, who sold a mammoth 66,000 tickets at the Tallinn Song Festival Grounds in July.

“We see bigger demand for arena and stadium shows after the pandemic,” says Live Nation’s Deividas Afarjanc. “There is a strong demand for foreign shows, with significant sales power in all three markets. People are willing to come back to live shows. The biggest challenge is to get artists here, as demand is much higher than they have available dates on tour.”

“We believe that we‘ve emerged much stronger out of pandemic trenches,” says longstanding industry stalwart Giedrius Klimašauskas, MD of Stay Live, a talent buyer that operates through promotion sister companies including Bravo Events. This year, he’s celebrated sell-outs for shows by Calum Scott and Andrea Bocelli, as well as Lithuania’s 1000 Lanterns and 20,000-capacity Granatos Live festivals, and noticed a swift expansion in the market. “We are monitoring higher expenditures for leisure spending comparing to previous years, even prior to the pandemic.”

“Events that were right after the war started had a huge drop in ticket sales, and a lot of people did not attend events even though they had tickets purchased”

Demand is clearly through the roof in all three countries, although Klimašauskas notes slightly contracted markets in Estonia and Latvia compared to Lithuania, which opened up sooner and provided greater support for musicians. But there have also been surprising, and surprisingly positive, effects of the Ukrainian war on the local music scenes, too.

Initially the invasion put international acts off touring the region – usually a standard European stop-off between Finland and Poland – and fans from attending shows. “Events that were right after the war started had a huge drop in ticket sales, and a lot of people did not attend events even though they had tickets purchased in advance,” says Načajus. But, as it became clear that the war wouldn’t spread to the Baltics, demand for tickets rocketed, and an influx of young people fleeing the turmoil in neighbouring countries has created strong local fanbases for visiting acts from Ukraine and Belarus.

Older rock bands have seen a drop-off in the Baltics over 2022, and the region isn’t immune to the rising production costs caused by the exodus of technical personnel during the pandemic. “Production companies have lost quite a number of their people during the pandemic, therefore the prices for production services have skyrocketed,” says Klimašauskas. “In many cases, production costs have doubled, and the quality of the service has decreased. It’s the same for security, catering, hotels, marketing. It‘s a very painful reality in that sense, to see this service-quality deflation.”

Despite such challenges, the Baltics remain very favourable markets for visiting international stars and rising acts alike. International rap, electronic, and pop acts have proven strong, often thanks to the accessibility of relatively cheap TV advertising to complement digital, billboard, and radio campaigns. The region’s premier showcase festival, Tallinn Music Week, helps nurture a solid flow of fresh rising talent, particularly from the rap scene. And with the market in ascendence as it heads towards income parity with the EU, and healthy competition between promoters opening up castles, botanical gardens, and museums across the region as occasional music venues, the major promoters all expect strong growth over the coming years. Having weathered the worst of the storm, the Baltic future looks bright.

 


The Global Promoters Report is published in print, digitally, and all content is also available as a year-round resource on the IQ site. The Global Promoters Report includes key summaries of the major promoters working across 40+ markets, unique interviews and editorial on key trends and developments across the global live music business.To access all content from the current Global Promoters Report, click here.

‘The industry has well and truly bounced back’

“It’s a really interesting time,” says Steve Homer, CEO of AEG Presents UK, an understatement that’s echoed by several major promoters in one of Europe’s largest music markets. “There are some great sales and tours but still some acts out there, that would in previous times be performing much better, are struggling to gain any momentum. It results in a bit of a head scratch for promoters.”

A head scratch indeed. The UK has found itself facing a unique set of challenges and opportunities in 2022, some thrust upon it and others very much of its own making. On the plus side, as the initial post-pandemic downturn in ticket sales eases, there has been much for the major players to celebrate. Festival Republic, the country’s premier festival promoters, in charge of Latitude, Wireless, and others, comfortably sold out its flagship Reading & Leeds weekend in August. Glastonbury 2022, the first edition of the legendary event since 2019, was a storming, largely rain-free success. All genres have bounced firmly back from the pandemic, too – Homer, who has seen tickets fly off the web for tours by Michael Bublé, Diana Ross, Pet Shop Boys, and Blondie this year, points to Rammstein’s sell-out tour as “a triumph for rock music in a market where people are saying rock is a dying genre. It is so encouraging to see a rock act at the top of their game play sell-out stadium shows.”

Promoters, from the international level of Live Nation and SJM Concerts to the independent likes of Crosstown Concerts, have seen an incredibly busy year, as the post-pandemic backlog of artists wanting to tour has played out. “We are still playing catch up from the pandemic,” says Homer. “The displacement of artists touring over the past two years has skewed the market, and it’s going to take a while to get back to something that can be predicted in the same way, or as close to, as it was before.” He advises a cautious approach. “Taking a no-risk strategy for the next 12 months is a good starting point.”

“The live industry has well and truly bounced back this year and continues to work towards pre-pandemic business, making up for lost time”

Others have thrown themselves headlong into the challenge. In Scotland, DF Concerts had a record-breaking summer, with 33 major outdoor, stadium, or festival events bringing £72.4m into the Scottish economy between June and August, on top of the 1,000 smaller gigs they put on this year. “The live industry has well and truly bounced back this year and continues to work towards pre-pandemic business, making up for lost time,” says DF’s CEO Geoff Ellis. “We were involved in bringing some huge tours to Scotland this summer, including Harry Styles’ Love on Tour; Coldplay’s Music of the Spheres world tour; The Hella Mega Tour with Green Day, Fall Out Boy, and Weezer; Billie Eilish; Haim; Liam Gallagher; and Calvin Harris all in Glasgow. And we are very proud to have promoted the biggest ever shows by a Scottish artist with two sold-out Hampden Stadium shows for Gerry Cinnamon this year.”

Ellis and DF take much personal satisfaction in the success of his two shows at Falkirk Stadium with The Killers, the first time the venue had been used for such large-scale gigs, and in the Coldplay tour, having worked with the band since they were playing 300-capacity venues including Glasgow’s legendary King Tut’s back in 1999. He also lauds their commitment to environmentally friendly touring. “With Coldplay and Billie Eilish, in particular, it’s great to see everything come to life that they are so passionate about when it comes to making touring sustainable,” he says. “It was a real eye-opener and something that I hope more tours take into consideration going forward.”

At another major UK promotion company, Kilimanjaro, CEO Stuart Galbraith looks back on the company’s busiest year ever, with 750 shows on sale at one point. “To then deliver all of those one by one,” he says, “whether it was Craig David, whether it was Simply Red, whether it was Hans Zimmer in arenas, Bring Me The Horizon, just getting through the workload and a similar workload at theatre-level [was amazing]. This summer we had a tremendous return with Belladrum festival, Scotland’s biggest camping festival. We weren’t able to run in 2020 or 2021, so coming back in ‘22 was both challenging but hugely rewarding. Challenging because after not doing it for three years there were many things that were automatic that had been forgotten, but the reception by the audience and the satisfaction to the team at running a sold-out festival was just brilliant.”

“Brexit caused the problems we all knew it would”

Galbraith sees holding onto his team through the pandemic as just as great an achievement as the company’s musical revival. “Not having to lay anybody off during the pandemic,” he says, “we’re very pleased to have been able to keep the team together.” The effects of lockdown did ripple through into 2022, however. “We’ve seen the lasting effects of the pandemic through this summer,” he says. “We’ve got two or three tours left that are rescheduled or re-rescheduled twice, three times rescheduled, and other than that we’re now into new product. The summer had some huge successes but also had some huge challenges. But I’m hoping that we will see next summer be a much more normal marketplace.”

Kilimanjaro saw some form of normality begin to return with the arrival of a copper-topped hero. “One of the first tours that we had to play this summer that was not affected by Covid was Ed Sheeran,” Galbraith says. “We were able to go on sale with Ed in late September last year when there was a period of time where everybody thought that Covid was gone and then to be able to play that tour starting in May and running through to July, and in his case running through September in Europe, it placed itself perfectly, so people didn’t have any Covid effect to deal with.” He, too, repeats the UK promoter mantra for 2022: “It’s been an interesting year.”

Interesting due to its perfect storm of post-pandemic challenges. “Brexit caused the problems we all knew it would,” says Homer, referring to the much-publicised barriers to international touring for UK acts arising from Britain’s withdrawal from the EU. The additional visa, cabotage, and carnet issues have reportedly seen British artists’ international festival bookings fall by 45% since 2019 and increased costs to the point of making European tours unfeasible for smaller acts – Best for Britain CEO Naomi Smith has claimed that Brexit is “strangling the next generation of UK talent in the cradle.” Likewise, international acts have been discouraged from playing the UK by the increased red tape.

“Exchange rates have created the real financial issues for artists”

At the same time, the UK has suffered the same increased production costs due to the Ukraine war-fuelled inflation and post-pandemic labour shortages in the industry that much of the rest of the world has. But they’ve been exacerbated by the government’s lack of support for – often freelance – music industry workers and musicians, and the local cost-of-living crisis being deepened by Liz Truss’s short-lived but disastrous tenure as PM. The collapse of the pound and the ensuing recession following Truss’s mini budget was swiftly followed by the cancellation of UK tours by the likes of Animal Collective, Santigold, and Sampa the Great, citing the economic impossibility of making them work.

“It’s hard to tell whether it’s Brexit, whether it’s a recession, or whether it’s war, but all of them have had a combined effect to make it harder for artists to be on the road,” says Galbraith. “We’re certainly seeing a difficulty at mid-level for international touring acts, especially American acts that we’re potentially paying in local currency but are incurring most of their costs in US dollars. With the exchange rate as it is, and then you add to it supply chain issues, increased costs, etc. You can see that it’s difficult for acts, and certainly we’ve lost some tours at that theatre-level where acts have just turned around to us and said, ‘we can’t afford to come.’ Equally, we’ve got other tours that we’ve been working on for a long time that were waiting to be confirmed that have just now disappeared, again because the global conditions don’t lend themselves to make financially viable touring possible. That’s not the case at stadium-level or to some extent arena-level where there’s obviously profits to be made, but certainly at survival touring-level, it’s very tough.”

“Exchange rates have created the real financial issues for artists,” says Homer. “The dollar rate is so poor currently [that] a lot of US artists are considering [not] touring in the UK and Europe – this could have a real impact on the mid-range to smaller artists.”

“The audiences are here, ready and waiting, and there is a really strong artist pipeline over the next couple of years”

Galbraith also raises concerns over potential power cut measures that the UK government is suggesting to combat the current energy crisis – “as is the case in Germany, I’m sure that most countries will not be prioritising entertainment locations for priority power supplies. Those will go first to hospitals and to domestic residences” – and that insurance policies won’t cover shows cancelled due to Covid.

“I think most people now approach Covid like any other disease, and flu is a good comparator,” he says. “If you’re too ill to sing or you’re too ill to perform, then fine, we lose the show. But just because you’re now testing positive doesn’t mean that you’re necessarily not going to go on. What it does mean, though, is that with every insurance policy having Covid as an exclusion, if somebody can’t sing because they’ve got a cough or a cold or similar symptoms, you’ve got to get a doctor’s note to prove whether they have Covid or not because the irony is, if they’ve got flu, we can claim on insurance, if they’ve got Covid, we can’t.” He does, however, see a silver lining to the UK’s problems in terms of increased demand for local festivals next year. “The pound being so weak in the international markets now, package holidays will be more
expensive,” he says, “so it could be that summer ‘23 becomes a staycation year.”

Indeed, the major UK promoters are all largely optimistic about the coming year. “2023 is looking similar in terms of the scale of shows that we are going to have,” says Ellis. “Already we’ve announced stadium shows with Harry Styles, and Mötley Crüe & Def Leppard; greenfield shows with Arctic Monkeys and Muse; plus TRNSMT and Connect Festival, with more outdoor shows to come. The audiences are here, ready and waiting, and there is a really strong artist pipeline over the next couple of years – there are so many young artists coming up in Scotland at the moment, such as Katie Gregson-MacLeod, Bemz, Cara McBride, Dylan John Thomas, Ewan McVicar, Frazi.er, and so many more, and the genre of music is very varied – from acoustic singer-songwriters; rap and hip-hop; indie, pop, and everything in between. So, it’s looking like we’ll be back stronger than ever in terms of the offering of live music and the number of artists on tour.”

“We’re seeing strong attendances at club nights, showcase nights, and on the pub circuit”

“Demand has come back fine at most levels, with the exception of the older-audience level,” says Galbraith. “Certainly, theatre, musical theatre, and classical [are] slower to come back than contemporary rock and pop. If you speak to any orchestra manager or sinfonia or symphonic hall, they’ll tell you that their attendances are anything between 20 and 30% down still. […] I think the strong [acts] will get stronger, and the weak will get weaker. As people head into what widely seems to be accepted as a recession, instead of going out three or four times in a year or a month, people will go out two or three times or once or twice, and they’ll go out to see their favourites. So, I think you’ll see many stadium tours and arena tours that will do great business, but you will see potentially less of them.”

And the key to breaking through in such an unpredictable climate? Galbraith cites a dedicated approach to digital marketing and good old-fashioned talent. “The best method is to just have good-quality music,” he says. “Quality will out. There are more and more routes to market and methods to find a customer base. We’re seeing strong attendances at club nights, showcase nights, and on the pub circuit. But I think it’s just to continue to write great music and, if you’re able to and you can afford to, then gig and build it that way.” Interesting times, it seems, are best embraced.

Rob Hallett’s Robomagic company went independent again after three years under Live Nation. The longstanding promoter has decades of experience in the industry, as an agent and promoter with Barrie Marshall’s Marshall Arts, Mean Fiddler, and then establishing AEG Live in the UK in 2005, before establishing Robomagic ten years later.

“At the moment, if you choose well, and you get your marketing right, things work well,” says Hallett. “I think the market still seems buoyant.

“I’m old enough to remember the last big recession, and we still got through it as an industry and people will still want to go to shows. People want to be entertained. So, I’m hopeful that we’ll get through this.”

 


The Global Promoters Report is published in print, digitally, and all content is also available as a year-round resource on the IQ site. The Global Promoters Report includes key summaries of the major promoters working across 40+ markets, unique interviews and editorial on key trends and developments across the global live music business.To access all content from the current Global Promoters Report, click here.

Inside the USA’s concert scene

The United States is the largest concert and event market in the world, yet there is only a handful of truly national promoters. Most touring is made up of a string of dates promoted by a network of regional promoters.

The sector is led by the goliath Live Nation. The other players in the industry are AEG Presents, LiveStyle (Electronic), Cardenas Marketing Network (CMN Presents), OCESA, MGM Resorts International, HYBE, and Another Planet Entertainment. There are also several well-known independents, such as Nederlander Concerts and Danny Wimmer Presents.

Between them, they account for the bulk of the country’s national promoters. Live Nation, for instance, holds stakes in C3 Presents, Red Mountain Entertainment, House of Blues, OCESA, and many others. AEG Presents includes The Bowery Presents, PromoWest Productions, Goldenvoice, Concerts West, and many more. HYBE recently acquired Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings, and Big Machine. They are responsible for recent tours by The Weeknd, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bad Bunny, BTS, and others, as well as major US festivals like BottleRock, Governors Ball Music Festival, Coachella, and more.

These giants continue to evolve, build, and acquire as the US demand for live entertainment continues. On the schedule for 2023 are Janet Jackson, Parker McCollum, Bono’s book tour, Bruce Springsteen, Morgan Wallen, Jill Scott, Def Leppard/ Mötley Crüe, and more.

Record year
According to Pollstar data, 2022 was the highest-grossing year for concerts, with the top 100 North America tours bringing in $4.8bn, way ahead of even 2019’s record-breaking $3.7bn. These tours sold 42.8m tickets in 2022 compared with 39.1m in 2019, demonstrating the pent-up demand in the market after everything ground to a halt during the pandemic.

Drilling into the detail, 2022 saw a significant rise in grosses at amphitheatres – up 18% on 2019 to $814m, with ticket sales up 2% to 12.6m, according to Pollstar Box Office reports. Arenas and theatres, however, didn’t fare as well, seeing a 2% drop on 2019’s numbers, to $4.49bn.

“We are still recovering. My business is nine to 12 months in advance of the current date”

But things aren’t necessarily as rosy as that picture might suggest. “We are still recovering. My business is nine to 12 months in advance of the current date. So, therefore, we are just now beginning to get paid from post-pandemic bookings, and our artists are just getting fully up to speed now,” said Jim Nestor, founder of the Jim Nestor Agency, who books a roster of award-winning blues and Americana artists internationally and in North America.

While the USA is something of a bubble in its own right, it’s not immune from global issues, and things such as the war in Ukraine, energy prices, and supply chain shortages that affected the rest of the world also had an impact here. Agents and promoters found themselves digging into granular details like never before, such as whether artists could get busses, crew, riggers, and so on.

The sheer number of shows also was a factor, with ticket sales patterns bearing little resemblance to pre-pandemic models. Ali Hedrick, agent at Arrival Artists told Pollstar: “There was so much competition, plus so much health and economic uncertainty at times that ticket counts were erratic and unpredictable.”

Economic problems throughout the country have derailed some scheduled tours for the year – inflation, supply chain issues, high shipping, transportation costs, and weaker currencies overseas have hit the live industry hard, and artists are being upfront with their fans about the costs touring brings.

“Far and away, my main problem in the UK and Europe is the devaluing of the pound and euro,” said Nestor.

International artists Animal Collective, Santigold, Little Simz, Sampa the Great, Moonspell, and Shinedown canceled scheduled tours or individual dates for 2022, citing financial difficulties. Anthrax and Stryker had to cancel dates due to tour bus shortages and travel fees.

“It’s been a mixed bag, but overall, it’s been positive”

“Being an independent artist, I pay for everything encompassing my live performances out of my own pocket, and touring the US for a month would leave me in a huge deficit. As much as this pains me to not see you at this time, I’m just not able to put myself through that mental stress,” said Little Simz on social media of her touring cancelation.

It shows that the everyday touring market can still be a challenge for the US business if you aren’t selling out stadiums like Taylor Swift, Harry Styles, or Elton John. Musicians returning to the road are being met with a more unstable landscape. Covid is still a threat, at least financially, and inflation is soaring.

“[For] those located outside of large metropolitan areas, selling out during the week can be challenging, but that’s often when the artist might have availability,” says Lisa White, director of communications for Nederlander Concerts.
Nederlander was behind A.R. Rahman’s three sold-out shows in three different markets, Bob Dylan’s three sold-out shows at the Pantages Theatre, and has seen an increase in show numbers for the Vina Robles Amphitheatre, which it operates.

Despite those successes, promoters remain cautious.

“It’s been a mixed bag, but overall, it’s been positive,” reflects White. “There are so many artists who are eager to tour, which presents the challenge of trying to accommodate as many as possible while still retaining audience interest and ticket purchases. Specifically for our Latin shows, the results have been incredibly strong nationwide since July 2021, which has certainly helped in our recovery.”

She adds: “Budgeting was a challenge because our budgets for things like labour and production expenses are mapped out many months in advance, with inflation by the time the shows happened, everything cost more. Also, it depends on the type of show – for some of our older [demographic] shows, there may be a little bit of slow down, as people are purchasing later.”

Festivals and blockbuster headline shows have remained strong in the US

Nevertheless, festivals and blockbuster headline shows remained strong in the US in 2022. Electric Forest, the electronic music and arts festival, is already sold-out for 2023. Tickets to Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour crashed the Ticketmaster platform, and the live music sector shows no signs of slowing down, despite the obstacles.

Live & online
Streaming live concerts continued to thrive in the US markets throughout 2022, yet another result of the Covid quarantine. The virtual event platform has made it possible for live music to go on, regardless of the circumstances.

Verzuz, created by urban/hip-hop artists Timbaland and Swizz Beatz is a popular virtual environment with a focus on virtual music. Veeps, created by Good Charlotte brothers Benji and Joel Madden, saw Live Nation purchase a majority stake. The digital landscape is here to stay with metaverse concerts (Ariana Grande) and the comfort of staying at home. With inflation, the cost of travel, parking, dealing with a lot of people, and hotel expenses – livestreaming at home with family and friends outweighs the potential costs.

Three out of four people attended online events throughout the pandemic, according to data by a division of United Talent Agency, called UTA IQ, and 88% indicated they plan to continue even though in-person events are back. The growth and adoption of technology platforms help bridge the gap between live concerts and virtual music streaming.

One solution artists have struck on to iron out the economic challenges of touring is to do a residency. This probably helped Las Vegas hit the top spot in the 2022 Pollstar Concert Rankings, with a reported gross of $197.2m from 1m tickets and 292 shows. It was followed by Los Angeles ($152.4m from 1.66m tickets and 199 shows), New York ($116.3m/1.4m tickets/881 shows), San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose ($105.5m/1m/214) and Chicago ($86m/1m/458).

Among the artists sticking in Vegas are Adele, Aerosmith, Carrie Underwood, and Usher, while 2023 will welcome global stars like Luke Bryan, Shania Twain, Garth Brooks, Miranda Lambert, Katy Perry, and Bruno Mars. The market is so hot, in fact, that Garth Brooks’s Live Nation-promoted residency recently added dates into 2024 due to “extraordinary demand.”

“Latin artists have been incredibly strong nationwide since July 2021, which has helped in our recovery and demand remains for them and marquee artists”

Younger stars are becoming more open to playing shows consecutively in the same location due to the cost benefits. Harry Styles played Madison Square Garden in New York City 15 times in a row – saving on travel costs. He did the same thing in Chicago, Los Angeles, and Austin.

Billy Joel has played Madison Square Garden monthly since late 2013 and hasn’t stopped, except for a Covid hiatus. He plays his 86th show there in December. The Garden residency has sold approximately $180m in tickets thus far. Live Nation’s president of touring, Omar Al-joulani told The New York Times that he expected 30 residency-type engagements for 2023. “That’s including a big Vegas year.”

However, having artists on the road is the bread and butter for most promoters.

Nederlander’s White explains that collaborations between local artists and packaging them for shows has been a successful method for artist building, promotion, and enticing artists to get out on the road. “Fans get more value for their money with multiple artists on the bill.

“Latin artists have been incredibly strong nationwide since July 2021, which has helped in our recovery and demand remains for them and marquee artists.”

She adds: “Investment could be a barrier for new artists, but there are also lots of acts on the Mexican and Urban side who are quickly coming up with strong traction off one song leading to growing social media numbers. A&R of their music, social media/digital strategies, and a strong management team are key to developing new artists. Additionally, engaging with fans online is so important, as is leaning into the fact that users on platforms like TikTok don’t expect videos to be as polished as content on other platforms.”

“The more people pay for shows, the fewer shows they can go to — that’s a fact”

Looking ahead, there’s a sense of bullishness in the US market – with a healthy dose of caution. Seth Hurwitz, chairman of promoter and venue-owner I.M.P., told Pollstar: “I never doubted that people couldn’t wait to get back to shows. And right now, they seem to have an insatiable appetite for it. But they got to run out of money at some point, don’t they? We already have eight sell-outs at Merriweather [Post Pavilion] for late 2023… it’s nuts.

“Unfortunately, my prediction is that people will continue to rationalise treating tickets as a fluid commodity and try and milk the public for all they’re worth. While this may earn the big acts top dollars, it will keep people from affording to go to the smaller shows that build acts to get to that point. The more people pay for shows, the fewer shows they can go to — that’s a fact. As a small and midsize venue operator and promoter, this is something I have to care about.”

 


The Global Promoters Report is published in print, digitally, and all content is also available as a year-round resource on the IQ site. The Global Promoters Report includes key summaries of the major promoters working across 40+ markets, unique interviews and editorial on key trends and developments across the global live music business.To access all content from the current Global Promoters Report, click here.

Global Promoters Report 2022: Japan

Japan, the second-biggest music market in the world, was at a peak when the pandemic struck, with 31,889 concerts in 2019 and sales of ¥366.5bn, according to the All Japan Concert and Live Entertainment Promoters Conference (ACPC).

That year, Japan notched up 49.5m spectators, before the line on the graph plummeted in familiar fashion, and the industry has been building back since.

Domestic talent accounts for by far the larger part of the Japanese business, which has greatly scaled back its 1980s and ‘90s obsession with international artists and now stands at about 80:20. Consequently, international artists coming to Japan are frequently struck by the difference in the scale of their popularity compared to elsewhere.

“Some stadium-class acts are still arena level in Japan,” says Layli Odamura of prominent international promoter Creativeman Productions. “This makes it difficult for some acts to even consider coming to Japan, but for Japanese fans, it is just so important to have presence locally.

“We encourage artists to consider coming to Japan as part of their world tour even if the fee or the venue size may not match what they get in the rest of the world.”

“We encourage artists to consider coming to Japan as part of their world tour even if the fee or the venue size may not match what they get in the rest of the world”

The lack of a full lockdown meant that domestic shows were able to continue at a smaller scale. The international business, meanwhile, stopped dead but has come back as strong as it can in opened-up 2022, despite logistical challenges.

Japan has large numbers of domestically focused promoters – the ACPC has 68 members and 101 associate members – but relatively few specialise in international artists. Key international promoters in Japan include Hayashi International Promotions (H.I.P.), Creativeman, UDO Artists, and Fuji Rock promoter Smash Corporation, while Live Nation Japan also operates a heavy flow of shows.

H.I.P., which has been promoting overseas and domestic artists since 1981, remains one of the go-to promoters for international acts, having promoted stars including AC/DC, The Weeknd, Taylor Swift, and Bruno Mars, as well as Japanese artists and the international Ozzfest and Knotfest festival brands.

Creativeman promotes the Summer Sonic Festival in Tokyo and Osaka, which returned in August with around 40% international acts, including The 1975, Post Malone, Megan Thee Stallion, and Carly Rae Jepsen. Despite reduced capacity due to Covid precautions, 110,000 tickets were sold for Tokyo and 60,000 for Osaka.

“We had a very successful two-stadium show tour with Lady Gaga”

“Japan is still very much affected by [the] Covid situation, especially with the coming of winter,” says Odamura. “We have a large older demographic, so this is part of the reason why.”

UDO Artists retains a strong line in western legends – it has brought Deep Purple, Kiss, Jackson Browne, and Cheap Trick to Japan this year, though like many international promoters, UDO takes on plenty of domestic artists, too.

Smash’s Fuji Rock Festival took place at the Naeba Ski Resort in Yuzawa in July and was attended by 69,000 people, with a heavily mixed western-eastern line-up featuring Jack White, Vampire Weekend, YOASOBI, Halsey, Foals, and others.

Of the international corporates, Live Nation has also been working hard to strengthen its hand in Japan in recent years and has enjoyed a strong restart.

“We had a very successful two-stadium show tour with Lady Gaga,” says Live Nation Japan president Kei Ikuta, an experienced former UDO executive appointed in 2020. “The performance was incredible, and tickets sold out soon after the shows were announced. We also promoted Billie Eilish, which was another show that sold out very quickly, and it kicked off the new Ariake Arena – a premier venue made for the Tokyo Olympics.”

The 60-year-old talent agency Johnny & Associates has historically been perhaps Japan’s biggest promoter

The value of the Japanese yen against the US dollar stands at a 25-year low, notes Ikuta, resulting in heavy increases in ticket prices and heightening the challenge for incoming international acts.

“Conversely, this is an opportunity for Japanese acts to tour abroad and earn in foreign currency,” he says. “We have promoted an incredibly successful sold-out 13-date US tour with our colleagues in the US for the Japanese rock act Band-Maid and hope to replicate that success with other acts going forward.”

Of the domestic giants, the 60-year-old talent agency Johnny & Associates has historically been perhaps Japan’s biggest promoter. It specialises in boy bands, including many of the all-time biggest idol groups, such as ’90s and ’00s stars SMAP, Arashi, KAT-TUN, and KinKi Kids.

The company remains a behemoth – its current stable includes mega-selling acrobatic nine-piece Snow Man and seven-man international prospects Travis Japan – though the death of founder Johnny Kitagawa in 2019 has left the company in a transitional moment.

 


The Global Promoters Report is published in print, digitally, and all content is also available as a year-round resource on the IQ site. The Global Promoters Report includes key summaries of the major promoters working across 40+ markets, unique interviews and editorial on key trends and developments across the global live music business.

To access all content from the current Global Promoters Report, please click here.

Global Promoters Report 2022: Spain

Spain is a remarkably fertile market, with about 1,000 music festivals a year, including globally renowned names such as Barcelona’s Primavera Sound and Sónar, Madrid’s Mad Cool, Festival Internacional de Benicàssim, and Bilbao BBK Live. It has plenty of sturdy promoters and some flourishing live destinations, led by Madrid, Barcelona, and Bilbao.

In terms of promoters, Spain has a broad range of both hardworking indies and heavyweight corporates. The former camp includes the increasingly intrepid Primavera organisation, Producciones Animadas, Concert Studio, Houston Party Music, and The Project in Barcelona; RLM, Get In, Just Life Music, and Ground Control in Madrid; Valencia’s Serious Fan Music; Last Tour in Bilbao; Zaragoza’s Siamm Producciones; and Murcia rock specialist Madness Live!.

Joining the corporates in recent years has been the veteran Doctor Music, which sold a 63.5% share to CTS Eventim in May 2018, 35 years after staging its first shows. It remains a go-to for international and superstar acts. In partnership with Live Nation Spain, it was among the local promoters on AEG/ Concerts West’s Rolling Stones tour for its stop at Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid, with Bruce Springsteen, Robbie Williams, and Rammstein coming up in 2023.

“Although times are challenging, after two miserable years of Covid, I see lots of people wanting to enjoy live music again and going to concerts is a key part of this vital experience,” says Doctor Music CEO Neo Sala. “So yes, I see a big cause for optimism not only for the next year but also for the forthcoming ones.”

“I see lots of people wanting to enjoy live music again and going to concerts is a key part of this vital experience”

As well as its own activities, Live Nation holds a majority stake in leading Latin promoter Planet Events. As well as a joint venture with Mercury Wheels, Live Nation also operates a strategic partnership with Andalusian promoter Riff Producciones aimed at growing Spanish acts in overseas markets. Among the highlights of 2022 in the Live Nation camp were Planet Events’ Marc Anthony tour, postponed since 2020, and Live Nation’s own 27-date tour for Fito & Fitipaldis, which became Spain’s most popular tour of the year.

“2022 was the most challenging year I remember in my career, but it was worth it,” says Live Nation Spain president Robert Grima. “And now 2023 is looking to be possibly the best year for us. And the demand for shows and ticket sales keeps growing, which is a very good signal.

“We have big tours coming up next year for Coldplay, Harry Styles, Muse, Blink-182, Louis Tomlinson, and Lewis Capaldi, but we are also putting a very strong focus on local talent with national multiple tours of artists like Hombres G, Beret, El Kanka, and Rels B.”

Elsewhere, artist management company RLM, whose CEO Rosa Lagarrigue was the force behind Planet Events before its sale to Live Nation, has returned to promoting in recent years, taking on tours for Ricardo Arjona, Alejandro Sanz, Raphael, and Rozalén.

“It will be a great year in Spain, for the artists and for the public, who will be able to enjoy a wide offer of concerts”

Concert Studio chalked up record attendances at its summer festivals – the Festival Jardins Pedralbes in Barcelona and the Cerdanya Music Festival in the Pyrenees – and now looks towards the 25th edition of the Banco Mediolanum Festival Mil·lenni, which takes place across Barcelona and will run from October 2023 to May 2024, and the boutique Icónica Sevilla Fest, which in 2023 marks its third edition.

“It will be a great year in Spain, for the artists and for the public, who will be able to enjoy a wide offer of concerts. However, we see indications of a possible market saturation that will affect the work of all promoters,” says Concert Studio’s Carlos Perez.

Murcia-based promoter Madness Live! launched the new rock- and metal-focused Rock Imperium Festival in the city of Cartagena in June, headed by Scorpions, Europe, and others, and it will return next year across three days with Helloween and Deep Purple headlining. Madness Live! also has forthcoming shows with the likes of Iron Maiden, Bullet For My Valentine, Cannibal Corpse, and plenty of others.

Of Spain’s mighty festivals, 2022 was a big year for Primavera Sound. It closed the biggest edition in its 20-year history in June, welcoming nearly half a million people to the Spanish city of Barcelona after a two-year hiatus.

“We see indications of a possible market saturation that will affect the work of all promoters”

For its 20th anniversary celebrations, Primavera held its maiden US edition in Los Angeles in September, and November saw events in São Paulo in Brazil, Santiago in Chile, and Buenos Aires in Argentina, as well as the Primavera Weekender in Benidorm.

“There is a Primavera Sound community all over the planet,” Primavera Sound director Alfonso Lanza told IQ in the wake of the festivals’ South American debut, which drew more than 300,000 across the three editions. “It was very different in each country, but it was definitely the most passionate audiences I have ever seen.”

Since launching in 2016, the Live Nation-produced Mad Cool Festival in Madrid has grown rapidly from an overall capacity of 45,000 to 80,000. In July, the festival added a fifth day, and headliners included Muse, The Killers, and Metallica.

Andalucía Big Festival, a new event from the team behind Mad Cool, debuted on 8–10 September at Malaga’s Feria Ground, with acts such as Muse, Jamiroquai, Years & Years, Glass Animals, Michael Kiwanuka, Wolf Alice, Franz Ferdinand, and Aurora.

“There is a Primavera Sound community all over the planet”

However, the Mad Cool Sunset Festival in September was called off after organisers were unable to find a “suitable” replacement for Rage Against The Machine, who had recently cancelled all forthcoming dates in the UK and Europe.

Bilbao BBK Live, meanwhile, returned in July with more than 100,000 in attendance and LCD Soundsystem, The Killers, J Balvin, and the Pet Shop Boys on stage. Its organiser Last Tour International also stages the Kalorama and BIME Live events, as well as the new Cala Mijas Festival on the Costa del Sol in Malaga and diversifications into Portugal (MEO Kalorama festival) and Colombia (BIME Bogotá).

“This year, we feel that we are recovering the normal rhythm, although we predict a difficult year due to the social and economic situation,” says Last Tour director of communications Eva Castillo.

The Music Republic, owned by brothers David and Toño Sánchez, promotes festivals such as Arenal Sound, Viña Rock, Granada Sound, and Madrid Salvaje, and also acquired Benicàssim Festival from Madrid-based Maraworld in 2019.

 


The Global Promoters Report is published in print, digitally, and all content is also available as a year-round resource on the IQ site. The Global Promoters Report includes key summaries of the major promoters working across 40+ markets, unique interviews and editorial on key trends and developments across the global live music business.

To access all content from the current Global Promoters Report, please click here.

Global Promoters Report: The change-makers

As the breadth of countries on international tour routing has continued to grow, with so many markets available for concerts, the world can be an artist’s oyster. But what it’s taken to reach this point is in no small part down to the promoters in those territories making it happen. These imaginative, creative, practical people have refused to allow obstacles, governments, or a lack of infrastructure prevent them enabling artists from around the world to connect with fans – live.

As Luiz Oscar Niemeyer, one of Brazil’s pioneering promoters, says: “I’ve been in this business for a long time. We started bringing international acts to play here in the mid-80s. When I first started promoting here, we had no sound system in Brazil, no lighting, no generators. We had to bring everything in from abroad. But now Brazil is part of the international routing for acts. Brazil has developed a lot of professionals and equipment companies, meaning we have a proper live music industry here, which has grown in the last 30 years.”

And change is still being driven by promoters in many territories – a look at how promoters around the world lobbied governments over reopening measures during the pandemic is emblematic of this.

“It would be fair to say the obstacles [to organising shows in India] have been significantly broken down”

Entertainment and ticketing platform BookMyShow in India has been working tirelessly to improve the concerts industry in the subcontinent, as Kunal Khambhati, head – live events & IP, explains: “It would be fair to say the obstacles [to organising shows here] have been significantly broken down, with a state of flow achieved over the past five or six years when it comes to live entertainment acts across music, performance, comedy, and theatricals marking their presence in the country.

“India follows the umbrella taxation system of Goods & Services Tax (GST), and at the highest slab of 28% GST rate for live entertainment, taxation was a bottleneck for the live entertainment industry both in the pre- and post-Covid world.

In the aftermath of the pandemic, as the industry attempted to recover gradually, India’s live entertainment ecosystem required that the government wholeheartedly support the industry, and it has significantly played its role by bringing down taxation rates to 18% for live entertainment.

“This has been a significant boost to making more commercially viable acts and formats feasible in the country. Additionally, favourable regulatory policies such as easing infrastructure roadblocks to create and enable parallel venues for various formats and scales, streamlining timelines and permissions required to host events at various venues to make out-of-home entertainment accessible to millions of Indians, have aided and will continue to further help script a strong growth story for this industry and millions of jobs associated with it.

“BookMyShow has been working with both regulatory authorities and stakeholders across the value chain to resolve some of the challenges at state and central government levels, and while we have a long way to go to make the ecosystem ideal, it would be more than fair to say the work has already begun and is well underway, paving the way for some of these experiences to make their way to India over the past five or more years.”

“There was a long period where live performance was by far the biggest income stream for an artist. This created a shift”

Promoter power
Over the past two decades, promoters have become more important – one could argue more powerful – in an artist’s career, as live revenue now often makes up the bulk of a performer’s income.

As agent Obi Asika at United Talent Agency in the UK says: “There was a long period where live performance was by far the biggest income stream for an artist. This created a shift; promoters have used that influence to create huge businesses that meaningfully effect all aspects of the entertainment industry.

“Promoters are much more connected to all aspects of a project. For many artists, the most important barometer of success is how many hard tickets they can sell. In many cases, that is more important than how many albums they sell.”

Longstanding promoter Rob Hallett has decades of experience in the industry, working first as an agent and promoter with Barrie Marshall’s Marshall Arts before joining Mean Fiddler (later MAMA, now owned by Live Nation), and then establishing AEG Live in the UK in 2005. After ten years with the company, he launched Robomagic in 2015, later acquired by Live Nation but recently going independent again after three years with the multinational. His roster includes TLC, Sleaford Mods, Goldie, and Boy Better Know, as well as Duran Duran, who Hallett represented as an agent in the 80s.

“I think we’re finally being taken more seriously, as a major part of an artist’s life”

“I think we’re finally being taken more seriously, as a major part of an artist’s life,” he says. “It was always frustrating when we were making more money for the artists, but the labels had more power and influence. Labels seems to have disappeared from the mix pretty much these days. In the old days, a label would call you before you went to sell the tour, your marketing teams would talk about how you’d mesh your campaigns, but that doesn’t seem to happen anymore.”

But in the ever-changing space of the broader music business, recent years have seen a more joined-up approach across the whole artist team, says Rauha Kyyrö, head promoter at Finland’s powerhouse, the FKP Scorpio-owned Fullsteam. “Ten years ago, promoters had more of a free hand to do what they thought would work for artists, due to our market knowledge. Now, there’s much more involvement from the artist’s organisation, who are controlling the fine details, which means more reporting between the promoter, agent, and management. This is a good thing when it works smoothly – we should all be working together to do the best possible job for the artist – although it requires more staff in my office, making costs increase. And when it works well, it’s better for everyone, and it produces better results. However, with more people involved, it can sometimes slow down decision-making. For example, if there’s a delay in one part of the chain, you can miss marketing opportunities.”

Damon Forbes of Breakout in South Africa has worked with artists such as Modest Mouse, Frank Turner, Bonobo, and Texas. “We’re fulfilling a career development with an artist as a partner, and I think that role is something that became second nature to me because I’ve been in roles including label, manager, and promoter in my career,” he says. “It’s great to be part of that journey; one can hope that you deliver for an artist, and then you build with them on the follow-up tours.”

“It would be nice to have a more symbiotic relationship with labels on data. Targeted marketing is important nowadays and is something that’s relatively new”

A people business
Relationships, of course, have always played an important role in live music, as Niemeyer reflects: “In our business, what you build through the years is very important because at the end of the day, people look at your track record, your history, and with whom you have been working. Even though we are more professional business-wise and money-wise, your history remains important. When you’re bidding for a tour, if you’re the guy who’s done it in the past, you’re in a good position to get it again.”

This is even more important now, with the consolidation in the industry and the ever-increasing artist fees, he says. “For the first half of my career, we were a batch of independent promoters and independent companies. That’s not the case anymore, which makes competition much more difficult because now we have Live Nation and AEG here, so we have two major global players. As an independent, you have to find a way to fit in. Fortunately, I have been doing a lot with AEG, and I’ve done Live Nation things as well as the McCartney shows, the Rolling Stones on Copacabana Beach in 2006.

“Now it’s really become a cooperation business because no one can sign a cheque of $20m, $30m to make a show work.”
Fundamental to success is a close relationship with audiences. And data plays a fundamental part in understanding this.

As Hallett says: “What really sells the tickets is talking to people who want to know. It would be nice to have a more symbiotic relationship with labels on data. There are so many wasted eyeballs on you just throwing marketing out there. Targeted marketing is important nowadays and is something that’s relatively new.”

“People might have become used to getting what they want by bullying in the past, but there’s another way to do things”

A welcome change for promoters is the shift in how people treat each other. Most people who have been in the business for a long time will have tales of being shouted at by someone. But that’s changing now. Kyyrö says after more than 22 years in the industry, she’s “very happy with how the atmosphere and communication has developed. People are more friendly, but you still come across some very disrespectful behaviour and that needs to change. There’s no room for the abuse of power in this business. I think it can sometimes be difficult to stand up and call that out, especially when it comes to people who have been in the industry for a long time.

“Things have certainly improved, but there’s still work to be done. People might have become used to getting what they want by bullying in the past, but there’s another way to do things. And it’s up to everyone in the industry to call out that behaviour when they see it.”

Probably the biggest difference in how promoters work in recent years was driven by the pandemic. As we see throughout the Global Promoters Report, 2022 may have been the busiest year on record in terms of sheer number of shows. The idea of ‘three years packed into one’ certainly seems to have been borne out worldwide. Yet it’s been achieved by fewer people than ever before, resulting in exhausting levels of work all round.

“Before the pandemic, everyone had a routine, it was a well-oiled machine, but now, everyone is adjusting to being back again”

Stefan Wyss, director of concerts and touring at major Swiss promoter Gadget abc, says: “Everything needs more work than it did before the pandemic. You have to go into more detail on everything and examine every specific aspect of a show. You have to go into more detail on staff because sometimes there aren’t enough, sometimes you need to find riggers, you need to do rollcalls with stagehands.

“Before the pandemic, everyone had a routine, it was a well-oiled machine, but now, everyone is adjusting to being back again.

“Everything has gone from zero to 150%, but luckily, it’s worked without massive problems. I think everyone is really tired, but they should be proud of what’s been achieved.”

At its heart though, the job remains the same. Hallett says: “There’s no such thing as a bad tour, only a bad deal. So, as long as you get your deals right and you’re working with good people, it’s pretty much the same. It’s just how you go about it that’s different.”

What drives most promoters is connecting fans and helping to grow the artists they love. Forbes says: “There’s nothing more exhilarating than seeing a crowd being totally into the music, whether it’s a smaller-capacity club-type venue or a big space. It’s a rewarding feeling, which you can’t actually bottle – it’s like lightning, I wish I could capture it, because at the end of the show, it’s gone. That’s the big driver: believing that you are making that difference because you’re seeing that connection, live as it happens.”

 


The Global Promoters Report is published in print, digitally, and all content is also available as a year-round resource on the IQ site. The Global Promoters Report includes key summaries of the major promoters working across 40+ markets, unique interviews and editorial on key trends and developments across the global live music business.

To access all content from the current Global Promoters Report, please click here.

Global Promoters Report 2022: Germany

The Global Promoters Report, a first-of-its-kind resource that highlights the world’s leading promoters and the 40 top markets they operate in, is now available to subscribers of IQ.

In an excerpt from the guide, IQ delves into the biggest touring market in Europe and the third-biggest in the world: Germany.

 


Germany is the biggest market in Europe and the third-biggest in the world, after the US and Japan. It generated revenues of around €5bn a year in pre-Covid times, though things are significantly tougher since the return of unrestricted shows in spring 2022, as energy prices and economic concerns squeeze sections of the market.

The German promoting business remains muscular and is largely steered by powerful consolidated groups – from local giants CTS Eventim, FKP Scorpio, and DEAG, to Live Nation – though there remain a number of hardworking independents.

Between them, the big groups account for a significant chunk of the nation’s national promoters. CTS Eventim, for instance, holds stakes in FKP Scorpio, Semmel Concerts, DreamHaus, and Peter Rieger Konzertagentur, accounting collectively for recent tours by Rolling Stones, Ed Sheeran, Muse, Måneskin, and others, as well as major festivals including Rock am Ring and Rock im Park and Hurricane/Southside.

Live Nation GSA entered the market in 2015 through its acquisition of Marek Lieberberg Konzertagentur (MLK). It brings all the expected superstar tours you would expect – Bruce
Springsteen, for one, arrives next July for four German stadium shows and another in Austria, while Sting, Lil Nas X, Bryan Adams, and Rosalía did the rounds before Christmas.

Live Nation bulked up further in September, adding longstanding independent Goodlive to its holdings. The festival, booking, and services agency brings events including Munich debutante Superbloom, electronic fest Melt!, and hip-hop and reggae event Splash! in Ferropolis; metal and punk festival Full Force in Löbnitz; and hip-hop event Heroes in Geiselwind.

“The majority of acts – especially those not in the top range or having a buzz right now – are struggling to sell tickets”

The Eventim-affiliated, Hamburg-based FKP Scorpio is, of course, a group in its own right, operating across the Nordics, Austria, Benelux, the UK, and Poland. In Germany, it has lately promoted stadium shows for Sheeran and the Stones, as well as a heavy slate of festivals – from the twin Hurricane and Southside indie events to M’era Luna in Hildesheim, Highfield in Großpösna, and Berlin’s Tempelhof Sounds.

Broadly speaking, festivals and blockbuster headline shows have remained strong in Germany this year. Cities like Berlin, Cologne, and Munich remain busy, affluent markets for live shows, with Hamburg not far behind.

But in a time of economic uncertainty fuelled by the war in Ukraine – combined with a perfect storm of post-Covid factors that have put a premium on material and staffing of all kinds – the softness of the everyday touring market is a major challenge for the German business. While the biggest acts sail on undaunted, all promoters have tales of smaller shows either half-filled or cancelled due to weak demand.

“Looking at this demographically, the younger people are going to shows more in comparison to older people, but in general it’s challenging,” says FKP Scorpio CEO Stephan Thanscheidt.

“Of course, there are some acts that sell all the time, but the majority of acts – especially those not in the top range or having a buzz right now – are struggling to sell tickets. A lot of acts are cancelling at the moment, and not for logistical or other non-transparent reasons. They are just saying, very openly: we can’t make this tour financially work with the ticket sales and the costs we have. They are potentially playing to half the people, with double or triple the cost.”

“You put great acts on, you put great support acts on, you really think about pricing, and still ticket sales are running at 50%”

All promoters have been forced to reckon with a very different market in 2022, even as they have scrambled to honour the previous two years’ worth of Covid-era tickets.

“You put great acts on, you put great support acts on, you really think about pricing, and still ticket sales are running at 50%,” says Scumeck Sabottka, founder of independent Berlin-based Robbie Williams and Rammstein promoter MCT Agentur, who, again, notes that his flagship shows have done very well.

“Maybe next year it gets better, but I think the new normal could easily be 70%, so we need to gauge our costings and offers on that. At the moment, I think we, as promoters, are carrying a lot of pressure on our shoulders.”

German promoters in the DEAG stable include Frankfurt veteran Wizard Promotions – now under the stewardship of Oliver Hoppe, son of legendary founder Ossy – which leans in a rock direction, with Iron Maiden, Def Leppard/Mötley Crüe, and Scorpions all on the schedule for 2023. Hoppe junior, (who in September added the title of DEAG executive vice president, product and innovation to his Wizard responsibilities), shares the mixed outlook, “All in all we managed to entertain over a half a million visitors in the summer, and that was tough work but also an exciting exercise. But it’s a struggle. Nobody knows where inflation, labour shortages, energy costs, and the ongoing pandemic will take us.

“There seems to be a pattern that high-demand shows are still high in demand, but I am very concerned about club shows and emerging artists. I am expecting every day for some grand-scale tour to hit the wall, but so far, from what we are hearing and seeing from the market, that isn’t happening – so I think there is hope.”

“We see strong sales on A+ talent and established festivals but soft ticket sales on everything else”

Also in the DEAG family – along with UK promoter Kilimanjaro Live, whose Stuart Galbraith recently ascended to the group role of executive vice president international touring – are Christian Doll’s Stuttgart-based C2 Concerts and the German arm of I-Motion. The former’s 2022 tours include German dates for the Harlem Globetrotters; the latter, part-acquired in 2019 from US promoter Randy Phillips’s LiveStyle, operates several long-established electronic music festivals including Mayday, Nature One, and Ruhr in Love.

Sina Hall, Semmel Concerts senior project manager, entertainment, says dialogue with agents and other stakeholders is ongoing, as the market adapts to a new set of conditions. “If you look at the situation for promoters or clubs that are not necessarily part of a group of companies, most of them most likely used their money to make it through the pandemic, so they have to be more risk-conscious when making decisions now,” says Hall.

Relatively few promoters have launched during Covid times, for obvious reasons, but one exception is DreamHaus, the CTS-Eventim-backed venture helmed by former Live Nation GSA managing director and COO Matt Schwarz, which landed in early 2021 with one significant advantage over the wider market. “The beauty of being a start-up during Covid times is that we didn’t have to deal with any aftermath of cancelled or multiple-postponed events,” Schwarz noted in IQ’s recent German market report.

In other respects, DreamHaus – which operates the blockbuster Rock am Ring and Rock im Park festivals, as well as Tempelhof Sounds and arena shows this year for Lewis Capaldi, Yungblud, Muse, Måneskin, and others – sounds a familiar note of caution.

“We see strong sales on A+ talent and established festivals but soft ticket sales on everything else,” says Schwarz. “Pushing down the increased costs of touring and local production to the customers via higher ticket prices is not a sustainable solution. The worst is yet to come, so we are more selective in our bookings and the M.O. is ‘less is more’ for now.”

“The worst is yet to come, so we are more selective in our bookings and the M.O. is ‘less is more’ for now”

In its structure, Germany is a unique market. Under its distinctive regionalised system, local promoters with strong local knowledge typically co-promote with national promoters in any given city.

The local promoting business these days also betrays a strong corporate interest. Eventim owns a number of such promoters, including Bavaria’s ARGO Konzerte, Cologne’s Dirk Becker Entertainment, Promoters Group Munich, and Vaddi Concerts in south-west Germany.

Other prominent local operators include DEAG companies ACT (Berlin), River Concerts (Hamburg), Rhein Main Concerts (Frankfurt), Global Concerts and KBK (both Munich) and Handwerker, based in Unna; Hannover Concerts, in the northern German city of the same name; and Undercover, based in Braunschweig and operating in northern Germany and beyond, which was acquired by BMG in 2020 to lay the foundations for a new live music and events unit.

Some local promoters have expanded well beyond their original regions: Semmel Concerts, now a major national player, focused on Bavaria and Eastern Germany when it first launched more than 30 years ago.

These days, its shows span Germany and Austria and its calendar includes three postponed Berlin dates on Elton John’s farewell tour next May, as well as concerts by Hans Zimmer, Céline Dion, John Cale, and others next year.

“It makes the business kind of boring if there are only three or four big corporates fighting each other”

In a globalised era where scale and network clout count more than ever, Germany is hardly the only market in which independent promoters have inexorably been absorbed into international groups. Ben Mitha, managing director of Hamburg-based Karsten Jahnke Konzertdirektion, the persistently independent promoter founded by his grandfather, doesn’t condemn any other company for doing so, though he maintains that the market needs indies for its all-round health.

“I totally understand those people, especially in these last two challenging years, who are seeking shelter under a corporate umbrella,” says Mitha. “At the same time, it makes the business kind of boring if there are only three or four big corporates fighting each other. I think you also need those independents out there doing it for the passion or investing in some niche that might not be interesting for the big companies.”

Karsten Jahnke’s forthcoming shows include a Hamburg appearance for Robbie Williams as well as dates for Avril Lavigne, Arctic Monkeys, Wolf Alice, Elton John, and numerous smaller acts. This year’s successes have included The Cure and 49 nights at Hamburg’s Stadtpark for the Open Air series, with Deep Purple, Sting, Joe Jackson, Michael Kiwanuka, and Olivia Rodrigo among those collectively selling 170,000 tickets.

Among the market’s other nationally focused indies, is Berlin-based booker and national promoter Z|ART, founded in 2014 by Max Wentzler and Hauke Steinhof. Wentzler says there are enthusiastic audiences out there for fresh talent but suggests spiraling costs can easily have a brutal effect on promoters, even when a show is an apparent success.

“We are used to suffering in the live business, but it is haemorrhaging a little bit,” says Wentzler. “Margins have been decimated, basically, and it feels like all the income is being eaten up by security, ticketing, and stagehand companies, and also venues, who have increased their rates in response to energy prices because they are going to get hit with a huge bill.”

“Margins have been decimated, basically, and it feels like all the income is being eaten up”

Other independents include Hamburg’s a.s.s. concerts & promotion. Part of the Mehr-BB Entertainment Company, a.s.s. has operated as a booking agency and tour promoter for German and international rock, pop, folk, jazz, and world music artists since 1979, presenting up to 1,200 concerts a year.

A Covid-era consolidation saw two more Hamburg-based concert promoters, Funke Media and Neuland Concerts, merge to form what the company describes as “one of the largest owner-managed concert agencies in Germany.”

Operating as Neuland Concerts and working as both promoter and agency, Neuland’s current schedule includes dates for German stars Ina Müller and Max Mutzke. In Munich, Astrid Messerschmitt’s United Promoters has a superstar pedigree, having worked shows for Eric Clapton, AC/DC, and others, as well as maintaining a longstanding relationship with legendary veteran Marcel Avram.

Hamburg’s Music Minds Productions has also seen it all and has recently staged shows for 50 Cent at Cologne’s Lanxess Arena and The Police’s Andy Summers in Hamburg and Berlin. Of the market’s standalone festival promoters, Cosmopop is responsible for the 28-year-old Time Warp electronic festival in Mannheim and its international editions in Brazil, Chile, and the US; Opus produces the renowned Jazzopen Stuttgart; while ICS (International Concert Service) controls Wacken Open Air in Schleswig-Holstein, which remains one of the world’s biggest and most-esteemed rock festivals.

“I would wish that in many cases solution-oriented thinking could come forward instead of ego-driven thinking”

The market is competitive and tough, with even the winners licking their wounds after a bruising year. Superbloom managing director Fruzsina Szép – recently profiled in the German editions of Rolling Stone and Vogue as the one and only woman in charge of a German festival – believes more collaboration would benefit all.

“I don’t see any other festivals as competitors,” she says. “I’m really happy to have many great festivals in Germany, in Europe, in the UK. And if we have to tackle the same problems, then why not learn from each other to make it better?

“I’m very much in balance with my own ego, and I would wish that in many cases solution-oriented thinking could come forward instead of ego-driven thinking. People shouldn’t be afraid to say, ‘Well, we had problems, we had challenges.’”

 


The Global Promoters Report is published in print, digitally, and all content is also available as a year-round resource on the IQ site. The Global Promoters Report includes key summaries of the major promoters working across 40+ markets, unique interviews and editorial on key trends and developments across the global live music business.

To access all content from the current Global Promoters Report, please click here.

Global Promoters Report 2022 out now

The Global Promoters Report (GPR), a first-of-its-kind resource that highlights the world’s leading promoters and the 40 top markets they operate in, is out now.

The new report, available to subscribers of IQ, is an indispensable guide to the industry’s leading promoters and touring territories.

The inaugural edition includes key summaries of the major players working with international artists, unique interviews and insight into each of the world’s top live music markets and dedicated editorial on key trends and developments across the global live music business.

“The promise of the ‘roaring twenties’ certainly came true this year, with record numbers of shows and sales worldwide,” says GPR editor James Drury. “More shows by more artists, grossing more than ever before – the top 100 tours worldwide brought in $6.2bn this year, eclipsing even the previous record in 2019, according to Pollstar’s 2022 box office data.”

“Each of the market profiles includes overviews of touring conditions for artists at all levels, from stadium-fillers to those looking to break into new territories. With invaluable insights, it presents local conditions, challenges and opportunities, and interviews with the very people who know their home turf best.”

This year’s GPR is available in print, digitally, and on this dedicated year-round mini site. To purchase a print copy of the report, get in touch with [email protected].

A preview version of the Global Promoters Report 2022 is below.

 


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