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Mark Girton appointed to Empire Polo Club role

Los Angeles-based Goldenvoice has named Mark Girton as VP, special events of Empire Polo Club — home to Coachella and Stagecoach festivals.

Girton was most recently SVP of special events at Goldenvoice owner AEG Presents. His new role follows the recently signed long-term agreement with the Empire Polo Club giving Goldenvoice year-round operational control of both the venue and special-events property the Grand Oasis.

The new agreement, combined with Goldenvoice’s existing operation of the Eldorado Polo Club, will give Girton oversight of special events at the nearly 900 acres now controlled by the company.

“I’m going from one dream job to another”

“I am grateful and excited for the opportunity to grow and develop new events at both the Empire Polo Club and the Grand Oasis,” says Girton. “Working across our properties nationally on special events these past 13 years has been a remarkable experience; I’m going from one dream job to another.

“Collaborating with Goldenvoice on developing new business activity is the apex of my years in the live entertainment business and I look forward to the challenge.”

The former general manager of Blossom Music Center in Ohio (under House of Blues Concerts/Live Nation), Girton joined AEG in 2008 as the original general manager for The Novo, located at LA Live in downtown Los Angeles.

Stacy Benaderet, previously VP of sales and marketing for AEG’s special events venues, will assume Girton’s prior responsibilities at AEG Presents, and will be responsible for all special events across the US.

“Mark brings a wealth of experience within our company and the industry to this new position; he’s the perfect candidate to ensure we continue to develop and expand our business in the desert,” says Shawn Trell, EVP and COO, AEG Presents. “Stacy was the obvious choice to step into Mark’s role. She has the vision, skills, and drive to bring real opportunities to this area of our business. I couldn’t be more proud to see Mark and Stacy in these critical roles at each company.”

In her former role Benaderet, oversaw national sales at all AEG Presents’ venues across the country, including sites like Webster Hall in New York City and the Shrine Auditorium and Expo Hall in Los Angeles.

“I am honoured and humbled to be heading AEG Presents’ special events efforts nationwide,” she adds. “Mark has set a very high standard and built an incredible foundation for our department, and I’m thrilled to represent our ever-growing portfolio of venues and our upcoming venue showcase events this year and beyond.”

“In celebration of our first summer back at full capacity, we wanted to do something for our community to ensure live music would be enjoyed as often as possible”

AEG Presents has also launched its first traveling mobile box office in Denver, operating out of Mile High Pretzel Co’s food truck. The truck will sell fee-free tickets to upcoming concerts at the Bluebird Theater, Gothic Theatre, Ogden Theatre, Mission Ballroom, and Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre, as well as give away free concert tickets, prizes, and Philly-style pretzels over the summer.

The “Denver Concert Truck” offers fans the opportunity to purchase tickets without fees, but with face-to-face interaction. It will operate out of two windows, with Mile High Pretzel Co. serving pretzels on one side, and AEG Presents facilitating ticket purchases and offering giveaways on the other.

“In celebration of our first summer back at full capacity, we wanted to do something for our community to ensure live music would be enjoyed as often as possible,” says Kellie Owens of AEG Presents, “Our hope is that the truck brings that human connection back to purchasing tickets, while also saving fans a few bucks.”

Shows available for purchase include Jack Johnson, The Flaming Lips, Boyz II Men with the Colorado Symphony, James Taylor and his All-Star Band, Bright Eyes, Mandy Moore, Alice in Chains and Switchfoot.

Denver Concert Truck will move around several locations in the area such as Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre, Civic Center Park, Santa Fe Arts District and Empower Field at Mile High.

 


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AEG’s Melissa Ormond named Goldenvoice COO

AEG Presents has announced that Melissa Ormond has been appointed chief operating officer (COO) of Goldenvoice in Los Angeles.

The respected industry veteran will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the company’s concert promotions, venue portfolio and festivals, as well as strategic growth initiatives throughout California and the western US.

In addition to her new role, she will also retain her current title as COO of festivals for AEG Presents, continuing to work with the teams behind brands such a Coachella, Stagecoach, New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, British Summer Time Hyde Park and Electric Forest.

“Melissa’s reputation precedes her,” says Goldenvoice CEO Paul Tollett. “She’s a brilliant executive and one of the most dedicated, clear-eyed, hardworking people I’ve met. I’m so happy she’s joining Goldenvoice in this new role.”

“Goldenvoice has an extraordinary history”

Prior to joining AEG Presents, Ormond served as president of Madison Square Garden Entertainment and also held leadership positions at House of Blues Entertainment/Universal Concerts/MCA Concerts in Los Angeles and Delsener/Slater Enterprises in New York City.

Ormond began her career in Washington DC at the 9:30 Club, rising to general manager, while simultaneously working for the concert promotion firm IMP, Inc.

“Goldenvoice has an extraordinary history,” says Ormond. “The name itself has become synonymous with a curation of live experiences on the West Coast that’s unmatched. I am thrilled to be working directly with the company across the entire business and helping the Goldenvoice team guide its exciting future.”

 


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Goldenvoice details new San Francisco festival

Goldenvoice has revealed details of a brand new festival called Portola, coming to the US city of San Francisco this autumn.

Portola is slated to take place on 24 and 25 September at Pier 80, a 60-acre shipyard that boasts SF’s largest cargo terminal.

The Chemical Brothers and Flume will headline the festival, while Kaytranada, Jamie xx, Jungle, Charli XCX, James Blake and M.I.A are among the supporting cast.

The festival, which is organised in association with local event management company Non Plus Ultra, is scheduled only a month and a half after Outside Lands 2022 and a week before Hardly Strictly Bluegrass – both of which draw hundreds of thousands of fans to the city.

Portola’s name is reportedly a reference to the Portola Festival of 1909, which signalled a reopening of the city after the 1906 earthquake and drew an estimated one million people to its opening parade.

The new festival is one of a slate of inaugural events announced by AEG subsidiary Goldenvoice, including This Ain’t No Picnic, Palomino and California Vibrations.

In the US, Goldenvoice produces several festivals, most notably Coachella, as well as operating 14 mid-sized venues and promoting over 1,800 shows per year.

Goldenvoice's Portola festival

 


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AEG’s Goldenvoice announces new LA festival

Goldenvoice, one of the largest promoters in the world, has announced a brand new alt-country festival for Los Angeles.

Palomino Festival will debut on 9 July at Brookside at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, featuring some of the biggest names in country, folk, bluegrass, and pop.

Kacey Musgraves, Willie Nelson & Family, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, and the Old Crow Medicine Show are among the acts slated to perform at the one-day event.

Other artists announced for the inaugural event include Orville Peck, Valerie June, Paul Cauthen, Charley Crockett, Nikki Lane, Morgan Wade, Sierra Ferrell, Low Cut Connie, Langhorne Slim, Sierra Hull, Jamnie Wyatt, Ian Noe Loga Ledger, Amythyst Kiah, and special guests The Compton Cowboys.

AEG-backed Goldenvoice has already built a dedicated audience of US-based country music fans via its Stagecoach Country Music Festival.

“It has been a dream to do a festival taking a modern, fresh approach to today’s alt-country music”

“It has been a dream for as long as I can remember to do a festival taking a modern, fresh approach to today’s alt-country music. Artists in the space have been pushing boundaries, creating sounds that are brand new,” says Goldenvoice talent buyer Stacy Vee, who also oversees the bookings for the company’s Stagecoach festival.

“I wanted to fan these flames and celebrate this changing culture. We at Goldenvoice love doing things ‘our own way,’ and there are a lot of artists out there right now doing the same thing. We came together to celebrate carving your own path: this is Palomino.”

Palomino is the latest new festival Goldenvoice has announced after This Ain’t No Picnic and California Vibes.

In the US, Goldenvoice produces several festivals, most notably Coachella, as well as operating 14 mid-sized venues and promoting over 1,800 shows per year.

 


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Two Coachella lifetime pass NFTs fetch $250k each

Ten Coachella lifetime passes auctioned off as part of a non-fungible token (NFT) series have sold for a combined $1.5 million (€1.3m).

The ‘Coachella Keys’ collection grants admission to the 125,000-cap festival in Indio, California every year, along with a unique experience, and fetched a total of $1,474,000.

Two of the packages were sold more than $250,000 each. The Infinity Key NFT, which guarantees front-of-house views for one act, culinary experiences and private transportation, went for $270,000 and the Key to the Safari, which includes a luxury air-conditioned tent, raised $256,000. Elsewhere, the Key to the Dinner in the Garden, which also offers a professionally cooked meal in the Rose Garden, was snapped up for $140,000.

The NFTs, which can be bought, sold and traded, were issued on Solana’s blockchain. Resale prices for individual packages on Coachella’s marketplace have now reached up to $500,000.

Two other NFT collections: Sights and Sounds, comprising 10 digital collectibles “made up of iconic festival photos and never heard before soundscapes from the Polo fields”, and Desert Reflections, offering one of 10 digital renditions of an iconic Coachella poster, were limited to 10,000 and 1,000, respectively. Both sold out within hours, reports The Press-Enterprise.

“One year ago, NFTs were just starting to take off. Can you imagine where we might find ourselves two years from now?”

“One year ago, NFTs were just starting to take off,” Sam Schoonover, innovation lead for Coachella, told the publication. “Can you imagine where we might find ourselves two years from now?”

Coachella, which partnered with the cryptocurrency exchange FTX on the venture, says a portion of the proceeds will be donated to Give Directly, Lideres Campesinas, & Find Food Bank, while a royalty will support the creators involved.

Harry Styles, Billie Eilish and Ye (aka Kanye West) are to headline the Goldenvoice-promoted festival’s first in-person event since 2019, which will run across two weekends (15–17 and 22–24 April) at the Empire Polo Club. General sale tickets cost $449-$549, with VIP passes priced between $929 and $1,119.

Goldenvoice has announced vaccine passes and facemasks will no longer be required for this year’s Coachella and Stagecoach festivals.

A tweet from Stagecoach’s Twitter account reads: “As we prepare to spend an incredible weekend in the desert together we are announcing that there will be no vaccination, testing or masking requirements at Stagecoach 2022, in accordance with local guidelines.”

 


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Coachella to auction lifetime pass NFTs

Coachella Valley Arts & Music Festival is to auction 10 lifetime passes to the event as part of a series of non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

The ‘Coachella Keys’ collection grants admission to the 125,000-capacity festival in Indio, California every April. Each of the 10 passes will also offer a unique experience, such as the best views of the Coachella Stage, lifetime Safari camping, or a dinner prepared by a professional chef in the Rose Garden.

The auction begins on Friday, 4 February at 10am Pacific time (7pm CET) and will last for one week.

The launch includes two other NFT collections: Sights and Sounds and Desert Reflections. Sights and Sounds comprises 10 digital collectibles “made up of iconic festival photos and never heard before soundscapes from the Polo fields”. Priced $60 each, the run is limited to 10,000. Desert Reflections, meanwhile, offers one of 10 digital renditions of an iconic Coachella poster, with 1,000 available at $180.

Coachella, which has partnered with the cryptocurrency exchange FTX on the venture, says a portion of the proceeds will be donated to Give Directly, Lideres Campesinas, & Find Food Bank, while a royalty will support the creators involved. The NFTs, which can be bought, sold and traded, will be issued on Solana’s blockchain.

“Blockchain technology can give us the unique ability to offer tradable lifetime passes to Coachella”

“We’ve all seen how NFTs enable true ownership of art and media on the internet,” says Sam Schoonover, innovation lead for Coachella. “We wanted to take it one step further and use NFTs to enable ownership of experiences in the real world, too.

“Only blockchain technology can give us the unique ability to offer tradable lifetime passes to Coachella for the first time ever. We’re excited about building new utility and community for our fans with NFTs, and in FTX we found the partner that we trust to provide us with infrastructure and support to help us usher in this new frontier.”

Harry Styles, Billie Eilish and Ye (aka Kanye West) are to headline the Goldenvoice-promoted festival’s first in-person event since 2019, which will run across two weekends (15–17 and 22–24 April) at the Empire Polo Club. General sale tickets cost $449-$549, with VIP passes priced between $929 and $1,119.

Coachella is far from the first music institution to embrace the NFT boom. New York’s Governor’s Ball festival offered NFTs through a partnership with Coinbase for its 10th anniversary edition in 2021, while Live Nation announced a collaboration with artists to launch digital collectable NFT ticket stubs mirroring the unique section, row, and seat of each ticket purchased for select shows.

Last year, Dutch DJ Don Diablo sold what is thought to be the first-ever full-length concert NFT for cryptocurrency to the value of $1.2 million. The hour-long show, Destination Hexagonia, was created exclusively for the auction and sold within four minutes for 600 Ethereum (the second-largest cryptocurrency on the blockchain) on the SuperRare marketplace.

In addition, Kings of Leon generated more than $2m from a collection of non-fungible tokens the band put up for sale through blockchain technology company YellowHeart. The NFT Yourself sale included the band’s 2021 When You See Yourself album as an NFT, as well as an auction of six different ‘Golden Tickets’, which gave each successful bidder four front-row seats to one show of every Kings of Leon headlining tour for life.

The US rockers also teamed up with the Elon Musk-founded SpaceX to become the first act to send an NFT into space.

And on a related note, AEG’s Staples Center in Los Angeles was renamed the Crypto.com Arena as part of a new 20-year naming rights deal with the Singapore-based cryptocurrency platform, reportedly worth $700m.

 


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AEG sued over injury at California reggae festival

A man is suing AEG Presents in the US after allegedly being injured when he tripped on a cable at a reggae festival.

The claimant, Timothy Donnelly has accused Anschutz Entertainment Group and its AEG Presents and Goldenvoice subsidiaries of negligence and premises liability in relation to the alleged incident at the promoter’s One Love Cali Reggae Fest on 9 February 2020.

The Long Beach Post reports that Donnelly, who attended the event in Long Beach, California, for business reasons, is seeking unspecified damages for “physical and mental injuries” caused by tripping on black-taped cable.

The lawsuit states that part of the tape had raised, creating a “dangerous trap”

The lawsuit, filed with Los Angeles Superior Court, states that part of the tape had raised, creating “a dangerous trap to catch a pedestrian’s shoe or toe and cause that person to trip and fall”. It adds the tape was hard to see due to being stretched across a walkway of the same colour. Donnelly’s alleged injuries are depicted in a photo included in the suit.

AEG is yet to respond publicly to the claim.

The fifth annual One Love Cali Reggae Fest is a three day festival took place in Queen Mary Park from February 7-9 2020. Acts on the bill included Damian Marley, Lee “Scratch” Perry, The Wailers, Dirty Heads, Pato Banton, Sublime with Rome and Atmosphere.

 


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Friday round-up: World news in brief 7/1/22

Welcome to IQ‘s weekly round-up of news from around the world. Here, in bite-sized chunks, we present a selection of international stories you may have missed from the last seven days…

MEXICO:

Dead & Company and promoter CID Presents have cancelled their Playing in the Sand destination festival less than 24 hours before it was due to take place. The annual event had been set for Riviera Cancun over two weekends from 7-10 and 13-16 January, but has been axed due to a spike in Covid cases. “Dead & Company and CID Presents tried everything possible to bring normalcy and to deliver a great experience and amazing music, but with each day it became increasingly clear that cancelling is the correct thing to do for the fans and for our crew,” says a statement on the band’s Instagram page.  Dead & Company frontman John Mayer had earlier pulled out of the festival after testing positive for coronavirus.

UNITED STATES:

A woman has filed a lawsuit against California’s The Forum, promoter Live Nation and ticketing platforms Ticketmaster and StubHub, alleging she was injured in a crowd crush at a Harry Styles concert at the venue in December 2019. According to court documents obtained by TMZ, the plaintiff claims the venue, promoters and ticketing services “failed to provide sufficient seating, lighting, security, supervision and crowd control”.

UNITED STATES:

A US judge rejected Goldenvoice’s bid to extend a restraining order against Live Nation in its trademark infringement lawsuit over a rival music event called ‘Coachella Day One 22’. The event’s promoter, Native American Tribe Twenty-Nine Palms, was not listed as a defendant in the lawsuit after claiming sovereign immunity, but Live Nation was accused of “contributory infringement” due to tickets for the New Year’s Eve event being sold on Ticketmaster. The event listing had already been changed to ‘Day One 22’ on Ticketmaster, which was permitted to continue selling tickets for the festival after the judge concluded it was no longer directly infringing the Coachella trademark. Tribal chairman Darrell Mike praised the ruling as “a win for the tribe, the community and our ticketing partners at Live Nation”.

UNITED KINGDOM:

Bengi Ünsal, head of contemporary music at London’s Southbank Centre, is switching to The Institute of Contemporary Arts in March as its new director. Ünsal was artistic and managing director of Istanbul’s Salon IKSV venue prior to joining the Southbank Centre in 2016, where she has overseen the annual Meltdown festival with guest curators MIA, Robert Smith and Nile Rodgers. This year’s Grace Jones-helmed edition is set for June.

UNITED KINGDOM:

Well-being organisation Music & You has teamed up with beauty cosmetics firm Lush, entrepreneur Zoe Sugg, aka Zoella, and mental health campaign #IAmWhole to create a fund providing free therapeutic support to people who are working, or used to work, in the live music sector pre-pandemic. To apply, individuals should complete this application form by no later than midnight on Thursday, 20 January. Applicants will be notified of a decision by 22 January.

UNITED STATES:

TodayTix Group has acquired live events ticketing platform Goldstar. The deal marks the latest move for TodayTix, which has been on an acquisition spree since 2020,  purchasing four companies including theatre specialist Show-Score; London-based Encore and Broadway Roulette.“We are focused on unlocking as much potential as we can so when the industry returns we can be a big part of its recovery,” the company’s co-founder and CEO, Brian Fenty, tells Variety. “We are live events purists through and through. We really do believe that despite the toll of the pandemic, there’s going to be a Roaring ’20s. We believe that people are desperate for arts and culture and are eager to get back into theatres.”

UNITED KINGDOM:

Britvic has been named as The O2’s new Official Soft Drinks partner in a five-year deal, brokered by AEG Global Partnerships, with Pepsi Max served and seen across the London venue. The partnership will mean pouring and supply rights across all bars at Indigo at The O2 and concourse bars, suites and premium bars including The Deck, AMEX Lounge, O2 Blueroom and Sky Backstage bars at The O2 arena. The deal will also welcome a takeover of the level 1 bar which is to be rebranded as The London Essence Company bar. In addition, Britvic will have activation opportunities at the venue and access to tickets for Up at The O2 ­ for promotional use. Meanwhile, Birmingham-based NEC Group has announced a multi-year deal with Molson Coors Beverage Company, which is responsible for a portfolio that includes Pravha, Staropramen, Rekorderlig and Coors. The deal will see Pravha being named as the official beer of Utilita Arena Birmingham and Resorts World Arena with bars across both venues carrying the Pravha branding.

UNITED STATES:

Dice has ramped up its North American expansion by becoming the ticketing partner of the Newport Jazz Festival and Newport Folk Festival. The partnership will see the events, which will be held in Rhode Island in July, offer digital ticketing for the first time. “Every year of the event, we work with our partners to innovate beyond traditional ticketing,” says Newport Folk executive producer Jay Sweet. “In a year where fans deserve to get out and go see the music they love, we know Dice is the right partner to make things as easy as possible, fair, transparent and intuitive for our Newport Family. We want these tickets in the hands of our fans and not on the secondary market.”

 


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Coachella wins restraining order over rival event

Coachella has been granted a temporary restraining order against Live Nation in its trademark infringement lawsuit over a rival music event called ‘Coachella Day One 22’.

Live Nation is accused of “contributory infringement”, as Ticketmaster is selling tickets for the 31 December event, which is being organised by Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians at a Southern California venue it has named ‘Coachella Crossroads’.

“Despite repeated requests from plaintiffs, Twenty-Nine Palms has refused to adopt its own distinctive event name or venue name and marks,” states the original filing in the Los Angeles district court.

According to the Industry Observer, US district judge R Gary Klausner ruled yesterday (20 December) that Coachella Day One 22 would likely confuse people into thinking it was connected with the established Coachella Festival, run by AEG’s Goldenvoice division.

It notes the temporary restraining order will prevent the sale or advertisement of tickets while the case is further contested. The event listing had already been changed to ‘Day One 22’ on Ticketmaster.

Live Nation advances only one, uncompelling argument

Live Nation’s claim that the order was unnecessary since Coachella’s standing meant it was unlikely to be impacted by a similar-sounding event, was rejected by the judge.

“Live Nation advances only one, uncompelling argument [that] Coachella’s incredible success demonstrates that its reputation will not suffer material harm from [a] ‘one-night New Year’s celebration’,” he said. “This argument is simply unpersuasive.”

Twenty-Nine Palms is not listed as a defendant in the lawsuit as the Native American Tribe has asserted through its lawyers that it is entitled to sovereign immunity.

Coachella Festival is scheduled to return to the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California from 15-17 and 22-24 April 2022. Its last two in-person editions were cancelled due to Covid-19.

 


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Coachella sues Live Nation over ‘Day One’ event

Coachella Music Festival and producer Goldenvoice are suing Live Nation for trademark infringement over a music event called ‘Coachella Day One 22’, which is advertised on Ticketmaster.

The 31 December event is being organised by Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians at a Southern California venue it has named Coachella Crossroads.

‘Plaintiffs have no objection to Twenty-Nine Palms holding a festival of their own or hosting events at their venue, but it must adopt and use an event name and mark, as well as a venue name and mark, that avoid a likelihood of consumer confusion and false association with Plaintiffs,” states in the filing in the Los Angeles district court.

“Despite repeated requests from plaintiffs, Twenty-Nine Palms has refused to adopt its own distinctive event name or venue name and marks. Twenty-Nine Palms has even copied plaintiffs’ advertising, promotional and marketing materials, including incorporating similar color schemes along with design elements.”

The claimants note that Twenty-Nine Palms has refused to change the names of Coachella Day One 22 and Coachella Crossroads, despite numerous requests. However, the promoter is not listed as a defendant in the lawsuit as it is asserting through its lawyers that it is entitled to sovereign immunity.

Although Twenty-Nine Palms may have sovereign immunity, others contributing to the infringement do not have the same privilege

“Although Twenty-Nine Palms may have sovereign immunity, others contributing to the infringement do not have the same privilege and are subject to claims for contributory infringement as well as the court’s jurisdiction,” adds the suit.

“Accordingly, Plaintiffs have been forced to file this action to protect the Coachella trademarks and service marks from infringement, and unfair competition, and to protect the public from the likelihood of confusion.”

According to the lawsuit, Coachella and Goldenvoice sent cease and desist letters to both Live Nation and Twenty-Nine Palms in late October.

“The letter further demanded that Live Nation immediately cease all sales of tickets for the Coachella Day One 22 event, and any other music festivals, live music performances or similar events at the Coachella Crossroads, and remove all use of Coachella from any advertising for the event or venue, including on its website.

“Upon receipt of the October 28, 2021, cease and desist letter, Live Nation changed the listing… on ticketmaster.com to read ‘Day One 22’ rather than ‘Coachella Day One 22’. The event, however, continues to be advertised as Coachella Day One 22 in certain Live Nation advertising and in other advertising associated with the event.

“Despite knowing about the infringing conduct, Live Nation continued to provide services supporting Twenty-Nine Palms’ infringement and have materially encouraged, enabled, and contributed to the infringing conduct.”

Goldenvoice’s Coachella Festival is scheduled to return to the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California from 15-17 and 22-24 April 2022. Its last two in-person editions were cancelled due to Covid-19.

 


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