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Indie agencies join forces for advocacy group

A group of 14 independent talent agencies in the US has formed the National Independent Talent Organization (Nito), a non-profit advocacy group aiming to help small businesses through the Covid-19 crisis.

The founding companies, which include Entourage Talent, Ground Control Touring, New Frontier Touring and Skyline Artists Agency, together represent more than 2,000 artists and look to “promot[e] the welfare and prosperity of its members and their represented artists”, as well as working to protect the live music community as a whole.

The group has invited other small business within the US live music ecosystem, as well as majority owner-operated independent management companies, artists, crew and other live touring entities, to join them as associate members.

As of press time, Nito’s total membership stands at over 50 members and growing.

“We are speaking out collectively for ourselves and all those that we individually work to generate income for,” comments Wayne Forte, owner of Entourage Talent. “[That’s] not simply the musical artists we represent, but the thousands and thousands of people who rely on our industry and our work for their living.

“We are speaking out collectively for ourselves and all those that we individually work to generate income for”

“We have to continue to do this while inadvertently helping to frame and preserve the soundtrack of millions and millions of lives.”

While Nito states it is “still unknown” when live music as we know it will return, the group “will fight to keep this community alive until it’s safe again to gather with friends and other fans to share these experiences that are some of the best moments of our lives.”

The group follows the formation of the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) in the US earlier this year.

A full list of Nito founding members can be found below:

Entourage Talent / Wayne Forte
Ground Control Touring / Eric Dimenstein
High Road Touring / Frank Riley
Leave Home Booking / Stormy Shepherd
Madison House / Nadia Prescher
Mongrel Music / Brad Madison
New Frontier Touring / Paul Lohr
Panache Booking / Michelle Cable
Partisan Arts / Tom Chauncey, Hank Sacks
Pinnacle Entertainment / Scott Sokol
Sound Talent Group / Dave Shapiro
Skyline Artists Agency / Mark Lourie, Bruce Houghton
TKO / Steve Schenck
The Kurland Agency / Ted Kurland, Jack Randall

 


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Ground Control’s Jon Drape launches Engine No. 4

Event production veteran Jon Drape has launched Engine No.4, a new production company headquartered in Manchester, UK, as he retires the Ground Control brand.

The new company counts Parklife, Snowbombing Austria, Bluedot, Kendal Calling, Lost Village, Depot at Mayfield and the Warehouse Project among its clients.

Drape, former MD of Ground Control Productions, director at Broadwick Live and founder of Festival Safe, forms part of a core team of equal partners with Tommy Sheals-Barrett (Back On Your Heads Ltd), Jim Gee (N4 Productions) and Will McHugh (CC Events).

The decision to create Engine No.4 follows the withdrawal of Broadwick Live and Ground Control parent company, Global, from the festival space earlier this year.

“It was the ideal time for a rethink – it’s not just a rebadged version of Ground Control,” comments Drape. “We came to realise that a more streamlined business was the only sustainable option.

“With a desire to focus on quality events and festivals, I thought the best move forwards would be to form a new partnership of four equal shareholders and directors together, covering all elements of the industry and able to deliver more bespoke and considered solutions.”

“It was the ideal time for a rethink – it’s not just a rebadged version of Ground Control”

With over 30 years’ experience in the live industry, Drape managed production at legendary Manchester venue the Hacienda, later founding Ground Control in 2013. Drape is a patron for music charity Attitude is Everything and drug safety testing group the Loop.

Sheals-Barrett takes on the role of head of technical production, with 25 years’ experience managing production for Festival No. 6, Bluedot and Parklife.

Kendal Calling and Parklife operations director McHugh will handle the sponsorship side of the business, building on existing relationships with clients such as EE, Lynx, Nintendo and Carling.

Gee, whose recent projects include reopening Manchester’s 10,000-capacity Depot at Mayfield, will serve as the director and head of site management.

“We’re immensely proud of what we have achieved so far at the Depot,” says Gee. “Our remit was to transition the Warehouse Project from Store Street without losing the spirit and the vibe in a much larger venue. Somewhat of a challenge but something we have delivered.”

Operating from September 2019, Engine No.4 has new projects lined up to add to its existing client base.

International event production professionals will be gathering at the ILMC Production Meeting (IPM) on Tuesday 3 March at the Royal Garden Hotel in London.

 


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Law firm launches team to advise music stars

Shoosmiths, one of the leading law firms in the UK, has launched a new team to specifically focus on the needs of high-net-worth clients from the industries of media, music and sports. The firm hope to attract new clients in the form of agents, athletes and entrepreneurs.

As part of this new Elite Advisory Team, the firm has announced Haydn Roberts, former Manchester City head of player liaison, will take the lead.

At a launch event for the new team, where speakers included UK festival veteran Jon Drape (Ground Control/Broadwick Live), Roberts commented on his new role: “It is no secret that the quality of legal advice given can make or break careers in the world of sports and entertainment.

“At Shoosmiths we have specialist, full-service expertise which is not only rare but integral for these industries who require a full spectrum of legal advice.”

“The pressures on high-profile performers, whether in sport or music, are greater now than ever”

Present at the launch event was also former England international David Platt, who highlighted why the law firm was perhaps undertaking this new venture. Speaking to an audience of experienced people from the fields of music, media and sports, he explained that stars in the entertainment industries needed ready access to expert advice more so than in the past: “The pressures on high profile performers, whether in sport or music, are greater now than ever and they need 24/7 access to trusted, expert counsel.

“Haydn’s team and the team at Shoosmiths will be able to provide exactly this kind of service.”

The move is a collaborative effort between Shoosmiths’ private client and commercial practice groups. The specialist team will seek to maintain current trusted relationships between the law firm and high profile clients, as well as forge new relationships with prospective ones.

 


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Global launches new festival safety initiative, Festival Safe

Festival Safe, a new safety guide formulated by festival organisers, other industry professionals and emergency services, has launched in the UK ahead of this summer’s festival season.

The brainchild of Jon Drape – festival director of several high-profile UK events, including Parklife and Festival №6, and group production director of promoter Broadwick Live – Festival Safe (festivalsafe.com) aims to provide both first-time and regular attendees with the knowledge needed to reduce the harms associated with the festival experience.

The Festival Safe website went live today, and features information on every aspect of festivalgoing, including what to know before going, camping, crime, drugs and alcohol, sexual health, mental health and more. “Whether it’s as trivial as reminding festivalgoers to pack their wellies, to explaining key steps in managing a criminal incident, Festival Safe aims to fill the gap between festivalgoers and their lack of festival knowledge and to reduce harm,” reads a statement.

The initiative is backed by Global, the parent company of Broadwick Live and the the UK’s second-largest festival operator. Global-owned festivals include Field Day, Y Not, Hideout, Truck, South West Four, Victorious Festival, Snowbombing (Austria and Canada) and Festival №6.

“I realised no one had laid out a manifesto for how to have a great experience and not a festival fail”

“I’ve worked and attended hundreds of different festivals and events over the years, and I’ve literally heard it all from hypothermia in July to people not realising they have to bring their own tents,” comments Drape.

“Eventually you see patterns emerge and festivalgoers making the same mistakes and getting in the same jams year in, year out. It was at this point that I realised no one had laid out a manifesto for how to have a great experience and not a festival fail. That’s ultimately what Festival Safe is: a one-stop shop for how to have the best possible time.

“It’s not a rulebook to batter people around the head with – it’s a considered and knowing guide drawn from decades of collective experience, good and bad, to ensure everyone has an amazing time, from first-timers to seasoned veterans.”

 

In addition to Broadwick/Global events, Festival Safe has partnered with Live Nation’s Download, Community, Reading and Leeds, Wireless and Latitude and more, and is being made available to “all organisations invested in promoting wellbeing and safety at their events”.

 


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UK festival organisers’ cycle ride raises £12k for AiE

AIF’s fourth Festival Congress, which took place earlier this week, saw staff from festival promoter Broadwick Live, event producer Ground Control and security firm FGH Security present a cheque for £11,700 to Suzanne Bull MBE, CEO of Attitude is Everything, following the completion of a 140-mile, two-day charity bike ride.

The Coast to Coast challenge was undertaken in September by a 16-person team from the four companies, who cycled from Whitehaven in Cumbria to Tynemouth in Tyne and Wear to raise money for the charity, which campaigns to improve deaf and disabled people’s access to live music.

Ground Control Productions’ Jon Drape, an Attitude is Everything patron, says: “By partnering with events organisers and venue owners, Attitude is Everything have enabled thousands of deaf and disabled people to enjoy access to live music. Their work is genuinely life changing.

“As a patron of the charity, I was absolutely delighted to accept the Coast to Coast challenge and hope others in the live music business will be inspired to work with Suzanne and her team.”

A full account of the ride is available below via Storify:

 


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Attitude is Everything names new patron

Ground Control managing director Jon Drape has been named a patron of Attitude is Everything.

Drape (pictured), former production manager at The Haçienda and a 25-year veteran of the live music industry, joins fellow patrons Mat Fraser, Robert Wyatt, Susan Hedges, Alan McGee, Blaine Harrison, Amadou and Mariam, Isabel Monteiro, Paul Maynard MP, Lord Clement-Jones CBE and Mike Weatherley in lending his support to the British charity, which advocates for better access to live music for deaf and disabled people.

“It’s an honour to join Attitude is Everything’s exemplary roll call of patrons,” comments Drape. “I’ve worked closely with Suzanne and her team for a number of years and over that time have been proud to witness a real sea change in attitudes across the Ground Control-managed festival sites. I have the utmost belief in Attitude is Everything’s aims and am looking forward to taking an active role in helping them to continue in their great work for deaf and disabled music lovers.”

Draper’s recent projects include festivals Parklife, Live from Jodrell Bank and Festival №6, all of which qualify for Attitude is Everything’s Charter of Best Practice.

Suzanne Bull MBE, Attitude is Everything’s CEO, says: “I’m really excited that Jon has agreed to become one of our patrons. Since Autumn 2012, Jon has led by example and really championed to all of the Ground Control team, their suppliers, promoters and partners just how important it is to value deaf and disabled customers and to put inclusion and accessibility at the heart of their business.

“I believe that Jon will be a great advocate for Attitude is Everything, and for improving access to live music.”

In February, Attitude is Everything released its third State of Access report, which revealed that fourth-fifths of UK festivals and venues were missing out on the ‘purple pound’ by failing to provide good access information for disabled people.