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LN Urban and Mass Appeal team for Hip-Hop 50 Live

Live Nation Urban is joining forces with Nas’ entertainment company Mass Appeal to celebrate 50 years of hip-hop.

Mass Appeal is led by the American rapper along with creative director Sacha Jenkins and CEO Peter Bittenbender. Its “multi-year” partnership with Live Nation will see the companies collaborate on a series of hip-hop-centric live programming.

Events will range from park jams to festivals, reports Billboard.

“We are thrilled to partner with the world’s leading live entertainment company to bring fans one-of-a-kind experiences in celebration of hip-hop’s 50th birthday,” says Bittenbender. “We are planning to celebrate all facets of the culture and globe via this dynamic partnership.”

“Live Nation Urban was founded to redefine culture”

Kicking off this summer at US parks nationwide, other activities will include live DJ sessions, interactive experiences, pop-up merchandise and educational activations. Park Jams in November will be followed by programmes honouring Hip-Hop History Month.

“Live Nation Urban was founded to redefine culture,” adds Brandon Pankey, VP of business development and operations at Live Nation Urban. “To celebrate 50 years of hip-hop with Nas, Peter and the Mass Appeal team is absolutely the type of partnership that our company is excited to form to continue to tell the stories about our culture globally.”

Mass Appeal and Live Nation Urban will also bring fans original content, product collaborations and Web3 launches to mark hip-hop’s semi-centennial. A portion of all proceeds will be donated to various charities including the Universal Hip Hop Museum, which is set to open in 2024.

 


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Warner Music buys into Polish promoter Big Idea

Warner Music Poland has bought a minority stake in Big Idea, one of Poland’s leading concert and festival promoters.

Under the terms of the deal, the two companies will launch new festivals and expand the line-ups of Big Idea’s existing Yass! festival and other events.

They will also collaborate to expand Big Idea’s merch business and booking operations, and develop its NFT-powered Live Entertainment Ecosystem.

Founded in 2012 by veteran Polish music executive Sławek Ostruszka, Big Idea built a name for itself by bringing major US hip-hop artists to Polish audiences and fostering the growth of homegrown artists in the genre.

The promoter has organised shows with up to 20,000 fans for artists including Anderson .Paak, Denzel Curry, Ghostemane, Lauryn Hill, Machine Gun Kelly, Mobb Deep, Playboi Carti, The Game and Trippie Redd.

Big Idea staged the first trap music festival in Poland, Clout festival in Warsaw, which brought international performers such as City Morgue, Ferg, Fivio Foreign, Jack Harlow, Key Glock, SoFaygo and UnoTheActivist and White Widow to the region.

“We’re going to pour rocket fuel on the success of individual artists and grow the wider local hip-hop scene”

Polish hip-hop group White Widow are an early beneficiary of the partnership, having signed a record deal with Warner Music Poland and a management contract with Big Idea.

Big Idea also has a growing artist and booking management side of the business that works with the likes of Noon, Rizi Beizeti, Vkie, Young Multi and Yung Adisz.

The deal will see some two dozen acts either sign directly with, or be distributed by, Warner Music Poland.

Adrian Ciepichał, MD of Warner Music Poland, says: “We’re always looking to do more for our artists and this deal will enable us to do just that. We’re going to collaborate with Big Idea to pour rocket fuel on the success of individual artists and grow the wider local hip-hop scene. I’m looking forward to welcoming new artists to our local roster and helping them find a wider audience in Poland and internationally.”

Sławek Ostruszka, CEO and founder of Big Idea, adds “This partnership will help accelerate the growth of Big Idea and benefit the whole hip-hop community in Poland. Fans will be able to enjoy even bigger, better shows and more artists will get the opportunity to make a huge impact with fans. As live music emerges from the shadow of the pandemic, this feels like the right time to go for growth.”

 


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Goodlive and Live Base join forces in Germany

Goodlive and Live Base have formed a strategic partnership to deliver international rap artists to the German-speaking market via hip-hop festival Splash!

For the last two decades, Splash! (cap. 30,000) has cultivated Germany’s hip hop culture, providing a platform for up-and-coming domestic talent as well as established US acts.

This summer sees the Ferropolis-based festival return over two weekends for the first time since the pandemic, with headliners A$AP Rocky, Roddy Ricch, Lil Uzi Vert and KIZ.

Live Base, which is entering its 20th anniversary, launched as a club promoter and artist booking agency and has evolved into a music lifestyle and culture brand.

Collaborations include Bruno Mars at Chopard x Cannes Film Festival, A$AP Rocky at F1 Monaco Grand Prix, Pusha T & Lewis Hamilton x Tommy Hilfiger in Milan and the Drake official world tour after parties since 2011.

“Our aim is to present our guests with the strongest line-up of the year”

“We are very happy about the new co-operation with Live Base,” says Mirko Roßner, MD at Goodlive and founder of splash! “Our aim is not only to present our guests with the strongest line-up of the year but also to strengthen the involvement of the artists on all levels.

“This allows us to respond to the individual wishes of artists both nationally and internationally and to work together beyond the live area. Amer [Nawaz, Live Base founder] and his team are an ideal fit for Goodlive due to their experience and positioning as an independent partner.”

Nawaz adds: “We’re delighted to have this unique opportunity with an iconic brand who are embedded in the DNA of Germany’s youth.

“We have our fingers on the pulse, always. We thrive upon obstacles and are energised by the challenges ahead. With our experience, knowledge and relationships, we can’t wait to deliver Europe’s premier hip-hop festival!”

Alongside Splash!, Goodlive also promotes Germany-based festivals such as Superbloom, Melt, Full Force and Heroes.

 


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Woo Hah! Festival joins forces with Rolling Loud

The Netherlands’ Woo Hah! hip-hop festival has joined forces with US festival organiser Rolling Loud.

According to Entertainment Business, Woo Hah! x Rolling Loud is set to take place from 1-3 July 2022 at Beekse Bergen in Hilvarenbeek. Line-up details will be announced soon.

Launched in 2014, Woo Hah! has attracted major international acts such as J. Cole, A$AP Rocky, Stormzy and Tyler, The Creator.

We are always looking for how we can push the whole thing to a new level

“Over the past eight years, Woo Hah! has grown from a small festival to one of the largest players of its kind on the European market,” says festival director Ruud Lemmen. “We are super-proud of what we have built and are always looking for how we can push the whole thing to a new level.

“For the 20220 edition, we are starting a collaboration with Rolling Loud. This brand, in turn, is a leader in the American market with festivals in Miami, New York and Los Angeles. Together, we will ensure an unforgettable festival summer for hip-hop lovers across Europe this summer.”

Woo Hah! Festival was founded by 013 and Mojo with the aim of bringing more major hip-hop acts to the Brabant region. In 2018, the event moved to its current site in Beekse Bergen.

 


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Hip-hop concert cancelled over vaccine mandate

A hip-hop concert headlined by The God MC Rakim, KRS‐One and Slick Rick was cancelled by promoters due to the venue’s vaccine policy.

The Move The Crowd event, which was also set to feature special guests Chubb Rock and JJ Fad, was planned for 7 November at Detroit’s Masonic Temple in the US.

The venue is operated by AEG Presents, which requires fans in the US to be vaccinated to gain entry. However, the Detroit Metro Times reports that organisers 2D Productions & Entertainment and Big Step Entertainment have now pulled the show, citing a low vaccination rate among hip-hop fans.

“We’ve received hundreds and hundreds of texts, voicemails and comments on social media about the Masonic Temple’s vaccination mandate,” reads an email by 2D’s Derrick Kearney. “We have also found out that the majority of concert goers in that hip-hop demographic aren’t vaccinated. So the vaccination mandate with the Masonic Temple is the reason.”

The show will be moved to another venue and date.

We don’t want concerts to go away again, and this is the best way to keep that from happening

AEG Presents has implemented the vaccine mandate across all its venues, clubs and theatres since 1 October in response to the dramatic upswing in Covid-19 cases in the US.

“We have come to the conclusion that, as a market leader, it was up to us to take a real stand on vaccination status,” Jay Marciano, COO of AEG and chairman and CEO of AEG Presents, said at the time.

“Our hope is that our pro-active stance encourages people to do the right thing and get vaccinated. I think everyone can agree that we don’t want concerts to go away again, and this is the best way to keep that from happening.”

Shawn Trell, COO and general counsel, AEG Presents, added: “Certain states’ regulations may override our mandate, or a few artists may not want to immediately get on board with the plan, but we know that using our platform to take a strong position on vaccinations can make an impact.”

Country music singer Travis Tritt came into criticism last week after telling Fox News he would no longer play venues with vaccine mandates or elaborate testing requirements.

 


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Craig D’Souza joins WME as partner

Agent Craig D’Souza, known for his work with UK rap and hip-hop artists such as Stormzy, Dave, J Hus, and Krept and Konan, has joined WME as a partner.

Based out of the company’s UK office, D’Souza brings a roster that includes Aitch, Arrdee, Dave, D-Block Europe, Fredo, Headie One, Jacob Banks, J Hus, Joy Crookes, Krept and Konan, Mist, MoStack, and Young T and Bugsey. His hiring was announced today (3 August) by WME Music co-heads Lucy Dickins, Kirk Sommer, and Scott Clayton.

D’Souza (pictured) began his career at nightclub agency Mission Control, becoming managing director in 2007, and went on to oversee the growth of the business into the live touring market over the next three years. He left to join Primary Talent International in July 2010.

With Primary Talent, D’Souza guided Stormzy’s live career from 250-capacity club shows in 2015 through to his 2019 Glastonbury headline performance and a sold-out world tour. The grime superstar recently signed a global deal with CAA, while Primary has brought on board Anderson Paak agent Beckie Sugden (formerly of X-ray) as its latest hire.

D’Souza, who was Music Week’s UK agent of the year in 2020, moves into his new position at WME immediately. He is the agency’s latest new partner, following the hiring of hip-hop agents Caroline Yim and Zach Iser in the US earlier this year.

 


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Spain’s Bring the Noise launches booking agency

Spanish festival promoter Bring the Noise has launched Rebel Beat Agency, representing some of the biggest urban acts in Spain.

The Gijón-based company, whose events include Resurrection Fest (30,000-cap.) and O Son do Camiño (34,000-cap.), says it hopes Rebel Beat Agency will become “one of the main artist agencies” in Spain.

The agency’s roster features many of the country’s biggest urban and hip-hop artists, including El Jincho, Israel B and Kidd Keo, one of the most-streamed Spanish artists on Spotify and Twitch.

The agency’s roster features many of Spain’s biggest urban and hip-hop artists

Other Rebel Beat artists include Paranoid 1966, Ayesha Chanel, Ácida and Yung Sarria, as well as several indie and rock acts.

In addition to its festivals, which also include Caudal Fest, Tsunami Xixón and Metal Paradise Festival, Bring the Noise promotes hundreds of shows a year.

Rebel Beat is the latest new European agency to launch this year, following Route One Booking in the UK earlier this month, and the first by a promoter.

 


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Move Concerts allies with hip-hop platform Damn!

Move Concerts, the largest independent promoter in Latin America, has partnered with influential urban show Damn! to grow its digital footprint while concerts are on hold.

Damn!, described as the most important hip-hop programme in the Spanish-speaking world, has a strong and growing fan base in Argentina, Mexico and Spain, with more than 430,000 subscribers on YouTube. The show is broadcast on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 6–8pm Argentina time.

The partnership will see Damn! film its show from a new studio complex created by Move Concerts Argentina and the programme’s co-producer, MAD, which provided technical support. The new studio is located at Move Concerts’ Argentinian HQ in Buenos Aires.

According to Move, the partnership is “the first step by Move Concerts and Move Management to show the strong commitment they have made to urban artists”.

The collaboration with Damn! is the latest Covid-era initiative for Move Concerts, which also has offices in Miami, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Peru, Colombia and Costa Rica. The company last month hosted Latin America’s first drive-in concerts, and was a partner on La Morada, an online entertainment venue that raised money for Colombian production crew.

 


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Urban sprawl: How hip hop conquered Europe

For a stark reminder of how completely rap and hip hop has taken over mainstream culture, consider the case of NWA.

Thirty years ago, the group released a song that so incensed the authorities and white America – ‘Fuck tha Police’, taken from their debut studio album Straight Outta Compton – that the FBI felt compelled to write a letter to the band’s label and distributing company complaining that “advocating violence and assault is wrong and we, in the law enforcement community, take exception to such action.” Police started to refuse to provide security for their concerts and, condemned by politicians, for a short while they revelled in their status as “the world’s most dangerous group.”

Fast-forward to today, and the recent arrest of rapper Asap Rocky in Sweden. Charged with assault following an altercation with a 19-year-old male and forced to remain behind bars until his trial – there is no right to bail under the Swedish criminal justice system – the chorus of celebrity pleas and fan petitions to “Free Asap” were joined by none other than Donald J. Trump, 45th president of the United States of America. “Give A$AP Rocky his FREEDOM,” he tweeted in late July. “Very disappointed in Prime Minister Stefan Löfven for being unable to act. Sweden has let our African- American community down in the United States.”

For a figure as divisive and controversial as Trump to even know who Asap Rocky is – and let’s not forget his new BFF, Kanye West – speaks volumes as to rap and hip hop’s current cultural status. The genres have long since been regarded as the new pop, with the biggest stars now elevated to first name, superstar recognition – Kanye, Cardi, Nicki, Jay, Tyler, Kendrick. And, of course, Asap, whose first two albums went platinum, selling over 750,000 copies combined and topping charts the world over (and racking up billions of streams).

Europe is fertile ground for the genre, and not just at A-list level – everyone we spoke to for this feature emphasised the strength of localised scenes across the continent driven by passionate, committed individuals; talent is spread far and wide.

“The hip-hop scene in Europe is stronger than it has ever been”

“The hip-hop scene in Europe is stronger than it has ever been,” says Jay Belin, a music agent for WME in London. The agency books some of the biggest names in hip hop globally, and so has witnessed the genre’s growth on this side of the Atlantic first hand. “Whether you are talking about chart positions, hard ticket sales or festival inventory, there are more urban artists owning the leader board than ever before,” he adds.

“Night and day,” says Belin’s colleague James Rubin, a music partner at WME, when asked to compare the scene today with five or ten years ago. Back then, he says, only the very top acts globally sold “real tickets and played serious slots at major festivals. Nowadays, most A-level events have a large percentage of foreign and domestic hip-hop artists on their bill, and the hard ticket business is healthier than ever.”

“Hip hop in the European market is at the forefront of the industry,” says Ari Bernstein of ICM Partners, an agency that reps rising new stars such as Little Simz, Bhad Barbie and Migos. For Bernstein, an abundance of such fresh, exciting talent is evidence of the genre “exploding” over the last five years and how the demographic of people calling themselves hip-hop fans is only getting bigger. “And as you can imagine, as the demographic and the audience grows, so do ticket sales,” he says of the healthy live scene.

WME partner Brent Smith, who represents the likes of Drake and Kendrick Lamar, states: “Drake is the most streamed artist in the world since streaming began and he can sell out several O2 Arenas in London, three AccorHotels Arenas in Paris, etc., across the territory. This tells you everything you need to know about the general health of hip hop in the UK and Europe.”

“It lends itself perfectly to the memes and viral videos kids have been sharing”

Urban expansion
While urban music – a term which many feel doesn’t properly capture the passion and intensity of the best rap and hip hop – has undoubtedly become something of an unstoppable juggernaut, many people tie its rise to that of streaming, technology and increased social media use, platforms without which the scene would not have grown to become as dominant as it has.

“Urban music has absolutely taken over because it lends itself perfectly to the memes and viral videos kids have been sharing,” says agent Mike Malak at Paradigm. “That makes certain songs ‘cult’ faster, and further boosts the excitement around a particular artist or track.”

“It is a culture that reacts very strongly and instantly with social media and streaming, and an act can elevate themselves very quickly through these channels,” agrees Steve Strange of X-ray Touring. He’s worked with Eminem for over 20 years, something he describes as “a fantastic experience throughout,” and sees the rise of such superstars as being indelibly tied to the modern world and new music-industry structures.

For Caroline Simionescu-Marin, a consultant for WME’s music team, it’s more about platforms such as streaming and YouTube lowering the barriers to entry for a lot of rap music, and helping it break through the underground to become the mainstream. “Apple and Spotify are hiring the right gatekeepers, and in turn, turbocharging editorial for a lot of artists who wouldn’t have a look in otherwise,” she says, pointing to rapper Dave topping the UK album chart as proof of this new paradigm.

 


Continue reading this feature in the digital edition of IQ 85, or subscribe to the magazine here.


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The Radar Station: Aussie drill act OneFour take Sep top spot

OneFour, ‘Australia’s first drill rappers’, were the fastest-growing new artists online last month, in a Radar Station first for the controversial UK-born hip-hop scene.

The band, from Mt Druitt in western Sydney, have been hailed by Vice as “Australia’s most exciting rappers” – but have been subject to similar harassment and censorship as that faced by drill acts in the US and UK, with authorities accusing their songs of promoting violent crime.

The group’s latest single, ‘Ladz in the Hood’, released on Monday 2 September, racked up 400,000 views in the space of 24 hours and become the top trending video on YouTube, leading GQ to describe them as the “biggest thing in hip hop right now”.

Spurred by this success, OneFour climbed from No4 in July to the top spot in August, according to the latest Radar Station figures, knocking Coi Leray to number two. A new entry, Kosovar DJ Regard, takes the third spot.

The Radar Station algorithm calculates the fastest-growing new artists by combining data across a number of online platforms, including Spotify, Facebook, Instagram, Songkick and Last.fm. August’s chart-topper was September’s runner-up, Paradigm-repped Coi Leray.

“People are drawn to the feeling it creates. The raw emotion and honesty”

Speaking to IQ, OneFour’s manager, Ricky Simandjuntak, says the band’s global popularity is testament to their ability to speak to a forgotten underclass looked down on by the ‘establishment’:

IQ: What do you think it is about OneFour’s message and music that appeals to so many people – many of whom are drawn from outside the band’s culture and circumstances?
RS: People are drawn to the feeling it creates. The raw emotion and honesty. From the words to the visuals, everything is honest – even if you don’t know anything about that world, the music allows you to feel it all.

Not everyone can digest the content, but most people respect the authenticity. There is a story of overcoming extreme danger and adversity that people are drawn to.

For those who are from the culture, youth here in western Sydney and wider urban Australia are happy that there is finally a group of artists that represent urban, multicultural, working-class people in Australia at a world-class level. They’ve been waiting for a hero to champion.

IQ: As a manager, could you describe your strategy for growing the band’s profile and career so far?
RS: There wasn’t one. The only thing the boys knew how to do was tell their truth, using their own style of storytelling and delivery. The influences are obvious, but they remained true to themselves in the delivery. All Hau [Latukefu, Triple J host], [producer] Solo and I did was provide them the right environment and tools to make the music. The creativity and emotion is all them.

They directed produced their own videos with their own team, they marketed themselves. They spoke to an audience that is going what they go through. We have had minimal involvement up until this point.

“There is finally a group of artists that represent urban, multicultural, working-class people in Australia at a world-class level. They’ve been waiting for a hero to champion”

IQ: What kind of challenges have you faced so far, especially around censorship and hostility from the establishment?
RS: The ‘establishment’  in Australia is still very close-minded and out of touch with young people and people of colour. You only need to look at how they treat the indigenous owners of this country to understand how their fear of immigrant Australians.

The music raises conversation that a lot of people in positions of privilege and authority do not know how to address. So their immediate reaction is damage control and censorship. This includes pressuring venues, promoters, DSPs, schools and nonprofit organisations the boys visit, hotels, licensed venues and the press not to do business with the group. Essentially, they are going out of their way to limit the ability of the group to work and generate income – while in the same breath telling them to get off the streets.

Mainstream media, the news channels and newspapers like the [Australian] Daily Telegraph are only interested in publishing stories that incite fear into the community. These platforms push a narrative for the establishment, not for the good of the people. Fortunately for us, they are platforms that are heading toward extinction.

IQ: Do the band have a live agent or record label, or is it still very early days on that front?
RS: Still very much independent and looking to remain this way until they learn some more.

OneFour recently started to work with Brett Murrihy at WME for live. So if you have work, he is our man.

OneFour climbed from No4 in July to the top spot in August, knocking Coi Leray to No2. A new entry, Kosovar DJ Regard, takes the third spot

IQ: How do you intend to capitalise on this streaming success?
RS: It’s giving us the opportunity to surround ourselves with more experienced people and learn from them. It’s giving us access to better data and people who understand how to interpret it.

To answer your question – we get better at growing.

IQ: Where do OneFour go from here?
RS: It’s early days and there are so many paths to success. Like I said, we are still learning. Artistically, for OneFour the UK has provided so much inspiration, so it’s definitely a goal to learn from and work with artists like Skepta, Giggs, Wiley, Headie One and J Hus to name a few. For me personally, getting the music so good that it’s on the radar of someone like [BBC DJ] Benji B is immense.

Business-wise and culturally, Jay-Z blazed the path that inspired me. To help OneFour create opportunities for people in the fashion that he did – but for Australian youth. That’s the dream.

 


See below for a Spotify playlist of last month’s Radar Station top 20, plus the full chart with links to artists’ Facebook pages and contact details.

This monthLast monthArtistCountry
14OnefourAU
21Coi LerayUS
381RegardXK
48Black PumasUS
57Sueco the ChildUS
633BeneeNZ
73King CombsUS
86Domo WilsonUS
92AmbjaayUS
1014Quin NfnUS
11176LougotcashUS
125LightskinkeishaUS
1310Benny the ButcherUS
1425Sophie RoseUS
1547Joba (Brockhampton)US
16-HP BoyzAU
1756InhalerIE
1813Ms BanksUK
1911Flo MilliUS
2017AshnikkoUK

For more details about the Radar Station, contact [email protected].

 


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