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Hope & Glory: Skiddle reveals £65,000 loss

UK ticket agency Skiddle has revealed it lost more than £65,000 as a result of last August’s disastrous Hope & Glory festival.

Skiddle refunded all festivalgoers out of its own pocket after day two of the event was called off amid reports of bottlenecking, queues and cancellations, with the company’s technical director, Ben Sebborn, saying at the time that it “became clear that our customers would remain out of pocket unless we intervened”.

All ticket monies remained with event organiser Hope & Glory Festivals Ltd, which went into liquidation the following month.

Almost a year on, Skiddle co-founder and director Richard Dyer says he has had time to reflect on the “unprecedented” decision to refund fans at a loss to the company.

“One year on from Hope & Glory festival, the people of Liverpool are rightly still upset about this disastrous event and the lack of accountability and responsibility that followed from the organisers,” he tells IQ. “After the event, it soon became clear there would be no cooperation from the directors of Hope & Glory gestival and no refunds for tickets issued.

“We are proud of this decision and feel it was entirely the right thing to do”

“Skiddle, as one of the ticketing partners [with Eventbrite], then took the unprecedented step of refunding customers out of our own pockets. In total, we lost over £65,000 – a significant amount for any business. As an organisation that puts our customers first, we are proud of this decision and feel it was entirely the right thing to do.”

Despite the loss incurred, Dyer says he’s confident the festival’s collapse “was an anomaly. As a north west [England]-based event guide and ticketing outlet, we have an excellent relationship with Liverpool’s promoters, venues, artists and customers and we will continue to support the rich, vibrant and unique selection of gigs, club nights and festivals on offer throughout the city in the future.”

Skiddle recently released a new version of its app, which now combines a personalised, tailored event guide with a ticket outlet and event discovery platform. “Typically, ticketing apps exist to sell tickets rather than act as an event discovery experience,” comments Sebborn. “This significantly hampers user participation and limits exposure to a fantastic range of gigs, club nights and festivals.

“We have turned the experience on its head, greeting customers at the start of their journey, exposing them to relevant and exciting events and acting as a one-stop shop: event guide, discovery platform and ticketing outlet.”

 


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2017: The year in review

Missed our regular news updates this year (or recently emerged, Brendan Frasier in Blast from the Past-style, from a nuclear fallout shelter)? Team IQ are logging off for Christmas – so here, in no particular order, are some of the key stories that shaped the year in live music…

#UsToo
In a story that’s set to continue into the new year and beyond, the final few months of 2017 have seen #MeToo – the campaign to stamp out sexual harassment and assault in Hollywood, spurred by the allegations against producer Harvey Weinstein – cross over into the music business, with a growing number of female musicians and execs reporting similar behaviour in our industry.

IQ asked in October if live music has a “Harvey Weinstein problem”, and a number of prominent international female industry figures told us they, too, have been subject to, or witnessed, inappropriate behaviour or sexual assault while working in the live business.

Since then, organised movements campaigning against sexual misconduct in music have sprung up in Sweden (#närmusikentystnar, ‘when the music stops’), Australia (#meNOmore) and the UK (Stop 2018), while the Association for Electronic Music (AFEM) has launched a dedicated, confidential helpline for victims of sexual harassment in the electronic music business.

In the agency world, meanwhile, reps from all major multinational agencies told IQ last month they are intensifying their efforts to ensure the safety of their employees and clients – and CAA has confirmed to IQ it has cancelled its annual Friday pre-Golden Globes party in order to establish a legal defence fund for sexual harassment cases.

Annus terror-bilis
The Manchester Arena attack, the shootings at Route 91 Harvest and BPM Festival, the Reina nightclub bombing and other attacks on innocent fans of live entertainment this year will forever live in infamy – and remain a stark reminder that, despite increased security and the willingness of fans to keep coming to shows, they remain attractive targets for terrorism.

What should also be remembered, however, is the way the industry responded to the evil of these attacks: From the One Love Manchester and We are Manchester charity concerts to the candlelit vigils and fundraising for victims of the Route 91 Harvest attack, those working in live music, just as after the Bataclan attack, stepped up to plate to lend a hand to the victims and all those affected.

Those working in live music stepped up to plate to help to victims of terror

Festival FUBARs…
Who could forget Fyre Festival? Cancelled flights, limp cheese sandwiches and disaster relief tents? A festival that went so badly wrong it’s become a byword for badly organised events – the Giant Cheeseboard, for example, was only this week called “London’s answer to Fyre Festival” – and its promoter arrested by the FBI?

Yes, Fyre Festival this year became the gold standard for festival disasters, but it wasn’t alone. The inaugural Hope & Glory festival – described in the NME as “Fyre Festival with none of the lols” – was called off on its second day amid reports of bottlenecking, queues for facilities and sets being cancelled or running over, while Y Not Festival was cancelled after the site turned into a mudbath as a result of heavy rain.

Canada’s Pemberton Music Festival 2017, meanwhile, was axed with less than two months to go, after its parent companies were placed into administration with debts of almost $10m.

… and tours de force
Despite these headline-grabbing disasters, however, the 2017 summer festival season was a largely successful one compared to last year, when severe weather, including lightning strikes, forced the cancellation of open-air events in Europe and North America.

The organisers of festivals as diverse as Trsnmt (UK), Haven (Denmark), Download (UK), Istanbul Jazz Festival (Turkey), Hurricane/Southside (Germany), Baloise Session and OpenAir St Gallen (both Switzerland), Lollapalooza Paris (France) and BST Hyde Park (UK) all reported healthy attendances in 2017 – and IQ’s recent European Festival Report 2017 revealed that despite increased competition, a majority of the continent’s festival operators feel optimistic about the future of their events.

A majority of Europe’s festival operators feel optimistic about the future of their events

Nation-building
By IQ’s reckoning, Live Nation/Ticketmaster made three more acquisitions than in 2016, when eight companies came under the Live Nation Entertainment umbrella, further bolstering its credentials as the world’s largest live entertainment company.

They were: Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion (venue) in December; United Concerts (promoter) in October; Strobe Labs (data platform) in August; Openair Frauenfeld (festival) in July; Isle of Wight Festival in March; Bluestone Entertainment (promoter) and Ticketpro (ticket agency) in February; and Metropolis Music (promoter) Cuffe & Taylor (promoter), Bottlerock Napa Valley (festival) and CT Touring (promoter) in January.

Rain-grey town, known for its sound…
An IQ/Songkick study revealed in September that the British capital is by far Europe’s live music capital by number of events – and the third-biggest concert market in the world, behind only New York and Los Angeles.

There were 19,940 total live music events in London in 2016 – more than San Francisco (13,672), Paris (11,248) and Chicago (11,224) – and the city is on course to hold its no1 spot in 2017.

Looking ahead to 2018, a raft of new festivals looks set to further cement London’s status as the live music capital of Europe, with AEG and Live Nation/Festival Republic both planning new events and local councils opening up more green space to meet the growing demand for live entertainment.

Live Nation/Ticketmaster made three more acquisitions than in 2016

Google to touts: Don’t be evil
Google last month dealt what could be a fatal blow to the likes of Viagogo and Seatwave, announcing that from January 2018 secondary ticketing sites would be subject to stringent restrictions on their use of Google AdWords.

Under the new measures – which come on the back of UK politicians accusing sites such as Viagogo, StubHub, Seatwave and Get Me In! of violating Google’s Adwords policies on misrepresentation, and increased scrutiny of ticket touting in Britain, Italy, Japan, Spain, Ireland and more – Google will force ticket resellers to list the face value of tickets, make clear they are resale sites and stop implying they are an ‘official’ seller or lose access to AdWords.

Google’s crackdown comes as national authorities, especially in the UK, continue to make life harder for touts, with National Trading Standards last week making four arrests as part of an investigation into the “practices of businesses that buy and sell tickets in bulk”.

The end of the road for ‘industrial-scale’ secondary ticketing, or merely another hurdle to be overcome? Time will tell…

Agency turntable
The booking agency world continued to consolidate in 2017 with a number of acquisitions, mergers and partnerships. Notable was Paradigm which 
entered into a strategic partnership with the UK’s X-Ray Touring in April and acquired Chicago- and California-based agency Monterey International in August.

Among other moves, July saw Helsinki-based Fullsteam Agency announce that it had acquired Rähinä Live, while September saw K2 Agency swoop for Factory Music. Meanwhile, the ongoing merry-go-round of agents swapping desks between companies continued – and if rumours are to be believed, 2018 will see this trend continue apace.

The booking agency world continued to consolidate in 2017 with a number of acquisitions, mergers and partnerships

In memoriam
In addition to the beloved performers we lost in 2017 (RIP Tom Petty, Chester Bennington, Chris Cornell, Chuck Berry, Greg Allman and many others), several equally revered live music business figures also passed away this year.

Peter Rieger, the founder of Cologne-based promoter Peter Rieger Konzertagentur (PRK), died on 29 January at the age of 63 – “far too young,” said friend and colleague John Giddings. “This has been a sad and dismal week,” added manager and former agent Ed Bicknell. “I’ve lost three dear pals: John Wetton of King Crimson, Asia and UK, Deke Leonard of Man, and now Peter. […] He was a total professional, a pleasure to deal with and funny – definitely funny. Which is what every promoter needs: a sense of humour.”

Another live industry veteran who passed far too young was tour manager, artist liaison and ILMC’s longtime producer, Alia Dann Swift, who died aged 57 in May. “She was the best,” said CAA’s Emma Banks. “A beautiful human being, a great friend, a smart and an inspiring woman.”

“Alia was renowned for her warmth, her tireless support of those around her, a perennial sense of humour and a no-nonsense approach,” added ILMC head Greg Parmley. “She was a widely loved and respected figure in the touring world who will be deeply and entirely missed.”

The live music world was once again rocked in August by the shock death of well-liked Primary Talent co-founder Dave Chumbley after a short illness.

“Dedicated to his artists to a fault, Dave was responsible for many hugely successful careers in the global music industry,” said manager Terry Blamey, with whom Chumbley worked for years representing Kylie Minogue. “He was a talented, wonderful man taken from us way to soon. Lynn and I loved him like a brother, dear friend, and we will miss him dreadfully.”

Other tragic losses to the business in 2017 included ShowSec founder Mick Upton, tour travel agent Mary Cleary, Israeli promoter Shmuel Zemach, Reading Festival founder Harold Pendleton, Washington, DC, promoter Jack Boyle and Live Nation Belgium booker Marianne Dekimpe.

 


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Inquiry: Organisers ‘to blame’ for Hope & Glory collapse

An independent investigation into the cancellation of the inaugural Hope & Glory festival has found organisers responsible for its collapse.

Liverpool City Council on Friday shared the findings of the inquiry, commissioned by mayor Joe Anderson and undertaken by security consultancy The Event Safety Shop, describes a “catalogue of failures” on the part of promoter Lee O’Hanlon and his company, tinyCOW – while also recommending the city’s Joint Agency Group (JAG) and Safety Advisory Group (SAG) be more involved in examining plans for festivals in the city in future.

The inaugural Hope & Glory (H&G), which took place in the first weekend of August, was called off on its second day amid reports of bottlenecking, queues for facilities and sets being cancelled or running over, blamed by O’Hanlon on production manager Richard Agar, who he said was late in completing the festival site.

Hope & Glory Festivals Ltd, the company behind the ill-fated event, went in liquidation last month with debts of almost £900,000.

“We are a city renowned for staging large-scale, successful events, and, as a result of our reputation, we have more and more interest from the private sector in staging events here,” says Anderson (pictured), commenting on the publication of the findings. “We can’t accept anything that jeopardises our hard-won reputation. This is why I commissioned an independent report to spell out exactly why this privately organised event failed, and look at what the public sector could do to mitigate this happening again.

“As a result of this report, we will work with our partners to put in place enhanced planning procedures for events”

“It’s clear in retrospect that the failure of the event was down to the mismanagement of the organisers, and our staff did tremendous work on the first day sorting out a wide range of issues and enabling the event to continue.

“This report was all about learning lessons, and although our procedures have served us well for the past ten years, the context and environment for staging events has changed in recent years – so we need to be honest with ourselves and reflect on the processes and procedures that are in place and react to the recommendations put forward.

“As a result of this report, we will work with our partners to put in place enhanced planning procedures for events which will find the right balance between scrutinising documents and not making the process too bureaucratic for organisers.

“If the company hadn’t gone into liquidation, I would have asked Merseyside police to investigate the financial liabilities of Hope and Glory Festivals Ltd. As far as I’m concerned, they have a moral obligation to reimburse disappointed ticket-holders who are out of pocket, and I will be making this point to the liquidators.”

Speaking to the Liverpool Echo, O’Hanlon says he still blames Agar for the lion’s share of Hope & Glory’s issues, telling the paper Richard Agar Productions “had wholesale failings in the festival and delivery of the festival”.

“It would be unfair and inappropriate not to attribute the failings to the bodies and professional services that were employed to deliver the festival”

“That company also chose the people in key positions that were part of the delivery,” he continues, “and I also state that there were failings of Liverpool City Council.

“I have said that I accept there were failings in the festival, but it would be unfair and inappropriate not to attribute those exact failings to the appropriate bodies and professional services that were employed to deliver the festival.”

Agar also questions the independence of the inquiry, funded as it was by the council. “It is not an independent report because it was paid for by the Mayor’s office,” he says.

“How the leader of the council can request an independent report into themselves is a ridiculous notion.”

The report can be read in full here.

 


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Ticketing cos, BBC, Live Nation among H&G creditors

The identities of the creditors collectively owed almost £900,000 by the company behind the doomed Hope & Glory Festival have been revealed by liquidator Butcher Woods.

The inaugural Hope & Glory (H&G), which took place in the first weekend of August, was called off on its second day amid reports of bottlenecking, queues and set cancellations, blamed by promoter Lee O’Hanlon on production manager Richard Agar, who was allegedly late in completing the festival site. Hope & Glory Festivals Ltd went into liquidation last month with debts of £888,984.

Hope & Glory festival company in liquidation

Documents filed with Companies House by Butcher Woods’ Roderick Butcher on 13 September, first spotted by the Liverpool Echo, show Hope & Glory Festivals Ltd director Iain Kerr, is the single largest creditor, owed £270,000 – more than four times the £63,600 has in assets.

Ticket agencies Skiddle and Eventbrite, both of which refunded festivalgoers out of their own pockets, are owed £73,000 and £138,368.93, respectively, while Liverpool City Council is out of pocket more than £70,000 (£51,972 directly and almost £10,000 for cleaning and waste collection services).

Other creditors include Live Nation (£6,975.76), BBC Radio Merseyside (£500), catering company Gig a Bite (£11,376), Crockford Management (£440), production suppliers Hi Lights (£21,600) and DNG (£21,103.20), artists Dino Baptiste (£250) and Trampolene (£200) and the festivals’ bars (collectively £27,000). Two further companies of which Kerr is a director, Melodi and Hunky Dory Media, are owed £65,000 and £60,000, respectively.

An investigation into the reasons for the failure of the festival is underway and will be complete “shortly”, the council says.

 


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Hope & Glory festival company in liquidation

Hope & Glory Festivals Ltd, the company behind last month’s ill-fated Liverpool festival of the same name, has followed Fyre Festival LLC into liquidation, as 32 creditors seek to reclaim almost £900,000, among them Liverpool City Council.

The inaugural Hope & Glory, which took place in the first weekend of August, was called off on its second day amid reports of bottlenecking, queues and cancellations, blamed by promoter Lee O’Hanlon on production manager Richard Agar.

Ticket agencies Eventbrite and Skiddle ultimately had to refund festivalgoers themselves, with Skiddle director Ben Sebborn saying it “became clear that our customers would remain out of pocket unless we intervened”.

“Any lessons learned will be implemented for future events run by outside organisations”

Insolvency firm Butcher Woods tells the BBC 32 creditors are owed a total of £888,984, with Liverpool City Council seeking “recovery of costs associated with the clean-up operation”.

The council is holding its own inquiry into the organisation of the festival, the findings of which are expected imminently. According to a council spokesman, “any lessons learned will be implemented for future events run by outside organisations.”

Fyre Festival LLC, the promoter of 2017’s other big festival disaster (albeit on a much larger scale), was placed into liquidation by a New York bankruptcy judge last week.

 


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Hope & Glory blames prod. mgr as mayor promises inquiry

The mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, has promised an “urgent inquiry” into last weekend’s inaugural Hope & Glory festival, which was axed on its second day amid widespread overcrowding, bottlenecking, late running and cancelled sets and a bizarre Twitter rant from organisers.

Responding to a tweet from performing arts tech Colin Farley, Anderson says Liverpool City Council, the governing body for the UK city, will look urgently at “what went disastrously wrong here”, as promoter Hope & Glory Festivals Ltd blamed production manager Richard Agar for what it calls the “multitudinous failures” that led to the festival’s cancellation – and even going so far as to circulate Agar’s personal email address to angry ticketholders.

Hope & Glory, new for 2017, was scheduled for Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 August in St George’s Quarter, Liverpool city centre. The festival was marked by disruption from the outset, with festival director Lee O’Hanlon calling police in response to overcrowding on the site (although he tells IQ the festival was never over capacity) and reports of hour-long queues for concessions and toilets, while several performances, including Charlotte Church’s, were cancelled after stage times ran over by up to two hours.

In a statement released this afternoon, the 12,500-cap. festival “profusely apologise[d] to the public and artists” for the queues, bottlenecking and late running but blamed Agar for the site not being ready.

“Oh, sit down, Tim. Go back to your yoga”

“Mr Agar and the team he appointed to carry out the production sadly did not deliver the site as ready in time for 11am,” it reads. “We view this solely as a management issue as his team appeared to work exceedingly hard to address what they needed to.

“At 12.45, William Brown St [in St George’s Quarter] was still having build materials cleared from it. As a direct result the festival opened one hour and 50 minutes later than agreed and 50 minutes later than advertised. These had a massive impact on the queues that never recovered from them until much later in the day. We will continue to liaise with Mr Agar and his company and seek a resolution over these issues.”

In addition to blaming Agar for the late opening, the statement alleges he failed to construct several requested overflow entrances to the festival site.

“Despite the delay opening, it became apparent that the bridges that the festival had requested be built from William Brown Street into St John’s Gardens to ease congestion had not been built,” it continues. “We believe that these were the sole reason for the bottlenecking that occurred. We requested that these be delivered by Mr Agar’s production management as agreed, and they clearly were not.”

“Mr Agar and the team he appointed to carry out the production sadly did not deliver the site as ready in time for 11am”

Hope & Glory has directed festivalgoers to ticket agencies for refunds.

O’Hanlon’s account of a breakdown in communication between promoters, production company and local authorities might have been easier to swallow had the festival’s Twitter account not spent much of yesterday attacking artists and ticketholders.

The festival’s now-deleted Twitter account, @HopeAndGloryFes, began Sunday by announcing simply “No festival today”, before sparring with angry fans and telling James frontman Tim Booth to “go back to [his] yoga” after calling the festival “fucked up”.

O’Hanlon, who also runs communications/events agency tinyCOW, made headlines last year for a dispute with the Manx government over loss-making concerts by Tom Jones and the Jacksons.

 

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified Hope & Glory’s Twitter account, @HopeAndGloryFes, as being responsible for a tweet that told a fan “the refunds are all gone”, accompanied by a cartoon of a man swimming in money. The tweet in question was actually sent by a parody account, @HopeAnGloryFesIQ apologises to Lee O’Hanlon for the error.

 


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