The latest industry news to your inbox.


I'd like to hear about marketing opportunities


I accept IQ Magazine's Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

Live entertainment giants call for US federal aid

A coalition of some the country’s leading promoters, show producers and venue managers have written to the US federal government to request an aid package specifically for the live entertainment business.

According to Billboard in the US, which has seen a copy of the letter, the 19 signatories – which include the likes of Live Nation, AEG, Feld Entertainment and arena operator VenuWorks – are asking for the Paycheck Protection Program [sic] to be extended to entertainment companies with 500 or fewer employees, as well loans for medium-sized businesses under existing programmes including the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the Main Street Lending scheme.

“Our businesses were the first to close and will be the last to reopen,” reads the letter, dated April 2020, which is also signed by the Broadway League, Spectra Venue Management and the International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM).

“Without immediate financial assistance, the future of the public entertainment and event industry is in question. Accordingly, Congress must act now to address the severe impact that governmental closures orders have had on this industry.”

“Congress must act now to address the severe impact that governmental closures orders have had on this industry”

The situation is particularly urgent given that many business are struggling to obtain pay-outs from insurance claims for loss of earnings – a phenomenon also being experienced by their colleagues in France and the UK. “Many insurance carriers have pre-emptively asserted that property damage and event cancellation policies will not provide coverage related to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the letter states.

Insurers and brokers, in partnership with Congress, must therefore establish ‘business recovery fund’ for the entertainment industry, it continues, “modelled on the 9-11 victims fund, to aid the businesses and their employees that were forced to shut down due to Covid-19, and will continue to struggle even after the economy restarts”.

The signatories are also requesting that authorities such as the Centers for Disease Control and the Federal Emergency Management Association establish a working group with members of the entertainment industry “to put forth voluntary guidelines that can be implemented by venues”. Companies that comply with these guidelines “should receive protection from Covid-19-related lawsuits,” they add.

The group is the second live entertainment association to lobby the US Congress for financial assistance, following the newly formed National Independent Venue Association earlier this month.


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

EventBooking completes 6,500-mile workshop tour

Staff from EventBooking, a US developer of online booking and management software for venues, have returned home to Knoxville, Tennessee, after a 6,578-mile (10,586km) road trip visiting venues across the country.

The nationwide tour – which saw founder and CEO John Platillero, along with two other EventBooking team members, host free roundtable discussions about the evolution of technology in live events – made 18 venue visits and was attended by 200 staff from more than 50 venues. It kicked off in Knoxville, then continued north to Michigan and west to California, before returning to Tennessee.

“The purpose of this trip was to get out from behind our desks, put the phone down and visit venues,” says Platillero. “We simply wanted to hear from venue professionals about how their jobs could be more seamless. What issues do people have day to day as they run their venue? What sort of advancements in venue technology could alleviate those?”

Charlie Lewis, who accompanied Platillero, adds: “What stands out most from our journey is the fact that there’s no substitute for engaging the people of this industry face to face. Our gears are turning here at EventBooking as a result of each discussion, and we are excited to implement ideas for how we can make everyone’s day a little better and more simple.”

The tour, dubbed the Road to VenueConnect 2017, culminated at the annual IAVM VenueConnect conference in Nashville. Ticketmaster served as a partner, and sent representatives to contribute to the discussions.


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

Melbourne’s Steve Harper named VMA president

Steve Harper, director of arenas at Melbourne & Olympic Parks (Rod Laver Arena, Hisense Arena, Margaret Court Arena), has been appointed president of the Venue Management Association (VMA).

Harper (pictured), who has been on the board of the Queensland-based association since 2012, succeeds Trevor Dohnt.

“It’s a pleasure for me to take on this role,” he comments. “I feel both honoured and privileged that the VMA has given me their support.”

VMA is a trade association for venue managers in the Asia-Pacific region. Together with the affiliated International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM), it has more than 5,000 members, including representatives of AEG Ogden, Melbourne & Olympic Parks, Venues Wellington, Brisbane Entertainment Centre and Adelaide Festival Centre.

Following last week’s bombing of Manchester Arena in the UK, Harper offered VMA’s “prayers and thoughts” to its “venue colleagues in the United Kingdom, as well as with all of the people touched by the horrific events experienced in recent days.”


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

IAVM opposes new overtime legislation

The International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM), the Texas-based professional body which counts among its ranks more than 5,000, primarily North American, member venues, has written to the US Congress to oppose new overtime legislation introduced by President Barack Obama.

Under the new legislation, dubbed the Overtime Rule, employers will be compelled to pay anyone earning less than US$47,476 a year time and a half for any hours worked outside their normal contracted hours – an almost 102% increase on the current threshold of $23,660.

The rule, which is due to take effect on 1 December 2016, will also see the salary threshold revised every three years in line with wage growth.

IAVM is instead supporting an amendment to the legislation, the Overtime Reform and Enhancement Act, which favours a more gradual increase in the threshold, staggered over three years, and seeks to remove the automatic updates.

Writing to Kurt Schrader, the Oregon congressman who introduced the bill, the organisation criticised the Overtime Rule for “doubl[ing] the salary test of those now eligible for overtime […] without any adjustment to reflect wide regional variations in the cost of living”.

“We believe the Overtime Reform and Enhancement Act provides a much more reasonable timeline for organisations to comply with this significant payroll burden”

The full text of the letter (in American English) is below.

Dear Congressman Schrader,

On behalf of more than 5,500 public assembly venues and suppliers, the International Association of Venue Managers extends our support for the Overtime Reform and Enhancement Act.

IAVM represents public assembly venues from around the globe. Members include managers and senior executives from auditorium, arenas, convention centers, exhibit halls, stadiums, performing arts centers, university complexes, and amphitheaters. IAVM also counts more than 500 Allied companies among its members. These companies provide products and services used by venue managers.

When the Department of Labor’s final rule, entitled “Defining and Delimiting the Exemptions for Executive, Administrative, Professional, Outside Sales and Computer Employees,” takes effect December 1, 2016, it will more than double the salary test of those now eligible for overtime from $23,660 to $47,776 without any adjustment to reflect wide regional variations in the cost of living and will permanently index the threshold for inflation.

This will have a dramatic effect on personnel cost by greatly expanding the number of employees eligible for overtime pay. Reclassifying employees from salaried to hourly will limit an employer’s flexibility, bonus and incentive pay while demoralizing many more employees who would now be subjected to punching a time clock. In the long run, this rule will have the unintended consequence of reducing employee benefits and serve as a detriment to future hiring. The DOL ruling adds another increased cost for our membership that will lead to future consolidation in our industry and have a dramatic impact.

For these reasons, we believe the Overtime Reform and Enhancement Act provides a much more reasonable timeline for organizations to comply with this significant payroll burden, starting with a salary threshold increase to $35,984 on December 1, 2016, with additional, incremental increases phased in over the next three years. IAVM also supports the provision in the bill that would eliminate the automatic increase to the salary threshold every three years to maintain the threshold at the 40th percentile of full-time salaried workers. This proposed salary threshold should also be subject to public notice and comment periods consistent with the rulemaking process.


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

Gun laws hit venues where it hurts: their pockets

American venue managers are feeling the effects of the US’s liberal gun laws, with half of those living in ‘open-carry’ states – the 45 that allow the public carrying of a firearm in plain sight – revealing that they’ve had to take preventative measures to counteract the threat of gun violence.

Fifty per cent of venues surveyed by the 2016 Firearms in the Venue Study, commissioned by the International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM) and presented at its recent VenueConnect conference in Minneapolis, said they needed to take “some action” in response to their state or locality’s open-carry laws, with 33% citing a need for increased security – often at a significant cost to themselves.

Of the venues that have incurred additional costs as a result of open carry, 60% said it was less than US$10,000, 20% $10,000–$50,000 and 20% more than $50,000. All states allow businesses to ban open carry on private property, but events held in government-owned parks, streets, or plazas have limited options because most states prevent the sites from imposing gun control measures inconsistent with state law.

The decades-old debate over gun control in the US crossed over into the live entertainment world in June following two fatal shooting incidents in Orlando. Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton led a chorus of politicians and music industry figures in calling for stricter gun laws after singer Christina Grimmie was gunned down at a signing at The Plaza Live theatre (1,355-cap.), then, two days later, 49 people were massacred in a mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub.

Ironically, Florida – along with California, Illinois, New York and South Carolina, along with Washington DC – is one of five states to prohibit open carry altogether.

Of the 960 venues surveyed, 61% said they would not allow guns at all if it were up to them

IAVM’s survey (conducted before the Orlando shootings, from 3 to 31 May) served to illustrate how unpopular open carry is amongst members. Of the 960 venues surveyed, 61% said they would not allow guns at all if it were up to them, although the association notes that “open-carry laws appear to be confusing to venue professionals”, with 13 venue managers giving three or more contradictory answers regarding open carry in their state.

It also highlighted widespread inconsistencies between state and local law in the application of open-carry laws to venues that serve alcohol.  At 79 venues where alcohol is served and state and/or local laws prohibit open carry, 41% are still compelled to allow it.

Texas legalised open carry on 1 January 2016, but South by Southwest – which has called the law “poor public policy” – exercised its right to opt out, prohibiting attendees from “carrying weapons of any kind, including concealed or displayed firearms”.

“We’re setting ourselves up for a disaster of catastrophic proportions”

Venues and live events in Tennessee, including the new Ascend Amphitheater and the Memphis in May festival, have done the same, although the decision has been challenged by the state’s leading legal authority, attorney-general Herbert Slatery. Slatery commented in July 2015 that Tom Lee Park, the location for Memphis in May, “retains its status as a public park” and that third-party operators “may not prohibit holders of valid handgun-carry permits from possessing handguns on the premises”, although the ban remains in place.

James Bolden, the former police director in Memphis, told Nashville Public Radio Slatery’s opinion is “alarming” and that should the right of venues to restrict firearms be overturned, “we’re setting ourselves up for a disaster of catastrophic proportions”.

Whatever the future holds for gun control in America – and with presidential candidate Donald Trump opining the Bataclan massacre could have been prevented “if people in that room had guns with the bullets flying in the opposite direction”, it’s anyone’s guess – for IAVM members, at least, it’s “perfectly clear that venue managers prefer to prohibit open carry in their buildings”.


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

IAVM appoints new president and CEO

The International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM) has named former MetLife Stadium boss Brad Mayne as president and chief executive officer.

Mayne (pictured), who was president and CEO of the 82,566 stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, from September 2012 to April 2016 and previously served in the same capacity at the American Airlines Center (cap. 18,500) in Dallas, takes over from interim executive administrator Carol Wallace. The association, which represents concert and event venues worldwide (although the vast majority of its members are in the US), has been without a permanent CEO since Vicki Hawarden departed in late January.

“Throughout his career, Brad has garnered respect from every facet of our industry,” says IAVM chairwoman Karen Totaro. “He has worked across sectors in various leadership roles, including within IAVM, which has earned him awards and praise. We are excited to have him take over the helm of IAVM.”

Mayne has previously served at IAVM’s Venue Management School in Oglebay, West Virginia, and has been dean of its Graduate Institute since 2012.

He says: “I am thrilled to take on this new professional challenge for an organisation that is critical in advancing the work and professional practice of venue management and is so highly valued among industry professionals.”


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

Verizon Arena GM tipped for IAVM 2nd vice-chairmanship

Michael Marion, general manager of the 18,000-capacity Verizon Arena in North Little Rock, Arkansas, has been nominated for the position of second vice-chair of the board of directors of the International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM).

If elected by IAVM members, Marion will ascend to the ranks of the professional body’s senior management, serving a four-year term which will see him become chairman in 2018–2019.

Marion (pictured), who has worked at the Verizon Arena since 1997, has been an IAVM member since 1992.

“To use a worn cliché, it’s an honour to be nominated,” he comments. “Working in the concert business has been a wonderful experience the last 40 years and I really have enjoyed the friendships I’ve made through IAVM. I look forward to working with the current and future leadership of IAVM to advance our profession for a brighter future. This should be fun.”

In January Marion oversaw the installation of walk-in metal detectors at the Verizon Arena in response to terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California.