FR launches International Women’s Day event
Festival Republic has announced ReBalance Celebrates International Women’s Day, a networking event for women across the live music industry, as part of the promoter’s gender equality programme, ReBalance.
The event is taking place at the 900-capacity Union Chapel in Islington, London, on Sunday 8 March, the day dedicated to recognising the movement for women’s rights worldwide.
Last year’s International Women’s Day saw pop star Dua Lipa speak at the International Live Music Conference (ILMC) in London, who illustrated the struggle faced by young female artists trying to break into the industry.
Festival Republic is looking to combat this, with a daytime programme aimed at introducing those who want a career in the industry to women working within it. Professionals from Festival Republic, Live Nation, PRS Foundation, Academy Music Group, Sony Music, MAMA, Melody VR, Metropolis Music, the BBC, National Merchandise and Safe Gigs for Women will be in present to offer advice and deliver educational talks.
An evening performance from singer Nilüfer Yanya will follow the networking event, as well as appearances from Martha Hill and Tamzene, two artists to have come through Festival Republic’s ReBalance programme.
“We are incredibly proud of what ReBalance has achieved, so it only made sense to take the scheme further”
Launched in 2017, ReBalance is a six-year programme combatting the gender imbalance within the music industry. It offers five day’s studio time to one core female-identified band and artist each month, as well as a slot of a Festival Republic or Live Nation festival.
So far, 300 nominations have been made across six rounds, with 19 finalists performing live at The Great Escape, Wireless, Latitude and Reading and Leeds Festivals.
“We are incredibly proud of what ReBalance has achieved, so it only made sense to take the scheme further by hosting an event on International Women’s Day for those who want to meet women in the industry,” says the ReBalance team.
“Aimed at newcomers or if you’re just curious, this event is the chance to learn from the brightest stars and pick up some tips. Lack of female representation in music is an industry-wide issue, and we want to level it.”
Day tickets for ReBalance Celebrates International Women’s Day can be purchased for a £2 charity donation to Safe Gigs for Women, with evening tickets priced at £17.50. All tickets are available here.
Photo: Paul Hudson/Flickr (cropped) (CC BY 2.0)
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From CTS to Post Malone: IQ 83 out now
The latest issue of IQ landed in many subscribers’ laps today, offering readers a full round-up of this year’s International Live Music Conference (ILMC), as well as an in-depth look at the most important industry trends, figures and events of the past few months.
For those who missed the 31st edition of ILMC, the conference’s biggest year yet, or want to relive the highlights, IQ 83 provides a report of panels on ticketing, festivals, Brexit and diversity, as well as a look back at Roger Daltrey’s Breakfast meeting, complete with anecdotes from the Who’s early touring days.
The magazine also covers the ILMC Production Meeting (IPM), the Green Events and Innovations Conference (GEI) and the inaugural Futures Forum, in which IQ editor-in-chief Gordon Masson sat down with international star Dua Lipa and her father Dugi to discuss work ethics, women and the pair’s native Kosovo.
IQ’s latest edition marks the 30th anniversary of live events powerhouse CTS Eventim with an in-depth exploration of the company’s history and a look into the man behind the business, Klaus-Peter Schulenberg (KPS). And beyond the history of the company, we ask what’s in store for the new Eventim Live initiative.
The 83rd edition of IQ Magazine – the essential publication for the international live music business – is out now
Elsewhere, IQ 83 focuses on the Swiss live entertainment market, which has become ever more lucrative and attractive to transnational industry conglomerates, placing a strain on some established, independent operators.
The issue also reveals the secrets behind sell-outs, as some of the world’s most popular festivals spill the beans on how they consistently achieve a full house, despite an increasingly saturated and competitive festival market.
Another sell-out success story, IQ 83 talks to those behind rapper Post Malone’s popular world tour, which has sold out arenas across the Europe and South America.
To get your fix of essential live music industry features, comment and analysis in premium print format, click here to subscribe to IQ now.
PlayPass promotes Steve Jenner, expands in UK
PlayPass has strengthened its UK operations, promoting Steve Jenner to the role of managing director for the UK and Ireland to address growing demand, as more festivals go cashless with the provider.
Jenner, who joined the company in 2015, will lead an expanded team which includes the appointment of Ben Hirons, formerly of Gorilla and Peppermint and Creative Bars, who will oversee event delivery.
It has also been announced that We Are Fstvl and Beat Hotel will go fully cashless with PlayPass this year. At 55,000 capacity, We Are Fstvl is the company’s largest cashless UK event to date.
Black Deer and Merthyr Rising festivals will also go completely cashless for the first time in 2019. The organisers of 2000Trees festival, which transitioned to cashless last year, reported a 24% increase in bar spend per head, among other gains, and have signed with PlayPass again for this year.
“PlayPass’ proven technology is gaining the trust of a growing number of festivals who can see the benefits to them, their public and their traders”
Jenner says he is “delighted” to become UK managing director and “very confident in delivering the company’s busiest and most successful year to date in the UK.”
“We are looking forward to integrating our technology and supporting these new clients in delivering successful events this year,” comments Jenner.
“PlayPass’ proven technology is gaining the trust of a growing number of festivals who can see the wide range of ever-increasing benefits to them, their public and their traders.”
Jenner presented the cashless provider’s latest innovations to international promoters and production professionals at the ILMC’s New Technology forum this month, with a focus on enhancing sustainability at events and improving the experience for families with children.
Dua Lipa: ‘Women have to work harder to be heard’
Dua Lipa played an astonishing 245 shows during the touring cycle for her debut album, the Grammy- and Brit-winning star revealed at the inaugural Futures Forum in London on Friday.
Lipa was interviewed alongside her father, Dukagjin ‘Dugi’ Lipa, by IQ editor Gordon Masson for The Futures Forum Keynote: Dugi & Dua Lipa, the final session of the new one-day event for young live music professionals, which took place as part of the 31st International Live Music Conference (ILMC) on Friday 8 March.
Described by Masson as the “hardest-working person in pop”, Dua called the period around the release of 2017’s Dua Lipa – when she played 245 concerts and festival shows, progressing from small venues in her native UK to arenas in Europe, the US and Asia – as a “whirlwind” and “the craziest three years of my life”.
Dua recalled one of her earliest shows, at the 450-capacity Rescue Rooms in Nottingham, when Tap Management had to “bribe” patrons to come and see the future star. “There was no one there,” she said. “My manager had to ask [a group of people] if he bought them a drink, would they come and see his show?
“It wasn’t so bad, because I wasn’t expecting anyone to be there anyway – and it definitely managed my expectations.”
Dugi also spoke about his own rock’n’roll roots as frontman of cult group Oda, who achieved popularity in the ’90s, especially among the music-loving Kosovar and Albanian diaspora. (Lipa Snr was born in the former Yugoslavia, in what is now Kosovo, while Dua was born in London but attended school in Pristina.)
After having a no 1 hit in Yugoslavia aged 16, Dugi moved to the UK and formed a band in London. “We made a couple of songs, played a couple of gigs, and people started to show interest,” he told Masson, “so we decided to make an album.
“We created a mini-studio in my friend’s bedroom to record this album, then we made 1,000 CDs. They took up half the flat we were living in! My wife and I were thinking, ‘What are we going to do with all these?’, but they went quickly. So we started to order more, and do more promotion and PR – we probably sold about 20,000 CDs, without knowing what we were doing at all.
“More often than not, I’ll say, ‘That’s the best show I’ve ever done’, and then I’ll end up saying it again two days later”
“We created a cult band, and with no Instagram, no Facebook, no Twitter… it was all organic, with people buying CDs they could hold in their hands.”
Dua has also always been grateful for the support of Kosovars, she said, whose backing boosted her early career. “When I first put out my song ‘New Love’ on YouTube, everyone was really impressed by how many hits we got,” she joked, “but if you looked at the stats they were all from Kosovo!”
Lipa, who is currently recording album #2, said she makes all her music “with the live environment in mind”. “This new album is more conceptual; I guess when I’m in that world [the recording studio] I’m really thinking about the live show.” The next tour, she added, will feature “something new and something different. Hopefully now I’ll get to do shows that are a bit bigger and stages that are a bit bigger, and we’ll get to play around a bit more with that.”
On her fans, she continued: “I’m so fortunate: more often than not, I’ll say, ‘That’s the best show I’ve ever done’, and then I’ll end up saying it again two days later. The fans that come to my shows are really special.”
Futures Forum took place on International Women’s Day 2019, and Dua also used the Lipas’ keynote to illustrate the struggle faced by young female artists trying to break into the industry.
“As women, we have to work harder to be heard and appreciated,” she said. “It’s just one of those things – when you’re a female artist, unless you’re playing a piano or a guitar people think you’re manufactured, and you have to take some time to show people your stories and what you’ve gone through. Sometimes it just takes a little bit more explanation and a little more time, but it’s something I’m willing and ready to do to be heard.
“I try to use my platform to speak out; I’ve always been quite outspoken and never been afraid to say things that are true to me. I feel a duty to be a voice for my fans, because they’ve given that [platform] to me.”
In addition to helping to shape Dua’s career alongside her management, Tap’s Ben Mawson and Ed Millett, and running London-based PR company Mercy & Wild, Dugi is also founder of the Sunny Hill Foundation, which boasts Dua as a patron.
“When you’re a female artist, unless you’re playing a piano or a guitar people think you’re manufactured”
Last year, the father-daughter duo organised the inaugural Sunny Hill Festival in Pristina – Kosovo’s first major music festival – which aimed to put the young country on the cultural map while raising funds for underprivileged groups.
“Our first fanbase came from the Kosovar and Albanian diaspora […] so we wanted to give something back,” explained Dugi, who said the festival, which was headlined by Dua, Action Bronson and Martin Garrix, grew out of Dua’s shows in Pristina and Albania’s capital, Tirana, in 2017, which raised €100,000 for various causes, including music schools and festivals, as well as autism and Down’s syndrome charities.
“As much as wanted to help with arts funding, people in Kosovo also need a bit more than that,” added Dua.
Masson closed by asking the Lipas about the wealth of ethnic-Albanian talent, including Kosovar-British star Rita Ora and Albanian Americans Bebe Rexha and Action Bronson, lighting up the charts internationally, and whether it’s still necessary to relocate to a more mature market to achieve success.
No, said Dua: “Something I didn’t have that I needed was to be somewhere where everything is happening, and that for me was London.
“But now, with the power of Spotify, Apple Music and other streaming platforms, you can be anywhere and have your music heard.”
Dugi and Dua Lipa’s Futures Forum keynote followed the previous day’s ILMC keynote interview with Who frontman Roger Daltrey.
Futures Forum: Health and wellbeing in live
Jana Watkins, head of human resources at Live Nation, spoke of her passion for promoting wellbeing within the business, admitting that “the environment in our industry isn’t particularly conducive to leading a healthy lifestyle.”
Director of Killing Moon, Achal Dhillon, echoed this sentiment saying that the industry encourages “certain types of behaviour” that are detrimental to mental and physical wellbeing. The fact that this behaviour is aspired to, or deemed necessary for success, “exacerbates conditions if people have a predisposition to mental illness, or even creates them,” said Dhillon.
Fiona McGugan of Music Managers Forum spoke of the importance of disclosure, and engaging with men directly on this specifically.
Tristan Hunt from the Association for Electronic Music referenced the recent passing of Prodigy’s Keith Flint and Tim Bergling (Avicii), highlighting the continuing prevalence of mental health problems in live music, despite growing awareness of issues.
Jenni Cochrane, director of culture and partnerships at AEI Group spoke of the “excess and problems” which success entails for young artists.
Watkins then asked panellists for their top tips for maintaining health and wellbeing. “Switching off – literally,” said Dhillon, speaking of the ever-present working environment within music.
“The environment in our industry isn’t particularly conducive to leading a healthy lifestyle”
McGugan referenced the isolating nature of mental health issues and spoke of the importance of being able to admit issues openly and talk about them with others. Hunt agreed with this, “the more we have this conversation, the more it destigmatises the issue,” he said.
Hunt and Cochrane then discussed the danger of phones, email and social media, stressing the need to take time out to cleanse the mind. Both recommended using night mode to limit exposure to blue light and of vastly reducing screen time, especially before bed and in the morning.
“Sleep is the foundation of everything to do with your mental and physical health,” said Cochrane. “Give yourself some quiet headspace, you deserve it.”
Substance abuse, and the industry’s enablement of it, was the next topic of discussion. Dhillon spoke of the tendency towards glamourising artists’ addictions and the ease of access to narcotics.
McGugan agreed that the industry needed to focus on its duty of care towards artists, whereas Hunt said the prevalence of drug use and abuse was symptomatic of a wider set of problems. “We do have an exploitative industry,” admitted Hunt, speaking of the focus on financial gain over wellbeing.
“We need to call people out and it has to be a collaborative effort,” he said.
25th Arthur Awards: all the winners
The 25th anniversary of the Arthur Awards, the international live music industry’s answer to the Oscars, took place at London’s Sheraton Grand Park Lane last night.
The awards – which have a voting pool of over 6,000 of the world’s leading concert business professionals – took place in front of a 350-strong sell-out crowd at the magical ILMC Gala Hou-dinner.
Glastonbury’s Ben Challis hosted the special anniversary ceremony, which saw a line up of guest presenters including WME Entertainment partner Michele Bernstein and WME agent Kara James.
X-ray Touring partner Steve Strange, Artist Group International president Marsha Vlasic and NEC Group chairman Phil Mead were among the list of guest presenters.
“It was wonderful to see the great and good of the international live business rubbing shoulders to recognise their peers”
“The 25th Arthur Awards were an amazing celebration of the talent we have in our industry, which brings joy to so many millions around the world,” says ILMC head Greg Parmley.
“With thousands of votes cast and counted, it was wonderful to see the great and good of the international live business rubbing shoulders to recognise their peers.”
The full list of winners are below:
Venue (First Venue To Come Into Your Head)
Royal Albert Hall, UK
Promoter (The Promoters’ Promoter)
Folkert Koopmans, FKP Scorpio
Festival (Liggers’ Favourite Festival)
British Summer Time Hyde Park, UK
Agent (Second Least Offensive Agent)
Lucy Dickins, ITB
Production Services (Services Above and Beyond)
Professional Services (Most Professional Professional)
Selina Emeny, Live Nation
New Gig on the Block (New Event)
Mad Cool Festival, Spain
Assistant (The People’s Assistant)
Claire Bewers, Coda Agency
Ticketing (The Golden Ticket)
New Business Talent (Tomorrow’s New Boss)
Kevin Jergensen, ICM Partners
Best in Show (Family Show)
Cirque du Soleil
The Bottle Award
Bryan Grant, Britannia Row
‘We tried to create the sound of war’: Daltrey does ILMC
Born during a V-1 raid in the Second World War, Roger Daltrey rose from the rubble-strewn seats of post-war London to become one of the world’s greatest rock frontmen – and host Ed Bicknell, and hundreds of delegates, were on hand to hear all about it, in this year’s later ILMC Breakfast Meeting.
Daltrey opened by talking about his new memoir, Thanks a Lot, Mr Kibblewhite, whose cover features the singer in his mid-70s pomp standing in front of what looks like a bombed-out house. “The world I grew up in was bombsites, of ruined houses being demolished to build jerry-built tower blocks in their place – and I wanted a cover that told that story,” he said. “It’s a composite of me in a glamorous period of my life against those houses being demolished.”
Daltrey said he, and others like him, became interested in American blues and R&B as a result of their working-class backgrounds. “Being working class in Britain was equivalent of being black in America, and that’s what drew us to that music,” he explained. “We identified with their struggle.”
His love of music, however, started earlier: “I was a choir boy when I was at school, so I had perfect pitch and I was a good singer. But it was [British skiffle singer] Lonnie Donegan who first made he want to throw my head back and wail. He influenced Robert Plant, all the singers of my generation… Lonnie Donegan, he was the one.”
Daltrey said the band that became the Who really developed their chops when they got into the blues, honing their craft by touring constantly across the UK’s then-booming grassroots venues circuit. “There were so many venues, then,” he commented. “Every other vehicle on the roads was a van taking a group up north somewhere to a gig. That’s what was so great – almost every street had a band in it, and almost every band was getting some kind of work, whether it was playing a pub, a bar mitzvah or wedding, a youth club…”
Fast-forward a few years, and the Who are riding high on their post-Tommy success, with Pete Townshend’s rock opera about a deaf, dumb and blind boy (who sure plays a mean pinball) propelling the band to greater heights. Yet despite their growing profile and critical and commercial success, they’re broke: “In 1971, after touring for a whole year, we came back to the great news that our debt, instead of being £1.3 million, had gone down to £650,000,” Daltrey continued.
“Even Peter Sellers used to laugh at Keith Moon, and it wasn’t easy to make Peter Sellers laugh”
As it turned out, the Who’s managers, Chris Stamp and Kit Lambert, had their hands in the till, with Daltrey, Townshend, bassist John Entwistle and drummer Keith Moon funding the pair’s lavish lifestyles and growing heroin habits.
“You can’t be managed by crooks – as the Small Faces found out [with Don Arden] – but Pete wouldn’t join up with us [to oust Stamp and Lambert],” Daltrey explained, “until he went to America, went to his publishing account and found a load of money missing. In the end they ended up with nothing, and we lost two creative people that could have been part of our team. They were the best creative managers any band could ask for, but they were crooked.”
Their replacement was Bill Curbishley, whom Daltrey first noticed working in the offices of Stamp and Lambert’s company, Track Records. “He used to disappear at the same time every night,” Daltrey recalls. “I only realised later he was on parole. Turns out he was inside for eight years for a bank robbery! One he didn’t do – but, equally, he could have got done for one that he did do…
“He did eight years for someone else, so I knew that if he did a deal with me, he’d be straight with me. And from that day on, we started making money. With Bill, you didn’t have to count your fingers after you shook hands, and that says a lot about a man.”
Reflecting on the Track team’s heroin use, Daltrey said he was also “in a band with three addicts. Pete and John were alcoholics, and Keith would have taken anything. He [Moon] had huge talent – he’d have you laughing until you had to walk out the room, because that’s all you could do; even Peter Sellers used to laugh at Keith Moon, and it wasn’t easy to make Peter Sellers laugh – but underneath that was this incredible frailty and vulnerability. He couldn’t channel his talent in a way he could use it creatively.”
Daltrey also recalled his own brief dalliance with narcotics – “I did speed back in ’64, in the mod days, when we’d play 8–11, and then again from 2–6am, and then I’d drive the van home as well” – but said all the ‘purple hearts’ did was “made me chew my lips up and make my mouth dry so I couldn’t sing.”
“For me it was really painful to hear this group of fantastic musicians play so badly”
The frontman’s distaste for drugs also led to his brief dismissal from the group: “For me it was really painful to hear this group of fantastic musicians, hear this band with so much talent, play so badly [because they were on speed] – I couldn’t take it. So I came off stage and flushed their stuff down the loo… they weren’t best pleased!”
Bicknell then shared an anecdote about his booking the Who in 1968 for a student night in Hull – and the young band’s approach to hecklers. “In May 1968, I booked the Who for 350 very large pounds, and halfway through the set, when you’re in a quiet passage, these very two large Hull dockers who’d made their way into the gig started heckling.
“Pete stopped the song and said, ‘If you can do any fucking better than this, come up here.’ To my horror the guy gets on stage, and Pete spins round and hits this him over the head with the machine heads of his guitar. To this day, it’s the hardest I’ve ever seen anyone hit with anything – blood spurts out this guy’s head and he collapses in a heap on the floor. Then the other guy gets on stage and you kick him in the head!”
“It never ceases to amaze me, the stupidity of these people,” said Daltrey. “It’s the first rule of warfare: you always need to have the high ground!”
Bicknell also recalled the overpowering volume of the band’s speaker stacks, even at that early stage in their career. “We wanted to create the noise of a battlefield,” replied Daltrey. “We were trying to create the sound of war.”
Although Daltrey and Townshend (75 and 73, respectively) are gearing up for a new album, their first since 2006’s Endless Wire, and a Live Nation-promoted stadium tour, Daltrey suggested the pair’s often-fractious relationship remains strained, revealing they are recording the new record separately.
“In the old days you’d just shout out the next number, responding to the vibe of the crowd… now you have to do that before the show”
Artistically, however, his sole remaining bandmate is a bona fide genius, he added: “People overuse the word ‘genius’ […] but when it comes to songwriting, Pete Townshend is – he’s one of the most important composers of the 20th century.”
“I can write songs, but they’re not great songs of significance like Townshend’s are,” he continued, adding he loves “being the guy who takes what Pete’s written” and interpreting it his own way.
Responding to a question from the floor about his opinion of modern big-production shows, Daltrey said: “In some ways I hate it, because we have to play to a setlist. In the old days you’d just shout out the next number, responding to the vibe of the crowd – now you have to do that before the show, because the whole thing has to work with the lighting man, the video man and everything else…
“So, in that sense it’s a little less exciting, but we manage it.”
Daltrey closed by talking about his work with Teenage Cancer Trust, as well as his vision for a worldwide network of hospitals designed specifically for teenagers – the people who, he acknowledged, were key to the success of the Who.
“In the ’70s, when it all went tits up and high earners were taxed at 98%, squeezed till the pips squeaked, we were one of the few bands who didn’t go abroad,” he recalled. “We thought, ‘We voted them [the Labour government] in’; we can’t just leave. So we carried on earning but turned ourselves into a charity, putting all the money we earnt into this charity and giving it out to other charities we thought were worthy.
“That’s how the Who were, and how I still feel. You get out of life what you put in.”
Previous ILMC Breakfast Meeting interviewees include Nick Mason, Bill Curbishley, Marc Geiger, Arthur Fogel, Claude Nobs, Doc McGhee and longtime U2 manager Paul McGuinness.
ILMC 31: Diversity: Breaking the spell
Chair Vanessa Reed of PRS Foundation opened the session by declaring that “diversity is no longer a mystery subject.” Reed stated that the priority now is to get more women to the top of the industry, before highlighting the positives changes that are already being made.
“We’ve got loads to be excited about, but we need to concentrate on how to push things further,” said Reed.
ReBalance finalist Tilly Scantlebury from indie band Lazy Day offered an artist’s perspective. “Musicians I love are being celebrated because of their differences and not in spite of them,” she said, indicating the inspiration this gives to young artists.
BBC 1Xtra’s Jamz Supernova gave her perspective, saying that, although female DJs are increasing in number, “the imbalance is that it’s still at the grassroots level, in terms of headliners there’s still a long way to go.”
Reiterating this point, UK Music’s head of research, Natalie Williams, drew on results from the company’s diversity survey. “At entry level, there’s really good representation, but that progression is not replicated at a senior level.”
Jamie Ahye of Atlantic Records spoke of his work to improve LGBTQ+ representation in the music industry through the Pride in Music network which aims to “create a community of LGBTQ-identifying people to give us a voice in the industry,” offering a resource for those with questions regarding LGBTQ+ issues within the industry.
“At entry level, there’s really good representation, but that progression is not replicated at a senior level”
Talk turned to accessibility and the limitations of the existing recruitment process in terms of improving access for minority groups or those from poorer socioeconomic backgrounds. Williams stressed the importance of implementing a “blind” recruitment process to counter unconscious bias, whereas Supernova and Ahye focused on education.
Despite improvements, Supernova has still encountered many issues: “as a woman of colour, I would like to be less oppressed, and more listened to and valued,” said the radio DJ, referencing issues of being spoken over and her opinion being discounted or accredited to another.
Ahye pointed out that discussions surrounding diversity usually come from “diverse people”, stating that “we need an ally” to progress things further.
The other panellists agreed that solidarity and “making everybody accountable” was key for improving diversity within the music industry, as well as stressing the importance of unconscious bias training.
Summarising the session, Scantlebury stated that “gender equality benefits everybody and comes at the expense of no one.”
ILMC 31: The Agency Business 2019
Entertaining those in the room with his trademark wit, promoter Dan Steinberg kicked off proceedings by exploring with the agents the reasons behind the choice or certain territories and venues and how new promoters can engage with the agents and their acts.
Using Sli.do to ask delegates who has the power in the business, 30% of those polled stated it was the agent, while the manager pulled in 35% of the votes, the artist 20% and the promoter 15%.
Tom Windish of Paradigm noted that the definition of what an agent does is constantly changing as a partner in developing the artist’s business. “I find my clients early in their career, often when we start from zero and I like to think they remember those difficult early days of trying to find them dates.” He observed that acts that do global deals are potentially missing out on other deals and revenue streams.
Outlining the benefits of getting on board with an act so early, Coda’s Clementine Bunel said, “Tom and I have been in positions where we have built teams around artists and that puts us in a good position to build their careers.” Quizzed on the pros and cons of global deals, she added, “It’s our job to resist [global deals] when it’s not in the best interests of our clients.”
Steinberg took on the subject of consolidation, prompting Windish to namecheck Another Planet as an amazing indie, but he conceded that there are not many good indies left to buy.
With many industry observers predicting a downturn in 2019, Bunel admitted it seems to be harder to sell tickets “at every level – we analyse those figures every week. However, It’s a bit early to say it’s an off year.” Ahern said it was perhaps because there are fewer headline acts around, but he sees that as a potential opportunity to advance other acts as new headliners.
Relationships are key to the business, whether it’s publicists, labels, promoters or whoever – it’s based on trust
X-ray’s Josh Javor stated while it might not be an off year, it’s a bit of a boring year, as the acts who are at festivals across Europe are very similar to last year. However, he said that those right-of-passage events can possibly get away with recycling the same acts because the fans are different each year.
The agents named the likes of Billie Eilish, Vulfpeck, Kokoroko, Rosalía, Frank Carter, J Balvin and others as the artists to look for over the coming year, and they agreed that relationships are key to the business, whether it’s publicists, labels, promoters or whoever – it’s based on trust.
Windish revealed that one of the reasons he sold his company was to ensure that he had the tools to offer his acts other services, while WME’s Brian Ahern said having the ability to offer all the various services means that an agency can service a broader range of artists.
Bunel spoke of her belief in using local and regional promoters to preserve that business ecosystem. However, Ahern said that sometimes a building promoting a show directly works if they are going to do the best deal for the artist.
Javor and Windish agreed that it was part of an agent’s job to tell artists to stop playing shows so that they can have a career and avoid audience fatigue, while Bunel disclosed that one of her strategies was to sell out hard ticket shows to allow her to have a sensible conversation about fees and billing with festivals, rather than simply agree lots of festival slots.
ILMC 31: The Venue’s Venue: Close-up Magic
Opening the ever-popular venues panel, SEC’s Anne-Marie Harwood presented findings from the National Arenas Association (NAA) and European Arenas Association (EAA) arenas survey for 2018. She said the 48 respondents had 989 unique events over the year, and 4,643 performances which saw audiences of a total 27.5million people.
Music accounted for 46% of all performances and 58% of attendance, and saw a 5% year-on-year increase in performance and attendance.
The biggest music genres were pop and rock. The number of rock shows rose 28%, and attendance was up 36% compared to 2017.
Steve Sayer from London’s The O2 said the results clearly show the live sector is really healthy, but added that venues are having to be more innovative to maintain audiences. He cited the country music festival, C2C, that it hosts and promotes with SJM as one example. It’s grown into one of its biggest events of the year and has expanded into other territories, he explained. Harwood agreed, saying country has grown massively across Europe.
Sayer said while touring is still the core market, the key is finding opportunities around the edges, such as esports.
Nick Kenyon from the Barbican in London said he has seen huge changes in recent years, in particular that people now want to attend “events”. They want a stand-out proposition with surrounding experience. “Audiences are much more sophisticated and demanding than they were. They want a seamless welcoming accessible journey,” he told the room.
Music accounted for 46% of all performances and 58% of attendance in 2018
Guy Ngata from AEG-owned 17,000-capacity Dubai Arena said as well as western touring acts, the forthcoming venue will be programming content that’s structured for the Arabic community and the large Indian subcontinent community in the emirates.
Kenyon shared proposals for a new Centre for Music which is opening in London – he said it’s about providing a world class acoustics concert hall, plus an education centre.
Wizard Promotions’ Julia Frank from Germany said in the past few years two new venues have opened: Elbfilharmonie in Hamburg, which is in demand because Hamburg doesn’t have many mid-sized venues. The New AEG Verti Hall opened in Berlin recently.
Chair Lucy Noble wondered if all these new venues are growing the market or increasing competition, saying that while London has two major arenas, The O2 and SSE Wembley, there are plans for a new 18,000-capacity venue, MSG Sphere. What impact would that have on the city’s existing infrastructure, and are we saturating the market? she asked.
The O2’s Sayer responded that he wasn’t sure that building a new venue would stimulate demand for ticket sales.
As focus switched from large-capacity venues to the grassroots spaces that enable talent to develop, Noble wondered if larger venues should be supporting smaller ones. Beverley Whitrick from UK-based grassroots venue campaign group, Music Venue Trust, said the majority of grassroots venues in UK and around world are not purpose-built like the forthcoming arenas, and are instead struggling in converted buildings that are often at the mercy of rent rises.
“It’s time for the big venues to play their part in making it more of an obvious pipeline”
Because they spend 130% of ticket take on show, they can’t invest in the artist or audience improvement, she continued. The gap between customer experience at top end and grassroots is widening – and that’s becoming a crisis. “If people only have less than positive experiences at local small venue then that might put them off live music,” she warned. “It’s time for the big venues to play their part in making it more of an obvious pipeline.”
Adam Goodyer of tech company LiveStyled said if large venues are expected to support smaller venues with no incentive, it won’t work. He suggested ticketing companies should invest in this network because there’s economic reason to do it.
Louise Stewart from Aberdeen’s AECC said her venue has long been an economic driver for the city. But the venue is one of smallest in UK and past its sell-by date, so a new venue is being built as part of huge £333m development including conference centre and arena.
With huge priority being placed on data, Livestyled’s Goodyer said technology should be can help create a good customer experience.
He said his company’s work with AEG venues has identified new revenue streams – for example, if there’s unsold premium seating inventory, they can offer low-cost upgrades to digital customers to make them feel rewarded and bring in revenue. “Our data shows these audiences are 30% more valuable than those who aren’t,” he said.