The recovery starts here: IQ 89 out now
IQ 89, the latest edition of IQ Magazine, comes packed full of expert commentary, insight and analysis on the pressure the Covid-19 pandemic is exerting on the live business, as the industry braces for the uncertainty of the coming weeks and months.
In the midst of unprecedented times, IQ 89 includes a bumper coronavirus special report, delving into the lessons learned from the crisis, different governments’ responses to the pandemic and the plan for the live business going forward.
Leading industry figures have contributed to the report, which includes comments and predictions from Live Nation’s Phil Bowdery, CAA’s Emma Banks, DEAG’s Peter Schwenkow, Rock Werchter’s Herman Schueremans, Paradigm’s Alex Hardee, Yourope’s Christof Huber, Move Concerts’ Phil Rodriguez, the Royal Albert Hall’s Lucy Noble and more.
Long-form versions of these interviews, as well as the full coronavirus report, will appear online over the coming days.
As well as analysing what the recovery of the industry may look like, the latest edition of IQ Magazine also looks at some of the ‘good news’ stories that have emerged from the global shutdown, as many in the live events sector pivot to assist the medical sector, dedicate talent to boosting morale or use their platform to raise funds and awareness.
Continuing the coronavirus theme, the rise of livestreaming is also explored, as writer Derek Robertson turns to those enabling live performance to endure the shutdown across a variety of digital platforms.
As well as analysing what the recovery of the industry may look like, IQ 89 looks at the ‘good news’ stories that have emerged from the global shutdown
Casting the mind back to what now seem like distant times, highlights from the 32nd edition of the International Live Music Conference (ILMC) and Arthur Awards also appear in the magazine. Taking place just as the global impact of the virus was beginning to be events, this year’s conference was characterised by a heightened sense of industry camaraderie and solidarity.
Elsewhere, IQ 89 celebrates the life and career of veteran promoter Ossy Hoppe, who turns 70 later this month, recalling his early days as part of his family’s touring circus troupe, to his founding and running of Wizard Promotions, now in the hands of Hoppe’s son, Oliver.
The emergence of the Gulf States as a major touring market – put on hold temporarily by the global pandemic – is also examined, with promoters in the region optimistic for what the future may hold.
The coronavirus special also comes filled with some regular features, such as the newly established Readers’ Lives page featuring the favourite hobbies of top industry figures, and the Your Shout page, with live event professionals sharing their most unusual lockdown pastimes.
As always, most content from the magazine will appear online in some form over the next few months. However, if you can’t wait for your fix of essential live music industry features, opinion and analysis, click here to subscribe now.
OVG’s Manchester arena plans progress amid Covid-19
Venue development company Oak View Group (OVG) has published the planning documents for its new arena in Manchester, which it estimates will bring 750,000 to 1.05 million additional arena ticket sales annually to the city.
OVG today (2 April) announced the appointment of the Royal BAM Group (BAM) as its preferred construction partner, and Populous, the architecture design firm behind Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium, the O2 and Wembley Stadium, as the architect of the new arena.
The progression of the plans for the 23,500-capacity arena, which would be the largest privately financed venue in the UK, with £350 million direct investment going into the city, indicates OVG’s commitment to moving the project forward despite the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
OVG – the global sports and entertainment company founded by Tim Leiweke and Irving Azoff in 2015 – confirmed its plans for the new Manchester arena last month. The venue will go head to head with the existing ASM Global-operated Manchester Arena (21,000-cap.). An ASM Global spokesperson says it is “unfortunate” that the planning application for the new arena has been submitted “at an extremely challenging time for our city”.
“We live in unprecedented times and we stand in solidarity with everyone affected by this disease,” comments Tim Leiweke, co-founder and CEO of OVG. “We obviously have a particular concern for those who work in the live entertainment industry, which is hugely impacted by the current situation. But I know Manchester, and this city has always come back stronger from whatever has hit it. We are 100% committed for the long-haul.
“The city has undergone transformational growth in recent years, but without a new state-of-the-art arena it will continue to lose out to other cities on some of the world’s best events.”
“I know Manchester, and this city has always come back stronger from whatever has hit it”
The design brief for the arena, explains Leiweke, has three main aims – to deliver “the best artist-fan experience of any arena in Europe”, to have the flexibility to accommodate multiple event types, and to be “the most sustainable arena in the UK”.
OVG also states that the arena will generate 3,350 jobs during construction and over 1,000 once opened, paying Manchester Living Wage or higher.
“We’re incredibly grateful for the guidance and feedback from local people and the city’s business community over the last seven months. We are confident the plans we are presenting today are extremely beneficial for the city and will put Manchester on the global entertainment map for decades.”
Leiweke says that studies have indicated Manchester’s capacity to support two successful arenas, “even under the most conservative growth projections”.
The potential saturation of Manchester’s large arena market was discussed at the International Live Music Conference in March. Tom Lynch of ASM Global maintained that comments around Manchester’s capacity for two arenas have been “wildly misunderstood”, whereas OVG’s Brian Kabatznick offered Birmingham as an example of a UK city that “has seen a lot of success with two arenas”.
“Two 20,000-capacity arenas in Manchester are not sustainable and will drive events and footfall to an out of town location”
Birmingham’s Resorts World Arena, which is part of the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) site, last month outlined plans to increase its capacity by a further 6,000 to 21,500.The neighbouring NEC is one of a number of UK venues serving as field hospitals as the country copes with the coronavirus crisis.
“We are carefully reviewing the application documents that have been put forward alongside claims OVG has previously made around the impact to Greater Manchester’s transport, environment and economy,” reads an ASM Global statement.
“Existing independent analysis on market demand from Oxford Economics and Grant Thornton is clear; that two 20,000 capacity arenas in Manchester are not sustainable and will drive events and footfall to an out of town location, with devastating effects to the city centre economy and the region’s air quality.”
According to ASM, where two arenas do exist in the same city – as is the case in London and Birmingham – either one or both of the venues are “significantly smaller” than Manchester Arena.
“We sincerely hope that despite being submitted at a time of national crisis when attention is understandably focused on life saving efforts, this application will still receive proper scrutiny. We would urge the Council to carefully consider whether now is the time to approve plans that will further jeopardise our city centre.
“We need to stand together to protect culture, entertainment and hospitality in the heart of Manchester.”
The show goes on: The industry comes together at ILMC 32
Keeping calm and carrying on was the order of the day at the 32nd International Live Music Conference (ILMC) in London last week, with the global live music business presenting a united front in the face of coronavirus hysteria, even as other industry events fell by the wayside.
From the ILMC Production Meeting (IPM) and Green Events & Innovations Conference (GEI) on Tuesday 3 March to Futures Forum on Friday 6th, it was business as usual for the great and the good of the international concert industry as they tackled the biggest issues of the day, including Brexit, email scams, insurance, outside investment in the industry, the rise of mobile ticketing and the role of the agent in the 2020s.
Keynote interviewee Peter Rudge, meanwhile, didn’t disappoint in the (Late) Breakfast Meeting, regaling delegates with tales of working with the Who, the Rolling Stones and Il Divo while dodging Hell’s Angels and informing for the FBI.
Extra-curricular activities included the traditional poker and table football tournaments, Match of the Year football and Thursday-night karaoke, as well as two new additions in keeping with the ‘Game of Live’ theme: It’s a Copout: The Cheapest Game Show in Town, (very) loosely based on TV’s The Cube, and Promoter & Agent Blind Date, which paired up CAA’s Summer Marshall and Emporium Presents’ Dan Steinberg, Blind Date/The Dating Game style, with their perfect match from a line-up of three promoters and agents, respectively.
“There was a specific sense of camaraderie at ILMC this year”
Elsewhere, the Gala Dinner and Arthur Awards – the live music industry’s Oscar equivalents – honoured the industry’s best and brightest across 11 awards categories.
ILMC head Greg Parmley, who estimates a 15% drop in delegates due to Covid-19, praises the resilience of those who came together to make ILMC 32 one of the best conferences in recent memory. “While it was a shame that some familiar faces were unable to attend, we still had more 1,000 delegates and some of the best discussions I can remember,” he comments.
“With the industry coming together at such a difficult moment, there was a specific sense of camaraderie at ILMC this year, which was felt throughout the hotel.”
A full ILMC 32 report, featuring write-ups from all conference sessions, will be published on the ILMC website in the coming days. ILMC will return in the first week of March 2021.
Mixed fortunes for live events as Covid-19 spreads
The live music industry is being affected differently in markets around the world by the continuing spread of coronavirus (Covid-19), with over 110,000 cases now reported worldwide.
At the International Live Music Conference (ILMC) last week, top agents expressed their resolve to carry on with business as usual, with CAA’s Emma Banks saying the agency would not take shows off sale “unless we have to”.
Reacting to a suggestion from Germany’s health minister Jens Spahn that all events over 1,000 capacity be cancelled due to Covid-19, DEAG today announced that “all events will be carried out according to scheduled dates regardless of the number of participants.”
“DEAG will carry out a responsible analysis of each event in close coordination with the respective artists, their partners and of course the local authorities and will make an appropriate decision on a case-by-case basis,” reads the statement.
A spokesperson from German powerhouse CTS Eventim, which operates in 15 markets across Europe, states that Covid-19 is having only “isolated effects” on its business, such as in Italy and Switzerland.
“The majority of our events and functions take place in the summer and in the second half of the year,” continues the Eventim spokesperson. “Based on the current situation, there is no reason to believe that the major festivals will not be held outdoors in the summer. We cannot observe an increased return of purchased tickets.”
“Based on the current situation, there is no reason to believe that the major festivals will not be held outdoors in the summer”
The Italian government recently extended its ban on all public gatherings in the north of the country until 3 April, whereas all events in Switzerland over 1,000 capacity have been banned until 15 March, in a measure deemed “disproportionate” by Swiss Music Promoters Association (SMPA).
“It is with a heavy heart that we have to inform you that the French government has decided to cancel this year’s edition,” reads a post on Tomorrowland Winter’s Facebook page.
“The French government is taking drastic measures regarding the Covid-19 virus in France. Therefore they are enforcing the cancellation of large events, bringing together people from different nationalities on closed festival grounds and event locations.”
Asian tour dates by international acts including Avril Lavigne, Green Day, BTS, Mariah Carey, Stormzy and Khalid are among those to have been called off amid coronavirus concerns.
A joint statement issued by Japanese music bodies reads: “We have decided to cancel or call off the majority of shows, following a recent request to cancel or postpone events from the government.”
The bodies, including Japanese promoters’ association (ACPC), federation of music producers (FMPJ) and association of music enterprises (JAME), state they will work to provide all the appropriate information to the public and “deliver high-quality entertainment again soon”.
Events in the United States have also taken a hit recently, with the cancellations of Austin showcase festival and conference SXSW and the Miami edition of EDM event Ultra Music Festival.
‘We exist to tour’: Team Mumford do Futures Forum
Mumford & Sons’ live strategy formed the core of the Futures Forum keynote interview on Friday (6 March), featuring founding band member Ben Lovett, manager Adam Tudhope and agent Lucy Dickins, in conversation with journalist Paul Stokes.
“We are most passionate about the live side,” said Lovett, in a statement that proved almost superfluous over the course of the interview, given the palpable sense of enthusiasm he emitted while talking about Mumford & Sons’ past tours, their Gentlemen of the Road events and his own venues, Omeara and Lafayette.
Since the very earliest stages of Mumford & Sons – and even before they were known as such – the band members approached performing with a “sleeves rolled-up mentality”, unafraid of getting involved with staging and other aspects of putting on shows.
This resulted in a collaborative approach to touring, which remains to this very day. “I love the fact that it is always a conversation between us and the promoters,” said Lovett. “We respect promoters as a band – it’s in our DNA.”
The band officially formed in 2007, consisting of Marcus Mumford, Winston Marshall, Ted Dwane and Lovett, with Dickins and Tudhope coming on board as firm members of the team from the get go.
“We just toured non-stop,” said Dickins, who joined WME in May last year. “I’ve never seen a work ethic like it and that continues today.”
Lovett agreed that “the main reason Mumford & Sons exist is to tour”. The band’s most recent concert tour, Delta, saw them perform more than 60 dates at arenas across Europe, North America, Asia and Australia.
“I’ve never seen a work ethic like it and that continues today”
The mammoth tour sold 700,000 tickets in just a few days of going on sale, broke multiple attendance records and featured the band playing in the round for the first time. “It was very challenging but incredibly effective staging,” said Lovett, explaining there was a “sense of duty” to allow fans to experience their songs in a different way for their fourth headlining tour.
“We took some risks on Delta,” he said, “and on balance it really paid off. It really felt like there were connection happening between audience members throughout that tour.”
Forming meaningful connections in interesting places is at the heart of much of what the band do. The team revealed that upcoming plans to “go deeper into eastern Europe”, explore new “seemingly random places” and work with new promoters, were “scuppered” by the recent coronavirus outbreak.
“We really do have a really awesome idea up our sleeves,” said Tudhope, with the team hinting that plans would not be put on hold forever.
The band’s Gentlemen of the Road event series has seen them perform in many different places, travelling to small towns in the UK, Australia, the US, South Africa, and more.
“The culture clash is so beautiful”, said Tudhope, speaking of seeing tiny, off-the-beaten track towns inundated with festivalgoers, and local businesses benefitting from the event. “There’s a real community aspect.”
Dickins referenced the practical challenges of finding a suitable site for these unique events and curating the line-up. “It’s double, if not triple the amount of work but it’s worth every bit,” she said. “Enthusiasm drives it.”
“It was very challenging but incredibly effective staging”
From a business point of view, Tudhope said the events were a great way of gaining a true understanding of how promoters work, which has “really informed a lot of our own business decisions.”
“Promoters aren’t a bank for us,” added the Mumford & Sons manager. “They’re the enablers of a dream and you need a good relationship for that.”
If the experience of putting on their own events has enabled the band and team to develop a deeper understanding of how promoters work, then Lovett’s experience as a touring musician has informed him in his capacity as a venue owner.
Lovett, who owns and operates London venues Omeara and the recently opened Lafayette, stated that both fans and artists want something “unique” from venues, asking why the industry is pushing a more standardised “cookie cutter” model.
“Everybody wants to play Omeara because it’s so thought out from the artist’s side,” said Dickins. Artists that have performed at the 320-capacity venue include the Pretenders, Kodaline, the Maccabees, Beck and Circa Waves, with upcoming performances from Jake Bugg, Amy Wadge and Jesse Malin.
Lafayette (600-cap.) opened its doors last week with a performance by Brit Award-winner Dave and already has a full programme of upcoming events by the likes of Jack Peñate, D Double E and Hudson Taylor.
“The support I’ve received for Lafayette has meant the world,” said Lovett, adding that he has the lease on the venue for 25 years – equating to around 5,000 shows. “Just think of all the acts that are going to go through there.”
“For me, the sign of a successful band is longevity”
Lovett’s venue ventures have much to do with sustaining the live industry and providing artists with a place to perform. Lovett referenced the number of venue closures that have been seen in recent years, emphasising the damage that the secondary ticketing market is enacting on the grassroots level of the industry in particular.
Tudhope spoke of how the US leg of Mumfords’ Delta tour ended up generating “many millions” for the secondary market. “We didn’t want our fans to have to pay that money,” he said, explaining that it was the tickets sold at the affordable price band that were most heavily targeted by touts.
This experience “galvanised us really strongly to do something about it”, said Tudhope. Together with other managers and artists, the Mumford team has now created “a really good coalition” around anti-touting group FanFair Alliance.
Environmental sustainability is another area that the team is looking to improve upon. The band partnered with green touring specialist Reverb on its Delta tour to calculate – and later offset – carbon emissions, and create an eco-friendly touring template for future use.
“The key thing you have to commit to is spending money,” said Tudhope. “It costs money to be greener, that’s the reality.”
With sustainability remaining essential to Mumford & Sons’ ethos, it appears this will be a cost the band is willing to take.
“For me, the sign of a successful band is longevity, rather than number ones or show size, or anything else,” said Lovett. “All I want to know is: how can we do this for longer?”
ILMC 32: Ticketing: The price is right
The seemingly relentless march towards mobile ticketing was the focus of this year’s ticketing panel, chaired by International Ticketing Yearbook editor James Drury.
Compared to India’s mobile-first BookMyShow, which sold millions of mobile tickets last year, Marc Boehrer of See Tickets Switzerland (formerly Starticket) said his home market is still “clearly a print at home” country; in Germany, meanwhile, it’s a “mixed field”, said DEAG/MyTicket’s Detlef Kornett, with many fans still keen to ‘own’ a piece of the show.
The chief benefit of mobile from a promoter’s perspective, said AEG Presents’ Leonie Wakeman, is knowing exactly who’s at the show in a way that’s impossible with physical paper stubs.
With paper tickets, added Kornett, “We probably end up marketing our shows to a grandma who bought a Korn ticket for her grandson!”
When it comes to the more personalised communication possible with the data garnered from mobile tickets, Dice UK MD Amy Oldham said: “There’s a huge responsibility not to overburden the fan, so we always ask ourselves what’s best for them. How do we make sure their messaging is really personalised, and they’re receiving those comms that are tailored to them?”
The chief benefit of mobile from a promoter’s perspective is knowing exactly who’s at the show
“We have a five-star rating on Trustpilot, so we’re obviously doing it right and not pissing fans off,” she added.
“It also depends what you’re communicating,” added Wakeman. “From our perspective it’s usually the artist people want to hear from, rather than AEG, but it it’s around a tour onsale, the venue or ticket agent are usually the best people to communicate that.”
BookMyShow CEO Ashish Hemrajani said his company has an advantage due to also selling cinema tickets. “If you’re just doing concerts or sporting events you do three, four, maybe five outings a month,” he explained. “But we have movie ticketing, too, so we have a lot more data – my average consumer would do about eight to ten transactions a year. We also have ratings, so we’re really like the Rotten Tomatoes or IMDb of India.”
Also on the agenda was secondary ticketing, with Oldham saying it “blows [her] mind that it’s still such a big part of our world. The technology exists [to stop it]. We still haven’t had a single ticket on the big secondary ticketing sites. We did FKA Twigs in Spain recently, and that date was the only one where there weren’t any tickets on Viagogo…”
One solution, said Hemrajani, is dynamic pricing. “I’ve always been baffled by the fact in the US a cinema ticket is $8,” he said. “On a Monday with four people there, it’s $8. On a Saturday, for the latest Marvel film, 98% full, it’s still $8. We’re all used to buying airline tickets, hotel rooms, etc., and paying a different price to the person sat next to you, but in the entertainment world it’s this big thing.
“The technology exists to stop secondary ticketing”
“In India, we have dynamic pricing for films and concerts and live events, and that’s helped increase our [BookMyShow’s] yield by more than 5%…”
In future, panellists said, they expected social ticketing to be a key trend, as well as the tendency towards convergence, such as in France, where many tickets are sold using an open API from big “pot of tickets’, explained Wakeman.
“Clearly there’s a trend towards convergence; consumers want everything to be in one place with one click,” added Kornett. “But there will always be differences: in this market [the UK], for example, most people just buy best seat available, but in continental markets you buy the exact seat on a seating map. At an arena show, Brits will linger around the bar and chat before they go into the show – usually too late – whereas Germans go straight to their seat…
“So, there are lots of cultural differences that make a universal system difficult. But there are plenty more developments still to come.”
ILMC 32: The Agency Business 2020
Artist development formed the central pillar of conversation at the agency panel at this year’s International Live Music Conference (ILMC).
IQ Magazine’s Gordon Masson opened the session asking panellists for highlights of the past year, both at the top-end of their rosters and at a breakthrough level.
For UTA’s Jules de Lattre, Christine and the Queens headlining All Points East after a “difficult” second album stage was a highlight, along with Marc Rebillet on the emerging side. Paradigm agent Cecilia Chan chose Mark Ronson as a highlight of 2019, whereas ICM Partners’ Scott Mantell said getting through a Nicki Minaj tour was his proudest achievement, as “overcoming hurdles can also serve as a highlight.”
Speaking for Paradigm agency as a whole, Rob Challice named Billie Eilish and Lewis Capaldi as “phenomenal successes” of the past year.
Many people think Eilish was an overnight success, said Challice, but “it’s been four years in the making”. Challice stressed how early agents get involved with artists nowadays. “The assumption is an act is not going to need or want a label at the point we are taking on acts.”
De Lattre spoke of the importance of an agent’s network of managers, publishers and others. “The challenge is that you’re faced with such a great volume of music – how do you work out what’s interesting?” The UTA agent said there was a number of boxes to check before going for an act, such as signs of a strong team and support network.
“You’re faced with such a great volume of music – how do you work out what’s interesting?”
Data is another significant factor in artist discovery, said Challice. “Do you go by you ear, or by what you see in the metrics? That’s the question we’re looking at right now.”
Mantell referenced social media, stating that “if you’re not engaging, you’re missing out.” A combination of data and gut instinct were the way to go for Chan, who reiterated the importance of knowing and understanding your audience.
Talk turned to the global nature of acts nowadays, with an unmistakable rise in Latin music, K-pop and Afrobeats in recent years. Mantell agreed that “we’re having to look deeper into opportunities outside of the traditional genres,” adding that festivals are really embracing this.
De Lattre said that travel is key to getting fully immersed in current music trends, but warned against signing a lot of acts from the same global genre. “Agents should have varied and broad rosters,” he said.
Mantell countered, saying that with K-pop, for example, it’s important to get a drop on the competition and sign multiple acts. “I think the selectivity of rosters has gone in the other direction nowadays,” said the ICM agent.
The agents all agreed that you need to believe in the act you are signing, and stressed the balance of having star acts as well as so-called “bread and butter” acts on any roster.
When it comes to ensuring agents in the same agency are not vying for the same artist, Chan said good communication and discussion is key, mentioning Paradigm’s Intranet that allows agents to convey information on which acts they are looking at. “We see a much more collaborative way of working now,” agreed Challice.
A question from the floor asked if there was a danger of agents “becoming redundant” in the age of global conglomerates such as Live Nation and AEG. De Lattre answered saying that input from both promoters and agents is needed on global tours, which still involve agents in almost all cases.
“There is a responsibility for agencies to support agents through tough periods”
“People have been asking this question for ten years, and we’re still here,” quipped Challice.
The competitive nature of the agency business also came into play, with Masson asking panellists how much time they spend “trying to poach acts from others”.
“A fair amount,” admitted Mantell, “but that’s both in an offensive and defensive way – you have to re-sign acts everyday.”
De Lattre suggested there was a different culture in Europe, with “more respect” between agencies. “We don’t want to proactively create problems that aren’t there, but if you’ve heard an act is thinking about moving, then that’s a different story,” he said.
The modern need for continuous content has led to “difficulties changing artists’ mentalities”, said Challice, adding that the old model of releasing music only every few years “has been broken for acts at all stages in their careers”.
Another question from the floor asked what the agency business was doing to tackle gender imbalance. Chan said she had noticed major improvements in terms of female representation since joining Paradigm – then Coda – a few years ago, while Mantell stated ICM was striving for a 50/50 gender balance.
To finish, Challice spoke of the recent “trend” of promising agents in their 20s and 30s leaving the business.
“There is a responsibility for each agency to support agents through tough periods,” he said, adding that more emphasis needs to be placed on the mental and physical health of those in the business.
ILMC 32: The (Late) Breakfast Meeting with Peter Rudge
Over the past week the UK media has been filled with stories alleging that minister Priti Patel has been bullying bureaucrats. And were it not for The Who’s rock opera, Tommy, it might even have been Peter Rudge who ended up being in the firing line.
In what was billed as Ed Bicknell’s valedictory Breakfast Meeting, the veteran manager revealed that he had had planned to take the exams to become a civil servant, but took a job at Track Records while he waited for the date of the test.
However, the career in government administration was jettisoned when he was dispatched to New York, tasked with finding a venue to stage Tommy. Still in his early 20s and with no contacts in the Big Apple, he consulted the yellow pages, found the number for the Metropolitan Opera House and then managed to get a meeting, which led to the prestigious concert hall hosting the show,
A hand-written proposal penned on a flight then resulted in The Rolling Stones hiring him to run their 1972 US tour. But despite the flying start, his unexpected career was hardly an easy ride.
The interview included stories of infantile demands by entitled artists, coming to terms with the fact that he was originally due to be on the fatal flight with Lynyrd Skynyrd, and being the focus of the Hell’s Angels’ grudge against The Rolling Stones.
He was originally due to be on the fatal flight with Lynyrd Skynyrd
After a gang member called ‘Big Vinnie’ hung Rudge from the sixth-floor window of his New York office (while “Mick Jagger hid in the toilet”) – and in a separate incident, two bikers sandwiched his son’s pram between their Harleys – he was persuaded by the FBI to wear a wire and entrap his tormentors.
“They [Hell’s Angels] were talking about how they were going to boil me,” he recounted of the fateful meeting with the gang at their Lower East Side HQ. “I look back and think, ‘What the fuck was I doing?’. I was 28 years old. ‘Why trust the FBI?’”
Rudge stressed that his sense of humour had kept him going through some of the challenging times and the inevitable separations with several clients.
Having managed Il Divo’s rise to multimillion-selling act, his refusal to entertain the notion of one member becoming the next Justin Timberlake let to the end of their relationship. And his split with Alfie Boe arose from his inability to appreciate the performer’s quest to realise his rock pretensions.
When Rudge was unable to get a publisher or label interested in what became Duran Duran’s comeback hit, ‘Ordinary World’, he took the decision to walk away, only to see Allen Kovac triumph where he had failed.
“The Hell’s Angels were talking about how they were going to boil me”
Bicknell recounted a more short-lived relationship with the band, when the original line-up got back together. “John Taylor said, ‘Do you think the audience will scream for us?’ and I said, ‘Only if you’re really, really bad.’ And then I lost them.”
In talking about his long-term clients, James, Rudge displayed a deep admiration and fondness for the Manchester band he has worked with for decades. He also revealed that he was inspired by Elvis’s manger, Colonel Tom Parker, and that Bob Dylan was the one artist he would have liked to have worked with.
“A manager earns his stripes when he is confronted by his artist’s failure,” he mused, describing the job as “very lonely”. “The industry moves on. You’re left with that artist and have to pick them up… and then you have to motivate the record company.”
With regards to the modern industry, he ruled out signing young acts to major labels, and believes the live industry could have ended up looking very different.
“If Bill Graham or Frank Barsalona had lived longer, I don’t know if there would be a Live Nation now,” he said.
And if Peter Rudge had taken those civil service exams, some of the world’s biggest acts might never have enjoyed global success.
ILMC 32: Workshop: Cancellation insurance
Until a few weeks ago mention of corona is likely to have prompted thoughts of a Mexican cooking lager or the Italo-house crossover hit, ‘Rhythm of Night’. And when Gary Brooks and Tim Thornhill from Tysers (the broker formerly known as Integro) first agreed to host a talk about insurance cancellation, they could never have anticipated that a seafood market in China would make it standing room-only at their workshop.
As delegates continued to pour into the room, they began by running through what can be insured: cancellation, abandonment, postponement, interruption, curtailment, relocation and additional costs.
Unfortunately, when it comes to many things which might cause these – adverse weather, war, terrorism, political risk, non-appearance of speakers/artist, national mourning and communicable diseases – there is a hefty premium as they are classed as exclusions. And that’s assuming that “buy back” is possible.
According to Tim Thornhill, the likelihood of getting coverage for cancellation policies now due to coronavirus is very unlikely.. And while emphasising that he did not want to appear flippant, Gary Brooks summed up the chances of currently getting cancellation insurance due to corona.
“Someone described it to me like your car being on fire and you ringing up to insure it”
“Someone described it to me like your car being on fire and you ringing up to insure it,” he said.
Although this will provide little comfort for anyone due to host a festival or event – unless they bought additional coverage for communicable diseases before February – the workshop was useful in clearing up other questions.
Promoters worried about the possibility of artists pulling out are advised to opt for an assured (rather than an assured/insured) policy, although this comes at a higher premium, in particular if the act in question has got form for capricious cancelling. And the precautious consumer can be offered additional insurance (estimated at 2.5–6% of ticket prices) to get a refund in the event of illness.
The session ended with Thornhill and Brooks explaining that they were there to guide clients on getting the best insurance for their needs. “We’re on your side,” they explained.
Free drinks followed, with the bill for catering for the crowd likely to have been a lot higher than anticipated. Tempting as it was, nobody inquired which brand of lager was being served.
ILMC 32: The Open Forum: Universally Challenged
In keeping with the ‘Game of Live’ theme, ILMC’s traditional opening session this year took the form of a game show, hosted by former Live Nation UK president (and current ‘global Guinness guru’) Paul Latham.
Following a quick-fire round of quiz questions, which touched on some of the biggest stories of 2019 with a game of fingers on buzzers, talk turned to more serious concerns – namely the coronavirus threat and its wider implications for the global concert business.
Emma Banks said CAA is “not taking any shows off sale unless we have to”, but that in some countries already “people aren’t parting with their money”, while UTA’s David Zedeck noted that Covid-19 – which began in Wuhan, China – is having more of an impact than it would 20 years previous, as China is now on most major touring routes.
Taking aim at the relatively small number of delegates who’d decided not to attend ILMC, Move Concerts’ Phil Rodriguez commented: “I’m blown away that some people in this business didn’t come here because of coronavirus, and at the same time we’re doing shows – what kind of message does that send?” He also shared statistics about the number of deaths from ‘normal’ flu, as well as car accidents and other injuries, to put the Covid-19 threat in context.
Speaking from the floor, Okan Tombulca from eps blamed the media for sensationalising the outbreak. “When you get on a tube in London, that’s far worse [for transmitting disease] than being at a show or at a bar or restaurant,” he explained. “We have to send the message that the show must go on.”
Ashish Hemrajani of India’s BookMyShow said his company has an office in Singapore with 27 staff. “Twenty days ago I went there, when many other people wouldn’t, and we closed four big contracts,” he said. “One of the outcomes is that we’re now the partner for the Singapore grand prix – because we showed up.”
“We have to send the message that the show must go on”
Latham then steered the conversation towards email scams, which have been on the increase in recent years. “What stunned me about [some recent examples] was some of the people who were suckered by them,” said Banks. “These emails are supposedly coming from me or John Giddings or Summer Marshall or Steve Strange, but if you know us you’d know we would never write like that…
“Pick up the fucking phone! If an agent won’t take your call, I would say don’t do business with them. If you get an email about Lady Gaga, or Coldplay, one of these big acts, and you’ve never worked with the agent before, it’s probably not real.”
Zedeck said it can even get to the point where venues sells tickets and fans buy them before it becomes clear the act knows nothing about the show. “If a deal seems like it’s too good to be true, it probably is,” he added.
On, then, to Brexit, and a roomful of delegates who have yet to start feeling the effects (according to a show of hands). Panellists’ concerns largely centred on the logistics of touring once the transition period comes to an end on 31 December 2020, with Banks stating: “We have no idea how easy it will be to get trucks into Europe. […] I don’t know if I need to leave a week between London and Paris, or a day, or if we can still do it overnight…”
Manager and audience member Adam Parsons said, contrary to misleading media reports, visas shouldn’t be an issue post-Brexit: “COSes [certifications of sponsorship] aren’t a problem. But regarding equipment, merchandise, etc., we just don’t know.”
“This is a growth business. There is a lot of runway ahead of us”
“We had our Brexit 70 years ago and we survived that!” joked Hemrajani.
The panel closed with a brief detour into secondary ticketing and the new money in the industry (previewing the Industry Investment panel later that day), before Latham brought the session to an end by asking panellists – in light of the corona scare – for one positive message for the assembled delegates.
“I’m extremely positive as a human being,” said Live Nation Spain’s Pino Sagliocco, “so I believe this is going to go away shortly. Artists are very conscious they cannot let the fans down.”
“This is a growth business,” added Rodriguez. “There is a lot of runway ahead of us in terms of international development. I’m bullish.”
Added Zedeck: “There’s never been a better time to be in our space. It [coronavirus] is a blip on the radar; let’s hope it passes quickly.”
“It will pass, and we’ll all be fine,” concluded Banks. “But in the meantime, we all need to look after each other. But I’m still not shaking anyone’s hand…”