ILMC 33: The New Bosses reflect on a year of turmoil
While Futures Forum, ILMC’s conference within a conference for young professionals, took a year off in 2021, its traditional opening session survived ILMC’s move online, welcoming another five emerging execs to take the temperature of the business from an under-30’s perspective.
Chair Marc Saunders (The O2 London) opened by asking about how the panellists had spent the last 12 months, with panellists describing the usual mix of holding dates and moving shows, as well as listening to plenty of podcasts.
“It’s been a year and a half since my last show, and I’m very uncertain about what’s going to happen this summer,” said Sziget’s Virág Csiszár, reflecting on a difficult year. “It’s been a really tough time – we’ve had to let go of a lot of good colleagues and friends.”
Livestreaming has filled the gap to a certain extent, said Metropolis Music’s Alexandra Ampofo, winner of the 2021 Tomorrow’s New Boss award, although it will never replace the real thing. “Livestreaming is here to stay,” she said, pointing out how the format can enable people, such as those with disabilities, who wouldn’t normally attend a ‘real’ gig to see a show. “It’s really great from an accessibility point of view,” she continued. “It’s a real progressive move for our whole scene, given that there are people who can’t go to [physical] gigs.”
“When we return, I think it will be a mix of shows and concert streaming,” agreed Csiszár.
Bilge Morden from CAA added: “The ones that work are the ones like Dua Lipa’s [Studio 2054] with a very strong concept, that aren’t just a livestreamed concert.”
“2022 is going to be amazing. It’s packed with shows”
With talk turning to panellists’ routes into the industry and their obligations to the next generation, Morden said it’s essential that even internships and entry-level jobs are well paid, to ensure a diversity of voices. “Even when I was doing a paid internship, I was still putting on shows in Liverpool” to make ends meet, he said.
The legacy of Black Out Tuesday and the Black Lives Matter movement makes the conversation about diversity particularly important, said Kedist Bezabih from FKP Scorpio in Norway.
“It’s not just race – it’s gender, and even disability,” added Ampofo. “When you listen to people you’re able to make the tangible change you need to make. Companies need to put their money where their mouth is.”
Looking ahead to the immediate return of concerts, Bezabih said she believes we’re going to see enhanced cleaning and sanitisation for years to come, adding that “2022 is going to be amazing. It’s packed with shows already. I’m very hopefully for 2022.”
“I’m also really optimistic for the coming years,” added Ampofo, saying she also thinks that greater “sanitisation is here to stay – and it should, to be honest.”
Concluding on a positive note, Morden said: “I’m the most optimistic I’ve been in a long time. Keep the faith.”
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Festival leaders look to domestic artists for 2021
Gathering speakers from Australia, South Korea, Germany, Switzerland and the UK, Festival Forum: Reboot & reset delved into the states of those local markets and their various timelines for reopening.
Moderator Beatrice Stirnimann, of boutique event Baloise Session, explained that when her event was cancelled early on in 2020, it allowed the organisation to spend time concentrating on a series of livestreaming shows, leading her to quiz her fellow speakers about how they have spent the last 12 months.
Stephan Thanscheidt, CEO of FKP Scorpio, disclosed that the company had to get creative during last year’s first lockdown by developing digital versions of festivals to prepare audiences for the rescheduled 2020 festivals, although he admitted that this year’s diary is now looking precarious as well.
Thanscheidt said tickets are currently on sale for events, but nobody is buying at the moment. “I don’t see festivals happening in June or July in continental Europe,” he stated, adding that he believes a lot more events will cancel their 2021 events in the coming weeks. “We have to think about strategies to keep people on board to have the best possible outcome for 2022.”
“I don’t see festivals happening in June or July in continental Europe”
Jim King reported that AEG Presents took a view to pause and review what the situation was during the past year, while the company tried to be a voice to support the various organisations that have been lobbying on the industry’s behalf. “With the success of the vaccination programme in the UK, it’s giving us a foundation to build off,” he said. “What is important for us [in the UK] is that we now have these ‘not before’ dates which brings all the stakeholders together in the industry so everyone can align. That means that the planning side now becomes easier, although it’s still not easy.”
Jessica Ducrou of Secret Sounds explained that the company has recently rescheduled its 2021 edition of the Splendour in the Grass festival from July to November. “We’ve been offering refunds to people, but the retention is high at 90% despite rescheduling three times. So that shows that people are really looking forward to events reopening,” she said.
Tommy Jinho Yoon of International Creative Agency revealed that there are shows currently happening in Korea, but a travel ban means there are no international acts performing at the moment. “I’ve been doing the same as everyone else at the moment – basically putting out fires,” he said.
Explaining that his events generally twin with festivals in Japan to share acts, Yoon observed that optimism appears to be is higher in that country than Korea, which informed his decision not to plan any festivals in 2021. However, he revealed that the shows he is booking for Q1 and Q2 of 2022 are in conjunction with artists who are also confirming Australian dates, hinting that international touring could be on the way back sooner than some people imagine. “When our shows go back on, it’s going to be intense,” said Yoon. “Machines are not going to replace that.”
Exploiting domestic talent makes sense for the UK while there is a high degree of hesitancy for international acts to travel
For her part, Ducrou told her peers that Australia is gradually getting back to business. “Domestically, artists are touring not at full capacity, but the shows are getting bigger,” she said, noting that the government recently gave approval for a festival at Easter with a 50% capacity and other restrictions.
“Using domestic talent is where Australia is at the moment. Shows are getting bigger and density is getting higher, so I’m optimistic,” added Ducrou. But in terms of international acts, she stressed that the mandatory two-week quarantine for anyone entering the country remains the biggest challenge.
On a similar note, King said exploiting domestic talent made sense for the UK while there is a high degree of hesitancy for international acts to travel. Therefore any AEG events this summer would likely be dominated by UK artists.
However, Thanscheidt said that having only domestic artists would not work for some of Scorpio’s festival brands, where restrictions such as social distancing or zero alcohol policies wouldn’t be a good fit either.
But Thanscheidt also ended on a positive vibe, by repeating a theme that has run throughout the discussions at ILMC, thanks to regular calls that the FKP Scorpio team have had with the likes of AEG Presents, Eventim Live, Goodlive, Live Nation and Superstruct as part of Yourope’s Solutions for Festivals Initiative. “The teaming up by different companies in solidarity is, for me, a very astonishing and very good outcome,” he declared.
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Arthur Awards 2021: Winners crowned at Royal Albert Hall
Some of the biggest names in the international live music industry were honoured last night in a special end-of-decade edition of the Arthur Awards, which streamed live to ILMC delegates from London’s most iconic venue, the Royal Albert Hall.
Sponsored by ASM Global, the glittering ceremony was presented in style by the hostess with the mostest – a hilarious Emma Banks (CAA) – who refused to let the lack of a live audience put her off her stride, switching her dress from hazmat suit to ballgown, and her drink from vodka and beetroot juice (in honour of the late Michael Gudinski) to Clorox bleach (a homage to a US president much less missed), with effortless aplomb.
Joining Banks at the 150-year-old Royal Albert Hall, which was honoured with the Arthur of the Decade for best venue, were a handful of venue staff and award winners, with hundreds more nominees and conference attendees tuning in from deep in cyberspace.
Normally a separate, ticketed event, the Arthurs – the Oscars of the live music industry – threw open its virtual doors for 2021, inviting all ILMC delegates to attend the ceremony, which was livestreamed from 18.30 to 19.30 yesterday (4 March).
Among the Arthurs 2021 winners were SJM Concerts’ Simon Moran, who won the Arthur of the Decade for the Promoters’ Promoter; Glastonbury Festival, whose organiser Emily Eavis picked up the award for Liggers’ Favourite Festival; and Steve Strange of X-ray Touring, who was there in person to collect his Arthur of the Decade for Second Least Offensive Agent.
Ed Sheeran’s record-breaking ÷ won tour of the decade, while Swiss industry legend André Béchir picked up the special Bottle Award
Ed Sheeran’s record-breaking ÷ (Divide) tour won tour of the decade, with production manager Chris Marsh collecting on Sheeran’s behalf, while Swiss industry legend André Béchir was close to tears as he picked up the special Bottle Award for lifetime achievement.
In full, the Arthur Awards 2021 winners are…
The Promoter’s Promoter (Arthur of the Decade showdown)
Simon Moran, SJM Concerts
Liggers’ Favourite Festival (Arthur of the Decade showdown)
Second Least Offensive Agent (Arthur of the Decade showdown)
Steve Strange, X-ray Touring
Services Above & Beyond (Arthur of the Decade showdown)
Beat the Street
The Gaffer (Arthur of the Decade showdown)
Chris Marsh (Ed Sheeran)
The People’s Assistant (Arthur of the Decade showdown)
Sarah Donovan, Live Nation UK
Tomorrow’s New Boss
Alexandra Ampofo, Metropolis Music
The Unsung Hero (2021 award)
Sandra Beckmann & Tom Koperek, Alarmstufe Rot
The Ultimate Venue’s Venue
Royal Albert Hall
Tour of the Decade
The Bottle Award
André Béchir, abc Production
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Irving Azoff ‘hopeful’ for return to live in July
Legendary artist manager Irving Azoff is hopeful that the US live sector will see a “decent reopening” this July, he said during his keynote interview at ILMC 33 today.
Azoff joined Ed Bicknell for The (Late) Breakfast Meeting at 16.30 today (4 March) for a wide-ranging interview that also touched on his early career in management with acts such as REO Speedwagon and Dan Fogelberg, hellraising with Keith Moon, his long association with Eagles and Fleetwood Mac, his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (RRHOF), and recent deals with the Beach Boys and David Crosby.
Azoff said the US is “much more optimistic” about returning to live music since the number of cases has dropped off far quicker than predicted, and the Johnson and Johnson vaccine has been approved for immediate use.
However, Azoff cautioned that the reopening in the States was not going to be uniform and would pose serious questions for those in the live music business.
“For those of us on the live music side of the business: you’ve got to commit to production and rehearsals and crews and bands and trucks and video walls without any kind of insurance. Unlike countries like the UK, which cares about their industry and has provided some relief, there’s been very little money flow through to anybody on the live side of the business here.”
Azoff says that without insurance, similar to the event cancellation funds set up in some European countries, the US live sector faces two big issues.
“The first issue is: When are states going to be open at full capacity or near it? The second is, without insurance, do you want to really take the risk after a year or two of no income, of putting your production together to try to work the rest of this year – or do you just want to wait till 2022?”
A lot of major artists are saying ‘I’m just going to wait till 2022’, but 2022 is going to be a train wreck here
Even once the US has found a way to reopen, Azoff predicts “a lot of drama” with test and tracing to get into live events.
“Can you ask people for proof of vaccination? Can you require people to be tested? Different health departments are going to have different views. A lot of major artists are saying, ‘I’m just going to wait till 2022’, but 2022 is going to be a train wreck here, just getting avails and everybody trying to run at once.”
Moving on, Azoff described the “surreal” experience of being honoured by the RRHOF – into which he was inducted in a virtual ceremony last year – and the cachet it affords artists and execs, even those as well established as Azoff.
“The whole Rock and Roll Hall of Fame thing is surreal – it’s a much bigger deal than I thought,” he explained. “There’s a kind of a newfound respect that you get around the business [when you’re part of it].”
Azoff became the fourth manager to be honoured by RRHOF, after Brian Epstein, Andrew Loog Oldham and Jon Landau.
The full Breakfast Meeting interview – which also included Azoff giving the inside story of Ticketmaster’s 2010 merger with Live Nation, as well as recounting how he fired Lindsey Buckingham from Fleetwood Mac – is available to watch back until 5 April 2020 for ILMC 33 ticket holders. To register for the conference now, click here.
Sustainability and diversity top of agents’ agendas
Discussing various big topics such as the post-Covid return to business and sustainability, the main discussion point arising from this year’s ILMC agency panel was diversity and how the business, in general, can be more open to attracting people from different backgrounds.
Session chairman Tom Schroeder of Paradigm Talent Agency admitted to guests Lucy Dickins (WME), Mike Greek (CAA), Sam Kirby Yoh (UTA) and Obi Asika (Echo Location Talent Agency) that prior to the panel he thought his passion, sustainability, would be the main takeaway from the panel, but instead it turned out to be diversity.
Earlier in the session, Schroeder had joked that UTA had been the most aggressive agency during the pandemic, so much so that they had a 50% market share of the panel guests, thanks to the 3 March announcement that the company had acquired Asika’s Echo Location operation.
“When everything comes back we’ll [either] return to being the same idiots or there will be some fundamental change”
And it was Asika who, in tackling a question about race and diversity, recounted a story from his youth where his mother, a sociology teacher, had urged him to read a book by Jock Young who wrote about labelling theory, opening Asika’s mind to the dangers of stereotyping.
“So I was aware from the age of 13 or 14 that I was constantly stereotyped by teachers at my school, by parents of the children, by school friends, and even maybe sometimes myself, because you end up, potentially, becoming that stereotype. It’s a seriously dangerous thing and it happens all over the world,” said Asika.
But he revealed that it was music at university, especially drum and bass, that first allowed him to think of himself as British, as he identified with the music. He added, “We all do it, but if you are judging somebody before you’ve given them a chance, think about how dangerous that can be. And on the other side of it, think about how powerful the industry we work in is – someone who felt that way, because of the love of music, is now sitting here and has just started as the head of the UK office of a global agency, having a talk with all you fine people.”
“The responsibility we have as an industry to become sustainable is something we haven’t thought about enough previously”
Addressing how the industry should approach its return to reopening, Schroeder stated, “There are two schools of thought: one is that when everything comes back we’ll return to being the same old idiots we used to be, or maybe there will be some fundamental change.”
Greek responded, “I do believe there will be fundamental change, but I do see there are certain elements of what we do that are going to end up being the norm again. Ultimately, the responsibility we have as an industry to become sustainable is something we haven’t thought about enough previously. Secondly, it’s important to note how loud our voice is as an industry when we collectively get together – that’s something we can hopefully see grow in the future.”
On a positive note, Dickins stated that she thought there would be a lot of silver linings to come out of the pandemic shutdown, not the least of which would be improvements to people’s life-work balance, and not being at every show, every night.
“We have to work together – not just agents, but also promoters and venues in regard to dealing with government and policy”
Noting that the industry is in a precarious position where huge number of tickets are being sold, Schoeder pondered, “When we get practical on this, how is it going to work? You’ve got festivals spending money on marketing, but no insurance system for the artist or for the promoters and tickets are being sold for events we don’t know are going to happen. At some point, the artist has got to invest some money to make a show to go on the stage, if anything is going to happen. It’s a jigsaw that confuses me every day.”
Greek agreed, stating, “I have sleepless nights about it as well because I’ve committed lots of my clients to lots of different events, but there’s no way of knowing without insurance and all other kinds of stuff… the conversations are about everyone around the artist trying to minimise costs they would incur in advance in order to make a decision as late as possible to do the show. It’s a big concern and some artists can afford to take the risk, while others can’t.”
Kirby Yoh commented, “We have to work together – not just agents, but also promoters and venues in regard to dealing with government and policy. But we can make it better for everybody – safer for the fans and the artists. In my mind, there is not a choice. It’s our responsibility to work together.”
“Just be careful. Make sure you’re not spending too much money unless you really have to”
Dickins noted that some of the problems around agreeing industry best practice involved the competition and legality issues. “But basically I think you have to conduct your business with empathy because every single person has had to go through this [Covid]. So it’s all about sharing information, talking people through each step, and listening to people. As regards different places opening at different times, that’s just something we’re going to have to work around and take on board because every single border is going to have a different issue.”
Indeed, in answer to a question from a delegate, Schroeder suggested that payment plans for advances were being discussed, although he admitted that these could become complicated.
And adding his advice, Asika said, “Just be careful. Make sure you’re not spending too much money unless you really have to. Hold back and focus on the areas that we know are looking positive. I honestly believe we will have shows in the UK this summer, but I have a policy of spreading my bets – I’m not focussing on any huge festivals this year, I’m spreading things across clubs to 5,000 to 10,000 all over the place and anyone who mentions exclusivity is told that I’m not interested.”
TEEM: Highlights from the conference’s ILMC debut
The Experience Economy Meeting (TEEM), the world’s only conference dedicated entirely to touring exhibitions and the experience economy, has joined forces with ILMC for 2021. The first TEEM (formerly the Touring Exhibitions Meeting) as part of ILMC took place today (4 March) with some of the world’s leading touring exhibition professionals, including expo producers, promoters, venue bookers and suppliers.
Tickets for ILMC 33 – which include all panels, including TEEM sessions, available to watch back until 5 April 2021 – are still available. Click here for more information.
TEEM concluded with The TEEM x ILMC Flea Market, which gave delegates representing touring exhibitions and producers just three minutes to present their shows to the promoters and venues in the room.
Chaired by Christoph Scholz of Semmel Concerts’ SC Exhibitions and Debbie Donohue of Imagine Exhibitions, the Flea Market featured presentations from Corrado Canonici of World Touring Exhibitions; Amy Bornkamp of IMG Events; Glenn Blackman of Global Touring & Promotion; Teo’s Manon Delaury; Pierre Morand of GAAP Bookings; Zuppar’s Nick Zuppar; Charles Reed of Blooloop; Alex Susanna of Expona; Giorgio Castagnera of Herelab; Semmel Concerts’ Anna Lenhof; and Jole Martinenghi of Contemporanea Progetti.
Exhibitions and attractions presented included King Tut, Pompeii, Travelling Bricks (Lego), Kid Koala, the Walt Disney 100th anniversary exhibition and the Monster, an inflatable playground for adults.
Dress rehearsal for the most fucking @ILMC ever via @streamyardapp ! Our Experience Economy Panels are up on Thu 4 March. Book now at: https://t.co/Qtuo8jiyua cc: @Pollstar @IQ_Mag @billboard @MusikWoche pic.twitter.com/lowJRQgLj5
— Christoph Scholz (@ChristophScho) February 25, 2021
Teem’s second panel of the day, Taking Exhibitions Further, led by Abigail Bysshe, Franklin Institute (US) and Christoph Scholz, Semmel Concerts (DE), explored the post-Covid future of the experience economy.
Serge Grimaux, Fórum Karlín (CZ), said he believes the exhibition world will experience a post-Covid boom: “I think we have an incredible opportunity with a clean slate in front of us. We have a lot of people who have been very hungry for entertainment, live entertainment and edutainment.
“I think that the technology that is now available, and becomes more available every month, can provide an environment that will be incredible for everybody and at the same time, affordable. Because as soon as we get out of this Covid war and the economy will start, affordability will be important, and exhibitions will definitely be a very sought after product.”
While Lāth Carlson, The Museum of the Future (AE), believes that the future of exhibitions lies in immersive experiences: “Our core is in immersive experiences and we’re sticking with that. I think the real power of museums is the experience that you can have physically in the space and socially in the space as well. So that is an absolute core part of what we’re offering our museum.”
“I think the real power of museums is the experience that you can have physically in the space and socially in the space as well”
While Paola Cappitelli, 24 ORE Cultura, pointed out that tech should play an important role in making exhibitions appealing to the younger generations: “We have a new generation [to cater to] so we know that we have to provide them with technology, experiences and multimedia in museums but also have other people who are older coming to the museum so we have to to find a way to appeal to all demographics.”
Arnold van de Water, Factorr (NL), added that it’s important for curators and designers to find new ways of telling the same stories.
“The thing we always keep in mind is storyline. Though technology is more accessible, telling a good story again is still the basis. We see so many dinosaur exhibitions, so many Van Gogh exhibitions and so many of the same topics so curation and content is really the thing we should be focussing on,” he said.
The Experience Economy Meeting (TEEM) kicked off with What’s Next in the World for Experience Exhibitions?, led by Christoph Scholz, Semmel Concerts (DE) and Charles Read, Blooloop (UK).
The panel’s central focus was how to enhance the user experience of exhibitions – from design, production and cross-culture standpoints.
Speaking from a designer’s perspective, Tobias Kunz, Studio TK (DE), said: “The perfect exhibition is the right balance of information, emotion and attraction. It has to be a multi-sensorial experience with different layers: the classic museum layer with great objects; a walkable stage where you can bring objects to life and make them talk; an interactive layer with headphone stations for lively presentations; a media layer; and a very important sound and music layer.”
Manon Delaury, Teo (FR), added: “Immersion is becoming super important. When I talk about immersion I mean some sort of environment that really surrounds people, as well as providing a sensory reality. We see more and more experiences that integrate smell, sound, touch and really surrounding people so they can have a proper immersive experience.
“Another key trend, which will emerge is transformative experiences that are truly social. The idea is that once you’ve been through the experience you feel a little bit different. You’ve learned and you’ve grown.”
“The perfect exhibition is the right balance of information, emotion and attraction”
Winston Fisher and Michael Beneville – the pair behind Area15, an immersive art, event and entertainment complex just off the Las Vegas Strip – says the key to their success with the project was putting together the perfect team.
“Execution is critical to success. The ability to understand how a dream can actually become a reality is so important. It’s not just creativity that brings things to life, it’s a team that has all skill sets. It was important for us to get best-in-class experts and build a team that actually had breadth and depth that could take something radical and different and make it a reality,” they said.
Bart Dohmen, TDAC int. BV (NL), elaborated on that point, adding that the perfect team also needs to be resolute on the identity of an exhibition.
“You can say that your exhibition is something but you need to embed it into your development by having a clear team statement which tells everyone what the identity is. Once you have that, have the guts to make a decision to throw something away if it doesn’t fit the statement. Don’t do anything that could hurt your identity. That sounds very easy but it’s a very delicate and difficult process,” Dohmen said.
“The ability to understand how a dream can actually become a reality is so important”
Coming from a live music point of view, Marc Saunders, the O2 (UK), said that while the venue is best known for its music programming, the exhibition areas add a lot of value to a customer’s experience.
“When people think of the O2, they think instantly of the arena and the events and artists that we host. But the fact is that the O2 has become so much more since it was purchased by AEG from the original Millennium Dome, and reopened in 2007.
“The exhibition space is currently being used for Mamma Mia: The Party but in the past has had various exhibitions, including the British Music Experience, an Elvis exhibition, and the Star Wars Identities exhibition,” he testifies.
Ali Hassan Al Shaiba, department of culture and tourism, Abu Dhabi (UAE), agreed, adding that his market was looking at enhancing the live music fan’s broader experience.
“It’s easy today to bring an event or a touring concert to any destination but it’s very hard to create an experience that encompasses the full journey from end to end. Today, in Abu Dhabi, we are trying to build that unique experience by blending [the capital’s] landscapes with a rich calendar of events around the city and verticals that go from shopping to entertainment to music to culinary,” he said.
PULSE: Highlights from ILMC’s new tech event
PULSE is an all-new platform that sits at the intersection of technology and live entertainment. A collaboration between ILMC, senior booking agent Mike Malak (Paradigm), and digital entertainment expert Yvan Boudillet (TheLynk), the first PULSE event took place at ILMC today (3 March), welcoming leading figures from both industries for a full day of discussion and debate.
Tickets for ILMC 33, which include all panels, including PULSE, available to watch back until 5 April 2021, are still available. Click here for more information.
The final Pulse session of the day, The Business of Live Tech, brought together industry heads to discuss emerging business models and new deals around tech and music.
One of the panel’s most interesting discourses was about the perceived fan-appetite for livestreaming before, during and after the pandemic.
Steve Hancock, Melody VR/Napster (UK) points out that fans’ demand for livestreaming was strong before the pandemic and will continue to be a valuable complementary offering to live.
“Just exclusively VR, we moved on to mobile smartphone and tablet in 2019, where we launched our real-time live technology at Wireless with Live Nation in Finsbury Park. We did all three days, multi-stage, multi-cam jumps and had 250,000 people coming through the app on the first weekend at that festival and it showed everyone that appetite was there.
“And as we introduced paywalls, as the market progressed, people were good with it. Livestreaming will never replace live but I think a hybrid, and marriage, of physical and digital attendance is, in my opinion, the way forward,” said Hancock.
Olenik ventured that the way to keep fans interested in livestreaming events post-pandemic is to offer bonus features
Lesley Olenik, Live Nation (US), ventured that the way to keep fans interested in livestreaming events post-pandemic is to offer bonus features for those watching at home.
“If you have a world tour that you’re planning and if the artist is open to it, giving people access to maybe like the rehearsals or the soundcheck and doing some sort of virtual meet and greet could appeal to fans around the world. Billie Eilish did a really cool video that was shown before her live stream with her crew and how they all work together to bring this show to life and like what an undertaking is and fans loved it,” said Olenik.
Justin Lubliner, Darkroom (US), agreed and warned that without features tailored specifically for at-home livestreaming, fans’ interest could waiver.
“Billie’s show was an amazing live stream experience: I think the differentiating factor between the one that we did [with Billie] and the one that I’ve seen from other artists was that it was created specifically to be watched behind a computer and a TV. Not to offend anyone but personally, I am less bullish about the general virtual concert space,” he said.
Cheryl Paglierani, United Talent Agency (US), echoed that thought: “There is going to be ways for us to create virtual balconies or virtual meet and greet experiences if they’re already doing you can add, you know more and maybe it’s through zoom or whatever platform so you know it helps the artist generate more revenue, as opposed to you know just the bodies that are in the building, that’s what people are discussing right now and trying to find the best solutions for, but I do think people will be willing to pay for it for sure.”
— The World Jam (@_Angela_Gil) March 3, 2021
Asking how to keep the fan at the centre of new virtual performance spaces, The New Fan Experience welcomed Sheri Bryant from virtual events platform Sansar, who spoke of the importance of connecting fans with performers while avoiding trying to compete with the live experience.
Livestreaming, said Driift’s Ric Salmon, is the “holy grail” for artists. “It’s a direct-to-fan format,” he said. “The ecosystem between the artist and the fan is complicated and there are a lot of mouths to feed in that process – [livestreaming] provides us with an opportunity to realign that relationship.
When choosing a platform, said Tommas Arnby (Locomotion), “you want to go where the fans are”. Streaming, he said, is about “creat[ing] scarce, unique moments. You want to really make something that blows the fans away – give them something they didn’t expect.”
Where the sector goes next, suggested Brandon Goodman of Best Friends Music “depends on the artist. It’s important for the creative to make sense with the artist – I don’t think artists should necessarily do what Billie [Eilish] did. For exampled, I loved the Dermot Kennedy stream – but I don’t think Dermot Kennedy in an XR world, like Billie, would be very on-brand for an artist like him.”
— Martin Myers (@MartinMyers) March 3, 2021
Trivium frontman Matt Heafy opened The Livestreamers’ Guide to Live Music by talking about his following on videogame-focused livestreaming site Twitch, where has more than 200,000 subscribers (many of whom also tuned into the ILMC panel).
While Heafy has been streaming on Twitch for years (including every Trivium show for the past three), “it took up until the pandemic happening for my channel to really take off,” he explained. It’s because of his putting in that groundwork, he added, that, “now that everyone’s stuck at home, they know to come and see what Matt’s been telling us about all this time.”
Julie Bogaert from Facebook spoke of the importance for streamers of having a “presence on as many platforms as possible,” in addition to Facebook and Instagram, “because they all have different audiences”.
For livestreamers, viewer engagement is key, added Heafy. “That’s what separates live from video. That viewer-streamer relationship is the big difference [between a live broadcast and] a video that already exists.
“It’s really that human element that’s important. I’ve heard it described as the Bruce Dickinson effect. Iron Maiden have been playing arenas for 20 years, but what he can do is make even the person in the nosebleed seats feel like the show is all about them.”
Building an audience on a platform like Twitch is “a grind”, admitted Wiktoria Wójcik of esports specialist InStreamly. “You have to prepare to stream to, say, every day, or once a week – you need to have a schedule, and always deliver.”
Livestreaming, she added, “isn’t an easy way to be discovered, because you’re going live for a few hours and then you vanish, as it’s live content only. You have to have a place where you aggregate your fans and them push them towards your live streams.”’
Asian Agent’s Danny Lee, who works with a number of K-pop acts, described the subtle differences between the various platforms. For example, “Instagram Live is very immediate,” he said. “People just go right into it. Whereas on something like V Live, which is a very popular Korean livestreaming app, a streamer may start out by just looking at the camera for five minutes.”
Livestreaming will not replace live, said Wójcik, but act as an add-on in future. “Even when we come out of this, there will still be people who can’t come to see you in person or come to your shows, so streaming will provide a way to connect with those fans.”
— Trish Brown (@Trish_Brown) March 3, 2021
Pulse continued with Sweet Streams – Best in Class, which saw Lars-Oliver Vogt, Live Nation GSA, assemble leaders in the livestreaming space to share best practice and reflect on 2020’s standout events.
James Sutcliffe, LiveNow Global (UK), reflected on the success of Dua Lipa’s first ticketed virtual show, Studio 2054, which took place late last year and garnered more than 500 million views and 300,000 ticket sales.
LiveNow splashed out a whopping $1.5 million in realising the Dua Lipa project but big budgets are part of the company’s business model, said Sutcliffe.
“We’re not afraid to invest and I think it’s important for us to ensure that the quality levels of the content and the product that we’re putting out is high. And by us coming to the table with the willingness to invest and help curate these shows, it gives them the best possible chance of the end product being as good as you’ve just seen.”
Mike Schabel, Kiswe (US), enjoyed similar success with K-pop band BTS and their Map of the Soul On:e pay-per-view live stream, which saw 993,000 people across 193 countries tune in.
“How does livestreaming become more than just a promotional vehicle or novelty for mid-range acts”
Schabel says the most exciting thing about the live stream was “the number of innovations we’ve brought to the table for the audience” including multiple cameras to choose from, multi-language live closed captioning and Bluetooth-enabled light sticks.
However, the “live live” aspect of the shows was “an overwhelming challenge that everybody in this space knows”.
Speaking on the role of an agent in livestreaming, Natasha Gregory, Mother Artists (UK), says that while there’s been little financial gain, there’s been a lot to learn.
“I really wanted to get involved and find out how streaming works and how many tickets you can sell for a rock band, for instance, Idles who sell 2,500 tickets in London, and how that can reflect.”
“[Idles livestream] was at least six weeks of solid work and what you get out of it is minimal. I mean we did 12,000 streams but we did decide to use it more as a marketing tool,” she adds.
“It’s really about what can you do differently [with livestreaming] that makes it actually viable”
However, Tim Westergreen, Sessions Live (US), asked “how does livestreaming become more than just a promotional vehicle or novelty for mid-range acts?”.
“It’s really about what can you do differently that makes it actually viable, so that an average band can take advantage of what should be a great platform. You can do all sorts of different ticketing to offer the ability to connect with a band that the real world doesn’t allow you and unless you until you do that and do that in a scalable way, [livestreaming] will continue to be more elitist.”
Westergreen says that the monetisation of livestreaming for mid-range acts depends on two things: a fan and audience development platform as well as a monetisation mechanism similar to those tried and tested in gaming.
“How do you monetise engagement? That’s what gaming has done for two decades now it’s why, as an industry, it’s been so much more successful than music in the digital era.”
“It has only taken 10 months for fans to accept they have to pay for tickets to a live stream”
Fabrice Sergent, Bandsintown group (US), says: “There’s hope, and not just for the large artists”.
Sergeant says that last year Bandsintown listed 70,000 live streams last year, 75% of which were actually listed by artists of less than 100,000 followers.
Not only that but from July to October, the number of live streams that were ticketed jumped from 2% to 50%.
“For something that started as a free medium, it has only taken 10 months for fans to accept they have to pay for tickets to a live stream. When you think back to the time when music was pirated on Napster and it took 10 years for fans to finally accept to buy a subscription to music streaming.”
Pulse kicked off with New Technology Pitches, hosted by Steve Machin LiveFrom Events (UK), comprised of quick-fire presentations on the best new tech and innovation in the business.
First up, Arjun Mehta (US) showcased Moment House’s premium digital platform for live creators.
“How do you marry technology with culture? That’s the question at the heart of our approach,” Mehta says.
Mehta explained that Moment House was launched because he felt “a fundamental tool was missing from the internet”.
“This was never meant to be a replacement for a physical concert. We built it from the standpoint of ‘how do we craft the most compelling digital fan experience digitally?’… a brand new unit that’s fully complementary to the physical world.”
“How do you marry technology with culture? That’s the question at the heart of [Moment House’s] approach”
Mehta says Moment House is built on three core principles: “Number one is beautiful design – a beautiful user experience that really prioritises the fan. Number two is our messaging and how we frame Moment House to both the artists and fans as this new independent unit of a moment. The third thing is curating the sorts of artists on the platform…it’s very important to us that we took a top-down approach and brought some of the world’s biggest superstars onto the platform.”
Eight Day Sound then presented its Virtual Live Audience (VLA) technology, which “meaningfully reconnects audiences to the entertainment they love”.
“VLA is cutting edge proprietary technology that allows for seamless communication between presenters and audiences with low latency and high quality remote participants are displayed via video screens on site and the team can customise the layout.”
“The sky is the limit for the number of participants able to join VLA, which means that the audience is no longer limited to the venue, and there are opportunities for scalable ticketing sponsorship, advertising and other revenue-generating streams. You can maximise event profits.”
Next to the stand was Vladic Ravich, who told ILMC delegates how Bramble came to be.
Vladic and co-founder Salimah Ebrahim launched Bramble to offer “a more human way to gather online”
The company behind Bramble, Artery, started as a way to “connect people with cultural experience” by helping users set up secret events in their own homes.
When the pandemic hit, rendering Artery’s business model redundant, Vladic and co-founder Salimah Ebrahim launched Bramble which sought to offer “a more human way to gather online”.
“What makes Bramble a good gathering? The first thing is our proprietary fluid video technology, and if you haven’t seen this kind of spatial video and audio, it’s immediately intuitive.”
Bramble also offers a customisable performance venue that has hosted events including the House of Yes’s Halloween show as well as the Artist and Manager awards.
Next up, Param Kanabar tells ILMC delegates about Noq, a cashless and contactless ordering system that “looks at tackling queue management and issues around queuing at events”.
Noq is “a hybrid blend between a marketplace app as well as a branding solution”
“You just need a QR code specific to a particular event. This could be shared with customers, ahead of the event, whether that be through a website, social media, tickets, newsletters.
“Additionally, at the event, there’ll be multiple touch points, at the entrance, near the food zones. So when customers scan a QR code, they are taken straight to a festival landing page where they’re able to see all the vendors that are around them.
“This is great because there’s a lot of increase in folks being gluten free, vegan and vegetarian. Plus people have food allergies. So, communicating what you want in a busy festival and an event is difficult sometimes. And so from a customer perspective, having this and access to view everything that is around them is important.”
Kanabar says Noq’s unique selling point is that the app is “ultimately a hybrid blend between a marketplace app as well as a branding solution”.
Notetracks founder and CEO Kam Lal was next in line to deliver his pitch on what was dubbed ‘Asana for video and audio’.
Lookport is “the biggest video livestreaming platform in Eastern Europe”
The platform to share music, video, audio projects and gather feedback and notes.
“The problem we aim to solve is working on audio and video files remotely. Currently, you know the tools are very fragmented and there’s a disconnected workflow – it’s not very collaborative. So our solution is one workspace where you could review and collaborate in a seamless environment and gather feedback.”
Lookport’s Alex Wolf was next to the stand to tell delegates about “the biggest video livestreaming platform in Eastern Europe” which has hosted 150 livestreams throughout the pandemic and boasts more than 90 million views.
Wolf said the unique selling point of Lookport is that it provides a full service, from promoting the event, to producing it, to selling tickets, and then streaming the show.
“Lockport is a completely web based solution and you don’t need to then launch any specific application, we created our own web player so users can watch our content from any device. The player can also be embedded into any web page or landing site.”
“It is next to impossible today to receive audience data for an artist or event team all in one place”
Last but by no means least, Aivar took to the virtual stage to pitch FanSifter.
“It is next to impossible today to receive audience data for an artist or event team all in one place, in one format because data is locked into silos both in music and live. To get that data out of the silos is now more important than ever because, with cookie-based targeting and advertising sunsetting, artists and all the partners, management teams, promoters, labels, merch stores, even brands need to collaborate on these first party audience data sets, have to comply to GDPR and other privacy laws. FanSifter exists to solve this with a collaborative and privacy-compliant customer data platform.”
ILMC 33: The Open Forum reflects on the year that wasn’t
Fresh off the back of the worst year in the history of the live music business, a quartet of industry titans put their heads together to figure out where we go from here for ILMC’s traditional opening session, the Open Forum, which moved to a mid-afternoon time slot for this year’s one-off digital edition.
Live Nation’s executive president of international touring, Phil Bowdery, kicked off the panel in a different way to usual. “We normally start off this session by talking about the year’s biggest grosses,” he said, before asking panellists how they’d spent the past year in the absence of selling hundreds of thousands of tickets.
Emma Banks, agent and co-head of CAA in the UK, summed up the mood when she said “we’ve all been busy fools”, rearranging tours and shows with no knowledge of when live music might be able to return. “Anybody that claims they know when we’ll be able to do international tours, they know something the rest of the world does not,” echoed Tim Leiweke, CEO of Oak View Group. “This thing has its own path of destruction it has to reap, and we’re going to have to be patient.”
When the time is right, “we have to open up globally,” said Jay Marciano, CEO of AEG Presents. “There was a time last year when everyone was experimenting but socially distanced shows, but at 50% [capacity] we realised we’d basically paid for the lights and the stagehands and then not made any money. And it takes away from the live experience.”
Referring to the number of fans who have kept their tickets for postponed events, Marciano added that he’s been struck by “how patient our fans have been”.
“I want to open up – I have $5 billion invested in nine new arenas. But in order to open up we have to have an agreement [as to when], because if one of us opens up too early it’ll affect the rest of us, too.”
“We’re still losing 2,000 people a day in the United States to this virus. So we need to hunker down” until it’s safe to reopen, he added.
“I’ve never seen this kind of demand … We’re going to get through this”
While “Covid has been horrendous”, there have been upsides to 2020’s time out, said Banks. “One thing that has been good is no planes – hopefully that’s been helping the planet we’ve been wrecking,” she explained. “Travel represents a tiny amount of carbon emissions, but – without taking away the gig – what we’ve learnt with Zoom, Webex, Teams, etc., is that we don’t need all the meetings we have, which we fly all over the world for often, often only for a day. We need to rethink what we’re doing.”
She also highlighted that artists have had time for other projects, whether its working on a book or starting a podcast, because they haven’t been on the road.
Both Leiweke and Marciano also pointed to advances in new technology such as 5G while touring has been on pause. “Technology didn’t take a year and a half off,” said Leiweke. When shows return, “we’re going to be see brand-new technology that will enhance the experience but won’t replace it”, he added.
Whenever it is live returns, none of the panellists were in any doubt about fans’ continued passion for live music, referencing the incredible pent-up demand for shows that has been building throughout 2020/21.
“There’s a whole load of catching up to do,” said Banks. “But it will be OK.”
“I’ve never seen this kind of demand. [For 2021] we have 180 holds in our new arena in New York already,” added Leiweke. “We’re going to get through this.”
Tickets for ILMC 33, which include all panels available to watch back until 5 April 2021, are still available. Click here for more information.
Schulenberg predicts long haul to recovery
Klaus-Peter Schulenberg believes it will take the industry until late 2023 or 2024 to get back to the same levels of business that it enjoyed pre-Covid.
The founder and leader of CTS Eventim – Europe’s largest live entertainment group and second only globally to Live Nation – made the statement during his ILMC keynote interview with conference managing director Greg Parmley.
Schulenberg was responding to a question about consumer confidence in a post-pandemic world and revealed that his company’s research indicated that 80% of people would buy a ticket three months after the end of the pandemic. But that meant 20% of people that were surveyed would not be willing to buy a concert ticket. He observed that of the company’s record-breaking sales in 2019, 39% of ticket buyers across Europe were below the age of 34; 22% were aged 35-44; and the remaining 39% were aged 44 and older.
“Reopening is not recovery”
That problem prompted his assertion that artists and agents needed to understand that they should be more modest in their demands as the industry starts to recover. Indeed, he suggested that promoters should try to persuade the artists to share in the risk of a show. “The guarantee should go down,” he said, while acknowledging that such conversations did not always find a sympathetic ear.
“Reopening is not recovery,” he told ILMC delegates. “We are now looking at reopening, but recovery would mean that fans would come back at levels of 2019 and recovery would mean that people could attend a concert care-free.
“It will take until late 2023 or 2024 to get back to the levels of 2019,” he predicted, before revealing that show costs could rise by as much as 15-20% in the short term because of the effect of the pandemic and the fact that local costs will be much higher than they used to be.
“It will take until late 2023 or 2024 to get back to the levels of 2019”
“Look at the stagehands, look at the security, service companies for light and sound and maybe even the venues will try to make up their losses which they incurred in 2020 and probably 2021 as well,” he explained.
Elsewhere, Schulenberg said the adoption of 5G technology was something his company had been working on, as they could radically change the way shows work – citing fan to fan communication and fan to artist communication within a show as possibilities. “We want to stay as a technological leader, so we have been working on new tech and new features and I am pretty optimistic in this respect,” he commented.
He also opened the doors to collaborating with rivals Live Nation and others when it comes to improving the industry’s lobbying efforts with politicians and policymakers.
“I never take competition personally”
“I never take competition personally,” he said. “We are all in the same boat and I am a fan of good partnerships – that’s how we made our business and we welcome everybody to partner with us. It’s to all of our advantage.”
But he concluded that the industry needs to understand that having a strong voice requires expenditure, although he suggested that many companies are not ready to put their money where there mouths are. “We need professional associations and we have to know that professional associations are expensive – they cost money – and the industry must be willing to invest, but I think that’s a problem,” he observed.
UK Sounds: Meet the artists showcasing at ILMC 33
UK Sounds is a joint initiative between PRS Foundation’s International Showcase Fund and the Department for International Trade’s Music Export Growth Scheme.
The International Showcase Fund is run by PRS Foundation in partnership with the Department for International Trade (DIT), British Underground, Arts Council England, the Musicians’ Union (MU), PPL, Creative Scotland, Wales Arts International and the Arts Council of Wales, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Invest NI. The Music Export Growth Scheme is funded through DIT and administered by the BPI.
UK Sounds partners have provided support for high-production value performances and bespoke partnerships with other companies and platforms domestically and internationally such as IQ and ILMC. The content supported by UK Sounds partners is to enable export-ready talent during this lockdown period to continue to reach their potential and compete internationally through trusted curation of content, reaching overseas music networks and providing a spotlight on talented underrepresented groups in the UK.
Read on for more information about the UK Sounds-supported acts showcasing at ILMC 33 on Wednesday 3 March at 20.00–21.00 GMT (Lady Nade, Harleighblu, Cherym, Genghar) and Thursday 4 March at 19.30–20:30 GMT (Elles Bailey, TrueMendous, HMS Morris, Dead Pony).
Serving up a zingy, fearless new recipe for pop-punk rock, Cherym are Hannah Richardson, Nyree Porter and Alannagh Doherty from Derry in Northern Ireland, and they are responsible for some seriously infectious songwriting.
Taking influence from the Smashing Pumpkins, Bikini Kill, American Football, Pup and Pixies, the trio formed after meeting in college over a joint love of garage rock, pop-punk and being the biggest band in the world.
“A gut-punch of energy and DIY enthusiasm” — The Irish Times
“It won’t be long before Cherym break into the big leagues” — Hot Press
“Definite ones to watch… a refreshing blast of earnest songwriting and nostalgic joy” — Nialler9
Fresh from a successful 2020, Dead Pony are a departure from Scotland’s fertile rock/post-punk movement. The band has cultivated a grunge-infused sound akin to Bikini Kill, Wolf Alice and Queens of the Stone Age.
In 2021, Dead Pony have hit the ground running after unprecedented success both in the UK and US last year. Despite the limitations of the global pandemic, the Glasgow-based outfit secured national radio play amongst some of the top music shows.
The band has enjoyed firm BBC support with plays from Jack Saunders and Huw Stephens on BBC Radio 1, including Jack Saunders’ Next Wave features for two previous releases. BBC Radio Scotland has also shown support, with plays from Vic Galloway, Phoebe Inglis and Shereen Cutty, as well as a live session for Stephen McCauley’s Shutdown Sessions at BBC Ulster, a feature with Under the Radar Top Tips for 2021, along with an impressive performance on Brad Wagner’s New Colossus Festival sessions.
The band is eager to return and is looking forward to tastemaker festival slots and international showcase dates in the coming months.
Twenty twenty started with a bang for the super-smoky-voiced, hard-working, far-touring chanteuse Elles Bailey when ‘Little Piece of Heaven’, written with storied Memphis and Nashville giant Bobby Wood, and Dan Auerbach (of The Black Keys) picked up UK song of the year at the UK Americana Awards. It’s taken from her chart topping sophomore album Road I Call Home, which was released to rave reviews and awarded Album of the Year at the UK Blues Awards. The album charted in both the Official UK Country Charts and Americana charts, has gained over 3.4 million streams since its release and reached No1 on the Amazon Blues Bestseller chart. Adding to Elles’ string of awards, she also picked up the high accolade of Artist of the Year at the UK Blues Awards.
Despite the global pandemic, Elles has kept up her profile by doing many live streams; dropping a critically acclaimed, award- nominated live acoustic album, Ain’t Nothing But; raising money for charities and campaigning for Women in Music; and picking up another three nominations in the UK Blues Awards 2021, including Artist of the Year again (awards in May 2021). She will be releasing a brand new studio record in September 2021 and, if restrictions lift, touring shall begin again in October, November and December, after joining Joe Bonamassa on his Keeping The Blues Alive at Sea cruise.
Miss Bailey really does call the road home, and when she arrives near you, don’t think twice, get there. A great evening and a long musical friendship will be waiting.
Gengahr are an English indie band, formed in 2013 at Stoke Newington School in Hackney, London. Though originally named Res, they were forced to rename after discovering an artist with that name on iTunes. Their new name is a play on Gengar, one of the original Pokémon.
After BBC Radio 1 DJ Huw Stephens played their first single, ’Fill My Gums With Blood’, on his radio show, the band were invited to perform at the Introducing stage at the 2014 Glastonbury Festival.
Their critically acclaimed debut album, A Dream Outside, was released on 15 June 2015 after signing to Transgressive Records. A second album, Where Wildness Grows, was released in 2018, and the band’s third album Sanctuary was released in January 2020 via Liberator Music.
Harleighblu’s classic yet truly distinctive soul voice pulls no punches and makes no apologies. Her raw, beat-heavy style is uniquely captivating, pushing the neo-soul and R&B template to its absolute limits.
Supported by Radio 1, BBC Radio 6 and Jazz FM, to name a few, she has been given the title of ‘Queen of Hip Hop and Soul’. Her electrifying latest album, She, led to a headline appearance at the prestigious Lollapalooza in Berlin. This same album gained over two million streams on Spotify alone, securing her the cover image on its Butter and Jazz UK playlists. She also sold over 1,500 vinyl records worldwide.
Twenty twenty-one is looking bigger than ever, with new music coming in March, a US writing tour and a Jazz Café London headline gig all on the cards for the talented Nottingham native.
Bringing us raw, unapologetically feminine and honest lyrical touches, Harleighblu has established herself as one of the UK’s most promising artists.
HMS Morris are an art-rock group from Wales. They’ve been touring and recording since 2015, and are supported by the Cardiff-based Bubblewrap Collective.
Their two full-length albums to date (2016’s Interior Design and 2018’s Inspirational Talks) both earned nominations for the Welsh Music Prize, and were variously described as “innovative, forward-thinking pop music” (Earthly Pleasures), “strange and beautiful music” (Electronic Sound) and a “multi-dimensional sound that traipses across hitherto unexplored regions of sound” (Clash).
They’ve taken their music to Toronto, Montreal, Osaka, Tokyo and Kyoto, and are currently working on a piece of theatre/art/ dance/music about running away from Earth.
Indie-folk-Americana singer-songstress Lady Nade started writing songs as a form of healing from grief. Performing in venues across her native city of Bristol, her work developed into a calling to connect with her fans on a deeper level and help lead them through life’s complicated tapestry with the healing power of music.
Often being told that black females only sing soul, R&B or jazz has always quietly been playing on Lady Nade’s mind; however, during her creative process the one thing that is always at the centre is staying true to her art regardless of the genre. “I am awaking to my heritage, seeing things differently… but one thing that strikes me is that there are so many incredible black artists… there really is no need to put us all into one box!”
Nominated for UK song of the year (‘Ain’t One Thing’) at the UK Americana Awards 2021, Lady Nade is moving forward with a brand new album in the making, Willing, which is set for a June 2021 release.
Rioting into 2021 with the explosive hard-hitting single ‘Cause a Scene’ landing on the Made in UK playlist, TrueMendous is set to have an incredible year.
In 2020, the rising star signed to High Focus Records where she released her EP Huh?. The EP had an exceptional response, accumulating over 222,000 streams, with one of the singles from the project landing on the Adidas COLD.RDY campaign, and another on the FIFA 21 soundtrack.
If this wasn’t enough, TrueMendous managed to bag the lead role in the 2020 Christmas Pepsi Max advert along with the lead role in a separate McVities ad at the same time.
She secured a mind-blowing 11 festival slots throughout the summer of 2019, including Glastonbury, Leeds and Reading, where she opened up the BBC 1xtra stage. TrueMendous was also one of the leading artists on Queens of Art, the first-ever all-female hip-hop tour, which visited eight cities across the UK.