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Four killed in India concert stampede

The Kerala government has ordered an investigation into the deadly crowd stampede that claimed the lives of four students and injured more than 60 others at an Indian music festival.

The crush took place on Saturday (25 November) during Cochin University’s annual festival in the open-air auditorium of the Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT).

According to the Press Trust of India (PTI), officials say the tragedy occurred as students rushed to take shelter during a sudden downpour before a performance by renowned singer Nikita Gandhi, with a number of people reportedly trampled after slipping on stairs.

Two boys and two girls died in the incident, with dozens of others requiring hospital treatment. The university postponed all classes and examinations today (27 November) as a mark of respect and has arranged a condolence meeting for teachers, staff and students.

The government is also setting up an expert committee to look into the stampede

“Deeply shocked and grieved to know about the sad demise of four students at a stampede at CochinUniversity of Science & Technology,” says Kerala governor Shri Arif Mohammed Khan on X. “Heartfelt condolences to their families. Prayers for speedy recovery of injured.”

The government is also setting up an expert committee to look into the stampede and frame terms of reference to prevent a repeat of such incidents moving forward.

Back in September, thousands of ticket-holders weren’t permitted entry to an AR Rahman concert at the Adityaram Palace City (cap. 25,000) in Chennai’s Paniyur, India., leading to a “stampede-like” situation, although no casualties were reported.

In the US, meanwhile, three women died in a crowd crush at the Main Street Armory concert venue in Rochester, New York in March following a show by rapper GloRilla.

 


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India stakes its claim as global entertainment hub

India is enhancing its claim as a global entertainment hub as it entices a growing number of international stars and festival brands to the country.

50 Cent, Westlife, Deep Purple, Goo Goo Dolls, Bastille and Kodaline are among the big-name acts set to perform before the end of the year, while Ed Sheeran last week announced his + – = ÷ x (Mathematics) tour will visit Mumbai in 2024.

The concert at Mahalaxmi Racecourse on 16 March will be the first time Sheeran has played in India since 2017. According to BookMyShow Live, which is co-promoting the concert with AEG Presents, the gig will feature a 360° circular and revolving stage – a first for India.

“The future of events in India is on the cusp of a remarkable transformation,” says Owen Roncon, BookMyShow’s chief of business, live entertainment.

“Our endeavour at BookMyShow Live is to consistently push the boundaries of how live entertainment is experienced here at par with global standards. In line with that, we are thrilled to bring this ground-breaking, production wonder with the 360-degree circular, revolving stage to the Indian audience for the Ed Sheeran: + – = ÷ x Tour (Mathematics Tour).

“The future of events in India is on the cusp of a remarkable transformation”

“With this innovative production, auditory experience and the technological integration, the tour comes to India as a work of art where technology waltzes with creativity, weaving an enchanting blend of visuals and sound; ensuring in fact that it truly is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

India has already enjoyed a bumper 2023 calendar, with concerts from the likes of Backstreet Boys, John Legend and Bonobo, and festivals including Vh1 Supersonic, Mahindra Blues Festival and Lollapalooza drawing yet more household names.

Live Nation and BookMyShow teamed up on the very first Lollapalooza India at Mumbai’s Mahalaxmi Racecourse, featuring Imagine Dragons, The Strokes, and Diplo alongside Indian-born rapper AP Dhillon, Delhi-based singer-songwriter Prateek Kuhad and others. The event drew 60,000 fans over two days, with 40 artists performing across four stages on a 50-acre site.

James Craven, Live Nation president, Middle East, says Lollapalooza coming to Mumbai is a great example of the market’s growing importance.

“It’s really exciting to see global markets open up to music and artists from the Indian sub-continent, as well as seeing how the Indian market continues to open up for international acts,” says Craven in the IQ’s Global Promoters Report. “Expanding global touring routes for artists is key to their growth and that of the industry, and India will play a key role in that going forwards.”

“Our endeavour is to consistently push the boundaries of how live is experienced here at par with global standards”

Lollapalooza isn’t the only global festival brand to plant a flag in India. Palm Tree Festival, an event founded by renowned Norwegian producer Kygo and his manager Myles Shear, will debut in Mumbai this November.

The festival will bring the likes of Kungs (FR), Sam Felt (NL) and Kidnap (GB) to the Mahalaxmi Racecourse between 3–5 November. Palm Tree has also taken place in The Hamptons (US), Cabo San Lucas (MX) and Pag Island (HR).

Elsewhere in the festival market, pre-existing brands have hailed new milestones. India’s biggest metal festival Bangalore Open Air sold out for the first time in its 10-year history.

The 3,000-capacity event, which is produced in partnership with Germany’s marquee metal festival Wacken Open Air, saw acts including Mayhem, Pestilence, Kryptos, Godless, Born of Osiris, Dying Embrace and Amorphia perform at Royal Orchid Resorts at Yelahanka.

Closing out the year, Percept Live’s Sunburn festival will return to Goa in December, with international artists such as Alesso (SE), Charlotte De Witte (BE) and Timmy Trumpet (AU).

“India’s music landscape has witnessed meteoric growth in the past few years,” says Kunal Khambhat, head of live events & IP at BookMyShow, said in the most recent Global Promoters Report.

“Slowly but steadily, the country has set the stage to become a keystone for some of the biggest music performances and markets in the world – from hosting acclaimed international and Indian independent artists at large concerts to smaller formats that are gradually shaping the music landscape in the country.”

 


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Warner acquires Indian live events firm E-Positive

Warner Music Group (WMG) has acquired India-based live events and artist management company, E-Positive.

WMG says that the deal strengthens its position in the market and will allow its artists “to tap into new expertise in brand partnerships and live events”.

The record label conglomerate officially launched Warner Music India in March 2020 and has since struck distribution deals with Bollywood specialist Tips Music and Punjabi music company Sky Digital India.

The firm has also inked strategic partnerships with Indian pop star Armaan Malik (in February 2022), with JetSynthesys in September 2021, and with Jjust Music in April 2022. In February, the major acquired a majority stake in India-based digital media and music firm, Divo.

Now, WMG has acquired E-Positive, which represents Darshan Raval – “one of the top five most streamed artists in India and the fastest growing artists in the region, having quadrupled his daily streams in the last 12 months”.

E-Positive will continue to act as a standalone company and will be led by founder and CEO, Naushad Khan, who has promoted more than 15,000 shows in the market.

“Naushad’s knowledge of brand partnerships and the live sector will be a great asset for us at Warner Music India”

Since launching E-Positive, he has also been instrumental in managing the careers of a number of artists, including Raval, whom he discovered and helped develop into a star.

“This is an exciting day in the journey of E-Positive,” says Khan. “I have worked towards developing a legacy for over 10 years and have shaped the journey of each one of my artists. I’m delighted that we have found a new home at Warner Music India. The team at Warner Music India will aid us in expanding into the international market and enable our artists to connect with more fans globally. We are looking forward to the next chapter of E-Positive.”

Jay Mehta, managing director, Warner Music India, adds: “Naushad has done an incredible job of positioning E-Positive as a leading management company and his knowledge of brand partnerships and the live sector will be a great asset for us at Warner Music India.

“And it’s a privilege to welcome such a phenomenal artist as Darshan Raval into the global Warner Music family. Darshan is a true star, and we believe he can become a staple on the global stage.”

Alfonso Perez Soto, president, Emerging Markets, Warner Music, said: “This deal once again reinforces our desire to become the number one destination for artists in India, and welcoming an artist like Darshan onto our roster is a real statement of intent.

“Darshan, as well as the whole of the E-Positive roster, will be able to harness Warner Music’s global network and start to connect with a wider international audience.

“This deal helps us to level-up and enhance our 360 offering to artists by bringing in the knowledge and expertise of Naushad to Warner Music. Our improved suite of services will enable our artists to transcend the whole of India and help bring Indian culture to the rest of the world.”

 


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Crowd crush outside AR Rahman concert

Chaos ensued at a concert by Indian star AR Rahman after thousands of ticketholders weren’t permitted entry to the venue, leading to a “stampede-like” situation.

The incident happened on Sunday (10 September) night at the Adityaram Palace City (cap. 25,000) in Chennai’s Paniyur, India.

Many fans claimed they weren’t allowed entry into the venue despite having valid tickets for the gig, while some women have said they were sexually harassed in a crush outside the venue.

Local reports claimed the concert was massively oversold but promoter ACTC Events rebutted the allegations, adding that the incident happened due to ticket duplication and overcrowding. Further claims contend there was no VIP section despite hospitality packages sold for around $500.

In an interview with The Hindu, AR Rahman said: “The organisers [ACTC events] had put together about 46,000 chairs in the venue. In some sections, everybody sat on one side and didn’t move to the other side. Seeing this, the policemen on duty assumed that the venue was full and closed it. By this time, the show had already started inside.”

“In some sections, everybody sat on one side and didn’t move to the other side”

ACTC Events CEO Hemanth Raja shared a video on the company’s Instagram page, in which he accepted “full responsibility” for the fiasco.

“Our goal was to guarantee an unforgettable night of Rahman sir’s songs for his fans. However, due to unforeseen circumstances, many couldn’t access the venue. We accept full responsibility for this and are accountable.”

He also said that the company would provide refunds to those who bought tickets but couldn’t attend the show and urged them to get in touch.

Grammy Award-winning Rahman promised on Twitter to refund the tickets of those who could not reach the venue.

“Right now, we are just terribly disturbed,” Rahman added in the interview. “Safety was the primary issue, especially because there were women and kids. I don’t want to point fingers at anyone, but we have to realise that the city is expanding, and the passion to consume music and art is also expanding.”

 


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India live industry reports post-pandemic surge

India is enjoying a post-pandemic boom for live music, with ticket sales already approaching last year’s total within the first six months of 2023, according to BookMyShow.

The promoting and ticketing giant’s end-of-year report for 2022 showed that eight million fans flocked to the more than 19,000 live entertainment events held in the country, with over 500,000 concert-goers attending gigs by themselves.

And this year is shaping up to be even more successful, thanks to shows such as the debut edition of Lollapalooza India, which drew 60,000 people over two days, Backstreet Boys, who pulled in 25,000 across concerts at the Jio World Gardens, Mumbai and Airia Mall, Gurugram, and Bangalore Open Air, India’s biggest metal festival, which sold out for the first time in its 10-year history.

“The number of music events hosted and number of tickets sold for music shows have already touched 80% of the 2022 music events roster, within less than six months of 2023 on BookMyShow,” Owen Roncon, BookMyShow’s head of live music, tells The Independent.

The debut edition of Lollapalooza India drew 60,000 fans between 28-29 January, with 40 artists performing across four stages at the Mahalaxmi Racecourse Lawns in Mumbai. The event saw performances from local and international artists including Imagine Dragons, The Strokes, AP Dhillon, Cigarettes After Sex, Divine, the F16s, Jackson Wang, Imanbek, Greta Van Fleet, The Wombats and Diplo.

“India’s music landscape has witnessed meteoric growth in the past few years”

Roncon says live music is BookMyShow’s fastest-growing category, contributing to 25% of its revenue, and 15% of total ticket sales post-Covid, while 23% of Lollapalooza India registrations had come to the platform for the first time.

Insiders credit factors such as the “ever-evolving infrastructure for concerts and festivals” for the upward trajectory, including the development of purpose-built music venues like Mumbai’s Jio World Garden and the NSCI Dome, in addition to the enhanced demand generated by streaming.

The country was on a promising upswing just as the pandemic hit, having welcomed U2 to Mumbai’s DY Patil Stadium in January 2020, which followed visits by the likes of the Rolling Stones (Brabourne Stadium, Mumbai, 2003), Ed Sheeran (Mahalaxmi Race Course, Mumbai, 2015/Reliance Jio Garden, Mumbai, 2017) and Beyoncé (Antilia, Udaipur, 2018).

Post Malone also made his bow in the country last December, headlining the Zomato Feeding India Concert, which attracted 20,000 fans. Other events include the NH7 Weekender, VH1 Supersonic and Magnetic Fields Festival.

“India’s music landscape has witnessed meteoric growth in the past few years,” Kunal Khambhati, head of live events & IP at BookMyShow, told IQ earlier this year. “Slowly but steadily, the country has set the stage to become a keystone for some of the biggest music performances and markets in the world – from hosting acclaimed international and Indian independent artists at large concerts to smaller formats that are gradually shaping the music landscape in the country.

 


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Head in the Clouds festival to launch in China

Asian-American music powerhouse 88rising is launching Head in the Clouds festival in China this September.

The expansion follows successful editions in Los Angeles (US), Jakarta (Indonesia), Manila (Philippines) and most recently, New York (US).

88rising today (24 July) confirmed that the China debut will take place in Guangzhou, a sprawling port city northwest of Hong Kong, on 23 and 24 September.

88rising todayconfirmed that the China debut will take place Guangzhou on 23 and 24 September

The venue and line-up are yet to be announced but as always, the festival will spotlight Asian acts. The likes of NIKI, Rich Brian, Warren Hue, Jackson Wang, eaJ, Joji, BIBI and Itzy have graced previous iterations of the festival.

88rising also announced that Head in the Clouds will return to Jakarta on 9 September for a second edition. Following that, 88rising will host a special showcase as part of the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix on 15 September. Confirmed to perform so far are Jackson Wang, NIKI, Rich Brian, Warren Hue, XG, BIBI, MILLI and Atarashii Gakko!.

Meanwhile, the original LA event will return on 4 and 5 August at Brookside at The Rose Bowl with Rina Sawayama, DPR LIVE + DPR IAN, XG, YOASOBI and more.

 


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‘India’s music landscape has seen meteoric growth’

India is fast becoming a global entertainment hub, according to some of the world’s leading executives.

Just as the pandemic hit, the country was on a promising upswing in its patchy live music history, having welcomed U2 to Mumbai’s DY Patil Stadium in January 2020. The show was the latest in an intermittent stream of superstar visits to Indian soil – The Stones, Sheeran, and Beyoncé have all been down, though Bieber cancelled in October – and was a collaboration between Live Nation and local ticketing giant BookMyShow, which is increasingly positioning itself as India’s foremost international promoter.

In January, the two promoters teamed up on the first Indian Lollapalooza at Mumbai’s Mahalaxmi Racecourse, featuring Imagine Dragons, The Strokes, and Diplo alongside Indian-born rapper AP Dhillon, Delhi-based singer-songwriter Prateek Kuhad and others. The event drew 60,000 fans over two days, with 40 artists performing across four stages on a 50-acre site.

James Craven, Live Nation president, Middle East, says Lollapalooza coming to Mumbai is a great example of the market’s growing importance.

“It’s really exciting to see global markets open up to music and artists from the Indian sub-continent, as well as seeing how the Indian market continues to open up for international acts,” says Craven in the IQ’s Global Promoters Report. “Expanding global touring routes for artists is key to their growth and that of the industry, and India will play a key role in that going forwards.”

“Expanding global touring routes for artists is key to their growth and that of the industry, and India will play a key role in that”

Kunal Khambhati, head of live events & IP at BookMyShow, says the entertainment and ticketing platform has worked hard to break down barriers to live shows, which included a 28% goods and services tax that now stands at 18%.

“India’s music landscape has witnessed meteoric growth in the past few years,” says Khambhati. “Slowly but steadily, the country has set the stage to become a keystone for some of the biggest music performances and markets in the world – from hosting acclaimed international and Indian independent artists at large concerts to smaller formats that are gradually shaping the music landscape in the country.

“BookMyShow’s work in this space has focused on creating exposure for both global talent to the Indian audience and Indian artists on the global stage,” he adds. “Lollapalooza is a global music phenomenon, an incomparable international experience, that will not only amplify this exposure in India but in all of Asia and put the spotlight on the country as a global entertainment hub.”

Elsewhere in the festival market, India’s biggest metal festival Bangalore Open Air sold out for the first time in its 10-year history.

“This will go down in the history books,” said Bangalore Open Air founder, Salman U Syed. “A heavy metal festival in Bangalore, India, is sold out. Thank you for your support. Ten years of hard work determination and patience.”

“The country has set the stage to become a keystone for some of the biggest music performances and markets in the world”

The 3,000-capacity event, which is produced in partnership with Germany’s marquee metal festival Wacken Open Air, will this year celebrate its 10th anniversary.

Mayhem, Pestilence, Kryptos, Godless, Born of Osiris, Dying Embrace and Amorphia will lead the celebrations at the 1 April event at Royal Orchid Resorts at Yelahanka.

It’s not just domestic executives that are touting India’s rapid growth. The likes of Wasserman Music’s Alex Hardee and ATC Live’s Alex Bruford testified to the market’s upward trajectory at the most recent International Live Music Conference (ILMC).

“I was just in India, where Lumineers headlined the NH7 Weekender and it was incredible,” said Bruford. “More than 20,000 people drove for about eight hours to get to the show – all completely local fans – and it was one of the band’s favourite gigs they’ve ever played.”

Hardee told ILMC delegates how Alan Walker (represented by Lee Anderson and Tom Schroeder at Wasserman) recently broke new ground in India: “He did ten shows in ten cities…I don’t think an international act has ever done that.”

“More than 20,000 people drove for about eight hours to get to the show”

While streaming rates point to a large pop market, challenging routing and a lack of infrastructure have hampered the development of an Indian circuit for rock and pop shows. Venues for shows typically have to be built from scratch on outdoor sites, and purpose-built venues are only a long-term prospect.

The EDM market is already creating circuits of its own. Percept Live’s three-day, 30,000-per-day Sunburn Festival in Goa returned in December, having brought many of the world’s top DJs down since 2007, and Percept has expanded into increasingly ambitious tours – including a six-city trek for DJ Snake in November, visiting Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore but also less-travelled spots such as Hyderabad and Ahmedabad.

“This is the first time we have done a six-city tour over two weekends with such a big artist,” says Percept Live COO Karan Singh, noting that DJ Snake drew anywhere from 10,000 to 15,000 per city. “If you have eight or ten markets where the top international acts can play, that’s good for the industry overall.”

Other experienced electronic promoters include Mixtape Live, Submerge, and Mumbai’s Krunk Live, whose travelling Bass Camp Festival celebrated its tenth year in November. Another major player in the Indian business is payments provider Paytm, which bought OML’s ticketing arm Insider in 2017.

As well as presenting tours by artists such as Singh and Dosanjh, Paytm Insider is behind the Bacardi NH7 Weekender, which has featured Basement Jaxx, A.R. Rahman, and Megadeth and brought The Lumineers, Dirty Loops and J.I.D. back to its home city of Pune for its 11th edition in November.

 


This article contains excerpts from the Global Promoters Report, a first-of-its-kind resource that highlights the world’s leading promoters and the 40 top markets they operate in. The report is now available to subscribers of IQ.

India’s biggest metal fest sells out for first time

India’s biggest metal festival Bangalore Open Air has sold out for the first time in its 10-year history.

“This will go down in the history books,” says Bangalore Open Air founder, Salman U Syed. “A heavy metal festival in Bangalore, India, is sold out. Thank you for your support. Ten years of hard work determination and patience.”

The 3,000-capacity event, which is produced in partnership with Germany’s marquee metal festival Wacken Open Air, will this year celebrate its 10th anniversary.

“Thank you for your support. Ten years of hard work determination and patience”

Mayhem, Pestilence, Kryptos, Godless, Born of Osiris, Dying Embrace and Amorphia are among the acts lined up for the 1 April event at Royal Orchid Resorts at Yelahanka. Tickets start from ₹30,499 (€341).

In the past, the festival has hosted The Wacken Metal Battle’s Indian leg, with the winning band getting an opportunity to play at the German flagship festival, promoted by Superstuct Entertainment-backed International Concert Service (ICS).

The sell-out Bangalore Open Air comes soon after the inaugural Lollapalooza India drew 60,000 fans over two days.

 


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Inaugural Lollapalooza India draws 60,000 fans

The debut edition of Lollapalooza India drew 60,000 fans over two days, with 40 artists performing across four stages on a 50-acre site.

Held at the Mahalaxmi Racecourse Lawns in Mumbai between 28–29 January, the event saw performances from local and international artists including Imagine Dragons, The Strokes, AP Dhillon, Cigarettes After Sex, Divine, the F16s, Jackson Wang, Imanbek, Greta Van Fleet, The Wombats, and Diplo – many of whom performed in India for the first time.

The organisers arranged for a range of facilities such as sign language interpreters, disability services and support organisations, plus on-site response teams providing assistance for psychological safety and inclusivity for the LGBT+ community. There was also a distress helpline, free unlimited drinking water supply, and buses dedicated to the festival connecting all of Mumbai.

The festival also unveiled a campaign titled #LollaForChange, which aims for minimal waste, managing food wastage, and increased sustainable measures.

Lollapalooza India was produced by founder Perry Farrell, WME, C3 Presents and India’s BookMyShow, and means the brand has now grown to eight countries on four continents, including editions in the US, Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Germany, France and Sweden. The festival will return to India in 2024.

 


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40+ smartphones stolen during DJ Snake India gig

More than 40 “high end” mobile phones were stolen from revellers during a performance by French producer DJ Snake in Mumbai, India.

Police have made a series of arrests after examining CCTV footage from the “jam-packed” concert, which took place last night (27 November) at the MMRDA Grounds in the Bandra-Kurla Complex.

According to Times Now, backpacks, handbags and other baggage were not allowed inside the venue, and concert-goers were allowed to enter only after verifying their ID cards.

The Hindustan Times reports that six people were taken in for questioning and 15 phones were recovered.

“Three accused are in our custody. The case is currently under investigation and we are probing them further”

“Three accused are in our custody,” says Dikshit Gedam, deputy commissioner of police, zone 8. “The case is currently under investigation and we are probing them further. We are using all technical help to solve the case and make arrests.”

The concert was part of DJ Snake’s India tour, which also took in cities such as Ahmedabad, Delhi NCR, Hyderabad Pune and Bengaluru.

Real name William Sami Étienne Grigahcine, the artist is also set to perform at the Soundstorm Festival in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on 1 December, followed by shows in Indonesia and Thailand.

Last month, Netherlands police arrested a suspect caught with dozens of phones thought to have been stolen from the Amsterdam Music Festival at the Johan Cruijff Arena on 22 October.

 


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