fbpx

PROFILE

MY SUBSCRIPTION

LOGOUT

x

The latest industry news to your inbox.

    

I'd like to hear about marketing opportunities

    

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

Italy’s live biz reports ‘significant recovery’

Italy’s live music industry is seeing a “significant recovery” since returning from the pandemic, according to newly released data.

The Italian Society of Authors and Publishers (SIAE) presented the concert statistics for the first nine months of 2022 as part of the sixth edition of Milan Music Week, which was held from 21-27 November.

Despite a 19% decrease in shows compared with the last pre-Covid year of 2019, the SIAE reports a 6% increase in attendance this year along with a 22% increase in box office spending.

The total number of shows held from January to September 2022 was 24,119 with 13,013,269 admissions, while spending at the box office totalled €450.6 million with an average ticket price of €35.

For the same period in 2019, however, the number of shows was 29,951 with 12,263,624 admissions. Box office takings were €369.4m with an average ticket price of €30.

“The first elaborations of the SIAE data for 2022 confirm a significant recovery especially in the concert sector”

Events staged at open-air venues fared particularly well, with the biggest concert being Italian singer-songwriter Vasco Rossi’s performance at Trentino Music Arena in Trento, which attracted a reported 111,881 fans.

SIAE attributes the upturn to a younger audience “more willing to frequent crowded places”, but acknowledges the boom is partly due to dates rescheduled from 2020 and 2021, for which tickets had already been sold.

The organisation’s general director Gaetano Blandini notes that while the figures are encouraging, the live business still requires assistance from the authorities to fully return to its former glory.

“The first elaborations of the SIAE data for 2022 confirm a significant recovery especially in the concert sector,” says Blandini. “These are positive signs that bode well, but to complete the crossing of the desert the help of the State with targeted interventions, tax incentives and other measures that give companies the opportunity to invest in technology and security [is needed] to overcome the challenges of the future.”

Speaking to IQ last month, Adolfo Galli, co-founder of Italian promoter D’Alessandro e Galli, said the public’s appetite for live shows had not waned since the pandemic-enforced break.

“People are buying tickets,” he said. “Lucca Summer Festival this year, which was the first one we’ve managed to do since Covid, did incredibly well. We sold almost 140,000 tickets and most of the shows were sold out.

“We have sold a lot of tickets for all of our shows this year, including Eric Clapton in October, our Elton John show at San Siro Stadium, which sold out – 50,000 tickets – and the Rolling Stones show also in Milan – 57,000 tickets.”

Subscribers can read IQ‘s recent market report on Italy here.

 


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

Italian Supreme Court backs TicketOne appeal

The Italian Supreme Administrative Court (CdS) has ruled in favour of TicketOne in its appeal against a €10.9 million fine for alleged abuses of its dominant market position.

The original 2021 ruling by the Italian Competition Authority (ICA) had previously been dismissed and the fine annulled by a Lazio court in March this year.

It followed an investigation into the market leader’s parent company CTS Eventim and related to complaints by venue operator Zed Entertainment, which accused TicketOne of “an abusive strategy of an exclusionary nature” involving complex deals, contracts and acquisitions.

The dispute first became public in 2019 when a handful of Italian promoters, led by Zed’s Valeria Arzenton, alleged unfair competition on the part of Eventim-owned Friends and Partners (F&P).

“The CdS found that the ICA had in fact failed to examine sufficiently the applicants’ defence of the existence of a lawful purpose pursued by the acquisitions”

Arzenton accused CTS Eventim/F&P of trying to strong-arm promoters and artists into ticketing contracts with TicketOne at the expense of non-Eventim operators – a claim strenuously denied by CTS Eventim, TicketOne, F&P and sister companies D’Alessandro e Galli, Vertigo and Vivo Concerti.

According to the CdS, reports Lexology, the contested practices – in particular the acquisitions and related exclusivity clauses — “may plausibly be objectively justified” and do not necessarily result in an unlawful restriction.

“The CdS found that the ICA had in fact failed to examine sufficiently the applicants’ defence of the existence of a lawful purpose pursued by the acquisitions,” it adds.

However, last month’s judgement suggests the matter is not yet closed.

“The CdS confirmed that the retaliatory conduct and boycotts implemented against other operators such as Zed, may in fact constitute abuses of dominance requiring further investigations by the ICA and possible revision of the fine initially imposed on CTS Eventim – Ticketone,” it adds.

 


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

Slam Dunk Fest confirms European expansion

The UK’s Slam Dunk Festival has confirmed it is expanding into Europe with two new rock events launching under the banner in France and Italy next summer.

Slam Dunk France will be a 15,000-cap one day, one stage indoor event taking place at Halle Tony Garnier in Lyon on Friday 2 June 2023. Headlined by The Offspring, the inaugural French edition will also feature Simple Plan, Billy Talent, Zebrahead and Oakman.

Slam Dunk Italy, meanwhile, will be held over two days across two stages from 2-3 June on the beach in Rimini at Bellaria Igea Marina (Parco Pavese and Beky Bay), on the Adriatic coast close to Milan.

The 10,000-cap outdoor event will also offer camping and hotel packages across the weekend. Acts announced so far are headliners Rancid and The Offspring, plus Enter Shikari, Simple Plan, Bowling for Soup, Billy Talent, Anti Flag, Less Than Jake, Trash Boat, and Destroy Boys.

“We hope to add more countries in the future so watch this space”

Slam Dunk France is being promoted in partnership with French Independent promoter Opus Live along with AEG France, while the Italian edition is a co-promotion with local booking agency Hub Music Factory.

“I’m so happy as an independent festival to be able to expand in Europe with help from some great local partners who share the vision of the festival,” says Slam Dunk festival director Ben Ray, who founded the event in the UK in 2006. “We hope to add more countries in the future so watch this space.”

The UK edition of Slam Dunk will be held across two sites – Hatfield Park on 27 May and a northern leg in Temple Newsam, Leeds on 28 May. Artists will include The Offspring, Enter Shikari, Billy Talent, Bowling for Soup, Yellow Card, Less than Jake, Kids in Glass Houses, Underoath, Flogging Molly, Creeper and The Hunna, among others.

The French spin-off was originally set to launch in May 2020 at La Cigale & La Boule Noire, Paris, before being cancelled due to the pandemic.

 


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

Musical maestros: 35 years of D’Alessandro e Galli

It’s 35 years since Adolfo Galli and Mimmo D’Alessandro first collaborated on a show, changing Italy’s live music scene forever. James Hanley learns that Di & Gi’s founders are the epitome of ‘opposites attract’…

At 35 years and counting, Mimmo D’Alessandro and Adolfo Galli’s promoting union has outlasted most marriages. But then, they do live largely separate lives.

“Adolfo is in Brescia, and I stay in Tuscany, in Viareggio,” explains D’Alessandro of their two-office set-up. “I met Adolfo in 1987 in Tuscany. We had spoken on the phone about Miles Davis, who he was working with, but the first time we met face-to-face was at a David Bowie show I promoted in Florence for the Glass Spider Tour. Adolfo is a very different character to me. I support Napoli [FC], he supports Inter…”

“It’s definitely a unique combination in our business, that’s for sure,” responds Galli with a chuckle. “Mimmo is more involved production-wise, and I’ve always looked at more of the commercial side. Mimmo is from the south, I’m from the north. He likes horses, and I like guitars. But our differences are our biggest strength.

“Even though sometimes we don’t agree, he puts something of what he thinks in and I put something of what I think in; we always listen to each other, and it is that combination that has allowed us to do what we’ve done so far.”

From that fateful first meeting emerged D’Alessandro e Galli (or Di and Gi to its friends) who would go on to bring a who’s who of international music to the Italian market, along with a hitherto seen level of professionalism.

“In the early days, Italy was an extremely difficult place to work, like the Wild West”

“In the early days, Italy was an extremely difficult place to work, like the Wild West,” Sensible Events’ Andrew Zweck tells IQ. “But both Adolfo and Mimmo have played a big part in raising standards and making working there smooth, professional, and enjoyable. A show with them is always a special event.

“I started with them in the late 80s with Paul Simon. Our first big stadium tour was a double bill of Elton John and Eric Clapton in ‘92. Over the years, we’ve created a lot of successful tours for the artists I work with, such as Mark Knopfler, Roger Waters, and the Rolling Stones.”

Basing themselves away from the traditional industry melting pots of Rome and Milan, the company’s longevity has been born out of passion rather than profit.

“For me, this is not business; we love music,” says D’Alessandro. “I mean, imagine life with no music.”

Robomagic’s Rob Hallett can vouch for that. “They both have a genuine love for music, from jazz to country to rock,” he says. “Mimmo has even been known to rap in the karaoke bars of Forti dei Marmi!”

“I owe my business to Peppino di Capri”

Hallett has known the pair for over 30 years, collaborating on productions from Herbie Hancock and Youssou N’Dour to Backstreet Boys to Beyoncé, Justin Timberlake, and Leonard Cohen. “We feel privileged to have had the possibility of working with artists like Roger Waters, David Gilmour, Paul McCartney, Elton John, Whitney Houston, George Michael, Tina Turner, Sade, Joe Cocker, and more,” reflects Galli. “When we look at what we’ve done, sometimes we cannot believe it.”

The duo made names for themselves separately before deciding two heads were better than one. D’Alessandro started out in Naples in the early 70s, working with Italian singer Peppino di Capri (“I owe my business to Peppi”), before heading north to manage Viareggio’s storied La Bussola. He went on to run the then new 7,000- cap Bussoladomani, where he supervised a live TV show every week and also dipped into management and record production.

A James Brown performance in 1984 remains a personal highlight, even if proceedings didn’t go entirely to plan.

“We had a contract to film the event for television, but when he arrived in Viareggio he said he didn’t want any cameras and was asking for more and more money,” recounts D’Alessandro. “He says, ‘I want to talk with the Pope!’

“Eventually, I gave him $50,000 more, and then ten minutes before he went on stage, he said, ‘I don’t like the audience.’ But, finally, he went on the stage and played for three hours. It was unbelievable – the best show I have seen in my life.”

“I feel quite proud of the fact that I suggested they got together – and their collective talents have proved to be extremely successful”

Elsewhere, Galli took over the management of a local theatre in his hometown of Brescia and began booking jazz artists via a connection with George Wein, founder of the Newport Jazz Festival. Despite Di and Gi’s contrasting personalities, legendary agent Barrie Marshall saw their potential as a pairing.

“We go way back to when Adolfo was actually in the army,” remembers the Marshall Arts founder. “He was booking gigs even then and would call me from phone boxes. For some months I thought his first name was Galli – as the cry would go around the office ‘Galli is on the phone but doesn’t have much time!’ Of course, he very soon became Adolfo – and a friend. I think the earliest shows we did were José Feliciano and then Joe Cocker.

“Just a little later, I met Mimmo D’Alessandro, another fine businessman full of charm and grace. I got to know him quite well, and I felt that the contrasting styles of these two men would create really great chemistry.

“I feel quite proud of the fact that I suggested they got together – and their collective talents have proved to be extremely successful.”

Marshall has collaborated with D’Alessandro e Galli on blockbuster concerts by the likes of Paul McCartney, Tina Turner, Whitney Houston, Elton John, and George Michael.

“We sold over 200,000 tickets in one month in August, which normally is unheard of in this country, and we are still working with Mark Knopfler 30 years later”

“I’ve known Barrie Marshall since I was about 25, and he is like family to me,” offers Galli. “That is a relationship that is really strong and goes beyond the business.

“Barrie put his [neck on the line] for us with Dire Straits in 1992. The manager did not want to hear about Italy at all, but Barrie said, ‘Look, I’ve worked with these guys in 1989 with Paul McCartney and Tina Turner in 1990. I’ve done Sade, I’ve done this, I’ve done that. You have to work with Mimmo and Adolfo.

“The negotiation with Ed Bicknell went on for two years and everything was on sale and sold out, with the exception of Italy. We ended up making the deal at the end of July 1992, with shows starting in September in Milan. We sold over 200,000 tickets in one month in August, which normally is unheard of in this country, and we are still working with Mark Knopfler 30 years later.”

D’Alessandro, who describes Marshall as “like a brother,” showed his gratitude in his own inimitable way.

“Mimmo had several horses at one time,” discloses Marshall. “One was called Joe Cocker, and I believe one was Paco de Lucía. I then found out he named one Barrie Marshall.

“He and Adolfo sent me a commentary, obviously in very fast Italian, which sounded so weird as every few seconds in English I could hear ‘Barrie Marshall.’ Apparently, I rode to victory with Frankie Dettori on my back.”

“We’ve always looked at creating events that are not customary”

Thinking outside of the box is a key ingredient in the Di and Gi special sauce, as characterised by its unorthodox choice of venues.

“We’ve always looked at creating events that are not customary,” says Galli. “A great rock and roll band meeting a great archaeological site is one of those things that people will remember, whereas anybody can play a sports hall. Whether you are in New York, London, or Milan, they are all the same, and our view has always been to look for different locations, which is a big challenge.

“We have promoted shows in St. Mark’s Square in Venice; the first Colosseum shows in Rome were produced by us; we’ve done shows with Leonard Cohen and George Michael in the square in the centre of Florence, and James Taylor at the Piazza del Popolo in Rome.”

Most challenging of all was David Gilmour’s 2016 concert at the Amphitheatre of Pompeii, where the guitarist had performed as part of Pink Floyd 45 years earlier.

“I spent one year of my life on this show,” notes D’Alessandro. “Every day was a meeting, and it was so tough. It was very, very complicated.”

“It was a big achievement because we could only work during the day,” adds Galli. “Specialists had to show us the way to load in our material because you couldn’t put a certain weight on the site. And when we started the production, we were inside the venue every day for more than one month, trying to put it together for 3,000 people. David Gilmour was the first artist to perform in that venue after Pink Floyd – the Live at Pompeii DVD came from that show.”

“Lucca is a medieval world within a world”

Di and Gi would later stage gigs by Elton John, James Taylor, and King Crimson at Pompeii, while an annual staple of the firm is the Lucca Summer Festival, which launched in Tuscany in 1998. The 40,000-cap extravaganza has hosted heavyweights such as the Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Tom Jones, Van Morrison, the Eagles, Stevie Wonder, Ennio Morricone, and Michael Bublé.

Its most recent edition, held in the Mura Storiche area next to the Lucca City Wall in June/July, welcomed Justin Bieber, Liam Gallagher, and John Legend, among others.

“It’s like my baby,” gushes D’Alessandro. “A politician friend of mine said, ‘Lucca is such a beautiful place. I had never been to Lucca before and when I saw it, I was shocked. It’s an incredible experience.’”

“Lucca is a medieval world within a world,” offers Galli.

“It is magic,” enthuses D’Alessandro. “You need to come!”

“We have seen others follow the same path as us, so maybe we did influence some people, but we have never looked in anybody else’s houses, as we say in this country”

Di and Gi also debuted another unique proposition, the 10,000-cap Tuscany festival La Prima Estate in 2022. Situated just 50m from the sea in Lido di Camaiore, Versilia, headline acts included The National, Duran Duran, Bonobo, Courtney Barnett, Jungle, and Mura Masa.

“We have never looked at what other companies do to promote their events,” stresses Galli. “We have seen others follow the same path as us, so maybe we did influence some people, but we have never looked in anybody else’s houses, as we say in this country.“

Although CTS Eventim took a 60% stake in the firm in 2018, consolidating its “leading position in the Italian live entertainment market,” D’Alessandro and Galli have continued to manage the company on a day-to-day basis.

“We were approached by CTS because they were expanding in our country,” says Galli. “Our company already had a contract with them for ticketing and they gave us this opportunity.

“Now, unluckily, this happened in 2019, and we ended up in between the two years with Covid, so a lot of the things that we were starting to develop or discussing with them had to be stopped. Now, we have started again, and we are looking at some ideas that we can mutually develop together, but mainly it was done by us in order to be able to develop some new strategies for the future.

“The world is changing, and we need to be part of a major company because it’s more and more difficult for an individual independent company to work nowadays. But even though we are partnered with CTS Eventim, we still tend to work with the same people and the same spirit of a family-run business.”

“After two years of being closed down because of Covid, right at the start of the season, we have to cancel for Covid”

Italy became the epicentre of Covid-19 in the devastating first few weeks of the pandemic, shutting down the country’s touring industry weeks before its European counterparts. For D’Alessandro, the memories are too painful to talk about even now.

“It was a really tough time,” he sighs. “I don’t want to remember it.”

“After two years, we finally started working again in April/May 2022,” interjects Galli. “Our first tour, which has been moved twice, was by Eric Clapton. So, in May, we were ready with our Eric Clapton shows in Milan and Bologna.

“Three days before the first date, we got a phone call saying Eric Clapton’s got Covid, and we had to move the dates to October. We are all looking forward to seeing him because we have three sold-out shows, and we know the audience is ready to see him after so long, but it was an unfortunate situation that after two years of being closed down because of Covid, right at the start of the season, we have to cancel for Covid. It’s unbelievable! There’s nothing more we can say. I think people have already said too much about Covid.”

On a more positive note, Galli reports the Italian public’s appetite for concerts has not waned in the interim.

“People are buying tickets,” he says. “Lucca Summer Festival this year, which was the first one we’ve managed to do since Covid, did incredibly well. We sold almost 140,000 tickets and most of the shows were sold out. We have sold a lot of tickets for all of our shows this year, including Clapton in October, our Elton John and Rolling Stones shows at San Siro Stadium in Milan in June.”

“You used to be able to speak directly with artists, now you speak with lawyers”

While still intensely passionate about their work, the pair admit to frustrations over aspects of the modern industry.

“It would be impossible for me if I started out today,” declares D’Alessandro. “When I started in this business, it was the best in the world, and I loved it. Every morning when I woke up, I would think, ‘Oh my god, I’m a very lucky man.’ Now it’s changed completely. You used to be able to speak directly with artists, now you speak with lawyers.”

“There was more possibility for music lovers like us to discuss ideas with the artists,” agrees Galli. “We have found that when you speak with an artist and explain the idea, there is the money side but there is also an artistic side. But the music business is unfortunately more about the numbers now. This doesn’t mean they couldn’t make money in those days, but they wouldn’t just look at the money.”

Today, a new generation of D’Alessandro e Galli is waiting in the wings ready to take the company forward.

“The future for Di and Gi, as far as I’m concerned, is my son Andrea and Mimmo’s son Enrico,” suggests Galli. “They are the ones that will have to keep the brand going, because music changes; it’s the circle of life. I mean, 35 years ago, you would have never expected K-pop music to work in Europe, but now you have bands coming from Asia and breaking the market. I still have my ideas on how to promote events. I try to keep up-to-date, as does Mimmo, but when you’re younger, you’re much quicker at picking up new tendencies and influences.”

“The music is what keeps us going, and as long as there’s good music, there will be D’Alessandro e Galli”

“We couldn’t have better teachers,” says Enrico. “What’s so good about them is that they always go for the unconventional choice, and most of the time it’s brilliant, so we try to follow that example.”

“It’s been a good ride so far, and we hope to be here for a few more years,” concludes Galli. “We look forward to new artists and new experiences because we are always learning, so we want to be ready for whatever comes next.

“We are thinking positively about the future, even though nowadays, if you look at the news, it is depressing. At the end of the day, this is what we do. The music is what keeps us going, and as long as there’s good music, there will be D’Alessandro e Galli.”

 


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

Italian government to criminalise unlicensed raves

Italy’s new prime minister Giorgia Meloni has moved to criminalise the staging of illegal raves.

Organisers of unlicensed parties of more than 50 people “that pose a risk to public health, safety or order”, could face between three and six years in jail under a new law of “invasion for dangerous gatherings”, drawn up by the far-right government.

It comes after around 1,000 ravers, who had travelled from as far away as Belgium and France, were ordered to leave a 48-hour warehouse rave in Modena yesterday (31 October) following noise complaints.

“We have shown that the state won’t turn a blind eye and fail to act when faced with law-breaking”

“We have shown that the state won’t turn a blind eye and fail to act when faced with law-breaking,” says Meloni, speaking at a press conference, as per Reuters. “The impression that the Italian state has given in recent years is one of being lax when it comes to respecting the rules and the law.”

The BBC reports that the previous national unity government had already begun work on changing the law after a 2021 rave in Viterbo ended in two deaths. But the new administration’s draft law also includes big fines, the possibility of wiretapping perpetrators and the confiscation of sound equipment.

The government has also responded to criticism as to why it had targeted raves while ignoring a fascist march by 2,000 people in Predappio, birthplace of Benito Mussolini, over the weekend.

Interior minister Matteo Piantedosi claims the two events were “completely different things” as the Mussolini march had not disrupted public order, whereas the Modena rave was reported by the warehouse owner.

 


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

100k-cap Italy concert venue up and running

The largest outdoor music venue in Europe is now up and running in Italy after its opening was delayed due to the pandemic.

Construction work on the 100,000-cap RCF Arena in Reggio Emilia, near Bologna, started in 2018 and the venue was originally set to open its doors in September 2020 with a 30th anniversary show by local superstar Luciano Ligabue.

Following two postponements caused by Covid-19, Ligabue finally christened the arena this June, almost two years later than originally planned, with Harry Styles booked to play  on 22 July next year as part of his Love On Tour European run.

Designed by Iotti + Pavarani Architects, Tassoni & Partners and Studio LSA, the venue is operated by the SPV C.Volo network of seven enterprises and was built on unused land at the Reggio Emilia Airport, with audio company RCF acquiring the naming rights. The project has echoes of Tempelhof Airport in Berlin, Germany, which has served as a public park and outdoor concert venue since closing in the 2000s.

“RCF Arena’s aim is to make Reggio Emilia the capital of live music, and to create a Music Valley of international scope”

“Airports, like other large infrastructures or urban voids, often entail the availability of extremely large spaces, proximity to road infrastructure, distance from population centres, a hybrid and surreal character of uninhabited space but ready to come alive at events,” architect Paolo Iotti tells Fast Company.

The RCF Arena, which “features a slope of 5% to guarantee the best possible views and acoustics”, is being managed by C.Volo partner Arena Campovolo S.r.l., formed by Ligabue’s manager Claudio Maioli and Ferdinando Salzano, director of CTS Eventim-owned Friends & Partners.

“RCF Arena Reggio Emilia aims to make the most of the potential for growth in the live events sector to boost tourism in the region,” says a press release. RCF Arena’s aim is to make Reggio Emilia the capital of live music, and to create a Music Valley of international scope – deservedly joining the system of valleys in the region dedicated to motor vehicles, food and wellness – able to welcome, thrill and amaze people from all over Europe.”

PHOTO: Iotti + Pavarani Architetti, Arch, Guido Tassoni, Lauro Sacchetti Associati

 


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

No place like Rome: Italy market report

Having been shut down by the coronavirus for longer than many of its European neighbours, Italy’s live music professionals have been more eager than most to resume business. Adam Woods reports on their mixed fortunes.

In a market known for passionate and frequently litigious extremes of competition, the breadth of the coalition that met the press at Milan’s San Siro stadium last September was striking.

Under the banner of promoters’ body Assomusica, the heads of Friends and Partners (F&P), Vivo Concerti, Live Nation Italia, Vertigo, D’Alessandro e Galli (Di & Gi), BPM, DNA, and others sat shoulder-to-shoulder to insist on a full live restart at full capacity.

“We have lost 99% of revenue,” said Live Nation’s Roberto De Luca. “Only with 100% capacity can we start again.”

They didn’t get their wish until April this year, and a rollercoaster year has been the consequence – stuffed with shows, not all of them successful, but bringing relief, to the top end of the market in particular.

“We saw huge growth in 2022, both for international artist and local artists”

“We saw huge growth in 2022, both for international artist and local artists,” De Luca tells IQ, almost exactly a year on from the San Siro showdown. “Talking only about big events in the summer period, we produced 22 stadiums, with 1.24m tickets sold; two big open-air shows, with 105,000 tickets sold; and two festivals – Firenze Rocks and I-Days. We sold 309,000 tickets for those.”

The biggest shows, of course, give an impression of health that doesn’t necessarily carry right through the market.

“The trouble with this summer is there were too many offers,” says Vittorio Dellacasa of Milan-based staging and production specialist Delamaison Productions. “In a normal season, a venue might have ten shows a month, and now they have 29 on a monthly basis. The big events work very well – like, capacity of 20,000 upwards. But the medium to small events, it’s tough for them.”

Italy was hit particularly hard and exceptionally early by Covid. In the live business, the resulting restrictions meant two long zombie years, and as with most other markets, the ramifications of those and other disasters are taking time to unravel.

“I’m pretty sure it will take another two or three years before we come back to the pre-pandemic level”

“After two years of pandemic and the Ukrainian crisis, we are all living a very difficult period,” says Vertigo CEO Andrea Pieroni. “I’m pretty sure it will take another two or three years before we come back to the pre-pandemic level. It won’t be an easy challenge, in my opinion, but I’m here, and I’m ready to rock.”

Pieroni says he didn’t draw his inspiration from his home market for his recent novel, È solo rock‘n’roll (It’s only rock’n’roll), set in the international live music business. But anyone who wanted to create a soap opera around a real-life live music industry could do worse than basing it in Italy, where passions run high and lawsuits rain down with remarkable regularity.

Last year, CTS Eventim’s TicketOne was fined almost €11m by the country’s competition authority Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato (AGCM) over allegations of abusing a dominant position in the Italian ticketing market, though the conviction and fine were repealed in March 2022.

Over the course of the case, back in 2019, venue group and promoter Zed Entertainment’s co-founder Valeria Arzenton, who had publicly decried the practices of TicketOne and Eventim-owned promoter F&P, was threatened by the Eventim side with a defamation suit.

This year, Viagogo was dramatically fined €23.5m for breaking Italy’s rules on secondary ticketing. And in February 2019, De Luca and other Live Nation and Viagogo executives, as well as Di & Gi’s Mimmo D’Alessandro, were cleared of wrongdoing by a court in Milan, having been charged with profiting from inflating ticket prices using the secondary market between 2011 and 2016.

All of which paints a picture of a wild and interesting market, and one that remains proudly unique in numerous ways.

“The main difference between Italy and other markets is that around 70% of the business is in domestic acts”

Italian talent
In an industry where international talent typically makes the world go round, Italy remains remarkably self-contained. Italian stars still rule the roost on home turf, and big touring acts can often find themselves feeling rather less famous and successful in Italy than they do elsewhere.

“Probably the main difference between Italy and other markets is that around 70% of the business is in domestic acts,” says Pietro Fuccio of Rome-based independent promoter DNA Concerti. “When I speak to an international agent, he doesn’t understand why his artist, big or small, doesn’t get the same attention in Italy as he gets everywhere else – and it is because they are smaller here than they are everywhere else.”

The difference in recent years is a significant shift towards younger artists, spearheaded by performers such as stadium-filler Ultimo, Milan’s Rkomi, Vicenza’s Sangiovanni, glam-rockers Måneskin, Bergamo’s indie-rockers Pinguini Tattici Nucleari, and hip-hopper Sfera Ebbasta.

As a barometer of Italian music’s health at home, every one of the Top 20 best-selling albums of last year was by an Italian artist, and for the first time ever, the same was also true of the year’s Top 10 singles.

“In the last five, six years, Italian music has got big exposure,” says Eric Bagnarelli of Live Nation-owned promoter Comcerto. “There are a lot of new acts that are getting good results, and they are a huge part of the market now.”

“You can do very well from touring just in Italy”

The 71-year-old Sanremo Music Festival – the inspiration for Eurovision – retains a remarkable power to guide the musical mainstream. Over the years, Sanremo has launched the careers of numerous Italian acts, including Andrea Bocelli, Laura Pausini, Eros Ramazzotti and Zucchero, but it has neatly pivoted towards younger, edgier talent in recent years. Måneskin won the contest in 2021, and 2022 winner Blanco this summer sold out all 350,000 tickets of his 27-date Blu Celeste national tour in hours.

But while Italian acts may be superstars at home, it is relatively rare that they have made it big else- where. Often, they have been brokered by powerful booking agencies who fulfil a management-style role, with little attempt at an international plot.

“It is still difficult,” says Attilio Perissinotti of booking agency BPM Concerti. “There are more Italian artists that now play Europe because in the last ten or 15 years a lot of people have left Italy and gone to cities like Barcelona or London. But usually Italian acts sing in Italian. It’s a barrier, you know?”

“You can do very well from touring just in Italy,” notes Christoph Storbeck, head of the conference programme at Linecheck, Italy’s leading music conference, “so a lot of artists don’t see it as natural or mandatory to go out into the world.”

Måneskin have made a piece of Italian history by becoming a genuine international act on the back of their Eurovision 2021 win. Will Italian stars start bursting the country’s borders in greater numbers? Vivo Concerti’s managing director and co-owner Clemente Zard, isn’t convinced.

“I think this is an exception,” he says. “They obviously sing in English, and they came out in a very, very strong way, but to say it will now happen to a lot of other Italian artists – no, it won’t happen. But definitely, Italian music can have success in other countries.”

“There’s not much room for indie promoters, although sometimes even indie promoters can do some big names”

Promoters
Italy represents a particularly heated battleground for the international corporates, with Eventim in the box seat as the majority owner of promoters Vivo Concerti, Di & Gi, Vertigo and F&P, as well as ticketing market leader TicketOne.

“The reality is that now there are only two big groups: Live Nation on one side and Eventim on the other,” says Pieroni at Vertigo, which broadly leans towards rock, both domestic and international. “There’s not much room for indie promoters, although sometimes even indie promoters can do some big names. But in general, if you are not part of a big corporation, things will be very hard.”

Vivo Concerti finds itself in a particularly strong position as the booking agent and promoter for many of Italy’s most successful new acts, including Ultimo, Blanco, Måneskin and others.

“We promote a lot of international acts, and we are growing on that side, but we did €120m, €130m revenues this year and 75%, 80% is from local acts,” says Zard.

“We are lucky because we are the promoter for practically all of the major new Italian artists. This summer we did 22 large-scale events, between stadiums and big arenas including Circo Massimo. And we are still growing because we are a young company – I am 32 years of age, all my employees are pretty young. We understand how things are moving because we are part of the generation that is moving them.”

“It was a good summer with big numbers, although most of the shows were postponements from 2020, so those tickets were sold a long time ago”

One of Vivo Concerti’s innovations is the incorporation of a 13-strong booking department. “That is very unusual for a promoter in Italy – Italians are not famous for being the most modern in the business.”

Vivo Concerti and F&P recently pooled their resources for the launch of a new media company, Friends & Vivo Multimedia, which aims to assist brands eager to capitalise on the power of live music. The venture defines the two companies’ reach as 3,000 shows per year and an audience of 5 million, with a combined 140 Italian artists, 50 international ones, and 45 DJs represented.

Of the other Eventim siblings, Vertigo reports a fitfully strong summer, flanked by a testing spring, and a potentially barn- storming autumn.

“It was a good summer with big numbers, although most of the shows were postponements from 2020, so those tickets were sold a long time ago,” says Pieroni. “Regarding shows we announced in early 2022 to happen in the summer, unfortunately the situation was not so good. On the other hand, we announced several arena shows to happen in the autumn, and those have sold incredibly well.”

Di & Gi, meanwhile, finds the market “in very good health right now,” according to promoter Enrico D’Alessandro, who reels off big shows: the Stones at the San Siro in June; Elton John’s final Italian performance at the same stadium a couple of weeks earlier; six dates for Roger Waters next year in Milan and Bologna.

“Like everywhere else, increased costs have affected our work, and this problem will not decrease in the near future”

Live Nation Italia, meanwhile, has all the international strength you would expect, as well as a fast-growing ticketing contender in Ticketmaster. De Luca rates development of local artists as a key priority for Live Nation over the coming years, though he notes that there are plenty of existential challenges in these tricky times.

“Like everywhere else, increased costs have affected our work, and this problem will not decrease in the near future,” he says. “On top of this there was, and there is, a shortage of personnel, as many left their usual jobs due to the lack of shows during the pandemic. We lost a lot of professional people, and we need to train new ones, and it will take time for that.”

Of course, there are independents that thrive, including Trident Music, with its affiliated booking agency BPM Concerti.
“We are one of the last big independent groups in Italy,” says Perissinotti at BPM, which holds a roster of around 50 Italian acts such as Pinguini Tattici Nucleari, Luchè, Paky, Nayt, while also taking care of Italian gigs for international artists such as Jethro Tull, Yes, Tokio Hotel and V**gra Boys. Trident handles Jovanotti, Sfera Ebbasta, and Tiromancino, and events including the Jova Beach Party’s recurring summer tour of Italian beaches.

In July, Milan-based independent Radar Concerti sought the comfort of a larger group when it became the latest member of the Nordic All Things Live collective.

“I was with Live Nation for ten years, and I was missing the information,” says Radar Concerti’s Fabrizio Pompeo. “Now we have a lot more of that, a lot of colleagues sharing what they know about different markets. Being part of a bigger company means having a different strategy – bigger shows, maybe festivals.

“When you’re a smaller independent, you try and grow some new artist, and then when things start to happen they come and say, ‘Sorry, we went to Live Nation. Thanks, you did a great job.’ But already, I think people are treating us differently.”

“Some very good medium and small shows are suffering on the sales, and production-wise, all of us in Europe have lost a lot of personnel”

Under veteran Claudio Trotta, Italian pioneer Barley Arts also forges on, bringing Queen + Adam Lambert, Deftones, and others to Italy this summer and selling 170,000 tickets for three Bruce Springsteen dates next May and July at the Parco Urbano G. Bassani in Ferrara, Rome’s Circo Massimo, and Monza’s Autodromo Nazionale.

“2022 has seen ups and downs,” says Barley Arts head of booking Marco Ercolani. “There was a slow spring, a hectic and way too busy summer, and a difficult fall.”

For obvious reasons, including rising touring costs, squeezed disposable income, market saturation, and other knock-on effects from Covid and the Russo-Ukrainian War, Ercolani and Trotta predict a difficult time to come.

“It’s going to be tough,” says Trotta. “Very tough. But for now we are having a very good year. We are back working, we are doing shows and tours that have been rescheduled five, even six times, and we are doing some new shows as well, with some great successes. But some very good medium and small shows are suffering on the sales, and production-wise, all of us in Europe have lost a lot of personnel.”

“I tried a couple of times to do multiple-stage festivals and camping, but the ticket sales remained the same”

Festivals
Festivals mean something a little different in Italy than elsewhere. Multi-stage events are rare, as is onsite camping, so the typical Italian festival is more akin to a concert series, often spread across several weeks, with a handful of acts and one clear headliner each day.

“We don’t have a festival with multiple stages and a 60,000-70,000-capacity,” says Bagnarelli. “We don’t have anything that is comparable to Glastonbury or Reading and Leeds.”

It is an issue that has dogged the market over the years. “I tried a couple of times to do multiple-stage festivals and camping, but the ticket sales remained the same,” says Pieroni. “So why spend more money? We also have to consider that June and July in Italy are the hottest months. It’s not like northern Europe where you have 22 degrees during the day and people feel like they are in heaven. In Italy, they would feel like they were in hell.”

Among the most recent attempts to challenge the paradigm was the eclectic pop and rock event Home Festival, initially in Treviso and latterly in Venice, which appeared to signal a new dawn in Italian festival habits, drawing 80,000 at its peak in 2018. But its Treviso-based promoter Home Entertainment fell on hard times after a troubled tenth edition in 2019, and the following year the company went into liquidation.

For his part, Zard is convinced festivals are another area of the market ripe for modernisation. Having brought on board Daze Events’ Alessandro Ravizza as senior promoter and head of festivals development, Vivo Concerti is involved in Florence’s two-day, multi-stage electronic festival Decibel Open Air, for which Zard predicts bigger and better things – just as he does the market at large.

“It’s important for Italy to have festivals in a proper way and not only headline shows”

“It will take some time, but I’m sure we will achieve this result because it’s important for Italy to have festivals in a proper way and not only headline shows,” he says. “In the coming years, we will surely invest more in festivals we have at the moment, festivals we will acquire, and festivals we will start ourselves in the coming years.”

Founded in 1998, Di & Gi’s Lucca Summer Festival is the veteran of the scene, its 2022 edition the 23rd to grace the Tuscan city – this year across 15 nights in the Piazza Napoleone and on a site beside the historic city walls.

“We registered 150,000 attendees in this edition, and we had John Legend, Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, Zucchero, and a few other major Italian artists,” says D’Alessandro. “You could really feel the joy of the audience at being able to come back.”

Di & Gi’s latest festival venture was the six-day La Prima Estate in Lido di Camaiore in the province of Lucca, which had its first edition in June with space for around 5,000 and a range of daytime activities – yoga on the beach, cooking classes, trekking in the hills – to further sweeten evening line-ups headlined by Duran Duran, The National, Anderson .Paak, and others.

“It’s a 360-degree experience,” says D’Alessandro. “We realise that a concert is not enough anymore for this audience, so let’s do it in a great location where they can spend the day on the beach or having a lot of different experiences. We have 1,000 km of coast, but I don’t recall an Italian festival right on the beach.”

Rock in Roma, which was launched by Maximiliano Bucci and Sergio Giuliani as Romarock in 2002 in tribute to Rock In Rio and Coachella, this year chalked up its 19th edition, with Massive Attack, Chemical Brothers, Rkomi, Blanco, and others playing through June and July, again in the headline show format.

Firenze Rocks, with Muse, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Green Day, and Metallica headlining across four days, leveraged Live Nation firepower in June, while I-Days did the same in Milan with Greta Van Fleet, Imagine Dragons, Rkomi, and Green Day once more.

Other Italian festivals include techno event Kappa FuturFestivalin Turin; drum and bass festival SUNANDBASS in Sardinia; Mi Ami in Milan; and indie event Ypsigrock in Castelbuono, Sicily.

Music Innovation Hub’s Linecheck, meanwhile, leads the line for industry conferences, taking place in Milan in November. “It’s the main conference in general,” says Storbeck. “We are happening within the great framework of Milan Music Week, so there’s stuff happening all over the city, more or less coordinated.”

“More than in the past, the national market is full of international artists… Italy is finally a global destination”

Venues
Valeria Arzenton of Zed Entertainment, the Padova-based venue operator and promoter whose ten buildings include the 2,500-cap Gran Teatro Geox, the 3,916-seat Kioene Arena, and 32,420-cap Stadio Euganeo in Padova and further venues in Brescia, Mantova, and Conegliano, found herself in the role of whistle-blower in 2019 when she gave anonymous testimony to an Italian TV show about abuse of a dominant position on the part of TicketOne.

The ensuing scandal was noisy and painful, but from Arzenton’s perspective it was ultimately worth- while, as the AGCM imposed on the market leader the obligation to open up to competing ticketing operators.

“In October, the final vote of the administrative justice will decide definitively the status of the trial,” she says. “In any case, from the first AGCM verdict, the market is irrevocably opened to other ticketing companies. In any case: goal achieved.”

Zed’s venues are carefully rising again after two full years of Covid, and Arzenton’s other projects include a musical based on the music of late Italian star Raffaella Carrà, which will debut in Spain in autumn 2023, but what Arzenton sees in Italy is an increasingly globalised market.

“More than in the past, the national market is full of international artists,” she says. “Also, promoters are more daring than ever with new venues, with festivals, with more dates. Festivals are becoming more familiar and more appreciated by the audience. Italy is finally a global destination.”

Evidently, other venue operators think so. Last year, Eventim announced plans to build a new multipurpose arena in Milan. Scheduled for completion in 2025, the 16,000-capacity MSG (Milano Santa Giulia) arena will be one of the largest in Italy and will also include an outdoor area of more than 10,000 square metres for open-air events.

The venue will compete with Oak View Group and Live Nation’s promised Santa Giulia Arena – which will, like the MSG, be used in the 2026 Winter Olympics – as well as the 12,700-seat Mediolanum Forum in Assago, near Milan, which has served the city since 1990 and is one of two Italian members of the European Arena Association (EAA).

Last year, ASM Global entered the Italian market for the first time when it secured the contract to operate the new 6,000-seat basketball arena in nearby Cantù, which is due to be completed in late 2023 and has potential concert applications.

Meanwhile, F&P’s Ferdinando Salzano is one of the movers behind the 100,000-capacity RCF Arena, the largest outdoor music venue in Europe, which opened in Reggio Emilia, near Bologna, just as Covid bit, but still sold out all tickets for its opening concert, featuring local superstar Luciano Ligabue. Harry Styles is booked in for July 2023.

 


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

IQ 114 out now: Di and Gi, Green Guardians, Stadiums

IQ 114, the latest issue of the international live music industry’s favourite magazine, is available to read online now.

The October edition sees writer Derek Robertson take the temperature of the global stadium circuit post-Covid for Pitch Perfect: Stadium Report 2022.

This issue also reveals the New Bosses 2022, as well as the Green Guardians Guide – a review of the latest and greatest innovations helping to green the industry.

IQ readers can also enjoy a double whammy of Italy-related content, with writer Adam Woods examining the state of the country’s live music industry for a market report on p56, and IQ news editor James Hanley ringing in Di & Gi’s 35th anniversary on p28.

Elsewhere, IQ reviews the eighth edition of the International Festival Forum (IFF), which saw a record 800 delegates from 40 countries flock to London last month.

For this edition’s columns and comments, Ticketmaster’s Sarah Slater talks about the record-breaking summer of events and outgoing AIF CEO Paul Reed on the past, present, and future of the festival sector.

As always, the majority of the magazine’s content will appear online in some form in the next four weeks.

However, if you can’t wait for your fix of essential live music industry features, opinion and analysis, click here to subscribe to IQ from just £6.25 a month – or check out what you’re missing out on with the limited preview below:

 

 


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

Italy’s Radar Concerti acquired by All Things Live

Nordic live entertainment company All Things Live has signalled its expansion into the Italian market with the acquisition of promoter and agency Radar Concerti.

Radar Concerti, which has offices in Milan and Rome was founded in 2014 by Giorgio Riccitelli, who brought ex-Live Nation Finland senior promoter Fabrizio Pompeo on board as a partner in 2018.

The company has worked with international artists such as Idles, BadBadNotGood, Central Cee, Future Islands, FKA Twigs, the Libertines, The xx, Masego, M83, Kamasis Washington, Saint Jhn and Slowthai.

“We are thrilled to announce that we are joining the All Things Live family to accelerate Radar Concerti’s development and build on the success that we have been enjoying in recent years,” says Pompeo. “We have had a great and fruitful dialogue with the All Things Live team and cannot wait to become part of the leading entertainment company in the Nordics and contribute to the realisation of the partnership’s international ambitions.”

“Radar Concerti has built a strong position in the Italian market”

Pompeo will continue in day-to-day management alongside Riccitelli

“Radar Concerti has built a strong position in the Italian market based on our experience in national and international musical entertainment, and we will continue to scout for the best talents within the indie scene and build a solid platform for All Things Live in the Italian market by leveraging our strong connections with agents, promoters, media partners and artists,” adds Riccitelli.

The move marks the latest step in the international expansion of the All Things Live Group (ATLG), which has just strengthened its roster with the signing of international management firm Then We Take The World.

“The Radar Concerti team and their solid platform and strong relations constitute a perfect steppingstone for our ambition to make a mark for All Things Live in the Italian market,” says ATLG executive board member Kim Worsøe. “We are pleased to welcome Radar Concerti and their artists, and we look forward to growing the business together with the talented owners and employees,”

 


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

Covid spike prompts calls to postpone Rome concert

Italian medics have called for Måneskin to postpone their concert at Rome’s Circus Maximus this weekend amid a spike in Covid cases in the region.

The rock band are due to perform a sold-out 70,000-cap homecoming show at the outdoor venue on Saturday (9 July) as part of the Rock in Roma series.

Italy lifted its State of Emergency in March but its coronavirus regulations were only fully lifted at the start of last month. However, with the Lazio region reporting 176,000 “currently positive” tests – said to be fuelled by the Omicron-5 sub-variant – doctors are appealing for the event to be pushed back until past the end of the current peak, which is estimated between 10-15 July, reports Wanted in Rome via La Repubblica.

“I find the Måneskin concert, at this moment, madness”

“The problem is obviously not Måneskin but any large gathering during the current surge of the virus,” Alberto Chiriatti, deputy regional secretary of Italy’s federation of general practioners (FIMMG). “There is no football right now but if there were a derby we would say the same thing.”

According to Reuters, Italy reported 132,374 Covid-19 cases yesterday (5 June), with the figures exceeding 100,000 for the first time since February.

“I find the Måneskin concert, at this moment, madness” adds doctor Marcello Pili.Pili. “We risk 20,000 positive cases in one blow alone.”

 


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