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Touring powerhouses bow out

In a string of announcements, two of the biggest names in global touring, along with several other veterans of the live scene, have revealed they are to quit touring.

Legendary crooner Neil Diamond – one of the best-selling artists in music history, and still a major live draw, placing no20 on Pollstar’s end-of-year top 100 in 2015, the year of his previous concert tour – announced his retirement on Tuesday after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

Commenting after the cancellation of a string of his 50th Anniversary tour dates in Australia and New Zealand, Diamond said: “My thanks goes out to my loyal and devoted audiences around the world. You will always have my appreciation for your support and encouragement.”

Alluding to his song ‘Sweet Caroline’, he added: “This ride has been ‘so good, so good, so good’, thanks to you.”

Diamond was followed yesterday by 70-year-old Sir Elton John, who announced at a press conference in New York that 2018–2021’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour, promoted by AEG Presents, would be his last.

“I’m very much looking forward to closing off that chapter of my life”

“I’ve had an amazing life, amazing career,” he said. “My priorities now are my children, my husband and my family and I’ve been touring since I was 17 with various bands, then as Elton John in 1969, and I thought the time was right to say thank you to all my friends around the world globally and then to say goodbye and just to have a breather.”

“After the tour finishes, I’m very much looking forward to closing off that chapter of my life by saying farewell to life on the road,” he added. “I need to dedicate more time to raising my children.”

The tour kicks off in Allentown, Pennsylvania, on 8 September, and will consist of 300 shows across five continents, visiting North America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia, South America and Australasia.

Also bowing out are metal pioneers Slayer, who after 37 years are calling a day with a global farewell tour, and Spanish singer-songwriter legend Joaquín Sabina – while Canadian prog-rock heroes Rush have confirmed they quit touring in 2016 and have no plans to return to the road.

“It’s been a little over two years since Rush last toured,” guitarist Alex Lifeson explains to the Globe and Mail. “We have no plans to tour or record any more. We’re basically done. After 41 years, we felt it was enough.”


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Spanish market up 14.7%—but still below 2010 high

The value of the Spanish live music industry increased 14.7% year on year in 2016 – a third consecutive year of growth, and the best 12 months for the business in six years.

Bolstered by tours by Bruce Springsteen, Manuel Carrasco and Coldplay, revenues from live performance topped €223 million – up from €194.6m in 2015 – although that figure still falls short of the €260m recorded in 2010, before the increase in VAT on shows to 21%.

The Association of Music Promoters (APM), whose recently published Live Music Yearbook VIII documents the statistics, says the 21% rate of cultural-sector VAT remains the biggest obstacle to further growth, as, “despite promises [to cut VAT] by the ruling party, it continues to hurt the live industry on a day-to-day basis”.

“Despite promises to cut VAT, it continues to hurt the live industry on a day-to-day basis”

Despite the positive figures, APM also warns of relying too much on major international tours, citing “meagre margins” for smaller, independent promoters, and says government action is needed on secondary ticketing, which has been “particular harmful on these tours [Springsteen and Coldplay], as well as on those scheduled for 2017 by Bruno Mars and Joaquín Sabina”.

APM, which represents more than 80% of Spain’s concert promoters, recently appointed Producciones Animadas director Albert Salmerón as its new president.

The eighth Live Music Yearbook (Anuario de la Música en Vivo), can be purchased for €8 from Jot Down.


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Viagogo hit by multiple speculative selling suits

Viagogo just can’t catch a break.

The secretive, Geneva-headquartered secondary ticketing colossus is facing its second lawsuit of 2017 following a furore over the speculative selling of tickets for a postponed show by Joaquín Sabina in A Coruña (Corunna), Spain, next July.

In a joint statement, the promoters of Sabina’s Lo niego todo (I deny everything) tour, TheProject, Get In and Riff Producciones, and his management company, Berry Producciones, say they are “outraged” and intend to bring legal action action against Viagogo for the fraudulent listing of “tickets that do not exist”.

A spokesperson tells IQ the parties’ lawyers are currently in the process of filing the action.

The lawsuit mirrors one filed by SIAE in late January, in which the Italian collection society alleges Viagogo listed tickets for a Vasco Rossi show in Modena before they went on sale on the primary market.

It also found itself in hot water with European football’s governing body, Uefa, last year for allegedly facilitating the illegal resale of tickets for the Euro 2016 tournament in France. (This was, in fact, doubly illegal, as the resale of tickets without permission is prohibited under French law; Viagogo is believed to owe promoters’ association Prodiss hundreds of thousands of Euros in fines.)

“Viagogo is offering secondary tickets for this concert, confusing the public with false advertisements … of tickets that do not exist”

In contrast to chief rivals StubHub and Ticketmaster (Get Me In!, Seatwave), publicity-shy Viagogo is reluctant to field enquiries about its business practices, although it will be compelled to appear before British MPs later this year as part of a wide-ranging inquiry into “ticket abuse”. It is currently also being investigated by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority and tax agency HMRC.

The latest lawsuit by Berry Producciones et al. is backed by Spanish promoters’ association APM, the Citizens political party and popular singer Alejandro Sanz, who yesterday announced the launch of the Anti-Resale Alliance (Alianza Anti-reventa) to push for legislation to curb online touting in Spain.

The alianza calls for, “in an urgent and effective manner, the introduction of effective legislation for the digital age to prohibit the speculative sale of tickets and protect consumers, as already exists in countries such as the United Kingdom, Italy and France”.

Ticket touting in person is illegal in Spain, but there is no legislation specifically targeted at online resale. A proposal introduced by Citizens to the Congress of Deputies says this “legal vacuum” has led to “the most affordable tickets being sold out in a few hours and reappearing on the secondary market with the price increased considerably, preventing the most economically vulnerable from attending the event”.


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