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John Empson joins UK promoter Senbla

London-based promoter Senbla has hired John Empson, known for promoting Eden Sessions, Wilderness and last year’s Legitimate Peaky Blinders Festival, to lead the company’s growing experiential events business.

Empson – who was instrumental in setting up Eden Sessions (now run by AEG Presents) in 2001, and later programmed Wilderness, Citadel and Somersault festivals for Mama Group – will also support Senbla CEO Ollie Rosenblatt in “maximising potential across all verticals”, according to the company.

“The experiential side is clearly a huge growth area, marrying music and IP, entertainment and interaction,” comments Rosenblatt on the appointment. “We see huge potential, as do our partners at Sony Music Masterworks, with the exploitation of IP.”

“I have known John for quite some time now,” he adds. “One conversation led to another and we found a great common ground and an area that could really be developed.”

The Empson-created Legitimate Peaky Blinders festival, based on the hit BBC TV series of the same name, will also return for a second outing next year under the Senbla umbrella.

“I couldn’t be more excited to join Senbla,” says John Empson. “Their ambition, creativity and enthusiasm is unmatched in this industry.

“With the backing of Sony, we’re working together on ground-breaking new live formats, developing a major experiential arm and presenting a raft of original immersive events and festivals. There’s more to come.”

“We’re working together on ground-breaking new live formats, developing a major experiential arm”

The appointment of Empson follows Senbla’s recent acquisition of two festivals, Strawberries and Creem and The Cambridge Club, and news it will be bringing performances by Michael Bublé and Olly Murs to new outdoor venues, including the 15,000-capacity Royal Crescent Bath and 15,000-cap. Chewton Glen in Hampshire, in 2021.

In other company news, 2021 will also see Senbla enter the US market through a strategic alliance with artist manager Jonathan Shank’s Terrapin Entertainment, which was last month acquired by Senbla parent company Sony Masterworks. The alliance will see Terrapin and Senbla develop and produce IP-driven live entertainment productions.

Rosenblatt was also instrumental in the recently announced Sony Music Masterworks 50% acquisition of Seaview Productions, the Broadway producer, which will collaborate with Senbla on specific projects.

“Although clearly 2020 has thrown up enormous challenges, what is clear is that this has given everyone a moment to reflect,” Rosenblatt continues. “The Senbla family has always been one of diverse productions, creative ideas and a huge appetite to grow. To develop and expand you have to be slightly uncomfortable. Therefore, more than ever, we have to be inventive, broad and bold, pushing beyond what we consider to be the norm. The audience expects more from a live experience.

“Next year also sees our new venues come into play: the Royal Crescent is set to become one of the crown jewels in the touring circuit, particularly for international artists, with its absolutely exquisite and quintessentially English backdrop, as does Chewton Glen in the most stunning of settings next to the New Forest. Our foray into the US with Jonathan Shank is very special;  he is someone I have known and admired for a number of years. The prospect of working together in a more cohesive way has always been something that has excited me, so I am truly delighted we made this happen and for us to now formally be in business together.”


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