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Pokémon enlists Katy Perry for 25th anniversary

Pokémon, one of the most popular children’s entertainment franchises in the world, will celebrate its 25th anniversary with the help of Universal Music Group (UMG) artists including Katy Perry.

The franchise, which initially launched in Japan as Pocket Monsters before heading to North America and rebranding, produces video games and animation but is best known for its trading card game.

The classic game, in which players adopt the role of a Pokémon trainer and use those Pokémon to fight their opponents, has sold over 30 billion cards in 13 different languages and, in 2017, accounted for 82% of the trading card market in Europe.

“Expect new songs from a wide range of musicians, featuring rising artists and award-winning superstars like Katy Perry”

The company – founded by Nintendo, Game Freak, and Creatures – will mark a quarter-century with a ‘global music celebration’ dubbed P25 Music, which will feature new songs from ‘rising artists and award-winning superstars’.

“Of course, every party needs a great playlist, and to that end, we’re teaming up with UMG and some of the biggest names in music to create a global music celebration dubbed P25 Music,” reads a statement from Pokémon. “Expect new songs from a wide range of musicians, featuring rising artists and award-winning superstars like pop icon Katy Perry. More details, including additional performer surprises, will be announced throughout the year.”

“Pokémon has been a constant in my life from playing the original video games on my Game Boy, to trading Pokémon TCG cards at lunch, to the adventures of catching Pokémon on the street with Pokémon GO. I’ve even visited the Pokémon Café in Japan while on tour!” says Perry.

Perry’s collaboration with the franchise comes nearly a decade after her iconic appearance in The Sims 3, for which she recorded a garbled version of her hit ‘Last Friday Night’ in Simlish – a fictional language used by The Sims.


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India: State of Hindipendents

If there were an award for the greatest potential touring market, India would be on that stage, brandishing the trophy, year in, year out. With a population nudging 1.4 billion and projected to surpass that of China by 2022, India is about as vast as countries get. Nonetheless, when a big band comes to town, the comparative rarity of the event still makes global headlines.

U2’s show in December at Mumbai’s DY Patil Stadium, the very last stop on the fifth leg of The Joshua Tree Tour, wasn’t the first superstar show to come to India – far from it: The Stones played Mumbai and Bangalore in 2003, while Beyoncé and Shakira came in 2007, Metallica in 2011, Coldplay in 2016, and Ed Sheeran in 2015 and 2017, with other significant visitors in between.

But each major concert fires up the expectation that India’s biggest cities could soon become routine destinations for the world’s biggest artists. And U2’s show before a crowd of 42,590, staged by local ticketing giant BookMyShow in partnership with Live Nation, got the country dreaming once more.

“There were a lot of reservations from everybody coming into India,” says BookMyShow CEO and founder Ashish Hemrajani, who freely concedes that India has failed to meet international expectations for live shows in the past. “It was the first outing for U2 here; it was the first show of this scale and magnitude; it was the last show of the tour. There was a lot riding on it and everyone was on tenterhooks.”

BookMyShow has been scaling up its promoting exploits in recent years, bringing Cirque du Soleil, NBA pre-season games, an adapted Hindi Aladdin and the Coldplay-headlined Mumbai edition of the Global Citizen festival, but Hemrajani says U2 represented a new level and a new set of pressures.

“There were a lot of reservations from everybody coming into India”

“We have got a great team in India, but nothing prepares you for dealing with Arthur Fogel, with Jake Berry and the whole team,” he says. “But if you talk to the folks that we dealt with, they were very pleasantly surprised by the level of professionalism they found.”

More than anyone else in the Indian business, Hemrajani has both a vision and a platform to bring about a revolution in the nation’s live entertainment offering. BookMyShow sells between 35% and 50% of all cinema tickets in a cinema-mad nation (“we are a hot, dusty country, which is an assault on all your senses, and cinema is the cheapest, most comfortable form of indoor entertainment,” he explains), and played a part in the massive success of the Indian Premier League (IPL) of cricket. If Hemrajani judges that India is ripe for some concert-going, the chances are he knows what he is talking about.

The same feeling has recently been in the air across the country. The preceding month, also at DY Patil Stadium, Katy Perry and Dua Lipa inaugurated the OnePlus Music Festival, along with local acts Amit Trivedi, Ritviz, as we keep searching and The Local Train. Both of the top-billers were new to the market, and again, the show was an unconventional labour of love, this time organised by the local operation of Chinese smartphone brand OnePlus, which rivals Samsung and Apple in India.

As OnePlus India general manager Vikas Agarwal told India’s The Telegraph newspaper: “[We were] not looking to organise everything by ourselves, but the country [was] not yet ready to organise such a large-scale event. [So] starting from the artist selection to the whole conceptualisation of the event, logistics – everything was done for the first time by the brand. I hope more such events will be organised in India.”

And then, of course, came Covid-19, to which we will inevitably return in a minute.

“The folks that we dealt with were very pleasantly surprised by the level of professionalism they found”

Still a mostly rural nation of numerous languages and cultures, heavily regionalised laws and huge inequality, India has always had more pressing priorities than slotting conveniently into a Western live music model. All the same, its entertainment market is highly evolved. The homegrown cinema industry enjoys a sophisticated, mostly mobile ticketing infrastructure, spearheaded by BookMyShow, with strong competition lately from Alibaba-backed Paytm. Both have diverse businesses and are busy across many sectors, including cricket, theatre, food and mobile payments.

Online ticketing was reckoned to be worth $330 million in 2017, according to Indian management consultant RedSeer, whose prediction of $580m in revenues this year has sadly been scuppered by recent events. In the past, the lion’s share of online ticket sales (55%), was for movies, with sport on 25% and events taking the remaining 20%, though both the latter categories are growing.

EDM, in particular, has found a booming home in India, where there is a large network of clubs and established festivals, from OML’s multi-city Bacardi NH7 Weekender to the monster Sunburn in Pune.

“The electronic music scene in the country has developed into its own industry and it’s spread to wider parts of the country,” says Dev Bhatia of dance music management and booking agency UnMute. “Having said that, I still feel we’re barely scratching the surface. Considering India will [soon] have five to six hundred million people under the age of 35 with cell phones and accessibility, the potential is endless.”

That potential is currently on pause. At the time of writing, India was attempting to relax its notably strict lockdown conditions even as it faced a record spike in Covid-19 infections. In a country where many millions of informal  workers live on a daily wage, the economy can’t stand idle for long.


Continue reading this feature in the digital edition of IQ 90, or subscribe to the magazine here

The New Bosses 2019: Melanie Eselevsky, Move Concerts

The New Bosses 2019 – the biggest-ever edition of IQ‘s yearly roundup of future live industry leaders, as voted for by their peers – was published in IQ 85 last month revealing the twelve promising agents, promoters, bookers and execs that make up this year’s list.

To get to know this year’s cream of the crop a little better, IQ conducted interviews with each one of 2019’s New Bosses, to discover their greatest inspirations and proudest achievements, pinpoint the reasons for their success and obtain advice for those hoping to be a future New Boss. Snippets of the interviews can be found in the latest IQ Magazine, with all interviews being reproduced in full online and on IQ Index over the coming weeks.

New Boss number eight is Melanie Eselevsky, a talent booker at Argentina’s Move Concerts. The youngest New Boss of 2019, 24-year-old Eselevsky divides her time between studying law at the University of Buenos Aires and working for Move Concerts Argentina.

After starting out producing not-for-profit musical shows – in 2016 Eselevsky, with her friends, purchased the stage rights for Hereafter Musical, which they produced in a 500-capacity theatre for two seasons – she joined Move Concerts, initially as a production assistant, in early 2017. (Read the previous interview with Primary Talent’s Matt Pickering-Copley here.)


What are you busy with right now?
On the one hand, I am already working on 2020’s agenda. It’s a tough time because it is a presidential election year in Argentina and the exchange rate varies every minute because everything is unpredictable. On the other hand, Move Argentina has more than 20 shows for the third and fourth quarters of this year. I define myself as a “control freak” and I like to keep an eye on everything that is going on with each show. In our part of the world, we look after visas, hotels, production, ground transportation, etc. as well as everything else, therefore, there’s a lot on our plates.

Did you always want to work in the music business?
I’ve been attending concerts and other live events ever since I was a child and I had no idea that these kinds of jobs existed. I remember going to school with the daughters of a Sony Music executive, and thinking their life was so cool because they got to meet Shakira. I only found out later that there was the opportunity to really get involved through being in a concert promotion company.

What are some of the highlights of your career so far?
The past three years have been really interesting from a business point of view for me. I’ve had the opportunity to work with some great artists – Ed Sheeran, Shawn Mendes, Katy Perry, Green Day, Radiohead and Iron Maiden, to name a few.

That said, one of the show confirmations I enjoyed the most was Patti Smith a few months ago. I read she was playing São Paulo and I immediately asked if we could submit an offer because I believed in the show and such an iconic artist. The day of the on-sale all I could do was keep refreshing the sales report again and again. Now we are close to sell-out and I’m ecstatic that my gut feeling was right and I have gained a lot of confidence. I can’t wait until the show.

“I define myself as a “control freak” and I like to keep an eye on everything that is going on with each show”

How has your role changed since you started out?
I started at Move Concerts with a three-month probation period as a production assistant. I was supposed to handle administrative issues like organising vendor budgets and invoices. I remember one of my first work meetings where I was supposed to present all the budgets and just before I got in I had to google the word “forklift”!

During my first year, I was asked to help in a lot of different areas. This gave me a wider perspective of business, from visas, ticketing and merch to show settlements. I never thought I would end up in talent booking. Actually, when [Move Concerts Argentina MD] Sebastian Carlomagno first asked me to do this job at the beginning of 2017, I thought it was crazy. It took me almost a year to feel comfortable, but everyone has been truly supportive. [Move Concerts CEO] Phil Rodriguez and [lead promoter of Move LatAm] Fabiano de Queiroz were crucial in this process.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt while at Move?
To stop for a minute and think. This business is way too dynamic. We need to be ready to make tough decisions all the time. That’s why it is important to be able to put yourself on hold for just 60 seconds in order to see everything more clearly.

What, if anything, would you change about how the live industry is run today?
I consider myself really lucky because, above all, Move Concerts encourages trust and teamwork. Everyone has a lot of experience, but at the same time they are open to new ideas. The industry would be healthier if other companies worked on this same way.

What do you do for fun?
I would produce independent musical theatre shows with my friends. That’s what my background is in and I really love theatre.

“It is important to be able to put yourself on hold for just 60 seconds in order to see everything more clearly”

Do you have an industry mentor?
Everyone at Move Concerts has “mentored” me in certain way. I have developed the habit of discussing projects with the different departments – ticketing, marketing, logistics, administration – and offices across seven countries. These discussions enrich every single minute.

Betina Canalis has been a role model ever since I started working at Move. She taught me a lot about how to place an offer and how to “feel” the market. I call her every time I need advice.

What advice would you give to anyone who wants to get into, or is new to, the business?
When people ask me what my job is about, my answer is “getting what needs to be done, done”. So, be a “doer”. If you are really willing to do this, there are no ifs, buts or complaints. If you are not sure about it, it is probably not for you. Also, don’t be afraid to speak up. It may sound cliché, but if you don’t share your ideas, you don’t get anywhere. And finally – don’t forget to have fun. Working in entertainment is a privilege.

Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?
Nowhere far from backstage. The adrenaline of live is something beyond description.


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Grande, Bieber, Coldplay for LN Manchester benefit

Ariana Grande will return to Manchester this Sunday (4 June), headlining a star-studded benefit in aid of the families of the victims of last Monday’s bombing.

One Love Manchester, underwritten by Live Nation and produced by Festival Republic in association with SJM Concerts, will take place at the Emirates Old Trafford Cricket Ground (50,000-cap.) and feature performances by Grande, Justin Bieber, Coldplay, Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Pharrell Williams, Usher, Take That and 1D’s Niall Horan.

Tickets will go on sale through Ticketmaster at 10am on Thursday 1 June, while those who attended Grande’s tragic show at Manchester Arena on 22 May can register to attend for free.

All net proceeds for the show, which will be broadcast on BBC TV and radio and Capital radio, will be donated to the We Love Manchester Emergency Fund.

“We will not quit or operate in fear. We won’t let this divide us”

In an open letter to fans, Grande (pictured) – who postponed her Dangerous Woman tour in the wake of the Manchester Arena attack – says: “My heart, prayers and condolences are with the victims of the Manchester Attack and their loved ones. There is nothing I or anyone can do to take away the pain you are feeling or to make this better. However, I extend my hand and heart and everything I possibly can give to you and yours, should you want or need my help in any way.

“We will not quit or operate in fear. We won’t let this divide us. We won’t let hate win… Our response to this violence must be to come closer together, to help each other, to love more, to sing louder and to live more kindly and generously than we did before.

“Music is meant to heal us, to bring us together, to make us happy. So that is what it will continue to do for us. We will continue to honour the ones we lost, their loved ones, my fans and all affected by this tragedy. They will be on my mind and in my heart every day, and I will think of them with everything I do for the rest of my life.”


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Grammys 2017 live performers see 207% sales bump

Live performances at Sunday’s 59th Grammy Awards generated an instant sales bump, with a 207% increase in downloads of the songs performed on the day of the show, according to initial analysis by Nielsen.

According to the market measurement firm, the songs shown in CBS’s 12 February broadcast sold more than 178,000 downloads that day, compared to 58,000 on 11 February.

“This immediate and impressive reaction proves the unparalleled power of the Grammy Awards to reach a wide audience and engage fans,” David Bakula, senior vice-president of global product leadership and industry insights at Nielsen Music, tells Billboard.

Beyoncé’s ‘Love Drought’ and ‘Sandcastles’, both performed at the Grammys saw the biggest sales bumps – 1,217% and 958%, respectively – with Adele’s ‘Hello’, which opened the awards, recording a 255% increase, selling 6,000 downloads on 12 February vs fewer than 2,000 on Saturday.

“This immediate and impressive reaction proves the unparalleled power of the Grammy Awards to reach a wide audience”

Other big winners included Katy’s Perry’s new single, ‘Chained to the Rhythm’, which rose 128% to 24,000; The Weeknd’s ‘I Feel it Coming’, which jumped 154% to 15,000; Keith Urban’s ‘The Fighter’, which increased 896% to 12,000; Bruno Mars’s ‘That’s What I Like’, which increased 354% to 23,000; and Maren Morris’s ‘Once’, performed with Alicia Keys at the Grammys, which saw a massive 7,430% increase to 6,000 downloads.

Awards-wise, Sunday’s biggest winners included Adele, who swept the major categories over rival Beyoncé; David Bowie, who posthumously won every award for which he was nominated; and Chance the Rapper, who won best new artist and won plaudits for his gospel-influenced performances.

A full list of winners can be viewed on The Recording Academy website, while Billboard has all the performances (ranked by senior editor Joe Lynch from “worst to best”).


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