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IQ 106 out now: Navigating the new industry landscape

IQ 106, the latest issue of the international live music industry’s favourite monthly magazine, is available to read online now.

The December 2021 edition is spearheaded by an exclusive preview of next year’s highly anticipated International Live Music Conference (ILMC).

Elsewhere, IQ news editor James Hanley speaks to Paradigm Agency’s Alex Hardee and Adele Slater about Liam Gallagher’s sold-out Knebworth shows.

This issue also sees IQ editor Gordon Masson quiz venue management from around the world about their plans for arenas to reopen and stay open.

For this edition’s columns and comments, Suzanne Hunt details how Squeeze became one of the first UK acts to resume touring in the United States, lawyer Gregor Pryor notes the challenges that the metaverse could pose for the music industry, and Debbie Taylor shares her experience of Guns N’ Roses’ Covid-compliant US tour.

And, in this month’s Your Shout, live industry executives pick their three ideal guests for a dinner party.

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 for just £5.99 a month – or check out what you’re missing out on with the limited preview below:

IQ subscribers can log in and read the full magazine now.


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Paradigm on Liam Gallagher’s Knebworth return

Paradigm agents Alex Hardee and Adele Slater have given IQ the lowdown on Liam Gallagher’s momentous return to the UK’s Knebworth Park.

The former Oasis frontman will play two sold-out nights at the Stevenage site from 3-4 June next year, promoted by Festival Republic, Live Nation and SJM Concerts.

The concerts, which feature a support bill headed by Kasabian, were announced on the back of a new documentary marking 25 years since Oasis’ era-defining gigs at the legendary rock venue.

“I think that the idea might have been [Live Nation UK & Ireland chair] Denis Desmond’s, but we’re going to claim it as ours,” laughs Hardee. “It’s a good idea, but an obvious one.”

“With the timing of the anniversary of the film, it kind of just made sense,” adds Slater, who attended the original 1996 event.

However, Hardee reveals that demand for tickets for the 2022 sequel exceeded even his own lofty expectations.

At the outset, we thought the second show was an outside chance

“We knew it would capture the imagination and it would be a hot event, but it took us by surprise that we could do two [nights],” he tells IQ. “We always knew we’d do one, and we had a second day on hold. At the outset, we thought that the second show was an outside chance. But definitely by the announcement date – and the reaction online – we got ready, very quickly, to go for the second show.

“Selling these gigs is all about the timing, and we knew that the right time to announce these shows was before everyone else went up with their shows and also after the documentary had just landed. That got everyone excited and then we announced Knebworth – that was the skill in getting that show sold out.”

While Oasis famously sold 250,000 tickets across their two 1996 shows, each of Gallagher’s solo dates will be capped at 80,000 for logistical reasons.

“The road network around Knebworth is literally tiny little country roads, so to get another 45,000 people in would be a nightmare,” advises Slater. 

“Even though, in hindsight, people say [the original] was the greatest gig they’ve ever been to, there were massive queues for toilets and it’s a hard site to get into,” explains Hardee. “Also, we’re very mindful now that 25 years ago, you didn’t have social media. If you don’t get things right nowadays, it’s everywhere straightaway. So we’re mindful that we want to give a good customer experience. Twenty-five years ago, different things were acceptable.”

Gallagher, who played a “life-affirming” show for NHS workers at The O2 in London in August, performed a run of UK headline dates over the summer at festivals including Reading & Leeds, TRNSMT and Isle of Wight.

It was a massive statement and it resonated throughout the industry

Boosted by the Knebworth sellouts, the singer went on to announce his inaugural stadium solo headline shows at Manchester’s Etihad Stadium (1 June) and Hampden Park in Glasgow (26 June). He will also perform at Belsonic in Belfast’s Ormeau Park on 24 June.

“We didn’t want to dilute the announcement of Knebworth, we wanted to blow that out and then launch the other stadiums off the back of that,” says Hardee. “The other stadiums are going to sell out, but we wanted the statement of selling out two Knebworths [first]. It was a massive statement and it resonated throughout the industry. 

“We did a mechanism afterwards so that people in Manchester and Glasgow could change their tickets around if they wanted to and there was a bit of uptake on that. Not much, though, because I think most people wanted to go to Knebworth.”

Hardee and Slater have represented Gallagher on the live scene since his 2017 comeback, which was capped by headline outdoor concerts at London’s Finsbury Park (cap. 40,000) and Emirates Old Trafford (50,000) the following year. The frontman has appearances confirmed for Rock in Rio Lisbon, Syd For Solen in Denmark and France’s Beauregard Festival next summer and is making waves internationally.

“In some markets now, he’s bigger than Oasis were,” suggests Hardee. “He’s gone from club level to arena level now in most markets, and from headliner at secondary festivals to second on the bill at major festivals. And it’s growing – Knebworth’s had an effect.

“We don’t actually know what we can do bigger than two Knebworths next, apart from reforming Oasis. That’s the brain-teaser, but we can build his international career.”

A full interview with Alex Hardee and Adele Slater will appear in the next edition of IQ magazine at the end of this month. Click here to subscribe to IQ for just £5.99 a month.


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SJM’s Chris York awarded for ‘outstanding contribution’

SJM Concerts’ Chris York has been presented with the National Arenas Association’s 2021 award for ‘Outstanding Contribution to the Live Entertainment Industry’.

York was presented the award by the NAA and Liam Gallagher at the artist’s show for NHS workers, which took place at the O2 in London last month.

The award was given to York in recognition of his influential work in the music industry, and longstanding relationship with Liam Gallagher, as well as many other chart-topping artists.

John Drury, VP & general manager at The SSE Arena Wembley, on behalf of the NAA says: “It’s fitting that Chris York should be given his NAA Award by Liam, one of the UK’s biggest artists. The 2021 award honours Chris for the huge contribution he’s made to live music in the NAA arenas.

“His passion and commitment to the industry have always been reflected in the very high regard in which he’s held by everyone he works with – it’s an honour to recognise that now.”

“His passion and commitment to the industry have always been reflected in the very high regard in which he’s held by everyone”

Chris York, SJM Concerts added: “I was genuinely touched to receive the NAA award in recognition of the decades of toil in live music, with the great team of SJM Concerts behind me. It means a lot. It’s a great business and one I hope to see bounce back strongly again. Thank you for thinking of me.”

York has worked with the likes of Noel Gallagher, Foo Fighters, Massive Attack, Stereophonics, Lily Allen, Smashing Pumpkins, Underworld, Fatboy Slim, Green Day, Placebo, Lorde, Robert Plant, Morrissey, Kraftwerk, Swedish House Mafia, and The Chemical Brothers, among others.

He is also one of SJM’s four directors alongside Moran, Rob Ballantine and Glenn Tyrrell.

The National Arenas Association (NAA) brings together 23 arenas across the UK and Ireland.


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The O2 Arena celebrates a week of firsts

The O2 Arena in London witnessed a week of firsts, as Hans Zimmer, the Lumineers, Liam Gallagher and the Chemical Brothers all made their debut headline appearances at the venue.

All artists received First Time awards, starting with Hans Zimmer, who performed as part of his The World of Hans Zimmer – A Symphonic Celebration world tour on Tuesday 26 November.

American folk band the Lumineers brought their III tour to the arena the night after, followed by Liam Gallagher, who played a two-night run on 28 and 29 November as part of his Why Me? Why Not? tour.

The Chemical Brothers closed out the week of O2 debuts on 30 November with their No Geography Tour.

“We feel honoured and lucky to host such an array of artists at the venue”

“It’s been an incredible week of shows at the O2 including four artists who have performed at the venue for the very first time,” says Christian D’Acuna, head of programming at the arena.

“We feel honoured and lucky to host such an array of artists at the venue; from the legendary film scores composed by Hans Zimmer, and the Lumineers bringing their country-folk, to rock-and-roll star Liam Gallagher delighting fans with two ‘biblical’ sold out shows, and ending the week of first-time shows with Chemical Brothers’ incredible live show full of lasers and mesmerising visuals.”

The O2, which has sold over 25 million tickets since 2007, announced more upcoming debuts for 2020 and 2021, from Camilla Cabello, Our Planet and Hollywood Vampires at the arena.

Pictured (l to r): Dieter Semmelmann (CEO, Semmel Concerts), Stuart Galbraith (CEO, Kilimanjaro Live), Hans Zimmer, Steve Kofsky (CEO, RCI Global) and Marc Saunders (programming manager, the O2)


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A&MAs: Debbie Gwyther named manager of the year

The Music Managers Forum (MMF) and Featured Artists Coalition (FAC) have announced final details of the 2019 Artist & Manager Awards (A&MAs), with Debbie Gwyther (FEAR) named manager of the year and Lewis Capaldi to receive artist of the year.

Hosted by BBC Radio 1’s Huw Stephens, the A&MAs 2019 take place at London’s Bloomsbury Big Top on Thursday 14 November.

Alongside UROK’s Sam and Roy Eldridge, who will present her award, Gwyther has masterminded the return of Liam Gallagher to centre stage, having delivered two No 1 albums, with Why Me? Why Not following As You Were to the UK’s top spot in September 2019.

Gwyther and the Eldridges have also guided Gallagher to live success, reinvigorating Oasis classics alongside his newer material for a run of celebratory sold-out performances in Europe, the Americas and Australasia. The award for Manager of the Year is sponsored by YouTube Music.

Annabella Coldrick, CEO of the MMF, comments: “Selecting a manager of the year is always a massive challenge, but Debbie’s impact over the past 12 months has been undeniable.

“Debbie’s impact over the past 12 months has been undeniable”

“We all know that Liam Gallagher is one of the UK’s greatest, most enduring and recognisable rock stars, but behind the scenes is a story of incredible team work and collaboration – all with the goal of putting Liam back where he belongs.

“MMF are delighted to recognise Debbie’s success and thrilled that Sam and Roy have agreed to present the award. Why her? Why not!”

The rise of Lewis Capaldi, meanwhile, has been “the irrefutable story of 2019”, say A&MAs organisers. In just 12 months, the singer-songwriter has graduated from theatres to sold-out arenas shows, and released a number-one album, Divinely Uninspired to a Hellish Extent.

As previously announced, other confirmed winners at the 2019 Artist & Manager Awards are Nile Rodgers (artists’ artist award), Rebecca Boulton and Andy Robinson (managers’ manager award), Neneh Cherry (pioneer award), Sam Fender and Owain Davies (FanFair Alliance outstanding contribution to live music), Andy Varley (entrepreneur award) and Sandy Dworniak (writer/producer manager).


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Record attendance for Ukraine’s Atlas Weekend

The fifth edition of Kiev-based Atlas Weekend festival saw more visitors than ever before, with 538,000 festivalgoers from 75 different countries attending the six-day festival.

The festival, which took place from 9 to 14 July, featured performances from the Chainsmokers, Black Eyed Peas, the Vaccines, Liam Gallagher and Russian rock group Splean.

“We are really happy with how the 2019 edition went,” Atlas Weekend owner and chief executive Dmytro Sydorenko tells IQ. “It was our best festival yet.”

159,710 people attended the free-to-enter opening day of the festival, breaking the event’s daily attendance record.

“The point of the first day is to showcase Ukrainian music to the widest audience possible,” explains Sydorenko, stating that the number of attendees also marked a new daily attendance record for festival venue Ukrainian Expo Centre, “in all 61 years of its existence”.

“One of our main goals is to develop music tourism in Ukraine and also make the festival more prominent in markets outside of our country,” says Sydorenko. “We work closely with government departments to ease planning for foreign visitors – both artists and fans – and make sure they have the best time possible during their stay in Kiev.”

Over 250 acts from 20 different countries made up the festival’s most international line-up yet, with 30 acts performing in Ukraine for the first time.

“One of our main goals is to make the festival more prominent in markets outside of Ukraine”

Asap Rocky, who was billed to headline Atlas Weekend’s Saturday night, was detained in Sweden for suspected assault shortly before the event, leading to the cancellation of remaining tour dates.

The absence of the headliner was much talked about on social media and in the Ukrainian press, says the Atlas chief executive, admitting that “there was a lot of tension involved”.

“We have never had to deal with a headliner replacement before, especially not one that urgent,” Sydorenko tells IQ, “but we are happy that we managed to find a suitable replacement both for Asap Rocky’s fans and our festivalgoers.”

Fellow Asap Mob member Asap Ferg filled the headline slot, in a performance that “almost didn’t happen due to flight delays”.

A key goal for the 2019 festival was to be “as inclusive and accessible as possible.” Through its Mastercard Vibes initiative, festival sponsor Mastercard provided sign language interpretation at the main stage, as well as setting up a lounge area with visual and tactile installations.

“We believe in inclusivity and take pride in our efforts to make our festival a place for everyone to have a good time and enjoy music,” says Sydorenko.

The festival was held in partnership with Music Conference Ukraine, which was organised by the country’s music export office.


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Rize announced for Hylands Park…but no event in Staffs

SJM Concerts today announced dates and the first acts for Rize Festival, the event replacing V Festival at Hylands Park in Chelmsford.

Taking place on Friday 17 and Saturday 18 August 2018, rather than V’s traditional Saturday and Sunday, the festival will be headlined by Liam Gallagher and Stereophonics. Other performers include James Bay, Manic Street Preachers, Bastille, Maximo Park, Rag’n’Bone Man, Rita Ora, Circa Waves and Craig David’s TS5, with bookers focusing on an “exciting mix of the very best music from classic indie, pop, urban, dance and new upcoming talent across four stages”.

Richard Branson’s Virgin Group announced in October it was pulling its sponsorship of V, ending a 22-year commercial relationship and bringing to a close the festival in its former guise. While the Chelmsford leg now has a replacement in the form of Rize, no event has been announced for Weston Park in Staffordshire, which formerly hosted a sister festival on the same weekend.

A representative for Rize Festival confirms to IQ that Roseclaim – the company behind V Festival, whose directors include Live Nation’s Paul Latham, Metropolis’s Bob Angus, SJM Concerts’ Simon Moran and MCD Productions’ Denis Desmond – will “not be promoting a new event at Weston Park in 2018”.

“We are very excited about working with Roseclaim on a future project here on the estate in 2019”

Colin Sweeney, CEO of the Weston Park Foundation, which manages the park, says: “We have been enormously proud to have been home to the former V Festival over the last 19 years. The significant contribution that hosting the event has made to the charitable objectives of the Weston Park Foundation and the wider regional economy cannot be underestimated.”

Sweeney adds, however, there will likely be another Live Nation/Metropolis/SJM/MCD festival in the park next year, saying: “We are very excited about working with Roseclaim on a future project here on the estate in 2019.”

Liam Gallagher’s upcoming headline show in Finsbury Park, promoted by Live Nation’s Festival Republic, is billed as being presented by “Rize”, indicating the promoter has plans for the brand outside the annual festival.

A full line-up is below:

Rize Festival 2018


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Festival Republic announces Gallagher Finsbury Park show

Liam Gallagher will bring his As You Were tour to London’s Finsbury Park next June for a two-stage, multi-artist day of music, promoter Festival Republic has announced.

Gallagher, who is touring in support of his no1 debut solo album, will be supported on 29 June by “many more artists” still to be announced for his biggest headline show to date.

The news was announced on RadioX, the show’s radio partner, this afternoon, with Gallagher (pictured) telling DJ Johnny Vaughan he’s “currently in rehearsals,  blowing the cobwebs off some stone-cold classics.” Festival Republic says the event is “guaranteed to be the stand-out rock show of the summer”.

Festival Republic currently promotes two festivals, Wireless and Community Festival, in the 110-acre park in Harringay, north London.

The news follows a similar major announcement by rival Goldenvoice, which is launching a new festival in Victoria Park, east London, this morning. Both events go on sale at 9am this Friday (27 October).

The Liam Gallagher show is priced at £52.50 plus booking fee for GA, and £85 plus booking fee for VIP tickets, with tickets available from www.festivalrepublic.com/liamgallagher.


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20% increase in delegates at 12th Reeperbahn Festival

The number of delegates at Reeperbahn Festival 2017 increased almost 20% year on year, from 3,700 to 4,400, organisers have announced, following another successful year for the German conference and showcase festival.

The total number of guests, both industry and consumer, topped 40,000 – a new record – with attendees from 57 nations making the pilgrimage to Hamburg on 20–23 September.

The music programme comprised more than 600 concerts by 420 artist/bands, including the German solo debut for former Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher and a show by ex-Gossip singer Beth Ditto.

“We have experienced a Reeperbahn Festival of the highest quality,” says Alexander Schulz, the event’s director and founder, “offering a programme of an unprecedented level in terms of concerts as well as film, art and the conference.

“We have experienced a Reeperbahn Festival of the highest quality”

“I do not only refer to the increased number of options for all sectors to do international business. We have also experienced the strongest Reeperbahn Festival in terms of social policy. The goal we set ourselves yesterday, to close the gender gap at our own event by 2022, is only one example.”

The focus country for Reeperbahn 2017 was Canada, with France set to follow in 2018. Marc Thonon, CEO of French Music Export, comments:  “In 2006, at the very first edition of Reeperbahn Festival, Le Bureau Export was one of the first export offices to partner with the event. Over the past 12 years, this partnership has made possible numerous showcases, networking events and conferences where the artistic variety of music made in France has had the chance to shine through.

“[Next year] will be the height of this longstanding cross-cultural collaboration with even more sessions, meetings and opportunities for French music industry professionals to share their work and experiences. The timing could not be better, as Le Bureau Export celebrates its 25th anniversary of helping French and international music professionals work together to promote artists ‘made in France’ around the world.”

Reeperbahn will return from 19 to 22 September 2018.


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Weak currency a challenge for Norwegian festivals

The weakness of the Norwegian krone is an ongoing challenge for the country’s music festivals, according to Bergenfest festival director Frank Nes.

Echoing the post-Brexit concerns of festival bosses in the UK – and following Friday’s cancellation of Pemberton Music Festival, with the weak Canadian dollar partially to blame – Nes says the two biggest difficulties his festival is facing are “a weak Norwegian currency” (which makes it more expensive to book artists, who are generally paid in US dollars or euros) and “stiff competition for artists in what seems to be an ever-increasing international festival circuit”.

Bergenfest, promoted by local independent Bergen Live, has taken place in the west-coast city of Bergen since 1993 – initially as a multi-venue, city-centre event, and later in an open-air setting in the grounds of Bergenhus Fortress. It currently has a daily capacity of roughly 9,000, and will this year welcome Pet Shop Boys, Liam Gallagher, Ellie Goulding, Richard Ashcroft, Rag’n’Bone Man and Emili Sandé over three days from Wednesday 14 to Saturday 17 June.

Currency concerns aside, Nes is upbeat about both Bergenfest and the state of the Norwegian festival market as a whole. Tickets for the 2017 event are selling “really well”, he tells IQ: “We are way up from last year and expect to sell out at least two of the days.

“Friday” – headlined by local rap heroes Karpe Diem – “is already sold out, and Saturday and possibly Thursday are good candidates as well. We have also sold many more four-day festival tickets than in previous years, which is great.”

Part of that success, says Nes, is that large festivals underpinned by major international acts are still relatively scarce in Norway. “There are a lot of festivals, but most are pretty small and attract mostly a local audience,” he explains, “so there is not too much competition for the punters.”

“There’s high degree of Darwinism involved in the festival market”

According to the International Ticketing Yearbook 2016, Norway has a disproportionately high number of music festivals for a country of its population, and 1.8 million people – or 40% of the country – visited a festival in 2014. However, not all of them are in it for the long haul, explains Nes, with market forces swiftly putting paid to unsustainable events.

“There’s high degree of Darwinism involved in the festival market, and I think most of the ones that are not sustainable have closed shop now,” he comments. “Some of the smaller, but really nice, festivals are also closing down or taking breaks due to organisers needing to face the realities of workloads, financial pressure and an increased focus on health and security…”

Despite a relative lack of competition than in some other markets, Nes is clear that Bergenfest – a four-day pass for which costs 2,325 kr (US$279) – more than holds its own when it comes to programming and the overall festival experience: “Where else will you be able to see Liam Gallagher and Richard Ashcroft perform on the same day and stage this summer?” He also praises the “sensational” Rag’n’Bone Man, who will play “an intimate 2,500-cap. open air stage on the same day as those two British giants…”

It’s also telling that the best-selling day for Bergenfest 2017 is the one with a Norwegian headliner, as a country whose population is two-thirds that of London continues to produce a plethora of internationally renowned native acts.

“Local talent is, of course important,” comments Nes, “but I have to stress that local acts play our festival because they are good at what they’re doing, not that they’re locally based. There is so much talent coming out of Bergen in particular, and Norway in general, these days that it would be plain stupid not to include these acts in the programming.”

The Norwegian live business was worth $229m in 2015 – a 5% year-on-year increase in revenue.


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