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

China conflict hits Indian production cos

Indian event businesses under pressure to boycott China are facing increased production costs for non-Chinese-made equipment.

Organisers of entertainment, corporate and other live events currently have a choice between buying event kit (sound, lighting, stages, trussing, etc.) at a higher cost from the US or Europe or continuing to purchase from a country widely regarded as public enemy no 1.

A third option – manufacturing these products in India – would require government support for the industry in the form of subsidies, says Modern Stage Service’s Pratik Wadhwa.

An influential, celebrity backed social-media campaign, launched in May, urges Indians to boycott Chinese products and companies in response to the ongoing military stand-off at parts of the India–China border.

The most vicious fighting, in mid-June, saw an estimated 20 Indian and 43 Chinese soldiers lose their lives in melee combat in disputed areas of Kashmir; both sides, meanwhile, accuse each other of firing shots in a skirmish at the line of actual control (LAC) between the Indian territory of Ladakh and Chinese-occupied Tibet yesterday (7 September).

“Matching price with China will be difficult at present … but it is achievable in the long run”

India blames China for the incursions, and has even gone so far as to ban Chinese-owned mobile apps including TikTok and WeChat and Tencent-published Fortnite rival PUBG. The Chinese state-run Global Times accuses a nationalistic Indian media of inflaming tensions, warning that the press “must be reined in” if India wishes to avoid further conflict with Beijing.

Speaking to EventFAQs, Wadhwa, CEO of the New Delhi-based pro-AV distributor, explains: “95% of lighting and trussing, and all LED walls and LED TVs, are imported from China, [as is] cheaper audio equipment.

“The alternative to this is that either India needs to manufacture equipment or international companies have to start assembly lines in India. The Indian government will have to support this industry by giving subsidies.”

Santana Davis, the managing director of Bangalore’s J Davis Prosound & Lighting, adds: “My assumption is that a certain level of impact will surely be there on import of this equipment or materials from China if the current scenario between India and China doesn’t improve.

Davis notes that equipment imported from Western countries is “top-class”, but compared to a quality Chinese brand is “at least two or three times higher” in price.

Indians are urged to boycott Chinese products and companies in response to the ongoing military stand-off at parts of the border

Both Wadhwa and Shivam Singh of pro-AV company Shivam Videos say they plan to start manufacturing audiovisual equipment domestically.

“We have got back into manufacturing lights in India,” explains Wadhwa. “Matching price with China will be difficult at present, because they produce for the world, but it is achievable in the long run.”

“We have already planned […] to import parts from Taiwan, Japan or Korea and assemble them in India,” adds Singh. “Later, we are also planning to start manufacturing in India.

“We want to support our nation and be self-sufficient. We are ready to support ‘Make in India’. But for that we would need the government’s support as well, as setting up a manufacturing unit is not easy.”

 


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.

Lighting companies illuminate the sky for key workers

A number of lighting rental companies in the Benelux countries of Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg illuminated the sky over the weekend in support of key workers on the frontline of fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

The #LightTheSky concept was thought up by a Dutch rental company, later taken up by numerous entertainment supply companies, venues, broadcasters and others across the Benelux region and further afield in the Dutch Caribbean island of Curaçao, Serbia and Italy.

Shapes including hearts were projected into the sky using products by Czech lighting manufacturer Robe, among others.

“It’s heart-warming to see the entertainment technology community energised and engaging in actions like this”

The initiative aimed to show solidarity and gratitude towards essential workers in the health service, transportation, law enforcement, supermarkets, education and many other sectors that are keeping countries going during the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s heart-warming to see the entertainment technology community energised and engaging in actions like this and showing its support for everyone,” says Robe CEO Josef Valchar.

“We’re all affected, and by standing strong together we can help each other survive and deal with the huge challenges our incredible industry faces in the immediate and longer-term future.”

 


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.

“It was madness”: New book profiles production pioneers

Veteran tour manager Richard Ames, who has worked with the likes of Fleetwood Mac, the Who, Kate Bush, Wings, XTC, Duran Duran and Mike Oldfield over five decades in the business, has released Live Music Production, the first book covering the early years of the production sector in the UK.

“I hope that this book as a piece of social history will inform, entertain and delight those who were either there, or on the periphery of, or are of an age when rock music was on its meteoric rise,” explains Ames, who initially worked as a PM from 1972 to 1986, when the business was in its infancy.

“Just as equally, I hope that this will become supplementary reading for tomorrow’s students, so they can see how the foundations of this remarkable industry were forged with the 24/7 strength and spirit of these pioneers.”

Alongside the book, published last September by Routledge, Ames also documents his stories from live on the road at his Road Stories website.

“I hope this book become supplementary reading for tomorrow’s students”

Live Music Production is divided into nine chapters – covering lighting, sound, stage design, full production services, rigging, trucking/outdoor staging, bussing/catering and travel agencies – featuring interviews with industry trailblazers such as Bryan Grant (Britannia Row), Del Roll (Edwin Shirley Trucking), Jon Cadbury (PRG), tour/production manager Roger Searle and late stage designer Ian Knight, as well as a foreword by promoter Harvey Goldsmith.

Ames began writing the book 11 years ago (“I’ve always wanted to tell the story of how this extraordinary industry that I have spent 40 years of my own professional life in came about”), and says he hopes Live Music Production will open the door for other similar ‘social histories’ of the live music business.

“I don’t believe that social history in my industry has really taken off yet,” he continues. “The benefits of knowledge of the past, in so many different spheres, can’t surely be disputed – but as for now, I hope to see more and more factual history research published for future generations to appreciate. [So the book is] pioneering, I hope.”

See below for selected (and frequently hilarious) extracts from the book, or buy your copy from RoutledgeIQ readers can benefit from 20% off by entering the discount code HUM19 at checkout.

 


In 1970, Jon Cadbury carries Pink Floyd’s gear to the Netherlands for a festival – with no paperwork…

“Jeff [Torrens, friend and Roundhouse colleague] and I were going to go off and tour Europe with our truck, and Ian [Knight] said, ‘Well, why don’t you just come and take the lights to this festival for us, and then go off on your travels?’

“I hadn’t actually worked out that if you take the lights out there then you are probably going to have bring them back again. Of course, we didn’t think about things like carnets, so we got on the ferry at Harwich got off at the Hook of Holland and customs impounded everything!

“The guys who became Mojo Concerts, Berry Visser and Léon Ramakers, eventually sorted it out; they were the people who promoted that festival [Holland Pop Festival 1970]. They paid some sort of bond that got the lights in and got them out again. I actually took the truck to Schiphol airport to collect the Floyd’s equipment when it came in, and had the band’s entire equipment in this seven-and-a-half-ton truck…

“There was no carnet, so I had to do a deal with the customs agent at Schiphol – which was basically, ‘I have got to get this to the site: they’re the headline act on this bill!’ My deal with this customs officer, who was a young guy who was into music, luckily for me, was that he would release the equipment and he would come to the site with me as long as he could collect a bond.

“So I went to the site and told the organisers and [Floyd manager] Steve O’Rourke that we couldn’t actually unload the truck. I said I wouldn’t let it out of my truck until the customs officer had got his bond – which was probably exceeding my brief somewhat – but we got there. Everyone was passing the buck to someone else to pay the bond and I said, ‘Well, I’ll have to take it back to the airport, then. That was the deal I made with this guy, so if you don’t sort it out…’

“So they did pay the bond and it did happen,the Floyd made an album with all of their equipment lined up in a great photo on an aerodrome [the back sleeve of Ummagumma]. That was that equipment and those were the roadies who were dealing with it. It’s extraordinary.”

“Of course, we didn’t think about things like carnets…”

It’s 1973, and then-junior lighting crew member Brian Croft is on a Lockheed L-749 Constellation from Hawaii to Australia on a Rolling Stones tour…

“It was unbelievable – it was cold, there was no heating, no soundproofing, you couldn’t speak to anybody, couldn’t read really or anything – but it became a big thing and we had a tongue painted on it when we were in Sydney, and then we flew all round Australia. Of course, the band, [including] Keith [Richards, along with] Bobby Keys and Jim [Price] the trumpet player, all came on the plane, and then we are halfway across from Perth back to Sydney and Keith says he has had enough.

“‘I’ve had fun, drunk all the beer’, and all that, but you look down and there is nothing but desert. ‘Well, you can’t stop here, Keith – it’s a long way, it’s like 12 hours!’ So that was a bit of a nightmare. Up until now I’d been doing a lot of straight theatre, and it was almost like an out-of-body experience seeing these mad frontiersmen and hippies, and I’m part of it and risking my life for the glory of the Rolling Stones.

“It’s like madness when you think about it now, but we had some great fun. The important thing about that tour was when the entourage – the whole group: crew, band, roadies, tour manager, probably 22 people – would all go and have dinner together. That was what was nice about it: you would all sit down and have dinner together because it wasn’t an unmanageable number, whereas it’s hundreds now in the touring party.”

“it was almost like an out-of-body experience seeing these mad frontiersmen and hippies”

In 1976, travel agent Mike Hawksworth goes into his office, shared with the Who’s manager, Bill Curbishley…

“At about nine o’clock the phone started ringing. [Curbishley’s] receptionist wasn’t in, so I went to pick up the phone, and it was one of those old phones […] where you have to take the receiver off to dial a number. I’ve gone to pick up the phone receiver and the whole unit comes up – the receiver hasn’t come off; the whole unit has lifted off the desk.

“I said, ‘What the hell?’, but it kept ringing and ringing, so I went over to the next one and try to pick up the receiver, and the whole unit comes up again.

“There are six phones in the office [glued together] like this, out of seven phones: [The Who’s drummer, Keith Moon] had left one unstuck.

“I answered it and Keith said, ‘It took you long enough to answer the bloody phone, didn’t it? If this is the service I’m going to get, then I’m going elsewhere!’ and he put the phone down.”

“We ended up with a gladiatorial match between a forklift truck and an old car”

Led Zeppelin rigger Jon Bray recalls crew days off Knebworth in 1979…

“We had a long gap between the first and second show. The site was sort of empty, apart from a handful of us living there with our caravan. We had some very interesting times there.

“One night, things got rather out of hand and we ended up with a gladiatorial match between a forklift truck and an old car. Somebody tried to do donuts with the car on stage. I don’t know how nobody got killed, actually – we must have been fairly out of it. The car ended up being absolutely destroyed…”

 


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.

Further EU exemptions spell bright future for stage lighting

A vote by EU member states on the forthcoming Ecodesign regulations has resulted in further exemptions for live performance lighting, guaranteeing that the vast majority of stage and studio lighting can remain in use.

The new revisions exempt network-controlled entertainment lighting fixtures from standby power requirements and extend the exemption for colour-tunable light sources to green. The additions also exempt a number of specialist live entertainment lights from regulations, and allow the use of some white light sources.

The European Entertainment Ecodesign Coalition – a Europe-wide group of associations working in the entertainment and live performance sector – has welcomed the revision, stating that all “remaining concerns regarding stage and studio lighting were addressed by the expert group.”

The European Union proposed its new Ecodesign directive in May 2018. Under the plans, stage lighting fell privy to the same environmental rules that govern lights sold for domestic and office use.

“Remaining concerns regarding stage and studio lighting have now been addressed”

Venues and industry associations across Europe warned that some of the continent’s best-loved music venues and theatres would face a blackout post implementation of the directive in 2020.

Responding to critics, the European Commission first revised the proposal in July 2018, exempting around 80% of specific lamp types used in the live performance and film sector from Ecodesign requirements.

Following the latest revision on 17 December, the vast majority of light sources needed on stage, in specialised lighting design, and in film studios can continue to be used.

The European Commission will publish a consolidated version of the text at the end of January.

 


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.

Karni & Saul create “magic” live visuals for Katie Melua tour

Bafta-nominated animators Karni and Saul have been enlisted to provide dynamic visuals and lighting for Katie Melua’s 2017–18 winter tour, whose UK leg kicked off at the 1,458-capacity Bournemouth Pavilion last night.

For the tour – which began at Stockholm’s Cirkus (1,650-cap.) on 24 October and closes at the Assembly Rooms (788-cap.) in Edinburgh on 13 December – Melua is joined by the Gori Women’s Choir, with whom she collaborated on the silver-selling 2016 album In Winter.

Melua previously worked with Karni and Saul on the video for the In Winter single ‘Perfect World’, which won the best animation awards at the UKMVAs and Berlin Music Video Awards. It is the director duo’s first time producing concert visuals.

“I’m always trying to strive for a more enriching, visually enticing, immersive live experience for the audience”

“Adding visuals to live concerts is a fine art, so creating the right types of film content to accompany the music requires very special sensibility and level of care,” comments Melua. “This is what I have been craving for years now, as I’m always trying to strive for a more enriching, visually enticing, immersive live experience for the audience.

“I could think of no better creative designers than the award-winning Karni and Saul to bring the wintery sounds of Gori Women’s Choir together with our world-class rhythm section, weaving everything together with a sense of marvel and wonderment…

“I first worked with Karni and Saul a few years ago, when we were creating the music video to ‘Perfect World’. That video won numerous awards around the world, with its unique animation and storytelling. I cannot wait for Karni and Saul to bring this same level of magic with me to the stage.”

 


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.

Stage lighting: “Strong indications” of no European ban

Sources close to the European Commission (EC) have indicated #SaveStageLighting campaigners will be successful in their goal of securing an exemption for stage lighting from new environmental regulations.

Venues and industry associations in May warned that some of the continent’s best-loved music venues and theatres face a blackout post-2020, under European Union plans to regulate stage lighting under the same environmental rules that govern those sold for domestic and office use.

Members of the European Parliament voted 330–246 earlier this month in favour of an amendment, introduced by British MEP Ashley Fox, that would maintain the current exemption for the entertainment sector in the new ‘Ecodesign’ directive. Fox said keeping the exemption is “vital for small theatres across Europe”.

Now, according to Pearle* (Performing Arts Employers Associations League Europe), industry stakeholders in negotiations with the EC have given the European live entertainment body “strong indications that the main arguments of the case have been accepted”, paving the way for a continued exemption for stage, studio, film and live events applications.

“The situation now is far more positive than many had feared”

“There will be a list of exempted lamp base types that will include many of the specialised tungsten and discharge lamps that are used in the sector,” reads a Pearle* statement. While the organisation expects the list of exempted lamps to be “comprehensive”, it cautions it will not include lighting also in use for other, non-entertainment purposes.

There will also be an exemption for colour-tunable light sources, although details have not yet been disclosed.

“Although much still remains to be known, the situation now is far more positive than many had feared and greatly improved since a meeting between representatives of the live performance sector and the [European] Commission took place earlier this year,” says a Pearle* spokesperson.

The full text of the final regulations will be published this November, and is expected to be written into law in September 2020.

Pearle* represents more than 7,000 live music and performing arts organisations across Europe.

 


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.

“Catastrophic” EU plans would mean lights out for venues

Venues and industry associations across Europe have warned some of the continent’s best-loved music venues and theatres face a black-out post-2020, under plans to regulate stage lighting under the same environmental rules that govern those sold for domestic and office use.

The European Union (EU)’s proposed Ecodesign Working Plan 2016–2019 would require all new stage lighting – from traditional tungsten bulbs to the latest LED fixtures – to meet new efficiency targets, from which they are currently exempt. According to the UK’s Association of Lighting Designers (ALD), the new regulations, which are due to kick in on 1 September 2020, would “dramatically impact all areas of entertainment lighting and all who work in this field”, with the impact on live shows “immediate and overwhelming”.

The ALD, along with the Production Services Association (PSA), entertainment technology body Plasa and other industry groups, are calling for everyone who works in live entertainment to respond to the EU consultation on the new directive (scroll down to the section on lamps), which runs until next Monday (7 May).

The fight against the proposed regulations has also been taken up by venues across the continent, with the National Theatre in London, Cánovas Theatre in Malaga, Lliure Theatre in Barcelona, Civic Theatre in Dublin and Circo Price Theatre in Madrid all beaming the campaign’s official hashtag – #SaveStageLighting – on the exteriors of their buildings over the past few days.

“Professional stage lighting has always been exempt from the labelling regime, [but] that’s about to change,” explains PSA general manager Andy Lenthall. “Tungsten, halogen and other sources don’t get close” to the minimum ‘G’ rating which would be required for sale in Europe after 2020, he adds, while “sealed unit LEDs, in the main, fall foul”.

Lenthall tells IQ smaller venues would be disproportionately affected by the plans, with a phasing out of old-fashioned bulbs also forcing the complete – and costly – replacement of all components associated with older lighting systems.

“Have a think about smaller venues, theatres, schools, halls, community groups,” he continues. “If they have a perfectly serviceable load of par cans [parabolic aluminised reflector lights] with old-fashioned bulbs, they could probably get 30 years out of them by just changing bulbs. If those bulbs are not available, they’ll be forced to switch.

“The consequences of failure would be catastrophic to the entertainment industry”

“For you and me at home, that’s just a different type of bulb in the same fixture. In a venue, that’s a new type of fixture, new dimmers and new controllers – the whole shooting match in one hit.”

In addition to the cost aspect of replacing lighting rigs – which initial projections put at £1.25 billion – the National Theatre says the proposed regulations, which require a minimum efficiency of 85 lumens per watt and a maximum standby power of 0.5W, “may mean that we can’t light our shows anymore”.

“While we are fully committed to improving sustainability in our industry, imposing these blunt measures on stage lighting will have a catastrophic artistic and financial effect on theatres all over the UK and throughout the EU,” reads a statement from the theatre.

“Productions like War Horse, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Follies and Angels in America could not be lit under these regulations.

“There is no existing equipment that could create any of the images you are familiar with from these productions that would be allowed under EU legislation.”

Pending any unexpected (and unrealistic) advances in lighting technology by 2020, the effect of the Working Plan, if implemented in its current form, would be to cause “thousands of venues, theatres and music festivals across the continent [to go] dark”, says the Save Stage Lighting Campaign.

While smaller venues would take a larger financial hit, Beyoncé lighting designer Tim Routledge points out that all venues, large and small, would be affected by the new rules, which are set to hit “every music venue, arena, music festival and touring concert production across Europe”.

“As a very well established lighting designer designing tours for acts such as Beyoncé, Sam Smith, Take That, ELO and many more, the news of this regulation is terrifying,” he writes in a letter to the Guardian. “Pretty much every single tool that we use as lighting designers will be rendered obsolete by these rules – incredible, as over the recent past as an industry we have adopted the latest in energy-saving LED technology and a lot of tours are totally LED.”

In addition to making an official objection, the ALD encourages everyone opposed to the plans to write to their local members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and sign the official petition, which currently has 36,957 of 50,000 signatures.

“It is absolutely essential that we are successful in our endeavour of securing an exemption for stage lighting from these proposals,” says the association, which recently published a primer to the 2020 regulations. “This has the potential to harm everyone from technicians, actors and designers to agents, critics and audience members.

“The consequences of failure would be catastrophic to the entertainment industry and European culture.”

 


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.