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SA supreme court rejects appeal over concert death

The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) of South Africa has rejected an appeal by one of the companies held responsible for a scaffolding tower collapse that killed one person at a Linkin Park show in South Africa in 2012.

In 2017, nearly five years after the death of 32-year-old Florentina Popa, Cape Town magistrate Ingrid Arntsen ruled that Vertex Scaffolding, Bothma Signs and Hirt & Carter – which constructed two large scaffolding towers at Cape Town Stadium and hung an advertisement for Lucozade between them – had been negligent and could be “causally linked” to Popa’s death, while Big Concerts, the promoter of the show, was found not to be responsible.

Popa died of blunt-force trauma after the tower fell on her in strong winds before Linkin Park show’s at the 58,309-seat stadium on 7 November 2012.

Arntsen said the companies should have foreseen that even moderate winds could have blown it over. “[W]inds with speeds of up to 15 metres per second were eminently foreseeable in Cape Town, and the towers could have been designed and constructed in such a way as to withstand the winds that were recorded on the day of the concert,” she said at the time.

“There is, in my view, no discernible material error of law … on which a review might be founded”

“It would appear, then, from all the evidence, that while the wind did come up and create problems, there was no real fear on the part of anyone in authority at the concert that the towers would blow over.”

Durban-based Hirt & Carter, which produces billboards and digital advertising, took the inquest’s findings to the Western Cape High Court, which dismissed the appeal, and then to the Supreme Court of appeal, which has upheld the high court’s ruling.

SCA judge Sulet Potterill, with four judges concurring, found that Arntsen “cannot be faulted for concluding that the death of the deceased was brought about by an act or omission that prima facie amounts to or involves an offence on the part of Hirt & Carter”, reports News24.

“It was premised on a finding of negligence on the part of Hirt & Carter. There is, in my view, no discernible material error of law by the magistrate of the kind on which a review might be founded. Indeed, I can find no error at all.”

Hirt & Carter’s appeal argued that the magistrate had erred when she found that it had omitted to supervise and manage the erection of the towers, which it said was the responsibility of a subcontractor (Bothma Signs).

In her judgment, Potterill disagreed, saying Arntsen “was correctly unpersuaded that the subcontracting of Bothma Signs and Vertex, against the facts of the case, could be relied on to exonerate Hirt & Carter.”

A further 19 people were injured in the accident, with 12 requiring hospitalisation.


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Calls for action on mental health after Linkin Park death

The death of Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington, who took his own life yesterday aged 41, has once again thrust into the spotlight the issue of mental health in the music industry.

Several industry figures contacted by IQ in the aftermath of Bennington’s passing, which comes just two months after the suicide of his close friend, Chris Cornell, have expressed sadness at the singer’s suicide – but not surprise. Tour manager Andy Franks (Coldplay, The Rolling Stones, Depeche Mode) describes a culture in which vulnerable people are allowed to “fall through the cracks”.

“It’s a terrible, terrible shame, but not a shock,” says Franks, who now runs the charity Music Support, which, among other services, operates a 24/7 phoneline for execs, artists, crew and techs struggling with their mental health and provides ‘Safe Tents’ at music festivals. “Our business is one of highs and lows – gratification followed by extreme isolation and loneliness – and it’s very difficult to look after your mental health during the low periods.”

Another charity offering mental-health support services to the music industry is Help Musicians UK (HMUK), whose chief executive, Richard Robinson, says what’s currently lacking in the industry is a unified, international clinical response to poor mental health.

HMUK’s recent Can Music Make You Sick? survey revealed almost three quarters of respondents – all professional musicians – had experienced episodes of anxiety and depression, with more than half saying they felt underserved by the support available currently.

The charity is constantly “pushing forward to find solutions and services” to change that, says Robinson, who reveals HMUK is working with partners internationally on launching a “global service” to support those in need, wherever they are in the world.

“There’s an element of good that befriending can do,” he explains. “If people can talk to musicians who already have experience of mental-health problems, alcoholism or addiction, that’s a fantastic service – but there has to a clinical response, too. That’s what’s missing.

“Support doesn’t need to cost a huge amount, but it is vital every single company is equipped”

“If an artist of Chester’s high profile had a terrible issue [on tour] in another country, at the moment there’s no global service there to support him.”

While HMUK works on the launch of its international network of music biz-centric mental health provision (“We don’t want to turn it into a celebratory moment,” comments Robinson. “The fact is there have been far too many tragedies that have pushed the industry into this situation”), Robinson notes the service “will never replace” those offering emotional support for those in distress, existing side by side with organisations such as Music Support or, more generally, the Samaritans.

Franks says Music Support’s focus is on preventing tragedies like Bennington’s suicide by acting before it spirals into a crisis.

While charities such as Music Support do what they can with limited resources – “Even if we were 5,000 octopuses, we still wouldn’t have enough hands to do everything,” Franks comments – Franks says he believes mental health is still a “grey area” when it comes to obligations. He explains. “There was one major concert cancelled recently. Most people working there were freelancers – who looks after them when they don’t have any work?

“Management were looking after the artist, promoters were saying, ‘Should we be looking after this situation?’, even if it’s outside their remit… It’s a grey area. No one really wants to take responsibility.”

Away from the charitable sector, professional associations such as the Music Managers Forum (MMF) are also taking the lead in raising awareness of mental illness and providing practical advice and assistance to those working in the industry.

MMF’s Music Managers’ Guide to Mental Health, backed by both Music Support and HMUK, was launched in May at The Great Escape in Brighton. General manager Fiona McGugan tells IQ the music industry “should be a world leader in understanding, providing support and being preventative in this area, and it is our ability to educate ourselves and others that will create the most change.”

“It’s very difficult to look after your mental health during the low periods”

Mental-health support, she adds, “doesn’t need to cost a huge amount, but it is vital every single company is equipped, particularly when it comes to crisis management”.

Robinson says mental health is increasingly “becoming a talking point” in the music business, but that it has “taken some seismic shocks to push the industry into a response”. “It shouldn’t take a horrific circumstance like this to put mental health back on the agenda,” he comments.

While raising awareness of the issue is important, says Franks, removing ‘the stigma’ around mental illness counts for little without concrete measures to back it up.

He suggests a fund, paid into by industry organisations, as a good first step towards rectifying that: “People are falling through the cracks. It’s high time action was taken. We have all these conferences, you hear the great and the good talk about these things, but what actually happens when they leave?

“A fund, with everybody putting into it, would help. Should there be a levy on ticket sales? Could the PRS pay in? Should government contribute? They’re happy enough to take the VAT on ticket money…”

He calls on those working in the business to get in touch if they feel they can be of assistance. “I’m always being told by promoters, managers, agents, ‘We’d really like to help’,” Franks explains. “Well, now’s your chance: Help!”

Equally, says Robinson, HMUK is here to play its part – as it has for almost a century – in what he calls a “challenge for the global music industry”: “What I want the industry to see is that the third sector is really stepping up.”


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100,000+ for first Download Madrid

More than 100,000 people attended last weekend’s inaugural Download Madrid, exceeding the expectations of Live Nation Spain and cementing the event as one of Spain’s “rock and metal festivals of reference”, says the promoter.

Download Madrid was announced last October alongside the French edition of Lollapalooza, and joins a string of new festivals launched in the Spanish capital over the past two years, including Live Nation’s Mad Cool and Glaciar Music’s Utopía.

Taking place at the Caja Mágica (‘Magic Box’) stadium from Thursday 22 to Saturday 24 June, festival performers included Linkin Park, System of a Down, Prophets of Rage, Mastodon, Five Finger Death Punch and 58 other acts playing across four stages on more than 35,000m² of artificial turf.

Following the successful debut, “the Caja Mágica,” reads a release from Live Nation Spain, “has become the meeting place for an audience that cried out for a rock/metal event of this magnitude in the capital.”

The festival will return in 2018.


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50% increase in ticket sales for second Maximus

Move Concerts doubled ticket sales in Sao Paolo for the second edition of Maximus Festival, in what CEO Phil Rodriguez calls a “gratifyingly very positive” year for the fledgling twin rock/metal festivals.

Maximus debuted last September with two one-day festivals in Sao Paolo, Brazil, and Buenos Aires, Argentina, headlined by Rammstein and Marilyn Manson. It returned earlier this month – on Saturday 6 May at the Tecnopolis in Buenos Aires and Saturday 13 May at the Interlagos race circuit in Sao Paolo – and featured performances from Linkin Park, Prophets of Rage, Slayer, Rob Zombie, Five Finger Death Punch, Böhse Onkelz and more.

“Both festivals were flawless in execution,” Rodriguez tells IQ, “and the response from punters, artists and press was gratifyingly very positive. And the weather on both dates was perfect, which always helps!

“Both festivals were flawless in execution, and the response from punters, artists and press was gratifyingly very positive”

“In Sao Paulo, we had an increase in ticket sales of over 50% from the 2016 edition, selling more than 32,000 tickets. This year we also had our third stage in Sao Paulo host hardcore bands – Rise Against, Pennywise, The Flatliners – and it was an absolute success.”

Upcoming shows for Move Concerts, Latin America’s largest independent promoter, include the South American legs of Ed Sheeran’s ÷ and Ariana Grande’s Dangerous Woman tours. It also promoted Kraftwerk’s 23 November show in Buenos Aires, after a judge overturned the city’s ban on concerts where “synthesisers or samplers are the primary instrument”.

Some sample shots of both festivals, courtesy of photographers Stephan Solon and Camila Cara, are below…


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LN deploys ‘fan-first’ tech for Linkin Park tour

The first batch of tickets for Linkin Park’s 12th concert trek, the One More Light world tour, will be released exclusively via a Ticketmaster ‘Verified Fan’ presale, tour promoter Live Nation has announced.

Ticketmaster Verified Fan, launched earlier this year, is described by Live Nation as a “groundbreaking fan-first technology” that allows fans to “compete against other fans for tickets – not software”. For the Linkin Park presale, fanclub members will get priority access, but everyone else takes their place in a queue – with those willing to hand over more data, such as those signing in with Facebook, given a better spot in the line.

“The more you participate, the higher your spot in line and the better your access to tickets,” explains Live Nation. “Linkin Park Fan Club (LPU) members will get priority, but anyone can work their way to the top.”

Other ways to move up the queue include pre-ordering Linkin Park’s (pictured) new album (One More Light), inviting friends to sign up and by sharing news about the tour on social media and email. Those who end up in the top five will receive a package of signed merch from the band, with numbers one and two in each market getting to meet Linkin Park before the show.

“The more you participate, the higher your spot in line and the better your access to tickets”

Ticketmaster’s North America head of music, David Marcus, told Recode in March that the Verified Fan programme has so far been a success in reducing the amount of tickets scooped up by bots, which are now illegal to use in the US. Unlike traditional presales, an average of just 1% of tickets end up on the secondary market, he said.

“Bots are about speed, and if you make distribution about speed, you’re fighting a very hard battle,” he explained. “If you make it about identity, it’s much different.”

The One More Light world tour, supported by rapper Machine Gun Kelly, kicks off on 27 July at the Xfinity Center (19,900-cap.) in Boston, Masachussetts, finishing up at LA’s Hollywood Bowl on 22 October.


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Festival Focus: Snowbombing, FIB, Download

Broadwick Live’s music ‘n’ ski event Snowbombing today announced an avalanche (geddit?) of new acts for the 2017 festival.

Blossoms, Slaves, De La Soul, Grandmaster Flash, Giggs, Dixon, Shy FX and more will join previously announced headliners Chase & Status for six days of “luxurious spas, igloo raves, rooftop hot tubs, forest parties [and] snow-yoga” at the Mayrhofen ski resort in Austria from 3 to 8 April.

As if that wasn’t enough, there’ll also be “special guest appearances” from everyone’s favourite spandex-clad ’90s early-morning TV fitness instructor, Derrick Evans (aka Mr Motivator), and loveably inept British ski jumper Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards, whose life story was the subject of a recent film starring Taron Egerton and Hugh Jackman.

Fingers crossed for a Grandmaster Flash/Mr Motivator duet.

Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nova Rock 2016, M. Krobath/ANSPress Society News

In today’s other major festival news, Red Hot Chili Peppers will be headlining Festival Internacional de Benicassim (FIB) next July.

The American four-piece, who wheadlined Reading and Leeds, Lollapalooza Chicago, T in the Park, Fuji Rock and more this year, are also confirmed for Super Rock Super Bock in Lisbon the same weekend (13–16 July) and Rock in Rio in September 2017.

FIB, which takes place in the Spanish coastal town of Benicàssim, is promoted by Maraworld, part-owned by Denis Desmond’s MCD Concerts. (Anthony Kiedis/Red Hot Chili Peppers photo by M. Krobath/ANSPress Society News.)

System Of a Down, Santiago Gets Louder 2015, Macarena Viza

The second edition of Live Nation France’s Download Paris has announced its three headliners for 2017.

System of a Down – revealed last month as the first act confirmed for the new Download Spain, the second international spin-off from the long-running UK metal festival – will join Linkin Park and Blink-182 at a disused airbase in Le Plessis-Pâté, in Île-de-France, from 9 to 11 June.  (System of a Down photo by Macarena Viza.)

Also playing will be Rage Against the Machine/Public Enemy/Cypress Hill supergroup Prophets of Rage.

The first line-up announcement for the UK Download is expected this week.

Update (4/11/16): It’s System of a Down, Biffy Clyro and Aerosmith.

Linkin Park, Montreal, 2014, Kristina Servant

Other notable developments since the last instalment of Festival Focus:


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