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LIVE CEO Jon Collins on next steps for key issues

Jon Collins, the recently appointed CEO of live music industry umbrella group LIVE, has spoken to IQ about sustainability, diversity, consumer confidence and the spiking crisis, in the second instalment of a two-part interview.

In the first part of the interview, published last week, Collins discussed his approach to tackling VAT reduction, government engagement, post-Brexit touring and the cost of living crisis.

Here, the CEO sets out the remainder of his key priorities and his plan of action for each, going forward.

“We’re out of the habit of going out and we need to find ways to get people back out”

Consumer confidence
We’re post-Covid restrictions but still dealing with the impact they’ve had on customers’ confidence to go out to gigs. We’re just finalising some consumer research which found that 14% are reticent. And there is still that tranche of people who did go to gigs beforehand and are saying they’re not quite there in terms of being comfortable to go out. The average person is holding 2.3 tickets from events that have been rolled over so they’re waiting to go to those events before buying something else  – in some cases because they don’t have as much disposable income.

You’ve got 55% whose attitude towards attending gigs, in general, has changed – with 20% of those saying they’re going to fewer events overall. Not having as much energy to go out and not thinking about going out counts for 15% each, and 13% say travelling to events now feels like a lot of effort. We’re out of the habit of going out and we need to find ways to get people back out.

One thing we would like the government to do is to encourage people to come out. I think it’s Spain where they gave people a couple of 100 euros to go and spend in their local economy. That drives activity, which drives tax take, so there’s demonstrable value there. But beyond that, we also think there could be a positive communications campaign, a bit like Let’s Do London. We’re world-class at live music, so let’s bang the drum about it.

“We’re looking to do is build out a Green Information Hub which will have the information there in an understandable way”

Live Green chair John Langford has done a brilliant job of corralling everybody around that net zero by 2030 commitment. There’s a whole workstream that flows out of that about how can LIVE support the organisations on our board to then support their members to be able to hit that target – which is not that far away.

There are lots of passionate, informed expert actors in this space – such as Earthpercent, Julie’s Bicycle, Music Declares Emergency etc – and we’re not going to claim to have the same level of knowledge and understanding – but what we do have is an ability to broadcast to the live music industry in an effective way through our structures. So what we’re looking to do is build out a Green Information Hub which will have the information there in an understandable way, sometimes drawn from our own auspices but often we will just be signposting to those brilliant organisations.

I feel very encouraged by how serious LIVE, and the organisations within LIVE, are taking this issue and also by the practical steps that they are taking to really reshape how the industry operates for things like green riders – which is an addendum to an artist’s contract. We’re looking at putting something around sustainability into the contract itself because once both parties have signed that, there’s no wiggle room.

“There’s a risk that diversity, equity and inclusion become a talking shop… we’re pivoting to focus on actions”

There’s a risk that diversity, equity and inclusion become a talking shop. It’s so broad that you can be paralysed. We’re pivoting away from talking about the issues to focusing on actions. The first step is looking at how we diversify the entrance into our industry. We know that there’s huge vacancy across all parts of live music, across broader hospitality, so actually, there’s sound commercial and economic logic to asking: are you looking at the most diverse talent pool possible? By doing that we foster a more diverse, inclusive workforce. You have to supplement that with action taken for people mid-career too and action taken for people who have stepped away from the industry but want to come back. So as ever, these things are multi-dimensional.

Drink spiking
We’re doing an immediate piece of work right now with the home office around spiking and tackling that threat within the wider context of delivering safe spaces. It’s such an opaque issue and the evidence base is very difficult to get to. Some people say it’s being underreported and other parties say it’s been overreported. What we care about ultimately, is the safety of our customers. So what we want is to make sure is that we tackle spiking in a way that doesn’t suck resources away from spotting vulnerable people in other circumstances.


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UK live sector commits to reaching net zero by 2030

The UK’s live sector has committed to reaching net-zero emissions by the year 2030, as part of a new campaign to deliver climate action.

The campaign, spearheaded by LIVE Green – the sustainability arm of live music umbrella trade body LIVE, will set out a roadmap for how live music businesses can accelerate their transition to a low carbon future in line with the Paris Agreement.

The initiative will also provide research, expertise and cross-industry innovation in order to support the sector’s transition to a regenerative future, and will aim to ensure meaningful climate investments are made to achieve the sector’s collective targets.

All 13 association members of LIVE – including AIF, MVT, NAA and CPA – have ratified a voluntary sector-specific commitment to deliver measurable and targeted action on climate change.

“We are now at a tipping point for our climate: this is not a rehearsal”

Signatories of the ‘Beyond Zero Declaration’ agree to:

· Work with LIVE Green to set reduction targets and reduce operational and business travel Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, reporting on progress annually.

· Develop a net-zero roadmap and action plan – taking responsibility for actions in energy, waste, procurement, transport, food and governance.

· Understand and define emissions within value chains, follow best practice to affect change in areas outside of direct control and collaborate with suppliers and clients to reduce them.

· Ensure staff undertake climate education and have an ongoing commitment to knowledge sharing within the live music sector and beyond.

Members of Live Green’s working group include Julie’s Bicycle, AGreenerFestival, Powerful Thinking, Vision: 2025 and The Tour Production Group.

John Langford, AEG Europe COO and chair of LIVE Green, says: “We are now at a tipping point for our climate: this is not a rehearsal.

“Although there has been significant progress across the live music sector, now is the time to accelerate our efforts”

“We want to tap into the power of music to help deliver a step-change in the environmental impact of our sector – from carbon emissions through to plastic waste – helping us demonstrate that moving faster towards decarbonisation is a route to a competitive advantage.”

Tom Schroeder, Partner at Paradigm Talent Agency, added: “There can be no shying away from the environmental impact of our global business, and although there has been significant progress across the live music sector, now is the time to accelerate our efforts.

“By bringing together the active specialists and initiatives under one banner, LIVE Green is pioneering a means to fast-track decarbonisation across the sector through education, awareness and tangible action. We look forward to building on the sector’s progress so far, to make our low carbon future a reality.”

LIVE builds on significant efforts across the sector to boost sustainability, ranging from the end of single-use plastic at festivals to sector-wide efforts to reduce the environmental impact of touring.

The Beyond Zero Declaration was revealed at today’s (16 September) Green Events and Innovations Conference (GEI), followed by a discussion between Langford, Stuart Galbraith (Kilimanjaro Live), Clementine Bunel (Paradigm), artist Sam Lee and Chiara Badiali (Julie’s Bicycle).

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Natural Resources to help you go greener

Whether you’re looking for environmental consultation to make your event greener or accreditation to show off your sustainability, below are a slate of organisations around the world dedicated to improving and verifying the sustainability of the events sector.

These organisations provide knowledge, resources, and best practice for event organisers, artists, suppliers and vendors – meaning that the first step towards a more sustainable sector doesn’t have to be the hardest.


Sustainable Event Alliance
Based in New South Wales but with partners all over the globe, the Sustainable Event Alliance (SEA) unites live events professionals who are focused on improving the sustainability of the sector. In addition to its online knowledge bank, the SEA’s activities include accrediting sustainability professionals, helping events become greener, and providing spaces for networking and discussion.

GO Group
Green Operations Europe, known as GO Group, is a pan-European think tank that aims to inspire industry professionals to make their operations greener, smarter, and more sustainable. Initiated at the first International Green Events Conference in Bonn in November 2010, as a joint initiative of Yourope (the European Festival Association), Bucks New University in the UK, and Jacob Bilabel and Holger Jan Schmidt’s Green Music Initiative, the organisation connects festivals with scientists and environmental initiatives; delivers workshops and contributes to panel discussions; organises festival field trips; and helps certify Yourope’s member festivals as Clean’n’Green, among other activities.

The Netherlands
Green Events International
Formed in 2014, Green Events works with Dutch and international partners to share knowledge, resources, and best practice for event organisers, artists, suppliers, vendors and more. Its areas of focus include water, energy, transport, and waste, with past projects having included the Plastic Promise, which saw leading festivals commit to eliminating single-use plastics, and ADE Green, a ‘green deal’ for European festivals launched at Amsterdam Dance Event 2019.

Greener Events
Greener Events, in full the Greener Events Foundation, was established in 2009 by international snowboarding ace Terje Håkonsen, and businessman and philanthropist Jan Christian Sundt. Offering environmental consultation and expertise in making events sustainable, Greener Events has worked with events including Tons of Rock, Øya Festival, Hove Festival, and Way Out West in Sweden, and consulted for Yourope and the European Festival Association.

United Kingdom
A Greener Festival
A Greener Festival (AGF) is a non-profit organisation dedicated to improving the sustainability of the events sector. In addition to its annual Green Events and Innovations Conference – which returns for a special summer edition on 16 September – AGF provides certification, training, CO2 analysis, and consultation for organisers, venues, tours, artists, festivals, sports, suppliers, and local authorities for all event types internationally, and also presents the annual International AGF Awards.

LIVE Green
Chaired by John Langford, COO of AEG Europe, LIVE Green is one of four newly formed specialist subcommittees for Live music Industry Venues and Entertainment (LIVE), the umbrella organisation representing 13 UK live music industry associations. Bringing together the leading sustainability practitioners across the sector to produce a single environmental vision for live music, it sits alongside LIVE Touring, LIVE Venues, and an as-yet unnamed group focusing on diversity and inclusion.

Sustainability in Production Alliance (SiPA) is a global association of individuals and organisations across the production sector, including stage managers, manufacturers, tour & production managers, venues, producers, engineers, and technicians, who are working towards creating a sustainable future for the industry and a ‘triple bottom line’ of people, planet, and profit. It offers a range of resources free of charge to industry professionals, including ‘ten easy wins’ that can be implemented as a starting point today.


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