Gold at the end of the rainbow
For decades, LGBTIQ+ culture was forced to exist on the fringes of society. Few queer artists were allowed to bring their whole selves to the stage, instead forced to hide in plain sight. This meant there was little to no representation for LGBTIQ+ music fans, and queer-friendly spaces in the mainstream were non-existent.
In Europe, in 2022, queer culture is increasingly celebrated. During this past month alone, Harry Styles headlined two shows at the 90,000-capacity Wembley Stadium; Elton John stole the show at BST Hyde Park; and Years & Years delivered a “jubilantly gay set” on the Other Stage at Glastonbury. LGBTIQ+ acts and allies are taking up space on some of the world’s biggest stages. And this culture is big business at the box office.
“There are a load of artists who have made it and who are inspiring LGBTIQ+ role models – Years & Years, Sam Smith, Christine [& The Queens], Kim Petras, Lil Nas X, for example,” says Live Nation promoter Maddie Arnold, who is also an alumna of IQ Magazine’s LGBTIQ+ List 2021.
“I’m glad these days people are a lot less prejudiced; you have highly influential people like Harry Styles who will wear non-gender-conforming clothes on stage and celebrate the queer community through his lyrics and onstage performances.”
“You have highly influential people like Harry Styles who will wear non-gender-conforming clothes on stage”
Stadium-filling icons aside, the value of the pink pound is perhaps best evidenced by the emergence of specialist companies and festivals in the live music business that serve queer artists and audiences. The last 12 months have seen the launch of agencies such as Queer Music Agency (Denmark) and Gallos Talent (UK), ticketing companies like Red Eye (New York), and festivals including Flesh (UK) – all of which cater exclusively to the community.
But not just anyone can strike gold with the pink pound. While many behemoth brands and companies have cottoned onto the economic value of the pink pound (hello Pinkwashing!), few are able to truly connect with those audiences in the same way as those who have put down roots in the community. In 2022, it has never been more evident that representation pays.
Gaps in the market
More often than not, it’s the executives who are themselves queer who are best equipped to identify trends, spot gaps in the market, and develop new opportunities in the space.
Patrick Janssen, marketing manager at Live Nation GSA, is one such professional. During his previous role at Karsten Jahnke Konzertdirektion (KJK), he marketed the first one-queen drag tour in the German market with Sasha Velour’s Smoke & Mirrors.
“I thought, why is nobody setting up shows for these queens in Germany?”
Velour rose to fame in 2007 after winning the ninth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, the smash-hit reality TV competition searching for America’s next drag superstar. The series has spanned fourteen seasons (plus several spin-off shows) and airs internationally in countries including the UK, Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, and Israel.
Thanks to the series, Velour earned acclaim on a global scale becoming a household name in certain circles, and yet… “When I spoke to friends, they were, like, ‘Oh, she’s going on tour in Europe, but she’s not coming to Germany,’” says Janssen. “And I thought, why is nobody setting up shows for these queens in Germany?”
Coincidentally, KJK was approached to promote Velour in Germany. The company’s CEO sought Janssen’s opinion who was readily equipped to report on Velour’s cultural relevance, fan base, and universal appeal. Fully immersed in the idea, Janssen ended up promoting the shows.
“I think if [the CEO had] had to decide on his own, he would have declined because he doesn’t know the audience or her background and career development – it’s not his thing,” says Janssen.
“It was really emotional to have brought so many people together to watch a drag queen”
Janssen’s alignment with Velour’s audience proved to be indispensable when it came to marketing the tour. “Another person on the tour marketing team might have spoken to gay magazines and run editorials and print ads, but the gay community is more digital than that,” says Janssen, explaining that he mostly relied on Grindr, a dating app that is geared towards gay and bisexual men.
“We had better click-through rates (CTRs) on Grindr than on Facebook and Instagram,” he continues. “On those social media platforms, I targeted different drag queens and the CTRs were good – like 10–14% – but on Grindr, the CTRs were like 20–28%. The product and the placement matched.”
The tour took place in spring and comprised one show at the Musical Dome (cap 2,000) in Cologne, one at the Laeiszhalle in Hamburg (2,025), and two at the Admiralspalast (1,756) in Berlin. Despite Germany being in the throes of Covid-19 restrictions, the shows were a success – both on an economic and a social level.
“Everyone had a good time, and people left the venue with a smile on their faces,” says Janssen. “It was really emotional to have brought so many people together to watch a drag queen.”
“Another person on the tour marketing team might have spoken to gay magazines but the gay community is more digital than that”
“The second tour that was offered was Adore Delano [an American drag queen who rose to fame on RuPaul’s Drag Race and then American Idol] in September. This time around, my CEO didn’t ask me if we should do this, he simply asked which capacity in the general market I would recommend.”
In addition, the success of Velour’s shows attracted an offer from a UK agent for The Trixie & Katya Show, [two drag queens who rose to fame on the seventh season of RuPaul’s Drag Race] who will tour in November.
Assembling the right team
As Janssen’s story illustrates, giving queer executives a seat at the table can have a direct impact on a company’s business and artist’s career. Though, as Live Nation’s Arnold points out, LGBTIQ+ artists don’t necessarily need a queer team around them to have the best chance of success.
“I definitely have my go-to agents when I find an artist that falls into this category who is looking for representation,” says Arnold, who promotes queer artists including Muna, ZAND, July Jones, PYRA, Alma, Lauren Sanderson, GIRLI, and Ashnikko.
“Some of [the agents] are queer themselves, but it’s definitely not a dealbreaker”
“Some of [the agents] are queer themselves, but it’s definitely not a dealbreaker. As long as I know they are inclusive, open-minded, and would be a good fit for the act, there’s definitely a conversation to be had. That being said… it’s always good to see if they already have LGBTIQ+ acts on their rosters.”
AEG Presents’ Chloe Pean, who works with queer acts including Duncan Laurence, Dhruv, and Will Young, and has launched an LGBTQIA+ club night/showcase called Melodaze, adds: “It’s always good to bear in mind that you can pick your team, whether you would like a queer marketing person and a female ticketing manager on the team, and think about all the options available that aren’t always traditional.”
Protecting the talent
Cherry-picking the right team is crucial to the success of any artist – no matter what their sexuality – but there’s an added layer of importance to that strategy when it comes to queer talent.
Even in 2022, LGBTIQ+ artists can face limitations ranging from unequal pay to discrimination to prejudiced language. With these considerations, it’s no surprise that the live music business has seen the launch of specialist companies that are well-versed in navigating such prejudice and protecting their talent.
“The drag events industry has always been a little bit of a Wild West”
Nathan Stone, the former creative director of TEG MJR and the creator of DragWorld, last year launched a new UK-based LGBTIQ+ talent management company, Gallos Talent.
The company is working with acts including drag queens Juno Birch and Joe Black (as seen on RuPaul’s Drag Race UK), and offers its services as a partner to events such as Trans Festival London and Cornwall Pride.
Discussing the reasons for launching Gallos Talent, Stone tells IQ: “The drag events industry has always been a little bit of a Wild West, which is something that has dramatically changed in the years since the huge success of Werq the World [an ongoing tour featuring drag queens from RuPaul’s Drag Race]. Before this, any club could put on events, change artists, cancel events, and withhold customers’ money – it wasn’t seemingly regulated in the same way.
“With artists of all sizes, it was always our priority to find partners who we know treat the artist well, as well as the customers, to stop these trends.”
“Unfortunately, there are far too many minorities who feel oppressed in the music industry”
That sentiment is echoed by Frederik Diness Ove, founder of Queer Music Agency in Denmark, which aims to provide non heterosexual talent with better opportunities to break- through in the music industry.
“Unfortunately, there are far too many minorities who feel oppressed in the music industry,” he tells IQ. “This industry is very much dominated by cis-gendered, white, straight men, and therefore we try to rally so we can hopefully stand stronger.”
While both agencies were launched with a mission to level the playing field for queer artists, both founders claim there’s a gap in the market for their specialist services.
“Whilst drag is a mainstay in the UK, there are still many European markets that are just beginning to get these events travelling through their countries, so that is really exciting to witness and be part of!” says Stone.
“Whilst drag is a mainstay in the UK, there are still many European markets that are just beginning to get these events”
Catering to the fanbase
According to AEG’s Pean, the choice of live space can be crucial in promoting queer artists and making their audiences feel safe and included. “It’s important to know what spaces work for a queer act and audience,” she says.
“There tends to be a more diverse roster of people that work in these spaces as well, which creates the right environment and means that there is expertise and understanding of what the act needs.”
But many who IQ spoke with said more can still be done to make venues more suitable for a community that has historically been marginalised. Gender-neutral toilets at venues are a priority for AEG Presents’ Chloe Pean. “It will take more time in venues that are owned by bigger corporations, but it feels like things are moving in the right direction,” she says.
Live Nation’s Arnold agrees: “The provision of gender-neutral toilet facilities is definitely something that should be thought about when putting on these types of shows; with adapted security protocols ensuring all staff members are fully trained and respectful of the audiences.”
“The provision of gender-neutral toilet facilities is definitely something that should be thought about”
Specialist crowd management agencies, which comprise exclusively of queer people and promise “a community-specific approach to security,” are becoming a common fixture in queer nightlife – particularly at club nights. Arnold also points to the importance of buddy systems, which are set up on online or at the venue and help solo gig-goers make new friends.
“A lot of ticket buyers are always looking for someone to go to the show with, and it’s great that a lot of artists promote buddy systems on their social media platforms so that fans can find other fans to go to the shows with,” she says. “It’s definitely the venue’s responsibility to ensure all fans feel safe and welcomed, whether it be a queer show or not.”
Pean adds: “It is also down to the person running the show on the day, taking care of the artists and making sure they are comfortable in their working environment.
“The promoter rep is also the one to brief the security staff and venue manager who relay [the information] on to the rest of their teams. You tend to see that once that ethos is implemented, it sets the tone for a night before a single ticketholder has walked through the door.”
These elements are crucial – but often overlooked – ways of connecting with queer audiences and capitalising on the kind of loyalty that has boosted queer artists from grassroots venues to world-renowned stages.
“From what I’ve been lucky enough to see, [fan bases of queer artists] are much more diverse, and very loyal,” says AEG Presents’ Chloe Pean.
“There’s no good way of explaining it, but the environment at a LGBTQ+’s person’s show is special and warm. You will have people that come who are fans of the music and then other fans that come for the community element and some for both!”
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LGBTIQ+ List 2022: This year’s queer pioneers revealed
IQ Magazine has revealed this year’s LGBTIQ+ List – the second annual celebration of queer professionals who make an immense impact in the international live music business.
The landmark list is the centrepiece of IQ’s second Pride edition, which will be available for subscribers online and in print, in the coming days.
The 20 individuals comprising the LGBTIQ+ List 2022 – as nominated by our readers and verified by our esteemed steering committee – are individuals that have gone above and beyond to wave the flag for an industry that we can all be proud of.
The sophomore class comprises agents, promoters, CFOs, CIOs, tour managers, marketing managers and more – all of whom identify as LGBTIQ+ and, in the face of adversity, have made enormous contributions to their respective sectors.
In alphabetical order, the LGBTIQ+ List 2022 is:
Alexander Rastén Rydberg, head of diversity and talent management, Dansk Live (DK)
Alexandra Ampofo, promoter, Metropolis Music (UK)
Can Büyükcinar, head of operations, Wizard Promotions Konzertagentur (DE)
Cloe Gregson, senior events manager, Manchester Pride (UK)
David Davies, founder and head of live, Double D Live (UK, IE)
David Jones, chief information officer, AEG Global Technology (UK)
Georgie Lanfranchi, tour manager for Years & Years, Only Helix (UK)
Hatice Arıcı, promoting director/ artist agent, Charmenko (TR)
James Fleury, marketing lead, Ticket Swap (NL)
Jill Wheeler, director of booking, Red Mountain Entertainment (US)
Joel Siviour, director & booking agent, Seismic Talent Agency (AU)
Jonas Sjödén, CFO, Live Nation Sweden (SE)
Natalie Rudland, senior promotions assistant, Live Nation (UK)
Nikos Kazoleas, agent, UTA (UK)
Nix Corporan, fan support team lead, DICE (US)
Patrick Erhardt, senior manager content & creation, Goodlive (DE)
Patrick Janssen, marketing manager, Live Nation Germany (DE)
Paul Bonham, director of professional development, MMF (UK)
Peter Taylor, promoter, Cuffe and Taylor (UK)
Troy Suda, chief product officer, Ticketmaster (UK)
Throughout the next month, IQ will be publishing full-length profiles of each person on the LGBTIQ+ List 2022.
“We work in an industry that aims to entertain the entire population. And that population is made up of extremely diverse audiences,” says Ticketmaster’s Troy Suda in his profile.
Joel Siviour, Seismic Talent Agency, adds: “I’ve witnessed plenty of virtue-signaling from within our industry, but when push comes to shove there are companies whose actions don’t align with the values they claim to hold.”
Check out last year’s cohort of queer pioneers here.
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Live Nation Germany announces Crew Nation benefit
Live Nation Germany has announced a livestream charity event for Crew Nation to benefit self-employed professionals who have been financially impacted by the pandemic.
The event, called #becomelouder (#lauterwerden), will see German artists including Die Fantastischen Vier, Milky Chance (pictured), Peter Maffay, Rea Garvey and The BossHoss perform on a mixed reality stage which first premiered at this year’s Wacken World Wide.
All artists will perform without pay and, while the event is free to stream on 12 and 13 December at MagentaMusik 360 and on the MagentaTV programme, viewers will be encouraged to make a donation. Fans can also view the performances afterwards on demand.
“All of us live music fans have our concert tickets pinned to the fridge by a magnet and are just waiting for it to get going. Meanwhile, a lot of the service providers that produce these shows are falling on hard times as a result of the pandemic,” says Smudo of Die Fantastischen Vier.
“Let’s get together and support those affected with this event, in the hope that we can soon take those tickets off the fridge and go out and have a good time again.”
“All of us live music fans have our concert tickets pinned to the fridge by a magnet and are just waiting for it to get going”
The Crew Nation relief fund was launched in April by Live Nation to support touring and venue crews through the coronavirus pandemic.
The live entertainment behemoth committed $10 million to the fund, contributing an initial $5m directly – including $250,000 personally from CEO Michael Rapino and his family – and matching the next $5m donated by artists, fans and employees dollar for dollar.
Since, a number of national events have taken place to benefit the fund, including Live Nation Spain’s ‘Crew Nation Presents…’ – a concert series which raised more than €150,000 through a €1 levy on each ticket.
Similiar fundraising concerts and tours have been organised by artists including Elisa, Nick Cave, Niall Horan, Amy MacDonald, and Marillion.
Donations to Crew Nation can be made directly or through purchasing limited edition Crew Nation merchandise.
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Life’s a beach: Germany’s deck chair concert series sells fast
Organisers of Strandkorb Open Air say they’ve sold more than 35,000 tickets for Germany’s open-air deck chair concert series.
The 60-show series, which runs from July until October, has so far sold out 20 shows including VNV Nation, Philipp Poisel and Gentleman.
In the first month of Strandkorb Open Air, Brings, Höhner, Markus Krebs, Kasalla, Pietro Lombardi, Martin Rütter and Michael Mittermeier all delivered sold-out events.
“This summer, with more than 60 shows, we will ensure that this season is remembered,” SparkassenPark MD Michael Hilgers told MusikWoche.
“We never expected that the concept would attract such a great response and demand, both from artists and from the audience, and we are proud that we can realistically target the sound limit of 50,000 concertgoers. We are very much expecting it that many more shows will be sold out at short notice. ”
Strandkorb Open Air is taking place in SparkassenPark, Mönchengladbach, where 450 separate deck chairs have been divided into nine units to adhere to social distancing.
“We never expected that the concept would attract such a great response and demand, both from artists and from the audience”
Each unit contains 50 deck chairs and operates with a one-way system to avoid contact between visitors. The event also requires guests to book food and drinks in advance which will be waiting in a cool box in the beach chair upon their arrival.
The series was launched after German chancellor, Angela Merkel, announced in June that major events in the country will be banned until the start of November unless organisers can prove that social distancing measures and hygiene protocol can be met.
Earlier today, Live Nation announced the biggest concert Germany has seen since March, marking the return of large-scale events this autumn.
Return to Live will take place in September at the 54,000-capacity outdoor stadium, Merkur Spiel Arena in Düsseldorf.
Bryan Adams, Sarah Connor, Rea Garvey, The BossHoss, Michael Mittermeier and Joris will play to 12,000 seated fans, who’ll be required to follow a strict health and safety procedure.
Elsewhere, Bayreuth-based promoter Semmel Concerts is planning to invite 5,000 fans to open-air concerts at the Waldbühne amphitheatre in Berlin, in September.
This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.
MD Matt Schwarz leaves Live Nation GSA
Live Nation GSA’s managing director and COO, Matt Schwarz, is leaving the company after almost five years, he announced today.
“Today I resigned from [this] office as managing director with immediate effect,” Schwarz wrote in an email to colleagues this afternoon (19 February).
Schwarz has been MD and COO of Live Nation GSA (Germany, Switzerland and Austria) since September 2015, when the staff of his former employer, Marek Lieberberg Konzertagentur (MLK) joined the newly formed company. He was formerly VP of touring and festivals at MLK.
He was the keynote interviewee at Reeperbahn Festival last September, speaking about his career to date and changes in the German concert business.
“Live Nation and Matt Schwarz have mutually agreed to end their collaboration”
Schwarz’s current projects will be taken over by Live Nation GSA colleagues Carrie McNamara, Matias Muelas and Nastassja Roberts, the email continues.
“Live Nation and Matt Schwarz have mutually agreed to end their collaboration,” reads a statement from Live Nation GSA.
“Matt Schwarz has resigned as a managing director with immediate effect.
“Live Nation would like to thank Matt Schwarz for his successful work over many years.”
“There’s room for everybody”: Matt Schwarz talks LN GSA success
Matt Schwarz, COO of Live Nation Germany, Switzerland and Austria (GSA), was the keynote interviewee at Reeperbahn Festival on Friday 20 September, giving a wide-ranging interview to ILMC MD Greg Parmley on the company’s journey to date.
Schwarz, 38, joked that he is the “black sheep” in a family of teachers and doctors, starting his career working for a music magazine before joining Marek Lieberberg Konzertagentur (MLK), leaving to join the newly formed Live Nation GSA in 2015. “My birthday was on 31 August, and I joined Live Nation on 1 September 2015,” he explained. “We started out with 800 shows [annually] and now we’re on nearly double that, with a quarter of a million-euro turnover…”
Schwarz (pictured) told Parmley it was only a matter of time before the German market, long a stronghold of independent promoters, fell in line with the consolidation sweeping the rest of the global live music industry. “There’s a German idiom which translates to ‘change or die’,” he said. “The business and the world is changing, and you have to have awareness of that. The promoter business is the last to consolidate, after the record labels and the booking agencies.”
Why now? The ever-smaller margins on shows have played a key part, he continued: “When I started in the early 2000s I still remember 80/20 deals, and the generation before had 70/30, 60/40 and even 50/50 deals scrawled on the back of napkins…
“There’s room for everybody, and there always will be”
“But the pie isn’t getting any bigger, so there isn’t much space in the food chain to involve third parties. The music ecosystem is changing, and an oftentimes low-margin, high-risk business does not leave any room for third-party promoters, especially when you have your own boots on the ground. We have own offices in Hamburg, Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich, Vienna and Zurich as of now, and are able to fully self-promote our content.”
Schwarz said the biggest advantage to being part of a larger multinational group is the ability to combine US-directed global touring with local expertise.
“The importance of personal relationships is decreasing”, he explained. “It’s becoming a corporate business with some decisions and global plans made by the artists overseas: Live Nation, for example, can just buy a global tour.”
“But the artists need local operators on the ground that get the job done in the best possible way. Local expertise is important – one size doesn’t fit all. We are an artist-serving company that want to secure the highest possible standard to serve our clients and audience… local flavour is still very important in Germany, which is a very decentralised market, as well as in Switzerland, where they speak four languages.”
Schwarz also talked his involved with the Global Citizen Festival in Hamburg, which raised over US$650 million for charity, and his meditation practice (twice a day for 20 minutes apiece), to which he attributes his ability to easily switch between the “different worlds” of being both a senior exec and a father.
“Local expertise is important – one size doesn’t fit all”
He additionally touched on the recent warming of relations between the live and recorded music sectors, the latter of which is returning to growth as streaming grows in popularity.
“I think it’s got better. There were times before when it was tough for the labels, pre-streaming success,” he said. “Everyone looked at the live business as they saw there was money to be had – many labels even opened own in-house promoting shops – they just wanted to be involved. That’s changed as their business has become healthy again.”
Despite the squeezing of margins in live, Schwarz said there is still “definitely room for independent promoters” in the GSA countries. “There’s room for everybody,” he said, “and there always will be. It doesn’t even need to be a niche product.”
“And,” he concluded, “if they decide they don’t want to be independent, we are always happy to have a conversation!”
Live Nation partners with Motorworld Munich on the Zenith
Motorworld Munich, the owner of Munich’s the Zenith, has partnered with Live Nation Germany to upgrade and modernise the historic venue.
The 5,880-capacity Zenith, a former railway repair depot, has been at the centre of the Bavarian music scene for 20 years, having hosted shows by the likes of Adele, Muse, Rihanna, Pink, Kylie Minogue, No Doubt, Katy Perry and Lady Gaga.
According to Andreas Dünkel, president of the Motorworld Group, Arantxa Dörrie, managing director of Motorworld’s Munich office, and Live Nation Germany CEO Marek Lieberberg, Live Nation will leverage its expertise to “support modernising the venue”, along with growing the venue’s “concert and live entertainment business substantially”.
“It’s the perfect combination to turn the Zenith into a highly attractive, future-oriented concert and event venue”
The Zenith remains the property of Motorworld subsidiary Freimann Event, and will continue to be open to all event organisers, in addition to Live Nation projects.
“The concentrated power of the world leader in live entertainment, combined with our expertise as a real estate developer and operator, is the perfect combination to turn the Zenith into a highly attractive, future-oriented concert and event venue,” says Dünkel.
Lieberberg adds: “We want to leverage our portfolio and our worldwide network to contribute to strengthening the Zenith Munich as an essential venue for us and our artists.”
Rock in Rio Germany to bring the carnival to Dusseldorf?
German event management company Production Office has applied to stage the first Rock in Rio Germany next year, according to local media.
Production Office has written to the city’s lord mayor, Thomas Geisel, to ask permission to hold a Rock in Rio ‘mega-event’ in the new D.LIVE Open Air Park in August 2019, according to the Westfälische Rundschau. Rock in Rio was acquired by Live Nation – which has also produced domestic German editions of several of its other festival franchises, including Lollapalooza and Wireless – in May.
However, Production Office/Live Nation are likely to face stiff opposition from Dusseldorf city councillors, who recently succeeded in forcing the relocation of a planned open-air show by Ed Sheeran in the city over environmental concerns.
To the “amazement” and “boundless disappointment” of promoter FKP Scorpio, city officials from across the political spectrum, from conservative Christian Democrats to left-leaning Green and the Left party members, declared the concert at D.LIVE – which would have necessitated the chopping down of 104 trees – off limits, causing FKP to relocate to the Veltins Arena stadium in Gelsenkirchen.
Even if the new festival were to be greenlit, Michael Brill, the CEO of D.LIVE, is doubtful whether organisers could meet the August 2019 deadline, reports the Rundschau.
The festival is likely to face stiff opposition from Dusseldorf city councillors, who recently forced the relocation of a planned open-air show by Ed Sheeran
“Due to the presumed duration of the [approval] process, it is unlikely that it [the venue] will be available before summer 2020,” he says.
Opponents of the Sheeran show are also digging in their heels, with local Left leader Angelika Kraft-Dlangamandla confirming her party is still against any events that would lead to tree felling. While Production Office has reportedly offered to plant new trees, and assured the mayor all its events are “carbon neutral and sustainable”, “small trees do not” offset the damage caused by uprooting larger ones, according to Kraft-Dlangamandla.
Should it be approved, Rock in Rio Germany would take place in 2019, 2021 and 2023, alternating with Rock in Rio Lisbon, according to the application.
In addition to Rock in Rio Lisbon and its flagship event in Rio de Janeiro and, promoter Rock City formerly operated sister festivals in Spain and Las Vegas.
At press time, Live Nation had not responded to a request for comment.
Lieberberg on growth plans (and bribing the weather god)
Live Nation GSA president and managing director Andre Lieberberg has said the company is pursuing a strategy of “aggressive but organic growth” two years after its effective acquisition of Marek Lieberberg Konzertagentur (MLK).
MLK, said Lieberberg – the son of MLK founder Marek, who is now Live Nation GSA’s CEO – had a “conservative approach to growth” throughout the 13 years he worked there. “Marek always said, ‘We only do our own events,’” he told IQ editor Gordon Masson at Reeperbahn Festival today. “It wasn’t like we had a clear strategic path of having to grow for growth’s sake, or post increasing numbers every year. On the one hand that was a good thing, but also hindered you, to some degree, in being more aggressive and ballsy in what you can do.”
Both Lieberbergs left MLK in August to form new company Live Nation Concerts Germany, although the MLK name, assets and Rock am Ring/Rock im Park festivals stayed with CTS Eventim.
Lieberberg told Masson being part of an “American company listed on the stock exchange” is “of course very different to what we were used to” – but that Live Nation GSA (Germany, Switzerland and Austria) is a “more rounded company” than MLK: “We’re still a promoter but we’re also a media company – for example, we’ve just set up a sponsorship and brand partnerships division…
He said the company also has different attitude towards hiring. “All three MDs all Live Nation GSA agree on growth by staffing,” he explained. “Everyone had to be approved by Marek before, which has obviously changed.”
As for acquisitions, Lieberberg insisted LN GSA is “not going to buy up every festival in Germany” – “we wouldn’t have the money even if we wanted to,” he joked – “but certainly there are going to be more partnerships over the next five years.” The company made its first acquisition, of Openair Frauenfeld, in July, although, as is standard for Live Nation, founder Rene Götz will continue to run the festival.
He added that he “understands the concern from independents” (promoters) about Live Nation’s entry into the German market, “but I don’t see that we’re a threat to them. […] Since we became Live Nation we haven’t done anything to shrink anyone else’s output, or marginalise them in any way.”
Masson also asked about the Lieberbergs’ Rock am Ring festival, which was once again partially cancelled this summer, this time over after a terrorism scare, later revealed to be the result of a spelling error. In 2015 and 2016 festivalgoers were injured by lightning strikes, with the final day of the 2016 event called off altogether.
“We’re still looking for a way to bribe the weather god,” joked Lieberberg. “We’ve had four years of Murphy’s law” (the festival was forced to move in 2014 after a falling out between MLK and the Nürburgring racetrack), “so I’m hoping next year will be better!”
First Global Citizen Hamburg ‘surpasses all expectations’
Live Nation Europe president John Reid has hailed the success of yesterday’s Global Citizen Festival Hamburg, which marked the European debut for the UN-backed benefit concert series with performances by Coldplay, Shakira, Herbert Grönemeyer, Pharrell Williams and Ellie Goulding.
Held at the Barclaycard Arena (16,000-cap.) ahead of today’s G20 summit, the show was attended by more than 12,000 ‘Global Citizens’ – tickets aren’t for sale, with attendees instead earning entry through civic engagement – and aimed to earn commitments from world leaders “towards [tackling] some of the greatest global issues of our time, including the education deficit, global health security, gender equality and the refugee crisis”.
The show was also streamed live to millions around the world via broadcast partner ARD.
According to Global Poverty Project – the organisation behind the festivals, which also take place in the US and, for the first time last year, India – actions taken by supporters in the run-up to the event secured US$706 million worth of commitments to its goals.
“I’m deeply grateful for the achievements of the Hamburg Global Citizen Festival … which has hugely surpassed all expectations”
These include Germany maintaining its foreign aid budget at 0.7% of GNI, “to ensure no one is left behind”; Canada, Australia and the EU reaffirming $151m worth of commitments to polio eradication; and Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands and several charitable foundations committing more than $172m towards the She Decides movement, set up to counter US president Donald Trump’s ‘gag rule’ prohibiting the public funding of organisations which advise on abortion.
Reid says the show marked a “great night in Hamburg to launch the European campaign for a wonderful cause and movement” and offered his congratulations to “Hugh Evans [the founder of Global Poverty Project], Matt Schwarz [of Live Nation GSA] and the entire team.” (Live Nation was a partner of the event.)
Schwarz, COO of Live Nation in Germany, Switzerland and Austria, adds: “I’m deeply grateful for the achievements of the Hamburg Global Citizen Festival. I thank the entire Global Citizen organisation around Hugh Evans, and our Live Nation team, for their outstanding cooperation during this premiere, which has hugely surpassed all expectations.”