Italian industry rebukes gov over €222bn recovery
Italy’s live industry has admonished the government for failing to recognise ‘the cultural, economical and social importance’ of live music in its new recovery plan.
The ‘National Recovery and Resilience Plan’ (PNRR), totaling €222 billion, was presented to parliament on Monday (26 April) by president Mario Draghi.
Of the €222 bn, €6.7 bn has been allocated to culture with the aim to “increase the level of attractiveness of the country’s cultural and tourist system through the modernization of both tangible and intangible infrastructures”.
However, in the spending plan for culture, music venues (or theatres, as Italy prefers to call them) are only referenced once as part of a €300m bid to “promote eco-efficiency and the reduce energy consumption” in cultural venues.
Roberto De Luca, president of Live Nation Italy, told IQ: “I am very pleased about this PNRR but unfortunately, I do not find a single line regarding live music industry. This a terrible mistake as live music is a fundamental part of our culture, as well as an industry that has a huge economic impact on every territory where live music is happening.
“I do not find a single line regarding live music industry. This a terrible mistake as live music is a fundamental part of our culture”
“Live music has both direct and indirect effects. As an example, let’s look at what the FirenzeRocks festival means for Firenze. In 2019, it generated an economic impact of more than €40m as our audience spent between €300–500 per person on hotels, museums, restaurants and so on. Not just in Italy, summer live shows are happening in historic squares, castles, Roman and Greek amphitheaters, so I truly believe that is a driver for our own culture.”
Claudio Trotta, founder of Barley Arts and Slow Music, expressed similar disappointment to IQ: “I don’t see at all in this plan the recognition of the cultural, economical and social importance of live popular music and its industry. I don’t see any investment at all in new venues for music nor attention to professional training for the future generation.
“According to this plan, culture is important only if connected to the benefits that it creates for tourism and not for the citizens and the people. Culture is important by itself, not just when it’s used to draw tourism.
“On another note, I would love to see in this full plan a real and accurate attention to the biodynamic balance and not only some generic references to a digital, ecological and green transition.”
Vincenzo Spera, president of Italy’s live music association Assomusica, tells IQ he is particularly concerned about how the measures will affect the next generation.
“According to this plan, culture is important only if connected to the benefits that it creates for tourism”
“We currently do not know if and how the €6bn envisaged by the PNRR will be allocated to the live music sector. We are therefore very worried, especially because we believe that this could be a fundamental opportunity for socio-cultural aggregation at the European level.
“Obviously this does not concern, or should not only concern Italy, but all European countries, considering that music is the tool for the greatest socialisation and aggregation among young people. It is no coincidence that there is a measure called Next Generation. By continuing in this way, however, there is a risk that future generations will not derive any benefit from the envisaged measures but rather pay the price.
“We think that there is no better opportunity than this to realize some fundamental points which, especially following the pandemic, become particularly urgent: the first point [in the spending plan] concerns technological innovation, of which we are carriers and experimenters; the second point refers, instead, to the eco-sustainability of the live entertainment system and its ability to always attract new audiences to the territories, to discover new realities and to generate ‘green economy’, helping to enhance sites that are important from the point of view historical-architectural.
“The third point concerns the possibility of finally creating premises, structures and spaces of the future, conceived as they should be today, multifunctional, interactive and synergistic between the various genres of entertainment. The time has also come to create a physical and not just a virtual platform that can allow various European cultures to circulate in different countries.”
“The government propaganda is telling everyone that Italy is slowly getting back to a sort of normality but we still have restrictions”
Fabrizio Pompeo, Radar Concerti, tells IQ: “Yes, the headline of the news is great but going deeper into it, there is no such great news for the music business as nothing is coming directly to our industry. The €6bn is going to feed a very wide range of activities and not going to the music industry.
“The government propaganda is telling everyone that Italy is slowly getting back to a sort of normality but we still have restrictions which are making impossible arranging a concert. Not only the distancing procedures but we still have a curfew on from 10 pm to 5 am.”
As of Monday (26 April), eleven of the twenty Italian regions have been permitted to reopen music venues for capped and socially distanced concerts.
The eleven regions – including Lazio, Veneto, Piedmont, Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna – have been dubbed ‘yellow’ under the country’s colour-coded system of coronavirus restrictions and are now allowed to partially reopen.
Venues in the yellow zone can now reopen at 50% capacity, with no more than 500 people inside and 1,000 people outside – all of whom must observe one-metre social distancing. The 10 pm–5 am curfew is still in place.
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Coronavirus puts Italy’s live scene on lockdown
Coronavirus, which has been affecting the live entertainment industry in China and other Asian countries for the past few months, is now taking its toll on the Italian business, with all public events in the north of the country cancelled until Sunday 1 March.
Over 400 cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) have now been recorded in Italy, with towns in the country’s north placed in quarantine. Cases have also been reported in France, Germany, the UK, Austria, Croatia, Greece, Norway, Switzerland, Georgia and North Macedonia.
The cancellations of concerts in the affected regions, which include the cities of Milan, Venice, Bologna, Trieste and Turin, have cost the live industry an estimated €10.5 million. According to Vincenzo Spera, president of Italian trade association Assomusica, wider losses to the sector’s supply chain could reach as much as €20m.
Affected events include Venice carnival and concerts by Brit Award-winner Mabel, US rock band Algiers, UK rockers Procol HarumItalian and electronic act Tycho, as well as Italian artists Francesca Michielin, Nuclear Tactical Penguins, Negrita, Brunori Sas and Angelo Branduardi, among others.
The men’s and women’s Six Nations rugby ties between Italy and Ireland, set to be played in Dublin on 7 and 8 March, have also been postponed.
“The risk, in particular, is that many of the companies and promoters active in the local and regional territories will suffer a rapid collapse,” says Spera, noting how important the concert industry is to other sectors, such as tourism and hospitality.
“We represent one of the sectors most affected by this emergency and we find that there are still no measures in place that seem to take into account our reality.”
“The risk, in particular, is that many of the companies and promoters active in the local and regional territories will suffer a rapid collapse”
Artist manager Katia Giampaolo, who is also co-director of Bologna’s 2,000-capacity Estragon Club and organiser of the Botanique festival, tells IQ that over 7,400 musical and theatrical events have been postponed or cancelled in the past few days.
“This is without even knowing what will happen from 1 March,” says Giampaolo. “The real extent of the damage is innumerable, considering that no legislation supports independent activities and we have an entire industry that has no guarantee in these types of circumstances – hopefully the government does view this as a crisis for the entire music market.
“We are obviously aware that this is an extraordinary emergency,” adds Giampaolo, “so, despite the extreme difficulty, we are in solidarity with the government and with the prudent measures it is taking, to which we are adhering fully.”
A spokesperson for Live Nation Italy states that the authorities have given no information “regarding the shows scheduled after 1 March”, adding that although “the situation is getting better”, no long-term forecasts are possible.
Live Nation Italy is promoting upcoming shows in Milan by King Nun, Cage the Elephant, OneRepublic, Louis Tomlinson, Kelis, Rex Orange County and Avril Lavigne.
Photo: Harald Krichel/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0) (cropped)
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Criticism of Italy ticket law mounts after Sting ‘chaos’
Live Nation Italy has added its voice to the chorus of criticism surrounding Italy’s new named-ticket law, after a number of concertgoers were turned away from a delayed Sting show in Assago on Tuesday (29 October).
The show, at the Mediolanum Forum, near Milan, was the first promoted by Live Nation since the new regulations, introduced on 1 July, came into effect – and was therefore an “important test” of how the law would work in practice, says the company.
The answer? Not very well, according to Live Nation, who blamed the new legislation for the Sting show starting an hour late, after fans stuck in queues were unable to gain access to the arena.
The so-called named ticket law – designed to curb unauthorised resale – requires the purchaser’s name to be printed on tickets for all shows over 5,000 capacity, and concertgoers’ ID to match that name, to prevent tickets being sold on the secondary market. The Italian live music industry has consistently opposed the measure, warning of potential disruption and queues, and CTS Eventim’s TicketOne, Italy’s biggest ticket seller, said in September the law isn’t even effective, with tickets still widely available on the major resale sites.
Many people were also turned away from the Sting (pictured) show for having inadequate identification, or documents that didn’t match the name on their ticket.
Roberto De Luca, chairman of Live Nation Italy, says the company found itself in the “paradox that applying the law would lead to big disruptions, with the only solution being to violate it”.
“Of course we didn’t,” he says, “although we showed maximum flexibility and gave all possible assistance to the public.” Faced with huge queues, he continues, “even the police asked us to accept photocopied and scanned [ID] documents, which is not lawful.”
In addition to Live Nation and Eventim, criticism has been levelled at named tickets by Assomusica, the Italian concert promoters’ association, whose president, Vincenzo Spera, urges the government to reconsider the legislation for the sake of fans.
“One of the main concerns about the introduction of the new regulations, which we have always brought to the attention of the public, is the inconvenience caused by the new legislation,” comments Spera. “At an event of this magnitude [the Sting concert], where the spectators, being a weekday, arrive directly after work, huge delays are inevitable due to the need to carry out the checks required by law.”
Spera adds that Assomusica hopes the Italian parliament “will review the law by the end of the year”, taking into account “the many inconveniences and inefficiencies that occurred” at the Sting show. “Moreover, the phenomenon of secondary ticketing is far from being solved, and the authorities tasked with sanctioning the sites responsible have not yet taken adequate measures.”
“This law that penalises the public and punishes organisers, putting the live entertainment industry at risk”
Unfortunately for the industry, the incident appears to have strengthened the resolve of Sergio Battelli, the deputy who introduced the named-ticket law, who has hit out at Live Nation, describing as “pure madness” a private company “using the stage for a rally against a state law”.
“I would add that if Live Nation, which in the past few months has brought 60,000 people to the Olympic Stadium in Rome for the [pre-law] Ed Sheeran concert, has had difficulty in getting 10,000 spectators into the Assago Forum, the problem is not the law but the organiser,” he wrote on Facebook.
The industry, however, largely shares the view of De Luca, who adds: “If there were these problems on a concert for 10,000 people, it’s very serious – because it’s a test to see exactly what will happen with major shows such as festivals, and on long tours.”
“Live Nation therefore reiterates its utmost opposition to a law that penalises the public and punishes organisers, putting the live entertainment industry, which is a great cultural and economic resource for our country, at risk” reads a statement provided by Live Nation. “As demonstrated by other sectors, such as sports, and football in particular, we do not need named tickets to combat ticket touting.
“In fact, for [Sting], there were still copious amounts of tickets available on the secondary ticketing platforms.”
Living la vita De Luca
Like so many of his peers, Roberto De Luca’s path to the upper echelons of the live music business has not been the result of some carefully plotted plan, but rather a set of fortunate circumstances.
In 1976, Roberto launched one of Italy’s first commercial radio stations – Punto Radio 96 – but, like so many fledgling enterprises, he found it tricky to balance the books.
“I was doing the programming as well as selling advertising but the station was not making money, so I decided to do some live shows to try to pay some of the bills,” he recalls. “At the start, I was acting as a local promoter for Italian artists, but in 1980 I did a show with my first international artist, Carmel. And then I started working with the likes of Gianni Togni and Sergio Caputo, who I also managed, so my career in music started pretty quickly.”
His upbringing also involved music, although teenage rebellion hinted that sport was more compelling than performing. “I was playing classical piano from the age of about ten to 14, in my hometown, Novaro, but I was more into football,” explains the Juventus fan. “I remember having a ‘four-hands’ concert when I was to perform alongside a girl, and my mother warned me not to play football before the concert. I obviously ignored her and ended up playing the concert with stitches in my head.”
“I was playing classical piano from the age of about ten to 14, in my hometown, but I was more into football”
Other teenage musical memories aren’t quite so painful. “In 1970, I went on holiday with friends to Holland. We’d driven to Amsterdam in a blue Fiat 500 and were sleeping in a two- man tent in a campsite near a speedway track. In fact, we drove there via the Nürburgring and took the car around the track – the steam was pouring out of the car when we finished.
“But we went to see The Who and there are two things I remember about it: there was a man dressed all in white on stage – that was Pete Townsend; and the second thing was that there was a girl two rows in front of me who was completely naked.”
Stethoscopes to stages
That lesson in anatomy wasn’t to be his last. “I studied to be a doctor. My exam results were pretty good and I was looking to go into the research side of things.”
As a result, his move toward rock and roll, and the founding of Punto Radio, were brave steps. “It was a difficult conversation to have with my parents,” he says. “They were always very nice and very easy with me but they had basically given me three choices for a career: doctor, lawyer or engineer.
“My dad was a bus driver and my mother worked for the city council, but they wanted me to do something that would let me have a better lifestyle. So I think I disappointed them a bit… My father thought I was a car dealer because every time I visited them I was driving a different car.”
“There are so many wonderful individuals in this business, and you can always learn new things from them”
Landing himself a job working for established promoter Franco Mamone, De Luca was determined to maximise his entrepreneurial skills and grab a piece of the action. “The first company I was involved in owning was Prima Spectaculo. I had a 25% stake and Franco owned the rest: then, we had a similar relationship at InTalent.”
That pact with Mamone wasn’t to last, however, leading De Luca to launch Bonne Chance in 1985, putting him in direct competition with his former business partner. “I quickly found out that Bonne Chance wasn’t such a good name for the music business, so I changed it to Milano Concerti and I started working with lots of promising international acts at the start of their careers – people like Depeche Mode and Peter Gabriel, as well as artists like Bob Dylan, Van Morrison and Jovanotti, and the company just started to get bigger and bigger.”
Asked about mentors who helped him learn the ropes, De Luca points to “people I admired, like Miles Copeland with the Police, Ed Bicknell, Paul McGuinness, Ron Delsener and Bill Graham. I’d look at what they did and how they did it and try to do something similar. But I also learned a lot from other promoters like Thomas Johansson, Leon Ramakers and Marek Lieberberg.”
In terms of agents, he cites Pete Nash, Chris Dalston, Steve Hedges, Dave Chumbley, Barry Dickins, Rod MacSween and Martin Hopewell. “They were really good to me in the early days, as was Andy Woolliscroft, while Mike Greek and Emma Banks have always been amazing. And nowadays people like Michael Rapino, Arthur Fogel and Guy Oseary are interesting to follow, while I have learned a lot from Jonathan Kessler and I’m very good friends with David Levy.
“Roberto De Luca is one of the people who made the Italian business a little more predictable”
“There are so many wonderful individuals in this business, and you can always learn new things from them. Jon Ollier really impresses me, as do James Whitting, Adele Slater and Geoff Meall at Coda.”
Changing the Italian landscape
Talking to De Luca’s long-term business associates, the one accolade they all bestow upon him is his key role in transforming Italy into a bona fide touring market.
ILMC’s Martin Hopewell is typical. “Along with Claudio Trotta, Roberto De Luca is one of the people who made the Italian business a little more predictable,” says Hopewell. “It was the Wild West before Roberto and his peers helped to stabilise the market.”
ITB’s Rod MacSween agrees. “Italy has not always been the easiest market but Roberto and his great team make it a regular pleasure to play there,” he says, while Live Nation colleague, Arthur Fogel, notes, “Roberto has brought the highest level of organisation and professionalism to Italy. I have always relied on him for his expertise, great execution and without a doubt his sense of calm. He and his team are first rate.”
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Oak View Group announces first international arena
Oak View Group (OVG) has partnered with Live Nation to build and run a new entertainment and sports arena in Milan, Italy.
The project is Oak View Group’s first venue development outside the US, and follows the launch of the company’s London-based overseas division, OVG International, at the ILMC in March.
OVG announced today it has signed a head of terms agreement with property companies Risanamento and Lendlease to construct and operate the new arena, which will be privately funded and located in Milan’s new Santa Giulia neighbourhood. Though no official figures have been released, IQ understands the venue could have a capacity of up to 17,000 for concerts.
The Santa Giulia Arena will provide a significant boost to Milan’s bid for the 2026 Winter Olympic and Paralympic games, and would host the Olympics’ ice hockey tournament, according to OVG co-founder and CEO Tim Leiweke.
“We’re delighted to announce our first European partnership, bringing a state-of-the-art entertainment facility to Milan,” Leiweke comments. “The new arena will be an exciting addition for the city and an important part of hosting what would be an inspiring 2026 Winter Olympics.
“Oak View Group and Live Nation have years of experience working together and are the ideal partners to deliver and run the Santa Giulia Arena.”
The Santa Giulia Arena will compete with the 12,700-seat Mediolanum Forum in Assago, near Milan, which has served the city since 1990 and is one of two Italian members of the European Arena Association (EAA).
“We look forward to announcing more European partnerships soon”
An older open-air venue, the 10,000-capacity Arena Civica, which opened in 1807, is also capable of hosting concerts, as is the 80,000-cap. San Siro stadium.
Oak View Group, a venue development, advisory and investment company co-founded by former AEG CEO Leiweke and ex-Live Nation chairman Irving Azoff, launched in 2015.
In addition to arena development projects at the Key Arena in Seattle, Belmont in New York and the University of Texas in Austin, OVG runs the Arena and Stadium Alliance, an invitation-only association of of 28 arenas in the United States.
It also has a venue-management outfit, OVG Facilities, launched in 2017 following the acquisition of Pinnacle Venue Services, and a security arm, Prevent Advisors, and owns industry trade titles Venues Today and Pollstar, the latter which it bought the same year.
“We’re looking forward to working with Risanamento and Lendlease as part of their major regeneration project,” adds Leiweke, “and to announcing more European partnerships soon.”
Live Nation, Italian promoters acquitted in Viagogo case
A Milan court has acquitted Live Nation Italy executives and other Italian promoters of all wrongdoing in a secondary ticketing case, which alleged the companies profited from illegally inflating ticket prices.
Live Nation Italy president Roberto De Luca and general director Antonella Lodi have been cleared along with three further defendants: Mimmo D’Alessandro, chief executive of Tuscan promoter D’Alessandro e Galli, Viagogo site administrator Stephen Charles Roest, and Live Nation executive Corrado Rizzotto, formerly chief executive of Milan promoter Vivo Concerti. CTS Eventim acquired both D’Alessandro e Galli and Vivo Concerti last year.
The promoters had been accused of conspiring with controversial secondary ticketing platform, Viagogo, to remove tickets from the market and resell them at inflated prices, spreading “false information to cause an alteration of the market.”
Prosecutor Adriano Scudieri led the two-year investigation into the inflation of ticket sales for events including Bruce Springsteen and Coldplay shows.
“The worst part has been the attempt of some of my competitors to take advantage of the media hype surrounding the investigation and take artists from me”
The suspected inflation would have resulted in revenues from 2011 to 2016 of more than US$1.13 million.
The five defendants were also accused of “fraud against the state” for failing to pay taxes and performance royalties in full.
“Two very difficult years have now come to an end, but I am happy because our group has always worked with integrity,” comments De Luca.
“The worst part has been the attempt of some of my competitors to take advantage of the media hype surrounding the investigation and take artists from me. Luckily, our artists understood the situation and stood by us.”
D’Alessandro adds, “We have always trusted in the course of justice. Truth and justice, as they say, will prevail and the system reaffirmed the dignity of a hard-working group that has been dedicated to the promotion of music to the greatest number of fans possible.”
Fabrizio Pompeo joins Radar, announces new festival
Italian concert promoter Fabrizio Pompeo, most recently of Live Nation Finland, has joined Giorgio Riccitelli’s Radar Concerti as a partner.
Radar was founded in 2014 by Riccitelli after five years with Live Nation Italy, and has since grown to become one of Italy’s leading independent promoters, organising Italian shows by international acts including The xx, Foals, Grimes, Solange, Bonobo, Nothing but Thieves, M83 and FKA Twigs. It also acts as a booking agency for several up-and-coming Italian acts, including Coma Cose, Ketama 126, Hån and Lim.
As a senior promoter at Live Nation Finland, Pompeo promoted shows in Finland, the Baltics and Russia. He says by joining forces with Riccitelli, he hopes to help drive Radar on to even greater success.
“We believe our collaboration, experience and skills will help the company to grow faster in the market”
“Giorgio has done a great job with Radar,” Pompeo tells IQ, “which is now a well-established brand, focusing mainly on scouting for the best talent in both the domestic and the international indie-pop-electro scene.
“We believe our collaboration, experience and skills will help the company to grow faster in the market.”
Pompeo will be based in Milan, while Riccitelli remains in the company’s Rome office.
The first initiative by the Riccitelli-Pompeo partnership is the new Radar Festival, which will debut in Milan on 8–9 June.
RADAR concerti è davvero felice di presentare:RADAR FESTIVAL • 8-9 GIUGNO • MILANO • ITALYIT'S OKAY TO SMILE 🌈È…
The 5,000-capacity, four-stage event will have a “pop-electro-indie-trap-urban sound”, says Pompeo, who aims to “position the event in the international calendar of similar festivals”.
Radar Festival will be followed by a second new event, he adds, planned for Rome later this summer.
Ticketmaster launches in Italy
Ticketmaster has confirmed to IQ its long-rumoured expansion into Italy, with the world’s largest ticketing company today launching in the sixth-biggest live music market.
The launch of Ticketmaster Italia (ticketmaster.it), headquartered in Milan, follows the end of the exclusive long-term online partnership in Italy between Ticketmaster’s parent company, Live Nation, and CTS Eventim-owned TicketOne, which wrapped up this year and was replaced by an ongoing agreement.
Ticketmaster’s primary-market debut in Italy – it already has a presence in the secondary market with a local version of Seatwave – represents its third new venture in Europe in 2017 alone, following launches in Switzerland (with Tixtec) in August and the Czech Republic (via Ticketpro) in February.
“Italy [is] undoubtedly one of the world’s most vibrant and popular destinations for live entertainment and cultural events”
“We look forward to providing the best ticketing experience for clients, artists and fans across Italy – undoubtedly one of the world’s most vibrant and popular destinations for live entertainment and cultural events,” says Ticketmaster International president Mark Yovich.
“This was an organic move for the business. This is an exciting moment for fans of live music, theatre, sport and cultural events, not just in Italy, but across all our global markets as we continue our strategic expansion.”
In Live Nation Italy festival news, meanwhile, Firenze Rocks today announced Iron Maiden, Foo Fighters, Ozzy Osbourne and Guns N’ Roses as its 2018 headliners. Tickets for each show are on sale on 15, 16, 17 and 18 November, respectively, from ticketmaster.it.