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Gay Mercader honoured by Spanish government

Live Nation Spain’s Gay Mercader has become the first rock promoter to receive the gold medal for merit in the fine arts (la Medalla de Oro al Mérito en las Bellas Artes) from the Spanish government.

Born Lluís Jordi Mercader Aguilar in Barcelona in 1949, Mercader brought many household names to Spain for the first time, including The Rolling Stones (1976), Bruce Springsteen, Bob Marley (both 1980), Bob Dylan (1984), and Michael Jackson (1988).

In 1973, the Spaniard launched his own company, Gay & Company (later, Gamerco) which was bought by Live Nation in 2006, marking the live entertainment giant’s first foray into Spain.

The Spaniard’s company Gamerco (formerly Gay & Company) was bought by Live Nation in 2006

The purchase brought Mercarder, along with Pino Saggliocco and Roberto Grima, under the Live Nation umbrella.

Spain’s minister of culture and sports, Miquel Iceta, says that one of the reasons for Mercader’s nomination is his organisation of The Rolling Stones’ first concert in Spain, “which was quite an event and put [the country] on the map for the great concert tours of artists such as Bob Dylan, AC / DC or The Cure, among many others”.

In Mercarder’s 40-year career, he has staged nearly 3,400 concerts and counts Keith Richards, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith and Sting among his friends.


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Live Nation Spain’s Cesar Andion plots AMF sequel

Live Nation Spain’s Cesar Andion tells IQ he hopes to establish the Andalucía Music Forum as an annual event following its successful launch earlier this month.

The newest gathering for the international music industry in southern Europe debuted at the Albeniz Cinema in Málaga from 5-7 September, attracting 350 delegates and speakers.

Showcases were limited to acts from guest country Mexico, alongside local Andalucían talent.

“We are all super-happy with how everything turned out – it was exactly what I had in my mind when I was designing it,” says Andion. “The attendance was perfect for deep and friendly networking, as we wanted AMF to be a forum and not a big conference fair.

“The vibe was friendly, professional, easy-going, laid back and fun, and Málaga was the perfect spot as a gateway for Latin America in Europe and vice-versa. It’s very different to most of music conferences and we want to keep it that way in terms of the concept, vibe and style.”

“We are also planning another one in Madrid that will be completely different to AMF”

Andion says the biggest organisational challenges concerned the timing.

“We organised it all in just a few months and during the summer, which is quite a hard time to work because everyone is either on holidays or working on festivals,” he says. “But we have a great team with pros in Europe like Ruud Berends (Netherlands) and Ignacia Snadoval (Germany), Fabrizio Onetto and Malfi Dorantes from Mexico, and of course Esteban Ruiz and Erica Romero in Andalucía. The Mad Cool team worked really hard to make it happen and I am very thankful to everyone.”

And not only does Andion now have a sequel in the works, he also has his sights set on launching a sister conference in Madrid.

“We are also planning another one in Madrid that will be completely different to AMF,” he reveals.

AMF is part of the Andalucía Big by Mad Cool project, which also included the new 30,000-cap Andalucía Big Festival, held near Sacaba Beach from 8–10 September, with acts such as Muse, Jamiroquai, Years & Years, Glass Animals, Michael Kiwanuka, Wolf Alice, Franz Ferdinand and Aurora.

“It’s a very ambitious project and has been a total success”

“The project is ‘big’, as it is titled, because it has three ‘legs’ as we say in Spanish: the pro forum, the festival and a tour of Andalucían provinces,” explains Andion. “It’s a very ambitious project and has been a total success. Málaga deserved a big festival as it’s one of the coolest and most visited cities in Spain, but also because it’s the cultural and event capital of Andalucía.

“The festival had incredible vibe, I was really impressed with the audience, which was Spanish in majority but with great attendance of Brits.”

Mad Cool Festival and The Spanish Wave are also teaming up to promote Spanish talent at next week’s International Festival Forum (IFF), ILMC’s invitation-only event for music festivals and booking agents. The event will mark the culmination of a nationwide project to find the best emerging acts from Spain.

Three Spanish artists – Hickeys, Irenegarry and Pablo Drexler – were chosen from more than 500 applications and will perform at the Mad Cool Festival & The Spanish Wave Presents showcase at London’s Camden Assembly from 9pm on Wednesday (28 September).

Spain is the guest country for IFF 2022, which takes place in London between 27-29 September.


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Pino Sagliocco appointed UNWTO tourism ambassador

Live Nation Spain chair Pino Sagliocco has followed in the footsteps of the likes of Giorgio Armani and Lionel Messi in being unveiled as the United Nations World Tourism Organisation’s (UNWTO) newest special ambassador.

Italian-born Sagliocco, who will be tasked with championing tourism as a pillar of sustainable development and opportunity in the new role, was recognised both for his career as a promoter and for his support of UNWTO, as illustrated by his presence at the 112th session of its executive council in Tbilisi, Georgia, in 2020.

He received the honour from UNWTO secretary-general Zurab Pololikashvili at a ceremony at the MOM Culinary Institute in Madrid.

“Music and tourism are both powerful vehicles for bringing people together”

“Music and tourism are both powerful vehicles for bringing people together, to celebrate culture and to peace and understanding,” says Pololikashvili. “UNWTO is proud to welcome Pino Sagliocco into our growing family of ambassadors and l look forward to working closely with him to grow sustainable tourism, both in Spain and worldwide.”

Sagliocco has worked with music legends such as Prince, Elton John, Queen, Madonna, the Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney.

In 2017, Sagliocco was appointed a cavaliere (knight) of Order of the Star of Italy, an order of chivalry awarded to those who have boosted the profile of Italy abroad.

The knighthood, granted by the Italian president at the recommendation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, recognised what Caserto-born Sagliocco “has worked at ceaselessly for more than forty years: to keep Italian culture alive outside of Italy”.

Other career highlights included Sagliocco’s executive production of the Festival La Nit in 1988 – an event commissioned by the Barcelona 92 Olympic Organising Committee to celebrate the arrival of the Olympic flag to Barcelona.

The event included the official presentation of the song Barcelona by Montserrat Caballé and Freddie Mercury, with Sagliocco coming up with the idea to fuse the two styles and use the two artists.

Revisit IQ‘s feature on Sagliocco’s first 40 years in the music business here.


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Live Nation Spain spearheads industry benefit campaign

Live Nation Spain president Pino Sagliocco has galvanised some of the biggest names in the music, sport and film industries for a benefit campaign supporting the music industry.

Under the umbrella ‘The Carbonería del Siglo XXI’, Universal Music Spain, Sony Music Spain and Warner Music Spain have come together to re-record Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’ with more than 40 artists including Queen’s Brian May.

Renowed tennis star Rafa Nadal and film star Paz Vega are among the celebrities who appear in the video for the song, recorded in the studios of The Art House Records in Miami and produced by Grammy-award winner Julio Reyes Copello.

The stars that participated on the record will come together for a benefit concert

The single and the video were launched at a press conference hosted by the Live Nation Spain president in the Atletico de Madrid stadium last Thursday (15 April).

Following the success of the campaign, the stars that participated on the record will come together for a benefit concert as soon as the current Covid restrictions allows.

Sagliocco formed non-profit cultural association Carbonería del Siglo XXI to support and give voice to a sector especially devastated by the pandemic.

The associaton also comprises members of Es Música and Federación de Música, FPM Entertainment, the Latin Grammys and Lionfish Entertainment.


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Robert Grima: ‘We need the whole ecosystem to succeed’

As the worst year in the history of the live music business finally nears its end, IQ caught up with several industry leaders ahead of the new year, asking for their predictions for 2021, as well as the lessons they can take forward from 2020.

Here, Robert Grima, president of Live Nation Spain, speaks about the logistics of putting on 18 shows this summer while the pandemic raged, and why the industry must no longer take the live experience for granted when concerts return…

IQ: This year has been difficult, to put it mildly, but have there been any positive aspects you are taking forward from this annus horribilis?
RG: Yes, 2020 has also been a year of reflection and, especially, of cooperation in the live music sector. The sector has come together to give visibility to live music events as part of the culture and lives of many people, showing our professionalism and effectiveness and the efforts of promoters to give continuity to the sector, despite the circumstances.

How has news of the coronavirus vaccine news changed the conversations you are having with artists, management, promoters, festivals, etc.?
We as a global company are totally focused to getting back to the shows we all know and love, and there is a great focus on many ideas and protocols that will help us improve the service to fans and deliver a quick return.

Livestreamed shows have shown that fans will pay to see their favourite acts remotely. How do you imagine this technology might develop when regular touring activity resumes?
The impact of livestreamed shows in Spain has been similar to in other countries. Livestreaming has proved to be a good complement to live, and additionally can be a marketing add for our artists through these times.

It is a model that, in the future, can coexist with the live show as an additional offer for the fan in some cases, but the experience of a live show is unique and irreplaceable.

“Once we are all able to come back there is going to be incredible pent-up demand waiting on the other side”

What advice or encouragement can you give to those who were hoping to break through in 2020, knowing that the market is going to be overcrowded with onsales when the industry gets back to work?
Live is one of the best ways for artists to grow their engagement with fans, and once we are all able to come back there is going to be incredible pent-up demand waiting on the other side.

I would encourage them to focus on playing live, not stopping, even if it means performing with reduced capacity for longer, because it has been proven that fans respond and artists enjoy it. And it’s the best way for artist to maintain and grow their engagement with fans.

Despite the high numbers of Covid-19 cases in Spain, you were still able to host some Crew Nation events. How did you achieve this, and what challenges did you have to overcome?
Yes, we hosted 18 Crew Nation Presents shows in La Riviera over the summer with the aim of supporting and giving visibility to crews that work in live events. The shows were a great success. Artists love playing live, and the fans got to go to shows in a summer when, in many places, live music was on pause. Additionally, and really importantly, the crew were supported by the events at a really hard time, looking after the whole ecosystem of live.

This was all made possible because we collaborated closely with the local authorities and adapted protocols to the new regulations, which have been effective and used throughout the series.

As Spain/Portugal are often either the first or last dates of European tours, do you think the Spanish market’s return to business will be different to other territories around the world?
No, it does not have to be different. Fans continue to await concerts with the same enthusiasm, and Spain will continue to be an attractive country for artists. I actually believe that there will be a boost in the live sector once we get back.

“I hope that from next year we all can be in the moment and grateful for every show we get to be a part of”

The way various rival firms have cooperated and collaborated for the common good during the pandemic has been impressive. What hopes do you have that closer industry bonds can continue post-Covid-19?
My hope is that once and for all we can cooperate together in all moments, not only in difficult ones. What we have really seen is that the live industry is an ecosystem and we need all of it to succeed.

What do you think the biggest challenges are going to be for Live 2.0, and how do you think industry leaders can best guide the business as things reopen?
We have spent the summer working hard with local authorities to guarantee artists, fans and crews that the concerts are taking place in a safe environment. This is what promoters and artists across the world will be focusing on, and what we have proven so far to be possible. The parameters may continue to change but we will, as always, work with local authorities and health advisers to get as many artists in front of their fans as possible.

With the Crew Nation Presents shows we demonstrated that not only promoters are taking the new restrictions seriously, but that the fans are, too. I think that’s the best sign of things to come once we can fully reopen.

Finally, are there any bad habits the industry had that you are hoping might disappear when normality returns?
It’s easy to get swept up in the day to day, and I hope that from next year we all can be in the moment and grateful for every show we get to be a part of. Let’s not ever take live music for granted.


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Spanish promoters react to sweeping restrictions

Spain’s live music sector is reckoning with a whole host of new restrictions imposed by the Spanish government and its various communities.

Earlier this week, prime minister Pedro Sánchez and his cabinet declared a six-month state of emergency, set to remain in force until 9 May, with periodic reviews.

The decree will allow Spain’s regional governments to order an overnight curfew to run from 11 pm to 6 am, or to begin and finish an hour earlier or later.

Yesterday (29 October), Catalonia went one step further, ordering the suspension of cultural activities for 15 days, starting from today.

“After some months of lockdown, postponing or cancelling all shows, we had a slight restart with many restrictions and reduced capacities,” says Albert Salmerón of Producciones Animadas.

“And now with the current situation, we have to postpone again the new shows we were programming following all the health and safety rules of the new normality. This means that we will have to keep our companies without any income for a very long time. This is a terrible situation and it’s essential that the Spanish government makes a plan to save the live music industry providing enough budget to cover costs of this lockdown and of the cancellations of shows.

“The expectations were not good but now they are even worse”

Juan Antonio of rock and metal promoter Madness Live agrees, adding that the new measures present a “very hard situation”.

“The expectations were not good but now they are even worse. For Madness Live and so many other companies in the music industry in Spain, which only work with international artists, it’s almost impossible to do anything. Since 11 March we were not able to organise any concert and unless the situation changes drastically, we think it would take much longer,” says Antonio.

“In the end, I think the governments will have to allow us to work coexisting with the virus… How? I don’t know. Maybe when the vaccine is out there for the most vulnerable part of the population, with the fasts tests or a cure. But until then, many employments will be – are being – destroyed, many venues will close and many promoter/booking/management offices will close. Unfortunately, the light at the end of this long tunnel is still far for us.”

Robert Grima, president at Live Nation Spain, however, is determined to charge ahead, working around the restrictions.

“The curfew does not affect the current situation for shows with reduced capacities at seated clubs and theatres, and therefore we will keep working on shows at that level. I am optimistic as concerts and events have not been a point of transmission and we are working with health authorities for test shows to certificate and create protocols to get back to the business asap,” says Grima.

“Unfortunately, the light at the end of this long tunnel is still far for us”

Neo Sala, founder and CEO at Doctor Music, suggested the new restrictions may even have a “positive effect”.

“The current state of emergency is much softer than the one applied last spring as it does not allow the government to lock down the population at home. It does not make any difference as “real concerts” – those with full capacities and no social distancing were not allowed anyway, even without the state of emergency.

“In fact, in the long term, it could have a positive effect for the live music industry as the more contained the people have been, the more hunger there will be for live entertainment when the Covid crisis is over. Our team is going through this situation together and with good spirit, ready to rock as soon as we can,” Sala concludes.

Es Música, the national federation, estimated that the losses in the live music sector due to the pandemic could exceed €1.2m after a year. While The International Monetary Fund recently said that Spain will be one of the developed countries worst affected by the Covid-19 crisis.


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Madrid shows raise €150,000 for Crew Nation

Live Nation Spain’s ‘Crew Nation Presents…’ concert series drew to a close on Friday night after having raised more than €150,000 in support of touring crew and staff.

Announced in June, Crew Nation Presents… invited a host of Spanish artists perform at Le Petit Garage, at Madrid venue La Riviera, from mid-July until Friday 25 September, when violinist Ara Milikian and pianist Iván ‘Melón’ Lewis brought the series to end.

Over 7,000 fans saw the 19 concerts, which – in addition to supporting 80 jobs for crew, production and security – raised over €150,000 for Live Nation’s Crew Nation relief fund through a €1 levy on each ticket.

“Live Nation Spain would like to thank everyone who has worked with us to make these shows possible during these unprecedented times,” says the promoter, including “the authorities who have worked with us to keep everyone safe and offer a #culturasegura [#safeculture]” and “the great team who have worked to make these shows as amazing as they have been”.

Organisers also thank “all the artists – 84, Ara Malikian, Belako, Bely Basarte, El Kanka, Fuel Fandango, Guitarricadelafuente, ISEO, IZAL, María Peláe, Miss Caffeina, Mr Kilombo, Muchachito, Pol Granch, Rayden, Triángulo de Amor Bizarro, Tu Otra Bonita, Varry Brava and Xoel López – who have trusted in this initiative, and, finally, all the fans who behaved in an exemplary manner at each and every one of the concerts.”


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Music will bring us back 2gether 4ever

I had a dream…

It started as a nightmare where a cruel and strange monster threatened everyone, spreading terror and silence through the streets. Time stood still for everyone, separating each one of us from those around us, turning each household into a refuge.

But it turned into a pleasant and unexpected dream, where every home, even the smallest, became a place of salvation.

In my dream, people stayed in their homes, reading and listening to music, watching shows on TV or simply relaxing. Parents started to play with their children once more, and people sung from their balconies to the streets below.

In my dream, we gradually learned to live a different way of life, a simpler and more sincere way, one where we all learned to value the most important things in life: a hug, dinner with friends, going out for a stroll with nowhere in mind.

In my dream we all took stock in our own ways – some of us meditated, others prayed, some danced and some of us looked to our inner selves.

Music brings the harmony that rids us of our differences

People started to think in a different way.

We had started to do things that had no reason, sometimes with no heart or soul in our actions, each unto their own. And now, by some strange twist, life was was gifting us a clean palette to start again, this time with a conscious awakening.

Faced with danger, it was time to open our souls and start along a new path.

We were devastated by the passing of those who fell by the wayside, sad for the loss of them and for their families…

It was inevitable that we should look inside ourselves to find out who we are, from where we came – all a necessary part on the journey towards where we wanted to go.

In my dream we were able to cleanse ourselves – both individually and the world around us – and we finally made it happen.

Music was our constant companion. It was music that helped us feel close to those around us, music that freed us from fear and brought sweet memories back to everyone.

We will emerge from this stronger; I’m sure of this

Music that can make us dream and fly…

Music, and live music especially – more necessary now than ever before – will help us release our emotional power, the ability to cry, to laugh, to fill our hearts with hope and belief, sure of the fact that we will build a future that is more fair and more just and where we will all find our place in the world. Music brings the harmony that rids us of our differences.

We will emerge from this stronger; I’m sure of this.

We will emerge as new beings, out of this tragic storm.

Now is the time to fight our fears, to be strong and stand united.

Between us, we will begin to enjoy our space under the sun again, in a world that will be deeper, more real, where we will embrace solidarity and shared values.

Music will bring us back 2gether 4ever.

+ While the international concert industry self-isolates, do you have any thoughts or ideas you’d like to share with your colleagues around the world? Please email [email protected] with submissions


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Strong start for Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia

Dua Lipa sold more than 15,000 tickets in a single morning yesterday (6 December) when the Spanish leg of her Future Nostalgia European arena tour went on sale, according to promoter Mercury Wheels.

The Spanish dates, beginning at the 15,500-capacity WiZink Center in Madrid on 26 April, mark the start of the tour, which will visit more than 20 European cities before wrapping up at 3Arena in Dublin on 19 June.

In addition to WiZink Center, Lipa (pictured) will play the Palau Sant Jordi (17,000-cap.) in Barcelona two days later, on 28 April.

In addition to WiZink Center, Lipa will play the Palau Sant Jordi Barcelona two days later, on 28 April

A share of all proceeds from tickets sold will go to Unicef and the Sunny Hill Foundation, set up by Dua and her father Dugi in Kosovo.

The Lipas were the keynote interviewees at the inaugural Futures Forum at ILMC this March, where they spoke about the foundation, Dua’s career so far and using Dua’s platform to help her fans and other young women.

Dua Lipa: ‘Women have to work harder to be heard’

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Pino Sagliocco: 40 years in the music business

Just how do you organise a surprise feature for the shrewdest, most organised man in the music business?

It began when Pino Sagliocco took part in the Think Tank at ILMC 30 and a number of “accidental” meetings and conversations since: lunch, drinks and enough scribbled notes to fill a book. But as we go to press, Pino is still blissfully unaware of our birthday/work anniversary surprise, so thank you to each and every one of you who managed to keep this secret.

It’s somewhat ironic that Spain’s most popular promoter is an Italian. Born in the village of Carinaro on the outskirts of Naples, in 1959, Pino contends that he never really fitted in.

“I was an alien in my own village,” is how he describes his childhood. “I was pretty good at school but I had no passion for it and I became used to just sitting in class and reading by myself. I was tall and looked a lot older than I was and I simply didn’t belong in my village any more,” is his explanation of why he left home at just 12 years old.

Setting off on his adventures, Pino simply walked to the village railway station with no clothes other than the jeans and t-shirt he was wearing and boarded the first train. When the train stopped, he found a hotel next to the station, asked for a job and began his working life carrying luggage for guests. Next, he found himself selling fruit in the local market, building the foundations of what would become a highly successful entrepreneurial career.

Making Friends with Folk
“At the age of about 15 or 16 I joined a hippy community and entered an alternative cultural world,” he says. It was in this environment that he started to become involved in music, organising concerts and events for the likes of The Chieftains and other folk acts.

“Franco had recently died and the city of Barcelona was just full of energy, so it was an exciting time and place to be”

Then, as is the case in so many epic tales, along came a girl. “She was from Barcelona, so at the age of 18, I moved to Spain,” he recalls. “Franco had recently died and the city of Barcelona was just full of energy, so it was an exciting time and place to be.”

Now, with a growing appetite for promoting, Pino set about building his business, starting out with a show by Celtic harp legend Alan Stivell using a local Barcelona church as a venue. “I wanted to do things that nobody had done before, so everything had to be a bit different to make the experience special – I remember doing shows with Greek singer Georges Moustaki, who was the boyfriend of Edith Piaf.”

Interested in anything avant garde, Pino found himself falling in love with Studio 54 in Barcelona and, exercising his legendary powers of persuasion, cajoled the club’s owners into allowing him to put on similarly branded events in Ibiza and Madrid.

“At the time, all the bands that were coming to Spain were big and established acts – Guy Mercader had the likes of The Stones etc, sewn up. But I got bands like ABC, Spandau Ballet, Talk Talk, Imagination, Simple Minds and Sade to start coming to Spain when they were still relatively unknown,” says Pino.

Having established Ibiza as his second home, one evening Pino bumped into Queen drummer Roger Taylor in one of the island’s nightclubs. “It was 1985 and Roger was kind enough to introduce me to the band’s manager, Jim Beach, and on the back of that, I got to work on the Magic Tour.”

Pino’s association with Queen and iconic frontman Freddie Mercury started there. The Queen tour broke the mould in Spain, as it visited the country in August, a month when everything traditionally closes down for holidays. Anxious that the three dates in Barcelona, Madrid and Marbella would flop, Pino convinced Mercury to do a press interview ahead of the first show – something that the singer rarely did – and the result was three massively successful nights.

“I wanted to do things that nobody had done before, so everything had to be a bit different to make the experience special”

“Around the same time, I was getting an idea to do something big for television in Ibiza and one night I was hanging out with a Spanish band at my house when an interview with Queen was shown on TV that I had never seen before. During the programme, Freddie was asked if there were any Spanish artists he would like to work with and he mentioned the opera star, Monserrat Caballé.”

Following much collaboration with Jim Beach, Pino managed to arrange a meeting between the two singers on 24 March 1987 at a hotel in Barcelona, where Mercury brought along a demo of a song he had co-written in the hope Cabellé would agree to record a duet with him.

“On 29 May they opened my Ibiza 92 show with the premiere of the song ‘Barcelona’ – it was magical,” says Pino, adding that acts also on the bill for that TV extravaganza from the White Isle included Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, Chris Rea, Poison, Nona Hendryx, Marillion and Spanish acts Hombres G and E Último de la Fila.

“The TV show was seen in 31 countries worldwide and the collaboration between Monserrat Caballé and Freddie Mercury was a huge hit. They performed together for the last time in 1988 when they sang the song to celebrate the arrival of the Olympic Flag in Barcelona from Seoul.

“I had been asked to organise something for the occasion, so they performed to 100,000 people in front of the Fountains of Montjuïc and shared a stage with Spandau Ballet, Eddie Grant, Jerry Lee Lewis and Suzanne Vega, as well as Rudolf Nureyev and flamenco dancers, with Freddie and Monserrat closing the show. It was amazing – I won a gold medal for the show, which I like to joke was the first gold given for the Barcelona Olympics.”



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