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Live Nation selected for new Cardiff arena

Live Nation has been identified as the preferred bidder to manage a new 15,000-capacity indoor arena in Cardiff.

The new venue, which will become Live Nation’s second arena in the Welsh capital, will cost around £150 million to build and, it is hoped, attract more than 1m visitors and an estimated £100m into the local economy annually.

A Live Nation-led consortium – which also includes venue company Oak View Group (OVG) and property firm Robertson – was behind one of two offers to Cardiff Council, which was seeking a private-sector partner to “deliver a top-tier UK venue that that will enable events of all sizes to be hosted in the city.”

Live Nation also operates the 5,000-capacity Cardiff International Arena (formerly Motorpoint Arena Cardiff), as well as converted warehouse venue Titan Warehouse. OVG, meanwhile, is currently constructing a new arena, Co-op Live, in Manchester, England.

Russell Goodway, Cardiff Council’s cabinet member for investment and development, says: “The city’s strategy is to establish the Cardiff Arena as a top-tier UK arena and to make it the premier arena in the south-west region of England and Wales.”

“Our combined experience in the delivery and operation of facilities of this nature will result in a world-class facility”

A rival arena in Bristol, in south-west England, YTL Arena, is now expected to open in 2023, after years of delays. It was originally due to open in 2018, with SMG Europe (now ASM Global) managing, but is now under construction at a new site.

According to Cardiff Council leader Huw Thomas, the council will commit less than 15% of the arena’s cost, with the remaining 85%+ of capital investment coming from the council’s private-sector partners.

In a joint statement, Live Nation, Oak View Group and Robertson say: “We are delighted to have been announced preferred bidder today to deliver the new Cardiff arena. We look forward to working in partnership with Cardiff Council to bring this ambitious vision to life over the next few years.

“Our combined experience in the delivery and operation of facilities of this nature will result in a world-class facility that will bring economic benefits to the entire region, both during its construction and for many years to come once it’s open. In 2021 we will embark on the next phase of the planning process, which will provide the wider community the opportunity to see our exciting proposals for the site.”

 


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Live Nation, AEG report UK gender pay gap stats

Several UK-based live music businesses have voluntarily reported their most recent gender pay gap (GPG) statistics.

Despite the government ruling early into the Covid-19 pandemic that companies do not have to meet the deadline this year, Live Nation UK, AEG Europe and Ticketmaster UK have shared their pay gap data for the 12 months from 5 April 2019.

From 2017, all companies in mainland Britain with more than 250 employees have been required to report their GPG – defined as the “difference in the average hourly wage of all men and women across a workforce” – for the previous year to the government equalities office.

However, with that requirement on hold amid the coronavirus pandemic, many of the companies which appeared on last year’s list, including SMG/ASM Global, Academy Music Group, NEC Group, DHP Family and PRS for Music, have not reported their statistics this year. Global, meanwhile, is no longer in the festival game, and its successor entities do not hire more than 250 people.

This article will be updated if any of the companies that are missing add their GPG reports at a later date. For now, though, here are pay gap statistics – as well as links to the full reports – for the four companies which voluntarily met the original deadline…

 


Live Nation (Live Nation (Music) UK Ltd)

Pay gap (mean): 44.5% (-44.3%)
Pay gap (median): 25.7% (+11.7%)

Live Nation UK slashed its mean pay gap (the difference in average hourly wage across the entire company) to 44.5% in 2019–2020 – the lowest figure since GPG reporting began in the UK in 2017. However, its median GPG (the gap between the middle-paid man and middle-paid woman) grew slightly.

Women occupy 36% of the highest-paid jobs and 72% of the lowest-paid jobs, while median bonus pay is 41.2% lower for women.

 

Ticketmaster (Ticketmaster UK Ltd)

Pay gap (mean): 25.9% (-41.1%)
Pay gap (median): 28.9% (+25.7%)

At Ticketmaster, it’s a similar picture to parent company Live Nation, with a drastic reduction in the mean GPG but a slight widening of the median gap. At 25.9%, the pay gap across the entire organisation is also the narrowest it’s ever been.

Women occupy 21% of the highest-paid and 43% of the lowest-paid jobs; on average, women’s bonus pay is 32% lower than men’s (on a median basis).

 

AEG (Anschutz Sports Holdings Ltd)

Pay gap (mean): 34.5% (-20.9%)
Pay gap (median): 39% (+6%)

In the most recent 12-month epriod, AEG Europe had a mean pay gap of 34.5% (down 20.9% on 2018’s 43.6%), meaning the UK’s big two live entertainment companies both reported their lowest average GPGs since reporting began.

At AEG UK, women occupy 34% of the best-paid jobs and 59% of the lowest-paid jobs, while women’s median bonuses are 15.6% lower.

 

PPL PRS (PPL PRS Limited)

Pay gap (mean): -9.6%
Pay gap (median): -16.8%

Performance rights organisation PPL PRS Ltd, a joint venture between PRS for Music and PPL, had a negative gender pay gap – or a GPG in favour of women – in 2019/20.

Women occupy 49.1% of the highest-paid jobs and 27.3% of the lowest-paid, while a bonus gap of 0% means men and women take home the same average bonus pay.

 


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Thank you, Black Out Tuesday

Black Out Tuesday was created by Jamila Thomas, senior director of marketing at Atlantic Records, and Brianna Agyemang, the senior artist campaign manager at Platoon. Tuesday 2 June 2020 saw business as usual halt in solidarity for black lives.

The entire world was shaken by the inhumane loss of George Floyd. Sadly he is not the only one whose life has been stolen at the hands of police brutality and racism – there are hundreds more, including recent cases Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. This had an effect on the black community I personally have never seen in my lifetime. Over the last week or so, I have seen and felt a sense of togetherness and support for black people, which we deserve… it is about time.

For me, Black Out Tuesday was a day of reflection and homage, and an opportunity to encourage a profound, uninterrupted level of education within our respective organisations. We used the opportunity to have an open dialogue, amplify black voices, address imperfections in our own policies, and discuss next steps towards tackling prejudice, discrimination and the outright racism black people are forced to endure.

Without this day, a lot of us wouldn’t have been able to gain the attention of our non-black counterparts; we wouldn’t have been able to open the dialogue with the same altitude of poise and tenacity.

Failure to address these key issues makes you complicit

So, what are the next steps?

The issues have been identified – now it’s time to present the facts. Where are your ethnicity pay gap and employee satisfaction reports? If they don’t exist, now is a good time to populate that data and work towards a safer space for black employees. Data is an extremely important tool and necessary for change.

If you have the capacity to roll out anti-racism training, do so. Educate where possible, and call out racist behaviour, because failure to address these key issues makes you complicit.

If you’re reading this and you’re an executive, a business owner, a manager, a CEO, a founder or anything in between, please ask yourself, “What can I do to spark change? What can I do to make sure my company policies reflect the black square I posted on Tuesday?”

This isn’t a gimmick: systemic and institutionalised racism affects people’s lives, and you have a duty of care.

This is a battle we have been fighting since the beginning of time and will continue to fight until there is real change. If Black Out Tuesday taught me anything, it’s that there is strength in numbers.

 


What else can you do?

Watch

Jane Elliot: Blue-eyed/brown-eyed experiment
Jane Elliot, an anti-racist activist and educator, devised this experiment following the assassination of Martin Luther King.

BFI collection: Black Lives
Portraits of public and private lives against the shifting social climate of 20th-century Britain.

BBC documentary: Will Britain Ever Have a Black Prime Minister?

Unfiltered with James O’Brien: Akala deconstructs race and class

BBC documentary: The Secret Windrush Files

 

Read

Reni Lodge: Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race

Afua Hirsh: Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging

Ibram X. Kendi: How to Be an Antiracist

Ijeoma Oluo: So You Want to Talk About Race

Robin DiAngelo: White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard For White People to Talk About Racism

Michelle Alexander: The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

 

Donate

Black LGBTQIA Therapy Fund

Support RECESS

Women Connect
A collective creating safer, all-inclusive spaces, good fortune and equal opportunities for women and non-binary folks in the creative industry.

Black Ticket Project
Award-winning initiative creating cultural access points for black young people.

Exist Loudly Fund to Support Queer Black YP

 


This article originally appeared in issue 90 of IQ Magazine (July 2020). Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

LN-Gaiety’s purchase of MCD cleared by CMA

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has cleared the acquisition of Ireland’s MCD Productions by the UK-based Live Nation-Gaiety joint venture, after finding last month the merger does not raise competition concerns in Britain.

The UK competition watchdog referred the merger for an in-depth, ‘phase-2’ investigation, after finding the coming together of Live Nation and MCD could lessen competition in Northern Ireland.

However, the findings of the phase-2 inquiry said the opposite: that the merger is “not likely to raise competition concerns, as Live Nation would not be expected to have the incentive to harm rival music promoters by making it harder for them to sell tickets through Ticketmaster”.

“Having consulted on this provisional finding”, the CMA today (19 December) confirms the merger has been cleared.

“Having consulted on” its provisional findings, the CMA has formally cleared the merger

LN-Gaiety Holdings – a joint venture between Live Nation UK and Denis Desmond’s Gaiety Investments – announced last August it planned to acquire Desmond’s company MCD Productions. Cork-born Desmond succeeded John Probyn as Live Nation’s chairman in the UK and Ireland in 2015, although MCD – founded by Desmond and Eamonn McCann in 1980, and now co-owned by Desmond and his wife, Caroline Downey – remained independent of Live Nation/Gaiety.

The company is one of the big two promoters and venue operators in the Irish republic, alongside Peter Aiken’s Aiken Promotions.

The LN-MCD merger has already been cleared by the CCPC, the CMA’s counterpart in the Republic of Ireland.

 


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Scott Barton to lead LN UK’s Electronic Nation

Live Nation has launched Electronic Nation, a new electronic music-focused division, in the UK.

Led by Scott Barton, managing director of Live Nation’s Cream brand, Electronic Nation will be based in London and will be responsible all electronic music activities at Live Nation UK, including the Creamfields festival, touring, shows and clubs.

Creamfields (70,000-cap.), launched in 1998, is one of the biggest electronic music events in the world, and has spawned spin-offs Chile, Abu Dhabi, Ibiza, Malta, Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Australia and Hong Kong. Taking place in Cheshire over the last weekend in August, 2019 performers include Swedish House Mafia, Calvin Harris, Tiesto, Skrillex, the Chemical Brothers and the Chainsmokers.

The Creamfields also birthed Steel Yard, a 15,000-capacity arena structure which hosts shows by the biggest names in dance music in London and Liverpool.

“This new division is a major advance for Live Nation and for artists and acts in this genre”

“With Scott’s outstanding record managing global brands Cream and Creamfields, this new division is a major advance for Live Nation and for artists and acts in this genre,” comments Denis Desmond, chairman of Live Nation UK and Ireland.

Barton – whose older brother James, co-founder of Cream, now leads fast-expanding European festival operator Superstruct – says he hopes to drive Live Nation’s  “continued expansion into the electronic arena, with the aim of connecting big-name dance acts to more fans across the UK through tours and festivals”.

“Electronic music has always been at the heart of what we do,” he says. “We have a dedicated team who work hard to connect fans to electronic music events across the UK. As the scene continues to grow, the knowledge and experience we have is key to our success.”

Live Nation formed a similar division in east Asia, Live Nation Electronic Asia, in August 2017.

 


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Mixed picture as UK biz reveals 2018/19 gender pay gap

For the second year running, the UK live music business has revealed its gender pay gap (GPG) statistics, showing a mixed picture in which strides are being made towards gender equality, but where female employees are still vastly outnumbered by their male colleagues at an executive level.

All companies in mainland Britain with more than 250 employees were given until 5 April 2019 to report their gender pay gap – defined as the “difference in the average hourly wage of all men and women across a workforce” – for the previous 12 months to the government equalities office. Companies also published data on bonuses and the breakdown of employees’ genders by pay quartile. (Read last year’s results here.)

While it should be noted that GPG measures the difference between men’s and women’s average earnings across a whole business – rather than the pay received by male and female employees for doing the same job – all companies surveyed by IQ reiterated their goal of narrowing the gap ahead of next year’s survey and beyond.

See below for how nine of the UK’s largest live music businesses stacked up in 2018/19.

“We are committed to narrowing the gap over time in our business”

Live Nation (Live Nation (Music) UK Ltd)

Pay gap (mean): 80% (+18%)
Pay gap (median): 23% (-8%)

Live Nation UK’s mean GPG is the widest of the nine companies featured, growing 18%, to 80% (though its median gap narrowed), in 2018 – a reflection, says president Denis Desmond, of the under-representation of women in the wider music industry, especially in the upper echelons.

Writing in LN’s 2018 gender pay gap report, Desmond says the company is “committed to increasing women and diversity in our workforce and being an inclusive environment where everyone can succeed”.

“Women are under-represented in the music business. The gender pay gap is reflective of this, particularly with more men in the revenue-generating roles at the higher end of the salary scale,” he comments.

“This is something we want to see change. Real change requires a dual and sustainable approach; increasing awareness of the career opportunities available and ensuring we do all we can to develop and retain the women already making the industry such an important contributor to the wider UK economy.

“We are committed to bringing more women into our workforce through promoting all types of career options, and particularly helping influence young people to consider our industry. Alongside this we are creating more apprenticeships and internships designed to give people real skills needed to enter this business for a long-term and fulfilling career.”

Desmond reveals Live Nation recently conducted a “job levelling review across the UK” as part of an overhaul of its approach to reward and compensation decisions, in a bid to boost fairness. “Our robust policies and training programmes ensure that we are continually working to ensure no bias exists in our recruitment processes and ensuring we provide full support to all employees in balancing their family lives with the unique demands of the music business,” he continues.

“We see gender pay gap reporting as an opportunity to increase awareness of these challenges and are committed to narrowing the gap over time in our business.”

“Progress is being made, with 75% of all appointments at head of department level and above awarded to female candidates”

AEG/The O2 (Anschutz Sports Holdings Ltd)

Pay gap (mean): 43.6% (+0.3%)
Pay gap (median): 36.8% (-4.4%)

AEG declined to comment on its 2018 gender pay gap, though it made its report available on Monday 8 April.

While its mean GPG widened slightly, its median gap fell by 4.4%, and there are a slightly more women in two pay quartiles – the top (28%, +2%) and lower quartiles (66%, +1%) – compared to 2017. The percentage of women who received bonus pay was flat at 22%, compared to 7% more men (39%).

“Despite having a fairly even split of male to female employees overall, our gender pay gap is significant and we have more work to do to remove this,” writes AEG Europe president Alex Hill. “This gap is created by a higher proportion of women than men in our lower-paid roles and more men than women in our higher-paid roles.

“Our gender pay gap is not acceptable and we must make even greater effort to work towards gender pay neutrality across our business.”

However, he adds, “[p]rogress is being made, highlighted by our figures showing that 75% of all appointments at head of department level and above were awarded to female candidates, and since April 2018, seven of the top 20 roles are now occupied by female employees.”

“SMG Europe is confident that its gender pay gap does not stem from paying men and women differently for the same or equivalent work”

SMG Europe (SMG Europe Holdings Ltd)

Pay gap (mean): 16.6% (+4.6%)
Pay gap (median): 6% (+2%)

Arena operator SMG Europe’s pay gap slightly widened in 2018, although the proportion of female employees actually increased in every pay quartile. Its results, an SMG spokesperson tells IQ, are skewed by the nearly 20% more women in the lower quartile compared to 2017/18.

“We have undertaken significant resourcing activity in the past 12 months [6 April 2017–5 April 2018]. with 650 new colleagues joining our team,” they say. “The majority of new colleagues are casually engaged team members, of which 66.5% are female and 33.5% male. The recruitment gender ratios were consistent with gender ratio of applicants – ie no positive or other discrimination.

“As of April 2018, a total of 82% of our population comprised casual roles, compared to 77.7% the previous year.  All our casually engaged colleagues, who make up the majority of our workforce, are paid at the same hourly rate for the same role, regardless of gender. The shift in our gender pay gap year-on-year is explained by the higher proportion of casually engaged individuals, of which there are proportionately more females this year, which is explained, as noted above, by the higher percentage of female applicants than our existing complement across our casually employed team.

“Our 2018 report also illustrates that women occupy 47% of the highest paid roles, compared to 43.3% the previous year, demonstrating that we have improved the proportion of women occupying the highest paid roles within the organisation.

“SMG Europe is confident that its gender pay gap does not stem from paying men and women differently for the same or equivalent work. Rather its gender pay gap is the result of the roles in which men and women work within the organisation and the salaries that these roles attract.”

“Whilst we are happy that this is going in the right direction, reducing the GPG remains a key priority for Global”

Global (Global Radio Services Ltd)

Pay gap (mean): 32.7% (-2.7%)
Pay gap (median): 19.4% (-1.1%)

Global, the UK’s second-largest festival operator, says it remains “committed” to closing its gender pay gap, which narrowed by 2.7% on a mean basis in 2018.

“Our workforce is balanced and fluctuates each month somewhere between 45%/55% female and male employees; however, we recognise that not having enough women in senior leadership roles is a significant factor in driving our GPG,” reads the company’s 2018 gender pay gap report. “In 2018, we are pleased that we have made some improvement across all measures, and reduced the GPG to 32.7%. Whilst we are happy that this is going in the right direction, it remains a key priority for Global, and creating a diverse and fair culture continues to be incredibly important.

“However, we recognise that this is a long-term strategy that takes time and focus, and that we won’t look different overnight. We have identified a number of initiatives existing and new, that will help us to continue to improve.”

These initiatives include its Global Apprenticeship scheme, launched in September 2018, which welcomed 17 apprentices and graduates into programming, digital, video, marketing, technology and commercial roles – of which 53% were female and from a BAME (black, Asian or minority ethnic) background – and a six-month leadership programme, whose alumni include 20 female middle managers who will be supported “in growing their careers at Global”.

“Our gender pay gap reflects the broader societal challenges of getting more women into the technology sector”

Ticketmaster (Ticketmaster UK Ltd)

Pay gap (mean): 44% (+8%)
Pay gap (median): 23% (+0%)

Ticketmaster’s mean GPG widened to 44%, while its median difference remains at 23%, the same gap as in 2017/18.

According to Mark Yovich, president of Ticketmaster International, its pay gap reflects the dearth of women working in the technology sector – and, if the figure was adjusted to remove employees working on the tech side, the GPG is 4% in favour of female staff.

“Ticketmaster is a vibrant, diverse place to work. We believe that diversity adds value to our workforce and delivers a better service to our fans,” he writes in TM’s 2018 pay gap report.

“As a technology-led business, our gender pay gap reflects the broader societal challenges of getting more women into the technology sector. There is an acute skills shortage in this area, with women accounting for just 25% of all UK STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] graduates. Only 16% of leadership positions in the technology industry are held by women [source: NCWIT]. Illustrating this challenge, if you remove our technology employees, our mean gender pay gap is minus 4%.

“Of course, we want to see more women in the technology industry and have been working with several organisations who provide opportunities for women to get into tech, including Women Who Code, codebar, Code First: Girls, and have an official partnership with Code Your Future. We host and support these groups with funding and regular meet-ups in our offices. We launched our own female employee resource group, WE Nation, in 2015 which continues to roll strong through our business in both the UK and across our international markets.

To ensure fairness, we have systemised our approach to reward and compensation decisions, including conducting a job levelling review across the UK. Our robust policies and training programmes ensure that we are continually working to ensure no bias exists in our recruitment processes.

“We see gender pay gap reporting as an opportunity to drive awareness about the challenges in our industry. We will continue to support women at all levels in our business. We are committed to increasing women and diversity in our workforce and being an inclusive environment where everyone can succeed.”

“Women are under-represented in the live music industry, and the GPG reflects this”

Academy Music Group (Academy Music Group Ltd)

Pay gap (mean): 21% (-3%)
Pay gap (median): 6% (+5%)

Live Nation-owned venue operator Academy Music Group (AMG) narrowed its mean pay gap to 21% in 2018, though its median GPG widened 5%.

Denis Desmond says AMG, whose venues include O2 Brixton Academy and Shepherds Bush Empire, is focusing on elevating more women into management positions.

“A key area of focus for us is achieving greater representation of women into venue management roles, which are our most senior positions and therefore attract higher rates of pay and bonuses,” he writes. “For venues, the median figure reflects our pay equity in the large volume of roles we regularly hire for where we have greater gender balance.”

“We are training managers to ensure no bias exists in our selection processes and ensuring we provide full support to all employees in balancing their family lives with the unique demands of the music business,” he continues, adding that, like Live Nation, AMG is “committed to narrowing the gap over time in our own business.”

“We are optimistic that plans to … attract, recognise and develop talent will have a real effect on improving gender pay equality at NEC Group”

NEC Group (National Exhibition Centre Ltd (The))

Pay gap (mean): 11.4% (+1.3%)
Pay gap (median): 9.7% (+2.6%)

NEC Group, which operates five arenas and convention centres in Birmingham, as of April 2018 had 1,861 employees and casual workers, of which 838 were men and 1,023 women. Its median pay gap, which widened 2.6% in 2018, nevertheless bests the UK average of 17.9%, says chief operating officer John Hornby.

Its most recent figures reflect the smaller proportion of men in lower pay quartiles compared to 2017.

“Overall the group’s profile is characterised by high numbers of employees working full and part time in the company’s catering, retail and hospitality operations, and smaller numbers of specialist technical, catering, supervisory and managerial roles,” reads the company’s 2018 GPG report. “The gender pay gap for the group presents a balanced picture, but there is still more to be done to ensure consistent improvement.

“In the past year, further investment has gone into developing our learning and development offer for all staff; for example, the New Leader programme and Experienced Leader programme, targeting those in leadership roles and those for whom a leadership role is the next career step. Since 2014 the team has trained over 260 new managers, with roughly an even male and female candidate profile.”

Hornby also highlights NEC Group’s talent programme, whose fifth cohort of 19 promotions is roughly gender equal, and its apprenticeship scheme.

“We are optimistic that some of these long-term plans to both attract, recognise and develop talent will have a real effect on improving gender pay equality within the NEC Group,” he concludes.

“Even though we’re ahead of most of our music industry peers … we’re not complacent about it – we know we’ve got more to do”

DHP Family (DHP Family Ltd)

Pay gap (mean): 11.6% (-2.1%)
Pay gap (median): 5% (+1.5%)

Nottingham-based promoter and venue operator DHP Family reported a 2% fall on its already low mean gap compared to last year’s figures, and the company says it does “not have an issue with equal pay. Our gender pay gap derives from fewer female employees within our venue management teams. This is a trend within our industry, whereby there are many more male venue managers across all levels, in particular the more senior the positions.”

While its mean pay gap is well below the national average, its bonus gap (the difference in bonus pay between men and women) remains high, at 48.5%, despite the percentage of women eligible doubling in 2018/19. “We are continuing to work on female representation for bonus eligible roles, and our initiatives to attract and retain females within our venue management and senior management teams are slowly reducing this difference,” according to its 2018 report.

“We’re fully committed to reducing our gender pay gap and I’m pleased to see we’ve made further progress this year,” DHP Family owner George Akins tells IQ.

“Even though we’re ahead of most of our music industry peers and the UK national average, we’re not complacent about it; we know we’ve got more to do and we’ve introduced a number of initiatives that will help in the years ahead.”

“We are making positive steps, but we know there is more we can do”

PRS for Music (PRS for Music Ltd)

Pay gap (mean): 16.8% (-0.4%)
Pay gap (median): 9.7% (-1.8%)

Pamela Harding, human resources director at performance rights organisation PRS, welcomes its narrowing pay gap but says there is still more to be done.

She comments: “Although we have seen a slight improvement, we have a continuing gender pay gap as there are fewer women in senior positions than men at PRS for Music. We believe that real progress is achieved through influencing business culture, and in 2018 we commenced our programme to recognise drivers of unconscious bias to better support our efforts to promote diversity and act inclusively. We also continued to take positive action with our new ‘Dignity at Work’ policy and by working with industry experts in diversity and inclusion.

“We are making positive steps, but we know there is more we can do. As we look further ahead, we remain committed to engaging all levels of our business to encourage, support and exemplify our core values and celebrate our differences.”

 


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My breakthrough moment: Industry pros on their career turning points

Hard work, knowing the right people and a slice of good luck can all play a part in getting a proper footing on the career ladder.

In the first of new series of articles, IQ puts four industry figures in the spotlight by asking them to share the stories of their breakthrough moments…

 


Joe Schavion, Live Nation
The turning point for me was getting an email out of the blue from a guy called Nick Dewey who was looking for someone to join his festival booking team. It wasn’t a name I’d heard before, so I called up Laura Taylor of Everybody’s Management asking: “Who is he?” She said: “It’s Emily Eavis’s husband.” It was Nick from the festival I grew up idolising.

I remember the date very clearly, as it was 1 April, so I thought it might be a wind-up, but I went to meet Nick and began helping out on bookings for Glastonbury, which was amazing. That experience led to agents taking me more seriously and national promoters getting in touch, including Sam Bush from Global.

Sam and I instantly hit it off and worked together for a couple of years before both being offered the opportunity to join Live Nation [in 2017]. I now find myself in the room where the biggest tours in the world – Drake, Taylor Swift, Guns N’ Roses – are being discussed and I’m learning so much all the time. The infrastructure is in place around me – now I just need to become the biggest and best promoter I can be.

I remember the date very clearly, as it was 1 April, so I thought it might be a wind-up

Kim Bloem, Mojo Concerts
When I started as a booker of mostly jazz shows in 2001, there was one artist that I could not imagine ever promoting: Prince. Being a huge fan and just starting as a booker, doing so was completely out of my league, and I thought that if I did ever do it, I would then quit my job, as it would have been the highest achievement possible.

Jazz and related music then became more widely supported by the general public through the likes of Norah Jones, Jamie Cullum, Michael Bublé and John Legend. I was lucky to be in the right place at the right moment. I had picked up on these artists and suddenly I was going to promote them for bigger audiences than I was used to, and the idea of being a part of what made an artist’s career fly made me feel like I was really contributing to something; it was the first time I ordered champagne and flowers for the dressing rooms!

In 2004, Norah Jones sold out two Heineken Music Hall (HMH) shows. This was when the bosses at Mojo asked me to become a promoter and book bigger shows, which was a turning point in my career.

A year later, Jamie Cullum became the new, crazy jazz kid in town and was immensely popular, selling three HMHs, while Bublé started selling a lot of tickets and went from theatre-level to the football stadium GelreDome [41,000-cap.]. John Legend sold from HMH level to 18,000 tickets in a field, and Jason Mraz did the same, all beyond expectation. And then, in 2010, I received a call asking me to put on a show with Prince in a stadium, within two weeks – a dream come true!

But, as I had become addicted to this business, I’m still here, and celebrating every show that gets confirmed, big or small.

I was introduced to band members as I was flyering the queue myself. No doubt that made some kind of impression!

Steve Tilley, Kilimanjaro Live
I was new at Kilimanjaro in August 2008, and the enormity of the challenge to build a roster weighed heavily. I felt I had my work cut out to compete on the national level.

I saw Frightened Rabbit go first on at Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen in early October and knew they had a bright future! It was just a hunch but I enthusiastically told their then-agent Jess that a headline Scala [800-cap.] show would be a no-brainer. As a fan, I knew that the Midnight Organ Fight was going to clean up in the end-of-year album polls.

Jess was overjoyed to hear my suggestion, because rival promoters for the artist were not showing the same ambition. By late November, my first-ever Scala show was confirmed for the following April. Frightened Rabbit were already booked to open for Biffy Clyro at their December 2008 Brixton Academy show and I was introduced to band members as I was flyering the queue myself. No doubt that made some kind of impression!

The Scala sold out, and on the night Steve Strange turned up, as he had just taken on the band. He assured me I was still the guy to promote the band in London (and elsewhere) and a little bit more of me started to really believe I could make it as a national promoter.

When Scott Hutchison passed away last year, it was just over nine years since the Scala show. His death happened right on the eve of my huge outdoor gigs with Ed Sheeran, so I had to deal with the tragedy of a lost friend while also trying to celebrate a personal career milestone that in 2008 seemed like a world inhabited by others. Talk about mixed emotions.

2018, therefore, became my tribute to Scott, because the belief he and his band showed in me was something that gave me even more belief in myself. I wish, like many others, that I could bring him back. He was loved by so many. So, thank you, Scott (and Grant, Billy and Andy).

I found myself fresh out of uni sharing the stage with then-MD of Live Nation, Stuart Galbraith

Claire O’Neill, A Greener Festival
After studying music industry management at BCUC (interspersed with psychedelic adventures of cosmic exploration in the woods and across mainland Europe) in 2005, I decided my dissertation title would be Should UK Music Festivals Implement Environmentally Friendly Practices?. The reasoning: there was a staggering disparity between how major festivals were being operated, and what was both possible and necessary for the industry to be greener.

There was no way the ‘big boys’ were going to be swayed to change business as usual by rave-culture, revolution rhetoric alone. I needed a strategy! This strategy was to show that paying audiences wanted greener festivals, and to give clear examples of how this was possible.

Regardless of the content and the intent, dissertations are destined to gather dust in a draw for eternity. Or so I thought. Luckily for me, my intellectual property and contract law lecturer, Ben Challis, kindly read my dissertation, as I sought his sagely critique from his years of work with Glastonbury Festival, Yourope and the live music industry in general. It was thanks to Ben that our dear friend and my classmate, Luke Westbury, turned the findings of the dissertation into a website: Agreenerfestival.com. Festivals started calling.

Ben also suggested to ILMC (I think ILMC 18 or 19) that I should present my research. I found myself fresh out of uni giving my first presentation and panel discussion with a packed room of ILMC delegates, sharing the stage with then-MD of Live Nation, Stuart Galbraith, and someone from the aviation industry who provides private jets for artists, with Festival Republic’s Melvin Benn in the front row. It was a baptism of fire for which I am very grateful.

Twelve or so years later, and A Greener Festival has assessed and certified circa 500 festivals worldwide including heavyweights like Glastonbury and Roskilde Festival, organised the Green Events & Innovations Conference (now in its 11th year) alongside ILMC, and trained over 100 sustainability managers and assessors from 15+ countries.

 


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LN promotes rock specialist Stephanie van Spronsen

Live Nation UK has announced the internal move from associate to full-time promoter for Stephanie van Spronsen, who adds to the company’s female promoter base.

Rock and metal specialist van Spronsen joined the Live Nation UK promoter department in 2017, becoming the first woman to work on the Download festival booking team.

The promoter has since worked on tours for artists including J Cole, Zara Larsson, Architects and Parkway Drive, as well as helping to launch the World Wrestling Entertainment NXT UK live shows in 2018.

“It’s great news that we can add Steph to Live Nation’s growing female promoter base,” says executive president of UK Touring, Andy Copping.

“Steph’s ability and drive are phenomenal. Live Nation is wholly committed to recognising talent like hers and nurturing it for future leadership”

“Steph has been working with me on Download and her ability and drive are phenomenal. Live Nation is wholly committed to recognising talent like hers and nurturing it for future leadership,” adds Copping.

“Our long-term investment applies as much to our promoters as it does to our artists,” says Denis Desmond, chairman of Live Nation UK and Ireland. “The UK team just gets stronger and stronger and I am delighted for Steph and excited for Live Nation.”

Van Spronsen began her career at Visible Noise records, working with acts such as Bring Me the Horizon and Bullet For My Valentine. Joining specialist rock PR agency, The Noise Cartel, van Spronsen worked with Alice Cooper, Asking Alexandria and Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes, as well as overseeing festivals including Sonisphere, Bloodstock and Hellfest.

 


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Festival Republic withdraws appeal over Wireless licensing restrictions

Festival Republic has withdrawn an appeal lodged in November with Haringey Council regarding licensing restrictions for this year’s Wireless festival. The new restrictions demand reduced noise levels and a final night 9.30pm curfew for the festival, which has taken place in north London’s Finsbury Park since 2014.

The restrictions came into place following a campaign led by residents’ group Friends of Finsbury Park (FOFP) and supported by Hackney and Islington Councils. The campaigners cite antisocial behaviour and public disruption as motivations for their objection to the festival.

The festival promoters initially appealed the decision, stating that the earlier curfew and noise restrictions would “seriously damage” Wireless’s international reputation. The appeal argued: “Headline artists will be deterred from appearing and the enjoyment of the audience will be materially diminished.”

“Headline artists will be deterred from appearing and the enjoyment of the audience will be materially diminished”

However, Festival Republic this week withdrew the appeal at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court after reaching an agreement about sound levels with Haringey Council.

Despite the apparent compromise, campaigners remain displeased with the outcome. Martin Bell, a FOFP member calls the measures “a betrayal of those who call for tougher controls on the event.”

Festival Republic has been contacted for comment.

Wireless festival is the UK’s biggest urban music festival, last year welcoming almost 40,000 festivalgoers over three days of music from J Cole, Post Malone and Stormzy, among others.

A full copy of the Haringey Council licensing report can be read here.

 


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Live Nation–MCD merger under investigation

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC), the Republic of Ireland’s consumer protection agency, has announced a ‘phase 2’ investigation into the acquisition of Irish promoter MCD Productions by UK-based LN-Gaiety Holdings (LNG).

LNG – a joint venture between Live Nation UK and Denis Desmond’s Gaiety Investments – announced last August it planned to acquire Desmond’s company MCD Productions. Cork-born Desmond succeeded John Probyn as Live Nation’s chairman in the UK and Ireland in 2015, although MCD – founded by Desmond and Eamonn McCann in 1980, and now co-owned by Desmond and his wife, Caroline Downey – retained its independence.

A phase 2 investigation, in CCPC-speak, follows a preliminary, ‘phase 1’, investigation if “the CCPC is unable to conclude that the proposed transaction will not lead to a substantial lessening of competition in any market for goods or services” in the republic.

Live Nation faced a similar investigation from the CCPC’s UK counterpart, the CMA, in 2017 over concerns its takeover of Isle of Wight Festival would stifle competition in Britain’s festival market, though the acquisition was cleared that September.

Live Nation has been contacted for comment.

 


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