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Rapino: Live business going to boom post-Covid

The live music industry is gearing up for a huge 2022 as the concert market explodes post-Covid-19, Live Nation president and CEO Michael Rapino has said.

Speaking to writer Bob Lefsetz, Rapino said Live Nation’s stock – currently priced at US$80.72, above its pre-pandemic high of $75.54 – remains so valuable because financial analysts are expecting a live entertainment boom as the final coronavirus restrictions are lifted in the US and internationally.

“Wall Street’s buying the future, not the present,” Rapino explained. “So if you’re an investor looking at Live Nation, you’re probably saying, ‘Well, I think this live experience business in general is going to boom. We see that happening.’” Wall Street would have been particularly encouraged by the low rate of people returning their tickets for cash and Live Nation’s extensive programme of cost-cutting (estimated at $800 million as of this time last year), he continued: “If you’re an investor and you’ve already valued me at $75 going into the crisis, you’ll be sat there saying, ‘What do I think about the future? I think they’re going to be leaner than than they were before they went in, so they’ll make a bit more money. I think there’s a boom happening. And [I think] this thing called live must be really, really valuable to customers, because there’s not even cashing it in in one of the greatest crisises in history. So I want to bet on this category, and I want to bet on the market leader.”

Rapino was the guest on the latest episode of the Bob Lefsetz Podcast, where the wide-ranging conversation with Lefsetz also touched on topics including sponsorship, secondary ticketing, global touring, the festival market and the uniqueness of the live experience.

Comparing recorded to live music, Rapino said: “I think live is, is very, very unique. It’s the only unduplicatable asset that’s really survived this entertainment revolution. Everything else pretty much got duplicated and digitised. And that’s great, but those goosebumps you get when you watch the Eagles, [for example], you don’t get that on an iPad. So we have this very unique industry that is not duplicatable. And in a world where everything else has become duplicatable and commoditised, I think this category has a long life.”

He elaborated: “You know, when the when the crisis happened, there were people on Wall Street and elsewhere that were saying, ‘Oh my God, no one’s gonna ever gather again, we’re all going to be living in our houses forever, no one’s going to go to a movie theatre or concert.’ But I always remember it was the May long weekend [in 2020] and there was a CNN report from the Ozark lakes, where everyone was partying like crazy, and in the middle of this crisis with no vaccine. That moment showed that, no matter how dangerous it was, people still wanted to gather people, they wanted to get out.

“We have this very unique industry … in a world where everything else has become duplicatable and commoditised”

“And the market started to realise: Wow, this is really going be a pent-up demand situation when when we can gather. People are going to want to come back to shows, to go to Disneyland, do all the good things they do when when life’s normal.”

In addition to speaking about the market and live music’s recovery, Rapino returned to a favourite theme: The need to more effectively price shows in order to minimise the secondary market, something he discussed during his keynote at ILMC back in 2016.

“There’s still billions of dollars in secondary business out there, so we know we’re not pricing the house right,” he told Lefsetz, “so we have opportunity to at least get some of that front-of-the-house economics for the artist. [N]inety per cent of the shows I’m dealing with in life are not selling out, so I don’t ever have a problem selling the front part of the house. I do have a problem selling the back part. It’s about pricing, not awareness, so I’m always going to try and convince an artist to redistribute the pricing to see how low can we get the back end of the house – and probably subsidise the back of the house from the front of front of the house – so we can get that perfect sell-out.”

On festivals, Rapino discussed how the market has evolved to a place where niche formats have become more important, accelerated by the pandemic shutdown. “A little bit of a shake-up happened, and probably Covid did help – we’ve even shook out a few; I think we’ve shut down 12 that weren’t working that we didn’t love,” he explained. “And I think you’re seeing the bar getting higher to make a successful festival work.”

Now, he added, “I don’t think all of a sudden you can just launch a main line festival with three different genres of music over the weekend and expect 100,000 [people] anymore. I think they became like any industry: they went out wide, then the big ones survived and the niche ones started to create their own space. We see it happening now: a niche idea in a good location, against a certain genre of music or a certain theme. […] I like the super-served ideas where they’re hitting a certain target, or a certain location, and they’re less talent-reliant because they have more of a thematic soul to them. And those ones tend to work.”

Listen back to the full interview on the Bob Lefsetz Podcast.

 


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The LGBTIQ+ List 2021: Austin Sarich, Live Nation

The LGBTIQ+ List 2021 – IQ’s first annual celebration of queer professionals who make an immense impact in the international live music business – was published in the inaugural Pride edition (issue 101) this month.

The 20 individuals comprising the LGBTIQ+ List 2021, as nominated by our readers and verified by our esteemed steering committee, have gone above and beyond to wave the flag for an industry that we can all be proud of.

To get to know this year’s queer pioneers a little better, IQ asked each individual to share their challenges, triumphs, advice and more. Each day this month, we’ll publish a new interview with an individual on the LGBTIQ+ List 2021. Catch up on the previous interview with Raven Twigg, promoter assistant at Metropolis Music in the UK here.

 


Austin Sarich
he/him
Tour director – North America touring, Live Nation
Los Angeles, US
Linkedin.com/in/austin-sarich-193a2265

Tell us about a personal triumph in your career.
It was a true privilege to be a part of Oprah’s 2020 Vision Touring Team. It was meaningful to me to help successfully grow a project that aimed to inspire people through personal growth and self-discovery.

What advice could you give to young queer professionals?
Your sexual orientation will always be a part of your identity, however, it doesn’t have to be what defines you. Let your work, passion, and drive be your great impact on the industry, regardless of your sexual orientation.

“Your sexual orientation will always be a part of your identity, however, it doesn’t have to be what defines you”

Tell us about a professional challenge you often come across as a queer person.
Working in a male-dominated industry, I would often find myself internalising that my sexual orientation would put me at a disadvantage when I first began navigating the relationships I was making.

What one thing could the industry do to be more inclusive?
Leading through empathy – knowing everyone has their own personal and professional challenges, which could help unify us as a whole.

A cause you support.
Today, I’m Brave, which is an organisation that focuses on empowering underserved youth to be brave and unlock their best potential.

“Leading through empathy – knowing everyone has their own personal and professional challenges”

What does the near future of the industry look like?
An industry filled with gratitude and prosperity. After a year of uncertainty, I confidently believe we are all grateful to have live events back, with fans who have more of an appetite than ever to see their favourite acts live in concert.

How could the industry build back better, post-pandemic?
I would hope that post-pandemic we can all operate efficiently with patience, kindness, and appreciation for each other and the hard work we commit to.


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US: Live Nation, Nederlander make senior hires

Live Nation has appointed Cindy Agi, formerly a partner at WME, as global tour promoter in its Live Nation Concerts division.

In her new role, Agi, WME’s first black female partner, will be responsible for building relationships with international touring artists and booking major global tours. She will report to Omar Al-Joulani, who leads Live Nation Concerts’ talent and touring team, and Arthur Fogel, chairman of global touring.

At WME, which she joined in the post room in 2009, Agi represented Rihanna, Big Sean, Andra Day, Demi Lovato, Jazmine Sullivan, Snoh Aalegra, Cordae, 2 Chainz and Blxst.

“Agi brings an incredible breadth of knowledge and years of experience in the music industry. The respect that she has throughout the industry and her undeniable work ethic made her a must-have promoter on our expanding global team,” says Al-Joulani. “We are excited to have her on board and know she is going to continue to be a force in the touring industry.”

Leaving Live Nation, meanwhile, is Kate Guarrieri, who has joined independent US promoter Nederlander Concerts in its talent booking team.

“Cindy Agi brings an incredible breadth of knowledge and years of experience”

In her new role, Guarrieri will programme Nederlander’s core California venues, including Vina Robles Amphitheatre in Paso Robles, City National Grove of Anaheim, San Jose Civic, California Performing Arts Center in San Jose, Heart Health Park in Sacramento and Somo Concerts in Sonoma County among others, as well as  seeking new regional and national tour opportunities up to arena level.

Guarrieri most recently worked Live Nation as a local talent buyer and national tour director, booking events ranging from 2,000-capacity theatres to 40,000-capacity stadiums.  She has worked with artists such as Foo Fighters, Panic! At the Disco, Incubus, Sia, Chris Stapleton, Bon Iver, Leon Bridges, Avril Lavigne, Ray LaMontagne, Massive Attack, Weird Al Yankovic and Alt-J.

“Kate’s national touring experience is a perfect fit to expand our booking department’s efforts,” says Alex Hodges, CEO of Nederlander Concerts. “As we continue to add venues and route and curate tours, it is essential to enhance our team with seasoned professionals, and we are thrilled Kate is joining our team.”

“I am excited to join the Nederlander Concerts team and look forward to contributing to the growth and success of their touring goals,” says Guarrieri.

 


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The LGBTIQ+ List 2021: Maddie Arnold, Live Nation

The LGBTIQ+ List 2021 – IQ’s first annual celebration of queer professionals who make an immense impact in the international live music business – was published in the inaugural Pride edition (issue 101) this month.

The 20 individuals comprising the LGBTIQ+ List 2021, as nominated by our readers and verified by our esteemed steering committee, have gone above and beyond to wave the flag for an industry that we can all be proud of.

To get to know this year’s queer pioneers a little better, IQ asked each individual to share their challenges, triumphs, advice and more. Each day this month, we’ll publish a new interview with an individual on the LGBTIQ+ List 2021. Catch up on the previous interview with James Murphy, chief operating officer North America, See Tickets here.

 


Maddie Arnold
she/her
Associate promoter, Live Nation
London, UK
maddie.arnold@livenation.co.uk

Tell us about a personal triumph in your career.
When I began promoting my own shows and building my own roster. Nothing can compare to the excitement of a gig, the spontaneity, the emotion, the sweat – they’ve been a massive part of my life since I was a kid. After a few years in different roles within the industry, I knew I had to work my way to this point, and now I am selling tickets, discovering new artists and building their careers. It’s a great feeling, daily.

What advice could you give for young queer professionals?
Finding out who you are and what you want in life is a journey… get lost in the process, make mistakes, learn from them, try new things, don’t settle, keep persevering when you feel like giving up, surround yourself with positive people, and don’t forget to have fun along the way.

“Nothing can compare to the excitement of a gig, the spontaneity, the emotion, the sweat”

Tell us about a professional challenge you often come across as a queer person.
Apart from the occasional awkward silence when I tell someone new my sexuality, I am lucky enough to say my experience has been great. All the people I work with are hardworking, diverse, inclusive and kind people, and I have only ever been given support by my colleagues and managers who challenge me to do better and grow within my role.

What one thing could the industry do to be more inclusive?
Keep going. Diversity and inclusion are becoming a massive part of working life and the music industry knows this, but there is still work to be done. We need more LGBTQ role models in the industry, whether that’s artists or the workers behind the scenes, it’s important for the younger generation to have people to look up to.

A cause you support.
Mental health. As someone who has suffered on and off for years and lost close ones, this subject is very close to my heart and we all need to speak up more about it. Congratulations to all for getting through this past year!

“Continue with the flexibility of working remotely, and give more attention to mental health”

What does the near future of the industry look like?
Very exciting. Lockdown was awful for several reasons, but I have also discovered a lot of new artists during this time who have a great future ahead of them. The streaming got us through lockdown, but nothing will ever replace the experience of a live gig. The demand is there, people want to get back in a sweaty room and scream along to their favourite songs, and I think 2022 is going to be an insane year for us all.

How would you like to see the industry build back better, post-pandemic?
Continue with the flexibility of working remotely, and give more attention to mental health, whether it’s your own, your colleagues, or the grumpy manager you meet backstage. We are all busy and work in an extremely fast-paced industry that never seems to slow down, but it doesn’t take a lot to ask someone how they are, especially after the year we’ve all had, and I hope we can all be a little kinder to one another and to ourselves.

 


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Michael Rapino: ‘Live Nation’s US biz is fully reopen’

Live Nation Entertainment’s US concert business is now “fully open,” according to CEO Michael Rapino.

“We’re very excited about the American market. Seventy per cent of our business is going to be in the US and the UK. Those two markets seem on track,” he told CNBC on Thursday (8 July).

In the States, Live Nation has already hit a major post-restrictions milestone with its full-capacity show at New York’s iconic Madison Square Garden (cap. 20,000), performed by the Foo Fighters, which was the venue’s first concert since March 2020.

Continuing on an upward trajectory, Live Nation will host 30 US-wide amphitheatre tours at full capacity beginning this week, according to the CEO.

Later in July, the live entertainment giant will host the Rolling Loud festival in Miami – expected to bring in around 200,000 people – and a further 10–15 more festivals this summer.

“We’re going to make sure that we don’t [put on] four shows in one week and you’ve got to pick one”

In the company’s Q1 2021 earnings call in May, it reported that US festivals including Bonnaroo, Electric Daisy and Rolling Loud festivals all sold out in record times at full capacity.

The company also reported an increasingly busy 2022, after the number of major tours for next year increased by double-digits from pre-pandemic levels in 2019.

Addressing concerns about whether the backlog of concerts caused by the pandemic will result in an oversaturated market, Rapino told CNBC that artists will not perform “unless they have the weekends, and the right cities and the right markets”.

“We’re going to make sure that we don’t [put on] four shows in one week and you’ve got to pick one,” the CEO said. “We’ll spread those over a couple of years and a couple of markets. So we look at the pent-up demand as lots of availability, but we’re also going to make sure the consumer has time to buy it.”

While the US surges ahead, Rapino expects Live Nation’s European market to reopen by the autumn, and the Asian market to return in 2022 due to a delay in Covid vaccinations. “It’ll be a record 2022 and 2023,” he said.

 


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Austria’s live sector unites for ‘Back to Live’ campaign

Behemoths from across Austria’s live entertainment industry are banding together for a campaign aimed at boosting the sector’s post-lockdown recovery.

The ‘Back to Live’ campaign kicked off today (8 July) with the launch of a portal that gives an overview of upcoming cultural and sporting events, alongside exclusive discounts and offers to entice fans.

The initiative, launched by the Austrian Event Industry Association (IGÖV) and CTS Eventim Austria’s oeticket, comes shortly after the country reopened at the beginning of July.

According to the organisers, the joint initiative is intended to benefit all industries connected to live entertainment including sport, culture, tourism, hospitality, events and music, and accelerate the return to “normal economic conditions”.

The alliance has already attracted more than 120 players including Arcadia Live, Arena Wien, Barracuda Music, Hoanzl Agentur, Leutgeb Entertainment, Live Nation, Masters of Dirt, Musikverein Graz, Posthof Linz, Scheibmaier & Schilling, Show Factory and Szene Wien, from the live music sector.

“With ‘Back to Live’ we convey confidence and joie de vivre after 15 months of almost no events. A flourishing event industry helps many industries, such as the badly suffering city hotel business, to make their comeback and support the artists,” says Ewald Tatar, president of IGÖV and MD at Barracuda Music.

“The campaign will invite everyone to take part so that we can actually make the comeback with our combined strengths”

Georg Hoanzl, IGÖV board member and founder of Hoanzl agency, adds: “The ‘Back to live’ campaign will invite everyone to take part so that we can actually make the comeback with our combined strengths. It is a joint effort that I am happy to support in order to offer the live acts a stage and a platform for the entire culture and event industry.”

Christoph Klingler, CEO at CTS Eventim Austria, says: “Today’s presentation of ‘Back to Live’ is the impetus for a major joint project aimed at the entire industry. We get a ball rolling so that we can get started together and support each other.

“After months of intensive negotiations with politicians to make the comeback possible, we are back with ‘good news’. The concert halls and sports stadiums are being filled again.”

The live sector has returned to business faster than expected after the Austrian government brought forward its date for mass gatherings to restart.

Since 1 July, all events have been permitted to go ahead at full capacity, including standing events, both indoor and outdoor.

Social distancing and masks are not be required, but event attendees still have to meet one of three rules to gain admission: they must be vaccinated; they must be able to provide a negative Covid test; or they must be able to prove that they have recovered from a Covid infection.


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LGBTIQ+ List 2021: This year’s queer pioneers revealed

IQ Magazine’s highly-anticipated LGBTIQ+ List 2021 – the first annual celebration of queer professionals who make an immense impact in the international live music business – can now be revealed.

The landmark list is the jewel in the crown of IQs first-ever Pride edition, which was published on Monday (28 June) and followed by our Loud and Proud agency-curated playlist.

The 20 individuals comprising the LGBTIQ+ List 2021, as nominated by our readers and verified by our esteemed steering committee, have gone above and beyond to wave the flag for an industry that we can all be proud of.

The inaugural cohort comprises agents, promoters, COOs, CEOs, event producers, wellness specialists, tour managers and more, all of whom identify as LGBTIQ+ and, in the face of adversity, have made enormous contributions to their respective sectors.

“IQ received an unbelievable amount of heartwarming testimonials”

In no particular order, the LGBTIQ+ List 2021 is:

Steven Braines, co-founder, He.She.They (UK)
Sean Hill, director of tour marketing, UTA (UK)
Zoe Williamson, agent, UTA (US)
Will Larnach-Jones, managing director/head of bookings, Iceland Airwaves (IE)
Raven Twigg, promoter assistant, Metropolis Music/founder, Women Connect (UK)
Nadu Placca, global event & experience architect, The Zoo XYZ (UK)
Maxie Gedge, Keychange project manager, PRS Foundation (UK)
Mark Fletcher, CEO, Manchester Pride (UK)
Maddie Arnold, associate promoter, Live Nation (UK)
Lauren Kirkpatrick, promoter assistant, DF Concerts (UK)
Laura Nagtegaal, guitar technician and tour manager, MsGyver (NL)
Joanne Croxford, wellness + diversity specialist/ live touring/ tour assistant (UK)
James Murphy, chief operating officer North America, See Tickets (US)
Guy Howes, music partnerships executive, CAA (UK)
Doug Smith, SVP field operations UK & Ireland, Ticketmaster (UK)
Chris Ibbs, agent, CAA (UK)
Rach Millhauser, coordinator, Wasserman Music (US)
Austin Sarich, director of touring, Live Nation (US)
Daniel Brown, event producer/programmer, Birmingham Pride (UK)
Rauha Kyyrö, head promoter, Fullsteam Agency (FI)

“I never imagined I’d be so thrilled to see my inbox soar into triple digits – that is until we opened nominations for the LGBTIQ+ List 2021,” says IQ staff writer Lisa Henderson, who guest edited the Pride issue. “We received an unbelievable amount of heartwarming testimonials from across the business but, thanks to the help of our revered steering committee, we’ve ended up with 20 exemplary individuals who continually prove that diversity is the industry’s greatest strength.”

Full profiles of the individuals on the LGBTIQ+ List 2021 will appear online in the coming weeks. However, subscribers can read the entire feature in the Pride edition (issue 101) of IQ Magazine now.

Click here to subscribe to IQ for just £5.99 a month – or check out what you’re missing out on with the limited preview below:

 


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Live Nation appoints first chief brand officer

Live Nation has appointed Nicole Portwood to the newly created role of chief brand officer.

Portwood, formerly vice-president of marketing for Mountain Dew and other soft drinks at PepsiCo, is tasked with “further enhanc[ing] the Live Nation brand across all channels by exploring new opportunities that develop deeper relationships with both artists and fans worldwide”, says Live Nation, including on-site experiences and digital offerings such as NFTs.

“Joining an innovative company like Live Nation, which is cherished by music and live entertainment fans across the world, is a dream come true,” says Portwood. “This work bridges my personal and professional passions, and I am excited to work with the incredibly talented and entrepreneurial people here to develop a robust brand strategy that strengthens loyalty and heightens the entire live experience for fans.

“We look forward to the new opportunities and growth Nicole will help shape”

“With the return of live events, this is such an exciting moment for the company and in culture more broadly, and I cannot wait for what’s ahead.”

Prior to joining PepsiCo, Portwood was vice-president and chief marketing officer of Tito’s Handmade Vodka, where she won Ad Age marketer of the year in 2017.

“We built Live Nation into the leading live music brand by promoting and investing in artists around the world at every level from clubs to stadiums, and with Nicole’s expertise we will continue to expand our Live Nation product offering for both artists and fans,” comments Michael Rapino, president and CEO of Live Nation. “We look forward to the new opportunities and growth Nicole will help shape, from onsite experiences to developing new digital content offerings such as NFTs or membership options.”

 


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Rock en Seine cancels, French organisers get creative

France’s Rock en Seine has been called off, following the government’s announcement that festivals would be restricted to 5,000 seated and socially distanced attendees.

The Paris festival, which typically welcomes 120,000 festivalgoers each year, was set to take place between 27–29 August 2021, though the line-up had not been announced.

In a statement, the organisers say: “Even with the greatest optimism, given the health restrictions in place today we know that the event we want to create and experience sadly cannot take place this year.”

The French government announced the framework for the 2021 festival season back in February, along with a €30 million fund.

The aid was launched to compensate organisers – both for losses incurred due to the implementation of alternative formats and in the event that festivals are cancelled due to an increasing Covid-19 infection rate.

Many French organisers have already jumped at the chance to implement an alternative event, including the country’s largest festival, the Vieilles Charrues (Old Plows).

The festival will host an intimate concert series at the Parc du Château in its home region of Brittany between 8–18 July 2021.

“Even with the greatest optimism, given the health restrictions in place today we know that the event cannot take place this year”

The series will comprise 10 evenings concerts featuring 30 domestic artists including Vianney, Woodkid and Pomme. See the full line-up here.

Live Nation’s Main Square festival is also planning a concert series, which will comprise eight concerts in eight ’emblematic places’ of Hauts-de-France, the northernmost region of France. See the line-up and the list of locations here.

Those who have purchased tickets to the 2020, 2021 or 2022 editions of the Arras-based festival will have the opportunity to attend the six shows free of charge, in strict compliance with the current restrictions.

All six concerts will be filmed and broadcast online on the festival’s official website as well as on its social networks and those of its partners, on July 2, 3 and 4 – when the flagship festival would’ve taken place.

Elsewhere, in the French festival market, Eurockéennes says it is “now imagining the different possible options to offer another project, in a new format and adapted to the framework that will be imposed on us” though no further details have emerged.

France was the first major European market to make a decision on the 2021 festival season but countries including Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Switzerland have followed suit with tough restrictions.

 


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Japan’s leading int’l promoters form alliance

Ten leading Japanese concert promoters have officially announced the formation of the International Promoters Alliance Japan.

Led by Creativeman Productions head Naoki Shimizu, the alliance is hoping to establish unified guidelines for the safe resumption of events involving international artists.

The alliance – which includes Live Nation Japan, Udo Artists, Smash Corporation, Hayashi International Promotions and Kyodo Tokyo – will work closely with the Japanese government, as well as international embassies and consulates, to further the cause.

The International Promoters Alliance Japan is completed by Avex Entertainment, Hanshin Contents Link/Billboard Japan, M&I Company and Promax. The alliance will complement the work of existing music association ACPC, with which it shares members.

In a statement, the group says: “The history of music in Japan was changed forever in 1966 when the Beatles performed at the Nippon Budokan. Since then, musicians from around the world have come to Japan to perform, and the opportunity for fans to experience high quality international live entertainment has led to the growth of a rich and diversified Japanese music culture.

“The fact that Japan has been able to create a larger market for music than any other Asian country is a credit to the more than 60 years of work by member companies of the International Promoters Alliance Japan, who have also contributed to the overseas expansion of Japanese artists and content.”

“That Japan has been able to create a larger market for music than any other Asian country is a credit to IPAJ members”

It continues: “From club and theatre shows through to stadium tours, major festivals, and live restaurants, the breadth of the market is unique in the region, and hosting performances by international artists contributes to international economic exchange, the development of the Japanese music culture and economy, and the growth of employment.”

The International Promoters Alliance Japan was unofficially formed in December last year and in March 2021 the alliance succeeded in getting the Japanese government to amend its compensation scheme to include domestic shows by foreign artists.

The group’s next goal is to ease the business visa restrictions for foreign artists to enter Japan with no quarantines.

Once overseas artists have resumed their visits to Japan, the promoters will work together to “foster continued international cultural exchange in this most important of live entertainment markets”.

Read IQ’s Japan country report, which outlined the opportunities in the Japanese market pre-pandemic, here.

Land of the rise in fun: Why booming Japan is such a tough market to crack

 

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