21 June: Delay would lead to 5,000 UK cancellations
Research published today (10 June) shows that even a four-week delay to the deadline for lifting the final restrictions on live events in the UK would cost the live music sector over £500 million and leave the summer festival season at risk of total collapse.
More than 5,000 shows by artists including Olly Murs, Tom Odell, Rag’n’Bone Man, Beverley Knight, McFly, Alexandra Burke and Rudimental would either need to cancel or postpone if the 21 June deadline was pushed back, incurring immediate costs across the live music supply chain and further damaging an industry already hanging in the balance, according to industry body LIVE (Live music Industry Venues and Entertainment).
The rumoured move, as IQ reported earlier this week, comes despite the fact that, by the government’s own evidence, large-scale events can happen safely with the right precautions in place.
Through LIVE, a federation of 13 associations representing more than 3,000 live music companies, the live sector is calling for government to publish the data from the first round of Events Research Programme (ERP) pilots, so “they are able to follow their own science” and allow live businesses to reopen with Covid-safe precautions. The ERP findings which have been released by government to the media show that with screening, improved ventilation and other mitigating factors, mass events are reportedly as safe as a trip to the supermarket.
“We implore the government to follow their own scientific data that proves live events are safe with the right mitigations”
Lucy Noble, chair of the National Arenas Association, says: “The pilot shows at the Brits and Liverpool were touted as the key to getting back to full-capacity live performance, which is why it’s extremely frustrating that the government refuses to publish the full report and allow the sector to open up through the carefully planned precautions which are currently waiting in the wings.
“We implore the government to follow their own scientific data that proves live events are safe with the right mitigations. Now is the time for them to protect the live events sector for generations to come.”
Any delay to the 21 June reopening date would have significant and immediate repercussions for grassroots music venues, with 248 venues facing an immediate threat of eviction if the government does not fully compensate their financial losses from delayed reopening, says Mark Davyd, CEO of Music Venue Trust.
“In the event of any delay to reopening, government action to restore confidence to the sector will need to be swift, decisive and comprehensive,” says Davyd. “Any decision to delay places the sector in the most perilous and uncertain situation since April 2020. All that has been done by government, the public, artist and communities to save our venues risks being undone.”
“We cannot keep waiting indefinitely without knowing when step four will take place”
The UK’s much-anticipated summer festival season would also see significant casualties, with 65% of all Association of Independent Festivals members saying they will be forced to cancel if faced with a five-week delay – and 21% already gone.
Jim King, CEO of European festivals for AEG Presents, comments: “A delay into July without a clear road map to get back to step four [full lockdown lifting] puts an impossible strain on all festivals, including AEG’s All Points East festival, along with our suppliers across the industry.
“We cannot keep waiting indefinitely without knowing when step four will take place, and this uncertainty will undoubtedly result, by default, in more cancellations. We are desperate for the UK festival season to begin again, but an undated reopening makes long term planning and investment unfeasible.”
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Neil Warnock talks 150 years of Royal Albert Hall, 2021
Neil Warnock MBE, global head of touring for United Talent Agency, has said he’s cautiously optimistic about the potential for the impending Covid-19 vaccine to get the industry moving again after a “disastrous” 2020.
Speaking after today’s virtual Royal Albert Hall 150th anniversary press conference, Warnock – who is chairman of the London venue’s 150th anniversary committee – described the impact the pandemic has had on both artists and fans.
“This year has been an absolute disaster for the whole world and affected every strata of everybody’s lives,” he said. “The music element – of not being at a show and fans not being able to interact with performers – has, especially, been so harmful to everyone’s health. Music is such a key component in so many people’s lives.
“I’ve talked to artists who have been going up the wall, some of whom normally play 150 shows a year. It’s been such a loss for them, and so hard on everyone.”
Warnock said while some musicians have been able to take advantage of live music’s year off, it depends on the artist and their attitude towards touring. “Some of them have looked at it and said, ‘I should be working on music, I should be writing a book,’ or whatever it is they’re working on, and used  extremely well, artistically,” he continued. “Whereas other artists have said, ‘No – just want to get out there and perform.’”
The Royal Albert Hall today unveiled the programme for its 150th anniversary celebrations, which kick off on 29 March 2021 – exactly 150 years to the day of its opening – and extend into 2022.
The arena’s chief executive, Craig Hassall, announced the plans, which include concerts, festivals, dance shows and more, at a virtual press conference streamed live from the 5,200-capacity venue this morning (3 December).
“Being involved in the 150th anniversary is such a fantastic honour”
“Despite the devastating impact of the pandemic, which has closed our treasured building to the public for the first time since the Second World War, we are determined to host a full celebration of our 150th anniversary,” he told journalists.
“Since its opening, this extraordinary venue has borne witness to, and played a central part in, seismic cultural and social change. The interests, manners and social mores of the people may have changed, but this beautiful building and what it represents remains the same a century and a half later: a meeting place, a reflection of contemporary Britain, and a home for exhilarating live performance and events of international significance.
“I want to thank the whole creative industry, our dedicated staff and all of the artists involved for their support in announcing this programme today.”
The hall was opened by Queen Victoria in 1871, and named in memory of her late husband, Prince Albert. Closed since March, it will reopen to fans for a programme of carol concerts over the Christmas period, with capacity limited to 1,000.
Among the highlights of the venue’s 150th anniversary programme are headline shows by the likes of Patti Smith, Jon Hopkins, Gregory Porter, Tinie (Tempah), Brian Wilson, Jonas Kaufmann, Bryn Terfel and Alfie Boe, while alt-folk act This is the Kit will perform in an ongoing concert series, Albert Sessions, and run a workshop for local teenagers.
Elsewhere, singer-songwriter KT Tunstall will lead a new mentorship programme for young female artists, and Nile Rodgers will compose a “pop anthem” for the anniversary, using a full orchestra and singers from across the community.
Non-pop/rock programming includes a special concert on 29 March 2021, which will see the debut of a specially commissioned multimedia piece, A Circle of Sound, composed by David Arnold; a new piece for the hall’s famous Henry Willis organ by Oscar-winning composer Michael Giacchino (Up, Rogue One); and a new staging of Matthew Bourne’s dance production, The Car Man.
“We are determined to host a full celebration of our 150th”
According to Warnock, there will be further live music events announced in the run-up the anniversary when there is more clarity on the regulations around Covid-19.
During the press conference, Warnock relayed a memorable anecdote about the Who’s Roger Daltrey being pelted with coins by angry teddy boys in 1969, and spoke of his love for the Royal Albert Hall, whose “magic” he says is unmatched by another venue anywhere in the world, and said he “can’t wait” to be in a position to be announcing more acts.
“Being involved in the 150th anniversary is such a fantastic honour, as I’ve been involved with the hall for 50 years,” he told IQ afterwards. “We’re going to have acts from right the way across the spectrum, from every part of the world and for every age range. It’s definitely going to tick every box.”
Lucy Noble, the Albert Hall’s artistic and commercial director, confirmed that while some plans have been postponed or deferred as a result of the pandemic, there are some “very exciting events to be announced in due course.”
With a vaccine against Covid-19 now approved in the UK, and the hope that other countries will soon follow suit, Warnock added that he’s cautiously optimistic about the resumption of touring next year, with something approaching a return to normal by the summer.
“We’ve got this pinpoint of light in the [form of the] vaccine, so hopefully that can be shared with as many people as soon as possible,” he commented, “which will then give us the health ‘passport’ we need so that artists can properly react with audiences, and fans can react with those artists, again. That’s all we can hope for.”
For the 150th anniversary programme as it stands so far, visit the Royal Albert Hall website.
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Venues in the spotlight for next IQ Focus panel
Following on from last week’s popular Festival Forum session, this week’s IQ Focus virtual panel will turn the attention to venues, discussing how the world’s many shuttered music venues can weather the Covid-19 storm, and emerge from life under lockdown.
Chaired by John Langford (AEG Europe), The Venue’s Venue: Building Back, will feature speakers Lucy Noble (Royal Albert Hall/NAA), Olivier Toth (Rockhal/EAA), Oliver Hoppe (Wizard Promotions), Tom Lynch (ASM Global) and Lotta Nibell (GOT Event).
The touring world has changed dramatically since venue professionals came together for the Venue Summit at the International Live Music Conference (ILMC) in March, as doors have been shuttered, countless concerts cancelled and many venues repurposed to help in the fight against the disease.
Panellists will share their strategies on getting through the current crisis, as well as discussing the main lessons they have learned so far
Panellists will share their strategies on getting through the current crisis, as well as discussing the main lessons they have learned so far.
Looking to the future, the venue experts will also reflect on what the recovery process may look like and what will need to be done to keeps fans, staff and artists safe and get business back up and running in the crucial months ahead.
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UK industry calls for clarity, timetable for reopenings
Nearly a billion pounds will be wiped off the value of the UK music industry without immediate government action to support the live sector, industry leaders have warned.
Thousands of jobs will be lost and the British music business – which formerly contributed £5.2bn a year to the UK economy – will suffer £900 million (€1bn) in losses from the impact of coronavirus without urgent state support, the UK Live Music Group has said.
The group, which sits within trade body UK Music as the collective voice of promoters, festivals, agents, venues and production services, is calling for, among other measures, clarity on when live events will be allowed to return – as has already happened in many European countries, including the Netherlands, Norway and Spain – as well as any social-distancing protocols that will need to remain place when they do.
As a result of the coronavirus outbreak, three quarters of the industry’s workforce is furloughed, with little certainty about when their jobs might return.
“We’ll need more support from government to survive”
In addition to job losses, the impact of Covid-19 means that further government support is also necessary to prevent more than 550 grassroots music venues going under, according to the group. Additionally, a recent Association of Independent Festivals survey found that 92% of its members, chiefly small and mid-sized summer events, are facing imminent collapse.
The group has identified the following areas in which government help is needed:
- A continuation of all existing employment schemes and business support packages until the live music industry recovers
- Value-added tax (VAT) breaks on ticket sales for a minimum of 18 months (to give festivals, concerts and live events time to see the results)
- Additional financial support to ensure that landlords provide rent-free periods to music-venue tenants
- Extension of business rate relief to the entire live music supply chain, include service companies and sound and lighting suppliers
- Clear guidance about when professionally run, licensed events can resume, in order to allow operators to properly plan a recovery
- Clarity around social distancing which takes into account the range of different venue sizes, some of whom may not be able to reopen until measures are further relaxed
Newly appointed UK Music chair Tom Watson says: “The music industry is really hurting. Parts of the sector are effectively on life support and will need a sustained package of help from the government to survive.
“The support for our world-leading industry must continue”
“The music industry has joined forces and is doing its best to look after its people through a fantastic network of hardship funds. As the world slowly emerges from the international lockdown, the UK cannot afford to leave behind its economy-boosting music industry. We’ll need more support from government to survive and remain a long-term contributor to the economy.
“If we are to nurture the next generation of British stars like Adele, Stormzy and Ed Sheeran, we need the government to listen and act to ensure our music industry remains the envy of the world.”
“The government must not abandon the music industry, which is such a vital part of our economy, culture and social fabric,” adds Lucy Noble, artistic and commercial director of the Royal Albert Hall and chair of the National Arenas Association.
“The support for our world-leading industry must continue until we have a chance to get back on our feet.”
Playing Politics: Are governments offering enough support for live?
Millions of people have taken to tuning in to daily governmental updates, where politicians and advisers perform the grim task of revealing the increase in the death toll, as well as the rates of new infection. That horrific routine is allowing journalists to compare Nation A to Nation B to Nation C etc, and for many, isolated at home, to engage in the morbid game of envying those in New Zealand, Germany, South Korea, or wherever the reported head count is statistically low.
However, to date, little has been said in the public domain about the response of the live entertainment industry, internationally, and its voluntarily shut down, which, in many places, had to come ahead of government guidance. Indeed, in speaking to numerous festival organisers, IQ has heard that many had been forced to play a waiting game with politicians to hear whether their events in, for instance, June or July, would be allowed to proceed.
“Without government intervention, force majeure clauses do not work,” says Christof Huber of European festivals association, Yourope, who cancelled his festivals OpenAir St.Gallen, SummerDays and Seaside after the Swiss government finally announced that events over 1,000 people would be outlawed until 31 August, following weeks of deliberation. Yourope has been “actively lobbying governments to make decisions about large-scale gatherings in a more timely manner”, says Huber.
In beginning to tentatively embark on reopening plans, governments in countries including the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Ireland, Germany, Denmark, France, Spain, Austria, Hungary, Norway and Finland have given some sort of insight into when events may be allowed to resume – or at least clarification as to how long bans can be expected to last.
Still, without cross-border co-operation, the situation remains precarious for those who depend on the live music sector for their livelihoods.
In the venues sector, Lucy Noble, who chairs the UK’s National Arenas Association, says, “We found the early stages of the crisis difficult, as government advice wasn’t clear enough. That delay was problematic because it created stress and confusion for artists, audiences and staff.”
“In Switzerland and Germany the trust in the government and politicians has had a really big revival”
The various loan schemes launched in each market have worked to varying effect (Switzerland’s five-year interest free loan of up to €400,000 paid in a matter of hours stands among the best), while employee furlough or protection schemes have further propped up companies, without which many would have collapsed.
Stuart Galbraith, of Kilimanjaro Live, recalls, “Although it was fairly chaotic to start with, the line of communication that we, as a sector, have had into government has been very good. UK Music [acting CEO] Tom Kiehl has done a great job and so have people like Julian Bird at [Society of London Theatre]. In that first week of chaos, we had four calls with either cabinet ministers or secretaries of state. They listened and have taken action. They’ve helped us with the loans, business rates relief, the furlough scheme.”
Vincenzo Spera, president of Assomusica, is lobbying Europe to adopt such concessions, having already secured them in Italy, where it’s estimated that, by the end of this month, 4,200 events will have been missed, depriving live music operators of €63million, while the deeper economic impact for Italy is estimated at €130m.
“We ask the European Commission, MPs and the Culture Committee to [introduce] vouchers to replace the tickets purchased,” says Spera. “[This] allows the spectator not to give up their concert, and companies not to go to default.”
Voucher schemes of some form are also in place in Germany, Belgium, Poland and Brazil, with promoters including Live Nation offering a voucher option to fans who have tickets for postponed shows.
While those working in the UK and other countries have been able to rely on their authorities for financial bailouts, notable live music strongholds like the United States have offered very little, resulting in previously unimaginable unemployment statistics.
Yourope’s Huber observes, “It’s difficult to compare, but in Switzerland and Germany the trust in the government and politicians has had a really big revival, because in the initial phases they communicated honestly about the situation. However, as time passes, left wing versus right wing politics seems to be creeping back.”
“We are making hard decisions and the more clarity we get from government, the more informed we can be when looking at logistics”
Down under, Michael Chugg laments a horrendous start to 2020. “To cop corona on top of the bushfire season, I think everyone is coping well,” he tells IQ. “The federal government, which had already been offering tax breaks, freezes on loans payments, and no evictions by landlords, came up with their ‘jobkeeper payment’ scheme, which covers the equivalent of 50% of all Australian salaries for the next six months, taking an incredible amount of pressure off everyone.”
Live Nation’s Herman Schueremans – himself a former politician – reports, “The Belgian parliament agreed to provide €1 billion to tackle the consequences of coronavirus, and we will work with them to ensure this money reaches those who need it most in our market.” He adds, “It’s never been more clear that we are in a global business. We all know we have to work together.”
Live Nation’s Phil Bowdery, who leads the UK’s Concert Promoters Association, reveals he is now asking for an exit plan from lockdown. The UK government, which is yet to announce how it plans to ease lockdown restrictions, is expected to release the first details of its plans in a press conference on Sunday (10 May).
“They must have modelling for a resumption to whatever our new normal will look like,” he notes. “The sooner they share this, the better. We are making hard decisions and the more clarity we get from government, the more informed we can be when looking at logistics.”
The gap between the ending of employment protection schemes, loan availability and other protection measures, and the business being back up to speed with healthy cashflow, is arguably the largest challenge on the horizon. And close, strong relationships with government will be key to keeping that gap as narrow as possible.
Associations and lobbyists need to prove their worth, just as governments will need to continue to prop up live entertainment for at least a few months yet.
Snarky Puppy to record debut Royal Albert Hall show
Snarky Puppy will record their debut Royal Albert Hall show on 14 November, the three-time Grammy Award winners becoming the latest in a long line of acts to cut a live album at the historic London venue.
The album will be produced by live recording specialist Live Here Now – formerly the live arm of Abbey Road Studios – whose previous Royal Albert Hall releases include Depeche Mode, Bring Me the Horizon, Nick Cave, Damon Albarn and Deep Purple’s Jon Lord. The full multi-channel recording will be mixed live in an outside broadcast truck, with limited-edition double CD available to fans as they leave the venue.
A wider range of formats are available for pre-order from Live Here Now’s online shop, including the double CD along with deluxe triple coloured vinyl, A3 art print and an A5 hardback photobook.
“We’re delighted to announce what will inevitably become another enduring Live at the Royal Albert Hall recording”
Lucy Noble, the 5,544-cap. venue’s artist director, comments: “We’re delighted to announce what will inevitably become another enduring Live at the Royal Albert Hall recording, marking the hall debut of one of the most innovative jazz groups of recent decades, the untouchable Snarky Puppy.”
The Royal Albert Hall, which once again picked up the venue award at the 25th Arthur Awards in March, has proven a popular venue for live recordings throughout its nearly 150-year history. Films of note include Peter Whitehead’s recording of Led Zeppelin in 1970 (eventually released on the 2003 Led Zeppelin DVD) and Adele’s Live at the Royal Albert Hall (2011), while live albums have included the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Bob Dylan, Iggy Pop, the Who, the Killers, Suede and the Cream reunion.
The Royal Albert Hall had its busiest year to date in 2018, hosting a record 401 shows in its main auditorium alone and cementing its status as the “world’s busiest venue”.
Royal Albert Hall’s Lucy Noble elected NAA chair
Lucy Noble, artistic and commercial director of the Royal Albert Hall, has been elected chair of the UK’s National Arenas Association (NAA).
Noble, whose three-year term commenced on 1 January 2019, succeeds Martin Ingham, CEO of Nottingham’s Motorpoint Arena.
The NAA, which represents 23 arenas in the British Isles, is due to publish its 2018 statistics during the Venue’s Venue panel at this week’s International Live Music Conference (ILMC). The association is also a partner to ILMC on the Event Safety and Security Summit (E3S), as well as IQ for its annual European Arena Yearbook.
Noble says: “It’s an honour and a privilege to have been elected to chair this body, which represents such a wide range of colleagues in such an exciting industry.
“Although the Hall is the smallest of these arenas, it’s also the oldest and has paved the way in terms of large capacity spaces and what they’re capable of. We’ve been a proud member of the NAA for over 15 years and find it extremely useful in developing our approach, sharing with the industry and identifying new collaborative areas.
“It’s an honour and a privilege to have been elected to chair this body”
“I’m especially looking forward to lead on discussion around women in the industry, accessibility and diversity, and how we can keep ahead of changes in technology – and I’m thrilled to be the first female chair in over 15 years.”
Ingham adds: “It has been a great privilege to chair the NAA for the past three years during a period of growth in the live music industry, but also at a time of huge challenges for our arenas’ management teams. Operational security for venues is continually developing, while there are never-ending financial pressures from increases to our cost base that require constant innovation to mitigate.”
“Aside from the day-to-day challenges, I am also proud of the work that the NAA has undertaken during the past three years to support industry initiatives ranging from secondary ticketing to PRS, accessibility to agent of change and sustainability to safety.”
“I’m delighted to be handing the reins over to Lucy, who is experienced in so many facets of the industry and who will be an excellent champion for the NAA.”
The Royal Albert Hall had its busiest year to date in 2018, with 401 auditorium events. It also recently launched a 150th anniversary committee chaired by UTA’s Neil Warnock, in preparation for its birthday plans in 2021.
Countdown to the Arthurs 2019: Lucy Noble
He might look as if he’s been around the block a few times, but 2019 marks Arthur’s 25th birthday, so to celebrate his landmark silver anniversary, we contacted some past winners of the coveted statuette, awarded annually at the International Live Music Conference (ILMC) in London.
As well as learning what the arrival of Arthur meant to their professional lives (and where he resides in their homes and offices), we asked our alumni to share their hopes and dreams for the future; their most memorable ILMC and Gala Dinner moments; and what new Arthur category they might like to see in our annual awards show.
Following yesterday’s contribution from MGR Touring’s Gillian Park, it’s time for Lucy Noble, artistic and commercial director of five-time venue of the year (aka the First Venue to Come Into Your Head), the Royal Albert Hall, to offer her thoughts.
We’re delighted to get this industry recognition so many times, it’s a real honour and it feels so rewarding to know the impact we have with both customers and industry. Part of what makes the Hall such an exciting place to work is the diversity of the artists and partners that come through the door – it’s that constantly evolving troupe that lets us reach so many different audiences, and helps us to achieve this recognition.
We keep our Arthurs in our main boardroom, overlooking the 1851 memorial to Prince Albert, which may soon be replaced with a 20ft “Arthur” statue. It’s great to have them there anyway, as they watch over our plans for the future.
The amazing thing we find about this industry is that everyone has become a friend in some way. We really find that the networking is the most important part of ILMC, so it’s always fantastic to meet new people, and catch up with old friends.
“We really find that the networking is the most important part of ILMC, so it’s always fantastic to meet new people, and catch up with old friends”
Frankly, there are so many brilliant teams working at venues around the world, and we’d love to see a new Arthur to spotlight some of behind the scenes. But we would say that, wouldn’t we.
Looking ahead to the next decade, people’s expectations of live events are going to be higher than ever, so we’re looking to constantly measure and adapt – from the moment a customer hears about an event, to their purchase path, the visit itself and the show production, to the ways we communicate with them afterwards. Technology is allowing the industry to present and promote in so many new ways, whether that’s in the brilliant productions on stage, or the touch-points around that, so we’re going to keep pushing those boundaries ourselves to keep delivering those unforgettable experiences.
We’re hoping to keep seeing young people engaging with music – whether at school or at home, by listening, performing or writing. It’s great to see how technology can help people share their experiences, but at the same time we’d like to see fewer phones at events – for audiences to shift that focus back to the live moment and the experience itself.
Other previous First Venue to Come Into Your Head award winners include the O2 Arena, 02 Academy Brixton, Wembley Arena, Ahoy Rotterdam, Colorline Arena, Earls Court, SECC, Saku Suurhall, Paradiso and Shepherds Bush Empire.
Royal Albert Hall’s Young Producers applications open
Applications for this year’s Royal Albert Hall Young Producers course are now open. Now in its second year, the scheme is part of the Hall’s Education and Outreach programme and aims to give budding young music enthusiasts a chance to develop their skills.
The programme seeks to give a team of 12 young people the chance to curate their own mini-series. For sixth months, successful applicants will be given a crash course in programming, marketing and events management, with all the work culminating in two nights of events at the Royal Albert Hall in April 2019.
Last year’s efforts saw a team of 11 individuals aged between 18 and 25, from a range of different backgrounds, produce a two-day festival entitled ‘Collide’. The event sold itself as a “celebration of creative expression in the arts” and saw a collection of work and performances from street artists, up-and-coming-fashion designers and musicians.
“Sadly it is no longer the case that children are required to take an arts-based subject as part of their secondary education”
According to research done by the Royal Albert Hall, one in five 11-18 year-olds would pursue a career in technical or music production, if given the opportunity. However only one in three schools actually offer classes in production. The Young Producers programme is an attempt to remedy this, but Lucy Noble, artistic director at the Hall, says there is more to be done on a grander scale.
“Sadly it is no longer the case that children are required to take an arts-based subject as part of their secondary education and we believe this is to the detriment of the long term sustainability of the UK creative industries,” Noble says.
“While it is great the we here at the Hall are able to offer such a programme, there is an obvious supply and demand gap that secondary schools are not currently across.”
No previous experience is necessary, and applicants have previously come from school, university and the world of work. The closing date for applications is 3 September 2018. More information can be found on the venue’s website.
Beese: Balance key for venues promoting own shows
The Roundhouse’s head of music, Jane Beese, has spoken of the challenges involved in venues producing their own shows – and the importance of not “pissing off” promoters in the process.
Beese appeared at ILMC’s new Venue Summit on 9 March, where she was a panellist for the Industry relationships session alongside AEG Ogden’s Tim Horton, Emporium Presents’ Jason Zink, Kilimanjaro Live’s Stuart Galbraith, UTA’s Paul Ryan, Ticketmaster’s Doug Smith and chair Lucy Noble, of the Royal Albert Hall in London.
Noble asked all three venue operators (Beese, Horton and Noble) on the panel whether they promote their own shows – and, if so, how much friction it causes with promoters. Noble said part of her role at the Royal Albert Hall is to develop its own and co-productions, which currently make up around 14% of the venue’s total programming. These shows – although still a relatively small part of its business, so “no one should panic yet!” – are good for the venue as “we can control the brand more, have an input on artistic quality and link in our education and outreach programme,” she continued, “and, being honest, we do quite well financially out of them as well.”
Beese said the north London venue welcomes more than 100 shows a year from external promoters, so “balance is important: balance between promoters coming in, corporate events and our own programming, which also includes circus, spoken-word and performing-arts events.”
“We’ve had steal shows from us – and that’s the last time we’ll work with that venue”
“Promoters are a huge chunk of our business,” she continued, “so it’s not in our interest to be pissing them off.”
UTA agent Paul Ryan said he “see[s] it from both sides.” “The word ‘balance’ was used – I think that’s a good term,” he explained. “As an agent working across multiple territories, we’ve got to look at what’s good for the artist. Venues like the Royal Albert Hall and Roundhouse are a bit different, but if it’s a standard rock ’n’ roll venue […] there’s got to be a good reason why you’d want to go into a venue directly instead of dealing with a national promoter.”
Noble asked Kilimanjaro CEO Stuart Galbraith if he’d be angry if the Royal Albert Hall bid against him for a one-night show. “Yes!” he replied, to laughs. While “there are a lot of reasons why venues should self-promote in certain circumstances,” Galbraith said going promoter-free only works if the show is a “slam-dunk sell-out. If you’ve got a show that stops at 60% there’s nowhere else to go,” he commented. “That’s where we [the promoter] would make a difference.”
The reason he’d be angry if Kili and a venue both bid on the same show, he added, is because “you’d only bid on shows you think are going to sell out,” leaving the promoter to handle the riskier prospects.
Emporium Presents talent buyer Jason Zink said he’s had venues that have “stolen shows from us – and that’s the last time we’ll work with that venue.”
“Promoters are a huge chunk of our business. It’s not in our interest to be pissing them off”
The discussion also touched on ticketing: specifically the merits and drawbacks of venues operating their own box offices. Ticketmaster’s Doug Smith said it’s up to venues whether they want to ticket their own shows, but by doing so they miss out on Ticketmaster’s “good technology line [and] huge market reach.” “We want to assist you in selling out your venue,” he commented.
Zink said venues have be to sure that if they do go the self-ticketing route, they have the infrastructure in place to deal with demand. “We had a case last year – an arena show – where the website went down for an hour after on-sale,” he said. “That’s not acceptable: if people can’t buy tickets when they want to.”
Beese said the Roundhouse holds on to 70% of ticket inventory, with the remaining 30% going to the promoter. That’s not enough, said Galbraith: “Many venues now are saying you need to give us 60–70%, and then the only tickets that aren’t selling are the venue’s allocation. I have to pay to take them out of the box office, which is wrong. […] Venues are stopping us being able to effectively promote.”
“The proportion held back is sometimes an issue,” agreed Ryan. “As an agent, all I really care about is having those tickets spread as widely as possible.”