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Four sentenced over Madonna stage collapse

Four professionals including the former head of operations for Live Nation France have been sentenced, following the collapse of a stage in France in 2009 that killed two people.

Technicians had been setting up the stage at the Velodrome stadium in Marseille for a Madonna concert when the partially-built roof fell in, bringing down a crane.

Charles Criscenzo, a 52-year-old French worker, and Charles Prow, a 23-year-old Briton, were killed while eight other workers sustained injuries in the accident. One of the injured workers took his own life two years later.

Yesterday (17 February), the magistrates of the court of Marseille (south), where the concert was to be held in 2009, convicted four defendants of manslaughter and involuntary damages, and acquitted three other defendants.

Live Nation France was ordered to pay a €150,000 fine, and Tour Concept €50,000

After a decade-long investigation, Jacqueline Bitton, at the time head of the French operations for Live Nation, received the most severe sentence: a suspended two-year prison term and a fine of €20,000.

Tim Norman, head of the British firm Edwin Shirley Group (ESG) which owned the stage, received a suspended two-year term as well as a €15,000 fine.

A manager at a French subcontractor hired by ESG, Tour Concept France, was given a suspended 18-month sentence and a €10,000 fine, while a British foreman hired for the job by ESG got an 18-month suspended sentence.

Live Nation France was ordered to pay a €150,000 fine, and Tour Concept €50,000.

After the concert was cancelled, Madonna said she was “shocked” by what happened and sent her condolences to the families of the victims. She did not appear at the trial.

The 60,000-seater Velodrome is France’s second-biggest sports arena and home to the Olympique de Marseille football club.


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Live Nation SVP International steps down

Jason Miller, senior vice president of international and emerging markets at Live Nation, has announced that he is leaving the live entertainment giant after over seven years.

Miller held his most recent role at Live Nation since 2016, after previously serving as senior vice president of the company’s operations in Asia.  

Prior to joining Live Nation, he operated a concert consultancy and spent more than a decade as an agent at CAA.

“I am humbled by the record-breaking tours this team executed”

In a social media post, replicated by Celebrity Access, the live industry veteran wrote that he had “officially moved on” from his role at Live Nation.

“I am incredibly proud of the team I built at Live Nation. I am humbled by the record-breaking tours this team executed (U2, Coldplay, Madonna, Bruno Mars, Guns & Roses, etc, etc),” reads the post.

“I am grateful for all the career changing experiences I’ve had at Live Nation over the last 7+ years.”

Miller adds that he is unsure “where my next adventure will lead, but I am excited for what the future holds.”


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Cyrus cancels bushfire benefit, but Aus GP to go ahead

Miley Cyrus has cancelled her headline performance at the World Tour Bushfire Relief show in Melbourne this Friday (13 March) owing to concerns over the spread of coronavirus.

The show – part of Apollo World Touring and Westbrook Inc.’s new World Tour concert series – was due to take place at Lakeside Stadium on the eve of this weekend’s Australian grand prix, with Lil Nas X and the Veronicas also due to perform.

“Due to the recommendations of local, state, federal and international government authorities, including the [US] Center for Disease Control, to reduce potential health risks in response to the current global health crisis we are no longer traveling to Aus for the show,” Cyrus announced on Twitter yesterday.

Following Cyrus’s cancellation, promoter TEG Dainty said the whole show had been cancelled and that fans would receive a refund via ticket agency Ticketek.

“World Tour’s Saturday night show with Robbie Williams will still be going ahead, and we look forward to bringing Melbourne a fantastic night of entertainment,” reads a statement from TEG Dainty. “Robbie is already on his way to Australia.”

The Australian grand prix – the opening race of the 2020 Formula 1 season – will still go ahead as planned this Sunday (15 March), say organisers.

Andrew Westacott, CEO of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation, says – unlike 20 March’s Bahrain grand prix, which will be spectator-less – the race will go ahead with fans in attendance. “We’ve got to go around things sensibly,” he says “We have to keep moving on through life while taking precautions.”

Professor Brendan Murphy, the chief medical officer for the Australian government, said that holding Sunday’s race would not pose a risk to public health, reports the BBC.

“I’m not feeling at all concerned going to mass gatherings or walking down the streets in Victoria,” he said. “So I don’t think that there’s a risk at the grand prix.”

“We have to keep moving on through life while taking precautions”

Other high-profile Covid-19-related cancellations over the last 24 hours include Madonna’s Madame X world tour, which has lost its final two shows in France, and Pearl Jam, who have been forced to call off a 17-date North American tour.

The Queen of Pop was due to play the 2,800-capacity Grand Rex in Paris tonight and tomorrow (10–11 March). However, as of Sunday (8 March), the French government has outlawed gatherings of more than 1,000 people (down from a previous ban of shows over 5,000 fans), meaning that (“with profound regret” on Madonna’s part) the concerts cannot go ahead.

Meanwhile, Pearl Jam have postponed a North American trek due to begin in Toronto on 18 March.

“We are being told that being part of large gatherings is high on the list of things to avoid, as this global health crisis is now beginning to affect all of our lives,” reads a statement from the grunge veterans.

“So it is with deep frustration and regret that we are forced to make this most unfortunate of announcements.” A European tour is due to begin in June.

Photo © Raph_PH on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)


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Ill health affects major tours despite best efforts

Worldwide concert tours by Ozzy Osbourne and Elton John have been disrupted this week, as the stars battle with poor health.

Earlier today (18 February), Ozzy Osbourne cancelled the North American leg of his upcoming No More Tours 2 tour – which had been rescheduled from last year – “to recover from various health issues”.

“I don’t want to start a tour and then cancel shows at the last minute, as it’s just not fair to the fans,” reads a statement on the singer’s website. “I’d rather they get a refund now and when I do the North American tour down the road, everyone who bought a ticket for these shows will be the first ones in line to purchase tickets at that time.”

Osbourne was due to start the Live Nation-promoted tour in Atlanta at the end of May. A run of European tour dates starting in October 2020 are currently due to go ahead as planned.

Another artist to experience health-related issues this week is Elton John, who was forced to leave the stage during a show at Auckland’s Mount Smart Stadium in New Zealand on Sunday night. The singer had been diagnosed with walking pneumonia – a milder strain of the illness – earlier that day.

“I don’t want to start a tour and then cancel shows at the last minute, as it’s just not fair to the fans”

Chugg Entertainment, which is promoting Elton John’s upcoming shows in New Zealand and Australia, has confirmed that the star’s two remaining Auckland dates will be postponed to 2021.

“Despite the best efforts of a performer who never wants to disappoint his fans, upon further consultation from doctors and specialists, it has this evening been decided that Sir Elton John’s two remaining Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland, performances will be rescheduled to Friday 15 and Saturday 16 January 2021,” reads a press statement.

The rescheduled dates extend the singer’s mammoth Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour, which was due to conclude at London’s O2 Arena on 17 December 2020. Tickets for this year’s postponed shows will be valid for the dates in 2021, with those unable to attend next year able to request a refund via Ticketmaster.

Ill health has also troubled Madonna recently, causing the cancellation of 11 of the 93 dates on her Madame X tour. The singer called off three shows of her recent 14-show residency at London’s Palladium theatre due to injury.

“As you all know I have multiple injuries and have had to cancel shows to give me time to recover,” said the artist in a statement.

Photo: Ernst Vikne/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0) (cropped)


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The decade in live: 2012

The start of a new year and, perhaps more significantly, a new decade is fast approaching – and while many may be thinking ahead to New Year’s Eve plans and well-meaning 2020 resolutions, IQ is casting its mind back to the most pivotal industry moments of the last ten years.

As in the previous 12 months, 2012 saw the live music industry still grappling with the effects of the global economic crisis, with many countries just beginning to clamber out of recession and others heading for dreaded ‘double dips’.

This continuing economic uncertainty naturally bit into the leisure spend of discriminating ticket buyers with a variety of entertainment options – though the world did not, as predicted by some long-dead Mexicans, come to an end.

Elsewhere, the weather gods interfered with yet more festivals, while Hurricane Sandy had a devastating effect on the industry in the New York area. In the UK, meanwhile, the Olympics scored on many levels, but provided far too much competition for many.


2012 in numbers

The top 50 worldwide tours grossed a combined US$3 billion in 2012, according to Pollstar, down around 2% from $3.07bn in 2011.

Madonna’s MDNA tour was the clear No1, grossing $296.1 million, ahead of second-placed Bruce Springsteen, whose E Street Band earned $210.2m. Both acts played to more than 2m fans worldwide 2012.

Roger Waters’ The Wall generated $186.4m to come in at No3, and was also the highest-ranking hold-over from the 2011 chart, where he placed No5 with a gross of $103.6 million.

Reflecting the lingering impact of the financial crisis, the total tickets sold by the top 50 tours was 34.9m, which continued the decline from 35.5m the previous year (and well off the pace from 2009, when the top 50 sold 45.3 million, says Pollstar).


2012 in brief

FKP Scorpio buys a stake in Utrecht-based booking agency and artist management company Friendly Fire.

Touring festival Big Day Out calls time on its New Zealand leg after promoter Ken West admits that falling audience numbers have made the Auckland show unviable.


Madonna sparks controversy when she tells Newsweek  magazine fans should “work all year, scrape the money together” for a $300 ticket to her MDNA tour.

Private-equity firm CVC Asia Pacific puts its Australian ticketing company, Ticketek, and Sydney’s Allphones Arena up for a sale in a bid to reduce a A$2.7bn (€2.1bn) debt run-up by Nine Entertainment, which owns the assets.

Stuart Galbraith buys out AEG’s 50% stake in Kilimanjaro Live for an undisclosed sum. Both parties say they will continue to work together on events in future. (Kili later cancels the 2012 edition of Sonisphere at Knebworth, which was to have featured Kiss, Faith No More and Marilyn Manson.)

Ebay-owned secondary ticketing service, StubHub, launches operations in the UK and admits it is looking at further expansion across Europe.

Roger Waters's The Wall tour was the third most lucrative of 2012

Roger Waters’s The Wall tour was the third most lucrative of 2012 (© Brennan Schnell/Eastscene.com/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.0))

Serbian authorities arrest the venue owner and other individuals following a fire at the Contrast nightclub in Novi Sad that leaves six people dead.

Tupac Shakur, who died 15 years previous, is the main talking point at Coachella, as a multimillion-dollar hologram of the rapper appears on stage alongside Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg.

Viagogo raises eyebrows by shifting its operational base from the UK to Switzerland, amid speculation it wants to resell tickets for the Olympic Games without falling foul of British law.

Investment firm Silver Lake Partners completes a transaction to acquire a 31% stake in William Morris Endeavor.

Former AEG Germany CEO Detlef Kornett forms a venue consultancy, Verescon, with DEAG with Peter Schwenkow.

Swedish telecom operator Tele2 pays an undisclosed sum to secure naming rights for Stockholm’s new 40,000-capacity stadium, operated by AEG.

Paul McCartney, Mike Oldfield and Dizzee Rascal performed at the London 2012 opening ceremony
Paul McCartney, Mike Oldfield and Dizzee Rascal performed at the London 2012 opening ceremony (© Matt Deegan/Flickr (CC BY 2.0))

Live Nation appoints former CAA exec David Zedeck to the role of executive VP and president of global talent and artist development.

Artists including Paul McCartney, Mike Oldfield, Dizzee Rascal and Emeli Sandé are each paid £1 for their performances at the Olympics opening ceremony. The show attracts 26.9m viewers in the UK alone, and billions more worldwide.

Three members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot are jailed for two years each, after staging an anti-Vladimir Putin protest in a Moscow cathedral.

AEG drops its claim against Lloyd’s of London on a multimillion-dollar insurance policy, following the death of Michael Jackson.

C3 Presents’ Lollapalooza debuted in Brazil in AprilC3 Presents’ Lollapalooza debuted in Brazil in April (© Henrique Oli/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0))

Glastonbury Festival takes just 100 minutes to sell out all 135,000 tickets for next summer’s event, despite not naming a single act on the 2013 bill.

C3 Presents extends an arrangement with Globo Organization’s GEO for more events in Brazil, following a successful Lollapalooza.

AEG is awarded the contract to take over shows at London’s prestigious Hyde Park, ending Live Nation’s decade-long relationship with the 80,000-capacity space.

Frank Barsalona, founder of Premier Talent, dies aged 74. Premier was the first agency to work exclusively with rock artists, with clients including the Yardbirds, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, U2 and Van Halen.

The Wall Street Journal reports that a number of bidders are in contention to acquire AEG, despite a reported $10bn asking price.

Irving Azoff unexpectedly resigns as chairman of Live Nation and CEO of its Front Line Management Group, to concentrate on his own artist management company.


Whitney Houston

Who we lost

Notable industry deaths in 2012 included South by Southwest creative director Brent Grulke, Lasse Ollsen of Swedish promoter Viva Art Music, Jon Lord of Deep Purple, Armin Rahn, founder of Munich-based Armin Rahn Agency and Management, Radiohead drum tech Scott Johnson, Perth Arena general manager David Humphreys, R&B legend Etta James, pop powerhouse Whitney Houston, the Bee Gees’ Robin Gibb, disco diva Donna Summer, the Monkees’ Davy Jones and legendary agents Armin Rahm and Frank Barsalona.


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Biggest music line-up ever for Pride events

As London gears up for its Pride parade this Saturday (6 July), live music is playing an increasingly important part in Pride events across the globe, with artists are doing their bit to further equality.

The London event, featuring performances from Billy Porter and X Factor star Saara Aalto, marks the end of Pride month, a worldwide celebration of the LGBT+ community and of that community’s movement for equality.

In June, Pride parades and festivals took place in cities including Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Sao Paulo and Sydney, with more scheduled throughout the UK and Europe over the coming months.

Pride events in New York saw performances from Madonna, Lady Gaga, Lizzo and Alicia Keys. In Los Angeles Meghan Trainor, Years and Years, Cristian Castro and the Veronicas featured on the Pride festival line-up.

Across the Atlantic, “LGBT+ icon” Kylie Minogue will headline Brighton’s Pride in the Park on Saturday 3 August, fresh from her appearance at Glastonbury Festival. Joining Kylie at the event will be Grace Jones, Jessie J and Clean Bandit.

Manchester is putting on arguably one of the biggest live music events of the Pride calendar, taking over Broadwick Venue’s Mayfield Depot (10,000-cap.) for a ticketed, two-day music event, Manchester Pride Live.

Organisers “expect to see record attendance” as acts such as Ariana Grande, Cheryl and Basement Jaxx prepare to grace the stage.

“Celebrating LGBT+ life means a great deal to each of the artists performing at the festival this year,” Manchester Pride chief executive Mark Fletcher tells IQ.

“Celebrating LGBT+ life means a great deal to each of the artists performing at the festival this year”

“We work closely with agents and management to ensure that all artists are clear on the importance of Pride celebrations and this year we’ve actually received more requests than ever from artists who want to come along to perform at the festival to show their support for the campaign for greater LGBT+ equality.”

The choice of heterosexual Grande as the Manchester Pride Live headliner sparked complaints from some members of the LGBT+ community, according to Variety, as did the selection of non-LGTB+ artists at other Pride events.

However, the Manchester Pride boss states the event always aims “to ensure there is clear representation from LGBT+ artists on the line-up” and stresses that the appearance of any high-profile artists “is very important to our audience”.

“Whether they are LGBT+ or allies, the message that is displayed through the appearance of high-profile artists is clear for the world to see: We stand as one to tackle the inequalities and discrimination that is still faced by LGBT+ people today,” comments Fletcher.

“Music and performance represent freedom and happiness which both play a huge part in what we stand for,” adds Fletcher. “Music is at the heart of our Pride celebrations in Manchester and the music we showcase helps to create a vibrant atmosphere of unity.”

Manchester Pride Live weekend tickets are priced at £64.50 plus booking fees and are available here.


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Politics overshadows successful 64th Eurovision

The 64th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest wrapped up on Saturday at Expo Tel Aviv’s Pavilion 2 (10,000-cap.), Israel, in a contest that has seen the music industry divided on political, rather than musical, issues.

The Netherlands won Eurovision 2019 with singer-songwriter Duncan Laurence’s performance of piano ballad ‘Arcade’. The Dutch artist received 492 points, followed by Italy’s Mahmood with 465 and Russia’s Sergey Lazarev with 369. The UK’s Michael Rice placed last, with a total of 16 points, for his rendition of ‘Bigger Than Us’.

“I have been so delighted with this year’s competition and we have all been very impressed with the wonderful talented artists who have taken part this year,” says Jon Ola Sand, the European Boradcating Union’s (EBU) head of live events and the executive supervisor of the Eurovision Song Contest.

“I would like to thank them for the hard work and dedication they have given us. Each artist has brought something unique to the contest and embodied what this contest is about,” adds Sand.

However, music was not the main topic of conversation surrounding Eurovision 2019. Following the win of Israeli act Netta Barzilai last year, the 2019 competition took place in Tel Aviv, sparking controversy due to the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Despite calls to boycott the event, Madonna performed at the grand final on Saturday night. The singer opened her performance with a call for unity, declaring: “Let’s never underestimate the power of music to bring people together.”

Madonna’s rendition of her new single ‘Future’ featured two dancers who displayed Israeli and Palestinian flags on their backs, walking arm-in-arm.

“Each artist has brought something unique to the contest and embodied what this contest is about”

Icelandic act Hatari, who finished in tenth place, also displayed Palestinian flags during the contest.

The EBU states that both sets of artists violate its rules, which designate Eurovision as a “non-political event”.

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel denounced what it called the “fig-leaf gestures of solidarity from international artists”.

Ticket sales for this year’s Eurovision were lower than expected. According to Israeli paper Globes, between 5,000 and 7,000 foreign guests visited the country for Eurovision, including the participating artists’ delegations and journalists. Previous predictions expected the competition to attract between 20,000 and 30,000 tourists.

Local media puts the low numbers down to high hotel rates and steep ticket prices. Tickets to Saturday’s final set fans back £373 for prime seats and £252 for standard seats. Tickets for last year’s final, held at the Altice Arena in Lisbon, Portugal, cost between £31 and £262.

Calls for a boycott may have also have affected ticket sales.

“Let’s never underestimate the power of music to bring people together”

The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, an initiative working to “pressure Israel to comply with international law”, initiated the call for a boycott of Eurovision 2019. BDS claims that more than 150,000 people responded to its call, including artists and music-related organisations.

Musicians including Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, Wolf Alice and Brian Eno urged a boycott of the event, due to Israel’s “grave, decades-old violations of Palestinian human rights”.

The Musicians’ Union of Ireland similarly supported the boycott, calling on its members to attend protests in support of sidelining the contest.

Entertainment industry non-profit organisation, the Creative Community For Peace (CCFP), established a movement to oppose the boycott, stating that music “transcends boundaries and brings people together”.

The CCFP initiative has more than 35,000 signatories, including Sharon Osbourne, Gene Simmons and Justin Bieber manager Scooter Braun, as well as individuals from the Madison Square Garden Company, the Recording Academy/ Grammys and AEG Presents.


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Guy Oseary raises nearly $150k for NZ shooting victims

Maverick executive Guy Oseary has launched a GoFundMe campaign to support those affected by the mass shootings at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, making a personal contribution of US$18,000.

“Forty-nine dead in terror attack at New Zealand mosques. We woke up to this news this morning. My heart breaks for the victims and for their families,” writes Oseary on his Christchurch Mosques Fundraiser page.

At press time, the GoFundMe page had raised $145,000, receiving donations from entertainment industry figures including Oseary’s longtime client Madonna, Live Nation chief executive Michael Rapino, American comedian Chris Rock, Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea Balzary and DJ and Apple Music executive Zane Lowe.

“We will work with GoFundMe to ensure all funds are transferred to an organisation providing support to the families and community”

“We will work with GoFundMe to ensure all funds are transferred to an organisation providing support to the families and community,” states Oseary in an Instagram post, adding that “additional information about the distribution of funds” will be provided when available.

Oseary set up a similar GoFundMe page in 2018 following a mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue. In reference to the previous campaign, Oseary posted that “this time around, it was important for me – an Israeli Jew – to show love and care for the Muslim community on another painful, sad day that left 50 innocent people dead in New Zealand.”

Oseary formed the current incarnation of Maverick in 2014 as a joint venture with Live Nation. He is a co-founder of Israeli promoter Bluestone Entertainment, launching Ticketmaster Israel in conjunction with Live Nation in 2017. Maverick manages Madonna, U2, Miley Cyrus, the Weeknd and Shania Twain.

Donations to the Christchurch Mosques Fundraiser page can be made here.


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The Rolling Stones are top-selling act of Q1 2016

The Rolling Stones have sold the most tickets of any artist worldwide in 2016 so far.

A total of 729,292 people bought tickets to see the Stones – who wrapped up their América Latina Olé tour of Latin America with an historic concert in Havana on 25 March – between 1 January and 31 March, reveals Pollstar’s chart of the top 100 tours of the first quarter (Q1) of 2016.

The British rock aristocrats’ previous tour, the AEG Live-promoted 15-date Zip Code tour of North America, was the 10th most lucrative of 2015, grossing US$109.7 million from 628,733 tickets in a year in which just four American artists placed in the global top 10.

The Winter Jam tour of Christian rock, pop, rap and contemporary Christian music (CCM) bands, headlined by Christian pop duo For King & Country, places second in the year to date with 504,124 tickets sold, with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band (467,321), Maroon 5 (451,761) and Madonna (380,669) rounding out the top five.

A total of 729,292 people bought tickets to see The Rolling Stones between 1 January and 31 March

Iron Maiden are sixth, having shifted 340,472 tickets to their The Book of Souls world tour, which kicked off on 24 February and is already on its second jumbo jet, closely followed by non-music shows Disney on Ice (339,028) Cirque du Soleil’s Varekai (265,778) and the Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus (252,571). Ricky Martin is 10th, with 232,015 units sold.

Muse, touring in support of their seventh studio album, Drones, sold 196,680 tickets to place 16th, with Adele (183,553) and The Who (157,447) not far behind, in 18th and 21st, respectively. Black Sabbath (130,871) are doing good numbers on their final tourThe End, placing 28th, with currently-without-a-lead-singer AC/DC 30th, having sold 120,558 tickets in 2016 so far.

Live Nation and AEG Live were, unsurprisingly, the top two promoters – first and second with 3,306,032 and 2,658,628 tickets sold, respectively – with T4F of Brazil in third (981,090), Mexico’s CIE in fourth (868,876) and Florida-based Feld Entertainment in fifth (658,972). British outfit SJM Concerts, in seventh with 522,388 tickets sold, was the highest-placing European promoter.