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Malaysia to set new rules for international acts

The Malaysian government is set to unveil new rules for international artists performing in the country.

The move follows complaints from political party PAS Youth in the wake of a show by Billie Eilish at Kuala Lumpur’s National Stadium Bukit Jalil last month.

PAS said it would hold protests unless the government cancelled all upcoming shows featuring overseas artists – claiming such events encourage hedonism. It had previously called for a Selena Gomez concert to be banned in 2016, alleging it promoted “western culture and hedonism”.

Currently, all concerts by foreign acts include conditions for organisers and a code of ethics for artists, including how they dress and behave on stage. According to The Star, the updated guidelines, which will be finalised by the end of the year. will take into account “all sensitivities of the Malaysian public”.

“We have actually been working on the new guidelines since 2019 to make them more relevant to the current industry’s needs”

“We have actually been working on the new guidelines since 2019 to make them more relevant to the current industry’s needs to keep up to date with the present situation and trends,” communications and multimedia ministry secretary-general Datuk Seri Mohammad Mentek tells the publication.

Association of Arts, Live International Festivals and Events (ALIFE) chair R. Para adds the Malaysian concert business had not yet fully rebounded from the effects of Covid.

“The live events industry in Malaysia is recovering, but for this year, the total revenue is only expected to reach 50% of pre-pandemic times,” he says. “Before the Covid-19 pandemic, combined business and entertainment events contributed almost RM1.2 billion [€263.3m] to the economy in 2019.

“We are projecting that it will at least hit half this number this year and surpass RM1.2bn in 2023.”

 


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ASM Global expands presence in Asia Pacific

ASM Global has partnered with the Malaysian ministry of youth and sports via Perbadanan Stadium Malaysia to enhance existing operations and event activity at the Kuala Lumpur Sports City precinct, the largest sports complex in the region.

The partnership bolsters the Malaysian government’s ambition to see the national sports precinct, based in Bukit Jalil, develop a world-class reputation as the host of leading sports, entertainment and community events.

It also expands ASM Global’s footprint in Asia with the addition of an iconic sports and events precinct, including the 87,400-seat Malaysia National Stadium.

The Malaysia National Stadium is not only the largest stadium in Asia outside North Korea, it is now the largest stadium in ASM Global’s worldwide collection.

ASM Global president and CEO Ron Bension, says: “We’re on a robust growth curve in this part of the world. The Kuala Lumpur Sports City precinct is representative of the types of projects we’re championing that significantly enrich the venue benefits and utilize our vast international expertise and best practices.”

“We’re on a robust growth curve in this part of the world”

Chairman and chief executive of ASM Global Asia Pacific and Gulf Region Harvey Lister AM, adds: “We firmly believe the Malaysia National Stadium and the Axiata Arena have the potential expressed by the Malaysia Sports Ministry, and we are proud to welcome the local teams and venues into our network of venues and support the precinct in helping deliver more events for the people of Malaysia and the region.”

Malaysia Sports Minister, Y.B. Dato’ Seri Ahmad Faizal bin Dato’ Azumu, comments: “We see this MOU as a great opportunity for PSM and ASM Global to enhance Kuala Lumpur Sports City to a premier destination in the global sports and event industry. Both National Stadium Bukit Jalil and Axiata Arena are iconic properties owned by the Malaysian people, and we owe them a responsibility to ensure these venues make us proud.”

ASM Global will partner with local Malaysian company Sportswork Sdn Bhd in delivering services for Kuala Lumpur Sports City.

ASM Global’s portfolio of venues in Asia Pacific include Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney; RAC Arena, Perth; Brisbane Entertainment Centre; Newcastle Entertainment Centre; Aware Super Theatre at ICC Sydney; BCEC Great Hall, Brisbane; Cairns Arena: Bangkok Arena and EM Live Theatre, Bangkok (under development), Coca Cola Arena, Dubai; Kai Tak Indoor Arena, Hong Kong; and Jeddah Arena, Saudi Arabia (under development).

 


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Bieber stadium gig confirmed as Malaysia opens up

Justin Bieber has confirmed his first concert in Malaysia in a decade as the country prepares to reopen its international borders on 1 April.

The singer will appear at Bukit Jalil National Stadium on 22 October as part of a newly announced leg of his Justice World Tour.

The venue, which is situated to the south of Kuala Lumpur, has previously welcomed artists such as Ed Sheeran, Linkin Park, Paramore, Kelly Clarkson and Usher.

Malaysia’s prime minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced earlier this month that quarantine-free travel and tourism would be allowed as part of a “transition phase” towards treating Covid-19 as endemic.

“it’s such a surreal feeling that we are able to make this announcement today, after a two-year pause”

“It’s such a surreal feeling that we are able to make this announcement today, after a two-year pause,” says Para R, MD of promoter PR Worldwide. “We are proud to bring the highly anticipated Justice World Tour to Malaysian fans this October.”

The tour is Bieber’s first global outing since 2016/2017’s Purpose world tour, which grossed $257 million, attracting 2,805,481 fans across 141 shows, according to Pollstar. Tickets for his return to Malaysia are priced between RM288 (€62) and RM1,088 (€234) and go on sale 31 March.

Bieber last performed in the country for an MTV World Stage event held at Sunway Lagoon, Kuala Lumpur in 2012. The Canadian singer will tour five continents from May 2022 to March 2023, travelling to over 20 countries for more than 90 dates. He has also added a 3 November date in Jakarta, Indonesia at the Gelora Bung Karno Madya Stadium.

PR Worldwide partnered with Live Nation in 2019 and has worked on tours and shows by acts including Bruno Mars, Lewis Capaldi, Charlie Puth, Ed Sheeran, Mariah Carey, Imagine Dragons and Shawn Mendes.

 


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Italy’s Vivaticket allies with MyTicket Asia

Malaysia-based SeatAdvisor has partnered with Vivaticket, the Italian multinational ticketing and technology company, as Vivaticket’s exclusive reseller in south-east Asia.

SeatAdvisor, whose MyTicket Asia platform looks after ticketing for some of the region’s biggest events and venues, including Malaysia’s Sepang International Circuit and Kuala Lumpur Sports City, becomes exclusive B2C resale partner to Bologna-based Vivaticket, whose ticketing and access-control products are used to sell over 650 million tickets annually across the world.

 

Dirk Sass, founder and CEO of MyTicket Asia, comments: “We are delighted to partner with Vivaticket as their exclusive reseller for the south-east Asia region. With our wide network and regional partners in Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam, Bangladesh and India, we will be able to bring first-class services and technology into stadiums throughout the region.

“We are also looking forward to building a bridge for Asian travellers to buy original tickets for venues and events managed by Vivaticket.

“This new collaboration will help us … to expand into an important market like the Asian one”

“Vivaticket is known to offer ticket services for many international artists, the largest soccer stadiums and competitions, as well as the reputable Disney California Adventure Park. This partnership open new avenues for both sides and further future discussions are on the way. Thank you to Luca and his team for the trust and faith to build the new future of Asia ticketing and stadium management.”

“Thanks to its ticketing system, Vivaticket already sells more than 651 million tickets per year in 50 countries, with over 2,700 installations, through responsive portals and mobile apps,” adds Luca Montebugnoli, executive chairman of Vivaticket. “This new collaboration with a partner of great value will help us to increase these numbers and to expand into an important market like the Asian one.”

Vivaticket, formerly Best Union, is one of three leading primary ticketing companies in Italy, along with Ticketmaster Italy and market leader TicketOne (CTS Eventim).

The company, which has offices in Italy, Spain, Australia, the UAE, the UK, France, the US and Singapore, was acquired by Bahrain-based Investcorp in September 2019.

 


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Keeping afloat: Livescape on why the live experience is “irreplaceable”

Asia was the first continent to bear the brunt of the coronavirus outbreak, but not all suffered the peak at the same time.

Speaking to promoters in China and South Korea at the end of March, IQ found that some more stringent restrictions were beginning to be lifted and a “cautious sense of optimism” was settling in, even if the return to touring as we know it is still a long way off.

Now, the situation in countries in southeast Asia, which had staved off sharp spikes in cases until relatively recently, is worsening. Cases in Singapore have begun to rise again, the Indonesian capital of Jakarta has entered lockdown and the Malaysian government has extended its social distancing measure for a second time, until 28 April.

IQ catches up with Iqbal Ameer, CEO of Livescape Group, which operates in all three markets, to discuss government reactions, consumer confidence and the live industry post Covid-19.

 


IQ: What have you learned so far from the Covid-19 outbreak?
IA: The most important thing? That supporting each other brings out the best in people. We’re no stranger to being dealt with shit cards in the deck, and as a company have had crazy challenges over the past ten years. But now this is a global scale, and we’ve really seen the importance of community and how it is a driving force in achieving anything.

We’ve also learnt that adaptability is key in situations like this. We are hard at work in extending our festival brands and our business model to be more digitally focused. We are proud of our festivals that we have built and carry those badges on our chest. The challenge here is to ensure that we continue to deliver the same Livescape experience to our fans during trying times.

When do you think the recovery might start in Asia Pacific and how is the Livescape Group preparing for this?
At this point in time, we are all uncertain about when the actual recovery period is. Although there has been significant advances in Asian countries compared to Europe and America, we are still remaining vigilant – anything can happen.

Asia-Pacific alone has over 51 million people affected in the music industry, and this is no small number

The Livescape Group is based in three countries: Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. We are anticipating post-Covid-19 to be vital in economic stimulation, and we are working with the respective government bodies to ensure that events can continue by implementing precautionary measures with a focus on the health and wellbeing of music fans.

We are also pivoting some of our assets to be more lifestyle orientated.

How do you feel about the government response to the situation across the markets you operate in?
We have seen most governments around the region offering stimulus packages to help with the nation’s economy during this unprecedented time. Unfortunately for some of us based in Malaysia, most of it does not benefit us directly. As a member of Alife (Association of the Arts, Live Festivals and Events), Livescape is having continuous open discussions with the Malaysian government about the issues of postponement or cancellations, and are demanding that we are considered as well. Asia-Pacific alone has over 51 million people affected in the music industry, and this is no small number.

However, countries such as South Korea and Singapore have set ideal global practices for other countries to follow suit; which would contribute to the speed of the recovery. With our festival It’s the Ship being based in Singapore, we are thankful for the swift and fast action of the Singaporean government. We support their initiatives to get the arts and live sector up and running as soon as possible. (The Singaporean government has provided a $55 million arts and culture resilience package, including $20,000 grants for digital projects).

What changes might we see long term across the industry, and the festival business in particular?
It is naive to say that this pandemic will not change the core nature of the festival business. Already, we are seeing festivals and artists venturing into the digital space with livestreaming performances along with an increase of creative content being shared out in hopes to connect during this void of live events with their fans and community. Although it is a short-term solution to fill the void of live events, we do not consider this to be a road to recovery, as we believe that the live event experiences are irreplaceable.

We also expect a stronger focus on local talents, due to the nature of the interaction of communities during this period of time, and local gigs would be quicker to pick up post Covid-19.

The global pandemic has impacted the events industry in an unprecedented manner but we are optimistic about the long-term demand for live, experiential experiences

Post Covid-19, people will also be more wary in terms of how they experience live events in large gathering situations. It is then our responsibility as event organisers to ensure that we have procedures in place to address concerns relating to the health and safety measures such as temperature checks and sanitisation booths.

In some ways, people will also come to realise what our company has been preaching for the past ten years: experience comes first. We definitely see a desire for people to connect in person and we will not discount the renaissance of the roaring 20s, an era that was sparked after a period of difficult times.

Being a floating festival, do you foresee any particular challenges with the future of It’s the Ship?
We feel the challenges are across the board for all festivals. I’d be lying if I said no, but we are optimistic and never risk the safety and wellbeing of our shipmates. That has always been a top priority of ours, unfortunately the term “the show must go on” does not apply to us in this situation.

We’ve been transparent with that in our community and in our communications, with a campaign revolving around #StayHomeToComeHome, where we continuously share relevant news and information through our social platforms.

Being a floating festival, It’s the Ship provides a unique experience in terms of venue, as it takes place onboard a ship. The advantage is the fact that the venue puts us in a controlled environment that allows us to manage and plan prior to the event itself. We are also working very closely with the cruise company, which has recently put in place comprehensive health and safety preventive measures for the ease and comfort of our attendees.

At Livescape, we’re thankful to the partners we work with, especially cruise lines that we work with who have offered extremely affordable rates to ensure that It’s the Ship continues its multiple voyages in the years to come.

In Asia in particular, the main challenge would be rebuilding people’s confidence in attending large-scale events

What more general challenges do you think the industry face getting back up to speed?
In Asia in particular, the main challenge would be rebuilding people’s confidence in attending large-scale events. Putting in health and safety preventive measures will be key in reassuring our community.

The global pandemic has impacted the events industry in an unprecedented manner but we are optimistic about the long-term demand for live, experiential experiences! With social distancing being practised globally, audiences will be craving live, interactive experiences more, which will create the opportunity for experiential events to bounce back at a greater scale.

At Livescape, what have you been doing to adapt to life in the wake of coronavirus?
With a strong team in a resilient industry, our team has been taking this time working from home to diversify our business models and digitising our assets and communities. Our core philosophy has remained the same, but our execution will differ, moving towards more digitalisation – something extremely adaptable. This will be more evident once all this is over.

Until then, we will embrace the changes, continue to evolve to adapt to the situation and to be there for our industry, as well as the local communities, to the best of our ability.

Livescape has continued to build relationships and trust with our clients and partners who have approached us with the same vision of diversifying in mind. We work hand-in-hand in developing some very successful campaigns for big and small SMEs alike and we highly recommend that other companies do the same and look into opportunities available.

Remember always: We write the future!

 


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20 before 2020: Live Nation buys into Malaysia’s PR Worldwide

Live Nation has acquired a controlling interest in the live entertainment division of PR Worldwide, one of Malaysia’s leading live events promoters, in its second acquisition announced this week and the 20th of the year.

Established in 1999, PR Worldwide is one of the most prominent promoters in the Asia-Pacific region, having previously worked with Live Nation on tours including Bruno Mars, Lewis Capaldi, Why Don’t We, Jim Jeffries and Charlie Puth. It has also promoted shows by the likes of Ed Sheeran, Mariah Carey, Imagine Dragons, Russell Peters, Shawn Mendes and Disney on Ice in its own right.

The pre-Christmas buy-in to PR follows the acquisition earlier this week of Chile’s DG Medios. IQ calculates that Live Nation has taken a majority shareholding in 20 promoters, festivals and other live music-related businesses so far this year across Asia (One Production, PR Worldwide), Australia (Moshtix), North America (Embrace PresentsNeste Event MarketingLevitateSpaceland PresentsBonnaroo, Groot Hospitality), Europe (Planet EventsBlockfestTons of RockAntwerps SportpaleisPDH MusicGo AheadRewind FestivalHög Agency) and Latin America (Rock in RioOcesa Entertainment, DG Medios).

“We are extremely proud to be taking our long-standing relationship with Live Nation to the next level,” comments Para Rajagopal, founder and CEO of PR Worldwide. “It gives us a unique opportunity to continue PR Worldwide’s 20-year commitment to the development of the Malaysian live entertainment industry. Together, we can strengthen Malaysia as one of the major live entertainment destinations while giving both artists and fans the very best live experiences.”

“We are excited to add yet another market to our Asia-Pacific network, which enables us to become the leading international concert promoter in Malaysia”

“Asia continues to be an extremely important region for growth and opportunity for Live Nation. By joining forces with PR Worldwide we are excited to add yet another market to our Asia-Pacific network, which enables us to become the leading international concert promoter in Malaysia,” says Paul Antonio, president of Live Nation Asia and Middle East.

“It is our pleasure to welcome Para Rajagopal and his team to the family and we look forward to working with them to service artists and offer unforgettable live experiences to fans across the region,”

Live Nation has Asia-Pacific offices in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Seoul, Singapore, Taipei, Bangkok, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Auckland. Earlier this year, the company announced its expansion to Singapore by acquiring leading promoter One Production and made senior appointments to its growing business in China.

It also recently launched Live Nation Connects, a creative marketing agency based in Hong Kong.

 


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Trailblazers: Godwin Pereira, Kyo

Welcome to the latest edition of Trailblazers – IQ’s regular series of Q&As with the inspirational figures forging their own paths in the global live entertainment business.

From people working in challenging conditions or markets to those simply bringing a fresh perspective to the music world, Trailblazers aims to spotlight unique individuals from all walks of life who are making a mark in one of the world’s most competitive industries. (Read the previous Trailblazers interview, with Aventus’s Annika Monari and Alan Vey, here.)

Following October’s interview with O Beach Ibiza’s Tony Truman, Trailblazers begins 2019 in conversation with another club boss: this time, Godwin Pereira, founder and CEO of south-east Asian club brand Kyō.

The Kyō brand debuted in Singapore in 2013, quickly becoming one of the city-state’s most popular clubs and pulling in international heavyweights such as François K, Osunlade and Nic Fanciulli for its house and techno nights. In December 2016, it expanded to Kuala Lumpur, opening a 6,000sqft, 770-capacity club (divided into two spaces, main room Kyō and smaller space Ren) at the city’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

Since opening, Kyō KL has welcomed DJs including Seth Troxler, Dubfire, Talib Kweli, Pan Pot and Jeremy Olander, and recently agreed a partnership with London’s the Egg that saw it take over the club in October.

“Kuala Lumpur has the right elements for a club concept like Kyō to thrive,” said Pereira last year. “It has a cosmopolitan dynamism and a music scene teeming with numerous subgenres and collectives, although there is yet to be one specific venue that caters to all of these genres. Kyō KL was created to fulfil this purpose: housing a spectrum of genres, both up-and-coming and forgotten, to bring together a community of music lovers who can enjoy these in one venue.”

 


How did you get your start in the industry?
I started young, in the back end, as a roadie and rigging boy. My interest grew from there – to learning the business, booking DJs, doing everything. It was a natural life path to somehow end up owning a club. It drives me nuts but it’s very rewarding and I love it still.

Who, or what, have been the biggest influences on your career so far?
DJs and music, first and foremost. Clubs like Paradise Garage and Studio 54 are influences, for sure – about how humans going into clubs and relate these emotions. [DJs like] François K and all that are huge inspirations for me.

What’s the most rewarding aspect of your job?
I say, when people ask, that I am in the business of selling memories. If people meet and hook up in my club, that’s a good enough job for me.

What achievements are you most proud of?
In terms of growth for such a small brand – we started in a back street in the business district. We started as a joke. And within five years we’re in a five-star hotel… I think coming from an underground club to a five-star hotel in a basement is a great achievement and shows how strong our brand is.

“We started as a joke. And within five years we’re in a five-star hotel”

How has the business changed since you started out?
I think when we started it was more underground. Our first three months was really an experimental lab. We were seeing what people were and were not responding to.

With this new club we have two rooms, so we have more intimate stuff upstairs and then went more mainstream in the main room. We can do the stuff we want to in the week, but more edgy in the small room at the weekend.

What could the industry do more of?
I think it’s just making artists more accessible. The biggest struggle for mid-sized clubs like us is that it’s hard to afford the big guys. That’s the hardest bit.

Some guys realise that – Seth Troxler and those guys were looking for an intimate vibe instead of the 60,000-people festivals, so we hope artists can see what we are trying to do for them: to offer more intimate shows.

What advice would you give to someone making their start in the industry?
Keep your head clear and have a great legal advisor. Just be hungry for information. That’s what keeps driving things forward.

Go and immerse yourself in something and experience it.

 


If you’d like to take part in a future Trailblazers interview, or nominate someone else for inclusion, email IQ’s news editor, Jon Chapple, on [email protected].

PAS: ‘“A good thing” tours are skipping Malaysia’

A spokesman for PAS, a hardline Islamist political party in Malaysia, has welcomed reports suggesting many international pop artists are giving the country a wide berth when routing their tours, saying a dearth of concerts will strengthen the moral fibre of Malaysian youth.

In an extraordinary article for party newspaper Harakah Daily, Riduan Mohamad Nor, a member of the PAS central committee, claims Malaysia’s Muslims are “saving the country” from “wild entertainment” – and that news of the cancellation of shows by Coldplay, Megadeth, Beyoncé, Celine Dion is a victory against the “spreading of the culture of entertainment”, which encourages God-fearing Malaysians to commit adultery, drink alcohol, take drugs, fight each other and indulge in other “vices” forbidden by conservative Islam.

Nor’s intervention comes after Reuters suggested late last year that international stars, “especially those known for risqué lyrics or revealing clothing”, are increasingly unlikely to choose to tour Malaysia.

According to a recent UN report, there is growing pressure for Malaysian Muslims, who make up 62% of the population, to adhere to a rigid, fundamentalist, Arabised version of Islam; consequently, said Darren Choy, chairman of the Recording Industry Association of Malaysia, the country will “not be the first choice for any act to tour” when in south-east Asia.

“Let those who worship international celebrities get their entertainment abroad”

That, writes Nor, is “a good thing especially for the […] the younger generation. We may be viewed negatively by some, but it can protect the society and the country.”

Concert promoters, he continues, “should know that Malaysia is not an entertainment hub.

“Let those who love entertainment, and worshipers of international celebrities, get their entertainment abroad. Go to any south-east Asian country to see those artists, but not in Malaysia.”

PAS (Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party), which holds 13 seats in Malaysia’s 222-seat House of Representatives, was last seen in IQ calling for the cancellation of a show by Selena Gomez, who it described as “too sexy” for Malaysia.

 


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TEG acquires Malaysia’s leading ticketer

TEG, the parent company of Australian ticketing giant Ticketek, has established an Asian division following the acquisition of Malaysia’s TicketCharge.

The new division, based in Singapore, will “focus on the strong growth in live entertainment in the region”, says TEG, and demonstrates the “focus and commitment to expand the [TEG] business into multiple Asian markets”.

TicketCharge was founded in 1991 and has since grown to become Malaysia’s largest ticketing company. It has offices in Kuala Lumpur and Penang.

The acquisition comes as TEG announces new partnerships for its Softix ticketing software in Asia, with the as-yet-unannounced new partners joining clients in 20 countries.

“Our strategy puts us on course to becoming a truly international promoter and service producer”

“TEG is the largest diversified entertainment company in Asia Pacific and we have a track record and accumulated expertise in the entertainment industry,” comments TEG CEO Geoff Jones.

“We see huge opportunities in many offshore markets, and our strategy puts us on course to becoming a truly international promoter and service producer.”

In addition to Ticketek, the largest entertainment/sports ticket agency in Australasia, the TEG portfolio includes self-service ticketing platform Eventopia, promoter TEG Live and data business TEG Analytics.

The company is believed to be for sale, with CTS Eventim and Chinese conglomerates Fosun and Wanda Group reportedly among prospective buyers.

 


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AirAsia to spin off concert ticketing business

Malaysian low-cost airline AirAsia is gearing up for a stock market float of its RedTix event ticketing operation, according to a new filing with the Bursa Malaysia stock exchange.

RedTix, previously operating as a division of AirAsia Bhd, is one of the region’s most popular local ticket agencies, with upcoming events including Malaysian shows by Taiwanese rock duo Power Station (pictured), Cantopop group Twins and Bollywood touring production Da-Bang.

By acquiring dormant shell company Rokki Media Holdings and rebranding it RedTix Sdn Bhd, AirAsia Bhd (AAB) will, says the filing, be able to “float the RedTix event ticketing business in the future, which currently resides within AAB, as a separate entity by itself to enable it to have an independent and focused management to drive the […] business”.

The new company’s directors are Sami Joseph El Hadery, the co-founder of AirAsia’s Tune Box inflight entertainment brand, and the airline’s chief financial officer, How Kim Lian.

 


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