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Second scheme to purchase music venues launches

A second scheme to purchase music venues in order to secure their long-term futures has launched – this time, in the UK.

Music Venue Trust (MVT), the UK charity that represents hundreds of grassroots music venues, today (23 May) announced an ambitious initiative to buy the freehold of grassroots music venue (GMV) properties.

A similar enterprise was launched in the US in 2020 by former WME music execs Marc Geiger and John Fogelman. Under the banner SaveLive, the pair amassed a multi-million-dollar war chest to “bailout” struggling US music venues.

MVT, on the other hand, has launched a Charitable Community Benefit Society (CCBS) named Music Venue Properties (MVP) in order to buy venues in the UK.

Unlike a charity, a CCBS can raise money through community shares purchased by, say, music fans and ethical investors. Anyone who buys a share will help raise funds to allow MVP to buy freeholds, whilst also receiving a 3% APR return on their investment.

Mark Dayvd, CEO of Music Venue Trust says, “This is the most ambitious initiative Music Venue Trust has ever undertaken. The long-term security and prosperity of grassroots music venues depends almost entirely on one thing – ownership. Too many have been at the mercy of some commercial landlords whose motivations revolve primarily around profit. We have lost over a third of our venues in the last 20 years and with over 90% having only 18 months left on their tenancies we are at the cliff edge and could see the decimation of our sector if we don’t do something radical about it.

“The Music Venue Properties scheme will allow ethical investors and music fans to invest in the future of live music while receiving a healthy return on their money. Our #SaveOurVenues campaign launched during the pandemic raised over £4.1m with more than 80,000 people contributing. We already have the crowd – we just need to ask them to invest from 23 May and are confident they will.”

“The long-term security and prosperity of grassroots music venues depends almost entirely on one thing – ownership”

MVP has identified nine venues for a pilot project that will allow the scheme to establish proof of concept; six venues in England; one in Scotland; two in Wales.

With an initial target of £3.5 million to purchase these venues, the first of these Community Share Offers will launch later this month on (23 May). MVP hopes to purchase these venues before the end of 2022.

Further venue freeholds will be identified and secured as and when they become available, and MVP will continue to raise funds through selling community shares and borrowing against the freeholds purchased. All rental income subsequently received from the purchase of venues will be reinvested towards the expansion of the portfolio.

MVP says that on completion of purchase, it will offer the majority of current operators an immediate rent reduction and help contribute to building repairs and insurance, while also “guaranteeing long term security and market resistant rents”.

According to MVT, the issue of ownership underpins almost every other challenge that GMVs have faced during the last twenty years including gentrification, noise complaints, under-investment, poor economic models, and an inability to plan for the future.

Over 35% of GMVs have closed in the last 20 years and 93% of them are tenants with the typical operator only having 18 months left on their tenancy. Since the start of the Covid crisis, the sector has acquired over £90m of new debt, yet 67% of Culture Recovery Fund grant aid was paid directly to landlords.

Elsewhere, Geiger and Fogelman’s SaveLive recently announced its first round of venue partners, as well as a $135m round of investment.

 


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Marc Geiger’s SaveLive hires talent buyer Gary Spivack

Veteran talent buyer Gary Spivack has joined SaveLive, the “war chest” launched in 2020 by former WME music execs Marc Geiger and John Fogelman to “bailout” struggling US music venues.

Under his role as senior executive of music, Spivack will work with the SaveLive network to enhance day to day operations and long-range business, according to an announcement.

“Over my career, I’ve had the privilege to work with some of the biggest acts on the planet from Radiohead to Metallica and many in between,” says Spivack. “But to those who know me, it’s been and always will be about music discovery and breaking artists. It’s about finding the next Turnstile, Halestorm, Greta Van Fleet.”

Spivack was most recently EVP of talent and curation at festival producer Danny Wimmer Presents (DWP) and says he will remain as a contractor and consultant to help book DWP’s rock-centric festivals.

“To join the all-star team at SaveLive is an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up,”

“To join the all-star team at SaveLive is an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up,” Spivack adds. “It’s about championing the indies. I’m a big fan of the independent venue community and support independent-minded artists. Thanks to DWP I’ve been able to spread my creative wings and curate some of the world’s top rock festivals under its umbrella. On a personal note, Marc has been a mentor, a peer and a close friend for years so coming in as a senior executive at SaveLive is beyond exciting and I’m ready for this journey. Let’s go!”

SaveLive’s website went online in early April, along with news of the first round of venue partners and a US$135 million round of financing.

Geiger adds: “We are building a network of indie venues and promoters and we need the best possible team made up of great humans with a passionate love of music. Gary fits that bill. For years I have watched him grow into the rock and alternative guru he is now, and we are excited for him to bring that expertise to the SaveLive community.”

Spivak joins a team including notable industry execs such as Jorge Avila (talent buyer, Latinx and world), Evelyn Chia (talent buyer, electronic and alt/indie), Cristian Morales (talent buyer, Latinx and world), Ashlin Palmer (talent buyer, country and Americana and folk), Anthony Paolercio (talent buyer, all genres), Nadia Prescher (head of music), and more are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

 


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Marc Geiger’s SaveLive reveals first venue partners

SaveLive, the “war chest” launched in 2020 by former WME music execs Marc Geiger and John Fogelman to “bail out” struggling US music venues, has announced its first round of venue partners.

The company yesterday (5 April) unveiled partnerships with some 20 mid-size venues including The Alibi in Palm Springs (California), The Golden State Theater in Monterey (California) and Hammerjacks in Baltimore (Maryland), with “many more to come.”

SaveLive has also completed its first round of financing, raising US$135 million from investors including Breyer Capital, Deep Field Asset Management, Raptor Group, and Shamrock Capital.

At the time of the company’s launch in October of 2020, Geiger said the plan was to invest in small venues and build an indie touring network to revive the live scene, using funds secured during an initial investment round.

Initially, SaveLive intended to buy at least 51% of the equity in those clubs though a rep for the company says that is not the case for all of the partnerships and each one is bespoke.

“Getting involved with Marc, John, and SaveLive to re-launch the Golden State Theatre in Monterey, CA was a no brainer”

Geiger said: “When John and I started this mission in late 2020, the live business was feeling pretty hopeless as the pandemic was hitting the sector head on. All I did during this time was listen to music and obsess on ideas on how to help the independent live industry.

“It was clear streaming services plus the pandemic changed the concert industry for good and web 3.0 is going to change it even more. We used that downtime to raise capital of like-minded and long-term investors, build a music focused team of professionals, and ultimately build out version 1.0 of our partner network. 18 months later, the live business is rushing back to record levels…and it’s time to launch.”

The Alibi’s Liz Garo adds: “As an independent booker for Spaceland, The Echo, and 100 other places since the beginning of time, being able to partner with SaveLive is a dream come true. [Alibi co-owner] Melanie Tusquellas and I can stay true to our roots knowing we have their full support, whether it’s finance, booking, marketing, sponsorship, questions about the bar or just bouncing ideas off the team. It doesn’t hurt that we’ve known some of the people at SaveLive for years – we all came up through the business together.”

Golden State Theatre owner and Ineffable Music president Thomas Cussins comments: “As Ineffable Music continues to focus on bringing top notch national acts to secondary and tertiary markets, getting involved with Marc, John, and SaveLive to re-launch the Golden State Theatre in Monterey, CA was a no brainer.

“At Ineffable, we open new outlets for touring acts, creating a more vibrant live music scene–both for the artists and for the fans who deserve to have great music in their backyard. Having SaveLive in our corner gives us even more confidence to keep growing our business.”

See SaveLive’s first round of partner venues below:

The Alibi, Palm Springs, CA
The Golden State Theater, Monterey, CA
Hammerjacks, Baltimore, MD
The Marquis (formerly Harry O’s and Park City Live), Park City, UT
The Criterion Ballroom, Oklahoma City, OK
Tower Theatre, Oklahoma City, OK
Beer City Music Hall, Oklahoma City, OK
Ponyboy, Oklahoma City, OK
Tech Port Arena, San Antonio, TX
Tobin Center, San Antonio, TX
Elektricity, Pontiac, MI
Deuterman Productions, Various, FL
Patchwork Presents, National

 


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IQ 108 out now: 10 things we learned from the pandemic

IQ 108, the latest issue of the international live music industry’s favourite monthly magazine, is available to read online now.

In the February 2022 edition, IQ talks to a number of business leaders to identify ten key lessons that the pandemic has taught us.

Elsewhere, IQ editor Gordon Masson talks to the recipient of the 2022 Gaffer Award, Phay ‘Phaymous’ Mac Mahon, about his 40-year career and how he became one of the go-to production managers in the international touring business.

This issue also sees Masson talk to experts about the evolving world of virus mitigation and profile ten products and services that are helping to get businesses up and rolling again.

For this edition’s columns and comments, tour manager Suzi Green explains how music industry support group The Back Lounge is helping the community through a new series of timely and topical free workshops and Driift’s Ric Salmon relives the success of The Smile’s live-stream triple header.

In this month’s Your Shout, execs including Marc Geiger (SaveLive), Georg Leitner (Georg Leitner Productions) and Nick Hobbs (Charmenko) reveal the best showcase they’ve ever seen.

As always, the majority of the magazine’s content will appear online in some form in the next four weeks.

However, if you can’t wait for your fix of essential live music industry features, opinion and analysis, click here to subscribe to IQ for just £5.99 a month – or check out what you’re missing out on with the limited preview below:

 


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Marc Geiger announces $75m ‘war chest’ to buy US venues

Marc Geiger has amassed a $75 million ‘war chest’ to bail out US venues that are struggling during the pandemic and help them to reopen.

WME’s former global head of music told The New York Times that he plans to invest in small venues and build an indie touring network to revive the live scene, using funds secured during an initial investment round.

“One of my favourite things in the world is to go to a club, be treated well and see an incredible band,” said Geiger, who left his role at WME in June after 17 years with the company.

“So I thought, ‘OK, I’m going to raise a bunch of money and I’m going to backstop all these clubs. I’m going to be a bailout solution for them, and I’m going to call the company SaveLive’.”

His proposal for SaveLive, which was founded with fellow former WME associate John Fogelman, is to buy at least 51% of the equity in those clubs and help them expand into regional forces once the live sector returns to full strength – which he expects to happen in 2022 when the pandemic will subside and “give way to a second Roaring Twenties, 100 years later.”

“The hope here is to create a network effect. To be a long-term backer, helper, grower of these businesses, and enjoy the wins”

“The hope here is to create a network effect. To be a long-term backer, helper, grower of these businesses, and enjoy the wins,” says Geiger, who insisted that his venue deals would be partnerships and that he would not seek to flip assets.

His primary backer, Jordan Moelis of Deep Field Asset Management, said: “We don’t see this as a distressed-asset play. We see this as a business-building play, a play to be a long-term partner and to be around for a long time.”

Geiger says he’s already negotiating with a number of venues around the country.

The news comes shortly after US president Donald Trump announced he was postponing negotiations on a new stimulus package which would’ve thrown the live sector a much-needed lifeline.

The ‘Heroes Act’ stimulus package includes the Save Our Stages Act, a US$10 billion grant programme designed to provide financial support for live venue operators, promoters, producers and talent representatives in the US.

The Democratic-controlled House passed the act on Thursday (1 October) but Trump says he won’t return to the negotiating table until after 3 November’s presidential election.

 


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Marc Geiger: Covid-19 will give way to the Roaring (20)20s

Marc Geiger has predicted a boom time for live entertainment after the threat of Covid-19 recedes, saying the current “claustrophobia economy” will give way to a second ‘Roaring Twenties’ marked by high consumer confidence and economic growth.

WME’s former global head of music, who was speaking during today’s iFF Keynote, compared the current coronavirus pandemic to the Spanish flu, which gripped the world from 1918–20, killing an estimated 50m people. Years of “everyone being cooped up at home”, he said, “created a joyous time called the Roaring Twenties, and I think 2022” – his estimate for when the current pandemic will subside – “will give way to a second Roaring Twenties, 100 years later.”

The prediction by Geiger – an executive renowned for spotting music business trends – will be welcomed by live music industry professionals, nearly 600 of which are attending the virtual Interactive Festival Forum on 2 and 3 September. The keynote interview, conducted by Goldman Sachs’ Lisa Yang, ended the first day of iFF conference programming on an optimistic note, and also touched on the incredible growth of music streaming and Yang’s predictions for the concert sector’s post-coronavirus recovery.

Yang said that she believes that global industry has lost around 75% of its value this year, but will recover to around 65% of its pre-Covid level in 2021. The recovery will likely be complete in 2022, she added.

In the mid-term, Yang continued, the outlook is uncertain. “It’s going to be tough,” she said. “There are so many external factors that no one can control. But from a structural perspective, I think the industry is going to come back – it’s not a question of if, but when.”

“Everyone who’s suffering right now: if you can hold on, the bumper crop will be significant”

Speaking to iFF delegates, Geiger compared the festival business to a field of crops (“I always analogise,” he said) and factors such as rising ticket prices and supposedly samey line-ups as taking nutrients out of that field. By 2022 – after two disrupted festival seasons – “everyone will be screaming to get out” of their houses, he explained, so those who are able to survive until then will reap a “bumper crop” in the renewed soil.

He urged those who can to put in place funding to ensure they are able to capitalise when social distancing is a thing of a past. “Everyone who’s suffering right now, if you can hold on – whether it’s through financing, debt, equity – the bumper crop will be significant,” he urged. “Figure out how to bridge your way until the industry comes back.”

“The market is going to come back at a very, very vast clip,” Geiger added, “and […] when it comes back rate of return will be huge.

“We’re going to see more blow-outs and sell-outs, and huge consumer interest. It’ll be one of few times in history the customer will buy a beer or a hot dog, and they’ll feel good about standing in line! And that beer will never have tasted so good.”

“Tell your audience you are NOT coming back until it’s safe and they can have the ultimate festival experience”

Geiger ran out of time for audience questions, but kindly answered some after the session…

IQ: You talked about “When it comes back, it will come back huge” and there being a “bumper crop”. What would be your advice for both festival organisers and agents on riding out the next 12 months and preparing for the Roaring 20s?
Produce a virtual festival in 2021. Tell your audience you are NOT coming back until it’s safe and they can have the ultimate (festival name) experience. Get a sideshow strategy together if you don’t already have one. Go talk to sponsors and get serious about your at-home audience. Raise your ticket prices!!!!

With the deals getting bigger, is there a role for independent promoters and agents, and those smaller independent festivals in the roaring 20s?
HELL YES!!! Bigger than ever! The big promoters have to focus on BIG shows with real profits….They won’t touch the small stuff or be able to after the cutbacks/ layoffs etc… Biggest opportunity EVER.

You talked about “trillion-dollar time” deals, while the concert business is 95-98% down depending on results. With the deals getting astronomically bigger, and growth of streaming accelerating, is the live sector going to become a smaller pawn on a bigger board?
Could happen but Live Nation, AEG and CTS Eventim will insure some pure play aspect of the business. Lot’s of indies will never sell out to bad corporate interests but let’s see.

You mentioned a relatively low number of big players in the live space, but there being room for more. Who could you see entering it over the next 2 years?
One never knows….Could come from anywhere.

Where are the best opportunities in music right now?
Wow, they are everywhere as the music business is getting bigger….that’s too big of a question and answer for me but the deeper you look and think, the more opportunity there is…

“Tell your audience you are not coming back until it’s safe and they can have the ultimate festival experience”

Tickets for iFF 2020 are still available, and all sessions will be accessible to watch back online for seven days after the event ends. To buy yours, visit the iFF website.

 


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Marc Geiger confirmed for IFF 2020 keynote

Marc Geiger, WME’s former worldwide head of music, has been announced as this year’s IFF Keynote, in conversation with Goldman Sachs’ Lisa Yang.

News of the conversation comes as a host of leading figures line up to speak, and leading booking agencies Paradigm, Primary Talent International and Solo Agency announce dedicated livestream showcases of rising stars.

In light of the current Covid-19 crisis, IFF 2020, the sixth International Festival Forum, will run online as the Interactive Festival Forum (iFF), a two-day online event, from 2 to 3 September. The conference will see hundreds of festival and agency professionals congregate for panel discussions, workshops, networking and deal-making.

The keynote conversation between Geiger – who left WME earlier this year after building the agency’s music division into a global powerhouse – and Lang is expected to cover major disruptors, innovation and change over the next few years. Other topics in the iFF programme include ticket prices and artist fees, force majeure and refunds, virtual festivals, the lost year of artist development, corporate upheaval, sustainability, risk, insurance and more.

Speakers to have already announced their involvement include Alex Hardee (Paradigm), Martin Elbourne (Glastonbury), Maria May (CAA), Jim King and Arnaud Meersseman (AEG Presents), Roberta Medina (Rock in Rio), Peter Elliott and Matt Bates (Primary Talent), Fruzsina Szep, Fra Soler (Primavera Sound) and Tamas Kadar (Sziget).

“IFF remains an important moment to bring the music festival and agency sectors together”

“Even as a virtual edition, IFF remains an important moment to bring the music festival and agency sectors together,” says Paradigm director and agent James Whitting. “There’s no shortage of great new artists to showcase, and after the lost summer, a huge amount to talk about.

“If anything, this year is more vital than ever.”

Paradigm is one of the agencies to host a livestreamed showcase as part of the iFF schedule, produced in partnership with Livefrom.events. Primary Talent International and Solo Agency are also among those presenting upcoming artists.

The sixth edition of the event is backed by festival associations including Yourope, the Association of Independent Festivals, and De Concert!.

Companies to have already confirmed attendance include 13 Artists, ATC Live, Black Deer Live, BPM Concerti, Charmenko, Cobra Agency, Electric Castle, FKP Scorpio, Fullsteam Agency, Gadget ABC Entertainment, ICM Partners, Lost Horizon Festival, Matchbox Live, MetalDays Festival, Mojo Concerts, Paléo Festival Nyon, Roskilde Festival, TAKK, The Talent Boutique, Vertigo, Wacken Open Air & X-ray Touring.

More details about the IFF Keynote can be found here, while the full conference schedule is here.

 


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Lucy Dickins named WME co-head of music as Geiger exits

Following months of speculation, WME’s worldwide head of music, Marc Geiger, has confirmed he is leaving the agency after 17 years.

Under the leadership of Geiger, who joined the then-William Morris Agency in 2003, WME’s music division has “become a global powerhouse,” comments Lloyd Braun, president of representation at parent company Endeavor. “During his tenure, Marc led countless agency initiatives and firsts for the music industry, including the creation of festivals and EDM divisions and building out WME’s leading London and Sydney music teams.

“We thank Marc for his countless contributions to WME and wish him all the best going forward.”

Also out is co-head of music Sara Newkirk Simon, who moves into a consultancy role in the wider Endeavor business. She is replaced as WME’s third music co-head by Lucy Dickins, head of the agency’s UK music division, who joined WME last year.

“The past 17 years have been an incredible ride”

Other co-heads Scott Clayton and Kirk Sommer remain in their current roles.

“The past 17 years have been an incredible ride, and I’ve been fortunate to work with some of the world’s best artists and colleagues,” comments Geiger, whose Breakfast Meeting interview was a highlight of ILMC 28.

“I’m proud of all that we accomplished, most especially the team we built during my time with the agency. I know they will achieve great things in the future.”

Geiger’s next destination is unclear, though speculation has linked him to an executive role at streaming giant Spotify.

This story will be updated.

 


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Lucy Dickins joins WME

WME has confirmed to IQ that award winning music agent Lucy Dickins is joining the company in June. Currently a senior agent at ITB, she will become head of WME’s UK music division – a newly created role.

“Lucy is a star player, and the perfect addition to our team,” says WME’s head of music, Marc Geiger. “There’s no one else who possesses Lucy’s combination of pedigree, taste and respect in our industry. After being in business with her family for so many years, we feel fortunate that she decided to join WME, and we look forward to bringing her perspective to our clients and colleagues.”

Adding Dickins to the payroll is a significant coup for WME’s music team in the UK, where the company has been operating since 2007. One of the music industry’s most respected and successful agents, her existing client roster includes Adele, Mumford & Sons, Laura Marling, James Blake and Mabel, whom WME will now represent globally. Dickins also works with Hot Chip, Bryan Ferry, Rex Orange County, Jamie T, Jack Peñate, among others, all of whom are expected to join her at WME.  Also following her to WME’s central London offices will be ITB agents James Simmons and Chris Payne.

Underlining her popularity in the global industry, in March this year, Dickins’ peers voted her the Second Least Offensive Agent at ILMC’s Arthur Awards.

“There’s no one else who possesses Lucy’s combination of pedigree, taste and respect in our industry”

She states, “Growing up in this business, I’ve been lucky to learn from the best, but now is the time for me to take the next step in my career. The opportunity to join WME was hugely exciting, and I’m confident that this relationship can grow into something special.”

The job switch will bring her career of more than 20 years at ITB to an end. After a work experience stint at the agency as a teenager, Dickins began her career working for a small independent record label before re-joining ITB as an assistant in 1998. During the past two decades, she has built a reputation for developing artists and emerging talent from grass roots, and she is renowned for the close rapport she forms with her artists.

Lucy is part of a music business dynasty that stretches back to her musician grandfather, Percy, who, in the 1950s, co-founded the NME and introduced the Top 20 recorded music charts into popular UK culture. Her father, Barry, formed ITB in 1978 with a client list made up of some of the biggest artists of all time, including Bob Dylan and Neil Young. Her brother, Jonathan, currently manages a hugely successful roster including Adele, while her uncle, Rob, is a former head of Warner Brothers.

She was recently revealed as one of the first speakers at Eurosonic Noorderslag 2020, where she will be interviewed, alongside her father and brother, by ILMC’s Greg Parmley.

Her hire culminates a period of growth for WME’s UK office. This year the agency booked more shows at the O2 Arena than any of its rivals, in addition to leading European festival bookings.


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Hans on tour

In 2016, film-score composer Hans Zimmer emerged from his studio to become a new global touring sensation – a reputation he bolstered in April this year as perhaps the most exciting new live performer in the business, thanks to a groundbreaking, peak-time performance on the Outdoor stage at Coachella.

Traditionally the territory of chart-toppers and Pitchfork darlings, Coachella is not the usual haunt of 59-year-old film score composers, and eyebrows were raised when his name appeared on its bill alongside the likes of Radiohead, Lady Gaga, Lorde and Kendrick Lamar.

“Paul wanted to put Hans on in a tent, so we had a battle to persuade him and explain how big the show was”

Tour co-producer and promoter Harvey Goldsmith says it wasn’t easy persuading Coachella’s founder, Paul Tollett, to present Zimmer in such a prominent slot. “Paul was unsure, he wanted to put Hans on in a tent, so we had a battle to persuade him and explain how big the show was and that we really needed the right platform and time to do it justice,” says Goldsmith.

Zimmer’s agent, William Morris Endeavor’s head of music, Marc Geiger, says: “It was a risk for Paul and we talked him in to it, but a main-stage performance at Coachella was always the plan because we all knew it would be a different thing for the festival and one way or another, positive or negative, it would stick out and make some kind of impression.”

 


Read the rest of this feature in IQ 72:

https://issuu.com/gregiq/docs/iq72/40

 


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