Rob Wicks named MD of Aberdeen’s P&J Live
ASM Global has announced the appointment of Rob Wicks as managing director of P&J Live in Aberdeen.
Wicks, who will join the venue in June, brings 25 years of experience in the sports and events industry, working with rights holders, brands, host venues, governing bodies, promoters and agencies.
He is currently commercial director at Aberdeen Football Club, where he has been responsible for all football club revenue streams, including partnerships and sponsorships, hospitality, ticketing, retail, memberships, marketing, communications, events and new stadium planning.
“On behalf of everyone at ASM Global, I’d like to warmly welcome Rob to the team,” says Marie Lindqvist, SVP operations Europe at ASM Global. “Rob brings with him decades of experience as a widely-respected, innovative and results-driven leader in the events and sports industries. Having seen great success working with renowned brands, events and organisations in Scotland and beyond, Rob will undoubtedly be a tremendous driving force in his new role as P&J Live, a truly versatile and award-winning venue, looks to the future.”
Wicks, who hails from South Africa and has worked in Europe for the past two decades, has delivered projects and events in 25 countries.
“ASM Global is on a clear growth trajectory and P&J Live is a vitally important part of its European venue portfolio”
“ASM Global is on a clear growth trajectory and P&J Live is a vitally important part of its European venue portfolio, so this a very exciting time to be coming on board,” he says. “I see this as a terrific opportunity to play a leading role in Scotland’s new state-of-the-art event complex achieving its full potential. I already know some of the passionate and talented team who operate the venue and having spent the past five years in Aberdeen, I am able to bring a strong network and range of local experience to the role.
“I am really looking forward to working with the team to build upon the great work they have done to date and enhancing the reputation that the venue has established. A great example of this is the Lewis Capaldi concert in January that delivered Scotland’s highest-ever selling indoor show. This sort of success has definitely put P&J Live on the map and instilled further confidence that the venue – and the region – can deliver.”
Opening in 2019, P&J Live is the largest event complex in the North of Scotland, and has upcoming shows with the likes of Michael Bublé, Elton Joh and Pet Shop Boys.
“Some of the key priorities that I see in the short to medium term are to enhance our key stakeholder relationships, better understand our customer base, look at ways to integrate innovative new technology to enhance the customer journey and ensuring there is an outstanding pipeline of world-class conferences and events to look forward to,” adds Wicks.
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The Dragons’ Den: Women in Live report
Three senior female business leaders in live music discussed their lives in music, career progression and learnings along the way in a unique Dragons’ Den session at ILMC.
Lucy Noble of AEG Presents (UK), Jacqueline Zich from DEAG (DE) and Jolanda Jansen from Rotterdam Ahoy (NL) sat down for an up-close conversation with host Marie Lindqvist of ASM Global.
Noble, who was hired as AEG’s first ever artistic director last year following a two-decade stint at London’s Royal Albert Hall, discussed some of the challenges that have shaped her career.
“I look back and I can’t think of any major hurdles to get where I’ve got today,” she said. “I think that all the experiences you have are learning experiences and I wouldn’t change anything.
“But I remember over over a decade ago, there was a director position at the Royal Albert Hall. And the chief executive took me into the office and said, ‘Look, I don’t think you can do this job as a mother.’ I should have said, ‘You can’t say that.’ But I was in this position where I was saying, ‘No, I really can, give me a chance.’ But that was a moment where I realised that people do make judgments because you’re a mum.
“We have a very good relationship now, but he just had that very old school way of thinking around these matters.”
“Lots of people moved out of our industry because they wanted a better work-life balance”
She continued: “Being a working mum with three young children is not easy when you’re working in our industry. We saw during the pandemic that lots of people moved out of our industry because they wanted a better work-life balance.”
Jansen said she agreed with a comment from CAA agent Emma Banks that there is “no substitute for hard work”.
“It’s great to be hardworking because you also get the results,” she said. “It is not about working three, four, five, six or seven days a week, it’s about how you balance your own life and what you get your energy from. I think that is what makes it healthy. The kind of old school working mentality that you need to be on your phone responding to emails 24 hours a day is perhaps not healthy for anybody in the end. But it’s also not bad to work hard.”
Linqvist recalled a stressful period in her career during the last decade prompted her to make positive changes.
“I was getting all the signals of having too much negative stress: I had horrible headache, difficulties in sleeping, and was always tired,” she said. “I just came to the conclusion that, ‘Something needs to be changed here.’ And it was quite difficult because when you’re used to working very hard and it’s a passion, it sometimes puts you in a position where you forget about your own welfare. So I had to take a serious review of how I spent my days and my energy.
“I delegated more responsibilities to people that could do much better than I, and also looked through my calendar and went through meeting-by-meeting: ‘Do I need to be in this meeting? Am I adding any value?’ And being more conscious about my own time.
“The positive effect of that was not only my health getting better, but also that it made people around me feel better and gave them the opportunity to grow and take more responsibility.”
“We came up in the business at a time when there were fewer females in senior roles. Hopefully, that is beginning to change”
The panel also discussed the importance of strong role models and mentors, with DEAG’s Zich complimenting the company’s founder and CEO Peter Schwenkow for his support in the early days of her career.
“Of course, you have to work hard and make sure you work on your own position,” she said. “But he gave me the chance and the trust and the feeling of, ‘You can do that,’ and being confident enough to do it. I think women tend to be not too confident on things and that was very helpful, and still is to be honest. That played a huge role in my path.”
Noble namechecked live music veterans such as Phil Bowdery, Neil Warnock, Dennis Arnold and Paul Crockford.
“I’m very aware that there are no women [on that list], probably because we came up in the business at a time when there were fewer females in senior roles,” she acknowledged. “Hopefully, that is beginning to change a bit. Now, I definitely think there is more of an even split at the entry levels. At the senior level, there are still more men than women, but I do think the industry has done a great job in recent years to improve those figures.
“I’m a mentor for two young women and I like to think that I’ve helped and given guidance. I really love doing that and it’s really fulfilling for me to be able to give back in that way.”
She added: “There shouldn’t be a difference between men and women…. I am very supportive of women in the industry, and at the Hall, we did a Women in Music Day, which had hundreds and hundreds of young women and other people along. I’ve had people like Emma Banks, Lucy Dickins and Becky Allen from EMI speak at that.
“All the people I know at that level really do champion women in music, and it’s about doing that and making sure we bring them up along with us.”
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ASM Europe reshuffles senior management team
Venue operator ASM Global has announced changes to the senior management team in its European division.
Marie Lindqvist, currently general manager and vice president for the Stockholm business in Sweden will become senior vice president for ASM Europe.
The new appointment will see Lindqvist relocate to the European Headquarters in Manchester, led by executive VP for Europe John Sharkey, where she will pick up “operational oversight” across the European venue portfolio.
Andreas Sand, currently Stockholm CFO and commercial director, will succeed Linqvist as the new Stockholm general manager and vice president.
“We are truly excited and fortunate to have Marie, who holds an amazing track record of success and business calibre to further support placing ASM Global at the front of best practice in Europe, as we have elsewhere across the world,“ says Bob Newman, ASM global president.
“Marie holds an amazing track record of success and business calibre to further support ASM Global”
“Andreas Sand has been key to our growth across all areas in Sweden and will use his proven talent, experience and knowledge to build on our track record of success and take the region’s business to even greater levels of achievements.”
Sharkey commented, “Whilst Marie will not become a stranger to the Scandinavian market, her experience and business acumen will be invaluable in supporting our venue businesses and help build the new world for sports, entertainment and convention business success as part of a resource and skillset in a way that only ASM Global can deliver.“
“Our European team is already high calibre and with Marie’s appointment this takes our capability to even higher levels – it is truly a fabulous appointment. She is leaving the Stockholm business in great shape but in equally capable hands with Andreas who is ready for this move; he will be a great successor to Marie and an excellent leader of the team in Sweden.”
ASM operates a portfolio of arenas, stadiums, convention and exhibition centres, performing arts centres, theatres and other venues across five continents including Manchester Arena, First Direct Arena in Leeds and SSE Arena, Wembley.
All the world’s a stage: Ericsson Globe at 30
What began life 30 years ago as one of the most controversial buildings in Stockholm has now become woven into the fabric of the Swedish capital and a celebrated part of the city’s skyline.
The Ericsson Globe – known locally simply as “Globen” – took over two years to build. It opened its doors on 19 February 1989 and remains the largest hemispherical building in the world. Over the past three decades it has changed the live entertainment and sports environment not just in Stockholm but across Scandinavia. In that time, the venue has hosted over 3,300 events and seen 35 million customers through its doors.
Its construction at the time was desperately needed as there was no purpose-built multifunctional arena in the region until its arrival, with concerts and other family entertainment events having to make do in ice hockey arenas that dated back to the 1960s.
“There was an architectural competition to build the new arena and to make it a landmark of the city,” says Marie Lindqvist, the venue’s vice president and general manager. “It is a spherical building, and it was very controversial at the beginning but it has become a well-known and well-loved landmark in the city of Stockholm. The building was completely new and very modern. It was very different to what had been in the market before.”
Its impact was instant, putting Stockholm on the international touring plans for major acts and events, as it meant they could now play to audiences of up to 16,000 in a purpose-built arena.
“The Globe has been a major contributor to Stockholm growing on the international music and entertainment market”
“The Globe has been a major contributor to Stockholm growing on the international music and entertainment market,” says Lindqvist. “It has been an enabler for Stockholm to get big shows but also to host international championships in ice hockey, handball, figure skating, and many more sports. It has definitely been a driver in positioning Stockholm as an events city.”
What was state-of-the-art in 1989, however, can start to look and feel archaic in 2019. As such, the venue has been keenly aware of the need to constantly evolve, to ensure it doesn’t become as anachronistic as the hockey arenas it superseded.
Scandinavia has long been a leader in the adoption of online and mobile technologies, and it is only to be expected that this has impacted on live entertainment in the region before most other places in the world. The Globe has adapted to keep itself at the forefront of these developments.
Jenny Blomqvist, head of event sales at the venue, says that while laptop/PC sales of tickets are still 50% of the market there, mobile is where the focus is now. “We do see a big shift towards mobile payments,” she says, “[and] all development within ticketing is now focused on mobile.”
With this rise of online and mobile comes a concurrent growth in the importance of data, and this feeds into how the venue runs and helps it anticipate customer behaviour.
“Today, consumers expect great connectivity in any arena; it is one of the basic components of the live experience”
“Data lets us know more about the fans and, thereby, creates a better customer journey [in terms of] what they want and how to communicate with them,” says Blomqvist. “It’s also more important with today’s technology and data to explain more about your exact position in the venue, the view from your seat, and also about possible upgrades or add-ons.”
Data, ultimately, should be used to enhance the customer experience. “With more information about visitors and sales, together with the promoter we can create a better event when it comes to getting the perfect seating plan for each show,” she says.
Alongside the customer-facing benefits of this rich data there are also business-facing upsides. “Promoters expect fast feedback on booking availabilities, so the organisation needs to quickly process information in order to find out what can be accommodated, both from a calendar and an operational perspective,” explains Blomqvist. “I would say that the organisation has sharpened its working processes and our know-how to better face up to the ever-increasing demand for arena availability.”
Given that Ericsson has been the venue’s naming partner for the past decade, mobile technologies have long been front and centre here. “Today, consumers expect great connectivity in any arena; it is one of the basic components of the live experience,” says Gil Murphy, the Globe’s head of event technology. “Most of the new ways of operating a venue depend on the connectivity in the arena with the POS systems, ticket scanning, wayfinding, and so on. Also, from an operating perspective, great connectivity is essential.”
Staying on top of the rapidly evolving digital world is a priority for the venue. “When Ericsson Globe hosted the Eurovision Song Contest in 2016, the Wi-Fi in the arena was upgraded to a newer standard, delivered by Ericsson, and is today a network that can handle most challenges,” adds Murphy.
“Technological developments have equated to greater demand from artists as well as [raise] expectations from visitors. The arena has had to gradually evolve to meet expectations”
The next technological leap will be 5G mobile connectivity, and venues will have to move in lockstep with these telco developments. “One thing I believe is, for sure, connectivity will continue to increase, as well as new ways to interact digitally with arena visitors,” says Murphy.
Tied into this is the development of the venue’s own smartphone app, which will launch later this year for the Globe and the company’s other four arenas in the city (Friends Arena, Tele2 Arena, Annexet and Hovet).
“The goal with the new app is to smooth the consumer journey and simplify your own interaction with the event you are going to,” explains Daniel Stålbo, director of comms at the Globe. “[The app] is where you will receive your ticket to your event [and it] is also where you will get all the information about your upcoming event; tips about how to best get to the arena; where to stay; how to order and pay for your food and drinks; how to get upgrades, and so on. It also provides a new foundation for interaction with live events in ways that promoters and partners define – such as voting, quizzes, seeing playlists, and more.”
New technologies are also shaping the creative potential of the venue, allowing the touring acts and productions to do things that were inconceivable even a decade ago.
“Technological developments have equated to greater demand from artists to incorporate [new] show techniques as well as [raise] expectations from visitors for a multimedia experience that can be shared online,” is how Blomqvist puts it. “The arena has had to gradually evolve to meet expectations. For instance, we are constantly working on how to improve rig capacity, as well as creating solutions for data capacity in line with visitors’ expectations.”
More breakthrough moments: Industry pros’ career turning points
Hard work, knowing the right people and a slice of good luck can all play a part in getting a proper footing on the career ladder.
IQ Magazine puts some more ILMC regulars in the spotlight and asks them to share their breakthrough moments…
Steve Strange, X-ray Touring
I’d been involved with Ash for a couple of years, but I remember going to the Astoria for the first time with them and standing on the balcony with their manager, Stephen ‘Tav’ Taverner, and having a pint as we cheered them on.
The band were still at school when I first got involved – in fact, we had to build them and plan all their releases around the school holidays, so tours and promos would take place in the Easter break and summer holidays.
But Ash was the first act that I properly helped to break, so standing in the Astoria, in a venue where I’d been so many times myself as a fan at other acts’ shows, was something really special indeed.
Twenty-six years later, my roster has grown, and Tav also manages the likes of Alt-J, Kodaline and Wolf Alice. We both still represent Ash, who we’re really close with – Tim and Mark occasionally stay with me when they’re in town from New York.
Standing in the Astoria, in a venue where I’d been so many times myself as a fan at other acts’ shows, was something really special indeed
Marie Lindqvist, Stockholm Live
I started my career in the tourism industry working in marketing for some of the major tour operators, such as TUI, and for a group of amusement parks. In 2006, I was recruited for the role of marketing director at Ericsson Globe, the 14,000-seat multi-venue in Stockholm. I had never imagined I would end up in sports and music, so this was a whole new world to me, even though there are similar challenges and opportunities – and arenas and events are certainly an important part of the tourism industry.
AEG took over the operation of the arena from the city in 2008, and all of a sudden I was part of a leading global entertainment company – such a fantastic opportunity! I learned so much and I got to meet so many experienced and smart people from the different areas of our businesses across the globe.
After a few years, I was recruited back to the travel industry, but in 2014 I got a message from Richard Krezwick, who was overseeing all the European arenas for AEG, asking if I would like to have a coffee next time he was in Stockholm. Whilst sitting in the sun overlooking the Royal Palace, he asked me if I wanted to come back to AEG and take over as general manager for Ericsson Globe and the new Tele2 Arena, which had opened in 2013. I was thrilled and nervous about the big job but excited to be back at AEG and in the entertainment industry. Since then we have also taken over the operation of Friends Arena and now operate a group of five arenas and stadiums in Sweden. We do about 320 events with three million ticket buyers annually.
It was not where I thought I was heading in my 20s, but I am so happy to be a part of this amazing industry where the worlds of music, sports, real estate, sponsorship, tourism, food and beverage and much more meet in an exciting mix.
Everything I have today is all down to John Sherry giving me back that £200 and convincing me to become an agent
Carl Leighton-Pope, The Leighton Pope Organisation
In 1977, the band I was managing, Sassafras, split up and everyone was broke. I was 25 years old and married with four kids, living in Cardiff, but I owed an agent in London £200 and I couldn’t bear the thought of being in debt, so I caught the train to the capital to give the late John Sherry his money.
When I was in his office, he asked me what I was going to do next, but at that time I didn’t have a clue – I just knew I needed to earn some money to feed my family. He thought about it for a few minutes, then handed me the £200 back and urged me to become an agent, offering me a job for £40 a week, starting the following Monday.
So I travelled back to Wales to give my wife, Pamela, the good/bad news from my trip. She was delighted that we still had the £200, but when I told her about my new job, she said, “But darling, we don’t live in London; we live in Cardiff.” Her mother had a one-bedroom flat in Notting Hill and was kind enough to let me sleep on her sofa during the week, then I’d travel back to Cardiff on a Friday evening with my £40.
Pretty quickly, though, I signed the Motors, then Dire Straits, Simple Minds and Patti Smith, and before I knew it, all the other agencies were asking me to come and work for them.
But everything I have today is all down to John Sherry giving me back that £200 and convincing me to become an agent – I could never repay him for the faith he showed in me and I’m forever grateful.