fbpx

PROFILE

MY SUBSCRIPTION

LOGOUT

x

The latest industry news to your inbox.

    

I'd like to hear about marketing opportunities

    

I accept IQ Magazine's Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

Ireland lockdown: “A long winter lies ahead”

Last week, Ireland became the first European country to reimpose a nationwide lockdown following a spike in coronavirus cases.

Under the new level five restrictions, which are due to last until 1 December, residents are required to stay at home and exercise within a 5 km radius.

Music venues, along with other leisure and entertainment businesses, have been forced to close in yet another blow to its live industry.

“Things are quiet. It feels like a long winter lies ahead,” says Fin O’Leary, veteran promoter and co-founder of the recently launched Singular Artists, promoting shows in Ireland and NI. “I’m hoping that Irish industry professionals, artists and venues can find a way to keep going and get through this. It’s the most serious challenge our industry has ever seen.”

Shane Dunne (promoter at MCD Concerts; board member of Epic working group; MD of Irish festival Indiependence) notes that the new restrictions make little difference to an industry that has already shuttered.

“It’s the most serious challenge the industry has ever seen here”

“For the live music sector, level five is no different to the previous three weeks at level three where we couldn’t do anything anyway,” he says.

“Through the work of groups like Epic and others, we have secured a €50 million support package to offset the costs of doing shows at reduced capacity but unfortunately, that is not usable at the moment or for the foreseeable future while we are prevented from doing anything. The industry was the first to close in Ireland in March and we will be the last to reopen.”

In September, the government published a medium-term framework, to be in place until March 2021, outlining the restrictions for each of the five levels.

Levels 3, 4, and 5 – the highest – prohibit gatherings altogether. Under level 2, up to 50 visitors are permitted at organised indoor gatherings and 100 for larger venues with social distancing.

Even at level 1, when the country is at the lowest risk, a maximum of just 100 patrons can attend indoor gatherings, and up to 200 for larger venues.

“The industry was the first to close in Ireland in March and we will be the last to reopen”

“Under this plan there is very little business that can be done for the sector,” says Dunne. “As an industry, we are grateful for the recognition and support that came in the recent budget but now we really do need further engagement with government and in particular our health service to start talking about the safe return of events in 2021.”

Though Ireland’s live industry is potentially restricted until March next year, O’Leary is optimistic about the future and says Singular Artists is busy gearing up for Q3 2021 and onwards.

The promoter has announced its first arena show with Yungblud at 3Arena in November next year and O’Leary says they’re booking a range of shows from 200–15,000 capacity for 2021–2022 and beyond.

“Judging by the state of avails across the country’s theatres and arenas, it’s going to be a very busy second half of 2021 onwards; artists seem to be chomping at the bit to get back out,” O’Leary says.

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

Festivals cancelled as Ireland outlaws events over 5k

The Republic of Ireland’s major summer festivals, including Longitude, All Together Now, Life Festival, Body & Soul and the new-for-2020 Sunstroke, have been called off after the Irish government confirmed there would there would be no licences issued for events over 5,000 people until the end of August.

A statement issued by the Irish prime minister (taoiseach), Leo Varadkar, says while licensing decisions in Ireland are usually reserved for local councils, local authorities “have been advised by government that event promoters should be informed that events requiring licences in excess of 5,000 will not be considered for the period up to the end of August”.

MCD Productions, which promotes Longitude (3–5 July) and Sunstroke (13–14 June), as well as Electric Picnic on 4–6 September, says while it is “obviously devastated” Longitude isn’t going ahead, “the health and safety of our fans and staff is paramount and we fully respect the government’s decision. We would like to take this opportunity to thank the frontline workers currently giving their all to keep us safe.”

Longitude’s 2020 line-up featured headliners Kendrick Lamar, Tyler the Creator and Asap Rocky, along with Mabel, Young Thug, J Hus and Charli XCX.

As for Electric Picnic, MCD head Denis Desmond says: “It’s a long shot. The chances of it happening are not good.”

“The health and safety of our audience, team and performers takes total precedence at this time of global crisis”

Restrictions on major events are also in place in the Netherlands, where large events are banned until 1 September; GermanyBelgium and Denmark, where a ban is in place until 31 August; and Luxembourg and Finland, which have prohibited mass gatherings until 31 July. France, meanwhile, has given mid-July as the earliest date when events could go ahead, while Austria has identified the end of June.

The restrictions across Europe are in line with the latest European Union guidance.

“Like everyone across the world, we’ve been watching the ongoing effects that Covid-19 is having on our everyday lives,” say All Together Now (31 July–2 August) organisers Pod Concerts and Aiken Promotions, which had booked Iggy Pop, Lauryn Hill, Mura Masa, Goldfrapp and more for its third edition. “The health and safety of our audience, team and performers, plus the extended communities to which they belong, takes total precedence at this time of global crisis.

“Being ‘All Together’ has never been more poignant. While for now, we can’t be together physically, we must be together in spirit by following HSE [Health Service Executive] and government guidelines [and] supporting frontline staff, our local communities, independent businesses and artists who need our support more than ever.”

Avril Stanley, promoter and festival director of Body & Soul (19–21 June), says: “While we may not be able to gather in person this summer, we are with you in spirit. We’re not going anywhere.”

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

MCD brings back Sunstroke festival for 2020

Faith No More and Deftones will headline Sunstroke when the ’90s alternative-rock festival returns to Ireland next summer.

Sunstroke, promoted by Denis Desmond’s MCD Productions, debuted in 1993 in Dublin’s Dalymount Park, when it was also headlined by Faith No More, according to RTE. The final Sunstroke took place at the Royal Dublin Society’s RDS Simmonscourt venue in 1995.

For its return in 2020, it will take place at Punchestown Racecourse near Naas – formerly also home to MCD’s Oxegen festival – on Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 June.

Other performers over three stages include the Jesus and Mary Chain, Gojira, Black Veil Brides and Killing Joke, as well as Bowling for Soup, While She Sleeps, Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes and Mongol-metal band the Hu.

Sunstroke 2020 line-up

Earlybird weekend tickets, priced at €129.50 (inc. booking fee) or €159.50 with camping, go on sale at 10am on 3 December.

MCD’s other festivals include the annual Longitude event, also in Dublin, as well as Love Sensation, Summer in the City and the Irish leg of Country to Country (C2C).

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

LN-MCD merger doesn’t raise competition concerns after all, says CMA

The latest phase of a Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) inquiry has found that the acquisition of MCD Productions by Live Nation-Gaiety does not raise competition concerns, paving the way for regulatory approval of the long-delayed merger in the UK.

The CMA’s preliminary ‘phase-1’ inquiry found, somewhat implausibly, that a merger of Live Nation and MCD could lessen competition in Northern Ireland by restricting the ability of rival promoters to sell tickets through LN-owned Ticketmaster.

The preliminary findings of the regulator’s in-depth, ‘phase-2’ investigation, however, say the opposite: that the merger is “not likely to raise competition concerns, as Live Nation would not be expected to have the incentive to harm rival music promoters by making it harder for them to sell tickets through Ticketmaster”.

The UK competition watchdog is asking for views on its provisional findings by 28 November, with the deadline for final report set for 8 January 2020.

LN-Gaiety Holdings – a joint venture between Live Nation UK and Denis Desmond’s Gaiety Investments – announced last August it planned to acquire Desmond’s company MCD Productions. Cork-born Desmond succeeded John Probyn as Live Nation’s chairman in the UK and Ireland in 2015, although MCD – founded by Desmond and Eamonn McCann in 1980, and now co-owned by Desmond and his wife, Caroline Downey – remained independent of Live Nation/Gaiety.

The company is one of the big two promoters and venue operators in the Irish republic, alongside Peter Aiken’s Aiken Promotions.

The LN-MCD merger has already been cleared by the CCPC, the CMA’s counterpart in the Republic of Ireland.

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

Ireland clears Live Nation-MCD Productions merger

Following an investigation, the Republic of Ireland’s Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has cleared the acquisition of MCD Productions by LN-Gaiety Holdings (LNG).

LNG – a joint venture between Live Nation UK and Denis Desmond’s Gaiety Investments – announced last August it planned to acquire Desmond’s company MCD Productions. Cork-born Desmond succeeded John Probyn as Live Nation’s chairman in the UK and Ireland in 2015, although MCD – founded by Desmond and Eamonn McCann in 1980, and now co-owned by Desmond and his wife, Caroline Downey – retained its independence.

CCPC announced a detailed ‘phase 2’ investigation into the merger, which looked into whether it would “substantially lessen” competition in the Irish concert market, at the start of this year, following a preliminary phase 1 probe in 2018.

According to the competition watchdog, it “identified a number of competition concerns arising from the overlapping activities of Live Nation and MCD in the provision of primary ticketing services, the promotion of live events and the operation of live event venues” in the republic. “These concerns included the likely impact on competition of future acquisitions of festivals or festival operators, the potential for anti-competitive information sharing, and the potential for retaliatory action against independent live event venues because they choose an alternative ticketing services provider,” according to a CCPC statement.

“We are pleased to learn that … the CCPC have approved MCD becoming part of the Live Nation Gaiety family”

To address these competition concerns, LN-Gaiety and MCD submitted the following proposals, which were accepted by CCPC:

“A proposed transaction involving parties with interconnected activities, and a sector with a limited number of players, is particularly challenging…”

To read CCPC’s ruling in full, click here.

Isolde Goggin, chair of the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, comments: “Today’s determination is the culmination of ten months of in-depth analysis and consultation. The assessment of a proposed transaction involving parties with interconnected activities and a sector with a limited number of players is particularly challenging and requires robust scrutiny. […]

“The CCPC’s review of the proposed transaction included economic analysis of the affected markets and evidence from third parties active at all levels of the supply chain including promoters, ticketing services providers and live event venues. Taking into consideration the commitments provided by the parties, there is no evidence that the proposed transaction will result in a substantial lessening of competition in any market for goods or services in the state.

“The commitments obtained are legally binding and include requirements in relation to compliance reporting.”

The merger remains under review in the UK, where the Consumer and Markets Authority (CMA) is investigating competition concerns.

Commenting on the CCPC decision, Desmond says: “We are pleased to learn that following a comprehensive investigation, the CCPC have approved MCD becoming part of the Live Nation Gaiety family.”

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

Live Nation–MCD merger under investigation

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC), the Republic of Ireland’s consumer protection agency, has announced a ‘phase 2’ investigation into the acquisition of Irish promoter MCD Productions by UK-based LN-Gaiety Holdings (LNG).

LNG – a joint venture between Live Nation UK and Denis Desmond’s Gaiety Investments – announced last August it planned to acquire Desmond’s company MCD Productions. Cork-born Desmond succeeded John Probyn as Live Nation’s chairman in the UK and Ireland in 2015, although MCD – founded by Desmond and Eamonn McCann in 1980, and now co-owned by Desmond and his wife, Caroline Downey – retained its independence.

A phase 2 investigation, in CCPC-speak, follows a preliminary, ‘phase 1’, investigation if “the CCPC is unable to conclude that the proposed transaction will not lead to a substantial lessening of competition in any market for goods or services” in the republic.

Live Nation faced a similar investigation from the CCPC’s UK counterpart, the CMA, in 2017 over concerns its takeover of Isle of Wight Festival would stifle competition in Britain’s festival market, though the acquisition was cleared that September.

Live Nation has been contacted for comment.

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

Live Nation acquires stake in MCD Productions

LN-Gaiety Holdings (LNG), the UK promotion joint venture by Live Nation and Denis Desmond’s Gaiety Investments, has acquired Desmond’s company MCD Productions, strengthening significantly the relationship between Live Nation UK and its chairman.

Cork-born Desmond succeeded John Probyn as Live Nation’s chairman, UK and Ireland, in 2015, although MCD – founded by Desmond and Eamonn McCann in 1980, and now co-owned by Desmond and his wife, Caroline Downey – retained its independence.

News of MCD’s acquisition by LNG, first reported on Wednesday by Hot Press, follows that of the retirement of longtime Live Nation UK president, Paul Latham. Desmond described Latham as a “good friend”, and wished him “every happiness on his retirement”.

“Adding MCD to our successful joint venture is the logical next step in the development of LN-Gaiety Holdings”

LN-Gaiety’s UK portfolio includes stakes in Festival Republic, Academy Music Group, Mama & Company, DF Concerts, The Warehouse Project/Parklife and Isle of Wight Festival.

MCD is the largest concert promoter in Ireland and eighth biggest in the world, according to Pollstar. Recent major shows include U2, Coldplay, Guns N’ Roses and, most recently, Taylor Swift at Croke Park stadium in Dublin.

Confirming news of the takeover to IQ, a Live Nation spokesperson says: “Through our joint venture with Gaiety Investments, LN-Gaiety Holdings Ltd, we have worked with Denis Desmond for 14 years. Adding the complementary MCD Productions to our successful joint venture is the logical next step in the development of LN-Gaiety Holdings.”

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.