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Positivus festival reaps rewards from site move

Positivus founder and CEO Girts Majors has spoken to IQ about how the festival was able to afford its most impressive and expensive line-up yet thanks to a change of location.

Established in 2007, Positivus is the largest popular music and arts festival in the Baltics, welcoming up to 30,000 local and international fans each year.

Muse, Nick Cave, Robert Plant, Iggy Pop, Ellie Goulding, The xx, Sigur Rós and Sinéad O’Connor are among the world-class acts that have performed at the festival, which for 13 years has taken place in the small beach town of Salacgriva.

This year, the festival took place in Lucavsala park – a 370-acre island on the Daugava river in the capital city of Riga – in order to become “more accessible to a wider audience”.

“Riga can provide a green island in the middle of the city… there are not many European cities that can provide such a unique location so close to the city centre,” says Majors.

In total, the festival sold 20,000 tickets – the highest number of visitors in years

Most importantly, the new location has resulted in more financial support (from the city of Riga), a bigger site, and several new sponsorship deals.

And so, despite the financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the festival was able to book its most expensive line-up yet, bringing acts such as Megan Thee Stallion, A$AP Rocky and Thundercat to Latvia for the first time ever.

In total, the festival sold 20,000 tickets – the highest number of visitors in years, according to Girts.

And while the festival encountered typical challenges such as rising costs, USD rate and a loss of regular professionals, not a single artist dropped out of the lineup.

Off the back of the most “impressive” edition in the festival’s history, Girts says: “There are no doubts anymore that our current site can give you the best Positivus festival experience”.

 


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AmazeVR teams with Korea’s SM to launch Studio A

Los Angeles-based virtual reality concert platform AmazeVR has teamed with K-pop juggernaut SM Entertainment to form joint venture Studio A.

Based in Seoul, South Korea, the “industry-leading VR concerts production deal” will pool AmazeVR’s technology with SM’s extensive artist network.

Concerts will be distributed exclusively through AmazeVR and SM’s VR music metaverse services.

“SM is excited to expand our market to include metaverse content for artists using AmazeVR’s industry-leading VR technologies and proprietary concert creation tools. We’ve had a great interest in this market and see the opportunity for our artists in the metaverse,” says Sung-su Lee, CEO of SM Entertainment. “AmazeVR shares the same vision for this next generation of music.”

“We’re going to see some phenomenal VR concerts”

AmazeVR partnered with Megan Thee Stallion on her recently completed Enter Thee Hottieverse virtual reality concert tour, which took place in 10 cities across the US between April and July. Ticket-buyers were able to go to their local movie theatre, put on VR headsets and hang out in the “VR Hottieverse lobby” before watching the rapper. The VR concert performance featured a multi-song set that moved through a series of environments and featured custom wardrobes designed just for the show.

Leading entertainment company SM’s new girl group Aespa recently made their debut in the metaverse and played their first US live show at Coachella 2022. Other artists on SM’s roster include NCT, Super Junior, Girls’ Generation, Shinee, Exo, Red Velvet, SuperM, TVXQ, and BoA.

“We’re thrilled at the prospect of working with SM to collaborate with K-pop and other Asian artists, as well as other Asian music companies, through our new partnership.” says AmazeVR co-CEO Ernest Lee. “We’re going to see some phenomenal VR concerts. They’ve influenced K-pop globally, united the music industry across the continent, and brought unique and energetic performances to worldwide audiences,”

“Our JV partnership with SM Entertainment will deliver mesmerising, fully immersive VR concerts featuring mega K-Pop stars,” adds AmazeVR co-CEO Steve Lee.” Never before have fans been able to experience their favourite artists in such an intimate and personal way.”

 


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AmazeVR raises $15m for virtual reality concerts

LA-based startup AmazeVR has closed a US$15 million round of funding to support its vision for virtual reality concerts.

Funding was provided by Partners Investment, Smilegate Investment, Quantum Ventures Korea, ABC Partners, Everrich Group, and GS Futures – the corporate venture capital arm of GS Group, one of the largest Korean conglomerates.

In addition to these investors, AmazeVR has been backed by several other major investors: Timewise Investment, venture capital arm of CJ Group; LG Technology Ventures; Mirae Asset Capital; Mirae Asset Venture Investment; Murex Partners; Dunamu Partners; Base Investment; and We Ventures.

According to the company, the bridge funding was oversubscribed within three weeks. It includes $9.5m in previous bridge financing and brings the company’s total raise to $30.8m.

“This funding allows us to keep hiring aggressively,” says AmazeVR co-CEO Ernest Lee. “In 2021, we tripled our team in Hollywood and Seoul. We’ve been able to attract top talent from the industries we touch including creatives who have worked with artists such as Kanye and Cardi B; a former marketing director at Live Nation; a film buyer for Regal/Cinemark; and an AI engineer from NVIDIA.

“This puts us in an ideal position to take full advantage of VR and the metaverse’s growing popularity”

“This puts us in an ideal position to take full advantage of VR and the metaverse’s growing popularity, as we deliver breathtaking VR concerts from major artists, first to theatres, then to homes worldwide.”

AmazeVR’s first-ever VR concert tour is taking place in spring with three-time Grammy winner Megan Thee Stallion, it was announced last August.

The ‘one-of-a-kind’ experience will be developed for cinemas outfitted with haptic motion chairs and VR headsets, and will also be available via a ‘music metaverse service’ using at-home VR headsets.

“You really need to experience our VR concerts to get a full grasp of how impactful they are. VR can finally blow all 2D experiences out of the water. Thanks to our tech, we can evoke a real sense of presence you can’t get from a screen, the feeling that your favorite artist is right there, face to face with you,” explains Lee.

“This opens up a new dimension for music, one of the first new ways for artists and fans to connect since recordings appeared. We’re thrilled that investors are grasping this and are supporting us as we innovate and grow.”

AmazeVR is planning to raise a Series B in early 2022.

 


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AmazeVR to create virtual experience for Megan Thee Stallion

AmazeVR has inked a deal to create an immersive virtual reality concert experience for Grammy award-winning artist Megan Thee Stallion.

The ‘one-of-a-kind’ experience will be developed for cinemas outfitted with haptic motion chairs and VR headsets, and will also be available via a ‘music metaverse service’ using at-home VR headsets.

The virtual reality content service and the Roc Nation artist are set to unveil the experience to the public early next year.

“Megan Thee Stallion is a true artist,” said Ernest Lee, co-CEO of AmazeVR. “We are putting together a show unlike anything that’s been done before. It will be an epic, yet personal, performance that allows anyone to feel like they are right there with Megan for a shared experience.”

“We are putting together a show unlike anything that’s been done before”

Megan Thee Stallion added: “Creativity is limitless in the world of virtual reality, which means the concepts and ideas I have can also be limitless. I am so excited to work with AmazeVR to take my wild ideas and make them into a virtual reality for all my fans to see. Get ready!”

The news comes shortly after AmazeVR secured $9.5 million in new funding to accelerate the company’s growth in the world of virtual reality concerts.

The LA-based startup says it is investing the funding in talent and tech – hiring the industry’s best VFX artists, video production teams, engineers and creative talent.

The company recently announced a collaboration with creative director Lewis James, who is known for his work with artists such as Beyonce, Jay-Z, Travis Scott and Post Malone, and will oversee the Megan Thee Stallion experience.

The company has also said it plans to make upcoming shows available to more viewers through a partnership with Canadian company D-Box Technologies, which manufactures haptic motion systems used in cinemas, theme parks and simulation devices.

 


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Grammys double down on live after year of no concerts

Dua Lipa, Taylor Swift and Megan Thee Stallion delivered a handful of the 32 live or pre-recorded performances at the annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles last night (14 March).

The 63rd edition kicked off with three back-to-back performances from Harry Styles, Billie Eilish and Haim, who performed in an in-the-round set-up, reminiscent of Later… with Jools Holland.

Eilish and her brother/producer Finneas performed her ethereal ballad ‘Everything I Wanted’, for which she took home Record of the Year, for the second consecutive year.

Megan Thee Stallion made her impressive debut at the Grammys, scooping three awards including Best New Artist, and delivering two performances that were ranked first and second place on Billboards performance review list.

The rapper first performed a medley of ‘Body’ and ‘Savage’ – the latter won her Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance along with Beyoncé, who featured on the recording – before joining Cardi B onstage for a live rendition of their chart-topping smash ‘WAP’.

Beyoncé also made her mark last night, becoming the most-awarded person in Grammys history with her 28th win

Beyoncé had an equally unforgettable night, becoming the most-awarded person in Grammys history with her 28th win for ‘Black Parade’. Bluegrass singer Alison Krauss previously held the title.

Taylor Swift also made history at Sunday’s ceremony, by becoming the first female artist ever to win album of the year three times.

Only three other artists have ever won the album of the year prize three times: Frank Sinatra, Paul Simon and Stevie Wonder.

The star was rewarded for her lockdown album ‘Folklore’, which she performed in part during last night’s ceremony with collaborators Aaron Dessner and Jack Antonoff.

‘Cardigan’, ‘August’ and ‘Willow’ all got an outing during Swift’s first Grammys performance in five years.

BTS, Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak, Doja Cat, Post Malone and Lionel Richie also delivered performances at last night’s Grammys.

Last night’s award show was the first from executive producer Ben Winston, best known for turning James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke series into a viral hit. Winston is the first new producer since Ken Ehrlich took over the show in 1980.

The production’s Covid precautions included 6ft-compliant tables and chairs beneath an outdoor terrace, five separate stages at the Los Angeles Convention Center and widespread testing – all of which added millions to the show’s budget.

See a complete list of winners and nominees for the 2021 Grammys here.

 


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The Radar Station: Coi Leray makes it two in October

After a brief dethronement in September, Coi Leray was once again the fastest-growing new act last month, becoming only the second artist to twice place top the monthly Radar Station chart. Rising US hip-hop star Leray was the No 1 artist in August, and second the following month, when she briefly ceded first place to Australian drill rappers OneFour.

October saw her equal a feat previously managed only by Megan thee Stallion, who spent two months at No 1 in April and May 2019. (Megan thee Stallion has gone on work with Nicki Minaj and Chance the Rapper and sign a management deal with Roc Nation – as well as spawn a meme in the form of ‘Hot Girl Summer’.)

“Coi is challenging the norms in the urban genre and setting herself apart from other artists, which is clearly showing now as the momentum ramps up,” Paradigm London’s Mike Malak, who represents Leray jointly with Alex Hardee, tells IQ.

October saw Leray equal a feat previously managed only by Megan thee Stallion

The Republic-signed rapper’s 2018 break-out single, ‘Huddy’, remains her most-listened track, though Leray continues to release new music ahead of her first headline tour in 2020. She is currently on the road in the US, supporting Canadian rapper Killy.

The Radar Station algorithm calculates the fastest-growing new artists by combining data across a number of online platforms, including Spotify, Instagram, Facebook, Songkick and Last.fm.

At No 2 in October was another Australian drill act, Melbourne-based Samoans HP Boyz, who climbed from 16th, illustrating growing international interest in the genre – while a new entry, US student rapper 24kGoldn, was third.

See below for a Spotify playlist of last month’s Radar Station top 20, plus the full chart with links to artists’ social pages and contact details.

This monthLast monthArtistCountry
12Coi LerayUS
216HP BoyzAU
3-24kGoldnUS
41OnefourAU
57King CombsUS
612LightskinkeishaUS
75Sueco the ChildUS
813Benny the ButcherUS
918Ms BanksUK
109AmbjaayUS
1114Sophie RoseUS
1244Baby RoseUS
1321Hooligan HefsAU
1417InhalerIE
15-83 BabiesUS
1615Joba (Brockhampton)US
1723Mal and QuillUS
18110JC StewartUK
1981Isaac DunbarUS
20115Chris LorenzoUS

For more details about the Radar Station, contact [email protected].

 


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Radar Station: Megan thee Stallion makes it two months at the top

After becoming the first woman to reach the top of the Radar Station chart in April, US rapper Megan thee Stallion last month become the first to successfully defend her title, retaining her crown as the fastest-growing new artist in May.

Born in Houston, Texas, in 1995, Megan thee Stallion (aka Hot Girl Meg, real name Megan Pete) learned to rap from her mother, who performed under the name Holly-Wood. She released her debut single, ‘Like a Stallion’, in 2016, with her first EP, Make it Hot, following in 2017.

Pete (pictured) signed to the 300 Entertainment label, co-founded by YouTube head of music Lyor Cohen, late last year, and released her debut album, Fever, earlier this month.

In a positive review, the New York Times praised Fever as a welcome antidote to the largely male-dominated hip-hop scene. NYT reviewer Jon Caramanica writes:

There has long been a numbing calculus at work in hip-hop that has largely only afforded oxygen to one female rapper at a time, or at most, two. The internet has exploded that logic, thankfully — Megan Thee Stallion is part of a robust generation of women with wildly differing styles, though many of them share an affinity for sexual frankness. Megan Thee Stallion’s sex raps (“Pimpin,” “Sex Talk” and many more) are raw, luridly detailed and completely unfazed. (And largely in newspaper-unfriendly language.)

On “Fever,” there are only two guests, both men: Juicy J, a pioneer of hip-hop filth, and the up-and-comer DaBaby. Both provide verses that, had they appeared on their own albums, might have seemed unduly crass or cringey. But here, the ridiculous brags seem almost charming — they’re just trying to keep up.

Megan thee Stallion’s 2018 mixtape Tina Snow was streamed more than 11m times

The album also received an 8/10 rating from the notoriously hard-to-please Pitchfork, and has commercially outperformed Megan thee Stallion’s previous releases, including 2018 mixtape Tina Snow, which was streamed more than 11 million times across all platforms.

The Radar Station algorithm calculates the fastest-growing new artists by combining data across a number of online platforms, including Spotify, Facebook, Songkick and Last.fm. For more details about the Radar Station, contact [email protected].

Irish five-piece Fontaines DC, who signed with ATC Live’s Sarah Besnard in Europe last September, held the #2 spot in May, climbing from no 68 the previous month.

In addition to their streaming success, the band are also closing in on the record for the all-time highest number of European Talent Exchange Programme (Etep) festival bookings, with 18 so far in 2019, including Glastonbury, Roskilde and Trnsmt.

In third place are American rapcore act the Fever 333, whose debut album, Strength in Numb333rs, was released in January. A strong early-summer showing on streaming services sees them climb 29 places, from 32, in April.

See the full chart, along with links to artists’ Facebook pages and booking agency details, below.

 

This monthLast monthArtistCountryAgency
11Megan Thee StallionUSN/A
268Fontaines D.C.IEATC Live (EU), Paradigm (US)
332Fever 333, theUSAGI (US), X-ray Touring (RoW)
421Jade BirdUKCoda (UK), Paradigm (US)
5320Lolo ZouaïUSParadigm (North America), Coda (RoW)
623Maisie PetersUKCAA
7227Drax ProjectNZCoda (UK & EU), Eccles Entertainment (NZ), Paradigm (RoW)
8128Chats, theAUSelect Music (AU), X-ray Touring (UK & EU), ICM Partners (North America)
9-Kelsey LuUSWME, Primary Talent
1026BülowUKUTA (US), CAA (UK), APA (Canada)
11236RutiUKN/A
12280BlackwayUSN/A
1345Joy CrookesUKPrimary Talent
1490No RomeUKPrimary Talent
15137Bang Bang RomeoUKParadigm (Americas), UTA (RoW)
1617Comet Is Coming, theUKSolo
17337Fat TonyUSRogue Agency
1815Flora Cash SWE/ USParadigm (Americas), UTA (RoW)
19215Social HouseUSUTA
2063Cautious ClayUSParadigm

 


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Megan Thee Stallion tops Radar Station for April

American rapper Megan Thee Stallion has topped April’s chart, the first time a female artist has clinched the top spot in IQ Radar Station chart history.

Philadelphia singer-songwriter Pink Sweats and fellow rapper Tierra Whack take second and third place on the latests chart.

IQ’s monthly Radar Station chart uses an algorithm to identify the fastest-growing new artists by analysing data across a number of online platforms, including Spotify, Facebook, Songkick and Last.fm. The Brits Critics’ Choice award winner headed up last month’s chart, see March’s Radar Station here.

Houston rapper Megan Thee Stallion, real name Megan Pete, released her debut EP Make it Hot in 2017, followed by Tina Snow in June 2018. The latest EP is a reference to one of the rapper’s alter-egos, influenced by Pimp C’s alias Tony Snow.

The first female rapper to sign with 300 Entertainment, Megan Thee Stallion has often spoken out against the tendency to censor women in rap, whereas male artists have free reign to rap as explicitly or aggressively as they like.

Megan Thee Stallion has topped April’s chart, the first time a female artist has clinched the top spot in IQ Radar Station chart history

In February, the rapper released ‘Big Ole Freak’, a single from her Tina Show EP. The release of the artist’s debut album Fever was pushed back following the death of her mother and manager, Holly Thomas, in March and is expected to come out later this month.

Pink Sweats, aka David Bowden, started recording less than a year ago, releasing his first single ‘Honesty’ in July 2018. The single now has over 48 million streams on Spotify alone. Pink Sweats later released his debut EP Volume 1 in November, followed by Volume 2 last month.

Sweats’ acoustic, laid back RnB style takes its influences from artists such as Michael Jackson and Kanye West.

Fellow Philadelphia-native Tierra Whack is friend and mentor of Pink Sweats. Originally releasing music as Dizzle Dizz, the rapper debuted as Tierra Whack in 2017. She released debut album Whack World in May 2018, which is comprised of 15 one minute-long vignettes.

Whack’s single ‘Mumbo Jumbo’ received a nomination for best music video at the 2019 Grammy Awards. The rapper has released one track a week since February.

See the full chart, along with links to artists’ Facebook pages and booking agency details, below.

 

This monthLast monthArtistCountryAgency
133Megan Thee StallionUSN/A
241Pink Sweat$USParadigm, X-ray Touring
39Tierra WhackUSUTA
4-Lil TjayUSAPA
51Sam FenderUKCAA
619BadflowerUSAPA
72Lennon StellaUSCAA
87Polo GUSN/A
925Julia JacklinAUCollective Artists (AUS), ATC (UK, EU), Paradigm (North America)
1029Stella DonnellyAUSelect Music (AUS), ATC (UK), Ground Control (North America)
1121FinneasUSCoda
12-Nle ChoppaUSMac Agency
1342OctavianUKCara Lewis Group (Americas), Echo Location Talent (RoW)
1438ChillinitAUN/A
1518Flora CashSWEParadigm (Americas), UTA (RoW)
166JpegmafiaUSParadigm (USA), WME (RoW)
17174The Comet is ComingUKParadigm (USA), Blow Up Live (RoW)
18128Durand Jones and the IndicationsUSParadigm
1998DynoroLITHUANIACoda
2053Leikeli47USParadigm (Americas), Primary Talent (RoW)

 


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