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United at Home: How David Guetta live streams raised millions

United at Home, David Guetta’s free-to-access lockdown livestream series, has raised more than US$2 million for charity to date – over half a million dollars per show – and is just getting started, according to co-organiser Michael Wiesenfeld.

Wiesenfeld, a French-born, Miami-based estate agent and friend of Guetta, was instrumental in setting up the first United at Home event in April 2020, which saw the DJ play a 100-minute set on the roof of an apartment block in Miami in aid of the World Health Organization (WHO), Feeding South Florida, Feeding America and France’s Fondation des Hôpitaux.

The show was seen by more than 12 million people – many of which also joined in on a Zoom link, while 7,000 residents of neighbouring blocks in the Icon Brickell complex watched from their balconies – and raised $700,000, with donations matched by Guetta himself, Wiesenfeld explains.

“For that first show, David paid for 100% of the production, as well as matching people’s donations, so 100% of that money went directly to charity,” he recalls.

Thinking back to the genesis of the show, Wiesenfeld tells IQ: “David wanted to do something to give back, but he didn’t really know what. I was the same – it was such a stressful time, and I couldn’t sleep thinking of all these people who were worse off than me. We could see people were struggling. There was no help at the time, as this was before any stimulus package.

“I used to live in the apartment block where we did the first show and I realised it would be perfect. I was looking for something that would be visually very nice [to watch from home] and also offer the possibility for David to interact with a live crowd. A friend and client of mine in the real-estate business, Jean-Charles Carre, is part of David’s management team, so I called them up and said, ‘Why don’t we do it here?’”

The United at Home team, which also included Jérémy Zeitoun, Guetta’s head of social media and digital marketing, and Pierre-Georges Kieffer from Warner Music France, pulled the Miami show together in under a week, working “18 hours a day for five days” to make it happen, Wiesenfeld continues.

In addition to providing some much-needed entertainment, the funds raised by United at Home Miami and follow-up event United at Home New York, on 30 May, enabled Feeding America to distribute over four million meals to people in need.

“We thought about selling tickets to raise more money, but it would limit the number of people who can see it”

“Everybody has same story about it giving a bit of happiness at time of such darkness,” Wiesenfeld says. “I dug out the clips recently and, even a year later, I had chills. It was like watching France win the world cup!”

“That night, I couldn’t sleep,” Wiesenfeld remembers. “David, the team and I were on the phone until 6.30 in the morning, we were so full of adrenaline. We all agreed that we had to do another one.”

The show that followed, which saw Guetta performing from the roof of New York’s Rockefeller Center, almost didn’t happen, with big-city bureaucracy, the worsening Covid-19 situation and the protests sparked by the death of George Floyd threatening to derail the concert before it got off the ground.

“The day of the event, there were 4,000 people on the streets of New York by our hotel,” Wiesenfeld explains. “We didn’t think we were going to make it to the Rockefeller Center in time. In the end, David arrived seven minutes before the show!”

Despite the chaotic circumstances, United at Home New York was another critical and financial success, securing the backing of a number of high-profile sponsors who were impressed by what the team had pulled off in Miami.

“In Miami, David paid for entire show, but in New York we had Major League Soccer, Heineken, Atari, all kinds of companies… In total, we had maybe 15 sponsors because they saw what we did in Miami and they were blown away,” says Wiesenfeld.

Similarly successful were United at Home Paris, held at the Louvre on New Year’s Eve 2020, and United at Home Dubai, which saw Guetta return to the rooftop (this time of the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah hotel) on 6 February. Both shows were engineered by Guetta’s long time tour manager, Jean-Guillaume Charvet, and visual artist Romain Pissenem of High Scream Production, and brought United at Home’s now-trademark mix of high-energy electronic music, spectacular visual effects and breathtaking locations to fans in new continents.

Bucking the trend towards ticketed live streams, Wiesenfeld says all future United at Home events will remain free to view to ensure they reach as many people as possible.

“The key with charity is that it’s all about the experience and the connection with people”

“We thought about it [selling tickets], to raise more money, but it would limit the number of people who can see it,” he explains. “David’s logic is that he’s been very successful, he’s received a lot from his fans, and now his duty is to give back. The charity angle is very important to him.”

At press time, the four shows had been collectively viewed by well over 100m people – and where in the beginning the team had to approach cities to host United at Home, now the cities are coming to them. “The shows have shown that these United at Home events are a great way of advertising their cities,” says Wiesenfeld, who with Carre now leads a specialist event consultancy, The Charity Guys. “After all, it’s a lot cheaper than hosting the Euros…”

The plan for 2021–22 is for another three or four over the next 12 months, he says. “Now United at Home has become a concept – we travel to a beautiful part of the world and play great music for charity – it’s going to continue.”

Post-coronavirus, Wiesenfeld adds, team Guetta – which also includes agent Maria May of CAA – are also hoping to do a “real show in a big stadium: a festival curated by David but featuring other artists. A Live Aid type of thing, once a year.”

On the live stream front, it’s likely the next United at Home show will be in Asia, but The Charity Guys is also looking at South America, the Middle East and other cities in Europe, according to Wiesenfeld. “What we’re trying to do is find new ways to raise money for those who need it,” he adds.

The Charity Guys is also hoping to work with other artists to replicate the success of the United at Home model, using it as their proof of concept.

“United at Home was the product of out-of-the-box thinking – it was livestreaming but in a completely different way. Now we want to do that with other artists and entertainers, leveraging their fame and brand to raise money.

“There are a lot of celebrities who have foundations but they don’t raise much money, and I think that’s because they don’t have the right team around them. The key with charity is that it’s all about the experience and the connection with people, and that’s why United at Home has been so successful.”

 


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Gilberto Santa Rosa plays three sold-out shows in FL

Latin music star Gilberto Santa Rosa played three back-to-back, sold-out shows in Florida over Valentine’s day weekend, in some of Florida’s first concerts of 2021.

Santa Rosa, known as the Caballero de la Salsa (Gentleman of Salsa), played to socially distanced audiences outside Dr Phillips Center of the Performing Arts, in Orlando, on Friday 12th and the Fillmore (3,230-cap.), in Miami Beach, on Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 February.

The shows, promoted by Loud and Live, took place in a socially distanced format, with Santa Rosa performing songs including ‘Perdóname’, ‘Conciencia’, ‘Que Alguien Me Diga’, ‘Si Te dijeron’ and ‘Sin Voluntad’ to a crowd separated into Covid-secure bubbles (Dr Phillips show pictured).

“I am very happy to have returned to the stage and received that special energy that the public gives me,” says the five-time Latin Grammy/Grammy winner. “It has been a great privilege to be able to make these presentations in Orlando and Miami after a year of totally atypical concerts.

“We are proud to have brought to the public of Orlando and Miami the live experience they’ve been missing”

“The entertainment industry must come back, and we all have to push ourselves and make the necessary adjustments to make that happen. Hopefully, my experience this weekend will be an incentive to energise our industry wisely and safely.”

Reflecting on the shows, which included guest appearances from La India, Tito Nieves, Victor Manuelle and Aymée Nuviola, Loud and Live CEO Nelson Albareda comments: “This weekend marked the return live music, while at the same time following the pertinent regulations established during the pandemic for the artists and the industry.

“We are proud to have brought to the public of Orlando and Miami – our home – the live experience they’ve been missing and longing for.”

Loud and Live, a leading promoter of Latin music in the US, partnered with Latin America’s Move Concerts at the tail end of 2019.

 


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Venues double as Covid-19 testing centres

Venues around the world are showing their versatility in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, as more and more transform into emergency field hospitals and others start serving as drive-through testing centres.

As the UK government looks to ramp up its coronavirus testing capacity, major venues around the country are transforming into testing centres.

The SSE Arena in Belfast, Northern Ireland, is among such venues. Tests will be administered to NHS workers via a drive-through system in the car park of the 11,000-capacity arena.

Other sports and event stadia in the UK, including the Cardiff City Stadium in Wales and Edgbaston Stadium in Warwickshire, England, are also serving as similar centres.

The news comes as more venues in the UK double as field hospitals. The flagship Nightingale Hospital at the ExCel Centre in London opened its doors on 3 April, with the ability to hold up to 4,000 patients.

Similar hospitals are planned at Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre (2,000 beds), Manchester Central (1,000 beds), Glasgow’s Scottish Events Campus (1,000 beds) and the Harrogate Convention Centre (500 beds).

In Spain, Madrid’s Ifema – a 2.9 million m² conference and exhibition centre – transformed into the country’s biggest hospital in just 18 hours. Since opening on 23 March, 939 patients have been admitted to the emergency hospital.

“Music and shows form an integral part of Ifema, and we will return very soon to share these moments”

“We have transformed our space to offer the best of Ifema – our commitment and solidarity,” states the venue’s general manager, Eduardo López-Puertas.

“Music and shows form an integral part of Ifema, and we will return very soon to share these moments,” adds López-Puertas. “When it can, music will return stronger, sweeter and more immense than before. Meanwhile, we continue to do what we have to do.”

The first coronavirus patients arrived at New York’s 170,000m² Javits Convention Center last week, with the space set to hold up to 1,700 beds by the end of this week. The transformation of a similar convention centre in Detroit – the TCF Center (67,200 m²) – began today (7 April).

The Miami-Dade fairgrounds, which host the annual County Youth Fair and Exposition Inc., has been serving as a 250-bed field hospital since the end of last month, with another part of the grounds being used as a food distribution centre.

In Brazil, the Pacaembu Stadium in São Paulo is one of a number of football stadiums – including the 78,838-seat Maracanã of reigning champions Flamengo – to be turned into a temporary hospital, with room for 200 beds. Paul McCartney and the Rolling Stones are among artists who have performed at the Pacaembu Stadium.

In Germany, event production giant PRG is helping to set up a hospital at the Berlin Expo Center, due to open later this month. PRG is among a number of production companies directing its skills and resources to aid the medical sector during the coronavirus crisis.

 


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Live Nation takes stake in Miami’s Groot Hospitality

Live Nation has taken a majority stake in Miami-based venue operator Groot Hospitality, owned by entrepreneur David Grutman.

Groot Hospitality’s portfolio includes nightclubs Liv (1,100-cap.) and Story (1,400-cap.), the Swan and Bar Bevy, which is a joint venture with singer Pharell Williams, and several restaurants.

Launched by Grutman in 2018, Groot Hospitality now plans to expand into new markets, with eleven projects set to open in Dallas, Las Vegas and Dubai, as well as in Miami, over the next two years.

“Entertainment is the DNA of Groot Hospitality, so it was a natural fit for us to join the leading live entertainment company,” says Grutman.

“Entertainment is the DNA of Groot Hospitality, so it was a natural fit for us to join the leading live entertainment company”

“Live Nation shares my passion for creating once-in-a-lifetime experiences and together we will grow our portfolio worldwide while pushing the limits of fans’ expectations.”

Grutman will stay on as CEO of Groot Hospitality, along with executives Chris Cuomo and Mo Garcia.

According to a press statement, Live Nation hopes to use Grutman’s expertise to “elevate and launch offerings” across its venues, festivals and events.

IQ calculates that Live Nation has taken a majority shareholding in 18 promoters, festivals and other live music-related businesses so far this year across Asia (One Production), Australia (Moshtix), North America (Embrace Presents, Neste Event Marketing, Levitate, Spaceland Presents, Bonnaroo), Europe (Planet Events, Blockfest, Tons of Rock, Antwerps Sportpaleis, PDH Music, Go Ahead, Rewind Festival, Hög Agency) and Latin America (Rock in Rio, Ocesa Entertainment).

 


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Juan Luis Guerra celebrates Miami success

Grammy- and Latin Grammy-winning artist Juan Luis Guerra broke his own attendance record on Saturday 5 October at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida.

Part of Guerra’s national Literal tour, the show played to a sold-out of arena of more than 13,000 fans, and included special appearances from contemporary Latin stars Juanes and Monsieur Periné.

Remaining stops on the Literal tour include Los Angeles (20 October), Washington DC (25 Oct) and Orlando, Florida (27 Oct).

Dominican Republic-born Juan Luis Guerra has won two Grammy Awards and 21 Latin Grammys, and sold more than 70 million records worldwide.

The Literal tour is promoted by Loud and Live, which launched a JV with leading Latin American promoter Move Concerts earlier this week.

 


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Concerts cancelled over Hurricane Dorian concerns

A host of concerts in Miami and Orlando were cancelled or postponed this weekend due to concerns over Hurricane Dorian, the storm that has been battering the Bahamas since Sunday (1 September) and is approaching the Florida east coast.

In anticipation of the hurricane, which hit the Bahamas as a category five storm, the Rolling Stones brought their show at Miami’s 65,326-capacity Hard Rock stadium forward one night to Friday evening. The concert had previously been rescheduled from April to account for Mick Jagger’s heart surgery.

Chris Brown was also due to play in Miami, but cancelled his show at the 20,737-capacity BB&T Center on Sunday evening. No replacement date has been announced. An automatic refund will be issued to customers who bought tickets through Ticketmaster online or by phone. Those with physical tickets will need to return to the outlet they purchased from.

Miami-born Pitbull cited unsafe travel conditions as the reason for postponing an appearance at the Los Angeles County Fair on Sunday. Pitbull’s management told fans the rapper could not “safely depart from Miami” due to Dorian’s approach and rescheduled his appearance for 12 September.

Pitbull’s management told fans the rapper could not “safely depart from Miami” due to Dorian’s approach

Sunday ticket holders were still able to enter the fair, with the same passes being eligible for the alternate date. Refunds are also available via the Ticketmaster website.

Mexican musician Marco Antonio Solis rescheduled his two Florida shows over the weekend for 20 October at Orlando’s Amway Center (20,000-cap.) and 26 October at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami (21,000-cap.).

Dutch DJ Afrojack cancelled his Miami appearance at Story Nightclub (1.400-cap.) on Friday.

Hurricane Dorian will move “dangerously close” to Florida’s east coasts and the coasts of Georgia and Carolina over the course of today. “Life-threatening storm surges” are expected in those areas, whereas “devastating winds and storm surges” continue over Grand Bahama.

At the time of writing the category three hurricane was around 105 miles east of West Palm Beach, Florida.

 


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Managing the Latin explosion: Rebeca León Q&A

Update: the quotation “I am the only female executive I know” appeared in a previous edition of this article. Rebeca León did not use these words, IQ apologises for the misunderstanding.

With over 20 years in the business, Rebeca León is a pioneer in the Latin music space, initiating the career of hit reggaeton artist J Balvin and managing fast-rising Spanish star Rosalía.

Having served as senior vice president of Latin talent at AEG, León is now chief executive of her own management company, Lionfish Entertainment, which she founded along with Colombian musician Juanes.

As Latin music continues to gain more traction across the globe, IQ catches up with León to find out the secrets behind her success, discuss the sometimes male-dominated Latin music business and gain insight into the potential of Rosalía’s Flamenco-infused rhythms.

 


IQ: Why Latin music?
RL: I think it was a combination of my own cultural background – I was born to Cuban parents in Miami and grew up with the culture – and good timing. I moved back to Miami after college and there were lots of Latin labels around. I started working at Sony Music Latin in 1998 in the midst of a crossover track explosion, so it was a really exciting time to be involved in Latin music.

You really grew the profile of Latin music in LA and across the US during your tenure at AEG, can you tell us a bit more about your time there?
I was at AEG for eleven years. I was hired to book the then Nokia Theatre (now 7,100-cap. Microsoft Theatre) at entertainment complex LA Live.

The idea was to bring Latin shows to that venue. Before, Latin artists were only really playing New York and Miami and I was asking myself why. We became the headquarters for Latin music in LA and I was the only promoter in the company that could really book Latin shows around the whole country.

AEG were really great to me, they gave me huge wings and plenty of opportunities to grow. Latin music and, in particular, reggaeton music, began reaching new markets across the whole of the United States.

“Latin artists were only really playing New York and Miami and I was asking myself why”

Why did you decide to make the move to setting up your own management company?
I think going into management was the natural next step for me. I was lucky to have had experience with record labels, promoters and management previously, so I was able to see the whole thing and apply all that knowledge through being a manager. It seemed like an amazing opportunity to be up close to people I really respected – the artists – it was always something that I wanted to do and it felt like a privilege to do so.

I really love being creative and managing allowed me to be in a more collaborative relationship with the artist, rather than just inheriting something. I could be on the inside of the long term strategy – setting goals and creating paths – and that was very attractive for me.

It reminds me of when I started working with J Balvin and we both believed he would be a global superstar. We put a strategy together from the very beginning in order to make it happen. That was a very exciting time.

You’re now managing Spanish singer Rosalía who has a very different sound to other Latin artists – is this signalling a new direction for Latin music?
I think Rosalía is super special. An artist like that only comes around once every 50 years. What people are responding to is the authenticity of her very unique take on music. She produces and writes at least in part all her own songs – it’s all her. This is difficult to replicate, so I can’t say this type of music will become a trend. This is more about finding a truly unique and talented artist.

In general, there are still more male than female artists having more success industry-wide and particularly in Latin music, how can this be tackled?
The Latin world is notoriously machista, just as every culture has its challenges, one way or another. It’s not going to happen from one day to the next, but we do have more female artists in the Latin music space now – Becky G, Greeicy [Rendón], Anitta.

All of a sudden there’s a whole bunch of girls appearing, but I know it’s not enough. However, I do feel that people are aware and conscious of the imbalance and are starting to make strategic decision to create more opportunities for women in general.

“An artist like Rosalía only comes around once every 50 years”

What has your own experience been like as a female executive in the industry?
I am happy to be a woman in the industry – even if sometimes I am the only girl in the room. I try to be smart about the way I do business and it doesn’t matter if you’re a woman or a man, this is the most important thing.

I’m 100% aware that we need more positions for women. Professor Stacy Smith, founder and director of the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, has put together a study of women across the industry as a whole, and the numbers are really astounding.

We need to inform ourselves of these imbalances and shine a light on the women who are having success in the industry and make sure they get the recognition they deserve. The conversation needs to be about empowering and educating women on how to talk about money and power, and how to handle difficult situations. We need to give women the tools they need to succeed.

What’s next for Lionfish Entertainment?
Rosalía is one of the most incredible artists I have ever encountered. It’s so exciting and beautiful what’s happening there, so I want to make sure we support her as much as possible.

Aside from that, I’m working on some film and TV projects. That’s the focus for us really in 2020 – not letting this cultural movement be just about music – I want to make Latin content across all media.


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LN launches Rolling Loud in Hong Kong

Live Nation Electronic Asia is launching Rolling Loud in Hong Kong, the first two-day hip-hop festival to take place in the city.

Founded in 2015 by Matt Zingler and Tariq Cherif, the Miami-based Rolling Loud has grown to become a three-day, 60,000-capacity event. The festival now also takes place in the Bay Area, Los Angeles and New York. This year, an inaugural Sydney edition sold all 20,000 tickets in 38 minutes.

Past performers include J Cole, Lil Wayne, Asap Rocky, Kendrick Lamar, Post Malone and Cardi B.

In 2019, Chinese hip-hop artists Bridge, K Eleven and Josh, from the Chongqing-based rap and hip-hop label Gosh, performed at Rolling Loud Miami. Chinese ‘hip-hop poet’ Jony J also appeared on the line-up.

“Hip-hop has extended itself across the world and taken over local youth culture everywhere, particularly in Asia”

“Hip-hop has extended itself across the world and taken over local youth culture everywhere, particularly in Asia,” says Live Nation Electronic Asia managing director Jim Wong.

“We are now ready to bring Rolling Loud to my beloved city, Hong Kong, and take the Asia hip-hop music scene to the next level.”

Live Nation Electronic Asia was formed in 2017 to respond to “the region’s rising demand for electronic dance music”. Live Nation recently launched a similar division, Electronic Nation, in the UK, headed up by Cream managing director Scott Barton.

Rolling Loud Hong Kong will take place at the Art Park in the West Kowloon cultural district from 19 to 20 October. The full line-up and ticket details will be announced soon.

 


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Latin king Roberto Carlos begins world tour with Miami sell-out

After a five-year US touring hiatus, veteran Brazilian singer-songwriter Roberto Carlos has sold out the first show of his new world tour, on Saturday at the American Airlines Arena in Miami.

Carlos (pictured), known as the ‘King of Latin music’, has sold more than 12,000 tickets for the 9 March concert, according to promoters Move Concerts and Loud and Live.

The tour will feature music from his first album in Spanish in 25 years, Amor Sin Límite, and also visit other US cities, including Orlando, New York, Boston, Washington DC and Houston, before heading to Argentina and Europe.

Roberto Carlos has sold more than 150 million albums worldwide, and was recently awarded the Premio Excelencia at the prestigious Premios Lo Nuestro Awards.

 


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Live Nation promotes Neil Jacobsen, Brittany Flores

Live Nation has promoted Brittany Flores and Neil Jacobsen to president of Miami, US concerts, and president of Tampa/Orlando, US concerts, respectively.

Flores joined Live Nation in 2012, reporting to Jacobsen and booking across Live Nation’s venues in Florida. In 2017, she expanded her responsibilities, playing a key role in opening the new Daily’s Place (5,500-cap.) venue in Jacksonville.

Jacobsen has been with Live Nation and its predecessors for over four decades. In his new role he will run the company’s concert business in Tampa, St Petersburg, Orlando and the Florida panhandle.

“With Brittany and Neil at the helm, we are positioned to maximise the opportunities across this key region”

In a newly created position, he will also assume the role of chief operating officer of Florida.

Both will report to Bob Roux, Live Nation’s president of US concerts. Both are currently based in Live Nation’s Boca Raton office, where they can be reached until the two new Live Nation offices open in Miami and Tampa/St Petersburg next year.

“As the market leader, we’ve seen incredible growth in Florida over the past several years,” says Roux. “With Brittany and Neil at the helm, we are positioned to maximise the opportunities across this key region and bring more live music to Florida than ever before.”

 


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