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Wasserman ups agents Blackgrove, Malak and Slater

Wasserman Music has elevated London-based agents Dave Blackgrove, Mike Malak and Adele Slater to partner.

The trio have bolstered the leadership team of the Wasserman’s UK office, while veteran agents Nick Cave and Chris Smyth have also joined the agency.

Electronic music specialist Blackgrove joined Coda Agency 14 years ago as an assistant and has developed a roster including Camelphat, Fisher, Sonny Fodera, Dom Dolla, Franky Wah, Ben Böhmer, and recent signing Syreeta.

“To move from assistant to a partner at the company says a lot about us as a company, but more about Dave as a person,” says Wasserman Music partner Tom Schroeder. “An unbelievably hard-working family man, he has put so much into the job, showing real tenacity and total commitment to his artists.

“He has established an incredible dance music roster in a sphere that rarely backs a newcomer. We are very proud of what he has achieved, and can already feel what an important impact he is going to make on our board.”

“He has extraordinary instincts for A&R and artist development”

Malak, who won the top agent prize at the Arthur Awards in April, is the European agent for Billie Eilish, who just became the youngest headliner in Glastonbury Festival history and sold out a six-show run at The O2 in London.

He also helped Eilish and her team organise climate change summit Overheated at The O2 and was an executive producer for the accompanying Overheated documentary. Additionally, he is the founder of record label and publishing company Coldpress.

Malak began his career working in various capacities with Black Eyed Peas, then at Warner Bros. Records in London and at Steve Aoki management company Seminal Music before joining Coda 11 years ago. His client roster also includes the likes of Girl in Red, Denzel Curry, Pusha T, BoyWithUke, Joji and 070 Shake.

“Mike has had a great year, with Billie’s European shows and helping her create the Overheated climate conference, as well as winning the Arthur Award,” says Wasserman Music partner Alex Hardee. “He has extraordinary instincts for A&R and artist development, and we’re proud to welcome him into the leadership of our agency.”

“Adele is agent to some of the most exciting acts around

Slater joined Coda six years ago, and signed Liam Gallagher with Alex Hardee. Gallagher headlined two nights at Knebworth last month, bookending Slater’s career, which began as a receptionist and assistant to Stuart Galbraith at concert promoter MCP, who staged Oasis’s legendary shows at Knebworth in 1996.

She later worked as an assistant to Neil Warnock at The Agency Group before returning as a promoter at Live Nation. Slater returned to The Agency Group to work with agent Russell Warby, then moved with Warby to WME, where she was an agent for nine years before joining Coda. Her roster also includes Courtney Barnett, Perfume Genius, The Horrors, Gruff Rhys, Lynks, Asgeir and Wet Leg.

“Adele is agent to some of the most exciting acts around,” says Wasserman Music partner James Whitting. “Liam Gallagher, Wet Leg and Courtney Barnett, to name a select few, are all having fantastic years. Wet Leg’s set at Glastonbury was a particular highlight, and officially the busiest that stage has ever been.

“Not only is Adele a great agent, she has an invaluable knowledge of the live industry that can only be gained by years of experience as both an agent and a promoter, and we welcome her input into the future management of Wasserman Music.”

“Having him join our team is a fantastic win for TeamWass”

Meanwhile, Nick Cave spent 13 years at WME, growing an electronic music roster that includes Charlotte de Witte, Anfisa Letyago, John Summit, 2manydjs/Soulwax, Enrico Sangiuliano, Mind Against and Trentemøller.

“Nick is an unwavering force in this electronic scene. Having him join our team is a fantastic win for TeamWass,” says Blackgrove. “He’s also good for a midday lunch which is great for me.”

Chris Smyth ran his own digital PR company early in his career, before joining Primary Talent International as an agent in 2015. He joined Paradigm’s UK music team in January 2022, shortly before its acquisition by Wasserman Music in April.

His primarily pop-focused roster includes BI, IC3PEAK, Melanie C, MØ, The Rose, The Walters and Tommy Cash.

“Chris brings fantastic taste and instincts to our team of agents, and we look forward to working with him on this next stage of his career,” adds Whitting.

 


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Russians Against War concert raises £50k

A benefit concert spearheaded by Russia’s most popular rapper has raised £50,000 for Ukrainian refugees impacted by the war.

The Russians Against War show, led by Oxxxymiron, took place last Thursday (24 March) at the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London with a sold-out crowd.

The concert saw the Paradigm-repped artist deliver his first London show in six years, as well as a surprise appearance from Russian rock icon Boris Grebenshikov.

Oxxxymiron’s rare UK performance comes after he cancelled six sold-out arena shows in Moscow in protest of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The rapper initially launched the Russians Against War concert in Istanbul, Turkey, in mid-March. Both charity shows were livestreamed on Twitch, YouTube and Instagram in the hope that people in Russia would watch and donate.

“It is times like these that remind me why I and many of us got into music and the power it holds”

Mike Malak, Oxxxymiron’s agent at Paradigm Talent, says: “It was vital to both myself and [Live Nation promoter James Ponnusamy] to put this show on and unify people against war and allow an incredible artist to use his platform. It is times like these that remind me why I and many of us got into music and the power it holds.

“To see so many people of different ages and backgrounds come together and raise an incredible amount of money for an important cause makes it all worth it. Combining the live experience with livestreaming meant we could not only raise money but also an awareness that this is a war nobody wants to see nor supports.”

Ponnusamy adds: “Nights like last Thursday are an incredible reminder of the strength of music and how it brings people together for the greater good. Thank you to ticket holders and the livestream audience who helped raise awareness and show their generosity and support. All donations received will help those in Ukraine impacted by the war.”

 


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Tech gives us the chance to create new paradigms

As the world begins to open up at a steady (or not so steady) pace, the questions around technology and how it will impact the live business when we are back in full swing remains.

That being said, the reason we are starting this monthly column is to keep you all informed and up to date as to the changes around technology that may very well become part and parcel of the live industry.

Change is real and although there may be some fatigue around livestreams, which dominated much of 2020, it is vital to remember that this technology in itself will become part of how we structure deals and open up new revenue streams for our artists. We must learn, adapt and look to the future. Nobody wants to be the next dinosaur.

Never before has it been so vital for an industry to get in the middle of this new opportunity – and indeed view it as an opportunity and not a hindrance. Agents and promoters worldwide have a chance to be part of something new, or face losing out.

We must learn, adapt and look to the future. Nobody wants to be the next dinosaur

On a personal level, I see us being at a crossroad and view the impact of technology in the live music industry as a way for us to better ourselves and our business.

The pandemic has been devastating to this sector, to put it lightly, and therefore technology, from livestreams to the new excitement around NFTs, gives us a chance to create new paradigms that I believe can help us give the live industry a cushion should such an event happen again.

This is why I feel so strongly and passionately about it all – we must protect and improve our ecosystem.

In order to make change, we need to do something that is unheard of in the music industry – all be on the same page, putting our individual egos to the side and focusing on how we can create these new models and put live front and centre in artist planning.

This column will look into specific market news on a monthly basis and analyse the impact it will have on our business whilst looking at both the pros and cons around each scenario and aim to problem solve.

[Tech] can help us give the live industry a cushion should such an event [like the pandemic] happen again

Live stream is probably not the term on everyone’s lips right now, but I am glad they are present. Not only have they been an opportunity for artists to have a creative output, but more importantly, as a whole, we have started to shift the conversation forwards when it comes to the public paying for artist content.

There should be no shame in artists charging for content that they put time and effort into in the future, as there is no issue in sports and other sectors that charge for content.

Therefore, with that in mind, the excitement will be working out how we can incorporate an element of livestreaming into our artist touring in the near future.

The live industry has been working on a largely copy/paste model for the last few decades, with artists touring Europe and hitting the “key cities” – but who said this was effective? What if your fans are spread out across a country? How do you reach everyone whilst also building your artists fanbase bigger and truly engaging fans? Geo-locking could be that way forward.

The excitement will be working out how we can incorporate an element of livestreaming into our artist touring

Imagine putting on a tour and playing your shows in the usual cities where you expect most traffic and sales but giving fans located in the nearby regions an opportunity to tune in to that show with their friends and family at home at a discounted rate and also allowing them to engage with the artist in some manner, whether through a pre-show element in the dressing room, Q&A sessions or chat rooms with other fans.

This opens the door to valuable revenue for artists of all levels through livestream ticketing income, exclusive merchandise income, tipping, brand deals, virtual meet and greets and more.

My concern is, that in conversations I sense people feel this would only apply to artists of a certain level, however, I strongly believe that this model will be key for new bands starting out, and those coming from territories such as North America and Australia into Europe for the first time.

As we all know, the pandemic means that most likely touring in the future will become more costly and thus any extra income your act can generate through a few t-shirt sales, live- stream access and so on will be valuable to their bottom line. It is our duty as those that defend artist careers to look at how we can both engage their audiences and increase the revenue streams.

 


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IQ 99 out now: NFT ticketing tech & more

IQ 99, the latest issue of the international live music industry’s favourite monthly magazine, is available to read online now.

In May’s edition, IQ examines the hype around nonfungible tokens and the exciting possibilities they can bring to ticketing, while news editor Jon Chapple discovers some of the ways that live entertainment can embrace sustainability in its return to action.

In comments and columns, the Australian Festivals Association’s Julia Robinson discusses how a lack of government-backed insurance could impact business confidence and Laura Davidson explains the driving force behind her new female-led live services consultancy, Amigas.

Following the inaugural edition of IPM Production Notes in IQ 98, tour manager Rebecca Travis reflects on 20 years on the road and one year off, while Mike Malak updates readers on the new technology impacting the music industry in Pulse.

Plus, enjoy the regular content you’ve come to expect from your monthly IQ Magazine, including news and new agency signings – the majority of which will appear online in some form in the next four weeks.

Whet your appetite with the preview below, but if you can’t wait for your fix of essential live music industry features, opinion and analysis, click here to subscribe now and receive IQ 99 in its entirety. Subscribers can log in and read the full magazine now.

 


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Mike Malak previews new ILMC session PULSE

ILMC this year features the launch of PULSE, an all-new conference and content platform focused on the intersection of technology and live entertainment.

PULSE is a collaboration between ILMC, Paradigm agent Mike Malak and digital entertainment expert Yvan Boudillet (TheLynk). Here, Malak previews the sessions that make up PULSE and outlines his expectations for the event.

 


What is the idea behind PULSE?
MM: During the pandemic, people have been doing a lot of live streams and I was really keen to dive deeply into that and see where it will take our business moving forward. We wanted to put together an event where we could look toward the future of live music, see where everything fits together and where it will take us.

Who can we expect to hear from during PULSE?
We’ve got a good mix of speakers both from the live stream space and also some younger forward-thinking people, whether on the label side or promoter side etc, so we can hear what they have to say and we can figure out how we can all work together. We’re also bringing in people from the e-sports and gaming sectors because they are the experts at monetising live streams and that kind of technology. We are aware that live music is behind all those sectors and we want to learn from those people, so I’ve no doubt they will provide us with some value.

We’re very lucky to have secured the likes of Justin Lubliner from Darkroom, Danny Rukasin and Brandon Goodman from Best Friends Music, Tommas Arnby from Locomotion, and Lesley Olenik from Live Nation to shape the discussions on the day, so I’m looking forward to a very informative and productive launch for PULSE.

“Livestreaming is still a work in progress, but I’m super excited about what it’s going to do for our business moving forward”

Why the focus on livestreaming, in particular?
Livestreaming is still a work in progress, but I’m super excited about what it’s going to do for our business moving forward. We all want to be back at real live shows, but I think this can really supplement artist income, especially new artists that have to budget really tightly to do a tour.

Livestreaming opens up different doors in terms of monetising things, and to get into the middle of content – which is basically a show – and create a whole separate experience while monetising it, is a huge opportunity. People are realising that live streams are a whole other asset, and monetising that can complement launching your tour or releasing your album while creating a special moment for fans that they can engage with, whether we’re in a pandemic or not.

“We will look at virtual venues and how fans interact with them, giving them a completely different experience”

From an agent’s perspective, what benefits does livestreaming bring you?
As much data as possible is always going to help us with our educated guesses about where we can go and what we can do on a tour. The world is a big place, and beyond all the traditional key cities where we go on tour, this can open other doors to understanding where some of those fanbases might actually be.

There’s a session about the “new fan experience”; what can we expect from that?
The new fan experience is figuring out how you can create a special moment for fans at home and make that a meaningful experience. So we will look at virtual venues and how fans interact with them, giving them a completely different experience that has nothing to do with a real live show.

“We’ll investigate the interesting ways that artists are interacting with the online viewers for more of a connection”

And on the other hand, we’ll investigate the interesting ways that artists are interacting with the online viewers so it feels like there is a bit more of a connection. Some artists have made content where they pop-up on screen while their fans are watching their show, for instance, but there are lots of different tactics that you can use to really embrace the audience, make them feel like they are part of the show and they are connecting with the artists in a different way.

A brand new American act might go to Paris, for example, but what if they have five fans in Lyon and five in Marseille? It might not sound like a lot, but if they buy a ticket for the live stream and they also buy a bit of merch and you give them a way to feel like they are experiencing the show, even if it’s cheaper, that’s going to help that new artist’s budget quite a lot. If you do that throughout Europe, it adds up.

“Livestreaming is an issue that concerns all of us… we’re all trying to figure out how it works and how we all fit in together”

Who do you think will be most interested in the PULSE sessions?
I hope, based on the amazing speakers that we have from the different sectors of the industry, that PULSE will attract a good spread of people. It’s an issue in our industry that concerns all of us, because we’re all trying to figure out how it works and how we all fit in together – where does the label and publisher fit in alongside the PRS? These are all things to be clarified and discussed together.

I hope people also tune in for the New Technology Pitch sessions because, as a lot of us know, there are a million streaming companies reaching out to all of us, all of the time, so it will be good to get an understanding of what is important, what’s key and what to look for when we’re figuring out who is doing it right.

PULSE will take place on 3 March featuring sessions including New Technology Pitches; Sweet Streams – Best in Class; The Livestreamers Guide to Live Music; The New Fan Experience; The Business of Live Tech. Register for ILMC 33 here.

 


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New year, new hope: IQ 96 is out now

IQ 96, the latest issue of the international live music industry’s favourite monthly magazine, is available to read online now.

February’s IQ Magazine details the unique 2021 edition of the International Live Music Conference (ILMC) and offers an exclusive preview of new session Pulse with agent Mike Malak.

Elsewhere, IQ editor Gordon Masson finds out New Zealand’s industry is coping in its post-pandemic bubble, and talks to some of Europe’s biggest venues to find out how they plan to get back up and running, as the European Arenas Association turns 30.

This issue also hears from Crosstown Concerts director Conal Dodds, who details his firm’s creation of a new live-streaming operation, and Nue Agency chief Jesse Kirshbaum, who extols gaming’s ability to introduce artists to new audiences and accelerate career development.

And if you’re curious to know what Rob Challice (Paradigm), Claudio Trotta (Barley Arts), Alan Day (Kilimanjaro Live) and other industry pros are looking forward to most when life gets back to normal, you’ll find the answers in Your Shout.

All that is in addition to all the regular content you’ve come to expect from your monthly IQ Magazine, including news analysis and new agency signings, the majority of which will appear online in some form in the next four weeks.

Whet your appetite with the preview below, but if you can’t wait for your fix of essential live music industry features, opinion and analysis, click here to subscribe now and receive IQ 96 in full.

 


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ILMC launches tech platform PULSE

In collaboration with senior booking agent Mike Malak (Paradigm) and digital entertainment expert Yvan Boudillet (TheLynk), the International Live Music Conference (ILMC) has launched a new industry platform to sit at the intersection of technology and live events.

The first PULSE event will take place within this year’s ILMC on 3 March, comprising a full day of discussion and debate with leading figures from both industries. Companies already confirmed to be taking part include Driift, Moment House, MelodyVR, Maestro, Sansar, Live Nation, The Darkroom, LiveFrom Events and Locomotion.

Beyond its first edition, the PULSE team explain that they expect to host conversations at other events, virtual summits and develop an independent media presence. “Live music and technology are increasingly converging as a partnership, and PULSE will focus on that relationship,” says Malak. “Nothing will ever replace live shows, but the tech space is abundant with both opportunities and pitfalls, and PULSE gives us that platform to discuss as an industry; to remain open minded and informed about the future.”

Topics already slated for the PULSE day at ILMC include The New Fan Experience, considering fan engagement in the plethora of new virtual performance spaces online, with Danny Rukasin and Brandon Goodman (Best Friends Music), Sheri Bryant (Sansar), Ric Salmon (Driift) and Tommas Arnby (Locomotion).

“What’s exciting about PULSE is that it’s a fluid, transportable format”

Pitch sessions, a spiritual successor to ILMC’s popular New Technology panel, see the best new tech and innovation queued up to present with host and longtime tech evangelist Steve Machin (LiveFrom), while The Business of Live Tech looks at emerging business models and new deals around tech and music, with Cheryl Paglierani (United Talent Agency), Justin Lubliner (The Darkroom), Lesley Olenik (Live Nation) and Steven Hancock (MelodyVR).

Sweet Streams: Best in Class invites the leaders in the livestreaming space to share best practice and insight, with Sara Bollwinkel (Paradigm) and Natasha Bent (Mother Agency), and The Livestreamers’ Guide to Live Music collects a line-up of gamers, streamers and platform heads, including Trivium guitarist and vocalist Matt Heafy, to tell the live sector what’s in store.

“What’s exciting about PULSE is that – just like the fast-evolving technology that it’s obsessed with – it’s a fluid, transportable format,” says Boudillet. “As ILMC is the live music industry’s most prestigious annual event, it made sense to launch PULSE there in March, but we’re excited to see where it goes next.”

Early session details for the first edition of PULSE are available here.

 


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How to stay ahead of the curve

It’s time to forget what you know – or risk getting left behind.

Now that I have your attention, let me explain that statement.

We will absolutely get the live business back on track, but it goes without saying that it will be a process to get there. With that, those that do not understand and embrace the role technology will play will inevitably become the new dinosaurs of our business – and nobody wants that title.

Technology in music was always gaining prominence. However, this global pandemic has simply sped up the process and forced us to rethink how we are to use it in its entirety. Just like how Napster backed the recorded music industry into a corner in the early 2000s and subsequently birthed iTunes and streaming, we are essentially going through our own moment in history that will be just as monumental for our business. This is an incredibly exciting time for the live industry – if we embrace the change.

The technology we have been using is not a ‘temporary solution’ while we are at home. Livestreaming, gaming platforms, virtual events and a more strategic approach to content is part of how we can rebuild the live industry to be more resilient. It also allows us to create strong revenue streams supporting the foundations of our business and allowing us to survive a future global crisis more efficiently.

It is vital we educate our audiences and be comfortable with exploring new processes as we work towards moving the needle. The aim is to create a new model whereby consumers are willing to pay for music content. Along with that, the existing culture and the attitudes of fans needs to adapt.

It’s time for us to hack the tech out there and make it work in our favour

We have understood how losing a year of business in live music has affected so many of us in these unprecedented times. From venues and festivals struggling to artist revenue decreasing, and thus having an adverse effect on managers, agents and promoters. And not forgetting – and most importantly – our incredible touring crews, who work so hard, day in and day out, on the road, away from their families, and are now suddenly unable to provide. I truly believe that technology can help change this.

We cannot be scared of failing. Jimmy Iovine once said: “Turn fear into a tailwind.” This is a scary time, but you and only you can decide how you move forward. I urge you to innovate and embrace a willingness to learn.

I myself have been trying a variety of things, from delving into TikTok and discovering their live feature to launching #ZoomFest with partners Ronnie Madra, Richie Akiva and Mike Jurkova, hacking at Zoom’s technology and original intent to bring artists and brands closer together for a unique experience that fans can re-stream in its entirety after the show.

Understanding how each tech platform works will be as important to us as agents and promoters as knowing how to cut a deal. Technology moving forward is part of the deal.

It is also our responsibility that we as a live business do not let tech companies dictate our every move. Let’s get behind these businesses and platforms to work closer than ever and to let our voices be heard. By working with them, we can ensure the best options are being created for our artists instead of it being an afterthought. If you wait for technology to fix your problems, it is going to overtake you. Get ahead instead.

Please remember we are not on pause permanently and change is a part of life, whether you like it or not. Technology is going to constantly evolve, so we know change is coming, while artists’ attitudes will continue to grow in terms of what they expect or how they want to run their business. That is a fact. We are only at the beginning – it hasn’t even started yet.

We are not on pause permanently – and change is a part of life, whether you like it or not

As an entire music industry, we will see much change in the rest of our careers everywhere, from streaming to how record deals are done to how audiences and artists want to experience music. Side note: if Joe Rogan can get a $100 million deal in place with Spotify for his podcast, you now things are about to get very interesting.

We need to learn and understand that the comfort zones we have been in for years in this industry stop now, and if we want to have the privilege of working with incredible artists we need to go back to the drawing board with an open mind.

My hope is that this article serves as a springboard and wake-up call to anybody who reads it. Start today and experiment and discuss. What could work well for your artist or festival? What does each platform do? How can content be monetised and add value to the audience? Where and how to brands fit in this equation?

In the spirit of us all working together as an industry and looking forward to a boom in the live industry, I have shared some examples for everyone to dive in, as well as a list of useful platforms and streams to check out to help you get started with this process.

Time for us to hack the tech out there and make it work in our favour. This will be our legacy.

 


Examples

Some things I have seen over the recent months that have worked well:

Yungblud: I highly recommend you check out his online TV show if you haven’t already and take note of the platform, the comments and the overall engagement. This artist is doing a great job leading the front during this time and authentically connecting with his audience.

Travis Scott x Fortnite: This incredible experience is one to check out.

Post Malone x Nirvana: I personally loved this stream because it was accessible to all and the songs of Nirvana are familiar to all of us. The editing was also on point.

Lewis Capaldi x Dice: Lewis did a great acoustic show via Dice which resulted in sales that could easily fill an arena, and proved the model of paying for content with his audience.

 

Tech guide

A guide of what is on offer to get you started in a constantly evolving world.

Beyond the basics – YouTube Live, Facebook Live and Instagram Live – I recommend checking out:

Looped

What it is: A livestreaming and virtual meet-and-greet platform.
Advantages: It is the only platform to effectively run live streams and virtual meet-and-greets in a flexible manner, allowing you to capitalise on VIP.
Where to find it: loopedlive.com

 

Dice

What it is: The leading digital ticketing platform, with the recently launched Dice TV.
Advantages: Strong database and direct relationships with venues and festivals.
Where to find it: dice.fm/tv

 

Sansar

What it is: An immersive virtual environment available to access for free.
Advantages: You can literally create your own venue, branded event and concert within Sansar and charge for tickets, merch and more to generate income. An incredible platform to delve into. Recommend you check out what they are doing with Shangri-La at Glastonbury this year.
Where to find it: sansar.com

 

Fortnite

What it is: An online video game available to download for free.
Advantages: This really applies to a particular audience and can be very powerful, as we have seen from the performances of Marshmello, Travis Scott and more.
Where to find it: fortnite.com

 

Veeps

What it is: Enables you to ticket your livestreams.
Advantages: Great livestreaming platform from the US.
Where to find it: veeps.com

 

Moment House

What it is: Jimmy Iovine-backed ticketed livestreaming platform.
Advantages: Early days but I am loving the lay-out of the stream with chat boxes.
Where to find it: momenthouse.com

 

StageIt

What it is: Another livestreaming platform enabling you to ticket your livestream.
Advantages: No performance is recorded or archived so all you see is live.
Where to find it: stageit.com

 

Seated

What it is: A ticketing experience through text message.
Advantages: Follow your favourite artists’ profiles and get alerts via text when they announce a show near you.
Where to find it: seated.com

 

Twitch

What it is: A live streaming service popular with gamers, but everyone is on it now. Owned by Amazon.
Advantages: Huge audiences on Twitch so engagement can be high with the right event.
Where to find it: twitch.tv

 

TikTok Live

What is it: TikTok is an incredible social media app based on video.
Advantages: Two main advantages in my opinion are firstly that the algorithm works in your favour, meaning content is more likely to be seen, and secondly you can go live. Music is also a key component of TikTok.
Where to find it: tiktok.com

 


Read part two of this three-part series, which focuses on the opportunities and positives for the live industry presented by the coronavirus, here.

Embracing the new normal: Now what?


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‘The future is bright’: Tech leaders talk monetising virtual shows

The heads of some of the industry’s most inventive companies starred in the most recent IQ Focus panel, appropriately called The Innovators, which discussed the flurry of innovation going on behind the scenes during the ongoing halt in concert touring.

Dice’s UK managing director, Amy Oldham, began by speaking on the importance of “identifying the value” in new platforms and innovations. “In the beginning [of the pandemic], there was a lot of noise and a lot of not-very-good-quality shows,” she explained.

“Lewis [Capaldi] is a great example” of what the industry should be working towards, she added. “We did his show exclusively a few weeks ago. He did an acoustic set of the first album, and it actually felt like being on a night out – you had people taking photos of themselves hugging the TV saying it’s the best £5 they ever spent.”

Tommas Arnby of Locomotion Entertainment said his client, Yungblud – whose Yungblud Show Live (described as a “rock-and-roll version of Jimmy Kimmel”) was one of the early highlights of the livestreaming boom – was supposed to be “doing five sold-out Kentish Town Forums” in London this week, and his online presence is “about how to recreate that” live experience.

“In the very beginning these bedroom and kitchen performances played an important role,” but now people expect a more polished experience, said Ben Samuels, MelodyVR’s president and GM in North America. “What we’re doing is investing a lot to ensure these shows look and feel fantastic. […] They should be the best thing to actually being on stage or in the front row of a real show. So production values have been crucial to us.”

“Artists have to feel comfortable and confident about charging for their content”

Sheri Bryant, president of online ‘social VR’ platform Sansar, said a virtual concert should be looked as “additive; it’s not going to replace the live performance”.

Oldham – who revealed that Dice is now selling tickets in at least 113 countries following the launch of its livestreaming platform, Dice TV – agreed that while everyone on the panel is doing a great job keeping fans engaged while touring is on hold, “one thing we haven’t nailed is giving artists confidence that just because they’re doing something on a stream doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be charging.

“All the movie studios are shut, and yet we don’t see them dropping films online and saying, ‘Just pay what you fancy!’ Artists have to feel comfortable and confident about charging for their content.”

Chair Mike Malak, from Paradigm Talent Agency, compared charging for online video content to the transition in the recording business from fans pirating music to (legally) streaming it, noting that “we all grew up watching free YouTube videos”.

Bryant said Sansar wants “everyone to be able to experience” the platform, suggesting offering both a free tier and a “VIP experience” that could include perks for those who’ve paid, such as meet and greets with an artist or special powers inside its virtual world.

“The most important thing for us is to show agents and managers that people had a great time,” said Prajit Gopal, CEO of livestreaming platform Looped. “That’s always been really important – going back to them and showing them,‘Here’s the reaction, and this is why you should be charging for it.’”

“Imagine if this happened 20, 30, 40 years ago – it would have been catastrophic”

With talk turning to sponsorship in virtual events, Oldham warned that “sometimes you can oversaturate an artist by doing too many partnerships”. However, Bryant said the music industry has much to learn from the wider entertainment business when it comes to getting its talent out there.

“Look at how the YouTube stars, the Twitch streamers got big: through hard work and with lots of exposure,” she said. “If you’re good and you’re getting out there, you’ll see that growth. I don’t think people should be precious about exposure – you want to be across as many platforms as possible, because you never know when one of them will see a big spike [in traffic].”

The discussion ended on a positive note, with Samuels highlighting how fortunate the live music business is to have all this technology at its disposal at such a difficult time.

“Imagine if this [coronavirus] happened 20, 30, 40 years ago – it would have been catastrophic,” he said. “In a weird way, we’re lucky this happened now, with all these platforms that can continue to bring high-quality content to fans and enable artists to still make a living.”

Arnby agreed: “All these choices, all these ways to connect… The future is very bright.”

The Innovation Session is available to watch back on YouTube or Facebook now.


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Innovators take the virtual stage for IQ Focus panel

Following last week’s The Venue’s Venue: Building Back session, IQ’s popular Focus series of virtual panels turns this Thursday to the flurry of innovation going on behind the scenes during the halt in concert touring.

The Innovation Session will feature insights from a who’s who of music-industry freethinkers and groundbreakers, who’ll discuss with the new ideas and green shoots that are rising from the current situation.

Joining chair Mike Malak, senior agent at Paradigm London, are Sheri Bryant, president of virtual world builder Sansar; Tommas Arnby, CEO of Locomotion Entertainment (Yungblud); Amy Oldham, managing director UK of ticketer-turned-livestreamer Dice; Ben Samuels, North America president of virtual-reality pioneer MelodyVR; and Prajit Gopal, CEO of celebrity video-chat/streaming service Looped.

Expect discussions on livestreaming, 3D venues, tipping, videogaming, virtual worlds and much more.

The Innovation Session will be streamed live this Thursday, 21 May, at 16.00 BST/17.00 CET.

Get an automatic reminder when the live stream starts at Facebook or YouTube.


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