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MJR’s Mike Jones launches Europa Concerts

Mike Jones, co-founder of UK promoter TEG MJR, has launched a new touring business, Europa Concerts, after leaving MJR earlier this month.

Jones co-founded the then-MJR Group, which was acquired by Australia’s TEG last year, alongside Richard Buck in 2012, growing the company internationally throughout the decade and promoting shows in mainland Europe, the Middle East, South Africa and south-east Asia.

Based in south-west England, Europa sees Jones working alongside a “handful of ex-colleagues and friends”, he tells IQ, as well as all the artists he has worked with in the long term. The company announced its first UK shows – with Hawkwind, Midge Ure, the Dualers and the House & Garage Orchestra – earlier this week, with more announcements planned for the run-up to Christmas.

“Longer term, I’ll resume promoting in mainland Europe, Australia and New Zealand and the Middle East”

“Longer term, I’ll resume promoting in mainland Europe, Australia and New Zealand, the Middle East, etc.,” he continues, “as I have partners in place for most regions, but I think that’s 18 months away from really moving.”

While the UK shows announced so far “run circa 1,200-capacity per show”, Jones says Europa Concerts is booking shows at 100% capacity for 2022–23, from clubs through to theatres and arenas. “I think next year is going to be very messy, and I’m actively encouraging my artists and promoters to look a bit further down the line,” he adds.

Jones, an IQ New Boss in 2018, says his exit from TEG MJR was “all on very good terms”, and came down to “different views on strategies” with the new management. “There was no falling out,” he explains. “I just didn’t feel like I had the ability to move quick enough, and adapt to changes in the market, [so] I had to make a change.”

Looking ahead, Jones says he’s actively looking for new projects in live music, comedy, podcasts, and family and children’s events in particular. He can be reached at mike[at]europaconcerts.com.

 


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TEG MJR unveils refurbed Leeds Warehouse

Building on a legacy that includes past performances by U2, Oasis, the Stone Roses and Soft Cell, famed Leeds, UK, venue the Warehouse is returning to its live music roots, with a busy concert programme planned after it reopens later this month.

Celebrating the 40th anniversary since its opening in 2020, the new-look Warehouse benefits from a £250,000 investment into its production infrastructure, and now boasts three rooms with a capacity of 600 for live music and 1,100 for DJ-led events.

Curated by TEG MJR, the 2020 live music programme will showcase a varied mix of touring artists and local musicians, says the former MJR Group, which  took over programming duties for the Warehouse last year, just prior to its takeover by Australia’s TEG.

The relaunch weekend will kick off with a show by singer-songwriter Badly Drawn Boy on 23 January, followed by two sold out performances from Terrorvision on 7 and 18 February.

“2020 is going to be an exciting year for Leeds”

Dan Ickowitz-Seidler, chief operating officer of TEG MJR, comments: “Live music is a huge driving force in any big city and we wanted the Warehouse to showcase a real plethora of events.

“The venue was built on live music, and what better way to celebrate 40 years of The Warehouse than bringing back its roots?

“We’re looking forward to welcoming a credible selection of performers and club nights and continuing to work closely with local promoters. Twenty-twenty is going to be an exciting year for Leeds.”

For a full list of upcoming shows, visit theleedswarehouse.com.

 


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Silver Lake eyes up potential TEG buy

US private-equity firm Silver Lake Partners is in talks to buy Australian live entertainment powerhouse TEG, according to a report by the Australian Financial Review.

Reports suggest that the California-based buyout specialist is in “late-stage talks” with TEG’s owner Affinity Equity and senior management team, led by CEO Geoff Jones, in a deal expected to surpass AUS$1 billion (US$675 million).

Silver Lake has over $43 billion in combined assets across a portfolio of tech-related businesses such as Alibaba, AMC, Dell Technologie and Tesla. The firm also has stakes in various live entertainment-related enterprises, including in WME parent company Endeavor, the Madison Square Garden Company, UFC and Oak View Group (OVG).

The firm is the not the first potential buyer to register interest in TEG over the past few years. In 2016, CTS Eventim and Chinese conglomerates Fosun and Wanda Group made up a trio of potential buyers in the running to acquire TEG.

Silver Lake has stakes in various live entertainment-related enterprises

TEG, the parent company of one of Australia’s “big two” ticketing companies, Ticketek, made moves into the European market earlier this year, acquiring UK-based promoter the MJR Group.

The company also owns self-service ticketing platform Eventopia, promotion business TEG Live, concert promoter TEG Dainty – formerly Dainty Group –, data firm TEG Analytics and the AEG-Ogden-operated the Qudos Bank Arena (21,000-cap.) in Sydney.

TEG launched a new live family entertainment division, TEG Experiences, earlier this month.

IQ has contacted TEG for comment.

 


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Australia’s TEG acquires UK’s the MJR Group

Australasian live entertainment powerhouse TEG has acquired the MJR Group, the UK-based promoter and venue operator, the companies announced early 26 August Australian time (9pm BST).

The MJR Group promotes more than 2,000 shows a year and owns and operates multiple venues in the UK, including the Tramshed in Cardiff and the Mill in Birmingham (both 1,000-cap.), as well as recently acquired club-night brand Propaganda.

The company also has an international touring division, MJR Presents, which operates out of Sydney and Port Macquarie in Australia and London and Bristol in the UK. It is is promoting the forthcoming ’90s nostalgia tour Bring That Beat Back, featuring Flavor Flav, Bobby Brown and Blu Cantrell, in Australia and New Zealand. MJR operates out of Sydney and Port Macquarie in Australia and London and Bristol in the UK, and has also organised and promoted tours across Dubai, South Africa, Japan and China.

TEG, meanwhile, organises more than 200 events a year through its owned promoters, TEG Dainty and TEG Live, and issues more than 28 million tickets annually with Ticketek (one of the ‘big two’ Australian ticket sellers, according to the ITY, the other being Ticketmaster). An Asian division, based in Singapore, brings together affiliated ticketing operations in Malaysia, Hong Kong, Macau and the Philippines.

The MJR Group’s operations will be incorporated into TEG’s global offering, with the MJR Group’s UK operations to be renamed TEG UK.

Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed, though IQ understands the purchase price to be an eight-figure sum.

According to TEG CEO Geoff Jones, the acquisition of MJR gives TEG “a strong presence in the vibrant UK and European markets, and demonstrates its focus and commitment to the international expansion of its pioneering integrated live entertainment model”.

“The MJR Group is a great fit for TEG”

“TEG is already Asia-Pacific’s leading ticketing, live entertainment and technology business, and this acquisition marks a significant step towards TEG becoming a global live entertainment powerhouse,” he comments.

“The MJR Group is a great fit for TEG. It has strong management talent and a clever live entertainment model to which TEG can add ticketing, analytics and digital capability. The MJR Group also brings significant additions to our venue portfolio.”

The MJR Group’s three partners, Richard Buck (group CEO and head of UK), Dan Ickowitz-Seidler (head of UK venues and Propaganda) and Scott Mesiti (head of Australia and New Zealand), will remain with the TEG group.

“We are very excited by this venture and the enhanced business opportunities brought by TEG,” says Buck. “We’ve worked hard to scale the business over the last five years and this next step in our evolution will further strengthen our position in the market.

“Both companies are digitally focused and this synergy allows both parties even more leverage by combining each other’s tech expertise and insights to best connect with live entertainment fans.”

“The MJR Group has built a great reputation and lasting relationships in the UK, Australia and elsewhere, and I am thrilled to welcome Richard, Dan and Scott to the TEG family,” adds Jones.

 


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Club night Propaganda joins the MJR Group

The MJR Group, the UK-based event promoter and venue operator, is to merge with Propaganda, integrating the leading club-night brand into the group with immediate effect.

Propaganda is the UK’s biggest weekly club night, with fifteen weekly events across the country, and has also promoted events in the US, Australia, Brazil and Ibiza. Every week, around 15,000 people attend Propaganda events across the globe.

“I am delighted to bring Propaganda on board, having worked in close partnership for several years,” says the MJR Group’s founder and CEO, Richard Buck. “Propaganda is highly regarded for its club-night offerings and leads the way in its digital engagement with clubgoers.

“Our common values and vision were recognised from day one, and it was only a matter of time before we made the commitment to join forces.”

“it was only a matter of time before we made the commitment to join forces”

The addition adds to Bristol-based MJR’s non-concert portfolio, following the recent acquisition of theatre producer Imagine This.

As part of the deal, Dan Ickowitz-Seidler, founder of Propaganda, becomes chief operating officer of the MJR Group, tasked with expanding both MJR’s venue portfolio and the Propaganda brand.

He comments: “I am thrilled for Propaganda to be joining the MJR Group. Having worked alongside the company with our jointly owned venues for several years, I am really looking forward to becoming the MJR Group’s COO and working closer with Richard to help continue the group’s fantastic growth trajectory.

“There are also some great opportunities to continue growing Propaganda in the UK and abroad to continue as one of the most recognised indie music brands.”

 


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The MJR Group announces three new venues

The MJR Group, the UK-based promoter and venue operator/owner, has added two new clubs to its venue portfolio, as well as announced plans for a third.

The Bristol-based company has partnered with the Warehouse (600-cap.) in Leeds and Switch (1,500-cap.) in Southampton to develop and deliver their respective live events programmes and operations. Full plans for a new venue in central Birmingham, meanwhile, will be announced soon.

The Warehouse is set to celebrate its 40th anniversary this year, making it one of the oldest venues in Leeds (the building itself being nearly 200 years old). The MJR Group says it will bring live music back to the fore, building on a legacy that includes performances by U2, Oasis, Soft Cell, the Stone Roses and Pulp.

The company  will invest in production infrastructure, with plans for new staging, audio and lighting systems suitable for both touring artists and nightclub events.

Switch, a former cinema, has welcomed a string of international club and party artists, hosting the likes of DJ EZ, Paul Woolford, Andy C and, more recently, Stormzy.

“We are delighted to add these three fantastic venues as part of the strategic expansion of our live music portfolio”

It is also getting a make-over with a view to reintroducing live music events, with new staging, lighting and screens throughout.  Elswhere, an internal redesign will turn the club through 180°, adding a new VIP area, booths and making the balcony a new asset overlooking the whole venue.

Richard Buck, owner and founder of the MJR Group, comments: “We are delighted to add these three fantastic venues as part of the strategic expansion of our live music portfolio. The Warehouse will be a 600-capacity live music venue and attempt to fill the massive void left by the Cockpit’s closure a few years back.

“We are equally as excited about plans to introduce a live music programme to Switch, which will give bands a natural progression to grow audiences when they outgrow our other Southampton venue, the Engine Rooms.”

The MJR Group’s other UK venues include Tramshed (1,000-cap.) and the Globe (350-cap.) in Cardiff, the Mill (1,000-cap.) and Digbeth Arena (3,500-cap.) in Birmingham, Sub 89 (600-cap.) in Reading and Plug (1,600-cap.) in Sheffield.

 


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MJR Group expands touring portfolio

UK promoter and venue manager MJR Group has acquired theatre production company Imagine This and secured a partnership to promote Marvel’s Avenger Station, an interactive superhero exhibition.

The promoter completed the acquisition of Imagine This in June, having bought a stake in the company earlier this year.

Imagine This produces touring show Rip It Up, which consists of three decade-based versions. MJR promoted the 60s edition for a four-month run at London West End’s Garrick Theatre this year, selling over 150,000 tickets.

The show starred McFly’s Harry Judd, JLS’ Aston Merrygold and the Wanted’s Jay McGuinness, as well as Olympic gymnast Louis Smith. The 70s version is set to tour the UK from September 2019.

The MJR Group is also entering into a partnership with production company Victory Hill, to produce and promote Marvel’s Avengers Station.

“Bringing Imagine This into the MJR Group and promoting Avengers Station further strengthens our position as a multi-faceted live entertainment provider”

Following a six-month residency at London convention centre Excel, the immersive exhibition is now on display at the St David’s centre in Cardiff, which opened on 22 June.

In addition, MJR has announced it is introducing two new live music venues to the UK market later this year.

“Bringing Imagine This into The MJR Group and promoting Marvel’s Avengers Station further strengthens our position as a multi-faceted live entertainment provider,” says MJR Group founder and owner Richard Buck.

“Imagine This opens up the West End and theatre production market for the Group. The “Rip It Up” brand has been incredibly successful and with further products in the pipeline, both domestically and internationally, we expect a very exciting period of growth for MJR.”

The MJR Group promotes thousands of concerts in the UK annually, and many more overseas, chiefly in Australia and New Zealand.

 


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The New Bosses 2018: Mike Jones, MJR Group

The New Bosses 2018 – the latest edition of IQ’s annual list of future live business leaders – received a rapturous industry response following its publication in IQ 78, with friends and colleagues of the winning ten agents, promoters and other rising stars rushing to congratulate the class of 2018.

In putting together the list, 2018’s New Bosses gave IQ lengthy interviews spotlighting their careers so far, as well as insights into their working methods and tips for those hoping to follow in their footsteps. While these were (owing to the limitations of a print magazine) edited heavily, they’ll be reproduced in full online and on IQ Index over the coming weeks.

Next up is 29-year-old Mike Jones, co-founder/promoter at the UK’s the MJR Group. Jones has been promoting shows since the age of 12 – primarily, he says, because his friends’ bands were terrible and nobody else would book them. Aged 14, he began promoting American and European touring acts and then ran TJ’s venue in his home town of Newport, before setting up a chain of live venues with the Intertain Group, which led to establishing MJR with fellow promoter, Rich Buck. (Read the previous interview, with ICM Partners’ Kevin Jergenson, here.)

 


What are you working on at the moment?
A complete mixed bag, same as always. We’ve just started to announce the outdoor Summer Series at Domain Park in Sydney, the first announce being a huge motown, disco and soul bill headlined by the Jacksons, with Kool and the Gang, Sister Sledge and lots more.

Elsewhere, we’ve got the 50 Cent UK and European tour coming up in a few weeks, which is doing fantastic business, along with some new venues opening in Birmingham, back in the UK, which I’m very excited about. As we get a bit closer to the end of the calendar year we’ll also have a variety of multi-continent and multi-year projects go live too.

Who was your industry mentor?
John Sicolo, who owned TJ’s, was a big part of my life. He unfortunately passed away a few years ago, but he’s the person who gave me my first real chance and made me believe in myself. So, aged 16, I took on the diary for a really legendary space with lots of history but lots of challenges too – there were no resources or staff, so if you wanted something done you did it yourself.

John wasn’t a promoter by any means, but I learnt a lot being around him and in the venue so often. I later found out that if you ran the diary in that venue you were also the toilet cleaner, the security and the barrel changer at the same time, so that helped to keep me grounded and instilled a hard work ethic in me, too.

As a New Boss, how would you improve the way the business is done?
I’d like to see us have a more open attitude to young, talented people who want to start a career in the industry. We should want the very brightest and best working with us, and that applies to the people working behind the scenes as much as the people up on the stage. If we aren’t willing to give them a chance they’ll just end up in finance or, worse still, politics.

If you had to choose one highlight from your career so far, what would it be?
Sia at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland was quite special – that was our first major stadium show, and it felt like a of a turning point of sorts. The fact that Auckland is the furthest possible city from where we started is strangely ironic, too. Outside of that, working with Steel Panther has been an absolute blast – we’ve all become friends and most important of all they’re a band I can share haircare tips with too. There aren’t many of those around anymore.

Where is the most exciting place your work has taken you?
All the usual spots – the Middle East is great fun, as is Australia, where I particularly love Melbourne. It’s a terrible cliché but the real excitement is about what’s going to come next, though: the world’s a small place and we plan on developing our business throughout most of it.

“If we aren’t willing to give young people a chance they’ll just end up in finance – or, worse still, politics”

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt while at MJR?
To take really good care of your team, and to empower them to get out there and try things. If they do make a mistake, that’s fine – it’s part of the learning process, and problem-solving is an important skill in this line of work, to put it mildly. It’s very easy to get caught up with conversations on new bookings and all of that exciting stuff, but day to day there’s a large group of people putting their absolute trust and faith in you, and you need to show the same back to them, too.

What advice would you give anyone who wants to get into the live music business?
Decide early on what specific sector of the industry you’d like to work in, and concentrate solely on doing your absolute best in that role. If there’s not an opening with an existing company then get out and make your own. Be prepared to work harder than anyone else, and be prepared to make sacrifices in your personal life, too.

A lot of young people coming through try to be all-rounders, which will get you up to a point – but really we’re an industry of specialists and the sooner you figure out what you’re going to specialise in, the better.

MJR is a very ambitious company. Are there any sectors of territories you’re targeting to help with company growth?
We’re moving into live comedy in a big way now. Some of our existing comedy acts are already doing 10,000 tickets in London, but it’s a genre that we’ll be doing a lot more with in the future.

We’re also doing more and more live touring projects with IPs in the worlds of movies, TV, video games, podcasts, etc., too. Geographically we already have shows on sale in most parts of the world, but, again, that’ll increase quite dramatically going into 2019 and beyond. Eastern Europe, Asia, and South Africa in particular are going to become really important for us. We won’t expand for the sake of it, but if something comes in and makes sense then we’ll commit and make it happen.

What do you do in your spare time to relax?
Spend time with my beautiful children, Rafael and Santiago, who I love very much and drive me to do my absolute best in life.

 


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Birmingham venue The Mill to open this month

MJR Group’s newest project, the 1,000-capacity multi-purpose venue The Mill, will open later this month on 28 September in Birmingham, UK. The new venue will be the second opening in the area for the promoter/venue operator, which last month reopened the former Rainbow Arena under its new Digbeth Arena alias.

Located against the area’s Victorian railway arches, the former warehouse space plays host to two rooms, a split mezzanine level and a rooftop garden. The opening represents a £500,000 investment from MJR, who have undertaken “extensive renovations [to the building] designed to deliver the best experience possible.”

The Mill’s upcoming event programme features acts including Gentleman’s Dub Club, Napalm Death and shows curated by promoters including Cirque du Soul and Shadow City, showcasing the venue’s capability as both a live music venue and a nightclub. An upcoming performance by Mogwai on 23 November has already sold out completely.

“We have carefully created an events programme that will attract concert goers from all over the country, and we’re proud to host them in Digbeth”

Speaking about the upcoming launch of The Mill, Benjamin Newby, operations director at MJR, says, “We have carefully created an events programme that will attract concert goers from all over the country, and we’re proud to host them in Digbeth, one of the most vibrant creative quarters in the UK.

“Following our launch of Digbeth Arena back in May, we’re really excited to further contribute to this eclectic community and the city of Birmingham, when we open our doors later this month.”

Full line up information can be found on The Mill’s website. Further information on the venue’s nightlife programme will be released in the coming weeks.

 


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Eventbrite partners with the MJR Group

Eventbrite has signed a multi-year ticketing partnership with independent UK promoter and venue operator the MJR Group.

The agreement with the MJR Group – which follows the ticketing/event technology giant’s recent tie-up with Spain’s Elrow – commenced with MJR’s recent shows in Australia with 50 Cent (pictured), where Eventbrite’s platform was used to sell more than 25,000 tickets for two dates.

Eventbrite will now power the MJR Group’s portfolio of future touring events and productions, as well as its portfolio of UK venues.

Richard Buck, founder and owner of the MJR Group, comments: “With lots of innovative projects planned over the next years, a ticketing partnership with Eventbrite felt the right move to support our growth. They completely understand our independent ethos and can provide us with a constantly evolving tech platform that suits our needs and helps deliver our expansion as a leading global entertainment company.”

“This partnership with Richard and MJR Group is a direct result of Eventbrite’s continued dedication to the independent live music space”

Paul Everett, head of music at Eventbrite UK, adds: “This partnership with Richard and MJR Group is a direct result of Eventbrite’s continued dedication to the independent live music space. MJR are a highly ambitious company and we are aligned on how we view the future of the live music space around the world.

“We’ve talked to a lot of independent promoters and venue operators all over the globe to find out what they need, and have created solutions for that. It is rewarding that this dedication is now paying off, having earned the trust of one of the UK’s largest independent music promoters.”

MJR recently hired booker Baris Basaran to head up its growth in central and eastern Europe, following a period of expansion first into Australia and New Zealand, and then the Middle East, Asia and South Africa.

San Francisco-headquartered Eventbrite, which has processed £7 billion in gross ticket sales its inception in 2006, is active in 180 countries and territories.

 


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