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Q&A: Move Concerts boss details LatAm’s recovery

As markets across Latin America gradually reopen, Phil Rodriguez of Move Concerts – the biggest independent concert promoter in the region – says he’s optimistic about the region’s recovery.

Emerging from the most difficult year in live music history, Rodriguez expects the industry to come out of the Covid-19 pandemic “stronger and wiser”.

However, according to the Move Concerts boss, there are a number of obstacles that stand between Latam’s industry and a full recovery.

Below, Rodriguez outlines those obstacles, reflects on the lessons learnt from the pandemic, and addresses “the elephant in the room”…

IQ: How is Latin America’s return to business going?
PR: It’s a patchwork of different sets of rules and regulations per country so it has been a challenge to get them all aligned to have a proper tour of the region. But we’re finally getting there!

In which markets are you now able to fully operate?
Puerto Rico was able to start at full capacity (with proof of vaccination) as of August and business has been incredible. Not only have the shows been selling out, but single dates became multiples. That market came back STRONG.

What’s the deal with vaccine passports and capacity restrictions in Latam?
As noted, it’s a patchwork. Brazil is operating at 70% capacity with proof of vaccination and will open to 100% this week. Argentina will open at 100% capacity with proof of vaccination and with requirements for face masks from 16 November.

Uruguay is at 55% without vaccination and 70% with vaccination. Colombia will be at 100% capacity for vaccinated people from 16 November. Chile is currently held to 40% and in some cases 60% capacity – vaccinated and socially distanced. The expectation is to be open at 100% for the vaccinated by January 2022. Costa Rica will be at 100% as of March 2022 for the vaccinated.

“The lack of cancellation insurance for Covid is the elephant in the room for all of us”

Where has Move’s focus been since markets started to open up?
Rescheduling, booking new tours for the end of 2022 and 2023. Plus our management company and indie record label, Grand Move Records, which are both at full speed.

What opportunities do you see during this recovery period?
The chance to reinvent ourselves and look outside our comfort zone. We all had to do this during the pandemic. We should not get complacent once we return to some normalcy and forget that.

What are the challenges you’re facing right now? 
The lack of cancellation insurance for Covid is the elephant in the room for all of us. The rest we can deal with but will still present a strong challenge such as inflation and devaluation of currencies – which have been hit hard by the pandemic – and the economic consequences of the lockdowns, etc.

How long do you think it’ll take for Latam to get back to pre-pandemic levels of business?
The Covid issue, in my opinion, has been both a health and political issue, unfortunately, and that has not helped us get a better picture of what is ahead of us. But if by the second half of 2022, we are not on a solid road to pre-pandemic levels, we will ALL have bigger problems to worry about. That said, I’m an optimist by nature and I think we’ll come out of this wiser and stronger!

“If by the second half of ’22, we are not on a solid road to pre-pandemic levels, we’ll all have bigger problems to worry about”

When and how do you see international acts coming back to Latin America?
In South America, we kick off with a-ha in March 2022 – Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil.

Move hosted Latam’s first drive-thru show during the pandemic. Is that a format you’ll be returning to?
Not really…we do not see the need nor demand for this any longer as live concerts startup.

What about livestreaming – is there still demand in that area of the business?
This has essentially stopped. With the return of live shows – with reduced capacities – streaming has lost its initial appeal. I’m sure it will still be a good tool to have in our toolbox for use in the future but in a different form… more related to marketing or a special event, etc.

What one thing are you most proud of doing during the pandemic?
That we kept all our team in place and did not have to furlough or lay off anyone. We all took salary cuts and weathered the storm together.

Also, our office in Bogota took the initiative and created an internet site with different content – entertainment, cooking, lifestyle, etc – that raised over US$10,000 to support the local production crews and their families in the middle of the pandemic. That was a fabulous effort that made me very proud of our team there.


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Move’s Bad Bunny stadium show sells out fast

Bad Bunny’s highly anticipated hometown shows at Puerto Rico’s Hiram Bithorn Stadium sold out in less than 20 minutes, promoters Move Concerts and Noah Assad Presents have revealed.

The urban sensation’s P Fkn R show, rescheduled from May 2020, went on sale on Friday (20 August) and sold out soon after. The concerts, which take place at the 18,000-seat stadium on 10 and 11 December, will be Puerto Rico-born Bad Bunny’s first shows this year.

P Fkn R is the first announced show of a new partnership between Miami-based Move Concerts, which has an office in Puerto Rico, and Noah Assad, whose Rimas Music represents some of the world’s biggest reggaeton artists.

Everyone attending the P Fkn R show will be required to present proof of vaccination

Everyone attending the 10 and 11 December shows, which have a capacity of 35,000 each, will be required to present proof of full Covid-19 vaccination.

The Hiram Bithorn Stadium, the island’s largest, has previously hosted concerts by the likes Bon Jovi, Ozzy Osbourne, Rihanna, Shakira, Sting and Whitney Houston, in addition to its regular use as a baseball park.

Multiple Grammy and Latin Grammy-winner Bad Bunny will follow up the show with a world tour, El Último Tour del Mundo 2022, which kicks off on 9 February 2022 at the Ball Arena (20,000-cap.) in Denver, Colorado.


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Move Concerts partners with Brazil’s DC Set Group

Move Concerts, the largest independent promoter in Latin America, has partnered with DC Set Group, one of Brazil’s leading live entertainment companies, in a deal that sees DC Set partners and co-presidents Dody Sirena and Cicão Chies acquire a stake in Move Concerts Brazil.

The two companies have a history of collaborating on co-promoted tours in Brazil, including Faith No More in 1991 and Shakira in 2018. In the US, Miami-based Move Concerts USA has promoted stateside shows by Brazilian icon Roberto Carlos, who is managed by DC Set Group.

Led by company founder and CEO Phil Rodriguez, Miami-based Move Concerts has offices in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Peru and Puerto Rico. Commenting on the new partnership, Rodriguez says: “I have known Dody Sirena and Cicão Chies for a long time. Over the years we have worked together on some tours in Brazil and have been friends for decades. In 1991, I worked with Dody Sirena on Rock in Rio’s lineup.

“I am thrilled to welcome DC Set to the Move Concerts family”

“I have enormous respect for how they turned their company, DC Set, into a powerhouse that covers artist management, venue management, touring, publishing and esports. I am thrilled to welcome them to the Move Concerts family as they take a stake in Move Concerts Brazil, and look forward to growing our Brazilian operation together.”

Founded in 1979 by Sirena and Chies in Sao Paulo, DC Set Group has promoted numerous international superstars in Brazil, including Michael Jackson, Van Halen, Luciano Pavarotti, Julio Iglesias and Rod Stewart. Move and DC Set will produce concerts and international sporting events initiatives under the Move Concerts Brazil brand.

“The partnership with Move Concerts is the result of many years of partnership, friendship, and respect,” says Sirena. “For the group, it is a privilege to announce this partnership at such an important moment, when major live events are being resumed. There is no doubt that it will be a very successful path.”


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Phil Rodriguez: Reopening a “great opportunity” for new acts

As the worst year in the history of the live music business finally nears its end, IQ caught up with several industry leaders ahead of the new year, asking for their predictions for 2021, as well as the lessons they can take forward from 2020.

Here, Phil Rodriguez of Move Concerts, South America’s biggest independent promoter, speaks about the challenges that lie ahead, including the opportunities for emerging and local artists, and why cooperation will be important than ever on live music’s road to recovery…

IQ: This year has been difficult, to put it mildly, but have there been any positive aspects you are taking forward from this annus horribilis?
PR: Aside from spending more time with family… business-wise, it was a power kick in the ass that made us all look at costs, reinvent ourselves, etc. We got into the streaming business with LivePass Play and expanded our management roster.

When the “curtain opens” again, we will have more tools in our toolbox and run leaner and meaner.

How has coronavirus vaccine news changed the conversations you are having with colleagues, agents, artists, venues, etc.?
Everyone I have spoken with is more positive. The vaccine was the thing everyone was waiting for. Finally hope, and a better idea of timelines.

Livestreamed shows have shown that fans will pay to see their favourite acts remotely. How do you imagine this technology might develop when regular touring activity resumes?
The shut down of live events made the streaming business grow and become a new asset in our business. It will evolve and find its niche once live events come back – marketing, special launches, tour end (or start), streams, etc.

What advice or encouragement can you give to those who were hoping to break through in 2020, knowing that the market is going to be overcrowded with onsales when the industry gets back to work?
The upside for many artists is that they had over a year off the road to write, record, write, record. When they go out, in many cases, it will not be with just one or two singles out. It will be three-plus deep. That will help.

But be careful with dates/routings and be clever with what extra value your show offers to the punters. Is it priced right? Is the show a must-see? There will be a tsunami of tours!

“Moving forward with new routings and tours, we better be speaking with each other!”

Do you think Latin America’s return to business will be a different experience from that elsewhere?
The lockdowns in most of LatAm were very strict. Folks are inching to go out.

LatAm markets will open sooner – but with local artists. In fact, Brazil started having socially distanced concerts in Sao Paulo this month (50% of capacity up to a max of 2,000 with social distancing, seated). Rio, as of 1 November, can have up to 50% of capacity seated and socially distance, Buenos Aires has theatres opened with 30% capacity and socially distanced. Chile starts with socially distanced shows end of the month, and Uruguay never locked down and has live events at 30% of capacity. Only Peru, Colombia, Puerto Rico and Central America are still without live events.

The front end of the ‘opening’ of concerts around the world will be with local artists. A great opportunity for them to take advantage of and be front and centre.

The way various rival firms have cooperated and collaborated for the common good during the pandemic has been impressive. What hopes do you have that closer industry bonds can continue, post-Covid?
It has always been the smart thing to do. I have always felt that there is a sense of community in our business – no matter how warped we may seem at times!

We just went through a storm like never before. No one in our business was immune. No one will forget this black swan and, also, who stood solid in the storm.

Plus, moving forward with new routings, tours, etc., we better be speaking with each other!

What do you think the biggest challenges are going to be for Live 2.0, and how do you think industry leaders can best guide the business as things reopen?
Everyone will come back wanting to make up for the time lost and costs incurred. This should not cloud our decisions.

Finally, are there any bad habits the industry had that you are hoping might disappear when normality returns?
Yes, high ticket prices! We better look at ticket prices carefully.

There are more reasons than ever before: many people lost their jobs or businesses, others burned through their cash reserves, many currencies devalued during the pandemic, and there will be a lot of options for the consumer – from tours, to sports, to travel, etc. All the things most folks gave up for over a year.


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Colombian promoters experiment with drive-in shows

Drive-in shows are becoming increasingly popular in Colombia, where promoters have been experimenting with the outdoor format.

Cúcuta, a Colombian city at the Venezuelan border, held its first drive-in concert last weekend (24 October) with a format that could cater to a maximum of 480 people.

The site, outside of Unicentro Shopping Center, was split into 60 ‘boxes’ to accommodate a maximum of eight people and one car.

Each box was equipped with its own sanitisation station and an individual bathroom and a waiter was designated to each one, ensuring that no party mixed with another.

Patrons were required to have their temperature taken and to sanitise upon arrival.

The event was supported by the Cúcuta Mayor’s Office which is promoting the safe restart of events to maintain employment and income in the sector. The event is said to have created a total of 300 jobs, directly and indirectly.

Caravana will comprise a total of 20 shows, featuring performances from Santiago Cruz and Lospetitfellas

The Cúcuta event was based on the drive-in cinema model, which has also become popular in Colombia, with theatres popping up in Medellín, Cali and Villavicencio.

Elsewhere, Colombian promoters Ocesa Colombia, Páramo Presenta and Live Nation are part-way through their drive-in concert series, Caravana.

The series launched on 7 October and will run until 28 November, taking place in the car park of the Salitre Mágico theme park in the capital, Bogota.

The 17,800 square-metre site comprises three locations (two exclusively for cars and one for trucks and vans) and can accommodate 280 vehicles each with up to four people.

The series will comprise a total of 20 shows, featuring performances from Santiago Cruz, Vincente Garcia and Lospetitfellas.

The first drive-in shows in Latin America took place in Puerto Rico in July, courtesy of Move Concerts, closely followed by similar events in Mexico.


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Move Concerts allies with hip-hop platform Damn!

Move Concerts, the largest independent promoter in Latin America, has partnered with influential urban show Damn! to grow its digital footprint while concerts are on hold.

Damn!, described as the most important hip-hop programme in the Spanish-speaking world, has a strong and growing fan base in Argentina, Mexico and Spain, with more than 430,000 subscribers on YouTube. The show is broadcast on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 6–8pm Argentina time.

The partnership will see Damn! film its show from a new studio complex created by Move Concerts Argentina and the programme’s co-producer, MAD, which provided technical support. The new studio is located at Move Concerts’ Argentinian HQ in Buenos Aires.

According to Move, the partnership is “the first step by Move Concerts and Move Management to show the strong commitment they have made to urban artists”.

The collaboration with Damn! is the latest Covid-era initiative for Move Concerts, which also has offices in Miami, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Peru, Colombia and Costa Rica. The company last month hosted Latin America’s first drive-in concerts, and was a partner on La Morada, an online entertainment venue that raised money for Colombian production crew.


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Indie promoters talk challenges, post-corona recovery

The latest IQ Focus virtual panel, The State of Independence: Promoters, checked in with independent concert promoters in the UK, Europe, India and South America to discover how these entrepreneurs are preparing for the live industry’s return to normality.

Hosted by agent Emma Banks (CAA), yesterday’s session welcomed British promoters Anton Lockwood (DHP Family) and David Messer (DMP), Munbir Chawla from India’s The Wild City, Melanie Eselevsky from Argentina’s Move Concerts and Karsten Jahnke Konzertdirektion’s Roman Pitone to discuss the current difficulties unique to their sector, as well as the opportunities and challenges of a post-Covid-19 world .

Speaking about emerging concert formats such as drive-in shows, Pitone said Karsten Jahnke has done a number of drive-in events in Germany over the past few months. “Overall, they went well,” he said, but enthusiasm has declined over time as fans increasingly miss ‘real’ shows: “You could see when we started it that people were really eager to see shows [in some form] again, but it slowed down as time went on as people realised it’s just not the same.”

He added that the company is only breaking even on its drive-in and other socially distanced events. “With the income, we’re just paying for what we’re doing,” he explained. “This is just to keep doing something that is our passion and our livelihood, until we can do something [else]…”

In India, where live music is still invariably sponsored, brands have realised the coronavirus crisis isn’t going away and are spending less on live events, creating a headache for promoters, said Chawla. “The brands have realised they’re in it for the long haul, and cultural marketing spend is now being put back into marketing the products” directly, he commented.

“I want to remain independent. It’s not all and gloom”

“Unlike a lot of other scenes, the Indian scene is pretty reliant on brands. So, with the brands spending less money, that will also affect shows and the scale at which they can happen.”

Giving an overview of the situation in countries where Move Concerts operates, Eselevsky brought panellists up to date on the latest developments in Latin America, from the furlough scheme in Argentina to ticket vouchers in Brazil and drive-in concerts in Puerto Rico.

She also touched on the challenge of organising concerts in Argentina when the value of the local currency fluctuates so often: “Three years ago, the exchange rate was 18 pesos [to the US dollar],” she said. “Now it’s 75 pesos.”

Banks described her own experience of playing Argentina, relaying how one of her acts once oversold a show in Buenos Aires and still didn’t break even. “Try explaining that to the manager!” she said.

Turning to 2021, Messer said he’s “finding that because so many things have been moved into next year, things are fully booked” for late 2021 already. “So it’s very hard to know what you can book – the dates are going very quickly, but you can’t book the artists” because the situation around international touring is still so unclear.

“People are talking a lot more to each other … We’re all in the same place”

Lockwood said he can understood why many artists, especially American ones, could be reluctant to travel internationally well into next year, even if it’s a “depressing” thought. “Imagine the nightmare of being a US band,” he explained, “you get to the border of Spain and Portugal, and your bus driver gets a cough and you have to quarantine for 14 days. So, your whole tour’s just gone.

“Whereas, at least if you’re a US band and you tour the US, you won’t get caught in that.”

While the crisis has thrown into sharp relief the vulnerability of the independent sector, none of the panellists responded in the affirmative when Banks asked, tongue in cheek, if they wish they’d sold to Live Nation before coronavirus hit.

“It’s not all and gloom,” said Chawla, highlighting the quality of the music being released and the increasingly global nature of the industry as among the bright spots, while Messer praised how “people have come together” to mitigate the impact of the concert shutdown.

“People are talking a lot more to each other – people from different sides of the industry,” he said, in a sentiment echoed by Banks. “We’re all in the same place, and luckily everyone’s helping each other, which we have to do. We all need each other – we’re not going survive unless we can all exist.”

For more discussion and debate, including on ticket pricing, refunds and vouchers, ‘Swiss-cheese touring’ and much more, watch the session back on YouTube or Facebook now.


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Mexico embraces drive-in concerts

Promoters in Mexico are the latest to embrace drive-in concerts, with live shows planned for Mexico City and Toluca, following the adoption of the popular Covid-safe show format in Puerto Rico earlier this month.

Drive-in concerts, or autoconciertos as they are known in Spanish, have brought the live experience back to music-deprived fans across the world in recent months.

Move Concerts premiered the format in San Juan, Puerto Rico, at the start of the month, with Pedro Capó performing to 1,500 vehicle-bound fans.

Now, the format has made its way Mexico, with the first drive-in concerts set to take place at the beginning of August.

The Foro Pegaso (10,000-capacity), an open-air arena in Toluca, some 60km west of the Mexican capital, is hosting a series of 2,000-carpacity drive-in shows from 7 August, kicking off with Mexican rock band Moderatto.

Subsequent performances will come from rock band El Tri and Tejano group Intocable, who are also playing the first-ever drive-in concert in El Paso, Texas next month, on 14 and 15 August respectively.

Promoters in Mexico are the latest to embrace drive-in concerts, following the adoption of the popular Covid-safe show format in Puerto Rico earlier this month

The Foro Pegaso shows are promoted by Miami-based company MH Music Live. Tickets are available here, costing Mex$1,500 (€59) per car, with up to four people allowed in each.

The Mexico City Arena is also trialling drive-in concerts next month, with a show by blues-rock band Real de Catorce and rock group Salvador y los Eones on 8 August in its special open-air arena. Tickets will become available here on Thursday (16 July).

The arena has been hosting drive-in film screenings and family theatre events since the beginning of July.

PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Entertainment and Media Outlook Mexico 2016-2020 had estimated the Mexican live industry to be worth US$276 million in 2020, before Covid-19 wiped out much of the year’s event calendar.

In the first quarter of 2020, CIE, one of two parent companies of leading Mexican promoter Ocesa Entertainment, reported a 6% fall in revenue compared to the same period of the previous year, due to over 200 coronavirus-related event cancellations.

CIE had been due to sell its 11% stake in Ocesa to Live Nation, but the deal was called off earlier this year, after the promoter was unable to agree revised terms with CIE and fellow Ocesa stakeholder Televisa Group.


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Move Concerts hosts Latam’s first drive-in show

Move Concerts, the largest independent promoter in Latin America, has staged the first live event in the region since the Covid-19 shutdown, hosting a four-hour drive in concert in Puerto Rico on Saturday (4 July).

The Drive-in Summer Fest, which was organised by Move Concerts Puerto Rico in conjunction with No Limit Entertainment, saw Latin Grammy-winning Pedro Capó and local rock bands La Secta and Circo perform to 1,500 vehicle-bound guests.

The show was the first drive-in concert to take place in Latin America, following the format’s success in markets worldwide. Live Nation, the world’s biggest promoter, is currently preparing for a series of drive-in shows in the United States and the UK.

Temperature checks were performed on entry at the Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan and hand sanitiser distributed to fans. Social distancing was enforced as each party remained in designated areas marked around their cars.

“Thanks to Move Concerts PR and No Limit Entertainment for having the initiative at such a difficult time. Last night was truly special”

All tickets for the sell-out event were digital, with the show ending at 9 p.m. to ensure all guests adhered to the island’s coronavirus curfew of 10 p.m.

A drone show, consisting of 135 drones, was put on by the event’s main sponsor, telecommunications company AT&T – a first in Puerto Rico – to announce the launch of its 5G network.

“Thanks Puerto Rico for always supporting your own,” posted headliner Capó on Instagram. “I feel I can speak for all the colleagues, technicians and musicians when I say that you don’t know how much we missed being on stage.

“Thanks to Move Concerts PR and No Limit Entertainment for having the initiative at such a difficult time. Last night was truly special.”

This Saturday (11 July), Move Concerts will put on the first pay-per-view live stream concert in Puerto Rico, which will see Kany García. García will perform her new album Mesa para Dos (Table for Two), alongside guests including Camilo, Tommy Torres and Pedro Capó, live from the 5,000-capacity Coca-Cola Music Hall in San Juan.

Tickets for the concert are available here for fans all over the world.


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La Morada: Top artists back Move CO aid for laid-off crew

Move Concerts has partnered with Spin Agency, an advertising and branding company, to launch La Morada, a new online entertainment hub designed to raise money for Colombia’s chinomatics, or production crews, during the coronavirus epidemic.

La Morada (which means both a home and the colour purple in Spanish) is a ‘virtual house’ made up of ‘rooms’ each containing specific content, such as live music, comedy, yoga, psychology, meditation, fitness classes, cooking and video games. Launched on 17 April, over 300 hours of free content has been created for the initial lifespan of the project, which was originally programmed to run for one month, until 17 May, but has been extended to 17  June.

Artists who appear in La Morada – which include Latin music stars such as J Balvin, Juanes, Fonseca and Carlos Vives – have donated their time for free, providing performance footage or exclusive interviews. Other content includes virtual PlayStation football matches (Colombia vs Peru is a recent highlight), and production masterclasses with Teo Echevarria and guests.

While all content is available for free, viewers have the option to donate money to provide a cesta basica (‘basic basket’) containing essential groceries for a family, including food and hygiene products, for the chinomatics and their loved ones.

Nicolas Martinez, marketing director for Move Concerts Colombia and director/partner at Spin Agency, recalls Covid-19 first hitting Colombia: “As the reality sunk in, fear was all that I felt. Twenty twenty was supposed to be our best year ever. We had a calendar filled with brand events and concerts. Our budget goals were already accomplished and then, out of the blue, our world froze.

“Then I started thinking about our office in Bogota, which operates with 32 people, plus hundreds of direct and indirect hires around events: producers, stagehands, roadies, security, sound and light engineers, riggers, tour managers, and other jobs that are the real foundation of our business – the chinomatics.”

While all content is available for free, viewers have the option to donate money to provide a ‘basic basket’ containing essential groceries

He continues: “I found out that Teo Echevarria, our head of production and Maluma’s production manager, was linked to an association, IPEE [Industria de Produccion de Eventos y Espectaculos, a union for production personnel), that was compiling a database of all the chinomatics who were going through a difficult time, and who were not even able to purchase basic food products for themselves and their families.

“To date, the database has a listing of more than 3,000 people.”

Using IPEE’s data, the Move and Spin teams came up with a project that would keep staff busy while generating some basic assistance for crew and their families.

Fernando Escobar, talent director for Move Concerts Colombia, who is also general manager for La Morada, adds: “We are essentially running a TV station that airs on a digital platform and social media with a programming grid that extends 7am to 11pm daily. This is non-stop.”

To date, La Morada, which is sponsored by Aval Group, has donated over 900 food baskets (out of a goal of 1,500 before the project ends) and been viewed by 600,000 viewers across all platforms (web plus Instagram and social media).

The ‘house’ can be accessed by going to www.lamorada.com.co or on Instagram at @lamoradaco.


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