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‘We exist to tour’: Team Mumford do Futures Forum

Mumford & Sons’ live strategy formed the core of the Futures Forum keynote interview on Friday (6 March), featuring founding band member Ben Lovett, manager Adam Tudhope and agent Lucy Dickins, in conversation with journalist Paul Stokes.

“We are most passionate about the live side,” said Lovett, in a statement that proved almost superfluous over the course of the interview, given the palpable sense of enthusiasm he emitted while talking about Mumford & Sons’ past tours, their Gentlemen of the Road events and his own venues, Omeara and Lafayette.

Since the very earliest stages of Mumford & Sons – and even before they were known as such – the band members approached performing with a “sleeves rolled-up mentality”, unafraid of getting involved with staging and other aspects of putting on shows.

This resulted in a collaborative approach to touring, which remains to this very day. “I love the fact that it is always a conversation between us and the promoters,” said Lovett. “We respect promoters as a band – it’s in our DNA.”

The band officially formed in 2007, consisting of Marcus Mumford, Winston Marshall, Ted Dwane and Lovett, with Dickins and Tudhope coming on board as firm members of the team from the get go.

“We just toured non-stop,” said Dickins, who joined WME in May last year. “I’ve never seen a work ethic like it and that continues today.”

Lovett agreed that “the main reason Mumford & Sons exist is to tour”. The band’s most recent concert tour, Delta, saw them perform more than 60 dates at arenas across Europe, North America, Asia and Australia.

“I’ve never seen a work ethic like it and that continues today”

The mammoth tour sold 700,000 tickets in just a few days of going on sale, broke multiple attendance records and featured the band playing in the round for the first time. “It was very challenging but incredibly effective staging,” said Lovett, explaining there was a “sense of duty” to allow fans to experience their songs in a different way for their fourth headlining tour.

“We took some risks on Delta,” he said, “and on balance it really paid off. It really felt like there were connection happening between audience members throughout that tour.”

Forming meaningful connections in interesting places is at the heart of much of what the band do. The team revealed that upcoming plans to “go deeper into eastern Europe”, explore new “seemingly random places” and work with new promoters, were “scuppered” by the recent coronavirus outbreak.

“We really do have a really awesome idea up our sleeves,” said Tudhope, with the team hinting that plans would not be put on hold forever.

The band’s Gentlemen of the Road event series has seen them perform in many different places, travelling to small towns in the UK, Australia, the US, South Africa, and more.

“The culture clash is so beautiful”, said Tudhope, speaking of seeing tiny, off-the-beaten track towns inundated with festivalgoers, and local businesses benefitting from the event. “There’s a real community aspect.”

Dickins referenced the practical challenges of finding a suitable site for these unique events and curating the line-up. “It’s double, if not triple the amount of work but it’s worth every bit,” she said. “Enthusiasm drives it.”

“It was very challenging but incredibly effective staging”

From a business point of view, Tudhope said the events were a great way of gaining a true understanding of how promoters work, which has “really informed a lot of our own business decisions.”

“Promoters aren’t a bank for us,” added the Mumford & Sons manager. “They’re the enablers of a dream and you need a good relationship for that.”

If the experience of putting on their own events has enabled the band and team to develop a deeper understanding of how promoters work, then Lovett’s experience as a touring musician has informed him in his capacity as a venue owner.

Lovett, who owns and operates London venues Omeara and the recently opened Lafayette, stated that both fans and artists want something “unique” from venues, asking why the industry is pushing a more standardised “cookie cutter” model.

“Everybody wants to play Omeara because it’s so thought out from the artist’s side,” said Dickins. Artists that have performed at the 320-capacity venue include the Pretenders, Kodaline, the Maccabees, Beck and Circa Waves, with upcoming performances from Jake Bugg, Amy Wadge and Jesse Malin.

Lafayette (600-cap.) opened its doors last week with a performance by Brit Award-winner Dave and already has a full programme of upcoming events by the likes of Jack Peñate, D Double E and Hudson Taylor.

“The support I’ve received for Lafayette has meant the world,” said Lovett, adding that he has the lease on the venue for 25 years – equating to around 5,000 shows. “Just think of all the acts that are going to go through there.”

“For me, the sign of a successful band is longevity”

Lovett’s venue ventures have much to do with sustaining the live industry and providing artists with a place to perform. Lovett referenced the number of venue closures that have been seen in recent years, emphasising the damage that the secondary ticketing market is enacting on the grassroots level of the industry in particular.

Tudhope spoke of how the US leg of Mumfords’ Delta tour ended up generating “many millions” for the secondary market. “We didn’t want our fans to have to pay that money,” he said, explaining that it was the tickets sold at the affordable price band that were most heavily targeted by touts.

This experience “galvanised us really strongly to do something about it”, said Tudhope. Together with other managers and artists, the Mumford team has now created “a really good coalition” around anti-touting group FanFair Alliance.

Environmental sustainability is another area that the team is looking to improve upon. The band partnered with green touring specialist Reverb on its Delta tour to calculate – and later offset – carbon emissions, and create an eco-friendly touring template for future use.

“The key thing you have to commit to is spending money,” said Tudhope. “It costs money to be greener, that’s the reality.”

With sustainability remaining essential to Mumford & Sons’ ethos, it appears this will be a cost the band is willing to take.

“For me, the sign of a successful band is longevity, rather than number ones or show size, or anything else,” said Lovett. “All I want to know is: how can we do this for longer?”

 


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The final countdown: ILMC week is here

The 32nd International Live Music Conference (ILMC) is kicking off tomorrow (3 March) in London, welcoming top music industry professionals for a wide range of panel discussions, keynote interviews and networking events.

The 2020 edition of ILMC features the conference’s most wide-reaching agenda yet, with sessions looking at the agency, ticketing, venue and festival sectors, as well as exploring green touring, mental health, the Insta-generation and life after losing a star act.

This year also sees the return of Futures Forum on 6 March, a forward-looking discussion and networking event created by young professionals for the next generation of live music industry leaders.

Highlights of the ILMC agenda include the ILMC Breakfast Meeting, which sees Dire Straits manager Ed Bicknell site down to interview fellow legendary artist manager Peter Rudge, and the Futures Forum keynote, featuring Team Mumford & Sons – founding band member and venue owner Ben Lovett, manager Adam Tudhope and booking agent Lucy Dickins.

The 2020 edition of ILMC features the conference’s most wide-reaching agenda yet

Elsewhere, ILMC’s main opening session The Open Forum: Universally challenged will consider the impact of Covid-19 coronavirus on the business, as well as other key topics; agents line up to discuss recent strategies for both emerging and established artists in The Agency Business 2020; urban music’s meteoric rise is examined in the Urban Legends: Hip hop on top panel; and the industry’s duty of care towards its workforce forms the centre of conversation in the Mental Health: Next steps for live session.

A packed ILMC workshop schedule will look at the impact 5G is likely to have on live music, the benefits video-sharing platform TikTok brings to the business, how to maximise the potential of digital marketing and the advantages of digital ticketing.

The first day of the conference shines the spotlight on live music production at the ILMC Production Meeting (IPM) and sustainability at the Green Events and Innovations Conference (GEI).

Outside of the conference programming, the best and brightest of the industry will be crowned at the ILMC Arthur Awards Winners’ Dinner on Thursday night and delegates will go head to head in a series of activities including the It’s a Copout game show night, as well as staples of the ILMC night-time programme table football and karaoke.

ILMC takes place at the Royal Garden Hotel in London from 3 to 6 March. Companies supporting this year’s conference include Live Nation, Ticketmaster, Eventim, Universe, Livestyled, Tysers, Joy Station, Mojo Rental and Showsec.

 


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Team Mumford, Peter Rudge confirmed as ILMC keynotes

Legendary artist manager Peter Rudge and Team Mumford & Sons and  have been announced as the keynote speakers at this year’s International Live Music Conference (ILMC) in March.

The ILMC Breakfast Meeting (Wednesday 4 March) this year features two titans of the artist management game, as Dire Straits manager Ed Bicknell sits down to interview Peter Rudge, whose roster has included the Who, the Rolling Stones, Roger Waters, Duran Duran, Madness, Ray Davies, Anastacia, James, Imelda May and Ball & Boe.

The Futures Forum keynote, taking place on the final, youth-focused day of the conference on 6 March, will see Team Mumford & Sons interviewed by Radio X DJ John Kennedy. Founding band member and venue owner Ben Lovett will be joined by manager Adam Tudhope (Everybody’s) and booking agent Lucy Dickins (WME) to reflect on Mumfords’ journey from banjo-plucking west London folkies to global superstars.

The ILMC Breakfast Meeting features two titans of the artist management game

Elsewhere across the ILMC conference schedule, guest speakers include CAA co-head Emma Banks, UTA’s head of global music David Zedeck, Live Nation’s executive president of international touring Phil Bowdery and SVP Marketing Jackie Wilgar, Book My Show CEO Ashish Hemrajani, AEG President and CEO Alex Hill, Oak View Group co-chair Jessica Koravos and O2’s head of sponsorship Gareth Griffiths.

Last year’s Breakfast Meeting saw the Who’s Roger Daltrey take to the stage to discuss the band’s beginnings, crooked managers and his oft-strained relationship with Pete Townshend, whereas the inaugural Futures Forum keynote featured double grammy winner Dua Lipa talking about the challenges faced by women in the industry, alongside her father, Dugi.

ILMC takes place at the Royal Garden Hotel and The Baglioni Hotel in Kensington from 3 to 6 March. The invitation-only event sells out annually, with 1,200 delegates from over 60 markets attending the main conference, and a total of around 2,000 professionals expected at ILMC events across the week.

 


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Omeara’s Ben Lovett announces new London venue

Mumford and Sons member Ben Lovett has announced plans for his second live music venue, Lafayette, launching in London early next year.

Lovett opened grassroots venue Omeara (320-cap.) in late 2016. His new venture, located in Kings Cross, will be set within the new Good Ways development.

The new venue will be booked by Communion, the team that organise all live shows and club nights at Omeara.

“A few years ago I embarked on a journey into the unknown with family and friends and launched Omeara at Flat Iron Square,” comments Lovett. “We weren’t entirely clear how to achieve what we ultimately wanted, but we definitely knew what it needed to be and why we were doing it.

“I have had some of my favourite and most memorable experiences in Omeara since it opened back in late 2016, and I truly believe that the experience it has provided both fans and artists is something so important to London’s venue landscape.

“I’m forever committed to pushing forward a new era of music venues that truly elevate people’s expectations of what that experience should be”

“It is with great pride that I can now share our plans to open Lafayette @ Goods Way which will be in the heart of King’s Cross, adjacent to Central St. Martins and Coal Drops Yard. I’m forever committed to pushing forward a new era of music venues that truly elevate people’s expectations of what that experience should be, and I believe London ought to continually strive to be at the forefront of the entertainment industry on a global stage, as the best city in the world.

It’s still early days in the venue’s construction but, this time, not only do we know exactly what it will be and why we’re doing it, but we’re now extremely confident that we know how to deliver it too!”

Lovett aims to provide a wide array of programming for the new venues, from “regular, eclectic club nights” to “bespoke one-off events”.

Further details, including Lafayette’s capacity and information on upcoming shows, will be shared over the coming weeks.

 


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Record-low waste levels for FKP Scorpio festivals

Over the 2019 festival season, German promoter FKP Scorpio reduced plastic waste across its festivals, as part of ongoing sustainability plans.

On average, fans attending twin festivals Hurricane and Southside produce six to eight kilograms of waste over four festival days.

Attendees of Hurricane 2019 generated 4.5 kilograms of waste per person, the lowest amount on record. Around one third of this waste can currently be recycled, with plans to increase this amount over the coming years.

The waste reduction is the result of the “Green Rocks” programme, launched in 2013 to improve cleanliness and sustainability at Hurricane and Southside, and to ensure FKP Scorpio communicates effectively around issues of sustainability.

New regulations include a ban on single-use plastics for vendors, sponsors and caterers, as well as a multi-platform online campaign encouraging festivalgoers to renounce plastic products and bring reusable alternatives.

Attendees of Hurricane 2019 generated 4.5 kilograms of waste per person, the lowest amount on record

Backstage, plastic bottle usage was reduced by 70%, following the introduction of reusable alternatives and water stations.

To make clean-up operations more efficient, maintenance teams mounted a two-metre wide magnet on the front of tractors to clear the ground of all magnetic waste such as cans, tent pegs and hairpins.

The introduction of recycling collection sacks, which could be handed in at stations around the festival site, allowed for more efficient and effective sorting of waste.

Performers at the 2019 festivals included Foo Fighters, Mumford and Sons, the Cure and Tame Impala.

Hurricane and Southside return on 19 to 21 June 2020. The twin festivals recorded their best-ever presale for their 2020 events, selling 40,000 tickets in two days.

 


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Lucy Dickins joins WME

WME has confirmed to IQ that award winning music agent Lucy Dickins is joining the company in June. Currently a senior agent at ITB, she will become head of WME’s UK music division – a newly created role.

“Lucy is a star player, and the perfect addition to our team,” says WME’s head of music, Marc Geiger. “There’s no one else who possesses Lucy’s combination of pedigree, taste and respect in our industry. After being in business with her family for so many years, we feel fortunate that she decided to join WME, and we look forward to bringing her perspective to our clients and colleagues.”

Adding Dickins to the payroll is a significant coup for WME’s music team in the UK, where the company has been operating since 2007. One of the music industry’s most respected and successful agents, her existing client roster includes Adele, Mumford & Sons, Laura Marling, James Blake and Mabel, whom WME will now represent globally. Dickins also works with Hot Chip, Bryan Ferry, Rex Orange County, Jamie T, Jack Peñate, among others, all of whom are expected to join her at WME.  Also following her to WME’s central London offices will be ITB agents James Simmons and Chris Payne.

Underlining her popularity in the global industry, in March this year, Dickins’ peers voted her the Second Least Offensive Agent at ILMC’s Arthur Awards.

“There’s no one else who possesses Lucy’s combination of pedigree, taste and respect in our industry”

She states, “Growing up in this business, I’ve been lucky to learn from the best, but now is the time for me to take the next step in my career. The opportunity to join WME was hugely exciting, and I’m confident that this relationship can grow into something special.”

The job switch will bring her career of more than 20 years at ITB to an end. After a work experience stint at the agency as a teenager, Dickins began her career working for a small independent record label before re-joining ITB as an assistant in 1998. During the past two decades, she has built a reputation for developing artists and emerging talent from grass roots, and she is renowned for the close rapport she forms with her artists.

Lucy is part of a music business dynasty that stretches back to her musician grandfather, Percy, who, in the 1950s, co-founded the NME and introduced the Top 20 recorded music charts into popular UK culture. Her father, Barry, formed ITB in 1978 with a client list made up of some of the biggest artists of all time, including Bob Dylan and Neil Young. Her brother, Jonathan, currently manages a hugely successful roster including Adele, while her uncle, Rob, is a former head of Warner Brothers.

She was recently revealed as one of the first speakers at Eurosonic Noorderslag 2020, where she will be interviewed, alongside her father and brother, by ILMC’s Greg Parmley.

Her hire culminates a period of growth for WME’s UK office. This year the agency booked more shows at the O2 Arena than any of its rivals, in addition to leading European festival bookings.


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In-the-round Mumfords break Detroit arena record

British folk-pop act Mumfords & Sons broke the attendance record with their show at Detroit’s Little Caesars Arena last Wednesday, promoter 313 Presents has revealed.

The show – part of the band’s fourth concert tour, the big-production, in-the-round Delta tour – played to 17,794 people on 27 March, a spokesperson for the 20,000-capacity arena tells WXYZ Detroit.

Detroit-based 313 Presents, which co-promoted the show with Live Nation, thanked the band for a “fantastic night and a broken record to date […] #1 paid attendance to date at Little Caesars Arena.”

‪Thank you, Mumford and Sons, for a fantastic night and a broken record to boot. #1 paid attendance to date at Little Caesars Arena. Congratulations!‬ #DeltaTourDetroit

Posted by 313 Presents on Thursday, 28 March 2019

After a troubled start in the UK plagued by “logistical” issues, the Delta tour headed to the US in December – with highlights including two nights at Madison Square Garden on 10 and 11 December – then to Australasia, before returning to North America in late February. The band will play a string of European arena and festival dates this summer.

Little Caesars Arena, located in the Midtown area of Detroit, Michigan, opened in 2017. It is operated by Olympia Entertainment (parent company of 313 Presents), which also owns several sports teams in Michigan.

 


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‘Festivals are to Belgium like tea is to Brits’

Pukkelpop programmer Chokri Mahassine has hailed the diversity of the Belgian festival market, telling IQ that – far from there being trop de festivals – “people like the variety our festival scene has to offer”.

Some in Belgium, as elsewhere in the world, have cast doubts on the viability of the “festivalisation” of the live music business, with Christophe Goethals of CRISP warning last year that the “supply [of festivals] cannot grow indefinitely”. Yet despite this increase in competition – as well as the potential for terror attacks to hurt ticket sales, as happened last summer – Mahassine says the health of the market remains “excellent”.

“I certainly don’t feel like there are too many festivals,” he explains. “People like the variety.

“With small-town events, they can go with their families and hang out with friends while enjoying live music; the bigger festivals, of course, have even more to offer; and hip and trendy fringe events make festivalgoers feel that they’re part of something new. It’s a package deal nowadays: popular music, the latest fashion trends, fancy food, celebs and stars, glamping, hipster activities, art – it’s all there.”

For Belgians, says Mahassine, “festivals truly are part of our national heritage”. “They belong to the Belgian summer like sand to a beach!” he explains. “Or like tea to the British, for that matter…”

“You can’t cook without ingredients. Beer prices continue to rise, and so do the fees of our artists and security expenses”

Independently promoted Pukkelpop – meaning ‘Pimplepop’ in Dutch, as “we wanted a name to refer to something all young people have in common”, jokes Mahassine – is Belgium’s second-largest music festival, after Live Nation Belgium’s Rock Werchter.

Founded in 1985, it has taken place in the village of Kiewit, near Hasselt in Dutch-speaking Limburg, since 1991, with a daily capacity of 60,000. Ticket sales for the 2017 event, headlined by Bastille, Editors, Mumford & Sons and The xx, are off to a “good start”, says Mahassine, adding that he’s “pretty confident we’ll sell out this year”.

Heading into its 32nd year (there was no festival in 1989), Mahassine says one of the biggest changes he’s seen in the festival is an increased focus on non-music entertainment, such as poetry, theatre and comedy. “Fringe activities are gaining popularity rapidly,” he explains. “Nowadays, they’re part of the overall festival experience.

“Petit Bazar and Salon Fou usher in street theatre and comedy, entertainment and wellbeing, [while] Food Wood serves up dishes from around the world in the festival’s greenest nook and Baraque Futur focuses on sustainability, experiment and keynote speaking. […] No Pukkelpop experience is complete without a visit to these corners of the festival site.”

However, all those fringe activities come at a price – and with ever-increasing costs, Mahassine says it’s becoming a challenge to keep from raising ticket prices, echoing recent comments by North Sea Jazz’s Jan Willem Luyken.

“You can’t cook without ingredients,” he comments. “Beer prices continue to rise, and so do the fees of our artists. Plus, it won’t come as a surprise to hear that we’ve seen a significant increase in security expenses in recent years – and, of course, we continue to invest in our festival infrastructure.

“Fringe activities are gaining popularity rapidly. Nowadays, they’re part of the festival experience”

“We’ve set the bar high to keep all our festivalgoers happy, but ticket prices for Pukkelpop haven’t changed in four years. Last year we were forced to raise the price of food and drinks tokens, but we’re still offering them at a reduced rates in the presale. For now, we’re trying to keep the price level constant for another few years.”

As expensive as on-site security is, Pukkelpop can at least benefit from the sharing of security intelligence with other festivals, including those promoted by Live Nation Belgium, with which Mahassine says the festival has a “very good relationship”.

“We meet on a regular basis, and they help us with a lot of issues,” he explains. “Of course, that relationship is essential when it comes to booking international acts – but we also exchange security measures and other festival-related know how.

“[Live Nation Belgium CEO] Herman Schueremans always reminds us of the Belgian national motto, “L’union fait la force” (“Unity makes strength”). That’s a mantra we try to live by!”

Pukkelpop 2017 takes place from Wednesday 16 to Saturday 19 August.

 


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Artists lend support to FanFair fans’ guide

British anti-ticket touting organisation FanFair Alliance has followed up its #ToutsOut guide for managers with a similar handbook “demystify the ticket-buying process” for fans.

The guide, downloadable for free from FanFair, centres on ’10 tips for ticket-buying’, which include signing up for artists’ and events’ mailing lists, checking for presales and – crucially – learning to differentiate unauthorised secondary sellers from authorised primary ticket agents.

It has won the support of several prominent artists, including Ed Sheeran, Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien, Mumford & Sons, Royal Blood, Mark Knopfler, Amy MacDonald and You Me at Six’s Josh Franceschi, all of whom will push the guide on the social media channels.

“It’s important to get educated about ticket touts,” says Sheeran. “Read the advice in the FanFair Alliance guide – find out who the authorised ticket sellers are, avoid the secondary sites and, if you’ve got to sell a ticket, sell if for face value.”

Knopfler comments: “The FanFair Alliance Guide offers common sense advice to ticket buyers, and the more widely it is adopted, the better it will be for fans and performers. Nobody wants the front ten rows of their event to be full of super-rich consumers who may or may not actually be into the music, as opposed to just attending the event.”

“FanFair has consulted widely to come up with ten simple tips that aim to empower audiences and help them better navigate the ticket-buying process”

Also backing the guide are MPs Nigel Adams and Sharon Hodgson, the co-chairs of the All-Party Parliamentary Group in Ticket Abuse.

“The guide is a response to the dark arts employed by the resale platforms Get Me In!, Seatwave, StubHub and Viagogo,” explains FanFair campaign manager Adam Webb. “These businesses not only fuel industrial-scale levels of ticket touting, they also use a range of manipulative marketing techniques that sow confusion when tickets go on sale and direct fans away from legitimate and authorised sellers.

“In response, FanFair has consulted widely to come up with ten simple tips that aim to empower audiences and help them better navigate the ticket-buying process. We want to help fans identify legitimate and authorised ticket agents, and to promote the concept of ethical resale – where ticket purchasers who can genuinely no longer attend a show have a safe and secure mechanism to sell on their ticket at face value. The vast majority of artists and music businesses are with us on this issue.”

The British government earlier this month announced its intention to ban ticket bots, which Webb described as a move “hugely important in helping clean up this market”.

 


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Foos, Mumfords head to Hoppegarten for Lolla 2017

Foo Fighters and Mumford & Sons have been announced as headliners for the 2017 edition of Lollapalooza Berlin, which will be held at the new venue of the Hoppegarten Racecourse – its third in as many years.

The festival, co-promoted by Melt! Booking and Live Nation (C3 Presents/Festival Republic), was forced to evacuate its original home, the disused Tempelhof Airport, when the site was converted into temporary housing for refugees. A move to Treptower Park followed in 2016, which was opposed by many local residents and even ten states of the former USSR (the park houses a Soviet war memorial).

Hoppegarten Racecourse (Rennbahn) is located around 12 miles to the east of Berlin.

Other newly confirmed acts include The XX, Two Door Cinema Club, Rudimental, EDM star Hardwell and local favourites Beatsteaks, Marteria and Cro:

Lollapalooza Berlin 2017 phase 1 line-up

 


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