Operation Phoenix: How arenas are getting back to business
Scientists and epidemiologists predict that the winter months will see another peak in cases of Covid-19, so as arena management around the world draw up plans to cope with their busiest year ever, Gordon Masson, with the help of the European Arenas Association, learns about some of the strategies to reopen venues – and keep them open. In the first part of this serialised feature, executives from the European arena business discuss how they’re getting back to business.
Major concerts and tours are taking place throughout North America and Europe, but scratch the surface and it’s obvious that the coronavirus pandemic is far from over, as many territories still have social distancing restrictions in place, or outright bans on mass gatherings.
In the UK, meanwhile, the entire business is awaiting the findings of the Manchester Arena Inquiry, although the ramifications of that will doubtless have an international impact, too.
Nevertheless, a cursory chat with anyone in the arenas sector yields similar responses: venues are massively oversubscribed for 2022 and 2023, and the volume of shows and tours in the diary mostly surpasses the levels of business enjoyed in 2019.
European Arenas Association (EAA) president Olivier Toth notes that, as the restrictions change on a regular basis, the association’s recent survey of its members only captures a moment in time – in this case, 25 November. Given that the survey was conducted before the omicron variant became an issue, the data is certain to change in the coming days and weeks.
“With capacity restrictions, we see strong differences between the northern part of Europe and the southern part of Europe”
“I was hoping that things would change and everybody would be able to reopen, go to full capacity and all of that good stuff. Yeah. But unfortunately, it’s the other way round. So it remains complicated,” says Toth.
Nevertheless, Toth believes the EAA survey was important to gauge the disparity of restrictions throughout the organisation’s membership – and indeed, all 36 members of the EAA submitted data to help in that regard.
“With capacity restrictions, we see strong differences between the northern part of Europe and the southern part of Europe,” he reports. “In northern venues and western venues, nobody has restrictions. In the south, however, we see no restrictions for 56% of our colleagues, while 44% do have to work with restrictions. In central Europe, it’s 75% working with restrictions, while in eastern Europe, it’s similar with 71% having to deal with capacity restrictions.”
“Those restrictions will, again, be variable, and there it becomes very complex because they change between countries, but they also change between regions. One example that struck me: we were talking to friends [at an arena in southern Europe] and whereas in my part of Europe everybody thinks and believes that Covid digital certificates are the way out for our sector, this particular venue doesn’t use them.
“[The focus has evolved through the intervening 18 months, and reopening is more about vaccines, tests, face masks, crowd size
“They’re not going to check [certificates] at the entrance, at least not at a time when they participated in the survey. But, on the other hand, they need to keep the bars closed. They need to keep wearing masks and seated shows are mandatory. So no standing.”
Such disparities mean that coming up with an overarching guideline to help arenas across the continent to reopen is – at present – an impossible task. That’s certainly the case for some of the major venue operators, internationally.
Ron Bension, president and CEO of ASM Global, notes that while there is no set plan to cover every arena in the company’s portfolio, that network of venues provides its own cumulative strength. “When [the pandemic] initially happened, the focus was on cleanliness, containing the air and those kinds of things to ensure that people were safe and that people didn’t get [the virus]. That’s evolved through the intervening 18 months, and reopening is more about vaccines, tests, face masks, crowd size.
“The good thing about ASM Global is we’ve got more than 300 buildings around the world. The advantage we have, and our clients have, is that we’re giving them global data on a real-time basis as to what’s happening in the marketplace, and what to be prepared for: it’s rich, more narrative data, about what happened, what we did, how did it work, and what does that mean for you? And if we can provide that to our clients and customers and act upon it in a proactive way, then we and our clients are winners.”
“[OVG] is in a very good position with the new buildings because of all the technology we’ve been able to deploy”
At Oak View Group, executive vice president Brian Kabatznick notes that the company is in a unique situation, given that it is able to integrate Covid mitigation measures into the construction of its properties.
“We’re fortunate with the ten new arenas we’re opening because there are two methods of Covid mitigation – retrofitting existing buildings or opening new buildings where you’ve got the touchless systems, the HEPA filters, the ability to take fresh air from the outside and run that through the arenas on a much more efficient level. So from an arena perspective, we’re in a very good position with the new buildings because of all the technology we’ve been able to deploy, effectively and efficiently,” says Kabatznick.
“We’re the largest developer of arenas in the world, we’ve invested $5.5billion (€4.9bn) in deployed capital. For Oak View Group (OVG), we’re able to move very quickly and efficiently as an investor, operator, developer, builder, financer. But the first ten arenas are the tip of the iceberg. The next tranche will be similar, major markets, OVG coming in as investor operator, usually with a local partner.”
Quizzed on what steps ASM has taken to ensure the safe reopening of its buildings, Bension points to the collaboration with Drexel College of Medicine to create VenueShield, which he describes as “the number one safety protocol for coming back to business.”
He continues, “It’s not rocket science: it’s just very detailed protocols for backstage, offices, front of house, artist areas, convention centres, meeting rooms, front desk, ticket taking. We take each area and figure out: What are the touchpoints? What are the interface points? And what do we need to do to ensure guests’ safety at those points, ensure cleanliness at those points? What do we need to do at the end of the day, and before opening, to ensure that we can get the venue up for the next day’s business? It’s extremely detailed.”
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Omicron live music restrictions: World update
As the new Omicron variant of coronavirus takes hold, IQ has updated the latest restrictions affecting major international touring markets. This update complements our European list which can be read here.
Below you’ll find the latest information on certification schemes, social distancing requirements, mask mandates, capacity restrictions and lockdowns affecting key live music markets around the globe.
Please note that we will aim to keep this article as up-to-date as possible but all information is subject to change.
To submit an update to this, please get in touch. This article was last updated on Thursday 16 December.
To read about the Omicron restrictions affecting European markets, please click here.
As of 27 November, the operating capacity of indoor events has increased to 80%. Entry to indoor events requires attendees to show their green pass and a negative PCR test result received within 96 hours.
Attendees at indoor events must also undertake an EDE scan at public entry points and wear a mask.
As of 16 November, mass events in outdoor spaces can take place at 100% capacity. Attendees over 18 years of age must provide proof of at least one dose of the vaccine, and wear a face mask during the event.
In New South Wales, face masks, proof of vaccination and Covid-19 Safe Check-in are not required. Retail and businesses are no longer required to have a Safety Plan.
In Victoria (and from 17 December, Queensland too) many leisure and entertainment facilities, such as live music venues, can only open for attendees and staff who are fully vaccinated or exempted. Capacity limits and social distancing will not apply.
South Australia is currently operating under Level 1 restrictions which means venues are limited to 75% capacity for seated events and 50% for standing events. Covid Management Plans required for events of more than 1,000 people. Masks are required for shared indoor public spaces.
Though Western Australia remains in a ‘state of emergency’, events and concerts are permitted to go ahead at full capacity. However, businesses must provide a Covid Safety Plan and maintain a contact register. Events with more than 500 patrons are required to complete a Covid Event Checklist or Plan.
In November, the Brazilian government increased the capacity limit for music venues from 70% to 100% with proof of vaccination.
In Ontario, Canada’s capital city and its biggest live music market, new restrictions came into effect on Sunday 19 December.
Under the new rules, music venues and many other indoor public settings will be limited to 50% capacity. Event spaces are required to close by 23:00.
Canada’s live music restrictions vary from province to province.
See the latest guidelines for each of the regions here: Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Yukon.
Restrictions vary across the country but the majority of regions are on step 3 (preparation) or step 4 (initial opening) of the national five-step reopening plan.
During step 3, seated concerts in closed spaces (such as music venues) can take place at 50% capacity if all attendees show a Mobility Pass verifying full vaccination. If there is food consumption, it is reduced to 30% capacity.
Seated concerts in open spaces (such as open-air venues) can take place at 60% capacity with a Mobility Pass. If there is food consumption, it is reduced to 40% capacity.
In non-seated closed spaces, events can take place with up to 100 people (sans Mobility Pass) or 500 people (with Mobility Pass). In non-seated open spaces, events can take place with up to 200 (sans Mobility Pass) or 1,000 (with Mobility Pass).
Attendees at all non-seated venues must be able to maintain social distancing (1m without food consumption, 1.5m with).
Masks are required in all public spaces.
Life is largely back to normal but regional lockdowns have been imposed every time there are new outbreaks of the virus.
Mask-wearing is compulsory, as is keeping a two-meter social distance, except in restaurants, cafes, offices, workplaces, gyms, shopping centres, beaches and public and entertainment parks, where a one-meter rule applies.
Outside, you must wear a mask unless exercising, eating or drinking, at a barbershop or salon, in a car with people from the same household, or if you’re alone.
Live entertainment and activities are permitted in restaurants, cafés and shopping malls. Events with free movement – such as standing concerts – are now allowed again, with a maximum of 5,000 people. Vaccination is required for these events.
At the beginning of November, the Japanese government eased its 10,000-capacity limit on mass gatherings such as concerts following a steady decline in coronavirus cases.
Events across the country can now admit 5,000 people, or 50% of capacity – whichever is larger – while large-scale spaces are permitted to welcome more than 10,000 spectators in Tokyo and other regions previously under a state or quasi-state of emergency. However, events that will involve fans shouting and cheering will be capped at 50% of capacity.
See more information on event restrictions here.
Mexico is currently following a colour-coded system (red, orange, yellow, green) which is updated every two weeks.
Currently, all states are coded yellow (resuming limited activities but with precaution) or green (resuming normal activities but with precaution).
Concerts can only take place in green-coded states. See the colour codes for states here.
Since the beginning of this month, New Zealand has been operating with a traffic light system, under which each region has been assigned a colour (green, orange or red) based on vaccination rates and the spread of Covid-19 in the community.
A region’s colour determines the set of restrictions by which it has to abide.
In regions assigned ‘red’, venues using vaccine certificates are limited to 100 people with one-metre social distancing. In ‘orange’ regions, these venues face no limits on gatherings at events, retail, hospitality. Venues that don’t use vaccine certificates are not permitted indoor or outdoor events under red or orange.
Every region aside from Northland will move to orange at 23:59 NZST on 30 December. These settings will stay in place until 17 January when the cabinet will review. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she expected many areas would move to green at that point.
As of 1 October 2021, South Africa is operating under an adjusted Alert Level 1 which indicates a “low Covid-19 spread with a high health system readiness”.
Under Alert Level 1, leisure and entertainment facilities, whether indoors or outdoors, must close at 23:00. Nightclubs are closed to the public.
Face masks are mandatory for every person when in a public place and 1.5 metres social distancing must be maintained.
Entertainment facilities are limited to a maximum capacity of 750 people for indoor venues and 2,000 people or less for outdoor venues – with social distancing. Smaller venues are limited to 50% capacity.
It was announced on 16 December that South Korea will reimpose curfews on businesses for an initial two weeks from Saturday 18 December.
Public places such as concert halls and cinemas will be permitted to operate until 22:00, while restaurants, cafes and other nightlife venues will have to close at 21:00.
The measures, announced on Thursday (16 December), come a month and a half after the government initiated a phased reopening plan. Amid record highs of Covid-19 infections, the cabinet has gradually rolled back the policy.
Restrictions may vary from state to state – check the US government website for the latest guidance.
New York City
On 13 December, governor Kathy Hochul announced that masks will be required to be worn in all indoor public places unless businesses or venues implement a vaccine requirement. This measure is effective until 15 January 2022, after which the state will re-evaluate based on current conditions.
California is fully open for business with no capacity limits or physical distancing requirements.
For indoor events with 1,000 or more or outdoor events with 10,000 or more, attendees age 3 and older must provide proof that they are fully vaccinated or have received a negative Covid-19 test.
Unvaccinated persons are required to wear masks in all indoor public settings. It is recommended that fully vaccinated people also wear masks in these settings.
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CTS share price peaks after N.America expansion
CTS Eventim’s share price is at an all-time high following its expansion into the North American ticketing market.
For the first time in the Munich-based company’s history, its share price has peaked at €65.80 – up almost 10% in the last five days.
The spike comes days after CTS, the second-largest ticketing company in the world, announced its goal to “establish an alternative to the dominant providers in the US and Canada” as it began selling tickets for its first US client, Big Apple Circus, on 26 September.
Before the start of the coronavirus pandemic, CTS was selling more than 250 million tickets for around 800,000 events every year, making it the world’s second-largest provider of ticketing solutions and the number one in Europe.
“North America is the most attractive market in the world for live entertainment and ticketing”
Klaus-Peter Schulenberg, CEO of CTS Eventim, says: “North America is the most attractive market in the world for live entertainment and ticketing. The platform eventim.com puts us in an ideal position to benefit from the restart there.
“The sale of tickets for Big Apple Circus is a first step on this journey. We are already in discussions with potential partners and customers about making our cutting-edge ticketing systems available to them soon.”
The Big Apple Circus is being co-produced by veteran entertainment executive Michael Cohl, a longtime promoter of bands like The Rolling Stones who briefly served as chairman of Live Nation in 2008.
Last year, CTS and Cohl formed the joint venture EMC Presents with the goal of bringing leading international artists to stages in the United States and Canada.
The move is CTS’s second foray into the US market. In 2009, Live Nation partnered with CTS Eventim to launch Live Nation Tickets, a platform intended to challenge Ticketmaster’s dominant position in North America.
Before it was launched, Live Nation pulled out of the deal and merged with Ticketmaster instead, a move which led to CTS Eventim suing for breach of contract. The disagreement was settled in arbitration in 2013.
This summer also saw the launch of Eventim Live Asia. The new company, headquartered in Singapore and led by CEO Jason Miller, focuses on the rapidly growing live entertainment markets in China, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines.
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Hearby announced as final associate sponsor for ILMC
Concert discovery app Hearby is the final associate sponsor of this year’s virtual International Live Music Conference (ILMC), the leading global gathering of live music professionals.
Hearby, produced by Area4 Labs, is an AI-driven live music tracker which helps users find – and safely enjoy – live music as it returns.
The app allows users across 100 cities in North America and the UK to filter both in-person and livestreamed events by genre, time period, postcode and artist.
This year, Hearby plans to expand to a further 100 European and global cities with a goal to “get a few more people to a lot more shows” by widely distributing and licensing the app’s live music show calendar widgets to news, travel and entertainment companies.
“We are very excited to partner with ILMC and support venues and artists across the globe,” says Ian Condry, chief anthropologist for Area4 Labs and professor of cultural anthropology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“We want to remove the friction for people finding live music events in the community”
“We want to remove the friction for people finding live music events in the community,” he added.
Hearby will be showcasing the product from a virtual exhibition area at ILMC, which delegates will be able to visit.
This year’s conference, dubbed ‘Virtually Live’, will welcome more than 1,000 registered delegates and host more speakers and meetings than ever before thanks to its limitless virtual format.
ILMC 33’s new features include video speed meetings, a digital trade exhibition, ‘watch again’ conference sessions, and live voting and polling. And for the first time in our history, non-members will be invited to attend ILMC, pointing to the busiest live music conference ever staged.
Irving Azoff, Bob Lefsetz, Sam Kirby Yoh, Emma Banks, Tim Leiweke and Klaus-Peter Schulenberg are among the confirmed speakers.
Driift expands into US, hires Adam Shore as GM
UK-based livestreaming company Driift is expanding its global operations with the recruitment of a new general manager for the US, Adam Shore, who will be tasked with expanding the business in North America.
Shore joins the US business from Red Bull and the Red Bull Music Academy where he was head of global programming for eight years, delivering event concepts for artists including Solange, Bjork, Brian Eno, FKA Twigs, Megan Thee Stallion and more.
Prior to Red Bull, Adam developed a range of music initiatives for Adult Swim and Toyota’s Scion brand; co-founded VICE Records (signing The Streets, Bloc Party, Justice, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Chromeo); managed artists Best Coast and Jay Reatard; produced the Blackened Music and Tinnitus events series; and spent seven years at TVT Records working with Guided By Voices, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Gil Scott-Heron and more.
“This is a key hire for Driift and an indication of our confidence that unique, high-quality livestream shows are here to stay,” says Driift CEO Ric Salmon, who founded the company with his ATC Management colleague Brian Message.
“As we look to increase Driift’s presence in North America, Adam’s experience and track record of working with artists to create bespoke and innovative live productions will be truly invaluable.”
“Adam’s track record of working with artists to create bespoke and innovative live productions will be truly invaluable”
Adam Shore, GM, Driift US, says: “In a little over six months, Ric and Brian have put together an incredible team and built a highly-collaborative artist-friendly business. Driift is already a byword for quality and innovation, and I look forward to helping US artists realise the potential of this new and exciting art form. We have big plans for 2021.”
After a number of successful ticketed live streams with artists including Niall Horan, Kylie Minogue, Nick Cave, Laura Marling and Biffy Clyro, Driift has recently branched out to a number of international markets including Australia, New Zealand and Italy.
Last month, the company announced an Australia/New Zealand launch which will be spearheaded by veteran promoter Paul Sloan, the founder of Supersonic Enterprises and managing director of booking agency Billions Australia.
While last week, the company held its first show outside of the UK – which was also its first foray into the genre of classical music – with celebrated Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli in northern Italy.
Believe in Christmas sold more than 75,000 tickets to fans in 120 global countries, earning the title of the most successful classical music live stream to date.
Read IQ‘s interview with Driift co-founder Ric Salmon on the surprising success of Bocelli’s stream, the newly proposed PRS tariffs, and why the format is here to stay, here.
TM promises review as TradeDesk lawsuits mount
Ticketmaster is facing multiple class-action lawsuits and a grilling by US senators as the fall-out from last week’s Toronto Star report continues.
The world’s largest ticket seller was accused by the Star, which conducted a joint investigation with CBC News, of enabling professional resellers to bulk-buy primary inventory and then sell it on the secondary market using its TradeDesk platform, with the covert approval of Ticketmaster employees. The company described the allegations as “categorically untrue”, denying it has “any program[me] in place to enable resellers to acquire large volumes of tickets at the expense of consumers”.
According to the Star, Canada’s Merchant Law Group – which announced in January it is suing Ticketmaster/Live Nation over alleged ‘drip fees’ levied on tickets – is now expanding the suit to include the TradeDesk allegations, while south of the border Hagens Berman is also inviting affected consumers to join a class action seeking damages over what it calls “Ticketmaster’s TradeDesk scalping scheme”.
US senators Jerry Moran and Richard Blumenthal – chairman and ranking member of the US Senate commerce subcommittee on consumer protection, product safety, insurance and data security, respectively – are also seeking answers from Ticketmaster, writing to Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino for clarification on the “serious” allegations made in the piece.
“Allegations of the harms to consumers made in this piece are serious and deserve immediate attention”
“CBC News reported that Ticketmaster […] recruits and employs professional ticket scalpers to circumvent the ticket purchasing limits on its own primary ticket sales platform in an effort to expand its ticket resale division,” the senators write. “According to the article, Ticketmaster utilizes [sic] a professional reseller program called TradeDesk, which provides a web-based inventory for scalpers to effectively purchase large quantities of tickets from Ticketmaster’s primary ticket sales website and resell these tickets for higher prices on its own resale platform.”
“Citing examples of TradeDesk users moving up to several million tickets per year, the allegations of the harms to consumers made in this piece are serious and deserve immediate attention,” they add.
Moran and Blumenthal have given Rapino a deadline of 5pm on 5 October to respond.
In a statement issued yesterday, Ticketmaster North America president Jared Smith again denied claims the company “has a secret programme to collude with scalpers at the expense of fans”, saying reports to the contrary are based on a “limited understanding of a Ticketmaster product called TradeDesk”.
“Let me be absolutely clear and definitive that Ticketmaster does not have, and has never had, any programme or product that helps professional resellers gain an advantage to buy tickets ahead of fans. Period,” says Smith (pictured). “We would never make anything like that, which would go against the very core of who we are and what we do. And that’s simply not what TradeDesk is.”
“Ticketmaster has never had any programme or product that helps professional resellers gain an advantage to buy tickets ahead of fans”
He continues: “TradeDesk is Ticketmaster’s version of an inventory management tool for professional ticket resellers (brokers). It is neither secret nor unique to Ticketmaster. Like StubHub’s product called Ticket Utils or Vivid Seat’s Skybox, TradeDesk is used by brokers to manage tickets they already have. All of these tools organise a broker’s ticket inventory so the tickets can be priced and listed for sale on various ticket marketplaces, not just on Ticketmaster as was suggested. These tickets could have come from Ticketmaster, from other ticketing systems or could have been purchased directly from a team, a venue or another reseller. TradeDesk is overwhelmingly used to manage season tickets for sporting events.
“TradeDesk is not a scheme to help Ticketmaster sell tickets twice. In fact, less than 4% of the concert tickets we sell each year are listed and sold again on Ticketmaster. What does make TradeDesk unique, however, is that it offers an integration with Ticketmaster for validating tickets that are uploaded to it. As a result, our integrated marketplace is fundamentally different than all the others – safer, more transparent and where each resale ticket is clearly identified and required to be 100% verified before ever being listed for sale.
“We are aware that many people don’t believe we should be working with ticket brokers at all. But as long as there is a massive disconnect between supply and demand in live event tickets, there is going to be a secondary market. Choosing not to participate would simply push resale back to those who care less than we do about artists and fans. The reality is, engaging brokers with a safer version of tools they could get from many other ticketing companies reduces fraud across the overall ticket market.”
Smith adds that Ticketmaster is “now in the process of reviewing all of our Ticketmaster accounts and expanding our review process to ensure all customers are in compliance with our terms of service”, which set out a limit on the number of tickets that can be purchased by any person, as well as prohibiting the creation of multiple accounts to get round the restrictions.
CBC News details Ticketmaster investigation
A joint undercover investigation by CBC News and the Toronto Star has alleged that Ticketmaster is enabling professional resellers to list and sell inventory via its purpose-built TradeDesk platform.
In July, two journalists posing as scalpers attended Ticket Summit 2018 – a convention for ticket resellers – at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. There, employees from Ticketmaster’s resale division were filmed recruiting resellers and promoting TradeDesk, which allows the bulk uploading and listing of large quantities of tickets.
The CBC story comes just weeks after Ticketmaster announced that it was closing down its European resale operations including Get Me In! and Seatwave.
CBC reports that some brokers using Ticketmaster’s software had “literally a couple hundred of accounts,” to “work around” ticket limits on shows, while activity on TradeDesk was not subject to the same policing or checks by the company’s “buyer abuse” division.
During a conference session titled “We appreciate your partnership”, CBC reports that Ticketmaster Resale director, Casey Klein, described TradeDesk as “the most powerful ticket sales tool. Ever.”
“We’re not trying to build a better mousetrap”
A similar message was supposedly delivered in March during an online video demonstration. CBC reports a Ticketmaster employee as having said: “We’ve spent millions of dollars on this tool. The last thing we’d want to do is get brokers caught up to where they can’t sell inventory with us… We’re not trying to build a better mousetrap.”
CBC News has also published an article investigating sales for a Bruno Mars show in Toronto this weekend, which argues that Ticketmaster is incentivised to resell tickets because it collects fees on both the primary and secondary transactions.
UPDATE 21 Sept: After issuing an initial statement to the CBC News, Ticketmaster has since categorically denied the claims. The full statement is below:
“It is categorically untrue that Ticketmaster has any program in place to enable resellers to acquire large volumes of tickets at the expense of consumers. Ticketmaster’s Seller Code of Conduct specifically prohibits resellers from purchasing tickets that exceed the posted ticket limit for an event. In addition, our policy also prohibits the creation of fictitious user accounts for the purpose of circumventing ticket limit detection in order to amass tickets intended for resale.
“A recent CBC story found that an employee of Ticketmaster’s resale division acknowledged being aware of some resellers having as many as 200 TradeDesk accounts for this purpose (TradeDesk is Ticketmaster’s professional reseller product that allows resellers to validate and distribute tickets to multiple marketplaces). We do not condone the statements made by the employee as the conduct described clearly violates our terms of service.
“The company had already begun an internal review of our professional reseller accounts and employee practices to ensure that our policies are being upheld by all stakeholders. Moving forward we will be putting additional measures in place to proactively monitor for this type of inappropriate activity.”
Every Tragically Hip record charts
All 17 albums by The Tragically Hip – including compilations, live album Live Between Us and their 1987 self-titled EP – have charted in Canada following the conclusion on 20 August of the band’s farewell Man Machine Poem tour.
The Hip’s final live performance at the Rogers K-Rock Centre (6,700-cap.) in Kingston, Ontario, was viewed by nearly 12 million Canadians – close to a third of the country – following state broadcaster CBC’s decision to show their emotional three-hour farewell set in full. Prime minister Justin Trudeau was among those in attendance for the show itself, described by one attendee as the “greatest single thing I’ve ever seen in my whole life”.
Unique in a week when new Frank Ocean release Blond has dominated both charts and column inches worldwide, The Tragically Hip’s greatest hits package, Yer Favourites, has unseated the Suicide Squad soundtrack to take the top spot in Canada, with 16 other releases also placing in Billboard’s Top 200 Canadian Albums chart, including most recent album Man Machine Poem at №6.
It is the first time Yer Favourites, which saw a 238% increase in consumption in the past week, has topped the chart.
The 15-date, Live Nation-promoted Man Machine Poem tour, announced in the aftermath of the diagnosis of frontman Gord Downie with terminal brain cancer, ran from 22 July to 20 August.