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AMG announces 3,000-cap. venue in Scotland

Academy Music Group (AMG) has expanded in Scotland with the acquisition of the 3,000-capacity Edinburgh Corn Exchange.

A category B-listed building, the Corn Exchange – which under AMG’s ownership becomes O2 Academy Edinburgh – was built in 1909 and over the last two decades has become one of Edinburgh’s largest standing, multi-purpose venues. Its reputation for live music was cemented with a sell-out show with Blur in 1999, with performers since then including Foo Fighters, Biffy Clyro, Oasis, Coldplay, Faithless, Arctic Monkeys, Garbage, Grace Jones, Radiohead, Paulo Nutini, Pulp and Calvin Harris.

“We’ve been keen to expand our O2 Academy brand in Scotland for some time and we’re delighted to now be in Edinburgh,” says Graham Walters, chief operating officer of Academy Music Group. “It’s an inspiring city with a thriving appetite for music and culture.

“We see huge potential with this venue: it fits with our ethos of investing in heritage buildings, with the right capacity of 3,000 to bring world-class entertainment to the city. It also has a number of diverse secondary spaces, flexible formats and configurations that we’ll be looking at over the coming months to complement programming and events in the main auditorium.

Gareth Griffiths, head of sponsorship for O2, adds: “The new O2 Academy Edinburgh is a brilliant addition to our O2 Academy estate. It’s a beautiful venue and as entertainment begins to return this further demonstrates O2 and Academy Music Group’s commitment to enhancing the live industry in Scotland, one of the best places to watch music in the UK.”

“We’re delighted to now be in Edinburgh. It’s an inspiring city with a thriving appetite for music and culture”

Paul DeMarco, managing director of former owner Marco’s Leisure, says: “When Marco’s Leisure bought the Corn Exchange in Chesser 22 years ago, we started with a plan to be Edinburgh’s go-to concert venue and ran over 300 live shows, as well as welcoming three million visitors to gigs, conferences, banquets, weddings, exhibitions and parties, creating one of the busiest and most successful venues in Scotland.

“We are happy to pass on the baton to the top professionals in the live music industry, who will ensure it continues to play a major role in Scotland’s events industry for many more years to come. Marco’s will continue to operate and expand its leisure business.”

Edinburgh Corn Exchange becomes O2 Academy Edinburgh from tomorrow (1 September), adding to the existing UK portfolio of now 20 venues owned and operated by Academy Music Group, including Scotland’s O2 Academy Glasgow and London’s O2 Academy Brixton and O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire.

Academy Music Group has already invested in brand-new in-house sound and lighting production facilities at O2 Academy Edinburgh ahead of forthcoming shows, which include Declan McKenna (3 September), Tom Grennan (9 September), Chic and Nile Rogers (21 September), Yungblud (11 October), DMA’s (18 and 19 October), Rag’n’Bone Man (26 October), the Snuts (28 October), Bullet for My Valentine (1 November), Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes (23 November), Bicep (7 December), The Charlatans (21 December), Chvrches (13 March 2022), Jake Bugg (21 March), the War on Drugs (18 April), Gary Numan (9 May), Marina (17 May) and Beck (14 Jun).

 


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Venues push for agent of change in Scotland

The owners of some of Glasgow’s leading venues have joined forces to drum up support for the agent-of-change principle north of the Scottish border, following the recent announcement from Westminster it plans to write agent of change into UK planning guidance.

The group – which includes King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut (300-cap.) owner DF Concerts, along with SWG3 (450-cap.), Sub Club (410-cap.), O2 Academy (2,500-cap.) and O2 ABC (1,362-cap.) – are calling for other venue owners, music fans and any other interested parties to push for the agent-of-change principle to be adopted by Scotland’s Local Government Committee by visiting AgentOfChangeScotland.wordpress.com by 2 February.

Unlike England and Wales, there is no protection in place in Scotland to protect established businesses from development in surrounding areas. Agent of change, if adopted, would make developers building new homes near Scottish venues responsible for addressing noise issues.

A spokesperson for the campaign tells IQ that while the so-called Spellar bill to introduce agent of change is backed by the British government, it will also need to be separately adopted by the devolved Scottish government to take effect in Scotland.

“Scottish planning guidance must be brought into line urgently”

DF Concerts & Events CEO Geoff Ellis says: “Right now, music venues in Scotland are under threat and we need to act quickly to protect their future. Our venues are vital – they’re incubators for future headline acts, bring communities together through live concerts and generate £334 million for the Scottish tourism economy – so its therefore crucial we make sure they remain open.

“But to do this, we need to be heard, which is why we’re asking for the public, venue owners, people working in the creative industries and everyone who wants to protect these venues to work with us in pushing for agent of change. The UK government in Westminster has now implemented this move but it doesn’t yet apply up here, so we need the people of Scotland to contact the Local Government Committee to ensure our venues have the same level of protection.”

“Mike Grieve, MD of Sub Club, adds: “Nightlife is a massive contributor to the cultural wellbeing of our city. It’s vital that Glasgow’s creative community is protected from the threat posed by developers, many of whom seem apathetic to the concerns of music and arts venues, some of which may well be forced to close due to inadequate soundproofing in proposed new buildings.

“The agent-of-change principle has been adopted into planning guidance in England and Wales, and has now passed through a second reading in the UK parliament. Scottish planning guidance must be brought into line urgently if we want to avoid losing the venues which create the very conditions which most appeal to visitors to the city in the first place.”

 


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O2 renews Academy naming agreement with AMG

O2 has agreed a new ten-year deal with Academy Music Group (AMG) and Live Nation, with the British telco retaining naming rights for AMG’s network of O2 Academy venues.

The agreement secures O2 – a subsidiary of Spanish multinational Telefónica – as the naming partner for AMG’s 19 venues in 13 UK cities, and follows a similar extension of its naming-rights deal with AEG’s The O2 in February.

The renewed alliance will see O2 double the number of 48-hour priority tickets made available to its customers for O2 Academy shows and Live Nation-promoted non-festival events across the UK, as well as offering fast-tracked entry, free cloakrooms, drinks offers and complimentary wifi.

The company also plans – as at The O2 – to install new technology to track crowd movements in all O2 Academy venues, generating data on crowd noise, calories burnt and the most popular songs and offering it as a free ‘digital momento’ after the show.

O2 CMO Nina Bibby comments: “We know our customers love live experiences, and O2 Academy venues are a huge part of the UK’s live music scene, which is why we’re extremely pleased to be continuing our longstanding relationship with both Live Nation and Academy Music Group.

“Continuing this deal with O2 ensures that these venues remain a vibrant part of their local communities and an integral part of Britain’s healthy live music market”

“Just under ten years ago we pioneered the pre-sale model with [O2] Priority Tickets, giving our customers exclusive early access to tickets for the best shows around. This new, long-term deal takes that even further, with double the number of tickets available for O2 customers to not just every show at 19 O2 Academy venues, but also all Live Nation shows across the UK.”

“We are incredibly proud of our partnership with O2, which has revolutionised the way brands work within the live sector,” adds Paul Latham, COO of Live Nation in the UK and Republic of Ireland. “This is more than just a naming rights deal. Over the last nine years, we have worked tirelessly together to build the O2 Academy brand, investing in these iconic buildings and giving O2 customers access to millions of Priority tickets.

“Close to four million live music fans come through O2 Academy doors each year to see the artists they love across the UK. Continuing this deal with O2 ensures that these venues remain a vibrant part of their local communities and an integral part of Britain’s healthy live music market.”

The O2–AMG/Live Nation partnership dates from late 2008, with all former Carling Academy venues rebranded on 1 January 2009. Three former Mama venues acquired by Live Nation in August 2015 were renamed as O2 Academies in October that year.

 


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