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Europe’s largest K-pop festival set for UK edition

Europe’s largest K-pop festival is heading to the UK next year for a three-day event at London’s O2 arena (cap. 21,000).

The inaugural edition of Kpop.Flex took place in Frankfurt at the weekend, with organisers reporting that more than 70,000 tickets were sold in 84 countries.

The festival will return to Germany next year and will also launch in the UK between 22 and 24 September.

Staged by K-Pop Europa in partnership with PK Events, the event will offer “a range of activities [for festival-goers] to immerse themselves in Korean culture”.

“In recent years, K-Pop has taken the world by storm and so this is a huge milestone for us”

In addition, the 2023 London edition of the K-pop festival will also play host to the first-ever Kpop.Flex Awards For Emerging Artists, which is set to take place on 23 September 2023.

“We’re so excited to be hosting Europe’s largest-ever K-Pop festival here at The O2 in September 2023,” said Steve Sayer, VP and GM at the O2. “In recent years, K-Pop has taken the world by storm and so this is a huge milestone for us.

“We can’t wait to build on the success of previous hugely popular K-Pop performances at the venue, and welcome some of the world’s top K-Pop acts and their legions of fans to the O2 for a fantastic weekend festival event that will take over the full campus at the O2,” he added.

More details about Kpop.Flex London 2023 and its accompanying awards show are set to be revealed in the coming months.

 


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New Bosses name one thing industry must change

Alumni from IQ Magazine‘s most recent class of New Bosses have identified areas of improvement for the international live music business.

A handful of the next-gen leaders shared their thoughts during Meet the New Bosses: The Class of 2021, at last month’s International Live Music Conference (ILMC).

Theo Quiblier, head of concerts at Two Gentlemen in Switzerland, believes the one thing the industry needs to get better at is normalising failure.

“We are in a fantastic industry where everyone is signing the new top artist or selling out venues or sealing huge deals with festivals but that’s just the tip of the iceberg,” he says. “I feel that we’re all a bit afraid of saying, ‘I went on sale with my favourite band and it didn’t go well’ – as simple as that.

“I feel that we’re all a bit afraid of saying, ‘I went on sale with my favourite band and it didn’t go well'”

“As a promoter, I could say, ‘Oh, I work with this top band,’ and people think, ‘That’s amazing, he must be rich,’ and, in reality, it’s your biggest loss of the year. We need little reality checks, and to say ‘I’m doing my best but I’m not the best’. Sharing insecurities is great because failure happens to everybody.”

Flo Noseda-Littler, agency assistant at Wasserman Music (formerly Paradigm UK), called for better pay for junior staff so more people can viably start their careers in the industry.

“Fair salaries for junior staff and internships so that it enables people in those positions to live in the cities in which they work,” comments Noseda-Littler. “By providing a free internship or a low paid job, you’re cutting off so many people who don’t have the ability to still live with their parents or be subsidised by their parents. And then you’re just reducing the number of people you can recruit and missing out on potentially really ambitious and amazing people.”

Anna Parry, partnerships manager at the O2 in London, echoed Noseda-Littler’s thoughts, adding that companies also need to improve their recruitment strategies in order to reach a more diverse pool of talent.

“This is a job that costs you a lot of time at your desk and a lot of time in your head”

“Companies really need to put more effort into understanding why people aren’t applying for these jobs, and then they need to create a lower barrier of entry for those types of people,” says Parry. “It’s not just saying, ‘Oh okay, well we posted the job on a different forum than we usually would’. It’s going to take a lot more of that to actually make a difference. We need to focus on that because it’s important our industry is representative of the artists we represent.”

Age Versluis (promoter at Friendly Fire in the Netherlands) on the other hand, is petitioning for a four-day workweek: “This is a job that costs you a lot of time at your desk and a lot of time in your head. Since Covid, we’re seeing a lot of people burning out and having trouble getting to that fourth or fifth gear.

“We forget that moving shows for two years to the same months is quite stressful. I think we could use some extra ‘me’ time.”

Tessie Lammle, agent at UTA in the US, echoed her peers’ points, adding: “I was going to say diversity or work-life balance but Theo’s point is huge. I think the younger generation is getting much better at [sharing insecurities].”

Each of the panellists appeared as part of IQ Magazine‘s New Bosses 2021, an annual list celebrating the brightest talent aged 30 and under in the international live music business. See the full list of the distinguished dozen here.

 


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Capacity boost for AMG’s revamped O2 City Hall

Academy Music Group (AMG) has breathed new life into O2 City Hall Newcastle following a significant revamp.

The 95-year-old venue has benefited from a brand-new, state-of-the-art retractable seating system, major restoration works and enhancements in house sound and lighting production.

The multi-functional auditorium has increased its capacity from 2,135 to 2,600, while also offering a 2,000-cap fully seated option with improved comfort and sightlines.

“When we acquired O2 City Hall Newcastle back in May 2019, we knew that it needed significant adjustments to reinstate it to its former glory and get it firmly back on the schedule for major touring acts” says AMG’s chief operating officer Graham Walters.

“It’s a stunning room, one that has seen the biggest names in rock and pop over the last four decades. Investment in modern facilities – including the option to have an all-standing auditorium – had to be on the agenda to offer a flexible space, as well as keeping a seated configuration. This way, we can hugely extend the variety of live music and events to tour in Newcastle and make sure we preserve its future for people and the community to enjoy for generations to come.”

“We’re thrilled to be part of this next phase in the venue’s story”

Opened in 1927, the Grade-II-listed venue is one of Newcastle’s first dedicated concert venues, which also houses an original Harrison & Harrison organ. As part of its revamp, AMG has also installed new additional toilets and refurbished the basement bar and a new extra bar area at balcony level, as well as a brand-new LED ceiling-lighting system in the main auditorium, plus a significant investment in a full production install of PA and stage lighting systems.

“This development paves the way for many more iconic performances to take the stage at O2 City Hall Newcastle,” adds Gareth Griffiths, director of partnerships and sponsorship for Virgin Media O2. “We’re thrilled to be part of this next phase in the venue’s story.”

Upcoming shows at the venue include Florence + The Machine, Paul Weller, Foals, Keith Urban, Gary Numan, Michael Kiwanuka, Roget Daltrey, The Prodigy, Ian Brown, Kaiser Chiefs, Sigrid and Placebo.

O2 City Hall Newcastle is part of AMG’s portfolio of venues across the UK, which includes London’s O2 Academy Brixton and O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, among others.

AMG has also enlisted the support of Liverpool-based Adlib to co-design and install a high-end touring specification for its audio and lighting systems at the 3,000-cap O2 Academy Edinburgh, its newest Scottish venue

 


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Immersive music startup MelodyVR acquires Napster

Live music virtual reality platform MelodyVR is acquiring Rhapsody International, which operates as music subscription service Napster.

The US$70 million acquisition will eventually combine Napster’s library of over 90 million audio tracks and Melody VR’s catalogue of virtual live music shows, to create a platform where users can stream music and experience immersive live performances.

“For music fans today, live and recorded music are intrinsically linked. We are as keen to see our favourite artists perform live as we are to listen to their albums,” says MelodyVR CEO Anthony Matchett.

“Our purchase of Napster, one of the music industry’s original disruptors, is born out of our wish to deliver the world’s foremost music experience, available seamlessly across audio and visual media and in turn presenting a truly next-generation music service.”

Napster CEO Bill Patrizio commented: “This is a tremendous outcome for two organizations with complementary platforms and loyal audiences, and we could not be more excited to be moving forward as one company.”

“Our wish is to deliver the world’s foremost music experience… a truly next-generation music service”

“The product, technology and cultural synergies of Napster and MelodyVR will bring tremendous innovation for music lovers, artists and the entire music industry. Good things come from being together, and we look forward to creating a powerful platform that combines our strengths and offers an even wider range of content to consumers, creators and advertisers.”

The UK-based MelodyVR broadcast its first live concert in virtual reality in 2018 with Liam Payne in London, after releasing its app – touted as the world’s first dedicated virtual reality (VR) music platform – in 2019, and subsequently partnering with O2 in the UK.

Since Covid-19 hit the industry, the company has delivered a digital edition of Wireless festival in London and live music VR series, Live from LA, which has featured artists including Cypress Hill, Kesha, John Legend and Tori Kelly.

The shows were available to watch in 360° for free via the MelodyVR app and VR headsets.

MelodyVR and Napster, which is currently 84% owned by RealNetworks, will operate independently for the foreseeable future.


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The O2 Arena opens as NHS training facility

The O2 Arena in London has been made available free of charge to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) as a training facility, starting on Easter Sunday (12 March).

Initially operating from 12 April to 29 June 2020, staff trained at the O2 will go on to work at the NHS ‘Nightingale’ field hospital at the ExCel centre in east London.

The O2 – the world’s leading indoor arena – says that while becoming an NHS training centre “will require further rescheduling of events booked to take place during this period, the priority for us all at this time is to help save lives, and we know our customers will understand our desire to support the NHS in this way.”

“We know our customers will understand our desire to support the NHS in this way”

The rest of the O2 remains closed to the public until further notice.

Mark Evans, CEO of the AEG-run venue’s naming partner, O2, comments; “Mobile connectivity is more important than ever before, and we’re continuing to work hard to keep the country connected…

“From providing additional capacity for the NHS, to working with our partners to utilise venues such as the O2, we’re committed to giving customers and key workers the network they need to keep in contact with those closest to them.”

 


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Report: 5G to bring £2.3bn to live industry by 2030

Research from mobile operator O2 has shown that 5G, or super high-speed mobile internet, could be set to boost the live entertainment industry by as much as £2.3 billion in the next ten years.

In the wake of the launch of O2’s 5G mobile internet in October 2019, and the concomitant partnership with music-focused virtual reality platform MelodyVR, the company commissioned consultancy Ovum to conduct the 5th Generation Entertainment report.

Up to 100 times faster than 4G internet and with the capacity for 1 million users per square kilometre (as opposed to 4,000 with 4G), the rollout of 5G presents many opportunities for the live industry, as will be discussed in detail at the 5G workshop at the International Live Music Conference in March.

The report findings show how 5G will improve fan experience and engagement through the enhancement of virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), live streaming and smart ticketing.

Fans unable to attend a show will be able to purchase a high-quality livestream and watch in VR or AR. Viewers will also be able to personalise the experience, opting to focus on specific elements of a live event, enabling brands to target advertising. O2 is also looking into the possibility of broadcasting live through high-definition cameras on British television network ITV.

Pre-show opportunities include AR-assisted shopping that allows fans to virtually try on merchandise and order for collection at the show. Similar advance ordering systems can also apply to food and drink purchases, with real-time analytics allowing fans to find the quietest bar, easily navigate around venues and meet up with friends.

“5G will revolutionise live entertainment”

Event organisers may also capitalise on the superfast network to send personalised highlight reels directly to fans’ devices after the show.

“Through our sponsorships with England Rugby, The O2 Arena and 20 iconic O2 Academy venues, we aim to engage fans with relevant, useful and exciting experiences before, during and after a live event,” comments O2’s head of sponsorship Gareth Griffiths, who will present ILMC’s 5G workshop along with AEG Europe’s David Jones, O2/Telefónica UK’s Brendan O’Reilly and production manager Chris Vaughan on 5 March.

“The low-latency and superfast connectivity of 5G, underpinned by fan insights, bold branding and customer benefits, enables us to tailor these experiences to the diverse audiences we see at our venues in real-time.

“Whether for an England Rugby fan at Twickenham, a Kano fan at O2 Victoria Warehouse Manchester or an Elton John fan at The O2, 5G will revolutionise live entertainment.”

David Jones, senior vice president of IT at AEG, owner of the O2 Arena, adds that 5G is set to particularly enhance the use of augmented reality and virtual reality technology.

“The O2 is at the forefront of O2’s 5G rollout in the UK, and I’m eager to see how the creative people who produce the hundreds of events each year at The O2 will embrace 5G and the technologies it enables, and use it to deliver fun and engaging experiences for fans,” says Jones.

 


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CTS Eventim partners with O2

Live entertainment behemoth CTS Eventim has entered into a multi-year live entertainment partnership with O2, the core brand of German telecommunications company Telefónica Deutschland.

Under the new deal, customers of O2, which has a long-term partnership with AEG in the UK, will gain access to exclusive pre-sales, free streaming and a brand experience at Eventim-promoted events. O2 will also use Eventim Brand Connect media channels, including newsletters, display ads, banner advertising and social media pages to broadcast its message.

The partnership is designed to run for several years.

“By forging this new partnership between CTS Eventim and O2, we are entering into a long-term strategic partnership,” says Eventim CEO Klaus-Peter Schulenberg.

“We have gained a strong partner in CTS Eventim, one who pursues the same philosophy as ourselves”

“It is a prime example of how we can create great products and unique value for our partners and customers with our combination of many years’ experience in the live events business and our ticketing operations.”

“We have gained a strong partner in CTS Eventim, one who pursues the same philosophy as ourselves, namely to do our best for the best,” comments Wolfgang Metze, chief consumer officer at Telefónica Deutschland. “For O2, these are the customers, for CTS Eventim the concertgoers, and our aim is to draw their attention to our brand by offering fantastic moments.”

Dr Frithjof Pils, vice president live entertainment and international growth and managing director of Eventim Brand Connect, adds that the collaboration is “probably the biggest branding partnership in the German live entertainment industry”.

The deal signals the latest move by O2, the naming rights partner of London’s 20,000-capacity O2 Arena, into the live entertainment space, following its partnership with music-focused virtual reality company MelodyVR in October. It is also the naming partner of most UK venues operated by Academy Music Group (majority owned by Live Nation), including the O2 Academy Brixton, O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire and O2 Forum Kentish Town.

 


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MelodyVR expands user reach with O2 deal

Music virtual reality (VR) company MelodyVR has announced an exclusive UK partnership with mobile operator O2, the title sponsor of the 20,000-capacity O2 Arena in London.

The partnership was unveiled today (Thursday 17 October) as O2 launches its 5G mobile internet. Through the collaboration, users of the mobile network’s ‘5th generation of music’ custom plan will receive 12 months free access to the MelodyVR platform, as well as an Oculus Go VR headset.

The deal with O2, one of the largest mobile networks in the country, with a customer base of 25 million, is part of MelodyVR’s goal to “significantly increase” its audience, according to a press statement.

“O2’s 5th Generation network has the power to enable an entirely new suite of technological advances and experiences that will revolutionise how we all engage with technology,” says MelodyVR CEO Anthony Matchett.

“We look forward to welcoming even more fans to the MelodyVR platform”

“We’re thrilled to be partnering with O2 to deliver incredible music experiences to their customers and we look forward to welcoming even more fans to the MelodyVR platform.”

O2’s chief marketing officer, Nina Bibby, adds: “Partnering with companies like MelodyVR creates a perfect way for O2 customers to enjoy virtual reality like never before – experiencing legendary gigs from around the world, reliving ones they’ve been to and seeing performances they can’t get to.

“At O2, we’ve always been a customer-led business, with a rich heritage in live music, so the opportunity to create unique experiences like this with MelodyVR, that bring customers closer to the things they love, is fantastic.”

Launched in 2018, MelodyVR has a large portfolio of VR shows from the likes of the Streets, Post Malone, Lewis Capaldi, the Chainsmokers, Kiss, Liam Payne, Jamiroquai and Kelly Clarkson.

 


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AMG expands venue portfolio in Manchester

Academy Music Group, the UK’s leading venue operator, has entered into a lease agreement with Manchester’s Victoria Warehouse, adding the property to its 19-strong venue portfolio.

The 300,000sqft events and hospitality venue – of which AMG will lease a 90,000sqft music and conference space, including the 3,500-capacity auditorium – will be renamed O2 Victoria Warehouse Manchester as of 1 September 2018.

Located in Stretford, the venue was originally home to two monumental warehouses, built by the Liverpool Warehousing Company in 1925 and 1936, which dominated Manchester’s canalside. It was renovated as a venue in 2009, with multiple rooms and various formats and configurations.

“Manchester’s warehouses are so important to the history of the city. They give Manchester its local distinctiveness, identity and character,” comments Graham Walters, CEO of Academy Music Group, whose shareholders include Live Nation (LN-Gaiety and Metropolis Music) and SJM Concerts.

“We are delighted to welcome this stunning venue in a prime city to our group”

“Iconic venues are the lifeblood of what we do, and we have significant expertise in running some of the most historically important entertainment venues in the world. We are delighted to welcome this stunning venue in a prime city to our group, especially as Manchester is such an integral part of the UK’s live music scene.”

Gareth Griffiths, head of sponsorship at O2, which recently renewed its naming-rights deal with AMG, adds: “The new O2 Victoria Warehouse Manchester is a brilliant addition to our O2 Academy estate and further demonstrates O2 and Academy Music Group’s commitment to live music in Manchester. This expands Priority Tickets for O2 customers 48 hours before general release, and we can’t wait for more late nights in this fantastic city of musical heritage.”

Venue owner James Cohen, of VW Group, comments: “We are delighted to have entered into a lease agreement with Academy Music Group for our large music and conference space […]. It’s a fantastic move for our site to add both live music and club shows by partnering with AMG.

“The VW Group will continue to deliver all corporate event business and to place music shows at the venue, thus working hand-in-hand to drive profitability. This deal is testament to our vision to create one of the most iconic events and hire spaces in Manchester.”

 


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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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