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IPM 13: Don’t Stop Me Now: The consequences of show cancellations

Eps managing director Okan Tombulca introduced the session explaining that, although production-related cancellations were to form the bulk of the panel, the issues thrown up by the coronavirus (Covid-19) were now impossible to ignore.

Two of the panellists were forced to drop out for coronavirus-related reasons, as GMC Events’ Graham MacVoy was called to an emergency meeting and Benjamin Hetzer of FKP Scorpio joined by Skype due to a travel ban.

ASM Global’s Tim Worton said he was “blown away” by the number of reasons for event cancellations nowadays. Worton referred to the “fairly significant” bushfire crisis that gripped Australia until only a few weeks ago. Events including Lost Paradise, Day on the Green and Secret Sounds’ Fall Festival were cancelled due to poor air quality as a result of the fires.

Although not much can be done to prepare for this kind of natural disaster, said Worton, promoters and others have to be aware that cancelling may be the only option.

Hetzer spoke about different kinds of weather-related cancellations, referencing the storms that lead to the axing of Scorpio festival in 2016 and 2017. Hetzer stressed the importance of cooperation between organisers and the authorities in these situations to ensure the safe evacuation of any site.

“We want to work out how to sort things out before getting to that point”

In terms of deciding to call off an event, Martin Goebbels of Miller Insurance Services said insurers have to trust the judgement of production crews, promoters and local authorities. “I would always advise getting insurance as early as possible,” said Goebbels, emphasising that insurance should be used as a backstop, and not relied upon too much. “This is not an insurance panel, but an anti-insurance panel,” said Goebbels. “We want to work out how to sort things out before getting to that point.”

Worton said there is much more emphasis on verifying who goes in through the back door nowadays, as well as security and safety measures in general. “Productions are getting so big and complex, that the potential for problems increases exponentially,” he said.

Delegates from countries in Eastern Europe discussed the variations with health and safety practices in different countries, with issues such as corruption, market size and local regulations affecting events of all sizes.

Talk then turned to coronavirus, which has caused recent show cancellations in Asia, as well as in France, Switzerland and Italy. Tombulca stated the virus is throwing up lots of questions but no answers at the moment.

“It’s such a nuanced subject,” said Worton, referring to the different restrictions on mass gatherings and cancealltions of some shows. The on sales for a number of tours are being pushed back, said Worton, which “looks like it is going to be a recurring theme.”

Tour accountant Mike Donovan spoke from the floor saying that even losing a fraction of shows in a tour has a massive impact on profits. “It’s impossible to say what’s going to happen, but we will likely have a very serious downturn,” he said.

“As an industry, we should set a positive example and not overreact”

ITB agent Steve Zapp said it is very much about approaching the situation on a daily, or even hourly, basis at the moment.

Tombulca asked that if it came to a worst case scenario of shows being stopped for the next six months, who would be prepared? A resounding no came from the room, as different delegates explained that although board-level meetings, new procedures and hygiene standards were being put in place, uncertainty remained high.

“This is an unprecedented worldwide situation,” added Goebbels. Asked how the insurance industry is reacting to coronavirus, Goebbels explained that most UK insurers are excluding coronavirus from cancellation insurance cover from now on, saying that he imagined it would be the same for a lot of insurers elsewhere.

Tombulca wrapped up summarising the effects that coronavirus is having across different sectors of the industry, but shared information from a senior UK medical advisor saying there is “no clear rationale” for closing events to prevent the spread of the virus.

“As an industry, we should set a positive example and not overreact,” said Tombulca, stressing that currently in most countries, such as the UK, Germany and the Netherlands, no cancellations are being made because of Covid-19. “Let’s hope we can resume normal business soon.”

Tombulca added, “we need to prepare ourselves as much as possible for all potential scenarios, but at the end of the day, people need us and we are a very positive industry – we are working in the best industry of the world and make a lot of people happy every day.”


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Eps appoints new CEO of Scandinavian arm

Event infrastructure supplier eps has expanded its management team, appointing Fredrik Zetterberg as CEO of its Scandinavian division.

Zetterberg joins eps from esports promoter Dreamhack, where he headed up the event operations and logistics department. He previously worked as head of production event technologies and sales at Swedish trade fair organiser Stockholmsmässan.

Bo Teichert, who co-founded eps Scandinavia, will focus on operations and existing customer relationships.

“I am delighted to welcome Fredrik Zetterberg to our eps family,” comments Okan Tombulca, managing director of the eps group, who is among those speaking at the ILMC Production Meeting (IPM) on Tuesday 3 March.

“He brings a wealth of experience, in-depth knowledge, and an understanding of all aspects of our industry. With Zetterberg in our team, we will be able to better meet the needs of our customers in the growing Scandinavian market. By taking this step, we as the eps group are also consistently proceeding our path of steady growth.”

“With Zetterberg in our team, we will be able to better meet the needs of our customers in the growing Scandinavian market”

“We look back on ten successful years and great projects, including Way Out West, Sweden Rock Festival, Bravalla, Lollapalooza Stockholm, Eurovision Song Contest and Ed Sheeran’s concert in Reykjavik,” adds Teichert. “I am pleased to welcome Fredrik Zetterberg as CEO to continue this success story of eps scandinavia.”

Founded in 2010, eps Scandinavia has offices in Stockholm, Sweden, as well as its head offices in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Headquartered in Germany, eps now operates in ten subsidiaries worldwide, including a recently launched Candian division.

Representatives from over 25 countries are attending this year’s IPM, which takes place on the first day of the International Live Music Conference in London. Key issues to be discussed at IPM include event cancellation, the evolution of stage production and expanding markets.

 


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IPM gears up for 13th year

The 2020 edition of the ILMC Production Meeting (IPM) is taking place in a week’s time in London, hosted by Rod Laver Arena’s Meagan Walker and featuring representatives from 25 different countries.

Now in its thirteenth year, IPM has established itself as a leading gathering for international production professionals, hosting over 200 of the world’s top production managers; health, safety and security specialists; crewing companies and production suppliers over the years.

Eps CEO Okan Tombulca is heading up a panel on show cancellations, along with panellists Tim Worton (ASM Global), Benjamin Hetzer (FKP Scorpio), Martin Goebbels (Miller Insurance) and Graham MacVoy (GMC Events). The session will look at the many reasons for cancellations of both indoor and outdoor events and the best ways to manage them, using case studies from some recent “successful” event cancellations.

The changing nature of stage production and design will form the focus of a panel chaired by Sportpaleis Group’s Coralie Berael, which will look in particular at how technology has changed show production in recent years. Mark Ager from Tait and Constantin Covaliu from Emagic will join Berael on the panel, along with international production manager Wob Roberts, who is currently working with Sam Smith, having previously served as Robbie Williams’ production manager.

“There is going to be an amazing amount of experience in the room”

IPM delegates will also hear about the challenges of working in expanding markets in a session led by Star Live’s Roger Barrett and featuring Brigitte Fuss of Megaforce, Sanjin Corovic from Production Pool and Helen Smith from Helsprod Ltd.

Grassroots venues will be in the spotlight for the Small Venues: Does size really matter? panel, featuring speakers from the Small Venues Network, Forum Karlin, DDW Music and Eventim Apollo.

Elsewhere in the IPM programme, Carl A H Martin will lead a discussion on the topical Martyn’s Law, representatives from transport company Pieter Smit will broach the issue of sustainable trucking and a yoga session will help delegates to relax.

“The IPM allows us all to talk about what involves the production of live music today,” comments Carl A H Martin, chairman of the IPM Advisory Group.

“We can talk sensibly, safely, internationally and, as always, be ahead of the ‘trends’. Truth is, most of the time we set them…

“If you are not amongst those from 25 countries that have already signed up, visit the website and get to it.”

“Although it is an honour to be producing this event, I wish I could attend as a delegate,” adds IPM producer, Sytske Kamstra. “There is going to be an amazing amount of experience in the room.”

IPM is taking place at the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington, London on Tuesday 3 March, the opening day of the International Live Music Conference.

 


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The Crystal Ball: Predictions for 2019

IQ: Panellists, what do you anticipate being next year’s greatest challenges, both for you and for the wider industry?

Emma Bownes, vice-president of programming, AEG Europe: I think most of the industry is concerned about the impact of Brexit on the music industry – will it lead to restrictions on travel for British acts?

The government have to make sure that musicians, particularly smaller ones, can continue to tour the EU easily without the need for visas – and similarly for European artists – while they develop as artists and build their fan-bases and careers.

Beverley Whitrick, strategic director, Music Venue Trust: So much attention is being focused on Brexit that it makes it even more difficult to advance with the changes needed to protect the grassroots of the music industry. Not surprisingly, enormous and necessary energy is being spent trying to safeguard international touring and ensuring that the UK continues to be a leader in music.

Trying to reconcile what is needed at home with these global concerns poses the greatest challenge for 2019.

Stephan Thanscheidt, managing director, FKP Scorpio: A challenge faced by both the touring and festival sectors is the rising costs in all areas, such as personnel, production, administrative expenses and, especially, artist fees. Of course, ticket prices cannot – and should not – be scaled limitlessly, so we need to find ways to optimise and allocate these expenses.

Okan Tombulca, managing director, eps: I think our biggest challenge will be the same as for the rest of the industry: labour. Europe-wide, there is a huge problem with the availability of staff – security, stagehands, event co-ordinators – as well as equipment.

“Europe-wide, there is a huge problem with the availability of staff”

Kim Bloem, vice-head promoter, Mojo Concerts: The biggest issue over the last two years is the lack of personnel and materials for the number of events taking place from May to September. The number of shows, festivals and special events is rapidly increasing in this period, and therefore building crew, technicians, riggers, security personnel, etc., get exhausted because they’re working crazy hours.

We need to make sure live music remains a safe working place for everybody, but getting the number of people needed is very challenging.

Okan Tombulca: I think 2019 will be the biggest year in 20 years in terms of the number of events going on.

Jules de Lattre, senior agent, United Talent Agency: The issue of ticket pricing, both on the primary and secondary markets. Although significant progress was made in 2018, how to combat illicit secondary-ticketing practices will continue to be an issue we deal with on a daily basis.

As the secondary market becomes more regulated but not fully eradicated, will a more widely used and accepted model of dynamic pricing on the primary market emerge?

IQ: How about the biggest opportunities?

Jules de Lattre: As music consumption on ISPs explodes, there will be increasing opportunities for fans to fully connect with artists in the live space.

Mark Yovich, president, Ticketmaster InternationalThere are more opportunities than ever before to empower artists to connect with their fans and harness their live experience. Whether that’s through digital tickets or facial recognition, we are continuing to innovate in a wide range of products that are changing the landscape of the live business.

“Hopefully, 2019 will see further action to ensure that live music is accessible to the widest possible audience”

Emma Bownes: This year saw a great deal of progress made in terms of restricting the ability of professional ticket resellers to acquire and resell large amounts of tickets with a huge mark-up. The British government introduced new legislation to ban resellers from using bots to purchase tickets in bulk, secondary ticketing sites Get Me In! and Seatwave are closing down, and the O2 and the SSE Arena, Wembley, both introduced a digital ticketing system featuring a dynamically changing barcode system that ensures tickets cannot be copied or shared on secondary sites.

Hopefully, 2019 will see further action to ensure that live music is accessible to the widest possible audience.

IQ: Can you identify any key market trends you expect to see emerging next year?

Stephan Thanscheidt: Concentration of power. Next to the continuously evolving activities of FKP Scorpio in Germany and abroad, as well as the strategic partnership with AEG, the live sector of [FKP majority owner] CTS Eventim is growing further due to purchases in Italy and Spain. The same can, of course, be observed at Live Nation and other international companies.

Beverley Whitrick: More grassroots music venues will close unless people who claim to be supportive actually start demonstrating that support through their actions.

Stephan Thanscheidt: Another observation is the formation of investors and investment groups who don’t have a background as a promoter buying up festivals all over Europe.

“Apart from music and comedy, we see the market for speaking events growing”

Mark Yovich: One word: mobile. We’ve been saying it for years, but 2018 saw a huge spike in the percentage of mobile traffic and, more importantly, mobile ticket sales. We think mobile-first with everything we do, from how fans discover events through to digital methods of entry.

Beverley Whitrick: Local activism and campaigns to support music will grow. Both artists and audiences are getting more vocal about the value of live music to communities, local economies, and health and wellbeing.

Emma Bownes: Alongside the music programming you’d expect to see at both venues, we’re seeing a lot of shows coming through the O2 and The SSE Arena, Wembley, that are aimed at more of a family audience: Hugh Jackman, Cirque du Soleil, NBA, Harlem Globetrotters, Strictly Come Dancing, WWE…

We’re also hosting Superstars of Gymnastics at the O2 – a major new showcase of the sport, featuring Simone Biles and Max Whitlock.

Kim Bloem: My colleague Gideon Karting promoted a show with K-pop band BTS this year, which was huge, so that is definitely something that we expect to see emerging in the market in the next few years.

Also, apart from music and comedy – the latter of which is a genre that sees massive audience interest – we see the market for speaking events growing. This year, Barack Obama did a couple of events, and I hope we can have his wife Michelle come to the Netherlands at some point. We can hopefully embrace this kind of role model and learn from them how we can all contribute to a better world.

“I’d like to see much better communication between all sectors of our industry”

IQ: What are you most looking forward to in 2019?

Mark Yovich: The Sunday night at Reading Festival for Foo Fighters. Their London Stadium gig was amazing and I can’t wait to see them again.

Emma Bownes: Sheffield Wednesday turning things around and making it to the play-offs.

Jules de Lattre: We have a very exciting summer of major international festivals planned for Christine and the Queens in 2019. Considering how strong and unique her live show is, I expect the summer will have a significant impact on this campaign. I’m excited for festivalgoers to see and experience this incredible show.

Mark Yovich: Muse and Fleetwood Mac are some other great stadium shows I’m looking forward to, as well as Billie Eilish at Shepherd’s Bush Empire in early 2019.

Beverley Whitrick: Continuing to meet amazing people whose passion for music makes the work we do worthwhile.

IQ: Finally, what, if anything, could the industry do better together in 2019?

Okan Tombulca: In Germany, we have a twice-yearly meeting of all festival promoters and service companies, to share information about health and safety and develop one set of rules for the whole country. I’d like to see much better communication between all sectors of our industry, to share knowledge, help each other and work better together.

“Anyone in the business should do whatever they can to provide support to those in need”

Kim Bloem: Be a bit nicer to each other, work more closely together, and try to reduce the amount of paperwork and covering our own asses all the time. If we work hard and well, we should be able to trust each other’s judgment.

Jules de Lattre: Conversations about mental health are becoming more commonplace and I hope will continue to do so. Anyone in the business should look around them and do whatever they can to provide reliable health and wellness support to those in need.

Gender diversity and equality in the music industry as a whole – from the presence of female-fronted acts at festivals to gender pay gaps and fairer access to leadership roles in the music industry – will also remain a major talking point in the year to come.

Mark Yovich: Accessibility is a huge issue in our industry and we’re working closely with Attitude is Everything on their Ticketing Without Barriers campaign to make sure more is being done.

There seems to be some great momentum, and now is the time for us all to come together to find solutions to ensure equal access to live entertainment.

Stephan Thanscheidt: We need to stand united against political and societal injustice.

Music is being used by groups who are against democratic values and human rights – so why shouldn’t we do the same for freedom and peace?

 


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eps launches UK business

eps, the German-headquartered, multinational event infrastructure supplier, is to open its first branch in the UK.

Led by managing director Okan Tombulca, eps supplies infrastructure and planning for numerous tours and festivals, including Beyoncé, Coldplay, Rihanna, Rock am Ring, Lollapalooza and Coachella, from its offices in Germany, Denmark, Italy, Poland, Switzerland, Australia, Brazil and the US.

Tombulca explains: “We have not entered the UK market in the past as we had a very successful partnership arrangement with Eve Trakway in the days when it was owned by Rick Barnett and Chris Lowton. We have now joined with them again to form our UK operation.

“We have worked with many UK promoters and organisations worldwide and I am delighted that we can now provide those same services direct”

“We have worked with many UK promoters and organisations worldwide and I am delighted that we can now provide those same services direct.”

eps UK team, based in Worksop, Nottinghamshire, will offer a range of roadway, fencing and barrier systems, including heavy-duty trackway, stage barriers, pedestrian pathways, security fencing systems, temporary lighting and pitch coverings.

eps UK managing director Anthony Sinclair adds: “There are many equipment providers in the UK, but we understand that it is service that is the most important element of any project – and to ensure we always delight our customers is critical. We promise, we deliver. It’s how the eps group was built.”

 


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