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The New Bosses 2019: Melanie Eselevsky, Move Concerts

The New Bosses 2019 – the biggest-ever edition of IQ‘s yearly roundup of future live industry leaders, as voted for by their peers – was published in IQ 85 last month revealing the twelve promising agents, promoters, bookers and execs that make up this year’s list.

To get to know this year’s cream of the crop a little better, IQ conducted interviews with each one of 2019’s New Bosses, to discover their greatest inspirations and proudest achievements, pinpoint the reasons for their success and obtain advice for those hoping to be a future New Boss. Snippets of the interviews can be found in the latest IQ Magazine, with all interviews being reproduced in full online and on IQ Index over the coming weeks.

New Boss number eight is Melanie Eselevsky, a talent booker at Argentina’s Move Concerts. The youngest New Boss of 2019, 24-year-old Eselevsky divides her time between studying law at the University of Buenos Aires and working for Move Concerts Argentina.

After starting out producing not-for-profit musical shows – in 2016 Eselevsky, with her friends, purchased the stage rights for Hereafter Musical, which they produced in a 500-capacity theatre for two seasons – she joined Move Concerts, initially as a production assistant, in early 2017. (Read the previous interview with Primary Talent’s Matt Pickering-Copley here.)

 


What are you busy with right now?
On the one hand, I am already working on 2020’s agenda. It’s a tough time because it is a presidential election year in Argentina and the exchange rate varies every minute because everything is unpredictable. On the other hand, Move Argentina has more than 20 shows for the third and fourth quarters of this year. I define myself as a “control freak” and I like to keep an eye on everything that is going on with each show. In our part of the world, we look after visas, hotels, production, ground transportation, etc. as well as everything else, therefore, there’s a lot on our plates.

Did you always want to work in the music business?
I’ve been attending concerts and other live events ever since I was a child and I had no idea that these kinds of jobs existed. I remember going to school with the daughters of a Sony Music executive, and thinking their life was so cool because they got to meet Shakira. I only found out later that there was the opportunity to really get involved through being in a concert promotion company.

What are some of the highlights of your career so far?
The past three years have been really interesting from a business point of view for me. I’ve had the opportunity to work with some great artists – Ed Sheeran, Shawn Mendes, Katy Perry, Green Day, Radiohead and Iron Maiden, to name a few.

That said, one of the show confirmations I enjoyed the most was Patti Smith a few months ago. I read she was playing São Paulo and I immediately asked if we could submit an offer because I believed in the show and such an iconic artist. The day of the on-sale all I could do was keep refreshing the sales report again and again. Now we are close to sell-out and I’m ecstatic that my gut feeling was right and I have gained a lot of confidence. I can’t wait until the show.

“I define myself as a “control freak” and I like to keep an eye on everything that is going on with each show”

How has your role changed since you started out?
I started at Move Concerts with a three-month probation period as a production assistant. I was supposed to handle administrative issues like organising vendor budgets and invoices. I remember one of my first work meetings where I was supposed to present all the budgets and just before I got in I had to google the word “forklift”!

During my first year, I was asked to help in a lot of different areas. This gave me a wider perspective of business, from visas, ticketing and merch to show settlements. I never thought I would end up in talent booking. Actually, when [Move Concerts Argentina MD] Sebastian Carlomagno first asked me to do this job at the beginning of 2017, I thought it was crazy. It took me almost a year to feel comfortable, but everyone has been truly supportive. [Move Concerts CEO] Phil Rodriguez and [lead promoter of Move LatAm] Fabiano de Queiroz were crucial in this process.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt while at Move?
To stop for a minute and think. This business is way too dynamic. We need to be ready to make tough decisions all the time. That’s why it is important to be able to put yourself on hold for just 60 seconds in order to see everything more clearly.

What, if anything, would you change about how the live industry is run today?
I consider myself really lucky because, above all, Move Concerts encourages trust and teamwork. Everyone has a lot of experience, but at the same time they are open to new ideas. The industry would be healthier if other companies worked on this same way.

What do you do for fun?
I would produce independent musical theatre shows with my friends. That’s what my background is in and I really love theatre.

“It is important to be able to put yourself on hold for just 60 seconds in order to see everything more clearly”

Do you have an industry mentor?
Everyone at Move Concerts has “mentored” me in certain way. I have developed the habit of discussing projects with the different departments – ticketing, marketing, logistics, administration – and offices across seven countries. These discussions enrich every single minute.

Betina Canalis has been a role model ever since I started working at Move. She taught me a lot about how to place an offer and how to “feel” the market. I call her every time I need advice.

What advice would you give to anyone who wants to get into, or is new to, the business?
When people ask me what my job is about, my answer is “getting what needs to be done, done”. So, be a “doer”. If you are really willing to do this, there are no ifs, buts or complaints. If you are not sure about it, it is probably not for you. Also, don’t be afraid to speak up. It may sound cliché, but if you don’t share your ideas, you don’t get anywhere. And finally – don’t forget to have fun. Working in entertainment is a privilege.

Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?
Nowhere far from backstage. The adrenaline of live is something beyond description.

 


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Report: Bluesfest 2019 attendance, spending up

Byron Bay Bluesfest increased attendance by almost 10% and contributed over AU$83 million to the New South Wales economy in 2019, a new report has shown.

The report, commissioned by the Bluesfest Group and conducted by Lawrence Consulting, documents the economic impact of the 30th edition of Bluesfest, which took place from 18 to 22 April 2019.

Speaking to IQ ahead of this year’s festival, director Peter Noble noted that all ticket sale records had been broken for the sold-out anniversary edition. More than 105,000 fans attended this year’s Bluesfest, a 9.2% increase on the previous year.

Findings show that spending by attendees increased by almost 19% this year, with an average daily expenditure of $304. As a result, festivalgoers brought over $35.5m to the local government area of Byron Shire, contributed $59m to the region of Northern Rivers and a total of $83.4m to the state of New South Wales.

Spending by promoter Bluesfest Services was up 38% in Bryon Shire at $2.6m and increased by 24% across the rest of the Northern Rivers at $1.9m. Overall, annual expenditure on Bluesfest was approximately $18.4m, including around $1.6m in wages to 15 full-time staff.

“Bluesfest has become a pinnacle event in the calendar of Australians and music fans overseas”

The Bluesfest Group this year hired a record number of 1,454 people in NSW alone.

“I’m thrilled to think that from its humble beginnings as the East Coast Blues Festival, Bluesfest is now such a critical contributor to the local economy in the tropical surrounds of Byron Bay,” says Noble.

“Over the 30 years of its existence, Bluesfest has become a pinnacle event in the calendar of Australians and music fans overseas. I’m excited to see where the next 30 [years] will bring us as a festival in relation to the Byron, Northern Rivers, NSW and Australian economies.”

Tickets for Bluesfest 2020, which will take place from 9 to 13 April, are on sale via Moshtix. Tickets are priced at $600 plus fees for a five-day pass and $420 for three days. Single day tickets will become available in December.

Acts confirmed for the 2020 event include Dave Matthews Band, Patti Smith, John Butler and Frank Turner.


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Cambridge Folk Festival gears up for blockbuster 2018

This summer’s Cambridge Folk Festival – its first year twinned with US cousin Newport Folk Festival – has the strongest line-up in the festival’s 54-year history, according its operations director.

Neil Jones tells IQ the recruiting of big-name headliners such Patti Smith, First Aid Kit and John Prine is a key part of widening the appeal of Cambridge Folk Festival (CFF), which launched in 1965, and ensuring the venerable event is still around in another six decades.

“After the 2016 festival we realised need to restructure,” Jones explains. “We’ve sold out consistently for 23–24 years, but we were reliant on the same audience – and while we’re not trying to build a new audience to replace them, it became clear we needed to widen that audience.”

Part of that, he says, is through the line-up – now outsourced to Killer B’s Bev Burton (also booking the new Black Deer festival) – which this year is the “best yet. We’re really pleased with it – it’s a really, really strong year, no doubt.”

Also on 2018’s eclectic bill – are American folk singer Rhiannon Giddens (also guest curator), English singer-songwriter Kate Rusby, Tuareg world music group Tamikrest, Scottish Celtic fusion band Peatbog Faeries, Malian desert blues act Songhoy Blues and country music legend Roseanne Cash (daughter of Johnny) – a line-up reflecting what Jones calls the festival’s “deliberately broad-church view of what folk is”.

“It’s not lost on us that some people think Cambridge Folk Festival isn’t for them – but we think it is”

“The core [audience] know us and love us, and in the past I think we’ve been guilty of preaching to the converted,” Jones continues. “But we knew we needed to widen our appeal. Part of the PR brief for this year, for example, was to get featured on [youth-focused digital radio station] 6 Music – and 6 Music-type listeners are now booking in their droves.

“It’s not lost on us that some people think Cambridge Folk Festival isn’t for them – but we think it is, and they’d find it really cool. It’s about debunking some of the myths, and saying to people, ‘You might not think the festival is for you, but it is.’”

CFF’s push for a new audience is a two-pronged strategy – in addition to diversifying its programming, the festival is renewing its focus on the visitor experience, Jones says: “People say, ‘What makes a good festival?’, and for me, it’s the people. It’s not just about the acts on stage; it’s the people at the heart of it who are pivotal.

“One of our USPs is that we’re the only festival who encourages people to bring instruments with them, and it’s great when you walk around the site and see people just jamming everywhere…”

CFF last July announced its ‘twinning’ with a similarly illustrious folk music event, Newport Folk Festival in the US, for 2018 – a partnership that will involve the two festivals sharing ideas and jointly nurturing new folk talent, and which Jones describes as a “match made in heaven”.

“We’re really excited about the Newport Folk Festival partnership,” says Jones. “They’re really the US equivalent of CFF – we were set up by an ex-fireman working for the city council [Ken Woollard] who’d seen a documentary on Newport – but we’d never said hello to them, so we reached out with a quick email from this side of the pond.

“Our USP is that we’re the only festival who encourages people to bring instruments with them”

“They said, ‘It’s so great to be in contact, we’d been meaning to do the same!’

“We share lots of same objectives – we’re both competing against the Live Nations and AEGs paying top dollar, with their massive exclusion zones, and we’re both extremely focused on talent development. Partnering with Newport is a way of doing that: pointing us towards that new talent, while also being fiercely independent, in the grand folk tradition of kicking back against the man!”

While most festivals which have sold out every year for the past two decades would be looking to expand, Jones says that, despite CFF’s mission to grow its audience, the festival will remain at its existing 10,000-cap. site at Cherry Hinton Hall, south of Cambridge, for the foreseeable future. “We’ve been too big for a number of years, actually,” he concludes. “It’s a very small, tight site, and of course demand massively outweighs the supply of tickets.

“It’s like Glastonbury: If they increased capacity they could sell more tickets, and it’s the same for us.

“But so much of the charm of the festival is in its location – and if we moved to a large greenfield site on the edge of the city, we’d lose that charm.”

Cambridge Folk Festival 2018 takes place from 2 to 5 August.

 


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Despite lost headliners, Bluesfest welcomes 105k+

Byron Bay Bluesfest this year recorded one of its biggest-ever attendances, with more than 105,000 people passing through its gates from Thursday 13 to Monday 17 April in spite of being down two headliners.

Both Neil Young and Bee Gee Barry Gibb were confirmed for the 28th Bluesfest, but cancelled within weeks of each other last December, with Young apparently deciding “to take 2017 off from touring” and Live Nation calling off Gibb’s planned trek “due to a change in international commitments”.

Despite the setbacks, attendance still matched 2015 levels, and beat 2014’s 104,526 – but fell short of 2011’s Bob Dylan-headlined mega-event.

Promoter Peter Noble OAM comments: “I think everybody that came this year will tell you that this has been one of the great Bluesfests, and in my opinion certainly within our top three.”

“I think everybody that came this year will tell you that this has been one of the great Bluesfests”

Headliners were Patti Smith (performing Horses), the Zac Brown Band, Jimmy Buffett, Santana and Nas, with other performers including The Doobie Brothers, Madness, The Lumineers and an admirably strong contingent of female talent, such as Smith, Mary J. Blige, Laura Mvula, Bonnie Raitt, Courtney Barnett, Corinne Bailey Ray, Nikki Hill and Rickie Lee Jones.

“Backstage is like a rock’n’roll fantasy camp,” said Hill, “and, especially, seeing such a female presence around has been incredible.”

Bluefest will return to Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm, New South Wales, for its 29th outing on 29 March–2 April 2018.

 


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