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Managers peg October as earliest return for live

The latest IQ Focus session saw a line-up of international artist managers discuss the timeline for reopening, potential changes to artists’ contracts post-Covid-19 and monetisation of live streams.

The session, presented in partnership with the Music Managers Forum (MMF) and hosted by MMF chair Paul Craig, featured Kaiya Milan (Off Balance Group/The Sorority House & Co.), Marc Thomas (Red Light Management/Go Artist Management), Meg Symsyk (eOne Management/MMF Canada) and Per Kviman (Versity Music/MMF Sweden/EMMA).

Thomas compared the constant cancelling and rescheduling of shows in recent weeks to “rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic”, adding that he has been “targeting markets” such as Australia and certain parts of the US, which are likely “to get back to live more quickly”.

Thomas said he has accepted two offers for artists to play in the US in October – the earliest dates he’s looking at – including at “a leading festival”. A caveat in the contract allows the team to reassess 28 days out, in case there is a second spike.

Artists will also need to weigh up whether to take the hit of losing a couple of weeks in quarantine in order to do four weeks of solid touring in countries such as Australia, he said, highlighting the obstacles of a post-coronavirus world.

“I’m not optimistic that these things are going to run smoothly”

“I’m not optimistic that these things are going to run smoothly,” said Milan, referring to events scheduled for the autumn. Managers have been receiving offers with clauses allowing the promoter to cancel at any point, she said, which works out ok for “more established artists” but is a big risk for lesser known acts.

“I’m in a space where I know anything can happen.”

Versity Music manager Kviman agreed that things remain too uncertain for now, saying he is not putting new tours out until September 2021 as “people aren’t ready to buy tickets at this point”. Tours that had already sold lots of tickets prior to the Covid-19 crisis are being rescheduled for May 2021.

Craig asked whether any new opportunities had come out of the crisis for managers and artists, with panellists agreeing that livestreaming had presented a variety of options, if not always significant from a financial point of view.

Symsyk said live streams had, in general, worked more effectively for electronic or hip-hop acts. Bands have tended to face more technical difficulties and have often not been satisfied with the quality of streams. “[For bands, livestreaming] has worked ok for charity events, but hasn’t been worth it from a financial point of view”, she said.

Thomas, who works predominantly with electronic acts, said he has “leant into livestreaming a lot”. One act sold $15,000 in merchandise while playing in a virtual edition of Insomniac’s Electric Daisy Carnival festival.

“You can’t ask fans to pay for a ticket as a live stream doesn’t replace the experience of going to a festival, but you can sell off the back of it”

“You can’t ask fans to pay for a ticket as a live stream doesn’t replace the experience of going to a festival,” he said, “but you can sell off the back of it.”

Milan said there was more opportunity for grassroots artists to make money from paid live streams as audiences want to support them. “Livestreaming is the way people can see to help out and get something in return at the moment”, she said, which “works for a certain level of artist”.

Although the grassroots sector is one of the hardest hit by the coronavirus shutdown, Symsyk noted that the current situation is giving “a window of opportunity to focus on local talent” in Canada.

Turning to when live does return, Thomas stressed the need for “everyone to have a bit more give”.

“The reality is, in this situation, everyone needs to win, and I don’t win by getting the agent to squeeze the promoter so hard he has to pay me half the fee if the show cancels […] and he loses a load of money.

“We need everyone in this system for the system to function.”

Thomas said he accepted, to a certain extent, Live Nation’s recently expressed intention to adjust artists guarantees down for shows in the future.

“We need everyone in this system for the system to function”

“Promoters are the most exposed out of everybody and they’re not going to put these big guarantees out anymore,” he said, “it’s going to go on the backend.” This kind of “give and take” will be essential from all sides when rebuilding the business.

From a practical point of view, we can expect to see social distancing and other measures in place for a while as “not doing anything is not an option, however unpalatable the measures may be”, said Craig.

Outdoor shows seem to be a much better option than indoor shows, and a lot more scalable too in terms of keeping to distancing rules, said Thomas. Targeting the right age range is also important, as “kids think they’re invincible”.

For Milan, the deciding factor is whether people felt ready to go back into social situations as, “if they are, they will do whatever they have to” to get back to gigs or festivals, no matter how inconvenient the measures are.

Craig agreed, pointing out that we have all become accustomed to things that would have seemed unthinkable six months ago.

“If people want to go to a show, they will do whatever is necessary to go.”

IQ Focus & The MMF: Managing the Crisis is available to watch back on YouTube or Facebook now.


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Paul Craig elected MMF chair

Following the UK managers’ association’s AGM last week, the Music Managers Forum (MMF) has announced Paul Craig of Nostromo Management as its new chair.

Craig currently manages Biffy Clyro, and has previously worked with and managed acts including INXS, Kaiser Chiefs, Franz Ferdinand, Birdy, Bullet for My Valentine and the Overtones. He replaces Diane Wagg (Deluxxe Management), who steps down after four years at the helm, including three as co-chair with Stephen Budd.

Wagg will remain a board member for another year, before becoming an MMF custodian. Kwame Kwaten (Ferocious Talent) has been elected vice-chair.

“Working in tandem with our chief executive, Annabella Coldrick, Diane Wagg has been fundamental in transforming who the MMF represents and what it stands for,” comments Craig. “As well as overseeing industry changing initiatives such as Dissecting the Digital Dollar and the FanFair Alliance campaign, which have helped foster a new era of transparency and trust, there has also been a sea change in the make-up of our membership and our board.

“There has been a sea change in the make-up of our membership and our board”

“The increase in membership, especially among younger and female managers is testimony to Diane’s impact, her leadership and her innate sense of inclusiveness. Our last year working together has been hugely enjoyable.”

Under Wagg’s tenure, the MMF’s membership has grown by 35%, with the organisation now representing more than 500 UK-based managers, of whom a third are female and 20% from a BAME (black, Asian and minority-ethnic) background.

Adds Coldrick: “Diane has been a real rock of support for me personally. She ensured a welcome introduction, not only to MMF members but throughout the wider industry. I’ll always be in debt to her generosity and expertise, and for the positive stamp she has made on the MMF, ensuring we represent a greater diversity of managers, and a greater number of managers overall.

“I know that Paul and Kwame are huge advocates of her achievements, and I look forward to working with both of them.”

 


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MMF UK elects new chair, vice-chair at AGM

The Music Managers Forum (MMF) in the UK has overhauled its board of directors following yesterday’s annual general meeting.

Diane Wagg of Deluxxe Management (Cortney Dixon, D!!ves), formerly co-chair of the association with Stephen Budd, has been elected sole chair. Budd steps down to “focus on a number of upcoming projects”, says the MMF, including Amnesty International and Sofar Sound’s Give a Home concert series for World Refugee Day.

Nostromo Management’s Paul Craig (Biffy Clyro), meanwhile, becomes vice-chair.

Also elected were five new board members: Claire Southwick of Primitive Management, Ellie Giles of Various Artists, Paul Crockford of Paul Crockford Management, Steven Braines of The Weird & Wonderful and Tom Burris of ie:music. Brian Message (ATC Management) and Paul Burger (Soho Artists) were reelected.

Outgoing board members Carol Crabtree (Solar Management), Gary McClarnan (Sparklestreet), Ian McAndrew (Wildlife Entertainment), Scott Rodger (Quest Management) and Tim Clarke (ie:music) have been appointed to the MMF Custodians – a newly elected group meeting on a biannual basis to advise on MMF policy.

The five new board members were elected under a new system of governance for the MMF that will see its 16-person board rotate on an annual basis, with members elected to serve a fixed three-year term and with at least five required to stand down each year to make way for a newly elected group.

“Together we’ve overseen the continued development and progress of the MMF as a trade organisation that represents the full diversity of the UK’s music management community. That work carries on”

“Working with Stephen these past three years has been a pleasure,” comments Wagg. “He’s one of the industry’s best-loved characters and sharpest entrepreneurial operators. Together we’ve overseen the continued development and progress of the MMF as a trade organisation that represents and is relevant to the full diversity of the UK’s music management community. That work carries on to create a transparent and fair world for all artists, including well over a thousand of the best acts on the planet who are represented by our ever-increasing membership.

“And while Stephen continues to break new and exciting ground with the Give a Home concert series, I am delighted to welcome onboard Paul Craig, who has played such a fundamental role in developing Biffy Clyro into the all-conquering festival-headlining band that they are today, as our first ever vice-chair.”

Craig adds: “Having served as a board member for a number of years, it is a great honour to accept the position of vice-chair and to work alongside Diane, our chief executive Annabella Coldrick and the rest of the MMF team. Over recent years, the MMF has made great strides to become more inclusive and to provide the support, education and lobbying that all modern-day managers need, from the most established to those taking their first steps.

“In such a fast-paced commercial environment we all need to learn from each other, and the MMF is essential to building that community among managers and helping us all stay up to date as the industry evolves.”

 


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