Latin music execs share bullish 2023 forecasts
A handful of Latin music executives have shared their 2023 forecasts, off the back of a seminal year for both the market and its homegrown stars.
“Latin America has seen historic record-breaking ticket sales in 2022,” Bruce Moran, president of Latin America at Live Nation, tells IQ.
“Coldplay alone has set sales records in Colombia, Peru, Chile, Costa Rica, and Argentina. The pace of sales, the number of shows and the multiple-show engagement have never ever been seen before in the region. The success of the concert industry in Latin America has been unprecedented, spectacular and, for me, career-affirming.”
Moran says only time will tell if 2023 will exceed the stratospheric success of 2022, but he’s certain it’ll be another fantastic year for the Latin American business.
“Live Nation Latin America is poised already to have a strong 2023,” he says. “The unfortunate postponement of Coldplay’s 2022 sold-out Brazil run unexpectedly resulted in significantly greater sales for the rescheduled dates in 2023, as we moved into a larger Sao Paulo venue due to availability and also to the addition of two Curitiba sellouts to the run.
“The pace of sales, the number of shows and the multiple-show engagement have never ever been seen before in the region”
“In addition to the Backstreet Boys, Imagine Dragons, Coldplay, Motley Crue/Def Leppard all confirmed and on sale, we are poised to add a whole host of other events to the 2023 concert calendar.”
Move Concerts CEO Phil Rodriguez, meanwhile, is bullish about the continued growth of the market and the genre in 2023, adding: “Without a doubt, this genre is here to stay and grow and expand, just like hip-hop did.
“We will be announcing various tours for 2023 within the next month but so far what we have on sale is doing great – we just went up with Jack Johnson dates in Brazil for January and it is selling stronger than the last time in 2017. In Puerto Rico, we have seven arena dates sold out with Arcangel plus two sold-out stadium shows at the Hiram Bithorn Stadium with Karol G.”
Both Rodriguez and Moran recently told IQ that Karol G would be Latin America’s next superstar, soon after her recent $trip Love outing became the highest-grossing US tour by a female Latin act in history.
Star artists, such as Karol G, will largely dictate Latam’s growth in 2023, according to Carlos Geniso of Chilean promoter DG Medios.
“Without a doubt, this genre is here to stay and grow and expand, just like hip-hop did”
“The market is in constant growth, sometimes at a moderate pace and at other times, depending on the impact generated by the artist, it can be much higher,” he tells IQ. “If an artist launches a hit, they will have a great impact in the media and great rotation on digital platforms. Then a tour and press actions can be added, therefore the growth will go up even faster.”
Geniso has also reported strong ticket sales for 2023 concerts from the likes of Imagine Dragons, Def Leopard, Motley Crue, Big Time Rush and Backstreet Boys.
The latter will perform in February at the Sausalito Stadium in Viña del Mar, a city northwest of Santiago, which Geniso says “promotes the decentralisation of concerts in the Chilean capital, where all major events are held”.
Live Nation’s Moran also notes the opportunity to develop lesser-toured cities in Latin America, adding: “As our industry and as touring artists continue to recognise the wonder of the region and its audiences, we have more opportunities to expand the map.
“The longer an artist devotes to the Latin American region, the more cities we can include in a Latin American tour. Many touring artists in the recent past did not often venture to Belo Horizonte or Curitiba, Quito or Guatemala City or many other important sites that they do now. We are proud to work to bring more shows to more cities than ever before.”
Read more about Latin America’s rising stars and burgeoning touring market in IQ‘s recent market report.
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Latin music executives predict next superstar
Some of the biggest executives in the Latin music industry have shared their predictions for acts that will break through on an international level.
2022 has been a seminal year for Latin America’s homegrown superstars, led by trap reggaeton artist-come-global superstar, Bad Bunny.
With the Puerto Rican star paving the way for others, IQ asked Bruce Moran (Live Nation Latin America), Phil Rodriguez (Move Concerts) and Carlos Geniso (DG Medios) who might be following in his footsteps.
“The world is ready for a female reggaeton superstar, and in my personal opinion she might be Karol G,” Bruce Moran, president of Latin America at Live Nation, tells IQ.
“Although she is known for her work in reggaeton and trap, she does perform in other genres like sertaneja and more. Her live shows are the stuff of current legend. We think Karol G may be “the next (really) big thing.”
“The world is ready for a female reggaeton superstar, and in my personal opinion she might be Karol G”
Just yesterday (9 October), Karol G’s live legacy was immortalised after her recent $trip Love outing became the highest-grossing US tour by a female Latin act in history.
The Colombian singer-songwriter grossed US$69.9 million across 33 arena shows in North America, during September and October, according to Billboard‘s Boxscore.
The 31-year-old, whose real name is Carolina Giraldo Navarro, is represented worldwide by Jbeau Lewis and Ryan Soroka at UTA, and managed by Noah Assad who also looks after Bad Bunny.
Karol G is also the name on Phil Rodriguez’s lips, who says: “Great talent, top line management. On her next tour she will be moving up to stadium level in various markets.”
The Move Concerts CEO also gave an honourable mention to “other new artists bubbling up such as Tiago PZK, Quevedo [20-year-old Spanish rapper], Eladio Carrion [27-year-old, Grammy Award-nominated American-Puerto Rican rapper] and others that are establishing themselves at arena level such as Rauw Alejandro [29-year-old Puerto Rican singer]”.
Earlier this year, Rodriguez discussed Tiago PZK’s burgeoning career with IQ, saying tickets to see the 21-year-old Argentine rapper and singer were flying off the shelf.
“We went on sale with an arena in Buenos Aires, we sold out in a half hour”
“We went on sale with an arena in Buenos Aires, we sold out in a half hour,” said Rodriguez. “We had to announce a second date, sold that out, too. His debut album hasn’t even dropped, but he’s amazing live and we want to build on that.”
Tiago is now part-way through his 37-date Portales tour – his first-ever – which comprises a mix of arena dates in Latin America, as well as clubs in Spain, England and the US.
The rising star signed to Warner Music Latina earlier this year via a partnership with Rodriguez’s Grand Move Records label.
The Move Concerts boss manages Tiago, while Agustina Cabo, one of IQ’s 2022 New Bosses, is his personal and tour manager.
While Rodriguez and Moran are betting on younger and newer artists to break through, Carlos Geniso of Chilean promoter DG Medios is hedging his bets with more established artists.
“There are many Latin artists who will be presenting new material next year and who will be touring again with world tours,” he tells IQ. “For example, Alejandro Sanz and Pablo Alborán are always a hit in Chile and sell-out venues. They have a loyal fan base that always follows them, and they are very well-liked.
“Another very important artist is Fito Paez, who is celebrating 30 years of his most successful album “El amor después del amor” – a milestone for rock music in Spanish. In addition, urban artists are in a spectacular moment for their rising careers, and I think that’s where we have to put the eye.”
Sanz, a Spanish musician, singer and composer, has already won 22 Latin Grammy Awards and four Grammy Awards, while fellow Spaniard singer-songwriter Pablo Alborán has got five studio albums under his belt. Fito Páez, meanwhile, is a 59-year-old Argentine popular rock and roll pianist, lyricist, singer-songwriter and film director.
Read more about Latin America’s rising stars and burgeoning touring market in IQ‘s recent market report.
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The New Bosses 2022: Agustina Cabo, Move Concerts
The 15th edition of IQ Magazine‘s New Bosses was published in IQ 114 this month, revealing 20 of the most promising 30-and-unders in the international live music business.
To get to know this year’s cohort a little better, IQ conducted interviews with each one of 2022’s New Bosses, discovering their greatest inspirations and pinpointing the reasons for their success.
Kicking off the series of interviews is Agustina Cabo, personal and tour manager of Tiago PZK under Move Concerts in Argentina.
Born in 1992, Agustina Cabo, a marketing graduate and professional event organiser, has been in the entertainment industry for over ten years. She started her career as a commercial assistant at the agency Generación de Ideas, then for more than seven years she was the marketing coordinator at Ozono Producciones for shows such as Fuerza Bruta, Violetta, SOY LUNA, Aladdin and Peter Pan. For the last year and a half, she has been the personal and tour manager of Tiago PZK with Move Concerts and under the supervision of Phil Rodriguez.
IQ: You say you are a professional event organiser – can you talk about some of the events that you started out working on, and how that helped you get a foot in the door with your first job?
AC: My career as a professional event organiser opened the door to the idea of studying something else that complements the organising of an event. I was very interested in how to sell events and so I decided to study marketing and oriented it to shows.
The first shows I worked with [when I began in marketing] were with the agency GDI; Ivette Sangalo, Joss Stone, Radio Disney Vivo, among others. They [taught] me that you should not take anything for granted; that you have to lose the fear of asking questions and making a fool of yourself and that above all, you have to have confidence in yourself and be more fair. What do I mean? To not judge yourself so much because life is hard enough [without] punishing us if we don’t know how to do something. Thanks to my first job, I understood the power of all these things.
“A while ago, somebody wrote to me via Instagram to offer to send me fried chicken!”
At Ozono, it sounds like you had a fun job in the family entertainment side of the business, which must have involved trying to sell shows to people of all ages. What’s the biggest lesson you took from working in that sector that helps you with your new job?
I learned the power of using the digital tools we have at our disposal to understand how different audiences consume, what they are looking for, what to offer them, and how to do it.
The biggest lesson that applies today is that you have to be sensitive to the consumer, and I think that’s what makes them come back to choose to see a show, which is not only buying the ticket but the whole experience. It’s how they are treated when they arrive at the venue, from the moment they are in their seats, how the show goes on, how it ends, and how that person leaves the venue in an orderly way. It’s essential to know that if that person has any inconvenience, the solution is always to listen and give an answer, no matter how small, even if it is not the final answer. I think it is essential to let the other person know that you are concerned and that in this way they take a pleasant memory of the show [home with them] in spite of everything.
Being the manager of such a rising star as Tiago PZK must be a rollercoaster ride. Can you tell us about any of the crazy deals that you’ve turned down on behalf of your artist? (without naming any names or brands, obviously…)
A while ago, somebody wrote to me via Instagram to offer to send me fried chicken! Although we like it, we prefer baked chicken. It was very nice and funny because I really thought he was offering it to me! Hahaha! But yes, day by day we receive proposals of different kinds, from brands looking to generate a commercial agreement to developers who want to send their products as a gift, many times without expecting anything in return. But, of course, in my position I try to review what things to accept and then I discuss them internally with my team. Tiago in that way is very independent and if he likes something, he accepts it, and thanks you. It’s very natural.
“I must confess I owe almost 100% of my professional success to my first boss at Ozono Producciones, Jimena Montaña”
Tiago PZK’s tour involves arenas in Latin America, right down to clubs in London – how difficult is it to manage the expectations of an artist as you try to break into new markets?
In my case, I feel that the difficulty lies in taking a minute in the whirlwind to be able to empathetically transmit to the artist that [in order] to play in arenas, it is often necessary to first play in clubs and that playing in front of 10,000 people or 500 is just as important.
Tiago is a young artist, so [because of the pandemic] he had never before had the chance to perform live. Like all young people, he [puts a lot of pressure on himself.] Many times we talk about the importance of giving the same relevance to all types of show regardless of the numbers, and he understands this [and] gives the best show possible date after date.
Do you have a mentor or someone you rely on to turn to for advice?
Throughout my career, I have met many people who have been indispensable to my success so far. My first boss at Ozono Producciones, Jimena Montaña, to whom I must confess I owe almost 100% of my professional success, has been an inspiration to me, along with Monica Bega, who also shared a couple of years with me at Ozono.
Also my brothers, who are part of the industry, have been mentors, and I trust blindly in their opinions. I ask for their opinions [when facing the] challenges that my role poses daily.
“I got into this industry because I saw [my brothers] working in it”
Is anyone else in your family involved in music – or do they all think you are crazy for your choice of career?
Yes! Two of my four brothers are producers! In fact, I got into this industry because I saw them working in it. My twin brother, Ezequiel, was an indispensable actor in the push to make the decision to dedicate myself to this. And Leandro was the one who started this “legacy” that we are building today and who has also inspired us a lot.
At home, my father loved music, so it is no coincidence that we all chose to take this path, art in its various forms was always encouraged, and I think that was largely what made us who we are today.
We’ve all just been through an unprecedented couple of years but you actually switched roles during the pandemic. Tell us a bit about your Covid experience – what you were up to and how your ended up at Move Concerts?
At the end of 2019, while working at Ozono, I was advising a musician friend about the order of his career (records, singles release schedule, communication management, press, etc) and I felt that it was something that I liked and that generated me a lot of curiosity.
During 2020, the industry was totally slowed down and as the months went by I began to feel that I needed a change. While I continued advising my friend, I was adding different advisories from other emerging artists, just for fun. During September of 2020, my father, José, passed away from Covid and that was the trigger to take the courage to resign from Ozono [and leave] marketing.
“Tiago’s passion and his genuine way of being caught my attention”
[They contacted me] from Move Concerts, as I had provided marketing services for them in 2014. It was a matter of weeks before we sat down to talk with Enrique Battilana who told me about Tiago and trusted me to be part of the team. Flow de barrio had just come out and Tiago’s passion and his genuine way of being caught my attention. I agreed to join the project. The magic happened and since then we have released a movie, an album, and we have put on more than 16 live performances as part of #PortalesTour.
What has been your biggest career highlight to date?
A month ago, Phil Rodriguez presented me with the opportunity to go on tour with Tiago in the role of tour manager and although I consider myself organised, [the thought of] going on tour with 17 men was a challenge for me. I decided to accept the proposal and commit to doing my best whilst making it clear that it was a totally new position for me. Phil trusted me.
We have already played 15 dates and it has been the best decision of my life. I really enjoy every show, every new trip, every new experience, getting to know places and people, and cultures and audiences that totally different. I think my biggest achievement has been not letting myself be carried away by the uncertainty and being brave enough to dare to do something totally new for me, to get out of my comfort zone.
“[Taking on the role of tour manager for Tiago] has been the best decision of my life”
As a new boss, what one thing would you change to make the live entertainment industry a better place?
I would propose that all companies give the opportunity to new talents, to inexperienced but hungry people, young people who perhaps have not yet had an opportunity. I would trust in the power that the freshness and innocence of these young people has to contribute to this industry and I would be patient with them. I would give them tools and encourage them not to be afraid of the difficulties that this medium presents us with. And at the same time, I would like to see more women in technical production roles and areas that perhaps are not so common, I think it would enrich [the industry] a lot.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
I can hardly say where I see myself tomorrow! If you asked me five years ago where I saw myself, I can guarantee it wasn’t here! But life is full of surprises, and I think this industry is a constant journey; you never know where it will take you but it always ends up being fun if you put love into what you do.
I hope to keep growing hand in hand with entertainment; always keep the power of surprise, that nothing becomes a habit but that every day I learn something new; and to continue developing this passion I have for management and promoting the careers of other artists besides Tiago who have a great future and I hope to be part of it.
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Iron Maiden top 120k ticket sales for Brazil shows
Iron Maiden drew more than 120,000 fans across three sold-out stadium dates in Brazil as part of their Legacy of the Beast World Tour in August and September.
Move Concerts promoted the band’s 25,000-cap shows at Pedreira Paulo Leminski, Curitiba and Ribeirão Preto’s Eurobike Arena in August, followed by a 60,000-cap gig at São Paulo’s Morumbi Stadium on 4 September.
The metal legends also performed a standalone 100,000-cap headline show on the first weekend of Rock in Rio’s 2022 edition on 2 September.
“Iron Maiden is a phenomenon in Brazil”
“Iron Maiden is a phenomenon in Brazil,” says Phil Rodriguez, CEO of Move Concerts. “They are one of the elite few artists that have maintained stadium level business for over 37 years.”
The region’s biggest independent promoter, Move is headquartered in Miami, Florida, and has offices in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Peru and Puerto Rico. The company appointed Tiago Maia as managing director of its Brazil team in May and also bolstered its marketing and finance departments team.
“Brazil is the one country in the region with the strongest economic indicators and projected stability,” Rodriguez told IQ last month.
Iron Maiden’s Brazilian tour was sponsored by Porto Seguro Bank. The sponsors of the band’s sets in Ribeirão Preto and São Paulo were Black Princess and TNT Energy Drink. Bodebrown as a Craft beer sponsor for Curitiba. The city’s Hospital Sancta Maggiore was the official supplier for the São Paulo date, along with support from NewOn.
The Legacy of the Beast World Tour, which began in 2018, continued at Mexico City’s Foro Sol on 7 September before kicking off its climactic US and Canada leg with a night at Don Haskins Center in El Paso, Texas last night.
Viva la musica!
With investment pouring in, demand for shows outstripping supply, and a raft of homegrown superstars emerging, is Latin America the hottest touring market in the world right now? Adam Woods reports.
When Latin artists blow up these days, they blow up fast. Move Concerts CEO Phil Rodriguez remembers a call from his Argentinian office in October 2019, relaying a request for artist management from a group of producers in Buenos Aires.
“I said, ‘I don’t think so, but send me what you got,’” he says. “And there was one kid named Tiago PZK, and he was really special. I shared it with some people. I even sent it to Ed Sheeran, who has an incredible ear for music and new talent. ‘Listen mate, what do you think?’ And he goes, ‘You know what, I can’t understand the words, but I can feel the kid.’ So I said, ‘Okay, let’s do something.’”
“We went on sale with an arena in Buenos Aires, we sold out in a half hour”
Not quite three years on, Tiago PZK’s singles generate YouTube views in the hundreds of millions, and the live roadshow is about to begin rolling in earnest.
“We went on sale with an arena in Buenos Aires, we sold out in a half hour,” says Rodriguez. “We had to announce a second date, sold that out, too. His debut album hasn’t even dropped, but he’s amazing live and we want to build on that.
“We announced the tour, we have 37 dates on the first leg including four or five in Spain and three showcases in the US. We’re doing Colombia, Peru, Costa Rica, Chile, Paraguay, a lot of arenas plus a bunch of other dates. And that’s just an example of one artist that just blew up. And there’s quite a few.”
“Now there’s a lot of Latin acts that should really be called international Latin acts or something”
The growth of the Latin musical power base has been one of the most irresistible forces in global music in recent years, but it has been supercharged during pandemic times.
At the very top end, Puerto Rican superstar Bad Bunny was the most streamed artist on Spotify globally in 2020 and 2021, with Colombia’s J Balvin not far behind. Their collaborations with artists such as Drake and Cardi B have injected reggaetón into US urban pop at the highest level, while in the other direction, trap has infused Latin music from Mexico down to Argentina.
Also in serious global contention are numerous fellow Puerto Rican urban acts including “King of Modern Reggaetón” Rauw Alejandro and big-hitting singer-rapper-actor Ozuna, as well as Colombian stars like Karol G and Maluma and Argentinian trap artist Duki. And then there are the already established stars such as the retiring “King of Reggaetón” Daddy Yankee and the Despacito-wielding Luis Fonsi.
Latin America has always been a hotbed of regional music styles, from merengue and bachata to cumbia, flamenco and vallenato. It has also made many English-language stars, from Ricky Martin to Shakira to Camila Cabello. But never before has raw Latin music hit the global scene with such force, in such numbers, and so thoroughly on its own terms.
“There were Latin acts that were only famous in Latin countries, and they had a number of tickets to be sold and that was the market,” says Memo Parra, director of international talent at giant Mexican promoter Ocesa. “Now there’s a lot of Latin acts that should really be called international Latin acts or something. Suddenly other markets get the sense and taste of this music and they get into it.”
“In the old days, we were a bit of an after-thought, candidly”
The immediate significance for the Latin American live circuit is a major post-pandemic surge, driven by booming regional talent combined with an increasingly intrepid cohort of international acts, determined to sample every arena and stadium the region has to offer.
The past decade or so has seen a world-class upgrade of the region’s production capabilities and venue offering, while regional promoters, often working with international operators such as Move and Live Nation, have carved out an ever wider road for the world’s biggest touring acts.
“In the old days, we were a bit of an after-thought, candidly,” says Bruce Moran, president, Latin America at Live Nation, which has so far put on 99 shows this year in eleven Latin American countries – plenty in Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and Chile, of course, but also Peru, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic and others.
“We are getting more shows and in more places,” he adds. “Once, an international act would only go to Rio and São Paulo when they came to Brazil, but we just concluded the Metallica run in Belo Horizonte; Harry Styles will finish his run in Curitiba.”
And, while a decade or two ago, a Latin American run might have consisted of five shows in total, these days there are far richer pickings. “We have ended up with three legs of the Coldplay tour, which adds up to 37 sold-out stadiums,” says Moran.
“Daddy Yankee is doing his farewell tour, he’s selling out stadiums everywhere”
The band has broken records everywhere: an unprecedented (for an international band) four Foro Sol stadiums in Mexico City in April; six Allianz Parques in São Paulo and ten River Plate Stadiums in Buenos Aires coming up in October and November. But Moran is particularly inclined to single out the fast-growing newer markets, namechecking local partners such as Saymon Díaz in Central America and Alberto Menacho in Peru.
“I’m almost more impressed by the two sell-outs in Bogotá, the two in Lima, the two in San José, Costa Rica,” he says. “You don’t expect that; it’s just unheard of.”
And just as post-pandemic Latin America is proving a fertile market for visiting stars, and Latin acts are becoming a truly mainstream force outside the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking world, homegrown successes seem to be scoring bigger wins than ever across Latin markets as well.
“Daddy Yankee is doing his farewell tour, he’s selling out stadiums everywhere,” says Rodriguez. “Duki, he started with one Vélez stadium [José Amalfitani Stadium, 60,000-capacity home of Buenos Aires football team Vélez Sarsfield], and now he’s doing four. This is at the level of a Harry Styles, almost a Coldplay, and definitely above most Anglo artists that tour the region.”
There’s no avoiding the fact that Live Nation has cornered the market for M&A activity in Latin America in the past two or three years.
It wrapped up the long-delayed acquisition of a 51% stake in Ocesa from CIE and Grupo Televisa in December 2021, having purchased majority shares in Diego Finkelstein’s Argentinian market leader DF Entertainment in December 2018 and Chilean promoter Carlos Geniso’s DG Medios in December 2019. Both experienced promoters have remained on board.
Brazil is South America’s most vibrant market, and it is the most hotly contested. Live Nation operated in partnership with local powerhouse T4F there until 2017, when the deal expired, and Live Nation went out on its own under former T4F man Alexandre Faria.
“I think the next two years will be the best years”
Faria declares himself well pleased with 2022 so far and counts off his biggest tours on two hands, from Coldplay and Metallica to Harry Styles and Dua Lipa.
He estimates that Live Nation is the power player in Brazil in 2022, using the metric of major arena and stadium tours. “The other promoters are doing one or two tours,” he suggests. “We are doing eight or ten.”
But he also has faith that there is better to come. “I think the next two years will be the best years,” he says. “I don’t have visibility on ’24, but 2023 seems to me very strong, too.”
Move Concerts, headquartered in Miami, Florida, is Latin America’s largest independent, with offices in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Peru and, of course, Puerto Rico – the last of these the source of much of the current Latin explosion.
“Our office in Puerto Rico is killing it – we’ve had 70% of all the shows in the Coliseo de Puerto Rico in 2022,” says Rodriguez. “We just sold out two arenas there with Karol G – over 24,000 tickets. We easily could have done two more arena dates there.”
“Most people in the business are going to be a little bit more careful next year”
Move shows this year include stadiums in Brazil for Iron Maiden and Michael Bublé – his first in the country – and a show at the Vélez with Green Day that sold out in three days. But Rodriguez cautions that this year may yet be a one-off.
“I think most people in the business are going to be a little bit more careful next year,” he says. “This year was an abnormality – many of the shows were rescheduled from 2020 and 2021, plus there was a pent-up appetite for concerts.
“2023 will be a huge challenge, with inflation, the labour shortage and supply challenges,” Rodriguez adds. “But so far this year, everything has come out strong. I mean, we just finished an almost four-week run of dates with Louis Tomlinson. In most places it started with half arenas, 4,000-seaters, and we ended up doing full arenas and multiple dates. The business doubled or tripled.
“And we’re having that with Arctic Monkeys and Interpol. In Peru, for instance, we were go- ing in for 20,000 [at the Lima Arena], thinking it was going to take us a while to sell it, but it blew out in the first day of sales – so, actually stronger than the last time they were in the market.”
“Our budgets are so far from the reality we had pre-pandemic. It is really hard to predict when all this craziness is going to stop”
Former T4F promoter Jose Muniz now operates as a pure independent under his revived Mercury Concerts brand, promoting in Brazil and across the continent. He identifies a particularly brutal character to this market.
“We have increasing competition, which makes every single tour a big battle among promoters,” he says. “The biggest challenge, though, is dealing with the escalating inflation and the fact that vendors are squeezing out everything they can from promoters. Our budgets are so far off from the reality we had pre-pandemic. It is really hard to predict when all this craziness is going to stop.”
But while a promoter’s share of the international talent trade is not always a lavish one, the shows themselves, needless to say, are doing good business.
“We are having a good year,” says Muniz. “We have just finished a nine-show tour with Kiss in South America, and the shows all sold out. We have an upcoming 16 shows in September and October with Guns N’ Roses in Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Peru, Colombia and Chile, and it seems we will sell out every single market. We also have tours with Eros Ramazzotti, Helloween, Boyce Avenue, Godsmack and Hanson.”
“River Plate is 65,000 capacity, and each of them sold out on the on-sale – show ten sold out in, like, two hours”
Argentina has long been one of South America’s more volatile markets, given its very much on- going record of dramatic inflation – rates haven’t been below 10% in a decade, and are tipped to end the year above 70%. But the country is still enjoying its share of the post-pandemic live boom.
At DF Entertainment, Finkelstein calculates 1.5m tickets sold so far this year and toasts 330,000 tickets sold for Lollapalooza Argentina, on top of highly successful visits from Maroon 5, Kiss, Dua Lipa, Metallica, Rosalía and GN’R, while looking forward to the first Argentinian edition of Primavera Sound and Coldplay’s record-breaking River Plate dates.
“River Plate is 65,000 capacity, and each of them sold out on the on-sale – show ten sold out in, like, two hours,” he says. “There’s no city that did it like Buenos Aires. It’s an absolute record. And actually it’s even bigger, because when Roger Waters played nine nights [in 2012], eight of them were seated. We have ten nights, all standing. And we only stopped at ten because the guys don’t have more dates available.”
Indeed, underlining the strength of demand among Argentine fans, at IQ‘s press time DF revealed that all presale stages for Lollapalooza 2023 sold out in one day – a record for the nation.
“It’s amazing the way the business came back in Mexico”
Mexico, too, is a monster market. In 2019, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) put concert revenues at around $225m (€216m), though the predicted 20% increase for 2020 clearly didn’t materialise. In 2022, however, the market is making up lost ground.
“It’s amazing the way the business came back in Mexico,” says Memo Parra. “It’s just really, really, really, really impressive, the amount of tickets and the time it takes for those tickets to be sold.
“What I was worried about was the amount of shows we had on the books and that the amount would be bigger than demand or that fans would need to decide which to buy tickets for. This year we have 94 stadium shows, and we are going to have 22 festivals.”
Ocesa’s grip on its local touring business is, if anything, more comprehensive than that of any other Latin American promoter – this year’s attractions include Coldplay, Dua Lipa, Harry Styles, Iron Maiden, Justin Bieber, Rammstein, all sell-outs or well on their way. Regional Mexican band Grupo Firme, meanwhile, sold out five nights at the 65,000-cap Foro Sol. “That’s a lot of tickets,” notes Parra.
He is baffled at just where the spending power is coming from. “I don’t know because Mexico’s economics are not happy economics. Right now we have a huge inflation rate, like the rest of the world. There were no benefits during Covid times. People had to use their savings to survive.”
“Our industry is selling great – multiple shows and many shows selling out”
In Chile, promoters such as Live Nation’s DG Medios and local independent Lotus Producciones underpin one of South America’s sturdiest markets, and the bounce back has been powerful.
“We were only able to perform outdoor shows again in March, April 2022, with restrictions,” says DG’s Carlos Geniso. “So it’s going to be an atypical year. A record year for attendance because many of the shows scheduled in 2020 and 2021, plus the traffic of 2022, add up to a very large total in tickets sold – historical numbers.”
Likewise, Lotus director Sebastian De La Barra Cuevas echoes a familiar refrain.
“Our industry is selling great – multiple shows and many shows selling out,” he says. “We promoted the tenth anniversary of Lollapalooza Chile with a great line-up and a huge response from the audience, artists and fans. We have different shows announced and on sale right now, and all of them are selling great.
“Everyone is excited and buying tickets. The question is when this momentum will return to a pre-Covid tendency. So we have to be more cautious with our projections for 2023 and early 2024, as we think the market will adjust to lower sales.”
“Most artists, we have to wire the money way in advance, so there were a lot of shows that had been paid before the pandemic, but the ticket sales weren’t covering it”
Needless to say, there is far more to Latin America than the very biggest markets. Peru is an important stop, where active promoters include Move and Alberto Menacho’s Artes y Eventos. In Uruguay, the new Antel Arena has provided significant new capacity to busy promoters such as Gaucho and 3/Cuartos Producciones.
Colombia is also in the big leagues these days, with active promoters including Ocesa and Páramo Presenta. The capital, Bogotá, is inevitably the hub – with a recently renovated Movistar Arena and an entirely new 24,000-cap venue, Coliseo Live, opening in August – but there is strength in depth: as in Mexico, Daddy Yankee plays a full four cities across the country, also including Cali, Barranquilla and Medellín.
In Paraguay – an increasingly well-trodden stop-off between Brazil and Argentina – local promoter G5pro heads the market, selling around 80% of all concert tickets and staging the largest festivals, including Asunciónico, a joint production with DF Entertainment in Argentina.
“The thing with Paraguay, is it has been a really struggling country in financial terms, so our market is very last minute,” says G5pro founder and director Rodrigo Nogues. “It’s not like Brazil where you announce an event and you sell it out in a day.”
Consequently, in the pandemic, the lag between upfront costs and ticket revenues was particularly painful.
“Most artists, we have to wire the money way in advance, so there were a lot of shows that had been paid before the pandemic, but the ticket sales weren’t covering it. And we didn’t have a law like they had in Colombia, where promoters were not obliged to refund tickets, so we had to do that.”
“Of course, we try to get the biggest names, but the market is not ready yet”
All the same, Paraguay draws heat from the surging markets of its neighbours. “Since we are in the middle of Brazil and Chile and Argentina, usually the routing works,” says Nogues. “They usually get the weekend for the bigger acts, and we get the weekdays.”
Typically, the market remains more Spanish-oriented, though international traffic is increasing. “In November, we have Arctic Monkeys and Liam Gallagher. And, of course, we try to get the biggest names,” he says, pointing to Coldplay’s South American adventures, “but the market is not ready yet.”
Latin America has plenty of well-known festivals, including some of the world’s biggest, but the big news in recent years has been the rise of the touring festival brand. Lollapalooza established the template, taking root in Chile and Argentina over the past ten or so years in March and April, promoted by Lotus and DF Entertainment, respectively, in partnership with C3 Presents.
This year, aiming for a similar dominance to- wards the tail end of the calendar, is Barcelona’s well-loved Primavera Sound, which is staging an ambitious South American expansion with first editions in São Paulo (October 31 to November 6), Santiago de Chile and Buenos Aires (both November 7 to 13).
“Every year, we have a lot of people coming from South America and Latin America to the festival in Barcelona,” says Primavera Sound chief innovation and corporate development officer Daniel Fletcher. “This seemed like an opportunity to work more closely with those markets.
“We have had plans to start doing things in South America for a long time,” he adds. “There is a circuit already established by Lollapalooza, and we realised there was a gap in the second half of the year for this type of event and that the markets in Chile, Argentina and Brazil are mature enough.”
“For us, it is very important, as we have Lollapalooza in the first semester”
International stars including Arctic Monkeys, Björk, Travis Scott and Lorde will play across all three events, which will also feature bands from all three cities as well as from Spain, home of Primavera.
Local partners are DF Entertainment in Argentina, Rock Stgo in Chile and Live Nation Brazil for São Paulo, and there will be Road to Primavera warm-up shows in Buenos Aires and Santiago de Chile on the 14th and 16th October, starring Jack White, Pixies and Cat Power.
“For us, it is very important, as we have Lollapalooza in the first semester,” says Finkelstein. “There are a couple of months at the start of the year when you can do this type of event, and a couple of months at the end, and you can’t do it at other times because of holidays and because of the weather. And the great thing is that they don’t compete with each other at all.”
Other key Latin American festivals include the mighty Rock in Rio, which returns to its home city this year and will pioneer a new event called The Town in São Paulo in 2023.
“This week, I went on sale with one of the biggest festivals, Corona Capital. It has never been sold out. This time it was sold out on day one of the pre-sale”
In Mexico City, Ocesa’s 22-year-old rock festival, Vive Latino 2020, was the last large event before the pandemic, and it returned in March at full capacity across two days at the Foro Sol, with 80 bands on the bill, many of them Mexican, plus honorary Latinos including Limp Bizkit and Pixies.
As with headline shows, says Memo Parra, the festival business is remarkably buoyant. “This week, I went on sale with one of the biggest festivals, Corona Capital in Guadalajara,” says Parra. “It has never been sold out. This time it was sold out on day one of the pre-sale. 240,000 tickets, all gone. Yes, the line-up is better than past editions, but it’s not a huge difference. We have had Muse, Foo Fighters, Green Day, but I never sold it out.”
Elsewhere, virtually every country has acquired the festival habit over the years. In Colombia, alternative festival Estéreo Picnic has flourished in Bogotá over the past decade, and the same city’s long-established free rock festival, Rock al Parque, returns to the Parque Simon Bolivar in late November, where it traditionally attracts around 400,000 people.
Many festival names disappeared with the pandemic, while others have rebounded. In addition to Lollapalooza and Primavera, Argentina has Cosquín Rock, while Chile offers Creamfields and Fauna Producciones’ alternative Otoño and Primavera Fauna festivals. Other Mexican events include Apodaca’s Pal’ Norte in Monterrey and Eco Live/Ocesa’s Latin avant-pop festival Ceremonia in Mexico City.
Latin America’s greatest venues – Mexico City’s Foro Sol, River Plate in Buenos Aires, São Paulo’s Allianz Parque – are internationally synonymous with huge crowds and frenzied good times.
Outside Latin America’s leading markets, too, new venues are making all the difference. Uruguay is benefiting from its new ASM Global venue, the Antel Arena in Montevideo, which has hosted Damon Albarn’s Gorillaz, Argentinian rockers La Beriso and Latin-ska veterans Los Auténticos Decadentes in recent months, as well as Louis Tomlinson.
Buenos Aires also has a new ASM Global venue, the 15,000-cap Movistar Arena. The venue hit the ground running in late 2019 before promptly shutting down to Covid. It managed a couple of months of shows in 2020 and reopened again with a packed calendar in September 2021.
“Colombia is on the circuit now, for sure”
Likewise, in Bogotá, the re-emergence of the former Coliseo Cubierto El Campín as the Movistar Arena in 2018, operated by Colombiana de Escenarios – a joint venture between Movistar Arena Chile owner HLR Group and Colombian ticketing market leader Tu Boleta – has given the country a vital stop for international and Latin tours, taking around 90 shows a year, including Rosalía, Kiss, and Miley Cyrus in 2022.
“Colombia is on the circuit now, for sure,” says Movistar Arena Bogotá general manager Luis Guillermo Quintero. “It’s very close to the US, very close to Mexico. It’s real normal that an artist performs in Mexico City then comes to Bogotá, then goes to Santiago Chile, Buenos Aires, São Paulo.
“Before we opened, there was no venue like this in Colombia. And now we have a venue that can receive international artists without any issue. After Kiss played in South America, they told us that performing here in Colombia was the easiest venue to handle, in terms of operation.”
During the pandemic, the Movistar Arena was Colombia’s main vaccine centre, receiving almost 2m people. “At least we paid the bills,” says Quintero.
Elsewhere across the continent, Live Nation is working with Oak View Group and GL Events on a 20,000-cap arena in São Paulo, due to open in 2024. Chile, too, has a thriving ASM-operated Movistar Arena, and Geniso suggests that the Pan American Games, which will be held in Chile in the last quarter of 2023, may leave behind some venues suitable for concert use.
Move Concerts’ Phil Rodriguez on the LatAm factor
Move Concerts boss Phil Rodriguez has praised the resilience of the Latin American market after the firm surpassed projections for its rescheduled shows so far this year.
The region’s biggest independent promoter, Move has enjoyed a fruitful 2022 to date, capped by shows by the likes of Bad Bunny, Louis Tomlinson and Argentine rapper Tiago PZK, who is also managed by Rodriguez.
“2022 kicked off great for us.” Rodriguez tells IQ. “As soon as restrictions were dropped, the demand kicked in immediately and the appetite has been strong across the board.
“Like many others we had shows from 2020 and 2021 that were rescheduled and they ended up selling more tickets than originally projected.”
“Puerto Rico has been selling out consistently and shows no sign of slowing down”
Standout tours have included A-ha, who sold 74,500 tickets across nine dates in three countries, and Louis Tomlinson, who sold 126,000 tickets over 14 concerts in nine countries. Bad Bunny’s three-night stand in his native Puerto Rico from 28-30 June, meanwhile, was a blowaway triumph both on and off the stage.
“Puerto Rico has been selling out consistently and shows no sign of slowing down,” says Rodriguez. “We just co-promoted with Noah Assad three sold-out dates at the Coliseo de Puerto Rico [cap. 18,500] with Bad Bunny in San Juan that paralysed the island as the show was streamed live to 13 municipalities for free. It is estimated over 500,000 people saw the show between the Coliseo and the free transmissions.”
Move Concerts is headquartered in Miami, Florida, and has offices in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Peru and Puerto Rico.
“Coming up we have, among many shows in a busy second semester: three stadium dates in Brazil with Iron Maiden – all sold out, over 120,000 tickets; Justin Bieber with three stadium dates; Green Day with Billy Idol at Velez Sarsfield Stadium in Buenos Aires – sold out; seven dates with Michael Bublé including his first stadium dates in South America – two nights at Allianz Stadium in Sao Paulo – and Arctic Monkeys with Interpol.
“If there’s anything we promoters are in LatAm, it’s that we’re resilient and used to navigating through storms!”
Rodriguez says Chile is last country in the territory to eliminate Covid restrictions, with the Movistar Arena (17,000) in Santiago still subject to a 75% capacity limit. Aside from that, the promoter lists the biggest challenges as “currency devaluations across all LatAm countries, significant increase in costs and labour shortages”.
Move appointed Tiago Maia as managing director of its Brazil team in May and bolstered its marketing and finance departments team with the addition of Igor Ismail (assistant to marketing director Karen Pedroso) and Rodrigo Moura (finance manager).
“Brazil is the one country in the region with the strongest economic indicators and projected stability,” he adds. “I can only hope that inflation eases up a bit and the devaluations also moderate and we move away from the abrupt swings we’ve had recently. That said, if there’s anything we promoters are in LatAm, it’s that we’re resilient and used to navigating through storms!”
“It is amazing considering we signed Tiago PZK to management a little less than two years ago”
He also shares his pride at the progress of Tiago PZK, who signed to Warner Music Latina earlier this year via a partnership with Rodriguez’s Grand Move Records label. The star kicked off his Portales Tour in July with two sell-out hometown shows at Movistar Arena in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Sold-out dates then followed in Uruguay at Montevideo’s Antel Arena and in Paraguay at the SND Arena.
“The tour continues this week through the interior of Argentina and then onwards, with 36 dates total on the first leg, which will also cover Chile, Peru, Colombia, Costa Rica, Spain, the UK – a London date after Spain in October – the US and Mexico,” adds Rodriguez. “Looking back, it is amazing considering we signed Tiago PZK to management a little less than two years ago.”
Rodriguez was also interviewed for our Latin America feature in the latest issue of IQ.
PHOTO (L-R): Sebastian Carlomagno (management), Phil Rodriguez, Tiago PZK, Alejandro Duque (president, Warner Music Latin).
Pandemic lessons learned by live: #1-5
The Covid-19 pandemic has undoubtedly been the biggest challenge that the live entertainment industry has ever had to deal with. Thankfully, thousands of businesses around the world have survived two years of unprecedented hardship, proving that the ability of this sector to come up with creative solutions has been underscored. But just what are the main lessons we should be taking from the Covid experience? IQ talked to a number of business leaders to identify the 10 key lessons that the pandemic has taught us. Here, we present the first five…
1. Don’t trust declarations that we’ve won the war against Covid-19
“It’s not over (the pandemic) until it’s over, much as we wish it were,” says Teresa Moore, director of A Greener Festival. “We need to be innovative, flexible and adaptive as things change. Connected to this, we need to be able to diversify using the skills we have in the industry to create new experiences, new businesses, and more sustainable business models. These need to include environmental and social impacts, not just the economic ones.”
WME co-head of live music Lucy Dickins underlines the need to be flexible. “Be prepared for the unexpected,” she says. “Make sure you have multiple outcomes and have several backup plans.”
Moore adds, “Tough as things are, if any industry can do it and move forward into this new era, it’s the live industry, where innovation and flexibility are its bread and butter.”
2. Politicians neither understand nor value live music…
With a remit that includes overseeing theatres and arenas, as well as all the content and shows that fill the seats in those venues, Jessica Koravos, co-chair of Oak View Group and president of The Really Useful Group, has spent much of the pandemic period talking to policy makers.
“Our industry is in the hands of government and public health decision-makers who still fail to understand how our business operates and the enormously positive impact we make on local economies and the general happiness of the nation,” she says. “We must make sure that, going forward, we have more seats at the decision-making table.”
3….But fans do!
“While some politicians may still not grasp the importance of culture, the general population has shown us how much they value it,” states Beverley Whitrick of the Music Venue Trust (MVT).
“During the pandemic, music, films, TV, books, art – making things and appreciating the things others make – became a focus for many people’s mental wellbeing. We saw amazing public support for fundraising initiatives such as #SaveOurVenues and #ILoveLive; and pure joy when people could return to live music, festivals, theatres, etc.”
4. Everyone in the supply chain needs and deserves protection
“Huge swathes of the working population in live music earn very little money, and so when a pandemic or similar event that prevents working occurs, they have no savings or money to fall back on,” observes Emma Banks, co-head of CAA’s London headquarters.
“We are seeing costs for the ‘show workers’ – crew, security, etc – going up as they can dictate higher wages, and we need to embrace that and make sure that this is an industry that properly looks after all its people, not just the people at the top of the tree.”
“Encourage a healthy workspace,” urges WME’s Dickins. “The uncertainty around us and learning to adapt to working from home and then back to the office can take its toll. It’s important to look out for one another and make sure that at all times, people feel safe whilst still being able to brainstorm ideas,” she adds.
On a related note, Live Nation’s executive president of touring, Phil Bowdery, lauds the industry’s ability to embrace the concept of staff working remotely. “The value of flexible working – I think even the harshest sceptic of home working had their minds changed pretty quickly in 2020,” he says.
And MVT’s Whitrick adds, “We need to find a way to support activity that makes people’s lives better rather than just makes money. It is heartbreaking that so many people have had to leave the creative industries to work in more secure but less fulfilling sectors.”
5. Complacency should be confined to history
The live entertainment industry had been expecting a record-breaking year in 2020 but, like the rest of the world, was caught unprepared when the pandemic shut down touring and festivals.
“The pandemic has taught us that, overnight, we can lose many of the things we hold dear,” says Phil Rodriguez, founder of Move Concerts. “We’ve also learned how easy it is to control all of us. I’m a history buff; what we’ve been through and are still going through takes the cake!”
Phil Rodriguez: ‘We’ll be 100% open for business’
Move Concerts boss Phil Rodriguez says the company will be “100% open for business” by March as he shares his bullish projections for the year ahead.
Latin America’s biggest independent promoter, Move has 2022 dates lined up with acts including Justin Bieber, J Balvin, Michael Buble, Louis Tomlinson and A-ha.
Speaking in the new issue of IQ, Rodriguez discusses the opportunities that have opened up for the territory in light of the ongoing restrictions on markets in other parts of the world.
“I do not foresee anything similar to what is happening in Europe or Australia with new lockdowns, happening in our region,” he says. “Simply put, the countries in our part of the world cannot afford more lockdowns or restrictions. The social cost will be too high. And Latin people want to go out and enjoy life.
“We will be 100% open for business by March 2022, and all our shows in general are selling strong.”
“I hope 2022 will be the final mile through this storm that started in March 2020”
However, Rodriguez says it is tough to predict when the international touring business will return to pre-Covid levels.
“We now live in a world where an outbreak of anything anywhere on the planet is augmented by a 24-hour news cycle and governments reimpose restrictions overnight in the name of extra caution,” he says.
“It’s tough to get a firm footing. It’s like walking on egg shells. And this scenario doesn’t help to calm the waters to readdress cancellation insurance, routings… I watch in shock at what is happening in Australia, New Zealand, Austria, etc. How do we and when do we, as a business and society, climb off that ledge?
“That said, it is now clear that Covid will remain with us as an endemic disease, but we now know how to deal with it, with not only the vaccines but many other protocols that we now know also work.”
Backing the industry to “plough through this storm, adapt and prosper”, Rodriguez is optimistic the end of the pandemic is in sight.
“I hope 2022 will be the final mile through this storm that started in March 2020,” he says. “I’m sure there will be more curve balls ahead, but we will all be better prepared and wiser.”
The full interview with Rodriguez appears in IQ 107, out now.
Meanwhile, Argentinian rapper and singer-songwriter Tiago PZK, who is managed by Rodriguez, has signed with Warner Music Latina via a partnership with Rodriguez’s Grand Move Records label.
“Our decision to close with Warner Latin was not taken lightly,” explains Rodriguez. “The deal closer was the enthusiasm and commitment that [president] Alejandro Duque and the Warner Latina team transmitted to us at every step on the negotiations.”
Q&A: Move Concerts boss details LatAm’s recovery
As markets across Latin America gradually reopen, Phil Rodriguez of Move Concerts – the biggest independent concert promoter in the region – says he’s optimistic about the region’s recovery.
Emerging from the most difficult year in live music history, Rodriguez expects the industry to come out of the Covid-19 pandemic “stronger and wiser”.
However, according to the Move Concerts boss, there are a number of obstacles that stand between Latam’s industry and a full recovery.
Below, Rodriguez outlines those obstacles, reflects on the lessons learnt from the pandemic, and addresses “the elephant in the room”…
IQ: How is Latin America’s return to business going?
PR: It’s a patchwork of different sets of rules and regulations per country so it has been a challenge to get them all aligned to have a proper tour of the region. But we’re finally getting there!
In which markets are you now able to fully operate?
Puerto Rico was able to start at full capacity (with proof of vaccination) as of August and business has been incredible. Not only have the shows been selling out, but single dates became multiples. That market came back STRONG.
What’s the deal with vaccine passports and capacity restrictions in Latam?
As noted, it’s a patchwork. Brazil is operating at 70% capacity with proof of vaccination and will open to 100% this week. Argentina will open at 100% capacity with proof of vaccination and with requirements for face masks from 16 November.
Uruguay is at 55% without vaccination and 70% with vaccination. Colombia will be at 100% capacity for vaccinated people from 16 November. Chile is currently held to 40% and in some cases 60% capacity – vaccinated and socially distanced. The expectation is to be open at 100% for the vaccinated by January 2022. Costa Rica will be at 100% as of March 2022 for the vaccinated.
“The lack of cancellation insurance for Covid is the elephant in the room for all of us”
Where has Move’s focus been since markets started to open up?
Rescheduling, booking new tours for the end of 2022 and 2023. Plus our management company and indie record label, Grand Move Records, which are both at full speed.
What opportunities do you see during this recovery period?
The chance to reinvent ourselves and look outside our comfort zone. We all had to do this during the pandemic. We should not get complacent once we return to some normalcy and forget that.
What are the challenges you’re facing right now?
The lack of cancellation insurance for Covid is the elephant in the room for all of us. The rest we can deal with but will still present a strong challenge such as inflation and devaluation of currencies – which have been hit hard by the pandemic – and the economic consequences of the lockdowns, etc.
How long do you think it’ll take for Latam to get back to pre-pandemic levels of business?
The Covid issue, in my opinion, has been both a health and political issue, unfortunately, and that has not helped us get a better picture of what is ahead of us. But if by the second half of 2022, we are not on a solid road to pre-pandemic levels, we will ALL have bigger problems to worry about. That said, I’m an optimist by nature and I think we’ll come out of this wiser and stronger!
“If by the second half of ’22, we are not on a solid road to pre-pandemic levels, we’ll all have bigger problems to worry about”
When and how do you see international acts coming back to Latin America?
In South America, we kick off with a-ha in March 2022 – Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil.
Move hosted Latam’s first drive-thru show during the pandemic. Is that a format you’ll be returning to?
Not really…we do not see the need nor demand for this any longer as live concerts startup.
What about livestreaming – is there still demand in that area of the business?
This has essentially stopped. With the return of live shows – with reduced capacities – streaming has lost its initial appeal. I’m sure it will still be a good tool to have in our toolbox for use in the future but in a different form… more related to marketing or a special event, etc.
What one thing are you most proud of doing during the pandemic?
That we kept all our team in place and did not have to furlough or lay off anyone. We all took salary cuts and weathered the storm together.
Also, our office in Bogota took the initiative and created an internet site with different content – entertainment, cooking, lifestyle, etc – that raised over US$10,000 to support the local production crews and their families in the middle of the pandemic. That was a fabulous effort that made me very proud of our team there.
Phil Rodriguez: Reopening a “great opportunity” for new acts
As the worst year in the history of the live music business finally nears its end, IQ caught up with several industry leaders ahead of the new year, asking for their predictions for 2021, as well as the lessons they can take forward from 2020.
Here, Phil Rodriguez of Move Concerts, South America’s biggest independent promoter, speaks about the challenges that lie ahead, including the opportunities for emerging and local artists, and why cooperation will be important than ever on live music’s road to recovery…
IQ: This year has been difficult, to put it mildly, but have there been any positive aspects you are taking forward from this annus horribilis?
PR: Aside from spending more time with family… business-wise, it was a power kick in the ass that made us all look at costs, reinvent ourselves, etc. We got into the streaming business with LivePass Play and expanded our management roster.
When the “curtain opens” again, we will have more tools in our toolbox and run leaner and meaner.
How has coronavirus vaccine news changed the conversations you are having with colleagues, agents, artists, venues, etc.?
Everyone I have spoken with is more positive. The vaccine was the thing everyone was waiting for. Finally hope, and a better idea of timelines.
Livestreamed shows have shown that fans will pay to see their favourite acts remotely. How do you imagine this technology might develop when regular touring activity resumes?
The shut down of live events made the streaming business grow and become a new asset in our business. It will evolve and find its niche once live events come back – marketing, special launches, tour end (or start), streams, etc.
What advice or encouragement can you give to those who were hoping to break through in 2020, knowing that the market is going to be overcrowded with onsales when the industry gets back to work?
The upside for many artists is that they had over a year off the road to write, record, write, record. When they go out, in many cases, it will not be with just one or two singles out. It will be three-plus deep. That will help.
But be careful with dates/routings and be clever with what extra value your show offers to the punters. Is it priced right? Is the show a must-see? There will be a tsunami of tours!
“Moving forward with new routings and tours, we better be speaking with each other!”
Do you think Latin America’s return to business will be a different experience from that elsewhere?
The lockdowns in most of LatAm were very strict. Folks are inching to go out.
LatAm markets will open sooner – but with local artists. In fact, Brazil started having socially distanced concerts in Sao Paulo this month (50% of capacity up to a max of 2,000 with social distancing, seated). Rio, as of 1 November, can have up to 50% of capacity seated and socially distance, Buenos Aires has theatres opened with 30% capacity and socially distanced. Chile starts with socially distanced shows end of the month, and Uruguay never locked down and has live events at 30% of capacity. Only Peru, Colombia, Puerto Rico and Central America are still without live events.
The front end of the ‘opening’ of concerts around the world will be with local artists. A great opportunity for them to take advantage of and be front and centre.
The way various rival firms have cooperated and collaborated for the common good during the pandemic has been impressive. What hopes do you have that closer industry bonds can continue, post-Covid?
It has always been the smart thing to do. I have always felt that there is a sense of community in our business – no matter how warped we may seem at times!
We just went through a storm like never before. No one in our business was immune. No one will forget this black swan and, also, who stood solid in the storm.
Plus, moving forward with new routings, tours, etc., we better be speaking with each other!
What do you think the biggest challenges are going to be for Live 2.0, and how do you think industry leaders can best guide the business as things reopen?
Everyone will come back wanting to make up for the time lost and costs incurred. This should not cloud our decisions.
Finally, are there any bad habits the industry had that you are hoping might disappear when normality returns?
Yes, high ticket prices! We better look at ticket prices carefully.
There are more reasons than ever before: many people lost their jobs or businesses, others burned through their cash reserves, many currencies devalued during the pandemic, and there will be a lot of options for the consumer – from tours, to sports, to travel, etc. All the things most folks gave up for over a year.