Cuffe and Taylor: ‘Business has bounced back’
The director of Live Nation-owned UK promoter Cuffe and Taylor has told IQ that business is bouncing back strongly from the pandemic.
Cuffe and Taylor, who have staged tours with superstars such as Britney Spears, Rod Stewart, Mariah Carey and Little Mix, curate Lancashire’s 20,000-cap Lytham Festival and programme all live music events at the 8,000-cap Scarborough Open Air Theatre in Yorkshire.
The company’s Peter Taylor reports the firm is selling more tickets than ever before.
“We used to be quite reliant on stadium business, but we’ve created a much more sustainable business that isn’t necessarily relying on a headline artist,” Taylor says IQ. “We’re actually selling more tickets overall as a company. We’re on track to sell in excess of 750,000 tickets [this year], and 2023 is going to be in excess of a million tickets, driven by our theatre business and our outdoor venues.
“The demand is there, we actually haven’t seen a slowdown. Even in January, which is traditionally a slightly softer month, we have quite a number of onsales, all of which delivered great ticket sales.
“It’s been incredible how the business has bounced back, how resilient it has been and how it is even stronger now than it was before the pandemic. It’s been crazy busy but, as I remind everybody every day, this is what we wished for.”
After two years on inaction, Cuffe & Taylor’s flagship Lytham Festival is returning as an expanded 10-day event between 28 June and 10 July with headliners Diana Ross, The Strokes, Lewis Capaldi, Snow Patrol, Nile Rodgers & Chic, Duran Duran, Elbow, Simply Red, Tears For Fears and Paul Weller.
In the festival’s absence, the promoter launched the six-day WonderHall at Lytham Hall in 2021, welcoming artists such as Tom Jones, Anne-Marie and Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra. The event will return in 2023.
“This year is a bit of an anomaly in that we’re doing two weeks in Lytham, so we didn’t want to saturate the market and compete against ourselves,” explains Taylor. “But in ’23, we’re going to go back to five nights and bring back WonderHall. We’ll do Lytham Festival at the end of June, beginning of July, and then WonderHall at the end of August.”
The 2022 line-up for Scarborough, meanwhile, kicks off with a sold-out show by Sam Fender on 27 May, with other acts scheduled to include Crowded House (11 June), Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons (25 June), Westlife (23 July), Christina Aguilera (2 August) and Lewis Capaldi (11 August).
“When I joined Live Nation I was the only promoter at Cuffe and Taylor. Now, I have a team of five”
“I always think Scarborough is an easy sell for tickets, and it doesn’t take a lot of hard tickets out of the market either because it’s a local audience that are proud that somebody like Christina Aguilera’s coming to the town,” he says. “That being said, clearly we bring people in from outside the area because there’s not a hotel room to be had in Scarborough when the concerts are on and we’re working with the council in Scarborough on a master plan for the area around the Open Air Theatre to kickstart that regeneration.”
Last month, the North West-based promoter also announced it had secured an exclusive deal to programme live music events at The Piece Hall in Halifax. Cuffe & Taylor will co-promote the 5,500-cap venue biggest ever summer season of live music in 2022 with The Piece Hall Trust, with headline shows by Jessie Ware, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Nile Rodgers & Chic, Pete Tong & The Heritage Orchestra, Tom Grennan, Paloma Faith, Paul Weller, Primal Scream and Tom Jones.
“The venue wanted to look at a different model and we presented to them the opportunity to work with us in a joint venture,” explains Taylor. “Halifax is perfect, because it sits between Lytham and Scarborough and some things that don’t work at Scarborough and Lytham will work at the Piece Hall because of the capacity.
“It’s a great venue and everything that we’ve put in there has sold extremely strongly. We’ve got some other acts to announce, we’ll probably be doing about 16 shows with them this year. And the deal we’ve signed is a five-year agreement, so we’re already well into programming for 2023.”
Taylor reveals the company currently has no plans to revive its Greenwich Music Time London concert series, which was last held in 2019.
“We didn’t do anything in Greenwich for the last couple of years because we felt the market was softer,” admits Taylor. “Never say never, but we’re finding that getting a foothold in the regional venues – where there’s less competition – is actually proving to be our niche. And at the moment, I’m very keen to expand that regional growth into other areas.”
Cuffe and Taylor, which was founded by Taylor and co-owner Daniel Cuffe, recently celebrated five years as part of Live Nation following its 2017 acquisition.
“It’s been a good home for us,” reflects Taylor. “It’s allowed us to have the network of support that Live Nation is able to offer, while allowing me to really focus on building the business. When you’ve got your own business, you’re everything: the accountant, the lawyer, HR, which doesn’t allow you to focus on developing new business.
“When I joined Live Nation, I was the only promoter [at Cuffe and Taylor]. And now I have a team of five and we’re all on the frontline securing tours, artists and venues, and that has made all the difference.”
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