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Amazon announces full line-up for new Intersect festival

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has revealed the full artist line-up for Intersect, its music and technology festival debuting in Las Vegas next month.

Acts including Jpegmafia, Toro y Moi, the Black Madonna, Japanese Breakfast and Kelsey Lu join the likes of Foo Fighters, Kacey Musgraves, Anderson Paak and the Free Nationals, Beck, Brandi Carlile, Leon Bridges, HER and Jamie XX at the event, which will take place on 6 and 7 November at the 85,000-capacity Las Vegas Festival Grounds.

The festival – which follows the Taylor Swift-headlined Prime Day concert as the web giant’s first new live entertainment project since the abrupt shutdown of Amazon Tickets and Prime Live Events early last year – also includes a reported million square feet (93,000m²) of games and activities, including a video arcade, a ‘post-apocalyptic’ dodgeball stadium and a huge ball pit with 200,000 balls, as well as installations and exhibitions by acclaimed visual artists and a drone light show celebrating women in tech.

“We’ve built a pretty amazing and unusual live music experience at our annual AWS conference that attendees have loved”

Ariel Kelman, vice-president of worldwide marketing for AWS, comments: “Music has been an uncanny unifier of people over the years. We’ve built a pretty amazing and unusual live music experience at our annual AWS conference that attendees have loved, and with Intersect, we’re excited to extend this unique event into a two-day, public music festival.

“Festivalgoers can look forward to a mix of musical performances from legendary acts like the Foo Fighters and Kacey Musgraves, and unique musical talents from the likes of Brandi Carlile, Kelsey Lu, and Jpegmafia, coupled with immersive digital installations and some of the interactive games and technology elements our AWS re:Invent and re:Play attendees know and love.”

Two-day tickets are priced from US$169 and available from intersectfest.com.


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Streaming companies up live presence with new concerts

Apple and Amazon, whose Apple Music and Amazon Music platforms are respectively the second and third most popular music streaming services worldwide, have announced plans for new live events this summer.

Ecommerce giant Amazon will expand this year’s Prime Day – a Black Friday-like discount day for members of its Prime loyalty programme – with a new entertainment component: a Prime Day concert headlined by Taylor Swift.

Available to view from 9pm EST (1am GMT) next Wednesday (11 July) on Amazon’s Prime Video service, the concert’s all-female line-up also includes Dua Lipa, SZA and Becky, as well as actor Jane Lynch, who will host the event.

“We can’t wait to celebrate Prime Day with an extraordinary night of unforgettable performances, for members around the globe,” says Steve Boom, VP of Amazon Music. “Prime Day brings members the best of both entertainment and shopping. To celebrate, we’ve curated a line-up across multiple genres with performances from artists our customers love.

“We’re looking forward to celebrating Prime Day with this can’t-miss, one-of-a-kind event.”

Amazon previous organised a series of shows in the UK, dubbed Prime Live Events, though these were wound up in early 2018 following the shutdown of its Amazon Tickets business.

“We’re looking forward to celebrating Prime Day with this can’t-miss, one-of-a-kind event”

Apple, meanwhile, is taking Apple Music’s Up Next programme and playlist, which focuses on emerging artists, to retail stores across Europe and the US under the banner Up Next Live.

Up Next artists, including Bad Bunny, Daniel Caesar, Khalid, Ashley McBryde, King Princess, Lewis Capaldi and Jessie Reyez, will each play an intimate show in Apple shops in Italy, France, London and the US, starting with Latin star Bad Bunny at Apple Piazza Liberty in Milan on 9 July.

Apple operated its own music festival, Apple Music Festival (formerly the iTunes Festival), in London from 2007 until its cancellation in 2017, and has also sponsored select tours.

Commenting on his involvement with the Up Next initiative, Puerto Rican-born Bad Bunny says: “The impact [of being part of Up Next] can be seen in everything, in numbers, in plays, in shows. There are a lot of fans that, when I go out in the street in the US, people who do not speak Spanish, I think they will not know me and they stop me, they ask me for pictures and they sing my songs…

“It helped me very much to make myself known in a market different from mine, not only the US, but in places where Spanish is not spoken or where perhaps Latin music does not dominate, exposing my music and giving people the opportunity to get to know what I do.”

Streaming market leader Spotify has also taken its playlists on the road, including the Latin-led ¡Viva Latino! Live, grime-focused Who We Be Live and US hip hop-orientated RapCaviar Live.


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Amazon Prime Live Events boss Jason Carter exits

Jason Carter, the former BBC Introducing boss recently appointed to head up Amazon’s Prime Live Events, has stepped down.

Carter (pictured), who joined Amazon in May as director of Prime Live Events for Amazon Tickets, is taking a career break for personal reasons, an Amazon spokesperson tells IQ. Rumours of Carter’s departure were first reported by Hits, with Amazon confirming the news yesterday.

In a statement, the company explains: “Jason has decided, for family reasons, that he needs to take time off from full-time employment.”

Prime Live Events, Amazon UK’s first self-promoted concert series, was announced in May, exclusively available to Amazon Prime subscribers. The first show, Blondie at the Round Chapel in Hackney, was postponed in aftermath of the Manchester Arena bombing.


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Arena attack: Shows axed as premiums set to rise

British venues and promoters have been left counting the cost of last night’s deadly bombing at the Manchester Arena, with a spate of cancellations, questions over security and the threat of a spike in the cost of insurance cover.

The launch of Amazon’s much-heralded Prime Live Events concert series is among the most high-profile events to have been put on hold. As a “mark of respect”, the Blondie show at the 750-capacity Round Chapel tonight has been postponed.

“Out of a mark of respect for the victims of the terrible attack at Manchester Arena last night, Amazon and Blondie will not go ahead with the Prime Live Event scheduled for tonight at the Round Chapel in Hackney, London,” an Amazon spokesperson tells IQ. “We are working together with Blondie to reschedule the event, and we will communicate details to customers as soon as possible.”

Take That have also cancelled their planned concert at the Liverpool Echo Arena tonight “out of respect to all of the people and their families that were affected by the horrific incident” in Manchester, the band say in a statement.

The three-piece are due to play further dates at Manchester Arena later this week; it is not yet known whether those shows will go ahead.

Elsewhere in Manchester, Simple Minds at the Bridgewater Hall (2,400-cap.), Homeshake at Gorilla (700-cap.) and Priests at Gullivers (100-cap.) will all go ahead tonight.

At The O2 in London, meanwhile, Ariana Grande – who was performing at Manchester Arena the night of the bombing – is, at the time of writing, still booked to play on 25 and 26 May, while Iron Maiden have confirmed their 27–28 May dates will go ahead.

“The mood in Manchester is one of defiance: people are thinking, ‘We’re just going to get on with it'”

The most significant festival cancellation so far is Radio Festival, a radio/audio convention backed by PRS for Music, which was due to take place tonight at London’s British Library. Roger Cutsforth, chief executive of event organiser Radio Academy, says: “[D]ue to the sheer number of people from the industry who have been called back to their desks to report on the incident, and the many attendees attempting to travel, we have decided to reschedule the event for later this year.”

DHP Family’s Anton Lockwood, whose Dot to Dot new-music festival returns to Manchester this Friday (26 May), tells IQ it’s business as usual for the promoter until it hears otherwise.

“If police tell us we have to do anything different, we obviously will,” he explains, “but it never occurred to us to cancel.”

Arenas across the UK, as well as many London theatres, are believed to be urgently reviewing security procedures in the aftermath of the attack.

However, Phin Mackness, the managing director of urban booking agency Stateside Touring, says he believes not enough is being done to keep artists and audiences safe.

“This is the third time a music venue has been attacked in the space of 18 months,” he tells IQ, referencing the attacks on the Bataclan and Reina nightclub in Istanbul, “and I can only see that this is going to increase: when you’ve got lots of people in a small space like a venue, it makes an attractive target for terrorists.

“We need change – it’s not specific to the UK, but in live venues as a whole. This could happen anywhere.”

“When you’ve got lots of people in a small space like a venue, it makes an attractive target for terrorists”

In addition to the threat of terror discouraging some artists from visiting certain markets, a prominent industry insurance broker tells IQ premiums are likely to increase in the short-term as a “knee-jerk reaction” to the Manchester bombing.

“The attack is likely to have a direct affect on [insurance] rates”, says Alesco’s Paul Twomey, as underwriters “look at the location of shows: for example, insurers will see more incidents occurring in France and Belgium and so premiums will be higher in Spain, Denmark, Scandinavia…”

Twomey adds, however, that unless Britain is hit by a spate of terror attacks, as has happened in France, insurance policies will only peak in price temporarily. “As the old adage goes, the safest place to be right now is probably in a music venue,” he says.

Regardless of whether the attack is a sign of things to come in the UK, the data is clear: Terrorist incidents at live music events are on the rise, doubling year on year since 2015, with at least four so far in 2017 alone.

With a few exceptions, in Manchester, at least, the show looks to go on. While there is, says Lockwood, “a certain nervousness among some artists, especially Americans, flying in for Dot to Dot” – but the general mood “is one of defiance: people are thinking, ‘We’re just going to get on with it and not let last night stop me doing the things I want to do.”


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Amazon UK launches self-promoted Prime Live shows

Amazon today issued its strongest statement of intent to date about its live music plans, diving headfirst into promoting its own shows with the announcement of a new concert series, Prime Live Events.

Exclusively available to members of Amazon Prime – its £79-a-year subscription service that also includes music and video streaming, faster delivery on purchases from the Amazon website and, most recently, exclusive presales, lounges and premium seating at several AEG venues, including The O2 – the first Prime Live Event will take place on 23 May with a performance by Blondie at the 750-capacity Round Chapel in Hackney, London.

That will be followed by Alison Moyet at the Round Chapel on 12 June, Texas at the 600-cap. Porchester Hall, also in London, on 16 June and Katie Melua at the 770-cap. Cadogan Hall in Chelsea, west London, on 25 and 26 July – although Amazon Tickets general manager Geraldine Wilson tells IQ the initial four shows will be followed by a “continuous programme” of concerts set to grow throughout 2017.

Explaining the decision to eschew working with external promoters, Wilson says while the company “works with promoters right across the UK” on its Amazon Tickets business, for Prime Live Events “we had a very strong idea of what we wanted to create, so it made sense to do it ourselves”.

The launch of Prime Live Events follows two one-off shows by Robbie Williams, at London’s St John-at-Hackney, and John Legend, at the Round Chapel, last December, which served as a trial run for the new series. Both were filmed and made available on demand to Prime members internationally – something that will continue with Prime Live Events shows.

A concert series hosted by a major international corporation with an interest in music streaming has, inevitably, already drawn conclusions with Apple’s successful Apple (né iTunes) Music Festival (“the intimate alternative to the Apple Music Festival”, writes TechRadar), although Wilson says Amazon is potentially in a stronger position owing to its wider reach and almost two decades in the music business.

“We’re addressing an appetite to see intimate shows up close to the artist”

“One of reasons why Amazon uniquely positioned is that we have this broad relationship with artists,” she explains. “We’ve been in music for 18 years – we have two streaming services, we sell their their music, their books, their tickets…

“And not only that, we’re going to be filming them – and that content is going to reach Prime members not just in the UK, but internationally.” (Morgan Stanley estimates there are 65 million Amazon Prime subscribers worldwide.)

Wilson declines to speak about any potential expansion of the concept internationally, but Amazon Tickets is known to be hiring staff in the US ahead of a rumoured launch stateside and the feedback in the UK so far has been positive (both artists and fans “loved” the Robbie Williams and John Legend shows, she says).

With the prospect of seeing their favourite act in an impersonal arena or stadium setting not to everyone’s taste, Amazon is hoping Prime Live Events can fill a gap in the market by putting major acts in mid-sized venues. “There are many different formats for consuming live music – festivals, arenas and stadia – and we’re addressing an appetite to see intimate shows up close to the artist,” concludes Wilson.

“When I was at the John Legend show, you could see the artist clearly no matter where you sat… I was talking to two guys in their late 20s and they said to me, ‘This is how we want to see live music.'”

Prime members with £150 to spare can pick up tickets for the Blondie gig at 9am this Thursday (11 May) from tickets.amazon.co.uk/prime-live-events.


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