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DEAG sales soar, return to pre-pandemic levels

Deutsche Entertainment (DEAG) has reported a return to form in the first quarter of 2022, with sales returning to pre-pandemic levels.

The Berlin-based live entertainment group generated sales of around €31 million in the first three months of 2022 – up 2,700% from Q1 2021 when operating sales were €1.1m and reported sales were €4m.

Sales in Q1 of this year were even higher than the first quarter of 2018 (€27m) and the first quarter of 2019 (€25.5m).

According to the promoter and ticketing agency, the increase is largely down to a number of events in all of the company’s national markets (Germany, the UK, Switzerland, Ireland and Denmark).

Notable events for DEAG in Q1 2022 included concerts by Simply Red and Texas in the UK and Bonnie Tyler in Switzerland, the international literature festival lit.COLOGNE, electronic festival “Mayday – 30 Years” in Germany, and Dita von Teese’s burlesque tour in the UK.

In addition, EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation) in Q1 came to around €2.8m, up from €2.4m in the same period of last year.

“Finally! we can shift into a forward gear operationally once again and do what we burn for: to host exciting events”

For the first time in DEAG’s history, the ticketing segment was profitable in the traditionally weaker first quarter – a growth which is expected to continue throughout the year.

Overall, sales for the financial year of 2022 are expected to multiply year-on-year and significantly exceed pre-corona levels, says the company.

“Finally! Following the paralysis of the entire live entertainment industry caused by corona, we can shift into a forward gear operationally once again and do what we burn for: to host exciting events,” comments Prof. Peter L.H. Schwenkow, CEO of DEAG.

“The audience reactions and our first quarter figures show that we are extremely successful with this. We increased our operating sales by a factor of twenty-eight, a result that we owe entirely to our operational strength.

“Our EBITDA is also clearly positive. The Covid-19-related conditions have since eased further, so we will be burning off event fireworks in the coming quarters. For example, we will stage concerts with stars such as KISS, Ed Sheeran in the UK, Iron Maiden, Zucchero, Die Toten Hosen, Anna Netrebko and Die Ärzte, as well as open-air festivals such as Nature One, Belladrum and Sion sous les étoiles. We are excellently positioned for the restart of the industry. In 2022 as a whole, we will massively increase our sales and even significantly exceed the pre-corona level.”

DEAG says it has already sold more than 6.3 million tickets for events in its core markets for the coming quarters. On the basis of ticket sales and the “bulging event pipeline,” the company expects its upward trajectory to carry on in 2023.

 


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50 years of ‘love’: Phil Bowdery’s golden term

Education is a mantra in Phil Bowdery’s life. “I’ve said to my children many times, ‘Don’t do as I do, do as I say,’ because I was out of school by the age of 15, playing in a band,” he confesses. Still, as one of the doyens of the live music sector, his early departure from school hasn’t served him too badly.

Starting life on the road as the drummer for a band called Choc Ice, Bowdery’s early experiences saw him rubbing shoulders with some of the great and the good of the music business. “Our guitarist was Gordon Gaynor, who I still catch up with now and again,” he says. “But our claim to fame was we had a little bit of a break and made a record with Pye, which was the label in those days.”

Gaynor tells IQ, “I met Phil through Ray Stiles, who was bassist for the band Mud. So Phil joined us on drums, gigging most weeks, and when we stayed out the night I’d share a room with Phil, which was a laugh. When we went to Germany for the first time, we lived on pizza for a month, playing three [one-] hour sets a night – great fun!”

“We used to meet Stevie [Wonder] and his band at a hotel in Mayfair, and we all went on the tour bus together”

Bowdery continues, “We became the backing band for Mac and Katie Kissoon. Katie is now one of Eric Clapton’s backing vocalists, but she and her brother had quite a big hit at the time, and we ended up on the road with The Supremes and also Stevie Wonder, which were both Arthur Howes tours.”

Gaynor comments, “We used to meet Stevie and his band at a hotel in Mayfair, and we all went on the tour bus together. I remember to this day, Phil and I sitting in Stevie’s dressing room as he played us tracks from his first synth album, Music of My Mind; it blew us both away. I have some really fond memories with Phil.”

Indeed, another claim to fame was Bowdery’s part in one of Wonder’s biggest hits. He recalls, “One day at soundcheck, he had this huge boombox that he was using to record stuff, and he asked me to play a rhythm while he recorded. So, in theory, I played on the original demo of You Are the Sunshine of My Life, which is pretty nice because I now promote Stevie Wonder in Europe.”

“In theory, I played on the original demo of You Are the Sunshine of My Life”

When the wheels came off…
The heady heights of life as a support act were short-lived, however, and Bowdery put aside the drumsticks barely a year after hitting the road. “Things in the band were beginning to fall apart, and suddenly the van wasn’t working, and that was sort of the final straw,” he recalls.

“I was 16 at the time, but I still wanted to be involved in music, so I became the non-driving roadie for Mud, who were from my hometown. I got paid £12 a week. When I was old enough to drive, Mud started to have hits, and as the band got bigger and the crew got bigger, that enabled me to become their production manager, then the tour manager, and then I became part of the management team.

“With Mud we were doing clubs and things – there was a chain in Manchester that owned three venues where we’d open up the first club, we’d be middle of the bill on the second, and top of the bill on the third one. So you ended up doing three shows per night in three different venues, which made it worthwhile. When I think about it, we’d break our heads to play a show – I remember going from London to Sunderland [a distance of 275 miles (443km)] for a £40 gig.”

“I remember going from London to Sunderland [a distance of 275 miles (443km)] for a £40 gig”

Sound Moves
When Mud’s fame began to wane, Bowdery saw the potential to earn some extra cash for the act. “We purchased the sound system,” he explains. “I did the deal with Dave Martin, from Martin Audio, himself. And on the back of that, we started a rental company, which I was running as well.”

The shrewd piece of business opened unexpected doors. “The sound company did work with Renaissance, and when their manager, John Scher, decided not to fly in their regular guy from the States, I became their sound engineer,” explains Bowdery.

And his enthusiasm obviously impressed. “I quickly became the band’s tour manager and toured America with them.”
That introduction to America lit a fire. Following Renaissance, Bowdery found himself on back-to-back tours with Charles Aznavour across the States, and, thanks again to the sound rental operation, he also began his long association with Leo Sayer.

“I quickly became the [Renaissance]’s tour manager and toured America with them”

“I came to Barry Clayman via the sound company, as we were working with some of the acts that MAM were promoting,” says Bowdery. “Barry and I just hit it off from day one – I still speak to him on a daily basis, often multiple times.

“When I decided that humping gear was no longer for me, I became Barry’s promoter’s rep for a Leo Sayer tour. I think the first tour was 1979. Leo and I got on like a house on fire, so it got to the point where he asked me to work for him full-time, so I left the sound company and Mud and worked for Leo straight through to ‘85, when he came off the road.”

In the meantime, Barry Clayman made the decision to depart MAM having sold the business to Chrysalis. “I’d always recognised Phil’s potential, so a few years after the Chrysalis deal, I decided to start my own company – Barry Clayman Concerts [BCC] – and I asked Phil to come with me,” Clayman tells IQ.

“When I decided that humping gear was no longer for me, I became Barry’s promoter’s rep for a Leo Sayer tour”

Bowdery recalls, “A year or so into BCC, we got Michael Jackson and did our first tour with him in ‘88. That really helped establish the company as a serious player.”

Indeed, Clayman reveals, “We did seven Wembley Stadiums with Michael Jackson – 560,000 tickets, and every single one was a paper ticket bought in person at a box office or a ticket outlet. Phil ran all of those shows. In fact, at one date when Jackson failed to appear, it was Phil who went on stage to calm the crowd and explain the date would be rescheduled.”

Bowdery says, “I introduced computers to BCC. Michael Jackson’s tour manager, John Draper, had the first Mac I’d ever seen – this bright-green machine, and it just changed everything. Instead of sitting with a piece of paper, a calculator, a pencil and a rubber, doing costings, we started putting them into sheets with formulas.

“We did seven Wembley Stadiums with Michael Jackson – 560,000 tickets, and every single one was a paper ticket”

“I’ll never forget Barry asking what would happen if we put the ticket price up by 50 pence: he couldn’t believe that we could make all the calculations so quickly… I’ve still got all the old figures. I sometimes like to go back and have a look and just see how I did things.”

Leaving on a jet plane
Having Clayman as a mentor, Bowdery took on more and more responsibility, but his first fully promoted tour turned out to be a bittersweet memory.

“The first tour that I promoted, completely sold it myself, was John Denver in 1997. Even though it was a Barry Clayman tour, the credit line was ‘Phil Bowdery for Barry Clayman Concerts,’ which I really appreciated,” he states. Sadly, it would be the final time Denver would visit Europe.

“We played golf a couple of times, and he was talking about this new plane that he’d just bought as a kit and how he was looking forward to seeing it when he got back home. And that was the plane he died in, literally four or five weeks after we finished the tour.”

“The first tour that I promoted, completely sold it myself, was John Denver in 1997”

Immersing himself in the international side of BCC’s operations, Bowdery started to rub shoulders with many peers who have since become colleagues at Live Nation.

“It allowed me to learn the European side by starting to use different promoters around Europe. So, through the likes of John Denver or Tom Jones – for whom I sort of acted as his agent from about 1987 – I got to know Leon Ramakers and Herman Scheuremans and Thomas Johansson.

“That’s how I crafted my European knowledge, by getting to know all those guys – and most of them are now part of the Live Nation family, so it definitely helped that we had pre-existing relationships from when we were all independent.”

Johansson, who these days is Live Nation’s chairman of international music, recalls, “We met for the first time in Holland: Phil was there with The Rubettes for a TV show, and I was there with ABBA for the same programme. Ever since we have worked together with almost every artist in the world!”

“Through the likes of John Denver or Tom Jones, I got to know Leon Ramakers and Herman Scheuremans and Thomas Johansson”

Further south in Europe, Rob Trommelen at Mojo Concerts acknowledges Bowdery’s no-bounds enthusiasm in helping the artists he works with. Explaining that he knows Bowdery from his days as tour manager with Mud, Trommelen tells IQ, “I always enjoy Phil’s stories about his adventures [in the Netherlands] during the trips they made to a variety of clubs and local discotheques – he knows the names of many villages in the middle of nowhere. One day, he even showed me a video in which he joined Mud’s backing dancers!”

Of course, Bob Sillerman’s corporate kleptomania changed the live music business forever, and in 1999 when SFX turned its attention to BCC, Bowdery found himself as one of the principals in the new expansive operation – a position he built upon as Sillerman cashed out to Clear Channel Communications just four months after the BCC acquisition.

“When the company evolved, a position for a European touring chief became apparent,” says Clayman. “Phil was out of contract, but I suggested they speak to him and he became the new number one. I had great confidence in him because I always knew he had what it takes. He was a great learner and was always asking the right questions to expand his knowledge base – it’s me who asks him the questions these days.”

“[Phil] was a great learner and was always asking the right questions to expand his knowledge base”

With Bowdery given the title of executive VP, touring, Europe, when Live Nation spun off from Clear Channel in 2005, his role further expanded when he was promoted to executive president of touring, international, working closely with local partners to set up offices in Australasia, Asia and China, as well as Live Nation’s international touring activities.

Clayman adds, “I take huge satisfaction [in seeing] how successful he has been. On top of being a great music man, he’s a good guy, and he’s great with his staff.”

Born leader
Because there are a full 24 hours in a day, workaholic Bowdery’s role in recent years has extended outside of his Live Nation remit. For more than six years, he has been chairman of the UK’s Concert Promoters Association, while more recently he has been heavily involved in the creation of LIVE, the UK trade body that represented the live entertainment sector so well during the pandemic restrictions.

Explaining how he first became involved in trade associations, Bowdery says, “Barry Clayman was one of the founding members of the CPA, along with Harvey Goldsmith, Paul Crockford, Danny Betesh, Stuart Littlewood and Carole Smith, who just celebrated her 30th year as CPA secretary. If Barry could not make a meeting, I’d go in his place.

“On top of being a great music man, [Phil] is a good guy, and he’s great with his staff”

“Back then, it was all about a PRS fight: they wanted to increase promoter rates from 2% to 6%, but thanks to the CPA, we managed to contain it at 3%.”

Indeed, the CPA recently emerged from another negotiation with PRS that saw rates rise to 4.2% of gross sales. “It’s tough, especially in the current environment,” admits Bowdery, who nevertheless piloted the CPA’s campaign to stymie PRS attempts to increase the tariff to 8%.

“With VAT going back to 20% from April, along with the PRS’s 4.2%, we’ll have 25% coming off the gross before we even start,” he warns. “That’s why we’re challenged, in the UK, to try to match offers that promoters make, particularly in America where there’s no tax in some instances. But it could be worse if it wasn’t for the fact that the CPA has given us a voice.”

Tres Thomas, senior vice president of operations and the global director of touring for Live Nation, commends Bowdery for his leadership skills, both within the company and at the CPA.

“Like myself, Phil is pretty much the road guy who has done everything”

“Like myself, Phil is pretty much the road guy who has done everything,” says Thomas. “When I first met him, I was working with the likes of Ozzy Osbourne, Ronnie James Dio, and Deep Purple, and Phil was the guy who started with production and settled the show afterwards – we’d argue over nickels and dimes and catering bills and all those things, but he was always a gentleman and always respectful.

“Phil taught me that the promoter/artists/agents table could be round – it didn’t need to be squared off, with battle lines drawn.”
Thomas adds, “Phil has done a wonderful job of mentoring the next generation – Sophia Burn, Ellen Proudlove, Gary McIsaac… He realises that the business will not be ours in ten years, so he’s making sure the next generation is prepared to take over.”

Covid
The importance of trade associations and support organisations has, of course, been underlined during the past couple of years, as the global pandemic shuttered touring activity around the world, leaving hundreds of thousands of workers without gainful employment.

“Phil taught me that the promoter/artists/agents table could be round – it didn’t need to be squared off, with battle lines drawn”

Revealing how his normal day-to-day routine simply stopped, Bowdery tells IQ, “I had Clannad playing the London Palladium on the 17 March [2020], on their final tour. At the meet-and-greet in Birmingham, three days before, they all had gloves on. That was the first sign I’d seen of any response to the virus. But then I got a call from UTA telling me that someone who was at the gig got Covid. It was all so new to us that we started scrambling to put in safeguards.

“Then, when I was at a meeting at Heathrow on March 16, I got a phone call, and I was told ‘The office is closing. And by the way, the Palladium is closed. That’s it. No show tomorrow.’ And from that moment, my study at home became my office.”

While the industry initially started rescheduling gigs by a matter of weeks, it became apparent to Bowdery that Covid could be around for much longer, and he realised, along with a number of peers, that live music was dangerously under-represented in terms of government lobbying.

“The theatre business got pretty loud pretty quickly. But nobody was talking for us: there were a lot of people jumping up and down, but nothing was happening for us, so there was an urgent desire to at least try to be heard and put our situation front and centre as much as we could.”

“The CPA still means an awful lot to me, but LIVE is something that is even better”

Bowdery, alongside Kilimanjaro Live’s Stuart Galbraith and ILMC’s Greg Parmley, set about creating the LIVE trade association and putting together a strategy to lobby government ministers about the plight of the hundreds of thousands of professionals that depend on live entertainment for their income.

“I think we achieved an awful lot,” says Bowdery, underplaying the complexity of the task. “I really believe the reduction in VAT was down to us. I believe that the government’s creation of the relief fund was down to us. And there was an awful lot achieved by doing the test events – Melvin Benn’s test events at first, then everybody else elsewhere doing test events to prove that our industry is adaptable, and if people wanted to go to events, then we were more than capable of finding a way of getting them there safely.”

Understandably proud of those achievements, Bowdery says, “The CPA still means an awful lot to me, but LIVE is something that is even better – it gives us that umbrella organisation we’ve always been missing. In saying that, it’s important that we have all the different organisations feeding into LIVE because that will help to keep the balance: particularly with the Production Services Association, which is the production side; with Mark Davyd and the Music Venue Trust; and also the concert halls and the National Arenas Association because that gives you representation from the grassroots to the biggest venues, again keeping the balance with everyone.”

“We all owe [Phil] a debt of gratitude for the time and effort that he spends for the good of the business”

Bowdery’s efforts have not gone unrecognised. “The work he has done with the LIVE group over the last two years has been stellar – a steadying hand during a very rough voyage,” notes Emma Banks, co-head of CAA’s London-based operations. “We all owe him a debt of gratitude for the time and effort that he spends for the good of the business, never looking for any glory for himself.”

DF Concerts chief Geoff Ellis says, “Phil is one of the best promoters in the world, and there are very few who command the same respect that he has internationally, so it’s been a pleasure to serve on the CPA board with him.

“His work through the pandemic with the CPA and LIVE has helped immeasurably. When I was meeting with all the political parties in Scotland to talk about the insurance problem, Phil took the time to meet with the cabinet secretary responsible for culture to make sure the Scottish government understood the problems of our industry.”

Bowdery himself tips his hat toward the unprecedented collaboration between industry rivals throughout the pandemic, noting that their willingness to work together for the greater good bodes well as the business recovers. “When something like a pandemic happens it just makes you realise how much the strength of coming together makes a difference,” he says. “Information is power, and sharing information with each other has worked really well.”

“Phil is one of the best promoters in the world, and there are very few who command the same respect that he has”

Universal Love
Many of the people that IQ spoke to for this article note Bowdery’s extraordinary communication skills, pointing out his ability to solve problems with ease, as well as the unique relationship he maintains with artists.

Bowdery believes those attributes were picked up through his desire to be in the live music business. “I left school at 15 with no qualifications – I was not academic,” he says. “But I was streetwise, and my education was being on the road: that taught me life. I had to think on my feet, and when you do that you are communicating.”

Hinting at where he honed his legendary negotiation proficiency, Bowdery recalls a game he’d play with musicians in hotels where the goal was to taste all the whisky behind the bar without paying for a drop. “That was all down to communication and building a relationship with the barman. There was no harm done, but it was all about the ‘gift of the gab’.”

He adds, “I’ve always made sure when I go to a club or theatre or wherever that the person who works on the door genuinely knows that they are as important to me as the guy in the office who is paying the band. Let’s face it, if the door isn’t open, nobody gets in. So I try to ingratiate myself with people and I’m not above communicating with everyone. Everyone is equal.”

Being the long-term manager for Michael Ball, and the agent and tour director for Tom Jones, his approach to dealing with artists is equally simple. “You need to have empathy,” he says. “Without artists, we don’t have jobs. We facilitate them to play to an audience: there is no industry without them.”

“I left school at 15 with no qualifications – I was not academic. But I was streetwise, and my education was being on the road”

Changing Landscape
Examining some of the technological breakthroughs he has witnessed during his distinguished career, Bowdery underlines the power of the Internet as a game changer. “It’s changed completely the whole marketing aspect of what we do,” he observes. “There was a time when it was only the younger artists that benefitted, but now it’s everyone.

“It really hit home with One Direction. Then agent Paul Fitzgerald and managers Richard [Griffiths] and Harry [Magee] tasked us to do the tour without using any print. And we sold out the entire European stadium tour on social media.” Reluctant to identify particular gigs as career highlights, Bowdery nevertheless namechecks certain acts. “Tom Jones, who I love, of course,” he states, while he admits he would have loved to have worked with The Beatles and Elvis Presley, especially as he has heard so many legendary anecdotes from Tom Jones about his Vegas days with Elvis.

He also lauds Live Nation chief Michael Rapino for his role in changing the live music business. “I was very fortunate to spend a lot of time with him when he worked in the London office,” Bowdery says. “That’s stood me in good character since because if I need to speak to him – and it’s not something I do that much – he’s always ready to talk. But I think so much of the global growth for the live music business is down to Michael Rapino. His vision is incredible, and he knows what works.”

“If everything pans out as planned in 2022, he’s looking at one of his busiest years ever”

The Future
With 85-year-old mentor, Barry Clayman, still going strong as a promoter, Bowdery, likewise, isn’t entertaining any ideas of stepping away. Indeed, if everything pans out as planned in 2022, he’s looking at one of his busiest years ever.

“Obviously, the huge success of Coldplay throughout Europe is just enormous, and Harry Styles has two sold-out Wembley stadiums plus Manchester plus Glasgow,” he notes. We’re actually getting into holding stadium dates for 2024,” he reveals. “It’s obvious that the need and desire of everyone to get back to business – and for fans to catch up on two years without live shows – is alive and well.

“I have Genesis, Crowded House, Sting and Westlife going out as the last artists I’ve had to reschedule. Wembley Stadium with Westlife, for example, should have been in 2020 and is now going to happen in ‘22 – we’ve nearly caught up.”

However, as with many in the industry, Bowdery remains concerned over the pandemic’s impact on the live music supply chain. “Talking to major staging contractors, trucking companies, production services, is worrying,” he reports. “It’s all very well me booking a tour, but if the sound isn’t available or if the stage can’t get there, then the artist won’t be able to perform.”

“The biggest thrill for me is actually seeing that show that I had the idea for; and then standing there watching it”

But he’s hopeful that the satisfaction he derives from organising gigs is also felt by others along the length of the supply chain. “There are so many people in our industry that have changed vocation, not out of desire but out of necessity, so we are going to suffer shortages, and that’s why everyone’s working so hard at the moment to try to make sure that they are aligned with their suppliers. But it’s not easy.

“The biggest thrill for me is actually seeing that show that I had the idea for; and then put the deal together, got it on sale, built it; and then standing there watching it. It’s still a rush, and I think lots of people who are involved in working on live music experience the same feelings, so I’m confident that we’ll get some of the people back from the likes of Amazon or whoever they switched their skills toward during the pandemic.”

He adds, “I’ve been very fortunate to work with some of the best acts in the world, from Streisand to Coldplay to Bruce Springsteen to BTS to Tom Jones. But it’s not one particular artist that I associate that feeling of joy – it’s every single show, be it at a club or a stadium, Dave Gahan at Shepherd’s Bush Empire or BTS or Springsteen at Wembley Stadium – the same effort has gone in, in theory, to actually put that together. Getting that satisfaction is what I love.”

 


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NZ promoter quits after 30 years due to restrictions

A New Zealand promoter has called it quits after 30 years in the business, blaming the government’s lack of support for the events and entertainment sector.

Phil Sprey, owner of Wellington’s Capital C Concerts, counts Elton John, Alice Cooper and Bon Jovi among his clients but says two years of Covid-19 restrictions has ruined the business he built over 30 years.

He says the “final straw” was the government’s decision yesterday to remain in the red traffic light setting, which limits indoor concerts to 200 people.

“Nobody’s giving clear, long-term answers – and on that basis you can’t do international deals,” Sprey told The Stuff.

“For domestically based promoters it’s becoming nigh on impossible at the moment because you can’t write a contract.”

“We haven’t had an artist in over two years, so I thought, let’s finally pull the plug”

Before the pandemic, Capital C specialised in major stadium-sized concerts. Since Covid-19 hit there had been no bookings to keep the business afloat, and no help from the government, he said.

“We haven’t had an artist in over two years, so I thought, let’s finally pull the plug.

“Instead of passing my business on to my eldest son, I had to make him redundant, unemployed and now can’t even leave him anything more than a memory,” Sprey said.

The long list of shows brought to Wellington by Capital C also includes KISS, Moody Blues, Ozzy Osbourne, Poison, Sol3mio, Little River Band, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Herman’s Hermits and The Searchers.

The government announced last month it was extending the Events Transition Support Payment scheme, which offers a 90% subsidy of unrecoverable costs to events with more than 5,000 people cancelled due to restrictions.

For Sprey, who couldn’t arrange international acts because of the pandemic, there were no bookings in place to claim on.

 


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60 years of Karsten Jahnke Konzertdirektion

When Karsten Jahnke registered the company name back in 1962, the enthusiastic music man had already been immersed in his favourite genre –jazz – since the decade before but admits that running a company that would allow him to indulge in his passion was never really a goal.

“The first jazz ball I promoted was 1959 for a band of a friend,” he recalls. “Afterwards, I remember receiving a letter from the authorities telling me that I needed a type of licence to put on such a show.”

At the time, Karsten was working in an export company in Hamburg, but with his evenings free, he would organise shows when he found the time and otherwise spent his waking hours listening to jazz records and trying to contact the representatives of the artists he liked best.

Finally, in 1962, his employer persuaded him it was maybe time to chase the dream, and with the registration of Karsten Jahnke Konzertdirektion (KJK), he took possession of the licence that local government had been urging him to obtain for his concerts and events.

“When I started, I had one assistant and one freelancer because I have no knowledge about the technical side of things, so I made sure to have an expert for the technology,” he tells IQ. “I had a fantastic start because I was working with a German ‘nonsense’ group called Insterburg & Co. and every year we had between 80-150 sold-out shows with capacities of 1,000-2,000. So for ten solid years, we made money.”

““When I started, I had one assistant and one freelancer because I have no knowledge about the technical side of things”

The success of the boutique KJK operation also attracted the attention of Germany’s powerhouse promoters, and Karsten would often find himself working with Marcel Avram and Marek Lieberberg at Mama Concerts, as well as Fritz Rau, who dominated the German market from the 1950s right through to the 80s. Those collaborations saw Karsten working with the likes of David Bowie, Stevie Wonder, Santana, and Neil Diamond, expanding his roster beyond its jazz routes.

Indeed, while losing money on the odd show was, of course, part of the reality of being a promoter, the first time Karsten experienced real difficulties was 20 years into his career. “It was 1983, and Marius Müller-Westernhagen cancelled a tour one day before it was scheduled to start,” says Karsten.

“I was insured by an English company who said they would pay, but all of a sudden it was six months later, so I employed an English lawyer, and after 18 months we got the money, which at that time was DM650,000. It was a lot of money [about €330,000 in today’s money], and if we had not got it back, the company would have been bankrupt.”

While a passion for the art lies at the heart of everything Karsten does, he is a realist when it comes to working in the industry. “I like music, but it makes no sense if you like the music and you can’t make money,” he states. “We had a lot of successful tours and, okay, sometimes you lose some artists – Depeche Mode we lost, Herbert Grönemeyer we lost. But some, like The Dubliners, we’ve booked for their entire 40 years. And we still have Peter Gabriel and we still have The Cure, so to be honest, I’m really happy.”

I like music, but it makes no sense if you like the music and you can’t make money”

Keeping it in the Family
Although Karsten was always keen to keep his eponymous company within the family, sons Torsten and Heiko found careers elsewhere, albeit Torsten still designs many of the company posters and artwork, while Heiko curates ÜBERJAZZ Festival and works with the company’s booking team on certain acts. Instead, the family business skipped a generation, with grandson Ben Mitha assuming the CEO role in 2014 alongside his grandfather and long-time chief Hauke Tedsen as the company’s three general managers. But it wasn’t always a certainty that Ben would take over the reins.

“During my school days, there was always this soft push and wish of Karsten to get somehow involved in the company,” he reveals. “But I kept my options open to do something different. So when I finished my A levels, it was a choice for me to either go into sports journalism or go Karsten’s way.”

The decision was made during an open house visit to Hamburg University. “Part of the programme was a journalism lecture,” says Ben. “There were, like, 2,000 people in there and about 2,000 more trying to get in. So I realised, no matter how good I think I am, pursuing a career as a journalist would be challenging. So I made the decision to go into music business and never regretted it.”

Keen to learn his trade, Ben found a role as an intern for Ted Kurland in Boston, while embarking on dual studies for both a bachelor degree and a merchant degree. “After three years, I had both degrees, and then I just started working my way through at KJK, starting as a booker and working my way up to managing director as I assumed more and more responsibilities.”

“We are now in a position where we pretty much have a specialist or a booker with knowledge of pretty much every genre”

“Of course, he started really when he was three years old in the StadtPark during the summer,” interjects Karsten. “Little Ben was always around, and he loved it.”

“It’s true,” says Ben. “My mom did the box office at Stadtpark, so I was always hanging around and playing in the bushes and stuff like that. So I suppose I got the experience from very early on.”

Karsten describes Ben’s path to the top as natural. “As a school pupil, he started to work at the company during his holidays. And after his A Levels, he started his own company, Digga Events, a full-service agency for security and stage personnel that now also handles concert production. So when he decided to join our company, it seemed like a very logical next step, and I was really happy to have a family member on board to have him leading the company into the future.”

And Ben’s impact on KJK’s activities over the past decade has been obvious. “When I started at the company, I started to open up the general roster in a more diverse and wider way,” he explains. “So we are now in a position where we pretty much have a specialist or a booker with knowledge of pretty much every genre except the classical market and German folklore (schlager) business, which we don’t cover.

“The first ILMCs I joined Karsten at, I could see that everybody knew him, everybody liked him, everybody respected him”

“While Karsten loves jazz, I originally come from the hip-hop and urban world,” he adds. “There are a few names I’m working with now, like Cypress Hill, Wu-Tang Clan, Nas, J. Cole, who definitely are some heroes from my teenager years. It makes me proud to be a small, tiny part of their art.”

That passion for music is something passed down the generations, and Ben is in no doubt about the legacy his grandfather has created for the family.

“Karsten’s 70th birthday was a big party at the Schauspielhaus in Hamburg with 1,200 guests,” recalls Ben. “It was remarkable how many domestic and international stars showed up – Paul Weller, The Dubliners, Nils Landgren, Til Brönner, Herman van Veen, Justin Nozuka – as well as loads of politicians and celebrities. It was really impressive to see how many people travelled to Hamburg just to honour this guy.”

And he says his first trips to the Royal Garden Hotel similarly underlined his grandfather’s status in his eyes. “The first ILMCs I joined Karsten at, I could see that everybody knew him, everybody liked him, everybody respected him and wanted to speak to him. Seeing his standing on the international stage showed me how well respected Karsten is throughout the business.”

“[Karsten] taught me that life is too short to deal with assholes”

So with such a sage to learn from, what has the grandfather’s best advice been to the new company leader? “He taught me that life is too short to deal with assholes,” says Ben. “Besides that, I try to follow his style and manner of doing business. We have a saying in Germany that he is a typical Hanseatic businessman, which means he is always laid back, calm, loyal, trustworthy and respectful. That’s something he showed me from the very beginning, and I try to keep that spirit alive. Your word is your bond.”

Covid
Marking the company’s 60th anniversary while the German market is still trying to manoeuvre its way out of Covid restrictions will undoubtedly put a dampener on celebrations, but it hasn’t stopped the KJK staff from working tirelessly to prepare for their return to action.

“During the last two years, there was a strong focus on local and domestic artists because those were the only ones available and the only ones present in Germany,” Ben observes. However, he pours scorn on suggestions that emerging domestic talent has benefitted.

“Germany only had a few newcomers that came through, because the only thing they could do was streaming or some social media stuff. Otherwise, there was a huge lack of options and possibilities for the newcomers to come through,” notes Ben. “Obviously, the more popular and well-known domestic artists had a platform because all the attention was focused on them. But everything that comes after them struggled during the last two years. So I wouldn’t say that the domestic scene has experienced much growth.”

“Germany is one of the very few countries that still has so many local promoters in place”

Examining the changes to the German market during the pandemic, Ben notes the arrival of both DreamHaus and All Artists Agency, but he believes the new sense of camaraderie within the country is also boosted by the very unique nature of the way in which the live music business operates in the nation.

“As it stands right now, we are all very cooperative and there’s a spirit of solidarity, but once you open the gates and the normal competition comes back in, this will be shifted to the side pretty quickly,” he laughs.

He continues, “Germany is one of the very few countries that still has so many local promoters in place. Everywhere else is more centralised and the big players can easily take over a whole country by storm. It doesn’t work that way in Germany because of our historic background and also from the cultural differences within the country – the people from Bavaria are very different than we are in the north; the people in Eastern Germany are very different than the Western people, and stuff like that.”

Nonetheless, KJK is not immune from attracting suitors, and the pandemic has seen a number of approaches from corporations keen to add the Hamburg-based experts to their portfolio.
“We had some offers, but I was not interested,” Karsten tells IQ. “I want us to remain independent, and with such a young guy by my side, I can be happy.”

“I want us to remain independent, and with such a young guy by my side, I can be happy.”

Ben says, “Yes, a couple of bigger corporates approached us. Corona has been hard for all of us, but the company came through pretty well because we had good years before the pandemic, and we had lots of money saved that we could use to get us through this crisis.

“If we were to sell the company, it would be because the deal would bring us certain benefits: maybe access to another pool of artists that we couldn’t get access to without being part of a corporate, or maybe synergies in the label world. But so far, everybody who approached us just wanted to give us a ton of money for 50% of our annual revenues. And that’s not interesting for us at all because we don’t need to sell anything or to generate money.”

Talking through KJK’s Covid experience, both Karsten and Ben emphasise the strength in remaining independent, as they managed to retain all 46 staff and used government furlough schemes to keep staff on full pay when they were not otherwise working normal hours.

Detailing some of the company activity during 2020-21, Ben says, “We started with drive-in concerts, and then we took on seated shows at the Stadtpark with a very reduced audience – only playing one-quarter of the overall capacity. We also did a streaming series, and we came back in summer 21 with a whole bunch of open- air social distance concepts.

Loyalty toward employees is one of the reasons that many staff remain at the company for their entire career

“None of the shows made us any money, but they helped to keep us busy and to keep the whole infrastructure around us alive with all the suppliers, the crews, the bands, and the artists. This was one of our main concerns, as we saw it as our responsibility to keep our suppliers and the people we need open, ahead of things getting back to normal, otherwise we might have a huge lack of suppliers. So, that was our main intention for our pandemic shows.”

That loyalty toward employees is one of the reasons that many staff remain at the company for their entire career. “I started on first of April 1994, which makes it 28 years and counting,” says Frehn Hawel, the company’s head of communications, noting, “I’m not the only person clocking in around 30 years – there’s our third general manager, Hauke Tedsen, there’s Peter Gramsch head of our local department, and in my team I have Kai Friedrichsen who has also been here around 30 years. We have a long history of people who dedicate their lives to this company.”

And Hawel epitomises the family feel to KJK, having worked his way up through the ranks organically. “I was friends at school with Karsten’s youngest son, and when we moved into our first bachelor pad together, Karsten’s wife, Girlie, offered us some box office jobs to boost our income,” says Hawel. “My job during the day ended at five o’clock in the afternoon. So it was perfect to go to Karsten’s office, pick up everything and start in the box office at seven o’clock.”

Determined to find a full-time job with Karsten, Hawel even spent his holiday time doing an internship in the booking department at KJK. And it paid off when in 1994 a vacancy arose. “Unfortunately, it was not as a booker, but as a bookkeeper. But it got my foot in the door, and a couple of years later our press team left to join BMG’s record labels and, after a bit of persuasion, Karsten trusted me to step into the job. He just said ‘I think you’re my new press guy then.’ And that was that.”

“Karsten is an artist man, first and foremost”

With the company now around triple the size it was in the mid-90s, Hawel oversees a team of five people, all of whom are being moulded in the KJK tradition. “Karsten is an artist man, first and foremost,” states Hawel. “Ben is similar but he has a laser focus on the business side of things, too – they kind of feed off each other in terms of that Ben comes from an economic point of view. A company that’s only looking at figures will not have the connections to the artists that we have with our artists, so it works very well and the transition has been smooth.

“I know it was a relief for Karsten when Ben joined the company because Ben has a strong entrepreneurial side that allows him to see opportunities and then do the research to make sure they will be a success. The good thing from an employee’s point of view is we know the leaders will steer the ship, and we can trust them totally, and that’s been underlined by this pandemic – thanks to their leadership we’re emerging even more closely knit than we were before.”

Reeperbahn Festival
That concept of considering the needs of the industry is a Jahnke family trait. The company is a partner in the massively successful Reeperbahn Festival, with Karsten being one of the event’s founders.

“I met Karsten for the first time in 2004, when the company [had] already existed for more than 40 years,” Alex Schulz, managing director of Reeperbahn Festival, tells IQ. “I was searching for a professional promoter for my idea for Reeperbahn Festival because it was quite clear that we could not establish this event with only my company, which had absolutely no experience in artist booking, etc.

“It wasn’t a new idea, but the Reeperbahn in Hamburg is the absolute right place to present new music”

“The option to establish a platform for new talents and established acts that Karsten personally liked – no, loved – was definitely one of the driving forces. And from the first edition of Reeperbahn Festival in 2006 until now, Karsten is present at as many programme events as possible, from midday until midnight, four days in a row. Every year, about one week before the event starts, Karsten will call me in order to ask me to send a list of recommendations for both the conference sessions as well as concerts.”

Karsten states, “It wasn’t a new idea, but the Reeperbahn in Hamburg is the absolute right place to present new music. And now the conference is getting very big, alongside maybe the biggest showcase festival in Europe. The first idea was to present unknown bands, but now it’s an international festival and I think we’ve developed it well.”

Schulz believes that Inferno Events’ partnership with Karsten Jahnke Konzertdirektion has been crucial to the success of Reeperbahn, while the close relationship between the operations involves many of KJK’s staff working directly on the event. “Petra, Alina, Anja, Jessica, Frehn, Karen and Stefan are just a few of the people in the team that we share our daily business with,” he says.

“About ten years ago, Karsten introduced me to Ben, and I appreciate his point of view and advice very much, especially since we have been working closer together for the last two years.”

For his part, Ben comments, “At the beginning, we had the wrong strategy [for Reeperbahn], so we lost a ton of money because we just had too many venues and too many unknown bands involved. We thought about bringing bigger acts to smaller venues and charging specific venue tickets or day tickets to make up the finances, but that wasn’t the case, so we made big losses and that forced us to adapt the concept.”

“No matter how efficient and how successful we are, [Reeperbahn] would not be possible without the gov funding we receive”

Expanding the remit of the event to appeal to an international audience was part of the solution. “In the end, this is the success of Reeperbahn – it’s now a global brand,” says Ben. “People from abroad know that if you want to take your first steps in Europe, you can do it via Reeperbahn because you have everything in one place.

“But no matter how efficient and how successful we are, the festival and conference would not be possible without the government funding we receive, as the capacity is just too small to generate enough income to cover the costs on our own. But thankfully, this is recognised by the German government and the city of Hamburg who provide funding.”

The Future
While KJK’s principals carefully plot the company’s path out of the pandemic, its independent style already has it a step ahead of some of its peers in Germany. A number of promoters in Germany participated in the nation’s voucher scheme when the pandemic first hit the events calendar, but KJK opted out.

“I think it was mainly a tool for people who had cashflow problems,” says Ben. “So we decided not to participate, and I’m now hearing a lot of partners are facing huge problems because the scheme ran out at the end of last year but people now want refunds of their vouchers.”

“We are more hands-on simply because it’s our own money that we might lose”

Smooth Transition
The passing of the leadership baton to his grandson gives Karsten satisfaction on a number of levels. “Ben is now doing all the great shows that I promoted before. And that leaves me to do my favourite music: jazz,” says Karsten, who has created a genre-specific series called JazzNights. “In this series, I work with live venues like the Elbphilharmonie or the Old Opera in Frankfurt or the Philharmonic in Cologne, all the concert halls and so on. And musicians and audiences like these venues, so it’s been a great success.”

He adds, “When I was young, jazz was the most important music in Germany, in the 50s. Rock came in the early 60s, but the 50s was all about jazz. And for me, it’s the most interesting music. To be honest, it’s a privilege to promote music that you like, and even better if you don’t lose money.”

Not losing money is a bit of a family mantra. “Live Nation or AEG can easily say, ‘Okay, we might lose money in Germany, but that’s not a problem because we can cross-finance the tour with the UK leg or US or something like that,’” opines Ben.

“From our point of view, we only have this one market in which we can compete, so we have to be more thoughtful and careful about the offers because if we lose money, it’s not shareholder money, it’s our own money. And we don’t want to get in the situation where we can’t pay our wages or Karsten has to sell his house.”

But Ben also sees that process as an advantage. “We are more hands-on simply because it’s our own money that we might lose. So we put harder work into projects to make them a success.”

As for company expansion, Ben believes that “smart growth” is the way forward.

“We’re quite happy with the independent position we have in the market right now”

“We’re quite happy with the independent position we have in the market right now, and we also get a lot of trust and respect from our clients and the managers we work with because they like our hands-on approach.

“But at the same time, we look left and right. So, for example, we just took over the Baltic Soul Weekender, which is a huge soul-, r&b-, 60s-, Mo- town-related event, which perfectly fits our company’s strategy and our company brands. It’s a smart acquisition that totally makes sense.

“We also launched a new company called KJ Projects, which is currently running a 4,000-capacity tent venue in Hamburg because there’s a huge lack of venues of this size in the city. This is another smart approach for us to grow the brand. And we’re talking to a couple of venues and a couple of smaller boutique festivals that might fit our brands and be good add-ons.

“This is more or less our strategy: we’re always pretty niche with most of our core business, so we want to stay in that niche and look left and right to identify other niches that could make sense for us.”

And with Karsten able to devote more of his time to jazz, he’s more than happy to leave the future in Ben’s safe hands. “I happened to develop real friendships with many artists over the years, especially with Herbie Hancock, but also Branford Marsalis, Gregory Porter, Herman van Veen, and, of course, John Sheahan of The Dubliners,” says Karsten. “I’m incredibly lucky that I’ve always worked with artists whose music I really like – it can’t get much better than that in this business.”

 


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DEAG on the road to recovery after strong 2021

Deutsche Entertainment (DEAG) has reported a strong fourth quarter and a significant increase in revenue and earnings in the financial year 2021.

The Berlin-based live entertainment group saw its revenue hit €91 million in 2021, up 82% from €49.9m in 2020.

In addition, EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation) rose by 144% from €9m in 2020 to €22.1m in 2021.

DEAG says the increases in earnings and revenue are down to “a significant upturn in operating activities” in the second half of 2021.

The promoter and ticket agency owns businesses in Germany, Switzerland, the Republic of Ireland and the UK – which has been fully open since last summer.

“DEAG has weathered the pandemic comparatively well over the past two years, which have not been easy for the entire live entertainment industry due to Covid-19,” says professor Peter Schwenkow. “We stand on strong legs, have successfully continued our expansion course in Germany and Europe and are currently experiencing an increasing return to normal for our business activities in all our core markets and high demand for tickets for concerts and events.”

“We are excellently positioned for future growth with our broad portfolio of events and our strong financial position”

Last year, the company delisted from the stock market after 23 years as a listed company, with CEO Peter Schwenkow telling IQ that DEAG could raise more funds as a private company than on the financial markets.

The company later announced it raised more than €6m to fund future acquisitions in “key markets” such as literary events production company Fane Productions in the UK.

“We are excellently positioned for future growth with our broad portfolio of events and our strong financial position,” continues Schwenkow. “Our ticket sales are at an above-average level and we have started the current year with plenty of tailwind.

“In the UK, booking levels are already back to pre-crisis levels and in our other core markets they are approaching 2019 levels again, the year before the corona pandemic broke out. We will offer visitors hundreds of events over the next few months and set off event fireworks.”

Schewnkow recently told IQ the company was seeing a 50-80% increase in ticket sales compared to pre-pandemic.

In view of the recovery in its core markets, strong ticket sales and growth from the companies acquired in 2021, DEAG says it expects a significant improvement in EBITDA and further revenue increases in 2022.

 


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Gracia Live pressing ahead with blockbuster shows

Gracia Live’s Sam Perl has told IQ the company is determined to press ahead with blockbuster shows in Belgium and France in the next few weeks despite ongoing restrictions in the region.

Last month, Belgium introduced a coronavirus barometer in correlation with the number of Covid-related hospitalisations and ICU cases. It is currently at code red, meaning promoters are only permitted to stage seated concerts at restricted capacities.

However, Antwerp-based promoter Gracia is planning to stage Disney On Ice productions in Brussels at the Forest National next weekend and Antwerp’s Lotto Arena from 23-27 February, before hosting Andrea Bocelli at Paris’ Accor Arena on 3 March and the Sportpaleis in Antwerp two days later.

“During Code Red we are finally allowed to promote seated-only shows up to a certain venue capacity,” explains Perl. “If you can guarantee enough air circulation per m³, you can open up to a bigger capacity. After we determined the capacities with the various venues, we decided together with Andrea Bocelli’s team and Feld Entertainment – producer of Disney On Ice – for the shows to go on and take place.

“We are expecting 55,000 to 60,000 spectators for Disney On Ice in February in Belgium and 22,000 in Antwerp and Paris for Bocelli at the beginning of March. It has been a painful bureaucratic process to try to make these show happen , but thankfully we got a great and motivated team to navigate these ‘fun’ waters with. No other promoter is taking the risk at the moment, but we want to get things moving and get started.”

“It’s great to be able to open up in Belgium and France, but that doesn’t mean anything in terms of international touring if other European countries remain closed”

Belgian ministers say the country is close to moving from red to orange on the barometer introduced a few weeks ago “but people still need to exercise caution”. In orange, the Covid Safe Ticket (CST) is required for both indoor and outdoor events (with the option of requiring an extra rapid antigen test at the entrance for nightclubs). An announcement regarding standing shows is expected to be imminent.

France, meanwhile, began a gradual easing of limits on live events at the start of February.

“The fact that the Andrea Bocelli show is a seated show and only part of a two-show run, and that Disney On Ice is touring France after our Belgium engagement, has been our saviour and allowed us to confirm these shows,” says Perl. “We’re lucky that France is also ‘open’. If we were between the Netherlands and Germany on the routing, we would have had a problem.

“It’s great to be able to open up in Belgium and France, but that doesn’t mean anything in terms of international touring if other European countries remain closed.”

As standing shows are not currently permitted under the current regulations, Grazia has pushed a number of shows, including sold out gigs with Måneskin at the Forest National and Luxembourg’s Rockhal originally slated for this month, to 2023. Upcoming dates by A-ha in May, Olivia Rodrigo, Eric Clapton and John Fogerty in June, and Toto in July are still scheduled to go ahead as planned.

“There is definitely some risk involved with international touring and we are aware we’re going to be a pilot [study] for our colleagues promoters and other venues to learn from, but we have to get started,” adds Perl. “We’re hopeful that by March we’ll be able to start with standing shows again as well.

‘We’re an independent company – we left Live Nation in 2009 and restarted in 2011. But before that, our company was called Make It Happen. That’s still our mantra to this day and I’d like to think it suits us well.”

 


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New indie promoter Take Me Out launches in France

French concert organiser Speakeasy has joined forces with Paris rock club Supersonic to launch new national promoter, Take Me Out, with a focus on breaking emerging artists.

Run by live music industry veteran Jean-Louis Schell, Speakeasy worked with acts such as The Libertines and Kasabian, while the 300-cap Supersonic in Bastille has welcomed the likes of Yungblud, The Warlocks, Nick Olivieri and Soccer Mommy, along with DJ sets by Peter Hook, Anton Newcombe and Carl Barat, among others.

“The idea behind Take Me out is to build on the strengths of both companies to spot talent early on and book their gigs on French territory,” Schell tells IQ.

“The Supersonic has been attracting crowds for the past six years with three free shows a night, a strong programme of up and coming international acts and indie nights. The next step for them was obvious – to become a concert promoter – but they needed the skills and a team. I know how to contribute to an artist’s career and I have a strong network of agents, festivals and venues.

“Supersonic wanted to team up with Speakeasy because before the pandemic they would book an artist with Speakeasy at least once a month, and also appreciated the fact that I went to the shows to see the artist play. I began to know the team quite well and value their dedication to live music.”

“Business is coming back and things are looking good, but more difficult than in the past”

Schell explains the idea to launch Take Me Out was formulated last summer.

“It all came together very quickly, at a time when standing shows were allowed but problems with international tours would still arise because of travelling difficulties,” he recalls. “As far as the organisation goes, it was mostly administrative issues since I just moved my roster from my own company to the new one.

“We want to take the artists as far as we can while remaining independent. We believe there is a lot of potential for international rock and pop artists in France.”

Take Me Out plans to run venues of all sizes, with upcoming dates already in the diary at Supersonic, Maroquinerie, Trianon and Elysée Montmartre, with shows at Zénith also set to be confirmed soon.

“The plan is to take artists way beyond small-sized venues such as the Supersonic,” he notes.

France has announced a gradual easing of restrictions on live events, with audience capacity limits for seated events already lifted and standing events permitted from 16 February.

“Business is coming back and things are looking good, but more difficult than in the past,” adds Schell. “The pandemic crisis has turned into a systemic one. So the only way for us is to find how to bring people back in small and medium venues, which are the core of our business. Let’s say it’s a bet on a brighter future.”

 


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New promoter F7 Entertainment launches in Canada

A new full-service national music promoter has launched in Canada.

Founded by Sarath Samarasekera, Emmanuel Patterson, Nhaelan McMillan, Timur Inceoglu and Ryan Penner, F7 Entertainment Group plans to promote music across all genres, with a view to becoming “a leader in universal content and media”, according to Pollstar.

“At our core we are an organic group of music lovers and professionals who have seen a gap in how music is being promoted in Canada and in particular, how emerging music markets across the country are being underserved,” says Samarasekra. “We aim to bring a more holistic, enjoyable and affordable experience to Canadians while exposing them to new and exciting forms of music.”

“With the landscape changing in live entertainment, I am elated by the opportunity to bring together and partner with an incredible team of talented people,” says McMillan. “F7 for me is the idea and vision of a uniquely creative and highly competitive company now coming to life.”

“Our goal is to innovate at both a cultural and technical level”

Upcoming events include shows by artists such as Rise Against, Death From Above 1979, Daniel Romano and Pup.

“The opportunity to build a new voice and fresh perspective on how live music is promoted in Canada and internationally is thrilling, and I couldn’t be more excited with the team we have assembled for this journey,” notes Patterson, president of talent and touring.

“Our goal is to innovate at both a cultural and technical level,” adds co-founder and senior talent buyer Timur Inceoglu. “It’s really exciting to build a fantastic guest experience, a direct human approach to event production with the goal of quickly developing into the biggest independent producer of content/events in Canada.”

 


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French promoting great Gérard Drouot dies aged 69

Highly-respected French independent concert promoter Gérard Drouot has died at the age of 69.

Drouot, who had been battling with leukaemia, began his music career in the 1970s, organising shows including the Nico and Tangerine Dream concert at the Reims Cathedral in 1974, and was hired by producer Harry Lapp as artistic manager and production director.

A longstanding ILMC member, he launched Gérard Drouot Productions in Strasbourg in 1986 and went on to promote hundreds of concerts a year, working with legends such as U2, Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, AC/DC the Rolling Stones, Kylie Minogue, Luciano Pavarotti, Ray Charles and David Gilmour.

Drouot also promoted events such as the celebrations of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at Bercy, co-organised with Amnesty International, in 1988 and 1998 in Paris.

He had managed Gérard Drouot Productions (GDP) with his son, Matthieu Drouot, since 2013.

“He had dedicated his life to his profession,” Matthieu tells Le Parisien. “At the rate of 200 to 500 concerts per year, he has organised at least 10,000 concerts in mainland France, the West Indies and Belgium!”

“Gerard Druout has had an immeasurable impact on our profession”

Speaking on behalf of members of Prodiss, the live music association’s president Olivier Darbois hails “one of the last independent producers”.

“Gerard Drouot has had an immeasurable impact on our profession,” he says. “We will miss him very much, as he will be sadly missed by all the artists whom he was able to accompany brilliantly during his career.”

Drouot is also credited with helping to launch the cine-concert concept in France and had been a passionate spokesperson for the performing arts sector in the media since the onset of the Covid crisis last year.

UTA’s Neil Warnock also paid tribute to his friend of 30-plus years.

“He was one of the most consummate professionals I have ever worked with, not only in France but worldwide,” says Warnock. “What made him unique in the music business in France was that he wasn’t Parisian and indeed, because of that, he worked his artists right the way across France to help develop their careers. Among the many artists that Gerard and I worked on together include, Pink Floyd and David Gilmour, George Benson, Yusuf/Cat Stevens, King Crimson and Alice Cooper.

“It was a complete pleasure to work with him as a friend. He was an absolute delight, always, to have lunch or dinner with. His knowledge of wine and food was incredible and a joy to behold.

“I’m both shocked and saddened at the huge loss to the whole of the French music industry and I feel so sad at this time for his son, Matthieu and the whole family. One thing I do know is that Matthieu will continue the great legacy started by his father and will take GDP to even greater levels than before.”

 


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Live Nation hires Jay Byrd as global tour promoter

Live Nation has hired veteran agent Jay Byrd as global tour promoter in the latest expansion of its concerts team.

In his new role, Byrd will be responsible for tours with artists including Lil Baby, A$AP Rocky and Logic, in addition to building new relationships with artists and booking tours across North America and worldwide.

Byrd started his career in 2006 at William Morris Agency and worked his way up to agent, going on to handle the firm’s entire adult contemporary roster for the west coast, as well as western Canada. In 2015, he switched to CAA, where he worked with artists including Lil Wayne, Common, Jason Derulo, Queen Latifah, Corinne Bailey Rae, Lukas Graham and Jon Batiste.

Jay is going to create incredible opportunities for any touring artists he works with

“Throughout his career, Jay has proven that he can’t be stopped. He has an incredible drive and passion that we are excited to continue to foster at Live Nation,” says Omar Al-joulani, head of Live Nation Concerts’ talent & touring. “We are always looking for the best and the brightest, and there is no doubt Jay is going to create incredible opportunities for any touring artists he works with.”

Byrd also oversaw David Blaine’s first national tour, Anita Baker’s sold-out arena run and Las Vegas residency and was an integral part of the launch of California festival Bottlerock. He has also been a part of Billboard’s Hip-Hop Power Player list.

 


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