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The New Bosses 2021: Dan Roberts, Live Nation

The New Bosses 2021 – the latest edition of IQ’s annual celebration of the brightest young talent in the live business today, as voted for by their peers – was published in IQ 103 this month, revealing the 12 promising promoters, bookers, agents, entrepreneurs that make up this year’s list.

To get to know this year’s cohort a little better, IQ conducted interviews with each one of 2021’s New Bosses, discovering their greatest inspirations and pinpointing the reasons for their success.

Catch up on the previous 2021 New Bosses interview with Flo Noseda-Littler, agency assistant at Paradigm in the UK here.

Dan Roberts was born in Boston, Massachusetts, but brought up in Nottinghamshire in the UK. His introduction to live music began, aged 16, when Liars Club [in Manchester] owner Ricky Haley paid him to put up posters. From there Roberts moved to Leeds to study biology, while local entrepreneur Ash Kollakowski taught him how to rep shows and book local supports.

When he completed his studies, he found a job at DHP, where he learned to be a national promoter, and five years later he moved to Metropolis Music and the Live Nation family.


You studied biology – are there any parallels at all with your work, or did any of the disciplines learned at university help you?
Communicating concisely in writing and applying a functional, transactional mindset to the processes that go into building a show. You can’t teach taste though.

Having a US passport can be very useful in this business – have you been able to take advantage of that for your work, as yet?
I once went to the Hamptons with Matt Bates, which was very nice. Aside from that and a trip to NYC to see Partisan Records and Cigarettes After Sex team, I look forward to building my US network further as we return to full business.

You started working on shows while you were a student: do you have a mentor or anyone you turn to for advice?
Ricky Haley, Dan McEvoy, Ash Kollakowski, Dan Ealam, George Akins, Anton Lockwood, Raye Cosbert, Will Marshall, Bob Angus, Denis Desmond, Melvin Benn… What Denis, Raye and Bob can communicate with ten words would take most people a hundred.

Learning how to rep shows and book local support acts in Nottingham has obviously served you well. Does that experience help when it comes to choosing who to work with in cities around the UK?
A good network of reps is useful. As an industry, we’ve lost a lot of freelancers on the production side over this period which is a travesty.

“Taking acts from 200-cap rooms to Brixton Academy is incredibly rewarding”

What has been the highlight of your career, so far?
Taking acts from 200-cap rooms to Brixton Academy is incredibly rewarding. Show-wise it would have to be The Strokes at the Roundhouse in February 2020, which I worked on with Bob. Implementing 100% digital ticketing with Ticketmaster was an operational win.

The pandemic has been hard on us all – are there any positive aspects that you are taking out of it?
This time has given me a chance to get closer to the teams at Metropolis, Live Nation, Festival Republic and Ticketmaster.

What are you most looking forward to as restrictions lift?
Fontaines D.C. playing A Lucid Dream to 10,250 people at Ally Pally. More specifically, the bit at the start where Grian goes “shew”. That on a big L-Acoustics or d&b rig at about 103db, with their wonderful team around me at FOH, that would be nice.

What’s the biggest challenge for you and your colleagues now that the business is emerging from lockdown restrictions?
Everyone is coming back to shows from different places and from different experiences during lockdown, so empathy is a must. Our communal mental health is very important as we return.

 


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The New Bosses 2021: Age Versluis, Friendly Fire

The New Bosses 2021 – the latest edition of IQ’s annual celebration of the brightest young talent in the live business today, as voted for by their peers – was published in IQ 103 this month, revealing the 12 promising promoters, bookers, agents, entrepreneurs that make up this year’s list.

To get to know this year’s cohort a little better, IQ conducted interviews with each one of 2021’s New Bosses, discovering their greatest inspirations and pinpointing the reasons for their success.

Catch up on the previous 2021 New Bosses interview with Jenna Dooling, agent at WME in the UK here.

As one of the worst drummers in his hometown, Utrecht, Age Versluis realised that organising shows was a better option. During his music management studies, he interned for a festival, a venue, a record label and a promoter to help him decide what his next step would be.

Having interned at the first edition of Best Kept Secret festival in 2013, Versluis remained at Friendly Fire, where he became a promoter five years ago. He has since developed a roster that includes Khruangbin, Fontaines D.C., Black Pumas, Cigarettes After Sex, Phoebe Bridgers and many others.

Friendly Fire also runs an open-air venue in Amsterdam throughout the summer, which Versluis operates.


Do you have a mentor or anyone you turn to for advice?
Roel Coppen [agent, promoter, co-owner, Friendly Fire] has taught me everything about spotting talent and working out a long-term approach for an artist. For the last couple of years, I have been learning more about bigger shows and collaborations from Rense van Kessel and Lauri van Ommen in our office.

What has been the highlight of your career, so far?
The biggest highlight is convincing an artist to trust and play multiple shows in the Netherlands early on in their career and then to see that confidence pay off. For example, with two amazing sold-out nights for Khruangbin in Paradiso, December 2020.

“Go to shows, lots of them, talk with the people at the door, at the stand, at the FOH, production staff, everyone”

What advice would you give to anyone trying to find a job in live music?
Go to shows, lots of them, talk with the people at the door, at the stand, at the FOH, production staff, everyone. Volunteer for as many things as you can sustain. Go to conferences, panels, and try to get a quick meeting in for some advice/feedback with someone that inspires you.

The pandemic has been hard on us all – are there any positive aspects that you and Friendly Fire are taking out of it?
Yes, it’s been hard but we’ve also seen relationships improve with the people we work with. We’ve tried out new things, dipped our toes into livestreaming, have unwillingly learned everything on socially distanced shows and have kept on a few of those new things.

As a new boss, what one thing would you change to make the live music industry a better place?
Several things. We should work to diversify the people we work with and in all aspects of what we do, in regards to underrepresentation.

“We have all been busy juggling shows and limitations, now it’s important that we plan for shows that are actually happening”

Also, accommodating and setting boundaries for work and personal life – although that’s been getting a lot better the past years. As a young new promoter with no network, I loved gaining managers’ and agents’ trust at that earliest stage. I believe in spreading out who you work with, so you can learn from all sorts of people.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
I’d love to work on new outdoor concepts and specialise in that part of live music, as I really like the novelty of it. So far the majority of my shows were in the Netherlands, but we are doing more outside our territory now, and that’s something that I hope is going to stick.

What’s the biggest challenge for you and the Friendly Fire team now that the business is emerging from lockdown restrictions?
We have all been very busy juggling shows and limitations, now it’s important that we focus and plan a workflow for shows that are actually happening. The biggest challenge will be building up customer trust to buy tickets again.


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The LGBTIQ+ List 2021: Raven Twigg, Metropolis Music

The LGBTIQ+ List 2021 – IQ’s first annual celebration of queer professionals who make an immense impact in the international live music business – was published in the inaugural Pride edition (issue 101) this month.

The 20 individuals comprising the LGBTIQ+ List 2021, as nominated by our readers and verified by our esteemed steering committee, have gone above and beyond to wave the flag for an industry that we can all be proud of.

To get to know this year’s queer pioneers a little better, IQ asked each individual to share their challenges, triumphs, advice and more. Each day this month, we’ll publish a new interview with an individual on the LGBTIQ+ List 2021. Catch up on the previous interview with Doug Smith, SVP field operations UK & Ireland, Ticketmaster here.

 


Raven Twigg
She/her/they
Promoter assistant, Metropolis Music/founder, Women Connect UK
London, UK raven@metropolismusic.com
Linkedin.com/in/raventwigg

Tell us about a personal triumph in your career.
Whilst I was a student in Manchester, I bagged myself a casual job working on the customer service desk at Manchester Arena, igniting the bug in me to be at as many live shows as possible. I was able to meet people, prove my hard-working nature and be offered a position programming the venue, as well as other arenas and theatres across the UK. I don’t think any of us knew then that I’d end up in London then booking talent into the venue myself, but I’m extremely grateful to those who offered me an opportunity back then. I feel extremely proud of myself for my journey.

What advice could you give for young queer professionals?
Seek out inclusive spaces such as networking collectives, queer talent nights, etc… It’s only once you’re around like-minded people that you can access your full potential.

Tell us about a professional challenge you often come across as a queer person.
I’ve never felt any challenges with Metropolis Music, personally. We’re a very diverse and inclusive team and I’m very grateful for that. I have been told in other work environments that I ‘don’t look gay’. I’m not sure what gay looks like, and it took me a long time to even identify with that word.

Once colleagues become aware of your sexuality, some folx will look at you differently and can never ‘unsee’ your queerness. I’ve also had my sexuality and relationship discussed like office gossip, and that set me back significantly as I struggled with understanding why others found it such a big deal, and felt extremely othered and vulnerable.

“To change the discourse of seeing the same white, cis-gendered male, indie bands littered all over line-ups, it starts with us”

What one thing could the industry do to be more inclusive?
Seek out queer, trans and non-binary talent, whether that’s on an artist front or for your employment opportunities. We need to give marginalised groups a foot through the door where we can. To change the discourse of seeing the same white, cis-gendered male, indie bands littered all over festival line-ups, it starts with us. By becoming more inclusive with our Spotify streaming habits, the demands shift and marginalised groups are given a platform.

A causes you support.
London Friend. They’re an LGBTQ+ voluntary counselling service and they helped me masses over the past year in terms of “coming out” to my family and friends, accepting myself and being in a same-sex relationship. It’s safe to say that without them and my counsellor, specifically, I wouldn’t be writing this so publicly for you today.

Women Connect. I have to plug our collective, of course. We are a femxle-forward collective creating safer, all-inclusive spaces, good fortune and equal opportunities for women, non-binary people and gender-fluid folx working in the creative industries and beyond.

The collective was birthed from a place of passion and the undeniable need for women in the creative industry to come together organically. We’re entirely self-funded and we aim to create a safe environment for our community.

“I can already see the [post-pandemic] differences when communicating with agents and venues”

What does the near future of the industry look like?
Hopefully, very busy! The pandemic has affected our industry like no other. With the opportunity to grow and educate ourselves whilst working from home (I appreciate this isn’t the case for everyone), we’ve had more time to focus on ourselves and I truly think the industry will bounce back to a stronger and kinder place.

I can already see the differences when communicating with agents and venues, we all understand the difficulties each of our areas of the industry has bear witness to and it feels so much more united.

How would you like to see the industry build back better, post-pandemic?
I hope that the industry, post-pandemic will be a more forgiving place and make space to look after one another better. Our industry can be exhausting, my personal record is four gigs in one night. We need to create boundaries and practice saying no – we physically can’t be at every live show and it shouldn’t be looked down upon if you’re taking a night off to go home, cook yourself a hearty meal and put your feet up.

Our mental health is the most important thing, let’s try to approach situations with compassion. Always say please and thank you and let your employees and colleagues know that you appreciate them. It’s easy to forget that even the busiest of humans, are still humans and a thank you can go a long way.

 


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The LGBTIQ+ List 2021: Maddie Arnold, Live Nation

The LGBTIQ+ List 2021 – IQ’s first annual celebration of queer professionals who make an immense impact in the international live music business – was published in the inaugural Pride edition (issue 101) this month.

The 20 individuals comprising the LGBTIQ+ List 2021, as nominated by our readers and verified by our esteemed steering committee, have gone above and beyond to wave the flag for an industry that we can all be proud of.

To get to know this year’s queer pioneers a little better, IQ asked each individual to share their challenges, triumphs, advice and more. Each day this month, we’ll publish a new interview with an individual on the LGBTIQ+ List 2021. Catch up on the previous interview with James Murphy, chief operating officer North America, See Tickets here.

 


Maddie Arnold
she/her
Associate promoter, Live Nation
London, UK
maddie.arnold@livenation.co.uk

Tell us about a personal triumph in your career.
When I began promoting my own shows and building my own roster. Nothing can compare to the excitement of a gig, the spontaneity, the emotion, the sweat – they’ve been a massive part of my life since I was a kid. After a few years in different roles within the industry, I knew I had to work my way to this point, and now I am selling tickets, discovering new artists and building their careers. It’s a great feeling, daily.

What advice could you give for young queer professionals?
Finding out who you are and what you want in life is a journey… get lost in the process, make mistakes, learn from them, try new things, don’t settle, keep persevering when you feel like giving up, surround yourself with positive people, and don’t forget to have fun along the way.

“Nothing can compare to the excitement of a gig, the spontaneity, the emotion, the sweat”

Tell us about a professional challenge you often come across as a queer person.
Apart from the occasional awkward silence when I tell someone new my sexuality, I am lucky enough to say my experience has been great. All the people I work with are hardworking, diverse, inclusive and kind people, and I have only ever been given support by my colleagues and managers who challenge me to do better and grow within my role.

What one thing could the industry do to be more inclusive?
Keep going. Diversity and inclusion are becoming a massive part of working life and the music industry knows this, but there is still work to be done. We need more LGBTQ role models in the industry, whether that’s artists or the workers behind the scenes, it’s important for the younger generation to have people to look up to.

A cause you support.
Mental health. As someone who has suffered on and off for years and lost close ones, this subject is very close to my heart and we all need to speak up more about it. Congratulations to all for getting through this past year!

“Continue with the flexibility of working remotely, and give more attention to mental health”

What does the near future of the industry look like?
Very exciting. Lockdown was awful for several reasons, but I have also discovered a lot of new artists during this time who have a great future ahead of them. The streaming got us through lockdown, but nothing will ever replace the experience of a live gig. The demand is there, people want to get back in a sweaty room and scream along to their favourite songs, and I think 2022 is going to be an insane year for us all.

How would you like to see the industry build back better, post-pandemic?
Continue with the flexibility of working remotely, and give more attention to mental health, whether it’s your own, your colleagues, or the grumpy manager you meet backstage. We are all busy and work in an extremely fast-paced industry that never seems to slow down, but it doesn’t take a lot to ask someone how they are, especially after the year we’ve all had, and I hope we can all be a little kinder to one another and to ourselves.

 


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The LGBTIQ+ List 2021: Lauren Kirkpatrick, DF Concerts

The LGBTIQ+ List 2021 – IQ’s first annual celebration of queer professionals who make an immense impact in the international live music business – was published in the inaugural Pride edition (issue 101) this month.

The 20 individuals comprising the LGBTIQ+ List 2021, as nominated by our readers and verified by our esteemed steering committee, have gone above and beyond to wave the flag for an industry that we can all be proud of.

To get to know this year’s queer pioneers a little better, IQ asked each individual to share their challenges, triumphs, advice and more. Each day this month, we’ll publish a new interview with an individual on the LGBTIQ+ List 2021. Catch up on the previous interview with Sean Hill, director of tour marketing at UTA in the UK here.

 


Lauren Kirkpatrick
she/her
Promoter assistant, DF Concerts
Glasgow, Scotland
lauren.kirkpatrick@dfconcerts.co.uk

Tell us about a personal triumph in your career.
Having a helping hand in TRNSMT and achieving the Silver Award for accessibility with Attitude is Everything is a top highlight for me. A lot of hard work went into that project and seeing it from the start to completion was an extremely proud moment. When we first started TRNSMT Festival in 2017, our accessible platform allowed for 100 people, and then, in 2019, we had the capacity for 300 people. I couldn’t believe the size of the platform when I stood on it for the first time. It was almost as big as the main stage!

What advice could you give for young queer professionals?
Never let your sexuality be a barrier to your success. I’m a 24-year-old lesbian working in a department with five straight men, which was quite intimidating at first. It took me some time before realising that my situation wasn’t something to be apprehensive about but, instead, something to thrive from. Nobody else will go out and get opportunities for you so you need to do what is right for you every single time.

“It’s not only down to the LGBTQI+ community to try and evoke change”

Tell us about a professional challenge you often come across as a queer person.
I think for many queer people there is that fear of being likened to a pre-existing stereotype. That is ultimately why I kept my sexuality quiet for around a year until people got to know me without it being a factor. I always worried that I’d be judged for being a lesbian as opposed to my capability for the job. Thinking back on it now, it was quite a challenging time for me.

What one thing could the industry do to be more inclusive?
We need more straight allies to be vocal about diversity within the industry. It’s not only down to the LGBTQI+ community to try and evoke change. When a company supports its employees regardless of their sexuality and gender, it’ll empower people and set a standard across the industry, which will, hopefully, pave the way for mass change.

“I think for many queer people there is that fear of being likened to a pre-existing stereotype”

A cause you support.
Equality Network. They aim to achieve equality and improve the human rights of the LGBTQI+ community in Scotland. They work towards providing opportunities for people to become engaged in making Scotland a place for everyone, no matter their sexual orientation or gender. They want people to live free from hatred, prejudice and discrimination.

What does the near future of the industry look like?
Hopefully more gigs than ever before! We can’t wait to get back to doing what we do best – bringing live music into people’s lives. In Scotland, our last live music event was in March 2020, so we are all so excited to get back into a venue as soon as possible.

How could the industry build back better, post-pandemic?
In my opinion, music is the most powerful form of art and its way of communicating a message can be unparalleled. Having role models in the music business who promote positive messages about diversity and success will make people feel like having a career in music is absolutely achievable no matter what anyone may say.

 


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TEG acquires Sydney-based promoter Handsome Tours

Australia-based live entertainment conglomerate TEG is strengthening its domestic position with a majority stake in Handsome Tours, a Syndey-based boutique tour and events promoter.

Handsome Tours has accumulated two decades’ worth of experience in breaking alt-pop, indie rock and hip-hop acts in Australia and New Zealand, promoting tours for artists including Stormzy, Bon Iver, The xx, Phoebe Bridgers and The War On Drugs.

Under the new deal, the company’s executives, Mark Dodds and Colin Daniels, will remain partners. Dodds will continue leadership as the company’s managing director whilst Daniels will assume the role of executive director alongside his ongoing role as managing director of Inertia Music/[PIAS] Australia.

Founding partners Ashley Sellers, Mathew Everett and Justin Cosby will be replaced as board members by TEG CEO Geoff Jones and CFO Sandra Rouse.

“Time and time again, Handsome Tours have showcased their ability to discover new talent and nurture it from the tiniest of clubs to sold-out theatres and arenas,” says TEG’s Jones.

“Handsome Tours have showcased their ability to discover new talent and nurture it from the tiniest clubs to sold-out arenas”

“The team’s passionate work ethic and artist-first philosophy is the perfect complement to TEG’s integrated model, built on client-first technology solutions and customer-first ticketing services.”

Handsome Tours’ Dodds says: “We couldn’t be more excited to be partnering with TEG to write the next chapter for Handsome Tours. Handsome has always been known for breaking artists but we’re even prouder of our record of contributing to sustained artist careers.

“Belonging to a world-class group like TEG will empower us to speak to more music-lovers in more sophisticated ways than ever before, delivering bigger outcomes for agents, managers and their talent at every point of an act’s journey.”

Handsome Tours’ recent accomplishments include Gang Of Youths’ ‘Say Yes To Life’ tour, which sold over 50,000 tickets and broke venue records across the country, as well as 2020’s ‘Down To Earth – A Bushfire and Climate Fundraiser’ at Sidney Myer Music Bowl, which raised over AUS$1.4 million for bushfire relief with a line-up including Gang Of Youths, Tash Sultana, Angus & Julia Stone and Thelma Plum.

Concert promotion, ticketing and technology firm, TEG, is headquartered in Sydney and operates out of seven countries worldwide with offices in Australia, New Zealand, south-east Asia and the UK.


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The New Bosses 2020: Jolien Augustyns

The New Bosses 2020 – the latest edition of IQ’s annual celebration of the brightest young talent in the live business today, as voted for by their peers – was published in IQ 93 this month, revealing the 12 promising promoters, bookers, agents, and A&R and production experts that make up this year’s list.

To get to know this year’s cream of the crop a little better, IQ conducted interviews with each one of 2020’s New Bosses, discovering their greatest inspirations and pinpointing the reasons for their success. Catch up on the previous New Bosses interview with Bertie Gibbon, A&R at ATC Live in the UK here.

A graduate of Karel de Grote University College in Antwerp, Augustyns specialises in promoting indoor shows at Live Nation Belgium. After beginning her music biz career interning at Sony Music Belgium, Augustyns “lost her heart” to the live music industry while working as a festival assistant for Rock Werchter in 2014.

After graduating the same year, she had to make a choice: chase her “teenage dream” of being an A&R manager at a record label, or “take a leap of faith and stumble into the live music industry.” As you’ve probably already guessed, she “did the latter, and haven’t once regretted it,” she explains.

 


What are you working on right now?
We’re already working on shows in 2021 and 2022, but unfortunately rescheduling and cancelling shows due to Covid-19 still takes up quite some time. Meanwhile, we’re also thinking about initiatives to get the industry back up and running during these unprecedented times.

What are some of the highlights of your career to date?
Even though I’m part of the indoor show department, I try to help out at our festivals during the summer each year as well. My absolute highlight is this year’s Rock Werchter Zomerbar (Summer Bar). Summer 2020 was essentially cancelled due to Covid-19, still, our festival team was able to put a month-long mini-festival at Werchter comprising 36 concerts with local acts, two comedy nights and even a live TV show. It was all for charity and we had a total of 15,000 visitors at the festival.

Even though I wasn’t part of the preparations, I was able to join the team during that crazy month. In a way, it was the best team building activity I’ve ever experienced, forming real connections with people I’ve known for years. It’s the highlight of the summer, of 2020 and probably my whole career to date.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt working in live music?
There are many lessons to be learned in this industry. Personally, I believe treating your industry contacts with respect is one of the main lessons to learn. Respect and kindness will get you a long way. It’s okay to stand your ground, to not be a pushover or a people-pleaser all the time, as long as you remain respectful about it and can provide good arguments.

“The Rock Werchter Zomerbar was the highlight of the summer, of 2020 and probably my whole career to date”

Did you always want to be a promoter?
Not at all to be honest. As a teen, I had set my mind on becoming an A&R manager at a record label. I landed an internship at Sony Music Belgium during my last year of college, and whilst I absolutely loved it there, I lost my heart to the live music industry instead whilst being a festival assistant at Rock Werchter that same year. A little while after graduating, I got the chance to work at both companies and had to make the difficult choice between chasing my teenage dreams or taking a leap of faith into the live music industry. I did the latter and haven’t once regretted it. I worked my way through the company and now I’m a junior promoter.

What’s it like working in the Belgian market?
We have such an interesting market, with a clear difference between the French-speaking part and the Flemish-speaking part of the country. I mainly operate in Flanders – we have some great venues and I’d like to think we’re quite the early adapters with some genres. It’s such a small country, and yet we’re able to put on massive shows. Also, what a luxury to be able to travel through the whole country in a matter of hours. No need to take flights or to have different offices at key locations. Everything’s within reach. The sky is the limit, basically.

What impact has Covid-19 has on your job?
Where to even start? I could give a ton of draining stories, but we’re all suffering in one way or another. We’ve had brainstorms about how we can organise events during this pandemic. We’ve been negotiating with the insurance companies. We’ve had some very difficult conversations. The list of new experiences is endless. Whilst a lot of it has been bad, stressful and demotivating, I’ve also learned a lot during these past few months. We have proven to be extremely resilient. I’ve been lucky so far, I’m still working and learning, but I know this hasn’t been the case for everyone and my heart goes out to anyone who lost their job, dream or career. I feel for them and I may sound naive, but I hope we can all rise from the dust together.

“Belgium is such a small country, and yet we’re able to put on massive shows. Everything’s within reach. The sky is the limit”

Do you have a mentor in the industry?
There is one person I’d like to mention in particular: Tom Van der Elst, festival manager at our festivals, and my mentor while I was interning there. He gave me a chance at a time when I hadn’t achieved anything yet, and introduced me to the team I now call my work family.

What does the live music industry do well, and what can we do better?
Obviously, this industry can put on some damn good shows but I think at some point the financial part evolved too quickly. Fees are getting higher and higher, which makes sense when the economy is thriving but I’d like to see more understanding of the financial state of certain local markets.

Not every market is financially strong. Not every market is suitable for high ticket prices. Not every genre works well at a certain venue. You can’t compare country A to country B and expect the same ticket prices, amount of tickets sold and fees. Let’s work on that and reboot the system whilst we’re at it. Make it more about passion and music, instead of the money and numbers. Also, power to the women (no explanation needed)!

What advice would you give to someone who’s new to the business?
Stay true to yourself. Don’t let anyone change who you are. Take a chance when an opportunity presents itself and always treat one another with respect and kindness. Also, whenever you feel like you’re drowning in this crazy industry, know that you’re not alone. I’ve been made fun of by people in this industry who didn’t take me seriously due to my gender and/or age. A lot of us have gone through this before and the only thing you can do is always be the best version of yourself and remain calm, friendly and helpful.

“I’d like to see more understanding of the financial state of certain local markets. Not every market is financially strong”

What are the biggest challenges you’re facing currently?
Growing as a promoter definitely is a big challenge for me right now. While wanting to go full steam ahead at the start of the year, the industry has obviously drastically changed these past few months. In no way could I have guessed I would be spending most my time cancelling and rescheduling shows, instead of starting to work on my own shows. Luckily, we’re already working on 2021 and 2022, and even though it’s going a lot slower than I hoped, I’m confident that whatever’s happening now will help me become a better promoter in the end.

Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?
Exactly where I’m at now minus the ‘junior’ part. Promoting acts from club level to arena level, sharing the artist’s journey along the way. Developing my instinct and knowledge of the industry. Learning more about the production side of it as well, maybe even experience the touring life once. I’ve got some amazing role models in the office to look up to and I hope to get to their level one day.


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Introducing DreamHaus: Germany’s newest player

A new player has entered Germany’s live music market in the shape of DreamHaus, a startup promoter and agency in Berlin.

The company is “fully operational”, and will be working across shows, tours, festivals and brand partnerships.

DreamHaus is currently operating with managing director Karsten Fuhrken at the reins.  Fuhrken is also owner of The Merch Republic – TMR Merchandise GmbH. Former Live Nation employees such as Marc Seemann, Claudia Schulte and Björn Bauch are also on board.

Details about ownership and investment have not been disclosed, and the Dreamhaus website is similarly sparse. The company is located at Kurfürstendamm 59 in the west of the city.

 


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Kilimanjaro Live launches rock-oriented live brand

Kilimanjaro Live is launching a new rock-oriented live promotion brand called Action! Presents, spearheaded by the company’s veteran promoter Alan Day.

The first tour announced under the new brand is Bring Me The Horizon’s five-date arena run which kicks off in September 2021 at Glasgow’s SSE Hydro (cap. 14,300) and ends in London’s O2 (21,000).

The Action! Presents team has helped build the careers of rock acts such as Muse, Don Broco, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, Sabaton, While She Sleeps, Deaf Havana and more, taking them from small clubs through to the country’s biggest theatres, arenas and even stadiums.

“We aim to build a social community around this brand, and bring audiences the best in alternative music that goes up to 11”

“During these trying times of quiet in the world of live music, we are all looking forward to a return to Action! and the full live music experience,” says Day.

“From the record to the stage to the mosh pit to the lyrical content, the word Action! is pivotal to rock. We aim to build a social community around this brand, and bring audiences the best in alternative music that goes up to 11. To launch with a new tour from one of the UK’s hottest acts, Bring Me The Horizon is very exciting.”

Day joined Stuart Galbraith’s Kilimanjaro Live during its first year of launching in 2008, along with promoter Steve Tilley.

Kilimanjaro has previously been behind major rock events such as Sonisphere festival (70,000) and the European leg of the Vans Warped Tour, as well as staging Babymetal’s SSE Arena (12,500), Wembley in 2016 – the largest, sold-out show a Japanese act has ever played in the western world, which smashed the venue’s merchandise sales record.

 


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SA’s recovery: “There’s still a lot of blood on the floor”

To say South Africa (SA) has had a tough time during the pandemic would be something of an understatement. The nation endured one of the earliest and strictest national lockdowns in the world, which saw a curfew enforced and the sale of alcohol and tobacco restricted.

Now though, things are looking up for SA. On the 20 September, the overnight curfew was reduced to 12–4 am and entertainment venues permitted to accommodate 50% capacity with limitations of 250 people indoors and 500 people outdoors – just in time for summer and, under normal circumstances, the live market’s busiest season.

As the market starts its recovery, IQ catches up with Theresho Selesho, CEO at Matchbox Live and the promoter behind some of SA’s most popular events and festivals including OppiKoppi (cap. 10,000), to discuss recovering, adapting and planning post-lockdown.


IQ: Lockdown must’ve been an incredibly tough time for businesses, how has Matchbox Live managed to survive?

TS: With the type of restrictions that we’ve had, it didn’t make any sense to do much. We couldn’t sell alcohol or tobacco up until the beginning of September, which is a crucial part of how most festivals generate income on sites and how they secure sponsorship.

It was more economical to just stay closed and just try to keep your business upright by cutting as many costs as possible. That was one way to survive this. There’s still a lot of blood on the floor. Some companies have closed down, some production companies have had to let a lot of people go.

What kind of support has the sector received from the government?

Only recently has our sector started organising itself to have real engagements with the arts and culture department. This required a lot of engagement amongst various players within the industry, which included venues, promoters, technical companies and the likes. There is a little bit of movement that is starting to happen but in terms of support and grants, that has started to slowly materialise. The administration behind this has been one of the biggest challenges for a sector that is not formally organised, as it should be.

Freelancers and musicians could apply for support but not the promoters who create those opportunities because there’s a very specific kind of support that is needed to make these things happen and keep the wheels turning. So that has also made this time very challenging. Promoters couldn’t rely on the government, they had to be gung-ho, have deep and frequent engagements with each other in order to better organise ourselves to make things happen, coming out of this thing.

“Promoters couldn’t rely on the government, they had to be gung-ho”

How have you adapted your events in line with the restrictions?

With the current restrictions it makes sense to do smaller, curated, daytime events. So with one of the venues that I co-own, in collaboration with another entertainment company, Homecoming Africa we came up with the concept for Fontein Brunches, where attendees can book tables of four or more, eat brunch, and listen to DJs and artists. We launched at the beginning of September, with events on both Saturdays and Sundays between 10 am and 6 pm. It’s a great day out.

Have you managed to make the events financially viable?

We have done all the Fontein Brunches on risk, without a sponsor, which is unheard of in our market. You rarely do an event without a brand partner here, it’s just not viable. But we believed in the concept enough to cost it so it made sense and now it’s starting to build traction and bear fruit. We’ve managed to sell out 80% of them.

“We’ve always had to be pretty self-sustainable so operating in these kinds of conditions is not really new”

Has the market got busier now restrictions have been eased?

Lots of daytime events and club shows have popped up now so we want to take ourselves out of the clutter of the people doing the same stuff in the city. We’re looking at other options. We just announced an event at Sun City Resort, which is like a mini city with multiple hotels and entertainment, for the end of November. People can book hotel packages and there’ll be pool parties, after-parties and live performances in different areas.

Is that business model of creating a ‘temporary venue’ and booking it up the way to go right now?

Definitely. We were looking at doing drive-in shows with the same model as Newcastle’s Virgin Money Unity Arena, where we set up a venue in a rugby or soccer field for two to four weeks in Johannesburg and then in Cape Town and get different promoters to do different shows. So I could bring an Alchemy [a festival series featuring international artists] experience, someone else can bring an electronic festival, and someone else could book a classic concert etc. That way everyone covers the same base costs and the suppliers know how to cost for that. It’s just a bit more viable for everybody, as well.

“It’s going to be a big rebuild. We’re going to have to all force ourselves to rebuild from whichever level that we started at”

Are you confident in the market’s ability to bounce back?

Being so removed in South Africa, we’ve always had to be pretty self-sustainable so operating in these kinds of conditions is not really new – aside from the obvious catastrophic health and economic factors. You can never just do a festival in South Africa and that’s all you do. We have very nimble and lean teams that we operate with, and everyone works on different things throughout the year.

Another bonus is our production costs which are a lot more manageable than Europe where you need a higher capacity for events to make financial sense. It’s 5-10 times cheaper to do the same production here than it is in the UK or in Europe as well. There are a lot more suppliers in the market now which speaks to the maturity and growth of the market. And we can negotiate a lot harder to make the event a lot more viable, as well.

“The confidence to bounce back also comes from the fans”

It’s still early days in SA’s recovery, are promoters cautious about booking for next year?

Yes, we have to be very calculated. Currently, we’re only planning per quarter. Many promoters haven’t committed to their typical dates for festivals next year. We need to look at the dynamics like how much money is in the market for people to go out to go to a big festival and big productions.

It’s going to be a big rebuild. I think we’re going to have to all force ourselves to rebuild from whichever level that we started at, so if it means we need to start with 500-capacity shows upwards, that’s what we’re going to do. Most of the big festivals happened this year; we also decided to take the OppiKoppi Festival online this year.

Are promoters confident about fans’ willingness to return to live events?

Yes, I would like to believe that there is a lot of confidence in the market. The confidence to bounce back also comes from the fans. People really, really want to go out and reconnect with other humans in good, safe spaces so that’s motivating. Regardless of sponsors, artists want to perform and the fans want to go out. It would have been a very different dynamic if people were very hesitant to go out because of financial constraints and health and safety issues.

 


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