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Move Concerts’ Rodriguez talks LatAm challenges

Move Concerts CEO Phil Rodriguez has broken down the ups and downs of the South American touring scene as the company prepares to co-promote next month’s Primavera Sound Buenos Aires.

The LatAm region’s biggest independent promoter is partnering with Primavera alongside PopArt Music and Dale Play Live on the festival, which returns to Parque Sarmiento in the Argentine capital from 25-26 November, headlined by The Cure, Pet Shop Boys, Blur and Beck.

“Argentina at the moment is very challenging,” Rodriguez tells IQ. “This is the first year we are involved with this event, and it will be the second edition in Argentina. Our objective are not only to grow the numbers but as important to deliver on the experience for the punters and consolidate the brand in the market.”

Rodriguez describes the situation in certain countries in the region as “politically delicate”.

“The elections in Argentina [later this month] will be historic in terms of what direction that country will go,” he says. “Right now, the country is essentially broke.”

In general, Rodriguez reports that Move has recorded “more hits than misses”in 2023. Recent successes include a 13,000-cap sellout with Ghost at Buenos Aires’ Movistar Arena on 24 September, and the debut of its Legends in Concert series a week later, when it presented Rod Stewart and Brazilian singer-songwriter Ivete Sangaloat at Allianz Parque, São Paulo, Brazil. The latter show grossed more than US$3 million.

“We sold out – 31,000 tickets sold,” says Rodriguez. “It was a reserved seating configuration at the Allianz Stadium. Rod Stewart and Ivete Sangalo sang two songs together at the end of the show and the chemistry between them was fantastic. It was definitely a case of 1+1=3 and we will definitely repeat this concept.”

“We’re seeing local talent/Latin artists doing stadium tours. This was extremely rare before”

The firm also sold 16,000 tickets for a Bad Bunny “listening party” this week at Puerto Rico’s José Miguel Agrelot Coliseum. Back in March, it teamed with Bunny’s manager Noah Assad to stage Karol G’s history-making Puerto Rican shows, which saw the Colombian star become the first artist ever to sell out three nights at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, drawing more than 100,000 fans across the trio of shows.

“She’s incredibly hard-working and focused and has unquestionably taken her career to the next level – stadium level, superstar level,” reflects Rodriguez, who points out the market is especially strong for domestic artists.

“In many cases it is as strong or stronger than most international/Anglo artists,” he adds. “We’re seeing local talent/Latin artists doing stadium tours. This was extremely rare before.”

He continues: “In general, well, we cannot complain, but the audience is being more selective. The ‘after Covid boom’ is tapering off. I feel the increase in the cost of living has impacted the fans to as certain degree. For the [top] acts and top-tier festivals, business is strong. In the case of the smaller acts or festivals, there are more challenges.

“Costs certainly have impacted everybody – artist, promoters and fans. Everything is more expensive. There has also been more difficulty in venue avails as local artists are now selling more than in the past increasing holds on venues. Also, the demand for stadium dates availability is butting heads with football schedules more than ever.”

Move Concerts is headquartered in Miami, Florida, and has offices in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Peru and Puerto Rico. Since 2019, the company has operated a joint venture with US entertainment and sports company Loud and Live, whose CEO Nelson Albareda was recently named Billboard Latin Power Player Executive of the Year.

 

PHOTO: GHOST with Fabiano de Queiroz, VP touring MOVE Concerts (Credit: Gabriel Sotelo)

 


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Debut Puerto Rico festival draws sellout crowds

A new festival in Puerto Rico curated by rapper Eladio Carrión and co-promoted by Move Concerts and Noah Assad Presents drew sellout crowds to its debut editions.

The Sauce Boyz Fest was the first music festival to be staged on the Caribbean island since the Covid pandemic began in 2020.

The first event took place on 18 May at Cervecera de Puerto Rico in Mayaguez before a 7,000-strong crowd and was headlined by Carrión, who was joined by surprise guest Bad Bunny to perform Coco Chanel live for the first time.  Acts such as Tokischa and Young Miko also performed.

The leg was held at the Convention District in San Juan – at just five days’ notice after switching from the original venue Estadio Sixto Escobar due to an infrastructure problem – on 20 May before a sold-out crowd of 25,000. Artists included Bizarrap and Duki, Wiz Khalifa and Carrión, who was joined onstage by Lil Wayne, Myke Towers and Jhayco.

“I’m so proud of all of the people that pushed and worked day and night to make this festival a world class event in just five days of buildup”

“I’m so proud of all of the people that pushed and worked day and night to make this festival a world class event in just five days of buildup, proud to be a part of this team and experience,” says Alejandro Pabon, MD of Move Concerts Puerto Rico.

Other attractions included a gaming area, multiple art structures, three stages and more than 30 international and local artists. The festival was also the first in Puerto Rico to be livestreamed via YouTube.

Move Concerts is Latin America’s biggest independent concert promoter with offices in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Peru and Puerto Rico, as well as its headquarters in the US in Miami, Florida.

 


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Move Concerts co-promotes WWE’s Puerto Rico return

Move Concerts and Noah Assad Presents co-promoted WWE’s first premium live event to be held in Puerto Rico in 15 years, headlined by Bad Bunny.

The show, titled Backlash, took place on 6 May at the Coliseo de Puerto Rico José Miguel Agrelot in San Juan, and marked the largest gate ever for any WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) event held in Puerto Rico and the largest gate in the history of the Backlash brand.

Bad Bunny, who is managed by Assad, wrestled WWE superstar Damian Priest in the co-main event.

“We have been very proud of our on-going relationship with WWE throughout the region and specially in Puerto Rico” says Fabiano de Queiroz, VP of talent & tours at Miami-headquartered Move Concerts.

“The rich wrestling history and the incredibly strong music scene made for the perfect combination on a historic night”

Organisers confirmed back-to-back sellout nights for WWE’s Backlash (17,944 attendees) and the previous night’s SmackDown TV show (16,896 attendees).

“The rich wrestling history and the incredibly strong music scene made for the perfect combination on a historic night with the best crowd in the world,” adds Alejandro Pabón MD of Move Concerts Puerto Rico.

In addition, Backlash broke merchandise and sponsorship records, as the first-ever WWE event under the expanded partnership with Fanatics overseeing the on-site event retail experience. Sponsorship revenue surpassed any Backlash event in history, breaking last year’s record with a 98% year-on-year increase through partnerships with Netflix’s FUBAR, Mike’s Harder Lemonade, and Xfinity.

Move Concerts is the biggest independent concert promoter in Latin America with offices in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Peru and Puerto Rico.

 


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Latam’s Duars Entertainment launches production arm

Duars Entertainment, the indie label, management, booking and publishing company behind Latam stars such as Rauw Alejandro, Cauty and Sie7e has formalised its events production arm.

The company has long offered event production and concert promotion services but is now officially launching the operation under the name Duars Live.

Duars says the catalyst for the decision was Alejandro’s Saturno tour, which kicked off in March and will play over 70 arena dates around the world. Duars Live is producing the tour in partnership with Outback Presents.

“In an odd turn of events, life has led me back to event production which I am totally enjoying now”

The newly established operation is led by Duars Entertainment founder Eric Duars Pérez, along with veteran Puerto Rican promoter Paco López as co-producer, Orlando ‘Chispa’ Acosta as stage manager, Omar Rodríguez as head of pre-production and Alexis Soto as production manager.

“Producing events is my real passion,” says Pérez, who began managing Alejandro several years ago and eventually signed him to his label, Duars Entertainment. “At some point in my career, I had the opportunity to manage artists and release music, but I feel like in an odd turn of events, life has led me back to event production which I am totally enjoying now.”

“I want to develop people within my structure so that in 10 years they can function without me,” he says. “I want to grow, sign artists, do more projects. My goal is, literally, to grow.”

In addition to Grammy-nominated Rauw Alejandro’s tour, Duars Live is also producing two shows at Coliseo de Puerto Rico by reggaetón star De La Ghetto and will soon launch another major tour.

 


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Karol G stadium shows make history in Puerto Rico

Karol G has made history in Puerto Rico by becoming the first artist ever to sell out three nights at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan.

The Colombian reggaeton star drew more than 100,000 fans across the trio of shows, which includes guest appearances by Romeo Santos, Eladio, Sean Paul, Young Miko and Feid, among others.

The 10-12 March concerts were promoted by Move Concerts and Noah Assad, who also manages Puerto Rican superstar Bad Bunny.

“Puerto Rico has been selling out consistently and shows no sign of slowing down”

“Puerto Rico has been selling out consistently and shows no sign of slowing down,” Move boss Phil Rodriguez told IQ last year. “We co-promoted with Noah Assad three sold-out dates at the Coliseo de Puerto Rico [cap. 18,500] with Bad Bunny in San Juan that paralysed the island as the show was streamed live to 13 municipalities for free. It is estimated over 500,000 people saw the show between the Coliseo and the free transmissions.”

Move Concerts is headquartered in Miami, Florida, and has offices in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica and Peru, as well as Puerto Rico, the source of much of the current Latin music explosion.

“Our office in Puerto Rico is killing it,” said Rodriguez. “We sold out two arenas there with Karol G – over 24,000 tickets. We easily could have done two more arena dates there.”

Bad Bunny has been the most streamed artist on Spotify globally in each of the last three years

Bad Bunny usurped Ed Sheeran in 2022 as the highest-grossing touring artist in a calendar year. The rapper generated $435,388,660 for 81 shows in 2022, according to Pollstar data, surpassing the $432.4 million box office takings of Sheeran’s 94 ÷ tour dates in 2018.

Bad Bunny has been the most streamed artist on Spotify globally in each of the last three years, while fellow Puerto Rican acts Rauw Alejandro and Ozuna are also making huge strides internationally.

Puerto Rico’s Coca-Cola Music Hall, meanwhile, reported a total attendance of more than 165,000 people during its first 12 months of operation. Since its opening in August 2021, the 4,200-cap venue in San Juan has hosted 59 concerts and 43 private events by artists such as Ednita Nazario, Caramelos de Cianuro, El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico, Stryper, Jesse & Joy and Louis Tomlinson, among others.

Revisit IQ Magazine‘s full 2022 feature exploring the growth of the Latin American touring market here.

 


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Puerto Rico arena welcomes 10 millionth visitor

The Coliseo de Puerto Rico José Miguel Agrelot has celebrated a milestone by welcoming its 10 millionth visitor.

The 18,500-cap venue, which opened in 2004, has hosted artists such as The Rolling Stones, Usher, Beyoncé, Aerosmith, Andrea Bocelli and Bad Bunny.

The arena’s operator ASM Global surprised customer Melanie Biringer-Figueroa with the news of being the 10,000,000th visitor as she entered the venue on Saturday (21 May) to see a concert by Puerto Rican singer-songwriter Tommy Torres.
She received gifts including a holiday to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, and gift baskets with a variety of products, among other surprises.

“We are incredibly proud of this moment”

“We are overjoyed to be able to recognise our 10 millionth visitor and celebrate this historic and special moment with her,” says Jorge L Pérez, CVE, regional manager of ASM Global.

The Coliseo de Puerto Rico was ranked 12th for worldwide ticket sales in 2021, selling 175,232 tickets according to Pollstar, despite only reopening in August 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We’re incredibly proud of this moment,” adds Ron Bension, president and CEO of ASM Global. “Coliseo represents the best of what ASM offers its clients throughout the world – amazing content and the best and most seamless guest experience anywhere, leveraging technology, innovative culinary creations and a team dedicated to optimising the fan journey.”

Upcoming concerts at the venue include Luis Fonsi and J Balvin.

 


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Bad Bunny concert spurs Covid case ‘explosion’ in Puerto Rico

Bad Bunny’s two-day concert in Puerto Rico triggered an ‘explosion’ of Covid-19 cases on the island, according to The New York Times.

The sold-out P Fkn R show, promoted by Noah Assad Presents and Move Concerts, took place at the Hiram Bithorn Stadium on 10 and 11 December 2021 with 60,000 attendees – all of whom were required to show proof of full vaccination.

Reportedly, 2,000 attendees fell sick as a result of the concert, contributing to a 4,600% increase in cases on the island. Business events, company holiday parties and family gatherings also contributed.

Rafael Irizarry, a Harvard University statistician who keeps a dashboard of Puerto Rico Covid-19 data, tweeted that a third of all coronavirus cases the island has recorded since the start of the pandemic occurred in the past month.

A third of all coronavirus cases the island has recorded since the start of the pandemic occurred in the past month

The number of cases per 100,000 residents jumped to 225, from three, in three weeks. In December, the number of hospitalisations doubled — twice.

Puerto Rico previously had one of the most successful vaccination campaigns in the United States. Nearly 85% of residents have had at least one vaccine dose and 75% of the population are fully vaccinated.

Following the increase in cases, officials have imposed tougher restrictions in a bid to stave off the new wave of cases.

As of 22 December 2021, those attending mass events (both indoors and outdoors) will be required to present proof of vaccination and also a negative Covid-19 test (either antigen or PCR performed by an authorised health provider) taken in the 48 hours prior to the event.

Get up to date with the latest live music restrictions affecting key international touring markets here.

 


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Wesley Elizabeth Cullen joins Loud and Live

Entertainment, marketing and media company Loud and Live has added another key executive to its ranks with the hiring of Wesley Elizabeth Cullen as managing director of entertainment.

Most recently general manager of Puerto Rico tourist attraction Casa Bacardi. Cullen joins the firm’s management team, supporting its global expansion in touring, festivals, sponsorships and content development.

“Wesley is an exciting addition to our management team as we strengthen our position and growth across entertainment,” says Loud and Live CEO Nelson Albareda. “She brings diverse and complementary skill sets to Loud and Live, all of which will be instrumental as we continue our course to be the global leader in Latin entertainment.”

Headquartered in Miami , Loud and Live also has offices in San Francisco, Puerto Rico,  Mexico and Spain.

Cullen brings nearly 25 years of experience in touring, venue management, experience design, hospitality, brand building and international expansion.

I’m looking forward to returning to the live entertainment side of the industry

Prior to Casa Bacardi, Cullen was general manager of the Coliseo, Puerto Rico’s largest entertainment venue, where she helmed all venue management and operations, including booking, ticketing, marketing, production and logistics.

Early in her career, Cullen managed international live events for WWE in the US, Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and Latin America.

“I’m thrilled to join Loud and Live to deliver excellence, growth and good times for our artists, partners and team,” says Cullen. “Among the many values that attracted me to Loud and Live was their culture-driven passion, ethical standards, and ambitious business strategy. I’m looking forward to returning to the live entertainment side of the industry and collaborating with longtime peers and friends as the post-pandemic boom in live events continues.”

Cullen enhances an already experienced executive management team that includes Edgar Martínez, who has been with the Loud and Live since 2018, and Claudia Arcay, who formally joined the company earlier this month.

The leadership team will be responsible for managing the delivery of nearly 400 concerts within the next 12 months, as well as leading its continued international expansion into Latin America and Europe.

 


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Q&A: Move Concerts boss details LatAm’s recovery

As markets across Latin America gradually reopen, Phil Rodriguez of Move Concerts – the biggest independent concert promoter in the region – says he’s optimistic about the region’s recovery.

Emerging from the most difficult year in live music history, Rodriguez expects the industry to come out of the Covid-19 pandemic “stronger and wiser”.

However, according to the Move Concerts boss, there are a number of obstacles that stand between Latam’s industry and a full recovery.

Below, Rodriguez outlines those obstacles, reflects on the lessons learnt from the pandemic, and addresses “the elephant in the room”…

IQ: How is Latin America’s return to business going?
PR: It’s a patchwork of different sets of rules and regulations per country so it has been a challenge to get them all aligned to have a proper tour of the region. But we’re finally getting there!

In which markets are you now able to fully operate?
Puerto Rico was able to start at full capacity (with proof of vaccination) as of August and business has been incredible. Not only have the shows been selling out, but single dates became multiples. That market came back STRONG.

What’s the deal with vaccine passports and capacity restrictions in Latam?
As noted, it’s a patchwork. Brazil is operating at 70% capacity with proof of vaccination and will open to 100% this week. Argentina will open at 100% capacity with proof of vaccination and with requirements for face masks from 16 November.

Uruguay is at 55% without vaccination and 70% with vaccination. Colombia will be at 100% capacity for vaccinated people from 16 November. Chile is currently held to 40% and in some cases 60% capacity – vaccinated and socially distanced. The expectation is to be open at 100% for the vaccinated by January 2022. Costa Rica will be at 100% as of March 2022 for the vaccinated.

“The lack of cancellation insurance for Covid is the elephant in the room for all of us”

Where has Move’s focus been since markets started to open up?
Rescheduling, booking new tours for the end of 2022 and 2023. Plus our management company and indie record label, Grand Move Records, which are both at full speed.

What opportunities do you see during this recovery period?
The chance to reinvent ourselves and look outside our comfort zone. We all had to do this during the pandemic. We should not get complacent once we return to some normalcy and forget that.

What are the challenges you’re facing right now? 
The lack of cancellation insurance for Covid is the elephant in the room for all of us. The rest we can deal with but will still present a strong challenge such as inflation and devaluation of currencies – which have been hit hard by the pandemic – and the economic consequences of the lockdowns, etc.

How long do you think it’ll take for Latam to get back to pre-pandemic levels of business?
The Covid issue, in my opinion, has been both a health and political issue, unfortunately, and that has not helped us get a better picture of what is ahead of us. But if by the second half of 2022, we are not on a solid road to pre-pandemic levels, we will ALL have bigger problems to worry about. That said, I’m an optimist by nature and I think we’ll come out of this wiser and stronger!

“If by the second half of ’22, we are not on a solid road to pre-pandemic levels, we’ll all have bigger problems to worry about”

When and how do you see international acts coming back to Latin America?
In South America, we kick off with a-ha in March 2022 – Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil.

Move hosted Latam’s first drive-thru show during the pandemic. Is that a format you’ll be returning to?
Not really…we do not see the need nor demand for this any longer as live concerts startup.

What about livestreaming – is there still demand in that area of the business?
This has essentially stopped. With the return of live shows – with reduced capacities – streaming has lost its initial appeal. I’m sure it will still be a good tool to have in our toolbox for use in the future but in a different form… more related to marketing or a special event, etc.

What one thing are you most proud of doing during the pandemic?
That we kept all our team in place and did not have to furlough or lay off anyone. We all took salary cuts and weathered the storm together.

Also, our office in Bogota took the initiative and created an internet site with different content – entertainment, cooking, lifestyle, etc – that raised over US$10,000 to support the local production crews and their families in the middle of the pandemic. That was a fabulous effort that made me very proud of our team there.

 


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Move’s Bad Bunny stadium show sells out fast

Bad Bunny’s highly anticipated hometown shows at Puerto Rico’s Hiram Bithorn Stadium sold out in less than 20 minutes, promoters Move Concerts and Noah Assad Presents have revealed.

The urban sensation’s P Fkn R show, rescheduled from May 2020, went on sale on Friday (20 August) and sold out soon after. The concerts, which take place at the 18,000-seat stadium on 10 and 11 December, will be Puerto Rico-born Bad Bunny’s first shows this year.

P Fkn R is the first announced show of a new partnership between Miami-based Move Concerts, which has an office in Puerto Rico, and Noah Assad, whose Rimas Music represents some of the world’s biggest reggaeton artists.

Everyone attending the P Fkn R show will be required to present proof of vaccination

Everyone attending the 10 and 11 December shows, which have a capacity of 35,000 each, will be required to present proof of full Covid-19 vaccination.

The Hiram Bithorn Stadium, the island’s largest, has previously hosted concerts by the likes Bon Jovi, Ozzy Osbourne, Rihanna, Shakira, Sting and Whitney Houston, in addition to its regular use as a baseball park.

Multiple Grammy and Latin Grammy-winner Bad Bunny will follow up the show with a world tour, El Último Tour del Mundo 2022, which kicks off on 9 February 2022 at the Ball Arena (20,000-cap.) in Denver, Colorado.

 


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