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Italian industry rebukes gov over €222bn recovery

Italy’s live industry has admonished the government for failing to recognise ‘the cultural, economical and social importance’ of live music in its new recovery plan.

The ‘National Recovery and Resilience Plan’ (PNRR), totaling €222 billion, was presented to parliament on Monday (26 April) by president Mario Draghi.

Of the €222 bn, €6.7 bn has been allocated to culture with the aim to “increase the level of attractiveness of the country’s cultural and tourist system through the modernization of both tangible and intangible infrastructures”.

However, in the spending plan for culture, music venues (or theatres, as Italy prefers to call them) are only referenced once as part of a €300m bid to “promote eco-efficiency and the reduce energy consumption” in cultural venues.

Roberto De Luca, president of Live Nation Italy, told IQ: “I am very pleased about this PNRR but unfortunately, I do not find a single line regarding live music industry. This a terrible mistake as live music is a fundamental part of our culture, as well as an industry that has a huge economic impact on every territory where live music is happening.

“I do not find a single line regarding live music industry. This a terrible mistake as live music is a fundamental part of our culture”

“Live music has both direct and indirect effects. As an example, let’s look at what the FirenzeRocks festival means for Firenze. In 2019, it generated an economic impact of more than €40m as our audience spent between €300–500 per person on hotels, museums, restaurants and so on. Not just in Italy, summer live shows are happening in historic squares, castles, Roman and Greek amphitheaters, so I truly believe that is a driver for our own culture.”

Claudio Trotta, founder of Barley Arts and Slow Music, expressed similar disappointment to IQ: “I don’t see at all in this plan the recognition of the cultural, economical and social importance of live popular music and its industry. I don’t see any investment at all in new venues for music nor attention to professional training for the future generation.

“According to this plan, culture is important only if connected to the benefits that it creates for tourism and not for the citizens and the people. Culture is important by itself, not just when it’s used to draw tourism.

“On another note, I would love to see in this full plan a real and accurate attention to the biodynamic balance and not only some generic references to a digital, ecological and green transition.”

Vincenzo Spera, president of Italy’s live music association Assomusica, tells IQ he is particularly concerned about how the measures will affect the next generation.

“According to this plan, culture is important only if connected to the benefits that it creates for tourism”

“We currently do not know if and how the €6bn envisaged by the PNRR will be allocated to the live music sector. We are therefore very worried, especially because we believe that this could be a fundamental opportunity for socio-cultural aggregation at the European level.

“Obviously this does not concern, or should not only concern Italy, but all European countries, considering that music is the tool for the greatest socialisation and aggregation among young people. It is no coincidence that there is a measure called Next Generation. By continuing in this way, however, there is a risk that future generations will not derive any benefit from the envisaged measures but rather pay the price.

“We think that there is no better opportunity than this to realize some fundamental points which, especially following the pandemic, become particularly urgent: the first point [in the spending plan] concerns technological innovation, of which we are carriers and experimenters; the second point refers, instead, to the eco-sustainability of the live entertainment system and its ability to always attract new audiences to the territories, to discover new realities and to generate ‘green economy’, helping to enhance sites that are important from the point of view historical-architectural.

“The third point concerns the possibility of finally creating premises, structures and spaces of the future, conceived as they should be today, multifunctional, interactive and synergistic between the various genres of entertainment. The time has also come to create a physical and not just a virtual platform that can allow various European cultures to circulate in different countries.”

“The government propaganda is telling everyone that Italy is slowly getting back to a sort of normality but we still have restrictions”

Fabrizio Pompeo, Radar Concerti, tells IQ: “Yes, the headline of the news is great but going deeper into it, there is no such great news for the music business as nothing is coming directly to our industry. The €6bn is going to feed a very wide range of activities and not going to the music industry.

“The government propaganda is telling everyone that Italy is slowly getting back to a sort of normality but we still have restrictions which are making impossible arranging a concert. Not only the distancing procedures but we still have a curfew on from 10 pm to 5 am.”

As of Monday (26 April), eleven of the twenty Italian regions have been permitted to reopen music venues for capped and socially distanced concerts.

The eleven regions – including Lazio, Veneto, Piedmont, Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna – have been dubbed ‘yellow’ under the country’s colour-coded system of coronavirus restrictions and are now allowed to partially reopen.

Venues in the yellow zone can now reopen at 50% capacity, with no more than 500 people inside and 1,000 people outside – all of whom must observe one-metre social distancing. The 10 pm–5 am curfew is still in place.

 


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Industry heads predict return to normal by 2022

Yesterday’s news of Moderna’s 94.5% effective coronavirus vaccine provided yet another glimmer of hope for the live music industry and its return to normality.

Moderna’s announcement came a week after Pfizer reported that its vaccine, developed in collaboration with BioNTech, was more than 90% effective – causing share prices in industry giants such as Live Nation, CTS and DEAG to soar by double digits.

As the race for a Covid vaccine accelerates – with trials also being conducted in China, Russia, India and Australia – and optimism in the return of live music increases, IQ asks some of the industry’s big hitters for their thoughts.

Here, CTS Eventim’s Klaus-Peter Schulenberg (Germany), AEG Presents France’s Arnaud Meersseman, Isle of Wight Festival and Solo Agency’s John Giddings (UK) and Radar Concerti’s Fabrizio Pompeo (Italy) share post-vaccine predictions and preparations.

Crystal ball gazing
“Ever since the pandemic began, I have repeatedly emphasised that we need a vaccine or effective drugs to combat the disease before any concerts or events can be held to the familiar extent. It is very encouraging, therefore, that vaccine development is progressing at such a rapid pace. Leading experts are turning optimistic, now that there is obviously a very promising vaccine candidate,” says Klaus-Peter Schulenburg founder of CTS Eventim, the German entertainment conglomerate.

“This news also gives us hope, accordingly, that the very difficult situation our industry finds itself in will take a turn for the better in the foreseeable future and that people will once again be able to enjoy art and culture the way they did before the pandemic,” he adds.

Head of AEG Presents France, Arnaud Mersseman, echoes the sentiment saying: “The vaccine news has definitively given us a sense of a light at the end at the tunnel and some sort of horizon.”

More importantly for AEG Presents France, which has a slate of shows scheduled from as early as May next year, news of the vaccines provides a sense of security when it comes to planning ahead.

“The vaccine news has definitively given us a sense of a light at the end at the tunnel and some sort of horizon”

“I definitely think that’s what has been the hardest so far – no timeline, and therefore the feeling that this will go on forever. Now, that we know that distribution should start somewhere around early 2021, we can start actively preparing for a return to activity,” adds Meersseman.

Over in the UK, which is in lockdown until at least until 2 December, Isle of Wight Festival and Solo Agency’s John Giddings said he couldn’t speculate on when the industry might return to live but he is optimistic that news of a vaccine might speed things up.

“I’ve just got more hope, that’s all it boils down to. It just means hopefully, it will accelerate the chance of getting back to normal quicker – that’s what we’re praying for,” he says.

However, Radar Concerti’s Fabrizio Pompeo is more cautious and believes “it will be a slow process, even with vaccines”. “I do believe next summer we will start promoting some shows but nothing really big,” he says.

Festival season 2021
For festival organisers in the northern hemisphere, the need for an effective vaccine or test and trace system to be developed before the summer season could be crucial in order to host thousands of patrons and invite international artists to play.

As Meersseman says, festivals are “the big question”. “Will there be enough diffusion of the vaccine, completed by rapid testing measures to allow festivals to play out this summer? Will the acts be able to travel? It’s still 50/50 in my opinion,” says Arnaud.

Giddings, who owns the iconic Isle of Wight festival which has been rescheduled to June 2021, is more optimistic.

“I think [festival season] has got a good chance if this all comes according to plan,” he says. “I know that MPs are meeting and having a conversation about it.”

“I think [festival season] has got a good chance if this all comes according to plan”

Last month, a coalition of UK industry bodies published new guidance to help the festival sector mitigate risk and plan Covid-secure events ahead of next summer, which will be continually updated.

The working group also includes the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) and Public Health England (PHE) who provided input on the development of the guidance.

Pompeo, who partners on festivals Cinzella and Flowers with Radar Concerti, believes that whether or not live has made a comeback, the summer will still hold promise for domestic promoters, events and artists.

“Being in the south of the EU, Italy may have some advantages considering the amount of summer venues opportunities and a very strong domestic artist offering,” he says.

The future of domestic/international touring
While news of the vaccines has inspired hope for a busier 2021, promoters and agents are still apprehensive about the recovery of international touring which, with or without a vaccine, could prove difficult with each country’s varying immunity, legislation and post-Covid regulations.

“My personal prediction is that international touring will take a bit longer than domestic: a tour is built on 15 to 20 different national legislations and sanitary policies, and for these to be harmonised will take some time,” says Meersseman.

“I suspect we can see some sort of semblance of normalcy by fall 21, with a return to normal by early 22. I would also predict an earlier return to normal for domestic touring, somewhere between late spring and early summer. It’s much easier to plan a routing from Bordeaux to Lyon than from Munich to Barcelona!” he adds.

“I suspect we can see some sort of semblance of normalcy by fall 21, with a return to normal by early 22”

Giddings, whose clients at Solo Agency includes Little Mix, Blondie and Iggy Pop, agrees, adding that the logistics of a tour could become fragmented.

“The problem is if you’ve got a European tour in April/May/June, all the different countries have got different rates of infection. To do a European tour, you have to do all of the dates, you can’t do half of them and take time off in between so that’s going to be more difficult to look at. Lots of people think that there won’t be proper shows until 2022. But it really depends on how quickly the vaccine and the testing comes out,” he says.

Pompeo reinforces this sentiment, adding that he thinks it’s unlikely international touring will happen before 2022. “I see shows to up to 3-4000 cap in wide open-air spaces possible as a return to live music. If we are lucky the first arena shows may happen in the fall.”

 


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Dice launches in Italy with promoter, venue partnerships

Dice, the UK-based mobile ticketing and music discovery platform, has expanded into Italy, adding a Milan office and an exclusive partnership with concert/festival promoter Radar Concerti.

The company, which also has a presence in France, the US and Australia, kicks off its Italian music offering powering Ricardo Villalobos’ show at Magazzini Generali later this month and FKA Twigs at Fabrique this November.

In addition to its deal with Radar Concerti, one of Italy’s leading independent promoters, Dice has agreed exclusive partnerships with two Milan venues: Magazzini Generali, a 3,000-capacity former warehouse space, and Arci Ohibò, a bar and nightclub.

Russ Tannen, chief revenue officer of Dice, comments: “We’re on a mission to get people out more, and that means making ticketing fairer and helping fans discover amazing shows. Dice was founded to fix a broken ticketing system. We decided to offer an alternative: building a tout-beating platform with only fans in mind.

“Dice is already working in Italy – since we went on sale exclusively with FKA Twigs in Milan, not one single ticket has ended up on a secondary ticketing site.”

“Since we went on sale exclusively with FKA Twigs in Milan, not one single ticket has ended up on a secondary ticketing site”

With the exception of those who resell tickets on “an occasional and non-commercial basis”, it has been illegal to resell tickets for a profit in Italy since March 2018, with the Italian Communications Authority (AGCOM) empowered to go after offenders and even shut down websites which continually break the law. The restrictions followed a previous, ultimately abandoned, attempt to crack down on ticket touting (bagarinaggio), spearheaded former culture minister Dario Franceschini, in late 2016.

Touting, however, remains an issue, and local operators have continually called for AGCOM to enforce the new regulations. Stefano Lionetti, CEO of CTS Eventim’s TicketOne, noted earlier this year that “there are still three clearly identifiable sites [Viagogo, StubHub/Ticketbis and MyWayTicket] that continue to speculate on the resale of tickets”.

Commenting on his company’s partnership with Dice, Radar Concerti’s Giorgio Riccitelli says: “By working only with Dice, we’re protecting our fans with secure, mobile tickets that don’t end up on secondary ticketing sites.

“However, it isn’t just a ticketing platform – Dice helps fans discover new events and music, helping us propel our events to a new, wider, and engaged audience. We’re thrilled to be working with a company that places fans at the heart of everything it does.”

 


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Fabrizio Pompeo joins Radar, announces new festival

Italian concert promoter Fabrizio Pompeo, most recently of Live Nation Finland, has joined Giorgio Riccitelli’s Radar Concerti as a partner.

Radar was founded in 2014 by Riccitelli after five years with Live Nation Italy, and has since grown to become one of Italy’s leading independent promoters, organising Italian shows by international acts including The xx, Foals, Grimes, Solange, Bonobo, Nothing but Thieves, M83 and FKA Twigs. It also acts as a booking agency for several up-and-coming Italian acts, including Coma Cose, Ketama 126, Hån and Lim.

As a senior promoter at Live Nation Finland, Pompeo promoted shows in Finland, the Baltics and Russia. He says by joining forces with Riccitelli, he hopes to help drive Radar on to even greater success.

“We believe our collaboration, experience and skills will help the company to grow faster in the market”

“Giorgio has done a great job with Radar,” Pompeo tells IQ, “which is now a well-established brand, focusing mainly on scouting for the best talent in both the domestic and the international indie-pop-electro scene.

“We believe our collaboration, experience and skills will help the company to grow faster in the market.”

Pompeo will be based in Milan, while Riccitelli remains in the company’s Rome office.

The first initiative by the Riccitelli-Pompeo partnership is the new Radar Festival, which will debut in Milan on 8–9 June.

RADAR concerti è davvero felice di presentare:RADAR FESTIVAL • 8-9 GIUGNO • MILANO • ITALYIT'S OKAY TO SMILE 🌈È…

Posted by RADAR concerti on Friday, 16 February 2018

 

The 5,000-capacity, four-stage event will have a “pop-electro-indie-trap-urban sound”, says Pompeo, who aims to “position the event in the international calendar of similar festivals”.

Radar Festival will be followed by a second new event, he adds, planned for Rome later this summer.

 


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