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Live music to return to Spain in May

Concerts could resume in Spain as early as May following the government’s recently announced exit plan, but strict capacity limitations and a lack of clarification around required distance between attendees could complicate the live business’ reopening.

The plan laid out by Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez yesterday (28 April) sees the country reopening in four stages, starting from the preparatory phase zero, which will last until 11 May.

Each phase will have a duration of two weeks as a minimum. The situation in each province of the country will be re-evaluated before the implementation the next stage of the plan, with different regions of the country possibly proceeding at different rates.

In phase one – beginning on 11 May – “cultural events” will be allowed to resume, with a maximum capacity of 30 people for indoor venues that usually have a capacity of 90 or more, and of 200 for open-air events. All outdoor events must be seated, with social distancing rules applied.

In phase two, which could begin as early as 25 May, indoor concerts will reopen at a third of their usual capacity, with a maximum capacity of 50 people. Seated, open-air events will be permitted for up to 400 people, with all punters maintaining the “necessary distance”.

Phase two will also see the reopening of cinemas and theatres at a third of capacity.

The final, “advanced” stage of the plan, set to start from 8 June, sees the reopening of night clubs and bars at a third of usual capacity. Indoor events will have a capacity limit of 80, still operating at 33% of normal size, and outdoor events of up to 800 people will be allowed.

“The way it has been presented almost hurts us more than helps because very few, if any, events will be able to comply”

The exit strategy may not come as welcome news to all in the concert business, however, with members of Spain’s live industry deeming plans to reopen at a third of maximum capacity “unviable” for business.

“It is still very unclear,” Chris Ortiz, director of international booking at Córdoba-based Riff Productions, tells IQ. “Honestly, the way it has been presented almost hurts us more than helps because very few, if any, events will be able to comply.”

Ortiz refers to the mention of maintaining a “safe distance” between those attending an event which, in one instance, is put at nine square metres per person. “We are trying to get a clearer idea of what kind of safety measures we would need to provide for this capacity.”

Ortiz also states that no information has been given as to when larger events such as festivals can be held again, preventing cancellation due to force majeure.

Earlier this week, the Spanish Association of Music Festivals (Asociación de Festivales de Música – FMA) warned that, without government support, festivals in Spain were set to be at a “clear disadvantage” to their European neighbours.

“This is not good news because most of the promoters will not be able to do their events,” a spokesperson from Spanish promoters’ association APM tells IQ. “In reality, these capacity reductions cannot be applied, because the events were planned with all expenses and income already calculated before the state of alarm was implemented.

“Massive events (both festivals and concerts) are not even contemplated by the government. They just refer to concerts of 800 spectators maximum. The drop of more than 95% in ticket sales in the last two months makes these measures even more unviable.”

IQ will update this article with more industry reactions as we receive them.

Photo: (CC-BY-4.0) © European Union 2019 – Source: EP (cropped)


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Spain’s Riff partners with Live Nation

Spanish promoter Riff Producciones has signed a strategic partnership with Live Nation, establishing a joint venture the two parties say will “maximise each company’s strengths in marketing, ticketing, sponsorship and international expansion”.

Andalusia-based Riff – which promotes concerts and several festivals, including I Like Festival and Eutopía in Cordova, Directos al Sur in Granada and Blues Cazorla in Jaén, and also books a handful of Spanish artists – was founded in 1994 by director Carlos Espinosa.

It has since brought several major international draws to Spain, including Bob Dylan, Los Lobos, Paul Simon, Mark Knopfler, John Fogerty, Iron Maiden and Joe Satriani.

“Our priority is to support national talent, and we hope this partnership will contribute to the development of a more powerful ecosystem for Spanish artists”

According to Spanish promoters’ association APM, Riff and Live Nation Spain will focus on growing Spanish acts in overseas markets, especially Europe and North America, through the support of Live Nation’s international network.

“Our priority is to support national talent,” comments Live Nation Spain president Robert Grima, “and we hope this partnership will contribute to the development of a more powerful ecosystem for these artists, in line with Live Nation’s commitment to the industry.”

Live Nation Spain was on Tuesday fined €15,000 for its failure to provide refunds to fans unhappy with Axl Rose’s fronting of AC/DC at the band’s Seville show last May.


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Viagogo hit by multiple speculative selling suits

Viagogo just can’t catch a break.

The secretive, Geneva-headquartered secondary ticketing colossus is facing its second lawsuit of 2017 following a furore over the speculative selling of tickets for a postponed show by Joaquín Sabina in A Coruña (Corunna), Spain, next July.

In a joint statement, the promoters of Sabina’s Lo niego todo (I deny everything) tour, TheProject, Get In and Riff Producciones, and his management company, Berry Producciones, say they are “outraged” and intend to bring legal action action against Viagogo for the fraudulent listing of “tickets that do not exist”.

A spokesperson tells IQ the parties’ lawyers are currently in the process of filing the action.

The lawsuit mirrors one filed by SIAE in late January, in which the Italian collection society alleges Viagogo listed tickets for a Vasco Rossi show in Modena before they went on sale on the primary market.

It also found itself in hot water with European football’s governing body, Uefa, last year for allegedly facilitating the illegal resale of tickets for the Euro 2016 tournament in France. (This was, in fact, doubly illegal, as the resale of tickets without permission is prohibited under French law; Viagogo is believed to owe promoters’ association Prodiss hundreds of thousands of Euros in fines.)

“Viagogo is offering secondary tickets for this concert, confusing the public with false advertisements … of tickets that do not exist”

In contrast to chief rivals StubHub and Ticketmaster (Get Me In!, Seatwave), publicity-shy Viagogo is reluctant to field enquiries about its business practices, although it will be compelled to appear before British MPs later this year as part of a wide-ranging inquiry into “ticket abuse”. It is currently also being investigated by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority and tax agency HMRC.

The latest lawsuit by Berry Producciones et al. is backed by Spanish promoters’ association APM, the Citizens political party and popular singer Alejandro Sanz, who yesterday announced the launch of the Anti-Resale Alliance (Alianza Anti-reventa) to push for legislation to curb online touting in Spain.

The alianza calls for, “in an urgent and effective manner, the introduction of effective legislation for the digital age to prohibit the speculative sale of tickets and protect consumers, as already exists in countries such as the United Kingdom, Italy and France”.

Ticket touting in person is illegal in Spain, but there is no legislation specifically targeted at online resale. A proposal introduced by Citizens to the Congress of Deputies says this “legal vacuum” has led to “the most affordable tickets being sold out in a few hours and reappearing on the secondary market with the price increased considerably, preventing the most economically vulnerable from attending the event”.


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