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Pod Concerts’ John Reynolds passes aged 52

Irish concert promoter and artist manager John Reynolds, the founder of Pod Concerts and a former co-manager of Boyzone, has passed away aged 52.

Reynolds, one of the Republic of Ireland’s most successful independent promoters, co-founded the Electric Picnic festival with Robert Laffan in 2004 and formerly owned a string of venues, including Market Bar, IdleWild Bar and the famed Pod nightclub, in Dublin.

According to IQ’s recent Ireland market report, Reynolds, an ILMC member, also operated Dublin’s Button Factory venue and festivals around the city, including electronic music event Winterparty at 3Arena, Metropolis at the RDS complex and Forbidden Fruit at Royal Hospital Kilmainham.

He is also credited with the creation of Boyzone, loaning money to, and initially co-managing the band with, Louis Walsh in the mid-1990s.

A new Pod festival, the 15,000-cap. All Together Now in Waterford, launched to great success earlier this year.

Reynolds was found dead in his flat in Milltown, south Dublin, yesterday (26 October) evening.

A statement issued by his family reads: “It is with great sadness that the Reynolds family confirm the sudden death of John Reynolds of POD this evening.

“John, aged 52 years, who was one of Ireland’s leading independent festival and concert promoters, died suddenly at his home in Milltown, Dublin.

“Funeral arrangements will be announced in the coming days. The family requested privacy at this time.

“Metropolis Festival will go ahead this Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 October as scheduled in the RDS, Dublin.”

“As a promoter, it was about the experience – putting on a string of best nights out – more than the business”

Robomagic’s Rob Hallett, who co-promoted Leonard Cohen in Ireland with Hallett (then at AEG), says: “Words fail me. [He was] an unbelievable promoter with the most amazing ideas and execution. I challenged him every time, and every time he came up trumps.

“Lissadell [House in Co. Sligo, where Cohen played in 2010] will live long in many memories. RIP.”

Reynolds’s friend Jim Carroll, writing for Irish broadcaster RTÉ, says he “displayed more imagination, energy, enthusiasm, spirit and crazy unique ideas before breakfast than many of his peers do in a lifetime”.

He writes: “Music may have been his main game, but he was informed by art, design, architecture, football and dozens of other things. Like the very best people, he was a relentless optimist, someone who battled and pushed and strived with an idea long after the rest of us would have given up. As a promoter, it was about the experience – putting on a string of best-nights-out – more than the business. He had that vision thing – and he drove some of us crazy with that fucking vision thing.

“Like many folks right now, I’m going to miss him. I knew him a long time. As you get older, such key associations and friendships get longer and deeper and you can always pick up the thread when there’s a gap. Like any long friendship, there were times when we fought like cats and dogs – he threw me head first out of the POD a few times over some row now long forgotten in the mists of time – but there was always a reconciliation. I valued the calls, the texts, the conversations, the encounters, the crazy ideas.

“I find it really hard to believe there won’t be more. Deepest, heartfelt condolences to his family and colleagues in POD on this sad loss.”


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Veteran booking agent Richard Cowley passes

Richard Cowley, the former co-head of Chrysalis Agency and co-founder of Primary Talent forerunner Cowbell, has passed away aged 72.

Born on 3 November 1945, Cowley was, with business partner Kenny Bell, operating an agency called Universal Attractions when he came to attention of Chrysalis co-founder Chris Wright, then running the Ellis-Wright Agency alongside Terry Ellis. The two companies merged in 1967 to form Chrysalis, with the legendary Chrysalis Records imprint following a year later.

Acts represented by Ellis-Wright/Chrysalis included Ten Years After, Jeff Beck, Jethro Tull, Tyrannosaurus Rex, the Nice and the group who became Led Zeppelin, the New Yardbirds.

Following the merger, Cowley (pictured) and Bell “effectively took over the running of the Chrysalis Agency”, writes Wright in his memoir, One Way or Another. “Richard and Kenny were the heads of Chrysalis Agency when I arrived there,” explains Primary Talent co-founder Martin Hopewell, who worked at Chrysalis alongside agents including John Jackson, Allan McGowan, Nigel Hassler, Jeff Craft and the late Dave Chumbley.

“He was a true gent and lovely man”

After exiting Chrysalis, Cowley and Bell went on to form Cowbell Agency. “He carried on through Cowbell and World Service, but we parted company when we formed Primary [in 1990],” continues Hopewell.

McGowan, who worked at Chrysalis in the early ’70s, before it became Cowbell, remembers the agency as “one of the best around at the time”. “He [Cowley] knew what he was doing in the business,” says McGowan. “He was one of the originals.”

In later years Cowley worked as a healthcare consultant.

Hassler, now at CAA, started his career at World Service, where Cowley was “one of the bosses”, he says. “He was a true gent and lovely man. He was a real family man and seemed to have worked out the life/work balance. He will be missed.”


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Crowd management leader Mick Upton passes

One of the UK’s most prominent crowd management specialists, Mick Upton, has passed away. Upton founded ShowSec International Ltd in 1982 and was the recipient of numerous awards recognising his contribution to the field.

“He gave many people (including me) a start in the industry and had a profound effect on everyone he met and worked with,” says Jon Corbishley at the Safety Officer Pty.

Following his retirement from ShowSec in 2000, Upton worked with Chris Kemp and Iain Hill on the development of the first ever crowd management foundation degree course at Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College (now Buckinghamshire New University).

A statement from ShowSec pays tribute a “pioneer in the crowd-management industry” who made it “his life’s work to enhance standards for crowd safety and promote a professional approach to event security.

“Above all, he was a kind and caring man, always taking time to provide others with advice or encouragement to assist them in their careers or lives. A true gentleman; may he rest in peace.”

“His sheer enthusiasm and lust for life were his hallmark and shone through”

In 2005, Upton was awarded a Doctorate for his work and he was appointed as the first Head of the Centre for Crowd Management & Security Studies at BNU. He retired from that position in December 2007.

“There are three things that stick in my mind about Mick,” says Kemp. “The first was the day I first met him back stage at Bon Jovi at Milton Keynes Bowl where we talked about the possibility of education courses for the crowd management industry. His sheer enthusiasm and lust for life were his hallmark and this shone through in just speaking about the possibilities.

“Secondly his generosity. Mick never wanted much, when we finished our first book, Case Studies in Crowd Management, Mick came to my house for Dinner with Iain Hill to celebrate, it was a great night and his generosity of spirit just amazed us as we talked for hours about the next steps. Thirdly, he was just a great guy, never saw the bad in others just the opportunities and possibilities. He was the last of a breed. The mould has been thrown away and he will be sorely missed.”

“He was just a great guy, never saw the bad in others just the opportunities and possibilities. He was the last of a breed”

Upton’s career in the security business began in the sixties when he worked as a close protection bodyguard for a wide range of VIP clients including the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Subsequently, as Head of Security at Artistes Services Ltd, he worked with celebrity clients that ranged from ABBA to Led Zeppelin.

It was this period that saw his keen interest in crowd management develop, specifically following the death of a young woman at a 1974 David Cassidy concert at which he was working.

Upton frequently consulted with police services, local authorities and foreign agencies on both crowd management and close security. In 2009, he acted as liaison between UK Special Forces and BNU to successfully establish civilian qualifications for military close protection training.

In addition to the book that Upton co-authored with Kemp and Hill, he also published From Ancient Rome to Rock & Roll – A Review of the UK Leisure Security Industry in 2007.


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Jake Bugg to play Bianca Freitas benefit

On Stage Lab, the live entertainment educational institution co-founded by the late Bianca Freitas, has announced the Paralise o Guillain-Barré fund to raise awareness and money for research into Guillain-Barré syndrome.

Freitas (pictured), a popular Brazilian concert promoter and long-time ILMC member, passed away last October after losing her battle with the autoimmune disease.

Paralise o Guillain-Barré (‘Paralyse Guillain-Barré’) will officially launch on 8 March, the first day of ILMC 29, with a show by Jake Bugg at a secret location in Brazil.

The 200 people attending the event, who will receive invitations via On Stage Lab partners and social media, will “receive more information about Guillain-Barré syndrome from doctors, and will be able to post snippets of the singer’s appearance on their social media accounts with the hashtag #InformaçãoNãoParalisa (#InformationDoesntParalyze),” explains On Stage Lab’s other founder, Fabiana Lian.

Paralise o Guillain-Barré will officially launch on Wednesday 8 March, the first day of ILMC 29

“Everyone who wins places in this special presentation should bring food donations, which will be donated to the Bianca’s Day project, created by the family of Bianca. […] Food donations will be directed an NGO that takes care of poor people in Sao Paulo and Brasilia.”

According to Lian, Paralise o Guillain-Barré has two goals: to inform the Brazilian population about the disease, how it develops and whether it has any relation to the Zika virus; and to raise funds for scientific research into the disease.

Donations can be made on crowdfunding platform Kickante. All money will be directed to the department of neurology at the University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ), one of the few institutions in Brazil that undertakes research into diseases of the peripheral nervous system, including Guillain-Barré syndrome.

The World Health Organisation estimates incidences of the syndrome grew 19% year on year in Brazil between January and December 2015. The total number of cases was 1,708 – more than five a day.


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Bowie honoured in tribute concerts

After a David Bowie tribute gig at London’s Brixton Academy on Sunday, an EP has been released of the late star’s final recordings and European concert film screening dates announced.

Today would have been Bowie’s 70th birthday and the occasion was celebrated over the weekend by a number of superstar artists playing a three-hour show in his birthplace of Brixton. Similar events also took place in New York, Los Angeles, Sydney and Tokyo.

The London tribute was held in aid of Children and the Arts charity, and Bowie’s keyboardist Mike Garson and tour band members guitarist Mark Plati and bassist Gail Ann Dorsey opened the show with Gary Oldman.

It’s one year since Bowie died of cancer on January 10th just after the release of his 25th studio album, Blackstar.

Simon Le Bon, La Roux, Keane frontman Tom Chaplin, Tony Hadley, Fishbone’s Angelo Moore and Def Leppard’s Joe Elliott all made an appearance for select songs from Bowie’s back catalogue.

It’s one year since Bowie died of cancer on January 10th just after the release of his 25th studio album, Blackstar.

Today an EP, No Plan, has been released. The four-song set includes Blackstar song Lazarus, as well as three songs written for the musical he composed of the same name.

On March 7, documentary and concert film Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars will screen in cinemas across Europe.

The film features Bowie and his band performing at London’s Hammersmith Odeon in July, 1973. Mojo magazine is working with CinEvents to host the screening, which will include a new film featuring an interview with Spiders From Mars drummer Woody Woodmansey.



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IQ remembers the musical talent lost in 2016

The deaths in December of George Michael and Status Quo founder Rick Parfitt have brought 2016 to a sad end. Quite simply, none of us can remember a year that claimed so many celebrities, with barely a week going by without the news of some musician who had helped to shape the lives of at least some of us.

While the likes of David Bowie, Prince and Leonard Cohen might steal most of the headlines, we thought it would be an idea to remind everyone of the breadth of artistry to which the world has said goodbye, from the young members of Viola Beach, who perished along with their manager in a car accident in February, and the murder of Christina Grimmie in June, to conductor and composer Harry Rabinowitz, who celebrated his 100th birthday just three months before his death. 

25 December: George Michael, aged 53

24 December: Rick Parfitt, 68

11 December: Valerie Gell, 71

7 December, Greg Lake, 69

24 November: Colonel Abrams, 67

21 November: Jean Shepard, 82

20 November: Craig Gill, 44

18 November: Sharon Jones, 60

13 November: Leon Russell, 74

7 November, Leonard Cohen, 82

25 October: Bobby Vee, 73

23 October: Pete Burns, 57

8 October: Phil Chess, 95

5 October: Joan Marie Johnson, 72

5 October: Rod Temperton, 66

2 October: Sir Neville Marriner, 92

24 September: Stanley Dural Jr., 68

21 September, John D. Loudermilk, 82

1 September: Fred Hellerman, 89

28 August: Juan Gabriel, 66

24 August: Billy Paul, 80

20 August: Matt Roberts, 38

9 August: Padraig Duggan, 67

6 August: Pete Fountain, 86

16 July: Alan Vega, 78

28 June: Scotty Moore, 84

24 June: Bernie Worrell, 72

22 June: Harry Rabinowitz, 100

17 June: Attrell Cordes, 46

10 June: Christina Grimmie, 22

3 June: Dave Swarbrick, 75

21 May: Nick Menza, 51

17 May: Guy Clark, 74

21 April: Prince, 57

12 April: David Gest, 62

11 April: Emile Ford, 78

6 April: Merle Haggard, 79

22 March: Phife Dawg, 45

20 March: Andy ‘Thunderclap’ Newman, 73

16 March: Frank Sinatra Jr., 72

14 March: Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, 81

11 March: Keith Emerson, 71

10 March: Ernestine Anderson, 87

8 March: Sir George Martin, 90

5 March: Nikolaus Harnoncourt, 86

4 March: Joey Feek, 40

25 February: John Chilton, 83

15 February: Denise Matthews, 57

13 February: Kris Leonard, 20; River Reeves, 19; Thomas Lowe, 27; Jack Dakin, 19; Craig Tarry, 33

 4 February: Maurice White, 74

28 January: Paul Kantner, 74

26 January: Colin Vearncombe, 53

18 January, Glenn Frey, 67

17 January: Dale Griffin, 67

16 January: René Angélil, 73

10 January: David Bowie, 69

7 January: Kitty Kallen, 93

5 January: Pierre Boulez, 90

4 January: Robert Stigwood, 81

16 in 2016: The year in review

With 2016 drawing to a close, in many aspects, it’s been a banner year for the live music business. So in case you miss our regular Index email updates, or recently emerged from a time capsule, here’s 16 key 2016 takeaways (in no particular order) from the year that nearly was…

1. Seconds out, round…?

As IQ wrote last week in our investigation into take-up of dynamic ticket pricing, “if 2016 will be remembered in the live music business for any one thing, it will be as the 12 months in which the pitchforks well and truly came out against secondary ticketing”.

While the UK, as it often tends to, hogged the lion’s share of the headlines, the backlash against what the FanFair Alliance calls “industrial-scale” ticket touting was a truly global phenomenon, with American congressmen, Belgian ministers and promoters in SwitzerlandJapan and, most successfully, Italy also all getting in on the action.

Look for continued action in this area in 2017 as the boundaries between primary and secondary continue to blur, calls for greater transparency continue, and more income is driven back to the industry, out of the hands of those who contribute nothing to it.

2. The Ticketing Gold Rush

One of the key topics tackled in this year’s International Ticketing Yearbook was the increasing appetite for ticketing by the world’s biggest online players. After Alibaba Group, the $14bn Chinese ecommerce giant, launched event ticketing operation Tao Piao Piao in May, Amazon caught the industry’s attention with several hires in the UK for the new Amazon Tickets, the start of a bid to become “Earth’s most customer-centric ticketing company”.

“From an artist or sports franchise point of view, any channel that will allow [major ecommerce companies] direct access to the end consumer is powerful and attractive,”

Slightly closer to home, Spotify unveiled a tie-up with Ticketmaster in November, Songkick is settled into its dual role as concert recommendation and ticketing app and Apple Music is dabbling the live space on the current Drake tour. Initial hiccups in some areas aside, 2016 could well be remembered as the moment the ticket started to go where the fans are.

“From an artist or sports franchise point of view, any channel that will allow [major ecommerce companies] direct access to the end consumer is powerful and attractive,” comments ticketing consultant Tim Chambers.

3. Live domi-Nation

The world’s leading live entertainment group showed no signs of bringing its ten-year buying spree to an end in 2016, making no less than eight major acquisitions.

Bonnaroo/AC Entertainment, French promoter Nous Productions, Greek ticketing company TicketHour, Australia’s Secret Sounds (Splendour in the Grass/Falls Festival), Canadian festival promoter Union Events, Sweden Rock festival, Big Concerts in South Africa and YouTube multi-channel network InDMusic were amongst those becoming part of the Live Nation family this year, to the tune of more than US$113 million.

“As we look forward, we see tremendous opportunities to continue global consolidation of our concerts and ticketing businesses, with further growth in advertising and ticketing from the concerts flywheel,” said CEO Michael Rapino in a Q3 statement.

4. Splendid isolation?

On 23 June, in the first major political upset of the year (bet you can’t guess no.2!), the UK voted to leave the European Union (EU), ending more than 40 years of political and economic union with continental Europe.

Thanks to a two-year exit process – which won’t even begin until next March – we’re still no closer to discovering the effect Brexit has on the international live music industry, although a common sentiment in the UK has been to stress the importance of prioritising the creative industries in any future divorce settlement.

“There is a very real risk that skills shortages in the UK will be made worse – at least in the short to medium term”

Industry body Creative Industries Federation called last month for the UK to retain freedom of movement with the rest of bloc – something especially important for touring artists and crew, many of whom have spoken of their opposition to the return of border visas. “There is a very real risk that skills shortages in the UK will be made worse – at least in the short to medium term – by any restriction on freedom of movement that comes with tightening immigration laws and the UK leaving the European Union,” said the federation.

5. Pollsters Trumped

Despite a majority of analysts predicting a victory for Hillary Clinton in last month’s US presidential election, it was not to be: the Republican nominee, Donald Trump, was victorious in 30 of 50 states, and will be inaugurated as president in January.

Like Brexit, the implications for the touring business of a Trump presidency are still unclear, but Nederlander Concerts CEO Alex Hodges seemed to sum up the mood in the Americas when he told IQ the day after the elections: “The show must go on”.

6. Good times

While Q4 and end of year figures are yet to be published, there are few who’d believe that 2016 was a slow year for live music. Billboard puts the value of the US live music business at a staggering $25billion in 2016, with performance show averages up 25% worldwide (43% in the US) and average per-show attendance up 30% globally (29% in the US).

“The top two global tours grossed more than a half-billion dollars in what has been a great year for the concert business.”

Pollstar, which traditionally offers a more accurate barometer of US market health, has yet to reveal annual numbers, but reports: “the top two global tours [Bruce Springsteen and Beyoncé] grossed more than a half-billion dollars in what has been a great year for the concert business.” Pollstar’s Q3 results pegged the top 100 tours up a more modest 3% year-on-year on combined grosses, with average tickets up 7.6%.

7. Rebates under debate

In terms of page views, IQ’s biggest story of 2016 was the revelation that an increasing number of artists are choosing to bypass their local PROs (for example, PRS) in favour of collecting performance royalties directly.

Direct licensing, as it’s known, presents a headache for festival promoters – the vast majority of which have one-stop, blanket licences – with many facing the prospect of paying multiple licensees: the PRO (performance rights organisation) and the artist directly.

Adam Elfin, who runs direct-licensing agency PACE Rights Management, said leaving promoters out of pocket “is not something we want or that should happen”, but added that it’s “beneficial that we’re having this conversation now, because if they weren’t aware of this [direct licensing] and they proceeded with their deals for next year with local PROs, the impact will be massively different.”

No PRO has yet declared they are willing to offer promoters a discount on fees if they have acts directly licensing bands on their line-up, but it’s not a stretch to imagine that might be a possibility for 2017.

8. Beyond music: eSports/YouTube

More than ever before, 2016 saw a raft of new content being introduced to venues, with the likes of eSports events and YouTube stars regularly selling out shows.

The scale of the eSports business was highlighted in October when Reed Midem, the organiser of the Midem music industry conference, announced plans for a similar event for the eSports market, on the back of new data revealing that global revenues in the sector for 2016 are estimated at US$493 million. That news came on the back of the Electronic Sports League (ESL), the world’s largest eSports promoter, agreeing a strategic partnership with AEG, giving it access to 120 AEG-operated venues for qualifying events, tournaments and world championships.

“2016 saw a raft of new content being introduced to venues, with the likes of eSports events and YouTube stars regularly selling out shows.”

Meanwhile, the power of social media continued to grow, posing opportunities for enterprising promoters to take YouTube stars on tour with agencies including WME, CAA and UTA making a big play for online talent. This rapidly growing sector is engaging young fans the world over – underlined by events like Summer in the City, in London’s ExCel centre, where more than 10,000 people bought tickets to meet their favourite YouTubers, watch them live, and listen to panel discussions.

9. Terrorism

The threat of terrorist acts around the world did not diminish during 2016, forcing promoters and venues to increase the amount of investment they are spending to guard their premises, artists, crews and fans from those intent to inflict death and injury.

Atrocities at the likes of the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, as well as attacks on festival sites and, of course the mass murder at Le Bataclan in Paris in late 2015, have brought about stricter security measures, with clubs throughout France now using airport style checks for patrons.

As a so-called soft target, concerts and festivals have found themselves under the microscope, especially in certain countries where terrorist cells are known to operate. At the IFF in September, Rock Werchter promoter Herman Schueremans stated his belief that “We’re more safe now” thanks to some of the efforts that he and fellow promoters around the world have implemented.

Elsewhere, Live Aid promoter Harvey Goldsmith lent his support to a new anti-terror training course, but such measures haven’t appeased everyone, with British peer, Baroness Henig, making moves to force staff at UK music venues to undergo such intensive training.

10. Social media integration

Having a Facebook, Twitter or Snapchat account for your event or venue is hardly rocket science these days, but the past 12 months have seen a number of deals forged to better exploit the audience who uses these and other social media platforms.

In April, Ticketmaster and Eventbrite both agreed deals to sell tickets through Facebook, while later in the year, Live Nation tied up with with Snapchat, initially to create ‘Live Stories’ at V Festival, Way Out West, Creamfields and Reading and Leeds, before taking it to the next level by using links for adverts on Snapchat to sell tickets to their shows.

The past 12 months have seen a number of deals forged to better exploit the audience who uses these and other social media platforms.

Not to be outdone, AEG entered into a multi-year agreement with Snapchat to promote its festivals via the video-sharing app.

Hinting at more deals to come, a survey by Nielsen found that Instagram is used by more US concertgoers than any of its rivals, with an astonishing 83% of those active on social media at shows making use of the photo-sharing app.

11. The SFX/LiveStyle saga

The year ended on a brighter note for those working for beleaguered dance music conglomerate SFX – although a number of creditors might take issue with that statement.

In November, Former Global Group and AEG Live chief, Randy Phillips, was appointed as the company’s new CEO and then, just days later, the SFX reorganisation plan was finally given a green light, following nine months of official administration, but at a cost of nearly US$400million of debt being written off.

The company managed to exit its bankruptcy situation earlier than planned and, moving swiftly to distance the group from its former self, Randy Phillips rebranded the entity as LiveStyle.

Quite whether the saga is truly at an end remains to be seen, with at least one shareholder still asking the courts to look at an alleged undervaluation of the company that accelerated its emergence from debt.

12. Goggle Boxes

The influence of new technology on the live experience continued to break new ground in 2016, with Virtual Reality (VR) a popular talking point. In May, music streaming service Rhapsody launched the Rhapsody VR app which promises, “free, immersive 360-degree videos of great artists from the best seat in the house”. May also saw Live Nation announce a partnership with NextVR to film and stream concerts in the format.

Festival including Wacken Open Air in Germany have begun filming their events for VR headsets, and other players in the space include Warner Music (partnered with MelodyVR and Digital Domain) and Universal Music and iHeartMedia, both recording concerts in VR.

The influence of new technology on the live experience continued to break new ground in 2016, with Virtual Reality a popular talking point.

But is it a genuine source of new revenue streams or a short term fad? Time will tell, but research company Nielsen found that early VR adopters are outspending the average American by 2:1 on live events.

13. Weathering the storm
In Europe, the 2016 festival season was one of the most turbulent in living memory, with FKP Scorpio’s Hurricane and Southside, Marek Lieberberg/CTS Eventim’s Rock am RingUltra Europe, Live Nation’s Rock Werchter and Broadwick Live’s Festival №6 all badly affected by severe weather.

Responses ranged from a government-backed €500k bad-weather fund in the Netherlands to FOLD Festival cheekily giving away tickets to Glastonbury-goers who couldn’t face the mud, while panellists at Reeperbahn Festival’s Epic Production session called for collaboration between festivals and a unified code of conduct for dealing with inclement weather.

Wacken Open Air – which avoided the worst of 2016 – has, meanwhile, embarked on a major overhaul of its festival site for 2017, with a new drainage system and gravel-based ground covering.

14. Bot-tomming Out

The controversial use of bots to harvest primary tickets during an onsale saw inbound legislation in 2016, both in the US and UK. The state of New York made using ticket-buying software on offence in June, while plans for a new anti-both bill were introduced in Ontario, Canada, in October.

By November, the UK’s digital minister, Matt Hancock, had launched his Computer Misuse Act, but the strongest move yet came last week when outbound US President Barrack Obama signed the Better Online Ticket Sales (Bots) Act, which proscribes their use.

15. Desert Trip

Hailed as one of the greatest rock events of all time, Desert Trip, didn’t just smash records – it took dynamite to the entire jukebox.

The concept of putting together three headline acts across three days might not have been rocket science, but when the dream ticket was the Stones, the Beatles and Pink Floyd, the complexities kicked in. But promoters Goldenvoice pulled off the improbable, lining up the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney and Roger Waters across successive nights and adding in support acts Bob Dylan, Neil Young and The Who for good measure, while using the site of California’s uber cool festival, Coachella, to stage the show – and lending to its popular nickname, Oldchella.

Hailed as one of the greatest rock events of all time, Desert Trip, didn’t just smash records – it took dynamite to the entire jukebox.

Not so fortunate were some of the ticket touts who gambled on scooping up as many of the weekend and day passes as they could get their hands on. Despite issuing a ‘sold out’ notice, Desert Trip organisers held back a number of tickets, which were released a month before the shows, prompting a collapse in the value of the secondary market to the extent that, in the days running up to the concerts, many tickets were listed at lower than original face value.

16. In Memoriam

Already considered an annus horribilis due to the number of fallen musical heroes (with Prince, David Bowie, Leonard Cohen among them), the business lost more than its fair share of heroes in 2016. Dan Panaitescu, head of international booking at Sziget festival was killed in a car crash in July, the same month that veteran concert promoter James Nederlander passed at the age of 94.

July also claimed the life of Baloise Session founder Matthias Müller, when the longtime Swiss festival promoter lost his battle with cancer. Meanwhile, other tragic losses to the business included Brazilian promoter and youth project champion Bianca Freitas, who died in October after contracting the rare Guillain-Barré syndrome.


Trying to squeeze 12 months of news, views and innovation into this short feature is always going to be tricky, so what did we miss? Please feel free to comment below. We may even publish the best bits…


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Panaitescu to receive lifetime achievement award

Sziget booker Dan Panaitescu will be posthumously presented with the lifetime achievement accolade at the European Festival Awards in January.

Panaitescu, who was killed in a car accident on 15 July, had been with Sziget since 1993, and was instrumental in its transformation from a small, regional Hungarian event to an international festival widely considered among Europe’s best. Speaking at the time, former Sziget programme director Fruzsina Szép (now festival director of Lollapalooza Berlin) said Panaitescu had a “personality that nobody can ever forget” and that “his place in the international festival family [is secured] forever”.

A statement from the awards – which take place on 11 January, on the first night of Eurosonic Noorderslag – says Panaitescu’s “vast contributions to the festival industry, and the admiration felt towards him from those within it, […] are the reasons that the European Festival Awards has named him as this year’s recipient of the lifetime achievement award”.

A full list of awards nominees (including the IQ-sponsored agent of the year prize) is available at the European Festival Awards website.


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