Australia to host first arena concerts since March
TEG, Live Nation and the government of New South Wales (NSW) have announced plans for The Greatest Southern Nights, Australia’s first arena shows since the shutdown of the concert business in March.
Taking place as part of Great Summer Nights, the state-backed 1,000-show concert series running in NSW throughout this month, the Greatest Southern Nights shows will play to more than 12,000 fans at Qudos Bank Arena (21,000-cap.) over two nights in a seated, ‘Covid-safe’ setting.
Ocean Alley will headline the first gig, on Saturday 28 November, joined by Jack River, Ruby Fields and Jack Botts, with Bernard Fanning and Matt Corby, supported by Merci, Mercy, playing the second on Saturday 5 December. For each, co-promoters TEG Live and Live Nation will welcome more than 6,000 fans to the Sydney venue.
Geoff Jones, CEO of TEG and a key figure in the pan-industry Live Entertainment Industry Fund (LEIF), comments: “These shows are vital for our industry because they will show that we can stage big live concerts safely and that Australians cannot wait to get out and share great live entertainment experiences with their friends and family.
“We have seen the successful and safe return of large crowds to major live sport, and it is time for live music to make a return at scale at a world-class venue, Qudos Bank Arena, which we will operate in a reduced, Covid-safe capacity for these shows.”
Tickets for the Ocean Alley show cost A$91.60 (€56), while the Bernard Fanning-Matt Corby date is priced at $99.90 (€60). The shows go on sale at 10am local time Monday and Tuesday, respectively, via TEG’s Ticketek platform.
“After eight long months of zero arena shows, these concerts will see great musicians bring thousands of fans back together”
“After eight long months of zero arena shows, these concerts will see great musicians bring thousands of fans back together,” comments Roger Field, president of Live Nation Asia Pacific, who also serves on the LEIF executive committee. “Not only will these two wonderful nights of entertainment deliver significant employment but they are sure to inject a vital economic boost to our industry and the economy.”
The shows are supported by New South Wales’s tourism agency, Destination NSW. The state’s minister for jobs, investment, tourism and Western Sydney, Stuart Ayres, says: “NSW has led Australia in reigniting the live music industry through Great Southern Nights, and now we are excited to announce these landmark concerts that will be the hottest tickets in the country.
“The NSW government is proud to be getting artists, roadies, venues, hospitality staff and tourism businesses back to work and we hope this heralds the safe return of major indoor arena events.”
Arena shows have already returned to neighbouring New Zealand, where Live Nation recently promoted a headline tour by local star Benee. At press time, Australia had just 12 new cases of coronavirus today (6 November), while NZ had one.
“I’m so happy to be part of the reopening of the live music scene in NSW,” adds Bernard Fanning. “It’s a great opportunity to get people safely together again, but just as importantly to give the music industry workers whose lives have been so upended by Covid a chance to get back to doing what they do best.”
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Australia’s LEIF releases Covid-safe guidelines
The Live Entertainment Industry Forum (LEIF), which represents Australia’s largest live entertainment and sport businesses, has released a new set of ‘Covid-safe’ guidelines for the safe restart of live events.
The new recommendations by LEIF – formed in June this year by Australia’s biggest concert and sports promoters, venue managers and industry associations – have been drawn up by industry experts from more over 50 organisations, in consultation with government and health agencies.
They include measures on cleaning and sanitisation, crowd management, physical distancing plans, health monitoring and contact tracing.
LEIF chair James Sutherland comments: “LEIF is committed to ensuring the passionate people of the industry have the safest, staged and most considered route back to full employment, which in turn, will deliver significant positive economic outcomes for the community through events, which are integral features of healthy and connected communities.
“These guidelines have been developed by LEIF to provide guidance, support and a point of reference”
“These guidelines have been developed by LEIF to provide guidance, support and a point of reference to live entertainment venues, event promoters and service providers to reactivate live events in a Covid-safe way.”
The guidelines, which can be found on the LEIF website, have been released in advance of the Event Summit, which takes place in Sydney on 14 October. At the conference, Sutherland and LEIF members Geoff Jones (CEO of TEG) and Roger Field (president of Live Nation Asia-Paicifc) will present a study assessing the economic contribution of the live entertainment industry in Australia, developed in cooperation with Ernst & Young.
The launch of the LEIF guidelines follows the release in August of a similar set of ‘Covid-safe’ measures developed by trade body Live Performance Australia.
At press time, some live events (particularly sports) had restarted in Australia, albeit with social distancing and with different restrictions by state.
This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.
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Live Nation consolidates Asia-Pacific division
Live Nation has announced the appointment of a number of senior leadership roles intended to unify its Asia-Pacific division.
Roger Field, currently CEO of Live Nation Australia and New Zealand, has been named president of Live Nation Asia Pacific, with Mark Kneebone taking on the new role of managing director of Live Nation New Zealand and Kei Ikuta promoted to president of Live Nation Japan.
Paul Antonio, currently president of Asia and the Middle East, moves to the new role of chief operating officer of Live Nation EMEA, reporting to John Reid, president of Live Nation EMEA.
Field (pictured) joined the company in 2010 to set up Live Nation Australia alongside Luke Hede (currently vice-president of touring). Following Live Nation’s acquisition of Michael Coppel Presents in 2012, Field has led the growth of the Australian and New Zealand businesses, initially as COO and then CEO from 2017.
In his new role, Field will oversee all of Live Nation’s businesses across the Asia-Pacific region, reporting to Live Nation Asia Pacific chairman Alan Ridgeway. Michael Coppel will continue as chairman of Live Nation Australia.
Serving as co-head of promotions for Australia and New Zealand since 2018, Kneebone’s new role will see him oversee all Live Nation’s businesses in NZ, reporting to Field. Stuart Clumpas retires from his role as chairman of LN New Zealand, but will continue as a consultant for the company, as well as a shareholder in Spark Arena.
“The cohesion of a true Asian-Pacific organisation presents significant opportunities for growth”
In Japan, Kei Ikuta takes over from John Boyle, who had served as president since January 2018 and is now moving back to work with Live Nation in Los Angeles. Under Boyle’s leadership, Live Nation’s profile and scale has grown significantly, launching Download in 2019, being appointed international booker for new Tokyo Olympic venue Ariake Arena and growing the company’s show count and market share. Ikuta, who joined the company earlier this year from Japanese promoter Udo Artists, will report to Field.
Commenting on the new hires, Ridgeway says: “The appointment of these roles provides us with the opportunity to further align our Australian, New Zealand and Asian businesses.
“Roger comes to the role with an impressive record of success and is in a great position to lead our growth strategy as he leverages our resources across the whole region. I wish Roger, Mark and Kei all the best in their new roles in taking our businesses forward in this new era, and thank Paul, Stuart and John for their hard work and dedication in establishing our presence in Asia, New Zealand and Japan.”
“I want to thank Alan for giving me the opportunity to lead the talented teams across the division,” adds Field. “The cohesion of a true Asian-Pacific organisation presents significant opportunities for growth, not only for our business but for the professional development of our people and relationships.
‘New Zealand continues to prove itself as a market that leads the way in the return to live and Mark is a proven leader who has played a critical role in our overall success. This appointment further solidifies our commitment to NZ and will affirm the market as a significant player in the global live industry.”
Australian biz unites for safe reopening strategy
The Live Entertainment Industry Forum (LEIF), a new initiative that aims to to ensure fans can return safely to live events when restrictions on mass gatherings are lifted, has been formed by Australia’s biggest live entertainment companies.
LEIF’s mission is to “support the COVIDSafe reactivation of events with live audiences across Australia” when restrictions are eased in July, according to the body. (COVIDSafe is Australia’s coronavirus contact-tracing app.) “LEIF will put in place a comprehensive, flexible, all-of-industry reopening and risk-management strategy that meets the needs of the public, governments, sporting bodies, venues, performers and industry, with safety at its core.”
LEIF comprises all major Australian live businesses, including promoters Live Nation, TEG, Frontier Touring, Chugg Entertainment and AEG; agency WME; venues Melbourne Cricket Ground, Sydney Cricket Ground, Marvel Stadium, Melbourne Olympic Parks and Adelaide Oval; venue operators ASM Global, Venues West and Venues Live; musical producer Michael Cassel Group; and associations Live Performance Australia, Venue Management Association and Australian Festivals Association.
Led by an executive committee headed by former Cricket Australia chief James Sutherland, the forum says will work in conjunction with governments, sporting bodies, venues and audiences to “build confidence in the industry’s preparedness to operate safely, flexibly and sustainably and explore how industry can be supported by governments during its gradual return”.
“I am proud that we stand united to work together”
LEIF will develop measures regarding cleaning and sanitisation, crowd management, physical distancing plans, health monitoring and contact tracing, with the objective of restarting an industry responsible for more than 175,000 Australian jobs. The objective is to safely restart an industry which supports over 175,000 Australian jobs and feeds other sectors hit hard by COVID-19 such as tourism, transport and hospitality.
“This pandemic has brought our industry to a complete standstill. The thousands of cancelled sporting events, concerts, festivals, theatre, family and comedy shows, and all the associated revenues related to them, can never be replaced,” comments Sutherland.
“Our industry was the first to close during Covid-19 and it will be one of the last to fully reopen. The cultural, creative and sports industries supports the livelihoods of around 175,000 Australians, many of whom are casual or part time. The industry also contributes an estimated $150 billion to the Australian economy. Our live events have a huge economic flow on effect: we support jobs in airlines and other transport companies, hotels, pubs, restaurants and retail establishments of all sizes all over Australia.
“We need a clear roadmap to get our industry back to work, while playing a bigger role in the post-Covid-19 economic recovery of our nation. We are committed to working with all states and territories, especially with their chief medical and health officers. We will develop COVIDSafe best practices and a world-leading response to revive our industry, get people back to work and bring fans back together throughout Australia through the unbeatable power of live events.”
“We must put aside our natural competitive instincts so we can all bring large-scale live events back to the Australian people”
“Our industry has to work together at this challenging time. We must put aside our natural competitive instincts so we can all bring large-scale live events back to the Australian people safely,” says Geoff Jones, CEO of TEG. “We want to work closely with the federal, state and territory governments to create solutions that get our industry up and running again and help get the many thousands of people who support our industry back to work. We want to bring fans back and jobs back, safely.”
Roger Field, CEO of Live Nation Australasia – who also serves on the executive committee alongside Sutherland and Jones – adds: “Live events and mass gatherings are not solely for recreational purposes – they play a crucial part in the fabric of Australian life.
“Just as sport plays an important role in promoting healthy behaviours, so too do music and the performing arts. The positive impact culture brings to society is not only seen both psychologically and in social wellbeing, but in the fact that the live events industry contributes hundreds of thousands of jobs, which flows on and effects the whole economy.
“I am proud that we stand united to work together to make the return to events a reality and for the people of Australia to enjoy the power of live once again.”
Industry reps, politicians urge lock-out laws axing
An inquiry into Sydney’s night time economy has highlighted support from politicians including lord mayor Clover Moore and industry professionals for the scrapping of controversial lock-out laws.
The number of live music venues in Sydney has halved since the New South Wales (NSW) government introduced lock-out laws in 2014. The regulations restrict last entry to 1.30 a.m. and drinks licensing to 3 a.m. at bars, pubs, clubs and music venues in Sydney’s central business district (CBD) entertainment precinct.
Following an independent review in 2016, the NSW government relaxed regulations by half an hour for live entertainment venues.
The legislation was introduced following an increase in alcohol-related violence and antisocial behaviour in the city centre.
Speaking at a night time economy committee meeting, the city’s lord mayor Moore stated that “Sydney has lost its reputation over the five years following the introduction of the lock-out laws and associated measures.”
Moore said the laws have had a “devastating impact” on the city’s nightlife and night time economy.
The problem, according to Moore, lies in the failure to distinguish between well run and badly run venues.
“If the lockout laws are removed – we are recommending that they should be – we would be able to incentivise well-run venues, and penalise poorly-run venues”
“If the lockout laws are removed – we are recommending that they should be – we would be able to incentivis[e] well run venues, and penalis[e] poorly run venues,” Moore told the committee.
Live Nation Australasia chief executive, Roger Field, showed his support for the removal of lock-out laws at the close of the hearing on Monday 12 August.
Field referenced the “reputational damage” caused by the lock-out laws “both in Australia and internationally”, based on feedback from artists and their international touring team.
Justin Hemmes, owner of Australian hospitality giant the Merivale Group which operates venues including RNB Fridays, Ministry of Sound, Chinese Laundry and the Beresford, has also weighed in on the issue.
Originally an advocate for the regulations, Hemmes stated the laws “must go now”, adding that the measures had become an “embarrassment” for the city and its nightlife.
The parliamentary committee will report the conclusions of the hearing to NSW premier Galdys Berejiklian in September.
Australasian live market an “undiscovered gem”
Australia’s live entertainment market may be worth more than US$1bn, but it’s still an “undiscovered gem” with huge potential for growth, Live Nation Australasia CEO Roger Field has said.
“If you crack it, this is a fantastic market,” Field, who was promoted to CEO last March, tells IQ. “We are still, I think, an undiscovered gem in live music. [W]e punch above our weight in the quality and quantity of events we produce, whether they’re international or local, touring or festivals…”
Live entertainment is increasingly big business in Asia, with “explosive growth” predicted for huge but developing markets such as China and India, and Field adds that Australia and New Zealand are perfectly situated to capitalise on the demand.
“No one has really cracked Asia yet,” he explains. “Australia and New Zealand particularly have the opportunity to be a flywheel to develop stuff and make it grow in Asia and become feasible.”
Across the Tasman, Scottish-born live industry veteran Stuart Clumpas – recently tapped to lead LN’s activities in NZ as chairman of Live Nation New Zealand – says the local music community and live infrastructure has grow up since he migrated there 17 years ago. “We’ve come so far,” he says.
However, “irrespective of how much I love it here,” Clumpas adds, “it’s logistically challenged at the edge of the planet. NZ needs a strong international partner. What we’ve done [with LN New Zealand] is retain a lot of the uniqueness of the personal touch but also use that muscle to be able to grow the territory, bring more people here and make more people aware of New Zealand.”
While all the traditional ‘big four’ promoters – Michael Chugg (founder of Chugg Entertainment), Michael Coppel (who was promoted from CEO to chairman of Live Nation Australasia in 2017), Michael Gudinski (chairman of Mushroom Group and head of Frontier Touring) and Paul Dainty (president and CEO of TEG Dainty) – report a strong start to 2018, primarily with major international acts, the number of local artists making an impact on the global stage is also arguably at an all-time high.
“Australia and New Zealand, particularly, have the opportunity to be a flywheel to develop stuff and make it grow in Asia”
Business right now is “the strongest I have ever seen for the local artists we represent,” says Stephen Wade, CEO of Sydney-based Select Music, which has Aussie artists the Amity Affliction, the Temper Trap and Boy & Bear, and Kiwi singers Gin Wigmore, Tim Finn and Ladyhawke, on its books.
“Many of them have forged paths overseas, so this takes pressure off potentially overplaying the Australian market and diminishing their crowds,” he explains.
Australia has scored a flurry of goals in the past five years, led by the likes of Sia, Vance Joy, Tame Impala, Flume, Alison Wonderland, 5 Seconds of Summer, Courtney Barnett and more, while the DMA’s, King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, Tash Sultana and others are coming through. New Zealand’s music scene is also on the up, with its best-known export Lorde snagging a no1 on the Billboard 200 in 2017 with her second album, Melodrama.
Gudinski, who attributes his son Matt, also an executive at the Melbourne-based Mushroom Group, for helping reinvigorate the indie powerhouse, adds: “There is life left in bands, and there’s a reality that there will be massive hit songs in the top ten that wouldn’t see a 1,000-capacity pub. The times they are a changing.
“But great music will always come back and stand up – it’s cyclic. And at the moment, within the labels, there’s a great group of Australian and NZ artists who could explode.”
Read the full Australia/New Zealand market report, which also includes contributions from Michael Chugg, Bluesfest’s Peter Noble, AEG Ogden’s Rod Pilbeam and more, in issue 78 of IQ Magazine.
Brisbane’s Fortitude to ‘fill void left by Festival Hall’
A new 3,300-capacity, Art Deco-inspired music venue is taking shape in Australia’s third city, Brisbane.
The Fortitude Music Hall is backed by key Australian music industry players, including John ‘JC’ Collins, former member of Powderfinger and owner of Brisbane venue the Triffid, Paul Piticco, co-founder of promoter Secret Sounds, and Live Nation, since 2016 Secret Sounds’ majority owner.
The new development, located at Brunswick Street Mall in Brisbane’s music mecca, Fortitude Valley, will also include a mixed retail and special events space. It fills the gap left by the famed Festival Hall venue, which closed in 2003, with architect Andrew Gutteridge of Arkhefield paying tribute to it and other historic venues with the Fortitude’s Deco-inspired front façade.
“It’s always been our dream and mission to build a venue that fills the void left by Festival Hall, and we are proud of the vision we’ve created for the Fortitude Music Hall,” says Collins. “The masterplan is well and truly rolling out for a venue and space that will enhance the area and one that the community will enjoy and benefit from for many years to come. We are doing this for Brisbane.”
“It’s always been our dream and mission to build a venue that fills the void left by Festival Hall”
Commenting on the involvement of Live Nation, which is a principal partner on the project, he adds: “Live Nation own and operate some of the best live music venues in Australia and all over the world. From the Palais Theatre in Melbourne to the House of Blues venues across the United States and venues such as the iconic Brixton Academy in London, Live Nation’s experience is unparallelled.
“We felt incredibly inspired by the Philadelphia Fillmore, and not just due to its similar dimensions and size to the building we have here in Brunswick Street, but the way it honours the historic traditions for music halls and local musical heritage, which is our aim too.”
Roger Field, CEO of Live Nation Australasia, comments: “The Fortitude Music Hall is set to be an industry leading venue not just in Brisbane, but in Australia. The 3,300-person capacity will fill a gap in the market and will ensure that Brisbane and the [Fortitude] Valley continue to attract the highest calibre of performers, while giving local audiences even more live experiences to enjoy.”
LN, Virgin Aus tie-up to “make touring easier”
Virgin Australia has been named Live Nation Australasia’s official airline partner.
The partnership, brokered by Live Nation joint venture mixitup Australia, sees LN Australasia gain “a world-class airline partner who will ensure touring artists and touring personnel enjoy the best possible travelling experience, working closely with the industry to make touring easier for artists”, says the promoter.
In return, Virgin will host “innovative marketing and brand experiences” at Live Nation concerts and events.
“Live Nation is looking forward to working with Virgin Australia and its alliance partners to deliver a superior travelling experience for our touring entourages”
Inese Kingsmill, the airline’s chief marketing officer, comments: “With entertainment in our brand’s DNA, we are thrilled to partner with Live Nation and support the unique travel needs of many of the world’s greatest and most exciting artists. This new partnership provides Virgin Australia with the opportunity to bring the world’s best live music to Australia for fans to enjoy, and the opportunity to create unforgettable brand experiences.”
Newly minted Live Nation Australasia CEO Roger Field adds: “Live Nation is looking forward to working with Virgin Australia and its alliance partners to deliver a superior travelling experience for our touring entourages. Virgin Australia share our passion for music and entertainment.”
Coppel named chairman of Live Nation Australasia
Michael Coppel has been named chairman of Live Nation in Australia and New Zealand.
Coppel (pictured), who sold his Michael Coppel Presents business to Live Nation in April 2012, was formerly Live Nation Australasia’s president and CEO, overseeing the company’s acquisition of Splendour promoter Secret Sounds and the lease on Melbourne’s Palais Theatre.
Former COO Roger Field takes over as CEO, and will be responsible for the day-to-day running of Live Nation’s concert business in Australia and NZ.
“Michael and Roger have done an amazing job of transforming our business in Australia and New Zealand … I am delighted that they are going to be continuing to work together”
Coppel, meanwhile, will “continue to service his long-term industry relationships, mentor the company’s growing promoter team in Australia and New Zealand and continue to look for opportunities to grow Live Nation’s business in the region,” says LN.
He comments: “We have built a great team over the last five years, and I am excited to be able to continue to work with them to deliver unforgettable live experiences to music fans across Australia and New Zealand.”
Alan Ridgeway, president of Live Nation’s international and emerging markets division, adds: “Michael and Roger have done an amazing job of transforming our business in Australia and New Zealand over the last five years. I am delighted that they are going to be continuing to work together in their new roles and am sure they will take the company to new heights.”