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Portola Festival crowd rush ‘isolated issue’

Organisers of San Francisco’s Portola Festival have played down reports of a crowd flow issue at its debut edition.

Promoted by AEG’s Goldenvoice, the event took place at Pier 80 from 24-25 September with acts such as Flume, The Chemical Brothers, Charlie XCX, Jamie xx, Jungle, M.I.A. and Peggy Gou.

According to Billboard, an incident occurred on day one when a large group of people rushed a set by Fred Again at around 5.30pm. Footage posted on Twitter shows fans jumping the barricade surrounding the festival’s Warehouse stage after a bottleneck occurred at the general admission entrance.

“There was a minimal, isolated issue with a festival stage entrance”

However, organisers say there were no injuries and no cases of gate-crashing.

“There was a minimal, isolated issue with a festival stage entrance yesterday,” says a statement by AEG. “This occurred within the confines of the grounds and was quickly addressed and corrected. There were no reported injuries and the festival continued for another six hours without incident.”


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StubHub to wind-up San Fran and Shanghai offices

StubHub has revealed plans to close its San Fransisco and Shanghai offices by the end of the year, and lay off the majority of employees based in each location.

According to CEO Eric Baker, the decision comes as the ticket resale platform looks to optimise and streamline its operations following Viagogo’s takeover of the company.

Baker says that the business will focus on building its new offices in New York and Los Angeles and using these locations as key hubs for in-person work.

StubHub announced the news via a post on LinkedIn, which included a copy of the letter that Baker sent to employees.

The CEO wrote: “This is never easy news to share. Those who are impacted by these changes have already been contacted by our People Team about their individual departure plans.

“To the team that remains, it’s growth time”

“We are grateful for the contributions of these employees and wish them well as they go on to their next chapters.

“To the team that remains, it’s growth time. Moving forward, our work will focus on in-person participation in our offices around the world, which – in addition to LA and NY – will still include locations in Utah, Switzerland, Ireland and Taiwan.”

In September last year, Switzerland-headquartered Viagogo got the green light from the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to complete its takeover of StubHub.

The deal was approved after it was agreed that StubHub would sell its business outside of North America – including the UK – to investment firm Digital Fuel Capital LLC for an undisclosed sum.

Viagogo originally agreed the purchase of eBay’s ticketing division StubHub for $4.05bn in cash in February 2020.


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Goldenvoice details new San Francisco festival

Goldenvoice has revealed details of a brand new festival called Portola, coming to the US city of San Francisco this autumn.

Portola is slated to take place on 24 and 25 September at Pier 80, a 60-acre shipyard that boasts SF’s largest cargo terminal.

The Chemical Brothers and Flume will headline the festival, while Kaytranada, Jamie xx, Jungle, Charli XCX, James Blake and M.I.A are among the supporting cast.

The festival, which is organised in association with local event management company Non Plus Ultra, is scheduled only a month and a half after Outside Lands 2022 and a week before Hardly Strictly Bluegrass – both of which draw hundreds of thousands of fans to the city.

Portola’s name is reportedly a reference to the Portola Festival of 1909, which signalled a reopening of the city after the 1906 earthquake and drew an estimated one million people to its opening parade.

The new festival is one of a slate of inaugural events announced by AEG subsidiary Goldenvoice, including This Ain’t No Picnic, Palomino and California Vibrations.

In the US, Goldenvoice produces several festivals, most notably Coachella, as well as operating 14 mid-sized venues and promoting over 1,800 shows per year.

Goldenvoice's Portola festival


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Live audio tech provider Mixhalo raises $24m

Live audio tech service Mixhalo has raised US$24 million in a series-B funding round.

The funding, which follows a $10.7m series-A round in 2019, will primarily go towards new hires and research & development.

The San Francisco-based startup was founded in 2016 by Incubus guitarist Mike Einziger and violinist Ann Marie Simpson-Einziger with an initial goal to bring better sound quality to concerts.

Instead of hearing music blasted out of speakers, users can connect their smartphone to a network (the startup creates its own wireless channel that doesn’t rely on the venue’s potentially overloaded Wi-Fi or cell networks). Then, through their earbuds, they’ll hear the same sound mix that the musicians receive through their in-ear monitors.

The San Francisco-based startup was founded in 2016 with an initial goal to bring better sound quality to concerts

Clients and partners to date include Aerosmith, Charlie Puth, Incubus, Metallica, Sting, Staples Center (soon-to-be Arena), and multiple venues housing NBA and NHL teams.

Mixhalo’s latest funding round is led by Fortress Investment, the firm behind TSX Broadway, a Times Square-based retail complex that features an outdoor stage. Mixhalo’s technology will be integrated into the space’s venue.

Another new major investor is pro audio sound system manufacturer L-Acoustics, which will now be Mixhalo’s exclusive professional audio partner.

Mixhalo’s series A investors also contributed to the series-B round, including Foundry Group, Sapphire Sport, Founders Fund, Defy Partners, and Another Planet Entertainment.


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Tegan and Sara tackle ticket touts

Twin sister indie-pop duo Tegan and Sara made a stand against secondary ticketing platforms that had “unethically gobbled up” tickets for their show at San Francisco’s Sydney Goldstein Theater (1,687-cap.) earlier this week, offering up empty seats to fans on a first come first serve basis.

“Our goal is to ensure that our real fans are in each and every seat, and to prevent secondary platforms from hurting our show,” the pair posted on Facebook prior to the show on Tuesday (1 October).

“As an experiment, tonight we will be offering rush seating for all open seats. This means that we will allow any empty seats to be available on a “first come first serve” basis in return for a “pay what you can” cash donation at the door to the Tegan and Sara Foundation, which works to support LGBTQ+ girls and women.”

After analysing tickets left on secondary platforms, the pair had calculated that over 200 seats at the “technically sold-out” show would remain unfilled.

The band stated they would keep fans “updated on rush seating and ticket availability” of upcoming shows.

Tegan and Sara are playing throughout October and early November in venues across the United States and Canada, before heading to the UK for dates in Brighton, London and Manchester.


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LA Opera, IFPI investigate ‘Opera King’ sexual misconduct

The Los Angeles Opera and the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) have launched separate investigations into opera superstar Plácido Domingo, who has been accused of sexual harassment by multiple women.

Multi Grammy award-winning singer and conductor Domingo has served as general director of the LA Opera since 2003 and as IFPI chairman since 2011.

On Tuesday (13 August), the Associated Press reported that nine women in the opera industry had come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against Domingo, spanning over three decades. Seven of the nine claim they felt their careers would have been jeopardised if they rejected Domingo’s advances.

A further six individuals told the AP that “suggestive overtures” by the singer had made them feel uncomfortable. Only one of the subjects, retired opera singer Patricia Wulf, allowed her name to be used in the report.

In response to the reports, the LA Opera is hiring a third party counsel to investigate “the concerning allegations”, as the IFPI launches its own “formal inquiry” into the accusations.

The Philadelphia Orchestra and San Francisco Opera have cancelled upcoming performances by Domingo.

The singer had been invited to appear at the opening gala for the Philadelphia Orchestra on September 18, and was also set to make his 50th anniversary appearance with the San Francisco Opera on October 6.

“I believed that all of my interactions and relationships were always welcomed and consensual”

New York’s Metropolitan Opera is awaiting the results of investigations “before making any final decisions” regarding Domingo, who is to perform in three operatic productions of Macbeth next month.

The opera star will appear at the Salzburg Festival in Austria as planned on 31 August. Festival president Helga Rabl-Stadler said it would be “factually wrong and morally irresponsible to make irreversible judgements at this point.”

Domingo calls the allegations “deeply troubling, and as presented, inaccurate.”

“Still, it is painful to hear that I may have upset anyone or made them feel uncomfortable – no matter how long ago and despite my best intentions. I believed that all of my interactions and relationships were always welcomed and consensual,” continues Domingo in a statement issued to the AP.

“People who know me or who have worked with me know that I am not someone who would intentionally harm, offend, or embarrass anyone. However, I recognise that the rules and standards by which we are – and should be – measured against today are very different than they were in the past.”

The opera singer has upcoming European dates in Hungary, Switzerland, Russia, Austria, Germany, Spain, Italy and Poland.


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Prime Social, Paradigm’s Paul Morris plot blockchain-powered fest

EDM producer 3lau, blockchain entertainment platform SingularDTV and independent promoter Prime Social Group have announced Our Music Festival (OMF), billed as the world’s first “blockchain-powered festival network”.

The debut OMF event will take place at San Francisco’s Civic Center Plaza (25,000-cap.) on 20 October, with DJ Zedd headlining and more hip-hop and dance music acts to be announced in the coming weeks.

The OMF team also includes digital marketing firm CrowdWaves, with AM Only founder and Paradigm partner Paul Morris, as well as major agents Lee Anderson (Paradigm), Hunter Williams (CAA), Sam Hunt (Paradigm) and Phil Quist (CAA), as strategic advisors.

The partners say, after “exploring the potential synergies between blockchain technology and the festival business”, they intend to use the Ethereum to combat ticket counterfeiting, touting and “dozens of other inefficiencies that plague the industry”

Future editions of OMF will see fans earning cryptocurrencies simply by participating in the festival, with OMF Tokens – of which there is a total supply of 1m – redeemable for tickets, VIP upgrades, exclusive access, merchandise, food, beverages and more.

“OMF will revolutionise the live events business in a major way”

In the long term, according to a statement, token holders will be able to “influence festivals themselves, from line-up to location”. The OMF Token will eventually be available publicly, and the team is seeking partnerships with festivals and artists around the world.

OMF CEO Justin Blau (3lau) comments: “The blockchain space is littered with promises that lack real-world application. We’re throwing our first event this year to show our commitment to inciting change. While it will take time for OMF to reach its full potential, our team has studied blockchain-layered applications and legal compliance for years to facilitate realistic steps toward decentralisation.”

“With over 900 concerts and 50+ festivals produced in our career at PSG, we’ve learned all the positives of this amazing industry,” adds Prime Social Group’s founder and co-CEO, Adam Lynn. “We’ve also found some room for improvements, and with the team of incredible partners and technology experts we are going to break down some barriers that we never would’ve thought had been possible.

“OMF will revolutionise the live events business in a major way and I am ecstatic to be part of the team leading the charge.”


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Live Nation announces new venue in New Orleans

2019 will see the opening of a brand new venue in New Orelans, Live Nation has announced today (21 June). To mark the 50th anniversary of the legendary San Francisco venue The Fillmore West, the 2,000 capacity Fillmore at Harrah’s Casino will open in homage early next year.

In keeping with its Californian namesake, the New Orleans Fillmore will showcase state-of-the-art production, vintage poster art, VIP amenities and outstanding hospitality. Rob Bension, president of Live Nation’s club and theatre group, hopes the new venue will attract artists who might usually overlook New Orleans.

“The venue’s industry-leading amenities and intimate 2,000-person capacity fill a gap in the market and will attract performers that often bypass the city, which will ultimately give audiences an even wider array of concert experiences to enjoy,” he says.

“In a city where live music abounds from street corners to the stage, The Fillmore is a perfect addition”

The original Fillmore in San Francisco has hosted some of America’s most impressive acts, with Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix all having topped the bill at some point. The new Fillmore will occupy the second floor of the Harrah’s Casino. The prospective venue therefore not only has to live up to its Californian counterpart’s reputation, but the reputation of the well established casino it will reside in.

Dan Real, general manager of Harrah’s, has said that the end result will fulfil both legacies: “In a city where live music abounds from street corners to the stage, The Fillmore is a perfect addition to Harrah’s New Orleans and will create memorable experiences for both locals and guests.”

Across the US, there are Fillmore venues in Florida, Philadelphia and North Carolina among others. According to Live Nation, this newest Fillmore will embrace its New Orleans setting, with gas street lanterns and ‘hints of Mardi Gras’.


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Vendini tops $2bn in sales

Event ticketing and marketing platform Vendini has hit US$2 billion in gross sales.

The San Francisco-based company, which began as a ticket agency for college and small theatre venues, reached its first billion in March 2015, 14 years after its founding.

Chief revenue officer Keith Goldberg attributes the success to a number of recent acquisitions, including rival ticketer, and the company’s bringing aboard of “some of the best design and programming heavyweights; people with a passion for and knowledge of the live event industry”. In the past year, he adds, Vendini has signed up “hundreds of new venues”, including 41 in the college theatre sector alone, including the Cumberland County Playhouse in Crossville, Tennessee – one of the largest theatres in rural America.

“With recent acquisitions, we’ve assembled all the software and platform pieces the underserved mid-sized venue needs for ticketing, fundraising, subscription sales, logistics, marketing and patron management”

New festival customers, meanwhile, include the Atlantic Film Festival and Canadian promoter This is Blueprint.

“Several things have enabled us to fill the gap in the ticketing industry which until now has been the underserved mid-sized venue,” says Goldberg (pictured). “With recent acquisitions, we’ve assembled all the software and platform pieces these venues and event promoters need for ticketing, fundraising, subscription sales, logistics, marketing and patron management.”

Mark Tacchi, Vendini’s CEO and founder, says the company’s future lies in adding new marketing, fundraising and customer relationship management (CRM) components for all its served markets. “Vendini is making it easy for our members to create a powerful ticket-selling loop,” he comments.


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Fillmore named America’s greatest music venue

The Fillmore in San Francisco has been named America’s greatest music venue by online music magazine Consequence of Sound.

The Fillmore opened in 1912 (as The Majestic) but was made famous in the late ’60s by promoter Bill Graham, who booked leading underground acts such as the Grateful Dead, The Doors, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Who, Pink Floyd, Cream, Miles Davis, Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding for the 1,199-capacity venue. It closed in 1970 and lie vacant for many years before becoming a punk club, finally reopening as a tribute to Graham in 1991 following his death in a helicopter crash.

CoS’s Jack Ruskin writes:

Acts like The White Stripes, Radiohead, Blur, The Foo Fighters, and countless others have all visited The Fillmore on their way to superstardom. The space has also been a favourite spot for secret shows from contemporary heavy-hitters like Metallica and the recently departed Prince, and is often used as a filming locale for stand-up comedy specials. To this day, a ticket to the Fillmore ensures a poster and an apple on the way out, a friendly “farewell” from the greeter at the top of the stairs and a concert experience unlike any other.

New York’s Bowery Ballroom – in the news on IQ recently following the purchase of promoter The Bowery Presents by AEG Live – is ranked second in CoSs top 100, with Nina Corcoran calling it “an establishment that’s as much a brand as it is a vital organ of New York City’s music scene, and it won’t be stopping anytime soon”, while the 1,100-capacity Metro Chicago – where “rare is a night when even the sloppiest, dirtiest, and straggliest outfit doesn’t come off sounding legendary” – is third.

The iconic Hollywood Bowl places fourth, the 9:30 Club in Washington, DC, fifth, Stubb’s in Austin, Texas, sixth, Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado seventh, Boston’s Great Scott eighth, The Gorge in George, Washington, ninth and the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee, 10th.

Read the full list at Consquence of Sound.