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The decade in live: 2012

The start of a new year and, perhaps more significantly, a new decade is fast approaching – and while many may be thinking ahead to New Year’s Eve plans and well-meaning 2020 resolutions, IQ is casting its mind back to the most pivotal industry moments of the last ten years.

As in the previous 12 months, 2012 saw the live music industry still grappling with the effects of the global economic crisis, with many countries just beginning to clamber out of recession and others heading for dreaded ‘double dips’.

This continuing economic uncertainty naturally bit into the leisure spend of discriminating ticket buyers with a variety of entertainment options – though the world did not, as predicted by some long-dead Mexicans, come to an end.

Elsewhere, the weather gods interfered with yet more festivals, while Hurricane Sandy had a devastating effect on the industry in the New York area. In the UK, meanwhile, the Olympics scored on many levels, but provided far too much competition for many.

 


2012 in numbers

The top 50 worldwide tours grossed a combined US$3 billion in 2012, according to Pollstar, down around 2% from $3.07bn in 2011.

Madonna’s MDNA tour was the clear No1, grossing $296.1 million, ahead of second-placed Bruce Springsteen, whose E Street Band earned $210.2m. Both acts played to more than 2m fans worldwide 2012.

Roger Waters’ The Wall generated $186.4m to come in at No3, and was also the highest-ranking hold-over from the 2011 chart, where he placed No5 with a gross of $103.6 million.

Reflecting the lingering impact of the financial crisis, the total tickets sold by the top 50 tours was 34.9m, which continued the decline from 35.5m the previous year (and well off the pace from 2009, when the top 50 sold 45.3 million, says Pollstar).

 


2012 in brief

January
FKP Scorpio buys a stake in Utrecht-based booking agency and artist management company Friendly Fire.

Touring festival Big Day Out calls time on its New Zealand leg after promoter Ken West admits that falling audience numbers have made the Auckland show unviable.

February

Madonna sparks controversy when she tells Newsweek  magazine fans should “work all year, scrape the money together” for a $300 ticket to her MDNA tour.

March
Private-equity firm CVC Asia Pacific puts its Australian ticketing company, Ticketek, and Sydney’s Allphones Arena up for a sale in a bid to reduce a A$2.7bn (€2.1bn) debt run-up by Nine Entertainment, which owns the assets.

Stuart Galbraith buys out AEG’s 50% stake in Kilimanjaro Live for an undisclosed sum. Both parties say they will continue to work together on events in future. (Kili later cancels the 2012 edition of Sonisphere at Knebworth, which was to have featured Kiss, Faith No More and Marilyn Manson.)

Ebay-owned secondary ticketing service, StubHub, launches operations in the UK and admits it is looking at further expansion across Europe.

Roger Waters's The Wall tour was the third most lucrative of 2012

Roger Waters’s The Wall tour was the third most lucrative of 2012 (© Brennan Schnell/Eastscene.com/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.0))

April
Serbian authorities arrest the venue owner and other individuals following a fire at the Contrast nightclub in Novi Sad that leaves six people dead.

Tupac Shakur, who died 15 years previous, is the main talking point at Coachella, as a multimillion-dollar hologram of the rapper appears on stage alongside Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg.

May
Viagogo raises eyebrows by shifting its operational base from the UK to Switzerland, amid speculation it wants to resell tickets for the Olympic Games without falling foul of British law.

Investment firm Silver Lake Partners completes a transaction to acquire a 31% stake in William Morris Endeavor.

June
Former AEG Germany CEO Detlef Kornett forms a venue consultancy, Verescon, with DEAG with Peter Schwenkow.

Swedish telecom operator Tele2 pays an undisclosed sum to secure naming rights for Stockholm’s new 40,000-capacity stadium, operated by AEG.

Paul McCartney, Mike Oldfield and Dizzee Rascal performed at the London 2012 opening ceremony
Paul McCartney, Mike Oldfield and Dizzee Rascal performed at the London 2012 opening ceremony (© Matt Deegan/Flickr (CC BY 2.0))

July
Live Nation appoints former CAA exec David Zedeck to the role of executive VP and president of global talent and artist development.

Artists including Paul McCartney, Mike Oldfield, Dizzee Rascal and Emeli Sandé are each paid £1 for their performances at the Olympics opening ceremony. The show attracts 26.9m viewers in the UK alone, and billions more worldwide.

August
Three members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot are jailed for two years each, after staging an anti-Vladimir Putin protest in a Moscow cathedral.

September
AEG drops its claim against Lloyd’s of London on a multimillion-dollar insurance policy, following the death of Michael Jackson.

C3 Presents’ Lollapalooza debuted in Brazil in AprilC3 Presents’ Lollapalooza debuted in Brazil in April (© Henrique Oli/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0))

October
Glastonbury Festival takes just 100 minutes to sell out all 135,000 tickets for next summer’s event, despite not naming a single act on the 2013 bill.

C3 Presents extends an arrangement with Globo Organization’s GEO for more events in Brazil, following a successful Lollapalooza.

November
AEG is awarded the contract to take over shows at London’s prestigious Hyde Park, ending Live Nation’s decade-long relationship with the 80,000-capacity space.

Frank Barsalona, founder of Premier Talent, dies aged 74. Premier was the first agency to work exclusively with rock artists, with clients including the Yardbirds, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, U2 and Van Halen.

December
The Wall Street Journal reports that a number of bidders are in contention to acquire AEG, despite a reported $10bn asking price.

Irving Azoff unexpectedly resigns as chairman of Live Nation and CEO of its Front Line Management Group, to concentrate on his own artist management company.

 


Whitney Houston

Who we lost

Notable industry deaths in 2012 included South by Southwest creative director Brent Grulke, Lasse Ollsen of Swedish promoter Viva Art Music, Jon Lord of Deep Purple, Armin Rahn, founder of Munich-based Armin Rahn Agency and Management, Radiohead drum tech Scott Johnson, Perth Arena general manager David Humphreys, R&B legend Etta James, pop powerhouse Whitney Houston, the Bee Gees’ Robin Gibb, disco diva Donna Summer, the Monkees’ Davy Jones and legendary agents Armin Rahm and Frank Barsalona.

 


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Coroner: ‘inadequacies’ caused Radiohead drum tech death

An investigation has found that “inherent deficiencies” in design and construction led to the stage collapse that claimed the life of Radiohead drum technician Scott Johnson in 2012.

The conclusions of the inquest, which took place in Johnson’s hometown of Doncaster in the UK, come after those of a previous investigation in Toronto, where the fatal incident took place.

Johnson was killed when a stage roof collapsed before a Radiohead show at Downsview Park in Canada.

“Inadequate technical advice coupled with wholly inadequate construction techniques led to the collapse of the roof system which led to Scott Johnson’s death,” stated coroner Nicola Mundy at the UK inquest.

“It’s quite clear from what I have heard that the design and construction itself had inherent deficiencies within them”

“It’s quite clear from what I have heard that the design and construction itself had inherent deficiencies within them.”

Speaking at the inquest, Ken Johnson, the father of the drum technician, stated that the coroner’s comments were “exactly what we needed someone to say” and should enable an acknowledgement of the “negligence” that led to the fatal accident.

A previous Toronto-held inquest returned a verdict of ‘accidental death’ in April, a conclusion that Radiohead deemed “frustratingly insufficient” given that the collapse was “shown to be preventable”.

The Canadian inquest also resulted in a set of non-binding recommendations for improving safety at live events.

A court case brought against Live Nation, Optex Staging and stage engineer Domenic Cugliari was stayed in 2017.

 


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Radiohead drum tech death inquest comes to a close

An inquest into the death of Radiohead drum technician Scott Johnson, who was killed in a stage collapse, has resulted in a set of non-binding recommendations to update best practice for the live entertainment industry.

Johnson was killed when the stage roof collapsed before a Radiohead show at Toronto’s Downsview Park in June 2012.

A court case brought against Live Nation, Optex Staging and Services and stage engineer Domenic Cugliari was stayed – meaning no charges would be brought forward – in 2017, sparking outrage from Radiohead and the technician’s father, Ken Johnson.

On March 25, Ontario’s chief coroner began a new inquest into the cause of Johnson’s death. A five-person jury heard testimony from Radiohead drummer Philip Selway and the drum technician’s father, among others.

The Toronto jury returned on 10 April with a verdict of ‘accidental death’ and a set of 28 non-binding recommendations for the live entertainment industry, aimed at bolstering oversight pertaining to safety requirements for temporary stages in Ontario.

Proposals included the establishment of a working group to update best practice for live events, changes to the building code and occupational health and safety laws pertaining to temporary stages, as well as suggestions aimed at engineers.

“For us, we sort of accept that life is different and we expect that emotional rollercoaster, we don’t see a way out for that”

Ken Johnson told reporters he “would be disappointed” if nothing changed as a result of the investigation. Johnson advises on scaffolding safety in the UK and is expected to continue aiding organisations in Canada with the implementation of live performance venue safety.

“For us, we sort of accept that life is different and we expect that emotional rollercoaster, we don’t see a way out for that,” said Johnson.

“I think it just brings some closure, at least. There’s hardly a month gone by in the last seven years where I’m not involved in some dialogue about Scott and what’s happened, so I quite look forward to perhaps not having that dialogue.”

All parties involved in the original court case pleaded not guilty to charges brought under the Occupational Health and Safety Act for wrongdoing.

Radiohead released a statement commending the inquest as “constructive, thorough and fair-minded”.

“It [the inquest] revealed the negligence and failings that lead to Scott’s death,” reads the band’s statement, which goes on to say that “a verdict of accidental death was returned, which feels frustratingly insufficient given that the stage collapse was shown to be preventable.”

The band stressed that “it’s up to all of us now to make sure that these recommendations are implemented.”

Radiohead’s Thom Yorke voiced his outrage at the lack of legal action during the band’s first performance in Toronto since the incident, stating that “the silence is fucking deafening.” The band dedicated their 2016 album A Moon Shaped Pool to Johnson’s memory.

 


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Radiohead demand answers for fatal stage collapse

Last night saw Radiohead play their first Toronto show since the fatal accident that claimed the claimed the life of their drum technician Scott Johnson six years ago. During the second encore, the band called for answers and accountability over the 2012 incident.

“We wanted to do a show in Toronto, the stage collapsed, killing one of our colleagues and friends,” frontman Thom Yorke said to the audience.

“The people who should be held accountable are still not being held accountable in your city. The silence is fucking deafening.”

Whilst preparing for a show at Downsview Park in Toronto in June 2012, the roof of the stage collapsed, killing the 33 year-old from Doncaster and injuring three others. The following year, Ontario’s Ministry of Labour brought charges against Live Nation, Optex Staging and Services and stage engineer Domenic Cugliari for wrongdoing under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. All parties pleaded not guilty.

“The people who should be held accountable are still not being held accountable in your city.”

However, with three days remaining on the trial, judge Shaun Nakatsuru was appointed to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, declaring a mistrial. The judge appointed to the case after Nakatsuru’s departure, Ann Nelson, ruled in favour of the defendant’s application to drop the case, citing their entitlement to a trial without unreasonable delays. Last year, the charges were stayed altogether.

Radiohead drummer Philip Selway recently discussed the lack of response from the Canadian justice system on BBC’s Newsnight. He said the court case had “broken down on a technicality,” with everyone involved having received “no real answers”.

Yorke’s passionate speech at last night’s gig at the Scotiabank Arena was followed by a moment of silence. It is reported that members of the crowd interrupted the silence only to shout “we’re sorry” and “we love you”.

 


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