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Senbla acquires European promoter GEA Live

Senbla, the Sony-backed promoter and producer based in the UK, has acquired a majority stake (51%) in live music and production business, GEA Live (General Entertainment Associates).

Amsterdam based GEA Live has been developing and producing shows worldwide since 2003, most notably for the late Italian producer Ennio Morricone for the final six years of his career, which encompassed more than 100 arena concerts in Europe.

GEA Live has specialised in the development and exploitation of IP in a live setting, producing official legacy tours such as Elvis Live on Screen, or career highlights productions with composers like James Newton Howard and Giorgio Moroder, as well as in-concert productions of well-known television and film franchises.

The acquisition will see Senbla collaborate with GEA Live on a range of projects including the Live in Concert version of Netflix’s hit series Our Planet (narrated by Sir David Attenborough), a space project with the European Space Agency with music by film composer Ilan Eshkeri, and a new arena show curated by Ennio Morricone.

“Senbla and [CEO] Ollie Rosenblatt have been trusted allies throughout the years,” says Floris Douwes, CEO and co-founder of GEA Live.

“[We want] to bring the best entertainment to fans, whilst engaging IP and rights owners [for] maximum commercial return”

“The new partnership came about almost organically and sets us up for further sustainable growth into new markets. The synergetic advantage it creates, to mutually develop and produce IP with a strategy that is both global in appeal as well as locally informed, is second to none.”

Ollie Rosenblatt, CEO of Senbla, adds: “As we continue to build momentum and scope in the business, I am delighted our next European chapter is with Floris, Ton and the wonderful team and shows they have built at GEA Live. We have a range of creative ideas we are developing, which match our ambition to bring the best entertainment to the fans, whilst really engaging IP and rights owners to provide maximum commercial return”.

The new alliance follows Senbla’s 2020 acquisition of boutique UK festivals Strawberries and Creem and The Cambridge Club.

Through Sony Masterworks, Senbla has also acquired businesses in the experiential space, family entertainment and theatre – both in the UK and the US – most notably Terrapin Station Entertainment and Seaview Productions.

Past Senbla events include concerts by Burt Bacharach, Diana Ross, Marc Almond, Michael Bublé, Ennio Morricone and Quincy Jones, and screenings with live orchestra of Love ActuallyHarry PotterStar WarsBeauty and the Beast and Joker.

 


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John Empson joins UK promoter Senbla

London-based promoter Senbla has hired John Empson, known for promoting Eden Sessions, Wilderness and last year’s Legitimate Peaky Blinders Festival, to lead the company’s growing experiential events business.

Empson – who was instrumental in setting up Eden Sessions (now run by AEG Presents) in 2001, and later programmed Wilderness, Citadel and Somersault festivals for Mama Group – will also support Senbla CEO Ollie Rosenblatt in “maximising potential across all verticals”, according to the company.

“The experiential side is clearly a huge growth area, marrying music and IP, entertainment and interaction,” comments Rosenblatt on the appointment. “We see huge potential, as do our partners at Sony Music Masterworks, with the exploitation of IP.”

“I have known John for quite some time now,” he adds. “One conversation led to another and we found a great common ground and an area that could really be developed.”

The Empson-created Legitimate Peaky Blinders festival, based on the hit BBC TV series of the same name, will also return for a second outing next year under the Senbla umbrella.

“I couldn’t be more excited to join Senbla,” says John Empson. “Their ambition, creativity and enthusiasm is unmatched in this industry.

“With the backing of Sony, we’re working together on ground-breaking new live formats, developing a major experiential arm and presenting a raft of original immersive events and festivals. There’s more to come.”

“We’re working together on ground-breaking new live formats, developing a major experiential arm”

The appointment of Empson follows Senbla’s recent acquisition of two festivals, Strawberries and Creem and The Cambridge Club, and news it will be bringing performances by Michael Bublé and Olly Murs to new outdoor venues, including the 15,000-capacity Royal Crescent Bath and 15,000-cap. Chewton Glen in Hampshire, in 2021.

In other company news, 2021 will also see Senbla enter the US market through a strategic alliance with artist manager Jonathan Shank’s Terrapin Entertainment, which was last month acquired by Senbla parent company Sony Masterworks. The alliance will see Terrapin and Senbla develop and produce IP-driven live entertainment productions.

Rosenblatt was also instrumental in the recently announced Sony Music Masterworks 50% acquisition of Seaview Productions, the Broadway producer, which will collaborate with Senbla on specific projects.

“Although clearly 2020 has thrown up enormous challenges, what is clear is that this has given everyone a moment to reflect,” Rosenblatt continues. “The Senbla family has always been one of diverse productions, creative ideas and a huge appetite to grow. To develop and expand you have to be slightly uncomfortable. Therefore, more than ever, we have to be inventive, broad and bold, pushing beyond what we consider to be the norm. The audience expects more from a live experience.

“Next year also sees our new venues come into play: the Royal Crescent is set to become one of the crown jewels in the touring circuit, particularly for international artists, with its absolutely exquisite and quintessentially English backdrop, as does Chewton Glen in the most stunning of settings next to the New Forest. Our foray into the US with Jonathan Shank is very special;  he is someone I have known and admired for a number of years. The prospect of working together in a more cohesive way has always been something that has excited me, so I am truly delighted we made this happen and for us to now formally be in business together.”

 


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Sony’s Senbla acquires first festivals

London-based promoter Senbla has acquired its first greenfield festivals, snapping up boutique UK events Strawberries & Creem and The Cambridge Club.

Senbla – itself acquired by Sony Music last year – says the deal will allow S&C Productions, the company behind the festivals, to expand their offering, with both events expanding to two days, with larger production and capacities of up to 20,000 apiece in 2021.

Founded in 2014, Cambridge’s Strawberries & Creem has grown from a small club event to a 10,000-capacity greenfield festival, having hosted performances by the likes of Skepta, Nelly, Kano, J Hus, T-Pain, Shaggy, Stefflon Don and Ms Dynamite.

The Cambridge Club launched in 2017, with past performers including Sister Sledge, Gabriella and Craig Charles.

Senbla CEO Ollie Rosenblatt comments: “We’ve been looking to move into the festival space for some time now, and this young team, full of positive energy, have created two unique events that have the potential to have a seismic impact on the UK scene.

“Strawberries & Creem should be the biggest multi-genre festival in the country, celebrating an array of brilliant and ground-breaking artists alongside legendary acts across hip hop, rap, dancehall, Afrobeats and electronic dance music, while The Cambridge Club will have a totally unique entertainment offering across music, comedy, theatre, technology, food and drink for all ages, taking its inspiration from the heritage of the great city in which it is located.

“We have reached the point where our festivals deserve to be standalone, weekend events”

“I truly believe these are two of the most exciting properties in the marketplace, and both will be major events in the festival calendar.”

The festivals will continue to be led by William Young (managing director), Chris Jammer (brand and partnerships), Preye Crooks (music and talent), Sam Mellor (marketing and communications), Frazer Robinson (event promotions) and Louise Young (finance and operations).

“We’ve been growing our festivals year on year since we started and, after laying the foundations and building two strong brands, we have reached the point where they deserve to be standalone, weekend events, with expanded capacities, upgraded production and improved experiential offerings,” explains Young.

“With the backing of Senbla and Sony, we’re confident that we can take all of these key elements to the next level, as well as enhancing our ability to compete for world-class artist bookings. We want both Strawberries & Creem and The Cambridge Club to be the leading festivals of their kind in the UK, and this is the best possible next step to achieving that vision.”

Past Senbla events include concerts by Burt Bacharach, Diana Ross, Marc Almond, Michael Bublé, Ennio Morricone and Quincy Jones, and screenings with live orchestra of Love Actually, Harry Potter, Star Wars, Beauty and the Beast and Joker.

 


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Apollo Nights Summer Series to make 2020 return

London-based concert promoter Senbla celebrates the success of the inaugural Apollo Nights Summer Series, which took place from 16 to 20 July in partnership with the 5,000-capacity Eventim Apollo.

The promoter has confirmed that the concert series will return for a second year in July 2020.

The five-night long debut series saw performances from Marc Almond and George Benson, as well as two joint shows from Burt Bacharach and Joss Stone.

Non-dining tickets for the Apollo Nights Summer Series were priced from £39.50 for Marc Almond and £45 for other shows.

Guests could also opt for a dining experience, curated by chef Bryn Williams.

“When I first came to visit the newly restored Apollo, I was struck by what a beautiful venue this really is,” comments Senbla managing director Ollie Rosenblatt. Since opening in 1932, the grade II-listed venue has hosted acts such as the Beatles, David Bowie, Queen, Robbie Williams and Kylie Minogue.

“When I first came to visit the newly restored Apollo, I was struck by what a beautiful venue this really is”

Rosenblatt explains that the idea to “combine the best of food with music” came from viewing award shows at the venue.

“The response and feedback from both consumers and artists have been overwhelmingly positive,” adds Rosenblatt. “For 2020 the aim is to build on this.”

Darren Murphy, general manager of the Eventim Apollo, says he was “delighted” to collaborate with Senbla to put on the concert series.

“It was a rare opportunity to work with a promoter who brings music experiences to life and it was a delight to host the shows with these talented artists in our iconic venue,” says Murphy.

Senbla puts on more than 200 concerts and shows a year throughout the UK. Sony Music Masterworks recently took a majority stake in the promoter, as both look to expand offerings in the live industry.

 


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Sony Music expands live offering with Senbla stake

Sony Music Masterworks, a division of Sony Music Entertainment, has acquired a majority stake in UK concert promotion and production company, Senbla.

Senbla founder and chief executive Ollie Rosenblatt will continue to run the company, working alongside Sony Masterworks’ chief operating officer Mark Cavell and UK label head Sarah Thwaites.

“The combination of Senbla with Sony Music Masterworks gives us a broader platform to grow opportunities in live performance,” comments the Senbla boss, who says he is “delighted” with the new partnership.

Cavell says the deal is “exactly the right move” for Masterworks, as the Sony Music division continues to build on a “very successful live business”.

“The combination of Senbla with Sony Music Masterworks gives us a broader platform to grow opportunities in live performance”

Sony Music took full control of UK-based show producer Raymond Gubbay Live (RBL) last year, in a deal with Germany’s Deutsche Entertainment AG (DEAG).

According to Cavell, the acquisitions “provide the perfect platform to grow the business in the UK and overseas.”

Founded in 2011, Senbla puts on more than 200 concerts and shows annually across the UK. The promoter has worked with artists such as Joss Stone, Burt Bacharach, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Soft Cell and Beverley Knight.

Last year, Senbla teamed up with content creation company Wisebuddah to put on Quincy Jones: A Life in Song at the AEG-owned O2 Arena. Senbla has led productions including Star Wars in Concert, the Apollo Nights Summer Series and Electric Soul Festival.

 


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Wisebuddah and Senbla team up for iconic performers

It has been announced today that award-winning audio content company Wisebuddah has signed a deal with London-based concert promoter Senbla. The deal will see the two companies team up to create exclusive audio content for upcoming concerts from Quincy Jones and Burt Bacharach.

On 27 June, Quincy Jones: A Life in Song will come to the O2 Arena. The concert will pay tribute to Jones’ extensive career in the year of his 85th birthday. Fans will also be treated to a series of guest appearances, including Jess Glynne, Mick Hucknall, Beverley Knight and Mark Ronson.

A week later, Burt Bacharach will take to the stage of the London Royal Festival Hall on 6 and 7 July for the first time in two years to honour his own 60 year-strong career. With eight Grammys, three Academy Awards and 48 top-ten songs, his promises to be another memorable concert.

On the opportunity to work with these artists, Adam Uytman, head of content at Wisebuddah, comments: “Quincy Jones and Burt Bacharach are, without doubt, two of the world’s greatest music icons.

“Capturing the live experience can be very challenging. Wisebuddah have outstanding credentials in this area, so are the perfect partner for us.”

“Understanding audio – whether it’s live or pre-recorded, for scheduled broadcast or on-demand consumption – means we have the expertise to create the best possible content from these live experiences.”

Beyond capturing the two concerts, Wisebuddah will create two programmes which will premiere on BBC Radio 2. Already very well acquainted with BBC Radio, Wisebuddah have worked with some of the broadcaster’s most highlyrated shows, including The Michael Ball Show, Claudia on Sunday and The Radio 2 Rock Show with Johnnie Walker. It has also built a successful portfolio of podcast work with BBC Radio, the Sun and the NHS.

Wisebuddah’s extensive portfolio of work was attractive to Senbla. Ollie Rosenblatt, managing director of Senbla explains: ““Capturing the live experience can be very challenging.

“Wisebuddah have outstanding credentials in this area, so are the perfect partner for us. We are looking forward to extending the reach of these seminal concerts, not only through the high-profile broadcasts on BBC Radio 2, but through other plans we have for the distribution of this unique and very special audio.”

 


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