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The New Bosses 2019: Melanie Eselevsky, Move Concerts

The New Bosses 2019 – the biggest-ever edition of IQ‘s yearly roundup of future live industry leaders, as voted for by their peers – was published in IQ 85 last month revealing the twelve promising agents, promoters, bookers and execs that make up this year’s list.

To get to know this year’s cream of the crop a little better, IQ conducted interviews with each one of 2019’s New Bosses, to discover their greatest inspirations and proudest achievements, pinpoint the reasons for their success and obtain advice for those hoping to be a future New Boss. Snippets of the interviews can be found in the latest IQ Magazine, with all interviews being reproduced in full online and on IQ Index over the coming weeks.

New Boss number eight is Melanie Eselevsky, a talent booker at Argentina’s Move Concerts. The youngest New Boss of 2019, 24-year-old Eselevsky divides her time between studying law at the University of Buenos Aires and working for Move Concerts Argentina.

After starting out producing not-for-profit musical shows – in 2016 Eselevsky, with her friends, purchased the stage rights for Hereafter Musical, which they produced in a 500-capacity theatre for two seasons – she joined Move Concerts, initially as a production assistant, in early 2017. (Read the previous interview with Primary Talent’s Matt Pickering-Copley here.)

 


What are you busy with right now?
On the one hand, I am already working on 2020’s agenda. It’s a tough time because it is a presidential election year in Argentina and the exchange rate varies every minute because everything is unpredictable. On the other hand, Move Argentina has more than 20 shows for the third and fourth quarters of this year. I define myself as a “control freak” and I like to keep an eye on everything that is going on with each show. In our part of the world, we look after visas, hotels, production, ground transportation, etc. as well as everything else, therefore, there’s a lot on our plates.

Did you always want to work in the music business?
I’ve been attending concerts and other live events ever since I was a child and I had no idea that these kinds of jobs existed. I remember going to school with the daughters of a Sony Music executive, and thinking their life was so cool because they got to meet Shakira. I only found out later that there was the opportunity to really get involved through being in a concert promotion company.

What are some of the highlights of your career so far?
The past three years have been really interesting from a business point of view for me. I’ve had the opportunity to work with some great artists – Ed Sheeran, Shawn Mendes, Katy Perry, Green Day, Radiohead and Iron Maiden, to name a few.

That said, one of the show confirmations I enjoyed the most was Patti Smith a few months ago. I read she was playing São Paulo and I immediately asked if we could submit an offer because I believed in the show and such an iconic artist. The day of the on-sale all I could do was keep refreshing the sales report again and again. Now we are close to sell-out and I’m ecstatic that my gut feeling was right and I have gained a lot of confidence. I can’t wait until the show.

“I define myself as a “control freak” and I like to keep an eye on everything that is going on with each show”

How has your role changed since you started out?
I started at Move Concerts with a three-month probation period as a production assistant. I was supposed to handle administrative issues like organising vendor budgets and invoices. I remember one of my first work meetings where I was supposed to present all the budgets and just before I got in I had to google the word “forklift”!

During my first year, I was asked to help in a lot of different areas. This gave me a wider perspective of business, from visas, ticketing and merch to show settlements. I never thought I would end up in talent booking. Actually, when [Move Concerts Argentina MD] Sebastian Carlomagno first asked me to do this job at the beginning of 2017, I thought it was crazy. It took me almost a year to feel comfortable, but everyone has been truly supportive. [Move Concerts CEO] Phil Rodriguez and [lead promoter of Move LatAm] Fabiano de Queiroz were crucial in this process.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt while at Move?
To stop for a minute and think. This business is way too dynamic. We need to be ready to make tough decisions all the time. That’s why it is important to be able to put yourself on hold for just 60 seconds in order to see everything more clearly.

What, if anything, would you change about how the live industry is run today?
I consider myself really lucky because, above all, Move Concerts encourages trust and teamwork. Everyone has a lot of experience, but at the same time they are open to new ideas. The industry would be healthier if other companies worked on this same way.

What do you do for fun?
I would produce independent musical theatre shows with my friends. That’s what my background is in and I really love theatre.

“It is important to be able to put yourself on hold for just 60 seconds in order to see everything more clearly”

Do you have an industry mentor?
Everyone at Move Concerts has “mentored” me in certain way. I have developed the habit of discussing projects with the different departments – ticketing, marketing, logistics, administration – and offices across seven countries. These discussions enrich every single minute.

Betina Canalis has been a role model ever since I started working at Move. She taught me a lot about how to place an offer and how to “feel” the market. I call her every time I need advice.

What advice would you give to anyone who wants to get into, or is new to, the business?
When people ask me what my job is about, my answer is “getting what needs to be done, done”. So, be a “doer”. If you are really willing to do this, there are no ifs, buts or complaints. If you are not sure about it, it is probably not for you. Also, don’t be afraid to speak up. It may sound cliché, but if you don’t share your ideas, you don’t get anywhere. And finally – don’t forget to have fun. Working in entertainment is a privilege.

Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?
Nowhere far from backstage. The adrenaline of live is something beyond description.

 


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Fans show up to Shawn Mendes concert a year early

Some eager fans of Canadian singer-songwriter Shawn Mendes were left disappointed last week after they arrived at the Pittsburgh PPG Paints Arena only to find out the 6 August performance was actually scheduled for 2019.

As reported by Ticket News, fans took to Twitter to point out their mistake. Father of seven Bob Rice shared a picture of himself and his family outside the venue, saying: “We got tickets for the Shawn Mendes concert on August 6. However, getting here we realised it was for 2019.

“And we weren’t the only ones! We will be back next year!”

Other fans who had travelled from further afield were more reluctant to see the humour in their mixup. “Sooooo [sic] @ShawnMendes I appreciate you selling your 2019 tour tickets this early, but my friends and I all just drove 6 hrs to Pittsburgh to the PPG Paints Arena to see you in concert, a YEAR in advance,” one fan tweeted.

The mixup is the consequence of Mendes using the increasingly popular “slow ticketing” method for selling seats for his upcoming 2019 concerts. In a bid to keep tickets out of the hands of touts and in the hands of real fans, ticketers are turning to slow ticketing as a means to stop tickets selling out in seconds and reappearing shortly after on secondary ticketing websites for extortionate prices.

“Sooooo [sic] @ShawnMendes I appreciate you selling your 2019 tour tickets this early, but my friends and I all just drove 6 hrs to Pittsburgh to the PPG Paints Arena to see you in concert, a YEAR in advance”

Slow ticketing sees more charged for tickets, in the hopes this will put touts off of buying them because of the smaller profit margins. By beginning onsales earlier, ticketers ensure there is ample time for tickets to still sell out.

For his 2019 self-titled tour, Mendes also used Ticketmaster’s Verified Fan scheme. Fans who are in the market to buy tickets give over their names, contact details and social media handles so that they can be verified as humans, not ticket bots. They’re then put on a list to buy tickets, which they “push” to the front of by buying “day-one” access, merch and music from the artist.

 


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Bieber, Drake lead decade’s top Canadian tours

With Canada Day 2017 – aka Canada’s 150th birthday – fast approaching, StubHub has released data on its ten top-selling Canadian artists of the last decade.

Unsurprisingly, pop superstar Justin Bieber tops StubHub’s rankings, with Drake, The Weeknd, veteran prog-rockers Rush and Vine star-done-good Shawn Mendes rounding out the top five.

National institution The Tragically Hip – whose recent farewell show was watched by a third of the country – place eighth.

While not, of course, a definitive list, StubHub is Canada’s (and the world’s) leading secondary ticket marketplace, so the eBay-owned business should have a fairly good insight into long-term market trends.

The full list is below:

StubHub Canadian top-selling artists

The modern state of Canada was confederated from three colonies of British North America – Canada, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia – on 1 July 1867. The 150th Canada Day (until 1982 called Dominion Day), which celebrates the anniversary of confederation, is tomorrow: 1 July 2017.

 


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YouTube stars: long-term live business?

While the recorded music industry battles with YouTube over royalty rates and copyright rules, the live business is using the online video platform to discover a number of lucrative touring artists. But just how sustainable are the live careers of artists who’ve launched online?

Touring artists who’ve launched their career on YouTube has been big for a while in the US with agencies including WME, CAA and UTA making a big play for online talent.

The trend is crossing over to Europe, thanks to the success of events including Summer in the City and Meet and Greet Convention (MAGCON), and acts like Shawn Mendes (pictured), Leroy Sanchez, Hannah Trigwell and Emma Blackery.

In the UK, agents at Kilimanjaro Live, Coda and WME are getting involved, while Ben Mitha, MD of Karsten Jahnke Konzertdirektion in Germany, is in the process of expanding the company’s portfolio by promoting YouTube and social media stars. The move is a result of him finding it increasingly difficult to build new acts and send them on tour in an economically viable manner.

Last weekend, Summer in the City, now in its eighth year, served as a microcosm of the burgeoning live industry the YouTube world is creating. Over 10,000 young fans descended on London’s ExCel centre where they could meet their favourite YouTubers, watch them live, and listen to panel discussions.

It’s a generation of emerging stars that are unknown to most over the age of 18, and media outlets like The Guardian have even been publishing guides to bridge the generation gap.

Kilimanjaro work with Summer in the City on an event management level, and Promoter Mark Walker first got involved after it was launched by a group of YouTubers. For the first three years, the group hosted meet-ups in a park, moving it to the 800 cap. Brewery, where 3,000 people turned up, and then on to the 7k cap. Alexandra Palace, when Walker stepped in to help organise. “Off the back of that I saw what was going on with the YouTubers and how big some of them were,” he explains.

Kilimanjaro signed comedy acts Tyler Oakley and Miranda Sings, and Oakley’s first tour sold out everywhere within a day. Venues included the 2k cap. Sheperd’s Bush in London and Glasgow’s 2.5k cap. Academy. After founding a new talent agency, Free Focus, to sign emerging digital talent in February, Walker has a joint tour coming up in September with pranksters Roman Atwood and FouseyTUBE. “We’ve sold out Hammersmith Apollo, Glasgow Concert Hall and Birmingham Academy,” he says. “Manchester Apollo will be sold out by the time the show comes round.”

In May, MAGCON – a tour that takes a number of YouTube stars to meet fans – visited the Indigo in London, Manchester Ritz and Birmingham Institute, and all the dates sold out within half an hour. Alongside the £20 General Admission ticket price, 450 VIP passes per show went for £99.

Shawn Mendes was part of the MAGCON tour, and is now launching his music career with the help of live agent Nick Matthews at Coda alongside US partner Paradigm, as well as a management and record label team. Mendes launched his career by doing covers on YouTube, but is now writing and releasing original material.

For Matthews, the fact Mendes could sell out bigger venues from the off because of his online presence hasn’t stopped the agent approaching the tour the same way he would for any young act.

“When you find an artist that can very quickly sell 1,000 or more everywhere in the world it’s a dream for an agent. However, you can get to that point quickly but then go sideways for a long time unless you break through.”

“When you find an artist that can very quickly sell 1,000 tickets or more everywhere in the world it’s a dream for an agent. However, you can get to that point quickly but then go sideways for a long time unless you break through,” he says. 

Mendes’ first show in Europe was the 200 cap. Borderline in London, and the same strategy was employed for Austin Mahone – another of Matthews’ acts who launched on YouTube.

Says Matthews: “We started really small on purpose. It gave us an idea of the real value of what they were doing online and then it’s about scaling that growth.

“We wanted to continue everything selling out mega quick so you’re cultivating and fermenting that demand. Every time you announce something it’s a very electric on-sale. We’re now doing that at really massive levels.”

Less than a year after his Borderline show in October 2014, Mendes sold out the 2k cap. Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London, where he played in September last year.

“I think that growth is faster than other debut acts, but these days everything happens quicker than it’s ever happened before because of the global nature of the music industry,” says Matthews. “I look after Halsey and you can’t really say she’s a YouTube star but she has gone from zero to Brixton quicker than any other artist I’ve ever worked with. There are other acts out there that we don’t work with that are having that same level of acceleration.”

There is a danger in peaking too soon, and Matthews takes measures to ensure that doesn’t happen. “When you’re on such a steep incline you’ve got to manage that growth. You need the repertoire to do the bigger shows and the experience as an artist as well. Always pitch it as your average day rather than your best day, for Shawn that’s always how we’ve played it,” he explains.

Over at Kilimanjaro, the YouTube stars have proved a decent source of income due to the ability to go straight in with a decent ticket price that ranges from £12 to £35, as well as VIP upgrades like meet and greets. However, it’s often higher risk than traditional tours due to the lack of support the acts have, meaning Kilimanjaro pay for accommodation, transport and tour management, and sometimes full production depending on what the acts want to do onstage. Oakley spent £10,000 building a stage set that looked like his bedroom.

“Just doing the tours isn’t making us huge sums of money, especially as a lot of the acts don’t want to go bigger than 1,000 capacity to begin with,” says Walker.

“Just doing the tours isn’t making Kilimanjaro huge sums of money. Often artists realise they can make a lot more money doing their YouTube channel and might not come back again.”

“Often they go out and do the tours and realise they can make a lot more money doing their YouTube channel and might not come back again. A band, however, will want to keep touring and building, so we can take them up into arenas and stadiums.”

To find other sources of income, Walker has started managing the talent himself. He now has eight acts on his roster who he’ll find book deals and brand partnerships for, and help get their music out there for those that want to go down that avenue. “That’s where the money is to be made,” he says.

Violin player and dancer Lindsey Stirling was amongst the world’s top-earning YouTube stars last year with $6 million, according to Forbes. Atwood earned $2.5m, while the world’s most successful YouTube acts, comedic videogame player PewDiePie, topped £12m.

For Matthews, YouTube is a vital platform for building the stadium headliners of the future. “In the next five years, we don’t know what’s going to happen to mainstream media, the BBC and ITV are shrinking and it’s companies like Google that are able to afford the best and most experienced creative people on their teams,” he explains.

“It’s only a matter of time until YouTube becomes a mainstream media platform, and these stars become household names alongside the people who are getting mainstream media exposure now.

“At the moment there is definitely a need for traditional music industry expertise to guide YouTube talent into making it into that top 10% of artists in the world.”

 


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