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AEG’s Simon Jones on the return of BRITs Week

AEG Presents promoter Simon Jones has given IQ the inside track on this year’s BRITs Week as it returns for the first time since the onset of the pandemic.

The annual charity concert series gives fans the opportunity to see leading UK artists perform at intimate venue across London in the run-up to next Tuesday’s (8 February) BRIT Awards at The O2.

BRITs Week 2022 kicked off earlier this week with Anne-Marie at Lafayette, and has gone on to showcase Joy Crookes and Maisie Peters, both at Omeara, Bastille at EartH and Becky Hill at Lafayette.

It continues tonight with Fontaines DC at the 500-cap The Dome before concluding with Mimi Webb at Omeara (5 February), Craig David presents TS5 at Under The Bridge (17 February) and Damon Albarn at Troxy (20 February). A percentage of tickets go into a £5 prize draw, with the remainder going on general sale.

The event has raised millions of pounds for War Child since its inception in 2014, thanks to underplay shows by artists such as Coldplay, Ed Sheeran, Take That, Florence & The Machine, Biffy Clyro , Foals, Royal Blood, Wolf Alice and The 1975, raising millions of pounds for War Child.

“We’re all very thankful that so many people want to play the series, and some indeed come back for multiple shows over the years,” says Jones, AEG’s SVP of music, international. “Everyone who takes part does so very enthusiastically because of the amazing work that War Child continue to do, for children in conflict across the world.”

“It’s just genuinely great to be back doing these red hot shows with amazing artists in small venues”

Here, in a special Q&A, Jones talks us through the evolution of the series…

How did BRITs Week come about?

“BRITs Week started out as a couple of shows at Brooklyn Bowl at The O2 in 2014. As The O2 was the host venue of the main ceremony, Maggie Crowe at the BPI, Milly Olykan, formerly of AEG, and myself concocted the idea to expand the footprint and outreach of the BRITs in the days surrounding the shows, by doing shows in small venues for very established artists. By year two in 2015 we had come up with a great collaboration with all of the major labels, and a collective of the independent labels, whereby they committed to collaboratively book a minimum of one show each year of their established artists in focus that year, with a supporting bill of their up and coming talent.

“At the same time of year, [artist/producer manager] Stephen Budd had a brilliant series of live shows called Passport Back to The Bars, which was a very similar concept, and was raising money for War Child. We all had the same ideas and so we aligned with each other and put everything under one umbrella, and it has gone on from strength to strength ever since.”

How did this year’s line-up come together? 

“It can be very last minute that’s for sure! We had some very early confirmations for this years run, but the bulk of artists confirmed in the last few weeks prior to announcement, which keeps everyone on their toes. Will Smyth, Richard Clarke and Ben Anderson have all done a brilliant job on getting the bill together. Obviously, artists are very graciously giving up their time to play a show, in their packed schedules and normally high touring period, but the prospect of raising a bucket load of cash for War Child in the process is generally the driver for the artists.”

What have been some of your highlights from previous BRITs Weeks?

“Coldplay and Ed Sheeran who both played at Indigo at The O2 in different years were incredible shows. Foals at Shepherds Bush Empire, Idles at 100 Club, The 1975 at The Garage! Laura Marling at St Giles in the Fields was unreal… so many.”

What does it mean to you to see it return given the events of the last two years?

“Last year was a real downer, obviously, not being able to do the series, for obvious reasons, despite coming very close to doing a big streamed event – mainly because the amount of money that is raised for War Child each year is so substantial, and it makes a huge difference to them if it doesn’t happen. But for this year, it’s just genuinely great to be back doing these red hot shows with amazing artists in small venues. BRITs Week has become a real industry fixture each year and we’re all so pleased to have it back.”

Is there anything else you would like to add?

“A big shout out to everyone that has tirelessly worked on the series of shows since 2014 to help deliver amazing shows, to get BRITs Week to where it is, and raising a colossal amount of money for War Child. Maggie Crowe at BPI is a force of nature, an incredible human being, and the strings she pulls knows no bounds, it’s incredible. Milly Olykan of The O2 really was the driving force with Maggie to help start this, Geoff Taylor at BPI has always been extremely supportive and helpful in everything we do. Adrian, Giuseppe, Hannah and everyone at BPI. Each BRITs chairman, and each label head that has helped keep the the series alive. Jim Benner, Sam Briggs, Ben Knowles, Richard Clarke, Sascha Richter, Jamie Johnson, Emily Simms, Sophie McKay, Ben Anderson all of War Child past and present, Will Smyth, Will Dowdy, Ali Castriotis, Anna De Silva, Joseph Wallace, Jess Vincent, Nicole Allen, Katie Cavanah and Natalie Curtin all of AEG Presents. Everyone at DawBell including Charlie, Rachael and Kate who have done an incredible job over the years. Charlie Carrington, Andy Wise, and Agnes at Mastercard and Justin at BIG. And Paul Shulver, Sam Slee, Ella and Nuela the events previous sponsor O2 who were all big early believers and supporters in the project.”


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Justin Bieber tour nears one million ticket sales

AEG Presents has revealed Justin Bieber’s 2022/23 Justice world tour is on track to sell more than one million tickets.

The Canadian singer will tour five continents from May 2022 to March 2023, travelling to over 20 countries for more than 90 dates, with extra shows to be announced in Japan, Asia and the Middle East.

A total of 875,000 tickets have been sold since last month’s tour announcement. Thirty-one of the newly announced shows sold out on the morning of the on-sale, with additional nights added in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Paris, Amsterdam, Antwerp and Mexico City.

To see how fast the tickets are flying out the door is testament to his status as one of the world’s biggest live music draws

“Justin’s return to the international stage is going to be a juggernaut of a run, and to see how fast the tickets are flying out the door is testament to his status as one of the world’s biggest live music draws,” says Simon Jones, SVP, international touring of promoter AEG Presents. “His Justice world tour is expanding further, and is going to comfortably smash through the million ticket mark once we announce the remaining territories.”

The new dates also come on the heels of Bieber’s recently announced 52-date 2022 North American tour, which kicks off in San Diego on February 18.

The tour is Bieber’s first global outing since 2016/2017’s Purpose world tour, which grossed $257 million, attracting 2,805,481 fans across 141 shows, according to Pollstar.

Bieber also headlined Capital’s Jingle Bell Ball with Barclaycard at The O2 in London on Saturday (11 December).


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AEG Presents names new SVP, international

AEG Presents has promoted Simon Jones to the newly created role of senior vice-president of music, international.

In the newly created, London-based role, Jones will head up AEG Presents UK’s global concert operations, working with AEG offices in the US, Europe, Asia and the Middle East to promote a range of artists from club gigs to stadium shows. He reports directly to Steve Homer and Toby Leighton-Pope, AEG Presents London’s joint CEOs.

The creation of the position comes after AEG Presents’ launch in France in January this year, following the company’s acquisition of a stake in leading festival Rock en Seine in 2017.

In 2017, AEG promoted more than 800 live events in the UK, including British Summer Time Hyde Park festival and the recently launched All Points East in Victoria Park, London.

“I’m certain we can keep upping the ante both in the UK and around the world”

“I’ve enjoyed building the international touring arm of our UK office in recent years – it’s a major passion of mine and I’m excited to continue and expand on this even further, with some incredible shows and tours to announce soon,” says Jones, who joined AEG as an intern, working at the then-new O2 Arena. Since then, he has risen through the ranks to become a promoter and senior executive.

“What we have achieved since AEG Presents launched in the UK has been phenomenal and I’m certain we can keep upping the ante both here and around the world. The artists that work with us are always at the core of our thinking when planning tours and shows, and that is reflected in the calibre of artists and their teams that we work with.”

Jones’s current tours include Shawn Mendes’s European tour, the Ed Sheeran South Africa stadium tour, Asian tours for Khalid and Calum Scott, Rodriguez across Australia and New Zealand and UK tours for Anne-Marie, Jess Glynne, Tom Odell and the Vamps.

Recent successes include Ed Sheeran in Asia and the Middle East in 2017–18, as well as Sheeran’s three sell-out stadium shows in Glasgow this year, Justin Bieber’s 2016–17 UK tour, Craig David’s 2017 arena tour and the annual Brits Week series of shows.


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