The decade in live: 2015
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.
Following on from a strong year in 2014, the live music industry in 2015 continued to go from strength to strength, with fans once again showing willingness to spend money on concert tickets.
After the success of their first all-stadia tour, British boyband One Direction embarked on another mammoth concert tour, which came in at number two on the year-end charts, despite the departure of band member Zayn Malik two months in. The tour was the beginning of the end for the band, which went on indefinite hiatus the following year.
2015 was a busy year in the live business, notably seeing the birth of Tim Leiweke and Irving Azoff’s Oak View Group. It was also the year that the Robert Sillerman’s rebirthed SFX Entertainment began to run into some serious trouble…
2015 in numbers
The top 100 worldwide tours grossed more than US$4.7 billion in 2015, up 14% from the year before but falling short of 2013’s $5bn. Ticket sales were also up, increasing by 16% to 59.7m, again lower than the 2013 total of 63.3m. The average ticket price in 2015 was down $3.30 to $78.80.
Taylor Swift was the top touring artist of the year, grossing $250.4m with her The 1989 world tour. The singer generated nearly $200m in North America alone, smashing the previous record of $162m set by the Rolling Stones in 2005.
One Direction also had a successful year with the On the Road Again tour, coming in behind Swift with year-end gross at $210.2m and selling 2.4m tickets, the most of any artist that year. AC/DC made $180m in ticket sales on their biggest tour to date, with U2’s Innocence + Experience grossing $152.2m and Foo Fighters’ Sonic Highway tour totalling $127m.
2015 in brief
Live Nation takes control of Austin City Limits and Lollapalooza promoter C3 Presents, paying a reported $125m for a 51% stake.
Austrian concert organiser Arcadia agrees a new partnership with four German companies – Four Artists, Chimperator Live, KKT and FKP Scorpio – to found Arcadia Live, a new
Live Nation agrees a joint venture with Thailand-based entertainment firm BEC-Tero. The new company, Live Nation BEC-Tero, will promote concerts by Western, J-Pop and K-Pop artists in the region, a pursuit in which BEC-Tero’s concerts division is already a market leader locally.
The Agency Group acquires UK-based electronic music agency Futureboogie, whose roster includes the likes of Bonobo, Crazy P and Nightmares on Wax.
The state of Washington passes a bill to outlaw ticket bots in an attempt to clamp down on the computer software that often prevents humans from buying seats online for concerts and sporting events. The move brings the number of states that have banned bots to 13.
A group of artists including Chris Martin, Calvin Harris, Madonna, Rihanna, Beyoncé, Jay Z, Kanye West, Daft Punk, Alicia Keys, Jack White and Nicki Minaj launch a new streaming service called Tidal, which is described as the first artist-owned platform for music and video.
The O2 arena in London announces that it has sold its 15 millionth ticket. The building, which opened in June 2007, has consistently been the most popular live music venue in the world, with research conducted by Media Insight Consulting claiming that 30% of the UK population has attended The O2 complex at least once.
ILMC launches the International Festival Forum, which aims to help strengthen the relationship between event organisers and agents. The London-based event is set to feature partner agencies such as Coda, The Agency Group, Primary Talent and X-ray Touring who will showcase festival-ready acts to promoters from around the world.
Australian media company Nine Entertainment sells its live events companies Nine Live and Ticketek to Asian private equity firm Affinity Equity Partners for AUD$640m ($480m).
Sydney-based Soapbox Artists, which grew out of the Australian wing of Ministry of Sound, announces its merger with the Melbourne-based 360 Agency. The combined EDM agencies will be a significant player in the dance market, representing a large roster of DJ and producer talent.
Live Nation acquires a controlling stake in American festival Bonnaroo. Under the terms of the deal, current promoters Superfly and AC Entertainment will continue to programme and run the event.
AEG agrees an extended deal with America’s International Speedway Corporation (ISC), allowing the company’s AEG Live division to look at organising concerts at racetracks around the country. ISC owns 13 raceways, including such iconic arenas as Daytona and Watkins Glen.
The Foo Fighters cancel a number of shows after frontman Dave Grohl breaks his leg during a concert in Sweden. Despite a nasty fracture, however, Grohl makes headlines around the world by returning to complete the Gothenburg show, receiving medical attention on stage.
German promoter Deutsche Entertainment AG and its UK offshoots Kilimanjaro Live and Raymond Gubbay Ltd, have set-up a company to sell tickets for their British shows. MyTicket.co.uk will expand the MyTicket concept that has already been running in Germany for six months.
The Windish Agency and Paradigm Talent Agency agree a partnership deal to form one of the world’s biggest independent agency operations, bringing The Windish Agency together with Paradigm partner agencies AM Only and Coda Music Agency, as well as Paradigm itself.
Live Nation Entertainment forms Live Nation Concerts Germany with German concert promoter Marek Lieberberg to promote concerts and festivals in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
William Morris agent Sol Parker jumps ship to Coda Agency, taking Take That, The Prodigy and Rita Ora with him.
United Talent Agency completes its acquisition of The Agency Group.
Live Nation acquires venue and festival operator MAMA & Company, returning a number of former Live Nation assets to its portfolio.
Australian promoter Andrew McManus is arrested at Melbourne Airport on charges of money laundering and the importation of 300 kilograms of cocaine. McManus is one of five people arrested in Australia and the United States as part of an FBI investigation.
Disgruntled investors hit SFX with a lawsuit claiming they were deceived with false and misleading statements over the company’s privatisation plans.
Ebay-owned secondary ticketing platform StubHub launches in Germany.
Pandora completes a $450m takeover of specialist ticketing agency Ticketfly.
Several preliminary bids are reportedly submitted for EDM promoter SFX in addition to that from CEO Robert Sillerman, who bid to buy back the company for $3.25 per share.
SFX promotes former IQ new boss Sebastian Solano to CEO of ID&T North America.
Ex-AEG chief Tim Leiweke forms live entertainment investment firm Oak View Group with Irving Azoff.
Ex-Done Events chief Thomas Ovesen is named CEO of new Dubai-based live music company 117 Live.
Live Nation UK vice-president Steve Homer and senior vice-president Toby Leighton-Pope leave the company.
Who we lost
Mike Porcaro, bassist for Toto; blues legend B.B. King; John Gammon, Pollstar’s UK/Europe correspondent; veteran promoter and ILMC member, Paul King; Stage Entertainment’s project manager Sjoerd Unger; Live Nation venue chief David Vickers; U2 tour manager Dennis Sheehan.
New signings and rising stars (May-June 2019)
Agent: Matt Bates, Primary Talent
Hailing from Mungia in the Basque Country, Belako (Josu Ximun Billelabeitia, Lore Nekane Billelabeitia, Lander Zalakain and Cristina Lizarraga) have been playing non-stop throughout Europe for the last two years, including at some of Spain’s biggest festivals.
They won Radio3 and Gaztea awards in 2012; Best New Band awards from Rolling Stone and MIN in 2015; RNE’s Best Modern Music Band gong in 2016; the Best Live Award at both MIN and the Iberian Music Awards in 2017; and last year saw them add MIN’s Best Band, Best Live and Best Video (for ‘Render Me Numb’) to their growing list of accolades.
Belako are high intensity with hypnotic melodies, great riffs, amazing bass rhythms and powerful drums. Every live show goes from the darkness to the light, from the 80s through to the 21st century, from sweet vocals to screams.
With three albums now under their belts, Belako have been honing their stage presence by playing 100+ gigs per year, and with dates across Europe, the USA, Mexico, Russia, Japan, Korea and the Philippines, they have been steadily growing their international fan base, too.
George Gretton (UK)
Agent: Sol Parker, Coda Agency
Art-pop and alternative R&B are just two of the genres that can be applied to George Gretton’s debut Tread Water. Growing up in Nottingham and now London-based, the multi-instrumentalist, singer and producer is sculpting a forward-thinking and trendless sound that’s distinctly his, via atypical arrangements, experimental processing and fitful drum samples.
“Tread Water was written at a time when I didn’t really have a musical identity or lyrics to draw inspiration from. I had just started to teach myself basic production and I had become fascinated with vocal manipulation and using a contrast between organic and artificial sounds to tell different sides of the same situation,” says Gretton.
“I suddenly found that writing with obscure instrumentation gave me a lot of creative freedom, and the lyrics and arrangement came together pretty quickly after that.”
Out of that desire for musical identity, Gretton’s creative freedom flourished, and he is now making music akin to such iconic artists as Ben Khan, James Blake and with echoes of Bon Iver. The genius in the self- produced Tread Water is in its understated simplicity; organic sounds perfectly collide with electronic, pulling focus to the innovative and stellar songwriting.
Coda, Uefa partner on Together #WePlayStrong campaign
Uefa, the governing body of football in Europe, has joined forces with Rita Ora on Together #WePlay Strong, Uefa’s campaign to encourage participation in football among girls and young women.
The news – announced today by Coda Agency, where Ora (pictured) is repped by Sol Parker – sees Uefa (Union of European Football Associations) become the sponsor of of Ora’s Girls tour, her first in five years, which includes stops in 13 cities in the UK and Europe.
Peter Willems, Uefa’s head of marketing and sponsorship activities, says: “We’re excited to have Rita Ora on board with Together #WePlayStrong. We believe we’ve formed the perfect partnership that will help to grow the game across Europe for young girls.
“Our partnership will continue to evolve with dynamic surprises that will help connect Uefa to the world of young women through music, entertainment, fashion and sport.”
The Kosovo-born star’s previous headline tour was 2013’s Radioactive, of Europe, Asia and Australasia, which wrapped up at the Royal Norfolk Showground Arena (4,000-cap.) in August.