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Kalorama festival to launch in Madrid

Meo Kalorama, a Lisbon-based festival organised by Last Tour, has announced a new edition in Madrid, Spain.

The decision comes after the independent promoter axed its Spanish festival Cala Mijas, following a dispute with the local municipality.

Kalorama Madrid will take place at the Recinto Ferial Fairgrounds, sharing the same dates and lineup as its Portuguese counterpart.

Slated for 29–31 August, the twin festivals will feature performances from acts including Massive Attack, LCD Soundsystem, Death Cab For Cutie, The Postal Service, Sam Smith and The Smile.

Last Tour claimed that Mijas Town Hall failed to pay “significant amounts owed in sponsorship” for the 2023 edition

The new Madrid event comes after Cala Mijas was cancelled due to “repeated and serious [contractual] breaches” by the municipality.

The third annual edition was due to take place in Mijas, Málaga, on 29–31 August with a sold-out crowd.

However, Last Tour, which also organises Bilbao BBK Live and BIME, claimed that Mijas Town Hall failed to pay “significant amounts owed in sponsorship” for the 2023 edition.

“In addition to this, there are equally serious breaches, such as the lack of conditioning and provision of facilities at the venue,” reads a statement on the festival’s social media accounts.

In response, Mijas Town Hall said they have worked, “tirelessly to make progress on the 2024 edition of Cala Mijas without Last Tour showing any willingness to do so”. They maintain that they have reiterated, “the need to justify the investments, which should have been carried out since the festival started”.

“[We have] always shown its willingness and interest in the continuity of the festival but this must be balanced with its obligation to look after the public resources of the citizens.”

 

 

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K-pop’s Music Bank World Tour to debut in Spain

A renowned K-pop event is to debut in Spain later this year in the latest phase of its international expansion.

First staged in Tokyo, Japan in 2011, the Music Bank World Tour is an offshoot of one of South Korea’s most popular music TV shows, Korean Broadcasting System’s (KBS) Music Bank. It has gone on to be held in cities across Asia, Europe and Latin America, showcasing artists such as BTS, Stray Kids and Twice.

Its 19th edition will land at Madrid’s 80,000-cap Santiago Bernabeu Stadium on 12 October this year, promoted by SONDE3 and LA Rock Entertainment and broadcast live on KBS. Lineup details are yet to be confirmed.

The Madrid show will mark the fifth time the festival has taken place in Europe, having debuted in Paris in 2012

APMusicales reports the occasion will mark the fifth time the festival has taken place in Europe, having debuted in Paris in 2012, when it featured the likes of SHINee, Girls’ Generation, 4Minute, BEAST and 2PM.

The Music Bank World Tour has also previously visited Hong Kong and Chile (2012), Indonesia and Turkey (2013), Brazil and Mexico (2014), Vietnam (2015), Singapore and Indonesia (2017), Chile and Germany (2018), China (2019), Chile (2022), and France and Mexico (2023). It was most recently held last weekend in Antwerp, Belgium at the Sportpaleis on 20 April.

Earlier this week, meanwhile, TEG Live announced that K-Pop superstars aespa would be playing their first Australian dates this August and September. The group will play Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney, on 31 August and Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne, on 2 September.

 


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Deft punk: Barnaby Harrod’s ten live lessons

Having given up his native England in the 1980s, Barnaby Harrod enjoyed a successful decade in a punk band, before fate – and love – saw him pursuing a backstage role. Now celebrating 25 years of Mercury Wheels, he (with the guidance of wife, Elie) has become one of Spain’s top promoters. Gordon Masson discovers ten of the key lessons learned by Barnaby during his fascinating career.

Born in Cambridge, Barnaby Harrod spent his first four years in the northern English city of Newcastle before the family returned south to London, where he stayed until the age of nine. “We then moved to Oxford, but we moved back to London when I was 13, so I spent all my teenage years around Ladbroke Grove and Portobello Road,” he tells IQ.

And it was there where his love for music blossomed. “I was born in 1965, so I was 11 in 1976 when punk broke,” he says. “My uncle took me to see my first gig when I was 12: the Boomtown Rats, with Bob Geldof, and it was amazing. Just going to that one gig got me into music forever, and I started listening to the Ramones and the Sex Pistols and the Clash, as well as going to gigs in London, in 1977, 78, 79, as a teenager.”

While he wasn’t necessarily academic at school, Barnaby was a promising footballer, but punk rock soon took over his life.

“I got into the first 11 football team in my penultimate year, but in my final year, they put me back into the second 11 because by that time I was too much into music, having a drink down the pub, and enjoying myself.”

Always ahead of his time, Barnaby took a gap year when he left school. “I pulled on a backpack and went to South America – I was 18 – and I went to Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Chile. You couldn’t go to Argentina at that time if you were English because it was just after the Falklands War.” However, armed with the rudimentary Spanish he had learned at school, that adventurous trip planted a hispanophile seed, and on his return to the UK, he enrolled at University College London to study Modern Iberian Latin American Studies.

“I always felt like a tourist in France and Italy and Greece. But as soon as I got into Spain, I felt instantly at home”

Studies can map your path in life
“When we lived in Oxford, my mother always had lodgers. They were mostly students, but one of our lodgers – Philip Lloyd-Bostock – was a Spanish don, and he was the one who got me interested in Spanish. He was a wonderful man, and he inspired me to learn Spanish and read Spanish literature, which completely changed my life.”

In his second year at university, he completed a four-month exchange course in Córdoba. “I loved it, and I connected straightaway with the Spanish people. When I went on Interrail with my friends, I always felt like a tourist in France and Italy and Greece. But as soon as I got into Spain, I felt instantly at home. That’s been the way I felt about Spain from the very beginning.”

Disillusioned by university, Barnaby poured himself into music, joining a pub band in London called The Pleasure Splinters. “We never did anything, but I played bass and sang a bit of backing vocals. Then I joined another band, the Disco Dagos, where I played a bit of guitar, but they didn’t really come to anything either.”

But the pull of Spain was too much to ignore and because his birthday coincided with the running of the bulls in Pamplona, he decided that’s what he should do, having read about the event in Ernest Hemingway’s Fiesta.

Taking a risk can pay off immeasurably
Displaying the steely nerve that every promoter requires, he took £100 that his father had gifted him for his birthday and took a risk. “I went to the Golden Horseshoe Casino on Shaftesbury Avenue (London), played roulette, and walked out with £1,000. And the next morning, I went to a travel agent and bought a flight to Barcelona because that was the nearest place to Pamplona.”

Having met a couple of friendly Pamplona locals, he found himself staying in a flat overlooking part of the bull run. And then came the day when he joined the spectacle. “It was absolutely terrifying,” he states. “At the bottleneck that enters the bullring, I managed to catch my hand against a gate, and I snapped my little finger. So, a few hours later I was in hospital with my fractured finger while others were there, covered in blood,” he laughs. “But I had a wonderful time and at that point everything seemed a bit aimless in the UK, so I thought I’d try to move to Spain.”

“There’s not a single town in Spain we didn’t play – I remember going to places where they didn’t have tarmac roads and there would be donkeys tethered in the corner”

Ever practical, he returned to the UK to undertake a course teaching English as a foreign language, which was his only weapon when he relocated to Madrid in March 1989. “I actually thought of going to Barcelona, but I was friends with Robin Wills, who was the guitarist in a band called the Barracudas, and he told me that Madrid was more rock and roll – more nightlife, more bars, more fun, so I took his advice.”

Wills also put Barnaby in touch with a DJ called Kike Turmix. “He was also the singer for The Pleasure Fuckers. Through him, I became firm friends with the band’s two American guitarists – Norah Findlay and Mike Sobieski – and when they kicked the bassist out a few months later, they asked if I wanted to join the band.”

Barnaby’s first show took him back to a familiar setting. “It was in Pamplona, of all places, a year after I had run with the bulls, but this time playing in a punk band. It was wild.”

It’s possible to earn a living doing something you love
Touring extensively with the band across Spain and beyond, The Pleasure Fuckers started to build a fanbase, and what began as a part-time endeavour, soon became a full-time affair. “We made enough money to live on, and the whole thing lasted about ten years,” states Barnaby. “There’s not a single town in Spain we didn’t play – I remember going to places where they didn’t have tarmac roads and there would be donkeys tethered in the corner and stuff.”

The band also toured around Europe, but it’s a show in the United States that Barnaby proclaims as one of his onstage highlights. “The tour was a double bill with another punk band called Nashville Pussy, and we were in Seattle, which was really exciting because that’s where the Sub Pop label was, and we knew a lot of people from other bands who came along to see us. It wasn’t a huge venue, but still, it was sold out to 700 people, and we were headlining that night. It was just this amazing feeling of ‘We’ve done it – we’ve made it.’ And the next day we played Bend, Oregon with four people in the room…”

Another band highlight was in Spain at the inaugural Festimad festival in Madrid where The Pleasure Fuckers appeared on the same stage as Rancid and Rage Against the Machine. “We played at about eight o’clock in the evening, and I remember looking over to the left, and all the guys from Rancid were there, nodding their heads to the music. A couple of songs later, I looked over to the right, and all the guys from Rage Against the Machine were there, nodding their heads.

“Festimad followed closely by the the US tour were great. But they proved to be the zenith of our career, we just didn’t know it at that point.”

“I had to change my initial way of doing things – The Pleasure Fuckers way – into something more professional”

However, it was a show in Switzerland that would provide Barnaby with his biggest life-changing moment. “One of our promoters was called Elie Muñiz, and it was like Cupid had fired his arrow: we just fell in love. And when the tour ended two months later in October 1997, she moved to Madrid.”

Twenty-six years later, Cupid is still at work, while Elie and Barnaby’s son Zack (17) is studying for his international baccalaureate, ahead of plans to attend university in his father’s native England.

“When I met Barnaby I was working as a promoter for the Vendetta Agency in Switzerland,” says Elie. “In an extremely unprofessional manner, I decided to leave everything for the sexy bass player of the band I was promoting! And here we are twenty-five years later!”

Play to your strengths
While Elie knew how to promote shows and had developed relationships with agents in London, that world was a mystery to Barnaby.

“But I did know everyone at all the venues in Spain – literally everywhere up to 1,000 or 1,500-cap. So we decided to set up as promoters. Prior to that I had been doing a bit of tour managing and I realised that in a lot of cases a bit more professionalism was needed – I’d arrive at a venue and nothing had been prepped. In fact, often I’d get to the venue and there was no one there. It was chaos. And I thought to myself, ‘I could do this a lot better.’”

The very first tour came courtesy of Russell Warby, then at the Agency Group. “It was a band called Royal Trux – an alternative rock band from the US, who we did three shows with. I went up to San Sebastian to welcome them and then came down to Madrid, where we had about 200 people in a 300-cap venue, meaning we lost money. But it was a great way to start, although I didn’t really have an idea of what I was doing.

“I’d been used to touring with The Pleasure Fuckers where, literally, we’d sleep on the promoter’s floor. Obviously, I wasn’t gonna ask Royal Trux to stay on my floor, but I tried too hard – I booked a cool hotel in a Bohemian area of Madrid. But I quickly realised that the band just wanted a nice clean hotel with 24-hour reception. And so that began a very quick learning curve of how to deal with bands. I had to change my initial way of doing things – The Pleasure Fuckers way – into something more professional.”

“If the band’s relaxed, then they’re more likely to have a great gig”

Showing musicians a bit of love pays dividends
Barnaby’s experience of life on the road proved invaluable. “I realised how important it was for the band to just feel at ease, so I’d make sure the backstage looked nice by bringing candles, nice food, and decent coffee so that it would smell good in the morning when people arrived. I’d basically go out of my way to make the tour manager and the band felt relaxed, because I knew how important that is, especially at smaller levels.

“When you’re touring in a van playing smaller capacity venues, you’re often far from home and missing your loved ones. And if you just feel a bit of love, then it can make such a difference for the whole day. If the band’s relaxed, then they’re more likely to have a great gig. So having done all that time on the road with The Pleasure Fuckers definitely stood me in good stead.”

That level of attention does not escape the talent. Rick Astley comments, “Working with Barnaby is truly amazing. He exudes professionalism and knows the business inside out, all whilst making it fun. He knows the best restaurants and wine in Spain, so who can’t love that?!”

Sharon Corr says, “I love working with Barnaby and Elie! They’re great people with an incredible knowledge and experience of the industry and music. We have become great friends over the years, and I always look forward to working with them, knowing that they pay great attention to all the details necessary for a great concert, venues, ticket sales, and a super show. Barnaby and Elie are fantastic at what they do!”

American quintet The National agree. “Barnaby has been a stalwart supporter of The National from our earliest days touring in Europe and has taken good care of us on stage and off,” the band say in a statement. “We look forward to more concerts together and seeing him standing backstage, sharp dressed as ever.”

Luck plays a major role in live music
Establishing the company and working with emerging talent saw Elie and Barnaby throwing themselves into Mercury Wheels with a passion that meant they were involved in the business 24/7 in those early days.

“The first act we had a hit with was Moby, who had just released Play. We got pretty lucky”

“The first act we had a hit with was Moby, who had just released Play,” Barnaby tells IQ. “We got pretty lucky. The agent was Ian Huffam, and for Mercury Wheels it was our first big international thing. Moby had been to Spain before, playing small venues like 300-capacity. But on the back of Play, we sold out a 1,200-cap club in Barcelona and about 1,800 in Madrid. But I was still green, so I’d be there to help with the load-in and the load-out because we didn’t have specific local production that we could rely on.

“In fact, we were still doing business via fax at that point. My friend, Mark Kitcatt, who ran Richard Branson’s Caroline imprint in Madrid was crucially benevolent as we started out and generously gave Elie and I some space in his warehouse. We had one computer between us, and we were surrounded by thousands of Prodigy records because The Fat of the Land was huge at the time.”

As the company’s reputation grew, Mercury Wheels were asked to help with booking the new Isladencanta Festival in Majorca. “Year one, we booked Ladytron and maybe one other band, and it all went so well that in the second year, we were asked if we could book the entire event. But then, of course, it went pear-shaped because the organiser didn’t have the money he said he did. But we’d booked it all, and we bought the Strokes for their first ever show in Spain through Russell Warby – he was always there and has been continually supportive to us. I remember Russell actually playing me one of their songs down the telephone, and we paid $1,000 because it was before the record was released. But then it blew up and we kept putting the Strokes higher and higher on the bill.”

Now a long-time agent at WME, Warby comments, “We first worked together on the mighty Royal Trux back in 1998, which only seems a minute ago. Barnaby is a lovely soul. His enthusiasm for music always shines through and he has great taste… in suits and literature, too.

“I remember telling him how much I enjoyed reading Laurie Lee’s As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning and that it made me want to walk across Spain. He told me he loved that book also… so much so that he was inspired to move to Spain and actually did!”

Fellow WME agent David Levy adds, “It’s as much a pleasure to do business with Barnaby today as it was when I first met him as a small independent promoter. Transferring to a larger company, he hasn’t lost any of his excitement to make things happen.

“Perhaps the act I’m most grateful for his work on is Rick Astley because when we first took Rick on, lots of promoters weren’t ready to look at him in a contemporary way, but Barnaby immediately understood what we were trying to do and was one of the first promoters to really support him.”

“Booking the Strokes was important for us, but behind the scenes, we were suffering immensely because the money wasn’t there”

And that respect extends across multiple agencies. Alice Hogg at ATV Live states, “I first met Barnaby a decade ago when I was a shiny new agent at UTA. He wanted to book one of my artists at a boutique festival I’d never heard of at the time, and I made him pay the full fee upfront as I didn’t trust him (not yet understanding Mercury Wheels was part of Live Nation and they were absolutely good for the cash.) Little did I know he’d turn out to be the most trustworthy of them all, and I’d end up working alongside him on global Live Nation tours one day.

“Every call I’ve ever had with Barnaby (even when it’s bad news), I’ve put the phone down smiling. He’s a pleasure to do business with and a great friend.”

ATC Live founder Alex Bruford recalls his first encounter with Barnaby, vividly. “It was at the Moby Dick in Madrid. We were outside the venue, and he walked up in his trademark suit and shades, looking far cooler than anyone in the band. To this day, he still looks cooler than the bands! My artists love hanging out with Barnaby in Madrid – it’s almost always a tour highlight.

Bruford adds, “Barnaby is a brilliant and mercurial promoter, often coming up with unique plans to launch tours and always bringing his incredible sales analysis and projections to the table. He’s been an absolute rock for me, hugely supportive of myself and ATC Live since my first day as an agent. On top of that, he’s taken me for some of the most enjoyable meals in my life, and I consider him a true friend.”

Business partners can make or break you
“Booking the Strokes was important for us, but behind the scenes, we were suffering immensely because the money wasn’t there. So, in 2001, through no fault of our own, we went bankrupt, even though we’d booked an amazing bill for Isladencanta, including Goldfrapp and the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion.”

That episode resulted in Mercury Wheels having to take out a loan to get back on its feet. “You learn who to go into business with,” notes Barnaby, but on the back of that lesson, he and Elie secured a partner to take care of the financial side of things and were able to keep working with Isladencanta with great success.

“Ed [Sheeran] gave Mercury Wheels our first arena show. And then he gave us our first stadium show”

“The following year, we had Oasis and the Libertines. And then we did one more edition with Iggy Pop and Supergrass, but the cops came in and closed it down at midnight because there was a new government in Majorca that didn’t want to do the festival because they were getting pressure from the people who ran the island’s nightclubs. That was the end of it. In a way, I was happy to get out, but when I think about who we booked, it was pretty amazing, even though it was like walking on a knife edge the whole time. And it obviously helped give us credibility with the agents and allowed us to start doing bigger shows.”

With the confidence of the agents growing, Barnaby had a discussion with then Free Trade employee Jon Ollier about a young act he was working with called Ed Sheeran. “We talked about going to the Apollo in Barcelona, which was 1,000-cap, but it did not happen on that tour because they had to change the routing or something. But on Ed’s next tour, we did a 4,500-cap Sant Jordi Club in Barcelona, and the cut-down arena in Madrid, which we started at 5,000-cap and went right through to 8,000 or 9,000.

“Ed Sheeran remains the only person to have played the three venues in the San Jordi complex in succession. First the Sant Jordi Club, then the Arena which is 17,000-capacity, and then the stadium, which is 54,000, stepping up on each consecutive tour. But the confidence was always there because on that first visit, Mark Friend, Ed’s tour manager, said to me, ‘Next time, we’ll be playing the arena.’ So we went to look at the arena. And when Ed played the arena on the following tour, Mark said, ‘Next time, we’ll go to the stadium,’ so we went to look at that, too. And it happened.

“Ed gave Mercury Wheels our first arena show. And then he gave us our first stadium show.”

It’s possible to be independent and benefit from corporate assistance
Having made a big impression on the Spanish live music market, it was only a matter of time before the corporate giants made an approach, and in 2014, Live Nation Spain chairman Pino Sagliocco invited Barnaby for lunch. “He asked me if I’d ever thought about becoming part of a bigger company. I was unsure, but he said, ‘This is your chance. The train’s come into the station, but it’s only here once, and it’s not going to stay forever.’ So, we negotiated and eventually we reached an agreement that was good for all of us. And we officially linked up with Live Nation in 2015.”

Unlike other LN deals, the corporate parent did not acquire Mercury Wheels, however. “They never bought us,” explains Barnaby. “We’re under their umbrella, and we work within the structure of Live Nation, but we’re still independent. I always think of it as like one of those sub labels that are under the major record labels but who have their own independence within the major.”

“The greatest thing about working within Live Nation is that they are incredibly hands-off. I’ve never been told not to do anything. The only directive is to try to make shows work”

Nevertheless, the benefits of that lunch with Sagliocco are obvious as the association with Live Nation enters its tenth year, and Barnaby admits that alongside Elie, Sagliocco has been one of his greatest mentors. “When we do the big stadium shows, there’s a lot of money involved, and there’s a lot of legal stuff with the contracts, the rental of the venues, the marketing, the security, etc. Live Nation’s managing director in Spain, Paco Martinez, runs an incredibly tight and efficient ship.

“Paco’s ability and speed with the numbers is second to none in the business, and Elie & I have learnt an incredible amount from him. So having that team of Live Nation behind you makes things a lot smoother.

“At the same time, because we maintain a level of independence, we can be very nimble and act quickly to jump onto new projects. The greatest thing about working within Live Nation is that they are incredibly hands-off. I’ve never been told not to do anything. The only directive is to try to make shows work.”

Music remains at the heart of everything
With a roster that includes burgeoning act Twenty One Pilots and superstar Dua Lipa, Mercury Wheels continues to get bigger and bigger. “It feels good,” says Barnaby. Indeed, recently he’s added a new axle to the company’s chassis.

“We’re doing comedy now,” he reports. “Five or six years ago, comedy in English wouldn’t have worked in Spain. But thanks to streaming networks and comedy series, English-speaking comics doing routines have become popular here. We did Ricky Gervais, which was a big test for us. When he came on stage in Barcelona and made his first joke, the whole place just cracked up, which was a massive relief. I spoke to Ricky about this, as we had an extra pop-up on Ticketmaster, warning people that the show is fully in English – no subtitles, no dubbing, you must understand it. And you had to tick that box to then be able to buy the ticket. But it works well, so being involved in comedy is very exciting.”

That new string to the bow should see Mercury Wheels promoting between 100 and 120 shows this year. “That’s everything from 200-capacity clubs up to 55,000-cap stadiums, which isn’t bad for a core team of seven people in the office – and sometimes also Pino [Sagliocco], who shares our space whenever he comes to Madrid. He’s an amazing man – very dynamic and engaging, like a rock star – and I’ve been immensely lucky and privileged to learn from him, because he has a very global overview of the business works.”

“It’s important that we all have ways to deal with stress, so I’ve been meditating for the last seven years”

Relying on healthy and happy colleagues has never been more important
With Elie and Barnaby investing heavily in Mercury Wheels’ staff, most of the team – Maria Gaudelia, Will Anderson, José Luis, and Ricard Rois – are long-term employees, as was Irene Garcia until very recently, before she moved over to Live Nation’s ticketing dept, while newer additions include Alexandra Karpova, and new canine colleague, Stan, who joins the incumbent pup, Pukki. “When I visited Live Nation in Los Angeles, there are people who walk dogs around the building, which just helps bring people’s stress levels down. There’s actually a Dog Nation programme within the company.”

A big believer in meditation, Barnaby has been on a number of ten-day silent retreats and takes part in weekly mindfulness sessions through the Mindful Nation programme. “It’s important that we all have ways to deal with stress, so I’ve been meditating for the last seven years,” he reveals. “It teaches me to be a witness to my thoughts rather than automatically engaging with every thought that pops into my head! I’m a big advocate of taking care of people’s mental health.”

The love for Barnaby within the Mercury Wheels operation is palpable. Colleague Will Anderson tells IQ, “I had recently moved from London to Madrid [in 2015] and was trying to figure out what the future held having spent ten years in A&R in the UK. As a fellow Englishman in Madrid with a love of music, we immediately hit it off.

“Barnaby was incredibly gracious and generous with his time, explaining how the industry worked in Spain and introducing me to other Spanish music industry contacts. In 2016, after a year or so working outside the music industry, I mentioned that I was keen to get back in, and he said there might be an opening at Mercury Wheels. I joined the company in 2017 and have had the huge pleasure of working with and learning from one of the very best since then.

“Barnaby has not only built Mercury Wheels into the incredible company it is today, but he has done it with humanity, humour, love, and respect for all those he works with, be they his colleagues at Mercury Wheels and Live Nation, artists, agents, managers, tour managers, production crew, or the bar-person at the local 200-cap venue. His love of live music remains undimmed, and you only had to see him pogo-ing to Noah and the Loners at ILMC’s recent London Calling showcase to see that love manifested in all its glory!”

Anderson adds, “It would be remiss not to mention Barnaby’s wife and business partner, Elie Muñiz, without whom, as Barnaby regularly acknowledges, Mercury Wheels would not function. It has been an absolute pleasure working with and learning from them both for the last seven years, and I can’t wait to see Barnaby pogo-ing his way through another punk show in another 25 years’ time!”

“I love discovering new talent, so I’ve got a lot of time for anyone who is out there doing that”

Talking of which, The Pleasure Fuckers will be playing a one-off reunion gig at Azkena Rock Festival in Vitoria, this June, marking 25 years since Barnaby’s last show with the band.

On a professional level, another event Barnaby is looking forward to is Vida Festival in July. “I’ve booked all the international acts onto Vida since its inception back in 2014,” he says. “It’s a gorgeous boutique festival that takes place in the grounds of a country house, 40 mins south of Barcelona. There are two main stages and several smaller stages in the woods including the boat stage where we had Spanish megastar Rosalia play an unforgettable sunset slot when she was just starting out.”

Among the acts Barnaby has managed to secure for this year are headliners M.I.A, James Blake, and Vance Joy. “The philosophy of the festival is to create an amazing experience for the festivalgoer, from the food area under fairy lights in the woods, to the amazing main stages and the world renowned Wild Side Zone,” he says.

“The creative brain behind the festival is the energetic and charismatic Dani Poveda, supported by the ultra efficient Xavi Carbonell.”

With a move to Live Nation’s offices in Madrid imminent, Barnaby is also relishing the creative opportunities this will bring to the Mercury Wheels team. “We’re a very close team and that’s partly because we work in an open office, so I’m really looking forward to the symbiosis that the new arrangement will give us. I personally cannot wait to work closer with Robert Grima, Nacho Córdoba, Daniel López, Julio Ebrat, and Johanna Llorente, while I’m super-impressed with the work that César Andión is doing to develop young Spanish acts.

“I love discovering new talent, so I’ve got a lot of time for anyone who is out there doing that. Ultimately, I’m a punk at heart, so I still love doing the 200-cap shows in the sweaty clubs, and I get as much of a kick out of doing the small shows as I do the giant ones.”

 


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Spanish ticket sales revenue soars 26%

Spain’s Association of Music Promoters (APM) has revealed the domestic live music sector generated more than €578 million in 2023 – the highest figure ever recorded.

Ticket sales revenue was up 26% compared to existing record of €459m, set in the previous year, thanks to successful tours by artists from at home and abroad.

In the foreword of the newly published Live Music Yearbook 2024, APM president Albert Salmeron applauds an “exceptional moment” for the business, while stressing the importance of safeguarding the country’s emerging music scene.

“In the artistic field, we can affirm that it’s been a great year,” he says. “We have enjoyed more stadium concerts than ever in our history; we have an ecosystem of festivals that is increasingly broader and diverse, and we have emerging talent that assures us a promising future.

“We also have a fabric of small and medium rooms necessary for the development of that talent that must be protected. Every time a city closes a room, we stay without a unique and irreplaceable space.”

The best-selling tours by Spanish artists were Manuel Carrasco (promoted by Riff Producciones) with 365,652 tickets sold for 28 dates, Melendi (Riff Producciones), who sold 308,258 tickets sold for 37 concerts and Joaquín Sabina (The Project, Get In, Riff, Camerino Triangular AIE, in collaboration with Berry Producciones) with 253,809 tickets sold across 31 shows.

“There has been an enormous offering of concerts and tours by national artists throughout the territory”

The top 3 international tours, meanwhile, were Coldplay (Live Nation) with 221,140 tickets sold for their four consecutive shows in Barcelona, Harry Styles (Live Nation) with 120,534 tickets sold for two concerts, and Bruce Springsteen (Doctor Music) with 115,850 tickets sold, also for two nights.

“The long-awaited performances by countless artists for their audience and the consolidation of Spain as an essential stop for major international tours have made headlines, especially in the second half of 2023,” reads a press release.

“Additionally, the vibrant health of Spanish music has also been a protagonist. As evidence of this, there has been an enormous offering of concerts and tours by national artists throughout the territory, with the audience response matching expectations.”

In the festival sector, the top 3 comprised Arenal Sound Festival (Burriana, The Music Republic) with 300,000 attendees, Primavera Sound Barcelona (Barcelona, Primavera Sound) with 243,000, and Viña Rock (Villarrobledo, The Music Republic) with 240,000.

In terms of provinces, Barcelona (Catalonia) took top spot with revenues of €132.5m – a huge 70% uptick on 2022. Madrid (Community of Madrid) came in second with €94.6m (down 8.9%), followed by Málaga (Andalusia) in third with €24.5m, an increase of 72% on the previous year.

 


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Mad Cool reveals improvements for 2024

Mad Cool has detailed a series of improvements that will be made to the festival ahead of the 2024 edition.

The Madrid event last year “successfully” relocated to the Iberdrola Music venue in the capital’s Villaverde District.

The festival will return to the site for this year’s edition but will take place across four days instead of three to “minimise overlaps between artists”.

The 10–13 July edition will also have six stages instead of eight to minimise schedule clashes and prevent sound leaks across stages.

The festival’s capacity, meanwhile, will be reduced from 70,000 to allow for a better crowd flow around the site

The festival’s capacity, meanwhile, will be reduced from 70,000 to allow for a better crowd flow around the site. Organisers say the final capacity is yet to be determined.

Other changes include more bathroom facilities, water supply points, wristband charging points and chill-out areas.

More food options will also be added to the restaurant area, as will more bar spaces. Screens around the stages will also be larger than before, and more will be installed.

Finally, there have been improvements to accessible areas, improving the festival experience for individuals with disabilities and/or functional diversity.

The seventh edition will be headlined by Dua Lipa, Pearl Jam, Måneskin and The Killers. The Smashing Pumpkins, Janelle Monáe, Motxila 21, Sum 41, Jessie Ware, Black Pumas, Tom Morello, Bring Me The Horizon and Avril Lavigne are also set to play.

 


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Barcelona-Madrid rivalry extends to live music

The famous football rivalry between La Liga giants Barcelona and Real Madrid is spilling over into international touring following the refurbishment of the latter’s Santiago Bernabéu Stadium.

Home of the 14 times European champions, the Bernabéu (cap. 65,000 for concerts) reopened for music bookings last year following an extensive renovation. It will host the sole Spanish date of Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour on 30 May and three nights with Karol G from 20-22 July, as well as performances by Duki, Manuel Carrasco, Luis Miguel (two shows) and Aitana.

The venue has both a retractable roof and pitch – enabling it to stage live music shows all-year-round (the Aitana show is scheduled for 28 December).

Elsewhere, Civitas Metropolitan Stadium – home ground of Real’s city neighbours Atlético Madrid – has three upcoming shows by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band and two concerts by Metallica, plus dates with Estopa and Morat, bringing the number of stadium gigs in the Spanish capital in 2024 to an unprecedented 16.

FC Barcelona’s Camp Nou is currently out of action due to renovation, with work expected to be completed in 2026. However, the club’s temporary home – the city’s 56,000-cap Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys – attracted nine concerts in 2023, including the likes of Coldplay, Bruce Springsteen, Beyoncé and Madonna. It has four shows announced for 2024: Springsteen (two nights), Rammstein and Estopa.

Nouvelles du Monde notes that Barcelona’s proximity to the French border has traditionally boosted tourism, but Madrid now benefits from its peninsular centrality.

“Madrid is becoming more competitive, and even more so this year with Barça at the Estadi”

“Madrid is becoming more competitive, and even more so this year with Barça at the Estadi,” Live Nation Spain president Pino Sagliocco tells the publication, while Tito Ramoneda, president of The Project, declares “a new era begins”.

Doctor Music’s Neo Sala, however, notes that although the Madrid stadiums have “much improved their infrastructures”, that is “not decisive for international tours, in which other factors must be taken into account account: geographical, strategic and technical”.

The Bernabéu hired former Live Nation Spain partnerships director Rocio Vallejo-Nágera in 2023 as head of large events and concerts.

“We are treating it like a new stadium,” she told IQ last year. “Up until now, there have been some concerts here – Bruce Springsteen in 2016 and the Rolling Stones in 2014 – but it hasn’t really been a big thing to do at the Bernabeu. It wasn’t built for football, not music, because the production tunnels were too narrow, etc. So we’ve changed that, and that’s why I’m here.

“I think in the past 10 years, Madrid has become one of the main cities for global tours. Some years ago, maybe Barcelona was a little bit more blooming, but I think Madrid is taking its place in the international touring agenda as a main place to visit.”

 


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Ocesa Seitrack forms JV with Warner Music LA

Ocesa Seitrack has linked up with Warner Music Latin America and radio host Sergio “Checho” Rodríguez to launch booking and brand partnership agency Touring The World.

Helmed by Rodriguez, the joint venture will have offices in Colombia, Mexico, Spain and the US.

Billboard reports the company will provide support to acts in areas such as touring, brand partnerships and booking, and will also benefit from Warner Music Spain’s existing artist services company Get In.

Alex Mizrahi, CEO and founder of Ocesa Seitrack, Ocesa’s booking and artist management agency, says the new business will “expand the concept of booking and provide a solution for artists so they can have both a touring strategy together with branding and sponsorship efforts”.

“At Ocesa Seitrack we have been building the itinerant commercial structure we have today for 20 years,” says Mizrahi. “This alliance between friends and renowned professionals will bring enormous benefits to the artists and entrepreneurs we work with.”

“Touring the World is created by and for artists and their fans”

Touring The World, whose current roster includes Piso 21, Manuel Medrano, Elena Rose, Yng Lucas, Blessd, Molotov, Lagos and Ximena Sariñana, will focus on rising talent “who we think have global potential”, adds Mizrahi.

All Warner Music artists will be offered access to its services, which will be supported by the label’s expertise and infrastructure, in addition to Ocesa Seitrack’s commercial structure. The vision, however, is for the venture to be independent, with no obligation for Warner artists to sign to the company.

“We want to avoid conflicts of interest, and for that to work, it has to be an independent agency,” says Warner Music Latin America president Alejandro Duque.

Rodríguez will oversee teams in Colombia and Mexico, while working closely with Get In in Spain.

“Touring the World is created by and for artists and their fans,” he adds. “This alliance fills me with excitement, standing alongside the finest partners one could ask for.”

 


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Festivals ’24 update: Mad Cool, Sziget, Latitude

Spain’s Mad Cool, Hungary’s Sziget and the UK’s Latitude are among the latest major European festivals to unveil their lineups for 2024.

Set for Madrid from 10-13 July, the expanded four-day Mad Cool will feature acts including Dua Lipa, the Smashing Pumpkins, Janelle Monáe, Pearl Jam, Motxila 21, Sum 41, Jessie Ware, Black Pumas, Tom Morello, Bring Me The Horizon and Avril Lavigne.

Also on the bill are artists such as Garbage, Nothing But Thieves, Tom Odell, Greta Van Fleet, Keane, Rels B, Michael Kiwanuka, The Breeders, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Alvvays, The Gaslight Anthem, Arlo Parks and Ashnikko.

Also in Spain, Benicàssim has confirmed Royal Blood, Black Eyed Peas and Wade for 18-20 July, and Live Nation’s O Gozo Festival in Galicia will welcome Ed Sheeran on 6 July.

Elsewhere, Sziget‘s first wave of acts includes Stormzy, Fred Again.., Sam Smith, Martin Garrix, AMEME, Blondshell, Eris Drew & Octo Octa, Fontaines D.C., Four Tet, Honey Dijon, Joost, Joesef, L’Impératrice, MEUTE, Nia Archives, Nova Twins, Overmono, Pip Blom, Warhaus, Becky Hill, Aurora and Louis Tomlinson. The festival will be held in Budapest from 7-12 August.

“We have already received a lot of positive feedback during this year’s Sziget about how much the festival has improved in almost all areas”

“We have already received a lot of positive feedback during this year’s Sziget about how much the festival has improved in almost all areas compared to the 2022 Sziget, and from the early bird ticket sales so far we can observe that there is a huge interest in the 2024 festival,” says CEO Tamás Kádár.

“This announcement, which is only the first ‘package’ for now, shows that next year Sziget will also feature big world stars, current artists and newly discovered musical specialities, so that everyone will be offered a strong and exciting selection of music, regardless of genre.”

Hungary will also witness the return of Balaton Sound to Lake Balaton, Zamardi, from 3-6 July, with top names including James Hype, Purple Disco Machine, Paul Kalkbrenner, John Newman, Marshmello, Lost Frequencies, Timmy Trumpet, Ben Nicky, Will Sparks, Nervo, Switch Disco and Nick Moreno.

Duran Duran, Kasabian, Keane, London Grammar and comedian Sara Pascoe will headline Festival Republic’s Latitude Festival at Henham Park in Suffolk from 25-28 July. The lineup also includes Khruangbin, Nile Rodgers & Chic, Orbital, Rag’n’Bone Man and Rick Astley, among others.

“Having Duran Duran, Kasabian, London Grammar, Keane, and Sara Pascoe leading the lineup at this year’s Latitude Festival truly epitomises our vision for a diverse and dynamic programme,” says festival director Melvin Benn. “Each performer brings their unique energy and style to the bill, promising an unforgettable experience for our audience. We strive to create a space where art and music converge in the most extraordinary ways, and this year’s music headliners capture the essence of that vision.”

“We are focused on improving our off-track entertainment across all our events year on year, and 2024 feels really special”

Meanwhile, Bru-C, Becky Hill and Ben Nicky will top the bill at Plymouth’s first electronic music festival Alive At Argyle at home Park on 25 May, and Busted, Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Olly Murs have been announced as headliners for next year’s Silverstone Festival, taking place from 23-25 August.

“We are focused on improving our off-track entertainment across all our events year on year, and 2024 feels really special for Silverstone Festival, Formula 1 British Grand Prix and British Grand Prix MotoGP,” says Silverstone commercial director Nick Read. “We cannot wait as Silverstone Festival brings the love of motorsport and music together in one place.”

Last Tour’s MEO Kalorama will welcome the likes of Massive Attack, LCD Soundsystem, Sam Smith, The Kills, The Postal Service, Death Cab For Cutie, Overmono, Ezra Collective, Yard Act and Ana Lua Caiano to its third edition, which will take place in Portugal at Bela Vista Park, Lisbon, from 29-31 August.

In addition, FKP Scorpio Sweden’s Rosendal Garden Party will host the likes of Massive Attack, Raye, Grace Jones, The Cardigans and Turnstile in Stockholm from 14-16 June. FKP has also added more than 25 new names to its twin Hurricane and Southside festivals in Germany, including Deichkind, Ayliva, Idles, Feine Sahne Fischfilet, Tom Odell, Bombay Bicycle Club, Silverstein, Danko Jones, The Subways, Noga Erez, Fatoni, Paula Carolina, Me First & The Gimme Gimmes, The Last Dinner Party, Buntspecht, Ritter Lean, Becky Hill, Fast Boy and The Reytons.

And Lana Del Rey is the latest headliner announced for France’s Rock en Seine. The American superstar will open the AEG-operated Paris festival at Domaine national de Saint-Cloud on 21 August.

 


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DEAG enters Spanish pop/rock market

DEAG has continued its international expansion by entering the Spanish rock/pop market with the launch of subsidiary Get Rock Live (GRL).

The German-headquartered giant, which has previously run Christmas Garden events in Barcelona, Madrid, Málaga and Valencia, is setting up the new firm in Barcelona in collaboration with experienced promoter Pierre Sabbag.

Sabbag has organised shows by the likes of Alice Cooper, Kiss, Ozzy Osbourne, Scorpions, Aerosmith and Iron Maiden, as well as working with Spanish acts such as Extremoduro and Marea.

Inma Sepulveda, who has been active in the production and execution of major events for over 20 years, will also join the team.

“DEAG continues to expand successfully in Europe and UK,” says DEAG executive board member Detlef Kornett. “Spain is a highly exciting market that offers us great growth potential. We will gradually expand our portfolio of events in the coming months and years by offering visitors hundreds of concerts and shows, first-class other entertainment and generate all along additional business for the DEAG Group.”

“We want to position concerts events and festivals even bigger and more internationally over time”

The first GRL events are scheduled for 2024 and 2025, with around 100 events planned for that period. The company says the expansion of its business activities in Spain will result in synergy effects, including the development of new formats and locations.

“DEAG is excellently positioned internationally,” adds Sabbag. “We want to position concerts events and festivals even bigger and more internationally over time. I am very much looking forward to our very close collaboration.”

Founded in Berlin in 1978, DEAG’s other core markets are Germany, Great Britain, Switzerland, Ireland and Denmark. The company, which went private in 2021, recently revealed it was examining all equity financing options, including a possible stock market listing, to further accelerate its growth.

 


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ALMA launches second site for 2024 edition

The ALMA festival concert series will take place in two major Spanish cities for the first time in 2024.

Between 2013 and 2022, the outdoor concert series took place in the Jardins Pedralbes of Barcelona under the name Festival Jardins Pedralbes, before it moved location to Poble Espanyol in 2013 and was renamed.

Next year’s event adds Parque Enrique Tierno Galván in Madrid as a second city from 30 May to 17 June, with artists including Deep Purple, Jamie Cullum, Valeria Castro and Vetusta Morla confirmed.

“ALMA has become one of the great musical events in the Catalan capital”

The Barcelona line up, scheduled from 25 June to 17 July, has announced performances from Queens of the Stone Age, Take That, Jamie Cullum, James Blunt, Hozier and Glen Hansard.

Organisers say: “The festival brings together renowned national and international artists to offer a unique musical experience in a spectacular setting. With a careful and eclectic programme, ALMA has become one of the great musical events in the Catalan capital.”

The festival series is promoted by Barcelona-based Concert Studio, which also books artists including Ruth Lorenzo, Bad Boy, Ana Belen, Paco Ibáñez and Carla Bruni.

 


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