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Wee will rock you: Scotland market report

Let’s talk about Scottish independence. We’re referring, obviously, to Gerry Cinnamon, the staunchly indie, Glaswegian guitar-basher who has packed a career’s worth of touring milestones into the past two or three years.

There was the pair of sold-out shows at Glasgow’s Barrowland Ballroom in 2017 – the first unsigned artist to manage such a feat. Then Cinnamon really went up in the world, with two Christmas 2019 gigs at Glasgow’s SSE Hydro and one at Aberdeen’s 15,000-capacity P&J Arena – the biggest indoor show ever in Scotland. And, surely capping it all off, next summer’s show at Hampden Park: 50,000 tickets… all long gone.

“He grew up literally a stone’s throw away from Hampden, in Castlemilk,” says Geoff Ellis, CEO of DF Concerts. “We sold it out in a day.”

The fact that Cinnamon has also quickly converted local-hero status into arena-filling UK and Ireland success underscores Scotland’s status as a rigorous proving ground for its own artists, of whom he and Lewis Capaldi, are just the latest to break in a big way.

“If you go down well here, you are not going to be too shabby when you go out in the rest of the world,” theorises Hold Fast Entertainment’s Donald MacLeod, who operates Glasgow venues the Cathouse and the Garage.

Scotland in 2020 isn’t necessarily an easy place to get ahead, but it is bursting with local talent, busy promoters and full venues. The nation’s live industry added £431 million to the broader economy last year and sustained 4,300 full-time jobs, as well as drawing 1.1m music tourists – a jump of 38% from 2017 [source: UK Music].

Scotland in 2020 isn’t necessarily an easy place to get ahead, but it is bursting with local talent, busy promoters and full venues

There are all sorts of storylines in the wider drama of Scotland’s live music business. Edinburgh is on the up, with the tantalising prospect of an arena on the horizon at last. Glasgow, traditionally a supercharged music city with a perpetual tendency to steal the thunder of the more genteel capital, a 45-minute journey away, still does the business, but it isn’t having its best moment after losing the pivotal O2 ABC to a devastating fire last year.

Meanwhile, the festival scene evolves – out with T in the Park, in with TRNSMT and others. The Highlands, islands and notable towns and cities work hard to make the case that there is life outside the Central Belt. And Scotland’s thriving trad scene makes the case that there is more to life than pop.

But still the talent keeps coming. “We are not short of talent and bands coming up. We punch well above our weight,” says MacLeod.

Biffy Clyro, Franz Ferdinand, Calvin Harris, Young Fathers, Chvrches, Paolo Nutini, Amy Macdonald and Tom Walker have all attested to that in recent years, and Scottish venue calendars are reliably stuffed with local favourites: Capaldi, Simple Minds, Texas and Deacon Blue at the SSE Hydro this year; Jesus & Mary Chain and The Twilight Sad at Barrowlands; Edwyn Collins and Susan Boyle at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall.

And new artists, too: “Walt Disco, Slow Readers Club, Tamzene, The Snuts, The Dunts – are all selling out venues above 1,000-cap,” says Ellis. “We have got a really good, healthy scene at club level and that gets people engaged a bit more in terms of live music.”

“We have got a really good, healthy scene at club level and that gets people engaged a bit more in terms of live music”

Promoters
You might imagine Scottish promoters were a tough, rivalrous bunch, but a photo tweeted by Donald MacLeod in December was a picture of harmony: the key figures from DF Concerts, Regular Music, PCL Presents and Triple G, smiling on the fairway at Loch Lomond Golf Club at an away-day put on by SSE Hydro.

“Aye, that was a good laugh,” says MacLeod, who in addition to his Glasgow clubs is a director of promoter Triple G, chair of Nordoff-Robbins Scotland and a columnist for The Sunday Post. “It’s a lot of promoters for the size of the market. But we all get on well. We are not bitter rivals, we are frenemies. We will all, at times, work with each other.”

Glasgow-based DF, part of LN-Gaiety Investments since 2008, is Scotland’s largest promoter, proprietor of the three-year-old TRNSMT at Glasgow Green, and the Summer Sessions series in Edinburgh and Glasgow each August, as well as shows from club- to stadium-level, and the celebrated King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut on St Vincent Street in Glasgow.

“2019 was a great year for us as a business,” says Ellis. “I think it was great for the market generally in Scotland. But it’s not easy – you have to get the pricing right, and you have to really work it. Scotland is only five million people. If you are doing a show at the Hydro, you are selling to all of Scotland.”

There are numerous independents, including PCL, Triple G, Synergy, 432 Presents, EDM specialists Fly Events and Electronic Edinburgh, and Highlands and islands specialist Beyond Presents.

“Scotland is only five million people. If you are doing a show at the Hydro, you are selling to all of Scotland”

But the largest is Edinburgh’s Regular Music, which continues to do large-scale business. Its properties including the annual concerts at Edinburgh Castle’s Esplanade and Summer Nights at Kelvingrove Bandstand in Glasgow. Eleven of the latter’s twelve 8,500-cap nights sold out in 2019, with stars including Teenage Fanclub and Hue & Cry, plus Suede, Patti Smith, Burt Bacharach and The National.

“We only promote in Scotland, and that’s our identity,” says Regular’s John Stout. “We are always conscious that Live Nation and AEG can offer Europe-wide and kind of exclude us. But we have got good relationships with a lot of bands that come back to us year after year. Stereophonics come back to us every time; we are working with Bon Iver and Lana Del Rey, so it’s not all going to the big guys.”

Another Regular regular are local boys The Proclaimers, who are in a career purple patch. “In Scotland alone, between September 2018 and September 2019, we did just over 70,000 tickets,” says Stout. “That includes two sold-out Edinburgh Castle shows, a sold-out Hydro, and a theatre tour. They will tour any town that has a 500-capacity venue. They have built that audience through hard work and quality.”

Beyond Events, which operates from Ullapool on the north-west coast, 45 miles from Inverness, has operated for 20 years across the great open spaces outside the two largest cities, from festivals down to tiny rooms, and latterly sometimes in Glasgow and Edinburgh, too.


Continue reading this feature in the digital edition of IQ 88, or subscribe to the magazine here

Lana Del Rey cancels upcoming European tour

Lana Del Rey has called off upcoming arena dates in the UK, France, the Netherlands, Germany and Italy, in the latest in a series of high-profile acts to see tours hampered by illness.

The Primary Talent-repped singer was set to perform a run of dates starting tomorrow (21 February) at Amsterdam’s Ziggo Dome, and visiting the Accorhotels Arena in Paris, London’s O2 Arena, Manchester Arena, the SSE Hydro in Glasgow, Birmingham Resorts World Arena, Berlin’s Mercedes-Benz Arena, before finishing at the Lanxess Arena in Cologne on 3 March. A ninth arena date is set for Italy’s Arena Di Verona in June, which is still going ahead.

The star is also due to make appearances at We Love Green Festival in Paris, Primavera Sound Barcelona and its Portuguese sister event, Nos Primavera Sound Porto in June. Last week, Glastonbury Festival director Emily Eavis announced that Lana Del Rey would also perform on the festival’s Pyramid stage this summer.

“It’s with regret that Lana Del Rey has announced that she has been forced to cancel her entire upcoming EU/UK tour due to illness”

The O2 Arena broke the news earlier this morning (20 February), stating: “It’s with regret that Lana Del Rey has announced that she has been forced to cancel her entire upcoming EU/UK tour due to illness.”

The singer released her own statement, apologising for the cancellation, saying, “Sorry to let everyone down so last minute but this illness has taken me by surprise and have totally lost my singing voice. Dr has advised 4 weeks off for the moment. I hate to let everyone down but I need to get well.”

Fans are advised to contact their original point of purchase for refund enquiries.

Photo: Beatriz Alvani/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.0) (cropped)

 


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Ticketmaster launches accessible tickets online

Ticketmaster has launched online tickets sales for disabled fans in the UK, allowing customers to buy accessible tickets online for the first time.

Ticketmaster’s online booking validation process allows fans with accessibility requirements to purchase the correct tickets easily. Customers who make an online accessible order are asked to submit their requirements, such as a seat for a personal assistant, a wheelchair-accessible space or access to the best location to view sign language interpretation, via their Ticketmaster account. All information will be saved for future purchases.

The system will be rolled out for upcoming events as Glasgow’s Scottish Event Campus (SEC) venues, which include the 13,000-capacity SSE Hydro, Glasgow and Motorpoint Arena Cardiff.

“At Ticketmaster we believe equal access to live entertainment is paramount,” comments Ticketmaster UK managing director Andrew Parsons.

“We knew we had to do more for disabled fans and our team has worked hard on this ground-breaking technology that endeavours to make ticket buying simple for all. Every fan should have the same access to the events they love, it’s an ongoing process and one we continue to prioritise.”

“This is real progress for millions of disabled fans who are entitled to a variety of ways in which they can book their tickets”

A recent survey compiled by music accessibility charity Attitude is Everything (AIE) found that 83% of disabled gig-goers have been deterred from buying tickets due to inaccessible booking systems. Many reported paying extra to be able to buy a ticket online, or having no option to purchase online at all.

Suzanne Bull MBE, CEO of the charity, says she is “delighted” that accessible tickets are now available online.

“This is real progress for millions of disabled fans who are entitled to a variety of ways in which they can book their tickets,” says Bull. “In designing their new service, Ticketmaster has worked closely with us and our Ticketing Without Barriers Coalition to achieve the five steps to inclusive ticketing that we set out in our February 2018 State of Access report. We wish them every success.”

The new system will roll out across more events, venues and countries in the near future.

Motorpoint Arena Cardiff and Ticketmaster UK were among nominees for AIE’s Outstanding Attitude Awards this year.

 


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Six countries, one genre: C2C makes 2020 return

AEG’s Country to Country (C2C) festival is returning in 2020 for the eighth edition of its flagship London event, alongside repeat editions in Ireland, Scotland, Germany, the Netherlands and Australia.

Luke Combs, Darius Rucker and Eric Church will headline C2C’s European festivals, alongside acts including the Cadillac Three, Tanya Tucker, Charles Esten, Brett Young and Old Dominion.

International touring series Introducing Nashville will be present at C2C for the first time this year, with acoustic performances from Abby Anderson, Eric Paslay and Tenille Townes.

C2C 2020 will take place from 13 to 15 March in London’s 20,000-capacity O2 Arena, which yesterday (22 October) celebrated reaching 25 million ticket sales. Simultaneous events will take place at Ireland’s 3Arena Dublin (13,000-cap.), promoted by MCD Productions, and the SSE Hydro (13,000-cap.) in Glasgow, Scotland, promoted by DF Concerts.

The country music festival is also returning to Afas Live Amsterdam (6,000-cap.) and AEG’s Verti Music Hall (4,350-cap.) in Berlin, following successful first outings last year. Greenhouse Talent will co-promote C2C Amsterdam, which takes place from 7 to 8 March, with Semmel Concerts taking charge of the Berlin edition on 6 to 8 March.

“C2C Festival 2020 continues to build on the massive success of Country to Country in the UK and across Europe”

“I am so proud to be part of the C2C family,” said Bob Harris OBE, the main stage host of the London event, at C2C’s line-up launch party at Country Music Week, which began on Monday.

“I can’t wait to listen to the best music in the world, enjoy the fantastic atmosphere of the main auditorium, catch the excitement of the pop-up stages and meet the incredible Country fans that make C2C so special.”

Chris York, C2C Festival promoter for SJM Concerts comments: “C2C Festival 2020 continues to build on the massive success of Country to Country in the UK and across Europe. We look forward to seeing all you passionate country fans in March once again.”

Tickets for all C2C’s European events go on sale on Friday 1 November at 10 a.m. (GMT).

More information about C2C Australia, which also returns for its second year in 2020, will be available at a later date. The Australian version of the event, promoted by AEG Presents and TEG Live, takes place in Sydney and Brisbane with a different line-up to other C2C events.

Read more about country music’s rise to global fame here.

Big country: How country music conquered the world


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ASM Global to operate new £260m venue complex

ASM Global will be the venue management provider for a new £260 million arena, conference and exhibition centre on Gateshead Quays in Newcastle, as the operator further expands its UK footprint.

ASM Global, the result of a merger between SMG Facilities and AEG Facilities today  (11 October) cleared by the UK’s Competitions and Markets Authority, has signed a long-term agreement with developer Ask Real Estate and investor Patrizia to operate the 12,500-capacity venue.

It is estimated that the ten-acre Gateshead complex, due to open by 2023, will generate £30m for the economy and attract up to 300,000 new visitors to the region each year. Global architecture firm Hok has been appointed to design to new arena.

“We are thrilled to have selected ASM Global as our operator,” comments Ask Real Estate MD John Hughes.

“ASM Global have a global reputation for excellence and their experience will be key in helping us to develop what will be one of Europe’s key cultural locations”

“They have a global reputation for excellence and their experience will be key in helping us to develop what will be one of Europe’s key cultural locations. We have been working closely with them to ensure the arena will be able to accommodate the rapid advances in sound and production technology.”

ASM Global’s executive vice president for Europe, John Sharkey, says the operator is “delighted to bring to market such an ambitious development”.

“We look forward to building upon the success of the Utilita Arena (11,400-cap.) and Whitley Bay Playhouse (630-cap.), and leveraging our regional strength to further develop the events landscape and grow the north east economy,” says Sharkey.

In addition to its venues in the north east of England, ASM Global’s UK portfolio includes the O2 Arena (20,000-cap.), the SSE Arena, Wembley (12,500-cap.), Manchester Arena (21,000-cap.), the First Direct Arena in Leeds (13,700-cap.), Glasgow’s SSE Hydro Arena (13,000-cap.) and the York Barbican (1,900-cap.).

 


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The 1975 to plant a tree for every ticket sold

The 1975 have pledged to plant a tree for every ticket sold ahead of their upcoming UK and Ireland arena tour, as the band continue their eco-friendly drive.

Manager Jamie Oborne announced the news on Twitter: “Really pleased to say we will be planting a tree for every ticket sold!”

The pledge elicited a positive reaction from fans, with some users calling the 1975 “the best band in the world”.

The band, who this year headlined festivals including Reading and Leeds and Sziget, are embarking on a twelve-date tour in February and March 2020, playing arenas including London’s the O2 (20,000-cap.), Manchester Arena (21,000-cap.) and the SSE Hydro in Glasgow (13,000-cap.).

“Really pleased to say we will be planting a tree for every ticket sold!”

The tree-planting initiative follows the launch of the 1975’s sustainable merchandise range. “We are not making new shirts for now. Unsustainable,” the band’s frontman Matt Healy announced on Instagram. “This run is all old shirts that we had kept and reprinted.”

Fans were encouraged to bring old the 1975 shirts or those of any other bands to Reading and Leeds festivals to be reprinted with the new design.

The band also recorded a song with teenage environmental activist Greta Thunberg for their most recent album Notes on a Conditional Form, with all profits going to civil disobedience movement Extinction Rebellion.

Tickets for the 1975’s arena tour go on sale on Friday 20 September at 9 a.m. (BST), with presale tickets available from Wednesday 18 September. A full list of tour dates and information on how to buy tickets can be found here.

 


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