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The Halls Wolverhampton reveals opening lineup

AEG Presents has confirmed concerts by McFly, Sugababes and The Vamps as part of its opening lineup for The Halls Wolverhampton.

The 3,404-capacity The Civic at The Halls Wolverhampton and 1,289-cap The Wulfrun officially reopen in June following a major multi-million-pound refurbishment programme by City of Wolverhampton Council in partnership with AEG.

Gigs by Leftfield and Chris Isaak are also part of the launch month following the opening night with American magicians Penn & Teller on 1 June, with more names soon to be added.

“We have a fantastic line up set for June, befitting of the opening of the iconic The Halls Wolverhampton and the renowned artists we’re thrilled to welcome to this great city,” says AEG Presents UK CEO and Wolverhampton native Steve Homer. “I can’t wait to officially open the
doors and be part of the crowd enjoying these performances. From rock to pop and comedy, there really is something for everyone.”

“This fantastic opening month of shows in June will ensure the new-look venue bursts back into life in style after our multi-million-pound transformation works”

The Halls have been closed since December 2015. Visitors will enjoy more comfortable seats, a greater number of bars and enhanced space to socialise, expanded and revamped toilet facilities, lift access for those viewing from the new balcony level, better access arrangements for disabled visitors, a greater number of accessible viewing points and improved room temperatures through the installation of a new air handling system.

“These are exciting times for this much-loved venue in our city – and is what all the blood, sweat and tears have been for,” adds council leader Ian Brookfield. “AEG Presents’ passion for The Halls and ambition for the future matches our own and this fantastic opening month of shows in June will ensure the new-look venue bursts back into life in style after our multi-million-pound transformation works.

“We’re thrilled to be working with AEG Presents on this, who understand the venue’s rich heritage and share our vision of reimagining an iconic institution that will continue to bring joy to the lives of locals for years to come, helping shape our city centre, creating jobs and boosting businesses by attracting 300,000 visitors a year and adding more than £10 million annually to the local economy.”

AEG, which agreed a 25-year deal with the council to run the venues back in 2019, will also operate the 4,400-cap live music space within London’s £1.3 billion Olympia scheme, which is on track to open in 2024. The firm’s mid-size portfolio also includes the 5,000-cap Eventim Apollo and 2,800-cap Indigo at The O2, both in London.

 


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AEG Europe adds five new leaders to UK business

AEG Europe has announced a handful of new appointments within AEG Presents UK as part of its growth and development plans across the venues and touring business.

The company has promoted Jacqui Harris to the role of VP and general manager, responsible for all operational functions for the events, touring, marketing and ticketing teams.

In addition, Lucky Thompson is named senior director, events and operations, assuming overall leadership responsibility for the company’s cornerstone events division, which includes Summer Series, C2C, Eden Sessions and Just for Laughs, among others.

Elsewhere, Connie Shao becomes VP and general manager for international touring, tasked with managing the international touring division and operations of its tours and events.

“It’s an exciting time for our business as we break new ground and in turn, build out a people structure that powers the successful delivery of our growth plans”

Plus, Leonie Wakeman is appointed director of commercial operations, with a focus on identifying, developing and implementing new revenue opportunities, while Stuart Dorn is installed as group venue operations director, responsible for AEG Presents venues, such as Indigo at The O2, The Halls Wolverhampton, Eventim Apollo and Olympia London.

“It’s an exciting time for our business as we break new ground and in turn, build out a people structure that powers the successful delivery of our growth plans,” says AEG Presents UK CEO Steve Homer. “From our recently announced appointment of Lucy Noble as our inaugural artistic director, or our expanded footprint into the world of comedy, to our continued investment in venues like The Halls Wolverhampton or Olympia London… We’re heading into 2023 with strong momentum and I look forward to what’s to come.”

The company says the expansion will bring further opportunities across AEG Europe, with a number of open roles due to open in 2023.

PHOTO L-R: Jacqui Harris, Lucky Thompson, Connie Shao, Leonie Wakeman, Stuart Dorn

 


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Spotlighting AEG UK’s new wave of promoters

AEG Presents UK promoters Eliza-Jane Oliver and Kara Harris have given IQ the lowdown on the company’s new generation.

Oliver has risen through the AEG ranks from executive assistant and now works with acts such as McFly, Allie X, Jinkx Monsoon and Ben DeLa Crème, Keith Urban, Rammstein, Michael Bublé, Bryan Adams, High Vis and Tremonti.

Harris, meanwhile, joined the firm in 2021 on the back of stints with Dice, Village Underground and EartH Hackney, and promotes the likes of Omar Apollo, Kenyon Dixon, Aly & AJ, JAEL, Beharie, NeOne the Wonderer, Deto Black and Vivendii Sound.

AEG has enjoyed a string of hit tours in 2022 with artists including Rammstein, Diana Ross and the Pet Shop Boys, but there have also been misses along the way.

“The difficulty is that there is no trend,” Oliver tells IQ. “People are very sensitive to ticket prices at the moment so you have to be sensible with that, but it is a bit random. It always has been with promoting to an extent because some things connect and some things don’t, especially when you’re working with newer artists, but it’s up and down.”

“The most challenging part of this year has been adapting to people’s post-Covid habits”

“The most challenging part of this year has been adapting to people’s post-Covid habits,” reflects Harris. “Certain shows that we would assume were going to be huge sellouts have taken a bit longer to get there and there isn’t just one reason for it. Whether it’s the cost of living or people just taking a little while to get back into the swing of things, there are so many factors at play.

“I’ve constantly been having conversations about scaling down shows that maybe would have done a certain capacity before Covid, and trying to be a little bit safer in the current climate.”

Despite the baptism of fire that greeted the duo in the post-pandemic promoting world, both have been quick to make their mark.

“My biggest highlight of this year was seeing Omar Apollo play at Koko,” suggests Harris. “I loved Koko before it closed and to see it renovated has been beautiful. My favourite part of being a promoter is knowing that, when you see a bunch of people in a room enjoying themselves, you had a part to play in it.”

“I started working with Jinkx Monsoon and BenDeLaCreme, who are two world famous drag queens, and we’ve just sold out London [Palladium], which is so exciting – people just love them,” adds Oliver. “I’ve been working with [Steve Homer, AEG UK CEO] on Rammstein for years. We had shows at Cardiff Principality Stadium and Coventry Building Society Arena – they were meant to be 2020 and then 2021 – and they finally happened this year.

“After three years of, ‘Will it happen, won’t it happen?,’ to get 40,000 people in a room together was just incredible and it was the best production for a live show I’ve ever seen.”

“Hopefully we will see a resurgence in UK R&B and I can be a part of that”

Harris, who is also a presenter for British online radio station No Signal, has a particular passion for R&B and singles out FLO and Reggie Becton as ones to watch from her roster.

“I’m definitely an R&B lover,” she says. “I also have a radio show, which is specifically on R&B because it comes from a love of driving around with my dad and listening to Bobby Valentino and Aaliyah, so I’m excited to grow that number of R&B shows that AEG does and hopefully see a resurgence in UK R&B. And hopefully I can be a part of that.”

AEG UK CEO Steve Homer has overseen a revamp since taking sole charge of the company’s UK office at the start of the year following the departure of former co-CEO Toby Leighton-Pope, who has since resurfaced as MD of the newly formed TEG Europe. Both Harris and Oliver speak warmly of the working environment.

“The biggest thing that I’ve learned in this past year is the need to constantly adapt, learn and grow,” says Harris. “One thing I can say about working at AEG is that I feel genuinely supported. I constantly have more than one person there to lift me up or learn from.

“I look back at myself in September last year and I was in this new environment and just trying to get a grasp of everything. To see how I’ve grown since then is very fulfilling. It feels invigorating and fresh and it’s nice to be part of this new regime together. We’re constantly learning off of each other and it’s a nice environment to be in.”

“We’ve got 11 promoters at AEG and six of them are female, and that makes me really excited for the future”

“To be honest, I wasn’t sure if the transition from assistant to promoter was something I would ever do, but Steve made it so easy,” adds Oliver. “I just said, ‘I think I’d like to promote’ and he said, ‘I can’t believe you didn’t ask me this already,’ and that was kind of that. He’s always there to bounce ideas off and to answer questions.”

In closing, Oliver is buoyed by the makeup of the team and is optimistic about its prospects from here.

“We’ve got 11 promoters at AEG and six of them are female, and that makes me really excited for the future,” she says. “AEG is a company that is built on partnerships and we love working with other great promoters. Our international department has amazing promoter partners, all over the world, so I’m looking to build relationships and find my niche. It’s exciting for me to be able to make the transition after being an assistant, but I’ve got a lot of work to do so I want to establish myself and put on some great shows.”

 


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Lucy Noble hired as AEG’s first artistic director

Former National Arenas Association (NAA) chair Lucy Noble is departing the Royal Albert Hall to become AEG Presents’ first ever artistic director.

Noble joins AEG’s European senior leadership team, assuming responsibility for setting the artistic direction across the company’s live touring and events business.

Tasked with overseeing content creation as well as the production of new events, Noble also assumes responsibility for promoting and touring shows, with an initial focus on the UK, followed by an eventual expansion into Europe and other territories.

Noble has served at the RAH for two decades and held a hybrid commercial/artistic role at the London venue prior to being appointed as its first artistic director last year.

“Professionally, this is a huge win for AEG and only strengthens our world-class reputation; I can’t wait to see the creativity and direction she’ll bring to our AEG Presents business as we move forward on this exciting next phase in our journey,” says AEG UK CEO Steve Homer. “On a personal level, I’m extremely chuffed – I’ve worked with Lucy for many years and it’s always been a wish of mine to bring her over to our side of the fence. We’re thrilled this is now a reality.”

Noble, who will assume her new position at AEG in the coming months, is an executive member of UK trade body LIVE, as well as chair of the Live Group’s venues sub-committee, and most recently served as chair of the NAA. Earlier this year she received the NAA Award for Outstanding Contribution to the NAA and the live music industry.

“It was always going to take something pretty spectacular to draw me away from ‘The Hall’”

“I’ve worked closely with the AEG team for many years and have long since admired their work – to join a leader of this calibre, working across live music and events, is something I can’t wait to be part of,” she says. “After a two decade tenure, I count many of my colleagues as dear friends and as such, it was always going to take something pretty spectacular to draw me away from ‘The Hall.’ While it will always hold a special place in my heart, I’m excited about what’s to come.”

Under Noble’s direction, the RAH gained a reputation as a promoter in its own right, producing original concerts as well as attracting a wide range of high profile shows, promoters and artists, while her leadership of the Hall’s engagement programme has seen it increase its reach to nearly 200,000 individuals every year.

“We all wish Lucy the very best in her new role and are sure that she will continue to shine,” says Royal Albert Hall CEO Craig Hassall. “The Hall’s immensely experienced and dedicated staff will continue to present an extraordinary programme of events which have been booked by Lucy’s team, including a heart-warming Christmas season – featuring carols, traditional concerts, jazz, drag, soul, classic ballet and so much more – and Cirque du Soleil’s Kurios, which brings in the new year.”

Hassall announced in August that he is stepping down at the start of the 2023 season to take up the position of president and chief executive of Playhouse Square in Cleveland, Ohio. Dan Freeman, who joined the Hall in June from his previous role as chief financial officer at LW Theatres Group, will lead the organisation as interim CEO until Hassall’s replacement comes on board.

“I am delighted that Dan has agreed to step up to lead the organisation until the new CEO starts in 2023,” adds Hassall. “Dan has already demonstrated great leadership and everyone at the Hall is focussed on ensuring continuity for artists and audiences alike.”

 


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UK promoters discuss impact of currency fluctuation

A number of UK promoters have spoken to IQ about the impact of currency fluctuation on international touring, as the pound sterling continues on a tumultuous trajectory.

The currency slumped to a two-week low against the dollar of $1.0954 on Tuesday morning (11 October), before rebounding less than 24 hours later. However, Goldman Sachs told Pound Sterling Live it expects the pound to continue to weaken due to “flawed fundamentals”.

Richard Buck, head of European touring and Middle East partnerships at TEG Europe, tells IQ that the declining rate is having “a significant impact on international touring”.

“Offers made in USD, if the currency is not pre-booked, may need to be adjusted or even pushed back,” he says. “Also for artists who are paid in pound sterling, it becomes less attractive to visit the market as their potential return can diminish by around 20% versus the original forecast.

“Anyone that is incurring costs in dollars and getting paid in sterling, in particular, is going to struggle”

“Any multi-territory deal that has been made in USD is now harder to sell into territories as the return is harder to achieve. However, those already sold into markets such as the Middle East where the primary artist currency is USD may benefit from the improved conversion.”

The pound fell to an all-time low of $1.03 last month in the wake of the government’s mini-budget, prompting AEG Presents UK chief Steve Homer to list the exchange rate as one of the promoter’s biggest concerns, while US artists including Animal Collective cancelled tours, in part, due to currency devaluation.

But as Kilimanjaro Live CEO Stuart Galbraith points out, dwindling currency is not an issue unique to the UK.

“The dollar is strong against most currencies in the world at the moment so it’s probably an issue in Europe generally,” he notes. “But anyone that is incurring costs in dollars and getting paid in sterling, in particular, is going to struggle.”

Galbraith says that even though a large proportion of Kilimanjaro’s business is domestic, the promoter is still seeing the effects of the pound-to-dollar slump.

“Acts from America are telling us that they cannot afford to tour in Europe. We’ve certainly lost a couple of isolated shows in the last three or four months and we had a couple of tours that we were about to go on sale with but we’ve now been told the artist isn’t coming to the continent.

“Some acts will have put together budgets earlier on in the year when they were expecting they’d get a $1.30/40 for every pound. If they’re now redoing those budgets on an almost parity basis then you can absolutely understand why they’re not able to balance the books and go through with the tour.”

“It comes down to whether a US artist is able to use crew and suppliers that are UK and Europe based”

Galbraith says there are two possible short-term solutions for American artists. The first is to incur as many costs as possible in local currency and minimise the exposure to dollar expenditure, and the second is to reduce the scale of the show and do it on a more cost-effective basis, he says.

“It comes down to whether a US artist is able to use crew and suppliers that are UK and Europe based, instead of bringing staff and equipment from the US – which is all going to be paid for in dollars – and incurring transatlantic flights which are now extremely expensive in comparison to pre-covid times,” he says.

While Galbraith believes cost-cutting measures could be the solution to bringing US artists to the UK, Homer is concerned it’ll come down to UK promoters to offer bigger fees.

“We were almost on parity, which has not been something we’ve been familiar with for a long, long time. And it’s really biting in terms of artists touring over here – it becomes far more expensive for them to do it and it’ll be interesting to see how that impacts going forward. It’s creating a few anxious thoughts as to whether we can afford to offer American artists what they need to come over, so it might mean we’re missing a few that we would normally see.”

 


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AEG UK boss highlights mid-size venue ‘sweet spot’

AEG Presents UK chief Steve Homer has spoken to IQ about opportunities offered by the mid-size venue market after the company confirmed the long-awaited reopening date of The Halls Wolverhampton.

The first shows at the 3,404-cap The Civic at The Halls Wolverhampton and 1,289-cap The Wulfrun at The Halls Wolverhampton will take place in June 2023.

The historic Halls hosted artists such as David Bowie, The Clash prior to closing in 2015 for its multi-million pound refurbishment.

“We’re in a position where the diary is officially opening next week for promoters and agents,” says Homer. “We’re planning on doing a series of launch shows within the first 10 days to two weeks of it opening just to get people reacquainted with the venue.”

The council are due to hand over the keys to AEG on 21 November, with test events set to be held next spring ahead of the official reopening.

“It costs £1 billion to build an arena from scratch now, so it’s a safer business model because it’s not relying on enormous investment to get off the ground”

AEG, which agreed a 25-year deal with the City of Wolverhampton Council to run the venues back in 2019, will also operate the 4,400-cap live music space within London’s £1.3 billion Olympia scheme, which is on track to open in 2024. The firm’s mid-size portfolio also includes the 5,000-cap Eventim Apollo and 2,800-cap Indigo at The O2, both in London.

“Like buses, they come in batches,” jokes Wolverhampton native Homer, who notes similar AEG developments in Denver and Nashville.

ILMC’s New Builds: The venue boom panel previously explored the potential for a boom in the mid-sized sector, and Homer spells out the financial benefits.

“That 3,500 to 4,500 capacity seems to be the sweet spot and it’s definitely something that we’re seeing across the globe,” he says. “It costs £1 billion to build an arena from scratch now, so it’s a safer business model because it’s not relying on enormous investment to get off the ground.”

Homer has overseen a revamp of AEG’s UK operations since taking sole charge of the company’s UK office at the start of the year following the departure of former co-CEO Toby Leighton-Pope, who has since resurfaced as MD of the newly formed TEG Europe.

“I embellished our venues division and split the touring division into three specific sections”

“It was like losing my right arm, and so there was a bit of adjustment that came with that,” reflects Homer. “But once I got over the initial shock of it, I knuckled down and decided it was something I wanted to do. I decided that if it was just going to be me, I needed to structure it in a slightly different way because when Toby was there there were various lines of responsibility that fed down from both of us. So I did some restructuring within the teams.

“I embellished our venues division and split the touring division into three specific sections – one of them was pure touring, everything from clubs to stadia, and then working with the junior promoters and assigning them tours to work on that they wouldn’t necessarily be familiar with, with support from the greater team. So it was a good opportunity for those promoters to work with bigger artists or venues than they’d probably have been familiar with up to that point in their career.”

He continues: “And then I created a new events division for a number of our standalone projects that don’t really fit into touring – our 50/50 ownership of the Eden Sessions, Country to Country and Just for Laughs, the comedy festival we’re partnering on. We put our summer series of shows into that as well – the likes of Michael Buble, Tears for Fears, Bryan Adams and Ball & Boe, so that’s certainly helped me focus the business.”

Revisit part one of our interview with Homer here.


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Steve Homer on ’23: ‘The watchword is caution’

AEG Presents UK chief Steve Homer is preaching caution for the live business in 2023 following a year of ups and downs.

AEG has enjoyed successful tours in 2022 with the likes of Rammstein, Diana Ross and the Pet Shop Boys, along with a solid festival season with BST Hyde Park (“A phenomenal year”) and All Points East in London (“Good, but not as strong as ’21), plus the rejuvenated Rock en Seine in Paris (“It’s back as a major player”).

But with the industry’s post-Covid recovery facing challenges on multiple fronts, Homer tells IQ the overall picture for the sector is more mixed.

“There have been some good results across the business, and some horror shows as well”

“There have been some good results across the business, and some horror shows as well,” says Homer. “Everyone was thinking there was going to be this bumper return in ’22, and the volume of shows was there, but the audiences were still not back in great numbers. Newer shows were selling, but shows that had been moved a couple of occasions were floundering a bit and all promoters suffered from that.

“And then, obviously, we had production cost increases of 25 to 30% and just general [lack of] availability of buses, trucks and people to do the job. A lot of people left our industry during the pandemic; you had a real skillset deficit.”

Homer suggests the situation is similar in the company’s core overseas markets, albeit some countries have been slower than others to return to normal since the pandemic.

“It’s a global phenomenon where we’re experiencing a number of things that are just very challenging”

“It’s a global phenomenon where we’re experiencing a number of things that are just very challenging,” he says. “The US festival market was severely impacted by increased costs and our US business has been very cautious going forward into next year because of that. Germany is still in recovery – it’s nowhere near as advanced as the UK or North America – and events in Australia have been going well, but again, they’re a little bit behind.

“In some ways, it’s good that it’s happening to all of us, because we all understand it; there is no promoter, agent or management company that hasn’t been affected by this, so we all understand what needs to be done going forward and there’s a bit more caution out there.”

A surprise hit for the promoter, however, was the reunion tour by British hip-hop trio N-Dubz, who sold 260,000 tickets for their upcoming UK arena comeback.

“It’s phenomenal,” says Homer. “Something that was considered to be a 10-date tour ended up being a 24-date tour with four shows at The O2, all sold out, three Manchesters and three Birminghams. It’s a great news story. Coldplay, Adele and Bruce Springsteen are all out there selling is expected and they will always be hot artists, but this was something that was not anticipated and it was a nice result for everyone.”

“The watchword is caution: don’t take any unnecessary risks”

Homer also weighs in on the likely ramifications of the energy crisis for the industry, as well as the alarming pound to dollar exchange rate.

“Again, the watchword is caution: don’t take any unnecessary risks,” says Homer. “I think the energy crisis is more about how it affects people’s pockets in terms of what they can spend, so we’re not certain. In the last big recession in 2008, we saw that entertainment was still considered to be something that people needed as a release, you just don’t go as often. And then, for venues, you don’t spend as much when you’re there.”

He continues: “One of the biggest things that’s causing us concern is the pound to dollar rate at the moment [the pound hit a record low against the dollar last week but has since rallied 10%]. We were almost on parity, which has not been something we’ve been familiar with for a long, long time. And it’s really biting in terms of artists touring over here – it becomes far more expensive for them to do it and it’ll be interesting to see how that impacts going forward.

“It’s creating a few anxious thoughts as to whether we can afford to offer American artists what they need to come over, so it might mean we’re missing a few that we would normally see.”

“We can’t justify increasing ticket prices, because that’s going to be the first thing that people are going to look at and go, ‘I can’t afford to go to that'”

On the prospect of raising ticket prices in line with the rising costs, Homer notes the subject is an ongoing conversation with agents and managers, describing it as a “balancing act”.

“Artists have greater costs to run on the road, whether that’s fuel, buses, hotels, or the general level of transportation with equipment, so their profitability is going down,” he concedes. “But we can’t justify increasing ticket prices, because that’s going to be the first thing that people are going to look at and go, ‘I can’t afford to go to that.’ It doesn’t take a lot of people to say no before the tour becomes unviable.

“It’s something we are looking at, but the general [stance] is do not just increase the ticket price in order to get the money you think you need, because the audience won’t be there.”

Part two of our interview with Homer, in which he discusses going solo in the AEG hot seat, his restructured team and the firm’s ambitions in the venue market, will be published next week.

 


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Toby Leighton-Pope exits AEG Presents

AEG Presents UK co-CEO Toby Leighton-Pope has left the company, it has been announced.

The promoter, who joined AEG from rival Live Nation alongside fellow co-CEO Steve Homer in 2016, has departed “to pursue other interests”, according to a statement released by AEG Europe.

Leighton-Pope previously spent 15 years at Live Nation UK, latterly as senior vice-president, where he launched the Hard Rock Calling Festival in Hyde Park. He has worked with the likes of Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Arcade Fire, Michael Buble and Katy Perry.

Steve Homer will continue to lead the division

“AEG Europe announce today that Toby Leighton-Pope, Co-CEO of AEG Presents UK, has left the company to pursue other interests,” says the statement.

“Toby joined AEG in 2016 when he was appointed joint CEO with Steve Homer. Steve Homer will continue to lead the division focusing on further growing the touring business and developing the roster of venues operated by AEG Presents UK. These include Wolverhampton Civic Halls and Olympia, London, both of which are undergoing multi-million-pound renovations and are set to open in 2022 and 2024 respectively.”

AEG will operate a 4,400-capacity live music venue within the Olympia complex and also recently agreed a 25-year deal with the City of Wolverhampton Council to run the Civic Halls.

AEG launched the All Points East festival in 2018 and attracted the likes of Adele, Taylor Swift, The Killers, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan and Neil Young to the firm’s flagship BST Hyde Park festival.

The company also opened a new Paris office in 2018, while upcoming tours feature acts such as Justin Bieber, Shawn Mendes and Blondie, as well as Ed Sheeran’s stadium dates in Scotland.

In November last year, Leighton-Pope was unveiled as the new co-chair of the UK’s Music Industry Trusts Award with YouTube head of music, EMEA Dan Chalmers after previous chair David Munns stepped down following 27 years in the role.

 


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Execs talk talent exodus, sales and no-shows

The live music industry’s staffing shortage, returning customer confidence and no-shows at concerts were high on the agenda in IQ’s latest Recovery Sessions event.

Chaired by the European Arenas Association Olivier Toth, the webinar explored the recovery of the arena market with the help of a heavyweight line-up of executives, including Coralie Berael (Forest National Arena), Tony Goldring (WME), Steve Homer, (AEG Presents), Hans Dhondt (Rock Werchter) and Paul Twomey (Bio Security Systems).

A key issue of debate was the loss of seasoned backstage workers to other industries during the pandemic.

“All venues and festivals are going to come together at some point and try to find their usual people, but a lot of them have left that pool,” said Berael. “We’re going to have to replace people and they’ll need training. They don’t have the necessary experience.

“The loss of talent is quite a concern. I’m not only worried about the quantity of staff, but especially the quality of staff and we are having to start a lot more upfront in finding the right people. Usually, even a week before, you can make a miracle and find the right people, but now you might need to start a lot earlier… It’s a real risk to business continuity and it’s one of the challenges that we’re facing at the moment.”

Homer suggested the issue had been exacerbated in the UK by Brexit.

“We had some issue trying to secure catering companies because they were struggling with staffing,” he said. “We’ve got a double whammy here with Brexit having an influence on people leaving the UK as well.

“There was a severe level of burnout, because we went from literally nothing in venues to almost 80/90%. People had been working for supermarkets or courier services, and then all of a sudden they’re thrown back into working full time in venues, operating as security, or stewarding, or local crew. So it’s been a tough baptism, shall we say, to come back.

“Luckily, the people that are in the industry are determined to make it successful, so a lot of people have gone the extra yard, or the extra mile in a lot of cases, to make sure that events have been happening.”

We’re quite confident for the next few months, but it will take time

Berael reported that, after a slow summer, ticket sales for shows were on the rise, with younger people especially keen to return to live events.

“Since there are a few mass events happening, we can see that the trust is growing again,” she said. “We see that in the curve of the ticket sales. It’s like people were waiting to see whether it went well, and whether there were long queues, etc. So we’re quite confident for the next few months, but it will take time.”

She added: “We communicated probably 500% more with our audience than we used to, just to make sure, in the first instance, that they knew the show was going to happen, to reassure them in a way.

“All the emails about how [the entry system was going to work] came afterwards… explaining to them and educating them about how it was going to work, so that they could already imagine the journey.”

As revealed by IQ last month, promoters have reported the rate of no-shows by ticket-holders at concerts has been far higher than usual.

“At the start of September, we were experiencing quite high levels of no shows – anything between 25% and 35% in some markets,” said Homer. “It does seem to have settled down a bit better this month. The no-show rate is dropping to between 10% and 15%.

“I’ve often equated this whole experience to the feeling of if you go to an outdoor swimming pool. There’s always someone that will go in first, and when that person surfaces, everyone on the side goes, ‘what was it like?’ And I think there’s an element of that that comes along with shows as well.

“It’s all about confidence, and I think the longer we go on without any further restrictions imposed or anything like that, the more comfortable people will be going to shows, going into those indoor environments, with mass audiences.”

With shows that have been announced more recently, you would expect the no-show numbers to be a lot less

Goldring shared an alternative theory for the high no-show level.

“I think we have different situations,” he said. “With a tour that went on sale in 2019 and has been rescheduled a number of times, some people just kind of forget about it, or maybe they’ve lost interest. So I think you’re going to have that scenario.

“With shows that have been announced more recently, you would expect the no-show numbers to be a lot less.”

He continued: “The thing that’s really put a smile on my face is that artists have just loved performing again. They’ve been stuck at home like all of us and, suddenly, they’ve had that interaction with the audience that they haven’t had for so long, and they’ve loved it. So that’s very positive for all of us.”

The Recovery Sessions, supported by ASM Global and Goodtill, is a series of fortnightly webinars designed to keep the live music industry updated about the international roadmap to reopening. All Recovery Sessions events are free to access for IQ subscribers.

To subscribe to IQ for just £5.99 a month, click here.

 


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Leading execs to discuss arenas in Recovery Sessions

The line-up has been finalised for the next must-see Recovery Sessions event, which takes place tomorrow (21 October) at 16.00 BST and is free to watch.

Joining chair Olivier Toth (chair of EAA) are Coralie Berael (Forest National Arena), Tony Goldring (William Morris Endeavour), Steve Homer, (AEG Presents) and Paul Twomey (Bio Security Systems), who will be exploring the recovery of the arena market.

Recovery Sessions: Arenas Working Together will look at how these principal touring grounds are working collectively to reignite the live music sector – from new developments in mitigation measures and strategies, to new and more collaborative actions across the venue space.

Beyond Covid-19, with sustainability now a must-tackle issue, and the ongoing race to provide the perfect customer experience, these industry heads will discuss what lies ahead for the arena sector.

The Recovery Sessions, supported by ASM Global and Goodtill, is a series of fortnightly webinars designed to keep the live music industry updated about the international roadmap to reopening. All Recovery Sessions events are free to access for IQ subscribers.

With sustainability now a must-tackle issue, these industry heads will discuss what lies ahead for the arena sector

The first Recovery Sessions event took place on 13 May, hosting high-level discussions on the issues around vaccine passports, the takeaways from this year’s major pilot events, and the road to recovery from the points of view of industry leaders.

The second edition took place on 17 June, hosting topical debates and discussions on the issues around insurancethe top mitigation measures and the importance of political relationships will be in a post-Covid world.

And the third took place on 22 July, quizzing HR heads about the various challenges they face as key markets reopen for business, as well as the opportunities to ‘build back better’ by spreading the recruitment net as wide as possible to help the industry become more diverse, equal and equitable.

To watch the Recovery Sessions: Arenas Working Together panel live on Thursday (21 October), simply head to the dedicated Recovery Sessions page on the website or IQ‘s Facebook page for 16.00 BST/17.00 CEST.

As with the first three events, the session will be available to watch back on demand for IQ subscribers.

To subscribe to IQ for just £5.99 a month, click here.

 


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