AEG Presents to operate Wolverhampton Civic Hall
City of Wolverhampton Council has appointed AEG Presents to manage the city’s Civic Hall, which is due to reopen in early 2022.
The leading promoter and venue operator – which owns and/or operates over 40 UK venues, including London’s Eventim Apollo, Indigo at the O2 (itself run by sister company ASM Global) and a new venue at Olympia London – will work developers on the final stages of the transformation of the grade II-listed Civic Hall, which will have a capacity of 3,500.
AEG Presents CEO Steve Homer – who saw his first show, the Clash, at the Civic Hall in 1978 – says: “Wolverhampton Civic Hall has a great history of being a first-class venue for live music, [so] when looking to expand our portfolio of venues it was the obvious choice. The council’s ambition, commercial drive and significant investment, coupled with our desire to provide high quality entertainment and customer service, will forge a great partnership for years to come.
“Alongside the council, we are delighted to be part of the team to further the growth of the city and look forward to some amazing events in the Civic Hall. On a personal note, having attended my first ever live concert at the Civic Hall, I am delighted to help shape the future of this great venue.”
“Wolverhampton Civic Hall has a great history of being a first-class venue for live music”
The works being undertaken by developer Willmott Dixon Interiors inside the venue will see the height above the stage to the rear of the Civic Hall increased to attract bigger and better shows.
There will also be wider and more comfortable seats, more bars and more space to socialise, expanded and revamped toilet facilities, lift access to new balconies, better access arrangements for disabled visitors (including enhanced wheelchair access), a greater number of accessible viewing points, and improved room temperatures through the installation of a new air-conditioning system.
Council leader Ian Brookfield comments: “The Civic Hall is an integral part of Wolverhampton’s entertainment and music heritage and an important part of our visitor economy. We believe – and this belief is shared by AEG Presents – that it has the potential to become a recognised venue not just regionally and nationally, but also internationally.
“The re-opening and the successful operation of the halls will reap big rewards – not only because it won’t cost the taxpayer a penny, but just as importantly in terms of jobs and economic benefit for our city, as we look to relight from the impact of the pandemic.”
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Tales from Covid: Steve Homer, AEG Presents
Tales from Covid, IQ’s new series of Q&As with locked-down industry leaders, sees leading lights of the concert business explain how they are weathering the coronavirus crisis and offer their predictions for the months ahead.
Following the fourth interview, with Rock Werchter founder and Live Nation Belgium head Herman Schueremans, IQ chats to Steve Homer, co-CEO of AEG Presents UK, about barriers to recovery, long-term changes and the decision to cancel AEG’s festivals, as well as how the crisis has brought the UK live industry together…
IQ: What professional lessons have you learned so far from the Covid-19 outbreak?
SH: The importance of maintaining communication with your team is vital to not only the business, but also the mental wellbeing of the staff. Using Teams and Zoom has been a revelation, and we are looking at lots of ways of supporting people through this crisis.
Since the start of the lockdown here in the UK, it is encouraging to see agents, promoters and managers have seen this as an opportunity to increase the level of communication. It’s a shared problem and there is a real desire to work together to get through this and come out the other side, all still in business. It has shown the live sector is made up of real people who genuinely care about live music.
When do you think the recovery might start, and how is AEG Presents preparing for it?
We have been looking at Q4 2020 but, as has been the case from the start, you have to keep monitoring and considering the position. The live industry appears to be the last to see any return to what we have considered to be normal.
The Presents team have been working hard to maintain information to customers, agents, artists and venues, so that as the government brings us out of lockdown we are ready to move forward. But from what has happened so far, we are moving with caution and not over committing to one strategy.
How do you feel about the British government response to the situation?
Hindsight is great. It’s easy to say now we should have gone into lockdown earlier and we would not be in the situation we find ourselves. New Zealand and Germany reacted quicker and are showing how it limited the impact, but, as I said, hindsight is a wonderful thing.
It’s the most difficult situation any of us has ever gone through. I feel we are getting the information from the government in a timely fashion and the logic behind it makes sense.
“The lockdown has shown us how important interaction is with our fellow humans – and where better to experience interaction than at a live show?”
Many major UK summer events have yet cancelled, and the government has yet to make a clear statement on how long any event ban would last, unlike in much of Europe. Given these circumstances, how did AEG Presents come to the decision to cancel BST Hyde Park and All Points East?
The UK events seem to be cancelling or postponing in a chronological order, so in some ways it doesn’t give the general public a doomsday scenario to face with the whole summer still in front of them.
As for AEG festivals, the set up, particularly for BST, have such long lead-in times it was only right to inform the artists and customers as soon as was practically possible.
According to DEAG’s Peter Schwenkow, “the open-air season is destroyed”. Would you agree with him?
As of today, it’s certainly looking that way for this summer.
As I’ve said, we are working hard towards the return but with the understanding things are continually subject to change. Social distancing being in place will have such a massive impact on this industry, of course. I know venues and events are modelling how to operate at reduced capacities.
What other challenges do you think the industry may face getting back up to speed?
The first question is, ‘When will that be?’. The longer we go on without operating, the bigger the strain on the companies within the industry and the suppliers we all rely on.
The live audience has a vast age range, and we currently believe the younger audience will come back quicker, with an older audience potentially not returning in numbers until there is a vaccine.
It’s about being able to react to the changes – what will the new normal be when we return? We are all speculating, but even the most experienced heads in the industry have never experienced the like of this.
What changes might we see long term?
The industry has, in the main, consolidated into key players over the past ten years, and this pandemic might change all this – we may see more independent companies emerging. Hopefully venues will be able to survive the lockdown, as it’s vital to have somewhere to play when we can get audiences back.
If anything, the lockdown has shown us how important interaction is with our fellow humans – and where better to experience interaction than at a live show? We have a future.
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The decade in live: 2015
The start of a new year and, perhaps more significantly, a new decade is fast approaching – and while many may be thinking ahead to New Year’s Eve plans and well-meaning 2020 resolutions, IQ is casting its mind back to the most pivotal industry moments of the last ten years.
Following on from a strong year in 2014, the live music industry in 2015 continued to go from strength to strength, with fans once again showing willingness to spend money on concert tickets.
After the success of their first all-stadia tour, British boyband One Direction embarked on another mammoth concert tour, which came in at number two on the year-end charts, despite the departure of band member Zayn Malik two months in. The tour was the beginning of the end for the band, which went on indefinite hiatus the following year.
2015 was a busy year in the live business, notably seeing the birth of Tim Leiweke and Irving Azoff’s Oak View Group. It was also the year that the Robert Sillerman’s rebirthed SFX Entertainment began to run into some serious trouble…
2015 in numbers
The top 100 worldwide tours grossed more than US$4.7 billion in 2015, up 14% from the year before but falling short of 2013’s $5bn. Ticket sales were also up, increasing by 16% to 59.7m, again lower than the 2013 total of 63.3m. The average ticket price in 2015 was down $3.30 to $78.80.
Taylor Swift was the top touring artist of the year, grossing $250.4m with her The 1989 world tour. The singer generated nearly $200m in North America alone, smashing the previous record of $162m set by the Rolling Stones in 2005.
One Direction also had a successful year with the On the Road Again tour, coming in behind Swift with year-end gross at $210.2m and selling 2.4m tickets, the most of any artist that year. AC/DC made $180m in ticket sales on their biggest tour to date, with U2’s Innocence + Experience grossing $152.2m and Foo Fighters’ Sonic Highway tour totalling $127m.
2015 in brief
Live Nation takes control of Austin City Limits and Lollapalooza promoter C3 Presents, paying a reported $125m for a 51% stake.
Austrian concert organiser Arcadia agrees a new partnership with four German companies – Four Artists, Chimperator Live, KKT and FKP Scorpio – to found Arcadia Live, a new
Live Nation agrees a joint venture with Thailand-based entertainment firm BEC-Tero. The new company, Live Nation BEC-Tero, will promote concerts by Western, J-Pop and K-Pop artists in the region, a pursuit in which BEC-Tero’s concerts division is already a market leader locally.
The Agency Group acquires UK-based electronic music agency Futureboogie, whose roster includes the likes of Bonobo, Crazy P and Nightmares on Wax.
The state of Washington passes a bill to outlaw ticket bots in an attempt to clamp down on the computer software that often prevents humans from buying seats online for concerts and sporting events. The move brings the number of states that have banned bots to 13.
A group of artists including Chris Martin, Calvin Harris, Madonna, Rihanna, Beyoncé, Jay Z, Kanye West, Daft Punk, Alicia Keys, Jack White and Nicki Minaj launch a new streaming service called Tidal, which is described as the first artist-owned platform for music and video.
The O2 arena in London announces that it has sold its 15 millionth ticket. The building, which opened in June 2007, has consistently been the most popular live music venue in the world, with research conducted by Media Insight Consulting claiming that 30% of the UK population has attended The O2 complex at least once.
ILMC launches the International Festival Forum, which aims to help strengthen the relationship between event organisers and agents. The London-based event is set to feature partner agencies such as Coda, The Agency Group, Primary Talent and X-ray Touring who will showcase festival-ready acts to promoters from around the world.
Australian media company Nine Entertainment sells its live events companies Nine Live and Ticketek to Asian private equity firm Affinity Equity Partners for AUD$640m ($480m).
Sydney-based Soapbox Artists, which grew out of the Australian wing of Ministry of Sound, announces its merger with the Melbourne-based 360 Agency. The combined EDM agencies will be a significant player in the dance market, representing a large roster of DJ and producer talent.
Live Nation acquires a controlling stake in American festival Bonnaroo. Under the terms of the deal, current promoters Superfly and AC Entertainment will continue to programme and run the event.
AEG agrees an extended deal with America’s International Speedway Corporation (ISC), allowing the company’s AEG Live division to look at organising concerts at racetracks around the country. ISC owns 13 raceways, including such iconic arenas as Daytona and Watkins Glen.
The Foo Fighters cancel a number of shows after frontman Dave Grohl breaks his leg during a concert in Sweden. Despite a nasty fracture, however, Grohl makes headlines around the world by returning to complete the Gothenburg show, receiving medical attention on stage.
German promoter Deutsche Entertainment AG and its UK offshoots Kilimanjaro Live and Raymond Gubbay Ltd, have set-up a company to sell tickets for their British shows. MyTicket.co.uk will expand the MyTicket concept that has already been running in Germany for six months.
The Windish Agency and Paradigm Talent Agency agree a partnership deal to form one of the world’s biggest independent agency operations, bringing The Windish Agency together with Paradigm partner agencies AM Only and Coda Music Agency, as well as Paradigm itself.
Live Nation Entertainment forms Live Nation Concerts Germany with German concert promoter Marek Lieberberg to promote concerts and festivals in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
William Morris agent Sol Parker jumps ship to Coda Agency, taking Take That, The Prodigy and Rita Ora with him.
United Talent Agency completes its acquisition of The Agency Group.
Live Nation acquires venue and festival operator MAMA & Company, returning a number of former Live Nation assets to its portfolio.
Australian promoter Andrew McManus is arrested at Melbourne Airport on charges of money laundering and the importation of 300 kilograms of cocaine. McManus is one of five people arrested in Australia and the United States as part of an FBI investigation.
Disgruntled investors hit SFX with a lawsuit claiming they were deceived with false and misleading statements over the company’s privatisation plans.
Ebay-owned secondary ticketing platform StubHub launches in Germany.
Pandora completes a $450m takeover of specialist ticketing agency Ticketfly.
Several preliminary bids are reportedly submitted for EDM promoter SFX in addition to that from CEO Robert Sillerman, who bid to buy back the company for $3.25 per share.
SFX promotes former IQ new boss Sebastian Solano to CEO of ID&T North America.
Ex-AEG chief Tim Leiweke forms live entertainment investment firm Oak View Group with Irving Azoff.
Ex-Done Events chief Thomas Ovesen is named CEO of new Dubai-based live music company 117 Live.
Live Nation UK vice-president Steve Homer and senior vice-president Toby Leighton-Pope leave the company.
Who we lost
Mike Porcaro, bassist for Toto; blues legend B.B. King; John Gammon, Pollstar’s UK/Europe correspondent; veteran promoter and ILMC member, Paul King; Stage Entertainment’s project manager Sjoerd Unger; Live Nation venue chief David Vickers; U2 tour manager Dennis Sheehan.
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Homer’s Odyssey: The Steve Homer story so far
Spend more than a minute or two in the company of Steve Homer, the affable, talkative co-CEO of AEG Presents in the UK, and one thing becomes clear: the man loves live music. Thirty years after he promoted his first show, Homer’s enthusiasm for the live experience is as infectious as ever.
“He’s a music fan,” says other co-CEO Toby Leighton-Pope, Homer’s partner in crime for the best part of 20 years. “If he doesn’t have a show on, he’ll find one to go and see. We’ll go away to LA on a business trip for a week, and after two days of lunches and dinners he’ll take off and go and see a band – he’s left many a business meal or important meeting to go see a show.”
“My dad, he’s 80 now, and I remember him saying to me a few years ago, ‘You’re never going to get a proper job, are you?’” adds Homer. “And I said, ‘correct.’ He just sees it as my hobby, my passion – and it is.”
Perhaps it’s that love for the art form that’s been the key to Homer’s success over the past three decades. Or maybe it’s his well-deserved reputation as a “perfect gentleman,” in the words of agent Tobbe Lorentz, or his willingness to turn his hand to everything from the Darkness to Tinie Tempah, building lifelong relationships along the way.
Either way, like Odysseus – the hero of the poem by his 8th-century-BC namesake – Homer’s story is an epic one (albeit with more Dolly Parton and fewer shipwrecks). And it begins in a market town in the Black Country, sometime in the early 1960s…
“He’s a music fan. If he doesn’t have a show on, he’ll find one to go and see”
Big on campus
Born in Stourbridge in the West Midlands, Homer caught the live music bug at his first show: The Clash at Wolverhampton Civic Hall on 16 December 1978, just a few weeks after his 15th birthday. His first brush with the industry, meanwhile, came five years later, when he went to Leicester University to study physics with astronomy (later, sensibly, transferring to a combined studies degree).
Homer, like many of his peers, served on Leicester’s entertainment committee, and after graduating in 1986 went to work at Staffordshire’s Keele University, which was recruiting for a professional (ie non-student) entertainments manager. But it was at another university that he cut his promoting teeth.
“The University of Sheffield wanted someone to come in and shape their commercial services department,” he explains. “There were three venues there, as opposed to one at Keele. The idea was to make Sheffield one of the biggest-earning university campuses in the country.”
And Homer delivered. By the early ’90s Sheffield’s entertainment business was making well over £1 million (€1.1m) profit annually, while Homer and team were running more than 60 shows a year.
By the early ’90s Sheffield’s entertainment business was making well over £1m profit annually
The old school
As a university ents manager in the early 90s, Homer was in good company: other now-household names in similar roles at the time included Middlesex Polytechnic’s Geoff Ellis (DF Concerts); the University of Warwick’s Chris York and Manchester’s Rob Ballantine (both SJM); Newcastle University’s Daryl Robinson (AMG/Mama); and the University of London’s Paul Hutton (Metropolis/Crosstown Concerts).
It was also his first contact with many bookers he works with to this day, as X-ray agent Adam Saunders recalls: “Steve and I first worked together when he was at Keele University, and then following that at Sheffield. We built a great working relationship through those early years, and we carried on working closely together through his years at the Mean Fiddler, too.
“We both had some incredibly pivotal years with the Darkness and the huge success through the Permission to Land album touring campaign. Steve had by that point moved to SFX (as Live Nation then was) and a second run on that tour featured multiple nights in all the UK arenas. We even included a tour warm-up show in the ‘intimate’ Brixton Academy. Great times…”
As a university ents manager in the early 90s, Homer was in good company
Homer remained at Sheffield until 1998, by which time he’d “run [his] course” at the university amid an unwelcome evolution in his responsibilities.
“Sheffield was a great place for gigs, but I’d moved further and further in that time from booking shows to the running of the commercial services side: helping to make the bars turn over more money, working with security services, and so on, Homer says. “But my main desire was that I wanted to work on live music.”
Homer joined the Mean Fiddler Music Group, Vince Power’s venue and festival empire, that year, after having turned down a job at one of the company’s venues two years prior. “I’d previously spoken to Vince Power about a job that came up at the Clapham Grand [south London],” he continues. “But I had real security within Sheffield, and people like Paul Hutton and Simon Moran advised me against it because at that time it was so off the beaten track.
“But I left it on good terms with Vince, and I phoned him up in mid-98 to say I wanted to move to London and asked if there was anything at Mean Fiddler. I came down and he offered me the job of running Mean Fiddler’s touring department.”
“I remember my dad saying to me a few years ago, ‘You’re never going to get a proper job, are you?’ And I said, ‘correct’”
After an “okay but not great” start promoting around 30 shows that autumn, including long-time Power clients Dr John and Republica, Homer fast put his own stamp on Mean Fiddler, famously promoting early shows by Eminem and Queens of the Stone Age while imbuing its touring division with the focus on talent development that had characterised his career to date.
He also began to book acts for Mean Fiddler’s Homeland and Reading Festivals, working closely with current Festival Republic MD Melvin Benn, as well as artists including Kylie Minogue, Carl Cox and Moloko for the Renaissance club in Ibiza.
At Mean Fiddler, Homer says, he learnt for the first time “that it really matters which company you work for. […] Some agencies loved Mean Fiddler but many others didn’t. It was the first time in my career that I’d been seen as part of that corporate umbrella.”
Other high-profile Mean Fiddler-era signings included pop-punk band Bowling for Soup – who Homer saw at South by Southwest and brought over for Reading and the new Leeds Festival – and All Seeing I, the Sheffield supergroup featuring Jarvis Cocker and Phil Oakey who scored a hit in 1999 with ‘Walk Like a Panther’.
Homer’s tenure at Mean Fiddler lasted just two years, and he admits that he didn’t leave the company on “great terms” with Power, who had been “very supportive” of his career to that point and perhaps felt cheated when his rising star was lured away.
A Latin love affair: IQ 86 out now
As the summer months are left firmly behind, IQ injects a beacon of light into the dark, winter nights, in the form of the latest edition of IQ Magazine, available to read online now.
Issue #86 sees IQ take an in-depth look at the fast-growing Hispanic music scene, examining the new generation of musical talent and powerhouse promoters fuelling the international Latin music boom. On the other side of the Atlantic, Spain’s live music market has reached unprecedented levels in recent years, with an “enviable” number of festivals, “broad” selection of promoters and growing public demand.
Elsewhere, IQ 86 celebrates 30 years in the business for AEG Presents CEO Steve Homer; we find out why fans are taking to the seas for their festival experiences; and talk to the specialists providing the (literal) framework for live events.
The magazine also includes highlights from the fifth annual International Festival Forum (IFF), which took place in September, with speakers including UTA’s Greg Lowe, FKP Scorpio’s Stephan Thanscheidt, Mojo Concerts’ Kim Bloem and Live Nation Belgium’s Herman Schueremans
The majority of magazine content will appear online over the coming months, with the usual selection of analysis, news, expert comment and new signings appearing alongside features. For those unable to wait for their essential live music industry fix, click here to subscribe now.
AEG, Eden Project form Eden Sessions joint venture
Educational charity the Eden Project and global live event company AEG Presents today (16 September) announced a new partnership, which will see the pair jointly run the Eden Sessions concert series.
The two organisations have formed a new company, Eden Sessions Ltd, and will work together to produce the next concert series in summer 2020.
Eden’s Rita Broe, who has run the Eden Sessions for the last eight years, will lead the new company. John Empson, who was instrumental in founding the Sessions and has booked every act since, will continue to lead on the booking for the concerts.
The Eden Project, which has a visitor destination in Cornwall, UK, houses the largest rainforest in captivity under multiple large biomes. The site has attracted over 21 million visitors since opening in 2001.
The Project has hosted the Eden Sessions since 2002, with performances from Pulp, Muse, Oasis, Elton John, Blondie, Bjork, Lionel Richie, Paul Weller, Mumford and Sons, Blink 182, The xx, Van Morrison and Queens of the Stone Age.
By joining forces, AEG Presents and Eden hope to build on the Eden Sessions legacy and brand.
“In 18 years, the Sessions have established an excellent reputation in the industry and with concert-goers,” says Gordon Seabright, chief executive of the Eden Project.
“People use the word iconic a lot but the Eden Sessions fully deserves that description”
“Our exciting new venture with AEG Presents teams Eden with the global leader in live music. It will give us more national and international reach and help us spread Eden’s mission even further.
“Eden boasts a unique amphitheatre surrounded by beautiful gardens and spectacular Biomes,” continues Seabright, saying the team is “proud” there there exists “no venue like it anywhere in the world.”
“We know that many artists cite shows they have played here as being among their best ever.”
AEG Presents co-chief executives Steve Homer and Toby Leighton-Pope comment: “People use the word iconic a lot but the Eden Sessions fully deserves that description. They are innovative and the roll call of artists who have performed at Eden speaks for itself.
“They stand for quality as do we and we’re both dedicated to giving music fans a brilliant gig experience every time. This partnership is a big moment for us and we’re sure it will deliver great things.”
Among this year’s Eden Sessions headliners were Kylie Minogue, Stereophonics and Nile Rodgers & Chic.
AEG Presents runs outdoor events including the British Summer Time Hyde Park concerts and East London festival All Points East. The company has promoted tours for artists including Justin Bieber, Khalid, Shawn Mendes and Ed Sheeran.
AEG Presents names new SVP, international
AEG Presents has promoted Simon Jones to the newly created role of senior vice-president of music, international.
In the newly created, London-based role, Jones will head up AEG Presents UK’s global concert operations, working with AEG offices in the US, Europe, Asia and the Middle East to promote a range of artists from club gigs to stadium shows. He reports directly to Steve Homer and Toby Leighton-Pope, AEG Presents London’s joint CEOs.
The creation of the position comes after AEG Presents’ launch in France in January this year, following the company’s acquisition of a stake in leading festival Rock en Seine in 2017.
In 2017, AEG promoted more than 800 live events in the UK, including British Summer Time Hyde Park festival and the recently launched All Points East in Victoria Park, London.
“I’m certain we can keep upping the ante both in the UK and around the world”
“I’ve enjoyed building the international touring arm of our UK office in recent years – it’s a major passion of mine and I’m excited to continue and expand on this even further, with some incredible shows and tours to announce soon,” says Jones, who joined AEG as an intern, working at the then-new O2 Arena. Since then, he has risen through the ranks to become a promoter and senior executive.
“What we have achieved since AEG Presents launched in the UK has been phenomenal and I’m certain we can keep upping the ante both here and around the world. The artists that work with us are always at the core of our thinking when planning tours and shows, and that is reflected in the calibre of artists and their teams that we work with.”
Jones’s current tours include Shawn Mendes’s European tour, the Ed Sheeran South Africa stadium tour, Asian tours for Khalid and Calum Scott, Rodriguez across Australia and New Zealand and UK tours for Anne-Marie, Jess Glynne, Tom Odell and the Vamps.
Recent successes include Ed Sheeran in Asia and the Middle East in 2017–18, as well as Sheeran’s three sell-out stadium shows in Glasgow this year, Justin Bieber’s 2016–17 UK tour, Craig David’s 2017 arena tour and the annual Brits Week series of shows.
Senior execs depart Live Nation UK
Managerial shake-ups at Live Nation UK continue, with two of the company’s senior promoters making their departure.
Details about the exits are sketchy, but it is understood that vice-president Steve Homer and senior vice-president Toby Leighton-Pope severed ties with Live Nation in early December. They follow former COO John Probyn after he left the company for pastures new in September.
Homer and Leighton-Pope are among the best known promoters in the UK and were both heavily involved in the Wireless Festival, which made its debut in Birmingham last year, twinned with the longstanding London event. However, the Birmingham festival did not have a second year.
Live Nation declined to comment.