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Criticism of Italy ticket law mounts after Sting ‘chaos’

Live Nation Italy has added its voice to the chorus of criticism surrounding Italy’s new named-ticket law, after a number of concertgoers were turned away from a delayed Sting show in Assago on Tuesday (29 October).

The show, at the Mediolanum Forum, near Milan, was the first promoted by Live Nation since the new regulations, introduced on 1 July, came into effect – and was therefore an “important test” of how the law would work in practice, says the company.

The answer? Not very well, according to Live Nation, who blamed the new legislation for the Sting show starting an hour late, after fans stuck in queues were unable to gain access to the arena.

The so-called named ticket law – designed to curb unauthorised resale – requires the purchaser’s name to be printed on tickets for all shows over 5,000 capacity, and concertgoers’ ID to match that name, to prevent tickets being sold on the secondary market. The Italian live music industry has consistently opposed the measure, warning of potential disruption and queues, and CTS Eventim’s TicketOne, Italy’s biggest ticket seller, said in September the law isn’t even effective, with tickets still widely available on the major resale sites.

TicketOne: touts thriving under named ticket law

Many people were also turned away from the Sting (pictured) show for having inadequate identification, or documents that didn’t match the name on their ticket.

Roberto De Luca, chairman of Live Nation Italy, says the company found itself in the “paradox that applying the law would lead to big disruptions, with the only solution being to violate it”.

“Of course we didn’t,” he says, “although we showed maximum flexibility and gave all possible assistance to the public.” Faced with huge queues, he continues, “even the police asked us to accept photocopied and scanned [ID] documents, which is not lawful.”

In addition to Live Nation and Eventim, criticism has been levelled at named tickets by Assomusica, the Italian concert promoters’ association, whose president, Vincenzo Spera, urges the government to reconsider the legislation for the sake of fans.

“One of the main concerns about the introduction of the new regulations, which we have always brought to the attention of the public, is the inconvenience caused by the new legislation,” comments Spera. “At an event of this magnitude [the Sting concert], where the spectators, being a weekday, arrive directly after work, huge delays are inevitable due to the need to carry out the checks required by law.”

Spera adds that Assomusica hopes the Italian parliament “will review the law by the end of the year”, taking into account “the many inconveniences and inefficiencies that occurred” at the Sting show. “Moreover, the phenomenon of secondary ticketing is far from being solved, and the authorities tasked with sanctioning the sites responsible have not yet taken adequate measures.”

“This law that penalises the public and punishes organisers, putting the ​​live entertainment industry at risk”

Unfortunately for the industry, the incident appears to have strengthened the resolve of Sergio Battelli, the deputy who introduced the named-ticket law, who has hit out at Live Nation, describing as “pure madness” a private company “using the stage for a rally against a state law”.

“I would add that if Live Nation, which in the past few months has brought 60,000 people to the Olympic Stadium in Rome for the [pre-law] Ed Sheeran concert, has had difficulty in getting 10,000 spectators into the Assago Forum, the problem is not the law but the organiser,” he wrote on Facebook.

The industry, however, largely shares the view of De Luca, who adds: “If there were these problems on a concert for 10,000 people, it’s very serious – because it’s a test to see exactly what will happen with major shows such as festivals, and on long tours.”

“Live Nation therefore reiterates its utmost opposition to a law that penalises the public and punishes organisers, putting the ​​live entertainment industry, which is a great cultural and economic resource for our country, at risk” reads a statement provided by Live Nation. “As demonstrated by other sectors, such as sports, and football in particular, we do not need named tickets to combat ticket touting.

“In fact, for [Sting], there were still copious amounts of tickets available on the secondary ticketing platforms.”

 


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Stones, Bowie business manager Rascoff dies

Joseph Rascoff, the co-founder of Rascoff Zysblat Organization (RZO) and business manager to The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Paul Simon, U2, Sting, Shania Twain and David Byrne, has passed away aged 71.

The news was announced by long-time business partner Bill Zysblat, with whom Rascoff (pictured) founded RZO in 1987. He died yesterday “surrounded by family”, Pollstar quotes Zysblat as saying.

RZO represents financially an estimated 30 music clients – as well as the estate of Bowie, who died last January  and including in the live space, working with promoters on tours such as Sting’s 57th & 9th.

“Joe Rascoff was one of the good guys in a tough business”

In addition to his work with RZO, Rascoff was chairman of live entertainment at SFX Entertainment (now LiveStyle) until February 2015, by which he was owed an estimated US$350,000 when it went under last February. (He is still listed as being on LiveStyle’s board of directors.)

Nederlander Concerts CEO Alex Hodges tells IQ Rascoff was “one of the good guys in a tough business”. “He did the biz managing for some of my clients when I was an agent,” he explains. “Sad news. [He was] too young.”

The funeral will be at 9am this Sunday (9 April) at Hillside, 6001 West Centinela Avenue, in Los Angeles.

 


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New Sting tour following Bataclan reopening

Sting will hit the road again next February following an emotional show at the reopened Bataclan on Saturday.

The 57th & 9th tour, produced by RZO Entertainment and promoted worldwide by Live Nation Global Touring, will kick off on 1 February at the Commodore Ballroom (995-cap.) in Vancouver and conclude with two nights at Paris’s Olympia (1,172-cap.) on 12 and 13 April. Sting will be joined by special guests Joe Sumner (Fiction Plane) and Tex-Mex act The Last Bandoleros.

The former Police frontman reopened the Bataclan, which was closed for close to a year following the devastating terrorist attack of 13 November 2015, with a charity show on Saturday night.

He opened the show with a speech in French, telling the crowd – which included many survivors of the attack – “We’ve got two important things to do tonight: First, to remember and honour those who lost their lives in the attacks a year ago, and to celebrate the life and the music of this historic venue.”

The concert was, however, marred by reports two members of Eagles of Death Metal – who were playing on 13 November and returned to Paris to “finish what [they’d] started” in February – was turned away for Jesse Hughes’s allegations Muslim security staff were complicit in the atrocity. “They came, I threw them out – there are things you can’t forgive,” Bataclan co-director Jules Frutos told AFP.


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Bataclan to reopen with charity show on 12 Nov

Paris’s Bataclan theatre, the site of the 13 November 2015 terrorist attacks which left 89 concertgoers dead, will reopen earlier than expected with a show by Sting.

Although Pete Doherty’s 16 November concert was believed initially to be the first following the 1,500-capacity venue’s reopening, its owner, Lagardère, has announced that former Police frontman Sting will perform on Saturday 12 November, with all proceeds going to victims’ charities.

He comments: “In re-opening the Bataclan, we have two important tasks to reconcile. First, to remember and honour those who lost their lives in the attack a year ago, and second to celebrate the life and the music that this historic theatre represents. In doing so we hope to respect the memory as well as the life affirming spirit of those who fell. We shall not forget them.”

“We hope to respect the memory as well as the life affirming spirit of those who fell. We shall not forget them”

Speaking to reporters, Jerome Langlet, head of Lagardère Unlimited Live Entertainment, says: “This is not a ceremony; it’s a concert. It’s the one and the same Bataclan. We chose to change it all without changing anything – to change it all so that nothing remains of the night of absolute horror, but to change nothing of the soul and history of the Bataclan.”

Reuters reports roofing, tiling and seating have been replaced, but with similar materials, and entrance hall lighting improved.

Eagles of Death Metal, who were playing at the time of the attack by the Islamic State (IS), returned to Paris on 16 February for an emotional show at the Olympia, for which survivors of the Bataclan attack were given free tickets.

 


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