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Appointments and exits across the US live sector

Jared Smith, global chairman of Live Nation’s Ticketmaster, announced that he is planning to step down from his role at the company at the end of this year.

According to Sportico, which first reported the departure, Smith said his exit will help Ticketmaster to bring in new leadership for the post-Covid-19 era.

“The company deserves to have the person who’s going to be here long-term making the decisions right now of what it should look like,” Smith told Sportico.

Smith, who has been with Ticketmaster for more than 17 years, was appointed to his current role earlier this year. He has previously served as the company’s president of North America, and COO.

Elsewhere, former UTA agent Anthony Paolercio has been appointed as a partner at Patchwork Presents, a talent buying, event promotion and consulting company.

“Anthony and I cut our teeth together at The Agency Group over 15 years ago and I’m very excited to have him join Patchwork and our mission of supporting artists and bringing high-quality entertainment to independent venues nationwide,” says Patchwork president Dave Poe.

“The company deserves to have the person who’s going to be here long-term making the decisions now of what it should look like”

Paolercio adds: “I consider Dave Poe my closest friend and colleague in the business. I trust him completely, which is the most important part of building a strong and enduring partnership. There aren’t many agents turned promoters in our business, so I feel that I have a unique perspective to offer.”

During his time at UTA, Paolercio specialised in festivals for its roster of clients, working with artists including Guns N’ Roses and Post Malone.

Superfly, a live entertainment and brand experience company which founded US festivals Bonnaroo and Outside Lands, has also made a new appointment.

Former Momentum Worldwide executive Richard Black is stepping into the role of president and general manager of Superfly’s agency business, effective immediately.

The newly created role will involve Black building clients’ brands and their businesses. Black will be based at Superfly’s New York headquarters and will report to co-founder Rich Goodstone.

“Superfly was born experiential,” says Black. “We build communities and fandoms around brands through thought-provoking and cutting edge ideas that drive business results. I’m honoured to join this talented team during these transformative times and am looking forward to shaping the future and redefinition of experiential.”

 


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Superfly partners with TikTok to support small businesses

Small Business Live, a virtual live music event organised by Bonnaroo and Outside Lands co-founder Superfly, is raising money for minority-owned companies founded by people of colour across the US.

The event, which is taking place on Saturday 20 June from 4 to 10 p.m. ET, will see acts including Brittany Howard, Leon Bridges, 2 Chainz and Brandi Carlile performing on-site at local small businesses.

All performances will be livestreamed through TikTok and also available via YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitch, Twitter, LiveXLive and the publications of Bustle Digital Group.

Proceeds from the event will be donated to Accion Opportunity Fund, a non-profit that provides almost 90% of their loans to small businesses founded by people of colour. The fund also looks to support companies set up by women, as well as those run by immigrants.

Viewers will be able to donate via text with a special code that will be made available closer to the time. Fans can also donate on the Superfly website before and after the live stream, until 26 June.

“Everyone’s support will make a huge difference to small business owners, their families and employees who have been devastated by this pandemic”

“Entrepreneurs of colour are denied credit more often and charged higher rates for money they borrow to fund their businesses. We need to accelerate support to underserved businesses in order to reach our full potential,” says Luz Urrutia, CEO of Accion Opportunity Fund.

“This is a fun way to do something really important. Everyone’s support will make a huge difference to small business owners, their families and employees who have been devastated by this pandemic, the recession, and centuries of racism, xenophobia, and oppression.”

According to Superfly co-founder Rich Goodstone, around 3.5 million small businesses in the US are currently at risk of permanent closure due to the coronavirus pandemic. A “disproportionate number” of those at risk are minority-owned businesses, says Goodstone.

“We look forward to raising the profile of this issue by showcasing amazing music performances and the stories of small businesses across America that urgently need our support.”

Fans can to tune in to Small Business Live on TikTok, with a list of other ways to view the event available here.

Superfly’s Rick Farman was among those to invest in avatar-based virtual concert platform Wave last week, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to accelerate the puh towards digital forms of live entertainment.

Photo: Calquinn/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0) (cropped)

 


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Music execs invest in virtual concert platform Wave

Mega-manager Scooter Braun is among those to have invested in Wave, a music-tech startup that creates virtual worlds for live concerts.

The Los Angeles-based company recently received $30 million in funding from investors including Superfly co-founder Rick Farman and Twitch co-founder Kevin Lin. Braun invested via Raised in Space Enterprises, which he launched last year with former BMG president Zach Katz.

The funding round, which was led by venture capitalist firm Maveron, brings Wave’s investment total to $40m.

Wave transforms artists into digital avatars in real-time and casts them onto stages in customised virtual worlds. The company recently announced a concert series, One Wave, with performances from John Legend and Tinashe.

“[This] support shows the entertainment industry is looking for new, interactive ways to connect with today’s digital generation”

The funding will be used to create “new virtual environments and formats, and interactive experiences”, such as in-game activations and social experiences, as well as accelerating it expansion into global markets, specifically Japan and China.

According to Wave CEO Adam Arrigo, the new financial support “shows the entertainment industry is looking for new, interactive ways to connect with today’s digital generation”.

“I want to work with today’s most forward-thinking leaders in music and technology,” says Braun, who manages acts including Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande.

“The future of the industry depends on it. Adam and his team at Wave are bridging these two very important industries to create transformative experiences for the next generation of concertgoers, with a refreshingly artist-first approach.”

Avatar-based virtual concerts have proved to be an immensely popular format, with digitalised appearances by Marshmello and Travis Scott in Fortnite attracting tens of millions and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic further accelerating the push towards digital forms of ‘live’ entertainment.

 


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On the edge of culture and creativity: Superfly Q&A

Superfly, the company behind festivals such as Bonnaroo and Outside Lands, has been making major moves in the experiential space.

Founded in 1996 by Rick Farman, Jonathan Mayers, Rich Goodstone and Kerry Black, Superfly has a history of exploring different kinds of immersive, live events from comedy festival Clusterfest to music and arts festival Bonnaroo.

More recently, the company has invested in businesses including sensory experience specialist Listen, immersive entertainment hot spot Two Bit Circus and event technology company LiveStyled, part of its commitment to marrying music with technology.

IQ catches up with Superfly co-founder and music-tech specialist Rick Farman to find out more about the paradoxical relationship between new technology and live events and the potential for music in the virtual events space.

 


Superfly has invested greatly in the immersive entertainment space recently, why?
There are certainly a few aspects to this. Due to Superfly’s background, we have a great vantage point for the entertainment and experiential industries at large, so we can identify companies with great potential for growth that we can have a very meaningful impact on.

With these investments, we are trying to find crossover with other companies. We have seen over the years on both sides of our business – be it as an event creator and operator, or as a brand agency business and service provider – that there’s a lot of scope for this.

At the same time, we are not a typical music company or promoter – the core of what Superfly does is create experiences that impact people in positive ways with a high level of creativity. We are interested in all different kinds of artists and art forms – anything that helps people find where their passions lie. So, as we grow our business, we are seeking to explore all different types of entertainment and create more diversification across the board.

“The core of what Superfly does is create experiences that impact people in positive ways with a high level of creativity”

How does this translate into your festival business?
We build festivals by trying to replicate that big experience on stage. It’s about performance, but with heightened participation. Outside Lands, for example, does this primarily through food and drink: people learn about wine from the region, talk to those who make it, do wine tastings etc.

What was really brand new and cutting edge for Outside Lands this year, was that we had sales and consumption of cannabis on-site. Globally, no other major festival has done this. Other events have concessions, but we built out a whole different experience from it for people to learn about cannabis – there was a smell wall, information on how it’s made, and we worked with leading brands in the cannabis eco systems. It’s all about bringing that immersive quality and tying it into that culture – that’s the general way we approach that kind of thing at festivals.

It’s like what we’re doing with the Friends and the Seinfeld experiences, too. The idea came out of our comedy festival, Clusterfest, to present immersive experiences with leading media IP from TV shows. We created the format and exported the Clusterfest ideas into standalone installations. The Friends Experience sold out in New York when it launched and recently opened in Boston too.

“It’s an interesting paradox in a way – live music is growing both because of and in spite of that innovation”

The consumer demand for the experiential has increased massively in the past few years, what are the main reasons behind this?
In many ways, there is a direct correlation with the ways in which people experience entertainment at home and the advent of a more digital lifestyle. We have seen this happen before with the explosion of the festival market, especially in the United States, which was driven by advances of technology around digital music. Having access to all that content makes sense when you can then go and see it all at a festival – they’re like mirror experiences.

This is similar to what is happening right now, but with even more interactive digital experiences – people are not just watching but participating in the digital space now, and they are looking for experiences that feed into that real world experience.

For example, visual social platforms like Instagram create a level of needing to get out and experience special events firsthand. All of this increases the desire to go to a festival or event. On the other hand, a festival is an experience that lasts for days, away from screens and technology, so it provides a respite from that digital life.

It’s an interesting paradox in a way – live music is growing both because of and in spite of that innovation. I personally think it’s awesome when these things happen – the convergence of what your experiences are in the digital world with what you’re getting from the live experience.

“Technology can be an amazing tool for artists and Superfly has a real opportunity to play within that overall emerging space”

Could you argue that technology is taking away from the real, lived music experience in any way?
For me, technology only adds to live experiences. The whole artistic universe – streams, merch, live – is being translated to a different context, where a lot of young people interested in entertainment and culture are living, so there is great potential.

The virtual events space is ripe for music to be one of the leading components. There is obviously momentum there already, the watershed moment being the Fortnite x Marshmello concert, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

What is so cool about the gaming format, and what’s developed with streaming platforms like Twitch, is that the level of interactivity that the artists can have with the fan is really incredible. We are now transcending the normal ability for an artist to participate with the audience and having more of a conversation and feedback element. Layer on top of that, all of the magic that can be created in a CGI environment and there’s something really special.

I believe that technology can be a really amazing tool for artists and Superfly as a brand has a real opportunity to play within that overall emerging space.

 


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Superfly makes moves in experiential space

New York production company Superfly has delved further into the immersive experience side of live entertainment, following the buy-out of its stake in Bonnaroo by Live Nation.

Superfly, the company that co-founded Tennessee-based Bonnaroo in 2002, last week announced the launch of The Seinfeld Experience, a year-long, immersive activation based on hit TV show Seinfeld.

“We’re thrilled to bring The Seinfeld Experience to life in an innovative way, combining nostalgia with immersive entertainment,” says Superfly co-founder Jonathan Mayers.

The production company also recently acquired a majority stake in sensory experience specialist Listen. Founded in 2012, Listen has collaborated with artists including Childish Gambino and Brian Eno, as well as carrying out experiential marketing for brands such as Microsoft, Paypal and Virgin.

“We’re thrilled to bring the Seinfeld Experience to life in an innovative way, combining nostalgia with immersive entertainment”

Superfly has created activations for San Francisco comedy festival Clusterfest, which it co-produces with television channel Comedy Central, since its inauguration in 2017. Installations include replications of sets from TV programmes The Office, Atlanta and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

Superfly’s festival portfolio includes Bonnaroo, which it produced for a final time this year in a sell-out edition, and San Francisco’s Outside Lands. The company was the original production partner of Woodstock 50, pulling out after the festival lost its financial backing.

The Seinfeld Experience will open in autumn. Tickets will go on sale in the coming months.

 


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C3, Red Light, Another Planet invest in Mixhalo

Mixhalo, an audio tech start-up founded by Incubus guitarist Mike Einziger and his wife, Ann Marie Simpson-Einziger, has raised US$10.7 million to fund its mission to “democratise” concert sound.

Investors in the series-A investment round, led by Foundry Group, include US promoters C3 Presents (Charlie Walker), Superfly (Rick Farman and Rich Goodstone) and Another Planet Entertainment, UK artist management firm Red Light Management, and venture-capital outfits Cowboy Ventures, Sapphire Sport and Defy Partners, reports TechCrunch.

Pharrell Williams was also an early investor in the company, as were WME’s Marc Geiger and mega-producer Rick Rubin, which has raised a total of $15m to date.

Similar to European start-up Peex (which additionally enables listeners to create their own mixes), the Mixhalo app allows fans to listen through headphones to audio direct from the soundboard – ie the mix artists hear in their in-ear monitors – rather than through speakers, for improved sound quality.

“Mixhalo envisions a world where everyone experiences great live audio, regardless of their seat or ticket cost”

The platform also allows artists and concert organisers to offer multiple mixes for a single concert, or feeds from multiple festival stages, allowing users to tailor their concert experience to them.

Mixhalo CEO Marc Ruxin says the company is “definitely solving a problem in music that people don’t realise they have”, comparing it to watching television in the pre-HD age. “Now, sports that’s not in HD looks crappy,” Ruxin explains.

Mixhalo has been deployed at shows by Charlie Puth, Incubus and Metallica, as well as Aerosmith’s current Las Vegas residency, Deuces are Wild.

Ruxin tells TechCrunch he is currently focused on music and sports, but is also open to other working with other sectors, as the technology can also installed in, for example, a theatrical musical with “no technical tweaks.”

“Mixhalo envisions a world where everyone experiences great live audio, regardless of their seat or ticket cost,” comments Ruxin. “We are democratising sound at live events.”

 


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Live Nation to take over Superfly’s Bonnaroo share

Live Nation, which has had a controlling interest in Tennessee-based Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival since 2015, has announced its intention to buy out the rest of the festival from its co-founder Superfly.

According to Billboard, Live Nation told Bonnaroo minority owners of its plans to exercise a buyout and purchase the rest of the festival.

The transaction will take place before next year’s festival. Although it is believed that a limited role for Superfly is being considered, the company will no longer have a hand in organising the festival, say reports.

Bonnaroo will now be produced by Live Nation-owned C3 Presents and AC Entertainment, which co-founded the festival along with Superfly in 2002 and was acquired by Live Nation in 2016.

Bonnaroo will now be produced by Live Nation-owned C3 Presents and AC Entertainment

The biggest camping festival in North America, this year’s Bonnaroo festival sold out all 80,000 tickets in its first sell-out since 2013. Childish Gambino, Post Malone and Phish headlined the event, which took place from 13 to 16 June in Great Stage Park, Manchester.

Superfly had been hired to produce this year’s Woodstock 50 event but pulled out of the anniversary festival in May, after the Woodstock team lost the backing of its investor.

In 2018, its Phoenix-based festival Lost Lakes was cancelled and in January, the company announced it was not putting on another edition of Denver’s Grandoozy festival.

Superfly also co-produces Outside Lands festival in San Francisco with promoter Another Planet.

 


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Woodstock 50 woes mount as venue pulls out

With under ten weeks until kick-off, the still permit-less Woodstock 50 anniversary event has added to its organisational woes by losing both its venue, the Watkins Glen racetrack in New York state, and production partner CID Entertainment.

In a statement released yesterday afternoon (11 June) US time, a spokesperson for Watkins Glen International (WGI) simply said: “Watkins Glen International terminated the site license [sic] for Woodstock pursuant to provisions of the contract. As such, WGI will not be hosting the Woodstock 50 Festival.”

Watkins Glen’s cancellation was followed less than hour later by news that CID Entertainment – itself a stand-in for Superfly, which was originally supposed to produce the event – would, “given developments”, also be forced to pull its involvement, reports Billboard.

The future of the festival, conceived as a 50th-anniversary celebration of the original Woodstock in 1969 by organiser Michael Lang, has been up in the air since original its financial partner, Dentsu Aegis’ investment arm Amplifi Live, pulled out in April. Upon Amplifi’s withdrawal, Dentsu reps declared they had unilaterally cancelled the festival, though a New York judge ruled the following month the event would still be allowed to go ahead.

“We are in discussions with another venue to host Woodstock 50”

Lang and partners secured a new financial financial backer, in the form of investment bank Oppenheimer and Co., in May, though Woodstock 50 still lacks the mass-gathering permit from local authorities needed to ahead, according to Rolling Stone.

Additionally, tickets are not yet on sale, despite the festival being just over two months away.

Despite the latest setbacks, festival co-organiser Gregory Peck is upbeat Woodstock 50 will go ahead as planned. “We confirm that we will not be moving forward with Watkins Glen as a venue for Woodstock 50,” says Peck in a statement. “We are in discussions with another venue to host Woodstock 50 on August 16th–18th and look forward to sharing the new location when tickets go on sale in the coming weeks.”

Acts booked to perform include the Killers, Jay-Z, Miley Cyrus, Chance the Rapper, Imagine Dragons and 1969 performers Santana and Dead and Company.

 


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Woodstock 50: Can the show go on?

In a week that most festival organisers would want to forget, the problems faced by Woodstock 50 appear to be mounting. In addition to having lost its primary investor, the anniversary festival has now lost its production partner, and some reports suggest that artist contracts may be void.

After the event’s investor, Dentsu, withdrew its support on Monday and announced that it was cancelling the event, Woodstock founder Michael Lang voiced his commitment to going ahead with the festival, stating the event would not “be derailed by shortsighted partners” who “don’t have the right to cancel it.”

But according to Billboard, artists’ contracts for the festival were drawn up with Amplifi Live, the holding company controlled by Dentsu. Following Dentsu’s decision to withdraw its support from Woodstock, several agencies are now claiming that those contracts are void.

Yesterday, Woodstock’s production partner – events and marketing specialists Superfly which co-promotes Bonnaroo and Outside Lands – withdraw from the event.

“Following the decision of Dentsu to cancel the event, we [Superfly] will no longer be participating in ongoing related activities.”

“The producers of the Woodstock 50th anniversary festival hired Superfly to leverage our expertise as veteran event producers to manage festival operations, a role that aligned with our mission of creating shared experiences that build community,” says a Superfly spokesperson.

“Throughout our engagement our team provided counsel and recommendation on the necessary elements required to produce a safe and first-class experience. Following the decision of one of our clients, Dentsu, to cancel the event, we will no longer be participating in ongoing related activities.”

Amid the mounting speculation about Woodstock 50’s viability, Lang has now secured the services of trial lawyer Marc E. Kasowitz, who previously represented US president Donald Trump. But he remains officially upbeat about Woodstock still going ahead, telling Pollstar, “None of the artists have pulled out,” and “Everybody’s pulling for us, and it’s kind of inspiring.”

More to no doubt follow…

 


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Vevo’s Stacy Moscatelli joins Superfly

Events and marketing company Superfly, the co-promoter of US festivals including Bonnaroo, Outside Lands and, most recently, Grandoozy, has appointed 20-year marketing veteran Stacy Moscatelli as executive vice-president of brand marketing.

In her new role, Moscatelli (pictured) will oversee all consumer marketing for the Superfly brand, whose corporate clients include Bose, Yahoo!, Samsung, Google, Asus and Pabst Blue Ribbon beer.

“As we continue to expand our offering and portfolio of experiences, we’re looking for expert talent to support our growth,” says Jonathan Mayers, co-founder of Superfly. “Having worked with Stacy over the years at Adult Swim, we know first hand the ways in which her creative thinking can transform brands and we’re excited to have her joining our leadership team.”

“I’m thrilled to be joining this passionate and creative team”

Moscatelli was most recently head of consumer marketing at music video platform Vevo, while previous career experience includes 13 years at Turner Broadcasting/Cartoon Network.

“As a client, I worked with Superfly for many years and together we brought a number of incredible projects to life,” she comments. “I’ve always been impressed by Superfly’s imaginative approach to creating flawlessly executed experiences.”

“I’m thrilled to be joining this passionate and creative team and look forward to elevating the Superfly brand even further.”

 


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