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Phil Rodriguez: Reopening a “great opportunity” for new acts

As the worst year in the history of the live music business finally nears its end, IQ caught up with several industry leaders ahead of the new year, asking for their predictions for 2021, as well as the lessons they can take forward from 2020.

Here, Phil Rodriguez of Move Concerts, South America’s biggest independent promoter, speaks about the challenges that lie ahead, including the opportunities for emerging and local artists, and why cooperation will be important than ever on live music’s road to recovery…


IQ: This year has been difficult, to put it mildly, but have there been any positive aspects you are taking forward from this annus horribilis?
PR: Aside from spending more time with family… business-wise, it was a power kick in the ass that made us all look at costs, reinvent ourselves, etc. We got into the streaming business with LivePass Play and expanded our management roster.

When the “curtain opens” again, we will have more tools in our toolbox and run leaner and meaner.

How has coronavirus vaccine news changed the conversations you are having with colleagues, agents, artists, venues, etc.?
Everyone I have spoken with is more positive. The vaccine was the thing everyone was waiting for. Finally hope, and a better idea of timelines.

Livestreamed shows have shown that fans will pay to see their favourite acts remotely. How do you imagine this technology might develop when regular touring activity resumes?
The shut down of live events made the streaming business grow and become a new asset in our business. It will evolve and find its niche once live events come back – marketing, special launches, tour end (or start), streams, etc.

What advice or encouragement can you give to those who were hoping to break through in 2020, knowing that the market is going to be overcrowded with onsales when the industry gets back to work?
The upside for many artists is that they had over a year off the road to write, record, write, record. When they go out, in many cases, it will not be with just one or two singles out. It will be three-plus deep. That will help.

But be careful with dates/routings and be clever with what extra value your show offers to the punters. Is it priced right? Is the show a must-see? There will be a tsunami of tours!

“Moving forward with new routings and tours, we better be speaking with each other!”

Do you think Latin America’s return to business will be a different experience from that elsewhere?
The lockdowns in most of LatAm were very strict. Folks are inching to go out.

LatAm markets will open sooner – but with local artists. In fact, Brazil started having socially distanced concerts in Sao Paulo this month (50% of capacity up to a max of 2,000 with social distancing, seated). Rio, as of 1 November, can have up to 50% of capacity seated and socially distance, Buenos Aires has theatres opened with 30% capacity and socially distanced. Chile starts with socially distanced shows end of the month, and Uruguay never locked down and has live events at 30% of capacity. Only Peru, Colombia, Puerto Rico and Central America are still without live events.

The front end of the ‘opening’ of concerts around the world will be with local artists. A great opportunity for them to take advantage of and be front and centre.

The way various rival firms have cooperated and collaborated for the common good during the pandemic has been impressive. What hopes do you have that closer industry bonds can continue, post-Covid?
It has always been the smart thing to do. I have always felt that there is a sense of community in our business – no matter how warped we may seem at times!

We just went through a storm like never before. No one in our business was immune. No one will forget this black swan and, also, who stood solid in the storm.

Plus, moving forward with new routings, tours, etc., we better be speaking with each other!

What do you think the biggest challenges are going to be for Live 2.0, and how do you think industry leaders can best guide the business as things reopen?
Everyone will come back wanting to make up for the time lost and costs incurred. This should not cloud our decisions.

Finally, are there any bad habits the industry had that you are hoping might disappear when normality returns?
Yes, high ticket prices! We better look at ticket prices carefully.

There are more reasons than ever before: many people lost their jobs or businesses, others burned through their cash reserves, many currencies devalued during the pandemic, and there will be a lot of options for the consumer – from tours, to sports, to travel, etc. All the things most folks gave up for over a year.

 


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ICM’s Robert Gibbs promoted to head of department

Robert Gibbs has been promoted to head of contemporary music at ICM Partners, after 14 years at the company.

Gibbs moved from CAA to ICM in 2006 and was made a partner at the company in 2016.

His current roster includes artists such as J.Cole, PartyNextDoor and Ari Lennox and his work has earned him a spot on the Billboard Power 100 list for two years running.

“Robert is a fabulous agent, individual and an impactful leader. I am very proud of him and all that he has accomplished in his fourteen years at ICM,” said CEO, Chris Silbermann.

“We began discussing this well-deserved promotion last October and but for the pandemic, this would have happened sooner. He has earned this promotion with sustained levels of excellence in all aspects of the job and makes our organization stronger. I am thrilled for him and us.”

Robert Gibbs says: “ICM has built the best culture of any major agency and I am proud to take a leadership role within this organization.

“We have been fortifying the department even during the pandemic”

“We are the last and only major agency solely dedicated to the representation business and it shows in the manner in which we work for artists to achieve their dreams. We have been building and fortifying the department even during the pandemic and our contemporary music team is one I am proud to now lead.”

ICM’s international touring business includes artists such as Khalid, J. Cole, Migos, Good Charlotte, Charlie Wilson, Limp Bizkit, Sinead O’Connor, Suicideboys and Boyz II Men.

Other ICM clients include actors Samuel L. Jackson, Sir Patrick Stewart, John Travolta and Christoph Waltz, comedians Ellen DeGeneres, Chris Rock and Jerry Seinfeld, filmmaker Spike Lee and wrestler-actor John Cena. In addition to LA, the agency – formerly International Creative Management – also has offices in London, New York and Washington DC.

Earlier this year, ICM allied with Primary Talent International, one of London’s last major independent booking agencies.

Primary – home to the 1975, Stormzy and Dave – is retaining its name and team while benefitting from LA-based ICM’s “global scale”. While ICM’s international touring business will get a boost from the allyship.

ICM agent Yves Pierre, who represents artists including Lil Yachty, talked about navigating the world of livestreaming and why people must “put themselves on the line” to achieve a more diverse industry for IQ‘s Tales from Covid series.

 


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Tales from Covid: Yves Pierre, ICM Partners

As the coronavirus crisis continues to exert its impact on the live industry, IQ builds on its Tales from Covid series to discuss the opportunities for change that have started to emerge from lockdown life.

Ahead of this week’s IQ Focus session, Beyond Rhetoric: Race in Live Music, IQ catches up with panellist and ICM Partners agent Yves Pierre (Migos, Lil Yachty, Baby Rose, City Girls), to talk about the urgent steps the industry needs to take to tackle systemic racism and the new revenue models and opportunities that have emerged from the coronavirus shutdown.

 


IQ:It’s been a really tough few months for the live business. What has changed from a business point of view over the past few months?
YP:My role, in its essence, hasn’t really changed. I still offer the same service – looking for new business opportunities and getting creative. It requires the same mindset. Although the format is different, we are still tasked with presenting our clients with the best information possible.

The difference is, obviously, that we are going from live models to the various virtual platforms that are coming out now. We are having to explore different pieces of technology and need to be really well versed in everything to understand what we stand to make and all the different revenue avenues, such as merch packages and other bundles.

What we need is to develop an accurate strategy with those livestreaming companies and work with different promoters on that side of things to work out what we consider the business model to be.

“We need to factor in these [virtual] opportunities as an added piece of income that we never would have normally accessed”

Do you foresee virtual shows becoming a revenue-driver for acts in the long term?
I think there will always be a place for virtual events after this but maybe in not quite so prevalent a way as now. There’s no denying, though, that we need to factor in these opportunities as an added piece of income that we never would have normally accessed.

There’s no perfect model for online events yet. YouTube and Fortnite have been an early frontrunners, but we are going to see everything level up.

I am still figuring out the basics to judge how much people are willing to pay for various online events, how many people certain platforms can withstand, which kinds of formats require large overheads. It’s all still being tweaked and we are certainly not in a position yet to say which is best.

An interesting format I have tried with one of my artists, Lil Yachty, was an online paint and chat with a group at a university. This took him out of his comfort zone and allowed one on one engagement with fans – and it proved really interactive.

When live shows do return, what do you foresee as the main challenges?
I think it is going to be the mental aspect we’re going to have to work around. As an agent, I need to try and think as a consumer and think how comfortable I’d be in enclosed spaces with lots of people.

Mentally, this situation is taking a toll and the fear of there being another wave, and what that will mean, is massive. We are really going to have to step outside of this and look at the perspective of the consumer to figure out whether they’re ready.

There’s also the economic aspect – how much are people going to be able to pay for a show? A lot of people have lost their jobs, or been laid off and furloughed. There is a big economic element to think about, but we will have to deal with the emotional side first.

“Any large struggle and conflict can be the birth of change, and you’re not using your time wisely if this is not the case”

How do you foresee the industry recovering from this?
Sadly, it’s just going to take time. You could implement all the safeguarding measures you want, but time is what we need. I believe we can look this as a chance to reset, rather than view it as a loss. We have to be willing to pivot and try and figure out what works and what doesn’t.

The business absolutely will change after this. We’ve already seen the beginning of Live Nation’s plans for the future, of course. Everyone is going to have to take a step back and reevaluate what things will look like.

We have realised content is king now. More than ever, we have to focus on what the artists are going to go for.

The key will be finding a way to engage with fans that aren’t in a venue. Being there in real life is not the be all and end. There is a world of opportunity online, we’ve realised that you have to look at all possible options.

I’ve certainly found this to be a great opportunity to look at different ways of doing things. Any large struggle and conflict can be the birth of change, and you’re not using your time wisely if this is not the case.

One push for change in the industry has been highlighted in particular in recent weeks, what now needs to be done to tackle racism and increase diversity in the live business?
There is a myriad of things on several levels that must be done. Heads of departments and those with the power in this industry need to partake in actual engagement with community. There is no value in giving money when people have no clue what money is used for. There needs to be real conversations with communities or advocates for those communities to obtain real information on where to donate.

Partnering with local communities will also help people gain the understanding of what it is like to live with discrimination.

“We need to able to hold those in charge accountable, and for them to be willing to be held accountable”

Within the industry there are so many examples of discrimation towards Afro-American clients and workers. For example, the security measures that are taken against hip hop artists would not be implemented for other acts. This is unconscious bias. Some venues ban hip-hop completely – it’s a bias, and allowing that to happen is a bias. There is no sensitivity to what that feels like as an agent and as a client. All these things play a part in the problem.

As well as community engagement, representation of Black people at executive level is needed. Having one Black person on an executive board isn’t enough. It feels like an exception, and that’s not parity. We constantly have to raise ourselves to a diff standard to our non African-American colleagues. We have to commit to making sure there are more of us in a role and that goes for all people of colour in business in general.

We need equity in more than name and, until we get there, then there’s a problem. We are in a position where this is something that has to be led by African-Americans in these spaces, but our colleagues have to work with us. We can demand these things but, at end of the day, they are implemented by someone else. So we need a concrete commitment by these leading companies.

Are you hopeful that now is the time for long-lasting positive change?
I really hope so, but we also have to see more evidence. People have to be putting themselves on the line. This isn’t for us – in the long run, it’s not about us. It’s about the people around us and those coming after us.

We need these things to be implemented now. We need to able to hold those in charge accountable, and for them to be willing to be held accountable. Not wanting to feel guilty is not enough, and we have to be clear that words and stated intentions are not enough.

We need change and we need to be part of the process we are to achieve this.

 


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Tales from Covid: Nadia Solovieva, SAV Entertainment

Tales from Covid, IQ’s 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 fifth interview, with AEG Presents UK co-CEO Steve Homer, IQ catches up with Nadia Solovieva, co-founder and CEO of Moscow-based SAV Entertainment, to talk about her government lobbying, the future for artist fees and the resilience of live entertainment.

 


IQ: What is the current situation for SAV Entertainment?
NS: Most of our shows are being rescheduled to next year. A very few are also moving to the fall, but we are not sure whether they will go ahead.

Have you had any help from the government in Russia?
Our government hasn’t done anything yet to help the industry as such. They have introduced measures to help small- and medium-sized businesses in general in industries that they consider the most affected, but those measures don’t help us at all.

We are in discussions with the government, trying to reach an agreement that maintains that all tickets for rescheduled concerts are valid for the new dates, meaning we don’t have to issue refunds.

For those that are cancelled, we currently have 30 days to issue refunds, which is very difficult as we are still under quarantine and will remain so until 12 May. We are working to prolong this period, but nothing has been decided yet. It is proving to be a very long and painful process.

We have also introduced the idea of offering a voucher or certificate for fans to exchange for another show if they want. It’s anyone’s guess as to whether this will be put into legislation. The president has heard us and advised the ministry of culture to work something out, so I hope this will materialise, otherwise it will be a complete disaster. Ticket sales completely stopped after 15 March, when it was declared that there were to be no live events at all. Since then, of all my 16 or 18 shows, we have sold maybe 10 tickets.

Nothing at all is selling at the moment. This goes not only for rescheduled events but even for shows that were initially planned for the autumn. People have just stopped buying as there is so much uncertainty and fear now. Live entertainment is not their priority.

“Nobody can predict such a situation and having a body representing the industry is necessary”

When do you expect shows to restart again and how are you preparing for the recovery process?
If the situation stabilises and is good in summer, then we will see shows in the autumn. I am pretty sure the summer will be dead. I hope that by late autumn, they will allow shows. If not, then in March, as there is generally no business here anyway in January and February.

Personally, I am preparing by having discussions with the government about new legislation. This takes up all my time.

Nobody can predict such a situation and having a body representing the industry is necessary, so everyone with the same business interests can work towards common goals.

In Russia, the live entertainment industry is divided into two parts – government-run theatres, and the rest of us. These theatres – there are about 400 in Moscow alone – survive on government budgets and they get help. The rest of us must stick together.

What obstacles will the live industry in Russia face when it starts to reopen?
The situation is very difficult. For example, in Moscow, the mayor is very reluctant to reopen business for now and live events will be the last to be allowed.

Probably, when events do reopen, they will be only up to a certain number of people. Either way, the open-air season is over by the end of September, so we will miss that. There will be a clash with sporting events too in the autumn, as all venues are used for sports too, so we will have clashing dates to contend with as well for next year.

“What I am sure of is that live entertainment will never die”

Do you foresee any long-term changes for the live business?
Not just in Russia, but in general across the live industry, the situation as we know it will change. Over the last few years, we have seen a tremendous increase in artist fees, expenses and ticket prices. Everyone will have to reconsider, as people will not have the money for this. Along with unemployment, a lot of small- and medium-sized enterprises will go bankrupt and that’s going to affect young people especially – our main clientele. Some people will also be afraid to go to mass events. No-one expects a pandemic to come along in their lifetime.

It is going to be really difficult financially, but we have to find ways to continue. I started SAV in 1987, under the Soviet Union. Since then, we have survived so many crises, but this is by far the most difficult and unusual, and we are still figuring it out.

Never before has live entertainment been banned. In the past, we’ve had economic and political crises to contend with, but this is a health issue and it concerns every person. The oil crisis is another blow to the financial situation at the moment too. Plus there’s this terrible fear and uncertainty.

What I am sure of is that live entertainment will never die. We will survive, that’s for sure – how many promoters will survive is a big question mark. Those with some savings can probably survive, but for how long, we don’t know.

The strongest will survive. That’s not what I wish, but it’s the reality of life. I don’t think going online will help a lot, as it’s a totally different consumption type, but demand for that type of thing will be bigger.

We haven’t done anything on the livestreaming side yet, as there’s been a lot to reschedule and agreements to reach. We will think of something, though – now is a perfect time to invent something new.

 


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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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Tales from Covid: Herman Schueremans, Rock Werchter

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 third interview, with Kilimanjaro Live founder and CEO Stuart Galbraith, IQ catches up with Rock Werchter organiser and Live Nation Belgium CEO Herman Schueremans, who speaks on government response to the crisis, and why it’ll take more than coronavirus to kill demand for live music…

 


IQ: How are you preparing for the live music industry’s eventual recovery?
HS: I am no psychic and I don’t yet have a crystal ball. But we’ll all be charting where markets are reopening, as touring will follow.

This has been a challenging time, but we’ve been around for a while and we’ve successfully dealt with curveballs before.

Do you expect the public to respond when concerts/festivals go back on sale?
Fans want to be at shows enjoying live music. We’ve already seen demand for the onsales for shows being scheduled the other side of the ban. Coronavirus won’t alter the love of live music.

Have you learnt any positive lessons from the touring shutdown?
I’ve really enjoyed seeing the way artists have taken what the situation has thrown at them – and the time off the road it has forced on them – and used technology to connect with their fans across the world.

Live Nation created a ‘Live from Home’ platform to help our artists do exactly that. And we’ve also seen many artists rally around industry relief efforts like Crew Nation. There’s been incredible support all around.

“I’ve really enjoyed seeing artists … use technology to connect with their fans across the world”

How do you rate the government response to the crisis, in comparison to the industry’s?
The Belgian parliament agreed to provide €1 billion to tackle the consequences of coronavirus, and we will work with them to ensure this money reaches those who need it most in our market.

I feel like I have been on a permanent conference call for weeks, with colleagues across Europe and in the US and with those in my market. It’s never been more clear that we are in a global business. We all know we have to work together.

Finally, what are your main takeaways from this crisis?
That we adapt fast. That we can deal with curveballs. That we are resilient.

And that artists and fans will always find a way to connect.

 


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Tales from Covid: Stuart Galbraith, Kilimanjaro Live

Ahead of the next issue of the magazine – which features concert business leaders offering their predictions for the industry’s post-coronavirus recovery – IQ is running a series of Q&As online looking at how our panel of experts are weathering the current crisis, as well as their forecasts for the months ahead.

Following the second Tales from Covid with Live Nation’s chairman of international music and the Nordics, Thomas Johansson, IQ catches up with Kilimanjaro Live founder and CEO Stuart Galbraith for a wide-ranging chat on vouchers, recessions, Zoom, and the importance of industry cooperation…

 


IQ: What’s the greatest professional lesson you’ve learned from the pandemic so far?
SG: That there’s no such thing now as normality or precedent. We’ve been having conversations that cut across any normal relationship – whether it’s with a manager, an agent, an ad agency, venues – and asked to do things way outside of what the contracts say. And we’re also asking, because needs must.

What has been very pleasant is that, with one or two exceptions, everyone’s been mucking in…

You’re also a member of the Concert Promoters Association…
Yes, and it’s certainly made me realise the huge importance of associations and representative bodies. Government don’t want to talk to individual commercial organisations, but they will talk to the CPA, AIF, UK Music, etc. ­– and there’s been huge cooperation between [the associations] as well. Because it affects everybody.

This situation is going to affect us all for months, and potentially years. I think there will be common ground into 2021, at least.

“A refund window extension … would literally enable dozens of small and mid-size events to survive”

What else has changed for you during lockdown?
Well, for a start, we’ve all discovered Zoom, which I’d never heard of a month ago. So that’s good for us with staff meetings – not only the core staff who have been kept on, but also those who are furloughed.

When do you think the recovery might start, or is too early to say?
Realistically, we’re going to lose everything we have through June­­–August. Then, I think, there’ll be smaller events taking place in September, and major events from late October to early November. And because the [spring/summer] sales window has completely gone, I think you’re going to see a lot of shows that postpone until next year.

What changes might we see long term across the industry?
Our industry was in boom off the back of a strong global economy, which is now heading for recession, or even a depression. People will have much less money, and they’re going to be focused on spending that on food and mortgages rather than concert tickets.

So we’re going to have be very careful on the risks we can take in the near future.

“We’re going to have be very careful on the risks we can take in the near future”

Anything else?
I also think you’re going to see many iterations of voucher schemes rather than issuing refunds. [In the UK], we’ve been working with government to change the consumer regulations to try extend the refund window up to a year.

We are now having conversations with them for guidance on whether we can issue vouchers, like in many other countries in Europe. A refund window extension or voucher scheme would literally enable dozens of small and mid-size events to survive, because it will give them the ability to delay that cashflow pinch point and continue operating throughout this crisis.

How do you feel about the UK government response to the situation?
Although it was fairly chaotic to start with, the line of communication that we, as a sector, have had into government has been very good. UK Music have been brilliant in leading that ­– [acting CEO] Tom Kiehl has done a great job – and so have people like Julian Bird at Solt [Society of London Theatre].

In that first week of chaos we literally had four calls with either cabinet ministers or secretaries of state, and they listened and have taken action. They’ve helped us with the loans, business rates relief, the furlough scheme ­– now we just need support with a refund window extension.

 


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Tales from Covid: Thomas Johansson, Live Nation

Ahead of the next issue of the magazine – which features concert business leaders offering their predictions for the industry’s post-coronavirus recovery – IQ is running a series of Q&As online looking at how our panel of experts are weathering the current crisis, as well as their forecasts for the months ahead.

Following the inaugural Tales from Covid with Australian veteran Michael Chugg, Live Nation’s chairman of international music and the Nordics, Thomas Johansson, chats working from home, Crew Nation and why live music will be a “tonic” after months in lockdown…

 


IQ: What professional lessons have you taken away from the Covid-19 outbreak?
TJ: My key takeaway has been to witness the outstanding dedication and hard work of our staff and promoters, who have responded to this unprecedented situation with flexibility and aplomb.

Live Nation in particular has stepped up with Crew Nation, a global fund to support the live infrastructure and the essential parts of our business who are experiencing a tough time at the moment. It makes me very proud to be a part of Live Nation when we all pull together in times of need.

Also, anyone who said home working doesn’t work was wrong!

“Live music is a major tonic and the whole world needs that”

When do you think the recovery might start, and what shape will it take?
It looks likely that the recovery will follow the pattern of the spread of the virus, with Asia opening up first, and Europe next, hopefully over the summer. Of course, we are planning for the other outcomes, too.

I’ve every faith in our business. It’s resilient and adaptable. I’m pretty sure that demand for live music will be stronger than ever when we get there.

What challenges do you think the industry will face in getting back up to speed?
We’ll need to bear disposable income in mind, of course, but we also need to remember that live music is a major tonic and the whole world needs that.

I have immense faith in our fans.

 


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Tales from Covid: Michael Chugg Q&A

The impact that the coronavirus outbreak is having on the industry is plain to see, but the road to recovery still remains somewhat unpaved. As governments around the world crack down on the spread of the virus, the return to some kind of business as usual is looming. But just what will that look like and just how hard will the vestiges of the virus be for the industry to shake?

IQ is catching up with major industry players to determine how they are coping with the drastic changes to both professional and personal life, the path they will take to help business recover from the crisis and the long-term changes that we can expect to see.

Up first is veteran Australian promoter Michael Chugg, founder of Chugg Entertainment and co-founder of Frontier Touring, who reflects on the resilience of the Australian live community, the potential pushback on international touring in the country and his love for British crime dramas…

 


IQ: What lessons have you learned from the coronavirus outbreak?
MC:
I have learned that taking care of one’s health with attention to personal cleanliness and home environment is a priority and a major helper of immunity.

What do you expect recovery to look like, both for Chugg Entertainment and the wider industry?
The Australian and state governments are very much on the ball after a slow start. With the border closures and great campaign to the public on how to manage ourselves in mandatory quarantine, together with the community social distancing efforts, we are seeing a drop in new cases daily which hopefully will continue.

We are optimistic that Australian live music events and other public gatherings could be back as early as October or November, but it could be as late as January. However, I think international touring could be back here a lot later than that. If we manage to clean up Australia, the government may be reluctant to take the risk on international visitors bringing the virus back to us.

“We are optimistic that Australian live music events could be back as early as October or November, but it could be as late as January”

How do you think this will change the industry in the long term?
We are very worried about the long-term effect on the hundreds of companies involved in the production, presentation and running of tours, festivals and events, as well as the thousands and thousands of contractors, crews, security and other workers who lost all their income immediately when public gatherings were banned.

The doubt about when or if live entertainment can recommence is causing a lot of stress and depression worldwide, and I’m sure the industry will be a lot more cautious and careful about saturating the marketplace from now on.

First the bushfires and now Covid-19, the Australian live industry has had a tough few months – how has the industry coped as a whole?
It has been a tough six months and to cop corona on top of the bushfire season, which is right up there with the most disastrous fires ever, I think everyone is coping well. My partner and friend Michael Gudinski’s calmness and leadership has helped to keep the entire Frontier/Chugg family together and has been a great vibe for many people in the industry.

My partner and friend Michael Gudinski’s calmness and leadership has helped to keep the entire Frontier/Chugg family together

Organisations like Support Act, Sound Of Silence, I Lost My Gig, CrewCare and many others have done an amazing job dealing with many individuals and families in need.

This week, the federal government – who had already been offering tax breaks, freeze on loans and mortage payments, no evictions by landlords and other economic measures – came up with their JobKeeper Payment, which is a AU$130 billion (€72.4bn) fund basically covering the equivalent of 50% of all Australian salaries for the next six months. This is taking an incredible amount of pressure off everyone.

Finally, how are you keeping busy in self-isolation?
Being a lover of books, movies and music, there is plenty to keep one occupied. I am mad for British crime and mystery shows, so there is a ton of them. I am spending a lot of time on video calls through Zoom with the teams at Frontier/Chugg Entertainment and Chugg music, as well as with my family. I also loving cooking and now I’m able to do it every day.

 


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