ESNS announces keynote with Dua Lipa’s manager
Dutch conference and showcase festival Eurosonic Noorderslag (ESNS) has announced a keynote interview with Wendy Ong, Dua Lipa’s manager and US president of Tap Music and Tap Records.
Ong will be in conversation with artist manager and board member of Music Managers Forum (MMF) Netherlands, Lijne Kreupeling, discussing the evolving profession of modern artist management.
As president of Tap Management and Tap Records US, Ong oversees all US-related management and label activities for a diverse roster of artists including Lana Del Rey, Dua Lipa, Ellie Goulding, Hailee Steinfeld, and more.
The US music manager and executive is the latest addition for the 35th edition of the Groningen-based festival, which will take place digitally between 13 to 16 January.
The digital edition will consist of Eurosonic, the showcase festival for emerging European talent; an online edition of the Music Moves Europe Talent Awards ceremony; the celebration of native talent, Noorderslag; and this year’s conference, titled Road to Recovery.
Ong oversees all US-related management and label activities for artists including Lana Del Rey, Ellie Goulding and Hailee Steinfeld
Highlights of the Road to Recovery programme include:
- Keynote Steve Strange (X-Ray Touring) with Michael Chugg (Michael Chugg Entertainment).
- Successful Covid festival formats, moderated by IQ’s Gordon Masson.
- Stop touting in Europe with Scumeck Sabottka (MCT Agentur).
- Tom Windish and Mike Malak in conversation with Cherie Hu.
- Keynote with Neil Warnock (UTA’s head of global music touring) with Greg Parmley (ILMC, IFF, IQ).
Other confirmed speakers for the conference include: Annabella Coldrick (Music Managers Forum), Beverley Whitrick (Music Venues Trust), Claire O’Neill (A Greener Festival), Eric van Eerdenburg (Lowlands/MOJO), Fruzsina Szep (Goodlive), Hannah Shgbola (Echo Location), Helen Sildna (Tallinn Music Week), Helen Smith (Impala), Henrick Bondo (Roskilde Festival), Jess Partridge (Face-value European Alliance for Ticketing), Keith Harris (Keith Harris Music Ltd), Michal Kascak (Pohoda Festival). See the full conference programme here.
Tickets for Eurosonic Noorderslag 2021 are available at a discounted price of €50, which includes access to the digital environment with live streams, on-demand panels, keynotes, sessions and showcases, access to a networking platform and database. The showcase part of the festival will be completely free.
Studio 2054: Backstage at the biggest live stream yet
Last weekend, Dua Lipa became the latest global megastar to dip a roller skate into the livestreaming water with her first ticketed virtual show, Studio 2054.
Described as a ‘“kaleidoscopic, rocket-fuelled journey through time, space, mirror balls, roller discos, bucket hats, belting beats, throbbing basslines and an absolute slam dunk of the best times in global club culture”, Studio 2054 eschewed the computer-generated digital FX seen at previous similar events for a neon extravaganza that strutted its way through multiple physical spaces in a specially constructed set at London’s Printworks.
Featuring guest appearances from the likes of Kylie Minogue, Miley Cyrus and Sir Elton John, the 28 November show is believed to have attracted the biggest-ever audience for a paid live stream, with over five million people tuning in live, according to a post-event release put out by organisers.
But what turned out to the biggest streaming event to date wasn’t originally an easy sell to the star involved, says Lipa’s manager, Ben Mawson of Tap Music. “Initially, Dua told me, ‘I don’t want to do one,’” recalls Mawson, who originally pitched Lipa the show that became Studio 2054 shortly after another Tap client, Ellie Goulding, wrapped up her debut live stream, The Brightest Blue Experience, in late August. “She said, ‘I’m waiting for live to come back.’
“I told her to think of it like a movie, or a live music video, and that captured her interest. And in the end she really enjoyed the experience, being back performing live.”
“There’s a lot of cost that goes into into explaining to an audience that it’s not just another live stream”
For the artist, meanwhile, preparations for Studio 2054 began in earnest a few weeks before the (non-socially distanced) show, when Lipa formed a ‘bubble’ with her dancers and other live performers, spending two weeks in a “quarantine house” to ensure the event’s Covid safety.
Tap estimates that 5m is a conservative estimate for the total viewers, with over 2m people tuning in in China alone. Another major hotspot was India, where Tap and livestreaming partner LiveNow struck a deal with domestic music streaming platform Gaana to provide the show to its subscribers, of whom 95,000 accessed the stream on Friday night alone, and numbers have grown since.
In China, meanwhile, a deal was done with another local streaming giant, Tencent, with fans able to watch the stream via QQ Music, Kugou, Kuwo and WeSing.
“Unless you count pre-internet events like Live Aid, I think we may well be the most-viewed live stream to date,” says Mawson.
Total ‘hard’ ticket sales for Studio 2054 current stand at around 284,000, although LiveNow is still selling on-demand tickets for the show, so that number will likely go up in the coming days.
The final general-admission tickets for the live event were priced at £13.99/€13.99, while catch-up passes are available for a discounted £7.50 until Sunday (6 December).
Tom Middleditch, chief product officer of LiveNow, says it’s crucial that ticketed streamed events like Studio 2054 go off without a hitch. “When people are paying for tickets, the experience has to be good,” he explains. “Livestreaming can always go wrong, but this was about as seamless as it can get.”
“When people are paying for tickets, the experience has to be good”
“I was terrified of the stream freezing,” adds Mawson. “I’ve tuned into some of the other big live streams and a few had major problems. Dua places huge importance on her fans’ experience, so it was key we didn’t get any complaints from users, and we didn’t.”
Middleditch reveals that, at its peak, the broadcast had viewers in 150 countries, with LiveNow’s platform localised towards fans depending on where they were in the world. “I have a lot of experience in sports, so I’m used to high peaks,” he says, “but when you have so many people [watching simultaneously all across the world] it’s a different challenge.”
For Mawson, it was important that Studio 2045 offered a fan experience beyond that of a basic livestreamed concert, as The Brightest Blue Experience – filmed inside the Edwardian V&A Museum in London – had in August.
“It’s hard because you’ve got to get balance right between the scale of idea and the costs,” explains Mawson. “You can’t just say to people, ‘Your favourite artist is doing a performance online,’ because everyone’s doing it, and they’re free.
“The model now has to almost like a TV special, with creative and marketing behind it – there’s a lot of cost that goes into into educating and explaining to an audience that it is an experience that they’re going to want to see, rather than just another live stream.”
The show’s marketing was helped no end by Lipa herself, Mawson says, who was tireless in her promotional efforts in the run-up to Studio 2054. “She kept putting trailers up, announcing guests… It was a very good marketing roll-out that helped to get the word out there.”
“The most important thing was that we didn’t do a show that’s ‘just’ a live show”
“The most important thing, as a manager, was that we didn’t do a show that’s ‘just’ a live show – it wasn’t just a concert in an arena that you can’t go to because of Covid,” Mawson continues. “The focus was on doing something different, and letting fans know we’re bringing something new to the market.”
Equally key to the show’s success was getting the price point right – something both Mawson and Middleditch believe the Studio 2054 team achieved, and which is borne out by the number of people who tuned in. “I’ve seen other shows priced much higher, and that affected their viewer numbers,” says Mawson. “Dua was the right pricing.”
“No one complained about the price, which is very unusual for this kind of event,” Middleditch adds.
While undoubtedly a successful second effort for the Tap-LiveNow partnership, Mawson says there’s still room for improvement with future live streams, noting that while the show “got massive visibility” in certain territories, there were some that underperformed. “I want to get better at the international thing,” he says, given that “Dua is the number-one star in the world”.
“There’s a lot music can learn from sport” when it comes to realising the full potential of the livestreaming model, adds Middleditch. “[Live streams are] never going to replace live – seeing something live is better than watching it on any device – but these kind of events provide so many opportunities for artists and fans.” Whether it’s instead of, or an addition to, an in-person live show, “people will be able to see artists live that they never could previously,” he concludes.
Tap Management launches sports venture
Artist management company Tap Music has launched Tap Sports, a new business offering athlete management and branding and entertainment services to the sports industry.
Established by Ben Mawson, co-founder of Tap, whose music roster includes the likes of Lana Del Rey, Dua Lipa, Ellie Goulding and Dermot Kennedy, Tap Sports will focus on two main activities: offering consultancy and creative marketing services for sports clubs and sports entities, and brand and commercial management for athletes.
Initial Tap Sports clients include English football club Leeds United and Leeds/England player Kalvin Phillips, while Del Rey will record ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ for an upcoming documentary on Liverpool FC’s title-winning 2020 season.
Leading the new company is managing director Zoe Prothero, formerly of Coca-Cola (where she worked with Fifa and Uefa), Fuse (FA Premier League) and Formula E, with Carl Fysh, Lottie Lander and Thom Denson handling publicity.
“I am excited to launch Tap Sports with an incredible team alongside me, who all lead their respective industries,” comments Mawson.
“There is much synergy between entertainment and sports and an often-missed opportunity to grow audiences”
“We hold the belief that there is much synergy between entertainment and sports and an often-missed opportunity to grow audiences worldwide. We want to work closely with the best agents and best players and help them build their profile and commercial value.
“We will work strategically on the brand endorsement side, rather than just transactionally, and help players become cultural icons, building brands with a reach far beyond the pitch. I’m especially excited to be working with Kalvin Phillips, an incredible player at such an exciting time in his career.”
Angus Kinnear, chief executive of Leeds United FC, adds: “Following our promotion to the Premier League we have many new and exciting opportunities to engage and grow our fanbase across the UK and internationally. We look forward to working with the team at Tap to help us deliver against these off-field ambitions.”
In addition to Tap Management and Tap Sports, Tap Music comprises a record label, digital and publishing divisions, and a specialist electronic business, launched last year.
Tap Music to raise £100k for mental health charities
Tap Music, whose management arm looks after the likes of Dua Lipa, Lana Del Rey and Ellie Goulding, has announced plans to raise £100,000 for mental health charities.
The global music group, which comprises Tap Management, Tap Music Publishing and Tap records, is fundraising for peer-to-peer online charity My Black Dog and suicide prevention charity Campaign Against Living Miserably (Calm).
“After the death of two close friends from suicide within weeks of each other earlier this year, we decided we wanted to do something to help awareness and funds for these two wonderful charities that do such incredible work saving lives,” says Tap Music co-founder Ben Mawson.
“I was shocked to discover how prevalent suicide is – an average of over 100 deaths/week last year in the UK – particularly tragic because so many of these deaths must be avoidable it the right help was present.”
Artists including Dua Lipa and Professor Green echo the company’s call for action.
“It’s painfully ironic that music has such power to make us happy but musicians themselves can often suffer disproportionately from mental health issues,” comments Lipa. “I have benefitted so much from this industry but I see around me every day what others can suffer: the fear of failure, loneliness and the intense pressures of social media, which I think is especially the case for female artists. It’s time for the music industry to start taking the mental health of artists seriously.
“It’s painfully ironic that music has such power to make us happy but musicians themselves can often suffer disproportionately from mental health issues”
“Mental health is the issue of our generation and it’s time the music industry woke up to it,” continues the One Kiss singer. “I’m so proud my management team is raising awareness and funds and calling this out as the crisis it is.”
Calm patron Professor Green, real name Stephen Manderson, also spoke out, saying that the “schedule and sleep deprivation” he experienced in the music industry “lead to a place of unhappiness and isolation”.
“It’s time we find a way to put support in place for people who need it,” says Manderson.
Tap embarked on a 24-hour cycle ride from London to Paris on 4 October to kickstart the fundraising initiative.
A 5-a-side charity football tournament featuring industry representatives from Live Nation, Creative Artists Agency (CAA), Paradigm, United Talent Agency and WME, among others, will take place later this week.
To donate to Tap Music’s fundraising efforts, click here.
Read more about how the music business is fighting mental illness here:
Tap Management launches electronic division
Tap Music, whose management business represents the likes of Lana Del Rey, Ellie Goulding and Futures Forum star Dua Lipa, has announced a new electronic music division, to be led by the Weird & the Wonderful’s Steven Braines and Sophia Kearney.
Braines and Kearney, who launched management collective the Weird & the Wonderful in 2014, bring a 20-strong roster to Tap, including award-winning producers Maya Jane Coles, KDA and Catz ’n Dogz. The arrangement gives Tap an office in Milan, alongside existing bases in Berlin and Sydney and its headquarters in London and Los Angeles.
In a joint statement, the pair say: “We spurned so many offers from other management companies over the years; the thing that changed for us was simply who was asking us the question. Tap are undoubtedly the most exciting global management company out there, from megastars like Lana Del Rey, Dua Lipa and Ellie Goulding through to emerging talent like Dermot Kennedy and Grace Carter.
“We are very excited to have two of the world’s best electronic artist managers join us with their team”
“Best of all, Tap are encouraging us to remain as ‘weird and wonderful’ as we always have been.”
Tap co-founder Ben Mawson adds: “Ed [Millett] and I have a passion for electronic music and have wanted for some time to start an electronic wing of Tap.
“We are very excited to have two of the world’s best electronic artist managers join us with their team, and we intend to continue to build this side of our business in exactly the same way we’ve built Tap: providing a full-service management company to producers and DJs in the electronic space.”
Mawson and Millett were named managers of the year at the Artist & Manager Awards in 2017.
Tap to take home top gong at Artist & Manager Awards
Lana Del Rey managers Tap Management will be collectively crowned manager of the year at the 6th annual Artist & Manager Awards, organisers Music Managers Forum (MMF) and Featured Artists Coalition (FAC) have announced.
Founders Ben Mawson and Ed Millett will accept the award, recognising Tap’s successes with artists such as Lana Del Rey (whose fifth album, Lust for Life, spawned the first UK no1 for a solo female since Adele in 2015), Dua Lipa, DJ Shadow and Angus and Julia Stone, as well as “an innovative and multi-faceted approach to music management”, on 14 November.
Also honoured will be Niamh Byrne and Régine Moylett, the founders of Eleven Management (Damon Albarn/Blur/Gorillaz, The Clash, Roisin Murphy), who receive the entrepreneur of the year award for their global campaign around Gorillaz’ fifth studio album, Humanz.
Other previously announced winners include Depeche Mode’s manager, Jonathan Kessler, who receives the Peter Grant award for lifetime achievement; Tracey Thorn, who will pick up the artists’ artist award; and Echo Beach’s Jill Hollywood, for writer/producer manager.
“To succeed in the modern-day music business, managers need to think outside the box while keeping a multitude of plates spinning,” says Annabella Coldrick, chief executive of the MMF. “This is no easy task, but the judging panel unanimously felt that 2017 was Tap Management’s year.
“This is no easy task, but the judging panel unanimously felt that 2017 was Tap Management’s year”
“As well as the phenomenal success of Lana Del Rey and Dua Lipa, we felt the entire team’s integrated approach across music publishing, music production and brand strategy was worthy of recognition. This is a company with music at its heart but with the ambition to forge new paths and set new trends.
“Similarly, Niamh and Régine have instigated a truly groundbreaking campaign for Gorillaz’s Humanz, amplifying the scope of the album’s collaborative vision with a series of eye-catching partnerships that opened new creative potentials, including augmented reality apps and a stunning VR video. Always sensitive to Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett’s vision, they also curated the highly successful Demon Dayz festival in Margate.
“As with Tap Management, Eleven are worthy winners at the Artist & Manager Awards.”
The Artist & Manager Awards 2017, hosted by BBC Radio 1’s Gemma Cairney, takes place at the newly opened Printworks venue in London on Tuesday 14 November.