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Grammys double down on live after year of no concerts

Dua Lipa, Taylor Swift and Megan Thee Stallion delivered a handful of the 32 live or pre-recorded performances at the annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles last night (14 March).

The 63rd edition kicked off with three back-to-back performances from Harry Styles, Billie Eilish and Haim, who performed in an in-the-round set-up, reminiscent of Later… with Jools Holland.

Eilish and her brother/producer Finneas performed her ethereal ballad ‘Everything I Wanted’, for which she took home Record of the Year, for the second consecutive year.

Megan Thee Stallion made her impressive debut at the Grammys, scooping three awards including Best New Artist, and delivering two performances that were ranked first and second place on Billboards performance review list.

The rapper first performed a medley of ‘Body’ and ‘Savage’ – the latter won her Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance along with Beyoncé, who featured on the recording – before joining Cardi B onstage for a live rendition of their chart-topping smash ‘WAP’.

Beyoncé also made her mark last night, becoming the most-awarded person in Grammys history with her 28th win

Beyoncé had an equally unforgettable night, becoming the most-awarded person in Grammys history with her 28th win for ‘Black Parade’. Bluegrass singer Alison Krauss previously held the title.

Taylor Swift also made history at Sunday’s ceremony, by becoming the first female artist ever to win album of the year three times.

Only three other artists have ever won the album of the year prize three times: Frank Sinatra, Paul Simon and Stevie Wonder.

The star was rewarded for her lockdown album ‘Folklore’, which she performed in part during last night’s ceremony with collaborators Aaron Dessner and Jack Antonoff.

‘Cardigan’, ‘August’ and ‘Willow’ all got an outing during Swift’s first Grammys performance in five years.

BTS, Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak, Doja Cat, Post Malone and Lionel Richie also delivered performances at last night’s Grammys.

Last night’s award show was the first from executive producer Ben Winston, best known for turning James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke series into a viral hit. Winston is the first new producer since Ken Ehrlich took over the show in 1980.

The production’s Covid precautions included 6ft-compliant tables and chairs beneath an outdoor terrace, five separate stages at the Los Angeles Convention Center and widespread testing – all of which added millions to the show’s budget.

See a complete list of winners and nominees for the 2021 Grammys here.


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Portuguese fests bide their time as Swift cancels NOS Alive

Organisers of Portuguese festival NOS Alive say they are waiting until the government lifts the nation-wide state of emergency on 2 May before making any final decisions about the 2020 edition of the event, following the loss of headline act Taylor Swift.

Swift, who was to headline the festival along with Kendrick Lamar, the Strokes, Billie Eilish and Faith No More, announced the cancellation of all her 2020 live dates last week. Of the singer’s European festival dates, only NOS Alive, Spain’s Mad Cool and Open’er in Poland are still going ahead, with the UK’s Glastonbury Festival and BST Hyde Park, Denmark’s Roskilde, Festival de Nîmes in France, Belgium’s Werchter Boutique and Norway’s Oslo Sommertid festival all moved to 2021.

“We are sad to announce that due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Taylor Swift will not be a part of the July edition of Nos Alive 2020,” reads a statement from NOS Alive organisers. “We understand and support the artist’s decision considering this global health crisis.

“We are evaluating on a daily basis all possibilities in order to enjoy music at [Nos Alive festival site]  Passeio Marítimo de Algés and for that we are working on every scenario, inlucing postponement of festival dates with the same line-up,” continues the statement.

“After the state of emergency is listed [on 2 May], we will surely be able to make more appropriate decisions regarding this edition of NOS Alive.”

“We are working on every scenario, inlucing postponement of festival dates with the same line-up”

Other major music festivals in Portugal, including July festivals Vilar de Mouros (Iggy Pop, Limp Bizkit, Placebo), Paredes de Coura (Pixies, Mac DeMarco and Idles) and August festivals Meo Sudoeste (Migos, Major Lazer, Bad Bunny, Ozuna) and Super Bock Super Rock (Asap Rocky, Brockhampton, Foals) are similarly biding their time until more information is available from the government.

However, many other Portuguese festivals have postponed their 2020 editions, or moved to 2021. Following the lead of its Spanish counterpart, NOS Primavera Sound Porto rescheduled its 2020 edition, moving from mid-June to the start of September. The line-up for the new dates is yet to be confirmed.

Rock in Rio Lisbon will no longer be taking place this year, moving to 19 to 20 June 2021. The festival was set to feature Post Malone, Black Eyed Peas, Foo Fighters, The National and Liam Gallagher.

Porto’s North Music Festival (Deftones, the Script, the Waterboys) has also called off its 2020 edition, set to take place from 22 to 23 May.

The Portuguese government are expected to announce its exit plan over the coming week, as it prepares to lift its state of emergency on 2 May. Similar announcements in other European markets has led to summer event bans in the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Denmark and, and partial ones in France (mid-July), Austria (end of June), Luxembourg and Finland (31 July).


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More high-profile acts join Lady Gaga-curated benefit gig

A host of new artists have joined the line-up for One World: Together at Home, a livestreamed benefit concert co-curated by Lady Gaga in celebration of health workers and in support of the World Health Organisation’s Covid-19 solidarity response fund.

Taylor Swift, Jennifer Lopez, Christine and the Queens, the Killers, Sam Smith, Alicia Keys, Usher and Celine Dion join previously announced acts Stevie Wonder, Billie Eilish, Elton John, Lizzo, John Legend, Paul McCartney, J Balvin and many more for the mega charity concert, which is taking place on Saturday 18 April from 8 p.m. (EDT).

First announcing the event last week, Gaga revealed she had helped to raise $35 million for the WHO fund, which is dedicated to funding protective equipment for health workers and efforts to find a Covid-19 vaccine.

On Monday, the singer called on world leaders including Canada’s Justin Trudeau, France’s Emmanuel Macron and EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen to contribute funds to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (Cepi) and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, organisations seeking to find a vaccine for the Covid-19 coronavirus.

As part as the One World: Together at Home initiative, Global Citizen, the social action platform that has partnered with the WHO to produce the event, is calling on individuals, philanthropists, investors and business to support global health efforts.

“We are incredibly grateful for the continued support from the artist community to make One World: Together At Home a moment of global unity”

“We are grateful to the private sector who have listened to the public’s call for action and come together to support the global response to Covid-19,” says Hugh Evans, co-founder and CEO of Global Citizen. “This pandemic is too large for governments to tackle alone.

“We are also incredibly grateful for the continued support from the artist community to make One World: Together At Home a moment of global unity,” continues Evans. “Our hope for the special is that everyone will come away believing that we, as a shared humanity, can emerge from this moment forever grateful for the work of doctors, nurses, teachers, grocery store workers, and all those who are the backbone of our communities.”

One World: Together at Home, which will be hosted by US talk show hosts Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel and Stephen Colbert, will be broadcast live across US television networks ABC, CBS and NBC, as well as being streamed online.

Internationally, the UK’s BBC One will show an adapted version of the concert the following day from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. (BST), including exclusive performances from UK artists and interviews with frontline health workers. Additional international broadcasters include AXS TV, beIN Media Group, IMDb, MultiChoice Group, and RTE.

There will also be a globally curated digital show beginning at 2 p.m. EDT/6 p.m. GMT. Streaming partners include Alibaba, Amazon Prime Video, Apple, Facebook, Instagram, LiveXLive, Tencent, Tencent Music Entertainment Group, TIDAL, TuneIn, Twitch, Twitter, Yahoo, and YouTube.

Photo: proacguy1/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0) (cropped)


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The decade in live: 2015

The start of a new year and, perhaps more significantly, a new decade is fast approaching – and while many may be thinking ahead to New Year’s Eve plans and well-meaning 2020 resolutions, IQ is casting its mind back to the most pivotal industry moments of the last ten years.

Following on from a strong year in 2014, the live music industry in 2015 continued to go from strength to strength, with fans once again showing willingness to spend money on concert tickets.

After the success of their first all-stadia tour, British boyband One Direction embarked on another mammoth concert tour, which came in at number two on the year-end charts, despite the departure of band member Zayn Malik two months in. The tour was the beginning of the end for the band, which went on indefinite hiatus the following year.

2015 was a busy year in the live business, notably seeing the birth of Tim Leiweke and Irving Azoff’s Oak View Group. It was also the year that the Robert Sillerman’s rebirthed SFX Entertainment began to run into some serious trouble…


2015 in numbers

The top 100 worldwide tours grossed more than US$4.7 billion in 2015, up 14% from the year before but falling short of 2013’s $5bn. Ticket sales were also up, increasing by 16% to 59.7m, again lower than the 2013 total of 63.3m. The average ticket price in 2015 was down $3.30 to $78.80.

Taylor Swift was the top touring artist of the year, grossing $250.4m with her The 1989 world tour. The singer generated nearly $200m in North America alone, smashing the previous record of $162m set by the Rolling Stones in 2005.

One Direction also had a successful year with the On the Road Again tour, coming in behind Swift with year-end gross at $210.2m and selling 2.4m tickets, the most of any artist that year. AC/DC made $180m in ticket sales on their biggest tour to date, with U2’s Innocence + Experience grossing $152.2m and Foo Fighters’ Sonic Highway tour totalling $127m.


2015 in brief

Live Nation takes control of Austin City Limits and Lollapalooza promoter C3 Presents, paying a reported $125m for a 51% stake.

Austrian concert organiser Arcadia agrees a new partnership with four German companies – Four Artists, Chimperator Live, KKT and FKP Scorpio – to found Arcadia Live, a new
concert agency.

Live Nation agrees a joint venture with Thailand-based entertainment firm BEC-Tero. The new company, Live Nation BEC-Tero, will promote concerts by Western, J-Pop and K-Pop artists in the region, a pursuit in which BEC-Tero’s concerts division is already a market leader locally.

The Agency Group acquires UK-based electronic music agency Futureboogie, whose roster includes the likes of Bonobo, Crazy P and Nightmares on Wax.

The state of Washington passes a bill to outlaw ticket bots in an attempt to clamp down on the computer software that often prevents humans from buying seats online for concerts and sporting events. The move brings the number of states that have banned bots to 13.

A group of artists including Chris Martin, Calvin Harris, Madonna, Rihanna, Beyoncé, Jay Z, Kanye West, Daft Punk, Alicia Keys, Jack White and Nicki Minaj launch a new streaming service called Tidal, which is described as the first artist-owned platform for music and video.

The O2 arena in London announces that it has sold its 15 millionth ticket. The building, which opened in June 2007, has consistently been the most popular live music venue in the world, with research conducted by Media Insight Consulting claiming that 30% of the UK population has attended The O2 complex at least once.

The decade in live: 2015

One Direction perform on the On the Road Again tour without Malik (© vagueonthehow/Flickr (CC BY 2.0))

ILMC launches the International Festival Forum, which aims to help strengthen the relationship between event organisers and agents. The London-based event is set to feature partner agencies such as Coda, The Agency Group, Primary Talent and X-ray Touring who will showcase festival-ready acts to promoters from around the world.

Australian media company Nine Entertainment sells its live events companies Nine Live and Ticketek to Asian private equity firm Affinity Equity Partners for AUD$640m ($480m).

Sydney-based Soapbox Artists, which grew out of the Australian wing of Ministry of Sound, announces its merger with the Melbourne-based 360 Agency. The combined EDM agencies will be a significant player in the dance market, representing a large roster of DJ and producer talent.

Live Nation acquires a controlling stake in American festival Bonnaroo. Under the terms of the deal, current promoters Superfly and AC Entertainment will continue to programme and run the event.

AEG agrees an extended deal with America’s International Speedway Corporation (ISC), allowing the company’s AEG Live division to look at organising concerts at racetracks around the country. ISC owns 13 raceways, including such iconic arenas as Daytona and Watkins Glen.

The Foo Fighters cancel a number of shows after frontman Dave Grohl breaks his leg during a concert in Sweden. Despite a nasty fracture, however, Grohl makes headlines around the world by returning to complete the Gothenburg show, receiving medical attention on stage.

The decade in live: 2015

The main stage at Bonnaroo (© Shawn Mariani/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.5))

German promoter Deutsche Entertainment AG and its UK offshoots Kilimanjaro Live and Raymond Gubbay Ltd, have set-up a company to sell tickets for their British shows. MyTicket.co.uk will expand the MyTicket concept that has already been running in Germany for six months.

The Windish Agency and Paradigm Talent Agency agree a partnership deal to form one of the world’s biggest independent agency operations, bringing The Windish Agency together with Paradigm partner agencies AM Only and Coda Music Agency, as well as Paradigm itself.

Live Nation Entertainment forms Live Nation Concerts Germany with German concert promoter Marek Lieberberg to promote concerts and festivals in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

William Morris agent Sol Parker jumps ship to Coda Agency, taking Take That, The Prodigy and Rita Ora with him.

United Talent Agency completes its acquisition of The Agency Group.

Live Nation acquires venue and festival operator MAMA & Company, returning a number of former Live Nation assets to its portfolio.

The decade in live: 2015

Marek Lieberberg (© Sven Mandel/Wikimedia Deutschland (CC BY-SA 4.0)) 

Australian promoter Andrew McManus is arrested at Melbourne Airport on charges of money laundering and the importation of 300 kilograms of cocaine. McManus is one of five people arrested in Australia and the United States as part of an FBI investigation.

Disgruntled investors hit SFX with a lawsuit claiming they were deceived with false and misleading statements over the company’s privatisation plans.

Ebay-owned secondary ticketing platform StubHub launches in Germany.

Pandora completes a $450m takeover of specialist ticketing agency Ticketfly.

Several preliminary bids are reportedly submitted for EDM promoter SFX in addition to that from CEO Robert Sillerman, who bid to buy back the company for $3.25 per share.

SFX promotes former IQ new boss Sebastian Solano to CEO of ID&T North America.

Ex-AEG chief Tim Leiweke forms live entertainment investment firm Oak View Group with Irving Azoff.

Ex-Done Events chief Thomas Ovesen is named CEO of new Dubai-based live music company 117 Live.

Live Nation UK vice-president Steve Homer and senior vice-president Toby Leighton-Pope leave the company.

The decade in live: 2015

B.B. King, 1925-2015 (cropped) (© Tom.Beetz/Flickr (CC BY 2.0))


Who we lost

Mike Porcaro, bassist for Toto; blues legend B.B. King; John Gammon, Pollstar’s UK/Europe correspondent; veteran promoter and ILMC member, Paul King; Stage Entertainment’s project manager Sjoerd Unger; Live Nation venue chief David Vickers; U2 tour manager Dennis Sheehan.


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700+ artists boycott Amazon over ICE ties

Just over a week after Amazon Web Services (AWS) revealed the full line-up for its Intersect music festival, over 700 musicians have pledged to boycott any Amazon-affiliated event or partnership due to the e-commerce giant’s links with the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Artists including Deerhoof, Speedy Ortiz, Downtown Boys, Priests and Guy Picciotto have signed the ‘No Music for ICE’ open letter, published by digital rights advocacy group Fight for the Future. The group is also behind a recent campaign urging festivals to ban facial recognition technology.

The letter states that the signatories are “outraged” that Amazon “continues to provide the technical backbone for ICE’s human rights abuses”.

The artists pledge to boycott “Amazon-sponsored events” and “exclusive partnerships” until the company terminates existing contracts with ICE, the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR); stops supplying cloud services and tools to organisations that “power the US government’s deportation machine”; and ends facial recognition projects and any others that “encourage racial profiling”.

“We the undersigned artists are outraged that Amazon continues to provide the technical backbone for ICE’s human rights abuses”

The boycott comes after DJ the Black Madonna pulled out of her appearance at Intersect, claiming that Amazon Web Services’ affiliation with the event was not made apparent.

“If you were shocked I’d play for Amazon, well that makes two of us,” tweeted the DJ. “Please be patient while I burn some bridges.”

Artists still confirmed to play AWS’ Intersect festival, which is taking place from 6 to 7 December in Las Vegas, include Kacey Musgraves, Foo Fighters, Anderson.Paak, Beck, Brandi Carlile, Jamie XX and HER. Weekend passes are available for US$169.

Amazon has attempted to tap into the live scene in recent years, with its streaming arm, Amazon Music, hosting Taylor Swift-headlined Prime Day concert in July. Other, albeit short-lived, forays into the live industry by the web giant include event ticketing operation Amazon Tickets and concert series Prime Live Events.


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Taylor Swift announces 2020 tour

Taylor Swift will embark on tour once more in summer 2020, with a run of European festival dates, as well as South and North American shows.

The tour announcement comes after the release of Swift’s latest album Lover last month.

The singer kicks off her international tour with a headline slot at one-day Werchter Boutique in Belgium on 20 June, before playing the Waldbühne amphitheatre in Berlin (22,290-cap.), Oslo Sommertid festival in Norway (55,000-cap.), Denmark’s Roskilde festival (70,000-cap.), Open’er in Poland (60,000-cap.), Festival de Nîmes in France (24,000-cap.) and Portugal’s Nos Alive (55,000-cap.).

“I want to go to some places I haven’t been and play festivals. Where we didn’t have festivals, we made some. Introducing, Lover Fest East and West!”

Swift will then cross the Atlantic a show at the 55,000-capacity Allianz Parque in São Paulo, Brazil, ahead of four US shows as part of her newly created Lover Fest. Lover Fest West will take place at Los Angeles’ 100,000-capacity SoFi Stadium, whereas Lover Fest East will be held at Foxborough, Massachusetts’ Gillette Stadium (66,829-cap.).

“I want to perform [Lover] in a way that feels authentic,” writes Swift on Twitter. “I want to go to some places I haven’t been and play festivals. Where we didn’t have festivals, we made some. Introducing, Lover Fest East and West!”

The singer’s 2018 Reputation world tour was the highest-grossing US tour in history, selling over two million tickets for 38 shows for a total of US$266.1 million.

A full list of 2020 tour dates can be found here.


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Female fans first in line for ticket sales

Data presented by online statistics portal, Statista, has shown that women generated the majority of traffic to ticketing sites on the first day of ticket sales for a variety of high-profile world tours.

Female fans drove around 73% of traffic to Vivid Seats on the morning that tickets went on sale for K-pop group BTS’ first world stadium tour, Love Yourself: Speak Yourself.

The band sold out five major stadiums across the United States and Europe, including the Rose Bowl in Los Angeles (90,888-cap.), London’s Wembley Stadium (90,000-cap.) and the Stade de France in Paris (80,000-cap.).

Statista: Women first in line for ticket sales

Women generated an even higher percentage of traffic for Ariana Grande’s Sweetener world tour (75%), which sees the star perform across Europe and North America.

Female fans also drove more traffic to ticketing pages for Ed Sheeran’s ÷ world tour (64%), Taylor Swift’s Reputation tour and Drake’s Aubrey and the 3 Migos tour.

Only for the Rolling Stones No Filter tour did men have a bigger presence on the ticketing site than women, driving 56% of the traffic.

The data corresponds with information collected by event discovery guide and ticketing outlet, Skiddle, that shows women now buy 13% more live event tickets than men.


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Top 10 tours of 2018 all gross over $100m in record year

The ten biggest touring artists of 2018 brought in a collective US$2bn+, with all grossing more US$100 million each, in a year packed with “remarkable box-office feats”, according to Pollstar’s traditional end-of-year ticket sales chart.

As at mid-year and in Q3, and on the back of a raft of near-instant sell-outs for the 12th leg of his unstoppable ÷ tour, Ed Sheeran was by far the biggest tour of the year, jumping from the eighth spot in 2017 to claim No 1 in 2018. With a gross of $432.4m from 94 shows, the Sheeran tour is the highest gross ever recorded for an artist in a single year, according to the top 100 worldwide tours chart.

According to Pollstar, the ÷ tour is the first to top $400m, and one of only two to gross more than $300m, in a single year  – after U2 in 2017.

Taylor Swift, whose Reputation stadium tour recently became the highest-grossing in US history, is second, taking $345.1m from fewer dates, but with a higher average ticket price and higher gross per show.

Rounding out the top ten, with tour grosses in US$, are:

Live Nation was the top-selling promoter to the tune of nearly 40 million tickets – 49.6m compared to AEG Presents’ 11.6m – with AEG-owned Messina Touring Group third with 5.3m.

In total, the top 100 worldwide tours grossed $5.6bn, with 59.8m tickets sold.

According to PwC figures, the value of of the global live music business is set to continue growing through the rest of the decade and the start of the next, reaching $30bn by 2022.


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Taylor Swift uses facial recognition to ID stalkers

A kiosk showing film clips was surreptitiously fitted with a facial-recognition camera in order detect stalkers at Taylor Swift’s recent show at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.

A special kiosk that broadcast footage from rehearsals – while concealing a camera which IDed viewers’ faces – was set up for Swift’s 18 May concert at the 90,888-seat stadium. The images were then sent to a ‘command post’ in Nashville where they were cross-referenced with a database of the star’s known stalkers, according to Mike Downing, chief security officer of Oak View Group.

“Everybody who went by would stop and stare at it, and the software would start working,” Downing, who attended the Live Nation-promoted show, tells Rolling Stone’s Steve Knopper.

Thought not without controversy, the use of biometric identification is growing in the concert business. Live Nation/Ticketmaster earlier this year invested in Blink Identity, whose technology, said CEO Michael Rapino, could enable a concertgoer to “associate your digital ticket with your image, and walk into the show”.

Swift’s Reputation stadium tour recently became the highest-grossing in US history.


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Reputation stadium tour becomes highest-grossing in US history

Taylor Swift’s Reputation stadium tour – which wrapped up in Tokyo on 20 and 21 November after six months on the road – has broken the record for the highest-ever-grossing US tour.

The tour, Swift’s fifth, has become the country’s biggest earner since Billboard Boxscore began tracking touring data in 1990, according to Billboard. Domestically, it grossed US$266.1 million and sold 2,068,399 tickets from 38 shows, beating the Rolling Stones’ $245m A Bigger Bang tour gross in 2005–07 – which took the band 70 shows.

The biggest shows of the tour (including the European, Asian and Australasian legs) were three nights at Metlife Stadium (82,500-cap.) in East Rutherford, New Jersey, on 20–22 July, where Swift grossed $22m and sold 165,654 tickets.

The Reputation trek – promoted by AEG’s Messina Touring Group and AEG Presents companies – became the highest-grossing US tour by a female artist in August.

Swift’s previous concert trek, the 1989 arena tour, was the highest-grossing globally of 2015, earning US$250.4m worldwide.


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