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Jim King talks building AEG’s summer festival hub

AEG’s European festivals CEO Jim King has spoken to IQ about the firm’s efforts to cultivate a “strong hub” for touring artists through its collection of late summer festivals.

The company’s All Points East (APE), Rock en Seine and Forwards Festival are all coming up in the next few weeks, while it has also aligned with Spanish independent promoter Last Tour on the latter’s Cala Mijas and MEO Kalorama festivals in Spain and Portugal, respectively.

First held in 2018, APE returns this Friday in London’s Victoria’s Park with the first of two weekends, featuring Stormzy (18 August) and a Field Day event headlined by Aphex Twin and Bonobo (19 August). It will then welcome headliners The Strokes, Jungle, Dermot Kennedy and Haim from 25-28 August.

“We’ve got a strong All Points East again this year,” says King. “It’s an event we’re still building and a relationship that we’re still building with the London Borough of Tower Hamlets and the community there.

“We’re really pleased with the way their programme is going. They’re really well curated lineups, which our team put together very passionately. So that’s great and it’s allowed us to consolidate our European position at the end of the summer.”

“The artists moving between those four shows has created a really strong hub”

AEG switched APE from its previous May slot to coincide with Rock en Seine at the end of August. The 20th anniversary French festival, which was acquired by AEG in 2017 in partnership with media investment group LNEI, takes place in Domaine National de Saint-Cloud, Paris on 23 and 25-27 August, topped by Billie Eilish, Florence + the Machine, Placebo, The Chemical Brothers and The Strokes.

“Rock en Seine had its best year ever [last year] since it started and I think we’ll go beyond that again this year with sold-out shows every day,” says King. “I love that show. It’s such a great site. We’ve talked about London being super-important culturally, but magical things happen when you’re in Paris and I always find it really exciting. You go there in an elevated state of emotion, if you like, and then you’re more receptive to being entertained.”

Meanwhile, AEG’s relationship with Last Tour on Cala Mijas and MEO Kalorama festivals, set for 31 August-2 September, will see Florence + the Machine headline both events, with The Strokes also performing at the former.

“The artists moving between those four shows has created a really strong hub,” says King. “We’re calling it ‘The Camino’, which allows these artists to move between as many or as few of those shows as they want. It just creates a very strong end of August, beginning of September run for artists coming into Europe or those who are based here.”

In addition, AEG teams with events company Team Love on 30,000-cap Forwards in Bristol, UK. The metropolitan festival, which debuted in 2022, returns to Clifton Downs for its second year from 1-2 September, headlined by Erykah Badu and Aphex Twin.

“It’s a very demanding industry at the moment. If you’re not on your game as a promoter, you’re going to be challenged”

“Forwards forms part of that run of shows as well,” notes King. “We had a great show last year – we broke even in year one, which is beyond our expectations for any new festival, and we’re building on that for year two. So that’s been a really good start. We set up our European festival division a few years ago now, and the building of that is still taking place, but the benefits of it are thankfully already with us, and we think it puts us in a really strong position for the next five years.”

Around 550,000 tickets were sold for AEG’s flagship BST Hyde Park Festival earlier this summer, topping the previous best of 530,000 set last year. The London concert series was headlined by Guns N’ Roses, Take That, Blackpink, Billy Joel and Lana Del Rey – plus two nights each from Pink and Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. And King says he is not surprised by the number of successful shows to have gone ahead in the UK this summer.

“Certain parts of the industry, one could argue are outperforming expectations, but that’s not to say that we weren’t confident they will be successful,” he adds. “If you look at events out there, you can see the quality ones in terms of the way they’re presented and operated, and the value point for them and the lineups which they have.

“I’m not surprised at all that they’re being successful. I’m also not surprised at all that the ones that aren’t presenting that level of quality aren’t as successful either because it’s a very demanding industry at the moment. And if you are not on your game as a promoter or as an artist, then you’re going to be challenged. But if you are, the chances are you’re going to be rewarded for it.”


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Global Promoters Report 2022: Spain

Spain is a remarkably fertile market, with about 1,000 music festivals a year, including globally renowned names such as Barcelona’s Primavera Sound and Sónar, Madrid’s Mad Cool, Festival Internacional de Benicàssim, and Bilbao BBK Live. It has plenty of sturdy promoters and some flourishing live destinations, led by Madrid, Barcelona, and Bilbao.

In terms of promoters, Spain has a broad range of both hardworking indies and heavyweight corporates. The former camp includes the increasingly intrepid Primavera organisation, Producciones Animadas, Concert Studio, Houston Party Music, and The Project in Barcelona; RLM, Get In, Just Life Music, and Ground Control in Madrid; Valencia’s Serious Fan Music; Last Tour in Bilbao; Zaragoza’s Siamm Producciones; and Murcia rock specialist Madness Live!.

Joining the corporates in recent years has been the veteran Doctor Music, which sold a 63.5% share to CTS Eventim in May 2018, 35 years after staging its first shows. It remains a go-to for international and superstar acts. In partnership with Live Nation Spain, it was among the local promoters on AEG/ Concerts West’s Rolling Stones tour for its stop at Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid, with Bruce Springsteen, Robbie Williams, and Rammstein coming up in 2023.

“Although times are challenging, after two miserable years of Covid, I see lots of people wanting to enjoy live music again and going to concerts is a key part of this vital experience,” says Doctor Music CEO Neo Sala. “So yes, I see a big cause for optimism not only for the next year but also for the forthcoming ones.”

“I see lots of people wanting to enjoy live music again and going to concerts is a key part of this vital experience”

As well as its own activities, Live Nation holds a majority stake in leading Latin promoter Planet Events. As well as a joint venture with Mercury Wheels, Live Nation also operates a strategic partnership with Andalusian promoter Riff Producciones aimed at growing Spanish acts in overseas markets. Among the highlights of 2022 in the Live Nation camp were Planet Events’ Marc Anthony tour, postponed since 2020, and Live Nation’s own 27-date tour for Fito & Fitipaldis, which became Spain’s most popular tour of the year.

“2022 was the most challenging year I remember in my career, but it was worth it,” says Live Nation Spain president Robert Grima. “And now 2023 is looking to be possibly the best year for us. And the demand for shows and ticket sales keeps growing, which is a very good signal.

“We have big tours coming up next year for Coldplay, Harry Styles, Muse, Blink-182, Louis Tomlinson, and Lewis Capaldi, but we are also putting a very strong focus on local talent with national multiple tours of artists like Hombres G, Beret, El Kanka, and Rels B.”

Elsewhere, artist management company RLM, whose CEO Rosa Lagarrigue was the force behind Planet Events before its sale to Live Nation, has returned to promoting in recent years, taking on tours for Ricardo Arjona, Alejandro Sanz, Raphael, and Rozalén.

“It will be a great year in Spain, for the artists and for the public, who will be able to enjoy a wide offer of concerts”

Concert Studio chalked up record attendances at its summer festivals – the Festival Jardins Pedralbes in Barcelona and the Cerdanya Music Festival in the Pyrenees – and now looks towards the 25th edition of the Banco Mediolanum Festival Mil·lenni, which takes place across Barcelona and will run from October 2023 to May 2024, and the boutique Icónica Sevilla Fest, which in 2023 marks its third edition.

“It will be a great year in Spain, for the artists and for the public, who will be able to enjoy a wide offer of concerts. However, we see indications of a possible market saturation that will affect the work of all promoters,” says Concert Studio’s Carlos Perez.

Murcia-based promoter Madness Live! launched the new rock- and metal-focused Rock Imperium Festival in the city of Cartagena in June, headed by Scorpions, Europe, and others, and it will return next year across three days with Helloween and Deep Purple headlining. Madness Live! also has forthcoming shows with the likes of Iron Maiden, Bullet For My Valentine, Cannibal Corpse, and plenty of others.

Of Spain’s mighty festivals, 2022 was a big year for Primavera Sound. It closed the biggest edition in its 20-year history in June, welcoming nearly half a million people to the Spanish city of Barcelona after a two-year hiatus.

“We see indications of a possible market saturation that will affect the work of all promoters”

For its 20th anniversary celebrations, Primavera held its maiden US edition in Los Angeles in September, and November saw events in São Paulo in Brazil, Santiago in Chile, and Buenos Aires in Argentina, as well as the Primavera Weekender in Benidorm.

“There is a Primavera Sound community all over the planet,” Primavera Sound director Alfonso Lanza told IQ in the wake of the festivals’ South American debut, which drew more than 300,000 across the three editions. “It was very different in each country, but it was definitely the most passionate audiences I have ever seen.”

Since launching in 2016, the Live Nation-produced Mad Cool Festival in Madrid has grown rapidly from an overall capacity of 45,000 to 80,000. In July, the festival added a fifth day, and headliners included Muse, The Killers, and Metallica.

Andalucía Big Festival, a new event from the team behind Mad Cool, debuted on 8–10 September at Malaga’s Feria Ground, with acts such as Muse, Jamiroquai, Years & Years, Glass Animals, Michael Kiwanuka, Wolf Alice, Franz Ferdinand, and Aurora.

“There is a Primavera Sound community all over the planet”

However, the Mad Cool Sunset Festival in September was called off after organisers were unable to find a “suitable” replacement for Rage Against The Machine, who had recently cancelled all forthcoming dates in the UK and Europe.

Bilbao BBK Live, meanwhile, returned in July with more than 100,000 in attendance and LCD Soundsystem, The Killers, J Balvin, and the Pet Shop Boys on stage. Its organiser Last Tour International also stages the Kalorama and BIME Live events, as well as the new Cala Mijas Festival on the Costa del Sol in Malaga and diversifications into Portugal (MEO Kalorama festival) and Colombia (BIME Bogotá).

“This year, we feel that we are recovering the normal rhythm, although we predict a difficult year due to the social and economic situation,” says Last Tour director of communications Eva Castillo.

The Music Republic, owned by brothers David and Toño Sánchez, promotes festivals such as Arenal Sound, Viña Rock, Granada Sound, and Madrid Salvaje, and also acquired Benicàssim Festival from Madrid-based Maraworld in 2019.


The Global Promoters Report is published in print, digitally, and all content is also available as a year-round resource on the IQ site. The Global Promoters Report includes key summaries of the major promoters working across 40+ markets, unique interviews and editorial on key trends and developments across the global live music business.

To access all content from the current Global Promoters Report, please click here.

Last Tour festivals receive B Corp certification

Bilbao BBK Live, Cala Mijas and BIME have become the first festivals in Europe to receive B Corp certification.

The three festivals, which are part of the independent Spanish promoter Last Tour, join the B Corp community – a global movement using the power of business to tackle social and environmental issues.

Bilbao BBK Live, Cala Mijas and BIME were recognised after implementing actions to reduce their environmental impact, raise awareness for diversity and equality, as well as implement protocols to reduce sexual attacks on their events. The recognition follows two-year evaluation process and is granted to only 4% of the companies that apply.

“The goal of Last Tour is to be a cultural and social activist, with creativity and innovation at the core, to contribute to the cultural development and co-creation of a society to which we feel committed,” says Last Tour CEO Alfonso Santiago.

“This recognition encourages us to maintain high standards where we constantly revisit our goal for social transformation”

“We stand committed to the B Corp standards while being recognised for the work we developed across the last 20 years. This recognition encourages us to maintain high standards where we constantly revisit our goal for social transformation while developing an economically viable business plan by acting proactively and responsibly in those territories where we are present.”

Bilbao BBK Live’s contribution to the community and the economic impact on the city of Bilbao were also key factors in the B Corp community, with its employment of local teams, donations for forest reforestation and aid to disadvantaged groups through the Bizkaia Food Bank, Ukraine Euskadi and other local support organisations all highlighted.

Cala Mijas was acknowledged for its social commitment and actions that include alliances with organisations such as Basic Income, promoting the development of people at risk of exclusion or the NGO Equilibrio Marino which seeks to protect the Calahonda Special Conservation Zone in the region of Mijas, Malaga.

Meanwhile, BIME, a non-profit project run by the Creative Industries Foundation was singled out for its organisational awareness in terms of horizontality, collaboration, flexibility, inclusion and parity.

In alignment with the B Corp guidelines, Bilbao BBK Live, Cala Mijas and BIME will continue to review internal policies for constant improvement while also consolidating their commitment to the 2023 Agenda, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and the United Nations Global Compact.

Last Tour’s management team has also made a commitment to environmental and social performance, which is included a new clause in the company’s byelaws.


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Solid start for Portugal’s MEO Kalorama festival

The director of Portugal’s newest festival has spoken to IQ about the event’s successful launch.

MEO Kalorama (cap. 40,000) debuted at Bela Vista Park in Lisbon from 1-3 September with acts including Arctic Monkeys, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, The Chemical Brothers, Kraftwerk, Róisín Murphy, Years & Years, Disclosure, Jessie Ware and Bonobo.

Staged by promoter House of Fun and Last Tour – the cultural company behind events such as Bilbao BBK Live, Azkena Rock Festival, Cala Mijas and BIME Live – the festival premiere was a warmly received affair.

“It was fantastic,” says festival director Artur Peixoto. “We exceeded our initial expectations and, for the first time in Portugal, a festival of this size sold-out weekend passes and daily tickets for one of the days, headlined by Arctic Monkeys.

“In terms of logistics, it was a challenge due to all the limitations that we are still subject to in this new post-pandemic world but we managed to overcome the adversities and deliver an event with above average quality for a first edition.”

“There was room for the creation of a major music festival towards the end of the summer”

Tickets were priced from €61 (for day passes) to €145, and Peixoto believes the timing of the event fills a gap in the calendar.

“My experience working with all the major festivals in Portugal over the last 20 years led me to believe that there was room for the creation of a major music festival towards the end of the summer, taking advantage of the transit of artists in late August and early September in Europe,” he says. “It is a time when people are back in town after the holidays and there is nothing like an event focused on music to promote a reunion.

“Our summer lasts until October and with Portugal being a tourist destination it also makes it very appealing for music lovers from all over the world to visit us. As proof of that, in the first edition, 25% of the tickets were sold internationally in more than 50 countries.”

Aside from the music, there were spaces for reduced mobility, vegan food, free drinking water, non-binary toilets and reusable cups, among other sustainability measures, as part of the festival’s commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals established by the United Nations General Assembly.

“In terms of waste management, we managed to recycle 62% of all the waste collected and the other 38% went towards generating energy,” says Peixoto. “Besides being an Eco Event – a label given by [environmental organisation] Valorsul to the festival – we are an event committed to zero waste being sent to landfill. All the waste had a use ”

“Not everything depends on money: namely, imagination, creativity, the ability to dream, to motivate, team spirit, camaraderie and collaboration”

With MEO Kalorama’s return confirmed for 31 August to 2 September 2023, Peixoto reflects on the lessons learned from its inaugural edition.

“It was challenging to achieve the three goals – music, art and sustainability – within the budget restrictions and few sponsorships of a first edition, but that ended up sharpening the creativity and team work in order to find solutions,” he says. ” These are valuable lessons that show that not everything depends on money: namely, imagination, creativity, the ability to dream, to motivate, team spirit, camaraderie and collaboration. It is a very strong, very good, constructive energy.

“Being able to share a dream that materialised and motivate the team was probably our greatest achievement of this first edition, and sets the standard for the following ones.”


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