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Diversify the Stage launches inclusion initiative for live

Diversify the Stage has launched an “inclusion initiative” to help strengthen the live industry’s diversity practice.

The US-based organisation, which describes itself as a collective of industry professionals, working to build more diverse and inclusive hiring practices in concerts, events, and touring industries, notes in a statement:

“Black, Indigenous, Latin/Hispanic, Asian, and Pacific Islander Identifying persons, as well as Women of all backgrounds and identities, Gender Nonconforming and Non-Binary Individuals, LGBTQIA2+ and disabled persons are drastically underrepresented in the industry.”

The Diversity the Stage (DTS) inclusion initiative seeks to address this issue with guidance and recommendations geared towards specific objectives on diversity, inclusion, equity and access, as well as a range of readily-available resources.

“This collective push will encourage other artists to look at our touring businesses through a new lens”

Organisations including Live Nation, AEG, Wasserman, UTA, WME, CAA and ICM have already taken the DTS pledge which involves “creating and utilising a pipeline of professionals from these historically underrepresented groups”.

“The tremendous efforts of everyone involved in this process thus far has been incredibly inspiring,” says Noelle Scaggs, founder of Diversify The Stage and co-lead singer of Fitz & The Tantrums.

“This collective push will encourage other artists to look at our touring businesses through a new lens, to see where we may have greater impact; but also, by creating safe spaces for our fans, care for our crews and everyone who works behind the scenes to make these shows come to life. I look forward to seeing how the goals of this initiative will help move the needle towards a more inclusive, fair, and equitable live events and production industry.”

Take the Diversify the Stage inclusion initiative pledge here: https://www.diversifythestage.org/dtsinclusion-mission.

 


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Epic Games buys Guitar Hero creator to work on Fortnite

Epic Games has acquired Rock Band and Guitar Hero creator Harmonix “to create musical journeys and gameplay for Fortnite.

The acquisition, details of which were not disclosed, was announced yesterday (24 November) in a blog post on the Harmonix website, which read:

“Over the last 26 years, we have pushed ourselves to redefine how people experience and interact with music. From the earliest days of The Axe to Guitar Hero, Rock Band, Dance Central, our VR titles, Fuser, and everything in between, we have aspired to redefine what a music game can be.

“Now, we’ll be working with Epic to once again challenge expectations as we bring our unique brand of musical gaming experiences to the Metaverse, and we couldn’t be more excited.”

Epic – which is backed by Sony Corp and carries a US$28 billion+ valuation – says that, as it works “to build the metaverse”, the Harmonix team’s “expertise is needed to reimagine how music is experienced, created and distributed”.

“Together we will transform how players experience music, going from passive listeners to active participants”

Music has become an increasing focus for Epic, following the success of virtual concerts inside of Fortnite from the likes of Travis ScottAriana Grande, MarshmelloTravis Scott, Steve Aoki, Deadmau5, Easy Life and J. Balvin. According to the company, acquiring Harmonix fits into that musical focus.

“Music is already bringing millions of people together in Fortnite, from our emotes to global concerts and events,” Alain Tascan, Epic’s VP of game development, said in a statement. “Together with the Harmonix team, we will transform how players experience music, going from passive listeners to active participants.”

Boston-based Harmonix was founded in 1995 by Alex Rigopulos and Eran Egozy and was bought by Viacom/MTV in 2006 for US$175 million.

Four years later, Viacom sold Harmonix to Harmonix-SBE Holdings LLC, an affiliate of Columbus Nova, LLC.

In 2007, Harmonix launched the Rockband franchise which exceeded a billion dollars in revenues by 2009 and secured a major coup with the development and release of The Beatles: Rock Band game, described by The New York Times at the time as “the most important video game yet made”.

 


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Goldenvoice positions itself for new events at Coachella site

Goldenvoice has signed a long-term agreement with the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California, which will enable the promoter to stage additional festivals on the site.

The 642-plus acre desert oasis has been home to Goldenvoice’s Coachella Valley Arts & Music Festival since its inception in 1999, as well as its country music counterpart, Stagecoach, which first took place on the grounds in 2007.

The newly announced deal will see the AEG Presents subsidiary take over year-round operations at the festival site and polo fields, which are estimated to be worth US$80 million, according to local land records.

Additionally, the LA-based promoter and live events company is permitted to host two additional three-day events on the site every year, according to Billboard, prompting speculation that Desert Trip may return to the site after its debut in 2016.

“The new long-term lease will assure that the iconic Coachella and Stagecoach will continue for many years to come”

The deal also provides Goldenvoice oversight of the Empire Grand Oasis, a special event property in Thermal, California.

The Haagen Family, owner of the Empire Polo Club, says: “We are pleased to continue our long-term relationship with Paul Tollett and Goldenvoice. The new long-term lease will assure that the iconic Coachella and Stagecoach Music Festivals will continue for many years to come and allow Goldenvoice to expand their vast catalogue of musical acts on both of Empire’s properties. We wish the very best to AEG, Goldenvoice, and Paul Tollett with their future plans.”

Paul Tollett, president at Goldenvoice, says: “Goldenvoice has had a unique relationship with Empire Polo Club for over twenty-five years. It is a privilege to now take over the operations of the venue and we look forward to continuing to build upon the special history that has been established there. It’s immeasurable how much we’ve learned from Al Haagen.”

In August, Indio City Council extended its development agreement with Goldenvoice, allowing Coachella and Stagecoach to take place in the city until 2050. The promoter generates $3.5m for the city of Indio each year, according to city records.

Goldenvoice is one of the world’s biggest promoters; the company produces several festivals, including recently announced California Vibrations, operates 14 mid-sized venues and promotes over 1,800 shows per year.

 


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NIVA to be honoured at Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ceremony

The National Independent Venues Association (NIVA) in the US is to be honoured at this week’s 2021 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ceremony for the role it has played in helping the country’s indie venues to survive the pandemic.

Formed in the early days of the pandemic, NIVA has grown to represent more than 2,000 independent concert venues and related music businesses and played a crucial role in securing state and federal funding to help keep the lights on for its members during the shutdown.

NIVA’s advocacy played a key role in the $16 billion Save Our Stages act, which passed in December 2020 and which was ultimately launched in May 2021 after some hiccups by the Small Business Administration.

“Every band in the Rock Hall first took the stage in a local club, bar or theatre”

In a letter to NIVA members, R&RHOF president/CEO Greg Harris, wrote: “We are grateful for your hard work as NIVA leaders over the last year to keep live music alive. Independent venues are vital to rock & roll. Every band in the Rock Hall first took the stage in a local club, bar or theatre. Inside local independent venues we experience some of the greatest moments of our lives.

“The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is here to support our Inductees and our Museum, and to champion live music through programs like our summer concert series, our artist in residence program, our Induction Week, and much more. This week we want to celebrate all of you, our venue friends, for making it through a dark time. We are banking on a brighter future — so let’s raise a toast to rock & roll and live music together on October 30th.”

The 2021 ceremony Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will take place at Rocket Mortgage Field House in Cleveland, Ohio on 30 October and will be aired by HBO on 20 November.

The class of 2021 will include Foo Fighters, Carole King, Tina Turner, The Go-Gos, Jay-Z, and Todd Rundgren.


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ASM Global and Loud and Live to partner on concerts

ASM Global and US entertainment and sports company Loud and Live have announced a strategic partnership to produce concerts together.

The deal expands and formalises the longstanding relationship between the two companies that has involved Loud and Live promoting shows at ASM Global venues.

The partnership officially launches on 5 December when the two companies bring Ruben Blades’ Salswing Tour! & The Robert Delgado Big Band to the Arie Crown Theatre in Chicago.

Loud and Live’s entertainment division has produced and managed national tours, festivals and concerts in the United States, working with the likes of Pitbull, Ricky Martin, Chainsmokers, Steve Aoki, Luis Fonsi, Calvin Harris, Roberto Carlos, Juan Luis Guerra and Franco De Vita.

“This date in Chicago represents the first of what we know will be many over the years”

ASM Global’s chief content officer, John Boyle, says: “ASM Global and Loud and Live are leaders in our respective businesses, and this date in Chicago represents the first of what we know will be many over the years.

“ASM Global envisions the partnership with Loud and Live growing to include producing experiences at arenas including the Wintrust Arena in Chicago.”

Loud and Live’s CEO, Nelson Albareda, added: “At Loud and Live we are excited to begin a formal partnership with ASM Global and look forward to helping make lasting memories for our audiences and the communities we serve across the world.”

Loud & Live also has a partnership with Move Concerts – the largest independent promoter in Latin America – since 2019.

 


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Wasserman hires veteran agent Shannon Casey

Wasserman Music has appointed Shannon Casey as SVP of fairs and festivals, to expand the agency’s reach in the business area.

Casey will start at Wasserman on 1 October, based in the agency’s Nashville office.

The veteran agent joins Wasserman after more than two decades at CAA in Nashville, representing some of the most notable live performance talent in the music business.

“I look forward to working with some of the most passionate and respected agents in the business,” says Casey.

“I can’t wait to reconnect with all the fair and festival buyers, with whom it has been my pleasure to work over the years”

“I can’t wait to reconnect with all the fair and festival talent buyers, with whom it has been my pleasure to work over the years, and I’m excited about creating new touring opportunities for a dynamic roster of talented artists.”

Wasserman SVP, Lenore Kinder, added: “The addition of Shannon to Wasserman Music brings irreplaceable experience and expertise in a rapidly evolving economy in fairs and festivals.

“She has cultivated decades of meaningful relationships with her buyers, and I have no doubt they’re just as eager to get back to business with her as we are!”

Today’s news follows the appointment of veteran agent Brent Smith as executive vice-president and managing executive, in July, and five new agents, earlier this month.

The appointments follow Wasserman group’s acquisition of Paradigm’s North American live music business.

 


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BTS announce mini-residency at LA’s new SoFi stadium

BTS have announced a mini-residency at the brand new SoFi stadium (cap. 70,000) in Los Angeles this winter, promoted by Live Nation.

The record-breaking K-pop stars will bring their ‘Permission to Dance on Stage’ show to Inglewood, California, for four nights.

The in-person concerts will mark the first time BTS have been able to be face-to-face with fans since the 2019 BTS World Tour.

The four shows, taking place on 27, 28 November and 1, 2 December, will follow the group’s recently announced livestream concert scheduled for 24 October.

The ‘BTS Permission to Dance On Stage’ live stream comes a year after the ‘BTS Map of the Soul On:e’ event in October 2020.

The four shows will follow the group’s recently announced livestream concert scheduled for 24 October

The stars grossed an estimated $44 million from the two-day live stream, which reached 993,000 viewers in 191 regions.

BTS’s record label, Big Hit Music, says they decided to hold the concerts in the US after “taking the national and regional health regulations and circumstances into consideration”.

“It is [with] our deepest regret that we are unable to hold more concerts in more areas,” it added. “We will do our best to put on additional concerts for not only Korean fans but fans from all around the world who have been patiently waiting for a long time.”

Fans can register for ‘Permission to Dance on Stage’ tickets here.

 


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CAA to acquire ICM Partners in historic deal

Creative Artists Agency (CAA) and ICM Partners are joining forces in a landmark agency merger that will “drive broader and more inclusive representation” for their clients.

The deal, if approved, will bring together two of the leading global agencies in entertainment and sports. The agency landscape would then consist of what US outlets are calling ‘the big three’ – CAA, WME, UTA – alongside Wasserman, which is also a major player in the US. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The agreement, announced today (27 September), is said to be the largest talent agency transaction since WME acquired IMG in 2014 and since Endeavor joined forces with William Morris Agency in 2009, which forged the contemporary WME.

“Today’s storytellers, athletes, thought-leaders, and trend-setters who can move, inspire, and attract large, global audiences have an unprecedented opportunity and ability to achieve their goals and aspirations,” says CAA’s Bryan Lourd, Kevin Huvane, and Richard Lovett.

“The strategic combination bolsters our collective resources, expertise, and relationships to deliver more opportunities”

“The strategic combination of CAA and ICM bolsters our collective resources, expertise, and relationships to deliver even more opportunities for our world-class clients to build their careers and their brands across multiple disciplines and platforms in an evolving marketplace.

“Our strong financial position enables us to continue to expand and diversify our businesses, with service and representation remaining central to what we do and who we are. We’re fortunate to have a partner in ICM who shares our commitment to the widest and most inclusive vision possible for what our clients and company can accomplish together.”

ICM’s Chris Silbermann, who will join CAA’s shareholder board, added: “We’re thrilled to partner and combine forces with the talented CAA team. Together, we will build upon our accomplishments and entrepreneurial spirit, and continue to demonstrate an unwavering commitment to the best interests of our clients, as well as empowering new, diverse voices within the industry.”

ICM brings to CAA a global roster of artists in film, television, music, comedy, theatre, games, politics, and podcasting.

“[CAA’s] strong financial position enables us to continue to expand and diversify our businesses”

ICM’s music clients include Chaka Khan, Buddy Guy, Chris Rock, Corinne Bailey Rae, D’Angelo, Dan Auerbach, Good Charlotte, J. Cole, Jerry Seinfeld, Jill Scott, Kamasi Washington, Khalid, Lisa Loeb, Los Lonely Boys, Mavis Staples, Migos, Puddles Pity Party, Roger Daltrey, Rosanne Cash, Scott Stapp, Sheila E, The Black Keys, Tower of Power, Trey Songz and more.

Last year, ICM joined forces with Primary Talent International, one of London’s last major independent booking agencies.

Primary Talent is home to more than 900 music clients, including the likes of Stormzy, the 1975, alt-J, Noel Gallagher, Patti Smith, the Cure, Pussycat Dolls, Two Door Cinema Club, Dave, Lana Del Rey and Catfish and the Bottlemen.

CAA is a leading entertainment, media, and sports enterprise, with expertise in motion pictures, television, music, sports, theater, digital media, publishing, endorsements, media finance, consumer investing, fashion, podcasting, speaking, games, and philanthropy.

CAA was the first entertainment talent agency to build a sports business, create an investment bank, launch a venture fund, found technology start-up companies, and establish a business in China (CAA China), among other industry innovations.

“Together, we will build upon our accomplishments and entrepreneurial spirit”

A subsidiary of CAA, Entertainment Benefits Group (EBG) is a leader in corporate entertainment and travel, with more than 40,000 clients and 60 million users.

Founded in 1975, CAA is headquartered in Los Angeles, and has a significant presence in New York, Nashville, London, Beijing, and Shanghai, as well as offices in Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Geneva, Jacksonville, Las Vegas, Memphis, Miami, Munich, Orlando, Stockholm, and Toronto, among other locations globally.

Originally founded in 1975 as International Creative Management, then rebranded as ICM Partners in 2012, ICM has the expertise and influence of a legacy agency, and an entrepreneurial innovative spirit dedicated to serving its clients across the globe with passion and distinction.

ICM has offices in Los Angeles, New York, Washington DC, and London, and strategic partnerships in Europe, Asia, and beyond.

 


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Raft of appointments across US live industry

Live Nation Urban (LNU) has made Mari Arionne Davies its new VP of booking and talent.

In the new role, Davies will oversee artist bookings for LNU festivals and touring brands and will actively seek out partners to “introduce a new generation of tours, festivals, and activations”.

A founding member of Diversify ICM and a supporter of The Show Must Be Paused campaign, LA-based Davies has a background in social justice. Her remit at LNU will also include identifying avenues to support underserved voices in the business.

“It’s truly a thrill to be joining the dynamic team at Live Nation Urban,” said Davies. “LNU has shown tremendous growth and proven to be the premier source for live urban music. I look forward to working along with the team to further impact the company and the culture and to continue working with the brightest stars of hip hop, R&B and gospel as live events return to stages around the world.”

Most recently an agent at ICM Partners, Davies has worked with artists including Kelly Rowland and contributed to the rise of acts such as A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, Cordae, Kiana Ledé and Jacquees.

“We are beyond excited to bring Mari over to head up our festival booking and touring activities,” added LNU president Shawn Gee. “She is a rising star in the business, and we are fortunate to have her on the Live Nation Urban team”

“Whether it’s artists or our own internal team, Live Nation is always investing in people we believe in”

Live Nation has also promoted Jenifer Smith to head of urban tour marketing & strategy. She will lead the company’s urban tour marketing team, supporting its roster of R&B and hip-hop tours within the concerts division. Smith was a tour marketer at AEG Presents and Goldenvoice for close to a decade, prior to joining Live Nation two years ago.

“Whether it’s artists or our own internal team, Live Nation is always investing in people we believe in,” said Omar Al-joulani, head of talent & touring for Live Nation Concerts.

“Jenifer has been an incredible leader at Live Nation, and we are confident her strategic focus and experience will do big things for every artist working with our Urban marketing team.”

Elsewhere, venue management giant ASM Global has tapped industry veteran John Boyle as global chief content officer. Boyle was previously chief growth officer and interim CFO of Insomniac Events and will lead ASM Global’s presentation and production content pipeline for its venue portfolio.

“With John’s far-reaching experience and the content team we are building, we will provide a greater number and wider array of profitable events to our venues, which comprise the most iconic family of venues in the world,” said ASM Global president and CEO Ron Bension.

In addition, livestreaming firm Dreamstage has hired veteran entertainment marketing executive Jesse Kirshbaum as CMO. Kirshbaum brings previously led Nue Agency and has worked with clients such as Pusha T, J. Cole, Big Sean, Mike Posner, Action Bronson, Wale and Solange.

“I couldn’t be more excited about joining the ‘Dream Team’,” said Kirshbaum. “The company is well-positioned to lead the charge into the future of the music business. The pandemic has changed the live business and consumer and artist habits around it, forever,” said Kirshbaum. “The data shows that when done right, livestreaming has a positive effect on artists relationships with their fans and creates even more demand for live shows.”

 


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Amazon takes palm-recognition tech to venues

Amazon is bringing its palm-recognition technology to music venues, starting with the Red Rocks Amphitheatre in the US.

According to AP, the e-commerce giant has inked a deal with AEG to bring Amazon One to the Denver venue, which sells tickets on AEG’s ticketing site, AXS.

Starting from today (14 September), concertgoers at the 9,525-capacity venue can sign up to connect their palm to a ticketing account by hovering their hand over a device.

Concertgoers only need to sign up once and then can use their palm to get into other shows and events at the venue. An Amazon account is not needed to use it.

It’s the first time the Amazon One technology will be used outside some of Amazon’s stores, where shoppers can pay for groceries by swiping their palms.

Concertgoers only need to sign up once and then can use their palm to get into other shows and events at the venue

Bryan Perez, CEO of AXS, says other venues plan to add the technology in the coming months but he declined to say where or how many. AEG partners with more than 350 stadiums and theatres around the world.

“Concertgoers can get to their seats faster with their palm than holding up their phone to an attendant to scan a bar code. Those who want to scan their palms will have a separate lane to enter,” says Perez.

“You don’t have to fumble around with your phone. Your hand is always attached to your body.”

Addressing privacy concerns, Amazon said it keeps the palm images in a secure part of its cloud and doesn’t store the information on the Amazon One device.

Users can also ask for their information to be deleted at any time, the company added.

 


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