IQ Focus highlights live music’s Lost Causes
The Lost Causes: Campaigners & Advocacy, the 11th IQ Focus virtual panel and the first following last week’s break, caught up with industry pros whose work advocating for mental health, accessibility and diversity has been put on hold by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Chaired by FanFair Alliance’s Adam Webb, yesterday’s discussion – the first in a series of ‘Lost Causes’ panels – welcomed Francine Gorman, outreach coordinator at Keychange; Jacob Sylvester Bilabel of Green Music Initiative; Natalie Wade, founder of Small Green Shoots; Attitude is Everything’s head of volunteering and skills development, Paul Hawkins; and Musica Therapy’s Sital Panesar to find out what they’d been doing during live music’s shutdown – and how their work continues when it returns.
Wade expressed a typical view when she said Small Green Shoots – a charity which aims to help people from disadvantaged backgrounds engage with music and the arts – went from being “on the crest of the wave” at the start of 2020 to “everything being cancelled this summer”, meaning “no one could finish their projects”.
Similarly, said Hawkins, “the aim for 2020 was to be one big 20th-anniversary celebration” for accessibility charity Attitude is Everything. “The one positive we’ve got is that a 21st birthday still sounds like something worth celebrating!” he joked.
Panesar said the worldwide lockdowns in March weighed heavily on the industry’s mental health, as “people lost their coping mechanisms”. “Alongside the additional pressures of being in lockdown, that really compounds difficulties,” she said.
For disabled people, Hawkins added, the pandemic has had a “huge impact on people who don’t like to think of themselves as vulnerable”.
Bilabel said March “felt like a car crash in slow motion”, but the live music industry – and everyone working in it – will ultimately come through the other side
Gorman spoke of the importance of “building back better” when touring and festivals do resume. “Representation is a massive part of that conversation,” she explained. “There are all kinds of voices and they deserved to be sustained in the industry, at every kind of level.”
“We want to make sure that when live music does start again, disabled people have the same opportunities as any other talented people,” Hawkins added.
Bilabel said March “felt like a car crash in slow motion”, but emphasised that the live music industry – and everyone working in it – will ultimately come through the other side.
“Some companies will die, but the people behind them won’t,” he explained. “And the demand for culture – for festivals, for music, for cinema – will be even bigger than it is today.”
The return of live, added Wade, is a chance for “people to say yes” to new opportunities. “It’s so easy to say no, because there’s less work. But I want people to take a chance, to say, ‘Yes, maybe we can help you – let’s get behind it.’”
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Lost no more: Campaigners take centre stage as IQ Focus returns
After taking a week off last week, IQ’s popular virtual panel series, IQ Focus, returns this Thursday, inviting six new panellists to shine a light on worthy causes which have taken a back seat during the Covid-19 crisis.
Before Covid-19, a wide range of advocacy work was centred around live music, from campaigns to improve gender diversity in line-ups and accessibility for disabled customers to environmental projects and drives around recruitment, inclusion and mental health.
But what have experts and practitioners in these areas been doing since live music shut down? And when music events do return, against an uncertain economic backdrop is there a risk that their important work will be diminished?
The Lost Causes: Campaigners & Advocacy counts the broader cost of the business interruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic
The first in a new series of ‘Lost Causes’ discussions invites Francine Gorman, outreach coordinator at Keychange; Jacob Sylvester Bilabel of Green Music Initiative; Natalie Wade, founder of Small Green Shoots; Attitude is Everything’s head of volunteering and skills development, Paul Hawkins; Musica Therapy’s Sital Panesar; and chair Adam Webb (FanFair Alliance) to counts the broader cost of the business interruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
As with previous sessions, The Lost Causes: Campaigners & Advocacy will be streamed live on Facebook and YouTube. To set a reminder for Thursday 13 August’s session, head to IQ’s Facebook or YouTube pages now.
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Interactive Festival Forum: IFF goes virtual for 2020
In light of the ongoing coronavirus crisis, this year’s International Festival Forum will be held online format as the first Interactive Festival Forum (iFF), organisers have announced.
IFF, the leading global platform for booking agents and festival bookers, is traditionally held in London in early autumn, as conversations about next year’s festival line-ups begin. However, amid continued concern over the spread of Covid-19, the sixth IFF will become the debut iFF, streaming live on 2 and 3 September 2020.
“We’ve left the decision as late as possible, but with ongoing restrictions around Covid-19 in place taking IFF online this year was the only option,” says ILMC head Greg Parmley.
“Fortunately, with so many vital topics to discuss right now, this new format allows more professionals than ever to participate in the conversation.”
The new iFF will invite hundreds of festival and agency professionals from around the world to congregate for two days of discussion, networking and festival booking.
“With so many vital topics to discuss right now, this new format allows more professionals than ever to participate in the conversation”
While attendance at IFF is typically limited by its invitation-only attendance policy and restrictions in physical venue capacity, this year’s virtual edition means colleagues and professionals from around the world can congregate in larger numbers.
The iFF conference programme will cover the breadth of the international festival scene, from artist development and the roles of agents to sector recovery ideas and new income streams. Alongside the discussion and workshops, meanwhile, will sit the ever-popular iFF networking lounge and targeted speedmeetings for new introductions.
The provisional iFF 2020 schedule is online now, with details of all panels, workshops, quickfire Soapbox Sessions, networking events and more.
In order to allow as many people as possible to attend this unique, one-off edition of IFF, tickets are priced at £50 for both festivals and agents. Click here to register or for more information on iFF 2020 tickets.
The sold-out IFF 2019 took place in Camden, London, last 24–26 September.
IPM Says! returns with second virtual panel
The second virtual IPM Says! panel took place this morning (2 June), welcoming five international event professionals to discuss the current state of the production sector and a positive way forward from the shutdown.
Joining host Carl AH Martin for “It ain’t all Doom & Gloom!”: The sequel – which followed June’s inaugural IPM Says! session – were Lisa Ryan of EFM Global Logistics, Dutch Music Export’s Marcel Albers, Nick Love of the UK’s Assess All Areas, Sanjin Corovic of Serbia’s Production Pool and Sophie Ridley from Safents Consulting (Ireland).
After referencing today’s #LetTheMusicPlay campaign in the UK, which is calling for government support for the beleaguered live industry, Martin asked to share their own experiences of the past four months, as well as how their local markets have adapted to the coronavirus crisis.
Ryan said the global production sector’s recovery relies on lifting on restrictions on both mass gatherings and border crossings. “The fact that there’s no consistency and no real certainty around who can travel, and whether they have to quarantine when they get there” is preventing the industry getting restarted, she suggested.
Albers praised the Dutch government response in the early days of the crisis, when authorities stepped in to stop production companies from collapsing. However, he said he shares Martin’s concern that many smaller firms may still go under, saying that future aid must be distributed fairly in order to ensure the survival of businesses of all sizes.
“Some events are happening … It’s not much, but it’s something”
In response to a question from Miller’s Martin Goebbels, which asked whether production staff would be willing to work uninsured while Covid-19 is still a threat, Love said crew must decide for themselves. “There will be some who will take the risk, and there’ll be others who want to be cautious about their health and won’t go back to work,” he explained. Love suggested it would be very unlikely for events to be face any legal action as a result of any infection, explaining: “There’s no way to prove the outbreak originated at any one point in time.”
Ridley suggested disclaimers could be the answer to liability concerns, noting she is involved in a television production on which everyone has to sign one. “Whether it holds up, whether it can actually be enforced” is debatable, she said, “but we are having to sign a disclaimer.”
Describing the situation in Serbia, Corovic said events look likely to return later this year. “I’m not thinking as far as next spring; I’m thinking about autumn or winter,” he said. “Some events are happening and I think they’ll generate some kind of income. It’s not much, but it’s something.”
Watch the full discussion back on YouTube above.
GEI launches Summer Series of virtual panels
The first live GEI Summer Series session, organised by A Greener Festival and the Green Events & Innovations Conference (GEI), takes place on World Environment Day this Friday (5 June).
Featuring speakers from the environmental and live events sectors, the virtual panel, Preventing Plastic Pollution Post Pandemic, will be broadcast live on Facebook and YouTube at 3pm BST (4pm CET).
With Covid-19 pandemic having turned business as usual upside down, panellists will consider how this ‘new normal’ is affecting the use of plastics.
Are perceptions and protocols for reuse being reframed? How do we manage the mounting requirement for personal protective equipment (PPE), which are often often single-use plastics? What changes, ideas and actions are coming from the event community during this period of reflection and response, and where do we go from here?
A Greener Festival’s Claire O’Neill chairs the session, which also features:
- Melinda Watson, plastics campaigner, Raw Foundation
- Camille Guitteau, project manager, Bye Bye Plastic
- Patricia Yagüe, head of sustainability. Europe, Live Nation
- Alex Brooke, co-founder, Peppermint Events and Bars
- James Roles, founder, Stack-Cup
For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
‘The future is bright’: Tech leaders talk monetising virtual shows
The heads of some of the industry’s most inventive companies starred in the most recent IQ Focus panel, appropriately called The Innovators, which discussed the flurry of innovation going on behind the scenes during the ongoing halt in concert touring.
Dice’s UK managing director, Amy Oldham, began by speaking on the importance of “identifying the value” in new platforms and innovations. “In the beginning [of the pandemic], there was a lot of noise and a lot of not-very-good-quality shows,” she explained.
“Lewis [Capaldi] is a great example” of what the industry should be working towards, she added. “We did his show exclusively a few weeks ago. He did an acoustic set of the first album, and it actually felt like being on a night out – you had people taking photos of themselves hugging the TV saying it’s the best £5 they ever spent.”
Tommas Arnby of Locomotion Entertainment said his client, Yungblud – whose Yungblud Show Live (described as a “rock-and-roll version of Jimmy Kimmel”) was one of the early highlights of the livestreaming boom – was supposed to be “doing five sold-out Kentish Town Forums” in London this week, and his online presence is “about how to recreate that” live experience.
“In the very beginning these bedroom and kitchen performances played an important role,” but now people expect a more polished experience, said Ben Samuels, MelodyVR’s president and GM in North America. “What we’re doing is investing a lot to ensure these shows look and feel fantastic. […] They should be the best thing to actually being on stage or in the front row of a real show. So production values have been crucial to us.”
“Artists have to feel comfortable and confident about charging for their content”
Sheri Bryant, president of online ‘social VR’ platform Sansar, said a virtual concert should be looked as “additive; it’s not going to replace the live performance”.
Oldham – who revealed that Dice is now selling tickets in at least 113 countries following the launch of its livestreaming platform, Dice TV – agreed that while everyone on the panel is doing a great job keeping fans engaged while touring is on hold, “one thing we haven’t nailed is giving artists confidence that just because they’re doing something on a stream doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be charging.
“All the movie studios are shut, and yet we don’t see them dropping films online and saying, ‘Just pay what you fancy!’ Artists have to feel comfortable and confident about charging for their content.”
Chair Mike Malak, from Paradigm Talent Agency, compared charging for online video content to the transition in the recording business from fans pirating music to (legally) streaming it, noting that “we all grew up watching free YouTube videos”.
Bryant said Sansar wants “everyone to be able to experience” the platform, suggesting offering both a free tier and a “VIP experience” that could include perks for those who’ve paid, such as meet and greets with an artist or special powers inside its virtual world.
“The most important thing for us is to show agents and managers that people had a great time,” said Prajit Gopal, CEO of livestreaming platform Looped. “That’s always been really important – going back to them and showing them,‘Here’s the reaction, and this is why you should be charging for it.’”
“Imagine if this happened 20, 30, 40 years ago – it would have been catastrophic”
With talk turning to sponsorship in virtual events, Oldham warned that “sometimes you can oversaturate an artist by doing too many partnerships”. However, Bryant said the music industry has much to learn from the wider entertainment business when it comes to getting its talent out there.
“Look at how the YouTube stars, the Twitch streamers got big: through hard work and with lots of exposure,” she said. “If you’re good and you’re getting out there, you’ll see that growth. I don’t think people should be precious about exposure – you want to be across as many platforms as possible, because you never know when one of them will see a big spike [in traffic].”
The discussion ended on a positive note, with Samuels highlighting how fortunate the live music business is to have all this technology at its disposal at such a difficult time.
“Imagine if this [coronavirus] happened 20, 30, 40 years ago – it would have been catastrophic,” he said. “In a weird way, we’re lucky this happened now, with all these platforms that can continue to bring high-quality content to fans and enable artists to still make a living.”
Arnby agreed: “All these choices, all these ways to connect… The future is very bright.”
IQ Focus virtual panel series launches
With much of the international live music business home working in lockdown, IQ is launching a weekly series of livestreamed panels, IQ Focus.
The fully interactive sessions will be streamed live to both Facebook and YouTube, with forthcoming topics including the European festival summer, venue recovery plans, innovation and new business models, and the agency business 3.0.
The first session – Staying Safe & Sane During Covid – will consider how to best protect the mental health and wellbeing of music professionals and artists alike who are juggling disruption to working conditions, employment & financial concerns, a difficult global outlook and more.
Chaired by Stacey Pragnell at ATC Live, the conversation will feature Lollapalooza Berlin promoter Stefan Lehmkuhl (Goodlive), the Music Industry Therapists and Coaches founder Tamsin Embleton, tour manager Andy Franks (Music Support) and Co-Founder & CEO at mental health and wellness festival Getahead.life, Jenni Cochrane.
The first IQ Focus session will consider how to best protect the mental health and wellbeing of music professionals and artists
“With much of the business physically fragmented right now, it’s more vital than ever that we keep communicating and exchanging ideas,” says ILMC head Greg Parmley. “We hope these new Focus sessions will help bridge the gap between the current situation and this magical, inspirational sector exploding back into life.”
The full line up of forthcoming sessions is below (some include calendar links), with further details about each session being announced shortly.
Staying Safe & Sane During Covid
Thursday 7 May @ 16:00BST/17:00CET
Surviving Covid-19 is not just a case of beating the virus itself. ATC Live’s Stacey Pragnell leads a conversation between industry pros and mental health & wellbeing practitioners to give practical advice as they consider how best to stay sane and safe during these tough times.
Festival Forum: Here Comes 21
Thurs 14 May @ 16:00BST/17:00CET
The 2020 festival summer will be remembered for all the wrong reasons. With much of the season already cancelled, and the rest awaiting their fate, how are Europe’s festival elite coping? In unprecedented circumstances, what’s been learnt, and how have such monumental challenges been faced? And looking to the autumn and beyond, what does the road the recovery look like for the vital summer sector?
The Venue’s Venue: Building Back
Thurs 21 May @ 15:30BST/16:30CET
The touring world has changed considerably since ILMC’s Venue Summit in March. All of the key arena and stadia are currently shuttered or repurposed in the fight against Coronavirus. IQ’s third Focus session invites leading venue professionals to discuss strategies for weathering the storm, what the key learnings have been so far, and what emerging from life under lockdown might look like.
The Innovation Session
Thurs 28 May @ 16:00BST/17:00CET
While the catastrophic impact of Covid-19 continues to resonate throughout live music, the halt in normal business is seeing a flurry of innovation, fledgling business models, and new ideas. From an explosion in livestreaming to 3D venues, tipping and online meet & greets, what green shoots are rising from this current situation? Paradigm’s Mike Malak invites a line-up of freethinkers and experts to discuss what shape the live business 2.0 may take.
Grassroots Music Venues in Crisis
Thurs 4 June @ 16:00BST/17:00CET
One of the hardest hit areas of the business, grassroots music venues may well also be the first to emerge from the current crisis over the coming weeks and months. Across Europe, the fate of these vital stages on which talent is born and grown, is mixed, with some facing closure. How are our small venues being protected by the organisations and industry around them, and what still needs to be done? And once their doors are open again, how different will gig going be?
The Agency Business 3.0
Thurs 11 June @ 16:00BST/17:00CET
For multinational agencies juggling investors, cashflow and large numbers of employees, the Covid-19 crisis has presented significant challenges. And for the smaller boutique outfits, the hiatus in touring is no less impactful. But when the business does return, will this period have changed how agencies are structured, and how they work? What routes back do agents see working, and what new opportunities might emerge? In an industry fuelled by creative thinking, what comes next?
The Live Business Steps Up
Thurs 18 June @ 16:00BST/17:00CET
No sooner had the C-word become a ‘thing’ in early March, companies across the live music business had sprung into action, raising funds; producing face masks and incubators; shipping or freighting medical supplies to those in need. Proving time and again that a positive, entrepreneurial spirit can move mountains, there’s much to be proud of about our industry during this period. We meet some of those who stepped up, as they tell their own story.
The Crystal Ball: Predictions for 2019
IQ: Panellists, what do you anticipate being next year’s greatest challenges, both for you and for the wider industry?
Emma Bownes, vice-president of programming, AEG Europe: I think most of the industry is concerned about the impact of Brexit on the music industry – will it lead to restrictions on travel for British acts?
The government have to make sure that musicians, particularly smaller ones, can continue to tour the EU easily without the need for visas – and similarly for European artists – while they develop as artists and build their fan-bases and careers.
Beverley Whitrick, strategic director, Music Venue Trust: So much attention is being focused on Brexit that it makes it even more difficult to advance with the changes needed to protect the grassroots of the music industry. Not surprisingly, enormous and necessary energy is being spent trying to safeguard international touring and ensuring that the UK continues to be a leader in music.
Trying to reconcile what is needed at home with these global concerns poses the greatest challenge for 2019.
Stephan Thanscheidt, managing director, FKP Scorpio: A challenge faced by both the touring and festival sectors is the rising costs in all areas, such as personnel, production, administrative expenses and, especially, artist fees. Of course, ticket prices cannot – and should not – be scaled limitlessly, so we need to find ways to optimise and allocate these expenses.
Okan Tombulca, managing director, eps: I think our biggest challenge will be the same as for the rest of the industry: labour. Europe-wide, there is a huge problem with the availability of staff – security, stagehands, event co-ordinators – as well as equipment.
“Europe-wide, there is a huge problem with the availability of staff”
Kim Bloem, vice-head promoter, Mojo Concerts: The biggest issue over the last two years is the lack of personnel and materials for the number of events taking place from May to September. The number of shows, festivals and special events is rapidly increasing in this period, and therefore building crew, technicians, riggers, security personnel, etc., get exhausted because they’re working crazy hours.
We need to make sure live music remains a safe working place for everybody, but getting the number of people needed is very challenging.
Okan Tombulca: I think 2019 will be the biggest year in 20 years in terms of the number of events going on.
Jules de Lattre, senior agent, United Talent Agency: The issue of ticket pricing, both on the primary and secondary markets. Although significant progress was made in 2018, how to combat illicit secondary-ticketing practices will continue to be an issue we deal with on a daily basis.
As the secondary market becomes more regulated but not fully eradicated, will a more widely used and accepted model of dynamic pricing on the primary market emerge?
IQ: How about the biggest opportunities?
Jules de Lattre: As music consumption on ISPs explodes, there will be increasing opportunities for fans to fully connect with artists in the live space.
Mark Yovich, president, Ticketmaster International: There are more opportunities than ever before to empower artists to connect with their fans and harness their live experience. Whether that’s through digital tickets or facial recognition, we are continuing to innovate in a wide range of products that are changing the landscape of the live business.
“Hopefully, 2019 will see further action to ensure that live music is accessible to the widest possible audience”
Emma Bownes: This year saw a great deal of progress made in terms of restricting the ability of professional ticket resellers to acquire and resell large amounts of tickets with a huge mark-up. The British government introduced new legislation to ban resellers from using bots to purchase tickets in bulk, secondary ticketing sites Get Me In! and Seatwave are closing down, and the O2 and the SSE Arena, Wembley, both introduced a digital ticketing system featuring a dynamically changing barcode system that ensures tickets cannot be copied or shared on secondary sites.
Hopefully, 2019 will see further action to ensure that live music is accessible to the widest possible audience.
IQ: Can you identify any key market trends you expect to see emerging next year?
Stephan Thanscheidt: Concentration of power. Next to the continuously evolving activities of FKP Scorpio in Germany and abroad, as well as the strategic partnership with AEG, the live sector of [FKP majority owner] CTS Eventim is growing further due to purchases in Italy and Spain. The same can, of course, be observed at Live Nation and other international companies.
Beverley Whitrick: More grassroots music venues will close unless people who claim to be supportive actually start demonstrating that support through their actions.
Stephan Thanscheidt: Another observation is the formation of investors and investment groups who don’t have a background as a promoter buying up festivals all over Europe.
“Apart from music and comedy, we see the market for speaking events growing”
Mark Yovich: One word: mobile. We’ve been saying it for years, but 2018 saw a huge spike in the percentage of mobile traffic and, more importantly, mobile ticket sales. We think mobile-first with everything we do, from how fans discover events through to digital methods of entry.
Beverley Whitrick: Local activism and campaigns to support music will grow. Both artists and audiences are getting more vocal about the value of live music to communities, local economies, and health and wellbeing.
Emma Bownes: Alongside the music programming you’d expect to see at both venues, we’re seeing a lot of shows coming through the O2 and The SSE Arena, Wembley, that are aimed at more of a family audience: Hugh Jackman, Cirque du Soleil, NBA, Harlem Globetrotters, Strictly Come Dancing, WWE…
We’re also hosting Superstars of Gymnastics at the O2 – a major new showcase of the sport, featuring Simone Biles and Max Whitlock.
Kim Bloem: My colleague Gideon Karting promoted a show with K-pop band BTS this year, which was huge, so that is definitely something that we expect to see emerging in the market in the next few years.
Also, apart from music and comedy – the latter of which is a genre that sees massive audience interest – we see the market for speaking events growing. This year, Barack Obama did a couple of events, and I hope we can have his wife Michelle come to the Netherlands at some point. We can hopefully embrace this kind of role model and learn from them how we can all contribute to a better world.
“I’d like to see much better communication between all sectors of our industry”
IQ: What are you most looking forward to in 2019?
Mark Yovich: The Sunday night at Reading Festival for Foo Fighters. Their London Stadium gig was amazing and I can’t wait to see them again.
Emma Bownes: Sheffield Wednesday turning things around and making it to the play-offs.
Jules de Lattre: We have a very exciting summer of major international festivals planned for Christine and the Queens in 2019. Considering how strong and unique her live show is, I expect the summer will have a significant impact on this campaign. I’m excited for festivalgoers to see and experience this incredible show.
Mark Yovich: Muse and Fleetwood Mac are some other great stadium shows I’m looking forward to, as well as Billie Eilish at Shepherd’s Bush Empire in early 2019.
Beverley Whitrick: Continuing to meet amazing people whose passion for music makes the work we do worthwhile.
IQ: Finally, what, if anything, could the industry do better together in 2019?
Okan Tombulca: In Germany, we have a twice-yearly meeting of all festival promoters and service companies, to share information about health and safety and develop one set of rules for the whole country. I’d like to see much better communication between all sectors of our industry, to share knowledge, help each other and work better together.
“Anyone in the business should do whatever they can to provide support to those in need”
Kim Bloem: Be a bit nicer to each other, work more closely together, and try to reduce the amount of paperwork and covering our own asses all the time. If we work hard and well, we should be able to trust each other’s judgment.
Jules de Lattre: Conversations about mental health are becoming more commonplace and I hope will continue to do so. Anyone in the business should look around them and do whatever they can to provide reliable health and wellness support to those in need.
Gender diversity and equality in the music industry as a whole – from the presence of female-fronted acts at festivals to gender pay gaps and fairer access to leadership roles in the music industry – will also remain a major talking point in the year to come.
Mark Yovich: Accessibility is a huge issue in our industry and we’re working closely with Attitude is Everything on their Ticketing Without Barriers campaign to make sure more is being done.
There seems to be some great momentum, and now is the time for us all to come together to find solutions to ensure equal access to live entertainment.
Stephan Thanscheidt: We need to stand united against political and societal injustice.
Music is being used by groups who are against democratic values and human rights – so why shouldn’t we do the same for freedom and peace?