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Coldplay, Live Nation and more co-sign on sustainability study

A comprehensive study of the live music industry’s carbon footprint will be conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and co-funded by Coldplay, Live Nation and Warner Music Group (WMG).

The report will suggest practical solutions to reduce the environmental impact of live music events “at every level,” from pubs and clubs to stadiums.

The partnership will kick off with an initial research phase focused on the UK and the US which will be presented as an Assessment Report of Live Music and Climate Change, anticipated to be completed in July 2024.

The report will aim to develop a comprehensive assessment of the relationship between live music and climate change, identify key areas where the industry and concertgoers can make tangible improvements to reduce emissions and provide a detailed analysis of the latest developments in green technology and sustainable practices.

MIT’s Environmental Solutions Initiative (MIT ESI), a leading climate and environmental academic research and solutions group, will recommend scientifically informed actions and policies that can be replicated across the live music industry to reduce its environmental footprint and establish a sustainable future for live events.

“I applaud the spirit of openness and collaboration that will allow us to identify specific challenges”

MIT Prof. John E. Fernandez, director of the ESI, says: “I’m delighted that we will be working with our partners to co-create recommendations for a sustainable future in music. As well as jointly funding the research, I applaud the spirit of openness and collaboration that will allow us to identify specific challenges in areas such as live event production, freight and audience travel, and recommend solutions that can be implemented across the entire industry to address climate change.”

Coldplay launched their current Music Of The Spheres world tour with a pledge to cut emissions by 50%. In June last year, the group issued an update on the tour’s sustainability initiatives, revealing that, on a show-by-show comparison, it has so far produced 47% less CO2e emissions than their previous A Head Full of Dreams stadium tour in 2016/17.

More than seven million trees have already been planted around the world, with one being planted for each concert-goer.

In 2022, Live Nation partnered with Coldplay and major public transportation providers to offer fans free or discounted rides to incentivise and encourage green travel. The initiative supported a 59% average increase in public transport ridership on show days across four US cities.

“We’re proud to share best practices and solutions developed by Green Nation in this report,” says Lucy August-Perna, director of global sustainability, Live Nation. “Helping accelerate sustainable practices benefits everyone who enjoys live music, while ensuring a strong future for the industry. We look forward to sharing the report with industry partners and fans alike.”

Interested in the intersection of sustainability and live events? Don’t miss out on the 16th edition of the Green Events and Innovations conference. For more information, click here.

 


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All change as BMG exits live business

BMG is stepping away from the live music business after agreeing a deal which will see its two live companies, Undercover and Karo, transferred back to the minority shareholders.

The German-headquartered music giant acquired a majority stake in Brunswick-based promoter/event production firm Undercover in October 2020, enabling it to “offer artists an integrated tour promotion and ticketing service” on an opt-in basis, in addition to “releasing recordings and publishing songs”.

BMG and Undercover subsequently formed a strategic alliance with Karo, the company behind the Taubertal Festival, in 2021, and booked out Berlin’s 1,600-seat Theater des Westens every night until the end of 2024 to showcase domestic and international recording artists.

However, in late 2023, BMG CEO Thomas Coesfeld announced the company would be focusing on its “core service areas” of music publishing and recordings moving forward.

“We wish BMG and its team all the best and every success in focusing on its core business”

“Michael Schacke [Undercover founder/owner] and Volker Hirsch [Karo founder/owner] are seasoned entrepreneurs who have built enviable reputations in the live music business,” says BMG chief content officer Dominique Casimir. “We are pleased to have agreed terms which allow them to pursue an independent future and we wish them and their teams the best for the future.”

The new deals will see the two companies return to their previous ownership structure.

“I have looked for and found the best solution for Undercover and our artists,” says Schacke, who launched the company in 1991. “Undercover will remain strong and independent in the future. We wish BMG and its team all the best and every success in focusing on its core business.”

Founded in Tauber Valley in 1996, Taubertal has featured acts including Biffy Clyro, Placebo, Rise Against, Pink, Die Toten Hosen, The National and Skunk Anansie.

“It has been a pleasure working with Michael Schacke and Dominique Casimir and we are pleased yet again to be pursuing an independent course as we near the 30th year of existence of Taubertal in 2026,” adds Hirsch.

The record business has had a complex relationship with its live counterpart down the year

The record business has had a complex relationship with its live counterpart down the years, arguably reaching its zenith with the controversial proliferation of so-called ‘360’ deals with artists in the late 2000s/early 2010s.

More recently, major label Warner Music Group (WMG) crossed the divide to acquire India-based live events and artist management company E-Positive. WMG said that the deal would strengthen its position in the market while allowing its artists “to tap into new expertise in brand partnerships and live events”.

Also in 2023, Warner Music France’s live entertainment and concert production company Décibels Productions secured a majority stake in French talent agency Les Visiteurs du Soir, while Warner Music Poland bought a minority stake in Polish concert and festival promoter Big Idea in 2022.

Meanwhile, Sony Music Masterworks, a division of Sony Music Entertainment (SME), acquired a majority stake in Barcelona-based Proactiv Entertainment last year. Other investments by Sony Music Masterworks include Backyard Cinema; Holland-based GEA Live; Dubai-based concert promotion, talent management, events and production company MAC Global; Raymond Gubbay Ltd and UK concert promotion and production company Senbla.

Elsewhere, Universal Music Group (UMG) launched live music arm U-Live in 2012. French-headquartered media giant Vivendi, which announced the partial spin-off of its UMG stake in 2021, is reportedly working with advisers on potentially offloading parts of its Vivendi Village subsidiary, including See Tickets and 11 festivals such as the UK’s Love Supreme and Kite, as well as Garorock in France.

Sources indicate that Vivendi has concluded its ticketing and festival businesses were not of sufficient scale to compete with the likes of Live Nation and AEG. The Financial Times reported the firm is seeking up to £300 million (€348m) for See Tickets, which it bought for €96m in 2011, with AEG and CTS Eventim said to be among the interested parties.

 


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Warner acquires Indian live events firm E-Positive

Warner Music Group (WMG) has acquired India-based live events and artist management company, E-Positive.

WMG says that the deal strengthens its position in the market and will allow its artists “to tap into new expertise in brand partnerships and live events”.

The record label conglomerate officially launched Warner Music India in March 2020 and has since struck distribution deals with Bollywood specialist Tips Music and Punjabi music company Sky Digital India.

The firm has also inked strategic partnerships with Indian pop star Armaan Malik (in February 2022), with JetSynthesys in September 2021, and with Jjust Music in April 2022. In February, the major acquired a majority stake in India-based digital media and music firm, Divo.

Now, WMG has acquired E-Positive, which represents Darshan Raval – “one of the top five most streamed artists in India and the fastest growing artists in the region, having quadrupled his daily streams in the last 12 months”.

E-Positive will continue to act as a standalone company and will be led by founder and CEO, Naushad Khan, who has promoted more than 15,000 shows in the market.

“Naushad’s knowledge of brand partnerships and the live sector will be a great asset for us at Warner Music India”

Since launching E-Positive, he has also been instrumental in managing the careers of a number of artists, including Raval, whom he discovered and helped develop into a star.

“This is an exciting day in the journey of E-Positive,” says Khan. “I have worked towards developing a legacy for over 10 years and have shaped the journey of each one of my artists. I’m delighted that we have found a new home at Warner Music India. The team at Warner Music India will aid us in expanding into the international market and enable our artists to connect with more fans globally. We are looking forward to the next chapter of E-Positive.”

Jay Mehta, managing director, Warner Music India, adds: “Naushad has done an incredible job of positioning E-Positive as a leading management company and his knowledge of brand partnerships and the live sector will be a great asset for us at Warner Music India.

“And it’s a privilege to welcome such a phenomenal artist as Darshan Raval into the global Warner Music family. Darshan is a true star, and we believe he can become a staple on the global stage.”

Alfonso Perez Soto, president, Emerging Markets, Warner Music, said: “This deal once again reinforces our desire to become the number one destination for artists in India, and welcoming an artist like Darshan onto our roster is a real statement of intent.

“Darshan, as well as the whole of the E-Positive roster, will be able to harness Warner Music’s global network and start to connect with a wider international audience.

“This deal helps us to level-up and enhance our 360 offering to artists by bringing in the knowledge and expertise of Naushad to Warner Music. Our improved suite of services will enable our artists to transcend the whole of India and help bring Indian culture to the rest of the world.”

 


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Saweetie set for virtual Super Bowl gig on Roblox

Hip-hop artist Saweetie is to star in a free virtual concert as part of the NFL’s Super Bowl LVII event lineup.

The Saweetie Super Bowl Concert Presented by Intuit on Roblox will take place in Warner Music Group’s Rhythm City, a music-themed social roleplay experience on the online game platform.

The American rapper will perform a family-friendly, fully motion-captured concert to celebrate the 2023 Super Bowl and promote a message of female empowerment. The show, which premieres on Friday 10 February at 7pm ET and will re-air every hour on the hour until 12 February, will also be paired with a collection of digital items that will be sold on the Roblox marketplace.

“I’m really excited to bring this iconic moment to the metaverse and share my music with a whole new audience in such a unique way,” says Saweetie. “As an artist, innovator, and football fan, to be able to perform during Super Bowl LVII weekend in this new world – Rhythm City on Roblox – is something I never imagined that I would be involved in. I am very grateful and happy about this opportunity.”

“The Saweetie Super Bowl Concert Presented by Intuit will be an anchor entertainment event bringing fans together in the metaverse”

The Philadelphia Eagles will face off against the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LVII in State Farm Stadium, Glendale, Arizona on Sunday 12 February. Rihanna is scheduled to headline the coveted Halftime Show.

“The Saweetie Super Bowl Concert Presented by Intuit will be an anchor entertainment event bringing fans together in the metaverse and further cementing the tradition of content innovation at the Super Bowl,” says Ed Kiang, VP of video gaming at the NFL. “Working with Roblox has enabled us to create interactive shared experiences.”

The Saweetie Super Bowl Concert and Rhythm City are experiences developed in partnership with gaming and content company Gamefam.

“Bringing a cultural moment like the Super Bowl to the metaverse with such innovative partners marks a shift in how brands are coming together to create the next generation of metaverse gaming experiences,” adds Gamefam chief business officer Ricardo Briceno.

As previously announced, Paramore, Dave Matthews Band and Imagine Dragons will top the bill at the fourth Bud Light Super Bowl Music Fest at Phoenix’s 18,000-cap Footprint Center from 9-11 February 2023.

 


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Warner Music partners with DRESSX on digital merch

Label giant Warner Music Group (WMG) has announced a first-of-its-kind partnership with digital fashion retailer DRESSX, which will enable acts to design their own virtual merchandise.

Select WMG artists will collaborate directly with DRESSX to design and launch 3D and AR virtual clothing that fans can collect across platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat, enabling them to unlock new revenue streams while creating additional outlets for fans to showcase their fandom across multiple digital worlds.

“The representation of our future digital selves will be as important and, if you’re measuring by sheer volume of interactions, maybe more important than how we represent ourselves physically,” says Oana Ruxandra, WMG’s chief digital officer & EVP, business development.

“As our digital identities become exponentially more robust and impactful, we are focused on building partnerships that will enable WMG and our artists. With its leadership in wearables and sustainability, DRESSX is exactly the type of partner we need sprinting alongside us as we build for the future.”

The deal marks the latest in WMG’s growing number of Web3 collaborations.

“Digital merch and swag from musicians will definitely be a part of the digital wardrobes of fans”

“We are extremely proud to partner with Warner Music Group and their incredible artists to continue building and scaling the DRESSX meta-closet vision for the future,” say DRESSX co-founders Daria Shapovalova and Natalia Modenova. “Digital fashion is a visual language for communicating and creating bonds online, and at DRESSX we use technology to provide the utility for digital wearables using augmented reality, machine learning, and blockchain.

“Digital merch and swag from musicians will definitely be a part of the digital wardrobes of fans, and it’s great to see that more and more stakeholders believe in this new domain that is already changing the fashion industry at a scale. Every day, we are getting closer to our aim of giving a meta-closet to every person in the world, making fashion accessible to everyone through innovation and tech.”

Launched in August 2020, the company has become the largest platform for digital-only fashion, with more than 3,000 digital items available in the DRESSX library, and launched the largest AR fashion app on the market. DRESSX has partnered with leading tech, fashion, and lifestyle companies, including Meta, Roblox, Snapchat, Google, Coca-Cola and FARFETCH.

DRESSX is committed to sustainable fashion and has invested in science-based evaluation of the carbon footprint of its digital fashions. Since June 2021, it has partnered with Flow Carbon to offset the carbon emission from all of its operational activities, making the company carbon neutral due to offsets.

 


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Songkick promotes Sarah Jones to GM

Concert discovery service Songkick has elevated Sarah Jones to general manager.

Based out of Songkick’s London HQ, Jones will succeed MD Bill Ashton, who will be leaving the business at the end of March.

Jones will oversee the launch of Songkick Campaigns, a “first of its kind” marketing service that allows for direct and bespoke fan messaging and also enables tour marketers to control how to activate marketing campaigns and promote tours directly to fans.

Recorded music giant Warner Music Group (WMG), one of the ‘big three’ record labels, acquired “selected assets” from Songkick in 2017, including its concert-discovery app, website and the Songkick trademark.

“I’m elated to have the opportunity to take up this role at Songkick,” says Jones. “After a long hiatus, live music is finally back in a big way and we’re already seeing a 50% increase in fans indicating their intent to attend concerts, in comparison to pre-Covid times. Our teams are more ready than ever before to support fans and artists, wherever they are in the world, as they venture back to the live music experience once again.”

Jones joined Songkick in 2018 as commercial director, before being promoted to VP, commercial in 2021. Previously, she spent 14 years with the BBC, where she headed up its global partnership strategy across its video and podcast portfolio.

“When live music ground to a halt, Sarah and Bill were central to the business pivoting and finding new ways to engage our audiences and artists”

“Sarah’s track record is incredible and I can’t think of a better person to take the reins of Songkick,” adds Benjamin Blank, president of WMG’s media business. “I’m sad to see Bill leave, and I want to thank him for all he’s done and for leaving the business on such a high.

“When live music ground to a halt, Sarah and Bill were central to the business pivoting and finding new ways to engage our audiences and artists. I’m excited to see Sarah and the team accelerate the Songkick mission of enabling artists to strengthen and deepen their relationship with a growing global audience of passionate engaged fans”

More than 19 million music fans worldwide use Songkick to track their favourite artists, discover concerts and buy tickets. Its Songkick Tourbox feature, meanwhile, provides tools for artist teams to manage and promote tour dates globally.

Elsewhere, Simon McCabe, who joined Songkick in 2021, has been promoted to VP, technology, WMX Media, WMG’s next generation services division.

 


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Roblox secures David Guetta for first concert of 2022

Roblox is kicking off 2022 with the first DJ set performed by an avatar of international star David Guetta.

Created in partnership with Roblox developer Wonder Works Studio and Warner Music Group (WMG), the DJ set will premiere on 4 February at 16:00 PT and continue throughout the weekend.

Guetta will perform as his avatar self in an intergalactic themed set, where attendees can navigate the show through an “asteroid-traversing obstacle course”.

According to Roblox, the virtual universe will be decked out with crystals, neon lights, lasers, holograms, and thumping speakers.

Fans will be able to interact through DJ and dance battles, a secret puzzle used to unlock special abilities and archives, virtual merchandise for purchase and as prizes, Q&As with Guetta, and a 45-minute set for the Roblox community.

“We’ve built something that will play host to one of the most unique shows I’ve ever done”

Roblox VP and global head of music Jon Vlassopulos, says: “We’re thrilled to work with our friends at Warner to host another major virtual concert with one of the biggest stars to ever perform on Roblox.

“David has been engaging and inspiring music fans all over the world for over 20 years with his unique DJ performances, and now he can play, as his avatar, to millions of fans in one weekend in this fun, interactive, intergalactic DJ Party world on Roblox. It’s going to expose a new generation of fans to dance music and take clubbing to a whole new level!”

Guetta added: “Working on this concert has allowed me to bring an amazing new creation to life with design and production to suit the virtual world. We’ve built something that will play host to one of the most unique shows I’ve ever done and I can’t wait for everyone to experience it with me.”

WMG have previously brought stars including Twenty One Pilots, Royal Blood, Ava Max and Why Don’t We to perform in the Roblox metaverse.

The label has been making moves elsewhere in the metaverse too, penning a deal with gaming metaverse The Sandbox to create its first music-themed world.

 


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WMG to create ‘music-themed world’ in Sandbox metaverse

Warner Music Group (WMG) is to create the first music-themed world in The Sandbox gaming metaverse, following a deal between the two companies.

The Sandbox, which is built around blockchain and NFT (non-fungible token) technology, has been described as “part virtual real estate, part amusement park”.

According to WMG, its virtual ‘Land’ within The Sandbox will be a “combination of musical theme park and concert venue” and will host concerts and musical experiences featuring its roster of artists.

These immersive experiences “will empower WMG artists to engage with their fans, as well as to reach the global community of The Sandbox”, in addition to generating “new revenue streams and new forms of virtual entertainment”.

The strategic partnership marks The Sandbox’s first deal with a major music company and what WMG says is its “first entry into the NFT metaverse realm”.

“WMG has secured the equivalent of beachfront property in the metaverse”

To mark the occasion, The Sandbox will hold a Land sale in March 2022, which will allow music fans to buy coveted Lands adjacent to the WMG property.

“Our partnership with The Sandbox adds a new layer of possibility in the metaverse, with the ownership of virtual real estate,” says Oana Ruxandra, chief digital officer & EVP, business development at WMG. “As a first-mover, WMG has secured the equivalent of beachfront property in the metaverse. On the Land, we’ll develop persistent, immersive social music experiences that defy real-world limitations and allow our artists and their fans to engage like never before.”

Sebastien Borget, COO and co-founder of The Sandbox, added: “We’re shaping The Sandbox as a fun entertainment destination where creators, fans, and players can enjoy first-of-a-kind immersive experiences and be more closely connected to their favourite musical artists through NFTs. This strategic partnership with WMG brings the open metaverse one step forward in the direction of fan-owned and community-driven initiatives – the possibilities are very exciting.”

WMG joins over 200 existing partnerships including The Walking Dead, Snoop Dogg, Adidas, Deadmau5, Steve Aoki, Richie Hawtin, The Smurfs, Care Bears, Atari, ZEPETO, and CryptoKitties.

The Sandbox, which is a subsidiary of Animoca Brands, raised US$93 million in a Series B funding round, last November.

 


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Roblox plans Twenty One Pilots concert experience

Roblox and Warner Music Group (WMG) have announced a virtual concert experience with Grammy-award winning duo Twenty One Pilots.

The Twenty One Pilots concert experience will feature the first-ever dynamic setlist dictated by fans in real-time, alongside pre-concert quests, exclusive custom-designed virtual merchandise, behind-the-scenes footage, and a Q&A with the duo.

The five-song set will feature a combination of hit songs as well as new material from Twenty One Pilots’ 2021 album, ‘Scaled and Icy’.

The band follows in the footsteps of Royal Blood and Lil Nas X, each of which have delivered virtual concert experiences in Roblox – which has more than 150 million monthly users worldwide.

“We are taking virtual concerts to the next level with our Twenty One Pilots virtual concert experience”

Jon Vlassopulos, global Head of Music, Roblox, says: “We are taking virtual concerts to the next level with our Twenty One Pilots virtual concert experience. We wanted to make it truly interactive and participatory for the fans, for the band, and for our broader Roblox developer community.

“Fans will be able to decide the order of the songs that they hear by choosing with their friends. They will be able to interact with the environment in creative ways becoming part of the show, and Tyler and Josh will participate in a live chat with fans after the virtual concert.

“This is what Roblox is built for, bringing people together to interact in new and exciting ways and we are just scratching the surface of what’s possible.”

The Twenty One Pilots concert experience kicks off in Roblox on Friday 17 September at 16:00 PDT.  Fans can access the experience and join the pre-show festivities beginning today by visiting the Twenty One Pilots event page.

Fans can replay performances at the top of each hour through Sunday 19 September at 23:00 PDT.


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