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Festival Republic announces new concert series Gunnersville

Festival Republic has announced Gunnersville, a new tented concert series taking place in London’s Gunnersbury park later this year, featuring Doves, the Specials and You Me at Six.

The three-day concert series will take place from Friday 6 September to Sunday 7 September. With Gunnersville, Festival Republic aims to “blur the line between festivals and concerts”.

Craft beers, local ales, summer wines and street food offerings will also be available at the site in Gunnersbury park.

Doves headline the opening Friday night, having recently made their comeback after a ten-year hiatus.

British ska band the Specials will play the following evening alongside British rockers Ocean Colour Scene, reggae act General Roots and punk and psychedelic outfit the Blinders.

“ It’s gonna be a hell of a night and the line-up is amazing”

You Me at Six close the weekend’s events on the Sunday, with their biggest headline London show to date, playing an exclusive set compiled of each of their singles in chronological order.

Jimmy Eat World, Sundara Karma, Deaf Havana and the Maine will play the final night alongside You Me At Six.

“We wanted to celebrate a pretty mad 18 months for us as a band so when Gunnersville approached us to headline one of the days we knew straight away what we wanted to do,” says You Me At Six’s Josh Franceschi. “It’s gonna be a hell of a night and the line-up is amazing. We can’t wait!”

Tickets start at £35 plus booking fee and go on sale on Friday 24 May on the Gunnersville website.

 


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‘Buying albums at gigs should count’: Townsend takes D2C on tour

Bruce McKenzie, sales director of leading D2C (direct-to-consumer) company Townsend Music, has said Townsend’s D2C on Tour solution has the potential to revolutionise how albums are sold, following a successful Download Festival debut this summer.

D2C on Tour launched last spring, starting with a partnership with Mike + the Mechanics, which McKenzie credits with giving the Mike Rutherford-led outfit its first top-ten album for a quarter of a century. “They played 40 dates, and we sold a couple of thousand CDs on the road,” McKenzie tells IQ, “and the Mechanics had their first top-ten album in 25 years.”

Unlike traditional album-ticket bundles – where a copy of the record (physical or digital) is bundled with a ticket at the point of purchase – D2C on Tour utilises a venue’s merch stand(s) to sell album redemption cards, frequently in the form of artist-branded laminates, for upcoming releases.

“You can sell albums at gigs,” explains McKenzie, “but if you’re touring ahead of an album release, you can’t usually take album pre-orders. We came up with the idea that – because we run the artists’ online stores – we can add a CD to the basket, generate a code, then sell a laminate containing that code at the shows.”

Crucially, the UK’s Official Charts Company (OCC) counts the sale of these laminates as an album sale – “I went to the OCC and said, ‘It isn’t a forced sale; it’s the same as preordering an album on iTunes’,” says McKenzie – leading to chart successes like Mike + the Mechanics’ aforementioned Let Me Fly, which reached no9 in the UK.

“D2C is how people will consume their [physical] music in future”

“There are a lot of people spending a lot of money on tickets for concerts and festivals, and we feel the album charts should reflect that,” continues McKenzie. “Bands can be in front of thousands of people at a festival, but if they’re unsigned and don’t have the marketing spend, it’s difficult to make an impact on the chart. We think people buying albums at gigs should count.”

Other Townsend D2C clients include Kylie Minogue, Eels, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, the Prodigy, Everything Everything, Echo and the Bunnymen, Tom Misch, Don Broco and You Me at Six.

With Primary-signed You Me at Six – who headlined the second stage at Download 2018 – Townsend sold laminates containing a code which, when redeemed on the Townsend Music website, earns buyers a signed copy of the band’s album VI (released on 5 October) and a signed setlist from their Download performance.

D2C on Tour netted You Me at Six a “couple of hundred extra” sales at Download, says McKenzie. He describes that as a “nice little start”, but says he sees a time when “we’ll be selling more albums on the road [than not]”, as awareness increases among managers, promoters and agents of the potential of Townsend-style bundling.

“If you’re a good band with a good management team, it’s a very exciting time for artists,” he explains. “You look at the high street, and the decline of retail sales, and it’s clear the future is in streaming. So, D2C – that, to me, is how people will consume their [physical] music in future.”

“If lots of rock bands are selling tickets on the road, they should be selling records, too”

The key to success in this brave new world, McKenzie suggests, is in working with a team who “realise where the industry is. If we all work together to help an artist to sell more records, they’ll sell more tickets, more merch, get more PRS [royalties]…”

McKenzie says Download promoter Live Nation was “very supportive” of Townsend’s presence at the festival, while managers are keen to work with the company owing to its demonstrable influence on the album charts. (Another recent project, he adds, was a Rick Astley pop-up shop in a venue, where the CDs sold contributed to Astley’s latest album, Beautiful Life, peaking at no6 in the UK.)

“In the live arena, people say, that’s where you make the money – fine, but let’s find a way you can market records at gigs,” he adds.

Ultimately, if it increases album sales, initiatives like D2C on Tour are a positive for all stakeholders, says McKenzie. “If artists can sell thousands of album pre-orders at shows, they’re going to have a higher charting record and more chance of getting on the radio… And promoters will realise they can sell more tickets if an album is bundled with them, and vice versa.

“If lots of rock bands are selling tickets on the road, they should be selling records, too – and the charts should be fairer and reflect that.”

 


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Artists lend support to FanFair fans’ guide

British anti-ticket touting organisation FanFair Alliance has followed up its #ToutsOut guide for managers with a similar handbook “demystify the ticket-buying process” for fans.

The guide, downloadable for free from FanFair, centres on ’10 tips for ticket-buying’, which include signing up for artists’ and events’ mailing lists, checking for presales and – crucially – learning to differentiate unauthorised secondary sellers from authorised primary ticket agents.

It has won the support of several prominent artists, including Ed Sheeran, Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien, Mumford & Sons, Royal Blood, Mark Knopfler, Amy MacDonald and You Me at Six’s Josh Franceschi, all of whom will push the guide on the social media channels.

“It’s important to get educated about ticket touts,” says Sheeran. “Read the advice in the FanFair Alliance guide – find out who the authorised ticket sellers are, avoid the secondary sites and, if you’ve got to sell a ticket, sell if for face value.”

Knopfler comments: “The FanFair Alliance Guide offers common sense advice to ticket buyers, and the more widely it is adopted, the better it will be for fans and performers. Nobody wants the front ten rows of their event to be full of super-rich consumers who may or may not actually be into the music, as opposed to just attending the event.”

“FanFair has consulted widely to come up with ten simple tips that aim to empower audiences and help them better navigate the ticket-buying process”

Also backing the guide are MPs Nigel Adams and Sharon Hodgson, the co-chairs of the All-Party Parliamentary Group in Ticket Abuse.

“The guide is a response to the dark arts employed by the resale platforms Get Me In!, Seatwave, StubHub and Viagogo,” explains FanFair campaign manager Adam Webb. “These businesses not only fuel industrial-scale levels of ticket touting, they also use a range of manipulative marketing techniques that sow confusion when tickets go on sale and direct fans away from legitimate and authorised sellers.

“In response, FanFair has consulted widely to come up with ten simple tips that aim to empower audiences and help them better navigate the ticket-buying process. We want to help fans identify legitimate and authorised ticket agents, and to promote the concept of ethical resale – where ticket purchasers who can genuinely no longer attend a show have a safe and secure mechanism to sell on their ticket at face value. The vast majority of artists and music businesses are with us on this issue.”

The British government earlier this month announced its intention to ban ticket bots, which Webb described as a move “hugely important in helping clean up this market”.

 


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UK MPs warm to ticket resale regulation

Days after culture minister Dario Franceschini declared he would seek to make online ticket touting illegal in Italy, members of the British parliament (MPs) this morning signalled their willingness to further regulate the UK’s secondary ticketing market, with one stating: “The time has come when we have to do something.”

In three sessions, the Culture, Media and Sport Committee heard from MMF’s Annabella Coldrick, Wildlife Entertainment’s Ian McAndrew and You Me at Six frontman Josh Franceschi; Ticketmaster UK chairman Chris Edmonds, eBay/StubHub’s Alasdair McGowan and Paul Peak and the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers’ Jonathan Brown; and Professor Michael Waterson and Iridium Consultancy’s Reg Walker, respectively, with MPs backing calls for action from those hostile to online ticket resale.

“I’m on your side on this one,” Nigel Huddleston, MP for Mid-Worcestershire, told Coldrick. “The British public are more than happy to applaud entrepreneurs, but there’s a fundamental difference between that and price gouging.

“Being ripped off – that’s what the British public won’t tolerate.”

High Peak MP Andrew Bingham said: “I sat on the all-party group with Sharon [Hodgson MP] in the last parliament, and I took the view then that this market is working and we should leave well alone, but I have to say things have evolved […] and the time has come when we have to do something.”

“Things have evolved and the time has come when we have to do something”

Bingham, however, warned against acting hastily and appeared to suggest the issue still needs to be looked at in more detail. “What we don’t want to do, if we’re going to legislate, is send the industry back to blokes hanging around outside venues shouting, ‘Tickets, tickets, who wants tickets’,” he said. “As legislators, we want to get this right.”

Colne Valley MP Jason McCartney suggested “naming and shaming” promoters and venues complicit in the transfer of inventory from the primary to the secondary market, calling them “the villains in this”.

While declining to name names, Coldrick said there is a “if you can’t beat them, join them” attitude among some artists, while McAndrew revealed he had been “approached often by the ‘big four’ resale sites”. “That’s a proposal I’ve refused on a number of occasions, but I can understand how that might be a temptation for [those] who want to maximise revenue,” he said, “and that’s why I think we need to look at transfer of tickets from the primary to the secondary market.”

Nigel Adams MP, a longtime campaigner against ticket bots and professional touts, asked Coldrick, McAndrew and Franceschi: “What is the solution? Not everybody can do what Josh does, sitting in a shop and selling tickets to fans… What do we need to do?”

“For a start, the law needs to be enforced,” said Coldrick. “The Consumer Rights Act [2015] says seat numbers and rows must be shown on tickets, that if promoters make a clear statement tickets can’t be resold they can cancel them…

“The experience was very positive, and a distinct progression from previous governments’ narrative around the issue of ticket abuse”

“There needs to be a wholesale inquiry into how these tickets are being sold and how they’re being acquired.”

McAndrew added: “We need to see criminalisation of bots, and we need to look at transfer of tickets from primary to secondary. I’d like to think that’s already an offence under existing consumer law.”

Reflecting on the session, McAndrew told IQ this afternoon: “I think the experience was very positive, and a distinct progression from previous governments’ narrative around the issue of ticket abuse, particularly with relation to ticket resale.

“The committee clearly understands the issues around ticket resale and the harm that is caused to consumers. They also understand the opaque nature and scale of the ticket resale business and how the lack of transparency impacts negatively on music fans, and recognise the vast profits and excessive fees generated by the £1 billion-a year-resale business and how virtually none of that goes back into the live music economy.

“I hope today’s session will provoke a more in-depth investigation to the issues around ticketing in the UK.”

 


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Tout-weary YMAS to cut out box office altogether

Perhaps inspired by Chance the Rapper, You Me at Six frontman Josh Franceschi has revealed he will sell the final allocation of 100 tickets for the band’s 26 November concert at Dingwalls (500-cap.) in Camden, London, himself.

After tickets for the show appeared on resale sites, leading Franceschi to call “people that only buy gig tickets to resell at three times the value” his “worst enemy”, the venue has agreed to release more tickets, which the singer will sell directly to fans at the Dr Martens store in Covent Garden:

 


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