Issue 40 LIVE MUSIC INTELLIGENCE An ILMC Publication. March 2012
MAKING A MEALL OF IT
AGENT GEOFF MEALL CELEBRATES 20 YEARS
GAMES WITH FRONTIERS LONDON IN STARTING BLOCKS FOR OLYMPICS
IS SUPPLY EXCEEDING DEMAND DOWN UNDER?
A NEW BEGINNING AT ILMC 24 ILMC MEETINGS AND EVENTS CONFIRMED
FINDING A ROLE FOR BRANDS JIM ROBINSON BUCKING THE GERMAN SYSTEM UWE FROMMHOLD A MANAGER MUSES ANTHONY ADDIS ROCK AND ROLLER COASTERS ROB HALLETT STUCK IN THE MIDDLE? THOMAS OVESEN THE LIVE REVIEW KEITH GILBERT
ial 24 ec C sp ILM nce e
The story so far... In the year 2012 – just as the Mayan calendar had predicted – the world came to an end. Almost... For 24 years the warning signs had been there: crazed zombies and killer vegetables stalked the streets, alien races arrived – stretching resources to breaking point – and all-powerful machines rose up to take over the world. Finally, a massive impact rocked the planet and a three-year nuclear winter followed, threatening the very existence of life on Earth...
But there was hope. In the 24th year a small group of plucky survivors banded together and set up a base in the ruins of a once-proud London ﬁve-star hotel. The International League to Mend Civilisation – or ILMC 24 – was formed and began broadcasting messages around the world…
International Live Music Conference 9-11 March 2012 • www.ilmc.com The Royal Garden Hotel, 2-24 Kensington High street, London
ILMC Conference Guide
ILMC Agenda: Building a Brave New World There are just a few weeks left until Armageddon comes to London; when 1,000 of the world’s leading live music professionals descend on the Royal Garden Hotel and are transported to a post-apocalyptic wasteland. With everything from paintball battles and horse racing to karaoke and relaxing massages on offer, there’s something for every survivor. But, spaces are ﬁlling up fast, so if you haven’t already, get to ilmc.com and guarantee your place at what promises to be a unique, maybe even life-changing experience. Listed over the next few pages you’ll ﬁnd details of our conference agenda, but to ensure you’re sufﬁciently ﬁt in the quest to rebuild the industry, it’s worth mentioning the two principal dinners that underpin the conference weekend. First up, is Saturday night’s Gala Dinner and Arthur Awards, not only the star attraction in the ILMC schedule, but also one of the most prestigious events in the industry’s calendar. Around 300 of the industry’s ﬁnest will this year enter The Blunderdome at Jumeirah Carlton Tower, where conﬂicts and duels will be set temporarily aside as champagne and ﬁne wines are imbibed. Sponsored by Robertson Taylor Insurance Brokers, the evening includes champagne on arrival, a ﬁve-star, four-course dinner with wine, and the industry’s favourite award show, The
4 ILMC Conference Guide March 2012
Arthur Awards. It’s the best-priced industry awards ceremony out there, so ensure that you sign up online. If you miss that one, then a slightly more chilled and equally appetizing chance to stuff your face comes at our traditional Sunday night ‘farewell dinner’, when we lay on food from one of the dozens of countries represented at the conference. With many eyes looking apprehensively at the Mayan calendar this year, our South American colleagues – Popart Music, XYZ Live and Evenpro – will be making amends at The Mayan ‘End of Daze’ Dinner. Delegates will be transported to Gaucho Piccadilly for an evening of South American cuisine, rich wines and the usual blend of madcap competitions and silliness that these events are famed for. It’s a ﬁtting way to wind down from the ILMC weekend, although places are limited, so make sure to sign up when you register for the conference, or email registration@ ilmc.com for more info. Aside from the dinners and events, however, at the core of the conference are the meetings that provide an open forum to discuss those issues affecting the business. Like the conference theme this year, the world we once knew is changing, and the meetings listed on the following pages bring together some of the ﬁnest minds on the most pressing topics today…
Thursday 8 March 10:00-18:00
The ILMC Production Day An expanded IPM features a full day of panel sessions this year, while expecting 150 of the world’s most renowned production managers, sound and lighting engineers, venue personnel, suppliers and promoters’ representatives. Four key topics are slated for discussion on the day: ‘Structures, Safety & The Weather’ takes a detailed look at some of last year’s incidents, and ‘International Touring, Local Issues’ deals with the reality of local cultures. ‘Education’ builds on a key discussion area from IPM in 2011, while ‘Working Outside Our Sphere’ looks at comparisons with the ﬁlm and TV sector. Full agenda details are now online at www.ilmc.com/24.
Friday 9 March 11:30-12:00
New Delegates’ Orientation Chairs: Alia Dann Swift (ILMC) & Allan McGowan (IQ) Everyone was a newbie once, and the ﬁrst impression of ILMC can be slightly overwhelming, so Alia Dann Swift and Allan McGowan extend a warm welcome to new ILMC delegates and explain how the conference is structured and how to get the most out of it. This informal session provides a necessary introduction to both ﬁrst timers, and those who can’t remember the ﬁrst time.
The Flight Attendant’s Brieﬁng: ‘The road worrier cometh’ Chair: Martin Hopewell (ILMC) Conference founder Martin ‘Mad Mart’ Hopewell welcomes all delegates, and introduces some of the most important elements of ILMC. Ofﬁcially the start of the weekend, it’s a chance to get a few last-minute survival tips as the conference gets underway.
The Open Forum: ‘Have I got live news for you (episode 2)’ Chair: Greg Parmley (ILMC) A review of the past 12 months in the industry, a game show-style forum manned by senior industry heads, and an exclusive presentation from Groupon on discounting tickets. These are three very good reasons not to miss the ILMC’s opening session, the largest format meeting of the conference weekend. With 2011 a difﬁcult year for many, and the abundance of new business routes being trialed, it promises to be a fascinating yet upbeat discussion. Already conﬁrmed to participate are Emma Banks (CAA), John Reid (Live Nation) and Arcade Fire manager Scott Rodger (Quest Mgmt). As the session that sets the tone of the weekend ahead, this is one meeting you simply won’t want to miss. Survive the zombie hordes, battle the robots, or just register to attend everything you need is online at ILMC.COM
Sponsorship: ‘Selling out the show’ Chair: Jim Robinson (Frukt Music, UK) The sheer variety of brands engaging with festivals and live events (be it drinks, fashion, technology, food or household goods) is growing at an impressive rate. And the wide variety of sectors now proves that there are few barriers to entering the lucrative market space. For this edition of the sponsorship panel, we’ll be asking for the audience’s perspective, inviting three young live music nuts to take the stand and respond to brand presentations for the forthcoming year. Chaired by the brand experts at Frukt, our festival fans will be joined by several key brands, promoters and consultants who bridge the two, often disparate, worlds.
The Dance Club: ‘Save the last dance for me’ Chair: Stefan Lemkuhl (Melt Booking, DE) & Martje Kremers (Decked Out, UK) After experiencing something of a decline just a few years ago, dance has reinvented itself and is selling more tickets than before. Ibiza is busier than ever, trade events like the Amsterdam Dance Event keep growing and dance music festivals proliferate. So what’s the secret? In a cyclical business, it’s very much the hour of electronica, yet this multimillion-dollar business ﬂies largely under the radar of rock ‘n’ roll promoters. Some of the scene’s most prominent faces will be dropping by to share some tips and tales from the frontline of this inspiring genre.
Saturday 10 March 10:00-11:30
The Emerging Markets’ Place: ‘The super markets?’ Chair: Bojan Bošković (Exit Festival, RS) Many territories once considered ‘emerging markets’ have now emerged to the point that other territories are viewing them with envy. Indeed, it’s no longer a case that the UK, Western Europe, and US businesses exploit these markets whilst supposedly passing on expertise. This year’s Emerging Markets’ Place session will draw comparisons between success stories, whether that’s the booking festival market in Central and Eastern Europe, South America’s current gold rush enthusiasm for shows, or the keenness witnessed elsewhere in the BRICA markets. With selected experts from across these regions, it promises to teach every developed market a thing or two.
Meet The Dragons!
This year, ILMC is launching several new meetings – under the umbrella of The Dragons’ Den – where some of our most established delegates will pass on wisdom and offer advice. These successful live music entrepreneurs will be on hand to give tips, swap tales and outline a few tricks of the trade, all in an informal setting. The participants will be announced online shortly at www.ilmc.com/24 and via our eFlash news service.
March 2012 ILMC Conference Guide
ILMC Conference Guide
Chair: Gordon Masson (IQ) With the loss of one Europe-wide association last year, it’s clear that not all industry associations are thriving. Yet, as the business continues to grow, the attention from governments and legislative bodies will only increase. In the UK, the formation of the Live Music Group as part of UK Music has already yielded several early warnings on inbound legislation, while associations like Prodiss in France, continue to be a force to be reckoned with. So is the modern industry association simply do-gooding or a vital conduit with the outside world? A panel of leading associations prepare to get political…
Chairs: Ben Challis (Charming Music, UK) & Steve Machin (Stormcrowd, UK) Every aspect of the live music business is continually subject to update and innovation, and while the live experience remains as ofﬂine as it gets, new technology is transforming the way many of us work. Last year’s technology session was so well attended that it merited promotion to a bigger room. This year, techno-heads Ben Challis and Steve Machin will be introducing some of the best industrychanging tools out there, while the extra space allows for more demonstrations. Be prepared for a dazzling array of mind-altering kit, as well as a few surprises to boot.
Chairs: Eric van Eerdenburg (Lowlands Festival, NL), Geoff Ellis (DF Concerts, UK) & Chrissy Uerlings (CU Productions, PL) The great outdoors can be a dangerous place, and with many event organisers facing abnormal and destructive weather conditions, just how safe are our outdoor shows? Twinning two of ILMC’s most popular meetings this year – the Festival Forum and Engine Room – this one-off main room session will be asking what more can be done, where the buck stops, and what lessons from 2011 are actually being learned? Representing the Engine Room, Chrissy Uerlings reports back from ﬁndings at the ILMC Production Day, while Eric van Eerdenberg and Geoff Ellis will invite panel members to consider these vital issues from the promoters’ perspective, along with other pressing festival concerns.
Chair: Dave Gaydon (The Roundhouse,UK) As margins on live shows tighten, income from ancillary revenues – merchandise, food & beverage, car parking etc – becomes vital to the bottom lines of many stakeholders. Outside of the revenues from ticket sales, how important are ancillary revenues, and more importantly, who deserves a slice? While multinationals that own venues and content can count on this extra income, how will the independent promoter fare without his share? And what about certain artists negotiating a cut of this once-sacrosanct pot? We might not be in the popcorn business yet, but there’re plenty of folks with their eyes on this prize…
The Council of Associations: ‘A political world’
The Great Outdoors: ‘On safe ground?’
The Venue’s Venue: ‘Raising the roof’ Chair: Geoff Huckstep (NAA, UK) Our annual forum for the fans of bricks and mortar, this year’s panel will be focused on several key topics, ably led by NAA chair Geoff Huckstep. Conversation points will include the future of the venue business from the perspective of both the promoter and venue operator, and also how all parties can work more closely to ﬁnd new content, share risk and seek mutual sponsorship agreements in true partnership style. The results of both IQ’s European Arenas Report and NAA’s annual survey will be delved into, while comment from leading venues, promoters and agents should ensure a lively debate at all times.
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New Technology: ‘The rise of the machines’
Ancillary Revenues: ‘Added attractions’
Meet the New Boss: ‘A fresh start’ Chair: Jake Leighton-Pope (CAA, UK) The dedicated session for the new or new-minded generation of industry faces, this year’s Meet the New Boss addresses the changing world. Invited guests will present examples of new ways being tested to sell out tours, while considering how the decline of traditional marketing stalwarts – such as the poster – are being offset by a fresh and sometimes uneasy relationship with social media. Touring might be old school, but it’s a fast-evolving business these days. Jake LeightonPope takes the lay of the industry’s changing landscape and asks how the youth of the business can carry it forward.
The Market Focus: China Chair: Colleen Ironside (Live Limited, HK) The world’s most promising potential new market for live music, there’s more than a little attention focused on China right now. Recognising the recent moves by some of the industry’s major players, ILMC presents a dedicated conference session about the most inspiring of marketplaces, the sleeping dragon which is fast waking up. While China’s music industry is already well established, questions will be asked as to what scope there is for international touring acts, and what lessons can be drawn so far. The meeting will beneﬁt from the presence of leading international players lifting the lid on how this fascinating market operates.
ILMC Conference Guide
The Sunday Supplement: ‘Staying Alive – The health pages’ Chair: Allan McGowan (IQ) This most-relaxed of sessions invites you to put your feet up with the audio version of the Sunday papers. It’s a chance for delegates to review the topics discussed at the conference and – if available – the conclusions reached. Further comment will be invited from those in the room as, in respect to ILMC 24’s post-apocalyptic theme, we consider the future health of our industry, and what must be done to ensure our survival. Are some sections of the industry in particularly precarious positions or are others better adapted for the future? All good advice will be passed on…
A Hypothetical: Live Music Inc…The AGM
Sunday 11 March 10:30-12:00
The Breakfast Meeting with John Giddings Chair: Ed Bicknell (Damage Management, UK) Crowned IQ Magazine’s ‘International Agent of the Decade’ two years ago, and the ﬁrst ever solo Breakfast Meeting spot given over to a booking agent, John Giddings takes the stage this year. Over the course of three decades, Giddings has become world-renowned for helping steer the careers of artists that include the Rolling Stones, U2, Madonna, David Bowie, the Sex Pistols, Genesis and Westlife. And whether it’s how he relaunched the Isle of Wight Festival, booked the wrong Wembley or motor racing mishaps, it’s a Breakfast Meeting set to rival all previous editions for industry insight and entertainment value.
Chair: Claudio Trotta (Barley Arts Promotion, IT) The AGM of the ‘International Live Music Corporation’ is called to order by its current chairman Claudio Trotta, for a meeting never before seen at ILMC. Business conditions have not been at their best in the last couple of years for this (hypothetical) live music giant in many of its international territories, and the shareholders (that includes you and everybody else who attends!) will hear how the corporation is trading and how their investments are doing. Reports will be made from department heads in ﬁnance, touring, festivals, venues and management, among others. This ﬁnal conference meeting promises 90 minutes of sharp perspective, wit and commentary, as we get to grips with how the business is fairing. Shareholders will be invited to comment!
The ILMC 24 Autopsy Chair: Martin Hopewell (ILMC) Who’d want to head back into the wastelands when they can visit Martin ‘Mad Mart’ Hopewell and his 30-minute conference summary? As the ILMC draws to a close for another year, it’s a ﬁnal chance to swap opinions and thoughts, and give feedback on the weekend that nearly was.
The Booking Ring: ‘Expanding on contracting’ Chair: Marc Lambelet (Black Lamb, CH) When it comes to signing on the dotted line, artist contracts have always been something of a misnomer. Rarely signed by both parties and often stacked with odd, largely ignored clauses, why do most still insist on this time-intensive piece of paper? Returning to the hot seat to continue last year’s discussion, chair Marc Lambelet wants to know whether the artist contract is an enforceable piece of paper, or more a deal guideline confused by tradition and history. So prepare for a fascinating 90 minutes when our assembled guests, including some sharp legal brains, go to town on this longstanding document, to question whether it needs a rethink.
10 ILMC Conference Guide March 2012
Survive the zombie hordes, battle the robots, or just register to attend everything you need is online at ILMC.COM
ILMC Conference Guide
Survivors’ Guide Thursday
ILMC Production Day (IPM) The fourth annual IPM will see production professionals from across the globe converge for a day of panel sessions, discussion and networking. Building on the success of last year’s event, IPM will be hosting more sessions and delegates will be treated to a delicious buffet lunch, followed by a closing drinks party. Sponsored by eps, Megaforce and Mediapower, registration is separate to the ILMC. Email email@example.com for more info or check online at www.ilmc.com.
The World (what-used-to-be) Texas Hold’em Poker Tourney & Death Race 2012
Taking place in the broken heart of Club Apocalyptica in the Royal Garden Hotel, the poker tourney returns to sort the mad dogs from the mutants and there’s a virtual night at the races as well. It takes place from 22:30 until late, and an abundance of bar tab prizes awaits the victors. Sponsored by American Talent Agency, the tourney costs £20 to enter – sign up by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Breakout Sessions In partnership with Music Week and All Night Long Promotions and with hosts including CAA, we’ll be using the venue directly opposite the Royal Garden Hotel – AAA – to full effect over the ILMC weekend. Thursday and Saturday will see showcases from some of the hottest talent and most promising new outlaws. Check ilmc.com for details.
The Dutch Meet and Eat Those towering visitors from the Never Lands welcome all delegates to an evening of showcases, presentations, competitions, drinks and nibbles. Always a conference highlight, MusicXport.nl’s annual meet and greet takes place across the road from the Royal Garden Hotel at AAA from 18:00 to 21:00.
Rising from the ashes of what was once the ILMC opening drinks session, our German friends Ticketmaster and Creative Talent host two hours of food, wine and networking. It’s the only way to begin your ILMC weekend, and a must for new recruits or hardened road warriors. From 12:00-14:00 outside the conference rooms.
Access All Areas shows If you’re sufﬁciently ﬂeet footed to dodge the zombies prowling London’s streets, our Access All Areas programme allows entry to some of the hottest gigs around the capital. AAA brings you the best shows happening across the capital. Check your conference guide or the Help Desk for listings.
Match of the Year Football
Friday The Survivors’ Opening Party
The scene of some of the most ferocious battles across the weekend, the annual Table Football ‘Coupe du Monde’ takes place in the hotel bar from 22:00 ‘til late. It’s possibly the only chance you’ll get to play for your country with a drink in one hand. IQ’s Terry ‘offside’ McNally will be accepting entrants on the night.
The Walk-in & Fallout Party With so many early arrivals these days, this new ILMC ﬁxture will be a chance for all survivors to meet. Road warriors from the ILMC Production Day and all weekend delegates alike are welcome to rock up for some devastatingly good ﬁrst-night fun.
Table Football ‘Coupe du Monde’
The Battle for Bunker 51
Let’s face it, in this new post-apocalyptic reality, if you can’t shoot straight, you’re ﬁnished. So, set in a genuine ex nuclear bunker, Paintball Wars gives delegates a chance to test their skills at terminating the competition. It’s a great new way to meet new and exciting people, and then shoot them! Berryhurst buses will transport challengers to and from the hotel, and with food and drinks included, this could be the best £45 you’ve ever spent. Sign up online at ilmc.com.
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Unbelievably, the hallowed turf of Wembley Stadium, the home of soccer, is again the venue for this annual match where UK conquerors take on marauding hordes from across the rest of the world. Sponsored by Aiken Promotions, places are extremely limited, so contact Peter Aiken (Peter@aikenpromotions.com) to get on side.
Access All Areas shows Access All Areas shows, and the nearby Breakout Sessions continue. It wouldn’t be a live music conference without some of the best gigs that London can offer. Just don’t get bitten by the hordes… Check your conference guide or at the Help Desk for listings.
Gala Dinner and Arthur Awards The ILMC Gala Dinner and Arthur Awards is the highlight in the industry’s annual calendar. Over 300 survivors from across the live music world congregate for an evening of sumptuous ﬁve-star cuisine, champagne and ﬁne wines, where the annual Arthur Awards are also presented. Sponsored by Robertson Taylor, the apocalypse never felt so good. Club Apocalyptica
Club Apocalyptica opens late on Saturday, with war games and some Armageddon-inspired competitions to keep even the most bafﬂed delegate amused. Karaoke Catastrophe will simply be a must-see, and there’ll be oversized games and vintage upright video games thrown in. Sponsored by Rock-it Cargo on with prizes and cataclysmic cocktails in abundance.
Sunday Nikos Fund Grand Prize Draw The ILMC raises a signiﬁcant amount of money every year, and in exchange for taking a donation from every registration we receive, delegates are entered into the Nikos Fund Prize Draw. Rock up for a 14:45 start as our chosen charity, the Disasters Emergency Committee, beneﬁts, but you must be there to win.
out of here’ Closing Drinks Party
All road warriors are welcome to the ILMC’s closing drinks from 17:30. Preparing to return to any homeland, there’s no better place to steel your nerves and pick up some last minute survival tips. A cheeky glass or two will help round off the weekend in style before we set out to rebuild civilisation.
The Mayan ‘End
of Daz e’ Dinner
Beyond the Blunderdome, this is the one dinner that every survivor should attend. Our neo-Mayan members Popart Music, XYZ Live & Evenpro welcome delegates to the ﬁnal event in the ILMC 24 calendar and the promise of some of the most mouthwatering cuisine this side of the Andes. From 19:30 ‘til late including complimentary Berryhurst shuttles.
Club Apocalyptica’s Last Blast After the Saturday night mayhem, what remains of Club Apocalyptica will be open for the diehard survivors of the weekend to party hard before making their way back out to the wastelands. Complete with stage, vocal PA, backline and instruments, it’s the old school ILMC jam gone nuclear.
ILMC Conference RegistrationGuide Guide
The times are subject to change. Check ilmc.com for details.
Thursday 10:00 - 18:00 13:00 - 21:00 14:00 - 17:00 18:00 - 20:00 18:00 - 22:30 19:00 - 22.30 TBA
IPM (ILMC Production Meeting) Early Bird Registration Association Meetings (Invitation Only) The Walk-in & Fallout Party Park Terrace Table Reservations The Breakout Sessions at AAA Access All Areas shows
Friday 10:00 - 18:00 11:00 - 12:00 11:30 - 12:00 12:00 - 14:00 14:00 - 18:00 18:00 - Late 18:00 - 21:00 18:30 19:30 - 21:30 TBA 22:00 - 01:00 22:30 - 02:00
08 March 2012
09 March 2012
Association Meetings (Invitation only) AEG’s Last Orders! Bar New Delegates’ Orientation Survivors’ Reviver Opening Party CONFERENCE SESSIONS AEG’s Last Orders! Bar THE DUTCH MEET AND EAT Dinner in The Garden PAINTBALL WARS: ‘THE BATTLE FOR BUNKER 51’ 3 Herringham Road, North Greenwich Access All Areas shows TABLE FOOTBALL ‘COUPE DU MONDE’ THE WORLD (WHAT-USED-TO-BE) TEXAS HOLD’EM POKER TOURNEY & DEATH RACE 2012
Saturday 07:00 - 13:00 09:30 - 10:30 10:00 - 13:30 11:00 13:00 - 15:00 14:30 - 18:00 15:30 - 16:30 19:30 - 21:30 19:00 - 22:30 19:30 - 00:00
TBA 22:30 - 02:30
10 March 2012
Breakfast available Coffee Break (complimentary) & bars CONFERENCE SESSIONS AEG’s Last Orders! Bar opens Survival Rations Rations with Ice Age Live! Complimentary Buffet Lunch & Pay Bar CONFERENCE SESSIONS Feld Entertainment’s ‘Global Cooling’ Complimentary ice cream break MATCH OF THE YEAR FOOTBALL Wembley Stadium The Breakout Sessions at AAA THE BLUNDERDOME GALA DINNER & ARTHUR AWARDS The Ballroom, Jumeirah Carlton Tower, Cadogan Place, London SW1X Access All Areas shows Club Apocalyptica in the York Suite
11 March 2012
14:45 - 15:15 15:30 - 17:30 17:30 - 18:30 19:30 - late
Breakfast on Mezzanine Coffee Break (complimentary) and Bars THE BREAKFAST MEETING AND CONFERENCE SESSIONS AEG’s Last Orders! Bar Survival Rations Complimentary lunch buffet and pay bar Nikos Fund Grand Prize Draw CONFERENCE SESSION & ILMC AUTOPSY ‘Armageddon out of here’ Closing Drinks Party THE MAYAN ‘END OF DAZE’ DINNER
23:00 - 03:00
Club Apocalyptica’s Last Blast
07:00 - 13:00 10:00 - 11:00 10:30 - 14:00 11:00 13:30 - 15:30
Gaucho Piccadilly, 25, Swallow Street, London, W1B
Clean-up Crew Producer Alia Dann Swift ....................+44 (0) 7774 446 446 .....email@example.com Marketing & Press Chris Prosser ..... +44 (0) 20 7284 5860 .....firstname.lastname@example.org Agenda Greg Parmley ..........................+44 (0) 20 7284 5867 .....email@example.com Agenda Allan McGowan ......................+44 (0) 1273 880 439 .....firstname.lastname@example.org Registration Lou Percival ....................+44 (0) 20 7284 5868 .....email@example.com Travel Christine McKinnon ...................+44 (0) 141 353 8800 .....firstname.lastname@example.org Road Worrier Martin Hopewell .......... +44 (0) 20 7284 5868 .....email@example.com
14 ILMC Conference Guide March 2012
Survive the zombie hordes, battle the robots, or just register to attend everything you need is online at ILMC.COM
Contents News 20 In Brief The main headlines over the last two months 21 In Depth Key stories from around the live music world
Features 3 A New Beginning at ILMC 24 ILMC brings hope to all survivors of the live music world 36 Making a Meall of it The Agency Group’s Geoff Meall celebrates 20 years in music 50 European Arena Report 2012 Recession hits European venues, but business proves resilient 60 Games With Frontiers London prepares for the greatest show on Earth 66 Market Report: Australia/New Zealand Is supply starting to exceed demand Down Under?
Comments and Columns 28 Finding a Role for Brands in Live Music Brands expert FRUKT urge experiential partnerships 29 Bucking the German System Uwe Frommhold reveals AEG’s growth strategy for Germany 30 A Manager Muses
Anthony Addis shares his thoughts on the health of the live business
31 Rock and Roller Coasters Rob Hallett reflects on an ‘Annus Horribilis’ but looks forward with optimism
32 Stuck in The Middle? Thomas Ovesen provides an overview of business in the Middle East 34 The Live Review
Keith Gilbert sums up PRS For Music’s live tariff consultation
76 In Focus Award winners and industry conferences in the spotlight 78 Your Shout Tales of near-disasters and eleventh-hour escapes
66 March 2012 IQ Magazine | 17
RoLL oN tHe IDes oF MARCH While others play the blame game, the live music industry is collectively working to ensure better crowd safety, observes Gordon Masson... IT BARELY SEEMS LIKE YESTERDAY when the great and the good of the live music industry were rushing for cigarette breaks outside the Royal Garden Hotel, but here we are on the eve of this year’s International Live Music Conference in the knowledge that the discussions that will take place during the 9-11 March event may arguably be the most important in the event’s history. Following last year’s weather-related tragedies in Europe and North America, scrutiny over safety at outdoor concerts has never been greater and the industry has done well, thus far, to take it upon itself to up the ante when it comes to enhanced emergency planning and how to best monitor the threat of freak storms. Video footage of the terrifying scenes at Pukkelpop and the Indiana State Fair stunned delegates attending Eurosonic, but while acts of God cannot be avoided, they can be planned for, and it’s likely that the latest best-practice strategies will be a hot topic at the ILMC. Ahead of those meetings, we have some fascinating numbers to share with you in this year’s European Arena Report. It turns out that arena attendance increased markedly last year and the sector should be applauded for its continuing financial commitment to upgrade buildings and facilities, as the millions of pounds, euros, francs and krona invested in bricks, mortar and seats is clearly paying off. Our survey also points to the burgeoning popularity of non-music events and in particular, comedy, which has tripled its share of the arenas calendar in just four years. Elsewhere in this issue, our man in
the Antipodes, Lars Brandle, reports that although the bubble hasn’t burst just yet, the pin is getting perilously close, as Australian festival supply exceeds customer demand for the first time. Indeed, news of three-for-one ticket deals by desperate promoters are a worrying sign that the recession may finally be biting our Aussie colleagues. Doubtless we’ll hear more about that from Chuggi and co when they arrive in London. They might also be able to share their Olympics experience with their UK counterparts, but in the meantime Christopher Austin gives us an interesting preview of London’s summer of sport – and its impact on live music – on page 60. And, as if you need anything else to ponder ahead of ILMC’s annual examination of the business, Frukt director Jim Robinson outlines ways in which brands can add value to events (page 28); Thomas Ovesen provides an overview of what is going on in the diverse Middle East (page 32); and amiable agent Geoff Meall poses the question of just how we persuade an entire generation of kids to change the habit of their lifetime by starting to pay for music (page 36). All that and a detailed look at just where and when everything is happening at ILMC 24 should give you plenty of food for thought. But remember the annual extravaganza would be nothing without its international participants, so please don’t be backward at coming forward when the meetings get under way, because sharing experiences is one of the best ways to improve this amazing business that we’re so lucky to work in.
LIVE MUSIC INTELLIGENCE THE ILMC JOURNAL, March 2012
IQ Magazine 2-4 Prowse Place London, NW1 9PH, UK firstname.lastname@example.org www.iq-mag.net Tel: +44 (0)20 7284 5867 Fax: +44 (0)20 7284 1870 Publisher ILMC and M4 Media Editor Gordon Masson Editorial Consultant Greg Parmley Associate Editor Allan McGowan Marketing & Advertising Manager Terry McNally Sub Editor Michael Muldoon Production Assistant Adam Milton Contributors Lars Brandle, Ben Challis, Christopher Austin, Uwe Frommhold, Rob Hallett, Jim Robinson, Anthony Addis, Keith Gilbert and Thomas Ovesen Editorial Contact Gordon Masson, email@example.com Tel: +44 (0)20 7284 5867 Advertising Contact Terry McNally, firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: +44 (0)20 7284 5867
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March 2012 IQ Magazine | 19
In Brief... Legendary producer Quincy Jones is named chairman of the Asia Academy of Music Arts and Sciences with a remit that involves fostering collaborations between all sectors of the music industry across Asia and the world. Anna Calvi emerges as the European Talent Exchange Programme’s most popular act of 2011 with 12 festival shows booked through the scheme during the year. AEG Ogden appoints James Irvine to head up its new global partnerships division in the Asia Pacific. Irvine previously worked at Wembley Stadium and The O2 arena in the UK. Live Nation emerges victorious in the saga for the rights to run a new arena in Copenhagen, Denmark. The 15,000-capacity arena will cost in the region of DKK1billion (€134million) and will open in 2015. Student Francesco Pinna (20) is killed and seven fellow workers are injured when a stage they are helping to build for rock act Jovanotti in Trieste, Italy, collapses. Seatwave chief, Joe Cohen denies speculation that the ticket resale company is in financial trouble, despite reports that it has amassed losses of €40m since 2007. UK entertainment retailer HMV puts its 13 live music venues and various festivals up for sale in an attempt to slash its £164m (€196m) debt. O2 World Berlin operator AEG parts company with venue MD Mike Keller, citing “conceptual differences with regards to the venue’s business operation.”
JANUARY Kanye West uses his Twitter account to announce he has fired William Morris Endeavor after his long-time agent Cara Lewis quit the company. Former Fleetwood Mac session guitarist Bob Weston dies at home in London. He was 64. FKP Scorpio hires David Maloney to run its Swedish office as the German promot-
er looks to expand its touring business in the Nordic countries. AEG China signs a 15-year contract to operate the new 18,000-seat Dalian Sports Center, which is being built for the 2013 China National Games. The arena will open this June and will host music, cultural and family shows, as well as sports. German promoters’ association BDV launches web portal touring-in-germany. com with law firm Michow & Partner in a bid to make it easier for acts to connect with promoters, agents and artist managers. Robbie Francis, best known as the drummer for British metal outfit Diamond Head, dies of a ruptured aorta, aged 53. Touring festival Big Day Out calls time on its New Zealand leg after promoter Ken West admits that falling audience numbers have made the Auckland show unviable.
FKP Scorpio buys a stake in Utrechtbased booking agency and artist management company Friendly Fire as part of a partnership deal that will initially see them working together on FKP’s recently acquired Netherlands event, Indian Summer Festival. AEG Live reveals plans to open a 2,100-capacity club called The Brick in Minneapolis. The venue will open in March and will complement the Target Center that AEG manages on behalf of the city. Live Nation buys a 25% stake in Croatia’s Adria Entertainment. The Zagreb-based company, run by Vladimir Ivanković,
has represented Live Nation in the Balkans for a number of years. R&B legend Etta James dies at home in Riverside, California, following a long battle with illness. She was 73. Festival Republic MD Melvin Benn cancels 2012’s edition of The Big Chill festival, citing its date clash with the Olympics and artist availability for the decision.
FEBRUARY Irish promoters Michael Durkan and Kieran Cavanagh agree a pact to develop a new range of family shows. The duo have two shows on the road: International Magic Tenors is on an 80-date tour of Germany, while Celtic Nights is on a 42-date US tour. Australia’s inaugural touring Heatwave Festival collapses, having failed to pay some suppliers, and goes into voluntary insolvency amid stories that company COO Olivier Lokolomba, aka MC Mastacraft, has disappeared. Madonna sparks controversy ahead of her forthcoming MDNA world tour when she tells Newsweek magazine that fans should “work all year, scrape the money together” to pay for a $300 (€230) ticket to see her.
Isle of Wight Festival promoter John Giddings’ “never say never” retort hints he could agree to sell the event following a reported £12m (€14.5m) bid from AEG. AEG ticketing chief Bryan Perez reveals the new AXS platform will include a ticket lottery system to cope with fan demand, as well as an option allowing friends to book seats together even when paying separately. Former journalist Jo Dipple is confirmed as chief executive of UK Music, replacing Feargal Sharkey who unexpectedly departed the music industry’s umbrella body last November. Robin and Joe Bennett, organisers of the Truck Festival, announce that the UK event will relaunch in July under new management after last year’s edition went into administration.
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Pollstar Live! celebrated a return to form in February, as the Los Angeles conference added an extra day to its schedule and drew more than 1,200 live music professionals. Incorporating a trade show – Live Event Expo – and the 23rd Pollstar Awards, organisers reported that the bump in numbers reflected an overriding sense of optimism among delegates. “People are talking about having done well last year, as well as greater expectations in the coming year,” says Pollstar COO Gary Smith. “There’s a definite feel of optimism like no other year for the last three or four years now. We’re not out of the woods but it’s really good news.” Panel topics included social
media, promoter partnerships and touring in South America, while the opening session, Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, saw Bob Lefsetz interview former baseball coach Billy Beane, whose story has become an Oscar-nominated film. “The game’s not efficient, the players aren’t properly valued, and we look for the inefficiencies,” Beane said, drawing parallels with the music industry. With Glastonbury Festival promoter Michael Eavis making an appearance, the festival panel discussed perseverance and sincerity. “It’s hard to create a new festival brand. You’ve got to love it, you have to be passionate,” said Pasquale Rotella of Insomniac. Meanwhile, during a keynote interview, bluff was revealed as a necessary skill by AEG Live boss Randy Phillips. Talking candidly about Michael Jackson’s death in 2009, Phillips admitted that when he struck a $60million (€45m) deal with Sony Pictures for the posthumous film This Is It, AEG did not know whether it even had enough footage.
Discounting Hits Australia Ticket discounting is becoming a hot topic Down Under as two-for-one and even three-for-one offers are appearing in the marketplace. Australia’s live scene has gone into overdrive in recent years (see market report, page 50), but discounting has become an unwelcome development as promoters try to spare their blushes on under-performing shows. It’s a slippery slope which “totally bastardises the integrity of the ticket,” notes Frontier Touring tour co-ordinator Michael Harrison. “The market has definitely matured. People are not only looking at which shows they’re going to go to, what ticket they’re going to buy, but more importantly, how they’re buying them.” The Big Day Out started the chatter when, for its 2011 tour, a second Sydney show was met with lukewarm interest so organisers offered a “Christmas present” – anyone with a ticket got another free. The exercise shifted tickets, but it also enraged fans. “I attended the Sydney
BDO on Australia Day this year,” wrote one ticketholder on broadcaster ABC’s website, “and I did feel somewhat cheated-by as a consumer.” Since then, sources say promoters of Chris Brown’s F.A.M.E arena tour in 2011 took the extraordinary measure of offering three-forone tickets at his Allphones Arena date in Sydney, while tickets were given away to guests at a New Year’s Eve concert featuring Jamiroquai and Culture Club. “People are being more guarded with their money, particularly with the glut of shows on at the moment,” says Harrison, who says Frontier doesn’t support ticket discounting. “And they know if they wait and hangout to save on the price of a ticket, that’s what they’ll do.”
March 2012 IQ Magazine | 21
Goldenvoice’s Elliott Lefko chats with AEG’s Randy Phillips
Industry Positive at Pollstar Live!
Eurosonic Enjoys Another Record Year More than 3,000 delegates from 41 countries helped make this year’s Eurosonic Noorderslag music conference and showcase festival the biggest in the event’s 26-year history. A total of 3,150 music industry professionals were in the northern Dutch city of Groningen for the 11-14 January gathering, which also sold out 33,000 tickets to fans who were entertained by nearly 300 acts from around the continent. “Everything went very smoothly: the conference was really good and we successfully integrated the Interactive Conference within it, which is something we’ll now build on for the future,” says Eurosonic organiser Ruud Berends. “We
also held the European Border Breakers Awards and The European Festival Awards on the same evening in the one venue, which allowed them to share production, and that was definitely appreciated by our guests, so we’ll repeat that going forward too.” With representatives of more than 400 festivals in attendance, the success of the European Talent Exchange Programme (ETEP) in securing a five-year, €2.1million grant from the European Union made headlines and Berends says the money should allow the scheme to expand from its current 70 participating events to 100 festivals in that same time frame.
Goebbels Exits Apex for Robertson Taylor return Industry veteran Martin Goebbels has rejoined Robertson Taylor Insurance Brokers (RTIB), after taking his Apex team back to his former employer. Goebbels will remain based in Fulham, while his colleagues Pamela Choat and Holly Leary have moved to RTIB’s offices in London’s Docklands. The return to the company he left six years ago, Goebbels explains, was prompted by RTIB last year becoming part of the Entertainment Insurance Partners Worldwide (EIP) group. “This has resulted in a change of management team within Robertson Taylor and one we feel now offers the scope and growth
opportunities we require for our clients and, of course, us personally,” he says. As part of the deal, Apex and RTIB agreed that all clients handled by Goebbels would transfer to RTIB, meaning all policies will continue to run as before. “[Martin] is very experienced with a proven track record in music and touring insurance and will be a great asset to our business, as will Pamela and Holly,” says EIP’s CEO John Silcock. “These appointments underline our strategy to grow our core business, both in the UK and internationally and we anticipate making further announcements shortly.”
Cato Reveals Olympian Ambitions
London-based company Cato Music is preparing for its second decade in the business with a truly Olympian expansion plan that will allow it to fulfil ambitions of training the next generation of production and tour crews. Founded by former tour manager Glen Rowe in 2001, Cato celebrated its tenth anniversary by taking over the former headquarters of the British Olympics Association and
has spent the last few months renovating those premises to set up a creative hub centred around the live music sector. “The new premises are just a walk around the corner from our existing operation and we’re building facilities to allow crews to come in to shower etc, no matter what time of day or night it is,” says Rowe, who was TM for the likes of Muse prior to establishing Cato. Rowe claims Cato is the only all-encompassing tour production company in existence, providing services that include trucking and transport; rehearsal space; backline hire; a crew and musician agency; storage; bussing; ‘Deptford’ John Armitage’s Guitar Hospital; and a sales and endorsement operation for brands including Yamaha, Pro Mark, Shure and Zild-
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jian, for which it runs the UK Endorse Centre. The former British Olympics HQ in Wandsworth, (which boasts one of the biggest boardrooms in Europe) houses no fewer than 44 rooms and offices and Rowe’s plans to make the complex a creative nucleus for music are progressing quickly, with the likes of a PR agency, a TV production company, artist managers, songwriters and session musicians already inhabiting space. “We’re also creating new rehearsal spaces and studios, as well as hugely increasing our storage facilities, because we know how hard these are to find for both established and emerging acts,” adds Rowe, whose team have recently been involved on tours by the likes of Take That, Beyoncé and Rihanna.
Despite the ambitious expansion, however, Rowe adds that one of the original functions of Cato Music – tour production – remains at the core of the business, with specialists on hand to provide services on issues such as budgeting and cash flow projections, on-tour accounting, staffing, logistics, show advancing, equipment and transport, as well as assistance and advice in such areas as visas, withholding tax and insurance. And in an attempt to ensure there is a healthy flow of new blood coming into the industry, Cato has teamed up with the Academy of Contemporary Music in Guildford to run a tour production and management course (or as Rowe calls it, “roadie school”) which so far has seen more than 100 youngsters enrol.
Veteran Record Exec Reid Joins Live Nation
Experienced record company boss John Reid has been appointed by Live Nation Europe to the new position of president of concerts. Formerly vice-chairman and CEO of Warner Music International, Reid has been involved in global marketing for acts such as Madonna, Green Day, Michael Bublé, Muse and Bruno Mars and his new employers highlight his contribu-
tion to building touring and artist services businesses in the European and Latin markets, while managing the international transition of recorded music to the digital download and streaming services. “John will be pivotal in broadening our touring artist portfolio and strengthening our show-marketing capabilities as we head into what we expect to be
another strong year,” says Simon Lewis, Live Nation Europe CEO. Reid adds, “Having spent a number of years navigating and leading the transition of the recorded music business to digital, and to full rights management, this is a great opportunity to join the largest live music, management and ticketing businesses at a very exciting time for the company.”
Boardroom Shuffles Prompt Export Office Changes A series of career manoeuvres among executives in Europe’s most northern markets has led to strategic changes in the export office set-up. Music Export Finland has merged with the Finnish Music Information Centre (Fimic) to become Music Finland. That development followed long-time Music Export Finland chief Paulina Ahokas quitting her post to become managing director of Tampere Hall. The new oper-
ation will be run by executive director Tuomo Tähtinen, who previously worked with Ahokas as the export office’s project manager in the UK and United States. Tähtinen states, “The new organisation is a wonderful combination of talent with international know-how and extensive knowledge of music and the music industry. We are now able to reach a wider clientele and offer a broader range of services to our clients and partners all
IOEX Makes its Debut A new expo aimed specifically at the summer live music business is launching next month in London, amid research that points to continued growth across the sector. Running alongside the established 6-8 March International Confex at the ExCeL centre, the International Outdoor Event Expo (IOEX) is being organised by UBM, which claims demand was the key driver behind the new conference
and trade show. “Confex has been going for 28 years and attracts about 12,000 visitors, but we’ve found that nearly 4,000 of those are involved in live events and about 1,800 of those have a festival or concert background, but we weren’t really catering to them,” says IOEX sales director Mark Gordon. “There are a lot of sound and AV people in particular, so launching IOEX was a simple decision because we
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around the globe.” Meanwhile, Anna Hildur Hildibrandsdóttir has resigned from her position as managing director of Iceland Music Export (IMX) to take up the role as programme director of the new, allencompassing Nordic Music Export. She will work alongside the Icelandic, Swedish, Finnish, Norwegian and Danish export offices and focus on strengthening connections across the region, while establishing a Nordic
brand for music. As part of her remit, she will develop collaborative relationships with companies in the travel industry to benefit artists, promoters and music fans alike, as well as working on Nordic music in the Nordic media, and building awareness of original contemporary music from all five countries. She has been replaced at IMX by former Sugarcubes’ drummer Sigtryggur Baldursson.
already have an audience.” The seminar programme for the second day of the expo will be aimed entirely toward the live music industry, with topics including cashless payments and paperless ticketing, as well as a session which will allow festival organisers to network with landowners. Meanwhile, a poll carried out by IOEX reveals confidence in the business is high for 2012. The survey found that 83.4% of respondents said their investment budget would be the same
or increased in 2012; 57.1% said they planned to invest in event technology and 53.7% in AV equipment. However, 45% of respondents highlighted the current economy as the biggest issue affecting the events industry this year, compared to only 18% who cited the Olympics.
Overseas festival fans boost Icelandic economy The growing importance of the annual Iceland Airwaves Festival to the nation’s economy has been highlighted in a new report exclusively released to IQ. The project, managed by Iceland Music Export’s Tómas Young, found that the expenditure of foreign festival guests increased by 54% since 2010, when similar research was last carried out. In the 2010 report it was estimated that travel costs of the guests would have been around ISK120million (€742,000), compared to last year’s ISK180m (€1.1m) thanks to an attendance increase of 26%. That boost in visitor numbers also contributed to increased revenue due to guests staying one night longer than the previous year. The study found that visitors
from the US made up a quarter (26%) of foreign festival guests at Iceland Airwaves. In second and third place (although almost equal) were the UK (15%) and Germany (14%). 8% of guests were from France, 7% Canada and 6% from The Netherlands. Denmark, Sweden and Norway were pretty much even with around 5% each, with 2% of guests attending from Australia and 1% each from Switzerland, Austria, Japan and Finland. Around 83% of respondents were visiting the festival for the first time and around 13% had attended once previously. The vast majority of guests paid for their own accommodation, while 17% stayed with friends or family. In 2010, the results showed
that overseas guests spent a total of about ISK313m (€1.93m) during their stay. Last year, that figure soared to ISK482.5m (€3m), excluding travel costs. Adding travel costs, the 2011 expenditure came to around ISK664m (€4.1m) among the attending 2,794 foreign festival fans, meaning each person’s expenditure amounted to an average of ISK26,168 (€162) per day. The gender percentage of respondents was 58% male and 42% female – a very similar result to the respondents at the 2010 festival (60% male, 40% female). The average age of the survey group was 28.9 with the youngest being 18-years old and the oldest 55. Most guests were between 25-29 years of age, but these were only 31% of
the respondents. 28% were 18-24 and 25% were between 30-34. Attendees between 35-39 made up about 10% and those over 40 consisted of 6%. The age distribution is very similar to the respondents of the survey in 2010 where the average age was 28.6. “We wanted to carry out a survey after the banking collapse in Iceland because there was a perception that people might be spending less money now,” explains Young. “However, it turns out that people are spending more and that’s a big bonus for the city of Reykjavík at a time of the year when tourism is otherwise low. This study shows that without Iceland Airwaves, restaurant, hotel and shop owners would not be as happy as they are.”
their craft has gone down. This is primarily due to a reduction in the number of smaller venues which traditionally offered this level of gig.” James Dodds, director at insurance specialists Doodson also applauds the development, but notes, “From an insurance perspective, these venues still need to be riskaware – those who have not contemplated having live entertainment because of red tape still need to communicate with their insurers about what their new plans will be to make
sure they are covered.” Others are unimpressed. Andy Inglis, former manager of The Luminaire in London states, “Those running small live music venues might be about to find themselves in competition with a load more pubs putting on gigs – and probably free ones. [By all means] exempt schools and churches and community centres, but everyone under 200 capacity? If I’m a small venue that works hard to create a good environment for artists, I’m worried.”
The music industry in the UK is celebrating a landmark victory in its efforts to cut red tape for small gigs, after politicians resoundingly rubber-stamped the Live Music Bill. The legislation includes clauses that remove licensing requirements for venues hosting concerts for less than 200 people. The bill was introduced as a private members’ bill by Tim Clement-Jones in the House of Lords and was sponsored by Liberal Democrat culture spokesman Don Foster in the House of Commons. “Private members’ bills are rarely passed, and it’s even rarer that they do so with the unanimous support of every MP,” says Foster. “The current system has had a deadening effect on the performance of live music in small venues.
At the moment, the landlord of a small pub could face a big fine and imprisonment for letting a customer play a piano without a licence.” Hailing the achievement as “a great day for music”, Jo Dipple, chief executive of industry trade body UK Music, says, “[It] will make a real and positive difference to the lives of musicians. There’s no doubt that the current Licensing Act has created needless layers of bureaucracy – making it complicated and expensive for pubs and other small venues to host live gigs.” John Smith, Musicians’ Union general secretary, agrees. “Over the past few years our members have been telling us that the number of gigs available to young musicians who are still perfecting
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Clement-Jones, Dipple and Foster
Politicians Agree UK’s Live Music Bill
Finding a role for brands in live music FRUKT Group account director Jim Robinson gives his view on how brands need to understand audiences to connect with them…
In my younger days, I was a real cynic about brands ‘activating’ themselves at festivals and other live music events. What right had they to try and sell me stuff when I’d paid money to get away and go berserk with my mates? It just didn’t seem to fit. Now, not that many years later, part of my job is to do exactly what I was cynical about – to help brands connect with their audience through entertaining experiences, such as festivals. That might sound hypocritical, but looking back the reason I was cynical was probably because brands brought very little value to my overall experience. The festival landscape has changed a lot in a relatively short space of time. These days, I can’t imagine going to a festival and not experiencing something interesting that a brand has produced. Similarly, ask consumers whether brands are welcome, the response generally is ‘yes, as long as they bring something to the party.’ Which is where a partner like FRUKT helps to join the dots. It’s obvious why brands want a piece of the action: festivals provide a captive audience of many brands’ bullseye target – young, influential, social ‘discoverers’ hell-bent on sharing all they can with their friends. But it’s not just the good stuff they’ll share. If something infringes their ‘vibe’ they’ll be quick to let the world know about that too. Brands need to work hard to enhance the experience and to make sure they don’t seem out of place. Turning up with a logoed marquee with some deckchairs just doesn’t cut it. When done properly, there’s a real value exchange that enables all parties to continually improve. Brands are able to connect with their audience physically and digitally, create content and play a part in their world. Rights holders gain partners that add credibility and bring investment, enabling them to build better experiences and create better shows. Festivals particularly give brands an opportunity to push boundaries and do something different, even extreme, to enhance experiences, compared to their traditional media channels. For most young people, a festival ticket is a significant investment, meaning they’re desperate to squeeze every last drop out of those three hedonistic days with their closest mates. Increasingly, they expect the unexpected and demand to be surprised, shocked and even taken out of their comfort zone. If this is achieved, it makes them a loyal crowd. They’ll return year after year and will also expand their festival repertoire in an attempt to find the latest new experience.
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There’s been many a press article asking ‘Are festivals dead?’ I really don’t think so, but with over 700 festivals in the UK alone, competition is tough and it certainly is survival of the fittest – or smartest. Experiences must evolve to continue to entertain. What’s key for brands is to fully understand their audience. Most brand managers tend to be outside their audience profile, so taking proper time and using budget to fully understand what excites them, and makes them want to share their experience, is absolutely vital. Brands need to use this knowledge and find a way of telling their story in a relevant way, so that they’re an extension of the experience, not an add-on. What continues to be interesting and provides a huge opportunity for brands are the things that innovate around the experience and involve the audience. Especially this year – grabbing audience attention in an Olympics-dominated summer is no easy task. But it’s definitely achievable and doesn’t need to be expensive or complicated. Coldplay’s radio-controlled wristband lights given to 10,000 X Factor fans is a great example of this kind of innovation. Suddenly, 10,000 people were all part of the performance and wanting to tell their friends. The average 22-year-old now has over 1,000 Facebook friends. Apply that to a 100,000-strong festival crowd and that’s a huge amount of potential customers. These insights inform all of our experiential work. When we created the Southern Comfort Juke Joint, we invested heavily in researching our audience and finding a connection to the brand’s story before having ideas. It enabled us to create an experience that’s relevant to both our audience and the festival environment. Further insights are included in FRUKT’s recently published Field Work guide, including our brand activation checklist: • Choose the right partner – someone who understands the music industry. • Know your audience – take time to understand exactly what they’re after. • Take ownership and tell your story relevantly – so that the audience understands why you’re there. • Think beyond the field – the live event is just one part of the experience. • Evaluate success – ask people what they do and don’t like so that you can improve in the future. Olympics? Pah! Surely summers are all about live music?!
Bucking the German System
Recently appointed vice-president AEG Facilities Germany Uwe Frummhold discusses the challenges he faces in streamlining and expanding his company’s business in a fragmented national market... After taking up my new appointment four months ago, I have to admit I was a little surprised by the extent of the media interest regarding my new role; after all I did not change companies. But of course my responsibilities have expanded. AEG now trusts me to guide all of our German entities, namely the o2 World Berlin [which in December parted company with MD Mike Keller] and the o2 World Hamburg with its adjacent Volksbank Arena. “What does it mean for AEG’s plan in Germany?”, “Why now?”, “Is AEG going to expand its arena portfolio in Germany?” Those were some of the questions I was asked over the first days in my new job. Knowing these pages are usually reserved for comment on current issues and events, I’d rather like to use this opportunity to answer these questions. What’s new? – My position was newly created, so this is a fairly legitimate question. First of all, 2011 was a year of transition for AEG Europe overall with structural and personal changes. Jay Marciano as president and CEO for all AEG entities in Europe and Rod O’Connor as executive vice-president for AEG Facilities have been in charge of AEG’s European Operations only since spring and have started realigning our European business. Globally, AEG has been growing at a rapid pace over the last decade, especially in our facility division. And even though Europe has played an important part in that growth too, the German business has been a little under the radar up until now. Why now? – Germany’s entertainment market is unique and, consequently, not that easy to grasp. Germany is not large but it calls itself a Federal Republic – fairly decentralised – so that, for example, there is no national radio programme of any importance, unlike in the UK. This very regional focus is reflected in the entertainment business as well. As IQ documented in its March 2011 issue, the German promoter environment is very complex. The fact that neither AEG Live nor Live Nation have an operating business unit in Germany is the most significant sign of what a unique set up it is. My ten years of running the o2 World in Hamburg, were also ten years of learning ‘the system’ and building relations within the promoter
network. So with the clear goal to unify all entities under the roof of AEG Europe, I will have to kind of bridge and translate those ‘cultural differences’. My main task, of course, is to expand AEG’s business in Germany, which doesn’t necessarily mean we are going to add more venues – but on the other hand, why not? There still are some good opportunities around. AEG already owns and operates the top two venues in Germany but we feel there is still an upside – whether utilising operational synergies or bringing more content to our buildings. 2011 wasn’t the best year for content, either in Hamburg or Berlin. Ok, Berlin and Hamburg have sports tenants that provide a steady base of around 50-60 events per venue annually – and yes, between both venues, sport draws over one million visitors (third only to the soccer venues of powerhouse Bayern Munich and Champion Borussia Dortmund). But, needless to say, concerts and shows are the real drivers for our bottom line and the reason why AEG has built multipurpose arenas. So, as large venues, we heavily rely on the touring schedule of national and international artists. In the long run, we need and have to get more and more control over our own destiny – despite ‘the system’. One way to achieve this is creating new event formats and brands on our own. This is not an easy thing to establish, since an event brand isn’t built overnight, as we learned with projects like Wir Beaten Mehr, a unique concert with several artists from different musical backgrounds promoting German lyrics. Nevertheless, it was an encouraging experience that sold out both venues and we will try to develop other event concepts in the future. I will also further promote the o2 World venues in Hamburg and Berlin as one entertainment platform and the one-stop-shop for the two biggest markets in Germany. Though our event schedule is still lacking the real international hotshots, we have solid content coming up and selling very well, especially German artists like Udo Lindenberg or Peter Maffay’s Tabaluga and other family shows like Batman or Cirque du Soleil. All in all, the future already looks brighter for 2012.
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A Manager Muses
Anthony Addis, accountant and manager of Muse, sets out his opinions on various points pertaining to the current state of the industry... I qualified as an accountant in 1974 and quickly joined Kennedy Street where I gained knowledge of management, concert promotion, agency, music publishing, and recording and mastering studios. Effort and long hours during that period enabled me to understand and master all those facets of the industry. When I started my own accountancy practice in 1983 this knowledge allowed me to advise artists, managers and lawyers on solving their problems linked to accountancy and tax principles. Experience of tour accounting meant I could also advise on equipment hire, logistics and contractual negotiations. It was a natural progression into management in 2001 when I reformed The Pogues and began managing Muse. I knew about income sources, negotiating the best deals, running tours and recording and publishing matters. The other side to management – managing people and good administration – I believe followed on naturally from my training and background.
“ Attending industry conferences I notice that people constantly dwell on the downside of our industry. If we all feel like that, what’s the point of carrying on?” Today, management is totally different: business knowledge has increased dramatically and communication and the presentation of music have altered drastically. An effective management company needs staff qualified in marketing, digital, trademarks and merchandising, not to mention knowledge of recording, publishing, films and television. Record companies have woken up to this world, but still not appointed the necessary personnel to deal with their signed artists. The same marketing tick-boxes cannot be applied to all, so managers must fight for their artists’ rights to individual recognition. Attending industry conferences I notice that people constantly dwell on the downside of our industry. If we all feel like that, what’s the point of carrying on? Problem solving is a prerequisite skill, but often vital quick decisions are not made as people fear ridicule if they attempt something new. They are terrified of getting it wrong in case it results in hours of lawyers’ time to ensure no one loses out to another while the ‘bean counters’
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fret about losing money. As an accountant, I look at the commerciality of a deal: what are the risks, the value for money, is it the right thing from the artist’s point of view? If so, go for it. Today’s innovation is tomorrow’s equivalent of the wind-up gramophone. Today’s industry disease is known as ‘Cowellism’, where artists with no training or experience are given a record deal, a fan base, a tour (for which they are woefully unprepared), then they fall apart and disappear into oblivion because next year’s model appears taking away their fan base – game over! Whilst this does not apply to all, the old ‘learning the ropes’ adage has gone. An artist needs to gain experience on the small clubs circuit in order to build up a following and before taking the next step. Artists now exercise yearly album cycles, which will soon end when the public become bored of the game. Record companies have to comply to earn their bread and butter, but if, like managers, they continue to look for the long-term artists, then the future is not as bleak as some may predict. A couple of matters do annoy me greatly. Firstly, artists overcharging for concert tickets, usually as a result of demanding excessive fees with no one having established what the fan base can afford. Most people work very hard to earn their cash (bankers excepted) and expect value for money. This is vital as they are the people who also buy the records etc – look after them and they will be there for a long time. It only takes a few artists not to do this and you have shows with empty houses offering half-priced tickets. A manager has to ensure this does not happen. If a promoter loses a lot of money on a tour and goes out of business, people assume the artist is finished. If you’re in it for the long-term there is no need for the cash and grab. Another bugbear is secondary ticketing and the government’s attitude that ticket touting is lawful in the music business, but not in the sporting arena. In my experience, promoters work hard at both indoor venues and festivals. Facilities have improved immeasurably and all kinds of shows can now be presented worldwide. Also, the expertise of the modern crew ensures that downsides are covered and the show will go on under any circumstances to keep the fans happy. The fan is the most important person in the whole industry. Without them, the music business simply would not exist and we should all remember that.
Rock and Roller Coasters Rob Hallett, president of international touring at AEG Live reflects on 2011 and looks forward to 2012… 2011 was my very own annus horribilis. As many of you know I had heart surgery in May. The good news (perhaps bad for some) is that it was a great success. I am back fitter, stronger and re-invigorated, to face the trials and tribulations of working in the 21st century music business. 2011 was another transitional year in our ever-evolving industry, with my own involvements including the return of Usher, YouTube’s first superstar – Justin Bieber, and Bon Jovi’s mega pan-European stadium success. But others’ successes also come to mind: the probably unrepeatable phenomenon of a reformed Take That which confirmed the general public’s insatiable desire for the right product; tours from Rihanna, U2 and many UK and European festival record attendances; plus the return of David Guetta, Deadmau5 and Swedish House Mafia to name but three stars of a rejuvenated dance scene, unreliant on traditional media.
“ We need to support these survivors, otherwise who else will develop new talent?” On the downside, 2011 saw Britain and America sidelined. The countries that pretty much created our industry lost their last significant record companies to the French, the Japanese and the Russians. Three competitive labels are still out there not letting iTunes have things all their own way, but how long for? We need to support these survivors, otherwise who else will develop new talent? Certainly not iTunes, Google or Amazon! There is an appetite for new talent, and that talent is out there in the form of great new British artists like Adele, Tinie Tempah, Labyrinth, Professor Green and Wretch 32 to name but a few. And we now have access to tools such as YouTube, Spotify and Facebook that allow us to discover new talent and to promote it via social networks. Also, pop radio in the UK is exciting once more, thanks to Global Radio. Capital is a national network unashamed to play pop music, allowing Radio One to focus on exposing more independently minded artists with stories to tell. All in all, I believe that the future is bright! The internet will provide more stars like Bieber, with kids deciding who they wish to see and hear, rather than us middle-aged men. The army of concert-going fans will grow with each subsequent generation and I, for one, await 2012 with relish and look forward to another eventful year on the roller coaster that we call show business. Bring it on!
Stuck in the Middle? Thomas Ovesen, COO of Done Events in Dubai, gives an overview of the current state of the Middle Eastern markets... Trying to review the live entertainment industry in the Middle East or even ‘just’ summarise the 2011 season will involve a lot of simplifications and slightly unfair comparisons of apples with pears, as each market is fundamentality different. And in recent months (in some cases) some destinations have experienced significant challenges to national security with turmoil and instability effectively prohibiting any kind of live entertainment.
“H uge artist fees are being paid to secure topnotch performances for government-owned sporting and cultural events.” However, the general issues facing our industry in the Middle East are still in many ways the same: • No purpose-built venues (although some recessionstruck projects are slowly coming back online). • Short season due to climate and religious issues. • Big one-off costs producing even small-scale shows because of the lack in venue infrastructure and high rental costs. • No real touring potential between the countries because of the different audience demographics in each and every country. Or because of the huge difference in fee potential in the regional markets with Abu Dhabi and Dubai on one end of the scale and much smaller markets like Muscat and Manama on the extreme opposite end. • Huge costs for fans attending events as, in many cases due to the geography of the region, they have to fly, book hotels, take time off work, etc to attend an event. • Difference in taste and ability to pay for tickets across the different markets – this is partly linked with some markets being homogenous with a largely local residence base and some having up to 80% of all residents coming from elsewhere in the world. 2011 has again seen top artists en masse performing in Abu Dhabi, some great touring shows stopping over in Dubai, and a really vibrant summer season with international artists and DJs performing in Beirut. But whilst the Lebanon scene is booming after a few years of stability with more venues and private promoters staging shows, the Gulf markets are now more dominated by government and hotel underwriting of events, with less private and independent promoters staging shows.
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Huge artist fees are being paid to secure top-notch performances for government-owned sporting and cultural events. This is particularly so in Abu Dhabi, where such promotions are seemingly marketing-based and part of a city promotion, which is expected to be the scenario in the coming years in other regional markets (like Qatar where Doha will be hosting their own range of top international sporting events). Even in Dubai, the city that used to be the regional Mecca for live entertainment, the number of private promoters has been reduced to a few entities promoting only a few shows with ourselves, a quasi-governmental outfit and local hotels being the most active show promoters. We are the only ones still staging the medium- and large-scale shows, although with a lifeline thrown in the form of food and beverage revenues or, in our case, the occasional ticket tax waiver and partial venue ownership, ultimately offering the vital help in reducing costs or improving event feasibility. Local live entertainment legislation is still absent and there is still no consolidated effort made by the stakeholders to assist the events industry on a par with what is being done for the hospitality sector. This leaves our industry exposed to a potential sudden and significant drop-off in business should one or more of these active organisers lose their current mandate and official backing. So, whilst the influx of largely subsidised shows has not yet stimulated a growth in the commercial business, it has driven up artist fee expectations and sometimes saturated the market with unrealistically low ticket pricing. This will continue to discourage new promoters and will further challenge the few brave souls still trying to promote shows independently. At the other end of the region, Lebanon has seen a growth in live events mainly driven by the recent busy summer seasons, but also helped by more promoters wanting to get a share of the business. Promoters have also demonstrated a willingness to take risks on shows outside of the summer season, promoting to the largely domestic market as opposed to the hugely inflated summer population when ex-pat Lebanese return to their home country for holidays with plenty of saved up disposable cash to spend. No doubt ours is a region that will continue appealing to international touring talent wanting a lucrative stop on their tours, but much work is needed from within our regional industry if we want to make it attractive enough for independent event promoters to operate here.
The Live Review
Keith Gilbert, director of public performance sales at PRS for Music, sums up the reasoning behind the recent consultation on live royalty rates in the UK...
When we announced in June 2010 that we would be starting a formal customer consultation on royalty rates for popular music events in the UK, it created quite a bit of debate in the industry. On the one hand, we had members and many customers keen to see the tariff reviewed, but on the other, many were concerned about the impact of any changes. The tariff under review was Tariff LP for popular music events and Tariff DP for dance parties. The rate – set at 3% of ticket receipts – had not been reviewed since 1988 and what couldn’t be disputed was that the economics of live had changed considerably over that period. The UK live music sector is the biggest generator of revenues for the UK music industry with consumer spending on live music calculated as £1.48billion (€1.79bn) in 2010. Despite a dip in revenue recently, over the past few years the industry has experienced several growth milestones – including live overtaking recorded music for the first time in 2008 – as more and more consumers showed an insatiable appetite for live music. As the organisation that represents creators it was only right to review our charges and approach by taking a sense check as to whether the tariff structure was still relevant for today’s live scene in the UK. We made it clear from the outset that this was an open consultation and invited PRS for Music members, customers and other key stakeholders to engage in the process. It was initially launched to run for 12 weeks, but was extended to 28 weeks to allow everybody who wanted to share views and ideas the opportunity to do so. Fifty-three responses were received, with seven from representative groups spanning the breadth of the live music industry. We received many helpful responses with feedback largely supporting the consultation process, regarding it as sensible to review after 20 years. Responses showed that since the last review the live industry had changed significantly with live music becoming a more professional enterprise and thriving mainstream leisure activity. However, they also confirmed that as the market has grown, so have the costs associated with putting on events. Some of the main themes debated were comparisons with international royalty rates, the increased role of secondary ticketing and the growth of ancillary revenues, and we welcomed people’s honesty and
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contributions to the process. The PRS for Music rate is set at 3% of ticket receipts, which is one of the lowest rates in the world, with charges of up to 10% applied in other European countries, and it was only right to establish if rates were out of step with those of neighbouring territories. Respondents challenged us on this point referring to comparisons with countries such as Australia and the US, where the percentage of receipts to calculate the tariff is lower. Several respondents also noted that the European comparisons did not take into account subsidies and differing structures. It was also felt that the current rate may have helped the success of the industry with an increase making it more difficult to attract artists in the future. Ancillary revenues have experienced significant growth over recent years and there can be no doubt that our members’ music contributes significantly to a wide range of ancillary incomes. Furthermore, the value of ancillary income appears to be growing at a higher rate than ticket prices and this was an area in the review we particularly wanted to address. Some respondents disagreed that it was growing at a higher rate than ticket prices but did feel that that the price of the ticket no longer represents the true cost to customers and that the situation distanced music creators from the value they help to create. However, a number of respondents felt it would not be appropriate to add ancillary revenues in the royalty assessment because not all ancillary income is controlled by the licensee. We listened to each and every response, carefully working through the arguments and recently announced the news that no changes would be made at present. It’s disappointing to read negative comments that the decision not to change the tariff was due to us being “embarrassed” and that the feedback received had just put us “back in our box”. This just simply isn’t true. This process enabled us to create an open channel of communication with the industry and it’s an ongoing dialogue we will continue with. We will carry on working alongside the industry to ensure tariffs support the rights of the creator, whilst recognising the contribution of all parties involved in making the UK live music business the success that it is. I’d like to thank all those who took part in the consultation for their valuable contribution to the process – we look forward to working with you all in the future.
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Making a Meall of it Taking Muse from a room of less than ten people to sell-out stadium tours ranks as one of Geoff Meall’s greatest achievements. But he fears changes in audience behaviour could make similar feats all but impossible in the future. Gordon Masson reports... As director of one of the world’s leading booking agencies, it’s little wonder the respect shown to Geoff Meall is universal. But the genuine affection and esteem he is held in by peers (and promoters) says far more about the man who is as renowned for his straightforward, honest approach to the business as he is his love of a certain football team – and his dance moves. It all could have been so different, though, had The Agency Group’s founder not had a change of heart. When Meall first approached him in 1992, Neil Warnock’s initial response was negative. “We got along, but he told me there just wasn’t a vacancy for a new agent,” says Meall. “Then the next morning he called to say he’d changed his mind and I could come in on a trial basis.” Warnock’s memory of events is slightly different. “It wasn’t that there wasn’t a vacancy, we were just stacked up in the office and I couldn’t see where he would physically sit,” says Warnock. “When it comes to hiring agents I’ve always gone on personality and Geoff was banging on the door. That’s the kind of enthusiasm you want in an agent, so I thought about it and we somehow managed to shoehorn him into the basement.” That u-turn proved to be inspired. Two decades later, Meall runs The Agency Group’s London operations. He also looks after the interests of the likes of Archive, Billy Talent, Doves, Funeral For A Friend, Idlewild, My Chemical Romance, Paramore, The Pogues, Sum 41, Super Furry Animals and The Zutons, among others, while recent additions to his roster include [Me], Ambassadors and the much-vaunted King Charles. But with all due respect to those artists, it’s his association with Muse that he’s best known for around the world. Meall initially heard the name in 1996 when one of his first bands, Gene, used local acts to open for them on a UK tour. “When I asked if any of the acts had been any good, their drummer Matt [James] mentioned the Exeter support, Muse.” Despite that tip-off, it took a bit longer for Meall to check out the band himself. A full two years later Muse was voted one of the best bands at In The City, but Meall wasn’t there.
When they played the 100 Club in London weeks later, he was outside jostling to get in and missed that too. “I finally saw them at The Falcon in Camden,” he says. “There were nine people in the room, including Mike Smith who is now at Columbia Records. I thought Muse were brilliant, Mike didn’t. But I went to see their management the next day and agreed a deal. We couldn’t get a gig for months, but the band got their first record deal with a French label and started to take off.” Next to pick up on Muse were Belgium and Holland and then the UK and Italy. He adds, “Elements of the press were not kind: Radio 1 was supportive from day one, but the NME hated them. They changed their opinion on the third record once Muse had sold out Docklands Arena.” “Taking Muse from nine people in a pub to their first show at Earl’s Court and then again to Wembley Stadium are my proudest moments,” Meall states. “But we’re not finished yet – there’s plenty more to come from Muse and there are other acts on my roster I want to get to arena-level and beyond.” With Muse currently recording their next album, Meall says there’s a small chance the band might do some live promo in late 2012. “We’re already talking about 2013 and that’s likely to be a full international stadium tour,” he adds. Like so many UK agents and promoters, Meall’s introduction to the live music industry was at college, in his case when he became the social secretary at Oxford Polytechnic. However, unlike others, he had no desire to pursue a career on-stage. “I’m totally tone deaf and as anyone who has ever sat near to me at the football will know, I’m the worst singer ever,” he laughs. But while becoming such an important cog in the machinery of the showbiz world would have seemed an impossible dream for the teenage Geoff, he was, in fact, introduced to live music earlier than most. “I was eight when I went to my first gig,” he reveals. “My uncle took us to see The Spinners – they were huge at the time and had their own TV show. Actually, they were also my second, third, fourth and fifth gigs, because
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Muse at San Siro, Milan
my uncle took us every Christmas.” Away from that folk scene, the young Meall was one of thousands who attended Liverpool’s Lark in the Park festivals and was listening to 80s hip hop before he got into Queen, Marillion, Genesis and what he describes as “all the other bands that scallies [working-class rogues] on the football terraces were into at the time.” The dreaming spires of Oxford were a long way from Meall’s childhood environment. Compared to home (where mum was a school dinner lady and dad had worked for an electronics manufacturer) the Home Counties were worlds apart. “It was 1987 and there just weren’t any jobs in Liverpool; my dad had been unemployed for two years and any job he went for, hundreds were also going for,” he says. “Then I found myself in Oxford where there were signs in shops and restaurants pleading for staff. I couldn’t get my head around it.” Indeed, by his early teens, the neighbourhood where Meall had grown up, Toxteth, had become known for all the wrong reasons: in 1981 riots devastated the area, perhaps influencing his decision to travel south to study a course in tourism and accountancy, which, along with speaking fluent Spanish, are skills he reckons have served him well. Others refute his claims to a geographic knowledge. “There’s a map on the wall in Geoff’s office, thank heavens, because his logistical sense isn’t great,” laughs Anthony Addis, Muse’s manager. “If it wasn’t for that map he’d have bands travelling thousands of miles by road overnight, but thank goodness he has his assistant, Clare [Utting], to run him – she’s the puppetmaster.” Having dipped his toe in the waters at college, Meall decided a career in agency might be a better way into the music industry than the one most teenagerswere envisioning. “I wanted to get
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involved in the students’ union because I saw it as a way into the music industry – or rather into a record company, because I didn’t know about agents or how the business worked.” Geoff’s enthusiasm got him noticed and at the end of his studies he found a job as a junior agent at London-based Cloud Music Agency (CMA), through whom he’d booked a number of acts. “Capercaillie was the first act I looked after, but I wasn’t really into it and it must have shown because, quite rightly, they sacked me. That was a real lesson: it’s easy to get involved in something that you’re not in love with, but it’s not a great idea.” Nonetheless, he had built a small roster and when it became apparent that CMA was in trouble, he targeted The Agency Group as the place to hone his talents. “I had about seven or eight acts I took with me, including Barenaked Ladies, Senser and Gene.” At the time, Meall was one of only a handful of employees at The Agency Group, but thanks in no small part to his hard work in growing the company’s roster, the London HQ alone now employs 45 staff, including 17 agents. “From day one, Geoff had a tenacious drive and he still has that today,” notes Warnock. “He’s always been excellent in the deals that he’s done and knows how to build a client and do the right thing as an agent, rather than a booker. His influence in bringing other agents to the company has been huge and we’ve not lost a single agent under Geoff’s watch. He’s created a great working environment, but it’s a very social place too – he’s a fantastic manager, a great communicator and a brilliant agent and you can’t ask for more than that.” That admiration is mutual. “Neil’s door is always open to me,” says Meall. “He taught me mostly everything and if younger staff need guidance, they know they can tap into
One bonus of his career choice has been satisfying his wanderlust, helped along by the odd flight on a private jet. But that isn’t the perk that pleases him most. A fanatical supporter of Liverpool Football Club, when Meall isn’t devoting time to wife Sue and teenage sons Luca and Charlie, he tries to see his beloved Reds as often as possible and isn’t shy at calling in favours. “I can pretty much always get tickets for Liverpool in Europe through contacts at stadiums,” he says, adding gloomily, “not that I’ve had to worry too much about that this season.” His passion for the Anfield club means almost any conversation with Meall includes a breakdown of his team’s form – no mean feat when some of his biggest clients are fans of Liverpool’s biggest rivals. “In business, Geoff is really astute. He knows the best places to perform in each market for every act at every level. The problem is he can’t go into dressing rooms without security – he’s a Scouser [Liverpudlian]; so you have to count your fingers after shaking hands with him,” says Addis (a Manchester United fan). Doves’ manager Dave Rofe is a Manchester City fan. “Geoff’s from the wrong end of the East Lancs Road [which runs between Manchester and Liverpool], so you have to excuse him certain things. We have an ongoing debate about the
Testimonials My Chemical Romance Geoff is brilliant, focused, organised, understanding, patient and gentle – nothing at all like an agent. Geoff believed in MCR when there wasn’t much there to believe in. He is a key member of our team and he has helped us realise our dreams. To the next 20, 25, 50 years! Congratulations Geoff. We love you. Timothy Vigon – Coalition Management, UK Geoff said from the very early days with Muse – to much derision from myself – they were going to be the band that took him into stadiums. He never wavered and he was absolutely right, and what a textbook job he’s done on them, both here and throughout the world (excluding America – ha ha ha!). Here’s to another 20 years for the only Scouser I’d trust with my wallet. Gillian Park – MGR, UK Geoff is the nicest, Spanish-speaking Scouse booking agent I know. Andrea Pieroni – Live Nation Italy Geoff has the quality of recognising good acts at first sight, developing their work and taking them to the top. I worked with him on acts such as Nickelback, Evanescence, My Chemical Romance, Funeral For A Friend and Sum 41 – always with great satisfaction. Paul Debnam – PSI Music, Austria I first met Geoff in Russell Warby’s shoebox at the old Agency office. Geoff had scissors in his hand making various motions when we noticed after a while that Russell’s paperwork had been sheared. I really thought he was heading towards a career in origami, but 20 years later, he’s still Geoff.
Geoff and Neil Warnock in slightly more hirsute times
my 20 years of experience or Neil’s 45 years. We lean on our younger agents too, because when it comes to new genres or the club scene they have more of a finger on the pulse than us old boys.” Not one for wallowing in the past, Meall nevertheless has inherited one trait from Warnock that he can call upon for reference. “I keep all my date sheets, which is something Neil does too, so maybe I’ve been moulded in his image.” “I never actually realised he did that,” beams Warnock. “It’s a great way to keep track of things and I carry my date sheets with me, going back all the way to the 1960s.” Meall’s records confirm a number of milestones, including his first arena show – Barenaked Ladies at Wembley in November ‘99 – and before that his first international show, promoted by Carlos Fleischman. “It was 1995 at the VK Club in Brussels with Senser. It still ranks as the roughest place I’ve ever been – and that’s from someone who lived through the Toxteth riots,” says Meall. Despite that scare, Meall still works with Fleischman. “We started out during the same period and it was really great luck for me that I got the chance to work with Geoff,” Fleischman tells IQ. “The biggest band we work on together is Muse, but there have also been Super Furry Animals, as well as a load of other acts on the Agency’s books and I’m really grateful Geoff has remained so loyal over the years.” Looking back through the archives, Meall laments, “199295 was the hardest period in the live music industry, but thankfully Brit Pop changed things and by 96-97 interest in going to gigs was revived.” Nonetheless, there were disappointments along the route. “I was fired for European booking by Senser, which was the first band I’d managed to have some success with. Although it killed me at the time, I learned that as close as you are to an artist, you’re vulnerable to things outside your control happening.”
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strengths and weaknesses of Liverpudlian and Mancunian musical output, but that’s a bit more polite than our football banter. Mind you, I remember The Sun newspaper getting in touch because they wanted a photo of the band for a festive feature – Two Turtle Doves, kinda thing. Geoff’s response was to guide the journalist to the website dontbuythesun. co.uk, which was genius. He might have bad taste in football teams, but I’d never think of going anywhere else for an agent.” German promoter Fleischman accompanied Meall on one of his happier European ventures when Liverpool reached the UEFA Cup final against Alaves in 2001. “It was in Dortmund and Liverpool won 5-4, so it was a great match and one of the best nights ever with Geoff going crazy before, during and after the game,” says Fleischman. Away from football, Meall is a keen cyclist and has even completed the Galibier stage of the Tour de France – the race’s highest mountain with a gruelling 23-kilometre constant climb. “I’m a MAMIL (middle-aged man in Lycra),” admits Meall. “I get what we MAMILs refer to as ‘the comic’ – Cycling Weekly – and I take it pretty seriously.” Lately, he is also scheduling more time to industry matters and as a vehement opponent of the resale market, he’s a founding board member of the FanFair Alliance. “Secondary ticketers are great at their own PR, but they don’t understand there are specific reasons to put an act in a certain venue at a certain time. They’ll argue that if demand is too high then you should have gone to a bigger venue, but there’s a strategy to building a career and creating demand is part of that.” Another concern, he contends, is the ever-more cutthroat nature of the business. “I hear stories that agents for US companies are cutting commissions to try to nick artists from other agents,” he says. “My view? If an agent offers reduced rates, then maybe that agent isn’t good enough in the first place. But it’s worrying that people are doing this and maybe it’s just a matter of time before record companies employ similar tactics to try to increase their slice of the pie.” Speaking of record companies, he adds, “When the labels first got involved in live, my fear was they were going to fuck up our business like they had fucked up their own. Everybody at The Agency Group earns according to what they bring in to the company and that’s a great way to keep your house in order – basically the size of our building is based on the business we do – whereas record labels didn’t adjust budgets when sales started to dive.” With The Agency Group operations taking over another floor of their London premises, the company is in rude health. But Meall believes the industry is at a pivotal point that could irreversibly change its fortunes. “There’s a paradigm shift about to happen because there’s an entire generation of kids that have never paid for music who are about to become young adults. They’re the demographic we’ve depended upon for our income over the decades. How can we persuade them to start paying for music?” Despite such dilemmas, Meall is optimistic about the future of The Agency Group and reveals that offers to lure him away always fall flat. “Setting up on my own would be feasible, but I have no interest in doing it. I’ve had offers from other
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Geoff as a Super Furry Animal
Phil Rodriguez – Waterbrother, USA Geoff is a top-notch agent. On the ball and on top of the game without the drama that unfortunately sometimes is part of our business. Steady and focused – he gets the job done. Juha Kyyrö – Full Steam, Finland Geoff is one of the best: you don’t get lost in translation with him. We worked together very successfully on Billy Talent and I believe we have both been happy about each others’ work after each show. Jeps Salfischberger – Mojo Concerts, Netherlands I’ve been working with Geoff since 2002. Our first band together was Nickelback, followed by Evanescence and then Motion City Soundtrack, My Chemical Romance, Billy Talent, Silverstein, Funeral For A Friend, Paramore and many more. He is an honest and pleasant agent to work with and we share a sense of humour, which makes it fun and I hope I’ll be working with him for many years to come. Ece Yörük – Vera Müzik, Turkey The Agency Group is definitely the best and I know Geoff is very inspiring for the younger agents. He’s really protective about his bands and they should feel fortunate to work with him. With the energy Geoff has, I’m sure he’ll have many more successful years. Martin Schrader – Redda Music, Switzerland Geoff has 20 fingers on his keyboard when it’s about returning a joke, but only two when it’s about numbers. After a good laugh you suddenly find yourself working with some of the greatest bands there are. It’s still business, but this way it’s fun! Nick Hassid – Anosi, Greece When I met Geoff he had nice red hair – I hope he doesn’t look like Neil Warnock now. He hates everybody that plays football if they’re not playing for Liverpool, but he hates some players from his team too. But he is also clever and friendly and is not an arrogant agent.
agencies, but that hasn’t appealed either – I like that our company has taken the UK ethos to the United States, rather than the other way around.” One of the biggest kicks he gets is helping the next generation of agents come to prominence and he name checks the likes of Greg Lowe, Emily Freeman, Heulwen Keyte, James Rubin, Natasha Bent, Paul Ryan, Jules DeLattre and Tom Taaffe as rising stars. “I’m offered at least one agent per week, but you can only invest in so many, not just because of the financial constraints but also because of the time it takes to help developing agents,” he says. Nevertheless, he believes talent always rises to the top. “My advice for any kid who wants to be an agent is to try to develop a roster. If you’re good, someone will soon spot you. Also, if you’re a technological whizz-kid there are definitely opportunities to make an impact – technology is changing the way we do everything and, to use an old cliché, if you snooze, you lose.” Not that Meall is one for dozing off. He may be the wrong side of 40, but his dance moves have become the stuff of legend and put people half his age to shame. “You know a gig’s gone well when Geoff starts breakdancing,” says Idlewild manager Bruce Craigie. “I remember a show for Radio 1 at the North Star in the Shetlands where the locals were treated to one of his performances.” “Geoff doesn’t suffer fools,” says Warnock. “He’s plain speaking, but has thought out his argument before he speaks. He’s very practical and pragmatic when it comes to business,
Paramore and Meall celebrate the band’s first Wembley Arena show
Salomon Hazot – Nous Productions, France Geoff, prends le velo et va a l alpe d huez! Nana Trandou – Didi Music/Big Star Promotion, Greece There are many things to be said about Geoff, none of them bad. He’s one of the most reliable, cooperative and pleasant agents to deal with and every time I work with him on a show, I have a big smile on my face from beginning to end. Marco Ercolani – Barley Arts, Italy Working with Geoff is always a pleasure: he’s a true talent scout and you can be sure all his bands are great live acts with real personality. Congratulations Geoff! – you really deserve your success – and let’s not forget Clare who “translates” your messages.
but he definitely has a mad side away from the office.” “I can still spin some moves,” smiles Meall. “Actually, I got us thrown out of our own Christmas party because I was challenged to a dance-off and things got a bit too loud. The breakdancing comes out a lot at after-shows, but I know one of these days I’m going to go down and not get back up again.” Former colleague Russell Warby thinks those days arrived some time ago. “We were at The Cross club and Geoff started breakdancing. He was attempting to do the worm and hit the ground with great authority, but it was at great speed too and he broke a rib. He was supposed to have a meeting with an artist the next day but was in so much pain he called off and told the artist that his cat had died.” While the air flares, windmills and backspins may be living on borrowed time, b-boy Meall insists he’s still learning his trade and despite the competition between rival agencies, he enjoys the camaraderie. “Emails fly between agents when a promoter doesn’t fulfil their end of the bargain and I had one recently where I was dealing with a suspect promoter in Ukraine, but I was forewarned because agents at other companies let me know they had experienced problems with him in the past. I like that side of things.” Long-time friend Warby, who left The Agency to join William Morris five years ago, says, “I ring him more often than he rings me, but then he still refers to me as a splitter. His assistant Clare is fantastic and should take a lot of the credit for Geoff’s success. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a great agent – he’s just not as good as me.” It’s not just fellow agents who hold Meall in high regard. “Geoff gave me my big break and he’s become one of my best mates,” says Raw Power Management MD Craig Jennings. “When I was looking to rebuild my roster after moving to
Dominique Revert – Alias, France Geoff came to Festival Inrocks 2010 with his act Free Energy. During the festival I organise wine tasting in a room backstage with winemakers, vineyard owners, sommeliers and some of the finest wine – only Grand Cru and Premier Cru. Geoff, however, preferred to bring his own beer, proving he’s the perfect Liverpool fan. Mads Sørensen – Beatbox Booking, Denmark Geoff is his artists’ man 110%, but you can always talk to him, bounce opinions back and forth and strangely enough it always ends up for the best. I only remember one argument, but he promptly admitted that he made a mistake. A true gentleman, despite being a Liverpool fan. Dave McGeachan – DF Concerts, Scotland A few years ago Geoff came to Glasgow for Billy Talent at Barrowland and we arranged to go and see my football team Greenock Morton play the next day. I had a spare blue and white scarf (Morton colours) which I gave to Geoff and took a photo. A few months later I showed it to another big Liverpool fan who knows him well and he couldn’t believe that Geoff was wearing an Everton [who also have blue and white colours] scarf. Geoff Meall – a wonderful agent and friend who you can chat to about much more than just music. Nigel, Michael, Steve and Mel – Midas Promotions, Singapore We’ve always admired the way Geoff deals with us and yet really looks after his clients at the same time. He’s very fair and we’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with him on our successful Muse and My Chemical Romance dates in Asia. We look forward to more tours together and hope the fortunes of his beloved Liverpool Football Club continue to improve – fifth place is definitely looking feasible now!
Geoff turns up at Festival Inrocks’ wine tasting event with a few friends
Misha Loots – Hilltop Live, South Africa Geoff’s one of my favourite agents, and not just because we share a huge love of bicycles. He is easy to work with, funny, straightforward and I’ve learned a lot from him. And Clare is our favourite agent’s assistant by a country mile. I’ll get him out here at some point, but he is a bit scared of our wildlife for some reason. Craig Jennings – Raw Power Management, UK You always get a very honest opinion from Geoff, even when you don’t want it and I’ve seen us turning down big money because it would be a step in the wrong direction. Geoff ’s a fantastic strategist – he builds careers in the right way and that’s why Raw Power trusts the Agency with so many of our acts. Natasha Bent – The Agency Group, UK Geoff is an incredible mentor. He leads by example and is an inspiration to us all. He’s created an incredible team in the London office, one which is growing daily and is, hands down, the best team out there. This certainly wouldn’t have been possible without Geoff at the helm.
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London, it was Geoff who tipped me off about Funeral for a Friend, which was the start of what Raw Power is today. We now have 22 acts, 18 of which are with The Agency Group and that’s all down to the trust we have in Geoff and people like Paul Ryan, Tom Taaffe, Beckie Sugden and Ross Warnock.” With such a depth of talent under Meall’s wing, the future for The Agency Group looks rosy and having notched up 20 years, he plans to use his experience to strengthen the company’s foothold in the market. “I’m only 42, so realistically I could go on working for another 23 years and I can’t see any reason why I wouldn’t,” he says. “Of course, I want to build every act up to stadium level like we’ve done with Muse. Elsewhere, I want to see all the agents that we have in development becoming income-generating agents and I’m glad to say we’re on a good trajectory for that. I’d also like to bring some senior agents into the company – that’s a conversation that always stays open.” So when he celebrates his 25th anniversary, where does Meall reckon he’ll be? “Still at The Agency Group and hopefully celebrating at least one league win from Liverpool…two or three would be even better.”v
Geoff Meall’s roster:
My Chemical Romance in Valencia 2011 © Alfredo Arias
[Me], Alkaline Trio, Ambassadors, Andy Burrows, Archive, Barenaked Ladies, Billy Talent, Boyce Avenue, Brand New, The Bunny The Bear, Circa Survive, The Constellations, The Crave, Crowns, Dexys, Doves, Foxy Shazam, Free Energy, Funeral for a Friend, Hey Monday, Idlewild, Inward Eye, Jimi Goodwin, King Charles, Leathermouth, Martin Rossiter, MC Lars, Mindless Self Indulgence, Motion City Soundtrack, Muse, My Chemical Romance, Paramore, The Pogues, Shinedown, Story of the Year, Sum 41, Super Furry Animals, Theory of a Deadman, Tyler Ward, Underoath, Wibidi, The Zutons.
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Tom Taaffe – The Agency Group, UK Geoff Meall: keen sports viewer, fancies a flutter at the bookmakers and follows one hell of a dodgy football team! A good boss and a good mate. Lukas Minta – Go Ahead, Poland I was at ILMC, a young, lost promoter from Eastern Europe looking for one of the most important agents. So I texted Geoff “How will I recognise you?”. He replied “I look like a young George Clooney”. He is totally crazy about football, just like me, so we more often talk about football than music. Glen Rowe – Cato Music, UK Geoff and Clare’s relationship is like the Grimm brothers’ story of the shoemaker: Geoff pulls in great acts and heads to watch Liverpool lose and the next day the magic elves have got everything in place and the paperwork is sat neatly on his desk. Keep up the great work Clare, oh, I mean Geoff. Michael Harrison – Frontier Touring, Australia Geoff took me to Liverpool v Arsenal and the sight of a startled Thierry Henry taking a corner as Geoff hurled abuse will be something I will never forget! Congrats Geoff – here’s to the next 20 years. Johnny Phillips – SJM Concerts, UK Over the ten years I’ve worked with Geoff I’ve witnessed many things: breakdancing on glass to impress a band (he didn’t realise there was broken glass until after, mind you); missing a show but congratulating the singer before discovering it was the guitar tech he was telling how good he had been... He’s one of a kind and someone I thoroughly enjoy working with, even if he is a dodgy Scouser!
IQ’s European Arena Report is now in its fourth year and looking back to that first report, it has been interesting to track some of the predictions that various venue managers made about how they perceived the business would be in 2012. What nobody saw coming was the global recession that has affected nearly all walks of life. But live entertainment appears to be one of the sectors that flourish in times of economic trouble and arena-sized shows in particular seem to be thriving as the public looks for the kind of big-name events to help them forget their troubles – at least for a few hours. That anecdotal evidence is backed up by the findings of this year’s European Arena Report, which, as you will discover on the following pages, reveals some intriguing trends such as non-music shows growing both in terms of attendance and ticket prices. Our report this 76-100% year polled 46 arenas in 16 countries throughout Europe, giving us a similar data field to that which 0-10% 17% we’ve used to compile the numbers in previous years. As usual, we have steered away from publishing figures on individual 25% venues so that we can concentrate on more widespread trends across the business, but we have spoken to a number of key executives to gauge their feelings on the arenas sector, while the comments of some venues provide invaluable insight into what is happening in certain markets. For the first time, we have also spoken to a number of non-European venues to compare the experience of international venues to our report’s findings, with some surprising market differences in certain countries... 51-75% Gordon Masson, Editor
Attendance and Capacity
in total capacity. In 2010, our survey respondents had total 26-50% Last year we reported that total attendance across the capacities of 609,634 but in 2011 that total increased by 29% arenas business had fallen by nearly 7%, with live music 1% to 617,030. While that growth was marginal, in a Proportion ticket sales recession it is nonetheless heartening to learn that arenas taking the brunt of the pain with a 16%of decline on the in-house office year before. But this year’svia stats point to abox recovery in are adding new space for fans – a fact that is borne out by 2011 across the arenas business with venues collectively the number of arenas who reported that they are planning revealing an 11% bounce-back in total attendance. further upgrades. But more on that later. In NorthAmerica, results were slightly different with Pollstar “That’s pleasantly surprising,” says Geoff Huckstep, chairman of the UK’s National Arenas Association. reporting overall falls in concert attendance, but increased box “Because of the general state of the economy across Europe, Comedy I would not have been surprised to hear that attendances 9.4% had fallen, so to learn that arenas have maintained and even improved their business is a great result.” Interestingly, while attendance at music events nudged Other up by 2.6%, customers visiting non-music events increased 13.9% by 6.7%, allowing Europe’s arenas to successfully increase Music footfall in their premises. “It looks like the overall increase 35.3% in attendance has come from non-music events,” says European Arenas Association managing director Linda Family Bull. “The results are rather surprising, given the economic 16.8% market everyone is operating in. But there’s an old adage that if people are depressed, they want to laugh, and that’s maybe what the increase in attendance is telling us.” Sport 24.6% Another key indicator of optimism that emerged through the data from our participating arenas was a slight increase
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The O2 Peninsula Square © Colin Philip
office receipts as ticket prices again crept skyward. Attendance declined by 8.7% among the top 50 global tours and by 2.6% for the top 100 tours in North America as promoters, led by Live Nation, staged fewer shows. The more robust returns in Europe, however, point to a number of strong touring shows which performed well on the continent, but didn’t necessarily work as well Stateside, if they actually crossed the Atlantic at all. The fact that European Arenas count for 14 of the top 50 arenas in terms of ticket sales (and 26 of the top 100) globally, speaks volumes for prudent venue management and the unrelenting demand for live entertainment throughout Europe. That assumption is underlined by the three most popular arenas worldwide now being located in Europe – The O2 arena again retained its crown as the top ticketseller, followed by Manchester Evening News Arena and the Sportspaleis Antwerpen. “We had a great 2011 – not as good as the year before, but a lot better than a lot of our colleagues elsewhere so we can’t complain,” says Sportpaleis chairman Jan Van Esbroeck. He explains that Belgium enjoys a thriving local music scene, allowing the arena to take international shows, but also fill seats for home-grown talent mostly unknown outside of the country. When it comes to capacity, Van Esbroeck’s arena is also making significant inroads. Each summer when the venue closes, refurbishment projects are carried out in an effort to maximise floor space. Last summer, Sportpaleis remodelled a balcony to add 1,000 seats inside the auditorium – which was built in 1933 – while in 2012 it will boost numbers by 1,700 and next year a further 2,000
Attendance 2010/11 Total attendance (all shows) 2011: 32,047,819 Total attendance (all shows) 2010: 28,829,277
Total attendance (music) 2011: 12,676,725 Total attendance (music) 2010: 12,358,300
seats will be fitted to take its total capacity to 23,000. The ambitious year-on-year expansion plan for the Sportpaleis is by no means an isolated case. Despite grim financial circumstances prevailing throughout Europe, half of all the arenas that took part in this year’s survey indicated that they are investing to upgrade their premises, suggesting collective long-term optimism across the sector. Among those planning building projects are the Amsterdam Arena (complete modernisation and an expansion of the main building); Palais Omnisports de Paris Bercy (year-long refurbishment project beginning in 2014); Royal Albert Hall in London (major building project at present); Arena Beograd (new curtaining system and refurbishment of the small hall); and the NIA in Birmingham (UK), which this year will start a £21million (€25.4m) redevelopment scheme. International economic turmoil is doubtless affecting the arenas sector, but with customer comfort now firmly established as a key factor in attracting the ticket buying public, there’s a steely determination among venue operators to press ahead with upgrade projects. “I anticipate there will be less arena new builds over the next five years as it will be difficult to attract funding, [so] venues may focus on refurbishing facilities to untap potential and develop new opportunities,” comments Guy Dunstan, general manager arenas at the NEC Group, which has a portfolio that includes the NIA and LG Arena. EAA figurehead Bull observes, “You have to remember with a lot of arenas that are due for refurbishment, those plans have been in the pipeline for a long, long time. It’s like the analogy of the tanker being slow to turn once its course is plotted. So arenas tend to be very bullish, knowing that by the time the investment is paid back, things will be ok.” She adds, “There has been a lot of municipal investment rather than private money flooding in to arena construction and refurbishment programmes and I don’t think local government gets enough plaudits for that sometimes.” Although times are uncertain globally when it comes to job security, the general health of the live entertainment industry appears to be bucking the trend when it comes to employment statistics. Factors such as investment in staff training might explain the move to more full-time employees, but whatever the reasons, a shift from 23% of staff being in that category in 2010 to 29% last year, suggests that a career in the arena sector is one of the safest ways to avoid the unemployment lines. “The arenas business went through a lot of pain a few years ago when it came to employment and perhaps people were more cautious,” says Bull. “The numbers might suggest that arenas have cut back on their part-time staff, as new employment laws don’t make it as attractive to have part-timers these days because you have to give them holiday pay, etc. Also, training for the likes of health and safety is expensive and that can also make it more attractive to have full-time staff.”
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Ticketing One of the most fascinating results to emerge from this year’s survey is the apparent strategy that many arenas are now adopting toward the ticketing business. Often referred to as the Holy Grail of live music – because tickets are ultimately where the majority of revenues are generated – it appears that increasing numbers of venues are determined to control their own destinies by developing their in-house box offices. When it comes to prices, the average stub for music events visiting European arenas increased marginally (1.2%) to €43.85 in 2011, compared to the previous year’s €43.33. While price hikes for concert tickets are a concern for the cash-strapped public, that minor climb is significantly below the rate of inflation across the continent and could just be a sign that prices have peaked and are set to plateau. However, while gig prices may be stagnating, nonmusic events seem to be catching up. In 2010, the average non-music ticket was priced at €32.41. Last year, the average price soared by 13.7% to €36.86 according to our survey respondents, prompting the question of whether promoters are now looking to bring family shows and the likes more in-line with concert ticket prices? “The fact that concert ticket prices have not increased reflects the economic climate,” says Huckstep. “There thankfully seems to have been a reality check within the business and people understand that times are hard.” And he believes that the rise in non-music tickets is not out of line. “13% is a relatively big step up, but previous pricing was probably at less than market rate for these shows. The likes of [comedians] Michael McIntyre and Lee Evans sold out straight away and were possibly undervalued. But even with the higher prices, these shows still represent very good value for money and I think that’s where people are drawing the line. Customers’ budgets are tight, but they are still treating themselves to what they want to see: if a couple can have a good night out for £100 (€120), including a show, meal and drinks, that’s perceived as good value. However, if an individual is being asked to spend £60-65 (€73-79) on a ticket before they’ve even stepped out of the door, that’s when we’re finding they will think twice.” Another emerging trend in the ticketing sector is the willingness of arenas to drive sales through in-house box office systems. More than 70% of the surveyed venues have their own in-house set-up and those arenas are funnelling more and more seat sales through those operations. The number of arenas selling more than 50% of all tickets inhouse has doubled in just one year: while 2010 saw 19% of venues selling such volume, last year that number was a whopping 38%. Indeed, the venues in our survey that said they sold less than 10% of their tickets through in-house box offices were down to 25% in 2011, compared to 41% just 12 months earlier. Underlining those tactics, almost one in five arenas (18%) told IQ they were looking to change their ticketing
Pavilhão Atlântico, Lisbon
arrangements going forward, suggesting that there could be some major battles heating up in the stubs business over the coming months and years. The reasons behind such moves are widespread. A spokesperson for the Salzburgarena in Austria reveals its ticketing strategy is changing so that it can try to take advantage of cross-border business. “We will work with a second ticket arrangement in Munich to better [develop] the German market and sell more tickets in Germany, because it is a very important market for Salzburg.” Elsewhere, London’s historic Royal Albert Hall is pressing ahead with plans to offer punters print-at-home ticketing services; Serbia’s Arena Beograd reports it is putting its ticketing business out to tender; and the Amsterdam Arena states it is planning to expand its ticketing arrangement “because of modernisation and expansion to the main building.” Bull believes at least some of these developments could be promoter-driven. She notes, “It’s a lot cheaper to set up an in-house box office now than it used to be, thanks to all the leaps forward in technology. It can also be a key element for smaller promoters – and certainly for the likes of sports and comedy, in particular – because a lot of them will insist on the arenas they use having in-house box offices.” NAA chairman Huckstep’s venue, the Capital FM Arena Nottingham in the UK, is another case in point. It will bring its ticketing wholly in-house this July, using Audience View’s system. “Our contract with See Tickets was coming to an end, so we took the opportunity to look
Ticket Prices 2010/11 Average ticket price (music) 2011: €43.85 Average ticket price (music) 2010: €43.33
Average ticket price (non-music) 2011: €36.86 Average ticket price (non-music) 2010: €32.41
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Green Day at o2 World Hamburg
at what was happening elsewhere and the idea of taking more control of the marketing of our tickets was why we decided to go with Audience View,” says Huckstep, who forecasts that 75% of its tickets will be sold online within the next two years. “CRM is certainly a buzzword, but for us it is more about developing a customer intelligence database that we can use to form our strategy for bars, catering, etc, as those revenue streams will become increasingly important for arenas,” continues Huckstep. “Also we have found when promoters release holds for shows, we are able to sell those in-house very quickly through social networking. The convenience factor of offering tickets to your customers 24/7 is crucial and that’s why we’re investing so much money – a minimum of £250,000 (€302,000) in the hardware alone – for our new ticketing services.” Although the growing dominance of in-house sales operations stands out, it shouldn’t be forgotten that powerhouses such as Ticketmaster often provide venues with those systems. But with so many punters now choosing to buy their tickets via the arena itself, the price of exclusivity deals could be set to climb as competitors try to carve out market share in the arenas business.
Proportion of ticket sales via in-house box office
Venue Usage At first glance, the split between different entertainment types might suggest 2011 was a relatively poor year when it comes to the number of arena tours out on the road in Europe. Music made up just 35.3% of events in European arenas last year and although that’s still by far the most dominant part of the business, it’s nothing short of a downward helical compared to 2010, when music accounted for 43.3% of all arena business. The cyclical nature of the live music business could lead observers to the conclusion that the big name acts just were not performing last year, but cross referencing these numbers with sales returns actually points to other entertainment forms gaining in popularity while the concerts business stagnated. Sport remains the second-biggest arena customer, taking up a 24.6% chunk of the calendar last year (2010, 24.2%), while family shows grew in numbers from a 15.7% share of event days in 2010 to 16.8% in 2011. But it was the comedy promoters who were laughing all the way to the bank. A few short years ago the prospect of standup comedians performing to arena-sized audiences would have been, well, comical. In 2011, comedy shows accounted for 9.4% of all events at European arenas – almost one in ten of everything throughout the year. Put in context, in IQ’s European Arena Report 2009, comedy accounted for just 3% of events during 2008. The fact those tours have tripled in terms of overall share in just four years speaks volumes. “The arena is almost exclusively used for music, but we introduced comedy for the first time in 2011 and it was a huge hit,” reveals Van Esbroeke at Sportpaleis Antwerpen. “We had one local comedian brave enough to try with one show, but he sold-out five nights and another did four, so we’ve definitely broken the ice with that and we’ll be programming a lot more comedy in the future, probably not this year, but definitely in 2013.” Others are also hoping that stand-up will continue to develop, as pressure on the traditional concert scene leaves venues scrambling to fill dates with alternative forms of entertainment. “It will always be a struggle if the big arena acts just aren’t out on tour,” comments Dan Roberts of the Motorpoint Arena Cardiff. “Hopefully, the increase in comedy runs will hold the figures together.”
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What are the first and second most important factors affecting the festival industry currently? First most important
Second most important 10 5
Licen g regulatisin on
In consoliddustry ation
Competi tio artist tonufor rs
Producti on costs
Com other vepetition from nues/are nas
State economof y Artist fe ticket pries/ ce
A lack o f suit headlinaeble rs
Business Factors One of the most telling segments in our annual arenas’ health check is our question to venue managers regarding the issues that keep them awake at night. Unsurprisingly, one of the biggest worries among our survey participants remains artists fees/ticket prices – the number one
concern since we started the survey four years ago. But leapfrogging that category this year among European venues is the economy, which didn’t even feature in our first report, way back when governments were still solvent and the term ‘banker’ was not an insult. Remember that? “We are budgeting and predicting to do better in 2012 than in 2011, however the state of the economy will affect bar-spend and ticket-sales; but overall we will have more events,” says Laura Yeats of the 8,500-capacity Press & Journal Arena in Aberdeen, Scotland. “We are a small venue and there are larger, newer venues coming on stream, so people will be looking for a higher quality experience.” Looking back to 2011, the move to host more nonmusic productions is perhaps a result of the next major factor identified by those who completed our poll. ‘A lack of suitable headliners’ once again figured strongly, notably in the most established live music markets of the UK, Germany and the Netherlands. Kai Müller, senior event manager at o2 World Hamburg, believes that 2012 will see less international acts playing arenas, but more domestic acts stepping up to arena-level. Looking to the future, Müller thinks such market shifts will result in venues introducing more flexible seating variants. “Arenas will create more events [within the event], like after-show parties and pre-concert parties to offer more value to the customer,” he adds.
VIP and Sponsorship
Although a global tightening of purse strings has resulted in sponsorship opportunities and corporate deals becoming less prevalent, some venue managers are relishing the challenge of devising new strategies to maximise revenue streams. “The industry must consolidate different aspects [that are] complementary to the show,” says Jorge Vinha da Silva, general manager at the Pavilhão Atlântico in Portugal, who cites naming rights deals and “new forms of commitments with brands” as ways to bolster revenues. He is banking on getting punters to stay longer in the proximity of the venue to help increase spending on merchandising and food and beverages – a feat he thinks is achievable through, “value-added services such as VIP seats, clubs, brand experiences inside the venue [and integrating] social media as a vehicle to [forge closer] bonds with consumers.” Those sentiments are echoed further north in the continent, where Edgars Buncis at the Arena Riga in Latvia states, “Arenas will be forced to create leisure and food court possibilities to try to get more income, as there is less and less margin on regular operations.” Buncis reveals Arena Riga is even considering reducing capacity to devote more space to the higher margin VIP sector: “We are evaluating possibilities to potentially kill seats and create ‘skyboxes’.” Away from the headline-grabbing naming rights deals, the temptation of premium-priced packages lured more and more venues to develop their high-end facilities during 2011, while others report similar moves in the months
ahead. Müller at o2 World is typical. “[We are] opening a new VIP entrance and building with hospitality areas in spring 2012,” he says. Others exploiting opportunities among corporate and well-heeled fans are Helsinki’s Hartwall Areena (construction of a new kitchen and restaurant in the VIP area); Salzburgarena (new lounges offering catering and VIP packages); Frankfurt’s Kultur und Kongresszentrum Jahrhunderthalle (new VIP lounge); Gran Teatro Geox in Padova, Italy (VIP areas and backstage access); the Royal Albert Hall in London (additional VIP facilities); and Arena Leipzig (VIP ticketing and packages for its new Backstage Club). Dunstan underlines the heightened focus on VIP facilities, as margins squeezed elsewhere in the business put arena management under pressure. “Growing our hospitality business, Amplify, is a key strategic initiative,” says Dunstan. “This will include developing more value-added packages as well as premium packages, membership options and new facilities through our redevelopment of the NIA.” He discloses that more non-show-related revenue activity in terms of sponsorship, partnerships and hospitality/club-seat activity is also being reviewed by NEC Group. While the growth of VIP boxes and hospitality was a continuing trend in 2011, naming rights deals were few and far between, and sponsorship of secondary arena areas became a trickier proposition as corporate marketing budgets were slashed not just in Europe, but globally. However, the opportunity to exploit the positive
International Arenas Optimism amongst arena management appears to be global. The 19,000-capacity Coca-Cola dome in Johannesburg expects to stage up to 45 events this year (39 in 2011) as the market recovers and more live music tours visit South Africa. “We are slowly coming out of the recession and companies can see there is a market to launch new and entertaining events,” reports the venue’s commercial manager Warren Green. Live entertainment accounted for 36% of events last year and Green anticipates that will increase to about 42% in 2012, but like his compatriots in Europe, the arena is hoping to cast its net wider to attract more clients. “The perception is that the Coca-Cola dome is a venue that hosts exhibitions and concerts. [So we] need to educate companies that we can do,” adds Green, citing additional challenges such as a lack of reputable concert promoters, changes in the exchange rate and belt tightening amongst corporate sponsors. Further south, Stuart Clumpas, co-owner of Auckland’s Vector Arena, hones in on the flourishing demand for comedy in Europe as an alien concept. “Pop here is very strong, but there aren’t any Kiwi acts at arena level, so it’s all international acts we host – music accounts for about 70% of all shows at the arena.” Certain family shows
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perform extraordinarily well, mind you: Vector co-owner Bruce McTaggart was involved in the creation of Walking With Dinosaurs which sold 90,000 tickets in Auckland, making it the show’s biggest market globally. Enviously looking at European artist fees, Clumpas adds, “The biggest problem we face is exorbitant ticket prices: Dolly Parton is the equivalent of £200 (€240) – it was £60 (€72) in Glasgow. We always had to pay a premium to get acts to visit, but New Zealand is no farther away from Los Angeles as London, so those days should be over.” Paul Sergeant, general manager of Allphones Arena in Sydney, enjoyed a strong 2011, although attendance probably fell short of the 11% growth in Europe. “The economic climate is the same no matter what side of the planet you’re on at the moment,” says Sergeant. “Music ticket prices held their own here and family shows were similarly cautious, so prices may have increased a little, but nothing like the 13% you’ve seen in Europe.” Similar to New Zealand, Sergeant says comedy shows are not at arena-level yet, but monitoring what is happening with stand-up in Europe, he adds, “There is potential opportunity with comedy in the future.”
Sport palais Antwerpen
vibes associated with a shiny new arena did tempt a number of big deals. In Scotland, a new £125million (€151m) arena under construction alongside the SECC will be called the Scottish Hydro Arena after the energy supplier agreed a ten-year deal worth £15m (€18m). The 12,000-seater building is due to open next year. Also in the UK, automobile supermarket Motorpoint invested a “seven-figure sum” to secure a five-year deal for the 7,500-capacity Cardiff International Arena. Now known as the Motorpoint Arena Cardiff, the contract followed the same brand inking a similar deal for Sheffield Arena (Motorpoint Arena Sheffield) in August 2010. In the Netherlands, the new 17,000-capacity Ziggo Dome will open in June 2012 and takes its name from the country’s largest cable TV and broadband supplier. EAA head Bull admits sponsorship has become vitally important to the venues sector in recent years and points to clever deals such as the LG Arena and the state-of-theart technological support it gets from its partnership with the electronics giant as an additional benefit to finding the right benefactor. “Sponsors have seen some huge deals like O2 securing naming rights and how they have leveraged that and gone forward. But in these cash-strapped times, I definitely think there are some bargains to be had at the moment for sponsors in the arenas market.” Despite the vast strides forward made across the arenas sector, new buildings are not welcomed by all, as competition from other venues and the scramble for artist tours were also prominent business factors flagged up across the continent in our survey. Martin Ingham at the Capital FM Arena Nottingham notes, “Leeds Arena will add a new dynamic to the UK Arena market, the result of which may affect most of the other larger venues, with the exception of The O2 [arena].” But slightly further north at the SECC, head of concerts and events sales Allan Snedden sums up the bullish nature of the arenas business. “Our confidence is underlined by the fact that we are building a new arena,” says Snedden. “Providing that the quality of product is maintained and all areas of pricing remain sensible and in tune with market forces, the sector can sustain the growth of recent years. There is no doubt that margins will be under pressure and ancillary spend will be harder to achieve, but nobody said it was going to be easy.”
Conclusion All in all, Europe’s arenas enjoyed a solid year despite a challenging financial environment during 2011, and it could be argued that, given the economic black hole in which many countries find themselves, governments could do well to follow the lead of the venues market – invest when the chips are down to ensure the future health of the business when normality returns. The emergence of live music during the last decade as the primary source for artists’ income has also seen managers, lawyers and accountants trying to squeeze every last penny out of promoters and venues, with 80/20 deals becoming commonplace and 90/10 splits being cautiously whispered about. Despite such pressures, the arenas business continues to thrive and with a slew of new stateof-the-art halls raising the bar for both performers and their audience, existing venues across Europe have initiated ambitious refurbishment plans and invested millions of Euros to deliver comfortable, high-spec spaces for punters to enjoy their fill of live entertainment. That ongoing commitment to improving buildings has undoubtedly helped the European arenas market become the envy of the world – and a must-visit circuit for international artists looking to take their talent on the road. The achievement of increasing total attendance by 11% cannot be understated. Unemployment figures are rising throughout the continent and there are very few households that are not cutting back on luxuries during this prolonged recession. But, if anything, the public desire for live entertainment has increased and that is attributable in no small part to the foresight of arena management collectively putting its money where its mouth is. The fact that venues are now ramping up their VIP offers, improving food and beverage facilities and taking more control of ticketing is another indication of the savvy, longterm strategic thinking prevalent throughout the business, which should keep the sector buoyant for years to come.
Participating Arenas Ahoy Rotterdam (NL), Amsterdam Arena (NL), Ancienne Belgique (BE), Antwerps Sportpaleis (BE), Arena Beograd (RS), Arena Leipzig (DE), Arena Riga (LV), Capital FM Arena Nottingham (UK), CEZ ARENA (CZ), Earls Court & Olympia (UK), Echo Arena Liverpool (UK), Gran Teatro GEOX (IT), Hallenstadion Zürich (CH), Hanns-Martin-Schleyer-Halle (DE), Hartwall-Areena (FI), Kultur-und Kongresszentrum Jahrhunderthalle (DE), LG Arena (UK), Lotto Arena (BE), Malmö Arena (SE), Mediolanum Forum (IT), Metro Radio Arena (UK), Motorpoint Arena Cardiff (UK),
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Motorpoint Arena Sheffield (UK), O2 arena Prague (CZ), o2 World Hamburg (DE), Odyssey Arena (UK), Olympic Hall Munich (DE), Palais Omnisports de Paris Bercy (FR), Palalottomatica (IT), Palau Sant Jordi (ES), Pavilhão Atlântico (PT), Porsche-Arena (DE), Press & Journal Arena (UK), Rittal Arena Wetzlar (DE), Royal Albert Hall (UK), Salzburgarena (AT), SAP Arena (DE), SECC (UK), Stechert Arena (DE), The NIA (UK), The O2 arena (UK), The O2 Dublin (IE), Tipsport arena (CZ), Wembley Arena (UK), Westfalenhallen Dortmund (DE), Westpoint Arena (UK).
Games With Frontiers The eyes of the world will be on London this summer as the Olympic Games visit the city for the third time. But with such a mammoth event rolling into the UK, the repercussions for live music are already being felt. Christopher Austin investigates…
he 2012 Olympic Games will not
only give British athletes a chance to shine on home turf in front of an estimated international audience of 4 billion, it will also place UK venues, the achievements of many of the live music industry’s senior figures and a number of home-grown artists firmly in the spotlight. But is it really a good thing for the live music industry? With potentially hundreds of thousands of extra people on the streets of London this summer, a vast security operation in place, plus travel restrictions that include road closures and £200 (€240) fines for motorists or cyclists using ‘game lanes’, only the most determined fans will brave their way to a gig – and that’s if they can find one. Many of London’s leading venues will be closed to concerts, busy either hosting Olympic events or being used as a base for a corporation or country during the Games, with the result that this summer looks set to be a particularly dry one for live music in Britain’s capital. To an extent that is mitigated by the live music industry’s summer focus shift from town to country for the festival season. But this year,
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Glastonbury’s gates are firmly closed. Meanwhile, some festival organisers fear that the distraction of the Olympics and the array of free outdoor live music on offer could impact negatively on ticket sales, hence other events such as the Big Chill have announced a hiatus for 2012. “I looked long and hard late last year at moving the date so it didn’t clash with the Olympics,” explains Melvin Benn, MD of Festival Republic. “Sadly, the artist availability and confirmations we were achieving led me to conclude that I couldn’t risk going ahead with the event as an outdoor event this year. Efforts are being made to look to bring a smaller event indoors this year with the anticipation of The Big Chill being back outdoors in 2013.” Further complicating the market for festival promoters is the fact that gratis outdoor gigs during the summer months will not be in short supply. BBC Radio 1’s Hackney Weekend will offer 100,000 people the opportunity to see the likes of Leona Lewis, Florence and The Machine, Plan B and Tinie Tempah for free. Then there’s London Live, which is
organised jointly by Live Nation, Mayor of London Boris Johnson, The Royal Parks and the London borough of Tower Hamlets. It will take place at Hyde Park and Victoria Park from 27 July to 12 August, before Trafalgar Square takes over for the Paralympic Games. London Live will enable hundreds of thousands of people to watch the Games on big screens in a party atmosphere in central London. They will also be able to watch numerous live acts for free. At this stage it is very difficult to tell quite what the longand short-term effect of the Olympics will be on the live music industry. Indeed, the jury is still out as to whether the UK will really see a sudden influx of tourists during the summer. According to the UK tourist authority, VisitBritain, around 31 million people will descend on the UK in 2012, which is identical to the number of tourists who visited Blighty in 2011. It seems, from experience, that the Olympic Games deters and lures tourists in equal numbers. Solo Agency founder and Isle of Wight Festival promoter John Giddings is not convinced there will be an influx of cashrich tourists aching for musical entertainment after a day of watching sporting endeavours. “They will be tired at the end of the day, want to go and have dinner and go to bed before they watch [the Olympics] again the next day,” says Giddings. “Leading acts like Madonna or the Rolling Stones will do ok, but it will harm the mid-range and smaller shows. Who wants to trek from north to south London when it’s going to be really hard? I have no clue what is going to happen, but I know people are nervous about it because there is a serious economic recession happening even before the Olympics start.” Giddings is also furious that Radio 1’s Hackney Weekend coincides with his festival, especially considering that it is a free event and that the only return the artists involved will receive will be publicity. “It pisses me off because the BBC uses my licence fee money to put bands on stage without paying them a penny when I pay them millions of pounds. The average person doesn’t realise that. That kind of event devalues everything we do,” says Giddings.
If the [Hyde Park] licence has any new conditions like reducing the noise level, capacity or number of events, not only do we lose our regular concerts but Olympic events too.
– John Probyn, Live Nation
Live Nation chief operating officer John Probyn admits it took a while for him to be convinced Live Nation should be involved in London Live. He first met with the Greater London Authority (GLA) around two years ago and subsequent meetings with the BBC and the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) followed. “Slowly but surely we realised this was a fantastic opportunity.
The real turning point for me was when I realised that the average person on the street is going to get nowhere near the Olympics,” says Probyn. He talked to the Live Nation team involved in a similar project during the Canadian Winter Olympics and became increasingly convinced that it was the right thing to do. “We agreed that we would take the risk, we would fund the free dates and take the sponsorship,” he reveals. Along with 16 days of free entertainment, Hyde Park will host paid-for celebration concerts tied to the Olympic Games opening ceremony on 27 July and the closing ceremony on 12 August. Tabloid newspaper speculation is rife that the line-up at the concerts will include Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones and Madonna. There are even rumours that Led Zeppelin and the Spice Girls have been asked to reform. For the time being though, Probyn is remaining tight-lipped. The capacity for the ceremonial concerts is 80,000, while the intermediate 16 free days will be limited to 50,000. But Live Nation is estimating that people will stay at the free events for approximately two or three hours and the audience will churn at Hyde Park 2.5 times per day, meaning the footfall will be around 125,000. According to Probyn, the set-up on the free days will involve a mixture of seven giant screens showing different sporting events; areas providing the opportunity to attempt sports; a number of live music stages plus the kind of sponsorship activity that he says you “would expect to find at an event like Glastonbury”. “There will be two periods during the days when the screens will go quiet and we will put live music on the main stage, but there will also be other areas where we will put music on all day. It will be a great opportunity to showcase new music,” says Probyn. He expects around ten acts a day to perform, “everyone from stadium acts to bands you have never heard of” and has seen no shortage of interest from artist managers and agents. “We found ourselves in unknown territory because there is no fee for the artists, so we will have to copy the radio station model. But we have found that the record companies and even the agents are coming to us asking what kind of artists we want,” adds Probyn. As if staging weeks of consecutive events at three key London locations is not enough of a logistical feat in itself, coordinating them with the Olympics has presented Live Nation with a hugely complex security issue and Probyn admits that security represents 60% of the entire London Live budget. “The regime is the same as at Olympic Park – it is airport-style security and at Hyde Park alone you have 18 consecutive days of shows. We have worked alongside the Metropolitan Police and Home Office and learnt an awful lot,” he says. Showsec is handling all security for the events and Probyn reports that everything is now signed off and in place. But there remains a further hurdle; Westminster Council’s new proposal to impose further sound restrictions on events in Hyde Park. Probyn says Live Nation’s licence has gone to review and a decision will be made in mid-February. Everything now hangs in the balance. “If the licence has any new conditions like reducing the noise level, capacity or
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London Live, Hyde Park (artist’s impression)
We are already established as a leading music venue, the Olympics gives us a great opportunity to do the same on a sporting level.
– Sally Davies, The O2 arena
number of events, not only do we lose our regular concerts but Olympic events too,” he says. Should an agreement be found, the 80,000-strong Hyde Park audience during the ceremonies will be a tiny fraction of the many billions tuning in around the world. There is no doubt that it represents a great opportunity to showcase British creative talent and the events appear to be in good hands. Oscar-winning film director Danny Boyle has been appointed artistic director of the opening ceremony and hired Karl Hyde and Rick Smith, aka Underworld, as musical directors. Meanwhile, Take That’s creative director Kim Gavin is artistic director for the closing ceremonies of both the Olympic and Paralympic Games. He is working alongside a team that includes costume designer Es Devlin and composer David Arnold. We can also rest assured that the production design will be in good hands with Mark Fisher, the man who has designed every U2 tour since 1992 and every Rolling Stones tour from 1989 onwards, in the driving seat. Creatively responsible for all the music in the three-hour opening show, Rick Smith is unable to disclose too much of what Underworld are working on but admits that the workload has been “pretty brutal” since they began focusing on it while on tour in June last year. “The project is so enormous it is devouring time and is so challenging we have no option but to embrace it completely. The stimulating thing is it will involve everything from seasoned professional performers to huge numbers of the Great British public,” says Smith. When riots struck London last summer, Smith was on tour in Japan watching events unfold. It convinced him of the job that needed to be done back home. “It was a revelation to see how people from other countries reacted to what they were represented with in the media. To us it looked disturbing, but it seemed relatively contained.
To them it seemed like the whole country was in flames and society in Britain was falling apart. That experience heightened something in me – a desire to raise the bar in terms of what I want to help Danny [Boyle] present to the world. Just for three hours, it would be great to help people forget about any problems and accent the positive about Britain and our culture,” says Smith. The O2 events director Sally Davies is convinced the Olympic Games is a great opportunity, not least for the live music community. “Tourism in London will increase exponentially, and as a result many more people will come to our venues and give us a chance to showcase what we are good at,” says Davies. During the Olympics, The O2 arena will be home to sports including gymnastics and basketball and closed to everything but LOCOG activity between 10 June and 12 September. Brand restrictions mean that venues must adhere to Clean Venue Guidelines that state that “commercially branded marketing materials, signage and recognition for non-London 2012 sponsors should be physically covered”. In the case of The O2 arena, that means the venue will be rebranded North Greenwich Arena during the Games. Regardless of the name change, Davies is adamant that being involved in the Olympics will provide great exposure, with the venue’s “iconic” exterior meaning it will be easily identifiable. “The fact 5 billion people will be looking at our venue holding the Olympics can only be a positive thing,” she says. “We are already established as a leading music venue, the Olympics gives us a great opportunity to do the same on a sporting level.” While The O2 arena is in Olympic mode, the remainder of The O2 site will be open for business as usual including the venues IndigO2 and Proud2. But just how much music will be scheduled remains to be seen. Music will certainly be in short supply at Wembley Arena, which is being taken over by LOCOG from 1 May until the end of August. “We were surprised that LOCOG wanted four months of the year,” says Wembley general manager John Drury. “We would have liked to have had May because we have regular events during the month.” But Wembley Arena will be able to keep its name throughout the Olympic activity and Drury is sure the venue will profit from its raised profile. “We will benefit from the venue being out there and seen to be a world-class Olympic venue – that’s important after the reopening we had following the £36m (€43m) refit in 2006.
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It rubber stamps that for us in many ways.” Tasked with making sure the Olympics makes a lasting and tangible impact is Peter Tudor of the Olympic Park Legacy Company. And with six of the eight permanent Olympic venues already having post-Olympic operators in place, he appears to be doing a pretty good job. The brand new 7,500-capacity Multi-Use Arena, London’s third biggest indoor venue, is to be operated by Greenwich Leisure Limited from 2013. “The arena, which [will be used for] handball throughout the games, can host all sorts of sports after the Games and can be used as a concert venue,” notes Tudor. “We are busy exploring opportunities for that at the moment. It is not as big as Wembley or The O2 arena, but bigger than Hammersmith or Brixton so it fits neatly into the range of London venues.” Meanwhile, the 60,000-capacity Olympic Stadium remains up for grabs. An expression-of-interest submission period ended on 30 January and a shortlist is currently being drawn up. Although the Olympics will expand London’s live music map, during the summer itself the city’s venues will be all but redundant. Camden’s Roundhouse will not be tied into the Olympics, but nevertheless, its musical offerings will be sharply reduced, as head of music Dave Gaydon explains, the venue has received virtually no enquiries from promoters or artist managers about availability during the Olympic period. “We keep getting it drilled into us by Camden Council and the police that it is going to be very hard to get anywhere [during the Games], which was one of the factors behind us not trying to book any gigs,” he says. As a result, Gaydon and his team have been looking to persuade a corporation or country’s representative body to hire the venue for the Olympic period. One venue that has already secured business from a visiting country is Alexandra Palace and as a result the venue will host musical activity throughout the Games. “Each country comes over and creates their own ‘cultural house’ during the Olympics so we pitched for about 13 months to get the Dutch house, because it is known as one of the biggest and most extravagant,” says the venue’s marketing manager Charlotte Johnson. The Holland Heineken House will be open for 19 days with around 7,000 people expected per day. Each night there will be a different artist or DJ taking to the stage. Nobody knows exactly what impact the Olympic Games
The BBC uses my licence fee money to put bands on stage without paying them a penny when I pay them millions of pounds. That kind of event devalues everything we do.
– John Giddings, Isle of Wight Festival
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The Roundhouse © Robert Dunlop
will have on live music, but one thing is certain, everyone involved is giving it their all. “Having the Olympics in our back garden is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” enthuses Probyn. “Even when all the signs were telling me not to get involved and people here in the office were coming up to me and saying ‘why are we doing this?’, I thought we should be doing it. If we don’t, nobody else will.” Meanwhile, Tudor is convinced the Olympic ceremonies will deliver a winning performance from the UK live music business. “We have this great showcase to demonstrate what we can do. Look at the people involved in the ceremonies and helping to stage the Games. It illustrates the brilliance of the UK event industry, particularly the live music industry.”
LONDON LIVE – THE SUPPLIERS HYDE PARK – VICTORIA PARK – TRAFALGAR SQUARE
STAGING Stageco/Star Events Group LIGHTING: PRG AUDIO Brit Row/SAS VIDEO Ogle Hog SECURITY Showsec
Are the Boom Times Over Down Under? An insatiable hunger for international acts and an abundance of festivals has made the business of live Down Under bigger than ever. But many predict that something has to give, and cracks are already appearing. Lars Brandle reports. 66 | IQ Magazine March 2012
Australia & New Zealand
Introduction Per capita, Australia is “easily the biggest live market in the world,” says veteran promoter Michael Chugg, who this year has Florence & The Machine; Tim McGraw & Faith Hill; and Roger Daltrey on the slate. “Over the last couple of years,” says Chugg, “touring has never been stronger.” Australia’s live music industry is a sophisticated space occupied by ultra-competitive booking agents and promoters, and a network of good quality venues. The ‘big five’ promoters are an experienced bunch, comprising Michael Gudinski’s Frontier Touring, Michael Coppel Presents, Paul Dainty’s Dainty Group and Andrew McManus Presents in Melbourne, and Michael Chugg Entertainment in Sydney. The biggest venues operator is AEG Ogden, a JV
between the Australian-based Ogden IFC and AEG. Based in Brisbane, AEG Ogden manages a growing portfolio of venues throughout Asia Pacific including Sydney’s Allphones Arena (formerly Acer Arena), which ranked No. 13 in the world by number of tickets sold (500,395), and the Brisbane Entertainment Centre, which placed one position behind it (491,822), according to Pollstar’s Arenas chart for 2011. In the frantic festivals space, the dominance of Ken West’s Big Day Out is being challenged by AJ Maddah’s Soundwave brand, while a string of promoters have sizeable businesses of their own. But unless you have deep pockets, or you’re a genius with a fine product and team, best walk away because it’s a bloodbath out there.
The Market Two nations with very different economic realities... is about NZ$90 (€55). Among the most expensive tickets seen of late were Roger Waters’ The Wall arena shows promoted by Coppel with tickets ranging from AUD$99 (€80) to AUD$399 (€320). Across the Tasman, the top price was NZ$399 (€250). From a ticket sales perspective, the hottest international arena tour of the year was Usher, followed by Michael Bublé, Alan Jackson, Neil Diamond, Justin Bieber, Katy Perry and Dolly Parton. On the local front, Cold Chisel’s Light The Nitro comeback tour was one of the 2011’s biggest, selling almost 300,000 across 36 Australasian dates. “There still seems to be a fair bit of a tour ‘bidding war’ going on with Australian promoters,” notes Sydney Entertainment Centre GM Steve Romer. “This tends to drive the artist guarantee upwards, and obviously this negatively affects ticket prices, as was the case in late 2010.” Rock and pop are traditionally the genres of choice Down Under, but country music has been growing in profile and 2011 saw a number of concerts by international country stars, particularly in Brisbane, where Alan Jackson and Dolly Parton performed three shows each, homegrown star Keith Urban played two shows, while Tim McGraw & Faith Hill have sold out three March shows in the city.
Iron Maiden at Acer Arena
Australia’s economy escaped the worst ravages of the global financial crisis thanks, in part, to firm banking regulations and a booming resources sector. Australians are relatively flush at the moment and the dollar is flying high against its US counterpart so it’s no surprise that spend on entertainment has been sky-high. To service demand, there’s been a surge in the number of shows, festival brands and promoters appearing on the scene in the past five years. “The live business is incredibly healthy,” says Brett Murrihy, CEO of Sydney-based booking agency Artist Voice. “The problem has been that our economy has been so buoyant that there is now an over-saturation of touring bands and festivals in our market.” “We’re now seeing tightening in the market, definitely in relation to tours that have very high premium-ticket prices,” explains Paul Dainty. “If you see a AUD$300 (€240) ticket it’s getting much tougher to get those away. If your second price is AUD$150-$170 (€120-€140), people are targeting those.” It’s a different story in New Zealand. “I’m gobsmacked at how expensive tickets in Australia are. NZ cannot and never has been able to charge the same amount for tickets,” says Vector Arena co-owner Stuart Clumpas, who reckons the sweet spot
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Australia & New Zealand
Venues Smaller Oz venues struggling, while NZ reels from earthquake impact... Whilst Australia is the size of the continental US, its population of 22.7million is roughly the equivalent of greater Los Angeles, spread across five major state capitals and a limited number of secondary, provincial markets. AEG Ogden is spreading its influence west, with the venues giant taking on the new 15,500-capacity Perth Arena, set to open later this year. Perth is the only major city on the west coast, but it boasts a fast-growing population of 1.8m and a healthy economy driven by mining and exports. In the past, notes AEG Ogden executive director Rod Pilbeam, many tours have avoided the transcontinental haul to Perth. However, the strength of the economy has helped Perth ascend the touring ladder. The city also has extensive flight and shipping connections withAsia, making it a valuable – and viable – touring leg. One arena with question marks hovering over it is the Sydney Entertainment Centre (SEC), the cross-town rival to the Allphones Arena. The 13,000-capacity SEC was caught up in the downfall of Kevin Jacobsen’s Arena Management business in 2009 and is now operated by Darling Harbour Convention & Exhibition. The industry is monitoring a proposed redevelopment of the SEC and the broader Darling Harbour precinct. It’s business as usual, but how long this key venue might be out of action while the refurb takes place remains unclear. Other
(Folk,R&B/Soul, Dance/Electronica, World music)
Genre split of live music staged at Australian venues Source: Ernst & Young
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At the other end of the scale, Australia’s pub-rock circuit is typically solid. But a handful of Sydney’s iconic grassroots venues are on the block or have changed hands. “It’s a tough industry,” says Dan Rule, co-owner of the legendary Annandale Hotel. “In Sydney, the days of 50-100 [capacities] are very much numbered.” The Annandale was briefly put up for sale in 2011, but its operators are now trying to wipe its debts with a novel ‘buy a brick’ campaign.
I’m gobsmacked at how expensive tickets in Australia are. NZ cannot and never has been able to charge the same amount for tickets.
- Stuart Clumpas, Vector Arena Sydney’s troubles haven’t concerned the Hi-Fi Group, which is about to open its first venue on the site of the 1,400cap Forum, giving it a footprint in each of the three major cities – an achievement no other small – to medium-sized venue operator in Australia can claim. “Capacity is the key,” explains Hi-Fi founder Luke O’Sullivan. “It’s really hard to make it work at the 300- to 500-capacity mark because most internationals can’t do it at that level; it’s not viable. And most headline domestics need more tickets to sell to make it worth their while.” Located in the picturesque setting of Luna Park, Big Top Sydney aims to fill the void for medium-sized venues in the city and can provide flexible configurations of up to 2,950-capacity. In addition to hosting the likes of the Australian MTV Awards, Big Top has also seen shows by the likes of Eels, Funeral For A Friend, The Darkness, Scissor Sisters, INXS, Pendulum, Lily Allen, My Chemical Romance, Pixies, Queens of the Stone Age, Madness, Slayer and The Cult, to name but a few. New Zealand is a different story, with earthquakes in Christchurch contributing to a “challenging year” not just for the city “but for the industry nationally,” explains Turlough Carolan, business development manager at venues operator Vbase. The disaster in the South Island hit three Vbase venues – AMI Stadium, Christchurch Convention Centre and Christchurch Town Hall – and a number of international bookings were subsequently cancelled, forcing Vbase to slash its workforce. The company’s CBS Canterbury Arena came through unscathed and Carolan reports, “We are now seeing more events coming into the arena that traditionally wouldn’t have come, as we’re the only venue in Christchurch that can cater for 1,000-plus pax events. The public’s appetite for good quality international acts, priced and marketed appropriately, is unwavering and probably even more so now in Christchurch. People are somewhat starved of goodquality international acts.”
Australia & New Zealand
Finance NZ comes of age, but Oz festivals falter A new study into the economic impact of live music in Australia found that the business generated AUD$1.21billion (€970m), a figure that includes ticket sales and revenue from food and drink. The report, (collated by Ernst & Young and commissioned by APRA/AMCOS) found that Australia’s live music sector generated total profits and wages of AUD$652m (€529m) and supported close to 15,000 full-time jobs. Trade body Live Performance Australia’s separate Ticket Attendance & Revenue Survey found live entertainment ticketing revenue in 2010 grew 22.6% to AUD$1.3bn (€1.05bn). LPA’s director of policy & programs Suzanne Daley says there’s anecdotal evidence that demand for live music “softened” during 2011. “Hot events are still selling extremely well, but the market is quite competitive with more events being presented than a decade ago,” notes Daley. A string of festivals have already disappeared including Funk N Grooves and Reggae fest Raggamuffin which will “take a break” in 2012. Canberra’s long-running Stonefest reconfigured due to slow ticket sales; the ‘80s-themed Rewind
failed to launch; and Chugg’s company called off the Great Southern Blues Festival citing “unsatisfactory” ticket sales. But it’s not just festivals feeling the pain. Madeleine Peyroux’s tour this March was cancelled by promoter Frontier, who blamed “poor ticket sales”. “People still want to see music. The issue is there is so much music,” says Jaddan Comerford, co-founder of The Staple Group, which helmed the No Sleep ‘Til festival run in December 2010. Those shows sold 40,000 tickets across six dates, but took a break in 2011. “People’s expectations are out of whack. We experienced a year or two of sales being off the chart, now they’re back to normal. We all just need to chill out, realise that period was abnormal and now it’s back to business.” Vector Arena’s Clumpas likes what he sees in New Zealand. “If we’re 18, big brother Australia is 21,” explains Clumpas. “We’re close family but NZ is getting its own personality and needs to do its own thing. It’ll work with its big brother when it needs to, and go on a tangent when it needs to: that’s what we’re going to see in the next five or ten years.”
Ticketing Changing market offers opportunities for tech-led operations take on what it described as a “cosy duopoly in ticketing in Australia.” Alongside Foxtix in the News Ticketing division is digital brand, Moshtix, which boasts about 5-7% of the ticketing market with clients including a string of outdoor events. “We are seeing a strong shift toward mobile,” says Ticketek MD Cameron Hoy. The four Foo Fighters dates Ticketek worked on reported that 10% of all ticket sales (approx 15,000) were driven by cellphones. Moshtix claims mobile sales increased 1,371% in the year since it relaunched in 2010. “Australians are [using their mobiles for] banking, participating in online auctions and now have embraced the concept of mobile ticketing,” explains News Ticketing CEO Adam McArthur. Promoter Dainty observes, “[Mobile ticketing] is in its infancy. In a year from now, it’ll be a hot, hot topic.” André Rieu performing at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane
Australia is home to 20-30 ticketing firms, many of them miniscule compared with the big two, Ticketmaster and Ticketek, which command roughly 35-40% of the market each. Ticketing deals tie many large Australian venues to a ticketing company, typically one of the big two. Allphones Arena, for example, has a deal with Ticketek, while the SEC uses Ticketmaster. Successful ticket partners typically pay an upfront sum of hundreds of thousands of dollars to secure an exclusive arrangement. The ticketing firm amortises that fee over the lifetime of the contract, usually three to five years. New competitors must wait for contracts to come up for tender, or look elsewhere. In 2010, Rupert Murdoch’s News Limited launched ticketing service Foxtix, as part of an aggressive strategy to
Australia & New Zealand
Festivals Over the past ten years, the festivals circuit has exploded Down Under but they have grown too numerous and organisers are left chasing too few headliners which means prices for talent – and tickets – have reached ridiculous highs. Big Day Out (BDO) promoter Ken West – who recently split with fellow founder Vivian Lees – gave an insight into bidding wars when he revealed he’d offered Eminem AUD$6m (€4.8m), but it wasn’t enough. Though the figure is unsubstantiated, West claims Eminem made AUD$15m (€12m) from three shows for Dainty. “If you look at the summer schedule, there’s a lot of new festivals,” notes Paul Piticco, co-promoter of Splendour in the Grass, which was headlined by Coldplay, Jane’s Addiction and Kanye West. “From the time Parklife starts right through to Bluesfest, you’ve got Future Music, Big Day Out, Laneway, Harvest, Homebake, Good Vibrations… It’s a dance from the time it gets warm to when it gets cold again.” Splendour, one of Australia’s most popular camping shows, was one of the priciest tickets with camping tickets topping AUD$500 (€400). The three-day show sold 30,000 stubs, roughly 2,000 short of a sell-out, but still made money, Piticco insists. Peter Noble, director of Bluesfest, observes, “The big events will remain established; mid-level ones will find it tough. And it is going to get a whole lot tougher before things improve.” But some boutique festivals are thriving: Meredith and Golden Plains both quickly sold out, while Homebake, with its all-Australian line-up, sold well despite taking a year out in 2010, and a new multi-city festival, Harvest, arrived in 2011. Organised by Maddah’s team and Declan Forde of Ireland’s Electric Picnic, Harvest was well supported and will return in 2012. New Zealand’s festivals market is “going from strength to strength,” says Scott Witters, CEO of Rhythm And Vines (R&V). “Overall, there’s a growing appetite for live music in NZ, and summer festivals in general,” he adds. R&V enjoyed more than 30% growth over each of the last three years, with
Flaming Lips at Harvest festival
Has the bubble burst for all but the boutique events?
last year’s fest achieving record sales of more than 29,000 over three days. A new product, Rhythm And Alps, has been launched in Christchurch, achieving a break-even with more than 3,000 ticket sales, while Witters’ team is eyeing an Auckland venture in the knowledge that BDO is dumping its Auckland leg in 2012.
People’s expectations are out of whack. We experienced a year or two of sales being off the chart, now they’re back to normal. We all just need to chill out, realise that period was abnormal and now it’s back to business.
– Jaddan Comerford, The Staple Group
Asia Promoters eye overseas expansion to attract A-list acts For some years now, Michael Chugg has rallied for a panAustral-Asia touring circuit and there are signs that the pieces are finally falling into place. Sydney-based booking agency Artist Voice has expanded into the Asian region through an arrangement with Untitled Entertainment, while Laneway Festival launched a Singapore leg in 2011. “If you could put together a half-dozen-date tour
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through the region, it really makes coming into that market even more worthwhile,” explains Lunatic Entertainment MD Danny Rogers, who partners Chugg on Laneway. “If you come into Australia to do Laneway and a couple of sideshows, kick off in New Zealand, head to Singapore and do five shows plus potentially Japan, well that’s a twelve-date tour.”
Australia & New Zealand
Big Issues Bureaucrats accused of throwing a spanner into the works A proposed Foreign Music Acts Certification Scheme or “entertainment visa” is posing a headache for the local industry and could have real ramifications for touring artists. The government has proposed regulations that would legally oblige promoters to hire Australian support acts for international artists touring Down Under. It wins support in some quarters – particularly from artist managers – but the live industry largely sees unnecessary red tape. Live Performance Australia CEO Evelyn Richardson wrote to the government explaining the admin burden “would far outweigh the limited opportunities it will create for Australian musicians.” The LPA reckons its membership currently engages Australian support acts on more than 90% of foreign tours Down Under.
Other key issues on the agenda this year will be the introduction of a uniform Workplace Health and Safety Scheme across Australia. “The introduction of the scheme may mean that touring overseas crews are subject to higher standards than in the past,” notes LPA policy director Daley. Lobbyists are also calling for the creation of a National Live Music Office. “[This would] provide an umbrella information and advocacy service to performing artists, venues, music industry professionals and all levels of government,” says Australian Performing Right Association head of corporate services Dean Ormston. “The biggest issue facing live music over the past few years has been state-based regulations. We need to centralise efforts in dealing with issues and in developing effective strategies that support more venues presenting live music.”
Media Australia’s metro street press – free music weeklies distributed at entertainment venues and record stores – is a traditional source of advertising and editorial for promoting tours, while fans Down Under get their fix from a handful of smart music sites such as The Vine, Mess + Noise and Fasterlouder. Savvy promoters are taking greater control through direct advertising to fans. Tickets to Peter Noble’s Bluesfest can be bought only from the affiliated website, where more than 110,000 have signed-up. Frontier Touring and Chugg Entertainment have added interactive tools and social elements to their websites and both companies have growing customer databases. Indeed, Frontier boasted that its 2009 David Gray tour was the first to sell-out without spending a single dollar on advertising. An innovative new model, Posse.com, helmed by New Zealand-born Rebekah Campbell, allows music fans to earn commission or rewards by selling tickets, music and merchandise to their friends and social networks. In Australia it has raised more than AUD$1.5m (€1.2m) funding, while key hires have been made to drive its expansion into the UK and the US.
Big Day Out 2007 © Tony Mott
Promoters embrace social sites to reach fans
If you come into Australia to do Laneway and a couple of sideshows, kick off in New Zealand, head to Singapore and do five shows plus potentially Japan, well that’s a twelve-date tour.
– Danny Rogers, Lunatic Entertainment
Production Booming business means healthy supply chain Australia’s market has no shortage of production options. Big Day Out requires 35 semi-trailers to move 800 tonnes of equipment and employs more than 65 production staff. “All facilities are available in NZ, but fewer options are available,” explains Witters. “We probably pay higher costs in terms of production. But then other costs like staffing and security are lower than say the UK.” Murrihy has the final word. “There will be [more]
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softening of the festival circuit. As a consequence, many artists are now looking to do a lot of their own touring to make up the absence of festival bookings. I definitely see a return to the 1950s style of touring with three- and four-band packages, which generates value-for-money shows. In time, the market will correct itself and the best agents, promoter and festivals will come out the other side more innovative and stronger than ever.”
In Focus... Do you have a photo for inclusion? email email@example.com 1
1. T he O2 arena’s Danielle Kennedy, Sally Davies and Steve Gotkine presented Rihanna with a specially commissioned award to recognise her ten sell-out shows at the venue to more than 170,000 fans – a record for a female artist. 2. Glastonbury founder Michael Eavis received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Festival Awards Europe ceremony in Groningen, the Netherlands, where A Greener Festival co-founder Ben Challis was on hand to honour him. 3. Sziget Festival’s Fruzsina Szep invited guests to join her in a drink of Pálinka to celebrate the event winning Best Major Festival at the Festival Awards Europe.
4. The UK’s annual award season got under way in style when Emeli Sandé won the Critics’ Choice statuette from this year’s Brit Awards. The Scottish singer picked up the trophy from last year’s winner Jessie J at a star-studded party to announce the nominations ahead of the 21 February ceremony. 5. The UK’s Association of Independent Festivals held a oneday seminar in London’s Royal Festival Hall to address safety issues in the business following last summer’s catalogue of international disasters. Pictured discussing emergency procedures are Dan Wilson, Tony Ball, Paul Cook, Simon James and Steven Howell. Other sessions examined the response to climate change and structural safety.
6. Frank Klaveness and Christian Graham of security firm Vaktvesenet go al fresco to celebrate their appointment as an official distributor of Mojo Barriers’ products in Norway. The deal coincides with Vaktvesenet inking a partnership with global security firm Securitas, giving it the ability to roll-out the Mojo system to the country’s most prestigious events and festivals. 7. The Cyborgs entertain the crowds at De Spieghel venue in Groningen during the Eurosonic Noorderslag festival in January. The showcase event presented 293 acts from 26 European countries across its four days, selling all 33,000 consumer tickets to make the 2012 edition the most successful in the event’s 26-year history.
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“ Have you ever been involved with something that has been on the brink of disaster, only to turn it around at the 11th hour?”
Georg Leitner – Georg Leitner Productions In the early 90s I booked The Temptations with Dennis Edwards for a show at the tennis stadium in Dubai. The singers came from St. Louis and their band came from Detroit, but in Dubai, to my great dismay, only the singers arrived. The promoter looked worried and took our passports for “formality reasons”. I called the bandleader’s home and his wife explained that the guys had missed their connecting flight and returned home. Sitting in my hotel without a passport and without a band, I did what any good agent would do – I had a drink. I sort of got into a melancholic state of mind, but suddenly I heard the hotel band perform My Girl, The Temptations’ biggest hit. After the show, I rushed to the bandleader and offered him $5,000 to perform with the Temps. At first he thought I was joking, but I gave them the live CD and overnight they learned the show. At sound check they rehearsed with the singers and we had a fabulous show. The crowd was frantic and asked for an encore – with the limited repertoire the band had rehearsed, they did My Girl a second time. Mark Harding – Showsec About a decade ago, I was working in an arena and my office was immediately next to the artists’ shower block. Just
before Kylie Minogue arrived I noticed a peep hole between the two walls. I had it filled in immediately. It’s impossible to gauge the commercial advantage she could have gained by looking through the gap at our computer screens and documents. Flemming Schmidt – Primus Motor Just another day at the production manager’s office Dmitry Zaretsky, – SAV Entertainment Axl Rose still being in the hotel in St. Petersburg one hour after he was due on stage... in Moscow. Jon Corbishley – The Safety Officer Ltd During rehearsals for the second concert in the back garden of Buckingham Palace during the Queen’s Jubilee, a small fire broke out in one of the upper bedrooms. The fire brigade chief told me it was a routine job and they’d have it sorted in no time. He turned pale when I told him there was two and a half tons of pyro on the roof ready for the next day’s gig. Guess who had to evacuate 30,000 tourists from The Mall and St James Park? Thankfully, the fire turned out to be due to a dodgy hairdryer and Brian May got to play God Save the Queen from the roof of the palace after all.
Croatian border. Trucks turned and had a fast drive to pass the border via Hungary. We arrived in Belgrade about one hour before the show. The set up was usually five hours, but we did it in 1 hour 30 minutes, no rehearsals, just warming up a bit (not easy when you are a Chinese acrobat risking your life), and the show started 45 minutes late. Besides refunding a few tickets to impatient audience members, the show went down a storm. Ed Grossman – MGR When I saw queues at Northern Rock in 2007 it brought back memories of that James Stewart film It’s a Wonderful Life so I barged to the front of all the queues and paid money IN. That stopped the bank run. The fact that the government put in 20 squillion quid was just cosmetic. Lee Charteris – Flash Entertainment On an 80s Steve Winwood North American tour, a state fair show was completely washed out by a freak rainstorm. We used whatever could produce heat to dry out the equipment over night, did the gig, then Fed Ex’d the entire show to the next city without skipping a beat. Just a lot of orange and purple tape!!
Corrado Canonici – World Concert Artists We had crew and scenes from the show Shang-Hi by Cirque Du Ciel travelling from Switzerland to Serbia, to find that our papers were not accepted at the
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