Issue 44 LIVE MUSIC INTELLIGENCE
A n I L M C P u b l i c a t i o n . N ov 2 0 1 2
25 Years of...Agency Looking back over 25 years in the business
Extending the Family
Investment dominates the family show market
Best in Show: Walking with Dinosaurs
Prehistoric spectacular wins inaugural award
25 YEARS OF... TRANSPORT Quarter of a century of keeping shows on the road Gig in Japan
Japan’s slow recovery from triple disaster
WE ALL HAVE LOTS TO LEARN: DOLF BEKKER A CASE FOR FAN FREEDOM: BRIGITTE RICOU-BELLAN MARCH MOVES FORWARD: GEOFFF MEALL IT’S BEST TO INVEST: AGATHA ARÊAS
Contents News 6 In Brief The main headlines over the last two months 7 In Depth Key stories from around the live music world
16 European Festival Report 2012 The results of IQ’s fifth annual festival survey 28 2 5 Years of… Agency Looking back over 25 years in the business 36 Extending the Family Public demand drives hefty investment among family show producers 44 Best in Show: Walking with Dinosaurs Prehistoric spectacular wins IQ’s inaugural Best in Show award
50 25 Years of… Transport Quarter of a century of keeping the show on the road 58 Gig In Japan Steve McClure gives the Japanese market a health check
Comments and Columns 12 We All Have A Lot to Learn Dolf Bekker argues that music business degrees are worthwhile 13 Making a Case for Fan Freedom Brigitte Ricou-Bellan believes fans must be allowed to sell tickets
14 September and October are the new March Geoff Meall waves the white flag to promoters seeking meetings 15 It’s Best to Invest Agatha Arêas says bullish investing can beat the financial crisis 64 In Focus Conferences, anniversaries and accolades 66 Your Shout
Music industry jokes and one-liners
November 2012 IQ Magazine | 3
LIFe CHANGING MoMeNts
LIVE MUSIC INTELLIGENCE THE ILMC JOURNAL, Nov 2012
In times of heartbreak, working in a people business can help the healing process, writes Gordon Masson... SINCE MY LAST EDITORIAL in issue 43, two of us in the IQ team have lost loved ones. Allan McGowan’s mother, May, and my father, Alex, both passed away in September. I can’t speak for Allan, but the intervening weeks for me have been a rollercoaster of emotions and surreal moments. Thankfully I’ve had work to keep me busy. My dad came from an entirely different business – he was an engineer who spent most of his days in manufacturing. But he always took an interest in what I was working on and he’d get annoyed with me if I didn’t send him the latest issue of the magazine, which always made him an interesting sounding board to gauge whether articles were explained with sufficient clarity. Which is just one of the things I’ll miss him for. I think I can talk for Allan, however, when it comes to being grateful for all the kind messages of condolence that people connected with the music industry, from all over the world, have conveyed in the past few weeks. Thank you. This edition of the magazine carries our annual European Festival Report and although the figures and graphs in our research point to the market being flat in 2012, the number of events which did not participate in our survey, either because they cancelled their festival in 2012 or suffered such a decline in results that they were unwilling to share their statistics, perhaps points to a market in more turmoil than it cares to admit. While the Olympics may have hit audience levels in the UK, that excuse does not explain declines elsewhere in Europe, so the report makes
for some interesting reading. Another annual mainstay is our look at the family entertainment sector, which portrays a much more optimistic future. The millions of pounds, dollars and euros that are being invested in new family shows globally to provide ever more sophisticated productions is staggering given the economic circumstances around the world. But such is the strength of belief among producers – that demand will outstrip supply – that many companies are choosing 2013 to launch new shows. In a similar vein, we are using this edition to present our inaugural Best In Show award to prehistoric spectacular Walking with Dinosaurs, which made its long-awaited return to European shores in September. The ‘edutainment’ production has now wowed more than 7 million people around the world and is a deserved winner of this new accolade. Elsewhere, veteran music industry journalist Steve McClure examines the live business in his adopted homeland, Japan, and its recovery from the triple disaster of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown which ravaged parts of the nation in 2011. And in the first part of our ILMC 25 retrospective, we also take a look back over the last quarter of a century in both the transport sector and the agency business and the almost accidental way in which artists have come to be paid by promoters. Oh, and if you’re wondering about this issue’s cover artwork, it’s the first of our four special ILMC 25 celebration series and all will become clear when they come together…
IQ Magazine 140 Gloucester Avenue London, NW1 8JA firstname.lastname@example.org www.iq-mag.net Tel: +44 (0) 20 3204 1195 Fax: +44 (0) 20 3204 1191 Publisher ILMC and M4 Media Editor Gordon Masson Associate Editor Allan McGowan Marketing & Advertising Manager Terry McNally Design Martin Hughes Sub Editor Michael Muldoon Production Assistant Adam Milton Editorial Assistant Joanna Stevens Contributors Agatha Arêas, Christopher Austin, Dolf Bekker, Steve McClure, Geoff Meall, Brigitte Ricou-Bellan, Adam Woods Editorial Contact Gordon Masson, email@example.com Tel: +44 (0)20 3204 1195 Advertising Contact Terry McNally, firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: +44 (0)20 3204 1193
To subscribe to IQ Magazine: +44 (0)20 7284 5867 email@example.com Annual subscription to IQ is £50 (€60) for 6 issues.
November 2012 IQ Magazine | 5
In Brief... Lyricist and long-time Burt Bacharach collaborator, Hal David, dies following a stroke in Los Angeles. He was 91. Berlin Music Week secures €500,000 in financial backing from the local government which should guarantee the event’s future until at least 2014. Live Nation reports improved ticket sales, beating forecasts of a flat market in 2012. The company says that compared to summer 2011, attendance at its concerts from June to September 2012 was around 5% higher. Perth Arena general manager David Humphreys dies, just two months before the AUD$500million (€435m) is due to open. He was 57. AEG drops its claim against Lloyd’s of London on a multi-million dollar insurance policy filed in the days following Michael Jackson’s death. In return, the underwriter shelves a lawsuit it initiated against AEG and the Jackson estate. Entertainment hologram developers Digital Domain Media Group, which stole headlines earlier this year with its Tupac Shakur gig at Coachella Festival, files for bankruptcy protection after reportedly running out of money. Former Big Day Out co-promoter Vivian Lees and Paul Dainty announce a new joint venture company called Two Worlds Touring which will see them working on an ad hoc basis on certain concert and entertainment-related projects. Hamburg’s Reeperbahn Festival & Campus announces vastly improved numbers for its 2012 edition, attracting 2,124 delegates from 24 countries – about a 50% increase on the previous year. One of the event’s highlights featured a keynote by Warner Music Group’s chief executive for recorded music, Lyor Cohen, after which he announced his retirement. The Live Performance Australia-produced Helpmann Awards recognises Kylie Minogues’ Aphrodite Les Folies Tour 2011 as best Australian contemporary concert,
while Prince’s Welcome 2 Australia outing collects best international concert. Universal Music Group gets the green light from American and European regulators for its controversial €1.5billion acquisition of EMI’s recorded music assets. Ed Thompson leaves 13 Artists to join The Agency Group’s London operations, taking a roster of acts such as We Were Promised Jetpacks, Maps & Atlases, and The Twilight Sad with him. Kylie Minogue
October Japan introduces new laws which could result in anyone found possessing illegally downloaded music or movies being imprisoned for up to two years and a JPY2million (€19,250) fine. Glastonbury Festival takes just 100 minutes to sell out all 135,000 tickets for next summer’s event, despite not naming a single act on the 2013 bill. Tim Chambers vacates his position as senior vice-president for corporate development with Live Nation. He is tight lipped about the reasons behind the decision, but hints, “I am looking forward to exploring new opportunities early next year.” Spice Girls impresario Simon Fuller becomes the latest person to be linked with EMI when it is reported he is working with a consortium on a £350m (€430m) bid to buy 60% of the company’s European businesses, including the iconic Parlophone label.
C3 Presents extends an arrangement with Globo Organizations’ GEO for more events in Brazil, following a successful Lollapalooza. They intend to partner on a number of festivals, tours and special events. Two Festival Republic talent bookers, John Dunn and Neil Pengelly leave the UK-based company. Dunn, who booked artists for Latitude Festival, has joined Barry Hogan’s ATP. Pengelly, who booked main stage acts for Reading and Leeds Festivals for two decades will reportedly remain as a consultant until his replacement is found. AEG’s AXS Ticketing launches a new platform for buying tickets through Facebook which it says will allow fans to buy and reserve seats for friends and send them an invitation via Facebook or email, after which they have 48 hours to accept or decline the offer. Australian promoter Paul Dainty and billionaire businessman Richard Branson sign a pact to run Virgin Live which they say will promote any live Rolling Stones 50th anniversary concerts. Shortly afterward, the band confirms two November dates at The O2 arena in London and two dates at the Prudential Center in Newark. Tickets are priced from £106-406 (€130500) for the UK dates and $115-813 (€88624) for the US shows. Kevin Morrow becomes the latest executive to leave Live Nation when he steps down from his senior VP of touring position to form Steel Wool Entertainment & Media with Kevin Welk, president of Welk Music Group. The new company says it will focus on creating strategic alliances with artists and content owners. Pussy Riot member Yekaterina Samutsevich is released from prison after her twoyear prison term for a conviction of ‘hooliganism motivated by religious hatred’ was reduced to a suspended sentence on appeal. However, band mates Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova are reportedly transferred to remote labour camps to serve their sentences.
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6 | IQ Magazine November 2012
News The Savoy in London
Arthur Moves to The Savoy The ILMC Gala Dinner and Arthur Awards are moving to a new venue in 2013 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the conference. Event producer Alia Dann Swift reveals that the silver anniversary gala will take place in London’s historic Savoy Hotel. “We wanted to do something extra special to mark quarter of a century of ILMC and after seeing the wonderful restoration of The Savoy, we couldn’t think of a more appropriate place to hold this celebration.” The glittering dinner will take place in the hotel’s magnificent ballroom on the evening of Saturday 9 March and the ILMC team are already planning a number of surprises to make it one of the most
Sonic Visions Clocks Up Fifth Year
memorable events in the gathering’s 25- year history. “We’re already getting queries about the gala dinner, so tickets will go on sale via the ILMC website in early December,” adds Alia. “It’s always one of the most popular events in the calendar as it gives people the chance to bring partners or clients along to celebrate their work, so you don’t have to be registered as a delegate for ILMC 25 to come along.”
Sonic Visions Music Conference and Showcase Festival will place artists at the core of its programme when it returns to Luxembourg’s Rockhal next month. Organisers of the 23-24 November event are promising a global, comprehensive overview of today’s music industry and upcoming trends, with the opportunity for artists to learn more about the business, including music licensing, labels, copyright, marketing and more. The conference offers artists the opportunity to get involved with workshops and meetings as well as to engage with industry experts such as Virginie Berger, founder
and CEO of strategy, development and management firm, DBTH. Berger will be examining digital strategies and how musicians can take their career to the next level. Events will include discussions on intellectual property touring tips and tricks, and a DIY panel about going it alone in the industry. The conference also pledges to provide musicians with the chance to network with booking agencies, managers, journalists and more.
Corrections In issue 43, we mistakenly reported that the Sydney Entertainment Centre is set to close in December as part of a bigger project to create an entertainment precinct at the city’s Darling Harbour. This, of course, should have stated December 2013. Also, in issue 43’s Middle East market report, the capacity of Abu Dhabi’s Zayed Sports City Stadium was given as 42,000, rather than the true capacity of 43,000 seats. IQ would like to apologise to both venues for these errors
Live Nation Backs Away From Hyde Park Live Nation is set to end its decade long relationship with London’s biggest concert venue, Hyde Park, amidst suggestions that the outdoor space has become increasingly difficult to adapt for major events. Details are sketchy but Live Nation has reportedly written a letter of complaint to the Royal Parks Agency about its tender process for the new contract for Hyde Park, which is set for imminent renewal. Live Nation ran a series
Festival Bosses to Gather for Awards Summit An emergency board meeting to discuss this year’s torrid festival season has been called during the forthcoming UK Festival Awards conference, to be held in London on 3 December. The round table discussion, chaired by IQ editor Gordon Masson, will examine the reasons behind why 2012 was one of the most challenging summers ever for European festivals, where scores of events were cancelled and countless others ran up substantial financial losses. Kilimanjaro Live managing director Stuart Galbraith, who had to cancel his UK edition of the Sonisphere festival this year but enjoyed varying success elsewhere in Europe, has confirmed his participation in the emergency board meeting, while other board members will
be announced closer to the conference date. Elsewhere at the event, key industry experts will look at how festivals can best prepare for bad weather, how to capture and retain an audience, how to maintain a positive experience for the artists and the various new revenue streams that are rapidly changing the economics for festival organisers. Steve Jenner, Festival Awards co-founder says, “The overwhelming interest we have received from festivals of all shapes and sizes wanting to be involved in the Awards and Conference this year is an encouraging sign that the market is rallying; what was just a few years ago a fragmented industry is now very much a community. It all makes for exciting progress and a brilliant party, both of which are very important when the going gets tough and it’s rained a lot.”
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of shows at the central London location throughout this year’s Olympic Games, but big name concerts such as Bruce Springsteen came in for heavy criticism after the promoter literally had to pull the plug because of strict curfew deadlines. Meanwhile, restrictive noise limitations have led to increasing criticism over the years from audience members attending shows at the open-air site which can cater for up to 90,000 people at gigs.
Crowd safety measures, including closing off some of the busiest streets in central London are also understood to be a major bone of contention, while supplier sources tell IQ that unrealistic access controls preventing vehicles from driving on site makes loading in and out virtually impossible. Live Nation has held the exclusive Hyde Park licence since 2001 and during that time has organised events there such as Live 8, Blur, Madonna, Bon Jovi and Shania Twain, as well as annual festivals such as Wireless and Hard Rock Calling.
Mobile Sales Boost ADE The niche sales platform of mobile phones caught the imagination of punters attending the Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE) last month when ticketing partner Ticketscript reported that 12% of its allocation were sold via smartphones. “The growth of mobile ticketing is a trend that we have been monitoring over the past year and ADE ticket sales confirm this trend yet again.” said Joep Lecluse, group marketing director for Ticketscript, which sold 76% of all ADE tickets. “ADE is dedicated to innova-
tion and Ticketscript uses the latest technologies to guarantee all visitors an optimal experience, from purchasing a ticket to an efficient entrance. The introduction of Apple’s passbook makes it even easier to manage these mobile tickets, this fits perfectly with the strategy of Ticketscript.” The figures show a sharp increase in sales for ADE compared to 2011, with a 3% rise in sales of smartphone tickets and 17% of customers requesting a mobile ticket rather than the standard e-ticket.
Amsterdam Dance Event
Muniz Joins XYZ Live
Veteran South American promoter Jose Muniz has joined XYZ Live and Evenpro Group. A former senior vice-president of Time for Fun (T4F), Muniz has been responsible for producing tours with artists such as Pearl Jam, Roger Waters,
Rush, Aerosmith, Red Hot Chili Peppers, AC/DC, Bon Jovi and Oasis, among others. The appointment is part of Brazil-based XYZ’s ambitious plans for growth, alongside investor Evenpro, which promotes events all over Latin America. In 2011 the companies sold more than 1.5 million event tickets and grossed in excess of $115million (€89m). “It is an honour to have a seasoned professional like Jose Muniz onboard as partner in Evenpro Group and as part of our XYZ Live team in our Brazil operations,” says Evenpro president Phil Rodriguez. “I’ve had a friendship with Jose that dates back to 1983. Our companies are
all about building the best human capital possible and the experience and knowhow that Jose Muniz brings is unequalled in terms of live entertainment/touring in Latin America.” Muniz started his career as a concert promoter in Brasilia, Brazil in 1983 with Metal Productions where he focused on tours with up and coming local artists, and management. He moved to São Paulo in 1984, and in 1986 set his sights on promoting international artists. After various tours, including Black Sabbath, Jethro Tull, and Deep Purple, Muniz formed Mercury Concerts in 1990, which he sold ten years later to CIE/
OCESA and became their director of entertainment. In 2004 he relocated to New York as VP of Ocesa Presents. Then in 2007 he was appointed senior VP of T4F and moved its operations to Orlando, Florida. “Phil and I have been friends for more than two decades, and except for the time we worked together on Monsters of Rock, we have always been on opposite sides competing for different regional tours,” says Muniz. “I have always respected and admired Phil’s accomplishments as a promoter, and I believe that together we will expand XYZ Live’s presence in Brazil and Evenpro’s operations in Latin America.”
Bieber Fever Hits Middle East Dubai is preparing for its biggest ever concert as Justin Bieber jets into town next May for a show at 7he Sevens Stadium on the outskirts of the city. Promoter Done Events is reconfiguring the venue to create a 25,000 all-standing capacity and such is the demand from Beliebers that, unusually for the United Arab Emirates, tickets went on sale eight months in advance of the show. “Dubai is a transient place where people tend not to plan months in
advance because, quite simply, their jobs might move on. So going on sale so early is almost unheard of,” says Done Events’ COO Thomas Ovesen. “It’s the craziest thing we’ve ever experienced here – we haven’t done any marketing whatsoever, but we’ve already sold 18,000 tickets and when we take local authority and complimentary tickets into account, then we only have about 4,000 tickets left to sell.” Ovesen says that the Bieber gig has no government subsidies, unlike many
German Business Ponders New Venues Tariff
A controversial change to venue royalty fees was the main topic of discussion when the Federal Association of Event Management (bdv) held its annual meeting in Hamburg, Germany, during the Reeperbahn Festival last month. Negotiations with performing rights society GEMA about its divisive new UV-Tariff, given its potential impact on the events management sector, were high on the agenda. Scheduled to come into force on 1 January 2013, the UV-Tariff would create a minimum payment rate depending on the size of a
venue and ticket prices. Currently GEMA charges a flatrate but the new tariff could levy an extra 50% for events lasting more than five hours, meaning some nightclubs and events could be charged up to ten times more than the current rate. Although GEMA claims 60% of venues will not be affected by the UV-Tariff, delegates at bdv’s meeting voiced concerns that some concert tours could also be hit by the new rules. Meanwhile, Jens Michow was again unanimously voted president of the association, making it the ninth time he has held the position. “Naturally, I am very pleased,” says Michow. However, he has stressed he does not want to see his time in office extend to beyond ten terms and is adamant a presidential successor should be identified in the near future. “I made it clear before the election the extent to which the association could reckon with me in the future,” adds Michow.
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big name acts that visit the country, meaning there has been a tricky balance in pricing tickets, which range from AED350-1,000 (€72-207), with the higher priced passes already sold out. “Because it is an open air concert, it’s costing us close to $1million (€760,000) to produce the event. But we’ve tried to be as humane as possible with ticketing because we know there will be a lot of young fans who will need their parents to come along with them too,” states Ovesen.
Elsewehere, Done Events is enjoying a successful 2012, having already promoted Kasabian, Duran Duran and the Eagles at 7he Sevens Stadium, while a Jennifer Lopez concert at the 14,000-capacity Dubai Media City Amphitheatre on November 22 sold out three months in advance. Stone Roses will play at that same venue next February and, proving that the comedy genre is on the rise internationally, Pub Landlord Al Murray recently sold out five shows in Dubai and Muscat.
Indies Unite to Fight Ticket Profiteers The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) has launched a charter aimed at combating touts and the secondary ticket market, describing them as “bad for fans and bad for live entertainment.” The association hopes to ensure that the price of festival tickets will stay at a reasonable price and states that secondary ticket-sellers must withdraw from signatories’ events. The Fair Ticketing Charter has already attracted support from over 55 veterans of the music industry, including artists, festivals and promoters such as Radiohead, Gotye, WOMAD, Bestival, WeGotTickets and Hospital Records. Rob da Bank, co-founder of AIF and Bestival, says, “The whole secondary ticketing situation does make me really angry, mostly because I just don’t feel many of the people paying vastly inflated prices actually understand the mechanics behind it, and secondly because the people profiting are doing so driven by pure greed.”
The charter calls on consumers to “boycott ticket touts” and promises to be “transparent with the pricing and distribution of tickets for events that we control.” It also urges the live entertainment Industry to increase efforts to “protect” fans from touting. “The festivals who say they’ve sold out while blatantly putting hundreds or thousands of tickets on a secondary seller are just plain dishonest,” states Da Bank. This venture comes in response to recent high profile exposure about online tickettouting. In the UK, Channel 4’s Dispatches and similar investigative programmes in Denmark have brought such controversial practices to light, making it a matter of public debate. The FanFair Alliance is set to ramp up its activities in the UK later this year. Partners in this group include Sharon Hodgson MP (who brought the issue of ticket-touting to parliament in 2011), Mike Weatherly MP and Melvin Benn, with the AIF full support for the alliance.
Music Festivals Group Calls in Administrators
Vince Power’s Music Festivals PLC has called in the administrators after a disastrous drop in profits this year, spelling an uncertain future
for the festivals on its roster. The company that runs festivals including Hop Farm in the UK and Spain’s Benicassim announced in August that it was looking to raise additional working capital and predicted a loss in the year up to December, citing poor trading conditions. But after struggling to secure additional funds, Music Festivals has been forced to call in administrators Shipleys LLP and suspend trading until a solution can be found. Shares in Music Festivals floated at 66.5p in June 2011, valuing the company at just under £10million (€12.3m). In September 2012, the value of the company nose-dived with shares
at a dismal 2.13p, reducing the company’s value to just £310,000 (€382,000). Although still lucrative, Benicassim announced a drop in profits in 2012, compared to previous years. Tickets have already gone on sale for the 2013 event, but the prospects for Benicassim look dreary if Music Festivals cannot secure funding for the future. The European economic downturn and record youth unemployment in Spain has been blamed for the drop in ticket sale this year, despite hosting major names such as Florence & the Machine and Stone Roses. Hop Farm Festival also saw poor ticket sales, despite attracting headliners Peter
Gabriel and Bob Dylan, and having a history of big-name headliners in its four years. Music Festivals has neither confirmed nor denied that the festival will take place in 2013 casting doubts on Hop Farm’s sustainability. At press time, no further statement from Music Festivals had been made since an initial announcement in September. However, administrators Anthony Davidson and Stephen Ryman said that the company’s principal trading subsidiaries, Benicassim Ltd and Kent Festival Ltd, which are not the subject of the administration proceedings, continue to trade while they begin a process to find buyers for those subsidiaries.
Global Business Set for a Multi-Billion Dollar Shake-up The live entertainment industry could be radically changed across venues, promoters and numerous sports franchises after global powerhouse AEG kicked off an auction frenzy for its assets, with owner Philip Anschutz hoping to attract bids of $10billion (€8bn) – much higher than the previously predicted $6-8bn (€4-6bn). A 25-page AEG information memorandum has been circulated to dozens of potential buyers, with the recipients said to include rich individuals, sovereign wealth funds, real estate firms and private equity firms. Although the document contains no financial details, reports say that those who sign non-disclosure agreements will be able to view the company’s books with more detailed financial information by the end of October. Sources say that potential buyers for AEG will need to
come up with a price in the “high single digit, low double digit” billion dollar range just to proceed to the next round of bidding. Among the potential bidders are trade buyers Liberty Media Corp; investment company Guggenheim Partner LLC; private equity firm Bain Capital LLC and individuals such as Los Angeles billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong. Soon-Shiong, ranked as the richest man in Los Angeles, is likely to be interested in the sports entertainment side of AEG. He already owns a small piece of the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers and is hoping to bring a professional American football team to LA, by either buying the team itself or encouraging a team to move to a newly planned stadium in downtown Los Angeles. In September, AEG said in a statement: “The selling process represents a unique opportunity to maximise val-
ue for all concerned and will allow us to assure that, like the Anschutz Company, the new owner will have the financial resources, commitment and vision to support AEG’s management team as it continues to grow the businesses of AEG and the power of its brands.” AEG employs around 25,000 people in more than 100 venues globally in some of the largest cities in the world, including the O2 Arena in London, the Staples Center in Los Angeles and the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai. Sources say that founder Philip Anschutz wants to keep the company in one piece rather than selling off pieces individually in order to maintain the value of the company’s holdings. AEG has employed the help of Blackstone Advisory Partners as financial advisors. The company recently managed the sale of the LA
Dodgers basketball team for $2bn (€1.5bn) dollars to Guggenheim Baseball Management. Blackstone is set to keep control of how bidding groups are formed, including a provision that will prevent parties from discussing joint bids. This requirement is sometimes imposed by sellers in auctions in order to prevent bidders forming groups as a way to undercut price. 72-year old Philip Anschutz is estimated to be worth $7.2bn (€5.5bn), and has said that he is in no rush to sell AEG. However, this is not the first time that he has looked to sell all or part of AEG. In 2008, Ticketmaster and Cablevision Systems Corp were in talks to buy 49% of the AEG Live concert division, in a deal estimated to be worth $400million (€305m), before the deal fell through and Ticketmaster went on to merge with Live Nation.
November 2012 IQ Magazine | 11
We All Have A Lot To Learn Young London promoter Dolf Bekker, of Famous Wolf, challenges the seemingly prevalent attitudes of an industry unimpressed by music business degrees…
The words ‘music business degree’ generally leave a foul taste in the mouths of the majority of people in the music industry, particularly those that have been involved in it for longer than a decade, and who tend to be sceptical, at best. The reason for this is rather understandable; the ‘seniors’ in the industry never went to a college or a university to study music industry management. They worked very hard and through sheer persistence (and maybe a sprinkling of luck) they managed to establish their music industry careers. As a young promoter who recently finished an MA in Music Industry Management & Artist Development, I know very well that waving my degree around will not (instantly) get me a job (although one could ask in which industry it does work like that). Still, I wonder why having a professional qualification is despised so much? General opinion in the industry is that when people see a music business-related degree on a CV they reckon that this guy probably thinks he knows everything about the industry because he went to school for it, and you are automatically seen as an arrogant rookie who is not going to be invited for an interview. Okay, maybe a slight exaggeration, but the question still remains, what is wrong with a bit of education? At the end of the day, there are pretty much only two professions you absolutely need a degree for: law and medicine so, no, you do not need a degree in music business to become a music industry professional, but this applies
“ When people see [you have] a music businessrelated degree, you are automatically seen as an arrogant rookie.”
to a lot of other professions also. Not everyone who studies physics becomes a rocket scientist and not everyone who studies psychology becomes the next Dr Phil. And likewise not everyone who studies music business will be the next CEO of Live Nation. A lot of industry professionals fear an overflow of (wannabe) managers, agents and promoters coming from these music industry courses but, let’s be fair, it still comes down to the individual. Every young professional in this industry (with a related degree or not) still has to work very hard to develop their careers and it’s still persistence, being clever and having that bit of
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luck that gets us where we want to be, not degrees. But again, what is wrong with a bit of knowledge? As a young promoter I predominantly work with small-capacity venues, as do most young professionals in this industry. In the time I have been working in London I have started noticing that a lot of my peers (and even people with more experience than me) have very little knowledge about what they are actually doing in areas such as licensing, production, health & safety, marketing, and contracts, etc. Everything is learned through trial and error. I am not saying that this process is a bad thing, it is generally perceived as one of the fundamentals of learning, but is it necessary to make the same mistakes others have already made before you? These degrees, although frowned upon, do provide such knowledge through research. Through lectures, essays and a lot of reading I have learned what industry professionals before me have done right and more importantly what they have done wrong, what does not work (anymore) and what (still) does. Is that not worth at least something? During my masters I was working full-time as an in-house promoter for a venue in Camden Town in London. Although juggling my time to do both simultaneously was not easy, I have to say that the learning process was amazing; I was able to utilise knowledge gained from my degree in my job, but also, I was able to include the experience gained from my job, in my degree. This combination provided me with a lot more insight, and what I learned from my degree was not solely theoretical anymore. Likewise, in my job, I could depend less on ‘throwing faeces at the wall and seeing what sticks’ because I could rely on knowledge. Maybe it is time that these degrees – and the fact they might actually be good for our industry – became seen as more acceptable. Maybe it has already begun: The new general manager of the AIF – Claire O’Neill – studied music industry management (and graduated with a first). Although I like to emphasise the fact that it is still all about the individual: working hard, doing internships, networking, proving yourself, landing that first awfully paid job but sticking with it, through to the next slightly better but still badly paid job, never giving up is the way forward; but combining that with education is not such a bad thing either.
September and October are the new March “ It used to be around
the ILMC in March that the requests came flooding, but in the last few years it’s shifted to this September and October period.”
Geoff Meall of The Agency Group appeals for an end to the onslaught of
seasonal promoter meetings…
Quoting directly from Austin Powers’ Goldmember, “there are only two types of people in this world that I hate and that’s people who are intolerant of other people’s cultures…and The Dutch.” Now I’m a fairly easy going chap, some would say friendly even, but every year around early September my tolerance for one particular question that we, as agents, get asked starts to wane and by the early part of October I find myself not only hating the Dutch, but also the French, Germans, Italians and, let’s face it, every other nation on earth. And that question? Usually preceded by the phrase “We’re coming over to London” are the five words that now drive fear and loathing into my soul (yeah yeah, I’ve got one of those) “COULD WE ARRANGE A MEETING?” If those five words were to come once or twice a week then I think I’d be fine with it, but it’s more like once or twice every ten minutes. It used to be around the ILMC in March that the requests came flooding, but in the last few years it’s shifted to this September and October period. I was sitting at Munich airport recently, one of the glamour spots I was always promised in this job, and in the 20 minutes from sitting down to boarding the plane I was asked that question six times, ranging from people who’d decided to try to come into the office later that day, to those with
much more forward planning who were trying the following day and some even for two or three days into the future. Blackberry off on the plane and three more requests when I turned it back on at Heathrow. Please make it stop. As an experiment I counted back meeting requests from early September up until early October and even accounting that I’ve missed a good few, I’ve received more than 80 requests for a meeting. I’d love to see you all (well, maybe not all), but I think I’m talking for all agents here when I say I’m busy. Stupidly busy. This role gets more and more technical every year and I find myself having less time to deal with things. Especially at this time of year. Not only have I got artists touring in the autumn period, but I’m planning for next year and beyond. I can’t free the time to see 80 of you. I know you’re planning the summer festivals earlier and earlier and want to find out what we can offer, but can we not do it via email or phone? Save us all some time? Please don’t take it badly when I refuse your request. It’s nothing personal, in the majority of cases, but occasionally I’d like not to spend 4 or 5 hours in the evening catching up with what I could have done in office hours, had seven of you not visited that day.
November 2012 IQ Magazine | 13
Making a Case for Fan Freedom Brigitte Ricou-Bellan, general manager, international, of StubHub’s London office puts her case for the rights of a fan with a ticket to sell...
If you had asked me last year what the UK’s events scene was like I would have told you it had a world-renowned reputation as a vibrant and diverse landscape, offering fans a new experience night after night. You can imagine my surprise shortly after settling in London to launch eBay’s secondary ticketing marketplace StubHub UK, to discover the polarised reputation of the secondary market in the industry and the media, culminating in the exposure of opaque practices of existing secondary ticketing competitors on Channel Four. Having spent six and a half years living and working on the East Coast of the USA where the market is not only more mature, but an integral part of the ticketing landscape, this came as something of a culture shock. As the market leader in the US, StubHub prides itself on having an honest and open model for fans and being a true marketplace where sellers set asking prices and, more importantly, buyers determine actual sale prices without interference from third parties. Unsurprisingly, I am a strong advocate of transparency and consumer protection as the two tenets of a virtuous ticket-reselling proposition, but I would like to see those principles extend to the event industry as a whole. In fact, many of the more opaque ticket resale practices have developed as a direct result of actions in the primary market. It is the primary market which benefits from the marketing power of ‘sell-out events’, when in reality, the vast majority of tickets for these events are funneled directly to promoters, venues, fan clubs or select ticket brokers. These tickets have been allocated from the outset as stock to be sold on the secondary market, often with
The range of choice fans now have, and the unlimited ways in which we can plan our time, means that diary dates are turning into a thing of the past, with two out of three nights out now re-arranged at least once.” players who, unlike StubHub, are brokers themselves, at a huge profit – which is shared with the primary market. There is a fundamental hypocrisy in players that complain vociferously about the secondary market while simultaneously creating their own exchange and resell platforms which seek to lock access to tickets in a monopolistic model, maximising profits to the detriment of fan freedom and limiting options and choices for the ordinary fan. As a company truly devoted to fans, one of the first things StubHub did on entering the UK market was listen
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to what the people of the UK wanted. Specifically, we conducted a study with the Future Foundation around the changing face of leisure in the UK. We found that the UK now tops the league for live attendance, with attendance at live events still booming despite the recession, with the average Briton (aged 16+) now attending live events, performances or exhibitions 16 times a year (once every 23 days), representing an increase of 16% in UK live event attendances during the past decade. In parallel, we also discovered that leisure planning habits are changing at the speed of internet, mobile and social adoption, with Britain leading the charge in smart phone and social adoption. As more people in the UK use technology to organise (and re-organise) their social lives, we make more plans than ever, and change them just as regularly. The internet has become the prime channel through which younger adults in the UK buy tickets, and many of us are buying tickets online at the ‘last minute’ (16% of 16-54-year-olds have bought tickets online, for an event happening that same night). However, the range of choice fans now have, and the unlimited ways in which we can plan our time, means that diary dates are turning into a thing of the past, with two out of three nights-out now re-arranged at least once or ending up cancelled altogether. This is a staggering 35% increase in the past decade! The knock-on effect has meant that fans lose more money than ever – some 43% have suffered financially by having to cancel tickets and miss events in recent years. It is therefore no surprise that a vast majority of UK event goers want the ability to freely resell tickets as well as the opportunity to make a last minute, impulse purchase to gigs, festivals and games. And it is clear to me and to StubHub that UK fans’ satisfaction levels with existing players is low and more generally that the UK market lacks good options for reselling tickets or buying tickets for hot events, even at the last minute. As a new player in the UK, we will need to educate the market and prove how we are different and better. We are building, with energy and passion, a new proposition for the UK and European fans, and I am confident that increasingly we will become the marketplace of choice where UK fans go to, confidently and spontaneously, to buy or sell tickets, for gigs, gags and games.
It’s Best to Invest! Rock In Rio marketing director Agatha Arêas believes that in times of crisis, the solution is investment...
Over 28 years, there have been 12 editions of Rock in Rio in Brazil, Portugal and Spain. Over 6.4 million people have watched 968 artists perform over 979 hours of music, broadcast to 200 countries and 180 million spectators. Rock in Rio has more than 6.1 million followers throughout the world’s main social networks. Times are difficult for many festivals, but cutting back and downsizing goes against our nature and our commitment to excellence. That is why when faced with a less favourable economic scenario our answer is to increase what we offer. Investing in creativity, investing in innovation, investing in boldness, investing in relationships, investing in optimism, investing in joy, investing in quality, investing in emotions, investing our time, and even some money.
“ When faced with a less favourable
economic scenario our answer is to increase what we offer.”
In our two 2012 editions (in Portugal and Spain) we could have chosen to go for higher returns by cutting budget and quality and delivering a less beautiful festival than in the past. But whilst our accounts are done on one side of the scale, our dreams are definitely on the other, and we are always prepared to take the risk in order to follow the path in which we believe. The results are both inspiring, and quite revealing. Rio de Janeiro attracted 700,000 festival-goers in 2011. In Spain, 183,000 people put the financial crisis aside at the Madrid edition; and in Portugal, which is currently facing the worst economic uncertainty since the festival first arrived there in 2003, Rock in Rio-Lisboa 2012 surpassed any previous edition. The 353,000 people who showed up during the five-day event enjoyed concerts on the World Stage, the Sunset Stage and in the Electronic tent, and had fun on the giant wheel, the rollercoaster and the slide. In times of crisis, we believe in stepping up what we offer. Whether that be a new musical, a high-tech exhibition or a party airplane. And we believe in offering new destinations such as Buenos Aires, Lima, Berlin and New York, giving more reasons for the population, now faced with limited choices, to identify Rock in Rio as a must-attend event. No matter what happens, we know that Rock in Rio is not just ours, and that’s why we continually invest in the dream.
This year marks the fifth in succession that IQ has published its European Festival Report and while the data on the following pages on the surface seems to suggest that the sector is treading water, the reality is somewhat more downbeat. Pulling together all the data for our annual health check on the festival business is always a tricky task and involves everyone in the IQ team chasing promoters around Europe for weeks on end to try to persuade them to share data with us, but this year, the number of festival organisers who have chosen not to do that – either because their event was cancelled or had such a torrid time financially – is all too apparent. Last year, 110 festivals throughout Europe participated in our survey, but this year that figure fell to 80. However, thanks to our friends at the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), who conducted a mini survey (see page 22), the total number of participants overall in this year’s report was 106. In comparison to the wider festival business in Europe, AIF member events punched a bit above their weight, increasing both average capacity and average ticket price, but the organisation’s co-founder Rob da Bank notes, “It was a tale of two halves this year, with some bigger festivals
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like Bestival feeling like we got away with it – and a lot of small and mid-sized events having good years – but others suffering a dismal summer, with the likes of Guilfest going down, while Rob Challis at Summer Sundae recently told me he didn’t have a good year at all.” And those sentiments aren’t just confined to the UK. “Talking to all the festival promoters over the last few weeks from big to small, it’s really struck and shocked me how much of a common theme of fear and despondency there is in the market place right now – everyone across the board has been knocked for six this year,” comments Steve Jenner of the European Festival Awards. Claes Olsen at Norway’s Øya Festival observes, “There are too many poor festivals with no heart that frighten [away] the audience, sponsors, etc.” Despite that atmosphere of gloom, the actual consolidated results of IQ’s European Festivals Report 2012 suggest a market that has reached a plateau, which ordinarily, when other business sectors are struggling to survive in the deepest
recession in living memory, would be an achievement in itself. But scores of festivals were cancelled across the continent in 2012, with some choosing to pull the plug and take the chance of destroying years of goodwill, rather than taking a financial hit in the knowledge that it could be recouped at future festivals – as many promoters have done in the past. Jasper Barendregt at Germany-based FKP Scorpio, which counts 16 gatherings in its roster including Hurricane, Southside, Indian Summer, Area 4 and Highfield festivals, says, “It’s interesting to see that the major festivals haven’t had any troubles selling out this year. The competition between smaller festivals has increased and has definitely influenced artist fees.” He adds, “Insuring your festival against all kinds of risks has become more important – hence my choice for weather being the second-most important factor influencing the festival industry.” No less than a fifth of promoters across the continent admit to being worried at the state of the European festival market, but the majority are a bit more upbeat. A total of 41% believe the sector as static, but 28% of organisers believe the market remains healthy. Perhaps typifying the optimistic outlook of promoters, nobody in the survey ticked the box indicating that the business is in a terrible state but only one event described it as ‘fantastic’.
Festival capacity and attendance In terms of attendance versus capacity, the surveyed festivals suffered a 2.4% fall in attendance in 2012 compared to last year. That figure may seem small but as promoters count on those vital last percentage points to keep their events profitable, the falling audience number is a worrying development and is certainly something that marketing departments will be eager to address ahead of the 2013 season. In 2011, the surveyed festivals reported an attendance-tocapacity ratio of 82.2% but that figure was down to 78.8% this year. However, on a brighter note, a large number of events extended in size this year, leading to an overall capacity increase of 5.2%, with the average capacity at respondents’ events increasing to 32,678, compared to 31,059 in 2011. Indeed, despite the obvious saturation in the festival market and the unarguable fact that consumers are being very careful with their disposable income, our report did not see any events cutting capacity in 2012. Our research reveals that an astonishing 63.2% of the festivals included in our survey increased their capacities in 2012, while the remaining 36.8% held capacity at the exact same level as last year. Festival Republic managing director Melvin Benn observes, “The fact that some festivals raised capacity but may not have raised prices doesn’t necessarily go hand in hand: if a festival can sell out it’s probably strong enough to take a price increase.” Benn, who runs the likes of Leeds and Reading Festivals, as well as Latitude in the UK, continues, “The Olympics very definitely hit the southern part of England more than
What proportion of your audience is from abroad? anywhere else. There was a very substantial amount of money taken out of the music industry economy – it must have hit us by at least 10%. “There’s still sufficient interest in festivals: the demand for Glastonbury when it went on sale for next year was very high, but whether people are interested in going to a festival other than Glastonbury remains to be seen.” The ability of European promoters to attract volunteers to staff their festivals is underlined by the sheer volume of unpaid numbers who helped run the events that took part in this year’s survey. Glastonbury famously has tens of thousands of volunteers, but even with that festival taken out of the equation (given its cancellation in 2012) the total number of volunteer staff across the festivals which chose to answer the staffing question was 83,510, compared to 56,943 ‘professional staff on site’. Interestingly, FKP Scorpio waited until this year to introduce volunteers at Hurricane, Southside and Area 4. Barendregt says the unpaid staff were used to “help the checkin process and several projects on site.” And perhaps pointing the way for other events to cut their carbon footprints, he adds, “We’ve introduced a full collaboration with the German railways enabling our guests to travel to the festival for free using trains from all over Germany.”
Attendance from abroad Free public transport could indeed be the way ahead and a way to persuade fans to stay within their home nations, because the lure of travelling to other places to see their favourite acts is definitely increasing. Some events in central Europe have already established healthy fanbases in neighbouring countries that duly make their way across borders to attend those occasions. Our report found that the trend of reaching
November 2012 IQ Magazine | 17
out to fans in other countries is definitely spreading and the culture of consumers looking outside their own nation for their annual festival fix appears to be reaching viral proportions. The economic impact of such developments has not gone unnoticed and tourist offices at both regional and national levels have been quick to get in on the act, and in some cases have invested considerable funds to support outdoor gatherings. But the potential loss of fans from one festival to an overseas rival has not gone unnoticed. Last year, Festival Republic managing director Melvin Benn used the forum of the UK Festival Awards Conference to raise the subject of Europe-wide exclusivity deals for headline acts. Noting that exclusivity contracts already exist in the festival business in North America, Benn hinted that similar pacts could be drawn up for artists playing at UK festivals in particular, where headliners are often paid two or three times as much as events elsewhere in Europe. The implication was that UK fans have to pay more for tickets to see those acts, but if they could buy cheap airline tickets and a lower priced ticket for a foreign festival with the same line-up, promoters will move to protect their investment with more stringent exclusivity clauses. “European exclusivity is still something I’d like to see happen,” Benn tells IQ. “However, the economic model under which bands work means that such exclusivity deals could not be bought for any more than one or two acts a year.” And Benn could be on to something. In terms of attracting visitors from overseas, some festivals obviously do better than others – and their marketing budgets are organised accordingly. Gatherings such as Sziget in Hungary, EXIT in Serbia and Benicàssim in Spain have become adept at casting their net wide for punters and the reputation for those events, boosted by the word-of-mouth recommendations that promoters dream of, has certainly done them no harm. Social Media
Ticket sales by type
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Our report found that, of all the events surveyed, just over a third (34.7%) report that foreign visitors account for 5% or less of ticket buyers. In the 5-10% bracket of foreign attendees, that number is a healthy 22.2% of events – a figure matched by those festivals that lured between 10-20% of ticket buyers from other countries. And at the top end, those events who claim their audience is made up of more than 40% foreign visitors was 6.9%, while those reporting between 20-40% of ticket buyers came from across their borders amounted to 13.9% of the survey respondents. The willingness of festival goers to travel to see bands in other countries – in part fuelled by the availability of inexpensive airline travel – is also seeing a growing number of promoters establishing footholds in other territories by launching branded boutique events in popular sunshine destinations. That’s a trend that will certainly continue, especially as certain markets build up their production capabilities. “Belgium is a festival country which means lots of competition and also competition from the Eastern European market,” says Irene Rossi at Couleur Café festival. But Beach Break Live’s Rufus Lawrence comments, “We predict an increase in European festivals outside of the UK in 2013 – diluting current European festivals. This may negatively affect home-grown festival ticket sales initially.”
Ticket prices The average ticket price across all the events that took part in our poll increased marginally from €128 in 2011 to €130 this year, with the lowest priced tickets being €25 and the most expensive coming in at €279. That modest rise in price – below inflation in most countries – is only too understandable given the financial mire that Europe finds itself bogged down in. But, as noted previously, it appears that many promoters used the strategy of increasing capacity in an effort to boost revenues to cover increasing expenses such as artist fees and production costs, which were not hampered by such concerns as price freezes. When it comes to how organisers sell tickets to their customers, this year’s European Festival Report found that fans are not too keen to trust new platforms to secure their precious passes. For instance, while mobile ticketing is making significant inroads into the concerts business around the world, when it comes to outdoor gatherings in Europe, it appears the option of buying tickets through handsets is nowhere near as popular with fans, with a paltry 0.2% choosing that method. Online sales continue to dominate buying habits, with 64% of all passes bought via the internet in 2012 – an increase on last year’s 60%, possibly driven by increasing broadband speeds and online penetration. Box office purchases in 2012 accounted for 26% of tickets sold, while walk-up sales still play a major role in the health of some events, where as many as 40% of fans buy tickets at the gates, but overall walk-up sales were just 5% across
Legislation Weather A Lack of Headliners
1.4% Artist Fees
7.9% Production Costs
What do you believe will affect the industry over the next 5 years? survey respondents. That was marginally ahead of tickets bought through call centres (4% of total sales), but a country mile ahead of passes purchased via social media, which amounted to less than 1%. “The ticket price for our last main night [featuring] Kaiser chiefs, Asian Dub Foundation, Clawfinger, Fat Joe, Buraka Som Sistema and two big regional acts, was from €7 in presale to €10 at the door,” says Rade Jordanovski at the Taksirat Festival in Macedonia. Describing such constraints as “almost a mission impossible due to the big artist fees and expensive flight connections,” Jordanovski adds, “but our strong will and stubbornness brought us to the 14th issue of the festival. It’s hard times for making a nice festival, but we’ll get by somehow.” Examining the split of ticket types, around a third (32.5%) of all tickets sold for festivals across Europe in 2012 were day passes only, with weekend tickets accounting for 20.6% and whole event passes totalling 46.9% of all sales. Drilling those numbers down, in terms of ticketing structure, less than one in ten (9%) of all events offer weekend-only or whole event tickets. Those who offer day tickets only amount to 18%, but the vast majority of festivals (73%) offer their fans the flexibility of being able to buy tickets for the entire event or for select days only.
varying degrees that could result in changes for the 2013 season, either in terms of ticket prices, alterations to site size – and therefore production costs – and in extreme cases, a cancellation of next year’s event or even the complete closure of some festival brands. Among the higher profile events that have question marks hovering over them ahead of next year are Spain’s Benicàssim and Hop Farm in the UK, following parent company Music Festivals PLC suspending share trading and administrators being called in to the company (see page 11). Other victims include Guilfest in the UK, which also had to call in administrators; Metalcamp in Slovenia, which announced 2012 would be its final year; and Germany’s Rheinkultur also pulled the plug permanently. Meanwhile, among the slew of events that cancelled their 2012 editions were Dragonfly in Sweden, Rock ‘n Coke in Turkey and the UK’s Sonisphere and Glastonbury. But they are not alone. Although promoters are notoriously (and understandably) secretive about their financial results, the confidential nature of our annual report prompted some candid responses from festivals and more than a third (36%) of the survey’s participants admitted that their business had suffered a decline in 2012. In an otherwise flat year, that suggests that a few weekenders enjoyed improved results. For those who battled on through but suffered declines, there are a number of areas where the fingers of blame are being pointed. Chief among the reasons cited for a downturn in business was the economy, which 47% of event organisers blamed. The weather was named in 17% of cases, while the impact of the Olympics in London prompted 12% of the accusations, slightly ahead of complaints of a lack of available headliners (10%). continued on page 23... Terrible Other
Sell outs Although the economic climate throughout Europe remains challenging, to put it mildly, 35% of the festivals that took part in this year’s report claim to have sold out their entire ticket allocations in 2012. However, that leaves 65% of surveyed festivals falling short of capacity and to
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How would you describe the European festival market?
In conjunction with IQ, the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) quizzed its members about the development of their events during 2012. A total of 26 festivals participated in the AIF mini-survey, with some encouraging responses, given the results of bigger events elsewhere across Europe. Set up in 2008, the AIF allows organisers of UK festivals to share their knowledge and experience to benefit their indie events, which range in size from the likes of LeeFest in Surrey, with a capacity of just 2,000, up to AIF co-founder Rob da Bank’s Bestival, which has now grown to 50,000 punters per day. The organisation also provides a voice for the country’s smaller outdoor events when it comes to lobbying government or having a say in new legislation. And examining the collective survey findings of members who participated, it would appear the AIF is doing something right. “Major festivals have clearly struggled and this has dominated the headlines,” notes Ralph Broadbent of Truck and Y-Not festivals. “Independent festivals have the flexibility to cope with change and have continued to thrive in recent years. I think this advantageous positioning will continue to help independent festivals into 2013. [Next year] will be a great year for festivals. We’re massively excited.” Sarah Nulty at Tramlines Festival agrees. “Despite the media reporting bad news about certain aspects of the festival industry this year, we still feel that it’s a sector in growth and a really important element of the UK entertainment business,” she says. Asked what they perceived as the single most challenging thing that faces festivals looking forward, AIF members were split in their opinions, with competition from similar festivals, bad weather and production costs each causing equal worry, with 15.4% of the vote each. Maintaining ticket sales and attracting new festival goers were the next areas of concern, both polling 11.5% of the vote, slightly ahead of artist fees which is the number one dilemma for 7.7% of the survey respondents. In the ‘other’ category, festival organisers voiced real concerns in a variety of areas, including venue infrastructure and an absence of funding in certain cities; sponsorship; oversaturation in the festival marketplace; and the issue of exclusivity deals on artists, which many larger festivals now insist on. Mirroring moves across Europe, AIF’s member events this year reported that marginally more people (1%) visited their festivals, but when it came to ticket pricing, the indie festivals increased prices by 5.7%, with the average ticket price increasing from £78.50 (€96.50) last year to £83 (€102) in 2012. That suggests UK music fans are happy to pay a bit more money to attend independent boutique events, but
How much did a full festival pass cost in 2012?
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Maintaining Ticket Sales
11.5% Attracting New Festival Goers
Competition from Similar Festivals Bad Weather
What is the biggest challenge facing your event, looking forward? rather than cashing in on their popularity, Da Bank believes the promoters who raised prices this year have done so out of necessity. “I’m so glad this year is over in terms of the festival season,” admits Da Bank. “We killed ourselves to sell every last ticket this year. Three or four years ago we didn’t bother with adverts at all and we were pretty laissez faire about things. Now we’re up to 50,000 people at Bestival and although there are about 30,000 repeat customers we can depend on, that means there are 20,000 people who we have to convince to buy tickets every year.” He continues, “Freezing ticket prices is a lovely idea – and we’ve tried to do it – but it’s virtually impossible. The price of fuel for your generators is going up, the cost of disposing of litter increases, artists fees are soaring and even the price of transport – and ferries, for us – is rising, so you can’t help but increase ticket prices to cover your costs. None of our suppliers is cutting us any slack, and quite rightly so, but we do try to drag prices down where we can.” Not everyone in the AIF survey was lucky enough to see their attendances go up. Of those who reported falling numbers at their events in 2012, the reasons ranged from the emergence of copycat festivals in certain catchment areas and bad weather, to the negative impact of the Olympics on other events and the struggling economy. Underlining that festivals of all sizes, be they run by multinational corporations or part-time enthusiasts, continually need to improve their sites, line-up and production to retain existing customers and, hopefully, entice new fans, one AIF survey recipient sums up that ethos. “We put a lot more work into site development and the look and feel of the area with the introduction of circus marquees, while, working with sponsors, we activated new stages and interesting activities throughout the site,” says the promoter. “All of this received massively positive feedback and moving into 2013 we hope this will be reflected in a resurgence of ticket sales.”
...continued from page 20 Local Government Competition
6% Artist Fees
Lack of Headliners
Reasons festivals suffered a decline
Top concerns When it comes to the factors that people perceive as the most important currently affecting the festivals business, finance was again to the fore. Artist fees are by far and away the biggest concern – both as the most important factor and the second-most important – while economic climate is another specific sore point, as is competition from other events. Among a number of people to pinpoint the weather as a significant factor this year, one promoter says, “The weather itself isn’t the problem. The thing changing is that one should plan festivals as if they take place in November. The amount of rain and wind, as well as the temperatures at night can sometimes compete with the ones in November. But since you also have to be prepared for sun and summer temperatures, the festivals in general become more challenging for both audiences and promoters.” “The biggest challenge is still about getting the right line-up of talent,” comments Festival Republic boss Benn. “We don’t live in a world where you can stand still. You have to constantly look outside of the box and watch what other people are doing to see if that could benefit your events as well. The desire of people – and especially young people – for festivals remains high and unless you remain active in feeding that desire, you’ll be in danger of killing it. So that naturally involves adding new shows and testing new markets to see what works.” Of the other issues that appear to be causing promoters sleepless nights looking forward, over-saturation in the market has patently become a more pressing problem than in the past. As consumers tighten their belts, financially, anecdotal evidence points to people attending fewer events than before and the knock-on effect is that fans are now making choices of one festival over another, whereas they would happily have attended two or more per year in the not too distant past. As a result, 25% of event organisers point to ‘too much
competition’ as the number one area of concern for the business in the next five years. Unsurprisingly, the scale of artist fees is also a major bone of contention, with a quarter of survey respondents pointing to the escalating costs of talent as the issue they believe will hit the industry most between now and 2017. With expenses always to the fore in the mind of promoters, the spiralling cost of production was another anxiety flagged up by about 9% of festivals across Europe, but a bigger concern for 11% in our survey, was a predicted decline in sponsorship revenues. Looking ahead for the next half decade, 1% of those surveyed think legislation will pose any significant problems for their events and perhaps surprisingly, given climate change (and the number of events disrupted by rain in 2012), only 6% of festival organisers believe the weather will be a threat to their business in the next five years. In the UK, Sunrise Celebration’s Dan Hurring observes, “The decreasing willingness of the public to spend – especially to pay increased ticket prices – coupled with an overcrowded market and ever increasing costs for festivals will naturally result in a decline in the scale and number of festivals in existence. It’s inevitable in the current model. The only alternative is a change in legislation to ease restrictions and, more importantly, a change in culture to smaller, more sustainable events with a more localised audience.” And it shouldn’t come as a shock that of the ‘other’ responses to things that will affect the business in the next five years, economic uncertainty was cited time and again. “Holland is recovering from a severe crisis which manifested itself in rather unspectacular ticket sales. We expect the economy to recover within the next couple of years, hence affecting the industry,” states one Dutch promoter. Across the border in Germany, a colleague notes, “Obviously, there will never be only one major cause – it will most probably be a combination of competition, fees, rules and regulations, as Other
Have you introduced new technologies this year?
November 2012 IQ Magazine | 23
Financing Festivals Through Fan Ownership It may have been a financially challenging year for UK Festivals in 2012, with the distraction of the London Olympics and the wealth of free events made available through the London Olympic Cultural Olympiad programme, but Tribe Festivals Ltd believe they have an innovative solution. Tribe is launching a new model which will give fans and supporters the opportunity to become shareholders of its Wychwood Festival. For a one-month period, a number of shares will be available via the Crowd Cube platform for up to 200 individuals. Graeme Merifield, co-founder and director of Wychwood explains, “We have a new and exciting team on our board and we want to expand our Tribe business into a number of other events, so it seems only fitting that we invite those who have been loyal to our current festival portfolio over the last eight years to come and join our Tribe.” A potential investment of £1,000 (€1,200) will buy ten
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Usage of RFID well as production costs. However: here we should divide between personnel and production cost: personnel costs have increased tremendously in Germany.”
New technologies Although 2012 had been touted as the year when RFID would take off internationally at festivals, it appears events in the United States remain ahead of the game compared to counterparts in Europe. And, while only 5.6% of festivals in this year’s survey say they chose this year to introduce RFID on site, a whopping 17% ran some sort of cashless payment system for punters. More than a fifth of all festivals (21.3%) now use, or have used, RFID technology at their event. That’s a pretty
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shares in Tribe Festivals Ltd out of an available 200,000. In return for this, a new shareholder would gain a host of benefits, including a pair of tickets to Wychwood for life (or, the lifetime of the festival); up to 12 half price tickets each year for friends and family, totalling £840 (€1,030) in savings; £50 (€61.50) of bar credit and £50 of merchandise. Along with this, investors would be able to receive EIS relief, which includes many benefits such as 30% income tax relief, meaning the investment will only cost £700 (€862) in real terms, with an investor being able to see returns by their second year, even if they only used their free tickets and bar/merchandise benefits. Tribe is hoping that this type of investment, with its list of benefits and the promise of a swift return, will go toward guaranteeing the future of the festival in the current turbulent market.
impressive number given that the technology hasn’t been widely available for green-field locations for very long. But the potential for growth in that sector across almost 80% of the European festival market is a real opportunity for the pioneers who are pushing that particular technology. Steve Daly, head of RFID for ID&C reports that the company has now sold 1.5 million RFID enabled wristbands worldwide, with 2012 involving many firsts. “Wakestock became the first multi-day festival in the UK to replace all tickets with RFID wristbands this year, while Wireless was the first to go cashless and the Chili Peppers’ gig at Knebworth was the first outdoor gig to use RFID wristbands, and they also did a bit of social networking integration.” ID&C only launched its RFID wristbands last year, when Coachella in California debuted the technology in the United States, followed quickly by Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits and this year events such as Bamboozle and Bonnaroo. “Things look like they’ll be expanding again next year – we’re already in talks for some repeats as well as some new festivals in the USA, while in the UK we’re looking to do the same as 2012, but there are a lot of discussions going on with other events and I would imagine there will be a number of trials at certain festivals again.” Although RFID’s capabilities are widespread, the majority of events that used the technology did so to enable cashless payments, while activation for access control was the next most popular use. Its use for social networking connectivity was minimal, with only three festivals opting to provide such facilities for consumers. Nonetheless, the willingness of festivals to drip feed the capabilities of RFID systems to punters indicates that confidence among organisers is growing. Michiel Fransen, managing director of Dutchband, tells
IQ, “We had a great start of the season with the use of our RFID wristbands at the Eurosonic Festival, where we worked in conjunction with the excellent Intellitix access system. The combination proved ideal for quick and secure access and offered real time insight in attendance numbers for each venue part of the festival.” He continues, “Festivals showed great interest in adopting RFID for both access control and on-site payment, but many of them seem to be holding out for further developments which will make RFID or NFC solutions easier to implement and more secure. The biggest challenge lies in creating robust on-site temporary data infrastructures needed for the required reliability. Focusing on this area will help the festivals implement these technologies to their full potential. The customer group currently most active in embracing the technology are the big brands incorporating RFID wristbands in their marketing campaigns. Linking individual RFID wristbands to social media profiles allows for a unique user experience. We have seen 2,000% growth compared to last year and expect to see further growth next year.” Most participants in this year’s survey admit they didn’t use any new technologies during their 2012 activities, but nearly a fifth of respondents launched mobile apps allowing their customers to keep up to date with what was happening at their festival and elsewhere individual events integrated new systems such as CCTV, e-ticketing and one festival even provided a Wi-Fi network onsite.
VIP Although the majority of festivals surveyed (70%) do not, as yet, offer members of the public VIP camping upgrade packages, the growing importance of that lucrative niche is apparent among the number of events that have introduced those premium priced tickets. Ironically, more than one in five (22%) of festivals that offer VIP tickets report that those tickets now
Doesn’t Affect Profitability
55.9% Somewhat Important
How Important are VIP Packages?
Small Festivals Remain Buoyant in UK The festival sector has done surprisingly well this year, according to UK-based ticket company WeGotTickets, which is reporting overall static figures despite considerable cancellations and problems affecting summer events. In a survey of the 700 festivals that the company provides ticketing for, WeGotTickets found some encouraging responses. It sold the same amount of tickets for the biggestselling festivals as it did in 2011, with sales for the top 10 festivals up by 22%. Meanwhile, sales for the top 20 events were up 10% and the top 30 stayed the same. The amount of smaller festivals on the ticket company’s books doubled from last year and branched out into spoken word; comedy; food and drink; and arts festivals. Because of this, the so-called tail (those festivals outside of WeGotTickets top 100 sellers) increased by 32% in sales and doubled in length, despite many of these smaller festivals selling in lower numbers. However, WeGotTickets founder Dave Newton says the company had to work a lot harder in terms of marketing to sell the top festivals this year. The company believes
it got a bigger share of a smaller pie, as the top festivals either sold out later or sold less tickets overall. Last year, WeGotTickets sent three mailshots to its entire database in the lead up to the festival season, with regionally targeted mailshots to the top 50-60 selling festivals. In 2012, it expanded marketing to include promotion via social media platforms and Spotify playlists to aid fans in the discovery of different festivals. But, mirroring IQ’s European Festival Report 2012 findings, the difficulties facing festivals this summer are all too apparent and WeGotTickets had 12 official cancellations, half of which were new to the company. Undoubtedly, the falling sales of some festivals were attributed to the Olympics, but the market remained largely stagnant. “This has been a challenging year for much of the festival industry, but we’ve worked hard to combat this through engaging with our festival fans,” says Newton. “By next festival season the WeGotTickets customer base will have grown by a further 250,000, offering a very diverse audience for our festival clients to market to.”
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account for between 10-20% of their entire audience. Keeping the VIP packages slightly more exclusive, 47% of those who offer such packages report that the holders of those passes amount to less than 5% of their total audience, while a healthy 31% of events say their VIP camping upgrades are taken up by between 5-10% of the fans who attend their festival. Interestingly, more than half of the surveys who chose to comment on VIP camping believe it does not affect profitability. However, those who have actually introduced upgraded camping facilities beg to differ: 6% say it is ‘very important’ for their bottom lines, while those who ticked the ‘somewhat important’ or ‘important’ tabs totalled 38% of respondents. That resounding thumbs-up from those who have premium priced tickets will undoubtedly prompt other festivals to consider upgrading parts of their camping facilities for future weekenders, as well-heeled maturing music fans look for at least a modicum of creature comforts at the events they attend. Among those events that ramped up their VIP packages in 2012 were OpenAir St. Gallen (Switzerland) which introduced an RFID cashless payment system for VIPs; Heineken Balaton Sound (Hungary) – improved VIP caravan camping service; and Gurtenfestival (Switzerland) – cashless payment system at the VIP and backstage area. Meanwhile, those planning improvements to their VIP offerings in 2013 are Mighty Sounds (Czech Republic), Festival Week-end au bord de l’eau (Switzerland), Couleur Café (Belgium) and Bloodstock Open Air (UK). The importance of those moves to improve what events offer to their clientele cannot be overstated. “Every year is a fresh challenge,” says AIF co-founder Rob da Bank, both for his own Bestival and Camp Bestival gatherings, as well as the wider festival market in Europe. “You cannot take your eye off the
ball,” he states. “There are always things you can improve upon and elements you can introduce to keep things fresh and make sure that you are catering to your audience, because if you don’t, then there will be some other festival somewhere else that will soon be welcoming your former fans to their site.” That point is not missed and the vast majority of festivals that took part in this year’s survey were keen to highlight improvement plans. For their 2012 festival editions, for example, T in the Park (UK) introduced “a new entertainment zone; new campers entrance; change of location for luxury camping; and the addition of cabaret, comedy and burlesque entertainment.”. Sziget (Hungary) erected a ferris wheel for attendees; Wacken Open Air (Germany) added “an 8-pylon pagoda tent called Bullhead City Circus in which two stages were placed”; while Festi’neuch Neuchâtel Openair (Switzerland) built a second platform on the lake “where we had a very nice cocktail bar.” Not to be outdone, Roskilde (Denmark) focused on improving its catering quality with “local food, quality of food and ecological food.” Finland’s Ruisrock also noted food services and accessibility as “two focus points”, while in the same country, Nummirock even went as far as to offer a rentable sauna, which it says “was a great success.” Needless to say, the list of tweaks to festival sites and programmes ahead of 2013 could fill all the pages of this report, hinting that most promoters are optimistic that their audience will remain loyal, for another year, at least. Summing up, despite some festival closures, cancellations and postponements during 2012 and a general air of despondency, there’s no sign that the paying public are ready to turn their back on getting their musical fix in the great outdoors. Glastonbury’s 140,000 tickets sold out in record time ahead of next year’s event, while Wacken Festival in Germany sold out for the eighth year in a row, with all 75,000 tickets snapped up a full year in advance.
Participating Festivals A Campingflight to Lowlands Paradise (NL), Area 4 (DE), Arezzo Wave Love (IT), Beach Break Live (UK), Bloodstock Open Air (UK), Blue Balls (CH), Burn Selector (PL), Cactusfestival (BE), Chiemsee Reggae Summer (DE), Coke Live Music (PL), Colours of Ostrava (CZ), Cornbury (UK), Couleur Café (BE), Download (UK), Efes Pilsen One Love (TR), Ejekt (GR), Exit (RS), Festi’neuch Neuchâtel Openair (CH), Internacional de Benicàssim (ES), Week-end au bord de l’eau (FR), Gods Of Metal (IT), Green Man (UK), Gurtenfestival (CH), Heineken Balaton Sound (HU), Heineken Jammin (IT), Heineken Jazzaldia (ES), Heineken Open’er (PL), HellFest (FR), Highfield (DE), Hurricane (DE), Ilosaarirock (FI), Indian Summer (NL), INmusic (HR), Into The Great Wide Open (NL), Jelling Musikfestival (DK), Lake Side Blues/Puistoblues (FI), Larmer Tree (UK), M’era Luna (DE), Mighty Sounds (CZ), Nozstock (UK), Nummirock (FI), OpenAir St.Gallen (CH), Øya (NO), Paléo Nyon (CH), Peace & Love (SE), Pitch (NL), Positivus (LV), Primavera Sound (ES), Provinssirock (FI), Pukkelpop (BE), Rabarock (EE), Reading (UK), Riverboat Jazz (DK), Rocco del Schlacko (DE), Rock for People (CZ), Rolling Stone Weekender (DE), Roskilde (DK), Ruisrock (FI), Secret Garden Party (UK), Shambala (UK), SolFest (UK), Solidays (FR), Southside (DE), Suikerrock (BE), Summer Sundae Weekender (UK), SummerDays (CH), SummerJam (DE), Sunrise Celebration (UK), Sweden Rock (SE), Sziget (HU), Szin (HU), T in the Park (UK), Taksirat (MK), Tønder (DK), Umbria Jazz (IT), Umsonst & Draussen (DE), Volt (HU), Wacken Open Air (DE), Wakestock (UK), Wychwood (UK).
AIF survey participants Bearded Theory, Beat-Herder, Belladrum, Bestival, Bingley Music Live, Camp Bestival, Cornbury, Deer-Shed, End of the Road, Field Day, Folk on the Water, Glasgowbury, Greenbelt, Green Man, In the Woods, LeeFest, London Green Fair, London Summer Jam, Secret Garden Party, Shambala, Summer Sundae, Stockton Weekender, SWN, Tramlines, Truck, Y-Not.
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Agency at 25
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Agency at 25
25 Years Of…
As the 25th ILMC draws closer, Christopher Austin looks back at the last quarter of a century to chart the evolution of the agency business… Only 175 executives attended the first ILMC back in 1988, but being strangers, they lined up single file to register and the queue stretched out the door of the hotel and around the block. The ILMC and live industry have changed significantly since then, but many of its most formidable figures remain, not least among the agents. Looking back, ILMC founder Martin Hopewell recalls that when he launched the conference, the reaction of some of his fellow agents was less than enthusiastic. “An agent’s stock-in-trade was the contacts that you had and to unveil them all and introduce them to everyone else – it was almost like showing people where the strings were. It took the agents a while to start coming,” he says. Countless agents have become involved in ILMC over its quarter-century history, some attending every single one. Among those ‘platinum members’ are Dave Chumbley at Primary Talent, Paul Franklin at CAA, Martin Horne at X-ray Touring, and both Carl and Andrew Leighton-Pope of the Leighton-Pope Agency. Those perennial major players, and countless other agents, are perfectly placed to judge just how far the agency business has come since that inaugural ILMC and in what ways it has remained stubbornly unmoved. In his 48th year in the business, Barry Dickins is the director of International Talent Booking and one of the elder statesmen of the industry. In the 60s, Dickins was busy booking the likes of Jimi Hendrix into the Upper Cut club in Forest Gate and organising the Maximum R&B nights at the Marquee Club, featuring The Who. Over the years he has become one of the most respected agents in the business, counting Diana Ross, Neil Young and Bob Dylan among his clients. Looking back at how the role of an agent has changed since his career kicked off in 1964, Dickins says the business
was totally different. “It was sex, drugs and rock and roll. Now at my age, I don’t have any of them,” he laughs. He bemoans the fact that there are fewer characters in the business these days and that too much business is done via email, but he is pleased to have seen agents become more professional and technology enable increased access to information. “Too many people rely on email and don’t pick up the phone. To finalise a negotiation you need to speak to someone face-to-face. Skype is a wonderful thing; you can negotiate with promoters and see if they have passion or not. That is what I want, I want to work with people that love music,” he says.
Soaring Fees Dickins has not only seen technology transform the business, but the evolution in the way in which artist fees have been calculated. “When I started, an artist had a fee and it didn’t matter where they played, they got their fee. So if you had a fee of £1,000 you got it no matter whether you played a 500-capacity or 10,000-capacity venue,” he recalls. “In the early days, you could be told a venue had a 5,000 capacity, only to get there and find out that they had sold 10,000 tickets; you had no protection. Now the artist is heavily protected and they get the amount of money due, which is part of our job.” The 10% agent commission is still regarded as standard, but the way in which a fee is worked out changed many years ago, almost by accident, from a flat fee to a percentage of box office receipts. When promoters would baulk at paying a flat, guaranteed fee for certain acts, agents were forced to come up with a solution to compensate. Thus the percentage system,
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Agency at 25
that now dominates the business, evolved fairly quickly. Hopewell recalls playing a part in its creation many years ago. “We started to get playful with the percentages, there was a group of (not very good) ex-arts students like me, who didn’t have calculators, sitting down and cooking these deals up. But the key change was probably when we came up with the idea of a percentage of the net profits rather than just the gross door receipts. That was like opening Pandora’s Box, as it involved agents having knowledge of - and eventually a say in - the promoters’ costs and profit margins. It all became almost carved in stone and has been passed on by agents around the world as ‘the way things are done’,” he says. While the methods of calculating agent income have remained largely unchanged, the amount of money leading artists can command has risen steeply. “Even allowing for inflation, the fees when I was starting out aren’t anything close to what you can get now for an established act. Support fees are roughly the same but headline fees have gone up by hundreds of per cent,” Hopewell says. Solo Agency founder John Giddings is among those who feel that those fees are becoming unrealistic. “Ticket sales are 20% down because of the recession but no one is reducing their fees accordingly. If fees fall, ticket prices will fall; we need to be more sensible nowadays because it is much harder out there,” he says. “We never have contracts with our artists and that is a good thing. If you don’t want to be working with each other, you shouldn’t be.” – Rense van Kessel, Friendly Fire
“We don’t want to work for artists anymore unless we have an agency agreement with them. It is a challenge to get artists we already work with to sign, but new artists must have an agreement for us to represent them on an exclusive basis.” – Rob Berends, Paperclip Agency
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A Need for Contracts? Something that has not changed since ILMC first opened its doors, and has been a point of considerable consternation ever since, is a lack of formal agreements between artists and agents. With no money changing hands when an agent signs an artist, some lawyers have insisted a contract is not required. But, more to the point, without any kind of cross industry agreement, agents themselves have historically been reluctant to insist on contracts in the knowledge that an act could quickly and easily find someone else that doesn’t require such paperwork. As a result, the vast majority of agents work with artists bound merely by a gentleman’s agreement, a handshake and minimal paperwork. It means that artists can change agents almost overnight. Dickins has been working with Neil Young since 1968 and has never had a contract with him. Considering the nature of the business he believes that agency agreements are not feasible. “It is like football, if a player doesn’t want to play for a club, what can you do? You move him on or he moves himself on,” Dickins states. “I have gained and lost acts that way. Artists switch managers and they have other agent loyalties, it is a constant thing that happens in this game. Very few agents I know have contracts.” Someone who does insist on formal agreements with his artists is Dutch agent Rob Berends. “Generally, North American agents do have agency agreements with their artists and the Europeans don’t, but that has changed for us,” he says. “We don’t want to work for artists anymore unless we have an agency agreement with them. It is a challenge to get artists we already work with to sign, but new artists must have an agreement for us to represent them on an exclusive basis.” Berends adds, “There is no point in trying to force someone to work with you if you don’t get along anymore. But an agreement gives you some rights if they want to terminate. It enables you to negotiate and that is good and fair. I dislike the idea that an agent should work for nothing, do three times as much as they did in the Eighties and have no rights whatsoever.” The Paperclip Agency’s approach is one that many agents would like to introduce and Berends says it has proved effective on a number of occasions. “In the past, an artist owed us money and we were able to sue them here in Europe before they left and had a bailiff impound their passports and flight tickets. We also did it when an artist and a US sub-agent were conspiring against us to withhold our money and we sued in the US on the basis of a European agreement and we won,” he says. Fellow Dutchman Rense van Kessel takes a rather different view; he believes not having an agency agreement can be advantageous. At Friendly Fire, Van Kessel works as an agent for domestic acts booking shows within The Netherlands while also promoting international acts around the world. “We never have contracts with our artists and that is a good thing. If you don’t want to be working with each other, you shouldn’t be. Also, if there is no contract, it means it never expires and often artists don’t consider leaving you. When an artist has a contract with a label for two albums it
Agency at 25
our clients. The legal profession in London was vehemently against it – they insisted artists did not need an agency agreement. So all of us in the end have had to run our business on a handshake, there is no security,” says Leighton-Pope. With contracts remaining absent, Leighton-Pope has seen the agent business become ruthlessly competitive over the past 25 years. “The business is more cut-throat for sure and the bigger the act becomes, the more fraught with danger it becomes. I represent Michael Bublé and I know at least two UK agents have already contacted his management,” he says. Leighton-Pope was present at the first ILMC and distinctly recalls having a heated debate with an American agent looking to book directly into Europe. US agencies such as William Morris, ICM and CAA had begun to take an increasing interest in Europe as the number of quality venues increased. In time, the US operators carved major inroads into the market and helped change the face of the agency business.
“It is lovely not to be the shit on the shoes of the record companies anymore. At my age it is great to be in the position that we are in.” – Paul Boswell, Free Trade Agency “Somewhere along the line record companies were living off the fat of the land and agents decided to go it alone and nobody paid much attention until suddenly the live income started meaning a lot more.” – John Giddings, Solo Agency is natural for them to start thinking what shall I do after I have done the two albums. Without that sort of deal in place the relationship naturally progresses,” he says.
Fierce Rivalry A key figure at ILMC since its inception, and one of the industry’s best known agents, Carl Leighton-Pope has made a considerable impact since he started back in 1972. Over the years he has worked with a long line of artists including Dire Straits, Patti Smith, Van Morrison, Michael Bublé and Bryan Adams, the latter staying loyal since 1984. Despite his relationship with Adams withstanding the test of time, Leighton-Pope is among many agents that would like to see agreements introduced. “We tried several times to bring all the agencies together and discuss how we could contract
Miami-based promoter Phil Rodriguez at Water Brother Productions has attended ILMC on many occasions and has seen the industry transform itself, with US agents booking into the UK being just part of its globalisation. “You also have The Agency Group operating in the USA and quite successfully, so at the end of the day it is still about who is building a better mouse trap,” he says. The Agency Group’s Tobbe Lorentz is based in Malmö, Sweden. During his 15 years in the game, he has seen many new markets open up. “You can truly work globally now; you couldn’t really do that when I started. Some of my artists are Scandinavian because I come from that background, but most are international and I represent all my artists everywhere overseas outside North America,” he says. Despite the new opportunities in far-flung corners of the globe, like the majority of his contemporaries, Lorentz has not been tempted to work with sub-agents. “I like to deal with the source directly, the person taking the risk, wherever they are. You learn by trial and error when to trust a promoter. You need to get on the phone and have a lengthy conversation and make sure they answer a few key questions properly. Then you check their track record and whether you know anyone that has worked with them. That’s a good start – that and a 100% deposit upfront,” he laughs. The leap from rotary phones to smart phones, faxes to email, and paper to PC has transformed the way agents work, not least when it comes to researching and communicating with promoters. “When you tried to do deals via phone and fax with South America it was difficult, these days they are all on Blackberries and iPhones. Then again, everything has been speeded up so much and the amount people try to do is overwhelming sometimes,” Lorentz says. Berends agrees that the increased workload and technological advances can result in information overload. “It drives us crazy. You are expected to send people too much information because they think it is so easy. That is a very
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Agency at 25 Bryan Adams
“To finalise a negotiation you need to speak to someone face-to-face. Skype is a wonderful thing; you can negotiate with promoters and see if they have passion or not.” – Barry Dickins, ITB “Even allowing for inflation, the fees when I was starting out aren’t anything close to what you can get now for an established act. Support fees are roughly the same but headline fees have gone up by hundreds of per cent.” – Martin Hopewell, ILMC big disadvantage of technology; everything is left until the last minute, there is too much information exchanged and people don’t read it properly any more.”
Hard Work Paul Franklin at Creative Artists Agency is an ILMC platinum member and believes agents are now working harder than at any time in his long career. “You have to be more proactive now and diversify by offering a wider range of service to your clients rather than just booking a show,” says Franklin. “Another big change is that artists now have so many outlets to share their music, which was so difficult in the early days,” he continues. The internet has enabled many more artists to make their music available to many more people. It has also revolutionised music discovery, and agents now have to react to news of a hot new act faster than ever. Rob Challice at Coda has been in the business since 1988 and worked with artists including Nirvana and Young Gods. He receives recommendations from the US and reveals that he often takes a punt on an act without first seeing them live. “I wouldn’t have Bon Iver or Beirut on my roster if I had
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waited until I saw them live. Agents are tipped off earlier and expected to make a decision earlier,” he says. Free Trade Agency’s Paul Boswell says that the huge increase in artists makes it much harder to break a new act. “Twenty years ago, an agent would know who most of the acts were, but now there are tens of thousands of acts. There are a lot more shows and ticket sales these days but the increase in artists is exponential compared to all the other increases. It is a very different market.” The advent of social media and the rise in competition has meant new artists need to be adept self-publicists both online and off, Boswell says. “Thirty years ago artists walked off stage, into the dressing room and opened a bottle of booze. These days, if you are a breaking artist, you are more likely to walk back to the dressing room, have a glass of water and go outside to sign records. Audiences demand a lot more contact now,” he says. Andrew Leighton-Pope, son of Carl, started making tea at his father’s company 27 years ago. He has come a long way since and is one of the industry’s leading agents. Like his father, he is a platinum member of the ILMC. Andrew represents upand-coming band Fearless Vampire Killers and has been blown away by their commitment to communicating with fans. “They are becoming very hot, very quickly, and are the first band I have worked with that have annihilated social networking; they are astonishing. Every day one of them blogs, Twitters or posts something on Facebook and it works. Social media enables young acts to get to a much higher level much quicker than in the past.”
Power Shift The internet has rocked record companies to their foundations and as their income diminished significantly – and the live business remained strong – there has been something of a power shift. But many veteran agents, including Giddings, can remember a time when agents worked within record companies such as Chrysalis and Charisma. “Somewhere along the line record companies were living off the fat of the land and agents decided to go it alone and nobody paid much attention until suddenly the live income started meaning a lot more,” Giddings reports. Record labels now not only look for advice from agents, but a way to regain a foothold in the live market. “I told Virgin records it didn’t matter when they released an Iggy Pop album because they were coming to see Iggy Pop not to hear the new album. The world has turned on its head,” Giddings says. Reduced record label revenue has seen the amount of tour support diminish and less acts being signed, with the result that agents now often get involved with artists way before a record company. “Labels now wait until an act is at the Shepherds Bush Empire level before they come knocking because they want to make sure you have it all delivered. Which begs the question; why do you need a label?” says Andrew Leighton-Pope. Boswell, who has been in the agency game for 34 years, speaks for the majority of agents when he admits to being pleased that the power balance has shifted away from labels in favour of the live business. “It is lovely not to be the shit on the shoes of the record companies anymore. At my age it is great to be in the position that we are in.”
The various adversaries of the Caped Crusader in ‘Batman Live’
Extending the Family Capturing public imagination with a new family show is no easy feat in the hi-tech 21st century, meaning that launching a production can involve massive investment. But as Gordon Masson learns, there’s no shortage of speculation in this booming business… Family shows have established themselves as a lucrative part of the live entertainment market in recent years, but whereas a decade ago there was just a handful of global brands, the success of the sector is now seeing scores of competing productions trying to prise their way into the minds – and wallets – of the paying public. Perennial favourites, such as the many Disney on Ice and Cirque du Soleil extravaganzas, continue to wow audiences around the world. But with technology allowing more and more elaborate special effects, the cost of developing new shows is escalating rapidly and, therefore, the risk of investing time and money in unproven productions is similarly increasing. One such newcomer is the arena show Peter Pan: The Never Ending Story, into which Belgian promoters Music Hall have reportedly invested €12million on a spectacular set
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with some never-seen-before technology to impress the ticketbuying audience, including a wind turbine that allows the central character to ‘fly’ without the aid of a harness. Despite that monumental risk, Music Hall CEO Geert Allaert reveals that his company has already recouped a large chunk of that money. “We have 12 people at Music Hall who concentrate on sales and in our home markets of Belgium and the Netherlands we have a lot of companies who have already bought blocks of tickets, so sales are already at 90,000 seats for Brussels alone,” says Allaert, explaining that the likes of banks, the national railway and other institutions buy tranches of tickets as incentives for personnel and clients alike. Featuring contemporary songs by the likes of Robbie Williams, Duran Duran, Rod Stewart and Seal, Peter Pan makes its debut in December at the Music Hall-owned Forest National
arena in Brussels. The production is then set to tour UK arenas next summer and other European venues throughout 2013 and beyond. Allaert adds, “We are hoping to sell 150,000 tickets in Brussels by the end of the year. If we can do that, then I believe we should certainly be able to sell 30,000 in London – but our target for London, when we visit, is 100,000 tickets.” Despite mixed reviews from critics and fans alike, Batman Live is going strong in North America having concluded a European tour earlier this year. Executive producer Nick Grace of Nick Grace Management says, “It was a struggle, given the economy in Europe, but the plan for Batman Live was always that it was going to be a five-year tour. The North American tour is open ended and we’d like to stay there as long as possible - things are going really well.” Grace is also associate producer of Mamma Mia! and reveals that, after a year-long break, the show will return to arenas in 2013. “It has now played in 35 countries to 4.3m people and its popularity doesn’t seem to diminish - one in four households in the UK own the Mamma Mia! DVD, for instance - so we’re expecting good business when we go back on the road with that next year.”
Experience Matters One of the longest established operations in the family entertainment sector is American company Feld Entertainment, which has been involved in the business for 45 years and has a long history with the Disney franchises. Feld’s senior vice-president, international, Robert McHugh, says the bite of the recession is sharper in some countries than in others. “We have two Disney on Ice and two Disney Live shows out in Europe and we can see that there is a slight downturn there because of the economy,” says McHugh. “We’re also seeing that Japan has not fully recovered from last year’s tsunami and earthquake. We have shows in Japan for about 28 weeks a year and we’re noticing a downturn there, while in Australia, where we had a record run in 2011, we can see that sales there are slightly down too.” But McHugh states that while other ventures might cut back in challenging times, Feld is continuing to expand internationally. “Latin America has been particularly strong, especially Brazil and Argentina, which has been a pleasant surprise, while we also went to South Africa for the first time this year and sold more than 100,000 tickets in Johannesburg and Capetown and we’ll look to expand to Durban when we return next year.” Elsewhere, Feld’s Monster Jam only clocked up five events in 2012, but the company is hoping to jack that up to between ten and 20 shows next year. When it comes to taking a successful idea and developing it, there can be few operations that can boast the number of hits that Cirque du Soleil has on its roster. The Canadian company now has 20 productions either touring or in residence at key venues around the world. Indeed, in Pollstar’s chart of worldwide tours, based on number of tickets sold, Cirque du Soleil had no fewer than five shows in the top 50 for the first nine months of 2012, with Michael Jackson: The Immortal, their top show with over one million tickets sold. In fact, in Pollstar’s half-year data, that show had total receipts of $78.5m (€61m).
Finn Taylor, senior vice-president touring shows for Cirque du Soleil says, “When you have Michael Jackson you expect a certain level of success, but we’ve been pleasantly surprised about how long that has kept going.” The Immortal show recently made its debut in London and Taylor says it will tour through Europe until next summer. The company is also launching Quidam in European arenas in August 2013, while Cortao has just begun its first tour in Germany. Taylor says that despite economic woes, the company has enjoyed a record year, in Europe and the Middle East. However, the most startling business experienced by Cirque Du Soleil in 2012 was its inaugural visit to finance-ravaged Greece. “We completely exceeded our expectations in Greece,” reports Taylor. “We had a lot of cooperation from the Canadian government who provided us with contacts in the commercial world and we had great sponsorship support, but we sold 20 to 25% more tickets in Greece than we anticipated – we were amazed by the reaction.” Asked what he attributed such success to, in a country where unemployment has now broached the 25% mark, Taylor observes, “If people are having money problems they might forego a vacation, but they still seem to want to treat themselves to an entertaining night out.”
Hi-Tech Productions Not quite as long in the tooth as Feld or Cirque (although its star turns are, literally, prehistoric) is global smash Walking With Dinosaurs, which returned to Europe after a three-year hiatus this autumn (see page 44). Produced by Global Creatures, the arena show has broken box office records around the world and shows no sign of abating. Not content with that blockbuster, Global Creatures executive producer Angela Dalton reveals that the company has recently started rehearsals for its production of box office smash War Horse, in conjunction with the National Theatre of Great Britain. “War Horse opens in Melbourne on New Year’s Eve and tickets are also on sale for Sydney and Brisbane,” says Dalton. “We’re hoping to extend the Australian tour to other key cities as well as launching seasons in New Zealand and throughout Asia next year.” Perhaps the most eagerly awaited show internationally, however, is Global Creatures’ new musical King Kong, which has been in the planning for a number of years now. “It’s had an extensive research and development programme, including a number of creative and performance workshops to evaluate and fine-tune the production,” comments Dalton. Tickets
e completely exceeded our W expectations in Greece… If people are having money problems they might forego a vacation, but they still seem to want to treat themselves to an entertaining night out.
Finn Taylor, Cirque du Soleil
November 2012 IQ Magazine | 37
for the opening date in Melbourne on 15 June are already on sale and if Dalton’s enthusiasm is anything to go by, the audience will not be disappointed. Global Creatures’ CEO and Kong producer Carmen Pavlovic says, “There have been a number of King Kong movies, but this live stage adaptation, featuring a unique blend of 1930’s classic tunes with original songs, is a first. Our animatronics division in Melbourne has vast experience working on shows like Walking With Dinosaurs and How To Train Your Dragon, but what they have created for King Kong is astonishing – a six-metre tall, one-tonne silverback gorilla. It’s a very ambitious project, but we’ve got a great script and an incredible cast. It looks truly amazing and being able to sit in the theatre and see that cast perform during one of our recent workshops was fantastic.” Elsewhere, How To Train Your Dragon is touring venues in the United States, while Global Creatures is also working with Baz Luhrmann on its adaptation of his movie Strictly Ballroom ahead of its live debut later in 2013. The importance of such productions to venue operators has never been higher, making family entertainment a constantly evolving and fascinating sector. Geoff Huckstep, chairman of the UK’s National Arenas Association counts three main reasons why family shows are so popular with arena management. “The fact that they come along every year is fantastic – it helps us have bookings in the calendar that we can depend on,” he says. “Secondly, the shows all tend to change their formats – with Strictly Come Dancing or wrestling, for instance, it might just involve different participants, but even the likes of Disney on Ice will mix it up, so that the show might be based on all the Disney princesses one year and then Toy Story the next.” Arguably the most important aspect of family shows visiting arenas, is their role in introducing live entertainment to children. Huckstep adds, “Those 8 to 10 year olds are our future audience for the likes of One Direction shows and other acts as they get older, so family shows are a hugely important part of an arena’s make up.”
From Ice Shows to Ice Age Another new show on the circuit is Ice Age Live! A Mammoth Adventure, which made its debut at Cardiff Motorpoint Arena in Wales on 19 October. Caspar Gerwe, CEO of Stage Entertainment Touring Productions is confident
hose 8 to 10 year olds are our T future audience for the likes of One Direction shows and other acts as they get older, so family shows are a hugely important part of an arena’s make up.
eoff Huckstep, G National Arenas Association
38 | IQ Magazine November 2012
that this latest production will prove a hit internationally, despite some challenging economic circumstances. “It’s difficult to speak in broad terms about the health of the business across continents, but when it comes to our home markets in Europe, things have not changed that much compared to last year – it is a very challenging situation,” he observes. “People are being very careful about where they spend their money – they’re buying tickets later for shows and they’re buying less tickets across the board – family shows, theatre, and pop and rock – but if you can put on a unique show then people are still willing to buy tickets and price is not so much of an issue.” Feld’s McHugh is experiencing similar sales patterns and comments, “It’s hard to forecast your business when the sales trends are changing. In a lot of markets we go on sale nine to 12 months in advance, but people just aren’t buying that far in advance now.” Indeed, Gerwe details a strategic rethink by Stage Entertainment. “We’re doing less weeks on tour compared to the past to optimise the model in some countries, but we’re finding we can still do very good business that way,” he says. “In general, we’re doing less ice shows now and more non-ice shows. The know-how and experience we have from our ice show background is helping us with other events. We have our own distribution channel and do our own promotion, so this is a strategic move we started last year to use on other shows.” Turning to the company’s latest venture, Gerwe says, “Ice Age Live is a big arena show with a new story line, new characters and new songs. We’re working with fantastic people, such as Michael Curry, who has developed the new characters, and the show will tour for five years visiting all continents. The first three years will be in Europe, South America and Asia and we’re very optimistic about this production.” Stage Entertainment’s chief content officer Peter O’Keeffe discloses that the company has different strategies for its arena shows and theatre productions. “Our main focus, for all shows, is on long running productions, be that Ice Age Live or Speed at arena-level or Lion King or Little Mermaid in theatres,” says O’Keeffe. “But putting a show into an 1,800-capacity theatre for five years is very different from touring a show around arenas internationally.” He adds, “There’s always a danger that you can lose focus if you take on too many shows, so you don’t want to move on to the next project until what you are working on is fully bedded in – big shows like Ice Age Live need a lot of love and nurturing.” In addition to Ice Age Live in arenas, Stage Entertainment is just about to launch Rocky the musical in Hamburg, Germany, while ice show Speed is returning for a second year of European shows and an arena show version of Madagascar Live is set to launch in January as part of a nine-week UK tour, before travelling to South America and then back to Europe. “Our new business model launched about 18 months ago and I’m very happy with the way it is going,” says Gerwe. “We’re set up as a promoter in our home markets so we can bring in shows from other producers. So we’re doing Mamma Mia! across 22 cities in France and that’s going very well: people really appreciate the show coming to them rather than
having to travel to Paris to see it. We plan to develop our strategy more and more and in Germany and France we hope to have one or two shows at a time touring at arena-level.”
lot of the new shows that are A coming might find the same issues that we experienced when we went international in the 1980s, so they will have to be in it for the long haul.
Reliable Merch Sales With a roster of kids’ shows including The Gruffalo, Angelina Ballerina, and The Tiger Who Came To Tea, UKbased Shelton International director Steve Lovering is not shy about the company’s reasons behind being in the sector. “Selling merchandise is why we do the shows,” he admits. “Every kid wants something in their hands and we’re only too happy to supply that item. It used to be balloons, but theatres would have to spend forever shooting them down from the roof, so one of our biggest sellers these days is simply a felt pennant caricature on a stick that all get waved when the villain comes on stage.” Currently, Shelton’s production of The Gruffalo is entertaining children three times a day in the UK, but it’s set to travel to Hong Kong, Singapore and the Philippines, as well as Canada and America in 2013. The company also had a sell-out tour with The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in the UK and Lovering says the long tail of merch sales for that was remarkable. “We got orders from all over the world for our Hitchhiker’s Guide merch, but typically we saw that people unable to make it to the show in each town were still coming to our website three weeks after the show had left their local theatre.” Belgian promoter Fire Starter handles the Cirque du Soleil tours that pass through the territory, but managing director Manu Braff highlights a new show that is causing waves throughout Europe: Nitro Circus Live. “The show is blended from an MTV television show and has millions of followers on Facebook and the likes. There have been a number of freestyle and extreme sports shows that have attempted to tour, but the difference is that this is a real brand and we’ve nearly sold out the Sportspaleis in Antwerp with very little promotion,” he says. “The show is on 30 November, the same day as I have Walking With Dinosaurs opening in Brussels, so I’ll have to be two people on that day,” laughs Braff.
Budgeting Pressures CSB Island Entertainment managing director Carsten Svoldgaard reports that consumers are being more cautious about planning ahead of time for their entertainment fix, with the result that promoters are being forced to spend more money on marketing. Highlighting the same trend flagged up by Gerwe and McHugh, Svoldgaard says, “People are maybe not buying less, but the risk still seems higher because you have to wait longer for the sales. We promote most shows ourselves and when you see that tickets aren’t selling as quickly as you would want, then you spend more money on marketing because you get afraid for the show.” CSB’s hugely successful production ABBA The Show is now in its 12th year and Svoldgaard discloses that although it has now toured 36 countries, there is one glaring omission on the list. “Australia is the biggest market for ABBA in the world, but we haven’t been there yet,” he admits. “In February and
Robert McHugh, Feld Entertainment
March we’re taking the show back to Russia and the United States and then all over Europe. It’s a good, safe production that we can rely on, because it is popular wherever it goes, but I have to push myself to go to Australia to learn what we can do there because the fact we haven’t been is crazy.” Elsewhere, Svoldgaard reveals that CSB is looking to launch two new shows later in 2013: one featuring the music of the Bee Gees and the other being a highlight production of big musical numbers, starring Ria Jones. “Neither show has a confirmed title yet, but we’re planning to launch them in autumn 2013 and hope to take them all over Europe,” he adds. Derek Nicol, joint managing director of Flying Music says that, like most producers and promoters, “2012 has generally been a bit slack.” He continues, “In the theatre world blockbusters, such as the Lion King, are dominating and taking a lot of money out of the rest of the market. There’s definitely a recession on and our demographic have less money in their pocket.” Despite those issues, however,
Flying Music has had a successful year with its Solid Silver 60s Show, which had its 27th annual tour, while in October, four new tours were launched: 10cc, Marty Wilde’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Party, The Manfreds and Green Day’s American Idiot. “American Idiot is a punk musical. It launched in Southampton and the theatre staff say that they hadn’t seen 90% of the audience before,” says Nicol. “We’re promoting the tour with SJM in the UK and we’re hoping to take it to Europe next year and potentially a permanent home in London.” One show that has established itself both in London’s West End and internationally on tour is Thriller Live which celebrates its fifth anniversary in January. And like its compatriots elsewhere in the business, Flying Music is looking to launch new productions in 2013. “We’ll be launching a show called Gotta Sing Gotta Dance in April on a regional tour and we’re also looking to do a first for the company – a Blues Festival for 4,000-5,000 people in December 2013,” adds Nicol. Spirit Productions’ executive producer David King enjoyed a successful 2012 with new production Bohemian Rhapsody – a tribute show to rock act Queen. “With 20 amazing performers live on stage performing Queen’s greatest hits, an amazing rock band, spectacular costumes, the best songs that Queen ever made and you have a show that leaves audiences screaming for more at every single performance,” says King, having sold out theatres in Newcastle and Eastbourne in the UK, Killarney in Ireland and the Monte Carlo Sporting Club in Monaco. Elsewhere, Spirit currently has Jersey Nights doing a 14-week run in the Eldorado Casino in Nevada. The show will then go to the Falls View Casino in Niagara before undertaking a fivemonth UK tour beginning in January, after which it will hopefully tour through Europe.
International Opportunities King’s stable of shows at Spirit Productions now numbers more than 20 and is firmly targeted toward the family sector. And while others are cautious about business in the depths of a recession, he is grasping the opportunity to expand activities internationally. “I have just opened a brand new theatre in Las Vegas, in the New York Casino. This gives my shows prominent exposure on the Las Vegas strip, which is amazing.” And looking further afield, King reveals he is in discussions to develop more of his shows for potentially the biggest marketplace in the world. “We’ve always worked in China, but lately they seem to be craving entertainment – we’ve had a lot of new promoters calling for our shows.”
hen you see that tickets aren’t W selling as quickly as you would want, then you spend more money on marketing because you get afraid for the show.
Carsten Svoldgaard, CSB Island Entertainment
42 | IQ Magazine November 2012
Also making waves in China are the Harlem Globetrotters, thanks to a satellite office that the organisation opened in Beijing in June 2011. “Just this past spring, we announced the largest international sponsorship deal in the history of the team, inking a major partnership with Inner Mongolia Mengniu Dairy Industry (Group) – a manufacturing and distribution company of dairy products in the People’s Republic of China,” Harlem Globetrotters International chief operating officer Jeff Munn tells IQ. “They are partnering with us on our many year-round initiatives in China, including in-game activation and hospitality during shows.” The Globetrotters play upwards of 150 games internationally each year in over 30 countries and Munn reports that 2012 has included some landmark appearances. “We are always looking to bring our unique 86-year brand of family entertainment to as many people as possible. Just this past year, we performed to capacity crowds in Lebanon, the first time we visited there in over two decades – and we played to a sold out crowd in Qatar in our first performance there since 1993.” With family entertainment shows (both at arena- and theatre-level) now a multi-billion Euro industry, it appears that more and more pop and rock promoters are turning to the genre to supplement their revenues. And whereas investment in other areas of the business, such as festivals, are somewhat light in the recession, the companies behind family shows appear more bullish than ever to introduce new brands to the marketplace. “We’ve been working on Peter Pan: The Never Ending Story for four years now and when we started that development process we obviously had no idea about what effect the recession was going to have on the market,” says Music Hall’s Allaert. “We also had no idea about any of the other shows that would be planning to launch, but my philosophy is not to worry about what the competition is up to, but just to make sure you do the best job on your own production. We have really exciting new elements in our production and we have to make sure we are capable of presenting those in the best possible way to our audience.” With so many new productions lined up to debut within the next 12 months, the family entertainment sector has arguably never been more competitive. But rather than fear the new kids on the block, Feld’s McHugh embraces the challenges posed by a crowded marketplace. “We like that there is more competition because it makes us work harder and, as anyone in this business knows, you constantly have to adapt your production and marketing to get people to spend money on tickets for your shows.” But urging the newbies to keep their expectations in check, McHugh says, “More and more promoters now think family entertainment is the way to go and that’s a great compliment to Mr Feld that people want to copy his business model.” He concludes, “A lot of the new shows that are coming might find the same issues that we experienced when we went international in the 1980s, so they will have to be in it for the long haul. They may have to change the content of the show to suit each market, while tickets might have to be priced lower than they would like in the first couple of years until the show establishes itself.”
Best in Show
Best in Show
Best in Show: Walking With Dinosaurs
IQ is delighted to announce that Walking With Dinosaurs (WWD) is the recipient of our inaugural Best in Show Award. The show has already been seen by more than 7 million people worldwide and, with a slew of dates scheduled over the coming months, Gordon Masson recently became one of millions more to witness the prehistoric spectacle… Having a notebook whipped out of your hand by a baby tyrannosaurus rex is an unnerving experience, even when you know that particular performer is human. But such is the artistry and stunning realism of WWD, it’s easy to forget that the beasts that are currently roaming the arena floors of Europe are not actually alive. Originally a BBC television series, Australian entertainment group Global Creatures collaborated with the broadcaster to develop the live show, leaning heavily upon its Melbourne-based animatronics arm, The Creature Technology Company, to breathe life into the all-too realistic stars of the show. Since the production made its debut in 2007, it has clocked up close to 1,800 performances in more than 200 cities around the world and has now been seen by more than 7.5 million people. And counting. The latest tour kicked off in Northern Ireland’s capital city, Belfast, in September and is scheduled to include 367 performances across 36 cities by the time it moves out of Europe at the end of May 2013, entertaining millions of new fans, from toddlers to pensioners.
Demandlipocus Adrian Doyle, general manager of Belfast’s Odyssey Arena, reveals his venue has been working to attract the show since day one. “For a number of reasons we missed out on the first European tour, so to have WWD launch our 2012 autumn schedule was a great way to start the season,” says Doyle. “The audience feedback was brilliant. I’ve got friends who were a bit wary about taking their young children to the show, but they absolutely loved it.” That ringing endorsement is echoed everywhere the dinosaurs stomp. Anne Schinrud, of Schinrud Promotions in Norway, knows the production well having had it at Oslo Spektrum in 2009 and a return, nine-performance visit in early October 2012. “It’s a fantastic show,” she says. “Norway is a
relatively small market, but lots of people were looking forward to it coming back. Hopefully, in two or three years’ time the next generation of dinosaur fans will be eagerly waiting too.” Meanwhile, Barley Arts is ramping up its promo campaign ahead of the show’s return to Italy in March. “We had WWD here in 2010 with 27 shows across three weeks in Milan, Turin and Bologna and more than 110,000 people in total for the audience, which is an astonishing result for the Italian market,” says Barley’s Elena Pantera. “When we had the show in 2010, it was in February and March and we really tried to get it back that summer but the schedule didn’t work out. It turned out that March 2013 was the first time that fitted in with [Global Creatures’] programme, so we’re very excited it is coming back.” The show will again tour through Milan and Turin, but will add Pesaro’s Adriatic Arena for the first time. “There are not many venues in Italy that can handle a production of this size, so, for instance, we cannot take it to Rome but Pesaro has a venue that’s big enough,” says Pantera. Keeping such a massive show on the road requires an army of production people – and arguably some of the fittest crew members you’re ever likely to meet. A total of 27, 73-foot semi-articulated lorries are required to take the prehistoric set and its inhabitants on the road, with the bigger dinosaurs, which can weigh up to 1.6 tonnes, each having its own truck.
Technologous Rex Global Creatures have touring down to a fine art, but the WWD crew can justifiably stake a claim to being one of the hardest working on the circuit. The show takes one and a half days to load in, while load out is down to between four and five hours. And such is the demand for dinosaurs that the schedule is relentless. “Typically, the show travels on a Monday, we load in on a Tuesday, there’s a technical rehearsal on Wednesday and the show opens Wednesday night,” says associate director Cameron Wenn. “Then we
November 2012 IQ Magazine | 45
Best in Show
play Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, before loading out on the Sunday night. But we can have up to three shows on Saturdays and Sundays, so it’s pretty intense.” He adds that the company has invested heavily in certain aspects of the production to make it easier for the crew to deal with. “The set stays the same, no matter the size of arena we visit,” says Wenn. “We also have a $1m floor which uses magnets to click together for quick assembly. So if we’re in a bigger arena, we simply move the seating in to whatever configuration we can, to take up the additional space.” With three hours needed to build each of the show’s ten large dinosaurs and three people needed to operate those machines, the complex animatronics require constant maintenance and there are three permanent engineers on the tour. Additionally, there is also a three-strong team who carry out running repairs on the dinosaur skins. Of course with such sophisticated effects, problems are bound to crop up. “Any number of things can break, especially with the electrical gear and the animatronics,” says show director Scott Faris. “We’ve pretty much been through it all and are able to work through any problems that are thrown at us. Actually, if a dinosaur breaks down and has to be pushed offstage, the audience seems to love it.” Taking the show to so many different territories involves casting local language Huxleys -the paleontologist narrator of the show. “Rehearsing the different Huxleys - there are two for each territory - is a production in itself,” observes Nick Grace, WWD’s general manager and booking agent. “It’s a complicated process getting them ready for the show because of the schedule, but typically if we’re in Denmark we’ll be rehearsing the Huxleys for Norway next and then in Norway we’ll be
Each large dinosaur contains: • • • • • • •
433 feet of hydraulic hose 971 feet of fabric 433 feet of foam 53 gallons of paint 7 kilowatts of power from 12 truck batteries 1,094 yards of cabling 24 microprocessors control movement, along with 15 hydraulic rams and 6 hydraulic motors
Each large dinosaur... •w eighs 1.6 tons (the weight of a standard family car) • runs on 6 roller blade wheels • to operate one dinosaur takes three people: 1 driver and 2 voodoo puppeteers (one operates head and tail gross motion; the other is in charge of minor movements - mouth, blinking and roars)
46 | IQ Magazine November 2012
rehearsing the Finnish Huxleys. Thankfully the Huxleys we used on the last European tour really enjoyed working on the show and, if they are available, we are using those guys again on this tour.” Grace’s relationship also created an opportunity for insurers W&P Longreach to get involved. “Nick Grace is a long time client, so when Walking With Dinosaurs first toured the UK in 2009 we handled insurance for it,” says W&P’s Beverley Hewes. “We now have a direct relationship with [Global Creatures] and provide quotes internationally for them for the show and we’re also in discussions for their productions of War Horse and King Kong.” In addition to the massive dinosaurs are the puppeteers who don the dinosaur suits of the show’s most agile characters – three utahraptors (8 ft tall x 14 ft long), baby T-rex (7 ft x 14 ft) and a liliensternus (7.5 ft x 16 ft). “We do a lot of yoga and Pilates and other ‘prehab’ work to make our bodies more resilient to injury, but it probably takes about two months for your body to physically adapt to the suits, because they are 45 kilograms each,” says suit captain Matt Olver, who explains that because of that weight and the physical impact it has on the puppeteers, time in the suit on stage is limited to 15 minutes maximum. “We have a physiotherapist who tours with us and she is invaluable. We never used to have that on the show, but she gets to know our bodies back to front and that has made a real difference,” comments Olver.
Merchosoarus The show itself is spectacular and the reaction it prompts among the audience is nothing short of remarkable – especially when it comes to parents dipping into their pockets to buy merchandise for their dino-mad offspring. “Merchandise did quite a bit better than we thought it would, but the range and scope of WWD merchandise is pretty impressive,” notes Odyssey Arena’s Doyle. Promoter Manu Braff at Fire Starter in Belgium states, “If it’s anything to do with dinosaurs you can’t go wrong. The queues for merch in the venues are huge and seem to be constant throughout the show, but then, a show about dinosaurs talks
Best in Show
to both adults and kids, so it’s fascinating for everyone.” Angela Dalton, executive producer of WWD states, “We think our merchandise sales are great. It’s interesting to note that different markets buy different things: for instance in Ireland, where money is tight due to the economy, we saw that the cheaper end of the range, such as fibre optic torches, proved very popular, whereas in mainland Europe, apparel sales are higher. But the audience for the show is constantly growing. Dinosaurs are a pretty big business.” At press time, Tor Nielsen at Live Nation Sweden was looking forward to the show rolling back into Stockholm after a three-year absence. WWD has six shows lined up at the Ericsson Globe in the capital city and Nielsen believes the demand in the intervening years is reaching a peak. “The first time WWD visited Sweden there was a sort of dinosaurs mania because the TV show was on at the same time here,” says Nielsen. “But it seems there is now renewed enthusiasm, both scientifically and on an entertainment level for WWD and we relaunched our campaign for the show when the schools restarted here at the end of the summer with the result that tickets are selling very well.” While WWD’s European promoters eagerly await the lucrative show’s arrival in their market, one of the show’s most enthusiastic fans remains its director, Faris. “I’ve been in theatre a long time and had done two shows with dragons before I was approached about WWD. I was a sceptic and, at first, turned down the offer. But they convinced me to visit the workshops and when I saw the first dinosaur they were working on, I was hooked,” says Faris. “The show has evolved a fair bit over the years. The creatures are a lot more hardy and their agility has improved a lot but the actual look of the dinosaurs has changed a bit too as knowledge about dinosaurs has grown.” Dalton believes that attention to detail is important, but concedes that the number of discoveries that are being made about dinosaurs make it difficult to keep up. “We constantly have palaeontologists around the world contacting us to provide updated information,” she says. “It’s such a fast evolving area that we can’t possibly take on all of this data, otherwise we could have an entirely new show built around all the facts that are being uncovered. But we do make subtle changes to the show to reflect certain key discoveries, and
with the successful BBC TV series as our basis, the show has been verified and authenticated by experts.”
Exploitomarketus Although demand for WWD vastly outstrips supply, Wenn reveals that the company has been careful not to overplay its hand when it comes to touring, despite the obvious temptation. “Three years is a decent period of time to be away from a market,” he says. “We target a broad demographic and the show appeals to anyone from three to 93. It’s not a kids’ show, but it’s loved by kids. One of the original producers called it ‘Edutainment’ and I think that sums it up perfectly.” And Wenn believes that central to the entertainment factor is the show’s palaeontologist narrator Huxley and the almost human stories that are woven into the script. “The stories that are told in the show are the same as with any living creature, including humans, and that helps make a connection with anyone who watches it,” observes Wenn. He adds, “We know these creatures existed because we’ve found their bones. But nobody has ever seen them until our show came along.” Odyssey Arena’s Doyle agrees. “There are cleverly reconstructed piles of bones in museums and CGI also give us an idea how dinosaurs may have looked, but until I saw this show I didn’t realise the enormity of these creatures – you don’t need to use much imagination when you see them walking and running around the arena, and audiences love that.” That ability to pique the interest of the public is key to the show’s success and one of the central reasons for WWD winning IQ’s 2012 Best In Show Award. Fire Starter promoter Braff sums up that demand. “WWD is coming for two weeks to the Brussels Expo, starting on 30 November, and I’m really looking forward to it,” he says. “I did WWD at Expo in 2010, then under the guise of Live Nation, and also in 2009 at the Sportspaleis in Antwerp and it was hugely successful – we sold 130,000 tickets between the two venues. Tickets for this run have been on sale since April and are going fantastically – sales are climbing every day.” Doyle concludes, “The number of people who go away from a show like this and tell others about it is one of the reasons it is so successful and we would love to have it back at the Odyssey Arena any time. The sooner, the better.”
November 2012 IQ Magazine | 49
Transport at 25
50 | IQ Magazine November 2012
Transport at 25
Transport 25 Years of…
Fuel prices have soared and regulations have become more complex, but the last quarter of a century has seen the transport sector that supports international touring develop into a sophisticated industry, as Adam Woods reports…
n the summer of 1985, a couple of years before the first edition of the ILMC, standing in a very large European football stadium, Paul Hattin had a vision of a future newly arrived. “It was Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA tour, the second leg, and he was playing these enormous stadiums – places like the San Siro in Milan,” says Hattin, who is now operations manager at rock ‘n’ roll bus firm Phoenix Bussing. “We only had two crew buses, 15 on each bus, but we were suddenly doing stadiums. And at one show, I remember looking around and saying: ‘remember this night, because this is the future of the business now’.” As predicted, the future of the touring business was largescale. And even if the venues couldn’t get much bigger than those Springsteen played in 1985, the music transport sector has only got better, faster and more efficient at moving shows between them, across ever-widening distances, in increasing comfort and invariably at greater profit. Which is all very positive. The downside is that red tape has increased, and the need for precision planning, the penalties for failure, the number of drivers required, and especially the cost of fuel; down have gone the spontaneity, the laughs and the suppliers’ margins. But what we’re left with, all the same, is a mature transport
industry that knows its job, does it well and reflects on the old days with a mixture of nostalgia and pure amazement. “When I think back to what things were like on the road,” marvels Hattin, “there was no health and safety – people climbed up trusses with no harnesses, there was no risk assessment done; people would do it all drunk, lots of times. The whole business has undergone rigorous scrutiny, and transport has changed with the rest of it.”
Coming of Age
t wouldn’t be right to suggest that the professionalisation of the live music transport industry only began in the late-1980s. But it certainly gathered pace, powered by the realisation of just how much money there was out there, and how much stood to be lost if equipment didn’t show up, coaches were late, road crews were separated and shows cancelled. “People used to think it was quite funny when someone didn’t turn up because they had got drunk and been left 200 miles away with some strange girl they had met the night before,” says Hattin.
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Transport at 25
One of Beat The Street’s luxurious tour buses
But in the early-1990s, accountants started coming out on tour and certain jokes suddenly weren’t funny anymore. Another decade later, as recorded music revenues dived and touring money became even more important, things were so serious that few could even remember why they had ever laughed at such shenanigans. “In the last 25 years, the real changes have come,” says Mark Guterres, director of Transam Trucking, which operates Europe’s largest music trucking fleet and recently swallowed EST, the pioneering rock & roll trucking company. “I used to work in my teens as a roadie, and that was very much seat-of-the-pants. You used to get a rental Avis truck and charge off; you might have insurance on it or you might not. Health and safety had never been heard of, and crew meals certainly hadn’t. It was real bandit country then. “25 years ago, that’s when you started to see the influx of some order, because this was the time money really started to come into the touring industry. Clients were earning large amounts and it was in their interests to work at a much more professional level. That’s when we started to have all the health and safety issues, which, being in transport, have always been fairly strictly governed,” says Guterres. That has never applied more so than now, as waves of regulations have fanned out across Europe under EU law, from tachometer-governed driving hours – no more than nine hours a day or 56 hours a week, with a 45-minute rest every four-and-a-half hours – to emission zones and all manner of city taxes.
didn’t care about tachometers, “We and if you made a mistake it
couple of years ago, Beat The Street founder Jörg Philipp memorably observed that “90% of stuff we did when we first started [in 1991], if we did it now they would shoot us. Driving hours, insurance things – nobody cared about anything then. We didn’t care about tachometers, and if you made a mistake it would be a €100 fine. These days, they execute you by the side of the road.” Regulations have a way of only getting tighter, and today Philipp confirms that this is very much the case, though he is content that it is all for the best. “It became much safer,” he says. “The regulations got a bit tighter a few years ago, but we are not suffering from it, because we know now how to handle it: more drivers, double drivers, even triple drivers. We always have to see the positive side, and in the early days, with one driver on a bus, it was always hard to train new drivers – you had to throw them in the deep end sometimes. Now, you take keen, young drivers, use them as double drivers for a few years and they pick up all the experience they need.” Ironically, while traditional grumbles about European integration focus on excessive standardisation, there are those who would welcome a little more, particularly where ad-hoc penalties are concerned. “You find in some countries that it is a local currency generator scheme,” says David Steinberg, owner of trucking company Stardes. “If you don’t have a particular piece of paper, you are looking at a fine of a couple of thousand Euros in some places, and you’re not going anywhere until it’s paid.
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would be a €100 fine. These days, they execute you by the side of the road.
- Jörg Philipp, Beat The Street
They know that your job is likely to be time-sensitive, and they have got you by the short and curlies.” In general, however, Europe is a calmer and more predictable region than it was decades ago. Guterres remembers European jaunts when the itinerary might change from day to day. “You would be doing a tour where, just as you were loading out of Hamburg, someone would say, ‘oh, by the way, you are not going to Frankfurt for Tuesday, you are going to Hanover for tomorrow’, and that would be the new route.”
Mapping The World
he advent of digital on-board systems, the strict drivers’ hours and the vastly increased complexity of touring productions themselves means itineraries are now minutely plotted and submitted by trucking companies along with the original quote for the tour. Such detail becomes all the more important given the expanding touring map, which
now bulges at the edges with all kinds of markets that were simply never on the cards even a decade ago. The Berlin Wall, of course, fell in 1989, and one by one the markets behind it have opened up. Martin Corr, managing director of the London operation of Sound Moves, speaks to IQ from the midst of an operation to move 45 trucks into and out of Azerbaijan. The republic’s leadership has made the country the latest entrant into the international touring circuit, bankrolling shows by Shakira, J.Lo and Rihanna as part of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup. “As the world develops, once commerce is in place and industry starts to take off, the entertainment business follows,” says Corr. “Because of satellite TV and the internet, I’m not sure anywhere is really remote anymore. It’s our first excursion into that part of the world, and the same spirit will eventually sweep up Georgia and the other former Soviet republics, who will presumably eventually become part of the whole touring world.” A sophisticated freight industry operating out of Western Europe clearly gives international acts confidence when they are flying into such areas for the first time. While shipping dates back centuries, air freight isn’t much older than rock ‘n’ roll touring, having been pioneered in that guise by companies such as Rock-it Cargo, starting in the 1970s, when a key pitfall of touring was incurring accidental duty on guitars and drum kits acquired in the US. “We assumed the mantle of the parish priest, almost,” says Rock-it founder Chris Wright. “We had to coerce our customers into confessing what they had been given, come up with nominal valuations and pay the duty on that basis. The first thing they would tell you was, ‘no, I’m not bringing anything in,’ and four hours later they’re confessing to $50,000-worth of equipment, because if it came to light later, the equipment would be seized, there was a heavy fine and you had to pay another sum on top to buy it back from customs.”
Providing Global Coverage
nto the 1980s, Rock-it expanded into New York, Los Angeles and Tokyo, and in the intervening decades the challenges have changed entirely. Customs forces around the world operate in myriad different ways, and all have one concern that far outshadows any amount of duty-dodging. “Our job is probably more difficult now, with the onset of aviation security technology to combat terrorism,” says Wright. “You can no longer pack up after a show, rush to the airport and load onto the first available plane. Everything now has to be examined by X-ray or other means, otherwise it can’t be loaded onto the flight. Meanwhile, customs are no longer 24 hours – they close at 11pm and don’t open again until 6am.” Further complicating matters is the fact that, in the past decade or two, the use of charters for freight and VIP passenger transport has greatly increased. Led Zeppelin hired a former United Airlines Boeing 720 passenger jet, known as The Starship, as far back as 1973, but they were Led Zeppelin, and the practice was far from common. These days, big tours routinely pile all their worldly goods onto two or three 747s, while even medium-sized
A Chapman Freeborn G550 private jet
Transport at 25
now know it is worth “Bands allocating a good amount of
budget to flying private. When people are flying scheduled, coordination becomes a problem…You fly everyone together and you keep control of your logistics.
- Claudette Gharbi, Chapman Freeborn operations often find it cost-effective to ship the talent aboard an executive jet to pack in shows in disparate locations, save on hotel nights and other expenses and fly the band home for rest days. The use of chartered planes for freight can occasionally create unpredictable problems with customs in less-travelled countries, according to Wright. He can still remember the headache incurred when Rock-it was attempting to ship 320 tonnes of cargo into South Korea on three vast Russian Antonovs for Michael Jackson’s HIStory tour in 1996, when local customs would only let them land one at a time. Where possible, prepare the ground well in advance, he advises. “One that our American office is looking after, at the moment, is three 747 charters around South America and the rest of the southern hemisphere,” says Wright. “In a business like ours, you plan ahead and you make the necessary arrangements.”
Jet Set Comfort
here VIP private jets are concerned, the emphasis is overwhelmingly on comfort, particularly towards the top end, where some models offer seated conference areas, living rooms, master bedrooms and shower rooms. “The aviation market has completely revolutionised itself in the past 20 years, with more types of aircraft and cheaper ways to fly,” says Claudette Gharbi, group executive charter director at Chapman Freeborn, who makes a private jet sound virtually indispensable, and cheap as well. “Bands now know it is
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Transport at 25 worth allocating a good amount of budget to flying private,” she says. “When people are flying scheduled, coordination becomes a problem. You can have people flying on different airlines at different times, and it is hard for the tour manager to control. You fly everyone together – and not every band can do it, but there are quite a few – and you keep control of your logistics.” In the baldest terms, the result of 20-odd years of aviation technology advances, is that planes can go a lot further than they used to, bridging distant continents with ease. “Today, in the right plane, you can fly 13 or 14 hours, non-stop,” says Gharbi. “Back then, if you could do eight hours, you were lucky. You would never have been able to fly from the US to South Africa direct before, but you can now. That makes life easier for an artist: it means fewer days on the road, and they are travelling in greater comfort.” That, in turn, means a longer touring career, as older bands reluctant to rough it find they can tolerate the whole business in some style, whether in the air or on deluxe sleeper coaches, which today aren’t much less comfortable than a hotel room, and certainly go a lot faster. “When you get to the top end, the coaches are more like moving hotels now, and far more luxurious than they ever were years ago,” says entertainment industry insurer Martin Goebbels of Robertson Taylor, a veteran of every ILMC and recipient of this year’s Most Professional Professional award. “From an artist’s point of view, you are far more comfortable, and that
now has to be “Everything examined by X-ray or other
means, otherwise it can’t be loaded onto the flight. Meanwhile, customs are no longer 24 hours – they close at 11pm and don’t open again until 6am.
Sound Moves crew for Madonna’s MDNA tour
- Chris Wright, Rock-it Cargo
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means you can travel far longer distances overnight. You are not lying down in the back of a coach; you are in a room of your own with all your comforts arranged around you.” A man who runs 80 coaches, of course, is inclined to agree. Each year, Beat The Street constructs six new vehicles from scratch. Between the drivers and the clients, there are always ideas for little improvements, but it has been a while since top-level coach travel was a hardship. “The big step was taken ten years ago, where you went away from your carpeted tourist bus with a few bunks to something a lot more comfortable,” says Philipp. “There are lots and lots of people who prefer coaches, and when you think about an artist with an entourage, maybe their kids too, the idea of leaving a hotel at 6am to take a whole load of cars to some airport and fly to the next city isn’t so great. On a coach, you have driven through the night and you’re already there.”
But what of the next 25 years?
hile the frontier days retain a certain rose-tinted appeal, there’s little doubt that a well-regulated, highly organised transport sector is the kind the industry needs. But as far as the music-focused transport sector might have progressed in the past several decades, it is hard to avoid the fact that it is, for the most part, still run by the very same people. So while there is no shortage of familiar faces from one year to the next, some old hands wonder aloud about succession planning. “The business is maturing,” says Corr. “I look at myself, I look at my contemporaries in the business, and one does wonder who the next generation is going to be. You have got to be looking out for that drive and ambition, you have got to nurture it and you have got to train it. That’s particularly true now, because we learnt as we went along, which you can’t do now that there is a manual for this and a manual for that. This isn’t a cottage industry anymore, and there’s no room for mistakes.”
Gig in Japan A paradise for fans of live music Economic woes and the triple disaster of last yearâ€™s earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power plant fire have taken their toll on Japanâ€™s live music industry, but despite those troubles, Tokyo-based Steve McClure contends the business remains one of the healthiest in the world. 58 | IQ Magazine November 2012
Introduction with our economy; but the economy, ticket prices, and artist fees always reflect each other.” The Japanese people didn’t let last year’s tragic events get them down. The country’s concert business has done its bit in keeping spirits high, and basically isn’t doing too badly now. But there’s long-term concern among concert promoters in the country about possible saturation of the festival market, as well as the ability of Japan to attract A-list talent to its shores in what is seen as an increasingly competitive global touring market. With an annual recorded music shipment of US$2.7billion (€2.1 bn) in 2011 (according to the Recording Industry Assn. of Japan), the country is the world’s second-biggest market after the United States. While there are no reliable statistics about the size of Japan’s live music business, it’s safe to say that it’s among the world’s biggest. The industry is long-established and operates more or less along the lines of the business in other major music markets. But there are some key differences between the Japanese market and other territories. Take ticketing, for example; while low-level gangster types scalping tickets are a common sight outside big-name live shows, Japan has very little in the way of a legitimate secondary-ticket market. Other unique aspects of the country’s live music scene include shows that start on time, well-mannered but enthusiastic audiences, and top-quality venues and production infrastructure. And as veteran acts like The Ventures know, Japanese fans are incredibly loyal and keep coming back year after year to hear the same old songs.
Pop stars Momoiro Clover at the 36,000-capacity Tokyo Seibu Dome. Photo © Hajime Kamiiisaka.
The country’s incredibly vibrant and diverse concert scene ranges from huge summer festivals featuring bigname international and Japanese superstars to sweaty, claustrophobic ‘live houses’ where the stars of tomorrow hone their chops in front of a few loyal devotees. In between, there are smaller festivals, mid-sized concert halls, and clubs and bars where Japanese music fans can enjoy just about every musical genre under the sun, from rarified avant-garde to hardcore indie rock. The 11 March 2011 earthquake/tsunami/nuclear meltdown triple disaster in north-eastern Japan put the country in a somber, reflective mood and caused some international acts to rethink their Japanese tour plans. Cyndi Lauper touched down in Japan the day the disaster struck and endeared herself to Japanese fans by refusing to cancel her tour. Lady Gaga also struck an emotional chord with Japanese fans in June 2011 when she headlined the MTV Video Music Aid Japan show in Tokyo, which raised some $1million (€775,000) for victims of the earthquake. Yuuki Tamura, manager of Kyodo Tokyo’s International Division, says the events of 11 March took their toll on Japan’s live music business, not to mention the country’s depressed economy. “With a disaster of such magnitude it’s all about people losing jobs and trying to put food on the table. Since then, ticket sales have been very slow,” Tamura says. “Thanks to all the countries around the world and their support, we are gradually recovering. Back in the day, Japan had the highest ticket prices in the world, but now they have been surpassed by other countries. I’m sure this has to do
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Japan boasts several major concert promotion companies with nationwide networks and a wide range of international contacts. They include Kyodo Tokyo, Smash Corp., Creativeman Productions, Udo Artists and Hayashi International Promotion (H.I.P.), all based in Tokyo. In addition, there’s a myriad of mid-sized and small-scale promoters based in different parts of the country all specialising in various musical genres. Local promoters often buy shows from national promoters. “There are miscellaneous reasons for sharing tours with local promoters, but that’s mainly due to the fact they don’t have a licence to apply for visas and/or they don’t have bilingual staff,” according to Tomoko Moore, international artist booking coordinator for the Billboard Live clubs in Tokyo and Osaka. “Most times, those national promoters will send their staff on tour with artists who are performing in local cities presented by local promoters.” There are varying estimates of domestic and foreign acts’ shares of the Japanese concert market. Billboard Live’s Moore says Western artists have a roughly 60% share, with South Korean acts, whose popularity has sky-rocketed in Japan in recent years, accounting for another 20%. Meanwhile, Frank Takeshita, executive general manager of Creativeman Productions, puts Western acts’ share closer to 20% of Japan’s recorded-music market, with South Korean artists enjoying another hefty slice of the pie. But Yuuki Tamura, manager of Kyodo Tokyo, estimates domestic acts have a larger share of the market. “Right now we’re at 80/20 domestic, but as it is our 50th anniversary, I have been working hard to try to bring the ratio back up,” he says. It’s also worth noting that Japan has next to no agents for international acts. Japanese promoters deal with booking agents based in territories such as the UK, the United States and Canada. “Basically, we buy shows from agents and management companies,” Tamura says. “However, there are some times when we may talk to other promoters in our territory and we combine on a joint offer. With shows such as David Foster and Friends, which we have been doing for three years in a row, we buy the show from IMG Singapore,
Rihanna at Summer Sonic
The 10% international [segment] is a very important market that I feel we must not neglect. This requires commitment from both the Japanese promoter and the international act, and a willingness to try new things.
Kaori Hayashi, H.I.P.
where we have a very close relationship.” Kaori Hayashi, international promoter at H.I.P., puts the domestic/foreign ratio at 90/10. “However, the 10% international [segment] is a very important market that I feel we must not neglect,” she stresses. “This requires commitment from both the Japanese promoter and the international act, and a willingness to try new things.”
Ticketing You might think that in high-tech Japan, printed tickets would have gone the way of the dodo. Not so. As anyone who’s worked in a Japanese office knows, the country has a continuing love affair – if that’s the right phrase – with paper and printed documents. Concert tickets are no exception. “In Japan there are very few shows that rely on e-ticketing, where they either print their tickets at home or bring them on their cell phones,” says Tamura. “That is because in Japan we have a system where there are four major ticketing companies (although our company has its own ticketing centre), and customers are able to pay and pick their tickets up at convenience stores, which you will
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find on every street corner in Japan.” Creativeman’s Takeshita expects increased use of mobile-based tickets in the future, while Tamura notes that some people sell their tickets on auction sites. “That will always be a problem and creates an endless paper chase, Tamura says, “However, that would be the same in any part of the world.” Miho Harashima, public relations manager at upscale jazz venue Blue Note Tokyo, says it’s quite common for people to try to resell tickets to the club’s shows through online auction sites, and that Blue Note tries to get auction sites to remove posts from re-sellers charging outrageously high prices.
Production Kyodo Tokyo’s Tamura explains that while small live houses and some bigger halls have their own PA and lighting, acts playing Japan’s domes and stadium venues have to bring their own equipment and build everything from scratch. Major concert production companies include Shimizu Octo and Nihon Stage. One company handling both lighting and sound is Kyoritz; Big-1 is a major lighting company, while sound specialists include firms like Clair Brothers Japan and MSI. “Usually, it is the promoter’s responsibility to hire backline companies for their shows,” Tamura says. “A lot of acts bring in some of their gear, but mostly rely on local promoters to cover backline. Unlike big countries like the US, or in Europe, when we bring in shows we basically have the same stage crew – sound, light, backline – throughout the tour.”
Finance/Politics/ Legislation In recent years, Japanese immigration authorities have been taking a harder line with foreign musicians wanting to enter the country. In November 2007, for example, officials took exception to the backgrounds (which include arrests) of various members of American band Velvet Revolver, and denied the band’s request for visas. The group, which toured the country in 2005, had to cancel shows in four Japanese cities. Industry sources say it’s getting harder than ever to bring foreign artists into Japan, noting that there have been many recent cases in which artists have been refused entry to Japan. They say immigration authorities are taking drug-related criminal records more seriously than in the past. Biometric screening (including fingerprinting) of all foreign nationals entering Japan began in 2007. The government’s passage of anti-terror legislation in 2006 also led to stricter screening of entrants for arrest or criminal records. Touring industry sources say this means it’s increasingly important to do background checks on all members of a tour group before applying for visas. “Pay close attention to the information provided and work with the promoter,” advises H.I.P.’s Hayashi. “This will resolve most if not all issues related to tax or visas.” Tax-wise, Japan applies a 20% withholding tax to live show revenues. Promoters apply for tax certificates on behalf of payees, who thus avoid dual taxation when filing their tax returns. “However, there are exceptions where we can pay invoices for freight and travel directly to travel agencies, as costs related to costs and production,” notes Tamura. Obtaining a performer’s visa usually takes a little over a month. “Fees are minimal, depending on the country and the artist’s nationality,” says Billboard Live’s Moore, “but won’t cost more than $40 (€31) per person.” That’s a small price to pay for performing in one of the world’s biggest and most exciting live music markets.
Festivals There’s no lack of choice when it comes to summer music options in Japan. The country’s two biggest and best-known festivals domestically and around the world are Fuji Rock and Summer Sonic, put on by promoters Smash Corp. and Creativeman, respectively. Fuji Rock pioneered summer music festivals in Japan in 1997. Each year since then it has featured an impressive array of talent from Japan and overseas, with particular emphasis on British rock acts. Fuji Rock is held in the idyllic woodland setting of Naeba, a ski resort in Niigata Prefecture, where more than 100,000 people attended the 2012 festival. Acts that played at this year’s edition (held July 27-29) included the Stone Roses, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds and Radiohead. The festival features performances by big-name acts on the main stage, as well as sets by other acts on smaller stages scattered around the site and Smash has definitely succeeded in creating a Glastonbury-type vibe in Fuji Rock’s sylvan setting. Summer Sonic, in contrast, is held in urban venues in Tokyo and Osaka: the QVC Marine Field baseball stadium and Makuhari Messe hall in Tokyo; and the Maishima
There is always a fear of typhoons and earthquakes, but the show must go on. And rather than the problem with fees, the more serious problem could be that that we are always competing with other festivals in the world to get better artists.
Frank Takeshita, Creativeman Productions
outdoor site in Osaka, simultaneously between 18-19 August. Summer Sonic 2012 featured Green Day, Franz Ferdinand, Rihanna, New Order and Adam Lambert. “The major festivals are all healthy,” says Creativeman’s Takeshita. “This year we had to stop the music [at Summer Sonic] in Osaka for 1.5 minutes because of a thunderstorm. There is always a fear of typhoons and earthquakes, but the show must go on. And rather than the problem with fees, the more serious problem could be that that we are always competing with other festivals in the world to get better artists.” Other major summer music events include the Rock in Japan Festival, which was held 3-5 August this year at Hitachi Seaside Park in Ibaraki Prefecture, north of Tokyo. It’s a showcase for leading domestic acts such as Kreva, Suga Shikao and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. There’s also the Rising Sun Rock Festival, which took place 10-11 August in Otaru, on Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido. Perfume, Superfly and Asian Kung-Fu Generation topped the bill of homegrown acts. “Given the economy and rise of domestic artists, there are inherent challenges with festivals centred around international artists,” says H.I.P.’s Hayashi. “However, as promoters, it is our job to be innovative enough to overcome these challenges and provide fans and artists with a great experience.” Another highlight of Japan’s summer music season is leading record label Avex’s A-Nation festival, which features Japanese and Asian acts performing at Tokyo’s Ajinomoto Stadium (25-26 August) and Osaka Nagai Stadium (18-19 August). Japan also has several genre-specific festivals, such as the Tokyo Jazz Festival and Punkspring.
Media Go to a concert or a festival in Japan, and you’ll be handed reams of flyers and pamphlets advertising upcoming music events. Traditional promotional media, including ads in newspapers and commuter trains and subways, are still important. Japan is a print media-oriented society (although digital media is making steady inroads), in large part because people read a lot while commuting to and from work and school by train – commuting by car is much less common than in North America. And in a culture which has always placed a high value on music, there’s no shortage of specialist music periodicals. Key Music Publications: Rockin’On Japan - Japanese music scene, focusing on rock. Monthly circulation (MC): 220,000 Rockin’ On - the international rock scene. MC: 150,000 AdLib - jazz/fusion/AOR/soul. MC: 285,000 Oricon Style - publishes widely used music charts. MC: N/A Backstage Pass - domestic pop and rock music. MC: N/A
Radio isn’t as important a promotional medium in Japan as in other major music markets. Because of strict government regulation of the broadcasting industry, there are relatively few radio stations in Japan. For example, in Tokyo, which has
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a population of nearly 13 million people, there are just three commercial FM stations (Tokyo FM, InterFM and J-WAVE) plus semi-public NHK FM. TV is much more important as a promotional medium for music, less through specialist music programmes and channels than by means of ‘tie-ups’, in which songs are used as themes or background music in commercials or TV dramas. “TV is still the most effective way for large-scale promotion,” says H.I.P.’s Hayashi. “Japanese TV still mainly consists of five national broadcast stations, so it is possible to have focused promotion.” And because of the relatively limited penetration of cable TV, cable-based specialist music channels such as MTV Japan, Space Shower and Music on TV (which is operated by Sony Music Entertainment Japan) have much less impact on the music scene than their counterparts in other countries. Not surprisingly, the consensus in the Japanese industry is that online promotion will play an increasingly important role in publicising live shows. There are now more than 100 million internet users in Japan – an 80% penetration rate. Just over a third of Japan’s internet users have a broadband connection. Blogs, social networking services and online video platforms have fast become crucial promotional platforms for music, including live shows.
Venues Down the hill from Shibuya Kokaido near Centre-gai, with its unending parade of ‘kawaii’ (cute) and just plain bizarre youth fashion, is Club Quattro, which has a capacity of about 1,000. It’s a great place to see cutting-edge Japanese acts, as well as international artists who appeal more to the cognoscenti than the average music fan. Foreign acts who’ve played Quattro over the years include Calexico, 3 Mustaphas 3, David Lindley and, early in their career, Oasis. Just a few steps away is Orchard Hall, whose marvellous acoustics make it ideal for classical music. Another prestigious classical venue is Suntory Hall, in central Tokyo’s Akasaka district. Across the street from Shibuya Kokaido is Shibuya Eggman, one of Tokyo’s best-known live houses. Labels often hold showcase events for up-and-coming domestic rock acts in the club’s cramped subterranean confines. Like most live houses, Eggman features amenities such as lockers for patrons to store their bags and coats during shows, as well as a full-service bar. Eggman’s international profile was raised somewhat when Fox News misidentified it as a nuclear power plant in the aftermath of the March 2011 disaster. Another prestigious mid-sized venue is the Tokyo International Forum, near the capital’s famous Ginza district, where international rock and pop artists frequently perform. One of Tokyo’s more unusual music venues is AKB48 Theatre in the Akihabara district. It features daily performances by sub-units of the 64-member female group AKB48, which in recent years has taken the Japanese entertainment world by storm and turned into a social phenomenon. Although Japan has a strong live music market, finding space for new venues in its cities’ cramped confines can be a challenge. “However, there are a few projects in the works,” explains Kyodo Tokyo’s Tamura. “For instance, TV Asahi, one of the major TV stations in Japan, is building a venue in Roppongi in the centre of Tokyo, and they are supposed to finish construction in 2013.”
Billboard Live’s Osaka venue
There are literally thousands of music venues the length and breadth of Japan, and according to H.I.P.’s Hayashi, they are “top class”. Japan’s best-known venue internationally is the legendary Budokan in Tokyo, thanks in large part to classic ‘live at the Budokan’ albums by acts such as Cheap Trick and Bob Dylan. Budokan literally means ‘martial arts hall’ and in 1966 Japanese nationalists were outraged when the Beatles ‘sullied’ a facility designed for judo and karate competitions by performing there. The 10,000-capacity hall was eclipsed as Japan’s premier concert venue in the mid80s, with the opening of the 50,000-capacity Tokyo Dome. Other big live music venues in the greater Tokyo area include Saitama Super Arena, Makuhari Messe, Yokohama International Stadium, the Ajinomoto Stadium and the National Stadium. All major Japanese cities have similarly large venues, but since they are designed primarily for sports events, their acoustics leave much to be desired. Slightly better in terms of sound quality are the six midsized Zepp venues located in Tokyo, Sapporo, Nagoya, Osaka, Fukuoka and Sendai. Purpose-built for live music performances, they’re jointly owned by Asahi Breweries and local record labels Avex and Sony Music Entertainment (Japan). Most Japanese local governments operate municipal concert halls, with capacities ranging from 1,500 to 2,500, that mainly feature shows by domestic and classical artists. One of the best-known is the Shibuya Kokaido (public hall) in the youth-oriented Tokyo district of that name. For a few years it was known somewhat surreally as C.C. Lemon Hall, after drinks company Suntory paid for the branding rights. Shibuya is a microcosm of the Japanese venue scene. Just up the road from Shibuya Kokaido is Yoyogi Olympic Stadium, a 10,000-capacity indoor venue that was one of the architectural showpieces of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Most of the musical acts that perform there are domestic, although international artists have been known to play. Close by is NHK Hall, operated by the semi-public Japanese Broadcast Corp., which mainly features classical and domestic acts.
November 2012 IQ Magazine | 63
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1. I conic singer-songwriter Patti Smith performed at London’s Troxy venue in September. Pictured in the venue’s foyer at the sold-out gig are Troxy business development manager Daniel Smith, head of security Brian Coke, and events manager Atif Malik. 2. Sir Anthony Hopkins now has a Brit Award to sit alongside his Oscar, BAFTAs and Emmys after sharing André Rieu’s Classic FM Album of the Year prize. Hopkins wrote the title track for And the Waltz Goes On and was at the Classical Brit Awards at the Royal Albert Hall earlier this month with wife Stella Arroyave to collect the award with violinist and conductor, Rieu. 3. PRS for Music awarded UK dance act, Faithless, a Heritage Award at the Jazz Café, Camden where they played their first gig. Mark Lawrence, director of membership and rights at PRS called the band “talented risk takers who pushed boundaries and touched a generation.” Pictured outside the venue, which now bears a special heritage plaque, are Sister Bliss and Maxi Jazz. Photo: Warren King 4. Arguably the most famous musical road trip film ever made, the Magical Mystery Tour, has been remastered 35 years after its first release. Pictured meeting one of the movie’s stars, Sir Paul McCartney, during the screening at the British Film Institute in London earlier this month, are Liam Gallagher and his son Gene. 5. MTV presenter Steve Blame conducted a series of talk shows entitled Blame ‘n’ Fame at this year’s Reeperbahn Festival in Hamburg. Pictured discussing how the industry treats fame here are (l to r) Blame, artist managers Peter Jenner and Mark Kates, industry lawyer Ben Challis and artist Russell Simins from the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. 6. Clown Jango Edwards entertains the revellers at Beat The Street’s 20th birthday party at the bussing company’s new purpose-built premises in Fritzens, Austria. Edwards was Beat The Street’s first ever client and was one of several special guests who helped founder Jörg Philipp and more than 200 invited guests to mark the occasion. 7. Neil Darracott, Gavin Bye, Robert Dean and Roy Bickel participate in Question Time at the Plasa Rigging Conference at London’s Earls Court venue in September. 6
64 | IQ Magazine November 2012
“ What is your favourite music industry-related joke?”
Malcolm McKenzie, Malcolm McKenzie Management A scientific experiment was carried out a few years ago to test the hypothesis that dogs adopt the behavioural characteristics of their owners over time. The three dogs used for the experiment belonged to an architect, a mathematician and an A&R man. The dogs were each given a plateful of dog biscuits, shut in a room and observed. The architect’s dog used its biscuits to build a fully accurate scale model of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, complete with flying buttresses and fabulous rococo gargoyles. The mathematician’s dog made skilful use of its biscuits to demonstrate at least three basic flaws in Einstein’s general and special theories of relativity. The A&R man’s dog ground up its biscuits, snorted them, fucked the other two dogs and went home early. Phil Rodriguez, Water Brother Productions Q: What’s the difference between a bull and an orchestra? A: The bull has the horns in the front and the asshole in the back. Claire MacLeod, X-ray Touring A young child says to his mother, “Mum, when I grow up I’d like to be a musician.” She replies, “Well, honey, you know you can’t do both.”
Keith Ames, Musicians’ Union What do you call a musician Q: without a girlfriend? A: Homeless. Terry McNally, IQ Magazine Q: What’s the difference between a Scotsman and a Rolling Stone? A: A Rolling Stone says “Hey you, get off of my cloud!”, while a Scotsman says “Hey McLeod, get off of my ewe!” Chris Palmer, Rock-it Cargo Q: If you want to change a light bulb, how many editors do you need? A: The way this is worded does not conform to our style guide. Anonymous Q: How many musicians does it take to change a light bulb? A: No one knows. There is no actual evidence it has ever happened. Edward Grossman, MGR An agent is negotiating with a promoter. The deal is not good enough for the agent and the promoter is being a bit arsy on top of it, so the agent says, “OK, if you’re gonna fuck me, at least kiss me.” Juha Kyyrö, Fullsteam Q: How do you know it is really freezing cold? A: Juha Kyyrö’s hands are in his own pockets. Anonymous John Giddings at the Festival Awards conference was asked the question from the floor: “What’s your definition of a boutique festival?” John’s reply: “A festival that doesn’t make any money!” Greg Parmley, Intellitix Two drums and a cymbal fall off a cliff. Ba-dum psshh!
Borek Jirik, Punx Q: How many musicians does it take to change a light bulb? A: One, but with Electric Light Orchestra management. Martin Hopewell, ILMC A fellow walking into a pub says: “Do you want to hear my latest accordion joke?” “Now, I play the accordion” says the bartender, a large strapping fellow.” That gentleman at the end of the bar, the one who looks like a logger, he plays the accordion. And that big gentleman playing darts over there, he plays the accordion. Do you still want to tell your joke?” “No, I don’t feel like explaining it three times.” Anonymous Q: What do you say to the production manager in the three piece suit? A: Will the defendant please rise. Q: Why do some people take an instant aversion to tour accountants? A: It saves time in the long run. Q: What do agents use for birth control? A: Their personality. Q: What’s the difference between a sound man and a bagpipe player? A: The bagpipes quit whining at the end of the gig. Gordon Masson, IQ Magazine Q: How many A&R men does it take to change a light bulb? A: “I’m not sure - what do you think...? Gary Prosser, All Night Long Promotions Q: What is the difference between a promoter and a terrorist? A: Terrorists have sympathisers.
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66 | IQ Magazine November 2012