LIVE MUSIC INTELLIGENCE
An ILMC Publication. Nov 2013
Contents IQ Magazine Issue 50
News 6 In Brief The main headlines over the last two months 7 In Depth Key stories from around the live music world
Features 18 The New Bosses 2013 Ten future industry leaders in the spotlight 22 Franklin Speaking CAA’s very own Mr Darcy celebrates 25 years in the business
© Sziget Festival
36 European Festival Report The results of IQ’s sixth annual festival survey 46 The Expo-nents Chris Austin examines the flourishing travelling exhibitions market 52 The Hydro Olaf Furniss talks to the key people behind Scotland’s newest venue 60 Benelux Weathering the economic storm in Europe’s lowland countries
Comments and Columns 14 Speak Up! David Garcia Caraballo urges ILMC delegates to make themselves heard 15 Wanted: Home-grown Headliners Stephan Thanscheidt considers the health of the festival business 16 Size Doesn’t Always Matter! Israel’s export market is thriving, says Jeremy Hulsh 17 US Festivals – Alive and Well Doug Johnson spills the beans on America’s growing festival market
70 Your Shout Acts of generosity in the live music industry
IQ Magazine November 2013
Issue 50 LIVE MUSIC INTELLIGENCE THE ILMC JOURNAL, Nov 2013
... And Counting Gordon Masson reflects on IQ’s first 50 issues and how some of the issues of the day still remain… The big five-O! What an achievement! OK, it’s maybe only 50 editions of IQ, rather than 50 years, but given that the magazine was first launched as a way for ILMC to maintain a dialogue with its members, a big thank you has to be given to all of those delegates who have contributed to our little publication over the last eight years. Indeed, the fact that IQ now reaches so many more people than the number that attend ILMC each March speaks volumes for those contributions and their importance to our thousands of subscribers around the world. Looking back through our archives to Issue 1: Q4 2004, IQ’s very first editor, Allan McGowan, noted that, elsewhere, the music industry was suffering and was therefore taking more interest in the live side of the business. And when it came to the issues of the day, Allan flagged up ticket scalping via the web and increasing regulatory restrictions. Plus ça change, as they say somewhere a tad more exotic than IQ’s dungeon office. Mind you, the back page of Issue 1 carried an advert for something called ClearChannel Entertainment Europe, whatever that was. So, what has our golden anniversary issue (yeah, I know, I know…) got in store for you? Appropriately, at such a historic moment in time, we’re taking a look into the future with our New Bosses feature (see page 18), where the ten individuals that you have identified as the next
IQ Magazine November 2013
generation of industry leaders are profiled. Another annual mainstay in issue 50 – have I mentioned it’s our 50th edition? – is this year’s European Festival Report (pg 36), where, despite some areas for concern – notably attendance numbers – the overall mood among festival promoters on the continent is pretty optimistic. Another reason for positive thinking is the rapidly expanding touring exhibitions sector (pg 46), which Christopher Austin discovers many savvy live music promoters are now tapping into in order to generate additional revenue streams. Our market report specialist Adam Woods touches down in the fascinating Benelux region (pg 60) to find out how those working in the live business in Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg are dealing with what seems to be a neverending recession. Elsewhere (pg 52), our Scottish correspondent, Olaf Furniss, visits Glasgow’s newest venue, The SSE Hydro, to try to gauge just what impact the stateof-the-art arena will have on that nation’s live music scene, as well as the UK’s touring circuit as a whole. And last, but definitely not least, I talk to Creative Artists Agency’s Paul Franklin (pg 22) about how he rose to the top of the agency game, as the most handsome man in the business reflects on his first 25 years in the industry and the acts he has helped achieve global stardom. Not bad, Mr Darcy, but 25 isn’t 50, is it…?
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In Brief... SEPTEMBER
The final day of New York City dance music festival Electric Zoo is cancelled over drug-related health concerns following the death of two fans and the hospitalisation of a number of others. Josh Burdette, the night manager at Washington DC’s legendary 9:30 Club, dies. He was 36. Michael Gudinski’s Frontier Touring agrees a strategic partnership with dance promoter Future Music Festival to present the touring event, which visits five Australian cities and Malaysia next March. Scotland’s DF Concerts hails a record summer, with sales of more than 500,000 tickets following a series of sold-out stadium shows, the 20th anniversary of T in the Park, and the introduction of new city music festival, Glasgow Summer Sessions. Ticketmaster Ireland’s managing director, Eamonn O’Connor, dies, just weeks after being diagnosed with cancer. He was 52. Hard Rock International says it will not stage its Hard Rock Calling festival in London next year. The decision comes eight years after the event launched in Hyde Park, before moving to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park this year. Inversion Productions pulls the plug on its Pyramid Rock Festival this New Year, blaming “tough economic conditions.” However, Inversion remains hopeful that the Australian gathering will return in 2014. In the UK, the PRS For Music Foundation names the first ten artists to benefit from the Momentum Music Fund, a new Arts Council-funded initiative providing grants to bands. Acts can each receive up to £15,000 (€17,740), with eight more Momentum funding rounds between now and October 2014. Ticketing platform Eventbrite acquires London-based event data company
Lanyrd, and Argentinian ticket specialist Eventioz, in a bid to accelerate growth. FKP Scorpio chief, Folkert Koopmans, is confirmed as the keynote speaker for next January’s Eurosonic Noorderslag conference in the Netherlands. Having taken a break in 2013, Leicester’s Summer Sundae Weekender in the UK is permanently cancelled, with organisers, Concert Clinic, blaming the state of the economy. Irving Azoff partners with The Madison Square Garden Company to create Azoff MSG Entertainment. In return for a $125m (€92m) investment, MSG will own a 50% stake in a company, which will include artist management, TV production, live event branding and digital marketing divisions. Cher declines the opportunity to perform at the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi, because of host nation Russia’s ‘gay propaganda’ laws that make it illegal to ‘promote’ homosexuality to minors. The team at the UK’s Ringmaster Festival belatedly cancel their inaugural event, blaming “financial implications”. Organisers of the 27-28 September event admit they might not have been able to pay bands and suppliers. Dave Stewart uses his Reeperbahn keynote speech Where is the Money? to launch plans for a new bank, First Artist Bank, offering services designed to ensure fellow musicians “don’t sign stupid deals.” SFX confirms plans to raise up to $200m (€148m) by selling off a slice of the company via the NASDAQ stock exchange – valuing the company at $1.1bn (€0.8bn). Big Day Out ditches plans for a second date in Sydney. The second day will now be folded into the 26 January show, with founder, Ken West, admitting plans were “a bit ambitious.” Polly Anthony, former president of Epic Records Group, dies of pancreatic cancer at her home in Beverly Hills. She was 59.
The jury in the $1.5bn (€1.11bn) case brought by Michael Jackson’s family against AEG finds that although AEG did employ Dr Conrad Murray, the company was not liable for his negligence. In the US, music streaming service Turntable.fm reveals plans to launch a new platform to broadcast live concerts to listeners. Turntable Live will require users to buy tickets for live shows. The Harlem Globetrotters are sold to Herschend Family Entertainment Corp by Shamrock Capital Advisors. Financial details are not disclosed but Herschend owns and operates 26 theme parks, aquariums and other attractions across North America. Glastonbury Festival sells its 120,000 ticket allocation in just 87 minutes, as more than one million people clamour to get passes for the 2014 festival. The sell-out generates more than £25m (€30m) before a single act has been announced. Eight people die and 79 are injured when a monster truck careens into crowds at a show in Chihuahua, Mexico. The Pogues’ Phil Chevron dies aged 56. The guitarist, real name Philip Ryan, was receiving treatment for cancer. Belgium’s Sportpaleis Group takes over the management of the 8,000-capacity Forest National arena in Brussels on behalf of building owners, Music Hall. Austin City Limits organisers are forced to cancel the final day of the US music festival when heavy rain and thunderstorms cause flooding. Dainty Group shelves a tour by Pitbull and Ke$ha scheduled for late October, following reportedly poor ticket sales. To subscribe to IQ Magazine: +44 (0)20 3204 1195 firstname.lastname@example.org Annual subscription to IQ is £50 (€60) for 6 issues.
November 2013 IQ Magazine
Heinz Krassnitzer (1953-2013) IQ is sad to report that Heinz Krassnitzer, a member of the Jazz Fest Wien team and Live Performance Service, based in Vienna, Austria, has died, aged 60. A member of the ILMC, Krassnitzer was a jazz aficionado and first started organising concerts in the 1970s at the Technical University in Vienna. “What goes on in Berlin in 14 days often runs in Vienna in an evening,” he once said. A great raconteur, he could fascinate friends and colleagues alike with stories about Keith Jarrett, Muddy Waters and Nina Simone, or about times spent frequenting sleazy jazz clubs in New York’s Harlem. A statement on behalf of Fritz Thom and the Jazz Fest Wien organisers says, “[In]
deep grief we inform you that our dear colleague Heinz Krassnitzer passed away unexpectedly. We have lost a friend, our country has lost one of its leading music experts – and I have lost my alter ego in jazz for 35 years. Heinz was in his 61st year. Jazz for him was his life and hobby at the same time, his one and only. He lived a full life, rich with events. May he rest in peace.”
Swiss Talent Contest Nears Climax The clock is ticking toward the first Swiss Live Talents gala, after no fewer than 784 acts registered to take part in the inaugural competition. Sponsored by Switcher, the concept was devised by SwissAmp in collaboration with MX3 and the Fondation SUISA, and aims to highlight both upcoming and already established musical talent in Switzerland, with a particular emphasis on those acts that might enjoy international success with their live performances. “The response was overwhelming,” says organiser, Francois Moreillon, who assembled a jury of 16 judges to listen to all the participating talent and nominate a shortlist of acts across six categories of music: pop rock indie folk; metal thrash; urban hip-hop groove reggae; electro dance; langue nationale; and best emerging talent. “This achievement not
only reveals the musical enthusiasm to be found in all language regions of Switzerland, but also a clear need for recognition and support – mainly in the area of promotion – by the artists,” Moreillon continues. The gala ceremony will be held in the Bierhübeli, Berne, on 9 November, where prizes for each category will be given, along with those for best live act; the people’s choice, which will be decided at the event by measuring the sound level from ‘audi clapping’; and the best composition, which will be awarded by performing rights society, SUISA. The awards jury comprises music programmers from a number of Swiss and international music festivals. A prize fund of CHF50,000 (€40,500) is on offer for the nine winners, in addition to opportunities to play live at concerts in Switzerland and other territories.
Marek Lieberberg to Keynote UK Festival Conference The UK Festival Conference, in partnership with IQ Magazine, has secured legendary German promoter and festival organiser, Marek Lieberberg, as the keynote speaker for this year’s 2 December gathering. As founder and director of Germany’s giant Rock am Ring and Rock im Park festi-
vals, Lieberberg will discuss his vision for the development and future of the modern festival, as well as looking back at an extensive career that includes orchestrating performances and tours for global rock icons including Aerosmith, Bruce Springsteen and Depeche Mode, through to
IQ Magazine November 2013
pop giants such as Britney Spears, Jay Z and One Direction. Lieberberg comments, “I’m both astonished and flattered to be the keynote speaker. If I don’t forget to remember to forget, I will try to share moments of bliss, delusion, vanity and furore with you.” The annual conference takes
place immediately prior to the tenth annual UK Festival Awards at The Roundhouse in London, and voting for the likes of Promoter of the Year, Best Toilets and Best New Technology, as well as for the various event prizes, is now open via the festivalawards. com website.
Roger Waters’ ‘The Wall’
Deutsche Entertainment AG (DEAG) has entered a joint-venture agreement with promoter Katrin Edtmeier to establish itself in the Austrian live music market with a new company called Blue Moon Entertainment. Financial details were not disclosed, but DEAG will own a stake of 85% in the JV versus 15% for Edtmeier. In the past, DEAG has relied on ad hoc agreements with local promoters to tour the likes of Tom Jones, David Garrett, Nana Mouskouri, Peter Kraus, Lang Lang, Max Raabe Palast Revue and Plácido Domingo through Austria. But by tapping into Edtmeier’s vast experience, the German giant is hoping to expand on activities in the neighbouring territory, and Blue Moon already has tickets on sale for Riverdance, Rock Meets Classics and David Garrett. Prior to inking her deal with DEAG, Edtmeier was the managing director of Viennabased LS Konzertagentur, one of the largest concert agencies in Austria. She was responsible for concerts including Bruce Springsteen, Eric Clapton, Whitney Houston, Depeche Mode and, with almost 100,000 fans, AC/DC’s appearance at the open air festival in Wels – the largest gig ever to be staged in Austria.
The Wall Scales the Heights
Roger Waters’ The Wall Live has entered the history books after becoming the highest grossing tour ever by a solo artist. Agent Andrew Zweck, of Sensible Events, says the tour’s final show, at the Stade
de France in Paris on 21 September, was exactly three years and one week after the opening show in Toronto in 2010 – and was typical for the tour, with a sold-out audience. The Wall tour played a total of 219 shows worldwide, to more
than 4.1 million ticket buyers, grossing $460million (€340m), which is not only the highest grossing tour ever by a solo artist, but also the third highest grossing tour of all time, behind U2’s 360o and The Rolling Stones’ A Bigger Bang.
AEG Approved for London Arenas Dominance The UK’s Competition Commission has cleared the way for AEG to take over operations at London’s Wembley Arena. The company already runs The O2 arena – the most popular venue in the world – across the other side of the city, and that situation prompted the deal to be scrutinised by the Commission among fears that AEG might control too much of the capital’s live entertainment sector. The 15-year deal with Wembley Arena owner, Quintain Estates and Development, was originally agreed in January this year, after Live Nation’s long-term association with the venue came to an end. However, in March, the Office of Fair Trading referred the matter to the Competition Commission for investigation. Celebrating the authority’s green light for the company to assume operations at the 12,500-capacity venue, AEG Facilities executive vice-
Wembley Arena, London
DEAG Enters Austrian Market
president, Rod O’Connor, says, “Wembley Arena holds a special place in the hearts of music and live entertainment fans. It enjoys fame on a global scale and we are delighted to welcome it into our portfolio.” He adds, “This deal marks a new chapter in Wembley Arena’s illustrious history and we are committed to delivering the very best experience for fans, artists and partners.” The deal further boosts AEG’s powerbase in London, as the company also
won a five-year contract for outdoor concerts and events at Hyde Park – arguably London’s biggest concert venue. Quintain COO, James Saunders, comments, “This is fantastic news for Quintain and for London, the biggest marketplace in the world for live music. We look forward to AEG bringing the worldclass content, world-class customer experience, and the operational expertise they have demonstrated at The O2, to the iconic and muchloved Wembley Arena.”
November 2013 IQ Magazine
IQ Magazine November 2013
NSW Plots Scalping Clampdown The government of New South Wales, in Australia, is introducing new laws which could result in AUD$5,500 (€3,835) fines for websites such as eBay and Viagogo if they refuse to remove scalped tickets that are advertised at hugely inflated prices. Details remain sketchy, but fair trade minister, Anthony Roberts, is pushing a proposal that will require full ticket details to be included when they are offered for resale online, while a threshold of approximately 10% above cost price is being talked about. The controversial measures will allow event organisers to identify tickets being resold online and either enable them to cancel those tickets, or demand they be taken down from resale websites. If the websites fail to comply, they could be fined AUD$5,500 per offence. Government intervention was prompted by fears over profiteers targeting the National Rugby League final on 6 October and Roberts claims the laws are designed to stop bots buying up tickets to resell them at premium prices. “The bottom line is about giving consumers as much information as possible when they purchase a ticket through this system… so people know exactly what they’re buying,” Roberts says. The legislation would require people reselling tickets to disclose: details of the ticket number, row, and seat number; terms and conditions of sale, or details of where to find them; notice of any condition which allows the ticket to be cancelled if it is resold; and a clear and legible image of the ticket, showing ticket number, seat, and row number,
but obscuring its barcode. Live entertainment businesses such as Ticketek and Frontier Touring welcomed the minister’s proposals, with Michael Gudinski telling local media, “Frontier Touring is thrilled to see the introduction of these reforms. For too long scalpers have been able to hide behind anonymity online. Music should empower, and real artists do not want to see their fans ripped off.” However, Christoph Homann, the newly appointed managing director of resale for Ticketmaster International, claims the move will neither protect fans nor stop scamming. “Restrictions rarely stop consumer interest, rather it pushes them into back alleys or, in the case of ticket resale, to the online equivalent to offshore, unregulated websites and into the clutches of fraudsters,” he says. “Fans want ticket resale and we believe [it] can be offered in a safe and transparent manner. The best way to protect fans, stop scalpers and curb the growth of unscrupulous resale websites is for the industry to take the lead.” Homann adds, “The proposed legislation will do little to combat sophisticated fraudsters who operate outside state borders where even the keenest NSW Department of Fair Trading officer cannot reach. We know from the counterfeit tickets produced based on images of tickets posted on social media sites that publishing ticket images will throw open the flood gates, allowing even more fraudulent activity. True consumer protection will come from offering better consumer experiences, not limiting their choices.”
Movers and Shakers Tom Miserendino has been promoted from COO at AEG Live to president and CEO of AEG Europe. Miserendino has been with AEG Live since 2002. He replaces Jay Marciano who returned stateside from London six months ago to take on the role of COO at parent company AEG. Secondary ticketing operator Seatwave has appointed Ajay Chowdhury as its new CEO, replacing founder Joe Cohen who took up the position of non-exec chairman earlier this year. Chowdhury is a former chairman of Shazam Entertainment, among other ventures. New Zealand festival owners Rhythm Group has hired former Live Nation Ireland executive Kieran Spillane as its new CEO. Edwin de Haan has joined the project management team of Creative Technology working out of the company’s Dutch operation. He was previously at XL Video in the Netherlands and has a background in managing large, complex video productions. DEAG Music’s founding MD André Selleneit has returned to the company after 20 years spent at other companies such as BMG Berlin and Ariola. Stephan Thanscheidt has been promoted to managing director of FKP Scorpio and will now form a new board with existing MD Folkert Koopmans to concentrate on company growth. Christoph Homann has been appointed MD of Ticketmaster Resale, International. He was previously director of eBay’s UK B2C business. Lynda Barber has left Spirit Productions to join the marketing team at Poole’s Lighthouse Centre for the Arts in Dorset, UK. Primary Talent International has hired former Echo Location Talent Agency agent Francesco Caccamo, who brings with him a roster of DJ and live acts including Noisia, P Money, Rockwell, Culprate, Joe Ford and Knox. Creative Technology Group has promoted Chris Burke to the role of MD of its Hong Kong and Singapore operations. Keith English has been named MD of Ticketmaster Ireland. He succeeds former colleague Eamonn O’Connor, who recently passed away. Luxembourg venue den Atelier has added Paul Bradshaw to the booking team at A-Promotions. He was previously a booker at the 950-cap Kulturfabrik centre in the south of the country. David Maloney is leaving his position as head promoter at FKP Scorpio Sweden to launch his own company, Maloney Concerts, but has agreed a long-term cooperation agreement with FKP. DHP Family has taken on Armand Wysocki to be general manager of its first London venue, the 600-capacity Oslo, which will open in November. His previous employers include Shoreditch House and House of Wolves. Mike Weatherley has been appointed the UK prime minister’s adviser on intellectual property, with a particular focus on “enforcement issues relating to the creative industries.” The MP (whose comment featured in IQ49) organises the annual Rock The House music competition.
November 2013 IQ Magazine
German Market Sales and Prices Falter Germany’s live entertainment market took a triple hit last year – on revenues, ticket sales and ticket prices – according to a new survey presented by the German promoters association (BDV) and trade journal Musikmarkt, at the Reeperbahn Festival campus in September. The report states that overall revenues in the German market slumped 16% in 2012 to €3.3billion, compared to €3.9bn in 2011. Compounding such depressing news, the study also reveals that the number of tickets sold had shrunk from 121.1million in 2011, to 110m last year, while the average price declined 7% in value from €32.30 to €30.20, in 2012. The consumer study was carried out by Gesellschaft für
Konsumforschung (GfK) and marks the fifth edition of BDV and Musikmarkt’s research, which this year was based on the results of questionnaires filled out by 3,000 consumers in April 2013. Unsurprisingly, given the headline statistics, the survey also revealed that the total number of visitors to live events in Germany had dipped from 32.9m in 2011, to 30.1m in 2012. But one positive among the downward trend was that those people who did go to shows reported to GfK that they attended the same number of events year on year – on average 3.7 shows per annum. Analysing the reasons behind the bleak numbers, Musikmarkt editor-in-chief, Stefan Zarges, points to
last year’s UEFA European Championships in neighbouring Poland and Ukraine as a competing lure for fans. BDV president, Jens Michow, meanwhile, notes that fewer international A-list stars were touring in 2012. Both Zarges and Michow conclude that high ticket prices were a major factor to consider in the study’s results. Delving deeper, the joint report elaborates on the mix of events from concerts to nonmusic. And while the top-line figures might make for glum reading, the study confirms that the live entertainment business in Germany remains dominated by music, which accounted for 69.7% of events in 2012, with total revenues of €2.3bn, while the 30.3% of the market comprising non-music
events was worth €1bn. Comparing the revenue shares of live music with the reported turnover for recorded music, the study claims that live music also dominates the German marketplace, with a 63% share compared to the record industry’s 37%. And in terms of the type of shows that are most successful in Germany, rock and pop came top in 2012 with 31% of the live sector. Classical music and opera events declined in popularity by 6% in 2012 for a market share of 24%, while musicals declined from 22% in 2011 to 19% a year later. But German music festivals enjoyed a bigger market share, nudging up to a 14% market share in total audience numbers, from 12% in 2011.
Speak Up! Moderne Welt’s David Garcia Caraballo encourages all ILMC members to have the confidence to voice their views and opinions for the benefit of the industry…
or me, it is almost a tradition. Even after attending the ILMC for seven years, I still join Allan and Alia’s introduction panel where new delegates (and those who need a refresher) receive essential info on getting around the conference. Almost every year I try to break the awkward silence after the notorious prompt “Are there any questions?” by telling the people in the room how important and essential it is to share their opinions, urging them to address any question on any panel and not to be afraid to speak up. The ILMC is, of course, not only a place to meet the people you probably already work with – but it is also one hell of an opportunity to meet people from the industry you don’t work with, and if you approach them or participate in a heated discussion, most of them won’t hurt you.
“The concept of a panel is to deliver a two-way or more discussion, but my experience is that most of them are more like university lectures where only a few dare to question the views of the panellists openly.” Besides the new delegates, there is another totally underrated group of people who, I’m sure, are probably the biggest group. This is made up of the guys my age, somewhere between 30-40, who are having a hard time connecting to the younger and hipper agents and promoters, while still being newbies compared to the respected British ‘dinosaur’ agents. So should I simply stick to my own? The answer is no, not at all! This group have the advantage of having probably 10+ years of experience in the business. We grew up with a Commodore 64 and 5¼ floppy disks, which almost makes us digital natives, leaving us totally open to every technological development available, whilst still embracing the old-school way of handling things. Best of both worlds, really. So theoretically, this group of people should provide a bottomless pool of ideas to bring the industry (and the company they work for) forward. Why is this not the case? The answer is: their employers and the concept of the panels. This affects both those who choose to work as employees, and as
such are representatives of a company philosophy, and also the bosses out there, young or old. This is important. I am questioning the whole concept of the panels (not only at ILMC but at most business events) without offering a particular solution. ILMC grows bigger every year. The only opportunity of addressing many people from the industry at one time is by stacking a lot of them in a room and offering guidance through important topics from a fine selection of speakers, deemed appropriate by the conference organisers. The problem is what actually happens in those panels. The concept of a panel is to deliver a two-way or more discussion, but my experience is that most of them are more like university lectures where only a few dare to question the views of the panellists openly. Of course, there are the occasional exceptions during the small, mostly poorly attended panels, where I have experienced heated head-to-head discussions. You should definitely check these out more often… So, this brings us back to the employers. I cannot blame a young and motivated agent or promoter who might have brilliant and visionary views on things, but finds themself gagged because their opinion might be the opposite to that of his or her employer. The guy that paid for your ILMC registration, remember? You’d be surprised by the kind of great conversations you can have with someone right after a panel if you ask them why they didn’t speak up.“Well, my boss was sitting in this panel and he thinks differently. The company thinks differently. If I say something, I will not only stab my boss in the back, I will also be seen as a hypocrite because it is the opposite to the way I operate in my daily work.” I can relate to this, because I did the same thing. My boss had strong views on certain topics and I learned a lot from him about persistence and the value of principles. But, I did not agree with everything. Sadly, he passed away way ahead of his time. But even after 11 years of contributing to the company’s profile, I was still very careful what I said publicly at the ILMC, because you just don’t openly argue with a person who successfully steered the company’s ship for 30 years. Maybe I should have, and maybe he would have listened. Now I’ll never know. But what I can do is promise myself that I will listen to every young person in my company and be open to new ideas and embrace them so that if I pay for him/her to attend ILMC sometime, he/she won’t need to be afraid to speak up.
Photo © Guido Karp
November 2013 IQ Magazine
Wanted: Home-grown Headliners Stephan Thanscheidt, recently promoted MD of Hamburg-based FKP Scorpio, reviews this year’s festival season and considers potential problems and possible solutions.
013 was an absolutely incredible festival season. For FKP Scorpio it was the most successful ever, with more than 450,000 fans enjoying our open-air events in five countries, despite the current economic situation and other festivals struggling to survive in some European markets. Hurricane and Southside 2013 sold-out faster than ever, with 75,000 festivalgoers in the north and 60,000 in the south. Deichbrand Festival, near the North Sea coast, also went up a level with 35,000 visitors. Highfield in the eastern part of Germany did well too, and Mera Luna festival hit a new record with 25,000 darkwave fans descending on what is considered to be the European mother ship of the gothic scene. And with our established festivals in Bavaria: Chiemsee Reggae Summer, which will celebrate its 20th Anniversary in 2014; and Chiemsee Rocks, which attracted over 37,000 rock lovers; it’s easy to see that Germany is still a very healthy ground for festivals, even with so many events and players in the market. Our first year with Bråvalla Festival was an absolute blast with over 51,000 visitors (making it the biggest Swedish festival ever) and amazing performances from Rammstein, Green Day, Avicii, and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. But not so good news for Hultsfred which was still kind of problematic and fighting with its past, but Getaway Rock did well with a great rock billing. The Swedish open-air market has been in trouble over the last few years, with a lot of established festivals dying for various reasons, but we still believe in this territory and will focus on it in the coming years. Northside Festival in Denmark also saw improved figures, with 26,000 visitors attending its fourth year, having sold-out in advance and establishing itself as a sizeable landmark in the Danish festival market. In the Netherlands, the first edition of Best Kept Secret was absolutely amazing and sold-out with 15,000 people; whilst Indian Summer Festival once again welcomed an audience of 20,000. And meanwhile, in Switzerland, Greenfield Festival’s great line-up performed to a record audience of over 27,000. All three of these territories are smaller but definitely vital markets on the European map with a high density of festivals and massive competition. The biggest challenges we have faced in 2013 – and I don’t think it will get better in the future – is the decreasing number of possible international acts big enough to
IQ Magazine November 2013
headline festivals, and the unreasonably dangerous increase of artist fees that is demanded by what few big acts are still around. Our artist budgets are increasing every year, but from my point of view, we reached the limit a while ago now. When you are at a level where it is impossible to raise the ticket
“The relevance of local talent is significantly higher now and in all surveys the demand from our audience to book domestic acts has risen enormously.” prices, sponsoring incomes are no longer gradable and the requirements of the audience are increasing every year, this will start to kill festivals, along with other factors such as bad weather. Which is exactly what is happening now! Competition is healthy and the whole discussion is nothing new, of course, but the disproportionate artist fees are getting worse from year to year. What can we do about this? Well, a generation of young and talented local acts have made some big steps and built themselves up to conquer our markets. I am extremely happy that the development of domestic acts in Germany and Sweden has been so impressive in the last few years. There were just 7 German acts playing at Hurricane/Southside in 2009. In 2012, there were 21 out of a hundred bands, and even more in 2013. The relevance of local talent is significantly higher now and in all surveys the demand from our audience to book domestic acts has risen enormously. Our dependence on international festival acts is somewhat less now, which is a great help in making these events still possible. But, at the end of the day, the right mixture of both kinds of act is crucial. Furthermore, it is essential nowadays to invest more in the festivals brands – and not just the line-ups – focussing on all kinds of additional services for our ticket buyers, such as the decoration and atmosphere of the festival sites; the camping sites; all the different green aspects to ensure the best possible level of sustainability; and the framework programme (including art and additional entertainment) that will delight people at those times when they are not standing in front of a stage. Development in general is more than satisfying and it encourages us to improve and develop lots of new projects in this area.
Size Doesn’t Always Matter! Jeremy Hulsh, partner at Viva Art Music, and founder of Oleh! Records – Israel’s Music Export Office, explains the real problems in his territory...
he Israeli music sector has encountered a serious problem recently. Hint: It’s not secondary ticketing nor is it the geo-politics of the country. And while there is an oversaturation of new promoters presenting considerably more international acts that drive a highly competitive market, this isn’t a real problem either. Many would suspect the challenge of an inescapable truth, that Tel Aviv is not actually on any agents’ preferred routing map, to be the culprit; well yes, but all this is old news. Israel’s real problem is that there are simply too many talented, local, export-ready acts operating in a very small piece of real estate. In a country of 7 million people, about the size of New Jersey, if you were to get in a car and drive the length of Israel, it would take just 4-5 hours. Even more impressive, it’s actually possible to navigate the entire width of the state in only 45 minutes. While Israel boasts more live music festivals per capita than any other country in the Middle East, there is a stark ‘glass ceiling’ when it comes to developing a financially viable career for the majority of local artists in such a paltry space. Going on tour in the region is, needless to say, complicated (not an option), thus, a local band touring Israel usually means
“In Israel, I have witnessed developing projects that bring together musicians from both sides of the border with remarkable results, through a common love of music culture, not because of contrived political agendas.” playing a maximum of three cities, once every few months, and sleeping at home every night. On the plus side, there is no need to hire an expensive tour bus for the long hauls... ever. When I first launched Israel’s Music Export Office back in 2006, many of my colleagues and detractors thought that our local scene simply couldn’t compete in the international fray. My personal belief was that Israeli bands weren’t yet successful abroad because they never saw foreign markets as an option. Furthermore, our industry completely lacked any reasonable infrastructure to get these acts or their music on any radar of promoters, agents, labels or publishers who would invest their money or their relationships in Israel’s local, export-ready sector. While music export and development isn’t a new global trend by any means, it is for Israel. After a modest start, today we are supporting literally hundreds of exportready acts breaking into the international market with considerable success at industry platforms including SXSW, CMJ, Reeperbahn, Liverpool Sound City, and
Canadian Music Week. At any given time, (with our support) dozens of groups are impacting every major music market on the planet, from Japan to Australia; the UK, Europe, and of course, the Americas. Stellar export success stories, which have paved the way include acts such as Infected Mushroom, Borgore, Useless ID, Orphaned Land, and Asaf Avidan, and these are just the tip of the iceberg. This past July, we staged the second incarnation of our annual music industry event, Tune In Tel-Aviv, which played host to a dozen festival talent buyers, publishers, and label veterans from abroad. The event, which is a combination of showcases and a conference, was created in order to package and market the local music scene/ industry for international consumption. In 2012 (our flagship year), we staged over 60 acts, with the number rising to 80 this year. To date, festival directors and programmers from the likes of Glastonbury, Primavera, EXIT, Liverpool Sound City, CMJ, SXSW, Amsterdam Dance Event, Zebra (one of the biggest alternative festivals in mainland China, cap. 80k); and agents from ITB, Coda, the Windish Agency and many more, have attended the event in order to discuss important subjects with our local sector and scout/ invest in our local talent. Although our platform is modest compared to most similar music happenings around the world, we have seen incredible results on multiple levels from both our local industry and the acts they support: 80% of all our industry guests have either invested or collaborated with local talent they discovered at Tune In Tel-Aviv. Our platform is open to all musicians/ genres (both Israeli & Palestinians); and in the future we plan to showcase regional and international emerging talents; with partnerships and investment from more countries. In less than a decade, our music export venture has generated well over three quarters of a million USD for local musicians through direct investment deals we’ve structured, including publishing, label signings, and money earned from live opportunities abroad. Moreover, I have seen some incredible value-added collaborations grow organically through our work within the local market. In October, Europe and the UK were treated to a tour featuring internationally acclaimed rock/ metal groups, Orphaned Land (Israel), and Khalas (Palestine/Israel). In Israel, I have witnessed developing projects that bring together musicians from both sides of the border with remarkable results, through a common love of music culture, not because of contrived political agendas. Such projects are always a powerful reminder of what music can do to bring people together rather than what governments can do to keep them apart. www.tuneintlv.com
November 2013 IQ Magazine
US Festivals – Alive and Well Doug Johnson, talent buyer, Milwaukee’s Summerfest; and organiser of the Yellow Phone Music Conference, is upbeat about the future for large-scale events in the USA…
y observation is that the festival market in the United States is alive and well; flourishing, I would say. Live music will see 2013-14 growth, with spending on concerts and music festivals expected to expand at a 7% compound annual from $9.7billion (€7.2bn) in 2013, to $12.2bn (€9bn) in 2016. Live music is also attributed as the leading factor for the US music market’s 3.4% growth in 2013, with a return in concert ticket revenues making up for the declines in recorded music sales. The American music festival scene is growing, as established festivals sellout early and new festivals put in strong performances across the nation. In addition to festivals like Coachella, Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo, there has also been a rise in minifests: events in secondary and tertiary markets like Rocklahoma in Pryor, Colorado; and Rock on the Range in Columbus, Ohio; that may bring more artists into the city for a one- or two-day festival than the area is likely to see all year. Smaller events are looking strong and attracting corporate interest, with Live Nation in on nine new festivals this year. Indie events are also making solid debuts such as Oregon’s
What The Festival, which sold out in its first year. Future growth in the US seems likely, as a variety of smaller festivals are emerging that combine music with other artforms and technology. For example, both Cleveland and Brooklyn saw returning events, Weapons of Mass Creation and the Northside Festival, gather together musicians with artists and entrepreneurs. Portland’s recent XOXO Festival, with a particularly strong mix of music and technology, got good reviews, benefiting from the tech startups looking for fresh venues. These markets don’t normally get an A-list arena headliner on tour unless it’s a routing date, so the minifest model in the smaller market serves a need. There’s a lower ticket price, and a lower risk as well. But although organizers have found more opportunities in an expanded palette of music fests, as the numbers rise, so does the competition for talent, leading to hard choices. Eventually, music festival saturation will emerge in the States, most likely among festivals competing for larger acts. But niche and regional music festivals seem likely to not only keep the growth going for the near future but to establish solid bases for the long-term.
New Bosses 2013 18
Top (L to R): Roel Coppen, Dani Simmonett, Carlo Scarampi, Zach Desmond, Sebastian Solano. Bottom (L to R): Peter Green, Sarah Thomas, Danielle Buckley, Greg Walsh, Zeon Richards.
Competition for this year’s New Bosses shortlist has been fiercer than ever before with dozens of nominees put forward by ILMC alumni as potential candidates for the ten exceptional young individuals in the industry that we should all be keeping our eyes on. This year marks the sixth annual New Bosses feature in IQ and if you took the time to nominate someone who has impressed you through their approach to business, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you both on my behalf and whoever you nominated. And if your chosen party did not make this year’s shortlist, never fear – as long as they are still aged 30 or under next year, then they’ll have another bite of the cherry. Thanks also should be extended to the 50 previous New Bosses, many of whom were refreshingly willing to nominate some of their rivals for recognition. That we’re-all-in-it-together attitude among the younger generation will surely be of great benefit to the industry going forward. As you will see, our ten contenders come from diverse backgrounds – agents, promoters, venue operators, artist managers, festival organisers and sponsorship experts – and from around the world including Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the Americas. Each nominee is now in the running for the accolade of Tomorrow’s New Boss which will be awarded at the Arthur Awards ceremony during ILMC 26 in March 2014 (voting for which will get under way on the ILMC website in December). So, if you’re looking for innovative new people to do business with, then hopefully our ten rising stars will prove inspirational. Gordon Masson, editor, IQ Magazine Roel Coppen (Netherlands) Co-founder – Friendly Fire
Coppen was one of the founders of Friendly Fire five years ago and he currently leads the booking and events division within the company. Coppen is responsible for all event line-ups. As well as working on new festival, Best Kept Secret, he also represents a roster of Dutch acts and promotes international artists such as Lana Del Rey, Alt-J, Temples, The 1975, Frank Turner and A$AP Rocky, among others. How did you find yourself working in this business?
I started out in 2006 as an intern for Lowlands festival, which was my first serious step into the business. I used to have a student job at Utrecht venue, Tivoli, manning the box office and doing some PR on the side, but the internship and the assistant job I got following that convinced me that this was what I wanted to do. I met my partners in Friendly Fire a year later and, in 2009, we started the company. The rest is history. How is the market evolving in the Netherlands?
Like in other territories, artists can shoot sky-high on their first album, but it’s often difficult to maintain that status or even build further on a second album. Punters tend to move on quickly, so as a promoter or agent you have to keep up with this and always have a long-term strategy in mind, more than ever, working together with all parties involved. What do you enjoy most about your job?
For me, it’s still the thrill of the moment when the house lights go down and a band walks on stage. That, and being able to travel places to see live music and not be in a 9 to 5 business. And what’s top of Roel’s achievements list?
That’d be the inaugural edition of Best Kept Secret, last June. We’ve had the idea for many years and to see it work so well and with so much support, that made me very proud.
November 2013 IQ Magazine
The New Bosses Age: 25
Dani Simmonett (UK) Agent – The Agency Group
Simmonett joined Mission Control Artist Agency in 2004, aged just 15. After four years, she left with MD Gary Howard to help establish Marshall Arts Talent. By this point she was booking a host of new pop, urban and dance acts. In 2010, she moved to The Agency Group, again with Howard, to set-up a new pop division. How did you first get into the business?
A friend of mine won a competition to meet Blazin’ Squad. Around the same time we‘d been instructed by our school to arrange work experience, so we harassed two important looking guys, who turned out to be the band’s agent and manager. In our two weeks of work experience, bands were always popping in, we went to shows and everyone in the office was great. I realised this was the company and industry, for me. How is the role of an agent changing?
We definitely have to think outside the box now and look for different opportunities for our artists. We are very much part of artist planning meetings, whereas in the past, we were forgotten about. As a New Boss, what would change to make the business healthier?
It would be great if there weren’t so many ‘yes’ people around. You see a lot of people who are scared to be honest with managers or artists, but ultimately, that honesty is what will help achieve success. What’s the best lesson you have learned so far?
That it’s a small industry, and to bear that in mind. For example, that manager who you don’t bother to call back could then sign the next big thing, and you won’t get a look in. Tell us about your proudest achievement?
The N-Dubz sold-out O2 Arena show sticks in my mind. To see a band that I helped build-up, playing in front of 16,000 people – who had all bought a ticket to see them – was incredible.
Carlo Scarampi (UK)
Promoter – Kilimanjaro Live
Scarampi has been promoting for seven years. Work experience at Barfly led to him becoming a promoter at both Barfly and Borderline, before becoming a national tour promoter at AEG Live. A year ago, Scarampi made the jump to Kilimanjaro Live where he is working with Bastille, The Lumineers, John Newman, Daughter, and MS MR, among others. What do you perceive as the biggest challenges to your business?
That’s got to be ticketing. It’s really important that we, as promoters, get the purchase process right and work as tightly as possible with agents and managers to make sure we’re getting our ticket prices to fit consumer expectation. It can be quite easy to get carried away at times. How is your role as a promoter changing?
You have to be on it and find acts earlier and earlier. I spend a huge amount of time researching and chasing new artists; speaking to managers, lawyers and A&R’s, to gain an advantage. The decline in print media also means we have to find new ways to sell and promote shows via digital media and other outlets that weren’t as prominent as when I first started. What do you love most about your job?
Zach Desmond (Ireland) Promoter – MCD
Desmond began his career working in production for Live Nation UK before, two years ago, joining his father’s company, MCD, as a promoter. Having worked on the Electric Picnic, this year he launched Longitude Festival to critical acclaim and commercial success. Has your family name made a difference to your career?
I’d be lying if I said it hadn’t. I’m very fortunate that my dad has had a very successful career in the music business and it gave me an opportunity to get my foot in the door. But that only gets you so far: I work extremely hard to make sure people don’t look at me just as someone’s son. If you’re good enough, it doesn’t matter who your father is. What’s the best thing about your job?
Music has always been a huge part of my life and getting the opportunity to book some of my favourite bands is pretty amazing. What would you count as your biggest achievement?
I would say the success of Longitude in its first year. There were more than a few people who thought there wasn’t room for a new festival in Ireland, but thankfully, there was. And any low points? If so, what did you learn from them?
Walking into one of your own sold-out shows. You always get a buzz – the feeling that you’ve put all these people from all different walks of life into the same room because of music, is amazing.
I’ve had a few shows cancelled due to poor sales. It’s never an easy thing to do and sometimes you need to just admit that you got it wrong and make it up to the band/agent at a later time.
What’s the best lesson you could teach others?
What’s exciting you at the moment?
Tell us about your proudest moment
What advice would you have for anyone trying to break into the business?
Trust your own ears and your own judgement on acts; you never know what gems you might uncover. Don’t get carried away by your own achievements. And just keep going, no matter how many times you get knocked back and disheartened. It would definitely have to be taking Bastille from small shows at Hoxton Hall and the Scala, to selling out Alexandra Palace. It’s kinda crazy, but in an incredible way.
IQ Magazine November 2013
There are a lot of great bands coming up at the moment. It’s always exciting to see new talent emerge and imagine the potential they have. Just make sure you are persistent and, if you do get the chance, work your ass off because there are plenty of other people who are willing to do it if you’re not.
The New Bosses Age: 29
Sebastian Solano (USA)
Co-founder – Life In Color
As co-founder of The World’s Largest Paint Party, Solano has helped Life In Color grow from a small college event to a worldwide brand with over 200 events and over 500,000 tickets sold annually. Last year, SFX Entertainment acquired the company, but Solano remains the CEO and now also plays a role in the global strategy of SFX. How did the idea for the company come about?
I got together with my best friends who are my business partners today (Lukasz and Patryk Tracz; and Paul Campbell) in college and started throwing house parties just for fun. And next thing you know, it turned into our career. How is your company adapting to evolve with the market?
To succeed you have to be innovative, creative and be ahead of the game. Back in the day, we could just book an artist, rent some speakers, a few lights and we had a great show. Now it’s completely different. The standard has been raised significantly by all the great shows and festivals happening throughout the world. So if you wanna be world class, you gotta be ready to keep up. Any (fledgling business) low points?
We received a lawsuit and were forced to change our name from ‘Dayglow’ to ‘Life in Color’. But we knew that our fans were loyal enough to follow us no matter what and we came up with a name that we actually like a lot better as it describes our show and company in the way we want to be seen by the world. What advice would you give to entertainment entrepreneurs starting out?
Give it your all: unless you are 200% committed, don’t expect to succeed because there are so many great people out there trying to do the same thing you are. But if you make good decisions and you are committed, the reward could be way bigger than what you ever thought.
Peter Green (UAE)
Promoter – Done Events
Green joined AEG Europe/The O2 arena as office assistant following two years in media sales. Within three months, he was recruited by AEG Global Partnerships, where he remained for almost three further years. In August 2012, Green moved to the UAE where he joined Done Events – the largest event promoter in Dubai – where he is responsible for all concert partnerships and sponsorship sales. What are the biggest current challenges in your market?
The lack of purpose-built venues. Whilst outdoor venues for 10,000 to 30,000 concert-goers are plentiful, suitable indoor and smaller sized outdoor venues are very hard to find out here in the desert. Artists’ expectations of excessive performance fees are also a challenge, although this is slowly improving as more and more artists come to perform in Dubai. Government rules and regulations, including an actual VAT for tickets sold in Dubai, also have to be thoroughly considered when planning the event calendar.
Sarah Thomas (UK)
Artist manager – Modest Management
At university, Thomas ran club nights as well as managing her musician brother, Ben. A three-year initiation at Z Management was followed by a stint working on in-house artists at Xenomania. Thomas joined Modest Management in 2009 where she took Olly Murs from the X-Factor and has managed him through three multi-platinum albums and four No.1 singles. How is your role as a manager changing?
A manager’s role is becoming increasingly detrimental to the breaking of a new artist. Development, and to a large extend A&R, is expected within the remit of management now. With an ever-evolving industry in today’s digital age, managers are having to learn new ways of promoting and marketing their artists. I am lucky to work for a large company to guide and develop me as a manager, and have learnt an awful lot from my bosses.
What do you look forward to in your job?
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned over the years?
What has working at different companies taught you?
What’s your biggest moment as a manager so far?
The best thing is that no two days are the same. Working with local suppliers, brands and venues in the Middle East is certainly different to doing the same in the UK. Working in a team is crucial to your individual growth. What is your proudest achievement?
I’m really proud that I have worked for two of the largest concert promoters in the world whilst under the age of 25. What’s exciting you in music at the moment?
The increasing trend for artists to go on tour at the earliest opportunity – nothing compares to seeing your favourite track performed live. What advice would you give to others hoping to forge a career in the live business?
Be prepared to start at the bottom and work hard – hard work does pay off as long as you are willing to go above, beyond and around your job description.
That no matter how amazing your marketing plan or strategy for your artist is – the music is paramount. Without hits we don’t have a job!
Being involved in Olly’s first No.1 album was pretty special. And selling out the O2 Arena twice this year was incredible – I can remember going to my first gig there and dreaming of working with someone that could go on to play there. What advice would you have for anyone trying to break into the business?
Perseverance and passion! If you have both you stand a good chance of succeeding. Many people have the view that this is a very glamorous job and don’t see how much hard work and time you have to put in behind the scenes. Don’t get me wrong though, I get spoiled going to lots of gigs and festivals, which more than makes up for it.
November 2013 IQ Magazine
The New Bosses Danielle Buckley (UK)
Music & new events executive – Wembley Stadium
Buckley graduated with a first-class BA Honours degree in arts, music & entertainment management in 2008 and landed her first job at Derek Block Artistes Agency. She then worked at The Leighton-Pope Organisation before venturing to London 2012 to coordinate the headline talent for the Olympic and Paralympic opening and closing ceremonies. For the past year, Buckley has been at Wembley Stadium. How were you introduced to the business?
My dad runs a building company, which primarily works within entertainment facilities. From an early age I would go with him ‘to work’ pretending to be his PA. We were backstage at Wembley Arena, Hammersmith Apollo, Lyceum, Dominion – you name it. I always wanted to be a part of a venue and here I am now, 20 years later, at Wembley Stadium. What are the main issues you have to bear in mind in your day-to-day work?
Being at a 90,000-capacity venue, the content can be sparse and there are always smaller venues to take up with less risk, or new developments that need to be captured. We are a multifunctional venue, forever evolving to keep ahead of the game – investing in the pitch and a deeper stage pocket to enhance the dates we can hold music content. You always have to be two steps in front, or you won’t stand a chance. What’s the best thing about your job?
I’m doing what I’ve always wanted to do, in a place I’ve always wanted to be, in the industry I live for. What advice would you have for anyone trying to follow you into the business?
Work hard, gain experience, don’t give up, and remember to have fun. Post gaining my degree I applied for so many jobs with knock-back after knock-back. If you are determined and have a goal, don’t lose sight of it. Be everywhere you can and gain all the experience you can – things will fall into place. Greg Walsh (South Africa)
Managing director – G&G Productions
G&G Productions is a youth marketing agency/specialist event production company that has enjoyed success with South African tours such as Space Ibiza and Sensation. Walsh believes EDM is an exploding arena of endless talent, new sounds and new brands, and is creating new sub-genres almost monthly. How did you first become involved in the music industry?
I was looking for ways to cover my university tuition fees and ended up running weekly pub quizzes. My now business partner was a DJ throwing mostly under-18 parties at the time and he attended a quiz and asked to meet. Before I knew it, we were hosting events and dreaming up festivals. What’s the best thing about what you do?
I get to work with so many different people from all over the globe and introduce them to South Africa. When I receive comments like “best foreign country experience” or “worldclass service, thank you G&G” it makes it worthwhile. What’s the best advice you could give to someone else in your market?
Never fold to threats. The South African event landscape is plagued with ‘underworld’ involvement. Throughout my career I have maintained an unwavering commitment to keeping my affairs corporate and upstanding. The competition has threatened my life, my business and even gone so far as to threaten the lives of the audience at our shows. I have never folded to any threat and have kept the focus on momentum, often against my better judgement and personal fear. This approach has, however, always kept us strong, ahead, and continues to see us changing the landscape and market in South Africa. What is exciting you in the music business at the moment?
Consumerism and access to information has rendered the consumer massively demanding in today’s entertainment world. They want what is new all the time. With this comes huge possibility and opportunity, but it raises the stakes and the risks as you’re always taking chances.
IQ Magazine November 2013
Zeon Richards (UK)
Artist manager – Renowned Group
Richards went to school with Jermaine Scott Sinclair, aka Wretch 32, and fell into management through helping the artist establish himself. He has since added Jacob Banks, George The Poet and Knox Brown to the roster of acts he represents, attracting investment offers from some established management firms. How did you become a manager?
I used to help out Wretch as a friend, sending emails to DJs and stuff for him. I even tried to find him other managers, but he always said ‘no’ and that I was the only manager he’d work with. What was your big break?
I was working for a software company when the whole urban thing started to get commercial recognition. Tinie Tempah got B-listed at Radio One and a light bulb flicked. I told Wretch we had to go for it and we had to be professional about it, so I’d have to start talking to people as his manager. Our first single went to No.5; the next one went to No.2; and then Don’t Go was released and debuted at No.1. What’s the hardest decision you’ve had to make?
I started managing a female artist and we’d spent a lot of money on recording an album, but the dynamic between us just wasn’t right. But while I was working with her I came across George and then Jacob. I completely hit it off with them both and loved what they were doing. So I learned that you have to be passionate about your artist and have a good dynamic with them to properly represent them. And it’s a difficult conversation when you have to sever a relationship. You’ve had some good times, so far. What do you count as your biggest achievements?
Going to No.1 with Wretch was huge – our goal before that was to sell out the Jazz Café. On a personal level, getting that sense of acceptance and recognition that what I do is a career is really satisfying. Also, having Rocket Management and Quest offering to invest in me is just incredible.
November 2013 IQ Magazine
Paul Franklin Photo © Sam Gutierrez
Franklin Speaking It’s 25 years since Paul Franklin managed to talk his way through the doors of World Service – initially as a bean counter. But Gordon Masson discovers that aspirations to become a rock god were what led the affable agent on his path to industry stardom...
dmiringly known as one of the best-looking agents in the business (although begrudgingly, in some cases), Paul Franklin hasn’t just relied on aesthetics to get to the top, as a steely determination, endless hard work – and some bold persuasive techniques – have all been major factors in a stellar career, which this year chalks up its quarter-of-acentury milestone, 21 of which have been as an agent. In talking to the dozens of peers and admirers for this celebration of Franklin’s 25th year in live music, “debonair”, “James Bond” and “Mr Darcy” came up often – and even “eye candy” from one of his acts. But so do the platitudes about his calm demeanour and long-term strategic approach to his artists’ careers. Moreover, his uncanny ability to spot talent after just one encounter, and to nurture and develop those artists into true international stars, is legendary. But deep down, Franklin admits his burning desire in early years was to be like one of the artists he now represents, and his career path was, primarily, borne out of an acceptance that his musical endeavours were not as engaging as he’d hoped. “My first job was at [UK collection society] PPL where I was an accounts assistant,” he tells IQ. “I’d joined a band as a singer and the PPL hours suited me because I could basically work 9 to 5, but rehearse and play music after hours. Luckily, there’s no footage of any of the bands I played in and, funnily enough, I’ve conveniently forgotten their names. We met with a couple of labels, but basically we just weren’t good enough. The low point was probably with the first band’s punk rock version of Seasons in the Sun...”
IQ Magazine November 2013
orn in Dartford, Kent, Franklin grew up in the village of Hextable, which he describes as “really quiet, so I would make regular trips to London for shows, etc.” He attended Wilmington Grammar School, where he loved sport. “I loved playing football and achieved County Standard, before, like lots of teenagers, I discovered other distractions. So I hung up my boots at an early age, although I do dust them off once a year at Wembley Stadium during ILMC.” Indeed, those mad March matches witnessed one of Franklin’s proudest moments, although its legendary status was, sadly, not recorded for posterity. “I scored a wonder goal, but there was an issue with the camera. The only ten seconds of the game missing was when I scored. I was about 20 yards out and hit a curling chip into the top corner – but that will probably become 30 yards as the years tick by,” he laughs. That passion for football continues, however, as he coaches one of his son’s teams, while he also admits to being a passionate fan of Liverpool FC. “My hero is Kenny Dalglish, who I’ve been lucky enough to meet a few times. He’s a lovely guy and remains one of the best football players ever..” Returning to his route into agency, Franklin says that after two years at PPL, he did a similar stint at ad agency BBH. “I was looking to get into the music industry because I wanted to know more about the business to help my musical career,” he says. “In 1988, I joined World Service,” he continues.
Paul Franklin Paul and Amy
deserves that success. Some people have their careers handed to them on a plate, but Paul has grafted for the things he’s achieved. He’s one of the good guys, and I’m happy to have been one of the background figures in his continuing story.” Pondering the Primary days, Franklin adds, “I’m indebted to Martin Hopewell who really backed me from day one, while Steve Hedges was also a great supporter; his door was always open and I really appreciated that.”
D “Apparently, the previous accountant didn’t take kindly to the strong language within an agency office, so they wanted someone who would embrace this environment and the strong characters of some of the agents. I got used to it quickly and really enjoyed the whole experience.” Martin Hopewell says, “I first came across Paul back in the 80s after he’d somehow managed to talk my partner, Kenny Bell, into giving him a job as the bookkeeper at World Service Agency. It turned out that Paul didn’t really have a clue how to keep books – so I’ve no idea how he managed to pull that off. We didn’t go bust, though, so I guess he must have learned fast.” It was four years later, in October 1990, that World Service merged with Station Agency and Foundation Agency to form Primary Talent, finally presenting Franklin with opportunities – and an epiphany. “I’d listen to demos as they came in and it dawned on me that my band wasn’t good enough, so I left singing behind and concentrated on trying to become an agent,” Franklin admits. “At Primary, I started working with Peter Maloney who headed the accounts department. But around this time an agent left so I spoke to Martin about becoming an assistant agent and he agreed, as long as I kept the dual role, in case it didn’t work out.” Primary’s Maloney comments, “I still have the invoice book with Paul’s handwriting filling the first three months: Invoice No.1, Depeche Mode; No.2, 24-7 Spyz; No.3, Devo, etc. But Paul really wanted to be an agent, and in fairness, he made this clear from day one. I remember being under pressure to get a replacement not just from Paul, but from some of his colleagues – he was extraordinarily popular and everybody wanted to see him succeed as an agent. The handwriting in the cash book changed in January 1991, so he must have become a booker at that point.” For his part, Hopewell says, “Accounts was clearly not Paul’s main goal, because within a few years he was nagging me to start booking bands. Eventually I caved in and within a few months he somehow managed to amass a roster of pop acts, of which most – against all the odds – suddenly took off. As far as being an agent is concerned, the rest is history, but along the way he even succeeded in persuading my lovely assistant, Jane Dawson, to become his wife.” Hopewell adds, “Having the gift of the gab doesn’t mean you can’t be a genuine chap, though – and Paul is certainly that. He has been a fantastic supporter of the ILMC since day one – from being one of the unpaid registration helpers in the early days to being one of the star delegates of the last few years. And he
Establishing a Roster
riven to make his mark, Franklin grasped his opportunity. “I started working with some new cool Indie bands, but I quickly found when senior agents came knocking I could lose those acts. So I knew I had to toughen up, but I also needed to make the company money to prove myself.” Hinting at the strategic approach he is renowned for, Franklin, then 24, devised a plan that still serves him well. “I had to find a band that made money but was not on anyone else’s radar,” he states. “An Abba tribute band was selling out shows across London. Björn Again didn’t sound like the coolest act, but I checked them out. Management was very astute, and we discussed how we could break them worldwide.” The solution was a masterstroke. “We did the opposite of what was expected by playing rock venues and festivals,” Franklin says. “It really connected when I placed them on 1992’s Reading Festival bill, which Nirvana headlined, with BA playing the slot between L7 and the Beastie Boys. They played a cover of Teen Spirit and 70,000 people went nuts! From that moment, we were off.”
Paul and fellow agent Tim Elwes in Primary’s offices, circa 1991
November 2013 IQ Magazine
Paul Franklin Paul with Busted
Björn Again creator Rod Stephen notes, “There have been many great highlights over the years and a few lowlights as well. The best example was when Paul organised some shows in Hong Kong for the handover to the Chinese Government in May 1997. After Prince Charles and Governor Chris Patton had symbolically sailed out of the harbour on the QE2, Björn Again went on stage – pretty remarkable given we’re a bunch of Aussies, pretending to be Swedes, performing on what was English soil to be handed back to the Chinese... The show was a massive success with plaudits from the likes of Robert Plant, who was backstage. “Slightly in contrast, was another handover event – Frogfest, on Lantau Island, two days before. This memorable low point featured a small, rickety stage sinking on one side into a deep swamp with thousands of loud croaking frogs, a very suspect connecting bridge to negotiate, and hundreds of overly amorous insects the size of small birds. Good work, Paul!”
Another successful strategy was Franklin’s decision to specialise in what was, then, an unfashionable genre among agents. “As I developed my roster, I realised there was an opening in the pop market, which I’d always enjoyed. In 1997, I discovered boy band, Five. I loved their debut single and contacted their manager Chris Herbert, who had also formed the Spice Girls and had a great ear for pop. Five were signed by Simon Cowell and had a great team around them.” Five became one of Franklin’s first acts to have major international success – “my first ‘connection’ pop band,” as he puts it, and in the following years they went global with arena tours and stadium shows. Five split after five eventful years together, which was challenging at times, but was a useful education in how to deal with certain situations. Ironically the band have recently reformed for the ‘Big Reunion’ TV show and will be touring this Autumn. “It’s great to be working with them again and we have a lot of fun recounting the numerous stories,” says Franklin. And change recounting to recalling one occasion in the band’s latter days, he says “It was a stadium in Buenos Aires and a storm was predicted. Sure enough, it hit just as the doors opened. “The front rows were bright white seats for VIPs, but with the storm battering the stadium, none of them turned up. I walked into a heated discussion with the band, who wanted to know why the seats were empty. I pointed out the weather was a bit inclement, only to be hit with ‘Fuck inclement, whatever that means... why is nobody here?’ I remember sitting in the leaking dugout dreading a night of grief, but ironically, Five thought it was one of their best gigs ever.”
hrough representing such rising stars, artist managers started knocking at the door. And with a rapidly expanding roster, rival agencies also began to take notice of Franklin, and in 2001, he moved to pastures new. “Helter Skelter felt like the natural next step,” And with tells IQ. ”I loved my time at Primary, but I needed a fresh challenge and Helter Skelter just felt right. It also allowed me to work with a great new team of agents, including Mike Greek and Emma Banks, with whom I built a great relationship, and they’d later be a big part of my decision to join CAA.” His migration to Helter Skelter coincided with a resurgence in pop and the first X-Factor-type series in the form of Popstars. Again, Franklin was quick to spot an opening and made sure he was appointed agent for the show’s winners, Hear’Say. “Their first tour sold-out 40 arenas,” he says. “But it was the first and only tour, as their career was short-lived.” Nevertheless, such impressive numbers solidified Franklin’s reputation as the pop guru and prompted other acts to request meetings. “I started representing Sugababes who became a hugely successful girl band, touring extensively for ten years. Then I took on Busted, as I was totally sold by the idea of a pop band with guitars. Busted became very successful, selling over 50 arenas in the UK alone in their last year of touring.” Being part of the Busted team also led to another long-term client. “In 2003, I started repping McFly, a fresh-faced fourpiece who played me a handful of songs acoustically and I knew instantly they had something. They’ve just celebrated
Anniversary boys McFly with agent Paul
their tenth anniversary with four sold-out nights at the Royal Albert Hall and they remain the nicest individuals you could meet in this business.”
The Birth of a Legend
n addition to specialising in pop, Franklin also enjoys a reputation for launching the careers of a slew of singersongwriters and, in 2002, he came across an extraordinary chanteuse whom he knew could achieve global stardom. “One of the defining moments in my career was when I took on representation for Amy Winehouse. Her manager at that point was Nick Godwin and we knew each other well, so he asked me to come to 19 Management’s offices to meet her.” Franklin was smitten. “Amy was just this incredibly infectious person
Paul Franklin Eye candy. And members of The Saturdays.
with a wonderful voice and a fabulous sense of humour. I was totally taken with her immediately.” Pulling on his experience, Franklin’s mind switched into strategic overdrive to map a route to take Winehouse to the world. “We didn’t want to rush Amy, so we took things slowly to develop her performing skills,” he says. “Her first shows were at tiny venues, like The Cobden Club, where she’d sing to a handful of people. Then, in 2003, debut album Frank was released and we toured the UK, with the largest show being at Brixton Academy.” As often happens with artists, when a change of management takes place, the entire team is also replaced. Thankfully, the bond between Franklin and Winehouse was strong, while there was also an existing relationship with Metropolis Music’s Raye Cosbert, who was appointed her new manager in 2005. Cosbert tells IQ, “I’ve worked with Paul on many projects over the years, but notably Amy, who once mistook him for Mr Darcy from Pride and Prejudice. Paul is very precise and honest. He’s always working to move his artists’ careers forward, although he’s not shy in telling you that sometimes you need to take a step back to move forward. He’s a great strategist and puts a lot of thought into what he does for his acts.” Detailing those early days of working with Cosbert, Franklin says, “Back to Black was released and just exploded, allowing Amy to tour across the world to great success.” Still mourning the loss of such a talent, Franklin says it was a blessing to know the girl behind the voice. “At a show in Blackpool there was a 12-year-old girl in the front row with her mum who caught Amy’s eye. She asked them backstage straight after the show and spent a full hour styling the little girl’s hair into a beehive and doing her make-up without letting anyone else in to see her. It was the best meet-and-greet you could ever imagine.” Reporting another intimate moment, he says, “At a private show, there were some young kids that couldn’t see, so Amy got them to sit on stage as she performed. One of the children was drawing a picture of Amy, and when she saw this she stopped the show and sat down to draw with them whilst the band waited patiently, before continuing the show again. That was the Amy very few people got to see – she had a really good heart and it was a total pleasure to work with her for nine years with so many great memories.”
f course, Winehouse isn’t the only singer-songwriter to rely on Franklin. In 2005, he began repping Corinne Bailey Rae and James Morrison, and he reveals that they continue to keep him busy, with both artists scheduled to release new albums in 2014. Another couple of acts seemingly constantly active also date back to the mid-noughties. “At the time I took on Corinne and James, I also signed Taio Cruz, who continues to tour round the world each year; and The Saturdays, who still remain one of the most popular girl bands in the UK. Both will be touring again in 2014.” Keen to point out the benefits of their booker, Mollie King from The Saturdays says, “We’re really proud to have Paul Franklin as our agent. He is completely supportive and having a bit of eye candy on tour never hurt anyone!” But it isn’t just vocal artists and musicians that profit from his expertise. “In 2008, I met the incredibly talented magician Dynamo at a party,” Franklin says. “He performed some mesmerising tricks and even though it was never my plan to represent a magician, Dynamo was too special to ignore. While taking on non-music acts might be frowned upon in certain companies, Franklin’s latest employers have actively encouraged him to spread his wings, as well as reuniting him with friends and colleagues from earlier in his career. “In 2009, Helter Skelter came to a natural end,” he says, explaining his change of employment in October of that year. “I explored several options, but because I’d enjoyed five great years working with Emma and Mike, and Rob Light made such an impression on me, CAA seemed like the right move. I also loved the fact that CAA was a multi-service company: our job isn’t just about booking shows anymore and CAA offered me a 360-degree approach to developing my acts’ careers worldwide.” From his employers’ point of view, the appointment was long overdue. “When Helter Skelter came to the end, we were fortunate enough to persuade Emma Banks and Mike Greek to establish our London office,” says CAA head of music, Rob Light. “Paul was Helter Skelter’s third component and when I met him, I realised he had the personality and tone that made him a perfect fit for CAA. Unfortunately, he still
November 2013 IQ Magazine
Paul Franklin Paul with Corinne Bailey Rae in Barcelona
had a contract and he wanted to honour that, so we agreed to perhaps have another conversation when his deal expired. When I met him the second time, I was just as sure about Paul as I was at our first meeting and we managed to get him to come to CAA.” Light adds, “I’m incredibly impressed by Paul; he has a great deal of aplomb and elegance. There aren’t many people like him – he recognises there’s a much bigger playing field in this business and a need to take a wider strategic view to develop his artists’ careers. Those are the kind of agents we want at CAA.” And it appears that the CAA years are fast becoming Franklin’s favourite. “I have lots of friends in the industry, but I’m lucky that two of my closest are at CAA: Nigel Hassler, who I also worked with at World Service, Primary Talent and Helter Skelter – we follow each other around; while I’m also close to Jake Leighton-Pope here in the office.” Another colleague that remains constant is Franklin’s assistant, Julie Lee, of whom he says, “Julie has been with me for the last seven years and she’s a joy to work with; I’d be lost without her. I’m delighted she’s stuck with me for so long.” Since joining CAA, Franklin’s pop roster has continued to flourish, with The Wanted appointing him as agent in 2009, and Lawson and Eliza Doolittle doing likewise, while turns such as Demi Lovato and the Jonas Brothers are currently receiving the Franklin treatment with UK and European tours planned next year. But when it comes to his new signings, one in particular is exciting him. “One of my best signings over the last couple of years was Jessie J, who is one of the most special artists I’ve worked with,” he says. “She’s a truly incredible performer and after her UK arena tour this autumn, she will embark on a world tour in 2014.”
aving a job you love rarely seems like hard work and Franklin struggles to believe 25 years have passed since he prised open the doors at World Service. Bemoaning the fact that too many people rely solely on emails, rather than picking up the phone, he nevertheless concedes that most changes in the business have been for the better. And one thing he would never change is the talent he has worked with, although when asked for a wish list of acts he wishes he’d represented, it’s a short answer: “The Smiths!” He explains, “In my teens, the act I really connected with was The Smiths. They were one of my first gigs: Brixton in 1983. “I was a bit of a late starter in terms of going to gigs, partly due to where I lived, but once I started, I was hooked! The Smiths were a real inspiration. Morrissey’s lyrics evoked so many emotions and partnered with the genius of Johnny Marr, they were, and continue to be, my favourite act. They say you should never work with your heroes, but I’d make an exception for The Smiths. They are the one act I’d love to see reunite.” Like most great agents, the satisfaction in seeing his acts blossom is one of Franklin’s greatest pleasures. But he admits that discovering raw talent before anyone else has seen or heard it remains the most fulfilling element. And for a man with an ear for music that any record company exec would kill for, those moments of discovery can be
very swift indeed – none of the umm-ing and ahh-ing of the modern A&R for Paul Franklin! “The best part of the job is finding new talent and creatively developing their career,” he enthuses. “There’s nothing better than finding an act that truly excites you, and watching the first show. A high percentage of the acts I represent were signed on the strength of hearing a couple of early demos and seeing one performance: I follow my instinct and this has served me well over the years.” Acts that fall into Franklin’s instant reaction category are stellar – Amy Winehouse, James Morrison, Corinne Bailey Rae, McFly, Busted, Sugababes, The Wanted, Taio Cruz, The Saturdays and many more. And the same is true for the newcomers to his roster, “Mercury Music Prize-nominated Laura Mvula; James Bay, who is an incredible new singersongwriter; and Leah Mcfall, who was the standout vocalist on The Voice this year finishing second. Both James and Leah will have debut albums released in 2014.” He adds, “Pop band The Vamps will break strongly next year. Their first single debuted at No.2 earlier this month and arena supports already confirmed for 2014 include Taylor Swift and The Wanted before they will embark on their own tour later in the year.” So, when asked about ambitions for the future, Franklin’s response is unsurprisingly simple: “I love my job, so I just want to keep on enjoying what I do for as long as possible. Roll on the next 25 years.”
Mr Darcy brings a ponytail as his guest to Primary’s 1993 Christmas party
November 2013 IQ Magazine
Testimonials Ian Huffam, Emma Banks and Paul at ILMC in 1998
Gideon Karting, Mojo Concerts
I wasn’t working in the business long when, for some reason, Paul decided to work on an act with me. It was one of my first sold-out shows at a 1,500-cap venue and, for me, the first time the agent came over to see the show. On my way to the show I started panicking; Paul is always very well-dressed, so I couldn’t meet him in jeans and a sweater, so I borrowed cash from a colleague to buy a new jacket, which I don’t think he ever noticed. Paul is a very nice man, who still acts nice when he’s an agent. Thanks for great shows in the past and the future.
Emma Banks, CAA
When we were looking for the perfect mixture of brains, tan and stunning good looks to join CAA, Paul Franklin was our one-stop-shop. My memory is probably failing a bit, but I’m quite sure Paul is as debonair today as he was when I met him over 20 years ago. He’s a great agent, every artist is a priority for him and proof of his dedication and talent is easy to see when you consider all the great acts he has worked with over the years. He is a piece of the fabric of CAA in London – much loved by all and always on hand with some advice when needed. Congrats Paul on 25 glorious years.
Thomas Ovesen, Done Events
Paul is not only approachable, but also up for a bit of fun – I’ve actually talked more business than done business with Paul. But we did work on, what until show time, was a very successful and unique Amy Winehouse Dubai promotion and an experience that, combined with her way too early departure only a few weeks later, also tested our agent-promoter relationship. I can think of other agents that wouldn’t have been as concerned about my situation as Paul was, whilst also considering the interests of his artist, and so I will still do business with him, having fun doing it, anytime I can.
Dave Corbett, DF Concerts
Paul is widely known as the UK’s best looking agent. In the early years, he was often to be seen with a gaggle of beauties at the bar after a gig. We would often enquire if he had any spare? He is a very talented agent, always organised and professional. Here’s to another 25 years, if he can stand it.
George Roberts-Bascombe, manager of Eliza Doolittle
It has been a true joy working with Paul. His passion, belief and vision have been second to none and he always has his eye on the bigger picture. Plus, he has great hair and style. From: Team Eliza.
Silvio Huber, NuCoast Entertainment
Paul was one of the first established agents to work with me at the very beginning of my promoter career. I truly appreciated Paul’s confidence and support, which helped a lot in raising my reputation. Looking forward to another 25 years – happy jubilee, Paul.
Attie van Wyk, Big Concerts International
I had the privilege of working with Paul on two occasions in 2002 and 2004 when we promoted Björn Again in South Africa. He is a true professional and is passionate about the artists he represents. He is undoubtedly one of the nicest guys in the business and we look forward to working with him again.
Jake Leighton-Pope, Creative Artists Agency
Although we work in a very fast moving and busy environment, Paul always finds time for you, to ask how you are doing, both personally and professionally. He has managed to find that elusive balance between work and home life, and that is a rare breed in this business. Great colleague; great friend.
Herman Schueremans, Live Nation Belgium
Paul is one of those agents that takes time to explain what he wants and who listens to our arguments about how we build his acts via a mix of indoor shows and the right spots at our key festivals. Those conversations are always amicable and creative and I must say I’ve learned a lot from him and, therefore, I follow him. Keep going, Paul.
Neo Sala, Doctor Music Concerts
Paul is a true gentleman in a modern way. Working with him is a real pleasure. Paul receives an Arthur award for Second Least Offensive Agent, at ILMC 12
November 2013 IQ Magazine
Paul Franklin Paul with his footie hero, Kenny Dalglish
Carlos Fleischmann, Creative Talent
Paul was one of the first agents I ever worked with and he’s become one of my biggest friends in the business. I’m eternally grateful that he has always trusted me with his top acts, especially Miss Winehouse. I call him Dr Franklin. He’s a magnet to the female side, but he also has a great professional attitude and it’s a blessing to have an agent like Paul in this world because of his morality and loyalty.
Michael Harrison, Frontier Touring
Matt Woolliscroft, SJM Concerts
What I like most about Paul is his seemingly neverending appetite to reroute tours. Joking aside, he’s a really straightforward and honest agent to deal with and it’s always a pleasure and fun to work with him, no matter how many dates we have to hold.
Jesper Christensen, Live Nation Denmark
There are only good things to say about Paul – down the years, he has always been a true, loyal gentleman. He’s always calm and focused, even when he’s dealing with a difficult artist. I hope he is up for another 25 years, as he is one of the people in the industry who make it a fun and friendly place to be.
Patrick Bartz, den Atelier
Agents replying to emails within 24 hours have become a rare breed. Paul has always been a pleasure to work with in terms of speed and efficiency.
Jeppe Nissen, Live Nation Denmark
Paul is always fair and cool to work with and is the definition of a true gentleman – and still with the best-looking hair in the business. I’m hoping for many more years of good collaboration.
Chris Herbert, artist manager
Paul, genuinely is one of the good guys and is possibly the most non-stereotypical industry character – unaffected; cool and calm; with no ego or pretence. I’ve had the privilege of working with Paul over the last 15 years on a number of international touring acts and whilst it’s always been business, we’ve also shared many hilarious times. Paul has an unparalleled ability to sight an unknown artist and build them from grassroots to the very pinnacle; his energy, foresight and strategic thinking rank him the best in his field.
Salomon Hazot, Nous Productions
In the UK, there are only two names in the entertainment industry that will go down in history – James Bond and James Bond 2 (aka Paul Franklin). Everyone I know recognises Paul as the other Bond. You want proof? Look at his roster; it is 90% female, or ‘the Bond Girls’ as we know it. But it’s not surprising, he is just class. Pure James Bond.
Toby Leighton-Pope, Live Nation
Paul is a really great guy. He’s one of the top agents in the music industry and working with him is always a complete joy.
IQ Magazine November 2013
Paul was one of the very first agents I met at SXSW. Along with Mike Greek, he was one of the first to give me an opportunity as a promoter and our relationship has grown into a great partnership over the years. I treasure his friendship and admire his professionalism. On behalf of everyone at Frontier, congratulations on your industry milestone.
Mike Greek, CAA
Mr Darcy combines style and panache with a cool killer instinct. Paul is one of the most positive people I know, a fantastic colleague, a friend and I am sure will still be going strong in another 25 years.
Nigel Hassler, CAA
I’ve known Paul since day one of his career. I’d only been with the company for about two years when Paul joined so I was still finding my feet and felt I needed to keep him in his place. I remember while driving to a show, I played Paul a new act I was trying to sign. After a couple of songs Paul said he didn’t like them. So I replied with the now memorable line ‘Well that’s why I’m an agent and you are an accountant.’ Needless to say, the group went on to achieve nothing and Paul went on to be a great agent. Not only is Paul one of my closest friends in the business, he is one of my closest friends, full stop. He has worked so hard that he deserves every success. Paul is charming, engaging and is a master at working the room. He has spent the time building great relationships with record companies, managers and his artists. Congrats Paul, it has been amazing working with you for all these years.
Peter Loraine, artist manager
Paul is such a vital part of our team. He understands how the pop world works perfectly and within a world that is often particularly stressy, he always remains calm. Nothing is too much trouble for Paul. He’s a trustworthy, supportive guy who I am very proud to work with and call a friend.
Mario Mendrzycki, Triple M Entertainment
“Paul and myself had already been cooperating closely for quite some years, when one of his artists massively broke onto the big screen. Since I totally adored the music and strongly believed in the longevity potential – the only one time in my life as a promoter – I offered ‘carte blanche’. Hence Paul was in a position to quote any fee at his discretion. At the time on this particular artist, he already had a tiny little bit of club history with another promoter and Paul felt he shouldn’t accept my ‘obscene’ proposal. This will give you an even better idea what sort of guy he is! Paul is a true professional, a loyal friend and I salute him on his achievements. By putting the artist first at all times, he’s still always open to take on board local expertise.”
Festival Report A European summertime blessed with good weather seems to have helped events in 2013. And while there were the usual casualties of festival cancellations and bankruptcies, the overall mood in our sixth annual European Festival Report is overwhelmingly positive. A total of 82 festivals participated in this year’s surveys – a couple more than responded for our annual health check of the market in 2012. What makes that all the more remarkable is a significant turnover in respondents – of the 82 festivals that filled in surveys for us this year, 39 did not take part in our 2012 census. While we attempt to deliver you data and analysis that reflects the issues and trends affecting the European festivals business, the quality of our data very much depends on the events that participate. So the following pages report the figures that this year’s 80 participating festivals have provided us with,, although we also compare the numbers to the experience of 12 months ago, just to identify any key movements throughout the continent. So, where to start? Well, as hinted above, optimism among Europe’s festival organisers seems to be growing and there are signs that people believe that the worst of the recession years might finally be behind us, on this side of the Atlantic. As usual in our annual survey, we asked festival organisers to give their opinion of the overall health of the market and, despite some of the indications elsewhere, the results were encouraging. In last year’s report, just 28% of our 80 respondents described the festival landscape in Europe as healthy. This year, confidence appears to be returning, as nearly half (46%) of our surveyed events used the term ‘healthy’ for the sector. Indeed, an impressive 78% described the market as ‘healthy’ or ‘static’, while the negative responses totalled 21%. But underlining the rosier outlook, the ‘worrying’ description among promoters dropped from 20% a year ago to just 14% in 2013. And for the vigilant among you wondering what the remaining 1% of events think of the marketplace, one of our respondents described it as ‘fantastic’. Addressing the health of the business, one of the continent’s foremost festival owners, Folkert Koopmans, of FKP Scorpio, reports mostly encouraging results for his stable of 18 events, dotted around Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland. “In Germany, Hurricane, Southside and Mera Luna sold out; Bråvalla sold out in Sweden; and Best Kept Secret sold out in Holland. But Hultsfred [in Sweden] failed and we’re going to have to think about the concept there ahead of next year,” he told delegates at last month’s Reeperbahn conference in Hamburg. However, pinpointing some of the obvious differences between countries, Koopmans added, “The problems with Swedish festivals failing are pretty much home-made.” He opined, “Events still had a 70s attitude and spent huge amounts of money on side projects. We’ve also found out that Swedes go to new things right away. In Germany, people don’t do that –
they want to know that something is established and works. But at our new Bråvalla Festival we had more than 50,000 people. Swedish people move on and don’t seem to care about the old brands – people seem keen to go to the hottest new thing.” Turning to the failure of Hultsfred, Koopmans stated, “The brand was maybe a bit too damaged when we took it over. It went bankrupt three years ago and people didn’t get their money back.” And he contends such issues can have a longterm impact on the ticket-buying public, because although his newest event in Sweden enjoyed inaugural success, just days before gates opened, things were looking shaky. “Bråvalla sold 10,000 tickets in the final week because people were waiting to see if the festival would actually happen. So people not getting their money back from one event can be a major problem for all other promoters.” In a year where festivals failed in many countries around Europe, such warnings from arguably the most knowledgeable mind in the business should be heeded, because if the Swedish experience is anything to go by, new festival launches elsewhere might also find themselves playing a game of brinkmanship when it comes to ticket sales.
Festival Report Ticketing
Often criticised for the way in which it drives ticket prices ever higher, the live music business, from a festivals standpoint at least, seems determined to keep prices as static as possible for punters, perhaps knowing the effect that the economic downturn has had on the disposable income of their customers. A number of our respondents to this year’s survey run free
1% Media Walk Up 1% 6%
Ticket sales by type
November 2013 IQ Magazine
Festival Report events, so that handful of festivals was not included in our calculations for obvious reasons and neither were those events that launched in 2013, as they had no gauge to tie them to last year’s charges. But with prices ranging from just €10 for a full festival pass, right up to a whopping €330, there was something for every wallet this summer. Studying this year’s survey, the average price fans paid to attend those events worked out at €129, which was €1 less than the average €130 they would have had to pay for the same events 12 months ago. Although that decrease is very marginal, it is still, nevertheless, a price cut and illustrates clearly that promoters are listening to the needs of their customers. César Andión at the 25,000-capacity Dcode festival in Spain reports that tickets were €60 this year (and €40 for early birds), compared to €90 last year when it was a two-day event. “[We lowered] the price because of the Spanish economic situation,” he says, adding that the “Oneday-er concept has been a success.” Where there was some movement in ticketing was the way consumers are buying their festival passes. Unsurprisingly, most tickets to European events were bought online, but as the reach of broadband continues to spread throughout the continent, it seems that web-based sales outlets are tightening their stranglehold on the market: a whopping 74% of tickets among our survey respondents were sold via online outlets – up from 64% in 2012. The biggest loser when it came to sales outlets were box offices which saw their share of the pile shrink from 26% to 14%. What might surprise some people is that ticket sales via mobile devices and social media are still negligible, with both platforms accounting for about 1% each of total sales. Given the importance placed on that technology elsewhere in the business – and the seemingly endless pots of cash that mobile phone operators and social media sites throw at live music events – the general public seems reluctant to trust those methods for securing their precious festival tickets. Mind you, at 1% each, both platforms doubled the volume of tickets they processed two years ago, so there is some upward movement. Elsewhere, the number of tickets bought by people placing orders with call centres remained static at 4%, while walk-up tickets accounted for 6% during 2013 (5% in 2012), pointing to marginally more people leaving it to the last minute to fulfil their festival fix. As for the structure of festival ticketing, the only shift of any note was the slight increase in the proportion of day passes bought, which nudged northwards from 32.5% to 34.7% – again, perhaps an indication that fans might not be able to afford passes for the entire event, but they’d still like to attend at least some of the festival. The proportion of tickets sold for the whole event remained encouragingly static at 46%, while roughly 20% of tickets sold were weekend tickets, reflecting those who perhaps cannot take days off work to attend events, but who still crave the overnight experience.
Festival Capacity and Attendance Given the risks involved in organising and promoting a music festival, the general feeling of optimism in Europe is heartening and when it came to the number of events that enjoyed placing sold-out signs across their ticketing outlets, the trend is definitely going in the right direction. Admittedly, the
IQ Magazine November 2013
2013 European Fantastic
1% Festival Report Healthy
How would you describe the European festival market?
Festival Report majority (57%) of our 80 participating festivals did not sell out, but for those in the lucky 43%, where demand exceeded supply, things were rosy indeed. And that number is a significant improvement on the 35% of events who reported sell-outs in last year’s report. One slightly worrying trend for events was the average attendance compared to capacity dropping from 78.8% in 2012 to just 74% this year. Two years ago, our surveyed festivals enjoyed an 82.2% yield in the attendance to capacity stats, but a number of events that participated in this year’s poll reported that they had increased the capacity of their site without aiming to sell additional tickets – instead they planned to use the extra space to enhance the atmosphere of the event. Overall, there was a 1.7% increase in capacity across our surveyed events this year, with average capacity rising to 40,357 compared to 39,673 a year ago. In the 2012 report, festivals increased capacity year-on-year by 5.2%, so although the numbers have crept higher again this year, there’s a significant slowing down in the rate of growth among our respondents. Of course, organising festivals is a never ending task of looking at ways to cut costs, as well as initiatives to improve the experience for fans. At Tønder Festival in Denmark, Carsten Panduro says, “2013 was the second year with a totally new fenced in festival site – and we continued to build on the experience from 2012. For example, we continued to broaden the musical profile, introduced musical theme areas covering music, dance and food – NOLA (New Orleans) and Little Dublin.” Sweden Rock’s Martin Forssman says, “We are sowing grass on parts of the area where there has been gravel until now. We are [also] making it possible to book accommodation and travel through our ticket system.” And further south, Igor Van Krieken of Portugal’s Optimus Alive! event cites, “Better access and conditions to people with reduced mobility; exclusive pregnant area with toilet and viewing platform; better social media experience.” As for ideas that will hopefully be adopted elsewhere, Shambala coordinator Chris Johnson reveals details of a great concept. “This year Shambala banned the sale of bottled water on site, and encouraged all participants to bring a reusable bottle. We saved over 10,000 bottles being used once and discarded. We also used reusable cups on all the bars, preventing over 100,000 plastic cups being discarded.”
Festival Report 40+
What proportion of your audience is from abroad?
festivals to death metal and everything in-between, the vast majority of respondents are involved in multi-day gatherings. Only a handful of our survey participants run one-day events, while 82% have festivals that run for three days and over and 18% fall into the category of five days-plus. Running large-scale events is not getting any cheaper and those respondents who reported staffing numbers revealed that their reliance on a volunteer workforce is growing. This year, 71 events revealed staffing levels and told IQ that they had totals of 74,144 volunteers and 42,870 paid professionals. That works out to a ratio of volunteers making up 63% of the festival workforce, compared to 59% in last year’s report.
Attendance from Abroad The availability of flights via budget airlines continues to have an impact throughout Europe, with more and more festival fans seeking far-flung adventures for their summertime music experiences. In this category of our survey we asked respondents to report what percentage of teir customers had travelled from other countries to attend their event. Anecdotally, music fans in the UK seem to be among those taking most advantage of cheaper ticket prices overseas, but this year’s survey did not include any facility for promoters to communicate exactly where their foreign audience members come from. Perhaps we’ll revise that in next year’s survey. However, the results of this part of the questionnaire were intriguing nonetheless. A whopping 20% of our respondents reported that more than 20% of their entire audience was made up of foreigners. Those figures matched with last year’s numbers, hinting that those events which spend time and effort marketing to an overseas crowd appear to be winning over a loyal group of fans. At the lower end of the scale there was significant movement. Of our respondents, 46% said their festival audience was made up of 0-5% of foreign visitors. Last year that number was 34.8%, backing the theory that people are becoming a bit more adventurous when it comes to taking a chance on festivals in other countries. Where that argument slightly falls down, however, is with those events that reported a foreign audience of between 6-10%: a year ago 22% of our respondents were in this category, but in 2013 this dipped markedly to just 12%. Talking to promoters from around Europe, the difference in attitude and strategy when it comes to actively attracting foreign visitors is stark. The likes of Sziget Festival, in Hungary, has achieved remarkable results, with an incredible 70% of attendees coming from other countries to the 75,000-capacity event. But while some organisers shy away from marketing their festivals in other countries, because they want to keep the event’s identity local, it appears that looking for new fans from abroad can also pose financial risks. Turkish promoter Baris Basaran of Pozitif Muzik says, “You have to be careful with your sponsors if you are trying to attract punters from other countries, because the sponsor may get cold feet if their product or service is not available in those other markets.” The variety of events in this year’s survey also illustrates the diverse nature of the European marketplace. From folk
VIP In the 2012 European Festival Report we undertook a major examination of the VIP market and just what these luxury packages were contributing to the bottom line for festival profitability. Ironically, while organisers claimed that offering such value-added services obviously allowed higher ticket prices, about 56% said it had no effect on profitability. Whether that rings true or not is debatable, but while just 30% of last year’s respondents had some level of VIP upgrade, 45% of this year’s surveyed events say they have VIP offers. And the recognition that the pricier tickets can contribute to the health of an event also seems to be growing, because more than half of the events that have VIP packages place some level of importance on the luxury end of the market. Using the ‘somewhat important’ category, 37% of the event organisers who have introduced VIP camping packages in recent years admitted as such, while a year ago those respondents in the ‘somewhat’ field amounted to 26%. However, while about 6% in 2012 labelled VIP as ‘very important’, that number halved this year. As for the ratio of festival audiences that upgrade to VIP camping, the numbers showed mixed results in comparison to a year ago. While 12 months ago 31% of our surveyed events reported that between 5-10% of their audience took upgraded, that figure this year dipped to 20%, and in a similar vein, the 10-20% category fell from 22% of respondents to 13%. Those decreases again hint at consumers counting the pennies and slashing the budgets that they once put aside for their festival experience. Very Important
Doesn’t Affect Profitability
How Important are VIP Packages?
November 2013 IQ Magazine
Green initiatives stepped up at festival season 2013 It is now commonplace for festival organisers to factor in measures to combat environmental consequences when planning their events. Car-sharing and recycling, for example, have been in place across the board for some years. However, each year sees another, more ambitious green initiative launched, and 2012/13 has, been no different. Part of the increase in sustainability measures is owed to the proliferation of supporting organisations, trade bodies and certifications which have sprung up around the music festival business. Among those having a positive effect across the UK, Europe and Australia are: Julie’s Bicycle, Yourope/Green Operations (GO, Europe), EcoActionPartnership (UK), Green Festival Alliance (UK), A Greener Festival (UK/Australia) and Powerful Thinking (UK, Europe). In the UK this summer, for example, Powerful Thinking monitored energy use at more than 20 festivals in association with partners, the Institute for Sustainable Energy, DeMontfort University and Midas UK. Considered to be the most comprehensive monitoring project ever undertaken in the UK outdoor events industry, results will be made available this autumn. Finding ways to conserve energy and reduce emissions remains paramount. Festival Republic (which has been accredited the highest three-star ‘Industry Green’ certification by Julie’s Bicycle for Latitude, Reading and Leeds) has been leading by example: this year the company installed meter boxes to 50 generators on-site at all of its UK shows to monitor their performance; and, for the first time, introduced a hybrid power solution (notably solar) to particular areas of the sites. Festival-goers have also been persuaded this year to adopt a more green approach with the EcoActionPartnership-driven campaign, ‘Love Your Tent’. It is estimated by A Greener Festival, a non-profit company that helps festivals adopt environmentally efficient practices, that some 400 tons of material (tents, sleeping bags, unused food, clothes etc) is left behind by attendees across every 10 festivals. Love Your Tent ran at more than 40 festivals in the UK and Europe and the outcome is thought to be extremely positive. Meanwhile, Shambala, which has repeatedly won the top award at the Greener Festival Awards, launched the ‘Bring A Bottle’ campaign and banned the sale of plastic bottles at its event, Organisers made it easier to get fresh, clean water by installing more taps across the site; worked with charity FRANK Water to provide free, chilled, filtered water on all the bars and provided reusable bottles for sale for those that forgot to bring one. Further afield, at events such as Melt! in Germany and Southbound in Western Australia, reward packages are becoming more commonplace. Patrons are encouraged to collect recyclable waste in exchange for €5/$5 vouchers which are redeemable against items/food/beverages that can be purchased on-site. Many of these initiatives are now documented in sustainability reports, which are produced by most outdoor event organisers. As the results from some of the larger initiatives come in, these should make for interesting reading.
New technology and RFID Although technology is revolutionising the festivals business, 59% of our surveyed events said they did not introduce anything new this year. Elsehere, 8% of respondent events started using cashless payment systems which, compared to the 17% that introduced cashless in 2012, suggests that the take up of such technology slowed during 2013. The biggest area of growth in the technology sector was mobile apps, which 12% of our surveyed festivals introduced this year. When it comes to RFID, just 1% of the festivals in our survey brought in that particular technology this year, compared to 5% a year ago. But the use of RFID systems nevertheless continues to grow, with those events that have already switched expanding on its use. Of our respondents, eight reported using RFID for cashless payments, six utilised it for access control, seven took advantage of its social networking possibilities, while 13 events said they used RFID for a mixture of those purposes. Talking at Reeperbahn in September, Mojo Concerts promoter Eric van Eerdenburg acknowledged that RFID does offer fantastic possibilities, but he noted, “It’s a big risk to switch everything over when you have a 55,000 festival operating 24 hours a day.” Turkish promoter Baris Basaran commented, “We’ve been using cashless for the last three years at our festivals and the big advantage is the data you can get so you can reprogramme the site for the highest grossing bars, etc.” But Van Eerdenburg countered that he has a coin system at his events which allows similar analysis: “It’s analog data, but it works well,” he added. FKP Scorpio’s Jasper Barendregt states, “Although there have been some successful tests with RFID systems and some interesting ideas about NFC, there’s still a lot to be learned about the use of this technology at festivals. We’ve been visiting several festivals and experienced a lot of failures, time outs and programming mistakes.” But Barendregt’s boss, Koopmans, remains upbeat and it looks as though the number of events that use the technology could be set to rise markedly in 2014. “In Sweden, everyone pays by card and that’s just way too slow. So maybe if we implement RFID in Sweden we can improve that,” Koopmans told Reeperbahn delegates. As our infographic on page 41 shows, the total number of European events now using contactless technology totals 34, according to data gleaned from specialists ID&C, IVS and Intellitix. Since 2011, ID&C has supplied more than 3.5 million RFID wristbands, 1 million of which were to festivals in 2013 alone. The company’s head of RFID Steve Daly reports that ID&C has seen a 50% increase in enquiries for cashless RFID systems during 2013, and a similar uplift in requests for social mediabased RFID activations. Daly tells IQ, “2013 will be looked back on as a seminal year for RFID technology. Contactless tech is having its boom and early signals further support our feelings that the global uptake of RFID is on an upward curve for 2014. The technology is reaching all sides of the festival globe – we have, for example, just supported a successful RFID wristband trial at Rock in Rio, where over 4,000 VIPs experienced cashless payments using their festival wristbands to make instantaneous transactions.” And it’s not just the big events that are interested in the technology. “Here in the UK, we’ve seen smaller festivals investing in RFID technology, with the 5,000-capacity Standon
November 2013 IQ Magazine
Festival Report Calling running a fully cashless operation in August. Uptake from some of the country’s smaller, independent festivals signifies a turning point for the technology, as the answer to one of the long-standing questions – can small festivals afford RFID technology?” Daly reports that the big players in the UK market are continuing to run trials, with British Summer Time (where the Stones played two successive weekends) deploying RFID wristbands for access control, cashless payments and social media integration. “For festivals adopting the technology or building on a previous trial, 2014 will be about cashless,” he adds. “Early adopters have shown an uplift in spend of anywhere between 20-30% per head. The technology offers festivals new revenue streams and cost-saving efficiencies that could sustain their future. And, while mobile can’t be ignored, in fields around the world it’s RFID and NFC-based cards and wristbands that are proving to be the chosen carrier for this exciting contactless revolution.” Commenting on the declining ratio of events that introduced RFID during 2013, Paul Pike, co founder of Intelligent Venue Solutions (IVS), says, “There was a bit of over expectation in the market after the strides made last year and what we have been doing this year is servicing our existing clients, such as Goodwood and the Isle of Wight Festival.” Pike says his company has employed a strategy designed to steadily introduce the new technology. “It’s quite a big step for an event to launch into a full RFID cashless scenario and we’ve taken the view that you have to walk before you run, so this year we have concentrated on introducing debit and credit card payments at festivals. We’re trying to create acceptance of using cards rather than cash to begin with, before moving on to other cashless technology.” IVS worked in cooperation with Global Payments and TS3 to introduce chip and pin payment facilities at the likes of V Festival, Cornbury and Isle of Wight this year and Pike says payment clearance took about 3-4 seconds, “which is much faster than at retail,” he says. Intellitix CEO Serge Grimaux notes that our report’s suggestion that expansion in the market has slowed down was the opposite of his company’s experience. Intellitix activated 1.5 million RFID chips for access control this year, as well as more than 150,000 for the operation’s next generation cashless applications. “We had a phenomenal response in Scandinavia and we entered Spain, Brazil and Australia for the first time, which was particularly pleasing as I’d targeted 2013 to launch in the southern hemisphere,” says Grimaux. Intellitix also made inroads into sport, introducing the technology to the PGA Irish Open in Dublin and the Champions League Final at Wembley Stadium, which Grimaux says was the company’s greatest brand activation to date. And despite launching his new cashless system six months later than planned, he says its ability to allow users to top-up funds using their smartphones was a great success. “We did this at the Open Road Festival in Hungary, which is a gathering for 15,000-20,000 members of the Harley Davidson club,” he says. “Everything was cashless and we even linked the RFID wristbands to the owners’ motorcycles so that nobody could leave the site on a bike that wasn’t tagged to their RFID pass.” RFID is also being used to include age control for buying alcohol at events, as well as more sophisticated applications such as assigning specific equipment to members of staff. And as the
Reasons festivals suffered a decline
Lack of Headliners
technology evolves, Grimaux says events activating cashless effectively get RFID free of charge. “If we service an event with cashless, which generates a minimum 20% uplift in revenues, then we deliver access control at no cost. So we’re making the event more money and basically our fee can come from that – we cost them nothing and we make them money,” he adds. Despite such obvious selling points, Pike comments, “Festivals don’t have to be a slave to RFID. There are lots of tech solutions we can tailor to each event.” He adds, “When it comes to RFID and access, I think growth will ultimately be sponsor driven, because when sponsors see that they can measure their impact through social media applications, then that’s when it could really take off.”
Top Concerns While optimism among our gang of 82 is increasing, the undeniable truth from our survey was that almost a quarter of our respondents (23%) suffered declines in audience numbers. Asked for their opinion on why less people had visited in 2013, 41% blamed the economy, 23% said it was down to inclement weather and 18% claimed that the lack of headline acts had put people off. Intriguingly, the remaining 18% said that A Lack of Headliners Production Costs
What do you believe will affect the industry over the next 5 years?
November 2013 IQ Magazine
Festival Report “Usually2013 competition means better European product at lower prices. But in our business, competition between promoters gets you a thinner line-up for a higher ticket price. The only people laughing are the artists and the agents.” European reveals that a And 2013 Koopmans new dilemma emerged this year – competition from festivals in North America. “This year is the first time I did not get bands because they stayed in America thanks to all the new festivals that are launching there,” says Koopmans. But both he and Van Eerdenburg agree that 2013 European paying over the odds to land a big name act is no longer viable for most festivals. “The whole headliner business has to change,” says Van Eerdenburg. “Our audience is split more and more into niches and there are not that many acts any more that can sell 60,000 tickets just on their name alone.” Koopmans adds, “In the past 20 years, festivals have sold tickets because of their line-up. But that is going to change and already is if you look at the years, of Tomorrowland and Lowlands. Nowadays, it’s more about the service – for instance, at Best Kept Secret we sold more on food than we did on drink. That makes us more independent from booking the big headline acts that we cannot afford.” As part of our annual health check on the business, everyone completing a survey is asked to name the most important factor affecting the business, as well as what they believe is the second most important factor. As with previous years, artist fees remain the number one concern, as well as the second biggest concern for our respondents. The state of the economy was another major concern, as it has been over the past few years, but perhaps the biggest shift in things that are causing festival organisers worries is the rise in production costs, while competition from other festivals also featured heavily among respondents’ second most important factors. Other events have more unique issues. “The age of our audience, in general, is more than 50 years – a challenge!” notes Steffen Juul Hansen of Riverboat Jazz Festival in Denmark.” And when we asked people to predict where the market is heading, one surprising result was that not a single person thought the weather would be an issue, despite the fact that numerous events have suffered through rain and storms in the past. But when prompted to name the issue that they think will affect festivals the most over the next five years, again artist
competition from other festivals had hit them hard. Last year, only 6% of respondents pinpointed competition, but given that another 12% said the Olympics had affected audience numbers, it would appear that competition from other events is a continual concern. What’s even more interesting is that no promoters blamed artist fees, while a year ago 6% identified that reason. Talking about his Rock for People festival in Czech Republic, Michal Thomes says, “There wasn’t a decline in ticket sales, but there were more one-day tickets sold. One of the main reasons is that the festival was during the week, not during the weekend or holidays.” When it comes to competition, it also appears event organisers are trying to call time on the outrageous fees that headline acts are being paid. Mojo’s Van Eerdenburg says,
IQ Magazine November 2013
Festival Report fees topped the poll, with 28% of events naming the spiralling cost of securing talent as the biggest concern for the future. Last year, competition was also high among those concerns for the next five years, with 25% of promoters worried about other events affecting their festival. This year, that figure was 21% and remained the number-two worry, while the potential threat of diminishing sponsorship revenues is causing more anxiety than a year ago with 13% of festival organisers fretting about those contributions, again perhaps because of the stuttering economies throughout Europe. Such concerns are prompting some events into being more proactive with their corporate partners. A spokesman for Spain’s Bilbao BBK Live says, “We continued - and will continue – to improve the formula in which the sponsors give content to the festival and vice versa.” Mikko Niemelä from Ruisrock in Finland believes there are other problems to consider. “Expansion of multinational companies like Live Nation into the festival business is having
a big impact on many independent festivals. Sweden is a prime example of this with what happened to Peace & Love.” Summing up, 2013 was another stellar year for festivals in Europe. The UK enjoyed its best summer in decades, boosting interest in outdoor events – a situation mirrored around many countries throughout the rest of the continent. And while a number of events failed or went bankrupt, a number of brave souls launched new events this year and enjoyed successful debuts. But with production costs increasing, economies still floundering and attendances falling, there are definite challenges for the industry to face and signs that some of the most influential promoters are looking to break the model of paying massive fees for headline stars. Only time will tell if messrs Koopmans and Van Eerdenburg will match their words with deeds, but perhaps in next year’s report we’ll be talking about a new business model for large-scale festivals that no longer rely on the A-list acts to attract ticket buyers.
What are the first and second most important factors affecting the festival industry currently?
First most important Second most important
20 15 10
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Ec o Cl nom im i at c e
ko he f su ad ita lin ble er s Pr od uc tio nC os ts
Participating festivals A Campingflight to Lowlands Paradise (NL), Alhambra Sound (ES), Appelpop (NL), Arezzo Wave Love (IT), Balaton Sound (HU), Belladrum Tartan Heart (UK), Best Kept Secret (NL), Bilbao BBK Live (ES), Bloodstock (UK), Blue Balls (CH), Blues Peer (BE), Bona Nit Barcelona (ES), Bospop (NL), Bråvalla (SE), Cactusfestival (BE), Chiemsee Reggae Summer (DE), Cornbury (UK), Dcode (ES), Deichbrand (DE), Distortion (DK), Efes Pilsen One Love (TR), Ejekt (GR), ELBJazz (DE), Exit (RS), Festi’neuch (CH), FortaRock (NL), Frequency (AT), Gurtenfestival (CH), Haapavesi Folk (FI), Heineken Jazzaldia (ES), HellFest (FR), Highfield (DE), Hurricane (DE), Ilosaarirock (FI), Indian Summer (NL), In-Somni (ES), Into The Great Wide Open (NL), JazzOpen Stuttgart (DE), Jelling Musikfestival (DK), Latitude (UK), Leeds (UK), Main Square (FR), M’era Luna (DE), Mighty Sounds (CZ), Montreux Jazz Festival (CH), Northside (DK), Open Air Gampel (CH), Optimus Alive! (PT), Øya (NO), Paleo (CH), Pinkpop (NL), Pitch (NL), PortAmérica (ES), Primavera Sound (ES), Provinssirock (FI), Reading (UK), Riverboat Jazz (DK), Rock en Seine (FR), Rock For People (CZ), Rock Oz’Arènes (CH), Rockwave (GR), Rock Werchter (BE), Roskilde (DK), Ruisrock (FI), Shambala (UK), Skive (DK), Slottsfjell (NO), Sonisphere (IT), SOS 4.8 (ES), Southside (DE), SummerDays (CH), Sweden Rock (SE), Sziget (HU), T in the Park (UK), Taksirat (MK), Taubertal (DE), Tønder Festival (DK), Tuska Open Air Metal (FI), Umsonst & Draussen (DE), Volt (HU), Wacken Open Air (DE), Where The Wild Things Are (NL).
November 2013 IQ Magazine
The Expo-nents As production costs and artist fees continue to spiral upwards, promoters are looking at other areas to boost margins. Christopher Austin learns that those with long-term vision are targeting the touring exhibitions businessâ€Ś In 2009, IQ examined the phenomena of numerous concert promoters jumping on the touring exhibition bandwagon as it gathered pace, fuelled by the huge success of blockbuster shows including Body Worlds, Titanic and Tutankhamun. Four years on, the merging of the boundaries between the touring exhibition and concert industries continue to blur, despite them being very distinct businesses. It is not just the major live music promoters such as Live Nation, Semmel Concerts and AEG Live that have established
an interest in the exhibitions business, Universal Music recently founded an exhibition unit as part of its live department, U-Live. As a result, the touring exhibitions business is expanding within established territories such as Europe and North America, while shows are increasingly arriving in farflung corners of Asia, South America and beyond. In Thailand, BEC-Tero Entertainment is a well-established multimedia business with interests across TV and radio production as well as concert and theatre show promotion. The
November 2013 IQ Magazine
Opposite page: ‘Body Worlds’
company’s latest ambition is the development of a profitable touring exhibitions arm. BEC-Tero’s focus on exhibitions comes despite the local market remaining largely uncharted territory for infotainment and the Thai people traditionally having demonstrated a lack of enthusiasm for museums. “Thai’s don’t like museums or anything dry, but we can see that there is an interest in something that blends entertainment and education and, as a family company, we are interested in bringing education to the Thai people,” says Neil Thompson, deputy managing director of BEC-Tero Entertainment. BEC-Tero kicked off its exhibitions business by promoting Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition at CentralWorld Live in Bangkok during the summer of 2012. Thompson is now looking to work with more “big name” exhibitions in 2014. “We want to work with quality exhibition brands that we can leverage off. The content has to be top quality. We need people to leave the exhibitions happy and start word of mouth – if we work with a B-grade product we will kill the market before it has evolved,” he says. Like its concert interests and work with family shows, Thompson is not expecting to build a hugely profitable business overnight, but he adds, “In five years’ time we believe touring exhibitions will be a strong business here.”
The Need for a Forum Despite the size and maturity of the touring exhibitions business in North America and Europe, the market lacked a dedicated international conference until 2012, when the Touring Exhibitions Meeting (TEM) made its debut in Paris with 60 delegates in attendance. Berlin hosted the second TEM in early September 2013 with 130 delegates from 30 countries. The conference was organised by German promoter Semmel Concerts alongside Finnish production company John Nurminen Events, who, respectively, are responsible for the Tutankhamun – His Tomb and His Treasures and NASA – The Human Adventure exhibitions. Semmel’s Christoph Scholz is one of the key figures behind TEM and he sees the non-profit event as an important way of bringing the burgeoning business community together. “We live in a decade of exhibition mania, big blockbuster exhibitions have become part of the pop culture, yet there was no dedicated conference for the industry,” Scholz says. Ireland’s MCD Productions has been promoting concerts since 1980, and in recent years has begun working with exhibitions. Promoter Noel McHale was at the inaugural TEM and appreciated the frank discussions, not least about finding ways to keep costs down. “Christoph saw there was a need for a conference because everything was fragmented with people in different countries not knowing what the others were doing. It is a great way of sharing information about everything from ticket sales to the quality of exhibitions,” McHale says. Brussels-based promoter Mario Iacampo of BME Exhibitions was among the delegates at the second TEM, which he says was an excellent networking vehicle. “Promoters are able to exchange information and help each other without compromising our businesses, because we are operating in different territories,” Iacampo observes. Iacampo has promoted numerous touring exhibitions including Kandinsky & Russia and Tutankhamun – His Tomb
IQ Magazine November 2013
and His Treasures. “What I look for in an exhibition is original content, something fresh with a strong storyline. You need to come away with a general knowledge of the subject matter and feel good about the money spent,” he says.
Competition and Cooperation With the average exhibition ticket price across North America and Europe rarely rising above the equivalent of $20 (€15), they offer great value family entertainment and are a far cheaper option than a concert. But, touring exhibitions face major competition in the form of the traditional home to the medium – museums. With museums largely being government funded, they are often able to offer the public free entry. And free has never been very easy to compete with. However, Iacampo comments, “It is not difficult to compete with museums: they have a different mandate and are more concerned about the curatorship than entertaining the public.” In the United States, where the majority of touring exhibitions are staged in museums and science centres, it appears the shows are playing a major role in attracting new visitors to the establishments. Speaking at TEM, Mark Lach, an exhibition designer at Premier Exhibitions, said that its Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), clearly illustrated the ability of such exhibitions to attract non-traditional audiences to the establishments. Some 65% of attendees had never been to LACMA before and 45% of attendees had never been to a museum at all. “That’s a huge percentage, which proves that special exhibitions can draw people who would’ve otherwise never gone to a museum,” notes Lach. John Norman is president of Arts & Exhibitions International (AEI) and Premier Exhibitions and oversees AEI’s travelling exhibitions. He is currently working with 20th Century Fox on an Ice Age exhibition that will combine fossils and artefacts along with animated characters and elements from the blockbuster family film franchise. “It will be a cutting-edge, new technology-based exhibition that talks about the different theories of the last and coming ice ages,” Norman says. From concept to reality, the team at Premier can spend anywhere between a year and 18 months developing exhibitions at a cost of up to $4million (€3m). The inclusion of original artefacts can raise costs considerably.
The Need for Brands Another forthcoming exhibition from Premier is Life and Death in Pompeii, which will debut at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia next year. Whether it’s a famous lost city or Hollywood blockbuster, Norman believes a recognisable brand or theme is vitally important, not only in terms of selling tickets but visitor interaction. “We have conducted research that confirms that when you deliver educational material to visitors via a familiar brand they tend to absorb the material much better,” he tells IQ. Without an established fan base to tap into, and pre-sales not playing a major role in the touring exhibitions business, the need for an established brand is vital when marketing touring exhibitions.
“The content has to be top quality. We need people to leave the exhibitions happy and start word of mouth – if we work with a B-grade product we will kill the market before it has evolved.” Neil Thompson, BEC-Tero Entertainment Dr. Gunther von Hagens’ controversial exhibition of plastinated human corpses, Body Worlds, has entertained more than 37 million visitors since its first exhibition in Tokyo 18 years ago. Gunther’s son Rurik von Hagens is the commercial director of Body Worlds, which continues to lure new audiences all over the world via different incarnations of the original exhibition, including Body Worlds & The Cycle of Life and Body Worlds Vital. Despite Body Worlds being a household name in many regions, Von Hagens junior does not underestimate the challenge of taking shows on the road, not least in new regions. “Promoting a concert is very different to promoting a touring exhibition,” he says. “A concert is usually one night and you work to get people through the door once. Exhibitions last several weeks or months and you constantly have to market the event and generate new information and stories. There is also no established fan base to tap into, so often you have to start from scratch every time you go somewhere new.” In all there are seven Body Worlds exhibitions currently showing, along with a permanent exhibition in New York. In 2012, Body Worlds ventured into South Africa for the first time and returned this year with an exhibition in Johannesburg’s Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit. According to Von Hagens, the biggest challenge when working in a new territory is finding the right venues and promoters. “No travelling exhibition had been to South Africa before so there was no established promoters for exhibitions. Luckily, we used Blue Ocean, which, as a result, has become established as one,” he says.
Hefty Investments Australian show developer Grande Exhibitions has significant experience of operating in far-flung regions, from Siberia to Bolivia. The company has had exhibitions in more than 70 cities across six continents. It currently has ten touring exhibitions and owns two private museums in Italy. Among the shows Grande Exhibitions currently has on the road are The Leonardo da Vinci Collection, Secrets of Mona Lisa and Van Gogh Alive. Rob Kirk runs Grande Exhibitions’ London office. Before developing a show, Kirk says a lot of time is spent analysing the market for a particular exhibition. In order to succeed, he says that it must be associated with a timeless brand and have global mass appeal. Naturally, the cost of shipping is a major consideration and the exhibitions are designed to be as cost efficiently portable
as possible. With seven-figure sums sunk into the productions, Kirk says the company works to ten-year plans in order to ensure they are profitable. When it comes to finding promoter partners, Kirk believes the participation of music promoters in the touring exhibitions business has proved advantageous. “The involvement of music promoters has helped open up markets that would not usually host an exhibition,” he states. “In South American countries, they often don’t have an established infrastructure for exhibitions, so the promoters have been able to get access to non-traditional venues. That has been a definite advantage for us – we would not have gone to a third of the territories that we have, if it wasn’t for that.”
Multi-year Strategies Boston-based promoters The Gold Group have been handling the marketing, booking and production for exhibitions for the past five years in the United States, during which time they have sold 20 million tickets. The company’s Joe Gold says that a lot of concert promoters got involved in exhibitions when they saw the blockbuster success of the likes of Body Worlds. “It looked very appealing to music promoters, but there is a good deal of difference, not least because the pay back is much longer. I have seen a lot of people want to get in to this business, but not been prepared to make that long-term commitment. It’s important not to simply look for that blockbuster exhibition because the day of the blockbuster may have come and gone,” Gold says. Regardless of whether an exhibition proves to be a blockbuster success, the majority of exhibition promoters feel that it is a less risky business than concert promoting. “The level of artist guarantee fees paid by concert promoters is crazy now and you only have one night to recoup. With exhibitions you can run them from three to six months so you have a long time to get a return on the investment. Also I’ve never once heard an artefact complain about catering,” laughs Iacampo. The Belgian promoter says that when promoting an exhibition, he spends approximately 60% of the budget at the outset on renting the venue, setting up the exhibition and launching the campaign. “From that perspective, the risk is that you are putting your money up front, but it is less risky than music because you have a long time to penetrate the market and if you have a good product
“I have seen a lot of people want to get into this business, but not been prepared to make that long-term commitment. It’s important not to simply look for that blockbuster exhibition because the day of the blockbuster may have come and gone.” Joe Gold, The Gold Group
November 2013 IQ Magazine
Touring Exhibitions ‘Tutankhamun - His Tomb and his Treasures’
“The level of artist guarantee fees paid by concert promoters is crazy now and you only have one night to recoup. With exhibitions you can run them from three to six months so you have a long time to get a return on the investment.” Mario Iacampo, BME Exhibitions and spark word of mouth, people will come,” Iacampo says. Unlike a concert featuring a major star, pre-sales of exhibition tickets are comparatively insignificant and in Von Hagen’s experience, usually amount to only 10-15% of ticket sales. Therefore, with the majority of ticket sales happening on the day, promoters are required to sustain a level of faith in the product. “In order for me to invest more than €800,000 in an exhibition it would really have to excite me because you have to get 75,000 people through the door to break even and we want to make money. But it’s certainly not as risky as paying $5m for Madonna,” Iacampo says.
Marketing Necessity While PR is considered a vitally important element of any exhibition promoter’s campaign, unlike concert promotion, social media is having less impact and the majority of promoters are finding greater success with more traditional avenues. McHale says that MCD tends to promote theatre shows via the same channels as its family shows. It also runs a widespread
schools programme. “We target a lot of schools and major education institutions and, as a result, kids from all over the country come to the exhibitions,” he says. Sponsorship may have become an important element of the business plan for music venues and promoters, but it remains a comparatively minor aspect of the exhibitions business and Joe Gold admits that finding a sponsor for an exhibition is often an immense struggle. “Sponsors have not quite realised the potential of reaching this educated public. Many of them don’t think exhibitions have the sex appeal of sports, theatre and music. To some degree it is an untouched demographic, but the sponsors we have worked with have been extremely satisfied,” he adds. Technology is also a key consideration when developing or promoting an exhibition. Whether it is interactive elements involving augmented reality or touch-screen technology; or the replacement of audio guides with multimedia options, consumers have begun to expect that bit more from an exhibition experience. “The old days of having an exhibition where people look at objects in cases are well and truly over. You need to enhance the experience with video elements and interactives so that people feel more involved,” Norman comments. But technology can add significantly to the bottom line when developing or promoting an exhibition and, if used insensitively, can actually detract from the experience. “In some exhibitions, the technology is the exhibit, whereas it should be supporting it and making it more interesting,” warns Iacampo. “Just because you put a touch-screen on an exhibit it doesn’t make it interactive and there has to be a reason why you have a hologram, otherwise it just seems like a cheap trick.” While it is clear that technology should support an exhibition storyline rather than the storyline supporting the technology, it appears just as obvious that music promoters should get involved in exhibitions for the right reason. There is clearly money to be made in the fast-evolving business of touring exhibitions, but with no obvious blockbuster around the corner, nerves of steel and a sustained commitment appear to be prerequisites to success.
November 2013 IQ Magazine
The SSE Hydro Renowned for the enthusiasm of its fans, Scotland has been a must-visit destination on the itinerary of touring artists for three or four decades. But with the opening of UK’s latest arena – The SSE Hydro – Scotland, at last, has a state-of-the-art venue it can be truly proud of. Olaf Furniss reports… In 1980, French director Bertrand Tavernier chose Glasgow’s Finnieston area to shoot scenes for his sci-fi movie, Death Watch. These days, he and his cast – which included Harvey Keitel, Romy Schneider and Harry Dean Stanton – would have difficulty recognising the neighbourhood. The warehouses have long been demolished and many of the wharfs are filled, but in keeping with the film’s theme, the former dock has been transformed by some of the most exciting modern buildings in the country. They include BBC Scotland’s HQ, the
Science Centre and since last month, The SSE Hydro. Officially opened with a Rod Stewart concert on 30 September, the 13,000-capacity (12,000 all-seated) arena marks a new era for live entertainment and provides the UNESCO City of Music with a purpose-built venue enabling it to attract more global acts. Designed by leading architects Foster + Partners (see side bar page 58), its arrival has been welcomed by promoters in Scotland and the rest of the UK.
November 2013 IQ Magazine
The Hydro “We have had many famous venues, many famous bands and many famous gigs, but we’ve always been lacking a top arena,” says Triple G owner Donald McLeod, who is promoting Queens of the Stone Age at The Hydro in November. And his enthusiasm is echoed by PCL director Paul Cardow, who has a Vampire Weekend show booked in the same month. “It’s great to see people are taking the live concert business as seriously as the conference industry,” he says.
International Appeal The £125million (€150m) venue was commissioned by the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC), which owns four halls and the Clyde Auditorium next door. Chief executive John Sharkey and his team identified a demand for the building, and spent four years raising the necessary funding. “We were increasingly finding we were having to turn away business,” he says, citing the limited capacity of 10,000 in the SECC’s largest space, Hall 4, as well as a lack of availability due to it being booked for conferences and other events. Both points are underlined by Kilimanjaro Live CEO Stuart Galbraith, who has four shows booked into The Hydro, including Peter Gabriel, Wet Wet Wet, Andrea Bocelli and Nitro Circus Live. “For the last two Andrea Bocelli tours we couldn’t get availability in Glasgow,” he says. “And we wouldn’t have been able to fit [action sport collective] Nitro Circus Live into the SECC Hall.” In addition to the business demand, Sharkey cites customer and client expectations as a motivation for embarking on The Hydro. “We wanted to be able to offer a superior experience,” he explains. “It had to be about the customer – sight lines, acoustics, comfort, hospitality options – the total journey.” From the outset, promoters were consulted in the process, among them Live Nation president of touring, international, Phil Bowdery, whose Justin Timberlake show announced for April is unlikely to have taken place in the SECC. “The main thing which came out of the meetings was to make sure the audience experience is of a standard that they will want to come back to the building,” Bowdery says. “It’s not the building which sells the ticket, it’s the artist. But if the fan has the experience that they like being in the building, it’s half the battle.” This strikes a chord with DF Concerts CEO, Geoff Ellis. “Having the gig in The Hydro is definitely helping ticket sales,” he says. “We are already seeing this with Simple Minds, who are enjoying their biggest ticket sales since Ibrox [Stadium], and Deacon Blue are on their way to selling out.” Along with Ellis, Regular Music director Mark Mackie regards the variable seating capacities as a significant advantage. “The Hydro has a very useful degree of flexibility with both seating/standing [options] on the lower level and scalability – that way you can open up the venue’s capacity in stages depending on how the show is selling,” he says. “This should mean that the venue feels full, which is important from both the audience and artist’s point of view.” Within the overall infrastructure, the technological specifications of The Hydro are frequently mentioned by those working within the SECC organisation, as well as promoters and commercial partners. The arena’s technology includes ‘arenamation’ capability,
IQ Magazine November 2013
digital totem poles, multiple screens throughout the venue and wifi capable of covering 12,000 devices. “The [Hydro team] have definitely considered all the production aspects,” comments PCL’s Cardow, while Kanya King, organiser of the MOBO Awards that are due to be hosted at the venue on 19 October, says, “The digital aspect is very exciting, the venue will appear to glow at night and we can project images and videos on to the exterior. I’m really excited to see the arenamation used in our production and how the amphitheatre setup will add to the overall feel of the live show.”
Top Tech The venue’s director of concerts and events, John Langford, explains that timing was of the essence when deciding on which gear to install. “We wanted to catch the technology curve at its optimal time; it had to be proven but up-to-date,” he says. “Tour technology is changing significantly. We are working on tours the SECC wouldn’t be able to handle.” While technology is integral to both the production and the customer experience, it also plays a vital role in many areas behind the scenes. Among those welcoming the possibilities offered by the new tills and the multiple screens, is John McNeil, catering experience manager with Levy Restaurants, a partnership with the SECC. He is responsible for feeding concert-goers at The Hydro, as well as those attending events at the SECC’s halls and the Clyde Auditorium. “We have the latest till technology which gives detailed analytics across the venue,” he says. “We can look at what we are selling where. If there is food left at the end of the night, the screens allow the possibility to offer promotional deals. We can [also] decrease wastage and staffing, and are able to plan ahead based on delivering an offer which is appropriate to the audience demographic.” Thanks to The Hydro, McNeil and his team are able to offer food at retail level for the first time, through a series of branded outlets selling “good food, served quickly.” They include Rock Salt (for fish and chips), Hot Wok, Big Grill burgers and Pizza Love. The offering is augmented by a new restaurant, Clydebuilt Bar & Kitchen, which will allow concert-goers to enjoy a sit-down meal before the show. McNeil cites being able to adapt the food and beverage offering according to the event, as a particularly significant step and is able to draw on research carried out at the SECC. “We are big on customer feedback, both online and at the venue,” he says. “We study customer profiles and also use research carried out in the SECC in 2012. We are very conscious of prices. We do not want to be known as the place selling a £10 [€12] burger.”
“It is estimated that this new asset for the city will host around 140 events every year, and many of these people will stay in the city to use our restaurants, pubs, clubs and hotels, before and after a visit to the venue.” Gordon Matheson, Glasgow City Council
Scottish Hospitality Another area within the SECC organisation set to expand considerably, thanks to The Hydro, is hospitality. The new venue includes 11 executive boxes, two members’ bars and 125 debentures for The Hydro Club, which sold-out at £3,000 (€3,600) each. Ross Easton is head of hospitality sales at The Hydro, and believes that the venue will break new ground in his market. “Hospitality in the music sector is new for Scotland, but it’s more inclusive than sport which is male dominated,” he says. “In music you can have couples and groups of friends. We are going for a social environment in the boxes; they are designed for people having a night out. It’s an exciting new market which hasn’t been available before.” Easton is working closely with head of venue ticketing, Debbie McWilliams, in trialling print-at-home tickets for hospitality customers, and is also set to branch out into other areas such as cashless payments. “We are looking into print-at home tickets in the future, once we have tested the system with corporate customers,” McWilliams tells IQ. “Our next move will be to try out mobile ticketing.” She adds that a select-your-
Colin Banks, sponsorship manager for naming sponsor SSE, talks to IQ about the deal IQ: What motivated SSE to make such a long-term commitment to The Hydro?
CB: Once we had identified this partnership as the right one for us going forward, a long-term, 10-year commitment was essential to ensure that we provide as much benefit to our customers as possible and also gave us the opportunity to develop the partnership with the SECC correctly. IQ: What does the partnership include?
CB: We have a number of benefits included in the agreement, the primary ones being naming rights for The Hydro (The SSE Hydro), advance ticket opportunities for customers, unique customer areas within the venue (lounges, boxes etc) and money-can’t-buy opportunities.
IQ: What marketing activity do you have planned around The Hydro opening?
CB: We have had a fully integrated campaign that has included ATL; customer communications; the launch of SSEreward.com (a customer reward site); experiential activities, the main area being a purpose-built SSE green-room customer experience; unique PR and media competitions; as well as our SSE energiser team who are onsite to help and assist all visitors to the venue.
IQ: Will your participation lead to a wider advertising/ marketing spend across Scotland?
CB: We are already supporting the sponsorship with advertising and have invested in supporting the partnership in all areas.
IQ: Will there be any benefits to your customers, in addition to them being able to buy tickets 48 hours in advance?
CB: We will be upgrading nearly 2000 customers and competition winners to unique lounges or the SSE green room to enhance their first-visit experience. We also have additional rewards in the pipeline that will see us pass even more benefit onto our customers.
“It’s not the building which sells the ticket, it’s the artist. But if the fan has the experience that they like being in the building, it’s half the battle.” Phil Bowdery, Live Nation Rod Stewart opens The Hydro on 30 September
November 2013 IQ Magazine
The Hydro seat option is in the pipeline and that there are plans to develop a new ticketing system within the next 18 months. However; the venue maintains a strong focus on the general public, with 70% of visitors choosing to buy their tickets through the venue’s own ticketing channels. McWilliams emphasises that it’s not just hospitality guests or The Hydro Club that benefit from the great design. “Every seat has a great view – regardless of where you’re seated you’re facing the stage,” she adds.
Commercial Partners While The Hydro is able to provide new opportunities in the hospitality sector, it is also proving a strong draw for commercial partners. Although the tie-ins with brands such as Coke, Heineken and Sony are not surprising, others are less expected, including Kettle Chips, Clydesdale Bank, ScotRail, Thomson Holidays, Raymond Weil, and the largest partner, SSE. “With its mix of content, huge footfall, strategically pliable demographic and global-class design credentials, most brands will be able to leverage significant benefits from a partnership,” says the venue’s commercial manager Fiona Crichton. She describes SSE’s ten-year deal as a fantastic leap of faith, bucking the trend of a decline in long-term contracts, which began with the downturn in the global economy. In addition to the naming rights, the utility company is able to offer its customers 48-hour priority access to tickets. Crichton also believes in proactively bringing the venue’s commercial partners together, something which Marcus Braybrook, head of UK marketing and communication for watchmaker Raymond Weil, regards as extremely valuable. “There are some great cross-promotional opportunities to realise,” he says. As the official watch and timing partner of The Hydro, the company has committed to a three-year partnership, which will include providing artists who play the venue with a bespoke watch. For Braybrook, that deal provides an excellent opportunity to reach out to the Scottish stockists in what constitutes one of his biggest markets. “A lot of our business is done in Scotland and it’s usually very difficult to give something back to the retailers,” he says, adding that Raymond Weil will feature consumer-facing competitions for retail customers to win tickets for gigs. And returning to the technology theme, he is particularly excited about the possibilities offered by arenamation. “It is one of the only music venues worldwide to project onto the building – to have that scale of promotional awareness is unreal,” he says. Significantly, Raymond Weil also plans to beef up its media advertising in Scotland in order to highlight its partnership with The Hydro, which in turn adds to the economic multiplier effect cited by the arena’s management team. According to chief exec Sharkey, a KPMG model estimated that The Hydro would have an economic impact of £130m (€156m) a year. Not only has the building led to the creation of new jobs – caterer Levy’s alone is recruiting and training at least 200 new staff – but it has also boosted both leisure tourism and conferences coming to Glasgow. “The Hydro has extended our reach beyond the UK. Scandinavia presents an opportunity,” venue director Langford The Hydro takes shape from January 2010 to present
IQ Magazine November 2013
Architect Ben Scott, of Foster + Partners, reveals details of the design project What brief did you have for The Hydro?
The brief was very detailed, as our client already had a great deal of experience building and managing a live events venue – our mandate was to expand on this to create a larger arena for 13,000 people to attract major acts. Another aspect of the brief was that the venue had to be reconfigured to host netball and gymnastics during Glasgow’s 2014 Commonwealth Games. What are the key considerations when designing a venue for live events?
The main challenge is resolving the different, sometimes conflicting, needs of the promoter, operator, city, and audience with a venue that is flexible and exciting to visit. The focus of the design is the experience for the visitor – building a sense of anticipation before the event, making sure that every seat has an excellent view of the stage and that the venue runs smoothly, whether in provision for bathroom and catering facilities, or in reducing the time it takes to leave the site at the end of the show.
“We wanted to be able to offer a superior experience. It had to be about the customer – sight lines, acoustics, comfort, hospitality options – the total journey.” John Sharkey, SECC
What would you describe as the main challenges says. Indeed, Gordon Matheson, leader of Glasgow City involved in designing and building The Hydro? Council, is in no doubt about the contribution the new venue
The main challenge during the design development stage was technical, as the angle and span of the roof had an impact on the precise angle of the array of concrete fins that support the seating bowl, and vice versa. To resolve this complex puzzle, we drew on our specialist in-house geometry expertise to develop a computer model that could harness all of the information required to construct each individual element.
is set to make. “A phenomenal number of visitors will come through the doors of The SSE Hydro bringing a huge economic impact,” he says. “It is estimated that this new asset for the city will host around 140 events every year, and many of these people will stay in the city to use our restaurants, pubs, clubs and hotels, before and after a visit to the venue.”
Creating an Entertainment Hub
Are there any firsts i.e. features that have not previously been included in other buildings? While there is an understandably strong focus on The
The scale is unique – The SSE Hydro is Scotland’s largest purpose-built arena. The steel diagrid roof is one of Europe’s largest free-spanning roof structures and weighs 1,400 tonnes – stretching 120 metres across the building and rising to a height of 45 metres – it is large enough to encompass Glasgow’s Queen Street railway station. To what extent did you liaise with promoters, and were there specific requests that were taken on board?
As a practice, we already had experience designing a largescale venue with Wembley, but the design team strengthened this expertise with a great deal of new research, touring major venues and discussing logistics issues with operators and crews. This led to a number of specific aspects, such as allowing trucks to drive in to the venue to load and unload sets. Relative to other cities, how would you describe your experience working on a building in Glasgow?
We have worked here before, designing the Clyde Auditorium – it was great to have the opportunity to work with SECC once again. Glasgow is an incredibly exciting city, with a great architectural tradition. The planning process was dynamic – there was an understanding of the importance of the building to the wider area and we found the city very supportive.
Hydro, which will also host sporting events during next year’s Commonwealth Games, the freed capacity within the SECC will also bring an economic boost. Already it has provided the space to open the Clydebuilt Bar & Kitchen, and hospitality head Easton envisages rooms within the main complex being used for additional hospitality. However, the largest rise in income is set to come from being able to attract more conferences and events. Sharkey estimates the total economic impact of the SECC including The Hydro, at £400m (€480m) per year. Moreover, Langford emphasises the complementary aspects of the various venues within the complex. “A flagship venue like The Hydro opens up discussions for the SECC and the Clyde Auditorium, it takes us to another level of opportunity,” he says. Many of the opportunities already being realised might have been seriously delayed after welding activity caused a serious fire in June, just two months before The Hydro was due to open. “I was in my garden laying some decking and enjoying my first day off after working six straight weeks,” Sharkey recounts. “Then my wife came out with my phone and I had missed a dozen calls in three minutes.” Not only did the construction company have to work out
November 2013 IQ Magazine
The Hydro The Hydro Exterior
what was damaged (by not only the fire but also the water that was used to put it out), it also had to integrate the repairs into the continuing building work. “The team pulled off a miracle for us to be ready for Rod’s opening night and we owe the fire
“We can look at what we are selling where. If there is food left at the end of the night, the screens allow the possibility to offer promotional deals. We can [also] decrease wastage and staffing, and are able to plan ahead based on delivering an offer which is appropriate to the audience demographic.” John McNeil, Levy’s Restaurants
IQ Magazine November 2013
service a huge debt of gratitude,” Sharkey adds. In spite of the fire, Langford proudly points out that out of three million working hours on the construction project, there were no reported injuries. Safety is a key consideration for the venue’s owners and SECC health & safety/environmental manager, Alan Cuggy, conducted several dozen familiarisation trips for emergency services in the lead-up to the opening (the SECC did not take over the building from the construction company until a few days before the first concert). Moreover, the staff attended workshops before access to The Hydro was granted, so that they could confidently direct customers from the first day. Cuggy’s remit also includes environmental aspects and he is proud of both the SECC obtaining a Gold rating in the Green Tourism Business Scheme and The Hydro boasting a good BREEAM rating, thanks in part to its main partners SSE being the UK’s largest supplier of renewable electricity. In addition to taking measures to encourage travelling to the venue by bike or public transport (there is a train station at the site), Cuggy’s team will also be looking to adopt the latest green technologies and to reduce waste, with the goal of generating zero landfill. “Within the next two years, we will be looking to recycle 80% of our waste,” he says. Sharkey jokes that after 25 years of people moaning about Hall 4, there might still be some nostalgia for what was nicknamed The Big Red Shed, and indeed, Primal Scream have eschewed The Hydro in favour of the all-standing venue. Nevertheless, the new building has already gained iconic status, which should easily ensure it is still there in the decades to come.
60 | IQ Magazine Sept 2013
Oct 2013 IQ Magazine
BE NE LUX Although Europe’s lowland countries do not boast the individual populations to rival some of their neighbours, Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg occupy an important strategic corner of the continent’s tour and festivals circuit, as Adam Woods reports... It’s been a couple of years since a freak storm at Belgium’s Pukkelpop festival claimed four lives and, over in the Netherlands, a punishing and mercifully temporary VAT hike struck terror into live industry hearts. Both events left the live community reeling, on the back of a grisly 2010 that was already the worst year in recent memory. When it rains in Benelux, it tends to pour. There have been no dramas since – at least, not on a comparable scale. The festival-heavy calendar rolls on in both Belgium and the Netherlands, ostensibly more mightily than ever; Luxembourg remains a thriving, somewhat unrepresentative micro-market; the dramatic recessionary slumps of 2010 and 2011 haven’t recurred, as promoters have learned to cut their cloth to fit the new realities. And yet, as we have all come to understand during the recession, dramas can be small and many, and they don’t necessarily happen in the most visible places. Belgium, and particularly the Netherlands, remain among Europe’s more fragile large economies, and while the big names may power on, someone in the live business has to feel the pain.
“The economy isn’t great here,” says Rense van Kessel, director of Utrecht-based agent and promoter, Friendly Fire. “It’s not easy in general, but especially for mid-level shows and club shows. But it helps that we can pay better fees again,” he observes, with a nod to the aborted 21% Dutch VAT rate on tickets, which now sits back where it was, at 6%. The ever-extending Dutch festival season, set against the backdrop of diminished consumer spending power, is helping to squeeze both mid-sized festivals and small venues, according to agents. In Belgium, promoters are highly aware of the limits of demand, and consequently, ticket prices have scarcely budged in years, certainly in real terms. That has been one major lesson learned from the crisis, according to Live Nation Belgium CEO and Rock Werchter founder Herman Schueremans. “As a promoter, I feel we have managed the crisis well,” Schueremans says. “We have learned a couple of lessons, one of which is that ticket prices can’t rise forever. We send a lot of ticket prices to agents, and explain why we think they should stay the same. Some agents listen, others are simply money-driven.
Opposite page: Q-dance stage at Mysteryland 2013
IQ Magazine November 2013
But we aren’t Germany; we aren’t France, where you can play Paris and then play the provinces eight months later. We are a small market, where there are no distances, and you can’t keep hassling people with the same acts.” In spite of fairly moribund local markets, Benelux remains a major base for international live music suppliers, including Stageco, Mojo Barriers and Tait Towers; and global players such as family entertainment specialist Stage Entertainment. Henrik-Jan Rinner, managing director of Stage Entertainment Touring Productions/Holiday on Ice applies his global eye to Benelux, and confirms that the conditions are particularly bad on home soil. “All over Europe is tough, and we need to work hard to sell tickets, but we have a feeling, if you look at Belgium and the Netherlands, that it is even tougher in those two markets,” he says. Nonetheless, across Belgium and the Netherlands, and the international crossroads that is Luxembourg, there is still a large enough cohort of concert-goers to keep well over a thousand festivals alive. Dance events, meanwhile, offer real growth opportunities, at home and abroad. There is investment at the large-scale, gig-going end of the market, too. Brussels and Amsterdam both have new arenas in the AEG-managed, 15,000-capacity Brussels National Arena and the 17,000-seat Ziggo Dome, and throughout Benelux, superstar acts continue to arrive in a steady stream.
PROMOTERS Live Nation’s two powerful Benelux divisions have for years provided the bedrock of the live business in the region, and that isn’t changing. All the same, there is increasing activity down below, and especially in the Netherlands, where enterprising and big-hitting promoter-agents are offering an increasingly interesting alternative. In January 2012, Friendly Fire sold a 25% stake to German promoter FKP Scorpio and strengthened its position in the increasingly ambitious challenging pack that sits behind Mojo Concerts, which is historically as dominant in its market as any Live Nation division in the world. “It’s probably still like that,” Van Kessel says. “Live Nation still does a lot here, but what’s fairly new is that there are other players doing other things that are worthwhile, and not just at the club level.” Friendly Fire’s new relationship with FKP Scorpio was
evident in its new 15,000-capacity Best Kept Secret Festival, which took place over three days at Beekse Bergen in June with Arctic Monkeys and Sigur Rós at the top of the bill. “[FKP Scorpio] have helped out with a lot of things – helping us to book it and set it up,” Van Kessel says. Friendly Fire also operates the 30,000-capacity Indian Summer Festival at Broek op Langedijk. Alongside Friendly Fire, other players include Double Vee Concerts, founded by former Mojo promoter Willem Venema, and Belmont Bookings, who both do good business in the dual role of booker/promoter in the alternative and indie market. “We have been in the market for 13 years now, and in the last year, we have done big shows with The xx, and Bon Iver, who we have worked with since they were selling 100 tickets in a club,” says Belmont director Bas Flesseman. “That edgy part of the market is where we operate. Everyone can feel the crisis, but in our market, we don’t feel it so much, because we are very selective about what we do and where we do it. But it’s true that people now pick two out of five gigs to see, whereas before it might have been four out of five.” Mojo Concerts’ head promoter Rob Trommelen isn’t necessarily quaking at the challenge to Mojo, which he estimates still holds around 85% of the Dutch concert market, but nor does he dismiss it. “I have been working here for 23 years, and it is not so quiet as it was,” he acknowledges. “In a certain sense, it is a good thing. It keeps us awake.” In Belgium, too, Live Nation rules the roost, though there is also heavyweight competition there, from Greenhouse Talent – another agent-promoter that crosses the Dutch border with its shows – and two-year old Gracia Live, run by former Live Nation man Michel Perl. Greenhouse has offices in Ghent and Rotterdam and owner Pascal Van De Velde comments, “Mojo is still very strong but
“Everyone can feel the crisis, but in our market, we don’t feel it so much, because we are very selective about what we do and where we do it. But it’s true that people now pick two out of five gigs to see, whereas before it might have been four out of five.” Bas Flesseman, Belmont Bookings
Bas Flesseman and upcoming Swedish artist Daniel Norgren at Beaches Brew Festival © Francesca Cauli
November 2013 IQ Magazine
“As a promoter, I feel we have managed the crisis well. We have learned a couple of lessons, one of which is that ticket prices can’t rise forever. We send a lot of ticket prices to agents, and explain why we think they should stay the same. Some agents listen, others are simply money-driven.” Herman Schueremans, Live Nation Belgium we are growing pretty fast, there is definitely room for more than one single promoter in Holland.” Greenhouse has recently promoted shows by the likes of Leonard Cohen, Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber and Beyonce, in both Belgium and Holland. Van De Velde observes, “Both countries have their particular characteristics, but it’s difficult to say which one is easier. In the Netherlands the entire market speaks the same language. Belgium, in that perspective, is more complicated. The challenge in general for Netherlands is that consumer trust is relatively low at the moment, but generally the market is still strong given the ongoing recession.” “There’s still a niche for things other people don’t see,” says Perl, mentioning the recent success of Top Gear Live and Holiday on Ice and noting that such family shows are winners on either side of Belgium’s rigid French-Flemish divide. Recent shows also include Neil Young & Crazy Horse, and Bob Dylan, and Perl also notes the increasing importance of dance as a major ticket-seller. “Electronic music is very strong now,” he says. “Nobody speaks about it, but it is there.”
about looking beyond superstar DJs and putting the emphasis on CSR and creativity and bringing people together – they really loved it.” Q-dance, likewise, with its enormous Defqon.1 and Qlimax hard-dance events and its remarkably hardcore following of fans, is another ostensibly non-mainstream promoter whose events have reached a scale that looks distinctly mainstream. General manager Rogier Werver doesn’t shy away from comparisons with the mainstream concert market, and believes high-concept dance events such as his own more than hold their own. “If you compare our events with a band – and I’m not talking about the really big ones, but a normal concert – you pay the same amount of money as you do for a dance event, but in three hours you are back in your car driving home,” he says. “You probably waited an hour for the band to come on, and then there’s a guy with a guitar and a microphone and a bit of lighting, and that’s it. You can say it’s all about the music and whatever, but if you look at the total experience, our events go on for 12 hours, ten different stages, with decoration and crazy stuff happening, and entertainment and spectacle. I’d say dance events are pretty near the cutting edge.” Stageco works with ID&T and Q-dance, and Amsterdambased operations manager Tom Bilsen puts dance events at the forefront of a general trend for increasingly spectacular festival production. “Within the EDM genre, festivals invest in spectacular infrastructure and incorporate a lot of sound and AV/ giant screen/moving scenic elements in their events, to create a wow factor for their audiences,” he says. “The organisers are fantastically creative, and there is no compromise on structural integrity or safety, so they’re great companies to work for.”
DANCE “Dance music is rock & roll at the moment,” says Irfan van Ewijk, one of three founders of ID&T, which runs 60,000-capacity Dutch festival Mysteryland, Belgian equivalent Tomorrowland and numerous one-nighters. Certainly, dance music, with its deep roots in the clubs of Benelux, appears able to tap into a primitive kind of excitement all concerts would love to have. According to research conducted by ID&T, the largescale live dance music business – specifically, events of 3,000 or more – was worth €137.4million last year in the Netherlands – an uplift of 67.8% over the previous ten years. Add in smaller club shows, tourism, Dutch DJ appearances overseas and a fairly trifling €12.2m in recorded music sales, and the combined Dutch dance industry had a value of €586.9m in 2012. Over 20 years, ID&T has carved out its niche so effectively that SFX came in for a 75% stake in March, with a clear plan to explode the promoter’s festival brands into the global market. The first step, and a notably ambitious one, is to take Mysteryland to Bethel Woods, the site of the legendary 1969 Woodstock festival, for its US debut in May 2014. “They weren’t initially sure,” says Van Ewijk of the farm’s owners, who have resisted all but a couple of approaches to use the land for festivals since 1969. “But actually, when we went over there and presented the whole case – the philosophy of Mysteryland,
FESTIVALS From Rock Werchter, Tomorrowland, Pukkelpop, Graspop and Dour in Belgium; to Eurosonic, Lowlands, Pinkpop and Mysteryland in the Netherlands; and the comparatively small, but still prosperous, Rock-A-Field in Luxembourg, Benelux is never short of a festival on any given weekend from spring to autumn. In the Netherlands, where festivals begin in January with the spectacularly popular Eurosonic conference, showcase and festival, agents agree that the calendar is widening. “The
November 2013 IQ Magazine
festival market is much more predominant than it has ever been,” says Rob Berends, agent and promoter at Paperclip Agency in Nijmegen. Each year, in the Netherlands alone, there are nearly 500 pop festivals, with 12.8m attendees and receipts of around €133m [source: VNPF]. Belgium, which has 11m inhabitants to the Netherlands’ 16m, has even more – the Facebook-driven Belgian Music Festivals blog lists 611 festivals that took place in 2012, from the very large to the very small. Live Nation Belgium is only responsible for a handful of those – it promotes, co-promotes or helps to book Rock Werchter, Werchter Classic, Werchter Boutique, Pukkelpop, Dour, Graspop, Suikerrock, Les Ardentes and I Love Techno – but it is a big handful, and Werchter is the biggest beast in Benelux, with 85,000 punters a day, of which 67,000 hold full weekend passes. Whatever the case in the Netherlands, Schueremans doesn’t believe festivals are stifling Belgium’s grassroots live scene, and he outlines Live Nation’s carefully maintained ecosystem. “One of the keys to our success is that we have helped to build a lot of careers over the years, by starting with a club show, then putting them in the right festival at the right time, then another festival, then a big club show,” he says. “A lot of international acts have had their first success in Belgium, and that is due to that combination of festivals and club shows.” A recent academic paper, specifically addressing Live Nation’s impact on the Belgian festival market, supports Schuereman’s assessment. It notes Live Nation’s well-known taste for horizontal and vertical integration, and its festival market share of around 50%, but also finds evidence of a positive overall influence. “While Live Nation has undoubtedly provoked changes in the structure of the Belgian festival scene, its powerful share and position has also stimulated rather than threatened local talent, and tempered rather than raised ticket prices,” write the study’s authors, the University of Antwerp’s Ellen Huijgh and Ghent University’s Tom Evens. In the Netherlands, Mojo controls Lowlands, Pinkpop and the North Sea Jazz Festival, among others, but many smaller agents and promoters run thriving independent events. Amsterdam’s multi-faceted Agents After All (AAA) contemplate the festival market as suppliers of largely Dutch talent and as promoters – their Concert At SEA festival, at Brouwersdam in Zeeland, has run since 2006 in partnership with BLØF, the successful Dutch band they manage, and draws 40,000 a day. “I still believe that a good act, a good show, and a good marketing plan are the best formula for success,” says AAA director Lesley Grieten of the numerous small, local festivals to which AAA also sells acts. “But of course, you see some festivals that don’t have strong roots, and they find themselves in a tough situation.” In an exceptional touring year, a number of mid-sized
“Within the EDM genre, festivals invest in spectacular infrastructure and incorporate a lot of sound and AV/giant screen/moving scenic elements in their events, to create a wow factor for their audiences. The organisers are fantastically creative, and there is no compromise on structural integrity or safety, so they’re great companies to work for.” Tom Bilsen, Stageco festivals were forced to downsize. Some smaller events found ways of trimming their overheads – for instance by booking a name headliner for just the Saturday night and stocking the other two days with cheaper local talent. Others have wilted, as sponsorship – historically provided by local businesses – has proved harder to find. Among the bigger festivals, as elsewhere, the challenge is to embrace new technology in profitable and efficient ways. This year, the Graspop Metal Meeting in Dessel trialled Mojo Barriers’ new Gatekeeper 2.0 turnstiles to scan RFID wristbands, allowing fully automatic entry, as well as linking to a central computer system that gives accurate, real-time capacity data. “Graspop had 18 of our turnstiles, and they basically worked without any problems whatsoever,” says Mojo Barriers director Cees Muurling. “Throughout the three days we had 360,000 people leaving and entering the site without a hitch.” Live Nation’s 55,000-strong Lowlands, meanwhile, used the same technology to monitor crowd flow.
VENUES According to the VNPF – the Dutch Association of Music Venues and Festivals – music still dominates Dutch venues. VNPF members staged 4,891 pop concerts in 2012, and sold 1.54m tickets, plus a further million or so for club nights and other music-related events. They turned a collective profit, but still ultimately registered less activity than before the crisis. The VNPF’s figures cover 52 small-to-medium Dutch venues, all of whom receive some public funding and promote some of their own shows. They consequently exclude large, nonpromoting venues such as Mojo Concerts’ Heineken Music Hall and the new, but abundantly busy, 17,000-capacity Ziggo Dome, though they do give an indication of the grassroots situation that is borne out by anecdotal accounts. The fact that 15% of VNPF members’ shows were sell-outs in 2012, compared to 13% in 2009, suggests Dutch venues are taking fewer programming risks, especially when combined with a decline in shows from 110 to 94 per venue in the same time frame. “With the decrease in people’s spending power and the competition from the festival season, a lot of venues are taking quite significant steps in booking fewer bands, paying lower fees and, especially, giving smaller, upcoming talent less money and
November 2013 IQ Magazine
“With the decrease in people’s spending power and the competition from the festival season, a lot of venues are taking quite significant steps in booking fewer bands, paying lower fees and, especially, giving smaller, upcoming talent less money and fewer chances.” Rob Berends, Paperclip Agency fewer chances,” Berends observes. At Amsterdam’s Melkweg, music programmer Edwin van Andel declines to complain about business. “It’s about the same as last year, I guess,” he says. “It’s not good, but it’s not bad either. I notice hip hop is on the rise again, and we do a lot of that. When the festivals are on at the weekends, it gives you an opportunity to do more interesting things with bands during the week.” The Netherlands has no shortage of clubs, and in addition to Amsterdam staples such as the Paradiso and Melkweg, Flesseman is excited about the possibilities of unconventional and less familiar rooms such as the urban arts venue MC Theater and the Red Cinema near the city’s Centraal Station. “It’s only 75-capacity, but it’s one of the most beautiful venues,” he says of the Red Cinema. “We are putting singersongwriters in there with no PA, just natural sound. We are finding people would rather pay a higher ticket price to see something amazing than go to a standard venue and see exactly what they are expecting.” At the other end of the scale, the Ziggo Dome has made a confident start to life since opening in June 2012. Madonna, Lady Gaga, Muse, One Direction and Beyoncé have all been in, while Peter Gabriel, Fleetwood Mac and Bruno Mars were imminent arrivals at press time. “I think it is great for Amsterdam, and for the business too, because it is a new opportunity in the capital city which wasn’t there before,” says Mojo’s Rob Trommelen. “However, we are still lacking in Holland a venue between the Paradiso and the Heineken Hall – something of around 3,000-capacity. We don’t have that in
Holland at all, so we have to jump from the Paradiso or [the 2,200-capacity] 013 in Tilburg, and that jump is too big for many artists. But it is what it is, so we have to do it.” Just as the Ziggo Dome has inevitably drawn acts from the 10,000-capacity Ahoy Rotterdam, the Brussels National Arena is designed to draw productions that would not fit in the 8,000-capacity Forest National. Built into the Brussels Expo complex, it will welcome major French stars including Mylène Farmer in November and Robin des Bois next May. Also in Brussels, the 2,000-capacity Ancienne Belgique was the best-selling European club venue in the first six months of 2013 – indeed the only one in the Pollstar Top 20 – with 137,980 tickets sold.
LUXEMBOURG Over in Luxembourg, the scene revolves around one big hall, Esch-sur-Alzette’s 6,500-capacity Rockhal, and a couple of clubs – den Atelier in Luxembourg City, and the 1,100-capacity Rockhal Box – but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing much going on. Both Rockhal and den Atelier promote their own shows, and the latter also puts acts into the larger venue. Put it down to Luxembourg’s thriving banking community, the 999-square-mile Duchy’s favourable rate of withholding tax or its lucky position between Belgium, Germany and France, but Luxembourg appears to be a little oasis in an otherwise slightly stormy Benelux. “2013 compared to 2012 is looking really, really good,” says Rockhal general manager Olivier Toth. “It will be a substantial increase in shows at the hall, and in ticket sales also. Our market seems to be expanding. Geographically, we are in a situation where we get audiences from France and Germany, not just Luxembourg. I’m not sure if the number of people crossing the border for shows is increasing, but more and more people are coming to the shows.” Consequently, Rockhal can point to a recent line-up that has included, at various room configurations and in the club, Neil Young, Mark Knopfler, Alicia Keys, Mumford & Sons and Portishead. “We have a lot of people coming from Paris on the TGV, even from the UK because of the cheap flights,” says Toth, adding that with a handful of local promoters, a music export office and Rockhal’s own commitment to bringing through young bands, Luxembourg has a mini-industry that more than justifies its Sonic Visions conference and showcase, which comes up for its sixth edition in November. Den Atelier’s 20,000-a-day Rock-A-Field festival, meanwhile, will be a three-day event from 2014, having only graduated to two days this year. “This year we sold out, so we are now in the process of trying to secure headliners for three days next year,” says Den Atelier co-founder and booker Patrick Bartz. The festival takes place the same weekend as Glastonbury, but Bartz hopes that will work to his advantage. “Bands can play Glastonbury on Friday or Saturday night and still play in Luxembourg on Sunday,” he points out. Den Atelier has Bastille, Bruno Mars and Jake Bugg booked for this autumn, and having scored a solid hit with a run of We Will Rock You this year, Den Atelier’s sights are now set on the family entertainment market. “If you want that kind of entertainment, you have to drive to Cologne or Paris, so we are working on that for next year,” Bartz adds.
November 2013 IQ Magazine
“What’s the most generous act or gesture you’ve witnessed in the live entertainment business?” Mr Charles, and he said “do not open it now”. When I later opened the envelope, it contained $1,000 in new $100 bills. How about that for a wonderful gesture?!
Gerry Stevens, Talent Care International
I have been lucky enough to have witnessed a number of generous acts from artists and managers, but by far the most generous I have experienced, in 33 years in the concert business, occurred last year, when Q Prime, on behalf of Red Hot Chili Peppers, agreed a $1million refund on a 10-show tour of Eastern Europe, where ticket sales had fallen short of expectations owing to the effects of the economic crisis. Emma Banks was very supportive in presenting our request to management, and everyone involved showed genuine, unselfish concern for the difficult situation facing us and our local partners, coupled with a desire to do the right thing in order to avert the most serious potential consequences for those concerned. At a time when the concert business is constantly being accused of being greed-driven and cut-throat, it showed absolutely the opposite qualities. Tim Dowdall, Live Nation
At the end of a Ray Charles tour in Italy when I was acting as tour manager, it was my job to deliver Mr Charles (as everyone always addressed him) to the airport in Rome, where he would be met by manager, Joe Adams. When I met Joe, he firstly thanked me for my work and presented me with a brown envelope, which he said was a token of his appreciation for taking excellent care of
The most generous gesture, in my experience, was in 2007, when the government of the Netherlands gave up its artist (and sportsman) withholding tax. That took away much administrative work for (1) foreign artists, their agents, managers and accountants; (2) Dutch promoters, venues and festivals; and (3) the tax authorities on both sides. And it also has taken away the risk of international double taxation, because since then, tax only has to be paid in the home country of the artists. In sports, this example has been followed by source tax exemptions for the Olympics, the Champions League Finals, Cricket and Rugby World Cups, and the European Football champions, while for artists, countries such as the UK, France and Belgium are discussing whether they can follow the Dutch example. Giving up taxation for a good cause is not only a generous, but also very positive gesture. Dick Molenaar, All Arts Tax Advisers
All of us at Wembley, and our partner charity Teenage Cancer Trust, were overwhelmed when Gary Howard at The Agency Group arranged an outing for a group to attend a Peter Andre concert. Not only did they ensure the group forgot their woes for the evening, but also one of the young sufferers had their dreams made true by attending a meet-andgreet with Peter himself. We are all very thankful for their kind contribution and the outstanding support that the music industry has given us, and the Teenage Cancer Trust, this year. Danielle Buckley, Wembley Stadium
May I please draw your attention to justabunchofroadies.org, which is a collection of companies and
individuals in the tour business that formed three years ago in response to the devastating earthquake in Haiti. A group of roadies basically recognised that they could put their skills to good use and assembled a coalition of volunteers and partner organisations in an effort to move large quantities of urgently needed medical equipment into Haiti following the disaster. Ian Massey, Beat The Street
That’s a no brainer. Live Aid 1985, and the work Sir Bob and Sir Harvey, among many, many others, put in to make that happen. Ed Grossman, MGR Touring
In Greece, in the early eighties, I was on tour with the godfather, James Brown, and everything on the tour went really well… until we got to the island of Kos. The promoter did not have enough money to pay the balance of the artist guarantee. Luckily, the show was in a big club so we postponed the show for a while so that we could collect as much money as possible from the bar. When the audience started to get uneasy, I asked Mr. Brown to go on stage (I showed him the big pile of Drachma – we were still around $7,000 short). James Brown insisted that I give him the $7k out of my own pocket or else he would go back to the hotel. Faced with a pleading promoter and an audience that may well have torn us apart, I agreed, and reluctantly gave him the money when we got back to the hotel, which more or less meant that I worked for nothing on that tour. The next morning – I experienced the most generous gesture imaginable from James Brown. He came to me, looked straight in my eyes and in his unique style said, “Mr Leitner, you’re a man!” and gave me in a nice package – a blue bath robe (which I would like to believe he bought) from the hotel. Deeply touched by Mr Brown’s generosity, I bowed, and forgot all about the 7 grand. Georg Leitner, Georg Leitner Productions
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November 2013 IQ Magazine
IQ Magazine, Issue 50 November 2013