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Issue 61

An ILMC Publication. Sept 2015




Cover photo: Deep Vally perform at Bažant Pohoda Festival 2014. © Ctibor Bachraty



Contents IQ Magazine Issue 61

News and Developments 6 In Tweets The main headlines over the last two months


8 In Depth  Key stories from around the live music world 12 Busy Bodies Industry associations share business concerns and news 13 New Signings A round-up of the latest acts that have been added to the rosters of international agents 18 Techno Files Revealing the hottest new technology in live entertainment



20 The New Bosses 2015 Ten future industry leaders in the spotlight 24 30 Session Seasons Switzerland’s Baloise Session celebrates its 30th edition 32  Denmark Probably one of the best live music markets in the world 40 The Curate Escape  Eamonn Forde explores the benefits and pitfalls of event curation 44 Sky Blue Thinker Scotland’s main promoter, Geoff Ellis, chalks up 30 years in the business


Comments and Columns 14 Streaming and Music Festivals Reinher Karl examines opportunities to exploit media rights 15 The Cultural Front of Ukraine Dartsya Tarkovska talks about the problems faced by the live music industry in Ukraine 16 Dealing with the Crisis Nana Trandou explains how, despite economic meltdown, Greek festivals soldier on 17 Sharing a Vision Tom Windish reveals why The Windish Agency has partnered with Paradigm

40 44

60 Members’ Noticeboard Keeping you posted on what ILMC members are up to 62 Your Shout  What is your best/worst business confession? IQ Magazine September 2015


Economies of Scale As the summer ends with a number of high-profile mergers and acquisitions, Gordon Masson predicts a new wave of industry consolidation... While summer is traditionally a quiet time for the live music industry, festivals aside, nothing could be further from the truth this year, as barely a week has gone by without news of yet another blockbuster deal being announced. Live Nation got the ball rolling by persuading Marek and Andre Lieberberg to quit their Eventim-owned MLK operation to head up the new Live Nation Concerts Germany business, which they will do come January 2016 (see page 11). Live Nation then followed that business move by twisting Denis Desmond’s arm to become its UK and Ireland chairman, while in that same territory it acquired MAMA & Company, which ironically returns a number of previously owned LN venues to the group. Meanwhile, in the agency world, United Talent Agency made a significant powerplay when it purchased The Agency Group (see page 11), while not to be outdone, independent operations The Windish Agency and Paradigm Talent formed a partnership to strengthen their hand in the business (see page 10). While the more corporate operations might view such deals as ways to cut costs through economies of scale, all of that activity will not have gone unnoticed by rivals and I would not be at all surprised to see other competitors examining their prospects for similar mergers in the months ahead, with the big corporate agencies in America, in particular, on a seemingly never-ending spending spree that is only now making an impact internationally. More information about those deals can be found in our news pages, which have slightly changed in this issue to highlight the daily news service that IQ now provides through our Twitter feed (@iq_mag), which we’re incorporating into our In Brief news – now renamed In Tweets (do you see what we did there?).

IQ Magazine September 2015

Elsewhere in this bumper summer issue of IQ you’ll find the usual swathe of news and features that we work so hard on in order to keep everyone posted about what their friends and colleagues are up to in other countries. On page 40, for example, Eamonn Forde takes an indepth look at the concept of curation and what that means to several key industry proponents around the world. I had the pleasure of spending some time with DF Concerts CEO Geoff Ellis as he marked his 30th year in the live music industry with a shit storm of problems associated with the forced relocation of Scotland’s biggest music festival, T in the Park. As you’ll discover on page 44, the DF team managed to successfully relaunch the event in its new home despite having just eight weeks to do so – a remarkable achievement and one that makes Ellis justifiably proud of his staff. Our market specialist Adam Woods revisits Denmark (page 32) to find out how those working in the country are developing the market in the face of growing competition from promoters both inside and outside the country. Oh, and after a number of requests, we’ve reinstated out market spotlight map to give you an at-a-glance reference to help plan tours, etc. We also visit the lovely city of Basel to mark the 30th anniversary of Baloise Session and discover how the supper-club atmosphere, coupled with the booking of some iconic international artists, has helped make the festival one of the most prestigious in live music (page 24). And last, but by no means least, on page 20 we have our annual showcase of New Bosses, introducing you to ten young professionals who, in your opinion (they’re nominated by ILMC members), are helping to improve the way business is conducted and are most likely to become the next generation of industry leaders.


IQ Magazine

Unit 31 Tileyard Road London, N7 9AH Tel: +44 (0)20 3743 0300 Twitter: @iq_mag


ILMC and Suspicious Marketing


Gordon Masson

Associate Editor Allan McGowan

Marketing & Advertising Director Terry McNally


Martin Hughes

Sub Editor

Michael Muldoon

Editorial Assistants Ben Delger, Susanna Moro


Eamonn Forde, Reinher Karl, Manfred Tari, Dartsya Tarkovska, Nana Trandou, Tom Windish, Adam Woods

Editorial Contact

Gordon Masson, Tel: +44 (0)20 3743 0303

Advertising Contact

Terry McNally, Tel: +44 (0)20 3743 0304

To subscribe to IQ Magazine: An annual subscription to IQ is £75 (print) or £60 (electronic).



In Tweets...

Katy Perry


Northern Ireland’s Odyssey Arena inks naming-rights deal to become The SSE Arena Belfast when it reopens following refurbishment. The 10-year agreement means that The SSE Arena Belfast will be the third UK venue to be named by the energy provider, following The SSE Hydro in Glasgow and The SSE Arena, Wembley in London. WME IMG expands its portfolio with the acquisition of The Wall Group, a leading artist management and consulting agency. Wall’s roster includes top fashion stylists, production designers and others who will be added to WME’s existing global fashion portfolio. German promoter Deutsche Entertainment AG and its UK offshoots Kilimanjaro Live and Raymond Gubbay Ltd, have set-up a company to sell tickets for their British shows. will expand the MyTicket concept that has already been running in Germany for six months. The Grateful Dead’s farewell show breaks records at Chicago’s Soldier Field venue when 71,000 tickets are sold for what the band says will be their last-ever concert. James Burtson joins Creative Artists Agency as chief financial officer. He succeeds Jeff Berry. Burtson was most recently senior VP at Time Warner, Inc., overseeing global mergers and acquisitions. Live Nation Entertainment agrees a sponsorship deal with Shell Oil whereby Shell will be the official fuel and Pennzoil the official lubricant partner at eight North American amphitheatres. Damon Albarn has to be physically carried from the stage by security staff at Roskilde Festival when his set with Africa Express runs to five hours, ending abruptly at 4am. Ticketfly closes a $50million (€44m) round of financing, giving it a total of $85m (€75m) in new funding to expand its technology and live events services. It will apparently use the money to target bigger venues, such as arenas and amphitheatres.



The Event Safety Alliance (ESA) appoints Donald Cooper as executive director. He will take daily charge of the organisation from ESA founder Jim Digby, who will continue to serve as chairman of the board. SFX directors set a deadline for founder Robert Sillerman to deliver a fully executed commitment to take the company private.


Live Nation Entertainment forms Live Nation Concerts Germany with German concert promoter Marek Lieberberg to promote concerts and festivals in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, beginning 1 January 2016 (see page 11). PRS for Music sues music-streaming service SoundCloud in Britain, claiming the Berlin-based company has not obtained proper licensing or paid royalties to its members. A tent collapses during a storm at the Wood Dale Prairie Fest in Illinois, killing one festivalgoer and injuring others. Rapper Travis Scott is arrested after encouraging Lollapalooza crowds to jump barricades during his performance at the Chicago event. Wacken Open Air in Germany sells all 75,000 tickets for its 2016 edition.

Government officials put forward a motion to ban EDM events on LA County-owned land following the death of two teenage girls at Live Nation’s Hard Summer Festival. Live Nation acquires venue and festival operator MAMA & Company, returning a number of former Live Nation assets to its portfolio (see page 11). Beatport says it will freeze royalty payments from the previous quarter to labels until its parent company SFX completes its ‘going private’ process. The Appointment Group launches its TAG Global Touring app, aimed at the global music touring business. Police reveal they are investigating fraud allegations at Manchester, UK-based live music venue operator SMG Europe. Nottingham’s 10,000-capacity Capital FM Arena will be known as the Motorpoint Arena Nottingham from 2016, following the agreement of a multi-year naming-rights sponsorship with the car sales giant. The NEC Group appoints Ian Congdon as head of sales (see page 8). Nearly half of UK nightclubs have shut their doors in the last 10 years, according to a report by the BBC. William Morris agent Sol Parker jumps ship to Coda Agency, taking Take That, The Prodigy and Rita Ora with him (see page 8).

IQ Magazine September 2015


SFX Entertainment Q2 results show EDM giant is still losing millions, despite a 48% rise in revenues. AEG Facilities’ Brian Kabatznick is appointed president of the European Arenas Association. The International Festival Forum sells out six weeks before its inaugural event, with over 100 agents and 150 festivals confirmed to attend. John Gammon, Pollstar’s UK/Europe correspondent over the last two decades, dies (see page 10). Glastonbury Festival reveals it donated £2m (€2.75m) to good causes in 2014, including hundreds of local charities. SFX shares plummet to all-time low as CEO Robert Sillerman misses a deadline to prove he has the financing to complete a stock buyback. The company says it is contemplating selling some assets. One Direction top Pollstar’s mid-year tour earnings with $107.7m (€95m) grossed from 33 shows in 22 countries. Hungary’s Sziget Festival draws a record crowd, with more than 430,000 people from 95 countries flocking to Budapest. The bomb squad is called to CAA’s Los Angeles HQ after a suspicious package is found in the office. United Talent Agency completes its acquisition of The Agency Group (see page 11). Accent Media, owner of the .tickets domain registry, reveals it has sold domains to hundreds of global brands, including Ticketmaster. Organisers of East Africa’s most popular international music festival, Sauti za

Busara, cancel its 2016 edition due to a lack of funding. Michael Gudinski’s Mushroom Group launches artist management company, Role Model Artists. Live Nation agrees to cancel Fairplex rave and scale-back other events following fatal overdoses at the Hard Summer Festival in California.


SFX Entertainment cancels the 25-26 September One Tribe Festival outside Los Angeles, as the company admits the downgrading of its credit rating by Moody’s Investor Services and Stifel has “contributed to short-term disruption” to its business operations. Wynn Las Vegas says DJ Avicii will cut his 2015 residency short to take a break from the business. The resort-casino on the Las Vegas Strip lines up DJs Diplo, Skrillex, Dillon Francis and Zedd to replace Avicii at six scheduled shows in September and October. Australian promoter Andrew McManus is arrested at Melbourne Airport on charges of money laundering and the importation of 300 kilograms of cocaine. McManus is one of five people arrested in Australia and the United States as part of an FBI investigation. Live Nation COO John Probyn leaves the business to join start-up event, The Sports Show, as COO. Universal Music buys a 50% stake in EVC India, which claims to be the

country’s first camping music festival. Lollapalooza Berlin debuts to a soldout crowd, as Muse, and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis headline. Sheffield Arena reveals plans to operate using an in-house management team to replace Live Nation, as part of bold cost-cutting moves. Online entertainment guide Ents24 partners with See Tickets to offer direct sales. A Live Performance Australia study finds that the country’s live industry remains strong, with 18.54m ticket sales in 2014. Dubai Airports launches the musicDBX initiative to host live shows at Dubai International Airport in partnership with promoter Done Events. The first event will see Katy Perry perform at the invitation-only Dubai Airshow Gala Dinner on 10 November. Disgruntled investors hit SFX with a lawsuit claiming they were deceived with false and misleading statements over the company’s privatisation plans. A report shows SXSW 2015 contributed more than $317m (€280m) to the local Austin, Texas economy. Plans are on track for a new 6,000-cap venue in Cork, as the Irish government commits to €20m funding and Live Nation advises on the project. To subscribe to IQ Magazine: An annual subscription to IQ is £75 (print) or £60 (electronic).

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IQ Magazine September 2015



Movers and Shakers Agent Sol Parker has joined the team at Coda Agency. Previously at William Morris Endeavor Entertainment, Parker takes with him a roster that includes Prodigy and Take That. John Probyn has left Live Nation to take up the position of chief operating officer for The Sports Show. The three-day family event is a new venture, backed by The NEC Group, and will be hosted at their NEC venue in Birmingham, England, next June. Ed Grossman, previously of MGR Weston Kay, has joined Brackman Chopra LLP, chartered accountants in the UK. Echo Arena Liverpool has promoted Robbie Owen to the position of concert sales co-ordinator from his previous role as client account manager in the venue’s ticketing department. The NEC Group in the UK has strengthened its arenas sales team with the appointment of Ian Congdon as its new head of sales. Congdon previously held a similar position at Echo Arena Liverpool. This summer, Linkin Park became the first rock act to tour multiple stadiums in China. The band played five cities, opening in Nanjing’s Olympic Sports Center Stadium (pictured), before travelling on to CR Shenzhen Bay Sports Center Stadium, Shanghai Hongkou Football Stadium, Chongqing Olympic Sports Center and finally, Beijing Workers’ Stadium. “It was a voyage of discovery, which should now open the door for other acts to get over there and exploit the market,” says Jon (J.C.) Corbishley, of The Event Safety Shop in Australia, who helped organise security for the tour.

In the US, Creative Artists Agency (CAA) has appointed media and entertainment industry veteran James Burtson as chief financial officer. He most recently served as senior vicepresident of Time Warner, Inc., overseeing the company’s global mergers and acquisitions efforts – a function he is expected to repeat at CAA. New Bosses 2014 winner Maarten van Vugt has left Greenhouse Talent to take up a promoter’s role with Live Nation Netherlands. Dave Gaydon has quit his job as head of music at London venue, The Roundhouse, to launch his own bookings and events business, GOAT Music, with business partner Lou Birkett, also a former member of The Roundhouse events team. London specialist suppliers and hire firm John Henry’s has taken on two new rental managers in the shape of Matt Russell and Phil Manley-Reeve. Russell was previously at Cato Music, whilst Manley-Reeve comes from Matt Snowball Music. The AG Hallenstadion in Zürich has taken on Jeannine Matthys as its new head of marketing & sales and deputy director. She has been involved in the airline and travel business for many years, before becoming head of client & corporate events for Credit Suisse, where dealing with the Hallenstadion was part of her role. The Scottish Exhibition + Conference Centre (SECC) has appointed Mark Laidlaw as director of operations. Most recently, he was director of management services at Scottish Rugby Union, while previous roles included overall responsibility for the development of Murrayfield Stadium.

Tackling campsite waste The UK’s Reading Festival last month undertook a groundbreaking environmental project in an attempt to address the issue of waste left behind by campers at the end of such events. The 28-30 August festival ran a collaborative study between promoters Festival Republic, environmental sustainability organisation Julie’s Bicycle, outdoor and leisure retailer Blacks, and design and sustainability consultancy WeAllDesign, to understand this behavioural


problem, as well as trialing services that included tent cleaning and packing away. The principal collaborators were brought together by the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN), which made the project possible through a grant of £20,000 (€27,500) from Innovate UK. Like many other events throughout Europe, volunteers at Reading Festival each year take part in a massive salvage operation to recover abandoned tents, sleeping bags and camping equipment.

Highlighting the extent of the issue, in 2013, 20 tonnes of reusable items were rescued from Reading Festival’s campsites, while in 2014, 19 tonnes were salvaged. In a survey conducted by Festival Republic, 30% of Reading Festival attendees admitted to leaving their tents and camping equipment, with 79% reasoning they were ‘too tired’ after the festival, whilst 59% viewed tents and camping equipment as ‘cheap and easily replaceable’. Organisers estimate that 45,000 tents are pitched at Reading Festival, meaning

that about 13,500 tents are typically abandoned. If the average cost of a tent is £40 (€55), then the approximate cost of equipment left behind is over £500,000 (€681,000). Alison Tickell, founder and CEO of Julie’s Bicycle, comments, “Re-thinking our work so that environmental impacts are addressed as a matter of course is not only better for our planet – it’s better for our long-term business prospects too. This project brings together the key protagonists who can help to make our festivals more sustainable, in every sense.”

IQ Magazine September 2015


John Gammon (1951 - 2015) Long-time Pollstar journalist and former artist manager and agent, John Gammon, has died from cancer at his home in Ely, Cambridgeshire. He was 63. John’s career included stints as an agent at Concorde Artistes International, as well as managing acts like Katrina & the Waves and Kingmaker, the latter of whom could boast opening acts like Radiohead during their heyday. Having originally studied journalism, his skills were put to good use when he became a writer at Audience, before being recruited by Pollstar to report from the International Live Music

Conference on a one-off basis. However, the response to his reportage was so overwhelming that John became Pollstar’s long-time UK and Europe correspondent. “As someone who worked with John for many years at Pollstar’s UK office, I was always impressed with his sheer tenacity as a journalist and his ability to get to the core of any news story that he was writing,” says former colleague Charlie Presburg. “He was a proper old-school journalist who wasn’t afraid to ruffle a few feathers along the way. I shall miss his witty banter and seeing him at the various music conferences he always loved to attend, he will be very sadly missed. Rest in peace, John.” In its obituary, Pollstar comments: “It is difficult to encapsulate 15 years of collaboration into a paragraph. The best we can do immediately is say farewell and acknowledge his contribution to not only the company, but the concert industry as well.”

Windish forms pact with Paradigm The Windish Agency and Paradigm Talent Agency have strengthened their collective position in the global business by agreeing a partnership deal to expand their “scope, expertise, resources and client roster.” Following the sale of The Agency Group to United Talent Agency (see page 11), the Windish/Paradigm pact effectively makes the operation one of the major indie agency groups in the world, as it brings together The Windish Agency with Paradigm and its partner agencies, AM Only and London-based Coda Music Agency. Together they represent a combined roster that includes such artists as Aerosmith, altJ, Coldplay, David Guetta, Ed Sheeran, Imagine Dragons, Lorde, Phish and Skrillex. “Our respective cultures and synergies will significantly enhance the entire team’s ability to provide exceptional ser-

vice and representation for all of our artists,” comments Tom Windish. “The independent spirit embodied by our agencies is what makes this partnership special, and uniquely positions us to identify, create and maximise client opportunities on a global scale.” Windish joins forces with the Paradigm Music leadership team of Chip Hooper, Marty Diamond, Paul Morris and the Coda partners, which now also include agent Sol Parker (see page 8). Chip Hooper, head of Paradigm Music Division, adds, “We have always been unwaveringly committed to working with the most talented and creative people, and most importantly, with people who share similar goals and those with impeccable character. After spending quite a bit of time getting to know Tom and his staff, it became clear this partnership makes perfect sense for everyone.”

Golden Year Marks FKP Silver Anniversary FKP Scorpio’s 25th year was a great success according to founder Folkert Koopmans, with nearly 500,000 customers across his company’s portfolio of festivals. “We are pleased with the results, but we also experienced increased competition, especially here in Germany with the launch of the new festivals by DEAG. With this in mind it was a challenging season and I expect that the market will consolidate itself in the next years,” Koopmans comments. FKP MD Stephan Thanscheidt adds, “We’re happy with this year’s season, as we did over 20 festivals all over Europe with over 400,000

happy people, amazing acts and a solid base to build on for the future.” In fact, the actual figure is closer to half a million tickets. FKP’s biggest market remains Germany with 269,000 visitors, although those figures don’t include the Metal Hammer Paradise or Rolling Stone Weekender which take place in November. Meanwhile, FKP’s claim to being Europe’s biggest festival promoter was boosted by the sale of 221,000 tickets to its 11 events across Austria, Denmark, Finland, Switzerland and the Netherlands. “The competition is getting significantly stronger in different

markets,” states Thanscheidt. “An increasing number of US festivals in June [are also] pitching for the same acts as promoters in Europe.” Bråvalla, which made its debut in 2013 and with 56,000 visitors last year, became Sweden’s biggest music festival ever, suffered a slight dip this year with 50,000 attendees. With competition from American festivals on the increase, FKP looked to domestic artists – a growing trend throughout Europe this summer. At Bråvalla, for instance, Swedish acts Kent, Sabaton and Lars Winnerbäck played shortly before the international headliners.

FKP FESTIVAL TICKET SALES 2015 Indian Summer (NL) 15,000 Best Kept Secret (NL) 17,500 27,000 Tinderbox (DK) 30,000 Northside (DK) Bråvalla (SE) 50,000 Where’s The Music (SE) 4,700 Getaway Rock (SE) 8,500 Nuke (AT) 25,000 Provinssi (FI) 20,000 Sideways Helsinki (FI) 6,000 Greenfield (CH) 18,000 A Summer’s Tale (DE): 7,000 Chiemsee Summer (DE): 27,000 Deichbrand (DE): SOLD OUT 45,000 Elbjazz (DE): 15,000 Highfield (DE): SOLD OUT 25,000 Hurricane DE): 65,000 Southside (DE): SOLD OUT 60,000 M’era Luna (DE): SOLD OUT 25,000

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IQ Magazine September 2015


Live Nation Strengthens European Personnel and Assets

tions took place, Live Nation and Ticketmaster have lost key London venues Wembley Arena and Hyde Park to rivals AEG Live, and its ticketing arm, AXS, so it will be interesting to see if there will be any objections to the likes of The Borderline, The Garage and The Jazz Cafe (with accent) Café once again becoming Live Nation-owned venues. The MAMA assets also included The Great Escape conference and showcase event, as well as festivals such as Lovebox and Citadel and a stake in Wilderness Festival. Elsewhere, Festival Republic chief Melvin Benn has been brought on board by Live Nation to help improve the profitability of its festivals business. His position has been further cemented by the departure of chief operating officer John Probyn, who has left to take on a similar role for The Sports Show (see page 8). Paul Latham has been elevated to COO for Live Nation UK and Ireland, and will report to Denis Desmond.

Lollapalooza kicked off its first European festival with a sell-out when 60,000 fans witnessed its debut at Berlin’s Tempelhof Airport in the German capital. More than 50 acts performed over the 12-13 September weekend, including Muse, Metallica, Stereophonics and Florence and the

Machine. According to the event’s organisers 30% of the audience came from outside Germany, and despite enduring a few teething problems the event was considered a huge success by both fans and critics alike. Event co-founder Marc Geiger says, “The first year is always the tough one.

As producers, you want to clean up problems on the spot, but we have to have the long view. We’re going to make this the best festival in Europe.” Tickets for 2016’s Lollapalooza Berlin are already on sale and those who attended this year’s weekender are being offered €20 discount.

Denis Desmond

Irish promoter Denis Desmond has been handed the reins as the new boss of Live Nation UK and Ireland as part of a major senior management reshuffle. Although it is yet to be officially announced, it is understood he has taken the title of chairman of promotions UK/Ireland. The world’s biggest promoter has had a busy couple of months and there have been some major executive hires, as well as departures. In Germany, MLK’s Marek and Andre Lieberberg are working through their notice before heading up the Live Nation Concerts Germany office beginning in January 2016. In the meantime, former MLK staffer Matthias Schwarz has assumed the managing direc-

tor role of LN Germany Austria Switzerland operations and a number of staff members have already been recruited. That move was heralded as a major coup for both LN and its Ticketmaster subsidiary, with claims that the Lieberbergs’ festivals and concerts would add about two million tickets to the company’s business. In reality, as many of MLK’s shows take place in Eventim-controlled venues, the figure will likely be lower. MLK, meanwhile, will remain an asset of CTS Eventim. In the UK, Desmond’s appointment has still to be made public but the company has been busy increasing its portfolio again, this time with LN-Gaiety Holdings Ltd joint venture with Desmond purchasing MAMA & Company, the operator of nine venues and promoter of a number of festivals. Ironically, MAMA’s portfolio includes a number of venues that LN had to divest following its merger with Ticketmaster in 2010. Since those transac-

IQ Magazine September 2015

UTA buys TAG In a move that apparently took even some senior agents by surprise, Neil Warnock has sold The Agency Group (TAG) to United Talent Agency (UTA) for an undisclosed sum. The deal comes on the back of TAG’s own aggressive growth strategy over the past few years and effectively means the company becomes UTA’s music division. Warnock becomes UTA’s head of global music, while TAG’s chief executive, Gavin O’Reilly leaves the company. The multimilliondollar transaction effectively means an end to TAG’s description as the world’s largest independent agency, while UTA chief Jeremy Zimmer heralds the agreement as “a quantum leap forward,” as it makes UTA one of the major players in the entertainment world. Although primarily an agency for Hollywood, UTA did represent a number of artists such as Kanye West and Mariah Carey. The addition of TAG’s roster adds more than 2,000 acts, as well as more than 90 agents across seven offices in the UK, Sweden and North America. While staff at TAG were largely kept in the dark about the sale until the company’s receptionists began answering the phones as ‘United Talent Agency’, it’s business as usual among the agents, albeit they are now part of an ambitious American corporation. UTA’s purchase of TAG was made possible, in part, through an investment by hedge fund guru Jeffrey Ubben who becomes a nonvoting member of the UTA board. Ubben’s involvement “is really about bringing a smart, seasoned investor into the company,” says Zimmer.



BUSY BODIES News fr om live music associations ar ound the world

GWVR wins Music Venues Day to government approval Launch TAMVA The UK’s Music Venues Alliance is set to launch its own trade body next month when it holds its second annual Venues Day in London’s iconic Ministry of Sound club on 20 October. Simply named TAMVA – the Trade Association of the Music Venues Alliance – the new organisation intends to eventually offer member venues favourable rates on a range of products and services. “We’re looking at all kinds of areas, such as insurance, where we might be able to offer member venues beneficial trading terms and support,” explains Music Venues Trust founder Mark Davyd. Despite only forming

the Alliance a year ago, at 2014’s Venues Day, Davyd and his team have been working on a comprehensive review of the entire venues sector to identify the most crucial areas of concern, as well as prioritise the organisation’s goals and agenda for the coming year. “Ultimately we’d like to be in a position where our lobbying efforts can persuade legislators to give venue owners and operators tax incentives,” continues Davyd. “The trade association launch will be one of a series of announcements at this year’s Venues Day which will be a lot more in-depth than the inaugural event in 2014.”

Spanish festivals conference aims for record attendance The city of Bilbao’s world famous Guggenheim Museum is preparing to host Premios Fest (the Spanish Music Festivals Awards) as part of the third annual BIME music conference. An initiative of the Association of Music Promoters and festival portal,, Premios Fest also collaborates with national radio broadcaster, Radio 3. The awards ceremony made its debut at

BIME last year and attracted 67 accredited festivals, more than 26,000 votes and a dinner attended by the industry’s most prominent professionals. This year, more than 80 festivals are expected to participate in both the awards ceremony and the conference, where one of the major topic discussions will be the relationship between festivals and brands. The theme of this year’s conference, which takes

A new organisation that will allow promoters operating in the European Union to earn royalties from the use of their audio visual content, has been given the green light to proceed. Germany’s Patent and Trademark Office has recognised the Collecting Society for Promoter Rights (GWVR), launched by the nation’s promoters association, BDV, to allow promoters throughout Europe to earn revenues from the broadcast of audio or visual rights from their events. The German Copyright Act stipulates that, promoters can claim a licence fee when a recording of their event is broadcast, or made available in digital form. Before BDV set-up the GWVR, many promoters

didn’t realise the revenues they were entitled to by law. GWVR will collect royalties for its members whenever live recordings are used commercially. “For the first time there is a collecting society in Germany, which collects fees for the commercial usage of live recordings” explains GWVR chief Dr Johannes Ulbricht. “However, the real work has just started, because we have to draw up tariffs and allocation plans in agreement with the German Patent and Trademark Office.” Ulbricht adds that the Society for Musical Performing and Mechanical Reproduction Rights (GEMA) should administrate the collecting activities for the GWVR.

place 28-31 October, is ‘How New Thinking Generates New Incomes’ and will gather experts from across the music and technology sectors to discuss a range of topics, and will include a Spanish Music Festivals Congress. With both a professional and festival side to the programme, BIME is dedicated to exploring new opportunities between the music, tech, sync and gaming industries. In addition, the event hosts Europe’s first Latin and South American Networking

Summit, bringing together top buyers and sellers from the regions across festivals, sync and brands. Last year, more than 450 music festivals took place in Spain, with the biggest ten gatherings attracting more than 2.5million fans, who spent €211million on accommodation and transport alone. Highlighting the economic impact to the Spanish government, Premios Fest aims to recognise and value the work of the professionals behind each festival and celebrate the best events.

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IQ Magazine September 2015

The latest trades and handshakes from the agency world A Silent Film (UK) Phyllis Belezos, ITB James Simmons, ITB Actor (UK) Alxndr London (UK) Clementine Bunel & Cecile Communal, ATC-Live Paul Fenn, Asgard Anderson East (US) Banners (UK) Matt Bates, Primary Talent Ian Huffam & Jamie Wade, X-ray Touring Barnes Courtney (UK) Olivia Sime, ITB Big|Brave (CA) Blossoms (UK) Charlie Myatt, 13 Artists Isla Angus, Earth Agency Dan Deacon (US) Angus Baskerville, 13 Artists Dan Owen (UK) Steve Zapp, ITB Doe Paoro (US) Matt Bates, Primary Talent Drones Club (UK) Angus Baskerville, 13 Artists Ekkah (UK) Debra Downes, Dawson Breed Music Elle Exxe (UK) Martje Kremers, Primary Talent Etienne de Crécy (FR) Peter Elliott, Primary Talent Fine Print (UK) Angus Baskerville, 13 Artists Fly Golden Eagle (US) Ben Kouijzer, United Talent Agency Fred Falke (FR) Gill Landry (US) Steve Zapp, ITB Sean Goulding, United Talent Agency Good Tiger (UK) Gwilym Gold (UK) Isla Angus, Earth Agency Jamie Wade, X-ray Touring Hello Operator (UK) Phyllis Belezos, ITB Hot Soles (UK) Martin Johansson, Monstera I’m from Barcelona (SE) INHEAVEN (UK) Charlie Myatt, 13 Artists Jamie Wade, X-ray Touring Jeff Wootton (UK) Angus Baskerville, 13 Artists Jodie Abacus(UK) Craig D’Souza, Primary Talent Josh Parkinson (UK) Thomas Antonsson, Monstera Kate Boy (SE) Sally Dunstone, X-ray Touring Kelly Lee Owens (UK) Angus Baskerville, 13 Artists Kins (UK) Mark Bennett & Natasha Bent, United Talent Agency KLOË (UK) Jamie Wade, X-ray Touring Lawrence Taylor (UK) Peter Elliott, Primary Talent LEISURE (UK) Phyllis Belezos, ITB Mabel Rogers (UK) Phyllis Belezos, ITB Maize (US) Man & The Echo (UK) Phyllis Belezos, ITB Angus Baskerville, 13 Artists Marlon Williams (NZ) Memtrix (UK) Francesco Caccamo, Primary Talent Dan Silver, Value Added Talent MY BABY (NL) Michael Harvey-Bray, Primary Talent Noir (DK) Alex Bruford, ATC-Live Otherkin (IE) Phyllis Belezos, ITB Philip Sayce (US) Nick Holroyd, Primary Talent Pumarosa (UK) Royce Wood Junior (UK) Chris Payne, ITB Phyllis Belezos, ITB Sam Brookes (UK) Service Bells (AU) Phyllis Belezos, ITB Shaun Faulkner, X-ray Touring Slaves (US) Isla Angus, Earth Agency Sleaford Mods (UK) Charlie Myatt, 13 Artists Steve (UK) Stevie Parker (UK) Angus Baskerville, 13 Artists Jamie Wade, X-ray Touring Sugarmen (UK) Angus Baskerville, 13 Artists The Big Moon (UK) Jamie Wade, X-ray Touring The Duke Spirit (UK) The Gospel Youth (UK) Beckie Sugden, X-ray Touring Vinod Gadher, Earth-Agency The Tuts (UK) Tired Lion (AU) Shaun Faulkner, X-ray Touring Thomas Antonsson, Monstera Vanbot (SE) Angus Baskerville, 13 Artists VANT (UK) Mark Bennett, United Talent Agency Viola Beach (UK) Matt Bates, Primary Talent Willie J Healey (UK)


Big Weekend and Maida Vale Sessions. With blog support from Neon Gold; Pigeons and Planes; and DIY, it seems to be the start of a very exciting career for KLOË.


single, Lost in L.A., enter the Music Week commercial pop chart at number eight. The buzz around her is getting louder with Pop Justice noting, “There’s a lot to like about her music, her style and general popstar everythingness, along with some pleasing rough edges,” while The Quietus says,“Elle Exxe is emerging from the pop underground, brandishing a forceful snarled lip.” Expect a big industry A&R presence when she headlines Club NME at Koko in London on 16 October.


have been in heavy demand at the major festivals, including playing seven stages at Glastonbury. MY BABY have showcase gigs at Reeperbahn Festival and the International Festival Forum in September, and will next year focus on festival shows, as well as club tours across Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

Agent: Mark Bennett & Natasha Bent, United Talent Agency KLOË is an 18-year-old pop artist from Glasgow, Scotland. Her debut track Grip and follow up Feel this year have led to KLOË having already shot up the Hype Machine charts. She sold out her debut show and has significant broadcast support coming from BBC Radio One and BBC Introducing, with plays from Zane Lowe, Huw Stephens and Phil Taggart, as well as performances at One

Agent: Debra Downes, Dawson Breed Music Managed by one of our New Bosses, Umong Shah (see page 20), London-based Edinburgh songstress Elle Exxe recently saw her second

Agent: Dan Silver, Value Added Talent MY BABY are strong contenders for this year’s ‘hardest working act’ award, with more than 120 shows under their belt by the end of August and a further 40 planned by the end of 2015. The band – Kiwi guitarist Daniel ‘Dafreez’ Johnston and Dutch siblings Cato (vocals & guitar) and Joost van Dyke (drums) – are currently touring Europe to promote second album Shamanaid and

Has your agency signed the year’s hottest new act? Email to be considered for the next issue…

IQ Magazine September 2015



Streaming and Music Festivals Hamburg-based lawyer Reinher Karl outlines the various challenges faced, and opportunities available, for event promoters dealing with media rights clearances.


he live-streaming of music festivals by public broadcasters is becoming increasingly popular. Yet producers, labels and festivals rarely obtain adequate licences from providers in order to cover their respective rights. While the BBC pays several hundred pounds for the respective rights, in, for example, Germany, it has become customary to license the respective rights for free, allowing public broadcasters to make available excerpts or full concerts in their own media libraries for up to 30 days after the live broadcast or streaming, and to be content with promotional value, rather than remuneration.

“It is obvious that from whichever perspective, too many barriers are still holding every party back from monetising audio-visual footage from music festivals adequately.” This may come as quite a surprise for multiple reasons. Firstly, the rights can’t be obtained as an annex to the performance agreement between the promoter and the agent, as it isn’t the business of an agent to deal with recording rights. Licensing costs a lot in terms of time, effort and, as a consequence, money. There is some movement in legislation, and whether catch-up rights should be mandatory for collective licensing, is a subject of much heated discussion, on a European scale. I expect those rights to remain exclusive to the artist and the producer. Secondly, it is doubtful whether there is any valuable promotional effect for soldout festivals or developed artists or labels. Thirdly, it is still quite complicated to monetise the content due to the conflicts between the different rights holders – in particular, the producer; the label and artist; the promoter; and the provider. And finally, making more and more full-length concerts available on platforms without a premium model such as YouTube could cannibalise content on premium platforms such as Spotify or Apple Music. One strategy that festival promoters could employ in order to remain in the picture would be to put themselves in the producer position and to acquire rights for further


exploitation. Labels and artists are generally interested in first-class audio-visual material for commercial exploitation and there is a small international market for programmes that broadcast the highlights taken from well-known festivals and artists’ performances. Monetising content on YouTube is another option. However, for any rights holders involved it is a difficult job to acquire all of the necessary exploitation rights due to a conflict of interests. Major labels would hardly allow a third party to exploit the content of their artists and well-known artists have a strong position when it comes to negotiations. Though the described strategy is currently more or less the best or only option from the perspective of a promoter, it is obvious that from whichever perspective, too many barriers are still holding every party back from monetising audiovisual footage from music festivals adequately. As a result, there would be an obvious advantage for all parties involved to work together on concepts that would benefit everyone. Public broadcasters have to understand that they can’t expect to acquire free licences that allow the unlimited rebroadcast and Internet availability for 30 days or more of festival highlights. Artists and labels should be aware of the fact that sponsorship and media coverage are very closely linked and that YouTube channels of broadcasters, as well as festivals, are from the perspective of the channel owner and not third-party websites. Currently, most labels do not allow promoters or providers usage of festival recordings on domains that aren’t under their control. And finally, festival promoters need to accept that there is only a very small window of options between the needs of the recording industry and the broadcaster or provider. So what is the best solution? How could we split the cake? Artists and labels should only permit music festival recordings with a high technical recording standard, and only allow filming and recording at festivals where they are paid for transferring media rights, or otherwise profit in return for their right, which can of course be promotional value, at least for some smaller or upcoming bands. They should allow producers to exploit their audio-visual recordings but should receive their share wherever content with their performance is monetised. The same applies for promoters, who should also receive their share. Together we should help to improve software such as YouTube Content ID or monitoring software like Zafr to enable sharing-rights models on a technical level to avoid larger administrational effort.

IQ Magazine September 2015


The Cultural Front of Ukraine Dartsya Tarkovska, founder of digital music agency Soundbuzz in Ukraine, explains the importance of music in coping with the ongoing difficulties in her country.


or the first time in many years, people all over the world have started to talk about Ukraine. The wind of change brought about by the revolution in the winter of 2014 gave Ukrainians new hopes and dreams. It was hard to believe that by spring there would already be a military front and even more surprising – a cultural one. This cultural front united the nation and became the starting point for a country eager to move forward. Patriotism The word ‘patriotism’ comes from the Latin word ‘patris’ meaning ‘homeland’. Without our own cultural identity, our sense of self crumbles to dust. In recent years, Ukrainian artists and groups have reflected the state of the country and the suffering experienced by people in Ukraine has been reflected in the music of these musicians. The song Brat za brata (Brother for Brother) brought together many popular artists, including Kozak System, Taras Chubay, Maria Burmaka, Ruslana Lyzhychko, and Irena Karpa.

“The situation in our country creates a social demand for certain music. These patriotic songs…are needed now in the forefront. A huge number of new artists have appeared. Not sure that they will be able to stay until better times, because the social demand disappears. But it’s indisputable that from it all has emerged a new layer of the music of the Ukrainian culture...”

Mikhail Jasinski – director, Secret Service Entertainment Agency Volunteers and Charity A year or so ago, the idea of artists performing for soldiers would have sounded like a fantasy. But in 2014, artists such as Okean Elzy, Druga Rika, Ruslana, SKAI, Anastasiya Prikhodko, Tonya Matvienko and many other Ukrainian artists performed charity concerts in the east of the country, where armed conflict was taking place. Taras Topolya, frontman of the band Antitela, was one of those who led the volunteer movement in support of the Ukrainian army. Ruslana won the International Women of

IQ Magazine September 2015

Courage prize for bravery and leadership in promoting peace and justice, and proving what a platform for social messages and political discourse music can be. One of the most interesting charity events to take place was a special project organised by [Okean Elzy lead singer] Svyatoslav Vakarchuk called Vnochi (which translates to ‘at night’). Vnochi was an exclusive acoustic concert that took place in the National Academic Theatre and earned almost UAH10million (€420,000) from the sale of tickets. The profits were sent to restore a military hospital located near the war zone.

“The most important effect of philanthropy and volunteerism is not the collected money, but that we learn to be responsible. With this experience begins a new country and begins our Motherland.”

Svyatoslav Vakarchuk Touring The touring business in Ukraine is going through a hard time with foreign acts difficult to attract to the country. However, local artists have begun to give more concerts and the export of Ukrainian acts to both European and American music markets has increased. Festivals Despite political problems, the Ukraine festival season has not been a complete disaster. Because Crimea was occupied territory, Koktebel Jazz Festival changed address, rather than cancelling and simply moved itself to a location on the shore of the Black Sea in Odessa. Musicians from all over the world have gathered for the festival to support Ukraine and once again confirmed its place in the world cultural space. Traditional Kiev festivals GogolFest, ZaxidFest and Krajina Mriy, went ahead as always, fascinating visitors with an expanded cultural programme. However, other events located close to military occupied areas were cancelled altogether in 2014, as it was deemed too dangerous to hold a festival. The Best City UA festival cancelled with organisers stating that rock & roll needs peace and harmony and that the festival will continue once the situation in Ukraine has stabilised to ensure the safety of both musicians and audience alike.



Dealing with the Crisis Nana Trandou of Didi Music/Big Star Promotion in Athens, details the profound difficulties she and other promoters have had to deal with as a result of Greece’s economic crisis.


his summer, Rockwave Festival celebrated 20 years of welcoming and successfully promoting famous international bands and artists in Greece. To mark the anniversary, the festival took place on four non-consecutive dates across the summer, giving audiences the opportunity to combine vacations with a music festival. The fans’ reaction was even more positive than expected; the first date, on 30 May, was headlined by The Black Keys, supported by The Black Angels, 1000mods and other local acts. The event made the front pages of all music media in Greece. On the second day of the festival, 20 June, we welcomed Robbie Williams for the first time ever in Greece. The show also featured Kovacs, who are well known to the Greek audience. Fans came from all over the country and the reviews were outstanding. Our summer preparation though did not continue as planned... On Sunday 28 June, one week prior to the third day of the festival, our country faced an economic crisis never experienced before. Banks were to remain closed for an undetermined period of time, a referendum was scheduled for the 5 July and capital controls formed a new reality in Greece.

“An economic crisis is not exclusive to Greece, all promoters should be alerted that even though we were the first to be faced with this situation, we might not be the last.” When the capital controls began, and with the banks closed, we were unable to proceed with payments within the country or abroad. The maximum withdrawal amount was limited to €60 per day. All events were cancelled, all payments postponed and all transactions needed to be rearranged. There was widespread insecurity with people and companies unaware of what would happen the next day. Meanwhile, under these circumstances, I must stress the fact that each day of the festival was insured with one of the leading UK companies that we trusted and with whom we had insured not only Rockwave Festival throughout the years, but also larger-scale headlining music events. We had arranged a contingency policy which covered cancellation


or abandonment of the festival for specific reasons. Also, we had insurance in case of terrorism. We had tried to cover all situations, trying to give ourselves and our clients the best coverage in multiple cases. From our point of view, what happened was a classic case of force majeure, backed by members of Yourope, the largest festival association in Europe, of which Rockwave Festival is a founding member. However, our brokers disagreed, mainly because this was a unique and exceptional case not encountered in the past and consequently not even recognised by any clause in our contracts, leaving us unprotected in a never-before experienced situation and unaware of its consequences. Despite the pressure of the circumstances, we decided to proceed with the third day of the festival on 4 July with headliners The Prodigy, Judas Priest, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, John Garcia and many local acts, all under the shadow of a referendum taking place the day after. We also completed the final festival day on 21 July under these same circumstances, with headliner Manu Chao La Ventura, along with many other acts performing a unique show for Greek fans. The festival attracted more than 100,000 people, to the great satisfaction of all attending. I would like to personally thank all the bands and their representatives for their understanding under these conditions and their outstanding performances. An economic crisis is not exclusive to Greece, all promoters should be alerted that even though we were the first to be faced with this situation, we might not be the last. As such, promoters, insurance companies, managers and agents should be aware and willing to co-operate in order to avoid unpleasant financial situations. Insurance companies should review this case and introduce more flexibility on their terms and conditions in regard to unpredicted events in the future. Especially in cases where the promoter cannot control the event, but has previously proved responsible and trustworthy. Now, with things seeming more stable, we are currently working on Rockwave Festival 2016, putting the Greek audience as our first priority, planning attractive festivals and shows with an affordable ticket price to permit fans to be able to attend. Now summer has passed, music and musical events will continue as a part of our daily lives. We are optimistic and still believe in change for the better in a constantly evolving industry and community, which embraces diversity. Our first priority will always be the satisfaction and fulfilment of providing our audience with a complete festival experience.

IQ Magazine September 2015


Sharing a Vision Tom Windish explains his decision to team up The Windish Agency with Paradigm and its partner agencies, AM Only and London-based Coda Music Agency, under the Paradigm Music Division.


lot of people have asked me, “Why, and why now?”, about my company’s recent partnership with Paradigm. Legitimate questions for sure, but what I keep coming back to as the next chapter of my career unfolds, is: What do I want to do? How do I want to do it? And who do I want to do it with? I think many people, when they heard the news of the partnership, thought that I may be looking to ease up, or change how we’ve been operating. It’s exactly the opposite and it’s exciting to think about what comes next. Being an entrepreneur on this side of the business, particularly now, as live music is thriving and the role of the booking agency has evolved, there’s more opportunity than ever before. It’s just as thrilling today to break a small artist as it was when I started years ago on my own above Lounge Ax in Chicago. Now we have the ability to do so much more for emerging artists than we ever thought possible, helping to grow our acts globally by reaching audiences around the world. From brand partnerships; crossover into film and television projects; and nurturing our clients’ passion projects, it’s a great time to build out 360° strategies that help our clients break out faster than ever.

“It’s just as thrilling today to break a small artist as it was when I started years ago on my own above Lounge Ax in Chicago.” Ultimately, teaming up with a partner at this stage comes down to people and relationships. When I got the chance to really sit down with guys like Chip Hooper, Paul Morris, Marty Diamond, Sam Gores and the partners at Coda, it really became very apparent that we all share the same vision of how we approach our work and we shared the same goals. We all started small, without safety nets, with a passion for music and building our clients’ careers. So not only will my team and I be working alongside incredible collaborators, we get to be in business with people we really like and respect, which isn’t always easy to find in this business. We all just want to help each other grow, as partners, for the benefit of our clients. Also, the next generation of leadership within the partnership is incredibly talented, and we’ll all come out a lot stronger because of this.

Gig Gadgetry from the Frontline...

SeatGeek Inspired by Farecast, an airline-ticketforecasting site, SeatGeek developed a system to provide the same service for the sport ticketing sector in North America. And having successfully established a foothold in sports, the product has since been developed to aggregate tickets for concerts, tapping into the sales channels of more than 100 secondary ticketing marketplaces. In 2014, SeatGeek doubled its revenue to $25m (€22.4m), and processed $155million (€139m) in ticket sales. But that is a mere drop in the ocean compared to the $5billion (€4.5bn) secondary ticketing business in North America. SeatGeek charges 8% commission on sales to the secondary markets it aggregates, rather than to end-users. Using data disclosed by resellers, the company publishes a ‘Deal Score’, which rates the secondary ticket price against its original face value and seat location to give ratings of between 1 (very poor) to 100 (amazing) on the inventory.

Playmoss Playmoss provides a library for ‘lost’ song tracks – those heard on blogs, received in emails and on social networks. Unlike other sites that only allow users to use media from within the platform, Playmoss combines material from a number of sources and, unusually, is available on both Android and iOS apps. Developed by boffins in Barcelona, Spain, the ethos behind the company harks back to the classic mix tapes that fans used to spend hours recording or as founder and CEO Aleix Fernández puts it, “Playmoss wants to recover the philosophy of the legendary cassette and CD compilations, in an updated format.” The Playmoss service allows users to create music and video playlists using tracks from YouTube, Vimeo and SoundCloud. That means consumers can use footage of concerts and festivals

in their Playmoss playlist, which can, in theory, generate additional revenue streams for the promoters of those shows through the collection of neighbouring rights, by organisations such as GWVR (see page 12). The music and video playlist concept is a popular one among tech developers and Playmoss is among a slew of operations aiming to exploit demand, with others including Muusical, Bop. fm, Whyd, Songdrop and 8tracks Radio. Playmoss also allows users to share playlists while also tapping into the playlists created by tastemakers or artists that they like and trust. In addition to being an innovative music discovery app, Playmoss provides event organisers with an easy-to-use system for pulling together content and, this year, Barcelona’s Sónar Festival used the platform to announce its line-up.

The rapid adoption of SeatGeek by consumers convinced investors to raise $35m (€31.3m) in funding last year. Indeed, the runaway success of the platform appears to have existing operations looking over their shoulders, as US resales market leader StubHub delisted its inventory from SeatGeek in a bid to persuade fans to make its website their first port of call. Despite this, SeatGeek has blossomed, with sales of $49m (€43.8m) in the first six months of 2014 growing to $106m (€94.9m) in the second half of the year.

Bookitbee Bookitbee is an easy-to-use platform that allows event organisers to set-up an event and begin selling tickets in minutes. Users build a personalised event page and embed a booking widget into the event’s website and/or dedicated Bookitbee event page. Ticket purchasers are required to register their details and are sent e-tickets, which can be checked off against a list on the door or read using Bookitbee’s scanning system. Free tickets do not incur any fees, while paid-for tickets involve a Bookitbee system fee of 2% plus 50 pence or €0.75 per ticket, while booking fees are about 3.4%. The company claims that it can be used in any territory, but at present it only accepts UK sterling, US dollars and euros. However, event organisers in other countries are advised to use Paypal or Stripe, allowing them to also accept Canadian, Australian and New Zealand dollars, as well as South African rand. Bookitbee pledges to cut waiting times for payment and the white label service also allows events to email tickets to consumers in PDF format with tickets featuring the event logo or image, event information, location information, barcodes and QR codes for access control.

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IQ Magazine September 2015

NEW BOSSES 2015 Jeffrey Azoff

Shaun Faulkner

Will Griggs

Diego Schweizer

2015 marks IQ’s eighth year of our New Bosses feature and it’s been a fiercely fought process, with more nominations than ever before. Our winning ten New Bosses represent a good geographical spread with four UK-based professionals, two from the USA, two from Germany and the remaining bosses from South Africa and Switzerland. And if you ever needed proof that entrepreneurs are thriving in the live entertainment sector, then read on - and do yourself a favour by adding their details to your contacts book.

Gordon Masson Editor – IQ Magazine

Joanna Young

Umong Shah

Jeffrey Azoff (US)

Age: 29

Agent, Creative Artists Agency After graduating from the University of Colorado’s Leeds School of Business, Jeffrey Azoff (son of Irving) began his career at his father’s company, Frontline Management, before making the switch to the agency side of the business when he joined CAA in 2012. Based in Los Angeles, he represents many of the world’s leading musicians, including The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Kings of Leon, Britney Spears, Meghan Trainor, Leon Bridges, and Kodaline, among others.

Sophie Doherty

Scott O’Neill

What is exciting you in the music business at the moment?

Everything right now. From seeing how quickly new acts I’m lucky to work with, such as Leon Bridges or Meghan Trainor, are breaking, to being a part of the team that put together the first contemporary residency in Las Vegas for Britney Spears, and just being able to help out with bands as legendary as The Eagles or Fleetwood Mac is unbelievable. What’s the best thing about your job?

Getting to work with friends.

What’s the best piece of advice anyone has given you? Björn Deparade

Helene Sperling

Follow through is everything...



Will Griggs (US)

Age: 30

Co-founder, Cantora Records

While studying music business at New York University, Will and his roommate Jesse Israel discovered Grammynominated band MGMT and established Cantora to release the band’s first EP, Time to Pretend. Since then, Cantora has also launched music by Bear Hands and Savoir Adore, and as well as a live event production arm, the company has a successful tech investment fund. Are there any career low points that you’ve learned from?

Yes, one of the biggest lessons I carry with me is that sometimes the thing that you want to have happen NOT happening can be the best outcome in the long term. Learn from it and move on. How were you introduced to the business?

By booking and promoting concerts in my home-town. I wanted to play shows, but with no infrastructure, I had to help create a platform for bands that had no business playing at venues aside from house parties, community centres and church basements.

work with I mainly talk to promoters, managers and labels. I also like to search online blogs for new talent: you can find some gems on those. What’s the hardest decision you’ve had to make in your career?

The most difficult decision of my career so far was after two years of running my own agency, closing it down and letting nine acts go from my roster and taking a handful over to X-ray. What do you see yourself doing in five years’ time?

Over the next five years, I see myself developing into the role and breaking a significant number of new acts. My sole focus is taking my artists to the next level and beyond. How do you build relationships with professionals in other countries?

By attending events such as the ILMC and Great Escape. I recently went to Slottsjfell in Norway to meet a festival promoter and it was very valuable and a great experience. What was your big break?

I would say my biggest break so far is becoming an agent for X-ray touring, with the help from Paul Bolton, Adam Saunders and Ian Huffam.

What does Cantora’s live production division do?

We’ve always produced live events as a way to extend our brand and reach new fans. But as important to us are the collaborative aspects of throwing events. Whether it is a band we have our eye on, or a building, a case study for one of the tech companies in our portfolio throwing events has been a great way to build a relationship. What was the thinking behind Cantora’s tech investment fund?

Around 2008-2009 we saw an opportunity to essentially sign start-ups like we had been signing bands. It involves finding extremely talented people early, giving them resources to build out their ideas and their team and help create opportunities for them that they would have a hard time creating on their own. We’ve been lucky to work with such amazing companies and entrepreneurs.

Shaun Faulkner (UK)

Age: 27

Agent, X-ray Touring

Shaun’s career started off when he established his own agency, booking shows in the UK and Europe from his bedroom whilst studying at Northampton University. After his second year, he worked at Universal Music in London during the summer, and decided to remain in the capital to pursue a career as a booking agent. Shaun joined The Agency Group for a six-month internship, before becoming an agent at X-ray Touring. What has working at different companies taught you?

The main thing I have learned from working at different companies is the many styles and approaches to the job, which I have taken on board for my own skill set and am applying successfully. How do you identify new acts for your roster?

When identifying and searching for new acts to develop and

IQ Magazine September 2015

Diego Schweizer (CH)

Age: 28

Managing director, eps schweiz

Born in Zurich, Switzerland, Diego studied banking and finance at university before enrolling on an event management course at Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts. During school and university, he worked as a stage hand and was later asked to join the site team of local production specialists Fortissimo AG. A two-year stint leading the catering and events department at a restaurant operator ended when Fortissimo’s head of production introduced Diego to eps owner Okan Tombulca at a Roger Waters show in Zurich in 2013, and in January 2014, he was appointed managing director of eps schweiz. What do you enjoy most about your job?

The diversity. There is no day like the other. One day I am at the office pondering over next year’s budget, the next day I am on site checking with a customer and our supervisors. Working this way keeps you focused because it’s not just copy/paste. What are the main issues you have to bear in mind in your day-to-day work?

In my line of work there are four essential conditions to be fulfilled: the right quantity, in the right quality, at the right time, in the right place. When all these conditions are right, the job will run very smoothly. If one condition is not fulfilled it will start to cost money and nerves. So keeping focused on the four conditions makes the difference for our business success. What one thing would you change about the music business if you could?

These days, decisions are often made on short notice. This makes accurate planning difficult and bears a huge margin for error. Timely planning would make things more efficient and therefore less expensive. What are the main challenges in your market?

Cost pressure is an ever-returning issue. Everyone in the industry has it. And being at the lower end of the food chain doesn’t make it easier.




Joanna Young (UK)

Age: 30

Head of campaigns and marketing, Live Nation UK

Having graduated with a 1st class honours degree in drama with English, Joanna gave up juggling her low paid acting work with low paid bar work, and decided to get a ‘proper’ job in media. She spent seven years at ZenithOptimedia working her way up the ranks to media planning director. However, longing to do something involving her passion – live music – she landed the job as head of campaigns at Live Nation where she now leads a team of eight people. As the head of your own department, is there anyone you can turn to for advice?

One of the best parts of working for a large company like Live Nation is the wealth of incredibly talented people across all departments – I learn something new every day from a promoter, social media manager, PR exec, etc. Additionally, I turn to members of my own team, who are all brilliant and bring different experiences/skill sets to the job. What is your proudest achievement to date?

Selling out 45,000 tickets in a matter of days for Kasabian’s homecoming gig was a great moment. But really, the proud moments come when you can see the effect your marketing has on tours or festivals that aren’t selling quickly. What are the main issues you have to bear in mind in your day-to-day work?

It’s impossible to please everyone; in an industry where there are so many stakeholders the most important thing is knowing when to pick your battles, and trying to always do the best thing for the show you are marketing, regardless of others’ opinions. Are there any low points that you’ve learned from?

Absolutely – I’ve learned the most from the stressful times! You are expected to prove yourself and your ability in this industry very quickly, and it’s hard to initiate changes to any processes that have been unquestioned for years.

Umong Shah (UK)

Age: 25

Manager, Fortitude Music

Graduating from the University of Hertfordshire’s Music & Entertainment Industry Management course, Umong started interning at Discovery Talent, working through the ranks to become promoter & head of business development. He gained management experience via Chaos & Bedlam Management and recently created his own company, Fortitude Music, which is looking after pop act, Elle Exxe. He also continues to promote emerging music with Discovery Talent. You are now your own boss – did you have any worries about creating your own company?

My main concern was the constant thought of, ‘Am I ready?’. You just have to take that leap of faith, after all we are in an industry that likes risks (although probably not as much as we used to). So, I did it, and the reception was overwhelming. A single Facebook status went out and it was the most likes status I have ever put out. That gave me the confidence to continue and to stop worrying. What is your proudest achievement to date?

Working with Elle Exxe and what we’ve done with her in the last year. She’s just got her first front cover and is


playing Koko on 16 October. Elle Exxe has only existed for a year and is the first artist I have managed on my own. The team we have around her believe in her as much as I do, and that’s why this last year working with Elle Exxe has been my proudest achievement to date. What advice would you give to anyone who wants to become an artist manager?

I would recommend reading Music: The Business by Anne Harrison. It’s a brilliant overview of the industry. I would then recommend that they join the MMF and go to their incredibly useful seminars. Make sure you attend the festival conventions like The Great Escape. Events like ILMC are great to get a deeper understanding of what’s happening on the live side.

Sophie Doherty (ZA)

Age: 29

Marketing manager, Big Concerts

After completing a degree in Arts, Music and Entertainment Management at the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts, Sophie visited family in Cape Town and ended up staying. She landed a job at Big Concerts and in her spare time started managing some local bands. After three years, Sophie was promoted to marketing manager where she has worked on numerous global tours, the most recent being Michael Bublé and One Direction. How relevant is social media to what you do?

Our social media channels form a massive part of our marketing strategy, especially breaking tour announcements and ticket on-sales. We also use social media on show days to keep fans informed with show related information and to respond to queries. Last year, Big Concerts was listed as one of the top five Twitter brands in South Africa. Has managing artists helped you at Big Concerts?

Absolutely. I’ve learnt a lot of really valuable skills: the power of negotiation, how to effectively manage creative personalities and how to communicate with the different sectors of the industry – band members, venues, other managers and of course promoters. And mostly, how to get an eight-piece band to sound check on time.

What are the main challenges of working in South Africa’s live music business?

Number one would be the exchange rate and because of that we spend a lot of time on market research to make sure we get our offers spot on to benefit the artist, the agent and promoter. Secondly, geographically South Africa is a minimum 11-hour flight from Europe and America. However, we always find artists absolutely love it here and we often do repeat business because of that. What’s the best lesson you’ve learned so far?

Don’t take no for an answer – it’s how I got my foot in the door. Also don’t be an asshole. You can still be respected if you don’t give everyone a hard time. And what’s the best thing about your job?

I love developing different marketing plans for the diverse range of tours we promote and the strategy that goes with that.. I can see very quickly if a campaign is working or not against ticket sales and I have a constant eye on that to make sure we achieve a sell out tour.

IQ Magazine September 2015



Scott O’Neill (UK)

Age: 29

Promoter, DHP Family

Aged 15, Scott started organising gigs by accident as a way to try and get his “terrible” ska punk band support slots in Liverpool. Dismayed that none of his favourite bands were visiting Manchester, where he was studying chemistry at university, Scott used his student loan and overdraft to persuade acts to perform in the city, where he promoted shows by the likes of Animal Collective, Band of Horses, and Sun Kil Moon, and started developing good relationships with American indie acts. How did you turn your hobby into a career?

I ran my own promotions company for five years, based in Manchester, until 2011, when I moved to DHP. What are the most memorable moments you have of running your own company?

Promoting Wu Tang Clan at Brixton. The day before the show I had to fly to Germany to round them up and put them on a plane, because their tour manager quit and they hinted they might not turn up to my show. I also promoted Gil Scott Heron at Manchester Opera House, and managed to negotiate a contract with Manchester Cathedral to hold their diary, run the bar and handle all music events. How did you find making the step up from local to national promoting?

I was actually promoting 150 shows a year across the country, including many acts nationally. But since I started at DHP, nearly five years ago, I’ve been an integral part of the company’s recent growth from a Midlands regional promoter, to a leading national promoter. Who is on your roster?

Acts I now personally work with include The War on Drugs, Milky Chance, Bonnie Prince Billy, Cat Power, Slowdive, The Lumineers, Of Monsters and Men, Catfish and The Bottlemen, Lianne La Havas, Half Moon Run, The Staves, Wild Beasts, The Tallest Man On Earth, Future Islands, Warpaint, and Rodriguez.

How do you find the acts that you work with?

I started in the music industry as an A&R consultant at a record company so finding new talent was always an important part of my work. It could be anything, from blogs and SoundCloud to personal recommendations or showcase festivals. How relevant is technology/social media to what you do?

Very important! We are working with a bunch of experts and companies in different digital fields and, for example, just invested in a new app to give artists more transparency about their digital music revenue. What’s your biggest moment as a manager so far?

The breakthrough of Milky Chance in the USA. People told us it wouldn’t be possible to break a band from a small town in Germany in the States. Two years later they are about to go double-platinum and sold out their second North American tour this year, playing legendary venues such as Red Rocks and Central Park.

Helene Sperling (DE)

Age: 29

CEO – booking, Passerotto Concerts

Born in Munich, Helene went to university to study flight engineering, but also had a number of internships in tour management and artist liaison positions. She started work as a trainee at KBK Konzert in 2008 before founding Passerotto Concerts in 2010. Two years later, Passerotto agreed a joint venture with KBK and have since built an impressive roster of touring artists. How did you get into the music business?

It was by accident. I started to study flight engineering, but noticed that my technical comprehension wasn’t good enough. How do you identify new acts for your roster?

I continuously visit agents in England and the USA. Because of the many long-term business relationships we have at Passarotto, we are in a comfortable position where we sometimes get approached by agents and artist management. What are you currently working on?

Björn Deparade (DE)

Age: 24

Founder, Wasted Talent Entertainment

Born and raised in Frankfurt, Björn started a music publishing joint venture with Budde Music during high school and joined Polydor/Island in Berlin as an A&R exec after graduation. In 2014, he founded management company Wasted Talent and initially represented German band Milky Chance, who have achieved platinum sales status in America, Australia and Canada. More recently, Björn has been working with New York-born newcomer Sara Hartman who has now signed to Universal Music and is represented by agency UTA for North America and Coda for the rest of the world. Who do you turn to for advice?

I’m fortunate to work with a variety of great and experienced people who I can always consult if I need a second opinion or advice. It could be my partners at Wasted Talent (Andre & Marek Lieberberg), my lawyer or simply good friends who I don’t work with directly, but who also manage young artists and might face the same problems.

IQ Magazine September 2015

Status Quo, Yes, Europe, Richard Thompson, Crosby Stills & Nash, Magnum, Meat Loaf, Rickie Lee Jones and Nits. What do you see yourself doing in five years’ time?

Marrying a millionaire. Just kidding, I’m already cohabiting with a poor fellow. What do you enjoy most about your job?

The immediate reward of seeing happy people at our shows. As a New Boss, what would you change to make the business healthier?

I’d like to get back to the core business, instead of dealing with ticketing systems and their creative urges to invent new side costs, almost every day. What are the main issues you have to bear in mind in your day-to-day work?

Not to forget the creativity, just because we’re occupied with our daily business. What was your proudest achievement in the business so far?

Starting my own company and becoming established within three years.


30 SEASONS With a talent history that would make any major festival promoter blush, Basel’s Baloise Session this year celebrates its 30th anniversary. Eamonn Forde finds out just what makes this small town event such an international success. With a population of just 195,000, Basel in Switzerland is not the first place you would think of as being a hotbed of music. Yet for 30 years, Baloise Session (formerly known as Rheinknie Session until 1997 and then Avo Session between 1998 and 2012) has been drawing musical legends to the country’s third biggest city to perform intimate shows to just 1,500 people. It boasts a unique set-up where everyone is seated at tables and has an incredible view of acts


used to playing to audiences 40 times the size. The event was launched by Matthias Müller and Beatrice Stirnimann in 1986, initially as a means to showcase their event agency to potential clients. “The first festival was really funny as we started with a big mistake,” says Müller. “We had five show dates at the first festival and five different venues. We had to launch everything in the different places. We never did it again!”

IQ Magazine September 2015

OF SESSIONS Those early venues included a casino and a church, but the Session’s selling point has become about hosting two acts per night in the same venue in an intimate and relaxed environment. At the time it was being developed, festivals were getting bigger and bigger, squeezing more people into fields to watch acts that were little more than specks in the distance, but Baloise went the other way – staying small and taking things indoors. In some ways, they were pioneering the idea of the boutique festival that others have been looking to replicate in the past decade as a point of differentiation from the mega-festivals that prioritise scale over experience.

For the first eight years of its life, the Session was ostensibly a jazz and blues festival, with acts like Albert Collins helping put it on the map. “When we started indoors with this festival, we noticed that people really liked that we took care of the details so that they had a better concert experience,” says Müller. “One year we decided to start with the club tables and that was a real boost as the audience were so thrilled about the different atmosphere.” This is the point that the event is most proud of. It has held its nerve, stayed small and that has only served to increase its distinctiveness. “It is not always about growing or getting faster,” says All photography © Dominik Plüss

IQ Magazine September 2015


Baloise Session

Bryan Ferry was one of the star attractions last year

Stirnimann. “You also have to sell quality. People coming to our events know that it is about quality.” That point is key for the event’s sponsors. Marc Hallauer, head of marketing, Switzerland, for Baloise Insurance, says, “Unforgettable concert experiences thanks to international stars, up close and in person – that’s what makes the Baloise Session so special. It’s the reason why, for 17 years, we have been a proud partner of this extraordinary festival.”


“[The artists] can see everyone sitting in the audience because it is so small. People can come right to the front and touch the artist. It is really different.”

Beatrice Stirnimann, co-founder

For the first half of its life, the event was the very definition of exclusive – where attendees had to make their way to Basel and that was the only way they could experience it. In 1999, however, the decision was made to film the festival for international broadcast, initially on SRF2 and 3sat in Germanspeaking markets. Ron Kurz was brought in by the Swiss Broadcasting Company to do the sound for the shows so it could work equally as well for both a live and home audience. For him, the intimacy of the festival has meant that artists are much more hands-on in terms of how it sounds and looks. “The artists have time to be critical and to listen,” Kurz explains. “That is the biggest challenge – that you are in direct contact with the artists. The big advantage of the festival is that you only have two artists per day [performing]. That means every artist has ample time to do a soundcheck. That is great as far as my job is concerned.” Roli Bärlocher directs all the TV recordings and says no other live event works like this and that he has to be careful not to damage the intimate vibe in the room. “My duty is to realise the concerts as they happen, with the best case scenario being that the artist does not even notice they are being recorded,” he says. “Therefore, it is very important where the cameras are placed. It is the special ambience that makes these shows unique. In TV, there are only a few concerts with this character.”


Contributors (top row, left to right): Roli Bärlocher (TV director), Jürg Hügin (AudioRent Clair), Ronny Burkhalter (head of security). Middle row (l to r): Andreas Messerli (Messerli Group). Ron Kurz (sound), Christoph Stahel (production manager). Bottom row (l to r): Matthias Müller (Baloise Session president), Beatrice Stirnimann (Baloise Session CEO).


Everyone involved in Baloise Session praises its intimacy, meaning that the shows are special and acts deliver a unique performance specific to the venue and the audience. When Pink played in 2006, she was most taken by the contrast between this show and the rest of her shows, often in football stadia, on her European tour. “In the afternoon at the soundcheck, Pink confided in me that she was unsure it was the right decision,” says Müller. “But after the show, she came and told me it had been the closest contact with the audience on the whole tour. Normally, she would have three meters of security between her and the first row of fans. She was joking that even the security guards were smiling.” Stirnimann adds, “Once they have started and they have touched the audience, it gets very intense for them. That is what they always say. [The artists] can see everyone sitting in the audience because it is so small. People can come right to the front and touch the artist. It is really different.” Ronny Burkhalter has been head of security at Baloise for over a decade and says that, while the audience is closer to superstar acts than at other festivals or live shows, this is

IQ Magazine September 2015

Baloise Session James Brown smashed sales records in 2000

“We are in Switzerland and there is a law here forbidding the driving of trucks in the night. If you have to do it, you need a special permit – even for Sundays.”

Christoph Stahel, production manager something he ensures the artists are happy with. “The artists always felt very comfortable at our events,” he says. “This is something I witness myself when I escort them back to the dressing room after their show. The true secret of the success of the Baloise Session is the fact that the guests can stand directly in front of the stage with no safety distance, where they can get in touch with their favourite artists and look them directly in the eyes. Furthermore, the artist can interact with the fans on a direct level, feeling the emotions and excitement of the guests.” This intimacy can result in some unique moments for the performers and the audience. “Rod Stewart recognised a guest with a Union Jack-patterned jacket during the show who he had already seen in the city centre a couple of hours earlier,” says Burkhalter. “So he took the jacket from the guest and tried to wear it himself. But it didn’t fit and he almost couldn’t get his arm out of it again. That was definitely a funny and memorable moment.”


LOGISTICAL CHALLENGES Because of its location, however, the event faces some logistical issues that have to be worked around – and which have become more pronounced as artists want to bring bigger and bigger production set-ups with them. Christoph Stahel previously worked at Montreux Jazz Festival and has been production manager at Baloise since 2003, looking after a core technical crew of 15 – a figure that rises to 25 when the camera and audio crews are added in. “We are in Switzerland and there is a law here forbidding the driving of trucks in the night,” he says. “If you have to do it, you need a special permit – even for Sundays.” This means intricate planning is absolutely critical. “When I did Montreal 15 years ago, we had one truck coming,” he recalls. “One. We were excited about a single truck. ‘The truck is coming!’ Now we have one person who takes care of nothing but parking the buses and trucks. We have 40 trucks this year.” Everyone IQ spoke to for this feature referred to the team at Baloise as a “family” and this is a telling indication of how much they enjoy working there and how that enthusiasm carries through to everything they do, affecting the acts and the audience equally. “We are one family – from the stage-crew and the security to the ticketing staff and the dressing-room assistants,” says

IQ Magazine September 2015

Baloise Session

Eric Clapton received a lifetime achievement award when he performed at the Basel event in 2013

Burkhalter. “Everybody identifies themselves as a part of the Baloise Session and works accordingly. Beatrice and Matthias support the staff and care for everyone. This warm atmosphere is also transferred to our guests who can feel that they’re not at a regular concert evening.” Kurz adds, “Matthias has a winning team and has been keeping them onboard. It has always been the same people. It is like a family – a family that grows together.” That camaraderie is evident among event services suppliers too. “Messerli is very proud to be an active part of the Baloise Session family,” says the company’s chairman Andreas Messerli. “We build and provide infrastructure for the stage and backstage area as well as the foyer and concert hall. Over the years the festival has become dear to all of us and our clients appreciate the opportunity to see renowned artists perform in such a unique atmosphere. Happy Anniversary!”

PERFORMANCE HIGHLIGHTS Having put on so many shows over 30 years with some of the biggest acts in the world, it would be impossible to list them all, but speaking to those closely involved in Baloise, a few are exceptionally memorable. “We did James Brown in 2000 and it was the fastest sell-out show we had for the festival until then,” says Stirnimann. “He was one of the most special artists that you could ever have.” Müller adds, “There was a funny story from that show. The crew lost a box with his shoes in it. The tour manager came and told us, ‘No shoes – no show!’. If you start a festival and have been doing it for a few years but are not that experienced, that is kind of a shock. We found the shoes and the show went on.” Equally, Grace Jones in 2009 was memorable because it was far from straightforward. “Everyone who has worked with Grace Jones before knows that sometimes the production is a bit chaotic [and] she is not easy to handle,” says Stahel. “She was hanging in the dressing-room, drinking champagne, not rushing to go on stage. I said, ‘Grace, listen, we have a strict curfew at 11.’ She asked me, ‘What if I play longer?’. I said, ‘Well, I will have to pull the plug.’ She looked at me and said, ‘Are you serious? Are you kidding me?’.” Stahel bluntly told her that he would have to pull the plug at the curfew and the audience would have to go home. “I said,

if she wanted to give a full show she would have to begin on time. Finally, at 8.40pm she came on. I knew she would go until 11.10pm as we discussed that with production. At 11.10pm, she finished the show, came directly to me and said, ‘Thank you for not pulling the plug.’ That was the Grace Jones night.”

EXPANSION TEMPTATION The event, helped in no small part by being televised, but also by artists talking about it among themselves, now has huge international appeal – so much so that it has been approached to expand into Asia. Müller and Stirnimann feel, however, that it has to stay in Basel otherwise it will lose the spirit that makes it unique. “We got a phone call from people in China who wanted

23 Oct. Opening Night

Sarah Connor/James Arthur

24 Oct. One of a Kind

Iggy Pop/Katzenjammer

27 Oct. 2 Sides of Italy

Francesco De Gregori/Mario Biondi

29 Oct. Northern Lights

Rea Garvey/Tina Dico Solo

03 Nov. Hot Rhythms

Trombone Shorty/Candy Dulfer

05 Nov. From Heart to Soul

Paolo Nutini/Philipp Poisel

Grace Jones put on a stunning show in 2009, despite time constraints

Baloise Session 2015: The Programme

06 Nov. The Art Of Songwriting Tori Amos Solo/Randy Newman Solo 07 Nov. Lady Meets Legend

The Allen Toussaint Quartet/Rebecca Ferguson

09 Nov. All That Jazz

Gregory Porter/The Roger Cicero Jazz Experience

10 Nov. Insomnia

Faithless/Supporting Act tba

12 Nov. They Rock!

Toto/Bastian Baker

IQ Magazine September 2015


Baloise Session

to launch a festival like ours in Shanghai,” says Müller. “They said they wanted to come to Basel to talk to us and try to work together. In terms of money, maybe it would have been nice. But if we had to stay for half the year in Shanghai [working on the event there] we would not have the same quality in Basel anymore. So we stayed here and did the same thing we have always done here. We are really sure this was the right decision.” Three decades in and able to turn down expansion into the most populous country in the world, Baloise is in an enviable position. Why do those involved feel it has endured and grown in the way it has? “One of the main factors, I believe, is the human factor at the festival,” says Kurz. “Matthias has been getting bigger and bigger acts – which is due to his passion. It is quite incredible. The artists really love the way the whole thing is handled from a personal and a human point of view. I think that is one of the main factors of the festival.” Bärlocher is succinct in his answer. “The ambience is special and therefore unique,” he says. “It is an intimate club concert with famous artists that usually play in bigger venues. Those kind of concerts are rare.”

“The ambience is special and therefore unique. It is an intimate club concert with famous artists that usually play in bigger venues. Those kind of concerts are rare.”

Roli Bärlocher, TV director

Jürg Hügin is the founder of AudioRent Clair, which provides sound, lights, video and backline at Baloise and believes that the event has endured precisely because it has managed to mature while maintaining its intimacy. “It has evolved from a small local concerts series to a unique international festival, and still was able to keep the club atmosphere,” he says. “The standards have got higher every year. The audience expects shows with great sound and lights; the video has also become more important every year.”

PATIENTLY WAIT-ING For Müller and Stirnimann, the secret to Baloise Session’s success has not been to overreach itself. “We never try to grow too much,” says Stirnimann. “Quality is our best argument. We have had the opportunity to grow, but we have always said we don’t want to grow; we want to keep it small, boutique, and with a high level of quality.” Müller adds, “We don’t want to change that much. It would be a risk. One of the most important points is that the artists help us a lot with word of mouth and tell other acts that it is a nice place and that we are reliable people.” For the future, then, it is business as usual. Keeping things intimate and close are key, knowing that to change things too much will unravel what has made the event what it is. Each year the Baloise team book bigger and bigger acts as well as younger acts, meaning that the audience itself is getting younger – the net result being that it is ensuring its future for many years to come. Asked who is top of their dream list of acts to play, Müller and Stirnimann shout out as one, “Tom Waits!”. Well, they say that all good things come to those who Waits.

Baloise president Matthias Müller and CEO Beatrice Stirnimann presented Elvis Costello with the Musicians’ Musican Award during last year’s event


IQ Magazine September 2015



Musikkens Hus Studenterhuset

Jelling Festival





Beatbox Concerts Down The Drain Skandinavian Concert Hall Århus Fonden VoxHall Radar Train Grimfest Northside Festival SPOT Festival

MAP KEY Promoter Agent Agent/Promoter Venue Festival


Nibe Festival



Blues Productions



Beatbox Concerts ET Concert Promotion ICO Concerts Live Nation WB Concerts Beatbox Booking Gearbox Copenhagen Music Fairwood Music International Wallengren Music & Theatre Mgmt Amager Bio Copenhagen JazzHouse Culture Box DR Koncerthuset Falconer Salen Global Copenhagen Loppen Parken Stadium Tivoli VEGA Distortion Copenhagen Jazz Festival Offspring







Søren Højberg Booking SSM Music Tobakken



Ringsted Festival


Roskilde Festival Gimle


Musikhuzet Bornholm


Nakke Festival


Riverboat Jazz Festival Christopher Entertainment


Skagen Festival




Skive Festival




Tønder Festival


Tunø Festival


CSB Island Entertainment



Vejle Musikteater


28 VIG

Vig Festival


Fabian Event



ODENSE Tinderbox Festival Posten/Dexter




HERNING Lykke Music Fermaten


HILLERØD Klaverfabrikken


Holstebro Int’l. Music Festival


























IQ Magazine September 2015


Probably one of the best markets in the world

For years one of the most reliable live music markets in Europe, business in Denmark was recently disrupted by declarations of war among its promoters – a situation that is only now calming down. Adam Woods reports.


ourer, less contented nations have spent plenty of time wondering why Denmark consistently scores so highly in global happiness surveys. It can’t just be its wealth – neighbours Sweden and Norway are both richer, along with quite a number of other grumpier nations. Is it the generous welfare state? A design tradition that effortlessly honours both form and function? Or is it, as some have suggested, a national happy gene? And how do we square all this happiness with the hot roar of indignation that emerged from prosperous, progressive Denmark last year when some booking agents launched a festival? Tinderbox, a new mainstream event in the city of Odense, was the latest offering from the grouping of Germany’s everthrusting FKP Scorpio, Brian Nielsen and Flemming Myllerup of Skandinavian and Mads Sørensen of Beatbox. The three already share involvement in Århus festival NorthSide, and the latter two Danish companies have, to varying degrees and at various times, balanced their promoting activities with the booking of local and international artists. Despite its relatively modest size – 25,000-capacity in year one, with plans to expand to 45,000 by 2019 – Tinderbox quickly lived up to its name, setting a fire under Denmark’s well-established festival business. No sooner was the festival announced in September 2014 than leading festivals Roskilde, Skanderborg, Nibe Festival and Jelling Musikfestival moved to boycott both Skandinavian and Beatbox Booking – outraged variously by Tinderbox’s timing (up against the beginning of Roskilde in the final weekend of June); by a £2.5million (€3.4m) public subsidy from the city of Odense; by the involvement of promoters who were also seemingly agents; and, quite possibly, by the presence of powerful German promoter FKP Scorpio, which is well along in a plan for broad Scandinavian expansion. Nielsen and Myllerup duly severed their ties with Skandinavian, selling the business to four employees. The

IQ Magazine September 2015

Beatbox situation was more problematic, the company having already initiated a split, apparently in the spring of 2014, forming two separate companies: Mads Sørensen’s Beatbox Concerts and former partner Peter Sørensen’s Beatbox Booking. When the boycott struck, it made no distinction, and Beatbox Booking was forced to lay off three staff, to the undisguised consternation of Peter Sørensen. He pointed out that Beatbox Concerts and Beatbox Booking were separate entities and criticised the damage done by “the four festivals’ clumsy, disrespectful and deeply unpleasant attack on our integrity and credibility”. Another alleged knock-on effect of Tinderbox was to provoke the cancellation of Festival Republic’s Norwegian festival Hove. “The Scandinavian market has always been busy and the recent addition of Tinderbox Festival with a significant public subsidiary [sic] will make what was a tough event economically into an almost impossible one,” said a Festival Republic statement. For a famously happy, stylish country, it was a remarkably messy, unhappy situation, rendered faintly ridiculous by the fact that Tinderbox, when it eventually took place, put in a fairly modest first-year showing. It seems worth laying out the incident in full, for two reasons: first, it may prove to illustrate the moment when long-term battle lines were drawn in the Danish business; and second, it surely tells us something about the sensibilities of the country itself, even in relation to its next-door neighbour Sweden. “I think the Swedish festivals were kind of baffled at what happened over there [in Denmark], with blocks and boycotts,” says Tobbe Lorentz, Malmö-based senior vice-president of United Talent Agency (formerly The Agency Group), which operates across a broader region of southern Sweden and eastern Denmark that includes Copenhagen, a short hop across the Øresund Bridge. “That would never happen here,” he adds. “I’m not saying that it’s right or wrong. But



Contributors Contributors Top (left to right): Kim Worsøe (ICO Concerts), Tobbe Lorentz (United Talent Agency), Kenneth Svoldgaard (CSB Island), Mads Sørensen (Beatbox Concerts), Bottom (left to right): John Fogde (Northside Festival), Jakob Brixvold (Dansk Live), Christina Bilde (Roskilde Festival), Steen Jørgensen (VEGA)

in Sweden it’s more like the UK, where it’s war all the time.” It’s evident that the Danish live music business is worth fighting for. In 2014, live accounted for comfortably the largest share of the country’s overall music revenues of DKK6.8billion (€900million), turning over DKK3.9bn (€520m), employing 2,372 people and adding a further DKK446m (€60m) in live exports [source: Dansk Musikomsætning 2014]. So, with a population of just 5.6m, but with a strategic significance as the bridge between mainland Europe and the rest of Scandinavia, Denmark is an interesting market, and, as Tinderbox demonstrated, a bit more combustible than you might think.



enmark was incorporated into the corporate live music business at the turn of the millennium when, as part of a comprehensive Scandinavian roll-up, Flemming Schmidt and Steen Mariboe’s DKB was acquired by SFX’s EMA Telstar, later to become Live Nation. Since Schmidt’s death in 2013, Live Nation Denmark has fallen under the leadership of Jesper Christensen, and this year has brought all the heavyweights you’d expect to the region, including Usher, One Direction, Slipknot and, in December, AC/DC at Parken Stadium. Other than Live Nation, Danish promoters have maintained a tradition of independence, with prominent players including Beatbox, former Skandinavian duo Nielsen and Myllerup, CSB Island and ICO Concerts. ICO is a rare indie to operate across the whole of Scandinavia, and it also works southwards into the rest of Europe with tours for international acts. “We are continuing to expand the business not only in the Nordics, but also on the European touring level with acts such


as Prince, Diana Krall and James Taylor,” says managing director Kim Worsøe, who notes that festivals have done particularly well. “Festival-wise it has been a great year,” he says. “We have seen an increased number of bookings to Scandinavian festivals as well as good-selling headline shows such as The Script and Leon Bridges.” Mads Sørensen points to a pretty good year so far at Beatbox on the standalone show front, with successful concerts including Snoop Dogg at Tivoli Gardens; Damien Rice at Koncerthuset; and Flogging Molly and George Ezra at VEGA. The market, he says, is reasonably solid, though there is a lack of numbers at smaller shows, that he finds concerning. “For the majority of shows, it is quite healthy,” says Sørensen. “What’s really suffering are the 400- to 500-capacity shows, which is a shame because it is where the new stuff comes from.” At the root of the problem, he suggests, is a lack of marketing budget, stemming from the withdrawal of tour support and the main acts’ consequent need to, at the very least, break even on shows. “It’s not a good situation,” says Sørensen. “What we need is fewer shows, with lower ticket prices. Copenhagen has a key position in Europe, travel-wise, and there is a lot coming through. Last November, I counted, there were 16 shows I wanted to see in that month – just shows I liked, mine and other people’s. If I was a regular punter, I could never have gone to 16 shows.” Sørensen believes the solution may be more indoor festivals. “Better pulling four or five bands together than

touring business is okay, but it “ isTheveryregional hard to sell tickets for niche genres or upcoming artists outside the main cities. ”

Jakob Brixvold, Dansk Live

IQ Magazine September 2015

Denmark The Musikkens Hus venue in the city of Aalborg opened in March 2014

having one band standing in front of 20 people.” In a different section of the market, CSB Island mixes international stars and family entertainment with a roster of tribute shows. As well as Thriller Live and a new Whitney Houston tribute, the promoter maintains a long-running touring ABBA show, now 14 years old, which draws audiences of 5,000 a night on the northern and eastern European circuit. Also on the schedules are Disney On Ice and some bigname, medium-sized, summertime outdoor shows in the vein of the Elton John concerts that have done well for the promoter in recent years. “It is definitely something we are going to work on in the next few years,” says CSB Island COO Kenneth Svoldgaard. “We have some extremely good locations in Denmark with outdoor venues: by the sea or in a forest. If you have the right artist and the right setting, the 40-plus demographic has money to spend and they want to spend it.” The main narrative in the Danish live business, however, is the gradual incursion of FKP Scorpio. The group maintains a successful office in nearby Sweden, and even before Tinderbox it had made inroads into the Danish market, launching Århus’s NorthSide Festival in 2010 with Nielsen, Myllerup and Sørensen. Since then, the union between the various parties has been further consolidated, with the launch of the controversial Tinderbox and the announcement last September that FKP Scorpio and Nielsen and Myllerup’s Down The Drain Holdings have each taken 25% of Sørensen’s Beatbox Concerts – no relation to Beatbox Booking, remember.

IQ Magazine September 2015



he Tinderbox furore has died down now, but it seems inevitable that the bad feeling will remain for some time. Mads Sørensen has a number of specific bones to pick with the festivals concerned, but ultimately his message is one of bruised defiance. “No one is going to tell me how I’m going to run my business,” he says. “That is for me to figure out, you know? It has given [the boycotting festivals] a lot of negativity from agents and managers, so even though it has been a bit hard, it has had the opposite to the intended reaction for a lot of people.” Tinderbox, intended as a long-term twin to FKP Scorpio’s Swedish property Bråvalla, shared headliners Robbie Williams and Calvin Harris with that festival, but if this latest venture is destined to destabilise Denmark’s existing festival infrastructure, it hasn’t done it yet. Roskilde, Denmark’s biggest festival, sold out its full allocation of 80,000 eight-day tickets, plus 5,000 single-day passes on both Friday and Saturday. The nation’s second biggest, Skanderborg, known as Smukfest, likewise had a record year, although in June it was forced to cancel its Copenhagen offshoot, five weeks before it was due to happen, due to poor ticket sales. For Roskilde’s part, spokesperson Christina Bilde says the Tinderbox issue was never one of unwelcome competition, though she does suggest an increasingly competitive market


Denmark needs to be mindful of rising artist fees. “A new festival coming up – we haven’t criticised that,” she says. “It was that a booking agency and a promoter had both hats on in the same company. And what we said initially was, we didn’t find that appropriate. And actually they split up those two things, which makes sense for us. “But we think competition is a natural thing. We have seen in recent years that the greater number of festivals means artist fees are rising. On the other hand, our musical profile is so different from Tinderbox. And actually we sold out, so it seems like the audience are still interested in festivals like ours.” As far as Tinderbox goes, says Sørensen, “We were a bit down on the ticket sales, but that’s what you expect with a new festival. It will definitely be a great festival.” NorthSide, which, along with Grimfest, rounds off the FKP Scorpio-related Danish portfolio, had alt-J, The Black Keys and Sam Smith at the top of its bill. It too sold out, just before its doors opened, in spite of struggling, as many festivals have, to attract an entirely satisfying collection of talent. “It was a tough year when it came to the line-up, but I think that has been true of large parts of Europe,” says NorthSide booker John Fogde. “What I gather is that a lot of festivals are really interested now in the stuff that goes on outside of the acts. They are looking at sustainability, organic food, the events side of it with art and instalments and whatnot. Because the competition is very hard now, people are aware you have to stand for something, you have to give people more than just the music side of it.” Roskilde, the giant of the Danish festival scene, has done much to evolve this kind of concept over the years, and it continues to restlessly embroider further detail into its eightday event. This year, there was an area of right-on activities built around the Rising stage, including conversation salons with priests and imams; and workshops on everything from creative activism and sustainable development to orgasms. Meanwhile, Paul McCartney, Disclosure, Florence + the Machine and Kendrick Lamar were among the musical attractions. Another of 2015’s shifts at Roskilde was a move to open its stages on Wednesday, rather than Thursday, and bring the music programme to a halt on Saturday rather than Sunday. “We have thought about doing it for a couple of years, because we could tell people were using Sunday for departure, and we wanted to make sure the festival ended with a big party,” says Bilde. She continues, “It was quite successful. For instance, we had Pharrell, and that was possible because we could offer the Wednesday, when he wouldn’t have been available at the weekend. We expect we will benefit more from it when the business discovers it is an option.” Of Denmark’s other prominent festivals, the 30-year-old, not-for-profit Nibe Festival brings a mostly Danish line-up to

 ast November, I counted, there were 16 “ Lshows I wanted to see in that month. If I was a regular punter, I could never have gone to 16 shows.

Mads Sørensen, Beatbox Concerts


northern Denmark’s Jutland Peninsula for crowds of around 15,0000. Jelling Musikfestival, a short distance south, is Denmark’s third biggest festival and takes a slightly more international line, with Texas, The Script and Roxette at the top of the bill, along with local acts Dizzy Mizz Lizzy, Gnags and Medina. Meanwhile, SPOT Festival in Århus cleaves to new music from the Nordic region, while Offspring Festival in Tivoli specialises more generally in up-and-coming names, including, this year, Låpsley, Thomston, Marika Hackman and Son Lux.



openhagen may be a good city for live music, particularly for its size – with a population of 560,000 or so – but it is also home to the usual venue grumbles: not enough of them, too expensive by half, etc. “Copenhagen definitely has a lack of venues – it’s a nightmare,” says Sørensen. “It’s really expensive to rent a venue, expensive to put on shows in general.” It’s true that Denmark, a famously tax-happy nation, hits promoters pretty hard – a 25% VAT and 5.5% PRS charge takes more than 30% off every krone of revenue, so it is no surprise that ticket prices are at Europe’s higher end. “We do have very high ticket prices here, and I think we can’t push it much more before people stop going or they have to start being choosier,” says Jakob Brixvold, executive secretary of Dansk Live, Denmark’s trade organisation for festivals and venues. Of the capital’s club-sized venues, the 1,000-capacity converted cinema Amager Bio and the three-roomed VEGA (a 1,500-cap great hall, 500-cap middle hall and a 250-cap bar) are busy spots for touring artists. The 2,000-cap Falconer Salen, in the Radisson Hotel in Frederiksberg, has been drawing concerts for decades and welcomes The Script, Bob Dylan and Miguel in September and October. Meanwhile, the 1,800-cap DR Koncerthuset is the nation’s international concert venue, for classical shows and those with serious ambitions. The 50,000-capacity Parken Stadium and the Live Nationoperated, 15,000-capacity Copenhagen Arena, which opens next year, bring up the top end, but promoters are united in their hopes for more venues in the 1,500 to 5,000 range. A state-subsidised circuit of 19 regional venues – four of them, including VEGA, in Copenhagen – keeps the Danish touring circuit in good shape. “As the business of live music is growing globally we are getting more and more aware of our status as an independent venue and of our part in the ecosystem of music and live performances,” says VEGA director Steen Jørgensen. “In a highly competitive market we strive to constantly rethink how we approach live music, how we present it on our stages and we are aware of what are tomorrow’s needs from our guests. This fall we debut a brand new concept ‘Vega’s New Crush’ with eight up-and-coming international acts that you will most likely see on next year’s festival line-ups in Denmark.” Brixvold concludes, “I think the regional touring business is okay, but it is very hard to sell tickets for niche genres or upcoming artists outside the main cities. The bigger Danish artists do very well, but those who are a little less well known might not reach more than 20 shows in a tour.”

IQ Magazine September 2015

THE CURATE ESCAPE The word ‘curation’ has catapulted into common use in the festival world of late. But what does it really mean? Marketing gimmick or a role to aspire to? Eamonn Forde opens his dictionary…

When everything from Spotify playlists to the Colombian roasts in your local artisan coffee shop are ‘curated’, the word is in serious danger of losing all meaning. Festivals, arguably, are where this idea of curation was popularised, so how is the festival scene responding to all of this in order to stay both relevant and exciting when the concept itself has been seriously diluted of late? Festivals used to use headline acts as the main draw for the audience and then pull in brand money to subsidise the whole enterprise; these days the acts and brands themselves are positioned as curators or are even running their own events. There is the annual iTunes Festival in London where the world’s biggest music service puts on a month of gigs for free. Then there is Jay Z’s Made in America Festival (now in its fourth year) and Chris Martin signing up to curate the Global Citizen Festival for the next 15 years, both being sold on their names and cultural draw. On top of this are the artistowned events where they headline and curate – like Lovebox, headlined in the early years by Groove Armada; Mumford & Sons’ global series of Stopover Festivals, and Disclosure and Rudimental’s Wild Life Festival. Curation is as much a part of the language of festivals today as ‘VIP toilets’, ‘pop-up venues’ and ‘glamping’. The origins of curation can be traced back to 1993 and the first Meltdown festival in London, which was curated by composer George Benjamin, back when it was a classical event; but in 1995, Elvis Costello curated Meltdown and the event took on a more contemporary music thrust. The next leap in the UK was All Tomorrow’s Parties (ATP), which replaced Belle & Sebastian’s Bowlie Weekender in 1999 at the Camber Sands holiday camp in Sussex. ATP was, however, not supposed to be either curated or an annual event and so its role as a key force in festival curation was in many ways accidental and certainly unintentional. Barry Hogan was Belle & Sebastian’s London promoter at the time of Bowlie. When the band said they only wanted to do it for one year, he took over and, with their blessing, changed the name to All Tomorrow’s Parties. Hogan originally approached Mogwai to headline his first festival but a conversation with them in the development stages changed everything. “The word ‘curator’ was not commonly used at that point,” he says. “I asked Mogwai if they wanted to play and they said they would be interested if they could pick all the bands on


their stage. That’s when the penny dropped and I told them they should be the curators for the whole event.” It was that decision, he feels, that has meant the event continues today as it is able to reinvent itself with a series of different curators. “It was the wisest decision we ever made because it gave us a stamp of quality and approval by having people we respected curating the event.” While Hogan accepts that Meltdown was an influence, he feels ATP represented something different – which is why it has gone on to have an influence on other festivals around the world. With Meltdown, audiences can buy a ticket for one night or multiple nights but with ATP they have to buy a ticket to the entire weekend. “Meltdown was before ATP and they came up with the premise of a curator picking the music,” he says. “The difference between Meltdown and ATP is that Meltdown is a season and ATP is a festival.” As with any new word or idiom that enters common parlance, there is always a dispute over its etymology and meaning as the years pass. For example, Malcolm Haynes is the Silver Hayes programmer and coordinator at Glastonbury but prefers not to call himself a curator in the strictest sense of the word. “I suppose I’d call myself a coordinator and a programmer,” he says. “I suppose ‘curator’ sums that up and combines the two roles together. As a curator you work from an artistic point of view and there is a creative element; and it also shows that you are the coordinator because obviously you have a vision and you work with your team to deliver and create that vision.” Stefan Lehmkuhl, booker at the Melt! Festival in Germany, suggests that the idea of a single curator is unworkable with a festival that runs multiple stages and so he prefers to refer to those he works with making up a team of “sub-curators”. These include media partners like German dance music magazine Groove as well as Modeselektor, the Berlin electro act, all of whom sub-curate stages and bring their expertise and contacts with them. “If you work with a festival that covers so many genres like Melt!, it is close to impossible to really be up to date with everything,” Lehmkuhl argues. “No one person is good enough to book the best possible line-up for all these seven stages. I’d rather have lots of contributors; people that I trust and that I know are experts in their fields.” Rich Moffat, festival programmer at the Falls Festival in

IQ Magazine September 2015


“You need to be careful. Suddenly you’re going to have too much in a different way and it will be equally overwhelming for people. Part of the beauty of curation and having that perspective is to not go crazy with it.” Chris Kaskie, Pitchfork Festival Australia, is critical of the approach of getting in media brands to help with the heavy lifting here. “The idea of having a media partner curate is great if you are not very connected with the music,” he says. “No disrespect to the NME or Pitchfork or whoever would be the media partner, but if I wanted to know who Pitchfork would book I would just go to Pitchfork and read all the reviews of the music rather than ring up Pitchfork and ask them to book my stage. I am guessing that the festivals that do that want to keep a connection with the media.” While some (like Mumford & Sons and Disclosure/ Rudimental) run their own events, the idea of positioning an artist as a curator at a festival can give it a certain cultural cachet and also helps it sell tickets. Even though the Pitchfork Festival is sold around the music site’s name and brand, it is not averse to getting artists involved. “We have done a few things that were partially curated by artists,” says Chris Kaskie, president of Pitchfork Festival. “At our first Paris festival, Bon Iver curated a few bands there. But generally, it is a few of us [here] who sit down and figure this out.” Hogan adds that, by changing the curator each year, ATP can extend its potential footprint and possibly use the named curator to draw in an audience for the first time. This is perhaps illustrated best by the fact that among the artists curating over the years, the festival has also installed film director Jim Jarmusch and Simpsons creator Matt Groening as curators. This year it has handed the reins over to comedian Stewart Lee. “We have a core audience that will attend the majority of ATP festivals,” Hogan explains. “But the thing for us is that we try and get curators to have stuff that represents the music that does things to them. The good thing about working with different curators is that you want to keep it fresh and have different acts on the line-up – otherwise it just becomes repetitive.” It is one thing, however, to pick a curator; it is an entirely other thing for them to do a good job. Ideally they will collaborate closely with the event organisers to ensure they are all pulling in the same direction. Often they will come up with a wish list and the event organisers will try and book as many as they can – with the curator handling most of the artistic vision while the festival owners handle the pragmatics. In other cases, they can be incredibly handson and pull things out of the bag that others would not be able to. Morrissey, for example, was able to persuade the remaining New York Dolls to reform when he curated Meltdown in 2004, and Warren Ellis of The Dirty Three and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds was able to get Nick Cave to unveil their Grinderman side project at ATP in 2007. “People like Deerhunter [2013] and Animal Collective [2011] were very active but then others were quite happy for me to get on and do what I do,” says Hogan. “[Stewart Lee] is one of the most prepared curators I have ever come across. He came to us with a list of bands across different

genres, all the films he wanted to show and the comedians he wanted on. He has taken to it like a duck to water. It has been fantastic. I want to use him as the benchmark [for future curators], to show them what he did and tell them to follow suit.” A truly collaborative process is key to a curator delivering on all their potential, but as this movement in festivals grows, there has been – as with the festival market in general – a steady encroachment of brands. Drinks companies, mobile phone operators and others have sponsored festival stages for a long time, but increasingly they want to be more directly involved, pivoting from naming rights into actual curation. It is something that, on paper, seems a natural evolution but in reality is incredibly difficult to get right. Moffat is much more scathing of the rise of ‘brand as curator’ because, at its worst, it represents an unimaginative and easy win for lazy festivals. “None of my shows have sponsors so there is no naming sponsors on anything,” he asserts. “When I was at Primavera and watching a band play on the Ray-Ban Unplugged stage, it felt a bit odd to me. I have no idea how much money Ray-Ban was paying for that right. It didn’t necessarily impact on my enjoyment of the show, but I am very lucky to not have to deal with those sorts of brand dictating anything about our programme or what our show is.” Others are equally circumspect here. “I never do cooperations just for the purposes of packaging,” says Lehmkuhl. “If I do media partnerships, I expect them to give me really valuable musical input to make it proper cooperation. If I curate a stage with a band, I don’t sell it simply on the band’s name and say they curated it. I would expect that we have calls and meetings to talk about music to make it a common process. With Modeselektor, it is our stage. If I do something without telling them, or if I change the timetable without calling them, they would be mad with me.”

Modeselektor at Melt! Festival. (Photo © Robert Winter)

IQ Magazine September 2015



Pitchfork Festival Chicago 2015. (Photo © Kristina Pedersen)

While he pushes for a division of labour between experts who, collectively, present something compelling and comprehensive, not everyone is convinced that the collective approach works, preferring something more akin to the idea of the auteur in cinema – one person pushing an individual vision that others, under their strict direction, help pull together. “I don’t understand how you would have several people that have separate tastes [curating],” argues Moffat. “It seems a bit odd to me in the modern day because everyone knows about every band these days. It is all online and very accessible. I would have no idea how to split up a show that I work to have one person book one stage and another person book another.” Within all of this, of course, has to be a consideration of the audience’s expectations when presented with a curatorled event. A name curator will help market the event and sell tickets, but there is an underpinning message being sent out to the audience about what kind of event they are buying into. Within this, certain goals will have to be met – or, more appositely, exceeded. How do organisers account for this audience expectation when planning and pulling together a curated festival? “People definitely look at what we do as being about the mindset going into what the festival is all about,” proposes Kaskie. “We don’t approach it based on headliners; we approach it based on the holistic quality of the brand. People definitely come to our festivals knowing that, as a brand, Pitchfork is going to bring them things they know about; but also, more excitingly, things they can check out that they have never heard of.”

Lehmkuhl feels there is a risk in trying to second-guess the audience that can mean events lose both focus and drive. They need to have more faith in their decisions. “I am not sure if there is huge expectation from the audience,” he claims. “It depends on how famous the artist who is curating is and how curious the audience is about what that person might bring.” In a crowded festival market, a good curator can give an event a powerful USP at a time when standing out is essential to their survival. The risk here, however, is that if everyone piles in and offers curation, it loses its specialness. Curation, by its very definition, is about a bespoke and quality offering; but if everyone is proffering “bespoke and quality” events, the resonance of the words start to become dulled. Moffat is not so worried about this dilution. Not yet, anyway. “It is possibly a reaction to the fact that there has been an explosion in festivals,” he says of the rise and rise of curation. “If it swings back to all the shows being curated to differentiate themselves from each other, then that’s good as that’s what the market needs. It needs more things that people identify with in a cultural sense. We need a really strong and diverse market where all those different shows are as differentiated from each other as possible.” Kaskie is somewhat more cautious. “You need to be careful,” he says of the curation gold rush we are currently experiencing. “Suddenly you’re going to have too much in a different way and it will be equally overwhelming for people. Part of the beauty of curation and having that perspective is to not go crazy with it.” Hogan, however, is adamant that the philosophy of curation has become dangerously diluted in recent years and that it is being used as a diversion tactic by some events to draw attention away from the fact that, creatively, they are running on empty. “Festival No. 6 has Dutch Uncles curating a stage this year,” he says. “To me that feels a bit like it is abusing the word ‘curate’. A band like Dutch Uncles don’t deserve to be curating a stage at a festival. They really don’t. You need somebody that has a body of work behind them.” Hogan feels that the biggest problem for curation is that, like the terms ‘artisan’ and ‘authentic’, to apply it to absolutely everything negates its inherent appeal and represents nothing more than a race to the bottom that will damage everyone. “Calling a booker – someone who books band year in and year out – a curator,” he says, “is a bit like calling a McDonald’s a meal.”

Contributors (left to right): Chris Kaskie (Pitchfork), Barry Hogan (All Tomorrow’s Parties), Malcolm Haynes (Glastonbury Festival), Richard Moffatt (Falls Festival), Stefan Lehmkuhl (Melt! Festival)


IQ Magazine September 2015

Curation “As a curator you work from an artistic point of view and there is a creative element; and it also shows that you are the coordinator because obviously you have a vision and you work with your team to deliver and create that vision.” Malcolm Haynes, Glastonbury Festival

Glastonbury Festival © Silver Hayes

IQ Magazine September 2015


Like so many of his peers, GEOFF ELLIS admits that he fell into promoting live music. Now celebrating his 30th year since that fateful fall, he is perfecting his craft and tells GORDON MASSON that he has never learned more than in the last 12 months, when all of his experience was put to the test.


eoff Ellis will long remember his 30th year in the music business. As CEO of promoters DF Concerts & Events, Geoff had to deal with an enforced relocation for Scotland’s biggest music festival, T in the Park, which, thanks to local authority red tape, effectively gave DF staff and the event’s contractors just two months to prepare its new home on the grounds of Strathallan Castle. However, while there may have been doubts about the event receiving the appropriate permissions to proceed, DF’s staff trusted the belief of their leader – a man renowned for a strategic vision that prompts well-thought-out plans to deal with potential problems long before they arise. Operations manager (and wife) Fiona Ellis comments, “The DF team really needed direction this year, but they always get that from Geoff. It’s down to him having a very clear vision of what he wants and an unwavering belief that his team can deliver that vision.” That team includes senior management Colin Rodger, Dave McGeachan and Dave Corbet. “Geoff is always ahead of the game,” says Rodger. “His ability to identify problems and come up with solutions borders on the genius at times.” Corbet agrees: “His real forte is that he thinks quite deeply about things and he has a really strategic mind. He can somehow see the unexpected before it even happens.” Despite those qualities, Geoff readily confesses that the complications of moving T in the Park definitely took their

toll. “2015 has been the toughest year in my career. Nobody else has been forced to move an event of that scale, ever,” he admits. “We didn’t know about the planning application problems until very late in the process, so trying to sell tickets at the same time was a nightmare.” Another fly in the ointment came in the form of rare ospreys who chose Strathallan as their summer nesting spot, prompting all sorts of protests from wildlife organisations and nature lovers. “We had more ‘ologists’ at T in the Park this year than we had artists,” Geoff notes. “We had species protection plans at Strathallan for animals that don’t even exist there – just in case they decided to move in.” With the media questioning the viability of T in the Park 2015, it’s hardly a surprise that many people did not purchase tickets in advance and the 85,000-capacity event failed to sell out for the first time in many years. “From February through to May, people didn’t know if it was happening, so we sold a hell of a lot of tickets in June,” Geoff explains. Nevertheless, he is confident that the long-term future of T in the Park has now been secured and although 2015 hit DF financially, its CEO is determined to stick to the company policy of keeping the festival as affordable as possible. “If you consider that we’re going to have a price freeze for 2016, we haven’t put ticket prices up for four years. That’s important because half of our customers use a deposit scheme to buy their tickets.”

Geoff at Strathallan Castle, the new home of T in the Park

IQ Magazine September 2015


Geoff picks up a Tartan Clef Award on behalf of DF Concerts

Geoff Ellis

Building Blocks


orn in Ashton-under-Lyne, near Manchester, England, in 1964, Geoff Ellis was brought up in nearby Romiley. His parents, both from the north east of England, met in Scotland during the war, where his father was serving in the Royal Engineers, while his mother worked in the military stores. The youngest of four children, Geoff’s only brother died whilst travelling in Australia. “He was only 24 and mum never really got over it,” Geoff recalls. “About the same time, dad left in pretty acrimonious circumstances.” Unsure about what he wanted to do career-wise, Geoff secretly contacted his father and was set to follow him into stone masonry. “We had an agreement to meet so I could start working, but he never turned up. Years later I found out that my mum had intervened,” he tells IQ. Despite this, Geoff enrolled at Stockport College to do a diploma in building. “I had a great time and played lots of football, the highlight of which was saving a penalty from Mickey Power who was in the Stockport County first team,” he recalls, hinting at his lifelong passion for football. Having completed his diploma, he began studying for a degree in


building at Lanchester Polytechnic, Coventry. “I hated it,” he says. “I definitely wasn’t meant to be a builder and Coventry didn’t grab me either – it was no hotbed for music. So I lasted one term and started applying for arts-based degrees.” An offer to study humanities at Middlesex Poly lured Geoff south, where a chance conversation with a football teammate led to him working on the door at the students’ union. “That’s where it all started,” he recalls. “Soon I was doing all the union’s posters around campus. Then I started writing gig reviews for the university newspaper.” In 1986, the union’s entertainments manager left and recommended Geoff as his temporary replacement. He liked the gig so much that he applied for the job. One of Geoff’s highlights of his time at university was an early gig by The Stone Roses. “I think it was their first London gig – it was at the refectory on the All Saints Campus.” That’s a debate that continues to this day with fellow DF promoter Dave Corbet disputing the claim. “I had them on the Friday and he had them on the Saturday, I think,” says Corbet. “I still have the poster on my wall – it was £1.50 to get in.” Limitations on what he could actually do in the entertainment manager’s role eventually persuaded Geoff to look for pastures new. “Everything we did was restricted to the student population and I had venues across seven sites to take care of,” he says. “I remember having The Yardbirds on a Tuesday night and only about 50 people turned up.” But his four years at Middlesex Poly had been a success and got him noticed in the wider industry. “I turned a loss-making entertainment department into a profitable venture. If I’m honest, it’s probably because we didn’t do a lot of gigs,” he laughs. Corbet recalls meeting Ellis when he applied for his job. “I went along to have a chat with him before he left, but it was futile, because in the end I didn’t get the job,” says Corbet. He wasn’t alone. “I applied for the job but I didn’t get it,” says Emma Banks at CAA. “Little did I know that the person I would have replaced was Geoff Ellis, or that at the time, we had both promoted The Stone Roses. In the 25 years since that failed job interview, I have worked on numerous shows with Geoff and seen him rise up the ranks to his current position running Scotland’s biggest promoting company.”

Marquee Signing


aving left university, Geoff and fellow promoter, Rob Ballantine, initially planned to launch a lifestyle students’ magazine. But fate intervened when Ben Winchester at Miracle Artists, asked him to meet boss, Steve Parker. “Miracle had just taken on the booking contract for The Marquee Club, so I became booker for The Marquee,” says Geoff. “But the venue refused to do any promotion on the acts, which was always very frustrating. They also never paid guarantees – only percentages.” Despite such shackles, the job introduced Geoff to lots of key people – many of whom have become long-term business contacts in the 25 years since. “I worked a lot of rock acts that I hadn’t done before and I got to know agents like John Jackson, Paul Bolton and Jeff Craft really well.” Nonetheless, after a year at The Marquee he started looking for something with more prospects. “I repped some shows for SJM and went on tour with bands like The Mock Turtles, The Charlatans and The Farm, just to keep my hand in.”

IQ Magazine September 2015

Geoff Ellis

Geoff with George Kyle on the T in the Park festival main stage

Scottish Calling


job advert in Music Week changed Geoff’s life. “It was to run a venue in Glasgow, and it turned out to be King Tut’s. Stuart Clumpas had his two Labradors with him and I think because I got on so well with the dogs, that’s what got me the job.” Such was the name that Stuart and Judith Clumpas had already made for the venue that Geoff believes he’s been playing catch up ever since. “I’ve been involved with King Tut’s for 23 of its 25 years, but I still think of myself as the new boy because of the reputation they had built in its first couple of years,” he comments. “I initially worked out of the production office in King Tut’s with Graham Cochrane, who was a chain smoker: when people tell me that they need a bigger production office, I tell them that story.” Working in that grass-roots environment taught Geoff some valuable lessons. “Stuart had an ethos of looking after the talent and looking after the audience and that was the simple key to making King Tut’s such an internationally recognised club. We’ve carried that on throughout everything DF does.” In addition to employing him, Tut’s has played a major role in the Ellis family, as Geoff met wife Fiona there. “I started at DF in 1994, working in King Tut’s. Even back then, Geoff was always around helping out in the King Tut’s kitchen and putting food on the table for bands,” recalls Fiona. Now an integral part of DF, in 2002 Fiona accepted an opportunity to move away from the venue and into the company HQ alongside Geoff, who she had recently started dating. “I became more of an operations manager, heading up the company’s support services such as HR, IT, customer service and office admin. And I still get to look after Tut’s.” That reorganisation was part of the ramifications of Stuart Clumpas selling his stake in DF and relocating to New Zealand for health reasons, which ultimately led to Geoff’s appointment as chief exec.

‘T’ Time


n 1993, a year after arriving in Glasgow, Geoff became involved in talks about a major new event, as DF Concerts sought to expand its remit. “We had meetings with Tennent’s (brewery) and we looked at a bunch of potential sites…but we decided to launch T in the Park festival in Strathclyde Park,” Geoff says. George Kyle, Tennent’s head of sponsorship recalls, “I was in the finance department when I first joined Tennent’s but I remember there were all these behind-closed-doors meetings and whispers about something big. We just didn’t realise how big it would become.” Geoff continues, “Agents loved the idea because at that time there were only really Reading and Leeds festivals. We were working with agents from our generation who we knew already and we put together a line-up with three or four acts who we knew would sell tickets, rather than one big headliner.” Year one didn’t go entirely smoothly, however. “Cypress Hill were held up at customs,” says Geoff. “I asked our compere, Mark Lamarr, to announce that the band were running late. He insisted on putting on a hard hat because he thought the Glasgow crowd would throw stuff at him. But

IQ Magazine September 2015

in the end it was a great performance as Cypress Hill played Killing in the Name onstage with Rage Against The Machine. It was just one of those great festival moments.” Describing DF’s relationship with Tennent’s as a “perfect match”, Geoff reveals the depth of the bonds between the partners. “For the first festival we set a capacity of 25,000. We had 18,000 on day one and 17,000 on day two. We thought we were fucked because of the money we lost. But Tennent’s helped us out and in year two we made a surplus and by the third year we had a sold-out festival and made a good profit.” That sold-out status also proved a pivotal moment in the festival’s development. “We thought it would be easier to move to a bigger site if we sold out, but the importance of moving north, to Balado Airfield, was that T in the Park became a Scottish festival rather than just a Glasgow event.” One of the most satisfying aspects Geoff gets from the festival is watching bands climb up the bill. “We’ve seen many acts starting on the T-break or smaller stages and working their way up to headliners: Travis, Biffy Clyro, Snow Patrol, Coldplay, Kasabian, Kings of Leon – the list goes on. It’s also a huge privilege to work with acts that you become a huge fan of too such as Radiohead, Massive Attack, The Stone Roses, Manics, Teenage Fanclub, Prodigy, Chemical Brothers, Daft Punk, etc.” From Tennent’s point of view, Kyle notes, “The great thing for us is Geoff’s integrity and decency – he calls it straight and he calls it accurately and I have huge regard for him, as he completely understands our requirements.”


Geoff with rival promoter Donald MacLeod at the 2014 Scottish Music Awards

Geoff Ellis

Highs and Lows


f course, not every project has been as successful as T in the Park and Geoff admits that one of his biggest regrets is the failure of Connect – a festival that used the spectacular setting of Inveraray Castle as a backdrop. “We would have sold the same number of tickets if we’d removed the top level of headliners from the Connect bill,” laments Geoff. “It wasn’t in the school holidays, which was a bit of an issue for parents. And it also coincided with the start of the recession.” Nonetheless, some positives did come out of the exercise. “We changed the concept of festival food with Connect,” he states. “We used lots of local producers and a whole host of those businesses are now at lots of UK festivals.” He adds, “I loved Connect. Disney couldn’t make a prettier castle than Inveraray and in terms of location, I’ve never seen anything better. So the Connect concept is always on the back burner.” Memories of Inveraray prompt a different response from DF’s Colin Rodger. “Geoff’s sense of direction is crap. When we were launching Connect, Geoff set off from the office and programmed Inveraray into the satnav. After about an hour of driving, he called me to ask what the directions were from Kincardine – completely in the opposite direction. It turns out that he’d programmed the sat nav to take him via Kinross.” Wife Fiona adds, “I drive in the car with Geoff and he forgets that. He’s the worst passenger you can have because he likes to give directions without having a clue about where he’s going. The kids have figured out to follow me, rather than Geoff.”


It’s not just Connect that has endured difficulties, as DF’s flagship event hasn’t been immune from issues. “Back in 1997, the TOCTA ticketing agency collapsed and we probably lost about 40% of our ticketing revenue. But we got through it and Tennent’s gave us an interest-free loan to cope. Even some of the bands cut their fees to help out – the likes of Ocean Colour Scene and Björn Again, which was an amazing gesture.” Although fate meant that he could never work with his favourite band, Joy Division, Geoff says promoting some of his teenage heroes has been a dream, citing New Order, Morrissey, Johnny Marr, Kraftwerk, Paul Weller, Joe Strummer, Nile Rodgers and the Sex Pistols. As for highlights, Geoff immediately responds, “The Who in 2010. The first record I ever bought was My Generation. So Pete Townsend telling the T in the Park audience it was better than Woodstock was just amazing.” He cites Beyoncé at T in the Park as another high. “It was a bit of a risk but it really worked and she was a dream to work with; really professional with a great team around her.” Under Geoff’s guidance DF Concerts has also taken on non-music events where staff get to use their expertise. “The Pope was a bit different,” says Geoff of the 2010 papal visit to Glasgow. “It was a bit like dealing with a big outdoor gig – we had to liaise with a whole bunch of people – the council, government, the Catholic Church. And we had the Archbishop wanting one thing, the Vatican priest demanding something else…” Although such events involve an obvious level of gravitas, they aren’t without humour. “One of the priests asked Susan Boyle if she wanted to meet the Pope and she passed out.

IQ Magazine September 2015

Geoff Ellis

Joe and Evie with parents Geoff and Fiona on their wedding day in 2010

Friends and Mentors


Celebrating T’s 20th birthday with Sharleen Spiteri

eoff counts rival promoters Paul Cardow (PCL), Mark Mackie (Regular Music) and Donald MacLeod (Triple G Music) among his circle of friends and sometimes co-promotes with them. Indeed, he enjoys a good relationship with many people in the business. “People like Steve Strange, Charlie Myatt, David Levy – I can go out for drinks with them and never talk about the business at all. The same goes for the likes of Emma Banks, Mike Greek and Angus Baskerville – actually the names are too many to mention.” He continues, “Most of my close friends have nothing to do with the music industry. Rob Ballantine is the exception. But even some of the artists I work with have become friends. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve bumped into Paolo Nutini and had a few drinks with him.” When it comes to confidants and mentors, he comments, “I talk to Denis Desmond and Simon Moran on a daily basis because of T in the Park, as well as lots of tours. By and large, whatever SJM does in England, DF Concerts usually does in Scotland. So I work closely with Rob Ballantine because he does all SJM’s logistics for England and I do the same in Scotland. Similarly, Bob Angus does Robbie Williams in England while we do him in Scotland.” He maintains a good friendship with Stuart and Judith Clumpas – “They came back from New Zealand to T in the Park this year to check out the new festival site, which was a really nice thing to do,” reports Geoff. “In terms of mentors, I’ve learned a lot from Denis Desmond. He’s always been my big boss and he’s been involved with T in the Park since the very first year. The good thing is, Simon, Denis and I constantly challenge each other.” For his part, Moran comments, “Rob Ballantine introduced me to Geoff and I’ve known him for about 24 years when he did some repping for us. I’ve been a shareholder in T in he Park and DF since Stuart left and Geoff has done a fantastic job running the ship - a lot of DF’s success is down to him.” Geoff adds, “Many years ago I wrote to several promoters looking for work and Barrie Marshall was the only one who I got a reply from. After running a business for a long time, I now appreciate how hard that is to find the time or inclination to reply to young kids looking for a break. I wish I could say that I too reply to every request I get for a job – regrettably I don’t – however Barrie’s courteous and encouraging reply often comes into my head when I don’t! So there are always standards that you can aspire too.”

It was a funny moment as the priest quipped that he didn’t usually have women fainting in his arms.” The camaraderie among Scotland’s top promoters is remarkable, but Geoff observes, “We all try to murder each other in business, but there’s a mutual respect because we’re more in competition with promoters from other territories rather than each other. That’s why the Hydro has been a game-changer for all of us – we can do a lot more concerts and multiple nights. Much like people will go to The O2 arena in London, people here are saying ‘let’s go to the Hydro for a night out’ before they even check who is playing at the arena.”


Citizen Ellis


ny biographical profile on Geoff Ellis would be wholly incomplete without emphasising his fervent support of Manchester City Football Club. As a lifelong fan, Geoff has been revelling in the team’s meteoric rise in European football, of late, and he follows the team throughout Europe, home and away, whenever he can. That love of football prompts more terrifying memories for Tennent’s Kyle, who discovered a darker side to his festival promoter partner. “Geoff kindly took me to see City playing Arsenal in a league cup tie a few years back,” Kyle tells IQ. “I’m the world’s worst flier, but I didn’t realise how evil a

IQ Magazine September 2015

Geoff and the UK team at the ILMC football tournament

Geoff Ellis

IQ Magazine September 2015

to take fields out of crop to change to grassland, so they’ve invested heavily in the future too. And the money from T in the Park is enabling them to refurbish a lot of the buildings on the estate. We have a year to plan the next festival, rather than eight weeks, so I’m excited about the prospects for T in the Park.” SJM’s Moran states, “Geoff lives and breathes T and that is very evident to everyone he comes into contact with. His hard work and enthusiasm just hasn’t diminished and he’s an inspirational leader to his team.” So what about ambitions for the future? “I definitely want to develop more festivals,” says Geoff. “Keeping T in the Park going is a huge ongoing challenge. To have T still existing in ten years’ time is our number one challenge: if we don’t work at it, then it won’t survive.”

Celebrating ten years of T in the Park with the Appleton sisters

companion Geoff would be,” Kyle continues. “We were in this flying coffin on a really stormy night and the more anxious I got, the funnier he found it. I’ve deliberately avoided flying with him ever since – I take the train whenever I can.” Geoff is also captain of the UK team at ILMC’s annual football tournament. “He’s the only man ever to receive a red card for serious foul play,” reports Dougie Souness of Glasgow-based music company No Half Measures. “We were playing Australia, I think, at Wembley and Geoff just halved their winger in two. In saying that, he’s a good player – he scored our first goal this year.” Away from music and football, Geoff likes to spend as much of his time as possible with Fiona and their children Joe (11) and Evie (12). “They’re privileged because they get to go to a lot of gigs and they sometimes get to meet the artists,” Geoff says. He continues, “The Manics played the SECC the night that Joe was born and I missed most of the gig. But it was great to introduce Joe to the band a few years later. He had a great conversation with Nicky Wire, which ended with Nicky saying that he had to go and put his dress on. The look on Joe’s face was priceless and the band left me having to explain things to Joe.” After 30 years, Geoff’s continuing passion for music is evident. “I still love the experience of going to a gig and I enjoy going to see acts that I don’t promote as well,” he says. “Mark Mackie arranged for Burt Bacharach to sing Happy Birthday on the piano to my wife Fiona when we went to see him. That sort of sums up the relationship I have with my rival promoters in Scotland.” And what of Glasgow’s infamous dislike of anything English? “I’ve never encountered it,” says Geoff. “Any hostility I’ve ever experienced has had nothing to do with where I come from. If a Glasgow stage crew accepts you, then you know you’re doing ok.” Having survived his annus horriblus, Geoff is relishing having the time to develop T in the Park in its new home. “I never worried that this year would not happen, but a lot of people were. But not one agent or manager called to ask if the festival wasn’t happening. That trust is massively important and something I’m incredibly grateful for,” he says. “Strathallan’s owners are in it for the long haul. They had


Testimonials Geoff Ellis, along with Dave McGeachan and DF Concerts, has been instrumental in the career of Biffy Clyro, and we cannot thank him enough for all his support over the years. Congratulations on this milestone and here’s to many, many more. Dee Bahl – manager of Biffy Clyro Geoff is the promoters’ promoter. His success is crafted on years of experience at the coalface, which is where it really matters. From university, to clubs, arenas and festivals – Geoff knows Scotland and Scotland knows Geoff. Always looking for the next opportunity and never really showing his cards or breaking out in a sweat! Yes, that’s our Geoff. To be sure, he even looked in control seeing his beloved Man City two goals down at Anfield. Nothing a hot Bovril bevvy couldn’t put right. John Langford – SEC Ltd We love working with Geoff and the team at DF, who always deliver and go that one step further to look after everyone playing at their concerts and venues. Just last weekend we had a sold-out, 35,000-capacity headline show with Paolo Nutini in Glasgow. It was a brilliant day and one that Paolo described as the best day of his life. And thanks for that should be given to Geoff and his team who have been an absolutely critical part of developing Paolo’s live career, together with a countless number of other artists from the 13 roster. We look forward to many more years of concerts and festivals together! Angus Baskerville & Charlie Myatt – 13 Artists Most of the things that I remember about Geoff relate to his choice of good-looking but nutty girlfriends. Fortunately, with Fiona came a dose of sanity, but also kind of broke the rule of ‘don’t F with the staff’. That having been said, Judith and I did set-up the perhaps a case of the pot calling the kettle black. Geoff and Fiona do make a top team, so maybe top family teams are what make DFC successful and a great bunch to work with. Stuart Clumpas - Vector Arena, New Zealand It’s good to talk to Geoff, as we promote in the same market and have the same problems with venues, fly posting, noise at concerts. But putting our heads together, we can sometimes come up with solutions and we’ve often colluded to get the best outcome. We’ve co-promoted the likes of Red Hot Chili Peppers and Bryan Ferry in the past, so it’s great to congratulate him on 30 years. I’m at 32 years though, so you’re not going to catch me Geoff! Mark Mackie – Regular Music I’ve known Geoff since we worked together at Middlesex Polytechnic in the entertainment department. All these years later, he is still basically the same person, understated, friendly and very efficient, as are his whole team. We have pulled off a few very special moments together over the past three decades, most enjoyable of which lately has been with the progression of Calvin Harris’s career in Scotland. David Levy – William Morris Endeavor Entertainment

IQ Magazine September 2015

Geoff Ellis

When Stuart Clumpas left Scotland, maybe some wondered how Geoff would get on – I think it’s safe to say that DF could not have been in safer hands and is stronger than ever. Emma Banks – CAA Geoff, you do realise that a tribute makes you officially over the hill? Lots of love from all of us at Wembley Stadium. Jim Frayling – Wembley Stadium Geoff, congratulations on another milestone. Thanks for the nudge you gave us to create such a unique venue in Edinburgh all those years ago – your continued support is much appreciated. Our best wishes for the future. Paul Demarco – Edinburgh Corn Exchange A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away… Many people say Geoff Ellis is a man of few words. I strongly disagree! He is a man of many words, but like Jedi master Yoda, they are, in the main, mostly unintelligible! I first met Geoff back in the days when he was a fresh faced and eager student under the tutelage of the Dark Lord of the Sith, Darth Clumpas. The fact that he made it through those very turbulent times of empire building and droid assimilation and then made DF Concerts such a formidable and respected power in the world of live music speaks volumes for the man and strongly suggests that the good side of the force was always with him. Once a rival, now a friend, Geoff is someone who I trust and whose counsel I will seek. We have shared many adventures and the occasional loss over the years. None, of which I’m happy to say, has forced him to bring his light sabre out. So all the very best, Geoff. Here’s to you mate and I hope the next 300 years are just as exciting and successful! As Yoda might say: be with you, may the force! Donald MacLeod – Triple G Music Growing up in Scotland with an aspiration of working in the music industry, you very quickly learn who Geoff Ellis is. Not only is he CEO for the biggest promoter in the country, but he also runs our largest festival. I first met him over ten years ago and have since dealt with him in various capacities – whether it’s professional or leisure, it’s always a pleasure. Colin Keenan – ATC Live Geoff is a consummate professional and it has been great doing business with him over the last 25 years, and along with his fellow Mancunian Noel Gallagher, is always good for a quote when you need one. It must be something in their genes!! Mike Greek – CAA We have had the pleasure of working with Geoff, here at Hampden, on some of our biggest and most spectacular shows throughout the last 15 years. Geoff’s passion for music and knowledge of the business know no bounds. His success over the years is built on long hours of commitment to ensure the best possible delivery of each event and a great fan experience. Everyone at Hampden looks forward to working with Geoff and his team for many years to come. Peter Dallas – Hampden Park


Members’ Noticeboard

Participants in the Central and Eastern European Talent Exchange Programme (CEETEP) gathered at EXIT festival in Serbia for the scheme’s final workshop sessions. European Union funding for CEETEP has now ended, but a number of festival organisers are looking at ways to continue the initiative on a more informal basis.

It’s an image that some of us have predicted for years, but Carl A.H. Martin hasn’t been arrested for strangling an arena architect. Fortunately, his time behind bars at Boomtown Fair was fleeting, but thanks to Plaster’s Graham Brown, the pictorial evidence of his incarceration was captured for all to see.

CAA agent Summer Marshall married George Sharpe (international digital marketing manager at Apple) on 25 July at a ceremony in Kew Gardens, London.

Proud parents, Danielle Russell (partnership development manager, music and new events, at Wembley Stadiu m), and husband Liam, in their first family photo with daughter Alexia, who was born on 11 August.

Ville Leppanen, CEO of London-based artist management and record producers, The Animal Farm, rep resented Finland at the European Squash Masters tournament in Malmö, Sweden, in August and did his country proud by win ning his first two matches, including defeating a worldranked Italian competitor .

Delighted by the venue’s inclusion in the new city of Gdańsk version of Monopoly, senior management of the PGE Arena took to the pitch for an impromptu game. From left to right, marketing manager Dawid Szpinek, events director Karolin a Żurawska, president/CEO Tomasz Kowalski and business development director Kamil Szymański.

Slovakia’s Bažant Pohoda Festival increased its usual number of overseas visitors in July, thanks to the likes of Greg Parmley (ILMC); ITB’s Olivia Sime, Amber McKenzie and Jessica Graham; Gordon Masson (IQ); Jamie Wade from X-ray Touring; and Jeremy Hulsh of Oleh! Records.

If you, or any of your ILMC colleagues, have any notices or updates to include on the noticeboard, please contact the club secretary, Gordon Masson, via


IQ Magazine September 2015

Your Shout

“What is your best/worst business confession?” TOP SHOUT This is one of my few remaining confessions: sometime in the late 1960s I was with a group of friends and we smoked the ‘banana skin’ off the first Velvet Underground album. It was quite good, I have to say. Turned out to be a bit expensive though! Ed Grossman, Brackman Chopra LLP

In 1989, my company Paperclip Agency booked a European double-bill tour for two bands from Seattle who were signed to SubPop: Nirvana and Tad. It was my brother Ruud who booked this particular tour. I joined Ruud when he attended the show in Apeldoorn, The Netherlands. I liked Tad a lot, but Nirvana ... mmm... I really wasn’t too impressed (this was before Nevermind). Credit to Ruud: when during the Nirvana set I shared my thoughts with him, he said ‘Mark my words, they’ll be huge.’ Rob Berends, Paperclip Agency

My grandfather ran a record shop in Knightsbridge in the 60s, which only sold classical music. In 1964 (aged 9), I saved up my pocket money and asked him to get me a copy of A Hard Day’s Night. He said ‘I’m not having that noise in my shop,’ and told me The Beatles would never last like the great composers. He finally relented after a lot of tears and it was the only pop record he ever sold. Hardly surprising that his shop went out of business in 1966. I often wonder where I might be now if he’d moved with the times. Jon (J.C.) Corbishley, ILMC

We took on the first solo concert tour of Dutch artist, Marco Borsato. We did some 20 shows all over the country and ambitiously we decided that we would end the tour with one show at the Ahoy Rotterdam. Between announcing the tour and the actual dates, Marco broke so big that we eventually ended up doing ten sold-out Ahoy’s! Leon Ramakers, Mojo Concerts

When I was at Chrysalis Agency I was asked to book a few club dates for a very new group which we had taken on called Roxy Music. (I wasn’t allowed to book universities: John Jackson and Martin Hopewell did that! I concentrated on the clubs. How things have changed!) EG Management weren’t worried about the money – not that there was much about then – they wanted the exposure as the first album was due to be released. So I called David Stopps and booked them in for a £10 support gig. Then it all went crazy for the band – instantaneous flavour of the month. Everyone wanted to book them, so when I next called David, before I said anything, he said, ‘OK, stick a naught on it!’ So the fee went from £10 to £100 – a very respectable amount for club gigs then. I’ve never since upped a fee, as an agent or promoter (thank God!) by a factor of ten. As I remember, the group went on to do quite well… Allan McGowan, ILMC

As talent buyers, we often book bands that are friends or that have worked together at some point and hope that they might visit each other’s live set during our festival. And this time it worked! The day started like a train wreck for MGMT as they had several transportation issues and finally showed up just in time to hit the stage for their own set, after a sleepless night… But when I realised that they did not play Kids on their own set, I started to think that the day might end better than it started for all of us. And it sure did when they played Kids all together at the Weezer encore. Louis Bellavance, Le Festival d’été de Québec

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IQ Magazine September 2015


IQ Magazine Issue 61 September 2015