LIVE MUSIC INTELLIGENCE
HOT ON THE HEELS OF 78, THE WAILING DANCE OF THE CARDIAC RATE ISSUE 78
Australia/New Zealand Market Report Twenty Years of Triple A Touring Exhibitions in Review Staging & Steel 2018â€™s Festival Recruits
Contents IQ Magazine Issue 78
Cover photo: Amyl & The Sniffers at the Beach House during The Great Escape © Victor Frankowski
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 New Signings and Rising Stars A round-up of the latest acts that have been added to the rosters of international agents 14 Techno Files Revealing the hottest new technology in live entertainment
Features 20 New Festivals IQ profiles a magnificent seven new events making their debut this year
24 Touring Exhibitions Jon Chapple examines some of the latest success stories in the touring expo sector 32 Amazing Artistic Achievements Adam Woods chronicles the 20-year history of Triple A Entertainment 42 Australia & New Zealand Market Report Lars Brandle performs a health check on live music down under 54 Stage Directions Suppliers around the world tell Richard Smirke about the pressures of providing the stages for concerts and festivals
Comments and Columns 16 Red Tape and Fierce Competition Volker May highlights the challenging environment for Germany’s promoters 17 Why the Live Industry is Missing Out Marcus Russel questions whether a reluctance to embrace technology is hindering the live business 18 Think Differently and Think The Same Jim King explains the thinking behind the creation and launch of All Points East festival 19 It’s a Plaid, Plaid World Nathalie Cox outlines the growth of the country music genre in the UK 60 Members’ Noticeboard ILMC members’ photos
62 Dear Auntie Alex Alex Hardee tackles ILMC members’ most vexing problems
IQ Magazine July 2018
Issue 78 LIVE MUSIC INTELLIGENCE
THE ILMC JOURNAL, July 2018
95 in the shade Gordon Masson slathers on another layer of SPF50 as summer 2018 looks set to break records.
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ILMC and Suspicious Marketing
WITH THE BENEVOLENT weather gods having blessed Europe, so-far, with one of the hottest summers on record, and the UK’s Met Office (at press time) predicting a further six weeks of the glorious yellow stuff and soaring temperatures to match, it’s somewhat ironic (well, in an Alanis Morissette kinda way) that this is the year Michael Eavis chose not to host Glastonbury Festival. But for those festivals that are going ahead, the weather could scarcely be better, with threats of mud, storms, rain and flooding, and the associated headaches that they bring, the farthest things from the minds of promoters and production folk. The ground might not be saturated but the market is, however… so we have taken the opportunity to identify some of the plucky promoters who have chosen this year to launch a new event in what is already a crowded festival diary, and to find out about some of the unique experiences that are enticing people through festival gates across the globe – from Albania to Korea (see page 20). And whilst we’re talking hotter than Hades in this issue, our man down under, Lars Brandle, provides us with a health check on the live
IQ Magazine July 2018
music business in Australia and New Zealand (page 42) where home-grown talent is enjoying a strong resurgence (evidenced by the acts profiled in the New Signings section on page 12). Adam Woods, meanwhile, checks in with the team behind Triple A Entertainment as the popular UK promoter celebrates its 20th anniversary (page 32), whilst Richard Smirke talks to some of the world’s biggest staging companies (page 54) to learn about the pressures that the ever-growing concert and festival markets are putting on the designers, manufacturers and crews that provide staging for our favourite acts’ performances. And, while the summer season prompts most artists to head outdoors, Jon Chapple learns about the scores of touring exhibitions that are filling indoor venues around the world (page 24) and the state-of-the-art technology they are using to entice members of the public to visit their interactive edutainment productions. But it’s not all sunshine and light in this edition of IQ. While many of us are blessed with thriving careers and happy homes, spare a thought for those less fortunate. Agony Auntie Alex Hardee almost spares that thought as she gives those in need the benefit of her (other) worldy wisdom on page 62.
News Editor Jon Chapple
Associate Editor Allan McGowan
Marketing & Advertising Director
Ben Delger & Imogen Battersby
Lars Brandle, Nathalie Cox, Alex Hardee, Jim King, Volker May, Marcus Russel, Richard Smirke, Manfred Tari, Adam Woods
Gordon Masson, firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: +44 (0)20 3743 0303
Terry McNally, email@example.com Tel: +44 (0)20 3743 0304
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In Tweets... MAY TheVibe Ltd, the UK ticket resale platform formerly trading as Vibe Tickets, is placed into administration, with founder Luke Massie buying the company from administrators and re-launching as Vibe Group Holdings Ltd (VGHL). After a decade at CAA UK, agent Jake Leighton-Pope departs to launch a new artist management company. His first artist is London-based electronic act Anna Straker. Club ticketer Wantickets agrees to settle its long-running legal dispute with Eventbrite, with both parties agreeing to terminate the “time-consuming” litigation and pay their own costs. The UK’s Entertainment Agents’ Association issues a checklist for promoters following a sharp increase in the number of bogus emails purporting to come from leading booking agents. Campaigners for direct licensing, along with grassroots venues and festivals, welcome PRS for Music’s new popular music concerts (LP) tariff, after more than three years of negotiations. Eyellusion, the company behind hologram tours by deceased rock icons Ronnie James Dio and Frank Zappa, raises $2m (€1.7m) in seed funding from Madison Square Garden Company board member Thomas Dolan. Veteran artist manager John Gaydon – the ‘G’ in EG Management and EG Records – passes away aged 74. “A legendary figure,” says ILMC founder Martin Hopewell. CTS Eventim enters the Spanish market with the acquisition of a majority stake in Doctor Music, the independent promoter led by Neo Sala. A class-action lawsuit is filed against
Quebec-based national promoter Evenko, in the latest legal controversy around charging “delivery” fees on digital tickets. The value of the global electronic music industry fell 2% in 2017, reveals IMS Ibiza’s annual business report. Live Nation’s Lollapalooza festival brand expands again, adding Stockholm to its growing list of host cities from 2019. Live Nation acquires a majority stake in Scoremore Shows, the largest promoter in Texas and formerly one of the largest independent outfits in the US. Events are postponed or cancelled across south-west England after two people die from taking lethal doses of MDMA at Mutiny Festival in Portsmouth.
JUNE Ticketfly resumes a limited service after the 31 May cyber attack that took its systems and website offline and left 27m accounts compromised. The Kevin Hart Irresponsible tour, promoted by Live Nation, becomes the biggest-ever comedy tour, selling 1m tickets in less than six months. Founder Marek Lieberberg speaks of the “overwhelming” response to Rock am Ring and Rock im Park 2018 – the first not to experience significant disruption since 2014 – despite a slight fall in attendance after three challenging years. IMPF, which represents more than 50 independent publishers internationally, joins the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC) as an associate member. Manchester, UK, appoints its first nighttime economy advisor, in the form of Parklife founder Sacha Lord. Pia Corporation, the dominant player in
@iq_mag the Japanese ticketing market, reveals plans for a new company dedicated to dynamic pricing for concerts, sports and other live events. A combination of strong programming, high-quality production, and sunny weather meant the sold-out Parklife 2018, the UK’s biggest metropolitan music festival, was the best to date, according to organisers. Dutch promoter ALDA Events acquires a 100% stake in AMF (Amsterdam Music Festival), after five years of organising the event in partnership with ID&T. Europe’s biggest indoor venues collectively generated revenues of nearly €1.65bn in 2017, with many also reporting recordbreaking results, in a boom year for the European arenas business, reveals IQ’s second European Arena Yearbook. German publisher BMG initiates a new campaign aimed at combatting antiSemitism and hate speech in schools. One person loses their life and three more are injured after a van collides with a crowd of people just after Pinkpop Festival in the Netherlands. 150-year-old Scottish venue O2 ABC is left severely damaged after a fire at the neighbouring Glasgow School of Art spreads to its roof. AEG asks US district court for Oregon to toss a competition lawsuit by Soul’d Out Productions, saying the Oregon promoter is piggybacking on the success of its Coachella festival by disputing the latter’s controversial ‘radius clause’ (see IQ 77). CAA-backed sports consultancy Elevate Sports Ventures agrees strategic partnerships with Live Nation and Oak View Group. Australia’s first-ever FOH festival drug testing at Groovin the Moo in Canberra
IQ Magazine July 2018
News Harry Styles
in April, is hailed an “overwhelming success” by organisers, paving the way for its roll-out at future events. Ticketing and event technology giant Eventbrite signs a multiyear partnership with Barcelona-based event concept and party series, elrowFamily. Google issues a robust defence of recent changes to its AdWords advertising policies, amid renewed criticism of the search giant by British parliamentarians and anti-ticket touting campaigners. International booking agency Artery Global (AG) launches AG Sports, a new division focusing on representation for professional athletes and sports managers. American private-equity firm and Paradigm Talent Agency partner, Yucaipa Companies, makes a minority investment in Primavera Sound and Primavera Pro. EDM producer 3LAU, blockchain entertainment platform SingularDTV and independent promoter Prime Social Group announce Our Music Festival, the world’s first “blockchain-powered festival network.” SMG’s new Hull Venue secures a sponsorship deal with local business group Bonus, leading to its rebranding as Bonus Arena. AXS cuts ties with StubHub ahead of the launch of its first price-capped secondary ticketing platform in the UK, with AEG’s London venues The O2 and SSE Arena Wembley as the first partners. The value of the Japanese live market hit a record high in 2017, according to preliminary figures from the latest edition of the annual Live Entertainment White Paper. Spotify is to bring its popular ¡Viva Latino! Latin music playlist to the stage, following earlier success with live
shows based on rap playlists Who We Be and RapCaviar, and country music playlist Hot Country. Sources close to the European Commission indicate live industry campaigners will be successful in their goal of securing an exemption for stage lighting from new environmental regulations. Deutsche Entertainment AG (DEAG), through its UK subsidiary Kilimanjaro Live, acquires Belladrum Festival in Scotland. Private equity-backed festival company Superstruct Entertainment, led by Creamfields founder James Barton, acquires a majority stake in Advanced Music SL, the Barcelona-based company behind the Sónar festivals.
JULY The summer of 2018 is the biggest to date for Fullsteam Agency, the Finnish promoter says, after 102,000 people attend Provinssi and Sideways festivals. Four of the big five international music publishers take the first steps towards severing ties with SGAE, as the fall-out from the alleged ‘wheel’ scam continues to plague the controversial Spanish collection society. Sarah Nulty, co-founder and festival director of the UK’s Tramlines, passes away aged 36 following a short illness. Vivendi, the parent company of See Tickets, Digitick and Universal Music Group, is in talks to acquire Garorock Festival, according to local media. Music industry organisations react with disappointment to the rejection of the proposed EU Copyright Directive – seen as a way to close the online ‘value gap,’ but criticised by opponents as a
tool for Internet censorship – by MEPs. German event management company Production Office applies to stage the first Rock in Rio Germany next year, at Dusseldorf’s new D.LIVE Open Air Park. Cirque du Soleil Entertainment acquires VStar Entertainment Group, best known for its popular children- and family-orientated shows. Harry Styles takes home the coveted Best Live Act award, sponsored by Ticketmaster and Live Nation, at the O2 Silver Clef Awards, which raise money for music therapy charity Nordoff Robbins. Livewire Festival 2018 in Blackpool – which was to have been the surprise location for Mariah Carey’s only UK festival date this year – is cancelled, supposedly due to promoter illness. Germany’s federal parliament, the Bundestag, approves a €4.15m increase in spending on music in 2018–19, of which €2m is earmarked for the promotion of “small concerts” in grassroots venues. The price of a single Live Nation share climbs above $50 (€43) for the first time, amid speculation by Wall Street analysts that it could be the target of an acquisition by satellite radio provider SiriusXM. Money continues to flow into the Chinese secondary ticketing market, as resale platform Moretickets raises a further $60m (€51m) in a round led by CAA owner TPG Capital. Richard Cowley, the former co-head of Chrysalis Agency and co-founder of Cowbell, which became Primary Talent, dies aged 72. A data breach of Ticketmaster’s UK and international sites formed part of a “massive digital credit card-skimming campaign” that affected more than 800 other websites, says a leading cyber security company. Contra Costa Event Park, in Antioch, California, pulls the plug on XO Music Festival, amid allegations of non-payment of performers and a spate of critical media reports comparing the event to the infamous Fyre Festival in the Bahamas.
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IQ Magazine July 2018
Movers and Shakers The UK-based Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR) has appointed Richard Brundle as its new chairman, to replace Adrian Sanders who is retiring. As the MD of ticketing agency Edwards & Edwards, Brundle was part of the team that established STAR in the mid-1990s. Belgian performance rights organisation, Sabam, has appointed Jan Hautekiet (who previously enjoyed 40 years as a radio producer at VRT) as its new president. The PRO has also named Carine Libert as CEO; Benoît Coppée and Ignace Cornelissen as vice presidents; and Benjamin Schoos and Hans Helewaut as managing directors. Daniel Bei has been appointed managing director of Ticketmaster Italy. He was previously at World Trade Centre Italy, where he was involved in the management of venues including the Milan Forum (12,700-capacity) and Bologna Sports Palace (5,721). Before that he was GM of Forest National (8,400) in Brussels. Manchester, England, has named Sacha Lord as its first night-time economy advisor. The role has been created by Andy Burnham, the mayor of Manchester, in order to ensure a consistent approach to the city’s nightlife by co-ordinating with businesses, residents and the local police force. Lord is well known in the live music community for his involvement in Manchester’s Parklife Festival and Warehouse Project. US-headquartered agency Endeavor has hired marketing veteran and former Apple Music exec Bozoma Saint John as chief marketing officer. Saint John began her career in advertising before joining PepsiCo, where she led the company’s entertainment marketing efforts. Her most recent role was at Uber, where she was chief brand officer.
Increased focus on local talent for c/o pop The 15th c/o pop Festival and Convention, which takes place in Cologne, Germany from 29 August to 2 September, will place a particular emphasis on supporting home-grown talent. According to the event’s organisers, about 60% of this year’s line-up has been reserved for German acts in order to provide international talent buyers and media with an opportunity to watch performances from big names such as The Notwist, and Beginner, and discover hot new acts such as Gurr, and Messer. Similarly, c/o pop Convention will provide some of Germany’s most successful music industry operations with a platform for meeting and communicating with the global music industry, with executives from the likes of FKP Scorpio and Wacken Open Air representing the live side of the business alongside legendary indie labels such as Staatsakt, and influential music media such as Rolling Stone Germany and WDR 1LIVE.
“We’ve been moving towards this focus on German artists and the German music industry’s international interests for a while now, but this year’s c/o pop is the biggest step yet in the process of becoming the showcase for German music export and international trading,” explains c/o pop’s managing director, Norbert Oberhaus. “We all know that there’s a German music showcase and conference event market leader, but that’s a huge multinational event, which serves hundreds of international interests. We want to offer the German music industry a focussed place where they are in the export spotlight while offering our international visitors a real opportunity to meet the Germans.” With a conference programme that includes an IQ-presented panel in which Allan McGowan will address what’s happening with Brexit, c/o pop is expected to attract upwards of 1,000 music industry delegates from around the world among its estimated 30,000 visitors.
Booker and talent buyer Barış Başaran, previously of SSC Music Group (amongst others) has joined UK promoter MJR Group. In a newly created position, Başaran will work alongside MJR promotions director Mike Jones to expand the Bristol-based company’s booking and promotion activities into Central and Eastern Europe. Chuck Steedman, a key figure in AEG’s recent expansion into several new venue markets, has been promoted to chief operating and development officer of AEG Facilities. Based in Los Angeles, Steedman will retain his current title of chief operating officer, overseeing the financial, content development, operational, commercial and human resources functions of AEG’s arena, stadia and convention centre division. Annen May Kantereit at last year’s c/o pop © Ana Lukenda
IQ Magazine July 2018
Senior Met Officer to Address E3S Lucy D’Orsi, deputy assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, London, will conduct the welcome address at the second Event Safety and Security Summit (E3S) when it takes place on 30 October. D’Orsi will provide frontline insights into the policing of one of the world’s biggest and busiest capital cities, and outline the daily threats faced by its residents, businesses and event organisers. Since 2016, D’Orsi has been the deputy assistant commissioner in charge of specialist operations, leading on protection and secu-
rity, including royalty and specialist protection, parliamentary and diplomatic protection, aviation policing, and protective security operations. She is also national lead for less lethal weapons. D’Orsi will be just one of many expert speakers scheduled to take part in the event, which, due to demand, will this year be held in a larger venue in central London, allowing for an expanded conference programme, as well as exhibition space for companies to showcase the latest in security products and technology. Last year’s welcome address was conducted by
the Right Honourable Ben Wallace MP, minister of state for security, who called for improved co-operation between authorities and promoters, the latter of whom have terrorists “pointing in [their] direction.”
As a senior police officer closely involved in the ongoing threat levels across the country, D’Orsi is an authority on the topic of civilian safety. More info at www.e3s.world
AXS eyes international expansion through Flash Seats resale AXS is taking its US-based resale solution, AXS Marketplace, overseas for the first time, establishing its facilities in two iconic British venues, but potentially offering its services openly to primary ticketing operations across Europe. AXS Marketplace has been operating in the United States for a number of years where it has been extensively used by sports clients, but its launch in the UK will provide those visiting The O2 and The SSE Arena, Wembley with a fair way to resell their event tickets. The Marketplace platform will provide the option to resell tickets at face value with a cap of no more than 10% above the price originally paid, thus allowing the original buyer to break even on a ticket’s resale. Built-in controls also allow artists
IQ Magazine July 2018
and promoters to manage restrictions on the resale of tickets to their shows as required. With the ability to provide better management over the resale market, AXS claims this will be the only ticketing solution that allows fans to buy and then resell through the same platform, meaning that both primary and secondary tickets for sale on AXS will be visible to consumers at the point of purchase in real time. The method of delivery for AXS Marketplace – Flash Seats – is a mobile-friendly, identity-based system, with tickets assigned directly to fans attending, replacing the standard PDF attached to an email. To alleviate the problems surrounding counterfeiting, all tickets are assigned to individuals via Flash Seats’ unique digital ID technology. This includes a dynami-
cally changing barcode system, which ensures that the tickets cannot be copied or shared illegally, emphasising the company’s ongoing commitment to combatting fraud. “The ability to launch in these two iconic UK venues is pretty extraordinary,” AXS CEO Bryan Perez tells IQ. “We’re now working on getting the technology deployed and incorporating the tech into the AXS app – we need to set-up accounting systems for the fans to include payment, for instance.” Perez believes that because the problems associated with secondary ticketing affect the industry, the best way to resolve those issues is via an industry-driven solution. “Our Flash Seats system is a very powerful anti-counterfeiting solution and we’re hoping that other primary ticketing retailers
will embrace this,” he says, adding that the technology allows AXS to convert other tickets into Flash tickets so that they can be resold via Marketplace. The technology will be offered free of charge to the sellers of primary tickets for events at Wembley and The O2, but Perez reveals ambitions beyond those venues. “We’ll look to roll-out Flash Seats in our AXS venues in Sweden, and will act otherwise on a market-by-market basis. But Flash Seats is built outwith a ticketing system, so it can also be made available to other ticketing operations.”
2018’s Infestment Fever Heats Up Two of Spain’s most iconic festival brands have become the latest to attract deeppocketed investors, as consolidation in the global festival business reaches new heights in 2018, with events around the world finding new owners and stakeholders. In June, American private equity firm Yucaipa Companies acquired a minority stake in Barcelona’s Primavera Sound for an undisclosed fee. Yucaipa already has a joint venture with Paradigm Talent Agency, X-ray Touring, Coda Agency and ITG, but this investment marks an expansion of its interests in live entertainment. Primavera Sound is Spain’s biggest music festival, with the Parc del Forum in Barcelona attracting a daily capacity of 35,000. Yucaipa principal Frank Quintero tells IQ that both parties “saw each
other as a partner who shared the same ethos and vision to continue to grow the brand.” A month later, fellow US private equity firm Providence Equity Partners confirmed it had added Spain’s Sónar to its growing stable of European festivals. Providence finances Superstruct Entertainment and has already invested in Hungary’s Sziget Festival and Spanish party promoters elrow. The latest deal saw the company acquire a majority stake in Advanced Music SL, the Barcelona-based company behind Sónar. With a new elrow/Superstruct headquarters now open in Barcelona, the company’s ambitions for growth appear to know no bounds with plans to grow the Sziget brand internationally, perhaps learning from the experience of Sónar, which has organised
branded festivals in Reykjavik, Hong Kong, Istanbul, and across South America. Commenting on the Sónar acquisition, Superstruct chief James Barton says, “Advanced Music has a coveted track record in the live entertainment industry. We have long admired their events, especially Sónar and Sónar+D, and are confident this partnership will allow our combined platform to benefit from unparalleled synergies and stronger market positioning. We look forward to working with Advanced Music’s deep bench of founding partners and directors to realise the full potential of a combined unit.” In a related deal, Eventbrite will manage the ticketing of elrow’s more than 2.4 million attendees a year, across more than 100
events around the world. Meanwhile, in June, Live Nation completed its majority buy-out of Alabama-based Red Mountain Entertainment, which counts a number of festivals in the southern part of the US among its portfolio. Live Nation started the summer off with a bang by acquiring New Zealand’s Rhythm & Vines event, before pulling off a major coup with the acquisition of a majority stake in Rock In Rio. And just to underline the international scramble to boost corporate festival divisions, AEG has followed up on its February acquisition of the LAbased FYF Fest by also taking full ownership of Delaware-based Firefly Music Festival, in a July deal with stakeholders Red Frog Events.
Live Entertainment Looks to Africa For Growth As a new breed of African promoter capitalises on the continent’s growing demand for live entertainment, international organisations are starting to take notice and make their own investments in strategic cities and markets. Last year, French conglomerate Vivendi’s CanalOlympia venue expanded to include buildings in Yaoundé (Cameroon), Conakry (Guinea), Douala (Cameroon), Niamey (Niger), and Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso). Those facilities can double-up as cinemas and concert venues, with bookings organised by Vivendi’s record label, Universal Music Group. In July 2018, Universal created a new Universal Music Africa division in Ivory Coast, as well as announcing
further expansion of the CanalOlympia venue brand. The team is being led locally by experienced promoter Moussa Soumbounou. The media giant also highlighted “dynamic performance” from its Vivendi Village division in 2017, thanks, chiefly, to ticketing revenue growth and more venues opening in West Africa. Elsewhere, Live Nation has dipped its toes into the African live music market through its 2016 acquisition of Attie van Wyk’s Big Concerts, but some promoters in the continent are confident that success does not need to rely on overseas investment. Chin Okeke of Nigeria’s Gidi Culture Festival informs IQ that a generation of young, passionate promoters are transforming the market and
don’t need “saving” by the West. Describing Gidi as a festival created for Africa, by Africans, Okeke observes, “Africa was always just a big pay cheque: you get in, get your money, and get out. It was never about the growth potential.” But with a new generation of domestic entrepreneurs focused on creating a sustainable African touring infrastructure, the times are changing. And it’s not just conglomerates with African ambitions – Swedish organisation Selam Sounds is currently developing its Ethiopian festival interests, while Georg Leitner Productions now has a division in Nairobi, Kenya, headed by Isabelle Messer, who has put together an Afro
Beat touring package for 2019, to capitalise on interest in the genre. “There are a lot of interested and willing parties that see the opportunity in Africa,” states Okeke. “Some African acts can do 40,000-capacity stadia – Wizkid, Davido – but the production isn’t there: most countries can’t meet the riders for those larger acts. “There’s a lot of work to be done but it’s moving in the right direction,” he concludes. “What’s important is that we can’t look at the West as a saviour. We’ve realised we don’t have to seek validation from anyone. Once we wanted to change how people saw us but now we’ve changed how we see ourselves – and we’ve got a lot more attention as a result.”
IQ Magazine July 2018
The latest trades and handshakes from the agency world PHANTASTIC FERNITURE (AU)
Agent: Alex Bruford, ATC Live WITH THEIR SELF-TITLED DEBUT ALBUM due for release by Transgressive on 27 July, momentum is building for Phantastic Ferniture’s Julia Jacklin, Elizabeth Hughes, Ryan K Brennan and Tom Stephens. The band’s spiritual home may be the garage but they were born in a bar, specifically the basement of Frankie’s Pizza in Sydney. On Jacklin’s birthday in 2014, a group hug led to all ten participants vowing to form a band. “Only four of us remembered the next day,” notes Hughes. United by fern puns and a love of leisurewear, the band met-up whenever schedules would allow, writing songs and playing smatterings of dates to an increasingly devoted audience. Eventually, it was decreed that this was no side project and an LP should follow. The result is one of the most enjoyable albums of 2018. “It feels really good,” Jacklin says with satisfaction. “It’s like having an alter ego.”
Agent: Nikita Lavrinenko, Paper and Iron Booking OLIVIA HALLY AND PEPITA EMMERICHS met in secondary school in Melbourne, drawn together by a shared love of songs with no boundaries or expectations. The duo, now both 24, have since released three EPs, but it’s their debut album, Stadium Cake, that truly showcases their uniquely compelling collaboration. Oh Pep! have been performing for years, first around Australia and touring internationally since early 2015. They’ve performed at CMJ, SXSW and Nashville’s Americana Music Festival, and for Seattle’s KEXP and NPR’s Tiny Desk. The duo has also played Glastonbury, toured with Valerie June, Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, and Lake Street Dive. A sophomore album is scheduled for release in October 2018
THE CHATS (AU)
Agent: Shaun Faulkner, X-ray Touring HAILING FROM THE SUNSHINE COAST, The Chats are punk trio Eamon Sandwith, Josh Price and Matt Boggis, who have been making music together since meeting in their high school music class in 2016. The Chats released their eponymous first EP in late 2016, and followed that up with another EP, Get This In Ya, in July 2017. Despite living in a place where opportunities for bands are scarce, the trio are among a slew of young acts making a name for themselves in Australia’s thriving underground music scene, thanks in no small part to viral anthem Smoko, which has racked up more than 3 million plays on YouTube, and brought them to the attention of Queens of the Stone Age, who they will be supporting during their Australian tour in August and September.
OH PEP! (AU)
IQ Magazine hottest new acts - July 2018 This Month Last Month 1 7 2 9 3 1 4 37 5 2 6 3 7 5 8 15 9 42 10 4 11 8 12 32 13 15 14 12 15 21
SNAIL MAIL (US) GRANDSON (US) ALICE MERTON (UK/CA) KING PRINCESS (US) BOY PABLO (NO) SAWEETIE (US) WALLOWS (US) LEWIS CAPALDI (UK) DENNIS LLOYD (IL) STEFFLON DON (UK) YAEJI (KR) SUPERORGANISM (UK) PALE WAVES (UK) DERMOT KENNEDY (IE) GANG OF YOUTHS (AU)
Fastest growing artists in terms of music consumption. Aggregated across a number of online sources.
PREDICTIONS FOR NEXT MONTH
Artists not in the current top 15 but rapidly rising TIERRA WHACK (US), JAMES VICKERY (UK), EO (UK), SLOWTHAI (UK), SAY SUE ME (KR)
IQ Magazine July 2018
New Signings & Rising Stars
Artist listings ABISHA (UK) Mike Malak, Coda Agency Algiers (US) Matt Hanner, ATC Live Andy Bennett (UK) James Fern, MN2S Anemone (CA) Sally Dunstone, X-ray Anna of the North (NO) Francesco Caccamo, Primary Talent Audiobooks (UK) Paul Buck & Adele Slater, Coda Agency Babeheaven (UK) Alex Hardee & Olly Hodgson, Coda Agency Barely Legal (UK) Nick Reddick, Primary Talent Baywaves (ES) Rob Gibbs, Progressive Artists Bazzi (US) Steve Strange, X-ray BC Camplight (US) Rob Gibbs & Shane Daunt, Progressive Artists Betta Lemme (CA) Mike Malak, Coda Agency Black Midi (UK) Clemence Renaut, ATC Live Bladee (SE) Mike Malak, Coda Agency Bloom Twins (UA) Cris Hearn, Coda Agency Body Type (AU) Alex Bruford, ATC Live Matt Bates, Primary Talent Brand New Friend (UK) BRYN (UK) Craig D’Souza, Primary Talent Cemetery Sun (US) Gemma Milroy, X-ray Neil Warnock, UTA Chris Difford (UK) Christof van der Ven (NL) James Simmons, ITB Mike Malak & Geoff Meall, Coda Agency City Morgue (US/BR) Cloud Castle Lake (IE) Matt Hanner, ATC Live Combo Chimbita (US) Nikita Lavrinenko, Paper and Iron Creatures (UK) Sarah Joy, ATC Live Crumb (US) William Church & Sinan Ors, ATC Live Dardust (IT) Angela Curiello, MN2S Dat Brass (UK) Abi Hand, MN2S Deer Tick (US) Colin Keenan & Stuart Kennedy, ATC Live Desta French (UK) Marlon Burton, ATC Live Dr Vades (UK) Cris Hearn, Coda Agency Emma-Jean Thackray (UK) Sinan Ors, ATC Live EO (UK) Craig D’Souza, Primary Talent Evidence (US) Phyllis Belezos, ITB Cris Hearn, Coda Agency Frankie Stew & Harvey Gunn (UK) G Flip (AU) Matt Bates, Primary Talent Gappy Ranks (UK) Yusuf Bashir, MN2S Grace Weber (US) Beckie Sugden, X-ray Grand Pax (UK) Martin Mackay, Primary Talent Gyles Bartle (UK) Michael Harvey-Bray, Coda Agency Hana2k (UK) Michael Harvey-Bray, Coda Agency Harrison Whitford (US) Sally Dunstone, X-ray Heavy Lungs (UK) Natasha Bent, Coda Agency Heavy Rapids (UK) Adele Slater, Coda Agency Honey Harper (US) Christian Bernhardt & David Galea, UTA Jackie Cohen (US) Clemence Renaut, ATC Live Jay Pryor (IE) Cris Hearn, Coda Agency Jazz Morley (UK) Neil Warnock, UTA Joey Dosik (US) William Church & Sinan Ors, ATC Live John Buckley (UK) Jamie Wade, X-ray Joisin (DE) Steve Zapp, ITB Julia Govor (RU) Laetitia Descouens, Primary Talent Juliana Daugherty (US) Erin Coleman, Paper and Iron Keb’ Mo’ (US) Colin Keenan & Stuart Kennedy, ATC Live Kevin Krauter (US) Matt Pickering-Copley, Primary Talent Nick Holroyd, Primary Talent Kraus (US) Kyle Falconer (UK) Shaun Faulkner, X-ray LUMP (UK) Lucy Dickins, ITB LUWTEN (NL) Chris Payne, ITB Madonnatron (UK) Sarah Joy, ATC Live Makola (UK) Serena Parsons, Primary Talent
Mastersystem (UK) Steve Strange, X-ray Mega Bog (US) Nikita Lavrinenko, Paper and Iron Mellow Mood (IT) Angela Curiello, MN2S Matt Pickering-Copley, Primary Talent Men I Trust (CA) Mercer (FR) Paul McQueen, Primary Talent Mic Lowry (UK) Marlon Burton, ATC Live MNNQNS (FR) Paul Buck, Coda Agency Francesco Caccamo, Primary Talent Mollie Collins (UK) Mosie (US) Clementine Bunel, Coda Agency Netta (IL) Nick Matthews, Coda Agency Neue Grafik (FR) Tom Manley & Sinan Ors, ATC Live Next Year’s End (US) Gemma Milroy, X-ray Oh Pep! (AU) Nikita Lavrinenko, Paper and Iron Oh, Weatherly (US) Gemma Milroy, X-ray Pale Grey (BE) Wesley Doogan, Primary Talent Paul White (UK) Serena Parsons, Primary Talent Petal (US) Steve Taylor & Colin Keenan, ATC Live Phantastic Ferniture (AU) Alex Bruford, ATC Live Picture This (IE) Alex Hardee, Coda Agency Sam Rumsey, MN2S Pinch (UK) Post Animal (US) Roxane Dumoulin, ATC Live Rebecca Garton (GH) Jess Kinn, Coda Agency Rider Shafique (UK) Matthew Pidgeon, MN2S RIMON (NL) Tom Schroeder, Coda Agency Rusko (UK) Paul McQueen, Primary Talent Ryan McMullan (UK) Steve Strange, X-ray RYD (UK) Matt Hanner, ATC Live Saltwater Sun (UK) Steve Strange, X-ray Sam Palladio (UK) Phyllis Belezos, ITB San Junipero (UK) Alex Hardee & Olly Hodgson, Coda Agency Seeb (NO) Nick Matthews & Alex Hardee, Coda Agency Sem&Stènn (IT) Angela Curiello, MN2S Sinan Ors, ATC Live Shigeto Live Ensemble (US) Sibille Attar (SE) Erin Coleman, Paper and Iron SKYND (CH) Shaun Faulkner, X-ray Slowthai (UK) Tom Schroeder, Coda Agency Sun Silva (UK) Will Marshall & Matt Bates, Primary Talent Swarmz (UK) Craig D’Souza, Primary Talent Sylvie Kreusch (BE) Cris Hearn, Coda Agency Talos (IE) Sarah Casey, UTA Matt Pickering-Copley, Primary Talent The Armed (US) The Britanys (US) Jamie Wade, X-ray The Chats (AU) Shaun Faulkner, X-ray The Dangerous Summer (US) Chris Smyth, Primary Talent The Dunts (UK) Jamie Wade, X-ray The Nectars (US) Adam Saunders, X-ray The Pink Slips (US) Steve Strange, X-ray The Revolution (US) Steve Strange, X-ray Thunderpussy (US) Olivia Sime, ITB Thyla (UK) Jo Biddiscombe, X-ray Tim Hecker (CA) David Exley, Coda Agency Tirzah (UK) Isla Angus, ATC Live Tom Joshua (UK) Matt Hanner, ATC Live Tommy B (UK) Tom Speirs, MN2S Tough Love (UK) Ben Kouijzer, UTA Violet Days (SE) Mark Bennett, UTA Walt Disco (UK) Sally Dunstone, X-ray Wooing (US) Jamie Wade, X-ray Marlon Burton, ATC Live Youngs Teflon (UK) Yussef Dayes (UK) Andy Duggan, Primary Talent
Gig Gadgetry from the Frontline...
Fortum Singalong Shuttle
is a deep location
company founded in London in 2014 by technology brothers Ege and Can Akpinar and entrepreneur Axel Katalan. Pointr specialises in the indoor positioning of both people and assets through the use of apps and sensors. For retail environments this means users being able to use an app to find their way to a specific brand or product within a building, such as Harrods (where it’s very easy to get lost). For airport environments, passengers can navigate to their gates and also figure out how long it will take them to get there. For airports such as Gatwick, which has circa 97
Slido Slido is a technology com-
pany that enhances communication and increases interaction at events and meetings, and is perfect for anyone who has a conference element at their festival or showcase event.
million passengers, this goes beyond just convenience but also operational excellence. For entertainment venues, this means users can find food and drink easier by searching for outlets on a map, navigate to different stages, find the nearest loos, and even share locations with a friend, leading to a better overall gig experience. The Pointr solution works both in an app environment (iOD and Android) and also without the need for an app (anonymous location data analytics). Recently, augmented reality has also been playing a big part in the Pointr solution, where users simply hold up their phones and are guided not by a map, but through 3D-augmented reality objects, such as a plane at the airport. The product enables users to crowd source audience questions to drive meaningful conversations, engage participants with live polls and capture valuable event data. As witnessed by IQ editor Gordon Masson at Pohoda Festival in Slovakia, the technology encourages audience members to anonymously submit questions to
Looking for something a bit
different to transport fans to your gig, venue or festival? Then look no further than the Fortum Singalong Shuttle – a taxi that only accepts singing as payment. The emission-free vehicles, operated by taxi firm Fortum, are BMW i3 electric cars and have been successfully used by Ruisrock Festival in Turku, Finland, where drivers were entertained by passengers’ karaoke renditions of timeless classics such as Drive by The Cars, Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi, and Roxette’s Joyride. Well, probably. Further enhancing the festival’s green credentials, the taxi scheme encouraged Ruisrock attendees to ride-
share during their Singalong trips en route to the event. Fortum offers a wide range of clean energy solutions and emboldens its customers to live a more sustainable life. The company is also actively developing sophisticated EV charging solutions: the Fortum Charge & Drive EV charging network is the largest in the Nordics with over 2,000 chargers across the area. “With Singalong Shuttle we want to show people in a joyful way how comfortable and easy it is to drive an electric car,” says Fortum’s brand manager Jussi Mälkiä. “The silent electric cars make it possible to enjoy singing without background noise and emissions.”
panellists live, via both an onstage screen and a handheld tablet – allowing even the shyest attendees to participate in debates. “We focus on simplicity, both for meeting planners who can create an event in less than a minute, and for participants who can join the conversation via any device with a simple code,” explains
Slido’s customer success manager, Žofia Prokopová. To date, Slido has helped to engage millions of participants at over 120,000 events around the world, including conferences such as SXSW, World Economic Forum, Money20/20 and high-profile clients like Adobe, Spotify, Lufthansa, the BBC and Oracle.
Do you have a new product or technology to contribute to this page? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to be considered for the next issue…
IQ Magazine July 2018
Red Tape and Fierce Competition Volker May, chair of the IMMF and managing partner of Dortmund venue FZW, outlines the struggles being faced by promoters in Germany.
t is not an easy time for promoters in Germany at the moment. There are too many offers per genre/ audience, limitations on decibels, changing security requirements, and, of course, secondary ticketing and its impacts, including personalised ticketing. Add to that noisepollution claims in venues’ local neighbourhoods, and crowd management, including the local impact of visitors’ arrivals and departures. Then there’s the new EU GDPR regulation that must be kept in mind when promoting shows to regular customers. And the social security and tax regulations with regional and local differences within a fragmented German market… And these are just a few of the issues that have to be considered when drafting a reliable event costing and turnover estimates. So when it comes to delivering successful shows, each region in Germany has specific challenges. Venue owners have been dealing with these issues on a daily basis for years, whilst also trying hard to provide emerging talent with opportunities to showcase and build a following. Thanks to some European Commission-funded activities like Liveurope and Europavox, emerging artists have an opportunity to cross borders. A healthy culture market needs, and audiences want, plurality and diversity; it’s where the next trend comes from, so one of the major challenges club owners and local promoters are facing nowadays is how to support local talent in a globalised playlist and festival environment. If they do not succeed, it is just a question of time until Europe loses its cultural richness, and we will see a monoculture-dominated live market, which, to some degree, we already have. In some music genres, we definitely have a saturated market, but most of the venues that have invested in technology and facilities still maintain a thriving business. The newly opened Warsteiner Music Hall in Dortmund reflects the up-to-date philosophy of venue management. Alex Richter, managing director of Four Artists Booking GmbH, says, “Particularly in the last five years, the German live market has become more dynamic, more diverse, but also more fragmented. “The fee offer and, in particular, admission prices, have almost doubled, so that I already have the feeling that we are close to the bubble bursting. Especially in the open-air/ festival area in Germany – we have reached a saturation limit. On the other hand, there is a lot of interest in highquality shows. In addition to the artist/show, the venue is a key part of the concert experience, a great venue contributes
significantly to the success of a production. “This was our approach at the Warsteiner Music Hall, which has a capacity of 3,600 visitors. In my opinion, it is the best venue of this size in Germany. It is located in the centre of the Ruhr area with a total population of 5.1million, so it’s good, not just for artists but also for a large audience. With a lot of experience and thought we created a modern venue with the charm of an old industrial hall built in 1903. The venue has excellent acoustics, gastronomy, and sanitary and cloakroom facilities; and sufficient parking space and public transport connections.” For many years, the company Südpolmusic has worked together with German-language acts, and experienced significant growth doing business in a niche market. According to MD Patrick Oginski, “The German live music market is increasingly divided into nationally active, large-scale marketers and small- to medium-sized tour organisers. Fortunately, while the big-players’ tours are about the media cities and often just about market
“Venue owners have been dealing with these issues on a daily basis for years, whilst also trying hard to provide emerging talent with opportunities to showcase and build a following.” share, there’s room in the market for niches, with Germanlanguage and regional acts, for example. This is also a great opportunity for small- and medium-sized companies, who are able to look after live acts more intensively, and with a longer service life and thus establish themselves in the long-term in the live market.” Juicy Beats Festival booker Uli Künneke warns of an unhealthy business perspective due to the significantly increasing fees and production requirements. “The requirements of the stage directions are getting bigger and bigger,” he reports. “This does not truly reflect if an act is a successful ticket-seller or not. The status of the act is nowadays sometimes linked to the number of trucks and coaches, and stage sizes and roadies. Together with the increasing artist fees for festival performances, this pursuit of scale can drive the presale ticket price into an unhealthy region.”
IQ Magazine July 2018
Why the Live Industry is Missing Out Marcus Russel, Berlin-based CEO of gigmit, questions whether a reluctance to embrace groundbreaking technologies is hindering the live business.
aving worked in the live music industry for nearly twenty years now, I can see we are on the brink of change. During the early years, I discovered that many artists struggled with getting gigs or even a response from promoters. Through these observations, I became immersed in the start-up world, exploring new technology to improve the live market. The start-up culture feels so vibrant. Everybody wants to help each other. Everybody is coming up with new and revolutionary ideas, and some of them have huge potential. I see it like this: there is a bunch of people that aspire to improve our world, either the environment or workflows and processes. It became apparent that a new way of communication between promoters and artists could help, that there was a missing link, and this is how the idea for gigmit was initially conceived – a fast-growing, online platform for music booking that connects artists to promoters, and therefore helps to make live better. While attending many conferences through our EUfunded INES project, I realised that there is very much a one-track mind in the live music industry, and maybe beyond live. What has happened? Two years ago, I met up with a German concert promoter who stated that their margin is usually only about 5-10% profit. If they want to expand their business, they just need to do more and more concerts, and, of course, grow by running after bigger and bigger acts. In comparison, within the same industry, gigmit has been running for six years now, and fortunately we have an average annual growth of 80%, and based on the registered artist-user amount, the biggest online live music booking platform in Europe. So it’s clear that fresh ideas can take off.
“I realised that there is very much a onetrack mind in the live music industry, and maybe beyond live.” During last year’s Reeperbahn Festival, I noticed that there is an increasing sense amongst the small and mediumsized enterprises (SMEs), the concert promoters, that the biggest music companies are taking over. They feel that these big companies come into markets and take control. This is because they have the money, it’s because they can.
IQ Magazine July 2018
It can prevent the SMEs from starting out or flourishing, as often financially they cannot compete with the big fish. Recently, something unusual has come to my attention, which could be a contributor to the shortcomings within the market. I have met so many great entrepreneurs with fantastic technology and teams but all of them seem to be struggling to find somebody in the live music industry to partner up with who is prepared to take a small risk and try something new, something that hasn’t happened before. These SMEs are unable to find the right partners. Eventually, the big players agree to invest in or buy the successful projects because they can, but only because there‘s nobody else. I got the same impression when Sony Music invested in our company. There wasn’t a long queue of SME concert promoters approaching me beforehand, and it’s not that I didn’t chase them… Nowadays, 40% of tickets to live gigs go unsold, concert promotion is a big issue, and traditional publishing companies in the music space struggle a lot. So isn’t now the perfect time to embrace the uncertain, the technology, the maybe unconventional ideas of young start-ups within the industry? The music industry needs to embrace this fresh outlook, these innovative methods. People are not usually in it just for the money – it’s their passion. We started out because we wanted to help artists and promoters to get more gigs with less effort. In our team, we have the mentality that we will never, ever give up. Whilst we work on the use of our large database to predict ticket sales for gigs, and help with the perfect match between artists and promoters – think of it like Tinder for gigs! – I still hope that we will find some brave music companies to partner with on the way, and for other start-ups too. One thing is for sure, there are still so many things in the music sector that can be improved or even revolutionised through technology, and there is enough money in the sector (not just with the biggest players) to take risks and get it started. Imagine what would happen if concert promoters met the innovative tech people? What would have happened if DHP Family and SoundCloud had been connected in the early days? Or Spotify and FKP Scorpio? Perhaps the music world might look a bit different, and quite possibly work a bit better. What we need are more alliances between these SMEs, on both ends, technology and music, in order to create unique projects, and the kind of value that no money in the world can buy.
Think Differently and Think the Same Jim King, AEG Presents EVP of live music, explains the original thinking behind the creation and launch of the company’s recent, and highly successful, new festival – All Points East.
his year, AEG Presents launched a new festival, All Points East in Victoria Park. Victoria Park is a fantastic green space in the heart of a vibrant area of London, one of the most important live music cities in the world. It will be the home of All Points East for the next four years. We were focused on creating a series of shows that widened our relationships with the artist community and music fans. We wanted to achieve this by delivering an event that complemented what we already did in London but would carry its own personality and identity. Staging a brand-new event in a crowded market is always as much about thinking differently and creatively as it is about utilising past experience. We waited patiently for the chance to present our ideas to Tower Hamlets local authority and when the new contract opportunity arose we knew we needed to move quickly and deliver a vision that resonated with them. If we were successful, we were also acutely aware of other stakeholders we needed to connect with to ensure the event was a success on all levels, not just musically. The often used ‘we’re only here for two weeks’ argument never seemed the strongest way to win the hearts and minds of people who rely on parks for their family enjoyment and well-being. Being a good partner is an important part of AEG’s DNA, and being a good partner in the community even more so. We are able to do this by having the right people with the right outlook. We don’t look to compete on volume. We just want to do what we do as well as we possibly can. That allows our team to spend a little longer to make something a little better.
“The real challenge for me is whether we, the industry, are giving fans what they want.” The fact that Victoria Park has such a unique cultural history meant we were able to strengthen our All Points Equal event. This celebrated 100 years since some women
were given the right to vote and 90 years of equal voting rights for women and men, with a rich vein of inspirational educational and historical content that kicked off the midweek programme of free-to-access activities. Music, of course, matters the most. There is a lot of talk about the industry lacking headliners but I’ve never totally bought into that argument, which I see as a fairly limited assessment of the live music landscape. The real challenge for me is whether we, the industry, are giving fans what they want. Are we creating platforms where they return home inspired to come back for another live music experience as quickly as they are able to? That’s essentially the challenge we want our team to meet at All Points East.
“Staging a brand-new event in
a crowded market is always as much about thinking differently and creatively as it is about utilising past experience.” All Points East was, and is, about artists who never dial it in. It was booked driven by our own musical passion, and we wanted musicians who wear their own passion on their sleeves, and always deliver. So 40,000 people came to see Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds give one of the most memorable headline performances that I have ever seen. Raw, heartfelt, sometimes brutal, and searingly honest. Whilst All Points East is travelling a different road to British Summer Time Hyde Park and requires elements of different thinking, there is an overriding philosophy that unites them. Both events stand for a delivery of quality. We want artists to walk out the production exit feeling they had a great time and that they were treated respectfully. Equally, we want the fans to walk out the public exit and say they had a great time and were treated respectfully. I like to not overcomplicate things…
IQ Magazine July 2018
It’s a Plaid, Plaid World: the Rise of Country Music Nathalie Cox, co-founder and creative director of CountryLine, the dedicated app for country music fans, expands on the genre’s growth in the UK.
ountry music is one of the fastest growing genres of music in the UK. Yup. You read that correctly. If you don’t believe me, you clearly weren’t at The O2 back in March when 80,000 fans descended on the venue to see Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Kacey Musgraves, and a whole host of country stars from here and the US perform. (Cowboy hats included but not compulsory.) Gone is the line-dancing, and the cheesy references to Billy Ray Cyrus’s Achy Breaky Heart, and even the term ‘country & western.’ Country music is taking back the reins – and this time it’s cool. Hot Nashville newcomers Midland recently had a fourpage spread in Vogue. Florida Georgia Line’s collaboration with Bebe Rexha has been played on mainstream radio. Hundreds of thousands of people are tuning in to TV show Nashville. And Chris Stapleton regularly pops up alongside best friend Justin Timberlake whenever he can. I’ve been a fan of country since I was a kid. Whilst my friends were listening to Take That and the Spice Girls, I was secretly hoarding Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash albums. Now my fellow fans are coming out of the country closet to embrace the genre. Why the shift? Well, streaming has definitely helped. Spotify, Deezer etc have
introduced people to all kinds of music they would not have previously come across. Then there’s the lifestyle: BA wouldn’t have just launched the first direct Nashville flight in decades if that show [of the same name] hadn’t put Music City firmly on the map for UK fans. Most importantly though, live music has played a significant role in growing the genre’s popularity. The more bands that come over from Nashville to play here, the more the American labels realise there’s a significant, very hungry audience in the UK. And so they return, with more artists and bigger venues. And the momentum builds. Smaller venues are hosting their own country nights; pubs have open mic evenings; and “three chords and the truth” singers are taking the spotlight. UK country singers are going from strength to strength with artists such as The Shires, Catherine McGrath, and The Wandering Hearts proving you don’t need to come from Tennessee to claim country music as your own. So what does this mean for the future? More music, gigs, emerging artists, great songs, and probably a few more cowboy hats. The future is most definitely country... www.countryline.tv
The Magnificent Seven
Launching a music festival when the market is so saturated takes nerves of steel, yet countless brave souls around the world are doing just that. While the international behemoths are using 2018 to debut the likes of Lollapalooza Stockholm, Download Madrid and All Points East in London, Gordon Masson profiles seven new events that are hoping to attract a loyal following through their different approaches to the business…
The DMZ Peace Train Festival (Korea) 21-24 June 2018 With a motto that proclaims, “Let politics, economy, ideology, race, freedom and peace be experienced through music,” the DMZ Peace Train Festival’s inaugural event took place in June. Format: A 5,000-capacity event including a conference and showcase elements, and entrance to a nearby amusement park. Location: The conference took place at the appropriately named Platform Chang-dong 61 in Seoul, before a train took attendees and artists north to Goseokjeong, which is located at the entrance to the Korean Demilitarized Zone on the border with North Korea for the two-day music festival. Performers (Korean): Jambinai, Crying Nut, Galaxy Express, Billy Carter, Say Sue Me, SsingSsing, Idiotape, Kiha & the
Faces, Se So Neon, Adoi, Hitchhiker, Kirara, Lee Seunghwan, Kim Soochul, Sanae Kang. Performers (International): Vaudou Game, Colonel Mustard & the Dijon 5, Joyce Jonathan, Mitsume, No Party for Caodong, Zenobia, Newton Faulkner, Glen Matlock. Industry Support: Co-ordinated by the Governor of Gangwon Province and the University of Seoul, the conference side of the event was run by Shain Shapiro’s Sound Diplomacy, while the likes of Stephen Budd (Africa Express, ONEFest, NH7), Martin Elbourne (Music Cities Convention, The Great Escape, NH7), Martin Goldschmidt (Cooking Vinyl), and Mark Meharry (Music Glue) were on hand to help with the organisation of the festival. The Future: “We have big fields and parkland next to the core festival site, so I can see Peace Train becoming one of the most important festivals in Asia in the years ahead,” Martin Elbourne tells IQ.
Crying Nut feat. Glen Matlock of the Sex Pistols - DMZ Peace Train Music Festival
IQ Magazine July 2018
53 Degrees North (UK) 5-6 June 2018 Organised by the Hull-based Warren Youth Project, a charity that helps local young people deal with problems, 53 Degrees North has already had an impact on hundreds of lives. “Last year, The Warren had 1,454 young people registered, and they came to us 17,059 times in need of support. But the funding that’s necessary to give that support is becoming scarce,” explains Mez Sanders-Green, one of The Warren’s festival organisers. “We didn’t want to just ask people to donate money – instead, we wanted to create something that would make the people of Hull smile whilst helping us sustain our vital services, this is why we put on 53 Degrees North.” Format: A two-day, 3,000-capacity, city-centre event. Location: The event is staged in Zebedee’s Yard, a venue in the centre of Hull that is surrounded by old buildings, giving it an amphitheatre vibe. Performers: Slaves, The Horrors, Dream Wife, Life, Our Girl. The Future: “In just one year, 53 Degrees North has delivered the triple-whammy impact of being a showcase for radical emerging and major acts; empowering live-work-experience for young people; and a fundraiser for desperately needed funds to support those young people to become their best selves. Because of that impact, 53 Degrees North can and will become a byword for true youth empowerment – give them real chances and they will smash it out of the proverbial park,” states Sanders-Green. Industry Support: “Ross Warnock at UTA, Adele Slater at Coda, and Steve Backman at Primary Talent were great to deal with,” according to Sanders-Green.
IQ Magazine July 2018
Copenhagen’s TAP1 complex will host Noisey Festival’s debut
Noisey Festival (Denmark) 2-3 November 2018 A collaboration between Beatbox Entertainment and Vice Media, Noisey is targeting the young, hip, Copenhagen crowd with a line-up that encompasses established and rising stars across hip-hop, rock, pop and other genres. Format: Taking shelter indoors from November’s cold Copenhagen weather, the festival will cater to a capacity of about 3,500 fans. Location: Noisey has secured TAP1, a former distillery in the Danish capital’s city centre, for its inaugural year, with two halls that will host around 20 acts across the weekend. Beatbox partner Xenia Grigat explains, “This won’t be a showcase festival – it’ll be a mix between known headliners and some rising stars. But thanks to the partnership with Vice (who opened their Copenhagen office last year), we’ve generated a lot of interest, as agents and labels can see that the various channels that Vice offers can give their acts more media exposure than they might otherwise receive.” Performers: Jungle, Sigrid, Nines, Ugly God, Liss, Stella Donnelly, Riverhead, Kelly Lee Owens, Westerman. Industry support: Free Trade, Earth Agency, ATC, Coda, UTA, 13 Artists. The Future: Grigat notes, “Noisey is really Vice’s brand, but we know they are very excited about checking out this festival concept, so if it goes well in Copenhagen, they could potentially take it to other cities, or expand its size in 2019.”
The stunning location for Festival 84 on Jahorina mountain near Sarajevo
Festival 84 (Bosnia & Herzegovina) 15-18 March 2018
20-27 June 2018
After the team from EXIT Festival started Sea Dance in Montenegro in 2014; RE:volution in Romania a year later; and Sea Star in Croatia in 2017, this year saw the launch of their newest chapter: Festival 84 in Bosnia & Herzegovina.
Showcasing one of Europe’s last hidden gems, Kala’s debut edition was held on Albania’s picturesque coast at the meeting point of the Adriatic and Ionian seas.
Format: Following an opening party, the festival, which includes music and winter sports, ran for two full days and nights, and included a farewell party. More than 20,000 people attended the inaugural Festival 84. Location: At the very heart of the Balkans, Jahorina mountain is close to the Bosnia & Herzegovina capital city of Sarajevo. Performers: The inaugural line-up concentrated heavily on the dance market with acts such as Sigma, Asian Dub Foundation, Joris Voorn, Umek, Burak Yeter, Bad Copy, and Helem nejse. Industry support: Echo Location, Bass Culture, William Morris, Radius Artists, David Lewis Productions. The Future: “EXIT is famous worldwide not just as a favourite among music happenings, but also as one of the few modern festivals that has roots in activism that are still nurtured today,” says one of the organisers, Bojana Kozomora. “ By merging EXIT Festival’s brand with the Jahorina mountain and Sarajevo’s Olympic brand, the goal is to create one of the biggest winter music festivals in the world, which will – like EXIT – serve as a champion for social responsibility.”
Format: Mainstage Festivals organised a 2,000-capacity, seven-day, beach-based festival, providing partygoers with an alternative to other Mediterranean festival destinations. The event also offered an array of sports and wellbeing activities, from snorkelling, kayaking and paragliding to sunset yoga and beach massages. Location: Dhërmi Beach, a short boat ride from the popular Greek island of Corfu. Performers: Colleen ‘Cosmo’ Murphy, Moodymann, The Black Madonna, Hot Chip, Tom Misch, Todd Terje, Roy Ayers, Ross From Friends, among others. Industry support: CGI Music (artist booking and programming); Rest Is Noise (PR services); Giles Bristow (production manager); the Albanian Ministry of Tourism. The Future: Year one attracted 1,800 attendees – 1,400 of whom travelled internationally to get there. “The feedback from the festival has been overwhelmingly positive. It took over a year and half to plan Kala and every person in the teams involved went the extra mile to make it a truly special first-year festival,” says festival director Alan Crofton. “The next few years we will look to progress steadily to ensure we maintain the intimate customer experience that was achieved this year. There are already exciting developments underway, which we can’t wait to reveal over the next few years in Albania.”
The lure of crystal-clear seas and white-sand beaches helped Kala Festival achieve a successful first year
IQ Magazine July 2018
Meteor Festival (Israel)
22-25 November 2018
6-8 September 2018
Music Showcase Greece (#MSG) has been organised by the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports, and in collaboration with the Municipality of Thessaloniki, the festival is supported by the Region of Central Macedonia, the Cultural Center of the Region of Central Macedonia, Athens Culture Net, founding donor Stavros Niarchos, and Moni Lazariston Festival in Thessaloniki.
Meteor was created in order to serve as a “cutting-edge, alternative, musical journey that can surpass borders and distort time and space.” Promoter Eran Arielli tells IQ, “We wanted to take things to the next level, go beyond solo shows in concert halls and arenas, and provide the local crowd with the immersive festival experience that they long for, which up to this point was only available abroad.” The event will host more than 50 international acts and just as many local artists, and was curated with the understanding that the limits of genre and scene are broken, and a wide bridge now connects styles, generations and audiences.
Format: #MSG is marketing itself as a four-day music marketplace that is “something more than just a simple festival that aims to entertain the audience.” This free festival has been set-up to promote the modern, Greek, music scene and includes parallel events such as music industry workshops, b2b meetings, a conference schedule, and cultural trips around the city, in order to entice international attendees. Format: A four-day festival showcasing 20 Greek acts across nine city venues. Location: The event will rely on a number of venues in the city of Thessaloniki in northern Greece. Industry support: #MSG’s organisers have placed a particular emphasis on the curators of international music festivals, record label execs, agents and journalists on the event guest list, with confirmations from China, Vietnam, Slovakia, Poland, Sweden, Germany, Netherlands, France, Portugal, Spain and Israel. The Future: #MSG plans to use its programme to build a credible and sustainable future for the export of Greek music and artists, both by showcasing the best of the country’s talent, and by developing its music industry infrastructure through the creation of a dynamic international network of music representatives, which will meet every year in a different Greek city. The next edition will be held in Athens in 2019.
Format: Meteor is a 15,000-capacity, three-day, camping event with six stages, a diverse and high-quality catering area, an open-air cinema, and an arcade tent; and includes art installations and performances. Location: The festival will take place in a pecan orchard in the Upper Galilee region of northern Israel, just footsteps away from the historical Jordan River. Performers: Flying Lotus, Kamasi Washington, Nina Kraviz, Soulwax, Pusha T, Mura Masa, Dj Koze. “When constructing the line-up, one of the main themes that came to mind was that of the hipster/clubber/ “It was also very important for us to integrate artists from minority groups and have a strong presence of Arabic and African music and culture.” Industry Support: Coda, WME, ICM, Earth Agency, Blow Up, ATC, Qu Junktions, CAA. The Future: “With Meteor, we honestly hope to establish a strong musical community and provide the region with a contemporary, Middle Eastern, festival culture.”
Aigli Geni Hamam in Thessaloniki will be one of #MSG’s venues
IQ Magazine July 2018
SHOULD YOU CHOOSE TO ACCEPT IT… … can be almost anything you want, finds Jon Chapple, as big new licences, innovative technologies, and consumer desire for digital souvenirs push the sector forwards.
f 2016–17 saw producers and promoters waking up to the strength of demand for expos based on major licensed IP (see IQ 74), the past 12 months have arguably seen them – to use that most irritating of Americanisms – double down on pop culture-themed shows, with a host of new exhibitions based on everything from the music of Prince to Game of Thrones, DC Comics superheroes and Broadway phenomenon Hamilton hitting the road. According to Manu Braff of Belgian promoter MB Presents, which has Star Wars Identities at Brussels Expo until 2 September, “big brands” are the order of the day – a sentiment echoed by SC Exhibitions’ Christoph Scholz, who says many of the big producers are hedging “their financial bets on safe franchises and the exploitation of IP [intellectual property].” According to Scholz, the trend towards ‘safer’ bets is being driven by both promoters and those with IP to exploit. “When I speak to promoters, they say, ‘Sell me a brand’,” he explains. “Some of them are a little risk-averse – they want things like Marvel, Avatar, the Pink Floyd exhibition… “And, of course, the owners of the IP want to exploit it. So, [in addition to touring shows], they’re going into things like theme parks and other product merchandising.” Tom Zaller, president and CEO of US-based Imagine Exhibtions says, “I think the risk factor all depends on your business strategy. We work with IP, brands, artists and traditional museums, and currently have 35-plus exhibitions on the road, so we need to satisfy promoters, our many museum partners and our self-operated venues around the world. Ultimately, we need content that is sustainable for many years, with a strong narrative that translates into an immersive, entertaining and educational experience. There will always be a place for well-executed content and storytelling.”
xhibitions based on familiar content and concepts are also popular with the people taking a risk on the shows – ie the promoters – as they can run for months at a time, amplifying losses hugely if it all goes wrong. “There’s much higher risk in exhibitions,” Braff explains. “If you lose on a show, it’s bad but it’s only one night. An exhibition can last six months, and you can’t escape any of the costs: opening and closing every day, paying for staff and security… “It’s difficult to come back from. So sometimes it’s better to work with brands.” The fourth piece of the puzzle is audience tastes, which increasingly tend to favour familiarity and nostalgia, suggests Scholz.
“Two years ago, Harvey Goldsmith said to me, ‘People have no time for “fringe” any more. They have busy lives, and a limited budget, and they want to go somewhere they feel safe.’ That was his definition of why audiences are flocking to these big IPs,” Scholz says. (One only has to look at the reboot/sequel culture still prevalent in Hollywood – Ocean’s 8, anyone? – to see that Goldsmith has a point.)
The price is right
ut while the likes of Star Wars, Viad Corp’s Harry Potter: The Exhibition and SC’s own Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes, running until March 2019 at Seattle’s MoPop, have proven hugely popular, brand recognition needn’t be a precursor to a successful exhibition, as proven by UK-based producer World Touring Exhibitions (WTE). “Since we moved from [solely] representing exhibitions to producing them, we’ve been expanding fast,” says founder Corrado Canonici. “After our first exhibition, Travelling Bricks – made of Lego bricks – which is booked until October 2019, we created Interactive Science, which has also proven to be extremely popular, with 100,000 tickets sold in our first run in Rome.” The company’s third production in 18 months, the optical illusion-themed 3D Doubt Your Eyes, opens in Haifa, Israel, on 1 August. “I believe that people always have time for a great experience,” comments Zaller. “Sometimes IP does not translate into exhibitions – i.e. a movie could be very exciting, but complicated to transition into an immersive experience. “Recent examples of IP that have translated include Downton Abbey: The Exhibition, running in New York until 3 September, which is a perfect fit, utilising both a strong fan base and IP that is a mix of history, immersive video experiences and authentic objects. Similarly, we created a very compelling experience with Jurassic World, where we were able to transport people to the Park.” Canonici suggests touring exhibitions are growing in popularity partly owing to skyrocketing ticket prices for live music events. “Concert prices have reached ridiculous heights, really,” he comments. “To view an exhibition, a family of four, for example, spends a fraction of what they’d pay if only the two parents were to attend an arena concert.” What’s attractive for the producer, meanwhile, is that it owns the show – WTE, to use the live music analogy, is, in effect, the artist. “When we produce a new exhibition, it is our idea, our implementation, so we are basically the artists,” Canonici continues. “This means that, instead of having to cope with, ‘The champagne is not the right temperature, I
MB Presents is looking at ‘The Art of the Brick LEGO®: DC Super Heroes’ for its next exhibition
IQ Magazine July 2018
TOURING EXHIBITIONS The Instagram-friendly Museum of Ice Cream
Are you experienced?
won’t sing tonight!’, and similar rubbish, we can set-up an educational and entertaining event and promote it with likeminded people who are most of the time more sensible than [those in] the music business.” Braff cautions, however, that it’s a difficult market to break into should one lack expertise or experience. “You have to observe the market, be clever and informed,” he says. “You can’t just think, That’s a good movie, let’s make an exhibition. “I had a friend who decided that because he liked a certain sport, it would work as an exhibition, and he ended up losing a lot of money.” Even with Harry Potter: The Exhibition, which MB promoted in Brussels from June 2016 to January 2017, “there was an element of doubt,” says Braff. “It had been years since the last movie. But we went on sale six months in advance, and sold 50,000 tickets over the first weekend. “Of course, afterwards, everybody says, ‘Of course you did, it’s Harry Potter, but a week before that we didn’t know if it was going to work.”
he key to all successful exhibitions, suggests Scholz, is that they provide audiences with an experience they can’t get elsewhere. “That’s another big difference compared with live music,” says Canonici. “Interactivity in a concert is a bonus, but an exhibition without interactivity is totally unmarketable. Nobody wants a 1970s museum anymore.” “One thing I like about exhibitions is their ability to involve people in experiences,” echoes Braff. “That’s the future of entertainment. People want to be more involved; they want to be challenged and engaged.” Of course, being involved is one thing – but what’s the point in going to something if your friends don’t know about it? More and more, says Scholz, exhibitions – especially nontypical ones – are serving as “Instagram environments,” with attendees sharing photos of their experience on social media. (Indeed, the blurb for WTE’s 3D Doubt Your Eyes describes the show as a true “Instagram paradise,” which will serve as a backdrop for photos “so real you’ll feel as if you’re living in a magic world.”) Nowhere is this ‘Instagramisation’ of exhibitions – and, more widely, cultural institutions such as museums – more apparent than in the Museum of Ice Cream in San Francisco, says Scholz, whose ‘museumoficecream’ hashtag has, at the time of writing, been affixed to more than 160,000 posts. (It was 93,000 when Smithsonian magazine wrote about it last November.) According to Smithsonian: “Perhaps the apotheosis of Instagramisation is an entirely new category of cultural institution, the made-for-Instagram ‘experience.’ The bestknown example is San Francisco’s the Museum of Ice Cream, a series of rooms that basically function as photo sets: a pool filled with rainbow sprinkles (they’re plastic), a white unicorn you can sit on, a ceiling hung with pink bananas. The ‘museum’ has been wildly popular, with six-month runs selling out in 90 minutes.” According to Scholz, the rise of “projects that are probably not typical exhibitions” (in addition to the Museum of Ice Cream, he identifies the various inflatable theme parks popping up across the UK as another good example) is another key growth area for the sector, having gone hand in hand with the aforementioned move to ‘safe’ IP-driven shows. “There’s still a healthy level of originality out there,” he says.
“You have to observe the market, be clever and informed. You can’t just think, That’s a good movie, let’s make an exhibition.”
- Manu Braff, MB Presents C O N T R IB U T O R S (l to r) Manu
Braff, MB Presents; Corrado Canonici, World Touring Exhibitions; Anthony Geffen, Alchemy VR; Bruno Monnier, Atelier des Lumières; Christoph Scholz, SC Exhibitions; Tom Zaller, Imagine Exhibitions
“It is critical that people have an experience that they can share, whether via social media channels or in person,” adds Zaller. “Sometimes IP allows you to easily share an experience, because movie IP is so prevalent in our society, but it can also be done with other compelling content, like our plastinated human anatomy exhibition Real Bodies, currently on display in Budapest, Birmingham, Sydney and Las Vegas. People leave inspired.”
IQ Magazine July 2018
TOURING EXHIBITIONS ‘Marvel Universe of Super Heroes’ is SC’s third major show, after ‘Tutankhamun: His Tomb and Its Treasures’ and ‘Magic City - The Art of the Street’
“…instead of having to cope with, ‘The champagne is not the right temperature, I won’t sing tonight!’, and similar rubbish, we can set-up an educational and entertaining event and promote it with like-minded people who are most of the time more sensible than [those in] the music business.”
- Corrado Canonici, World Touring Exhibitions
n addition to courting digital natives with selfie-friendly set design, producers are turning to technology to push the boundaries of what’s possible with a static exhibition. “Technology is going to have a bigger role in experiences,” says Braff. “We’re seeing more and more exhibitions featuring things like projection mapping, VR, AR… it’s interesting to see where all these technologies will take us.” He adds, however, that in his experience, the “challenge is to find tech that works with 5,000 people a day and doesn’t break!” Braff highlights the immersive Gustav Klimt exhibition at the new Atelier des Lumières in Paris as a good example: the expo, which opened in April 2018, utilises 120 video projectors to beam the Austrian painter’s artwork over a surface area of 300m², extending from the floors to the ceilings and over 10m-high walls. Bruno Monnier, director of Atelier des Lumières and president of Culturespaces, says: “The role of an art centre is to “de-compartmentalise,” and that is why digital technology is so important in 21st-century exhibitions. Used for creative purposes, it has become a formidable vector for dissemination, and is capable of creating links between eras, adding dynamism to artistic practices, amplifying emotions, and reaching the largest possible audience.”
Similarly, Imagine Exhibitions’ Imagine Van Gogh, created by Annabelle Mauger and Julien Baron, features the artist’s famous paintings –”from the stars in his night skies to the seeds in his sunflowers” – projected on multiple floor-to-ceiling touchscreens, allowing visitors to interact with the art and zoom in on details, while classical music plays in the background. Imagine’s most recent project was to concept Hamilton: The Exhibition – another big IP, based on the smash Broadway musical of the same name – which will debut in Chicago. Rather than being limited in designing the exhibition to fit into a museum or conference centre, Imagine came up with the idea for the Hamilton exhibition to be housed in a freestanding structure almost the size of an American football field on Northerly Island, a 91-acre man-made peninsular adjacent to Chicago’s lakefront. “We approached the producers of Hamilton with the idea to create an exhibition because we saw the perfect opportunity to transition this incredible play into an immersive, educational and entertaining experience,” says Zaller. The show will deliver a “blockbuster, 360-degree immersive experience” through the use of light, sound, multimedia, music and historical artefacts, as well as an audio tour narrated by the musical’s creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda. According to Zaller, the exhibition will “take Hamilton fans and museum-goers to a new dimension.” Elsewhere, the UK’s Science Museum Group – which supplies both full turnkey solutions and blueprint packs for custom exhibitions – is defying classification with Space Descent VR, a new touring exhibition currently working its way around Britain. Part touring expo, part simulator, Space Descent, created by Alchemy VR, centres on the Soyuz TMA-19M space capsule that took Major Tim Peake to the International Space Station (ISS) in December 2015. The space capsule was purchased by Science Museum Group a year later, and now serves as the virtual vessel for a 360° VR experience that puts visitors inside the spacecraft as it makes the 400km journey back to Earth from the ISS. “We are tremendously proud of this exciting experience, which takes visitors on a journey no other technology could achieve,” says Anthony Geffen, founder of Alchemy VR, which created Space Descent VR for the Science Museum Group.
SC Exhibitions and MB are co-presenting ‘Dino World’ in Munich
IQ Magazine July 2018
‘Space Descent VR’ puts participants inside a virtual representation of Tim Peake’s Soyuz TMA-19M module
n spite of this technological innovation and buy-in to the sector from major licensors, both Braff and Scholz doubt whether the market as a whole is growing, with Scholz saying he believes the industry has “reached a certain level, and we remain on that level.” He adds, however, that the exhibitions sector is – much like the live music industry – going through a period of consolidation and growing maturity. “IMG, for example, recently started doing exhibitions,” he explains (the company, part of agency giant WME-IMG/Endeavor, acquired producer Exhibitions International in January), “and we’re seeing some multimillion-dollar shows now. “The sector’s definitely becoming more established, more professional, its business networks work faster… It’s like the concert business – but on a very small-scale.” Braff, who is co-presenting Dino World in Germany with Scholz’s SC, says similarly that the industry is seeing only modest growth – although he adds that it’s a “fascinating time” to be in the business regardless. Compared to the plethora of shows on the market now, “when I started out, 15 years ago,” he says, “there were maybe three or four big exhibitions – and once you’d done them there was nothing else to do.” That growth in the number of productions is leading to increased competition for companies like WTE, says Canonici. “However, it is still a good market and there is scope for further development,” he adds. That competition is undoubtedly good for venues, says Steve Sayer, commercial director of The O2, whose venue is currently home to DC Exhibition: Dawn Of Super Heroes, having recently hosted Star Wars Identities and Elvis on Tour: The Exhibition. “Exhibitions are a significant part of the diverse offering at The O2, and we’ve been lucky to host some really great ones which have drawn visitors from across the globe,” says Sayer. “The rotation of exhibits keeps things interesting, and each residency gives us renewed opportunity to tell a new audience about the venue and everything in it. The O2 has much to offer outside of arena events, and exhibitions certainly help drive footfall during the day time.”
“There’s still a healthy level of originality out there.”
- Christoph Scholz, SC Exhibitions
Content, as in all areas of the entertainment business, is king, and the companies with the highest quality shows will be the ones who succeed in the years ahead. Where, then, does Canonici see the market heading next? “That is the million-pound question!” he says. “Which topics? This is, I believe, what any exhibition producer is trying to tackle: what can we produce next that is new and original?” “I realised many years ago that I wanted Imagine to both locally produce, operate and distribute exhibitions, and create the new content,” adds Zaller. “Our goal is to find the best stories out there and bring them to life, whether IP, brands, natural history, science, art or pop culture. We now tour over 35 exhibitions and we are creating two or three new ones every year, either for ourselves or in partnership with IP owners.”
Meeting the makers
Imagine’s most recent project was to concept ‘Hamilton: The Exhibition’ which will debut in Chicago
hile Canonici “[doesn’t] have the million-pound answer yet,” some people who might are the delegates at the sixth edition of the biennial Touring Exhibitions Meeting (TEM). TEM, organised by Scholz and SC Exhibitions, returns to Berlin in spring 2019. In addition to SC, TEC 2017 guests included delegates from MB Presents, WTE, Imagine, X3 Productions (Star Wars Identities), Universal Exhibitions (Klimt Experience, Transformers) and Brand New Expo (My Name is Prince Amsterdam). At press time, exact dates for TEC 2019 have yet to be announced; Scholz suggests keeping an eye on Touringexhibitions.org for updates.
IQ Magazine July 2018
mazing rtistic chievements
As one of the few remaining ‘old school’ promoters, Triple A Entertainment’s directors have been risking their own money on events and tours for the past 20 years. Adam Woods talks to the principals behind the company’s success about their quiet, no-nonsense approach to the business…
f Pete Wilson and Dennis Arnold of Triple A Entertainment were writing their own 20th anniversary testimonial, it might go something like: “20 years of promoting and producing events. Not rocket science. Let’s not (ironically) make a big song and dance about it.” In an industry with plenty of big talkers and impresarios, Triple A are the least self-promoting promoters you will ﬁnd. They don’t put their name on the poster; they don’t tend to do interviews – they would have been just as happy, you suspect, not to do this one; and you’ll search in vain for a website. And in a world of corporate power and shareholder value, they do what they fancy doing, keep things sensible, and run their business the way they want to. Together, promoter Wilson and production man Arnold have run tour after tour for acts like Eric Clapton, Roger Waters, Paul Weller, Ray Davies, the Beach Boys, and The Cure; organised the 2002 Royal Albert Hall tribute to George Harrison; sold a million tickets for Steps, and guided Boyzone, Kylie, Jason Donovan, Five, Westlife, Blazin’ Squad, Lord of the Dance, WWE, Shaolin Monks, Harlem Globetrotters and many others through the arenas of this land.
But for some reason, the story Wilson tells that seems to make the most meaningful point about the particular way they do things involves boisterous, Test-Match-Special anecdote machine, Henry Blofeld. “We did his 70th birthday at the Albert Hall,” says Wilson. “There were 2,000 tickets, it needed 1,800 to break even, and I think it did 1,750, so it lost a little bit of money. But it’s something we wanted to do,” he explains. “We’re cricket fans.” Wilson and Arnold do a lot of work in that kind of spirit, from bailing out and professionalising Oxfordshire’s Cornbury Music Festival, just because they liked it, to faithfully promoting much-loved established acts of a more modest size who might not strike a diﬀerent kind of company as being worth the sweat. “There’s a lot of things we do because they need to be done,” says Wilson. “And it’s our money. We don’t have masters; we don’t have shareholders or some American saying, ‘listen, this has got to make a certain amount.’ We have shows that the odd one doesn’t do very well but we don’t pull the ads – we keep advertising. Which probably isn’t a great business decision, but that’s how we do things.”
chievement IQ Magazine July 2018
The world has plenty of principled little indies of a certain age – for the time being, at least – but Triple A isn’t just that. Powered by a team of six – Wilson, Arnold, Jeanne White, Fiona Atwood, and longstanding freelance producers Dan Scott and Jolyon Burnham – they were the 25th-biggest promoter in the world last year, with 650,000 tickets sold [source: Pollstar]. At the time of writing, current projects are as diverse as shows for David Crosby, Paul Weller and Roger Waters, the touring production of Dirty Dancing, and new WWE dates. Ask around and you hear it again and again: they’re not ﬂash about it but they’re very good at what they do. “Pete is deﬁnitely one of the best promoters in the country, by far,” says United Talent’s Gary Howard, a friend since his days as a young club agent in the 1990s. “His knowledge is second to none and he is one of the best marketing guys in the business. Everything I have ever done with them has always been a huge success.” ILMC founder and former Primary Talent MD Martin Hopewell concurs “They are extraordinary promoters, and incredibly modest – they just keep themselves in the background,” he says. “I like a lot of the people in the business who are larger than life. But Pete and Dennis are the opposite of that, and really they don’t get the recognition they deserve. Because when you look at the artists they have worked with and the things they have pulled oﬀ, it’s quite incredible.” Wilson has a matter-of-fact explanation. “We have been doing it for a long time,” he says. “We know what works and what doesn’t work.” Certain things typify the Triple A approach. They retain a fondness for traditional advertising, and they don’t much love social media. They hang onto their friends for a long time, and don’t poach anyone else’s artists. They don’t do much dressing-room schmoozing. And, setting aside the recent retirement of ﬁnance man Martyn Stanger, one of the three founding ‘A’s, they are lifers, doing it because they love it. “Everyone they take on, they are passionate about,” says Dan Scott. “They will do all manner of things but usually there’s an interest behind it: music they like, something they ﬁnd exciting, or they can see an opportunity in it.”
Some of their eye-for-an-opportunity they picked up under Harvey Goldsmith, for whom Wilson worked for 18 years, Arnold for nine. “I used to run a stagehand company before that,” says Wilson. “I actually built The Wall at Earl’s Court – I physically put the bricks in. And then a year later I was the promoter that was selling it.” Goldsmith’s operation was at the peak of its power in the 1980s and 1990s, taking Wham! to Wembley Stadium; organising Live Aid; handling rockers such as Waters, The Who, Bowie, Springsteen, and The Stones; and pop successes such as Bros, New Kids on the Block, Kylie, and Jason Donovan.
“We have shows that the odd one doesn’t do very well but we don’t pull the ads – we keep advertising. Which probably isn’t a great business decision, but that’s how we do things.”
Pete Wilson “Harvey, we worked with for a long time,” says Wilson. “I think we learned a lot about ticketing from him, the hierarchy of the industry, respect for people who were putting up their own money. And then some things, we do completely the opposite.” Arnold, meanwhile, did well in the 1980s managing Nik Kershaw and others, and was taking a break from the business at the end of the decade when he answered a call from a family member to run some drapes over to Ireland for a Pavarotti concert promoted by Goldsmith and Aiken Promotions. “I went and hired some, and a van, and drove over there and did it, and sort of got back into it, I suppose.” He become a promoter rep, and then took charge of production of Goldsmith’s diverse 90s roster – “Pavarotti, WWE, Cirque du Soleil, plus all the normal arena and stadium shows” – oﬀering a spread of challenges similar to the one Triple A pursues today. The original plan, when Wilson, Arnold and Stanger ﬁnally struck out on their own in 1998, was not to become another promoter, but to become a one-stop events producer for other people. “We had an idea that people could come to us and we could promote a tour for them, do the production and, if need be, do the ﬁnancial aspects, give them a complete package,” says Arnold. “That was the idea. It never really took oﬀ as such, though we did do quite a lot of production.” What did take oﬀ was the new promoting company they had never really planned to be. “We had no desire to poach acts or be promoters,” says Wilson. “But within three days, the phone rang. Dennis had a call from [Eric Clapton’s thenmanager] Roger Forrester, and I had a call from [Concorde agent] Louis Parker – ﬁrst giving us a really hard time about why they hadn’t been told we were leaving but, moreover, that they couldn’t do their tours unless we put them together.”
Dennis Arnold and Pete Wilson backstage with Kylie Minogue at The O2 during her ‘X2008’ tour
IQ Magazine July 2018
Immediately picking up tours for Clapton, Boyzone and Björn Again, Triple A accepted seed money from Pavarotti’s global promoter Tibor Rudas, and set about further innovating in the same kind of areas they’d occupied with Goldsmith, as pop and family entertainment became arena staples.
I genuinely believe that our business, the real business out there, is promoters gambling and using their own money to either win or lose on a date, and there are very few that do that now. There are obviously big companies, where if they go down on a tour or they win on a tour, it doesn’t really alter too much in terms of their day-to-day business. Whereas, Pete and Dennis have got to sell tickets so they can eat hot dinners and buy shoes. We started in this business when everyone had to do exactly that. These guys take a risk whenever they put on a show, and they really do it. They are independent, they don’t want to work for anyone else, and they are solid, honest guys. I love them, I’m a massive fan. Put me down in the fan column. Carl Leighton-Pope, Leighton-Pope Organisation
mazing “They are extraordinary chievements rtistic promoters, and incredibly modest – they just keep themselves in the background.”
Martin Hopewell – Primary Talent International An early plan to co-promote Boyzone with Goldsmith foundered on their diﬀering estimates of the boy band’s pulling power. “We thought it would do 20-plus shows, no problem, but [Harvey] only wanted to do 12. So we ended up doing it on our own, and it became a 40-arena tour,” says Arnold. “Which wasn’t bad for starters. And then we went from there, really.” Arenas started to notice ‘the Triple A eﬀect,’ as apparently ephemeral pop acts turned out to be huge ticket-sellers. “People don’t believe it now but Steps sold a million tickets over three tours in 18 months,” says Wilson. “We promoted B*Witched and a lot of other pop acts. B*Witched played a Wembley! Few people remember who Hear’Say were [winners of Popstars which aired on UK TV in 2001], but they played 40 arenas.” Even early on, Triple A decided they wouldn’t waste too much energy on trying to be cool. “When we started, the one thing we didn’t want to do was go for the 18-30s audience because there’s a zillion bands in that bracket,” says Wilson. “But if you are under 18, you have got ‘the bank of mum and dad,’ and over-30s have got a bit more money to spend. “It’s still the same now: the theatre stuﬀ, the WWE, the Harlem Globetrotters – it’s family entertainment. Every sale is four tickets or a couple of tickets, very few individual tickets. The pop market, too: it’s always two tickets or two kids and the mum.”
“We had no desire to poach acts or be promoters.”
Pete Wilson Another part of the abiding appeal of the non-music events, says Wilson, is that such performers tend to be slightly more open to ideas. “If you are a promoter, you want to promote. But in the music business, it’s very rare that acts let you do it. You invariably end up dealing with an accountant who says ‘we don’t want you spending that’ – even though it’s your money. Or they will question your marketing. “Whereas, when you go outside of that genre, they want to use your expertise. We brought the Shaolin Monks over and
Pete and Dennis are loyal, straightforward guys. They are very private and don’t publicise themselves much. They are the quiet ones in a crazy business. They are not like Live Nation, they don’t have a show every day of the year, but they have got a very comfortable roster. We have been there since they were at Harvey’s office, and when they broke out of there, thankfully, one of their first calls was to me. They’re nice guys. They don’t get in your face, they just get on with the job. Bob Taylor, Integro Group I’ve worked with Dennis, Pete and Jeanne on various projects over the years. What I like about working with them is there’s no drama; if they’ve got a problem with anything they’ll tell you, and if you’ve got a problem they’ll listen and work together to sort it out. They still remember they’re in the entertainment business and, to me, that’s an immense credit to them. Bryan Grant, Britannia Row Productions I have known Pete and Dennis since they were at Harvey Goldsmith. I think it’s fair to say that they have promoted practically all the artists I have represented, such as Sting, Supertramp, Jeff Beck, and Squeeze, just to mention a few. They were the only ones who took the gamble with Zucchero, and that has worked out very well. Pete, Dennis and the whole team are totally professional and show great dedication in their work. We worked together on both Michael Flatley’s ‘Feet of Flames’ and ‘Lord of the Dance’. I count Pete as one of my closet friends in the music business and hope this will continue for many years to come. Phil Banﬁeld, Coda I have worked with Dennis and Pete for many years and I am proud to call them my friends. We thank them for all the amazing shows they’ve brought to the Royal Albert Hall, from the Concert for George, which was a fantastic tribute to the late George Harrison, through to the iconic Eric Clapton, whom they have brought to us in a headlining capacity no fewer than 190 times. We love their honesty, their work ethic and afternoons out. And a big shout out must go to the wonderful women behind these great men – Tina and Jeanne. Lucy Noble, Royal Albert Hall Pete is a very quiet guy. There’s no bling with him – you get what you see – and Dennis is the same. They are nice guys – don’t get in your face, just get on with the job. I have been there since they were at Harvey’s. When they broke out of there, thankfully one of their first calls was to me, and we have supported each other over the years. Karl Sydow, producer – ‘Dirty Dancing’
IQ Magazine July 2018
“If you are a promoter, you want to promote. But in the music business, it’s very rare that acts let you do it.”
I have known Pete, Dennis and Martyn from the very first day I worked on a full-time basis in the live music industry, in 1985. And what a year that was. Pete and Martyn were central to the overwhelmingly successful promotion of ‘Live Aid’ at Wembley, when Dennis’s artist Nik Kershaw was performing on stage. In the first few years of 3A, we worked together on some amazing events – a number of starstudded Prince’s Trust Galas, the extraordinarily successful ‘Lord of the Dance’, hypnotist Paul McKenna who was turned from a wellknown DJ into a major star of the stage and screen, and the global phenomena that is Cirque du Soleil. In some ways, it’s the non-music events that stand out – the tours by the Shaolin Monks of China and arena dates for the WWF wrestling brand were eye-openers for me. On top of this, 3A have promoted some of the best pop concerts ever, with Boyzone, Blue, B*Witched, Kylie Minogue and Five amongst many others, as well as ongoing relationships with world status acts such as Eric Clapton, The Cure, Roger Waters and Paul Weller. Oh, and they have the best Christmas parties – ever. I may have been to some of these. It’s hard to remember. Ben Challis, Glastonbury Festival
‘A Concert for George’ at the Royal Albert Hall, 29 November 2002
they didn’t question anything – they just wanted the money.” In addition to cementing teen pop acts as arena-ﬁllers, Triple A can lay claim to a string of pioneering ideas in their time: full-page composite ads; posh, city-centre park shows – their Route of Kings series in Hyde Park being the trailblazer; and, with Goldsmith and without, the practice of stopping for multiple nights in a string of cities, with the clever timing that entails. “Acts didn’t used to do multiple shows in one place – they used to do one night somewhere and then one night somewhere else,” says Wilson. “You worked out a tour and you booked it in advance – you knew where you were playing and you didn’t leave gaps because you couldn’t risk having a day oﬀ. “And then we came along, and expanded the touring window by creating multiple nights in venues by not putting all the shows on sale at once. You had gaps where you could do Manchester or Birmingham, and whichever one sold out ﬁrst, you put it in.” There is a respect for musical acts that underpins all their pop and rock work. “Our whole philosophy is: the artist is
“Some venues are a bit blasé about it, but we demand respect for the artists. It sounds a bit silly but that’s how it works.”
We have done a lot of shows with Pete and Dennis over the years – they have always been very, very good for us. They are very onthe-case, very aggressive in their marketing, and they don’t mind spending money on advertising. They are never content to sit back and say “this is the way it happens” – they are always looking for new ways to do it. They will take a chance, they are professional, and together, and they are very, very easy to work with. Also, their money is always 100% on time, which is more important than you would think. It lets you know the people you need to worry about and the people you don’t, and they are firmly in the latter group. Paul Charles, Asgard Triple A has been probably our biggest independent promoter over the years, and it’s all been quite varied. They had things like that record-breaking run of ‘Lord of the Dance’ dates with Michael Flatley towards the end of the 90s, when they did, I think, 21 dates in here; more recently, there were the WWE shows, Paul Weller, Kylie. Gig of the year for me in December 2016 was The Cure for three nights. In the arena market, it’s quite something to be where they are, given the competition from rivals with deeper pockets. It’s got to be down to a combination of the relationships they have maintained, and the experience they bring. They know the business really well and they are straight-talkers, and that’s fair enough. John Drury, The SSE Arena – Wembley I have known Pete and Dennis for many years, and in that time we have co-promoted a number of tours together. Most recently, we have had successful tours with Mark Knopfler and Frankie Valli, amongst others. We have a very good working relationship. We do discuss from time to time the fact that we are proud that our two companies have chosen to remain independent in a world where other promoters have become part of conglomerates and given up their independence. Our two companies are probably two of the longest independents still standing. Danny Betesh, Kennedy Street Enterprises
IQ Magazine July 2018
The Cure - London 2014. Photo © Gaëlle Beri
TESTIMONIALS I first worked with Pete in the late 70s. We were promoter reps for Harvey Goldsmith, and then we went into the office full-time. I remember The Who and AC/DC at Wembley with lots of lasers. That was 1979, I’m sure of it, and we all still work together. I believe most of that generation will die at their desks – I don’t see anyone retiring. Pete was always a good promoter. He was creative and innovative – much more than me, I was always a production guy. He always had ideas of how to sell tickets, and he found his niche as a creative promoter very early on. I know them well, those boys. They have got a lot of good relationships, and they are survivors. Andrew Zweck, Sensible Events
king,” says Wilson. “We don’t have our name on the poster – we just have a little logo in the corner. We are great believers that nobody should be above the artist. We had a lot of arguments with managers, agents, co-promoters and sponsors over the status of the artist.” Jolyon Burnham suspects Triple A’s willingness to backup artists in the cut and thrust of the touring circuit is a signiﬁcant point of diﬀerence. “We will always ﬁght for the artists we work with,” he says. “Some venues are a bit blasé about it, but we demand respect for the artists. It sounds a bit silly, but that’s how it works.” Over the years Triple A have had less of a monopoly over the pop market – not so much because Triple A lost its feel for it, but because other promoters, including some obvious names, have targeted that ﬁeld with big advances and global promises, using the kind of ideas that Triple A helped to pioneer. “We made the decision that it’s pointless trying to go and get the new Take That or a new One Direction,” says Arnold. “It’s not necessarily because we can’t aﬀord the money because there are occasions when we know we have oﬀered the best price. But they want to go for that corporate company, which is ﬁne.” While many of Triple A’s acts these days are from the established end of the business, Gary Howard says you wouldn’t want to draw too many conclusions from that alone. “They get a bit of a raw deal because they are not perceived by the young, cool kids to be one of the big companies,” says Howard. But you could take a young band to Pete and he would still be able to work it.” There is no pretending that the ambitions of global players don’t impact on the business of even big-time independents.
“You have all these 900lb gorillas who have decided they will monopolise the world […] and not a lot of promoters have managed to stay independent and keep going.”
Karl Sydow – theatrical producer
IQ Magazine July 2018
Without Pete and Dennis, Cornbury Festival wouldn’t exist today, I’m sure. Cornbury had a nice reputation and was a nicely run festival, but they became partners when it was on its knees, and three years later, we made our first profit. He is very smart, Pete. I said I was going to give up a year or so ago and he said, “No no no, we have got to do a final year.” So we did it, and then he said, “No no no, we have got to keep going.” So we have. They want to be seen as cold, heartless, tough bastards, but then there are all these inconvenient stories of kindness. Hugh Phillimore, Cornbury Music Festival First off, I love Pete and Dennis. As a young club agent in the 1990s, I was very successful in my field but I knew I had to break out of that track-playback scene and get into the live scene. As I was starting to do that, Pete was one of the first people that really helped me. In my early days, he was full of advice – he would spend two hours on the phone with me and think nothing of it. He was really, really good to me, and I will never forget it. Gary Howard, United Talent Agency I have worked with Pete and Dennis for more years than I care to remember, and I think as a business they are probably one of the most up-front companies I know. They run a tight ship, and one of their key strengths is that they are small in size yet huge in ambition. Six plus nights of any one act (Steps/Boyzone/’X Factor’) was not uncommon for them in the 00s when they always knew how far to push the number of shows when others may have been more conservative; Triple A always had the knack of selling shows. They are also not afraid to try new shows or new venues, and they have been very supportive of the Auditorium at ACC Liverpool. Dennis has always been the calm voice of reason, and understands the subtle art of negotiation. Pete, on the other hand, has his own unique way to negotiate; if the rental is £1 he will want it for 50p! They very much complement each other and that’s why they are so successful. Pete’s writing skills are second to none, especially when he SHOUTS! And the brevity of conversation is something else; “What do you want?” being his favourite way to answer the phone. You can’t deal with Pete and have a thin skin. It took a bit of getting used to in the early days but he was marginally beaten by their then partner, Martyn Stanger, who wouldn’t even talk, preferring to grunt. Pete and Dennis are an institution in their own right; it’s been my pleasure to work with them over the years and I’m proud to call them friends. Kay Wilson, ACC Liverpool
But long relationships across the industry, coupled with a keen eye for a smart idea, ensure Triple A stays busy, with loyal, long-term clients including Waters, Weller, The Cure, Clapton, WWE and numerous others. Clearly, not everyone wants a corporate partner. “I think there’s a lot of like-minded souls out there,” says Triple A marketing manager Fiona Atwood. “They know what we do and how we operate. We come up with the goods, and ﬁnd people stick with us. Triple A are not stuck in one formula; what we do is based on its own merits and certainly not a colour-by-number approach.”
TESTIMONIALS We go all the way back to when they were first working for Harvey Goldsmith, back in the late-Jam/early-Style Council days. They keep themselves in the background – try to drag them into an artist’s dressing room on show day and you would have to have a team of rugby players. They would just rather be getting on with their job in the production office. But the vast majority of the stuff I have done in the UK on any kind of a large-scale has been with those two, and I can’t think of any one time we have ever had an argument. And I can’t think of any other promoter I could say that about on the face of the Earth. Martin Hopewell, Primary Talent
“They are the quiet achievers.”
Andrew Zweck – Sensible Events “I think they have adapted,” says Dirty Dancing producer Karl Sydow. “They have always had a broader outlook than a lot of people, and they adapted through the years to the way the business has changed. You have all these 900lb gorillas who have decided they will monopolise the world, the Live Nations and the AEGs, and not a lot of promoters have managed to stay independent and keep going. That is a testament to looking pretty widely at the market and seeing what will work.” “They are the quiet achievers,” says Sensible Events’ Andrew Zweck, a former colleague under Harvey Goldsmith. “They have just kept going, and you know how hard it is for an independent to survive.” Wilson and Arnold certainly recognised that when they visited Cornbury Festival eight years ago, at a time when founder Hugh Phillimore was struggling to keep the event alive. There was a history, but not a promising one. “I was standing next to Pete a few years before at the ILMC, and as a conversation starter I reminded him of the time I had booked a terrible band of his called Toto Coelo
Pete and Dennis are one of the few truly independent promoters left in the UK. It is actually their money they risk on a daily basis. You’d think that would make them worried men, but nothing could be further from the truth. They are masters of their craft with Pete a marketing master and Dennis probably one of the best promoter/ production co-ordinators in the world. I would personally like to thank them for being there for me when I needed it and am happy to call them both friends. After all, nobody else does it the way they do and always with an artist friendly approach which is second to none. I am proud to work with them. Paul Crockford, Crockford Management ‘Doing Great Business with Great People’ should be the Triple A company motto. Working with Dennis, Pete and the entire Triple A team is always a joy. It’s straightforward, no nonsense, efficient and fun all at the same time. I really can’t say enough good things in such a short space here. I’m extremely fortunate to be able to count on them as partners and willing recipients for all of my crazy idea phone calls down through the years. Here’s to many more! Denis Sullivan, Harlem Globetrotters
for a corporate event in the 1980s,” says Phillimore. “And he said, ‘I married one of them.’ I literally just fell silent and walked away. I have no idea whether he actually did. Someone told me years later that he probably made it up to make me feel small.” Nonetheless, Triple A proved to be Cornbury’s guardian angel. “They said, ‘you obviously need some help. We have been through good times and bad times, so we know all about that. We think we might be able to help you.’ And they basically rescued the festival. They injected some money and know-how, and they have basically held my hand for the last eight years. “A lawyer I work with once said that Pete is one of the marketing geniuses of the promoting world and one of the sharpest men he had ever met. Certainly, I couldn’t wish for better partners.” Triple A clearly gets a kick out of it too. “It’s a unique festival on a country estate,” says Wilson. “It’s something we enjoy. We don’t do it because it’s going to make a lot of money. We do it because it’s very enjoyable and it’s how we think festivals should be.” Triple A might ﬂy under the radar, but plenty of people have noticed how nimbly they do it. Over the years, says Wilson, there have been four oﬀers for the business, but none have appealed. “Maybe they didn’t have the right ethics, maybe they didn’t have the right morals,” he muses. “It’s never been about the money. It’s about putting the acts in front of the public, and doing it properly.”
Cornbury Festival 2017
IQ Magazine July 2018
17.TOWNSVILLE 20.WOODFORD 2.BRISBANE
4. Cairns Cairns Arena 5. Canberra
2. Brisbane Brisbane Entertainment Centre Brisbane Jazz Club Crowbar Foundry QPAC Concert Hall Suncorp Stadium The Brightside The Triffid The Zoo Tivoli Theatre Woolly Mammoth CMC Rocks 3. Byron Bay Bluesfest Splendour In The Grass Secret Sounds
AIS Arena UNIBar The Phoenix Groovin the Moo 6.Darwin Darwin Entertainment Centre 7. Fremantle Fly By Night Fremantle Arts Centre 8. Goulburn Laing Entertainment 9. Melbourne 123 Agency Murphy Petrol Group OneLove Talent Agency
Golden Plains Meredith Music Festival 12. Newcastle Newcastle Entertainment Centre Groovin The Moo 13. Perth
Tamworth Country Music Festival
16. Tarwin Lower Unify
17. Townsville Groovin The Moo
Bluehawk Presents Wangaratta Festival of Jazz & Blues Groovin The Moo Perth Festival 19. Wollongong Southbound Festival WIN Entertainment Centre AEG Ogden - Perth Arena 20. Woodford Amplifier Capitol Woodford Folk Festival Belvoir Amphitheatre Domain Stadium HBF Stadium Mojos Bar Perth Arena
1.AUCKLAND 4.NEW PLYMOUTH
Premier Artists Perth Stadium Way Over There Rosemount Parker + Mr French The Astor Theatre AEG ThemeSTAR 14. Sydney Creative Touring Entertainment Frontier Touring Company Nuffsaid Agency Grande Exhibitions Soapbox Artists Handsome Tours The Harbour Agency Live Nation Australia Chugg Entertainment McManus Entertainment Entertainment Edge Michael Coppel Presents Feel Artist Management O’Brien Group Australia Frontier Touring Van Egmond Group Nine Events Falls Festival T1000 Events / Electric Gardens Port Fairy Folk Festival TheatricHals AAMI Park Worldwide Concerts Cherry Bar Harvest/Pod Etihad Stadium Laneway Festival Festival Hall Acer Arena Forum ICC Margaret Court Arena Allphones Arena Melcourne Cricket Ground ANZ Stadium Northcote Social Club Enmore Theatre Palais Theatre Horden Pavilion Rod Laver Arena Metro Theatre The Corner Hotel Newtown Social Club The Prince Bandroom Oxford Art Factory The Worker Club Qudos Bank Arena Sydney Opera House 10. Newham The Vanguard Hanging Rock
Groovin the Moo WOMADelaide Brian Gleeson Event Management Adelaide Entertainment Centre Adelaide Oval HQ The Gov The Thebby
8.GOULBURN 19.WOLLONGONG 1.ADELAIDE 12.NEWCASTLE 18.WANGARATTA 5.CANBERRA 10.NEWHAM 14.SYDNEY 11.MEREDITH 9.MELBOURNE
8.GOULBURN 19.WOLLONGONG 18.WANGARATTA 5.CANBERRA 10.NEWHAM 11.MEREDITH 9.MELBOURNE
5.WELLINGTON 2.CHRISTCHURCH 3.DUNEDIN
New Zealand 1. Auckland Eccles Entertainment ODR Productions Pool of Talent Auckland City Limits Ragamuffin Music Rhythm & Vines Splore Galatos Logan Campbell Centre Mt Smart Stadium Powerstation Spark Arena Silo Park Studio The Trusts Arena The Tuning Fork 2. Christchurch
AMI Stadium Christchurch Town Hall Dux Live Horncastle Arena Isaac Theatre Royal James Hay Theatre
TSB Showplace 5. Wellington Bodega Michael Fowler Centre Opera House St James Theatre San Fran Shed 6 TSB Bank Arena Westpac Stadium
Map Key Promoter Agent Agent/Promoter Venue Festival
3. Dunedin Dunedin Town Hall Forsyth Barr Stadium
Sammy’s 4. New Plymouth WOMAD Festival The Mayfair TSB Bowl of Brooklands
IQ Magazine July 2018
UP AND DOWN UNDER Record-shattering tours, disappearing festivals, takeovers, ticket touts, and colourful promoters. There’s never a dull moment in the live music scene down under. IQ’s Brisbane-based correspondent, Lars Brandle, spoke with the leading players to get a feel for the billion-dollar-plus Australasian industry that never fails to impress. First, the bad news. Although there are no disasters to speak of. Business is solid, live professionals say, though dotted with hurdles and frustrations. The touring cycle has been in a trough in recent years, according to data published by Live Performance Australia (LPA), which reports that attendance is up, ticket prices are down, and the business has cooled from its lava-hot peak years. The numbers tell just part of the evolving picture. Running shows in Australia and New Zealand has always had its myriad challenges, along with some new ones. But, depending on who you speak with, it also involves some serious rewards. Data published by LPA in October 2017 suggests the business for contemporary music concerts, which include rock, pop and hip-hop shows, has been well down from the banner years earlier in the decade. Contemporary music remains, by far, the biggest category, and is “always the engine room of the live performance industry,” says LPA’s director, policy &
IQ Magazine July 2018
governance, Kim Tran, accounting for more than 30% of all revenue. During 2016, the segment experienced a 7.9% dip to AU$440million (€284m), as attendance grew slightly by 1.9% to 5.7m. Those numbers don’t include box office data from 2017 stadium tours by Justin Bieber or Adele. With a slew of huge tours booked for 2018, and a “golden generation” of Aussie and Kiwi acts crossing borders, many live industry professionals polled by IQ are confident that the industry is in good shape. Business right now is “the strongest I have ever seen for the local artists we represent,” says Stephen Wade, CEO of the Sydney-based Select Music agency, which has Aussie artists The Amity Affliction, The Temper Trap, Boy & Bear; and Kiwi singers Gin Wigmore, Tim Finn, and Ladyhawke on its books. “Many of them have forged paths overseas so this takes pressure off potentially overplaying the Australian market and diminishing their crowds,” explains Wade, who
Contributors (l to r) Michael Chugg, Chugg Entertainment; Stuart Clumpas, Live Nation New Zealand; Harley Evans, Moshtix and The Ticket Group; Roger Field, Live Nation Australasia; Michael Gudinski, Mushroom Group/Frontier Touring; Nigel Melder, Download Australia; Peter Noble, Bluesfest; Maria O’Connor, Ticketmaster Australia & NZ; Rod Pilbeam, AEG Ogden; Evelyn Richardson, Live Performance Australia; Kim Tran, Live Performance Australia; Stephen Wade, Select Music.
won Booking Agent of the Year at the inaugural Industry Observer Awards on 27 March this year. Australia has scored a flurry of goals in the past five years, led by the likes of Sia, Vance Joy, Tame Impala, Flume, Alison Wonderland, 5 Seconds of Summer, Courtney Barnett and more; while the DMA’s, King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, Tash Sultana and others are coming through. New Zealand’s music scene is also on the up, with its best-known export Lorde snagging a No. 1 on the Billboard 200 in 2017 with her second album, Melodrama.
Promoters The concerts landscape of the Great Southern Land is still dominated by “the big four”: Michael Chugg (founder of Chugg Entertainment); Michael Coppel (who was promoted from CEO to chairman of Live Nation Australasia in 2017); Michael Gudinski (chairman of Mushroom Group and head of Frontier Touring); and Paul Dainty (president and CEO of TEG Dainty). That elite circle is proving tough to crack, though the young guard is making its move in a different way. “The Australian festival culture was born out of people trying to find their way into the business without necessarily having to compete with those big businesses,” notes Live Nation’s Roger Field, who stepped up from COO to CEO in 2017. “All of the major promoters were, and are, epic businesses when you look at the turnover. It’s led us to skip a generation of concert promoters, per se, but we’ve got that mid-tier generation in festival producers.”
Mushroom Group chairman Michael Gudinski is basking in the glow of what he describes as the “endless summer” – a freakish period during which his Frontier Touring division set a new company record with “well over two million” ticket sales, and smashed a decades-old record which, for some time, seemed unbreakable. Frontier Touring’s long, hot summer included stadium treks for Paul McCartney (the Beatle’s first dates in these parts for 24 years), Foo Fighters, and Ed Sheeran’s ÷ run, which was like nothing that came before it. ÷ shifted upwards of 1.1 million tickets across both markets, explains Gudinski, detonating the previous record set by Dire Straits on their Brothers in Arms run of 1986, which sold 950,000 tickets. Sheeran’s tour hit 18 stadiums, also a record for a single tour, besting the 14 stadium dates on AC/DC’s 2009 Black Ice Tour. “The company has evolved, we’re innovating, and things just fell into place,” Gudinski tells IQ. “Ed was a freak. But with or without Ed, this would have been a top-5 summer [for Frontier].” Michael Chugg says business has been good, particularly in the first four months of 2018, during which tours by Robbie Williams (selling 50,000 tickets more than his previous tour), Alanis Morissette, Ben Folds, and the annual
“[Ticket discounting is] a disease that will kill the business.” Michael Gudinski – Mushroom Group/Frontier Touring
IQ Magazine July 2018
Australia/New Zealand Melbourne’s Flemington Racecourse hosted Download Festival for its Australian debut in March 2018
CMC Rocks Festival all sold out. Chugg has tours from Elton John, Bob Dylan and others to look forward to but there’s no time for complacency. Talk to an independent promoter down under about the problems they’re tackling and the response is a laundry list. A fluctuating domestic dollar; ticket discounting (“It’s a disease that will kill the business,” says Gudinski); acts being offered unrealistic money with high ticket prices and the wrong venues; and the rogue secondary ticketing market are just a few typical items. For an indie promoter in these parts, Live Nation is never far from the mind. The concert giant continues to flex its muscles in this part of the world, with Taylor Swift slated to play stadiums in both Australia and New Zealand, and Pink poised for another huge arena tour, following a massive stadium trek for Adele in 2017 that shifted more than 650,000 tickets. Live Nation has also made a string of power plays in festivals and venues on both sides of the Tasman. “If you crack it, this is a fantastic market,” explains Field. “We are still, I think, an undiscovered gem in live music. Not only do we punch above our weight in the quality and quantity of events we produce, whether they’re international or local, touring or festivals, but no one has really cracked Asia yet. Australia and New Zealand particularly have the opportunity to be a flywheel to develop stuff and make it grow in Asia, and become feasible.” Scottish-born live industry veteran Stuart Clumpas was recently tapped to lead LN’s activities in New Zealand as chairman of Live Nation New Zealand. Clumpas, co-founder of the UK’s T in the Park and V festivals, has seen NZ’s music community and live infrastructure grow up since he migrated there 17 years ago. “We’ve come so far,” Clumpas says. “Irrespective of how much I love it here, it’s logistically challenged at the edge of the planet. NZ needs a strong international partner. What we’ve done is retain a lot of the
uniqueness of personal touch but also use that muscle to be able to grow the territory, bring more people here, and make more people aware of New Zealand.” Clumpas’s new role accompanies the establishment of the NZ affiliate with three new appointments (Rick Latham, Steve Wheadon and Mark Kneebone) and closely follows LN’s acquisition of a controlling interest in the popular Rhythm & Vines festival. LN completes the triple threat in NZ with festivals and venues (Auckland’s 12,000-capacity Spark Arena, formerly Vector Arena), alongside its concerts business.
Scalping If there’s anything that the big promoters will agree on, it’s Viagogo. No one likes it. But there have been signs that legislators and law enforcers are equally unimpressed with the rogue secondary ticketing market, which in the past 12-18 months has emerged as a hot talking point down under. Back in January, the federal government announced it was considering either an outright ban on bots or a crackdown on reselling tickets for “major events.” The development followed the publication of the Treasury’s consultation paper, Ticket Reselling In Australia, which found that the major ticket-selling platforms used by scalpers included Viagogo, Ticketmaster Resale, eBay and Gumtree.
“Irrespective of how much I love it here, it’s logistically challenged at the edge of the planet.” Stuart Clumpas – Live Nation New Zealand
IQ Magazine July 2018
“ ...those people with the fortitude to be in the business will find, as long as they have the right event, they’ll be ok.” Peter Noble – Bluesfest
The LPA takes a hard line on dodgy ticketing activities. And last year, the trade association took the Turnbull Government to task for dragging its feet on the issue. There was a legislative breakthrough when, in October, the NSW Government banned the use of bots in the state. Separately, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) initiated proceedings in the Federal Court against Viagogo, alleging it breached Australian Consumer Law by reselling tickets. Viagogo is pretty much enemy No. 1 in these parts, though Ticketmaster Resale has been accused of huge mark-ups leading to consumer rights watchdog, Choice, filing a complaint with the ACCC. Maria O’Connor, managing director of Ticketmaster Australia & NZ, brushes off the criticism. “Ticketmaster guarantees every purchase made on Ticketmaster Resale,” she tells IQ. The greatest risk to consumers comes from “those less legitimate ticketing sites, many of which are located offshore.” Australasia’s ticketing industry is dominated by “the big two” – Ticketek and Ticketmaster – with both companies having changed hands in recent years. There are also a handful of significant independent companies, including Moshtix and Oztix, along with scores of small-scale and DIY outfits. Canberra’s plans to reform the secondary space follow a raft of campaigns from the likes of Live Performance Australia and Choice. The peak body last year blasted the Turnbull Government for dragging its feet, and called for national legislation to criminalise bots. “While we acknowledge the NSW Government’s draft legislation to prohibit the use of software to bypass security measures in order to purchase tickets, we are concerned that state-based legislation, unless it is uniform nationally, will be ineffective,” says LPA CEO Evelyn Richardson. Another breakthrough came in March, when cops arrested a 33-year-old man, who was later charged with two counts of fraud after he was found to have scammed Ed Sheeran fans into buying non-existent tickets to one of the Brisbane
concerts. After the bust, Rod Pilbeam, chief operating officer of AEG Ogden, the operator of Suncorp Stadium and other venues, said: “It’s a multimillion-dollar industry that has attracted major criminal groups and tempted major companies to participate in the easy profits that flow from this deceit.” Ticket reselling will be further considered by government ministers (the Legislative and Government Forum on Consumer Affairs) this year. The treasury will review the feedback it has received from submissions and prepare a Decision Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIS) – which is essentially an expanded version of the consultation paper that was released in 2017.
Festivals touring one-day monoliths
once dominated the summer calendar. Now, boutique fests are on the ascent. Falls Festival (now part of Live Nation); Groovin’ The Moo (which made headlines for introducing pill testing at its 2018 shows); and the international Laneway Festival, are among the most popular. Paul Piticco and Jess Ducrou’s mid-winter Splendour in the Grass festival sold out in minutes. The award-winning Bluesfest is gearing up for its 30th anniversary in 2019, a show that its founder and director Peter Noble says is taking shape as a “best of.” Speaking ahead of the Easter 2018 fest, Noble noted, “there’s been a lot of people touring so everyone’s struggling a little bit to get the numbers. I’m hearing there’s quite a late buy-out there, and those people with the fortitude to be in the business will find, as long as they have the right event, they’ll be ok.” Much has changed on the summer calendar in recent years, with the four biggest touring fests all disappearing (Big Day Out, Future Music Festival, Soundwave, and Stereosonic), a situation that extracted roughly one million annual ticket sales from the industry. The great disappearing act doesn’t stop there. China’s leading EDM festival Storm had intended to blast into Australia with a Sydney event on 9 December 2017. That date was shelved and has not yet been rescheduled. On the flip side, with those titans out of the way, ambitious promoters are pursuing opportunities, with a pair of international EDM brands among the key new arrivals. The Dutch-originated Sensation fest came to Sydney’s Olympic Park in November 2017 with a bill led by Canadian DJ and producer Deadmau5, while Ultra Music Festival launched in Australia with a February date at Melbourne’s
“It’s a multimillion-dollar industry that has attracted major criminal groups, and tempted major companies to participate in the easy profits that flow from this deceit.” Rod Pilbeam – AEG Ogden
Horncastle Arena in Christchurch will host shows by Queens of the Stone Age and Bob Dylan in August 2018
IQ Magazine July 2018
Sidney Myer Music Bowl, headlined by Dutch DJ Afrojack and Swedish duo Axwell & Ingrosso. Fans of the harder stuff got a hit from the Download Festival brand, which was introduced to Australia with a one-date event on 24 March in Melbourne, featuring a line-up of Korn, Limp Bizkit, Prophets of Rage, NOFX and more. Presented by Live Nation, UNIFIED & Secret Sounds, Download will return in 2019 and expand with a date in Sydney. Just don’t expect it to morph into a national trek in the mould of the now-defunct Big Day Out or Soundwave fests. “If we wanted to aim for something that is monolithic, it’d probably fall over pretty quickly,” explains Download Australia programmer Nigel Melder. “Because of the geographic isolation, and it depends on the dollar, it’ll be very hard to put up a heavy festival of that size ever again. Maybe in ten years’ time it’ll be a different situation.” Almost 30,000 attended the inaugural event, according to reports. Consolidation has been a factor, most notably when Live Nation last year acquired a 51% stake in Secret Sounds, which presents Splendour in the Grass and the traveling Falls Festival.
Venues Promoters and agents have long complained about the softness of the industry in Perth and Adelaide, not to mention the costs involved in staging shows in those remote capitals. The constant churn of live music venues is also an issue. Sydney’s contentious lockout laws have put venue operators under real pressure, with 176 licensed premises closing their doors since the state government rolled out its regulations in February 2014, as the second hearing of the NSW Parliamentary inquiry into the music and arts learned on 28 May. The inquiry was established in November 2017 to investigate the music and arts economy in NSW, which many say has been damaged by the introduction of lockout laws in central Sydney and Kings Cross, which include a 1.30am lockout and a cease-service from 3am. Chugg wants to see an end to these “stupid” laws that he says are “killing the vibe.” When The Basement, a famed, 45-year-old venue in Circular Quay, suddenly closed its doors in early 2018, there was a public outcry that saw protestors demonstrating outside the NSW Parliament. Musician and entrepreneur Albert Dadon has since bought the name and assets, and is said to be looking at his options for a new site. “It’s great that Ed Sheeran can shift a million tickets in Australia on one tour,” says Harley Evans, managing director and owner, Moshtix and The Ticket Group, “but if we continue to lose venues like The Basement in Sydney, and emerging local and international artists can’t route decent tours because we don’t have a viable national venue footprint to sustain it, we’re going to lose something incredibly valuable.” Christchurch-based venue owner Vbase is reaping the rewards of the local population’s demand for entertainment. “Horncastle Arena had another record-breaking year last year, with attendances well up on 2016/2017,” says Vbase executive Turlough Carolan. “The demand for the arena is unprecedented. 2018/2019 is already shaping up to be another big year for us with acts like Dynamo, Disney On Ice, Queens of the Stone Age, Bob Dylan, David Byrne and
“Because of the geographic isolation … it’ll be very hard to put up a heavy festival of that size ever again.” Nigel Melder – Download Australia two sold-out Michael McIntyre shows already lined up. We also have the iconic Christchurch Town Hall (2,400-cap) and James Hay Theatre (750) reopening in March 2019. We are extremely excited about bringing the Town Hall and James Hay back online, which will add a whole new dimension to the Christchurch live entertainment scene, which has been lacking since 2011.” Meanwhile, Australia’s third city, Brisbane, will gain a new 3,500-capacity venue in 2019. The multimilliondollar project in Fortitude Valley is the brainchild of Scott Hutchinson, CEO of construction giant Hutchinson Builders; former Powderfinger bassist John “JC” Collins; and the band’s former manager and co-CEO of Secret Sounds Group, Paul Piticco. The triumvirate also spearheaded the 800-capacity Triffid venue in nearby Newstead, which opened its doors in 2014 and has been booked solid ever since. Michael Gudinski, who attributes his son Matt, also an executive at the Melbourne-based Mushroom Group, for helping reinvigorate the indie powerhouse, has the last word. “There is life left in bands, and there’s a reality that there will be massive hit songs in the top 10 that wouldn’t see a 1,000-capacity pub. The times, they are a changing. But great music will always come back and stand up – it’s cyclic. And at the moment, within the labels, there’s a great group of Australian and NZ artists who could explode.”
Ed Sheeran played three nights at Auckland’s Mt. Smart Stadium as part of his 2018 record-breaking tour of Australasia
IQ Magazine July 2018
The pressure of supplying staging and infrastructure to the thousands of music festivals, as well as the various arena and summer stadium shows, is getting higher year-on-year. Richard Smirke talks to some of the valiant operators that are juggling their steel inventory to satisfy the ever-growing live music industry…
aving worked in the live entertainment and staging industry for over three decades, pioneering many of the innovations that are now standard practice, Hedwig De Meyer jokes that he has an impossible dream for making his professional life just that little bit easier. “The biggest thing would be if the summer seasons in Europe and America were at different times of the year,” says the founder and president of Stageco, one of the world’s biggest staging companies, which counts global stadium tours by Beyoncé & Jay-Z, The Stones, Taylor Swift, Kenny Chesney, and Guns ‘N Roses among its recent productions. De Meyer’s tongue-in-cheek fantasy may be an impossible reality but with the festival and outdoor concert season now in full swing throughout the northern hemisphere it does illustrate some of the pressures that those working in the staging, tracking and rigging area of the live industry face during peak summer season. This year is no different, says De Meyer, who like many in the sector says 2018 is shaping up to be another extremely busy 12 months.
“Worldwide, you can feel that the economy is doing really well. There is a lot of international touring taking place and the scene globally is in really good shape. But that also puts pressure on resources – on trucking and steel. Dealing with peaks in the work is always the biggest problem and every year is different, so it’s very hard to schedule for and get the right people,” reflects De Meyer, whose Belgium-based company operates eight international offices including the US, Germany, Netherlands and France. Meagaforce managing director Michael Brombacher says his company’s most amazing project this year is Helene Fischer’s stadium tour across 12 cities in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. “In shortest preparation time we engineered and produced a stage construction, satisfying the artist’s high quality needs and extraordinary design,” says Brombacher. “Various scenic and kinetic requirements had to be considered and implemented. We constructed three sets of the stage system, each touring with a Megaforce head crew and additional staff.” He adds that with a width of 62m, depth of 57m and height of 27m, each stage system required 20 trucks to transport it.
IQ Magazine July 2018
Gearhouse provided stage equipment for Chance the Rapper’s appearance at Castle Lite at the Ticketpro Dome in Johannesburg. Photo: Duncan Riley
For Peter Holdich, head of structures at UK-based Star Events, the past few months have been some of the busiest he can remember. “We’ve just had so much activity across the country, it’s been amazing. There’s been a lot of touring. The festivals market is still very buoyant. So far, the summer has been phenomenal.” Notable Star Events productions in 2018 include the inaugural Neighbourhood Weekender in Warrington, AEG Presents’ first All Points East festival in Victoria Park, London, and British Summer Time, Hyde Park. On the other side of the world, Star’s Shanghai operation has been equally active fielding significant enquiries for stages, structures and rigging from a range of arenas, music and esports shows, says Holdich. “It’s been a very fast start to the UK summer season and the pace has not dropped,” elaborates Serious Stages’ Max Corfield. He says that even with its biggest client, Glastonbury festival, taking a year off, 2018 has seen the Bristol-based company supply a record number of structures to festivals. Numbered among them is The BBC Biggest Weekend, Parklife,
“There’s been a lot of touring. The festivals market is still very buoyant. So far, the summer has been phenomenal.” Peter Holdich, Star Events
IQ Magazine July 2018
Download, Wireless and Isle of Wight Festival, while outdoor shows from Lionel Ritchie and Little Mix has seen Serious run three touring stage systems over back to back weekends. In developing markets like South Africa, the picture is more mixed but there’s still been a “definite upturn in the number of live events,” reports Robyn D’Alessandro of staging and technical supply company Gearhouse, which counts Ultra South Africa, Vivo Nation and Johannesburg’s AfroPunk festivals among its recent projects. “However, times are tough and budgets are still lower than before,” D’Alessandro warns. “One of the challenges [we face] is the extreme price war that this culture has resulted in. Unfortunately, you usually get what you pay for and sometimes clients are encouraging suppliers to keep [cost] cutting to the detriment of standards and safety within the industry.” Thankfully, health and safety remains the number one priority for the majority of people working in the live business, although ever-tightening budgets and shorter lead times are a common concern for those working in the staging and rigging sectors. “If I look back at a show from 20 years ago of the size that we’re doing now, we would have double the amount of time to do it, so everything is a lot tighter. Also the venues are busier, so you do not have the access you always want. If I see the amount of night shifts we are doing just to deal with the busy
Contributors Stuart Andrews, Gearhouse; Robyn D’Alessandro, Gearhouse; Hedwig De Meyer, Stageco; Max Corfield, Serious Stages; Peter Holdich, Star Events; Coni Monroe, Elko Wire Rope; Okan Tombulca, eps; Jeroen Hallaert, PRG; Michael Brombacher, Megaforce.
“…sometimes clients are encouraging suppliers to keep [cost] cutting to the detriment of standards and safety within the industry.” Robyn D’Alessandro, Gearhouse schedules of the different stadiums – wow, it’s challenging,” notes De Meyer. He says that Stageco generally asks for three days to set-up a show, encompassing one production day, one show day, and a load-out day. “But very often we don’t get it. Often, we only get two days.” “Venues are looking for maximum utilisation and a lot of the sports stadiums have got a very short window where you use the stadium for non-sporting activities,” agrees Holdich. “That does put pressure on your build and load-out schedules,
but we get a lot of upfront information from our clients that allows us to handle those logistics. There’s always pressure on the bottom line, but we always try to respond to that and rise to the challenge.” Nevertheless, last-minute changes to specs can have “a huge knock-on effect on projects,” warns Corfield. “We’re geared up to be flexible and accommodate changes, but I do get concerned that staff welfare and health and safety could be potentially compromised in the rush to get everything done,” he cautions, noting that “margins and timescales have squeezed across the industry,” limiting what companies can pay staff and invest in training. As a result, Serious is one of a number of staging firms that has been pro-active in improving safety standards across the industry, and in 2015 created a ‘best practice’ guidance document for the installation and removal of stages and large demountable structures. “We’ve seen this positively shape our
Megaforce built the spectacular stage for Helene Fischer’s 2017 stadium tour in Germany, Switzerland and Austria
IQ Magazine July 2018
“If I see the amount of night shifts we are doing just to deal with the busy schedules of the different stadiums – wow, it’s challenging.” Hedwig De Meyer, Stageco own working practices and processed and the way in which the Health and Safety Executive and licensing officers deal with us,” he states. Corfield adds that he’s firmly of the opinion that steel is the best material for load-bearing stages “and it seems that most promoters now concur that aluminium stages are a bigger risk.” Although welcome, a thriving live music business has other additional consequences for staging companies heavily reliant on a limited supply of trained riggers and technicians, the majority of which are employed on a freelance and seasonal basis. “At the peak months there’s always a pressure on resources – human and physical,” explains Holdich, who echoes the widely held view that there is a worrying shortage of skilled personnel across the whole of the staging and rigging industry. “We’re very lucky to retain a good core of our own people. Some of them have been with us for over 25 years now and keep coming back to us season after season, so we’re able to manage that and move people around the country efficiently and safely, but it is an issue.” Okan Tombulca, managing director of Germany-based infrastructure specialists eps, says that the growing number of tours on the road means that it is increasingly becoming
involved with shows at an earlier stage. “There are much more shows in a shorter time with far higher health and safety demands so we have to think way ahead. Some customers have started to do their planning based on the availability of the crew. It might happen that you start two weeks earlier with site preparation because the crew is available,” he reports, stressing the importance of bringing “more young people into the business” to help alleviate the pressure on resources. Stageco’s De Meyer identifies the importance of developing a year-round roster of clients to retain good staff. For Stageco, that’s meant diversification into the world of fashion, with the company providing infrastructure for London and Paris Fashion Weeks over the past two years, including a bespoke stage for Louis Vuitton. Star Events has also expanded its client base to cover operations during the winter to keep its core team busy 12 months of the year. “That means that when we need to upscale we’ve got support from good agencies that enables us to deliver shows,” says Holdich. Other external factors that can place additional pressure on the tightly budgeted staging and rigging business include fluctuations in the financial markets, new global trade tariffs, and a rise in the cost of raw materials. A recent increase in the price of steel, for instance, resonates throughout the whole industry, says Coni Monroe of Arizona-based Elko Wire Rope, which provides a range of manufactured rigging products and hardware to the entertainment and live music industry across the United States. “In the past few months, we’ve had some of our vendors’ prices go up,” she explains. “It hasn’t hit the entertainment
Staging sector yet as they have been able to absorb the price increases at this point, but in the future, who knows. Some companies are stocking up and some companies are holding off to see what happens. I’m just keeping my fingers crossed. All of Europe is going to be impacted by these price rises.”
ne constant demand on those working in the sector is the need to deliver increasingly innovative and sophisticated bespoke stage set-ups for A-list stars keen to ensure their shows look radically different from the next. In Star Events’ case, that meant working in conjunction with OPS Structures to design and build two completely new state-of-the-art stages for Adele’s 2017 in-the-round stadium tour. To ensure optimum sound, eight main hangs of V-Dosc K1 and K2 speaker stacks were suspended 25metres in the air, while the production control equipment was built into two shipping containers that form the heart of the production area suspended high above the stage. Other features of the upgraded VerTech configuration (named VerTech Ultra) included four 100ton-capacity Ultra towers and a suspended 14m octagonal witch’s hat roof protecting the main performance area from rain and sun and providing additional rigging points. In addition to winning plaudits from across the live industry, the innovative stage set-up was recognised with an award from The Institution of Structural Engineers. “We were immensely proud of that,” reflects Holdich of the construction that he says, “pushed the boundaries of engineering capabilities.” Megaforce’s Brombacher states, “The biggest challenge is to fulfil all needs in one stage – the needs of the artist, the designer, the production, the lighting company, the sound
company, etc. Every stage and its loads have to have a static calculation for which we have a static engineer in-house. All our stage systems are certified for wind force up to 12. So, to keep the quality and safety on a high level, fulfilling all requests is a real daily challenge.” Stageco’s stage set-up for U2’s 2017 Joshua Tree trek was equally ground-breaking, incorporating a 200ft-wide and 40ftdeep stage and, at the time, the largest and highest resolution LED video screen (8K) ever used in a touring show, stretching the full length of the stage. Designed by Stufish Entertainment Architects and U2’s long-time creative director Willie Williams, the configuration required Stageco to custom-build structural beams to cantilever the PA and lighting high above the video screen so as to not obscure the visuals. The company is using a similar set-up for Taylor Swift’s 2018 Reputation tour, while huge LED video screens have become a constant feature of stadium tours the world over. “LED video has changed everything from a design point of view,” says De Meyer. “If you look at all the big shows that are on the road now, from Metallica to Taylor Swift to Beyoncé, they all have huge video screens. The line between video and lighting is disappearing. It’s all becoming one.” “Lighting and LED screens have become technologies that have almost converged, with LED-based lighting fixtures being used as low-resolution screens for effects, LED screens being used as light sources and as backdrops,” corroborates Stuart Andrews, branch operations manager at South Africa-based Gearhouse. He says that rising ticket prices mean that music fans are placing more importance than ever on getting value for money, “which in turn is educating event organisers. Consequently, one has a far more knowledgeable client base who are design conscious and constantly on the look-out for innovation.”
Star Events built the X Stage at AEG’s inaugural All Points East festival in London
IQ Magazine July 2018
Staging The Isle of Wight Festival 2018 main stage was erected by Serious Stages
Looking to the future, Andrews envisages technology playing an even greater role in the art of stage construction “delivering ever more elaborate solutions” and driving “personalised event experiences for each attendee, all based on new tech, to change and create the environment.” Meeting that challenge, while ensuring the highest safety standards, is simply par for the course for those working in the industry, insiders tell IQ. Brombacher believes dance music is driving changes in the stage design business. “More and more DJs have special constructions on which their ‘cockpit’ is placed – well designed according to the music style they are playing, changing from venue to venue. Event scaffolding therefore is the one and only way to realise the needs of EDM.” Brian Arnold, director of sales for Minneapolis-based Staging Concepts, says that about 250 production companies across the United States use his staging equipment. “Often, our equipment is cross-rented between multiple companies within the same region,” he notes. Asked about challenges, Arnold comments, “Adhering to specific codes and regulations can sometimes create a more challenging design and manufacturing process, but with more than 50 degreed engineers in-house, these challenges simply encourage us to boost our methods and continually think creatively.” “The industry is becoming increasingly professional and I hope that continues,” says Serious Stages’ Corfield. “I really
“At the peak months there’s always a pressure on resources – human and physical.” Peter Holdich, Star Events
IQ Magazine July 2018
hope that accountancy and process controls don’t quash creativity and take the fun out of it, but at the end of the day we always want to work safely and more than anything I see that being the major theme over the next few years.” There will also be a greater focus on green and ecological issues, predicts Jeroen Hallaert, director of US-based Project Resource Group (PRG), which designed and built LED screens for U2’s Joshua Tree tour, as well its followup eXPERIENCE + iNNOCENCE trek. He credits the band with driving “a shift into a more ecological way of thinking” and credits recent PRG innovations such as its rolling video floor risers and Spaceframe carbon-fiber touring frame (which keeps rigging and support structure invisible from audience view) with offering “creative uses that meet artists’ visions,”but also reduce the trucking and airplane space needed to ship staging around the world. “This equates to fuel and cost savings,” explains Hallaert. “We feel we’re really on the verge of major changes and innovations in the world of concert touring,” he states, citing PRG’s work on Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s ground-breaking On the Run II Tour – which incorporated a 160-feet-wide revolving LED video screen and a four-story high “performer wall” in front of another LED wall – as an awe-inspiring demonstration of how ‘staged architecture’ is transforming the live business. “Today, screens are cheaper and more sophisticated, and there’s such an integration between the performers and the images shown behind them, we really have to think of video screens as just another instrument,” says Hallaert. “Yes, there will be AR and VR, drones and mobile phones [increasingly] integrated in the show, but the connection between band and audience is still primordial. And that experience will always be a live one.”
LIVE NATION’S Anna Sjölund, Blixten Henriksson of Blixten & Co, and Stockholm Live staffers Marie Lindqvist and Stefan Gustavson were among the Swedes who were in Nizhny Novgorod to see their national team win against South Korea.
TICKETMASTER INTERNATIONAL communications director Katie White became Katie Roberts when she married Sam at a ceremony in Norfolk, England.
UTA AGENT TOM TAAFFE once again tries to take all the credit for Sophie’s hard work as he relaxes in the garden with two-year-old Asher and newest arrival, Joshua.
Marine UTA’S OLIVER WARD married e-etJoigneault at La Ferté Abbey in Saôn Loire, France.
PROMOTING YOUROPE’S Take A Stand campaign at Pohoda Festival were Holger Jan Schmidt (Take A Stand), Claire O’Neill (A Greener Festival), Pohoda promoter Michal Kaščák, Robert Meijerink (Eurosonic Noorderslag), IQ’s Gordon Masson, artist managers Tana Lehocka & Mário Gešvantner, and SoundCzech export office founder Márton Náray.
RUSSIAN PROMOTER Semyon Galperin and his father Aleksandr travelled to Samara for the home nation’s 3-0 defeat to Uruguay.
LONDON STADIUM’S Danielle Russell, husband Liam and daughter Lexi welcome home the latest additions to the family, twins Kadie and Chloe.
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 email@example.com
IQ Magazine July 2018
The Agony Page
Dear Auntie Alex... IQ’s resident agony aunt, Alex Hardee, gives fellow professionals who have been suffering sleepless nights (for all the wrong reasons), the benefit of her worldly experience.
Q: I’m managing a hot, new act and the agencies are queuing up to sign them. How do I decide on which agent to trust? Quizzical of Quebec
Auntie Alex says: ‘Trust’ is not a word usually associated with agents. In fact, ‘trusted agent’ is an oxymoron, much like ‘sports personality.’ The reason snakes bite agents is out of professional courtesy. Q: I’ve just found out that there is an outstanding arrest warrant for my headliner’s lead guitarist and police are planning to arrest him when he comes off stage. If the band cancels, I’m not confident about my ticket sales. Ethically, am I bound to tell the act’s management? Lost of London
Auntie Alex says: I am confused. You seem to be implying that you have a guitar band as a headliner. It’s 2018, mate, get with the programme – have you not heard of grime? Q: I’m having the biggest summer of my life with sold-out shows everywhere, sponsors renewed for next year, and festivals so hot that I had to bring in emergency beer tankers from three neighbouring countries. I’m fucking minted. What do I do with all this money before the taxman finds out? Moneybags of Munich
Auntie Alex says: Do what ET did and become a nonresident alien.
Q: I’m launching a new event and thanks to some wealthy investors, I have a big budget, but I cannot get any agents to give me headliners. What am I doing wrong? Flummoxed of Finland
Auntie Alex says: It’s probably because you’re not actually offering them the money. But you also live in Finland and it’s a bastard to get to. Q: I have been approached by a multinational corporation who say that if I don’t sell up to them, they will start a rival company to put me out of business. Should I just give up? Bullied of Buenos Aires
Auntie Alex says: These big companies usually get what they want in the end, so yes. Q: I’m dealing with a very angry but powerful US agent who keeps calling me at 4am. How can I subtly educate this guy about time zones without losing the three acts I am negotiating on for my festival? Livid of Leipzig
Auntie Alex says: As I’ve always said when asked why I take an instant dislike to Americans – it’s because it saves time. Educating an American is impossible. I know people say nothing is impossible, but some things are – try putting a shit back up your arse with a spatula. Point proven.
Q: I’ve struggled to build a credible roster for the last 15 years. What other career paths are possible after so long as an agent?
Q: I’ve had to remortgage my house to fund this year’s festival and I’ve just lost my major sponsor. My wife is threatening to leave me if we have to rent a new house. What would you do (and can I have my deposits back)?
Confused of Copenhagen
Anxious of Auckland
Auntie Alex says: You need to use the skills you acquired in your previous career, so: hitman, lawyer, traffic warden,; president of the United States... Or any other job that requires absolutely no moral compass whatsoever.
Auntie Alex says: I have several properties currently unoccupied that I am willing to rent at reasonable prices. So the actual question is: can I have my deposit, please? – six months upfront should be fine.
Do you have a burning issue (or sensation) that you’d like help with? Then email your dilemma to Auntie Alex via firstname.lastname@example.org
IQ Magazine July 2018
IQ Magazine issue 78, July 2018