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Roberto De Luca’s Life in Music Touring and Mental Health 30 Years of Wacken Open Air IFF 2019 Preview Touring Exhibitions Report Breakthrough Moments

Contents IQ Magazine Issue 84 Cover photo: Fuji Rock Festival

News and Developments

8 In Tweets The main headlines over the last two months 10 In Depth Key stories and news analysis from around the live music world 14 New Signings & Rising Stars A round-up of the latest acts that have been added to the rosters of international agents 20 Techno Files Revealing the cutting-edge tech that’s helping our 21st century business




22 International Festival Forum 2019 Five reasons why agents and festival bookers should be at IFF 24 My Breakthrough Moment A trio of ILMC members reveal defining moments in their careers 26 Event Safety & Security Summit 2019 Europe’s live entertainment security professionals prepare for the third E3S 28  A High Cost: Mental Health and Touring Anna Grace talks to those at the frontline of improving mental health and wellbeing 32 Land of the Rise in Fun Adam Woods learns that hefty investment in infrastructure could prompt a growth surge in Japan’s live music business 48 Livin’ La Vita De Luca Live Nation Italy’s Roberto De Luca marks 40 years in music 62 Exporting Creativity Derek Robertson explores the ever growing touring exhibitions sector 74 Wacken to the Jungle Metal paradise Wacken Open Air prepares for its 30th anniversary





Comments and Columns

16 The Green Arena Judith Clumpas explains how Auckland’s Spark Arena has radically tackled its single-use packaging issues 17 “Green Policies” or Grey? Neo Sala vents about the cancellation of Doctor Music Festival 18  Innovation, Inspiration, Evolution Claire O’Neill comments on the current and future developments in the live music industry’s impact on the environment 19 GDPR and Managing Mailing Lists Lawyer Rob Eakins outlines some of the basic requirements that artists and companies need to fulfil when dealing with data collection and usage 84 Members’ Noticeboard ILMC members’ photos 86 Demanding Bosses “What’s the weirdest request you’ve had from a boss or client?”

IQ Magazine July 2019





Hot Town Summer in the City Gordon Masson finds a shady spot, out of the sun, as festival season kicks off At the time of writing, Glastonbury Festival has just wrapped for another year and rather than taking several kilos of mudladen clothes home with them, the masses are returning to normality with sun burn, as the UK experienced three days of the heat wave that has been scorching the rest of Europe for a couple of weeks. With event organisers throughout the continent preparing to deal with drought rather than flood, that could change in a heart-beat, of course, as climate change undoubtedly creates a monthly record for wettest or hottest or stormiest. That said, I wish everyone involved in our glorious outdoor season all the very best for the coming weeks and that you all set positive records of your own in 2019, despite signs that there might be a bit of a ticket sales slowdown this year (see page 12). Talking of records, it’s looking like this year could set a new one in terms of corporate takeovers, as our story on page 10 notes – tracking just some of the deals during the first half of the year across the entire live entertainment industry. In a similar vein, our business analysis examines multiple moves in the venues business and agency sector, where the global arms race for market share is increasing in intensity. Also in this issue we visit Japan for the first time in many years (page 32), where Adam Woods learns that next year’s Tokyo Olympics have taken some wellknown venues out of the equation for live music. However, with those buildings being refurbished and others under construction, the long-term prospects for concerts and events appears positive. One event that enjoys its fair share of positivity is Wacken Open Air, which

this year celebrates its 30th edition (see page 74) with yet another sell out, as metal fans from around the world descend upon the tiny German village the event calls home. And on the subject of anniversaries, I had the pleasure of spending some time with Italian promoter supreme, Roberto De Luca, during production rehearsals for Vasco Rossi’s latest tour. With De Luca marking 40 years in music (page 48), his story is fascinating, while his incredible work ethic should provide anyone involved in live music with inspiration. Elsewhere, Derek Robertson provides our annual health check on the touring exhibitions sector (page 62) and learns about the differences of opinion between producers when it comes to engaging with young people of the Instagram generation. Anna Grace, meanwhile, talks to some of the people who are working tirelessly to highlight welfare and mental health in the workplace (page 28), and hears that support for those who have chosen a career in music might be improving, but there’s still a long way to go. And while we’re in an informative mood, we’ve also provided you with an idea of what to expect at this year’s International Festival Forum (page 22) and Event Safety and Security Summit (page 26). Hopefully, I will see you at one, or both, of those events, but chances are I’ll see a lot of you before the end of the summer, somewhere in a field in Europe. I’m packing sun screen, favourite band t-shirts and a canoe, just to prepare for all eventualities…


IQ Magazine July 2019



IQ Magazine

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


ILMC and Suspicious Marketing


Gordon Masson

News Editor Jon Chapple

Staff Writer Anna Grace

Associate Editor Allan McGowan

Advertising & Sales Manager Steven Woollett


Martin Hughes

Sub Editor

Michael Muldoon

Editorial Assistants

Imogen Battersby and Ben Delger


Judith Clumpas, Rob Eakins, Claire O’Neill, Derek Robertson, Neo Sala, Manfred Tari, Adam Woods

Editorial Contact

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

Advertising Contact

Steven Woollett, Tel: +44 (0)20 3743 0304

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



In Tweets... Superstruct Entertainment invests in Down the Drain Group, forming a partnership with the largest independent concert and festival promoter in Denmark. Live Nation grows revenue 17% to $1.7billion (€1.5bn) in Q1 2019, bolstered by sponsorship and its “flywheel” concert business. Operating loss was $24million (€21m). Former WME Nashville partner Rob Beckham joins forces with Nashvillebased manager Bill Simmons to launch new management company Artist Management Group (AMG). The UK’s Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) publishes its fourth report into the effects of Brexit on music professionals, identifying future work in EU countries as a key issue for musicians post-Brexit. The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) issues a call to major British retailers, including Argos and Tesco, to stop marketing and selling ‘festival tents’ as single-use items. BookMyShow, India’s largest online ticketing company, expands into the Middle East after signing a five-year deal with AEG Ogden’s Coca-Cola Arena in Dubai. UK-based indie Ticketline announces the launch of its fan-to-fan ticket resale platform, Fanticks. At The Great Escape, Music Venue Trust (MVT) announces a new £1.5m (€1.7m) Arts Council England fund dedicated to grassroots live music, alongside several other industry-led initiatives. DHP Family makes the “difficult decision” to close London venue the Borderline, after more than 30 years hosting acts including Debbie Harry, Blur, Muse, Amy Winehouse and The 1975. Live Nation Denmark acquires Danish booking agency and artist management company PDH Music. The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launches an investigation into LN-Gaiety Holdings’


BTS, Wembley


planned merger with Irish promoter MCD Productions, joining its counterpart in Ireland. The Royal Albert Hall hosts the first meeting of the UK National Arts Wellbeing Collective, a new initiative dedicated to promoting wellbeing and mental health in the arts sector. Festival Republic announces Gunnersville Festival, a new tented concert series taking place in London’s Gunnersbury Park in September, featuring Doves, The Specials and You Me at Six. Theatre ticketing platform TodayTix raises $73m (€64m) in an equity investment-round led by Great Hill Partners. Ticketmaster launches SafeTix, adding anti-counterfeiting features to digital tickets and providing event owners with more data about event attendees. Four Eventim-controlled Italian promoters pledge to take legal action after being accused of abusing their market position by rivals during a TV programme. French president Emmanuel Macron pledges to create a €225m public fund to benefit creative companies in the country, and warns against growing US and Chinese dominance in the sector. Advanced Music SL, the promoter of Barcelona’s Sónar festival, acquires a stake in Paraíso Sonoro SL, the company behind fledgling Madrid electronic music event, Paraíso. Nearly 70% of women working in India’s music industry have experienced some form of sexual harassment,

a nationwide survey reveals. Sofar Sounds, the ‘secret gig’ platform that stages shows in people’s living rooms, secures a $25m (€22m) funding round, bringing total investment to a reported $31m (€27m). Festival bosses identify economic uncertainty, homogenisation and difficulty booking talent, as the likely factors behind a quieter-than-normal summer in the UK. Under the Green Nation banner, Live Nation commits to new environmental goals for all its owned and operated venues, clubs, theatres and festivals. Endeavor Group Holdings, Inc., the parent company of WME Entertainment, formally declares its intention to go public, filing for an initial public offering (IPO), or stock market launch, with US regulators. Anatic, which represents Spain’s secondary ticketing sector, issues a warning against the conduct of many ticket resale operators in the country. CISAC votes to expel Spanish collection society SGAE for a one-year period, following the society’s failure to convince the body of its “commitment to reform.” Ticketmaster introduces digital ticketing technology across all SMG Europe-operated venues in the UK, beginning with the 21,000-capacity Manchester Arena. DEAG becomes the latest major live music player to invest in the fast-growing e-sports sector, acquiring a minority stake in ally4ever Entertainment, a specialist gaming events agency.

IQ Magazine July 2019


@iq_mag JUNE The first-ever US edition of Primavera Sound will take place next year in Los Angeles, California, festival co-producer Live Nation announces. DEAG announces the acquisition of a majority stake in Stuttgart-based C2 Concerts. BTS-mania hits London for a second time, with the Korean pop superstars making history by playing to 120,000 people over two nights at Wembley Stadium – and another 140,000 fans across the world via a €25-a-head livestream. Live Nation acquires Poland’s leading club promoter, Go Ahead. Live Nation’s Women Nation Fund announces the three beneficiaries of its round of funding. TAIT, the US-based production/staging equipment powerhouse, acquires Kinesys, a London-based company that designs, manufactures and sells motioncontrol systems. In a further obstacle for foreign artists braving an already complex application process, the American Department of State declares that it now requires “social media identifiers” to be included in nearly all applications for US visas. Live Nation joins forces with Appelgren Friedner, a Stockholm-based booking agency representing some of Sweden’s most popular artists. Pan-Baltic media group Ekspress Grupp announces the acquisition of Biļešu Paradīze, the second-largest entertainment ticket agency in Latvia. AEG-backed ticket agency AXS partners with YouTube to allow fans to purchase tickets to live events through the video-streaming platform. Eventbrite shareholders initiate a classaction lawsuit against the ticketing and events company, alleging they were misled at the time of the company’s initial public offering in September 2018. Cardi B cancels her appearance at the

UK’s Parklife festival, as she continues to recover from cosmetic surgery procedures. Mirroring the rash of scams that targeted European and Latin American promoters in 2016–17, concert organisers in Asia are warned to be on their guard after a surge in phishing emails from bogus “agents.” DEAG acquires a 50.1% interest in I-Motion GmbH, the German division of electronic music behemoth, LiveStyle. Sam Gores, founder, chairman and CEO of Paradigm Talent Agency, confirms there will be no takeover of his business by UTA, telling Paradigm staff that he turned down an offer that “would have represented one of the largest” acquisitions in the history of the agency sector. AEG signs an agreement with CJ Group, South Korea’s largest media conglomerate, to open a new arena and entertainment complex in Seoul. Live Nation launches Electronic Nation, a new electronic music-focused division led by Scott Barton, in the UK. With under ten weeks until kick-off, the still permit-less Woodstock 50 loses both its venue, the Watkins Glen International racetrack in New York state, and production partner CID Entertainment. Broadwick Venues unveils plans for a new 10,000-capacity venue on the site of a derelict former railway station in Manchester, UK. Just weeks from opening its doors, Doctor Music Festival calls time on its revived event (see page 17). The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) holds its first workshop examining online ticket sales, inviting lawmakers, academics and industry representatives to examine consumer protection issues in how event tickets are sold on the Internet. E-sports industry revenues are on track to exceed $900m (€791m) this year, and poised to break the billion-dollar mark in 2020, reveals new report by market research firm Futuresource Consulting. Mainland Europe’s music festivals are experiencing a similarly slow season to their counterparts in Britain, hurt by

repetitive line-ups, rising ticket prices and – potentially – wider societal changes in entertainment consumption, say festival associations and operators. Oak View Group (OVG) partners with Live Nation to build and run a new entertainment and sports arena in Santa Giulia in Milan (see page 11). CTS Eventim says its lawyers are looking into the ramifications of a European Court of Justice ruling that found a planned German motorway toll – to be collected by a company 50% owned by Eventim – is in violation of EU law. DEAG makes its third promoter acquisition of the month, acquiring a majority stake in Live Music Production (LMP) and Live Music Entertainment (LME), the leading concert organisers in francophone Switzerland. Live Nation, which has had a controlling interest in Tennessee-based Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival since 2015, announces its intention to buy out the rest of the festival from its cofounder, Superfly. AEG Europe, owner and operator of London’s O2 Arena, created a residents’ group (Newham Action Group), to oppose rival Madison Square Garden’s plans for a new venue in east London, according to an investigation by The Times. The UK’s Y Not Festival, in Derbyshire, the ex-Global event notably not acquired by either Superstruct or Broadwick when they divvied up that company’s festivals in April, returns to the control of previous owner Count of Ten. FKP Scorpio celebrates its most successful weekend event, taking nearly €50m from Hurricane and Southside festivals and two record-breaking Ed Sheeran shows. To subscribe to IQ Magazine: An annual subscription to IQ is £75 (print) or £60 (electronic).

Want to share your views on breaking industry news? Then get involved in the discussion on Twitter: @iq_mag

IQ Magazine July 2019



Movers and Shakers PRS for Music has named Andrea C. Martin as its new chief executive, replacing Robert Ashcroft who held the role for ten years. She was previously president and CEO of three international business units with Reader’s Digest Association, managing director of data services for the Royal Mail in the UK, and president of ADT Canada. In her new role, she will lead an organisation of 500 people across two London sites, and three joint ventures, representing 140,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers.

Agency for the Performing Arts (APA) has promoted partner and agent Steve Lassiter, who has been with the agency since 1998, to co-head of worldwide music. In the new role, he will oversee APA’s concert division alongside fellow co-heads Steve Martin and Bruce Solar. Lassiter represents country, rock and Americana stars including the Marshall Tucker Band, Kansas, Travis Tritt, David Lee Murphy, Jim Messina, and The Outlaws. He also sits on the Academy of Country Music board and is a member of the Country Music Association.

The Dutch association of music managers, MMF NL, has appointed Martijn Swier as its new chairman, taking over from Rob Kramer. The organisation now consists of almost 70 managers who represent artists in the Netherlands. Swier’s Amsterdam-based boutique company, Endless Music, represents artists including symphonic metal band Within Temptation and My Indigo.

Agent Kevin French has joined CAA after a decade at Paradigm Talent Agency. As the founder of Portland, Oregon’s, Bigshot Touring Artists, French joined Paradigm in 2009, bringing acts including Sebadoh, the Brian Jonestown Massacre and the Walkman. In his new role, French will be based in CAA’s New York office, with acts on his roster including Tame Impala, The National, the Decemberists, Hamilton Leithauser, Sharon Van Etten and Julien Baker, among others.

Lucy Dickins is named as the head of WME’s UK music division – a newly created role. The job switch will bring her career of more than 20 years at ITB to an end, and means acts such as Adele, Mumford & Sons, Laura Marling, James Blake and Mabel, will now represent globally by WME. Dickins also works with Hot Chip, Bryan Ferry, Rex Orange County, Jamie T, Jack Peñate, among others, all of whom are expected to join her at WME. Also following her to WME’s central London offices are ITB agents James Simmons and Chris Payne. Canadian entertainment talent agency The Feldman Agency has announced a string of executive promotions and appointments. Tom Kemp has been promoted to senior vice president, Joel Baskin takes on the role of vice president, and Olivia Ootes becomes vice president of operations.

M&A Pace Steps up There’s an old adage in journalism that if you want to gauge the health of an industry, simply follow the money. Applying that to the live music sector, it appears that the business has never been so vibrant. The first six months of this year has seen a substantial number of takeover and partnership deals, as consolidation across all aspects of the industry – promoters, ticketing, agency, venues and production – continues. In June, Live Nation revealed it had acquired Poland’s leading club promoter, Go Ahead (on the back of which it is


opening a new office in the city of Poznan) and a joint venture with Stockholmbased booking agency Appelgren Friedner. Those deals were the corporation’s 12th and 13th of 2019, following Singapore’s One Production in January; Canada’s Embrace Presents, Spain’s Planet Events, Tennessee’s Neste Event Marketing, Finland’s Blockfest, Norway’s Tons of Rock, and Australia’s Moshtix (through Ticketmaster) in February; Belgium’s Antwerps Sportpaleis and New England’s Levitate in April;

Pollstar co-founder and chief operating officer, Gary Smith, has announced his retirement. Along with co-founder Gary Bongiovanni, Smith led the publication from its early days of providing printed pages for subscribers to assemble in their own binders, to a weekly print magazine and the establishment of the company’s online presence. United Talent Agency has appointed marketing expert Sean Hill as director of tour marketing in its London music division. He will focus on promotional initiatives for UTA’s music clients worldwide, excluding the Americas. Hill has spent the last five years working at ATM Artists, initially in the role of head of digital where he provided digital and social strategy to artists including Swedish House Mafia, Alesso and Axwell & Ingrosso. and Denmark’s PHD Music, and Los Angeles-based Spaceland Presents in May. If you are wondering why nothing in March, well, it’s ILMC month, obviously... Aside from Live Nation, AEG Facilities and SMG’s lawyers are being kept busy over their venues megamerger, while AEG Presents recently agreed a merger with leading Australian promoter Frontier Touring. And German powerhouse Deutsche Entertainment AG has been on a spree, including Live Music Production (LMP) and Live Music Entertainment (LME) in Switzerland, EDM outfit I-Motion, Stuttgart-based promoter C2 Concerts, and a minority

stake in e-sports specialist Ally4ever Entertainment. Meanwhile, on the production side of things, TAIT Towers has taken full advantage of the funds provided by investor Providence Equity Partners to complete a June acquisition of UK-based motion control specialists, Kinesys, while Production Resource Group (PRG) continued its growth strategy with the buyout of UAE-based Delta Sound. With IQ aware of a number of deals on the cusp of completion, it’s likely that 2019 will be a record year for takeovers and JVs, with so-called secondary markets now very much on the agenda of M&A hungry corporates.

IQ Magazine July 2019


Competition heats up in arena sector It’s been a busy few months for the arena business, with no fewer than four new over-10,000-capacity venues announced since the last issue of IQ – including two by the insurgent Oak View Group (OVG), which says it is “embarking on the most aggressive number of arena developments in the history of the industry.” OVG – a US-based venue development, advisory and investment company founded in 2015 by former AEG CEO Tim Leiweke and ex-Live Nation chairman Irving Azoff – launched its international division at ILMC in March this year. It is developing arenas in Seattle, Washington; Belmont, New York; and Austin, Texas; and in June announced its first international property: an up-to-17,000-capacity venue in Santa Giulia, Milan. The Santa Giulia Arena, which will be run with input from Live Nation, will compete with the 12,700seat Mediolanum Forum in Assago, near Milan – which has served the city since 1990, and is one of two Italian members of the European Arenas Association (EAA) – when it opens by 2024.

The second new OVG arena, announced later the same month, will break ground as early as February next year. Located in Coachella Valley, southern California, the up-to10,000-seat venue is set to “be one of the most premiere music and professional sports arenas in the world,” according to Leiweke, who co-chairs OVG International alongside former AEG Live MD Jessica Koravos. While OVG focuses on the Western world, rival venue operator AEG is pushing further east, adding a new indoor arena and entertainment district in South Korean capital Seoul. In June, AEG Asia agreed a deal with media giant CJ Group to create CJ LiveCity in Seoul’s Goyang City, comprising the 20,000-capacity Seoul Metropolitan Arena, a recording studio complex, a K-pop/Korean culturethemed entertainment district and a waterfront park. Centrally located between five of Korea’s largest cities, AEG projects the new venue will attract more than 20 million visitors annually. It will, say the partners, become the country’s “largest and most advanced live performance venue for K-pop,

international artist tours, sports events and Hallyu [Korean Wave] content.” The agreement marks AEG’s entrance into the burgeoning South Korean live entertainment market and further expands its footprint in Asia, where existing and future venues include Dubai’s Coca-Cola Arena, Thailand’s Bangkok Arena and EM Live, and the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai, China. In the UK, meanwhile, Broadwick Venues, the venues arm of festival promoter Broadwick Live, unveiled plans for a new 10,000-capacity venue on the site of a derelict former railway station in Manchester. Depot, described as a “performance, community and studio space,” will launch at the former Manchester Mayfield Train Station, which closed in 1986, and will this summer host the Manchester Pride Live event on 24 and 25 August. The venue is expected to be in use for the next five years while the 30acre Mayfield site undergoes over £1billion (€1.1bn) worth of regeneration. Elsewhere, as planning authorities mull Madison Square Garden Company

(MSG)’s plans for the new Sphere, in east London, MSG and The O2 owner AEG are at each other’s throats once more, after the latter allegedly created and funded a residents’ group in order to influence public opinion on the Sphere, according to a newspaper investigation. The Times reported on Saturday 22 June that AEG hired media agency Sans Frontières Associates to conduct a community-based campaign opposing the venue. Sans Frontières, founded in 2017 by Jonathan Lehrle, formerly of the controversial Bell Pottinger agency, set up social media accounts and put up billboards in the name of Newham Action Group, which were subsequently the subject of a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority. MSG’s executive vice president of development and construction, Jayne McGivern, described the “damage” caused by the “fake” action group as “significant and lasting.” “We had hoped the owners of existing arenas in London would welcome innovation, diversity, and choice, and it’s extremely disappointing to us that they have not,” she said.

Maroon 5 made history as the first band to perform at the new Coca-Cola Arena in Dubai during its opening week in June. The curtain was actually raised by Canadian comedian Russell Peters on 6 June, but days later Maroon 5 thrilled a sell-out 17,000 audience to confirm that the city now has a venue fit for the world’s best performers. “It was a privilege to be the first band to perform at the new Coca-Cola Arena in Dubai – amazing crowd, atmosphere and venue. Artists are going to love it!” said the band in a statement. The summer of gigs continues with double Brit Award winners The 1975 confirmed for 14 August, before Westlife (29 August) and author/life coach Tony Robbins (3 September) take to the state-of-the-art building’s stage.

IQ Magazine July 2019



European festivals report slow summer Many events and associations in the UK and mainland Europe have spoken of a slow 2019 festival season, with economic uncertainty, rising ticket prices and homogenisation, among the factors blamed for the quieter-than-normal summer. On 22 May, IQ reported online that, of the major May– June UK festivals, only Glastonbury and Manchester’s Parklife had sold out – with tickets still available for heavy hitters like All Points East, Field Day, Isle of Wight Festival and Download. A number of events also appeared on discount sites such as Groupon, and several festivals advertised two-for-one ticket offers on social platforms. This trend is also apparent

on the continent, according to representatives of festival associations Yourope and De Concert!, with the latter’s copresident, Eurockéennes festival director, Jean-Paul Roland, saying, “the season seems more subdued than last year.” Roland decries high artist fees that make major international stars “more inaccessible” to many European events, leading to repetitive line-ups. “The same headliners return too often and sometimes play multiple festival seasons,” agrees OpenAir St. Gallen’s Christof Huber, who also leads Yourope, the European Festival Association. While independent, noncorporate events are believed to have been hardest hit by the continent-wide slowdown – a

senior exec at one of the multinationals tells IQ it has a “couple” of festivals underperforming, “but no more than usual” – Folkert Koopmans, CEO of European festival powerhouse FKP Scorpio, says, to his knowledge, “it’s the same everywhere. There are a few that are sold out but it’s not like it used to be before.” Despite this, FKP’s twin German festivals, Southside and Hurricane, welcomed daily crowds of 60,000 and 68,000, respectively, from 21 to 23 June, along with 200,000 for two Ed Sheeran shows. Big corporate events aside, one UK festival insider says those festivals that will succeed in future – even in slow years – are the focused, niche events with a strong identity

and loyal fan-base. “Look at 5,000-or-socapacity festivals like [experimental rock event] ArcTanGent or [Herefordshire music and arts festival] Nozstock,” they say. “Nozstock in particular is doing really well now. I think the penny has dropped that it’s not all about the headliners, and if you go to these kinds of events, you feel valued and you’re going to have a unique experience.” IQ’s analysis of Europe’s festival market, the annual European Festival Report, will return in the end-of-year issue #87, providing an in-depth look at capacity and attendance; ticketing and pricing; VIP sales; challenges and concerns; new technology, and more.

Lucy Dickins

Key Hires and Bold Moves for Agencies

The ongoing arms race in the agency world has continued in 2019. In late May, Endeavor Group Holdings, Inc., the parent company of WME Entertainment, formally declared its intention to go public, filing for an initial public offering (IPO) with US regulators.

The number of shares to be offered and the individual share price, were not revealed, but the company’s submission to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) revealed plans to raise $100million (€88m) with the flotation. That figure is typically seen as a placeholder in financial terms, with industry observers estimating the company’s stock market flotation could generate between $500-800m (€440-703m), possibly before the end of 2019. Although the company’s music division is a minor part of Endeavor – whose assets also include sports agency IMG, mixed martial-arts promoter Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and, of course, the Hollywood acting and movie agency, WME – it

made headlines recently in the music world by luring Adele and Mumford & Sons’ agent Lucy Dickins from ITB. In a business that is part driven by the Hollywood aspect of entertainment, major rivals CAA and UTA (who are in a messy joint battle with WME against the Writers Guild of America), are no doubt monitoring the IPO gambit with interest, as their private equity owners also look for returns on their hefty investments. For its part, UTA apparently came close to acquiring Paradigm Talent Agency in June – a deal that Paradigm chairman and CEO Sam Gores told staff “would have represented one of the largest talent agency transactions in the history of our business.”

Although some senior Paradigm execs are said to be relieved that the deal was rejected, that might not be the end of the saga, as Gores pointedly noted, “There are reasons why a combination like this would have made sense for both agencies,” before outlining Paradigm’s unique culture and “how powerful our independent path can be.” With at least one other major US outfit rumoured to be eyeing up international purchases, the ongoing consolidation of the agency business could soon emulate that of the recorded music industry, with three or four dominant operators, plus a smattering of boutique businesses in key locations – LA, New York, Nashville and London.

Have you got a viewpoint on any of these articles? Then get involved in the discussion on our Twitter account @iq_mag


IQ Magazine July 2019

The latest trades and handshakes from the agency world Kathryn Joseph


Agent: Will Church, ATC Live

Agents: Rob Gibbs & Shane Daunt, Progressive Artists Having won the Scottish Album of the Year in 2015 for her debut, Bones You Have Thrown Me and Blood I’ve Spilled, Kathryn Joseph’s popularity has continued to snowball, thanks in no small part to what she describes as her “weird, creepy way of telling the truth” in her lyrics. Last year, Joseph released a new album, From When I Wake The Want Is, and following a number of European dates supporting Neko Case in 2018, she completed her own headline tour in the UK in the first quarter of this year. Critical acclaim for her second album has been as solid as her debut and word of mouth is beginning to spread outside of the UK to overseas promoters, radio stations and tastemakers. In addition to a handful of UK summer festival dates, Joseph has an autumn headline tour confirmed, and a November appearance at Blue Bird Festival in Vienna.


Sheer Mag


With Sheer Mag announcing 23 August as the release date for sophomore album, A Distant Call, the buzz around the Philadelphia quintet in the music press is growing. Whilst the band is still pursuing the theme of surviving the current hellscape, this time around, the politics get extra-personal. The album verges on being a concept piece, the protagonist of which resembles front-woman, Tina Halladay, herself. The songs document a particularly alienating time in her life when she was laid off from a job. Broke and newly single, her father passed away, leaving her with more wounds than it felt possible to heal. It’s heavy power-pop so sleek it gleams. “We’ve been waiting to write these songs since we started the band and we were able to take these experiences and build a story out of them,” Halladay says. A Distant Call makes an argument for socialism on an anecdotal level. Matt Palmer (guitar/keyboards) and Halladay’s new approach to lyricism extended to the recording process, too. Once the Seely brothers (Hart and Kyle) had laid down the guitar and bass tracks, Halladay recorded vocals with producer Arthur Rizk (Power Trip, Code Orange). An 11-date, seven-country European tour has been confirmed for October and November, with additional shows in the pipeline, too, according to agent Will Church.

IQ Magazine July 2019

0171 (UK) David Exley, Coda Agency A$AP NAST (US) Guillaume Brevers, ATC Live Aaron Porter (UK) Phyllis Belezos, ITB Amaria (UK) Andy Clayton & Tom Schroeder, Coda Agency april (IE) Martin Mackay, Primary Talent Ash Walker (UK) Marlon Burton, ATC Live AWA (SE) Andy Clayton & Alex Hardee, Coda Agency Balming Tiger (KR) Cils Fyne Williams & Serena Parsons, Primary Talent Be Charlotte (UK) Sol Parker, Coda Agency Ben Marc (UK) Marlon Burton, ATC Live Benedict Cork (UK) Nick Matthews, Coda Agency Beverly Glenn-Copeland (CA) Isla Angus, ATC Live Billy Strings (US) Stuart Kennedy, ATC Live Bone Thugs-N-Harmony (US) Beckie Sugden, X-ray Catholic Action (UK) Jamie Wade, X-ray Cherry Pools (US) Gemma Milroy, X-ray Conchúr White (UK) Colin Keenan, ATC Live Dua Saleh (US) Serena Parsons & Nick Holroyd, Primary Talent Dutchkid (UK) Geoff Meall & Andy Clayton, Coda Agency Emily Burns (UK) Andy Clayton, Coda Agency Erland Cooper (UK) Robb Gibbs, Progressive Artists Far Caspian (UK) Greg Lowe, UTA Flyo (UK) Marlon Burton, ATC Live Fredo Disco (US) Anna Bewers, Coda Agency Georgia Box (UK) Gary Howard, UTA Golden Vessel (AU) Sally Dunstone, X-ray Goldfingers (SE) Ryan Penty, Coda Agency Guy Sebastian (AU) Ryan Penty, Coda Agency Hardwicke Circus (UK) Barry Dickins, ITB Harriet Brown (US) Sinan Ors, ATC Live Harry Marshall (UK) Shaun Faulkner, X-ray Hatari (IS) Nick Holroyd, Primary Talent Honey Mooncie (UK) Sinan Ors, ATC Live Honeymoan (ZA) Steve Backman & Stefan Romer, Primary Talent Indigo Lo (UK) Matt Hanner, ATC Live ionnalee (SE) Nick Holroyd, Primary Talent ISSUES (US) Ed Sellers & Stacey Owen, Primary Talent Jade Imagine (AU) Matt Hanner, ATC Live Jamie Lenman (UK) Ed Sellers & Stacey Owen, Primary Talent Jas Shaw (UK) Laetitia Descouens, Primary Talent Jays (AU) Sol Parker, Coda Agency Jelly Boy (UK) Sarah Joy, ATC Live Jitwam (US) Sinan Ors, ATC Live Josh Gray (IE) Gary Howard, UTA K. Roosevelt (US) Sally Dunstone & Beckie Sugden, X-ray Kathryn Joseph (UK) Shane Daunt & Rob Gibbs, Progressive Artists Kid Bookie (UK) Beckie Sugden, X-ray L E I O (UK) Gary Howard, UTA Lauran Hibberd (UK) Anna Bewers & Geoff Meall, Coda Agency Levi (UK) Marlon Burton, ATC Live Lewis Blissett (UK) Alex Hardee, Coda Agency Love Fame Tragedy (UK) Matt Bates, Primary Talent Loving (CA) Will Church, ATC Live M.O (UK) Alex Hardee, Coda Agency Marsicans (UK) David Sullivan-Kaplan, UTA Memphis May Fire (US) Paul Ryan, UTA Molly Hocking (UK) Gary Howard, UTA Nadia Rose (UK) Serena Parsons & Nick Reddick, Primary Talent Nayana IZ (UK) Marlon Burton, ATC Live

Nick Wilson (UK) Sol Parker, Coda Agency Piers James (UK) Marlon Burton, ATC Live Polo G (US) Mike Malak, Coda Agency Poppy (US) Paul Ryan, UTA Pussy Riot (RU) Andy Clayton & Clementine Bunel, Coda Agency Quarry (UK) Will Marshall & Matt Bates, Primary Talent Quelle Chris (US) Serena Parsons, Primary Talent Redhook (AU) Ryan Penty, Coda Agency Richard Walters (UK) Steve Backman & Stefan Romer, Primary Talent Rina Mushonga (NL/ZW) Robb Gibbs, Progressive Artists Ruby Fields (AU) Ben Winchester & Charlie Renton, Primary Talent S1 (UK) Marlon Burton, ATC Live Sam Calver (UK) Colin Keenan, ATC Live Serious Klein (DE) Guillaume Brevers, ATC Live Shaggy (JA) Mike Malak & Alex Hardee, Coda Agency Sheer Mag (US) Will Church, ATC Live Simian Mobile Disco (UK) Laetitia Descouens, Primary Talent Smoove and Turrell (UK) Tom Bull, MN2S Social Contract (UK) Chris Smyth & Matt Bates, Primary Talent Squirrel Flower (US) Will Church, ATC Live Sullii (UK) Chris Smyth & Matt Bates, Primary Talent Surfaces (US) Nick Matthews, Coda Agency Swindle (UK) Marlon Burton, ATC Live Terrell Hines (US) Mike Malak & Ryan Penty, Coda Agency The C33s (UK) Jamie Wade, X-ray The Soft Cavalry (UK) Ben Winchester & Charlie Renton, Primary Talent The Young Gods (CH) Tom Taaffe, Coda Agency Trinity Square (UK) Tracey Roper & Craig D’Souza, Primary Talent Vera Sola (CA) Will Church & Clemence Renaut, ATC Live Walkways (IL) Paul Ryan, UTA Waterparks (US) Sean Goulding, UTA Weird Milk (UK) Jamie Wade, X-ray Your Smith (US) Nick Holroyd & Stacey Owen, Primary Talent Yung Sherman (SE) Nick Holroyd, Primary Talent


(Artists moving through database the quickest) BLACK MIDI (UK), ALFIE TEMPLEMAN (UK), TONES AND I (AU), SUB URBAN (US), ONEFOUR (AU)

This Month

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

Last Month 51 28 4 14 39 2 37 42 6 9 30 471 5 94 33


Fastest growing artists based on online music consumption. Aggregated across a number of online sources.

IQ Magazine July 2019



The Green Arena Judith Clumpas is design strategist and special projects consultant at the 12,000-capacity Spark Arena in Auckland. Here, she explains how the venue has radically tackled its single-use packaging issues…


hoose life… choose a plant (preferably the waste product of agriculture); up-cycle it into something we need (food and drink packaging); make our customers happy by serving their needs and delighting them with our attention to detail (quality products, ease of use); make it impossible for customers to stuff it up (take back control… ahem, sorry you Brits!); make sure it gets composted (I said, make sure!); send it back to the farms (or kiwi fruit orchards). While deposit-scheme reusable cups and drink-bottle culture is on the rise in green-field sites, in arenas we operate a different model in which hard objects are simply unacceptable. This has given rise to the proliferation of nasty plastic products including polystyrene and laminated cartons at indoor events, as well as the usual PET cups, polystyrene and soft plastic wrapping around foodstuffs. Anyone remember Wall-E? Prophetic, huh!? The waste mountain is beginning to smother the Earth, and we need to do something. Now.

“We have barely anything to send to landfill these days. We even have straws. They are not the devil. They go in the compost.” The good news is, the KISS (keep it simple, stupid) principle actually works. Here at Spark Arena we have been composting EVERYTHING since last August: that’s 1,000,000 PLA cups, lids and straws; plus countless thousands of bagasse/bamboo/ paper food cartons, cutlery, napkins etc. Cross-contamination was a huge problem, so rather than try to solve it, we completely removed it. No matter how hard we tried, however beautiful and well labelled the bins, however persuasive our social media campaigns, the fact is that punters are distracted, unobservant, disinterested, and ultimately just there for the gig. Meaning they will always do the mindless thing, either dropping stuff on the floor or in the totally wrong bin. We have stood there and watched them do it: chips in the paper recycling, ice cream in the plastics… So rather than add more bins, more sorting, we flipped the problem on its head and went with just the one bin. For everything. And with just one final destination… the Earth.


Taking a systems approach rather than a piecemeal one to procurement, catering, cleaning and waste management, we have created a waste-free environment for all concerts at Spark Arena. System design means taking full responsibility for inventory, how it is handled, and where it ends up, and it can only be done if the venue is in control and has absolute clarity. Getting it right is called the circular economy, which is an oft-misused phrase. Circular means plant back to plant. Cradle to cradle, not cradle to grave. The system design took into account: •D  eliberate or unwitting use of packaging made from problematic materials. • Cross-contamination of waste types by staff and customers. •L  ack of transparency and control in the procure-use-collectdispose chain. • An understanding of our local commercial composting facilities. We have to stop kidding ourselves that recycling is good, when it is only very slightly less bad. According to National Geographic, only 9% of plastics globally are actually recycled. The rest ends up in landfill, gets burned, or ends up in the ocean. While the figures may be better where you are, the reality is truly appalling. We can’t allow ourselves to be satisfied with a product that calls itself “recyclable.” And don’t even get me started on the disingenuous use of the word “biodegradable.” Our local compost facility regard us as a trusted supplier, having monitored our compostable waste and found it to be below the contamination threshold they can accept. The resulting compost is top-grade stuff, and in high demand. There is always the chance of contamination, so we do have some landfill bins for rogue items that get into the building, but we have managed to source ice creams and crisps in compostable packets now, too, and we have bulk-bought sweet items and repackage them in-house, so we have barely anything to send to landfill these days. We even have straws. They are not the devil. They go in the compost. We rolled out this system following my Masters of Design in 2016, and my next step will be to use an action research methodology to test its efficacy in different scenarios and locations as part of my future PhD study into sustainability design for music events. If you want to be part of the study or would like more details, please email me at

IQ Magazine July 2019


“Green policies” or grey? Doctor Music founder and CEO, Neo Sala, details the questionable circumstances behind the cancellation of July’s Doctor Music Festival.


he recent cancellation of Doctor Music Festival, aka The Festival of the Cow, which was scheduled to take place this summer, was a bitter pill to swallow. The circumstances that brought about the cancellation of the event are surreal to say the least, and would appear more befitting of a Kafka-esque state than an administration that claims to be concerned with popular culture and the development of rural areas. Doctor Music Festival was due to take place in July 2019 in Escalarre in the Pallars Sobirà region of Catalonia, set among an idyllic valley in the Catalan Pyrenees. This vast meadow, which spans over 100 hectares and is surrounded by high mountain peaks and natural parks, had already played host, some 20 years ago, to three of the festival’s previous editions, which are forever engrained in the history of Europe’s live music scene. In 1996, 1997 and 1998, the region saw three special editions take place, bringing together tens of thousands of people for unforgettable events featuring the likes of David Bowie, Lou Reed, Bob Dylan, Iggy Pop, and hundreds of other legendary names. This year, the festival was going to make its comeback with the Reincarnation Edition, which looked set to put the Pallars region back on the international music map. The line-up was confirmed, including names such as Rosalía, The Strokes, The Chemical Brothers, The Smashing Pumpkins, Greta Van Fleet, King Crimson, Underworld, Christine & The Queens, along with cutting-edge DJs such as Black Coffee, Damian Lazarus, Luciano, Jamie Jones, and many more. It was going to be a three-day/four-night extravaganza of music, friendship and nature. A special communion between people, music and the stars. The event had been designed following the most rigorous of standards when it comes to sustainability, recycling, zero-waste policies, locally sourced produce, and harmony with the natural surroundings. The end goal was to leave the valley exactly as it was before the festival took place, or maybe even better. And then bureaucracy happened… Someone, somewhere, sat in a grey office in a grey building, found a way to extinguish the magic. Thanks to the board of directors at the Agència Catalana de l’Aigua (Catalan Water Agency), and spurred on by a small local group of urban ecologists of questionable reputation – “eco-opportunists” is perhaps a more fitting term – it was ruled that the open valley was at risk of flooding, despite never

IQ Magazine July 2019

having previously suffered flooding as far as any existing records show, and despite the final remnants of snow on the surrounding mountains having melted two months ago. And just like that, the dream was over. It was a small victory for bureaucracy.

“Someone, somewhere, sat in a grey office in a grey building, found a way to extinguish the magic.” Despite protests from the valley’s local residents and mayors, who continued to emphasise the positive economic, touristic and cultural impact the festival would have on the local agricultural communities and residents, the decision remained unchanged. The powers that be had already decided that the local countryside was better used as a “theme-park” for city folk to escape to on weekends. Where they can enjoy a fleeting illusion of their eco-friendliness or of being “at one with nature.” The harmonious development of rural communities, encouraging nature-friendly human activities, and working to bring wealth and cultural enrichment to areas that have otherwise been overlooked by these administrations, clearly weren’t as important as their desire to demonstrate who ruled the roost. Their argument based around the possibility of a flood occurring in Escalarre… Maybe. At some point. Perhaps. What happened next is already common knowledge. We tried to relocate the festival to the Catalunya-Barcelona Formula1 Circuit in Montmeló, but the general public were not convinced by this swap from lush green valley to urban racetrack. The spirit of the cow had been mortally wounded (at least for the time being) and the magic behind this celebration of music, peace, nature and friendship was over. Live music in Spain owes a lot to Doctor Music Festival, but there is no greater debt than that owed by political parties to the citizens who vote for them. I hope they bear that in mind when it’s election time and they start promising the citizens of Spain a wonderful and colourful country. The colour they are referring to – might just be grey.



Innovation, Inspiration, Evolution Claire O’Neill, co-founder and director of A Greener Festival Ltd comments on the current and future developments in the live music industry’s impact on the environment.


hilst the live music industry undoubtedly has the ability and power to share good practice and ideas across borders, operationally speaking, it has a whole host of negative environmental impacts. In 2006, I joined an ILMC panel discussing environmental sustainability in the live music industry. Live Nation had just appointed their first sustainability manager, and Download Festival’s bars were already employing a reusable cup deposit system. Thirteen years later, the same conversations continue to take place, but with one big difference: what was previously a topic deemed worthy by only a small section of the live music industry, has now become an unavoidable theme applicable throughout the business.

“Difficult decisions have to be made with some industries no longer being permitted or able to operate as they did in the past.” With the publication of the 12-year warning (now 11) – before irreversible climate change takes place – by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the issue has been pushed higher up on the international agenda. Difficult decisions have to be made with some industries no longer being permitted or able to operate as they did in the past. As an industry, we have three options: (1) wait to be told to change by governments and regulations, (2) stick our heads in the sand (whilst there’s still sand to stick things in) and hope it all goes away, or (3) do something, get creative and evolve. Event greening and sustainability often put the main focus on the elimination of single-use plastics and plastic pollution. Whilst this is extremely important, it’s actually just one small piece of a much larger puzzle. Reports such as The Show Must Go On published by Powerful Thinking have highlighted that a significant impact of live events on the environment is the burning of fossil fuels used for transportation. And more recently, it has been revealed that the meat and dairy industries are responsible for even greater emissions than transportation and that a huge reduction in their consumption is essential to avoid climate breakdown. In addition, regulations such as the Modern Slavery Act, and campaign groups like Fashion Revolution increasingly expose the supply chains for goods and merchandise. So what’s the live music industry doing to reverse climate change? The recent Green Events & Innovations Conference (GEI) saw Coda Agency launch their Green Artist Rider


alongside A Greener Festival, following growing requests from artists. Venues, including the Royal Albert Hall and The O2, highlighted their efforts to reduce FOH waste and facilitate low carbon travel for productions and audiences. Meanwhile, festival organisers across Europe have been pioneering in the field of sustainability – combating the rampant waste of campers with the formation of the Campsite Chaos working group. All of these actions and issues are helping the industry to focus on the issue and improve event sustainability. Wasteful consumption of finite resources resulting in pollution is a huge challenge. Many of us are now aware of the circular or closed-loop economy - an area that requires innovation and creativity so that we can retire out-dated linear design systems that rely on cheap materials and disposability, and instead keep resources within the “loop.” The circular economy aims to use renewable energy. Improved accuracy of temporary event power requirements results in optimum efficiency, saving both fuel and money. Energy storage systems are becoming more widely available and are particularly beneficial for supplementing limited grid power during peak usage. There is an increasing demand for biofuels to replace the fossil fuels used for transport and generators. At GEI, Maarten Arkenboot of transport company Pieter Smit spoke of trucking fleets meeting Euro 6 emission standards due to regulations from major cities, and their use of HVO in their engines. HVO distribution and availability, however, is still lacking. Public awareness of issues such as single-use plastics is growing, but we must be wary of knee-jerk reactions. Whilst new “green” alternatives are obviously attractive, we must give equal attention to the infrastructure for waste management and materials recovery. Sources of uncertified alternative fuel, for instance, can lead to deforestation and other consequences. The full life-cycle of each product must be considered. Fundamental changes are needed to make a significant difference. Tour design needs to consider routing and the quantity of what is on the road or flown. Improvements can be made to in-house venue production, reducing trucking whilst boosting local creative employment. Low carbon travel for audiences needs to be facilitated. Ultimately, it is not about saving the planet. It existed before us, and can exist without us in the future. A greener live music industry is concerned with our wellbeing as a species. Equality, diversity, health and wellbeing go hand in hand with effectively tackling ecological challenges.

IQ Magazine July 2019

GDPR and Managing Mailing Lists


Legal expert Rob Eakins outlines some of the basic requirements that artists and companies need to fulfil when dealing with data collection and usage

he data generated by digital platforms such as Spotify provides musicians with valuable insights into their fans’ locations and behaviour. Fortunately, much of the data provided by third-party platforms is anonymised, which means it generally falls outside data protection legislation. However, bands, promoters and booking agents routinely collect contact details and other personal data relating to their fans and customers, which falls squarely within the remit of the legislation. There is a legal requirement when collecting, using and storing personal data to inform the data subjects about what data you are collecting and what you will be doing with it. This doesn’t just apply to companies; bands and musicians acting in the course of business also have this obligation (there are exemptions, and you should visit the Information Commissioner’s Office website to find out more). This is usually done via a privacy policy, which should be tailored to your specific uses of the data you collect. If you have a website, it is good practice to have a link to your privacy policy on your website.

So, if you receive an email from a fan asking for information about a forthcoming tour, can you add their email address to your database and start sending them marketing material? The simple answer is no, you can’t. Individuals usually have to give explicit consent to their personal data being used for marketing purposes. However, you can reply to the fan, answer their question, and ask if they want to join your mailing list. If they agree, you are free to market to them, but remember to make a record of their consent, and ensure that your marketing emails include simple instructions to help the recipient locate your privacy information and opt out of the emails. If you’re planning to share personal data with a third party, such as between a band and a promoter, it’s important to establish a legal basis for this transfer to take place. This should be set out in your privacy policy. Data protection is a tricky area, and care should be taken not to breach the legislation. If you have any questions about data protection or music industry law, contact Rob Eakins (solicitor) on 0161 358 0280 or email #MusicLaw

Gig Gadgetry from the Frontline...

Crystal Interactive Wearable Technology

We’ve all stared agog at clips of Coldplay’s audience lighting up stadiums thanks to their LED Xylobands, a riot of choreographed flashes and patterns that enhance the excitement going on onstage. But while those wristbands were simply about creating visual effects, Crystal Interactive’s wearables go one step further and offer genuine interaction.

Powered by PixMob’s Klik – an event engagement platform – their badges, buttons, and wristbands offer registration, interaction, attendee tracking, gamification, and even paging (ask your parents), not to mention a dedicated app to manage profiles, services, and information. Naturally, all three options are reusable and recyclable, have a multiday battery life, and are completely brandable – the badge even comes with its own printer for making stickers. The company also offers postevent analytics, allowing organisers deep insight into attendee behaviour and rich data maps.

VRJAM The mooted 5G rollout that’s coming soon will, it is claimed, lead to all sorts of exciting and innovative new services and platforms for content creators and music fans. Things like VRJAM for example, the latest piece of digital wizardry that’s a solution to a problem you didn’t know existed. The premise is simple – it’s a real-time streaming platform for live VR and AR content, an immersive, interactive app that allows users to “experience artists’ perfor-

mances in new and undreamt of ways.” Basically, it functions like an interactive Holodeck on your phone, with artists able to visualise shows on the fly, inside a computeranimated world populated by CGI avatars. It all seems very impressive, and with backing from the likes of Google and Samsung, the tech is expected to have far-reaching applications – sporting and business events, or any type of conference, can be digitally reimagined and broadcast to the world.

Sphero Specdrums First there was Oddball, the drum machine in a ball. Then there was KAiKU, the music glove with built-in gyroscope and accelerometer. And now we have Specdrums, the appenabled ring that turns colours into music with a simple tap. “Make the world your instrument” says the website, and the promo video is full of shiny, happy people merrily making beats and tunes while skateboarding, doing graffiti art, and riding the bus downtown. As you do.

But there is some serious tech behind the novelty; the ring can mimic the function of digital drums and MIDI pads, and can be set to trigger an infinite number of sounds, even ones you’ve recorded yourself. They also connect to any Bluetooth MIDI application on mobile or desktop, meaning they can be patched into the likes of Garage Band or even Logic. Not bad for something that looks like a Fisher Price toy.

Exposure Analytics Analytics are all the rage it seems, and with good reason. Aside from providing feedback for ROI and various other KPIs, it makes sense for any large-scale event to track footfall and flows – particularly from a safety and comfort standpoint – and Exposure Analytics have come up with a unique set of digital services for doing precisely that. Using three different types of sensor – each optimised to record specific sets of data – they can provide

real-time reporting on any number of metrics such as heat maps, dwell time, audience distribution, capacity, and even mood detection from their customised API and dashboard. Having worked on more than 3,000 events worldwide, and with brands such as Canon and MercedesBenz, their award-winning tech is clearly another useful tool for event professionals and organisers, and takes analytical insight to the next level.

Do you have a new product or technology to contribute to this page? Email to be considered for the next issue…


IQ Magazine July 2019

Five at 5

The fifth edition of IFF takes place this September. And with a number of new elements launching for this edition, here’s five reasons to avoid serious IFF FOMO in the autumn...


Last year’s IFF welcomed 450 festivals from over 30 countries, alongside 250 agents representing almost every headliner in the business, and thousands of artists besides. Attending festival delegates represent events with a daily capacity of 10,000 or more, while agency delegates are all established in their field. This year, IFF features more agency partners than ever, with 13 Artists, Solo and Toutpartout joining longstanding partners CAA, Coda, WME, X-ray Touring, ITB, Primary Talent, UTA, ATC Live, and Pitch & Smith.

“IFF is perfectly timed with the right crowd in an intimate environment. It’s the most important festival business event.” james Whitting, Coda Agency


We estimate that the value of business conducted around IFF runs into the tens of €millions. This year, to make meetings between festivals and agents more efficient, IFF is launching a series of pop-up agency offices around the event. Running over both mornings, the temporary spaces will allow festivals to meet with most agencies without needing to travel between their real offices.


With over 700 festivals and agents all in one place and defining next year’s line-ups, IFF’s afternoon hang can be very busy. This year we’re adding a second outdoor networking area at Dingwalls that will double the footprint of the event. The extra space will allow a small additional number of festival delegates to attend the invitation-only event.


Since its first edition, IFF has gained a reputation for showcasing the most talented emerging artists. Performances have included Idols, Slaves, Shame, Loyle Carner, Public Service Broadcasting, Lewis Capaldi, black midi and many others. And for the fifth edition, IFF is increasing the number of showcases. The first showcase this year will be courtesy of Solo Agency on Tuesday 24 September. Whilst in addition to the daytime agency showcases at Dingwalls, Toutpartout, Dutch Export and others will present shows at various venues around Camden on the evening of Wednesday 25 September. With around 40 of the most exciting new signings taking the stage at IFF, it’s an influential platform for music discovery.

“IFF is the right place for every agent & festival booker looking to do serious business in a relaxed atmosphere. You can find the exact people that you are looking for.” Cindy Castillo, Mad Cool Festival


Alongside this year’s conference schedule (opposite page), IFF is running two sets of dedicated meetings that all festival and agency delegates can sign up to. On Wednesday 25 September, The Knowledge Hub will invite leading innovators and solutions experts into IFF for a series of private 30-minute meetings on topics ranging from the latest festival tech, to next generation ticketing and VIP opportunities. Meanwhile, Thursday 26th will see The Green Hub take place in a similar format, with leading practitioners on hand to offer advice and expertise on environmental efforts by festivals, artists or companies.


“IFF has become an indispensable part of festival booking, not to mention a great few days out.” Andy Smith, From The Fields

IQ Magazine July 2019

The Big Billing Debate Chair: Julia Gudzent, Melt! Booking (DE) There have been quarrels over star billing since Roman promoters first chiselled line-ups onto stone flyers for The Colosseum, but in recent history, the arguments have become even more gladiatorial. When it comes to ordering festival bills, and producing that all-important line-up poster, agents and promoters frequently struggle to see eye-to-eye. So how can we improve an avoidable situation? Is it a case of managing expectation with artists? Can data provide a solution that helps all parties involved? With performances being pulled due to disagreements over font size, it’s time for a sensible conversation.

The IFF 2019 Agenda While the full IFF conference schedule is still being finalised, the following sessions have already been confirmed...

The Festival Season 2019

With the 2019 festival season wrapped-up, it will be time to take stock of the key issues, successes, trials and tribulations. As the festival market continues to consolidate and with fundbacked operators buying-up independents, what’s the impact on the ground for both bookers and agents? Organisers face new pressures to gender-balance line-ups while juggling rising costs and escalating fees, while on the agency side, the pressures of signing and retaining artist clients show no sign of reducing. It’s enough to question why we all do it… so we will be asking was 2019 for you really? This now-established IFF session kicks off the conference proper, setting the tone for many conversations that follow.

Niche Work (If You Can Get It) Chair: Jon Chapple, IQ Magazine (UK) The explosion of European hip-hop, the unwavering popularity of metal, the standalone electronic music scene, and the proud, enduring traditions of jazz… when it comes to life outside the rock/pop bubble, it’s an expanding universe. So across promotion, marketing, audience development and business development, what lessons are there to learn? IQ’s Jon Chapple invites a guest line-up of genre-specific festivals and specialist agents to tell tales from their respective scenes. How can both organisers and agents benefit from the growth in niche events, and what opportunities are there still to explore?

If you are not already on the invitation list and receiving IFF’s email updates, head to the website for more details on how to sign up:

“IFF continues to impress. It’s timed great for the booking process, has a lot of participants, and is always a good time. Brian Ahern, WME

IQ Magazine July 2019 @festforum


My Breakthrough Moment... Hard work, knowing the right people and a slice of good luck can all play a part in getting a proper footing on the career ladder. IQ Magazine puts some more ILMC regulars in the spotlight and asks them to share their breakthrough moments…

Ed Bicknell Damage Management


he day after I arrived at Hull University (UK) in October 1966, they were running a Freshers Ball. As I entered the Students’ Union, a tannoy message was being repeated: “If anyone in the building can play drums, please come to reception.” Since I was standing right next to the receptionist, without thinking, I just said, “Yes, I can.”


It turned out the drummer for the band they’d booked was too sick to play, and they didn’t have any records to dance to. I was led off to the dressing room to meet the Victor Brox Blues Train, who coincidentally had played my home-town, Tadcaster, the previous week. I was duly introduced to the band. “Are you any good?” they asked. “Yes, okay, I think. By the way, I know you lot. You played my local hall last week. How much are you going to pay me?” After much haggling we settled on £5. My first deal. Once that had been sorted, I thought I should confess. “I didn’t actually go to your gig last week, I just saw the posters up around town. What songs do you play?” They were highly amused and, thankfully for me, it was the classic soul of the time – stuff I’d played hundreds of times. So, I did the gig: two 45-minute sets, no screw-ups. Big hugs, £5 pocketed, off to the bar. Malcolm Haigh, the university’s social secretary, asked if I wanted to be on the Entertainment Committee AND join his jazz group (of which he was the sole member). And then a tall, suntanned girl appeared. “Hi. I really enjoyed your playing. My name’s Trudy.” After a couple of lager and limes she invited me back to her student house “for coffee.” Just as we were leaving, a flashgun went off in my face and a greasy-haired bloke jumped out. “I’m from Torchlight, the Student Union magazine. We’re going to put you on the front cover next week. What’s your name? What course are you on? Were you nervous? How did you know the songs?” So, first night at uni and I’d played in a band, made five quid, got onto the Entertainment Committee, joined a group, ended up on the cover of the Student Union magazine AND had a cup of Nescafé. With powdered milk. In October 1967, I took over as social secretary, and after a stunning gig by The Who in May the following year, decided on a career in showbiz, which, as it turned out, worked out okay. In life you need a bit of luck. And in music, bluffing (read as: fibbing) is an essential “talent.”

IQ Magazine July 2019

Debbie McWilliams Scottish Event Campus


y career-defining breakthrough moment was in 2012 when the master plan for the SSE Hydro was approved. I joined the SEC in 1989, as assistant to the operations director and quickly became part of the team who established the venue box office. As a music fan, it was a dream opportunity, and my aspirations were simply to learn everything about this fantastic business from the ground up. Soon, our box office had become one of the most respected ticketing operations in the UK and I learned from

some of the best people in the industry. We understood what our clients required and put them first… always. From that point on, it was straight in at the deep end as the SEC grew [and] the plans for the Hydro were approved. Ticketing events for the new arena was a huge part of the project, as the level of business almost doubled overnight. Putting events on-sale for a venue yet to be built proved the ultimate challenge. But we had a wealth of experience to draw from – making right things that had not worked for us in the past. All this was achieved while still having to deliver, day to day, on events for other parts of the campus. Experience was crucial as the window of time for the delivery of the Hydro was very short. I spent many long hours poring over the manifest and attending meetings with architects. This was all happening when the arena was under early construction, but I realised at the time this would be a key component to its success. It gave me a great platform to showcase my abilities, as well as an opportunity to learn and develop new skills. When Rod Stewart performed the inaugural concert at the arena on 30 September 2013, I felt a real sense of personal pride. It was a very emotional and rewarding experience. As the 13,000-capacity audience took their seats with ease – there was an undeniable sense of achievement. Now, the Hydro is consistently ranked in the top-ten busiest venues worldwide. Its success, whilst deserved, has surpassed everyone’s expectations. Reflecting on my own personal journey, progressing from being a young office administrator to director of live entertainment, is a real accomplishment. Of course, there have been lots of other highlights, but I truly think that any individual success stories are often hugely supported by a strong, motivated team, which I am very lucky to have here at the Scottish Event Campus.

Tom Windish Paradigm Talent Agency


n 1999, I started getting into electronic music. Prior to that I exclusively worked as an agent for rock and jazz bands. One of my favourite artists was named μ-Ziq [pronounced: music]. There was another agent in North America who represented all of the “IDM” electronic musicians of that era. μ-Ziq didn’t have an agent and I pushed and pushed the label and manager to choose me, but they went with the guy who had all the electronic artists. I went to see μ-Ziq perform at the first Coachella. About three months later I got a call from his label, Astralwerks. They asked if I still wanted to book a tour for μ-Ziq: the other agent simply “forgot” to book the tour he was supposed to book around Coachella. I said “absolutely” and got to work. Within a few weeks, I had put together a tour everyone was happy with, including a routing with reasonable distances between shows, reliable promoters, contracts, etc. This was how I’d done business since I started, but in dance/electronic music it was more rare than the norm. The tour sold out every show and everyone was happy. A month later, I got a call from Ninja Tune asking me if I wanted to book their tenth anniversary tour featuring Coldcut, the label founders. A few months after that, I got a call from

IQ Magazine July 2019

Steve Beckett at Warp Records asking if I wanted to book a tour for Autechre. From there, my electronic roster grew and grew. It led to signing Diplo, then a Ninja Tune artist; also Aphex Twin, St Germain, M83 and many more. Electronic music has been a big part of my roster since then.


“E3S is an important platform for the whole live event market and should be in the calendar of anyone who is involved in safety and security of shows and other live events.” Peter van der Veer, (former) European Arena Association (NL)

The Event Safety & Security Summit The third edition of ILMC’s security-focused conference – E3S – is taking shape, with a growing list of renowned security, venue and event experts already involved…


Launched in 2017, the Event Safety & Security Summit (E3S) is an international platform dedicated to safety and security in the live events industry. The conference brings together leading venues and festivals; touring and sports professionals; and security experts from around the world. E3S is a one-day event that aims to develop best practice and harmonise standards across the industry, while encouraging all delegates to share information and introduce initiatives that stand to benefit all. Alongside a full schedule of panel and workshop discussions, security experts and service providers present the latest concepts and tools related to security at live events. E3S is organised by the International Live Music Conference (ILMC), in close collaboration with the European Arenas Association, the UK’s National Arenas Association, and other leading theatre and venue organisations and live event security companies.

“E3S is a unique conference providing insights into “The quality of the speakers and panels was strong safety & security issues across the event industry. and it enabled me to take a lot of information Panel discussions are focussed on real-time and viewpoints on board that have influenced situations and experience, and the event offers a some key security and safety-related decisions significant opportunity to network and problem- and investments over the past 12 months. E3S is a really insightful day.” solve with colleagues from around Europe.” Coralie Berael, Sportpaleis Group (BE) Guy Dunstan, NEC Group (UK)


IQ Magazine July 2019


“E3S is invaluable for developing connections to continue sharing knowledge, information and best practice throughout the rest of the year.” Tim Hogan, Cricket World Cup 2019 (UK)

The 2019 Agenda The full E3S conference programme will be released in the coming weeks, in the meantime, sessions will include: • Opening and closing keynotes led by two eminent industry leaders. • Full tabletop exercise for delegates to explore current CT threats to events, identify how event organisers can conduct vulnerability assessments and identify protective security options. • Safeguarding vulnerable groups at events, and the new challenges posed by service provisions around mental health and wellbeing. • High-risk shows and dealing with violence on-site, on-site, from new best-practice guidance to evolving risk-assessment guidelines. •  The Solution Showdown: Ten quick-fire presentations of innovative new solutions or technologies, or research projects looking for a home. •  Cybersecurity workshop outlining strategies and methods for preparing against security and system breaches, and social media hacks. • Human behaviour analysis: the latest research in crisis reaction and behavioural detection and profiling. • The role of education and team development in countering threats and securing audiences.

Companies attending E3S 2019 include: ACC Liverpool, AEG Europe, Bergen Live, Crest Planning, Ethias Arena, Festival Republic, G4S, Intelligent Security, LW Theatres, Manchester Pride, MKTG, R3S Global, Raven Controls, Rosehill Security, Rule Out Loud Management, SafetyGroup / Security-Service-Schmitt, Showsec, Southbank Centre, Sportpaleis Group, The London Palladium & which one? London?


A delegate pass to E3S includes:


• Access to all panels, roundtable meetings, workshops and presentations • Delegate guide featuring contact information of all attendees • Annual subscription to IQ Magazine (worth £75) • Working breakfast and five-star lunch • Coffee, tea, smoothies and snacks throughout the day • Closing networking reception with complimentary drinks

Congress Centre 26 Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3LS

8 October 2019

To register or for the latest news and speakers: IQ Magazine July 2019



IQ Magazine May 2019

A High Cost

Touring & Mental Health

As society becomes more in tune with the importance of mental wellbeing, Anna Grace explores some of the initiatives aiming to make the live industry a healthier, happier place Humans in every profession and walk of life struggle with maintaining a healthy mind, and in an increasingly fast-paced and over-stimulated world, problems including anxiety, depression, insomnia, addiction and burn-out affect all corners of society. According to the World Health Organisation, one in four people will be affected by mental health issues at some point in their lives. Tragically, almost 800,000 lives are lost to suicide each year, equating to one death every 40 seconds. Mental health-related issues, then, are certainly not unique to the live music industry. However, many of the factors that contribute to problems – such as intense stimulation, irregular sleeping patterns, substance abuse, high pressure and loneliness – are often encountered by those within it. The “competitive, turbulent and stressful” nature of the live entertainment industry, as well as “long working hours, poor boundaries between social and work life, and easy access to drink and drugs” pose many challenges to those working within it, says agent-turned-psychotherapist Tamsin Embleton. The pressure to gain and maintain success at one end, and job precarity and financial pressures for those starting out in the industry, or working in low-level backstage positions, at the other, can also increase the risk of harmful behaviours. The specific demands and pressures thrown up by touring present further challenges to those working at all levels and in all sectors of the industry. “Live performers often have issues with loneliness,” states Association for Electronic Music (AFEM) regional manager Tristan Hunt, referencing the abrupt emotional comedown experienced after performing to a fan-filled venue. “Acts can also struggle with the demands of performing multiple times in a short period, or experience things like performance anxiety,” continues Hunt. “This is combined with access to substances to alleviate those pressures.”

“The doors always have to open, and the show always has to go on. There’s an incredible amount of pressure and euphoria, and when it’s over there’s quite a void in your life.” Andy Franks, Music Support

IQ Magazine July 2019

A recent study into musicians’ mental health, carried out by Swedish collection society Record Union, revealed that 73% of artists surveyed had suffered from mental health issues. Those working behind the scenes face similar issues, too. “Artists normally have management and a support network but the people around them are under immense strain, too,” Andy Franks, co-founder of mental health charity Music Support, tells IQ. “The doors always have to open, and the show always has to go on. There’s an incredible amount of pressure and euphoria, and when it’s over there’s quite a void in your life,” says Franks.

A rising awareness Conversations surrounding wellbeing within the industry have cropped up more and more in recent years. The tragic, high-profile suicide of Avicii, real name Tim Bergling, in 2018, and the death of Prodigy frontman Keith Flint earlier this year, shocked and saddened many and thrust mental wellbeing into the spotlight. Backstage, professionals speaking at and attending the ILMC Production Meeting (IPM) in March spoke of the “sad reality” of losing friends and colleagues to suicide, discussing ways in which working conditions could be altered to prioritise the welfare of staff. Support has sprung up in a variety of forms, from documents detailing modes of best practice, to scientific study into the mechanisms of a healthy mind, and music industryspecific helplines to offer a friendly and knowledgeable voice to those in need. Lina Ugrinovska, international booker at Macedoniabased Password Production was public about a 2016 burn out. “When I shared my own story, and every step of the way afterwards, I realised that talking about it really does makes a big difference,” she says, “I’m really pleased to see that many initiatives and support centres have been built, and personal stories have been shared.” Perceived stigma around mental health can often prevent individuals from speaking out, accentuating feelings of isolation and exacerbating the severity of issues. “Once shared, the problem gets smaller,” says Ugrinovska, who began her own initiative, Mental Health Care in the Music Industry, last year. Since then, she has been an advocate for mental health at international conferences across Europe and also formed part of the first decentralised Ni9ht H3lps


Mental health

“Competitive, turbulent, and stressful… long working hours, poor boundaries between social and work life, and easy access to drink and drugs…” Tamsin Embleton, psychotherapist workshop in Prague. However, in Ugrinovska’s native Macedonia, as well as the rest of the Balkan region, she says there is “nothing” to support music industry professionals struggling with mental health issues. “The market here is really small and so is the number of people involved in the industry, but we are also facing the same struggles and people do not know who they can turn to,” says Ugrinovska. The focus on mental health in panel discussions, expert talks and workshops at major industry conferences and events is a good step towards disseminating information about available services, as well as normalising and destigmatising the taboo. “People are hungry for information [about mental health and wellbeing], and they are also keen to find out about it in a slightly more dynamic way,” says Jenni Cochrane, cofounder of Get Ahead, a 24-hour “festival of the head.” Fusing education and entertainment, Get Ahead shines the spotlight on employee wellbeing, informs people of where to get help, and celebrates life, according to Cochrane. “There’s no real understanding of the damage mental health issues are having on musicians and other staff, too,” she states, “but collectively, we are all becoming more in tune with it.”

Fine-tuning Raising awareness and stimulating conversation is one way of removing stigma and encouraging people to voice their struggles. However, complex specificities continue to govern the culture of silence in many parts of the industry, as Lori Rubinstein, executive director of US-based Behind the Scenes Foundation, explains. “People who are used to being on tour are not used to speaking out – they are the ones who solve the problems,” states Rubinstein, whose foundation provides grants to production workers unable to work due to illness or injury. Being on the road, says the Behind the Scenes executive, means individuals are away from family and friends and often working in a temporary team of colleagues who are unlikely to pick up on changes in behaviour. The transitory and highly specific nature of touring also complicates the establishment of a relationship with a regular therapist, or other medical professional, who may be sensitive to the situation at hand. To combat these issues, some music industry professionals have taken matters into their own hands. Music Support came about from the desire to create a service that was “fine-tuned” to the needs of those in the music business, says co-founder Franks. Having suffered personally from addiction issues and finding himself “at a loss” as to how to tackle it, he wanted to prevent others from having the same


Contributors Jenni Cochrane, Get Ahead; Tamsin Embleton, Embleton Psychotherapy; Andy Franks, Music Support; Sally Anne Gross, artist manager/academic/author; Joe Hastings, Help Musicians UK; Tristan Hunt, AFEM; Tom Middleton, musician/ sleep science coach; Eric Mtungwazi, Music Support; Lori Rubinstein, Behind the Scenes Foundation; Lina Ugrinovska, Password Production.

“A mental health practitioner needs to become part of the team.” Tristan Hunt, Association for Electronic Music experience. The 24/7 helpline offers industry-specific advice and guidance for music industry professionals struggling with mental health-related issues and points them in the direction of appropriate medical help. The initiative has set up backstage areas known as “safe tents” at major music festivals across the UK, including Download, Reading and Leeds festivals and British Summer Time in Hyde Park, to offer people an “escape” and a space to get some respite and information.

IQ Magazine July 2019

Mental health

The spaces also host Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings for those struggling with addiction on the road. “Peer support is an incredible thing,” says Franks, “we don’t necessarily have all the solutions but we can let people know that this is not something they have to suffer alone.” Offering the clinical perspective is the Music Industry Therapist Collective, a group of psychotherapists and counsellors with a background in the industry. The collective, based in London and Los Angeles, works in person and online with individuals and bands, as well as offering workshops and group therapy. The collective is also working on a best practice guide, the Touring and Mental Health manual, to tackle issues including performance anxiety; relationship difficulties; addiction; stress and burn-out; trauma; and post-tour depression. The AFEM is another industry body releasing detailed advice in written form. The association recently launched The Electronic Music Guide To Mental Health, an update on The Music Manager’s Guide to Mental Health released by the Music Managers Forum (MMF) in 2016. The guide advocates introducing trained mental-health first-aiders into every work space throughout the industry. “A mental health practitioner needs to become part of the team,” stresses Hunt, who believes the role should be as integral an ancillary component as a tour manager or agent. All these initiatives look to create a network through which music industry professionals may feel comfortable to voice their struggles, anxieties or worries. However, many argue that in order to implement long-lasting and effective change, it is important to examine the root causes of mental health issues and mitigate problems before they develop.

Root causes “You can’t change a culture if you don’t change the structure,” says Sally Anne Gross, an artist manager, academic and co-author of Can Music Make You Sick?, a study into mental health in the music industry. “Attitudes have changed and are changing, but it’s very early to talk about change having been enacted: it doesn’t happen overnight – the way the industry is shaped is hundreds of years old.” Ugrinovska agrees, and speaks of the importance of investing in new generations to develop a healthier industry environment. “We need to start from the people who are entering the business,” says the Macedonian booker, “these first years are crucial for directing habits that will allow people to have good lives in the industry.” Music Support managing director Eric Mtungwazi looks at the other end of the scale, saying the focus ought to be on “how to maintain recovery in a broader sense and how to sustain years of working within this high-risk industry.” Mtungwazi believes the development of a strong peerto-peer network is the answer, establishing support groups both online and on the ground, all year round. A more united network across the globe, says Mtungwazi, would further amplify the positive work being done within each country. For electronic musician and sleep science coach Tom Middleton, getting more shut-eye is the key to everything. “It is clear that sleep is the foundation of mental and physical

IQ Magazine July 2019

wellbeing,” says Middleton. “There is a direct correlation between compromised mental health and lack of sleep, which adds up to a predisposition to suicidal inclination.” For a musician, work is a time of hyperstimulation, loud noises and bright lights and, as a result, performing artists are saturated with hormones that activate pleasure reward systems and then crash afterwards. Production crews are particularly susceptible to issues related to sleep deprivation, working from early morning to late at night. Music Support’s Franks admits that this is an area that “needs looking at” but adds that it’s complicated by the fact that “you’re not going to eliminate the way that touring is.” The addition of a supplementary crew to cover parts of the job would double the cost and showtimes are unlikely to change. Franks suggests the introduction of more days off, to counter the extra days worked, but notes that a lot of other issues would still remain. The constant exposure to loud noise also affects music professionals’ ability to sleep and leads to other mental health risks. As part of its preventative initiatives, charity Help Musicians UK focuses on safeguarding the hearing of those working in live. Through the Hearing Health Scheme, 10,000 music professionals have received access to special audiologist assessment and moulded hearing protection. The charity plans to undertake research into the impact of tinnitus on musicians in a recent partnership with the British Tinnitus Association.

A collaborative effort Joe Hastings, head of health and welfare at Help Musicians UK, is a strong advocate for co-operation within the industry. “We can do more by working together,” says Hastings, “and we will continue to collaborate with the sector to share knowledge, as well as influence and improve the working conditions of artists, to ultimately help sustain careers and a healthy music community.” However, a frequent complaint among clients seeing psychotherapist Embleton is a lack of support in their workplace, suggestive of an industry that is not pulling through on its promises. Embleton states that the industry must stop relying solely on outside services and analyse existing systems to implement the changes needed to improve working conditions, practices and workplaces. In a similar vein, Franks points to the industry’s major players, the big corporations, who “need to take a big step towards responsibility and awareness” and look after those working for them. Despite this, the concept of duty of care is growing within the industry. The diversity, creativity and worth of industryfocused initiatives tackling mental health is a testament to the strength and intelligence of the people working within it, many of whom are simultaneously striving to overcome their own personal issues. The conversation has begun and the live music industry is starting to deal with the specific issues and unique pressures it poses, but there is still a long way to go, as the human cost of touring can, at times, be all too high.


Japan Map Key Agent Promoter Venue Festival

AICHI Jailhouse Kyodo Tokai Sunday Folk Promotion Zoom Enterprise AKITA Oga Namahage Rock Festival FUKUOKA Big Ear Ants Kyodo Nishi Nippon Tsukusu

OKINAWA PM Agency Corona Sunsets OSAKA Greens Corporation Kyodo Kansai Group Page One Smash Corporation Sogo Osaka Sound creator UDO Artists Creator Kyocera Dome Maishima Sonic Park Hostess Club Weekender MetRock Summer Sonic

SAITAMA Saitama Super Arena


SHIGA Eat The Rock

HOKKAIDO Doshin Play Guide Kyodo Sapporo Music Fun Trust Creative Planning Wess Inc Rising Sun Rock Festival

SHIKOKU Monster Bash

ISHIKAWA Fobkikaku KANAGAWA Kyodo Yokohama KAWASAKI Dead Pop Festival KOUCHI Duke Corporation KYOTO NowWest1 MIYAGI GIP Guild Next News Promotion North Road Music MIYAKOJIMA Miyako Island Rock Festival MIYAZAKI Gakuon

TOCHIGI Arinowa TOKYO Johnny & Associates Upcoming Aiesu Any Ark Avex Entertainment Backstage Project Bandai Namco Live Creative Bunkahoso Kaihatsu Center Capital Village Creativeman Productions Disk Garage GMO H.I.P. Hot Stuff Promotion Kyodo Tokyo Live Nation Japan M&I Company Music League Nextroad Productions Office Genki Odyssey Pony Canyon Promax Smash Corporation Sogo Tokyo Sunrise Promotion Tokyo TV Asahi Corporation UDO Artists Vintage Rock

NAGANO Super Cast NAGASAKI Blaze Up Nagasaki Sky Jamboree NIIGATA Kyodo-Hokuriku Art Mix Festival

SADO ISLAND Earth Celebration

HIROSHIMA Candy Promotion Union Music Office

IWATE Kesen Rock

Young Communication Zen-A Corporation Zepp Live 7th Floor Aoyama Ariake Arena (under construction) Billboard Live Club Seata Gamuso KGR Liquidroom Makuhari Messe New National Stadium (under construction) Nippon Budokan Roppongi Varit Ruby Room RyĹ?goku Sumo Hall Shimokitazawa Three Tokyo Dome Tokyo Odaiba Ultra Park Toyosu Pit UFO Club Unit What The Dickens Yoyogi National Gymnasium Zepp Zher The Zoo Zozo Marine Stadium Amuse Fes Countdown Japan Download Electric Daisy Carnival Hostess Club Weekender MetRock Muro No Nukes Summer Sonic Ultra Japan Viva La Rock


YAMANASHI Sweet Love Shower YOKOHAMA Yokohama Arena Greenroom Yuzawa Fuji Rock












NANTO Suriyaki Meets The World OKAYAMA Yumebanchi Westside Outdoor Festival



IQ Magazine July 2019

LAND OF THE RISE IN FUN Japan’s live music business is dominated by domestic acts and a structure that Western companies find difficult to crack. But the addition of some new venues, post-Olympics could provide opportunities for international artists to improve their market share in the world’s second biggest market. Adam Woods reports.

‘Big in Japan’ was a term, in the 80s and 90s, for modestly successful American and European acts that found slightly unlikely mega-stardom in the Land of the Rising Sun.

It wasn’t an insult exactly – who wouldn’t want to be big in Japan? – but it was often used sneeringly, whether directed at Mr. Big, the early-90s rock supergroup who still hop up into the big leagues every time they touch down at Narita International Airport, or Scatman John, whose 1994 record Scatman’s World is, remarkably, Japan’s 17th biggestselling international album of all time. But the days when Japan might have been seen as an easily impressed bonus market for Western acts are long gone. Over the past 20 years or so, the balance has shifted dramatically, as Japanese domestic music output – as well as that of nearby frenemy South Korea – has surged in both quantity and quality. Today, international music takes, at most, a 10% share of the live market, with domestic on a commanding 85% and South Korea’s K-pop juggernaut accounting for about 5%. Today, the Japanese music market is the second biggest in the world, behind the US and ahead of Germany. Its live sector has set new records in both of the past two years, hitting ¥332billion in 2017 (around €2.7bn) and then rising again to ¥345bn (€2.8bn) in 2018 – a 3.7% uplift that came in spite of a small decline in the number of shows [source: All-Japan

IQ Magazine July 2019

Concert and Live Entertainment Promoters Conference). “The Japanese market in live entertainment has been on the upward trend since the middle of 2010, “ says ACPC director Takao Kito. “That’s not only because of the increase in live shows caused by a drop-off in CD sales, but because of a change in users’ minds from consuming products to experiences.” Clearly, Japan remains a highly appealing market for international promoters and artists, and the big ones are certainly chipping away at it. Live Nation has a Japanese office and, with local partners, has co-promoted plenty of recent arena shows. AEG, meanwhile, worked in partnership with Japanese giant Avex on its recent Ed Sheeran and Céline Dion concerts. But both global promoters know they face a stiff challenge to get much deeper into the Japanese business. “It is a very mature, competitive market that Live Nation has had a hard time getting traction in,” concedes Live Nation Japan president John Boyle, who has headed the giant’s Japanese push since early 2018. He says Live Nation has big hopes for Japan but fully appreciates the challenge of bringing them to fruition. “I think it is more challenging than anywhere else in the world,” he says. The fact is, for all its surging fortunes, Japan has numerous characteristics that fly in the face of Western


Japan music business orthodoxies and, in many cases, restrict access from outside. CDs remain dominant, claiming 80% of music sales, but though the physical market has certainly declined, streaming has not yet caught on, removing a vitally important channel for artists seeking to find exposure in a new market. Record companies remain powerful but heavily domestically focused, with local majors – of which there are many, including titans such as Avex, Universal, Sony Music Entertainment Japan and JVC Kenwood – unlikely to take a punt on an unknown foreign act, however successful they may be elsewhere. Tour support, once commonplace, has fallen out of fashion. Meanwhile, large venues, remarkably scarce in the immense sprawl of Tokyo, book up years in advance, with weekends often block-booked by domestic promoters working in groups. For international operators attempting to route world tours and finding only assorted weekday evenings available, locking down an appropriate venue at the right time becomes profoundly difficult. Where smaller international bands are concerned, the situation is not much easier. There are no booking agents in Japan, and mixed festival bills are limited and hard to crack. While promoters are heavily engaged in scouting new talent, few are tempted by foreign artists with little following. So new indie artists looking to build an audience typically need to deal direct with Japan’s rai-bu houses – small, private venues that usually don’t pay – and organise their own promotion. But of course, that 10% doesn’t come from nowhere. Sheeran, needless to say, does good business, selling out

the Tokyo Dome and Osaka’s Kyocera Dome in April, supported – as he was across all of Asia – by Japanese rock heroes One OK Rock. Live Nation, too, has its own pipeline: recent arena shows include Bruno Mars, Taylor Swift and Maroon Five, with U2, Queen + Adam Lambert and the Backstreet Boys coming soon. Paul McCartney, who spent a memorable nine nights in a Tokyo jail in 1980, once again has the run of the place: he has played 19 shows and a dozen VIP soundchecks in Japan since 2013 – at the Tokyo Dome, the Ryōgoku Sumo Hall and the Nippon Budokan in the capital, plus trips out to arenas in Nagoya, Osaka and Fukuoka. What is very clear though, is that, Western rock and pop sensations aside, Japan’s growth is very much coming from within. “I have been in this business for nearly 45 years,” says Yoshito Yamazaki of long-serving music, sport and musical theatre promoter Kyodo Tokyo, which promotes Korean sensations BTS in Japan, “and I’d say the market for international artists – not counting K-pop – is now around one-third of what it was 45 years ago.” Japan’s own J-pop is a broad and varied thing, nominally encompassing everything from singer-songwriters such as Kenshi Yonezu and Gen Hoshino, to multiplatinum poprockers Mr. Children, to J-pop/metal fusion Babymetal, although its most prominent category is idol groups – manufactured pop bands assembled by all-powerful, notoriously controlling management agencies. Many of Japan’s major pop stars are made this way, including boy bands Arashi, KAT-TUN, Exile, Suchmos and others, and girl bands such as AKB48, Morning Musume,

Creativeman’s twin Summer Sonic festivals are among the biggest events in the Japanese calendar


IQ Magazine July 2019


Contributors “I think it is more challenging than anywhere else in the world.” John Boyle, Live Nation Japan

Momoiro Clover Z, Keyakizaka46, Nogizaka46, who inspire obsessive cults and make most of their income through live work and, more to the point, relentless merchandising. Homegrown rock is booming in Japan, too, led by Babymetal but also One OK Rock, Band-Maid, Scandal and Man With A Mission. And, of course, the nation has long supplied intriguing cult artists to the rest of the world, from the Yellow Magic Orchestra and its lynchpins Haruomi Hosono and Ryuichi Sakamoto to Shonen Knife, Cornelius, The Boredoms, and Boris. K-pop, meanwhile, has made a big impression in Japan, even as diplomatic relations between the two countries have soured in recent years. But unlike Western artists, Korean stars such as BTS, Blackpink and Twice record Japanese versions of their songs. In a country where little English is spoken – and even less Korean – such things make a difference. Ticketing in Japan revolves around three major players: market-leader PIA, e+ and Lawson HMV Entertainment, who operate in tandem with vast networks of convenience stores, which use in-store machines to dispense tickets. In the case of PIA, 90% of tickets are booked online - often as part of a fan club sale or on-sale lottery - and collected in-store. “The ticketing business has used convenience store networks for a long time,” says PIA director Motoharu Murakami. “We guess ticketing will go more online, but these strong relationships will continue for a while, as convenience stores are an important sales network.”A law that forbids ticket touting, both online and outside venues, for shows where the organiser has prohibited resale, came into effect on 14 June. Anyone who violates the new law can be punished with a one-year prison sentence, a fine of up to ¥1million (€8,200), or both. “The next step for the market is the construction of an appropriate secondary ticketing market which operates within the law,” says Kito.

Promoters “Here is what is happening with kids in Japan,” says veteran promoter Massy Hayashi, attempting to explain the long-standing drop-off in the appeal of international music. “Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken have become a part of their everyday life – so much so that they do not even know these companies are originally from the USA. It is similar to when a kid in Texas thinks Sony is an American company.

“This was not the case for Japanese people who are now beyond their 40s,” he continues. “They used to have a passion for a different lifestyle overseas but that is gone with kids today and their passion for international music has gone the same way.”

IQ Magazine July 2019

John Boyle, Live Nation Japan; Massy Hayashi, H.I.P.; Motoharu Murakami, PIA Atsuo Kurabayashi, TV Asahi/ EX Theater Roppongi; Sebastian Mair, Creativeman; Tomoko Moore, Billboard Live; Yoichi Shibuya, Rockin’On; Tack Takahashi, UDO Artists; Yoshito Yamazaki, Kyodo Tokyo.

Hayashi International Promotion (H.I.P.) has been promoting overseas and domestic artists for more than 40 years, and remains one of Japan’s best known promoters for international acts, having promoted stars from AC/DC to Justin Bieber and Japanese artists including Ken Hirai, Miliyah Kato and Hi-Standard. But YouTubers and ‘anisong’ – anime-related music – are today’s best bets, says Hayashi. Along with Creativeman, Udo Artists and Fuji Rock promoter Smash Corporation, H.I.P. remains one of the goto promoters for international artists coming to Japan, but all have upped their domestic game in recent years as prospects for overseas artists have thinned. “Fans of overseas acts and domestic acts are two separate things, and are subdivided accordingly,” says Udo president Tack Takahashi. “There is still a demand for international music, though not so much for bands anymore. Idols and dance-related music have the biggest appeal to Japanese audiences.” Touring prospects for international artists have changed accordingly. “Japanese artists can still hit secondary markets with their high demand,” says Hayashi, “but headline tours are very hard for International artists now. You either have to be a superstar or an upcoming artist, and it’s difficult for mid-range artists.” Hostess Entertainment Unlimited, the local label founded at the turn of the millennium by British expat Andrew Lazonby, represents numerous UK independent labels in Japan, including Beggars Group, Pias and Domino, though its regular Hostess Club Weekender mini-festivals in Tokyo and Osaka, which gave Japanese exposure to Vampire Weekend,



“…the market for international artists – not counting K-pop – is now around one-third of what it was 45 years ago.” Yoshito Yamazaki, Kyodo Tokyo

Hot Chip, Spiritualized and Dinosaur Jr, among others, have given way to more standard shows. Even for bigger artists, the circuit has contracted. “International artists used to run to between five and seven cities around the country in Japan, and now it is really only Tokyo and Osaka,” says Hayashi. Partly, that’s because Japan is small with excellent transport, and partly because large productions are expensive to move. Bruno Mars and Taylor Swift stayed put on recent trips to Japan for H.I.P./Live Nation, the former playing four nights at Saitama Super Arena with 90,672 tickets sold, the latter doing two shows at the 55,000-cap Tokyo Dome in Bunkyo City. Artists who made their name in the golden days can always return to Japan, it seems, as Udo’s recent run confirms. “The music market here in the first half of 2019 was very positive for us,” says Takahashi. “We had concerts by Yes, Toto, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Boz Scaggs and Kraftwerk. It’s certainly true, though, that promoters are booking more domestic acts than ever.” Of the small sub-set of global promoters, Live Nation Japan is pushing hardest to establish itself, co-promoting with a variety of local operators in its ongoing search to lay lasting foundations for its own operation. “The domestic guys drive the market,” says Boyle. “And the Japanese are not ones to build companies to sell them. It’s hard for us to come in and buy market share, so we have to grow organically. Though that doesn’t mean we are not going to try to acquire things: we are.” The companies that populate the mainstream Japanese market are diverse and numerous. For domestic repertoire, there are busy promoters in each of Japan’s eight regions,


while broadcasters such as Fuji, Wowow and Asahi all have concert divisions. But the true power players in the Japanese domestic business are management stables, which typically create their talent from scratch and own it lock, stock and barrel, live work and all. “The domestic side is extremely competitive, and it is primarily the management companies that control that area,” says Sebastian Mair, a Canadian expat of 23 years and a director at Creativeman. “A lot of people probably don’t realise, but if you look at it overall, probably the biggest promoter in Japan is Johnny & Associates.” The talent agency, which specialises in boy bands, launched in 1962 and can claim many of the all-time biggest idol groups, including 90s and 00s stars SMAP, Arashi, KATTUN and KinKi Kids. To this day, founder Johnny Kitagawa holds the world record for the most concerts produced by an individual, having staged 8,419 shows between 2000 and 2010, though rumours of the 87 year old’s imminent retirement swirl. A look at the star-making machinery behind Japan’s biggest stars, and particularly the idols that have dominated the pop business since the 1980s, reveals an intricacy and depth to the artist-fan relationship that is indigenous to this market. While Johnny invented the Japanese manufactured pop game, the AKB48 girl group, founded by producer Yasushi Akimoto in 2005, is the phenomenon that has defined the modern approach. Drawing on a cast of more than 100 members, aged between 13 and 27, the group splits into themed teams, elements of which perform daily at the group’s own theatre in the Akihabara district of Tokyo that provided their name. Billed as ‘idols you can meet,’ the girls also perform regular handshake events for fans, who can vote, once a year, to determine the line-up for the next single. In a canny twist, ballots are included in physical CDs, which are often bought many times over by keen fans. The group surpassed 50m single sales last September, and you’d need to go back to 2009 – 43 singles ago – to find one that didn’t top the Oricon weekly singles chart. Devilishly, AKB48 have broken through Japanese borders as well, with spin-off groups in Vietnam (SGO48, for Saigon), the Philippines (MNL48, for Manila), Indonesia (JKT48, for Jakarta – you’re getting the hang of this) and BNK48 in Thailand. Their material, by and large, consists of Japanese AKB48 songs, neatly translated into the relevant local language, be it Thai, Vietnamese or Tagalog. AKB48 have spawned many imitators, even within Akimoto’s own AKS stable, including several sister groups and an ‘official rival group’ in Nogizaka46, a lean outfit with only 44 members and 22 consecutive number-one singles of their own. Nogizaka46’s 2019 tour dates trouble themselves with no venue smaller than a baseball stadium. The devotion that idol groups inspire is not limited just to J-pop. Even fans of credible rock acts compete to acquire every last item of merchandise, with doors opening several hours before shows

IQ Magazine July 2019


“Japan is very much about customer satisfaction. You see it in all facets of life. The service here is probably better than anywhere else in the world, and that includes festivals.” Sebastian Mair, Creativeman

for merch sales. Fan clubs are also highly powerful, and it is standard practice for tickets to be offered to their members for several weeks before going on general sale. The power of the management stable in the Japanese industry has driven promoters to explore their own methods of talent generation. In April, for instance, Udo Artists announced its own management agency, known as Upcoming, with the aim of developing its own artists from scratch. The venture is a 50:50 one with ticketing firm Pia, which brings to the party its 12m subscribers. Takahashi acknowledges that such offshoots constitute a break with long-established traditions on a number of fronts, but clearly, today’s market calls for promoters to take broader positions. “When Mr. [Seijiro] Udo [now-retired founder of Udo Artists] was in charge, the business was very specialised,” says Takahashi. “There was no collaboration with other companies and Udo Artists was very focused on promoting shows from overseas. But over the years, we have shifted to working with other entities and developing new business.”

international It is easy to identify Japan purely as an underexploited market for international talent, but it works both ways, and numerous Japanese stars are highly ambitious in their plans to explode out of Asia.

to the West,” says Boyle. “It is slow, and it’s evolving, but we want to take some of these great artists around Asia and around the world.” Others with both domestic and international talent on their books are thinking in similar ways. While it is a general rule that international and domestic music are fairly separate industries in Japan, there are exceptions. “We just announced Austin Mahone’s tour in Japan, in which he will be collaborating with Travis Japan, managed by Johnny’s, who can sell Yokohama Arena,” says Hayashi. “The two artists promoted the shows together, with exposure on various media including national TV. As a result, Austin Mahone became nationally known with a drastically larger presence in Japan. It’s a win-win situation, since strong Japanese artists have great promotional power and the international artist becomes a gateway for them to the international market further down the road.” An inconvenient snag in the plan to blend the musical cultures of West and East is our opposing attitudes to the wonders of streaming. In Japan, streaming is responsible for barely 10% of recorded music revenues, compared to around a half, globally, and three-quarters in the US. But while Japan remains a physical market, such revenues are declining, indicating that a switch to an online model, sooner or later, is inevitable. Undoubtedly, once streaming takes root in Japan, Western artists will have an important new channel. Spotify, Apple Music and local equivalents such as RecoChoku, LIME Music and AWA are all present, but local record companies’ reluctance to depart from the physical model means the vast majority of Japanese hit songs aren’t licensed to streaming services. The consequent lack of traction means international and domestic acts are deprived of a potent breakthrough tool – although YouTube, it must be noted, is as popular in Japan as it is elsewhere. “A lot of it is Japan going through that shift to streaming, but it has been in that trough for such a long time,” says Mair. “The playlist thing just hasn’t reached Japan’s shores yet, and until it does, a lot of international music will continue to fall through the cracks.”

Babymetal have supported the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Metallica and Guns N’ Roses outside Japan, and their upcoming dates include headline shows at London’s O2 Academy Brixton and, as part of an 18-date US tour, the L.A. Forum. Sekai no Owari, famed for their spectacular live show, are working on an English-language album. Meanwhile, Hiroshima pop trio Perfume and all-female rock band Band-Maid, who dress as maid-café waitresses, have global Live Nation deals, as do Man With A Mission and 40m-selling veterans L’Arc-en-Ciel. Boyle is aware that Live Nation has the potential to act as a two-way bridge for talent in and out of Japan, though he recognises that this type of free cultural exchange is not easily achieved. “There is a lot of work to do, but we are working hard to build the relationships and put together strategies for those acts to come

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Japan Artists are not the only potential Western export, of course, and the power of Broadway and West End shows to fill Japanese theatres is still evident, judging by the success of productions such as Cats and The Lion King, the likes of which have been brought to Japan in translation by companies such as the Shiki Group from the late-1970s. The most effective productions, understandably, are those that have been shrewdly cast with local appeal in mind, according to Yamazaki of Kyodo Tokyo, which is also heavily involved in Western musicals. “If Japanese stars get involved in US/UK stage productions, they naturally get more attention from the public,” says Yamazaki. “The King And I, featuring Ken Watanabe, was quite popular, and the reactions to our stage production of Chicago the Musical have also been very good.”

Festivals Outside Japan, festivals such as Smash’s Fuji Rock and Creativeman’s Summer Sonic are the best known of the country’s big events, though there is plenty more in the calendar besides. Fuji Rock – not actually anywhere near Mount Fuji since 1999, but in Yuzawa, 300km north – brings 100-150,000 people to a ski resort in Niigata Prefecture each summer for hot springs and alternative music with a Western

slant. This year, the Chemical Brothers, The Cure and Sia top a bill that also includes such hip Japanese names as Asian Kung-Fu Generation, Clammbon, Ego-Wrappin’, Ginnan Boyz, DYGL and Tempalay.

Summer Sonic takes place across the middle weekend in August at Tokyo’s Zozo Marine Stadium and Makuhari Messe exhibition hall - which adjoin each other in Chiba City on the shores of Tokyo Bay - and at Osaka’s Maishima Sonic Park. It skews towards pop and rock, with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, The 1975, Weezer and The Chainsmokers mixing it with B’z, Perfume, Babymetal, Man With A Mission and Radwimps this year on a sprawling bill. “It is the 20th anniversary of Summer Sonic this year, and it is going to be a three-day festival, as opposed to two in the past,” says Mair. “We sold out day two in May, three months before the festival itself, and I don’t think we have ever had a day that has sold out that early.” Just like everywhere else, the festival craze of the past decade or two has left a fairly saturated market, though the big names are typically very robust, and are generally big for a good reason. “There are a lot of festivals that have been running for many years, and it has been extremely stable,” says Mair. “A lot of the older names will sell out year in and year out, although some of the younger festivals can take a few years to build the same loyalty. “That is Japan in a nutshell, in many ways,” he adds. “Japan is very much about customer satisfaction. You see it in all facets of life. The service here is probably better

Japan Rising Sun Rock Festival in Hokkaido (Photo: © RSR Team)

than anywhere else in the world, and that includes festivals. Managers and agents from abroad are always astounded by how well they work. They are safe and peaceful, and people are there for the music as opposed to anything else.” Monthly music magazine Rockin’On is a major festival player through its four-day Rock In Japan and Countdown Japan events, both focusing exclusively on J-pop and J-rock. The former covers the first two weekends in August at Hitachi Seaside Park in Hitachinaka City, 120km north-east of Tokyo, the latter a four-day New Year’s Eve blowout at the Makuhari Messe. Both draw crowds of around 60,000 a day. The magazine long ago made its name by refusing to grant pop-star interviewees copy approval in the accustomed local style. Its festivals also dictate their own rules, with a strict ban on moshing and stagediving. Founder Yoichi Shibuya’s focus on the comfort of his audience extends to a pledge to make incoming fans queue for no more than five minutes. “We believe that the attendees are the stars of the event, it’s not all about the music,” Shibuya told the Japan Times in 2015. “The concept and the environment that we offer are the most essential parts.” International names are beginning to dot the festival calendar, too. Ultra Japan, promoted in Japan by Avex, is the biggest EDM festival in the country, and takes place over two days at Tokyo Odaiba Ultra Park, spearheaded primarily by globetrotting superstar DJs. In a somewhat similar spirit,

Insomniac teams with local promoter GMO to bring its Las Vegas-derived Electric Daisy Carnival to Zozo Marine Stadium & Makuhari Messe. Live Nation and Creativeman brought Download to Japan for the first time in March, subbing a sick Ozzy Osbourne for Judas Priest at the last moment, combined with Slayer and Anthrax, selling out Makuhari Messe. Others, such as H.I.P., take a slightly different approach. “We successfully promoted Ozzfest Japan in 2013 and 2015, and we also launched [the Slipknot-centric] Knotfest Japan in 2014 and 2016,” says Hayashi. “My interest is to continue promoting festivals like these that feature the main artist, rather than just putting various bands together.” Nagasaki-based three-piece rock band Shank operate their own self-produced festival, Blaze Up Nagasaki, in the city’s Huis Ten Bosch theme park. The event obeys a DIY ethos, employing local production, management and catering, but with infrastructure and backing provided by Avex, which is both the band’s management company and its label under a 360° deal.

Venues Japan’s concert business, particularly for international acts, is highly Tokyo-centric. The Kanto region, which includes Tokyo, Yokohama and Saitama, saw 12,415 shows last year – nearly twice as many as in the Kinki region that includes second city Osaka [source: ACPC]. So it’s unfortunate that, for the time being at least, Tokyo isn’t currently terribly concert-centric.

“The big story in Japan – the big story in Tokyo, specifically – is the lack of venues,” says Boyle. “Tokyo has a population of 37m people, and for a market that big, there’s five or six venues that are bigger than 10,000 capacity. In LA, there’s probably 15 or 20 for a market that is a fraction of the size.” Takao Kito of the ACPC confirms the situation isn’t ideal, and points to the Olympics as both the partial cause

The loss of Tokyo’s Nippon Budokan venue for its Olympic Games refit has taken its toll on the city’s live events business


IQ Magazine July 2019


“We believe that the attendees are the stars of the event, it’s not all about the music.” Yoichi Shibuya, Rockin’On

and the eventual salvation of the situation, having taken venues such as Yoyogi National Gymnasium (handball), the Nippon Budokan (judo) and the Ryōgoku Kokugikan (boxing) out of the reckoning for parts of this year and next. “The decline in the number of events is largely a result of the preparations for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, as well as a growing concentration of shows at the weekend,” he says. “Some large, pivotal venues have been closed ahead of Tokyo 2020, and old existing venues have been repaired. When the competition venues are restored to their original condition after the Olympics, and new venues are constructed in the metropolitan area, this issue will be solved. Actually, we guess venues will be rather oversupplied because of the upsurge of venues.” In the meantime, for a big show in Tokyo, the most popular choices in the city are the Tokyo Dome and the vast but adaptable Makuhari Messe. The 37,000-cap Saitama Super Arena, 17 miles from the centre of Tokyo, is just 25 minutes on the train, and has hosted Madonna, Ariana Grande and Janet Jackson in recent years, as well as local stars such as Babymetal, One OK Rock, GACKT and Sekai no Owari. Even at the best of times, it’s hard to find a venue. “The big venues get held two years out on all the key weekends, primarily by domestic promoters who do most of the volume,” says Boyle. “And then they fill those halls with acts, and if they can’t, then horse-trading happens. “That’s the big challenge. The big opportunity is the Olympics are coming in 2020, and with the Olympics, three or four major arenas, one of which we have secured the booking rights to already.” Boyle can’t reveal which one, but Tokyo’s venues under construction include the 60-80,000-capacity New National Stadium in Shinjuku, a 15,000-cap hockey stadium and the 15,000-cap Ariake Arena in the northern part of Tokyo’s Ariake district, which will become a sporting and cultural centre after the Olypmics. The Musashino no Mori sports

plaza, which will host badminton, fencing and modern pentathlon, opened in 2017 and has already provided a venue for Judas Priest. Clubs and smaller venues are easier to come by. In Tokyo, there are dozens, and busy smaller ones include The Liquidroom in Ebisu, the tiny Ruby Room in Shibuya, Three in Shimokitazawa and UFO Club in Koenji. Larger are the busy 3,000-cap Toyosu Pit and the 2,700cap Zepp Tokyo, which has sister halls in Sapporo, Nagoya and Osaka. But in small-to-medium categories Tokyo is again lacking, says Atsuo Kurabayashi, general manager of TV Asahi Corporation’s 1,740-standing capacity EX Theater Roppongi, where in recent years you could have caught Paul Weller, Charlotte Gainsbourg, PiL and the Pixies. “The excess concentration of population in the Tokyo metropolitan area is remarkable, and it is getting worse year by year,” says Kurabayashi. “Same for the live scene, where 40% of venues are in the Tokyo area and only 5% in Osaka, the second largest city in Japan. And still, there is a lack of venues that offer 1,000 to 2,000 seats. Luckily, we operate at 90% of capacity.” The Billboard Live chain of grown-up, 300-cap supper-club style venues will open a third club next year in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, to follow established sites in Tokyo and Osaka, under the corporate parentage of Hanshin Electric Railway Ltd. Artists including George Benson, Burt Bacharach and Steely Dan have played there over the years. “The idea is to create a run [of clubs] so artists can tour them,” says Billboard Live’s Tomoko Moore. “Yokohama is very beautiful and relaxed, and they are restructuring and re-planning its centre as an entertainment centre, so there will be two new arenas right next door to our club. One of those will be a 10,000-cap hall built by PIA, which will be completed next year. “This is the first case in Japan where a private company has built and managed a 10,000-cap arena on its own,” says Murakami. The 17,000-cap Yokohama Arena, modelled on Madison Square Garden, is another busy venue. The government has also recently relaxed laws on integrated casino resorts, and now several major new developments are planned across the country, with state-ofthe-art concert and entertainment venues a likely feature.

Ticketing giant PIA is planning to open a new 10,000-capacity arena in Yokohama next year


IQ Magazine July 2019

© Giovanni Gastel

Livin’ La Vita De Luca In the late 70s, Roberto De Luca dipped his toes into the live music business, as a necessity to fund a radio station. Forty years later, Gordon Masson discovers De Luca’s passion for creating innovative live events is still as strong as ever.


ike so many of his peers, Roberto De Luca’s path to the upper echelons of the live music business has not been the result of some carefully plotted plan, but rather a set of fortunate circumstances. In 1976, Roberto launched one of Italy’s first commercial radio stations – Punto Radio 96 – but, like so many fledgling enterprises, he found it tricky to balance the books. “I was doing the programming as well as selling advertising but the station was not making money, so I decided to do some live shows to try to pay some of the bills,” he recalls. “At the start, I was acting as a local promoter for Italian artists, but in 1980 I did a show with my first international artist, Carmel. And then I started working with the likes of Gianni Togni and Sergio Caputo, who I also managed, so my career in music started pretty quickly.” His upbringing also involved music, although teenage rebellion hinted that sport was more compelling than performing. “I was playing classical piano from the age of about ten to 14, in my hometown, Novaro, but I was more into football,” explains the Juventus fan. “I remember having a ‘four-hands’ concert when I was to perform alongside a girl, and my mother warned me not to play football before the concert. I obviously ignored her and ended up playing the concert with stitches in my head.”

IQ Magazine July 2019

Other teenage musical memories aren’t quite so painful. “In 1970, I went on holiday with friends to Holland. We’d driven to Amsterdam in a blue Fiat 500 and were sleeping in a twoman tent in a campsite near a speedway track. In fact, we drove there via the Nürburgring and took the car around the track – the steam was pouring out of the car when we finished. “But we went to see The Who and there are two things I remember about it: there was a man dressed all in white on stage – that was Pete Townsend; and the second thing was that there was a girl two rows in front of me who was completely naked.”

Stethoscopes to Stages


hat lesson in anatomy wasn’t to be his last. “I studied to be a doctor. My exam results were pretty good and I was looking to go into the research side of things.” As a result, his move toward rock & roll, and the founding of Punto Radio, were brave steps. “It was a difficult conversation to have with my parents,” he says. “They were always very


Roberto De Luca nice and very easy with me but they had basically given me three choices for a career: doctor, lawyer or engineer. “My dad was a bus driver and my mother worked for the city council, but they wanted me to do something that would let me have a better lifestyle. So I think I disappointed them a bit… My father thought I was a car dealer because every time I visited them I was driving a different car.” Landing himself a job working for established promoter Franco Mamone, De Luca was determined to maximise his entrepreneurial skills and grab a piece of the action. “The first company I was involved in owning was Prima Spectaculo. I had a 25% stake and Franco owned the rest: then, we had a similar relationship at InTalent.” That pact with Mamone wasn’t to last, however, leading De Luca to launch Bonne Chance in 1985, putting him in direct competition with his former business partner. “I quickly found out that Bonne Chance wasn’t such a good name for the music business, so I changed it to Milano Concerti and I started working with lots of promising international acts at the start of their careers – people like Depeche Mode and Peter Gabriel, as well as artists like Bob Dylan, Van Morrison and Jovanotti, and the company just started to get bigger and bigger.” Asked about mentors who helped him learn the ropes, De Luca points to “people I admired, like Miles Copeland with the Police, Ed Bicknell, Paul McGuinness, Ron Delsener and Bill Graham. I’d look at what they did and how they did it and try to do something similar. But I also learned a lot from other promoters like Thomas Johansson, Leon Ramakers and Marek Lieberberg.” In terms of agents, he cites Pete Nash, Chris Dalston, Steve Hedges, Dave Chumbley, Barry Dickins, Rod MacSween and Martin Hopewell. “They were really good to me in the early days, as was Andy Woolliscroft, while Mike Greek and Emma Banks have always been amazing. And nowadays people like Michael Rapino, Arthur Fogel and Guy Oseary are interesting to follow, while I have learned a lot from Jonathan Kessler and I’m very good friends with David Levy. “There are so many wonderful individuals in this business, and you can always learn new things from them. Jon Ollier really impresses me, as do James Whitting, Adele Slater and Geoff Meall at Coda.”

Changing the Italian Landscape

“We’re accountants, lawyers, business men, gamblers, but we all suffer because we are not talented enough to be the artist…” For his part, De Luca recalls early riots because people thought concerts should be free. “Artists and production people were afraid to come to Italy. But for many years now they have been happy to come here and I like to think I helped change those attitudes. It wasn’t only me – there were other promoters who helped to make the business more professional and reliable in Italy. So between us we’ve definitely made it a secure country for touring.” Thanks to De Luca’s drive and ambition in getting international artists to visit, Milano Concerti quickly became Italy’s biggest promoter, and by the early 90s was organising stadium shows with a number of artists, including the likes of homegrown superstar Tiziano Ferro. Indeed, De Luca’s track record in selling Italian talent to other territories is second to none. This year, for example, Marco Mengoni is embarking on 35 arena shows in Italy, and 20 dates elsewhere in Europe.

From MC to LN


aving helped make Italy a legitimate touring market for international acts, Milano Concerti’s efforts inevitably piqued the interest of bigger fish. In 2001, De Luca was approached by Clear Channel regarding a possible takeover and found himself in New York having meetings with Bob Sillerman. “Thomas Johansson and Leon Ramakers told me good things about how the company operated, so we started negotiations and finalised the deal in 2002,” he says. “At that time the boss in Europe was Michael Rapino. We had a good relationship and I could see he was a great guy and very clever – it was obvious to me that he would quickly become the boss. “Fundamentally we are all promoters and we share similar attributes – we’re accountants, lawyers, business men, gamblers, but we all suffer because we are not talented enough to be the artist…”


alking to De Luca’s long-term business associates, the one accolade they all bestow upon him is his key role in transforming Italy into a bona fide touring market. ILMC’s Martin Hopewell is typical. “Along with Claudio Trotta, Roberto De Luca is one of the people who made the Italian business a little more predictable,” says Hopewell. “It was the Wild West before Roberto and his peers helped to stabilise the market.” ITB’s Rod MacSween agrees. “Italy has not always been the easiest market but Roberto and his great team make it a regular pleasure to play there,” he says, while Live Nation colleague, Arthur Fogel, notes, “Roberto has brought the highest level of organisation and professionalism to Italy. I have always relied on him for his expertise, great execution and without a doubt his sense of calm. He and his team are first rate.” Roberto with daughter Francesca


IQ Magazine July 2019

Roberto De Luca With Laura Pausini, Fiorella Mannoia, Gianna Nannini and Elisa at the ‘Amiche per l’Abruzzo’ concert

“Of course, there have been some financial disasters but that’s part of the game when you are a promoter.” As one of life’s eternal optimists, De Luca is enjoying the busiest time of his career. But even he is wary about the pressure that numerous tours and shows are putting on the wallets of fans. “The last three or four years, there have been so many shows – maybe too many,” he observes. “At some point somebody is going to suffer, so I think we’re all now thinking we have to be more careful than we were in the recent past about the number of shows we promote. “In saying that, the last three or four years have each been record breaking for us, in terms of turnover and tickets sold.” Such healthy returns mean that Live Nation hierarchy simply let De Luca get on with things – a strategy, he reports, has been in place since day one of the takeover. “I run the company as my company, so I pay a lot of attention – even more than I did in the past for myself. The bottom line is that I still believe I can lose my house if a show doesn’t work, so I keep a close eye on everything.” Luca Tosolini, of eps Italia, has experience of De Luca’s hands-on approach. “I’ve known Roberto for more than 20 years, having worked with him during the Milano Concerti, Clear Channel and now Live Nation days, and he’s always fantastic to deal with,” says Tosolini. “He often gets involved in making onsite decisions about where to position barriers. In fact, it’s not unusual to see Roberto helping eps crews with our work – for someone in his position, that’s unique!” PRG supplies much of the motion and video equipment for De Luca’s shows and the company’s senior account manager, Wim Despiegelaere, has worked with the Live Nation boss for the last decade. “I first worked with him on Negramaro,” says Despiegelaere. “Roberto is very involved in everything and he usually plays a big part in the design of a show: for every band he promotes, he wants to do something new that hasn’t been seen in Italy before.” Despiegelaere says that De Luca’s creative drive sometimes means that budgets and design can conflict, “but Roberto has a skill to find compromise and keep everyone happy. He’s a great promoter to work with, a lovely guy with big ideas – we are both old school and when you shake hands with Roberto, then you know the deal is done and everything will be good.” Depeche Mode manager, Jonathan Kessler, who also admires that work ethic, tells IQ, “I first met Roberto when I was working with Neil Young, I think. The thing I immediately appreciated about him – and I still do to this day – is that he was at the venue first thing in the morning to greet the trucks and he’d stay there until the very end of the day to work through any problems.” While such attention to detail is unusual among top promoters, De Luca offers a simple explanation: “The promoter is responsible for everything that happens in a venue: if you break your leg, I am responsible, so I have to think how to best look after the audience, the artist, the musicians, the crew, security, everything.” And disclosing some of his fundamental principles, he adds, “This is a business, but you should conduct your business with empathy and remember it’s also a lot more One of Roberto’s early Bonne Chance adverts


IQ Magazine July 2019

Roberto De Luca

than just a business. Have respect for everyone from the stagehands to artist management – if you respect them, then they will respect you. In my 40 years in business I cannot remember ever having a fight with someone. Of course, there are discussions about things like the counts after a show, but not arguments – it’s not how I work.” De Luca is also quick to acknowledge his Live Nation colleagues, both in Italy and around the world, for their part in making the concert business such a tour de force. “Thanks to Live Nation, I believe it’s a more professional business now,” he states. “I’ve been in a partnership relationship with Live Nation for 17 or 18 years now, but I’m free to run the company as I like. They are behind me and support me but I don’t feel any pressure.” However, he acknowledges that his role has evolved under the parent company. “I’m a promoter and a producer, but we are getting a bit into venues as well – we’ve managed the Pala Alpitour in Torino since 2010. It was built as an ice hockey arena but it’s by far the best venue in Italy in terms of facilities.” Indeed, his familiarity with the Olympics site in Torino dates back to the Games themselves. “In 1996, we did the closing ceremony, while in the Medal Plaza we had 15 concerts with artists including Andrea Bocelli, Jamiroquai, Duran Duran and Whitney Houston – a couple of which took place when it was snowing. In fact, we had 30cm of snow on one night. Thankfully the stage was designed as a helmet, so it covered the performance area and everything was able to stay dry.”

Rossi-tinted Glasses


rguably, De Luca’s biggest influence in Italian music has been in helping Vasco Rossi become the country’s biggest rock star. As two luminaries of the country’s music scene, it was almost inevitable the men would become friends. “I was born on 6 February 1952 and Vasco was born 7 February 1952,” reveals De Luca. “The first time we met was at a concert at the very beginning of his career, before I was a promoter, but it was a long time before our paths crossed again.” Nonetheless, De Luca’s influence since that second meeting has been phenomenal. “I suggested to Vasco that he launch the first Heineken Jammin’ festival – 100,000 people for one day at Imola race track. I was confident that he could do those kind of numbers if we made it his only show of 1998, and then, the following year, he could start doing stadium shows.” With the duo’s working relationship now spanning more than 20 years, they have also enjoyed a unique mutual career highlight – a monumental show at the former Parco Ferrari in Modena, to more than 200,000 ecstatic Rossi fans. “Modena Park wasn’t long after some terrorist attacks on other music events, so it was a big operation,” De Luca tells IQ. “On the day, I spent all of my time scanning the footage from our security cameras around the site – we had more

Roberto De Luca Escorting Vasco Rossi to yet another stadium stage

With 40 years under his belt, looking for a unique venue or devising unconventional campaigns helps keep De Luca engaged and invigorated. “I always try to do something different with every act in terms of production or advertising or whatever,” he says, citing a deal he made with a ferry company to brand its vessels with Vasco Rossi’s image ahead of his shows in Cagliari this summer. “I like moving advertising – like on buses or taxis – so this is just a very big extension of that idea,” he laughs. “But every artist has different fans, so you cannot do the same advertising and marketing for everyone: you have to think hard about how you engage with people – we are selling emotions, not a product.”

Put On Your Red Shoes…


than 50 cameras – and checking the entrances to monitor crowd flow.” With the show date less than six weeks after the May 2017 terror attack on Manchester Arena, De Luca believes what he and his team pulled off was remarkable. “We were lucky nothing happened during the show,” he confesses. “We could have maybe sold an extra 10-15,000 tickets, but I decided to stop the sales because we’d sold 225,000 tickets in just two days. But as far as I know, it is the biggest concert ever, in terms of tickets sold.” Pulling off such a record-breaking feat helped cement De Luca’s position as Italy’s go-to promoter, but with long-term relationships with the likes of Bon Jovi, Peter Gabriel, Nick Cave, Robert Plant and U2, that status has never really been in doubt.

e Luca’s famed reputation for attention to detail has served him well over his 40 years, but there are still circumstances where the best planning in the world cannot save the day. For Roberto, that day came in June 2007. “It was a disaster,” he sighs. “Heineken Jammin’ in Venice was our biggest sale ever – 175,000 tickets with Pearl Jam, Iron Maiden, Aerosmith, and Vasco Rossi headlining. But on the second day, before Pearl Jam were due to perform, the sky exploded – hail, wind and rain – and flattened the site. Two-tonne concrete weights were moved metres and the delay towers and screens collapsed, hurting lots of people. My office, in a shipping container, was hurled several metres by the force of the wind. It was a terrible situation but miraculously nobody was killed. So we reimbursed people for their tickets, we assisted the injured and, thankfully, we had good insurance. And there was not a single court case.” The horrific storm, which news reports at the time called a tornado, underlined one of De Luca’s superstitions: “I always wear red shoes for my big shows and for that festival I didn’t have them on. I make sure I have them at every big concert now.” When it comes to other mishaps, De Luca is, understandably, more philosophical. “Of course, there have been some financial disasters but that’s part of the game when you are a promoter,” he shares. “Sometimes you put on a show even when you know you are going to lose money, so it has to be an investment decision based on a long-term strategy. But in my 40 years, I have never had a year where we haven’t made a profit. At the end of the day, I am responsible for the 60 people who work in the Live Nation Italia offices, so it’s important that we work within our budgets.”

Creative Edge


e Luca’s flair for organisation also extends to fundraising concerts – none more important than Amiche per l’Abruzzo in reaction to the devastating Aquila earthquake in 2009. “That was a gamble because the line-up was only women, but it worked out really well and we raised a lot of money for charity,” he says. “We had 40 female acts – all Italian – at the San Siro Stadium and we were able to get the support of all the local radio stations in Italy, so on the day we had more than 50,000 people at the concert, as well as coverage on every radio station.” Backstage with Negramaro lead singer Giuliano Sangiorgi


IQ Magazine July 2019

Roberto De Luca De Luca negotiated a deal to promote Vasco Rossi’s concerts in Cagliari on the ferry to Sicily

Future Ambitions


hankfully, for those 60 staff and the myriad agents and artists who depend on De Luca’s expertise, the 67 year old shows no signs of slowing down. “We have five promoters in the company now, including three new promoters who are in touch with different artists and managers from me: I really rely on the younger people who are closer to new technology, as well as new genres of music. But I’m a hard worker and I enjoy what I do, so I don’t think about retiring,” he states. Outside of music, De Luca’s pastimes also help keep him fit. “It’s a 35-minute cycle from my house to the office, so it’s a good way to clear my head at the start or the end of a day,” he says. Another favourite is skiing – something that his daughter, Francesca, excelled at. “She wanted to come into the business, but I convinced her not to and she is currently studying business management and marketing in London,” says the proud dad. “She was a professional skier and I was her ski technician, driving her to competitions and setting up her equipment. But she got a lot of injuries, so now we both just ski for fun and we have a house in the Dolomites for when the snow comes.” Of his own recent accomplishments, De Luca admits to being “immensely proud” of Firenze Rocks festival, which is quickly establishing itself as one of the best events in southern Europe. This year’s event (held 13-16 June), included Smashing Pumpkins, Ed Sheeran, Eddie Vedder, and The Cure as headliners, helping to attract more than 200,000 fans over the

“I always try to do something different with every act in terms of production or advertising or whatever.” four days of the event. “Italy is a difficult market for festivals,” states De Luca. “Italians like all of the good things in life and are more inclined to go to headline shows than all-day music events, but Firenze Rocks is working well and it has been well received from an artist point of view, so I’m very happy with it.” As for ambitions, he remains focussed on the expansion of Live Nation Italia, but also admits that a lifelong rock & roll quest is never far from his mind. “I believe that Live Nation Italia can continue to grow artists in the local market and help new acts build and grow their careers,” he says. “Building the festival brands is a key ambition, while I want to keep coming up with new and innovative ideas for tours and shows. “It’s just a pity we cannot change the bureaucracy in Italy,” he laments. “We provide a lot of money to the local economies – when we had 40,000 people at Coldplay in Turin, it generated over €20million for the local economy, whereas Firenze Rocks is worth about €35million for the city of Florence. It would be fantastic if government would recognise that.” On a more cultural note, he adds, “I wish I could have worked with Pink Floyd, although I’m now working with Nick Mason, which is a dream come true. But otherwise, I’ve worked with lots of my favourite bands: The Who, Queen, Genesis, Lou Reed. Who knows, there may still be an opportunity to work with Led Zeppelin… I’ve never worked with Paul McCartney either. “But my biggest ambition is to work with an Italian rock band that can have success in the rest of the world. I’d even get involved in managing them, if I could find the right band…”

Roberto with Carolyn and Kelly Curtis at a Pearl Jam show

IQ Magazine July 2019

Roberto De Luca

Testimonials Roberto is one of the good guys – always available and always helpful, his word is his bond. He gives Italians a good name! John Giddings, Solo Agency

I love Roberto – he’s one of the easiest and most enduring promoter relationships I’ve had over my 40 years. Paul Boswell, Free Trade Agency

I remember being slightly perturbed at a Robbie Williams stadium show in Rome when the venue demanded €500,000 for pitch covering. This didn’t seem to unduly concern Roberto, he simply shrugged his shoulders and poured us both a glass of red. The guy is super cool. Roberto has always delivered for my artists – a great contemporary promoter, all told. Grazie il mio amico.

I have known Roberto for 40 years now. His professionalism, dedication and commitment to his artists in a volatile market, speaks for itself. He is an artists’ promoter and fights for them with tenacity. But he has the Italian charm of warmth and generosity that makes spending time in his company such a pleasure. It gives me even more pleasure to be able to count him as a true friend. Respect. Pino Sagliocco, Live Nation

I have enormous respect for Roberto. I’ve worked with him for many decades, since he was first working with Franco Mamone. He’s a great promoter and a very good man. However, the most important thing about Roberto is that he taught me how to make pasta and I’ve now been able cook it the proper way, like they do in Italy, for years.

Ian Huffam, X-ray Touring

Thomas Johansson, Live Nation

Roberto is an outstanding promoter. He’s been my main go-to man for many years, especially the last five or so. He’s a man of his word, always patient and kind and treats my artists with the complete professionalism and respect they deserve, whether it be Pearl Jam, Guns ‘N Roses, Ozzy or The Who... They all love him and appreciate his consistent attention to detail.

Roberto is a cool dude – he dresses very elegantly and working with him is always a very civilised process. I’ve never seen him lose his temper and you just know that when you agree things with him, he will make them happen and deliver. He’s the consummate professional.

Rod MacSween, ITB

Roberto has managed to perfect the art of always making you feel like you have got a good deal, regardless of the facts! He is a visionary, has an excellent track record of getting it right, and never lets you down. I have had the privilege to work with him on so many successful shows, but it is the mark of a great promoter that when occasionally things are not going to plan, he stands up to be counted. Forty years in the business and going strong – I salute you and look forward to many more years of collaboration and great bottles of wine. Mike Greek, CAA

I have had the distinct pleasure of working on a number of shows with Roberto over the course of the last few years and I must say that he is the consummate professional, providing world-class show staff and marketing support for artists performing in Italy. Mark Campana, Live Nation

I love working with Roberto and I love the fact that so many of his team have stayed with him for a long time. It really says all you need to know about him – a great man who instils loyalty in his team and is always trying to do the best for everyone. Roberto’s enthusiasm for the business doesn’t seem to have waned in 40 years – that is pretty incredible. Congratulations Roberto on this great achievement. Emma Banks, CAA

Martin Hopewell, ILMC

Roberto is simply one of the hardest working, classiest and most effective promoters there is. He gave me so much advice and help in my early years, and over the past 30 years has worked with me on literally every major tour I’ve undertaken. Actually, I’d call him a mentor of mine, not least because one time we worked together on the Italian superstar Jovanotti at both multiple arena and stadium level; and he gave me the chance to see up close and personal how Italy functions at that level, which was, to say the least, highly instructional and always entertaining. Most of what I learnt on that tour stayed with me my whole career, from how to understand Italian show budgets, to how the south functions so very differently from the north. Robbie always wants the artist to come first, but is so classy he often remains in the background, only to pop up just when needed. For example, when we did three nights back to back at Verona Ampitheatre, one night with Massive Attack and two with Björk, the second night of Björk had done maybe 9,000 out of 16,000, so was less full than the first night, which had gone completely clean. Fifteen minutes before stage time, management were concerned about the spottiness of the audience – a lot of people but too many empty areas dotted around. So we asked Robbie what he thought could be done … he smiled, said something into his radio, and minutes later the entire arena seemed to shuffle downwards and all 9,000 people seemed perfectly assembled with only the very top of the arena unseated. To this day, I don’t really know how he did that. No fuss, just pure class. Overall he’s one of my favourite people in the business and it’s great to see him honoured. David Levy, WME


IQ Magazine July 2019

Roberto De Luca

Roberto is a classy promoter that knows how to run a big show properly with sheer professionalism and accuracy. I have done many shows with him over the years and I have always enjoyed the experience. Happy anniversary, Roberto. Steve Strange, X-ray Touring

I met Roberto about ten years ago, when Live Nation took over the control of Parcolimpico Srl, the venue management company instituted for the 2006 Turin Olympic Games, in charge of overlooking the post-Olympic term. I clearly remember how the arrival of Roberto and his team immediately changed things around for the best, guiding a company with a constant deficit of €6million per year to become [profitable] in just three years. The very first lesson Roberto taught us was to believe in the power of dedication and work ethics; always improving every possible aspect, from general strategy management to the smallest operational detail, alongside the willingness to help other teammates, whatever department they work for. Personally, Roberto’s trust has been a fundamental element in my professional development. I am deeply grateful to him for being someone to look up to, a role model and a leader, who gave me the opportunity to improve and thrive through new perspectives. Daniele Donati, Parcolimpico

Roberto is a lovely, charming and fantastic human being. He helped take Depeche Mode to arena level in Italy and now on to stadiums, too. But he also has those little vineyard shows up his sleeve, as well – he loves using unusual venues. When we were doing our last launch event, we asked Roberto and Marek Lieberberg to set it up for us. So we ended up doing it in the Triennale di Milano and had about 100 people from all over the world – promoters and press – for the launch and a dinner. It was fantastic. Roberto is very hands on and is a wizard at marketing. He’s got a brilliant team working with him and the fact that Antonella [Lodi] has been his right hand for so many decades says a lot. He’s had a challenging life but you would not know it – he’s always cheerful and upbeat and no task is too big or small for him to deal with on your behalf. I always make time to see Roberto, whether that’s in Italy, New York, Los Angeles or London, as he’s great company and a pleasure to spend time with. He’s one of my favourite people in the business and, away from that, he’s a good friend. Jonathan Kessler, manager of Depeche Mode

I remember first meeting Roberto back in 1992. He had a quiet confidence and a gracious charm that immediately allowed one to feel comfortable at the prospect of working with him. He is a diligent man and pretty unflappable. Roberto is a gentlemen and I can offer no higher praise than that. Russell Lewis Warby, WME

IQ Magazine July 2019


Touring Exhibitions

Exporting Creativity

The touring exhibitions business is in rude health, but as producers look for ways to maintain growth, differences over the exploitation of ‘Instagram environments’ are prompting creators to follow diverging paths. Derek Robertson reports


IQ Magazine July 2019

‘The World of Street Art’ exhibition is introducing multiple generations to the controversial art form


t’s been an interesting 12 months in the world of touring exhibitions. While blockbuster productions still dominate and the sector as a whole continues to grow, albeit slowly, there are those who caution against complacency and overconfidence, keen to avoid some of the missteps that have befallen other parts of the industry. Such issues were to the fore at the recent Touring Exhibitions Meeting in Berlin, the biennial gathering of promoters, producers, museum curators and creative professionals. Alongside upcoming projects, the next evolution of such touring exhibitions, and trends in the context of the so-called “experience economy” – the latter proving somewhat controversial – there were two particularly hot topics according to Christoph Scholz of SC Exhibitions, a division of Semmel Concerts, one of the leading German live entertainment promoters and the company behind TEM. “Firstly, where do we go?” he asks. “This was a very pertinent question this year because there is only so much

IQ Magazine July 2019

talent, and content, available. And secondly: What’s the next thing? We discussed new forms of exhibitions, or what you might call ‘experiences.’” For Scholz, huge European successes such as Harry Potter: The Exhibition (“Adolfo Galli promoted it in Milan and got over 400,000 visitors,” he says), Titanic: The Exhibition and Star Wars Identities are all well and good, but keeping one eye on the future is just as important for those with a vested interest in continued growth and building sustainable businesses. “Overall, I have a very positive outlook,” says Scholz of the sector’s health. It’s a sentiment echoed by almost everyone IQ quizzed for this annual appraisal; far from being fearful of stagnation or saturation, many promoters and producers are excited about new markets and technologies, and presenting beloved brands in innovative ways. As ever though, quality is key, as is being attuned to precisely what consumers demand from such exhibitions in the ever more crowded entertainment sphere.


Touring Exhibitions


Visiting Rights

hile the last year has seen a continued focus on major licensed IP such as Hunger Games, Downton Abbey: The Exhibition, and Hamilton: The Musical, producers are also now acutely aware of the visitor experience and how important a factor that is to commercial success. “Customers are becoming much more savvy when it comes to experiences,” says Abigail Bysshe, vice president of experiences and business development at The Franklin Institute, one of America’s most celebrated museums. “They expect to be immersed in a story and entertained, so the content has to really engage the visitor and make them feel part of the experience.” Tom Zaller, president and CEO of US-based Imagine Exhibitions agrees; for him, it’s clear that the general public are looking for immersive, story-driven narratives. “Exhibitions are another form of entertainment,” he says, “so whether you have objects or projections, something scenic or static, I always find that the one constant is a well-told story to drive the whole experience.” Such a belief lies at the heart of his company’s 35 unique exhibitions currently on tour, with the worldwide success of the likes of Angry Birds Universe, The Discovery of King Tut, and Real Bodies, testament to the effectiveness of designing such events from the visitor viewpoint up. So what is being done to improve this? In short: technology. “Virtual and augmented reality will become more and more a part of events in general,” according to Corrado Canonici of World Touring Exhibitions, the company behind Travelling

Bricks and Interactive Science. Rafael Giménez of Sold Out, one of Spain’s biggest producers and promoters, notes that more and more A/V equipment is now required for shows, and that such developments “will bring new ways of seeing things.” For Zaller though, technology goes beyond what he calls “creative execution.” Imagine Exhibitions are already looking at the power of data-driven decision-making and audience insight in order to help venues “deliver content that is timely and relevant – both scientifically and socially – to their audience.” And, he adds, the new technology behind interactive elements is important not just to make things enjoyable – it is essential for learning. “More than 50% of venues who book such exhibits are seeking tactile, hands-on ‘interactives’ as part of the experience. They are the perfect vehicles for us to achieve our goal to educate, entertain, and enlighten.”


Insta gratification

ut one aspect of technology, and the modern world, is proving controversial. As Scholz noted in IQ78, more and more exhibitions – such as San Francisco’s Museum of Ice Cream – are serving as ‘Instagram environments,’ and are being specifically designed to provide shareable and social media-friendly backdrops and moments. Does this ‘Instagramisation’ detract from the actual content? “It does, and it is a problem,” says Scholz, a thought echoed by Abigail Bysshe. “I don’t think expos should have Instagram moments just for their own sake,” she says. “That’s why I don’t think

‘Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes’ - Tony Stark’s Lab is just one of many different settings in which visitors can immerse themselves and interact with their favourite characters


IQ Magazine July 2019

Touring Exhibitions

“I left the music business precisely because everything had become a corporate monopoly – exhibitions are different.” Corrado Canonici, World Touring Exhibitions places like the Museum of Ice Cream will last long.” Instead, she argues that producers should think about creating organic moments and opportunities that people will naturally gravitate towards – and want to post. But not everyone shares such concerns. Rafael Giménez believes that “you need to adapt to the format to reach your audience. With social media, you need to compromise part of the experience to get the larger reach that such media gives you.” Canonici agrees. With World Touring Exhibitions, the brains behind 3D Doubt Your Eyes – described as an “Instagram paradise” – he argues that, “it actually adds a valuable selfpromotion angle to the exhibition. 3D Doubt Your Eyes only works if a friend takes a picture of you in the 3D scene; the result is so amazing that it goes on social media in seconds.” Similarly, for Tom Zaller, it’s just all part of our new, hyper-connected reality. “Creating opportunities for guests to share their experiences on social media is incredibly important,” he says. “We make a point of trying to incorporate Instagram-worthy moments into our exhibitions by setting up good lighting, dramatic backdrops, and unique experiences throughout each show. This makes our product look great, amplifies word of mouth, and gives visitors the social currency that they seek – photos that make their friends jealous.”



Pascal Bernardin, Encore Productions; Abigail Bysshe, The Franklin Institute; Corrado Canonici, World Touring Exhibitions; Rafael Giménez, Sold Out; Christoph Scholz, SC Exhibitions; Arnold van de Water, Van Gogh Museum; Tom Zaller, Imagine Exhibitions; Stefanie Ziegler, AWC AG

rand recognition continues to be of paramount importance, and it’s no surprise that major licensed IP continues to dominate. Star Wars Identities, fresh from an eight-month run in Sydney, is preparing to open in Japan, while expos such as Jurassic World: The Exhibition, Pink Floyd: Their Mortal Remains, and Harry Potter: The Exhibition continue to tour the globe – the latter is now in Valencia, its 19th city. For Stefanie Ziegler, brand licensing director of AWC AG, a major brand with international presence is one of the key criteria for a successful expo. Her company is behind both Harry Potter and Star Wars Identities, as well as BrickLive, a network of partner-driven interactive events for LEGO® fans worldwide. As she explains: “This trend is because there are still many brands that have neither discovered nor entered the ‘live entertainment’ sector so far, so it’s a logical consequence that more brands will explore new ways to amplify their presence and brand experience.” People will pay for strong IP brought to life in interesting and innovative ways, adds Giménez, which is why such expos achieve massive, crossover, trans-generational success. A household name obviously helps when it comes to promotion and publicity but such reliance is also down to simple risk aversion. “In a market where producers are risk averse, you need the power of a brand to help do some of the work for you,” explains Bysshe. “A branded show has billions of dollars in marketing behind it before you even put it into a building, while non-branded expos require much more creativity – and robust marketing budgets – to convince an audience to come and see it.”

Even within the world of franchises and exploitation of well-known IP, there is still scope for creativity though. Tom Zaller cites Imagine Exhibitions’ Sean Kenney’s Art Made with LEGO® Bricks as one example. “The show is unique in that it combines important ecological messages around sustainability and endangered habitat protection, with those of innovation, science, engineering and maths. As guests marvel at Kenney’s enormous, gravity-defying structures they’ll become inspired to explore the world in new ways.” Not everyone is in thrall to the all-conquering power of brands however, with Corrado Canonici keen to stress that, “creativity and variety are better than brands. I left the music business precisely because everything had become a corporate monopoly – exhibitions are different. Yes, some brands and well-known IP work well but we have also seen some spectacular flops. For us at WTE, richness of content and value for money have a longer exhibition lifespan.” Pascal Bernardin of Encore Productions, one of the biggest French promoters of touring exhibitions, has experience with precisely this problem. “It’s a strange market sometimes,” he says. “Last year, I promoted Jurassic World in Paris and even selling 250,000 tickets, we made quite a big loss. I went to the V&A to see the Pink Floyd exhibition, and though I’m not a fan of the band, it’s very well done. Yet it did not work in Rome, it’s not working in Madrid. Maybe the V&A, and England, was just the right place to do it.”



IQ Magazine July 2019

Touring Exhibitions ‘Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel: A Different View’ is giving people the chance to see the artist’s work up close without the need to travel to Rome

“A branded show has billions of dollars in marketing behind it before you even put it into a building.” Abigail Bysshe, The Franklin Institute Bernardin stresses that “every market and every exhibition is different,” and how local knowledge can be the difference between success and failure. “In France, for example, people want to have a lot of text, a lot of explanation; they want to understand things. There’s this term – ‘edutainment’; I have the impression that in France the market is more for adult audiences. Sometimes the weather doesn’t help, or you get unfair bad reviews for whatever reason, so it’s a very difficult business. You really have to be sure you have the right exhibition.” There is another issue at play here, too – at what point will producers and promoters run out of premium IP to exploit. While Scholz agrees that, “it is a concern, and there are only so many stories that can be told,” he thinks reframing the question is more helpful to those seeking to exploit existing brands. “There is a lot of good IP but not everything can be transformed into an exhibition. Because at the end of the day, an expo still lives on objects people want to see, from memorabilia to costumes and stage outfits and so on.” Both Canonici and Giménez agree that this is a potential problem – “It’s not only about the IP but presenting it in an affordable way,” says the latter – while Bysshe adds that things like Marvel and Jurassic Park are “top, top IP, and

“You really have to be sure you have the right exhibition.” Pascal Bernardin, Encore Productions

IQ Magazine July 2019

Touring Exhibitions ‘Game of Thrones: The Touring Exhibition’ is taking advantage of the huge international interest in the hit TV show

there are not a lot of those. But there is a fair amount to choose from, as long as you don’t expect every one of them to have a blockbuster performance.” Ziegler agrees: “There are still many brands that have not been explored and are untouched in terms of expos.” Arnold van de Water, of Amsterdam’s acclaimed Van Gogh Museum, goes further: for him, the onus is on producers to stretch their imagination and rethink what is possible. “It always surprises me that this part of the industry copies each other so much, creating copycat expos that most of the time end up as a disappointment,” he explains. “If you are creative as a producer, there are so many good stories to adapt into a successful exhibition.” Besides, he adds, it’s hard creating sustainable multiyear programming that will attract consistent levels of ticket sales because there is just “not enough strong content of a certain quality level, regardless of the IP.”



hat’s clear is that both producers and promoters are looking at ever more diverse topics to base their expos on, and branching out into non-traditional territory, and ever more technological solutions, form an intrinsic part of that. Edutainment is big business now; Imagine Exhibitions’ Playing With Light and Speed: Science In Motion, and WTE’s Interactive Science (which, according to Canonici, sold 100,000 tickets in six months in Italy) are just a few examples. “There is always a market for educational expos,” says Giménez, who cites Real Bodies as the perfect example of bringing together “a real educational and intellectual appeal for

“It always surprises me that this part of the industry copies each other so much. […] If you are creative as a producer, there are so many good stories to adapt into a successful exhibition.” Arnold van de Water, Van Gogh Museum

Antechamber of ‘Tutankhamun: His Tomb and Its Treasures’


IQ Magazine July 2019

Touring Exhibitions “…the one constant is a well-told story to drive the whole experience.” Tom Zaller, Imagine Exhibitions the scientific community, and the desire in all humans to know more about ourselves.” And that sense of discovery is fuelling what many see as the next big trend in expos: classical art. “My hope this year is going into Imagine Picasso,” says Bernardin of the show that’s taken several years and over €1.5million to make a reality. “It’s so difficult to get his paintings – they are not in the public domain – and we have 200. It will help people understand the ways of this man – Why was he painting that way? Why was he destroying convention? – so it’ll be quite interesting.” Bernardin is also hard at work on an origami expo with scenography created by Rudy Ricciotti and Imagine Van Gogh, an immersive experience that takes the visitor “deep inside the painter’s iconic painting from his last years.” There’s also the rise in what Scholz terms “celebrity exhibitions.” Alexander McQueen, Christian Dior, and Jean Paul Gaultier have all had shows dedicated to their lives, something Scholz thinks could extend to other famous personalities. “At the moment I’m thinking about an Arnold Schwarzenegger exhibition,” he says, tongue only slightly in cheek. In terms of territory, everyone is looking eastwards. “Saudi Arabia,” says Canonici, on where he sees new growth, while

IQ Magazine July 2019

both Bysshe and Ziegler believe the Asian market (along with the Middle East) hold opportunities for expansion. Tom Zaller mentions China as having untapped potential, too, but for Scholz, it’s not just a question of national markets. He believes in the need to look at individual venues, regardless of where they’re situated. “The world’s leading museums are the trendsetters,” he says. “Check the programme of the Whitney in New York or the British Museum or Tate Modern in London. Attend the fringe programme accompanying fairs like Frieze, and look at the international growth of Meow Wolf from Santa Fe, a collective who create immersive art experiences and who are currently considered the Disney of the experience economy.” Certainly, for those attuned to such trends and shifts, the future of the touring expo economy seems robust. Demand for such experiences remains high, and, says Van de Water, it’s in the industry’s best interests to keep pushing forward. “Creating and choosing quality content will generate sustainable ticket sales that will be beneficial for everyone,” he notes, adding that cutting corners is a recipe for failure and reflects badly on the industry as a whole. Even Pascal Bernardin, after forty years in the business, maintains that looking to the future is the only way. “You’re only the promoter of your last show, you know? We’ve all had great adventurers and terrible losses, but you have to work for it all the time – it’s a day-to-day business. I’m just looking forward, forward, forward, to the next twenty years and beyond. That keeps me alive, and keeps me excited.” Wise words that anyone associated with the sector would be advised to heed.


To The Jungle From an informal gathering of 800 people, Wacken Open Air has grown to become one of the world’s biggest heavy metal brands. With the festival celebrating its 30th edition this August, Adam Woods learns about its history and the two-way unwavering devotion it enjoys with its fans…


he Wacken 2019 poster says everything you need to know. The festival name at the top of the poster is far bigger than that of any band, and the iconic bull’s head beneath it bigger still, glowering over a design that looks somewhat like a gravestone. Anyone could tell this was a metal festival, and looking at the sheer number of names, they’d know it was one of the big ones. And then the band logos, like an insanely ornate roll call


of heaviness: Sabaton, Demons & Wizards, Slayer, Parkway Drive, Powerwolf, Body Count, Within Temptation, Prophets Of Rage, Anthrax, and more than 150 more, gradually getting smaller as your eye scans down until they’re barely legible, like some sort of heavy metal eye test. On the eve of its 30th edition, which runs from 1-3 August, it’s hard to find anything but goodwill for Wacken, whose founders Thomas Jensen and Holger Hübner have, over three

IQ Magazine July 2019

Avantasia proved hugely popular at Wacken in 2011

decades, somehow created a global metal Mecca in a small village in Schleswig-Holstein. “Wacken is the originator and the ultimate festival for any metal act to headline or play at,” says X-ray Touring’s Adam Saunders. “They have the most dedicated and hardcore fans anywhere, and they’ve got mud. Fuck, have they got mud…” Coda Agency’s Tom Taaffe agrees. “What Wacken have built is pretty special, and you’ll find it hard to see anything quite like it again,” he says. “You won’t find any hard rock or heavy metal artist who does not aspire to play that festival.” Dominik Meyer at Cobra Agency calls Wacken, “a special place for everyone who loves heavy metal music. If you want to understand what Wacken is all about, you need to go there. It is the biggest metal festival in Europe, but at the same time, it is so much more than that.”

IQ Magazine July 2019

Hard core


ensen himself combines a winning humility with an articulate analysis of his festival’s power. “For a dedicated group of people, Wacken is kind of their home,” he says at one point. “It’s not something we did on purpose but it’s the centre of the world for them.” Clearly, Wacken is a one-off – a family gathering for up to 95,000 hard-rockers. Year after year, it lays on an extravagant banquet of metal, including side-by-side main stages and a legendary battle of the bands, lubricated by a mile-long beer pipeline from a local brewery. It is also supported by a village that mobilises obligingly around the festival, from front-garden snack shops to the Wacken fire brigade brass band playing rock classics for headbanging fans in the municipal pool.


Wacken Open Air Always a crowd puller, Doro, in 1993, was an early Wacken convert

We’ve got fun and games


acken has a silly side, it’s true. “What we are doing, and the way we talk, sometimes might look to an outsider a little bit like Spinal Tap,” muses Jensen. But it also has something any festival would love to have: an entirely authentic brand that’s a magnet for fans who share a burning passion. Jensen deflects much of the credit to his experienced team, to the bands and to the audience itself. “It has a life of its own,” he says. “Fans make friends with other fans, and they meet again at Wacken. There are stories we know nothing about.” But there’s obviously something in Wacken’s approach that young festivals might do well to note. “We were trying to find an audience for our music,” says Jensen. “We weren’t thinking: what is the best music to put onstage at Wacken? That wasn’t the question. The question was: how do we get enough people to Wacken for this metal show?”

Appetite for distraction


t began with some bored, frustrated young rock fans in Germany’s northernmost state. “I was a regular north German metal fan,” says Jensen. “I was the bassist in a punk band that split up, because in the countryside, north of Hamburg, there were nearly no gigs. It was really teenage wasteland, I would say.” Powered by what Jensen calls “our punk mentality: we know nothing, but let’s get started,” Jensen and friends began organising their own parties. “If we didn’t do it ourselves, nobody was going to do it for us,” says Jensen. Jensen’s enthusiasm was more notable than his musical


“What we are doing, and the way we talk, sometimes might look to an outsider a little bit like Spinal Tap.” Thomas Jensen, Wacken Open Air

abilities. “I was the bass player, organising things. Some bass players are the musical leader of the group, like Steve Harris or Lemmy. That’s one kind of bass player. I was the other kind, who knows nothing.” An early recruit to the embryonic Wacken cause was DJ Holger Hübner, a fan of Bruce Springsteen and U2 and a member of the Pogues fan club – a fact that accounts, according to Jensen, for a smattering of German bands playing Irish-influenced folk-punk on early bills. “They wouldn’t get away with it in Dublin but in north Germany it worked.”

IQ Magazine July 2019

Numbers of the beast


he very first festival featured Jensen’s own covers band Skyline on the first night, pulling a crowd of 800, while a few other local bands, including 5th Avenue and Ax’n Sex, played to 600 on the Saturday. “Everybody said, ‘Oh, it’s a great party,’ and all our friends went for free. So we started straight away to plan the second edition.” Endearingly, the next one featured Skyline and 5th Avenue again, with US prog-rockers Gypsy Kyss topping the bill. But it was in 1992 that the line-up began for the first time to resemble a version of the Wacken we know: Saxon, Blind Guardian, Mama’s Boys, Highlander, The Waltons, plus 15 others. “That’s still a bill you can put on a poster and someone will say, ‘Oh, that’s a decent line-up,” says Jensen. That year, 1,300 came, paying DM15 for a three-day ticket. And on Wacken went, growing in scale and ambition. In 1993, 3,500 saw Doro and Fates Warning, with NWOBHM bands Holocaust and Trespass the exotic curiosities further down the bill; 4,500 witnessed Paul Di’Anno’s Killers and Skyclad in 1994. Wacken might be a global brand now, but in those days, the focus was northern Germany. “We plastered the whole of Hamburg,” says Jensen. “I’m still not allowed to go into a DIY store and buy a packet of glue because it’s forbidden by a court. We were putting up posters right up to the Polish border. That’s one reason the village is so proud, because even in 1993, they could go quite a long way from home

and they would see the name of their village all over the place. It put the village on the map.” An indication of Wacken’s lack of interest in playing the mainstream game was the fact that early festivals were scheduled for the same weekend as industry pow-wow Popkomm in Cologne. “We didn’t give a fuck, really, about the industry. We put our money where our mouth was. And step by step, we made our way into this metal family.” As the show grew, the spirit behind it changed very little. “It’s still the same,” says Jensen. “We want a great rock party. The party element is important. We don’t want it to get too serious.” Rock journalists and TV crews started turning up in 1995, Jensen recalls, and by 1997 Wacken was drawing 17,000 people, with Motörhead headlining. Wacken, it transpired, had got its timing right. The metal scene that had thrived in the late-1970s and early-80s was in the doldrums, but it was planning its own resurrection. When bands like Saxon and Motörhead agreed to play an obscure German festival, they were clawing their way back to relevance after a tough few years. “Definitely, we helped a couple of bands, and a lot of bands helped us,” says Jensen. “There was a natural symbiotic feel to it. We were enabling bands to produce shows they would not be able to produce on their tours, or anywhere else. Even stuff like [sexually provocative, mostly female rockers] RockBitch doing a quite explicit show, or Gorgoroth with the sheep’s heads – we were able to put things onstage that nobody else could. It’s not only Holger and myself, it’s a team. And it’s also the fans. The bands and the fans come up with ideas: Look, what if…? Can you imagine if we did this or that…

Wacken Open Air


“We are still trying to do that. We are still trying to give bands the best environment, and to give the fans the best show they have seen of that band, or the most unusual show. Like when we had Savatage and Trans-Siberian Orchestra [in 2015] and the media was asking ‘who is the headliner?’ and then they put on an iconic show on two stages simultaneously. Just an unbelievable, artistic, multimedia performance.” That inventive approach, and the richness of metal culture, has enabled Wacken to avoid the headliner trap, where the year is a dud if you don’t manage to secure one of a handful of nailed-on crowd-pullers. “Of course, we are super happy when we have bands like Rammstein or Iron Maiden playing Wacken,” says booker Jan Quiel, “but if we don’t get a band that size, we like to be creative. Thomas and Holger started the motto ‘The festival is the headliner’ years ago, and it’s true. The whole Wacken experience is what makes it so special. It’s not about the one band you need to see.”

None more black

N Günther Beer, Cobra Agency; Thomas Jensen, Wacken Open Air; Dominik Meyer, Cobra Agency; Jan Quiel, Wacken Open Air; Gordon Röber, BigBOXBerlin; Adam Saunders, X-ray Touring; Tom Taaffe, Coda Agency; Lothar Wiesenmüller, MSL Mobile Fahrstrasse; Adam Parsons, Siren Management.

onetheless, over the years, the festival has become a genuine who’s who of hard rock and metal, with very few omissions. (Metallica are one, though reportedly they are keen.) “For such a sustained period, they have had incredible lineups and cultivated such a die-hard audience,” says Taaffe. To do justice to the full scope of hard rock, from vintage legends to extreme splinter genres to grass-roots newcomers, is a challenge only genuine fanatics can pull off. “A healthy mixture of all sub-genres, old and newer bands, is very important for us,” says Quiel. “Wacken Open Air is a big metal family gathering, so it’s natural that bands like Rose Tattoo, Saxon, Girlschool and Europe are on the bill, and also bands like Parkway Drive, Architects or While She Sleeps.” Wacken cleverly distributes its varied wares across the festival, with its Thursday ‘Night To Remember’ on the main stage reverently showcasing mainstream greats such as Deep Purple, Iron Maiden and Rammstein over the years, and its ‘Night To Dismember,’ in the tents, satisfying lovers of black and death metal.

“They have the most dedicated and hardcore fans anywhere, and they’ve got mud. Fuck, have they got mud…” Adam Saunders, X-ray Touring

The Wacken Metal Battle, meanwhile, pits 30 underground metal bands from as many countries around the world, that qualify through an enormous network of national competitions. “The exchange between the bands is simply amazing,” says Quiel, “plus they can hang out at the Metal Battle Lounge where they can talk to business professionals as well.” Salzburg’s Cobra Agency has Powerwolf and Sabaton at the top of this year’s bill, but Cobra’s Günther Beer praises Jensen and Hübner for their attention to the grass roots of metal. “They are real metalheads, constantly supporting the scene. They’re not only getting the biggest metal acts to Wacken, they also help small newcomers to grow. Wacken Open Air breathes their spirit, and it is the true home of metal.”


IQ Magazine July 2019

Wacken Open Air Adam Parsons, of Siren Management, agrees. He has three acts playing at Wacken this year – Saxon, Uriah Heep and Diamond Head – but he tells IQ he goes to the festival every year, no matter what, “It’s the metal version of Glastonbury and I love it,” he says. “It’s the festival that all other metal events should aspire to emulate.” Parsons adds, “The Wacken empire is fantastic – the way in which they organise and brand things is mind blowing: from the moment you land at Hamburg Airport, with the shuttle van mats branded with their embroidered Wacken logos, to the Wacken branded knives and forks they give you at the festival, there is no expense spared when it comes to making it an amazing experience for artists and fans alike. Thomas Jensen and his staff do an incredible job and the production is always top notch – I cannot pick a single fault.”



ensen is not sure any other form of music could create the type of cult Wacken inspires. “I would say, straightaway: no. Although I don’t want to be disrespectful to fans of other genres. But I totally believe only a rock crowd can be so passionate. You can grow old with this sort of music, and we are the best example, and a lot of our artists. It provides good company through your life. If you don’t have it in your heart, you won’t understand.” Thirty years in, Jensen believes the festival, and the metal scene, are surfing the crest of a wave, both in terms of new talent and revived old stagers. “Have you heard the new Whitesnake album?” he fizzes. “It’s fantastic! I didn’t really expect it. There’s a lot of great stuff around at the moment. I didn’t expect Guns N’ Roses to be so good on tour, either.” Motörhead, says Jensen, might be the Wacken band that has meant the most to him. “Lemmy is – used to be – a pal of ours.” Then again, there were also Aussie rockers Rose Tattoo. “When I first got them onstage, I really had to wear sunglasses, because I was such a huge fan, and to see that band on my stage performing – I got wet eyes.”

Lemmy and Motörhead were long-time friends and supporters of Wacken Open Air

IQ Magazine July 2019


Wacken Open Air The Wacken crew, 1991

Wacken to my nightmare


ike any festival, Wacken has had its struggles over the years. By their own admission, Jensen and Hübner learned everything they know by trial and error. For all the fond musical memories, the first few years, “up to 96, 97, were a nightmare,” says Jensen. The festival became insolvent in 1998, but plugged the holes and rose again. “You don’t do it on purpose but it’s nothing to be ashamed of,” says Jensen. “Failure is part of the journey, like the tech companies nowadays say. I can assure you, we had a lot of failure, and we made a lot of mistakes,” he hoots. “We don’t need workshops to create a culture of fuck-ups. We are pretty good at fuck-ups and we still have them all the time. A lot of people are afraid of failure, but there’s nothing wrong with a little fuck-up. As long as you don’t make the same one regularly.”

November rain (well, August)


eather, of course, can be a problem, and Jensen notes with concern that extreme events are becoming more common. Last year, Bocholt-based mobile road specialist MSL Mobile Fahrstrasse supplied 765 tons of steel to Wacken so that emergency vehicles, cars and buses can dependably access the stage and the campsite. “The weather in northern Germany is often rainy, so the whole event area can easily turn into a mud bath,” says MSL’s Lothar Wiesenmüller. Widely regarded as the kind of festival that innovates, from its beer pipeline to its security practices to its ability to keep its village neighbours onside and involved, Wacken uses fan focus groups to feed back about each event. “Not only on Facebook - it’s a real conversation. You need to be in a discussion and you need to have it in a good environment. When you are stuck in mud up to your upper leg, you don’t need somebody telling you, ‘oh, it’s too muddy at your festival’,” Jensen observes. “’Yeah, we fucking know that.’”


“We are pretty good at fuck-ups and we still have them all the time. A lot of people are afraid of failure, but there’s nothing wrong with a little fuck-up.” Thomas Jensen, Wacken Open Air

Soft metal


xamples of Wacken’s personal touch abound. Adam Saunders tells a tale of Thomas and Holger giving commemorative plaques to Machine Head when they headlined the 20th edition and then twice making up replacement sets after they were twice broken in transit to San Francisco. “Most festivals would have given up, but this is how Thomas and Holger are – they recognise what’s important and pay attention to the details,” says Saunders. Suppliers, meanwhile, commend their straightness and professionalism. “When you work for them, you have to be honest and you have to deliver,” says Gordon Röber of

IQ Magazine July 2019

container supplier BigBoxBerlin. “Because of these two characteristics, it is clear how to work for them and with them, because you always know where you are at.” Stageco has supplied the festival’s three main stages since 2006, when Scorpions, Celtic Frost, Ministry and Amon Amarth headed the bill. “There are a lot of stories, but only one phrase describes it: it is a family job,” says Stageco Deutschland’s Sebastian Krass. The same spirit runs through the organisation. Long-time security chief Thomas Hess, who died early last year, was a mentor to Jensen and Hübner, and a key member of the team. Heidrun Vogler, his partner and also his successor as head of security, remembers Hess finding a sleeping bag and provisions for a festival-goer who had forgotten his own. “Thomas lived and loved the Wacken Open Air,” she says. “He is still very much present in all departments, especially production and security. We still find ourselves quite often asking what Thomas would have decided. His legacy was to think about others first and about oneself second.”

Highway to hell-idays


he Wacken empire, meanwhile, continues to grow. Before 1990, Hübner organised rock & roll coach trips to shows all over Germany, and metal-themed travel remains a key part of Jensen and Hübner’s International

“People ask me, ‘Do you feel there’s more competition?’ But I think this competition is great. It keeps bands alive. It keeps the whole scene alive.” Thomas Jensen, Wacken Open Air

Concert Service (ICS) organisation, including Full Metal Mountain, a metal and skiing extravaganza at the Nassfeld ski resort in southern Austria, and Full Metal Cruise, which puts 2,000 metallers on a cruise ship, all beer included. Under the ICS banner, there is also a Wacken foundation, a management business, a booking agency, publishing, a merchandise operation and a ticket service. “We do a lot,” says Jensen. “Some people think we do too much. I don’t think so, because there’s still people dedicated to the festival. We are thinking constantly about the festival, everybody can be sure about that. That is really the backbone of everything we are doing.” When Wacken began, there was very little like it, besides England’s Monsters of Rock and the Netherlands’ Dynamo Open Air. These days, reflects Jensen, “most of the countries have a decent metal fest. People ask me, ‘Do you feel there’s more competition?’ But I think this competition is great. It keeps bands alive. It keeps the whole scene alive.”

Members’ Noticeboard

Security experts Chris Kemp and Pete Dalton helped work on the finer points of safety and security to assist Codruța Vulcu in organising a giant mass for Pope Francis when he visited the Romanian town of Blaj in early June.

If anyone was wondering what former Rock in Rio executive Nuno Sousa Pinto has been up to lately, the answer is he’s been helping with his most important contract to date... Although just eight years old, Nuno’s son, Guilherme, recently signed a deal that will see him between the sticks for the under-tens team of Portuguese football giants Benfica, following in his father’s goalkeeping shoes (or should that be gloves ?). Pictured with Nuno and Guilherme at the contract ceremony in the Sport Lisboa e Benfica Academy is proud mum Ana Sousa Pinto.

Staff at ITB bade farewell to one of the company’s longest serving members of staff when in-house promoter, Annette Robinson, retired in May, bringing down the curtain on more than 40 years at the company.

Rich Moffat and Steve Halpin bumped elbows with Coolio at their GTM Magnetic Island beach party (aka The Moo Doo) off the coast of Queensland, Australia, in May.

Members of the European Arenas Association visited The Staples Center in Los Angeles, among other venues, on their recent fact-finding trip to the United States.

MJR colleagues Barış Başaran and Leanne Powell confirmed rumours of an office romance when they tied the knot in a ceremo ny in Berlin on 25 June before witnesses and guests including a team from the MJR Group, ILMC’s Greg Parmley, Fruzsina Szép (Lollapalooza Berlin) and Codruța Vulcu (ARTmania).

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


IQ Magazine July 2019

Your Shout


What’s the weirdest request you’ve had from a boss or client? soul while sleeping in front of it. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t using drugs when we were out on the road!

We approached a top South African retailer as a headline sponsor of the Robbie Williams South African tour in 2006. We’d almost concluded the deal but at the last minute they came with an unusual request. Since the company was celebrating its 21st anniversary, they made one of the conditions of the sponsorship that RW was to wear a branded baseball cap and invite their CEO on stage to sing Happy Birthday to the company… needless to say that was the end of our negotiations.

Francesco Grieco, Swex Booking

A manager once phoned me up and asked if I could get him a “cold cure.” He was very disappointed when I turned up with Contac 400. John Giddings, Solo Agency

Many years ago, I had a request from a client who wanted his monitors to sound “more purple.” I’m still trying to analyse that.

Attie van Wyk, Big Concerts International

I was asked to setup a new bank account for a previous CEO when online banking became a thing. It was over 20 years ago and she still hasn’t changed the passwords. I just checked. Zac Fox, Kilimanjaro Live

I once interned with a company based in a home-office. Every day I was in, my boss had spin class at her local gym. I had to go with her to the gym and wait for her in the lobby while she did her class. This was my lunch break. Ben Delger, ILMC

I have to confess that I’ve been that boss, a few years back, when Virtual Festivals was covering a major rock festival. Much of our success back then was down to the art of grabbing immediate opportunities in varying states of unpreparedness. And so it was when a spontaneous call came to interview Slash and Duff McKagan of Guns N’ Roses and (then) Velvet Revolver, backstage. Unfortunately, our interviewer had chosen that big moment to engage himself in a Portaloo. So, like any good leader, I volunteered a substitute. Our adsales manager. He had zero journalistic experience but was charismatic and I

knew the rock stars would take to him. The total fear and confusion on his face will live with me forever as he trotted off towards the pair of legends, Dictafone in his trembling hand. As interviews go, it may not have set the world on fire, but as an act of courage and diving into deep, dark waters for the greater good of the team, it was exemplary. I’ve got a lot of respect for the ad-sales guy, too. The rest is 80k+ views on YouTube. Steve Jenner, PlayPass

I’m sure there are weirder requests than this, but I was asked by an American guitar player I was tour managing, to get a mirror removed from his hotel suite because the mirror would steal his

Bryan Grant, Britannia Row

I had a request, as a very naive young man, to help out on security as the boss was expecting a few problems that night… My jaw was broken with one punch. Brian Reynolds, 432 Presents

“Put on these seven-metre tentacles in the dark then squeeze yourself through this 60cm hole. Make sure you attach your bungee chord when you’re in the egg, so you don’t squash anyone or die when you jump out, after the alien attaches you to the crane. Once you land, attach these pyros to your feet before flying back up for the g-spin.” Claire O’Neill, A Greener Festival / Arcadia Spectacular

Claire O’Neill, Arcadia Spectacular (Photo: © Ben Dauré, Grape Productions)

If you would like to send feedback, comments or suggestions for future Your Shout topics, please email:


IQ Magazine July 2019

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