LIVE MUSIC INTELLIGENCE
INTELLIGENT PEOPLE HAVE HAD THEIR SAY / IT’S TIME FOR THE FOOLISH TO SHOW THE WAY ISSUE 86
Steve Homer’s 30 Years in Music ¡Olé! Latin Music’s Inexorable Rise Rock the Boat: Live Music Cruises International Festival Forum 2019 Market Report: Spain Staging & Steel
Contents IQ Magazine Issue 86
Cover photo: The Darkness, International Festival Forum Photo © Martin Hughes
News and Developments 8 Index in Brief The main headlines over the last two months
10 Analysis 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
Features 22 IFF 2019 Highlights from the recent International Festival Forum
24 Rock the Boat Jon Chapple examines the growth of live music cruise operations 28 Nerves of Steel Anna Grace talks to the specialists who build our stages and production infrastructure 36 ¡Olé! Latin Music’s inexorable rise 46 Homer’s Odyssey Steve Homer celebrates 30 years in music 64 ¡España, por favor! Adam Woods learns that the good times are returning to the Spanish live music business
Comments and Columns 16 Cast Out Dan Steinberg chronicles three years of the iconic Promoter 101 17 Security Security Security Mark Hamilton reflects on the greatest assets of live event security 18 A State of Commotion Martin Goebbels ponders the impact of national mourning on the live entertainment business 19 Redressing the Balance Heather Peace champions all-female events as a way to challenge a male-dominated industry
76 Members’ Noticeboard ILMC members’ photographs
78 Your Shout “The one that got away...”
IQ Magazine November 2019
Issue 86 LIVE MUSIC INTELLIGENCE THE ILMC JOURNAL, November 2019
Battle lines drawn Gordon Masson forecasts more deals to come in the live entertainment industry’s bricks and mortar sector...
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ILMC and Suspicious Marketing
The mega-merger of AEG Facilities and SMG to create ASM Global is certainly a game changer. The new company boasts more than 300 arenas, stadia and other large venues across five continents and employs 61,000 staff. The scramble to provide any meaningful competition has already started with Oak View Group’s formation of the International Venue Alliance, which in its first weeks has added Düsseldorf-based venue operator D.Live, and the UK’s Silverstone Circuit and NEC Group venues, to a pact that is very much modelled on OVG’s Arena and Stadium Alliance in the United States. Meanwhile, in April, Live Nation stepped outside its usual acquisition parameters when it acquired Belgium’s Antwerps Sportpaleis operations, which include the venue of the same name, as well as Lotto Arena and Forest National in Brussels, and Ethias Arena in Hasselt. Only time will tell if Live Nation will now shift more attention to the venues side of the business, but with ASM commanding such a significant chunk of the international venues market, it’s
likely that the management of other live entertainment buildings will be actively seeking partners to help safeguard their interests. Whether the intensifying competition will lead to a price war when it comes to hire fees, remains to be seen. For more on what’s happening in the venue sector, read our analysis on page 12. Our main features in this issue celebrate Steve Homer’s 30 years in the music business (page 46) and an indepth look at the increasingly popular genre of Latin music (page 36). Staying with that vibe, Adam Woods puts the Spanish live entertainment industry under the microscope in this edition’s market report (page 64), while Anna Grace talks to some of the specialists trusted with building the stages and production infrastructure indoors and outdoors, without whom the business simply would not function (page 28). And if all that isn’t enough for you, there’s a teaser report on this year’s International Festival Forum (page 22), while Jon Chapple takes to the high seas to investigate the fascinating world of live music cruises (page 24).
News Editor Jon Chapple
Staff Writer Anna Grace
Advertising & Sales Manager Steven Woollett
Imogen Battersby and Ben Delger
Martin Goebbels, Mark Hamilton, Heather Peace, Derek Robertson, Dan Steinberg, Manfred Tari, Adam Woods
Gordon Masson, firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: +44 (0)20 3743 0303
Steven Woollett, email@example.com Tel: +44 (0)20 3743 0304 ISSN 2633-0636
To subscribe to IQ Magazine: firstname.lastname@example.org An annual subscription to IQ is £75 (print) or £60 (electronic).
IQ Magazine November 2019
in brief The Offspring © Manuel Demori
SEPTEMBER Dean James, formerly CEO of Mean Fiddler and MAMA & Company, launches BeSixth, a live events agency with offices in London and Sydney. Big Hit Entertainment, home to K-pop phenomena BTS, calls global auditions to launch a new girl band, in conjunction with its label Source Music. Sony Music UK acquires London-based merchandise company Kontraband, as the company continues to strengthen its foothold in the music merch world. Through its Swedish division, FKP Scorpio Sverige, FKP Scorpio acquires Stockholmbased promoter Woah Dad! Live. Samsung debuts an Instagram-friendly ‘vertical’ stage, described as the world’s first, at its Samsung KX venue in King’s Cross, London. Primavera Sound organisers abandon plans to hold a London edition of the Spanish festival next summer. Chicago-based secondary ticketing company Vivid Seats is named among parties interested in acquiring StubHub from eBay. Rock the World-Save the Planet, the “first-ever 100% environmentally sustainable rock concert,” is announced for Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium on 15 November. The 1975 pledge to plant a tree for every ticket sold ahead of their upcoming UK and Republic of Ireland arena tour. Companies from across the UK live industry raise more than £50,000 (€57,900) for music charity Nordoff Robbins during the inaugural Music Mudder event. Oak View Group launches the International
Venue Alliance, a network of independent venues modelled on its US Arena and Stadium Alliance, with Silverstone Circuit as founding member. AEG Presents partners with educational charity the Eden Project to jointly run the Eden Sessions concert series in Cornwall, UK. Bahrain-based Investcorp, an investor in UTA, acquires leading Italian primary ticketing company Vivaticket. Hamburg-based concert promoter FKP Scorpio grows its European footprint by launching a division in Poland. The Offspring becomes the latest band to play a concert inside a video game, announcing a virtual show in online multiplayer war game World of Tanks. Chris Meredith, agent at ATC Live and festival director at LeeFest/Neverworld, passes away at the age of 37.
Live Nation’s LN-Gaiety Holdings and SJM Concerts jointly acquire a controlling stake in the UK’s 80s-themed Rewind Festival. AEG takes full control of its ticketing business, AXS, from co-owners TPG Capital and RockBridge Growth Equity. The value of ticket sales for live music events will exceed $25billion (€22bn) for the first time in 2023 – with total industry revenues set to reach a record $31.5bn (€28bn) the same year, reveal the latest PwC figures. Dice, the UK-based mobile ticketing and music discovery platform, expands into Italy, adding a Milan office and an exclusive partnership with promoter Radar Concerti. Organisers of events including Austin City Limits, Bonnaroo, Shambala and Pitchfork Music Festival affirm they will not use facial recognition technology at their events. Endeavor Group Holdings, Inc., the parent company of booking agency WME Entertainment, postpones its initial public offering, which was due to take place later this year. Canada’s Katz Group moves ahead with plans to build the largest indoor arena in Germany, and the second largest in Europe, next to Frankfurt Airport.
OCTOBER CTS Eventim expands into Russia, acquiring 51% of concert promoter Talent Concert International. AEG Facilities and SMG complete their merger to create a single worldwide venue management company: ASM Global.
IQ Magazine November 2019
Massive Attack © Ted Petrosky
MTS, Russia’s leading telco, signs an agreement to be the branding partner of, and help equip, a new 11,500-capacity arena in Moscow, backed by AEG and set to open in 2020. Live Nation Finland acquire Helsinkibased booking agency and promoter Hög Agency, adding to its domestic roster. Private equity firm Silver Lake Partners acquires Australia’s TEG, adding to a live portfolio that also includes Oak View Group, MSG and Endeavor. ASM Global acquires a 25% shareholding in Australian stadium operator VenuesLive, which operates the 83,500seat ANZ Stadium. UK live industry figures describe as inadequate new guidance from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on touring after a no-deal Brexit.
More than 2.4 million people register to get their hands on Glastonbury Festival 2020 passes, with all 135,000 tickets selling out in just over half an hour. The number of fans visiting the Viagogo site plummets nearly 80% after the secondary ticket seller was banned from advertising through Google earlier in the year. Increased investment in Valencia Arena, a new venue in the Spanish city, aims to make it the largest venue of its kind in the country, with 18,600 seats. US ticket exchange Lyte raises $15m (€13m) in series-A funding to further its mission of creating a “new category in live events: post-primary ticketing.” Move Concerts, the largest independent promoter in Latin America, and US entertainment and sports company Loud And Live announce a joint venture to pool
their resources across North, Central and South America. Several initiatives aiming to improve the mental health of the international music industry are announced in the run-up to World Mental Health Day 2019 on 10 October. ASM Global announces a new £260m (€302m) arena, conference and exhibition centre on Gateshead Quays in Newcastle, UK. Artists and DJs including Massive Attack, Declan McKenna, Orbital and Rob da Bank bring the noise to Extinction Rebellion’s two-week climate protest in London. Primavera Sound enters into an exclusive ticketing partnership with Dice, introducing mobile-only ticketing across its events. Space, a music, video-gaming and media company run by leading Swedish label execs, announces Space Stockholm, a seven-storey, 7,500m² gaming and music hub. Universal Music Group reveals that its revenues from merchandise sales nearly doubled in the first nine months of 2019, boosted by strong demand and a healthy global touring market. Twenty festivals pledge their commitment to increasing sustainability efforts at ADE Green, the environment-focused subconference of Amsterdam Dance Event. To subscribe to IQ Magazine: email@example.com An annual subscription to IQ is £75 (print) or £60 (electronic).
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IQ Magazine November 2019
Movers and Shakers John Langford has been elected president of the European Arenas Association (EAA), succeeding Ahoy Rotterdam’s Peter van der Veer, who stepped down earlier this year. Langford, who was named chief operating officer of AEG Europe last November, was elected at the EAA’s latest general meeting, held recently in Barcelona. UK venue management outfit VMS Live has appointed Bert Van Horck as CEO. He succeeds VMS founder Steve Forster who passed away earlier this year. In addition to producing stadium shows by Shakira and Depeche Mode, Van Horck also helped organise major sporting events such as the Baku 2015 European Games and the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. Forster’s widow, Kate, has also joined VMS Live as a nonexecutive director. Union Chapel Project, the charity that operates London’s Union Chapel, has appointed Michael Chandler as CEO. He joins the 900-capacity Islington venue from Cardboard Citizens, a theatre company for homeless people. He has also worked as a journalist and broadcaster, and in 2007 founded Worldwide Arts for Youth (WAYout), a charity working with street youth in West Africa. SMG Europe has appointed Ade Dovey, formerly of Manchester venue operator Mission Mars Group, to its UK event programming team. Dovey joins a team responsible for the development and programming of content for venues including Leeds First Direct Arena, Manchester Arena, Newcastle’s Utilita Arena, Aberdeen’s P&J Live, Hull’s Bonus Arena and the York Barbican. Veteran concert promoter Harvey Goldsmith CBE has joined festival experience platform Festicket as senior advisor. His appointment was announced alongside that of Ian McCaig, the former CEO of online travel retailer Lastminute.com, who becomes Festicket chairman. AEG Presents has hired former Chugg Entertainment CEO Matthew Lazarus-Hall as senior vice-president for the Asia-Pacific region. LazarusHall, who left Chugg in 2016 to set up a consulting firm, Uncommon Cord, will oversee all touring, festivals and sports “across the pan-Asian region,” according to the company. Majority Live Nation-owned US promoter Emporium Presents has appointed Tina Suca as chief operating officer. Tasked with leading Emporium’s business operations, Suca was previously at BSE Global, where, as vice president of industry relations, she assisted in the booking of properties, including NYCB Live, Webster Hall and the recently sold Barclays Center. The UK’s Music Managers Forum (MMF) has named Eleven Management’s Jayne Stynes as its new general manager. In six years at Eleven, Stynes worked with artists including Damon Albarn/Blur/Gorillaz, The Clash, Spoek Mathambo, Róisín Murphy and Kano. Sandra Schembri has been appointed CEO of music therapy charity Nordoff Robbins, taking over from Julie Whelan who retires later this year. Schembri spent the past decade as chief executive of homeless charity and members’ club the House of St Barnabas. She previously held positions at Bloomberg, the Royal Academy of Arts and Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club.
IQ Magazine November 2019
New gold rush down under Silver Lake Partners, the US private-equity firm with stakes in Madison Square Garden Company, Oak View Group and Endeavor, and venue management leader ASM Global, each made buys in Australia in October, in a huge month for M&A down under. Confirming rumours that surfaced in late September, Silver Lake announced on 4 October it had acquired Sydney-based TEG, the parent company of Australia’s leading ticketing platform, Ticketek, and promoters TEG Dainty and the MJR Group. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed, though reports in the Australian financial press valued the deal at around AU$1billion (€600million). Silver Lake managing director Stephen Evans said: “High-quality live sports and entertainment content is more sought after now than ever and represents a massive global addressable market for the company. We believe TEG’s innovative and integrated ticketing, content, digital marketing and analytics
platform is well positioned to continue to benefit from increasing consumer demand worldwide. “We’re excited to partner with Geoff and the entire TEG team, and invest further to leverage TEG’s platform and accelerate the company’s growth, both in Asia Pacific and globally.” The transaction is expected to close later this year, subject to conditions, including approval by the Australian Foreign Investment Review Board. ASM Global, meanwhile, announced the same day it had acquired a 25% shareholding in stadium operator VenuesLive. VenuesLive operates the 83,500-seat ANZ Stadium and 30,000-seat Bankwest Stadium, both in Sydney, and the 60,000-seat Optus Stadium in Perth. ASM Global (formerly trading in Asia and Australasia as AEG Ogden) already manages the 12,000seat Brisbane Entertainment Centre and 52,500-seat Suncorp Stadium, also in Brisbane; the 21,000-seat Qudos Bank Arena and
8,500-seat First State Super Theatre at ICC, both in Sydney; and the 15,000-seat RAC Arena in Perth. As part of the transaction, ASM Global’s Asia-Pacific region chairman, Harvey Lister, joins the VenuesLive board, though current directors (and joint majority shareholders) Daryl Kerry and Steve Heytman will continue to lead the business day to day. The deal expands AEG’s footprint in Australia and New Zealand, where its event-promotion arm, AEG Presents, merged its operations with the continent’s last major independent promoter, Frontier Touring, in April. That deal strengthened its position against market leader Live Nation, which has had a presence in Australia since 2012, when it acquired Michael Coppel Presents (MCP), at that time the second-biggest promoter in Australia. MCP was later rebranded Live Nation Australia with Coppel as chief executive (he became chairman in March 2017, handing over the CEO reins to Roger Field).
The value of ticket sales for live music events will exceed $25billion (€22bn) for the first time in 2023 – with total industry revenues set to reach a record $31.5million (€28m) the same year, reveal the latest PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) figures. The Global Entertainment & Media Outlook 2019– 2023, the 2019 update to the consulting firm’s respected annual Outlook report, finds live music ticket sales will increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.33% from 2018 to 2023, from a projected $21.256bn (€19.080bn) in 2018 to $25.036bn (€22.473bn) in 2023. Overall live music turnover (ticket sales plus sponsorship), meanwhile, will grow 3.11% CAGR, reaching $31.493bn (€28.269bn) in four years’ time. Also booming are podcasts, with the value of podcast advertising set to grow a remarkable 28.5% to $3.2bn (€2.9bn) in 2023, according to the Outlook 2019, and e-sports, which has a CAGR of 18.3%. For the full story, visit the IQ website: tiny.cc/iq-pwc19 PwC’s Top 20 Markets by Live music sales (US$Millions)
Optus Stadium, Perth
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
USA Germany Japan UK France Italy Netherlands Canada Australia Russia Sweden South Korea Switzerland Denmark Norway Austria Belgium Spain China Mexico
8,621 1,873 1,659 1,501 924 635 626 610 481 418 393 378 370 312 304 304 273 249 188 182
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IQ Magazine November 2019
NEC Group, operator of the UK’s Arena Birmingham, has joined OVG’s International Venue Alliance
Competition heats up in arena battle
The formation of ASM Global and the launch of Oak View Group (OVG)’s International Venue Alliance were among the key stories in a flurry of activity in the arena world in recent weeks. The creation of venue management giant ASM Global – the result of a merger between SMG Facilities and AEG Facilities – was cleared by competition authorities on both sides of the Atlantic in October. The new entity’s portfolio includes the world’s busiest venue, The O2 in London, along with the likes of Manchester Arena (UK), Barclays Center in New York, Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin, and Coca-Cola Arena, Dubai. “This marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter in our industry and one that will establish a new standard of excellence in managing live experiences,” says Bob Newman, the former president of AEG Facilities who now serves as ASM’s president and CEO. New additions to the ASM Global family include Australian venue operator VenuesLive, which manages the 83,500-seat ANZ Stadium in Sydney, and a planned new arena and exhibition
centre on Gateshead Quays in Newcastle, UK. AEG is additionally serving as an international partner for MTS Live Arena, which will have a capacity of 13,000 for concerts and is set to open in Moscow in 2020. OVG, meanwhile, launched its International Venue Alliance, a network of independent entertainment and sports venues modelled on its Arena and Stadium Alliance in the US, in midSeptember. Its founding members are leading arena operators NEC Group (UK) and D.Live (Germany), along with British grand prix circuit Silverstone. Oak View Group – a venue development, advisory and investment company cofounded by former AEG CEO Tim Leiweke and exLive Nation chairman Irving Azoff – launched its Londonbased overseas division, OVG International, at ILMC in March. The first OVG International project, Santa Giulia Arena in Milan, was announced in June as a joint venture with Live Nation. In August, OVG also confirmed it is in discussions to build a new indoor arena in Manchester in northern England, in a
challenge to ASM’s incumbent Manchester Arena. “As the Venue Alliance grows, we’ll continue to help our members in areas that are important to them and the overall business, which will extend to everything from ticketing and premium hospitality strategy, event scheduling, and unique sponsorship opportunities,” says OVG International president Sam Piccione. Meanwhile, in Germany, the Katz Group of Companies – one of Canada’s largest private firms – is moving ahead with plans to build the largest indoor arena in the country, and the second largest in Europe, next to Frankfurt Airport. The Dome will cost €300million and have a capacity of 23,000, placing it ahead of SMG’s Manchester Arena (21,000-cap) in the UK, and a whisker behind Live Nation’s 23,001-capacity Sportpaleis in Antwerp, Belgium. Katz Group was formerly owner of Rexall Health, one the largest chains of chemists in North America, and now operates chiefly in property and sports/ entertainment. Through Oilers Entertainment Group (OEG), the Edmonton-
based company, founded in 1990 by Daryl Katz, owns ice hockey teams Edmonton Oilers, Edmonton Oil Kings and Bakersfield Condors. It also manages the 20,734-capacity Rogers Place (home ground to the Oilers and Oil Kings), and surrounding Ice District, in Edmonton, and owns events agency Aquila Productions. According to Dentons, which advised Katz Group on its joint venture with local investors, upon completion the Dome is likely to become the home venue of Frankfurt’s Löwen ice hockey team and Skyliners basketball team. Elsewhere, new investment in an arena in Valencia aims to make it the largest venue of its kind in Spain. The multipurpose Valencia Arena will sit on 21,500 square metres of land, with a capacity of 15,000 for basketball matches and up to 18,600 for concerts. Its budget is €220m, with building work expected to start in summer 2020 for a completion date in 2023. The project is led by Spanish entrepreneur Juan Roig and his holding company Licampa 1617. The arena’s capacity will surpass that of Madrid’s WiZink Center (15,500-cap), which celebrated its 500th concert in 2018 and has seen performances from the likes of Queen, AC/DC, Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, Ed Sheeran and Beyoncé. The goal, says Roig, is “to give Valencia a multiusespace that will position the city and the wider region as a world-class destination for national and international sporting, cultural and entertainment events.”
IQ Magazine November 2019
The latest trades and handshakes from the agency world Baker Grace
In 2019, Grace independently released her debut EP, Girl, I Know and single Sad Summer. She has since received over 25,000 new Instagram followers; 10 million views on TikTok; 15 million streams with support from the likes of Spotify, Apple Music and Tidal; and media support across numerous titles and brands.
JEFFREY LEWIS & THE VOLTAGE (US) BAKER GRACE (US)
Agent: Mark Bennett Agentmarkbennett@gmail.com New Jersey’s 18-year-old Baker Grace began shaping her distinct artistic voice as a child. Self-taught on piano and guitar, she started writing songs at a young age and soon learned that making music “allowed me to escape life while guiding me through it at the same time.” Not long after releasing 2015 album Bitter’s Kiss, she was discovered by Scott Harris, a hit-making songwriter/producer known for his work with Shawn Mendes and The Chainsmokers. In collaboration with Harris, she put out a pair of singles with Republic Records: Am I Talking to You? and Day I Die. She also teamed up with producer Ayokay, appearing as the featured vocalist on his 2017 single Too Young.
Agent: Shane Daunt, Progressive Artists
Jeffrey Lewis & The Voltage play a brilliant style of scuzzy urban indie-rock-folk, like a 21st century mash-up of Sonic Youth, Pete Seeger and R. Crumb. New Yorker, Jeffrey, has pursued a relentless touring schedule since 2002, as well as playing as the opening act for bands like The Mountain Goats, Daniel Johnston, Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks, Dinosaur Jr, The Fall, Dr. Dog, Pulp, Roky Erickson, The Vaselines, and more. The Voltage are Brent Cole on drums and Mem Pahl on bass and keys, and are essentially the same band that has been touring between 2016-2019 as Jeffrey Lewis & Los Bolts, but Jeffrey continues his tradition of changing the band name with each album. New album Jeffrey Lewis & The Voltage: Bad Wiring will be released 1 November on Moshi Moshi Records in UK/ Europe and Don Giovanni Records in the USA.
180dB (UK) Paul Buck, Paradigm Aldo (BR) Felipe Mina Calvo, ATC Live Audrey MiKa (US) Mike Malak, Paradigm Beach Bunny (US) Matt Pickering-Copley, Primary Talent Bayonne (US) Sarah Casey & Greg Lowe, UTA Bec Sandridge (AU) Stuart Kennedy & Stephen Taylor, ATC Live Berhana (US) Sally Dunstone & Beckie Sugden, X-ray Beyries (CA) Stephen Taylor, ATC Live Billy Strings (US) Stuart Kennedy, ATC Live bLAck pARty (US) Beckie Sugden, X-ray Bob Vylan (UK) Shaun Faulkner, X-ray Brooke Annibale (US) Beth Morton, UTA CC Honeymoon (UK) Sally Dunstone, X-ray Cehryl (HK) Guillaume Brevers, ATC Live Chance The Rapper (US) David Zedeck, Gary Howard, Sean Goulding, Jules de Lattre, Jbeau Lewis & David Klein, UTA Chris Thile (US) Rob Challice, Paradigm Command Sisters (CA) Nick Matthews, Paradigm Conchur White (UK) Colin Keenan, ATC Live Crocodylus (AU) Shaun Faulkner, X-ray Cry Club (AU) Shaun Faulkner, X-ray Dead Nature (UK) Nick Holroyd, Primary Talent Deema (UK) Francesco Caccamo, Primary Talent DJ Spoony Garage Classical (UK) Cris Hearn & Mike Malak, Paradigm Dotan (NL) Peter Elliott, Primary Talent Dreamcast (US) Steve Nickolls, UTA Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors (US) Beth Morton, UTA Drug Store Romeos (UK) Will Church, ATC Live Earhart (UK) Jamie Wade, X-ray Elah Hale (US) Mike Malak & James Whitting, Paradigm Fay Wildhagen (NO) Beth Morton, UTA Ghum (UK) Natasha Bent & Adele Slater, Paradigm Grace Ives (US) Andy Duggan, Primary Talent Habstrakt (FR) Paul McQueen, Primary Talent Harry Teardrop (US) Guillaume Brevers, ATC Live Holloway Road (UK) Phyllis Belezos, ITB House of Pharaohs (UK) James Osgood, Diana Richardson & Sean Goulding, UTA Huntsmen (US) Ben Ward, UTA Iann Dior (US) Noah Simon & Sean Goulding, UTA James Vincent McMorrow (IE) Matt Bates, Primary Talent Jamz Supernova (UK) Steve Nickolls, UTA Jeremie Albino (CA) Stuart Kennedy, ATC Live Joe Hertz (UK) Steve Nickolls, UTA Joel Corry (UK) Nick Matthews, Paradigm Kaleta & Super Yamba Band (BJ/US) Serena Parsons, Primary Talent Kilo Jugg (UK) Craig D’Souza, Primary Talent Klaus Blatter (DE) Cris Hearn & James Whitting, Paradigm Korantemaa (SE) Andy Duggan, Primary Talent Kyle Daniel (US) Phyllis Belezos, ITB Lazarus Kane (US) Sarah Joy, ATC Live LEES (UK) Jamie Wade, X-ray Leyma (UK) Sally Dunstone, X-ray Luisa Sonza (BR) Mike Malak & Clementine Bunel, Paradigm Lunch Money Life (UK) Andy Duggan, Primary Talent Mark Kingswood (UK) Phyllis Belezos, ITB Marlon Craft (US) Beckie Sugden, X-ray Mastermind (UK) Craig D’Souza, Primary Talent
IQ Magazine November 2019
Maxo Kream (US) Sally Dunstone, X-ray Maxx Palmer (UK) Ryan Penty, Paradigm Michael Seyer (US) Guillaume Brevers, ATC Live Mid City (AU) Stuart Kennedy, ATC Live Mira Mira (UK) Sol Parker & Ryan Penty, Paradigm Night Verses (US) Shaun Faulkner, X-ray Pearla (US) Guillaume Brevers, ATC Live Peat & Diesel (UK) Zac Peters, DMF Music Pen Gutt (NO) Felipe Mina Calvo, ATC Live Plain White T’s (US) Shaun Faulkner, X-ray Punch Brothers (US) Rob Challice, Paradigm RAMIREZ (US) Beckie Sugden, X-ray Shafiq Husayn (US) Serena Parsons, Primary Talent Sikdope (PL) Paul McQueen, Primary Talent SikTh (UK) Shaun Faulkner, X-ray Spacey Jane (AU) Paul Buck, Paradigm Sparkling (DE) Felipe Mina Calvo, ATC Live Spoort (UK) Sally Dunstone, X-ray Supergrass (UK) Matt Bates, Primary Talent Thaiboy Digital (TH) Nick Holroyd, Primary Talent The Aces (US) Sarah Casey & David Sullivan Kaplan, UTA The Bacon Brothers (US) Olly Hodgson, Paradigm The Hour (UK) Andy Clayton, Paradigm The Overtones (UK) Steve Backman, Primary Talent The Trevor Horn Band (UK) Chris Smyth, Primary Talent The Veronicas (AU) Jamie Wade, X-ray The Von Bondies (US) Steve Backman, Primary Talent The Wha (IE) Matt Bates, Primary Talent The Wytches (UK) Shaun Faulkner, X-ray Tinariwen (ML) Sarah Casey, Greg Lowe & Jules DeLattre, UTA TLC (US) Sarah Casey & Tessie Lammle, UTA Vetiver (US) Guillaume Brevers, ATC Live Wargasm (UK) Anna Bewers, Paradigm YolanDa Brown (UK) Emily Robbins & Heulwen Keyte, UTA
PREDICTIONS FOR NEXT MONTH (Artists moving through database the quickest) EVIE IRIE (AU), EVERYONE YOU KNOW (UK), LONELY GOD (US), BREE RUNWAY (UK), HP BOYZ (AU)
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
Last Month 4 1 81 8 7 33 3 6 2 14 176 5 10 25 47
Artist ONEFOUR (AU) COI LERAY (US) REGARD (RS) BLACK PUMAS (US) SUECO THE CHILD (US) BENEE (NZ) KING COMBS (US) DOMO WILSON (US) AMBJAAY (US) QUIN NFN (US) LOUGOTCASH (US) LIGHTSKINKEISHA (US) BENNY THE BUTCHER (US) SOPHIE ROSE (US) JOBA (BROCKHAMPTON) (US)
Fastest growing artists based on online music consumption. Aggregated across a number of online sources
Cast Out With Promoter 101 set to conclude this November, Dan Steinberg reflects on three years of the industry’s favourite podcast.
long with my co-host, artist manager Luke Pierce, I created the podcast as an evolution of my panel moderation and interviews at events like Pollstar! Live, the IEBA Conference and Aspen Live. It began three years ago, in October 2016, with inaugural guest Tom Ross. Since then, the show has hosted live music business luminaries including (in no particular order) Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino; Paradigm’s Tom Windish; WME head of music Marc Geiger; Rock Werchter founder Herman Schueremans; agent Lucy Dickins (then at ITB); AEG Presents co-CEOs Toby LeightonPope and Steve Homer; legendary manager Shep Gordon; and, in his final interview, late Primary agent Dave Chumbley – and we have more huge names lined up for the run to episode #200. Dave Chumbley was such a character. It was a very jovial session – we played games, told stories… I had a lot of fun. His family called shortly after he died [in August 2017] and asked for the audio of it, and they played the show at his wake. People told me afterwards that they were so moved by that interview. I wasn’t trying to build this time capsule looking back at Dave’s life, but we inadvertently created this thing for people who knew him very well. It’s risky to put yourself out there with a podcast when you’re working in the industry that supplies both the guests and listeners, but I saw a gap in the market for shows made by the business, for the business. No one had ever done anything like it before. There are a million music-industry podcasts, but they’re all run by guys who never made it – guys who got to open up for a really cool band one time, or headlined a 500-cap room, but no one who truly understands from inside the industry. Plus, I’ve always been rewarded for taking risks. I remember a few years ago seeing Emma Banks hosting the Arthur Awards (at the murder-mystery-themed ILMC 29), dressed up in flapper garb, and thinking: Here’s a whole room of agents who are fine with the fact their competitor is hosting these awards, and they’re sat down here instead. And they’ve bought a ticket! But she’s Emma – she’s a badass and a genius, so she can get away with it. Doing what Emma does – being able to laugh at yourself and being a bit more out there – has always worked for me. Promoter 101 is an extension of that. When people remember who you are and what you do, that’s advertising you don’t have to pay for: I’d get venue GMs buying our shows, saying to me
they love the podcast, while other companies are taking out full pages in Billboard and Pollstar… Promoter 101 is a personal project, unaffiliated with Emporium – but the popularity of the podcast definitely expedited the process of Emporium being acquired by Live Nation in late 2018. Incidentally, my Pollstar Live! 2018 keynote with Live Nation president and CEO Michael Rapino is still the most-listened Promoter 101 episode to date.
“It’s risky to put yourself out there with a podcast when you’re working in the industry that supplies both the guests and listeners.” But the podcast is completely separate from Emporium, and it wasn’t included in the Live Nation deal. It’s a labour of love. I didn’t want them to be responsible for covering a loss leader. Since it started, Promoter 101 has probably cost me hundreds of thousands of dollars! The travel is insane. And it’s not like I can invite people to a Motel 6. So the coffee and tea service alone costs a fortune… I have received multiple offers of sponsorship for Promoter 101, but I turned them down in favour of self-funding. I live a pretty gifted life and the music business has allowed me some serious comforts. I live a life most people don’t get to – so it’s really the least I can do to give back. It’s my way of paying it forward. I owe it to the industry. I have a list of about 180 other guests I’d like to interview, but I’d prefer to end the podcast now and go out on a high. I don’t want it to get old and boring. The show’s better than it’s ever been – it’s at its peak now. So, while there are certainly people I’d still love to interview, I don’t know if there’s anything left for me to do. What would another six months add to it? I feel like I’ve annoyed enough people, I’ve paid it forward – I’ve done my job. People have asked me if I’d consider handing it over to someone else, but it’s not going to happen. I don’t want to see people sleeping with my ex-girlfriend! The last ‘Promoter 101’ shows run throughout October and into November, with the farewell episode set for 11 November. Final interviewees include Harvey Goldsmith (10 October), Emma Banks (17 October), Randy Phillips (24 October), pundit Bob Lefsetz (28 October) and Bill Silva (31 October), as well as several surprise guests.
IQ Magazine November 2019
Security Security Security Following the 2019 Event Safety and Security Summit, Mark Hamilton, director of security for Sir Paul McCartney, reflects on the greatest assets of live event security today.
first started working security at concerts 46 years ago, when I cut my event teeth in the Empire Theatre, Edinburgh. Prior to that I was a member of the audience. Crucially, it was the experience of being a ticket buyer that gave me a unique and very early perspective – I was only 16 years old – on how audiences should be managed, and a sense that something had to change and improve. Fast forward to the present day and it would be a failure if there was not an acknowledgement that many individuals, some who are no longer with us, have given their entire careers and sacrificed much of their personal life to create a safer and more secure environment in which people can go out and enjoy themselves, and also to work and perform at events. Many of those same individuals understood not only the greater good of sharing, collaborating and exploring new methods, but also of obtaining input from the event-going public, which was about seeing how we do our job, not introspectively, but from the view of that 16-year-old live music fan. The past strides taken towards improving standards of planning, tactical awareness, operational delivery and customer expectations were, and still are, very much an experiential process, where good and bad lessons learned are then applied so that future incident and disaster can be avoided. I think this is best characterised by paraphrasing the words of Spanish philosopher, George Santayana: “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” The importance of analysing and prioritising the range of risks and threats underlines what Lord Kerslake said in his contribution last year in the eponymous Manchester Arena bombing report, that “we cannot afford to be complacent,” which is no less equal to Lord Justice Taylor’s comment in his Hillsborough Disaster report that “complacency is the enemy of safety.” From what I saw at the Event Safety and Security Summit (E3S) in October, there is no sense of complacency among event security professionals today. If there is any looking back it is about preparing for the future. It is also about analysing current methods and trends with a critical eye, but also seeking out new theories and keeping pace with what technology has to offer while still aiming to share best practice, and in general to collaborate. The latter, of course, can bring into play the debate
IQ Magazine November 2019
about competition and commercial interest. However, there can be no secrets where public safety is concerned. Any agile business or service provider knows that quality in delivery of a ‘safe and secure event,’ from which there are no injuries or fatalities and the prevailing public consciousness is about a good time experienced and not about security presence, is where the greatest amount of positive impact will be made on both the consumer and client’s ‘feelings’ about their own safety. So what does the future look like? Technology is most certainly going to be a large part of how events are managed, where safety, security and customer service are assured and integrated.
“Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” The threat of internal terrorists perhaps calls into question the need for more robust employee screening, vetting and supervising to minimise the opportunity for someone to become hostile within the organisation or event. Of course, threats are not just focused around people, but increasingly our events are reliant on multiple systems that are vulnerable to cyber attack. The world is moving at pace towards the Internet of things, the advent of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Biometrics, facial matching and recognition, and utilising open-source intelligence are of great benefit but create in themselves an asset-protection need. Therefore, it is essential to have a clear plan that addresses what security controls are required for each critical system, and contingencies. Events are really about a gathering of people, usually for the purposes of seeking enjoyment and entertainment, and the physical and psychological factors that influence their actions. The industry has advanced quite considerably in the last few years and quite rightly is embracing technology, seeking out new ways to train, educate, plan, manage and communicate. Yet, we must never forget that we are dealing with people and all of the human factors arising from excitement, anticipation, fear, expectation and cultural influences that are ever present and always changing.
A State of Commotion Miller’s Martin Goebbels outlines the logistical and contractual issues that could arise from a period of national mourning, as well as other emerging risks to live events.
he increased risk of event cancellation has led to growing concern for insurers in recent times, but how much are event organisers and artists – or other rights owners and broadcasters – aware of the implications? This applies not only to music events but also to sports, theatre and family shows. National mourning (NM) is something often not considered by many, but in certain territories this may have a huge impact on all types of live events. Of course, NM can be triggered by the death of a president, a member of a royal family or another kind of leader; or a major natural disaster or tragedy causing large-scale loss of life. For a number of reasons, this has occurred more regularly in recent years. National mourning One problem for event organisers and insurers alike is that nobody seems too sure exactly what impact any mourning period could have on live events, or how long it may last. For example, would events be cancelled immediately after the bad news is released, or would it only apply to a period of time around a funeral – and if so, how long? Maybe that depends on the venues or type of event involved, and – appreciating IQ has international readership – I use the UK purely as an example by asking: Would Royal Parks or the Royal Albert Hall or Royal Ascot or Wimbledon possibly be more affected than a local theatre event? Would such venues or maybe other stadia be taken over and used to televise the funeral, resulting in cancellations? Or possibly, if vast crowds were expected to gather (either to show respect immediately after a death, or to line the funeral route) would police and medical patrols be pulled from other live events to control these numbers? Information is sparse around the protocol in these circumstances. Earlier this year, a death in one of Europe’s royal families triggered a 12-day NM period in the country involved. That country is not one of the most high profile touring territories, but it does highlight how quickly problems could occur for live events. I realise it may sound flippant to say, but the old adage is that the one certainty in life is death (and tax – but I won’t go there!), so my points above will become reality to us at some time. One further question is what happens for a coronation: would a country close live events for this – or as mentioned above, would parks/stadia/venues or police and safety teams be utilised, resulting in event cancellation? In the UK, sadly, this will happen in the forthcoming years, and, of course, in other countries, too.
While most cancellation insurance policies will automatically include NM cover, often for those up to age 70, it is extremely hard, if not impossible, for insurers to know exactly to whom NM would apply in different territories – for example, the UAE and the countries of the Far East have more than one national figurehead whose demise would trigger NM, and sometimes for longer periods than in other parts of the world. The age limit could also be a concern as, for example, Elizabeth II (who is queen of 16 countries, as well as head of the Commonwealths), and the current US president are both over the age of 70, and other countries have leaders of similar ages. That is something perhaps agents/ managers do not factor in when booking tours or insurance.
“…nobody seems too sure exactly what impact any mourning period could have on live events, or how long it may last.” Weather and other risks The world’s erratic weather patterns have caused increasing problems to touring parties and live events, and in areas not previously badly affected. Hurricanes, tornados, storms and heavy snowfall are obvious reasons, but, increasingly, so are extreme high temperatures, resulting in a risk to audiences. Civil commotion seems to be an increasing risk to events. As I write this, the situation in Hong Kong is hugely volatile; France, and Paris particularly, have had problems; and they are not the first cities to have such problems in very recent years. Terrorism, or the threat of, is and always will be a concern to everyone, as it can occur anywhere in the world these days. These risks are excluded under standard cancellation insurance policies, but offered as an optional extra coverage with premiums calculated by insurers on each city and country. I have not intended to scaremonger, but hopefully provide some food for thought. I will, however, reiterate comments I have made many times in the past: that show contracts are absolutely crucial in determining who would be responsible for paying who in the event of any of the above circumstances. I still see contracts with confusing or very vague versions of the dreaded force majeure clause. I strongly urge everyone to take the time to consider the implications before the event – not afterwards, when it is too late and only creates business and relationship problems.
IQ Magazine November 2019
Redressing the Balance Heather Peace, artistic director and founder of HearHer Festival, explains how the all-female event creates a platform for women artists in a male-dominated industry. am only just recovered from the intense adrenaline rush of putting on a three-day music festival. The inaugural HearHer Festival took place in a rainy holiday park in Poole, Dorset, in the UK, on the weekend of 11–13 October. I’ve felt emotionally and physically battered but so, so happy at what my team and I achieved. HearHer Festival is a music festival with an all-female lineup. It’s a statement against the gender imbalance in music festival lineups in the UK and abroad. The percentage of women-fronted bands or female solo artists at Download last year was just 3%; at Trnsmt it was 11%, Kendal Calling 14% and Glastonbury 29%, just to mention a few, according to Ann’s Cottage’s British Festival Report. The average – between the UK and the US, at all major festivals – was coming out at 19% in total. With the Keychange initiative at PRS making festivals rethink their bookings, this year has seen significant improvements, especially with Glastonbury wowing us with 42% femalefronted or solo artists on their bill. But Emily Eavis was recently quoted as saying that while she would love to book women in the top slots at Glastonbury, “the pool isn’t big enough. Everyone’s hungry for women but they’re just not there.” Huge talent absolutely is there, but women are not being given the slots to hone their performances – they are not being
nurtured from the off. HearHer is more than just a weekend of music; HearHer is part of a movement. We also support women in production and sound engineering and want to provide apprenticeship opportunities for the engineers coming through. After being a victim myself of the PledgeMusic collapse just this last year, I want to also be able to provide artist bursaries towards the costs of artists’ first EPs/albums. This festival is about women uniting with a clarion voice to say that this has to change across the board. At the festival, Soak said that booking women should not just be a novelty; it should be commonplace. I want HearHer to remain the small, boutique festival it is today but be a nurturing space from which bigger festivals can pluck our artists and take them to the next level. HearHer is not a novelty ‘woke’ response to male-dominated festival bills but a celebration of talent, and a platform that hasn’t currently been provided. HearHer was never about excluding men – we wanted them to attend and many did, along with kids and even dogs! We provide a safe space for everyone, and the feeling at our little festival, I think, was unique. I am excited at the prospect, in a few years – when we have reached a parity in festival lineups, or close to – of welcoming the first male artists or male-led bands to HearHer. I think that would be really something to celebrate.
Yamaha’s piano AI system can replicate Glenn Gould’s playing style
Music industry technological trends under the microscope...
AI recreates late stars’ talents
The AI boffins at Yamaha Corporation have been busy in recent months, resurrecting late musicians Glenn Gould and Hibari Misora with the magic of AI. Using its Vocaloid:AI singing synthesis technology, Yamaha presented a reborn Misora on a special television programme, Bringing Hibari Misora Back with AI, broadcast in Japan on 29 September. The project, led by the Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK), used Vocaloid:AI to reproduce Misora’s voice for a live performance of a ‘new’ song to commemorate the 30th anniversary of her death. A highdefinition, 3D video reproduced the singer’s likeness. The following month, Yamaha released footage
of what it calls the world’s first AI piano system, which is capable of playing any piece of music in the style of Glenn Gould. At the Ars Electronica Festival in Linz, Austria, the system – which consists of a player piano and the AI software, which applies deeplearning technology to play any piece in Gould’s style with the aid of sheet music data – performed solo, and then alongside pianist Francesco Tristano, accompanied by a trio of Bruckner Orchestra Linz members. After seeing the performance, Brian M. Levine, executive director of the Glenn Gould Foundation, said the project should be “taken into the music mainstream” due to the “keen interest” and “spirited debate” it will generate.
Festyvent launches new festival apps UK data analytics firm Festyvent has launched a suite of new and enhanced apps for music festivals and live events. Safe@Festival allows audience members to alert friends to their exact location if they fall ill or feel vulnerable. Those contacted are able to track the sender of the message live for 60 minutes on Google Maps, using either GPS co-ordinates or the What3words identifier. Other new innovations include SmartMap – which gives fans an accurate geographical location, better orientation and sense of direction on the festival ground – and Share your Schedule, which does what it says on the tin, and received an overwhelmingly positive response when trialled with select festivals in 2019. Festyvent’s operations director, Olivier Zucker, says: “We place the audience’s engagement with the festival at the core of our thinking, and are continuously looking how we can improve audi-
ence experience and engagement. This is great for the audience and benefits the festival by providing multiple data points on the audience’s preferences and interests. “A lot of thought has gone into how festival organisers are planning their festivals, with the need to adapt and combine events. The result is Festyvent’s permanent multi-app architecture, which offers the possibility to cross-sell events through an app structure that can be updated dynamically without the need to release a new app for each festival season.” https://festyvent.com/
Live music heads to virtual worlds Online video games will form an important part of the live music ecosystem in the years ahead, with major artists playing to virtual audiences that dwarf even the world’s largest arenas in size, according to Linden Lab, the company behind pi-
oneering virtual world Second Life. Speaking to IQ in October, Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg said the company’s unofficial Second Life successor Sansar and games like it provide the industry with an unparalleled opportunity
to boost earnings, increase engagement and grow artists’ fan bases. “You can have ticketing; VIP and green-room experiences; merchandise stands where people can go and buy shirts and caps – and we can share those ticketing
and merch revenues with performers and labels,” he explained of Sansar, which counts record labels Spinnin’ Records and Monstercat among its industry partners. Read the full interview with Linden Lab at tiny.cc/ iq-sansar.
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IQ Magazine November 2019
The fifth edition of IFF took place in September, attracting more than 800 festival promoters and booking agents to the invitation-only event. The event included ten curated showcases featuring 36 acts, while agents met promoters in dedicated pop-up offices on-site. Partner agencies included 13 Artists, ATC Live, CAA, ITB, Paradigm, Pitch & Smith, Primary Talent, Solo, Toutpartout, UTA, WME and X-ray. Highlights included:
The Festival Season 2019 Panel: Greg Lowe, United Talent Agency (chair); Anna Sjölund, Live Nation Sweden; Mikołaj Ziółkowski, Alter Art Festival; Stephan Thanscheidt, FKP Scorpio; Charly Beedell-Tuck, Solo Agency; Russell Warby, WME Entertainment. The weather, cancellations, artist fees (of course) and the ever-earlier festival booking window were among the topics tackled by the panellists, with Thanscheidt joking that it’s “the first time in four or five years that I’m not sat here crying and complaining about the weather!” Ziółkowski noted that a survey by Yourope, the European Festival Association, found the market was slightly down compared to 2018. “We’re in a really good place but the big labels thought the same previously,” he explained. “Festivals are working on really small margins, so when artist fees, production, supplier costs, everything is rising, it’s more difficult to make a profit, and that will affect the market.” “To say this very clearly: in future, festivals will have problems if there’s no magic money coming from anywhere else,” said Thanscheidt. Fees for headliners are not reasonable: just because someone, somewhere, will pay it – and they always will – doesn’t mean it’s reasonable.
THE BIG BILLING DEBATE Panel: Kim Bloem, Mojo Concerts (chair); Kazia Davy, Echo Location; Ian Evans, IME Music; Julia Gudzent, Melt! Booking; Thomas Zsifkovits, Barracuda Music. Bloem led a discussion on the often thorny politics around festival billing, which numerous promoters and agents in the room agreed has become a tricky issue for the industry.
IQ Magazine November 2019
Despite Bloem’s assertion that it’s in everyone’s “mutual interest” to stop wasting time discussing the minutiae of festival posters, Zsifkovits said: “Everyone has their own interest. I wouldn’t say there is mutual interest. Agents want to get their artists as high as possible, and the promoter wants to highlight the people who are going to sell tickets.” While the merits of such remedies as alphabetical billing and poster font sizes were discussed, Bloem concluded there’s “no golden rule” for how to order a festival poster. “But I hope that for next year, we can be a bit nicer to each other and trust one another,” she said.
NICHE WORK (IF YOU CAN GET IT) Panel: Jon Chapple, IQ Magazine (chair); Maria May, CAA; Thomas Kreidner, Seaside Touring; Maarten van Vugt, WOO HAH!; Michaela Maiterth, Montreux Jazz Festival; Michal Kaščák, Pohoda Festival. The panel explored the merits of genre-specific festivals; the rise of urban music and the electronic music explosion; jazz’s longevity; and the success of some large heavy metal events, such as Wacken Open Air. Kaščák mentioned the importance of opening up the space for everyone, stressing that “quality is always key, whatever the niche.” Fan demographics also came into play, with panellists discussing the difficulties of handling young fans and the various security issues this can throw up. The oft-talked about penchant for comfort among festivalgoers was also discussed, as the panel attempted to pinpoint the type of fan that is most likely to be unfazed by getting down and dirty. Ravers definitely don’t mind the mud, confirmed May, as long as the sound system is “amazing.” Metal fans are also not fussy, added Kreidner, whereas Pohoda fans value clean toilets above all else, joked the Pohoda boss.
KEYNOTE INTERVIEW Herman Schueremans, Live Nation Belgium Interviewed by ILMC founder, Martin Hopewell As Rock Werchter founder and one of Europe’s most influential festival pioneers, Schueremans lamented samey lineups and festival operators seeing events as “brands” rather than cultural institutions. “Festivals sustain the live industry just as the Amazon rainforest sustains the world’s climate,” he said. “They’re the lungs of the live music business, and we have to take care to protect them.” He told delegates, “The last thing I want in this business is that we create bureaucracy – we should not make the same mistakes as the record companies did. We need to be organised as an army but able to act as a guerrilla, quickly and efficiently.
IQ Magazine November 2019
ROCK THE BOAT Jon Chapple explores the swell of music-themed cruises that are floating festivalgoers’ boats.
s IFF 2019 delegates heard in September, it’s been a mixed bag of a year for traditional music festivals, with many events struggling to repeat the highs of 2018 amid rising costs and increased difficulty booking talent. Early indications from festival association Yourope suggest the market is “slightly down,” revealed Mikołaj Ziółkowski of Poland’s Open’er Festival, while FKP Scorpio’s Stephan Thanscheidt warned: “We’re steering into a dead-end street. We can’t raise ticket prices any more or we lose people.” Even against this challenging backdrop, however, many events are going from strength to strength – especially those that have developed a strong identity and loyal fan base allowing them to sell tickets even when the vagaries of the touring cycle reduce the pool of available headliners. But what if – instead of trying to compete with all those other events on land – festival operators took en masse to the water, putting on parties for an army of adventurous Captain Nemo types seeking adventure on the high seas? As it turns out, a small but growing group of promoters are doing just that, and “it’s not a difficult sell,” says Anthony Diaz, CEO of Sixthman, the US-based granddaddy of music cruise operators, which made its mark in Europe this summer with festivals including Belle and Sebastian’s Boaty Weekender (a co-pro with AEG Presents) and the European debut of Joe Bonamassa’s Keeping the Blues Alive at Sea.
“Festivalgoers don’t have to worry about long lines for the restrooms, muddy grounds or having to drive back home. Shipmates can also choose to take naps in-between sets and wake up at 3am to continue partying until sunrise.” Jonathan Blackburn, whose UK-based Floating Festivals company is behind cruises such as ’80s festival Throwback and musical theatre event Stages, says he came across the music cruise model while supplying entertainers for events sailing out of Florida. “I was in and out of various offices in Miami and became aware of how popular themed cruising is in the US,” he explains, and was inspired to launch something similar in Europe.
t’s getting easier every day. In the US [floating festivals are] a very common format, and agencies know the value they add to their artists. In Europe, when we started speaking to agents and managers two years ago, it was so new, but now that we’ve done a few, the conversation has changed – they just needed to see it for themselves.” The appeal, says Iqbal Ameer, CEO of Singapore-based Livescape Group, which operates It’s The Ship (‘Asia’s largest festival at sea’), is that “unlike a landed festival, festivalgoers are able to enjoy various luxuries, such as comfortable cabins just steps away from the stages, 24-hour dining that serves warm food throughout the day, and various ship facilities that add convenience to their festival experience, allowing them to focus fully on enjoying their time on-board. The KISS Kruise VIII © Will Byington
IQ Magazine November 2019
lthough a “steep learning curve,” Floating Festivals has enjoyed steady growth over the past two years, buoyed by the increasing popularity of both floating festivals and cruises in general. “The worldwide cruise market is increasing, too,” says Wolfgang Rott, head of press and marketing for leading metal cruise 70000Tons of Metal. “If you look at what kind of cruises there are now, there’s everything from music cruises to gay cruises to Bible cruises…” Broadly speaking, Diaz says, music cruises can be divided into two models: the ‘host’ model, like Sixthman’s successful
events with Kiss (The KISS Kruise), Paramore (Parahoy!) and Kesha (Kesha’s Weird & Wonderful Rainbow Ride); and the ‘festival’ model, “not unlike Coachella or Glastonbury,” which feature upwards of 20 different artists. With both formats, the majority of artists stay on the ship for the duration of the cruise, Diaz adds: for ‘festivals’ the figure is around 90%, while hosted events edge closer to 100%, with the recent Runaway to Paradise with Jon Bon Jovi cruise the sole outlier so far. “We experimented a bit with Jon,” he explains. “He’d come on and off and do signings, photos, play an acoustic set here and there, but he’d stay in a hotel in the Bahamas. It went well, but it doesn’t change our core model: bringing fans and bands together.”
“Festivalgoers don’t have to worry about long lines for the restrooms, muddy grounds or having to drive back home.” Iqbal Ameer, Livescape Group
Belle & Sebastian present The Boaty Weekender
IQ Magazine November 2019
“…you could go into the breakfast restaurant in the morning and see the guys from Nightwish or Testament, or in the evening see Fear Factory singing Abba on the karaoke…” Wolfgang Rott, 70000Tons of Metal
lso bringing fans and artists together is 70000Tons of Metal, a heavy metal cruise that sails from Florida to a Caribbean destination every January. Performers such as Cradle of Filth, Sabaton, Cannibal Corpse, Napalm Death, Meshuggah and Children of Bodom mingle with guests to an extent not seen on other cruises, according to Rott. “You don’t have any backstage areas – everybody is just a regular customer,” he explains. “So you could go into the breakfast restaurant in the morning and see the guys from Nightwish or Testament, or in the evening see Fear Factory singing Abba on the karaoke… Once fans realise the artists aren’t going away – that they’re going to be on-board the whole time and you can sit next to them in the bar or the jacuzzi, or play beer pong together – it takes away the pressure from the exchange. It’s a totally unique experience, and something you don’t really get at a landed festival.” “These aren’t standard cruises,” continues Blackburn. “These are three- or four-night party experiences. You get all the advantages of being on a cruise but it’s a completely different experience, a really immersive one: you might walk into a lift and there’ll be a pianist in there playing your favourite song, or someone singing karaoke. We want people to go home with memories they’ll keep for a lifetime.”
All In The Same Boat
he communal nature of floating festivals – with guests and artists at sea together for days at a time – arguably engenders a greater sense of belonging than their landed cousins, says Diaz. “We’re in our 18th year now, and have done over 130 events,” he says, “and in that time we’ve watched something really special going on for both the fans and the artists. Over the years we’ve seen our retention rate keep growing, up to the 60–70% it is now, and fans building relationships that go to online, to on-board, to back home.” Rott says 70000Tons has a similar rate of repeat business, with fans from all over the world – roughly 50% from Europe and 50% from the rest of the world, with 75 different nationalities in total in 2019 – coming back year after year. “70000Tons is a community,” he explains. “The survivors – we call people who’ve been there a few times ‘survivors’ – in Winnipeg, for example, will meet up; a guy who visits
Metal on the high seas: 70000Tons attracts passengers from around the world
London or Munich for the first time will put the word out for other survivors, etc. They have survivors’ meetings.” It’s The Ship also has a “high return rate of loyal shipmates,” says Ameer. “The continuous support we have received has given us the confidence to grow on a global scale, and has made us certain that the demand for It’s The Ship sailings will increase year on year.”
Pushing The Boat Out
lackburn, whose festivals will sail on Royal Caribbean International (RCI)’s luxurious Anthem of the Seas next year, says modern ships are “more like floating resorts,” which adds to the appeal for festival audiences with increasingly high expectations.
Stages Musical Theatre Cruise
IQ Magazine November 2019
Rock The Boat Nostalgia is the name of the game on the Throwback vessel
“If you look at what kind of cruises there are now, there’s everything from music cruises to gay cruises to Bible cruises…” Wolfgang Rott, 70000Tons of Metal
He says: “One of our USPs is that there are people out there with expendable income who want to see live music but don’t want to crawl into a tent at the end of the night. So you can see these bands in a theatre setting, you don’t have to use a Portaloo, and you can sleep in a double bed with room service. It’s kind of glamping at sea.” “Even at Wacken now you have VIP areas, mobile homes and luxury camping,” adds Rott. “Some people say that’s counterproductive to the idea of a festival, but people go to festivals for much more than the entertainment these days. “70000Tons is not headliner driven – with our capacity [3,000] you’re limited in your budget, so we can’t afford the likes of Iron Maiden or Rammstein. People do look at who’s playing, of course, but it’s more about the whole holiday experience.” Luke Blackburn of Sixthman, which was acquired by Norwegian Cruise Line in 2012, says artists also “absolutely love” the ships. “They bring their friends, families, management teams,” he says. “And when they’re not doing engagement with fans, it’s absolutely better than any backstage in any venue anywhere!”
Though his company has been in the business for nearly 20 years, there is still plenty of room for growth in the floating festival sector, and Sixthman is becoming “more and more selective about who we add,” says Diaz. “We expect [the market] to continue to grow at the same pace, or even faster seeing as it’s so new in Europe,” he adds.
here is a lot more space for growth, especially for cruise lines who are looking towards the next generation of festivalgoers as their new target market,” adds Ameer. “Brands also realise the importance of creating impactful activations, and floating festivals are the perfect avenue for a captive audience to interact and create connections with their brand. “Festivalgoers are also becoming more jaded when it comes to landed festivals. An experienced festivalgoer who attends four or five festivals a year will be looking for the fully fledged 360 experience, which floating festivals offer…” “With a strong concept and focus on curating one-of-akind experiences on-board, we can expect floating festivals to sail to many new regions globally,” he concludes.
Revellers enjoyed the sunshine aboard Asia’s It’s The Ship cruise
IQ Magazine November 2019
Brilliant Stages provided some complex production elements for Take That at their 2019 show in Manchester Arena ÂŠ Sarah Womack
NERVES OF STEEL
Anna Grace speaks to those providing the (literal) framework for festivals and events to discuss the unique challenges and successes of the 2019 season
Business is booming for the event infrastructure and staging world, with new markets cropping up all over the world and an ever-higher number of shows each year. However, as designs become more complex, driven by the ambitions and desires of artists and promoters to stand out from the rest, stretched resources and soaring costs are pushing companies to their limits. As summer days fade from memory, IQ talks to major figures in the staging and steel world about the hectic 2019 season, the growing demand for bigger production, the cost of ensuring safety at events and the uncertain future of a post-Brexit Europe.
IQ Magazine November 2019
STAGING AND STEEL
BUSY BUT CHALLENGING Sebastian Tobie, CEO of Event Europe at global event infrastructure supplier eps, describes 2019 as a “very strong year in Europe.” Major international artists embarked on stadium tours in every country that eps serves, including – but not limited to – the UK, Germany, Italy and countries across Scandinavia. This year, the supplier has worked on tours for the likes of Rammstein, Muse and Pink, as well as providing infrastructure for all major festival and show promoters in Europe. In the United States, however, business was more pedestrian. “We had the major festivals as usual,” says Tobie, “but from an open-air touring perspective, almost everyone was in Europe.” Elsewhere, the Middle East is becoming a “stronger and stronger” market for the German company, as countries in the region attempt to secure their place on the international events map. However, navigating uncharted waters can involve unexpected obstacles. Tobie notes that local resources and supply networks are not as strong in Middle Eastern countries as in other markets. “We need to plan much more intensely and prepare to be extremely flexible,” he says, explaining that “surprises” can crop up at any time. UK-based Brilliant Stages has also enjoyed a busy 2019 so far, working on many “technically challenging” shows for artists including Take That, Spice Girls, Hugh Jackman, Shawn Mendes and Rammstein, as well as events such as
STAGING THE IMPOSSIBLE The oft-talked about experience economy continues to ensure the rude health of the live industry and the staging sector is certainly reaping the rewards of this. Yet, the growing penchant for the all-encompassing, hyper-immersive experience is also proving a sticking point for suppliers and stage manufacturers. “The need for ever-more engaging shows has produced the need for individuality,” explains Brilliant Stages’ senior project manager Alan Carradus. “This is driving the technical design to levels not seen before.” The company has had to widen supply chains and “really think outside the box” in order to keep up with the demands of the creative brief. Evolution within the industry has also led to the development of new ways of working and of new technology, in addition to considerable site investment, to satisfy both current and future demands. For Carradus, “the real explosion has been in the use of LED screens and large-format projection systems to enhance shows.” Megaforce boss Brombacher also notes the predilection for more visual shows, as well as the demand for a higher calibre of audio experience. “The weight of light and sound equipment is increasing and therefore we have to adjust the capacity for heavy loads in the roof and in other constructions,” he explains.
Reading and Leeds festivals, Wireless Festival, the Brit Awards and the BBC Radio 1 Big Weekend. The main challenge for the stage manufacturer has been “time and risk management.” The process from interpreting the brief, to setting out a plan in accordance with the technical scope, and finally working with all parties to meet deadlines, remains the most difficult aspect for the Brilliant Stages team. Figuring out the “whole picture” has proved a challenge for fellow staging company Megaforce, with CEO Michael Brombacher noting the difficulty of co-ordinating materials and staff across all projects. Both “busy and challenging,” 2019 saw Megaforce provide ambitious staging for tours by Phil Collins and Andreas Gabalier, and for festivals including Trondheim Rocks and Firenze Rocks. UK-based Star Live, the brainchild of events specialist David Walley, perhaps had the busiest year of all, albeit in a very different sense. The result of a merger of four Walleyowned businesses, Star Live officially launched on 1 August as a full-service business for the live industry. Since its inauguration, Star Live has worked on shows for Spice Girls, Pink, The Who and Stereophonics, as well as for events including British Summer Time in London’s Hyde Park and Download Festival. In addition to providing staging infrastructure, Star Live now partakes in design and brand activations, enables sponsorship and partnerships, and supplies staff and structures such as ice rinks and grandstand seating. However, the staging aspect remains the most challenging, with “late rigging information” and “ever-shorter venue rentals” causing particular headaches for the team this year.
The increasing weight and size of infrastructure has required Germany’s eps to make significant changes in recent years. “Artists want to give fans not only a concert but an experience too,” says Tobie, “and currently that has a lot to do with the size of production.” As an infrastructure supplier, this means eps has had to put a lot of work into growing its inventory and decentralising its warehouse network, facilitating easy access to different markets and venues. All this signifies additional expense but, for Tobie, human resources are the most problematic. “Finding staff is the most challenging task for all production companies,” explains Tobie. “We simply cannot grow in terms of shows if we do not have the staff.” According to the eps boss, the relatively stable employment situation in Europe means the supply of staff cannot keep up with the ever-growing demand for event infrastructure workers. For Star Live, the desire for a “unique look,” especially on the part of festival organisers, has opened up more opportunities. Parts of the company have become more involved in “creative design and customisation,” says special projects director Roger Barrett, as Star Live continues to flex the many strings to its bow. However, in a lesson learned through a combined forty years of experience in the events world, Star Live’s chief operating officer Grahame Muir stresses that the company avoids “overstretching” its resources and prioritises consistent quality across its different projects.
IQ Magazine November 2019
STAGING AND STEEL
HIDDEN COSTS The more complex and intricate nature of live shows has led to huge investment in new equipment, both in order to satisfy demands from organisers, artists and fans, and to keep up with ever-more strident health and safety requirements. “The maintenance for safety reasons is a huge hidden cost,” admits Barrett. Thousands of pieces of lifting equipment and hundreds of thousands of structural welds need to be inspected each year, in a time-consuming and costly process for the Star Live team. Star Live’s policy of “constant investment” in new equipment means the company usually spends between £500,000 (€575,000) and £1million (€1.15m) annually on equipment alone. Regulations and conformity are a large part of the operations process for Brilliant Stages, too. This year, the company has invested heavily in welding technology and a new finishing centre to provide powder coating, wet spraying and non-slip finishes, among others. Safety concerns have also been a major driver of new investment for eps, which notices a growing demand from festival organisers to divide the crowd into sections to prevent a build-up of pressure towards the stage and facilitate more effective crowd management. At the same time, the floor is getting “more and more filled with production elements,” which can create trip hazards and prevent swift evacuation of the site in case of emergency. “Our equipment needs to be stronger and lighter to ensure maximum flexibility and efficiency,” explains Tobie. “This is the only way to keep up with the demands of all parties – from artists and promoters, to ticketing and security teams.” As pressure mounts to supply increasingly sophisticated infrastructure to events, eps has brought more engineering and design work in-house. The idea is to have its own department for all supply and quality control aspects and to part-outsource to professionals for the production side of things, explains Tobie. In-house creations have been a priority for Brilliant Stages this year, with the launch of a new department, The Scenic Labs. The division works on exploring sustainable and alternative products, as well as working on the more creative aspects of staging, producing 2D and 3D sculptures, set designs, drapes, inflatable structures, floors and backdrops. In addition to individuality and safety, eco-friendliness is a top priority on many event organisers’ lists, with increasing awareness around energy consumption and the lifespan of products. To tackle this, Scenic Labs is trialling alternative heating methods, including a new kind of wood burner that is solely fuelled by waste timber and uses a secondary burner to remove particles in conjunction with new filter technologies.
Star Live helped Samsung with their vertical stage at the company’s KX venue in London © Andrew Whitton
CONTRIBUTORS Roger Barrett, Star Live; Michael Brombacher, Megaforce; Alan Carradus, Brilliant Stages; Grahame Muir, Star Live; Sebastian Tobie, eps.
STAGING AND STEEL
“Finding staff is the most challenging task for all production companies. We simply cannot grow in terms of shows if we do not have the staff.” Sebastian Tobie – Event Europe/eps eps worked on some of the spectacular sets at Boomtown Festival 2019 © James Bridle
THE BOTHERS OF BREXIT Looking to the future, the question of Brexit must be looming large on the minds of those in the staging and steel sector. A no-deal Brexit – a “death knell for touring” according to UK Music CEO Michael Dugher – would imply significant extra costs, paperwork, delays and restrictions when transporting people and equipment to and from the UK. UK-based companies would be set to face the most obstacles in a post-Brexit world. Brilliant Stages exports and receives goods from all around the world via all types of freight – land, sea and air – and sources all its raw material from Europe. The company has European-based clients and employees who regularly travel to and from the UK. A change to freedom of movement and freighting regulations, as well as an increase in tariffs, could significantly affect the company. “Any change will require us as an industry to adapt and overcome,” says the Brilliant Stages team. “Luckily, our industry is made up of individuals and companies wellversed in flexibility, challenges, and the delivery of shows despite the odds.” The movement of people, rather than equipment, is the main concern for Star Live. Brexit would restrict the number of “available EU crew” for the company. “This is affecting
our ability to attract direct employees and also affecting many of the crew supply companies we rely on,” says Muir. However, the company is confident that its work in markets outside of the European Union will continue to thrive. “We don’t see Brexit having an effect on our growing trade between the UK, China and Southeast Asia,” states Muir, referencing Star Live’s wholly owned, Shanghai-based operation. For companies based outside of the UK, it seems that Brexit is seen as no more than a minor inconvenience. “We hope tours will come to Europe without any difficulties,” says Brombacher, adding that Megaforce is not working on shows in the UK. Although eps is “pretty relaxed” about the prospect of Brexit, the company is taking measures to mitigate any potential difficulties. “We are planning to have all our materials assigned to the UK in the country by [Brexit deadline date] 31 October,” says Tobie, “so if anything happens, we don’t face additional duties and taxes on our UK equipment.” In general, though, the company is unfazed by the UK’s potential exit from the European Union. eps already works in a lot of non-member states, explains Tobie, so the team is familiar with different customs procedures. “We will just need to establish what these procedures are and then accept everything will take a day or two longer,” says Tobie, showing that the staging and steel sector is mostly unperturbed by one of the biggest and most divisive political events of our day.
IQ Magazine November 2019
Bad Bunny is one of a growing army of Latin music acts crossing over into mainstream consciousness
LATIN MUSIC’S INEXORABLE RISE
The number of A-list artists now aligning themselves with their Latino counterparts highlights the growing importance of Latin music in mainstream culture internationally. Derek Robertson reports on the genre’s long-awaited coming of age.
adison Square Garden (MSG), NYC’s legendary venue, has borne witness to just about everything over the years – debauchery, madness, and all manner of weird and wonderful stage shows. But until J Balvin rocked up this September for an eagerly anticipated sold-out show, it had never played host to enormous, inflatable, pop-art sculptures; a squadron of puffy, bouncy mascots that looked like sentient clouds; or a singer riding across the stage on a huge, yellow duck. “¡Por la cultura!” (for culture) he declared before departing, raucous applause and calls for another encore ringing in his ears. It was yet another milestone in the reggaetonero’s meteoric rise to arenas and the top of the charts, and something of a dream for the Colombian star. But then Latin music – música urbana – is enjoying a surge in popularity all over the globe and giving birth to a new generation of superstars. Bad Bunny, the Puerto Rican rapper, sold out MSG back in April; Rosalía, the Spanish singer who combines flamenco with pop, has taken Europe by storm. “I believe we are experiencing the best time for Latin music ever,” says Dody Sirena, a founding partner of DC Set Group, one of Brazil’s biggest promoters. “If you look at the 2019 RIAA [Recording Industry Association of America] mid-year report, you’ll see that Latin music is continuing to grow at a double-digit pace.” Henry Cárdenas, CEO of
IQ Magazine November 2019
the Cárdenas Marketing Network and the recently crowned Billboard Latin Power Player Executive of the Year for 2019, agrees. “Latin American music is the fastest growing genre in the world, and it has a tremendous commercial force,” he says. “We have witnessed general market artists venturing into the Latin American market, which continues to expand and pique mass appeal.” That’s an observation echoed by Nelson Albareda, CEO of Miami-based sports and entertainment operation, Loud And Live, “Latin music has quickly become the fastest growing genre in the global market,” he says. “As it pertains to Latin America, genres such as reggaeton, cumbia, bachata, and merengue dominate in major markets including Colombia, Mexico, Argentina, Peru, Chile, Ecuador, Dominican Republic, and Venezuela.” That mass appeal means that the genre is “more popular globally than ever before,” according to booking agent Jeremy Norkin of United Talent Agency. UTA is home to both longstanding Latin music stars such as Pitbull and Sean Paul, and breakout artists like Lali, and Norkin notes that, “Latin music has gained a strong presence among multigenre events that previously haven’t featured the genre. For example, Spanish-speaking talent had a significantly larger footprint at 2019’s Lollapalooza festivals in South America.”
Latin Music “Latin American music is the fastest growing genre in the world, and it has a tremendous commercial force.”
Henry Cárdenas, Cárdenas Marketing Network The absolute biggest artists remain those who came to prominence during the late nineties “Latin Explosion” household names who long ago crossed over to ubiquity; think Shakira, Jennifer Lopez, Ricky Martin, Marc Anthony, and Enrique Iglesias. But a new generation of musical talent is selling out arenas in Latin America and beyond while racking up staggering streaming numbers and video views; J Balvin and Bad Bunny are just the tip of the iceberg. Ozuna, Maluma, Luis Fonsi, Becky G, Manuel Turizo, and Sech are the most common names cited as representing the future. “They have tremendous talent,” says Cárdenas, of the latter three in particular, “and they are leading the way for a new generation of stars.” “Ozuna, Lunay, and Rosalía” are Phil Rodríguez’s choice regarding those ready to ascend to the next level internationally. But Rodríguez, founder of Move Concerts, also notes that it can vary from country to country; in Puerto Rico, for example, trap and reggaeton stars top the charts, while in the USA it’s a more balanced mix of urban acts. Albareda, whose company recently agreed a deal with Rodríguez’s promoting powerhouse Move Concerts, cites Bad Bunny, J Balvin, Pitbull, Maluma, Ozuna, Daddy Yankee, Romeo Santos, Karol G, Nicky Jam, Farruko, Becky G, and Natti Natasha as some of the genre’s biggest stars. Fernando Moya, of Buenos Aires-based Ozono Producciones cites Maluma, Sebastian Yatra and Tini as the new generation of Latin music stars, but states, “Paulo Londra, Duki, Wos, Louta and other trap artists are pushing and changing the music charts, having more listeners than pop, reggaeton, and latin music.” While Latin music has always enjoyed a certain level of popularity – Bruno Del Granado, an agent at Creative Artists Agency, points to Julio Iglesias and Gloria Estefan’s Miami Sound Machine “blowing the door wide open globally” in
the 70s and 80s – Cárdenas points to successes by “The Godfathers, Daddy Yankee and Nicky Jam” as opening the flood gates more recently. Bad Bunny, too. “You could say he is a poster child for the movement,” says Cárdenas. And then there’s Despacito (which ironically translates to “slowly” in English). The song, released in January 2017, was a phenomenon; the official video now has over 6.4 billion views on YouTube, and over 2 billion streams on Spotify. It was also the first track primarily sung in a language other than English to pass the billion mark, a game changer that signified a paradigm shift – no longer was an English-language version a necessity for artists looking for hits abroad. Despacito also underscored a change in consumer and listening habits. In this brave new world, streams outrank sales and power a model where singles, or a constant flow of new material, matter way more than the narrative and commercial build-up around traditional album campaigns. Much like in the world of rap and hip-hop (IQ85), Latin music’s rise has mirrored that of technology and social media, platforms that today’s savvy stars know how to game to their advantage. “YouTube is the platform of choice for consumers of Latin music,” argues Michel Vega, CEO and founder of Magnus Media, a global management and representative company. “If you look at the top 25 videos globally on any given week, a disproportionate amount will be Latin music.” Moya believes that radio’s local language format historically held back Latin repertoire. “Digital platforms changed the market, as the audience started to choose what to listening and not just what the radio plays,” he says. “Before, radio [stations] only played music in English and the native language of the country – they did not experiment with new varieties or styles of music/artists of different countries/ regions/cultures. Now, there are no limits. On the contrary, consumers are able to reach random options based on their tastes and have the possibility to discover new types of music, new artist, whatever they want.” Cárdenas agrees. “Streaming has changed the landscape of the industry for new artists, as these methods of distribution make for easier consumption for the listener. Look at Nicky Jam or Bad Bunny – before, it would have taken an artist years to gain that kind of traction.” And, as Norkin notes, while word of mouth has always been key, “the difference is that today there are a wide variety of platforms that allow recommendations to be communicated instantaneously and on a massive scale.” Such a shift has also seen the new breed of stars ripping up the rulebook and essentially creating new norms as they go. Traditional routes to the top are not as relevant, and artists know their worth. “Most of them are not interested in advances, 360 deals, or traditional media,” says Sirena. “They have more options than ever to become very popular as an independent through distributors or with a major.” Norkin notes that within this brave new world, some artists got their start – and continue to operate – as their own publishers, record labels, and producers. “Many of them even own their own masters,” he says. A DIY ethic is also strong. While bigger stars still tap into traditional record label systems, Del Granado believes that many new talents “are cognisant that we’re living in a DIY world and so need to do things themselves. From recording to
Colombian act, Monsieur Periné, represented by CAA’s Jeremy Norkin, played Austin City Limits this year
IQ Magazine November 2019
Latin Music shooting videos to handling social media, they have become masters of their domain.” Yet Sirena cautions against thinking there is “a perfect formula” or new fixed path; for him, the low barriers to entry mean competition can be overwhelming and force everyone to be more creative in finding new ways to keep a song alive for longer. “You really have to know your artist, music, audience, and market to set-up your communication and release plan,” he says. “Everyone is talking now about ‘business intelligence,’ and how to digest all the data that is now readily available.” Another factor behind Latin music’s rise is simple demographics, and the sheer scale of the modern Latin diaspora. As Del Granado says, there are over 450 million Spanish speakers spread across the globe, with 60 million Hispanics in the US alone; their spending power is $1.5trillion (€1.4tn) per year. “In the USA, markets where it was unheard of for Latin artists to play are now part of their normal touring route,” says Rodríguez.
“¡Por La Cultura!” T
his growth in Latin American communities the world over has fuelled popularity, which in turn has contributed to the genre’s increasing cultural relevance. During the first six months of 2019, Spanish language songs made up half of the top ten most viewed videos on YouTube, while their global touring footprint continues to expand. At festivals, too, Latin acts now feature far more prominently on lineups, while a more general ubiquity – in adverts, films, and TV
shows – points to the genre’s newfound status as a genuinely worldwide force. “There’s no doubt that Latin music is now firmly woven into the fabric of global pop culture,” says Vega. “Look at the list of superstars that have jumped on Latin tracks in the last few years: Drake, Beyoncé, Pharrell, Katy Perry, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato. The list goes on and on.” For Sirena, the stats back this up. “Three years of doubledigit growth prove how fast Latin music is reaching new audiences and influencing culture all over the globe. And I believe that we’ll see it increasingly mix with local artists and different languages.” “Latin artists have more of a voice in the musical landscape than ever before,” notes Norkin. Views and streams across multiple platforms; the global touring footprint constantly expanding; collaborations with other international superstars becoming more frequent – “the whole genre is growing exponentially,” he says. Indeed, Albareda notes that some of the Latin winners at the 2019 MTV VMA’s performed and accepted awards in Spanish instead of accommodating to a non-Spanish speaking
“In the USA, markets where it was unheard of for Latin artists to play are now part of their normal touring route.”
Phil Rodríguez, Move Concerts
J Balvin is entertaining bigger and bigger audiences with his impressive stage shows and performances
IQ Magazine November 2019
Latin Music “Latin artists have more of a voice in the musical landscape than ever before.”
audience. “In addition, the 2019 Latin AMA’s saw general market artists Ne-Yo and Jason Derulo joining Farruko and Pitbull onstage, performing in Spanish to a predominantly Spanish-speaking audience for the first time,” he adds.
Jeremy Norkin, UTA
Henry Cárdenas, Cárdenas Marketing Network; Bruno Del Granado, CAA; Jeremy Norkin, UTA; Phil Rodríguez, Move Concerts; Dody Sirena, DC Set Group; Michel Vega, Magnus Media; Fernando Moya, Ozono Producciones; Nelson Albareda, Loud And Live.
lbaredo points to the collaboration of Latin artists with mainstream acts as indicators of the genre’s impact, citing Jonas Brothers and Daddy Yankee, J Balvin/Bad Bunny and Cardi B, Pitbull and Blake Shelton, Bad Bunny and Drake, Rosalia and Billie Eilish to name but a few examples. That point is key. Phil Rodríguez points to the participation of established Anglo stars like Justin Bieber, Ed Sheeran, and Drake, as being “at best, extremely rare five years ago.” While for Michel Vega, “collaborations are the name of the game. Through this content strategy, Latin artists are able to cross-pollinate and reach massive audiences.” He points to the Billboard Hot Latin Songs chart; many of the top 25 are frequently collaborations, with some artists appearing on five or six tracks at the same time. “With the high tide, all ships rise,” he says. Such mainstream crossover success goes beyond the US of course, reaching Europe and beyond. Naturally, the Iberian Peninsula – and Spain in particular – are the biggest markets, but France, Italy, and the UK are all name-checked as being hotspots. Belgium and Switzerland, too, says Vega. But everyone IQ spoke to noted the increased demand all across the EU, particularly in terms of live. “We’re starting to see Europe as a ‘must-tour destination’,” says Del Granado. “Success here helps solidify the global base, and it’s seen as a springboard to MENA (Lebanon, Turkey, Qatar, UAE), Southeast Asia, and the Indian subcontinent.” “It speaks volumes to see this type of traffic in festivals and concerts throughout Europe,” affirms Cárdenas. “We continue to see more Latin acts on the bills of high-profile festivals, and continuous growth among the different regions of Europe, just like in the US.” It’s true; recent years have seen Latin acts triumph on summer stages all across the continent. Rosalía wowed Primavera Sound and Glastonbury this year; Bad Bunny played Sónar (among numerous others); while Maluma has several huge European shows lined up for 2020, including Amsterdam’s Ziggo Dome and Hallenstadion in Zürich.
¡Ay, Caramba! O
f course, Latin music – much like any genre – is not without controversy. There are those who decry artists who choose to sing in English in order to achieve crossover success, or who dilute more authentic musical forms with mainstream pop for the same reasons. Some feel that this is a form of betrayal – a sacrilege even – and simply reinforces the
“This is just the beginning.”
Henry Cárdenas, Cárdenas Marketing Network Rosalía’s fan base has enjoyed a major boost in Europe thanks to her ongoing ‘El Mal Querer Tour’
IQ Magazine November 2019
Latin Music “It seems to me something is wrong with the process when you miss important artists and such an important genre that’s so popular now.”
Dody Sirena, DC Set Group cultural hegemony of pop that is “acceptable” to mainstream Western listeners. Others don’t even think that an artist like Rosalía – a white European woman from Spain – should be considered “Latina” at all. “Artists singing in a local language to try and reach a local audience is not new,” says Sirena. “Many great Brazilian artists have done the same. Besides, lots of songs merge two languages.” “There’s no right or wrong here,” adds Rodríguez. “If it’s done organically and works with the song, why not?” Cárdenas goes further. “‘Crossover artist’ is a very coveted title in today’s music industry, so it’s no surprise that artists are working towards achieving mainstream status. Everyone will have their own goals and creative processes but reaching the audience is always the main target.” Besides, says Norkin, the issue is far more nuanced than many make out, and related to the emergence of new stars who no longer think in such binary terms. “There is a younger generation of emerging bicultural talent who successfully perform in both languages. Also, with regards
to mainstream pop, I don’t think Latin artists are copying general market trends. Quite the contrary actually; non-Latin artists are emulating the styles of successful Latin stars.” There was also controversy earlier this year with the Latin Grammys – an award show set up specifically to recognise outstanding achievement in the Latin music industry – and their perceived snub of urbano, reggaeton, and Latin trap. A number of the biggest names, led by Daddy Yankee, Maluma, and J Balvin, took to the press and social media to complain about what they saw as an exclusion of a significant part of Latin music culture. “This is about culture, credibility, relevance, and RESPECT,” posted Daddy Yankee on Instagram under an image of a Grammy with a giant red ‘X’ marked across the prize. The image, which contained the wording, “Sin reggaeton no hay Latin Grammy” (without reggaeton there is no Latin Grammys), was subsequently shared by J Balvin. “There are two valid sides to this story,” says Rodríguez, “but, ultimately, it will be sorted out.” “It seems to me something is wrong with the process when you miss important artists and such an important genre that’s so popular now,” adds Sirena. “But I respect the Academy, and I heard that they are already working to correct this.” Ozono Producciones’ Moya simply observes, “Globally speaking, Reggaeton was the genre that made a huge impact in Latin America and worldwide. Nowadays, Trap is developing new styles in the genre and making Latin music stronger.”
El Futuro D
espite the Grammy controversy, everyone is hugely excited by Latin music’s future, and the possibilities for further worldwide growth. “This is just the beginning,” says Cárdenas. “All the genres are consistently evolving and changing.” He points to trap’s previous status as a somewhat underground, hardly listened to niche. “But now trap and reggaeton have fused to create a whole new movement that is transcending language and breaking barriers.” “As the world evolves into a larger cultural melting pot, it’s becoming easier for Latin artists to connect to a more diverse range of audiences,” says Norkin, “and in the future, see all Spanish-language music matching the worldwide success that the Latin urban genre is currently enjoying.” Sirena believes it’s clear that Latin music is uncovering new talents and bringing new rhythms to the market while influencing lifestyle and culture like never before – it will only get stronger. Yet the genre’s flexibility and adaptability is also key to its enduring appeal, particularly among the next generation of music fans, ever hungry for the next big thing. For his part, Nelson predicts the imminent creation of Latin-specific music festivals throughout the United States, “more collaborations with North America and European artists and expansion into other genres and global markets such as Asia.” He adds, “Whereas Latin artists have recently sought out general market artists for participation and collaborations, we will see more general market artists seeking to capitalise on the Latin movement.” “Unquestionable it will continue to grow,” says Rodríguez, “and expand into other genres and mutations. It will be exciting to see what the next waves will bring.”
Magnus Media have enjoyed huge success with Marc Anthony, pictured here at Orlando’s Amway Center in January 2019
IQ Magazine November 2019
Homer’s Odyssey A former physics student, Steve Homer’s career has been on an upward trajectory since he traded protractors for pop stars. As the AEG Presents CEO celebrates 30 years in the business, it’s becoming clear that he is never going to get a proper job, writes Jon Chapple
pend more than a minute or two in the company of Steve Homer, the affable, talkative co-CEO of AEG Presents in the UK, and one thing becomes clear: the man loves live music. Thirty years after he promoted his first show, Homer’s enthusiasm for the live experience is as infectious as ever. “He’s a music fan,” says other co-CEO Toby LeightonPope, Homer’s partner in crime for the best part of 20 years. “If he doesn’t have a show on, he’ll find one to go and see. We’ll go away to LA on a business trip for a week, and after two days of lunches and dinners he’ll take off and go and see a band – he’s left many a business meal or important meeting to go see a show.” “My dad, he’s 80 now, and I remember him saying to me a few years ago, ‘You’re never going to get a proper job, are you?’” adds Homer. “And I said, ‘correct.’ He just sees it as my hobby, my passion – and it is.” Perhaps it’s that love for the art form that’s been the key to Homer’s success over the past three decades. Or maybe it’s his well-deserved reputation as a “perfect gentleman,” in
IQ Magazine November 2019
the words of agent Tobbe Lorentz, or his willingness to turn his hand to everything from The Darkness to Tinie Tempah, building lifelong relationships along the way. Either way, like Odysseus – the hero of the poem by his 8th-century-BC namesake – Homer’s story is an epic one (albeit with more Dolly Parton and fewer shipwrecks). And it begins in a market town in the Black Country, sometime in the early 1960s…
Big on campus
orn in Stourbridge in the West Midlands, Homer caught the live music bug at his first show: The Clash at Wolverhampton Civic Hall on 16 December 1978, just a few weeks after his 15th birthday. His first brush with the industry, meanwhile, came five years later, when he went
Steve Homer to Leicester University to study physics with astronomy (later, sensibly, transferring to a combined studies degree). Homer, like many of his peers, served on Leicester’s entertainment committee, and after graduating in 1986 went to work at Staffordshire’s Keele University, which was recruiting for a professional (ie non-student) entertainments manager. But it was at another university that he cut his promoting teeth. “The University of Sheffield wanted someone to come in and shape their commercial services department,” he explains. “There were three venues there, as opposed to one at Keele. The idea was to make Sheffield one of the biggestearning university campuses in the country.” And Homer delivered. By the early 90s Sheffield’s entertainment business was making well over £1million (€1.1m) profit annually, while Homer and team were running more than 60 shows a year.
The old school
s a university ents manager in the early 90s, Homer was in good company: other now-household names in similar roles at the time included Middlesex Polytechnic’s Geoff Ellis (DF Concerts); the University of Warwick’s Chris York and Manchester’s Rob Ballantine (both SJM); Newcastle University’s Daryl Robinson (AMG/ MAMA); and the University of London’s Paul Hutton (Metropolis/Crosstown Concerts). It was also his first contact with many bookers he works with to this day, as X-ray agent Adam Saunders recalls: “Steve and I first worked together when he was at Keele University, and then following that at Sheffield. We built a great working relationship through those early years, and we
“My dad, he’s 80 now, and I remember him saying to me a few years ago, ‘You’re never going to get a proper job, are you?’” carried on working closely together through his years at the Mean Fiddler, too. “We both had some incredibly pivotal years with The Darkness and the huge success through the Permission to Land album touring campaign. Steve had by that point moved to SFX (as Live Nation then was) and a second run on that tour featured multiple nights in all the UK arenas. We even included a tour warm-up show in the ‘intimate’ Brixton Academy. Great times…”
omer remained at Sheffield until 1998, by which time he’d “run [his] course” at the university amid an unwelcome evolution in his responsibilities. “Sheffield was a great place for gigs, but I’d moved further and further in that time from booking shows to the running of the commercial services side: helping to make the bars turn over more money, working with security services, and so on, Homer says. “But my main desire was that I wanted to work on live music.”
Homer with Dolly Parton, whom he has been promoting for the past 13 years
IQ Magazine November 2019
Homer joined the Mean Fiddler Music Group, Vince Power’s venue and festival empire, that year, after having turned down a job at one of the company’s venues two years prior. “I’d previously spoken to Vince Power about a job that came up at the Clapham Grand [south London],” he continues. “But I had real security within Sheffield, and people like Paul Hutton and Simon Moran advised me against it because at that time it was so off the beaten track.” “But I left it on good terms with Vince, and I phoned him up in mid-98 to say I wanted to move to London and asked if there was anything at Mean Fiddler. I came down and he offered me the job of running Mean Fiddler’s touring department.” After an “Okay but not great” start promoting around 30 shows that autumn, including long-time Power clients Dr John and Republica, Homer fast put his own stamp on Mean Fiddler, famously promoting early shows by Eminem and Queens of the Stone Age while imbuing its touring division with the focus on talent development that had characterised his career to date. He also began to book acts for Mean Fiddler’s Homeland and Reading Festivals, working closely with current Festival Republic MD Melvin Benn, as well as artists including Kylie Minogue, Carl Cox and Moloko for the Renaissance club in Ibiza. At Mean Fiddler, Homer says, he learnt for the first time “that it really matters which company you work for. […] Some agencies loved Mean Fiddler but many others didn’t. It was the first time in my career that I’d been seen as part of that corporate umbrella.” Other high-profile Mean Fiddler-era signings included pop-punk band Bowling for Soup – who Homer saw at South by Southwest and brought over for Reading and the new Leeds Festival – and All Seeing I, the Sheffield supergroup featuring Jarvis Cocker and Phil Oakey who scored a hit in 1999 with Walk Like a Panther. Homer’s tenure at Mean Fiddler lasted just two years, and he admits that he didn’t leave the company on “great terms” with Power, who had been “very supportive” of his career to that point and perhaps felt cheated when his rising star was lured away.
Birth of a Nation
t was at this time that Homer caught the attention of Stuart Galbraith of SFX Entertainment, which had bought Midland Concert Promotions (MCP, where Galbraith was director and partner) in 1999. “Stuart approached me and asked if I’d be interested in coming to work for SFX, which was at that time based in Grosvenor Square in Mayfair,” recalls Homer, who started the day SFX became Clear Channel Entertainment in mid-2001. “MCP were well respected in the industry, and I decided to take the plunge. “I remember sitting behind this big desk in these very posh surroundings and comparing it to Mean Fiddler, where we worked at the Astoria in this tiny, freezing room with broken windows, all wearing gloves…”
At the Beach Boys 50th anniversary show at Wembley Arena; with country stars Lindsay Ell and Chris Young; with Fozzie Bear (right) ahead of ‘The Muppets Take The O2’
IQ Magazine November 2019
“He’s left many a business meal or important meeting to go see a show.”
fiercely independent agents still reluctant to place their acts with Rapino and co. “No one really liked Clear Channel back then,” Homer remembers. “There was still a bit of a stigma against what was seen as a very corporate operation – the likes of SJM and Metropolis were the promoters to go to, and they got the cool inventory and really strong acts.”
-Toby Leighton-Pope The company that became Live Nation was, in those early days, a “weird collection” of personalities, according to Homer, with Galbraith and the ex-MCP team working alongside Barry Clayman and Phil Bowdery “promoting middle-of-the-road artists” and a young marketing team brought in from the US, led by a chap called Michael Rapino. Working under Galbraith and MCP co-founder Tim Parsons, Homer “had to start from scratch again” roster-wise but quickly made his mark. “The first act I really nailed [at Clear Channel] was The Hives, who were working with Tobbe Lorentz [then of Copenhagen-based Motor Agency, and later the Agency Group/UTA] and Ian Johnson, who’s now the manager of Enter Shikari. That was when my friendship with Ian started.” The early Clear Channel years also saw Homer promoting shows at his former office, the now-bulldozed London Astoria – despite being banned from the premises, necessitating his sneaking in the back for the December 2001 Kerrang! K-Fest. “We did a big tour with The Hives the following year, then things just started to move,” he adds. Despite these early successes, Clear Channel/Live Nation at the turn of the millennium (as well as the wider live music industry), was a very different beast to today, with many
“The best promoter I know”
n November 2000, Toby Leighton-Pope, a 25-year-old former booking assistant with his father Carl’s LeightonPope Organisation, arrived at Clear Channel HQ to start work as a junior promoter. “He sat next to me, on my left,” recalls Homer, “and the rest, as they say, is history…” What followed is one of the concert business’s most enduring bromances – an enduring professional and personal partnership that would culminate in 2015 with the pair being jointly named co-CEOs of AEG Presents in Europe. (More on that later.) “I still sit on his left,” jokes Leighton-Pope, who says their relationship initially consisted of “me grabbing hold of his leg and him dragging me around a lot!” “Steve’s always been a booker – I remember I was desperately trying to get one show to book while Steve was getting loads of bookings in,” he recalls. “His wall was full of posters and mine was bare. “He knew all these bands and their agents, so every day at one o’clock we’d go and get lunch (which we still do) and I’d use that as an excuse to get to know him and learn from him.
Meet the Homers: Steve with daughters, Phoebe and Zoe, and wife Lucy
IQ Magazine November 2019
Steve Homer Enjoying the 2013 Silver Clef Awards with Emma Bownes, Laurie Pegg and Paul Newman
“Every Monday, I used to ask him what he was doing that week, and then invite myself to all these shows with him. He’d be doing rock stuff like The Hives, Bowling for Soup, Hundred Reasons, and then he’d do some bizarre thing like Brian Wilson, and you’d be bouncing around following him. I followed him around for about a year, I think…” “We did everything together,” Leighton-Pope continues. “I was single at the time and Steve had just gone through a divorce, so we’d be out every night together, phoning each other at the weekends to see what the other was doing.” When Homer remarried, therefore, there was only one choice for the best man. “At the time, no one really liked Clear Channel,” says Leighton-Pope. “It was really hard but it helped form a bond – it was us together against the world. “One afternoon, drinking beer at South by Southwest, he told me was getting married and asked me to be his best man.” The stag do, inevitably, involved live music: the stag party spent the weekend at Scottish festival T in the Park, which had been acquired by Live Nation’s LN-Gaiety Investments in 2008. Explains Leighton-Pope: “We hired a car to drive there from the airport. We had backstage passes but not a car pass but we blagged our way in anyway and just parked up backstage. It was a great night – we got drunk, watched Rage Against the Machine, and then got a car to take us back to the hotel. “The next morning, Steve woke up and wanted to get there to see Bowling for Soup. We got to the site and looked out for the car but it wasn’t there. Steve was tapping his foot, saying he couldn’t miss the first song, so he left me with the bags. “There was a security guard right next to us, so I said to him, ‘Have you seen the car that was parked over there?’ He picked up his walkie-talkie and said, ‘I’ve found the guy who owns the car.’ “Turns out our car had blocked load-out. So they had to stop load-out and get a forklift truck to pick our car up and take it off-site. Steve was on stage watching the band and I
“He’s always banking on promoting the band up, and has this ability to sell more tickets than the act is worth.”
-Toby Leighton-Pope was stuck there with all the bags and this guy on the radio saying, ‘Yes, we’ve found him. His name’s Toby LeightonPope, he works for Live Nation…’ It was just horrible.” The pair ultimately became senior vice-presidents at Live Nation (as Clear Channel was rebranded in 2005), with Homer promoting an eclectic roster of rock bands (Deep Purple, Alice Cooper, The Darkness), heritage acts (The
Celebrating Spinal Tap’s triumphant visit to Wembley Arena
IQ Magazine November 2019
Steve Homer Everly Brothers, Dolly Parton) and urban artists and events (Tinie Tempah, Rihanna, Drake, Wireless Festival). “One of the pivotal ones was Dolly Parton,” Homer says. “That was a really interesting situation. She’d been with [ITB’s] Barry Dickins for years, doing shows at a Hammersmith level. (The Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith, London, is around 5,000-capacity standing.) When Danny Nozell was brought in as her manager, he signed her with Neil Warnock at The Agency Group, who in turn came to me, as we had a good relationship from working with Neil’s historic rock acts. “He said to me, ‘What do you think this is worth?’ And I went, ‘She’s a legend, she’s iconic; it’s got to be an arena tour.’ And he said, ‘That’s exactly the right thinking. I want you to do this with us.’” “So, in 2006, we did our first tour with Dolly. We put the arena tour on sale, did loads of promo stuff, flew [DJ] Kid Jensen and all these people from Radio 2 over to Nashville. I remember the day of the Friday on-sale Tom Jones was playing at Wembley Arena, and I got a call from Barry Clayman, who was promoting the show, who said he’d just seen Barry Dickins walk past a tour poster and say, ‘That’ll never work here – she’s only worth a Hammersmith.’ To which Barry [Clayman] retorted, ‘She’s just added an extra night.’ “We sold over 100,000 tickets for that tour. This is when she was a casino act in the US, you know – worth very little anywhere else in the world. So it was a great leap of faith but one that could be done because you put her on TV and she just shines.” “He’s the best promoter I know,” says Leighton-Pope. “He’s always banking on promoting the band up, and has this ability to sell more tickets than the act is worth. “He always comes out of the left field and does amazing shows, from getting ELO to reform and doing the business they did, to Brian Wilson, to the Bananarama tour last year – no one saw them doing that kind of business, more than they’ve ever done in their life. And he does this over and over again.” Perhaps Homer’s greatest legacy at Live Nation is Wireless – now firmly established as the UK’s most successful hiphop and urban music festival – for which he was the main booker. “Wireless was Stuart [Galbraith] taking the bull by the horns with Hyde Park, in terms of what we could do there,” he explains. “MCP’s strength was in heritage rock, and at the beginning we didn’t do a lot of contemporary stuff with Clear Channel.” Wireless, then, was Clear Channel’s “first swing” at a contemporary music festival, says Homer, with “interesting” early bills featuring the likes of New Order paired with Moby; Basement Jaxx and LCD Soundsystem; Kasabian and Pete Doherty; Keane and James Blunt. “It was a few years later when the first urban act played,” he continues. “We did Blur’s two reformation shows in Hyde Park in 2009 – which were great, a real ‘moment’ – but that meant Wireless had to go down to two days [from four]. Saturday was headlined by Basement Jaxx again; on Sunday I booked Kanye West, and the second stage was all UK urban music, with the likes of Tinie Tempah, N-Dubz and Chipmunk, which set the template for what was to come. “That’s when Wireless starting turning into what it is now. We did Kanye again, Jay-Z, Drake, Rihanna… all of a sudden it became this beast. The last year we were in Hyde Park [in 2012], we did 80,000 tickets with Drake, Nicki Minaj and The Weeknd.
“Along with Blur, Wireless was probably the thing I was most proud of at Live Nation. It became a rite of passage for bands to play it, and it led to great touring relationships, too: we got to do multiple arenas with Tinie, for example, and Dumi [Oburota, Tinie Tempah’s manager] is still one of my close friends.”
“Do less better”
oth Homer and Leighton-Pope’s tenure at Live Nation came to an end in 2015, when the pair were put on nine-month gardening leave ahead of a step up to lead rival promoter AEG Presents. “Live Nation turned a corner while I was there, in terms of being seen as the non-friendly corporate monster, to being about the people that have relationships with managers, agents and artists,” says Homer. “But it almost moved through that whole corporate thing, out the other side and then became a bit too much like a sausage factory for me. It got further away from a hands-on approach with artists to become more like a cookiecutter mentality. That’s my interpretation of what happened.
Spending time with Tinie Tempah at The Brits; marking another successful tour with Alice Cooper and his legendary manager Shep Gordon
IQ Magazine November 2019
“Ultimately, as a promoter, you share in reflected glory. Everyone goes, ‘That was amazing, you sold that tour out!’, but you didn’t – the artist did.” “[The former] is what I like most: personal contact, building relationships that can turn into friendships… There’s a common interest there, as you’re part of a team that’s part of an artist’s journey. I felt [at LN] at the time that it was moving a bit further away from that.” After spending much of 2016 “learning how to play golf badly,” Homer and Leighton-Pope started as AEG Presents’ CEOs that September. “It was a company run by people we had a lot of respect and time for,” Homer says of their decision to jump ship. “We’d known people like [AEG Presents’ global CEO] Jay Marciano, [Global Touring president] Gary Gersh, and [ex-AEG Europe president] Tom Miserendino for quite a while – myself and Toby were two of the biggest customers of AEG at The O2; I did 28 shows there in 2012 – and had a good working relationship with the people involved in what was then AEG Live, too.”
“The thing that was immediately very noticeable is that the attention to detail in event delivery is far greater with AEG than Live Nation,” Homer says of his initial impressions of his new company. Though they’ve since doubled the number of shows being routed out of AEG Europe’s King Street head office, compared to Live Nation, AEG Presents is effectively a boutique operation, he explains. “No disrespect to Live Nation, but when you’re dealing with that volume [of shows] there’s only so much energy and effort you can put in. But when you’re dealing with quality over quantity, it’s a whole different ballpark.” “Our Global Touring team have a mantra, ‘do less better.’ That’s definitely something we believe in,” he adds. Agent Emma Banks, co-head and founder of CAA’s London office, says of the Homer-led AEG Presents: “He and Toby have done a great job of really getting AEG established as a strong UK promoting company with a great team of people around them and a strong work ethic.” High points to date include continued success with British Summer Time Hyde Park; the launch of All Points East in Victoria Park; Eden Sessions, the company’s new JV with the Eden Project; and shows by the likes of Bananarama, Steps and David Byrne (with whom working was a “pinch-me moment” for Homer, and in his top three shows of all time). Homer also identifies Nick Cave at All Points East in 2018, and Barbra Streisand’s performance at BST this summer (her second-ever outdoor show, after hating her first, at the Hollywood Bowl, so much) as particular highlights.
s for the next chapter in Homer’s 30-year live music odyssey, Leighton-Pope reckons “he’ll keep working forever because he loves it so much. He’s 14 or 15 years older than me, so when I want to retire he’ll be in his 80s.” The man himself isn’t so sure – saying he’ll likely keep going as long as he’s having fun. “It’s a difficult one, as I still enjoy it a lot,” he explains. “I love the experience of live shows. So I don’t see an imminent change in my situation.” “I’ve still got a lot to learn in this role, and I enjoy the experience of learning. It’s still something I relish the opportunity to do; I’m not closed-minded enough to think I know it all,” he adds. “And I enjoy working with new people – whether it’s new agents or managers, people inside or outside the company – I enjoy that. So I guess I’ll keep doing it as long as I enjoy it…” If and when he does eventually hang up his promoting hat, Homer says he wants his legacy to be his passion for live music, undimmed after more than a quarter of a century in the business. “I’d also like to think I’ve earned the confidence of the people I work with, and that I deal with them in a fair and honest and detailed manner,” he continues. (That he has, and does, is borne out by the testimonials collected by IQ from
colleagues across the industry.) “I’m not looking for anything spectacular: If people say, ‘He’s a trustworthy promoter that will do a really good job,’ that’s good enough for me. “Ultimately, as a promoter, you share in reflected glory. Everyone goes, ‘That was amazing, you sold that tour out!’ but you didn’t – the artist did,” he concludes, with typical Homeric modesty. “You just facilitated it. “With a big stadium show, for example, it’s an amazing feeling to know you played a part in it. But no one buys a ticket to a show because of who’s promoting it.” Maybe not. But if they did, you can’t help but feel that Steve Homer would be a solid box-office draw…
Dropping in backstage to see Blondie
Testimonials A nice guy. Steve has done the last couple of runs with Lenny Kravitz in the UK, including a show at The O2 earlier this year. He’s done a good job with Lenny, and he’s always been there for him. Rod MacSween, ITB Steve is a great promoter to work with; he has great vision and loves a long-plan strategy for artist development. He is attentive, hard working and goes beyond the call of duty to give the artist the platforms needed to get to that next level. He has an active hand in pretty much all my UK tours, and is a first port of call for solid and realistic feedback. Steve is a class act, a gent, a friend, and above all else, a professional. Adam Saunders, X-ray Touring Marking another memorable gig with Brian Setzer
Honest, on the ball, measured, enthusiastic, respectful. Steve has been a creative and innovative collaborator with Direct Management for the past two-plus decades, always with an artist-first approach. A true partner. I am pleased to pay tribute to this fine gentleman. Steve Jensen, manager – Katy Perry I’ve known Steve for years, as client and colleague, as we’ve moved around. We’ve also worked together at Live Nation and at AEG, with Steve promoting masses of shows across a wide variety of genres – which speaks volumes about his abilities. Whether it’s Spinal Tap or Steps, Alice Cooper or the Beach Boys, Steve has the knack of knowing where to place a show to work best for the act. And thankfully for us, many of those have been at Wembley. He’s never irritated me… but when we were at Live Nation and he often used to play pool with Toby too near to my office, he came close! John Drury, SSE Arena Wembley
having the faith in us back then, Steve! A few years later, I literally bumped into him at a Mean Fiddler festival where we were supplying the audio, and ever since our paths have crossed on a regular basis, as his career has gone from strength to strength at Live Nation and latterly with AEG. It’s always a pleasure to bump into him, with his disarming grin and welcome greeting. Long may it continue! John Penn, SSE Audio Group I’ve worked with Steve since the beginning of time. He’s always been a straight-talking, no-nonsense man who makes things happen, so it’s always a pleasure to work with him. From back in the day at the Fiddler, through the Live Nation years and into his role at AEG, Steve is ever the linchpin of any operation he works with. Never letting the ‘tiaras and tantrums’ of our business dent his dry sense of humour, Steve is the rarest of men: a major player in the live business and a great human being. Peter Elliott, Primary Talent International
We’ve loved working with Steve Homer on our recent tours. Steve has a true understanding of our fan base. His enthusiasm for what we stand for as a band is a huge factor in the success of our live business. We hope to continue working with him for many years to come. Steps I first met Steve in 1989 when he was the entertainment manager at Sheffield University Students’ Union (SUSU). He was looking for a new PA system for the Octagon Theatre, and he very sensibly decided that SSE were the people to supply it. This was the start of a long-standing relationship with SUSU – to this day we still supply their technical needs for their various venues – so thank you for With Dolly Parton, manager Danny Nozell and publicist extraordinaire Steve Guest
IQ Magazine November 2019
Testimonials On behalf of the team at the Brighton Centre, many of whom have worked with Steve for far longer than they’d like to admit, I’d like to wish him a huge congratulations on his 30 years in the industry. Steve is an absolute pleasure to work with, always fair, and has bought a massive and varied programme of amazing shows to Brighton over the years – a true testament to his hard work and dedication to the industry. We’re looking forward to welcoming many more in the future. (Thanks for bringing Quo back – it hadn’t felt like Christmas without them!) Rebecca Esteves, Brighton Centre Steve has helped shape the landscape of modern country music touring in Europe with C2C and the extensive network he has created. He has been instrumental in the overseas touring careers of our clients Brad Paisley and Chris Young, along with many others, and continues to be an invaluable partner and a champion of the genre across the globe. Rob Beckham, The AMG A guy who’s totally sincere, honest, passionate, creative and unflinchingly honours his word and commitments… and is a promoter? No way! But that’s all Steve Homer. As solid as they come. Congrats on 30 years, Steve! Love from Dave and everyone at Surfdog/DKM. Dave Kaplan, manager – Stray Cats
I’ve been working with Steve since 2001 or 2002, and he’s always a perfect gentleman. Perhaps that’s why we’ve never really had any arguments during all these years – actually very strange, come to think of it… Tobbe Lorentz, UTA Steve is a great guy. Always time for a chat and never too busy to help someone that needs a foot on the ladder. As well as working with him as a promoter, we also work together as committee members on the Nordoff Robbins Silver Clef lunch, and he is a great help to the organisation. Finding time for charitable work is never easy, but Steve does it with a smile on his face. The music industry needs more Steve Homers! Emma Banks, CAA In this business you have to constantly evolve and move with the times. Throughout the years working and knowing Steve, I have always felt that he had a real depth and breadth to the acts he promotes, and the festivals he has booked, that I have always trusted and respected. He always seems to have a very detailed, almost encyclopaedic knowledge of the live music world and what’s going on and where it’s going. I mean… which other promoter in the world has promoted Nicki Minaj and Chas & Dave? Nick Matthews, Paradigm
We have worked closely with Steve on our last two tours. He’s been hugely supportive and a pleasure to work with. It was great to see him giggling from the sound desk during the Q&A session during our recent An Evening With tour.What a doll! Sara Dallin & Keren Woodward, Bananarama Congratulations, Steve, on your 30 years in the music business. You are a valued asset to this game. Thank you for your support. You were the first person to support Tinie and myself and we’ll always be grateful for that. You were the first person to put us on a festival, you were the first person to tour with us, and you were the first person that we did our two arena show tours with. Well done on 30 years, and here’s to many, many more years of hard work and amazing contributions to the music industry. Good luck and congratulations once again, from Dumi, Tinie and the Disturbing London team. Dumi Oburota, manager – Tinie Tempah Steve Homer is a true promoter who has the passion and the perspective to promote all his shows with that special touch. A magic touch! Barrie Marshall, Marshall Arts
IQ Magazine November 2019
Spain Map Key
Agent Promoter Agent/Promotor Venue Festival
A Coruña Coliseum Pelicano
Aranda de Duero Sonorama
Estraperlo Teatro Principal
Santa Gertrudis (Ibiza) Get Your Acts Together
Poble Espanyol Razzmatazz RockSound Sala Apolo Sidecar Vol BBF Festival Be Prog! Cruïlla Barcelona Festival Pedralbes Guitar BCN Miles Away Primavera Sound Sónar Voll-Damm International Jazz
Agents 4 Music Bacana/It´s Alive Cloudy Dog International Jazz Productions Nova Touring International Sones We Are Owls Whisper Not Agency Advanced Music Barcelona Promocio Cap-Cap Produccions Cooncert Doctor Music Enter Group First Golden Ticket Gamerco/Live Nation Live Nation Posto Nove Producciones Animadas Rock Music Concert Promotions Roger Cowell The Project Music Company Troubleshooter Concert Studio Flamenco Talent Plastic Produccions Ateneu Popular 9 Barris Barts Bikini Boveda Camp Nou LA 2 La Nau Nitsa Club Palau Sant Jordi
Festival Inter. De Benicassim Rototom Sunsplash Reggae
Betera World Park International Bilbao Radiation Tours
CF Eventos BEC Bilbao Arena Bizkaia Arena Kafé Antzoki Santana 27 Stage Live BBK BIME
Caldas de Reis Portamerica
Córdoba Riff Producciones Eutopia I Like Festival
San Sebastián Get In
Erandio Producciones Serrano
Auditorio De Ferrol
Rock The Coast
Gijón Bring The Noise
Acapulco Albeñiz Teatro Laboral Resurrection Tsumami Xixon
Rootsound Music Totalisimo Industrial Copera Directos al Sur Granada Sound
Las Palmas De Gran Canaria Colorado Producciones Madrid
Berin Iglesias Art CityZen Music Frontline Experience Hinode Entertainment Live Nation Mercury Wheels @ Live Nation MFI- Mad Hat Pasion Turca Planet Events Prisa Eventos RLM Sold Out Cosmic Producciones Get In LetsGo Sonde3 Auditorio Nacional De Música But Caracol Circo Price Cool Copérnico Costello El Sol
Independence Invernadero Joy Eslava Khitai La Nueva Cubierta La Riviera Moby Dick Mon Nazca Palacio Vistalegre Riviera Sala Caracol Sala 0 Shoko Teatro Kapital Teatro Lara Teatro Nuevo Apolo WiZink Wurlitzer Dcode Garage Sound Heart of Gold Mad Cool Madrid Salvaje Noches del Botánico Rock in Rio SOS / Legal Music Tomavistas
Kursaal San Sebastian Jazz
Sant Feliu de Guíxols Festival de la Porta Ferrada
Sant Pere de Ribes InMusic/Showatac
Escenario Santander Santander Music
Santiago de Compostela
Capitol O Son de Camino
Flamenco Agency Custom
Valencia Music Community Serious Fan Music Tebar Asociados / Jazzspain 98
Palacio de Deportes Paris
Marbella PC Productions
Auditorio De Vigo
Vilanova i La Geltru Vida
Miranda de Ebro Ebrovision
Murcia Madness Live!
Fresquito Jazz La Bikina La Rambleta Loco Club Repvblicca Medusa Sunbeach
Ayuntamiento De Murcia Garaje Beat Metal Madness Warm Up
Palma Arena Ground Control
Fernando Buesa Arena Azkena Rock Vitoria-Gasteiz Jazz
Zaragoza Just Life Music
Mundial Sport Rock & Blues Teatro Las Esquina
Pamplona Totem Zentral
Pozuelo de Alarcón Okapi Producciones
San Antonio Sonica Ibiza
¡España, por favor! In recent memory, record youth unemployment and a deep and prolonged recession held Spain back from realising its true potential in live entertainment terms. But now the country is thriving and public demand for shows and festivals is breaking records year on year. Adam Woods reports. This summer’s Primavera Sound festival in Barcelona, subtitled “The New Normal,” made two important points. First, that it’s perfectly feasible for a mainstream festival to create a bill that’s at least 50% female; and second, that reggaeton, hip-hop, R&B, pop and flamenco-flavoured urbano can all successfully coexist with traditional indie-rock festival favourites.
“This year felt different in general,” says Primavera booker Pau Cristòful, one of IQ’s New Bosses 2019. “Everyone felt represented somehow onstage, people felt really respectful and grateful. It was a special year – not only the gender balance but also in terms of getting new genres to play. It is better to have something challenging than something that is boring.”
IQ Magazine November 2019
Colombian star J Balvin was the festival’s first ever Latin urban headliner, appearing on the Saturday night and prompting a distinct pre-event backlash from defenders of the old indie ways. “There’s a stigma against reggaeton in Spain still – people are always complaining about it,” says Cristòful. But the day became Primavera’s busiest ever, drawing a crowd of 63,000. Primavera Sound 2019 was a game-changing success, and the positive mood is shared across the Spanish live business. Festivals are booming, the world-conquering urban music that passed Spain by for years is finally making an impression, and Spain even has its own global superstar in Catalonia’s Rosalía. The market has posted five consecutive years of growth, culminating in a record-breaking 2018 in which the business
IQ Magazine November 2019
MURCIA Canary Islands
saw an annual turnover of €334million – a 24% increase on 2017 – powered by an incredible summer featuring stadium shows from Guns N’ Roses and Iron Maiden, and tours from Luis Miguel, Shakira and Alejandro Fernández. There are those who say this year may yet prove to be better still. “We’ll have a better perspective at the end of the year, but for now we can say live is the fastest-growing sector within the music industry,” says Albert Salmeron of Producciones Animadas, who is also president of Spanish promoters’ association APM. “We’ve seen it in the last few years and it’s unstoppable.” Memories of the Great Spanish Depression of 2008-14 – and of a particularly disastrous 2012, when a relatively short-lived 21% cultural tax, on top of the 10% PRS charge, helped to wipe 27.5% off the value of the Spanish live industry at a stroke – ensure that Spanish promoters enjoy the good times all the more.
“Every show I see in a stadium, I wonder why I came, so I quit doing those in 1989.” Julio Martí - Serious Fan Music “Spain had its financial crisis, and now it is as strong as it has ever been,” says Barnaby Harrod, director of the Madridbased, Live Nation-owned promoter Mercury Wheels. There are several reasons for the ongoing upward shift, Salmeron suggests, including a broader transformation of the nation’s leisure habits. “People are now more focused on the search for unique experiences,” he says. “At the same time, we have extraordinary weather, which makes Spain an attractive country for artists and fans, especially in the festival environment.” The cultural tax was cut back down to 10% in 2017, mending much of the damage it had caused. Festivals, particularly those with international appeal, have been identified as major wealth creators and receive substantial local government support. It is a fact that Spain missed out on the formative years of the live business – it was still a dictatorship under General Franco until 1975 – but on current form it appears to have found its rhythm (providing we conveniently set aside the impassioned breakaway attempts by Catalonia, which rumble on). Industrious indies abound, and in addition to Live Nation – which has numerous promoting irons in the fire, and whose Ticketmaster division is the leading ticketer in Spain – global players in the Spanish market include Eventim, which owns Entradas.com, and Ticketea owner Eventbrite.
Promoters Spain has a broad selection of both hardworking indies and heavyweight corporates. The former camp includes Doctor Music, Concert Studio, Producciones Animadas, Primavera, Houston Party and The Project in Barcelona; RLM and Ground Control in Madrid; Valencia’s Serious Fan Music; Last Tour in Bilbao; and Murcia rock specialist Madness Live!. In the latter camp is Live Nation, of course, which, since February, also holds a majority stake in leading Latin promoter Planet Events, which retains Spanish-language media group Prisa as a minority shareholder. As well as its joint venture with Mercury Wheels, Live Nation operates a strategic partnership with Andalusian promoter Riff Producciones aimed at growing Spanish acts in overseas markets. And with offices in Barcelona and Madrid, Live Nation has also done good promoting business of its own in 2019. “The most satisfying projects and shows have been the biggest show in Spain ever for Metallica last May, at the Valdebebas site in Madrid,” says Live Nation Spain president Robert Grima. “Also our stadium shows with Muse and Bruno Mars; the consolidation of both the Mad Cool and Dcode festivals; plus our positioning in the market as promoters for top Spanish artists like Fito and Fitipaldis, Manuel Carrasco and Malu.” Grima reinforces the message of good times in the Spanish market. “It is for us,” he says. “There is a strong growth projection with both local and international talent and people seem more eager than ever to see live shows.” Storied independent Doctor Music had a thumping disappointment this year in its thwarted attempt to resurrect its highly influential festival of the same name (of which more in a minute) but otherwise, founder and CEO Neo Sala is philosophical. “2019 has generally been a good year, with major sell-out shows by Rammstein, Alejandro Sanz and Mark Knopfler,” says Sala. “I think the live market in Spain is better than ever, with plenty of shows and festivals doing really well.” Another veteran, Serious Fan’s Julio Martí, reckons these are some of the best times he has had in 40 years. “To me, from 2011 to when it started to come back in 2015 – those years were the worst ever. ’17, ’18, ’19: excellent,” he says. A jazz, blues and rock promoter who has brought Miles Davis, BB King and Prince to Spain, Martí attributes his successes to his strong principles. “I have always done things that I love. I am a passionate guy. I don’t like anything bigger than a sport palace or a bullring. Every show I see in a stadium, I wonder why I came, so I quit doing those in 1989. “2018 was the best year for the live industry in Spain, and I hope 2019 will be even better,” he adds. “The best thing is if nobody gets over-excited and everyone keeps professional and keeps on doing work that can be sustained over time.” As in many other countries, the globalisation of the business has turned the screws on independents, and rock promoter Juan Antonio Muñoz of Madness Live!, which has promoted acts including Iron Maiden, Alter Bridge and Steven Wilson, attests to the challenge. “It is very difficult when [Live Nation] are involved in everything in the business, from ticketing to venues to worldwide tours,” he says. “We should probably be getting worried, but we are working hard and doing well, and that is the only way to survive.”
Shakira’s ‘El Dorado’ tour is one of many to visit the WiZink Center in the past couple of years
IQ Magazine November 2019
Spain Barcelona indie Houston Party also reports good times in 2019. “It’s been a really good year – very busy and with even more shows promoted than 2018, which was a very busy year for us as well,” says the promoter’s Miguel Martínez.
Houston Party Music promoted Daughters at Sala 0 in Madrid in October © Borja Bernardez
Geography and artist fees For all the indications of good health, no market is without its challenges, and Spain certainly has its share. Secondary ticketing has not yet been brought to heel, and fiestas in local towns and free shows by beer brands have all done their bit to dampen demand for full-price tickets, contributing to a cultural expectation – reported by several promoters – that music and concerts should cost nothing. Meanwhile, in a somewhat atomised industry with a large number of festivals, local competition for acts helps to drive fees up to uncomfortable levels. “Of course, artist fees are crazy,” says Cristòful. “Artists who just have a demo out there are asking for crazy, crazy fees – the kind of money you would have paid two years ago for a mediumsized, established band that has been playing for 20 years.” It also bears noting that the country’s geographical position at the bottom of Europe was not necessarily designed with tour routing in mind. Even the primary cities can sometimes fall off schedules as a result of Spain’s position at the southern edge of Europe.
Barcelona routes better than Madrid does, thanks to its proximity to France, but Madrid, stranded in the middle of the country of which it is the most populous city, doesn’t lend itself to quick getaways. Research carried out by an enterprising student in Barcelona for her baccalaureate found that, of Billboard’s 50 most successful touring artists of the past ten years, only 34 had played Spain in that time, compared to the 45 that have played France. The researcher, Alexa Davyd-Whitrick identified a series of possible reasons for the discrepancy, including the period of high taxation and the prevalence of free events, but the geographical cul-de-sac seems the hardest to work around. Promoters tend to agree. “Spain is geographically badly placed,” says Harrod. “After Portugal, there’s nowhere else to go from here. Bands enjoy playing here a lot, and the crowds are very responsive, so that’s a plus. I have had agents calling me saying ‘the band wants to play Spain,’ and you can feel the agent doesn’t want them to.” Barcelona-based booking and management agency Whisper Not works with a small stable of international artists, and founder Laurène Chanson says attitudes to wider Spanish exploration vary between acts. “It depends on the strategy of the project,” she says. “Sometimes they just want to focus on Barcelona and Madrid, headline shows. Sometimes they have time and they think there is potential to explore other cities. It’s a conversation we have at the beginning with the management. Sometimes they just want some festival dates in the summer and we will focus on that. “We work a lot in the north of Spain, where there are many nice festivals,” says Chanson. “In student cities like Seville and Valencia, they also have a good time, but they have more local artists.”
“I have had agents calling me saying ‘the band wants to play Spain,’ and you can feel the agent doesn’t want them to.” Barnaby Harrod - Mercury Wheels
IQ Magazine November 2019
Spain Miguel Martínez believes Spain’s celebrated festivals and renowned key cities have helped to obscure a greater strength in depth. “What people should know is that Spain is more than Madrid and Barcelona in terms of touring,” he says. “And also, that touring in Spain is more than the big springtime/ summertime festivals that everybody knows. There are a lot more options, with hard-ticket shows, events and other festivals throughout the whole year in our vast geography.” The fact remains, however, that not every city can offer up the kind of audiences the two major cities can. “For international bands, not always,” confirms Joan Vich Montaner of promoter and management agency Ground Control. “Secondary markets, almost by default, work well at weekends. There’s a lot of places to play, but it has to be on weekends.” Spain’s notorious youth unemployment doesn’t help to shift tickets. It went as high as 57.9% in 2014 for 15-25-yearolds not in education, and now stands at 31.7% [source: Statista], which is still the highest in Europe after Greece. This weakening of spending power of the young population has had an impact on live music, particularly outside the main cities. “Ticket prices in Spain can’t go as high as in other countries,” says Daniel Molina of Just Life Music, which has promoted acts including Imelda May and Morcheeba. “We have only two cities where the ticketing could be a little bit more expensive. In other cities, you have to go much lower. This is why some international tours don’t go to Spain – probably because there is no promoter who pays the fees.” Valencia, Bilbao and Seville are the most robust cities after the main two. “That’s because, in those cities, there’s a couple of venues or promoters that have made the effort to build a crowd,” says Montaner. “If there isn’t a venue that is trying to build something, it is very hard to play the secondary cities here.” Part of Mercury Wheels’ approach to the problem is a platform called New Blood, which aims to bring new international artists to Spanish cities every month in an attempt to rapidly put a face to a breaking digital name and build followings for new acts.
“It’s not always easy making the numbers stack up, but the response we have had has been really, really positive,” says Mercury Wheels promoter Will Anderson. “In terms of building a career, if you don’t get into a market early on, that can be a make or break as to whether you ever break into that market.”
Festivals Spain has an enviable array of festivals with international profile, including Primavera Sound and Sónar in Barcelona, Bilbao’s BBK Live and Madrid’s fast-rising Mad Cool. Along the Valencian coast are Arenal Sound and EDM destination Medusa Sunbeach, while reggae festival Rototom is just a little further north in Benicàssim. If most of the above have had pretty good years, times have not been quite so kind to a couple of other big names. Doctor Music, the reanimated version of the legendary 1990s event credited with kicking off Spain’s taste for music festivals, was cancelled in June due to poor eventual ticket sales. That followed a forced move in April from its proposed site at Escalarre in the Pyrenees – which was controversially said to be a flood risk, despite hosting several editions of the same festival in the past – to the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Montmeló. Sala has laid the responsibility at the door of the Catalan Water Agency and “eco-opportunists” who he claimed had greatly exaggerated the danger of flooding, but he concedes that he has no imminent plans to launch back into the festival market. “I don’t have any festival plans at the moment and I will certainly take plenty of time doing other stuff before I consider putting together another festival,” he says, though he manages to look on the bright side. “The festival was perfectly planned and ready to go when it got cancelled. We had some very pleasant, unique moments
Doctor Music enjoyed huge success with Alejandro Sanz this year
IQ Magazine November 2019
Spain Serious Fan Music enjoyed a successful edition of its Noches del Botánico festival in 2019
Contributors Will Anderson, Mercury Wheels; Laurène Chanson, Whisper Not; Pau Cristòful, Primavera Sound; Albert Salmeron, APM; Barnaby Harrod, Mercury Wheels; Julio Martí, Serious Fan Music; Miguel Martínez, Houston Party; Daniel Molina, Just Life Music; Juan Antonio Muñoz, Madness Live!; Enric Palau, Sonár; Neo Sala, Doctor Music; Manuel Saucedo, WiZink Center; Joan Vich Montaner, Ground Control.
preparing the event and I had the opportunity to meet some extraordinary, talented people and I’m sure something will come out of these encounters in the near future.” Another noted Spanish festival enduring interesting times is the Festival Internacional de Benicàssim (FIB), which fell well short of expectations in its 25th anniversary year, drawing 113,000 fans over four days in July – two years after then-director Melvin Benn declared “a new golden age” for the up-and-down veteran on the back of a 2017 edition that drew 177,000. Immediately after this year’s event, it was announced that FIB had been acquired by The Music Republic, operators of Spanish festivals Arenal Sound, Viña Rock, Granada Sound and Madrid Salvaje. The deal ends the involvement of Benn, Spanish organiser Maraworld and shareholders including Live Nation and SJM Concerts. David and Toño Sánchez, the brothers behind The Music Republic, hold FIB’s brand exploitation rights for 15 years. They haven’t yet commented on their 2020 plans, but in a statement
at the time of the acquisition they promised “to maintain [the festival’s] essence and strengthen public confidence to position FIB again at the top of the international scene.” For all its rapid growth since its launch in 2016, Live Nation’s Mad Cool has felt some growing pains this year. It recently announced it would be adding a seventh stage and an extra day while reducing total capacity from 80,000 to 60,000 for its fifth edition in 2020. The organisers have spoken of attempting to make the next edition “more comfortable and pleasant”. Montaner, former long-term booker for FIB, notes that no one can afford to be complacent in the current climate. “It has been a very good year for music in general, but it depends where you look,” he says. “For example, none of the big festivals have sold out this year, as far as I know. It hasn’t been the strongest year for the big festivals, which may mean some changes are needed. “I think there weren’t a lot of headliners around this year, and because of that, everyone has to put some imagination into their line-ups, and some worked better than others. I like Primavera and BBK Live a lot. I think they put on good lineups, and although they were both criticised by their punters for not being strong enough, I think they were.” Primavera nearly had its revolutionary year undermined when Cardi B pulled out in April, but a rummage around on the superstar headliner shelf found a chunky Friday-night replacement in Miley Cyrus, who joined Carly Rae Jepsen, Janelle Monáe, Robyn and other high-profile women on the bill. “When you book an artist like [Miley], you think it’s going to be all superstar behaviour, and she was totally the opposite,” says Cristòful. “She did her own soundcheck and she was super-charming with all the team.” Cristòful believes other Spanish festivals may have to go through the kind of transformation Primavera Sound recently experienced. “It’s not the best time for festivals in Spain, but for sure it’s an interesting one,” he says. “It used to be indie rock, but now it’s many other things. People are getting into more urban genres and the way young people are consuming music is changing.” Speaking as a manager, Montaner can see the remarkable amount of choice that exists for punters and artists in the Spanish festival business. “If you can’t book one festival, there’s three
IQ Magazine November 2019
‘I like the concerts where you can hear the paper if someone is rolling a cigarette during the performance.” Julio Martí - Serious Fan Music others with a similar capacity and similar line-ups,” he says. One festival that is like no other is Barcelona’s 25-year-old electronic gathering Sonár, which has spun off into events in Bogotá, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong, Reykjavik and Istanbul. But it derives its strength from the integrity of its hometown event, and can claim a share of the success of Rosalía, having showcased her in 2018 and christened her “the Rihanna of flamenco” in the New York Times. Sonár itself was nudged out of its usual slot in the calendar this year by a textile fair, which presumably contributed to a fall in attendance to 105,000. It had set a new record the year before – 126,000 visitors, 46% of them international, from 119 countries – and co-founder Enric Palau appears unruffled. “We are pretty stable,” he says. “This year was a bit of an exception because we had to move our festival to July for the first time, so it was slightly different and we were a bit lower in attendance compared to our standard. We had a great experience anyway and we are back in June from 2020 onwards. “It’s not our main goal to make it bigger and bigger,” Palau adds. “People come not knowing more than half of the lineup, because they know we always represent new things in the [electronic music] scene. It’s the way we want to do the event and we have the support of an audience that comes to discover.” As the name indicates, Martí at Serious Fan is another
with serious aspirations, and he is celebrating the realisation of his own long-standing festival dream, having lately found a satisfying venue and format in Noches del Botánico, in the botanical gardens at the Complutense University of Madrid. This year’s event, with acts including Keane, Michael Bolton, Snarky Puppy and Jane Birkin performing the music of Serge Gainsbourg with a symphony orchestra, ran through June and July and drew 90,000 people to 34 dates. “In Spain, we have festival after festival after festival for younger people,” says Martí. “That is fantastic, and most of them are going great. But the people who are growing old can still go to concerts and enjoy them. I like the concerts where you can hear the paper if someone is rolling a cigarette during the performance, with the best artists possible in the best environments.” It is no exaggeration to say that every promoter of substance has a festival on its roster. Tito Ramoneda, Joan Roselló and Iñaki Martí’s The Project, which focuses on jazz and classical shows, organises larger-scale events including the Voll-Damm International Jazz Festival Barcelona, the Guitar BCN series and the Festival de la Porta Ferrada. Bilbao’s Last Tour has a heavyweight roster of festivals, including indoor event BIME Live and its sister industry conference BIME Pro, coming up at the end of October/ beginning of November, as well as rock festival Azkena, alternative music fest BBK Live and the Spanish talentcentric Donostia in San Sebastian. “The festivals have gone really well,” says Last Tour’s Diego Fernandez. “We did a sold-out Friday at BBK Live and the rest of the days almost sold out. Azkena went perfect and we have sold out the first 3,000 tickets for 2020’s edition. And we had plenty of other tours and bands all over Spain in small, medium and large venues.”
Underworld were one of the main acts at this year’s Sónar Barcelona
IQ Magazine November 2019
Spain An artist rendering of the new Valencia Arena project
Riff promotes I Like Festival and Eutopía in Cordoba, Directos al Sur in Granada and Blues Cazorla in Jaén. Mercury Wheels has the 35,000-a-day O Son do Camiño multi-genre festival in Santiago de Compostela. Madness Live! has its Be Prog! My Friend event in Barcelona, and this year a new festival called Rock The Coast started in Fuengirola in Andalusia. “Our slogan is ‘Horns, sun, beach,’ says Muñoz. “We had bands such as Scorpions, Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow, Europe, UFO and The Darkness. We were close to selling out, with more than 14,000 people per day.”
Venues Spain has not so far had quite the major venue investment of many other European countries, though it gets by. However, in October, Spanish entrepreneur Juan Roig and his holding company, Licampa 1617, revealed plans for a new 18,600-capacity venue in Valencia, which would make it the biggest arena in the country. The multi-purpose Valencia Arena would ostensibly be a basketball arena, with a 15,000-cap for games, but would allow larger audiences for concerts. The €220 million construction project is due to begin in mid-2020 and has a provisional completion date of 2023.
The Valencia Arena project is a “personal and altruistic initiative” according to Roig, who is the president of Spanish supermarket chain Mercadona. The aim, he says, is “to give Valencia a multi-use space which will position the city and the wider region as a world-class destination for national and international sporting, cultural and entertainment events.” In the meantime, Barcelona’s nearly-18,000-cap Palau Sant Jordi was built in 1990 as an Olympic arena and has hosted dozens of shows since 1991. Madrid’s equivalent, the 15,500-cap WiZink Center (known as the Palacio de Deportes de la Comunidad de Madrid until 2016) exploded its own records in 2017 when it hosted 156 events. It did it again in 2018, scaling up to 179, of which 93 were concerts, with artists including Elton John, Backstreet Boys, Ennio Morricone, Eddie Vedder and Billie Eilish. “2017 was not exceptional, because 2018 was even better,” says CEO Manuel Saucedo. “We took advantage of the extraordinary musical activity in our country, and the fact that our venue is getting more and more popular internationally. In many cases it’s been chosen directly by bands and artists, which is great for us.” But while the last few years have been glorious ones at the top level, Saucedo has reservations about aspects of the market. “I would say our concerns are mainly two,” he says. “First, the proliferation of big summer festivals, which makes many artists and bands auction their dates between these festivals, instead of managing traditional tours.” The second is the problem of secondary ticketing – a cause pushed by the APM but which has yet to become a focus of serious legislative outrage. “We are working on a campaign to promote safe ticket purchases only at official ticket marketplaces,” says Saucedo. “It’s very sad for us when we have to leave people outside because they have a duplicated ticket.” At club level, both Barcelona and Madrid have their solid favourites, including the 300-cap La Sala El Sol in the capital and the 200-cap Sidecar in Barcelona. A little bigger are the Riviera in Madrid and the Apollo and the Razzmatazz in the second city.
Madness Live promoted Iron Maiden in Madrid during their 2018 ‘Legacy of the Beast World Tour’
IQ Magazine November 2019
Billed as the Festival of Love, guests wore VIP lanyards to attend the wedding of Lollapalooza Berlin festival director Fruzsina Szép and OpenAir St. Gallen chief Christof Huber in the picturesque mountain village of Brand, Austria.
Helen Sildna became the latest music industry luminary to have her name immortalised in Tampere’s Tähtikatu (Star Street) which celebrates the achievements of famous Finnish musicians for their contribution to the arts with gold stars inlaid on the pavement.
Music Venue Trust’s Beverley Whitrick and Mark Davyd joined DJ Steve Lamacq and artist KT Tunstall to congratulate Paul Jackson of The New Adelphi Club, Hull, on his Outstanding Achievement and Contribution to Grassroots Music Venues Award.
Kilimanjaro Live staff enjoyed an early Hallowe’en treat courtesy of Dr. Fright.
IQ’s Jon Chapple and German journalist Birgit Reuther interviewed Wacken Festival founders Holger Hübner and Thomas Jensen (pictured) at Reeperbahn Festival in Hamburg. Paradigm’s Clementine Bunel interviewed fellow agent Emma Banks during a keynote session at MaMA Conference in Paris.
If you or any of your ILMC colleagues have any notices or updates to include on the noticeboard, please contact the club secretary, Gordon Masson, via email@example.com
IQ Magazine November 2019
The One That Got Away... I was the booker for Imperial College (IC) back in the day and the house band was called Smile, all students from IC and they weren’t good. I finished booking IC but a year later the old social sec phoned me and said I had to listen to Smile who had changed their name and had a new singer. I groaned and said, “Send me the album,” which turned up with a photo of a band with weird stripes on their faces, a new singer, and the name Queen. I passed without listening to the album. Now that was an ego out of control! Neil Warnock, UTA
Ed Sheeran was supporting Example very early on in his career and he kept asking me to come and see him. This was during the first wave of grime. When I asked him what he was like, he said he was ginger, slightly plump and played a guitar on his own. I said, “Elliot, you’re taking the piss!” What did I know?! Alex Hardee, Paradigm
I turned down Lomepal because it was in direct conflict with an act already on our roster. It turned out he went in a new, different artistic direction, taking him out of that position of conflict, but I had already passed on him… Jad El Alam, Bleu Citron
I was offered Take That when they reformed and I asked if Robbie was in the band. When they said “no,” I passed, put the phone down, and every girl in the office told me what an idiot I was. The rest is history. John Giddings, Solo Agency
Led Zeppelin… I was walking along Oxford Street and bumped into Peter Grant coming out of Mickie Most’s office. “I am not talking to you,” Peter said. “What do I have to do to get you on the phone? I’ve tried to get you on
the phone half a dozen fucking times.” “OMG, I had no idea. I’m really sorry, what can I do to sort this?” “Fire the fucking girl who answers the phone for a start,” said Peter as he stormed off. I rushed back to my office and asked the receptionist if a chap called Peter Grant had ever called? “Yes, he sounded very menacing so I decided not to put him through (four or five times…)” I bought the best bottle of Scotch I could find and sent it to Peter with a grovelling note explaining the receptionist came from finishing school and was not used to his dulcet tones. Fortunately, he saw the funny side and I was restored as Led Zeppelin’s European promoter. Harvey Goldsmith
Soon after I’d started as an agent at Rough Trade Booking, Ivo WattsRussell from 4AD came to meet us and offered us the Cocteau Twins. I thought they were dull and we passed. The Cocteaus were not dull, but also if we’d said yes, maybe we’d have had Dead Can Dance, The Pixies and many etcetera’s. Hey, I was young… Nick Hobbs, Charmenko
In 1974, I worked as a booker at Chrysalis Agency along with a certain Martin Hopewell, and John Jackson. One of the many fine acts that we represented was Procol Harum, and I was delegated to go to a gig they were playing in Stockholm, promoted by Thomas Johansson. I had breakfast with him on the morning after the successful show, and he told me about an act that he was managing. He asked me to pass on a cassette to Kenny Bell who was our boss at Chrysalis. After a ‘quick’ listen to the tape, Kenny said, “They’re a pop band, we don’t handle pop bands.” I can’t remember if the rest of us listened to it but that was the end of it. The pop band was, of course, Abba. Allan McGowan, ILMC
Back in 1991, I was the assistant stage manager for the recently opened Camden Underworld. Loads of bands came through in that time, some going on to stardom, some to oblivion. One bunch that I took a shine to were three chaps from Cork – The Frank and Walters. It was always a pleasure when they came to play, which around that time they did quite a lot. Cue September 92, I made my way to Leeds Poly to see The Franks and arrived early enough to see the tour support – five lads who were a cross between reject baggy types from Manchester and those scholarly types you’d find around dark corners in libraries basically playing this twee indie rock that was ten a penny during this time. Quickly dismissed and pooh-poohed, we went off to the bar, proclaiming that they would never reach the heights or majesty of The Franks. Twelve months later, the support act’s debut single was reissued and reached the top 10 and I did eventually come around to them. That support: Radiohead. Jeremy Thomas, Paradigm
I was managing a posey hardcore band called Million Dead who got a lot of interest from labels and ended up signing a deal with Extra Mile Recordings. When the band split up, their singer, Frank Turner, presented me with a demo of his new songs, but I just didn’t get it, as it sounded, to me, like country music at the time. The weird thing is, I’m really into that sound now. Andy Farrow, Northern Music
In the 60s, Claude Nobs wanted to book The Beatles but Swiss TV said they were not known enough, so he could not go ahead. Michaela Maiterth, Montreux Jazz Festival
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IQ Magazine November 2019
IQ Magazine issue 86 November 2019