99 An ILMC Publication MAY 2021 | £25 | €25
NFTs TICKETING’S INTERACTIVE FUTURE?
BUILDING BACK GREENER PILOT SHOWS PROVE SAFE VIAGOGO FACES LEGAL BATTLES
Festival ticketing on a whole new level
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COMMENT AND COLUMNS
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Index In Brief The main headlines over the last two months Analysis Key stories and news analysis from around the live music world New Signings & New Music A roundup of the latest acts that have found agents during the pandemic
NFTs - Ticketing's Interactive Future? IQ examines the hype around nonfungible tokens and the exciting possibilities they can bring to ticketing Building Back Greener Jon Chapple discovers some of the ways that live entertainment can embrace sustainability in its return to action
Leading by Example Laura Davidson explains the driving force behind her new female-led live services consultancy Running the Risk Julia Robinson warns that a lack of government-backed insurance could impact business confidence PULSE Mike Malak keeps tabs on the new technology impacting the music industry IPM Production Notes Tour manager Rebecca Travis reflects on 20 years on the road – and one year off Your Shout What’s been your biggest culinary triumph during lockdown?
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A MONTHLY HALF-DAY WEBINAR UPDATING THE LIVE MUSIC INDUSTRY ON THE CURRENT STATE OF COVID PANDEMIC AND THE ROADMAP TO RE-OPENING 2021 DATES 13 MAY 10 JUNE 8 JULY 5 AUGUST
Key principals from science, health & safety, technology and the business, present the latest advances, updates and information around live music’s recovery. The latest COVID mitigation strategies Market comparisons and updates on vaccines and testing Reports on recent pilots and tests COVID-related technology solutions that assist in protecting concert goers, artists, crew and teams Projected reopening schedules Invited Q&As with scientists, epidemiologists and other experts, and industry heads.
The Recovery Sessions will be free to attend for all subscribers
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HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL
s I write, London is enjoying its third week of partly relaxed restrictions, with bars and restaurants allowed to operate their outdoor areas, hairdressers reopened, and non-essential shops back to something approaching normal, although many are limiting the number of customers in-store at any one time. Live music is still, sadly, missing, but as the spring sunshine begins to buoy our emotions, it feels like we’re beginning to bathe in that light at the end of the tunnel. The next big date in the calendar for England (the four home nations in the UK are all handling their timetables differently) is 17 May, when most legal restrictions on meeting others outdoors will be lifted (although gatherings of over 30 people will remain illegal) and indoors, the ‘Rule of 6’ or two households coming together, will apply. Should that all go to plan, 21 June will herald the end of all restrictions: no more mandatory face masks; an end to social distancing; and venues will be allowed to reopen their doors without any legal limitations, meaning live music can return. But all that promise comes with the caveat that the infection rate and hospitalisation numbers must not increase. And that will definitely rely on keeping out any new variants of Covid, so personally, I will be hanging on to my masks for the foreseeable future, especially if I’m using public transport, or even one of those giant iron birds that used to be so prevalent in the London sky. Looking at what is currently going on in India, where hundreds of thousands of new infections are being reported daily, is a sobering reminder of how quickly things can go wrong, and just how fragile our freedom is in this new world order. Taking things for granted is very much at our own peril and I would urge anyone who can afford it to give generously to the Indian aid appeals, as the nightmare they are currently enduring could well become the world’s, without more help. Having been able to meet friends for the first time in months has underlined that a clear run of ‘normal’ is much needed, and, with any luck, as nations start to reap the results of vaccination programmes, we may even find confidence returning to the insurance markets, which, in turn, could finally give festival organisers the green-light to go ahead with their sold-out events. As with anything to do with this wretched virus, any kind of statement or guidance comes with a dose of ifs, buts and howevers. And with international touring still a distant pipedream, there will probably be as many setbacks as steps forward toward the recovery for live events. So, with that in mind, IQ is launching a series of monthly mini-conferences – the Recovery Sessions – so that subscribers can dissect data and discuss results from test events, while learning from epidemiologists and scientists about how we can plan a safe path back to operations around the world. The first of these sessions is scheduled for 13 May and will only be available to IQ subscribers, so if you know anyone who is yet to renew their subscription, best give them a gentle nudge before then.
ISSUE 99 LIVE MUSIC INTELLIGENCE IQ Magazine Unit 31 Tileyard Road London, N7 9AH email@example.com www.iq-mag.net Tel: +44 (0)20 3743 0300 Twitter: @iq_mag Publisher ILMC and Suspicious Marketing Editor Gordon Masson News Editor Jon Chapple Staff Writer Lisa Henderson Advertising Manager Steve Woollett Design Rather Nice Design Sub Editor Michael Muldoon Head of Digital Ben Delger Contributors Laura Davidson, Mike Malak, Julia Robinson, Rebecca Travis Editorial Contact Gordon Masson firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: +44 (0)20 3743 0303 Advertising Contact Steve Woollett email@example.com Tel: +44 (0)20 3743 0304 ISSN 2633-0636
IN BRIEF INDEX The concert business digest
APRIL Hamburg’s Barclaycard Arena prepares to open its doors for the first time in a year to host the Restart concert series, organised by Hamburg Concerts. The US Small Business Administration is forced to close the portal for Shuttered Venue Operating Grants before a single application is received. AmazeVR, the LA-based startup, raises $9.5m (€7.9m) in new funding to accelerate the company’s growth in the world of virtual reality concerts. Brussels venue KVS plans to open its doors on 26 April, defying current restrictions, in a bid to increase pressure on the Belgian government to reopen the cultural sector. Frontier Touring announces the second edition of Music from the Home Front, a special Anzac Day concert spearheaded by the late Australian industry icon Michael Gudinski. Live Nation and Veeps equip more than 60 venues around the US with a permanent live-streaming set-up.
Denmark’s Smash!Bang!Pow! hires one of the country’s most experienced concert promoters, Xenia Grigat. Norway’s biggest rock and metal festival, Tons of Rock, is the first major Norwegian festival to cancel its 2021 edition. Ken Watts, a much-loved tour director for the likes of George Michael, Duran Duran, Natalie Imbruglia, Bond, Blues Brothers, Jamiroquai and Duran Duran, passes away. Fieldlab, the Dutch initiative behind the Back to Live series, receives permission from the government to scale-up its forthcoming test events. Dutch DJ Don Diablo sells what is thought to be the first-ever fulllength concert NFT (non-fungible token) for cryptocurrency to the value of $1.2million (€1m). Stagehand’s Covid-19 relief fund is bolstered by a £75,000 (€11,000) donation from PPL, the UK’s music licensing company for performers and recording rights holders. Ten historic independent venues in the US, as well as NIVA, will benefit from more than $200,000 (€165,343) raised through a ‘golden ticket’ NFT fundraiser.
Working guidance for UK festival organisers is updated to provide “support and strategic direction” in the planning of events ahead of the ERP. Fieldlab’s largest test event yet, the 10,000-capacity 538 Koningsdag festival in the Netherlands, receives more than a million applications. Finland’s 2021 festival season shrinks dramatically with the cancellations of major festivals such as Ruisrock, Ilosaarirock, Provinssirock, and Sideways. Switzerland’s cultural industry welcomes the federal government’s decision to allow audiences at concerts again amid a wider rollback of restrictions. iconic UK venue, Forum Birmingham, which previously welcomed artists ranging from Bob Marley to Ed Sheeran is set to open its doors for the first time in a decade. The organisers of a surprise AJ Tracey gig are fined £10,000 (€11,503) after huge crowds gathered in a park in Manchester to see the rapper perform.
ASM Global signs on to comanage operations, run the commercialisation, and oversee the development of a new entertainment and sports arena in Cantù, Italy. Sefton Park in Liverpool will host a new music festival, simply called the Sefton Park Pilot, as part of the British government-backed Events Research Programme. 5B Artists and Media, the international music management company that is home to hard rock/metal acts, hires artist manager James Vitalo. Color Sound, the long-running Italian booking agency, sells a “significant stake” in the company to Milan-based record label and music distributor Artist First. Live Nation Spain president Pino Sagliocco galvanises celebrities for a benefit campaign supporting the music industry. Fieldlab’s 10,000-person test event, 538 Koningsdag, is cancelled by local authorities. FKP Scorpio joins forces with Berlin-based booking agency Area One to form new agency business FKP Area One.
The Canadian government reserves up to CA$50m (€33m) in the newly announced budget to help the live music sector weather the pandemic during 2021 and 2022.
Casey Wasserman announces the launch of Wasserman Music, the new booking agency formed following the completion of its acquisition of Paradigm’s North American live music business.
The UK live industry writes to the prime minister asking for a ring-fenced portion of the Culture Recovery Fund to create a new contingency fund for live events.
The Green Events and Innovations Conference (GEI) announces the launch of a special GEI Summer Edition taking place on 16 September 2021.
British concert promoter Joff Hall joins Kilimanjaro Live, becoming the London-based live music firm’s latest hire, after four years with TEG MJR.
Live Nation Entertainment announces the launch of new guidance that will help artists and their teams develop sustainable tours after live music returns.
Senbla, the Sony-backed promoter and producer based in the UK, acquires a majority stake in live music and production business GEA Live.
The 2021 Brit Awards ceremony will go ahead with a live audience of 4,000 people, as part of the UK government’s Events Research Programme.
Lukiškės Prison, an early 20thcentury former jail in central Vilnius, will be turned into a versatile entertainment and arts venue.
Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group announces the reopening of four of its most popular shows, which have been closed for more than a year.
ATC Live, the UK booking agency, welcomes agent David ‘Skully’ Sullivan-Kaplan into the fold.
Moment House, the LA-based live-streaming platform backed by the likes of Scooter Braun, Troy Carter and Jared Leto, makes seven new hires.
The Republic of Ireland finally outlaws the reselling of tickets to large events such as festivals or concerts at above face value (see page 10). The Scottish live industry dubs the government’s roadmap out of lockdown ‘meaningless’ and ‘vague’ for the return of live entertainment.
Earth Day marks the culmination of a week of action aimed at raising awareness and securing support for the global movement for environmental protection.
Live music Industry Venues and Entertainment (LIVE) appoints Chris Carey to the role of chief economist. Live music, entertainment, exhibitions, events, and indoor sports associations and businesses pledge their support for Covidstatus certification. Driift, the UK-based concert live-streaming company, hires Sasha Duncan, formerly of BBC television, as head of production. Climate Live, a youth-led global environmental campaign, announces a 24-hour concert live-stream. Midnight Mango, the UK booking agency, announces the hiring of four booking agents as part of its agent freelancer platform. An Italian court rejects an appeal by Viagogo against a €3.7m fine for hosting listings for tickets sold in contravention of Italian law (see page 10). Barcelona city council announces half a million euros’ worth of subsidies for large-format concerts in the city this summer. Richard Young, the well-liked British production manager known for his work with Radiohead and Adele, passes aged 47. NITO partners with companies across the live music sector for Vax4Live, a campaign aimed at countering misinformation about the coronavirus vaccines.
IQ announces the launch of the Recovery Sessions, a new monthly series of half-day webinars that will keep the live music industry updated about the international roadmap to reopening. Danish festivals with more than 10,000 participants should not go ahead as usual, according to the government’s advisory expert group. Brussels venue KVS holds the first-ever Belgian test event. Festivals per la Cultura Segura announces that its recent 5,000-capacity pilot concert in Barcelona on 27 March had no impact on Covid-19 transmission among attendees (see page 9). CTS Eventim launches its face-value ticket resale platform, fanSALE, in Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. Greek festivals are in fight-or-flight mode as the summer season draws closer and uncertainty about Covid restrictions looms. The Small Business Administration’s Shuttered Venue Relief Grant finally reopens, more than two weeks after its failure to launch. United Independent Music Agencies, the association of Dutch booking agencies, releases a green rider for artists wishing to tour sustainably.
INDUSTRY MOURNS PRODUCTION GREATS The international live music industry lost two of its best-loved production personalities during April.
ichard Young, the British production manager known for his work with Radiohead and Adele, passed away aged 47 on 23 April, after being diagnosed with cancer. Young began his production career in the 90s, having formed Catapult Productions in 1993, and cut his teeth working with Radiohead, succeeding Brian Ormond as the band’s production manager in 2003. After getting his break with Radiohead, he went on to serve in similar roles for a who’s who of rock and pop, including Pink, Nine Inch Nails, Dido, Duran Duran, Will Young, Lorde, and Adele, serving as PM for the record-breaking Adele Live 2016 tour. When lockdown came in March 2020, he was on tour with The 1975, who had just wrapped up their European tour in Dublin.
Creative Technology’s head of music and touring, Graham Miller, says Young was “the master of asking the difficult technical questions, so you really had to be on your game – which I loved! He really wanted to understand every element of his incredibly technical productions. I even remember Richard getting involved in our LED load-in in rehearsals, just to understand how it all worked better.” “He was an inspiring guy – the best at what he did but still had the capacity to constantly think of other business opportunities or take a slanted view of how things were being done and ask if they could be done in a different better way,” adds Miller. “Richard, I will miss you.” Torsten Block, who worked with Young in 2007 on a Pink show in Germany, remembers the late PM as a welcome antidote to the “difficult people” he usually worked with at the time.
“[He was] different: friendly, goal-oriented, and every time calm and relaxed,” he writes. Ella Yelich-O’Connor, better known as the singer Lorde, spoke of feeling “such warmth, kindness and mischief coming from the tall Englishman” who helped her build “such beautiful things. He brought so many of my dreams to life, with such care and commitment. I’ll always remember that about him,” she says. Tour director Ken Watts passed away suddenly during the weekend of 10-11 April. Colleagues, friends, and artists paid tribute to Watts, who worked on the very first Wham! tour in 1983, as well as with artists such as Michael Flatley, Spandau Ballet, Susan Boyle, George Michael, Natalie Imbruglia, Bond, Blues Brothers, Jamiroquai and Duran Duran. Dennis Gardner, production manager for Cat Stevens, says Watts was “an industry legend and a personal hero of mine. I have learnt and continue to learn from Ken and the way he approached everything he did with heart, a heavy dose of common sense and, as ever, a wonderful sense of humour. “He always had time for his crew, not just the close ones but everyone, and made sure they were always respected, cared for, and felt like they belonged,” he continues. “[H]e has been so much more than a tour manager to his touring family.” Watts, veteran PM Wob Roberts adds, was “one of the industry’s mega-personalities, who will be greatly missed.”
PILOTS PROVE SAFE RETURN TO LIVE IS POSSIBLE
n the eve of two major UK test events (Festival Republic's 5,000-cap Blossoms' show on 2 May, and The Brit Awards on 11 May), findings from clinically monitored test gigs in Spain and the Netherlands present further evidence that indoor concerts needn’t increase the potential for new coronavirus infections. Festivals per la Cultura Segura, the organiser of the show in Barcelona on 27 March, announced that the event had no impact on Covid-19 transmission among attendees, despite the lack of social distancing observed at the 5,000-person show. Having analysed the data, doctors from the show’s medical partners (the Germans Trias Hospital and the Fight AIDS and Infectious Diseases Foundation), have concluded that the indoor concert setting did not increase the coronavirus risk – with concertgoers exhibiting a lower incidence of Covid-19 than the general population in Barcelona at the time. Taking place at the 17,000-capacity Palau Sant Jordi arena, the event saw popular local rock act Love of Lesbian perform to an audience of 4,994
fans, all of whom had tested negative for Covid-19 on the day (six people were turned away after testing positive). While the use of a medical-grade FFP2 mask was mandatory, there was no social distancing among fans, who were separated into three areas once the show got underway. Compliance with the measures that were in place was “scrupulous,” say organisers. Of the 4,592 concert attendees who gave consent for the doctors to analyse Covid-19 tests taken after the event, six tested positive for Covid-19 within 14 days of the show. All six cases had mild symptoms, or were asymptomatic, and no secondary transmission was observed; additionally, analysis suggests that four of the cases originated outside the concert. The six cases, say the scientists, represent a cumulative incidence (at 14 days after the show) of 130.7 cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 inhabitants. Compared to Barcelona as a whole, this is lower than the 259.5 cases/100,000 people in the city’s population at the time. In a statement, Festivals per la Cultura Segura – comprising Primavera Sound, Sónar, Cruïlla, Canet Rock, TheProject and Vida Festival – say they view the experiment “very positively,”
“The aim is for this established model to generate new proposals within the framework of a strategic plan of pilot studies. such as the one carried out on 27 March at the Palau Sant Jordi” Festivals per la Cultura Segura
stating their intention to use the lessons of the Love of Lesbian show to push for the safe return of full-capacity live concerts. “We will continue to work under the guidance of the scientific community in order to make further progress,” they say. “The aim is for this established model to generate new proposals within the framework of a strategic plan of pilot studies, such as the one carried out on 27 March at the Palau Sant Jordi.” In the Netherlands, seated indoor events can take place as soon as possible – even with a high prevalence of Covid-19 locally – provided certain measures are adhered to, according to the findings of Fieldlab Evenementen. The Dutch initiative shared the results from the first part of its Back to Live test series, which involved a business conference and a cabaret show by the Dutch comedian Guido Weijers. Each event took place during February at the Beatrix Theater, Utrecht, with around 500 attendees. Based on the results of the study, Fieldlab says that these so-called ‘type-one events,’ which take place indoors, with seats, and where the public behaves calmly, can take place with 50% occupancy and without social distancing. However, visitors must be tested before and after the event and wear a mask while walking around the venue. The recommendations are also based on a venue having good ventilation and separating large groups of visitors. Fieldlab researchers say the results of the study are “encouraging,” noting that 98.4% of the visitors who attended the events adhered to the instructions, and 80% of the visitors downloaded the CoronaMelder (CoronaDetector) app in advance, so that track-and-trace could be carried out easily. The number of contacts within 1.5 metres and lasting longer than 15 minutes was limited, especially during the theatre test. This number was higher at the conference because people actively sought out colleagues and peers. The Back to Live series, which has so far included concerts, festivals and other live events, will continue with the Eurovision Song Contest in May. A planned 10,000-person music festival, 538 Oranjedag, which would have been the series' biggest event to date, was planned for 24 April but was called off amid local opposition. A petition calling on organisers to cancel the event had drawn nearly 400,000 signatures, with campaigners stating that “[having] a party with 10,000 people, 400 metres from a hospital overloaded by Covid-19, is a blow to patients and caregivers.” Ultimately, the Dutch government left the decision to city authorities, which decided to decline a permit for the event, citing the potential for disruption at the festival.
VIAGOGO IN THE DOCK AGAIN ACROSS MULTIPLE TERRITORIES
n Italian court has rejected an appeal by Viagogo against a €3.7million fine for hosting listings for tickets sold in contravention of Italian law. The judgment, handed down by the regional administrative court of Lazio on 2 April, upholds a 2020 ruling in favour of the Italian Communications Authority, which brought legal action against the secondary ticketing site for listing tickets to 37 events at above face value between March and July 2019. Ticket touting is effectively illegal in Italy under the country’s 2017 budget law, which states that tickets to entertainment events may only be sold by authorised retailers. Consumers are permitted to sell unwanted tickets but only for a price equal to, or less than, their original face value. The judges rejected Viagogo’s argument that it was acting merely as a “passive hosting provider” connecting resellers with potential buyers, which would exempt the resale platform from liability under Italian law. Instead, Viagogo was
found to provide a range of services, and promote and advertise tickets in a way that could not be considered to be carried out without any awareness or control on its part. “The service provided by Viagogo […] does not have the characteristics of passive hosting,” the court concluded, “given that it clearly does not consist merely of the ‘storage of information’ but rather optimisation, advertising and promotion of the tickets on-sale. “Nor has the appellant in any way substantiated the claim that such complex activities would be carried out by the platform in a completely auto-
matic manner and without any awareness and/or possibility of control on its part,” adds the ruling. The ruling comes as the secondary ticketing marketplace site is also hit with legal action north of the Alps, where the Consumer Protection Foundation of German-speaking Switzerland is suing the Geneva-based company for allegedly selling tickets to events that it is clear will not go ahead. Viagogo, the complaint alleges, has taken advantage of “the chaos of uncoordinated, pandemic-related lockdowns” across the world to “systematically” sell tickets for events that it knows will not take place. To test its theory, in mid-January, Stiftung bought two tickets from Viagogo: One for a comedy show by Stéphanie Berger at the Kofmehl venue in Solothurn, and another for a “concert by two Dutch musicians” in Amsterdam, taking place in mid-February and mid-March, respectively. Both events had already been cancelled at the time of the ticket purchase. Viagogo denies the charges, saying in a statement that if tickets for cancelled events are offered for sale, “it is a mistake.” Like in Italy, the resale of tickets to large events such as festivals or concerts for above face value, will also be outlawed in the Republic of Ireland, under legislation approved on 20 April by the Irish cabinet. Under the act, a person found guilty of an offence will face a fine of up to €100,000 or up to two years’ imprisonment. The bill will be introduced to the Dáil Éireann, the country’s lower house, at the earliest opportunity, and enacted as early as possible thereafter, according to the Irish government. Once the legislation is passed, operators of venues with a capacity of at least 1,000 will be able to apply to the department of enterprise, trade and employment for ‘designation,’ which will prohibit the for-profit reselling of tickets for that venue. “This bill will stop opportunists with no interest or involvement in music or sport enriching themselves at the expense of sports and music fans, sporting bodies, artists, and promoters,” says the minister of state at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Robert Troy. “And, importantly, fans will have all the information they need to ensure they are not being ripped off.”
“This bill will stop opportunists with no interest or involvement in music or sport enriching themselves at the expense of sports and music fans, sporting bodies, artists, and promoters” Robert Troy | Irish Minister of State
YOU CAN'T BEAT THE REAL THING
ubai’s Coca-Cola Arena has collected the prestigious Venue of the Year accolade at the annual Middle East Event Awards. Held virtually on 5 April, the awards ceremony marks a significant milestone for the 17,000-capacity arena, as the venue category is notoriously competitive thanks to the quality of numerous state-of-the-art buildings across the region. “As a team, we are delighted to be recognised for this award after what has been a challenging year for live events,” says the venue’s CEO, Guy Ngata. “We welcomed fans back with the return of live events in November, incorporating new social distancing and hygiene procedures as part of ASM Global’s VenueShield initiative. We have been delighted to provide live entertainment to Dubai again, and we anticipate this increasing over the months ahead.” The venue, which opened in June 2019, has helped extend Dubai’s live events season by six months by offering a state-of-the-art, purpose-built, fully air-conditioned indoor arena that can host shows all-year-round. Among the acts who have already benefitted from its facilities are Maroon 5, Russell Peters, Maluma, A.R. Rahman, Tony Robbins, Joy Koy, and Arab sensation Rashid Al-Majed.
F AGENT AND DAD PLAN 'ROW FOR ALISON' MARATHON
ree Trade Agency’s David Hughes and his father, Darryl, will be donning the Lycra to take part in a fundraising rowing machine challenge on 28 May, in aid of the hospice team that looked after David’s mother, Alison, who passed away in December. David, who assists Paul Boswell, will be attempting to row a full marathon (26.2 miles/42.2km) alongside his dad who will take on half the distance, in a bid to raise £5,000. “My mum had a brain tumour and the support of a very extensive professional care team, alongside incredible amounts of support from her family and friends, enabled her to be nursed at home for nearly 12 months prior to being transferred to the Princess Alice Hospice at Esher for her final days,” says David. “The Hospice Community Team played a vital role in caring for Mum with their unique knowledge and expertise in palliative care. However, whilst Alison was at the hospice, I discovered that they are not able to operate to full capacity, due to a desperate lack in funding for nursing staff.”
To support the Hughes family’s efforts, visit: Justgiving.com/fundraising/rowforalison Magazine
NEW SIGNINGS & NEW MUSIC
LISTEN TO ’S ‘NEW MUSIC’ AGENCY PLAYLIST HERE
works with agency partners to compile a monthly playlist of new music, much of it released by the new additions to their rosters. Among the tracks on May’s playlist are submissions from ATC Live, CAA, ICM Partners, ITB, Mother Artists, Paradigm, Primary Talent, UTA, and WME.
André Marmot Earth Agency
© Ronen Fadida
IMANBEK AGENTS Paul McQueen
Primary Talent; Simon Clarkson & Paul Gongaware ICM Partners
or Liraz’s second album, Zan (‘Women’ in Farsi), she collaborated online with composers and musicians from Iran, meaning everything had to be secretive to avoid the gaze of Tehran’s mullahs and secret police. Her family, Iranian Jews, moved to Tel Aviv in the 1970s, but Liraz always believed her culture to be Iranian. After moving to the US to act in several movies, she found a huge Iranian community in LA. “There are a million Iranians there, so many I started to call it ‘Tehrangeles,’” she says. “I heard this music from before the revolution and I started to collect it. Some was by women who didn’t stop singing after the revolution, as they were supposed to do. I heard the courage in their voices. That made me realise I didn’t want to act, I wanted to sing.” In 2018, Liraz released Naz, writing and singing in Farsi. When the album was done, she knew she wanted to take things even deeper – to work with Iranian musicians and let her music resonate further. As a result, Zan is underground music in the very best sense: true political pop with names withheld for safety. Clandestine collaborations that mix traditional Persian instruments, club beats and call-to-action melodies.
aving miraculously broken all possible music charts with his multi-platinum Roses remix, Imanbek Zeikenov (from Aksu in Kazakhstan) despite being just 20 has already changed the history of EDM by becoming the first Eastern European musician to enter the top 5 of the Billboard HOT 100. SAINt JHN’s single, Roses, remixed by Imanbek, was originally an unofficial upload to YouTube before he was signed by Russian label Effective Records in 2019. However, Imanbek won a Grammy for the remix. Roses has clocked up more than one billion streams on Spotify and topped charts around the world, making Imanbek one of the most popular musical collaborators on the planet, with projects alongside the likes of Usher, Tory Lanez, Sean Paul, and DJs Marshmello, Don Diablo, Afrojack, Martin Jansen, VIZE, Zara Larsson, Trevor Daniel, Goodboys, Fetty Wap and more, while superstar J Balvin also joined the Roses remix bandwagon with his Latino Gang version.
ARTIST LISTINGS 1-800 GIRLS (UK) A1 x J1 (UK) ADELINE (FR) Allison Russell (CA) Angel Haze (US) Armand Hammer (US) ArrDee (UK) Astrid Canales (ES) Batida (AN/PT) Beren Olivia (UK) Brynn Elliott (US) Cashh (UK) Cassandra Jenkins (US) Cherym (UK) Coco & Clair Clair (US) Conor Albert (UK) Cookiee Kawaii (US) Deyaz (UK) Dreya Mac (UK) Ducks Ltd. (CA) Eddie Benjamin (AU) Editrix (US) English Teacher (UK) FEET (UK) Gaff (IE) Gaidaa (NL) General Levy (UK) GIRLI (UK) girlpuppy (UK) God’s Hate (US)
Jason O’Regan, Earth Agency Max Lee, Earth Agency Beth Morton & James Wright, UTA Rob Challice & Olly Hodgson, Paradigm Guillaume Brevers, Hometown Talent Serena Parsons, Earth Agency Craig D’Souza, Primary Talent Felipe Mina Calvo, ATC Live Clementine Bunel, Paradigm Ryan Penty, Paradigm Nick Matthews, Paradigm Craig D’Souza, Primary Talent Alice Hogg & Will Church, ATC Live Olivia Sime, ITB Guillaume Brevers, Hometown Talent Steve Nickolls & James Wright, UTA Sally Dunstone, Primary Talent Alex Hardee, Paradigm Sam Gill, Earth Agency Guillaume Brevers, Hometown Talent Noah Simon, UTA Graham Clews & Sarah Besnard, ATC Live Matt Bates, Primary Talent Skully Sullivan-Kaplan, ATC Live Nikos Kazoleas & James Osgood, UTA Kevin Jergenson, ICM Partners Darren James-Thomas, FMLY Agency Rob McGee, FMLY Agency Graham Clews & Will Church, ATC Live Tom Taaffe, Paradigm
HOTTEST NEW ACTS THIS MONTH 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
LAST MONTH 17 21 1 11 22 5 34 30 10 6 29 9
PREDICTIONS FOR MAY 2021
ARTIST YOUNG STONER LIFE (US) YOT CLUB (US) BIG SCARR (US) MIMI WEBB (UK) SOFAYGO (US) POUTYFACE (US) MASKED WOLF (AU) LAURA LES (100 GECS) (US) DRY CLEANING (UK) IAMDOECHII (US) TAI VERDES (US) SPOTEMGOTTEM (US) A1 X J1 (UK) FRED AGAIN.. (UK) CENTRAL CEE (UK) CHLOE GEORGE (US), MOOSKI (US), PARIS TEXAS (US), LAKEYAH (US), DAINE (AU)
Artists not in the current top 15, but growing quickly
Fastest growing artists in terms of music consumption, aggregated across a number of online sources.
Gotts Street Park (UK) Sam Gill, Earth Agency Here at Last (UK) Ryan Penty, Paradigm Indigo De Souza (US) Matt Pickering-Copley, Primary Talent Jerro (BE) Kevin Jergenson & Paul Gongaware, ICM Partners Joe Turner (UK) Michael Harvey-Bray & Cris Hearn, Paradigm Kassa Overall (US) Naomi Palmer, Earth Agency Kessler (UK) Michael Harvey-Bray, Paradigm Kinkajous (UK) Darren James-Thomas, FMLY Agency L’Objectif (UK) David Exley, Paradigm Le Couleur (CA) Rob McGee, FMLY Agency Lea Heart (IE) Alex Hardee, Paradigm Linda Diaz (US) James Wright, UTA Lucy Gooch (UK) Dave Jennings, Art & Industry Malady (UK) Matt Bates, Primary Talent MPH (UK) Lauren Kaye, Earth Agency Nix Northwest (UK) Felipe Mina Calvo & Marlon Burton, ATC Live Opus (UK) Danny Misell, Earth Agency Oscar Welsh (UK) Andy Clayton, Paradigm Phoenix Laoutaris (UK) Max Lee, Earth Agency Poutyface (US) Noah Simon & Jules de Lattre, UTA Ratboys (US) Graham Clews, ATC Live Reuben Gray (UK) Sol Parker, Paradigm Rosehip Teahouse (UK) Nikos Kazoleas, UTA Rosie Alena (UK) Roxane Dumoulin & Sarah Joy, ATC Live Sophia Kennedy (DE) Roxane Dumoulin, ATC Live Spirit of the Beehive (UK) Graham Clews, ATC Live Tanerélle (US) Kevin Jergenson, ICM Partners Tarzsa (UK) Alasdair Howie, FMLY Agency Teenage Halloween (US) Ed Sellers, Primary Talent The Rills (UK) Steve Taylor, ATC Live Theon Cross (UK) Darren James-Thomas, FMLY Agency Tiberius b (CA) David Exley, Paradigm Touching Bass (UK) Alasdair Howie, FMLY Agency Tygapaw (US) Simon Clarkson & Paul Gongaware, ICM Partners Visionist (UK) Peter Beer, FMLY Agency WheelUp (UK) André Marmot, Earth Agency
Leading by example Laura Davidson (ex Goldenvoice UK/AEG, All Points East) explains the driving force behind her new female-led live services consultancy, Amigas.
left the UK for Spain and Portugal back in July when everything was so uncertain and we had no idea if and when live events would return. The music industry is usually so fast paced, but because of the pandemic it had ground to a halt. We had cancelled All Points East and were working towards booking 2021, but there were so many factors out of our control that it meant it was almost impossible. After nearly 20 years of working at full speed, I was fortunate to be at a place in my career to be able to have a break – plus I really needed it. I was burnt out, to the point that I was wondering if music was what I wanted to go back to when things eventually start back up again. I was looking at my life and what I wanted my future to look like. Having considered a career change, I realised that music is my passion as well as my job, and it runs too deep for me to do anything else. With the catastrophic events of the past year and the devastating effect it has had on the health and livelihoods of all of those connected to the music and events industries, I was left wanting to do more. I want to find a better way to operate so that we don’t just go back to ‘normal’ when we return. So, I created Amigas; a new live consultancy and events business, one that is kind, and socially and environmentally conscious. I have been told a number of times over my career that I am “too nice.” I feel like we all are going to have to be kind to each other more than ever coming out of this. Let’s be nicer. Amigas is a growing collective of women professionals; we are producers, promoters, curators, and creatives. We want to build back the live sector better and believe that a collaborative and integrated approach with everyone working toward a common goal, in an environment that allows them to reach their maximum potential, is the best way to achieve this. We want to work alongside artists, labels, agents, management, and venues on all their live needs. We offer everything from consultancy and development of strategy; event planning and production; curation and booking; and marketing and promotion. One of the most amazing parts of the job for me, is seeing an artist going from playing in the back room of a pub to sell-
ing out arenas, and being there at every step of the way. We want to help create the next generation of headliners. We are looking at new ways to innovate in the live space, and bring artists and fans together through bespoke events and new tech. We are excited by the endless opportunities and how we can look to futureproof the live music industry. It’s no secret that the live industry is still very much a boys’ club. With Amigas, I want to create a space that supports a new generation of women in live music, as well as nurturing and connecting talent. I have seen so many women come and go from this industry, and I feel that this is because they do not have the right support around them. I also want to make live music more accessible for women from all backgrounds. We need to think about diversity across all intersections; beyond sex and gender, there’s a lot of work to be done to ensure that the industry represents society. During my time away, I briefly lived on a permaculture farm. I’ve always wanted to live a sustainable life, and it left me thinking about the environmental impact of the industry, and even now, how little is being done to rectify this. If I was to return to working on events, I was going to have to ensure they had minimal – or ideally, no – negative impact. Sustainability is absolutely at the heart of Amigas and along with looking at how we minimise our environmental impact, we should also be carbon offsetting all events as standard. I feel lucky to have had the experiences I have over the years. I was the only woman in the room for most of my career, and I’m now in a position to step-up and try to change things for the better. I want other women to have the same opportunities that I did; as a music fan, there is no better job, and by building a more diverse workforce, we are creating a stronger industry. We all have a lot to learn from each other. We need the whole industry onboard and pulling in the same direction in order to turn it around. The terrible events of the last year or so have presented us with an opportunity to change the way we do things, to make this industry that we love fairer, kinder, and more financially secure. It may take us a while to get there, but that is what I hope Amigas will do.
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Running the risk Following the last-minute cancellation of Bluesfest, the Australian Festival Association’s Julia Robinson warns that a lack of government-backed insurance could impact business confidence.
y the time a festival is ready to open gates, up to 70% of its costs can already be spent. While health risks are understandable, they remain uninsurable. Given Australia’s appetite for risk in this pandemic, it means every festival promoter, supplier, and sole trader is sometimes gambling everything on the daily Covid announcements. As we’ve seen, just a single positive test can lead to cancellation. After a year of near-zero income and reserves eaten up by last year’s cancellations and postponements, the risk-versus-reward argument has a clear outcome. It’s risky. One promoter has told the Australian Festival Association that it’s so risky that the company’s board will have their homes on the line to proceed with this year’s show. Cancellation would mean the end of a beloved festival brand paired with the loss of personal assets. Some have pivoted to smaller shows, which carry less risk, but they also receive less income or may only break even. Others might be ‘lucky’ enough to continue hibernating. But at what cost? Will audiences remain loyal? Will they lose their place in the market? Targeted industry funding has been welcomed and has helped, to an extent. Those lucky enough to receive a grant for excess Covid costs (some over 40% higher than pre-Covid) have been able to continue planning events. Funding has also been available to festivals shifting their format to small concert series or digital events. Promoters who continue have been handsomely rewarded for persevering too. Fans want to get out to shows. Consumer confidence is high. It’s great that audiences are keen to come out. Though it begs a number of questions, such as: What happens when consumer confidence is high and business confidence is low? Is that how you get a missed opportunity? At the time of writing, some €3.2billion (or nearly AU$5bn) has been committed in shared risk or insurance schemes across Europe for festivals and live events. The UK industry has been pushing for something too. While shows may be a long way off in some of those markets, planning could continue without as much risk with a cancellation fund.
By comparison, Australia, and more specifically only two states, have implemented a combined AU$17m festival and event cancellation fund. Those states are Western Australia and Tasmania. So far, nothing has been committed for the largest markets on the East Coast. As the industry knows all too well, this is a national ecosystem. Whether you are a solo artist playing locally or a festival promoter touring nationally, everyone is impacted when one part isn’t functioning. Financial ramifications aside, the recent cancellation of Bluesfest had a devastating emotional impact on the industry. We all felt the collective slump of shoulders. The suppliers, crew and vendors who work these shows all know each other from working the same festival circuits. Often, they follow the weather, moving from show to show, as if in migration. For many who work in festivals, it’s more than a job. It is their passion and their community. At times gigs in the festival industry have to be substituted with corporate shows or events. So many do it for love, not for money. Recently, I was reminded of that love when onsite at the first biggish outdoor show I’d been to in well over a year. It was like being home. I knew the promoter, site crew, security, suppliers, venue and staff from my days working the circuits. Trigger warning for those in lockdown or missing physical connection: There were more hugs given and received in the first five minutes than since the beginning of the pandemic. These weren’t polite obligatory greetings either. This was a genuine and joyous reunion that left me giddy. Everyone was excited to be there and talking about other upcoming shows with enthusiasm. It was a few weeks before Easter. Fast-forward to Bluesfest, and I can only imagine the feeling of being onsite when it was cancelled. A far cry from the exuberant homecoming I had witnessed. Sure, an insurance fund doesn’t guarantee these disappointing setbacks won’t happen. We have a long climb out of this pandemic. But if business confidence was increased, there would be more shows in the pipeline. At least that could lessen the blow on an industry whose primary function is to deliver happiness to people.
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On the back of the popular PULSE sessions that took place at ILMC, Mike Malak, who in addition to being a senior agent at Paradigm runs his own label and publishing operations, casts an eye over the technology impacting the music industry.
s the world begins to open up at a steady (or not so steady) pace, the questions around technology and how it will impact the live business when we are back in full swing remains. That being said, the reason we are starting this monthly column is to keep you all informed and up to date as to the changes around technology that may very well become part and parcel of the live industry. Change is real and although there may be some fatigue around live-streams, which dominated much of 2020, it is vital to remember that this technology in itself will become part of how we structure deals and open up new revenue streams for our artists. We must learn, adapt and look to the future. Nobody wants to be the next dinosaur. Never before has it been so vital for an industry to get in the middle of this new opportunity – and indeed view it as an opportunity and not a hindrance. Agents and promoters worldwide have a chance to be part of something new, or face losing out. On a personal level, I see us being at a crossroad and view the impact of technology in the live music industry as a way for us to better ourselves and our business. The pandemic has been devastating to this sector, to put it lightly, and therefore technology, from live-streams to the new excitement around NFT’s, gives us a chance to create new paradigms that I believe can help us give the live industry a cushion should such an event happen again. This is why I feel so strongly and passionately about it all – we must protect and improve our ecosystem. In order to make change, we need to do something that is unheard of in the music industry – work together, putting our individual egos to the side and focusing on how we can create these new models and put live front and centre in artist planning. This column will look into specific market news on a monthly basis and analyse the impact it will have on our business whilst looking at both the pros and cons around each scenario and aim to problem solve. Live-stream is probably not the word on everyone’s lips right now, but I am glad they are present. Not only have they been an
opportunity for artists to have a creative output, but more importantly, as a whole, we have started to shift the conversation forwards when it comes to the public paying for artist content. There should be no shame in artists charging for content that they put time and effort into in the future, as there is no issue in sports and other sectors that charge for content. Therefore, with that in mind, the excitement will be working out how we can incorporate an element of live-streaming into our artist touring in the near future. The live industry has been working on a largely copy/paste model for the last few decades, with artists touring Europe and hitting the “key cities” – but who said this was effective? What if your fans are spread out across a country? How do you reach everyone whilst also building your artists fanbase bigger and truly engaging fans? Geo-locking could be that way forward. Imagine putting on a tour and playing your shows in the usual cities where you expect most traffic and sales but giving fans located in the nearby regions an opportunity to tune in to that show with their friends and family at home at a discounted rate and also allowing them to engage with the artist in some manner, whether through a pre-show element in the dressing room, Q&A sessions or chat rooms with other fans. This opens the door to valuable revenue for artists of all levels through live-stream ticketing income, exclusive merchandise income, tipping, brand deals, virtual meet and greets and more. My concern is, that in conversations I sense people feel this would only apply to artists of a certain level, however, I strongly believe that this model will be key for new bands starting out, and those coming from territories such as North America and Australia into Europe for the first time. As we all know, the pandemic means that most likely touring in the future will become more costly and thus any extra income your act can generate through a few t-shirt sales, livestream access and so on will be valuable to their bottom line. It is our duty as those that defend artist careers to look at how we can both engage their audiences and increase the revenue streams.
Rebecca Travis After 20 years on the road with artists including Florence + The Machine, Ellie Goulding and Arcade Fire, tour manager Rebecca Travis shares the reflections and revelations she’s had during the enforced downtime.
What was the last tour you did before the pandemic took effect in 2020?
I was in Australia with Freya Ridings, and the fear of the pandemic was definitely bubbling. After our second show, in Melbourne on 12 March, we knew we had to get everybody home. We got back and they shut the Australian border shortly after – the timing was so tight. How has lockdown treated you?
My partner and I moved to the Scottish borders and it’s a beautiful part of the world. I’ve been on tour for 20 years and this is the longest I’ve been at home. There are parts of this that are really positive. There were so many years where I decided to have a quiet year but was then offered an amazing opportunity I couldn’t turn down, so the enforced downtime has definitely had positives. But enough already... can we please get back to work now? During lockdown you joined the newly formed Touring Production Group (TPG). Can you tell us more about that?
TPG started as weekly Zooms with production and tour managers (organised and chaired by Wob Roberts) getting together to produce a document on how we might tour post-Covid. It developed into something bigger and subgroups were formed in sustainability, diversity, equity and inclusion; and mental welfare and personal wellbeing. We have now opened up membership and have had a great response from people keen to make positive changes in touring. It’s important that people in this sector support each other and share knowledge and values and ideas about how we can make the industry a better place to be. I really hope when we finally get back on the road that we can actually put these ideas into practice and make a difference. In which areas of touring do you hope TPG will make an impact?
Hopefully, in all of the areas we are working on. For example, sustainability. If we’re all asking venues for certain
things to make the industry greener, hopefully it’ll become the norm to provide them. I think a lot of these changes have to come from the artist and then it’ll just become a part of what we have to do – it’ll be normal to say “we’re not going to do that trip” or “we’ll offset that trip.” We’ve also spoken to agents about routing tours in a greener way, asking that they don’t make us double back on ourselves, but we have to be realistic – post-Covid tour routing will be a challenge for agents. We’ve spoken about sustainability all this time; we have to start now and at least implement small changes and keep the discussions going even when we’re back to work. Have you had any revelations about the way the touring industry operates?
There have been a lot of revelations about the madness of zipping all over the world; moving in ten trucks’ worth of equipment, setting it up for a show and then putting it back in the trucks and moving it to the next place. Perhaps we will see bands adopt a more simple stage set-up, rather than lugging around all these bells and whistles. Also, Covid-wise, are we going to want to have 14 or 16 people on a tour bus? Maybe things will be scaled down a bit when we return. Has the enforced downtime put into perspective just how demanding your job is?
Yes. It would be ideal to perhaps do a little less touring and maybe not take 18 months of solid work at a time. We do long hours on the road – you might get up at six in the morning and might not get back into the bunk until 3 am, and you’re going to do that three times in a row before you have a day off and can collapse in a heap. In the TPG’s mental health and welfare chats, we’re discussing how to make that better, especially because we’ve just had completely different lives throughout the pandemic. We can’t just jump straight back on a bus and do 18-hour days. We’re not match fit. I think, in terms of all these things like mental health and sustainability, it’s about gently easing ourselves back into this. Baby steps.
Feature_NFTs – Ticketing’s Interactive Future?
TICKETING’S INTERACTIVE FUTURE? Non-Fungible Tokens, or NFTs, have been grabbing the headlines over the past few months, and with artists and other sectors of the music industry capitalising on the opportunities, Gordon Masson takes a closer look at the ticketing possibilities.
rt auctions, album launches, video clips, gaming characters, and even historic Twitter tweets have helped to put the concept of NFTs on the map, with hundreds of millions of dollars changing hands already this year for all manner of collectible digital assets. The rush to become a part of this lucrative 21st century phenomena has seen a raft of startup enterprises amassing impressive sums in funding from eager investors, while the publicity that art auctions in particular have enjoyed, has helped NFTs become one of the most searched for terms on Google. As a result, when it comes to leveraging the power of NFTs for ticketing, there is an ever-increasing pool of hopefuls trying to entice artists, venues, event organisers, and established ticket operators to put their faith in the blockchain-based technology. The multinational ticketing giants are cautious. Ticketmaster’s EVP of enterprise and revenue, Brendan Lynch, sums up their view on the use of blockchain-based operations. “Ticketmaster jumped into blockchain early, acquiring Upgraded back in 2018 and furthering our focus in the space through other investments and de-
velopment,” he says. “Blockchain ticketing is still in experimental stages and not yet scalable for broad ticketing delivery but is useful for specific low volume situations. Right now, digital ticketing offers the same level of tokenisation, terms, and security with way more scale – and since less than 10% of tickets get resold, a traditional blockchain still isn’t worthwhile for large on-sales. But our cryptographers and engineers will continue to explore blockchain ticketing delivery to see where it can differentiate and add value in the future.” However, the excitement among those who are helping to develop the NFT ticketing market is palpable and as the myriad applications and transparency that the blockchain can offer become more apparent, investment is flooding in to drive that development – including from the likes of Ticketmaster. One company that has been working with blockchain for the last five years is Netherlands-based GET Protocol, which is also home to in-house ticketing operation GUTS Tickets. “It’s a little bit derogatory to say, but GUTS is sort of our ticket store asset to show what GET Protocol can do,” explains Olivier Biggs, the company’s head of marketing. “All of our tickets are NFTs
NFTs – Ticketing’s Interactive Future?_Feature
Feature_NFTs – Ticketing’s Interactive Future?
“With NFT tickets, I can trade it, but I can also verify that it is a real ticket, and I can control something in a very uncontrolled environment – the resale market” Carolin Wend | Mintbase
and in our international expansion plans we are offering interested parties a white-label solution so that they receive the infrastructure of GUTS and can slap on their own logo and label.” Championing the use of NFT ticketing, Biggs continues, “One of the big benefits is that you can really establish and sustain a connection from the artist or event organiser to the actual fan who shows up at the event. NFT ticketing also offers collectible opportunities, so whereas in the past you would put your event ticket stub on your fridge as a reminder, you can do this digitally by holding your ticket in your online wallet. This can include custom artwork from the artist or contain information about the show or whatever.” Carolin Wend, co-founder and chief operating officer of NFT specialist Mintbase is also bullish about its applications in ticketing. “I have a radical opinion on ticketing,” she tells IQ. “I used to work in ticketing for a company so I know how the business works, but in my opinion there is no innovation happening in the [big] platforms at all – it’s the same thing for the last ten or 20 years: you have a QR code; you go to a festival and someone scans it and you go in. Done. So it’s a one-time, single-use case for tickets – that QR code is used just once, for one purpose. “With NFT tickets, it doesn’t need to be a QR code – your ticket could be a song or a video that is pegged to your smart contract. That’s much more dynamic as a format, but also, you keep it forever – the NFT is an asset that you own. And that is key. With NFT ticketing you can trade it wherever you want, you can gift it to a friend… this is not happening in the current ticketing system because although lots of [companies] have personalised tickets, you don’t really own the ticket because if you look at the definition of ownership it’s something that can be owned and controlled by myself. But if you look at traditional tickets, it’s just a QR code and I don’t really own it. “With NFT tickets, I can trade it, but I can also verify that it is a real ticket, and I can control something in a very uncontrolled environment – the resale market.”
Using cutting-edge technology to disrupt the ticketing business brings with it a different operations model, but intrinsically the two worlds are not that different. “In the world of blockchain, you need verifi-
cation of wallets, so what we do is, instead of it being a hexadecimal, we can verify that Josh Katz and Gordon Masson are friends. So, we can independently buy tickets to a show, but make sure we’re sitting next to each other because we’re verified as friends,” explains Katz, founder and CEO of New York-based YellowHeart, in which Live Nation/Ticketmaster was an early investor. “YellowHeart also has a proprietary moving UPC barcode, which can be set to change from 1-5 seconds so that it cannot be screenshot. We could not have done this without blockchain,” says Katz. “The barcode rotates without connectivity, so you don’t need 5G or Wi-Fi. Since it’s on blockchain, it rotates based on the user’s private key on their device, so this would work for Burning Man or anything else that doesn’t have good connectivity.” GET Protocol’s Biggs notes, “With the tickets being tied to a smartphone, we did not anticipate how big a benefit that would be. But that allows you to know, 100% of the time, who has the ticket, rather than who originally paid for it. The benefits are amazing – you can see who has already shown up to the event and who is running late. We had an event where there was a public transport outage and half of the audience was running late, but the artist was able to send those people specifically a message saying don’t worry, we know you are on the way and we won’t start until you get here. “So you know exactly who you are talking to and you don’t have to fight social media algorithms and hope that you somehow reach the right people.”
While most music fans have a stash of ticket stubs as souvenirs for shows they have attended, those involved in NFT ticketing believe that the collectability element will result in tickets being traded, post-event, between fans. “We have a white-label integrator of the protocol in South Korea, but because we’re sober Dutch people we thought that the collectible thing might be a bit gimmicky and we had doubts about how many people would use it,” admits Biggs. “But in the land of K-pop they know about fandom and the level of involvement that real fans can have; any type of reward or interaction between a fan and the artist is priceless.” Katz is all-in on the collectability angle. Demonstrating the use of artist video content as
the NFT ticket, Katz claims such dynamic technology is far more engaging for fans, and underlines the collectible element. “Essentially, if you go to see a show and you’re one of ten people in the audience to get a special NFT ticket, then that makes those tickets hugely collectible after the show. Plus it’s proof of attendance that you saw your favourite acts play at some tiny venue in, let’s say, London,” says Katz. “The scarcity in the nature of tickets is a business – there are only so many front row seats, for instance.” Programming those tickets with audio or visual add-ons would only enhance their rarity. “These tickets will be worth more after the show than they were before,” claims Katz. “The value-add of this technology is massive.”
One of the much-touted advantages that NFT ticketing offers is its ability to clamp down on secondary ticketing profiteers. That aspect was one of the driving forces behind the launch of YellowHeart. “YellowHeart comes from the fans and was built for fans: its goal is to create frictionless commerce between the fans and the artists,” explains Katz. “I’m religious about the band Phish – I go to every concert. I’m also a huge Yankees fan, but I’m constantly getting ripped off. Spending $1,000 [€829] to take my family to a baseball game was driving me insane. And as a Phish fan, I travel with a large group of fans, some of whom are doctors and lawyers and have well-paid jobs, but tickets are still an issue. I can travel with 20 people but ten do not have a ticket because they are on StubHub for $900 [€746] when the face value is $80 [€66].” Determined to come up with something that could disrupt that status quo, Katz turned to the blockchain and its ability to make transactions transparent, as well as allowing fans to ensure what they are paying for is genuine. “We have full transactional details of every ticket,” says Katz. “11.5% of tickets that get sold through the secondary market are fraudulent. But using the ticket history, or blockchain ledger, fans can see that their ticket was minted by Ticketmaster, for instance, then who it was first sold to and for how much, so they can judge if they’re being ripped off. So NFT ticketing gives the fans authentication and transparency around tickets.” That’s a selling point also highlighted by Liam Boyd, CEO of Music at Bondly, who comments, “NFT tickets are on the open blockchain, which means anyone can see how they are transferred at any time. This in turn allows greater transparency as well as enhanced security resulting in peace of mind for all parties involved. You can also send the holder updates and info through sending additional NFTs.” It’s that final point that sets NFTs apart.
NFTs – Ticketing’s Interactive Future?_Feature
While NFT ticketing requires the audience to, by and large, all be in possession of smartphones, there are procedures to allow others into venues. But more on that later. For those who are in possession of 21st century equipment, assuming the ticket holder has their NFT ticket stored in a digital wallet on their mobile device, the possibilities for communication with them are endless. “It allows the artist to know exactly who attended their concert, and it could also lead to artists rewarding super fans by sending them exclusive content or inviting them for a meet-andgreet and stuff like that,” notes Biggs. Katz says, “Right before the show you can send people a message telling them that you’re going on stage in 20 minutes – you send that through the ticket. Chainsmokers are early partners in the company and one of the things we’ve talked about with them is the ability to send messages out to, say, 20 fans [letting them know] they’re looking forward to rocking out with them next week. That’s where we’re heading with all of this.” So, what about those people who don’t own smartphones? “We’ve been very focussed on having a product that is not just cool technologically, but that can also serve all users,” says Biggs. “In our first year, we did some pilot events with a comedian whose audience is in the older demographic and therefore might not be tech savvy. That was very viable because we wanted to make sure anybody who bought a ticket didn’t have any surprises. “There is always a way to get someone in through customer support. Sometimes people lose their phones on their way to the concert, or they change phones or something. But given that you are already in the system and you have bought a ticket, there are ways to verify your identity at the location.” From YellowHeart’s point of view, Katz notes, “If someone shows up without their device, they can go to the box office with a government-issued ID and our system can verify who they are, allowing them to walk in the door.”
Rules, royalties & revenues
Another unique tool for blockchain-based tick-
eting is the ability for NFTs to be encoded with specific sets of rules, which can benefit both the creator of the ticket and the final user – the fan. Bondly’s Boyd tells IQ, “We have an amazing end to end NFT tech stack, which includes NFT creation, white labelling for music artists and brands, and an NFT swap feature called BondSwap where fans could actually swap their NFT Tickets with each other. We also have an incredibly talented and large creative team who really bring these NFTs to life with art, music, perks and rewards. “Bondly’s NFT ticketing is giving artists and festivals, for example, the opportunity to expand their fans’ experience and interaction with music through unique content, rewards and more. Fans can even receive festival maps or line-up information as the ticket is a world of opportunity.” Katz agrees. “We are able to encode any rule you think of on the ticket. And a rule can go down to a single ticket or a section of the audience – and the artwork can be made specifically for different sections, so the front row tickets can be different from the second row, which helps to make the tickets super collectible. “Rules such as age restrictions, uplift limits for the resale on secondary markets, which can be easily set to zero. Then there’s transferability – you have a lot of tickets that you might not want to be transferred, such as guest list, or you might allow for them to be transferred once. “You can also set limits for the maximum number of tickets a wallet can hold, which can also help eliminate scalping. So, if you set the limit to four tickets, if they tried to buy a fifth, it would be declined.” GET Protocol’s Biggs notes, “There are also lots more technical things that NFT ticketing can do in terms of royalties or residual revenues, where you can programme the tickets so that if they are resold on the secondary market, a certain percentage always goes back to the original artist or event organiser, or both. So without having to police it or organise a whole infrastructure for this, it’s simply programmed that you will automatically receive any residual revenues – so very low effort and very high reward.” Indeed, Wend predicts such applications
Working with Bondly, Lewis Capaldi has released a series of NFT ‘cards’ that gives holders access to his concerts, among other perks
could even help some event organisers to rewrite the ways in which their businesses operate. “What we have developed on Mintbase and the new NEAR blockchain is something we’ve called split revenues and split royalties,” she explains. “That means, when I put an NFT ticket on sale for my festival, for example, Rihanna would get 5% of every ticket sold, David Guetta gets 5% of every ticket sold, another artist gets 2%. At the moment the ticket is sold, the money gets split between the different parties. This is a completely new innovation because it means those artists are stakeholders in the event and they get paid at the ticket sale because it is a peerto-peer system. “It’s a new paradigm of doing ticketing because promoters can say rather than getting paid a few thousand dollars, artists could get a percentage of each ticket sale, giving the artists more incentives and motivation to push the event because they are stakeholders.”
“We had an event where there was a public transport outage and half of the audience was running late, but the artist was able to send those people specifically a message saying don’t worry, we know you are on the way and we won’t start until you get here” Olivier Biggs | GET Protocol
Of course, one of the key selling points for anyone considering trialling NFT ticketing will be the cost of using such a system. Biggs reveals GET Protocol’s pragmatic approach when he observes, “We need to be competitive to provide an alternative to the big ticketing companies.” Others provide greater detail. “Costs depend on which blockchain the NFT company uses, as transaction fees fluctuate all the time,” says Wend. “But minting one NFT is fractions of a cent and creating a shop for Magazine
Feature_NFTs – Ticketing’s Interactive Future? the smart contract is about $40 [€33]. So, for a 5,000-capacity gig, minting the tickets and creating a store would cost about $60-70 [€60-58]. And Mintbase takes 2.5% of every ticket sold.” Comparing YellowHeart’s fees to that of the major ticketing outlets, Katz proclaims, “We’re 10% of the price.” He continues, “Traditional ticketing fees can range between 12% and 47%. YellowHeart is 2.5% to 5%. And that’s only to the seller. Buyers don’t pay fees. “We did not build YellowHeart so that the industry could make more money off the fans. They can if they use it correctly because more fans will attend events and they will want to spend more money. If they’re not being ripped off on tickets, they’ll spend more on concessions and merch and everything else. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been to a show where I’ve spent $600 or $800 on tickets and I’ve said to the people I’m with, let’s go for dinner and they can’t because all of their money has gone on the tickets. That’s the truth of what goes on. “I’m a fan and I’ve sat in the audience with other fans who have been ripped off for years, and I just knew there had to be a better way. So I built this for the fans. Hopefully, the artist will care enough to use it for their fans.” Mintbase’s Wend adds, “Most NFT companies are on Ethereum – we are on Ethereum – but we are now on NEAR Protocol as well, so we are a multi-chain platform. The difference is that on Mintbase and the NEAR blockchain, it’s much more affordable than on Ethereum to mint and trade NFTs. So, it’s cost efficient, but it’s also climate neutral because NEAR uses a proof-of-state mechanism, and not the Ethereum proof-of-work mechanism. So that’s better for the environment.”
While Ticketmaster’s Lynch may be unconvinced about the scalability of blockchain ticketing, the company is still keen to talk up its abilities to provide clients with NFT ticketing options. “Ticketmaster can help provide any artist, team or event with a solution to have their tickets deliver special NFTs,” says Lynch. “NFTs provide immediate benefits to sports and artists by opening up new ways to engage with their biggest fans. For so long a ticket has simply equalled access to an event, but with NFTs it can be so much more. The possibilities are endless, and we are planning some really exciting things.” Bondly’s Boyd is realistic about the prospects for the new format, but he is confident that the benefits will make NFT tickets a huge hit with fans everywhere. “At the moment, the NFT ticket will not replace the traditional ticket, but owning an NFT gives fans many benefits,” he says. “In the short-term, I believe it will be used for intimate live events and [for] welcoming, along-
“I’m a fan and I’ve sat in the audience with other fans who have been ripped off for years, and I just knew there had to be a better way” Josh Katz | YellowHeart
side a traditional ticket, as we at Bondly are using it. In the long-term, it will become the ticket and replace traditional tickets as we know them now,” Boyd forecasts. “At Bondly we are using our place at the forefront of NFT technology to continuously innovate and find new exciting ways to make NFTs more accessible to the masses and really shorten the education journey along the way.” Wend is equally bullish and reveals that Mintbase is currently building a hybrid NFT event for Wilde Möhre Festival, which is held across four weekends in Drebkau, Germany. “We are planning a virtual twin of the festival, but also at the event there will be an NF-Tea House where people can drink tea and create their own ecosystem around NFTs. Every artist who is performing at the physical festival will get the opportunity to sell their own NFTs – tickets, art, whatever,” she says. She adds, “I think traditional ticketing will be replaced by NFTs because it is peer-to-peer and it’s transparent on the blockchain, meaning people cannot be lied to anymore. It’s the future, not only for ticketing, but also for many other digital markets. “2022 will be the big year for NFT ticketing. Wilde Möhre is happening this year but that’s because it’s just 1,000 people at each edition and it’s outside, so it meets Covid rules. That makes it perfect for us to use as a case study and play around with what we can offer. Things will break because it’s a new technology, but we can take those lessons and apply them to other events. In fact, we will be presenting the concept at the Future of Festivals Conference in Berlin in November.” Katz concurs with Wend’s NFT takeover assessment. “In the short-term, I think the incumbent ticketing giants are going to try to do this themselves and fail,” he says. “They are in such disarray trying to get concerts back that I don’t think they are going to pay attention to this. But I think that the fans are going to demand this technology once they use it. “Pre-Covid, YellowHeart had our hands tied. We had a Live Nation/Ticketmaster relationship and there wasn’t much we were able to do outside of that. Post-Covid we’re getting calls from major teams, artists, venues, festivals, you name it, they’ve been calling us because they realise there are better ways to do ticketing and it’s a whole new world now.” Revealing that GET Protocol is already operating in four territories – Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and South Korea – Biggs comments,
“We’re in the sweet spot of having enough experience to know what we’re doing and to bring new technologies to the masses with a framework that people understand and allows them to enjoy events every day. “We were either very lucky or very smart, as we knew that NFTs were going to enjoy a wave of publicity, but we did not quite anticipate how big it would become in the mainstream world all of a sudden. A lot of people come to the conclusion themselves that the stuff in the art world is cool, but what about ticketing?” Biggs concludes, “For NFTs we are at the peak of the hype right now. Everyone wants to do something, whether they understand it or not, but that means it’s also going to have to deflate somewhat, which is also very healthy. “As with the blockchain hype, a lot of people who saw cool ideas in the beginning actually had to make them work. So we’re in for a big unsexy and uninteresting period where people find utility and create it and try to cram it into a market fit and fail miserably before trying again. But hopefully they will come up with some cool things along the way that will actually benefit people. “The interest is there and it has to be on the radars of the bigger players as well who can sense where things are going and will definitely want to be a part of it. It’s very exciting.”
OLIVIER BIGGS | GET PROTOCOL LIAM BOYD | BONDLY JOSH KATZ | YELLOWHEART BRENDAN LYNCH | TICKETMASTER CAROLIN WEND | MINTBASE
HEARBY.COM WANTS YOU BACK IN LIVE MUSIC VENUES
e all miss the thrill of seeing artists and bands in small venues. With the rollout of vaccinations, it’s time to consider how 2021 can be the beginning of the revival of live music. One thing is clear. It will be the smaller, grassroots venues that will lead the comeback, while international touring, stadium events, and massive festivals continue to assess investmentand risks and safety risks, and longer lead times to return. But how can we best find out what’s going on in small local venues around us, or as we start to travel again? The founders of new data company Heraby.com have the answer. Hearby.com is a new local live music discovery platform that aims to cover all venues, large and small. They’ve begun by covering over 6,500 venues in 100+ of the largest metropolitan areas across North America and the UK, and they bring a unique approach. “We aim to cover everything,” says co-founder and serial data entrepreneur Gary Halliwell. “From intimate places like grassroots venues, pubs, reastaurants, and outdoor spaces where music is happening, where there are undiscovered treasures in our music scenes. We want to get just a few more people to a lot more shows by taking out the friction in finding what live music is going on in our amazing and diverse live music scenes as things return. “Before the pandemic, [Hearby co-founder Ian Condry] and I went out to see a lot of live music, and we were always frustrated by how time-consuming and inefficient it is to find all the shows going on around us. “Google’s coverage of events is spotty; Facebook is inefficient for
searching by area; Bandsintown, Songkick and others provide partial listings, but these depend on ticket services or bands uploading info. Hearing a sample of the band is always several clicks away. Local free papers have gone out of business, and even the flagship city newspapers no longer provide listings,” notes Halliwell.
What’s the secret sauce?
“It’s our integration of big data with anthropology that makes us unique,” says MIT professor and Hearby co-founder Condry. “Our foundation is data science. We use
our in-house AI, data extraction. to source, crosss-reference, and clean event data to create the most accurate and largest database of upcoming live music events possible. “We’re powered by the thrill of discovery, the joy of sharing, and the satisfaction of a great night out,” states Condry. His anthropology research focuses on how cultural movements go global from below, in media cultures like Japan where it’s often said the future is already happening. Condry is a media scholar and his research is authored in books about how hiphop took root in Japan and how Japanese animation became a global phenomenon. “It’s small local networks of passionate people that provide the spark that makes new forms of artistry spread and reach new audiences. So many people in the music industry focus on a narrow understanding of scale to mean reaching a huge audience. That’s a backwards-looking approach focus-
ing primarily on what was already successful in the past,” says Condry. “The future is driven by passionate groups at the margins of our awareness,” he adds. “It’s these networks of passion that drive new kinds of scale. And it’s bringing those networks into our awareness that is today’s challenge – a challenge both digital and social.” Halliwell explains, “With Hearby, we’re building a product designed to reach the people who will get their friends off the couch, away from the screen, and out to the lively neighbourhood venues that have been dark through the pandemic. It’s human connection that makes going out to see music so exciting and fun. “With map navigation, power search, and discovery carousels, we want to make it easy and fun to explore local music scenes. When you look at Hearby not only do you see about four times more shows than any other aggregator of up-coming live shows data: you also see new
“It’s our integration of big data with anthropology that makes us unique” Ian Condry | Hearby
pathways to the discovery of live music,” says Halliwell. Technological development is led by MIT alum and seasoned CTO Karen Elliott, who notes that Hearby is also ready for fans to submit their own favorite local venues as well. “Tell us about a venue we don’t have, and we can quickly add it,” she says. “If you want to track and share lists of shows to friends, you can do that, too.” In the coming weeks, Hearby will be rolling out new features to allow users to track and share the shows of their favourite venues and artists that they can share publicly or with friends, and even visitors from out of town. They are also building tools to help the larger mid-portion of the pyramid of venues and artists that make up the bulk of the live music industry reach their fans directly. “We’ve been speaking with venue owners and musicians, and we keep hearing about the frustrations with various services out there, especially the inability to know if I am reaching my followers and fans, or whether I have to keep paying more in the hopes of reaching them,” notes Elliott. Halliwell adds, “We’ve been
getting a strong response in our discussions to partner with news publishers, tourism and travel, music streaming services, and leading brands who want to get behind and support the return to live music.” He concludes, “As we see the proliferation of infotainment screens everywhere, including car dashboards, we see many opportunities to deliver live music event information directly to people in all sorts of settings.” www.hearby.com is the creation of Boston, Massachusetts-based Area4 Labs, which has raised over $3 million to expand it’s AI tools and geographic coverage from seed investors, including Namier Capital and Simon Murdoch – a seed stage investor in Shazam. Hearby currently tracks all the live music going on across 100+ of the largest cities and metro-markets in North America and the UK with European coverage scheduled to start later in the year. The company is working with partners in the news media, travel and tourism sectors who see the value and opportunity in providing this information to readers, guests and users to build community and services to passionate networks of music lovers.
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BUILDING BACK GRE 28
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With the clock ticking on the climate time bomb, a growing number of touring professionals are looking to restart their operations in a more environmentally friendly manner. Jon Chapple speaks to the experts helping the live industry plan for a more sustainable future
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One of few feel-good stories that has emerged from the more than year-long shutdown of nearly all normal life is the perception that the natural world is getting a long-overdue ‘break’ from humanity. Emissions are down across the board, with 2.3 billion tons less carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere in 2020 alone, and the quality of rivers and other large bodies of water has improved: parts of India’s Ganges and Yamuna rivers, for example, have become fit for drinking for the first time in decades. Against the backdrop of such positive developments, as well as a heightened public awareness of the worsening climate crisis, the imminent return of concert touring – with its trucks and planes, its waste and its thirst for energy – could be a turning point for live music’s relationship with the natural environment. This sense that the end of the pandemic is a fork in the road for the industry is heightened by the upcoming 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, which will be the most important global sustainability event since the landmark Paris Agreement was signed at COP21 in 2015. With Earth Day just passed, and COP26 coming into view, will the business decide to draw a line under the bad old days and commit to building a sustainable future, or will the rush to get back to business-as-usual leave environmental concerns in the dust? For tour manager Jamal Chalabi (Bring Me the Horizon), who serves as sustainability facilitator for the UK’s Tour Production Group (TPG), the sacrifices of the past year will have been for nothing if the industry doesn’t use the pause in touring to bring forward positive change on sustainability. Established in summer 2020 by around 60 tour and production managers, the formation of the TPG was driven by a feeling that “it was a really important time for us to come together to press reset,” explains Chalabi. “We looked at all the things that we’d seen that we wanted to discuss and change – that was things like mental health and welfare, diversity and inclusion, and, of course, sustainability.” From the TPG’s conversations with promoters, agents, venues, and vendors, Chalabi says he hopes there is a broad industry consensus emerging about the need to make touring sustainable. “I think people are finally ready for this change,” he continues. “With the way the news is, and what we’re seeing globally, people are finally realising that this is an emergency.” The events of 2020, he adds, have demonstrated that the live industry isn’t divorced from climate change, many of the causes of which – including deforestation and habitat
loss – are believed by scientists to contribute to the emergence and spread of epidemic diseases. “The pandemic has shown that our industry isn’t as resilient as many people thought,” says Chalabi. “We were first to stop working and we’ll be the last back. If we can look at sustainability from a holistic point of view – intelligent spending, wasting less, streamlining our processes and adopting better practices – it will make the live music sector more resilient [to future crises].” Several high-profile artists, notably Ellie Goulding, Massive Attack and Radiohead, have publicly criticised the environmental impact of concert touring – and Coldplay have gone so far as to say they will not tour until it’s possible to do so in a net-positive way – but for many, it’s obvious that real change will need a joined-up, pan-industry approach to the issue. As Massive Attack’s Robert Del Naja said earlier this year, “One band not touring doesn’t change a thing.”
Same old story?
The importance of the TPG’s crusade is illustrated by research that shows the idea of nature being given a chance to recover by Covid-19 ignores the reality in much of the world. According to Conservation International, “there is a misperception that nature is ‘getting a break’ from humans during the Covid-19 pandemic. Instead, many rural areas in the tropics are facing increased pressure from land grabbing, deforestation, illegal mining and wildlife poaching. People who have lost their employment in cities are returning to their rural homes, further increasing the pressure on natural resources while also increasing the risk of Covid-19 transmission to rural areas.
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“Meanwhile, there are reports of increased deforestation in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Illegal miners and loggers are encroaching on indigenous territories, which could expose remote indigenous communities to the virus. Areas that are economically dependent on tourism face reduced resources as tourism has come to a halt, resulting in a rise in the consumption of bushmeat (from wild animals) in Africa. Meanwhile, illegal mining for gold and precious stones in Latin America and Africa is on the rise, as prices spike and protected areas are left unguarded.” Hadi Ahmadzadeh, founder of sustainable nightlife consultancy Ecodisco, says that while a good narrative – nature ‘recovering’ from human impact – is often useful to get people on board with a movement, it can “sometimes hinder you in the long-term.” He continues, “With Covid, yes, there have been less emissions because aviation has almost stopped, but global emissions still hit a record high this year. Also the use of single-use plastics has rocketed, with single-use bans being delayed and the
widespread need for PPE [personal protective equipment]. So there hasn’t been a magic wand. It’s not a template for how we move forward.” According to Moo, the British design and printing business best known for its create-your-own business cards, the mass production of single-use PPE during the pandemic is overwhelming recycling systems, leading to a large proportion of the 129 billion face masks used globally every month ending up in the sea. The company recently partnered with the Ocean Agency, the non-profit creative agency behind projects such as Netflix’s Chasing Coral, to raise awareness of how PPE-derived plastics are exacerbating ocean pollution. “Both reusable and single-use face masks break down into plastic microfibres, which are easily consumed by marine life and enter the food chain,” explains Richard Vevers, founder of The Ocean Agency. “The pandemic’s impact on plastic pollution is a major human health concern and is now under investigation by scientists.” Nor is it sustainable to simply stop doing the things that make us happy, continues Ahmadzadeh: “If you look at the sustainable development goals from the UN, it doesn’t just cover plastic cups and carbon emissions – you’ve got cultural sustainability, social sustainability, people looking after each other, the harmony between races and sexes… everything.” While plastic cups, then, aren’t the be-all and end-all of sustainability, it’s on cups that Ecodisco (which spun out of an earlier eco-friendly party promotion business established by Ahmadzadeh) is currently focusing much of its attention, with plans in the works to bring recyclable, reusable cups targeted at venues to market in the months ahead. “The whole idea of our system,” explains Ahmadzadeh, “is a reusable cup rental service. So, if you’re a venue, we would deliver reusable cups on Friday morning, for example, and
“There’s no time to waste, and so we’re keeping our foot firmly on the (zero-emissions) pedal to make sure our industry steps up to be a positive force to create a future we can all be proud of” Claire O’Neill | A Greener Festival/Green Events & Innovations
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“Both reusable and single-use face masks break down into plastic microfibres, which are easily consumed by marine life and enter the food chain” Richard Vevers | The Ocean Agency
you’d use them Friday night, Saturday night and Sunday day, if you’ve got an event. Then on Monday we’d collect them, take them away to get washed and simultaneously drop off more clean ones for the week ahead. Every week we’d have two or maybe three collections and deliveries, depending on how many cups the venue can store. The goal is to use each cup around 500 times before recycling them.” The Ecodisco system would be funded by a £1 (€1.15) ‘green fee’ for each attendee, with the choice left up to venues as to whether to absorb the cost into the ticket price or levy it on top. “Whether you integrate it into your ticket price or you make a thing out of it to get people on board with the system – which is what we’d recommend – is ultimately irrelevant,” he adds. “The whole point is, it’s funded by event attendees. We want to remove the cost to the venue.” “Sustainability just isn’t enough anymore – we actually need to be regenerative,” says Philippa Attwood, who leads corporate partnerships for Barcelona-based Tree-Nation, which helps corporate clients offset their carbon dioxide emissions by planting trees. “If we just sustain ourselves the way that we are now, that’s actually not good enough. That’s why, in our conversations with clients, we say, don’t just cover up what you’re doing, don’t just offset; reduce the impact as much as possible and then look at how you can be regenerative [ie have a positive effect on the environment].” Like most businesses, Tree-Nation’s plans for 2020 were derailed by the pandemic – it had partnerships with around ten new festivals and live events lined up for the summer and was in conversations with some of the biggest names in
live music about offsetting their emissions – though it continues to work successfully with several events, as well as a large pool of e-commerce partners, and its API is integrated with Eventbrite. Attwood explains: “It could be that you design the event to trigger a tree to be planted every time a ticket is purchased, for example.” Like ECODISCO’s cups, the decision on whether to include the cost of planting a tree – typically between one and two euros – in the ticket price or make it a separate charge, is left up to event organisers and ticketing platforms.
In the green
Whatever the mechanism that promoters and venues use to fund new green policies, research increasingly shows that fans are willing to pay a little extra if they know they are attending a sustainable/regenerative show. “You do get some people who turn around and say, ‘I don’t want to put the extra cost onto my customers,’” explains Ahmadzadeh. “In those cases we turn around and say, ‘Okay, cool, let’s ask your customers!’ Working with industry bodies like Music Venue Trust we have started to send out newsletters with survey links, and so far over 85% of people have said they would be happy to pay the £1 green fee for the cup. So, we can show that to someone who says this isn’t what people want, because we’ve got people saying they’re fine with it!” It’s a similar story in the festival world. According to Ticketmaster’s State of Play 2019 report, which surveyed 4,000 UK festivalgoers following the most recent summer festival season, a growing number of attendees take sustainability into account when buying festival tickets, with almost two thirds saying the reduction of waste is a priority.
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“Looking into the future, it will probably be more damaging for you if you’re not involved in something like [Tree-Nation],” adds Attwood. “If you’re still using throwaway plastics, diesel generators, etc, and all of that is visible, it’s going to make your event less appealing than a rival event that has reusable everything, deals with trash in the right way and has good environmental policies. “So, what I would say to people is to think about the long-term, think about who your target market is and decide whether you want to be part of that positive change.” The economic argument will be key to bring-
ing everyone, particularly those for whom the environment hasn’t been a priority to date, on board with this green new world, suggests Chalabi. “Some people say things like, ‘Sustainability is all well and good, but who’s going to pay for it?’” he explains, “when in actual fact, if we run it right, it will probably cost us less than it did before.” Chalabi cites the example of a recent conversation with a lighting designer, who told him it’s “difficult to spec certain [eco-friendly] lights, because a festival only has so much money in the budget and the lighting company can only afford to rent these fixtures. We turned it around and concluded, ‘If you’re using fixtures that cost more money but are using less power, then you’re saving money on the power bill.’ It’s really about stepping back and seeing the bigger picture. Yes, it’s going to cost you a little bit more on the lights, but you’re going to save 95% on your bill.” As time goes on, he continues, “all these little things will become like second nature. And that’s what we’re trying to educate people about. It’s amazing, for instance, how many vendors we’ve gone to asking if there’s a sustainable option on a certain product, and there is – but nobody’s ever asked for it. A lot of production managers have been doing the same thing for years and years, so they’re going to keep on doing it the same way unless they know there are other choices.” On the artist side, meanwhile, the world’s biggest tour promoter, Live Nation, is seeking to educate its clients about the options available with its new Green Nation Touring Program [sic], which it hopes will help musicians and their teams develop sustainable tours after live music returns. The Program [sic], part of the Green Nation initiative launched in 2019, will advise Live Nation-promoted artists on how to adopt eco-friendly touring practices that “prioritise people and planet,” according to the company – including in tour planning, production and sourcing. “Live Nation has the opportunity and the responsibility to provide artists and fans with live music experiences that protect our planet,” said Michael Rapino, LN’s president and CEO, on Earth Day. “We’re inspired by artists who are continually pushing for greener options, and as we develop those best practices the Green Nation Touring Program will help make them standards in the industry, so collectively we can all make the biggest impact possible.” Magazine
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Regardless of the efforts of individual companies, trade associations such as A Greener Festival and the TPG will be crucial to securing any pan-industry consensus on environmental standards, and Chalabi says it’s been “a joy bringing people together” on the TPG’s bi-weekly calls. “We have the heads of sustainability for AEG and Live Nation on a call, and it’s so refreshing because it’s a recognition that climate change won’t recognise borders – we’re all in this together.” The spirit of collaboration is behind AGF’s decision to run a second edition of its Green Events and Innovations Conference (GEI) in 2021, following the most recent event ahead of ILMC on 2 March. This one-off, late-summer GEI will build on the momentum of March’s GEI 13 “towards not just rebuilding but becoming a regenerative force for our sector and all of the people it reaches,” explains AGF co-founder Claire O’Neill. “We intend to set an example that we, the creative and cando organisations and individuals, are leading the way, and the future that we want to co-create is fully within our grasp,” says O’Neill. “There’s no time to waste, and so we’re keeping our foot firmly on the (zero-emissions) pedal to make sure our industry steps up to be a positive force to create a future we can all be proud of.” In the US, the Touring Professionals Alliance is “on the same page” as the TPG, according to Chalabi, while in Scandinavia, the Norwegian Live Music Association recently teamed up with other industry bodies to launch Norway’s first ‘green roadmap’ (grønt veikart) as a resource for live entertainment professionals who wish to reduce the environmental impact of their work. Speaking at the launch of the veikart, the association’s general manager, Tone Østerdal, explained: “Most people do not
associate the cultural sector with climate and sustainability, but we have a great responsibility. The purpose of preparing this green roadmap is both to become better yourself, and to inspire others to contribute to solving the climate challenge.” According to Attwood, it’s a misconception that concert touring will need to be scaled back to minimise its environmental impact – sustainable tours needn’t mean smaller tours, just cleverer ones, she says. “A lot of industries are looking at their supply chain and asking how they can do things better, whether it’s using electric cars instead of those that run on gasoline or sourcing products locally instead of shipping something in from China,” explains Attwood, suggesting a similar model can easily be applied to live entertainment.
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For those aspects whose impact can’t be reduced further, that’s where offsetting comes in, she continues: “For example, you have 100 tonnes of CO2 you can’t get rid of, but you can plant 1,000 trees, and you can make a commitment to cleaning up the ocean, so indirectly you are compensating for what you’re doing. And it’s possible to give back more than you’re actually taking, so you’re being regenerative: You could generate two tonnes of trash at your festival but fully recycle it, then pick two tonnes of trash out of the ocean, and you’re doing more.” While under no illusions about its urgency, noting that “we have ten years to get this right,” Chalabi is upbeat about the live business’s ability to meet the climate challenge that lies ahead. “I think compared to all the industries out there, we touch on so many different economies – whether it’s from the travel sector to the freight sector, to power to audio to lights, you name it – we touch absolutely everything. And the fact that we also reach out to so many people because of the medium that we’re involved in, our artists and the people that we produce, we have a huge voice. “That voice can change the way the globe feels, and I think we underestimate that power. Which is why we need to make sure our back stage is clean.”
“Climate change won’t recognise borders – we’re all in this together” Jamal Chalabi | Bring Me the Horizon/Tour Production Group
GEI Summer Edition The Green Events and Innovations Conference (GEI), the leading conference for sustainability in the international events sector, has announced the launch of a special GEI Summer Edition to take place on 16 September 2021. Launched on Earth Day (22 April), the new event follows this year’s 13th edition that took place in March. The decision to host a second edition in 2021 reflects the doubling of efforts to create a greener events industry post-Covid-19, according to organisers. The GEI Summer Edition takes place just two months prior to COP26 (the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference). Conference topics are expected to include social justice; biodiversity; clean air and water; healthy soils; wellbeing and mental health, as well as exploring how events and tours can make positive impacts through their design, energy, purchases, water, sanitation, materials, and food and drink. Previous editions of the event have welcomed speakers including Nuno Bettencourt (Extreme), Dale Vince (Ecotricity/Forest Green Rovers), Emma Banks (CAA), Tom Schroeder (Paradigm), Fay Milton (Music Declares Emergency), Alex Hardee (Paradigm), Patricia Yague (Live Nation), Adam Pearson (O2 Arena/ AEG), Mark Stevenson (ClientEarth/ MoD), Bob Wilson (Greenpeace), Niclas Svenningson (UNFCCC), and Virginijus Sinkevičius (European commissioner for environment, oceans and fisheries).
Feature_Building Back Greener
Natural Resources Inspired to go green but still not sure where to start? Meet some of the organisations offering practical steps to ensure touring doesn’t cost the Earth. AUSTRALIA Sustainable Event Alliance Sustainable-event-alliance.org Based in New South Wales but with partners all over the globe, the Sustainable Event Alliance (SEA) unites live events professionals who are focused on improving the sustainability of the sector. In addition to its online knowledge bank, the SEA’s activities include accrediting sustainability professionals, helping events become greener, and providing spaces for networking and discussion. GERMANY GO Group Go-group.org Green Operations Europe, known as GO Group, is a pan-European think tank that aims to inspire industry professionals to make their operations greener, smarter, and more sustainable. Initiated at the first International Green Events Conference in Bonn in November 2010, as a joint initiative of Yourope (the European Festival Association), Bucks New University in the UK, and Jacob Bilabel and Holger Jan Schmidt’s Green Music Initiative, the organisation connects festivals with scientists and environmental initiatives; delivers workshops and contributes to panel discussions; organises festival field trips; and helps certify Yourope’s member festivals as Clean’n’Green, among other activities. THE NETHERLANDS Green Events International Greenevents.nl Formed in 2014, Green Events works with Dutch and international partners to share knowledge, resources, and best practice for event organisers, artists, suppliers, vendors and more. Its areas of focus include water, energy, transport, and waste, with past projects having included the Plastic Promise, which saw leading festivals commit to eliminating single-use plastics, and ADE Green, a ‘green deal’ for European festivals launched at Amsterdam Dance Event 2019.
NORWAY Greener Events Greener-events.com Greener Events, in full the Greener Events Foundation, was established in 2009 by international snowboarding ace Terje Håkonsen, and businessman and philanthropist Jan Christian Sundt. Offering environmental consultation and expertise in making events sustainable, Greener Events has worked with events including Tons of Rock, Øya Festival, Hove Festival, and Way Out West in Sweden, and consulted for Yourope and the European Festival Association. UNITED KINGDOM A Greener Festival Agreenerfestival.com A Greener Festival (AGF) is a non-profit organisation dedicated to improving the sustainability of the events sector. In addition to its annual Green Events and Innovations Conference – which returns for a special summer edition on 16 September – AGF provides certification, training, CO2 analysis, and consultation for organisers, venues, tours, artists, festivals, sports, suppliers, and local authorities for all event types internationally, and also presents the annual International AGF Awards. LIVE Green Livemusic.biz Chaired by John Langford, COO of AEG Europe, LIVE Green is one of four newly formed specialist subcommittees for Live music Industry Venues and Entertainment (LIVE), the umbrella organisation representing 13 UK live music industry associations. Bringing together the leading sustainability practitioners across the sector to produce a single environmental vision for live music, it sits alongside LIVE Touring, LIVE Venues, and an as-yet unnamed group focusing on diversity and inclusion. SiPA Sipa.global Sustainability in Production Alliance (SiPA) is a global association of individuals and organisations across the production sector, including stage managers, manufacturers, tour & production managers, venues, producers, engineers, and technicians, who are working towards creating a sustainable future for the industry and a ‘triple bottom line’ of people, planet, and profit. It offers a range of resources free of charge to industry professionals, including ‘ten easy wins’ that can be implemented as a starting point today.
HADI AHMADZADEH | ECODISCO JAMAL CHALABI | BRING ME THE HORIZON/ TOUR PRODUCTION GROUP PHILIPPA ATTWOOD | TREE-NATION CLAIRE O’NEILL | A GREENER FESTIVAL/ GREEN EVENTS & INNOVATIONS TONE ØSTERDAL | NORWEGIAN LIVE MUSIC ASSOCIATION RICHARD VEVERS | THE OCEAN AGENCY
TO K ER IC ST CL GI RE
THE LEADING INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE FOR SUSTAINABLE EVENTS, GREEN EVENTS & INNOVATIONS (GEI), RETURNS FOR A SPECIAL SUMMER EDITION
ONLINE THURSDAY 16 SEPTEMBER www.agreenerfestival.com/gei • email@example.com
“What’s been your biggest culinary triumph during lockdown?”
We established Veganistra (www.facebook.com/Veganistra). It’s not a business, it’s more of a social project to show the world lots of plant-based deliciousness, and the impact this kind of lifestyle has on a person. We accept donations, but it is not real kitchen – you are basically visiting us in our home and we cook for you (and whoever you bring with you). We’re also really happy if someone brings something in exchange. We’ve had a lot of homeless people, who had nothing, come for lunch or dinner, and months later they brought us some apples they found, or just made us a painting, or whatever… it’s a great thing. Nika Brunet & Boban Milunović, Music Holiday
I’ve actually gone a little bit further with my culinary experiments… I’m currently in Switzerland studying to become a pastry chef! Stefan Juhlin | Pitch & Smith I actually wrote a very popular Facebook post on my quarantine culinary creations (facebook. com/semyon.galperin). This dish was crayfish, and I obviously serve them with beer! Not too much culinary art in this one, you just boil ‘em… Semyon Galperin | Tele-Club Having been brought up in a family of bakers, I’ve been baking since I can remember. I used to take fresh dough from my grandad’s bakery to bring home and make little bread rolls with, it was always so exciting. I had only just started working at Indigo at The O2 when lockdown hit us, and I had to channel both the excitement and the frustration somehow. Baking quickly became my main outlet and I started baking surprise cakes for my friends, as the idea of bringing happiness to peo-
One of Nika and Boban’s delicious Veganistra dishes
ple is one of my drives in life. It didn’t take long until I decided to try and turn it into a small business, which has kept me very busy, especially until before the last lockdown, since I was baking for a local café, as well as taking custom orders. Although this will never replace my love for my job in the music industry, it has definitely helped keep me afloat during such a weird time. I’ll be looking forward to gifting random cakes to my friends and colleagues once we’re back. Angela Curiello | Indigo at The O2 The recipe for my grandmother Carla’s rabbit: one rabbit cleaned and cut into pieces; 100g lardons; 10 small silver-skin onions; 30g butter; 1 tablespoon flour; 2 cloves garlic; a bay leaf and lots of thyme and parsley; 1 glass dry white wine; 150g white or any chanterelle mushrooms. Put the diced bacon in a casserole with butter and brown it. Peel the onions, leave them whole, and add them. When all is well browned, set aside. In the same casserole, brown the rabbit then
spread the tablespoon of flour and stir thoroughly. Add the remaining ingredients and salt and pepper and simmer gently for one hour. Chop the mushrooms, add them to the casserole and cook for a further 15 minutes. Philippe Tassart | Ginger Lately, we have been cooking paella at home. Sophie has mastered her skills in cooking paella, while my latest is prawns wrapped in seaweed, slightly buttered, tempura style, and sprinkled with sea salt and matcha. Our culinary journey continues! Oleg Gaidar (& Sophie Amable) | World Touring Artists Consulting Sausage sandwich made with Beyond Sausages and ketchup – so good that even the most determined carnivore can’t tell the difference. Plus, they use 99% less water than the meat equivalent, so are much better for the environment; contain no nitrates or hormones; and no one died. Mooncat | ILMC
Stefan’s pastry skills have been taken to a new level thanks to his enrolment at the Culinary Arts Academy in Lucerne
Sophie’s seafood paella is a thing of beauty
Philippe’s Lapin Carla
Angela’s bakery heritage has seen her spending more time in her Happy Go Baking kitchen during lockdown
Semyon’s Facebook page includes this fabulous crayfish creation, served with ice-cold beer
Mooncat’s meat-free sausage sarnie
Oleg has been honing his sushi credentials in recent months
92 An ILMC Publication SEPTEMBER 2020 | £25 | €25
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