IQ Live Music Intelligence
Live Music Intelligence March 2010, Issue 28
John Giddings profiled Voyage of
ILMC 22 panels revealed Northern
Nordic market focus European
The big rooms bust recession
March 2010, Issue 28
Sounding out the future with our panel of industry experts The Performance the Chicken; the Recording the Egg: Chuck D The Fountain of Youth: Rob Light The Bridge to Normal Life: Chris Difford Giving Up the Road: Andy Edwards
Issue 28, March 2010
News 8 In Brief The main headlines over the last two months 10 In Depth Key stories from around the live music world 14 The Merger Live Nation and Ticketmaster get the go ahead
22 Voyage of Discovery Details of ILMC 22 revealed 28 2020 Vision A cross-industry glimpse into the decade ahead 36 The Soloist John Giddings: International Agent of the Decade 62 Euro Arenas Report 2010 Attendance is up at recession-defying arenas 70 Northern Rock Nordic live music market weathers the chills
28 Cover Story
Comments and Columns 16 The Performance, the Chicken... Chuck D writes exclusively about what live means to Public Enemy 18 The Fountain of Youth Don’t sweat the small stuff, argues CAA head Rob Light 19 The Bridge to Normal Life Songwriter Chris Difford calls for a safety net on the road
20 Meeting Their Needs Håkan Durmer turns off his PC and goes back to basics 21 Giving Up the Road Andy Edwards on steering clear of traditional touring 82 Insight AEG Europe CEO David Campbell on building on The O2’s success
84 In Focus Eurosonic rocks, Midem and The Brits 86 Your Shout All aboard the time machine...
A Season of Change Greg Parmley on more than one recent metamorphosis in the live music business...
THE ILMC JOURNAL Live music intelligence March 2010, Issue 28 IQ Magazine 2-4 Prowse Place, London, NW1 9PH, UK firstname.lastname@example.org www.iq-mag.net Tel: +44 (0)20 7284 5867 Fax: +44 (0)20 7284 1870 Publisher ILMC Editor Greg Parmley Associate Editor Allan McGowan Marketing & Advertising Manager Terry McNally Sub Editor Michael Muldoon Production Assistant Adam Milton Editorial Assistants Emelie Swerre Sarah Frankel Contributors Lars Brandle, Chuck D, Chris Difford, Håkan Durmer, Andy Edwards, Emmanuel Legrand, Rob Light, Melinda Newman, Manfred Tari & Adam Woods Editorial Contact Greg Parmley, email@example.com Tel: +44 (0)20 7284 5867 Advertising Contact Terry McNally, firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: +44 (0)20 7284 5867 Design & Production Martin Hughes, Dan Moe email@example.com www.oysterstudios.com
elcome to the new look IQ Magazine. On reaching our fifth birthday and as we’re beginning to record some fairly substantial readership figures, we decided it was time to give IQ something of a makeover. I hope you like the new pages, which we’ve tried to make cleaner, more professional and above all, more engaging. Not unlike the direction that the live music industry is heading itself. With print and online, every issue of IQ now reaches 20,000 live music professionals around the world, and there are many more developments planned over the coming months. While the relaunch has kept us busy, developments outside of IQ Towers have also been keeping us occupied. In fact, if the rest of the decade continues at the pace of the first two months of 2010, we’re in for a rollercoaster ride over the next few years. Top of the headlines, of course, is the long anticipated Live Nation/ Ticketmaster merger that has finally got the go ahead (albeit apart from the UK’s Competition Commission which is taking dithering to new heights). Many pundits are predicting an unsettled year as the business adjusts, and more than a few eyeballs will be focussed on whether or not LNE’s new chiefs come good on their word
to improve consumer experience and benefit the business as a whole. There’s certainly no shortage of topics to discuss at ILMC this year, and if you’re reading this at the conference, welcome aboard. As ever, what makes ILMC is the participation of all involved, so please do catch a session or two and add your opinion to the mix – you can find full details of ILMC panels on pages 22-27. Also in this issue we ask a group of experts for their predictions on the coming decade (page 28); our annual European Arena Report turns up some recession-busting figures (page 62); Adam Woods takes a trip to the Nordic live music market (page 70); and last but certainly not least, we crown John Giddings ‘International Agent of the Decade’ (page 36). With contributions from Chuck D, David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Michael Rapino, Arthur Fogel, Suzanne Vega, Chris Difford, Louis Walsh and many more industry stars and leading lights, I think this is our best magazine to date, and I’d love to know whether you agree. Please get in touch – firstname.lastname@example.org.
To subscribe to IQ Magazine: +44 (0)20 7284 5867 email@example.com Annual subscription to IQ is £50 (€60) for 6 issues.
Below: Beyoncé Top Right: Stefan Lehmkul Middle Right: Ben Hur
As part of the IQ relaunch, the In Brief page has been introduced to give readers a summary of the key news and events that have occurred between issues. And the start of this year has already seen a flurry of announcements, including – of course – the unfolding saga of the Live Nation/Ticketmaster merger...
• The UK’s Competition Commission takes an about turn on a preliminary ruling, clearing the proposed merger between Live Nation and Ticketmaster. • German ticketing company CTS Eventim signs a deal with Zurich-based media company Ringier to establish a joint venture in Switzerland. • World Awards Media, the Austrian events company tasked with organising Jermaine Jackson’s failed tribute to his brother Michael in Vienna, is placed into liquidation. • Promoters of travelling hard rock festival Sonisphere announce new 2010 events in Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Greece, Poland, Romania and Turkey.
28 June) in Munich. • Dutch promoter Willem Venema sets up new firm Double Vee after his previous company, The Alternative, is wound up when his major shareholder collapsed with debts of €26m. • German ticketer CTS Eventim challenges the UK Competition Commission’s ruling to allow the Live Nation/Ticketmaster merger, saying it was not allowed a fair hearing.
• A freak electrical storm on New Year’s Eve forces the last day of Australia’s Pyramid Rock Festival to be cancelled. • UK retailer HMV acquires a 66% majority shareholding in promoter and venue firm Mama Group, building on a previous JV with its venues arm in which HMV invested £18.2million (€21m). • Ministers in France are said to be seriously considering taxing ISPs’ advertising revenues and using the income to develop legal online outlets for music, books and films. • Austrian promoters Harry Jenner, Richard Hoermann and Ewald Tatar form Nu Coast, a JV to share back-office resources and seek possible synergies. • While music trade fair Popkomm announces it will return in 2010, Hamburg’s Reeperbahn (23-25 Sept.) steps up the competition by announcing a content collaboration with C/O Pop (22-
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• A trend that probably won’t catch on in the West, two Chinese singers are caught lip synching at a concert in Sichuan and both fined CNY80,000 (€8,500). • Australian Arts Minister Pete Garrett outlines plans for a law to force international artists performing in venues over 4,000-capacity to include domestic acts on the bill. • The US Justice Department clears the merger between Live Nation and Ticketmaster Entertainment, forming the world’s largest live entertainment company. (See page 14.)
• Venue operator SMG wins a 12-year contract to operate the Wroclaw Stadium (cap. 44,000) in Poland, set to open in time for the 2012 European Soccer Championships. • Chicago-based The Windish Agency opens a New York office, with staff including Mike Mori, who was formerly at The Agency Group. • A 37-year-old man dies when a steel entrance to Sangam Festival in Umm Al Quwain near Dubai collapses on him, also injuring three others. • Paul Bolton and Adam Saunders are the latest agents to depart UK firm Helter Skelter to join X-Ray Touring. Their move follows agent Paul Franklin’s departure to CAA in October. • Three former employees of Ticketmaster-owned fan services company Echo form Rockhouse Partners, a Nashville-based digital marketing firm. • Beyoncé Knowles wins six Grammys at the annual US music awards show, more than any woman on a single night in the 52-year history of the awards. • Universal Music-owned company Bravado inks new merchandising deals with Rihanna, Mariah Carey, Alicia Keys and Whitney Houston for their forthcoming campaigns. • Live Nation partners with Wal-Mart to sell tickets in 500 of its North American stores. • Universal Music Group parent Vivendi promotes Lucian Grainge to CEO, as Doug Morris moves to become chairman of the company. • In its second about turn of the merger, the UK’s Competition Commission will reopen its investigation of Live Nation and Ticketmaster, reversing its decision for the second time. (See page 14.)
Family Shows Suffer
Two high profile family shows have gone bust in Germany, leaving tens of thousands of ticket buyers out of pocket and taking down the companies that staged them. Art Concerts has filed for insolvency after cancelling four rescheduled Ben Hur dates in February and April, and Prime Time Entertainment AG (PTE), wound up earlier this month after its production, India, suffered from slow ticket sales. The brainchild of Art Concerts’ owner Franz Abraham, Ben Hur premiered at London’s The O2 in September last year, but the company filed for bankruptcy after cancelling dates in Gelsenkirchen and Vienna. While Abraham plans to reschedule them in April and May with a new company, the 25,000 ticket
holders for the German shows have little chance of a refund as any remaining company money has been handed to the liquidator. While specific losses on Ben Hur have not been revealed, PTE – founded by Matthias Hoffmann in 2007 – is understood to have invested €7million in India, which debuted in Frankfurt in December. PTE hired more than 70 Indian acrobats and accommodated the revue in a circus tent but all dates have now cancelled and the acrobats have returned home. The news comes at the same time as Stage Entertainment announced that it would cease promoting musical productions in their venue Colosseum in Essen from July. The company claims that it is no longer able to run shows profitably at the venue.
Melt! Makes Moves
Featuring electronica artist Paul Kalkbrenner, Melt! director Stefan Lehmkuhl hopes to sell 10,000 tickets in the first year. “We have a lot of these parties in Berlin which are all day on Sunday, but nobody does it in East Germany,” he says.
German Booking and promotion company Melt! is adding a one-day festival and a series of new club events to its calendar, with staff numbers having nearly doubled in the last year. July’s annual Melt! Festival is now a regular on the summer circuit, and organisers will be using the same venue – the Ferropolis in Gräfenhainichen – for Melt! Picknick on 30 May.
“We have a lot of these parties in Berlin which are all day on Sunday, but nobody does it in East Germany.” As well as a series of new club nights across the country, Melt! is also launching Klub Weekender in Berlin in May, a pre-party for the 20,000-capacity Berlin Festival (10-11 September). The indoor festival has shifted dates this year to form part of Berlin Music Week (6-12 September) that also includes trade fair Popkomm.
TicketsNow Fallout Begins
Round Two for Perth Southern hemisphere and music industry event One Movement For Music Perth returns for its second edition from 6-9 October, and organisers are expecting up to 800 delegates will attend. A collaboration between Eventscorp, Chugg Entertainment, Sunset Events, A&R Worldwide and The City of Perth, One Movement will feature nine showcases and a two-day outdoor
festival, alongside a series of 30 music industry panels. The 2009 event attracted 600 delegates and speakers included Coldplay manager Dave Holmes, songwriter Dianne Warren and Sire Records’ Seymour Stein. 2010 speakers will be announced next month. “There is no particular theme, but there is a killer line-up of speakers,” says Sunset Events’ Georgina Moore.
The long feud between Ticketmaster’s resale arm TicketsNow and Bruce Springsteen may have been finally settled, but it could spell much tougher times for other US secondary sellers. At the request of the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Ticketmaster has agreed to refund thousands of fans who bought tickets for 14 Springsteen shows last February via TicketsNow. The FTC received hundreds of complaints when consumers were automatically redirected from the parent company’s site. The FTC has lambasted TicketsNow for selling “phantom tickets”, and subsequently issued a warning letter to all major resellers cautioning that if
they fail to disclose whether tickets are not “in hand”, they “may violate the law.” Likewise, a similar fate belies companies who fail to make clear distinction between being a resale site as opposed to a primary outlet. “TicketsNow.com sold phantom tickets without letting consumers know that the tickets did not exist. Then, the company held onto consumers’ money, sometimes for months, when it knew those fans weren’t going to see Springsteen,” said FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz in a statement. “Clearly consumers deserve better. They deserve to know what they’re buying, including the risk that their tickets won’t materialize.”
Prodiss Calls on Sarkozy French concert promoters have called upon the country’s highest authority to deliver a series of measures that they believe would benefit the whole business. In an open letter to the French president, promoters’ association Prodiss, which represents some €450 million of revenues, asked Nicolas Sarkozy for an urgent implementation of measures to support the live music sector. The outburst was prompted by the publication, in early January, of a Sarkozycommissioned report aimed at supporting the creative economies in the new digital environment, which was dismissed by Prodiss as “complete emptiness”; the body also claims the document ignores promoters
One of the UK’s leading crowd management specialists has warned that London’s 2012 Olympics could lead to standards being lowered and the security industry devalued. Many of the 6,000 stewards required to staff the games will be recruited via local colleges, and Mark Harding at Showsec International is concerned that pressures of finance and time will lead to concessions in training. entirely. The association is “We want to be sure that lobbying for a tax credit for there are no concessions promoters; the creation of a given for a three-week event ‘neighbouring right’ so they that could have an enormous can share in revenues from impact on the rest of the the filming and broadcast of industry for a long time,” he concerts; freer international says. “I am concerned that mobility for artists; and the legacy of the games will be streamlining of employment diminished safety standards inside the industry.” legislation for artists.
No Love for Parade
Germany’s open-air dance event Love Parade is struggling to find a home as scheduled stops in its five-year Ruhr District plan refuse to accommodate it. This year’s event, due to take place in Duisberg, is in jeopardy due to the €860,000 cost of preparing the site at a former freight yard. The city
Olympic Standards Questioned
has been due to share some of the expense with parade promoter LopaEvent but the SPD (social democrats), FDP (liberals) and the Linke (leftwing) will vote against funding the event. The festival and parade left Berlin in 2006 and moved to the Ruhr District in Western Germany,
Organisers are six to twelve months from appointing an official security provider, but Harding – who coordinated security for the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester – is also concerned that special dispensation will be given to allow inadequately qualified staff to fulfil stewarding roles. This is not the first time the Olympics has been accused of double standards by the industry, and promoters have already spoken out against the games being designated a Crown Jewel event, which prohibits all ticket resale, while the UK Government has consistently refused to act on secondary ticketing.
where it intended to move to a different town in the district each year. Successful editions were staged in Essen in 2007 and Dortmund in 2008 (attracting 1.2 million and 1.6 million respectively), but the July 2009 edition in Bochum was also cancelled when LopaEvent were unable to agree a route with the city council. Right: President Nicolas Sarkozy Above: Love Parade in Essen
AIF Members Get Hitched Temporary wedding chapels are a common sight at festivals these days, but now the events themselves have started to get hitched as the UK’s Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) has launched a new initiative to twin its members with likeminded events abroad. Based on the twin-towns concept, participating festivals will help promote each other’s festivals locally; take part in talent exchange programmes and help coordinate bookings of international acts; and stimulate investment from local authorities. UK festivals that have already signed up to the scheme include Bestival, which has twinned with Melt! in Germany, Summer Sundae Weekend with Bergenfest in Norway, Field Day with Øya Festival in Norway, Glade Festival with Symbiosis Gathering in the US, and Standon Calling with Calvi On The Rocks in France. As part of the initiative, festivals will post reciprocal links on their websites, and include the name of their partner event on all flyers, PR and marketing material. And whichever twin sells out first will help promote the other through available media channels. AIF co-founder and Coda Agency head Rob Challice says: “I’m hoping that our members will end up learning more about the skills of their peers in Europe. I’m hoping to have 12-15 AIF members twinned by mid-April and the sky’s the limit really; it just takes enthusiasm of the creatives at festivals to come up with ideas.”
Paris – City of Boredom? and harassment from local residents is ruining the French capital’s nightlife. The coalition – which includes live music organisations,
“How can you run a place if every night the police have to visit you after complaints from residents?”
The ‘City of Light’ is in great danger of becoming “boring Paris” according to a group of entertainment businesses owners, who claim that draconian noise and safety regulations,
discotheques owners, bars and restaurants – has signed a petition to alert the mayor of Paris that the city he runs faces the risk of losing its appeal to the likes of Berlin, London or Barcelona. “There is a real problem,” says Marie-Josée Sallabert, deputy director of Irma, the Paris-based information centre. “Residents complain
about noise, and the local mayors in Paris’s twenty districts push the agenda of the residents. And when there are complaints, the police have to act. How can you run a place if every night the police have to visit you after complaints from residents?” Jules Frutos, president of Prodiss and operator of the 1,000-seat venue Bataclan confirms that complaints from residents could see some establishments closed down. “I even have people complaining about the noise made by the public waiting in line to get into the venue before a concert!” he says. “What do they want me to do? Could we have a little bit of common sense?”
Gudinksi Eyes Outdoors As Michael Gudinski’s Frontier Touring Company celebrates its 30th year in business, the Australian entrepreneur is eyeing a return to Australia’s festival market. “Australia still doesn’t have many sleepover festivals. That’s the gap in the market,” says Gudinski, who is tentatively planning to establish a multidate fest toward the end of 2010, or early 2011. Australia’s festival scene is a vibrant, lucrative one. The Big Day Out recently shifted an estimated 335,000 tickets across seven Australasian dates, and the Creamfields brand will arrive Down Under this May, but the circuit is not well-stocked with multi-day festivals. Frontier Touring and Goldenvoice had come close to striking a deal that would bring Coachella to Australia, but those plans were put
on ice when the worldwide recession bit. “Festival involvement is one area that has been missing from Frontier,” Gudinski says. “That’s a move towards the future, and it’s something we’re looking at quite closely at the moment.” Frontier Touring has tried its hand at the festivals game before. Back in 1995, it teamed up with Michael Coppel Presents to create the
“Festival involvement is killer bill, which included one area that has been Faith No More, Nine Inch missing from Frontier.” Nails and Lou Reed, could keep the festival afloat and ill-fated Alternative Nation, an estimated A$2million a three-city fest envisaged (€1.3m) was washed away. As previously reported in as a rival to Ken West and Vivian Lees’ Big Day Out. IQ, Michael Coppel has also However, constant rain announced his own plans to turned Alternative Nation re-enter Australia’s festival into ‘Mudstock’, and sank any market, having severed ties plans to revive it. Not even a with the annual V Fest. Top Middle: Jules Frutos Above: Michael Gudinski
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Two Become One
Live Nation Ent. Goes Ahead
Live Nation andTicketmaster have been formally christened Live Nation Entertainment (LNE), after the US Department of Justice (DoJ) approved the merger on 25 January, although the combined company may want to wait a little longer to uncork the champagne. After initially permitting the marriage, the UK’s Competition Commission reopened its inquiry on 11 February after CTS Eventim complained that it had not been allowed to comment on the decision. CTS Eventim, which provides ticketing services for Live Nation in several European territories, and powers Live Nation Tickets in the US, launched in the UK market in late 2009. The Competition Commission will announce its new ruling no later than 11 May. Following the DoJ approval, LNE announced its new structure: Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino will serve as CEO/president of LNE; and Ticketmaster CEO Irving Azoff will be executive chairman of LNE and CEO of Front Line, LNE’s management company whose stable includes 200 acts. Both
Azoff and Rapino declined to comment for this story. In order to receive DoJ approval – the process took approximately a year – LNE made several concessions, Ticketmaster, which sold more than $8.9billion (€6.6bn) of tickets in 2008, must divest itself of automated ticketing service provider Paciolan. Its assets will be bought by Comcast-Spectacor, which will likely start a ticketing company. Additionally, Ticketmaster will license its ticketing software to AEG, Live Nation’s main concert promotion competitor, for five years.
lawn seats for its amphitheater shows with no more than a $5 (€3.70) service fee. Live Nation venues said fine, but some Ticketmaster sheds were charging $12 (€8.90) fees. Before the proposed merger, “when you tried to make things happen for your fans and the audience, you just couldn’t get these guys on the same page,” he says. Then, as the two companies became allies, “I called Irving and said Rapino says they’re doing a $5 [fee] and he says ‘Okay, we’ll do it’.” Despite the monolith many believe LNE to now
“[Previously] when you tried to make things happen for your fans and the audience, you just couldn’t get these guys on the same page.” – Jim Guerinot As part of the deal, LNE also agreed to a ‘firewall’ that will prohibit the promotion side’s access to information gathered by the ticketing arm from Live Nation’s concert rivals. The DoJ can
be, Guerinot says the power still lies in the artists’ hands. “I think the wind blows whichever way the manager and act want to go.” As concerned as many in the industry are about
“There are a lot of smart people running [LNE], and it benefits them to keep our business healthy for all of the participants.” – Troy Blakely, APA monitor LNE for the next ten years to make sure it does not practise any anticompetitive behaviour. As final details are worked out, industry execs already see changes in play. No Doubt’s manager, Jim Guerinot, says he noticed a difference last summer when his band wanted to offer $10 (€7.40)
the combining companies, Troy Blakely, agent at Los Angeles-based Agency for the Performing Arts says, “I don’t believe 95% of our business will ever feel the effect of the merger. There are a lot of smart people running [LNE], and it benefits them to keep our business healthy for all of the participants.” A number of consumer
groups and some rival promoters have expressed concern about the merger and the effect it will have on competition, but in an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, anonymous representatives with the DoJ stressed that they only looked at merger issues, not existing concerns many have with either entity already, such as Ticketmaster’s exclusive contracts with most venues in the US. Both Rapino and Azoff have positioned the merger as consumer friendly saying it will allow development of direct-to-fan programmes given the various synergies possible with management, promotion, ticketing and venue ownership all under one roof. While Blakely believes that the merger provides an opportunity for “clarity in ticket availability and pricing,” he, like many others, has no expectation that service fees – an area for which Ticketmaster has come under great fire – will drop: “I don’t see them coming down,” he says, adding that as much as the consumer is king, there is a higher power. “We are talking about a major corporation here that is beholden to its stockholders and they will not want to see any shrinking of profits after this merger.” Melinda Newman
Above Left: Michael Rapino Above Right: Iring Azoff
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The Performance the Chicken; the Recording the Egg Chuck D of Public Enemy shares his view on the importance of live performance, exclusively for IQ… Live performance is what made me agree to sign the Public Enemy (PE) concept to Def Jam. It was the rap performances that developed between 1982-1986 that blew my mind away. Rap had evolved at that period from large clubs into arenas and stadium rap. At that time, Run DMC had singlehandedly transformed the genre into something that rivalled rock itself. It was Jam Master Jay and DMC that invited me down to Madison Square Garden to witness thousands of fans holding up Adidas sneakers. The live aspect in rap music is a necessary fundamental element in the development of the songs themselves. On my SLAMjamz digital record label (www.SLAMjamz.com) we encourage acts to hone their performances. Soulman Kyle Jason, all female group Crew Grrl Order and The Impossebulls, are just a few that try to set the example of performance excellence. In fact, the music (online and off,) outside of licensing is solely intended to be advertising for the show and performance itself. The key, we stress, is developing the artist into an act. With PE, we are very specific about where we tour and the amount of dates we play a year. We tour in available time blocks. Since the members live in various cities across the USA we have to be very specific. Our international touring has a limit of no more than 14-16 days, and we usually route back-to-back with few or no days off between because of the expense factor for 12-15 people. Nationally, the limit is 21 days but a person like myself can fly home on an off day. PE has been on 67 tours since 1987, visiting 68 countries. As far as memories go they’re all fantastic, especially the UK years – too many to name but I am looking to put together a tour book called World Tour Sessions on my OFFDA Books imprint around 2012. In 2010, there is no question. Live is everything. A great live performance will make you want to acquire anything the artist is selling to remember them by. The audio recording or visual is now on a par with the welldesigned T-shirt. Make the initial source valuable, and
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the rest will follow. It’s a slow return to the root of how this began: the performance the chicken; the recording the egg. The past two generations have been dictated to by super media like TV, film, and radio and they therefore may not recognise the performance aspect of the genre like those fanatics in the 1950s and 60s. The audience and the artists are now reattaching themselves from a virtual ground zero of entertainment. We plan ahead in working with brands and developing our merchandising but being too far ahead in a genre like hip hop, which lacks infrastructure, can be just as bad as being behind. As a matter of fact, being a bit late allows a crowd to swell and catch up. Being independent is always a struggle and a fight for position because big conglomerates have many people filling small roles often linking into other branded situations better and giving the impression of a smaller stealth artist situation. Touring however combats the mass blanketing and allows a quicker regional, artist-to-person connect that hasn’t been beaten yet. This becomes a problem only when the local support system collapses for the sake of national big biz preference. Artists like 50 Cent have been aggressive in this pursuit, but others have been given these opportunities by power agents, major record companies and key TV and radio liaisons. Of late, the US has turned into a festival nation. With the connected heavy population across over 55 major cities, a win-win-win situation has sprouted for the promoters, brands, and a great cross-section of established, present and new acts. For rap, PE was very privileged to have been invited to a new wave of European festivals in the late 80s and 90s to set a precedent for US tours to follow. This late century festival, in the form of a multi-genre rave, incorporated rap and dance into a mix that started with rock and previously huge jazz fests. The ticket prices, although high in a so-called recession also give the impression of giving more for the money. More acts, more ancillary things to get involved
with, more days to do it. I see this trend picking up. The ticket price for a club date should be a reflection of the economy but it’s not. Ticket prices are equally over the top and some acts cannot meet that price with satisfactory performance. The great blues artist Bobby Rush told me last year that what dictates an artist fee is simple: An act is worth not a dollar more than what it can pull through the door. Moving on, the use of data from digital sales to support and promote our live work is something we really want to be very efficient in. Every year it’s moving faster: there’s a media and digital blizzard going on. And with social networks passing in and out of fashion by the 1,000-day span, we look to build our own digital platforms to corral our database with us. Since 1998 we have built up www.publicenemy.com and almost overnight it connected both fanbase and promoters to our reach. Direct connectivity single-handedly steered PE into countless tours across the world. Our recent deal with Sellaband is again quite a daring and ambitious venture. I’ve been a pioneer in this music/technology space and I’ve always believed
that it is necessary to take risks to create change. For over a decade, I have been opposed to the major label system and its stranglehold on artists, their earnings and the ownership of their creations. Fan funding, in my view, is a step towards artists having independence and being able to create and control their own destiny, while having a real budget to work with.
“In 2010, there is no question. Live is everything. A great live performance will make you want to acquire anything the artist is selling to remember them by.” This business model will continue to develop and work better for many artists, and there will be fewer bars to hurdle. Touring-wise we believe that local rather than national comes first, but we think global on a recorded release. Artists should totally connect their reachable surrounding radius into their ultimate business model, and start to take on the world from there.
The Fountain of Youth Rob Light, head of music at Creative Artists Agency, argues that success is staying focussed on two distinct groups. And not sweating the small stuff… In a way unlike that of any other art form, music expresses each generation’s feelings, frustrations, hopes, dreams, sexuality, anger and its particular style and place in society. Each generation doggedly and passionately holds onto the music of their youth, trying to push it on to the next. And while it defines us, it also allows us an easy road back, as I believe truly that “music is the fountain of youth.” What was true for earlier generations – that music defines us in so many ways – is truer than ever for today’s youth. Music has never been more important, more relevant and more consumed. It is more diverse than ever, yielding countless collaborations and unprecedented respect among artists of all genres, demographic groups and ages than at any time in history. And at this time – of such influence, reach and meaning – the live appearance, the concert, the connection of artist and fan in the most direct interaction possible, is the most important link in the chain. There is no better marketing tool than a turned-on, passionate and enthralled audience that leaves a venue carrying the message on to an exponentially growing legion of fans. Through technology, their message spreads fast and far to current and future fans. Yes, traditional labels are in ‘trouble’ and going through a forced metamorphosis, kicking and screaming. Yet, I have no doubt that some college kid in a dorm room is a click away from figuring out how to distribute music, how to monetize it and how to allow future generations of artists to both make art and profit from it.
“What was true for earlier generations – that music defines us in so many ways – is truer than ever for today’s youth.” Yes, 12-song CD packages are in ‘trouble’. This generation, and those to come, want to consume music differently, and consumer tastes and buying habits will inevitably show, if not force, us to change our ways.
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Yes, radio and print are in ‘trouble’. They do not have the same numbers and reach as they once had. But, again, new forms of communication (social networks, YouTube, Vevo and the yet invented) will solve those issues. While there are many ideas, theories and notions on how to fix the trouble spots, the fact remains that a live concert experience is not downloadable; nor is it replaceable by a computer screen. The physical act of gathering with friends and likeminded people to enjoy, share and experience life has been part of humanity since the beginning of time. It is imperative for those of us on the live side of the business to continue to nurture new venues; find new packages; price tickets in a way to allow us all to participate; continue to create festivals; push tours past the obvious markets and into new and unseen ones; and create experiences that last lifetimes. For those who have not been in live music and now see it as an overlooked profit centre – welcome. But do not assume that live music is just about finding four walls, setting a ticket price and buying an ad. The ability to develop new artists and extend the careers of established artists through touring is a talent and skill, just like A&R or marketing. The best promoters, agents and managers understand that venues, ticket prices, packaging, repeating markets, tour marketing/ promotions, TV seasons and on-sale dates all contribute to the success. And no matter where technology takes the music business, touring will continue to be important to market, build and sustain artists. Music is more important than ever. For the young generation consuming it in ever-growing numbers, captivating them with the live experience, making it enjoyable, moving, life-altering, life-affirming and memorable is our job. We may all sit at different seats at the table, with different responsibilities, different needs and different masters to serve, but at the end of the day, we all work for two groups: the artists and the fans. If we remember that and if we work together, we will continue to capture the next generation as concert fans for life.
The Bridge to Normal Life
Renowned singer songwriter Chris Difford still tours with Squeeze and under his own name. Here, he calls for a safety net on the road...
Being on tour with Squeeze is always a treat and being on tour in America is something that really excites me. Although these days it is so different – it has to be – because I’m sober, a recovering person. Past tours consisted of mountains of abuse, darkness and feeling lonely, but not anymore. I turned to Road Recovery (based in New York) on the last tour and they provided me with backstage meetings and support that I had previously never been able to find. It’s a caring place run by wonderful people who love music and understand the musician in need. There is no support in the UK like this, and this has to change. Backstage I could be involved in a meeting with six or seven people and then spring right into the show: I found it such a gift. Being the only sober chap in the band is never hard and I love my sobriety, although sometimes the darkness calls and then I need to fence myself off and get in a meeting or three. In the UK, meetings are many, and all really great, but the support for the musician travelling around is not as it could be. We work at unusual hours and find ourselves backstage during normal meeting times; the day is often so full it’s impossible to cram in a meeting anyway. Recovery is something we all find in our own ways; people in bands who find it are rewarded with clear and spiritual experience on and off stage. Here in the UK there is little back up for the keeping-sober drummer or bass player, trombone player or manager, unless you go through the normal channels. Yes, we are special and different and yes, we do need to be loved and hugged and why not, it’s lovely to be loved. There should be equal support for working people in other industries too: bankers, doctors, lawyers, bus drivers. We all know the road to recovery and how to find our feet but when we sometimes have days filled with chaos, it would be good to have support beyond the normal AA [Alcoholics Anonymous] or NA [Narcotics Anonymous] call. I have been trying to raise awareness of this idea by building a bridge, much like Road Recovery...a number to call, so support can come to the people who do not have the time to make meetings. So the meetings come to them, with Buddies who travel on tour, or are on call, for the odd dark moment that swings your way. Yes, it sounds unique and privileged, but this is the world of the music industry we are talking about and we all love to be pampered.
My dream is to offer anyone with an addiction problem in the industry an assisted bed in a relevant rehab, a buddy on call and a backstage meeting, whether it be a rock & roll show or backstage at the Proms. I would love to see a net that would catch the person who falls, the tired middle-aged executive or the 18-year-old NME guitarist, there has to be love for our fellow industry friends. I know I’m living in cuckoo-land but it’s a nice place to be; a place of hope and maybe a springboard for one of my mad ideas to take shape. All I need is charity status, a few thousand quid donation and we’re off to the races. Drugs and alcohol can inspire but they can also demolish. If we reach out and assist those who may be calling for help then life will be inspired. Being on tour, being at work, it’s a place where there could be so much more by way of support for the slippery addict. I know because that is me. Chris will be participating in a panel at ILMC 22 which will consider the darker side that the effects of touring can have on artists and others in the industry, and what can and should be done to provide support and help to the vulnerable. Photo: Chris Difford
Meeting Their Needs
To stay ahead of the curve on The Hultsfred Festival, Håkan Durmer from Rock Party in Sweden has dumped his PC and gone back to basics… Just a couple of years ago the bookers could still turn to the record label and simply ask them how many copies Artist X had sold within the territory. If the number was high enough, then you had a good booking, and if they weren’t? Well, then maybe you put your money someplace else. But that has – as we all know – changed. Drastically changed. It’s not just that album sales have decreased in recent years; the demographic of those who still buy physical albums has also changed. Or at least it has here in Sweden. Album buyers today are mainly like me – 30years plus and raised believing that a physical album is the holy grail of music. The album chart has become the adult chart, useable for some, but not for us festival organisers with a 17- to 23-year-old target audience. I mean, it’s tough to hear that the American hip hop act that you’re thinking about as a headliner have only sold 2,000 copies of their latest album in Sweden. Should you really then offer that act a couple of hundred thousand dollars for a show? Instead of depending on the album chart, we have started to search elsewhere for the answer to the fundamental question: What does the audience want to see this year? The internet overflows with different kinds of charts, comparison rates and counts. But what
“Instead of keeping track of MySpace plays, YouTube views and the Spotify chart we have started to speak directly to the audience. I mean really speak.”
do 10 million plays on MySpace really mean? Does it point to a worthwhile booking, a proper headliner? Or does it simply mean that 10 million people have listened to the artist – but we don’t know who they are, where they live, or if they are interested in coming to our festival? Nowadays, the inhabitant of the net is a
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global citizen and these charts don’t mean shit when it comes to telling us anything about the 17- to 23-yearold Swedish festival audience! The most logical solution to our problem would be to ask the audience what they want to see. The tools for setting up polls and letting everybody speak their mind are there, so why don’t we use them? Because even the audience aren’t sure what they want to see. If we put up a poll and ask what bands the audience wants, they: (a) vote for the same headliners as last year; (b) vote for the same headliners as our competitors had last year; or (c) spend countless hours trying to convince others to vote for their own, unsigned band. It’s a paradox that now, when we apparently have more data than we need, we can’t find a way to make proper use of those facts. It’s like the more we know, the more we have to trust our gut feeling. And that has happened during a time in which new artists can get hyped, break through and be forgotten about within a couple of weeks. What you read on your favourite blog yesterday was ages ago. What you need to find out is the acts that they will be blogging about tomorrow. In the old days that was relatively easy – the answer was always hidden somewhere within the record labels release schedule. Instead of keeping track of MySpace plays, YouTube views and the Spotify chart we have started to speak directly to the audience. I mean really speak – we’re arranging physical meetings with our audience, everywhere we find them we will be ready to talk about music. So far we have set up a group representing the different ‘sub-audiences’ that make up our festival fans, we talk with them regarding all of our bookings and collaborate on playlists to see what they really want to hear. We are taking baby steps. But we see this developing over a long period of time and maybe as soon as next year we’ll have found the optimal way to effectively meet and communicate with the audience. In this 2.0 world we’ve decided to go analogue; new times demand new solutions, and it’s not always the most hi-tech solution that does the job for you.
Giving Up the Road Andy Edwards of Connected Artists/Sound Advice argues for steering clear of traditional, costly touring… The structural and economic changes within the music business over the past few years have made an impact on every aspect of launching an act’s career. And while the live industry may be booming, launching a new act into the live circuit is tougher than ever. Traditional funding – namely label tour support – has become increasingly scarce and labels now want a share of an artist’s live income in return. This begs the question: how does a new act fund their live career in the early stages and control their costs? An act that is playing clubs will hopefully build a fanbase and lay firm foundations for a long career ahead of them, but making money at this stage can be difficult and costs can be high. The challenge multiplies as the act develops internationally across a number of territories. Alternatively, there is an increasing array of opportunities for acts at every level – from unsigned to international stadium acts – to play live. These include festivals, sponsored gigs, corporate/private gigs, horse race circuits, motor race circuits, iTunes festivals, radio station festivals... the list continues. Theoretically, an act could play live constantly without ever going out on their own headline tour. A manager of one platinum-selling US act told me that while the band play their own shows in the US, they only ever play festivals in Europe as it keeps their production costs down. This makes sense financially, but is this really in the best interests of the act in the longer term? Live production consultant Dave Keighley says: “My advice would be that new acts should play festivals and other shows where they earn a fee but don’t have to provide their own production. It means they play to a larger audience and any monies earned can be reinvested into the stage production of their own shows.” There is a balance to be had. A sponsored
show or festival can expose an act to a broader audience and can pay well with minimum production expense. On the other hand, does it really mean the artist engages with their core fans sufficiently? Do the fans buy into the act if they only ever see them at festivals? There is also the question of the act honing their craft, a la Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours of practice theory, which in this instance means accumulating a large number of headline shows, from clubs to theatres to arenas and beyond. The act’s on-stage performance improves over time and they build a team of people around them in the process. As Connected Artists’ Paul McDonald explains, “One has to consider every available live avenue, but ultimately you have to be true to who the artist is. There are some short-term live gains that could damage real artists’ careers. With James Morrison, we have worked closely with our agent Paul Franklin to strategise an ascending trajectory over the two albums, branching out to different demographics along the way, to go from solo acoustic shows to selling out arenas in the UK. The likes of the Forestry Commission shows have been an important part of reaching a wider audience who may never go to an Academy-type gig. Similarly, playing seven of the huge Take That shows last summer moved us seamlessly into our on-sale date for own arena shows. I do think it’s important to try and be a headline act as soon as possible, even if that means being patient about the size of venue in the early stages”. Ultimately, artists themselves need to decide how they want to be perceived and positioned. Iconic acts such as U2, Pearl Jam and Radiohead have all pushed the envelope in one way or another and have taken years to accumulate stellar reputations for their live shows. As veteran manager Peter Rudge of Octagon Music concludes: “At the end of the day you get what you pay for. If you invest in a great show and develop over time you are giving value back to fans and building a closer bond with your fans. There are no shortcuts”. www.connectedlimited.com www.soundadvicellp.com
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t’s just a matter of weeks before the ILMC weighs anchor and sets sail around the live music world, and with the conference panels now revealed, it’s on course for a voyage of discovery. Deckhands are scrubbing furiously, the officers are already aboard, the blankets and bedding are stowed, and the dining room is gleaming. Preparations are almost finished for ILMC 22, and if you don’t already have your boarding pass, it’s advisable to sign up soon – as with all ILMCs, we’ll probably be hanging up ‘sold out’ signs long before our fictional cruise ship departs for the weekend. So, if you haven’t already added your name to the passenger list, or if you need a quick recap of some of the madcap ship’s excursions and deck games, keep reading…
irst up, is the one night of the year that the great and good of the live music industry never fail to miss: The ILMC Gala Luau & Arthur Awards, for which we’re pleased to welcome aboard Robertson Taylor Insurance Brokers and specialist accountants MGR Media as sponsors. The event takes place at the Jumeirah Carlton Tower on Saturday 13 March and following a champagne reception and sumptuous four-course ‘luau’ feast with fine wines, we hand out our Oscar equivalents at The Arthur Awards. It’s an unmissable, five-star luxury soirée, and the very next evening sees another night of first-class food and exquisite wines when the ‘Abandon Ship!’ Nordical Dinner takes place on the HMS President, a former Royal Navy boat moored at Victoria Embankment that boasts spectacular views across the River Thames. We’ve teamed up with the Nordic Export Offices to present a Scandinavian feast fit for Thor himself, and with so many delegates making use of the heavily discounted Sundaynight rate (£125 for all rooms) at the Royal Garden Hotel, this looks to be one of the busiest and most memorable endings to an ILMC for years. For those who prefer card decks to the mess deck, however, the World Texas Hold ‘em Poker Tourney returns for its third edition on Friday 12 March as part of the Sutasi Casino. With blackjack and roulette, and in classic Las Vegas-style, sponsors Asia Sounds are laying on live entertainment with a series of very special performances by Biuret, Pan Asian winner of the Sutasi 2009 talent search competition. It costs £20 to enter, and places are given on a first-come, first-served basis. It’s always a popular event, so be sure to email firstname.lastname@example.org to get on the list, or just drop by to enjoy one of Biuret’s sets. Also on the cards, and new this year, is the Table
Football Coupe du Monde on Friday night at 20:30. It’s an international tournament set to rival the World Cup later this summer, staged in the AEG Bermuda Triangle Delegates’ Bar. And there’s always the perennial Match of the Year Football at 19:30 on Saturday 13 March, when the UK – motherland of the old empire – tries to re-conquer the rest of the world. Contact Peter Aiken (email@example.com) for more info. There are so many events scheduled over the ILMC weekend that we’d fill up most of these pages just trying to list them all. Don’t miss the ’Lost at C’ Delegates’ Jam on Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 March, especially Saturday night’s jam which features an in-house band of professional musicians. And then there are the ship’s excursions such as the Ja Ja Ja night at the Tabernacle in Notting Hill on Thursday 11 March, which presents a selection of fantastic new Nordic talent. This is followed on Friday by The Flying Dutchmen meet and greet at the Dutch Embassy, with both events enticing passengers with the promise of drinks and nibbles. But cruising at this level of luxury isn’t just about the culinary delights, quality beverages and live entertainment from all four corners of the globe, because if we’re going to keep this industry on an even keel, there are plenty of topics to be discussed. As usual, we’ve spent several months canvassing opinion from a wide selection of industry pundits and professionals, and the agenda here may yet be subjected to last minute changes as events happen. While there may not be an iceberg visible on the horizon, as an industry we’re drifting ever further into uncharted waters, not least the constantly changing world of ticketing and the effects of the Live Nation/Ticketmaster merger, both of which are threads set to run through many of the panels during the conference weekend.
•Europe•The Australias•Africa•Asia• The Americas• Antarctica•
ILMC 22 Thursday 11 March 10:00 – 18:00
The ILMC Production Meeting Chair:Chrissy Uerlings (CUP, DE) The ILMC Production Meeting (IPM) returns for the third year as a forum for touring professionals (tour directors, production managers, site coordinators, stage managers, promoters’ reps and venue operation managers) to exchange ideas, establish best working practices, and find solutions to common issues. This year, the event has been expanded to accommodate 150 delegates from across Europe, and the main topic of conversation is technical operation and crisis management: what level of change is acceptable to secure the show, and at what point compromises and the extra risks to safety simply become dangerous. Other talking points include changing climate and dealing with extremes of weather; venue management and communication; a basic introduction to rigging and electricity; and an update on technical news and developments. The IPM is open to industry professionals and ILMC delegates, so if you wish to attend you need to email firstname.lastname@example.org or see www.ilmc.com for more info.
14:00 – 18:00
Industry Association Meetings The International Jazz Festivals Organization (IJFO) and the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) will be meeting throughout the afternoon. Rooms are designated for private association meetings. Please contact the association directly, should you wish to attend.
Friday 12 March 10:00 – 18:00
Industry Association Meetings The Concert Promoters Association (CPA), International Jazz Festivals Organization (IJFO) and Yourope hold their private association meetings. Rooms are designated for private association meetings. Please contact the association directly, should you wish to attend.
12:30 – 13:00
New Delegates’ Orientation Chairs: Alia Dann (ILMC, UK) & Greg Parmley (IQ,UK) Alia Dann and Greg Parmley extend a warm welcome to new ILMC delegates and explain how the conference is structured and how to get the most out of it. Everyone
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was a newbie once, and the first impression of ILMC can be slightly overwhelming, so this informal session provides a necessary introduction to both first timers, and those who can’t remember the first time.
15:00 – 15:15
Flight Attendant’s Briefing Chair: Martin Hopewell (ILMC, UK) Conference founder Martin Hopewell welcomes all passengers, points out a few key areas of the ship (the lifeboats, lifebelts, bar and poop deck) and commissions what promises to be another fine ILMC weekend.
15:15 – 17:00
Talking Shop Chair: Carl Leighton-Pope (LPO, UK) If you’re wondering why the bar is empty, head to Room 1 for Talking Shop where you’ll find the majority of delegates enjoying Carl Leighton–Pope’s irreverent sift through a year of concert business headlines. As ever, this annual review is guaranteed to generate some furious debate, and as the largest gathering of the weekend, it’s one not to miss. Hot topics this year will doubtless be a certain recently approved powerhouse merger, and ticketing (including dynamic pricing) in all its glory. The Talking Shop is a precursor to the weekend’s specialist panels, and one that never fails to stimulate healthy discussion both in the room and at the opening drinks that follow.
Saturday 13 March 10:00 – 11:30
The Emerging Markets’ Place: ‘Submerging Markets?’ Chairs: Serge Grimaux (Ticketpro International, CZ) & Thomas Ovesen (AEG Live, UAE) Over the years, territories once referred to as ‘emerging’ have emerged and countries that once only imported acts have begun to export their own talent worldwide. Others, such as China, have imposed restrictions on foreign acts even performing and recession is doubtless forcing some markets to move backwards. It’s a mixed bag when trying to consider every ‘emerging’ market, but one thread runs through them all: sponsorship. This year’s panel will be considering what innovative promoters have yet to gain, why agents should be supporting sponsorship deals across emerging markets, and the discussion will focus on the type and format of deals not yet introduced in the more established markets.
10:00 – 11:30
12:00 – 13:30
Chair: Chrissy Uerlings (CUP, DE) In July this year it will be ten years since the tragic crowd crush deaths that occurred during Pearl Jam’s set at Roskilde Festival. This event was a catalyst for change within the industry as crowd management became a priority for the majority of event organisers; the ILMC Safety Group was initiated; and formal training introduced that has saved countless lives since. This year’s Engine Room session will invite festival organisers; venue operators; and safety and security specialists to reflect on and appraise the changes that have occurred. Chairman Chrissy Uerlings will be asking what we’ve learned, and just how far we still have to go.
Chairs: Greg Parmley (IQ, UK) & Steve Machin (Stormcrowd, UK) What started out as a fan-club mailing list has become one of the most important tools in today’s business, and with the everwidening worldwide web, there’s an almost limitless amount of information now available for capture. As Ticketpro’s Serge Grimaux remarked in a recent issue of IQ: “these days the ‘d’ of dollar has been replaced by the ‘d’ of data” and he who doesn’t know his customers’ shoe size is liable to be stepped on or over. With input from digital experts and promoter pioneers, we identify just what’s out there for the taking, from direct marketing and ticket data to social media fanalytics, to spell out why information is really the only key to success.
The Engine Room: ‘Keeping an Open Channel’
10:00 – 11:30
The Green Room: ‘Turning the Tide in Global Touring’ Chair: Ben Challis (Charming Music, UK) While many festivals have been ahead of the curve when it comes to environmental efforts, there’s arguably more room for improvement when it comes to dayto-day touring. Music industry greening group Julie’s Bicycle will shortly be publishing an in-depth report on green touring, and representatives will exclusively present some early findings. Building on this research, a cross-industry panel will consider the practicalities of green touring to ask just how sustainable both large- and small-scale productions are; whether it’s possible to affect change without affecting budgets; and why impending environmental legislation could well make this issue a financial as well as a moral imperative.
12:00 – 13:30
The Politics of Live: ‘The Steering Committee Meeting’ Chair: Melvin Benn (Festival Republic, UK) The larger and the more recognised an industry becomes the more it attracts interest and involvement from a raft of government departments. The live music industry is no different. From the smallest of venues to the largest of festivals, we are all affected by legislation, tax, health and safety, and a myriad of ways that policymakers affect our day-to-day business. Then there is the question of the industry’s worth in both cultural and trade export terms – and with governments increasingly happy to share in the benefits of the creative industries, what support can we expect in return? We host a summit of international politicians and industry leaders as they consider better ways of addressing and communicating the needs and the importance of all aspects of the live music industry.
Fan Data: ‘Charting a New Course’
14:30 – 16:00
Festival Forum: ‘The Other Side of the Fence’ Chair: Jim King (Loud Sound, UK) The festival sector is one that increasingly has to deal with extremes. Our changing climate has made weather unpredictable and changeable – as last season demonstrated with a number of casualties – legislation around open-air events is also becoming more extreme, as health & safety requirements and licensing conditions push up both costs and man hours; and organised crime is increasingly honing in on events. Throw in this year’s wrangling over exclusivity clauses caused by a dearth of headliners, and other battles with performing rights organisations over rates, and this year’s Festival Forum is a veritable jamboree bag stuffed full of topics.
14:30 – 16:00
The Manager’s Office: ‘Steer by the Stars’ Chair: Jon Webster (MMF, UK) The overwhelming majority of artist managers are now looking to live performance for the major part of their revenues. With record sales and tour support remaining unreliable, performance fees, merchandising, PRS returns and the direct access to fans are more vital than ever before. Managers obviously maintain direct and frequent communication with the agents that represent their acts, but they are now proposing regular meetings with all sectors of the live industry, and invite agents, promoters, venues, merchandisers et al to attend this session as part of an ongoing initiative to discuss and develop more informed and effective working relationships.
ILMC 22 14:30 – 16:00
The Venue’s Venue: ‘Any Port in a Storm?’ Chair: Steve Forster (Mama Group, UK) Attendance at European arenas was up last year, but with new buildings coming online, and established sites renovating and re-energising, it’s an increasingly competitive landscape, and the same can be said for smaller venues too. Across the board, operators have three options to sustain their business: get more people through the door, spend less or find new income streams. In addition to a presentation of figures by the National Arenas Association, the panel will consider each of these points and ask how venues can prosper in today’s changing landscape, what effect multinational ownership has, and what’s life going to be like for those outside certain recent deals?
16:30 – 18:00
Meet the New Boss: ‘In Search of New Horizons’ Chairs: Bex Wedlake (CAA, UK) & Rense van Kessel (Friendly Fire, NL) With tour support drying up and costs rising everywhere, the grassroots scene is adopting more of a DIY work ethic. Artists and managers are going it alone, and with the traditional A&R roles left vacant, is it now down to the agent or promoter to spot and nurture new talent? And who’s investing these days anyway? This year our panel of new bosses examines the shift in power from labels to loners, and considers whether, as homespun efforts begin to pay dividends more quickly, future headliners might be a purely national concern. Are markets retreating behind their frontiers, and are our vital breeding grounds still fertile?
16:30 – 18:00
Sponsorship: ‘Sailing Under Flags of Convenience?’ Chair: Lars Vogt (The Sponsor People, DE) Brands must constantly innovate to deliver their message effectively, providing new ideas and fresh platforms to keep consumers engaged. So just what do they need from partners in the live music space, and when it comes to the music business, is everyone even speaking the same language? Lars Vogt will be inviting several brand managers to discuss their expectations in live, and asking what it takes to get sponsored, and what strategies work best. Issues tabled for discussion also include naming rights, brand artist partnerships and festival sponsorships, including what effects the proposed ban on alcohol and tobacco advertising will have on the sector and the wider industry.
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Sunday 14 March 10:30 – 12:00
The Breakfast Meeting Chair: Ed Bicknell (Damage Mgmt, UK) It might not be the most obvious time of day for a keynote Q&A, but then neither is a dairy farmer from England’s West Country an obvious interviewee. The reality, however, is that Sunday morning is sure to see a packed house as manager and raconteur Ed Bicknell welcomes Glastonbury Festival founder – Michael Eavis. Europe’s largest and most influential outdoor event celebrates its 40th anniversary this year with U2, Muse and Stevie Wonder all confirmed as headliners, so it’s a perfect time to reflect on just what has made Glastonbury the benchmark that so many other festivals follow. In fact, over four decades, Michael Eavis has changed the course of more artists’ careers than almost any music executive, even though he’s had to fight a few battles with travellers and councils to do it. And with him having raised tens of millions of pounds for charities across the world, helped shape the course of the modern festival industry, and still managed to feed his cows on time, this will be a truly unmissable session.
12:30 – 14:00
The Booking Ring: ‘Agents and Promoters First’ Chairs: Cris Hearn (Primary Talent, UK) & Stefan Lehmkuhl (Melt!, DE) All’s fair in love and war, but is all fair in the concert business too? This year’s Booking Ring goes back to basics to examine issues of fairness, and asks whether the established way is still the best way. When an artist cancels it’s unfortunate, but when a promoter cancels it’s unforgivable – a clear case of double standards, so what can be done? Are promoters the new endangered species, and where are the icebergs in the agency world? Cris Hearn and Stefan Lehmkuhl mark out their respective territories as they attempt to bring a little balance to the booking process.
12:30 – 14:00
The Show Room: ‘The Entertainer’s Turn’ Chairs: Peter Tudor (Ticketmaster Entertainment, UK) & Vanessa Adam (ADaM Productions, GR) With British comedian Peter Kay selling out 20 nights at Manchester Evening News Arena, there’s little doubt that right now, comedy is the new rock & roll. With a very
ILMC 22 different dynamic to family shows and theatre, yet still without the huge assembled crew of regular touring, this year’s Show Room session will be examining this popular scene to find out what’s different, what parallels there are, and what can be learnt from it. Bringing together promoters from both comedy and live music and with a perennial sprinkling of show producers, the session will also be looking at what other products are currently busting box offices, and the markets that are doing the business.
The Sunday Supplement: ‘A View from the Crow’s Nest’ Chair: Allan McGowan (IQ, UK) This regular session could be considered as the conference ‘tail’ to the Talking Shop’s ‘top’, serving as a review of the weekend. More of a round table than a panel, invited professionals will highlight and review some of the main topics covered by the weekend’s agenda. In particular, the session exists to provide an opportunity for all delegates to follow-up topics they may have missed or to pose further questions inspired by discussion in and out of the conference rooms. The session will also be on the lookout to try and project what problems may lie ahead in 2010 and how best to prepare for, and hopefully, avoid any nasty surprises on the horizon.
15:30 – 17:00
Artists: ‘Keeping an Even Keel’ Chair: Keith Harris (MusicTank/PPL, UK) The artist is essential. Without the songwriter, the singer, the musician, the performer, there would be no music business and certainly no live performance. But as an industry, are we taking proper care of our primary assets? The repercussions of Michael Jackson’s demise still echo throughout the business and the courts, and with more pressure than ever on artists to make money from the road, compensating through excessive alcohol and drug use presents a major source of concern. This panel asks whether we’re pushing artists beyond the limit, whether those who count are willing to say ‘no’, and what support can and should be made available.
17:00 – 17:30
ILMC 22 Autopsy Chair: Martin Hopewell (ILMC) With our final port of call in sight, Martin Hopewell invites feedback on the conference in general as another ILMC comes gradually in to dock. It’s a final chance for all passengers to comment on the voyage and swap tales of high jinks on the high seas, at least until the debarkation drinks that follow…
2020 vision The Idea was Simple: To take a cross section of senior figures within the music industry – one for each of a variety of industry sectors – and pitch some similarly future-minded questions at them. From promoter and agency boss to publisher and punter, we wanted to build up a picture of how the music industry map might lie in 2020, and what trials and transformations it may have faced. What becomes clear from this collection of thoughts is that each sector of the business has specific, local issues that dominate them. But while there are no identical answers, certain themes and common thoughts shine through. Not one of our interviewees was bullish enough to predict a return to the glory days of the business – the rude health of the 80s – but as an industry staring straight ahead into a new decade, the mood was surprisingly upbeat and words
such as ‘adaptation’, ‘change’, innovation’ and ‘creativity’ featured often. So while no concrete revelations emerged, this collection of thoughts (and some hopes) has proved far more practical than crystal balls and tarot cards. And as far as predictions specific to each sector go, just as Ron Sexsmith sang ‘There’s gold in them hills’, there’s nuggets in these pages, and maybe even something for everyone…
Tim C h
deriks Tom F re
Alison Wenh am
ans Folker t Koop m
y Jake B err
opper Steve Kn
Will P age
Paul L atham
essag e Brian M
The Manager Brian Message – ATC Management Q: Where’s the money going to come from?
Monetisation of the fan/artist relationship will dominate the new decade and the opportunities are endless. That does not mean there will be one model where the menu starts with signed CDs, followed by backstage access, meet the band, to a private gig and beyond. The artist as an enigma is just as valid and just leads to differing access methods. Access is going to be the key. Q. How will the role of the manager differ in 2020? The manager has always been the fulcrum of an artist’s relationship with outside entities whether they be simple as they were in the past – record company, publisher, agent, promoter, merchandiser – to the complex world which we now inhabit. The relative demise of the importance
of record labels in the operational chain has meant more of that organisational and marketing burden falling on managers. Many feel swamped but most are emerging into a new world where the fan/artist relationship is key and anything is possible. Q. What’s going to make a difference? The difference is going to be made by entrepreneurial managers and other forward-looking members of the music industry embracing change, taking opportunities, and giving the consumer a satisfying all embracing experience based on trust. Great artists and managers are already putting this in to practice.
The Promoter Paul Latham – Live Nation Q. What role will corporations play in the coming decade? When I was growing up ‘the corporation’ was responsible for most things. The corporation fixed the roads, emptied the bins, changed the books on the library shelves and when you were thirsty you went to the tap for ‘corporation pop’. Corporation wasn’t the ‘c’ word in those days and that is one thing that will change back for the better. The pooled resources of bigger companies facilitate bigger picture thinking; they have the wherewithal to take risks and push boundaries. Their remits encompass wider spheres of influence and learning, and modern corporations must bring them to bear for the greater good of all who take part. Q. How will the music business evolve in the next decade? Music has evolved into a singular pleasure with all manner of devices giving the individual the ability to select a personal portfolio of choice constantly at their disposal.
The only time the music lover opens their arms and ears is in the joint celebration with like-minded listeners at live concerts, and even bigger cathedrals of worship to their idols, the festivals. No matter how realistic 3D film and TV becomes, the ‘communion’ of gig-going will continue to be the ultimate expression of adoration. Such devoted followers have made music through the ages a clarion call for all manner of change, each generation having its own raison d’être, and climate change will unite these legions in the very near future. Only those venue operators and festival promoters that take full cognisance of their actions will maintain the goodwill of their audiences. Given the ability to communicate in ever-more focused groups there may be a trend for smaller gigs in smarter venues to more dedicated fans. Q. What’s going to make a difference? Passion, dedication, leadership and humility.
The Economist Will Page – PRS for Music Q. What does the future hold? Three indicators help build a picture of what’s in store: inflation, interest rates and economic growth. Dealing with each in turn, I see inflation returning to normal by the end of 2010, interest rates staying at their abnormally low levels and economic growth stabilising at below normal levels. The economy will recover, but it will be a sluggish recovery and it won’t necessarily be a case of ‘back to normal’. Q. Where’s the money going to come from? Devices and applications will continue to win, while digital revenues will continue to lose out with the prospect of lockers allowing consumers to take online music offline being one of the biggest challenges facing the industry. If you could stream from Spotify on the underground or on an airplane, is that a performance or a reproduction? Q. Will live music feel the pinch? Live music will continue to be one of the industry’s
perennial winners – there’s just so much genuine innovation, improved customer offerings and nimble adjustment to consumer trends by the whole live music industry – they’re working with the tide. You gotta step back and realise there are more bands, more gigs, more tickets and higher ticket prices than ever before – and yet the words ‘sold out’ still appear on so many events. Live music cracked their economics a long time ago, whilst digital music is trying to work out what the economics will look like. Q. Tip for the future? If there is one killer application that will ‘move the needle’ in 2010, it will be Songkick.com which trawls your iTunes catalogue to work out your music tastes, uses your geographic data to inform you of gigs in your area and provides credible recommendations from likeminded fans whilst also sourcing and selling you tickets. Will Page is the chief economist of PRS for Music. His work can be found at: www.prsformusic.com/economics
“Monetisation of the fan/artist relationship will dominate the new decade and the opportunities are endless.” – Brian Message
The Agent Emma Banks – Creative Artists Agency Q. What will be the role of the agent in 2020? By 2020, the agent/manager team will be more crucial than ever. Music is an integral part of daily life and the agent will help link together all the opportunities presented to the artist, whether live shows; syncs and licensing; merchandise or other sectors of the media. Artists need solid, impartial advice and as full-service agencies grow, they will be able to organically link creative talent – introducing brands to film makers, songwriters etc in order to create content for a consumer evermore desiring of ‘new’. Q. Where’s the money going to come from? The days of the pure record deal will be dead and buried – we see the last gasps now. Music artists require financing to reach their goals and we will see this coming from many sources. As more and more executives are let go from the classic label set up, there is no lack of expertise to tap into, so putting a team together, while not simple, is achievable.
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Funding will come from the labels that we know today (with more 360°-type deals), but also from many other sources – brands tapping into a particular demographic; high net worth individuals who fancy a punt; a crossover from TV and internet companies etc. And as long as everyone is prepared to suffer the highs and lows together, there will be true JV agreements with artists. Q. Will new talent be the collateral victim of today’s bad business environment? We need to remember that we all have great jobs, working with talented people and helping them grow and develop – it’s not about making a fast buck but developing longterm careers. Great new talent will still shine through and there will always be partners waiting. The most talented and innovative artists will still succeed and the established artists boast an amazing back catalogue that the world wants to sing. This will be an exciting decade, full of opportunity.
The Punter Steve Knopper – Rolling Stone Q. How will the music business evolve in the next decade? It’s possible that something like Spotify or subscription services in general will provide new revenue streams for the labels and rescue them from ruin. But I doubt it. Instead, I think the business will continue to shift from selling recordings to selling concert tickets and merchandise. Concert companies like Live Nation and Ticketmaster will start to be the key middlemen between artists and fans. And the big managers, like Coran Capshaw and Irving Azoff, will just get bigger. A few major labels may still exist to turn nobodies into megastars, but there will be fewer Justin Timberlakes and Beyoncés over the next ten years. Q. Will it become easier or harder for artists to break? Easier, in general. Unknown artists have more outlets than ever before to get their music to the public – MySpace, YouTube, Facebook, iTunes, TuneCore, etc. Plenty of them will be able to record their music on the cheap and
market it without going broke, and, of course, tour. As for breaking ‘big’, that’s a totally different thing, but in the next five to ten years, artists will break big over the net. It just may not be that common or especially huge. Q. Will the big corporations survive? Majors – yes, but in shrunken form. Live Nation/ Ticketmaster etc – yes, if they can survive their debt; if not, something else will replace them to do roughly the same thing. If the business is lucky, that will be relatively benevolent managers and agents who want to make money without screwing their artists. But more likely it will be shysters with really good lawyers per tradition. Steve Knopper is a contributing editor for Rolling Stone and the author of Appetite for Self-Destruction: The Spectacular Crash of the Record Industry in the Digital Age (Free Press/ Simon & Schuster).
“The growth in income from live performances is yet another sign that music has not escaped from the consumer consciousness – it has just escaped from the clutches of the major record companies.” – Roger Faxon
The Publisher Roger Faxon – CEO, EMI Music Publishing (US) Q. How will the music business evolve in the next decade? After so many years of decline, it’s hard for some people to understand how the music industry has survived the last decade, let alone how it will survive the next ten years. But I’m a firm believer that it will continue to survive and prosper, and that’s because more music will be consumed than ever before. The changing dynamic of usage though means that revenue will increasingly be counted not in dollars, but in fractions of cents. Some participants in the music value chain are going to find it very difficult to adapt to that, and some will flourish. It is those businesses that focus on how they will deliver value for the people that create music who will succeed. Q. What role will live music play in the forthcoming years? Live music has always been at the heart of the music experience. It’s where our artists begin to assemble their audience for the first time, and it’s where the superstars of tomorrow build the critical mass that will stay with
them throughout their career. In my opinion, consumers will always be prepared to pay for an experience to discover a new artist or to bond with one they love. The growth in income from live performances is yet another sign that music has not escaped from the consumer consciousness – it has just escaped from the clutches of the major record companies. Q. Where will music publishers’ revenues come from? A publisher’s revenue will come from anywhere and everywhere that a piece of music is used commercially, as it always has. It is incumbent on us to encourage more and more revenue streams, and for us even to prove that a particular market exists where none has been presumed to be. And as we encourage the creation of those new sources of income, we need to be better at collecting and distributing the money on behalf of our songwriters, ensuring that we have the systems and technology in place to avoid unnecessary leakages.
The Production Guru Jake Berry - Fader Higher Productions Q. How can acts continue to thrill audiences? The first thing an act needs to thrill an audience is talent, and I do wonder where the next Rolling Stones are coming from; the next U2, Tina Turner and Bruce Springsteen. As far as production though, a lot of things have been done now – moving video walls, flying the stage set and large pyro shows – but LED screens are moving forward, so we should see a huge move towards video in the next few years. I’m convinced we’ll get to high definition 3D and have the crowd wear 3D glasses, and the world of automation is really developing – perhaps someone should turn the stage upside down, now that would be a real ‘wow!’.
Q. Are current production budgets sustainable? We all have to be aware of budgets over the next few years, and production spend needs to be made wisely. Perhaps an act will focus on one major effect and not two or three. It’s hard to predict, and we’ve been wrong before, and at the very least we know that people will always need the rush of live entertainment, so we’re safe at the moment, although there do need to be some cutbacks. Q. What new measure, invention or situation could make a difference? HD3D video screens and of course the live imag in 3D which is around now but only in the early stages. Expect that to move fast and many acts to use it.
The Festival Owner Folkert Koopmans – FKP Scorpio Q. Will festivals be playing a different role by 2020? Festivals will be far more regulated in ten years time as legislation is increasing every year. The result could be events that are much more sterile, which is worrying. And there will also be festivals for every taste. The traditional model of the big event with a wide variety of bands will give way to many more, smaller events that focus on a variety of different niche types of music. We’re probably looking at 20- to 25,000 people, rather than 60- or 80,000. And for a special audience, it could be 5,000 or 6,000 people but they will pay more. Q. What new measure, invention or situation could make a difference? The biggest difference will be that there won‘t be huge headline acts in a few years time; the headliners of 2020
won’t be as big as they were ten years ago. It will come down to programming a proper festival bill and there will have to be more stages with smaller acts and more entertainment. It’s the same in touring. Q. How will the music business evolve in the next decade? Business will go on as usual. Some companies will make it and some won’t, but there will always be new people with new ideas. There’ll be a few major companies, like Live Nation and AEG, and the business will become increasingly corporate, but new independent promoters will also come up like the Reeperbahn Festival or Melt! Festival in Germany. There will always be opportunities to develop and new people finding ways to promote their own generation of artists.
The Record Label Alison Wenham – AIM (UK) Q. How will the music business evolve in the next decade? It could go in many different directions. If you look at the past ten years, and look at what we have instead of what we could have hoped for, it is quite obvious that we need to disrupt the current monopolistic environment – represented mostly by the majors and iTunes – in order to diversify the way in which music and people come together. What I am certain of is that people will continue to make music. I am very excited about what comes out of the sector in terms of music, and I am worried that much of this music will fail to get traction because of the way the market is operating.
Q. How will indies fare in this new environment? I am absolutely certain that independent labels will be doing fine, as they have always been, despite horrendous market conditions that they have no responsibilities in creating in the first place. For a start, they never tried to control the market… Q. What role will live music play in the forthcoming years? Live music will be as important as it has ever been. The art of singing in public has existed for a few thousand years, and there is no reason why it would change. However, the economics of the sector will change. I am astounded that the competition authorities cleared the Live Nation/ Ticketmaster merger, but it did not surprise me because they are pretty useless when it comes to the creative sector.
The Lawyer Tom Frederikse – Clintons Q. How will the music business evolve in the next decade? The most likely future for the music business, as with all businesses, is that it will experience more of the same... until it doesn’t. Initially, this will mean further declines in sales of physical product (CDs), further shrinkage of the playing field (another key merger), continued rises (however modest) in sales of á la carte digital downloads (roll on iTunes), bold experiments in new models (bravo Spotify and RIP Datz) and, inevitably, plenty more piracy. All of these trends have been steady for many years now and only a commercial earthquake has any real chance of stopping them. There will, as always, be some deckchair rearrangement – such as temporary rises in CD sales when a major artist dies or temporary lulls in new online services when licensing systems become disrupted – but, like this year’s cold winter, it doesn’t mean the climate isn’t changing. Indeed, the blip may even speed the underlying shift.
Q. What single piece of legislation, measure, invention or situation could make a difference? The single most important area for new legislation in this new decade must be control (or lack of control) over the ISPs and other telecoms players. Should we roll back the current ‘immunity’ regimes (as we have done in relation to terrorism and child pornography/abuse)? Or should we introduce further controls to encourage art and music (as was done in the US Constitution)? Q: What role will live music play in the forthcoming years? Live music is such a fundamental human experience that it is affected by factors as varied as the number of available venues and their capacity; the attitude of the government towards licensing venues that may cause a public nuisance; and the attitude of the public toward a style of music that may be seen as dangerous. Live music is a strange animal that – whilst being vulnerable to changes in fashion, politics and the public hysteria – will, like the property market, always return to prosperity before you know it.
The Ticket Seller Tim Chambers – Ticketmaster Q. What will a ticket look like in 2020? Over the next decade, we expect an increase in contactless technology for ticketing and access control at events. This could mean less ticket checking or scanning by staff at venues and a move towards more self-service or turnstile access. Developments in mobile phone handsets, membership or credit card technologies could incorporate a contactless chip directly and then be activated to grant access to travel and events. As the mobile internet develops we could see more customers purchasing tickets directly through their mobile devices. Customers could download a ticket directly from their computer onto their mobile handset enabling them to be scanned in at the venue, further removing the need for a physical paper ticket. In turn, this could lead to the increased presence of souvenir tickets as part of the merchandising options for customers. Q. How will ticketing evolve over the decade? We believe the current trend in up-sells will continue and become a more significant part of the ticketing process as artists, promoters and venues look to further monetise their performances. When a customer buys their ticket they will have the option to purchase merchandise as part of a bundle for that performance, this could be music
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downloads, video footage of previous performances and even the aforementioned souvenir ticket. Another key area will be distribution systems, which will need to keep pace with consumer demands for convenience and new ticketing technology. In the same way as the ticket itself will inevitably change, so will the methods of delivering that ‘ticket’ to the fan as it becomes less about having a physical ticket and more about enabling the consumer access to the event. Q. What new measure, invention or situation could make a difference? Dynamic and all-in pricing will be the most significant change in the coming years. Promoters and venues will look to base ticket pricing on what consumers are willing to pay and the value of what that individual ticket offers them. Again, this will enable events to be monetised more astutely while continuing to meet the varied demands of the audience. We will also see further developments in all-in pricing, as promoters and venues factor ticketing into the cost of producing the event. This will lead to ticketing costs no longer being identified on the ‘outside’ but directly integrated in to the cost of admission.
The Soloist It’s not every day that you’re named ‘International Agent of the Decade’, but it’s not every day that an agent like John Giddings carves a path through the business. Greg Parmley goes Solo...
hen Billboard magazine named the Rolling Stones, U2 and Madonna as the three highest grossing touring artists of the last decade, the results made John Giddings the top international agent of the ‘noughties’. Over three decades of remarkable – and remarkably steady – growth, Giddings has singlehandedly built a powerhouse agency and promotion outfit. With a roster of nearly 30 established acts that includes David Bowie, the Sex Pistols, Celine Dion, Genesis, Il Divo, N*E*R*D, Westlife and more recently triple Brit Award winner Lady Gaga, it’s a wonder he manages to represent them all, especially when he won’t employ more than ten staff because “otherwise you can’t remember their names”. Split between Live Nation’s global touring, Solo’s boutique agency, promoting the Isle of Wight Festival and now his involvement in Formula 1, Giddings straddles very different worlds across live music, but demonstrates equal passion for each.
n the subject of passion in life, American author Robert Collier once wrote: “The first principle of success is desire – knowing what you want”. It’s an observation that fits perfectly Solo’s premier, who unlike most that gradually drift into a career, was determined to succeed even in adolescence . “I was the only person in the world who went to university to get into the music business – I did a three-year course in philosophy and sociology and I still don’t know what they are,” Giddings says, of his acceptance into Exeter University in the early 70s. Born in St Albans in Hertfordshire, Giddings attended a private school, and like so many before and since, had got into rock ‘n’ roll for the girls. “At school one day, my mate came up to me and said, ‘My group’s splitting up. Why don’t you learn to play bass and pull some women?’, so I learned Sunshine of Your Love and White Room and it worked, but there was
“If I’d have worked at a record company I’d have been fired years ago for being too old.”
a slow, dawning realisation that I was actually better at booking the gig than doing it.” “Top man, nice hair, good complexion but must be audited.” – David Bowie
t the time, the university touring circuit attracted top name acts, and Exeter was a popular pit stop. “By the second year I was social secretary, and by the third year I was entertainment chairman for the colleges in the area,” he says. Booking bands such as Genesis, Procol Harem, the Average White Band and the Sensational Alex Harvey Band into the 1,800-capacity space, while welcoming agents down from London on the weekend as they “harassed” the female students, Giddings made the contacts he needed. But the next step proved harder than expected. Considering the agency business too “dodgy”, 20 applications to record labels yielded 20 rejection letters. “It’s funny now because all the money’s in the live industry and if I’d have worked at a record company I’d have been fired years ago for being too old,” he says. After unsuccessfully canvassing a number of his new agent contacts for a job, he was interviewed by Barry Dickins, who was then second in command at MAM Agency. “My first words to John were, ‘What the fuck are you wearing a suit for?’ No one wore suits in those days, we just smoked Woodbines,” says Dickins, who despite misgivings about Giddings’ fashion sense, gave him a job as a junior agent. It was a lucky break, but far luckier was being in the birthplace of an emerging, decisive new scene. “I rented a flat in West Kensington, walked across the road to a pub called The National and there was this group on stage and the singer had written ‘I HATE’ across his Pink Floyd T-shirt,” Giddings says. “Pink Floyd are my favourite band in the world, so for me this was sacrilege. He was stubbing cigarettes out on his arm and people were pogoing at the front. It was the Sex Pistols.”
y 1977, the infamous ‘year of punk’, Giddings had taken on The Adverts, X-Ray Spex and the Boomtown Rats; via Dickins’ friendship with manager Linda Stein he began working with The Ramones (a relationship that lasted for 19 years), and via MAM agent Ian Wright came Iggy Pop, whose flatmate David Bowie also played in the band – both acts he represents today. “It was a brilliant time to enter the music business, because you had absolutely no clue what you were doing but groups were having hit singles left, right and centre,” Giddings says. “Punk created a million and one new gigs and bands were playing six or seven nights a week. It was a great time for the industry.” When he picked up The Stranglers, the learning curve steepened dramatically, “When we started 30 some years ago I used to have meetings with John around midnight in his black leather trench coat. He is still the man.” – Iggy Pop
“Decade-nce.” – John Rotten
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Photos: Top: John Giddings collects an Arthur Award for The Police for ‘least painful tour’ at ILMC 20 Above: Arno Carstens at Isle Of Wight 2008
“ I knew I’d made it when John asked me to perform at his wedding!” – Ronan Keating and then The Ramones and Iggy took off in Europe. “The established promoters weren’t that interested in punk, so it was the new faces like Herman Schueremans that got it and wanted to work with them – it created a whole new strata of promoters,” he says. Learning from a scene that lived to burn the rulebook, Giddings was very much in the right place at the right time, although he gradually became frustrated by the limited freedom MAM allowed to book his own acts. In 1980, after Dickins left to form ITB, Giddings quit to form a partnership with the late Ian Wright. TBA International (dubbed Tours By Accident by popular vote) set up office on Kings Road in West London, with Wright’s roster that included Hall and Oates, Kid Creole, Nils Lofgren, Hot Chocolate and Sister Sledge, soon matched by Giddings with Paul Young, Alison Moyet, Howard Jones, Tears for Fears and Big Country. “Punk was a very English thing, but Paul Young started selling records in Australia and Japan, so I started going abroad with them, some stories of which you can never repeat. In fact, I can’t remember us doing much work at that company,” he says. “Our office was next door to A&M records and our day consisted of coming in at 11 to answer a few phone calls, going to lunch at 12 and coming back at 4. How we managed anything really is beyond my comprehension!” Without mobile phones and email to haunt them, the TBA directors enjoyed the period, but without mentioning specifics, Giddings says it also taught him a valuable lesson. “Groups want to earn money,” he says. “They don’t care to be drinking with their agent at 4am; they want to be represented by someone that’s in the office the next day, looking after them and their careers. You can’t be in the group and you must respect the business relationship.” After five years, cracks started to show in the TBA walls. Giddings says that having initially been number two to Wright, when his roster gained ground a power struggle ensued. But the final straw was an issue of trust. “Ian was siphoning off funds from the company to finance his motor racing career without me knowing about it. I didn’t think that was a partnership,” he says. “ John Giddings is a lovely man. He has become very successful, not through luck, but hard work. John was a Big Country guiding light. A large part of the band’s success must be attributed to him. Don’t stop, John. The business needs people like you.” – Tony Butler, Big Country Photo: Madonna
“ The Ramones worked with John in Europe and then worldwide from their very early years all the way through their entire career. John being a consummate professional always understood the right venues and billings to put the Ramones on and the band and I appreciated this. I’ll never forget the time we played a bullring in Madrid, Spain. Just before the show started the Spanish army marches out all armed with machine guns and forms a line in front of the stage (the Spanish promoter never mentioned this was going to happen). I turned to John and said, ‘this is the best stage security we’ve ever had at a Ramones’ show!’. ” – Monte A. Melnick – tour manager, Ramones
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he collaboration ended in 1986 when Wright set up XL Talent and Giddings decided to go it alone, taking his company name and logo from the first solo transatlantic flight, the Spirit of St Louis. Solo took an office on Fulham High Street (the same office it occupies today) above insurance broker Willie Robertson who provided a wealth of new contacts for the fledgling operation. But Giddings’ most fruitful relationship of this era came from the States. Wayne Forte and Michael Farrell of International Talent Group (ITG) were booking the likes of The Cure, Depeche Mode, Pink Floyd, David Bowie and Duran Duran, and they’d worked with Giddings at TBA. “Wayne and Michael phoned up and said could I do a Julian Lennon gig for them in London,” Giddings recalls. “I put him on at The Town and Country Club [now The Forum] and sold two tickets. It stiffed. I thought, ‘I can’t be embarrassed here,’ so I literally gave away 2,000 tickets. Lennon’s manager Tony Smith turned up and was amazed that the gig had sold out.” “I thought, ‘here’s someone who’s got his head screwed on right’,” says Smith, who was initially unaware the gig had been papered. “Phil Collins was going
“[Punk] was a brilliant time to enter the music business, because you had absolutely no clue what you were doing but groups were having hit singles left, right and centre.”
Photos: Top: a young Giddings with regulation leather jacket Above: The Ramones
John Giddings “ John has been my agent for a number of years now, both with the band Starsailor and myself as a solo artist. Thanks to him we have supported the biggest bands (U2, the Stones), played the biggest festivals (Glastonbury, V, T in the Park, Werchter, Rock am Ring) and also seen every continent in the world. Apart from being a great businessman, he is also a great person who has a good relationship with all his artists. There seems to be no pecking order at Solo as he seems to put as much energy into all his acts, not just the A-listers. It was also a great honour to be asked to play at John and Caroline’s wedding which turned out to be quite a legendary do!” – James Walsh, Starsailor solo and we weren’t happy with our agent, so I called John in for a meeting, and as he walked in, announced, ‘here’s the new agent for Phil Collins’.” “My jaw dropped,” admits Giddings. “That was my first step up, along with Wayne giving me David Bowie to promote at Wembley Stadium. When you suddenly get involved with the premier league, you have to learn that game very quickly or else you get left behind.” Forte admits that his interest in Giddings was not entirely altruistic. “At the time I was trying to put together two or three UK agents to form a joint venture with ITG,” he says. “I was speaking to [agent] Martin Hopewell as well, and when I couldn’t pull the trigger quickly enough, Martin went ahead anyway and called it Primary Talent. It took me another 18 months to convince John it was still a good idea to do.” Forte trusting him with Bowie at Wembley was another watershed in Giddings’ “Not many people know it, but the career as he moved into the super-league first ownership by Clear Channel of venues, albeit without realising at first. in Europe was actually Solo.” “They asked me if I could get Wembley on June 16th, and I booked Wembley Arena, and I went back and they said ‘no, we mean Wembley Stadium!’ and I said, ‘Of course, “ I’ve known John since the late 70s – he was one of of course, I know that’. So I went and booked Wembley the promoters of Abba in Ireland along with Jim Stadium. When they confirmed the show, I went up there Aiken and Ian Wright. Ian and John were at MAM and looked at it, and my legs shook for five minutes.” at the time. While Bowie was a one off, Giddings’ first stadium I always knew John was going to become a major tour was with Genesis. “I’d realised that this was a guy player because he’s so good at what he does. The who learns very fast on his feet,” Smith recalls. “We’d way he believed in the acts he worked with – he quickly found a good working relationship and had a wasn’t another guy trying to flog you a dead horse. lot of fun together. I think John learnt a lot on that He was always concerned with how his artists tour, but he’s always been a lateral thinker, which is were treated, and how they were perceived by the what you need. He’s adaptable and can jump into any audience. I’ve been lucky to work with all his acts situation and take care of it.” since the 70s.” “Genesis taught me a level I didn’t know existed,” – Thomas Johansson, Live Nation Giddings says.
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Photos: Top: David Bowie Above Left: with manager Tony Smith
John Giddings “ If I remember right, I had the fortune to have contract number 1 with Solo. It was Big Country maybe 1986 or 1987, and I have been lucky enough to be mentally beaten by John ever since…” – Risto Juvonen, Live Nation Finland When it was finally formed in 1990, the JV with ITG gave Giddings access to a slew of top-flight talent. It proved to be the most significant landmark in his career, after which a domino effect of artists were added to his roster. ITG’s Canadian JV with Michael Cohl led to Giddings being taken on by the Rolling Stones; when Giddings first met with the Stones’ team, they took him to a showcase by their newly signed protégée Céline Dion; as a favour to Dion’s manager he put a new band on Dion’s Wembley Stadium bill, and The Corrs went on to sell 35 million albums. Back to his relationship with Michael Cohl, and through the Canadian promoter and the Stones he met Arthur Fogel (now CEO of Live Nation Global Touring) which led to U2 and Madonna; and through Fogel and Cohl, he was introduced to current Live Nation president and CEO Michael Rapino, whose first impressions of the English agent were mixed. “I thought he was funny and arrogant, he says. “Now I realise he’s a funny, arrogant music business genius.” “Because ITG and Michael Cohl had owned part of Solo, when Clear Channel bought [Cohl’s] BCL Group, they naturally inherited 10% of Solo Agency. Not many people know it, but the first ownership by Clear Channel
in Europe was actually Solo,” says Giddings. Four years after the ITG JV had disbanded, Giddings was ready to go all in, and in 1999 signed Solo up for a five-year tour with the newly launched Clear Channel Entertainment, which included Cohl, Fogel and Rapino as principals. “I took Solo from Fulham to Oxford Circus [in Central London] and shared an office with Michael Rapino and we had a great time,” Giddings says. “It was the founding years of that organisation [which became Live Nation] and it was a shame when Michael went back to run America because I enjoyed being
Photos: Top: with David Bowie at Wembley Arena Left: Iggy Pop
John Giddings with him on a daily basis. He’s one of the most successful, driven people I’ve ever met; he’s made a great job of that company and I admire him for it.” After five years, however, Giddings chose not to renew his contract. “I decided to take my company back and to become a boutique again but that we’d work together jointly for the rest of our lives. I do Live Nation global touring for the Stones, U2 and Madonna, and the Isle of Wight Festival and agency is Solo’s.” Giddings says that his loyalty to Rapino and Fogel will never change, and names them both – alongside Forte, Cohl and Tony Smith – as the most important figures in his career. “We’ve been in business together forever and we win or lose together. To change affiliations at this time in a career would be a mistake,” he says, but his close relationship with the multinational has not precluded him from working with other promoters. “It varies – I do tours with [UK promoters] Triple A, Simon Moran and Danny Betesh. Ultimately, it’s the artist’s decision and you work for them, but I would make a decision to promote with Live Nation first, unless somebody wants it differently, because I know the organisation and trust them.” Meanwhile, Rapino is clear about what Giddings brings to Live Nation’s table: “ He’s one of my closest, most trusted friends,” he says. “For our business, when you add John to Arthur Fogel’s touring leadership, it’s the best team in the world. John helps complete
“Groups want to earn money. They don’t care to be drinking with their agent at 4am; they want to be represented by someone that’s in the office the next day.”
“John and I have worked together for 20 years. During that time we have promoted/produced tours for U2, Madonna, The Police, David Bowie and others – including most of the top performing tours of all time. John’s dedication, expertise and insight have been nothing short of invaluable. We have shared any number of bizarre, hilarious and challenging experiences and through it all there is John’s great sense of humour. Whether frolicking on the beach in Miami, or fearing for our lives in Moscow, or negotiating with the church in Lisbon, or swimming in Köln, or eating eggs and ham in too many places to remember. From CPI to BCL to TNA to SFX to Clear Channel to Live Nation, there has always been John and his friendship. A very talented man, completely deserving of this recognition but more importantly an incredibly good and honourable man.” – Arthur Fogel, Live Nation Touring
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Photos: Top: with Andy Mackay from Roxy Music Above: Giddings rocks the mic at Isle of Wight Festival
“ John is always firm but fair – he will listen to what a promoter has to say and take it on board. He’s not someone that just wants the highest guarantee possible without caring; he’s an agent that builds careers. He’s straight up, you know where you stand with him and there’s no bullshit. He’s been very supportive of me over the years, and I’d like to think we’ve been equally as supportive of him. I count him as a very good friend, although he still doesn’t do me any favours on the deals!” – Denis Desmond, MCD our global touring platform like no one else could do.” And in a period when the business is increasingly split between the independents on one side and the corporate superpowers on the other, Giddings stands firmly on the latter. “These worldwide tours changed the structure of the music business,” he says. “As opposed to selling to a third party, Live Nation takes the risk worldwide, and the artist gets the global satisfaction of (a) knowing their money is secure; and (b) knowing the marketing is all the same. Otherwise you’d turn up in Budapest and see a poster that bore no resemblance to anything you’d ever seen advertising ‘Greatest hits from the 80s live’ and the artist would fire you! These deals have brought a new professionalism to the touring industry.”
t was while sharing an office with Rapino that Giddings diversified with a new project – something that has since yielded some of his proudest and most difficult moments. ‘The Isle of Wight council asked everybody in the music business to restart the festival, but no one was interested,” Giddings says. “Everyone thought it was a joke and couldn’t be bothered. I was there in 1970 and saw Jimi Hendrix, and I fancied a day out of the office, so I took the train down and got on the ferry. I wasn’t taking it seriously at all, but it all came flooding back to me. I thought it would be fun to restart, and it was a challenge I hadn’t had.” The 2002 relaunch drew 8,000 fans to watch The “ Initially I wasn’t too sure about John – I thought he was a bit odd, and he used to call me The Invisible Man because I was never at the gigs, but then I got to know him. We both have our ways but we’ve worked together for ten years and it’s always a pleasure. John tells it like it is, he’s very direct and we never have to bullshit each other. Sarah Sherlock in the office is fantastic, he’s got a great team and I really don’t know anybody else like him. And if they’re ever making a movie about him I think John Malkovich should play him!” – Louis Walsh, Manager Photos: Top: with Herman Schueremans at ILMC 20 Above: with Paul Weller
“ I have known John since 1977 and I gave him Big Country when he set up Solo. I do believe it was the first act he booked when going solo. Neither the band nor I regretted the move. He was very much part of their meteoric rise to success. Knowing where to place a band at any time in their career venue-wise is a skill. It takes judgement and getting it right is only measured by full venues, be it pubs, clubs, halls, arenas or stadiums. John is now a master. He deserves this accolade and more. The man loves music, is honest, a straight talker, dedicated, a hard worker and has charm. I can’t speak highly enough of him.” – Ian Grant, Track Records Charlatans, Robert Plant, Ash and Starsailor – hardly the 25,000-ticket triumph Giddings had hoped. “I go grey thinking about trying to convince groups to come and play in that first year,” he says. “Believing in it more than most and losing money was hard, but I thought it was an investment worth making.” 2003 welcomed Paul Weller and Bryan Adams as headliners; 2004 saw Stereophonics, The Who and David Bowie, and gradually the numbers returned. At its current capacity of 60,000, Isle of Wight Festival is now a key summer date in the UK.
“The music policy of the festival is simple,” Giddings says. “It’s groups I like. It’s why Isle of Wight has an eclectic mix of artists. One good thing about being old is that you’ve lived through different generations of music, and I love Razorlight, Snow Patrol and Keane as much as I love the Stones, The Police and the Sex Pistols. It’s like putting a jigsaw together and then you see 60,000 people come and enjoy it.” Over the nine years since it restarted, Giddings says there has been a multitude of highs, although he dryly recalls that “paying hundreds of thousands of pounds for the Rolling Stones to bring their B Stage so they could play three songs on it” might not have been one of them. But with the festival now officially the most renowned event in the island’s calendar and worth an estimated £10million (€11.5m) to the local economy, Giddings has created a legacy with a long future ahead. And it’s an achievement he believes would have been impossible without working as European promoter on the Clear Channel/Live Nation touring side. “It’s being a promoter and it’s gambling,” he says. So is there a preference to agency or promoting? “It’s 50/50 really. I sell acts to third parties and I promote concerts when we take the risk ourselves. The proportion might differ from year to year, but overall I’ve always been an agent and a promoter. I learnt at MAM that certain groups don’t want to pay Photo: The Rolling Stones
John Giddings agency commission in the UK because, rightly or wrongly, they think their mother could promote the concert. So if you promote the concert and take the risk in the UK yourself, you maintain agency representation outside, and you have a closer relationship with the artist as well because you’re guaranteeing the money.” One such promotion project last year “...if you promote the concert and was Spandau Ballet, who Giddings spent five take the risk in the UK yourself, you years trying to convince to reform. When tickets for the nine-date Reformation arena maintain agency representation tour went on sale in April, London’s The O2 outside, and you have a closer sold-out in 20 minutes and extra dates were relationship with the artist...” added almost immediately in the capital, Birmingham and Liverpool. This year the band has embarked on a world jaunt that includes Australia. “John was instrumental in getting “W e played the first Isle of Wight Festival in 2003, them back together again,” says Steve Dagger at the band’s and this guy I’d never met asked me to do an management. “He believed they could do the business interview, which I did, even though I didn’t know they have when nobody else did, and he relentlessly who he was. A few months later, I was at a David convinced others. That he spent five years without giving Bowie gig at Manchester Cricket Ground, when up really shows John’s tenacity and vision.” I saw the same guy at the bar. ‘What are you “ When he’s your enemy he’s a serious opponent; when you’re on the same team he’s a brilliant mind. It’s been a remarkable, ambivalent relationship.” – Marek Lieberberg, MLK
doing here?’ I asked, to which he replied, ‘I’m David Bowie’s agent’ in the authoritative way that John does. I just thought he was a local from the Isle of Wight! I was writing a solo album at the time and I wanted to work with other people, so John offered to book ‘the odd’ show for me. The first two gigs turned out to be with the Rolling Stones, so perhaps unsurprisingly, he’s still my agent! For me though, it’s beyond business; it’s more about our friendship and I really like the guy. Even if I am still waiting for the statue on the Isle of Wight that he’s been promising me for years...” - Tim Burgess, The Charlatans
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nother new project last year was a foray into Formula 1 with F1 Rocks – a global campaign to bring music events to motor racing. The first event at the Singapore Grand Prix in October 2009 saw the likes of Beyoncé, Black Eyed Peas, N*E*R*D and Simple Minds perform live to 27,000 fans and broadcast in 172 countries to 30 million more people. For Giddings, a long-term motor racing fan, being ‘global agent and promoter’ for F1 Rocks was a dream come true. “When they phoned me up to ask whether I wanted to get involved I was in Monaco before they finished the question,” he says, comparing drivers to pop stars, and a grand prix to gigs. “Bernie Ecclestone is my idol because
Photos: Top: with Tim Burgess of The Charlatans Above left: Jordan Grand Prix 10th anniversary at Donnington, April 2004 Above Right: with Prince Charles at a Princes Trust show (Meatloaf ) at the Royal Albert Hall, 1994
John Giddings he’s the promoter, the agent and the manager! He does all the deals with himself, it’s fantastic.” “The Formula 1 organisation is one of my new roles in life,” he continues. “It’s much more enjoyable than finding some scuzzy little band in some dank club; children who think I’m too old to talk to anybody.” But up and comings are being taken under Solo’s wing. The newest musical recruit is South African singer/songwriter Arno Carstens whose debut UK album is released through Sony in April, and the firm is also managing a Warner-signed girl group that have a 360-deal but currently no name. Giddings, however, is generally wary of taking on new acts, partly due to time constraints, and partly through bitter experience. “To break a new act now, first off, nobody sells records; secondly it takes five years; thirdly, the manager tends to change; and fourthly, I’ll never forget with The Corrs that when they sold 35 million albums they stopped gigging because they’d made all the money!” he says. It’s a frustrating quandary, but if he had to stop tomorrow, Giddings says he’d feel nothing but gratitude. “I was at Live Aid, Live 8 and Live Earth,” he says. “I’ve lived the golden age of music, which I don’t think will ever be repeated again… it’s been a blessing to be involved in all of it.” Not that he’s contemplating quitting. And
given his role as global agent and promoter for some of the world’s biggest acts, key holder to one of the biggest brands in festival history, and now the interface between music and Formula 1 racing, it’s hard to imagine a single reason why he would. If there is a particular bugbear about the business, Giddings says it’s dishonesty which he finds most offensive. “I don’t bullshit people as I think you should always be honest and say what you think. Sometimes it’s to the point of bluntness because people think I’m joking when I’m not.” But overall, Giddings gripes about very little indeed. “I can’t think of anything else I could have done in life,” he says. “Half the time I don’t think I have a job, I think I just have fun.”
“ John is a fantastic agent and as a result has built up a tremendous roster of artists who he is very loyal to, and in return are loyal to him and stay with him. He has the ability to get the best deals for his artist, protect them, ensure they play the right venues and situations but while giving the promoter a reasonable chance of success – it’s not always easy to please both sides.” – Danny Betesh, Kennedy Street
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Further testimonials... “ Beneath his mask of grumpiness, John remains a thoroughly nice man. Tough and cunning as a tiger in negotiation, working ferocious hours, but maintaining his humanity and kindness, loyal to his old friends, still in love with the music that he promotes, and always acting like a true gentleman. This is practically unique in his line of work, but it is part of the reason for his extraordinary success. I can’t think of anything bad to say about the man.” – Brian Hinton, Isle of Wight biographer “ I love, love, love John!! I started working with him in 1986 right after he formed Solo. He is very special to me and has always made it clear that he is in my corner. Here’s what I wrote about him in my tour diary from 2004: We got to the backstage area. The Mooncusser film crew was there shooting. John Giddings, my agent, was backstage already. He has been my agent for a long time, nearly 20 years. I was tickled that he was there before me. ‘We are HERE!” he shouted at me. “Yes,” I agreed, wondering for a second what he was talking about.“The moment has arrived!” he said dramatically. “I TOLD you we’d have a festival at the Isle of Wight! And you would be on it! You didn’t believe me!!’ It’s true, we had been talking about doing the Isle of Wight festival for years. But why did he say I didn’t believe him? Of course I did. When he gets an idea in his brain about something, he keeps at it until it happens.” – Suzanne Vega “ I have known John for 20 years and the first thing that I think of when I think of him is that he makes me laugh, even in the middle of a tough negotiation we end up laughing. He is also fair and I enjoy doing business with him. One of the funniest afternoons I have ever spent was when we met for lunch many years ago when I was at the London Arena in Docklands. We lunched on a boat right next to one of the many building sites that are now Canary Wharf. A storm came up and
the restaurant was abandoned. Everyone evacuated, even the staff, but John insisted that we stayed and finished lunch with the boat practically capsizing and scaffolding poles raining down on our heads…. Luckily, the rest of the diners had left their bottles of wine on their tables and we survived! – Nicky Dunn, Odyssey Arena “ People tend to say that John’s cynical, but for me, I wouldn’t be in business if it wasn’t for John. Twentyone years ago I told him I was quitting, but he called me back and said, ‘don’t do this’ and he gave me Phil Collins, David Bowie and Tears for Fears. Which isn’t something you expect when you go bankrupt! I didn’t get them for free, but I don’t think many agents would have taken the gamble. For sure he’s the agent of the decade, if not one of the most important and extraordinary careers in the rock business.” – Alain Lahana, Le Rat des Villes “ I have enough stories about John to write a book! One such incident that caused eyebrows to be raised in the Big Country camp was when a game of table tennis during the gig at Dublin’s Point nearly ruined the evening for 10,000 punters. As John relaxed with a knockabout, he was blissfully unaware that the room we were in had no ceiling and was in fact positioned by the stage and sound equipment. Unbeknown to him, the audience and band were picking up the ping-pong of the balls throughout the entire arena between each song. The problem was compounded when the band came off stage. Having figured out what it was that had caused the distraction they then asked for feedback about the gig. We had been dug a hole into which we immediately fell! This was just the tip of the iceberg, but when you’re dealing with one of the UK’s greatest ever agents and most loyal and decent people, then you can forgive him anything!” – Alan Edwards, Outside Organisation
Photos: Left: F1 Rocks Singapore, October 2009 Centre: Giddings gives Kate Moss and Pete Doherty a lift in his personalised Isle of Wight buggy Right: with promoters Ritmos e Blues and The Police, Lisbon 2007
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European Arena Report 2010
Last year’s arena report recorded an 8% drop in attendance at music shows in 2008. It was the first time in a decade that numbers had fallen significantly at arenas, and moving into a recession, the figures were worrying. Given the lag time of consumers purchasing tickets before attending the show, the drop sounded warning bells in certain quarters. This year’s report polled roughly the same number of arenas – 51 venues in 17 countries – again with the intention of measuring the health of this vital sector of the wider entertainment industry. While the UK’s National Arenas Association (NAA) publishes comprehensive national data, there’s currently no comparative effort on a pan-European scale, hence these next few pages. Helping us achieve this, we must thank the European Arenas Association (EAA), and specifically Linda Bull, whose input has been invaluable. In order to gain as accurate information as possible, no individual figures have been quoted in this report, merely aggregated data published as one result. And finally, not all arenas have answered every question, so where necessary we have illustrated the sample size of respondents. Greg Parmley, Editor
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Attendance 08/09 Total attendance (all shows) 2009: 30.38 million Total attendance (all shows) 2008: 29 million
Change: Up 6% Total attendance (music) 2009: 15.05 million Total attendance (music) 2008: 14.95 million
Change: Up 0.6% (sample size: 47 arenas)
Attendance and Capacity So, first up, the headline statistics, and given the economic shape of 2009 as a whole, it’s remarkably good news. Overall attendance (for all shows including music, and discounting arenas that were not fully open over the period) rose 6% between 2008 and 2009, from 29 million to 30.8 million tickets. “It was a pretty impressive year given comparisons with other industries at the moment; there was a lot of good product out there in 2009,” says NAA chairman Phil Mead, MD of arenas at Birmingham’s NEC Group in the UK. The rise is not so steep when purely considering live music, which experienced a 0.6% increase over the same
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2010 period (from 14.95 million to 15.05 million) but given that music experienced the sharpest drop last year, that the curve is once more headed in the right direction is positive. “The situation is very different in different markets,” cautions EAA president Philippe Ventadour, director general of the Bercy in Paris. “We have members in the Baltics and members in England, and business is very different in these parts. Depending on local economy, music is going well, sport is more difficult and the smaller countries have been touched more by the crisis. In the big cities it’s working well though. It’s almost hard to classify it as a crisis, because certain events are full; what works, works well, and business is good.” Perhaps the clearest indicator that arenas are generally healthy is that – like any species in a favourable environment – they’re continuing to get bigger. Between 2008 and 2009, the average capacity increased 2.5% – from 13,118 to 13,459. Malmö Arena opened in Sweden with a 15,500-capacity for concerts; Birmingham’s LG Arena reopened after a £29million (€32m) refit, having added 2,200 seats; and TUI Arena in Hannover, Germany, bumped its capacity from 12,000 to 14,000. Combining this with data from last year’s report, European arenas have grown by nearly 5% in three years. And they’re far from finished [see In the Pipeline p69]. The Ahoy in Rotterdam is closing on 1 March for a €40m refurbishment programme that will include new backstage and toilet facilities; a higher, more robust roof; and an entirely new end-bank of seats. By its 40th birthday on 1 January 2011, it will be able to invite 3,500 extra guests to a party that previously held 10,000. The Ahoy is far from alone in its quest to add more seats, and yet another example is Jaguar Indoor Arena in Coventry, UK, which is currently being upped to 10,000. But while the larger capacities are obligatory for attracting the top name acts, there’s a widespread move towards offering a flexible capacity at both ends of the scale. O2 World in Berlin, Arena Beograd in Belgrade, 3,532 full time 28%
12,741 part time 72%
(sample size: 51 arenas)
Gelredome in Arnhem (Netherlands), O2 Arena in Prague, Palacio Vistalegre in Madrid, Ricoh Arena in Coventry and Nottingham Arena (both in the UK) are all either working on a draping system for their main venue or developing smaller buildings within their complex. This is in addition to the plethora of venues that already use a flexible configuration to cater for family shows or smaller productions. The ISS Dome in Düsseldorf is a perfectly averagesized arena at 13,400 for concerts, but as a part of a trio of big venues (with the 7,500-cap Philipshalle and the 66,000-cap Esprit Arena), owners DüsseldorfCongress are keen to stress the range of available options. “Whatever artist you have or how much capacity you want, we have everything in Düsseldorf, because we manage every size of venue that anyone wants to have,” says spokesman Rainer Schüler. “If something doesn’t sell well, or it’s extremely popular, we can move it between venues, provided that the dates are available. It’s happened recently with Pearl Jam and [German comedian] Mario Barth.” “We’re going to see more events with, on average, less spectators,” predicts Uwe Frommhold at Hamburg’s Color Line Arena. “We predict more shows that are planned for arenas but that do not utilise the maximum seating capacity,” agrees Anders Backman at Hartwall Areena in Helsinki. “Big technical productions but with more of an intimate club feeling.”
Ticket Prices 08/09 Average ticket price (music) 2009: €42.54 Average ticket price (music) 2008: €40.43
Change: Up 5% Average ticket price (non-music) 2009: €27.06 Average ticket price (non-music) 2008: €26.78
Change: Up 0.1% (sample size: 43 arenas)
Ticket Price While attendance at all events rose 6% between 2008/2009, the price of tickets for non-music events remained virtually stable. And with attendance at music concerts also remaining virtually stable, ticket prices rose 5% in that period. It’s an interesting pattern given the current economic climate: as ticket prices go up does attendance flatten off? It would be problematic to draw such firm conclusions, but some non-music events (which include theatre-style productions and family shows) have certainly felt the pinch this year, and
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2010 the relative freeze in prices could well reflect producers pre-empting soft sales. “It’s in the repeat business, the Disney on Ices or Cirque de Soleils and so on where it’s a bit harder to sell a ticket in this environment,” says the NEC’s Mead. Jos van der Vegt at The Ahoy concurs, adding: “It’s proving difficult for some shows and musicals to sell tickets at the moment, so there is still concern there moving into this year.” But as much as venues are now able to market shows more efficiently and utilise their own customer data to assist with promotion, ticket prices are principally set by the promoter, and Mead says that their ongoing rise has little to do with hire charges. “Rents haven’t gone up at the pace that the costs have gone up,” he says. Caught in a Catch 22 situation of often needing to recoup massive capital investments in their buildings, but not wanting to deter customers with high ticket prices, the explosion of new revenue streams over the last few years has been remarkable. “More and more if you look at the development of new arenas around Europe and around the world you’re starting to build restaurants with arenas in the middle, rather than arenas with some food and beverage service around it,” Mead says, and nowhere is this quite as evident than in the ongoing roll out of AEG Europe, which in the two and a half years since opening The O2 in London, has amassed 15 facilities in seven markets, making it the largest venue operator on the continent. “Our business is really threefold,” explains VP of business development Brian Kabatznick. “We have events, which were up 25% in 2009; corporate sponsorship where we’ve added a number of new partners such as Sky and lastminute.com here at The O2 [in London], Visa in Berlin and Stockholm; and VIP and premium seating, which are big markets.” With food and beverage added to the mix, and traditional ancillaries like car parking and merchandise, the result is a plethora of ways arenas are generating income. The O2 in London, a benchmark for the new generation of buildings, has 96 VIP boxes that it rents annually. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we start looking at making some smaller and some larger, giving our corporate base variety,” Kabatznick says. And with naming rights deals now commonly attracting major brands, Lucy Noble at London’s Royal Albert Hall says the involvement of the corporates has dramatically changed the playing field: “The profile of the arena industry has changed [with these deals],” she says. “With a great deal of marketing and media power and spend behind them [brands] raise the profile of the entertainment industry as a whole and lift the customer service and experience to a level never previously experienced.” But just as Ventadour cautioned against tarring
Other 11% Comedy 5%
every market with the same brush, Kabatznick says that sponsorship income works far better in larger markets. “We target major markets but if you’re in a small market and you’re dependent on ten advertisers and half of them pull their support, where do you replace that from?” he asks.
Venue Usage While size matters, it’s clearly what you do with it that counts. And as far as venue usage goes, music accounts for 41%, with sport second at 26%, then family entertainment at 17%. The splits are similar to what we recorded last year, although comedy, which still has a marginal 5%, has risen over 60% since our last report, when it accounted for just 3% of venue usage. “Comedy is becoming more and more an arena experience,” says John Drury at Wembley Arena. “We had ten nights of comedy in 2009, with Michael McIntyre, Eddie Izzard and Russell Howard, and more to come in 2010.” In the UK, comedian Peter Kay sold out 20 nights at Manchester Evening News Arena (MENA) within an hour for The Tour That Doesn’t Tour in April and May. The run far eclipsed the arena’s previous longest run, which was 11 nights with Take That in December 2007. Kay will play to 10,000 per night at a £35 (€40) ticket price, and considering that the stage set of his last tour was a chair and a balloon, the profit margin is nothing to laugh at. But while existing genres performing well is one thing, the trend for arenas to develop their own content has moved on a stage. Christmas shows and one-off/inhouse productions are increasingly common (The Ahoy’s Christmas show attracted 80,000 visitors in 2008), but there’s a shift towards developing touring shows via networks of arenas. “There are a number of venues in the NAA that are interested in helping to develop new product,” Mead
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2010 says. “Not in the concert industry because we don’t want to be biting off the hand that feeds us, but if we can support some new special events being developed then I think that would be a new area for the association to venture into. It’s how Walking with Dinosaurs came onto the market, because the venues in Australia were looking to fill space and they helped develop it. So new product is something we’re looking at. The key is who your producer partner is.” Last year, AEG launched the British Music Experience and The Official Michael Jackson Exhibition at The O2 in London, and was involved in developing Star Wars: A Musical Journey. “We can do this because we have a network; we have the real estate from the US to Europe to China and Australia,” Kabatznick says. “As a standalone building it’s very difficult because you have high risk and limited reward. The successes that we have in the AEG network we can then take to the other facilities, so it’s just not building up a Christmas spectacular that’s going to do one show, we’re able to do multiple nights here and then look at other venues.”
when it comes to the harder times like now, when people want value for money, we can get the experience right.” Kabatznick, however, says there’s still a long way to go before Europe has the network of modern arenas it deserves. “There is a lack of quality facilities,” he says. “There have been a number of new facilities that have opened in the last ten years, but there are some markets that just have no facilities or older facilities that either need upgrading or replacement. The challenge is finance. Typically, there has to be a certain amount of public subsidy because the capital that you spend will never support the debt service if you have to borrow that money from a private entity.” AEG is currently building venues in Stockholm, Bratislava and Istanbul, renovating The Ahoy and looking for the final round of funding for a new arena in Copenhagen. When Copenhagen does open, it will be competing hard with Malmö Arena, which opened in November 2008 and is just 20 minutes from the Danish capital via the Öresund Bridge. Far from plugging into a network of venues, Malmö Arena is privately owned by sports entrepreneur Percy Nilsson. “We have 3.6 million people living less than an hour away by car, and the arena is 70 metres from the new Hyllie train station which opens in December 2010 that will have over 300 trains passing the arena every day,” says MD Karin Mårtensson. With this cluster of new builds in the area, it will likely become a competition hotspot, and ‘competition from other venues’ was the third most rated factor affecting the arena sector. “In this competitive market we have to watch everything – the venue, the staff, the service, the food – very carefully,” says Mike Keller at O2 World in Berlin. “Arena cities will have to work harder to ensure audiences are maintained and artists continue to include them on their tour,” adds Tim Banfield at Liverpool Echo Arena in the UK. “This will be especially important for
Business Factors Of the 51 arenas surveyed, 32 said high artists’ fees and ticket prices were the first or second most important factor affecting their business. That and the recession – which half of all arenas ranked in the same position – were considered, by a large margin, the two most important factors. But while the recession gave cause to tighten belts and budgets, Mead says the slow reinvention of the sector has helped ward off its effects. “There has been a lot of investment in arenas in recent years, before the recession kicked in or that carried on through it,” he says. “A good proportion of the venues have either upgraded or are being rebuilt and so 20
‘What are the first and second most important factors affecting your business?’
First most important factor
Second most important factor
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In conso dustry lidatio n
Licen s legisla ing tion
Comp etitio n artist for tours
ts tion c os Produ c
of suit a head ble liners
Artist ticket fees/ price s
Comp etit otherion from v and aenues renas
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2010 regional arenas [outside of capital cities] such as Liverpool, Nottingham, Sheffield and Cardiff.” But Wembley’s John Drury points out that rather than divide existing market share, by expanding the customer experience, new competitors have helped grow the market. “In 2009, there were 11 different events that played both Wembley and The O2,” he says. “It can make sense to play both venues as well – marketing costs can, to a certain extent, be amortised across both venues.” Similarly, The Ahoy’s Van der Vegt is unconcerned about the new 15,600capacity Ziggo Dome that opens in Amsterdam next year. “Three years ago the UK had 17 arenas serving 55 million people, while in the Netherlands there was just one real indoor arena serving 16 million. So there should certainly be room for two arenas here,” he says.
Environment While the proportion of venues recycling between 0% and 25% of their waste remains at the same level as last year (58%), the proportion of arenas that now claim to recycle 75% and above has risen from 10% last year to 18%. It’s also clear that many buildings are engaging with environmental issues, even if it may be the result of a
legislative stick combined with some good PR. “Energy use and the carbon tax that’s coming in is a big issue,” Mead says. Nevertheless, a variety of schemes are underway. Color Line Arena in Hamburg uses rainwater to flush toilets and F&B outlets are stocked with biodegradable cups; Ethias Arena in Hasselt, Belgium is building wind turbines to power public transport; last year the NEC Group invested £300,000 (€344,000) in an on-site recycling centre which diverted 450 tonnes from landfill in six months; Liverpool Echo Arena was built with a variety
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2010 of green features in its design; the Royal Albert Hall has just introduced a cycle scheme for staff travelling to work; and Glasgow’s SECC has planted 40 acres of trees.
Conclusion The results of this year’s survey bear out the old observation that in times of economic hardship people still want to be entertained. 2009 might not have been a record-breaking year, but by remaining focused on their customers and improving service levels, the majority of arenas surveyed made it through comfortably. Given the continued hardships faced by the recording sector and as income from live performance becomes more vital than ever, there will only be more venues opening to meet this need, so competition between facilities is certain to increase. Whether via in-house networks such as AEG, or associations such as the NAA, the pooling of resources to develop new content is likely something that will develop over the next 12-24 months. Ticket prices are clearly still a concern, but by spreading their bets on a variety of different entertainment genres – and in some cases developing new ones – many facilities are insuring against a decline in any one area. One current trend is for detailed customer satisfaction surveys, to gain insight about what areas of the experience can be improved, and it’s yet another example of how the proactive venues are getting, and staying, ahead. And as arenas strive to become destination venues, offering a wider range of entertainment options, live performance is increasingly just one cookie in the jar. What’s certain, however, is that as a sector of the business used to housing the mid- to top- level artists, arenas are facing as much change on the horizon as the rest of the business, whether that be ticketing and the after effects of the Live Nation/Ticketmaster merger; residencies and the pull of capital markets; developments in premium seating and the changing needs of corporate partners; security issues; or just the simple day-to-day evolution of how to find that next customer and put a smile on their face.
In the Pipeline With the amount of work being undertaken or planned by arenas across Europe, it’s a wonder there’s any time for shows… • Arena Beograd, Serbia: Refurbishment of its 2,000capacity hall, draping system and new sound system all planned. • Arena Leipzig, Germany: Renovation of backstage artist/production area. • Color Line Arena, Germany: Plan on upgrading suites. • Ethias Arena, Belgium: Upgrading backstage area; new offices and club/disco on site; upgrading hospitality area, catering areas and refurbishing its theatre. • Gelredome, Holland: Recently refurbished VIP lounge and invested in rigging facilities and a 12,500-capacity configuration of the venue. • The NIA, UK: Currently seeking naming rights deal for major refurbishment in 2011/2012. • Nottingham Arena, UK: Refurbishing public and VIP bars and restaurants and creating a draping system for flexible capacity. • O2 Arena, Czech Republic: Planning to complete the smaller 4,000-cap venue adjacent to the main arena. • The O2, UK: Hotel to be built alongside venue. • O2 World, Germany: Developing a draping system that will reduce capacity to 7,000 for smaller events. • Palacio Vistalegre Arena, Spain: Currently building ‘The Box’ to host smaller concerts and a wider variety of events. • Ricoh Arena, UK: Extending the capacity of the Jaguar Indoor Arena to 10,000. • SECC, UK: The Scottish National Arena is currently under construction at the Glasgow site, and venue operators promise “an enhanced experience; superb sightlines to the stage from each of the 12,500 seats and the acoustics will be of the highest standard.”
Participating Arenas Ahoy (Rotterdam, NL); Alexandra Palace (London, UK); Ancienne Belgique (Brussels, BE); Arena Beograd (Belgrade, RS); Arena Differdange (Differdange, LU); Arena Leipzig (Leipzig, DE); Arena Riga (Riga, LV); Braehead Arena (Glasgow, UK); Cardiff International Arena (Cardiff, UK); Color Line Arena (Hamburg, DE); Earls Court & Olympia (London, UK); Ethias Arena (Hasselt, BE); Fånix Arena (Debrecen, HU); Festhalle Messe (Frankfurt, DE); Forum Copenhagen (Copenhagen, DK); GelreDome (Arnhem, NL); Hallenstadion (Zürich, CH); Hartwall Areena (Helsinki, FI); Heineken Music Hall (Amsterdam, NL); LG Arena (Birmingham, UK); Liverpool Echo Arena (Liverpool, UK); Lotto Arena (Antwerp, BE); Malmö Arena (Malmö, SE); Manchester Evening News Arena (Manchester, UK); Mediolanum Forum
(Assago, IT); Metro Radio Arena (Newcastle, UK); The NIA (Birmingham, UK); O2 Arena (Prague, CZ); O2 World (Berlin, DE); Odyssey Arena (Belfast, UK); Palacio Vistalegre (Madrid, SP); Palais Omnisports de Paris Bercy (Paris, FR); Palalottomatica (Rome, IT); Pavilhão Atlântico (Lisbon, PT); Porsche-Arena (Stuttgart, DE); Press & Journal Arena (Aberdeen, UK); Ricoh Arena (Coventry, UK); Royal Albert Hall (London, UK); Salzburgarena (Salzburg, AT); Scandinavium (Gothenburg, SE); SECC (Glasgow, UK); Sheffield Arena (Sheffield, UK); The O2 (London, UK); The O2 Dublin (Dublin, IE); Tipsport arena (Liberec, CZ); Trent FM Arena (Nottingham); TUI Arena (Hannover, DE); Turkuhalli (Turku, FI); Wembley Arena (London, UK); Westpoint Arena (Exeter, UK).
IBERIA The Nordics
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While one of its number is still reeling from the economic storm, the majority of the Nordic live music markets are weathering the chills as though they’re used to it. Adam Woods reports...
he Nordic region is one where you expect them to do things right. In The Economist’s global Quality of Life Index, last calculated five years ago, only Finland fell (just) outside the top ten, with Norway (third), Sweden (fifth), Iceland (seventh) and Denmark (ninth) all clustering around the pinnacle, putting most of Europe to shame. There had to be a catch. It turns out there were two. The lesser one is the fact that the allegedly civilised Stockholm, largest city in the region, has been scraping by all these years without a decent stadium venue. “We have always really wanted to have outdoor concerts in Stockholm,” says Ninna Engberg, managing director of AEG’s Stockholm Globe Arenas. “Madonna and Bruce Springsteen, if they play in Sweden, have to play in Gothenburg.” So much for those high-specification, thought-ofeverything Swedes. Fortunately, 2012 will bring not one but two solutions to that particular problem: the 65,000-capacity Swedbank Arena in Solna, and the AEG-managed Stockholm Arena (with 30,000 seats and a retractable roof ) that commenced construction last August on a site next door to the Ericsson Globe. And you just know they’ll be well designed. But a far more serious blight on the Nordic region raised its head in October 2008, when Iceland – banks, retail groups, live industry and all – was effectively wiped off the face of the commercial world. Its debts cartoonishly huge and its currency crippled, it currently registers mainly as an unhappy minus figure on the balance sheets of other European nations. Needless to say, Reykjavik’s boom period as a key tour stop has come to a sudden halt, with only the well-loved Iceland Airwaves festival surviving. But it isn’t more than 18 months since Iceland – a 320,000-strong island – was punching far above its weight. Indeed, it seems like no time at all since it was staging concerts on a phenomenal scale. “Our Metallica concert in 2004 – the biggest concert ever held in Iceland – had 7% of the population attending,” says Lisa Hanson, director of RR, the oldest concert promoter in Iceland. “We could have sold more had we had the capacity.” Local music entrepreneur Einar Bárðarson remembers looking into world-class bands for private parties held by Icelandic billionaires. “There were a few crazy things flying around,” he adds. “It really wasn’t that long ago when it seemed anything was possible.”
Across a remarkably cooperative region, Iceland’s fellow Nordic nations have suffered comparatively little in the downturn. Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland all maintain their status as touring destinations, and all five have recently put together a pact to coordinate their music export effort. But in economic terms, there are suddenly two distinct sides to the Nordic coin. “We went to sleep on a Saturday, and when we woke up on the Sunday morning, we were all broke,” says Hanson. “Now there is nothing being done here at all. There are no shows turning up here; local bands had quite a lot of sponsorship to go abroad and play, and they have lost everything.” Temporarily then, the Nordic region has come to mean the other four, at least as far as bands and their agents are concerned. And in contrast to the lurching fortunes of Iceland, the other key territories remain a model of well-managed prosperity, relatively untroubled by incident. In Sweden, where Thomas Johansson’s EMA Telstar/Live Nation organisation has been the biggest local and regional promoter since the 1970s, the closest thing to a shake-up has been the arrival of AEG, which opened its Stockholm office in 2007. Led by former EMA Telstar promoter David Maloney, AEG Live Sweden has successfully claimed a respectable chunk of the superstar concert business that continues to thrive, in Sweden as elsewhere. “We are moving in the right direction,” he says. “We had a great year in 2009, with shows by Britney Spears, Beyoncé, Green Day, Muse, Morrissey, Maxwell, Chris Brown. But it’s too early to say whether we will open offices in other parts of Scandinavia – we have only been around for two years.” Live Nation keeps a firm grip on the region as a whole. Overseen by Johansson in Stockholm, its empire has been partly based on timely acquisitions of established promoters, from EMA Telstar to the Welldone Agency in Finland, DKB Motor in Denmark and Norway’s Gunnar Eide Concerts. Having ushered U2, Madonna, Bruce Springsteen and Metallica through the region last year, while also accompanying Bob Dylan, Rod Stewart and Iron Maiden into the neighbouring Baltic states and as far as Russia, Johansson is hard pressed to find anything bad to say about the Nordic market as it stands. “2009 was an absolutely awesome year,” he says. “If there is one thing I would say, it is that we should all
be careful to keep ticket prices at a level people can be happy with. It is especially in the good years that you have to be careful.” With the exception of Iceland, the financial crisis has not had deep roots in any of the Nordic nations. All the same, promoters in all countries report a careful attitude to spending across the consumer population, particularly where small- and medium-sized shows are concerned. “The amount of tickets being sold is bigger than ever, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the financial
immediately that ticket sales were awful,” he says. “In the fall of last year, it started up again, and it looks good now – although I don’t know what we will do if Volvo and Saab go bankrupt.” While the Live Nation/AEG face-off in Stockholm is the one that means the most to an international audience (see page 75), a more material rival to the market-leader across the region is ICO Concerts, based in Copenhagen. And managing director Kim Worsøe isn’t entirely sure why fewer local promoters do not attempt to take charge of whole tours of the region in the manner of Live Nation, ICO and, to a lesser extent, AEG. But he does concede that it can be complicated to do so. “There are practical things like withholding tax,” he says. “You don’t have that here, but you do have it in Sweden, Norway, Finland. Also, ticket prices are not on the same level all over Scandinavia, and you need to be aware of that.” Another factor to bear in mind, Worsøe adds, is the low northerly temperatures. “If you want to route a tour in the winter time, you can’t necessarily go all the way to Norway or Finland, because of the weather situation – not necessarily in Oslo, but certainly if you go further north to Trondheim.”
Sweden is the most populous of the Nordic countries (with a population of 9.3million to Denmark’s 5.5m, Finland’s 5.3m, Norway’s 4.8m and Iceland’s 320,000), but the comparative lack of larger facilities in Stockholm has left Copenhagen with a claim to being the region’s live capital – in the eyes of some Danes, at least. “We have a great amount of venues in Copenhagen in the range of 1,000, 3,000, 5,000, 10,000 and 50,000,” says Worsøe. “It is also easier for artists to play Denmark, because we are only four hours up from Hamburg. Sometimes people just play Copenhagen and – Thomas Johansson, Live Nation Sweden skip the rest.” Until Stockholm Arena situation within a single gig is getting any better,” says is completed, Parken Stadium on the eastern edge of Mads Sørensen, director of Danish promoter and agent Copenhagen remains the only covered stadium venue in Beatbox Booking & Concerts. “For big shows, last year Scandinavia. In recent years, Britney Spears has drawn was probably the best year we’ve ever had, with Green 42,000 there and Justin Timberlake 56,000, both for Day, Muse and Massive Attack, but the 500-capacity ICO. Jeppe Jensen, CEO of Danish ticketing company level is definitely suffering.” Billetlugen, which claims about 35% of its market Julius Malmström of Julius Production, based near behind dominant player Ticketmaster, says the Danish Malmö in southern Sweden, promoted concerts with industry continues to see growth, but not in every area Thomas Johansson for years, but these days specialises of its operations. in musicals. He staged High School Musical in Oslo “It is a pretty healthy market,” he says. “Some venues and Stockholm last year and is now touring the region, are suffering from the financial crisis, but it is not so capitalising on newly improved conditions in his area of much in terms of ticket sales as food and beverage sales. the market. “In fall 2008, the crisis came, and we saw The total economy for the venues is suffering and the
“We should all be careful to keep ticket prices at a level people can be happy with. It is especially in the good years that you have to be careful.”
Photo: Roskilde audience. © Carsten Bundgaard.
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The Nordics corporate market is down, but the consumer market is still spending on live entertainment tickets.” The arrival in November 2008 of Parkfast’s new 15,500-capacity Malmö Arena has put another interesting spin on the live geography of southern Scandinavia, where Denmark and Sweden meet across the Øresund Bridge. Situated a long way south of Stockholm, Malmö takes advantage of a favourable Danish-Swedish exchange rate and draws many of its visitors from Copenhagen. Consequently, it finds itself in an unusual position with promoters. “Between 15% and 20% of our visitors for music events come from Denmark,” says Malmö Arena managing director Karin Mårtensson. “We have worked with Danish and Swedish promoters, and we are also creating our own events, because as a new venue that opened in a world financial crisis, we can’t take any chances.” The ongoing fallout from the crisis is still affecting more than ticket sales, and for promoters, the same blustery economic winds mean that fluctuating exchange rates can easily wipe out the profit on international shows. “We pay international artists however they want to be paid – usually in dollars or Euros,” says Worsøe. “The tricky part is, both the pound and the dollar are up and down like a yo-yo, and it can make the difference between making money and losing money, definitely.” Needless to say, the Nordic nations are far from dependent on international artists for their amusement. Local Norwegian heroes with international appeal include A-ha, Lindstrøm and Kings of Convenience. Sweden gave us Abba and is now a powerhouse
for both pop and electronic music from The Knife/ Fever Ray to Robyn and Lykke Li. Denmark has Mew, Alphabeat and the reformed Aqua; Finland is a metal hub, whose bands include HIM, Nightwish and Apocalyptica; and Iceland has Björk, Sigur Rós, Emiliana Torrini and many others. Meanwhile, according to Brian Nielsen, CEO of Århus-based promoter and agent Skandinavian, which specialises in Danish and regional acts, local and regional repertoire is only becoming more important in the Nordics. “My analysis is that we are getting more into the French way of looking at this,” says Nielsen. “The radio is playing more local stuff and the government is supporting the exploitation of local talent in a stronger way.” He brings up the local iTunes chart to make his point and counts seven Danish acts in the Top ten of both the album and singles chart. “I think international sales have gone slightly down and local sales have gone slightly up,” he says. “I am setting a Danish record with one of my acts, Nephew, who are close to selling out five arenas in Copenhagen in March, which is pretty good.” Julius Malmström would certainly prefer to see his market go further that way. “Last year in Sweden, we saw [Live Nation-promoted] Madonna and Springsteen – about ten of these arena concerts, all sold out. We are just 9m people in Sweden and maybe 2m, 2.5m of them are ticket buyers. If you sell 700,000 tickets for these international artists, there is no money left for the local artists.”
If Scandinavia in general has a healthy respect for its own musical output, then Finland – technically a Nordic, not a Scandinavian nation – really takes it to new heights. According to local industry data, 54% of albums sold – Paulina Ahokas, Music Export Finland in Finland are by Finnish artists, compared to around 30% for the other Nordic countries. The local live scene bears out that picture, particularly on the festival front, where the highlights of the calendar include Ruisrock, Jyväskylä Festival and Ankkarock. Under the control of Juhani Merimaa, promoter of Ankkarock and owner of Helsinki’s pivotal Tavastia Club venue, the 40-year-old Ruisrock festival has returned to first principles in recent years and now draws largely on Finnish talent, spiced with a handful of international stars. “I can name 15 or 20 festivals here that can sell 20,000-30,000 tickets with a predominantly Finnish line-up,” says Paulina Ahokas, director of Music Export Finland. “Over the summer, there is a festival of that size in Finland every weekend. Last summer, I was
“The cooperation between Nordic countries goes back to 1952, 40 years before the foundation of the EU.”
Photo: Satyricon at Øya Festival
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“We went to sleep on a
Saturday, and when we woke up on the Sunday morning, we were all broke.” – Lisa Hanson, RR Ehf
putting my bet on the fact that some of those would have to go bust, but absolutely none of them did.” Speed Promotions, Finland’s biggest independent promoter, runs the Race & Rock festival at Seinäjoki and in June will launch Helsinki Live, a one-day rock show in the capital. “Our aim is to make this an annual event as the starting point for the Finnish festival summer,” says Speed’s Kalle Keskinen, who also brought Britney Spears and The Prodigy to Finland last year. “Even though people are talking about recession in Finland and many other industries have decreased, people still want to indulge themselves.” In Iceland, international acts are scarce now, but Anna Hildur, managing director of Iceland Music Export, believes local acts have benefitted, even if promoters have been left in the cold. “In actual fact, the attendance at [local artists’] gigs has gone up, because people now have less money to do the extravagant things they used to do like buying cars and going abroad five times a year,” she says. “Where the market has gone down is in importing foreign bands to Iceland. For Icelandic bands, the scene is more DIY and people mainly promote their shows themselves. Promoters who worked with international talent have mostly diverted to something else while the crisis is going on.” The joint initiative spearheaded by the music export offices of the five countries – under the banner Ja Ja Ja – illustrates a culture of cooperation at the heart of Nordic music, in spite of the languages and distances that divide them. “The cooperation between Nordic countries goes back to 1952, 40 years before the foundation of the EU,” says Ahokas. “We haven’t needed passports or visas to work in each other’s countries since then. All of us have been on some sort of school summer camp in one of the other territories.” That cooperation is not just at a political and infrastructural level. Norway’s Øya Festival, which sells 85,000 tickets over four days in Oslo’s Medieval Park, deliberately coincides with Sweden’s Way Out West and Finland’s Flow festival in mid-August. The three have been known to negotiate jointly for bands, and along with Denmark’s mighty Roskilde Festival – still by far the largest in the region – Øya and Way Out West last year lobbied Scandinavian politicians on international emissions targets. “The countries are a little bit different,” says Øya’s head of booking Claes Olsen. “Music we like in Norway doesn’t always work in Sweden, and all of us have our own domestic acts. But we make a lot of offers with Way Out West and Flow.” So there it is. Stylish furniture, indestructible cars, a world-leading quality of life – and they all get on with each other as well. Photo: Coldplay at Roskilde © Anders Birch, Rockphoto
Clash of the Titans
I’m here, I’m not going to go away,” says Thomas Johansson, amiably dismissing AEG as an immediate threat to Live Nation’s dominance of the region. “They moved into Stockholm, they are four people. In Sweden, we are 70; in the Nordic region we are 120. We do 1,800 shows a year; they do a lot less than that.” The top pair are far from equal in Scandinavia and the wider region, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t locked horns. The Hultsfred Festival – for many years Sweden’s biggest rock event – transferred its booking to AEG when David Maloney moved across. In response, Live Nation launched Where The Action Is in 2008 and targeted the same weekend in June, attracting Queens of the Stone Age and Foo Fighters the first year and Neil Young, the Pixies and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds in 2009. Hultsfred responded last year with Kings of Leon, The Killers and Franz Ferdinand and is scheduled to return in 2010, but in December it had to be bailed out with a cash injection from the local council of SEK24million (€2.4m). Hultsfred aside, Johansson has mild words for AEG and Maloney, pointing out that a key part of Live Nation’s regional strategy has long been to maintain offices in every territory. So far, AEG is only in Sweden.
“David Maloney worked for us for many years – he is a good promoter,” he says. “But it takes a long, long, long time to build up a good solid base in terms of the artists you work with, and a good solid base in your relationships with venues.” Maloney identifies these very things as the particular challenge AEG Live Sweden faces, and he believes they are going well. “EMA Telstar has done the major percentage of shows in Sweden for the past 30 years,” says the Manchester-born, Swedishbred Maloney. “They have long-term relationships with a lot of acts, but we have managed to promote class-A bands. We are thinking hard about other bands to target, but we are not trying to book everything that comes.” If anything, both companies look to be following divergent interests; while Live Nation continues to focus on its global touring model, the past few years have seen AEG push more for facilities. In addition to the new Stockholm Arena, it is in the final stages of securing funding for a new 15,000-capacity arena in Copenhagen it will part own. When both new venues are finally built, AEG will be at pains to give both promoters fair deals on rent, even if the chances of them using a Ticketmaster box office system are slim.
Photos: Top: Rockslide Festival Left: Stockholm Stadium (artist’s impression) Middle: Sonisphere Festival 2009 Right: Øya Festival site
Northern Lights IQ’s Terry McNally takes his pick of the best new Nordic talent...
Since New Politics first entered a Danish music competition in 2009 they have become a growing sensation. Following their first New York show in January, the trio completed a 25date UK club tour in February. www.newpoliticsrock.com
Choir of Young Believers
Mixing folk and orchestral pop melodies, CoYB’s European tour wrapped up in January and a new album is rumoured to be in the recording stage right now. Industry interest for this award-winning outfit extends to Australia, the UK and US. www.myspace.com/choirofyoungbelievers
Oh No Ono
Oh No Ono’s debut album Eggs was released in early February. Described along similar terms to MGMT, the five-piece is set to tour Europe and North America in the spring. www.ohnoono.com/home/
The Five Corners Quintet
Popular with hipsters and jazz fans, this crossover outfit has shifted over 30,000 records in Japan alone and sold out three consecutive nights at the Blue Note in Tokyo. Agency booking is through Elastic Artists. www.thefivecornersquintet.com
One of the most successful Finnish rock acts release their fourth album Karma Killer on 7 May. With a strong fanbase in Japan and China already, the Warner-signed quintet is represented by Welldone and Contra Promotion. www.negative.fi
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Le Corps Mince de Françoise
The Megaphonic Thrift
One of the most hyped Finnish bands right now, this all-girl trio have a steaming new single, Something Golden, out on Kitsune, and an album on the way. Already loved by Artrocker, Clash, NME and the Guardian.
This band considers their music to be “noise-pop with aspects of shoegaze”. Their album Decay Decoy will be released in Norway in March, after which the four-piece head to SXSW in Texas.
I Was a King
Three years after SeaBear’s debut album they are now set to release their follow up, We Built A Fire, in March. SeaBear will be playing no less than five shows at SXSW before a European jaunt in May. http://www.myspace.com/seabear
I Was a King’s 2007 debut was awarded 8 out of 10 by NME, and their latest release, featuring a collaboration with Sufjan Stevens, was released in the UK in February. The band tours Europe in March and April. www.myspace.com/iwasaking
Sad Day for Puppets
Agent Fresco plays “polyrhythmic odd-time rock”. It’s weird, hugely energetic and a riot to watch live. Their debut EP received instant praise from Iceland’s music scene and a debut album is imminent.
Sad Day for Puppets formed back in 2006 and was handpicked to support MGMT on their Swedish dates. The indie rockers are signed to Sonic Cathedral in the UK where they’re making headway.
The Sound of Arrows
Orchestral pop outfit Hjaltalín has garnered strong praise from UK media as well as at home. Represented by ITB in Europe, the band’s second album was released in November in Iceland.
The Tallest Man on Earth
This promising indie pop band built a fanbase by releasing one song at a time. Their full length debut album is currently being recorded by Radiohead/ Beck producer Nigel Godrich.
Serena Maneesh has supported the likes of The Dandy Warhols and Oasis. Signed to 4AD, following a storming set at Eurosonic last month they’re heading out across Europe and the US in March.
The Tallest Man on Earth is an alias for Kristian Matsson, who’s touted in some circles as ‘the new Dylan’. Matsson has released a full-length album called Shallow Grave and is currently touring Europe. www.myspace.com/thetallestmanonearth
Photos: Left to Right: New Politics, Oh No Ono, The Tallest Man on Earth, Les Corps Mince de Françoise
Steering the Superdome Before The O2, AEG Europe CEO David Campbell worked a variety of media jobs on both sides of the Atlantic. He spent 11 years under Richard Branson (eventually running Virgin Radio) and then commanded the London Tourist Board under mayor Ken Livingstone, selling the capital to the world. When it opened in June 2006, The O2 was an outcast with a chequered past, but under Campbell’s leadership it has become the world’s most popular arena, welcoming 2.3 million ticket holders last year. Q. What led you to The O2?
A chance meeting with Tim Leiweke, when I was trying to sell him something, and in true Tim Leiweke style he managed to turn the tables and sell me something, which was coming to run the show here. The more he talked about the AEG vision for what they wanted to do, the more interesting it became, although there were quite a few scary moments after we agreed to do it, when you kind of wake up and think, ‘What are we doing with this big white elephant called The Dome?’ Q. It’s 2½ years since The O2 opened. What’s been your biggest challenge since Bon Jovi struck their first chord?
It’s amazing to think that it was this time last year (early February) that we were just about to sign Michael Jackson up. Up until that point, for 15-18 months, we didn’t know whether it was going to happen, and then it did, and then just before it began, the tragedy happened. When I first saw a rough cut of the film, This is It, it was a really bittersweet moment; it was great to see how the performance would have been, but in many ways you just thought, ‘I can’t believe that we were two weeks away’. So that’s got to be the toughest, most challenging thing, and I still have very mixed emotions about it. Q. What are you focussed on at the moment?
Making The O2 better. And the most important thing is not to become complacent. With [market research company] JD Power we have now started putting in more formal measurements of customer service and customer satisfaction, and we benchmark ourselves against hotels to see how we perform. It’s nice to know how you perform against another music arena, but that is really not what is important to us. What is important is knowing, in somebody’s leisure spend, how we perform versus what they would get somewhere else. Q. Will we see many changes at the venue over the next 24-36 months?
We love the residency-model idea, and I think there is a great future in it. When we did Prince, right at the
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beginning, they were his only dates in the world, but with Bon Jovi’s world tour, the main European element of that is based here, but worldwide they go and tour as per normal. So there are different models that can make that up and make it work. Also, we are going to go out and develop new content. A good example of that is Star Wars, which we did last year with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, working with Another Planet in San Francisco. It is great to see that evolve into a worldwide tour and come back and be back with us this spring, but as an SJM tour. So we’re looking to seed new ideas and get involved in new things.
“We have a strange situation where we are probably the biggest customer of Ticketmaster in the UK, and their parent company is using a different system. It’s bizarre!” Q. How will the Live Nation merger affect AEG Facilities?
As far as it impacts us here in the UK, it is business as normal. There will not be any immediate changes and I hope that overall it brings more competition in the marketplace, because that is a good thing. I hope everybody will be on their best behaviour – which is also a good thing. It will be interesting to see how CTS [Eventim] does with Live Nation as they’ve just started to roll out that system in the last couple of days. We have a strange situation where we are probably the biggest customer of Ticketmaster in the UK, and their parent company is using a different system. It’s bizarre! Q. Will corporations continue to set the course of the industry?
Last year, the value of the live market [in the UK] passed the recorded market for the first time. That gap has only increased in the last 12 months. If you look at the number of shows in London before we opened and after we opened, they have increased dramatically. We
are building up that live sector, and I do not think that would have necessarily happened unless you had a corporation like AEG involved in it. It is also good because it has invigorated artists and the revenue streams coming into them; revenue streams that aren’t coming from the recorded sector, and unless somebody builds up the live sector, you are not going to get more people writing, performing and developing as live artists. Q. What’s the greatest lesson learnt from launching The O2 that has translated to other European markets?
If you talk to the guys in the States (Tim and everyone there) they will tell you that you learn from every single thing you do, and I think that’s true. For me, as someone who’s spent a lot of time in media, it is a little bit like putting on a show…you put it on and then you move on to the next location, but the big difference is that our shows are built of concrete, and you can’t change them. So you’ve really got to think things through before you cast them in stone. Q. What’s going to make a difference to the entertainment business over the next few years?
We had our best year ever last year, and that was probably in one of the worst economic years going. Our ticket sales are still very strong with people buying tickets nine months ahead, so they are parting with cash and there is still a big appetite for live performances in very difficult economic times. So we have to keep improving that, and even in the short time we have been around, the standard of the production, the standard of shows, has improved. It wasn’t so long ago that maybe not the world’s best video screen and set of speakers got you into a live show, but you would die if you turned up here with a poor set of production and poor sound because we spent a lot of money on the acoustics of the building and it shows. I
don’t care who you are…if you walk in here and it sounds bad, it’s not us. We, as an industry, have to keep saying: ‘How do we make these shows better for people? How do we improve that performance?’ Q. What’s the plan for AEG Facilities over the next 24-36 months?
Developing The O2 was AEG as a company trying to do something outside of North America. We own it, we operate it, we have invested about £350million [€397m] in what is here today and there is more to come. What we want to do is take some of that expertise but not be spending £350m in every city we set down in; we want to take our management expertise and operational expertise and make that work with other people. Q. What do you do to relax?
I spend time with the kids, which is kind of cool as they grow up, but before this I used to be the sad person sat in a pub listening to the guy playing guitar in the corner whilst everyone else was at the bar talking, so I genuinely like live music and clearly here I’ve got one of the best windows onto live performance. At the moment I am the proverbial pig in shit. The one thing that keeps you going between the ups and downs is the fact that, being a great industry, there is nothing, not technology or media, nothing, that can replicate a live performance. It helps a whole lot when you’re passionate about, and care about, your job.
“ I don’t care who you are…if you walk in here and it sounds bad, it’s not us.”
In Focus 2 1 1) I Q’s Allan McGowan hosted the first European Festival Awards in Groningen in January. Here, he presents the promoter of the year award to Live Nation Belgium’s Herman Schueremans, one of three he picked up on the night. 2) A ussie promoter Michael Gudinski (right) is interviewed by Ralph Simon at Midem in Cannes as Frontier Touring celebrates its 30th anniversary. Photo: Pool 360 Medias/Image & Co
3) G erman promoter Marek Lieberberg (right) and CEO of Sony Music Entertainment Germany Edgar Berger (left) are interviewed at Midem in Cannes on 26 Jan. This year the music fair attracted 7,200 delegates from over 70 countries. Photo: Pool 360 Medias/Image & Co 4) The Eurosonic Noorderslag conference welcomed a record 2,800 professionals from 14-16 Jan. The festival panel included Folkert Koopmans (FKP Scorpio), Eric van Eerdenburg (Mojo Concerts), Nick Hobbs (Charmenko) & Fruzsina Szép (Sziget). Photo: Mike Breeuwer
5) E urosonic’s panel devoted to booking agents was chaired by Allan McGowan (left) and featured ITB’s Lucy Dickins, William Hann from 13 Artists and Tom Windish from Windish Agency in New York (far right). Photo: Henri Blommers .6) S even former chairmen of The Brit Awards assemble to celebrate
30 years of the UK award ceremony. (l to r) Rob Dickins, Peter Jamieson, Paul Burger, Tony Wadsworth, John Deacon, Paul Russell & Paul Conroy. Photo: JM International
7) E lio Leoni-Sceti, CEO of EMI Music, relaxes with Phil Collins at the Brit Awards in the week it emerged the troubled music company has lost £3billion of its value since 2007 and put Abbey Road Studios up for sale. Photo: JM International Want to send in photos for inclusion? email email@example.com
I Q Ma g a z i n e Ma rc h 2 0 1 0
The Green Room
“What single invention or idea would you like to see happen in the next ten years?” If you would like to send feedback, comments or suggestions for future Your Shout topics, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
TOP SHOUT! Jens Michow – IDKV
I dream about the future every night and I’m aware that ideas and inventions take time to become reality, but I’m pretty sure that by 2020 we’ll see the following: • The interest of the European promoters associations will be represented by a single Pan-European umbrella association, with a professional managing director. • Because the last reasonable tax revenue in most European countries comes from live entertainment, Tim Clark and David Enthoven – IE Music
Collective licensing of all recorded music. Roger Edwards – Palladium Dubai
There is no substitute for the live experience, being with like-minded people; technology and inventions will never change that. However, I would wish for truly bottomless pockets to meet car park and bar costs. Rob Holden – IHT Records
John Gammon – Pollstar
A faster keyboard. Typing stories takes up far too much of my time. Mark Harding – Showsec
An outdoor-festival morning de-grumpifier with priority given to those who stayed up too late on the first night of the event. Andy Lenthall – PSA
A humourtron-automated Your Shout response device.
I Q Ma g a z i n e Ma rc h 2 0 1 0
Ed Grossman – MGR
I would like to see a holographic ‘Gigcaster’ machine invented, in 2, 3 or even 4D. It would have access to every gig that ever took place. You would choose the concert you wanted to be at and it would beam itself into your ‘gig room’ at home. So for example, if you wanted to see The Three Tenors, they would all appear life-size and complete with orchestra. Personally, I would choose the 1990 World Cup event as it was their first gig. And for an extra monthly payment, the Gigcaster can beam the audience to you as well. Promoters can choose to make deals that only allow a Gigcast, say, three months after the show or tour or sooner if they wish. 4D is required if a festival is being beamed. The 4th D allows the smell, the taste, the weather and perhaps the food to be enjoyed. Imagine having John Lennon sitting at your piano singing Imagine or Fred Astaire dancing next to you.
governments will have made desperate efforts to fund all areas of this market. • European promoters will be free to choose any European performing rights organisation and will not be tied to associations in their own country. • Waves of authors will leave European PRS companies and because income from mechanical and airplay rights is less than marginal anyhow, they will clear the relevant performing rights income with the promoter directly. • Withholding taxes will be abolished. • The recording industry will be fully controlled by the promoters. • The unequal SocialSecurity for artists in countries like Germany will be abolished. Unfortunately, when I wake up, I realise it was just a dream… Bryan Grant – Britannia Row
A new, digital, give-atoss meter because mine’s broken already. Martin Goebbels – Apex Insurance
There becomes a “secondary insurance policy market” which raises prices as high and as quickly as it has tickets. I own the rights to the idea so can retire to a sunny beach (one which has been saved from sinking or burning up with global changes by a fantastic new invention....or perhaps a simple one such as “care”) and watch Chelsea games beamed live to my iPod while you all discuss at every conference panel for the next ten years. The conference will of course take place via satellite links so saving flights and gasses, and keeping my beach even safer! Happy days! Kari Pössi – Blue Buddha Agency
I want to see a new email system that is very
similar to the old-style telephone: eg one email at a time. Only once you’ve answered it do you get the next one. That way there’s no stress anymore! Rense van Kessel – Friendly Fire BV
I’d prefer warping (like in Star Trek)… would save a hell lot of time… Gus Gómez – LD Eventos
I’d love to see wireless power distribution. How much easier our lives could be!
IQ is the essential magazine for the international live music business that provides a year-round focus on emerging trends and crucial busin...
Published on Feb 25, 2010
IQ is the essential magazine for the international live music business that provides a year-round focus on emerging trends and crucial busin...