Meetings - Saturday
The Emerging Markets Place: Changing games
The Venue's Venue: The control pads
Ticketing: The disruptors
Workshop: The grassroots venue
The Dragon's Den with Ossy Hoppe
Workshop: Twitter and fan engagement
Show Safety: Health points
Alternative Entertainment: New games to play
New Technology: Bits and bots
Industry Relationships: Setting the moral compass
The Dragon's Den with Michael Gudinski
Industry Out-takes: It'll be alright on the night pt ii
A bottle of Slovakian tokay wine, kindly supplied by moderator Michal Kaščák of Pohoda festival, was on hand to soothe sore heads at this morning panel, which looked at the challenges and opportunities presented by promoting shows in emerging markets around the world.
Joining Kaščák were promoters Semyon Galperin of Russia’s Ural Production Centre, Thomas Ovesen of Dubai-based 117 Live, Codruta Vulcu of ARTmania Festival in Romania and Live Nation Asia’s Dennis Argenzia, and UTA agent Jules de Lattre.
De Lattre started by saying he believes that the limited supply of bands in most emerging markets makes seeing them live “more exceptional than seeing a band in London, for example, where [almost] every band has played at least once”. He used the example of Tel Aviv, where many of his bands have had “the most amazing crowd response”.
Russia is a market with a lot of potential, said Galperin (it has “15 cities with a population of more than a million”), but has seen the live sector collapse – and Live Nation all but pull out – since its annexation of the Crimea and the sanctions that followed. “Before Crimea we viewed ourselves as a fast-growing emerging market that could pay lots of money to bands,” he said. “Now we can’t, but we’re still trying to do our thing.”
The live music industry in Romania, meanwhile, is “still pretty unstable”, said Vulcu, mostly owing to excessive taxation and a lack of regulatory oversight. “It took a tragedy [the Bucharest club fire] for the government to realise, ‘Wow, we have an underground [music scene] – what’s that?’” she explained. “We have festivals, we have shows, but we have no regulations – or when they do exist they’re not enforced. After the fire, the government realised the [55,000-capacity] National Arena had no fire licence!”
Argenzia pointed out that one advantage of the big corporate promoters becoming involved in developing markets is the introduction of international health and safety standards, which Vulcu agreed was a good thing.
A big challenge as a promoter in Asia, said Argenzia, is bringing artists to the Asian market early in their career. Usually when a band has released one album, he explained, they’ll only tour Europe and North America, meaning that when they get bigger and promoters do want to bring them to Asia and other emerging markets it’s difficult to gauge if the demand is there.
“I think a lot of independent promoters think that when you have any problems, you just call your main office and they will save you!” joked Kaščák. Argenzia replied “I don’t have the Bat-phone in my office. I can’t just call up and say, ‘Hey, Mr Rapino…’”
Argenzia added that Live Nation in Asia, as in the rest of the world, partners with local promoters, such as Neil Thompson in Bangkok, who understand the local market, “so you’re still working with the same promoter. They’re still real individuals, just working under a different moniker – we’re not just flying in people from LA.”
Ovesen highlighted the uniqueness of the Middle East as “the only region in the world where Pepsi outsells Coca-Cola – and Live Nation isn’t market leader!” He did, however, concede that when 117 Live finishes its under-construction 25,000-capacity amphitheatre in Dubai, “Live Nation are going to need to get off the fence and start putting on more shows” in the region (currently most promoters put on six or seven shows a year, said Ovesen, whereas 117 Live will need more like 25 to 30 when the venue is completed).
While Argenzia said that Live Nation Asia is primarily targeting locals – “I want my crowd to be 95% Chinese in China,” he commented – Ovesen explained that 117 Live is promoting only international artists, as the UAE has a population of roughly 10 million, of which only one million are locals.
“Is there any underground [or local] music?” Kaščák asked. Apart from a largely frowned-upon heavy metal community among Emirati youth, not really, said Ovesen. Although there’s certainly more than in neighbouring Saudi Arabia, where Andrea Bocelli was recently allowed to perform a rare concert for an all-female audience, he explained. Why Andrea Bocelli? Because he’s blind and so couldn’t see the ladies, of course.
Dennis Argencia, Live Nation (HK)
Semyon Galperin, Ural Production Centre LLC (RU)
Jules de Lattre, United Talent Agency (UK)
Thomas Ovesen, 117 Live (AE)
Codruta Vulcu, ArtMania (RO)
This panel’s focus was on making venues workable in the modern era and if renovated venues or new venues were the best solution – with France, Sweden, the UK and Australia all providing their own case studies.
Julien Collette of the AccorHotels Arena in Paris opened by talking about the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on Le Bataclan last year. “It affected us personally and professionally,” he said, adding that the country was still in a state of emergency and that armed officers remained stationed outside schools and public venues like concert halls. “We have very strong safety and security measures in place,” he said. “The venue looks like a fortress so it is not very business friendly, as you can imagine.”
He said that he hopes the French government suspends this state of emergency soon as there is an added financial cost whereby venues and promoters are having to split the cost of security and this is having a serious impact on the business.
Moving on, he talked about his renovated venue that now has a capacity of 20,000, with Muse having played six nights there recently to 19,000 people a night. The renovation costs came in at €135m and the venue had really only opened when the attacks in the city happened. Asked if it was more cost-effective to start from scratch and build a new venue, he said that being in the city centre was key to getting audiences to come and so renovating in a major capital city is not straightforward.
Don Elford of AEG Ogden discussed the new venue his company is creating by Sydney Harbour in Australia, which will open later in the year. The whole precinct redevelopment cost AU$1.5bn and will be “an absolute game-changer” for the city. It replaces a 12,000-capacity venue that had operated since 1983. As there is another 21,000-capacity venue in the city there was an explicit decision to not compete directly with it in terms of capacity. “We didn’t want to build another one of those,” he said. “We made a conscious decision to fill the void in Sydney.” Investment was critical, as they are not just competing with venues in the same city or even the same country now. “There is a lot of competition in South East Asia for conventions,” he suggested. “We cannot be second-grade here.”
Karin Mårtensson said Malmö Arena in Sweden opened in 2008 and cost around €85m and the challenge is to keep it maintained properly so its life span is as long as it can be. “We try to improve ourselves every day,” she said. A new arena in nearby Copenhagen could be a real disruptor for them. “We knew about it since 2012 so I would say we are mentally prepared,” she said, adding that the best outcome is a mutually beneficial one whereby “two national markets” will emerge.
Martin Ingham of the NAA and Motorpoint Arena in Nottingham said the venue cost £42m to build 15 years ago but they have had to invest £9m in recent years for maintenance. “All the money we make in profit gets reinvested back into the venue,” he revealed. He added that venues are, rightly, under more pressure to improve disability access but this is proving complex for older venues to implement properly as they are stuck with certain architectural constraints.
“Disabled customers have a much greater voice than ever before and it’s a very hot politic issue,” he said. “If we were designing our building again, we’d have a lot more disabled access. We are making strides in making the venue more accessible [for disabled customers] and that in turn is creating more demand – and that is a good problem to have.”
He ended by warning that the availability of public money for venues to stay modern is rapidly drying up. “We have been told very clearly there is no more [local authority] subsidy so if we lose money we have to shoulder it ourselves. The future for local authority funding in the UK is limited.”
Some venues also, because they are of historical importance, have their hands tied somewhat when they come to modernising. John Drury of Wembley Arena, speaking from the audience, explained they had to modernise before the O2 opened in London, otherwise “we would have been finished”. The issue was that English Heritage insisted that they keep the venue looking as close to how it did. “You have to do it within the confines of the building which is protected by English Heritage,” he explained. He added that they feel they can push that a bit more now, making the argument that the venue will die unless they are allowed to push the boundaries of what they can improve. There needs to be a balance here.
The session ended by asking if the festival business was cannibalising the arena business. Chairman Kabatznick saw the two as potentially complementary, saying, “The artist’s lifespan has increased as they can play outdoors in the summer and arenas in the autumn, winter and spring.” He added that festivals now happen indoors, pointing to the Country 2 Country festival at the O2 as an example of that. The boundaries are blurring but the conclusion was that a healthy festival space – where acts can break at outdoor events and get to the arena level – was good for the live business overall.
Julien Collette, AccorHotels Arena (FR)
Don Elford, AEG Ogden (AU)
Martin Ingham, NAA (UK)
Karin Mårtensson, Malmö Arena (SE)
Nancy Skipper, EAA (UK)
Is technological disruption bad for the ticketing business, or the best way for it to be pushed into the future? That was the theme that split the panel, with representatives from new start-ups and the established industry debating how all this can be navigated.
“I very much see disruption as a positive word rather than a negative one,” said Jason Legg of Street Team. “We want to work with everyone at the table.” His company is very much focused on disruption at the level of the fan. So too is Stikit, whose Lee Booth added, “We don’t care who sells the ticket. We are interested in who has bought the ticket and how they are going to use it.” He added that it was about fan empowerment, and that can change the business for the better. “Disruption for us is a good thing.”
Andrew Parsons of Ticketmaster took a more circumspect stance. “Disruption means a couple of things,” he said. “We are a market leader in 16 markets but not in every market. We can be a disrupting influence in certain markets.” He added, however, that Ticketmaster itself is not immune to wider disruptive forces. “Disruption is a good thing and ensures it keeps us at the top of our game. That disruption pushes us on and ensures we deliver the best platform we can.”
Scumeck Sabottka of MCT Agentur said that in Germany disruption is overthrowing the incumbents who he feels were holding the market back. Joking, he praised this technological process. “Disruption is good – as long as we can control it!”
Geoff Meall of United Talent Agency was forthright in his belief that technological disruption had made his job harder rather than easier as the utopians had promised. “What does disruption mean for a promoter?” he asked. “To put one fucking show on sale takes so much fucking longer.” There are now so many links in the chain and exclusives and lockdowns when things in the past were more straightforward. The workload is just immense for one show. Please make it easier. It used to be fucking easier! All of this disruption is A PAIN IN THE ARSE!”
Booth took a more philosophical stance when asked about the rush of new entrants into the space. “If you are talking about more ticketing companies – that’s noise, not disruption,” he said. He also questioned just how “disruptive” some of these companies were. Being mobile-only as a ticketing company was not, in his mind, genuinely disruptive. He dismissed many of them as “me-too” firms that were similar in too many ways to the old guard they were trying to drive out.
Geraldine Wilson from Amazon, speaking from the floor, explained what her company was doing here. “Amazon is one of the biggest retailers in physical music,” she said, adding that it is growing in music streaming and ticketing is part of its expansion plans and proposed they were taking a fan-first approach. “How can we make the customer experience better and get those tickets at the best price?” she asked, hinting what Amazon is planning here. “I think there is a big role that technology can play to take that pain away. Watch this space.” The fact that Amazon has what many agree as among the best customer support in the world should raise the bar for what everyone else does here.
The end of the session focused on secondary ticketing, which many on the panel were vehemently opposed to and wished to be eradicated. However, Nick Adair from StubHub, speaking from the floor, laid the blame at the feet of the primary vendors. “A secondary market appears when a primary market is not operating properly,” he said.
There were calls for names to be put on tickets across the board to flush out the opportunists in this space. There was also a pertinent point made that the ticketing industry really needs to streamline the mobile purchasing of tickets because, for now, it is too cumbersome and the fear is that the business is losing customers who want to impulsively buy this way but find it too painful. The ticketing industry, then, is not completely through to the other side of all this disruption.
Lucia Bocankova, Ticketportal (SK)
Jason Legg, Street Team (UK)
Geoff Meall, United Talent Agency (UK)
Andrew Parsons, Ticketmaster (UK)
Scumeck Sabottka, MCT Agentur (DE)
The Grassroots Venue panel saw Mark Davyd (Music Venue’s Trust) and Karsten Schölermann (LiveKomm) explain why small music venues are of such vital importance to the music economy.
Both men began by providing summaries of reports that have recently been published in the UK and Germany. In the UK, London’s Grassroots Venue Rescue Plan published by the Music Venues Taskforce calls for a change in the way we think about music venues. It particularly highlights the agent-of-change principle, which would make life easier for venues, as it puts the responsibility for noise management on the incoming individual or business.
The German industry report highlights the fact that live music venues (up to 1000 square meters) only generate around 2% of the total revenue of Germany’s music industry, and 7% of the total live revenues.
This shouldn’t deviate from the fact that small venues are still the place where almost everybody developed their talent, and not just the artists, Schölermann emphasised. Producers, sound engineers, lighting experts went through there as well before moving on to Live Nation etc. Even the audience developed socially.
Davyd pointed out some inexplicable discrepancies in the way the UK government treats culture: theatres, for example, don’t pay business rates, because of their cultural importance. While the Royal Opera House received £28million in funding, there seemed to be no money for the venues network.
Schölermann addressed one of the most startling findings of the German report: small venues in Germany on average pay a third for artist fees, a third for miscellaneous costs and not even a third for personnel costs. This was only possible because so many volunteers worked in clubs. Davyd added that 50% of the bookers working for small venues in the UK weren’t getting paid.
While many artists never made it to arena level, they still had to be paid by the clubs, who were also in charge of catering and paying the collecting societies, said Schölermannn. “Remember,” he added, “the club doesn’t evolve with the artist - it’s always starting at zero.”
In terms of solutions, both chairmen pointed to two possibilities: subsidies or getting help from the big boys (“the ones making money off of our work”). The big players could, for example, charge an extra 10cents on the millions of tickets they sell and forward that money into a fund out of which small venues can draw whenever a show fails.
It’s already happening in certain countries. And it’s “incredibly cheap to do” said Davyd, who added that it was easy to forget that, at a conference where people are talking about tours that probably generate enough money to buy literally every venue in London. “It is serious. We are losing clubs”, he emphasised.
Saturday’s first Dragon’s Den session was with German live music pioneer (and expert raconteur) Ossy Hoppe, who regaled attendees with a much-condensed version of his fascinating life story.
Hoppe was born into a famous German circus family, and was once the youngest elephant trainer in the world. “Nothing has really changed for me – we still play a few shows in a city then move onto somewhere else,” he joked. “The only thing that’s different is the animals in the music business are more scary… they talk back!”
He met his future employers, Marek Lieberberg and Marcel Avram, then of MAMA Concerts, because MAMA was sponsoring his football team, and soon joined the fledgling promotion firm. “We had no idea what we were doing,” Hoppe recalled. “We were just learning as we go.”
In 1973, when Deep Purple were touring Germany with MAMA, Hoppe convinced lead singer Ian Gillan to take him on tour with the band. “He said, ‘Actually, I just fired the last roadie, so you can come!’” explained Hoppe.
Weeks later, at LAX Airport, Hoppe was driving Gillan and the band in a Lincoln Continental and almost brought his, and Deep Purple’s, careers to an abrupt end. “I’d only driven a Volkswagen in Germany up until that point, so there were all these switches and I didn’t know what any of them did,” said Hoppe. “I pressed one and suddenly felt a leg kick me in the back, and I turned around and Ian was choking in the window! Luckily he forgave me and we still have a great relationship…”
Hoppe didn’t last long as Deep Purple’s road manager – “his girlfriend, Zoe, she was like something from Spinal Tap, she was awful, and she hated me” – and he soon moved onto working with Ozzy Osbourne. “I got a call from [manager and father of Osbourne’s wife, Sharon] Don Arden one day,” said Hoppe. Arden “liked me, for some reason”, he continued, which was just as well seeing as the Mafia-linked agent kept the company of men called things like “‘Paddy the Plank’ and ‘Chainsaw Harry’”.
Hoppe moved back to Germany in 1981 and, after an unsuccessful job interview with CBS Records, decided to become a concert promoter, founding hard rock outfit Top Concerts. His first major artist was old friend Mike Oldfield, who insisted on being paid in cash every night – which backfired when Oldfield and assistant Jeremy Parker left a suitcase full of his earnings in a bar one night…
He then joined Lieberberg at Marek Lieberberg Konzertagentur before founding Coco Tours and Global Concerts with DEAG and, in 2004, Wizard Promotions.
“I’ve promoted over 10,000 concerts in my life,” said Hoppe, “6,000 of them with Wizard.” Wizard alone promoted 1,500 shows last year, although most were by his son, Oliver, rather than Hoppe himself.
Hoppe’s most notable recent success was a comeback show by German band Böhse Onkelz (Evil Uncles) at the Hockenheimring, which sold 570,000 tickets, making it the biggest concert in German history. Backed by a marketing campaign, created by Oliver, which featured only the song title Nothing Lasts Forever and a URL to pre-register for tickets, “We had 800,000 registrations,” recalled Hoppe. “And people didn’t even know what they were registering for!”
Hoppe ended the session with an anecdote from his time on the road with Kiss. Sitting in a hotel one night, Kiss’s manager, Doc McGhee, told Gene Simmons an Egyptian promoter had offered them $1m to play a show in Cairo. “Simmons said, ‘Are you nuts? I’m Jewish, I’m Israeli, they’re going to kill me!’” laughed Hoppe. “And Doc says, ‘That’s why it’s the last date of the tour!’”
Parnell used her presentation to work through the expanding range of products and services within the micro social network and demonstrate how the concert industry can start to really exploit it.
“It’s hard to think of Twitter and live in isolation as [concerts are] often part of the wider marketing for an artist,” she caveated at the start. Where she felt Twitter and live were perfectly matched is in fan engagement. “Live is defined by fan interaction now,” she argued. “Twitter is the easiest way for them to do that.”
While the biggest acts will dominate on Twitter, fame is not the only thing that can gain traction there and this opens up the opportunities for smaller acts to use the platform deftly and feel the benefits. She paralleled the recent high-profile spat between Kanye West and deadmau5 with how non-famous people had created interesting or amusing tweets that took on a viral life of their own. “Good and great content will always travel far and fast on the platform no matter who it is from because of the nature of the platform,” she said. “Twitter is the shortest distance between you and what you are passionate about.”
She described the five main things the team at Twitter can do for artists and events as follows:
· Verification and on boarding (making accounts official and giving tips to get new users on the platform started)
· Campaign idea generation
· Integration and partnerships
· Events (with the Brits being a recent example)
· Big Twitter Moments (such as creating customised emojis for pop stars)
She accepted that the rolling posts on Twitter and the scale it is at now mean that users can feel removed from what is happening there. Therefore, the company launched Moments as a way to make sense of all this noise. A team of curators, all of who used to work on news desks, do most of the heavy lifting for the users and weave a narrative out of handpicked tweets around a topic or story in order to make it easier for users to follow it.
Another new initiative is the option for users to create polls that if used well, can really engage audiences. She said they initially began as a bit of fun but that has changed. “We are now seeing it being used in quite serious ways by the music industry.” Bands like The Vaccines are smart users of this option, she said, “What I love most is when bands ask fans to decide what songs they are going to play.”
The part that can perhaps work best for live is Periscope, the live streaming app that Twitter acquired and now is integrated into tweets rather than via the Periscope app. “It’s a way to see the world through someone else’s eyes.”
When using Periscope, she suggested four key issues to be aware of to ensure the video content connects properly:
She cited Frank Turner doing a broadcast at Alexandra Palace as a strong illustration of this in action. He showed fans around backstage, let them see the sound check and then answered questions live.
“I think video is where a lot of the effort should be focused to bring fans closer to live music,” she said of both Periscope and Vine, the short-form video-looping platform Twitter also owns. Vine kicked off in the US years ago but is only now exploding in the UK. Between both is where the live industry can fit itself most smoothly. “Vine is a nice way to keep sharing content and keep things going and the opportunities with Periscope are really exciting.”
The session started off with Salomon Hazot and Arnaud Meersseman – both from Nous Productions, which promoted the Eagles of Death Metal (EODM) concert in Le Bataclan on November 13 – recounting the attack. You could hear a pin drop while Meersseman relived the moment the terrorists opened fire.
Steve Strange (X-Ray Touring), who represents Eagles of Death Metal, was in Birmingham when the attacks took place. He said, he felt helpless and started blaming himself, when he realised that nobody could have predicted that. “It could have been any city. Any venue. Any band.” He particularly thanks U2’s Bono, who helped EODM get their heads straight again.
MalikaSéguineau from French venue, festival and promoters association Prodiss recalled the measures taken by the French government to help the live sector. Measures included a €4m fund to cover the losses. “In the days following the attack ticket sales fell 80%. Four weeks later attendance was back to normal”, she said, although Hazot disagreed. “Business is not back,” he said.
Still, overall only very few shows were cancelled, and most venues stayed open. “Terrorism doesn’t stop fans from seeing their favourite bands”, Séguineau concluded. According to her, the French music sector is currently working with other sectors, including sport, on good practices for future events. Prodiss is also lobbying the French government for funds.
Michael Hapka (Mercedes-Benz Arena Berlin)increased security measures, body control and bag checks after Paris, and asked fans to arrive earlier because of that. “Everybody had patience and showed understanding”, he recalled. He said the only thing one could really do was to raise the confidence of the audience.
He thought that industry standards were already there, for example in the NBA or NFL. He pointed out that the industry may lose out on content and shows if acts from America decided they didn’t want to play at venues with lower standards.
Aidan Gibson from London’s Metropolitan Police said that even though he could make use of “every tool in the box”, including helicopters and no-fly zones, he’d never give anybody guarantees.
Avisar Savir (SabresPro Group) from Israel is used to a security level that would probably strike most in the western world as over the top. His feeling after Paris was: “Welcome to our world.” He said that, in Israel, no one even notices the security measures anymore, and he thought that this was where the rest of the world was now headed.
The biggest concern for live professionals going forward will obviously be the question of who’s going to pay for increased security. Strange’s EODM only tour with a personal security guard these days. Having to pay for one additional staff-member for an entire tour creates costs that have to be offset elsewhere.
Inspector Steve Allen, London Metropolitan Police (UK)
Aidan Gibson, London Metropolitan Police (UK)
Michael Hapka, Mercedes-Benz Arena Berlin (DE)
Salomon Hazot, Nous Productions (FR)
Sergeant Gordon Noble, London Metropolitan Police (UK)
Steve Strange, X-ray Touring (UK)
Alternative Entertainment: New games to play
A very busy Alternative Entertainment panel saw a cast of producers and promoters from outside the live music world join Semmel Concerts’ Christoph Scholz and the ILMC’s Chris Prosser to peddle their wares to an audience of curious rock promoters.
First up was Andrew Leighton-Pope, whose Leighton Pope agency has brought One Man Star Wars Trilogy – a comedy play by Charles Ross, a Canadian actor whose childhood was “spent in a galaxy far, far away, watching Star Wars videos over and over and over again” – to venues in the UK.
In it, Ross single-handedly plays all the characters, sings the music and fights the battles from the original Star Wars trilogy, condensing the three films into one stage show. He also has the backing of George Lucas, said Leighton Pope, and the Star Wars creator apparently loves the show.
Next it was the turn of Spirit Productions, run by theatre producer David King, who played a promo video with clips from Spiritof the Dance, Putting on the Ritz, Jersey Boys, Bohemian Rhapsody, Dancing Queen, Solid Gold Motown and more. “All good, clean family entertainment!” said King, who added that although promoting shows is, by its very definition, gambling, “we’re a lower level of gamble”.
“Family entertainment isn’t safe, but it’s safer [than rock concerts],” agreed Corrado Canonici, whose World Concert Artists is targeting younger audiences with Siro-A, a “technodelic” dance troupe billed as “Japan’s answer to the Blue Man Group”.
Moving away from family shows, Entertainment Business Development Group (EBDG)’s Jorge Parra was keen to show the audience his Monster X Tour, which he described as “viable, economical and profitable”. The show, which seems to consist mostly of oversized monster trucks crushing things and daredevil motorcyclists flying through the air, is, said Parra, already big in Russia and Latin America.
Parra said he hoped to find long-term “marriages” with promoters around the world, “not a one-night stand”.
Representing Istanbul Entertainment Group (IEG), Selen Tamer Laka presented The Art of Banksy, which made its world premiere in Istanbul on 13 January. Since then, IEG has signed-up four more countries to host the exhibition, which contains the world’s largest collection of artwork by the elusive graffiti artist.
The company wants to partner with promoters worldwide, said Laka, and “work together to create a strategy and help with ticketing and marketing… You don’t just pay a fee and then you’re on your own.”
Completely Independent Distribution’s Nic Wastell closed proceedings with a presentation on his Elvis exhibition, a “family-friendly version” of the King’s life, which attracted rave reviews for its nine-month run at The O2, which ended on 10 January.
David Bigger, WWE (US)
Tom Burns, Summer in the City (UK)
Corrado Canonici, World Concert Artists (UK)
Meriç Dündar, Istanbul Entertainment Group (TR)
David King, Spirit Productions (NL)
Andrew Leighton-Pope, LPO (UK)
Jorge Parra, Monster Truck (US)
Nic Wastell, Completely Independent Distribution Limited (UK)
The final session of the day offered live demos of some of the different technologies hoping to impact on the concert business. Chaired by Steve Machin from .tickets, each company had a tight five minutes to make their big pitch.
The intention was to look at the disruptive services and scythe through the hype. Machin suggested that the live industry has to pre-empt the changes that are coming down the line so that that big technological advances don’t usher in a new generation of companies that could eat the live business’ lunch.
The Ticket Fairy
Describing itself as an event management and marketing platform – and most certainly not a ticketing platform – it is aimed at rewarding fans for helping promote shows. Through super-focusing a client’s marketing efforts it claims to make their ad-spend work smarter and more effectively – claiming that companies signing up see 15-30% uplift in revenues as a result. It offers a full-stack view of spend and where all a company’s customers are coming from.
In essence a way to deliver content to users’ smartphones without the need for an Internet connection. It is device- and OS-agnostic and removes the need for users to pre-install an app to access the service and content. All the user has to do is open the named network in their Wi-Fi setting and connect in order to access whatever content is being made available. This can include anything from music to vouchers for drinks at a festival bar. As all the content is stored locally, it can stream at incredibly fast rates. At the far end, it also slices and dices rich user data to better understand who has access the content.
Tixserve is a highly secure mobile ticket delivery platform and its founders see it as entering a market primed for change. It claims to be able to stem scamming in the secondary market and can be easily adapted to clients’ needs. Its founders see Tixserve as a replacement for existing ticket delivery systems; not immediately, but in time. They are targeting early adopter companies now and then scaling from that. Saying they are not competing with the incumbents, they claim to be able to help them shift to this mobile environment.
An RFID service provider that covers access control, cashless payment and sponsor activation. Riding the RFID boom Connect&Go claims to offer a 4D experience:
1. Individual patron
2. Technology, application and analytics around that individual
3. Capture and share those moments online
4. Digital memento
Samsung has already worked with the company and its owners said that things are almost entirely paid for by the sponsor.
This is Google’s low-cost entry into the virtual reality market and over 5m units were shipped last year, making it the world’s biggest VR viewer. Made from cardboard, users slot their smartphone inside it to view VR content. Google says that VR remains in its infancy and the only way to push it to its next stage is to get the technology into as many hands as possible.
A mobile tech company offering secure delivery solutions. It straddles a secure global network and works with many of the major telcos – reaching 3bn people. Its selling point is harnessing the inherent benefits of mobile:
- Making it harder for touts and robots
- Offering improved authentication and security
- Capturing data and insights on attendees
- Experiential marketing that lengthens the life of an event
- Easier to personalise and socialise
- Cheaper to send
A touring and scheduling system that matches demand/availability of artists with the availability of venues. It also allows the booking of flights and hotels through the interface. In essence, it can be seen as a booking agent service.
This afternoon session saw FKP Scorpio’s Stephan Thanscheidt continue where he’d left off at last September’s well-received inaugural International Festival Forum (IFF), chairing another panel dealing with the death of the traditional festival booking system and the ethics – or lack thereof – of agents and festivals bypassing long-serving national promoters, most of whom will have had a large hand in developing the careers of artists in their respective territories.
His co-host, Mainland Music’s Marc Lambelet, compared the national promoter-free booking model to buying a phone: “You go online, you shop around and find whatever’s cheapest and you buy it, even if it has to come from Singapore rather than the shop down the road.” However, he said, when it comes to live music “just because loyalty is expensive doesn’t mean we don’t pay for it… It has to be paid for.”
Joining Thansheidt and Lambelet were promoters Julia Frank (Wizard Promotions), Dan Steinberg (Emporium Presents) and Herman Schueremans (Live Nation Belgium) and agents Alex Bruford (ATC Live) and Paul Franklin (CAA).
Franklin agreed with Lambelet that loyalty is important, saying he’s loyal to local promoters who do a good job with his acts (that is: “having a strategy, being transparent [and being] someone who I can talk through a campaign with and who knows the band…”).
Schueremans said that “you can’t ask an artist to be loyal if you don’t give them anything”, arguing that the relationship between artist and promoter, or agent and promoter, is one of “give and take”. “We want to build an act with the agent and the manager,” he commented. “We don’t want one-hit wonders.”
One of the more vocal members of the audience was veteran Italian promoter Claudio Trotta, who attributed much of the controversy to the actions of newcomers to the live music industry. “A lot of new people in the business don’t respect the chain,” he said, “and go direct to artists and managers, [which in turn] is fed by a lot of idiot managers and idiot artists.” (He also railed against the popular use of the word ‘artist’ to mean any performing musician, arguing that “a lot of the people with which we work are not artists!”)
Bruford agreed, stating that there are “lots of new managers around at the moment, and not a huge amount of experienced management talent”.
According to Franklin, too many managers are desperate for more shows and will get their artists to “play a tent at a festival for three people because they want to say they’ve done it”.
He also commented that with the proliferation of new festivals – and with them, new and inexperienced festival organisers – there isn’t the personal element that has traditionally characterised the relationship between promoter and agent. “Sometimes I get emails saying, ‘Does James Bay, for example, want to play this place for this much money,’ and sometimes there’s not even a name, a hello, a country, any information…
“Then you get another email saying, ‘You didn’t reply!’, and you think, ‘Who are you?!’”
When pressed for a recent example of ‘disloyalty’, Frank said that Wizard has lost two acts to Live Nation Germany since the latter’s founding at the beginning of this year, including Black Sabbath. “We [Ossy Hoppe] have worked with them for 40 years, but now for their final tour it’s a Live Nation tour.”
Steinberg, however, made himself unpopular with much of the room by arguing that “promoters don’t own bands – you’ve made an investment [promoting their shows] and either made or lost money” and urged national promoters against “getting possessive and getting in the way of a band’s growth”.
As the session wound up and the room began to empty ahead of Feld’s irresistible Ice-Cream Reboot, Lambelet concluded by saying that the debate “isn’t done yet” and that he’d see everyone next time for “chapter three”.
That’s one panel sorted for IFF, then…
Alex Bruford, ATC Live LLP (UK)
Julia Frank, Wizard Promotions (DE)
Paul Franklin, CAA (UK)
Herman Schueremans, Live Nation Belgium
Dan 'Steiny' Steinberg, Emporium Presents (US)
The second up-close-and-personal session at ILMC 28 put industry legend Michael Gudinski In the hot seat as the veteran took the audience through some of the most important passages in his eventful life.
Now considered an industry legend, Gudinski started out on the recorded side of things. “I realised the band needed to have creative control. That’s the reason Mushroom [records] came about.”
He acknowledged the influence of Festival Records, which overcame the “market-with-a-distance issue” Australia was confronted with. “Through Alan [Hely] I met the people that inspired me”, he said.
While it was the band Skyhooks that put Mushroom on the map, working with Kylie Minogue was what Gudinski referred to as “the critical move”. His company offered 360-degree deals before they became a standard, it’s what established his reputation as a visionary internationally.
Referring to the umbrella of companies that is the Mushroom Group, Gudinski said that he had always been reluctant to take out any of those companies for fear the whole construct might collapse. “I want to leave it for the family”, he said, and added quickly that he wasn’t thinking of leaving the stage just yet.
He said that he was “freaked out that Live Nation is becoming so powerful” and fears that a business controlled by big shots would end up being run “like the North Korean military”.
Gudinski admitted that he’d probably have been fired 12 times had he ever been employed. When asked by Chris Prosser what it was like having Gudinski as a boss, he answered honestly: “I’ve been through times where I could be erratic. And I’m slow to get back because I don’t answer my own emails. I hire well, I have a good feel for it. There’s no abuse [going on], although I used to yell and scream a lot. I don’t like being bullshitted to. I give employees enough rope to be able to hang themselves, and I always want them to have a crack.”
He also said that despite in America artists these days pay more for a lawyer than they do for a manager, “there’s still some loyalty left in the business”. The future, to Gudinski, is all about artist development. While “too many people are getting greedy on the live side” – referring amongst others to the author societies – “the artists are going to have more power”.
Carl Leighton Pope hosted a hilarious session of industry out-takes where he and peers from around the world told their favourite horror stories from the business.
Although many tales are too libellous to repeat, they included such instances as Barry Dickins reminiscing about his first European tour, aged 17, with The Who. Carl disclosed that he was once so naïve that when he managed his first act, when asked about the band’s publishing, he didn’t care because he thought the members were too stupid to write a book.
Leon Ramakers told delegates about being on tour with an act and Carl’s band stealing their microphones – an admission he had made 40 years later. Ramakers also recalled that he had started in the business because he had a driver’s licence and an artist needed a ride to the next show.
Among Ramakers’ other admissions was that on seeing that an artist rider stipulated the need for dry ice, he had asked the caterer to provide a very cold fridge “to make the ice as dry as possible.”
Talking about one of his pivotal moments, Carl retold the story of managing an act where one member didn’t tell his wife he was going on tour until he arrived in America. He also spoke about an Ozzy Osbourne “marketing plan” that involved Ozzy pissing on the Alamo, in Texas, and getting arrested to try to help sell tickets.