The Open Forum: The directors’ report

Friday 6 March 2015
11:15 – 12:45
Room 1


As the main session to kick off ILMC 27, The Open Forum sets the tone for the weekend’s discussions throughout the chat caves and bars. It includes a review of the last 12 months in the international business, predictions for the year ahead, and comment from some of the industry’s leading figures. Live Nation's Phil Bowdery is in the hot seat this year, welcoming an all-star cast that includes John Meglen, president and co-CEO of AEG Live; Folkert Koopmans, CEO of festival giant FKP Scorpio; Professor Peter Schwenkow, CEO of Deutsche Entertainment AG; Solo Agency head, John Giddings and Russell Warby from William Morris Endeavor Entertainment. To ensure that the session is as productive as possible, delegates can submit questions in advance – anonymous or otherwise – to [email protected].

Guest speakers include:
John Giddings, Solo Agency (UK)
Folkert Koopmans, FKP Scorpio (DE)
John Meglen, AEG Live (US)
Professor Peter Schwenkow, DEAG (DE)
Russell Warby, William Morris Endeavor Entertainment (UK)

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About John Giddings:
John Giddings took the classic route into live music and along the way became one of the biggest and best known agents and promoters in the world.

Responsible for many of the most high profile tours of recent years including The Rolling Stones, Madonna, Genesis, Celine Dion, Iggy Pop and David Bowie, John also revived the Isle of Wight Festival, the Woodstock of Europe.

John graduated from Exeter Uni in the 70s, having learned the basics of booking bands as a social secretary, before becoming an agent at MAM.  He was in the right place at exactly the right time, as a new wave of fantastic live bands appeared in the form of punk rock.    

In no time, Giddings was representing The Adverts and X-Ray Spex before moving onto The Boomtown Rats, The Ramones and Iggy Pop.  In the early 80s he formed TBA International and worked with Paul Young, Alison Moyet, Big Country, Howard Jones, Tears for Fears and Duran Duran.  In 1987, Giddings literally went solo - forming the Solo Agency Group!  

His ascent from massively respected British music agent to global touring legend was meteoric.   Soon, he was a key player in the world of global stadium tours.

The Isle of Wight Festival however is something else, a personal crusade.

In common with many young music fans, 16 year-old Giddings had packed his tent, rolled up his sleeping bag and made his way to the legendary Isle of Wight Festival in 1970.  He saw some of the most influential acts of all time including The Doors, The Who, Joni Mitchell, Free and the amazing Jimi Hendrix.  The festival hit the headlines in 1969 when the reclusive Bob Dylan made a surprise appearance in front of an estimated half a million people.  Something big was going on above and beyond the music itself and a new way of presenting music to a contemporary audience was taking root.  Giddings took note of the exciting developments and the germ of an idea began to take shape.  Many years later he was able to realise his lifetime dream/ambition to make the Isle of Wight famous again for something other than yachting regattas.

The first Isle of Wight Festival line-up saw two of the greatest British acts of all time headlining - The Who and David Bowie.  It couldn't have been a better start, but not content to rest on his laurels, John created a stellar supporting line-up and put in an incredible amount of time and energy into ensuring that the experience was great for the fans.  Everything down to catering, staging, transportation was thought through with artists and fans in mind.  As any great promoter will tell you, the devil is in the detail; John lived and breathed the Isle of Wight Festival so much so that it became indelibly stamped with his personality.  

The sight of John rocking around the festival on his golf buggy is a familiar and reassuring sight to the fans who return year after year.  Along the way, they have been treated to some amazing performances from the world’s greatest artists, including The Rolling Stones, Foo Fighters, Jay Z and Neil Young.  The event has grown in both stature and calibre and is now as much part of the British calendar as Wimbledon and the Proms.

John, who is married to Caroline and has four daughters, is both enigmatic and self-effacing.  His wit and humour are legendary, but for all that he has largely avoided the spotlight, being prepared to let the music do the talking. Inevitably, as he has become more and more of a central figure to the whole of the Isle of Wight Festival, that anonymity is harder to preserve.

John, who is a Formula 1 fanatic, is an astute businessman and surfs his way between corporate business and rock and roll with sharp skill.   He has worked with the most powerful people in the world of live music, notably Live Nation. As much as his individual personality is stamped over everything he does, he is also aware that no man is an island…. even if it is the Isle of Wight!

About Folkert Koopmans:
In 1990, Folkert Koopmans established the concert agency FKP Scorpio Konzertproduktionen GmbH in Hamburg, Germany. With more than 100 employees FKP Scorpio is among the leading promoters in Europe. FKP Scorpio operates an office in Stockholm / Sweden (FKP Scorpio Sweden AB). It also has shares in HKES (Cuxhaven / Germany), Friendly Fire B.V. (Amsterdam/Netherlands), Northside ApS and Beatbox Concerts (Aarhus & Copenhagen / Denmark), Arcadia Live GmbH (Vienna / Austria) as well as Fullsteam Agency (Helsinki / Finnland) and operates offices in each country. 

Besides planning and executing national tours (such as Foo Fighters, James Blunt, Mumford & Sons, Placebo, Coldplay, Faith No More, Apocalyptica) and local concerts in northern Germany (eg Casper, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Take That, Robbie Williams, REM, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, Red Hot Chili Peppers), FKP Scorpio promotes very popular German open-air Festivals: Hurricane in Scheessel, Southside in Neuhausen ob Eck, Highfield near Leipzig, Chiemsee Summer in Übersee/Chiemsee, M’era Luna in Hildesheim, Elbjazz in Hamburg, Deichbrand in Cuxhaven, and as of 2015, A Summer’s Tale festival near Luneburg. FKP Scorpio also promotes two indoor festivals in November at the Baltic Sea: Rolling Stone Weekender and Metal Hammer Paradise.

Swedish festivals Getaway Rock, Bråvalla and the recently added showcase event Where’s The Music; the Danish NorthSide and Tinderbox festivals; the Finnish Provinssi festival; Greenfield in Switzerland; the re-establishedNuke festival in Austria and the Dutch festivals Indian Summer and Best Kept Secret complete the festival portfolio of FKP Scorpio within Europe.


Live Entertainment Awards – LEA
- In 2006,in the category Most Excellent Indoor/Arena Tour for Coldplay 2005.
- In 2007, for the Best Club Tour with the German band Revolverheld.
- In 2010,for the Rolling Stone Weekender.
- In 2011, for M’era Luna in the category Festival Of The Year.

4 European Festival Awards
- In 2010, for the Rolling Stone Weekender as Best Indoor Festival.
- In 2011, Folkert Koopmans was honoured as Promoter Of The Year.
- In 2011, Hurricane and Southside were given the award for Artist’s Favourite European Festivals.
- In 2013, Metal Hammer Paradise was awarded Best Indoor Festival.

Arthur Award
- In 2013, Folkert Koopmans was given the award for Promoter’s Promoter at the 25th International Live Music Conference (ILMC).

About Prof Peter Schwenkow:
Prof. Peter Schwenkow, born 23. March 1954 in Hamburg, founded local promoter concert concept Berlin in 1978, which became part of DEAG Deutsche Entertainment AG in 1995 when he was appointed CEO.

In 1998, DEAG became listed on the stock exchange. In November 2009, Peter was appointed a professorship at the Institute of Cultural and Media Management at the Hamburg University of Music and Theatre; and between 2006 and 2011 he was a member of the Berlin City Parliament.

About Russell Warby: 
In September of 1987 I moved from East London to Nottingham where I encountered a really vibrant local music scene that embraced all Indie music from the UK and US, and where the House scene was really starting to take hold.

I started working at  the bar in a new music venue called The Colourwheel - and at the encouragement of the venue manager Danny I began to  promote shows in 1988.

Having virtually no experience and an optimistic attitude with respect to the size of the relevant audience locally I rapidly lost a lot of money!

Faced with the prospect of a mounting overdraft, rapidly diminishing options and a newly pregnant girlfriend, I was fortunate enough to be introduced to some lovely Europeans who needed someone to help set up a few UK shows for them and more by luck perhaps than some great plan -  I became an agent!

My passion at that time leant towards the fit-to-burst US underground alternative rock scene, I was fortunate enough to rapidly find a niche in which I could work pretty comfortably  - along rolled Mudhoney, Nirvana, Soundgarden, Lemonheads and many other fine artists.

I began booking across Europe and then around the world. A number of years rolled by before I eventually drew a breath and explored a passion for electronic artists, working with Leftfield and early Warp artists, and  with Hip Hop with innovators Mos Def and De La Soul.

Incredibly influential US and European artists followed; Foo Fighters, Elliott Smith, Pavement, Sebadoh, Royal Trux, Stereolab, Broadcast, Guided by Voices.

Then in the early 2000s the US alternative scene exploded once again with The Strokes and The White Stripes and the music world picked up its guitars again, all across the US,  in Australia with The Vines and Jet, whilst in the UK The Libertines slipped out of troubadour mode and into leather jackets and The Kills donned their skinniest black jeans and fashioned similarly tight grooves.

Since then many including of those artists including Jack White and Foo Fighters have gone from strength to strength and proved that dynamic artists with original vision can still inspire.

These days as well as developing the rosters full potential,  I still spend my days (and nights) searching for emerging exciting artists that I can help foist upon an unsuspecting world - and they are out there -  Vampire Weekend, White Denim, Parquet Courts, Deap Vally, Perfume Genius, Miike Snow, Green name a few, that shake us all up and hopefully keep us excited about still being in the greatest business ever.