Meetings - Friday
Workshop:YouTube: Music discovery and live streaming
The Open Forum: The directors' report
Festival Forum: The indestructibles
The Dance Club: All sold out?
Workshop: Facebook: Making more of social media
Sponsorship: Up, up and away
Market Focus: Latin America
The Joined-Up Industry: Artist development matters
Workshop: Festivalisation: Giving your event a soul
Hosts: David Thorpe and Matias Llort Lorenz (YouTube UK)
The first in ILMC’s new series of workshops obviously hit the right note with delegates, as it was standing room only as the hosts gave a slick presentation outlining YouTube as a valuable partner to the live music industry.
Wowing the audience with their stats, Lorenz revealed that YouTube attracts one billion visitors per month and is now localised in 58 languages. 300 hours of content is uploaded to YouTube every minute, while 500 years worth of content is watched every day – helping the platform make the claim as being the number one destination for music discovery among the under 35s (nine of the top ten videos on YouTube are music videos).
The company’s reps revealed it is possible to link to ticketing platforms, but stated YouTube is not looking to expand into ticketing. “It’s not our business,” said Thorpe, “but we can also help link videos to merchandise stores,” he added.
Highlighting the successful use of YouTube to stream live events, case studies were given on both Coachella and Tomorrowland, with six key reasons to entice festival organisers in particular to add the site to their marketing tools: reach; technology and platforms; new revenue streams through the YouTube partnership programme; analytics; community; and the fact that it is a non-exclusive platform.
Chair: Phil Bowdery (Live Nation)
Panellists: Russell Warby (William Morris Endeavor), John Meglen (AEG Live), Folkert Koopmans (FKP Scorpio), Prof Peter Schwenkow (DEAG), John Giddings (Solo Agency)
Chaired by Phil Bowdery of Live Nation, the panel opened with impressive numbers on the state of the live business. Pollstar reported that the US live business was worth $6.2bn last year, with growth being attributed to the rise of multi-day festivals. The German market grew by €500m to a value of €3.82bn; the Australian market was worth AU$1.5bn ;and the UK was worth £789m.
“If you look at those figures you might assume everything is rosy,” said Bowdery before leading into a discussion about the challenges that the biggest festivals had to overcome to get to this stage of maturity. “The festivals have matured and continue to mature,” noted John Meglen of AEG Live. “It didn’t just come overnight.” He added that it took Coachella 15 years of solid work to get to the stage it is at now. “There is no question they are the big dogs now,” he said, noting how this has impacted on festival culture in the US in general, helping establish outdoor events as a key leisure pursuit. “They are the premier in pop culture in the US at the moment.”
Professor Peter Schwenkow of DEAG said 2014 was a very good one for live music in Germany, noting two shows by the Rolling Stones sold out in seconds. “We thought about the ticket price for a long time,” he said. “Obviously we were too cheap!” He did, however, caution, “An increase in revenues doesn’t automatically mean an increase in profits. You have to have the low-margin big names.” One solution here, he said, could be in his company’s launching of MyTicket.de, its own ticketing platform. “Maybe we can pay higher fees to the artists as we can make more money on the booking fee.”
John Giddings of Solo Agency said it was not necessarily good news everywhere.“I think the UK economy has come back but there are weak spots everywhere on world tours,” he said, suggesting cities like Istanbul or Athens might not sell out and adding that the exchange rate for bringing in US acts last year was painful for many.
Russell Warby of William Morris Endeavor Entertainment also sounded a note of caution. “My concern is the festival market is hitting critical mass and sucking all the light into it,” he said. “The exclusivity period is getting bigger. I wonder what it means for the touring market.”
He added, “If you are trying to develop an act you have to play the festivals as they are the only places where you can make enough money to keep the act on the road.”
Giddings raised the issue of where the next generation of headliners was going to come from, with some concern about the same handful of names dominating for decades. “The problem is we are not creating new headliners,” he said. “But then Ed Sheeran sold out three Wembleys. And you think, ‘Fuck me, a bloke with an acoustic guitar did that!’”
He noted there was a significant genre shift at play here, noting that the new generation of headliners are not coming from rock. Instead they are coming from pop and EDM. “I paid a lot of money for someone called Calvin Harris but I still don’t know if it was him!” he joked about the anonymous nature of some dance music. “Just a bloke doing this [waves his arms around]!”
Meglen noted how social media was changing things for the audience and events like TomorrowLand are really benefitting.“What is great about these festivals is that we have created social spaces where these people can actually gather together, he said. “It is a physical social gathering for people who live most of the time online. It’s a hell of a business right now.”
Finally, analytics were praised as an important now weapon in live music’s armoury. “Why we got into ticketing is because of the data,” said Bowdery. “Data is the new gold.”
Schwenkow concluded,“You want to sell the audience more than a ticket – it’s also about merchandise. Data is the key to the cupboard.”
Chair: Stephan Thanscheidt (FKP Scorpio)
Panellists: Eric Van Eerdenburg (Mojo Concerts), Codruta Vulcu (ARTmania Events), Geoff Ellis (DF Concerts), Dany Hassenstein (Paleo Festival)
Starting off with the question of competition, Van Eerdenburg admitted that rivalry for his events is getting fiercer, both from within Holland and across Europe. “There are new festivals coming into the market which makes things exciting and challenging, but the biggest challenge for all of us is to keep our events affordable.”
Ellis flagged up the lack of big-name headliners as a concern, but hinted that a return to the good old days at T in the Park might solve that issue. “There’s a scarcity of major artists because there are not as many coming through. But when we first started T in the Park, we had four main acts on the main stage and maybe we’ll have to go back to that if we can’t find any big headliners.”
That concept was acknowledged by Hassenstein. “We’re putting a bill together with several ‘middle’ acts rather than one major headliner.”
Ellis noted that with many American acts choosing to remain in The States during festival season, domestic acts are becoming more prevalent in Europe by necessity. “We can give those acts a platform at our festivals, but we cannot force people to go to see them perform.” He added that four out of five of his headliners for T in the Park 2015 are British acts.
Thanscheidt revealed that a new generation of German acts have emerged that can sell-out arenas, which has helped the likes of FKP Scorpio in their festival planning.
However, the same is not true throughout Europe, with Romania-based Vulcu commenting, “Local acts have only started selling tickets in the last two to three years because most of the events in Romania have been free. At our festival we have a €25 ticket so we cannot afford to book the big international headliners, so our strategy is to get smaller headline acts.” As well as convincing the local authorities to co-finance festivals by persuading them that the fans would boost the local economy, Vulcu revealed that they had partnered with local businesses and factories who agreed to buy festival tickets for their employees.
Suggesting other ways to help festivals, Ellis stated that being creative with the bill and putting on heritage acts at youth oriented festivals can work well, while Van Eerdenburg said that paying attention to the likes of healthy food and beverages could strengthen an event. Vulcu added that one of her company’s events agreed a partnership with the city’s museums and art galleries.
Hassenstein said planning prices with concessionaires was an important exercise, while providing as much space as possible for the audience to move is sometimes overlooked. The Paleo Festival organiser also warned others about concentrating too much on sponsors. “The more money a sponsor gives, the more access they will want to your audience.”
However, highlighting a clever cooperation with one local sponsor, Vulcu said one of her event’s local factory sponsors reprogrammed some robots to pour beers.
Ellis also warned events to try to avoid genre-specific bills, because there are only a certain amount of acts in any specific genre.
Despite the many pressures, however, the panellists agreed that 2014 had been a decent year for their events and that they were expecting similar good times for the European festival market.
And questioning the validity of certain festival brands, such as Lollapalooza expanding into Europe, Van Eerdenburg noted the trend was for small boutique festivals. “Globalisation is against that trend, so I don’t believe in it,” he added.
Chair: Tom Schroeder, Coda Agency
Panellists: Stefan Lehmkuhl (Melt!), Rich McGinnis (Warehouse Project), Maria May (CAA)
EDM music has been spreading like wildfire during the past few years, with enormous global success. Chair Tom Schroeder started the panel off asking whether EDM is a new thing or just an evolution of the dance scene. Maria May of CAA, who counts in her roster some of the hottest DJs on the scene, including superstar David Guetta, observed that the Americanisation of dance music had spawned the term ‘EDM’ and created a multinational, multibillion dollar business around the world, with DJs, like headline acts, demanding higher and higher fees.
The panel heard that people who grew up in the club scene have been continuously developing new talent. It has been a fast progression in the dance scene during the past 10 years, with artists at the top level getting mainstream radio play and selling al lot of records, making them ideal acts to headline large scale events. A combination of factors, such as the Internet and social media have also contributed to elevate dance music to the consciousness of the general public, rather than being the underground club scene it once was.
In the UK, in particular, this phenomenon is quite common, affirmed Rich McGinnis. Festivals that used to be mainly rock events, have been seeing the dance component grow during the past decade, allowing some acts who crossed over genres, like Skrillex, to enjoy a lot of success with diverse audiences.
Stefan Lehmkuhl from Melt! had his say about the German EDM market, stating it’s currently at its peak with three new EDM festivals selling thousands of tickets per day, while promoters are even booking EDM acts at Lollapalooza Berlin.
So what will happen next? The panel seemed to agree that a more tropical sounds-orientated genre is taking place, maybe the dawn of a new post EDM subgenre, but in Maria May’s opinion artists are still going to define their own scene and are still going to be the ones to push the scene forward. And with an eye to the future, she pinpointed the DJs who are going to be the next headliners, citing Robin Schulz, Martin Garrix and Alesso, as emerging stars.
Schroeder concluded the panel with a question relating to the core of the session, asking: “Is the EDM market at its peak, or will it fall off as quickly as it exploded?” The general response was that the long-term future for dance festivals is debatable because the involvement of corporate branding is risking a supernova effect. The market is now saturated and that’s ultimately going to reflect on ticket sales. Brands like Ultra and Tomorrowland might sell out quickly all over the world, but they’re still within the first five years of their expansion plans, and questions remain over sustainability in the long term.
See more photos of this session here.
Hosts: Niall Fagan (Facebook) and Paul Brindley (MusicAlly)
Fagan attempted to demystify many of the issues around using Facebook in marketing and offer tips on how the live industry could be using it more to its advantage. He outlined the sheer scale of the social network, the subtext being that, with so many people on there, you simply cannot afford to not have it front and centre in everything you do.
A key tool is Custom Audiences which can aggregate all the information and contact details you have for customers and then silo out the ones who are on Facebook, helping match targets that you want to send marketing messages to. On a similar theme, Lookalike Targeting can find more people who are similar to your known audience and allow you to target them.
As for what works best on Facebook, video is king. “YouTube genuinely is the best video platform on the planet but if you want to reach people quickly with video, Facebook is the way to do it.”
With Live Nation as a client, Fagan gave examples of effective marketing and advertising on Facebook, including an eight-second video ad where Kylie Minogue revealed her upcoming tour. It was mainly her talking about her excitement to be touring rather than a hard sales message and at the end there was a click-through link to buy tickets. “Reach is the key thing to everything you are doing,” he said. “People get too hung over on comments, likes and sharing – they are the wrong metrics.”
The biggest challenge for everyone, Fagan suggested, will be using social media to target young consumers, “It’s not that young people aren’t using Facebook,” he said, “but they are on multiple platforms. Their time is spread across so many networks.”
Facebook, he revealed, sends a survey every day to 50,000 users to ask them what is working on the platform and what needs to change. The company only make changes if users request them. What, then, are the things companies will need to be aware of and adapt to in the coming years? “Trending and searching is going to become a very big part of what Facebook does,” concluded Fagan.
Chair: Ruth Mortimer (Marketing Week)
Panellists: John Rash (Bacardi), Rupert Vereker (Dr Martens), Paul Samuels (AEG), Niklas Jonsson (Luger)
Live music was, in the past, a powerful draw for sponsorship money and sponsorship partners, but the business as a whole will have to rise to the challenges to not just attract this revenue but also to hold onto it amid rising competition from other entertainment sectors. This was a key theme in the sponsorship panel at ILMC and the panellists worked through the best practice that the live sector needs to be focusing on now.
“It’s a question of value and the gap in perceived value,” said John Rash of Bacardi. It cannot just be a transaction, exchanging cash for exposure. “It’s understanding the value and being able to deliver that value.”
Rupert Vereker of Dr Martens noted that brands are now so sophisticated in how they use analytics, venues and festivals have to think carefully about what they can add here.
Paul Samuels of AEG said this was becoming more pronounced as live is competing for sponsorship money – not just in the music space but also against sectors like football. “We are all fighting for it,” he said. “If we want that pot of money, we have to give true value to sponsors.”
Niklas Jonsson of Luger spelled out the financial importance of sponsorship in cold terms. “5-10% of turnover comes from sponsorship,” he noted, arguing for the need to build a brand that is strong enough to make people want to come back.
Vereker said one company in live was mopping up much of the available sponsorship money here and everyone else was going to have to act a lot smarter if they were to claw some of this back. “We all have to live with the land grab by Live Nation,” he said. “They are the Google of our business. We have to figure out how we fit into the process.”
Samuels noted that one way to do this was to see this as a symbiotic relationship and not just a bag of money. “It’s not about selling a brand what you have,” he argued. “It’s about pitching to them what they need.” This may take three or four years of networking before alighting upon the right thing for a brand and getting the deal away. “You have to be flexible if you want money in the sponsorship world.”
He cited O2 is a strong example of sponsorship in live music done right. “It’s probably the most successful sponsorship in music.” He added that O2 do around four big TV ads a year but don’t pay the artists a penny. It gets them on side as it will have a huge ad and marketing spend and the acts will see the benefit of that. “O2 can now pick who it works with.”
Vereker was sceptical of the templated marketing that sees an act exchange a recording of a session for sponsorship money. “You did some sessions?” he said. “My heart sinks. Is that all you can do?”
Rash added there is an organisational and cultural clash that has to be navigated here. “Brands have spent their lives controlling everything,” he said. “Now they come into your world where that control can’t exist due to rights holder issues. There is a lack of control and that is a big issue.”
Samuels said the music industry doesn’t have to make itself vanilla to get ahead here – but it does have to raise the professionalism bar more. “Still be rock & roll but be professional about it,” he said. “Too many people show up with ideas on scraps of paper.”
Chair: Bianca Freitas (Enjoy Experiences)
Panellists: Christian Kramer (CK Concerts), Claudio Romano (Rock in Rio), Carlos Geniso (DG Medios), Daniel Grinbank (DG Medios)
Highlighting the vast gulf in understanding about the Latin American market, Grinbank spoke about the recent devaluation of the Euro of about 10% and the panic that it caused. “But in Latin America we are used to dealing with devaluations of 40%, regularly,” he stated. “In the last two years, three of the biggest four promoters in Latin America have gone bust, so it’s a very different place.”
But Grinbank said that while the region used to be the last place acts would visit on tour, nowadays no artist would consider announcing a world tour without including Latin America on the routing.
Noting that the major touring markets remain Brazil, Argentina and Chile, Freitas reported that there are also a number of new markets emerging, which is exciting for the Latin American business. Confirming this, Geniso named Peru, Uruguay, Paraguay and Colombia as secondary markets that are becoming more regular on the tour circuit.
Again dispelling myths about the continent, Grinbank said that each country is very different in terms of culture and he has noticed that “new” talent visiting certain markets were sometimes 20 years into their career before venturing into Latin America. “Poverty in Latin America is also much worse than in Europe. So you might have a population of 50 million people, but only five million of those could ever think of being able to afford a concert ticket,” he said, adding that such restrictions also limits the budget for sponsors. “When Rock in Rio happens every two years, all the sponsors have to be there, so tours in other markets around the continent suffer.”
Kramer agreed about the limited spending power of fans. “It makes it difficult to build an act, “ he said. “When an artist revisits a market, it’s difficult to get people to come to see them again if there is another act touring that they have not seen. And the problem in Latin America is that all acts want to tour here at the same time.”
Underlining one major problem suffered by the live music business, Freitas said that the biggest market in the continent is São Paolo, which remains a city without an arena. “There are no indoor sports in Latin America and that’s why there are no arenas,” Grinbank concurred.
Adding to those challenges, said Kramer, is the fact that clubs do not have in-house lighting or sound systems, meaning that everything has to be hired in, which added to travel costs, hotels and crippling artist fees makes promoting smaller shows nigh on impossible.
“Argentina has inflation of 40%, which means it’s not easy to transfer money out. The central bank cannot handle a $1million guarantee, for instance, so you have to make 20 payments of $50k each,” Grinbank explained.
However, highlighting some of the benefits of devoting time to building a Latin American fan base, Grinbank cited his work with developing The Ramones from club- and theatre-level upward. “They eventually played a 50,000 capacity stadium with us – they got nowhere near that anywhere else in the world.”
Revealing just what a vacuum Rock In Rio is for sponsorship, Romano disclosed that the 2013 event had attracted $52million in sponsorship backing. “Sponsorship accounts for about 70% of revenues and tickets for just 30%,” he told the panel. “But brands love it because of the level of activation that Rock In Rio can offer them.”
Geniso commented that festival camping does not happen in Latin America, with Kramer observing that security issues are a major issue. However, Tomorrowland will introduce a camping element for the first time this year, meaning other promoters throughout the continent will be interestedly awaiting the results of that experience. “It could be amazing for all of us if it is a success,” said Geniso.
Delegate Phil Rodriguez, of Move Concerts, told the audience that festivals in the USA and Europe have been built over many decades, so the experience of Latin America therefore has to be put into perspective.
But one matter remains key to success in Latin America: the line-up is king. “There’s a new festival called Estereo Picnic in Bogota, which had a great line-up in its first year,” reports Kramer. “But this year there was a shit storm about the line-up and their sales are probably 50% down.”
Chairs: Greg Lowe (The Agency Group) & Juha Kyyrö (FKP Scorpio Nordic)
Panellists: Paul Craig (Nostromo Management), Rob Hallett (RoboMagic), Ian Hogarth (Songkick), Anna Sjölund (Live Nation Sweden)
A key theme during this panel was about how the live industry has to recalibrate itself, as record companies, dealing with falling recorded music income, are tightening their belts with regards to tour support.
There is something of a tension here as labels really began pushing 360-degree rights deals a few years ago and now this is something the live business is embracing. Paul Craig of Nostromo, who manages acts such as Biffy Clyro, was at Warner Music when the organisation change was being pushed through. “Around 2009, it was viewed negatively,” he said, “but now the economics have changed it’s become part of the world we live in.”
Rob Hallett said this was key to triggering his setting up of his new company, RoboMagic. “I saw a lot of young acts that were struggling to get on the road,” he said. “RoboMagic is a 360-degree [company] predicated on live. Everything you do for them is to make them successful live acts.”
Ian Hogarth of Songkick said data was going to be key in helping all links in the chain work more effectively. He said 10m fans a month are looking for tickets in the UK and his company can work with promoters and acts to plug into the Songkick mobile app and let them sell tickets. “We can pass a lot more data back to artists,” he said of when tickets are sold directly via his company’s platform, noting that it sold 40% of the tickets for a Caribou show in Brixton recently and was able to share the consumer data with the act that will help inform what they do in the future.
Craig argued that acts working with a smaller team could be more effective than plugging into a giant corporation where they might get lost. “Some bands can be fooled that being part of a big management company will bring them these great rewards,” he said. “A small team that loves you to death – I would recommend that most.”
Hallett praised the influx of young employees into live music companies but warned the structure and focus will need to change otherwise the rug will be pulled out from under everyone. “It’s really exciting to go round the agents and see so many young employees,” he said. “That is a good thing. But promoters are like Blockbusters – we were in the rental business. And look what happened to them. Unless we acquire more rights, to own some IP, we will go the same way.”
He added, “It’s about being more of a boutique operation. It’s not about grabbing rights – it’s about investing in them.”
Anna Sjölund of Live Nation Sweden gave an example of where acts can make more money out of live, than just the show itself. A Swedish act played to 70,000 in their hometown but the show was filmed and screened at the country’s biggest cinema chain, where 30,000 tickets were sold across two days. The day after, they streamed it on a major local newspaper’s website, getting 650,000 views. “For a local act to do that and reach a whole new audience is an amazing thing,” she said.
She added that the audio was out on Spotify and they also sold limited-edition vinyl box sets. “That’s what we have to do as promoters,” she explained.” It doesn’t end when the show ends at 11pm. How can we extend the experience beyond the show itself? It’s in addition to the concert – it’s not instead of the concert.”
VIP is another area slowly being explored, even at venues with a small capacity. “If someone told me three years ago they were coming with VIP packages for a 300-capacity venue I would have said they were mad,” said Sjölund. “But we are doing it now.”
Craig was hesitant to see this as a panacea. “It depends on the act,” he said. “I have done VIPs with some acts but we’d never do it with Biffy as it’s completely wrong for them.”
Hosts: Fruzsina Szep (Horstmann Group) and Chris Tofu (Continental Drifts)
Setting the scene for a workshop that was all about creating those extra special touches that give an event character and atmosphere, Szep and Tofu used candle light to illuminate their presentations. “Slowly, over the years, the stuff that touches people has become more important,” observed Tofu. “There are lots of festivals that chase headline bands, but there are lots more events that manage to sell out without revealing their line up.”
Szep said she referred to the ‘festivalisation’ elements as the non-musical elements. “It’s not about the money making part, or where to place sponsors, but we are all humans and these ideas are about what makeS us feel special when we’re at a festival. Many festivals think a booking budget is only for bands, but I’ve been lucky enough to also have a ‘look and feel’ budget and a ‘soul’ budget.”
Citing various examples of festivalisation concepts they have introduced to keep the public coming back to events, Tofu noted that technology such as video mapping had changed the way promoters can present venues, while Szep suggested that simple signage and street performers in the immediate vicinity leading up to the festival site could help improve the vibe before customers even enter the site. “We dressed our security guys in Hawaiian shirts to make them a bit more friendly,” said Szep, while Tofu revealed that he employs 160 street artists to roam and perform around Glastonbury’s Shangri-la area.
The hosts said trying to shock and surprise the audience is key and elements like opera and art galleries have worked well, as has adding variety to the food and beverage offers – which can also boost revenues.
Asked what proportion of budget events are assigning to festivalisation, Szep revealed that Sziget Festival apportioned approximately 30% of the total budget, while Berlin Festival is closer to 40%, but Tofu added that some events target more than 70% of the total budget to festivalisation.