Meetings - Sunday
Host: Ed Bicknell (Damage Management)
Introducing the guest of honour by showing excerpts from the movie Who The F**k is Arthur Fogel?, Bicknell enjoyed a 90-minute exploration into Fogel’s life and career, beginning with a childhood with a parent who was a football player, wrestler and bodyguard, “And that was just my mother,” japed Fogel.
The audience heard of Fogel’s early days running The Edge nightclub in Toronto, his move into the promoting world and the decision of the three main promoters in Canada, driven by Michael Cohl, to merge, rather than bid against each other for every act.
Fogel detailed how they had launched an audacious $40million bid for a 40-show Rolling Stones tour. “We didn’t have the money and we’d never done a show outside Canada,” he admitted, “but we were 100% convinced that this was the ticket that could open the international business for us.”
All too aware of the criticism that Live Nation receives, Fogel countered, “Big is not bad. Paul McGuinness once told someone that the art is figuring out how to use a company to you and your artist’s benefit.” Later, he dismissed many of the gripes against Live Nation by stating, “If you want to get somewhere, you have to take chances and be aggressive. But it’s too easy to blame the system or the big bad wolf.”
However, when quizzed about the fees auctions that take place between Live Nation, AEG and others, Fogel said, “That’s the stupid part of our business.” He added, “I have a different methodology and different approach with clients I work with – I don’t get in bidding wars. I sit with acts to discuss a strategy to see where we are going.”
Asked by Bicknell about the move toward the creation of super management companies and the threat to the traditional agency business, Fogel said, “I don’t see the role of the agent changing very much.” And defending the top end ticket prices for shows by the likes of Madonna and the Rolling Stones, Fogel concluded, “I believe the top end is underpriced and everything else is overpriced.”
Chairs: Julia Frank (Wizard) & Marc Lambelet (Mainland Music)
Panellists: Dan Steinberg (Square Peg Concerts), Keith Naisbitt (APA), Josh Javor (X-ray Touring), Steve Zapp (ITB), Alvaro Covoes (Everything Is New)
The Booking Ring kicked off on a slight tangent to the advertised topics, focusing on the relationship between promoters and record labels.
“I’m counted on to make the act their money now, which is why there’s so much traffic,” said promoter Dan Steinberg. “Can anyone remember when you saw a ticket buy of more than 6 tickets from the labels? They’re not there anymore.”
The panel talked about the change in label involvement over time, with the panel agreeing that they still faced little involvement or investment from record labels in many instances. “The promoters are now promoting the acts as much as they’re promoting their own business,” said Marc Lambelet.
When a label is promoting an artist, sometimes due to being involved as a promoter themselves, X-ray’s Josh Javor flagged issues. “I prefer not to work with the promoter if they’re the label. If something goes wrong it’s very difficult to get rid of them.”
Alvaro Covoes spoke about the Portuguese market, and “90% of the advertising is from promoters because the labels don’t have money. We talk with radios, TV, newspapers – we do everything,” he said.
The session moved on to discuss promoter/agent relationships. Lambelet asked whether the promoters in the room thought that agents were communicating enough, while Naisbett dismissed first approaches via email. “Email is the easiest way to get a no. Call the agents, go and see them, have lunch.” said Naisbitt. “We have a major problem in American with the young agents coming through where they’re afraid to pick up the phone. They’re scared of talking to people.” Naisbitt said. “I won’t do a deal with people on email.”
“It’s a customer service industry,” said Steinberg.” You should learn how to pick up the phone to speak to old agents, and use email to speak with the younger agents. You have to be able to communicate across the board.”
“You have to be succinct in emails and clear,” commented Pollstar’s Gary Smith from the floor. “But until the younger and tertiary promoters break ground, it’s very difficult for them. You have to persevere for however long it takes until agents call you back.”
“It’s been like this for 40 years, and I find it unfair that it took me ten years for these people to know me,” said Lambelet. “There are young people worth listening to. The excuse of ‘we’re too busy’ isn’t good enough – you should hire more people. We can’t take that as an excuse.”
“But we spend a lot of our time chasing promoters on avails though,” Zapp countered, before the session turned its attention towards promoters not calling agents back. “What I expect from a promoter is to be into the act and to do your job. It’s nothing crazy,” Javor said.
Lambelet spoke about the desperate need for better communication between all parties. “We need to know what we expect from each other,” he said.
One of the final comments from the floor was Sytske Kamstra, producer of the IPM, who made it clear that all agents, promoters and managers were welcome to attend the annual day focused on production issues.
Chair: Gordon Masson (IQ Magazine)
Panellists: Olaf Furniss (Wide Days), David Stopps (Friars Management), Allan McGowan (ILMC), Steve Machin (dotTickets), Emma Banks (CAA), Wayne Forte (Entourage Talent)
A new addition to ILMC’s Sunday programme, the Unconference session set-up without a panel, leaving its chairman to press-gang delegates into participating in a forum without any set topics of conversation.
However, armed with a list of 20 questions, submitted anonymously by ILMC delegates, Masson used a tombola filled with numbered ping-pong balls to randomly choose each topic of conversation, helped along by a small, but enthusiastic, audience, which at times also included the orange boilersuit wearing mic runners.
Asked how social media is going to change the live music business in the year ahead, Stopps revealed to the room that he had been told by a representative of Facebook that artists and events would need to start paying for all of their posts to successfully communicate with fans.
Panellists broadly agreed that the greatest innovators in the business are the artists and the festivals, which continuously need to drive change to keep fans interested.
Asked if venture capitalist investment was a good thing for the business, Banks quickly dealt with any concerns by stating that anyone who wanted to add money to the pot is pretty much welcome. A question suggesting that the older generation are stifling innovation was met with similar derision, with the young mic runners confessing they did not feel stifled. However, a representative of RFID specialist Glownet stated that the spread of new technology is being stifled because people are scared of it.
A debate about promoters signing multi-tour contracts with artists was a hot topic, with some questioning the sanity of the huge deals that are even being offered to artists who have not played a single live show. But the fact that promoters want a level of security to mitigate such risks was broadly accepted.
Perhaps surprisingly, a discussion that questioned the honesty of promoters in their dealings with secondary ticketing platforms, did not cause too much fuss, with Banks noting that she knows promoters have deals with resellers, so there’s no actual need for them to be up front about such agreements.