LIVE UK, a sister publication to AUDIENCE, is the only publication dedicated to the country’s contemporary live music business, providing news, features, tour plans and information to the people that drive the industry – promoters, festival organisers, venue operators, artiste managers, booking agents, ticketing companies, media and key professionals in dozens of related sectors.

 

Summit Report 2014

Generation X

A lively Masters of the Universe panel was dominated by Solo Agency’s John Giddings and former AEG Live president of international touring Rob Hallett, ably supported by The Agency Group MD Geoff Meall and senior CAA agent Paul Franklin.

The X Factor is like the best and worst thing that’s ever happened to the music business, because it creates stars … but it’s like the worst karaoke in the world,” said Giddings.

Hallett, who is about to announce a new venture, countered, “It’s the best thing that ever happened to the entertainment business. It’s the worst thing that ever happened to the music business. But we shouldn’t be sitting here as snobs saying that’s not musically worthy. We’re here as purveyors of entertainment. Give people what they want.”

Muse and Paramore agent Meall, who was also the subject of The Summit Interview detailing his 22-year career, offered advice on taking acts to emerging markets.

“Obviously as you go into any developing market the ticket price that you charge in the rich cosmopolitan cities of London and Paris won’t necessarily work in Belgrade,” he said. “You learn different cultures and different ways of doing things – listen to your partners there.”

Franklin, agent for artistes including Jessie J, James Morrison, McFly and The Saturdays, stressed the importance of long-term planning. “It’s also learning to say no to things – saying no to £50,000 today, because you know that it’s going to be a quarter of a million in six months time. That’s always a difficult one,” he said.  

“You have to be prepared to tell your artistes they should take less money to do something which will enhance their career,” adde Isle of Wight Festival founder Giddings made national headlines for his inflammatory comments during The Festival Forum. "We're not building headliners any more," he claimed. “And if boring acts like Ed Sheeran are the future, then we're all screwed.”d Giddings, who represents acts such as Madonna and U2. “Your job as an agent is to predict the future. It’s not just about getting the money, it’s about doing the right things at the right time, and that’s the difference between an agent and a booker.”

Opening panel The Dynamic Ticket brought together speakers including Paul Newman of AXS, Ticketmaster’s Andrew Parsons (now MD), Rob Edwards of Eventim UK and Margaret Tinsley of Skiddle.

Delegate Dave Newton of WeGotTickets brought up the issue of ticket companies paying festival organisers before an event, referencing the Alt-Fest and Jabberwocky fiascos of this summer.

“If every event got cancelled this afternoon we have to show that we could refund every ticket that we’ve already sold,” he said. “If we do advances then it’s out of our withheld profits … not out of any of the ticket money. I’m amazed that any other company can operate as we’ve seen recently with Dash Tickets and Clubtickets for Jabberwocky and Alt-Fest respectively.

“We’ve got to a situation where customers have no confidence in ticket companies.”

Skiddle’s Tinsley said, “As a rule, we actually do hold the money until event maturity but … depending on the promoter. Sometimes, unless you advance ticket monies, you’re not going to get a piece of the action.”

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