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.
The UK's Best Venues for Contemporary Live Music as an annual round-up of the most prominent and proactive venues, from pubs to stadiums and open-air sites, that play a part in keeping the UK a world leader in contemporary music. This 84-page publication features interviews with venue operators, profiles key personalities – from pub landlords to stadium bosses, and includes a survey of trends in areas such as ticketing and marketing.
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Audience is the world's leading monthly magazine for the international contemporary live music industry, providing news, features and information to professionals in more than 80 countries worldwide. Circulation includes thousands of promoters, festival organisers, venue operators and key people in dozens of related sectors.
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The Summit 2007

THE ENORMITY and breadth of the UK’s live music sector was brought home to delegates time and again at LIVE UK – The Summit, held at London’s InterContinental Hotel on 22-24 October.

Panel moderator and music industry lawyer Sarah Waddington set the scene when she told the conference, “The UK’s creative industries outperform every other European state’s equivalent sector and are second only to those of the US; the UK is the third largest music market the world, has five million active musicians and there are 4,500 live shows held every night of the week.”

From the conference’s opening sessions – devoted to the unsigned and emerging artiste sector – through to the closing Tomorrow’s World came reports of the growing input from brands and the media, the booming festival scene, innovative new projects and the impact of digital technology.

The event starting with the Emerging Interest panel, debated the huge influx of brand investment in the unsigned and emerging artiste sector. In a pre-discussion electronic poll of delegates, asking whether brand activity at this level was a good thing, 75 per cent of the audience said it was, 13 per cent thought it wasn’t.

Responding to the question ‘why get involved with unsigned artistes’, Rosie Newey, head of music sponsorship at Virgin Media replied, “to reach fans who are passionate about their music, and if you can do something that makes a difference to them, then perhaps they’ll chose Virgin when they next come around to chose a network.“

O2’s Nuala Donnelly said, “We aim for the association with music to pull people towards our brand. It’s important not to see grassroots involvement as a selling opportunity – we even remove our logo from some O2 Undiscovered events because we don’t want to turn people off.”


In the panel about how new acts fight their way past thousands of others vying for success, Barfly Group’s Jon Mcildowie told delegates, “talent and then a great manager are the most important things for a band, then it’s timing. 

Bedford Bandstand’s Tony Moore observed, “although there’s a mass of great music out there, that tipping point where people start to buy tickets for an artiste is a really hard thing to find.” 

Tim Dellow of Transgressive Records pointed out that, despite the so-called boom in the live sector, his label still had to, “inject tens of thousands of pounds of tour support into its acts”, to which fellow panelist Daryl Robinson of Academy Music Group (AMG) said he felt that, “tour support allows some bands and their managers to waste money, and then they’ll get dropped.”

Digital Age

Panel moderator Tim Grimsditch of research company Frukt held up his mobile phone and said, “Technology lets you do almost anything these days – this phone’s got a five mega-pixel camera, GPS, 30-frames-a-second video, can buy mobile tickets and a hell of a lot more in the live music sector. The opportunities are there.”

An audience vote on the question, “Are you making the best use of technology to communicate with music fans”, 79 per cent answered ‘no’ and only 21 per cent picked ‘yes’

Asked ‘Is digital going to help you make more money?’, 69 per cent replied ‘yes’, while 31 per cent answered ‘no’. In a final session poll ‘Is digital crucial to reaching young consumers?’ 90 per cent responded ‘yes’.
Panelist Gill Mills of podcast specialist company iCast’s advised managers of new acts not to just approach traditional media who are swamped. “Create a buzz around yourselves and, with pod- and video-casting, you can make your own radio and TV shows,” she said.

Meanwhile Tejas Mistry of Indiestore/7Digital told the audience, “SMS enables you to interact with your fans right at that moment when they are enjoying their favourite band live.’ You can say ‘buy this download now or SMS us for updates’, before they go off and see the next band.”

Slice the Pie CEO David Courtier-Dutton saw digital “as an extension of the live experience. “You don’t have to get a £100,000 record deal to make progress; you can do it in a small way. There is now the concept of being a ‘bit’ successful,” he said.

Asked ‘has the internet had put control in the hands of the artistes and away from the record companies?’  79 per cent pressed the ‘yes’ button, while 21 disagreed.

Live Experience

Sympathising with The Luminaire (cap. 270) venue owner Andy Inglis, who complained that there was no outside investment at his level, AMG’s Daryl Robinson accepted that there were “economies of scale” that helped AMG’s investment, such as installing Bluetooth throughout the venue chain.

DF Concert’s Geoff Ellis commented on how much better venues were today, pointing out, “”You can do a lot on a little budget, because it’s largely about service – from the door staff to the bar staff”.

Asked ‘if anyone had seen a great act in an awful venue?’ 91 per cent pressed the ‘yes’ button, while 72 per cent said the quality of a venue affected their decision whether to go to a show.

Bristol Colston Hall director Graeme Howell thought that major venues could do much more to help the smaller ones in their communities. “Rather than being just the biggest concert venue in the city, we’re trying to establish a relationship with the wider scene in Bristol. That’s where our future audience is coming from.” 

A Festival Too Far?

Making his first public appearance since being unceremoniously sacked, former Live Nation UK MD Stuart Galbraith said he couldn’t speak about what he was planning, joking that “there are probably Live Nation lawyers in the audience”, adding later, “needless to say, I’ll be doing festivals again in the future”..

Virtual Festivals’ MD Steve Jenner reported that, “the internet has revolutionised festivals over the eight-and-a-half years since I’ve been running Virtual Festivals. Selling tickets at lightning speed and disseminating information is a huge contributing factor to the success of festivals.

“What we’ve seen so far is just the beginning,” said Jenner, with he and Galbraith agreeing that festivals streaming their content online for fans around the world was going to be a major factor in the future.

Meanwhile Guilfest organiser Tony Scott said that his focus had gone completely local in the past two years. “It’s pointless us advertising nationally anymore, so we concentrate all our effort within a 50-miles radius of Guildford.”

The Golden Ticket

With Ticketmaster (TM) UK MD Chris Edmonds saying “over 70 per cent of our business is now sold online”, debate quickly turned to booking fees, with ticket agency panelists defending their respective charges.

While Edmonds defended TM’s 12 per cent booking rate, We Got Tickets boss Dave Newton explained why his operation could survive on 50p a ticket.

On the subject of secondary ticketing, See Tickets’ MD Nick Blackburn was quick to state, “The reason why I don’t like the secondary ticketing model is because it only suits people that can afford it, but you have to be fair to everybody. If people have to pay £100 instead of £30 for a ticket, that’s two shows they don’t go to.”

DF’s Geoff Ellis warned, “If the government does not legislate [ against secondary ticketing], we will create our own legitimate secondary market. It’s not a good thing, but at the end of the day, artistes, managers and promoters aren’t going to allow leeches to outwit the industry.”

Tixdaq chairman Tim Prior and secondary ticketing website operator Viagogo’s Christopher Miller put the case for the live industry coming to terms with the secondary market and Miller said more companies, such as Live Nation [Netherlands], were reaching agreements with his company and sharing in secondary revenue.

Speaking from the audience, Stuart Galbraith observed, “Viagogo is operating on a 25 per cent profit margin, while Live Nation’s last publicly audited accounts show they work on a four per cent margin. Even Ticketmaster has a 21 per cent margin. Promoters are the ones making the smallest margin for taking the biggest risk.”

Questions put to the audience received the following electronic voting answer: ‘Has secondary ticketing had a positive or negative influence?’ - 65 per cent said ‘no’ and 10 per cent said ‘yes’.  ‘Is it acceptable for fans to buy and resell tickets at a profit?’ -  69 per cent believed not and 31 per cent believed it was. ‘Should we embrace secondary ticketing or fight to curtail it?’-  only 42 wished to fight while 58 per cent considered it worth embracing.

Driving Economy

A 10-minute visual presentation by Richard Cope of research organisation Mintel captivated the audience with statistics such as live entertainment ticket sales have grown by a third to 750 million since 2000.

“Our research showed that atmosphere is cited as the key reason for going to concerts and that social network sites and downloading promoted rather than damaged concert-going,” said Cope.

Geoff Ellis reported that his T In The Park festival did an economic impact study in 2005, which showed that 96 per cent of the 80,000 attendees come from outside the event’s locality, 40 per cent even came from outside Scotland and that each spent an average of £102 in the community – more than tourists to the area.

Meanwhile, Nottingham chief executive Geoff Huckstep told of research which showed in 2005 that the venue brought in £28.75 million of benefit for the locality and £2.75m regionally, from the venue’s 800,000 visitors a year.

Former Live Music Forum chairman Feargal Sharkey reported that the Creative Industries are the fastest growing sector of the UK economy and is now almost on a par with financial services.”

Branding Integrity

Moving on to the Branding Integrity panel, sponsorship brokerage company Bonham Group’s CEO Paul Samuels asked, “We hear about ‘do brands understand bands?’, but we should be asking ‘do bands understand brands?’.

“There’s an assumption among bands and the live music industry that brands just want to give you a lot of money, but what bands don’t understand is what brands want out of live music.”

But Live Nation’s Jim Campling asserted, “The revenue source is important, but we look at what the brand can bring to our event. Sponsorship covers about 10 per cent of our risk; we don’t want to do something for the 10 per cent of our finance that alienates the customer, which is 90 per cent.”

The New Order

“This is the new order, people are doing things differently,” said Big Life Music’s Jazz Summers, who is also president of the Music Managers Forum. “The big record companies cannot break new acts and even the people working at record companies are frustrated with that.

“What do record companies know about strategic planning of an artiste’s career outside this country? Nothing,” claimed Summers.

Meanwhile, fellow panelist CEC Management’s Pete Felstead observed. “With the technology available for distributing music, artistes are becoming more powerful and so labels want to get closer to the artistes to share in more areas of their revenue.”

Speaking for the labels, EMI Records’ executive Mark Collen said, “What’s going to happen is companies will become ‘music companies’, rather than just a management company or a record company. The future is about being involved in the bigger picture.”

But Summers retorted, “Record companies have to look at how to change their model, but I don’t think it’s ‘get involved in everything’.”

Tomorrow’s World

Panel moderator and Wembley Arena general manager Peter Tudor started the session by saying, “Somebody said to me yesterday that being in the live music industry was like being a chicken trying to lay an egg on a moving escalator – everything’s changing all the time.”

“But then earlier we heard a panelist refer to approaching mid-life clarity, where soon all would become more clear – perhaps that’s what we have to look forward to,” hoped Tudor.

Not surprisingly the issue of how to combat secondary ticketing arose again, with Iain McCready, CEO of ticketing technology specialist Mobiqa, revealing that photo tickets were now possible on mobile phones. “Your photo is attached to the barcode sent to your phone, but more important, when your phone ticket is scanned at the venue, your photo comes up on the screen. That relies on MMS messaging, so isn’t a complete solution today, but will be shortly.” 

On the rude health of the live music sector, agent and X-ray Touring partner Ian Huffam reported, “One of the main reasons for this is pure demographics. You’ve got teenagers, 20, 30, 40 and 50-year-olds going to shows, not just in the UK but all around the world. So the market as a whole is extremely large.”

He warned of the “vultures” who try to cash on any vibrant industry and that it was essential to protect artistes and fans from such things as ever-rising ticket prices and general exploitation.

“You have to look after the public and make sure everyone doesn’t get too greedy,” he said. “All of us have to nurture the business, to make sure it’s as vibrant in two to three years time as it is now.”

As The Summit drew to a close, media company Music Glue partner Mark Meharry explained the benefits of the 360-degree model, where one company controlled formed a partnership with an artiste covering all revenue streams – recording, publishing, live and merchandising.

“In that situation, an artiste might decide to give their music away free to boost concert audiences, or give t-shirts away to increase awareness, without having a conflict of interest between multiple companies,” he said.

Huffam, whose agency clients include Robbie Williams – widely credited with signing the first all-in deal with EMI – said that while the Robbie/EMI deal seemed to be working well, he wasn’t so sure about the 360-degree model being currently espoused. “A act would have to ask itself, is this company I’m signing everything to an expert in all those fields,” he wondered. “What happens if there are certain problems or contradictions in one sector and you’ve committed your entire career to one rights owner?”

Summing up the way forward, as he sees it, Meharry said, “One of the fundamental things going forward to Tomorrow’s World is adding value.  There is a lot of money out there and if your business model is based on restricting fans contacting and working with artistes, you will have trouble. But if your business is based on contributing massive added value, then you’ll have a great future.”

A final electronic audience poll showed that 40 per cent of those present thought their business would experience a 50 per cent change by 2

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