AMONG KEY issues debated at the LIVE UK Summit were the ethics of facial recognition for ticketing, the importance of the grassroots sector and strategies to make resale safe.
The 13th annual conference and networking event took place at the convention facilities beneath London’s new Hard Rock Hotel at Marble Arch on 30 October and attracted around 300 attendees.
The day kicked-off with the The Dream Ticket panel, led by Seatfair’s Dave Newton.
First on the agenda was the subject of exclusive ticketing partnerships for shows, which panelist and DICE CEO Russ Tannen believes could be a solution to ticket touting.
However, See Tickets global CEO Rob Wilmshurst argued, “It only works when artistes or an agent have high demand – otherwise you’re forgoing the maximum reach[through wider allocation]”.
The pair also debated facial recognition and their companies’ differing attitudes towards it.
Tannen stated that DICE would not be developing facial recognition as he believes the platform’s customers valued privacy.
But Wilmshurst told the panel, “We’ll embrace it, prepare for it and wait for the client to tell us he needs it”.
On another subject, Tim Chambers from Tixserve warned of the risks for ticketing platforms from promoters wanting advances from sales and more access to funds, saying, “You’re naive if you don’t think this is all about money for promoters”.
Investing in talent
While Chambers’ closing remark on The Dream Ticket may be true of major promoters, panelists from the unsigned and emerging sector agreed that most emerge from humble beginnings.
Speaking on The Discovery Panel, Crosstown Concerts’ Simon Bailey said, “Sometimes you have to treat shows as an investment and you won’t make money from them”.
The session, which also featured Dominique Frazer from The Boileroom (cap. 300) in Guildford, Polly Miles from Brighton promotion Acid Box and Gurj Summan from Live Nation Entertainment-owned promoter Robomagic, was moderated by LIVE UK journalist Christopher Barrett and discussed the idea of “payback shows”.
Bailey recalled how Fontaines DC – winners of the Breakthrough Artiste award at the Live Music Business Awards that evening – sold a mere 17 tickets for the show he promoted in Oxford, but returned a year later and sold 1,000.
Frazer from The Boileroom pointed out how crucial the roles that grassroots venues and promoters play in the music ecosystem. “Without grassroots venues, where are the artistes going to come from? The industry doesn’t have a choice, but to get behind grassroots venues.”
While many of the conference’s panels focused on the professionals that make a show happen, The Full Experience brought to the forefront the people working behind the scenes at venues.
Moderated by Tony Moore, music programmer at The Bedford in London (cap. 250), the discussion began with the importance of teamwork in a venue.
Anna Parry, programmer for AEG’s The O2 (21,000) in London, delivered some sound advice on the value of being versatile in a venue: “In order to truly understand how a venue works, you have to do every job at some point.”
Parry explained how she takes every opportunity to learn from others involved with the venue, whether it’s shadowing the venue manager or take a ticketing agent for a coffee.
Though the size of the panelists’ venues varied hugely in capacity, this point was something with which all could agree.
Elisabeth Carley-Leonard, owner of The Shed (200) in Leicester said training her team to do a host of jobs allowed her to take a well-deserved break and know the venue was in good hands.
Also appearing on the panel was Todd ‘JD’ Malloy from The Key Club (300) in Leeds, and Ade Dovey, now event booking manager at ASM Global.
Out of this world
Bringing together two experienced international agents, the Guardians of the Galaxy panel saw the moderator, Friars Aylesbury promoter David Stopps, pick the brains of Solo Agency’s John Giddings and UTA’s Paul Ryan.
Giddings came armed with stories and musings about Brexit, K-Pop and Formula 1 founder Bernie Eccleston, before the discussion turned to more serious matters.
The pair discussed barriers to touring in China and South Korea, navigating visa issues, and the ethical conundrums that artistes face when visiting less progressive countries. Giddings explaining how a major artiste he represented had to pay an “exit fee” to leave the Philippines, because “they had guns and we didn’t”, brought much laughter from an enthralled audience
The Live Interview session saw CAA agent Emma Banks interviewed by David Stopps.
Having spent almost 30 years as a music agent for artistes such as Red Hot Chili Peppers, Florence + the Machine, Katy Perry and more recent additions Green Day and Muse, Banks wasn’t short on stories about the good, the bad and the challenging sides of the industry.
The Interview came hours before she was awarded with Outstanding Contribution at the Live Music Business Awards ceremony at the venue later that evening.
While organisations such as PRS Foundation’s Keychange and Love Music Hate Racism (LMHR) have helped to bring about change and more inclusiveness in the music industry, there’s still plenty of work to do according to the panelists on Everyday People.
Moderated by LIVE UK news journalist Lisa Henderson, the panel comprised of LMHR campaign manager Ira Sylvester, Keychange project manager Maxie Gedge, SheSaidSo’s Emma Lee and UTA’s Sean Hill.
Lee discussed her experiences as a dancer and singer for Basement Jaxx and called for more support for intersectionality – the intersect between social and political identities such as gender, race, class, sexuality and disability – which is a focus of her organisation.
Following the impact of Keychange’s initiative for 50/50 gender splits on festival bills, Gedge was keen to discuss the necessity of targets and why she sees a need for more diverse representation in the music industry.
A central tenet of the Making Resale Safe
panel, presented by FanFair Alliance’s Adam Webb, was how artistes can incorporate resale into their live show strategy and protect their audiences from exploitation.
“Artistes can make sure the promoters hold the primary ticketing companies to account,” said ticketing security expert Reg Walker from The Iridium Consultancy.
“Don’t put up with crap like ‘it’s the bots’ when your artiste’s show ends up on secondary ticketing sites five minutes after they go on sale,” he told delegates.
Kilimanjaro Live’s San Phillips agreed, saying there’s enough information on how to buy tickets and where to buy them. “Artistes should be sharing this message on their social media, about the difference between primary and secondary ticketing,” she said.
Among the other panels were The Social Network, moderated by David Stopps, which tackled the speed of change across social media, ticketing, marketing and fan interaction.
Playing The Fields discussed the advantages and disadvantages of cashless wristbands at festivals, embracing sustainability and how to grow the business.
In Tech Talk, Playpass MD Steve Jenner and Amplead’s David Hamilton demonstrated their respective company’s latest technological solutions for festivals and the wider live music business.
The World is Enough tackled the logistics of international touring, while Taking Care of Business explored the challenges promoters face in an ever-changing environment, and Down to Earth reckoned with the impact festivals and tours are having on the environment, and what can be done to promote sustainability.