Live Nation’s dominance, the growth of the live business and increasing consolidation of the sector were among the topics of discussion at the Live UK Summit.
Held yesterday (October 12) at the Radisson Blu Portman Hotel in London, the annual event attracted delegates from all corners of the live circuit.
The afternoon’s Masters Of The Universe panel featured UTA’s Neil Warnock, Andrew Zweck of Sensible Events and Matt Bates of Primary Talent, and was moderated by Paul Crockford of Crockford Management.
“In every market in Europe there's another promoter who's equally as good as the Live Nation promoter, but who's losing out because Live Nation has done a great job of hoovering up the talent,” said Zweck, who has represented the likes of Roger Waters and Depeche Mode.
He continued: “I was talking to a major promoter in Europe who lost four acts in a year. He'd done every show they'd ever done in that territory and suddenly because Live Nation opened competitive offers; he didn't even get a phone call. He found [the tour] on sale with Live Nation. So he said, 'I'm losing business and the only way I can compete is to join another big consolidated global team’. It's an obvious step for a lot of people.”
Bates, agent for acts such as Wolf Alice, The 1975 and The Libertines, said the business had changed immeasurably during his 12-year career.
“Certainly, when I first joined, the record labels dictated everything,” he said. “Now, it's the live plot and the live activity which controls so much more of the campaign for an artist.”
Warnock, whose roster includes Dolly Parton and Nickelback, said: “What we're seeing now is that if artists want to earn real money, they go on the road to earn that money. The difference between when I first started and where we are now is that the world is the bigger place to play in.
“Back in those days, you could tour the UK, central Europe and some of America but now we are booking our artists right the way through South America, Mexico and into Cuba and then right the other way through Eastern Europe, through Russia.”
Our school of thought has always been that we're in the business of building talent and you want them to maintain and grow an audience over the years, over the whole world
Warnock said streaming numbers did not dictate where to tour an act. “It's a consideration, but I don't think it's why you should go,” he said. “I think what you have to do is to use that in the same way as we used to use record sales, because there are plenty of artists that we can remember that are what I call ‘dinner music’ that people want to put on and listen to, but wouldn't necessarily go out to see them.”
He added: “We've got managers now who don't come for a live background so when they're offered this multi-million dollar deal they have nothing to reference it against. They're not looking necessarily that the act will have longevity, they're thinking, ‘We're in the moment, we'll take it in the moment and then we'll worry about the next moment’.
“Our school of thought has always been that we're in the business of building talent and you want them to maintain and grow an audience over the years, over the whole world. But I think there's two different cultures here.”
The Live Music Business Awards followed the Live UK Summit at the same venue in the evening.