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Talking Shop At ILMC 22

LONDON (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — The 22nd ILMC (International Live Music Conference) conference took place from March 12-14 in London's Royal Gardens Hotel and the debate at this year's event focused on the changing environment of the live entertainment industry.

Expectations were high that the completed merger between Live Nation and Ticketmaster would be the prime subject under discussion, but most conference-goers seemed to react with a shrug when the issue was raised. This proved especially troublesome for Carl Leighton-Pope at his annual 'Talking Shop' event. Leighton-Pope's first topic was to address the merger and he struggled to find someone in the audience who had been affected (or who would admit to it at least.)

Finally, Leighton-Pope buttonholed an AEG rep from the O2 Arena, asking her directly about AEG's plans. "AEG – they’re not going to open their books to Live Nation, they’ll cut off Ticketmaster and so they should" Leighton said. The rep responded diplomatically, saying "AEG will look at what they’re going to do with ticketing and the world’s their oyster."

Other issues that came up during the 'Talking Shop' discussion addressed the changing landscape of label support for live music, how far an act could progress without investment from major labels and alternate sources of funding.

"In the past 10-15 years we’ve successfully pulled the big dog down from the hill," Leighton-Pope said. "We’ll end up with three majors by the end of the year. But now we’ve done it, you wonder whether it’s really what we wanted."

"Are we creating enough business from the ground floor to get us to the top? I’m not sure we are anymore." he added.

Other issues at bar were the fragmentation of the European festival market with Charmenko’s Nick Hobbs reported that sponsorship money in Eastern Europe has largely dried up, and Kilimanjaro Live’s Stuart Galbraith relayed that he’d had to set a very low opening ticket price to launch Sonisphere in the Balkans this summer.

The discussion also addressed how the recession was affecting different segments of the industry with Leighton-Pope wondering if the music industry was "recession proof." According to Leighton-Pope, large promoters such as Live Nation, had "booked smart" and avoided the worse effects of the economic turmoil.

Other comments on this subject, such as those that came from a US agent from Heavy Rotation were less confident.

"We’re seeing a lot of smart buying in the small and mid level capacity venues, and I’m seeing that affect my artist price," the agent said, "I’m seeing lower guarantees with bigger back ends. And sponsorship deals have dried up.

"It’s come down to convincing artists to either take the next few years out, or commit to going out for lower deals with bigger back ends, and then working harder on the merch deals. It’s not affecting the bigger artists but we have an expression called BOHECA – Bend Over Here it Comes Again – the smaller venues and acts have to bend over and take it in the ass!" – CelebrityAccess Staff Writers