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Venue Summit: Alternative content

Venue Summit: Alternative content

Chair: Tom Lynch, ASM Global (UK)

Panellists: Jenny Blomqvist, Stockholm Live (SE) | Emma Bownes, The O2 (UK) | Lucy Fenner, Alexandra Palace (UK) | Daniela Stork, D.Live (DE)

Producers are carving out new niches of entertainment and aiming to cater for all demographics, meaning busier calendars and active venues all year long. But what demands are these exciting, often high-tech extravaganzas putting on production and venue infrastructure? 

Because not every promoter is familiar with organising events in arenas, many of the panellists shared how they support promoters to launch new events.

Emma Bownes from London’s The O2 said there’s been a focus over the last few years on trying to cultivate relationships with good promoters, to help them do an arena show, citing examples such as step-by-step guides. When it works well the events are really successful and the promoters are returning, she explained.

Daniela Stork from Dusseldorf’s D-Live said promoters can build a market in one city through a broad range of venues. Her multi-venue organisation has helped promoters develop good ideas.

Alexandra Palace in London is no longer exclusively a receiving house, said Lucy Fenner. The venue also produces its own shows, sharing risk with promoters. It also hosts its own festival and firework display events. The benefits are higher rewards and data for marketing.

One example of new content is Arena Run, an indoor running competition drawing 8,000 people. Jenny Blomqvist from Stockholm Live said the event takes place in January when it’s very cold outside. Participants run over obstacles around the whole venue. It started as one day and has grown to three days next year.

Bownes talked about Rugby X, a new version of the sport, which incorporates lights and music to make it more of an arena spectacle. It drew 16,000 people in its first year. 

Music promoters should do more sports advised Blomqvist, because they know the venues and the issues. 

Fenner talked about drone racing, which saw huge numbers of people watching online and generated large amounts of news coverage.

Bownes said Michelle Obama was a great show with a very good atmosphere. She said there was potential for this sector to grow. But it will take a certain kind of person to do it.

Chair Tom Lynch said brand content is a good source, pointing to Brewdog’s annual general mayhem event at the Manchester Arena as an example. “We are not waiting for the phone to ring, not just building relationships with promoters. Brands are valuable, too,” he said.

All panellists agreed Latin music and Afrobeat are growing genres, while domestic talent is big in Germany. 

Bownes said the Young Voices choir did 60 shows at The O2, which is more than Take That, Adele and Ed Sheeran combined. It can be some young people’s first experience in venue and of music education, which is valuable for building future audiences, she added, explaining that 33% of parents who came to Young Voices bought a ticket to a show afterwards.