Global Marketplace: Games without frontiers
Chair: Michael Hosking, Midas Promotions (SG)
Panellists: Tommy Jinho Yoon, International Creative Agency (KR) | John Lickrish, Flash Entertainment (AE) | Isabelle Messer, Georg-Leitner Productions (KE) | Cindy Wilson, Live Talentos (BR)
Hosking kicked off the panel by showing a video of him walking through a deserted Changi Airport in Singapore – one of the world’s major hubs – before serving his panellists a bottle of Corona beer as a toast to better times.
Wilson reported that the effect of the virus in Brazil was yet another deflation in the country’s currency, while Yoon observed the media’s over-exaggeration of the situation, while admitting that his two summer festivals in Korea might have to be cancelled, along with the postponement of about 90 other shows.
Messer, who is based in Kenya, explained the rise in power of certain African artists and genres. “African acts used to approach US and UK acts to try to secure collaborations, but now it’s the international acts who are asking the African acts,” she said. “To be honest, there’s a little bit of extortion going on as the international acts are desperate to get into the African scene.”
Stating that he doesn’t particularly like K-Pop boy bands, Yoon admitted he thought the genre would be a flash in the pan, but instead it has become “a system rather than music.” He noted, “The people [in the bands] are trained like they are in the military – they are like robots. But the audience wants perfection rather than music, so it has clicked with a new generation.”
Yoon also claimed that “Asia is the new Europe in terms of the music scene: a lot of money is invested in international artists and acts that are maybe capable of playing a 1,500-cap room in the UK can play a 10,000-cap arena in Korea, so there are big opportunities.”
Messer said that local promoters in Africa ideally need an act for two or three days so that they can do TV, radio and media to help sell tickets. “Fees can be three times higher than they are in Europe, while tickets cost about half the price,” she stated, explaining that governments mostly pay the difference.
Wilson talked about Brazil’s rodeo scene, which pays fees commensurate with US festival fees. Brazilian country music, Sertanejo, is massively popular, she reported, while the rodeos have developed with high level production values and there are literally hundreds of annual events in the south east of the country.
Indeed, having shown a video of the Villa Mix series of events, Wilson told delegates of the Baretos Rodeo in August that attracts one million people, has a stadium venue for 35,000 and a second stage for 15,000 and has featured the likes of Garth Brooks as a headliner in recent years. “The second stage currently is 100% Brazilian acts, but we’re going to start bringing in international talent because there are definitely opportunities for mid-level acts,” she said.
Yoon detailed his complicated 2019 when a major political change prompted an unexpected date change for his Pentaport Festival, leaving him with 50 booked international acts but no shows. “I sent some acts to other festivals but used the situation to give birth to Your Summer Festival with the remaining acts,” he told delegates. “I managed to organise it in three months and I broke even, but all of a sudden I have lots of interest from sponsors because it is the biggest festival in Korea, with 100% western acts.”
Detailing some of the obstacles to working in Africa, Messer underlined the importance of working with local promoters, but flagged up that some might not have specific bank accounts and many countries have restrictions about taking money across their borders. “We had a show in Ghana and because we could not use a bank transfer, there was a flight involved with a suitcase full of cash,” she said.
Speaking of the market in general, Messer added, “Getting a cluster of shows is difficult, while most venues are built for one event, so there are not many tours – mostly just standalone shows.” However, she said while pop remains big, hip-hop, techno and UK grime acts are becoming massive and there are opportunities for the industry to capitalise on that popularity.