Fox Prefers Summit To Times

HMV chief exec Simon Fox may have preferred his reception as a keynote speaker at the Live UK Summit to the one he got a couple of days later in The Sunday Times business section.

At London’s Radisson Blu Portman Hotel Oct. 6, where the monthly trade magazine was holding its fourth annual conference, Fox gave a presentation detailing his company’s expansion into the live music business.

The UK Sunday paper pointed out HMV shareholders aren’t so pleased with where he’s taking the British retailer, demonstrated by the stock price falling 58 percent in the 14 months since they persuaded Fox to stay at the helm. He had the chance to run the ITV television network.

At 49.75 pence a share, HMV’s equity is worth less than six weeks’ takings, which The Sunday Times sees as a sure sign the country’s major music retailer is teetering on the brink.

Fox may have trouble winning back the City but High Voltage Festival, which HMV acquired when it bought Mama Group for £46 million (then $71 million), picked up one of the gongs at the awards ceremony that Live UK’s bolted on to this year’s conference.

The 30,000-capacity event in London’s Victoria Park July 24-25 had ZZ Top, Foreigner, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Saxon and Gary Moore but lost £1 million ($1.5 million). The festival still came out best with voters in the “15,000-capacity to 39,999-capacity” category.

Live UK managing editor Steve Parker, who’s also executive producer of the magazine’s two-day gathering, said his disappointment over the number of conference delegates being “a little down” on last year was tempered by some promoters saying concert ticket sales are down by as much as 15 percent to 20 percent.

Last year’s conference attracted 270 payers and this year’s is estimated at about 225.

Parker says the Live Music Business Awards – 25 gongs the magazine is handing out to recognise various people and companies that have excelled in their field – sold its 200 or so tickets nearly a week in advance.

“The most pleasing thing was the excitement created by the club and regional promoter awards,” he told Pollstar, after small venues such as Brighton Concorde and promoters including Graham Ramsay from Middlesbrough-based Ten Feet Tall were recognised for their work at the grassroots level.

The polling process involved various panels of industry experts selecting a shortlist for each category, with the winners being chosen by an open online vote.

The major category winners included Live Nation (best promoter) and Glastonbury (best festival), while the team behind Muse was also recognised.

The band’s agent and manager – Geoff Meall from The Agency Group and Anthony Addis from Brontone Management – respectively took the best agent and best manager awards.