Australia: Viagogo, Queensland Festivals, Venue Ownership, Amy Shark & More

New Zealand Regulator Drops Interim Injunction On Viagogo

New Zealand’s Commerce Commission dropped a bid for an interim injunction on Viagogo a day before a March 5 hearing, acknowledging voluntary changes by the Swiss-based ticket reseller.

The Commission’s general counsel Mary-Anne Borrowdale said Viagogo’s NZ website now addressed concerns it was “misrepresenting the price and availability of tickets, and the ‘guarantees’ attached to tickets.”

It also accepted that it came under local jurisdiction. “Until now Viagogo has said it is not answerable to the courts here, which has led to considerable expense and delay for the Commission,” she noted. 

“We think a company that sells New Zealand event tickets to New Zealand consumers should fall under New Zealand law, and we are pleased that Viagogo now accepts that too.”

However the Commission still wants a full hearing on behalf of 1198 consumers who made complaints to it before the website changes.

– Groundwater director Mark Duckworth

Queensland Festivals Take Home Awards

Two Queensland music festivals took the spotlight in two awards ceremonies.

Groundwater Country Music won the highest ranking of gold in the festivals & events category at the 2019 Australian Tourism Awards March 6 in Canberra.

The free Groundwater, which turns ten this July, draws 78,000 over three days. Along with its older sibling Blues On Broadbeach, which draws 202,000 over four days, it injects A$48 million ($31.9 million) a year with 68% of their audiences from outside the region.

Festival director Mark Duckworth called the win “symbolic of the Gold Coast thinking outside the box. I don’t think eight years ago anyone would have linked Broadbeach with country music and now it’s a well-known annual pilgrimage for fans all over Australia.”

Groundwater 2020’s lineup incudes Kasey Chambers, Shannon Noll, Gina Jeffreys and Sunny Cowgirls.

Big Pineapple was voted by the public festival of the year for third consecutive year at the 2020 Queensland Music Awards March 3 at Fortitude Music Hall in Brisbane. Founder Mark Pico stated, “We feel incredibly privileged to have amassed such an enthusiastic and fiercely loyal following over the past eight years.”

It stages May 30 at Pineapple Fields, Woombye, with hip hop trio Hilltop Hoods, LA-based DJ Alison Wonderland, singer songwriters G Flip, Thelma Plum and Odette, and bands The Amity Affliction, Dune Rats, Example and Kingswood.

The Queensland awards also lauded Brisbane’s 800-capacity The Triffid as best metro venue, and Sunshine Coast’s Solbar as regional venue. Main artist wins were by Plum, The Jungle Giants, Amy Shark and Conrad Sewell.

Red Light Signs Amy Shark

U.S. management firm Red Light signed Gold Coast singer songwriter Amy Shark globally. She is repped by president Will Botwin, who said “Amy is an extraordinary songwriter and singer and we are looking forward to helping develop Amy’s career further on a global scale.”

Shark was a major crossover success in her native Australia in 2016 with the chart-topping award winning track “Adore”. She signed with Wonderlick/Sony with whom she had a #1 album debut, and made inroads in North America. She features on The Chainsmokers’ “The Reaper.”

– Amy Shark

Music Venues Change Hands

Major live music venues in three cities have changed hands. 

The Esplanade Hotel in Melbourne’s bayside St. Kilda will be owned by Wall Street private equity giant KKR-backed Australian Venue Company from April. It paid a reported A$100 million (US$66.44 million) for eight Sand Hill Road properties. KKR took 80% share in Australian Venue Company mid-2017 for A$190 million ($126.2 million), and has 150 properties across the country.

Brisbane’s Elephant Hotel, one of BIGSOUND’s showcasing venues, changed hands for $20 million ($13.28 million). Tilley & Wills Hotels also own Sydney music venues Oxford Art Factory, Verandah Bar, The Buena and The Clovelly. 

The Carinda Hotel in Sydney, where David Bowie shot his “Let’s Dance” video in 1983, is on the market. It draws fans from around the world, with a dedicated Bowie wall and an annual Let’s Dance festival.

Musician Brett Dean Hospitalized With Coronavirus

Australian violist, conductor and composer Brett Dean, 58, was hospitalized n Adelaide with the coronavirus. Three people who had been in contact have self-quarantined. Dean was to have performed with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra March 7 as part of Adelaide Festival.

New Zealand’s health authorities revealed March 4 that a man who recently returned from Italy with the virus attended Tool’s Feb. 28 show at Auckland’s Spark Arena. He is now isolated at home. Dr. Ashley Bloomfield, ministry of health director-general of health, said the risk of his infecting other Tool fans was “minimal”.

– The Esplanade Hotel, Melbourne