Australia News: WOMAD NZ, FRNDS MGMT, Sydney Opera House & More


Live Nation To Take Over WOMAD NZ?
Live Nation may be the new producer of WOMAD New Zealand. On Nov. 30 the Taranaki Arts Festival Trust (TAFT) pulled out after 20 years, and after extending the partnership in 2018 with the festival’s UK-based parent company for a further ten years.
TAFT chief executive Suzanne Porter cited bankruptcy concerns if a sudden COVID outbreak caused a close-down. She said, “Any cancellation from the beginning of March through to the week of presenting WOMAD would have seen a risk of between NZ$2.8 –  NZ$3.5 million ($1.97 million – $2.46 million). The risk is with Taft not with our UK partners to cover this loss.”
Porter told NZ media Live Nation had been offered a five-year deal by WOMAD UK. LN has not commented.
It is understood TAFT considered a range of options before the “gut wrenching” decision, including having the NZ government underwrite it, which was unsuccessful, or postponing a year which the UK parent apparently refused.
The festival costs NZ$4.3 million ($3 million) to stage. Additionally, under current regulations all international tourists have to pay NZ$3100 ($2184.70) each to quarantine for two weeks. WOMAD would pick up this cost; if 2021 had 22 overseas acts as it had in 2020, that’s an additional $1.1 million ($775,216) in costs.
Taranaki is a region in the west of North Island. WOMAD NZ is held in the main city of New Plymouth, in the TSB Bowl of Brooklands and nearby parklands. In 2020, its 16th year, it drew 51,000 over three days (40% from outside the region), and pumped NZ$6.5 million ($4.58 million) into the area.
The festival is scheduled for March 12 to 14, and months behind its usual schedule. Normally, tickets would have been on sale by July and the lineup announcement by October.
UK-based WOMAD International director Chris Smith said the organisation was working to find a new production partner since learning of Taft’s decision “several months ago.”
He added, “Those discussions are ongoing but very positive, and we hope to be able to announce the continuation of WOMAD New Zealand into 2021 in the coming days.”
WOMAD NZ and Australia often share acts. The 29 year old Aussie version in Adelaide, WOMADelaide, set a new record of 97,000 in March 2020 and injects A$15 million ($11.13 million) into the South Australian economy. For 2021 it abandoned its all-day format with seven stages at Botanic Park for a series of sunset concerts at the smaller King Rodney Park March 5 to 8 with Australian acts only.

– FRNDS MGMT roster
FRNDS MGMT Set Up In LA, Signs U.S. Acts
Sydney-based FRNDS MGMT set up an office in Los Angeles and one planned for London as their Aussie acts find more global exposure. The move saw them sign overseas acts. 
It reps DJs/producers Alison Wonderland, Paces and ShockOne, rock band DMA’S, electronic trio Crooked Colours and singer-songwriter GRAACE.
In the new LA office, former Snapchat and A&E staffer Jacqui Bransky will manage the U.S. roster, which recently expanded U.S.-based singer-producer Chet Porter and 19-year-old Portland producer Quiet Bison.
Company heads Garth Crane, Leon Rogovoy and Ben Robinson said: 
“It’s exciting for us to be expanding internationally, signing new acts and hiring new people during what has been a tough year without touring. We feel we are ready to really push things to the next level for our artists as the world starts to come back to normal.”
In the Sydney office, FRNDS brought in Mark Leach from Analogue Dawn agency and Adam Udovich from WME and Falcona. It also signed singer Don West, producer Tek Genesis and electro act Jack Slade.

– Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House In Legal Stoush Over Sails

Sydney Opera House fiercely guards its globally recognized sails, which are part of its logo and play a major role in its branding and merchandising. Sporting teams are charged A$50,000 ($37,122) for use of the logo on their jerseys.
Now, at a time when Australia’s trade and diplomatic relationship with China has fallen to freezing point, the Sydney Opera House Trust has gone to court to stop the Australia China Economics, Trade & Culture Association (ACETCA) from trademarking a similar looking logo.
The association reputedly has strong links with China’s communist regime, and the trust argued in court papers the logo would “likely to deceive or cause confusion” and wrongly suggest a commercial connection between the two. It went to court after the Registrar of Trade Marks rejected a move early November to stop the approval.
NZ To Legalize Pill Testing At Festivals
Pill testing at New Zealand music festivals will be legalized this summer. Health minister Andrew Little will move the changes before parliament rises for holidays Dec. 9. It will only make the tests legal, not the possession of banned drugs.
It will be for this summer only but Little intends to make it permanent in 2021 after more community discussions. “This is not about condoning young New Zealanders’ use of drugs. We would prefer they didn’t,” he said. “But the evidence is that when allowed to operate, drug checking services can significantly reduce drug harm.”
The move is certain to ignite debate in neighboring Australia where the push for tests has only been taken up by Australian Capital Territory. A study by Australian National University found 63.4% of Australians support pill testing at music festivals.
Charges Against Titus Day Changed
Prosecutors in the case against celebrity Sydney agent and manager Titus Day told Downing Centre Local Court Dec. 4 that 61 charges of fraud are replaced by those alleging embezzlement. 
The matter is next heard at District Court Feb. 18. The matter involves A$1.15 million ($853,815) from top charting R&B singer songwriter Guy Sebastian in royalties and performance fees.

– Ticketek

Ticketek To Roll Out Website Upgrade In SE Asia

TEG’s ticketing agency Ticketek, which sells 30 million tickets a year, spent the year’s shutdown accelerating key technology projects to improve customer experience, increase conversion rates and drive more ticket revenue, while updating the design of its site, app and logo. 
“These include enhancements to our customer platforms, developing an even deeper understanding of our 16 million customers through our data and analytics division, and supercharging our marketing capabilities with a new cutting edge marketing technology platform,” said TEG’s global managing director of ticketing Cameron Hoy.
In New Zealand, where the new site was previewed in November, site conversion rates increased 50%. The changes are set for roll over to operations in the UK, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines.