Local Expertise, Worldwide Clout: A Chat With The Team Of Live Nation Spain

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Pino Sagliocco, Chairman Live Nation Spain

For Pollstar‘s market focus on Spain, we reached out to the world’s biggest promoter, Live Nation, which has been operational in Spain since 2007, by acquiring Gamerco, the business of veteran promoter Gay Mercader. Live Nation associated with Mercury Wheels in 2015 and acquired Planet Events in 2019, adding local market knowledge as well as special expertise in the Latin market.

Both companies also added office presences in Madrid, in addition to Live Nation’s headquarters in Barcelona. Pollstar reached out to four professionals across Live Nation’s Spanish businesses – Pino Sagliocco, Chairman Live Nation Spain, Robert Grima, President & Head Promoter Live Nation Spain, Chen Castaño, Managing Director at Planet Events, and Barnaby Harrod, head promoter at Mercury Wheels – to find out, how business is done in Spain, and how the recovery of the country’s live sector is coming along.

Pollstar: What makes Spain a reference in the European live music biz? What can you say about the country’s overall live infrastructure?
Pino Sagliocco, Chairman Live Nation Spain: Spain has a well-developed live music industry and ranks in the top 10 of the world markets. The venues in the major cities, Madrid, Barcelona, and Bilbao, are among the best in Europe, and this is reflected through the whole industry. The fact that there is a strong market for local artists as well as for international tours means, that there is a major infrastructure that supplies the industry. There are plenty of local promoters, and local and regional governments invest a lot of money in helping to organize city events which further supports the industry.

However, the COVID pandemic has meant that a lot of these people have been forced to leave the industry as there was no government support for them as in other countries. I believe we will see the effects of this clearly now that the industry is back in force. We also need more venues at the arena level in some of the major cities such as Valencia and Sevilla.

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Robert Grima, President & Head Promoter Live Nation Spain

Are there vast differences from territory to territory? Do Madrid and Barcelona stick out? Which region is developing fast as we speak?
Robert Grima, President & Head Promoter Live Nation Spain: Madrid and Barcelona have undoubtedly been the most relevant cities of our country in terms of the live music offer. But since a few years, and especially after these last two, Madrid has positioned itself as the priority market in Spain [thanks to its] geographical location and very effective transport coverage connecting it to all Spanish regions.

In addition, there are other regions that are pushing for a growth of their live music offer, consolidating some festivals or venues. Andalusia, Valencia, the Basque Country, and Galicia would be, in my opinion, the ones that currently stand out the most. Andalusia, in particular, is driving the growth.

Chen Castaño, Managing Director at Planet Events: We must bear in mind that Madrid is the city with the second largest population in the European Union, with almost 3.4 million people living in it, so concerts are guaranteed visitors. However, there are plenty of other cities in Spain that work just as well for big tours, especially in the summer. Festivals too, as the weather, guaranteed hours of sun, and general quality of life make going to shows and festivals very attractive proposition.

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Chen Castaño, Managing Director at Planet Events

Can you talk about ticket sales? Are they picking back up, after two years of tough business conditions? And is there a difference between concerts/tours and festivals?
Robert Grima, President & Head Promoter Live Nation Spain: There has been a very enthusiastic reaction to the return of live music. which is not very surprising. We have seen over these two years, how a very high percentage of fans, who bought tickets for 2020 tours, kept their tickets for the newly announced dates. That’s evidence of loyalty from fans to their favorite artists, and that’s why they’re so excited to finally be able to enjoy these shows.

In general, we are in quite a good position. We perceive a very clear interest on big events, consolidated festivals, and big artists. Sales for those shows are amazing. But we still need [to wait and see] until [we’ve caught up with] all shows that couldn’t be held in 2020 and 2021.

What is the main benefit for Live Nation to work with a locally experienced promoters like Mercury Wheels and Planet Events, and what is the main benefit for the local companies to have a live entertainment giant like Live Nation on board?
Pino Sagliocco, Chairman Live Nation Spain: The main benefit of working with these companies is the specialist knowledge that they bring. In the case of Mercury Wheels this means that we see the development of indie acts from the U.K. and can therefore be involved at the very earliest stage with the stars of tomorrow. The successes of Ed Sheeran or Dua Lipa are perfect examples of this.

With Planet Events we have acquired expertise in the Latino market, and this helps us develop market share as well as get involved with the emerging stars in the Latino world as they are becoming increasingly important to the pop market in Spain.

The benefit for these companies, apart from the financial and marketing support, is the fact that after more than 40 years in the business, I still haven’t lost my enthusiasm for sharing my experience and my creative vision of the marketplace to help break new talent.

What have been some of the biggest tours/shows you’ve realized so far in Spain – with local as well as international acts? Please provide ticket sales/attendance numbers?
Pino Sagliocco, Chairman Live Nation Spain: There are some years, in which we sell close to a million tickets in this market, and we have a huge range of international and local tours. In my career I have worked with nearly everyone, from the Rolling Stones, Guns N’ Roses, Paul McCartney, Elton John, Bon Jovi to Luis Miguel, Operación Triunfo, Queen, and Roger Waters.

Barnaby Harrod, Head Promoter at Mercury Wheels: Some of our recent highlights include Ed Sheeran, Twenty One Pilots, The National, The Lumineers, Camila Cabello, and Sam Smith.

Chen Castaño, Managing Director at Planet Events: For more than 20 years we, at Planet Events, have carried out great tours with Latin artists such as Maná, reaching more than one million spectators [in Spain], Luis Miguel (120,000 spectators), Maluma (more than 100,000 spectators), and more recently Camilo’s tour, during the pandemic, with a reduced capacity in the venues, still reaching more than 35,000 spectators. We have also worked with many local artists.

Fito Fitipaldis
Fito & Fitipaldis performing at WiZink Center in Madrid.

What upcoming concerts/tours would you like to highlight?
Pino Sagliocco, Chairman Live Nation Spain: Rosalía, Elton John, Guns N’ Roses, Michael Bublé.

Robert Grima, President & Head Promoter Live Nation Spain: Fito y Fitipaldis, a local artist tour that was announced in November 2021. The tour will consist of 30 shows in 21 cities, including four in Madrid, and will sell more than 300,000 tickets. It will be one of the most relevant Spaish tours in 2022.

Red Hot Chili Peppers play two stadium shows in Seville and Barcelona, expecting an attendance of 90,000 fans for both shows. They have chosen a Spanish city, Seville, to kick off their first worldwide stadium tour!

[Last but not least], Imagine Dragons, with an expected attendance of around 40,000 at their show in Santiago de Compostela, as well as their upcoming performance at Mad Cool Festival. And Harry Styles in Madrid, one of the most expected tours this year.

Chen Castaño, Managing Director at Planet Events: We are currently organizing the brand new electronic-pop band Delaporte’s summer tour, with around 30 dates in Spain. I would also like to highlight the Marc Anthony tour, which has made us redouble our efforts since 2020, when it was first planned. Fortunately, it is a very successful tour with more than 120,000 tickets sold in our territory.

Barnaby Harrod
Barnaby Harrod, Head Promoter at Mercury Wheels

Barnaby Harrod, Head Promoter at Mercury Wheels: We are really excited by the two upcoming Dua Lipa shows in Madrid and Barcelona. We are also very excited about doing an “initimate” show for The National in a 1,450-cap theatre in Pamplona. The chance to see The National in this format will be memorable! Then there’s the return of Simply Red to Spain for the first time in many years! We are also excited by new breaking acts like JXDN and Role Model who are selling out their shows.

Is Brexit posing difficulties for touring artists between UK and Spain?
Robert Grima, President & Head Promoter Live Nation Spain: Not at this moment, but there is a review of agreements to be held next September and we will see how it finally affects us by then.

Anything you would like to add?
Pino Sagliocco, Chairman Live Nation Spain: The industry in Spain will continue to grow stronger than ever. However, the fact that we have had no work for two years in the COVID pandemic means that there is now an over-supply of bands and of festivals. I am worried that some of these, especially the smaller ones, will get hurt and may disappear completely.

Robert Grima, President & Head Promoter Live Nation Spain: Spain, and especially Madrid, still has a growth potential for international tours, music festivals and entertainment.

Barnaby Harrod, Head Promoter at Mercury Wheels: Bands often tell me that the Spain shows are always one of the highlights of their tour. Spain is home to world-class venues as well as a series of top-class festivals. And the food and weather also make the Spain experience one to remember!

Chen Castaño, Managing Director at Planet Events: Promoters and artists that had to stop during the pandemic now have so much to offer and naturally people need to choose and can’t attend everything. We really need to increase efforts on our marketing campaigns.

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