‘Venues Dynamize The Offer’: Q’s With Manuel Saucedo, GM WiZink Center Madrid

Manuel Saucedo, the general manager in front of his building, WiZink Center.

Madrid is Spain’s buzzing center of all thins live entertainment, and WiZink Center has a role to play in that. The 17,400-capacity building came out on top on Pollstar‘s venue chart for Spain in 2022, and regularly takes on leading positions in our worldwide rankings as well. For this week’s feature on Spain, we caught up with Manuel Saucedo, the general manager of WiZink Center, to ask him why he thinks, why Madrid has been the market to recover fastest from the pandemic, what its role is in helping the live biz back on track, and more.

Pollstar: Mr. Saucedo, what makes Madrid a reference in the European live music biz?
Are there enough promoters, agents, suppliers, know-how, as well as small to medium-sized venues for newcomer acts?
Manuel Saucedo: Madrid is trendy right now. That is a fact. It is reflected in the number of visitors Spain´s capital received before the pandemic, but also now, during the recovery. A lot of new high-end hotels are under construction, and administrations are taking this boom into account to promote leisure, gastro, sports, culture, and musical tourism.

This situation is a huge opportunity for all of us. Theatres are growing. We are already speaking about the new “Broadway” in Madrid´s Gran Via, with permanent shows; a lot of small new concert lounges are being open with a capacity of around 1,500 to offer the right space for emerging artists and new promoters.

Madrid is full of life, and this is something that is reflected in the success of the shows booked and programmed. The promoters highlight this fact themselves: Madrid sells a lot of tickets, something that we can easily prove at Madrid´s WiZink Center, where sold outs are regular and usual.

View of a packed WiZink Center.

How much has the creation of WiZink Center contributed to the development of the live entertainment market in Madrid? Can you show that by numbers?
Venues dynamize the offer. This happens in Madrid, as well as in any other city. But it’s not just of the existence of a venue. It is important that the venue´s management is proactive. Venues should be more than just landlords. They should search for new artists, book dates, be allies with the promoters, work side by side with the authorities to have the power to act in the cultural activation strategies they set up,”

We wanted to measure the economic impact of our activity in Madrid, and the results were astonishing. An independent consultancy, KPMG, estimated that WiZink Center adds €220 million annually to Madrid´s GDP, and creates up to 2,000 positions of indirect employment through its activity. This contribution reverts directly on the hotels, transportation, restaurants, as those who come to Madrid for a concert, also enjoy the city.

Can you break down the array of services you offer to promoters when they choose WiZink Center?
At this moment, any artist or band can come to Madrid´s WiZink Center and perform their show bringing only their backline. They can find anything else they might need at our venue, the best quality equipment at the best prices in the market.

The latest tool we added to our services is a complete sound rider, illumination and screens. We already had a Rolling stage, fully equipped dressing rooms, electrical power, kitchens for the staff, ticketing company, merchandising Management, our own system of Access control, security department, services for the VIP áreas.

Our main goal is to make everything cheaper and easier for the promoters, minimize efforts, and make everything smooth and successful.

How do you stick out from the competition?
We are not in competition. We are lucky enough to manage an incredible venue, incredible for its conditions, and for its location in the center of the city; and we have a lot of respect for other venues in Madrid, as well as those in other Spanish cities.

We are always open for anyone to get to know our management model, our style of working, because we think venues management has to evolve towards the improvement of the provision of services for the promoters.

You didn’t raise your fees for renting WiZink Center since 2014 to help the local biz. How is that even possible, seeing that prices have been constantly rising, particularly in most recent past?
We are very proud that we didn´t raise our fees, knowing they are lower than those in any other European country. It’s another way to help promoters. We want them to make money when they come to WiZink Center.

What’s coming up on your schedule?
We have a high-level calendar coming up, and an even better service for both promoters and spectators. We are currently improving and refurbishing our VIP boxes, as well as the backstage [facilities]. We are also developing a project for an additional lounge for concerts, with 1,000 -people capacity, to welcome all kinds of events, and emerging talent. This will be a great novelty in Madrid.

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