‘France Is Not Just Paris’: Live Nation’s Angelo Gopee Says Business Is Back
Angelo Gopee has been managing Live Nation’s business in France for almost 15 years. In all that time, and even after three years of COVID, his philosophy hasn’t changed: “We are talent developers. And our most pressing challenge is to find and put on the headliners not only of tomorrow, but of the coming five years,” he said.
To Gopee, the status and size of an artist don’t matter. If they’re good, and if promoters give them the right stage at the right time, they will fill arenas and stadiums at some point.
He picked Joé Dwèt Filé as an example: a singer, songwriter and sound engineer of Haitian descent, who Live Nation helped build into an arena act by going through the circuit. “We’re going to do Accor Arena this year, sold out at 15,000. These are the kinds of careers we need to duplicate, develop and deliver,” Gopee said, adding that some fellow promoters appear to be “followers, who just pick artists depending on their Spotify stats,” which he didn’t consider promoting.
It was true, he added, that the new music economy has spawned artists that were able to go straight to arenas without first going through the circuit, but those were the exception, and their longevity was questionable. “Our business is to take care of artists. Without the artist there’s no festival, no venue, no concert,” he said, adding that the ingredients that made up this business have never changed: “music, talent, and people loving it.”
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Not even two years of lockdowns and restrictions, followed by a looming recession, seem to have been able to tamper with this formula. “The whole point during the pandemic was to be ready. We knew it was going to be tough, but we also knew that we were going to come back and resume business at some point,” Gopee explained, adding that business has returned in full swing. “We see people want to go to more and more shows. We’ve just sold out three Chris Brown arenas, which is huge. People want to go out, they want to party. They’re saying, ‘it’s been a few tough years, let’s enjoy life.’ And the number’s don’t lie.”
Live Nation France is looking at about 20 stadium shows this year alone. Two nights of Metallica at the Stade de France in Paris are just the tip of the iceberg. Red Hot Chili Peppers in Lyon’s Groupama Stadium, 50,000 tickets; Beyoncé at the Orange Velodrome in Marseille, 60,000 tickets; Bring Me The Horizon at the Zénith de Toulouse, 7,000 tickets.
Gopee said France was the country offering the best venue infrastructure outside its capital. Live Nation has contributed hugely to the country’s provinces becoming serious contenders for tours alongside the capital Paris.
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“We’ll do two nights of The Weeknd at Allianz Riviera stadium in Nice, in addition to Bordeaux, and Paris of course. With Depeche Mode we’re going to Lille, Lyon, Paris and Bordeaux, all stadiums. With Imagine Dragon, we’re going to Chambord, which is a castle in the middle of France; with Sting, we’re doing Orleans. France is not just Paris,” Gopee emphasised.
Live Nation is also going to operate the new 15,000-capacity Lyon-Decines Arena, scheduled to open at the end of the year, which is going to give promoters “another Accor Arena-style” multidisciplinary building outside Paris.
Aside from promoting 3,000 shows across the country each year, Gopee’s team is also credited with launching Lollapalooza Paris at the Longchamp racecourse in 2017. This year’s sold-out edition, July 21-23, will be headlined by Stray Kids, Rosalía, and Kendrick Lamar. The bill also features OneRepublic, Aya Nakamura, Central Cee, Niska and Damso, among many more.
“This is everything music is right now,” said Gopee, “Hip-hop, pop, K-pop, urban, R&B, French music. Lollapalooza is all of this.” Gopee made it clear that he wasn’t worried about business, which was back in full swing.
That didn’t mean there wasn’t room for improvement, especially in the area of diversity. Being one of the rare people of color in an executive position in France, it’s an issue close to his heart. He said France, in particular, had a lot to catch up on.
“I’m only in this position because Live Nation and Michael Rapino hired me and gave me their trust, an American company. A French company probably wouldn’t have,” he said. “People say, Live Nation succeeded in France, because they put a lot of money on the table. They will not say, a person of color, with a diversity background, had better vision for the business. When I started 14 years ago, we were three people. Now, we are 120, 60% women, and more than 25% of our staff from diverse backgrounds. That’s the reality. Come and visit us, see what we’ve built.”