South America Focus: Q’s With Daniel Hiller, CEO Of BeLive Entertainment Group

Daniel Hiller, CEO of BeLive Entertainment Group

When it comes to venues, the stadium is king in South America with the popularity of soccer in the continent, but the arena is on the rise in the region as investors and cities work together to develop more sites to accommodate the ever-increasing demand for live entertainment. One building that can serve as a north star is Santiago, Chile’s Movistar Arena, which is the top-grossing South American venue with more than $94.6 million in grosses and 1.58 million tickets sold in the past year. Daniel Hiller, CEO of BeLive Entertainment group, which owns the venue, credits the arena’s infrastructure and technical features for its success and ability to draw artists from all genres. He took the time to chat with Pollstar about Movistar Arena, the Chilean market and the future of live entertainment in the country.

Pollstar: Tell me about business this year and how it compares to 2022. And what is 2024 looking like for the venue?

Daniel Hiller: Last year, we experienced a considerable surge in concerts at the venue; it was a very successful year in terms of the quantity of shows, covering different genres, various configurations, and a diverse audience. People were emerging from the pandemic, and it was evident entertainment and enjoyment became priorities to regain a sense of normalcy in life.

This year has been similar, even with a greater number of shows than in 2022. We have a very rich and diverse lineup. One significant milestone was being the official venue for the Pan American Games Santiago 2023, serving as the sports venue for the development of men’s and women’s volleyball competitions. This was possible because our venue meets the technical requirements for an event of this magnitude.

However, the country’s slow economic growth, inflation, although lower than this year, remaining high, and currency volatility (dollar) present a tremendous challenge for events. The mismatch between income in pesos and the costs associated with importing a show is a significant factor. All of these factors contribute to a less optimistic outlook for 2024 compared to 2023. While we anticipate a good year, we project a slight decrease in both the number of shows and the speed of ticket sales. Consequently, there will also be a decrease in audience attendance.

What can you tell me about the Chilean market, specifically Santiago? How does Chile differ from other countries in South America?

Chile stands out as a distinct market compared to the rest of South America, primarily due to its different purchasing power. The country boasts good access to credit coupled with low inflation, facilitating the purchase of tickets for events. Additionally, Chile has evolved into the global capital of urban music, experiencing robust growth in the musical genre within the country. This growth extends to maintaining other music genres with positive reception, a trend not observed in the rest of South America, where economic contraction is leading audiences to become more selective when attending concerts.

In summary, the safety and economy of our country make a substantial difference compared to other markets in South America.

It’s remarkable to see the talent that is coming out of Latin America, and it looks like countries are starting to develop arenas and sites to keep up with demand. Tell me about Movistar Arena’s amenities and why it is a premier location for artists and fans.

In Chile, we have a variety of venues and spaces to accommodate different types of artists and performances. Among these, Movistar Arena stands out due to its location, infrastructure and technical features. The venue is situated in the heart of the city, within the green oasis of Parque O’Higgins, providing easy access from any location for artists, producers, and fans.

Producers have the flexibility to stage their shows in various configurations based on their needs. In addition to enjoying a great show, fans utilize different spaces before and after the event, such as various bars, terraces, and VIP areas. Moreover, we offer a spacious parking area for all visitors. With all these attributes, our venue is positioned as one of the best venues in the country, making “Movistar Arena” the top choice for artists.

How important is a venue to not only a city but to the culture?

If there’s something that defines a country and makes it unique, it’s its culture. Witnessing its art, living its traditions, experiencing its music, strolling through its history — our venue contributes to the culture of our country in various ways. From its location within the Santiago neighborhood with centuries-old history, where countless residents gather at fondas and various events in Parque O’Higgins, to its gastronomy, Movistar Arena is deeply embedded in the place, providing culture by itself and through its history. From being an abandoned space to becoming the country’s most important venue, hosting a myriad of national and international artists, organizing a variety of events across different genres, and serving as a multipurpose facility, it plays a role in delivering culture to everyone. This is achieved in collaboration with government entities, always considering the community and its surroundings.

Even with business doing well, I’m sure there are still challenges with a fluctuating economy, inflation, etc. What challenges remain for not only Movistar Arena but also Chile when it comes to the live entertainment business?

Without a doubt, issues related to new technologies and sustainability are paramount. There are numerous global examples that can serve as a guide for what our industry should aspire to. As a venue, we are actively preparing for this by embracing experiences associated with technology, implementing 360-degree digitization, and forming partnerships with environmental partners to carry out initiatives both within the venue and during shows, among other endeavors.

What can you tell me about the promoters you work with? How has the way business is conducted changed since the pandemic?

We have a very good relationship with local production companies. Before the pandemic, promoters operated more independently; however, nowadays, there are many more players in the market with whom we manage collaborative work to provide the best service according to their needs. Internally, we evaluate all options based on the type of show.

A crucial factor in this relationship is developing effective logistical planning, starting from reserving the venue to post-show delivery. This involves accurately reading the market and moving forward collaboratively. Our focus is always on offering the best experience, advancing in more and better services.

The only way to host the number of shows we have today is undoubtedly through collaborative work with our promoters.

What do you look forward to the most when it comes to the live entertainment industry in Chile?

Firstly, overcoming inflation and achieving better national economic stability would undoubtedly have a positive impact on the entertainment market.

Secondly, we hope for continued growth in artistic offerings, both nationally and internationally. We closely monitor what is happening in the rest of the region, especially in Argentina and Brazil, which are crucial pillars when planning successful tours in South America.

Lastly, the arrival of major international players in Chile presents both challenges and very interesting opportunities for the local industry. This, combined with the “normalization” of supply and demand for shows, creates a challenging environment that we hope to navigate in the best possible way.