‘Spain Is A Country With A Passionate Audience’: Q’s With Neo Sala, CEO, Doctor Music

Neo Sala foto
Neo Sala, founder and CEO of Doctor Music.

Pollstar speaks with Neo Sala, founder and CEO of Doctor Music, one of Spain’s longest-standing promoters, and the go-to company for many international blockbuster tours coming through the country.

He’s always got his finger on the pulse of live, and despite the challenges this business has had to face over the years, he still considers himself lucky to work in it.

Pollstar: How’s life, and how’s business?
Life is good and business is good too. I still consider myself very blessed to be a concert promoter.

What are some recent successes you’d like to highlight? And what upcoming shows would you like to highlight?
Bruce Springsteen’s Spanish tour. This year, we have promoted three shows in Madrid, and two in Barcelona, which, adding the two shows he played last year in Barcelona, means a total of more than 350,000 tickets sold in a 14-month period. An absolute record in Spain. And we still have some other shows this year with artists such as Robbie Williams, Bryan Adams, Pretenders, Nick Carter, Within Temptation, Walk of the Earth, etc.

Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band performing at Barcelona’s Estadi Olimpic De Montjuic “Lluis Companys” last year, promoted by Doctor Music.

What have been the most significant changes to your business, since Eventim came on board in 2018 – if any?
Having Eventim on board is great, as times have changed, and nowadays it is increasingly difficult to compete in the sector without the support of a company with great economic resources at an international level. However, it has not changed the way we operate at all, as they do not interfere and allow us to work in a fully independent way.

What trends do you observe in the live entertainment world? Anything that stands out to you?
Mini-residencies and touring artists playing multiple nights in the same cities have definitely become more popular. In terms of musical genres, it is obvious that Latin music is bigger than ever today and keeps on growing.

On the audience side, I’m concerned that the new generations now prioritize [screens] over face-to-face communication and in-person experiences. Many pay for an expensive ticket, and spend much of the concert taking photos and videos, while interacting on social networks, and talking to each other. The attention they pay to the performance plummets, and their memories of the concert will be much more perishable. A shame.

You’re the go-to company for some of the world’s biggest international artists, but how about the local/regional repertoire? Has that become more important to your business?
As Latin music gets bigger, we are now looking at emerging talent in Spain and we expect to make some signings in the near future. However, for the time being, our core business is promoting international artists in Spain.

Rammstein performed at a stadium in San Sebastián this year. Do many tours make a stop in San Sebastián? Is it an emerging market? I just didn’t have it on my radar, that’s why I’m asking.
Historically, San Sebastian – and also the nearby city of Bilbao – have been on the route of international tours since the early 1980s. It’s true that, in the last 10 years, the city has hosted fewer concerts than before, but it is still a very popular city to play in, where artists enjoy a lot.

Do you see other cities/markets emerging as viable tour stops? Which ones come to mind that you wouldn’t even have considered a few years back?
The live music industry in Spain is booming, and now it is normal to see tours stopping in Valencia, Murcia, Granada, Sevilla, Malaga, Alicante, Zaragoza, Bilbao, Santiago de Compostela, La Coruña, etc.

Tying into that: is there one city in Spain that could do with another large-scale live entertainment arena?
I think Sevilla could be the next one.

Doctor Music
The original site of Doctor Music Festival: Valley d’Aneu in the Spanish Pyrenees. “Never say never,” was Neo Sala’s response to the question of whether the event would ever return.

Is it fair to say that Doctor Music Festival is off the table? Or do you still contemplate bringing it back?
We feel there are now too many festivals in Spain, so at this moment we do not contemplate bringing it back. However, we can never say never. If I did a festival again, I would like it to be one with no smartphones allowed, but I’m afraid that, at this moment, this would not be accepted by the vast majority of the audience. So, this could be an idea for the far future, if one day people get fed up with being connected 24/7.

Anything you’d like to add?
Spain is a country with an amazing audience, who are so passionate, they make artists very happy. And the food is equally amazing. What else can one ask for?

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