Live Nation has replaced record companies for development, says Denis Desmond
Live Nation’s ticket sales in June rose 20% on 2016’s figure
Denis Desmond says increased security at concerts ‘is always evolving, the body searches will continue, but it’s a balance, you don’t want to put fear into people when it comes to going to a show’. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
Denis Desmond, the man behind MCD and now chairman of Live Nation UK and Ireland, has assured music fans that the live music sector is investing in new artists, complementing traditional development deals from record companies.
In an interview with Music Business Worldwide, Desmond addressed a continuing concern about how new artists are supported.
“A lot of the deals we’re doing are development deals, where I suppose we have kind of replaced the record companies, from an advance point of view,” he said. “So when you have artists coming along saying they would like to spend X on production, because we’re about to go on tour, that money can come from Live Nation, and that’s us investing in the artists, that’s us saying, we believe. And it can be a big investment.”
Desmond said that despite the relative fortunes of the live industry, the record industry remains a valuable breeding ground for newer artists, citing Rag n Bone Man and Royal Blood as among the new wave of potential stadium acts. “The investment is probably more about time and effort than it ever was, and less about money,” he says. “The days are gone of big cheques and big advances. No one’s spending a million making a video these days. Plus there are a lot of 360 deals still out there, which means they are getting a percentage of live revenues.”
The interview came after Live Nation UK & Ireland – which reported ticket sales of 1.1m in June alone, a rise of 26% compared to 2016 – saw terrorism come to its doors with the attack at Ariana Grande’s Manchester Arena show in May.
“Obviously the initial reaction was one of total shock,” he said. “It was a Live Nation show, staff were traumatised. It’s an atrocity that in your worst nightmares you wouldn’t have expected to happen, but unfortunately, these are the times that we live in.
“What can we do going forward? I think security is always evolving, the body searches will continue, but it’s a balance, you don’t want to put fear into people when it comes to going to a show.
“People are more vigilant, doors are opening earlier - and people are happy with that. They like to see a big police and security presence, they like that everyone is searched; there is an element of inconvenience but it makes people feel more comfortable.
“Overall though, the biggest thing that’s happening is people are carrying on. They will continue to go to shows.”
The music mogul, worth €178 million with MCD partner Caroline Downey, also praised Guns N’ Roses for their recent Slane show, and said that Rose’s stint as frontman of AC/DC had improved his behaviour.
“My first experience with them was 25-odd years ago, when, again, they were playing Slane Castle, and in those days you had to do the shows there in daylight. I remember they were due on stage at 6.30pm, and at 6pm Axl was still in his hotel 25 miles away. This time around, he was there the day before and they went on stage 10 minutes early. They played for three hours and it was awesome.
“He clearly has a huge respect for AC/DC and I think the discipline that band has – and has had for 40 plus years – rubbed off on him.