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THE COUNT: READING/LEEDS LIGHTS UP, COACHELLA SELLS OUT

HOT FUN IN THE SUMMERTIME: Few things are better than a great show in an outdoor setting, but managers, promoters, agents and buyers worldwide are indicating a bumpier road than usual to securing headlining talent for those proverbial hot August nights. When acts successfully straddle genres—and thus can appeal to diverse festival crowds—the eagerness to book them tends to heat up dramatically.

Look no further than the lucrative and ultra-competitive U.K. summer season, tentpoles of which include Live Nation’s preeminent metal gathering, the Download Festival (6/14-16), Michael and Emily Eavis’ enormous, pop-leaning Glastonbury Festival (6/26-30), the alternative/dance-oriented Reading and Leeds Festivals (8/21-25) and AEG’s traditionally star-studded British Summer Time concert series in Hyde Park (beginning 7/5).

One way to rise above the fray is to introduce something no one has seen before. To that end, Live Nation/Festival Republic’s Reading and Leeds will debut a value-added dance stage, dubbed The Chevron, at this year’s outing. Headlined by a trio of Wasserman clients—The Prodigy, Skrillex and Sonny Fodera—the 40k-cap space will feature the world’s first outdoor floating LED video sky canopy. Picture a portable Sphere, if you will.

Previously announced headliners at the Melvin Benn-overseen Reading/Leeds include Liam Gallagher, Lana Del Rey, Fred again.., Gerry Cinnamon, Catfish and the Bottlemen, 21 Savage (UTA) and blink-182 (CAA), who insiders say were also targeted to headline Live Nation’s Download.

That event enjoyed its biggest and fastest-selling year in 2023—its 20th anniversary sold out at 90k thanks to two no-repeat sets from Metallica and performances by Slipknot and Bring Me the Horizon. Topping that bill was daunting, but Download promoter Andy Copping was able to book headliners Queens of the Stone Age (WME), Fall Out Boy (CAA) and Avenged Sevenfold (CAA) for 2024, staving off a potential downturn. While sales will probably not hit last year’s numbers, 50k+ is looking pretty good five months out.


Wasserman Music's Lee Anderson, Festival Republic's Melvin Benn, Download Festival's Andy Copping

Dua Lipa, Coldplay and Shania Twain are expected to headline Glastonbury. The latter is also confirmed for British Summer Time alongside Andrea Bocelli, Kylie Minogue, Robbie Williams and, in a testament to the global strength of K-pop, Stray Kids. Stevie Wonder, Stevie Nicks and SZA are among the names being bandied about as BST lineup additions.

More than a few insiders are pushing back against certain forecasters’ doom-and-gloom scenarios, which were prompted by some slow on-sales—particularly that of Goldenvoice/AEG’s Coachella, which didn’t blow out immediately. The first weekend (4/12-14) did sell out, at 125k tickets, last week, albeit three weeks later than in 2023. It seems that flowers continue to bloom in the desert.

“The marketplace this year will be in sync with what we did last year,” a top live-music exec insists. “Amphitheater on-sales for those who play them regularly—The Doobie Brothers, Santana, Dave Matthews Band—are tried and true. Fans know tickets are available and still will be later. Very few shows at these sheds go up and slam, unless it’s new and hot like HARDY, which definitely slammed, or Avril Lavigne, who's just being rediscovered by a new generation of kids. The pace of the sale is what it is. If you open with 3k sold, you will wind up selling 8-10k.”

In arenas, USHER (WME) and Justin Timberlake “are killing,” and expectations are that Jennifer Lopez will as well once her tour goes up this week. “There’s a lot of excitement,” the exec said. “We’re not hitting a wall.”

So what’s missing this summer? “There aren’t as many giants going out. There’s no Taylor [Swift] in the States, no Metallica, no Beyoncé,” the aforementioned live-sector player says. “It’s simply based on an artist’s clock and nothing else.” Likewise, AC/DC could surely have played U.S. stadiums this summer as part of their first tour since 2016 but opted instead for a three-month European run, which has seen red-hot, near-instant sellouts faster than you can shout “Thunderstruck.”

One of the reasons for the current boom in live entertainment can be traced to the pandemic's all but killing the movie business and at the same time igniting the concert world. “We used to compete in summer and at Christmas with movies. That simply doesn’t happen anymore,” the exec adds. “Sports and live entertainment are booming because people were starved for those experiences. The music side has definitely benefited.”

TAKING FLIGHT: Could the Eagles be the next band booked at Sphere after Dead & Company extend their previously announced residency? Prognosticators prognosticate that a band that big could play there more or less indefinitely. Just imagine the “Hotel California” visuals. Dealer’s choice, Swirv.

MUSICAL CHAIRS: Several top-touring draws have new management, with Q Prime signing reunited metal monsters Pantera, Red Light’s Pete Galli becoming the latest to date Morrissey and H.E.R. heading over to Lighthouse. Meanwhile, Crush, which has turbo-charged box office receipts for acts like Green Day and Weezer, has signed Kesha after her 16-year tenure with Vector.


CAA's Jenna Adler, Crush Management's Bob McLynn, Wasserman Music's Tom Schroeder

NEAR TRUTHS:
DESERT SONG
Give I.B. a bottle of water. (4/12a)
AARON BAY-SCHUCK AND TOM CORSON: THE HITS INTERVIEW (PART ONE)
Bunny's hoppin' again. (4/12a)
COACHELLA: SETS TO SEE AND PLACES TO BE
Your desert deets are here. (4/12a)
SONG REVENUE: SONY
HITS FAST FORWARD
Walkin' tall in vintage fashion (4/12a)
THE COUNT: SUPERSTARS TO SURPRISE AT COACHELLA?
The latest tidbits from the vibrant live sector (4/12a)
THE NEW UMG
Gosh, we hope there are more press releases.
TIKTOK BANNED!
Unless the Senate manages to make this whole thing go away, that is.
THE NEW HUGE COUNTRY ACT
No, not that one.
TRUMP'S CAMPAIGN PLAYLIST
Now 100% unlicensed!
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