Live Nation changed up Australia's music industry landscape this year, and it shows.
Up 13 places from last year's #18 spot, here are some of the aggressive plays Michael Coppel and team made to get the company full steam ahead in the industry, including the recent purchase of Splendour In The Grass organisers Secret Sounds.
So far, triple j's Richard Kingsmill has come in at #6, UNIFIED's Jaddan Comerford has come in at #7, Future Classic's Nathan McLay and Chad Gillard have come in at #8, Apple executive Janelle McCarthy has come in at #9 and Spotify's Alicia Sbrugnera and Marcus Thaine has come in at #10.
Head here to pre-order the AMID Power 50 for the full list.
5 (last year 18)
Live Nation Australia, CEO
Justifying Michael Coppel's three-place drop to #18 in last year's Power 50, we observed that Live Nation's fledgling Australian operation had yet to significantly disrupt the local touring industry after three years in the market. When it did make its move, however, we wrote that readers could "be sure it'll be felt industry-wide". That statement was certainly borne out in 2016, as the world's largest live entertainment company made a number of aggressive plays down under.
Live Nation Australasia was founded in 2012 with the global giant's acquisition of Melbourne-based promoters Michael Coppel Presents, with Coppel himself becoming president and CEO of the new operation. While the international tours kept coming, and the new entity developed a strong comedy division, no major manoeuvres were forthcoming. Until this year.
The biggest move surprised many when it was revealed in December: Live Nation had purchased a majority share in Jessica Ducrou and Paul Piticco's Secret Sounds group, organisers of Splendour In The Grass and the Falls Festival. They are the first independent Australian festivals acquired by Live Nation, and join a formidable list of worldwide events now staged by the company that includes New York's Governors Ball, Reading and Leeds, Bonnaroo and Electric Daisy Carnival. Live Nation also has the rights to the now defunct Big Day Out via Austin-based promoters C3 Presents, which it acquired in 2014. Announcing the sale, Live Nation president and CEO Michael Rapino must have struck fear into the hearts of Australian promoters when he issued the ominous warning: "We look forward to partnering with [Secret Sounds] to find new ways to grow our live event footprint across Australia".
Part of that plan may well involve bringing mighty UK heavy music festival Download to Australia to fill the big hole left by Soundwave's collapse in 2015. Odds on that happening shortened considerably in February when Live Nation Australasia partnered with Melbourne-based multi-service company Unified to create Unify Presents. All the necessary ingredients seem to be there: Unified are heavy music specialists, Download is part of Live Nation's international event roster, and the festival's promoter Andy Copping tweeted that Australian fans should "watch this space" in reply to a complaint that local fans were wanting for a decent hard rock festival. Its introduction would dramatically alter our festival landscape. Regardless, Unify Presents has hit the ground running, with Bring Me The Horizon, Slipknot, A Day To Remember and Pierce The Veil amongst its first tours. Behind the scenes, Nigel Melder joined the new company, after eight years as head of touring for Destroy All Lines.
In July Live Nation was awarded a 30-year lease to operate Melbourne's iconic Palais Theatre, with Coppel promising to "restore the Palais to its former glories, to better adapt it to the changing requirements of live performances, and to operate it for the benefit of all stakeholders, hirers, staff and patrons". Not all were pleased, with rival promoter Michael Chugg highlighting the potential conflicts of interest of promoters operating venues. "When you book a venue for a concert they want to know who the act is," he told Fairfax. "So you will be in a situation where you are telling a rival who the act is before that act is booked. And that rival will be running the venue." Live Nation take the keys to the venue in April 2017.
By then the company will have staged Adele's debut Australian performances. Fans have been waiting eight years for the British singer to tour here — since the release of her first album 19 — and multiple arena shows in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Auckland reflects that demand. Live Nation Australasia were also the promoters for Crowded House's Sydney Opera House reunion shows, Kendrick Lamar's Bluesfest sideshows and Madonna's Rebel Heart Tour (which included an intimate — and bizarre — performance at Melbourne's Forum Theatre).
In addition to its busy contemporary music schedule, the company continues to explore new markets and alternative touring concepts: these include The Art Of Banksy exhibition in Melbourne, a Christmas show from kids' entertainers Giggle & Hoot, a production featuring the cast of Canadian teen drama The Next Step and a talking tour by Javier Pena and Steve Murphy, US DEA agents involved in capturing Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar.