Here’s What Happened at the LIVE Asia Summit at #wowAsia2017
by Rachael Rajan Business Events | July 13, 2017 | News
LIVE Asia Summit WOW Convention Asia WOW Convention Asia 2017 Pullman Hotel
Spread across 2 days, the LIVE Asia Summit took place on July 7 and 8, at the Pullman Hotel New Delhi Aerocity, as part of the WOW Awards and Convention Asia 2017. The LIVE Asia Summit is designed to be the definitive meeting platform for organisations and professionals involved in the LIVE Entertainment Industry in Asia to tap the true potential of the business through shared learnings and collaborations. The platform also serves as the perfect facilitator of interactions between the global and Asian industry.
With four highly engaging sessions, two on each day, the LIVE Asia Summit brought together some of the most brilliant minds in the LIVE entertainment space, to explore learnings and gain a deeper understanding into the business of LIVE events today.
What Doesn’t Work at Large-Scale Concerts and Festivals
With the number of large-scale live entertainment events held in India on the rise, this session, moderated by Brian Tellis, Chairman, Fountainhead MKTG and EEMA NAC, provided a much-needed assessment of what does and doesn’t work. The last year witnessed a number of large international performances in India, including the Bieber and Coldplay concerts, both great achievements for the industry. The learnings from these and other events were shared openly, with the goal of taking live entertainment to the next level. Speakers shared their own experiences facing challenges, managing artists’ demands and client expectations, and making profits in the context of existing taxation laws and ticketing vs. sponsorship cultures.
Sabbas Joseph, President, EEMA and Founder & Director, Wizcraft International spoke about the series of Michael Jackson Best Look-Alike shows prior to 1996, where 3 days before the tour could begin, Indian Airlines went on strike. More recently, the Global Citizen Festival with Coldplay’s performance saw the creation of the ‘India Moment’ which is what in a way made the event what it was. While creating this moment came with its share of challenges, managing displeasure at what was misinterpreted as ‘disrespect to the flag’ required a lot of work as well. “We had to actually create a context and present to everyone who mattered that this wasn’t an act of disrespect, but an act of salutation,” remarked Joseph. “It takes a lot to get things done. Any big moment or big event will always take place because you surmounted multiple challenges. All I can say is, don’t give up.”
Emma Clark, Event Director, Action Impact noted how large-scale can be approached based on the number in the audience or the budget-size. Speaking from her experience managing high-budget events for smaller high-profile audiences as well as conferences for up to 1500 people, she emphasised how having clients who appreciate your work is what makes the challenge of executing these events within the allocated budgets, worthwhile. While clients can often have unreasonable expectations, demands that are achievable are accommodated, while the rest have to be managed diplomatically.
She said, “The one thing that makes it worthwhile is having clients that understand that it is hard work. It doesn’t matter if you have a hundred dirhams or a hundred million dirhams to spend on an event, if the client appreciates what you’ve done at the end of it. We would move heaven and earth for a client but it has to be practical.”
Alexis Dijksterhuis, Vice President, Strategy and New Business, Flash Entertainment reiterated the importance of knowing your market and where the show is happening, especially when going to an emerging market, and getting the timing and preparation right. Speaking from his experience of managing concerts featuring artists like Axl Rose, he also brought in an interesting perspective of how artists and their demands have to be approached. While a lot of production companies don’t know where to draw the line when it comes to artists’ demands, Dijksterhuis takes it in his stride.
“The artist is the artist. You cannot control them or tell them what to do because they don’t care. You give in because they provide a unique experience that nobody else can deliver. What you have to understand is that the product of a singer or an artist is unique. It’s non-replaceable and is different from other products. An artist is someone who’s put his or her passion into an art. And with this art comes a growth of ego over time,” he said.
Lee Charteris, Operations Director, Kuwait National Cultural District described a 2002 non-ticketed, free Fatboy Slim concert at Brighton, where they expected 60K people, but around a quarter of a million turned up. Unprepared to cater to such a large audience, the infrastructure of the town fell apart. “Even if an event is free, you need to have an idea of how many people are going to come to an event, be it a registration of intent or some way of monitoring interest. The number of security, police and facilities just get divided among those who are there.”
The panel also addressed the question of why certain large brands don’t go down well when taken to a new geography. “Sometimes it’s got to do with marketing, and sometimes it’s for reasons we can’t really figure out. About brands being imported into India, we’re at that phase where this is just being done. We’ve had EVC and other brands that Percept has fed into India. I’d say it’s an early phase for each of them. I wouldn’t say any of them is a failure. I’d say they’re on their way to a success. We can probably know if they’ve worked or not in the next three to five years,” said Joseph.
Dijksterhuis also spoke of how in the UAE, they look for brands and if you’re a top artist, most likely you’ll be successful. “The moment we start to experiment, it doesn’t work,” he said.
Charteris added, “Just because it’s been a success somewhere in the world doesn’t mean it will work well in a new geography. People are spending fortunes on licensing brand names of festivals and bringing them to another territory and they just don’t work.”
Finally, the panel looked at what needs to change in India so ticketing becomes a viable model. Joseph remarked, “While earlier your standing in life was dependent on how good a free ticket you were able to get, now people are increasingly working with BookMyShow and other ticketing sites to be able to buy tickets. So that environment is changing a bit. The licensing regime is also changing for the better. I think that over a period of time, we’re going to have less of concerts in India and more of experiences that feature big artists.”
Exploring Artists’ POV on the LIVE Entertainment Economy
Moderated by Tarsame Mittal, Founder, TM Talent Management, this lively session saw Raftaar, Rapper/Producer/Composer and Vishal Dadlani, Singer, Music Director share their own stories getting to where they are today, and also their experiences performing at events and weddings, enlightening the industry on some of the challenges they face. While for the most part, this was a light-hearted conversation packed with anecdotes and jokes, the artists did raise up a few issues. Not being provided good quality equipment at events can ruin a show, and this is something event managers need to pay greater attention to. Further, last-minute requests to do things like ‘cut ribbons’ at an event or felicitate a personality is something that should not be made of artists. Finally, the need for event managers to be communicative with the talent manager right from the beginning is essential, so artists aren’t taken unaware by organiser demands.
Tarsame Mittal remarked, “The truth is that all artists would like to have a transparent approach to what they do. There may be lot of people in between, but there has to be a communication channel, because eventually the artist goes on stage and performs for an audience. The client has certain ideas in mind they would have shared with the guy he is dealing with and that does not reach the artist. It’s our responsibility to provide clarity to the artist, so when he’s on stage he’s able to deliver.”
Raftaar added, “I feel when there are 3-4 people involved like the event company, the artist manager, some other company or coordinator, someone promises something and not everyone is in the loop.”
Vishal Dadlani commented, “The areas where we see most compromise are in aspects of the show like light and sound, where we’re asked to make do with what’s provided. The other thing you need to look at, is making a wedding gig bigger and brighter than just a wedding gig. Let’s make the production better. It’s not about making our travel and stay more comfortable, but about giving us what we need to make the show better. And stop putting VIP’s in front of the stage. You can’t perform to an audience that’s all the way at the back.”
Freshly Baked! Learnings from the First Year of a New IP
Curated by Shaju Ignatius, Director, The Ignite Enterprise, this session saw IP owners share on the kind of results they look to get from an IP in its first year, and the way forward.
On the subject of the market for destination IP’s in India, Siddharth Chaturvedi, CEO, Event Crafter who is responsible for Taalbelia, a boutique festival that provides a holistic experience to families at Mundhwa, Rajasthan, spoke about how the event was marketed so that it sold out in the first year itself and also how he didn't rely on sponsorships. He said, “Taalbelia was always a dream for me. It had to be liberating. As a first-timer, with my idea of a very niche festival, I didn’t think that sponsors would believe in it right away. I expected that they would want to wait for the property to get bigger. This is something I’d accepted, though I still did get a few. You have to invest in your IP, that’s the reality. So you’ve got to plan your event around the monies you’re willing to invest. The good thing for us now, is people are responding.”
Talking about his experience conceptualising and bringing to life the Mumbai Marathon, Vivek Singh, Jt. MD, Procam International Pvt. Ltd. said, “IP creation is something that’s less intellect-driven and more heart-and-passion-driven. You’ve got to believe in your idea. And only then can something called IP creation actually happen. While a lot has changed over the years, the essence of IP creation has remained the same. You believe that your idea has to see the light of day, and you’re willing to risk and put everything on the line.”
Kanishka Singha, Director, Creatives & Content, ThoT spoke at length about the idea behind Magnetic Fields, where he had multiple partners on board. “From where I’m coming from, I believe collaboration is a great way to go. It is in the first year that you get to see things grow and this is when it’s exciting. In later years, you may be sold out to capacity, but the excitement is very different then,” he said.
Fuelling Live Businesses: Investors, Partners, Consultants
Curated by Vinit Karnik, Business Head, ESP Properties, this session looked at what it takes to sustain and scale up IP’s and the role that investors, partners and consultants can play.
Jatin Varma, Founder, Comic Con India, entered into a joint venture with Reed Exhibitions, one of the largest exhibitions’ company in the world, that’s responsible for the largest Comic Con events globally, among other events and properties. Sharing his view of what they bring to the table and what motivated him to seek a partner, Varma said, “With our first few events being successful, we decided we needed to develop this into a separate entity to make sure it’s done properly. In 2014, we realised we needed to start ticketing and to clean up the show as well. At that time we were also looking for investors. The team from Reed Exhibitions came down, and it turned out to be an extremely fruitful strategic partnership. In addition to bringing in money, they were also the masters of running shows, including the biggest Comic Cons. They gave us a lot of reach to content as well. We’ve been scaling up the show since then."
Deepak Choudhary, Founder and Director, Event Capital, is responsible for identifying and investing in some of the most successful IP’s in the country. He observed, “There are four areas of an IP to look at: sales, marketing, curation and operations and logistics. Event companies need to spend to create a great machinery to get sales. Also when we approach marketers, we need to make an investment in understanding ATL. Curation has to largely come out of what you’re passionate about and knowledgeable of. When it comes to operations, no one can beat our event industry.”
Talking about what a brand wants from an association with an IP, Mahesh Kanchan, Marketing Head, Carlsberg said, “To scale up and make money really quick, you need passion, but also someone to back it up in terms of a consistent partner who sees value in it and is willing to put marketing dollars behind it over a period of time. In India, in order for any provider of content to succeed, you need large advertising or marketing spends coming in. And from a marketer’s point of view, I look at ROI for sure.” Providing the examples of Lakme Fashion Week and Blenders Pride Fashion Tour, he emphasised that the fitment has to be really strong.
Chaitanya Mathur, Co-Director, The Grub Fest added, “The IP itself was something we saw our future valuation in, our future growth in, not thinking that the first edition would be successful. That’s something anyone getting into IP events has to understand. In our first edition, sponsorship was probably 5% of our costing and we made a major loss. But we saw that through our network of restauranteurs, we could bring a B2B side to it. Also, customers were coming in. That’s something that kept us going."
Spread across 2 days, the LIVE Asia Summit took place on July 7 and 8, at the Pullman Hotel New Delhi Aerocity, as part of the WOW Awards and Convention Asia 2017.