The Hot Seat: Michael Coppel

Published in The Music Network

 

Michael Coppel, one the biggest promoters in the game, got a whole lot bigger in 2012. Back in April, the global concerts giant Live Nation bought the Melbourne-based Michael Coppel Presents, coinciding with Coppel becoming President and CEO of LN’s Australasian interests. LN in these parts now has a distinct advantage; it’s a union with unrivalled talent-buying power, and it can tap into a global promoter network which can share resources and intelligence on artists.

And of course, Coppel brings his own bulging contacts book to the table. One of those contacts is artist manager Roger Davies and his artist Pink, who will tour Australia next June for LN. At deadline, Pink’s The Truth About Love tour has now grown to 42 dates and more than 400,000 tickets sold – remarkable business in a tricky business climate. When Coppel brought Pink out here in 2009, the U.S. pop singer did 58 arena shows and generated $90 million in ticket sales and merch. Other LN shows include an upcoming national tour teaming Neil Finn and Paul Kelly.

Last time Pink toured here she criss-crossed the country, returning to the metros. You’re not doing that again?

No. A lot of artists like the momentum of being on tour and travelling. So that was a factor that changed the 2008 itinerary. After the basic itinerary of about 24 shows, that tour exploded. Every time we played a city, the demand would escalate. We could have played another 10 or 20 shows above the 58 that we played. This time round its not going to be possible because we’ve got a more limited and fixed timeframe with U.S. and European dates. If we get to 44 shows, that’ll be as many as we end up getting. That’s a phenomenal number.

Is the Aussie market losing a bit of steam? Or is it “full steam ahead?
It’s definitely softening in a way that’s not uniform. It’s not 20% down across everything. The really strong attractions, the “triple-As,” are doing great business, business no-one would consider as being inferior to what they were doing 18 months to three years ago. A lot of the “B” and “C” tours are struggling because people are being really selective. Every promoter is aware that if you don’t have a Pink, Radiohead or Coldplay, or a Soundwave or Stereosonic on the festival side of things, you’re really not going to see what you would have counted on 12 months ago or two years ago.

When we last chatted, you were looking at getting back into the festivals game having split with V Fest. Any developments there?

Only if we can define a competitive point which makes sense for us to come into the market. There’s so many festivals now and it seems the only way you get a (different) line-up is to pay more money than the other guy. That’s not a basis of doing a festival. The festivals that have strength are the ones that kept a connection with the key idea, whether it’s Stereosonic with dance music, or Soundwave with hard rock and heavy metal. Regional festivals like Splendour or Falls, they have a bedrock idea that they’ve kept faith with. They’re the ones that have built organically.

What is the ambition of Live Nation Australia with you at the helm?

Our ambition is to grow and be the best promoter in the country. When I was running my own company, we were the major promoter for one or two years in every three years, depending on how our clients were working. With Live Nation now, because of the big products which come through the company worldwide, we’re destined to become the biggest promoter. And I want to maintain the standards in doing that. I want to be able to develop and build the marketplace, and not just be an output for acts that are signed to the company worldwide. We are growing. We’ve maintained everyone from both companies and taken three people on. There’s a lot of developments in marketing, particularly in online and digital, that we’re working on.

Is there a downside? Are you finding acts not wanting to be a part of the mega-machine?

I’ve never come across a band that doesn’t want to tour with Live Nation because we’re Live Nation. I’ve come across some acts that say “we aren’t big enough for you to consider,” and I say, “you’re wrong.” As an active goal at the company we want to be involved in artist development. We recognize you can’t just rely on the same crop of headliners, because they’ll age, go out of favour. You need to have new artists coming through all the time.

 

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