Live Events Summit: Content Chair interview
Tell us a bit about your role and your involvement in the live events sector.
I’m the Editor of TPi Magazine. Widely regarded as one of the industry's foremost authorities on the live events sector, the goal of TPi is to speak to those responsible for delivering the world's greatest shows. From the crew out on the road to those producing the latest products for the industry, we take a 360-degree view of the live events market looking at all departments including audio, lighting, video, rigging, staging, SFX, pyrotechnics, automation, transportation and catering. Throughout the year, the wider TPi team and I visit shows across the globe to reveal the stories from this all too often hidden world.
What are the major issues affecting the live events sector? How will the summit address these?
Obviously, with live shows being cancelled throughout 2020-21, everyone working in the industry was keen to see the return of in-person events. However, now the industry faces a number of new issues. Some are due to the pandemic; others are a direct result of geopolitical situations. First and foremost is the dramatic shortage of crewmembers working in the sector. Many individuals opted to move into other parallel markets such as the TV and film industry during 2020-21. This has made it incredibly hard for productions to amass the crew needed.
On top of this, the sheer cost of touring has seen a seismic change, particularly with the cost of freighting making it particularly hard for productions to keep costs down. That's before you get to the very specific European issue and the ramifications of Brexit making it harder for UK crew to work in Europe and vice versa with various stipulations including the 90-day rule.
Finally, there is still a relatively pressing issue in the hold-up in supply chains for new equipment. Needless to say, there are a number of uncertainties facing the sector, especially as we prepare for the upcoming 2023 touring season.
What are the main talking points in terms of technologies? What are you expecting to see on the ISE show floor?
The development in video technology, specifically with virtual studios and the ever-sophisticated methods in AR and VR has been staggering during the 2020s. With years of research, it will be interesting to see how companies are expecting to use these new tools for real-world applications. Another continually developing conversation is that of ‘immersive’ audio. Although there are many that might take issue with the term ‘immersive’ to describe this trend in the market, it’s clear that more companies in the pro audio sector are turning their attention to marketing their various offerings when it comes to spatial audio and what it can deliver to both artists and audiences alike.
Another key talking point, specifically on the manufacturing side, will be the topic of supply chains and how they are recovering from the pandemic with the shortages of raw materials; as well as the wider geopolitical situation and the effect it is having on bringing new products to market.
What do you see as the future of the sector?
The live events industry has always been made up of problem solvers, that live by the mantra ‘the show must go on'. I think in the years ahead, however, those involved are going to have to think even more outside the box when it comes to delivering a show while still keeping costs down - and also be more conscious of the environmental impact of touring which is an ever-growing concern for many artists.
That said, I think artists are going to look for more ways to keep interacting with fans from across the globe; although I believe the live performance will still remain the primary way for a fan to enjoy an artist's work, we will see more experimentation with everything from streaming to special one-off virtual events to bring artists into the homes of fans and try and encapsulate that live experience for those not lucky to be there in the crowd.
What can attendees expect from the summit and why should they attend?
Despite a number of issues facing the industry, there is still a great deal of innovation taking place within the sector. The Live Events Summit will be a forum to explore some of the changes we are likely to see in the live market in the coming few years and what the tours of tomorrow may look like. From looking at some of the latest technological trends to hearing from a number of thought leads who are working to the coal face of the live events sector to make live events even more spectacular year after year.