Labels and stadiums are out. Although TEG would consider bringing more tech companies, small-to-medium size venues and, just maybe, agents and artist managers into its expanding portfolio.
Speaking at Australian Music Week last Friday in Cronulla, TEG CEO Geoff Jones gave a history lesson on the company he shaped into a billion-dollar-plus entertainment and analytics powerhouse, and shared a vision for its future.
“We’re always looking at tech, it’s intrinsic to what we do,” Jones said during his keynote presentation with TIO’s Lars Brandle. “I don’t see us doing labels. We thought about buying agents and managers, we’re still thinking about that. We’ve got venues here and in the U.K. We like venues. Bricks and mortar aren’t bad assets in this time.”
Jones stopped short at announcing a TEG shopping list, but the company is always on the look-out.
Currently, TEG counts 20 brands under its banner and operates in seven countries including the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore and the U.K., through its acquisition of the MJR Group earlier this year. Its live music empire includes Ticketek, TEG Live, TEG Dainty, MJR and Qudos Bank Arena. TEG “won’t buy more arenas” in Australia, Jones confirmed.
“My thesis has always been, be all things to all people in so far as there will be cycling declines in touring and when the Australian dollar is doing it really tough. And the agents and managers demand ridiculous money because and AEG or Live Nation does a global deal with an artist and we don’t get a look in. so we’ve branched out, we’re a proudly Australian company. We’re touring all sorts of different stuff in Asia. This week, we’re promoting the Brazil football team vs South Korea in Abu Dhabi. We do that because we’re in the content game.”
In a candid, hour-long keynote Q&A, Jones discussed his previous career in the military, regional touring, festivals, TEG’s new owners Silver Lake and much more. Check out some of the highlights below.
On festivals-land There are way too many festivals. Some have got it right. Others don’t get it right, arguably we haven’t always got it right.
Some events have a niche, some have a variation on a theme. The big brands like Peter Noble and Byron Bay Bluesfest or Splendour in the Grass, those big brands will keep on keeping on. You’ve got to do things carefully. If you’ve got a theme, a destination (it can work).
The Groovin’ the Moo guys I respect greatly. They go into rural, regional Australia, they pick different markets. And they do well. People say they were lucky having Billie Eilish last year, but you make your own luck. They were very clever.
We’re not going to go out on a buying spree, buying up festivals. It’s not what we do. We will always look at opportunities.
A sad tune for Sandtunes Music Festival Late Friday, TEG announced the cancellation of Sandtunes Music Festival, which was scheduled for Nov. 30 and Dec. 1. The event was originally set for the southern end of the Gold Coast, at Coolangatta Beachfront, but was relocated to Metricon Stadium following a campaign by the Member for Currumbin.
“Putting it in the stadium didn’t cut through,” Jones tells TIO. “We had a go, we wanted to do something different, a destination and a beach-culture themed event, but through these various things we had to retire hurt.”
On Ticketek’s move to the U.K. I’m very proud to be the CEO of Ticketek. Always have been. It’s got great brand recognition. We don’t get everything right. We’re not the angels of death, I didn’t create the Ebola virus or the Zika virus. We just do our job, try to do it the best we can. It make sense to do it over there.
The U.K. is a really different market, there are no barriers to entry. We think as a promoter, it’s a market with a number of different players. We think we can fit in ok. We’ll take a softly-softly approach, earn some respect, hopefully, and develop from there.
The U.S. of A. We’re looking at it. It’s a market dominated by one really big player in ticketing, and there’s other big players there. There are pockets there where we could potentially do.
I think we’ll take content there, whether we open up fully we’re still talking with our partners Silver Lake. If you aspire to be a global player at any size if you don’t play n the U.S. market, you’re not playing. It’s not our highest priority. That’s the U.K. and Europe.
Asia remains a priority. We’ve just opened ticketing in India in Mumbai. People say India will be the next China in 50 years. It makes sense to get in.
Creating global packages for artists That’s happening fast. We’re already doing that. A heritage U.K. band we’re bringing out next year we’ll do Australia and New Zealand, Asia, Middle East and South Africa. We’re doing a comedian next year starting in South Africa then Australia and New Zealand, Asia. We’re bringing stuff into Australia. We recognise our population. we’re a broad church and a rich church, culturally.
Lars Brandle has reported at the frontline of the international music industry for almost 20 years. A former musician, Lars joined the American music trade “bible” Billboard in 2000 and went on to serve as Global News Editor, based in London. Now Billboard’s Australia correspondent and senior writer with The Industry Observer, Lars’ voice has been heard on CNN, the BBC and ABC, American Public Media's Marketplace and South Africa's EastCoast Radio, and he has spoken at Midem in Cannes, Music Matters in Singapore, Amsterdam Dance Event, London's City Showcase and at industry gatherings on both sides of the Tasman. His works have been published by Reuters, Media Week, Spin, and The Hollywood Reporter, and he has featured as a pundit in the Australian Financial Review, Business Review Weekly and Britain’s The Independent.