ILMC chief on future of live music and impact of Covid and Brexit In 2022


March 14, 2022

ILMC (International Live Music Conference) head Greg Parmley has spoken to Headliner about what attendees can expect from this year’s event – returning for the first time since the start of the pandemic – as well as the various ways in which Covid and Brexit will continue to impact the live music sector this year.

The ILMC returns next month as an in-person gathering at a new, welcoming 1,200 of the world’s most influential live music professionals from over 40 countries to the recently upgraded Royal Lancaster Hotel from April 26-29 2022. The move marks the first venue change for ILMC in more than 20 years, in response to increasing demand for the event.

Carrying over the online aspects of ILMC 33’s ‘Virtually Live’ lockdown event, ILMC 34 will use a hybrid model, with conference sessions available on demand to delegates for 30 days after the event.

Here, Parmely speaks to Headliner about the long-awaited return of ILMC and the challenges and opportunities facing the live music sector in 2022, as we enter “the next chapter” of the business…

What will be the core focus of the conference and how will it benefit attendees?

This year’s ILMC will be the first in-person gathering of the international live music business since the pandemic began. ILMC 32 took place in March 2020 just as restrictions were coming into force, so this will be the first time many industry leaders and executives will have seen each other in that time.

As much as the discussions and workshops throughout the conference are always key, for me this year is about marking the beginning of the next chapter in the business. With Omicron disrupting everything over Christmas, we had to move dates, but it means ILMC takes place at the start line for what comes next. For me, the 2022 edition will be about reuniting the business in-person. It’s a broad and inspiring community of individuals, and I expect it will be emotional!

Are there any key talking points this year?

Recovery is a watchword: how does the business bounce back quickly and future-proof itself moving forwards? With the Astroworld tragedy still fresh in people’s minds, crowd safety will be front and centre, as will the Ukraine war and the broader impact on the business. It’s a huge agenda, and from the bigger current affairs we have workshops on the metaverse, NFTs, YouTube, mental health first aid; and topics covering agencies, festivals, venues, branding, ticketing, and a whole day dedicated to sustainability with the Green Events & Innovations Conference taking place within ILMC for the first time.

"This year is about marking the next chapter in live music".

Tell us about the hybrid element of the conference. Has this expanded the scope and reach of the conference?

We’re recording all of the conference sessions for delegates to watch back for 30 days afterwards, and we’ve revamped our online networking scheme as well. So, it’s not so much hybrid as it is functional. The idea that you pay to attend a conference and have to choose between a meeting or a session that you want to catch seems antiquated now. I want all of our members to be able to see everything, even if they can’t be in the room to take part in person.

What are your predictions for the live industry this year? Are the realities of Brexit likely to hit harder than before, given the absence of international touring over the past 18 months?

We’re not out of the woods yet. Some markets still have Covid restrictions in place, and the pandemic masked some serious issues from Brexit which will start to hurt as European touring resumes. Brexit is affecting some areas of the supply chain in the UK as well; there aren’t enough concert trucks to go around domestically, let alone when it comes to cabotage and crossing borders. Larger artists will navigate these new rules and hurdles. It’s emerging artists with tighter budgets and smaller teams that will bear the worst of it. That said, there is progress, and a lot of work is being done behind the scenes to resolve some of the main sticking points.

Beyond Covid and Brexit, what are the other key concerns for the live music industry heading into 2022?

The war in Ukraine adds another pressure. The impact of Russia’s incursion is going to affect shows in Eastern Europe and more broadly as sanctions take effect and some international artists who simply won’t distinguish between Ukraine and neighbouring countries and will choose not to tour. It’s a tragic development, and something that was unthinkable even a few months ago. ILMC has been keeping in touch with our members in both Ukraine and Russia, and offering support where we can, as I know many others have as well.

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