Music industry legend Harvey Goldsmith provided a highlight at The Event Production Show, discussing his career, the current state of the industry, and the direction it is heading in the future.
Goldsmith worked with Bob Geldof to produce and promote Live Aid, in a career that has seen him work with everyone from The Rolling Stones to Pink Floyd, David Bowie and Mariah Carey.
Goldsmith opened by telling the story of how Live Aid came together – he had previously managed Bob Geldof’s Boomtown Rats, and one day came in to his office to find Geldof there, with a pitch for an ambitious charity concert.
He says that Queen, who delivered an iconic performance for the ages, were booked for Live Aid “by accident”. Geldof was asked in a press conference who was playing and, according to Goldsmith, “He rattled off a list from the top of his head. Then we had to go call Queen’s management to get them there.”
When asked by Access editor Tom Hall why he has always stayed independent, Goldsmith replied: “I value my independence. I believe that my role in life is to entertain people, so I’ve put on everything from Ant & Dec to classical operas.”
He discussed how the music industry has changed since the 60s, and lamented that a lot of headline acts at events today are ephemeral pop acts with no longevity.
“The industry needs to put the time and investment into new acts, developing young artists. Pop doesn’t have the shelf life, the legacy – we need to sustain our rising talent.”
Goldsmith then went on to give the crowd a brief history of how ‘experiential’ came to be as a concept, before talking about invisible, the experiential agency he currently works with.
“It’s about taking a corporate brand and getting them in touch with their audience. I’m always working on a dozen projects at once – every day a dozen ideas float by.”
When asked what piece of technology he thinks will have the largest impact on festivals and gigs moving into the future, Goldsmith pointed to data tracking and RFID technology, which he says can help us to understand patterns of people and movement.
He also touched upon the volatile ticketing sector, saying: “The industry needs to decide how honest it wants to be with ticketing. RFID technology can improve the customer experience, and bypass secondary ticketing sites which are offering inflated prices.
“Promoters giving up ticket distribution was probably the stupidest move we ever made. Some of these new ticket brokers have no knowledge of the industry, and don’t care about the customer – it’s just about the sales.
“We need to get back to a level playing field – we need even distribution. Tickets are an entry point, not a commodity to be bought and sold.”
Finally, Goldsmith mentioned the business woes of HMV – a company which, he says, asked him for advice during their financial crisis.
Goldsmith advised HMV that their stores were aimed at the wrong demographic, and that the young audience they were targeting were not buying physical media. He suggested they should target the older generation that still has a huge market for vinyl records.
“They didn’t listen to me,” said Goldsmith. “And then they went bust.”