Despite its location and action for international artistes generally being confined to the capital, Chile has long been an attractive touring destination, not least because of its impressive facilities, passionate fans and one of the region’s strongest economies. Christopher Barrett reports
Over the past two decades, Chile has had one of Latin America’s fastest-growing economies and following relatively slow growth in 2017 (1.3 per cent), rebounded last year, growing at a rate of 4 per cent.
With a population of 18 million, Chile has the highest average household income in Latin America. While the value of its peso has struggled against the US dollar in recent years, it has remained relatively robust in comparison to neighbouring Argentina’s currency.
Meanwhile, Chile has attracted some of contemporary music’s biggest names, with Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones, U2 and Roger Waters just some of the many artistes to have played shows promoted by Chile’s DG Medios alone.
More than 2,600 miles (4,300km) long and averaging just 109 miles (175km) wide, it is a slither of a country that lays between the world’s deepest ocean, the Pacific, and its longest mountain range, the Andes – straddled between the deserts of mid-South America to vast southern glacial fields
Located in the centre is its capital Santiago, very much the beating heart of the country’s entertainment business. Hardly surprising considering the fact 90 per cent of the country’s population live in the middle third of the country, in and around Santiago.
DG Medios co-founder Carlos Geniso is one of the best known and experienced concert promoters.
Born in Argentina, Geniso resides permanently in Santiago and promotes shows throughout Latin America.
On the back of a 50,000-capacity sold-out show by Paul McCartney in March at the Estadio Nacional Julio Martínez Prádanos in Santiago, the company has another sell-out there in October, with Iron Maiden.
Geniso has stretched the venue’s capacity from the usual 60,000 to 62,000 by making extra room on the pitch to accommodate 30,000 people. Ticket prices range from 24,150 to 102,350 peso ($34.5 to $146.38).
Such was the demand for Iron Maiden’s show that a further date was scheduled at the city’s Movistar Arena (16,592) the night before, which also promptly sold-out. In December DG had two sell-outs with Shawn Mendes at the Movistar, the first time the artiste had performed in Chile.
Despite the country experiencing economic growth, Geniso says the fluctuating value of the peso has created challenges when giving guarantees in US dollars.
“You have to carefully select which artistes you bring to the market because otherwise you can stretch it too far,” he says. “If there are too many shows here they will not all sell well and tickets have to be sensibly priced.”
With 120 performances across eight stages, US festival brand Lollapalooza (70,000) is Chile’s biggest music festival. Promoted by Lotus Producciones, it takes place over three days at O’Higgins Park in Santiago.
The most recent festival took place in March with headliners including Kendrick Lamar, Arctic Monkeys, Twenty One Pilots, Lenny Kravitz and Post Malone, three-day tickets cost from 150,000 peso ($212) to 410,000 peso ($585).
“We have established Lollapalooza in Chile and over the last nine years people have really bought into the festival experience, to the extent that we are now selling around 80 per cent of tickets before the line-up is announced,” says Lotus Producciones’ Sebastian de la Barra.
The company is working on the fourth edition of annual rock festival Santiago Gets Louder (25,000), which this year will be headlined by Slayer, Anthrax and Megadeth. It also regularly works with Cirque du Soleil and for its Amaluna show last year sold 100,000 tickets. This year it is working on Cirque’s OVO show at the Movistar Arena.
Barra says Lotus is enjoying a great year but the concert market is not for the faint hearted.
“The business here is hard,” he says. “Shows such as Paul McCartney and Lollapalooza sell well but some shows you really have to promote very well and do a huge marketing plan, just to break even.
“Some big names don’t do as well as they have in the past because there is so much more competition from promoters young and old who are presenting artistes with really big offers.”
With Santiago being the only city in the country regularly used by international touring artistes, regional tours with dates in Brazil and Argentina are essential, so Barra is concerned by any instability there.
“With the Argentinean economy not being great and the Brazilian political environment not the best, the general situation in South America is worse than it used to be but,” he says, “fortunately, Chile’s economy remains one of the best in Latin America.”
Although he is working on a handful of shows with Latin acts outside of Santiago, the capital remains the centre for visiting international acts.
“That is the main problem in Chile, Santiago is the only city with the amount of people willing and able to spend money on international shows. It is really hard to promote shows outside of Santiago, but we are exploring the idea of taking Cirque to other cities next year,” he says.
In April, the National Economic Prosecutor’s Office approved the acquisition of promoter Bizarro Producciones by the Fidelitas Group.
As a result, the promoter has become part of the Fidelitas’s HLR Group and will operate within its entertainment division, the E-Group, which operates the Movistar Arena and owns leading ticketing service Punto Ticket.
Bizarro, which previously partnered with pan-South American promoter Time 4 Fun, is one of Chile’s biggest promoters, handling around 50 ticketed concerts per year and 20 free events. It has already staged around 20 shows this year including four sell-outs by Luis Miguel, two with Daddy Yankee and Ana Gabriel, all at the Movistar Arena.
Bizarro entertainment director Alfredo Alonso says the company has 30 shows lined-up for later this year, many of them being at the Movistar Arena, including four by André Rieu in October, two by Marc Anthony and single shows by acts including Jesse and Joy, Bad Bunny, Sebastian Yatra and Got 7.
The promoter says that, while the company has had less shows on sale than last year, it is seeing more of them sell-out. Bizarro is also a major player in the festival market, primarily with Latin American artistes.
“Earlier this year we staged the Fiesta de la Independencia in Talca, a free four-day festival that attracts more than 150,000 people per night,” says Alonso. “We also produced the three-day Festival de Las Condes in Santiago, which was attended by 25,000 people per night.”
Bizarro business director Jaime Villalobos says one of the biggest challenges in the Chilean concert business at present is the cost of work visas for international artistes.
“For example, a person from the United Kingdom pays US$1,209 for a visa, someone from the Netherlands about US$1,800 and from the United States, US$870,” he says. “This results in a reduction in the number of shows, mainly in the emerging bands circuit, where the cost of visas is higher than the cost of the artiste and ticket sales revenue.”
With Fidelitas Entertainment also operating the Movistar Arena Bogotá (14,000) in Colombia, Villalobos says a major focus for Bizarro is expanding its existing operations there while launching in Peru within the next six months.
Santiago’s Movistar Arena has hosted some of world’s biggest artistes since it opened in 2006, including Sting, Elton John, Blur, Robbie Williams and Pearl Jam. As well as concerts, the venue hosts festivals such as the three-day Santiago Gets Louder Festival and the Cosquín Rock Festival.
It has 12 audience configurations, with the most widely being 12,560-capacity all-seated. In an average year it hosts 120 events and attracts a million visitors.
“For the last 10 years or so Chile has been a very good entertainment industry market,” says HLR Group executive director Daniel Hiller. “While it is true that the number of annual shows has decreased by a very low percentage, tickets are selling well and many of our shows are sold out.
“The entertainment industry here is dynamic and challenging. One of these challenges is the incorporation of Bizarro into our holding of entertainment companies, which will add value to the offer of shows that we have in Movistar Arena and will consolidate the industry in Chile.”
The country’s premier stadium is the Estadio Nacional Julio Martínez Prádanos, formerly Estadio Nacional de Chile. Located in the Ñuñoa district of Santiago, it is the largest stadium in the country.
Opened in 1938, the Estadio Nacional, which underwent a complete renovation in 2009, can host concerts ranging in capacity from 5,000 to 45,000 for a mixed seating and standing format, and the full 60,000 for a 100 per cent standing show.
Acts who have performed at the stadium include U2, Madonna, Black Sabbath, Coldplay and Guns N’Roses. Aside from its full-capacity shows this year, which include Paul McCartney and Iron Maiden, Muse will play a 20,000-capacity configuration in the track and field area, adjacent to the main stadium bowl, in September.
Venue manager Martín Sotomayor Mesa says the stadium is open to all concert promoters, with the busiest period for concerts being September to May, due to the favourable weather.
With the venue due to host the final of the prestigious Copa Libertadores football tournament, the equivalent of the Champions League in Europe, on 23 November, Mesa says the stadium has not been able to host as many concerts this year as usual.
Recent changes have seen the seats updated, the whole venue re-painted and the area around the stadium significantly improved. The biggest forthcoming improvement will be the opening of 12 new VIP boxes that will able to collectively seat 122 people.
“We do not have many big venues in Chile but there is a lot of demand here for VIP experiences at our venue and at the Movistar Arena. We already have a large VIP area but the new boxes will open next year, offering a new level of facilities,” says Mesa.
Just the ticket
Santiago-based Punto Ticket is Chile’s leading ticketing operator, which this year counts Paul McCartney, Luis Miguel, Iron Maiden, Muse, Chayanne, the Viña del Mar International Song Festival (15,000), Creamfields (25,000), and Lollapalloza among its clients.
“The concert market is strong, most of the shows are selling well,” says Punto Ticket’s general manager Paulo Atienza. “Chileans are spending more money on entertainment and especially on concerts.”
Atienza says that the company offers a mix of physical and digital tickets, and a major promotional push on digital tickets this year has paid off, with digital tickets now being produced for around 50 per cent of sales. Later this year Punto Ticket will begin offering mobile tickets for the first time.
Atienza says concert ticket sales patterns vary greatly depending on the artiste and their audience.
“We see three kinds of shows, ones that sell-out within a few hours, those that sell steadily over a much longer period and some that don’t see ticket sales until a couple of weeks before the event,” he says.
All eyes on the acts
Another promoter who has enjoyed success with both concerts and festivals is The Fan Lab Producciones, which in 2017 staged the two-day STGO Rock City festival at the Monumental Stadium in Santiago, which was attended by 50,000 fans per day.
Artistes who performed includied Guns N’Roses, The Who and Def Leppard, with tickets priced at 50,000 pesos ($70).
Fan Lab Producciones director Francisco Goni says for the time being his is not looking to reprise the event.
“We don’t do festivals every year because in our market people are primarily interested in going to see the bands and not so much the festival itself, apart from Lollapalooza which attracts a much younger crowd who go for experience more than the bands,” he says.
“We do festivals when there is enough talent available but we don’t try to stage festivals just to build a brand name for the event, because that can be dangerous.”
For the time being Fan Lab is focused on promoting concerts, primarily by rock and metal acts. In an average year it will promote between 30 and 40 concerts, with the vast majority being in Santiago.
Among the acts Fan Lab is working on this year are Seal, Marillion guitarist Steve Rothery, Epica and King Crimson. The latter has two shows at the Movistar Arena in October, with tickets starting as 33,400 perso ($48).
Goni says the band’s first show sold out in one hour.
‘There has always been a huge fanbase for metal and rock here, it is part of Chilean culture and is something that has been growing year by year,” he says.
“The age group who attend the concerts now were younger when these bands started out, they were studying and didn’t have much disposable income to go to concerts. They have grown with the bands and now they are older they have different lifestyle and are able to afford to go to the concerts.”
Despite the market being strong for rock acts, Goni says he is concerned by events in wider South America and the slowing economic growth in Chile.
“Chile has been affected by what is happening in Brazil and Argentina and the country’s economy is growing at a very low rate,” he says. “The retail industry drives the economy here and is not doing well, the copper industry is not doing well either.”
Goni describes his business as being a boutique promoter that offers it’s clients in-depth market knowledge.
He says, “The Chilean concert market is very dynamic, you have to be very flexible to adapt to changes and be very rational when talking to agents and talent when looking at the potential of the market.”