Mumbai attacks a blow to India's concert business

Sun Dec 7, 2008 5:17pm EST
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By Mitchell Peters

LOS ANGELES (Billboard) - At a time when some international recording artists are looking to include India in their Asian touring itineraries, the recent attacks in Mumbai could hurt the country's emerging live entertainment business.

While India's touring market remains relatively small and is hampered by inadequate infrastructure, a growing number of Western recording stars have performed there in recent years, including Beyonce, 50 Cent, Wyclef Jean, the Rolling Stones, Shakira, Aerosmith, Lionel Richie and Iron Maiden.

"The tragic events in Mumbai will have a huge impact on the decision of artists touring in India in general," Agency Group CEO Neil Warnock says. "This is such a shame, as we have seen the touring business in India becoming more viable over the last several years."

One immediate casualty of the attacks was the December 7 Live Earth India concert, which organizers canceled after gunmen killed 171 people during a three-day siege at two hotels and other landmarks in Mumbai, India's entertainment and financial capital. Live Earth India, whose lineup included Bon Jovi and Roger Waters, was to be held at Mumbai's 20,000-capacity Andheri Sports Complex.

Large concerts in India are typically held in stadiums, with the top markets being Mumbai and Bangalore. Since many shows are held outdoors, the attacks could raise the question of crowd control and safety.

"They don't have arenas like we have, where you can control the ingress and egress," says Randy Phillips, CEO of concert promoter AEG Live. "The question is the confidence level that you have in the (security company) you're hiring, and whether they can do the job and secure the site."

Warnock says he hopes the Indian government will introduce new security measures at concert venues, noting that such steps would "reassure not only the local people but also the international touring community that coming back to India can be achieved in a safe and secure way."

India has about four primary concert promotion companies and a number of up-and-coming promoters trying to tap into the business, according to a booking agent at an international talent firm who asked to remain anonymous.   Continued...

<p>Beyonce Knowles performs during a concert in Mumbai, October 27, 2007. REUTERS/Punit Paranjpe</p>