Routing a tour in South America isn’t easy for artists visiting from elsewhere due to the countries’ infrastructures, but most major acts, from Evanescence to Paul McCartney, still make their way to the continent, and those who work in the live industry in the region know why.
“One of the main reasons is how warm and welcoming the fans are,” Jose Muniz of Mercury Concerts tells Pollstar. “Even with the language barrier, they sing every song, up to the point that they are louder than the artist. There is no other crowd like the Latin ones.”
The passionate, expressive fan in South America is a sight to behold, and those in live entertainment are starting to scratch the surface of the potential of markets including Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Chile and Uruguay with the development of more venues, specifically arenas, that can accommodate artists who may not be able to sell out an entire stadium (of which there are many in the continent because of the people’s love for soccer).
Not every major city has a site dedicated mostly to live non-sports entertainment, and much of it has to do with the lack of suitable land for development and government policies that scare away some investors. However, the private sector is starting to find ways into the market, working with local and federal governments as well as communities to develop much-needed sites that can not only boost local economies but spark a creative movement in the region.
“When you go to a market internationally that never had a world-class arena, the impact that it has on the aspirations of the artist and what they believe is possible and the role it plays in the ecosystem, can be really positive and impactful,” says Wesley Cullen, Oak View Group’s vice president of international venue development and former general manager of the Coliseo de Puerto Rico in San Juan (Oak View Group is the parent company of Pollstar. See page 60 for an interview with Cullen). “The impact can be most apparent on the artist side, but what happens on the production and business side behind the stage, in the ecosystem can be transformative. The relationships that are developed and ideas shared contribute to the creation of new music and also the growth of the industry overall. That’s what venues are for – bringing people together!”
More South American municipalities are starting to discover the benefits of having an arena as they see the success of venues such as Antel Arena in Montevideo, Uruguay; Arena 1 in Lima, Peru; and Coliseo Voltaire Paladines Polo in Guayaquil, Ecuador, but the cities that have reaped the most rewards are ones that bear the same name.
The Movistar Arenas in Santiago, Chile; Buenos Aires, Argentina and Bogotá, Colombia are the top three South American venues (see page 5) and have given other countries the blueprint to move forward successfully with projects that can attract many artists.
“The venues are improving in infrastructure and in production times,” Gianpiero Sampieri, marketing manager for Bizarro Live Entertainment, says of the 15,000-plus-capacity Santiago location. “And it is tremendous because in Chile there is no other arena of that capacity. The one next to it has a capacity for 5,000 people. … And that also creates demand in the market. We have people who have the economic capacity to be able to build, and if they see that there is a gigantic demand for shows, for places on the part of the promoters and artists, there are also more people with a greater intention of getting into these venue businesses.”
Arenas pique the interest of not only established artists but those on the rise. An arena can give them something to work toward, and Colombia and Argentina are emblematic of that growth and potential with artists such as J Balvin, Maria Becerra (see page 56), Bizarrap and Karol G leading the South American urbano movement.
Oak View Group teamed up with Live Nation and GL Events to develop an arena in São Paulo, a move that will not only accelerate the growth of Brazilian music but also the continued development of such structures.
“For OVG, in the case of São Paulo, it’s a belief in betting on the future development of Latin America and a focus on [the largest] cities,” says Cullen. “São Paulo is one of the top five cities in the world and doesn’t have an indoor arena. It has phenomenal venues of other sizes. For a city with over 20 million people and a growing market with passionate music fans, OVG saw that opportunity to make that investment.”
And Claudio Macedo, CEO of São Paulo’s Allianz Parque, which ranks No. 3 on Pollstar’s Top South American Stadiums list, is all for such development. Though he works at a multi-purpose stadium that is one of the top soccer and music sites in the continent, he believes stadiums aren’t enough to accommodate the demand for the growth of Latin music.
“Latin American music has undoubtedly made a significant mark on the global music industry, something that every Latin American can take pride in, myself included,” Macedo says. “There is still a shortfall in the number of venues available in Latin America to meet the growing demand for live events. There are various reasons for this, but it’s heartening to see the region making strides to enhance its venues, operations, and stadiums, aiming to become more competitive on a global scale and provide a superior experience for both artists and audiences.
“I’m truly excited about the prospects of the live entertainment industry in Brazil,” Macedo adds. “I anticipate witnessing the continued growth and transformation of the region, not only in terms of events but also in sports management. The increasing professionalism and investments pouring into the industry are set to reshape the landscape in exciting ways.”
Medellín, Colombia, too, will soon get an arena, and seeing such development is music to the ears of promoters.
“To my understanding, I’ve seen plans for the building of an arena in Guatemala already, and they’re also looking for a site in Lima, Peru,” says Henry Cárdenas, founder and CEO of Cárdenas Marketing Network. “This is all good news. We just need a big investor to come down to Latin America and see what we can do. They’re probably going to open a lot of arenas because it’s needed ASAP.”