Rising Star: Meet BBC Music/Radio 1's Abbie McCarthy

How did you break into the industry? I first got into the industry through student radio. I went to Warwick University to study theatre and performance, but there I became obsessed with radio and ended up presenting three shows a ...

The Aftershow: Judas Priest's Rob Halford

The biggest misconception people have about heavy metal is...“The one thing that instantly springs to mind is the misconception about the real value of heavy metal – its place in the overall thing we call music. From our point of view, it’s incredibly valuable, relevant and important – it says and does a lot of great things. The heavy metal community, as we call ourselves, are very hardcore in preserving and protecting it. You’re a metal fan for life. It’s a relief, as far as shelf-life. In 2019, by definition, Judas Priest will have been around for 50 years. That’s remarkable, for any artist or musician – it’s a tremendous accomplishment.” The thing I learned from standing trial with Judas Priest in 1990 is… “That extraneous forces can have a tremendous effect on you. We were accused of something that was absurd [Judas Priest were involved in a civil lawsuit that alleged subliminal messages in their cover of Spooky Tooth’s Better By You, Better Than Me compelled two fans to kill themselves – the case was ultimately dismissed]. The whole thing was preposterous, however the root of it was these two beautiful young lads who lost their lives through a combination of booze and drugs. They loved Judas Priest. They loved heavy metal. And it just turned into a horrible tragedy and then we got hijacked as being responsible. How awful is that? Can you imagine waking up and going, ‘I might have killed somebody’? Because that’s what it was was, I was being accused of killing somebody. It was terrible. We conducted ourselves in the way that we did, and I think possibly anybody else that had the idea of, ‘We’ll go after this band next,’ probably went, ‘Maybe this isn’t such a good idea’. The music was misconstrued by people who didn’t know anything about the fans, the community. They just took it at face value.”   My attitude towards streaming is... “I went through all that kickback angst thing with Napster and all that stuff. You just have to let that go, otherwise it can derail so many things. If we lead a young metal head to everything about Judas Priest from Firepower being on a playlist, then job done...”The nugget of advice that I would offer to new bands is… “If ever I have an opportunity to speak to bands that are slowly making headway, I’ll say, ‘Have you got a lawyer? Have you got a good lawyer?’ There’s no escaping that side of what you’re about in a band. You have to be prepared to give some headspace to the business side of what you do, otherwise you suffer consequences. And when you’re young that’s the furthest thing from your mind – some guy in a suit saying, ‘It’s the third clause on paragraph A referencing line B.’ You have to find a way to give that some time, because it will come back to haunt you later on. Did I learn that the hard way? Oh yes.”

'It's just a great location': Inside The O2's festival line-up

Musical inspiration can take many forms. When The O2 teamed up with SJM Concerts and the Country Music Association to launch the Country To Country (C2C) Festival five years ago, it unlocked the door for a different kind of music event, capable of utilising the whole of the North Greenwich complex. The concept had been successfully trialled with the Sundance London music and film festival, which ran at the venue from 2011-14, but it was with C2C that it hit its stride. C2C takes advantage of the multiple venues within the site, such as Indigo At The O2, alongside its own pop-up stages, providing the impetus for annual events that would help provide content in traditionally quieter months for the indoor circuit. The O2’s director of festivals and events Milly Olykan tells Music Week the venue lends itself perfectly to the festival format. “We have multiple venues of different sizes - all under one roof and in close proximity - and great transport links,” she says. “We also have a cinema and can put some of the programming - like food fairs and live music - outside if it’s in the summer, so it’s just a great location to do lots of different things.” A show by Slumdog Millionaire composer AR Rahman, promoted in-house in August 2015, was developed into an Asian festival, offering Bollywood dance lessons, film screenings and a food fair. “If we are going to make sure that we have every weekend booked, one of the things that we can do is book some shows ourselves, without treading on the toes of other promoters,” says Olykan. “Those seasonal months have been harder for us to book in the past, so it helps us fill our diary.” BluesFest, which launched across a range of small London venues in 2011, switched to The O2 in 2016 and is expanding to four nights in 2018. Other tenants include the Stone Free Festival, Hola! London and Boy Better Know Takeover, which debuted last August. “We’re looking for more of these opportunities - and we’re up for ideas,” adds Olykan. “[AEG owner] Philip Anschutz - the A in AEG - is an entrepreneur. He likes that we’re doing this, and he’s interested in us doing more of it.” Here, Olykan delves deeper into the site’s growing festival roster…WHAT: Boy Better Know TakeoverWHEN: AugustGENRE: Grime/UK rap/UrbanFIRST HELD: 2017PROMOTER: Robomagic/Festival RepublicThe newest addition to The O2’s burgeoning festival portfolio, the inaugural Boy Better Know Takeover was co-presented by Festival Republic and Rob Hallett’s Robomagic (who have since become Live Nation stablemates). Billed as featuring the best of grime and urban music under one roof, acts to appear included J Hus, Ghetts, Chip, MHD, Mabel, Donae’O and surprise guests Drake and Giggs. Away from the main stage, Nike created a skate park and five-a-side football pitch in the Quadrant area outside the O2, while Activision provided ticket holders the chance to be one of the first to play the new Call of Duty: WWII video game.Milly Olykan: “They did some cool programming outdoors and it was a really hot day, so it all worked out. They also took over a venue at The O2 and turned it into a vegan restaurant. Anyone coming down that day had so much to do and see, it was awesome; a really positive experience for those fans. It couldn’t have gone better - and it wasn’t a one-off.”WHAT: Stone Free FestivalWHEN: JuneGENRE: Classic rockFIRST HELD: 2016PROMOTER: The O2/Kilimanjaro LiveLaunched in partnership with Kilimanjaro Live in 2016, the classic rock weekender is reverting to two days this year after shrinking down to a single day in 2017. Scorpions and Yes will headline. Other attractions have included multiple stages, performer Q&As, cinema screenings, a vinyl fair and classic album playbacks. MO: “Whenever we do stuff like this, we’re building something and are figuring it out as we go. It was heartwarming and kind of cool to see how many people showed up in their Stone Free T-shirts last year, so we definitely had that community feeling with those fans. I really do believe that classic rock fans want to be in a nice environment, listening to music and hanging out, and that’s what we provided.”WHAT: BluesFestWHEN: OctoberGENRE: BluesFIRST HELD: 2011 (2015 at The O2)PROMOTER: Live NationLaunched in 2011 with concerts at small London venues including the 100 Club, Union Chapel and The Jazz Cafe, BluesFest progressed to the Royal Albert Hall before making the move to The O2 two years ago. Promoted by Live Nation’s Leo Green, the event has featured the likes of BB King, Van Morrison, Elvis Costello, Robert Plant, Ronnie Wood, Gregory Porter, Tom Jones, Chic, Mavis Staples, Daryl Hall and John Oates, George Benson, Erykah Badu, Jamie Cullum and Bobby Womack. It expanded to Dublin’s 3Arena last year and is growing from three to four nights at The O2 in 2018. MO: “Leo Green established that festival and it grew out of multiple clubs. It then went into the Royal Albert Hall for a couple of years. That’s a lovely venue and nice size but moving to The O2 made it a bigger brand and meant they could sell more tickets.”WHAT: Country To CountryWHEN: MarchGENRE: CountryFIRST HELD: 2013PROMOTER: The O2/SJM Concerts/CMADevised by Jay Marciano, currently chairman and CEO of AEG, Country To Country has proved a runaway success, attracting stars such as Carrie Underwood, Dixie Chicks, Brad Paisley, Luke Bryan. Florida Georgia Line. Lady Antebellum, Miranda Lambert and Chris Stapleton. Its latest edition, held last weekend, starred the likes of Kacey Musgraves, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill. It also has sister events in Dublin and Glasgow.MO: ”It’s my largest event and my biggest focus as far as what I do at The O2, and it’s now in its sixth year. How it came about is old news now, but no one was promoting contemporary country music acts in a significant way and talking them into coming out of Nashville and developing something here. We did that and by making C2C a site-wide event and putting on multiple stages, as well as using the cinema. It has also been a great platform to showcase real up and coming Nashville and local talent. I think The Shires and Ward Thomas, who played those other stages in the early years, will always credit C2C for helping them find an audience.” WHAT: Hola! LondonWHEN: JulyGENRE: LatinFIRST HELD: 2017PROMOTER: The O2/Como NoThe O2 teamed up with London-based Latin concert promoter Como No to welcome some of the leading names in Latin music last summer. The bill featured Grammy award winners Juan Luis Guerra and Juanes, alongside David Bisbal and Sebastián Yatra. A Spanish and Latin American food fair took up residence outside the arena, with fans also able to enjoy free music stages and activities.  MO: “It was aimed at the Latin American community in London. It’s not trying to be anything other than that. It was about putting on a great show for that community with those big acts that are huge in their countries and might not necessarily come to London very often, or ever. We had a food festival and we ran out of food! But it was a really upbeat experience. When we do these things, in the first year we are always a little bit like, ‘God, is this going to work?’ Seeing the reaction of the fans reminded me of the first year of C2C.”

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