The CEO of Royal Albert Hall Sees Little Threat From Spotify

    Royal Albert Hall boss Craig Hassall may be stepping down, but the thrill of live performances there isn’t going anywhere.
    By: BLOOMBERG
    | Updated on: Oct 06 2022, 22:48 IST
    Craig Hassall
    Royal Albert Hall boss Craig Hassall may be stepping down at the end of this year.  (www.royalalberthall.com)
    Craig Hassall
    Royal Albert Hall boss Craig Hassall may be stepping down at the end of this year.  (www.royalalberthall.com)

    Royal Albert Hall boss Craig Hassall may be stepping down at the end of this year, but the thrill of live performances at the venue — nicknamed “the nation's village hall” despite its grand decor — isn't going anywhere.

    “Everyone was saying streaming is the future” during lockdown, Hassall told Francine Lacqua on Bloomberg's From the Ground Up, a video series meeting those who have risen to the top and exploring their journey. “That's not the future, the future is live performance. There's that frisson when you go and sit in a concert hall. There's nothing to replace that.”

    Hassall knows that feeling all too well. It's what converted him from farm boy to theater enthusiast when two of his school teachers organized extracurricular trips to see operas and symphony orchestras.

    The Royal Albert Hall avoided bankruptcy during Covid thanks to its strategy of streaming the MTV Music Awards or no-audience performances from artists like Dua Lipa. For Hassall, that was a temporary solution to keep art accessible even when the venue was shut to the public.

    Now, it's inflation that's threatening accessibility as Britain is facing a cost of living crisis. Still, the good thing about London, according to Hassall, is that as long as there's performances, there's always going to be tickets and there's always going to be a discount.

    “I get really annoyed when people say there's high art and low art. There's just good art and bad art,” Hassall said. “Good art can be really cheap or really expensive, but it goes back to the point about access. It's contingent on people like me to make that accessible.”

    After six years at the helm of the Royal Albert Hall, Hassall is ready to take on a new role to run Playhouse Square, a theatre district in Cleveland, Ohio. On his bucket list before that? Dolly Parton with a guitar on a bar stool at the Royal Albert Hall. There are still “a few irons in the fire” at the venue for him, Hassall said.

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    First Published Date: 06 Oct, 22:48 IST
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