This is Harry Styles’ new business venture

Harry is coming to save live music.

by Douglas Greenwood
26 October 2020, 12:02pm

Image via Tiny Desk Concerts 

The British live music industry is in tatters. Back in 2018 it was estimated it generated £1.1 billion for the British economy, bringing 29.8 million people into venues around the country. But since March these venues have been closed, and statistics show that many don’t want to be back in a live venue until next summer — so what happens to the venue staff, booking agents, roadies and artists in the meantime? Well, if you thought all hope was lost, fear not: Harry Styles has seen you’re in a crisis, and he’s on his way, making his first big investment in a new live music arena for Manchester.

Due to open in 2023, the £350 million Co-Op Live arena is expected to house up to 23,500 people — making it the UK’s largest indoor music venue. It’s a city that’s close to his heart — considering its where he auditioned for One Direction, and would travel to to see artists perform live with his friends as a teenager. In an interview with the Financial Times, he unpacked his reasons for getting involved with the project. They are as follows:

He’s been a long-time Co-op stan

Harry said that his first ever job was for his local Co-Op, and so, as a sponsor, it’s funny that the supermarket chain will be the name of his new venue too. “It feels, like, full circle for me to be doing this,” Harry told the FT, who he Zoom called from his trailer on the set of Don’t Worry, Darling. “My first job was with the Co-op, it was delivering papers for them.”

It’s his first big business venture — with familiar faces

As much as a project like this, with a price tag of around a third of a billion pounds, must be intimidating to Harry, he’s signed on with people he’s familiar with, including Ticketmaster’s former CEO Irving Azoff. Irving is the dad of Harry’s current manager, Jeffrey Azoff. “This is a big project and it would be a lot scarier if I was with people I didn’t know,” he said.

Harry’s doing it for the music

Whenever popstars segue into business, the question of the sizable paycheck always comes up. Harry wants people to know why he’s doing it. “I didn’t get into music because I wanted to be a businessman,” he says. “I got into music because I love music. That’s always going to be a first for me. But when an opportunity like this comes up, for me it feels so much about what I can bring to it as a musician, and also as a fan.”

And will be consulting on the interiors and design

Part of Harry’s involvement also includes making sure that this is a music venue that musicians will go out of their way to play in. As a result, Harry is more than an investor; he’s a consultant on what the space will look like from backstage, and how it’ll be a memorable place for artists and fans alike. “Obviously I’m not an expert architecturally, in terms of building an arena. I guess the weight of my involvement falls into the idea of what you want backstage as an artist,” Harry told the FT. “People operate in different ways after a show. Some people like a quiet space, some people like a place where you can invite all your friends.” He also spoke about trying to reverse the clinical nature of arena set-ups. “There’s a lot of cold rooms that you can play in,” he added. “You definitely remember being in the ones that sound better, the ones in which you can create some sort of feeling of being at home.”

Plus, he gave us an update on the Fine Line tour

So it turns out that Harry isn’t quite ready to kick off his February tour at the moment, owing to the fact that the world has gone to shit and coronavirus is still kicking about. He’s in no rush to put his fans in danger for the purpose of returning to the stage. “I don’t think anyone wants to be putting on a tour before it’s safe to do so,’ he said. “There will be a time we dance again, but until then, I think it’s about protecting each other and doing everything we can to be safe. And then when it’s ready and people want to, we shall play music.”

Harry Styles