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2017: The year in review

Missed our regular news updates this year (or recently emerged, Brendan Frasier in Blast from the Past-style, from a nuclear fallout shelter)? Team IQ are logging off for Christmas – so here, in no particular order, are some of the key stories that shaped the year in live music…

In a story that’s set to continue into the new year and beyond, the final few months of 2017 have seen #MeToo – the campaign to stamp out sexual harassment and assault in Hollywood, spurred by the allegations against producer Harvey Weinstein – cross over into the music business, with a growing number of female musicians and execs reporting similar behaviour in our industry.

IQ asked in October if live music has a “Harvey Weinstein problem”, and a number of prominent international female industry figures told us they, too, have been subject to, or witnessed, inappropriate behaviour or sexual assault while working in the live business.

Since then, organised movements campaigning against sexual misconduct in music have sprung up in Sweden (#närmusikentystnar, ‘when the music stops’), Australia (#meNOmore) and the UK (Stop 2018), while the Association for Electronic Music (AFEM) has launched a dedicated, confidential helpline for victims of sexual harassment in the electronic music business.

In the agency world, meanwhile, reps from all major multinational agencies told IQ last month they are intensifying their efforts to ensure the safety of their employees and clients – and CAA has confirmed to IQ it has cancelled its annual Friday pre-Golden Globes party in order to establish a legal defence fund for sexual harassment cases.

Annus terror-bilis
The Manchester Arena attack, the shootings at Route 91 Harvest and BPM Festival, the Reina nightclub bombing and other attacks on innocent fans of live entertainment this year will forever live in infamy – and remain a stark reminder that, despite increased security and the willingness of fans to keep coming to shows, they remain attractive targets for terrorism.

What should also be remembered, however, is the way the industry responded to the evil of these attacks: From the One Love Manchester and We are Manchester charity concerts to the candlelit vigils and fundraising for victims of the Route 91 Harvest attack, those working in live music, just as after the Bataclan attack, stepped up to plate to lend a hand to the victims and all those affected.

Those working in live music stepped up to plate to help to victims of terror

Festival FUBARs…
Who could forget Fyre Festival? Cancelled flights, limp cheese sandwiches and disaster relief tents? A festival that went so badly wrong it’s become a byword for badly organised events – the Giant Cheeseboard, for example, was only this week called “London’s answer to Fyre Festival” – and its promoter arrested by the FBI?

Yes, Fyre Festival this year became the gold standard for festival disasters, but it wasn’t alone. The inaugural Hope & Glory festival – described in the NME as “Fyre Festival with none of the lols” – was called off on its second day amid reports of bottlenecking, queues for facilities and sets being cancelled or running over, while Y Not Festival was cancelled after the site turned into a mudbath as a result of heavy rain.

Canada’s Pemberton Music Festival 2017, meanwhile, was axed with less than two months to go, after its parent companies were placed into administration with debts of almost $10m.

… and tours de force
Despite these headline-grabbing disasters, however, the 2017 summer festival season was a largely successful one compared to last year, when severe weather, including lightning strikes, forced the cancellation of open-air events in Europe and North America.

The organisers of festivals as diverse as Trsnmt (UK), Haven (Denmark), Download (UK), Istanbul Jazz Festival (Turkey), Hurricane/Southside (Germany), Baloise Session and OpenAir St Gallen (both Switzerland), Lollapalooza Paris (France) and BST Hyde Park (UK) all reported healthy attendances in 2017 – and IQ’s recent European Festival Report 2017 revealed that despite increased competition, a majority of the continent’s festival operators feel optimistic about the future of their events.

A majority of Europe’s festival operators feel optimistic about the future of their events

By IQ’s reckoning, Live Nation/Ticketmaster made three more acquisitions than in 2016, when eight companies came under the Live Nation Entertainment umbrella, further bolstering its credentials as the world’s largest live entertainment company.

They were: Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion (venue) in December; United Concerts (promoter) in October; Strobe Labs (data platform) in August; Openair Frauenfeld (festival) in July; Isle of Wight Festival in March; Bluestone Entertainment (promoter) and Ticketpro (ticket agency) in February; and Metropolis Music (promoter) Cuffe & Taylor (promoter), Bottlerock Napa Valley (festival) and CT Touring (promoter) in January.

Rain-grey town, known for its sound…
An IQ/Songkick study revealed in September that the British capital is by far Europe’s live music capital by number of events – and the third-biggest concert market in the world, behind only New York and Los Angeles.

There were 19,940 total live music events in London in 2016 – more than San Francisco (13,672), Paris (11,248) and Chicago (11,224) – and the city is on course to hold its no1 spot in 2017.

Looking ahead to 2018, a raft of new festivals looks set to further cement London’s status as the live music capital of Europe, with AEG and Live Nation/Festival Republic both planning new events and local councils opening up more green space to meet the growing demand for live entertainment.

Live Nation/Ticketmaster made three more acquisitions than in 2016

Google to touts: Don’t be evil
Google last month dealt what could be a fatal blow to the likes of Viagogo and Seatwave, announcing that from January 2018 secondary ticketing sites would be subject to stringent restrictions on their use of Google AdWords.

Under the new measures – which come on the back of UK politicians accusing sites such as Viagogo, StubHub, Seatwave and Get Me In! of violating Google’s Adwords policies on misrepresentation, and increased scrutiny of ticket touting in Britain, Italy, Japan, Spain, Ireland and more – Google will force ticket resellers to list the face value of tickets, make clear they are resale sites and stop implying they are an ‘official’ seller or lose access to AdWords.

Google’s crackdown comes as national authorities, especially in the UK, continue to make life harder for touts, with National Trading Standards last week making four arrests as part of an investigation into the “practices of businesses that buy and sell tickets in bulk”.

The end of the road for ‘industrial-scale’ secondary ticketing, or merely another hurdle to be overcome? Time will tell…

Agency turntable
The booking agency world continued to consolidate in 2017 with a number of acquisitions, mergers and partnerships. Notable was Paradigm which 
entered into a strategic partnership with the UK’s X-Ray Touring in April and acquired Chicago- and California-based agency Monterey International in August.

Among other moves, July saw Helsinki-based Fullsteam Agency announce that it had acquired Rähinä Live, while September saw K2 Agency swoop for Factory Music. Meanwhile, the ongoing merry-go-round of agents swapping desks between companies continued – and if rumours are to be believed, 2018 will see this trend continue apace.

The booking agency world continued to consolidate in 2017 with a number of acquisitions, mergers and partnerships

In memoriam
In addition to the beloved performers we lost in 2017 (RIP Tom Petty, Chester Bennington, Chris Cornell, Chuck Berry, Greg Allman and many others), several equally revered live music business figures also passed away this year.

Peter Rieger, the founder of Cologne-based promoter Peter Rieger Konzertagentur (PRK), died on 29 January at the age of 63 – “far too young,” said friend and colleague John Giddings. “This has been a sad and dismal week,” added manager and former agent Ed Bicknell. “I’ve lost three dear pals: John Wetton of King Crimson, Asia and UK, Deke Leonard of Man, and now Peter. […] He was a total professional, a pleasure to deal with and funny – definitely funny. Which is what every promoter needs: a sense of humour.”

Another live industry veteran who passed far too young was tour manager, artist liaison and ILMC’s longtime producer, Alia Dann Swift, who died aged 57 in May. “She was the best,” said CAA’s Emma Banks. “A beautiful human being, a great friend, a smart and an inspiring woman.”

“Alia was renowned for her warmth, her tireless support of those around her, a perennial sense of humour and a no-nonsense approach,” added ILMC head Greg Parmley. “She was a widely loved and respected figure in the touring world who will be deeply and entirely missed.”

The live music world was once again rocked in August by the shock death of well-liked Primary Talent co-founder Dave Chumbley after a short illness.

“Dedicated to his artists to a fault, Dave was responsible for many hugely successful careers in the global music industry,” said manager Terry Blamey, with whom Chumbley worked for years representing Kylie Minogue. “He was a talented, wonderful man taken from us way to soon. Lynn and I loved him like a brother, dear friend, and we will miss him dreadfully.”

Other tragic losses to the business in 2017 included ShowSec founder Mick Upton, tour travel agent Mary Cleary, Israeli promoter Shmuel Zemach, Reading Festival founder Harold Pendleton, Washington, DC, promoter Jack Boyle and Live Nation Belgium booker Marianne Dekimpe.


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Berchtold, Willard, Rowles re-up with Live Nation

Live Nation’s Joe Berchtold, Michael Rowles and Kathy Willard have followed CEO Michael Rapino in extending their contracts with the company until 2022.

Berchtold, formerly chief operating officer, becomes president – a role also held by president/CEO Rapino, who recently extended his tenure with Live Nation until 31 December 2022 – while Rowles and Willard remain in their current roles as executive vice-president, general counsel and secretary, and executive vice-president and chief financial officer, respectively.

As president, Berchtold will receive a base salary of $1.3m annually, along with a 200% performance bonus and a grant of 100,000 restricted shares and 300,000 performance-based shares.

Rowles, meanwhile, receives a base salary of $800,000, a 100% performance bonus and 25,000 restricted shares, while Willard receives a $950,000 base salary, a 100% performance bonus, 50,000 restricted shares and a grant of 50,000 options to purchase Live Nation common stock.

Live Nation’s share price currently stands at $43.37, after having broken the $40 mark for the first time in August

That compares to $9m per annum ($3m base salary + $6m in bonuses) and a grant of 289,505 shares in restricted Live Nation stock for Rapino.

Live Nation’s share price currently stands at $43.37, after having broken the $40 mark for the first time in August.

Live Nation Entertainment, now the world’s largest live entertainment company, continues to grow, both financially – it is on course for a seventh consecutive year of record growth, turning over $3.6bn in Q3 2017 – and in scope through buy-outs, joint ventures and partnerships: The company has made 17 acquisitions or equivalent in the past two years alone, the most recent being the Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion in Gilford, New England.


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Experienced venue manager Granger joins AEG

Eric Granger, a entertainment/sports industry veteran with more than 20 years’ experience in venue management, has joined AEG Facilities.

Granger, formerly of the FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tennessee, and Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio, becomes GM of KFC Yum! Center, AEG’s arena in Louisville, Kentucky. He replaces outgoing GM Dennis Petrullo, who retired earlier this month.

KFC Yum! Center (formerly Downtown Arena) has a capacity of 22,090, and is home to the Lousville Cardinals basketball teams. Since its opening in October 2010, it has hosted several major concerts, including Luke Bryan, Janet Jackson, Eagles, Pink, Mary J. Blige, Maroon 5 and Kid Rock.

“Eric brings a great depth of knowledge and industry experience”

“We are thrilled to have Eric join the AEG Facilities and KFC Yum! Center team in Louisville,” says AEG Facilities president Bob Newman. “Eric brings a great depth of knowledge and industry experience and will play a key role in the continued success and stellar reputation of one of the region’s premier and busiest destinations for sports and entertainment.”

As GM, Granger will be responsible for the management of all of the arena’s business operations, the creation of new events and the development of new revenue opportunities. He steps into his new role on 1 January 2018.

“I am looking forward to working with the great group of professionals in Louisville with AEG Facilities and the Louisville Arena Authority,” he comments. “KFC Yum! Center is an incredible facility.”


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‘It isn’t fair most ticketers don’t refund’: Skiddle on industry ethics

Ben Sebborn, co-founder and director of UK primary ticket agency Skiddle, has called for higher ethical standards in the global ticketing sector, saying many of the major players still have some way to go in offering customer service on par with other industries – and that no-questions-asked ticket refunds should be the norm.

Speaking to IQ, Sebborn, who co-founded Preston-based Skiddle with Richard Dyer in 2001, hails the success of his company’s Cool:Off refund initiative, wherein ticket buyers are given 72 hours to change their minds, which contributed to a huge 67% increase in sales in 2016. “It isn’t fair that most ticketing outlets don’t offer refunds,” he says. “If the customer demand is there, then the industry needs to adapt to reflect this demand.”

Sebborn (pictured) says Cool:Off, along with its sister Re:Sell ticket exchange scheme, is good for both fans and promoters – the latter because tickets returned for a refund can be sold on, leading to fewer empty seats. “We introduced our Re:Sell and Cool:Off schemes for this very reason, and since their introduction they have been overwhelmingly successful, not just for customers, who want and need flexibility with their tickets, but for promoters, too,” continues Sebborn. “The refund option reduces the amount of no-shows at the event, increasing the amount of money taken at the bar and on merchandise.”

In terms of that 72-hour period, Sebborn says a three-day cool-off is “key for customers who have decided they can’t attend an event. However, if a customer gets in touch outside this period, we will offer name changes and the Re:Sell option on the tickets free of charge.”

With Skiddle on course for another year on strong growth, Sebborn attributes the company’s success to its focus on the consumer. “We like to think of ourselves as music lovers first and businesspeople second,” he explains, “so with every business decision we think, ‘How does this help our customers?’. If it doesn’t, we don’t implement it. It’s as simple as that.”

“We like to think of ourselves as music lovers first and businesspeople second”

That customer-centricity, Sebborn claims, is something that’s sorely lacking in the live entertainment ecosystem at large, where fans are forced to battle dishonest touts, clunky websites and “silly restrictions” on shows for a chance to see the artists they love.

Specifically, he highlights four areas where the industry can improve:


Secondary ticketing
“For-profit secondary ticketing is always going to be an area of focus for Skiddle until the problem is resolved and fans get a fairer deal. We are constantly rolling out new measures to prevent touting, from printing customer names on tickets and changing names for free to withholding barcodes until just before an event and scanning our ticketing queue to remove known touts.

“We are doing all we can, but, realistically, the bigger players need to get involved, too.”

“Ticketing technology is extremely behind the times and needs to drastically improve. Our industry has always been slow to adapt – even in 2017, for example, a lot of outlets don’t have adequate mobile-friendly sites. We have always invested heavily in tech because we want the ticket-buying process to be as easy and efficient as possible. We recently introduced a swipe-to-review feature with Tinder-style technology that’s been really well received.”

“In terms of the events themselves, one thing that really bugs us is that for bigger events, the organisers often insist on silly restrictions for artists – such as not being allowed to play within 100 miles of that event in the months leading up to it. This increases demand but also reduces options for music fans, who can’t see their favourite artists or bands in their hometowns as a result of these restrictions.”

“Other areas of focus for us include working in partnership with charities and enterprises to make live music safer for women, and more accessible for people who are less able. It’s an important, but often overlooked, area.”


Despite these music biz bugbears, Sebborn says the industry is beginning to change, with “new and emerging competition from start-ups and other growing ticketing outlets” forcing the old guard to become more customer-friendly.

“For too long the big boys dominated the ticketing industry on every level,” he comments, “meaning that there wasn’t only a lack of competition, but also a lack of choice. It was a proper elephant in the room – everyone knew the ticketing industry was too focused on making money rather than the customer experience, but all the major players got away with it for far too long. This isn’t as much the case anymore.”

“One of the reasons Skiddle has been successful is because we purposefully tried to shake things up. We wanted to offer something different – ticketing with a conscience – and our products and behaviour reflect this. Don’t get us wrong: there is still a long way to go, and these issues can’t be stamped out overnight. Unacceptable and unethical behaviour still exists in our industry. But by speaking out and offering greater choice, we can play our part in ensuring ticketing changes for the better.”


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AFEM launches sexual harassment support service

The Association for Electronic Music (AFEM) has announced the launch of a confidential support service for victims of sexual harassment in the electronic music business.

The service, delivered by employee wellbeing specialist Health Assured, will provide advice and guidance to those affected by workplace harassment, and forms part of AFEM’s mission to “drive positive change in the industry” throughout 2018 and beyond. It will be followed by a code of conduct launching early next year.

“Since its formation, AFEM has championed equality and inclusion as vital foundations of our industry, and we unequivocally condemn sexual abuse and harassment of any kind,” says AFEM CEO Mark Lawrence. “To step forward as a victim of abuse or harassment takes immense courage and we will support all who need help and guidance.

“We are working with our 150-plus members on how to unite as an industry against all forms of abuse, and AFEM directs anyone who has been affected by abuse or harassment to an industry specific and confidential service operated by Health Assured, on +44 (0)800 030 5182, where trained experts will listen and support.

“This is a pivotal moment for society, industry and inclusivity and we must ensure that every opportunity is taken to support all victims. It is time to build a safe and supportive environment for everyone whatever their gender, ethnicity, sexual preference and age.”

“Setting up this confidential helpline is an important first step during this watershed post-Weinstein moment for society”

AFEM is a global trade body for the electronic music genre. Its members include Live Nation, CAA, Three Six Zero, Red Light Management and Defected Records.

DJ, producer and label owner Anja Schneider comments: “While I’ve been lucky enough not to have had problems with sexual harassment throughout my career, I know the experiences of other females working in the music industry has been very different. This behaviour has become normalised over the years and needs to be called out at every opportunity. No form of sexual harassment or abuse is ever OK.

“We need to be vocal and stand as one, both women and men, to send the message this is not acceptable – and also, very importantly, ensure the guilty perpetrators are held responsible for their actions. The time to stand up is now.”

“There is no level of sexual harassment, assault or misconduct that we shouldn’t be outraged about,” says says DJ, promoter and label boss Nicole Moudaber. “Women were made to feel throughout history that this behaviour is normal – well, not anymore.”

Carl Loben, the editor of DJ Mag, adds: “There should be no place for sexual abuse or harassment in the music industry. For too long, predatory men in positions of power have got away with it. Well, no longer.

“Setting up this confidential helpline for victims of sexual abuse in electronic music is an important first step during this watershed post-Weinstein moment for society, when the #MeToo campaign has given many women the confidence to speak out. We all need to work together to end this abuse forever.”


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ESNS 2018: Groningen prepares for annual industry invasion

Barely had the festive parties started when agents began talking up some of the acts they will be showcasing at Eurosonic Noorderslag (ESNS) in the Netherlands in mid-January.

Combining daytime panels and keynotes with a packed programme of evening gigs, ESNS will welcome Denmark as its focus nation for 2018, with a number of Danish acts rubbing shoulders with musicians from around Europe, vying for success in the European Talent Exchange Programme (ETEP), which continues to go from strength to strength.

Last year’s big ETEP winners were British punk band Shame, who achieved a record number of 17 ETEP festival bookings throughout 2017, while the scheme as a whole secured a total of 424 festival slots, involving 164 acts from 24 countries.

Elsewhere, ESNS will kick off with the EBBA Awards, which recognise ten European acts who have been successful in developing their careers outside their own country. The current crop include Skott (SE), Off Bloom (DK), Blanche (BE), Alice Merton (DE), Alma (FI), Kristian Kostov (BG), Sigrid (NO), The Blaze (FR), Youngr (UK) and Salvador Sobral (PT).

More than 400 acts from 30 countries will showcase their talent during ESNS, in the hope of catching the attention of some of the hundreds of festival bookers who will be in Groningen for the 17– 20 January event, which also hosts the European Festival Awards on the opening night.

Among the European Festival Awards 2017 nominees are Sziget and Lowlands (both best major festival and line-up of the year), Pohoda (best medium-sized festival and promoter of the year), Sea Star and Labyrinth Open Croatia (best new festival), festival drug testing service the Loop (health and safety innovation award), Rolling Stone Weekender, MENT Ljubljana (both best indoor festival) and late Primary agent Dave Chumbley (award for excellence and passion).

A full shortlist is available from the European Festival Awards website.


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Live Nation acquires Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion

Live Nation has acquired an interest in New England summer concert venue Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion.

The 9,000-seat amphitheatre, formerly known as Meadowbrook, is located on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee in Gilford, New Hampshire. Artists who visited the venue in 2017 include Bryan Adams, Chris Stapleton, Luke Bryan, John Mellencamp, Third Eye Blind and Florida Georgia Line.

As part of the acquisition, the multi-award-winning venue – named best music venue by the Academy of Country Music and venue of the year by the Country Music Association – will integrate its primary ticketing with Ticketmaster. Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion’s executive team, led by president Robert ‘RJ’ Harding and his wife, Bridget, will continue to oversee the venue’s day-to-day operations.

“We look forward to helping grow an already outstanding business”

“We are thrilled to add the Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion to our venue portfolio, and to welcome RJ, Bridget and their team to the Live Nation family,” says Don Law, president of Live Nation New England.

“The Pavilion is a very unique and special venue, and we look forward to helping grow an already outstanding business to bring the people of New England a world-class entertainment line-up for many years to come.”

Adds Harding: “Our focus over the past 22 years has been cultivating a unique concert experience here at Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion, and we are extremely excited to advance that objective with a global partner like Live Nation.”


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Price rise slows as 11% of European fests slash ticket costs

The increase in ticket prices for European music festivals slowed this year, reveals IQ’s new European Festival Report 2017, with the average cost of a ticket increasing only marginally after a huge jump from 2015 to 2016.

Reflecting increased costs for talent and production, ticket prices spiralled 8% in 2016, with OpenAir St Gallen’s Christof Huber pointing to a combination of rising security/infrastructure costs and, especially, artist fees. In 2017, that growth has largely stabilised, increasing just 1% to €148.36 (from €146.22).

Keeping that average price pegged are a number of factors: while 49% of European Festival Report 2017 survey respondents raised their ticket prices in 2017, 36% maintained pricing at last year’s levels. With artist fees, production costs and security, in particular, costing more year on year, increasing ticket prices hardly come as a surprise.

However, a significant 11% of festivals around Europe decided to decrease their ticket prices in 2017. Some reasoned that fewer festival days warranted a price break, while others simply could not secure big-name headline acts and were therefore able to keep prices down.

Festival ticket price increase, European Festival Report 2017

One area of ticketing that has undergone significant surgery in the past 12 months is the way in which our surveyed festivals sell their tickets. In our 2016 report, we noted that, overall, 51% of tickets were sold via the festivals’ own websites, while third-party online sales accounted for 27% of total sales.

This year, the dominance of online sales outlets was even more pronounced, with online sales via festivals’ own websites increasing their share to an impressive 60%, while third-party website sales also gained a bigger slice of the pie with 30% of overall festival ticket sales.

Underlining the growing importance of online sales, two years ago our 2015 report recorded sales by festivals’ own websites of just 42%, while third-party online sales were 39%. This could suggest that festival management have determinedly taken control of their own ticketing inventory to try to improve profit margins, rather than pay percentages to third-party sellers. However, the fact that those third-party online platforms increased their share of sales in 2017 might point to a marketing fight-back by the ticketing specialists, albeit at the expense of call-centre workers.

Get the full lowdown on Europe’s festival summer, including insights into capacity and attendance, staffing, VIP options, overseas attendance, new tech and RFID, safety, concerts and more, in the European Festival Report 2017.

European Festival Report 2017


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European Festival Report 2017

A total of 120 festivals took part in the 2017 European Festival Report and most of those events reported successful business for the year, despite the numerous challenges that promoters face when it comes to booking talent, securing licences, enhancing site security and planning for inclement weather. Costs across the board may be rising, but the public appetite for music festivals still appears to be on the increase too, so the takeaways from this year’s report are thankfully more positive than negative.

For the purposes of our quantitative reporting (ie the number crunching), we called upon the services of Live Data Agency’s Claire Buckle and Chris Carey, whose analytic skills and economist backgrounds have helped make sense of the data that so many of you trusted us with. Thanks go to both Live Data Agency (LDA) and everyone who took the time to fill in our survey forms.

One caveat is that, for reasons of accuracy, we only collated the numbers from festivals whose daily capacity was above the 10,000 mark. The data submitted by smaller events has nevertheless been invaluable, notably through the commentaries that organisers shared regarding results and strategic planning, but in our efforts to deliver you meaningful information that you can use to help your business, when it comes to data such as pricing, VIP uptake, attendance and staffing, we have discounted the quantitative information for those events with daily audiences of less than 10,000 people.

Europe’s festival organisers had a relatively problem-free summer compared to previous years, when the weather, in particular, played havoc across the continent

As with all European festival seasons, 2017 of course claimed a number of casualties. In the UK alone, the final day at Y Not Festival in Derbyshire fell victim to a muddy fate, Flashback in Nottingham was canned because of poor ticket sales and Hope & Glory in Liverpool folded mid-event amid rows concerning overcrowding and artist cancellations. But generally, Europe’s festival organisers had a relatively problem-free summer compared to previous years when the weather, in particular, played havoc across the continent.

And that sunny overview is underlined by the confidence being shown by promoters such as the people behind Exit, which is expanding to five countries in 2018 with the addition of Festival84 in Bosnia and Herzegovina next year, joining Sea Dance in Montenegro, Sea Star in Croatia, Revolution in Romania and the classic Exit Festival in Serbia. Indeed, cashing in on the confidence infused in fans through their enjoyable 2017 festival experiences, the number of early announcements regarding line-ups and headliners for summer 2018 has been relentless in recent weeks, while early-bird ticket offers for 2018 have been running since the day after some 2017 events ended – and were even on sale at a number of festivals during the 2017 season.


Read the European Festival Report 2017 in the digital edition of IQ 75:

Swimsuit-wearing Royal Blood thief was ‘human deposit box’

The man arrested after stealing 53 mobile phones at a Royal Blood show in Birmingham last month did so by turning himself into a ‘human deposit box’, police have said, concealing the victims’ phones inside a full-length swimming costume worn under his clothes.

Twenty two-year-old Alin Marin, a Romanian of no fixed address, “secreted” the phones “inside a compression suit he was wearing beneath his clothing”, according to West Midlands police. He was arrested shortly after leaving the concert at NEC Group’s Arena Birmingham on 18 November.

“This was organised pickpocketing,” says police sergeant Julia Slater. “Marin went equipped to steal phones and took advantage of revellers enjoying themselves in the standing area.

“Due to the jostling in the moshpit people simply didn’t realise they’d been targeted”

“Many of the phones were taken from front jeans pockets, which people believe is a safer place to carry valuables, but due to the jostling in the moshpit they simply didn’t realise they’d been targeted.

“He slipped phones inside the swimsuit and effectively turned himself into a deposit box for the phones, allowing him to carry tens of phones concealed around his body.”

Marin (pictured) was jailed for three years yesterday after pleading guilty to theft.


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