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‘We’re hoping for sunshine!’: FKP sanguine on festival summer

Even with the market in the doldrums, CEO Stephan Thanscheidt is confident of a strong year ahead for FKP Scorpio, boosted by clever marketing and new festival formats

By Jon Chapple on 08 Jun 2018

German rapper Casper headlined Hurricane 2017 alongside Green Day and Linkin Park

German rapper Casper headlined Hurricane 2017 alongside Green Day and Linkin Park


image © Robin Schmiedebach for Hurricane Festival

Powerhouse European promoter FKP Scorpio is gearing up for a strong summer festival season, despite the difficulties posed by the “saturated” German market , according to CEO Stephan Thanscheidt.

Speaking to IQ, Thanscheidt says the majority of Hamburg-based FKP’s festivals are performing “very well”, amid decreased demand after years of bad weather.

“We see that the previous years of bad weather are taking their toll, but we are still doing well and some of our festivals continue to perform very well,” he explains. “The decreased momentum in demand concerns the whole industry, not only us.”

Upcoming events in Scorpio’s German festival portfolio include A Summer’s Tale (1–4 August), Chiemsee Summer (16–19 August), Highfield (17–19 August), Metal Hammer Paradise (2–3 November), Rolling Stone Weekender (9–10 November), the new Rolling Stone Park (16–17 November) and Arctic Monkeys- and Arcade Fire-headlined flagships Hurricane and Southside (22–24 June), as well as festivals in Switzerland, Sweden, the Netherlands and Finland.

FKP founder Folkert Koopmans says he expects around 60,000 people to attend Hurricane, which is held at the Eichenring racetrack in Scheesel, northern Germany – down from 78,000 last year. Koopmans attributes the slump to the “extreme weather conditions” that have plagued German festivals in recent years – such as at Hurricane and Southside in 2016, and to a lesser extent Hurricane 2017 – as well as soaring artist fees and security costs.

Other major events are also seeing a downturn: Rock am Ring and Rock in Park 2018 saw declines in audience numbers of 20,000 and 5,000, respectively.

“We see that the previous years of bad weather are taking their toll, but we are still doing well”

“We share the view of other promoters that inclement weather, combined with higher costs and a rising awareness of safety, is responsible for the current situation,” clarifies Thanscheidt. “On the other hand, we’ve proven that we are well prepared for all the issues mentioned above.”

Of the 2018 FKP events that have already taken place, Thanscheidt highlights Plage Noire, a gothic ‘dark culture’ festival that sold out in just three weeks, as being particularly successful.

“Plage Noire has been a tremendous success, leaving the team and the visitors with smiles on their faces,” he comments. “We seem to have shared the vision of a festival combining music, comfort and culture with our guests: Plage Noire was sold out in just a few weeks, when people didn’t even know what bands would be playing. We rewarded this trust with acts like ASP, Subway to Sally and VNV Nation and infused everything with a melancholic story about a mysterious wandering soul looking for her lost love.

“The story was not just words: With the help of actors, installations and even a full blown horse carriage we made sure that her presence could be felt by all of our guests.”

Sales for next year’s festival are “going extremely well”, he adds.

On the ‘comfort’ aspect – Plage Noire, like sister festivals Rolling Stone Weekender and Metal Hammer Paradise, at the Weissenhäuser Strand holiday park in Wangels, on Germany’s Baltic coast (no tents in sight) – Thanscheidt says the company continues to see a “high demand for service and comfort”.

“The days of boring advertising are over”

“That’s due to a shift in our target group,” he explains. “More and more adults, even in their 50s and 60s, are discovering music festivals as a great retreat from their daily lives. After Rolling Stone Weekender was sold out eight months prior, we decided to launch Rolling Stone Park, a sister festival in Europa-Park, Rust, offering even more comfort for our guests. It’s scheduled for 16 and 17 November this year, and we’re very excited about that…”

Thanscheidt says challenging market conditions have also driven FKP Scorpio to adopt alternative, “creative and modern”, ways of publicising its events.

“Examples of this,” he says, “are a series of funny promotional videos we released for Hurricane and Southside, or collaborations with influencers on YouTube and other media. Our credo is simple: Our content must be worth our customer’s time, even if it is promotional. The days of boring advertising are long over.”

FKP has three festivals this weekend – Greenfield in Switzerland, Best Kept Secret in the Netherlands and Sideways in Helsinki – then it’s onto Hurricane and Southside, the former of which Thanscheidt reveals is still the highlight of his festival season.

“It’s my favourite because the musical variety, the 20-plus-year-long tradition and the atmosphere are just awesome,” he concludes.

“To be honest, though, after a few years of bad weather, I’m hoping for some sunshine this year!”

 


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