The Hamburg-based conference expects some 4,700 industry professionals to attend alongside 40,000 festivalgoers
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The last day of the sold-out 2019 edition of IFF included a discussion on ‘niche’ festivals and showcases from Charlotte, Squid, Franc Moody and Life
By Anna Grace on 26 Sep 2019
Following a packed opening two days of panel discussions, networking events, speed meetings, parties and showcases in Camden, north London, the final day of the International Festival Forum 2019 is finally upon us.
Kicking off proceedings was the ‘Niche Work (if you can get it)’ panel, moderated by award-winning IQ news editor Jon Chapple and featuring Pohoda festival boss Michal Kaščák, Mojo Concerts promoter Maarten van Vugt, CAA electronic music agent Maria May, Montreux Jazz Festival’s head of programming Michaela Maiterth and Seaside Touring’s Thomas Kreidner.
The panel of experts in non-rock events, with representatives from the jazz, electronic music, heavy metal and hip-hop scenes, explored the merits of genre-specific festivals.
Topics discussed included the rise of urban music and the electronic music explosion, jazz’s longevity and the success of some large heavy metal events, such as Wacken Open Air. Pohoda boss Kaščák mentioned the importance of opening up the space up for everyone, stressing that “quality is always key, whatever the niche”.
Fan demographics also came into play, with panellists discussing the difficulties of handling younger, more inexperienced fans and the various security issues this can throw up. Hip-hop shows and certain, more mainstream, electronic acts draw a younger crowd. “Cancellations still cause a lot of headaches for us in the urban music business, which leads to a lot of disappointment among fans,” said van Vugt. “The more mature our crowd gets, the more they’ll understand this.”
The oft-talked about penchant for comfort among festivalgoers was also discussed, as the panel attempted to pinpoint the type of fan that is most likely to be unfazed by getting down and dirty. Ravers definitely don’t mind the mud, confirmed May, as long as the sound system is “amazing”. Metal fans are also not fussy, added Kreidner, whereas Pohoda fans value clean toilets above all else, joked the Pohoda boss.
“Cancellations still cause a lot of headaches for us in the urban music business, which leads to a lot of disappointment among fans”
Elsewhere on the final day of IFF 2019, delegates reflected on the previous day’s showcases, which included an entertaining performance by multi-platinum-selling band the Darkness. The band’s frontman Justin Hawkins joked that the show brought him back to the good old days, performing in intimate London grassroots venue the Garage.
Other showcases came from Sports Team (Matt Bates, Primary Talent), Pengshui (Beckie Sugden, X-ray Touring) and Whispering Sons (Franky Roels, Toutpartout), as well as a country-focused showcase by Dutch artists including Jarreau Vandal (Michael Harvey-Bray, Paradigm).
Plenty more music has also been scheduled for the final day of IFF, with showcase sessions presented by ITB, Paradigm and ATC Live, with acts including Charlotte (Alex Hardee, Paradigm), London-based six-piece Black Country, New Road (Clemence Renaut, ATC Live) and guitar trailblazers Life (Steve Zapp, ITB).
Wrapping up IFF’s fifth anniversary event in style, a joint birthday party will be held with European metal festival behemoth Wacken Open Air (30 this year) and Japan’s Summer Sonic’s (20 this year) later on in the evening.
The International Festival Forum takes place in Camden from 24–26 September, with festival and agency delegates from 40 markets represented.
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