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See EU later: The live music industry’s road to Brexit

Tonight (31 January) at 11pm GMT, the United Kingdom leaves the European Union, bringing to an end 1,317 days of legal wrangling, political intrigue and frantic negotiations as Britain goes it alone after 47 years.

But for live music professionals, the Brexit question is far from done and dusted, with a number of pressing issues left unresolved (and many no closer to being answered than they were back in 2016).

Chief among them is the question of costly visas for performers and carnets for equipment, which could be reintroduced should the UK and EU not agree on a deal on freedom of movement before the end of this year – and which many fear could make touring economically unviable for smaller acts. So, while freedom of movement continues for now, some artists are believed to be reluctant to confirm touring commitments post-2020 until they have more clarity.

In many ways, then, little has changed over the past four years for live music professionals, who are as unsure about the future as they were in March 2016, as the timeline below illustrates…

 


March 2016

Three months out from the June 2016 referendum – back in those in halcyon days when even the word ‘Brexit’ needed explaining – IQ quizzed key suppliers and production professionals about the likely impact of a vote to leave the EU on their businesses.

Tour manager Tony Gittins said, presciently, that the effects of Brexit would largely depend on the behaviour of the EU27. “I don’t think it would affect the entertainment industry overly, depending on how far the European countries go towards making it difficult,” he said. For example, he added, “if they decided to start putting back border controls and implementing visas, that would considerably slow us down”.

What would Brexit mean for the live music biz?


June 2016

The second of IQ’s pre-referendum previews came on the eve of the vote, and saw agents, promoters and industry associations sharing their views. With the exception of veteran promoter Harvey Goldsmith, all believed a vote to leave would cause great harm to the British, and international, live music business.

“Our business is built on international relationships,” said ATC Live MD Alex Bruford. “We have spent years fostering close relationships with our European partners, and work closely with them to ensure our artists can smoothly and successfully traverse the continent. Current EU tax treaties, border crossing arrangements, carnet agreements, air-traffic agreements and labour laws all make touring in Europe much more viable for our artists. […] Brexit would be a very negative [thing] for the live music business.”

Brexit: The view from backstage

Much of the live business was in a state of shock in the days following the UK’s vote to leave on 23 June – though, officially at least, the major companies and associations were surprisingly upbeat, with Live Nation’s John Reid saying the referendum result “won’t affect overall business” for the concert giant.

UK Music, meanwhile, emphasised industry unity, with chairman Andy Heath saying: “We should not be scared by change; we should see it as a positive opportunity. We are an export-led business and consumers around the world want our music, artists and products, and this will not change after yesterday’s decision.”

Brexit: What next for the UK live music industry?

The most immediate effect of the leave vote was a collapse in the value of the pound sterling against US dollars, leaving promoters with less money to pay American acts.

Metropolis Music founder Bob Angus said the impact on consumers would likely be higher ticket prices, especially for festivals. “When you’re at finite-capacity venues there’s only so much sterling there, so the only way you can counter it – to maintain those dollar fees – is to put ticket prices up,” he explained.

Elsewhere, Owen Smith of Gibraltar Music Festival said sterling’s value relative to the euro was of greater concern for his event.“Even a few cents can make a big difference to us, so we’re keeping an eye on things in case we need to look at the budget again,” he said.

Festival promoters count the cost of Brexit [updated]


November 2016

By the close of 2016, Sterling’s freefall had a tangible impact in Scotland, where Edinburgh International Festival (EIF) and Celtic Connections were among the events reporting difficulty booking for next year.

“Our currency is up to 20% down in its value […] and that is just a reality, and it means our spending power has gone right down,” said EIF festival director Fergus Linehan, while Donald Shaw of Celtic Connections said he’d been forced to drop American acts from the 2017 line-up owing to the pound’s sinking value.

Scottish festivals hit by sterling slump


March 2017

The 29 March 2017 saw then-prime minister Theresa May trigger article 50 of the Treaty on European Union, setting in motion the two-year process of Britain’s exit from the EU.

Jo Dipple, then CEO of UK Music, underlined the importance of putting the music and creative industries first in the negotiations to come – warning that “getting it wrong probably means a return to punk rock.”

Article 50: Botching Brexit means “return to punk”


March 2018

As British and EU negotiators in Brussels hashed out the provisions that would become May’s first withdrawal agreement, panellists at ILMC 30 cast their minds ahead to 2025 to predict what the live music business would look like post-Brexit.

Artist manager Adam Parsons summed up the mood in the room when he said withdrawal will add “more costs, more grief and more time” to touring. “We’re going to get through it, but it’s going to make everything more difficult. In 2025, we’ll have forgotten about it, but it’s going to be a pain in the fucking arse – it really is.”

ILMC 30: Brexit 2025: Looking back


May 2018

The Road Haulage Association (RHA), which represents the UK’s hauliers, told IQ there will be miles of queues at major ports within 24 hours if the UK and EU fail to agree on access for British trucks after Brexit.

“Using Calais as an example, if you’re going to have to check every truck and it takes two minutes to check, you’re going have 17-mile tailbacks within 24 hours,” said Richard Burnett, the RHA’s chief executive.

“The industry is nervous,” he added. “We still have no idea what’s going to happen. “There are so many question marks over the negotiations […] and the clock is ticking.”

Revealed: How a no-deal Brexit could cripple European touring


September 2018

As no-deal fears mount, the Musicians’ Union (MU), which represents more than 30,000 UK artists, joined UK Music’s calls for a post-Brexit touring ‘passport’ for musicians working in the European Union after Brexit.

“We love working in the EU and we love artists coming over here,” said MU general secretary Horace Trubridge. “If musicians can’t travel easily both ways, our reputation as a country that embraces all arts and culture will be severely damaged. Our members’ ability to earn a living will also be severely affected.”

MU throws support behind post-Brexit touring passport


October 2018

With 31 March 2019 fast approaching, IQ caught up with experts in six key industry sectors – aviation, road freight, insurance, visas/work permits, taxation/social security and currency exchange – to discuss what the UK’s solo project could mean for the global business.

Brexit: The final countdown

In the event, domestic political wrangling meant the 31 March deadline came and went, with article 50 being extended first to 31 October 2019, and then again to 31 January 2020.


August 2019

Newly updated UK government guidance reveals British artists travelling to Europe will have to pre-pay import duty and value-added tax (VAT) on all merchandise they bring on tour in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

The so-called ‘merch tax’ would also affect European artists entering the UK, who would similarly have to pay taxes in advance for any merchandise they planned to sell while touring.

Mark Davyd of Music Venue Trust said the guidance shows “a fundamental lack of understanding of the economics of grassroots touring to imagine that this process is remotely deliverable by new and emerging artists, either practically or economically.

“One T-shirt sale is equivalent to 5,000 streams on Spotify, and band merchandise is the most direct way of supporting new and emerging artists. We strongly urge the government to think again.”

Proposed Brexit merch tax will ‘harm grassroots sector’


October 2019

The industry was similarly alarmed by further guidance issued in October, which spells out government advice for touring in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Several UK live industry figures described the DCMS guidance – which advises touring artists and their teams to check immigration regulations for each EU country, ensure they have appropriate insurance and obtain a ‘green card’, GB sticker and, in some cases, an international driving permit, for vehicles and drivers – as woefully inadequate.

“It’s not very clear, is it?” said Paradigm agent Rob Challice. “It hardly conveys that the government is in a state of readiness for no deal.”

UK Music CEO Michael Dugher, meanwhile, warned that the “worryingly inadequate” information was preventing the music industry preparing for what lay ahead.

Live industry reacts to no-deal Brexit touring advice


January 2020

The UK government will endeavour to support continued freedom of movement for touring musicians after the country leaves the European Union on 31 January, said culture minister Nigel Adams.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Adams stressed the importance of touring – “the lifeblood of the industry” – and of freedom of movement for “musicians, equipment and merchandise”.

However, despite the positive news – and the fact Boris Johnson’s recent election victory means the UK will leave the EU with a deal after all – freedom of movement is scheduled to end after the Brexit transition period comes to a close on 31 December 2020.

UK culture minister: free movement “essential” for artists

At 11pm GMT on 31 January 2020 – 1,317 days after the 2016 leave vote – the United Kingdom finally becomes the first country to leave the European Union.

 


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Festival Fever: what’s in store for summer 2020

Continuing the series of 2020 line-up announcements, IQ has a look at what organisers of Parklife, OpenAir St Gallen, Rock in Rio Lisbon, Colours of Ostrava, Download Japan, Wireless Festival and Roskilde have up their sleeves for 2020.

(See the previous edition of Festival Fever here.)

 


Parklife

When: 13 to 15 June
Where: Heaton Park, Manchester, UK
How many: 80,000

The line-up for Manchester’s Parklife festival was announced earlier this week, with a mixture of major hip-hop, electronic and pop acts topping the bill.

Tyler the creator, Carl Cox, Jorja Smith, Hot Chip, Giggs, Bicep, Four Tet and Roisin Murphy are among artists performing on the Saturday, with Khalid, Skepta, Lewis Capaldi, Anderson Paak, Robyn, Peggy Gou, Eric Prydz and Nina Kraviz leading the charge on Sunday.

Co-founded by Sacha Lord and Sam Kandel, who also started the Manchester-based Warehouse Project club nights, Parklife is majority controlled by LN-Gaiety, following a 2016 deal.

Tickets for Parklife 2020 are available here, priced at £125 for a weekend ticket and £95 for a day pass.

A mixture of major hip-hop, electronic and pop acts top the Parklife 2020 bill

OpenAir St Gallen

When: 25 to 28 June
Where: River Sitter valley, Saint Gallen, Switzerland
How many: 30,000

Switzerland’s OpenAir St Gallen is entering its 44th year in 2020 and its first as part of the newly formed powerhouse Gadget abc Entertainment Group AG, in which CTS Eventim acquired a majority stake last week.

This year’s festival will see performances from Twenty One Pilots, the Lumineers, Alan Walker and Of Monsters and Men, as well as German acts AnnenMayKantereit, Kontra K and Deichkind.

OpenAir St Gallen received the green operations award at the 2019 European Festival Awards, with Wepromote – the joint venture between OpenAir St Gallen, Gadget Entertainment, Incognito Productions, wildpony, SummerDays Festival, Seaside Festival and Wepromote Live – taking home promoter of the year.

Tickets for OpenAir St Gallen 2020 are available here, priced at CHF 239 (£188) for a four-day ticket and CHF 77 (£61) for a single day.

Switzerland’s OpenAir St Gallen is entering its 44th year in 2020

Wireless Festival

When: 3 to 5 July
Where: Finsbury Park, London, UK
How many: 50,000

Festival Republic’s Wireless Festival is returning to London’s Finsbury Park this summer for three days of urban music, headlined by ASAP Rocky, Skepta and Meek Mill.

Within a day of announcing the line-up, all weekend tickets and single Friday and Saturday tickets had sold out.

Other artists performing at the event include Quality Control Takeover, DaBaby, Roddy Ricch, AJ Tracey, Aitch, Burna Boy and Young Thug.

The line-up announcement for Wireless’ flagship UK event came days after the billing for its German edition was revealed. ASAP Rocky will also head up the 40,000-capacity Frankfurt festival, alongside Kendrick Lamar.

Sunday tickets for Wireless London are available here for £72.50, with joint Friday and Sunday passes also still available for £137.50.

Tickets for Wireless Germany can be found here, with a weekend ticket costing €149 (£125) and a day pass priced at €79 (£67).

Within a day of announcing the line-up, all weekend tickets and single Friday and Saturday tickets had sold out

Colours of Ostrava

When: 15 to 18 July
Where: Dolní Vítkovice, Ostrava, Czech Republic
How many: 45,000

Czech Republic’s Colours of Ostrava festival is this year featuring acts including the Killers, Twenty One Pilots, Martin Garrix, the Lumineers, Sigrid, LP and Youssou N’Dour.

The festival, which takes place in the industrial area of a former mining site in the Czech city, hosts acts over two dozen outdoor and indoor stages, as well as providing a programme of cinema, theatre, literature and art.

The Colours of Ostrava team also organises the free Festival v ulicích (Street Festival) in the centre of Ostrava, and the Czech Music Crossroads, a music showcase conference

Four-day tickets for Colours of Ostrava 2020 are available here for €125.

Colours of Ostrava is this year featuring the Killers, Twenty One Pilots and Martin Garrix

Rock in Rio Lisbon

When: 20 to 28 June
Where: Bela Vista Park, Lisbon, Portugal
How many: 80,000

The Lisbon edition of Brazilian mega festival Rock in Rio added two more acts to its 2020 line-up this week, with singers Ivete Sangalo and Anitta joining artists including Foo Fighters, the Black Eyed Peas, Camila Cabello, the National, Liam Gallagher and Post Malone.

Promoted by Rock City, in which Live Nation recently upped its shareholding to a majority stake, the festival’s flagship Rio de Janeiro event hosted the likes of Drake, Red Hit Chili Peppers, Bon Jovi, Iron Maiden, Pink and Muse across two four-day festival in September and October 2019.

Last year, Rock in Rio founder Roberto Medina hinted at the possibility of launching a Chilean edition of the festival, in what would be the first expansion of the festival brand within the Latin American region.

Tickets for Rock in Rio Lisboa are available here. Day tickets cost €69 (£58) and weekend passes are priced at €112 (£94).

The Lisbon edition of Brazilian mega festival Rock in Rio added two more acts to its 2020 line-up this week

Download Japan

When: 29 March
Where: Makuhari Messe Event Hall, Chiba, Japan
How many: 9,000

The Japanese edition of Live Nation’s Download festival franchise is returning for its second outing this March, with a headline performance from My Chemical Romance.

Other artists playing at the festival include Evanescence, the Offspring, Jimmy East World, Ministry and In Flames.

The flagship UK edition of Download Festival is celebrating its 18th year in 2020, with performances from Kiss, Iron Maiden and System of a Down.

Download is also returning to Australia this year, with festivals in Melbourne and Sydney on 20 and 21 March respectively. My Chemical Romance will also head up Download down under, alongside Ministry, Jimmy Eat World and Lacuna Coil, as well as domestic acts Dead Letter Circus, Hellions and Orpheus Omega.

Spanish and French editions of the festival will not be returning in 2020.

Tickets for Download Japan are available here for ¥16,500 (£115). Camping tickets for Download UK can be found here for £250 and tickets for the Australian Download events are available here for AU$194.93 (£99).

The Japanese edition of Live Nation’s Download festival franchise is returning for its second outing this March

Roskilde

When: 27 June to 4 July
Where: Roskilde, Denmark
How many: 85,000

Roskilde Festival’s 50th anniversary edition is shaping up to be a big, with 32 more acts added to the line-up this week.

Faith No More, FKA Twigs, Anderson Paak and Kacey Musgraves are among artists joining previously announced acts Taylor Swift, Tyler the Creator, Thom Yorke Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes, Deftones and more.

“What is unique about this generation of artists is how fast they make their mark – both artistically and when it comes to drawing attention,” comments Anders Wahrén, head of programming at the Danish non-profit festival.

“Artists like FKA Twigs, Anderson Paak and Kacey Musgraves are important to music, but are also important voices for the young people too.”

Tickets for the full eight-day festival experience plus camping are available here for DDK2250 (£257).

Roskilde Festival’s 50th anniversary edition is shaping up to be a big, with 32 more acts added to the line-up this week

Summer Nights at the Bandstand

When: 30 July to 15 August
Where: Kelvingrove bandstand, Glasgow, Scotland
How many: 2,500

Regular Music’s annual concert series is returning to Glasgow’s Kelvingrove bandstand this summer for 13 nights of live music.

This year’s line-up includes performances from Rufus Wainwright, Yusuf/Cat Stevens, KT Tunstall, Van Morrison and Rick Astely, as well as a two-night run by Primal Scream.

All twelve shows sold out last year, which featured acts including Bloc Party, the National, Burt Bacharach, Father John Misty and Patti Smith. Tickets for this year’s Summer Nights went on sale last week, with the Van Morrison, Yusuf/Cat Stevens and Rick Astley shows already selling out.

“Kelvingrove Bandstand has such a fantastic atmosphere and the feedback we have had from both artists and audiences is that they have a great time just being there,” comments Regular Music director Mark Mackie. “They really are unique and special nights under the stars.”

Tickets for Summer Nights at the Bandstand 2020 are available here.

 


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New festival from Gala producers launches in UK

Kingdom, a three-day festival celebrating music, architecture, design and food, is making its debut in the UK this summer.

The festival, which is taking place from 24 to 27 July in the grounds of the Grade I-listed Belvoir Castle, is the newest project by the team behind independent electronic music festival Gala.

South London record label Rhythm Section and Turner Prize-winning architecture firm Assemble are collaborating on the design, sound and execution of one of the event’s four main music stages.

Similar creative partnerships will be announced in due course.

“Kingdom offers us a chance to push boundaries, to really think about the way in which people come together to experience music”

“Kingdom offers us a chance to push boundaries, to really think about the way in which people come together to experience music, and what we can do to heighten that experience,” comments Assemble co-founder Jo Halligan.

“I’ve known the Assemble crew for a while and we’ve often talked about building a nightclub or working on a festival together,” adds Rhythm Section founder Bradley Zero, “so it’s very exciting to be collaborating with them on Kingdom.”

Bradley Zero is among acts playing at this year’s Gala festival, alongside Gerd Janson, Horse Meat Disco and Jayda G. After selling out in record time last year, the festival has expanded to two days, taking place in Peckham Rye Park on 23 and 24 May. Tickets are available here, priced at £40 for a day ticket and £80 for a two-day pass.

Fans can register for the pre-sale of the inaugural Kingdom festival here.

 


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AEG promotes Cody Lauzier to SVP of global touring

AEG Presents has announced that Fredrick Lauzier – better known as Cody – has been promoted the senior vice president of its global touring and talent division.

Lauzier, who previously served as vice president and general manager of AEG’s global touring arm, will take on an expanded role in all touring operations, including ticketing, production and overall global strategy.

In his new role, Lauzier will work closely with Gary Gersh, who launched AEG Presents global touring and talent as president last year, and the rest of the team, including the division’s recently appointed executive vice president Debra Rathwell.

“Cody has an incredible level of passion and commitment to his job that’s inspiring to everyone around him,” comments Gersh. “He’s a critical member of our team, and he has an unreal instinct in terms of artist development and trends. I’m so proud of him and his accomplishments, and I’m thrilled to announce his new position.”

“AEG Presents has been my home for the past 13 years, and I’ve been honoured to play a part in our growth and continued success”

“AEG Presents has been my home for the past 13 years, and I’ve been honoured to play a part in our growth and continued success,” comments Lauzier. “I can’t wait to take on this new challenge and dive in headfirst, and I’m grateful to Gary for his friendship, leadership and support.”

Since joining AEG Presents in 2007, Lauzier has helped to promote festivals and tours for Goldenvoice, Concerts West and AEG global touring and worked with artists including Katy Perry, Tyler, The Creator, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Cage The Elephant, Panic! at the Disco and more.

Currently Lauzier is overseeing Sturgill Simpson’s Good Look’n tour as well as German band Rammstein’s upcoming North American stadium dates.

AEG Presents promotes festivals including Coachella, this year headlined by Rage Against the Machine, Travis Scott and Frank Ocean, and British Summer Time Hyde Park, which features headline acts including Kendrick Lamar, Taylor Swift, Little Mix and Pearl Jam.

 


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Kei Ikuta appointed senior VP, Live Nation Japan

Live Nation has appointed veteran promoter Kei Ikuta to senior vice president of its Tokyo-based Japanese division.

With over 17 years in the industry, Ikuta has worked on the tours of acts including the Rolling Stones, Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, David Bowie, the Eagles, Destiny’s Child, Beyoncé, Maroon 5, John Mayer and Norah Jones, as well as local acts X Japan and Yoshiki.

Ikuta, who most recently served as vice president of major Japanese promoter Udo Artists, will focus on touring both international and domestic acts in Japan. He will report to Live Nation Japan president John Boyle.

The Japanese live music market has reached new heights in recent years, generating consecutive record-high revenues in 2017 and 2018. According to IQ’s Japanese market report, the music market in the country is currently the second biggest in the world, behind the US and ahead of Germany.

“We have made immense progress in Japan over the last couple of years bringing an increasing number of artists to Japan, from clubs shows to 50,000 capacity shows at the Tokyo Dome,” says Boyle.

“Japan’s live entertainment market continues to thrive, and Live Nation has fast become a serious player in its growth and success”

“By welcoming Ikuta, an esteemed industry veteran into the team, we are furthering our commitment to the Japanese touring market while enabling us to really move our business forward to meet the ever-growing demand for international concerts.”

Ikuta comments: “Japan’s live entertainment market continues to thrive, and Live Nation has fast become a serious player in its growth and success.

“I’m extremely proud to be joining the talented team here at Live Nation and will work with them to bring more world-class acts to the region and connect the biggest and best acts both locally and globally to even more fans in Japan.”

Recent shows brought to Japan by Live Nation include U2, Mumford and Sons, Bon Iver, Carly Rae Jepsen, Dave Chappelle, Cheap Trick and Dua Lipa. Last year, the company expanded its Download festival brand to Japan, which returns this year, headlined by My Chemical Romance.

Upcoming shows in 2020 include Billie Eilish, Green Day, Yungblud, Halsey and Tori Kelly.

Read IQ’s Japanese market report below:

Land of the rise in fun: Why booming Japan is such a tough market to crack


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Live Nation-Ticketmaster consent decree extended

The US district court for the District of Columbia (Washington DC) has issued a judgment extending the ‘consent decree’ governing the 2010 merger of Live Nation and Ticketmaster for a further five and a half years.

Live Nation reached a settlement extending the decree with the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) in December, following a DOJ investigation into alleged anti-competitive business practices.

The DOJ alleges Live Nation has violated provisions of the decree – which, among other things, requires Ticketmaster to license its ticketing software to competitors – on multiple occasions over the past decade. The claims are strenuously denied by Live Nation, which says the North American ticketing market is more competitive now than ever.

As a result of the court judgment, Live Nation will pay the DOJ’s costs, as well as fees for monitoring and enforcement of the decree through 2025.

“We strongly disagree with the DOJ’s allegations in the filing and the conclusions they seek to draw”

Makan Delrahim, assistant attorney-general in the DOJ’s antitrust (competition) division, says: “The amended decree reimburses the American people millions of dollars and makes it easier for the antitrust division and state enforcers to identify and prosecute future transgressions.”

“Live Nation settled this matter to make clear that it has no interest in threatening or retaliating against venues that consider or choose other ticketing companies,” said a Live Nation spokesperson in a statement issued on 9 January.

“We strongly disagree with the DOJ’s allegations in the filing and the conclusions they seek to draw from six isolated episodes among some 5,000 ticketing deals negotiated during the life of the consent decree. [In a court filing earlier this month, DOJ lawyers submitted evidence they allege shows instances in which six venues were told Live Nation would stop booking acts there if they used a ticketing company other than Ticketmaster.]

“Nevertheless, in keeping with our decision to settle, our focus is now on bringing this matter to its conclusion and continuing to deliver the best live event experiences to fans everywhere.”

Photo: Phyzome/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

 


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Margravine Management appoints new head of talent

Margravine Management, a joint venture with IMG, has appointed Lauren Dickinson to the newly created position of head of talent.

The management company, which was founded by online celebrities Joe Sugg and Caspar Lee, represents over twenty artists, including digital stars LadBaby, Strictly Come Dancing star Diane Buswell and fashion duo Sophia and Cinzia.

Dickinson will head up the talent division at the management company, bringing a roster of clients from across sport, digital and theatre.

In 2017, Dickinson set up BOSH Talent group, focusing on management across the broadcasting industry. She previously worked at United Agents and Cole Kitchen (now InterTalent) in the actor divisions.

Margravine Management’s LadBaby, who are the first group to hold the UK’s Christmas number one spot for two consecutive years with sausage rolls-themed cover songs, were signed to WME last year.

 


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Slovak pubs to host anti-fascist festival

Nearly 100 bars across Slovakia will next month welcome more than 140 acts for Slovenská krčma (‘Slovak Pubs’), an ‘anti-fascist’ festival organised in protest against growing support for far-right politics.

Beginning on Monday 4 and running until Sunday 16 February, Slovenská krčma will feature domestic stars such as Billy Barman, Para, Rozpor, Vec & Škrupo + Tono, Bez ladu a skladu, Modré Hory and Komajota, as well as emerging acts from a variety of genres.

The venues, meanwhile, include ‘proper’ pubs as well as cafés and clubs, in cities and towns including Bratislava, Hurbanovo, Námestovo, Trebišov and Hostovice, near the north-eastern border.

The latest opinion polling for shows the Direction – Social Democracy (Smer–SD) party with a narrow lead (-6%) over the ultranationalist, anti-gypsy People’s Party Our Slovakia (LSNS) – with many fearing that concerns over corruption could lead to a shock victory for the far right at Slovakia’s next parliamentary elections on 29 February 2020.

“Pub frequenters in Slovakia are not racist and do not identify with fascist views”

Meanwhile, Smer–SD’s leader, ousted ex-prime minister Robert Fico, is being investigated by police for supporting Milan Mazurek, an LSNS member of parliament fined and expelled for making racist statements, stating that Mazurek’s views reflect those of the average pub-going Slovak. Mazurek had said that “gypsy anti-socials have never done anything for the nation and never will” and compared gypsy (Roma) children to “animals in the zoo”.

In a statement, the event’s organisers, who are also the brains behind the country’s biggest music festival, Pohoda, say: “We believe that most of the pub frequenters in Slovakia are not racist and do not identify with fascist views. It was people who go to pubs that Robert Fico referred to when he said after Mazurek’s conviction: ‘If the Supreme Court’s verdict is to be a measure of what is a criminal offence regarding statements on Roma, police might as well enter any pub in Slovakia and lock up all the customers, including dogs lying on the ground.’

“We do not agree with the division of citizens into a café society and a pub society. We frequent both and we meet great people in pubs as well as in cafés. To show that Slovakia is not a racist country, we are organising the Slovak Pub festival.”

For more information about the festival, visit the Slovenská krčma website.

 


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Concerts cancelled over coronavirus concerns

A number of live shows in China, Hong Kong and Singapore have been called off or postponed in recent weeks over fears related to the spread of the coronavirus.

Over 7,700 cases of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) have been confirmed in China, with the death toll now standing at 170. The virus, which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan, is believed to have spread to 22 countries, including Thailand, Japan, Malaysia, Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, France and the United States.

“There have been a couple of cancellations already, and I’m sure there will be more to come,” Archie Hamilton of Shanghai-based promoter Split Works tells IQ, explaining that mass gatherings were cancelled over the Chinese New Year and schools and businesses closed in an attempt to contain the virus.

“I imagine this will continue into March,” says Hamilton, who notes that Split Works is “monitoring the situation closely” due to upcoming tour dates by Stereolab and Mika in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Hangzhou.

Zhang Ran, director of international business at Modern Sky, tells IQ that the promoter cancelled a number of shows in February “to avoid both artists and audiences getting affected by this virus”, adding that all fans received full refunds.

“We have updated artists that are coming for tours in March with the virus situation,” continues Zhang. “We will see how it goes for the next few weeks and see if we still can do these shows.

“From the artists’ side, most totally understand the situation – some of them agree to postpone the tour and for those who find it difficult to postpone, they are willing to refund the show fee.”

“From the artists’ side, most totally understand the situation”

Shows by US rock band X Ambassadors in the Chinese cities of Shanghai and Chengdu, as well as concerts by Japanese rock group Suchmos, are among those to have fallen foul to the virus.

Acts playing outside of China have also called off shows. Canto-pop star Andy Lau recently pulled 12 concerts at the 12,500-capacity Hong Kong Coliseum, with organisers citing health and safety concerns. Lau is currently scheduled to perform in the city of Wuhan in April. It is unclear if the show will go ahead as planned.

Upcoming shows by K-pop acts Taeyon and NCT Dream have also been postponed due to “coronavirus proliferation concerns”. Promoter One Production, which was last year acquired by Live Nation, states that it “will continue to act on advice from the authorities on the coronavirus and take precautionary measures in line with prevention efforts.”

Live Nation have also cancelled a show in Singapore, by singer Miriam Yeung, “due to the current freight and travel conditions in China”.

Although the virus was discovered at an early stage and could be “fully under control very soon”, Modern Sky’s Zhang predicts it may take “at least six months to get the whole industry back on track,” adding that some artists that have shows scheduled for as far ahead as April are looking to postpone the whole Asian leg of their tour.

“This is a fight between humans and a virus,” says Zhang, “and I don’t think we have any other option.”

Photo: Huandy618/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0) (cropped)

 


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Kylie, Little Mix to play all-female T4F festival

LittleBrazil’s Time For Fun (T4F), the largest live entertainment company in South America, is launching GRLS!, a new two-day festival celebrating the role of women in music.

Kylie Minogue and Little Mix are heading up the event’s all-female line-up, which also features US rapper Tierra Whack and Brazilian acts Linn da Quebrada, Gaby Amarantos and Mulamba.

Curated by Brazilian music platform Popload, GRLS! is taking place on 7 and 8 March – International Women’s Day – at the Latin American Memorial in São Paulo.

Talks, lectures and workshops focusing on the role of women in culture will also form part of the event’s programming.

“Our main goal was to design a festival made by women and non-binaries, that would also lead to an all-gender debate about the role and representation of women in our culture”

“Our main goal was to design a festival made by women and non-binaries, that would also lead to an all-gender debate about the role and representation of women in our culture,” explains Paola Wescher, T4F artistic director and Popload partner.

“Women always have to try harder, impose themselves more and achieve more to be respected. We have many strong women in all sectors of the music industry, both on stage and behind the scenes, making everything happen. We want to amplify these voices and be a milestone in this regard.”

More information can be found here.

 


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