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Sziget 2020 cancelled as Hungary extends events ban

Sziget, one of Europe’s largest and popular music festivals, will not take place in 2020, promoters have announced, as Hungary extends its ban on large-scale events until mid-August.

In a press conference this morning (30 April), Gergely Gulyás, Hungarian head of the prime minister’s office, announced that while some restrictions will be eased beginning the week of 4 May, events larger than 500 people are off limits until 15 August to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Both Sziget, the seven-day, 90,000-capacity Budapest event, and its sister festival, Balaton Sound on Lake Balaton, are affected by ban, with both festivals postponed until 2021, says Superstruct-backed organiser Sziget Cultural Management.

“Sziget has always been special because of the atmosphere that you, our Szitizens, create, and we are devastated that we won’t be able to see you on the Island of Freedom [in Budapest] this summer,” reads a statement announcing Sziget’s cancellation.

“Sharing an unforgettable week with you is what keeps us going throughout the year, and while our whole team has been working very hard on preparing for the festival your Sziget adventure will now have to wait until 2021.

“We are devastated that we won’t be able to see you on the Island of Freedom this summer”

“As hard as it is, we believe that this decision best serves the safety of all of you and everyone working at our festival.”

Sziget 2020, scheduled for 5–11 August, would have featured performances from Calvin Harris, Dua Lipa, Kings of Leon, the Strokes, Asap Rocky, Major Lazy, Stormzy and more.

Hungary is the latest European country to have put the brakes on large music festivals this summer, following the Netherlands, where large events are banned until 1 September; Switzerland, Ireland, GermanyBelgium and Denmark, where a ban is in place until 31 August; and Luxembourg and Finland, which have prohibited mass gatherings until 31 July. France, meanwhile, has given mid-July as the earliest date when events could go ahead, while Austria has identified the end of June.

Among the other Hungarian festivals set to cancel are Colorado Festival (Nagykovácsi), Fishing on Orfű (Orfű) and Volt Festival (Sopron) in June, and Rock Marathon (Dunaújváros), Campus Festival (Debrecen), Bánkitó Festival (Bánk), Valley of Arts (Kapolcs), FEZEN (Székesfehérvár) and EFOTT (Lake Velence) in July, reports Hungary Today.

 


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Together in Electric Streams: Inside the business of livestreaming

Here’s a great pop-quiz question: can you name the first ever artist to perform live online?

Zooropa-era U2, perhaps, with the band’s prescient satirisation of a dystopian technological future and the emptiness of consumer culture? Or the Rolling Stones, who rode 1994’s Voodoo Lounge – a ragged and glorious return to their rock and roll roots – around the world for 13 months, raking in an astonishing US$320 million?

Or maybe it was Brian Eno, a technological and conceptual pioneer who, at the time of the internet’s invention, was playing around with self-generating musical systems?

Nope. Nope. And nope. It was, in fact, an unknown rock four-piece from California called Severe Tire Damage, who broadcast a 90-minute set in June 1993 and promptly declared themselves “House Band of the Internet” (although you were close if you guessed the Stones – they were fourth).

Of course, a lot has changed in the intervening 27 years: the internet is now the primary means of consuming music for fans the world over, and never more so when you’re quarantined at home for an unspecified amount of time due to a global pandemic.

But as we all know, the rise of streaming services and platforms has been mirrored by a collapse in revenue for artists. Live shows remain one of their few reliable sources of income, yet with concerts now an impossibility for the foreseeable, a huge hole has been left in their earnings. A host of future-orientated new apps, platforms, and digital services – many of them employing virtual and augmented reality – have rushed in, aiming to fill it, but how realistic are some of their claims, and what can artists really hope to earn while replicating gigs in the digital realm?

It should be noted that many of the ideas or tech here are not new. Second Life hosted the first virtual concert back in 2007, while last year, Marshmello gave the “first-ever live performance in a video game,” DJing for 11 minutes in Fortnite.

Understandably, though, there’s a new urgency in the sector, with platforms reporting an explosion in use over the last few weeks as both fans and musicians grapple with the new reality; a captive audience, desperate for entertainment, are glued to their devices.

“Over the last month … active users, watchtime and broadcast hours have all jumped 40–50%”

“Between 22 February and 22 March, revenue from our iOS sales increased by 255%,” says Anthony Matchett, founder and CEO of MelodyVR.

“We’ve had a four-fold increase in new users signing up over the last month,” says Rudiger J. Ellis, of Switchboard Live. “Daily activity on our platform has skyrocketed,” adds Jake Branzburg, president of YouNow. “Active users, watchtime and broadcast hours have all jumped 40–50%.”

It’s a trend confirmed by everyone IQ spoke to, with many choosing to ramp up advertising, expand, or roll out new features to take advantage of this surge.

All these platforms, at their core, fall into variations of one of two concepts: video hosting and streaming platforms, or some form of virtual or augmented experience.

YouNow is the former, allowing anyone to broadcast live video 24/7. So too is Streamlabs, an ‘all-in-one livestreaming app’.

Restream allows users to broadcast live video to multiple social media networks simultaneously; Switchboard Live is a multi-streaming platform geared towards all types of live content; while Switcher Studio makes capturing video from multiple angles and editing it in real time, a cinch.

On the other side is MelodyVR, a platform that claims to put fans “inside huge live performances”. According to Matchett, “Music lovers can watch performances in immersive 360° on smartphones or in VR via headsets. And they can choose where they watch from – from deep in the crowd to on stage with the band.”

“YouNow partners earn anywhere from three to five figures per month by sharing their talents”

Sansar, a new live events destination from the makers of Second Life, goes one step further. “The future of concerts is virtual,” declares their website. “Join the revolution.”

To this end, the company has built an entire virtual universe of thousands of connected, user-created spaces to socialise and perform in. “Audiences of all kinds can come together for innovative events and stunning, photorealistic live performances,” says press and marketing manager Hari Raghaven.

Just like everyone else, artists the world over are in lockdown, too; bored, frustrated, and eager to connect. Many have taken to social media to broadcast rudimentary performances and even clips of their daily lives.

TikTok, Twitch, Instagram Live, YouTube, and Facebook are full of these, with stars such as Coldplay, Christine and the Queens and Keith Urban giving fans raw, unvarnished footage and encouraging a community vibe.

But such posts are not a long-term solution. As ever, the question of monetisation looms large, for promoters and event organisers as much as the artists themselves.

“Restream is not the end platform – we’re just the middleman between an artist and, say, YouTube,” explains Victor Bous, the company’s head of marketing. “We just help you increase your reach, grow your audience, and make your streaming experience better.”

It’s a similar story for Switcher Studio, and Switchboard Live – both are more of a tech solution than a platform explicitly designed to generate income. Streamlabs goes one further and allows donations and tips to be made direct to content creators.

The self-enclosed virtual environments of Sansar and MelodyVR allow for far greater – and, it is hoped, far more lucrative – monetisation

“We take a 0% cut from donations, and handle all main payment methods,” says George Kurdin, Streamlabs’ product manager. On top of that, content creators can sell merch via the platform, and may also monetise their stream on their own via affiliate deals, ads, and direct brand sponsorships.

“For some it has been quite lucrative – we’ve processed over $500m in donations over the last few years.”

YouNow offers an extra tier for those looking to cash in on their audience. “Musicians with a strong following can apply to the YouNow partner programme,” says Branzburg. “YouNow partners earn anywhere from three to five figures per month by sharing their talents. Community members support partners by subscribing to their broadcasts monthly and/or by sending them virtual gifts – the more gifts partners get, the more they trend, and the more they earn.”

But the self-enclosed virtual environments of Sansar and MelodyVR allow for far greater – and, it is hoped, far more lucrative – monetisation.

“Because Sansar is the only live events platform that allows partners to generate multiple revenue streams in customised virtual spaces, we are the go-to platform in the space,” says Raghaven. Access to a fully integrated ticketing system, merchandising and sponsorship offerings, and microtransactions (peer-to-peer tipping, so that fans can send money directly during a live show) are just some of the options offered. The virtual-reality element allows them to go even further, though; Raghaven says artists are only limited by their imagination.

“They can have special tiers of tickets – a more expensive VIP ticket, for instance, that grants special in-world privileges or access (the ability to fly, say, or entry into an exclusive meet-and-greet). They can sell real and virtual merchandise – branded virtual tees, hats, jackets, you name it – that can be purchased for their avatars or in real life, and within their virtual space they can include branding from external sponsors.”

Being based on an actual, real-world show, MelodyVR aims to leverage scale to help performers maximise revenue. “MelodyVR means that no event is ever sold out, and no show is off limits,” says Matchett. “Artists’ performances can reach fans around the globe, both in real time and on demand, in a way that we see as the ‘next best thing’ to physically being there.”

 


Continue reading this feature in the digital edition of IQ 89, or subscribe to the magazine here


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Ticketmaster furloughs staff in North America

Ticketmaster is the latest live entertainment giant to announce major cost-cutting measures in response to the coronavirus crisis.

The ticketing company has furloughed employees – reportedly representing a quarter of its workforce – across multiple offices in North America.

Those affected will be suspended from the Ticketmaster payroll from 1 May. They will continue to receive health benefits and, in some cases, will receive a two-week payout of earned time off. Ticketmaster has stated that the furloughs are temporary.

In a letter obtained by Variety, Ticketmaster president Jared Smith says the “team spirit and camaraderie” shown by staff in the face of Covid-19 “made the decision to furlough a portion of our workforce all the more difficult”.

“The team spirit and camaraderie made the decision to furlough a portion of our workforce all the more difficult”

The furloughs form part of parent company Live Nation’s previously announced raft of cost-saving measures. The cost-reduction programme, which looks to save the company $500 million, includes executive pay cuts, hiring freezes, reduction in the use of contractors, rent renegotiations, and reduction or elimination of other discretionary spending.

Major live entertainment companies including Eventbrite, Paradigm, and WME parent company Endeavor have cut staff to save costs during the coronavirus shutdown, although IQ understands WME has yet to be affected directly by the measures.

Agencies including CAA and UTA have also implemented cost-saving measures.

IQ has reached out to Ticketmaster for comment.

 


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Why the UK government must help save our live industry

With Boomtown, Latitude and Trnsmt the latest to join Glastonbury and many others on the cancellation list, we are facing a wipeout of the summer festival season.

It is impossible to overstate the pain coronavirus is causing to the live music sector which contributes £1.1 billion a year to our economy and sustains more than 30,000 jobs.

Many organisers face losing huge amounts of money they have paid out, raising real fears some smaller festivals may never return unless they get urgent help.

Money has already been spent on deposits for artists and contractors, marketing and promotion, employee costs and the foundations needed for a major event.

Many independent festivals have said their insurance will not cover Covid-19. They rightly feel they are among those falling through the gaps in the safety net on offer from the government.

There is also the major issue of refunds, which could mean the end of the road for some festivals without a lifeline to help with their crippling cash flow problems.

It is not just festivals that are suffering. According to the Music Venue Trust, more than 550 cherished music venues are under immediate threat of closure because of the economic impact of the lockdown.

We are facing a wipeout of the summer festival season

However, amid the gloom and the continuing uncertainty over when the government’s restrictions on social distancing will be lifted, there are some glimmers of hope. A fightback is already well under way.

As the umbrella body and voice of the music business, UK Music is pressing the government to do more to help the whole sector including the live music industry.

Everyone is behind the fantastic #saveourvenues campaign launched by the Music Venue Trust to raise funds for 556 under-threat grassroots venues all over the UK. A series of livestreamed gigs are planned to raise cash.

Artists are livestreaming gigs from their living rooms, while PRS for Music staged its one-off LCKDWN earlier this month to celebrate the special role that music plays in all of our lives and to support the PRS Emergency Relief Fund.

Music licensing company PPL has made advance payments of £23.9 million to more than 15,000 performers and recording rightsholders to help them at this immensely difficult time.

There are also several hardship funds, which were quickly set up by the music industry to help the 190,000 people who work in it.

Among those involved are UK Music members including PRS for Music, PPL, the Musicians’ Union, AIM, the BPI and the PRS Foundation – as well as charities such as Help Musicians and the Music Venue Trust.

The music industry is doing all it can to help the 190,000 people who depend on it to make a living

The music industry is doing all it can to help the 190,000 people who depend on it to make a living.

However, there is more that the government should be doing to give the live music industry the best possible chance of recovery.

A survey for ITV’s Peston showed 40% of gig-goers did not intend to return to concerts until a vaccine is available which will mean a big drop in revenues.

Music fans may be tempted to request refunds for cancelled or postponed events, yet many small festivals and promoters could go out of business if there is a huge spike in claims.

Fans will then find it even harder to reclaim money and there will be no chance of a rescheduled event.

One of the key ways that the government could help is by extending the refund period on tickets.

This would enable event companies to give guarantees to those who have bought tickets that rescheduled events will go ahead.

The music industry needs a road map from government so it can plan a route out of the destruction caused by coronavirus

Music venues get business rate relief, but this should be extended to the entire supply chain in the music industry to include service companies, sound firms, lighting suppliers and others involved in event production.

VAT breaks on the price of tickets should also be considered to provide incentives to businesses and consumers to put on and go to live music shows.

Critically, the government needs to give the industry an idea about how long the restrictions on social distancing will remain so businesses can plan ahead.

If parts of the economy can go back to work before the live music sector, it is critical the government does not turn off the tap and scrap the support packages on offer. Arrangements around furloughing, self-employed schemes and business loan support all need to stay in place.

Already, some major events planned for this summer are being pushed into 2021. The music industry needs a road map from government so it can plan a route out of the destruction caused by coronavirus.

There will be many music fans who are only now realising just how important live music was to them now that it has gone – albeit temporarily.

We want the government to work with us to support the live music industry through this existential crisis so we can get performers back on stage to once again bring joy to millions here and across the world.

 


Tom Kiehl is acting CEO of music industry umbrella body UK Music.

IQ Focus virtual panel series launches

With much of the international live music business home working in lockdown, IQ is launching a weekly series of livestreamed panels, IQ Focus.

The fully interactive sessions will be streamed live to both Facebook and YouTube, with forthcoming topics including the European festival summer, venue recovery plans, innovation and new business models, and the agency business 3.0.

The first session – Staying Safe & Sane During Covid – will consider how to best protect the mental health and wellbeing of music professionals and artists alike who are juggling disruption to working conditions, employment & financial concerns, a difficult global outlook and more.

Get an automatic reminder when the live stream starts via Facebook Live or YouTube Live. Or, search for the IQ Magazine page on each platform on the day.

Chaired by Stacey Pragnell at ATC Live, the conversation will feature Lollapalooza Berlin promoter Stefan Lehmkuhl (Goodlive), the Music Industry Therapists and Coaches founder Tamsin Embleton, tour manager Andy Franks (Music Support) and Co-Founder & CEO at mental health and wellness festival Getahead.life, Jenni Cochrane.

The first IQ Focus session will consider how to best protect the mental health and wellbeing of music professionals and artists

“With much of the business physically fragmented right now, it’s more vital than ever that we keep communicating and exchanging ideas,” says ILMC head Greg Parmley. “We hope these new Focus sessions will help bridge the gap between the current situation and this magical, inspirational sector exploding back into life.”

The full line up of forthcoming sessions is below (some include calendar links), with further details about each session being announced shortly.

Staying Safe & Sane During Covid
Thursday 7 May @ 16:00BST/17:00CET

Surviving Covid-19 is not just a case of beating the virus itself. ATC Live’s Stacey Pragnell leads a conversation between industry pros and mental health & wellbeing practitioners to give practical advice as they consider how best to stay sane and safe during these tough times.

Festival Forum: Here Comes 21
Thurs 14 May @ 16:00BST/17:00CET

The 2020 festival summer will be remembered for all the wrong reasons. With much of the season already cancelled, and the rest awaiting their fate, how are Europe’s festival elite coping? In unprecedented circumstances, what’s been learnt, and how have such monumental challenges been faced? And looking to the autumn and beyond, what does the road the recovery look like for the vital summer sector?

The Venue’s Venue: Building Back
Thurs 21 May @ 15:30BST/16:30CET

The touring world has changed considerably since ILMC’s Venue Summit in March. All of the key arena and stadia are currently shuttered or repurposed in the fight against Coronavirus. IQ’s third Focus session invites leading venue professionals to discuss strategies for weathering the storm, what the key learnings have been so far, and what emerging from life under lockdown might look like.

The Innovation Session
Thurs 28 May @ 16:00BST/17:00CET

While the catastrophic impact of Covid-19 continues to resonate throughout live music, the halt in normal business is seeing a flurry of innovation, fledgling business models, and new ideas. From an explosion in livestreaming to 3D venues, tipping and online meet & greets, what green shoots are rising from this current situation? Paradigm’s Mike Malak invites a line-up of freethinkers and experts to discuss what shape the live business 2.0 may take.

Grassroots Music Venues in Crisis
Thurs 4 June @ 16:00BST/17:00CET

One of the hardest hit areas of the business, grassroots music venues may well also be the first to emerge from the current crisis over the coming weeks and months. Across Europe, the fate of these vital stages on which talent is born and grown, is mixed, with some facing closure. How are our small venues being protected by the organisations and industry around them, and what still needs to be done? And once their doors are open again, how different will gig going be?

The Agency Business 3.0
Thurs 11 June @ 16:00BST/17:00CET

For multinational agencies juggling investors, cashflow and large numbers of employees, the Covid-19 crisis has presented significant challenges. And for the smaller boutique outfits, the hiatus in touring is no less impactful. But when the business does return, will this period have changed how agencies are structured, and how they work? What routes back do agents see working, and what new opportunities might emerge? In an industry fuelled by creative thinking, what comes next?

The Live Business Steps Up
Thurs 18 June @ 16:00BST/17:00CET

No sooner had the C-word become a ‘thing’ in early March, companies across the live music business had sprung into action, raising funds; producing face masks and incubators; shipping or freighting medical supplies to those in need. Proving time and again that a positive, entrepreneurial spirit can move mountains, there’s much to be proud of about our industry during this period. We meet some of those who stepped up, as they tell their own story.

 


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Mayor of London announces £2.3m emergency culture fund

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, today (30 April) launched a £2.3 million (€2.65m) emergency fund to support cultural and creative industries at risk due to the impact of the coronavirus.

Beneficiaries of the fund include Music Venue Trust, which receives a £450,000 donation towards its #saveourvenues campaign in aid of at-risk grassroots venues, and the LGBTQ+ Venues Forum, which receives £225,000 – as well as £1.5m for Creative Land Trust to support artist workspaces and £150,000 to the British Film Institute (BFI) in aid of independent cinemas.

Grassroots venues have been particularly hard hit by the impact of Covid-19, and the funding for Music Venue Trust (MVT) will support up to 147 independent London venues – benefitting businesses most at risk of falling into administration and unable to benefit from government schemes – according to the mayor.

“The coronavirus outbreak is having a significant impact on every aspect of life in London, and that includes our culture, creative industries and night-time economy,” says Khan. “These industries are so important to the fabric of our city during the day and night, and they will play a key role in helping us to recover from this public health crisis.

“This funding from the mayor of London means that MVT will be able to increase the support on offer to each and every venue”

“I’m pleased to be working together with the Music Venue Trust, the LGBTQ+ Venues Forum, the Creative Land Trust and the BFI to offer this emergency funding to those areas most at need, but we need the government to step forward and provide the comprehensive support this industry needs to protect its future.”

MVT’s Beverley Whitrick adds: “Music Venue Trust works on behalf of grassroots music venues across the whole UK, but the greatest concentration of our members is in London. These venues are some of the most impacted by the current crisis because the costs of running a venue in London are so high.

“This funding from the mayor of London means that MVT will be able to increase the support on offer to each and every venue, dedicating invaluable human resources, specialist advice and financial assistance where other measures come up short – everything possible to sustain these venues so they can reopen in the future and host artists and audiences safely and professionally.”

 


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Surveys spell mixed future for live, show events are missed

A number of surveys released in recent weeks have highlighted a potential hesitancy among the public to return to live music events once they reopen, although a high demand for online live experiences indicates the appetite for live music is as strong as ever.

Surveys conducted by Triple J radio in Australia, Reuters/Ipsos and United Talent Agency (UTA) in the US and YouGov in the UK have told a tale of mixed fortunes for the live events industry.

A poll carried out by Australia’s Triple J radio, which predominantly targets the 18 to 24 age bracket, has found that 57% of the 1,500 listeners that responded would attend a music festival before a Covid-19 vaccine is created, whereas almost the same percentage (55%) of the 4,429 Americans surveyed in the Reuters poll state they do not believe live entertainment events should restart before a vaccine is available.

The UTA data, collected from almost 1,100 US respondents, shows a similar division of opinions.  Of the concertgoers surveyed, 90%  state they have sought to replace the live music experience in some way during the coronavirus lockdown, with 48% watching footage from past live performances and 46% tuning in to a livestream.

The importance of entertainment to people during this time is clear, as UTA’s data shows that 70% of respondents are enjoying watching paid-for livestreamed concerts and performances, just 3% less than those watching the free versions.

The importance of entertainment to people during this time is clear

In accordance with a recent Bandsintown survey, almost three-quarters (73%) of UTA respondents state an intention to continue accessing livestreamed content post-coronavirus, with 67% intending to carry on paying for this kind of content.

However, the same respondents are divided in their willingness to return to the real thing. Just under half (47%) say they would attend a small or intimate concert within the first month of restrictions being lifted, with that percentage sitting at 39% for arena or stadium gigs and festivals.

About a quarter of respondents state they are unsure when they would be willing to return to live events, indicating the uncertainty characterising this stage of the lockdown process.

In the UK, a YouGov poll of more than 2,000 adults shows that people want a staggered lifting of lockdown restrictions, with the reopening of large events such as festival falling low on the priority list for many (59%).

Contastingly, a recent survey of US consumers by MRC Data, shows that nearly 60% of Americans would be willing to attend a live event within two months of the pandemic passing, with 65% of users of event discovery platform Bandsintown also saying the the outbreak will not affect their willingness to attend a public gathering.

 


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Eventbrite IPO investor lawsuit dismissed

Eventbrite has beaten a class-action lawsuit that accused it of misleading investors at the time of its September 2018 flotation.

As previously reported, the suit – filed on behalf of claimants who purchased Eventbrite stock in the company’s initial public offering (IPO) at US$23 a share – alleges the ticketing company deceived potential buyers in its IPO registration statement by declaring that the acquisition of Ticketfly “had a positive impact on net revenue growth” in the third quarter of 2017, when in fact the migration was progressing more slowly than stated, delaying integration and negatively affecting growth.

San Francisco-based Eventbrite denied the allegations, its lawyers calling the case without merit and saying the complaint contains no “facts suggesting that Eventbrite made any false or misleading statements of material fact”.

On Tuesday (28 April), California judge Edward Davila ruled in favour of Eventbrite, according to Law360, granting the company’s bid to dismiss the suit in its entirety, while giving the investors a chance to amend their complaint by 24 June to make it more specific.

Judge Edward Davila ruled in favour of Eventbrite, granting the company’s bid to dismiss the suit in its entirety

“Plaintiffs’ vague allegations that the Ticketfly acquisition was ‘delayed’, ‘costly’ and that the integration missed ‘key features’ are insufficient to show that defendants ‘affirmatively’ created an impression of a state of affairs that differs in a material way from reality”, said Davila, adding: “In fact, a closer inspection of Eventbrite’s SEC filings appears to belie plaintiffs’ claims that the company projected that the Ticketfly integration was going ‘smoothly’”.

The suit was filed following a plunge in Eventbrite’s share price, from a high of over $32 to less than $16 in June 2019.

In common with other live entertainment companies, Eventbrite shares have plummeted further as a result of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, with stocks trading at just shy of $10 at press time, up from a low of $5.86 on 3 April.

 


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Swiss festival season gone as gov extends event ban

Following two weeks of deliberation, the Swiss government last night (29 April) declared that no events over 1,000 people will take place in the country until the end of August.

The government states it will reassess the situation “before the summer holidays”. The fate of events with fewer than 1,000 attendees will be decided on 27 May.

The decision follows criticism from festival organisers and the Swiss Music Promoters’ Association (SMPA) over the lack of clarity offered by the government to organisers of large-scale events. In the absence of an official declaration, the SMPA recently advised all members to postpone any large events due to take place before mid-July.

Switzerland now joins fellow European countries Germany, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and Ireland to effectively ban the whole summer festival season. Large events are not permitted until mid-August in Hungary, the end of June in Austria, mid-July in France and the end of July in Luxembourg and Finland.

Although Swiss festival giants Paléo Festival Nyon and Montreux Jazz Festival had already called time on 2020, a number of significant events including OpenAir St Gallen, SummerDays and Seaside Festivals, Openair Frauenfeld and Zürich Openair were awaiting word from the authorities before cancelling.

“This summer, for the first time in the history of the festival since 1977, there will be no OpenAir St.Gallen,” reads a statement from organisers of the 30,000-capacity festival, which is part of the majority CTS Eventim-owned wepromote, along with SummerDays and Seaside festivals.

Openair St Gallen 2020 was set to feature Twenty One Pilots, the Lumineers, Alan Walker and Of Monsters and Men. “We promise you that we will now put all our passion for the OpenAir St.Gallen even more into the 2021 edition.”

“This summer, for the first time in the history of the festival since 1977, there will be no OpenAir St.Gallen”

The OpenAir St Gallen team urges fans to hold on to their tickets for 2021, saying that “by doing so, you are helping to secure the foundation of our festival, the work of our colleagues and our various teams who have been working on the festival for months and to get us through this very difficult time.”

SummerDays (12,000-cap.) is another to announce its cancellation in the wake of the government’s announcement. The festival falls inside the event ban limits by only a few days, scheduled for 28 to 29 August.

Organisers say they “fully support the actions of the government” and “had to expect this would happen”.

“Let’s make SummerDays 2021 a big highlight together and celebrate like never before.”

Seaside Festival (10,000-cap.), which had previously postponed to the end of August, also announced its support for the government, “albeit with a heavy heart”. Seaside Festival will return from 3 to 4 September 2021.

Other Swiss events to cancel following the government’s announcement include hip-hop festival Openair Frauenfeld (50,000), which had booked Kendrick Lamar, ASAP Rocky and DaBaby for 2020; pop festival Zürich Openair (20,000-cap.), which was to feature Martin Garrix, Lewis Capaldi and Rita Ora, among others; the 30,000-capacity Greenfield Festival (Disturbed, Bring Me The Horizon); and 33,000-capacity OpenAir Gampel (Macklemore, Limp Bizkit, Sum 41).

 


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SeatGeek sued over alleged U-turn on refunds

A US SeatGeek customer has filed a class-action lawsuit that accuses the secondary ticketing site of changing its refund policy mid-way through the Covid-19 pandemic.

The suit, which alleges that SeatGeek rescinded its money-back guarantee amid the widespread cancellation of live events, comes three weeks after similar legal action was initiated against ticket-resale rival StubHub, which is also offering credit instead of cash refunds for cancelled or postponed events.

In a filing in a Manhattan court, William Trader says New York-based SeatGeek – which also has a significant European presence, where it primarily focuses on primary ticketing for arts venues – changed the terms of its ‘buyer guarantee’ from a full refund to “a credit to be used for a future purchase to be determined in SeatGeek’s sole discretion”.

“Defendant has sought to surreptitiously shift its losses onto its innocent customers”

Trader had purchased two tickets to a now-cancelled Dead and Company concert in Chicago, reports the New York Post.

“In the midst of the greatest public health and economic crisis in living memory, defendant has sought to surreptitiously shift its losses onto its innocent customers, furthering the financial hardship endured by people across the country,” says Trader’s lawyer, Nicholas Coulson.

SeatGeek has been contacted for comment.

 


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