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AEG Presents’ Jim King shares forecast for 2022

The European Festivals CEO talks reshaping Rock en Seine, and cautions against oversupplying as the industry recovers

By IQ on 07 Dec 2021


This article is the second part of IQ’s interview with Jim King. To read the first instalment, in which King discusses Adele and BST Hyde Park 2022, click here.

Jim King, CEO of European Festivals at AEG Presents, warns the industry to be careful with thinking that the pent-up demand seen in early summer 2021 will remain.

“I have some caution over 2022 and the concern remains that the industry has reacted, in some areas, by oversupplying the market with rescheduled tours sitting on top of new tours which now sit very closely to summer festival periods,” he says.

“The industry needs to pause and reflect on how many tickets it feels can be sold in 2022 and 2023 and then react and plan accordingly. The problem is that our industry has a problem saying no.”

Alongside a slew of rescheduled tours, 2022 is also set to gain a multitude of new events, extended editions and revived festivals.

Tomorrowland (Belgium), Primavera (Spain), Mad Cool (Spain), Standon Calling (UK), InMusic (Croatia) and Summer Breeze (Germany) are among the existing festivals to be extended in 2022 – in some cases by entire weekends. Meanwhile, promoters including FKP Scorpio, Goldenvoice, Primavera, Live Nation and DreamHaus have marked brand new festivals in 2022’s increasingly busy calendar.

“The industry needs to pause and reflect on how many tickets it feels can be sold in 2022 and 2023 and then react”

In light of concerns about oversupplying, King says AEG has hit pause on pre-pandemic plans for new events and is instead focused on rejuvenating existing festivals. One such event is Rock en Seine (ReS), the responsibility for which which recently passed to his team, allowing a “total review” of what the enduring Paris festival could be.

“The challenge, like with many long-standing events, was that we needed to reset what the event stood for and what we wanted to say to fans, artists, media, and sponsors,” explains King.

In October it was announced that the 18th edition of the annual event will take place in an extended four-day format with a “new vision and one of the most impressive line-ups in the history of the festival”. Stromae, Tame Impala and Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds are to headline between 25–28 August in Domaine National de Saint-Cloud.

“The challenge, like with many long-standing events, was that we needed to reset what the [Rock en Seine] stood for”

“We just feel that the new format offers a more compelling commercial framework and one that aligns with the modern festival industry landscape which has changed a great deal over the last 20 years,” says King.

“ReS needed to reflect these changes. More days means we get to work with more artists and that’s another great reason to expand. Plus, Paris is one of the most accessible and culturally vibrant cities in the world. We felt that we had the opportunity to reflect that and widen the appeal of the festival to more fans.”

King says he prefers to look forward rather than backwards but that the lockdown was “tough” financially. “We are very fortunate that our owner was hugely supportive of our company and so we were able to plan through that period,” he says. “It’s our job now to repay that commitment and recover the losses from 2020 with a solid strategic plan for 2022/23 that builds on from the successes we were able to deliver at All Points East 2021.”

“It’s our job now to repay that commitment and recover the losses from 2020 with a solid strategic plan for 2022/23”

King says that strategic plan is to take a “new and fresh approach” to line-ups that were announced before the pandemic.

“That didn’t mean that we stopped working with all the acts from 2020 but we sought to reshape and strengthen the line ups,” he says. “Examples of this included Bombay Bicycle Club who instead played with Foals in 2021 [at All Points East] and Kraftwerk now playing with The Chemical Brothers in 2022.”

Discussing how he sees the recovery of the international live music industry progressing, King says the challenge will be whether the industry can approach 2022 and 2023 with the spirit of collaboration that was fostered in 2021.

“I think we saw the resilience that the industry can offer in some of the successes in 2021. The ability to mobilise quickly and work collaboratively throughout the supply chain to deliver high-quality shows demonstrates how strong we can be when we work with a common interest. If we can do this again, then recovery will be quicker and built on much stronger foundations.”

 


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