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Russian music biz ‘devastated’ at Ukraine conflict

The Russian concert industry has made a united call for peace as the war in Ukraine intensifies, with one leading promoter speaking of the “catastrophe” facing the region’s live music business.

Russian forces launched a full-scale invasion of neighbouring Ukraine last week, attacking locations across the country. More than 100 people are reported to have been killed and thousands have fled their homes.

“All our thoughts and prayers are with our Ukrainian friends,” says Semyon Galperin, producer, art director and talent buyer for live music venue Tele-Club Ekaterinburg, situated to the east of Moscow. “Us Russians who are against war, we feel devastated – it’s a catastrophe.”

Galperin tells IQ that the implications for international touring mean that mass cancellations are inevitable. However, there looks certain to be further knock-on effects from the financial sanctions placed on Russia’s central bank by the US, UK and EU.

“I don’t think that foreign acts will be able to play in Russia in the near future,” he tells IQ. “I’m sure everything we have planned, or on sale, is going to be cancelled. We will have to refund ticket buyers, but some of the money is already in agencies’ bank accounts, and they won’t be able to send that back – as far as I understand – because most Russian banks will be under severe sanctions. So the international part of the business will suffer terrible losses, which will probably make a lot of leading Russian companies either bankrupt or severely in debt.”

Tele-Club has hosted western artists such as Garbage, Papa Roach, The Prodigy, Tiesto, Armin Van Buuren and Sum 41, and currently has upcoming shows in the diary with the likes of Nothing But Thieves, Uriah Heep and Morcheeba. Galperin also references acts from the Ukraine including singer Luna, who is due to perform nine shows at the venue, but has been forced to flee her home in Kyiv with her family.

“The Russian showbusiness market will most likely shrink to those acts who either support Putin or who keep silent”

“She has written that she is in a basement with her kid for the last several days,” he says. “Her husband, who is a guitarist, composer and sound producer, commented on Facebook that, ‘The main thing is to keep our lives.’ So obviously, Ukrainian acts won’t go to Russia anytime soon, except for some of the acts loyal to Putin.

“The government was always cancelling bands, especially during the Crimea crisis in 2014, and then it slowed down. But since last October they have been trying to cancel shows. The government was suggesting cancellations and sometimes promoters got scared and behaved. One of the shows was by a Russian rap act called Noize MC, which was cancelled about a week ago. Noize MC criticised Putin in the past. A lot of bands will be cancelled because of the same reason. We literally have pretty long cancellation lists.

“Basically, the Russian showbusiness market will most likely shrink to those acts who either support Putin or who keep silent. So you can say there is no concert industry in Russia anymore, although there always will be singers. Even in countries with the most brutal dictatorships, some things go on.”

Galperin is one of dozens of signatories from the Russian entertainment business who have endorsed a letter calling for an end to the conflict.

“We, employees of the Russian concert, theatre and music industry, deem it necessary to formulate our attitude to the events taking place in Ukraine and inevitably affecting all the countries of Europe and the former USSR,” it says. “Our work is to create cultural values. Our mission is to make art accessible to people from small to great. Art, culture – what distinguishes a man from a beast, what unites people.

“Culture is an inseparable value, and access to culture is a basic human right. Any armed conflict will attempt this right, as well as the inseparable human right to life, health, liberty, happiness. We believe it is vital to immediately stop military actions on the territory of Ukraine, the consequences of which will be irreversible. ”

Artists such as Green Day, AJR and Louis Tomlinson have already cancelled 2022 shows in Russia. But having worked at Tele-Club since 2015, Galperin argues the impact of the country becoming off limits as a touring destination for overseas artists will not necessarily be significant.

“Russia was an emerging market, so I don’t think cancelling Russia will greatly change things,” he says. “But I should note that fans who listen to foreign bands are less likely to be fooled. They have a better perspective on the world because they are interested in western music culture, so they are not exactly fans of Putin, most likely quite the opposite. But financially, I don’t think that Russia was such a big market that the world can’t carry on without it.”

Galperin finishes with a plea for understanding for the predicament faced by Russian concert promoters as a result of the terrible situation.

“It is not our choice, of course,” he says. “I never supported Putin, I was always against him. I was always expressing my opinion and being frank about what I think about Putin’s regime. But still, we feel shock, shame and guilt, and I was amazed to hear some words of support from Ukraine and the whole world. People around the world understand that it’s Putin who started the war, and there are many good and honest Russian people.

“There is also this strange question about how we can find some options to rebate ticket fees to customers because of the blocked financial system. This sounds like an absolutely minor problem compared to terrible suffering Ukrainian people are going through. But as said, absolute majority of music fans do not support the war so it will be proper to support them too as their financial troubles are going to be enormous in the nearest years.

“I plead to all the world to please help Ukrainian people with humanitarian aid, medical aid, child care and everything they may need.”


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Ukrainian promoters: “Right now, it’s a matter of survival”

In what has been described as the biggest conflict in Europe since World War II, promoters and agents in Ukraine have been forced to flee their homes or seek shelter underground. And as local artists seek to halt the spread of misinformation online, any thoughts of future business have been replaced by the basic need to survive.

Speaking to IQ today (28 February), on the fifth day of conflict, executives spoke of their current circumstances, early efforts by those in the live music industry, and future relations between Russia and Ukraine.

Sergii Maletskyi, general manager and talent buyer at Kyiv-based promoter H2D, fled the capital city the day Russia launched its full-scale invasion to head west. He joined the migration which, according to the United Nations (UN), has seen more than half a million people flee their homes to escape the war.

“A lot of people were travelling from east to west so there was bad traffic,” he tells IQ. “It took 14 hours to travel 350 kilometres (217 miles).” But while Maletskyi says the region is “pretty stable” in comparison to others, the threat of danger is still very real.

“Yesterday, we had to hide in the basement three times because an air attack was expected,” he says. “It didn’t happen, luckily, but this is the new reality for Ukraine.”

Since the invasion began on Thursday 24 February, the UN has recorded 102 civilian deaths, including seven children – and more than 300 injured. However, UN human rights chief, Michelle Bachelet, said: “The real figures are, I fear, considerably higher”.

“”We are not focused on the business at this moment – we’re focused on saving lives”

Maletskyi says that the majority of staff at H2D also sought refuge in the east, though one employee is still in Kyiv, barricading in a tube station. “We’re in communication with employees and we’ve paid everyone’s salary for February,” he says. “We’re trying to support them as much as we can.”

Dartsya Tarkovska, co-founder of Music Export Ukraine, also fled the capital – the centre of the conflict – to the western city of Lviv.

“I was born and raised in Kyiv – that’s where my whole life is,” she tells IQ. “We were worried that a war was about to begin so we moved to Lviv a few days before the conflict began. So we were lucky we were able to move safely.”

Of the ten people working for Music Export Ukraine, four of them remain in Kyiv. “They spend most of their time in shelters. It’s a matter of keeping alive and safe,” she says.

Russian president Vladimir Putin’s justifications for the war in Ukraine have been widely dismissed as false by western nations, but with social media platforms and free press now all but outlawed in Russia, the conflict is as much about propaganda as it is boots on the ground. And both Maletskyi and Tarkovska have praised Ukrainian artists for the role they have played on both fronts.

Battling the spread of misinformation, popular Ukrainian acts are attempting to change their cover art on streaming platforms to educate Russian citizens and other countries on the situation in Ukraine.



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A post shared by H2D (@h2d.concerts)

And it’s not just online efforts that musicians and creative professionals are signing up to. A number of Ukrainian artists, including Andriy Khlyvnyuk from the popular band Boombox, have volunteers for the territorial defence to protect regions against Russian troops.

Meanwhile, this weekend saw hundreds of thousands of protestors take to streets of London, Berlin, Madrid, South Korea and other countries. And according to Maletskyi, colleagues from the international live music business have also been pitching in and doing “everything they can to help”.

However, Maletskyi warns that stakeholders in the domestic live music business will need to remain patient while Ukrainians prioritise their safety.

“I’ve said to all management not to make cancellations public at this stage because it will cause panic and we don’t need it at the moment,” he said. “I’ve asked them to give us a week or two to focus on our safety. After that, we will be ready to manage cancellations, postponements and everything else. Some of them agreed, some of them didn’t.

“We’re doing our best to communicate with all of our partners and everyone is being really understanding that the situation is like nothing we’ve experienced before, so we’re thankful to them.

“We are not focused on the business at this moment – we’re focused on saving lives. All problems with postponements and cancellations will be solved later.”

“The majority of connections with Russia’s industry will be over”

As for future relations with Russia, Maletskyi says he thinks the “bridges have been burned”.

“The percentage of our Russian shows, annually, was about 10-or-15% and all those artists opposed the current government of Russia. I’m not sure about the future shows… I’m not sure I’ll be working with Russian promoters.”

Tarkovska echoes his sentiment, adding: “The majority of connections with Russia’s industry will be over. It started to happen after 2014, when the initial conflict began but there will be more consequences now.”

However, there are some ties to Russia that have proved hard to sever, says Tarkovska. “For the majority of streaming services and distributors, the communication has been happening via Moscow. We have been trying to change that for quite a while.

“We’re saying, if these organisations are not ready to create independent offices in Ukraine, we’re fine going through Poland but we don’t want to go through the Russian offices of these companies.”

For now, however, the Ukrainian live music is focused on more pressing issues: “Right now, it’s a matter of survival and no one cares about the music industry,” says Tarkovska.


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OVG boycotts Russia, trade bodies condemn attacks

Global sports and entertainment giant Oak View Group (OVG) has announced it is boycotting Russia amid widespread outrage over the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

The UN estimates that more than 500,000 refugees have fled from Ukraine into neighbouring countries. Over 100 people, including children, are said to have been killed as heavy fighting continues in major cities.

OVG’s Climate Pledge Arena lit up Seattle Center in the colours of the Ukrainian flag in a gesture of support for #StandWithUkraine.

“In light of the tragic conflict rapidly unfolding in Ukraine, Oak View Group has pledged to not do business in or with Russia, nor will we serve Russian brands in any of our venues on a global basis, effective immediately,” says a company statement. “We stand with the people of Ukraine, we condemn the actions of Russia, and we hope our stance inspires others in our industry to take action where they can.”

A number of European live music trade bodies have also spoken out in condemnation of Russia’s actions.

“We are shocked by this military invasion and will do everything we can to show our solidarity with the Ukranian people”

Germany’s Event Management Forum, which consists of five major organisations including live music associations BDKV and LiveKomm, denounced the “illegal and barbaric attacks on Ukraine by Vladimir Putin and his regime, which violates international law”.

“We are shocked by this military invasion and will do everything we can to show our solidarity with the Ukrainian people and to support them in their fight against this injustice,” says BDKV Pascal Funke.

The body is currently working on organising a benefit concert for Ukraine, the proceeds of which will be donated to the International Aid Fund for Culture and Education.

“By performing this task, we hope to be able to make a small contribution to the return of peace and freedom to the people of both Ukraine and Russia,” says Jens Michow, executive president of the BDKV.

Slovakia’s biggest festival Pohoda (Peace) held a concert yesterday (27 February) to show solidarity with the people of Ukraine. Featuring more than 20 artists, the ‘Concert for Ukraine’ took place in Bratislava’s Main Square.

“Sadly, in 2022, we still need to deal with tyranny, oppression and other types of aggression to democracy and freedom”

Pan-European festival association Yourope has expressed solidarity “with those who suffer from and disagree with this terrible aggression”.

“We have always strived to achieve the best together because we are convinced that only cooperation and exchange makes us stronger,” it says. “A healthy and vivid society depends on awareness and tolerance for all cultures, genders, races, religions, sexual orientations, colours and origins. We all should be the ambassadors of hope, respect and peaceful dialogue every day to make the world a better place for every single individual and for all of us.”

Why Portugal added: “There’s no room for aggression in every corner of the world. Sadly, in 2022, we still need to deal with tyranny, oppression and other types of aggression to democracy and freedom. In a world where borders should be diminished, it makes no sense to observe such an attack that Russia is undertaking towards Ukraine.

“We, within this community, must be focused on progression towards a much brighter future – not only in the creative and music industries but the entire ecosystem that surrounds us. We fully condemn these actions. In any circumstance, especially as we’re yet recovering from the economical effects of Covid-19, we can’t accept what’s happening.

“The Portuguese Music Export Office (Why Portugal) demonstrate full solidarity and support to our fellow colleagues from Ukraine: musicians, labels, the Music Export Ukraine, and the overall music industry in the country. Actions should be louder than a thousand words, so that’s why we’re completely open to supporting all Ukrainian musicians based in Portugal at the moment.”


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Jess Kinn on Years & Years, One Fiinix Live and 2022

One Fiinix Live agent Jess Kinn has spoken to IQ about her first year at Jon Ollier’s agency, her drive for a more inclusive industry and the challenges facing the agency business in 2022.

Kinn was the first agent to be hired by Ollier at One Finiix Live, who hailed her an “exciting and forward-thinking talent with a fantastic reputation and a huge future ahead of her”.

She joined the agency from livestreaming company LiveNow, having worked on some of 2020’s biggest music live streams, such as the Pete Tong Heritage Orchestra, Gorillaz and Dua Lipa’s record-breaking Studio 2054.

Kinn began her career with the Leighton Pope Organisation and worked her way up from receptionist to agent at Paradigm (formerly Coda Agency).

Her current roster at One Fiinix Live comprises more than 20 artists including Years & Years, Cat Burns, Mallrat, Tessa Violet, Beka and July Jones.


How did you come to be the first agent at Jon Ollier’s One Finiix Live agency?
JK: I heard really great things about Jon – everyone said he was one of the ‘good ones’. So I just called him up in November 2020 and asked for a chat – I think he thought it was about live streaming. I said, ‘Look, Jon, you don’t know me, but this is what I’m doing, this is who I am’. He invited me for lunch and we had this amazing four-hour chat about everything; our love of music, what we wanted from a company and the kind of culture we wanted to build. It just totally made sense. The next day we were both like ‘yeah, let’s do this’.

You’ve been at the agency for a year now. Tell us about some of the successes you’ve had with your roster in the past 12 months.
Olly [Alexander, Years & Years] had an amazing year. I guess it started with [Channel 4’s hit drama] It’s a Sin and then we had the Elton John performance at the Brits 2021 and the New Year’s Eve BBC show. It was amazing that we could do a 15-track show, featuring Kylie Minogue, Pet Shop Boys and queens from RuPaul’s drag race. It was a real celebration of all that we’d all done that year and that geared us up for the album [Night Call] which charted at number 1 [in January].

We have festivals coming up in the summer and our arena tour at the end of May. Cat Burns has had an incredible start to the year. We put up her debut headline show at Omeara which sold out in 30 mins so we put up another and it sold out in an hour. We’ve got a ton of exciting supports and festivals coming up this year.

“I think we’re all going to have to be malleable and adaptable this year”

Covid and Brexit are presenting huge challenges for touring, do you have a strategy to navigate the pitfalls?
Jon and I were quite sure that a lot wasn’t going to happen at the beginning of this year so we made a decision to avoid booking shows in early Q1. I’ve booked a lot of my European tours from May onwards. Especially US-based or Australia based artists I’m touring them from Q3 onwards as it still feels risky. I’m making sure my artists only play shows when it makes total sense and everything aligns. It’s about thinking: ‘why are we doing these shows? Is the world ready to hear this artist? Is the road ready to see this artist live? Is the timing right?’ This resonates more now than it ever did because every artist is out touring this year.

How are you dealing with the oversaturation of the concert market?
Venue availability is just crazy. But I think as more changes happen with, say, US acts having to push back their UK/EU dates, there will be more availability. You’ve got to be thinking so much further ahead than you ever did. I think we’re all going to have to be malleable and adaptable this year. You’ve got to be quick to change plans and try to find different ways to do things. If you can’t get the venue that you want, try and find a more unique location. If you’ve missed a certain market, try another one. It’s important to remember that things can’t be perfect, you can only do what you can do and you can only plan so much.

“I think we need to make sure that every show is special so that fans feel confident to buy and want to come to shows again”

UK promoters have reported an astounding amount of no-shows since the industry reopened. What has been your experience with this?
All of my newer artists like Ellie Dixon, Beka, Michael Aldag sold out their shows in 2021 and there weren’t many no shows. I think it was a case of good timing. Jon [Ollier’s] idea was to follow the sun around so the last show I booked was at the end of November. Post-Nov-Dec was when things started plateauing again with Covid. So, again, it’s about making sure that you only book things with intention and good reason.

How have you found ticket sales since the industry reopened?
Across the board, it has been hard to sell tickets. The amount of artists touring vs the amount of money people are able to spend on shows makes it super hard. Also, buyer confidence has plummeted because so many fans have bought tickets to shows that have been moved or cancelled. I think we need to make sure that every show is special so that fans feel confident to buy and want to come to shows again.

“Live streaming from an empty venue – which feels like a reminder of a time when we couldn’t attend shows – won’t continue”

With promoters having to honour line-ups that were booked two years ago, are there enough opportunities in 2022 for the newer artists on your roster?
There are definitely far fewer opportunities this year. I’m telling my artists and managers that we should aim for two or three opportunities that we really want and then try and build around that. They’re all aware of how difficult this year is – it’s going to be rough and tumble. Things will come late, plans will change. Last year, when promoters were going through the worst of it – not even knowing if they had jobs I checked in on them and made sure they were ok rather than demanding slots on festivals that might not happen.

You worked in the livestreaming business during the pandemic boom. What is your point of view on the format now?
It depends. Live streaming a concert from an empty venue is very different to live streaming a concert with an audience there. That’s why the Dua Lipa [Studio 2054] stream and the Gorillaz stream worked so well because they were hybrids between a music video and a live stream and something you could never see live. Live streaming from an empty venue – which just feels like a reminder of a time when we couldn’t attend shows – won’t continue. You just cannot replace going to a concert and being there in person.

“What I’ve realised now, at One Finiix Live, is that my main asset is being myself”

How have you found gender diversity in the industry, during your career?
It has been really hard. It’s still a very male-dominated industry. I’ve been surrounded by female assistants but few female agents or bookers and so I’ve often been the only woman in the room with artists, managers and promoters. I’ve been told I have a big personality, I’m confident and outspoken, but I feel that’s been misjudged at times and used against me, especially because I’m a woman. I used to feel like I had to dim myself down to make others feel comfortable, what I’ve realised now, at One Finiix Live, is that my main asset is being myself.

Who are some women you admire in the live music industry?
Kelly Chappell is a huge inspiration and should have also won ‘best speech’ at the Women in Music Awards! Laura Davidson who started her own company Amigas is super important to me. I try to work with female promoters like her, as well as Maddie Arnold at Live Nation, Chloe Pean at AEG and Alexandra Ampofo at Metropolis. On the agency side, I love Alice Hogg [ATC Live], Sally Dunstone [Primary Talent International] and Whitney Boateng [WME] – we worked together at CODA. There’s also an incredible team of women at One Fiinix Live – Emma Davis and Eve Thomas. Caroline Reason at Mata Agency is also an absolute queen!

“Before I confirm Years & Years for a festival, I insist on building [an inclusive] lineup together with promoters”

What are you doing to further diversity, equity and inclusion in the industry?
We’re making sure every UK festival Years & Years are playing are real inclusive spaces for everyone and the lineups are diverse across gender, race and sexuality. Before I confirm Years & Years for a festival, I insist on building the lineup together with promoters. So far, promoters – even the ones lacking in expertise in that area – are super open to it. I’m fortunate because most of the Y&Y shows are headlines so we are in a great position to enforce this.

I am also working with an incredible award-winning collective called Queer House Party which has built this insane following in lockdown by putting on safe and accessible spaces for people to come together within the queer community. The night has now made a leap from online to IRL selling out nights at iconic venues across UK. We are now bringing radical and queer excellence to festivals across the summer. I’m also speaking to the Trans Creative, co-founded by Charlie Deakin-Davies, who are working on creating opportunities for trans and non-binary production crews.

With all the issues agents are currently faced with, are you able to protect your mental health?
I actually feel that it has been harder to keep the work-life balance than it was pre-pandemic, there’s much more work but the demand is still the same. Everyone wants something now now now; dates are moving all the time. It feels way more intense than it did before. I’m hoping that the pressure dies down soon and, meanwhile, people do their best to be kind and patient because we’re all going through it. For me dancing and playing football is a great help!


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Pohoda plans solidarity concert for Ukraine

Pohoda (Peace), Slovakia’s biggest festival, is organising a concert to show solidarity with the people of Ukraine.

Russian forces this week launched a full-scale invasion of neighbouring Ukraine, attacking locations across the country. A number of people have been killed and thousands have fled their homes.

Pohoda’s ‘Concert for Ukraine’ will take place this Sunday (27 February) at 15:00 CST in Bratislava’s Main Square with more than 20 artists.

Ukrainian DJ and resident of Slovakia, Miklei, was the first act announced for the solidarity event. Slovakia and Czech acts including Štefan Štec, Saténové ruky, Michael Kocáb + Martin Wittgruber, Miklei, Muzička, Para and Bez ladu a skladu are also confirmed.

“We have many visitors and great relationships with promoters from Ukraine”

Pohoda is encouraging attendees of the free concert to make donations to charities such as Save Life and Red Cross.

“With this concert, we want to show our solidarity with the people of Ukraine,” says Pohoda’s Michal Kaščák. “The liberal arts are developing best in free countries, and we know that our friends in Ukraine are trying to do the same. Every year, great artists from Ukraine perform at Pohoda, we receive representatives of their media, we have many visitors and great relationships with promoters from Ukraine.

“We want to let them all know also this way that we are with them in these difficult times. By the way, it is clear that if a similar attack concerned Slovakia, one of the first targets would be the Trenčín airport, which is also used for many civilian activities, including our festival.”

Pohoda Festival is scheduled to return to Trenčín airport between 7–9 July with acts including Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Flume and The Libertines.


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Long hot summer: Festivals expand for 2022

Wireless is the latest festival to announce an expanded format, ahead of what looks to be a bumper 2022 festival season.

This year, Europe’s biggest celebration of contemporary Black music will take place at three of its former sites over two weekends in July.

The Festival Republic-promoted festival will kick off on 1–3 July at London’s Crystal Palace Park, where it took place in 2021 for the first time in history.

The following weekend (8–11 July), Wireless will simultaneously take place at its traditional home of Finsbury Park in London and Birmingham’s NEC –  where it last took place in 2014.

Festival Republic today announced blockbuster headliners including A$AP Rocky (UK exclusive), J. Cole (UK exclusive), Tyler, The Creator (London exclusive), Cardi B (UK exclusive), Nicki Minaj (EU exclusive), Dave and SZA (EU exclusive).

Wireless is the latest in a long line of festivals to expand after two relatively festival-free summers.

“Adding the fourth festival day as inclusive for all previously bought three-day tickets was our way of saying thank you”

Tomorrowland (Belgium), Primavera (Spain), Mad Cool (Spain), Standon Calling (UK), InMusic (Croatia) and Summer Breeze (Germany), Rock en Seine (France), Splendour (UK) and Wonderbus Columbus (US) are among the existing festivals that have been extended for 2022.

Festival organisers have cited a number of reasons for extending their usual format including meeting pent-up demand, recouping losses, celebrating anniversaries and rewarding fan loyalty.

InMusic, Croatia’s biggest open-air music festival, added a fourth day as an all-inclusive for fans who had held onto their three-day ticket.

“Adding the fourth festival day as inclusive for all previously bought three-day tickets was our way of saying thank you for all the love and support,” says Ivana Jelaca from InMusic.

“We were moved by the messages of support we received after the pandemic hit and we were trying to figure out the best way to thank everyone for their understanding and patience.

“We choose to focus on the audiences that have been supportive and active in the years prior to the pandemic, as the two-year loss of live music content has had a huge impact on the quality of their lives.”

“People are hungry for live music and in need of a carefree festival weekend among friends”

Jelaca says that the festival’s 15th anniversary, which is delayed two years due to pandemic-related cancellations, is also cause for an extended celebration.

Alex Härtel from Silverdust, which promotes Summer Breeze in Germany, says the promoter has similar reasons for extending the festival.

“The reason is our 25th anniversary! Summer Breeze has been around since 1997 and despite three cancellations (two due to covid) we want to celebrate 25 years of existence with our loyal fans and many friends and bands from all over the world,” says Härtel.

Moreover, Härtel says the festival is capitalising on pent-up demand for live music: “People are hungry for live music and in need of a carefree festival weekend among friends,” he adds.

While each of the organisers says that their extended edition will benefit vendors, hotel properties and other entities who typically profit from the event, the added day won’t make a dent in the losses the festivals have suffered from the pandemic.

“Fans will expect more in 2022 than they accepted in 2021”

“If anything, an additional festival day generates greater expenses – programming and production-wise – and as an independent mid-sized festival with a limited capacity there are only so many tickets on sale,” explains InMusic’s Jenca.

Silverdust’s Härtel echoes that sentiment, adding: “The extended programme on the first day wouldn’t justify a big enough increase in ticket price to recoup what two years of covid did to the festival. We are doing this to create something special for the fans, the crew and everyone involved with Summer Breeze.”

It isn’t just increased demand festivals will have to meet this year but also increased expectations said AEG Presents CEO of European Festivals Jim King.

“The emergence from multiple lockdowns created a unique demand that is unlikely to repeat in the same way,” he explains.

“Fans will expect more in 2022 than they accepted in 2021. We will see an increasing upturn in expectation from fans as the year plays out and they have been to more and more shows and there will be a need for the industry to up its game to keep fans attending and buying more tickets in the later part of the year.”


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Event Production Show returns at full scale

Live events industry conference and exhibition, the Event Production Show (EPS) is set to return to its usual venue and at full-scale on 8-9 March 2022 at ExCel London, having successfully run with substantial Covid-19 mitigations measures in place in May 2021.

Produced in partnership with Access All Areas (AAA), the EPS conference will feature some of the most senior decision makers in the industry, including London Marathon Events director Hugh Brasher, Ed Sheeran promoter Steve Tilley, Wimbledon Championships operations director Michele Dite and Notting Hill Carnival director Matthew Phillip.

Among the topics to be tackled at the conference will be the future of events, supply chain challenges, diversity, female safety at events, insurance, security, and two sessions focusing on sustainability that will be delivered in partnership with environmental action group Vision: 2025.

Unique in the UK events industry in combining a two-day conference with a dedicated live events industry exhibition, EPS will showcase cutting-edge event production services and products. EPS owner Mash Media said 115 major event supplier companies will exhibit their services and products at the event.

Among the new additions to EPS will be The Fanzone. Aimed at organisers of large scale sporting events; The FanZone will showcase activations, products and services that can be brought to life within fan zone areas at events. The area will also be used as a networking hub during EPS.

“We knew to be able to stand side-by-side with you, we had to deliver a live event”

The event, which is free to attend for industry professionals, will be the first full scale EPS since the pandemic struct. During the height of lockdown, EPS and AAA partnered to deliver a series of 10 webinars supporting and educating more than 5,000 of the event production community.

EPS director Duncan Siegle said that while the webinars proved popular and informative, there was always a determination to deliver a live event in whatever way possible under Covid-safe guidelines.

“We knew to be able to stand side-by-side with you, we had to deliver a live event,” he said. “We had seven date moves, two venue changes, a move from outside to indoors, but regardless we put on the show, in-person, for the industry.

“We’ve spent the last six months getting ready to deliver the best edition of the EPS yet. As events professionals from across the sector prepare for what is shaping up to be an events season like no other, EPS is a knowledge gathering and networking opportunity not to be missed.’’

Registration for the show is now open, free tickets are available here. There are a few stands available, and any companies wanting to participate with the event is encouraged to contact event manager Joanne Knowles at [email protected].


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Rapino predicts ‘strongest multi-year period ever’

Live Nation’s share price is on the rise in the wake of the company’s latest quarterly report, with 45 million tickets already sold for its 2022 shows.

The results covered both Q4 last year and 2021 as a whole, when revenue hit $2.7 billion and $6.27bn respectively, compared to $237.3 million and $1.86bn for the same periods in the Covid-ravaged 2020.

The stockmarket reacted positively to the numbers, with shares jumping more than 7% to $125.28, although just short of the all-time high of $127.50 reached after the promoter’s Q3 2021 figures were released last November, before settling at $120.44 at close of play.

“Over the course of 2021, we saw the strength of live events,” Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino told investors. “The year started in the midst of the pandemic, but by summer fans were returning to shows, and by the end of the year, we had a record pipeline of concerts, ticket sales and advertising commitments for 2022.

“Restarting our concerts business in the second half of the year, we put over 17,000 concerts for 35 million fans in 2021, mainly in the US and UK markets. In the final five months of the year, in the US and UK, we had over 15 million fans attend our outdoor events: festivals, stadiums, and amphitheatres, nearly 25% higher than during the same period in 2019.”

“I believe this is just the start of what will be the strongest multi-year period ever for the concert industry”

He added: “The two-year wait for artists and fans is over. Never have the tailwinds to our business been so strong, and I believe this is just the start of what will be the strongest multi-year period ever for the concert industry.”

Focusing on 2022, ticket sales are up 45% on 2019 levels, with the concert giant citing last year’s acquisition of Latin American power player Ocesa Entretenimiento as a key factor in the accelerated growth. LN reported that eight artists have already sold in excess of 500,000 tickets for their tours this year, including Bad Bunny, Dua Lipa and Billie Eilish. Ticketing revenue came to $487.7m for Q4 and $1.13bn for the year in its entirety.

“Our ticketing business had the dual benefit of strong ticket sales for events in 2021, while also being the first of our businesses to benefit from our 2022 pipeline,” said Rapino. “Ticket sales were at a record pace across every metric with October, November and December being our top three months ever for ticketing gross transaction value, excluding refunded tickets. And the fourth quarter and second half of the year also set records for a quarter and six-month periods.”

“We have a lot of confidence that 2023 and beyond look very good”

Rapino and LN president/chief financial officer Joe Berchtold also weighed in on the higher than usual no-show rates at concerts since the restart, with both suggesting the issue had been overstated.

“I think there’s been a lot of reporting by anecdote out there, as opposed to reporting by collective facts. And I don’t think our experience is any different than the industry is, as a total,” he said. “First of all, arenas in 2019, if you look at the number of people that showed up for a concert versus the number of people that bought tickets, it ran at 93% in 2019. That number thus far, in 2022, over the past six weeks is running at 91%. So not materially different from the 93% for the total of 2019.

“For our theatres and clubs, the smaller shows, you tend to have a slightly higher no-show rate. And that number was 87% in 2019. It’s running at 83% in 2022. So I think if you first of all recognise that there were a number of shows that have taken place over the past few months that were rescheduled, and when shows get rescheduled, people will naturally forget about the show or have a conflict different than what they originally had, it’s probable that accounts for all or almost all of that difference in the attendance level.”

Commenting on media reports, Rapino said: “I think they were saying as 15%, 20% weren’t showing, but again, they weren’t taking into account that on a normal year, 7%, 8% of people don’t show up to shows, so you’re already starting at that level.”

Berchtold also gave an insight into the intense level of activity expected next year, adding that plans were well ahead of where they would be at a similar stage, pre-pandemic.

“Right now, I have in front of me a list of 40 some tours for 2023 that are either confirmed or in our pipeline,” he said. “Normally, at this point, a year from earlier, we’d have a list of five to 10. So yes, we have a lot of confidence that 2023 and beyond look very good because there is a lot of pent-up supply, there is a lot of pent-up demand, and we expect it’s a multi-year run.”


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Roundhouse announces BBC’s Lorna Clarke as trustee

London’s Roundhouse has announced BBC pop controller Lorna Clarke as a new trustee.

The 3,000-cap Camden venue and charity works with thousands of young creatives each year through music, performance, broadcast and digital projects in its in-house Roundhouse Studios.

Clarke is the BBC’s controller of pop music, with responsibility for national music networks BBC Radio 1, Radio 2, 6 Music, Radio 1Xtra, Asian Network) as well as live events, music television commissioning and the visualisation team.

“I’m thrilled that I am now a trustee of the Roundhouse, one of London’s leading creative hubs and iconic performance venues,” she says. “I look forward to playing my role in the future of the charity.”

“I have no doubt that Lorna’s wealth of experience will help us thrive in the coming months and years”

Bringing more than 30 years of broadcasting experience, Clarke previously worked with the venue when she was director of Electric Proms, which were hosted at the Roundhouse between 2006-2010, with performances from artists including Dame Shirley Bassey, James Brown, Oasis, Robbie Williams, Dizzee Rascal and Paul McCartney.

“I’m delighted to welcome Lorna to the board of trustees at the Roundhouse,” adds Roundhouse chair Simon Turner. ” We’re entering an incredibly exciting period as we emerge from the pandemic and expand our creative offer for young people. I have no doubt that Lorna’s wealth of experience will help us thrive in the coming months and years.”

Upcoming concerts at the venue include Sons of Kemet, Pale Waves, The Cribs, Sparks, Celeste, Ride and Girl in Red.


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The O2 confirms reopening plans

London’s The O2 has confirmed it will reopen tomorrow (25 February) – a week after closing due to damage caused by Storm Eunice.

An estimated 1,000 people were evacuated from the AEG-operated building last Friday after Eunice – one of the worst storms hit the UK in decades – ripped a hole in its exterior tent fabric.

Two dates by Dave, set for 21-22 February, have been rescheduled to 28 February/1 March but all other shows are proceeding as planned, starting with UB40 featuring Ali Campbell (25 February), after rigorous safety checks deemed the venue safe, secure and structurally sound.

The O2’s Entertainment District and visitor attraction, Up at The O2, will also reopen tomorrow, while Indigo at The O2, which is also located within the Greenwich complex, will reopen for live events from Saturday (26 February).

“Safety will always be our number one priority”

“Confirming our reopening after such a short closure is a huge testament to everyone who is working so hard to get us open again,” says Steve Sayer, VP & General Manager of The O2. “Safety will always be our number one priority and as a venue, we have always been proud of the standards we hold and delivering a best in class fan and artist experience. On behalf of The O2, I would like to thank our partners, the industry, our staff and all the fans for their support and patience.”

Although the hole in the fabric caused by Storm Eunice will remain visible for some time while a permanent solution is put into place, the damage is said to be limited to an isolated area within The O2’s Icon Outlet shopping centre. The section in question will remain closed while essential works continue.

The venue says a “monumental effort “has been made to secure the site over the past few days. The O2 has engaged a team of experts including the structural engineers who originally worked on the building design to address the required repairs. To allow guests who are visiting the arena to enter and exit the venue safely, protected from the elements, a new entrance tunnel has now been constructed by Entrance H.

The O2 will host the Country to Country festival from 11-13 March, and has other shows lined up for 2022 by the likes of Stormzy, Dua Lipa, Billie Eilish, Celine Dion and Queen & Adam Lambert.


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