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French sector faces ‘slow and difficult recovery’

In the midst of a challenging festival season, Prodiss warns the business is still a long way from returning to pre-pandemic levels

By James Hanley on 18 Jul 2022

Malika Séguineau, Prodiss

Malika Séguineau, Prodiss

French live association Prodiss is warning the sector must face up to a “slow and difficult recovery” from the pandemic, amid a mixed season for the country’s festivals so far.

Earlier this month, Live Nation France bosses hailed a stellar year for the returning Main Square Festival, which attracted a record 150,000-strong crowd over four days, while Les Francofolies de La Rochelle pulled in 280,000 visitors in five days and Hellfest reported 420,000 fans over seven days.

However, others such as the four-day Aluna Festival, which drew 65,000 people overall, were less satisfied with their summer’s business. “We’re going to be in a financial deficit, it’s depressing,” founding president Jean Boucher told Le Dauphine.

“When we say the festivals are resuming, we must not think that we have regained the growth of 2019 before the health crisis. This is not the case,” says Prodiss general manager Malika Seguineau, according to France 24.

“The number of festivals is crazy. Artists’ fees are rising and ticket prices have not increased”

The report cites now familiar problems for the business of over-supply, increased production costs and shortage of experienced personnel.

It adds that huge events such as Aluna, Hellfest, Solidays in Paris and an Iron Maiden concert at Paris La Defense Arena were all held around the same time in late June, with a similar situation arising this past weekend with the Francofolies, Vieilles Charrues Festival, Lollapalooza Paris and and Coldplay at Stade de France.

“The French have changed their behaviour,” notes Seguineau. “They buy tickets very late saying to themselves, ‘If I have the Covid, I will have to cancel,’ and they also sometimes already have three postponed shows in their hands.”

“The number of festivals is crazy,” says Francofolies boss Gérard Pont. “Artists’ fees are rising and ticket prices have not increased.”

Seguineau, who set out a mission statement for the post-pandemic recovery of France’s live music sector earlier this year, adds that Prodiss will “take stock in September” to “reflect on an economic model perhaps at the end of a cycle”, and suggests the industry needs more external support than it is currently receiving.

“We are not asking to live on a drip, but we are saying we need a stronger CNM [Centre national de la musique] to respect its commitment to develop structuring support programmes, to help us take risks.”


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