Euro festival bosses upbeat ahead of 2023 season
European festival bosses tell IQ they are approaching the 2023 season with positivity as a mixed picture emerges of the sector’s fortunes.
Download’s Germany spin-off was cancelled yesterday, with organisers citing production issues caused by the “massive number of open-air events”. The event joined a number of other major festivals including Falls Festival (Australia), Rolling Loud (US), Summerburst (Sweden), Hills of Rock (Bulgaria), InMusic (Croatia), Wireless Germany, Hear Hear (Belgium) and Tempelhof Sounds and Tempelhof Sounds Presents (Germany) in not returning this year.
FKP Scorpio CEO Folkert Koopmans, meanwhile, recently laid bare the post-pandemic financial struggles faced by the scene, reckoning that only 20% are still profitable. However, more encouraging reports have surfaced elsewhere in the marketplace.
DEAG chief Peter Schwenkow tells IQ the business is “on track with our business plan” for the summer ahead. The Berlin-headquartered company added Germany’s electronic music-oriented Airbeat One and psychedelic trance festival Indian Spirit to its portfolio last year, and also runs outdoor events such as the UK’s Live at Chelsea, Kew the Music and Belladrum through its Kilimanjaro Live subsidiary.
In its Q1 report last week, DEAG revealed more than 500,000 tickets have already been sold for its open-air festivals, and Schwenkow describes demand as “strong and late”, adding that cost control is the circuit’s overriding concern.
“Frankly, it’s a challenge to navigate rising costs while keeping the ticket prices as low as possible”
Also in Germany, FKP Scorpio MD Stephan Thanscheidt has a similar viewpoint when it comes to the biggest challenge facing the business.
“That would be, without a doubt, the rising production costs, which averaged across all sectors are over 40% higher than before the pandemic,” he tells IQ. “The reasons for this are the long-term consequences of the pandemic and the terrible war in Ukraine, which have made energy in particular more expensive. This effect is, after all, felt in all sectors of the economy and had in the meantime made itself felt in Germany with the highest inflation in 70 years.”
Thanscheidt continues: “In this climate, we have to finance every single item of our major events ourselves: Every metre of construction fencing, the entire technical infrastructure such as stages, sound, lighting and video technology, but also tent structures, sanitary facilities, space rentals, rapidly rising personnel costs and artist fees, GEMA, insurance, cleaning, innovation as well as sustainability.
“This incomplete list alone makes it clear that a very large part of our turnover is spent on covering these enormous costs. At the same time, we do our utmost to pass on only a fraction of these costs to our guests, as the comparatively moderate increase in ticket prices shows.
“Frankly, it’s a challenge to navigate rising costs while keeping the ticket prices as low as possible. So far, we’ve kept our prices on the lower end of the spectrum at our own expense, but we won’t be able to hold this up forever – the economy as a whole needs to go back to normal.”
“Advance sales for this year have started with record sales in 2022, and the overall demand is still strong”
Speaking to Radio Eins, Stephan Benn from German cultural association Liveinitiative NRW estimates that festival ticket prices have risen by 30% on average in the country (albeit tickets for several 2022 events were frozen at 2020 prices).
Tickets for Nuremberg’s Rock im Park are priced at up to €300 – an increase of around €70 on last year – necessitated by rising costs of 45% “in many areas”, according to spokesperson Carolin Hilzinger. Elsewhere, metal institution Wacken Open Air sold out in five hours after raising its admission price from €239 to €299 and adding an extra day, while Lollapalooza Berlin increased prices by €10 but has sold more tickets than at the same time last year.
Thanscheidt says that ticket sales for FKP’s festival season got off to a record-breaking start, and remain healthy. Its flagship Hurricane and Southside events will welcome the likes of Muse, Die Ärzte, Kraftklub, Placebo, Billy Talent, The 1975 and Queens Of The Stone Age next month.
“Advance sales for this year have started with record sales in 2022, and the overall demand is still strong,” says Thanscheidt. “The fact that our festival brands like Hurricane and Southside are among the very few major festivals in Germany heading for a sell-out this year is a great result in view of the overall economic situation and increased costs everywhere. We’re thankful and happy, although margins are very slim to non-existent – even with a fully sold-out festival.”
“Squeezing festivals and their clients with exploding artist fees is not a sustainable development for the entire industry”
In Switzerland, Paléo Festival booker Dany Hassenstein is toasting a record-breaking sellout for the Nyon event, which will host artists such as Rosalia, Indochine, Martin Garrix, Black Eyed Peas, Sigur Ros, Alt-J, Aya Nakamura and Placebo.
“We are observing increasing general demand from all generations,” Hassenstein tells IQ. “Festivals’ social and environmental responsibility is more and more important. Support from festival for social media content creation by visitors is a must.”
Nonetheless, Hassenstein points out issues regarding “general inflation, overall rental costs and lack of qualified staff”, as well as rising artist fees.
“Squeezing festivals and their clients with exploding artist fees is not a sustainable development for the entire industry,” he adds.
“Sales for 2023 are holding up well, with audiences choosing festivals as good value events that they want to attend”
John Rostron, CEO of the UK’s Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) tells IQ that sales are “holding up well” within the organisation’s membership, which reached 100 earlier this year.
“There are no plans for any Association of Independent Festival members to cancel their festivals,” notes Rostron. “Sales for 2023 are holding up well, with audiences choosing festivals as good value events that they want to attend. Lots of people are taking up payment plans too, paying a little every month, and that seems to be helping everyone make their way to their favourite events.”
Rostron points out, however, that a few member festivals have announced that this year will be their last event.
“There are some similar themes for each one choosing to come to an end: the rising costs of putting on an event – the fees artists are charging and the supply chain costs, which have risen by around 30% are the two biggest problems – have all increased what was already a risky business into something they no longer want to be involved in.
“Of course, the odd thing is that all of these events are either now sold out, or way ahead in terms of selling tickets, as everyone wants to make sure they go one last time. So at least they’ll all have a really good send off.”
Festival Republic MD Melvin Benn also offered his thoughts on the current state of play. Launching the company’s upcoming series of events in Dublin’s Marlay Park, Benn said the cost of putting on large events in Ireland is “not prohibitive yet” and doesn’t expect it to become so despite costs “going through the roof”.
“We work hard every single day to keep the prices at an economic level,” said Benn, as per the Irish Examiner. “I think we do that successfully which is why we have the equivalent of seven sold-out nights at Marlay Park. I think it’s a testament to how we work so hard to keep them down.”
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Enrique, Ricky Martin, Pitbull to co-headline tour
Enrique Iglesias, Ricky Martin, and Pitbull are teaming up for a co-headline arena tour across North America this autumn.
Produced by Live Nation, The Trilogy Tour will feature headline sets from each artist, starting at Washington, DC’s Capital One Arena on 14 October.
The 19-date run will go on to visit Toronto, Boston, New York, Chicago, Detroit, Miami, Dallas, Phoenix, Los Angeles and more before finishing up at Vancouver’s Rogers Arena on 10 December.
“It’s a true honour to tour with Enrique and Ricky, two music icons, who broke global music barriers for our culture and open doors for someone like myself,” says Pitbull, aka Armando Christian Perez. “We’re excited to take The Trilogy Tour around the world.”
“It’s going to be a once in a lifetime tour”
“I am incredibly excited to be going on tour with my friends Pitbull and Ricky. The Trilogy Tour will be an amazing experience for all of our fans,” adds Iglesias. “It’s going to be a once in a lifetime tour.”
Martin adds: “Going back on the road with not only Enrique, but now with Pitbull it’s very exciting. This tour will be a wild party from beginning to end so get ready, it’s going to be epic!”
A Verified Fan presale starts on Wednesday 7 June, with a general onsale starting Friday 9 June.
The full list of tour dates is as follows:
Sat Oct 14 – Washington, DC – Capital One Arena
Tue Oct 17 – Toronto, ON – Scotiabank Arena
Fri Oct 20 – Montreal, QC – Bell Centre
Sat Oct 21– Boston, MA – TD Garden
Thu Oct 26 – New York, NY – Madison Square Garden
Sat Oct 28 – Brooklyn, NY – Barclays Center
Wed Nov 01 – Chicago, IL – United Center
Fri Nov 03 – Detroit, MI – Little Caesars Arena
Thu Nov 09 – Orlando, FL – Amway Center
Fri Nov 10 – Miami, FL – Kaseya Center
Fri Nov 17 – Dallas, TX – American Airlines Center
Sat Nov 18 – Houston, TX – Toyota Center
Sun Nov 19 – San Antonio, TX – AT&T Center
Fri Nov 24 – Las Vegas, NV – T-Mobile Arena
Sat Nov 25 – Phoenix, AZ – Footprint Center
Thu Nov 30 – Los Angeles, CA – Crypto.com Arena
Wed Dec 06 – San Jose, CA – SAP Center
Fri Dec 08 – Seattle, WA – Climate Pledge Arena
Sun Dec 10 – Vancouver, BC – Rogers Arena
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BBC unveils expanded Glastonbury coverage
The BBC has unveiled full details of its Glastonbury 2023 coverage, revealing it will present more of the festival than ever before – both live and on-demand.
This year’s Glastonbury runs from 21-25 June, headlined by Elton John, Guns N’ Roses and Arctic Monkeys. Other acts on the line-up include Lana Del Rey, Lizzo, The War On Drugs, Chvrches, Lil Nas X, Christine And The Queens, Manic Street Preachers. and Yusuf/Cat Stevens, who has been booked for the coveted Legends Slot.
Queens of the Stone Age, Rick Astley, Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Tom Grennan were among the latest additions to the bill announced this week.
The BBC, which will continue to be Glastonbury’s exclusive, multimedia broadcast partner, following a recent multi-year extension, will present more than 40 hours of programming across its television channels as well as over 85 hours of live broadcasts on the BBC’s pop radio networks. It will launch its 2023 coverage with Lauren Laverne’s 6 Music breakfast show live from the Glastonbury gates from 7.30am to 10.30am on Wednesday 21 June.
“Glastonbury 2023 will have even more live coverage from site, including a record number of hours on BBC One,” says BBC director of music Lorna Clarke. “There will be more programming in the lead up, including an updated version of Glastonbury: 50 Years and Counting and more content to discover on BBC Sounds and BBC iPlayer. As always, scale and discovery is at the heart of our BBC Glastonbury coverage.
“We’ve worked in partnership with the BBC since 1997, and they’ve become an incredibly valuable part of what we do at Glastonbury”
“This year we’re proud to deliver over 40 hours of coverage across our TV channels to our audiences, as well as over 85 hours of live radio broadcasts, in addition to content on BBC Sounds. We’ll also be increasing the scale and accessibility of our BBC iPlayer offer, with even more themed and live streams.
“For the first time, we will be streaming Pyramid Stage performances live in British Sign Language, making our coverage more accessible than ever before. Our thanks once again go to Emily and Michael Eavis, for allowing us to bring their treasured festival to so many music fans throughout the weekend and beyond.”
New podcasts, collections and playlists will be available on BBC Sounds and BBC iPlayer will present an expanded, 12-day celebration of the festival, featuring over 40 hours of coverage on BBC iPlayer’s Glastonbury Channel, in addition to streams and classic Glastonbury performances.
“We’ve worked in partnership with the BBC since 1997, and they’ve become an incredibly valuable part of what we do at Glastonbury,” adds festival co-organiser Emily Eavis. “I think we’ve created something really special together and we’re delighted that they’re continuing to evolve their coverage with additions such as streaming Pyramid Stage performances live in British Sign Language. We’re looking forward to welcoming them to the farm in June and here’s to many more Glastonburys together.”
Glastonbury’s long-term future at Worthy Farm was secured earlier this year after it was granted permanent planning permission by the local council.
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Manchester prepares for ‘busiest day’ of music
Manchester is shaping up to host its “busiest day”, with headline shows by Coldplay, Arctic Monkeys and Elton John set to be held this weekend.
More than 300,000 concert-goers are expected in the city for shows by Coldplay at the 60,000-cap Etihad Stadium (31 May, 1, 3-4 June), Arctic Monkeys at the 50,000-cap Emirates Old Trafford (2-3 June) and Elton John at the 21,000-cap AO Arena (31 May, 2-3 June).
A free festival, We Invented the Weekend, is also taking place at MediaCity and Salford Quays from 3-4 June, while the first all-Manchester FA Cup Final between Manchester City and Manchester United will go ahead at Wembley Stadium in London on Saturday.
The weekend of events coincides with industrial action on the railways on 2-3 June, with people travelling into Manchester being urged to plan ahead by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM).
“We’re expecting this weekend, particularly Saturday, to be one of the busiest periods of the year in Manchester, with major events taking place and due to rail strikes we expect more people to travel on our region’s roads,” says Sean Dyball, TfGM’s head of customer experience.
“We are expecting major congestion on Saturday and we strongly encourage anyone travelling into the city centre to plan ahead”
“We are expecting major congestion on Saturday and we strongly encourage anyone travelling into the city centre to plan ahead and allow sufficient time for their journeys. People planning to drive should avoid the city centre and consider leaving their vehicle at a Park and Ride and using Metrolink to complete their journey.
“Throughout the weekend we will be constantly updating the customer information available on our website and across our social media channels to help people make informed journey choices, to save them time and avoid disruption to their journey.”
Other events being staged in the city include shows by Ricky Gervais, UB40 and Penn & Teller at O2 Apollo Manchester (cap. 3,500); Ziggy Alberts, North West Calling 2023 and Ice Nine Kills at Manchester Academy (2,600); and The Beat and Race Chaser Live at O2 Ritz Manchester (1,500).
The Manchester live network will be further bolstered this December with the opening of the UK’s largest live entertainment arena, Co-op Live. A joint venture between Oak View Group (OVG) and City Football Group (CFG), the venue will have a capacity of 23,500 and play host to over 120 shows annually at Manchester’s Etihad Campus.
Coldplay set Spanish stadium record
Coldplay continue to break records around the world after becoming the first band to sell out four nights at a Spanish stadium on a single tour.
The British group drew a total of 225,000 people to the Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys in Barcelona from 24-25 and 27-28 May, presented by Live Nation Spain, as part of their Music of the Spheres World Tour, reports APMusicales.
They also played two sellout shows at the venue, which has a capacity of around 56,000, during their previous A Head Full of Dreams tour in May 2016.
Kicking off in March 2022, the Music of the Spheres World Tour had sold more than six million tickets across Europe, North America, and Latin America at the last count.
Last year, Coldplay made history in Argentina by completing an unprecedented 10-night sellout run at the 65,000-cap Estadio River Plate in Buenos Aires
Last year, Coldplay made history in Argentina by completing an unprecedented 10-night sellout run at the 65,000-cap Estadio River Plate in Buenos Aires. The national record previously belonged to Roger Waters, who played nine shows at the venue in March 2012 during his The Wall Live tour.
Earlier this month, the band, whose international agent is X-ray Touring’s Josh Javor, announced they are returning to Asia and Australia this November for a special run of stadium shows, including their first Tokyo shows since 2017, their first ever dates in Kaohsiung, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur and a one-off performance at Perth’s Optus Stadium – their first in Western Australia since 2009.
Frontman Chris Martin recently responded to calls for the band to cancel their Malaysian date. Leader of the Malaysian Islamic Party (also known as PAS), Nasrudin Hassan, called for the 22 November show in Kuala Lumpur’s National Stadium Bukit Jalil to be called off.
Subscribers can revisit our in-depth look at the Music of the Spheres trek, first published in Issue 113 of IQ Magazine, here.
Gorillaz announce The Getaway US stadium dates
Gorillaz have announced The Getaway – a series of four US stadium shows scheduled for this autumn.
The Getaway, which will be the virtual band’s final run of American dates in support of their recently released album Cracker Island, will kick off on Sunday 10 September at BMO Stadium in Los Angeles.
The tour will then head to Q2 Stadium in Austin on 13 September and Credit 1 Union Amphitheatre in Chicago on 16 September, before wrapping up at Boston’s Fenway Park on 19 September. Support will come from Kaytranada, Lil Yachty and Remi Wolf.
The dates follow Gorillaz’ recent back-to-back Coachella performances and their 2022 world tour led by Damon Albarn and the 14-piece live band, aided and abetted by a varying cast of guest performers.
The full list of shows is as follows:
Sunday 10 September – Los Angeles, CA – BMO Stadium
Wednesday 13 September – Austin, TX – Q2 Stadium
Saturday 16 September – Chicago, IL – Credit Union 1 Amphitheatre
Tuesday 19 September – Boston, MA – Fenway Park
DG Medios warns of ticket scam ahead of RHCP gigs
Chilean promoter DG Medios has warned Red Hot Chili Peppers fans of a fake ticket scam operating ahead of the band’s Santiago shows later this year.
DF reports the firm has filed a criminal complaint after discovering counterfeit tickets being sold on social networks for the US rockers’ gigs at the 17,000-cap Movistar Arena on 19 and 21 November.
DG has identified the alleged perpetrator, who it claims modified tickets from a previous event and sold them on to multiple third parties. The firm says that an unknown number of fake VIP tickets had been sold for 95,000 pesos (€110) each.
Legitimate tickets for the RHCP shows are priced from 35,000 (€40) to 145,000 (€168) pesos.
The company has issued a statement to customers, advising them the only way to ensure their tickets are genuine is to buy them from official sources.
“We have discovered people deceiving fans and selling fake tickets to DG Medios concerts”
“We have discovered people deceiving fans and selling fake tickets to DG Medios concerts,” tweets the promoter. “Most of the people who carry out this action misuse the tickets and manage to deceive and defraud buyers, such as the [VIP] tickets that are being sold specifically for the Red Hot Chili Peppers show at the Movistar Arena.
“DG Medios has not delivered any ticket within this category, so we affirm that these tickets are false and will not be valid to enter any of the two shows scheduled in November.”
Founded by well known regional promoter Carlos Geniso, Santiago-based DG Medios has promoted shows by acts such as U2, the Rolling Stones, Guns N’ Roses, Paul McCartney and Justin Bieber. Live Nation acquired a majority stake in the company in 2019.
Red Hot Chili Peppers, who are represented by CAA’s Emma Banks outside North America, performed at the Hangout Music Festival in the US earlier this month, and have a summer festival slate including Pinkpop (Netherlands), Tinderbox (Denmark), Rock Werchter (Belgium), I-Days (Italy), NOS Live (Portugal) and Mad Cool (Spain). They will also headline stadiums in France, Austria and the UK.
In 2022, RHCP became the first rock band in 17 years to achieve two No.1 US albums in the same year, hitting the top spot with both Unlimited Love and Return of the Dream Canteen.
Download Germany 2023 cancelled
This year’s edition of Download in Germany, the second offshoot edition of the long-running UK rock festival brand, has been cancelled, with organisers citing production issues caused by a busy summer season.
Slipknot, Parkway Drive, Volbeat and The Prodigy were due to headline the event, which would’ve taken place over two days for the first time, from 23 and 24 June at the Hockenheimring, a motor racing circuit situated in the Rhine Valley near the town of Hockenheim.
“Despite the first-class line-up, the massive number of open-air events made organisation and implementation considerably more difficult this summer,” reads a statement from Download Germany organisers Live Nation GSA. “Unfortunately, the associated technical production obstacles proved to be insurmountable.”
Other major festivals that will not return in 2023 include Falls Festival (Australia), Rolling Loud (US), Summerburst (Sweden), Hills of Rock (Bulgaria), InMusic (Croatia), Wireless Germany, Hear Hear (Belgium) and Tempelhof Sounds and Tempelhof Sounds Presents (Germany).
FKP Scorpio CEO Folkert Koopmans recently laid bare the post-pandemic financial struggles faced by festivals, estimating that only 20% are still profitable.
Koopmans revealed that FKP’s flagship festival Hurricane lost money in 2022 despite selling out and warned that the sector is being “overwhelmed by spiralling costs”.
“The associated technical production obstacles proved to be insurmountable”
“We’re struggling with it, trying to keep the costs under control,” he said. “But it’s incredibly difficult. Of course, we also have an extremely high break-even point.”
Fellow German promoter DreamHaus (Rock am Ring/Rock im Park) previously revealed that production costs increased 25–30% for this year’s festival season.
“There are not that many suppliers that can supply festivals of our size so we’re also in a corner, where we can take it or leave it,” said DreamHaus’s Catharine Krämer.
“We could lower the cost of the whole festival experience but this would have a significant impact on the whole quality of it.”
Download Germany is the fourth sister event (after Melbourne, Sydney and Paris) of the UK’s premier rock festival, which returns next week for a 20th edition.
The anniversary event, which takes place over four days for the first time ever, became the fastest-selling in Download’s history.
More than 60 acts have been confirmed for Download Festival 2023, including headliners Bring Me The Horizon, Slipknot and Metallica, with the latter playing two unique sets on the Thursday and Saturday nights.
Architects, Evanescence, Disturbed, Placebo, Parkway Drive and Ghost are also billed to perform at the event, set for 8–11 June at Donington Park in Leicestershire.
Harry Styles breaks Scottish stadium record
Harry Styles has broken the record for the highest-selling stadium concert in Scottish history, according to the venue.
The 29-year-old, who is represented by CAA, drew 65,000 fans to Murrayfield in Edinburgh this past Saturday – breaking the previous best of 64,000 that the singer set with One Direction in 2014.
“Saturday night’s Harry Styles concert is the highest-selling stadium concert in Scotland ever with an attendance of over 65,000,” says a spokesperson for BT Murrayfield, who adds that the DF Concerts-promoted event was “fantastic”.
Styles’ Live Nation-promoted Love on Tour was the fourth highest-grossing in North America last year, delivering US$160.4 million at the box office from 47 shows, according to Pollstar. The star was also 2021’s top worldwide ticket seller, selling 669,051 tickets for a total gross of $86,723,984.
Love on Tour is due to finish up in Italy at the RCF Arena in Reggio Emilia on 22 July
The European leg continues this week with two shows at Stade de France in Paris (1-2 June), followed by three nights at Amsterdam’s Johan Cruyff Arena in the Netherlands (4-6 June).
The run then reverts to the UK and Ireland with dates at Slane Castle in Ireland (10 June), four shows at London’s Wembley Stadium (13-14 & 16-17 June) and a two-night stand at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium (20-21 June).
Love on Tour will continue with concerts in Belgium, Germany, Poland, Austria, Spain and Portugal before finishing up in Italy at the RCF Arena in Reggio Emilia on 22 July.
IQ 119 out now: Helene Fischer, Summer Marshall
IQ 119 – the latest issue of the international live music industry’s favourite magazine – is available to read online now.
The June 2023 issue sees us go behind the scenes of one of the biggest European tours of the year, as German superstar Helene Fischer’s daring Rausch Live tour hits the road. Plus, CAA agent Summer Marshall spills the beans to Lisa Henderson about her first 20 action-packed years in the music industry.
Adam Woods learns how live music’s corporate juggernauts are transforming Belgium’s independent landscape in our latest market report, while music’s specialist travel agents educate Gordon Masson on the challenges and opportunities for the sector in 2023.
Elsewhere, we preview 10 festivals planning to make their debut in 2023.
For this edition’s comments and columns, NEC Group’s Guy Dunstan reveals some of the challenges and trends that he and his team are identifying through venues customer feedback, and Steve Jenner examines the various areas where he believes artificial intelligence can deliver improvements to the live music industry.
The Your Shout panel, meanwhile, recall the funniest or most bizarre thing they’ve seen at a festival.
As always, the majority of the magazine’s content will appear online in some form in the next four weeks.
However, if you can’t wait for your fix of essential live music industry features, opinion and analysis, click here to subscribe to IQ from just £6.25 a month – or check out what you’re missing out on with the limited preview below: