Belgium's live sector may be open for business but sales are reportedly deadlocked due to the number of tickets that still need to be rebooked
Sign up for IQ Index
The latest industry news to your inbox.
AEG's CEO of European festivals Jim King speaks to IQ about the monster success of BST Hyde Park's 10th anniversary edition
By James Hanley on 13 Jul 2023
AEG Presents’ Jim King has reflected on the success of BST Hyde Park’s 10th anniversary edition, telling IQ the event enjoyed its biggest year of ticket sales yet.
Presented by American Express, the acclaimed London concert series was headlined by Guns N’ Roses, Take That, Blackpink, Billy Joel and Lana Del Rey – plus two nights each from Pink and Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band – from 24 June to 9 July.
Around 550,000 tickets were sold for the festival, topping the previous best of 530,000 set in 2022 – an edition that starred the likes of the Rolling Stones, Elton John, Adele and the Eagles.
“I never thought I’d be able to say we sold more tickets than last year, but we sold more tickets than we’ve ever sold before. It’s incredible, everybody sold out,” says King.
“You can go to any arena or stadium in the world and you’ll have these great moments with your favourite artists, but – and I’m biased when I say this – something different happens in Hyde Park. It’s just this magical space. There’s a different energy created there and I hope that we play a positive role in helping that.
“Hyde Park it is one of the true great parks in the world and I find those performances with these great artists connect stronger with fans when you get those great summer evenings, in the heart of London, and I think that’s what we saw.”
“It was important that we widened our lens in how we looked at the selection of our headliners”
AEG’s CEO of European festivals, King is full of praise for this year’s artists, singling out newer headliners Blackpink and Lana Del Rey, alongside the established greats.
“It was important that we widened our lens in how we looked at the selection of our headliners,” he says. “Having a K-pop band headline a UK festival for the very first time and deliver a great show was an important moment for us. And personally, I was looking forward to Lana Del Rey so much because she doesn’t tour very often and we’d tried so hard to get her to play. It’s a big risk for any artist to come and headline a Hyde Park show, especially for the first time, and it was announced quite late, compared to other shows, but it sold out instantly.
“Ultimately, we’re there to ensure that that great connection when the artist sings their first note or plays their first chord, that that next 90 minutes, two hours, or three hours in the case of many, is spellbinding, memorable and emotional, and that the artists and their fans will remember for a very long time. And when Lana came out, the sense of anticipation in the air from the fans was palpable. I thought it was one of the great Hyde Park shows for that energy and connectivity.”
For the second year in a row, the festival took place across three weekends, comprising nine concerts instead of the previous six.
“Three weekends is a challenge,” admits King. “It’s nine shows, so the obvious point to raise is that we’ve got to book nine headliners. It used to be hard to book six – it used be hard to book three in the early days! And the best artists have a plethora of choices for where they wish to play, so I think it’s important to remind everybody that we don’t choose the artists, the artists choose us.
“It’s not like any promoter walks into a supermarket and fills their their trolley with two artists from the top shelf, three from the middle and four from the bottom, it’s the other way around – it’s the artist walking into the supermarket and choosing.”
He adds: “I think it’s a really good event for fans to come to and artists like coming and it’s a prestigious show for them to play – not many people get to headline Hyde Park in their career – but we’re certainly not resting on our laurels.”
“The supply chain is getting back to normal after being in a very different state coming out of Covid”
The 65,000-cap event was preceded by classical show All Things Orchestral on 23 June, presented by Myleene Klasse and featuring Alfie Boe and the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra. General admission ticket prices were set at £11.45 in a bid to “bring classical music back for all”.
“We had great attendances for Open House, our midweek programme, and were very happy to launch All Things Orchestral this year with [AEG artistic director] Lucy Noble joining us from the Royal Albert Hall, which was an idea that had been on the shelf for us to do for many years and I mentioned it to Lucy when she joined. It was just a germ of an idea but she pulled it together really quickly, and with such skill and quality.
“It was what we want to do at BST, which is ensure we have a wide-ranging festival that appeals to everybody. I thought that was another real highlight of this year. I was really pleased with the way it went and credit to her.”
Having launched in 2013, BST was celebrating its 10th anniversary and has hosted acts such Taylor Swift, the Rolling Stones, Elton John, Adele, The Who, Bob Dylan & Neil Young, Justin Bieber, Tom Petty, Carole King, Barbra Streisand, Eric Clapton and Paul Simon. Wrapping up, King speaks of his ambitions for the event moving forward.
“We set very high standards in terms of what we want to organise and what we want to deliver,” he says. “The supply chain is getting back to normal after being in a very different state coming out of Covid. That has been the challenge for the last 18 months and I think we’ve met that.
“I’m still excited about how far we can push to experience, how great we can make it for artists to come in, and how great we can make it for fans coming to London for the very first time, so I like those challenges. We’re in a good state; we love what we do and we’re very fortunate to be able to do it.”
Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.