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Superstruct expands in the Dutch festival market

Live powerhouse Superstruct Entertainment has acquired a stake in Amsterdam-based Festival Travel.

Specialising in festival holidays, Festival Travel has organised travel arrangements for international visitors to events such as Exit in Serbia and Hungary’s Sziget and Balaton Sound over the past decade.

Providence Equity-backed Superstruct produces a number of major European festivals including Sziget, Elrow, Parookaville, Wacken Open Air, Boardmasters, Sonar and the Dutch festival Zwarte Cross.

“It is very valuable to gain the trust of a company of this size”

“It is very valuable to gain the trust of a company of this size,” says Festival Travel co-owner Ruud Bongaerts. “The customer experience is always central to our way of acting and with that, we create unique festival summers for tens of thousands of young people every year.

“The past summers were of course very difficult for us, with everything that resulted from the corona pandemic, but this new chapter gives us a lot of confidence in the future.”

The parties released no further details on the deal, which was reported by Netherlands-based publication Entertainment Business and comes a week after Superstruct signed a partnership agreement with Dutch promoter ID&T.

 


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Grassroots venues kickstart the rest of the engine

It might seem a bit odd for Music Venue Trust (MVT), the charity that acts to protect, secure and improve grassroots music venues in the UK, to be hosting the closing night party of the International Festival Forum (IFF). Actually, it makes a lot more sense to us, and to you, than you might initially think.

Music Venue Trust has a pretty exclusive mission around the needs of live music venues at grassroots level, but that work doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Over the last 20 months, it has become incredibly clear, if it wasn’t already obvious, that grassroots music venues are part of a vast ecosystem.

If we think of that ecosystem as a car engine, in our view the grassroots sector is the ignition system. If we don’t have grassroots music venues, our whole industry doesn’t have anything to kickstart the rest of the engine with the constant high voltage surge of new talent.

Glastonbury or the O2 might be the engine block of UK live music but [they need] The Hull Adelphi to emit a spark every so often

All the shiny carburettors, radiators and camshafts are important – they do the work that moves us from point A to point B. But all of them will sit there idle if we don’t actually have anything that starts the engine in the first place.

Glastonbury or the O2 arena might be the engine block of UK live music, but unless The Hull Adelphi emits a spark every so often we should be imagining a future in which they are sitting idle in a garage somewhere gathering dust.

At MVT, we particularly like this laboured and slightly bloated metaphor because we often get the response that the car is motoring along just fine. Which it is, or at least was. In the UK we have an incredibly successful £5.4 billion a year industry that has been significantly exceeding any expectations across the world stage for almost sixty years.

But that vehicle was already in motion, already started. Our concern has always been what happens to the whole engine if we let the ignition system disappear. Frankly, we have just seen it turned off temporarily by the Covid crisis. The problems that provoked are wide-ranging and will have a deep impact on our industry for many years to come.

Ask the artists you headline at your festivals where they started and why they started. Festivals need [grassroots music venues]

In the Covid crisis, we had to deal with the very real prospect that 83% of all the grassroots music venues in the country could permanently close and never reopen.

The possible loss that represents of potential next festival headliners for everyone, not just in the UK but right around the world, should be enough to make us all pause and think again about the value of what we have at the grassroots, how interconnected all of us actually are.

When a grassroots music venue closes, it’s a disaster for the local community, which for us is enough of a reason to fight against it. But even if you’re not in that local community, and you don’t directly feel that loss immediately, you, the festival community, will feel it in the loss of potential talent in the future.

Ask the artists you headline at your festivals where they started and why they started. Festivals need this ignition system as much as record labels, publishers, streaming platforms.

The venues are the bricks and mortar space in which the whole ecosystem comes together to deliver events

MVT has been fighting the cause of preventing venue closures for nearly eight years now. In that time, our work has increasingly become about the whole ecosystem. Not just the venues.

The venues are the bricks and mortar space in which artists, crew, sound engineers, lighting techs, merch vendors, stagehands, promoters, bookers, agents, managers and the whole ecosystem comes together to deliver events.

If we were clever and wanted to get access to all the public funding grants being thrown at tech companies we would be calling them ‘Co-working Spaces Fostering Micro-Business Development’. Every part of our ecosystem leans on the ability of the others to work.

Revisiting our car engine, any part of the mechanism that has grit in it or isn’t able to function properly is a challenge to all of us. It was before the crisis, and led to the creation of Music Venue Trust, and we’ve seen it magnified to terrifying levels during, and after, Covid. A malfunctioning part of our ecosystem impacts on all of us struggling within it.

Festivals, programmers, bookers, agents, promoters, the core audience for the IFF, are a vital part of the grassroots ecosystem

Coming out of this crisis, MVT thought about these issues and forged a partnership with The National Lottery to create the Revive Live Tour. That programme offered support directly to artists, crew, agents and managers to get back out and playing in grassroots music venues.

It’s easy to understand why we, as a charity concerned for the future health of the grassroots music venues, would create such a programme to benefit our own specific sector of premises. But the programme was about much more than that. It was about restarting the whole of our ecosystem, recognising that the people who make up a functioning version of it needed support to restart it.

Festivals, festival programmers, bookers, agents, promoters, the core audience for the IFF, are a vital part of the grassroots ecosystem.

The person who operates the desk on a Friday night at a music venue in Cornwall has a portfolio career which is formed by that work and the work they get from you, our partners at festivals. They need all parts of our ecosystem to be firing and moving together to restart their careers.

See the artists currently blowing up on the grassroots circuit that you should be considering for your festival lineups

So we are delighted to be part of that story and to be joining you at the IFF this year. Our closing night party, presented in association with our colleagues at Allianz, is a chance to see the type of artists we have been supporting to get back to the careers they love.

We want to give you a chance to see the artists currently blowing up on the UK grassroots circuit that you should be thinking about for your festival lineups next year.

It will also be a chance to have the type of networking and discussion that we need to encourage, and have more of, between venues, festivals, agents, promoters, bookers as we strive to work together to recover from this crisis. All of us, the whole ecosystem. I’ll be at the bar. Let’s talk.

More information about how to attend IFF, along with the full event schedule, is online at www.iff.rocks.

 


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All change at Keychange after Maxie Gedge’s exit

UK-based gender equality initiative Keychange has announced a series of new appointments following the exit of project manager Maxie Gedge.

Three current PRS Foundation members of staff are to expand their roles at the organisation, with Francine Gorman becoming Keychange project manager (UK), Aysha Hussain made Keychange coordinator (UK) and Alison Williams switching from part-time to full-time PRS Foundation communications coordinator.

In addition, Barnaby Duff has come on board as PRS Foundation grants coordinator.

“I am delighted to welcome Francine, Aysha, Alison and Barnaby to their new and expanded roles,” says PRS Foundation CEO Joe Frankland.

“Following the departure of Maxie Gedge, who worked across both Keychange as a project manager and our communications team as a part-time coordinator, it’s fantastic that both Francine and Alison are expanding their current remits with the organisation and Aysha steps into a wider role that epitomises the collaborative, Europe-wide ethos of Keychange.

“And following a period of record demand for our funds, Barnaby will play a vital role in making sure we maintain a pioneering approach to grant-making, efficiently reaching and helping many talented music creators to fulfil their potential as possible. The skills, dedication and knowledge in their respective areas will be a huge asset to the organisation going forward.”

“The impact of Maxie’s work at PRS Foundation over the past five years has been huge”

Frankland also paid tribute to Gedge, who has joined Secretly Group as European project manager.

“I and the whole PRS Foundation team wish Maxie the best in her new role at Secretly Group. The impact of Maxie’s work at PRS Foundation over the past five years has been huge and through Keychange she has really helped to move the dial for women and gender minority artists and innovators around the world,” he said.

“While all at PRS Foundation and Keychange are sad to see her go, we will continue to connect and know that in this exciting new role at Secretly Group, Maxie will continue to shape a stronger, fairer music industry.”

Keychange recently confirmed that 500 music organisations have now committed themselves to achieve parity between men and women and non-binary people by signing its pledge.

The Keychange pledge requires signatories to achieve at least 50% representation of women and gender minorities in an area of their work.

Launched in 2017, Keychange initially focused on festivals – with signatory festivals pledging to book at least 50% of women for their line-ups – and now also includes record labels, broadcasters, venues, publishers, collection societies and orchestras in six continents among its supporters.

 


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Giddings blasts ‘joke’ government insurance scheme

Isle Of Wight Festival promoter John Giddings has criticised the British government’s long-awaited reinsurance scheme for live events.

The £800 million scheme, which opened yesterday (22 September), will cover costs incurred if an event has to be cancelled, postponed, relocated or abandoned due to a government-imposed lockdown in response to Covid-19.

The cover, which is a partnership between the government and the Lloyd’s of London insurance market, is now available to purchase alongside standard commercial events insurance for an additional premium.

However, Solo Agency boss Giddings tells IQ he believes the cover did not meet requirements.

“I think it’s a joke,” he says. “They want far too much money and there are too many caveats in it. I think they just keep paying us lip service like they have done all the way down the line.”

“[The British government] want far too much money and there are too many caveats in [the insurance scheme]”

Premium is set at 5% of the total value of insured costs (plus Insurance Premium Tax) and claims will be subject to an excess of 5% of the value of the insured costs or £1,000 (whichever is higher) per policy.

However, the scheme will not cover loss of revenue due to lower demand for tickets, reduced venue capacity, or self-isolation of staff or performers. “It was financially impossible and it didn’t cover the things it needed to cover,” adds Giddings.

On a brighter note, Giddings says last weekend’s return of the Isle Of Wight Festival, headlined by Liam Gallagher, Snow Patrol, David Guetta and Duran Duran, could not have gone better.

“It was incredible,” he says. “It was four days of sunshine, all the bands turned up and the audience were gagging for it. We had incredible demand and the audience were incredibly excited about being out in the open air again.

“It was complete absolute, utter luck on our behalf that the weekend in June we should have done it poured with rain every day and the dates in September, the sun shone every day and it was like an Indian summer.”

“Somebody said to me, ‘What do you think about 50,000 people in a field?’ and I said, ‘Well, it’s safer than going to the supermarket.’”

The 2021 event was switched to September due to the pandemic, but will return to its traditional weekend next year from June 16-19. The 2022 line-up is due to be unveiled on Monday morning (September 27).

“When it was obvious June was going to be a problem this year, we took the executive decision to move to September, so that we didn’t have to move another year,” explains Giddings. “We certainly had good ticket sales and a very excitable audience, but it’s such a gamble with the weather, that’s the problem.

“The good news was it got darker earlier, so the top three acts played in darkness as opposed to the top one and a half acts. But it does get cold at night, I have to say.”

In line with government guidelines, ticket-holders were required to either be double-jabbed at least 14 days before the festival, proof of a negative lateral flow test or an exemption in order to be permitted entry.

“Everybody was willing to do it and they expected it. It was a collective responsibility,” says Giddings. “Somebody said to me, ‘What do you think about 50,000 people in a field?’ and I said, ‘Well, it’s safer than going to the local supermarket.’”

 


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UK’s £800m government insurance scheme opens

The British government’s highly anticipated £800 million insurance scheme for live events is now open.

The Live Events Reinsurance Scheme, announced at the beginning of August, will cover costs incurred if an event has to be cancelled, postponed, relocated or abandoned due to a government-imposed lockdown in response to Covid-19.

The cover, which is a partnership between the government and the Lloyd’s of London insurance market, is now available to purchase alongside standard commercial events insurance for an additional premium.

To be eligible, event organisers must purchase the relevant cover from participating insurers within the scheme, including Arch, Beazley, Dale, Hiscox and Munich Re.

Organisers must also have or purchase a standard events cancellation policy (or a policy that includes event cancellation coverage) provided at least in part by a participating insurer.

“This is an important and valuable step in the right direction and provides additional security as we head into autumn and winter”

The indemnification must be purchased at least eight weeks prior to the event taking place. This requirement will not apply for the first 12 weeks of the scheme, which starts today (22 September 2021) and runs until the end of September 2022.

Premium is set at 5% of the total value of insured costs (plus Insurance Premium Tax) and claims will be subject to an excess of 5% of the value of the insured costs or £1,000 (whichever is higher) per policy.

The scheme will not cover loss of revenue due to lower demand for tickets, reduced venue capacity, or self-isolation of staff or performers.

“The live music industry welcomes the introduction of a government-backed insurance scheme, which we have been calling for since the start of the pandemic,” says a spokesperson from Live, (Live music Industry Venues and Entertainment) – which has been pushing for government-guaranteed insurance since at least this time last year.

“While there are still gaps in the cover available, such as for an artist withdrawal due to catching Covid or enforced social distancing, this is an important and valuable step in the right direction and provides additional security as we head into autumn and winter. After a year of almost total shutdown the industry needs a period of time where it can get back on its feet by provide the live experiences that fans are desperate for.”

Full details of the Live Events Reinsurance Scheme are available here.

 


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Spain’s Arenal Sound festival sells out in seven hours

Tickets for next year’s Arenal Sound festival in Spain sold out in less than seven hours, organisers have announced.

Held in the coastal town of Burriana, near Valencia, the event will return from August 2-7, 2022 after the last two editions were cancelled due to the pandemic.

Promoted by The Music Republic, acts will include Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, C. Tangana, Ñengo Flow, DVBBS, Mike Williams, Bad Gyal, Lola Índigo, Rels B, Morad, and Omar Montes, with more to be confirmed.

All general sale and VIP tickets have already been snapped up, with tickets for the rest areas and complementary products to go on sale soon.

Arenal Sound’s 10th anniversary 2019 festival attracted an estimated 300,000 people over the course of the event to see artists such as Thirty Seconds To Mars and Martin Garrix.

Owned by brothers David and Toño Sánchez, The Music Republic promotes festivals such as Viña Rock, Granada Sound and Madrid Salvaje and also acquired Benicassim Festival from Madrid-based Maraworld in 2019.

GEI Summer Edition saw industry “come of age”

The 14th edition of the Green Events and Innovations (GEI) conference saw the industry “come of age” on the subject of sustainability, according to the organisers.

Thursday’s (16 September) conference, presented by A Greener Festival (AGF) and the International Live Music Conference (ILMC), was the first-ever Summer Edition of GEI, with the virtual event supported by a raft of sponsors including Ecotricity, Live Nation, Res, Ticketmaster, Solcell and The Virtual Venue.

The event followed a hybrid model, with some speakers coming together at PYTCH’s Virtual Venue in Bristol, powered by 100% renewable energy. Others joined from their homes and were broadcast live to delegates from around the world.

“We had such a great time delivering the first hybrid GEI Summer Edition. Live speakers connected with powerful and inspiring individuals and organisations from all around the world, and a truly international interactive audience,” says AGF co-founder Claire O’Neill.

“Considering the crucial topics that GEI addresses, this global collaboration is heartwarming and hopeful, to say the least. With 14 years of GEI under our belts, it feels like the industry is coming of age on the subject of sustainability and the next step is to use our unparalleled power of communication connect these messages with the masses.”

“The next step is to use our unparalleled power of communication connect these messages with the masses”

The speaker line-up was packed with industry titans including Nuno Bettencourt (Extreme), Dale Vince (Ecotricity/Forest Green Rovers), Dave Ojay (NAAM Festival), Amber Etre (Christie Lites), Fay Milton (Savages/Music Declares Emergency) and Celia Palau Lodge (Cooking Vinyl Records).

Samm Farai Monro (Magamba Network), Meegan Jones (Sustainable Event Alliance/Great Ocean Race), Stuart McPherson (KB Event) and Jamal Chalabi (Backlash Productions) also topped the bill.

Highlights from the Summer Edition included an exclusive first look at LIVE Green’s declaration and voluntary charter and a follow-up discussion between John Langford (Live Green/ AEG Europe), Stuart Galbraith (Kilimanjaro Live), Clementine Bunel (Paradigm), artist Sam Lee and Chiara Badiali (Julie’s Bicycle).

Also featured at the conference was a presentation of a new roadmap for greener events, following the recent publication of research conducted by scientists at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research under commission by Massive Attack.

The wider programme included panels on greener arenas and vendors as well as ‘ask the expert’ sessions, a quick-fire innovation round and deep dives on carbon removals and value chain planning for events.

AGF is now looking towards returning to live events with the next GEI Conference set to take place in March 2022. Find out more about the work of AGF at agreenerfestival.com.


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Tomorrowland doubles up on festivals for 2022

Following a successful debut in 2019, Tomorrowland has announced the return of its winter edition for next March.

Tomorrowland Winter will take place at the Alpe d’Huez ski resort in the French Alps between 19–26 March 2022.

The first names for the festival have been announced today (16 September), with Adriatique, Afrojack, Armin van Buuren, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Kungs, Lost Frequencies, Martin Solveig, Ofenbach, Paul Kalkbrenner, Quintino and Yves V all set to perform.

Tickets for the winter edition will go on sale on Saturday (18 September). Find out more information about the festival here.

Tomorrowland is also set to bring back its annual flagship festival next year, following two consecutive cancellations due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The 70,000-capacity electronic dance festival will take place from 22–24 and 29–31 July 2022 at its usual location in Boom, Belgium. The line-up for the festival is yet to be announced.

 


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Belgium’s inaugural Arena 5 concert series draws 50,000

The inaugural edition of Belgium’s Arena 5 concert series drew around 50,000 people over the course of seven weeks.

The series was the initiative of Brussels Expo, Ghent-based promoter/agency Greenhouse Talent and Festival Les Ardentes who built a brand new stage for the festival at the Place de Belgique, among the exhibition halls of Brussels Expo.

Having launched Arena 5 in July, the promoters were frequently forced to adapt the festival in line with ever-changing Covid-19 restrictions.

“Flexibility of capacity and configuration has proven to be a major asset in the face of rapidly changing health measures,” says Greenhouse Talent.

“”Flexibility of capacity and configuration has proven to be a major asset in the face of rapidly changing health measures”

“The first concerts in July began in front of a seated audience and with respect for social distancing. In August, the green light was given for the organisation of a test event where more than 5,000 fans of techno were able to unleash for the first time without masks or social distancing thanks to the Covid Safe Ticket. It was a successful event, which marked the start of a series of other parties with even more people – up to 7,500 people.”

SCH, Peggy Gou, Feu Chatterton, Hooverphonic, Amelie Lens, Charlotte De Witte, Peggy Gou, 2ManyDjs and Tale of Us were among the international and domestic acts that performed at Arena 5 between 22 July and concluded on 12 September.

The organisers have confirmed that Arena 5 will return in summer 2022 for a second edition.

 


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ID&T joins forces with Superstruct Entertainment

Dutch promoter ID&T has signed a partnership agreement with leading live organisation Superstruct Entertainment.

According to today’s announcement, the deal has helped steer ID&T into “a safe haven” after a tough year and a half that saw the company take out a number of loans, slash its workforce, and cancel its festivals.

“By creating this financially sound situation, we have secured the employment of our 100+ employees and are able to move forward with our suppliers who are also struggling at this time,” says Ritty van Straalen, CEO of the ID&T Group.

Financial terms of the partnership have not been disclosed but it has been revealed that the founders and senior management of the ID&T Group have become shareholders in Superstruct.

Providence Equity-backed Superstruct produces a number of major festivals across Europe including Sziget, Elrow, Parookaville, Wacken Open Air, Boardmasters, Sonar and the Dutch festival Zwarte Cross – the company’s first acquisition since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020.

ID&T’s portfolio includes Mysteryland, Defqon.1, Awakenings, and Milkshake – all of which have been cancelled two years in a row due to restrictions.

It is also the parent company of organisations such as Q-dance, ID&T Events, B2S, Monumental (Awakenings), Art of Dance, Platinum Agency, and Headliner Entertainment.

“ID&T is a significant milestone for Superstruct and reflects our deep conviction in the value of experience-focused festivals”

James Barton, chairman of Superstruct Entertainment: “We are very excited to join forces with ID&T, a business that I have long admired. Our partnership with ID&T is a very significant milestone for Superstruct and reflects our deep conviction in the value of experience-focused live music festivals and our excitement about the significant joint growth opportunities that lie ahead as live events return.”

The companies say the deal will provide great opportunities in sharing knowledge and creating synergies between the companies to further improve the fan experience at their festivals.

Ritty van Straalen, CEO of the ID&T Group adds: “ID&T will celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2022. This partnership is an important strategic step in the development of our company, which we already embarked upon in 2019, pre-covid, and was ultimately delayed by 1.5 years.

“The past 19 months have been very tough for us and the entire event industry, but we are excited to see that Superstruct has been able to look through the current environment, recognising the combined potential of these two world-class companies.

“The international live events industry is increasingly consolidating and Superstruct has developed itself into a high quality, market-leading powerhouse in our industry. We are happy to be part of such an experienced group and strongly believe we can reinforce each other in many ways.”

 


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