x

The latest industry news to your inbox.


I'd like to hear about marketing opportunities

    

I accept IQ Magazine's Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

Living La Vida Local: Latin America market report

Latin America’s rise up the ranks has seen it go from backwater to wild west to a number of must-visit territories boasting ever-expanding tour routings that are attracting multi-billion dollar infrastructure investments. And even when economic woes hit hard, as they regularly do, live music continues to prosper. IQ reports.

It’s easy to forget, in times of sold-out stadiums, gleaming new arenas, and heavyweight tours that surge through multiple cities in multiple countries across the entire region, that Latin America wasn’t always like this.

“In days gone by, when I first started working in the region, a tour of Latin America would often be five shows,” says Bruce Moran, Live Nation’s long-serving president, Latin America. “It would be Mexico City, São Paulo and Rio, Santiago, and Buenos Aires, then they’d call it a day and fly back to London or Los Angeles.”

It’s not like that now, as travelling Anglo giants devote weeks and months to thorough explorations of Latin America, while Mexico, Puerto Rico, Colombia, and Argentina lead the line in propagating their own mainstream stars, from Bad Bunny to Karol G to Peso Pluma to Duki.

Even in a year that is witnessing a relative easing-off in many territories, amid an austerity-driven slump in Argentina and economic caution elsewhere, you don’t need to look back far at all for snapshots of a musical boom time.

Take your pick from the star-studded ‘Glastonbury meets Disneyland’ 2023 debut of The Town in São Paulo, or Mexican-Puerto Rican star Luis Miguel’s 20 sold-out arena shows in Buenos Aires and Santiago last August and September to open his 2023-24 tour – a jamboree that later returned for nearly 50 more stadium and arena shows across the entire landmass.

“Artists are prepared to devote more time to the region now, and we are all the better for it”

Or you might go for Los Fabulosos Cadillacs playing before 300,000 in Mexico City’s Zócalo square last summer for a record-breaking free show; or Madonna, just the other week, playing to a million on Rio’s Copacabana Beach.

In other words, Latin America is a big, diverse place, and from Mexico City down to Buenos Aires, from Puerto Rico to São Paulo, it has gone madder than ever for music in the past few years.

Over the past half-decade or so, a huge region with just a handful of purpose-built arenas has acquired an entire network of them, from the phenomenally busy Movistar Arenas of Buenos Aires, Bogotá, and Santiago to the Antel Arena in Montevideo, Uruguay; Arena 1 in Lima, Peru, and Coliseo Voltaire Paladines Polo in Guayaquil, Ecuador.

There are more coming, too, including a new 20,000-cap arena in São Paulo, an arena in the Colombian second city of Medellín and, it is rumoured, new halls in Guatemala and Lima. A happy combination of audience demand and an ever-intensifying supply of arena-fillers from Latin and Anglo talent pools have made the case.

“We have expanded the map,” says Moran. “Artists are prepared to devote more time to the region now, and we are all the better for it. And with the increased show volume, there’s been an improvement in the quality of production we are able to source locally throughout the region. Artists are not concerned that you are not going to be able to secure the right stage system for them in these countries, because we do.”

As the regional opportunity has become ever-more evident, promoters have bulked up to meet it. Live Nation has become the region’s leading operator, having acquired Mexican market-leader OCESA in 2021, Argentina’s DF Entertainment in 2018, Chile’s DG Medios in 2019 and, through OCESA, Colombia’s Páramo Presenta in 2023, while building its own market-leading business in Brazil under Alexandre Faria.

“Looking at the region as a whole, this year, Puerto Rico and Costa Rica have performed incredibly well for us”

“We have a great group of very smart promoters,” says Moran. “It’s been fun.”

And increasingly, other giants are rolling in. In March, AEG Presents made its biggest Latin move to date, acquiring an undisclosed stake in the powerful Latin entertainment company Cárdenas Marketing Network (CMN). Chicago-based CMN, which is the power behind the ongoing Luis Miguel tour, has ascended to the upper ranks of global promoters in recent years, promoting tours by Marc Anthony, Bad Bunny, J Balvin, Daddy Yankee, and others.

Likewise, Move Concerts, the region’s biggest independent, based in Miami with offices in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Peru, and Puerto Rico, goes from strength to strength, with shows and tours for artists including Bad Bunny, Louis Tomlinson, Interpol, Keane, and Iron Maiden.

Surveying the market, Move Concerts CEO Phil Rodriguez sees underlying sturdiness, accompanied by certain economic challenges. Brazil has cooled a little, he notes, while Argentina lives in its own bubble of new-regime chaos, but there are still some distinct stars.

“Looking at the region as a whole, this year, Puerto Rico and Costa Rica have performed incredibly well for us,” says Rodriguez. “El Salvador has done an incredible turnaround in terms of its economy and public safety. Chile has performed consistently well, although the exchange rate has gone up for the first time in years. Colombia and Peru are definitely going through a bit of a downturn, particularly with the mid- and lower-level shows.”

Since 2019, Move has operated a joint venture with another ambitious independent, US entertainment and sports company Loud And Live, whose CEO Nelson Albareda was last year named Billboard Latin Power Player Executive of the Year.

“I think the important thing about Latin is that it’s now gone global”

The international success of Latin music, Albareda notes, now requires an approach that straddles not only territories but continents, which favours heavily networked promoters.

“I think the important thing about Latin is that it’s now gone global,” he says. “You look at the promoter world, you’ve got the AEGs and the Live Nations continuing to grow globally, and we as independent promoters need to continue to grow as well. So that means that I can’t just look at one market, because I’ve got to compete against global offers. As independents, we’ve got to come together to be competitive against the Live Nations and the AEGs.”

So, all the ambition is there, but in the short term, there are one or two waves to ride out, including an economic slow-down across much of the region, which has, hopefully temporarily, dampened a little of the post-Covid live boom.

“I think all the promoters had a very busy post-pandemic ride with lots of sold-out tours,” says veteran pan-Latin American promoter Jose Muniz of Mercury Concerts. “But although the market is still solid, there should be some concern due to the high inflation and less disposable income. And we are still battling the craziness of suppliers, who are raising prices on a monthly basis.”

Brazil
The years since Covid have represented something of a high-water mark for the Brazilian live business, but you won’t find many promoters who haven’t noticed a certain softness to the market in 2024.

“Brazil is doing well as a whole, but the impact of inflation has trimmed a bit of the excitement of a year ago,” says Rodriguez. “That said, it is a monster market due to its size, which makes it more resilient than the other smaller markets.”

“I feel that people are paying more attention to their pockets, and there isn’t enough money for the quantity of shows that are coming down”

Luiz Oscar Niemeyer, CEO and president of Bonus Track Entretenimento, concurs. “The market slowed down a bit this year,” he says. “On the one hand, there are not as many artists on tour as we had last year, and on the other, the public is not as eager to attend everything as last year. But anyway, we are back to the same place we were before Covid-19. The good side is to see several Brazilian artists playing stadiums, showing the development of local production and the high interest in Brazilian music.”

In a year of elections, Brazil, like Argentina, is negotiating the bumpy landing stage, as returning president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, widely known as Lula, attempts to push through a range of reforms and consumers keep a close eye on their spending.

“The first trimester of this year has been a bit calmer [than 2023],” says former Move Concerts promoter André Matalon, now of Music On Events, launched in 2021 with fellow ex-Move man William Crunfli, whose recent shows have included Luis Miguel at Allianz Parque and the South American tour of Roberto Carlos.

“There’s an economic crisis, things are settling down with the new president, and I feel that people are paying more attention to their pockets, and there isn’t enough money for the quantity of shows that are coming down and the quantity of festivals we have as well,” he says.

So, this is a little slump, but Brazil has a momentum that isn’t easily halted, and critical investment in the live market, along with positive economic projections, already point to better things.

The economic engine and foremost live city of Brazil is São Paulo, a true giant, with 12m inhabitants in the city proper, around 23m inhabitants in its urban area, and 33m in its extended metropolitan area.

“São Paulo is still the biggest market. Rio is still big, but Curitiba has grown a lot”

In spite of its status as the biggest live music city in South America, São Paulo has somehow come all this way without a modern arena. But Live Nation, Oak View Group, and GL Events are in the process of constructing a 20,000-cap, state-of- the-art building in São Paulo’s Anhembi District, where the carnival parade takes place. The arena is widely seen as perhaps the biggest missing piece of a map of modern arenas that spans the continent.

Stadium shows also do good business in Brazil, and late last year, Live Nation agreed an exclusive five-year deal with São Paulo FC to run concerts at the Brazilian football club’s Morumbi Stadium, which has previously hosted acts such as Madonna, U2, Beyoncé, the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Bruno Mars, Coldplay, and Lady Gaga.

One of São Paulo’s two other major football stadiums, Allianz Parque (also known as Arena Palmeiras), has in recent months welcomed the Jonas Brothers, Twice, Titãs, 30e/Basic Track shows for Paul McCartney and Roger Waters, and three dates of Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour, promoted in Brazil by T4F.

Always a vast and diversified music market, Brazil has numerous centres, though the touring hierarchy has been fairly fixed. But these days, where international tours are concerned, other cities are jostling for position behind São Paulo.
“São Paulo is still the biggest market,” says Matalon. “Rio is still big, but Curitiba has grown a lot; Curitiba used to be the fourth market of Brazil, Pôrto Alegre was the third, but I think that in some cases Curitiba tends to be the second market in Brazil nowadays.”

Bruce Moran, who brought Coldplay through Curitiba’s Estádio Couto Pereira for two nights in March last year – in-between six at São Paulo’s Estádio do Morumbi and three at Rio’s Estádio Olímpico Nilton Santos – isn’t taking sides, but he agrees that Curitiba, 400km south-west of São Paulo and one of Brazil’s safest cities, is a fruitful spot. “It’s been a solid market, it really has,” he says.

Since establishing its own operation in Brazil in 2017, following the expiry of its long-term relationship with South American titan T4F, Live Nation has become the major market force, staging Lollapalooza Brazil in March with Blink-182, SZA, Paramore, and Sam Smith on the bill and selling 420,000 tickets for the inaugural edition of Rock in Rio founder Roberto Medina’s the Town Music and Art Festival in São Paulo.

“It is still difficult to do a precise budget as the production cost increase after Covid-19 still presents surprises in certain areas”

Other Live Nation shows coming and going in recent months include Red Hot Chili Peppers, Twice, Metallica, the Jonas Brothers, Tom Jones, and a homegrown vintage double bill of Caetano Veloso and his sister Maria Bethânia. “Brazilian music legends, 15 shows, primarily in stadiums, and they have all sold out,” says Moran.

Former T4F executive Niemeyer has promoted some of the biggest concerts in Brazilian history, including the Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney, and added to his tally in May with a show by Madonna on Copacabana Beach – the biggest show of her career.

“It was a free show to the public, and we had more than 1.6 million people on the beach,” says Niemeyer.

Bonus Track is behind a plan to revive the name of Rio de Janeiro’s iconic Canecão arena, with the construction of a brand-new 6,000-capacity arena on the Praia Vermelha Campus, which is owned by the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. The new arena is projected to open in 2025 and will host around 120 concerts per year.

Niemeyer is also responsible, with big-hitting upstart 30e, for the two-centre MITA (Music is The Answer) festival, held in Rio and São Paulo, which in recent years has taken its place alongside Rock in Rio, The Town, Lollapalooza, and Primavera Sound as one of Brazil’s most prominent festivals, but which announced a pause in 2024.

“Promoters are still battling with supplier prices,” says Niemeyer of the market in general. “It is still difficult to do a precise budget as the production cost increase after Covid-19 still presents surprises in certain areas.”

“We are seeing the festivals, even the big ones, struggling to find headliners”

On the festival front, Brazilian festivals, like those of most countries, are feeling the effects of the trend for headline stadium shows.

“The Brazilian festival business, like everywhere else in the world, has been impacted by higher costs, competition for talent, and more festivals in the market,” says Rodriguez.

Muniz agrees. “We are seeing the festivals, even the big ones, struggling to find headliners,” he says. “There are just not enough artists available and a lot of them are deciding to hit the road with their own stadium tours instead.”

A significant new entrant to the Brazilian scene is sometime Bonus Track partner 30e, which consciously positions itself as “the new generation of live entertainment.” In addition to several festival brands, including MITA, Ultra Brasil, and Knotfest Brasil – 30e has recently been responsible for the Encontro Tour of reunited Brazilian rock legends Titãs, and younger rockers NX Zero’s Tour Cedo ou Tarde.

Mexico
Mexico City, too, loves a big show. Last year, the 65,000-cap Foro Sol, which is operated by Live Nation-backed OCESA, ranked number-one for ticket sales on Pollstar’s year-end worldwide stadium tickets chart and number two in stadium grosses, generating over $170m.

Among the highlights, were four dates for Taylor Swift and three nights for Depeche Mode, as well as concerts by Paul McCartney, Muse, Blackpink, Lana Del Rey, The Weeknd, Arctic Monkeys, Billie Eilish, Post Malone, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rauw Alejandro, Imagine Dragons, Mötley Crüe & Def Leppard, and Peso Pluma, not to mention local and regional stars including Grupo Frontera, Rels B, Feid, Molotov, and Siddhartha.

“It turned out that 2023 was bigger than 2022, and 2024 is going to be as big as 2023. And the expectations for 2025 are huge”

2023’s Foro Sol bonanza was the extravagant crowning glory of a Mexican live scene that hasn’t paused for breath since the end of Covid.

“After the pandemic, we all thought that 2022 was going to be the huge year but that year would be an exception,” says Memo Parra, OCESA’s director of international events. “But in the end, it turned out that 2023 was bigger than 2022, and 2024 is going to be as big as 2023. And the expectations for 2025 are huge.”

Festivals are the other major strand of OCESA’s business. “The first semester of 2024, we already had EDC, which had its best year ever. We’ve had Pa’l Norte [in Monterrey], which was completely sold out; Viva Latino was completely sold out. We just announced one that is called Tecate Emblema, which is happening in May [with Enrique Iglesias and Robbie Williams], and so far with 30% better ticket sales than last year.

And we’re just waiting to announce Corona Capital, which is the biggest festival in Mexico. And we have another huge reggaeton themed festival that is called Flow, which will also get announced pretty soon.”

So, what is Mexico’s secret, besides a vast capital city, a clutch of sturdy venues, a historically healthy peso-dollar exchange rate, and a decent economy?

“I think it’s a mixture of things,” says Parra, “but a big part of it was that people learned from Covid that they want to go out and they want to live their lives in the moment, they don’t want to wait for anything.”

“It looks like the stadium shows are coming back, because a lot of the acts that I’m going to get in 2025 are the ones that were touring North American in 2024”

This year, Foro Sol is closed for a refurb from February to September, and the flow of international stadium-fillers has briefly slowed. Nonetheless, says Parra, there is plenty of other business around to make up the shortfall.

“It’s looking good,” he says. “We have more arena shows than in 2023. We’re lacking the big stadiums because everybody hit Mexico in 2023, but overall, it looks good. And 2025 looks real, real good. It looks like the stadium shows are coming back, because a lot of the acts that I’m going to get in 2025 are the ones that were touring North American in 2024. So I will be on the tail part of the cycle.”

Kicking things off a few months early, Metallica will relaunch Foro Sol when they bring their M72 World Tour to the venue on 20 and 22 September, playing completely different setlists on each night.

Though OCESA has a way of dominating the conversation where Mexico’s live business is concerned, the country’s other giant is the Monterrey-based Avalanz Group’s Zignia Live, which promotes tours, controls venues, and sells around 14m tickets a year through its Superboletos operation.

Zignia Live’s venue portfolio includes Arena Ciudad de México (known as CDMX – cap. 22,300) and Arena Monterrey (17,599) – the country’s two busiest arenas. After substantial pandemic delays, Zignia will also open a new 20,000-capacity arena in Guadalajara in September, which will, after Arena CDMX, be Mexico’s second largest.

Touted as the city’s first modern arena, Arena Guadalajara will host sports, live music, and cultural and social events. After pandemic-related delays, the arena is scheduled to open in September, providing a shot in the arm to a major market that nonetheless lags well behind that of the capital.

“Mexico City is a huge, huge, huge market, so Guadalajara, Monterrey, even though they’re big cities, become secondary markets”

“Mexico City is a huge, huge, huge market, so Guadalajara, Monterrey, even though they’re big cities, become secondary markets,” says Parra. “As it is, we continue with a trend that has been happening for the last 20 years, which is that Mexico City sells four or five tickets for one ticket in Guadalajara or Monterrey. So that gap hasn’t closed. Hopefully, it closes pretty soon.”

Of the smaller indies, ECO Entretenimiento represents a newer wave of Mexican promoters. Formed in 2019 from indies Sicario, Tape, and Marketen, it is part of the wider Grupo ECO, which encompasses bars, venues, an architecture practice, and a PR agency.

AXE Ceremonia, Grupo ECO’s most renowned event, these days takes place at Parque Bicentenario in Mexico City. In March, it showcased Kendrick Lamar, LCD Soundsystem, FKA Twigs, Sampha, and Romy at the top of an alternative electronic bill, with backing from the ubiquitous OCESA.

“One of our ways of thinking is if there is a new promoter that is interesting and has some valid projects and a way of thinking, business-wise, that is the same as ours, we always try to partner,” says Parra. “So we partnered with the Pa’l Norte festival, we partner with Ceremonia Festival, we will partner with some independent promoters as well. So, the more the merrier.”

Argentina
Economists have puzzled for years over how a country as blessed as Argentina can find itself eternally trapped in such dire economic circumstances. They might equally wonder how it is that a country with such fundamental liquidity problems maintains its status as one of the key live music destinations of South America, but it certainly does.

Part of the mystery is explained by the fact that, in a country cursed with rampant inflation – it ended 2023 at 211.4%, the highest since the early 1990s, though the rate has slowed since – you’re better off spending than saving. That is why acts from Coldplay (ten nights in October/November 2022) to Taylor Swift (three nights last November) continually test the capacity of Buenos Aires’ River Plate Stadium.

“Argentina is a powerhouse for talent and Spain is the same”

In December last year, Duki, the leader of Argentina’s exploding rap and trap movement, became the first urban artist ever to sell out the stadium, and did so on consecutive nights, shifting more than 140,000 tickets in total.

Among the country’s leading promoters is Live Nation’s DF Entertainment, which piloted the Coldplay, Taylor Swift and Duki shows, as well as the local edition of Lollapalooza and numerous other concerts.

Continuing as it means to go on, last year DF inked an exclusive multi-year agreement to promote concerts at River Plate.
“River is known as the biggest and most emblematic stadium in Latin America and is a must-play for the biggest artists in the world,” said DF founder Diego Finkelstein, whose forthcoming shows include Niall Horan, La K’Onga and Tan Biónica at Buenos Aires’ Movistar Arena.

Also in the mix are PopArt Music, co-promoter with Move Concerts of this years’ Primavera Sound Buenos Aires, and the busy Fenix Entertainment Group, which operates in Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay, promoting shows for Ana Gabriel, Toto, and Morat.

Among Argentina’s nimble independents is the newly Miami-based EB Producciones, which operates with a global perspective, having assumed responsibility for the Latin American career of fast-rising Spanish actress and singer Ana Mena. The aim, says EB Producciones founder Eduardo Basagaña, is to bridge the gap between the Latin and Spanish markets.

“Argentina is a powerhouse for talent and Spain is the same,” says Basagaña. “We are trying to build a reputation as a company that works very well with Spanish artists in our region. Miami is the hub for Latin music, so I am well positioned to get Spanish artists into the Latin market. We are not the size of Live Nation or AEG, so the only choice we have is to be smart, to be wise, to be boutique and to do things well.”

“Inflation is still going hard. And, of course, people are still trying to spend their money as quickly as they get it”

While big spectacles continue to grip the public imagination, there is no doubt that Argentina would benefit enormously from greater stability, and Phil Rodriguez hopes it is on its way.

“Argentina is currently going through probably one of the toughest economic storms I can remember in over four decades,” he says. “That said, the cure the country needed desperately was going to be painful – no ifs or buts. But I am optimistic. If president Milei can achieve his goals of taming inflation, stabilising the currency, and creating a much more business-friendly country, Argentina is going to enjoy an incredible period of growth and prosperity that it hasn’t had since the early 1950s.”

There is evidence, in the meantime, that Milei’s cuts are hurting the capital of Buenos Aires the most.

“Their situation is a little different, because I think they had more subsidies than the rest of the country,” says Ignacio Taier, COO of Grupo Q, owner of the Quality Espacio arena in second city Cordoba and co-promoter of recent shows at the city’s 26,000-capacity Estadio Instituto for Luis Miguel and Argentine band Tan Biónica.

“We are selling the same amount of tickets that we sold last year, which is a good thing. Of course, costs have gone up and the prices of the tickets haven’t, because we don’t want to impose really expensive tickets on people that won’t allow them to attend shows. But, of course, inflation is still going hard. And, of course, people are still trying to spend their money as quickly as they get it in order to [get] the best profit out of it.”

The Andean Region
Some of South America’s strongest live markets are tied together by the 5,530-mile-long mountain range of the Andes, including Argentina, Chile, Colombia, and Peru, while busy cities including Quito, Bogotá, and Medellín sit on its plateaus.

“Domestic acts and Latin acts, urban acts, are having a real success, but also shows from the US, shows from the UK”

Before the market expanded in all directions, Chile was the dependable third leg of the classic South American tour itinerary, alongside Brazil and Argentina, and still, it remains a very firm favourite due to its stable spending power. Santiago’s Movistar Arena was the top-grossing South American venue of last year, according to Pollstar, while available dates at the National Stadium are increasingly hard to find.

“We have good luck because we live in a more stable country,” says Jorge Merino, booking manager and project director at prominent local promoter Lotus Producciones. “You know, we are not Argentina, we are not Peru, even Brazil. Our economy is much more consistent, and our inflation is about 3% normally, not 100% or something like that, like in Argentina.”

That said, slow economic growth, higher-than-usual inflation, and currency volatility against the dollar have cast a little cloud over Chile in 2024, though Merino suggests the market is hardly in the doldrums.

“I think that it’s harder, but I must say that we are not out of opportunities,” he says. “The Movistar Arena, which is the only real venue here in Santiago that is not a stadium or a small theatre, is busy all year round. Domestic acts and Latin acts, urban acts, are having a real success, but also shows from the US, shows from the UK – actually, we went on general on-sale just now with a Toto show that sold out in minutes.”

Somewhat more troubling are the prospects of festivals, Merino avers.

“Like everywhere in the world, festivals are a little bit weak. Because although we are still selling, we are not reaching that level that we are looking for. And we have big acts – this year, we had Lollapalooza, for example, and we had Blink-182, we had SZA, we had Sam Smith, Feid, and even that wasn’t enough to get to the level that we are looking for, but still, things are moving.”

“The lack of suitable venues to hold concerts is costing formal concert entrepreneurs a fortune due to the number of cancelled and postponed concerts”

Live Nation’s local representative is Carlos Geniso’s DG Medios, whose 2024 shows include Louis Tomlinson, Ive, Niall Horan, Keane, and Colombian reggaeton star Feid.

Meanwhile, billing itself as the largest live entertainment company in the Andean region, Bizarro Live Entertainment promotes in Chile, Colombia, Peru, Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, and Ecuador, including the Bogotá, Santiago, and Lima legs of Primavera Sound 2023. For the last five years, Bizarro has been part of BE Live Group, which holds stakes in the Movistar Arena, Santiago and the Movistar Arena, Bogotá.

In Peru, the years before Covid saw a rising profile on the touring circuit, driven by promoters including Alberto Menacho’s Live Nation-affiliated Artes Perú – which has lately brought Blink-182, and Def Leppard and Mötley Crüe to the San Marcos Stadium – and long-established promoter Kandavu Producciones, which brought the Rolling Stones in 2015.

However, in 2024, a lack of available venues is a thorn in the side of promoters. The over-selling of tickets for a Juan Luis Guerra concert at Lima’s invaluable Arena Perú in November 2022, led in turn to a series of cancellations and an announcement that the venue would be taking time to restructure and make improvements. Meanwhile, 50,000-cap local festival Vivo X El Rock (VXR) – known unofficially as “the Peruvian Lollapalooza” – lost its home at the San Marcos Stadium due to noise complaints, extending a period of limbo that began with Covid.

“It is a very atypical year in Peru,” says Alejandro González, CEO of Grupo Kandavu. “The lack of suitable venues to hold concerts is costing formal concert entrepreneurs a fortune due to the number of cancelled and postponed concerts that we have been experiencing for a year. The economy in Peru is suffering, of course, but above all I feel that the concert-going public has been mistreated by the lack of venues. The public in Lima is not buying tickets for concerts as they did before, and the concert market is suffering.”

Kandavu plans to bring VXR back in the final quarter of 2024, according to an exasperated but determined González.

“VXR sells 20,000 tickets without announcing the lineup”

“VXR sells 20,000 tickets without announcing the lineup,” he says. “For this year, we will do something very interesting at the festival, and in 2025, we aim for it to be two days and not just one as it was in its past editions.”

Colombia, at the northern limit of the Andes, has greatly increased in significance in recent years, as the home base of regional and global stars including J Balvin, Maluma, Karol G, and, of course, Shakira.

Live Nation’s Páramo is a key player in the Colombian music scene, renowned for its flagship event, Estéreo Picnic, a four-day music festival held in Bogotá that has quickly become one of the most prominent events in South America and is Colombia’s largest music festival, drawing crowds of more than 100,000. Also in their festival portfolio are Baum Festival and Knotfest, both similarly held in Bogotá.

In March, meanwhile, Colombian promoters Breakfast Club and TBL Live joined forces to create new entertainment company Breakfast Live.

The combined firm plans to stage around 60 events in 2024, including reggae event Entono Soundsystem at Bogotá’s Movistar Arena and the inaugural Tomorrowland presents CORE Medellín in May.

Medellin is fast rising, too, and the city is set to gain a 16,000-capacity multipurpose arena, costing more than $50.6m, by 2026. Arena Primavera (Spring Arena) will be built in the city of Medellín. Built by CLK Group, it is projected to host 600,000 spectators across 75 events each year.

“We have artists that are being heard around the world, so that creates awareness for Puerto Rico, which is very positive for us”

The Caribbean
Of all the over-performing talent pools in Latin America, Puerto Rico is perhaps the most prodigious. Puerto Rico has around 3.2m residents, but without this Caribbean island, there’s no Bad Bunny, Daddy Yankee, Ozuna, Rauw Alejandro, Wisin & Yandel, Luis Fonsi or indeed Ricky Martin, and without its diaspora, there’s no Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony, or Lin-Manuel Miranda.

The capital of San Juan is effectively ground zero for reggaeton, which has spread out from the Caribbean across Latin America and the wider world over the past two decades. And the home arena for its biggest stars is the city’s ASM Global-operated Coliseo de Puerto Rico José Miguel Agrelot – 20 years old this year and in the midst of birthday celebrations.

At the time of writing, the 18,500-capacity Coliseo had just staged three shows for Eladio Carrión, a US-born star of Puerto Rican descent, with 45,000 tickets sold. The venue’s top exec, ASM Global regional general manager Jorge Pérez, says the big-time status of the island’s cultural exports and the arena’s ability to give them a major venue on home turf have been hugely mutually beneficial.

“We have artists that are being heard around the world, so that creates awareness for Puerto Rico, which is very positive for us because not only are we exporting our culture, our music, but it creates traction and awareness for Puerto Rico itself,” he says. “As a world-class venue, we have benefited from that.”

Technically an unincorporated territory of the United States, Puerto Rico is a destination for significant numbers of US fans, drawn by the promise of Caribbean adventure and, of course, cheaper tickets.

“About 10% of the tickets that we’re selling across the board are coming from the US. Sometimes it might be cheaper to see someone like Bad Bunny here”

“About 10% of the tickets that we’re selling across the board are coming from the US,” says Pérez. “Sometimes it might be cheaper to see someone like Bad Bunny here in San Juan, just because his pricing is more attractive. In the US, front-row tickets are $800, $900 face value; here, those same tickets are $100, $150.

“We estimate that maybe 30,000 or 40,000 people a year are coming to see a show, so that’s creating room tax estimated at maybe $20m. We have worked to create that economic movement from the diaspora and from the US in general, and that’s something that we’re very proud of.”

A second Caribbean centre for major touring shows in recent years has been Santo Domingo, capital of the neighbouring island of Dominican Republic, where stars including Luis Miguel, Karol G, Bad Bunny, and Coldplay have latterly played the Estadio Olímpico Félix Sánchez, creating obvious routing synergies.

“When management agencies are looking for dates, they’re trying to fit Puerto Rico in with Dominican Republic as well,” says Pérez. “So that tandem is something we’re seeing a lot. Acts that are going down to South America may stop in the Dominican Republic for a few days, San Juan a few days, and then head down. And they’re attractive markets because Dominican Republic sells a lot of tickets as well, so they are stops that makes sense.”

 


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.

Tixel outlines ‘mission’ to reshape resale market

Tixel’s head of UK/EU Matt Kaplan has detailed the firm’s mission to help alter perceptions around the secondary ticketing sector.

The price-capped, self-styled “honest resale marketplace” has expanded its remit to Cross The Tracks, Wide Awake and Project 6 and City Splash, part of Brockwell Live series in London, in addition to its existing partnerships with Superstruct UK festivals including Boardmasters, Kendal Calling, Tramlines Festival, Truck Festival and Y Not Festival.

Founded in Australia in 2018, Tixel launched its UK operation in 2021 and has reported year-on-year growth of 97% in events trading on the platform between ’22 and ’23.

“We are a very passionate, mission-driven company,” Kaplan tells IQ. “This is our fourth season in the UK – and one of those was half a season because of Covid – and the type of partners we’ve already got on board really says something about who we are and what we’re trying to achieve.”

While some of the negative connotations around the secondary market remain, amid the stream of high-profile investigations and controversies – most recently the claim that ticket touts hatched secret plans to sabotage Labour’s bid to cap ticket resale if the party wins the next UK general election – Kaplan is at pains to distance Tixel from some of its more “notorious” competitors.

“We have tools that help festivals reach some of the more price-sensitive buyers, potentially without having to devalue their brand and publicly discount”

“It’s our job to educate the industry and our partners on why we’re different and how we can support them with their campaign and protect their fans,” he says. “When you potentially have speculative listings and bots buying up a whole lot of tickets and selling them for inflated prices on unregulated markets, that has some tailwind of connotations across the industry. Clearly, there is an impact of some of that more nefarious activity, but we utilise it to shine a light on why we’re different.”

Tixel is able to eliminate fraud and double-scanning by reissuing new tickets for events when they are on-sold. It also gives organisers complete control and visibility of their resale market, while helping unlock new revenue and fan data.

“The ability to utilise our tools, regardless of the sell through rate of a festival, has been a really strong sales tool for us,” adds Kaplan. “Essentially, we allow festivals to tinker with their pricing on our marketplace. They often just tweak the price by maybe £5 or £10, and that might tip buying decisions. So we have tools that help festivals reach some of the more price-sensitive buyers, potentially without having to devalue their brand and publicly discount.

“It’s obviously super-tough to hit the bullseye on pricing because they price their festivals before the actual gates are going to open, so they don’t necessarily have all the insights. Us giving them the ability to to use some of our tools to help sell through more primary stock is effective. And then giving every festival the ability to have a secondary ticket trade that is safe and secure is also really important, and that’s something that we do really well.”

Superstruct UK enlisted Tixel as its exclusive resale platform for a number of its domestic events last year. The partnership includes direct technology integrations to facilitate functions like real-time, accurate ticket validation on all tickets listed (eliminating fakes and/or speculative listings) and the ability for a buyer to list and sell a ticket before ticket barcodes have been distributed. Kaplan sees the deal as a key moment for Tixel.

“We think what we’re doing is very important to the industry, and the more people that know about us, the better”

“It helped in our conversations with a whole load of other promoters and we’ve seen lots of doors open as a result,” he notes. “We know that our tech is very good, we’ve got best in class, but we want to be able to share that with other promoters and having a name like Superstruct on our books makes that initial outreach a bit easier, because people recognise us. There’s brand recognition in the market, so then we’re able to actually show our wares.

“We think what we’re doing is very important to the industry, and the more people that know about us, the better.”

The 2023 season saw Tixel move over 15,000 tickets across eight events and four ticketing platforms, and this year is shaping up to blow that out of the water.

“We’ve got events every single week between now and the end of September in the UK, and then Australia is going strong,” says Kaplan. “We’ve got a bunch of new independent partners as well, like We Out Here festival, Bloodstock and Camp Wildfire.

“We’ve also grown various portfolios: Silverstone Woodlands has a number of other events that we now work with and the U-Live festival portfolio has also expanded with us – they’ve got six or seven festivals we now work with. The idea is to keep building, keep growing and keep supporting our organisers.”

 


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.

Ambition pays off: The Electric Castle phenomenon

In the last decade, Electric Castle has evolved from a bold idea into a leading force in the festival scene, setting new standards for both audience and artist experiences. Held annually at the Bánffy Castle in Transylvania, Romania, the festival is a showcase of the power of ambition and the relentless pursuit of improvement every year.

A bold musical journey
Many events today opt for lineups that guarantee immediate success. While this approach can be effective, it often comes at the expense of the event’s unique identity. Electric Castle has always aimed to be more than just another festival. Avoiding the easy route of relying solely on big names and popular trends, the festival curates a diverse and adventurous musical journey. Superstars like Massive Attack, Queens of The Stone Age, and Bring Me The Horizon might headline this year’s edition, but the lineup also features numerous hidden gems, encouraging festival-goers to look beyond the usual suspects. By exploring European showcases and promoting local and regional talents, the organizers ensure that attendees experience fresh and exciting sounds.

Unique landscape creating unique experiences
A beautiful 16th century castle might be enough to build a festival around, but not for Electric Castle team. Using creative solutions to enhance the natural environment around the historical domain, the festival surprises in terms of event architecture solutions developed to perfectly integrate 11 stages, dozen of activities and a generous camping. Few festival would consider moving their main stage just to make sure that the crowd enjoys the sunset every night, but Electric people are the kind to think even at this. Add a sandy beach, a labirith through the trees and yet these features still don’t encompass all that the festival has to offer. Each element is carefully designed to create a unique and memorable experience, making Electric Castle truly one of a kind.

The ambition to create a unique event has truly paid off, attracting a very special crowd

A lineup for food and drinks? Why not
Food and drink at Electric Castle are given as much thought as the music. The festival has transformed dining into an integral part of the experience, blending high-end culinary delights with more traditional festival fare. A top-tier restaurant set within the castle grounds offers fine dining, a delightful contrast to the food courts that cater to all tastes. Just an extra layer of enjoyment to the festival experience and another proof that everything should be considered in detail.

Celebrating Romanian Talent
Launched at a time when the festival market in Romania was struggling and lacked direction, Electric Castle took on the mission of promoting local culture and talent. Romanian musicians, craftsmen, designers, and producers are given a prominent platform to showcase their work. The festival has created an ‘anti-mall’ – a unique space dedicated to young creators, where innovation and creativity thrive.

And a crowd like no other
The ambition to create a unique event has truly paid off, attracting a very special crowd. Known for their open-mindedness and eagerness to embrace quality over trends, the festival-goers contribute to an atmosphere that is both welcoming and vibrant. It’s no surprise that many artists eagerly return to the castle, knowing they are performing for an audience that genuinely appreciates the art and effort behind each performance. It’s so natural to see people attending the festival for the fifth or sixth year in a row that the only question left is, “Why haven’t you?”

 


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.

Barclays suspends fest sponsorships amid protests

Barclays has suspended its sponsorship of Live Nation UK’s remaining 2024 festivals following a raft of artist withdrawals over the bank’s ties to Israel.

Pest Control, Scowl, Speed and Zulu pulled out of this weekend’s Download Festival, with Pillow Queens, CMAT, Mui Zyu and Georgia Ruth dropping out of July’s Latitude 2024 earlier this month and The Waeve cancelling their slot at Isle of Wight Festival.

Barclaycard became headline partner of Isle of Wight and Latitude in 2023 as part of its partnership renewal with Live Nation UK. The five-year extension also included collaborations with events including TGE, Download, Lytham Festival, Camp Bestival and Reading & Leeds.

“Following discussion with artists, we have agreed with Barclays that they will step back from sponsorship of our festivals,” says a Live Nation spokesperson.

Previously, more than 100 speakers and acts pulled out of March’s SXSW, held in Austin, Texas, in protest at the event’s sponsorship by the US Army and its support for Israel during the Gaza war, while a similar number of acts withdrew from the UK’s The Great Escape (TGE) due to the Brighton event’s Barclays sponsorship. Massive Attack, Idles and Brian Eno were among dozens of acts who were not booked to play at TGE but signed an open letter launched in April calling for it to drop Barclays as a partner.

A spokesperson for Barclays tells the Guardian: “Barclays was asked and has agreed to suspend participation in the remaining Live Nation festivals in 2024. Barclays customers who hold tickets to these festivals are not affected and their tickets remain valid. The protesters’ agenda is to have Barclays debank defence companies which is a sector we remain committed to as an essential part of keeping this country and our allies safe.

“The only thing that this small group of activists will achieve is to weaken essential support for cultural events enjoyed by millions”

“They have resorted to intimidating our staff, repeated vandalism of our branches and online harassment. The only thing that this small group of activists will achieve is to weaken essential support for cultural events enjoyed by millions. It is time that leaders across politics, business, academia and the arts stand united against this.”

The publication notes that it understands the suspension does not apply to the entire contract.

Pressure has been directed towards the festivals to cut ties with sponsors linked to Israel, with campaigners and artists pressuring other musicians not to perform at them.

“This is a victory for the Palestinian-led global BDS movement,” says protest group Bands Boycott Barclays following today’s announcement. “As musicians, we were horrified that our music festivals were partnered with Barclays, who are complicit in the genocide in Gaza through investment, loans and underwriting of arms companies supplying the Israeli military. Hundreds of artists have taken action this summer to make it clear that this is morally reprehensible, and we are glad we have been heard.

“Our demand to Barclays is simple: divest from the genocide, or face further boycotts. Boycotting Barclays, also Europe’s primary funder of fossil fuels, is the minimum we can do to call for change.”

“We have been asked why we invest in nine defence companies supplying Israel, but this mistakes what we do”

IQ recently spoke to industry figures to find out how the business is dealing with the issue.

In response to the boycotts, Barclays have repeatedly pointed to their online Q&A which states: “We have been asked why we invest in nine defence companies supplying Israel, but this mistakes what we do. We trade in shares of listed companies in response to client instruction or demand and that may result in us holding shares. We are not making investments for Barclays and Barclays is not a ‘shareholder’ or ‘investor’ in that sense in relation to these companies.”

The activism has extended beyond live music to become a growing topic of debate in the wider arts world. Speaking on The Rest is Entertainment podcast, presenter Richard Osman said: “There’s an awful lot of pressure on Latitude and artists playing Latitude because of their ties to Barclays… And people I spoke to in the last week, they’re all talking amongst themselves, saying, ‘I don’t really want to boycott in this way. I understand what’s happening, but it feels like this isn’t the best thing to do.'”

The Financial Times reports that Wimbledon is now being targeted over its Barclays sponsorship, while investment management firm Baillie Gifford cancelled its sponsorship deals with literary festivals in the UK last week following protests over its links to Israel and fossil fuel companies.

Nick Thomas, a partner at Baillie Gifford, said: “The assertion that we have significant amounts of money in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is offensively misleading. Baillie Gifford is a large investor in several multinational technology companies, including Amazon, NVIDIA, and Meta.

“Demanding divestment from these global companies, used by millions of people around the world, is unreasonable and serves no purpose. Much as it would be unreasonable to demand authors boycott Instagram or stop selling books on Amazon.

“Nor is Baillie Gifford a significant fossil fuel investor. Only 2% of our clients’ money is invested in companies with some business related to fossil fuels. We invest far more in companies helping drive the transition to clean energy.”

 


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.

Rock am Ring & Rock im Park score strong presales

Twin German festivals Rock am Ring and Rock im Park have already sold a combined 50,000 tickets for their anniversary editions in 2025, organisers have revealed.

Rock am Ring has shifted around 30,000 tickets for next year’s festival and Rock in Park 20,000 in the first 24 hours of the presale beginning on Monday.

Nürburgring’s Rock am Ring celebrates its 40th anniversary next year, while Nürnberg’s Rock im Park turns 30, with metal icons Slipknot the first headliner to be confirmed. Weekend passes for the former cost €179, with camping tickets for the latter event starting at €248.

The events are set to return from 6-8 June next year and will feature around 100 acts – more than ever before – made possible by a fourth stage introduced especially for the anniversary editions. As per Frontstage, there will also be new camping categories as well as other innovations announced in the next few months.

The 2024 incarnation of the FKP Scorpio/eventimpresents/DreamHaus-promoted festivals each attracted in the region of 80,000 fans last weekend to see artists such as Die Ärzte, Avenged Sevenfold, Queens of the Stone Age and Green Day.

“The positive response to this year’s festivals was overwhelming, so we are all the more pleased that fans are just as excited about the big anniversary year”

“The positive response to this year’s festivals was overwhelming, so we are all the more pleased that fans are just as excited about the big anniversary year as we are and are securing their tickets early,” says DreamHaus CEO and festival organiser Matt Schwarz.

FKP expanded its collaboration with CTS stablemate DreamHaus by forming a strategic partnership to co-promote Germany’s Rock am Ring/Rock im Park and Hurricane/Southside festivals together from this year. Previously, DreamHaus and FKP Scorpio had already jointly organised the Tempelhof Sounds Festival in Berlin in 2022.

Last year, FKP’s Hurricane and Southside, which will be held from 21-23 June, also set advance booking records after putting tickets on sale for 2024. The festivals will star the likes of Ed Sheeran, Avril Lavigne, The National, The Kooks, The Offspring, The Hives, Jungle and Fontaines DC.

Fans bought over 50,000 tickets on the first day of the presale, setting a new bar in the 20-plus-year history of the twin festivals in Scheeßel (Hurricane) and Neuhausen ob Eck (Southside), which have a combined capacity of 143,000. Each batch of 10,000 tickets for the first price level of €199 sold out within just 20 minutes for both festivals.

 


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.

Festival news: Expansions, cancellations and lineups

With the 2024 festival season fast approaching, a raft of major events have announced updates on what’s in store this summer.

The lineup for the inaugural edition of KALORAMA Madrid has been finalised, with LCD Soundsystem, Raye, Massive Attack and Sam Smith topping the bill.

The festival is set to take place at the Recinto Ferial Fairgrounds between 29–31 August, the same dates as its Portuguese counterpart, MEO KALORAMA.

Peggy Gou, The Smile, Jungle, The Postal Service, Death Cab For Cutie, The Smile, The Kills, Gossip and Fever Ray are also set to perform at KALORAMA Madrid, promoted by Last Tour (Bilbao BBK, BIME).

Wireless Middle East has also fleshed out the programme for its second edition, which has been pushed back from spring to winter this year.

“This change aims to create an even more unforgettable and enjoyable event”

The Abu Dhabi event, set for 23 November at Etihad Park on Yas Island, will be headlined by SZA, 21 Savage and Yeat.

Karan Aujla, Fridayy, Flo Milli, Raf Saperra, Faris Shafi, Dina Ayada, Mazen, Lancey Foux, Seedhe Maut and Stick No Bills are also due to perform.

James Craven, president of Live Nation Middle East, which promotes the event, apologised for the rescheduling but said that it would allow them to curate the best possible lineup.

“This change aims to create an even more unforgettable and enjoyable event, allowing us to curate a lineup that surpasses all expectations,” he said.

The debut edition drew 25,000 fans and was deemed a “huge success” by Live Nation Middle East.

“The success of last year’s Country Bay Music Festival was immensely rewarding”

Also returning for a second edition is the Miami-based Country Bay Music Festival, promoted by Loud and Live.

Scheduled to take place 9-10 November at the Miami Marine Stadium, the second edition boasts headliners Zac Brown Band and Carrie Underwood.

Dustin Lynch, Chase Rice, Diplo presents Thomas Wesley, Chris Janson, Parmalee, Gabby Barrett, Chayce Beckham, Niko Moon and Redferrin are also due to perform.

“The success of last year’s Country Bay Music Festival was immensely rewarding,” says Nelson Albareda, CEO of Loud And Live. “As a first-year festival, we not only hosted a premier country music festival in Miami featuring stellar artists, but also provided an exceptional experience for our music fans and partner sponsors. The festival reaffirmed our city’s reputation as a vibrant playground and established Miami as a must-visit destination for country music enthusiasts from around the world.”

Elsewhere in the country music sphere, Florida’s Kickoff Jam (30 Aug – 1 Sept) has been cancelled.

“We are going to cancel Kickoff Jam and provide refunds”

Garth Brooks, Carrie Underwood and Alabama were due to headline the 2024 instalment at Frank Brown Park in Panama City Beach.

“After the success of Gulf Coast Jam [held May 30-June 2] this past weekend in Panama City Beach, we realised the weekend after Memorial Day is a much better time to host a festival,” Kickoff Jam producers stated in a post on the festival’s Instagram page. “So, we are going to cancel Kickoff Jam and provide refunds.”

Needtobreathe, Lauren Alaina, Restless Road, Randy Houser, the Oak Ridge Boys and Rhett Akins were also due to perform.

Meanwhile, Dutch festival Mañana Mañana has announced that its upcoming 10th edition will be the last.

The festival, promoted by Superstruct-backed Feestfabriek (Party Factory), will bid farewell between 13–16 June in  Achterhoek, in eastern Netherlands.

The organisation indicates that despite all efforts, ticket sales are not good enough to make the event profitable.

Swiss new music festival Radar is expanding with new locations and more days

“In the week before the festival starts, we had to make a difficult decision: Mañana Mañana 2024 is the tenth, but also the last edition,” Feestfabriek wrote in a statement.

“We want to be honest with all the dear and loyal visitors who have been looking forward to next weekend for months. That is why we choose to inform visitors and other involved parties in advance about this incredibly difficult decision. We don’t want to go out like a night candle, but like a crackling campfire with all our friends around it: we are going to make it a fantastic farewell party with laughter and tears! Let’s say goodbye to this unique discovery festival with a party. And for those who have never experienced our wonderful event, this is the last chance.”

In more positive news, Swiss new music festival Radar is expanding with new locations and more days.

The Gadget-promoted event will return to Langstrasse Zurich for two days, 13 and 14 September, showcasing 25 national and international acts performing in eight locations.

Earl Sweatshirt, Swim School, SKAAR, Fiona-Lee, Chubby Cat and Somebody’s Child are among the acts set to perform at Radar.

Venues include Frame, Gonzo, Zukunft, Bar 3000, Alte Kaserne, Waxy Bar, Plaza and Longstreet Bar.

 


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.

Date revealed for 2024 LIVE Awards

The 2024 LIVE Awards will take place on Wednesday 11 December at Troxy in East London, it has been confirmed.

The third annual event will welcome more than 600 guests from across the live music sector including promoters, venues, agents, festivals and artist managers.

Nominations, which can be submitted online will open on 8 July and close on 11 October. Shortlists for each category, which will be chosen by a panel of industry experts, will then be announced on 21 October.

Tables and individual seats for the awards are now available and include a drinks reception, dinner with wine and petit fours, three hours of complimentary drinks, and an afterparty.

UK-based ticketing company Skiddle has been announced as The LIVE Awards new headline sponsor, joining the event’s other primary sponsors Ticketmaster, PRS for Music, PPL and Equals Money.

“We are delighted to demonstrate our ongoing support for live music by becoming the headline sponsor and official ticketing partner of these important awards, which celebrate and recognise the individuals and companies doing amazing things across our sector,” says Duncan King, Skiddle’s head of festivals and partnerships.

“We will be recognising some of the biggest and most influential names in live music”

LIVE (Live music Industry Venues & Entertainment) is the voice of the UK’s live music and entertainment business, representing a federation of 16 live music industry associations.

“This year we will be taking The LIVE Awards to a new level with our production partners, who include LS Events, Universal Pixels, Lighthouse and James Wilson Events, building on the success of previous years,” adds Gaby Cartwright, head of partnerships for LIVE and The LIVE Awards. “We will be recognising some of the biggest and most influential names in live music and of course celebrating achievements from across the sector during the preceding 12 months.

“We are also really pleased to welcome Skiddle as our headline sponsors and ticketing partners this year. They are passionate advocates for live music and theirs and our other four primary partner’s support is much appreciated.”

As LIVE’s primary annual fundraising event, all proceeds from the awards will go towards directly supporting the trade body’s ongoing work engaging government on a range of sector issues, as well as supporting members to meet their sustainability goals while fostering a more diverse, equitable and inclusive working environment.

A limited amount of sponsorship opportunities are still available for this year’s LIVE Awards. Interested parties should contact Gaby Cartwright on [email protected] for more information.

Tickets for the LIVE Awards 2024 can be purchased here.

 


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.

Legendary US festival to return after 13 years

HFStival, a legendary US rock festival that took place in the 1990s and early 2000s, will return this September.

Launched by the alternative rock station WHFS in 1990, the festival hosted acts such as No Doubt, the Violent Femmes and the Ramones.

It was held at Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium in Washington, D.C. from 1993 to 2004; at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore in 2005; and at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland, in 2006. It was held again in 2010 and 2011 in commemoration of the now-defunct station’s legacy.

At its peak, the HFStival was the largest yearly music festival on the East Coast, drawing 55,000 to 90,000 people and selling out in a matter of hours.

“Quintessential HFStival acts have been doing an unprecedented business… so it made sense to bring back the festival”

Now, I.M.P., the parent company of DC’s historic 9:30 Club, is reviving HFStival after 13 years.

The one-stage event will take place on 21 September at Nationals Park featuring The Postal Service performing ‘Give Up’, Death Cab For Cutie performing ‘Transatlanticism’, Incubus, Bush, Garbage, Jimmy Eat World, Girl Talk, Violent Femmes, Tonic, Filter, and Lit.

“Quintessential HFStival acts have been doing an unprecedented business, selling more tickets than they ever came close to back in the day, so it all made sense to bring back the HFStival,” says Seth Hurwitz, owner of I.M.P., the 9:30 Club, The Anthem, and The Atlantis and operator of Merriweather Post Pavilion and Lincoln Theatre.

“This will be a show for everyone who went to HFStival in decades past and those who weren’t around to be a part of the scene.”

Tickets range between $150–475 (€140–442) and the festival will employ a “fan-friendly” lottery system, which is open from now until 16 June.

 


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.

40+ UK festivals cancelled: What’s going on?

Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) CEO John Rostron has unpicked the key issues facing the beleaguered UK sector this summer, with more than 40 festivals already postponed, cancelled or shut down in 2024.

The family-run Towersey Festival – the UK’s longest-running independent, having launched in 1965 – became the latest casualty earlier this month, announcing that its upcoming August edition would be its last, citing “increasing financial and economic challenges since the pandemic”.

It joined a list of losses from this year’s calendar that already includes NASS Festival, Bradford’s Challenge Festival, El Dorado, PennfestConnect Music Festival110 Above Festival, Leopollooza, Long Division, Bluedot and Barn On The Farm, with the majority of organisers blaming significant increases in operational costs.

Rostron tells IQ that promoters have described the current climate as “the most challenging time it’s ever been”.

“It’s an incredibly challenging environment, because they’ve got multiple things that have all come together at the same time – some of which is long wind from Covid and Brexit impacting,” he explains. “There are a couple of wise people who saw this coming out of the pandemic, but obviously it is very different seeing it to now feeling it.”

While the supporting data is limited up to this point, Rostron says the indications are that the cost of living crisis “has definitely come to bear” ahead of this summer’s season.

“What we feared would happen, is happening – and it will get worse before it gets better”

“One thing we have picked up on is that the overall sales pattern is changing,” he points out. “A lot of people might want, or intend, to go to a festival, but cost of living means they won’t buy their tickets as early as they used to. They’re waiting a lot later – and that ‘later’ adds to the problem.

“Somebody saying, ‘I’m going to go, but I haven’t bought a ticket yet’ is no good to a festival organiser who’s got to pay a bill for a stage upfront. But it’s understandable, because we know what cost of living feels like. We’re all in it, so we’re probably all making similar kinds of decisions.”

Former Welsh Music Foundation chief Rostron, who co-founded Cardiff’s Sŵn Festival, says he was first alerted to the unfolding situation within a month of taking the AIF helm in November 2022.

“I had an individual say to me, ‘There is a cultural crisis coming; I can see a real problem coming down the tracks,'” recalls Rostron. “At the time, it was the only voice saying that, because a lot of the festivals were feeling incredibly energised because they’d finally put Covid to bed. But what I hadn’t realised is how many of them had made a loss on the events they’d delivered in 2022. They’d sold out, but they’d still made a loss.

“This one voice said, ‘I think there’s a cultural crisis’ and then as some festivals began to fall in the spring of 2023, that voice became loud in my head. What we feared would happen, is happening – and it will get worse before it gets better.”

Rostron suggests that headlines about record-setting A-list global tours and more than one million people attending live music events in London in a single week had distracted from the growing concerns lower down the food chain. But there has since been a reality check.

“We talk to the supply chain a lot, and they need two or three years of relative calm in order to be able to build back and relax their terms”

“There were a lot of people in the ecosystem doing well and feeling very optimistic, so the voices of errors and problems felt like they were on the fringes,” he says. “But that is coming home and you can see it in two big areas: grassroots music venues and festivals. And it’s not just our voices anymore – you hear it from other people in the talent development pipeline: artists, managers and agents, because they’re not getting as many bookings this year.

“The number of stages and events has gone down and they’re like, ‘Oh, this is a problem, because we’re not getting the opportunities we used to get; what does that mean for the future?’ Those voices are beginning to join with us now.”

Regarding escalating supply chain costs, from fencing to toilets, Rostron says there is no simple solution for either side.

“Within their world, there’s been a lot of upheaval,” he says. “A lot of it is Brexit and the pandemic, but they have other issues – their ability to buy new gear is challenging when there’s high interest rates, and it’s challenging to store them. Those things add pressure to their ability to settle prices, alongside that foundation of Brexit, which has caused huge problems for the supply chain in terms of locations and costs.

“We talk to the supply chain a lot, and they need two or three years of relative calm in order to be able to build back and relax their terms. Everybody’s under pressure, so the prices have not just gone up, but they want their money upfront and that is incredibly difficult. That’s not the environment that existed in 2019 where if you had a loss one year, you could cover it the next year. That’s all gone.

“There are lots of great people in the sector working very hard to try and come to deals and help people through – from generator and audio companies to agents and artists – but they can’t always make it, and that’s why you’re seeing so many fall.”

“It’s clearly already too late for 43 festivals, and it’s going to be too late for four more that I know are going to go”

In response to the developing crisis, the trade association has launched a campaign called Five Percent For Festivals to encourage festivalgoers to contact their MPs to lobby for a VAT reduction on tickets. AIF states that a reduced VAT from 20% to 5% on ticket sales for the next three years will give festival promoters the space they need to rebuild, and will resume its campaigning in the wake of next month’s UK general election.

“I’m very optimistic that we will get something,” says Rostron. “I’m very confident. Naively confident? I don’t know. We’ve had regular conversations and we haven’t had a ‘No’. The sad bit is, the more festivals cancel – and what we said might happen begins to happen – the stronger those conversations are.

“The CMS inquiry into grassroots music venues made a recommendation to look at modelling of VAT in the grassroots, and the conversation has widened to say that should include festivals. All of that will take time. It takes time to model, it takes time to implement, and there’s still obviously a chance that it won’t happen – they can make the recommendation and then say, ‘No’.

“I think there will be intervention. My concern is that by the time something does happen, how many [festivals] will have gone? We’re going to see more independent festivals go because they’re not going to be able to make it to that point of intervention, whatever that intervention looks like. It’s clearly already too late for 43 festivals, and it’s going to be too late for four more that I know are going to go.”

He continues: “What’s good for us is there is an election about to happen, so we’ll have a new group of politicians with a five-year mandate, and that is stronger to work with than where we were, which was with a group of MPs that didn’t know how long their futures would be.”

“We’ve had a lack of new energy and blood and ideas because of Covid, and we’ll begin to see that trickle back”

Indeed, sounding an optimistic note, Rostron can already picture a brighter tomorrow for the industry – with Generation Z leading the charge.

“What will the festival sector do creatively? Well, they’re already planning it,” he observes. “You’ve got people going, ‘There’s a headliner issue? We’re going to change the way that we book.’ A lot of festivals sell the majority of their tickets without announcing any artists – people go because they love Shambala, or Mighty Hoopla, or Green Man, or End Of The Road. And as long as those artists are of good quality and fit with the audience’s expectations, they’re not really looking at who’s playing, so I think festivals will double down on that.

“For some of them, you’re going to see degrowth. You’re going to say, ‘As we expanded, we got to the point where we needed those [big] headliners. If we shrink down a bit, we don’t need that anymore.'”

He concludes: “You had this big gap with young people that couldn’t go to festivals because of Covid, and that’s impacted us in ways that we can’t understand. But some of them went to festivals in 2022 and 2023, and they’ll go again this year. And guess what? They’ll now start to leave their footprint creatively in the festival sector.

“You will see some of those individuals be inspired to create their own events, or pockets within existing events. You’ll see that magic start to sprout up because that’s where innovation always comes from. We’ve had a lack of new energy and blood and ideas because of Covid, and we’ll begin to see that trickle back.

“Next year, I think you’ll see the seeds of some future great festivals and some others change quite dramatically. That will be quite Gen Z-driven, and I’m really excited to see what they do.”

 


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.

All Things Go detail inaugural New York edition

All Things Go, an independent US festival renowned for its female-dominated lineups, has shared details of a second 2024 event.

The Washington DC-based festival will also take place in New York City this autumn, with headliners Reneé Rapp, Janelle Monáe, Chappell Roan, MUNA, Ethel Cain and Julien Baker.

The inaugural event will take place at the 13,000-capacity Forest Hills Stadium on 28 and 29 September – the same weekend as its DC counterpart.

Holly Humberstone, Samia, Del Water Gap, Soccer Mommy, Coco & Clair Clair, Mannequin Pussy, Indigo DeSouza, Towa Bird and Annie DiRusso will also perform at the NY debut.

The inaugural event will take place at the 13,000-capacity Forest Hills Stadium on 28 and 29 September

Meanwhile, the All Things Go flagship festival (cap. 40,000) will return to DC’s Merriweather Post Pavilion for a 10th edition, which is sold out for a third consecutive year.

Maren Morris, Remi Wolf, Laufey, Bleachers, Hozier and Conan Gray are on the bill, alongside many of the same acts as the NY edition.

All Things Go started as a blog and blossomed into a one-day festival in 2014. In 2018, singers Maggie Rogers and LPX curated an all-female ATG, solidifying the festival’s commitment to diversity.

Organisers recently spoke to IQ about how curating a diverse event has paid off, saying: “The people want it! We’ve sold out three years in a row, very fast, with a mostly female lineup. At the very least, [festivals should] book 50% female or non-binary acts — there is so much talent out there across genres. Once [festivals] prioritise inclusion [their] community will be stronger because you platform voices that usually don’t get the stage.”

All Things Go has previously hosted the likes of Billie Eilish, boygenius, Lana Del Rey, Lorde, Mitski, HAIM, Charli XCX, Lizzy McAlpine, Carly Rae Jepsen and Tove Lo.

 


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.