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Country Profile: Poland

The world’s leading promoters & the 55 top markets they operate in.
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It’s boom time for live entertainment in Poland. With Live Nation, FKP Scorpio, and the country’s biggest independent promoter, Alter Art, all bringing big names through, this year has seen dates with Imagine Dragons, The Weeknd, Depeche Mode, Beyoncé, and others, there were a record 11 shows at Warsaw’s PGE Narodowy stadium in 2023, and Taylor Swift has sold out an unprecedented three nights there for 2024. The 20th anniversary of the Open’er Festival in Gdansk was a bumper year, featuring a lineup including Arctic Monkeys, Lizzo, Kendrick Lamar, and Labrinth.

While the top end of the market has been hugely successful, that has brought challenges. With costs increasing anywhere between 50%-100%, rising artist fees, and ticket prices unable to rise sufficiently, margins are tighter than ever. And with audience spending power hit by inflation, the glut of events available at the top of the market has had a knock-on effect on the feasibility of smaller events and festivals.

“While 2023 was somewhat of an anomaly because of the accumulation of shows – new and postponed ones – these shows affect the spending power of fans and availability of headliners,” says Mikolaj Ziółkowski, CEO of Alter Art, which promotes Open’er as well as major tours including Swift. “Fifteen stadium shows in a big European city across two months is something new to us. Overall, it’s good, because it makes the whole industry bigger. But it’s also changing the architecture of the entire business, and we are not yet sure how it will affect the whole market.”

“While 2023 was somewhat of an anomaly because of the accumulation of shows – new and postponed ones – these shows affect the spending power of fans and availability of headliners.”

“Particularly in 2023, we note more stadium and arena shows than ever, which may affect the popularity of smaller shows,” notes Tomasz Ochab, CEO of Knock Out Productions.

“Fans, even if interested, have limited resources.” Ochab has seen this in action over the 141 shows he’ll have promoted in 2023, including successful arena shows by the likes of Bring Me The Horizon and Mystic Festival in Gdansk, which drew 20,000 people (up 35% on last year).

“As it turned out, we were quite an exception, as we noticed that some other local festivals have been seeing declines in attendance,” he says. “Almost the entire industry is experiencing problems related to the success of stadium shows. And the events already announced for 2024, including Metallica and Taylor Swift, are sucking money out of the market.”

“Last year, festivals were popping up like mushrooms.”

Weronika Tomkowska of Charm Music (the local office of Charmenko) has worked on major shows by Eros Ramazzotti, Foals, and Alt-J this year. She notes the €200-plus ticket prices for major stadium tours are limiting the number of smaller shows that fans can attend, but also points to a general oversaturation of the market. “Last year, festivals were popping up like mushrooms,” she says.

“One launched in Warsaw in September, at the end of the festival season. It was not a great idea. The music was similar to three or four more festivals that had already happened and already had history in Poland. So it was a flop. Adding general music festivals is not a good idea. People should focus on festivals dedicated to undiscovered genres – such as jazz, neo-soul, urban music.”

In general, though, the Polish scene is in solid shape. Several government-funded recording agencies help grassroots acts to grow, and municipalities are happy to support events.

In general, though, the Polish scene is in solid shape.

Popular genres are pop, electro, and hip-hop (although some see that bubble bursting of late, in favour of a rock and metal comeback). Plus, an influx of Ukrainians has opened up a new market for acts from that country to play shows in Poland.

Alter Art had success in stamping out secondary sales by using Ebilet.pl to authenticate ticket-buyers with a unique access code. And promotions-wise, Polish promoters are focusing on direct fan communications and targeted social media marketing. Other promoters include Prestige MJM and the metal-focussed Knock Out Productions.

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