Switzerland is prosperous, politically neutral and stands outside of the EU, a wealthy, land-locked island in the middle of Europe. But in its highly active live business, it is certainly not insulated from competition, external or otherwise.
Take the case of the Hallenstadion, Zürich’s 15,000-capacity former Vélodrome, and Switzerland’s most popular arena destination for major incoming touring acts. Until 2013, the venue was booked exclusively by Good News – then the unchallenged market leader. These days, it’s open to all, as everyone knows, but here’s the point: Hallenstadion director Felix Frei estimates that the arena now routinely takes bookings from ten or 15 promoters.
“We have a much broader base of promoters in music than before,” says Frei. “We have more concerts but, on average, less attendance. The reason seems to be a really, really strong music market here. Artists are playing five, six, seven times in Switzerland and we can feel that.”
“You travel through Switzerland in the summer and basically in every town you have a music event”
Out in the fresh Swiss air too, where it has been joked that every field has its own festival, the open-air market is bulging at the seams. Something like 300 events battle for the attention of fewer than 8.5m Swiss, plus musical tourists.
“I think it’s great for the audience,” says Dany Hassenstein, booker at Paléo in Nyon, which has sold out in advance for 16 years in a row. “You travel through Switzerland in the summer and basically in every town you have a music event. It’s great for people who love music.”
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