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Nicki Minaj’s Co-op Live gig axed after drugs arrest

Nicki Minaj’s concert at Manchester’s Co-op Live was called off at the last minute, following her arrest at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport.

The American rapper was arrested on suspicion of exporting soft drugs before being fined €350 and allowed to continue her journey, Dutch authorities said.

The artist didn’t make it to Manchester in time for her concert on Saturday (25 May), which was postponed just after 21:30 BST, with 20,000 fans in the arena waiting for her to take the stage.

On social media, Minaj said she was in a jail cell for between five and six hours, and finally arrived at her hotel in Manchester around midnight.

In a statement, promoters Live Nation said: “Nicki Minaj’s scheduled performance at Manchester’s Co-op Live on Saturday 25 May has been postponed.

“Tickets will remain valid for the rescheduled performance which will be announced as soon as possible.

“Despite Nicki’s best efforts to explore every possible avenue to make tonight’s show happen, the events of today have made it impossible. We are deeply disappointed by the inconvenience this has caused.”

Co-op Live posted the same statement.

Minaj continued her tour in Birmingham last night (26 May) and is due to visit London and Glasgow, before a second scheduled date in Manchester on Thursday.

It is the latest problem to hit the 23,500-cap Co-op Live, which has also been forced to postpone or move gigs by the likes of Olivia Rodrigo, Take That and Peter Kay in recent weeks after suffering a string of delays and technical problems.

The Oak View Group (OVG)-operated arena finally opened on 14 May for an opening performance by Manchester’s Elbow.

Co-op Live’s interim general manager, Rebecca Kane Burton, recently told OVG-owned publication VenuesNow that the venue is “all up and running and fully furnished”.

“We’ve had a natural ramp-up in terms of the capacities we’ve been hosting. Peter Kay was our biggest event (May 23-24). We had between 14,000 and 15,000 people – all of the levels in full use. All suites and premium areas have been working at full-tilt. There’s still work happening within the building, but it tends to be offices and back-of-house areas.”

 


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Amsterdam festivals fear bankruptcy over new policy

Amsterdam festival organisers have launched a campaign against the city’s new permit policy which they say could lead to bankruptcies.

Set to come into effect in 2026, the new policy aims to give new and smaller events a better chance of getting scarce festival locations in order to ‘better meet the needs of all Amsterdam residents’.

However, a test run is being planned for next year as locations for events will be scarcer than normal due to Amsterdam’s 750th-anniversary celebrations and the return of Dutch boat festival Sail.

In order to distribute the places more fairly, events councillor Touria Meliani wants to set up a committee that will determine who gets a place based on substantive criteria. By the end of this year, festivals would know whether they have a place on next year’s calendar.

Festivals including DGTL, Amsterdam Open Air, De Zon, Loveland and Zeezout have hit back, saying the approach is “too late” and “unworkable” for both new and established festivals.

“You cannot organise a safe and successful festival in six months,” the organisers wrote in a full-page advertisement addressed to the municipality and published in Het Parool last week.

“Organisers that do not obtain a permit will go bankrupt”

“Organisers who are given a place cannot organise their event properly. Many costs have already been incurred for the longer-running major festivals. Organisers that do not obtain a permit will go bankrupt.”

The organisers are calling for the 2024 events calendar to be replicated for 2025 so that “everyone knows where they stand and new initiatives can flourish”.

In addition, organisers have resurrected the action group Unmute Us, which was founded during Covid-19 to organise protests and campaigns against government policy and draw attention to the needs of the Dutch live music sector.

The group has launched a petition against the new policy, which has been signed by 13,900 people at the time of writing.

“The Amsterdam municipal council wrongly states that there are too many applications for too few locations and does not take into account the position that certain festivals have had in the city for years,” reads the petition. “This creates enormous uncertainty for all festivals, which could have disastrous consequences for many.”

Meanwhile, the wider Dutch industry is calling on the government to reconsider its plans to raise the VAT rate for concert and festival tickets by 12 percentage points.

The increase from 9% to 21%, which is set to come into effect from 2026, was announced last week in the new coalition agreement between the PVV, VVD, NSC and BBB parties.

 


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Friendly Fire promotes Lauri van Ommen and Age Versluis

Dutch promoter Friendly Fire has promoted Lauri van Ommen to head of promoted shows and Age Versluis to head of touring, effective 1 March.

van Ommen started at Friendly Fire in 2016, assisting managing director Rense van Kessel. Soon after, she was made a promoter and is now going to head that same department.

As head of promoted shows, she will be responsible for all Friendly Fire shows in arenas and stadiums, including Ziggo Dome, AFAS Live, Johan Cruijff Arena and Ahóy.

van Ommen has worked on shows with a.o. Snoop Dogg, Noah Kahan, Hans Zimmer, Mäneskin and many others.

Versluis celebrated 10 years at Friendly Fire last November, starting as an intern for the company’s first edition of Best Kept Secret festival, assisting at the touring department and creating a personal roster of touring artists including Cigarettes After Sex, Mitski, Fontaines D.C., Khruangbin, Black Pumas and Lizzy McAlpine.

“We are very proud that coworkers who have been loyal to our organisation can rise up to these key positions”

He is the programme lead for the successful open-air theatre concert series, Live At Amsterdamse Bos. Age was nominated at the Arthur Awards for Tomorrow’s New Boss in 2022.

As head of touring, Versluis will be responsible for the international touring roster of Friendly Fire and the bookers that work internationally, whilst maintaining his own roster of artists.

“We are very proud that coworkers who have been loyal to our organisation can rise up to these key positions within the company,” says managing director Rense van Kessel.

“Friendly Fire has been growing steadily the last few years and we are very happy to add Lauri and Age to our leadership team, to help manage that growth.”

Friendly Fire, which celebrates its 15th anniversary this year, represents both domestic and international talent, alongside organising festivals, managing artists and booking theatres.

The Dutch office of FKP Scorpio reported more than 2,000 bookings in theatres, venues, clubs, arenas and festivals in 2023.

 


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Amsterdam’s DGTL festival to make US debut

Dutch dance festival DGTL will make its US debut this December with back-to-back editions in Los Angeles and New York City.

The bicoastal instalment will launch on 1 December at Brooklyn Navy Yard, a shipyard and industrial complex in NYC.

Danish trio WhoMadeWho, techno titan Ida Engberg, amapiano artist AMÉMÉ, German deep house producer Henrik Schwarz, Irish mainstay Mano Le Tough and South Korean producer Shubostar appear on the lineup.

The next day, a similar version of the festival will take place in LA at Exposition Park, a 160-acre urban park in the south region of the city.

DGTL has launched in Barcelona, Madrid, Tel Aviv, Bengaluru, Mumbai, New Delhi, Santiago, São Paulo and Guadalajara

The LA bill also features WhoMadeWho, Mano Le Tough, Henrik Schwarz and Shubostar, along with French duo Parallelle.

The festivals will take place in partnership with dance promoters Teksupport and Stranger Than, in NYC and LA respectively.

Originating in Amsterdam, DGTL has spawned events in Barcelona, Madrid, Tel Aviv, Bengaluru, Mumbai, New Delhi, Santiago, São Paulo and Guadalajara.

Since its launch in the Netherlands in 2013, the dance festival has become renowned for its stage designs and sustainability initiatives.

 


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Amsterdam’s new rules ‘tough blow’ for events

The Dutch industry has slammed new regulations introduced by the Amsterdam municipality in response to a murder at a local festival.

The new rules require events with a capacity of more than 2,000 people to halt ticket sales one day before the event takes place, among other things.

The restrictions come after a 21-year-old man was stabbed to death in May at Amsterdam-based techno and house festival Solid Grooves, organised by ID&T-backed Apenkooi.

ID&T said they identified “serious shortcomings” in the organisation of the festival – including by selling “significantly more” tickets than was permitted – and subsequently dismissed its management team.

It was later revealed the organiser had applied for a permit for 4,999 people but the event was attended by around 7,500, rendering security at the festival insufficient.

“This can have major financial consequences for organisers”

Reacting to the news, Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema imposed a total of four new permit requirements on organisers “to ensure the safety of visitors”.

In addition to halting last-minute ticket sales, Amsterdam events may “never allow more than the number of permitted visitors to be present simultaneously within the gates of the event site” and events must submit a “security deployment plan” approved by the police at least two weeks before the start.

Artists and crew are now also included in the total number of visitors allowed in the building according to the permit.

The new restrictions have prompted Amsterdam promoters Pleinvrees and Awakenings to cancel tickets for sold-out events at this week’s Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE).

“Following recently issued guidelines from the Municipality of Amsterdam regarding permits, there has been a change whereby artists and their entourage are no longer considered crew,” read a statement from Pleinvrees. “This has led to more limited capacity for regular visitors. These tightened regulations came as a surprise to us.”

“[The measures] are nothing more than a band-aid which ultimately will not solve the crucial problems”

Awakenings wrote in a statement: “To ensure that we meet our obligations, we are forced to give a limited number of visitors their money back, a difficult decision. We choose the last ticket buyers. Unfortunately, returning your money is the only solution. We understand that this decision comes unexpectedly.”

While a spokesperson for ADE added: “This is a tough blow for organisers who have not sold out 24 hours before the start. We cannot yet see the extent of the negative consequences, but the festival summer was already financially difficult for many organisers, so we can imagine that this measure will fall flat on their roof.

“This can have major financial consequences for organisers, because the last tickets often contain the earnings that pay the fixed costs.”

Meanwhile, Amsterdam-based blockchain ticketing service GUTS Tickets dubbed the measures “nothing more than a band-aid which ultimately will not solve the crucial problems at hand”.

While large events are not permitted to sell tickets in the 24 hours preceding the event, resale platforms are exempt from these rules.

“These regulations inadvertently encourage a surge in secondary ticket sales, increasing the potential for fraud and scalping,” says GUTS co-founder Tom Roetgering.

 


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Awakenings director Rocco Veenboer steps down

Awakenings director Rocco Veenboer is stepping down after almost 30 years at the helm.

He will, however, remain at the Netherlands-based techno empire until 2027 as a consultant.

“I am 55 years old now and it is time to pass the baton to the new generation in terms of duties and responsibilities,” he said.

The festival, promoted by Superstruct’s ID&T, was founded in 1997 as a techno party at the Gashouder in Amsterdam. The event eventually expanded to include venues such as the Klokgebouw in Eindhoven and the Graansilo in Rotterdam.

“These have been fantastic decades”

Awakenings is best known for its large-scale weekend festivals in Spaarnwoude and Hilvarenbeek that attract tens of thousands of people each day.

In recent decades, Awakenings has grown into the largest event brand in the Netherlands with as many as 300,000 visitors per year.

“In 1997 we organised three parties, which together attracted around 10,000 visitors.” says Veenboer. “At the time, we were one of the first to do major audio-visual work. Looking back now, we have welcomed over 3.5 million people to Awakenings. These have been fantastic decades. I’m grateful that I lived in Amsterdam in 1988 and then got to be part of the musical house and techno revolution.”

The third and final day of Awakenings 2023 was called off due to weather warnings, marking “the most heartbreaking day in the past 26 years of organising Awakenings”.

 


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All Things Live buys Dutch festival promoter

Nordic live entertainment giant All Things Live is expanding in the Netherlands with a majority stake in festival promoter Loveland Events.

Established in 1995, the Amsterdam-based organiser has launched several renowned dance festivals that draw over 150,000 visitors annually.

The company’s stable of events includes Loveland Festival, 909 Festival, Music On Festival and Loveland Orange Festival, as well as several ADE (Amsterdam Dance Event) events.

The addition of Loveland expands All Thing Live’s existing festival portfolio throughout Europe as well as its footprint in the Netherlands which already includes Concert at Sea, HIER Festival, In Het Volkspark and Agents After All.

Kim Worsøe, member of the executive board of All Things Live Group, says: “Marnix and his team have built fantastic festivals over the years, and we are excited to welcome Loveland to the All Things Live family and our growing festival business fueled by passion for great live events and love for music.”

“By combining powers, we get the chance to learn from a variety of festival entrepreneurs in [ATL’s] extensive portfolio”

Marnix Bal, founder and CEO of Loveland, adds: “We believe that Loveland Events and All Things Live is a perfect fit that comes at the right time. After producing events for over 25 years, the partnership offers the unique opportunity to do better events for the city of Amsterdam and its residents. By combining powers, we get the chance to learn from a variety of festival entrepreneurs that make up the extensive portfolio of All Things Live and incorporate best practices in our own events.”

All Things Live was established in December 2018 following Waterland Private Equity’s acquisition of leading Nordic live entertainment companies in Denmark, Norway and Sweden. The partnership has since expanded into Finland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy and the Middle East.

The company represents 522 local artists on exclusive contracts, arranges 17 festivals, promotes 8,200 local and international events with more than 2,100,000 tickets sold per year and continues to grow its current portfolio of 35 corporate partnerships.

All Things Live has promoted artists including Justin Bieber, The Rolling Stones, Rammstein, Green Day and Eminem.

 


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High demand for Lana Del Rey surprise concerts

Tickets for Lana Del Rey’s surprise shows in Dublin, Paris and Amsterdam have flown off the shelf.

The singer announced the shows last Tuesday (27 June), just three days before tickets went on sale: “I love Europe and after playing at Glastonbury I’ve decided to play a few more shows around my Hyde Park London concert.”

General sale for Del Rey’s concert at the Ziggo Dome (cap. 17,000) in Amsterdam – the largest of the three shows – took place last Friday (30 June) and sold out within 10 minutes. A pre-sale exclusive to subscribers of MOJO’s newsletter launched a day prior.

At present, 1,440 tickets are wanted on the resale platform Ticketswap and 849 have been sold since the general sale.

“I love Europe and after playing at Glastonbury I’ve decided to play a few more shows”

The 4 July concert will mark the first time in a decade that Del Rey has performed in the Netherlands, after a sold-out show at the 6,000-capacity AFAS Live (then known as Heineken Music Hall) in 2013.

The 38-year-old will also visit the 3Arena (13,000) in Dublin on 7 July and the Olympia Music Hall (1,996) in Paris on 10 July. Both shows are sold out.

The New York-born singer, represented by WME worldwide excluding North America, also played Italy’s La Prima Estate festival on 2 July and is due to close BST Hyde Park (AEG Presents) this Sunday (9 July).

It comes after Del Rey’s headline slot at Glastonbury was cut short as a result of appearing on stage 30 minutes late.

 


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TicketSwap shares resale profits with promoters

TicketSwap has introduced a new feature that divides profits from secondary ticket sales equally between the seller and the organiser of the event.

The FairShare feature also helps to discourage ticket dealers (who resell tickets for profit) as the profit margin for them is decreased, according to the ‘ethical resale platform’.

“The event industry, as well as fans, face challenges,” said Hans Ober, CEO at TicketSwap. “For example organisers’ profit margins are also coming under increasing pressure, and for fans, usurious rates are a major frustration. With the introduction of FairShare, we are making the ticket market a lot fairer again. This is how we invest together in the event industry.”

If an event organiser chooses to use FairShare, the profit on a resold ticket – which at TicketSwap is a maximum of 20% – is split between them and the seller.

“With the introduction of FairShare, we are making the ticket market a lot fairer again”

Event organisers using TicketSwap’s Sealed Tickets service can choose to activate FairShare on their own. The advanced feature allows barcodes on tickets to be released only several hours before an event begins. Until then, the buyer can also choose to resell their ticket within this system.

TicketSwap says this gives the organiser more control and fans maximum assurance that their ticket is valid.

Among others, event organisers Rotterdam Rave, Chasing the Hihat, Elevation Events and This is Live Group are already using FairShare.

Since launching in 2012, Amsterdam-headquartered TicketSwap has attracted 9 million users active in 36 countries worldwide, plus 1.5 million registered users in the UK.

Last year alone, the company opened offices in Sao Paulo (BR), Stockholm (SE), Berlin (DE), Paris (FR), Madrid (ES), Milan (IT) and Krakow (PO).

 


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Paradiso, Melkweg co-founder Willem de Ridder passes

Willem de Ridder, co-founder of iconic Amsterdam venues Paradiso and Melkweg, passed away aged 83.

The Dutch national died peacefully last Thursday (29 December) after “a short-term illness”, according to his website.

De Ridder, along with others, founded the 1,500-capacity Paradiso (formerly known as Cosmic Relaxation Center Paradiso) in 1968.

“Everyone sat on the floor, smoked joints and there were projections with liquid slides,” said De Ridder about the early days of Paradiso. “Anyone who wanted to could do something on stage and as a DJ I played whatever people gave me. Everyone in power.”

Paradiso has hosted artists such as David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, Nirvana and Prince

In the 50 years since, the former church on Weteringschans became a pop venue, night club and cultural palace, hosting artists such as David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, Nirvana and Prince.

Two years after unveiling Paradiso, de Ridder helped to open Melkweg (Milky Way), a former sugar and, later, milk factory located on Lijnbaansgracht.

The historical building now houses two concert halls (the biggest being 1,500 capacity), a cinema, a multidisciplinary room and an exhibition space, which attract a combined 540,000 visitors annually.

De Ridder was also an artist, a magazine maker and a radio and television producer.

 


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