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70,000 take part in ‘Unmute Us’ protest march

Tens of thousands of people took part in the ‘Unmute Us’ protest march in cities across the Netherlands on Saturday (21 August).

The march, spearheaded by the Dutch event industry and attended by festivalgoers, called on the Dutch government to end the ‘arbitrary’ restrictions that have effectively written off the festival summer.

Around 70,000 people attended the marches in Eindhoven, Groningen, Nijmegen, Utrecht, Rotterdam and Amsterdam, including more than 2,000 parties from the Dutch event industry.

Ziggo Dome, Awakenings, Down The Rabbit Hole, Soenda, Apenkooi Events, Vunzige Deuntjes, and Kultlab were among the event companies that hosted floats in their home cities.

The event also drew support from the likes of DGTL, A State of Trance Festival, Amsterdam Open Air, Best Kept Secret, Defqon, Dekmantel Festival, Lowlands, Mysteryland and Paaspop.

The protest marches were reinforced by performances from DJs and artists such as Ryan Marciano, Joris Voorn, Goldband, Bizzey, Sandrien and Joost van Bellen and speeches by Kluun, Tim van Delft (De Staat), Lusanne Bouwmans (D66) and Michiel Veenstra (3FM).

“The fact that an ambitious idea can grow into a real movement in such a short time is typical of our field”

“I had so many goosebumps all day. This is our scene, this is what we live for. Happy people, music and positivity. I only now realise how terribly I missed this,” says Bram Merkx, initiator of Unmute Us.

Jasper Goossen, co-owner of Apenkooi Events (DGTL, Amsterdam Open Air, Elrow Amsterdam), says: “Today we issued the best possible business card. The fact that an ambitious idea can grow into a real movement in such a short time is typical of our field. I am very proud of our entire industry. We now expect a quick response from The Hague.”

The protest comes after the Dutch government banned large-scale events such as festivals until at least 19 September amid fears over the spread of the highly infectious delta variant.

One-day events with a maximum of 750 visitors are allowed for people with a Covid-19 app showing they have been vaccinated, have recently tested negative or have recovered from a case in the past six months.

The organisers of Unmute Us want the ban lifted by 1 September, which would still come too late for festivals such as Down the Rabbit Hole (27–29 August), A Campingflight to Lowlands Paradise (20–22 August) and Mysteryland (27–29 August).

 


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New CEO for Amsterdam’s Johan Cruijff Arena

Tanja Dik has been appointed CEO of Johan Cruijff Arena in Amsterdam, succeeding Henk Markerink, who will retire on 1 September.

Dik previously worked for Schiphol Group (of airport fame) as general director of consumer products and services. Before that, she was international venue director for for European theatre giant Stage Entertainment.

Johan Cruijff Arena, formerly Amsterdam Arena, is the Netherlands’ largest stadium, with a capacity of 55,5000 for football matches and 68,000 for concerts. Home to Dutch football club AFX Ajax, it has hosted headline shows by the likes of Coldplay, AC/DC, Beyoncé, the Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson and Rihanna, as well as dance music festival Sensation.

“We are convinced that in Tanja Dik we have a highly qualified successor”

The venue celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2021, having opened in August 1996.

“We are convinced that in Tanja we have a highly qualified successor who, in collaboration with our employees and partners, will lead the further development of this beautiful stadium,” comments stadium chairman Hans van der Noordaa. “I would like to take this opportunity to express our gratitude on behalf of the supervisory noard for the impressive contribution Henk Markerink has made to the development and success of the Johan Cruijff Arena over the past 25 years.”

Dik says her new role brings together her “passion for sports, live entertainment and the customer”. She adds: “The social role that the Arena fulfils is an important icing on the cake for me, which I would like to further shape. I look forward to working with the team, shareholders, business partners, founders and other stakeholders at the Johan Cruijff Arena.”

 


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TicketSwap raises $10m in first funding round

Price-capped ‘ethical’ ticket marketplace TicketSwap has raised US$10 million in new funding from Amsterdam-based venture-capital firm Million Monkeys.

TicketSwap, also headquartered in Amsterdam, will put the money towards expanding into new countries while reinforcing its presence in existing markets, the company says. TicketSwap has ticket resale partnerships with more than 6,000 events worldwide, including DGTL (Amsterdam), Sziget (Budapest) and Hellfest (Clisson, France).

“We are delighted with our first funding in the existence of TicketSwap”, says founder and CEO Hans Ober. “Instead of having to take a step back due to Covid-19, we can now accelerate our growth.

“We are expanding to new markets and improving the quality of our service. Million Monkeys has a lot of experience in building marketplaces like ours.”

“Million Monkeys has a lot of experience in building marketplaces like ours”

The funding will also allow TicketSwap to accelerate the development of new features, continues Ober –for example, new ways to handle scarce tickets for high-demand events, to which end TicketSwap is trialling a raffle technology that would allow more people to have a chance to enter and an increased chance to get a ticket.

It is also building technology to understand fans’ needs better, allowing them to recommend personalised events. “We want TicketSwap to become more than a marketplace for tickets”, says Ober. “It will be a part of the anticipation for an event or day trip. TicketSwap will develop into an app that people like to use regularly to discover new artists and shows, not just when they are looking to buy tickets.”

Over five million fans have used TicketSwap, which caps the resale price at 20% above face value, to buy and sell spare tickets since the company’s launch in 2012.

 


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ID&T, Mojo announce post-pandemic party (date TBA)

Dutch promoters Mojo and ID&T, along with Heineken, are organising the Netherlands’ first large-scale event without restrictions which will go ahead as soon as it is permitted.

The event, dubbed ‘Celebrate Life’, will take place in Amsterdam venues Ziggo Dome (cap. 17,000) and AFAS Live (6,000) on an unspecified date in the post-pandemic future.

“We haven’t danced together for over a year. Not partied for a whole year. As soon as the corona measures give us free rein, we will see you at the front of AFAS Live and Ziggo Dome! The moment the government gives the starting shot, we are shoulder to shoulder again. This can be during the weekend, but also take into account a weekday. We will of course inform you immediately,” reads a statement on the Celebrate Life website.

“The moment the government gives the starting shot, we are shoulder to shoulder again”

De Jeugd van Today, Maan, Ronnie Flex & the Fam and Vunzige Deuntjes Soundsystem have been announced for the four-and-a-half hour AFAS Live event, which is open to all ages.

Benny Rodrigues, Freddy Moreira, Kris Kross Amsterdam, Lucas & Steve and Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano have been announced for the 18+ Ziggo Dome event, which will run from 21:30 pm and 06:00 am.

Dutch residents are able to pre-register for tickets now which cost €50.40 and €61.60 respectively, or €89.60 for a combi ticket.

An event similar to Celebrate Life was announced at the beginning of the year by Live Nation Belgium, Studio Brussel and the Subs.

Billed as Belgium’s biggest “post-Covid party”, ‘I Want to Dance Again‘ will also take place in Antwerp as soon as restrictions on major events are lifted.

 


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TicketSwap expands network with Portugal’s Boom

Amsterdam-based resale platform TicketSwap has announced a partnership with long-running festival, Boom.

The partnership includes integration with their ticketing company Weezevent, which allows TicketSwap to void a sold ticket and instead issue new tickets to buyers.

This Secure Swap integration ensures that fans can buy and sell quickly and easily, while providing visibility to the festival organiser.

The partnership with Boom marks TicketSwap’s first foray into Portugal and follows recent launches in Italy and Brazil.

“It’s great to have such a prominent partner for Portugal as we continue on our mission to be the experience platform that every fan loves”

“We are delighted to be working with Boom Festival,” says TicketSwap CEO Hans Ober. “The event is spectacular and people travel from all over the world to be there. We are very pleased to provide a safe and transparent way for fans to sell their tickets at a fair price.”

“TicketSwap have been expanding at a pace. We have set up an office in Brazil, launched in Italy, and we’re hiring our first local staff in the UK, Sweden, and Germany. It’s great to have such a prominent partner for Portugal as we continue on our mission to be the experience platform that every fan loves.”

The 25th edition of Boom festival will take place on 22–29th June 2022.

The event, which takes place every two years, has been ‘exceptionally popular’ on TicketSwap, with nearly 4,000 people registering for tickets and almost 500 tickets sold in the first three days.

 


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Senbla acquires European promoter GEA Live

Senbla, the Sony-backed promoter and producer based in the UK, has acquired a majority stake (51%) in live music and production business, GEA Live (General Entertainment Associates).

Amsterdam based GEA Live has been developing and producing shows worldwide since 2003, most notably for the late Italian producer Ennio Morricone for the final six years of his career, which encompassed more than 100 arena concerts in Europe.

GEA Live has specialised in the development and exploitation of IP in a live setting, producing official legacy tours such as Elvis Live on Screen, or career highlights productions with composers like James Newton Howard and Giorgio Moroder, as well as in-concert productions of well-known television and film franchises.

The acquisition will see Senbla collaborate with GEA Live on a range of projects including the Live in Concert version of Netflix’s hit series Our Planet (narrated by Sir David Attenborough), a space project with the European Space Agency with music by film composer Ilan Eshkeri, and a new arena show curated by Ennio Morricone.

“Senbla and [CEO] Ollie Rosenblatt have been trusted allies throughout the years,” says Floris Douwes, CEO and co-founder of GEA Live.

“[We want] to bring the best entertainment to fans, whilst engaging IP and rights owners [for] maximum commercial return”

“The new partnership came about almost organically and sets us up for further sustainable growth into new markets. The synergetic advantage it creates, to mutually develop and produce IP with a strategy that is both global in appeal as well as locally informed, is second to none.”

Ollie Rosenblatt, CEO of Senbla, adds: “As we continue to build momentum and scope in the business, I am delighted our next European chapter is with Floris, Ton and the wonderful team and shows they have built at GEA Live. We have a range of creative ideas we are developing, which match our ambition to bring the best entertainment to the fans, whilst really engaging IP and rights owners to provide maximum commercial return”.

The new alliance follows Senbla’s 2020 acquisition of boutique UK festivals Strawberries and Creem and The Cambridge Club.

Through Sony Masterworks, Senbla has also acquired businesses in the experiential space, family entertainment and theatre – both in the UK and the US – most notably Terrapin Station Entertainment and Seaview Productions.

Past Senbla events include concerts by Burt Bacharach, Diana Ross, Marc Almond, Michael Bublé, Ennio Morricone and Quincy Jones, and screenings with live orchestra of Love ActuallyHarry PotterStar WarsBeauty and the Beast and Joker.

 


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Dutch gov plots 80+ test concerts over nine days

The Netherlands will host more than 80 concerts across nine days as part of an extensive pilot programme of cultural activities, announced last night (6 April) by the Dutch government.

Music venues across the country, including Amsterdam’s Paradiso and Milky Way, will accommodate a total of 11,000 visitors at 87 reduced-capacity shows between 22 and 30 April.

The programme, which stretches across April and includes theatre shows and museum openings, will trial the use of test certificates which display Covid-19 test results or vaccination status.

Participants must show either a negative Covid-19 test result or proof of vaccination upon entry, and adhere to the 1.5-metre social distancing rule once inside the concert.

“There is close consultation with the municipalities about the feasibility and enforceability of the pilots,” says minister for education, culture and science, Ingrid van Engelshoven. “If these are successful, a good start can then be made with test evidence on a large scale.

“If these [pilot events] are successful, a good start can then be made with test evidence on a large scale”

“It is important that we start with this, also for all those cultural institutions that have not been able to receive an audience for a long time. The monuments, museums, theatres and music venues can now carefully open their doors.”

The pilot scheme will run alongside Fieldlab Events’ forthcoming test shows, which includes the Eurovision Song Contest in May and the 3FM Awards, which was announced today (7 April).

The 3FM Awards will be presented on 15 April at TivoliVredenburg in Utrecht with 1,000 people in attendance. Live performances will be delivered by Son Mieux and The Vices.

The most recent Fieldlab Events pilots, two test festivals held at the Lowlands site in Biddinghuizen on 20 and 21 March, were used to trial the government’s new CoronaCheck app.

The calendar for the full pilot programme can be viewed on the central government website. Artists for the concerts are yet to be announced.

 


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Thousands take part in “historic” Dutch test events

Thousands of Dutch residents took part in the latest Back to Live test events, which took place in the Ziggo Dome (cap. 17,000) at the weekend.

Saturday’s dance event saw 1,300 people visit the Amsterdam venue to enjoy sets from domestic DJs including Sam Feldt, Lady Bee and Sunnery James and Ryan Marciano.

The next day André Hazes delivered a concert in the venue, with the same amount of participants.

The events, organised by Mojo and ID&T, ran from 3 pm till 7 pm in order to comply with the nationwide curfew from 9 pm to 4:30 am, which has been in place for the past six weeks.

Around 100,000 people applied for the Ziggo Dome events, which were priced at €15 (£13), and tickets for both sold out in 20 minutes.

“One group was given a fluorescent drink and encouraged to sing in order to examine how much saliva was released”

Those who successfully secured a ticket had to have received a negative Covid-19 test 48 hours prior to the event. Twelve applicants had received a positive test result and were turned away. Those who did attend were asked to take another test five days afterwards.

Those participating were traced in all their movements and contacts through a tag.

Participants were divided into five ‘bubbles’ of 250 people, plus one of 50, each of which had to comply with different rules.

In bubble 1, participants were told to wear a mask throughout the event. They could decide for themselves where to stand but had to ensure that there were no more than three people in a square metre of space.

In bubble 2, participants wore a mask at all times but were told to keep a distance of 1.5 metres. In bubble 3, participants wore a mouth mask only when in motion and had to stand on designated spots.

In bubble 4, people wore masks all the time and were permitted to sit down. In bubble 5, people wore masks only when on the move. There were standing and seating areas. The participants were put in their dancing spot by the organisers with two chairs spacing people apart.

In bubble 6, participants did not wear masks and were allowed to stand or sit where and when they pleased.

One group was given a fluorescent drink and encouraged to sing and scream to the music in order to examine how much saliva was released at moments of peak revelry, according to The Guardian.

Tim Boersma, of Fieldlab, the organisation carrying out the research for the government, told the newspaper: “We hope this can lead to a tailor-made reopening of venues. Measures are now generic, allowing for instance a maximum of 100 guests at any event if coronavirus infections drop to a certain level. We hope for more specific measures, such as allowing the Ziggo Dome to open at half its capacity.”

“We hope this can lead to a tailor-made reopening of venues”

Rosanne Janmaat, COO of ID&T, said the events were “a historical moment”, adding: “Hopefully this is the key to being able to reopen”.

The Back to Live series has so far included Back to Live Business, which simulated a conference environment, took place at Utrecht’s Beatrix Theatre on Monday (15 February) with 500 people, as well as two football matches with 1,200 supporters at each.

Two music festivals – a dance music event and a rock/pop festival – will take place on Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 March, respectively, on the Lowlands site in Biddinghuizen, in the central Netherlands.

Government advisers will use the behavioural data collected to inform decisions on whether or not to ease restrictions on nightlife in the near future. It is more than a year since gatherings of more than 100 people were banned in the Netherlands. All bars and restaurants in the country have been closed since mid-October.

 


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Fieldlab reveals details on Back to Live pilot festivals

Fieldlab, the organisation spearheading the ‘Back to Live’ test series in the Netherlands, has revealed details on the previously announced open-air festival pilots.

The eight-event test series is being orchestrated with Event Platform, the Alliance of Event Builders and the government to investigate how events with an increased visitor capacity can take place safely and responsibly during the pandemic.

The festival tests are being organised along with Dutch promoters Mojo and ID&T and will take place at the event site in Biddinghuizen – home to festivals such as Defqon.1 and Lowlands.

Fieldlab and Lowlands director, Eric van Eerdenburg, has revealed that the festivals will likely be scheduled for March, kicking off mid-afternoon and running until the early evening in case a curfew is in place.

Eerdenburg also said that each festival will host 1,500 visitors, who will be tested before and after the events, and are required to wear masks for the duration.

Participants will be ‘tagged’ at the entrance and admitted in phases before they’re free to roam the mini-festival, which will include several stages and food trucks.

Fieldlab’s Tim Boersma told 3voor12: “It is not a medical experiment, we will look at contact. Everyone is tagged at the entrance. Not all of those 1,500 people meet, but how many do, and for how long? In which places do crowds arise? Can you solve that by installing more toilet blocks, for example?”

The organisation plans to announce the exact dates for the festival tests next week.

Each festival will host 1,500 visitors, who will be tested before and after the events, and are required to wear masks

The postponed ‘Back to Live’ pilot shows that are scheduled to take place this month include a cabaret performance by Guido Weijers to 500 guests at the Beatrix Theatre in Utrecht (20 February), a business conference at the Jaarbeurs in Utrecht (15th) and two football matches at the home grounds of NEC (21st) and Almere City FC (28th).

Details have also been revealed about how the football games will take place. Each match will kick off at 12:15 pm at the respective grounds and will host 1,500 season tickets holders.

For the match at NEC’s home ground, the Goffert Stadium in Nijmegen, the 1,500 attendees will be split into six ‘bubbles’ of 250 for the purpose of the investigation.

For the game at Almere City FC’s home ground, the Yanmar Stadion in Almere, the visitors will be divided into three ‘bubbles’ of 200, 600 and 700 people.

During each type of test event, Fieldlab will study several ‘building blocks’ that contribute to prevention and reduction of the risk of spreading the Covid-19 virus including behaviour; triage, tracking and tracing; rapid tests; visitor dynamics; air quality; personal protection; cleaning and disinfection of surfaces and materials; vulnerable groups.

The Back to Live test series will also include a concert and a dance event at Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam, also organised by Mojo and ID&T, which are yet to be announced.

 


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ADE reaches millions with virtual 2020 event

The 25th edition of Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE), which took place from Wednesday 21 to Sunday 25 October, reached millions of people across the world with the festival’s first-ever digital event, organisers have revealed.

The yearly ADE Pro conference, which traditionally takes place alongside the festival, also took place in an online environment and attracted thousands of electronic music industry professionals.

Highlights of the event included a live conversation between Timbaland, Martin Garrix and David Guetta, The Evolution of Sounds, with more than 250,000 people tuning in globally. Meanwhile, the ADE Pro conference delved into future prospects for artists, clubs and festivals, health issues with James Blake, activism and music with Neneh Cherry and more. All ADE Pro content is available on demand via the platform.

Other sessions of note included the European premiere of the documentary Larry’s Garage, a collaboration with Nyege Nyege festival from Uganda and a livestream from Elrow with Desperados, which attracted hundreds of thousands of viewers.

“It’s great we were able to fulfil our role as a world-leading platform for electronic music even in these strange times”

In addition, studio tours and master classes by a wide range of artists, including Bloody Mary, Carista, Carl Cox, Âme’s Frank Wiedeman and Pan-Pot, formed an in-depth program for the new generation of DJs, while viewers were given a glimpse into the future of digital performances with innovative audiovisual experiences.

Elsewhere, favourite moments from previous editions of ADE were shared on TikTok with the hashtag #ADEmoments throughout the week, with the likes of Tiësto, Martin Garrix, Stella Bossi, Don Diablo, Armin van Buuren and Carly Wilford getting involved, as well as the Rijksmuseum and other organisations. This reached more than 35 million people.

ADE co-directors Jan-Willem van de Ven and Meindert Kennis, who took over from Mariana Sanchotene for this year’s event, jointly comment: “We obviously had something different in mind when we started in December, but given the circumstances we’re happy to hear people say we’ve raised the bar for the future of digital events.

“It’s great that we were able to fulfil our role as a world-leading platform for electronic music even in these strange times and we look forward to further developing the digital platform over the coming months to benefit our subscribers.”

 


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