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Romanian execs slam Minaj’s ‘safety concerns’ claim

Romanian promoters have attempted to set the record straight after Nicki Minaj cancelled a performance in Bucharest due to “safety concerns”.

The Trinidadian-born rapper was due to make her Romanian debut at the fourth edition of SAGA festival on Sunday (7 July) but cancelled her appearance mere hours before her stage time citing “safety concerns regarding protests in the area”.

“I have been advised by my security detail not to travel to Romania,” she wrote on social media. “I have to make sure I’m making sound decisions”.

The cancellation came a day after Minaj arrived 90 minutes late onstage in Dublin – leaving fans waiting in the pouring rain – and performed for less than an hour.

She also rescheduled a gig in Manchester and cancelled a second show in Amsterdam in May following an arrest over possession of drugs.

“All kinds of jokes have been made that Romania must have the most violent accountants in the world”

Codruța Vulcu, owner and CEO of ARTmania, Romania’s longest-running rock festival, tells IQ it was “strange” to hear of Minaj’s reason for cancelling her SAGA appearance.

“There was a scheduled, authorised protest on Monday organised by accountants and fiscal advisers,” she explains. “However, with an estimated attendance of a maximum of a couple of thousand people, all safety and security threats were extremely low.

“I know we are all wary of our accountants with their deadlines and paperwork requests,” she jokes, “But cancelling a show for such a protest is inexplicable to me. There is no unrest, not even something close to it.”

Guido Janssens, managing partner of Bucharest-based promoter Emagic, adds: “I laughed when I heard about it. All kinds of jokes have been made that Romania must have the most violent accountants in the world.

“The country is full of events and we have a major international artist cancelling a performance because of a peaceful protest with a few thousand people five or six kilometres from the festivals?”

“It gives the world this idea that Romania is a country that’s not safe”

Janssens adds that he feels sorry for the organisers and suggests that Minaj could’ve avoided a last-minute cancellation.

“It’s important to note that the protest was officially announced on 4 July, one day before the festival started and three days before Nicki Minaj was supposed to go on stage,” he says. “So if it was a serious concern, [Minaj] or her head of security could have decided at that moment that it was too dangerous.”

Both promoters have expressed concern that Minaj’s comments have painted Romania in a bad light.

“It gives the world this idea that Romania is a country that’s not safe,” says Janssens, who points out that Romania and Bucharest have recently hosted many major events with no incidents to speak of.

Vulcu testified to his point, adding “During last weekend, there were thousands of other events organised across Romania and none had any issue due to unrest. Just one example out of Bucharest, where Bucharest Municipality organised its OpenStreets event, where over 100,000 people took part.

“Bucharest and Romania’s cities, in general, are among the safest in Europe”

“Bucharest and Romania’s cities, in general, are among the safest in Europe. And nothing spectacular happened this Sunday in Bucharest that could generate an unsettling feeling. Artists, managers, and agents have no reason to feel unsafe about Bucharest or Romania.”

At the time of Minaj’s cancellation, SAGA festival posted a statement saying the dropout “has nothing to do with SAGA, and is beyond our powers,” adding that refunds will be offered.

“The news has left us all devastated, and we know it’s a huge disappointment for all of you, just as it is for us,” the statement continued.

IQ has reached out to SAGA and the event’s promoter ALDA for further comment.

Minaj’s performance at SAGA is part of her largest tour to date, Nicki Minaj Presents: Pink Friday 2 World, which spans almost 40 concerts across North America and Europe.

The rapper’s next performance is scheduled for this Friday (12 July) at Wireless festival in Finsbury Park, London.

 


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Festivals ’24: Fuji Rock, North Sea Jazz, ARTmania

The 2024 festival season is continuing to take shape, with the likes of Fuji Rock, North Sea Jazz Festival and End of the Road the latest to show their hands.

Kraftwerk are the first headliner confirmed for Smash’s Fuji Rock, which will be held between 26-28 July at Naeba Ski Resort in Tokyo, Japan.

The first wave of artists also includes Girl in Red, Turnstile, Floating Points, Ride, Yussef Dayes, Angie McMahon, Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, Erika De Casier, Eyedress, Fontaines DC, Hiroko Yamamura, The Last Dinner Party, No Party for Cao Dong, NOTD, Rufus Wainwright and Yin Yin.

Taking place from 12-14 July at Rotterdam Ahoy in the Netherlands, North Sea Jazz Festival will present concerts from Sting, Raye, Corinne Bailey Rae, Masego, Sampha, Brittany Howard, Noname, Tems, Black Pumas, Benjamin Clementine, Vulfpeck, Sting, Jamie Cullum, Knower and Reuben James, among others.

ARTmania Festival in Sibiu, Transylvania, Romania will host acts such as Korn, Spiritbox, Satyricon, The Flower Kings, Borknagar, Monuments, Taine, Awake the Demons and Alpha Q from 26-28 July.

Finland’s Flow Festival, which is set for 9-11 August, has added Raye, Idles, Tinashe, Alvvays, Blonde Redhead, L’Impératrice, Miriam Bryant Karri Koira, Ege Zulu & Orchestra, Yeboyah, Vesta, Jesse Markin, Jambo, Knife Girl, Glayden and Shrty. Fred again.., Pulp, The Smile, PJ Harvey, Jessie Ware, Denzel Curry, Overmono and Kenya Grace have already been announced for the event in Suvilahti, Helsinki.

Shania Twain will make her BST Hyde Park debut on 7 July, with special guests The Corrs and more names to be announced. Twain joins Andrea Bocelli (5 July), Robbie Williams (6 July) and Stray Kids (14 July) in headlining the London concert series this summer.

Elsewhere in London, Alexandra Palace’s Kaleidoscope Festival will be topped by Ministry of Sound Classical on 13 July, alongside a supporting cast including Soul II Soul, The Go! Team, Antony Szmierek, Huey Morgan, Mr Scruff, Erol Alkan, X-Press 2 and Artful Dodger.

End of the Road Festival returns to Larmer Tree Gardens, Blandford Forum, Dorset from 29 August to 1 September, headlined by Idles, Slowdive, Fever Ray and Bonnie “Prince” Billy. Other acts will include Yo La Tengo, Sleater-Kinney, Lankum, Baxter Dury, Jockstrap, Ty Segall, CMAT, Phosphorescent, Nation of Language, Camera Obscura, The Lemon Twigs, Mdou Moctar and Gruff Rhys.

Crowded House (17 June), Paolo Nutini (18 June), Jungle (27 June) and Underworld (29 June) are the first batch of headline artists for the second edition of Senbla’s On The Mount at Wasing concerts at Wasing Estate in Reading, Berkshire.

Wasing Estate will also present Solstice At The Mount – an “immersive celebration of world music and culture” – on 20 June, starring headliners Nick Mulvey and Rodrigo Y Gabriela on the main stage, together with intimate late night fireside performances from Awarë and Ajeet.

Eden Sessions at the Eden Project in Cornwall has so far announced Crowded House (12 June), Fatboy Slim (15 June), Paolo Nutini (19 June), Suede and Manic Street Preachers (29 June), The National and This Is the Kit (2 July), Rick Astley and the Lightning Seeds (3 July), Tom Grennan (5 July) and JLS (13 July).

Plus, Nocturne Live at Blenheim Palace will welcome Chaka Khan, Sister Sledge and The Fatback Band (13 June), Sugababes, Melanie C and Shaznay Lewis (15 June) and Crowded House, Sheryl Crow and Turin Brakes (16 June).

Insomniac Events has unveiled the bill for the first Beyond Wonderland Chicago, in partnership with Chicago-based Auris Presents. Tiësto, Diplo, Benny Benassi, Kaskade, RL Grime, Eli Brown, Alesso, Chris Lorenzo, Matroda, DJ Minx, Hugel, Eli Brown, Claptone, Patrick Topping and Felix Da Housecat are among the electronic music stars lined up for the 1-2 June event at Huntington Bank Pavilion, Northerly Island.

In addition, the inaugural Dance with Me x Ahabaja festival will debut from 30 March to 1 April in San José Del Cabo, Mexico. A collaboration between promoters Austin Gavlak and Art with Me, the event grounds and gardens will be filled with art co-curated by the family behind Zonamaco, the largest art fair platform in Latin America. The line-up includes Black Coffee, Bedouin, LP Giobbi, Parallelle, Gab Rhome and Stavroz.

“Ahabaja is our tribute to a part of the world we have fallen in love with,” says Gavlak, founder of Colarado’s Powerbunga festival. “Art with Me and I want to bring our communities together on this breathtaking beachfront and pair its natural beauty with the sounds of incredible music and the sights of powerful art in nature. We want people to carry the Ahabaha energy and vibe with them long after the last set.”

Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi’s Wireless Festival Middle East has postponed its second edition, originally scheduled for 2 March. Time Out Dubai reports the festival has been pushed back to November, with an exact start date and headline act still to be revealed.

“After careful consideration and with the utmost dedication to providing the best musical experience for our attendees, we have decided to move the date of the 2024 edition of Wireless Festival to November,” says Live Nation Middle East president James Craven.

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

 


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Festival chiefs talk sector’s issues and solutions

The Eurosonic Noorderslag (ESNS) conference programme kicked off this morning with an IQ panel exploring the shared challenges of festival organisers from around Europe and some of the ways in which they resolve those issues.

The Common Ground: Boutique and Major Festivals session, moderated by IQ editor Gordon Masson, saw guests Beke Trojan (MS Dockville), Codruta Vulcu (ARTmania), Eric van Eerdenburg (Lowlands) and Virág Csiszár (Sziget) tackle a variety of subjects including supply chain issues, ticket prices, timing of announcements, staffing, gender balance on line-ups, and artist booking.

“The problems we had in 22 and 23, I think are over,” said Van Eerdenburg about supply chain matters. “But the answer has been that we have to invest and pay much more for the stuff that’s coming in. And that translates to ticket prices that are rising faster than inflation, which is already high – that’s what is the most worrying issue for me.”

Noting that the price of a three-day ticket for ARTmania is just €90, Vulcu admitted that she and her team are contemplating taking the event to just two days because of other pressures on the audience. “The cost of hotels for the audience was maybe €100 per night, so for three nights practically, accommodation was ridiculous, which in the long term could kill the festival because it’s not sustainable.”

Trojan noted, “Our aim is to book a festival with a good mix of international national artists. But we are definitely struggling getting the international names because it’s January, and they’re only starting to make decisions now, which is very late for us, because rigorous planning and ticket sales really should be a lot earlier.

“We have a very young audience that buy the tickets very last minute, so we need to sell day tickets”

“Obviously we would want to sell three-day tickets, but we have a very young audience that buy the tickets very last minute, so we need to sell day tickets. But even with that, we can’t really announce like the day line-up yet, because we’re still struggling with international names. It’s a big problem, but I don’t really have a solution.”

Csiszár revealed that with Sziget’s massive audience involving more than 50% international visitors, local Hungarian acts are not really an option for the bill, even though some of them can sell out stadiums. “International people don’t really get it, so we can’t book them as headliners, but it’s the international stadium acts that we have to look at as our headliners, which is also difficult when there are so many stadium tours happening,” she said. “Stadium tours are definitely competitors for us during the summer.”

Both Csiszár and Van Eerdenburg said that they were using VIP offers such as glamping and sky boxes to help balance the books, rather than pushing general admission tickets too high in price, while with all the panellists working to improve gender balance on line-ups, the conversation moved to the timing of announcements and the various strategies employed by each festival.

The session concluded with panellists answering a question from an audience member regarding their expectations for the next generation of industry staff. Van Eerdenburg stated that when his colleagues work long hours at festivals, he compensates them with weeks off after the event. He added that when it comes to recruitment, “I always pick the [people] who are also working in a club, or running a stage, or volunteering at a festival, because they have the motivation to not only do it theory, but also in practice.”

 


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Festival heads talk costs: “There is trouble ahead”

European festival heads discussed the impact of spiralling costs on the 2022 and 2023 festival seasons at last week’s Reeperbahn Festival in Hamburg, Germany.

Stephan Thanscheidt (FKP Scorpio, DE), Catharine Krämer (DreamHaus, DE), and Codruța Vulcu (ARTmania, RO) were among the pros discussing higher expenses during the Festival Season 22/23 panel.

Thanscheidt told the panel that while Hamburg-headquartered FKP Scorpio sold out 27 of its 28 festivals, the margins were “complete shit” due to higher expenses.

“Production costs are up 25–30%,” he said. “It depends on the department because some [costs] are up just 10% but others were like 120%. This year we were put into a corner where we could either say yes [to the increase] or just not do the festival.”

The company’s festival portfolio includes Hurricane (DE), Southside (DE), Provinssi (FI), Sideways (FI), Greenfield (CH), Best Kept Secret (NL) and new festival Tempelhof Sounds (DE) – some of which were €30 to €50 more expensive to attend this year.

While FKP Scorpio sold out 27 of its 28 festivals, the margins were “complete shit” due to higher expenses

“We’re trying to [increase ticket prices] in a very smooth way,” said Thanscheidt. “If we get to €400–500 for normal festival tickets, we’ll have a problem. We’re trying to be very sensible in setting the prices. So we’re very happy that the audience was fine with that and we sold all the tickets without getting a shitstorm on socials or something.”

In Romania, rising costs are only exacerbated by the country’s close proximity to the war in Ukraine.

“The inflation rate is 15.5% which is extremely high so everything from production to personnel was completely out of proportion,” said Vulcu, CEO of ARTmania, Romania’s longest-running rock festival.

Vulcu told the panel that many of the festival’s partners backed out of supporting the 2022 event but the main sponsor, German hypermarket chain Kaufland, offered to make up the slack.

“They said ‘Okay, let’s give you some more money to survive. Can we take extra costs from you that we can put on our budgets?’ So it was a positive and totally unexpected turn but apparently, they were they are wanting to be the saviours of festivals,” she said.

“The inflation rate [in Romania] is 15.5% so everything from production to personnel was completely out of proportion”

Looking towards next year’s ARTmania, which is already on sale, Vulcu says it’s hard to see how the festival can spread skyrocketing costs.

“We book mainly internationally and the prices that I’m getting from some artists are not low but we can’t put the ticket prices so high that the young people can’t come,” she explained.

DreamHaus’ Krämer says the Berlin-based agency is facing a similar stalemate situation for next year’s festival season after their production costs increased 25–30%.

“No supplier will ever say ‘We’re going back to the prices that we had in 2019’,” she said. “So we could lower the cost of the whole festival experience but this would have a significant impact on the whole quality of it.”

CTS Eventim-backed DreamHaus is jointly responsible for organising and programming the Rock am Ring and Rock im Park festivals, which have a combined attendance of 150,000, among other events.

“We could lower the cost of the whole festival experience but this would have a significant impact on the quality”

Referencing Thanscheidt’s earlier point, Krämer added: “There are not that many suppliers that can supply festivals of our size so we’re also in a corner, where we can take it or leave it.”

Thanscheidt says the crisis will only get worse ahead of next year’s season, though he’s bullish about the industry’s ability to come up with solutions.

“Costs will not go down next year,” said Thanscheidt. “Gas and electricity prices are doubled now and they will be tripled in a few weeks. Inflation might go up again.

“There are some months of trouble coming up and the result is yet to be seen. But of course, we will all stay very positive because that’s what we always do in an industry in which most of us have a DIY background. So let’s see how we solve this but it will not be easy.”

 


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ARTmania spearheads launch of job site for Ukrainians

European festivals ARTmania (Romania) and Pohoda (Slovakia) have teamed up with Music Export Ukraine to launch a pan-European job site that aims to help displaced Ukrainians from the live music industry find work in other countries.

The companies say that ARTery was launched as a reaction to the war in Ukraine but that the platform will also counter the effects of the staff shortage in Europe caused by Covid.

“We want to help [Ukrainians] resume their lives with dignity in other countries and give them a sense of normality by helping them to do what they’re trained to do,” Codruța Vulcu, festival director at ARTMania in Romania, previously told IQ.

“We want to help [Ukrainians] resume their lives with dignity in other countries”

“The aim is that these people don’t end up washing dishes in Berlin, for example, but that they can continue the work they’ve studied and prepared for – and all that added value will not get lost,” she says.

The platform officially launched on Saturday (7 May) and is already advertising jobs for ARTmania festival, Music Export Ukraine and European Music Exporters Exchange in Belgium.

Companies can post a job, while Ukrainian music representatives can register and create a profile in order to browse job offers and apply directly. Visit the ARTery website here.

 


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European live industry stepping up for Ukraine

Live music markets around the world are pitching in to support the citizens of Ukraine, as the Russian military continues its full-scale invasion of the country.

From helping with logistics at borders to finding employment for displaced professionals, the global sector is utilising its unique resources to help those fleeing the conflict.

Codruța Vulcu, festival director at ARTMania in Romania, is spearheading the launch of a pan-European job site that aims to help uprooted Ukrainians from the live music industry find work in other countries.

“We want to help them resume their lives with dignity in other countries and give them a sense of normality by helping them to do what they’re trained to do,” she tells IQ.

“I would call it an ideological solution for what Putin is trying to do. He’s trying to destroy a way of life and whatever these people have built and invested in.

“We want to help them resume their lives with dignity in other countries and give them a sense of normality”

“The aim is that these people don’t end up washing dishes in Berlin, for example, but that they can continue the work they’ve studied and prepared for – and all that added value will not get lost,” she says.

The platform, due to launch within the next week, is called ARTery for that very reason. “An artery keeps life going,” she explains. “It keeps the flow of blood and life – and so to say the activity of art – going.”

Michal Kascak from Pohoda, Slovakia’s biggest festival, is also involved in the project and the pair are attempting to enlist as many festivals, companies and venues within the industry as possible.

Vulcu hopes that, even after the war, the platform will be used by creatives around the world fleeing from conflict areas or dictatorial regimes – including Russians.

Alongside the launch of ARTery, ARTMania and Pohoda are deploying production staff to help organise logistics at their respective borders.

“I think that we as concert promoters, venues, clubs, festivals should offer slots in our events to Ukrainians who can play”

In addition, Pohoda also recently organised a solidarity concert for the people of Ukraine, which became a high-profile event in Slovakia.

“Slovakia’s president Zuzana Čaputová came to the event and made a great speech onstage, which was a surprise for everyone,” Kascak tells IQ.

“I was also positively surprised that public TV called us the evening before and asked to join the concert. Slovenska One, the major channel in Slovakia, broadcast the concert live on TV for three hours nonstop!”

The concert took place last Sunday (27 February) in Bratislava’s Main Square and featured more than 20 acts from Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Ukraine.

“I think that we as concert promoters, venues, clubs, festivals should offer slots in our events to Ukrainians who can play and bring a message from their country to ours,” says Kascak. “I think it can be a strong gesture and can also help to unite people and to spread the message about what’s going on in Ukraine.”

But it’s not just neighbouring countries that are pitching in to support citizens in Ukraine. In Austria, promoter Barracuda Music has transformed part of Nova Rock‘s festival site into a refugee centre.

Nova Rock Hall, which is typically used as a backstage and hospitality area during the festival, is now equipped to accommodate up to 480 refugees.

“The hall is set up in multiple sections, which are suited for 50 people each and include beds and seating,” Barracuda Music CEO Ewald Tatar explains to IQ. “Electricity, water, heating, light and hygiene and sanitation facilities (toilets, garbage disposal etc.) are all installed to accommodate the refugees.”

“It is important that the international live music industry shows solidarity with Ukraine,” adds Tatar.

Alongside the refugee centre, Nova Rock is also gearing up for a fundraising concert, titled ‘We Stand with Ukraine’.

The charity gig, announced today, is scheduled for 19 March at Ernst Happel-Stadion, Vienna, and donations will benefit people affected by the Ukraine war.

Nova Rock’s event is one of countless fundraisers around the world that have been organised to aid victims of the war.

Romanian promoter ALDA is spearheading two benefit events – We Are One at Bucharest stadium and Dance for Ukraine in Poland. Elsewhere, Brussels-based festivals, nightclubs and events have announced an open-air festival at Atomium.

Poland’s Follow the Step is gearing up to announce “the biggest show in Poland together with television and local artists”. While, across the pond, New York’s City Winery is hosting a benefit featuring Ukrainian-born Eugene Hütz & Gogol Bordello, as well as the likes of Patti Smith.

See a non-exhaustive list of benefit concerts, compiled by Music Export Ukraine, below.

 


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ARTMania’s Codruța Vulcu honoured in Romania

Codruța Vulcu, owner and CEO of ARTmania Festival, visited the Cotroceni Palace in Bucharest on National Culture Day to receive Romania’s Order of Cultural Merit.

She was awarded the prestigious medal on 15 January by Romanian president Klaus Iohannis in recognition of her services to the arts.

Vulcu is the director and founder of ARTmania Festival in Sibiu, the East European Music Conference and Showcase Festival, BlajaLive Festival and Romanian Music Export, as well as vice-president of the Romanian Association of Promoters of Concerts and Cultural Events (Aroc). In 2019 she also organised the official ceremonies for Pope Francis on the Field of Liberty in Blaj, Romania.

“This distinction that belongs to each colleague and collaborator that has been by my side during my 17-year career”

“I am honoured to receive this special distinction, unique in the life of a professional,” she says. “It is an acknowledgement that belongs to all those who believed in me and taught me; a distinction that belongs to each colleague and collaborator that has been by my side during my 17-year career in the music sector.

“Developing and launching international projects like ARTmania or BlajaLive, establishing a musical export bureau, and successfully organising the ceremonies during the official visit of His Holiness Pope Francis, are the results of not just one individual but of an entire team.”

ARTmania, Romania’s longest-running rock festival, won best small festival at the European Festival Awards in 2019, while Vulcu won the award for excellence and passion last year in a personal capacity. The 2021 edition of the festival takes place from 23 to 25 July.

 


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Festival bosses talk cash flow, artist fees

The second IQ Focus festival panel, Festival Forum: The Next Stage, saw festival leaders from around Europe discuss the thorny issues of refunds and insolvency, as well as the outlook for 2021, in what should have been the halfway point of the 2020 season.

Hosted by IQ Magazine editor Gordon Masson, the panel welcomed Mad Cool’s CIndy Castillo, Isle of Wight Festival/Solo Agency’s John Giddings, ARTmania’s Codruta Vulcua and Goodlive’s Stefan Lehmkuhl, two months on from the initial virtual Festival Forum session.

The current situation, said Giddings, has made it “blatantly obvious” that the business has an issue with cash flow and that many promoters don’t have any kind of “war chest to go forwards”.

“I don’t understand how you bankrupt companies by refunding tickets,” he said. “You shouldn’t be spending the ticket money on costs – you need to be in the position to be able to refund all the money. We have a responsibility to the audience.”

Giddings noted that some promoters have got into the habit of “taking money from the future to pay the past”, and it has become clear that this doesn’t work.

“This may teach people a lesson on how to run a business,” he said.

The other panellists agreed to an extent, but noted that a lack of support and clarity from the authorities has complicated matters in a lot of cases.

“This may teach people a lesson on how to run a business”

“Our government hasn’t even declared force majeure yet for live events”, said Castillo, who promotes Madrid’s Mad Cool festival. “This has put us in a very tricky legal situation.”

The Mad Cool team only started its refund period last week, explained Castillo, but is allowing people to make the decision on whether to hold onto tickets for next year or refund them until after the full 2021 line-up is revealed.

In Romania, said Vulcu, an immediate reimbursement “would have bankrupted many organisers”, as the government is implementing new restrictions every two weeks.

“There are companies with shows built up, everything ready and paid for, and then suddenly it had to be cancelled,” she said. A voucher scheme implemented by the government, allowing promoters to offer credit for shows or merchandise in place of cash refunds, has been a lifeline for many.

ARTmania did choose to offer refunds, but only received 43 requests. “Our decision to trust our audience really worked for us,” said Vulcu, adding that this tactic may “work for rock and metal audiences perhaps more than for others.”

Lehmkuhl, who runs German festivals including Melt, Splash, Superbloom and With Full Force, added that a lot depends on how long the shutdown continues for.

“So far, we have been able to spend our own money,” he said,” but the next step would be to touch the ticket money, then to get low-interest credit from the government in case it takes longer.

“What happens if it takes longer than a year?” he asked. “Few companies will be able to survive for longer than a year.”

“Our decision to trust our audience really worked for us”

Mindful of cash flow, Goodlive has asked for deposits back from acts it booked for this year. “There is mutual understanding there,” said Lehmkuhl. “We are trying to rethink our festivals for next year, adjusting dates and concepts. We will start from scratch in some ways next year.”

As the promoter of Isle of Wight Festival, Giddings said he also asked for deposits to be returned. “We are doing contracts going forward for next year and will pay the deposit then.”

In terms of being an agent, Giddings said he is not going to take a fee reduction for artists. “I would rather they didn’t play than take a reduction on my act,” he said.

“As an agent I wouldn’t book an act for festival next year unless they’re going to pay me the same money,” he said, “and we’ve done the same thing as a festival.”

Ticket prices will also have to stay the same, as so many fans are rolling over their tickets to next year. “Anyone raising ticket prices is insane,” said Giddings. “We need to get an audience back first before charging more.”

Vulcu, who said she left the money with the agencies when rescheduling, agreed that she will not be paying artists less money, “but we will definitely not pay more”.

“Romanian audiences will have a lot less money and the priority will not be going to festivals,” she said.

“As an agent I wouldn’t book an act for festival next year unless they’re going to pay me the same money, and we’ve done the same thing as a festival”

Castillo said her experiences have been “positive” with every agent. “We are looking out for each other to prevent the industry collapsing,” she said.

The Mad Cool booker admitted that it will be “really hard” to get the same audiences next year, “so we need help with fees to make things happen”.

“We are running a big risk with the festival next year”.

The recovery of the music business in Spain “hasn’t event started yet”, said Castillo, as “you first have to understand our business model, identify problems and offer solutions – and we haven’t been offered any solutions yet.”

Vulcu added that support packages offered by governments in western European countries such as Germany and the UK may put newer markets at a disadvantage, as they are less likely to receive support.

Giddings replied that, although the recent culture funding package announced by the UK government is sizeable, “we have no idea who it’s going to go to and how it will work”. He added that it was more likely to benefit venues than agents or promoters.

Sponsors are another issue for 2021. “Investing in events is risky now,” said Castillo, “and this is definitely affecting us.”

Vulcu said that, while ARTmania has secured its main sponsor for next year, “it is very difficult to get new sponsors”.

“Investing in events is risky now, and this is definitely affecting us”

Most Isle of Wight Festival sponsors have also “stuck with us” said Giddings, who believes that sponsors will start to come back in once it’s clear the event is going to happen, although they may be “different kinds of sponsors relating to our changing normal”.

Giddings added that he is “praying” for some direction on what will happen next year by Christmas, with clear information needed by March at the latest.

For Lehmkuhl, the key for the “new normal” is a high level of flexibility and an ability to keep running costs very low.

The Goodlive co-founder said that the idea of testing at festivals “is one of the few realistic plans [for getting event up and running] nowadays”, provided that the government is able to provide tests for free.

“It is hard for me to imagine that we will be able to do festivals as normal next year,” he admitted, “but one thing’s for sure, I will not be doing them with social distancing.”

The next IQ Focus session State of Independence: Promoters will take place on Thursday 16 July at 4 p.m. BST/5 p.m. CET. To set a reminder head to the IQ Magazine page on Facebook or YouTube.

Watch yesterday’s session back below, or on YouTube or Facebook now.


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IQ Focus returns with ‘Festival Forum: The Next Stage’

After a week’s break, IQ’s virtual panel series – IQ Focus – is back with Festival Forum: The Next Stage, which sees representatives from a handful of European festivals give an update on the state of the sector.

The ninth panel of the popular IQ Focus series, the session will be streamed live on Facebook and YouTube on Thursday 9 July at 4 p.m. BST/5 p.m. CET, building on a previous Festival Forum panel almost two months on.

Midway through what would have been this year’s festival season, it’s a summer like no other. But are we midway through the crisis, or is there still further to go before the festival sector can confidently progress into 2021?

How confident are promoters feeling about next year, and are artists and audiences ready to return?

With a number of government support packages in place, and much of this year’s line-ups transplanted to next year, how confident are promoters feeling about next year, and are artists and audiences ready to return?

IQ Magazine editor Gordon Masson hosts this IQ Focus discussion with panellists Cindy Castillo of Spain’s Mad Cool festival; John Giddings of the Isle of Wight Festival and Solo Agency; Stefan Lehmkuhl who promotes Splash, Melt, Superbloom and With Full Force festivals at Germany’s Goodlive; and Codruta Vulcu of Romania’s ARTmania Festival.

All previous IQ Focus sessions, which have looked at topics including diversity in live, management under lockdown, the agency business, large-scale and grassroots music venues and innovation in live music, can be watched back here.

To set a reminder about the IQ Focus Festival Forum: The Next Stage session on Thursday head to the IQ Magazine page on Facebook or YouTube.

 


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European metal festivals form new alliance

Thirteen independent metal festivals from around Europe have joined forces to create a new alliance, which is hosting a virtual event in August to raise money for the independent festival sector.

Unveiled today (17 June), the European Metal Festival Alliance (Emfa) is a joint venture between Alcatraz in Belgium, Romania’s ARTmania, Bloodstock in the UK, Czech Republic’s Brutal Assault, Dynamo and Into The Grave in the Netherlands, Spain’s Leyendas Del Rock and Resurrection, Slovenia’s Metal Days, Midgardsblot in Norway, France’s Motocultor and German events Party.San and Summer Breeze.

The alliance is putting on a streaming event from 7 to 9 August with exclusive live performances from artists chosen by each festival, as well as a selection of interviews.

Thirteen independent metal festivals from around Europe have joined forces to create a new alliance

Viewers will be asked for €6.66 for a ‘full festival pass’ to raise funds for the independent festival sector, which has been particularly hard hit by the Covid-19 crisis. The pass will give fans access to three days of performances from over 35 acts, as well as a discount on a Emfa ‘Rebooting for 2021’ t-shirt.

Throughout the summer, the newly launched Emfa website will host a range of footage from its founding festivals, including many sets that have not been previously broadcast.

The line-up and schedule for the streaming event will be announced in the coming weeks, with tickets going on sale on 10 July here.

Bloodstock director Rachael Greenfield was among festival heads to take part in the IQ Focus panel Festival Forum: Here Come 21 last month. Set a reminder for this week’s panel, IQ Focus & The MMF: Managing the Crisis, on Facebook or YouTube.

 


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