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Ewald Tatar on “unforeseen challenges” at Nova Rock

Barracuda Music CEO Ewald Tatar has spoken to IQ about the “unforeseen and unpredictable” challenges at this year’s Nova Rock festival in Austria.

The annual hard rock event returned to Nickelsdorf last weekend (9–12 June) and featured acts including Muse, Placebo, Volbeat and Five Finger Death Punch.

The sold-out festival saw a total of 225,000 visitors flock to Pannonia Fields, which marked a new attendance record for Nova Rock.

According to Tatar, the festival’s biggest challenge was recovering from “the rain of the century,” which hit the country mere days before the festival was due to open its gates.

“During the 3-4 final days leading up to Nova Rock 2022 it rained more in the region than during the period between November 2021 and the beginning of June 2022 in total,” explains Tatar.

“This was very challenging for the final construction work on the festival site, as the ground, which is a field used for farming the other 11 months of the year, was completely soft and our vehicles got stuck. This was also the case for the festival visitors’ cars and caravans, which slowed down the arrival process and made it very tricky. As soon as it dried up and everyone had arrived, we had perfect festival weather: sunshine and heat!”

Despite the washout, Tatar says everything worked smoothly behind the scenes and both artists and crew were happy to be back on the fields after two years.

“Festivals and big events are what everyone in our team loves and loves being a part of and you could feel this euphoria and great energy during Nova Rock,” he says.

“Most artists mentioned on stage how happy they were to be back performing for huge audiences and you could tell, that the audience shared that feeling too! The atmosphere was incredibly energetic and positive as the area in front of the stage was packed with people dancing and singing along to their favourite bands, who loved playing a big festival again.”

Nova Rock, which is promoted by Nova Music Entertainment (part of CTS Eventim’s Barracuda Music), will return between 7 and 10 June in 2023.

 


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Goodlive co-MD on Austria’s ‘bumpy’ restart

Goodlive Artists Austria (GAA) co-MD Silvio Huber has brought IQ up to speed on the industry’s fortunes since the resumption of touring.

The Vienna-based promoter belatedly kicked off its concert year in March with a concert by Yanya Nilüfer at 700-cap club Grelle Forelle in the capital, while recent successful shows have included Conan Gray at the city’s 3,000-cap Gasometer.

And while Huber, who was head of booking for Arcadia Live before switching to Goodlive’s newly launched Austrian office last year is delighted to be back in business, it has not all been plain sailing so far.

“First of all, it’s great that we are able to promote shows again, but I would call it a bumpy restart,” he says. “There are lots of different and new challenges we must adapt to. We started with the first shows when the country saw the highest infections numbers ever, which wasn’t really a solid argument to buy a ticket.”

“We have noticed a very late buying pattern, especially in the first weeks after reopening”

Huber says the natural enthusiasm from the public to see international artists for the first time in two years has been tempered by the market being “slightly overplayed”.

“Postponed shows compete with new ones and not everyone is feeling ready for indoor shows yet,” he observes. “We have noticed a very late buying pattern, especially in the first weeks after reopening. Sometimes almost 50% of total sales were in the last one to two weeks, followed by high no-show rates of 30% or similar.

“Currently those figures are better, but we do see a hesitant buying attitude for shows in the autumn and winter.”

GAA has forthcoming dates with the likes of George Ezra, Moderat and Macy Gray, and has just started working with Dice following the ticketing platform’s expansion to Germany.

“That will be an exciting journey for sure,” says Huber. “Additionally, it underlines our ambition to abandon the well-trodden paths and break new ground.”

“We need to find a way to balance out rising costs, ticket prices and artist fees”

Though Huber admits to some trepidation with regards to the latter part of 2022, he believes that live music is well placed to overcome the obstacles of an increasingly challenging economy.

“This year’s cold season will be an unpredictable and tough challenge,” he advises. “Even if Covid isn’t an issue anymore and most of the current problems have been solved, we still have to deal with the impact of high inflation. Therefore we need to find a way to balance out rising costs, ticket prices and artist fees, but need to consider that people have less money to spend.

“On the other side, they will be looking for entertainment to get distracted. With this in mind our industry should be able to overcome another big challenge after the pandemic.”

 


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Austria’s Barracuda helps raise €2m+ for Ukraine

Austria’s Barracuda Music has raised at least €2 million from a concert to benefit people affected by the war in Ukraine.

We Stand with Ukraine was held at Ernst Happel Stadion in Vienna on 19 March, with performances from artists including Eazy, Bibiza x Eli Preiss, Mavi Phoenix, Josh., Ina Regen and Turbobier.

Yung Hurn, Mathea, Bilderbuch, Seiler und Speeer, Pizzera, Jaus and Wanda also performed at the concert, which drew around 40,000 people.

CTS Eventim-backed Barracuda, which promotes festivals such as FM4 Frequency Festival and Nova Rock, raised €1 million during the concert, which was subsequently doubled by the Austrian government.

Austrian federal president Alexander van der Bellen appeared at the event to make a speech: “Our solidarity, our compassion, our common will, to live in freedom and peace, are stronger than any aggression. And every tone that rings today makes it clear: we stand with Ukraine.”

“Our solidarity, our compassion, our common will, to live in freedom and peace, are stronger than any aggression”

The government will continue to double donations made to the charity Neighbour in Need until Easter Monday (18th April).

Commenting on the event, Barracuda said: “We would like to take this opportunity to thank all partners and artists who supported us in the realisation of this important and special event.”

We Stand with Ukraine is one of many benefit concerts that have raised millions of euros for victims of the war.

Sound of Peace in Germany raised more than €12m, Together with Ukraine in Poland raised €1.7m and Alda’s fundraisers, Dance for Ukraine in Poland and We are One in Romania, together raised €1 million.

Upcoming fundraisers include the UK’s Concert for Ukraine, which yesterday (23 March) confirmed performances from Ed Sheeran, Camila Cabello, Emeli Sandé, Snow Patrol and Gregory Porter.

 


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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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European live trade bodies stand up for Ukraine

Live event organisations across Europe are taking a stand in condemnation of Russia’s attacks on Ukraine.

Representatives from the Alliance of Swiss Organisers’ Associations, the German Interest Group Event Management and the Austrian Society for Theatre Technology have linked up to launch the Light for Peace campaign.

From 8pm on Thursday (3 March), venues, company headquarters and other locations will shine in the rainbow colours of peace for two hours, with videos and photos to be shared on social media under the hashtag #lightforpeace2022.

“The network from Switzerland, Germany and Austria not only represents the interests of promoting quality, safety and cooperation in the event industry. As international, diverse, heterogeneous and open-minded as the self-image of the events industry is in its various areas, we act in many of our endeavours with the clear idea of ​​peace in mind,” reads a joint statement from the associations.

“It is a privilege to be able to take a stand and we want to use this to express our solidarity. Solidarity with the people who are victims of political, physical and psychological violence worldwide and with all those who courageously take to the streets against aggressors.”

“The fear and pain experienced by the people of Ukraine is familiar and we mourn for the innocent victims on all sides”

Serbia’s Exit festival has also released an emotive statement across its social media channels.

“You have probably seen this photo of a man draped in Ukrainian flag embracing a woman wearing Russian flag at a concert in Poland,” it says. “This image perfectly describes what Exit has been fighting for since the beginning. It shows the essence of how we should look at each other, not as members of a particular race, nation, religion, sexual, political, or any other orientation, but as human beings, with all of our imperfections, fears, hopes, and dreams.

“Since we also found ourselves bombed back in 1999 by some of the biggest countries in the world, the fear and pain experienced by the people of Ukraine is familiar, and we mourn for the innocent victims on all sides. We also remember and mourn all the victims of the wars fought in ex-Yugoslavia, Libya, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Rwanda, Yemen and all other bloodsheds worldwide, truly believing that there is no such thing as justified war.

“Just as the hippie movement and the forerunner of modern music festivals, Woodstock, emerged as a reaction to the Vietnam War, Exit was created as part of a movement for freedom and peace in the Balkans. We have vowed to be the generation to stop the bloody cycle of war in the region. That is one of the primary social missions of our festivals in Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro, and other countries.

“Now is the time for the next step – for like-minded people and organisations around the world to unite and forge new relationships among people, bringing true world peace. That is why this new movement must overshadow all countries and governments worldwide. It must outshine all previous structures and lead us to a New Era dreamed of by many generations before.”

Meanwhile, in Australia, the Australian Road Crew Association (ARCA) has pulled out its music recordings from the Russian Federation and challenged the rest of the Australian music industry to do the same.

“The ARCA crews are family,” says ARCA co-founder Ian Peel. “We celebrate our freedoms and what we’ve fought hard to achieve. Although we in no way know how much real suffering is going on in the Ukraine, we feel for its people and want to make a stand. We roadies don’t cop abuse; we don’t tolerate it on a personal, local or national level.”

 


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Omicron in Europe: Latest restrictions on live music

As markets across Europe step up efforts to combat the new Omicron variant of coronavirus, IQ is endeavouring to update the industry on the most recent restrictions affecting live music across the continent.

Below you’ll find the latest information on certification schemes, social distancing requirements, mask mandates, capacity restrictions and lockdowns affecting key European markets.

Please note that we will aim to keep this article as up-to-date as possible but all information is subject to change. 

To submit an update to this, please get in touch. This article was last updated on 5 January.

Austria
Austria will suspend a lockdown for the unvaccinated during year-end holidays, allowing them to meet in groups of up to 10 on three days around Christmas, as well as New Year’s Eve.

On 12 December, the government ended the three-week lockdown for vaccinated people across most of the country.

The relaxation, which varies from region to region, largely allows for the reopening of theatres, museums and other cultural and entertainment venues. Masks will still be required in public spaces.

Austria is also set to become the first European country to make Covid vaccinations compulsory, with the law due to take effect from 1 February 2022.

Belgium
Music venues are to be shuttered and all indoor mass events are prohibited until at least 28 January.

Outdoor events are permitted to take place but social distancing must be maintained and masks are required. Events with more than 100 visitors must have a one-way circulation plan and a separate entrance and exit.

The new rules were introduced on 26 December 2021. Previously, indoor events in Belgium could take place with a seated and masked audience of no more than 200 people.

Denmark
Music venues, among other indoor cultural institutions, have been ordered to close from 19 December until 17 January 2022.

The Danish parliament has acted quickly to reopen compensation schemes for event organisers, smaller venues and artists.

Esben Marcher, head of secretariat at live music association Dansk Live, welcomes the agreement: “Under the circumstances, it’s a good deal. The rapporteurs and the minister have been very outreach in the dialogue around the agreement, and we feel that they have really listened to us. We really appreciate that.”

England
Vaccine passports and facemasks will be required in order to attend concerts in England from 15 December. The wearing of face masks will be mandated in all venues where crowds gather, and Covid certificates will be needed for: venues where large crowds gather, including nightclubs; unseated indoor venues with more than 500 people; and unseated outdoor venues with more than 4,000 people.

The introduction of a negative LFT in the certification scheme, meanwhile, followed extended lobbying by the sector to include the measure in any new restrictions.

France
From 3 January, indoor events are limited to 2,000 capacity and outdoor gatherings are restricted to 5,000 people, while nightclubs will remain closed until further notice.

The government said on 17 December it will present a bill early next year to change the French health pass into a vaccination pass. That means people will have to be vaccinated in order to enter music venues and many other leisure and entertainment facilities.

Under the current rules, a recent negative test can serve as a health pass even without vaccination.

Germany
The so-called 2G rule (meaning genesen for recovered in the past six months and geimpft for vaccinated) has been extended to cover the whole country – meaning only those who have been vaccinated or recently recovered from Covid can attend live music venues and other cultural events.

Outdoor events are limited to 50% capacity with a maximum of 15,000 attendees, while indoor gatherings are limited to 50% cap and crowds of up to 5,000. Masks are mandatory at all events.

Nightclubs will be required to close from 28 December. Football matches will be played behind closed doors from that date, with private gatherings restricted to 10 people.

Ireland
From Monday 20 December, hospitality and cultural venues including music venues, pubs, restaurants, cinemas and theatres must close by 20:00.

All indoor events can operate at 1,000 or 50% capacity and must be fully seated. The number of spectators allowed to attend sporting events is now capped at 50% capacity, up to a maximum of 5,000 people. The measures will stay in place until at least 30 January 2022.

Face masks will be obligatory unless people are eating or drinking. Nightclubs — which in October reopened for the first time in 19 months — have been closed since 7 December.

Italy
The government has banned concerts until 31 January and extended the country’s state of emergency to 31 March 2022. Nightclubs will also remain closed until the end of this month, and the consumption of food and drink at concert halls and other indoor locations is also banned until the end of March, amid the spread of the omicron variant. The use of FFP2 masks is also compulsory on public transport, in theatres, concert halls and cinemas and for sporting events until at least 31 March.

Netherlands
For the second time in the space of a week, the Dutch government has imposed tighter restrictions in an attempt to slow the spread of the Omicron variant.

It was announced on 18 December that residents will be subject to a full lockdown from Sunday 19 December until at least Friday 14 January 2022.

During this time, music venues will be closed and events will not be permitted. Residents must stay at home as much as possible and adhere to the 1.5-metre social distancing rule when outside.

The Dutch government has put plans to implement a 2G system on hold until the new year, saying there is not currently enough time to draw up the legislation.

Northern Ireland
As of 26 December, indoor standing events are not permitted. For outdoor and indoor events, either proof of vaccination, a negative lateral flow test or proof of recovery from Covid-19 is required.

Norway
As of 13 December, a maximum of 20 people is permitted at public indoor events without fixed allocated seats, and 50 people with fixed allocated seats.

At outdoor public events, a maximum of 100 people is permitted without fixed allocated places, and up to 200 in three cohorts with fixed allocated places.

For all indoor events, whether seated or standing, organisers must ensure that one-metre social distancing can be maintained between attendees. In addition, all attendees at indoor events must wear masks.

Event organisers are required to register guests for track and trace.

Poland
From 15 December, nightclubs will close and the maximum number of people allowed in other venues will be reduced from 50% capacity to 30%.

Venues can increase their operating capacity by only admitting vaccinated attendees, with staff required to check vaccination certificates. Face coverings are mandatory inside music venues.

Portugal
As of 1 December, Covid passports certifying full inoculation, recovery from Covid-19 or a negative test result, will be mandatory to access events, restaurants, gyms and other leisure and hospitality businesses. Masks will be required for indoor spaces.

In addition, both vaccinated and unvaccinated people will be required to show a negative test to be granted entry to large events without marked seats, sports venues, bars and nightclubs.

From 26 December, bars and nightclubs will be closed, with outdoor gatherings limited to 10 people

For the week of 2–9 January (aka ‘containment week’), working from home will be obligatory, bars will close and school holidays extended to prevent a post-holiday season spread.

Romania
Concerts and events in Romania will be staged at 50% capacity to a maximum of 1,000 people (all of whom must be vaccinated) with a 10:00 pm curfew.

Scotland
As of 6 December, evidence of a negative Covid test – from either a lateral flow test or PCR – is included in Scotland’s Covid-19 passport scheme. Previously, attendees were required to show proof of full vaccination.

The Scottish government is implementing further restrictions on large-scale events and public spaces from 26 December.

From 27 December until the first week in January, when it is reviewed, the government is advising people to limit their social contacts, to adhere to social distancing advice and to stay at home where possible. Nightclubs will be closed for three weeks from that date.

Spain
As of 3 December, Covid certification demonstrating proof of vaccination, recovery from the virus, or a recent negative test is required to enter music venues, bars, restaurants, gyms, nightclubs, care homes, or attend events in hotels and restaurants with indoor dance floors. For indoor standing events, capacity is set at 80% maximum.

Sweden
Indoor events with between 20 and 500 attendees that don’t require vaccinations certificates must now be seated. For events with more than 500 participants, vaccinations certificates and social distancing are required.

Groups must be able to keep a distance of at least one meter sideways and forwards and backwards from other groups. If a group is larger than eight people, the organiser must divide the party with a maximum of eight participants in each.

The restrictions were introduced on 23 December and the effect will be evaluated on an ongoing basis.

Switzerland
As of 6 December, masks will have to be worn indoors wherever a certificate obligation applies. Events and venues, both indoor and outdoor, will be allowed to restrict entry to people who are vaccinated or recovered. The measures will be in effect until 24 January.

Wales
Large events are prohibited with maximum numbers of 30 at an indoor event and 50 outdoors. Nightclubs must close.

The NHS Covid Pass is needed for entry to concert halls and many other venues. Face masks are still required in most public places.

 


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OneRepublic ‘first major US act to accept Bitcoin for gig’

OneRepublic has become the first major-label US act to accept the cryptocurrency Bitcoin as full payment for a concert, according to the band’s reps.

The payment was for an intimate acoustic show at historical venue, Haydn Hall, outside of Vienna, Austria, on 16 November.

The Grammy award-winning band used peer-to-peer Bitcoin payment app, Strike, to accept payment for the gig, which is said to have sold out in a matter of minutes.

“My band and I are so happy to be a part of something that we believe is, without question, the future of how payments are transacted for unlimited amounts of assets, performances, services, purchases, music, etc. around the world,” says OneRepublic singer Ryan Tedder, whose interest in the NFT space is well documented.

“Without question, [this is] the future of how payments are transacted for unlimited amounts of assets around the world”

“Whether it’s artists using NFTs to fund albums with their fans or bands being paid for concerts in crypto, music & tech go hand in hand. With that in mind, it only made sense for us to take the next logical step. I also have an upcoming private concert in December I’m planning on taking Bitcoin for.”

The live music industry is increasingly adopting cryptocurrency for varying purposes. Recently, it was announced that AEG’s Staples Center in Los Angeles is to be renamed the Crypto.com Arena as part of a new 20-year naming rights deal.

Elsewhere, Universal Music Group has formed an ‘NFT supergroup’ made entirely out of digital apes, which will perform across and participate in video games, virtual-reality apps and the metaverse.

Live Nation is also capitalising on the trend by collaborating with artists to launch digital collectable NFT ticket stubs.

Kings of Leon, Grimes, Shawn Mendes, Steve Aoki, Quavo, Lil Baby, 2 Chainz, Jack Harlow, Tory Lanez, Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda, 3lau, Ozuna are among the artists who have released collections of NFTs.

 


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Austrian live biz upbeat despite new lockdown

Goodlive Artists Austria (GAA) co-MD Silvio Huber says the domestic live business has cause for optimism despite the country being plunged back into lockdown.

As Covid cases hit another record high, a nationwide lockdown will come into effect on Monday in a bid to avoid a fifth wave of the virus, with people told to work from home and non-essential shops to close. The measures, announced by chancellor Alexander Schallenberg, will last a maximum of 20 days.

Industry veteran Huber, who anticipated the course of action, describes the tightened restrictions as “like Groundhog Day”.

“It’s a tiring process for sure,” he tells IQ. “We have to move or cancel shows and uncertainty comes back just at the point when people were in the mood for buying tickets and attending shows again.”

We’re still looking positive into 2022

Having previously imposed a lockdown on unvaccinated residents, Austria is also set to become the first European country to make Covid vaccinations compulsory (its current 65% vaccination rate is the lowest in Western Europe) – news of which was welcomed by Huber.

“Today’s announcement of the vaccination mandate for all starting on 1 February is great news for our industry,” he says. “I wish we had that in place already but who would have guessed that some people prefer deworming medicine to vaccination? So we may need some gentle ‘pressure’ to get out of this cycle.”

As a result, Huber, who was head of booking for Arcadia Live before switching to Vienna-based GAA earlier this year, believes the signs for the next 12 months are a lot more promising.

“We’re still looking positive into 2022,” he says, adding: “Let’s get through this bloody winter.”

Prior to today’s announcement, Huber was one of a handful of leading promoters to speak to IQ about the impact the latest Covid spike is having on the European live music business.

 


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Top Euro promoters speak out on new Covid spike

A handful of top European promoters have spoken to IQ about the impact the latest Covid spike is having on the continent’s live music business.

Record daily infections have been reported in Germany and the Netherlands, while Austria and Belgium have introduced new measures. In the UK, Northern Ireland is following Scotland’s lead in introducing Covid passports to gain entry to venues.

In France, however, the government has just lifted capacity restrictions on standing at indoor concerts following a campaign by French live music association Prodiss.

“France is always different to everywhere else,” laughs Paris-based promoter Arnaud Meersseman, who says he senses “clouds on the horizon”.

“There is a general sense that whilst Germany and Austria have rather low vaccination rates, it is very worrisome that countries such as Belgium and Netherlands – that have a vaccination rate close to ours – are in the situation they are in. So there is some anxiety,” he tells IQ.

Meersseman suspects new rules could be introduced at a government meeting next week after president Emmanuel Macron fired a “warning shot” in a public address earlier this month.

You start losing territories like Holland and Germany and suddenly your tour isn’t viable economically anymore

“We were at 12,000 cases a day a week ago, and now we’re at 20,000,” says the AEG Presents France head. “So it’s getting to that point where it trickles and then suddenly, boom, it becomes exponential.

“I don’t think we’ll go back into full lockdown. But in terms of our business, well, there’s not much going on anyway – even for domestic acts – in November and December. I think there could be some impact there, we’ll see. But I’m not very positive about it and I’m not feeling super positive about January/February either.

“Domestic tours, maybe they go ahead in February/March. But for international tours, it feels highly unlikely that anything happens between January and March because you start losing territories like Holland and Germany and suddenly your tour isn’t viable economically anymore.”

He adds: “You can see that the weather definitely has an impact. If you look at Spain, Italy and Portugal; on top of having extremely high vaccination rates, they’re having very nice weather and their cases aren’t rising. It’s as soon as you get people back inside, basically, that the cases are rising again.”

Rock Werchter founder Herman Schueremans explains that, with Belgium entering a semi-lockdown this weekend, concert-goers for Saturday’s performance by Bazart at Antwerp’s Lotto Arena will be required to wear masks, whereas those attending the band’s first show tomorrow night will not.

“It’s a bit of a strange situation,” remarks the Live Nation Belgium boss. “But even though we know a percentage of the audience will not show up, we’re happy that our sold-out shows in November and December can all happen at full capacity. It’s key for the artists and their teams, and the venues, suppliers, security teams and crew, as well as our team.”

People don’t trust the shows in the near future will take place

Pascal Van De Velde of Greenhouse Talent reports that ticket sales for concerts in Belgium over the next two to three months have been “decimated” by the worsening situation.

“People don’t trust the shows in the near future will take place,” he says. “And people don’t feel like going anymore, as they think it’s no fun with the masks, etc.”

It is a similar state of play in Austria, where Goodlive Concerts MD Silvio Huber describes the current picture as a “mess”. Proof of a negative PCR test will be needed to attend concerts in Vienna from tomorrow, with a return to a full lockdown in the coming days looking increasingly likely.

“Restrictions are going to change every few days,” says Huber. “In the federal states of Salzburg und Upper Austria, the situation is out of control. Shows have been cancelled there already, and hospitals are getting their teams ready for triage as they are running out of intensive care beds slowly, but surely.

“Furthermore they have just announced there will be will a lockdown in Salzburg und Upper Austria from Monday onwards. We will see tomorrow if the rest of the country will join them. I’m pretty sure we will see a nationwide lockdown.”

Scores of shows in the Netherlands were postponed earlier this week after the Dutch government imposed a new partial lockdown. A capacity limit of 1,250 has been imposed on venues, with restrictions due to last until 4 December at the earliest.

We had to cancel or postpone all shows above 1,250-cap

“We had to cancel or postpone all shows above 1,250-cap, at least for three weeks and even beyond those dates,” says Jan Willem Luyken of Mojo Concerts. “Indoor, fixed seated shows can still happen with limited capacity, with proof of vaccine, negative test or [natural immunity from a previous positive test]. Bars and catering need to be closed from 8pm, so it’s a very complex situation indeed, and we’re still figuring it out.”

In light of the fresh measures, Luyken says the Dutch government has announced an extension of support programmes for the live event industry and cultural sector.

Germany’s Event Management Forum (EMF), which consists of five major organisations including live music associations BDKV and LiveKomm, has urged the German government to meet with music industry representatives before imposing new restrictions on the business. Outgoing chancellor Angela Merkel has called the country’s current Covid situation “dramatic” and said a fourth wave of the virus was hitting Germany with “full force”.

BDKV chief Jens Michow earlier laid bare the stark financial impact of the pandemic on the business.

“In the 20 months of actual lockdown, the loss of sales for concert, tour and festival organisers alone was around €3.5 billion by the end of last year,” he said. “By the end of 2021, the loss in sales will add up to at least €8.5bn.”

 


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Dutch trade body hits out at lockdown plans

The Association of Dutch Music Venues and Festivals (VNPF) has hit out at plans to impose a partial lockdown in the Netherlands.

With Covid restrictions on the cusp of being tightened in several European countries, Dutch media have reported that strict new measures will be introduced from Saturday (13 November) in a bid to combat record numbers of new Covid-19 infections in the country.

The restrictions, due to be announced this evening by prime minister Mark Rutte, are expected to last at least three weeks, sources have told public broadcaster NOS.

However, the VNPF claims that cancelling live events would merely be “symbolic politics”, pointing to figures showing infections are occurring mainly in family circles and schools, rather than at concerts.

“It is clear that the increase in infections is not caused by organisations affiliated with VNPF,” says the organisation. “The concerts and events are professionally organised and the corona [pass]/QR code is strictly checked everywhere.

“Cancelling concerts and other events is therefore not a solution to the problem of increased infections. The cancellation of these programmes again is symbolic politics. Lockdowns and other restrictive measures are creating new programming uncertainty and the already very shaky finances in the pop sector.

“Moreover, such a measure erodes support for the policy of the corona admission ticket and its compliance, which is now working very well.”

Buying a ticket for a concert or event almost becomes a false promise

The body recently published its new Pop Stages and Festivals in Figures 2020 report, based on data from 101 Dutch music venues and festivals, which reported that revenue from ticket sales and catering at domestic shows plummeted from €121.7 million in 2019 to €29.7m last year as a result of the pandemic.

Events in the country have been restricted to 75% capacity and are required to close between 00:00 and 06:00 CET. Insisting the new measures “must be effective and appropriate”, the VNPF warns repeated postponements could have lasting consequences.

“Buying a ticket for a concert or event almost becomes a false promise,” it says. “So much programme has been shifted, so often, so the pop sector is confronted with a relatively large audience that does not show up. In a sector where the ticket proceeds go to the artist and the other public income, including catering, is for the organiser, this is very threatening.

“New restrictions are not necessary within the pop sector and, once again, cause programming and financial hopelessness for pop artists, pop venues, event organisers, producers and pop festivals.”

In its latest weekly report, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) revealed the number of new cases among EU/EEA countries increased 19% week-on-week.

Elsewhere in Europe, Germany’s disease control centre the Robert Koch Institute has called for large events to be cancelled after the country’s infection rate hit a new high, while Austria is mulling introducing a lockdown for unvaccinated people.

 


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