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Refunds may lead to mass bankruptcies, warn EE promoters

The absence of a scheme to protect the concert industry from the financial impact of issuing refunds en masse could leave to a wave of insolvencies, leading Estonian promoters have warned.

In many countries in Europe, including Germany, Portugal and Italy, concert organisers are being allowed to offer ticket vouchers (ie credit) in lieu of cash refunds for cancelled events, while others, including Estonia’s Baltic neighbours, have extended the window in which refunds must be given (typically a year).



“In other countries, such as Latvia and Lithuania, solutions have been found,” says Live Nation Estonia’s Mart Eensalu, “and longer periods for the repurchase [refund] of tickets have been granted. But it hasn’t been done here.”

Estonia – which, along with most Europe, put the brakes on live events in March – ended its state of emergency and began easing coronavirus lockdown restrictions on 17 May, with shows of up to 1,000 people permitted from 1 July.

That 1,000-capacity limit (or 500 for indoor shows), of course, precludes major live music events, such as Rammstein’s highly anticipated performance in Tallinn, originally scheduled for July – for which 62,000 people will now be asking Live Nation for refunds, writes the Baltic Times.

“We are effectively jobless, but we must keep our offices open”

Tanel Samm, of promoter Monster Music, says the Estonian government is not taking concert professionals’ concerns seriously. “The money entrusted to us by customers who have bought tickets does not belong to us if the event has not taken place,” he tells the paper. “We are effectively jobless, but we must keep our offices open to bring the rescheduled events to people next year.”

Samm says authorities must “finally enter into a dialogue with us” in order to ensure the survival of much of Estonia’s live music industry.

That long-overdue help may finally be coming in the form of culture minister Tonis Lukas, who recently met with promoters to discuss a way forward for the sector, Postimees reports.

Lukas urges both concertgoers and Estonia’s consumer watchdog, the Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority, to be patient with concert promoters. “My call […] is for us to be prepared to give concert organisers just over a year to return the money,” he says, “because when a concert is postponed by a year, organisers will be able to return to a normal cash flow then and then pay refunds.”

According to the Baltic Times, current Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority guidelines say customers should receive refunds for cancelled events within a month.

 


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Media giant Ekspress Grupp buys Latvian ticket agency

Pan-Baltic media group Ekspress Grupp has announced the acquisition of Biļešu Paradīze, the second-largest entertainment ticket agency in Latvia.

Biļešu Paradīze (‘Paradise Tickets’) operates an online ticketing platform, bilesuparadize.lv, and box offices across Latvia. In 2018, it sold tickets for more than 7,000 events, chiefly on behalf of cultural institutions and independent promoters.

Ekspress Grupp is the Baltics’ largest media and entertainment conglomerate, active in producing online content and publishing newspapers and magazines in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. It employs around 1,700 people.

As part of the acquisition, Biļešu Paradīze becomes part of A/S Delfi, the Ekspress subsidiary that operates delfi.lv, Latvia’s most popular news portal, which has 800,000 monthly users. The company’s founders, Jānis Daube and Ēriks Naļivaiko, remain in management positions.

According to the International Ticketing Yearbook 2018, Baltic Ticket Holdings (BTH) is the leading ticket seller in all three Baltic countries, with Biļešu Paradīze its main competitor in Latvia.

 


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FKP’s Plage Noire 2017 sells out in three weeks

The second edition of FKP Scorpio’s Plage Noire has sold out just three weeks after going on sale, with German goths once again giving their seal of approval to the event after a nine-year hiatus.

The gothic music festival will return on 27 and 28 April 2018, taking place at the Weissenhäuser Strand holiday park in Wangels, on Germany’s Baltic coast, which also hosts FKP events Rolling Stone Weekender and Metal Hammer Paradise.

The first, and so far only, Plage Noire was in 2009. The festival’s “elaborately staged” return, says FKP, will ‘turn the beach black’, with performances from gothic rock band ASP, alternative-electro act VNV Nation, post-industrialists Die Krupps and mediaeval rockers Subway to Sally ‘wrapping the Baltic Sea into gloomy colours’.

“We cannot wait to open our doors in April”

“With Plage Noire, we break new ground,” says FKP Scorpio CEO Stephan Thanscheidt. “Behind the black beach, you will find a special festival world for dark culture [Schwarze Szene] that combines comfort with music and culture.

“We are very pleased that this concept has been so well received and cannot wait to open our doors in April.”

If you speak German, you can watch the launch trailer, outlining the ‘legend of the black beach’ (die Legende vom schwarzen Strand) festival concept, below:

 


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