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Event Production Forum East sets 2023 date

The Event Production Forum East (EPFE) is returning for its seventh year to the Budapest Arena in Hungary on 10 November.

Organised by Carl A H Martin and Máté Horvath, the gathering attracts event professionals, technicians, bookers and entrepreneurs from production, venue management, promotion, hospitality and suppliers to focus on the challenges being faced across Central and Eastern Europe and the surrounding regions.

Delegates will enjoy a day of networking, centred around four panels, presented in association with EPS, Visual Europe Group and Continest.

Panels will include It Is Really So Difficult?, chaired by Sanjin Corovic, which will discuss education and training within the live events.

Do You Remember When We Didn’t Have All this S**t?, chaired by Nika Brunet Milunovic, will explore the evolution of technology and working practices over the past three decades.

“This year has been really hard work throughout the event industry, in the CEE and beyond”

The Real Legacy of Covid 19?, moderated by Carl AH Martin, asks whether post-pandemic fatigue has created a less caring and responsible industry.

And The Dinosaur Panel will see Mick Worwood and Paul Pike bring uncensored tales from yesteryear that will combine educational insights with hilarious anecdotes, according to a release.

“This year has been really hard work throughout the event industry, in the CEE and beyond,” says Carl AH Martin. “We will be discussing, in detail, what is going on and what is going to be happening in the future, plus what we can do to help.

“I love bringing together some of the industry’s most experienced operators with the young stars of the future, with input from the floor encouraged. We’ll keep delegates refreshed and fed through the day and will finish the day with the traditional free evening dinner and drinks in a downtown venue, followed by continuation of the revelry for those who are up for it.

“We look forward to seeing our regulars and welcoming new faces to EPFE23, where you can talk, be listened to, learn from others and enjoy life.”

Tickets are priced the same as last year – HUF30,000 (€78.50) – and can be bought here.

 


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Sziget CEO discusses ‘new and improved’ festival

Sziget CEO Tamás Kádár has spoken to IQ about the new and improved experience at this year’s festival.

The 30th-anniversary edition took place 10-15 August at the event’s longtime home of Óbudai-sziget, in the Hungarian capital of Budapest. Headliners were Billie Eilish, Lorde, Florence + The Machine, Imagine Dragons, David Guetta, Macklemore and Mumford & Sons.

While 2023 ticket sales were slightly lower than the previous year, Kádár says this was expected due to pent-up demand and a high number of rollover tickets after the pandemic.

Sizing up the success of this year’s instalment, he says: “This year, we had two days which ran almost at full capacity, guests were coming from over 80 countries to Budapest, and Sziget was again one of the most international festivals in the world, providing a unique experience for young people from all over.”

“The entire look and feel of the festival was a huge step forward”

The fan experience at the festival was a major focus for the Sziget team, with major investments and improvements in decoration, catering, sustainability and amenities.

“Since the beginning, Sziget has been constantly improving and developing, with innovations in different areas every year,” explains Kádár. “However, last year, after a two-year interruption, we were happy that we managed to survive the difficulties which were overwhelming for many, and which were attacking us on several fronts. This year, however, we were back on the road to progress.

“The entire look and feel of the festival was a huge step forward, the new toilet blocks, the food courts, the decoration, the art all over the place made a great change to the experience of our visitors not to mention the spectacular venues like the TicketSwap Colosseum, the Samsung Party Arena, the Cirque du Sziget, which looked all really amazing.”

One of Sziget’s biggest considerations when designing the 2023 edition was the country’s monster inflation rate, which has lingered around 20% –  the highest in Europe.

“The inflation rate is a huge problem for the entire country”

“The inflation rate is a huge problem for the entire country, especially the food inflation rate which was almost 50% throughout the last 12 months,” notes Kádár. “However, with the weaker Forint this inflation is not as high in Euro terms. The only impact we see for our customers is higher food prices on the festival but this price level is still lower than Western-European or UK prices.”

In response to the food inflation rate, each vendor in Sziget’s new food court was required to offer at least one so-called “budget food” with a maximum price of €6.50.

Catering was also the subject of increased sustainability, with a key aim to offer food prepared with a smaller carbon footprint.

Organisers launched a campaign among caterers that resulted in 80% of those partners offering at least two vegetarian main courses, and over 40% of partners not offering any red meat at all. The campaign also aimed to increase the proportion of Hungarian food used by caterers. A set of seven sustainability criteria was also introduced, of which at least two criteria must be met by all caterers.

“I hope this festival will maintain its leading place amongst the top European festivals in the next 30 years as well”

Elsewhere in the sustainability realm, the festival recycled 50% of the total waste – 8% more than last year. A special camping section was provided for those who wanted to spend time in a waste-free environment and made a commitment to this.

In addition, on a trial basis, a special carbon offsetting scheme was launched for those arriving at the festival by plane, and only electric or human-powered vehicles were used on the festival site.

“We are constantly improving and changing things to please our visitors and we already have great plans for 2024,” teases Kádár. “Sziget was founded 30 years ago in 1993. I hope this festival will maintain its leading place amongst the top European festivals in the next 30 years as well.”

A special feature celebrating Sziget’s 30th anniversary will be published in the next edition of IQ Magazine.

 


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ShowTime Budapest’s Márton Brády passes aged 54

Concert organiser Márton Brády, the founder and leader of ShowTime Budapest and Ticket Express, died of coronavirus complications on Saturday, March 20, at the age of 54.

Born in 1966, Brády began his career working for smaller companies as an organiser of international concerts. In 1994, he founded international concert agency ShowTime Budapest with Austrian partners, and debuted with the Rolling Stones’ first ever show in Hungary in 1995, held at Népstadion.

Márton also founded Ticket Express agency in the mid-1990s, becoming one of the leaders of the Hungarian cultural ticket sale market.

A long-time ILMC member, Brády’s company has promoted hundreds of international acts and more than 1,000 concerts with Hungarian performers since the mid-1990s.

ShowTime has brought to Hungary Bon Jovi, Eric Clapton, Mike Oldfield, Eros Ramazzotti, Leonard Cohen, Pink, REM, Elton John, Simply Red, Deep Purple, Lionel Richie, Jamiroquai, Rod Stewart, Santana and David Copperfield, among others.

ShowTime debuted with the Rolling Stones’ first ever show in Hungary in 1995

The company has organised major concerts by such legendary Hungarian bands as the LGT Arena performances in 2013, and previously the performances of Piramis, the Hobo Blues Band, Zorán, Charlie and Tátrai Band.

Sony bought a stake in the company in 2010, before Brády bought it back in 2013, and since then he had been the sole owner of ShowTime Budapest.

Ticket Express operated as part of ShowTime until 2000, then became a member of CTS Eventim group. In addition to the domestic market, it is also present in the neighbouring countries. Ticket Express was also the first to launch an online ticket office in Hungary.

The team at ShowTime Budapest, which has been working together for 25 years, will continue the work that Brády started, although they say he is greatly missed.

Alex Nussbaumer, who had worked with Brády in the past, says: He was a good soul and big music lover. RIP, my friend.”

 


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The New Bosses: Virág Csiszár, Sziget Cultural Management

The New Bosses 2020 – the latest edition of IQ’s annual celebration of the brightest young talent in the live business today, as voted for by their peers – was published in IQ 93 this month, revealing the 12 promising promoters, bookers, agents, and A&R and production experts that make up this year’s list.

To get to know this year’s cream of the crop a little better, IQ conducted interviews with each one of 2020’s New Bosses, discovering their greatest inspirations and pinpointing the reasons for their success. Catch up on the previous New Bosses interview with Madie Cavilla, a senior account manager at Paradigm Talent in the UK here.

The next New Boss in the spotlight is Virág Csiszár (30), international booking manager at Sziget Cultural Management (SCM) in Hungary. Having finished her university studies, Csiszár joined SCM, which organises Hungary’s leading music festivals such as Sziget, VOLT, Balaton Sound, Strand Festival and many other events. She is involved in more than 150 shows every year, primarily through the festivals and headline gigs at Akvárium Klub in Budapest. In 2019, she received the highest state award for young talent in tourism from the Hungarian government.

 


What are you working on right now?
Booking the artists for the 2021 editions of our festivals

What are some of the highlights of your career to date?
I will always be proud that I worked on the first Hungarian festival appearances of Foo Fighters and Depeche Mode, and the first-ever Hungarian shows of Linkin Park, Lana Del Rey, Ed Sheeran, Dua Lipa and Shawn Mendes. Bringing artists to our country and introducing them to the Hungarian audience is an important mission for me.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt working in live music?
Accepting the fact that we can’t prepare for unforeseen incidents – neither in the booking process nor at the festival site. No matter how prepared we are, there will be things we can’t control and we have to find solutions that hurt the least.

“Bringing artists to our country and introducing them to the Hungarian audience is an important mission for me”

Did you always want to work in festivals?
I grew up in a family of artists. I remember when I was about five years old, my parents took me to see the stadium shows of Michael Jackson and Rolling Stones in Budapest. I’m lucky to be able to work in an industry that I’ve loved from a very young age.

What’s it like working in the Hungarian market?
Although we are a small market, Sziget is one of the biggest and most famous festivals in Europe with thousands of visitors coming from all around the world. I was born and raised in Budapest, showing my beautiful capital to so many great people through the festival is an incredible experience.

What impact has Covid-19 has on your job?
We needed to cancel all our events in 2020 which is something that never happened before in the history of our festivals. It was extremely sad to let go of all the shows we’ve been working on tirelessly for months but at the same time, we started to work on our line ups for the summer of 2021, hoping that we are going to be over the virus situation by then.

“No matter how prepared we are, there will be things we can’t control and we have to find solutions”

Do you have a mentor in the industry?
A few years ago, I lost an amazing mentor, colleague and friend, Dan Panaitescu, who was the international booking manager of our company. I never felt ready to take over such an important and responsible role, but I feel privileged having the support of all these amazing people around me every day.

What advice would you give to someone who’s new to the business?
Let yourself enough rest to be able to stay creative and curious about new things.

What are the biggest challenges you face as a festival booker?
Coping with constantly growing artist fees; finding a solution for a billing on our poster that all our headliners are happy with; and, on the human side, finding the right balance between private life and work.

Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?
I’m a “live in the moment” type of person, so I can’t even plan that far ahead.

 


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Budapest prepares for EPFE 2019

Panels have been announced for the third annual Event Production Forum East (EPFE) summit, which takes place at Akvárium Klub, in central Budapest, on 15 November 2019.

EPFE attracts event professionals working in the central and eastern European (CEE) market, and this year is also opening its doors to all levels of production, venue management, promoters, F&B and supply personnel to benefit from the shared knowledge and debate.

Carl AH Martin, host of EPFE, as well as the ILMC Production Meeting (IPM), states: “Over many years attending and running international panels, I have experienced that the focus tends to be on only the top end of the industry – so arenas, stadia and large festivals are all that are talked about.

“We want to encourage best practice filtering to all corners of the industry, so this year we will be compensating for the other end of the market and making a real effort to be inclusive for venues from 25- to 5,000-capacity.”

EPFE will continue in the same format with four major sessions. In addition to the venues and festival panels, delegates will hear about health and safety and from the ever-entertaining “dinosaurs’” panel featuring respected industry stalwarts.

The day will be scheduled with two sessions either side of lunch and coffee breaks, followed in the evening by a free networking dinner and drinks. In the morning delegates will hear about “what are the normal situations and aggravations to be dealt with, from artist riders, production (in-house and tour requirements), selling the gig, regulatory requirements and, of course, the audience,” according to Martin.

“‘The industry is as advanced here as it is throughout the western world, it just doesn’t shout about it’”

Organisers also hope they can connect with other European conferences and maintain a thread to the discussions so that key outcomes are shared, discussed and moved forward faster, Martin adds: “Another item of perennial conference discussion is health and safety. The normal comment is, ‘not again!’ Well, this is an item that will not go away.

“What we want to do is to pick up the discussion here and persuade other conferences, such as Eurosonic and IPM, to continue the theme. [EPFE 2019] will be talking about this, honestly, in a completely different way of thinking.”

“Although the outside world does tend to think that this area is a ‘developing’ market, that’s true. Bryan Grant, from Britannia Row Productions, was a panel member last year and confirmed to the audience that, ‘The industry is as advanced here as it is throughout the western world, it just doesn’t shout about it! People from outside could learn a lot…’”

Tickets cost €55 and are available at www.tixa.hu/epfe2019.

IPM returns on 4 March 2020. More information will be available shortly.


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530k attend most headliner-focused Sziget yet

One of the biggest festivals in the world, 530,000 fans attended this year’s week-long Sziget festival, falling slightly shy of 2018’s record-breaking attendance.

The 27th edition of Providence Equity-backed Sziget took place from 7 to 13 August on Obuda island in Budapest, Hungary. Ed Sheeran, Foo Fighters, Post Malone, Florence and the Machine and Martin Garrix were among the more than 1,000 acts playing at the festival.

“The performances on Sziget’s main stage this year were outstanding in many ways,” says Sziget chief executive, Tamás Kádár. “We increased our funding for mainstream performers even more than last year as part of our ongoing growth strategy, bringing us nine headline acts for seven festival days.”

Hungary Today reported that organisers spent 500 million forints (US$1.7m) more this year on securing headliners, out of a total budget of more than 10 billion forints ($34m).

Two nights saw back-to-back headline performances, with Twenty One Pilots performing ahead of Foo Fighters on the closing day and a Saturday night combination of the National and Macklemore.

The first day of Sziget festival, headlined by Ed Sheeran, reportedly sold out with as many as 60,000 fans attending Sheeran’s show and 95,000 visitors on the festival site. Several fans complained about overcrowding and congestion on social media.

“The performances on Sziget’s main stage this year were outstanding in many ways”

Organisers told a Hungarian news outlet that “an unexpected, brief rainstorm” resulted in more fans leaving immediately after Sheeran’s performance than expected. “We decided to break up the crowd by only allowing visitors to leave intermittently from the festival area in order to avoid external congestion,” reads the statement.

Speaking of the extensive line-up of headliners, Kádár says that it was “a great pleasure for us to programme world stars who cover a wide, diverse fan base over different genres”, as well as “artists who fit in well with our [environmental] Love Revolution campaign messages, such as The 1975.”

Organisers celebrated Sziget festival’s most sustainable year to date, preventing the use of 1.5 million one-use plastic cups and 600,000 straws through a reusable cup system and “Don’t Suck” anti-straw campaign.

A new low-carbon dining block was introduced this year, providing attendees with sustainable food options.

Talks by Dr Jane Goodall of the United Nations (UN) peace envoy, the UN Refugee Agency’s Emitithal Mahmoud and former US vice president and climate change campaigner Al Gore also featured on the main stage.

 


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Sziget Festival to launch globally 

Sziget Festival is to roll out globally following the sale of a 70% stake in Sziget Cultural Management to Providence Equity Partners. The global asset management firm plans to launch between eight and 10 new festivals over the next few years.

James Barton, former president of Electronic Music for Live Nation and Creamfields Festival founder, and Paul Bedford, former financial director of Cream Group, have joined the firm to lead international expansion of the Hungarian festival brand.

Sziget’s current management retain a 30% equity stake in the company and will continue to lead management and operations of all festivals in the portfolio. Alongside Barton, Bedford and Sziget’s founder Karoly Gerendai, the team includes CEO Tamás Kádár, international operations head Gábor Takács, and Zoltán Fülöp and Norbert Lobenwein who helm Telekom VOLT Festival and Balaton Sound. 

Kádár tells IQ the firm is looking to both acquire and launch new festivals. Events will range from a daily capacity of 35k – 95k, he says, with new festivals taking on the Sziget brand and acquisitions joining its portfolio. As well as the flagship Budapest event, that portfolio includes Balaton Sound, Telekom VOLT Festival, Gourmet Festival and Gyerek Sziget (Children’s Sziget).

Gerendai says: “Sziget is excited to partner with Providence as we enter our next phase of growth and development. We received a series of inquiries from both financial and trade investors in the last couple of years, but we were attracted to Providence’s proposal because it opens new dimensions for us.

“With the help of our new partners we will be able to make a giant leap forward and embark on the ambitious projects that have been in our pipeline for some time.”

“With the help of our new partners we will be able to make a giant leap forward and embark on the ambitious projects that have been in our pipeline for some time. Providence’s network and financial resources will complement our existing management team’s expertise and will put us in an even stronger position to unlock significant new growth opportunities that otherwise would not have been available to us.

“We needed a financial partner to execute on several ambitious projects that we have in our pipeline. We are excited and looking forward to building the company utilising Providence’s sector experience and financial resources.”

“The Sziget team has done an incredible job in creating some of the world’s most exciting festivals and we look forward to partnering with Karoly and team in the company’s next phase of growth to accelerate Sziget’s domestic and international growth plans.”

Barton added: “The Sziget team has done an incredible job in creating some of the world’s most exciting festivals and we look forward to partnering with Karoly and team in the company’s next phase of growth to accelerate Sziget’s domestic and international growth plans.”

Sziget was honoured twice at the European Festival Awards at Eurosonic last week, taking home the Artist’s Favourite Festival award while late Sziget booker Dan Panaitescu, who passed away after a car accident last year, was posthumously presented with the lifetime achievement accolade.

Providence is a global asset management firm with $47 billion in assets under management across complementary private equity and credit businesses. Since the firm’s inception in 1989, Providence has invested in more than 150 companies in the media, communications, education and information industries. Providence is headquartered in Providence, RI and also has offices in New York, London, Hong Kong, Singapore and New Delhi.

 


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