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Bluesfest announces rescheduled 2021 dates

Byron Bay Bluesfest is now slated to take place in October with a four-day format, after the original 2021 event was cancelled at the eleventh hour.

The festival had been set to take place between 31 March to 5 April 2021 but less than 24 hours before it was set to open, the New South Wales government called it off due to a new Covid case in Byron Bay.

The rescheduled event will take place at Byron Events Farm across four days instead of five (1–4 October 2021), though the organisers have said that current five-day ticket holders will receive some ‘special’ news alongside the lineup announcement.

This Wednesday (19 April), the festival will announce the full line-up which organisers say ‘will be worth the wait’.

“Trust us when we say the wait will have all been worth it…,” reads a post on Byron Bay Bluesfest’s Facebook. “We’ve been adding more of Australia’s absolute best talent – a way of saying thank you to all of you who have supported us during this time.”

“Trust us when we say the wait will have all been worth it”

The April 2021 lineup included the likes of Jimmy Barnes, Tash Sultana and The Teskey Brothers. It’s unclear whether any of the acts from the original lineup will appear at the October event.

Season tickets will go on sale after the line-up is revealed, followed by three-day and one-day tickets.

The cancellation of the April Bluesfest event was touted as a “watershed moment” by the Australian music industry, which had been lobbying for a business interruption fund that would help live events redeem their costs in the event of an eleventh-hour cancellation.

The Australian Festivals Association’s Julia Robinson told IQ that such a fund is essential to boost business confidence. Read her comment here.

 


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Bluesfest 2021 to go ahead after safety plan approved

Byron Bay Bluesfest is set to go ahead at around half its capacity after the government of New South Wales (NSW) approved its Covid-19 safety plan.

The festival was called off last year with three weeks to go as the coronavirus spread in Australia. By approving the safety plan for Bluesfest 2021, the state government “has indicated that, if the current Covid-19 situation continues in NSW, Bluesfest would be permitted to proceed”, says festival director Peter Noble OAM.

“This is a great day, not only for Bluesfest but also for the Australian live music industry and our unrelenting efforts to get back to presenting live music safely. While our capacity, stages and campgrounds will be approximately 50% of the numbers we have had in the past, it is great to know there is a future for our industry, and that we have been given the opportunity to present Bluesfest 2021 at a level not seen at festivals in Australia since the summer of 2019/20.”

Noble thanks NSW ministers including tourism minister Stuart Ayres and deputy premier John Barilaro for “working closely with us on a weekly basis to achieve this milestone result for the music-loving people of Australia”.

Bluesfest 2021 is scheduled for 1–5 April in Tyagarah, Byron Bay, with performers including Tash Sultana, Kev Carmody, Ocean Alley, the Church, John Williamson, Tex Perkins, Jimmy Barnes, Cat Empire, Kasey Chambers and Jeff Lang.

At 50% capacity, the festival will welcome around 15,000 festivalgoers, and 80% of tickets have already been sold.

“We are looking forward to seeing your smiling faces as you experience the best in Australian music”

Noble says he will make a further announcement about “how Bluesfest will be presented in a safe manner next week. What we can say is that the plan is created in a way where we can adapt to the requirements of the NSW health department should there be a need to create higher levels of safety for the public on site, and, of course, we are also hopeful that conditions will be further relaxed should there be no further community transmissions.”

“The good news is you won’t need to wear a mask currently while attending,” he continues. “We are looking forward to seeing your smiling faces as you experience the best in Australian music at an outdoor fully seated event.”

Noble concludes: “There are so many people to thank who took part in working with us in getting to this point. The artists and their agents and managers, the media for their ongoing support, our suppliers and, of course, the Bluesfest team, who never wavered – well, only sometimes – in their conviction to produce Bluesfest at Easter this year.

“But number one is our gratitude to the music fans, who purchased the tickets from the moment we went on sale and who will join us in making history as major live music events return in Australia.”

Five-day Bluesfest 2021 tickets are priced from A$585 (US$450) + fees.


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Report: Bluesfest cancellation cost NSW €124m

The Australian state of New South Wales lost out on AU$203.6 million (€123.6m) in revenue, due to the cancellation of this year’s Byron Bay Bluesfest, a new report has shown.

The Economic Impact of Bluesfest 2020 report, commissioned by the festival and undertaken by Reuben Lawrence Consulting, highlights the loss of employment and gross revenue to the Northern Rivers region and state of New South Wales as a result of Bluesfest 2020 not going ahead.

In comparison to last year, it is calculated that Northern Rivers has lost $116.9m (€70.9m) in indirect tourism expenditure and around 745 full-time jobs due to the cancellation, with the wider state losing out on over $200m (€123m) and 1,158 jobs.

The 2020 edition of Bluesfest, which was set to feature Lenny Kravitz, Dave Matthews Band, Kool and the Gang, Patti Smith and John Butler, was called off in March – just three weeks before it was set to take place – following a nationwide ban on gatherings of more than 500 people.

“The economic impact reports clearly demonstrate that because of the Covid-19 pandemic our community is not only culturally poorer but also financially poorer”

“The economic impact reports we have commissioned clearly demonstrate that because of the Covid-19 pandemic our community is not only culturally poorer but also financially poorer,” comments Bluesfest festival director Peter Noble, adding that the report also “demonstrat[es] the impact that just one event of this scale can have on the economy of the country”.

“We therefore made the conscious decision to go ahead with Bluesfest 2021, with the awareness that we need to present the festival as a Covid-19 safe event, and we are working with the relevant authorities to ensure that happens, so the public can remain safe and to provide the wealth and jobs in the future that Bluesfest creates,” says Noble.

“Bluesfest is 100% independent and we are proud to contribute to our state and local communities and we look forward to doing it again in 2021.”

Bluesfest 2021 is set to take place from 1 to 5 April at Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm, featuring Bon Iver, Patti Smith, Jimmy Barnes, John Butler and Xavier Rudd, among others. Tickets for Bluesfest 2021 are available here, with five-day tickets priced at $513 (€312) and single day tickets starting from $157 (€95).

The Bluesfest economic impact report 2020 can be read in full here.


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Festival Fever: more 2020 line-ups under the microscope

Continuing the series of 2020 line-up announcements, IQ reveals what’s in store for the debut of Pitchfork Music Festival Berlin and the Festival Internacional de Benicàssim’s first year under a new promoter, as well as what’s on offer at old favourites Byron Bay Bluesfest, Exit Festival, Lovebox and more.

(See the previous edition of Festival Fever here.)

 


Byron Bay Bluesfest

When: 9 to 13 April
Where: Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm, New South Wales, Australia
How many: 25,000

Byron Bay Bluesfest celebrated its 30th outing last year, with performances from Jack Johnson, Ben Harper, Mavis Staples and Kasey Chambers, among others.

The Peter Noble-led event is back in 2020, with acts including Dave Matthews Band, Crowded House, Patti Smith, George Benson, Lenny Kravitz, Brandi Carlile, Frank Turner and Xavier Rudd appearing on the bill.

A report undertaken earlier this year revealed that the festival contributed over AU$83 million (£43.5m) to the local economy in 2019.

Tickets for Byron Bay Bluesfest are available here, with five-day tickets costing AU$639 (£335), three-day passes priced at $440 (£230) and a single-day ticket available for $195 (£102).

The festival contributed over £43.5 million to the local economy in 2019

Down the Rabbit Hole

When: 17 to 19 July
Where: Groene Heuvels Park, the Netherlands
How many: 35,000

The Netherlands’ Down the Rabbit Hole last year saw performance from the Editors, Janelle Monae, Underworld and Thom Yorke.

The event, promoted by Mojo Concerts which last year celebrated its 50th anniversary, has announced a handful of acts for the 2020 edition, including Tyler the Creator, Disclosure, Beck, Kacey Musgraves, Haim, Bombay Bicycle Club, FKA Twigs, Charli XCX and Loyle Carner.

Elsewhere, acts for Mojo’s hip-hop festival Woo Hah! Include Kendrick Lamar, Asap Ferg, Aitch and DaBaby.

Tickets for Down the Rabbit Hole are available here, with a full festival ticket priced at €177.50 (£151). Weekend camping passes for Woo Hah! are available for £159, with day tickets from £50.

The Netherlands’ Down the Rabbit Hole last year saw performance from the Editors, Janelle Monae, and Thom Yorke

Exit Festival

When: 9 to 12 July
Where: Petrovaradin Fortress, Novi Sad, Serbia
How many: 55,000

Serbia’s Exit Festival is gearing up for its 20th anniversary in 2020, with organisers promising that the event’s special birthday will be celebrated in style. Acts announced for the 2020 edition so far include David Guetta, Tyga, Fatboy Slim, James Arthur and Meduza.

Last year’s festival, which saw record crowds of 200,000 over four days, saw performances from the Cure, Greta van Fleet, the Chainsmokers and Amelie Lens.

Founded as a social activism project in 2000, Exit has grown over the years while maintaining its roots. 2020 will see the launch of the festival’s Life Stream initiative, which aims to engage festivalgoers in the fight against climate change.

Tickets for Exit Festival 2020 are available here, with tickets costing £89 plus £27 for camping.

Organisers promise that the event’s special birthday will be celebrated in style

Festival Internacional de Benicàssim (FIB)

When: 16 to 19 July
Where: Costa del Azahar, Spain
How many: 50,000

The first outing for the Festival Internacional de Benicàssim (FIB) under new leadership will take place in July, following its acquisition by Spanish promoter the Music Republic earlier this year.

The 2020 event will see performances from acts including Liam Gallagher, the Libertines, Foals, Vampire Weekend, Khalid, Martin Garrix and Steve Aoki.

The Music Republic added FIB to its portfolio of Spanish festivals, which includes Arenal Sound, Viña Rock, Granada Sound and Madrid Salvaje, after buying it from Maraworld, a Madrid-based promoter majority owned by MCD Productions and SJM Concerts.

David and Toño Sánchez, owners of the Music Republic, state they aim to “maintain [FIB’s] essence and position it once more as a leader on the global scene.”

Tickets for FIB 2020 are available here for €65 (£55) for a full pass.

The first outing for the FIB under new leadership will take place in July

Firenze Rocks

When: 11 to 13 June
Where: Ippodromo delle Cascine, Florence, Italy
How many: 11,000

Italian rock festival Firenze Rocks is returning for its fourth year in 2020 with Guns N’ Roses, Green Day and Red Hot Chili Peppers heading up the event.

The Guns N’ Roses appearance is part of a wider European tour that will see the veteran rockers play in Portugal, Spain, Germany, the UK, Sweden, Austria, Switzerland, Poland, Czech Republic and the Netherlands.

The Live Nation-promoted festival last year saw performances from Ed Sheeran, the Cure, Tool and Eddie Vedder, with Foo Fighters, Iron Maiden and Ozzy Osbourne among those to have played the event in recent years.

Tickets for Firenze Rocks 2020 are available here for €271.40 for four days (£230).

Italian rock festival Firenze Rocks is returning for its fourth year in 2020 with Guns N’ Roses, Green Day and Red Hot Chili Peppers

Lollapalooza Paris

When: 18 to 19 July
Where: Hippodrome de Longchamp, Paris, France
How many: 55,000

The fourth annual Lollapalooza Paris will feature headliners Pearl Jam and Billie Eilish, along with Vampire Weekend, Khalid, Burna Boy, Haim, Rita Ora, Illenium, the Struts and more, as over 40 acts will play at the four-stage event over two days.

Launched in 2017 as a further string to the Lollapalooza franchise bow, the Live Nation-promoted Lollapalooza Paris last year saw performances from the Strokes, Twenty one Pilots, martin Garrix, the 1975 and Bad Bunny.

The Paris event is one of three European editions of Lollapalooza, together with Lollapalooza Stockholm and Berlin.

Tickets for Lollapalooza Paris are available here, priced at €79 (£67) for a one-day pass and €139 (£118) for a weekend ticket.

The fourth annual Lollapalooza Paris will feature headliners Pearl Jam and Billie Eilish

Lovebox

When: 12 to 14 June
Where: Gunnersbury Park, London, UK
How many: 40,000

Mama Festivals’ Lovebox festival is returning for its third year at the Gunnersbury Park site in west London. The three-day event, which was founded in 2002, will be headed up by Khalid, Disclosure and Tyler the Creator in 2020.

Other acts appearing at the festival include Hot Chip, Jorja Smith, Anderson Paak and the Free Nationals, FKA Twigs, Charli XCX, Peggy Gou, Mabel and Little Simz.

Gunnersbury Park has also been home to Mama’s Citadel festival for the past two years, with year’s line-up featuring Catfish and the Bottlemen, Bastille, Friendly Fires and Bear’s Den.

Sister company Festival Republic launched a new festival at the site in September this year. The inaugural Gunnersville saw performances from Doves, the Specials and You Me at Six.

Tickets for Lovebox 2020 are available here, with a three-day tickets costing £149.50 and one-day passes costing £72.50.

Mama Festivals’ Lovebox festival is returning for its third year at the Gunnersbury Park site in west London

Pitchfork Music Festival Berlin

When: 8 to 9 May
Where: Tempodrom, Berlin, Germany
How many: 3,500

The team behind US-based magazine Pitchfork revealed plans for the inaugural Pitchfork Music festival Berlin at this year’s Reeperbahn Festival in Hamburg, adding to events in Chicago and Paris.

The festival, promoted by Scumeck Sabottka’s MCT Agentur, will see headline performances from Lianna La Havas and Modeselektor, with Nike Hakim, Celeste, Tim Hecker and John Talabot also appearing on the bill.

Launched in 2006, the Chicago edition of Pitchfork Music Festival this year saw performances from Haim, the Isley Brothers, Robyn and Pusha T. The more recent Pitchfork Paris has taken place since 2011 and last year featured Skepta, the 1975, Chromatics and Charli XCX.

Tickets for Pitchfork Music Festival Berlin 2020 are available here, with two-day tickets costing €99 (£84) and one-day passes priced at €58 (£49).

 


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Report: Bluesfest 2019 attendance, spending up

Byron Bay Bluesfest increased attendance by almost 10% and contributed over AU$83 million to the New South Wales economy in 2019, a new report has shown.

The report, commissioned by the Bluesfest Group and conducted by Lawrence Consulting, documents the economic impact of the 30th edition of Bluesfest, which took place from 18 to 22 April 2019.

Speaking to IQ ahead of this year’s festival, director Peter Noble noted that all ticket sale records had been broken for the sold-out anniversary edition. More than 105,000 fans attended this year’s Bluesfest, a 9.2% increase on the previous year.

Findings show that spending by attendees increased by almost 19% this year, with an average daily expenditure of $304. As a result, festivalgoers brought over $35.5m to the local government area of Byron Shire, contributed $59m to the region of Northern Rivers and a total of $83.4m to the state of New South Wales.

Spending by promoter Bluesfest Services was up 38% in Bryon Shire at $2.6m and increased by 24% across the rest of the Northern Rivers at $1.9m. Overall, annual expenditure on Bluesfest was approximately $18.4m, including around $1.6m in wages to 15 full-time staff.

“Bluesfest has become a pinnacle event in the calendar of Australians and music fans overseas”

The Bluesfest Group this year hired a record number of 1,454 people in NSW alone.

“I’m thrilled to think that from its humble beginnings as the East Coast Blues Festival, Bluesfest is now such a critical contributor to the local economy in the tropical surrounds of Byron Bay,” says Noble.

“Over the 30 years of its existence, Bluesfest has become a pinnacle event in the calendar of Australians and music fans overseas. I’m excited to see where the next 30 [years] will bring us as a festival in relation to the Byron, Northern Rivers, NSW and Australian economies.”

Tickets for Bluesfest 2020, which will take place from 9 to 13 April, are on sale via Moshtix. Tickets are priced at $600 plus fees for a five-day pass and $420 for three days. Single day tickets will become available in December.

Acts confirmed for the 2020 event include Dave Matthews Band, Patti Smith, John Butler and Frank Turner.


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The secrets behind festival sell outs

Since Coachella opened its festival gates in mid-April, the 2019 festival season is now well and truly upon us.

As ticket sales remain a point of contention and concern for many events, IQ speaks to ten festivals that appear to have no problem shifting tickets and selling out year-on-year, to find out the secrets to their success and how they continue to distinguish themselves in an increasingly crowded festival arena.

 


 

Byron Bay Bluesfest
Australia’s most-awarded live music festival, Byron Bay Bluesfest turned 30 this year – and the landmark edition was one of the most successful to date. Before the event, festival director and owner Peter Noble noted that all ticket sale records had been broken.

In order to ensure consistently healthy ticket sales, Bluesfest uses a mixed marketing strategy, including traditional methods, use of online channels, and face-to-face marketing campaigns.

“Our marketing strategies focus on the festival experience and also the great lineups that we have here,” Noble tells IQ. “We have focused on customer retention over the past number of years and around 40% of ticketholders are repeat purchasers, which we are very proud of.”

Recognised as an “industry leader” within the management of live music festivals, Noble states that Bluesfest is unworried by the licensing laws imposed by the New South Wales Government on music festivals.

“We are well regarded as a safe family event with three generations of patrons joining us annually,” Noble tells IQ. “We will continue to review our extensive procedures and practices in close liaison with emergency services, various government bodies and through a detailed risk management approach.”

 

Wacken Open Air
Wacken Open Air also celebrates its 30th edition this year and enthusiasm for the anniversary event is high. Tickets for Wacken 2019 sold out in four days, and in the words of co-founder Thomas Jensen: “Quite obviously, we are doing something right.”

In order to improve, the Wacken co-founders have always placed great value on what festival attendees have to say, actively responding to suggestions.

“We invite the fans to give us their feedback via means such as our social media channels or in person at a Q&A session with both me and my fellow co-founder Holger Hübner,” explains Jensen.

“There is always room for improvement – no matter how well things are working out,” stresses the Wacken boss.

Jensen talks about this year’s lineup, saying the festival aims to “maintain the right balance of sticking to our roots and offering innovations,” placing new acts alongside integral, longstanding Wacken Open Air performers. “This is why Parkway Drive can be found next to Slayer as one of our headliners in 2019.”

The festival has received some slack for having “a very German touch,” says the Wacken co-founder. However, guests come from all over to attend what is now the world’s biggest heavy metal gathering, and, “since the metal family is probably the most open-minded community on Earth, everybody is welcomed with open arms.”

 

Paléo Festival de Nyon
From its origins in the town assembly rooms of the French-Swiss town of Nyon, Paléo Festival has grown to become an important European music event. Each year, more than 280 concerts and shows take place for 230,000 visitors across the 84-hectare festival site.

For more than 20 years, the festival has successfully and consistently sold out.

“One of the keys to Paléo’s success is that it distinguishes itself from other events by not only providing musical entertainment but by giving place to a whole experience,” says festival director Dany Hassenstein.

“Between music, street theatre and performances inspired by the circus or architectural installations, Paléo is an extraordinary global village for the audience,” he says…

 


Continue reading this feature in the digital edition of IQ 83, or subscribe to the magazine here

 

Bluesfest turns 30 with Jack Johnson, Ben Harper exclusives

Jack Johnson, Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals and US soul act St Paul and the Broken Bones have been announced as festival exclusives for the 30th Byron Bay Bluesfest, set for 18–22 April 2019.

“Our 30th anniversary Bluesfest will be a major event in a long line of great festivals,” says festival director Peter Noble. “We will only turn 30 once, and we intend to make this edition truly memorable.

“We have two of our most highly requested, as well as favourite artists ever, headlining, and both coming for exclusive performances. Jack Johnson will return for his first performance since 2014 – except for when he is in the area surfing and sitting in with friends – and Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals [for their first] since 2015, when they reformed after a seven-year hiatus, and played their premier festival performance at Bluesfest.

“Ben Harper’s first performance at Bluesfest 1996 remains one of the most important in the history of our event, and actually gave us the inspiration to move out of being a purely blues festival and evolving into being Australia’s first blues and roots music festival…”

“We will only turn 30 once, and we intend to make this edition truly memorable”

Also on the bill for Bluesfest 30 are Ray LaMontagne, George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic, Snarky Puppy, Arlo Guthrie, I’m With her and Kurt Vile, with more to be announced in the coming months.

Bluesfest has averaged an attendance of around 105,000 over the past few years, and Noble says the festival is on course for its best event ever in year 30.

“We have broken all ticket sales records and anticipate a sell-out for Bluesfest 2019 already, so don’t delay: get your tickets now,” he says. “And thank you for coming with us on this incredible journey. Whether this is your first Bluesfest, or 30th, we promise you, the talent on our stages will always be the best we can present.”

Bluesfest 2019 takes place from Thursday 18 to Monday 22 April at Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm in Byron Bay, New South Wales, Australia.

 


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Steve Romer joins Bluesfest as Peter Noble moves on

Former Sydney Entertainment Centre boss Steve Romer has joined Byron Bay Bluesfest, replacing festival founder and director Peter Noble as chief operating officer (COO).

Romer is a 30-year veteran of the live entertainment and sports industries, most recently serving as CEO as the Venue Management Association (VMA). He becomes COO for both the festival its associated companies, including Bluesfest Touring, with Noble moving into a chairman role.

Romer moves into his new role on 13 November.

“I am excited to be joining the team at the iconic Bluesfest Byron Bay, and look forward to working closely with festival director Peter Noble OAM,” he comments.

“I believe the recent additions to our dynamic tea will allow us to continue confidently into the future”

Noble adds: “We are proud to make the announcement that Steve is joining the Bluesfest group of companies, and will be overseeing operations across the annual festival in Byron Bay, Bluesfest Touring and the company’s land holdings. Bluesfest has become a major player, and I believe the recent additions to our dynamic team of Steve and Simone Twiss as chief financial officer will allow us to continue confidently into the future.

“I am also announcing that I am moving to the position of chairman of the board and will continue to focus on booking talent as well as acquisitions that will take Bluesfest into an exciting new era.”

Bluesfest returns to Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm in New South Wales, Australia, from 29 March to 2 April 2018, after a successful 2017 event attended by more than 105,000 people. Performers announced for 2018 so far include Seal, Youssou N’Dour, Jackson Browne, Rag’n’Bone Man, the Wailers and Canned Heat.

 


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Neil Young to headline Byron Bay Bluesfest 2017

Neil Young has confirmed his first festival date for 2017.

Young and his current touring band, Promise of the Real, will play a three-hour set on Friday 14 April at Byron Bay Bluesfest, joining other new additions Santana and The Doobie Brothers on the bill of the long-running Australian festival.

“Bluesfest is proud to announce our headliner for 2017,” says founder and promoter Peter Noble OAM. “This is the third Bluesfest announcement in three weeks, with Santana being the headliner of last week’s, Mary J. Blige the week before and the Zac Brown Band, Patti Smith, The Lumineers, Bonnie Raitt and Buddy Guy in previous announcements.

“We ask fans yearly in questionnaires who is the most requested artist to play a future Bluesfest, and hands down, Neil comes in first on every poll we do”

“Can you guess who will be in the [next] announcement this Sunday…? It’s another beauty!”

He adds that “we ask fans yearly in questionnaires who is the most requested artist to play a future Bluesfest” and “hands down, Neil [Young] comes in first on every poll we do, [so] we have fulfilled the wish of many Bluesfesters.”

“A tad over” 100,000 visitors attended Bluesfest 2016, at Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm, near Byron Bay in New South Wales, over five days.

 


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