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BST Hyde Park 2020 cancelled

AEG Presents’ British Summer Time (BST) Hyde Park will not take place this year, as the ongoing coronavirus pandemic claims another UK summer staple.

The festival, which was to take place over two weeks from 2 to 12 July, was set to feature headline acts including Post Malone, Little Mix, Kendrick Lamar, Pearl Jam, Taylor Swift and Duran Duran.

The cancellation follows that of All Points East festival, which was called off at the end of March.

“It is with great sadness that we have made the difficult decision to cancel BST Hyde Park 2020,” reads a statement from organisers.

“After closely following government actions and statements during the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as consulting with our partners The Royal Parks and wider agencies, we have concluded that this is the only possible outcome.”

“It is with great sadness that we have made the difficult decision to cancel BST Hyde Park 2020”

Ticketholders will contacted by ticketing agencies by 6 May with information on the refund process.

“We look forward to welcoming you back in 2021 and will be in touch about plans soon. In the meantime, please follow the advice and stay safe,” state organisers.

This year was to be the eighth outing for BST Hyde Park, combining two weekend of music with free-to-access midweek events. Over the years, BST has seen performances from acts including the Rolling Stones, Bon Jovi, Celine Dion, Stevie Wonder, Lionel Richie, the Cure, Black Sabbath and Barbra Streisand.

Other UK events to be called off this summer due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic include Glastonbury Festival, Isle of Wight Festival, Download, Lovebox, Parklife, Womad, Cambridge Folk Festival, Country to Country Festival, Radio One’s Big Weekend and Edinburgh Fringe Festival, as well as industry conferences including The Great Escape and the Ticketing Professionals Conference.

 


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Six countries, one genre: C2C makes 2020 return

AEG’s Country to Country (C2C) festival is returning in 2020 for the eighth edition of its flagship London event, alongside repeat editions in Ireland, Scotland, Germany, the Netherlands and Australia.

Luke Combs, Darius Rucker and Eric Church will headline C2C’s European festivals, alongside acts including the Cadillac Three, Tanya Tucker, Charles Esten, Brett Young and Old Dominion.

International touring series Introducing Nashville will be present at C2C for the first time this year, with acoustic performances from Abby Anderson, Eric Paslay and Tenille Townes.

C2C 2020 will take place from 13 to 15 March in London’s 20,000-capacity O2 Arena, which yesterday (22 October) celebrated reaching 25 million ticket sales. Simultaneous events will take place at Ireland’s 3Arena Dublin (13,000-cap.), promoted by MCD Productions, and the SSE Hydro (13,000-cap.) in Glasgow, Scotland, promoted by DF Concerts.

The country music festival is also returning to Afas Live Amsterdam (6,000-cap.) and AEG’s Verti Music Hall (4,350-cap.) in Berlin, following successful first outings last year. Greenhouse Talent will co-promote C2C Amsterdam, which takes place from 7 to 8 March, with Semmel Concerts taking charge of the Berlin edition on 6 to 8 March.

“C2C Festival 2020 continues to build on the massive success of Country to Country in the UK and across Europe”

“I am so proud to be part of the C2C family,” said Bob Harris OBE, the main stage host of the London event, at C2C’s line-up launch party at Country Music Week, which began on Monday.

“I can’t wait to listen to the best music in the world, enjoy the fantastic atmosphere of the main auditorium, catch the excitement of the pop-up stages and meet the incredible Country fans that make C2C so special.”

Chris York, C2C Festival promoter for SJM Concerts comments: “C2C Festival 2020 continues to build on the massive success of Country to Country in the UK and across Europe. We look forward to seeing all you passionate country fans in March once again.”

Tickets for all C2C’s European events go on sale on Friday 1 November at 10 a.m. (GMT).

More information about C2C Australia, which also returns for its second year in 2020, will be available at a later date. The Australian version of the event, promoted by AEG Presents and TEG Live, takes place in Sydney and Brisbane with a different line-up to other C2C events.

Read more about country music’s rise to global fame here.

Big country: How country music conquered the world


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C2C announces 2020 return after record year

Following its best-ever year in 2019, Country to Country (C2C) will return for its eighth outing next March, the festival’s UK and Ireland promoters have announced.

C2C 2019, headlined by country music superstars Keith Urban, Lady Antebellum and Chris Stapleton, took place from Friday 8 to Sunday 10 March. It welcomed 80,000 fans across three venues – the O2 in London, the SSE Hydro in Glasgow and 3Arena in Dublin – in what SJM Concerts’ Chris York, whose company co-promotes the event with AEG, calls its “busiest year yet”.

The festival also expanded to Germany, holding its first German event at AEG’s new Verti Music Hall in Berlin on 3 March, and the Netherlands, with the first C2C Amsterdam, co-promoted with Greenhouse Talent, taking place at AFAS Live (6,000-cap.) the following night.

C2C 2019 welcomed 80,000 fans in London, Glasgow and Dublin

C2C Australia, which has a different line-up, is staged on 28 and 29 September in Sydney and Brisbane, respectively.

The flagship C2C 2020 will take place on 13, 14 and 15 March, returning to London, Glasgow and Dublin, according to AEG and SJM, with earlybird tickets available from this Friday (15 March).

Read IQ’s recent feature on how Country to Country – along with the tireless support of the Country Music Association, radio DJs, local promoters and others – helped country music conquer the world here.

Big country: How country music conquered the world

 


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Big country: How country music conquered the world

It’s official: country music is cool.

Long stigmatised as restrictively America-centric, country, shed of many of its unfashionable ‘country and western’ trappings, is finding a new generation of loyal fans in the UK, Europe and Australasia, playlisted on commercial radio and championed by tastemakers at Vice, i-D and the NME.

Riding on the rise of festivals like AEG’s UK-born Country to Country phenomenon (now in five countries and counting), crossover success for artists such as Florida Georgia Line, Midland, and Kacey Musgraves, European radio support and the backing of the Country Music Association, country is increasingly big business outside its US heartland – with visiting Nashville A-listers, as well as a mounting number of homegrown acts, helping to build a major new touring market.

(A slice of the) American pie
According to WME Entertainment agent Akiko Rogers, global bookings for WME’s country and Americana artists have increased 14-fold in the past decade alone. “In 2009, 27 international dates were booked out of Nashville, all comprising country artists,” says Rogers, whose roster includes both country (Thomas Rhett, Frankie Davies) and non-country artists (Greta Van Fleet, Alanis Morissette), as well as those sitting somewhere in between (rising southern rockers the Marcus King Band).

“In 2018, that number went to 400 booked international dates comprising country and Americana artists, and sometimes a hybrid of both.”

Global bookings for WME’s country and Americana artists have increased 14-fold in the past decade

“The market interest in country music only continues to grow with the demand for US acts to tour internationally,” adds US-born, London-based UTA senior agent Sean Goulding, whose country and Americana roster includes Jimmie Allen, Ashley Campbell, Logan Mize, the Wood Brothers and High Valley. “C2C [Country to Country] London, the landmark international country music festival, has been growing steadily since its inception in 2013, which is a good indicator of the genre’s impact. Having expanded to Scotland and Ireland previously, it’s now visiting Amsterdam and Berlin this year. A number of our clients have performed at it over the past few years, using it as a springboard for the international market.”

The majority of promoters, agents and managers interviewed by IQ highlighted the C2C phenomenon, as well its various international spin-offs (in addition to Britain, the Irish republic, the Netherlands and Germany, there are also two Country to Country festivals in Australia) as being key to country music’s explosive growth in new markets over the past five years.

Chris York of SJM Concerts, which created C2C in partnership with AEG, says the festival’s genesis formed part of a “conscious decision” to build and grow the market for country music in the UK. “I’d always perceived country as being promoted in a very old-fashioned way,” York explains. It was all about, ‘We’ll pay them some money, put on a show at Wembley, maybe get a tour out of it…’ They weren’t interested in building a community.”

In contrast, York continues, C2C – bolstered by support from radio DJs such as Radio 2’s Bob Harris and Chris Country’s Chris Stevens – helped to establish a tight-knit community of fans, to the point where there is also now a sizeable country touring market in the UK.  “We did 45,000 tickets in London [for C2C 2018]. Four or five years ago that would have been beyond comprehension.”

“We did 45,000 tickets in London. Four or five years ago that would have been beyond comprehension”

Live Nation’s Anna-Sophie Mertens started promoting in her own right three years ago, and is now the “go-to person” for country shows in the company’s UK office, she explains. She says the number of country acts who want to play in the UK has more than doubled since then, including both big names worthy of headlining C2C and smaller emerging acts keen to stake a claim in the increasingly crowded country touring market.

Spurred on
Add hit drama series Nashville into that mix, too, suggests Milly Olykan, vice-president of international relations and development at the influential Nashville-based Country Music Association (CMA). “The contributing factors in those first five years [since the launch of C2C] were the internet, the TV show Nashville and Taylor Swift, but now we can add to that with the growth of C2C and, as a result, the volume of live touring and the radio support of the BBC,” says Olykan, who, as VP of live music at AEG Europe, set up C2C UK alongside York. “Radio 2 and Bob Harris have been long-time supporters, and this year we saw BBC Radio 1 play-listing country for the first time.

“We’ve got a momentum going now, and more and more fans are discovering they like country music.”

Anna-Sophie Mertens says the number of country acts who want to play in the UK has more than doubled in the past three years

In Germany, promoter Oliver Hoppe of Wizard Promotions also identifies Nashville as being a key driver of interest in country music – and ticket sales. “Our most successful tour so far is Charles Esten from the Nashville TV show,” he says. “1,500 tickets, five dates, all sold out.”

Hoppe, who describes himself as the main “country guy” in Germany, says the popularity of country music accelerated “six or seven years ago” after the CMA set its sights on conquering Europe. “A year or two before C2C in London started, we started to pick up shows here in Germany,” he explains. “Ossy [Hoppe, Wizard Promotions founder] used to bring Garth Brooks here in the ’90s, [but] that was a completely different animal – it was a worldwide phenomenon, and he played arenas over here that sold out instantly.

“It really picked up when the CMA put Europe on the agenda and we started doing grassroots work bringing over country and Americana acts.”

Hoppe says while the market is still “some years behind” Britain, “country is on the rise in Germany.

“It was a trickle at the beginning, but for every show we put on, more people come the second time around. We started with one country tour – the Band Perry, in 2012 – and now we’re at 25. We’ve been growing the market very organically but the interest is definitely there.”

“Country is one of the few genres of music where radio airplay can definitely move the needle”

The growth of country festivals such as C2C and CMC Rocks in Australia has been “instrumental in swinging the pendulum” towards country music outside the US, maintains Rogers. “Artists who historically did not want to travel outside of the US are standing in a queue to bring their music across the pond, to share experiences and life stories… I always love it when they return to the US with their stories of fans in Germany, Sweden, Belgium or Denmark singing all their songs back to them.

“It is so gratifying when a country artist plays a support slot on a festival, goes back in six to eight months and plays a headline club tour, goes back in another six to eight months after that and headlines a theatre tour, and then ends up headlining that same original festival.”

Like York, Rogers sees radio, as well as record label promo, as being a “huge factor” in country’s rise in Europe. “Country is one of the few genres of music where radio airplay can definitely move the needle,” she says.

 


Continue reading this feature in the digital edition of IQ 82, or subscribe to the magazine here

It’s a plaid, plaid world

Country music is one of the fastest growing genres of music in the UK. Yup – you read that correctly. If you don’t believe me, you clearly weren’t at the O2 back in March when 80,000 fans descended on the venue to see Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Kacey Musgraves and a whole host of country stars from here and the US perform. (Cowboy hats included but not compulsory.)

Gone is the line-dancing, and the cheesy references to Billy Ray Cyrus’s ‘Achy Breaky Heart’, and even the term country and western. Country music is taking back the reins – and this time it’s cool.

Hot Nashville newcomers Midland recently had a four-page spread in Vogue. Florida Georgia Line’s collaboration with Bebe Rexha has been played on mainstream radio. Hundreds of thousands of people are tuning in to TV show Nashville. And Chris Stapleton regularly pops up alongside best friend Justin Timberlake whenever he can.

I’ve been a fan of country since I was a kid. Whilst my friends were listening to Take That and the Spice Girls, I was secretly hoarding Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash albums. Now my fellow fans are coming out of the country closet to embrace the genre. Why the shift?

BA wouldn’t have just launched the first direct flight in decades if Nashville hadn’t put Music City firmly on the map for UK fans

Well, streaming has definitely helped. Spotify, Deezer, etc., have introduced people to all kinds of music they would not have previously come across. Then there’s the lifestyle: BA wouldn’t have just launched the first direct Nashville flight in decades if Nashville hadn’t put Music City firmly on the map for UK fans. Most importantly, though, live music has played a significant role in growing the genre’s popularity.

The more bands that come over from Nashville to play here, the more the American labels realise there’s a significant, very hungry audience in the UK. And so they return, with more artists and bigger venues. And the momentum builds. Smaller venues are hosting their own country nights; pubs have open mic evenings; and “three chords and the truth” singers are taking the spotlight. UK country singers are going from strength to strength, with artists such as the Shires, Catherine McGrath and the Wandering Hearts proving you don’t need to come from Tennessee to claim country music as your own.

So what does this mean for the future? More music, gigs, emerging artists, great songs and probably a few more cowboy hats. The future is most definitely country…

 


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