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Omicron live music restrictions: World update

As the new Omicron variant of coronavirus takes hold, IQ has updated the latest restrictions affecting major international touring markets. This update complements our European list which can be read here

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

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 Thursday 16 December.

To read about the Omicron restrictions affecting European markets, please click here


Abu Dhabi
As of 27 November, the operating capacity of indoor events has increased to 80%. Entry to indoor events requires attendees to show their green pass and a negative PCR test result received within 96 hours.

Attendees at indoor events must also undertake an EDE scan at public entry points and wear a mask.

Argentina
As of 16 November, mass events in outdoor spaces can take place at 100% capacity. Attendees over 18 years of age must provide proof of at least one dose of the vaccine, and wear a face mask during the event.

Australia
In New South Wales, face masks, proof of vaccination and Covid-19 Safe Check-in are not required. Retail and businesses are no longer required to have a Safety Plan.

In Victoria (and from 17 December, Queensland too) many leisure and entertainment facilities, such as live music venues, can only open for attendees and staff who are fully vaccinated or exempted. Capacity limits and social distancing will not apply.

South Australia is currently operating under Level 1 restrictions which means venues are limited to 75% capacity for seated events and 50% for standing events. Covid Management Plans required for events of more than 1,000 people. Masks are required for shared indoor public spaces.

Though Western Australia remains in a ‘state of emergency’, events and concerts are permitted to go ahead at full capacity. However, businesses must provide a Covid Safety Plan and maintain a contact register. Events with more than 500 patrons are required to complete a Covid Event Checklist or Plan.

For information on restrictions in Northern Territory click here, Tasmania here and Australia Capital Territory here.

Brazil
In November, the Brazilian government increased the capacity limit for music venues from 70% to 100% with proof of vaccination.

Canada
In Ontario, Canada’s capital city and its biggest live music market, new restrictions came into effect on Sunday 19 December.

Under the new rules, music venues and many other indoor public settings will be limited to 50% capacity. Event spaces are required to close by 23:00.

Canada’s live music restrictions vary from province to province.

See the latest guidelines for each of the regions here: AlbertaBritish Columbia, Manitoba, New BrunswickNewfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, Nova ScotiaNunavut, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Yukon.

Chile
Restrictions vary across the country but the majority of regions are on step 3 (preparation) or step 4 (initial opening) of the national five-step reopening plan.

During step 3, seated concerts in closed spaces (such as music venues) can take place at 50% capacity if all attendees show a Mobility Pass verifying full vaccination. If there is food consumption, it is reduced to 30% capacity.

Seated concerts in open spaces (such as open-air venues) can take place at 60% capacity with a Mobility Pass. If there is food consumption, it is reduced to 40% capacity.

In non-seated closed spaces, events can take place with up to 100 people (sans Mobility Pass) or 500 people (with Mobility Pass). In non-seated open spaces, events can take place with up to 200 (sans Mobility Pass) or 1,000 (with Mobility Pass).

Attendees at all non-seated venues must be able to maintain social distancing (1m without food consumption, 1.5m with).

Masks are required in all public spaces.

China

Life is largely back to normal but regional lockdowns have been imposed every time there are new outbreaks of the virus.

Dubai
Mask-wearing is compulsory, as is keeping a two-meter social distance, except in restaurants, cafes, offices, workplaces, gyms, shopping centres, beaches and public and entertainment parks, where a one-meter rule applies.

Outside, you must wear a mask unless exercising, eating or drinking, at a barbershop or salon, in a car with people from the same household, or if you’re alone.

Live entertainment and activities are permitted in restaurants, cafés and shopping malls. Events with free movement – such as standing concerts – are now allowed again, with a maximum of 5,000 people. Vaccination is required for these events.

Japan
At the beginning of November, the Japanese government eased its 10,000-capacity limit on mass gatherings such as concerts following a steady decline in coronavirus cases.

Events across the country can now admit 5,000 people, or 50% of capacity – whichever is larger – while large-scale spaces are permitted to welcome more than 10,000 spectators in Tokyo and other regions previously under a state or quasi-state of emergency. However, events that will involve fans shouting and cheering will be capped at 50% of capacity.

See more information on event restrictions here.

Mexico
Mexico is currently following a colour-coded system (red, orange, yellow, green) which is updated every two weeks.

Currently, all states are coded yellow (resuming limited activities but with precaution) or green (resuming normal activities but with precaution).

Concerts can only take place in green-coded states. See the colour codes for states here.

New Zealand
Since the beginning of this month, New Zealand has been operating with a traffic light system, under which each region has been assigned a colour (green, orange or red) based on vaccination rates and the spread of Covid-19 in the community.

A region’s colour determines the set of restrictions by which it has to abide.

In regions assigned ‘red’, venues using vaccine certificates are limited to 100 people with one-metre social distancing. In ‘orange’ regions, these venues face no limits on gatherings at events, retail, hospitality. Venues that don’t use vaccine certificates are not permitted indoor or outdoor events under red or orange.

Every region aside from Northland will move to orange at 23:59 NZST on 30 December.  These settings will stay in place until 17 January when the cabinet will review. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she expected many areas would move to green at that point.

South Africa
As of 1 October 2021, South Africa is operating under an adjusted Alert Level 1 which indicates a “low Covid-19 spread with a high health system readiness”.

Under Alert Level 1, leisure and entertainment facilities, whether indoors or outdoors, must close at 23:00. Nightclubs are closed to the public.

Face masks are mandatory for every person when in a public place and 1.5 metres social distancing must be maintained.

Entertainment facilities are limited to a maximum capacity of 750 people for indoor venues and 2,000 people or less for outdoor venues – with social distancing. Smaller venues are limited to 50% capacity.

South Korea
It was announced on 16 December that South Korea will reimpose curfews on businesses for an initial two weeks from Saturday 18 December.

Public places such as concert halls and cinemas will be permitted to operate until 22:00, while restaurants, cafes and other nightlife venues will have to close at 21:00.

The measures, announced on Thursday (16 December), come a month and a half after the government initiated a phased reopening plan. Amid record highs of Covid-19 infections, the cabinet has gradually rolled back the policy.

United States
Restrictions may vary from state to state – check the US government website for the latest guidance.

New York City
On 13 December, governor Kathy Hochul announced that masks will be required to be worn in all indoor public places unless businesses or venues implement a vaccine requirement. This measure is effective until 15 January 2022, after which the state will re-evaluate based on current conditions.

California
California is fully open for business with no capacity limits or physical distancing requirements.

For indoor events with 1,000 or more or outdoor events with 10,000 or more, attendees age 3 and older must provide proof that they are fully vaccinated or have received a negative Covid-19 test.

Unvaccinated persons are required to wear masks in all indoor public settings. It is recommended that fully vaccinated people also wear masks in these settings.

 


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Goldenvoice revives This Ain’t No Picnic festival

Goldenvoice is bringing back one of its earliest festivals, US-based event This Ain’t No Picnic.

The Strokes and LCD Soundsystem will headline the event at Brookside at the Rose Bowl in California on 27 and 28 August 2022.

According to the promoter, the festival will feature six stages of artists from “the past, present, and future spanning cutting-edge indie, hip-hop, dance, underground and everything in-between”.

Le Tigre, Phoebe Bridgers, Idles, Courtney Barnett, Caroline Polachek and Honey Dijon are also billed for the 2022 edition of This Ain’t No Picnic.

The festival’s name is a nod to one of Goldenvoice’s earliest festivals, launched in Irvine, California in 1999, the same year as Coachella.

Le Tigre, Phoebe Bridgers, Idles, Courtney Barnett, Caroline Polachek and Honey Dijon are also billed for the 2022 edition

The inaugural event featured Sonic Youth, Sleater-Kinney, Guided by Voices, Will Oldham, and others. The 2000 This Ain’t No Picnic showcased Beck, Yo La Tengo, Built to Spill, At the Drive-In, Modest Mouse, and more.

After a hiatus, This Ain’t No Picnic returned in 2002 with headliners Guided by Voices, Jimmy Eat World, and the Donnas.

2022 will also see AEG subsidiary Goldenvoice launch southern California festival California Vibes, it was announced in October.

In the US, Goldenvoice produces several festivals, most notably Coachella, as well as operating 14 mid-sized venues and promoting over 1,800 shows per year.

Two-day general admission tickets for This Ain’t No Picnic start at US$299. See the full line-up for the festival below.

 

This Ain't No Picnic 2022

 


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Goldenvoice positions itself for new events at Coachella site

Goldenvoice has signed a long-term agreement with the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California, which will enable the promoter to stage additional festivals on the site.

The 642-plus acre desert oasis has been home to Goldenvoice’s Coachella Valley Arts & Music Festival since its inception in 1999, as well as its country music counterpart, Stagecoach, which first took place on the grounds in 2007.

The newly announced deal will see the AEG Presents subsidiary take over year-round operations at the festival site and polo fields, which are estimated to be worth US$80 million, according to local land records.

Additionally, the LA-based promoter and live events company is permitted to host two additional three-day events on the site every year, according to Billboard, prompting speculation that Desert Trip may return to the site after its debut in 2016.

“The new long-term lease will assure that the iconic Coachella and Stagecoach will continue for many years to come”

The deal also provides Goldenvoice oversight of the Empire Grand Oasis, a special event property in Thermal, California.

The Haagen Family, owner of the Empire Polo Club, says: “We are pleased to continue our long-term relationship with Paul Tollett and Goldenvoice. The new long-term lease will assure that the iconic Coachella and Stagecoach Music Festivals will continue for many years to come and allow Goldenvoice to expand their vast catalogue of musical acts on both of Empire’s properties. We wish the very best to AEG, Goldenvoice, and Paul Tollett with their future plans.”

Paul Tollett, president at Goldenvoice, says: “Goldenvoice has had a unique relationship with Empire Polo Club for over twenty-five years. It is a privilege to now take over the operations of the venue and we look forward to continuing to build upon the special history that has been established there. It’s immeasurable how much we’ve learned from Al Haagen.”

In August, Indio City Council extended its development agreement with Goldenvoice, allowing Coachella and Stagecoach to take place in the city until 2050. The promoter generates $3.5m for the city of Indio each year, according to city records.

Goldenvoice is one of the world’s biggest promoters; the company produces several festivals, including recently announced California Vibrations, operates 14 mid-sized venues and promotes over 1,800 shows per year.

 


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BTS announce mini-residency at LA’s new SoFi stadium

BTS have announced a mini-residency at the brand new SoFi stadium (cap. 70,000) in Los Angeles this winter, promoted by Live Nation.

The record-breaking K-pop stars will bring their ‘Permission to Dance on Stage’ show to Inglewood, California, for four nights.

The in-person concerts will mark the first time BTS have been able to be face-to-face with fans since the 2019 BTS World Tour.

The four shows, taking place on 27, 28 November and 1, 2 December, will follow the group’s recently announced livestream concert scheduled for 24 October.

The ‘BTS Permission to Dance On Stage’ live stream comes a year after the ‘BTS Map of the Soul On:e’ event in October 2020.

The four shows will follow the group’s recently announced livestream concert scheduled for 24 October

The stars grossed an estimated $44 million from the two-day live stream, which reached 993,000 viewers in 191 regions.

BTS’s record label, Big Hit Music, says they decided to hold the concerts in the US after “taking the national and regional health regulations and circumstances into consideration”.

“It is [with] our deepest regret that we are unable to hold more concerts in more areas,” it added. “We will do our best to put on additional concerts for not only Korean fans but fans from all around the world who have been patiently waiting for a long time.”

Fans can register for ‘Permission to Dance on Stage’ tickets here.

 


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New management outfit Grandview Music launches

Experienced managers Graham Martin, Diony Sepulveda and Kimberly Schon have launched Grandview Music, a new artist management company based in Encinitas, San Diego, California.

Martin will serve as the company’s CEO, with Sepulveda as president and Schon as executive vice-president. Grandview Music’s rock-focused roster includes the likes of Rise Against, the Story So Far, Pepper, Quicksand, Bad Child, Militarie Gun, Asking Alexandria, Motionless in White, Lowlives, and the Messenger Birds.

Martin began his management career at Valvet Hammer Music Management, working with clients including Deftones, Alice in Chains and Pepper. In 2014, he joined Pat Magnarella Management, which relaunched in 2018 as Grndvw.

Sepulveda has worked with artists including Pennywise, Avenged Sevenfold and Slipknot. He most recently worked at 5B Artist Management, where he ran Slipknot’s touring business, in addition to signing Asking Alexandria and Hollywood Undead.

“It’s very rare that in this journey you get to join forces with such extraordinarily talented, like-minded and passionate friends”

Another 5B alumnus, Schon has managed acts such as Stone Sour, Motionless in White, Lowlives and Slipknot, helping to launch the latter’s music festival Knotfest internationally. She launched her own management company in 2019.

“Diony, Kim and I have a deep passion for what we do and strive to work with culturally relevant artists,” says Martin, “while building a music company that reaches far beyond the status quo of what an artist management company is.”

“I have been lucky enough to work alongside some of the most respected and innovative industry professionals and artists the last 20-plus years,” adds Sepulveda. “It’s an honour to be working with Graham and Kim as I have incredible respect for what they have accomplished in their careers. I’m very excited for this next chapter of creating a new unique modern music company with my friends.”

Adds Schon: “I got into this business with the goal of helping foster the voice of the next generation of artists. It’s very rare that in this journey you get to join forces with such extraordinarily talented, like-minded and passionate friends as Graham and Diony.”

 


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$33m settlement for Ghost Ship fire lawsuits

The city of Oakland has reached a $32.7 million settlement with the families of those killed by the tragic blaze at  unlicensed music venue and artists’ collective Ghost Ship in 2016.

The fire, which was the worst structural disaster in northern California since the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, killed 36 people in total, most of whom were at Ghost Ship for an electronic music party.

The Oakland City Council has now authorised the settlements of lawsuits filed by the families of 32 victims.

“This was a horrific tragedy that deeply impacted every corner of our community,” reads a statement from the city attorney’s office. According to the statement, the city decided to settle because of the possible legal costs, and does not acknowledge any liability for the incident.

“This was a horrific tragedy that deeply impacted every corner of our community”

Prosecutors contend that Derick Almena, the master tenant on the warehouse lease, was criminally negligent when he converted and sublet the space as a residence for artists and an event venue.

Almena was charged with 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter, with a retrial – following an initial mistrial – scheduled for October. A co-defendant, Max Harris, was acquitted of involuntary manslaughter charges last year, while the building’s owner, Chor Ng, has not been charged with a crime.

The blaze, which was believed to have been caused by an electrical fire, echoed another tragic incident at the Colectiv nightclub in Bucharest, Romania, the same year, which claimed the lives of 64 people.

Last year, prison sentences were handed out to 13 people in conjunction with the Colectiv fire, including the venue owners, pyrotechnic specialists and city officials.

Photo: Jim Heaphy/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0) (cropped)

 


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Eventbrite facing legal action over refund policy

Eventbrite has become the latest ticket seller to be hit with a lawsuit over its alleged non-payment of refunds for cancelled or postponed events.

In a consumer class-action complaint filed on 4 June in the US district court for northern California, ticket buyers Sherri Snow, Anthony Piceno and Linda Conner accuse Eventbrite of “deceptive practices relating to its sale of live events tickets and its refusal to provide refunds for live events that have been canceled, rescheduled and/or postponed.”

According to the plaintiffs, by “shift[ing] responsibility” for issuing cash refunds to event organisers, Eventbrite is in violation of section 22507 of California’s Business and Professions Code, which requires that the “ticket price of any event which is canceled [sic], postponed, or rescheduled shall be fully refunded to the purchaser by the ticket seller upon request.”

“After the coronavirus outbreak forced the cancelation or postponement of most large events and public gatherings, Eventbrite has consistently refused to allow for refunds for canceled, postponed and/or rescheduled events, including when events are ‘indefinitely’ postponed,” reads the complaint.

“Instead, Eventbrite has tried to shift responsibility to event organizers, allowing them to refuse refunds for cancellations, postponements and rescheduled events.”

“Eventbrite has consistently refused to allow for refunds … including when events are ‘indefinitely’ postponed”

Secondary ticketing platforms StubHub and SeatGeek are both battling similar class-action suits in the US, with the former also the target of legal action in Canada.

“At best,” the complaint explains, “Eventbrite has urged some organizers to ‘make good’ when events are canceled, postponed and/or rescheduled” between 15 March and 15 May.

This, the plaintiffs say, does not go far enough, because it allows promoters to offer credit or vouchers for future events “no matter when in the future the event might occur or how much or when the credit might apply”.

While many European concert organisers have been empowered to offer ticket vouchers instead of cash refunds, no legislation of the sort exists in California or the wider US.

Among other forms of redress, the trio seek monetary damages, an order that Eventbrite will cease the “unlawful, deceptive, fraudulent and unfair business practices” alleged in the complaint, and legal costs, to be determined at a jury trial.

News of the lawsuit, revealed in the company’s latest filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), comes as Eventbrite records a month-on-month increase in ticket sales for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic hit in March.

 


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Coachella 2020 line-up revealed

The line-up for the 2020 edition of Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival has been unveiled, with Rage Against the Machine, Travis Scott and Frank Ocean topping the bill.

The AEG/Goldenvoice-promoted mega festival, which takes place across two consecutive weekends in April, will also see performances from Lana Del Rey, Calvin Harris, Flume, Thom Yorke, Run the Jewels, Megan Thee Stallion and Lil Uzi Vert, with the same acts performing at both weekend one (10–12 April) and weekend two (17–19 April) of the festival.

The 125,000-capacity event, which is widely regarded as marking the beginning of the international festival season, will once again take place at its home of the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California.

The line-up for Coachella 2020 has been unveiled, with Rage Against the Machine, Travis Scott and Frank Ocean topping the bill

Coachella 2019 saw headline performances from Ariana Grande, Childish Gambino and Tame Impala. Last year’s festival also saw the introduction of a new, AR-enabled stage.

Tickets for weekend one of the event, which went on advance sale in June, are now sold out. Presale for the second weekend starts on 6 January at 12 p.m. PT. Fans can register for the presale here.

Festival travel platform Festicket teamed up with Coachella in July to become the exclusive UK and Europe ticketing partner for the 2020 event.

See the full line-up below:

Coachella 2020 line-up revealed


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Virgin Fest CEO Jason Felts acquires Kaaboo

Jason Felts, chief executive of the festival arm of Richard Branson’s Virgin brand, Virgin Fest, and co-founder of Virgin Produced, has acquired Kaaboo festival from its co-founders.

Through a Virgin Fest affiliate, Felts, former chief brand officer for the festival, has acquired all of Kaaboo’s assets from Bryan E Gordon and Seth Wolkov. The pair, chairman and president of Denver-based private investment holding company, the Madison Companies, launched Kaaboo in 2015 at the Del Mar Racetrack (44,000-cap.) in California.

Financial details of the sale have not been disclosed.

The Kaaboo sale  comes days after the announcement that the festival had entered into a multi-year partnership with baseball team the San Diego Padres, moving the festival to Petco Park baseball stadium and renaming the event from Kaaboo Del Mar to Kaaboo San Diego.

“I attended the first Kaaboo Del Mar in 2015 with my parents,” says Felts. “It became clear that Kaaboo shared a like-minded approach to Virgin with customer service, while delivering a unique, differentiated, multi-sensory festival product.

“It was on that basis that we first invested and supported this vision in 2016. We look forward to the future of the Kaaboo brand and its festival experiences under our ownership.”

The Kaaboo team debuted two new spin-off festivals this year, a two-day event in the Cayman Islands and a three-day festival in Texas. A 2020 Cayman Islands festival, announced immediately after the close of the sold-out inaugural edition, has since been cancelled. No announcement has been made regarding a continuation of the Texas festival.

“It became clear that Kaaboo shared a like-minded approach to Virgin with customer service, while delivering a unique, differentiated, multi-sensory festival product”

Kaaboo co-founders Gordon and Wolkov comment: “We’re thrilled and delighted to have had this unique vision and grateful to be validated by this acquisition with such an experienced and progressive team.

“We are appreciative of Richard (Branson) and Virgin’s early support of our brand and confident that, in Jason and his team’s capable hands, the journey that we started to offer adults [of] a truly differentiated festival experience is sure to live on and grow for many years to come.”

Virgin Group founder Branson announced the launch of his own “multi-experiential” music festival last year, following the termination of Virgin’s V Festival sponsorship. The festival, also named Virgin Fest, was pegged to debut in the US this year.

The final Kaaboo Del Mar wrapped up on Sunday (15 September). Acts including the Dave Matthews band, Kings of Leon and Mumford and Sons played the sold-out event, with attendance surpassing 35,000 each day.

The first edition of Kaaboo San Diego will take place from September 18 to 20 next year, held in and around the San Diego baseball stadium, Petco Park (42,445-cap.). Tickets for the event, priced from US$199 for a three-day pass to $17,500 for the ‘Ultimate Hang’ VIP package, are available here.

 


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Coachella partners up with Festicket

Festival travel platform Festicket has teamed up with Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival to become the Californian festival’s exclusive UK and Europe ticketing partner.

Festicket will provide extra local booking services, support across eight languages and additional currency options, as well as promotion a range of ticket packages.

Tickets for the 2020 edition of Coachella, went on advance sale on Friday 14 June, with Festicket packages selling so far to fans in 49 different countries worldwide.

Festicket chief executive co-founder and chief executive, Zack Sabban, says it is “amazing” to extend the platform’s relationship with Coachella and promoter Goldenvoice. Sabban founded Festicket in 2012, when planning a trip to the Californian festival.

“We created Festicket to help people plan their trips to destination festivals exactly like Coachella,” comments Sabban.

“We created Festicket to help people plan their trips to destination festivals exactly like Coachella”

“Our work so far with Coachella has had an amazing response from our international community of festival fans. Now we’ll be focusing on making the experience the best it can be for every fan – from discovery, to booking, to accommodation, to the event itself.”

Festicket has raised overUS$30 million in funds, most recently receiving $4.6m from creative industries investment specialist, Edge.

Coachella 2019, which took place at the Empire Polo Club in southern California, saw headline performance from Childish Gambino, Tame Impala and Ariana Grande.

The 2020 edition will take place across two consecutive weekends from 10 to 12 and 17 to 19 April.

 


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