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Creativeman on Summer Sonic’s triumphant sell-out

Creativeman’s Naoki Shimizu and Layli Odamura have spoken to IQ about how they’ve triumphed over a myriad of challenges in the Japanese industry to sell out Summer Sonic 2024.

The flagship festival will return to its longstanding locations, Tokyo’s Zozomarine Stadium and and Osaka’s Maishima Sonic Park, between 17 and 18 August.

Bring Me The Horizon, Måneskin, Christina Aguilera, Greta Van Fleet, Major Lazer, Lil Yachty, Belle & Sebastien, Bleachers, Madison Beer, Oliva Dean, PinkPantheress and more are due to perform at the twin events.

Here, the Creativeman executives tell IQ how this year’s festival has prospered over the headliner drought, the weak yen, rising costs and extreme weather…

How are the Summer Sonic dates in Tokyo and Osaka selling?
Naoki Shimizu (NS): We’ve sold out Tokyo and Osaka, which comes to 220,000 tickets. If Sonicmania on Friday sells out at 30,000, that would come to 250,000 total.

Summer Sonic 2024 is headlined by Maneskin and Bring Me The Horizon, two bands that haven’t yet headlined many festivals. What’s your thinking behind that decision?
NS: In the past, these two bands have played in Japan at Summer Sonic, headline tours etc which were all very successful due to their strength locally. This year many festivals across the world struggled to book headliners but for I believe in developing and growing artists into headliners and these two artists are prime example of this.

Layli Odamura (LO): After the pandemic had gradually calmed down, we have been lucky to have many incredible artists committed to play in Japan at the return of Summer Sonic in 2022. The fans were so ready and hungry for it and this included a new generation of them.

Maneskin’s first-ever show in Japan was at that Summer Sonic in 2022 and it was an instant, magnetic love, perfect match for Japanese audience to feel connected. Bring Me The Horizon (BMTH) had cleverly built their career and fan base in Japan gradually to the level where they even held their own festival called NEX_FEST in Tokyo, which sold out at approximately 20,000 people. This is a big achievement for this genre of artist as it has never been done before here and all due to BMTH’s exquisite artistry.

“Many festivals across the world struggled to book headliners but for I believe in developing and growing artists”

How have fans responded to these choices?
NS: Very well. The majority of our audience were seeking for a fresh act to be chosen, and a rock band in particular. One of the factors would be due to Summer Sonic audience becoming younger post pandemic.

What kind of impact is the weak yen having on booking, especially when it comes to big international artists?
NS: This is a big damage. The countermeasure we have put in place to survive the weak yen is to decrease the number of offers to those artists requiring fees in USD$ or GBP£, while increasing domestic and Asian artists to play instead. And this has proved that the festival can sell out even without the appearance of expensive acts.

LO: With the current exchange rate, as you can imagine we are paying approx. x1.6 or even more than a few years ago. This is a big problem because even when we are technically paying more in yen, from artist’s point of view in USD, the fee is still low.
Also touring costs overall such as airfare, freight, production costs etc has increased globally in the recent years so this is a double knockout situation for us.

Does this mean future lineups won’t be so Anglo-centric?
NS: I will stick to international music at the forefront. In Japan there are countless number of festivals with just domestic artists and K-pop. If that differentiation from these festivals disappears, the uniqueness and individuality will be lost. This year at Summer Sonic there are approximately 40 international artists and this ratio feels right.

“To survive the weak yen, [we have to] decrease the number of offers to those artists requiring fees in USD$ or GBP£”

There’s a trend of Asian festivals linking up and making offers together, are you doing this with your stable of festivals?
NS: Summer Sonic Bangkok starting this year is an example of this. I do hope to broaden to wider Asian territories and make offers together in the future.

LO: Summer Sonic brand has a strong presence in Asia so that always helps for us to connect with other Asian festival promoters too.

Are there upsides to the weak yen? Does it mean more tourists are visiting your festivals?
NS: Disadvantage is much bigger. However yes, inbound tourists attendance have increased and likely to reach to about 10%. If we broaden the sales network wider in the future then we could even reach to about 25% .

LO: Recent inbound tourism has strongly impacted Japan’s economy. Recently I have read a report that inbound travellers spent Y1.8 trillion in the first three months of 2024 in Japan, which is the highest figure on record. At our festivals and shows too we definitely see a lot more attendees from abroad, and are also noticing that shows such as overseas comedy acts etc are now not only promoted but sell well. This is a fairly new phenomenon because these shows are all in English, but it seems to be working as demand is there by increase of inbound tourists, ex-pats and those locals who returned from living abroad.

How much are prices rising in Japan, for things like infrastructure, artist fees, staffing etc?
NS: They have increased by about 120-150%. Aside from increasing the ticket price, it would become necessary to consider various strategies to cut down the costs such as decreasing the number of acts, number of stages etc.

“Prices in Japan have increased by about 120-150%”

Extreme heat is becoming a major challenge for summer festivals in Japan. How are you planning to mitigate that for your attendees?
NS: The Japanese summer is becoming increasing hot so for those areas such as merchandise, lockers etc where a long line is expected, we have now expanded indoor facilities to a even bigger capacity. Water supply area and first aid/medical areas have been expanded too.

Are you able to attract new and young audiences to your festivals?
NS: The well balanced line-up between the Western acts, domestic acts and Asian acts have attracted new and younger audiences. Research showed that in 2022 after the pandemic, 75% of the audience that year were attending Summer Sonic for the first time ever.

Creativeman organises a number of genre-specific festivals, how do they sell compare to your more eclectic events?
NS: When a festival is genre-specific, overall capacity does decrease compared to Summer Sonic but they still do have strong attendance. In addition to Summer Sonic and Sonicmania, Creativeman also holds multiple international music festivals such as GMO Sonic, Punkspring, Loudpark, Green Room, Blue Note Jazz, Coke Studio, Rockin’ On Sonic etc, and we are very proud to be the promoter most passionate about spreading International and Western music culture which we put so much effort in building, maintaining and strengthening locally.

LO: Creativeman is a pioneer in presenting genre-specific festivals. Our first one was nearly 20 years ago now. We do move fluidly based on demand so although some are long-running, each time gives out a freshness about it with dynamic tweaks and changes to it. Japanese fans are committed to their artists so in that sense a genre-specific festival does work well and is a great platform for many bands to gain new fanbase.

 


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Summer Sonic details Bangkok debut

Summer Sonic has announced the lineup for its inaugural Bangkok edition, announced earlier this year.

The Creativeman-promoted festival will be headlined by US acts One Republic and Lauv, with support from other international acts including Laufey, Aurora, Suede and Nothing But Thieves.

Yoasobi, Bodyslam, Zico, Bright, Boynextdoor, Lovejoy, Travis Japan, Phum Viphurit, Psychic Fever, Getsunova, Henry Moodie, Violette Wautier, Tomikita and Sarukani are also slated to perform at the debut.

Summer Sonic Bangkok will take place in Thailand’s capital between 24 and 25 August at the Impact Arena (cap. 12,000) in Muang Thong Thani.

The last edition of Summer Sonic that took place outside of Japan was Summer Sonic Shanghai in 2017

Ticket prices range from 3,500 (€89) to 11,000 (€278) for a one-day pass, and 6,500 (€164) to 20,000 (€506) for two-day entry.

The last edition of Summer Sonic that took place outside of Japan was Summer Sonic Shanghai in 2017. It featured a line-up headlined by Luna Sea, followed by The Kooks, Placebo, Nothing But Thieves, Sum 41, Travis, The Fratellis, and more.

The flagship event will return to its longstanding locations in Tokyo and Osaka between 17 and 18 August 2024 – both of which are sold out.

Bring Me The Horizon, Christina Aguilera, Måneskin, Greta Van Fleet, Major Lazer, Lil Yachty, Belle & Sebastien, Bleachers, Madison Beer, Oliva Dean, PinkPantheress and more are due to perform at the twin events.

 


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Japan’s Summer Sonic to launch in Bangkok

Summer Sonic, one of Japan’s biggest international festivals, is expanding to Bangkok this year.

The Creativeman-promoted festival will land in Thailand’s capital between 24 and 25 August, taking place at the Impact Arena in Muang Thong Thani.

“As another challenge in 2024, Summer Sonic will finally expand overseas,” wrote Creativeman CEO Naoki Shimizu on the festival’s website.

“Nowadays, overseas festivals are spreading to various regions and achieving success, and Korean artists are active all over the world, so we are starting Summer Sonic Bangkok as a way for Japan to connect with the world through music. We will aim for a more attractive and powerful lineup by booking great artists in both countries.”

The first wave of acts for Summer Sonic Bangkok will be announced around late January/early February, according to organisers.

The last edition of Summer Sonic that took place outside of Japan was Summer Sonic Shanghai in 2017. It featured a line-up headlined by Luna Sea, followed by The Kooks, Placebo, Nothing But Thieves, Sum 41, Travis, The Fratellis, and more.

“We are starting Summer Sonic Bangkok as a way for Japan to connect with the world through music”

In 2023, Summer Sonic festival took place in Tokyo’s Zozomarine Stadium and Makuhari Messe and Osaka’s Maishima Sonic Park between 19 and 20 August, and was headlined by Blur and Kendrick Lamar.

NewJeans, ENHYPHEN, Sunset Rollercoaster, Evanescence, Two Door Cinema Club, Wet Leg, The Kid LAROI and Maisie Peters were also on the bill.

Summer Sonic celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2019, attracting a record 300,000 people across the two sites. The pandemic ensured the festival did not take place again until 2022, when international acts accounted for just 40% of its offering due to stringent pandemic travel restrictions, and the capacities of the twin sites were reduced.

The Japanese government announced a relaxation of its longstanding ban on cheering at concerts and sporting events at the start of 2023, along with a reclassification of Covid-19’s disease status.

However, Shimizu recently told IQ that the flagship event would continue its focus on Japanese acts amid a rise in domestic festival-goers.

Summer Sonic will return to its longstanding locations in Tokyo and Osaka between 17 and 18 August 2024.

 


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Japan’s Summer Sonic increases domestic focus

Creativeman president Naoki Shimizu says Japan’s Summer Sonic is reducing its reliance on international talent amid a rise in domestic festival-goers.

The sold-out  event will be held concurrently at Zozomarine Stadium and Makuhari Messe, Tokyo and Maishma Sonic Park, Osaka this weekend (19-20 August), headlined by Kendrick Lamar, Blur, The Strokes, Lizzo and Foo Fighters.

Other non-domestic acts on the bill include Fall Out Boy, Blur, Niall Horan, Thundercat, Two Door Cinema Club, Wet Leg, Honne, Pale Waves, Liam Gallagher and Evanescence, but Shimizu says the growing number of Asian visitors to the festival and the country itself is influencing a shift in direction.

“Summer Sonic is often said to be a festival centred on Western music, but the number of Asian acts is increasing year after year,” he tells the Japan Times.

After the event attracted a record 300,000 people across the two sites for its 20th anniversary edition in 2019, the pandemic ensured Summer Sonic did not take place again until 2022, when international acts accounted for just 40% of its offering due to stringent pandemic travel restrictions.

“The promoters have also become stronger, and we are ready for any other challenges ahead of us”

In addition, the festivals were reduced in capacity (Tokyo to 55,000 and Osaka to 30,000) and fans were subject to a number of restrictions. However, Shimizu reveals the planning for this year’s event was far more straightforward.

“Preparations have been pretty easy this year, compared to last year,” he says. “That’s what happens when you don’t have to install disinfectant stands or partitions. “Festival sponsors have also come back strong this year, after many avoided last year’s edition due to worries over criticism.”

The Japanese government only announced a relaxation of its longstanding ban on cheering at concerts and sporting events at the start of 2023, along with a reclassification of Covid-19’s disease status, but Shimizu says the market is now back to full strength.

“It’s recovered,” he says. “I think people have rediscovered the splendour of live music after being restricted from it over the past few years. But it’s back, and the numbers back that up. The promoters have also become stronger, and we are ready for any other challenges ahead of us.”

The Japanese government recently dialled back visa requirements, making it easier for foreign artists of varying success to visit the country. The changes were prompted by a recent boom in live music performances, according to Japan’s Immigration Services Agency (ISA).

The forthcoming issue of IQ, due out next week, will feature an in-depth look at the Japanese live music market.

 


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LGBTIQ+ List 2023: Meet this year’s queer pioneers

IQ Magazine has revealed the LGBTIQ+ List 2023 – the third annual celebration of queer professionals who make an immense impact in the international live music business.

The ever-popular list is the centrepiece of IQ’s third Pride edition, sponsored by Ticketmaster, which is now available to read online and in print for subscribers.

The 20 individuals comprising the LGBTIQ+ List 2023 – as nominated by our readers and verified by our esteemed steering committee – are individuals that have gone above and beyond to wave the flag for an industry that we can all be proud of.

The third instalment comprises agents, promoters, tour managers, marketing executives, consultants, founders and more – all of whom identify as LGBTIQ+ and, in the face of adversity, have made enormous contributions to their respective sectors.

In alphabetical order, the LGBTIQ+ List 2023 is:

Christina Austin, music agent, United Talent Agency (UK)
Hila Aviran, director of entertainment & tours, PixMob (US)
Johanna Beckman, senior creative curator and promoter, FKP Scorpio Sweden (SE)
Amy Greig, booking agent, Runway Artists (UK)
Adem Holness, head of contemporary music, Southbank Centre (UK)
Kane Kete, client development manager, Ticketmaster (AU)
Ippei Kimura, booking/marketing/tour manager, Creativeman Productions (JP)
Katherine Koranteng, marketing & campaigns manager, Festival Republic (UK)
Stefan Lehmkuhl, freelance curator & live entertainment consultant, BMG/Ruined My Rainbow (DE)
Lucy Mackenzie McNae, tour manager (Josef, Twin Atlantic), Two and a Half TMs (UK)
Saskhia Menendez, innovator at Keychange, board of directors at F-List Music (UK)
Dev Mistry, global internal comms manager, DICE (UK)
Frederik Diness Ove, founder, Queer Music Agency (DK)
Boyan Pinter (Boiadjiev), founder/director, SPIKE Bulgarian Music Showcase (BG)
Scott Robson, event manager, ASM Global (UK)
Roman Samotný, director, Queer Slovakia (SK)
Marie-Christine Scheffold, senior booking agent manager, Selective Artists (DE)
Karim Siddiqui, senior booking manager, Live Nation (US)
Areti Tziorta, marketing manager, TEG Europe (UK)
João Pedro Viana, music agent, WME (UK)

Throughout the next month, IQ will be publishing full-length interviews with each person on the LGBTIQ+ List 2023.

Subscribers can read the full Pride edition now. Click here to subscribe to IQ from less than £8 a month – or see what you’re missing out on with the limited preview below.

Check out 2022’s cohort of queer pioneers here, and 2021’s cohort here.

Global Promoters Report 2022: Japan

Japan, the second-biggest music market in the world, was at a peak when the pandemic struck, with 31,889 concerts in 2019 and sales of ¥366.5bn, according to the All Japan Concert and Live Entertainment Promoters Conference (ACPC).

That year, Japan notched up 49.5m spectators, before the line on the graph plummeted in familiar fashion, and the industry has been building back since.

Domestic talent accounts for by far the larger part of the Japanese business, which has greatly scaled back its 1980s and ‘90s obsession with international artists and now stands at about 80:20. Consequently, international artists coming to Japan are frequently struck by the difference in the scale of their popularity compared to elsewhere.

“Some stadium-class acts are still arena level in Japan,” says Layli Odamura of prominent international promoter Creativeman Productions. “This makes it difficult for some acts to even consider coming to Japan, but for Japanese fans, it is just so important to have presence locally.

“We encourage artists to consider coming to Japan as part of their world tour even if the fee or the venue size may not match what they get in the rest of the world.”

“We encourage artists to consider coming to Japan as part of their world tour even if the fee or the venue size may not match what they get in the rest of the world”

The lack of a full lockdown meant that domestic shows were able to continue at a smaller scale. The international business, meanwhile, stopped dead but has come back as strong as it can in opened-up 2022, despite logistical challenges.

Japan has large numbers of domestically focused promoters – the ACPC has 68 members and 101 associate members – but relatively few specialise in international artists. Key international promoters in Japan include Hayashi International Promotions (H.I.P.), Creativeman, UDO Artists, and Fuji Rock promoter Smash Corporation, while Live Nation Japan also operates a heavy flow of shows.

H.I.P., which has been promoting overseas and domestic artists since 1981, remains one of the go-to promoters for international acts, having promoted stars including AC/DC, The Weeknd, Taylor Swift, and Bruno Mars, as well as Japanese artists and the international Ozzfest and Knotfest festival brands.

Creativeman promotes the Summer Sonic Festival in Tokyo and Osaka, which returned in August with around 40% international acts, including The 1975, Post Malone, Megan Thee Stallion, and Carly Rae Jepsen. Despite reduced capacity due to Covid precautions, 110,000 tickets were sold for Tokyo and 60,000 for Osaka.

“We had a very successful two-stadium show tour with Lady Gaga”

“Japan is still very much affected by [the] Covid situation, especially with the coming of winter,” says Odamura. “We have a large older demographic, so this is part of the reason why.”

UDO Artists retains a strong line in western legends – it has brought Deep Purple, Kiss, Jackson Browne, and Cheap Trick to Japan this year, though like many international promoters, UDO takes on plenty of domestic artists, too.

Smash’s Fuji Rock Festival took place at the Naeba Ski Resort in Yuzawa in July and was attended by 69,000 people, with a heavily mixed western-eastern line-up featuring Jack White, Vampire Weekend, YOASOBI, Halsey, Foals, and others.

Of the international corporates, Live Nation has also been working hard to strengthen its hand in Japan in recent years and has enjoyed a strong restart.

“We had a very successful two-stadium show tour with Lady Gaga,” says Live Nation Japan president Kei Ikuta, an experienced former UDO executive appointed in 2020. “The performance was incredible, and tickets sold out soon after the shows were announced. We also promoted Billie Eilish, which was another show that sold out very quickly, and it kicked off the new Ariake Arena – a premier venue made for the Tokyo Olympics.”

The 60-year-old talent agency Johnny & Associates has historically been perhaps Japan’s biggest promoter

The value of the Japanese yen against the US dollar stands at a 25-year low, notes Ikuta, resulting in heavy increases in ticket prices and heightening the challenge for incoming international acts.

“Conversely, this is an opportunity for Japanese acts to tour abroad and earn in foreign currency,” he says. “We have promoted an incredibly successful sold-out 13-date US tour with our colleagues in the US for the Japanese rock act Band-Maid and hope to replicate that success with other acts going forward.”

Of the domestic giants, the 60-year-old talent agency Johnny & Associates has historically been perhaps Japan’s biggest promoter. It specialises in boy bands, including many of the all-time biggest idol groups, such as ’90s and ’00s stars SMAP, Arashi, KAT-TUN, and KinKi Kids.

The company remains a behemoth – its current stable includes mega-selling acrobatic nine-piece Snow Man and seven-man international prospects Travis Japan – though the death of founder Johnny Kitagawa in 2019 has left the company in a transitional moment.

 


The Global Promoters Report is published in print, digitally, and all content is also available as a year-round resource on the IQ site. The Global Promoters Report includes key summaries of the major promoters working across 40+ markets, unique interviews and editorial on key trends and developments across the global live music business.

To access all content from the current Global Promoters Report, please click here.

Japan festivals return to international-heavy lineups

Japan’s marquee international festivals are heralding a return to form with lineups featuring some of the world’s biggest stars.

Summer Sonic, set to be held concurrently in Tokyo and Osaka on 19 and 20 August, recently unveiled a bill headlined by Kendrick Lamar, Blur, The Strokes, Lizzo and Foo Fighters.

Other non-domestic acts on the bill include Fall Out Boy, Blur, Niall Horan, Thundercat, Two Door Cinema Club, Wet Leg, Honne, Pale Waves, Liam Gallagher and Evanescence.

Last year, international acts accounted for just 40% of Summer Sonic’s offering due to stringent pandemic travel restrictions.

In addition, the Creativeman-promoted festivals were reduced in capacity (Tokyo to 55,000 and Osaka to 30,000) and fans were subject to a number of restrictions.

Last year, international acts accounted for just 40% of Summer Sonic’s offering due to stringent pandemic travel restrictions

The Japanese government only recently announced a relaxation of its longstanding ban on cheering at concerts and sporting events, along with a reclassification of Covid-19’s disease status.

From 8 May, coronavirus will be downgraded from class Class 2 to Class 5 – the same tier as seasonal flu – in the country, with residents told to use their own judgement when it comes to mitigation measures, including mask-wearing.

Smash Corporation has also announced a bill heavy with international artists for the 2023 edition of Fuji Rock, set for 28–30 July 2023 at Naeba Ski Resort.

The Strokes, Foo Fighters, Lizzo, Lewis Capaldi, Weezer, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Denzel Curry, Romy, Dermott Kennedy, Alanis Morrisette and Black Midi are among the overseas acts booked to perform.

So far, the festival has not announced a single Japanese act – a far cry from 2021’s all-domestic bill – and, in a nod to the lifted cheering ban, Fuji Rock’s website assures festivalgoers that this year’s event will “make you shout out that you feel great!”.

 


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Creativeman on paving Japan’s road to recovery

Creativeman’s Layli Odamura has spoken to IQ about the challenges of being an international promoter in Japan, amid some of the strictest Covid-19 measures in the world.

Last month, the leading promoter held its marquee international festival, Summer Sonic, in Tokyo and Osaka for the first time since 2019.

Though the events in both cities sold out and were deemed a “great success,” the festival was unable to return to its full glory due to ongoing and prohibitive Covid-19 restrictions.

Event capacities were reduced (Tokyo to 55,000 and Osaka to 30,000) and both artists and fans had to adhere to a number of requirements in order to attend the annual events.

International artists were required to present proof of a negative result from a pre-departure PCR test, submit personal information including vaccination history and sign a written oath in order to perform.

Of the 100 acts that appeared at Summer Sonic 2022, 40% were international – which Odamura says is “a lot less than in previous years as we are cautiously working within pandemic travel restrictions”.

Despite the stringent measures, 110,000 tickets sold for Tokyo and 60,000 tickets sold for Osaka across the two days

The 1975, Post Malone, Megan Thee Stallion, St Vincent and Carly Rae Jepsen were among the overseas artists that performed across the six stages in Tokyo and four in Osaka.

Attendees, meanwhile, had to undergo a temperature check upon entry, wear a face covering, maintain social distancing and be silent in the audience.

Despite the stringent measures, 110,000 tickets sold for Tokyo and 60,000 tickets sold for Osaka across the two days. A further 20,000 tickets were sold for Sonicmania, which is an all-night festival that ushers in Summer Sonic.

“The challenge for us as an international promoter was striving to bring the festival back to a fully recovered state just as the rest of the world already has, while still abiding by the domestic restrictions given,” says Odamura.

“We made it work though, like we always do, and we are thankful to those artists who have supported us by keeping within the given restrictions, while not compromising their incredible shows.

“And, thanks to the fans who have been eagerly and patiently waiting for the return of large-scale international festivals, Summer Sonic this year was a great success and this definitely was a big step towards financial recovery for us.”

“Summer Sonic this year was a great success and this definitely was a big step towards financial recovery for us”

Odamura says Creativeman‘s financial recovery has also been helped along by the government-backed J-LODlive subsidy, as well as mid-pandemic spin-off event Super Sonic.

With Japan’s government starting to roll back restrictions, the live industry is finally on the road to recovery – though Odamura says it may be a while before consumers regain their confidence.

“While we had a fully sold-out festival, in Japan the general public is incredibly cautious,” explains Odamura. “We are a diligent group of people and tend to stick to rules and in the hope of keeping the spread of the virus to a minimum – a lot of people are restraining themselves from going out and will carry on wearing masks as a personal choice.

“Even some who will come to shows will suppress cheering or even enjoy the show fully, somewhat holding themselves back. This may continue until Covid is beaten globally which will then impact Japan to relax more.

“Regardless, we at Creativeman are determined to bring back the live industry in Japan to the same standard as the rest of the world.”

 


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Live Nation, 88rising add to Asia festival boom

Live Nation and 88rising are the latest promoters to announce new events in Asia, buoying a festival boom on the continent.

The news comes shortly after Rolling Loud announced plans to expand its hip-hop franchise to Thailand in 2023, and Lollapalooza revealed intentions to launch in Mumbai early next year.

Live Nation’s contribution to the uptick is a one-day urban festival in Tokyo, Japan, in collaboration with the country’s leading promoter Creativeman.

Tonal Tokyo will take place at the Ariake Arena (cap. 15,000) on 29 October this year, featuring a mix of domestic and international acts.

Charli XCX, Jamie xx, Years & Years and Lany are among the artists slated to perform across the main arena and the sub arena.

“We aim to create a new-generational music festival that brings together the diverse sounds and colours of Tokyo”

“This autumn, a new urban festival will be born in our Tokyo. Tonal means ‘timbre’ or ‘colour’. We aim to create a new-generational music festival that brings together the diverse sounds and colours of Tokyo and sends them out from Tokyo to the world,” says the event’s organisers.

Tickets for Tonal Tokyo go on sale on 3 September, with general admission billed at ¥16,500 (€123) and VIP tickets going for ¥30,000 (€224).

Elsewhere, Asian-American music powerhouse 88rising is preparing to bring its US-festival Head in the Clouds to Jakarta, Indonesia, this winter.

The festival will take place at Community Park PIK2 on 3 and 4 December, featuring performances from “artists around the world” – though the line-up is yet to be announced.

Head in the Clouds Jakarta will follow the California edition on 10 and 11 August, which is co-produced with AEG Presents.

Jackson Wang, Jay Park, Rich Brian, MILLI, Chung Ha, eaJ and Bibi are among the artists slated to perform in Los Angeles.

 


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Creativeman: “We can see light at the end of the tunnel”

Japan’s leading promoter Creativeman says it is “seeing light at the end of the tunnel” as restrictions are gradually lifted.

The Japanese government recently announced plans to increase the cap on the number of people entering Japan from 3,500 to 5,000 per day starting in March.

In addition, the quarantine period for arrivals will be shortened from seven days to three from March, when the country opens to returning foreign residents (not tourists).

However, the quarantine requirement for international artists won’t be determined until next week, according to Japanese promoters’ association ACPC.

Regardless, Creativeman is bullish its marquee festival Summer Sonic will return to Tokyo and Osaka this summer for the first time since 2019 – international artists and all.

“We are confident Summer Sonic will happen this August,” says Creativeman’s Layli Odamura. “The reception at the announcement was so fantastic on every platform. Everyone is very eager and ready for it to happen and feel the heat.”

“We are confident Summer Sonic will happen this August”

The 1975 and Post Malone were recently announced as headliners of the festival, due to take place on 20–21 August simultaneously at Zozomarine Stadium & Makuhari Messe Convention Center in Chiba, a suburb of Tokyo, and at the Maishima Sonic Park in Osaka.

Other international artists lined up for the event are Carly Rae Jepsen, Kasabian, The Libertines, Maneskin, Megan Thee Stallion, One OK Rock, The Offspring, Primal Scream, St. Vincent, Yungblud, All Time Low, Beabadoobee, Easy Life, Fishbone, Kacey Musgraves, Inhaler, Kula Shaker, Rina Sawayama, Squid and the Linda Lindas.

“More and more artists are reaching out and eager to visit or revisit Japan,” maintains Odamura. “We as a promoter are ready for the live market to return and we will continue to assess the situation with the government. There will be multiple headline shows happening towards the autumn onwards too.”

Despite Japan’s strict border controls and quarantine requirements during the past two years, Creativeman has had some success in bringing overseas artists to the country.

Last September, the promoter pulled off Japan’s first large-scale music event that included overseas artists since the pandemic began, Supersonic.

Zedd, Steve Aoki, Clean Bandit, Alan Walker and Aurora were among the overseas artists that performed at the two-day event at Zozomarine Stadium.

“More and more artists are reaching out and eager to visit or revisit Japan”

The festival was considered a test case for reopening Japan’s live industry to foreign acts and, a few months later, Creativeman promoted the first headline tour of an international artist in Japan in 18 months with King Crimson.

In another win for international promoters in Japan, a Creativeman-led alliance successfully lobbied the government to amend its compensation scheme to include domestic shows by foreign artists.

The International Promoters Alliance Japan, which was officially announced last year, includes Live Nation Japan, Udo Artists, Smash Corporation, Hayashi International Promotions and Kyodo Tokyo.

The consortium, completed by Avex Entertainment, Hanshin Contents Link/Billboard Japan, M&I Company and Promax, complements the work of existing music association ACPC, with which it shares members.

The consortium’s next goal is to ease the business visa restrictions for foreign artists to enter Japan with no quarantines, which Asia-based execs say is the biggest challenge facing the market.

 


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