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Croatian biz “exceptionally strong” thanks to Euro

Croatia’s live music business has been “exceptionally strong” in 2023 so far, thanks to the country’s adoption of the Euro and an increase in international fans.

“Switching to the Euro helped in raising ticket prices and the public seems ready to follow that. Now we can come pretty close to Western European ticket prices – something that was unheard of four to five years ago,” says Mario Grdosic, managing director of Croatian independent promoter LAA.

Based in the Croatian capital of Zagreb, LAA typically promotes 50-75 shows a year with previous clients including Foo Fighters, Iron Maiden, Duran Duran, Pet Shop Boys, The xx, The Prodigy, The Cult, Whitesnake, Lorde, Slayer and King Gizzard.

“If someone told me three years ago I would sell a ticket for close to €150, I definitely wouldn’t have believed it”

LAA has held around 30 shows so far this year with “only three to four concerts underperforming,” Grdosic tells IQ.

The company’s biggest offerings in H1 were Florence + The Machine in Pula Arena, and two nights with Robbie Williams in the same venue. Grdosic says those shows are the perfect example of how switching from the Croatian Kuna (KN) to the Euro has helped business.

“I had the Foo Fighters in June 2019 in Pula Arena and our prices then were KN370–460, which was €49–62, and there were some complaints on socials that we were charging way too high,” he explains.

“This year, four years later and with prices in Euro, we had Florence and Robbie in Pula with tickets between €75–139 and nobody said a word.

“When super-fans plan to travel to see their favourite artists, they’re increasingly choosing Croatia”

“If someone told me three years ago I would sell a ticket for close to €150, I definitely wouldn’t have believed it. It was unimaginable here for the biggest shows some five to six years ago…”

And it’s not just domestic fans that are putting their hands in their pockets; Grdosic notes an increasing trend of international fans attending shows in Croatia.

“When super-fans plan to travel to see their favourite artists, they’re increasingly choosing Croatia. For the Robbie Williams shows, around 45% of ticketholders came from outside of Croatia,” he says.

“Even in Zagreb, which was never a particularly strong touristic destination, we now have club shows where 70% of tickets are from Croatia and 30% are from elsewhere. That was never the case some seven to eight years ago.”

“We’ll see if there is enough money in fans’ pockets to follow the trend into 2024/2025…”

While Grdosic is revelling in the market’s upswing, he does admit that 2023 may be an anomaly. “This is a bit of an unusual year, being the first year after Covid and the first with prices in Euros. When things do settle down a bit, I expect people to be more cautious with their money and for 2024 to be a bit less successful than this year.”

The market is also facing universal challenges such as inflation, staff shortages and over-saturation in the market. “But I’m definitely happy with how most things have sold this year,” he adds. “There’s so much stuff happening, so many choices for fans, and ticket prices are higher – it’s better than I expected it to be. We’ll see if there is enough money in fans’ pockets to follow the trend into 2024/2025…”

LAA’s upcoming shows include Tasha Sultana at Tvornica Kulture in Zagreb and two nights with Sigur Ros at Saint Michael’s Fortress in Šibenik.

 


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Croatia’s INmusic pulls 2023 edition due to inflation

INmusic, Croatia’s biggest open-air music festival, has pulled the plug on its 2023 edition due to a myriad of financial challenges.

“The ongoing repercussions of the pandemic, the war in Ukraine, inflation, and general sense of insecurity many of us feel in our everyday lives, have resulted in conditions which do not allow for a fully independent festival such as INmusic to take place,” reads a statement from the organisers.

“In the current circumstances, it is not possible to deliver the best possible international live music programme for a ticket price set in accordance to the local audience’s financial limitations,” it continues.

“[These] conditions do not allow for a fully independent festival such as INmusic to take place”

“Unwilling to give up either one of those principles which make INmusic festival what it is, and honouring your support since 2006 and attendance which enabled the festival to grow and develop with each edition, we have concluded it is best to focus our activities on securing the necessary preconditions for a stable continuity of INmusic festival in the future.”

The annual festival typically takes place across three days in June in the Croatian capital of Zagreb with an international-heavy lineup.

Last year marked INmusic’s 15th edition which was extended from three days to four and featured artists including The Killers, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Deftones, Royal Blood, IDLES and Kasabian. Details had not been announced for the 2023 instalment.

The organisers say they are hoping to hold the 16th edition in 2024 and share dates with fans in the following months.

 


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Outlook debuts pay-what-you-want ticket scheme

Bass festival brand Outlook has piloted a pay-what-you-want ticket scheme in response to the cost of living crisis.

Fans of the festival who cannot afford the full ticket price could apply for a discount between 10% and 100% by filling out an online form.

The scheme applied to both the festival’s flagship event in Croatia, as well as its new UK edition launching this year.

The organisers asked that fans “only apply if you genuinely cannot afford the current full price ticket,” which is currently £160/€188 for each event.

A limited allocation was available for each discount level (10%, 25%, 40%, 60%, 80%, 100%).

“In the current climate, we appreciate that some of our audience simply will not be able to afford full-price tickets”

“We believe in doing what we can to make music and events accessible to as many people as possible,” reads a statement from the festival.

“This year, the increased cost of living is making attending events a challenge for many people and with the launch of our inaugural year of our first UK event, hosting all of our community is more important than ever.

“As independent promoters, we are also feeling the impact of these economic challenges but believe that ensuring our audience can still come together and celebrate the music we are passionate about is crucial.

“In the current climate, we appreciate that some of our audience simply will not be able to afford full-price tickets to music events.”

The Croatia edition, which launched in 2008, will take place at The Garden in Tisno between 28 July and 2 August. Channel One, Conducta, DJ Marky, Madam X and Randall are among the festival’s headliners.

Meanwhile, Outlook Festival will debut at Cholmondeley Castle in Cheshire between 30 June and 3 July, with performances from acts including Skream, Ghetts, Sherelle, Ben UFO and Special Request.

 

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A post shared by Outlook Festival (@outlookfestival)

 


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Pollen Presents unveils four-day Croatia takeover

Music, travel and experiences start-up Pollen is launching four-day island takeover the Unruly Culture Splash Weekender in Croatia later this year.

Headlined by dancehall star Popcaan, the festival is being staged in collaboration with Team Unruly and will fuse Jamaican, African and UK music.

The four-day “feast of Caribbean culture” is billed as “the first travel getaway of its kind in Europe” and is set for Zrće beach, Pag Island from 1-5 September. Attractions include all day and night parties, such as themed pool parties, brunches and boat parties, spa and make up treatments and daily exercise classes, alongside live performances from Popcaan and special guests.

Pollen Presents has previously organised a number of artist-curated weekenders

Founded in 2014 by brothers Callum and Liam Negus-Fancey, London-headquartered Pollen runs two offerings: Pollen Presents, which curates experiences for customers across travel, music, and more; and Pollen+ which partners with promoters and music festivals to offer customers who book through its platforms perks at events.

Pollen Presents has previously organised a number of artist-curated weekenders with artists including Justin Bieber in Las Vegas, Diplo in Cabo, Kurupt FM in Amsterdam, J Balvin in Vegas and Bring Me The Horizon in Malta.

 


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Alda expands to Croatia with new office and festival

Alda, the Amsterdam-based company behind leading EDM events including AMF, New Horizons and more, is expanding to Croatia.

The Dutch promoter, which is 50% owned by Live Nation-backed Insomniac, today announced it has opened an office in the capital, Zagreb.

In addition, Alda and Insomniac have also planned a new seven-day festival in the Croatian city of Pula, on the Adriatic coast.

The event, titled Secret Project Presents Pula Music Week, will take place in and around one of Europe’s oldest amphitheatres between 30 June to 6 July.

Peggy Gou, Solomon, Disclosure, Tale Of Us, Boris Brejcha, Charlotte de Witte and Black Coffee will each host their own evening. Support acts will be announced at a later date.

“Croatia will be the epic centre for the European dance industry for the foreseeable future”

Project Presents Pula Music Week is the second new festival Alda and Insomniac have launched together, after Saga festival in Bucharest, Romania.

Allan Hardenberg, director and co-founder of ALDA, says: “In the two years that the festival world has been on hiatus, we have of course not been idle. We’ve made plans for when it could all be done again… and that’s now! Earlier this month we officially opened our office in Zagreb, Croatia will be the epic centre for the European dance industry for the foreseeable future.

“There are so many options here, especially for destination festivals. With the Pula Music Week, music lovers can enjoy not just one evening, but a week of the very best DJs in a unique location, where they are provided with everything they need.”

Alda is behind events including A State of Trance in Utrecht, New Horizons in Germany (a JV with CTS Eventim) and Amsterdam Music Festival, the Netherlands’ largest indoor music festival.

Insomniac, meanwhile, has produced more than 2,000 events since 1993, including Electric Daisy Carnivals in North America, Japan, China and Mexico, and Nocturnal Wonderland, the US’s longest-running dance music event.

 


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Long hot summer: Festivals expand for 2022

Wireless is the latest festival to announce an expanded format, ahead of what looks to be a bumper 2022 festival season.

This year, Europe’s biggest celebration of contemporary Black music will take place at three of its former sites over two weekends in July.

The Festival Republic-promoted festival will kick off on 1–3 July at London’s Crystal Palace Park, where it took place in 2021 for the first time in history.

The following weekend (8–11 July), Wireless will simultaneously take place at its traditional home of Finsbury Park in London and Birmingham’s NEC –  where it last took place in 2014.

Festival Republic today announced blockbuster headliners including A$AP Rocky (UK exclusive), J. Cole (UK exclusive), Tyler, The Creator (London exclusive), Cardi B (UK exclusive), Nicki Minaj (EU exclusive), Dave and SZA (EU exclusive).

Wireless is the latest in a long line of festivals to expand after two relatively festival-free summers.

“Adding the fourth festival day as inclusive for all previously bought three-day tickets was our way of saying thank you”

Tomorrowland (Belgium), Primavera (Spain), Mad Cool (Spain), Standon Calling (UK), InMusic (Croatia) and Summer Breeze (Germany), Rock en Seine (France), Splendour (UK) and Wonderbus Columbus (US) are among the existing festivals that have been extended for 2022.

Festival organisers have cited a number of reasons for extending their usual format including meeting pent-up demand, recouping losses, celebrating anniversaries and rewarding fan loyalty.

InMusic, Croatia’s biggest open-air music festival, added a fourth day as an all-inclusive for fans who had held onto their three-day ticket.

“Adding the fourth festival day as inclusive for all previously bought three-day tickets was our way of saying thank you for all the love and support,” says Ivana Jelaca from InMusic.

“We were moved by the messages of support we received after the pandemic hit and we were trying to figure out the best way to thank everyone for their understanding and patience.

“We choose to focus on the audiences that have been supportive and active in the years prior to the pandemic, as the two-year loss of live music content has had a huge impact on the quality of their lives.”

“People are hungry for live music and in need of a carefree festival weekend among friends”

Jelaca says that the festival’s 15th anniversary, which is delayed two years due to pandemic-related cancellations, is also cause for an extended celebration.

Alex Härtel from Silverdust, which promotes Summer Breeze in Germany, says the promoter has similar reasons for extending the festival.

“The reason is our 25th anniversary! Summer Breeze has been around since 1997 and despite three cancellations (two due to covid) we want to celebrate 25 years of existence with our loyal fans and many friends and bands from all over the world,” says Härtel.

Moreover, Härtel says the festival is capitalising on pent-up demand for live music: “People are hungry for live music and in need of a carefree festival weekend among friends,” he adds.

While each of the organisers says that their extended edition will benefit vendors, hotel properties and other entities who typically profit from the event, the added day won’t make a dent in the losses the festivals have suffered from the pandemic.

“Fans will expect more in 2022 than they accepted in 2021”

“If anything, an additional festival day generates greater expenses – programming and production-wise – and as an independent mid-sized festival with a limited capacity there are only so many tickets on sale,” explains InMusic’s Jenca.

Silverdust’s Härtel echoes that sentiment, adding: “The extended programme on the first day wouldn’t justify a big enough increase in ticket price to recoup what two years of covid did to the festival. We are doing this to create something special for the fans, the crew and everyone involved with Summer Breeze.”

It isn’t just increased demand festivals will have to meet this year but also increased expectations said AEG Presents CEO of European Festivals Jim King.

“The emergence from multiple lockdowns created a unique demand that is unlikely to repeat in the same way,” he explains.

“Fans will expect more in 2022 than they accepted in 2021. We will see an increasing upturn in expectation from fans as the year plays out and they have been to more and more shows and there will be a need for the industry to up its game to keep fans attending and buying more tickets in the later part of the year.”

 


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Mediterranean signals hope for 2020 festival summer

Despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, festivalgoers will get their chance to dance in the Mediterranean sunshine this year, with a number of festivals taking place in Greece, Malta, Croatia and on the southern coast of France

The first festival to return, Xlalala Presents-promoted Long Beach Festival 2.0 welcomed 2,000 festivalgoers over two days of performances in the northern city of Pydna from 24 to 25 July.

Although mostly seated, audience members were able to stand and still remain distant from each other at the Terra Republic festival site, which usually welcomes up to 50,000 concertgoers.

Hygiene regulations and temperature checks were in place at the festival, which featured performances from Greek acts including Stelios Dionisiou, Pyx Lax, Villagers of Ioannina City and Planet of Zeus.

Long Beach Festival will return next year with an extended, four-day programme from 4 to 8 August.

Xlalala Presents’ Athens event, Urban Athens, is set to go ahead from 7 to 8 August at Terra Vibe Park with the same line-up.

Also taking place from 7 August is GEM Festival, a four-stage, three-day event on the Greek island of Zakynthos, or Zante, with acts including Andrea Ferlin, Anushka, Paul van Dyk and Romeo Blanco.

The festival has reduced capacity at its 110,000 square-metre site and will not allow camping. Guests will be temperature tested on entry, with those showing signs of a high temperature being tested for Covid-19. Everyone entering the festival’s VIP area will also be tested.

Tickets for the festival are priced at €30 for a one-day pass and €170 for a full ticket, with VIP passes costing €1,250.

Festivals are also making an appearance this summer in France, with the Panda Events- and Allover-promoted Les Croisières Électroniques (Electronic Cruises) taking place in Cannes Bay from 2 to 9 and 23 to 30 August.

Despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, festivalgoers will get their chance to dance in the Mediterranean sunshine this year

The cataraman-based event will see up to 100 music fans a time board from Cannes Bay and Lerins Island for a day of music, dancing and water sports.

Tickets start from €70, with VIP options also available.

Family Piknik festival, postponed from July, is another event entertaining French music fans, bringing two days of live music to the grounds of Montpellier Airport, with sets from Charlotte de Witte, La Fleur, Rodriguez Jr, Tom Pooks and Mind Against.

With a limited capacity of 5,000, the event is taking place on 12 September. Tickets, €40 regular and €100 for a backstage pass, are available here.

Across the Mediterranean, the island state of Malta is also preparing to welcome back festivalgoers, with BPM Festival Malta (Fatboy Slim, Amelie Lens, Maceo Plex), Escape 2 the Island festival (AJ Tracey, Fredo, Aitch), Rhythm and Waves festival (Chase and Status, Shy FX, Wilkinson) and Mi Casa festival (Gorgon City, Hannah Wants, Sonny Fodera) all open to international revellers at the end of August and throughout September.

A fifth Maltese festival, Back.In the Future, has been called off due to “lower than expected ticket sales”. The event, due to take place at open-air venues Gianpula Village and Uno Malta from 29 to 30 August, was to feature acts including Chase and Status, DJ EZ and Wiley.

Ticketholders will receive an automatic refund and will also be offered complimentary guestlist entry to Escape 2 the Island and/or Rhythm and Waves festivals, as well as a €50 drinks credit.

Croatia, normally a hotspot of summer festival activity, is far quieter this year as authorities introduce stringent social distancing restrictions. Mainstays including Dimensions, Ultra Europe, Outlook, Sonus and Hideout are among those forced to cancel this year’s edition.

Some are still forging ahead, however. BSH Island festival, set to take place at the Noa Beach Club from 7 to 12 July, was forced to scrap its original format just a week prior to the event, downsizing from 5,000 capacity to 900 for an alternative, socially distanced festival.

Trance and progressive festival Awake is also going ahead in a socially distanced manner. With a reduced capacity of 1,000, Awake will host acts including Cosmic Gate, Paul Thomas and Paul van Dyk from 20 to 23 August on Zcre beach.

Tickets for Awake, including hotel, villa and apartment packages, are available here. Day tickets start from €40 and four-day passes priced at €152.

 


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

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How we kept our distance at BSH Island

Due to the recent epidemiological measures in Croatia, we were forced to postpone the premiere of BSH Island festival to July 2021. As unfortunate as that was, we decided to react and adapt and save this summer in whatever way we could.

We came up with an alternative event – Keep the Distance – which hosted guests from around the world and abided by all necessary health-and-safety measures.

The most significant measure we were forced to take was to cap the number of patrons in Noa Beach Club at 900, and a little over 800 people attended in total. In addition to capacity restrictions, the club was reorganised to increase social distance between patrons.

On top of that, we created an entry and exit protocol that was mandatory for all patrons, which included disinfection, the distribution of protective masks to encourage responsible behaviour, and logging temperatures and personal information for track-and-trace purposes.

Having to downsize from 5,000 capacity to just 900 left us with an operational nightmare

The peculiar specifics of the measures – which were introduced just one week before the now-postponed festival – were the biggest challenge we’ve faced so far, as having to downsize from a 4–5,000 capacity to just 900 left us with an operational nightmare.

Nonetheless, we are grateful for Keep the Distance happening and are thankful for everyone that came out.

We are already deep into planning for BSH Island Festival 2021 with numerous international partners, and will be announcing the first release of the line-up, along with the exact dates, soon.

Besides beautiful Noa Beach Club, we will be adding some extras that will make BSH Island unique in many ways. We can’t wait to reveal it all to you.

 


Drago Vukelic is CEO of BSH Events and founder of BSH Island festival.

Malta to host trio of festivals this summer

The southern European island state of Malta is preparing to welcome festivalgoers over the next few months, as it gets set to become one of the only European countries to host large-scale music events this summer.

With one of the lowest rates of Covid-19 in Europe, Malta is lifting lockdown measures – including all international travel restrictions – on 15 July. It is one of 60 countries included in a list of “travel corridors” with the UK, meaning those travelling between the two countries will not need to self-isolate on arrival.

Escape 2 the Island, organised by UK-based promoter Bass Jam, will see artists including Aitch, AJ Tracey, Fredo and Charlie Sloth perform at the Malta Fairs and Convention Centre (MFCC), an indoor and outdoor events venue in the town of Attard, from 28 to 30 August.

The festival is organised in conjunction with the Malta Tourism Authority and Visit Malta. Tickets for the event went on sale on Friday (3 July), priced from €99 for general admission and €129 for VIP.

From 4 to 6 September, Rhythm and Waves festival will take place at outdoor events arena Gianpula Village, with performances from Andy C, Chase and Status, Netsky, Subfocus, Shy FX and Wilkinson.

The southern European island state of Malta is preparing to welcome thousands of festivalgoers over the next few months

Tickets are priced from €119 for general admission and €149 for VIP and can be bought here.

Global dance music brand BPM is holding its inaugural Maltese edition from 11 to 13 September at open-air club Uno Malta.

The line-up for the festival, which has previously taken place in Mexico, Portugal, Israel and Costa Rica, is yet to be announced. Fans can register for pre-sale tickets and further information here.

The fate of events in fellow Mediterranean festival hotspot, Croatia, is hanging in the balance this year, after authorities banned events from taking place on Zrće beach on the island of Pag last week, leading to the cancellation of BSH Events’ BSH Island festival. It had previously been believed that clubs and events on the beach would reopen this week.

Pag is typically home to Hideout, Sonus, Zrce Spring Break Europe and Austria Goes Zrce festivals.

Neighbouring Serbia will host Exit Festival in August, with acts including Amelie Lens, Maceo Plex and Nina Kraviz performing to a 50% capacity crowd at the Petrovaradin fortress in Novi Sad.

 


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Croatian beach festival to go ahead in July

Pag, the Croatian island home to the Hideout and Sonus festivals, will host a new electronic music festival in the second week of July.

Zagred-based promoter BSH Events hopes to attract around 4,000 guests to the debut BSH Island festival, which will take place at the waterfront Noa Beach Club from Thursday 7 to Sunday 12 July. The festival – which has been given the green light by local health authorities – will feature a dance-focused line-up headlined by Richy Ahmed, Paco Osuna, Honey Dijon and Artbat.

According to BSH, which has been organising parties in Croatia since 2013, the festival will comply with all “epidemiological measures necessary”. Both Sonus and Superstruct’s Hideout were cancelled earlier this year as the coronavirus crisis escalated.

Most clubs on Pag’s Zrce beach will reopen in the first week of July, while Noa opened its doors earlier this month.

The festival will comply with all “epidemiological measures necessary”

Tea Cafuta, speaking on behalf of the Zrce beach clubs, tells Hrturizam.hr the venues “have a detailed plan of compliance” with anti-Covid-19 measures that include limiting the number of people allowed in key ‘zones’ inside the clubs, temperature checking patrons, and installing disinfectants and sanitisers throughout.

At press time, BSH Island had sold more than 1,500 tickets, mostly to locals, although they are also proving popular with Dutch and Belgian tourists, according to BSH Events’ Drago Vukelic. Tickets are priced at HRK 250 (€33) for regular passes and HRK 550 (€73) for VIP tickets.

As of last week, Croatia had closed its borders to a number of its Balkan neighbours to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, though tourists from many countries are being welcomed in a bid to kickstart the country’s tourism-dependent entertainment sector.

 


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