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‘We take pride in hosting international talent’

Rock for People is retaining its four-day format and international focus after unveiling Bring Me The Horizon as its first headliner for 2024.

Promoted by Ameba Production, the 40,000-cap Czech Republic festival will return to Park 360 in Hradec Králové from 12-15 June. It expanded from three to four days last year when returning from its pandemic-enforced hiatus.

“Fans come first with us, so when they let us know that they wanted Bring Me The Horizon the most, we did everything we could to make sure they got their wish,” says festival director Michal Thomes. “Booking bands is not a simple thing at all, a lot of circumstances have to come together correctly, such as the band is touring that year, it suits the date and so on. So I am very happy that we managed to do it.”

Three headliners are still to be announced, while other acts confirmed so far include Avril Lavigne, Corey Taylor, Parkway Drive, Pendulum and Keanu Reeves’ band, Dogstar. Four-day tickets start at €156.

“Seeing Dogstar perform with the stellar Keanu Reeves on bass is a dream come true for me,” adds Thomes. “We tried to invite the band back in the 90s, but it didn’t work out and the band was not active for almost 20 years. We are even more happy that it finally happened.”

Founded in 1995, the festival featured in IQ Magazine‘s recent list of ten of Europe’s brightest independent gatherings. Its 2023 line-up starred the likes of Slipknot, Muse, Architects, Machine Gun Kelly, The 1975, Papa Roach, Billy Talent and Nothing But Thieves.

“We take pride in hosting more international talents than local acts, setting us apart from other Czech festivals”

“We take pride in hosting more international talents than local acts, setting us apart from other Czech festivals,” said booker David Nguyen. “Our event emerged as a charitable festival in the quaint town of Český Brod. Its inaugural edition garnered an unexpected attendance of 1,100 visitors, catalysing the journey that lay ahead.

“The resounding success of this modest beginning propelled Ameba Production to elevate the festival into a full-time pursuit, ultimately establishing it as one of the foremost festivals in the Czech Republic. Notably, the event’s evolution prompted a pivotal relocation to the former military airport in Hradec Králové in 2007, a decision that was driven by its burgeoning popularity.

Nguyen acknowledged the increased complications for independent promoters around rising production costs and “skyrocketing” booking fees, in addition to some artists choosing to work exclusively with multinationals, but also noted the benefits of staying indie.

“Remaining an independent entity offers us the freedom to execute our creative vision without constraints, enabling us to curate a unique and authentic experience for our attendees,” he said.

Ed Sheeran will also perform a standalone show at Park 360 on 27 July next year, staged by Ameba Production in conjunction with FKP Scorpio, as part of the Rock for People Concerts series. Tickets, which will include the Park 360 Fan Zone, located in the immediate vicinity, are priced 1,990-2,990 CZK (€81-122).

“I am very happy that we can organise a concert of such a personality and unique musician as Ed Sheeran. The fact that he has chosen Park 360 for his show in the Czech Republic, which is also home to our Rock for People festival, is a huge honour and a milestone for us,” adds Thomes. “It’s proof for us that we are really pushing ourselves every year and our venue can compete with the world’s great arenas.”

 


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Metronome Prague adds rap stage for 2023 edition

Metronome Prague this year will feature a rap stage showcasing domestic and international talent from the hip-hop, grime and trap genres.

J.I.D (US), Kelvyn Colt (DE) and Frosti (PL) are among the international rappers that will perform on the new stage at the Czech Republic festival.

J.I.D’s performance will mark the first time an American artist has appeared on the main stage of Metronome Prague, which has so far spawned five editions.

J.I.D’s performance will mark the first time an American artist has performed on the main stage of Metronome Prague

The sixth edition of the festival will also see Czech artists such as Supercrooo, PSH live band, Sawsane, LU2 Vinyl Flexer, Annet X, Baby G, Gesto Booth, Pio Squad, DJ Doemixxx and DJ Noir join the female-heavy lineup for the rap stage.

They join previously confirmed artists Jamiroquai, M83, Moderat, ZAZ, Tove Lo, Aurora, Editors, Biig Piig and White Lies, who will perform at the festival between 22–24 June.

Taking place once again at the Prague Exhibition Grounds, the 2023 edition will comprise 80 concerts, taking place across four outdoor stages and three indoor stages.

Adult tickets for Metronome Prague currently start from €96 for a one-day ticket and €135 for a three-day ticket.

 


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10:15 Entertainment founder Milena Palečková dies

Milena Palečková, head of Czech entertainment agency 10:15, passed away on Saturday 7 January aged 55.

Palečková founded the 10:15 Entertainment agency in 2008, which followed on from the oldest private agency in the Czech Republic operating in the field of large concert productions, 10:15 Promotion.

10:15 Promotion staged the first concerts of Bob Dylan, Sinead O’Connor, Sex Pistols, Oasis, John Cale, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds or The Velvet Underground in the free post-1989 country.

Palečková was known for focusing not on the quantity but rather on the quality of artists she promoted

The company also promoted the JAM festivals at Prague’s Džbán camp with acts including Iggy Pop, Björk, Bryan Adams, Sinead O’Connor and Erasure.

Palečková was known for focusing not on the quantity but rather on the quality of artists she promoted, many of whom she developed long-term relationships.

Last year, her agency brought Patti Smith, Einstürzende Neubauten, Nick Mason from Pink Floyd and The Toy Dolls to the Czech Republic.

In the past, she promoted the local premiere of Gorillaz, concerts of Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, Leonard Cohen, Diana Krall, Suzanne Vega, Marianne Faithfull and the Harlem Gospel Choir.

 


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Festival Focus: More huge names confirmed for ’23

Another spate of European festivals have announced headliners and main stage artists for their 2023 editions.

Dutch festival Pinkpop has confirmed that British pop star Robbie Williams will return to Landgraaf for the first time since 2015.

He will close out Saturday night at the festival – which is said to be “the oldest and longest-running annual dedicated pop and rock music festival in the world” – while P!nk will top the bill on the Friday night. English indie rock band Editors and Dutch electronic band Goldband are also on the 2023 bill.

The 52nd edition of Pinkpop, promoted by Live Nation-owned Mojo Concerts, will take place between 16–18 June, next year.

Williams is also set to perform at the UK’s Isle of Wight festival, alongside Pulp, George Ezra and Chemical Brothers. Sugarbabes, Sophie Ellis Bextor, Anne-Marie, Gabrielle, Blondie and Ella Henderson have also been confirmed for the event, which runs between 15–18 June in Seaclose Park, Newport.

The festival is promoted by Solo Agency’s John Giddings and Live Nation.

Lowlands: “The oldest and longest-running annual dedicated pop and rock music festival in the world”

Elsewhere in the UK, DF Concert’s TRNSMT festival will see Pulp, George Ezra, Niall Horan, Sam Fender, Kasabian, The 1975 and Royal Blood perform at Glasgow Green in Scotland between 7–9 July next year.

Further South in the UK, Latitude will bring Pulp, Paulo Nutini, George Ezra, The Kooks, Metronomy to Henham Park, Suffolk, between 20–23 July.

In Poland, promoter Alter Art has announced Arctic Monkeys for the 2023 edition of Open’er, slated for 28 June to 1 July at Gdynia-Kosakowo in Gdynia. The English rockstars will close the Orange Main Stage on the Friday night, in support of their new album The Car.

And in neighbouring Czech Republic, Colours of Ostrava have confirmed US pop rock band One Republic as the first headliner for next year’s instalment, set for 19–22 July at Dolní Vítkovice in Ostrava.

 


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The New Bosses 2022: David Nguyen, Rock for People

The 15th edition of IQ Magazine’s New Bosses was published in IQ 114 this month, revealing 20 of the most promising 30-and-unders in the international live music business.

To get to know this year’s cohort a little better, IQ conducted interviews with each one of 2022’s New Bosses, discovering their greatest inspirations and pinpointing the reasons for their success.

Catch up on the previous New Bosses 2022 interview with Dan Rais, brand partnerships agent at CAA. The series continues with David Nguyen, booker at Rock for People in the Czech Republic.

David Nguyen is second-generation Vietnamese, living in the Czech Republic where he was raised in the spa town of Jáchymov, where Marie Curie discovered the uranium for which she won the Nobel prize.

In 2010, high schooler Nguyen wanted to see The Prodigy, Billy Talent, Alexisonfire, and Skindred at Rock for People festival, and to have enough money to buy beer, so he launched an ambassador project for the fans to get a free festival pass. The fateful festival led him to a work opportunity for social media agency Social Visage and renowned music magazine Rock & Pop, where he reached the position of online editor-in-chief.

At Rock for People, he gradually became one of the main bookers, and with his contribution, the festival sold-out this year for the first time since 1995. Nguyen also manages Prague-based indie band I Love You Honey Bunny and books talent for Nouvelle Prague showcase festival, Prague Summer Festival, and Rock for People Concerts shows in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

 


Does your background in journalism and social media help with any aspects of your festival work?
The knowledge from my previous jobs helped me a lot with my booking career. All these previous experiences, plus the possibility to tour with a band made me a more complex person, and thanks to this I can see things from a different perspective.

As a talent booker for a number of events, what is your process for trying to discover the next big act? (are there any showcase events/radio stations that you prefer, for example)?
It’s a little mix of everything, but I believe that nothing will beat the personal recommendation from the agents that I’ve been working closely with. Or sometimes you are just lucky because you found a great band opening for a bigger act or hidden somewhere at a showcase festival. My goal is actually not to discover the next big act, I prefer working with so-called baby bands on a long-term basis and grow with them step by step. Starting with the best possible slot at the festival and a follow-up with a headline show is the best scenario for every new band in the market.

If you could offer the 20-year-old David one piece of advice, what would it be?
Buy a lot of bitcoins and sell them eight years later? (ha-ha) Tell my younger self to be patient with whatever he is dealing with in life and try to solve everything with a calm mind.

“I prefer working with so-called baby bands on a long-term basis and grow with them step by step”

You are also the manager of a band – I Love You Honey Bunny. What has been the biggest challenge for them as they try to restart their live career in the post-covid ‘new normal?
The band was close to signing a label and then covid came and stopped our plans. Thinking back, so many things happened in these past two years – livestream concerts, drive-in cinema concerts, virtual concert in a computer game (Rock for People In the Game), first Covid-free live shows, recording new songs in Amsterdam, and an attempt to finish the album in Brighton, which thanks to Brexit-related complications the producer flew to Prague instead. We did not expect the song Yellow & Blue to be still relevant eight years after it was written. Hopefully, the war in Ukraine will end soon.

As a new boss, what one thing would you change to make the live entertainment industry a better place?
We need to improve our interpersonal relationships. During Covid, everyone was saying that we are in this together and now it’s back to what it was before Covid and sometimes even worse. The entertainment industry is still struggling, the war in Ukraine is affecting our lives, and everyone is trying to make all the money they lost in the past two years, as fast as they can. This is not the sustainable way, we need to be more open and honest here. And it’s not only between us and the agents/management… all the suppliers shouldn’t take advantage of this and make inflation an excuse to make everything more expensive when they are still paying the same to their staff.

What has been the highlight of your career, so far?
When I Love You Honey Bunny got a chance to play at the Envol Et Macadam festival in Quebec. We DIY-booked our first tour ever with a sleeping at Walmart parking lot experience and surviving on eating poutine and Vietnamese baguettes. The Canadian tour connected us and showed us that this is really what we want to do in our lives, and also that the card you are using for payments in Europe is actually not a credit card, and you can’t rent a car with it.

“We need to improve our interpersonal relationships”

Which three acts would be on your ideal festival line-up?
Hard question… that’s worse than asking me what I am going to eat, because I spend hours choosing my food. Billy Talent is one of my oldest favourite bands, so definitely them. I love the guys from Missio, who took the risk and flew from the US to the Covid-safe version of Rock for People last year. Leoniden from Germany is one of the best live bands that I know, and they can handle drinking Slivovitz with their promoter, so they must be on the bill!

What one thing would you like artists to learn about coming to perform in the Czech Republic?
The Czech Republic is beautiful and has places other than just Prague. I understand that some bands are flying in and driving an hour or two so they think they are still in the capital city but shouting “Hey, Prague!” in a different city is disrespectful.

Also, never take money from Euronet ATMs, which give rip-off exchange rates, and that we have a different currency than in Budapest where they played the day before. HUF20,000 (€50) is not like CZK20,000 (€800), or with a bad Euronet rate it’s even €1000+… you can’t even drink that much beer in an evening!

 


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The New Bosses: Introducing the class of 2022

The 15th edition of IQ Magazine‘s New Bosses can now be revealed, highlighting 20 of the most promising 30-and-unders in the international live music business.

New Bosses 2022 inspired the most engaged voting process to date, with hundreds of people taking the time to submit nominations. The final 20 comprises executives working across agencies, promoters, ticketing companies, charities and venues in 12 different countries.

In no particular order, the New Bosses 2022 are:

Benji Fritzenschaft, DreamHaus (DE).
Clara Cullen, Music Venue Trust (UK).
Dan Rais, CAA (CO).
David Nguyen, Rock The People (CZ).
Daytona Häusermann, Gadget ABC (CH).
Grant Hall, ASM Global (US).
James Craigie, Goldenvoice (UK).
Kathryn Dryburgh, ATC Live (UK).
Resi Scheurmann, Konzertbüro Schoneberg (DE).
Seny Kassaye, Fort Agency (CA).
Agustina Cabo, Move Concerts (AR).
Sönke Schal, Karsten Janke Konzertdirektion (DE).
Steel Hanf, Proxy Agency (US).
Steff James, Live Nation (UK).
Stella Scocco, Södra Teatern (SE).
Vegard Storaas, Live Nation (NO).
Lewis Wilde, DICE (UK).
Zoe Williamson, UTA (US).
Jonathan Hou, Live Nation (US).
Maciej Korczak, Follow The Step (PL).

Subscribers can read shortened profiles of each of the 2022 New Bosses in issue 114 of IQ Magazine, which is out now. Full-length Q&As will appear on IQ in the coming days and weeks.

Click here to subscribe to IQ for just £7.99 a month – or check out what you’re missing out on with the limited preview below:

 


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European arenas battle soaring energy costs

A number of European arenas have told IQ that skyrocketing energy costs are emerging as the sector’s biggest challenge since the Covid-19 pandemic.

Though many arenas are experiencing a boom time thanks to pent-up demand and rescheduled shows, venue heads are reckoning with the ballooning cost of electricity and gas amid wider inflation.

“We are facing massive price increases across all our markets, at unprecedented levels,” ASM Global’s Marie Lindqvist tells IQ. “The market is incredibly volatile and continues to increase.”

According to Lindqvist, the prices for electricity and gas at ASM venues have quadrupled since the beginning of the year, with the UK being hit the hardest.

And it’s not just the country’s larger venues that are struggling; Music Venue Trust estimates that the grassroots music venue sector is looking at a potential £90 million in new energy-related costs, equating to 26% of the entire gross turnover.

On average, the annual cost of energy per venue is set to increase by 316%, according to the charity for grassroots music venues in the UK.

“[Rising energy prices] is probably our number one challenge right now,” Lindqvist continues. “However, the cost base, in general, is a huge challenge with pressure in all key cost lines such as labour cost inflation, event costs, food costs etc.”

“We are facing massive price increases across all our markets, at unprecedented levels”

In Estonia, inflation has risen by 22% in the last year, which is particularly felt in labour and administration costs. Siim Ammon, CEO of Saku Arena (10,000) in the capital Tallinn, says gas prices are now five times higher than at the same time last year.

“This means we are forced to find alternatives or a way to lessen consumption,” Ammon tells IQ. “Sadly, this is going to hit our promoters as well.”

Lindqvist is also weary of how increasing cost pressures could impact ASM’s guests and partners and says the company is trying incredibly hard to minimise the knock-on effect.

“The actions that we have in place will ensure that we are doing all that we can to do this,” she says. “We are also in constant dialogue with our partners to try to minimise show costs, in particular energy requirements for a show.”

In the Czech Republic, it has been reported that the inflation rate (which accelerated to approximately 17.5% in July) is having an impact on consumers’ ticket-buying behaviour.

“The overall rise in prices of services, energy, food, etc. in the country has made people more sensitive to buying entertainment and pickier about which concert to go to,” says Stanislava Doubravova from the O2 Arena, the country’s key venue for international acts.

“[Rising energy prices] is probably our number one challenge right now”

AEG-owned Barclays Arena (formerly the Barclaycard Arena) in Hamburg, Germany, is among the venues that have reported a “huge” increase in energy costs. In a bid to curb prices, the 15,000-capacity arena is exploring the use of alternative sources, such as wind power and solar energy.

“Since its construction in 2009, the Barclays Arena has a greywater recycling system on the roof that collects rainwater for the sanitary system,” says VP and MD Steve Schwenkglenks, adding that the venue is reducing waste and increasing recycling across its food and beverage offers.

“We have stopped ‘All you can eat’ offers in our premium boxes, because a lot of food had to be thrown away. This doesn’t mean that every one of our lodge partners won’t get enough to eat, it’s just that we are trying to dispose of as little food as possible. At the end of 2022, we will introduce a deposit cup system in the arena.”

Much like Barclays Arena, Poland’s Spodek Arena (cap. 11,000) is attempting to bridle the energy price hike through eco-friendly solutions.

“Sadly, this is going to hit our promoters as well”

“We have introduced a system to manage and optimise the use of electricity, heat, and water; installed a smart heating and ventilation management system at the ICC, and we have also implemented special processes for monitoring the use of lighting,” says Marcin Stolarz, CEO of the Katowice-based arena.

ASM is also leaning on technology to help monitor and reduce its carbon footprint and costs. “We are able to view our consumption in real-time so track usage every day with a view to becoming as efficient as we can be,” says Lindqvist.

“We are also further investing in new technology and working closely with Greener Arena and other experts in the field to continue to move forwards in this space. Finally, we are recruiting a head of sustainability whose sole role will be to support our business to achieve our carbon reduction targets and to support our venues to be as green as they can be.”

Read more about the opportunities and challenges facing arenas worldwide in IQ Magazine‘s Global Arena Guide 2022, published this September.

The Guide features over 250 interviews from arena professionals worldwide, as well as a comprehensive global directory.

 


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United Festival Force: ‘Banding together keeps us independent’

Some of the festival organisers behind the newly formed United Festival Force (UFF) have told IQ about the benefits of banding together.

The alliance, announced earlier this month, comprises seven European metal festivals including Alcatraz (cap. 15,000) in Belgium, Bloodstock (20,000) in the UK and Brutal Assault (20,000) in the Czech Republic.

Dynamo Metalfest (10,5000) in the Netherlands, Leyendas del Rock (18,000) in Spain, Motocultor festival (14,000) in France and Summer Breeze (45,000) in Germany are also part of the group.

The group came together after their joint virtual event, in August 2020, to raise money for the independent festival sector.

“The project helped us to battle the challenging Covid times. We joined our fanbases who supported us by buying a ticket for the event,” says Tomas Fiala from Obscure Promotion, which promotes Brutal Assault (CZ).

“We’re able to show interest by offering a larger number of possible festival appearances”

Roman Hilser from Silverdust, which promotes Summer Breeze, says that joining forces has helped each one of the festivals stay independent. “Together we are stronger,” he adds.

Even as the pandemic recedes, the festivals want to continue the spirit of independence, says Fiala: “The future is finally looking bright so there will be more interesting opportunities for our collaboration.”

Hilser says that one of the top benefits of operating under one umbrella is being able to make bigger and better offers to agents.

“We’re able to show interest by offering a larger number of possible festival appearances to create reasonable routing and advanced touring plans for artists,” he says. “We can also offer help to fill vacant show days before respective festival dates.”

“This will certainly be of advantage for overseas bands, especially US bands,” he continues. “We can act faster and earlier to ensure the required number of show dates, which naturally add further income through fees for the artists.”

“The passion that lies within all our festivals will be strong enough to build future headliners”

Another key objective for the United Festival Force is developing local and underground acts by providing them with slots across the European metal festivals.

“We believe in the importance of developing underground bands,” says Hilser. “The passion that lies within all our festivals will be strong enough to build future headliners. That’s what we are aiming for.”

But on a basic level, the festival organisers are hoping to exchange experiences and learn from both the similarities and differences with their events.

“Of course, we can’t always find a common ground in perspectives since we each have slightly different fan bases and dramaturgy – and the local business environment also comes into play,” says Fiala.

“What’s interesting is that these distinctions can be enriching moments in which we can learn from the approaches and attitudes of others.”

 


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European metal festivals form alliance

Some of the biggest and best-known metal festivals in Europe have formed an alliance to ensure that the members can “continue to offer their fans excellent line ups”.

The United Festival Force comprises seven festivals including Alcatraz (cap. 15,000) in Belgium, Bloodstock (20,000) in the UK, Brutal Assault (20,000) in the Czech Republic and Dynamo Metalfest (10,5000) in the Netherlands.

Leyendas del Rock (18,000) in Spain, Motocultor festival (14,000) in France and Summer Breeze (45,000) in Germany are also part of the alliance.

Bloodstock festival director Adam Gregory tells IQ that the members initially gelled during the pandemic when they joined forces on a virtual fundraiser event.

“We don’t look at each other as competition – we very much try to support each other”

“We were able to talk a lot more [during the pandemic] and provide something together that, individually, we would have probably struggled with. But using the resources of all the festivals, we were able to deliver an online event that was second to none. We don’t look at each other as competition – we very much try to support each other as much as we can.”

Emerging from the pandemic, the alliance says its main goal is to “make scheduling easier for bands as well as agents – no routing scheduling conflicts between these festivals and other arrangements”.

“We all have festivals all over Europe across two or three weekends in August so we wanted to have a bit of unity,” explains Gregory. “It means we can send combined offers to artists so they’ve got the opportunity to earn a bit more and reach a wider audience, across Europe.”

The United Festival Force members plan to meet every six months to share their visions.

 


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Metronome Prague announces 2021 ‘warm-up’ festival

Ahead of its full-scale return in 2022, Czech festival Metronome Prague has announced Metronome Prague Warm Up, a limited-capacity three-day event featuring several foreign artists, for September.

Taking place at Prague’s Výstaviště exhibition ground, the site of the previous four Metronome festivals, Metronome Prague Warm Up will mark the return of international live music to the Czech Republic before the “real comeback” for music festivals next year, says festival producer David Gaydečka. “We’re overjoyed that despite postponing Metronome Prague, we can invite fans to an exceptional musical event taking place this year,” he comments. “It may seem like a small miracle, but we continue to be optimistic and we’re working on a range of improvised musical events, the most important of which for us is September’s Metronome Prague Warm Up. It will be a huge party where we are able to secure to great acts from abroad.”

Among the acts confirmed for Metronome Prague Warm Up, which will have a capacity of up to 2,500 people a day, are the UK’s Morcheeba (pictured), German house producer Hosh and Berlin-based British DJ Bec, who will perform in the Czech Republic for the first time, as well as a host of local talent.

“We were able to put together a unique programme including confirmed acts from abroad that will bring the atmosphere we’ve become accustomed to at Metronome Prague,” says the festival’s booker, Barbora Šubrtová, who also put together the line-ups for previous Metronome Pragues.

“We’re overjoyed that despite postponing Metronome Prague, we can invite fans to an exceptional musical event”

Commenting on the line-up, Šubrtová says: “Morcheeba probably needs no introduction, but I would recall their amazing concert at Metronome Prague 2019, which was among the highlights of that year’s edition.”

She adds: “Fans of electronic music can look forward to producer Hosh, known from Solomun’s label Dyinamic, as well as formerly UK- and Berlin-based DJ Bec, who has experienced a meteoric rise recently. I think if you really want to dance or just enjoy some music, you’ll find what you’re looking for at Metronome Prague Warm Up.”

Metronome last took place in 2019, with a planned fifth edition replaced by a one-off socially distanced event produced in partnership with other Prague festivals, Praha září (Prague September), at the end of last summer.

Tickets for Metronome Prague Warm Up are priced at 1,200 Kč (€47) for a three-day pass. Organisers emphasise that they will be refunded if the festival is cancelled, though they are confident it will go ahead.

 


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