Danish music industry reports 3bn loss in 2020
Denmark’s music industry lost over 3 billion krone (€403m) in revenue in 2020.
That’s according to a new report commissioned by live music association Dansk Live and the Danish Chamber of Commerce along with others.
The Danish Music Sales report uncovers that in 2020, the entire industry – including live and recorded – experienced a decline in revenue of up to 35% due to Covid-19 restrictions.
This makes music one of the hardest-hit industries in Denmark.
The concert sector has been particularly hard hit with a 52% drop in revenue compared to 2019.
For concert and festival organisers, closures and restrictions have had a devastating effect on ticket sales – which fell by 65% in 2020 compared with 2019.
At Danish venues, ticket sales fell by 51% compared with the previous year, while festivals lost as much as 97% of their ticket sales.
“The low ticket turnover clearly shows that 2020 was in many ways a year of horror for Danish music. Of course, it greatly affects the organisers, but it has spread rings to the rest of the music scene – including artists, songwriters and producers,” says Esben Marcher, head of secretariat at Dansk Live.
“The low ticket turnover clearly shows that 2020 was in many ways a year of horror for Danish music”
Mikkel Xavier, booker and head of development for Smukfest, says: “These are disappointing numbers, but of course not surprising. At the same time, we look forward to the end of 2021, where we, especially as festival organisers, do not expect better numbers. Unresolved help package applications, pressured suppliers and declining interest in working with the technical part of the festival industry, challenge broadly.”
The report warns that closures and restrictions have had major consequences for local venues and festivals, and it will take time and support to get them back to pre-pandemic levels of operation.
The Danish Chamber of Commerce is subsequently calling for help for the industry from the government’s so-called ‘war fund’.
“The Danish music industry is characterised by being a cohesive ecosystem, where fluctuations in one part of the industry are also felt in other parts of the industry,” says Brian Mikkelsen, CEO of Dansk Erhverv, the Danish Chamber of Commerce.
“We do not yet know the full extent of the consequences for the music industry, but it is quite clear that especially festivals and the entire live part, including not least the music export, have suffered tremendously during closures and restrictions.
“Therefore, there is a need to focus on a good restart, and here some of the funds in the government’s so-called ‘war fund’ should be prioritised for the music industry. This has consequences for both exports in the area and for the entire food chain, and it is important that the damage does not become greater than it needs to be.”
The report, also in collaboration IFPI, Koda, MXD, Gramex, Musikforlæggerne and Rambøll, can be viewed here.
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Denmark drops all Covid-19 restrictions for live music
Denmark’s live industry is on the road to recovery after the government yesterday (1 September) dropped all remaining Covid-19 restrictions.
The requirements that have now lapsed include Corona pass requirements for indoor cultural and sporting events with more than 500 standing spectators, and for outdoor cultural and sporting events with more than 2,000 seated spectators. Social distancing has also been scrapped.
Corona passes will be required to gain entry to nightclubs until 10 September, after which point the government will no longer categorise Covid-19 as a “socially critical disease” or legally impose any Covid-19 restrictions.
“It is gratifying that restrictions are a thing of the past for the country’s concert organisers,” says Esben Marcher of Dansk Live – Denmark’s live music association.
“Now that corona is no longer considered a socially critical disease, we are facing a time of great reconstruction work. The organisers must find a foothold after almost two years of complete or partial closure and this is where our focus will be in the coming time.”
“The organisers must find a foothold after almost two years of complete or partial closure”
Minister for culture, Ane Halsboe Jørgensen, adds: “I am simply so happy that the cultural and sports life today can more or less say goodbye to the corona. For a long time, great demands have been made on culture to keep track of the pandemic.
“It has been necessary, but I am very pleased that we can now seriously begin a new chapter with a hopefully really good autumn for our cultural life.”
Denmark is the EU’s third-most vaccinated country, according to Our World in Data, with 71% of the population having received two shots.
The country was one of Europe’s first to impose a partial lockdown in March 2020 and one of the earliest to begin reopening, launching its Corona pass on 21 April this year.
Since that date, Dnanish restaurants, bars, cinemas, gyms, sports stadiums and hairdressing salons have been open for anyone who can prove that they are fully vaccinated, have a negative test result less than 72 hours old or contracted Covid within the past two to 12 weeks.
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Live Nation, Roskilde and more plan test project
A number of major players in Denmark’s live music industry are organising a test project to gather knowledge and evidence on how major events can take place safely during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The partners behind the project include Live Nation Denmark, Dansk Live (Denmark’s live music association) and major Danish festivals such as Roskilde, NorthSide, Tinderbox and Smukfest, as well as organisations outside of the sector.
The project, dubbed Safe 2.0, will take place in late summer and autumn with an aim to find out:
- How spectators’ health data can be safely and smoothly handled.
- The quality of the rapid test and its ability to limit the spread of infection.
- The most effective way to detect infection at major events.
- How to efficiently and safely execute larger events.
All attendees were required to show proof of a negative antigen test in order to gain entry to the 3F Superliga competitions, organised by the Divisional Association.
“The hope was initially that we could secure knowledge that could ensure a faster reopening for the benefit of festivals”
Organisers say Safe 2.0 will implement Denmark’s vaccine passport (Coronapas) as soon as it becomes available in autumn.
“Safe was originally developed together with the Divisional Association in the autumn of 2020, but we are now at version 2.0 of the project, where the focus is on cultural activities,” says Dansk Live’s Esben Marcher.
“The hope was initially that we could secure knowledge that could ensure a faster reopening for the benefit of festivals and venues. Even if it did not succeed, we are happy to be able to start the project now and secure knowledge that can prove crucial in the future.”
Safe 2.0 comes too late for the raft of festivals that were called off in May due to government restrictions.
Roskilde (26 June to 3 July), Smukfest (4–8 August), Northside (3–5 June), Tinderbox (24–26 June), Beautiful Party (4–8 August), Jelling Festival (20–23 May), Copenhell (16–19 June) and Heartland (27–29 May) were cancelled this year.
Vig Festival (8–10 July), Thy Rock (25–26 June), Nibe Festival (30 June to 3 July), Ringsted Festival (5–7 August), Langelandsfestival (18–25 July), Radio ABC Beach Party (17 July) and Kløften Festival (24–26 June) were also called off.
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Nordic test shows: Too little, too late?
After effectively ruling out the 2021 festival season, the governments in Denmark and Norway are now in the process of organising large-scale test events to determine how big gatherings can take place during the pandemic.
According to Denmark’s live association, Dansk Live, such experiments were proposed in December 2020 and also in March 2021 by the government-backed ‘Restart Team’.
Both proposals were “kicked to the corner by the authorities,” according to Dansk Live’s Esben Marcher, but it seems that Denmark’s minister of culture has had a late change of heart.
This week, minister Joy Mogensen asked the government’s Restart Team to assess the possibilities of conducting experiments with large events this summer.
The minister’s request comes three weeks after the government’s roadmap was published, which stated that a maximum of 2,000 participants will be permitted at festivals between 21 May and 1 August 2021.
The announcement was followed by a raft of cancellations from 15+ festivals including Roskilde (26 June to 3 July), Smukfest (4–8 August), Northside (3–5 June) and Tinderbox (24–26 June) – rendering the country’s 2021 festival season over.
“The hope was that knowledge could be created that could ensure better opportunities for this summer’s events”
While Dansk Live’s Marcher has welcomed the news of potential test concerts, he also expresses disappointment that large-scale pilots weren’t approved earlier in the year.
“Already at the end of 2020, we proposed to the minister of culture that experiments be carried out in events that bring many people together,” he says.
“The hope was that knowledge could be created that could ensure better opportunities for this summer’s events. Although it is positive that there now seems to be support for making trial arrangements, it is, of course, a pity that there has been no political will to launch trials in the past.”
The Norwegian government has also shown little political will to organise test concerts up to this point – though, after some uncertainty, this morning the cabinet finally approved a pilot series proposed by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.
The institute is planning five test concerts in Bergen and Oslo with up to 5,000 people attending each one. As previously reported in IQ, 15,000 participants will be recruited for a control group and will not actually attend the concerts.
The series is expected to kick off in June and concerts will take place in a number of venues including Oslo Spektrum and Grieg Hall in Bergen.
The Nowegian government this morning approved a pilot series proposed by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health
The research project will investigate whether the risk of the spread of infection is reduced to such an extent that rapid testing can replace the distance requirement during events.
Bergen Live, Øya festival, Palmesus and other Norwegian concert organisers will be involved in the test events – many of which were forced to cancel festivals due to the government’s preliminary guidelines, which restrict festivals to 2,000 attendees until June, 5,000 attendees until August and 10,000 thereafter.
Live Nation-owned festivals Bergenfest and Tons of Rock, Superstruct-backed Øya Festival, Over Oslo, Picnic in the Park, Stavernfetsivalen, Seljord Festival and Country Festival among events have been cancelled since.
Compared with other countries in the northern hemisphere, Norway and Denmark have been slow off the mark with arranging test shows.
Germany began conducting test shows as far back as August 2020, with Restart-19, prompting other nations including Spain, France, the Netherlands, the UK, Belgium and Luxembourg, to follow suit. See an extensive timeline of pilot projects here.
While the test shows haven’t necessarily guaranteed the security of the 2021 festival season – many of the aforementioned markets have already seen the summer season obliterated due to government restrictions – nations like the UK are surging towards a full reopening thanks to reassuring results from the government’s Events Research Programme.
No answers for festivals in Denmark’s reopening plan
Festival organisers in Denmark are still in the dark about whether their events will be able to take place this summer after the government published a reopening plan which fails to provide concrete answers about large events.
While the phased reopening plan marks 6 May as the day that live music should be able to return to indoor venues, there’s no such detail for festival organisers.
In the plan, the government has simply said it will set up a ‘fast-working expert group’ which will co-operate with the relevant authorities to deliver suggestions on how major gatherings and events can be held, by mid-April.
The organisers of major festivals in Denmark, Roskilde Festival and Smukfest, told DR that, while the government has not explicitly given festivals a green light in the reopening plan, they will assume their events can still go ahead until told otherwise.
“Although it does not say anything about the possibility of large events, we can not see it as anything other than an expression that there is still a belief that it is possible to hold a festival this summer,” says Roskilde Festival’s CEO, Signe Lopdrup. “If not, I assume we would have been told it would not be possible. So we will continue the planning with renewed intensity – otherwise, time simply runs away from us.”
Smukfest spokesman, Søren Eskildsen, also told DR: “We are disappointed that we are not mentioned in the reopening agreement, but that means that we can not do anything other than what we have been asked. And that is to continue our planning work.”
“We will continue the planning with renewed intensity – otherwise, time simply runs away from us”
Eskildsen has called for festivals to be involved in the so-called ‘fast-working expert group’ – which he says should’ve happened months ago.
Conversely, the Danish government has already assembled a ‘restart team’, including Roskilde Group as well as Denmark’s live music association, Dansk Live, which recently submitted a catalogue of recommendations on the reopening of the cultural and sports sectors. The catalogue was submitted to the ministry of culture for approval.
The government also announced a DKK 500 million (€67.2m) safety net, intended to allow organisers to plan for the summer, but Eskildsen says festivals need to know ‘the exact conditions for how we can continue our planning responsibly’.
According to the Smukfest rep, festivals are expecting a final decision on this year’s festival season around two weeks from now but Dansk Live’s Esben Marcher believes that it will come too late for many organisers.
“The first festivals are at the end of May, and it takes five to seven weeks to build a festival on a full scale. And hopefully one should not end up getting ready for a festival, which will then be cancelled. It’s all, all too late, unfortunately. We just have to say that,” says Marcher.
“I still believe that there can easily be festivals. It can just end up in a situation where the festivals are so challenged in planning time and staffing of volunteers that it becomes very difficult to make it a success.”
Danish gov unveils DKK 500m safety net for events
The Danish government has announced a DKK 500 million (€67.2m) safety net for festivals and major events, allowing organisers to plan for this summer without the financial risk posed by a potential Covid outbreak.
The safety net will cover organisers of recurring events with at least 350 participants (such as music festivals, super league matches, conferences and markets), as well as events that were planned before 6 March 2020, but will not include new events created during the pandemic.
The scheme is a ‘continuation and simplification’ of the existing organiser scheme and will cover eligible events between 1 May and 30 September 2021 in the event that the Covid-19 situation results in the cancellation, postponement or significant changes to an event.
The full agreement, which must be approved by the European Commission, includes a ‘compensation ladder’ which provides organisers with an estimation of what they can expect to receive in compensation and deliver on to suppliers.
“Festival organisers can continue to plan with peace of mind”
In addition to the safety net, the agreement also includes an emergency pool of DKK 30m for bankruptcy-threatened large charitable music festivals, which each year distribute their profits to charitable causes.
“We all hope for a summer where the infection situation allows us to gather for festivals again,” says minister for culture, Joy Mogensen. “Until then, the festival organisers can continue to plan soundly with peace of mind. With the agreement, we ensure that festivals will be compensated if they have to cancel due to restrictions.”
Esben Marcher, head of Denmark’s live music association, Dansk Live, says: “It is positive that there is now a financial safety net for the festivals, so that the organisers can complete the preparation of this summer’s festivals. We will, of course, follow the implementation of the agreement closely. However, we still need clarification on whether there will be restrictions this summer, and which scenarios we must plan based on.”
Last week, Denmark’s ‘restart team’ submitted a catalogue of recommendations on the reopening of the cultural and sports sectors to the ministry of culture for government approval.
Denmark is the latest market to announce an event cancellation fund, taking note from Germany’s €2.5bn pot, Austria’s €300m ‘protective umbrella’, the Netherlands’ €300m fund, Belgium’s €60m festival cancellation pot and Norway’s €34m festival safety net.
Denmark’s restart team submits recommendations
Denmark’s ‘restart team’ has submitted a catalogue of recommendations on the reopening of the cultural and sports sectors to the ministry of culture for government approval.
The ten-person team, which was assembled by the government in autumn 2020, has met with more than 80 key stakeholders across the two sectors to determine how the government should allocate the 50 million DKK it previously earmarked for the restart.
The restart team has made the following recommendations for the government:
- Form an advisory expert group composed of members of the culture and sports, which will maintain dialogue between the sector, authorities and the government, and assist in the preparation of a fact-based long-term and differentiated opening plan.
- Launch a nationwide campaign effort, immediately after reopening of the entire cultural and sports life, to celebrate the restart of the sectors. The team has recommended that the government arranges a nationwide festival, and sets aside 2m DKK, for this purpose.
- Back the implementation of SAFE (SARSCoV-2 Antigen testing of Fans before Events in Denmark), which is a large-scale study of Covid-19 antigen testing of the public prior to matches in the 3F Superliga. This is costed at 5m DKK.
- Create an ‘innovation laboratory’, bolstered by 6m DKK, which will develop new digital formats, technologies and initiatives for parts of each sector that have difficulty reopening ie crowd management solutions for live music events.
- Collect data to understand citizens’ concerns, considerations and motivations in relation to cultural and sports life in the wake of Covid-19 and make the information publicly available so the sectors can make informed choices of how to restart. Half a million has been suggested for this recommendation.
- Set aside 36.5m DKK for the development and testing of new formats for culture and sports, which will enable a safe return.
“It is crucial that we get as much momentum as possible in culture and sports under the conditions we live in right now”
The team has also made a number of recommendations that require a longer-term effort and/or funding that is outside the allocated 50m DKK.
The team – which includes Esben Marcher (Dansk Live), Signe Lopdrup (Roskilde Festival Group) and Sara Indrio (Danish Artist Association) from the music sector – has outlined the financial loss event organisers have experienced due to the pandemic, and the risks that lie ahead with the reopening.
The team has recommended the following solutions:
• Compensation schemes and other support that must ensure that organisers in culture and sports can receive financial coverage for losses during a reopening.
• Risk capital, possibly in the form of a loss guarantee or government-backed insurance for organisers in case they are forced to cancel their events.
• Ongoing compensation for those who have to wait longer to open.
Joy Mogensen, Denmark’s minister for culture, says: “It is crucial that we get as much momentum as possible in culture and sports under the conditions we live in right now.”
Dansk Live’s Marcher says: “We have gone for broad, embracing proposals that can benefit all actors, which of course means that recommendations are not necessarily directly aimed at live organisers. However, I think it is positive that the SAFE project on testing quick tests is included in recommendations, just as it is positive that there is a focus on pushing for innovation in culture and sports.”
Roskilde Festival Group’s Lopdrup, who is deputy chairman of the restart team, says: “Cultural and sports life has been hit hard by closure and restrictions. In our work, we have encountered a sector that, on the one hand, fights hard for survival and, on the other hand, does everything possible to come up with proposals for solutions and the development of formats that can pave the way for those cultures and sports experiences we all lack so much.
“Our recommendations certainly do not solve all the challenges, but I hope they can help inspire and open up new opportunities for the players and thus pave the way for the reopening of cultural and sports life, so we can meet about the community-creating experiences again.”
European markets seek clarity on festival season
Major European festival markets are urgently seeking clarity on the viability of this year’s summer season in a race against the clock.
In Switzerland, promoters’ association SMPA has released a statement, co-signed by 26 of the country’s festivals, calling for clarity on the conditions under which Swiss festivals can be held regularly and at full capacity without social distancing.
The appeal also relays three key requirements for the restart of Swiss festivals: a transparent strategy and uniform conditions for holding events safely, a continual review of measures to ensure they are proportionate to the risks posed, and an event cancellation fund that covers 100% of losses.
“2021 is not 2020, the statement reads. “There are better treatment options, testing options are constantly evolving, and vaccinations are ongoing. In combination with the expected lower case numbers in the summer months, this creates a different starting position for the summer of 2021. The task now is to find a strategy for summer 2021.”
“2021 is not 2020. There are better treatment options, testing options are constantly evolving, and vaccinations are ongoing”
The statement has been co-signed by festivals including OpenAir St Gallen (cap. 30,000), which is part of the majority CTS Eventim-owned wepromote, SummerDays (12,000), and Seaside Festival (10,000) – all of which were cancelled last year after the Swiss government outlawed live events until the end of summer 2020.
In Denmark, festival organisers have been given a glimmer of hope after the government announced the spring arrival of a vaccine passport, but are still seeking the security needed in order to plan for the summer.
Acting minister of finance, Morten Bødskov, announced in a press conference on Wednesday (3 February) that digital Coronavirus passports will be ready for use in three to four months but will initially apply only to travel.
According to Bødskov, whether the digital passport can be used to go to a concert or a festival is a political discussion that will be decided by the infection situation.
The Danish live industry is cautiously optimistic about the news and have called for a roadmap for reopening to allow organisers to plan for the summer.
“[The vaccine passport] can be crucial in ensuring that we can quickly reopen venues and hold festivals this summer”
“The corona passport is an important tool that can be crucial in reopening the live industry,” says Esben Marcher, head of Dansk Live. “It is positive that a digital corona passport is now being established. It can be crucial in ensuring that we can quickly reopen venues and hold festivals when the summer comes.”
“Time is, of course, a significant challenge right now, and in organiser optics, three to four months is a very long time. The infection is currently fairly under control and the vaccine plan is being rolled out. Therefore, it should now be time to reconsider the plan for reopening. It will allow the country’s many organisers to plan for the future. ”
Danish festivals organisers say the ongoing uncertainty about whether the festival summer is to go ahead is keeping them in a stalemate situation.
“There are quite a few deals we do not close so as not to commit too much financially. Otherwise, we can have problems if the health authorities believe that we can not hold the festival,” Nicklas Lundorf, Langelandsfestival told Berlingske.
Lundorf revealed that the organisers are still planning to hold the festival until told otherwise.
“When are we going to throw ourselves in at the last minute and close the agreements that are crucial?”
“It’s something we go and discuss internally. When do we have a cut-off date? When are we going to throw ourselves in at the last minute and close the agreements that are crucial in order to get the festival off the ground?” he says.
Vaccine passports have been gaining traction across Europe, with Poland becoming the latest concert market to confirm it will issue its citizens with a vaccine passport when they have been immunised against Covid-19.
Elsewhere in Europe, Portugal is examining whether ‘safe bubbles’ of vaccinated festivalgoers could be the key to keeping fans and artists safe this summer, French festival operators ‘have 11 days to save festivals’, and the UK festival sector is waiting with bated breath for the prime minister to reveal a roadmap on the 22 February.
The lessons that can be learned from 2020’s lost festival summer will be discussed at ILMC during Festival Forum: Reboot & Reset, while leading festivals operators will be discussing the evolving passions, priorities and unique features of their events in Festival Futures: Core Priorities.
Danish gov assembles restart team, outlines tasks
Denmark’s Ministry of Culture has assembled the previously announced ‘restart team’ for culture and sports and outlined the main objectives the team must meet.
The ten-person team, which includes Dansk Live’s Esben Marcher, has been tasked with identifying the scope and nature of the current challenges facing culture and sports, and to develop new event formats and identify innovative initiatives that could be safely implemented in the spring.
The restart team will be required to focus on pilot schemes, methods for compliance with Covid guidelines, and new event formats – especially for the Superliga (Danish football league) model – that could help attendees gather in a safe way.
The government has allocated DKK 50 million to develop and test the initiatives recommended by the team, including the recently approved test events, organised by Dansk Live and the Divisional [Football] Association, which will be rolled out in a few months.
“It is very positive that we can start to look beyond firefighting and think of concrete solutions”
The team – which will also incorporate experiences and best-practice solutions from external experts – will submit a catalogue of ideas and recommendations to the Ministry of Culture for approval and successful initiatives will be implemented in early 2021.
“2020 has been a tough year for the live industry, which has been hit hard by shutdowns, restrictions and an uncertain future. It is therefore very positive that we can start to look beyond firefighting and think of concrete solutions,” says Dansk Live’s Esben Marcher.
Festivals is also on the list of priorities for the restart team and Marcher previously said she hopes the test events will lead to ‘a much-needed festival summer and many good concert experiences throughout the country in 2021’.
The news will come as a relief to the festival sector which recently banded together to pen an open letter outlining the consequences for the major festivals, concerts and events if the 2021 season is also cancelled.
Danish live industry to hold series of test events
Denmark’s live music association, Dansk Live, has been granted permission to hold a series of test events utilising rapid testing to find out whether large-scale events can safely take place without social distancing.
Organised in conjunction with the Divisional [Football] Association, the three-part series will trial the efficacy of rapid testing at a football match, a concert/conference, and a festival.
The football model is the first to be trialled and will take place during a series of non-socially distanced 3F Superliga matches this year, testing 30,000 participants.
Attendees will be tested with both an antigen test (rapid test) and a PCR test (laboratory test). Entry will depend on a negative result. A PCR test is followed up six days after the match day to determine the efficacy of rapid testing and the minimised distance.
Organisers say the concert/conference model will take place indoors but will otherwise be identical to the football model while the festival model will focus on ‘simulating situations with participants who are moving among each other’. Steps two and three will await the results of step one and more details on each will be revealed at a later date.
Esben Marcher, Dansk Live, hopes these test events may pave the way for increased capacity at festivals and venues this year: “We have worked hard for a long time to create a solid basis for the implementation of the Danish festivals and concerts in 2021. We are completely convinced that we, together with the Divisional Association, have found a viable model. Therefore, we are very happy to have received scientific support so that we can continue our plans and complete the project. It should very much lead to a much-needed festival summer and many good concert experiences throughout the country in 2021.”
“This should very much lead to a much-needed festival summer and many good concert experiences throughout the country in 2021”
Lars Ramme Nielsen, head of tourism and experience economics at the Danish Chamber of Commerce, says: “If our study shows the intended effect, it will benefit across many cultural and experience industries, including major sporting events, concert, theatre and festival activities as well as conferences and seminars. At the same time, it will help to spread the testing in Denmark to people who might not otherwise have been tested – especially people without symptoms.”
Professor and chief physician at the Department of Infectious Diseases at Aarhus University Hospital, Lars Østergaard, who is a contributor to the project, says: “If the events we are setting up in a number of stadiums turn out to be justifiable, then you have a basis to work from.”
A similar government-backed test series, dubbed ‘Back to Live’, is due to take place in the Netherlands this month, following on from last year’s pilot events in Germany and Spain.
Germany’s Restart-19 found that live shows could take place safely under “specific conditions during a pandemic” and Spain’s PRIMACOV trial found that a live music concert performed under a series of safety measures is ‘not associated with an increase in Covid-19 infections’.