UK festivals Barn On The Farm, Splendour cancelled
Two of the UK’s best-loved independent festivals, Barn On The Farm and Splendour, have been called off for 2024.
Splendour in Nottingham has been axed due to delays over tendering, according to promoter DHP Family.
DHP said it was told by the city council in May it needed to bid to continue running the 16-year-old event at Wollaton Park but “numerous delays” during the process meant it was now too late to stage Splendour this year.
George Akins, DHP’s managing director, said: “It has been a hugely frustrating time for us. Splendour could have gone ahead had the council heeded our warnings about the timescales required. 2023’s headliners were contracted more than a year in advance and everyone was aware of this.”
Akins said he was “well aware” of the city council’s current financial difficulties, but “some of these delays” pre-dated the announcement that the authority was effectively bankrupt.
He added: “We don’t believe it should have had any effect whatsoever. I would also say that Splendour is a significant income generator, not a cost, for the council.
The council responded: “We said last year that under the council’s new commercial strategy, the event fell into a category where a formal tender process was needed. This was to protect the authority legally, financially and to ensure the festival was achieving best value for the council and the residents of Nottingham.
“The procurement process is complex and has taken longer than we would have liked – this has made the viability of delivering a festival in 2024 very difficult.”
The council said it was “optimistic” that Splendour could return to its longtime home in 2025.
“Barn On The Farm’s recent announcement is a further warning sign of the difficult conditions facing independent festivals”
Barn on the Farm organisers yesterday (25 January) announced that the Gloucester festival – which has booked the likes of Ed Sheeran, Bombay Bicycle Club and Sigrid in its 14-year history – would be postponed until 2025 due to “financial difficulties”.
“As you know we’ve been openly vocal about the difficulties that we, alongside many other festivals, have faced over the last year,” reads a statement from the organisers. “So rather than rush into another season of planning and be on the rocks financially, we feel it’s better for us to use our time this year to focus on planning 2025 and making a huge comeback.”
Barn On The Farm 2025 will take place on 3–6 July at Over Farm, with tickets going on sale soon. Full refunds for the 2024 edition will be available until the end of the year.
“As you know the future of independent festivals [is] uncertain but my god do we need them for new music to survive,” the statement continues. “We hugely appreciate every single one of you who supports us moving forwards.”
John Rostron, Association Of Independent Festivals (AIF) CEO, commented: “Barn On The Farm’s recent announcement is a further warning sign of the difficult conditions facing independent festivals at the moment.
“Festivals are being squeezed by the rise in supply chain costs, and the effects of closures and debt incurred during COVID, meaning they are in a unique, perilous position that threatens the future of almost all but the very biggest operators in the UK.”
Rostron continued: “We again call on the government to expedite a lower VAT rate of 5% on ticket sales for the next three years to create the space for festivals to make it through this severe situation and back to the growth we all enjoyed in outdoor events prior to the pandemic.”
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DHP Family’s festival raises £89k for the homeless
DHP Family’s charity festival Beat the Streets raised £89,500 for the homeless population in Nottingham, England.
The award-winning festival takes place in January across multiple venues in the city, where the UK independent venue operator is based. The money raised this year surpassed the £76,000 ($95,000) raised last year.
Since launching in 2018, Beat The Streets has raised more than £400,000 ($500,000) for Framework, the charity that supports the homeless population of Nottingham, and has directly benefitted more than 300 individuals.
This year’s funds will go towards the creation of eight self-contained flats for people who have been on the streets for more than 20 years.
The accommodation will provide rough sleepers with permanent housing combined with a program of unlimited person-centred support towards independence.
They will also be able to access Framework’s other services dedicated to drug, alcohol, mental health, and employment support, and more.
“We hope to continue to use our expertise as music promoters and festival organisers to make a difference”
This year’s Beat The Streets lineup featured Ferocious Dog, 7th In Line, Alt Blk Era, Jerub, Lacey, Palm Reader, The Publics, Victory Lap, and many more.
“As a Nottingham-based company, it means a lot to all of us that work here to continue to deliver a fantastic Beat the Streets festival each January as we know how vital the funds are to Framework and the people they support across the city,” adds DHP Family’s MD George Akins.
“We hope to continue to use our expertise as music promoters and festival organisers to make a difference. We are extremely grateful to all the artists who give their time to play and each and every person that bought a ticket as together, we are helping to support something very worthwhile.”
Beat The Streets is delivered by DHP Family in collaboration with local organisations and music groups including I’m Not from London, Farmyard Records, Hockley Hustle and Rough Trade.
DHP promotes national tours and concerts, operates music venues, organises festivals and manages artists.
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DHP Family back on form after pandemic struggles
DHP Family MD George Akins tells IQ the company is exploring fresh opportunities in the venue market after business returned to pre-pandemic levels.
The independent UK venue operator and promoter racked up estimated turnover of £31-32 million (€35-36m) for 2022 –in line with its previous best year of 2017 and well up on the Covid-hit years of 2020 and 2021, when revenues hit £9m and £21m, respectively.
The Nottingham-headquartered firm attributes much of the upswing to the strong performance of its native venues, including Bodega and the legendary Rock City.
“The venue business has come back strong, especially the club nights, and the shows are coming through,” says Akins. “I’ve got a tour rescheduled from the pandemic all the way to July next year, so it’s still backed up, but we’re able to find avails now.
“Sales are good regionally. London was really tough up until very recently – it was under selling – and Manchester was ahead of it a lot of the time, but London has has recovered now and we’ve started to see shows selling what they should be. Generally, I think there’s been a hangover of work from home that affected London considerably, but a lot more people are back in the office now and people are going out again. It’s definitely more vibrant.”
“We’re looking at venue opportunities. We’re not in a mad hurry, but we’ve identified something we like the look of”
Other DHP venues include London’s Oslo, The Grace and The Garage, the latter of which turns 30 this year, Bristol’s Thekla and Nottingham’s Rescue Rooms and Stealth. But further additions could be on the cards.
“We’re looking at venue opportunities,” confirms Akins. “We’re not in a mad hurry, but we’ve identified something we like the look of and we hope to do something this year. If that comes off then that will be interesting, but we’ll grow on solid foundations like we’ve always done. We’re not firing out 10 venues in a year just because we want to grow, we want to last 40 to 50 years and want everything we do to have longevity in.
“We believe in building blocks and that might take longer than if you’re working for a venture capitalist or for someone who’s put their money in and wants [quick] results. We don’t need to do that. We’re an independent family business; we don’t have any debt and our reputation has survived through these trying times.
“Being independent is tough when the finances are tough, but we’re in a fortunate position because we have good assets, good building blocks, and everything we do has incredible grounding. We made money through the pandemic and hit the ground running when we came out of it.”
“There are always concerns about how you can raise ticket prices when people have so many bills to pay”
Nevertheless, Akins acknowledges concerns over the knock-on effect of the cost of living crisis on the live business.
“There are recession fears on the horizon, of course, and there are always concerns about how you can raise ticket prices when people have so many bills to pay,” he says. “But inflation is ridiculous for artists – the cost of running PAs, lights and production has gone up so much and the effects of that have to transfer through to ticket price.
“Most venues are adding energy uplifts for their hires, so it’s been incredibly worrying to see how much more we’re going to have to charge for tickets. The hot tickets will always sell but you’ve got to be careful with the acts that tour annually – if you’ve seen them last year you might not want to see them next year and save some money – but we’ll have to see how that transpires.
“The slowdown is not apparent at the moment, but there’s a bit of trepidation and I think there’s going to be a real slowdown in buying tickets at some point this year.”
DHP bought into 15,000-cap alternative independent festival Bearded Theory in early 2022 and work in partnership with festival founders Richard Bryan and Stephen Blount on the event, which returns to Catton Hall, Derbyshire from 25-28 May with headliners Interpol and Primal Scream.
“We’d wanted a camping festival for some time and we were excited to get involved”
“We’d wanted a camping festival for some time and we were excited to get involved,” says Akins. “We’ve booked two-thirds of the lineup for this year now and have announced our first bunch of headliners, and it’s looking great. I’m really excited about that.”
DHP’s festival portfolio also includes multi-city new music festival Dot To Dot and 25,000-cap Nottingham festival Splendour, which reverted from one to two days in 2022 for the first time since its 2008 debut, with the two-day format set to stay.
Meanwhile, its charity festival Beat the Streets, set up in response to the growing number of rough sleepers, has donated £320,000 to housing association Framework since launching in 2018 and was honoured at last year’s UK Festival Awards. Beat the Streets returns to multiple venues in Nottingham on 29 January.
Elsewhere, the firm has upcoming tours with The Flaming Lips, Dropkick Murphys, Belle & Sebastian, Belinda Carlisle and Electric Callboy, among others, and has been busy nurturing a new crop of promoters.
“You’ve got Ben Ryles, who is based in Manchester and is booking Bearded Theory and is also promoting nationally,” adds Akins. “You’ve got Conrad [Rogan], Scott [Kennedy] and Josh [Ward] developing their rosters down in London, and then Anton [Lockwood] and me, the old stalwarts, doing what we do. It feels like we’re back to where we were and it’s exciting.”
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DHP Family buys into Bearded Theory
Multi-faceted UK promoter and venue operator DHP Family has linked up with alternative independent music festival Bearded Theory’s Spring Gathering.
DHP, which runs Nottingham’s famed Rock City venue, will work in partnership with festival founders Richard Bryan and Stephen Blount on the event.
As a venue owner, festival organiser and national live promoter, Bearded Theory will complement DHP’s existing portfolio, which includes family festival Splendour and new music festival Dot To Dot.
“This is an exciting venture between two iconic music names that are a natural fit in terms of music heritage,” says DHP Family MD George Akins. “Richard and the Bearded Theory team have done a fantastic job with the festival, and we’re delighted to be continuing the story together over the coming years.”
Anton Lockwood, DHP’s director of live, adds: “We’re excited Bearded Theory is joining DHP Family. As the UK’s biggest national independent promoter, we value the ethos and spirit of the festival and respect its history. From within our great team, we will bring our knowledge, expertise and industry contacts to the festival.”
“Our festival future is secure, which is great news for all”
Situated on the borders of Derbyshire, Staffordshire and the West Midlands, Bearded Theory returns from 26-29 May for its first edition since 2019. Topping the bill will be Flaming Lips, Patti Smith and Placebo, with other acts including Working Men’s Club, Nova Twins and Do Nothing.
Bryan and Blount will continue to be at the forefront of the festival’s delivery.
“We’re excited to be working with the team behind Rock City as this is without a doubt a great cultural fit for both parties,” says Bryan. “We have been looking at ways to improve the event without it losing its ethos, ethics and identity and to gain the support needed for it to continue to blossom, we are delighted to have found the answer with the Midlands favourite music family.”
Blount adds: “Our festival future is secure, which is great news for all of us involved behind the scenes and the many thousands of our loyal fans who return year after year.”
Friday round-up: World news in brief 10/12/21
Welcome to IQ‘s weekly round-up of news from around the world. Here, in bite-sized chunks, we present a selection of international stories you may have missed from the last seven days…
Slipknot are expanding their festival footprint by taking their Knotfest brand to Germany. The 25,000-cap. Knotfest Germany will debut in and around Rudolf Weber-Arena in Oberhausen on 30 July, 2022. Headlined by Slipknot, the Live Nation-promoted event will feature 10 bands in total, including In Flames and Ghostemane. Brazil and Chile editions are also planned for next year.
In his first interview since the Astroworld tragedy, Travis Scott has said he did not realise that fans were hurt during his performance at the Live Nation-promoted festival. Ten people, aged between nine and 27, died following a crowd crush during Scott’s headline set at the 50,000-cap. NRG Park in Houston, Texas on 5 November. The US rapper has been criticised for not ending his show earlier. “I stopped a couple of times… at the end of the day you just hear music,” he told Breakfast Club presenter Charlamagne Tha God.
Korea’s first ever metaverse gig, the K-Vibe Concert, was staged by the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism and the Korea Tourism Organisation on 8 December. Hosted by Asia’s largest metaverse platform Zepeto, the XR show featured acts from the first to the fourth generation of K-pop, including BoA, SHINee’s Key, Aespa, DJ Raiden, Brave Girls, Mommy Son, and Wonstein. The concert also brought together various other aspects of the Korean Wave, from dance to dramas, beauty and webtoons.
Organisers of Elements Festival are facing a class action lawsuit following the event’s ill-fated 2021 edition, which took place in Lakewood, Pennsylvania from 3-6 September. The electronic music festival fell victim to inclement weather precipitated by Hurricane Ida. EDM.com now reports that three claimants allege promoters failed to “properly organise, prepare, and provide ticket purchasers and attendees of the Elements Festival 2021 with the experience defendants extensively promoted and marketed as being a safe, packaged, multi-day camping and music festival”.
After confirming Los Angeles and Chile spin-offs, Spain’s Primavera Sound has now announced Brazil and Argentina legs for 2022. Primavera’s first Brazil event will be held in Sao Paolo from 31 October to November 6, while its inaugural Argentina festival will take place in Buenos Aires from 7-13 November.
Metallica will livestream their 40th anniversary concerts from San Francisco’s Chase Center on 17 and 19 December. The sets will air on Amazon Music and Prime before becoming available to watch on The Coda Collection/Prime Video Channel.
Scotland music convention Wide Days is returning to Edinburgh as a physical event from 19-21 May 2022, with a conference, one-to-one meetings and live performances. It will also feature a range of informal networking opportunities including guided tours, whisky tasting and exotic soft-drink sampling. As part of the convention, Wide Days will showcase the six emerging Scottish acts, selected for the international talent development programme, presented in partnership with PRS Foundation, which is open to musicians, producers and DJs of any genre who apply via a free application process (deadline 13 January). Tickets for Wide Days are on sale now at a special early bird rate.
Madison Square Garden Entertainment has announced that it will be taking its custom camera technology – being developed for its MSG Sphere venue – to space. The company has received a research award from the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space to leverage the International Space Station (ISS) US National Laboratory to develop and test its ultra-high fidelity, ultra-high-resolution camera system. MSG Entertainment is planning to conduct three missions over the next several years, with the goal of developing a custom MSG Sphere camera system capable of capturing the Earth at a level of detail never before possible.
More than 200 guests attended The Blue Moon Gala at the new Outernet London to celebrate UNICEF’s 75th anniversary. The star-studded, special event, which featured performances from Duran Duran and Arlo Parks, raised £770,000 to help UNICEF continue its work for children around the world. A major new immersive media, music and culture district in London’s West End, Outernet fully opens in 2022, with details to be announced in the new year.
Billie Eilish was virtually honoured with the German Sustainability Award by astronaut Matthias Maurer (ESA), who was on board the international space station ISS. Singers Joss Stone and Chris de Burgh also received the honorary award at the ceremony in Düsseldorf, which recognises ideas for the future and top achievements in sustainability in the fields of business, research and communities.
UK promoter and venue operator DHP Family has announced two key promotions within the marketing team as it continues its commitment to nurture and develop talent within the company. Anwyn Williams has been promoted to head of marketing, while Matt Newton steps up to become marketing manager.
ASM Global has appointed David Feeley as general manager of the Target Center in Minneapolis. An industry veteran with more than 23 years of experience in event and facility operations, Feeley joins ASM Global following a lengthy stint as an operations executive with MGM Resorts.
London-based online platform GigRealm, which provides an end-to-end solution for organising live music performances, has announced a wide-ranging new partnership with The F-List for Music. Founded by former BASCA CEO Vick Bain, the F-List is the first directory of its kind to feature up-to-date information on UK-based female musicians, songwriters and composers. The new partnership will see GigRealm and The F-List team up to create pathways and opportunities for female musicians in the live music space.
Spend, no-shows and demand all up in UK, say promoters
Leading promoters in the UK live industry say they’re experiencing mixed fortunes following the full reopening in England on 19 July.
As the sector launches into recovery mode, executives are reporting high levels of pent-up demand for many shows.
Denis Desmond, chairman of Live Nation UK and Ireland, says: “Artists, promoters, production and marketing teams are champing at the bit and ready to meet the demands.
“Thankfully our festivals happened, and we were very pleased with sales which proves that the demand for live music is still going strong. Now we’re moving into touring season and we have a busy schedule lined up for the rest of the year and into 2022.”
As the live sector prepares for what looks to be its busiest year ever from 1 January, promoters say the UK’s next challenge will be keeping up with demand given that much of the supply chain has yet to recover.
“We’ve got 18 months of touring coming up across the UK and all of the suppliers are going to be hugely stretched,” says Richard Buck, CEO of TEG MJR, the UK subsidiary of Sydney-based live entertainment and ticketing firm TEG.
“Artists, promoters, production and marketing teams are champing at the bit and ready to meet the demands”
Desmond agrees, adding: “Going forward there are still challenges including issues with the supply chain and many talented specialists have been forced to leave the sector, plus there remain complexities for touring in Europe post-Brexit.”
And as an autumn period of touring kicks off, the ongoing spectre of Covid-19 is a continued source of uncertainty for promoters who say the rate of no-shows at concerts is far higher than usual.
Buck reports “anywhere up to 50% no-shows, especially on postponed shows. It’s a little less if the show is taking place closer to the time when it was announced but at sell-out shows, there has been significant no-attendance”.
Buck believes the no-shows are down to an “amalgamation of low confidence, forgotten tickets and isolating” and predicts three to six months for the levels of attendance to go back to what they were pre-pandemic.
UK-based promoter and venue operator DHP Family is also experiencing high rates of no-shows and says it’s increasingly hard to predict attendance post-Freedom Day.
“[Attendance] varies by artist and how many times the show has been rescheduled etc,” says DHP’s director of live, Anton Lockwood.
“[There has been] anywhere up to 50% no-shows, especially on postponed shows”
“We’ve seen 20–30% on bigger shows. Typically smaller shows are less predictable; it can be 100% attendance or, if it’s the kind of show where the artist has been relying on their friends and family to turn up, it can be up to 75%. It’s all over the place.”
While refund requests are reportedly very low, most events are currently offering a refund to ticket holders who can’t attend due to a Covid-related illness on a discretionary basis.
“If it’s a rescheduled show, you’re entitled to a refund, the end,” says DHP’s Lockwood. “But there’s a debate about if you’ve got Covid, whether you’re entitled to a refund or we should just give a refund out of kindness.”
Fortunately, DHP has also not seen huge numbers of refund requests so far: “It’s not caused a problem but it is a worry because if you settle the show with the artist and then some of the refunds come in, you’ve got a problem.”
Buck says TEG MJR is being “lenient” when it comes to refunds but they are dealing with it on a case-by-case basis.
“We’re being a lot more liberal with refunds because we want people to buy in confidence when the market opens which is a slight double-edged sword,” he explains.
“2022 and 2023 sales have been disproportionately strong… probably 20-25% up on forecast”
“Previously, if you had a sold-out show it was sold out. Now, it’s a lot more difficult to settle on the other side because you’ve got refunds post-event,” Buck concludes.
But while Covid continues to cause operational complexities, Buck says the increase in spend-per-head at concerts is “dramatically up” versus pre-Covid and ticket sales for new shows have soared.
“2022 and 2023 sales have been disproportionately strong,” he says, “Probably 20-25% up on forecast.”
And with the threat of last-minute venue closures due to staff being ‘pinged’ (told to self-isolate by the NHS app) or contracting the disease, alongside similar worries with touring parties, many say recovery feels like a gradual process.
“We don’t know whether the shows are going to happen or not, whether the artist is going to be able to travel or they end up catching Covid,” says Lockwood.
“People assume it is all back to normal but everything is just much harder. It’s great to be back, don’t get me wrong, but the uncertainties have ramped up.”
The New Bosses 2021: Dan Roberts, Live Nation
The New Bosses 2021 – the latest edition of IQ’s annual celebration of the brightest young talent in the live business today, as voted for by their peers – was published in IQ 103 this month, revealing the 12 promising promoters, bookers, agents, entrepreneurs that make up this year’s list.
To get to know this year’s cohort a little better, IQ conducted interviews with each one of 2021’s New Bosses, discovering their greatest inspirations and pinpointing the reasons for their success.
Catch up on the previous 2021 New Bosses interview with Flo Noseda-Littler, agency assistant at Paradigm in the UK here.
Dan Roberts was born in Boston, Massachusetts, but brought up in Nottinghamshire in the UK. His introduction to live music began, aged 16, when Liars Club [in Manchester] owner Ricky Haley paid him to put up posters. From there Roberts moved to Leeds to study biology, while local entrepreneur Ash Kollakowski taught him how to rep shows and book local supports.
When he completed his studies, he found a job at DHP, where he learned to be a national promoter, and five years later he moved to Metropolis Music and the Live Nation family.
You studied biology – are there any parallels at all with your work, or did any of the disciplines learned at university help you?
Communicating concisely in writing and applying a functional, transactional mindset to the processes that go into building a show. You can’t teach taste though.
Having a US passport can be very useful in this business – have you been able to take advantage of that for your work, as yet?
I once went to the Hamptons with Matt Bates, which was very nice. Aside from that and a trip to NYC to see Partisan Records and Cigarettes After Sex team, I look forward to building my US network further as we return to full business.
You started working on shows while you were a student: do you have a mentor or anyone you turn to for advice?
Ricky Haley, Dan McEvoy, Ash Kollakowski, Dan Ealam, George Akins, Anton Lockwood, Raye Cosbert, Will Marshall, Bob Angus, Denis Desmond, Melvin Benn… What Denis, Raye and Bob can communicate with ten words would take most people a hundred.
Learning how to rep shows and book local support acts in Nottingham has obviously served you well. Does that experience help when it comes to choosing who to work with in cities around the UK?
A good network of reps is useful. As an industry, we’ve lost a lot of freelancers on the production side over this period which is a travesty.
“Taking acts from 200-cap rooms to Brixton Academy is incredibly rewarding”
What has been the highlight of your career, so far?
Taking acts from 200-cap rooms to Brixton Academy is incredibly rewarding. Show-wise it would have to be The Strokes at the Roundhouse in February 2020, which I worked on with Bob. Implementing 100% digital ticketing with Ticketmaster was an operational win.
The pandemic has been hard on us all – are there any positive aspects that you are taking out of it?
This time has given me a chance to get closer to the teams at Metropolis, Live Nation, Festival Republic and Ticketmaster.
What are you most looking forward to as restrictions lift?
Fontaines D.C. playing A Lucid Dream to 10,250 people at Ally Pally. More specifically, the bit at the start where Grian goes “shew”. That on a big L-Acoustics or d&b rig at about 103db, with their wonderful team around me at FOH, that would be nice.
What’s the biggest challenge for you and your colleagues now that the business is emerging from lockdown restrictions?
Everyone is coming back to shows from different places and from different experiences during lockdown, so empathy is a must. Our communal mental health is very important as we return.
FKP Scorpio UK poaches DHP’s Ealam and O’Neill
FKP Scorpio has hired veteran concert promoters Daniel Ealam and Scott O’Neill to head up and grow its nascent UK touring business.
The hiring of Ealam and O’Neill marks a renewed focus for Hamburg-headquartered FKP on its British operation, FKP Scorpio UK Ltd, which originally soft-launched in 2018. The pair will team up with FKP Scorpio CEO Folkert Koopmans to “actively promote and build the UK arm of the business”, according to the company.
Both promoters join FKP Scorpio from DHP Family, the independent Nottingham-based concert, venue and festival outfit. Ealam had been at DHP since 2002, rising to become director of live in 2016, while O’Neill, who joined in 2010, was formerly senior promoter.
Both have promoted thousands of shows across the UK, from 80 to 80,000 capacity, notes FKP, and sold millions of tickets. Highlights for the pair include 18 stadia since 2015 and outdoor events at Cardiff Castle, Leeds Roundhay Park, Ipswich Chantry Park and Bristol Filton Airfield, with acts including Ed Sheeran, Massive Attack, Catfish and the Bottlemen, Adele, Mumford and Sons, Brian Wilson, Anne-Marie and the War on Drugs.
“We are so excited to build FKP Scorpio in the UK,” say the pair in a joint statement. “We have long admired the company’s ethos and ethics and truly believe that it is a force for good within the industry and expanding at a time when we need strong promoters with good values working across Europe.
“Folkert shares our vision for the business, and we have big plans to make this a huge success”
“Folkert shares our vision for the business and we have big plans to make this a huge success and support our artists, agents and managers and give fans the ultimate live experiences.”
Joining Ealam, O’Neill and Koopmans on the FKP Scorpio UK board are Barry Campbell and James Cassidy, the driving forces behind FKP UK’s Blue Planet II and Planet Earth II shows, which have been touring arenas in the UK and continental Europe since.
In addition to the UK and Germany, majority CTS Eventim-owned FKP Scorpio has offices in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Poland, Netherlands, Austria, Finland and, most recently, Belgium. The company is one of the biggest concert and festival promoters in continental Europe, with its flagship festivals, Hurricane and Southside, the fifth and sixth highest-grossing in the world, respectively.
“We are very much looking forward to working with Daniel and Scott, who have built up an excellent reputation and have excellent contacts,” says Koopmans. “We are convinced that with their support we will be able to significantly expand FKP Scorpio’s activities in the UK.”
Indie promoters talk challenges, post-corona recovery
The latest IQ Focus virtual panel, The State of Independence: Promoters, checked in with independent concert promoters in the UK, Europe, India and South America to discover how these entrepreneurs are preparing for the live industry’s return to normality.
Hosted by agent Emma Banks (CAA), yesterday’s session welcomed British promoters Anton Lockwood (DHP Family) and David Messer (DMP), Munbir Chawla from India’s The Wild City, Melanie Eselevsky from Argentina’s Move Concerts and Karsten Jahnke Konzertdirektion’s Roman Pitone to discuss the current difficulties unique to their sector, as well as the opportunities and challenges of a post-Covid-19 world .
Speaking about emerging concert formats such as drive-in shows, Pitone said Karsten Jahnke has done a number of drive-in events in Germany over the past few months. “Overall, they went well,” he said, but enthusiasm has declined over time as fans increasingly miss ‘real’ shows: “You could see when we started it that people were really eager to see shows [in some form] again, but it slowed down as time went on as people realised it’s just not the same.”
He added that the company is only breaking even on its drive-in and other socially distanced events. “With the income, we’re just paying for what we’re doing,” he explained. “This is just to keep doing something that is our passion and our livelihood, until we can do something [else]…”
In India, where live music is still invariably sponsored, brands have realised the coronavirus crisis isn’t going away and are spending less on live events, creating a headache for promoters, said Chawla. “The brands have realised they’re in it for the long haul, and cultural marketing spend is now being put back into marketing the products” directly, he commented.
“I want to remain independent. It’s not all and gloom”
“Unlike a lot of other scenes, the Indian scene is pretty reliant on brands. So, with the brands spending less money, that will also affect shows and the scale at which they can happen.”
Giving an overview of the situation in countries where Move Concerts operates, Eselevsky brought panellists up to date on the latest developments in Latin America, from the furlough scheme in Argentina to ticket vouchers in Brazil and drive-in concerts in Puerto Rico.
She also touched on the challenge of organising concerts in Argentina when the value of the local currency fluctuates so often: “Three years ago, the exchange rate was 18 pesos [to the US dollar],” she said. “Now it’s 75 pesos.”
Banks described her own experience of playing Argentina, relaying how one of her acts once oversold a show in Buenos Aires and still didn’t break even. “Try explaining that to the manager!” she said.
Turning to 2021, Messer said he’s “finding that because so many things have been moved into next year, things are fully booked” for late 2021 already. “So it’s very hard to know what you can book – the dates are going very quickly, but you can’t book the artists” because the situation around international touring is still so unclear.
“People are talking a lot more to each other … We’re all in the same place”
Lockwood said he can understood why many artists, especially American ones, could be reluctant to travel internationally well into next year, even if it’s a “depressing” thought. “Imagine the nightmare of being a US band,” he explained, “you get to the border of Spain and Portugal, and your bus driver gets a cough and you have to quarantine for 14 days. So, your whole tour’s just gone.
“Whereas, at least if you’re a US band and you tour the US, you won’t get caught in that.”
While the crisis has thrown into sharp relief the vulnerability of the independent sector, none of the panellists responded in the affirmative when Banks asked, tongue in cheek, if they wish they’d sold to Live Nation before coronavirus hit.
“It’s not all and gloom,” said Chawla, highlighting the quality of the music being released and the increasingly global nature of the industry as among the bright spots, while Messer praised how “people have come together” to mitigate the impact of the concert shutdown.
“People are talking a lot more to each other – people from different sides of the industry,” he said, in a sentiment echoed by Banks. “We’re all in the same place, and luckily everyone’s helping each other, which we have to do. We all need each other – we’re not going survive unless we can all exist.”
Indie promoters in spotlight for next IQ Focus
Continuing the weekly series of IQ Focus virtual sessions, State of Independence: Promoters will see independent event organisers from across the globe come together to discuss the specific obstacles facing their business.
The tenth panel of the popular IQ Focus series, the session will be streamed live on Facebook and YouTube on Thursday 16 July at 4 p.m. BST/5 p.m. CET.
Across the touring world, independent promoters are facing a similar challenge when looking ahead to a post Covid-19 business.
While this current period presents many unique challenges for this creative and entrepreneurial sector, it’s one of many pressures they face. So what’s the state of play in Europe, South America and India? And what alternative show formats, and business models are independent promoters adopting to stay ahead?
CAA’s Emma Banks hosts the session to ask, as the industry emerges from its current crisis, where the opportunities might lie?
Joining Banks are DHP Family’s Anton Lockwood, Karsten Janhke Konzertdirektion’s Ben Mitha, DMP UK’s David Messer, Melanie Eselevsky from Argentina’s Move Concerts and Munbir Chawla from the Wild City in India.
All previous IQ Focus sessions, which have looked at topics including the challenges facing festivals, diversity in live, management under lockdown, the agency business, large-scale venues and innovation in live music, can be watched back here.