European festivals reveal line-ups for 2021 editions
The UK’s Download Festival, Serbia’s Exit Festival and Rolling Loud Portugal are among the first major European festivals to unveil line-ups for next year, after cancelling their 2020 editions due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Kiss, Biffy Clyro and System of a Down have been announced to headline the UK’s heavy metal festival, which will take place between 4 and 6 June in Donnington Park next year.
In place of Download Festival 2020, promoter Festival Republic created a virtual version of the festival, airing footage of previous live performances from the acts billed to play including Kiss, Iron Maiden and System of a Down.
Exit Festival has also revealed the first wave of headliners including David Guetta, Tyga and DJ Snake for its 2021 edition, which will take place from 8 to 11 July in Novi Sad.
Rolling Loud will make its European debut next summer with performances from A$AP Rocky, Future, Wiz Khalifa
The Serbian mega festival was one of the last major European events to cancel this year’s edition after hopes of postponing from July to the end of August were dashed due to new outbreaks of the virus in the country.
Elsewhere, Rolling Loud will make its European debut next summer with performances from A$AP Rocky, Future, Wiz Khalifa. The hip-hop festival will take place between 6 and 8 July next year at Praia da Rocha beach in Portimao, Portugal.
Among the festivals that have already announced line-ups for 2021 are Primavera Sound Barcelona, which reported a record sell-out for next year’s edition, and Mad Cool in Madrid, which will welcome performances from Twenty One Pilots, Placebo and the Killers.
The UK’s Isle of Wight Festival has also announced the first wave of artists for next year’s edition, taking place from 17 to 20 June including Lionel Richie, Snow Patrol and Duran Duran.
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Melvin Benn: ‘I’m very optimistic about 2021’
Amid a challenging summer 2020, Festival Republic is feeling “incredibly optimistic” about next year’s European festival season, managing director Melvin Benn has said.
Speaking to IQ, Benn says Festival Republic (FR) – whose festival portfolio includes the UK’s Download, Wireless and Reading/Leeds Festivals, Germany’s Lollapalooza Berlin and the Republic of Ireland’s Electric Picnic – is working to the assumption that its open-air events will “be back in full force next summer”, most likely after the release of a vaccine against Covid-19.
With UK scientists now said to be 80% sure a vaccine will be ready by September, Benn (pictured) says festivalgoers being immunised against the coronavirus is currently FR’s “plan A” for 2021, with some sort of test-and-trace system also a possibility should the vaccine not be ready in time.
“I take great confidence in the fact that test and trace is a plan B for me,” he explains. “I don’t think we could have imagined the unity the scientific community has showed in working together to find a vaccine against this disease.”
Underscoring his optimism that a vaccine for Covid-19 is close, Benn adds: “If you look back at all the incredible inventions and creations – aeroplanes, cars, medicines; everything we take for granted in our normal lives – and then you think that, cumulatively, there are more scientists alive and working now than ever existed before… Are we going to solve this? Of course we are!”
“I’m already getting companies contacting me and offering tests”
IQ caught up with Benn the week after Wireless Connect, one of two virtual festivals the Festival Republic team has staged this summer (three if you include parent company Live Nation UK’s Isle of Wight Festival) in lieu of the physical events.
“The learnings” from all three, says Benn, are “immense”, and allowed FR to “discover what people respond to” in a digital event.
“Download TV was very much more a linear TV broadcast, just using YouTube rather than a terrestrial channel, and we learnt a huge amount,” he continues. “It was really the first time we’d done an as-live broadcast like that.
“With MelodyVR [for Wireless Connect], that was even more complicated, as we did a 360° virtual-reality broadcast, with artists going into a studios in London and the US. Whereas people were performing in their kitchens for Download…” (The virtual Isle of Wight Festival, meanwhile, was a simpler affair, broadcasting past performances on Sky television.)
While Benn says the definition of a successful year for him is having “fans in a field”, he says the FR team has done “extraordinary things with the three outings we’ve had so far”. “I hope we can build on that in future,” he adds.
By charging for online events, IQ wonders? Benn is tight-lipped, though he concedes that, “as an add-on, [virtual festivals] have potential”. “There’s a lot of discussion going round, but it’s really too early to say,” he continues. “What we do know is that there’s an appetite for live – in all its forms – that can’t be replaced.”
“We’re feeling very optimistic about next year. I think the pent-up demand is absolutely there”
On that topic, Benn notes that of the three 2021 festivals Live Nation/Festival Republic has on sale – IoW, Download and Creamfields – all are “selling really well, so we’re feeling very optimistic about next year. I think the pent-up demand is absolutely there.”
Even in the event of a vaccine not being available by next summer, Benn is adamant that FR, and the wider UK/European festival market, is “in a really good position”.
“I’m already getting companies contacting me and offering tests that are incredibly reliable, and can be done in a short amount of time,” he explains. “At the moment [in July] they’re too expensive – but given that they didn’t even exist in March, I assure you that by the time April or May comes around next year, there’ll be a testing company on every street corner and it will be relatively inexpensive.”
As for how fans might respond to mandatory testing, which has mooted as a requirement for entering festivals in the absence of a vaccine, Benn adds: “I’m very optimistic about human beings. We’re incredibly versatile creatures and we’ll change and do what we need to do in order to participate in the things we enjoy.
“So if that’s the only way, so be it. You can’t beat the experience of a festival.”
Kiss, Iron Maiden to headline virtual Download fest
Festival Republic has revealed the line-up for the virtual version of Download Festival, Download TV, with exclusive footage from headliners Kiss, Iron Maiden and System of a Down.
Download Festival was among the first major UK events to cancel it 2020 edition due to the coronavirus outbreak.
In its place, Download TV is airing on the original festival weekend, from 12 to 14 June, available to watch on the festival’s social channels and on YouTube. Fans can subscribe to Download TV on YouTube here.
The virtual event will feature a day time programme of interactive activities, live artist Q&As and lockdown performances, with the evenings bringing footage of live performances from the acts billed to play the event this year, including Korn, Deftones, Babymetal, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, Creeper, the Offspring and the Darkness.
Past Download performances from headliners Kiss and System of a Down will be resurfaced for the event, while Iron Maiden promise “something just for Download TV”.
Festival Republic has revealed the line-up for the virtual version of Download Festival, Download TV, with exclusive footage from headliners Kiss, Iron Maiden and System of a Down
Download fans are encouraged to put tents up in their gardens, wear festival merchandise and send photos and videos in to the festival page to ensure a “celebration of the Download community”.
Fellow Festival Republic event Wireless Festival is also taking place in a virtual form this year, partnering with music-focused virtual reality company MelodyVR to produce Wireless Connect. From 3 to 5 July, pre-recorded live performances will be brought to Wireless fans in 360° virtual reality.
Performances will be recorded from MelodyVR’s studio in Los Angeles and the 10,400-capacity Alexandra Palace in London. The Wireless Connect line-up will be announced in due course.
MelodyVR’s Ben Samuels was among tech leaders to take part in IQ Focus panel The Innovation Session yesterday, discussing the most effective ways to monetise virtual shows. The panel is available to watch back on YouTube or Facebook now.