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French festival sues over ‘gutter punk’ comments

A French electronic music festival is suing two local politicians for defamation over derogatory remarks the pair allegedly posted on social media.

Les Dentelles Électroniques – which takes place on Sunday 7 August, with German techno DJ Thomas Schumacher headlining – is taking legal action against Corentin Triplet and Jocelyne Cieslak, both municipal councillors in Brebières in northern France, who are accused of writing libellous posts about the festival on Twitter and Facebook, respectively.

According to Les Dentelles Électroniques, Triplet posted on Twitter on 17 July to say he was “surprised” to see Brebières “associated with an event for punks à chiens”, the French term for gutter punks (literally “dog punks”), a subsection of the punk world characterised by homelessness, vagrancy and, sometimes, voluntary unemployment and antisocial behaviour.

“By this tweet, Mr Triplet clearly despises the organisers of Les Dentelles Électroniques, as well as its festivalgoers and all the members of the electronic music ecosystem, associating them with ‘gutter punks’,” reads a statement from the festival. “However, the festival is very far from the image to which Mr Triplet refers. Indeed, everyone involved with this event maintains very good relations with the security forces [and] municipal police […] in order to guarantee the best possible conditions for its operation.”

“Fhe festival is very far from the image to which Mr Triplet refers”

Cieslak, meanwhile, is accused of making, on 21 July, a public post on her Facebook account where she appears to “question the the charitable nature” of the 1,500-person festival, “undermining the honour” of the festival’s organiser, the foundation CGDPC (Chti G Découverte Passion et Culturelle).

“The festival organisers find it unfortunate to want to harm such an event in the current health context [the pandemic] and the resulting difficulties,” reads a statement from CGDPC.

“In light of the above, the festival organisers decided to file a complaint on Thursday 22 July 2021 against the two authors of these publications” under the Press Freedom Act of 29 July 1881, it adds.

The festival is supported in its lawsuit by electronic industry association Technopol, which says it stands with the “organisers and festivalgoers implicated by these illicit comments and assures them of its full confidence”.


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Dance music festivals and clubs lose 78% of value

Prevented from opening by Covid-19 restrictions, nightclubs and dance music festivals lost more than three quarters of their value in 2020, according to new data from the International Music Summit (IMS).

Using data from Viberate and Reisdent Advisor, the IMS Business Report 2021, a copy of which can be requested by clicking here, calculated that €3.4 billion, or 78%, was wiped off the value of venues and festivals last year, as more than 200 electronic music festivals were forced to cancel.

Compounding the damage was a late, scaled-back 2020 season in Ibiza, while searches for flights for 2021 have yet to take off amid ongoing uncertainty, according to the report. IMS’s own flagship event, IMS Ibiza, was among the summer 2020 casualties.

“A huge rebound can be expected as the live industry finds safe routes to reopening”

However, “a huge rebound can be expected as the live industry finds safe routes to reopening”, it continues, while the demand for live dance music events events is bigger than ever: the value of festival tickets sold in March 2021 was more than the whole of 2020 combined, an increase of 4,000% year on year.

The decline in the value mirrors that of the live music industry more broadly, which analysts have put at 75% (Goldman Sachs) and 64% (PwC).

In total (including recorded music and DJ software/hardware), the global electronic music market declined 54%, to $3.4bn, the IMS Business Report estimates.


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Slovenia hosts Europe’s biggest post-pandemic festival

Smile Nation Slovenia, the largest music festival in continental Europe since the coronavirus pandemic began, took place with 5,000 fans in Ljubljana on Thursday 24 June.

Held at the city’s Ilirija sports stadium, the festival, promoted by Celje-based Smile Festival, featured performances from popular international DJs, including Australia’s Nervo and Dutch producer Quintino, and local talent such as Minless and Tim Urbanya. The festival follows last year’s seated, socially distanced event with 500 people each night over three days.

A total of 5,000 people attended the one-day Smile Nation Slovenia 2021, which took place under so-called PCT conditions (pogojev PCT), referring to the Slovenian term for Covid-status certification. All attendees had to provide proof of either vaccination against Covid-19, immunity to the disease, or a negative Covid-19 test to gain entry.

Organisers advised non-vaccinated/immune guests to get tested the day beforehand in their hometowns, though a pre-event testing point was set up in Ljubljana’s Tivoli Park for those unable to.

Other hygiene measures in place at the festival included card-only payments and hand sanitising points, while face masks were recommended but not required.

“We are proud that in these unpredictable times, we managed to undertake an event of this magnitude”

According to local media, Smile Nation Slovenia is the largest festival of the Covid-19 era in the European Union. Recent events in the UK, including Sefton Park Pilot and Download Pilot, were the same size or bigger, although they were held under clinically controlled test-event conditions.

“From the bottom of our hearts, we thank visitors, performers, partners, sponsors and everyone else who contributed to this unique spectacle,” say organisers in a statement. “We are proud that in these unpredictable times, we managed to undertake an event of this magnitude and make history as one of the first major ’normal’ festivals of the past two years.

“An electric atmosphere, positive energy, lots of good fun and great music: this was Smile Nation Slovenia 2021.”

Other ‘normal’ festivals going ahead this summer include Exit Festival in Serbia, Pukkelpop in Belgium, Mysteryland in the Netherlands and a handful of UK events, pending the removal of restrictions on 19 July.


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United at Home: How David Guetta live streams raised millions

United at Home, David Guetta’s free-to-access lockdown livestream series, has raised more than US$2 million for charity to date – over half a million dollars per show – and is just getting started, according to co-organiser Michael Wiesenfeld.

Wiesenfeld, a French-born, Miami-based estate agent and friend of Guetta, was instrumental in setting up the first United at Home event in April 2020, which saw the DJ play a 100-minute set on the roof of an apartment block in Miami in aid of the World Health Organization (WHO), Feeding South Florida, Feeding America and France’s Fondation des Hôpitaux.

The show was seen by more than 12 million people – many of which also joined in on a Zoom link, while 7,000 residents of neighbouring blocks in the Icon Brickell complex watched from their balconies – and raised $700,000, with donations matched by Guetta himself, Wiesenfeld explains.

“For that first show, David paid for 100% of the production, as well as matching people’s donations, so 100% of that money went directly to charity,” he recalls.

Thinking back to the genesis of the show, Wiesenfeld tells IQ: “David wanted to do something to give back, but he didn’t really know what. I was the same – it was such a stressful time, and I couldn’t sleep thinking of all these people who were worse off than me. We could see people were struggling. There was no help at the time, as this was before any stimulus package.

“I used to live in the apartment block where we did the first show and I realised it would be perfect. I was looking for something that would be visually very nice [to watch from home] and also offer the possibility for David to interact with a live crowd. A friend and client of mine in the real-estate business, Jean-Charles Carre, is part of David’s management team, so I called them up and said, ‘Why don’t we do it here?’”

The United at Home team, which also included Jérémy Zeitoun, Guetta’s head of social media and digital marketing, and Pierre-Georges Kieffer from Warner Music France, pulled the Miami show together in under a week, working “18 hours a day for five days” to make it happen, Wiesenfeld continues.

In addition to providing some much-needed entertainment, the funds raised by United at Home Miami and follow-up event United at Home New York, on 30 May, enabled Feeding America to distribute over four million meals to people in need.

“We thought about selling tickets to raise more money, but it would limit the number of people who can see it”

“Everybody has same story about it giving a bit of happiness at time of such darkness,” Wiesenfeld says. “I dug out the clips recently and, even a year later, I had chills. It was like watching France win the world cup!”

“That night, I couldn’t sleep,” Wiesenfeld remembers. “David, the team and I were on the phone until 6.30 in the morning, we were so full of adrenaline. We all agreed that we had to do another one.”

The show that followed, which saw Guetta performing from the roof of New York’s Rockefeller Center, almost didn’t happen, with big-city bureaucracy, the worsening Covid-19 situation and the protests sparked by the death of George Floyd threatening to derail the concert before it got off the ground.

“The day of the event, there were 4,000 people on the streets of New York by our hotel,” Wiesenfeld explains. “We didn’t think we were going to make it to the Rockefeller Center in time. In the end, David arrived seven minutes before the show!”

Despite the chaotic circumstances, United at Home New York was another critical and financial success, securing the backing of a number of high-profile sponsors who were impressed by what the team had pulled off in Miami.

“In Miami, David paid for entire show, but in New York we had Major League Soccer, Heineken, Atari, all kinds of companies… In total, we had maybe 15 sponsors because they saw what we did in Miami and they were blown away,” says Wiesenfeld.

Similarly successful were United at Home Paris, held at the Louvre on New Year’s Eve 2020, and United at Home Dubai, which saw Guetta return to the rooftop (this time of the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah hotel) on 6 February. Both shows were engineered by Guetta’s long time tour manager, Jean-Guillaume Charvet, and visual artist Romain Pissenem of High Scream Production, and brought United at Home’s now-trademark mix of high-energy electronic music, spectacular visual effects and breathtaking locations to fans in new continents.

Bucking the trend towards ticketed live streams, Wiesenfeld says all future United at Home events will remain free to view to ensure they reach as many people as possible.

“The key with charity is that it’s all about the experience and the connection with people”

“We thought about it [selling tickets], to raise more money, but it would limit the number of people who can see it,” he explains. “David’s logic is that he’s been very successful, he’s received a lot from his fans, and now his duty is to give back. The charity angle is very important to him.”

At press time, the four shows had been collectively viewed by well over 100m people – and where in the beginning the team had to approach cities to host United at Home, now the cities are coming to them. “The shows have shown that these United at Home events are a great way of advertising their cities,” says Wiesenfeld, who with Carre now leads a specialist event consultancy, The Charity Guys. “After all, it’s a lot cheaper than hosting the Euros…”

The plan for 2021–22 is for another three or four over the next 12 months, he says. “Now United at Home has become a concept – we travel to a beautiful part of the world and play great music for charity – it’s going to continue.”

Post-coronavirus, Wiesenfeld adds, team Guetta – which also includes agent Maria May of CAA – are also hoping to do a “real show in a big stadium: a festival curated by David but featuring other artists. A Live Aid type of thing, once a year.”

On the live stream front, it’s likely the next United at Home show will be in Asia, but The Charity Guys is also looking at South America, the Middle East and other cities in Europe, according to Wiesenfeld. “What we’re trying to do is find new ways to raise money for those who need it,” he adds.

The Charity Guys is also hoping to work with other artists to replicate the success of the United at Home model, using it as their proof of concept.

“United at Home was the product of out-of-the-box thinking – it was livestreaming but in a completely different way. Now we want to do that with other artists and entertainers, leveraging their fame and brand to raise money.

“There are a lot of celebrities who have foundations but they don’t raise much money, and I think that’s because they don’t have the right team around them. The key with charity is that it’s all about the experience and the connection with people, and that’s why United at Home has been so successful.”


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Clubs come together for The Beat Goes Live

A 48-hour livestreaming event will unite many of the world’s leading electronic music venues in support of the industry later this month.

The Beat Goes Live, which takes place from 19 to 21 March, will raise money for Music Heroes, an initiative supporting venues, promoters, artists, music related charities and organisations. It will stream live on Paarti starting from 9pm GMT.

Participating venues include Ambassada Gavioli (Izola, Slovenia), Cava Paradiso (Mykonos, Greece), Club der Visionaere (Berlin, Germany), Egg (London, UK), D-Edge (Sao Paolo, Brazil), H0L0 (New York, USA), Noa Beach Club (Zrce, Croatia), Nordstern (Basel, Switzerland), Phonotheque (Montevideo, Uruguay), Super Dommune (Tokyo, Japan), Tenax (Firenze, Italy) and Versuz (Hasselt, Belgium).

A final secret venue, as well as the line-up, will be announced in the coming weeks.

“We are launching a new kind of platform kicking off with a historic event that brings together some of the biggest names in music”

Fans can support the cause by buying tickets and making donations in both their local currency and cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin.

Raluca Cherciu, CEO, Paarti says: “We are launching a new kind of platform kicking off with a historic event that brings together some of the biggest names in music, in support of music heroes.”

“What always drives us is the passion and love for music. For Noa, the beat never stops, it keeps playing just like our hearts that live for this industry,” says the club in a statement.

“That is why Noa Beach Club decided to join this initiative because it arose from a sincere desire to continue living, having fun and socialising from all over the world. Luckily, technology today allows us to do that, and this project is going to take it to another level.”


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Netherlands’ La Nuit Management welcomes new investment

Amsterdam-based artist management firm La Nuit Management has secured investment from Loki Artist Group, a company formed during the Covid-19 pandemic to invest in music companies ahead of the return of touring.

Through the partnership, Loki Artist Group, founded last year by Bob Murray, Zack Dekkaki and Ric Wake, will provide unspecified investment capital – as well as label and touring support and ‘synergies’ with other Loki partners – to La Nuit Management, launched in 2018 by artist manager Robert Tammens.

La Nuit’s roster includes electronic music acts Caius, Paeve, Kid Honda and Aevion, as well as Eauxmar, who recently produced a song for the new Apple Watch campaign.

Prior to starting La Nuit Management, Tammens was part of the A&R/marketing team at Spinnin’ Records, where he worked with acts including Lana Del Rey, Martin Garrix, Afrojack, Tiësto, Don Diablo and Calvin Harris and discovered Oliver Heldens, whose song ‘Gecko (Overdrive)’ hit No1 in the UK.

“La Nuit’s broad roster of clients, along with Robert’s vision, creative edge and entrepreneurial spirit, brings an excitement to our brand”

“As we grow our business internationally, we believe the best future for us remains to be investing in people like Robert and his vision” says Murray, Loki Artists’ CEO. The company also recently invested in Title 9 Productions, an US label, artist management and record production company.

“La Nuit’s broad roster of clients, along with Robert’s vision, creative edge and entrepreneurial spirit, brings an excitement to our brand as we continue to grow,” adds president Dekkaki.

Comments Tammens: “We are looking forward to working with Zack and Bob as we continue to develop our artists and expand our growth opportunities on an international level.

“Their tremendous knowledge, experience and support will give us the ability to really work with the best artists in our industry.”


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ASOT1000 sells 55,000 tickets in four hours

The Netherlands’ A State of Trance (ASOT) has sold all 55,000 tickets for this September’s festival, which takes place at the Jaarbeurs convention centre in Utrecht on 3–4 September.

The ASOT1000 Celebration Weekend, which marks 1,000 episodes and 20 years of Armin van Buuren’s A State of Trance radio show, is the most-anticipated A State of Trance to date, selling out in under four hours, according to promoter Alda.

Headlined by van Buuren, the first night of ASOT1000 will be a “nostalgic journey through two decades of trance”, with the Saturday show a more standard ASOT experience, welcoming a “star-studded line-up packed with new young talent, as well as iconic trance artists”. The nine-hour event will take place across five areas of the 100,000m² Jaarbeurs.

The festival follows ASOT 950, which took place last February, also at the Jaarbeurs, with 40,000 fans in attendance and millions more watching online.

Further ASOT1000 events will take place in Poland and Russia the following month, before heading to more countries on A State of Trance world tour.

“This incredible achievement signifies that music has always been a unifying force”

Allan Hardenberg, CEO of leading dance music promoter Alda, says: “This milestone celebration is a very special one for Alda, as we have been a part of this extraordinary journey for 14 years in organising ASOT events worldwide. We are glad to celebrate this landmark occasion with Armin and fans from all over the world.

“This incredible achievement signifies that music has always been a unifying force. See you on the dancefloor this September.”

Tickets for ASOT1000 Celebration Weekend started at €110 for a weekend ticket, or €65 for a single-day pass.

Regarding coronavirus, Alda says it will take “measures that are necessary at that moment” to protect fans and comply with all Dutch government regulations. Another dance music festival, new event Frontier, says it will also go ahead in a ‘corona-proof’ format, regardless of restrictions, this summer.


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Tax break for German nightclubs

Live performances by house and techno DJs have been officially recognised as ‘concerts’ by Germany’s Federal Fiscal Court, slashing the tax paid on live electronic music events to 7%.

Tickets for club nights were formerly levied at 19%, but are now eligible for the lower rate of sales tax after being redefined as “concert-like” events by the  Bundesfinanzhof (BFH).

In a judgment dated 23 July, but published in late October, the BFH affirms that “the performance of techno and house music by various DJs give[s] an event the character of a concert, or a concert-like, event even if the music performances take place regularly (weekly),” according to Berlin-based legal firm Härting.

The majority of dance music shows were formerly recognised as ‘party’, rather than cultural, events.

“Most clubs should be able to benefit from the application of the lower tax rate”

The reclassification for clubs throughout Germany follows a similar move specifically for Berlin’s Berghain in 2016, which was recognised as organising culture events and so eligible for the 7% rate of tax.

For nightclubs to benefit from the new tax rules, DJ performances must be the main purpose of the event (as opposed to dancing, partying and drinks sales), according to Härting.

“Even if these requirements have to be checked on a case-by-case basis, most clubs should be able to benefit from the application of the lower tax rate,” the firm says.

All venues and bars in Germany are currently closed under a nationwide lockdown set to run until the end of November.


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Alda plots in-person Rave Culture fest in Thailand

Following the success of its first Rave Culture show, which welcomed 1,400 fans to Cologne’s Lanxess Arena in July, Dutch electronic promoter Alda is planning an “even more spectacular show” in Thailand this December.

The first Thai music festival since early 2020, Rave Culture part two will be held in Nong Nooch Tropical Garden in Pattaya, on the Gulf of Thailand, on 12 December. A co-pro with Bangkok’s 808 Festival and Amsterdam-based creative agency 20 Agency, Rave Culture welcomes a “top-tier” line-up, says Alda, as well as high-end production featuring lasers, LEDs, “state-of-the-art” lighting and other special effects.

Performers will include trance star Andrew Rayel, hardstyle duo Sub Zero Project, psy-trance act Vini Vici and future-rave pioneer Morten, as well as Rave Culture founders W&W. W&W played at the inaugural Rave Culture festival, as well as an Alda-organised virtual-reality live stream which attracted more than a million viewers in May.

Pattaya is known as the nightlife capital of Thailand, while the 500-acre Nong Nooch gardens will provide a “beautiful setting” for the event, adds an Alda statement.

Tickets for Rave Culture, which takes place as part of day two of 808 Festival, start at ฿2,950 (€81) for general admission and are on sale now.


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In France, nightclubs have been left for dead

Dear Minister of Culture,

It’s strange, but at the end of your speech on France 2 on 22 October, I had the unfortunate impression that I had not been concerned by your announcements.

Not being a great expert in political language, either, after your speech I naively asked my wife if she thought that “the world of the night” could be included in what you called “the performing arts sector”. After all, when I’m on stage, behind turntables, like an actor, musician or dancer, I feel as if I, too, am delivering live performances. But the dubious grin I got as an answer hasn’t really alleviated my fears. So, in order to get to the bottom of it, I immediately called a friend (from the profession) to ask him this simple question: “Reassure me, V, when our minister talks about the performing arts sector, she is talking about us too, all the same…?”

At first my question made him laugh (which didn’t bode well), before giving me his answer: “Ah, no, Laurent, from now on we are part of the dead performing arts sector… As Roselyne has said many times, ‘the world of the night’ doesn’t depend on her, but on the Ministry of the Interior.”

At the beginning I thought it was a little joke, but I quickly understood that behind his cynically funny answer, V wasn’t telling me lies.

It’s strange because as an Officer of L’Ordre Arts et Lettres, Knight of the Legion of Honour (awarded by a former minister of culture [Jack Lang], who has long since occupied the eminent place of the night in the vast space of culture and creation) and globetrotting DJ (like other artists in our country, I’ve been indirectly promoting France abroad for more than 30 years), I stupidly thought that things had changed, and that with my little turntable comrades we had won our status and our ticket to the “world of culture” with dignity. But I have to admit that apparently this is still not the case.

During your speech you spoke of the great suffering of the cinema and the world of the performing arts. Indeed, these sectors have been suffering terribly (like many others) since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis. But fortunately for them, cinemas, theatres and some concert halls have nevertheless been able to reopen, despite a complicated health protocol.

When they were open, clubs were places bubbling with creation, imagination and sharing

Today we hear a lot of talk about the anger of restaurateurs and coffee shops due to the curfew. But here again, these businesses still, somehow or other, had some possibilities to reopen, even in an extremely constrained way.

On the other hand, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that, since the beginning of March, the “night and clubs” sector (of which I am an intrinsic part) has been completely at a standstill. For us the party is over, and has been for eight long months now.

As you know, like theatres, cinemas and concert halls, clubs (apart from the artists and DJs who perform there) employ the same diverse and varied staff as the rest of the cultural landscape, whether in the bar, the auditorium, the cashier, the cloakroom and the cleaning staff… Or the stage managers, security, intermittent workers, technical staff, sound engineers, lighting engineers, VJs, promoters, bookers, labels, graphic designers, printers, and not forgetting the indirect economic impact (suppliers, restaurants, hotels, transport, etc.). The list is long, but above all very similar to that of the performing arts.

On France 2, you announced figures relating to aid to the various sectors of film and performing arts – and once again, and for too many months now, the cultural space of the night has been totally ignored.

The flagrant lack of consideration, the ignorance emanating from your ministry towards the nightlife and club sector, is clearly interpreted by many of us as an incomprehensible form of contempt. For whether you like it or not, the clubs and places of this ‘night culture’ were (when they were open) places bubbling with creation, imagination and sharing.

I was, Madam Minister, sincerely attentive and benevolent when you took office, impatient but certain to see you represent us in the same way as other artists, and affirm the minimum consideration due to our sector. But I must admit that today, I am not sure if we can do so. But I confess that today – not knowing very well if I am a “dead performing artist”, an “Interior Ministry artist”, or “not an artist at all”, I am beginning to have serious doubts.

Kind regards,
Laurent Garnier


Laurent Garnier is a DJ, composer and producer, and founder of electronic music label F Communications. In 2016 he became a Knight (Chevalier) of the Légion d’honneur.