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Tomorrowland Belgium sells out in less than a day

Tickets for the 20th anniversary edition of Tomorrowland’s flagship Belgian festival sold out in less than a day.

The electronic music extravaganza will welcome 400,000 ticket holders across two weekends to Boom, in the province of Antwerp, from 19-21 and 26-28 July.

The Brussels Times reports that around 200,000 tickets reserved for Belgian citizens were snapped up in 27 minutes, with the remaining allocation selling out by the end of the first day of the general sale.

Three-day passes cost €304, with a one-day pass priced €129. All prospective ticket buyers were required to register in advance.

Staged under the ‘LIFE’ theme, more than 400 acts including Armin van Buuren, Amelie Lens, Bonobo B2B Dixon, David Guetta, ANNA, Vintage Culture, Tale Of Us, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Solomun B2B Four Tet and Swedish House Mafia will appear across 16 stages.

“It rests on the shoulders of the justice system, police, and festival organisers to ensure a responsible and safe environment for all festivalgoers”

Organisers are teaming up with local police to step up the fight against dangerous drugs at the event, including on-site testing of seized substances by the National Institute of Forensic Science and Criminology (INCC). The move follows last year’s introduction of a system to immediately process fines imposed on drug users and bring dealers to court.

“Drugs are exceedingly harmful to health and can be fatal,” justice minister Paul Van Tigchelt told The Brussels Times. “It rests on the shoulders of the justice system, police, and festival organisers to ensure a responsible and safe environment for all festivalgoers.”

Elsewhere, the fourth edition of Tomorrowland Winter, slated for Alpe D’Huez, France from 16-23 March, is also sold out.

The brand has also been exported to Brazil, while it was revealed last month that it is launching a new 10,000-cap festival in the Colombian city of Medellín, with the help of local promoter Breakfast Club.

Its newly created CORE stage is being transported to Medellín’s botanical garden for the two-day event on 11-12 May. The CORE stage debuted at Tomorrowland’s January event in Tulum, Mexico, and is slated to ‘pop up around the globe’ including at Tomorrowland Belgium.

 


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London’s ‘biggest electronic show ever’ announced

British DJ, producer and label founder Michael Bibi has announced a 45,000-cap homecoming event at London’s Finsbury Park, billed as the biggest electronic music show ever to take place in the capital.

Presented by Festival Republic and Cream, the show will take place on Saturday 6 July as part of Bibi’s One Life tour.

The 33-year-old is returning to touring after being diagnosed with CNS Lymphoma, a rare form of brain and spinal cancer. In December last year, he revealed he was cancer-free after undergoing intense treatment.

“I’m excited to give something back to my hometown after all the support and love I received during my cancer treatment,” says Bibi, founder of record label Solid Grooves.

“Money raised helps the incredible team at the charity to continue to provide the very best treatment and care and drives forward life-saving research”

The One Life tour will also be supporting various cancer charities including The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, which supports the work of The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, where Bibi received his treatment. There will be the opportunity to make a donation to the charity when purchasing tickets.

“We’re hugely grateful to Michael for his generous support of The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity as part of his upcoming London show,” says Vicky Johnson, associate director of public fundraising and engagement at The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity. “Money raised helps the incredible team at the charity to continue to provide the very best treatment and care and drives forward life-saving research to develop new treatments for the benefit of cancer patients globally.”

The full lineup is yet to be revealed, but promoters expect tickets to sell fast, with 200,000 sign ups already received ahead of the 26 January onsale.

 


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IMS Ibiza unveils new home for 15th edition

IMS Ibiza has revealed a new destination for the 15th edition of its electronic music summit.

Co-hosted by BBC Radio 1 broadcasters Pete Tong MBE and Jaguar, the annual conference will be held at the newly opened Mondrian Ibiza and Hyde Ibiza hotels in Cala Llonga from 24-26 April 2024, with programming to take place across both venues.

In a rare keynote, Tomorrowland founder Michiel Beer will share insights into the festival’s evolution in Tomorrowland: 20 Years of Innovation, which will also look at the impact of the Tomorrowland Foundation.

Other panel highlights announced so far include Ninja Tune: Unveiling The Wizardry Behind One Of Electronic Music’s Greatest Independent Labels with the label’s co-founder Matt Black, while Rebuilding Our Community: How To Bring Back Peace, Love, Unity & Respect will examine how the industry can respect and restore its values.

Elsewhere, Amplifying Amapiano: The Journey of a Genre From The Township to the Global Stage will unpack the genre’s cultural influence as it transcends borders, and Defected Records CEO Wez Saunders and founder Simon Dunmore will reflect on the journey of the label in 25 Years of Defected: Life After An Acquisition. IMS is also bringing back its Market Focus format to take a deep dive into the scene in Germany.

“Now that the industry has (mostly) enjoyed its bounce-back, this is the real test of stability as consumer habits settle down”

“IMS continues with our third and most important edition since the pandemic, but also our 15th event in Ibiza,” says IMS co-founder and lead curator Ben Turner. “Now that the industry has (mostly) enjoyed its bounce-back, this is the real test of stability as consumer habits settle down. It is also a moment where global events have impacted the unity of our scene, presenting many with challenging decisions to make.

“IMS also moves to a new property in Cala Llonga, a stunning part of our magical island that is now home to the new Mondrian Ibiza and Hyde Ibiza hotels, and now IMS. We can’t wait to host everybody again and continue to help set and drive the conversation.”

Delegates will also be able to experience parties and events on the island, including the IMS Dalt Vila closing celebration.

IMS Ibiza is partnering with climate action partner EarthPercent, with 1% of all IMS Ibiza 2024 delegate badge purchases to be donated to the charity. The levy will also be applied to all event sponsors.

“We’re delighted that IMS have made the pledge of 1% contributions to EarthPercent,” says artist and EarthPercent co-founder Brian Eno. “The funds will go towards some of the most impactful climate and environmental solutions around the world.

“We’re in the middle of the most challenging crisis we will ever face and the music industry has an amazing opportunity to champion action. It’s hard to know what to do but we know that uniting voices, values, and funds can make a huge difference so we’d love others to join IMS in the movement too.”

 


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Uganda’s Nyege Nyege festival ‘safest yet staged’

Uganda’s Nyege Nyege festival has provided a $10 million boost to the country’s economy despite international visitors being warned to stay away due to a heightened terror threat.

The US, UK and Irish embassies all urged citizens to avoid the electronic music festival, which was held in Jinja from 9-12 November. But promoter Talent Africa reports the event still attracted more than 20,000 festival-goers – including 4,000 foreign attendees – making it East Africa’s “largest tourism experience”.

Dubbed the “Tomorrowland of Africa”, Nyege Nyege featured acts such as Sho Madjozi, Vigro Deep, Eddy Kenzo, Aunty Rayzor, DJ Kampire, Boutross, Bushali, DJ Diaki, Top Klas, De Schuurman, Afrorack, Chovu, Muovipussi and Yuri.

“This year’s Nyege Nyege festival was the most spectacular ever, with more than 20,000 people – mostly Ugandans –gathering in Uganda and others from around the world to listen to more than 300 artists,” say Nyege Nyege’s Derek Debru and Arlen Dilsizian. “Most importantly at this time when there is so much suffering and war occurring in the world, it was an event that celebrated peace and joy and enabled people to share understanding and kindness together.”

The British High Commission had advised against all but essential travel due to the “growing terror threat in Uganda, including the targeting of foreigners”, while the Irish Embassy also issued a warning, with reference to “music and cultural festivals in Uganda”. The US Embassy, meanwhile, encouraged individuals to “reconsider attendance at upcoming large public gatherings”, citing “increased terrorist activity”.

“People were given a chance to share a special experience in Jinja – and to do so in a safe and secure environment due to the effective security provisions”

The warnings followed a number of deadly attacks in recent months in Uganda, attributed to Democratic Republic of Congo-based rebels. Three people died in an attack in Queen Elizabeth National Park in Western Uganda on 17 October, while 42 people, including 37 pupils, were killed at a secondary school in June.

Organisers say an “unprecedented security operation” ensured Nyege Nyege’s eighth edition was “the safest yet staged”. In a break from the norm, accommodation at Nyege Nyege was not provided on site, but via secure campsites set up by partnering hotels.

“For four days, people were given a chance to share a special experience in Jinja – and to do so in a safe and secure environment due to the effective security provisions that had been put in place,” they add. “People came from all over the world to party together and the result was a beautiful experience as they heard some of the most exciting musical talents not only from Africa but globally. We look forward to doing it all again next year.”

The Ugandan parliament banned the festival last year, accusing it of “promoting immorality”, but later reversed the decision. This year’s event has also been credited with the creation of 2,000 jobs directly through the festival and a further 2,000 jobs through the springing up of businesses to help facilitate visitors.

 


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Security warning over ‘Tomorrowland of Africa’

The embassies of three Western countries have warned citizens against attending an African music festival, amid a heightened terror threat.

East Africa’s biggest electronic music festival, Nyege Nyege is taking place in the city of Jinja, Uganda, from 9-12 November. Organised by Talent Africa Group, the event has been dubbed the “Tomorrowland of Africa” and is popular with international visitors who reportedly made up 5,000 of its 12,000 festival-goers last year.

However, the US and Irish embassies in Kampala, along with the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), have urged people to stay away from this weekend’s eighth edition.

“Due to increased terrorist activity, US Embassy Kampala recommends that individuals exercise an elevated degree of caution and reconsider attendance at upcoming large public gatherings, such as large-scale worship services and music and cultural festivals in Kampala and Jinja,” reads a travel alert.

“The US Embassy is directing its staff to not attend the Nyege Nyege festival in Jinja from November 9-12, 2023. Due to security concerns, we advise US citizens not attend the festival.”

According to Africa News, the warnings follow a number of deadly attacks in recent months in Uganda, attributed to Democratic Republic of Congo-based rebels, who have pledged allegiance to Islamic State.

Three people – including two honeymooning tourists – died in an attack in Queen Elizabeth National Park in Western Uganda on 17 October, while 42 people, including 37 pupils, were killed at a secondary school in June.

“There is a growing terror threat in Uganda, including targeting of foreigners”

“There is a growing terror threat in Uganda, including targeting of foreigners,” says the FCDO. “Avoid large gatherings, including large scale worship, and music and cultural festivals in Uganda.”

The British High Commission has advised against all but essential travel due to the “growing terror threat in Uganda, including the targeting of foreigners”, while the Irish Embassy has also issued a warning, with reference to “music and cultural festivals in Uganda”.

Uganda’s First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for East African Community Affairs, Rebecca Kadaga, played down safety concerns during a tour of the festival venue, reports The Independent.

“The president has requested me to assure you that all the major events in Jinja – starting with this one… are fully secure,” she said, adding that senior military and police officers had been deployed to oversee security at the festival.

A record label, booking agency and music studio also operate under the Nyege Nyege umbrella. Artists and DJ’s performing at this year’s event include Kampire, Aunty Rayzor, Menzi, Mika Oki, Rosa Pistola, Afrorack, Meme, Model Home and Karol Kasita. A four-day festival pass costs US$180.

The Ugandan parliament banned the festival, which was first held in 2015, in 2022, accusing it of “promoting immorality”, but later reversed the decision.

 


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Rave reviews: Electronic music report

With the annual IMS Report noting that electronic music revenues grew by more than one third to reach $11.3 billion in 2022, and that nearly half of all dance music revenue came from festivals and clubs, the genre’s impact on live events has never been greater. DJ Mag editor-in-chief Carl Loben reports.

The rise of electronic music has been embraced – some might argue facilitated – by festival organisers the world over creating dance arenas as part of their annual offerings to the masses.

The recent International Music Summit (IMS) Report found that 39% of all festival bookings are electronic music artists. This stat was up from 33% in 2021 and indicates that the electronic music industry is riding high, coming out of the pandemic.

At the same time, electronic acts such as Prodigy, Bonobo, Orbital, Leftfield, Fatboy Slim, Hot Chip, and Overmono are currently on the road touring both indoor and outdoor venues, while the likes of Chemical Brothers, Rudimental, and others have plans for later in the year.

“Yeah, if you look at the live figures, electronic music is about 30% up – it’s really strong,” says Maria May, head of electronic at CAA. “It’s a genre in itself; it’s a serious business. They can’t pretend it’s just a party anymore. Electronic music is worth being a part of and investing in.”

May credits early dance music festivals in the UK around millennium time, such as Creamfields and Homelands, as being barometers for what was to come. “The desire for people to meet in a field and dance under the stars is pretty tribal, isn’t it?” she says. “Now there’s lots of organised gatherings for everyone – young people are always going to need to come together and let go.”

“Incorporating a visual element into my shows has been an essential aspect of my artistic expression”

Time was when electronic dance music was thought of as a bit of a joke by the mainstream music industry. Dance acts were made to mime their hit rave tunes on the UK’s Top Of The Pops television show, and there were mutterings from the rock quarter that dance wasn’t ‘real’ music played by ‘real’ musicians.

The DJ has now been elevated from the music provider in the corner of a dark club, more or less on a par with the glass collector, to bona fide mainstage superstar. A DJ act – such as Skrillex, Four Tet, and Fred again.. – can now headline Coachella and doesn’t always need eye-popping visuals to carry a show.

However, many DJs positively embrace the multimedia aspect of their art. “Incorporating a visual element into my shows has been an essential aspect of my artistic expression,” Irish producer and artist Rebūke tells IQ. “I am trying to find ways to evoke emotion and create a unique atmosphere, and by adding visuals, I can transport fans into another world. The visuals I create serve as an extension of my music, allowing me to tell a story and evoke specific moods that complement it.”

He continues, “Each visual I design plays a part in the story that aligns with the theme of the music. The aim is to engage fans on multiple sensory levels. This year, in Mexico City, we depicted a TV head man with glass shattering, symbolising the breaking of societal norms and inviting fans to question their own perceptions. In the second visual debut at The Brooklyn Mirage in New York, the story continues as the man walks through a portal into a new world, representing a transformation and the exploration of uncharted territories. These visuals are sync’d with the music in real time, allowing me to fuse sound and imagery.”

Breaking Down Barriers
There is still some resistance from some areas of the music industry to booking headline DJs for mixed-genre festivals, however. “It’s an ongoing battle for agents and the more conventional rock & roll promoters to get them onside, and in the most part, the general vibe is to not let a DJ on the mainstage,” says May. “But when you have a DJ who is selling more records than all the live acts put together on the festival, there is an argument to say that if a DJ is putting on a really
good show – visuals, all the rest of it – then it can be on a par with a rock band. I’m sure people who play guitar music will kill me for saying this, and it’s not the same – but it’s still valid entertainment.”

“As a result of the pandemic, people started realising that night culture is more than dancing at night — it’s a way for young people to experiment and explore who they are and find their identity”

“The rise of electronic music has broadened people’s perceptions of what music is and how it’s experienced,” says Monty McGaw, head of electronic at Untitled Group events company in Australia. “DJs can be captivating; people love witnessing skilful mixing and track selection. Electronic music events often carry a broader message or theme, such as political messages, equality, or the importance of community. Balancing these diverse elements requires careful planning, coordination, and creativity to deliver a compelling and memorable live experience.

“Electronic music emerged from communities that were often marginalised and underground, which initially limited its acceptance and recognition by the mainstream music industry,” McGaw continues. “The cultural and societal factors surrounding its origins and early development played a role in the industry’s initial resistance to accepting it as a legitimate genre deserving of equal status.”

Meindert Kennis, co-director of the Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE) – the biggest annual gathering of the electronic music industry – reckons that the prevalence of electronic music on daytime radio in the Netherlands and the UK over the past 30-odd years, and in the USA over the past 15 years after the David Guetta-spearheaded explosion, has led to electronic’s widespread acceptance.

“Also, as a result of the pandemic, people started realising that night culture is more than dancing at night — it’s a way for young people to experiment and explore who they are and find their identity,” he adds. “It’s something you do preferably under cover of the night and is a real important part of the development of young people.”

Kennis additionally makes the point that when the pandemic took away young people’s opportunities to go out and gather together at music events, mental health problems began to accumulate. “Especially in the cultural and government worlds, they started realising that once you took it [away], problems started to appear with young people, and they realised that this is playing a really important part [in] young people’s development,” he says.

“Electronic music, unlike some other genres, has the ability to transcend language and cultural differences”

ADE began in 1996 as a way of bringing the Dutch electronic music scene together and has grown exponentially into the largest gathering of the electronic music industry in the calendar year.

“ADE has become a tentpole moment – the whole industry has a big red circle around October, when it’s going to be here in Amsterdam,” Kennis says. “So at least for those days, Amsterdam is the centre of the electronic music world.” The existence of conferences such as ADE, IMS in Ibiza, WMC in Miami, plus BMC and AVA in the UK, and others, helps strengthen the industry and also aids the local scene where those events are based. “If you have such a moment, that’s very beneficial for a local artist,” Kennis says. “And for night culture as a whole in general.”

International
Electronic music has found it easier to find global appeal than most other musical styles. “Electronic music, unlike some other genres, has the ability to transcend language and cultural differences,” says Monty McGaw, noting that it is less dependent on lyrical content. “I think this has helped to facilitate its global appeal and contributed to its profitability,” he says.

And it comes in many guises. One glance at leading digital download platform Beatport’s sub-genre categories – from tech-house to amapiano, drum & bass, dubstep, trance, techno, and more – gives an indication as to the variety on offer.
“Electronic music is prone to different genre popularity waves,” concurs McGaw. “One year this genre is popular, another year another genre is popular, but what remains is the experience — which is also a link to the live sector.

“It’s more skewed towards the experience of being at a festival or being at a live electronic music event, which is different to a more traditional rock or pop concert,” McGraw continues. “That experience has a really profound influence on how people spend their free time. So, it doesn’t really matter which genre is popular at any one time — that whole feeling of being yourself just stays.”

“The mainstage artists are the ones who sell the tickets, and we’re now building strong headliners who are creating legacies”

Drawing parallels with artists and musicians who make the majority of their revenues through live performance, experts acknowledge that since the bottom fell out of record sales in the early noughties, producers have had to become DJs, helped in their efforts by the growth in the number of electronic music events, as well as the festival business mushrooming internationally.

“Festivals really added to our business – a lot of artists’ careers are based on festivals that take place throughout the summer,” observes CAA’s May. “There’s still room for the DJ in a dark tent with nothing but lasers as well: that still creates a moment at a festival. If you’re a young kid stumbling into that and discovering it for the first time, it could be as magical as the mainstage. But the mainstage artists are the ones who sell the tickets, and we’re now building strong headliners who are creating legacies.”

Many electronic artists now incorporate audio-visual elements into their shows. “Everyone – such as Peggy Gou and Solomun at Sónar this year – is bringing a big production show. They want to express themselves musically but also visually, so that’s very natural, and the facilities are better than ever,” says Enric Palau, co-founder of Sónar, the specialist electronic music festival that’s set a gold standard for discerning bookings since its inception in Barcelona 30 years ago.”

Indeed, Palau observes that the electronic scene can offer a more sustainable approach to touring. “Festivals such as ours provide the equipment for [artists] to come with their shows with very little equipment; sometimes they only need to bring the content, because we provide the set-up for the live show,” he says. “So, with Bicep and Aphex Twin, for instance, they really want to bring the live visual aesthetic of their show. It’s important for the artists.”

Sónar is obsessed with sound quality, Palau adds, and makes the point that many pop acts, such as Beyoncé and The Weeknd, are now 90% electronic.

“If we like the music and think it’s bringing a new thing to the scene, we’ll book them no matter if they’re underground or commercial”

Sónar booked the Beastie Boys and a newly rebooted Kraftwerk in its early days and has often been the place where a lot of international artists, like Goldfrapp and M.I.A., played their first shows out of the UK. But otherwise, they haven’t been tempted to go down the commercial route and book more mainstream dance stars such as Tiesto, Swedish House Mafia or David Guetta. “Probably the closest we got to that EDM phenomena was bringing Steve Aoki at the very beginning,” says Palau.

“If we like the music and think it’s bringing a new thing to the scene, we’ll book them no matter if they’re underground or commercial,” says Palau’s colleague Ventura Barba, Sónar’s executive director. “We’re happy that we’ve discovered a whole raft of artists that then became really big players – whether it’s Daft Punk or other artists where we did their first international shows at Sónar, and they went on to become superstars. This has happened quite a few times.”

Global Appeal
With multiple editions all around the world, Sónar encapsulates the boom in demand for electronic events.
In addition to traditional hubs such as Ibiza and Las Vegas, Berlin has a huge electronic scene, especially for techno. Amsterdam is also a recognised capital, while in the Czech Republic there’s an annual drum & bass festival called Let It Roll, which attracts international attention.

Spain, meanwhile, is big on breakbeat, Australia and New Zealand have big tests around New Year, and back in the northern hemisphere, Croatia has myriad dance festivals in the summer, while EXIT in neighbouring Serbia has been part of the genre’s makeup since the year 2000.

More recently, Israel has grown in stature, Egypt has hosted many events, including a recent show by Carl Cox at the Pyramids, while some of the huge investments pouring into Saudi Arabian nightlife have been targeted at the electronic community.

“The importance of inclusion and diversity is being listened to more, from Ibiza to festivals globally”

And as one of the fastest growing genres for events, China and India have become emerging electronic markets, Japan is already a big player, and other hotspots like Singapore and Thailand are on the rise, too.

Basically, electronic music is everywhere; it’s gone global.

Steven Braines of touring polysexual club brand HE.SHE.THEY. reveals, “We’re now in 40 cities, which is 20 more than we were pre-pandemic, with more territories planned especially for next year. The importance of inclusion and diversity is being listened to more, from Ibiza to festivals globally.”

Braines believes that experiential events such as Elrow, Defected’s glamorous Glitterbox brand and HE.SHE.THEY. – which have a lot of performers as well as quality DJs – are particularly doing well, as are events for “Instagram moments, like Tale Of Us’s Afterlife or Eric Prydz’s HOLO show with 3D visuals.

High-end Production Values
Event production in the dance areas at festivals, such as Boomtown and Glastonbury in the UK, not to mention behemoths such as Tomorrowland in Belgium and the travelling Elrow Town, has become next level, designed for an immersive, awe-inspiring experience. Even though many music fans choose to face the DJ – and sometimes, annoyingly, film them on their phones – the emphasis is on participating in the event, rather than passively watching on. This communal way of consuming electronic music could provide the answer to the question as to why electronic music acts – specifically DJ-led ones – don’t transfer very well to TV.

“Consumer confidence and buying trends have been a challenge. A lot of people have shifted their spending priorities due to financial constraints”

This alternative way of consuming music explains why the pandemic – when the events industry ground to a halt – was somewhat catastrophic for the electronic music industry. No manner of livestreams from unusual locations could make up for the fact that music lovers weren’t able to gather together in real life.

“You cannot beat that wonderful experience of being surrounded by your peers – from every generation, across the board,” says May. “At more events I go to, there’s older people mixed with younger people, and it can be the nicest vibe. It can be three generations appreciating electronic music together.”

Untitled Group’s McGaw thinks the Internet and streaming services have had a huge influence on electronic music. “The ability to connect with people over the Internet so easily has facilitated the growth of subcultures and has exposed electronic music to a wider audience,” he states.

Everyone interviewed for this article agreed that there have been challenges coming back from the pandemic, such as people leaving the industry; a shortage of infrastructure (festival staging, portaloos, fencing etc); increased costs all round; and the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.

“Consumer confidence and buying trends have been a challenge,” says McGaw. “A lot of people have shifted their spending priorities due to financial constraints. We’ve been navigating these changing consumer sentiments by adapting our strategies to regain and maintain the confidence and interest of our audience.”

“As long as we’re still being creative and don’t forget that at the heart of everything is the rave, then we’ll continue to do really good business”

But there’s no doubt, in general, that the electronic sector has bounced back, in many cases stronger than ever.

“We came back really healthy,” says Sónar’s Barba. “It was a little difficult to start the engine again because a lot of professionals from the industry were doing other things. But we came back very strong, reconnecting with our loyal fans but also with other audiences who we had the luxury to connect with through online channels during the pandemic. The 2022 edition was one of the best – the second-best year in terms of figures.”

The IMS Report states that the live sector in 2022 grew by $16.7bn – a huge amount. “Growth was skewed by the fact that 2020 saw a significant dwindling of live events during lockdown, rallying slightly in 2021,” the report also states.

To crunch some more numbers from the IMS Report: only 15% of all electronic festival bookings were for female DJs, a figure that is growing but is still a way off the parity that equality and fairness demands.

Overall, dance music live revenues were up 65% on 2021, reaching $4.1bn, and nearly half of total revenues came from festivals and clubs.

The future is looking bright for the electronic music live sector, then, although CAA’s May warns against complacency. “Things go in circles,” she says. “At the moment, we’ve got electronic music flying high, but are we in the lead-up to the next big indie band coming through because dance music is so everywhere?

“People’s tastes change. The future is definitely bright, because I’m not seeing a lack of young people who want to experience electronic music. As long as we’re still being creative and don’t forget that at the heart of everything is the rave, then we’ll continue to do really good business. Because young people just want to go out and dance.”

 


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IQ 120: The Pride takeover edition has arrived

IQ 120 – the latest issue of the international live music industry’s favourite magazine – is available to read online now.

The July 2023 issue heralds the return of IQ Magazine’s annual Pride takeover edition, made possible thanks to support from Ticketmaster.

Once again, the Pride issue’s marquee feature is the LGBTIQ+ List which profiles 20 queer professionals making an impact in the international live music business and beyond. This year’s top 20, which were announced today, share their challenges, triumphs, advice and email addresses with us in the bumper feature.

Issue 120 also sees the return of the Loud & Proud playlist and feature, in which our agency partners spotlight fast-emerging and noteworthy acts to play close attention to. Contributing agencies include ATC Live, CAA, ITB, One Fiinix Live, Playbook Artists, Primary Talent, Solo and UTA.

Elsewhere, Pride editor Lisa Henderson speaks to the pioneers behind Werq the World, the official RuPaul’s Drag Race tour, as well as some of the other promoters working with touring drag acts. Continuing the RuPaul theme, Your Shout asks previous LGBTIQ+ List finalists what their lip-sync-for-your-life song is.

Following the closure of Elton John’s final tour, IQ Magazines Gordon Masson talks to the power players who helped make it a record-breaking smash.

For this edition’s columns and comments, Saskhia Menendez (Keychange, The F-List for Music, LIVE) outlines the need for a trans and non-binary charter and Jess Kinn (One Fiinix Live) details some of the foundations that she and others are laying to help queer acts and their fans to thrive.

Beyond the Pride-specific content, DJ Mag editor Carl Loben healthchecks the electronic music biz and Lars Brandle delivers market reports for Australia and New Zealand.

As always, the majority of the magazine’s content will appear online in some form in the next four weeks.

However, if you can’t wait for your fix of essential live music industry features, opinion and analysis, click here to subscribe to IQ from just £8 a month – or check out what you’re missing out on with the limited preview below:

 

Two killed in shooting at festival campsite

Two people were killed and three others injured following a shooting in the camping area of US electronic music festival Beyond Wonderland at The Gorge.

Police say a gunman began shooting “randomly” into a crowd at the event’s campsite, several hundred yards away from the concert venue, at around 8.25pm on Saturday (17 June).

The suspected gunman was eventually captured and taken into custody. No further details have been made available, pending an investigation. Information about shooting victims will not be released until the on-site investigation is complete, and the victims’ families have been notified.

The Insomniac-promoted festival was held at the 27,500-cap Gorge Amphitheatre, near George, Washington State, about 150 miles east of Seattle.

Speaking at a press conference, Kyle Foreman, public information officer for the Grant County Sheriff’s Office, tells reporters: “We don’t know what the motives were or what the intentions were of the shooter and we’ll have to wait and see if we can find that information out later on.”

“We would like to express our sincere appreciation to the local authorities and staff who acted quickly to manage the situation”

The sold-out festival continued as planned on Saturday night, but its second day was cancelled in the wake of the tragedy. DJs on the bill included Marshmello, Afrojack, Andy C, Sub Focus, KX5, Dillon Francis and Justin Hawkes.

“Due to the incident that took place in the overflow camping area last night, we regret to inform you that Day 2 of Beyond Wonderland at the Gorge has been cancelled,” says a statement from organisers. “We would like to express our sincere appreciation to the local authorities and staff who acted quickly to manage the situation. Our heartfelt thoughts and condolences go out to the family, friends and all those affected by this tragic event.”

The incident came just a week after a 35-year-old man was killed and another injured in a shooting at a concert in Spring Valley Park, Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Meanwhile, Indianapolis debuted “gun-free zones” policy at Elevation Group’s WonderRoad Music Festival, headlined by Weezer and Jason Isbell, in Garfield Park over the weekend. IndyStar reports that “gun-free zones”, announced by the city in late May, would involve the city helping private groups who have leased a public space for an event to enforce a gun-free policy by sending additional law enforcement, which the city is allowed to do under Indiana law.

It notes that last year’s Music Midtown festival in Atlanta, Georgia, was cancelled amid an apparent conflict between the festival’s no guns policy and an appeals court ruling that made it more difficult for private companies to ban firearms on public property leased for short-term events.

 


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Untitled details Europe & APAC growth strategy

Untitled Group’s head of electronic Monty McGaw has spoken to IQ about the Australian promoter’s recent expansion to Asia Pacific and Europe.

The Melbourne-headquartered independent firm is targeting international success after selling more than 250,000 tickets in its homeland during the 2022/23 summer period, with highlights including its flagship Beyond the Valley festival and Nelly Furtado’s first Australian show in over 20 years

McGaw, who has headed up collaborations with other electronic promoters in APAC since being promoted from senior touring agent last October, elaborates on the company’s plans outside its homeland.

“It’s not so much about expanding the Asia market per se, it’s more about synchronising timing and opportunities between Australia/New Zealand/APAC and our partners,” he says. “This provides more frequent shows with local promoters, building audiences and creating cohesion for artist teams based in the US/UK/EU making the long journey. Doing both regions at a similar time provides great benefit in costs incurred by the touring artists and also helps with promotion and marketing efforts.”

“I make a point to speak with on-the-ground promoters to get feedback about the local scene in their city”

When expanding into new markets, McGaw says he adopts a more “hands-on” approach.

“I make a point to speak with on-the-ground promoters to get feedback about the local scene in their city, including how other shows have performed,” he says. “I also examine the touring and ticket selling history to gather insights. I communicate with the managers, artists, and teams to discuss the rationale behind playing specific shows, effectively conveying the story of the market to those who may be unfamiliar with it from the other side of the world. It is crucial to avoid rushing things in new markets and instead approach them as part of a long-term plan.”

McGaw, who is also programmer for Australian electronic music hub Xe54, has presented tours by the likes of Honey Dijon, Dj Boring, Job Jobse, Sally C, Palms Trax, Mella Dee and DJ Mell G.

Untitled has existing relationships with third-party partners such as Strawberry Fields, Lost Paradise, Mode, Field Day, Sun Cycle, Meredith, Golden Plains and WOM Adelaide. It also presented the European debut of its Day Party at Amsterdam’s Lovelee in the Netherlands last October in collaboration with Amsterdam Dance Event.

“Ultimately, the goal is to create a perfect tour, event, or festival where all parties involved walk away feeling satisfied”

McGaw considers collaborating with local promoters to be “super-important”.

“It prevents stagnation for artist growth and encourages an open-minded approach to explore the plans and ideas of various promoters. It is essential to avoid being fixated on a single outcome for an artist,” he says. “In the long run, this approach ensures greater longevity for artists in the market, avoiding repetitive appearances at the same events and festivals year after year. There is plenty for everyone and what goes around comes around.”

Data analysis and market research play a “significant” role in shaping tour strategy, especially in smaller markets, he adds.

“Considering what promoters can afford and assessing the potential for increased show capacities involves an additional degree of risk,” contends McGaw. “Ultimately, the goal is to create a perfect tour, event, or festival where all parties involved walk away feeling satisfied. The artists should feel like they have enjoyed their performances and connected with audiences, while the agents and managers should be content with the execution of advancing and backend operations, whilst local promoters should have put in the effort to create a great environment for the artists they booked, allowing them to make some profit to invest in future shows.”

McGaw adds that the challenges around rising costs associated with touring and putting on events have influenced the firm’s current direction.

“Breaking in artists for debut tours with smaller niche promoters who have super nice small audiences, good attention to detail in branding, art etc has become very hard,” he concludes. “The costs of simple things like flights, hotels, venue hire etc chip away at the artists potential to earn money on a debut tour and sometimes it means they have to sit out on an opportunity to debut in Australia to play more shows at home to earn money to keep things going. This is another reason why linking Australia, New Zealand and Asia together is so exciting and helpful.”

 


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Belgium’s Paradise City unveils Green Power Plan

Paradise City Festival has shared details of its new Green Action plan as it bids to become the first festival in Belgium that runs exclusively on renewable energy by 2025.

The electronic music event, which returns to Ribaucourt Castle, Perk, from 30 June to 2 July, is working with renewable energy pioneer Eneco to reduce its dependency on biofuel and increase the share of solar energy in total energy consumption from 20% to 50% this summer.

The 8,000-cap festival will install more than 90 additional solar panels and three battery containers on the island in front of its castle, creating the Eneco Solar Island. This initiative will ramp up the total surface of solar panels to 435m2 and directly power the Contrast Stage and various bars.

Eneco’s support also ensures the festival’s buildup will be fully powered by renewable energy – another first for the Belgian event business.

“Becoming fully sustainable is crucial for our planet and future generations”

“We are thrilled we can partner up with an ambitious organisation like Paradise City,” says Bert Clinckers, MD of Eneco Belgium. “Becoming fully sustainable is crucial for our planet and future generations. That is why we support our clients and partners in realising their goals to become carbon neutral. We’re in this together.”

Paradise City is also continuing its partnership with Audi, which helped make its power plan more sustainable in 2022 with a giant 170m2 solar panel, the largest of its kind at any European event. As a result, the festival was able to double the share of solar power to 20%, with the rest of the used energy sourced from biofuel (HVO) to minimise carbon emissions.

DJs on this year’s line-up include Folamour, Palms Trax, Helena Hauff, RY X, Inner City, Max Cooper, Interplanetary Criminal, Moodymann, Ben UFO, Christian Löffler and Omar S.

 


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