AEG Presents forms Climate Positive Touring group
AEG Presents is forming a team of industry professionals from production, marketing, and operations dedicated to ‘moving the live business towards a greener future’.
The team, dubbed Climate Positive Touring (CPT), comprises staffers who work across various business divisions of AEG Presents including Concerts West, Global Touring, International Touring, Marshall Arts, Messina Touring Group, and AEG Global Partnerships.
Reducing tour-related carbon emissions, supporting locally led environmental and climate justice programmes, and creating impact on both the operating and consumer-side of touring are at the top of the group’s agenda.
“AEG Presents has the ability and structure to really make a global impact in moving our entire business – which has had a traditionally significant carbon footprint – toward a zero-emissions future,” says Jay Marciano, chairman and CEO, AEG Presents.
“AEG Presents has the ability and structure to really make a global impact in moving our entire business”
“The company’s reach enables us to execute at every level of the live experience: from clubs and theatres to arenas, global tours, and festivals. I’m looking forward to seeing how the CPT group begins to implement their plans as the business starts to reopen this year.”
Jointly leading CPT is AEG Presents’ Amy Morrison, who adds: “With light at the end of the tunnel, we feel it’s the right time to announce CPT and our short- and long-term strategies. We’ve been working on this since the earliest days of the shutdown. Now that live music is coming back, we can put our goals into action. As promoters, we will literally put our message on the road, modelling achievable sustainability, with the power of music in our sails.”
CPT has already deployed two major initiatives: the Venue Environmental Survey and the CPT Green Touring Guide.
The survey will gather data that allow venues, artists and CPT to work together to identify sustainability priorities and solutions while the touring guide is to provide guidance and insights that promoters can utilise in the hopes of showing both venues and artists a path forward to net zero or better carbon emissions.
“The company’s reach enables us to execute at every level of the live experience”
The first installment of the guide, titled The Starting Seven, is a compendium of seven actions promoters can take to start to make a positive environmental impact.
CPT is co-headed by Amy Morrison and Nicole Neal, who are joined by Jon Baden, Amy Buck, Caroline Burruss, Kelly DiStefano, Kate Lewis, Mike Luba, Ben Martin, Alexandra McArthur, Kate McMahon, David Rappaport, and Connie Shao.
CPT works in collaboration with AEG 1Earth, AEG’s corporate sustainability program.
The news of CPT comes shortly after Earth Day (22 April), when a host of new initiatives were announced, including a special summer edition of the Green Events and Innovations Conference (GEI) and Live Nation’s new Green Nation Touring Program.
GEI, the leading conference for sustainability in the international events sector, will hold its summer edition on 16 September 2021. Tickets are on sale now.
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Futureproofing festival wristbands: Dutchband Q&A
The festival wristband industry has seen significant innovation in recent years, as suppliers have incorporated payment solutions and anti-counterfeit measures, as well as experimenting with ever more sustainable and durable materials.
For over 17 years, Dutchband, the largest supplier of event wristbands and consumption tokens in the Netherlands, has provided fraud-resistant, user-friendly and efficient wristband and payment solutions to over 1,000 events worldwide.
IQ checks in with Dutchband managing director Michiel Fransen to discover how the company is keeping gatecrashers out and making products more eco-friendly, as well as finding out what lengths the team will go to in order to ensure speedy wristband delivery.
IQ: Can you give me a brief description of who Dutchband are and what work you do?
Michiel Fransen: Dutchband has been active in the wristband and cashless payment business for close to two decades. Initially started as one of the first companies to use digital printing technology for wristband production, we have also introduced other innovations such as our unique payment tokens, vending machines, point-of-sale (POS) terminals and, of course, our high security SealStation solution (pictured), a semi automatic machine that seals wristbands on fans safely, quickly and comfortably.
We are proud to work with many of the bigger festivals in Europe. Festivals like Solidays and Fete de l’Humanité in France, the UK’s Download and WeAreFSTVL, German festival Rock am Ring, Poland’s Open’er, Lowlands in the Netherlands, Paleo in Switzerland and the Defqon1 and Mysteryland franchises all have used our solutions for either access-control wristbands or cashless payment.
We have seen an influx of new kinds of festival wristbands entering the market in recent years. What sets Dutchband apart from other companies working in the sector?
We differentiate ourselves mainly by always looking for ways to improve on the products that are currently offered in the market. We do this not only in terms of the physical properties of the products themselves, but also by exceeding customer expectations when it comes to service and reliability as a supplier.
There are quite a few cases where festivals have contacted us just before, or even during an event, to arrange delivery of additional wristbands or payment tokens. We understand the importance of helping out our customers in these cases and will do everything to arrange timely delivery, even if it means that one of our team has to jump on a plane to do so.
In terms of new developments, what are the most exciting innovations that Dutchband has implemented in recent years?
What I’m really excited about is our new range of wristbands, made entirely from organic and recycled materials. This perfectly matches our ambition to help our customers further reduce their environmental footprint. This means we can now offer sustainable alternatives for our entire product range, from SealStation wristbands made out of recycled soda bottles, to payment tokens produced from our own production waste.
Being more sustainable is the top of the priority list for many working in the live event industry, what do you believe are the other main challenges facing the wristband sector today and how is Dutchband tackling them?
The biggest challenge is to keep outsmarting the counterfeiters (and cheeky visitors) trying to get into the event for free. I believe that with our fully tamperproof, closureless SealStation wristband, we can really help festivals tackle this problem.
This foolproof design applies not only to our higher-end solutions but – and this is quite unique for this industry – even to our most basic Tyvek wristbands, made out of a plastic fibre that resembles paper, as a standard come with overt and covert anti-counterfeiting measures.
Looking to the future, what does Dutchband hope to achieve?
We keep on innovating to bring sustainable, reliable and easy-to-implement payment and accreditation products to the leading festivals of the world. Just like in the Netherlands, we want to be the people to call globally if you need a good solution and you need it now.
Rising costs belie positive sentiment in 2019 Festival Report
More than half of respondents to the European Festival Report 2019 – the latest edition of IQ’s annual health-check of the continent’s festival sector – consider the business to be in good shape, despite artist fees and a perceived lack of headliners continuing to act as bugbears for many.
Continuing the trend first seen in 2018, when the market began its return to normality following a turbulent few years, a majority of those who contributed to 2019’s survey reported business being good – with only a third of the 100-plus respondents saying the market was ‘static’ (16%) or ‘worrying’ (15%).
However, nearly 13% of the surveyed festivals opted for the ‘other’ category to describe the current state of the business. (Responses suggested the market is “overhyped”, “something between healthy and worrying” and “unprofitable”, though another said: “Our very existence means it’s OK.”)
Jasper Barendregt of FKP Scorpio, one of Europe’s biggest festival operators, explains: “A lot is happening in the market. One is under the impression that the market is saturated, but then suddenly a new festival arises out of the blue and attracts a significant amount of guests.
“There is a great need for existing festivals to stay in sync with their audience and their demands”
“There is a great need for existing festivals to stay in sync with their audience and the demands that they have. Failing to do so is a risk and can result in declining spectator numbers.”
Artist fees are once again pinpointed as the biggest issue affecting business, both in 2019 and for the next five years, with a lack of suitable headliners, competition from other festivals and the economic climate also highlighted as key concerns for many.
Last year saw a ticket price hike of 3.5%, bringing the price increase for festival tickets over the past decade to 78%. Significantly, 2019 marks the first year that fans paid over €200 on average for tickets to European festivals.
The average capacity of events dropped very slightly in 2019, down 0.6% from the year before. Yet, in 2019 the average attendance rate relative to capacity rose by nearly 15% from the year before, reaching 87.4% and indicating that 2020 could see audience yield approach 2016’s record of 90%.
Last year saw a ticket price hike of 3.5%, bringing the price increase for festival tickets over the past decade to 78%
Another positive sign for the future comes with the level of innovation shown by festival organisers in 2019, with green initiatives, technological developments and welfare efforts all appearing high on promoters’ priority lists.
Germany’s FKP Scorpio introduced a “giant metal-magnetising clean-up truck” to “sweep campsites” clean after the event. The truck will be enlarged in 2020, tripling its cleaning capacity. Mojo’s Lowlands festival is also embarking on an exciting sustainability project, with plans to develop a “50-hectaresolar-power plant”.
Cashless payment systems were the norm at an increasing number of events in 2019, with other notable tech including Wireless Festival’s new virtual reality experience and Shambala’s blockchain-based festival app.
Initiatives such as on site psychologists at Exit Festival in Serbia, mindfulness sessions at UK festival Download and a staff ‘quiet room’ at Lollapalooza Berlin helped ensure the welfare of both fans and workers at many European events.
“The bottom line is that festivals are about tradition”
Addressing delegates at the International Festival Forum during his keynote interview in September, veteran promoter Herman Schueremans (Rock Werchter) suggested that some of his festival colleagues and peers were maybe being economical with the truth when it comes to the health of the business, ticket sales and event profitability.
Expanding upon those remarks, he explains: “People very reluctantly might admit that they are suffering, but I think it’s maybe time that they start to face reality. I liken it to a parent who will do anything for their children – give them the food out of their mouth – and that’s also how people can be with their festivals.
“In the end, though, things like this happen every decade: more festivals are launched and the competition becomes really fierce before natural selection kills off some of the events and the business goes into a new cycle. In recent times, there have been a lot of people who do not have our festival DNA launching events because they see this as the new El Dorado.
“But the bottom line is that festivals are about tradition. Maybe it’s about brands in the USA, but in Europe it’s more about cultural heritage, and in the end it’s those events with history and heritage that invest in safety and the service they give to the audience, that will survive.”
Read the European Festival Report 2019 here:
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Massive Attack tackle touring’s carbon footprint
Bristol band Massive Attack are the latest UK act to tackle the live industry’s environmental impact, teaming up with researchers to map the carbon footprint of typical tour cycles.
In an article published in the Guardian, Massive Attack’s Robert Del Naja (3D) announced that the band are commissioning Manchester University’s Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research to look at “three key areas” where Co2 is emitted in the music industry: band travel and production; audience transport; and venues.
The resulting “roadmap to decarbonisation” will be shared with other touring acts, promoters, festival organisers and venue owners to encourage and facilitate a reduction in carbon emissions across the industry.
“Every industry has varying degrees of carbon impact to address and we need partnerships like this one to look at reducing carbon emissions across the board,” comments Dr Chris Jones, a research fellow at Tyndall.
“It’s more effective to have a sustained process of emissions reductions across the sector than for individual artists to quit live performances. It will likely mean a major shift in how things are done now, involving not just the band but the rest of the business and the audience.”
“It’s more effective to have a sustained process of emissions reductions across the sector than for individual artists to quit live performances”
Last week, Coldplay announced their decision to put a pause on touring, due to environmental concerns. The 1975 and Billie Eilish are among other high-profile artists to work to reduce the carbon footprint of upcoming tours.
While Del Naja notes that stopping touring altogether is “an important option that deserves consideration”, an unrealistic number of high number acts would have to do so in order to “achieve the required impact”.
Carbon offsetting initiatives, such as planting tress, banning single-use plastic and encouraging the use of public transport, says Del Naja, are also unlikely to deliver any meaningful impact.
“Given the current polarised social atmosphere, uplifting and unifying cultural events are arguably more important now than ever, and no one would want to see them postponed or even cancelled,” says Del Naja.
“The challenge therefore is to avoid more pledges, promises and greenwashing headlines and instead embrace seismic change.”
To help reduce the environmental impact of artists’ riders, Coda Agency and A Greener Festival (AGF) launched the Green Artist Rider at the Green Events and Innovations Conference (GEI) in March. Tickets for GEI 2020 are available here.
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AGF champions eco-friendly events in South America
Live industry sustainability specialist A Greener Festival (AGF) recently teamed up with members of the Latin America music business to discuss how to reduce waste at live events.
Along with South American electronic music promoter Buenas Noches Producciones (BNP), eco-friendly organisation Bye Bye Plastic, which is run by DJ Blond:ish, and local environmental movement Voluntad Verde, AGF led an open, public discussion on how the electronic music industry can help tackle climate change and reduce waste generation – particularly plastics.
The session, which took place on 21 November in the Argentinian city of Córdoba, opened with a statement from BNP detailing the commitment of the electronic music scene to help fight climate change, via its ‘Dance and Recycle’ and ‘Respect’ campaigns. BNP also underwent a complete AGF-conducted Sustainability Assessment.
The free-to-attend event was directed towards attendees of BNP events, as the promoter looks to increase sustainability in the future.
“We are committed to leading the change in our local scene and strongly believe that consistency and continuity will get us there”
“We have been working hard to bring respect to the core of all elements of our events for years, including respect for our environment, our health, our peers, for everything,” comments Ivan Aballay, CEO and founder of Buenas Noches Producciones.
“We are committed to leading the change in our local scene and strongly believe that consistency and continuity will get us there. This powerful initiative, which brought together artists, staff and the local community, is just beginning. We have a lot more hard work ahead.”
A Greener Festival’s Claire O’Neill adds that: “So often the discussion around sustainability is about limitation and lack. What we love about this inspiring collaboration is that it amplifies and enhances our combined energy to make a positive difference beyond the dancefloor.
“If the whole music industry took actions such as these surrounding gigs, the environmental benefits would be phenomenal.”
The 1975 to plant a tree for every ticket sold
The 1975 have pledged to plant a tree for every ticket sold ahead of their upcoming UK and Ireland arena tour, as the band continue their eco-friendly drive.
Manager Jamie Oborne announced the news on Twitter: “Really pleased to say we will be planting a tree for every ticket sold!”
The pledge elicited a positive reaction from fans, with some users calling the 1975 “the best band in the world”.
The band, who this year headlined festivals including Reading and Leeds and Sziget, are embarking on a twelve-date tour in February and March 2020, playing arenas including London’s the O2 (20,000-cap.), Manchester Arena (21,000-cap.) and the SSE Hydro in Glasgow (13,000-cap.).
“Really pleased to say we will be planting a tree for every ticket sold!”
The tree-planting initiative follows the launch of the 1975’s sustainable merchandise range. “We are not making new shirts for now. Unsustainable,” the band’s frontman Matt Healy announced on Instagram. “This run is all old shirts that we had kept and reprinted.”
Fans were encouraged to bring old the 1975 shirts or those of any other bands to Reading and Leeds festivals to be reprinted with the new design.
The band also recorded a song with teenage environmental activist Greta Thunberg for their most recent album Notes on a Conditional Form, with all profits going to civil disobedience movement Extinction Rebellion.
Tickets for the 1975’s arena tour go on sale on Friday 20 September at 9 a.m. (BST), with presale tickets available from Wednesday 18 September. A full list of tour dates and information on how to buy tickets can be found here.
Dubai to host zero-carbon rock concert
Rock the World – Save the World, the “first-ever 100% environmentally sustainable rock concert”, is taking place at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium on 15 November with a capacity of 6,000.
The concert is the brainchild of biofuel company Neutral Fuels, and is produced in partnership with non-profit environmental organisation One Tree Planted and eco-clothing manufacturer DGrade.
Organisers aim to achieve net zero carbon emissions, showing that it is possible to “enjoy mind-blowing rock without contributing to climate change.”
“Ordinarily, a rock concert with its massive sound, complex lighting and special effects, emits tons of carbon into the atmosphere using energy from the national grid,” says Neutral Fuels founder and chief executive Karl Feilder.
“Rock the World – Save the Planet is different. It will achieve net zero carbon emissions by using Neutral Fuels B100 net zero biofuel to power the entire event.”
“Ordinarily, a rock concert with its massive sound, complex lighting and special effects, emits tons of carbon into the atmosphere using energy from the national grid”
A recent report revealed the use of diesel generators to power live music events in the UK alone produces over one million tons of CO2 equivalent a year.
By partnering with One Tree Planted, the Neutral Fuels team hopes to neutralise “all unavoidable carbon expended on behalf of the event”, such as flights for bands, by planting trees to absorb emissions. Fans are encouraged to use public transport to travel to the event.
DGrade will collect all plastic used at the event to convert into sustainable yarn for producing clothes and accessories.
The event will feature performances from Filipino rock band Urbandub, pop rock bands Cueshé and Razorback and Dubai rock cover band Sandstorm, featuring Neutral Fuels’ Feilder.
Tickets are priced from AED125 (US$28) and are available to buy here.
AEG pegs BST 2019 as greenest event yet
AEG Presents has introduced a series of new sustainability initiatives and community-based activities to make British Summer Time (BST) Hyde Park 2019 its most eco-friendly and inclusive yet.
BST Hyde Park returns this Friday (5 July) with an exclusive European performance from Celine Dion. Other performances over the ten-day event will come from Stevie Wonder, Barbra Streisand, Florence and the Machine and Robbie Williams.
Sustainable practices at the event include a zero waste to landfill policy, achieved through the use of biodegradable food packaging and cutlery. Heineken, BST’s drinks partner, is trialling a new plastic-free, 100% compostable paper cup. The majority of food traders (80%) will also offer meat-free options.
A post-event litter pick-up team will ensure no trace is left behind once the festival is over and a dedicated ‘Green Team’ will maximise recycling rates, introducing a new bin system to recycle previously non-recyclable plastics such as crisp packets, carrier bags and bottle caps.
Biodiesels such as hydrogenated vegetable oil (HVO) will be the fuel of choice to avoid the harmful diesel emissions produced by many live events.
Situated in the heart of London, a community impact management will be on site at BST, helping AEG to limit the effect on the local area. A four-day midweek event, Open House, will take place from Monday 8 to Thursday 11 July with movie nights, live music, street food, tennis screenings, family theatre and an ambient performance from Icelandic avant-rock band Sigur Rós.
“As a ten-day event with nearly half a million visitors each year we have a huge responsibility to deliver for our visitors, the local community and Hyde Park itself”
AEG are offering training and paid employment opportunities will be available to students at schools and universities and raising money for BST’s partner charities, including the Royal Parks charity and My Cause UK.
“We work very closely with AEG Presents to ensure our Sustainability Strategy is embedded into the British Summer Time event planning process and so we welcome the pioneering green practices being introduced this year,” says the Royal Parks head of events, Alun Mainwaring.
“As a ten-day event with nearly half a million visitors each year we have a huge responsibility to deliver for our visitors, the local community and Hyde Park itself,” comments AEG Presents senior events manager Jenny Hamada.
“We take this responsibility extremely seriously and work with our partner the Royal Parks year-round to build and implement positive initiatives.”
Another focus for the BST Hyde Park team is accessibility. AEG Presents celebrated a double win at the Outstanding Attitude Awards in March and recently receiving a gold status from Attitude is Everything for BST, the inclusivity-based music charity’s highest accolade.
Tickets for BST 2019 and more information about the festival can be found here.
Motorpoint Arena Nottingham holds greenest-ever event
Motorpoint Arena Nottingham and National Ice Centre (10,000-cap.) has celebrated its greenest event day in history, recording its lowest-ever electricity and water consumption as part of it ongoing Greener Arena campaign.
On Friday 15 March the live entertainment and sports venue successfully used less energy than on any other event day, beating its previous lowest electricity usage by 1000 kilowatt hours (kWh).
The day, named Greener Arena Day, saw team members working together to promote the venue’s eco-friendly initiatives and environmental solutions, which come under the venue’s Greener Arena umbrella campaign.
Throughout the day, the arena generated a total of 1063 kWh of electricity from solar panels.
Environmental initiatives include rooftop solar panels, a waste water system, biodegradable polystyrene cups and recycled paper. The venue also has a dedicated environmental group that looks for new ways to reduce energy consumption.
The arena has reduced its energy usage by over 20 percent over the past five years.
“We have built some real momentum engraining sustainability into the culture of our business”
In 2017, the arena became the first UK indoor entertainment and sports venue to introduce eco-friendly cups, both fully reusable and recyclable. The venue is also a zero-landfill site, with 40 percent of waste recycled and the remainder used to power the building.
During the Greener Arena Day, team members made pledges to reduce their personal carbon footprints, including taking public transport, going paperless, using reusable water bottles and cutlery and avoiding unnecessary lighting.
“We have built some real momentum engraining sustainability into the culture of our business,” comments Lee Chadburn, head of facilities at Motorpoint Arena Nottingham. “Our industry doesn’t lend itself to changing processes and systems overnight, but we are leading the way we operate environmentally compared to other arenas.
“We’re not perfect but continue to take steps towards sustainability at every opportunity,” adds Chadburn.
Examples of recent environmental initiatives across the music industry include ID&C’s eco-friendly event wristbands made from recycled plastic bottles and bamboo and Glastonbury Festival’s blanket ban on single-use plastic bottles.
Motorpoint Arena Nottingham’s environmental policy can be found here.
Eco-friendly event wristbands “big hit with fans”
UK-based provider of wristbands and lanyards, ID&C, has launched eco-friendly festival wristbands made from recycled plastic water bottles, in response to increasing demand from customers.
ID&C‘s new range of wristbands and lanyards is made from a recycled polyethylene fabric, produced from recycled plastic bottles. The eco bands come with duplicate print on both sides and a bamboo barrel lock, which is made from 50% less plastic than standard barrel locks.
As with standard event wristbands, for security reasons the recycled wristbands cannot be removed once the lock is fastened to the wrist.
According to industry estimates, roughly 23,000 tons of waste is produced at UK music festivals each year, but only a third is recycled. Festival organisers are now making increasing efforts to reduce the amount of waste produced at their events.
Plastic drinks bottles will not be on sale at this year’s Glastonbury Festival, with festivalgoers encouraged to bring reusable water bottles. The festival had already phased out plastic cutlery and plates, as well as single-use plastic cups and plastic straws.
“It is a tough challenge as our products have to be strong and secure, but we are always developing new ideas with the aim to provide a full range of alternative greener products”
An Association of Independent Festivals initiative has seen 61 festivals commit to making their events free of single-use plastic by 2021.
“Reducing the levels of plastic used across festivals and events is an ongoing challenge for any event organiser and we want to contribute to lowering the impact where we can,” says Matt Wilkey, company director and co-owner of ID&C.
“We have been continually exploring ways to become a more eco-friendly company. It is a tough challenge as our products have to be strong and secure, but we are always developing new ideas with the aim to provide a full range of alternative greener products,” adds Wilkey.
“Our ongoing initiative is to develop a range of products that are not only recycled but are also fully recyclable,” explains the ID&C director.
ID&C ensures all products are professionally tested to verify the strength of materials and their eco-friendly status.