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Strong bounceback for Danish concert business

The Danish concert business has bounced back to near pre-pandemic attendance levels according to newly released figures, but several venues say they have suffered a drop in ticket sales.

The latest publication by Statistics Denmark reveals the number of concertgoers reached 7.4 million in 2022 – close to the 7.5m and 8.2m reported in 2018 and 2019, respectively. The total had dipped to 2.8m in the Covid-ravaged years of 2020 and 2021, according to data registered with national collection society KODA.

While trade body Dansk Live welcomes the positive momentum, it notes that several of its members have reported a downturn in ticket sales, with the situation remaining unchanged as of spring 2023.

“It bodes very well for the future in the live sector and shows that we have come back well after a few years which hit the organisers hard”

“It is very good news that the figures for 2022 are so positive,” says Dansk Live director Esben Marcher. “It bodes very well for the future in the live sector and shows that we have come back well after a few years which hit the organisers hard. However, we must not forget that there are still venues that experienced challenges in ticket sales as recently as spring 2023.”

In 2019, Denmark’s regional venues had 700,000 fans for 4,600 concerts, compared to 530,000 guests at 3,900 gigs last year. The same trend applied to the country’s other venues, where there were 850,000 concertgoers at 6,900 shows in 2019, which fell to 630,000 guests at 4,400 concerts in 2022.

The country’s music festivals fared better, however, attracting 1.3m guests in 2022, up slightly from 1.2m in the last pre-pandemic year.

“We hope that the concertgoers really return to the places that have experienced the number of visitors as sluggish”

“We hope that the concertgoers really return to the places that have experienced the number of visitors as sluggish, and that they too can again reach the same level as before corona,” adds Marcher. “In any case, we will follow developments closely.”

A previous Statistics Denmark study indicated the number of young people attending concerts in the country has increased significantly on pre-pandemic levels. The Culture Habit Survey showed that one in four of the population attended a gig in the second quarter of 2022, with 38% coming from the youngest age group (16-24 years) – up from 25% in 2019.

 


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Dansk Live launches climate calculator

Danish trade body Danish Live is launching a climate calculator to help event organisers reduce their environmental footprint.

The innovation allows users to make calculations in the areas of waste, water, transport and energy, measuring consumption and optimising potential solutions from year-to-year.

“There are now many different climate calculators out there, but they are often very complicated or based on international emission factors,” says Søren Stochholm of developer World Perfect. “Dansk Live’s climate calculator is made very simple, and it is based on the Danish emission factors. This means that it is much easier for the smaller players to start measuring, and that the results are more accurate.

“Over time, the climate calculator can of course be developed so that it will give an even more accurate picture, but for now it is a bid for a common and simple way to learn more about the industry’s total CO2 footprint.”

“This calculator, which can be used freely by members of Dansk Live, makes it easy to get started with the absolutely necessary work”

Stochholm ran a webinar for Dansk Live members last week, giving an introduction on how to use the climate calculator.

“Several larger organisers in the membership have developed their own monitoring methods, but not everyone has the opportunity to have their own made or has the resources to acquire one,” says Esben Marcher, head of secretariat at Dansk Live. “This calculator, which can be used freely by members of Dansk Live, makes it easy to get started with the absolutely necessary work. The calculator is targeted at all types of organisers and can also be used by the venues.

“Now the organisers have to start using the calculator, but it could be exciting if we could create an overview of the industry’s overall climate impact in the various areas and the potential for improvements across the industry.”

 


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Young concertgoers on the rise in Denmark

The number of young people attending concerts in Denmark has increased significantly on pre-pandemic levels according to a new study.

Statistics Denmark’s latest Culture Habit Survey shows that one in four of the population attended a gig in the second quarter of 2022, with 38% coming from the youngest age group (16-24 years) – up from 25% in 2019.

Esben Marcher, head of secretariat at trade body Dansk Live, says the development bodes well for the future of the live music business.

“The youngest concertgoers are the audience that helps to ensure that we develop as organisers,” he says. “That the young people, after several years largely without concerts and live music, are so strongly represented among the audience at festivals and at concerts, bodes extremely well for the future of live music.

“The figures from Statistics Denmark confirm that the desire for concerts and festivals is there”

“There has generally been a lot of talk about the youngest group of concertgoers during and after corona. Both the cultural actors themselves, but also the media, have discussed whether young people want to go to concerts after corona, and whether they can even figure it out.

“The festival season has shown us that young people know how to behave, and the figures from Statistics Denmark confirm that the desire for concerts and festivals is there. Overall, it’s really good news.”

The only age group with lower consumption was the 45-54-year-old category, which fell four percentage points compared to the same three-month period in 2019. However, Marcher stresses the positive numbers are not necessarily a sign that all is well in the industry.

“Many venues are currently experiencing that ticket sales are lower than before corona and that audiences are buying their tickets very late,” he says. “The picture is very mixed, but the tendency at many venues is that the big and well-known names can sell tickets well, but that the audience commits very late, while concerts with the new and slightly smaller names do not have the same search as before corona.”

 


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Dansk Live chair Lars Månsson Sloth steps down

Dansk Live is on the lookout for a new chair following the resignation of longtime board member Lars Månsson Sloth.

Sloth, who has also stepped down from his position at music organisation Gimle, joined the board at the Danish trade body in 2012 and has served as chair since 2018.

“Lars has been of great importance to the association’s development in recent years, and his routine and his friendly and calm disposition will be missed,” it says a statement.

“Lars was a great support to the secretariat’s work”

Esben Marcher, head of secretariat at Dansk Live, credits Sloth for his crisis management work during the pandemic.

“The dialogue between the board and the secretariat of Dansk Live is very close, and my collaboration has been particularly close with Lars,” says Marcher. “Lars has helped to move Dansk Live as an association – both organisationally and politically.

“Lars was a great support to the secretariat’s work, not least during the corona crisis, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank him many times for the cooperation”

Deputy chair Søren Eskildsen will take over temporarily until a permanent replacement is found.

 


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Danish festivals report strong resurgence

Ticket sales for many festivals in Denmark this summer are on a par with pre-Covid levels, according to promoters.

Events including Roskilde Festival, Smukfest and Copenhell are already sold out, with a number of others reporting near sell-outs.

Dansk Live adds that ticket sales are also booming at Northside and Tinderbox, with both on course to break their previous records.

“In terms of sales, both festivals are going great,” says Pernille Høll, head of marketing at Down the Drain, which runs the two festivals. “Northside gets its second or best year in history. Tinderbox gets its best.”

“It is extremely nice to see that the audience is once again looking for the community around live music”

Elsewhere, Jelling Music Festival is also on track for an impressive comeback.

“We can clearly see that people are really looking forward to getting on the grass again,” says co-founder and manager Lars Charlie Mortensen. “We see this clearly in ticket sales. People buy all kinds of tickets at the moment – both day tickets and for the whole festival, and we expect to get a full house.”

Dansk Live’s head of secretariat Esben Marcher is delighted with how the market is rebounding.

“We can only interpret the high sales figures as meaning that the audience still loves live music,” he says. “After some hard years for all live organisers, it is extremely nice to see that the audience is once again looking for the community around live music.”

“It is unfortunately no surprise that the younger target groups are not yet fully involved”

While Nibe Festival manager Peter Møller Madsen reports similarly strong sales, he observes that teenagers have been slower to buy tickets than in the pre-pandemic era – a trend he attributes to the two-year break.

“They have not inherited the tradition,” he says. “However, we believe that they will probably come, so we are very confident.”

Marcher adds: “Although overall ticket sales at the Danish festivals are doing well, it is unfortunately no surprise that the younger target groups are not yet fully involved. We have been without the great festival experiences for two years, and thus there are two new vintages who have not yet been to a festival, and thus may not be so eager to get tickets. However, that trend will hopefully improve over time.”

 


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Dansk Live survey highlights Covid talent drain

A new report by Dansk Live highlights the exodus of backstage talent from the concert industry as a result of the pandemic.

The Danish trade association surveyed the country’s concert and festival organisers during February and March 2022, with 17.2% reporting they have fewer employees today than in 2019.

Dansk Live says a large number of roles have not been re-occupied since the business returned from the coronavirus shutdown, emphasising there is still work to be done to return the domestic sector to full-strength.

The findings are in line with a trend seen across the international live music industry, with a UNESCO study showing that 10 million jobs had been lost across the international cultural industry during Covid-19.

“The consequences of the pandemic are long-lasting”

“Unfortunately, the survey confirms the trend we have also seen with our international colleagues, namely that there are fewer employees in the live industry now than before corona,” says Esben Marcher, head of secretariat at Dansk Live. “The consequences of the pandemic are long-lasting, and this decline is unfortunately a good example of this.”

Last month, Denmark became the first country in the EU to lift all coronavirus measures. But the organisation warned reopening was “not a silver bullet” as promoters still faced major challenges.

Marcher, who has also warned of low confidence among organisers and suppliers and says it will take time for the “natural caution” to disappear, is echoing UNESCO’s calls for political support to aid the industry’s restart.

“It emphasises that there is still a need for the political side to focus on restarting the music and culture sector, so that, among other things, the live industry can get back on its feet after the corona,” he says.

 


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Denmark: ‘Reopening is not a silver bullet’

Denmark’s live association Dansk Live says that the live industry continues to be challenged despite reopening.

On 5 February, Denmark became the first country in the EU to lift all coronavirus measures but Dansk Live warns that concert organisers are still facing major challenges.

“Although the majority of the country’s organisers have survived the crisis, the challenges are clear in many places,” says head of secretariat Esben Marcher.

“Not only has the audience not yet fully returned to the concerts. Many places are challenged on the crucial voluntary commitment, and also the prices of things like materials which are sky-high.”

“These organisers are now in a situation where there is no room for manoeuvre to make the necessary investments”

He continues: “The crisis has been both deep and long and despite compensation schemes and various pools, many have had to dig deep into savings, take out loans, etc. These organisers are now in a situation where there is no room for manoeuvre to make the necessary investments in organisation and facilities. At worst, it could hit them hard in the time to come.”

Marcher also warns of low confidence among organisers and suppliers and says it will take time for the “natural caution” to disappear.

“Internally in the industry, the crisis has left deep traces,” he says. “The dialogue between organisers and suppliers of all kinds takes place in many places in clear memory of the time we have been through. Confidence that the planned will be implemented must be rebuilt, and there is a natural caution that will probably only disappear when we have completed festivals and more concerts again.”

The head of secretariat is now proposing that the government create a new recovery pool for organisers who have been hit particularly hard by the crisis.

 


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Denmark to lift all restrictions on 1 February

Denmark has announced plans to lift all remaining coronavirus limits on 1 February.

The country will no longer categorise Covid-19 as a “socially critical” illness, despite a recent surge in infections, wrote health minister Magnus Heunicke in a letter to the Danish parliament’s epidemiology committee.

The move, which will allow concerts and other events to go ahead without capacity restrictions, has been hailed as “unbelievably positive” by trade association Dansk Live.

“It’s unbelievably positive,” head of secretariat Esben Marcher tells Ekstra Bladet. “This means that the venues can once again do standing concerts. So now it is approaching that you can do things as you usually do. And we are of course happy about that.”

“There will be a focus on how we can revive volunteering after almost three years with corona”

However, Marcher stresses the sector will require financial assistance to help its get back on its feet and help fund courses for volunteers, with many venues and festivals dependent on volunteering to survive. The issue was raised during the

Speaking ahead of last weekend’s members forum, Kamilla Roed, head of volunteers and operations at Copenhell heavy metal festival, said: “There will of course be a focus on how we can revive volunteering after almost three years with corona. Whether it is a venue or a festival, there have been shutdowns and major changes. We need to share good experiences and ideas with each other so we all get back to our full potential.”

The news comes a day after several European markets eased restrictions. The Dutch government announced the conditional reopening of the cultural sector and the Norwegian government also rolled back restrictions and increased capacity limits for events, while Northern Ireland also announced a relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions

 


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Danish promoters call for clarity on restrictions

Concert organisers in Denmark are calling for clarity over Covid measures, with current restrictions due to expire on 16 January.

In a bid to combat the spike in omicron cases, music venues and other indoor cultural institutions were ordered to close their doors on 19 December.

Despite the Danish parliament quickly reopening compensation schemes for event organisers, smaller venues and artists, the sector is growing increasingly frustrated at the lack of guidance from the authorities about what happens next.

Esben Marcher, head of secretariat at national live music association Dansk Live, says clarification is crucial for venues and promoters going forward.

In many places, the drop in ticket sales has been quite marked

“Unfortunately, organisers have been in a similar situation in the past, and we know that preparation is crucial in the dialogue with guests, suppliers and performing artists,” he says.

“We hope and believe that we will return to normal after the current restrictions, but everyone should have the opportunity to prepare for what happens if the infection situation does not allow a phasing out of the restrictions.”

Marcher suggests the continued uncertainty was having a detrimental effect on ticket sales.

“Several venues have found that the public is reluctant to buy tickets for concerts that are set to take place on the other side of the restrictions,” he notes. “The picture is very different across the country, but in many places the drop in ticket sales has been quite marked. And it only gets worse with the current situation.

“Overall, this calls for the need for a recovery effort to be taken very seriously from a political point of view.”

Denmark’s music industry lost over 3 billion krone (€403m) in revenue in 2020 according to a new report commissioned by Dansk Live and the Danish Chamber of Commerce, among others.

 


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Denmark drops all Covid-19 restrictions for live music

Denmark’s live industry is on the road to recovery after the government yesterday (1 September) dropped all remaining Covid-19 restrictions.

The requirements that have now lapsed include Corona pass requirements for indoor cultural and sporting events with more than 500 standing spectators, and for outdoor cultural and sporting events with more than 2,000 seated spectators. Social distancing has also been scrapped.

Corona passes will be required to gain entry to nightclubs until 10 September, after which point the government will no longer categorise Covid-19 as a “socially critical disease” or legally impose any Covid-19 restrictions.

“It is gratifying that restrictions are a thing of the past for the country’s concert organisers,” says Esben Marcher of Dansk Live – Denmark’s live music association.

“Now that corona is no longer considered a socially critical disease, we are facing a time of great reconstruction work. The organisers must find a foothold after almost two years of complete or partial closure and this is where our focus will be in the coming time.”

“The organisers must find a foothold after almost two years of complete or partial closure”

Minister for culture, Ane Halsboe Jørgensen, adds: “I am simply so happy that the cultural and sports life today can more or less say goodbye to the corona. For a long time, great demands have been made on culture to keep track of the pandemic.

“It has been necessary, but I am very pleased that we can now seriously begin a new chapter with a hopefully really good autumn for our cultural life.”

Denmark is the EU’s third-most vaccinated country, according to Our World in Data, with 71% of the population having received two shots.

The country was one of Europe’s first to impose a partial lockdown in March 2020 and one of the earliest to begin reopening, launching its Corona pass on 21 April this year.

Since that date, Dnanish restaurants, bars, cinemas, gyms, sports stadiums and hairdressing salons have been open for anyone who can prove that they are fully vaccinated, have a negative test result less than 72 hours old or contracted Covid within the past two to 12 weeks.

 


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