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Liveurope welcomes first Estonian and Baltic member

European venue association Liveurope has entered the Baltic region with its first member in Estonia, Sveta Baar.

Sveta Baar is located in the cultural hub of the capital city Tallinn and has strived to become a “platform and cultural centre to support and encourage the growth of local and international live music”.

Besides the 200 concerts Sveta Baar programmes independently each year, it is also one of the venues hosting the Tallinn Music Week.

With this new addition, Liveurope now reaches 22 internationally acclaimed music venues based in 22 European countries.

“It is an honour to be joining Liveurope as we celebrate our 5th anniversary,” says Roman Demtšenko, Sveta Baar’s artistic director.

“Liveurope’s support will be crucial in helping us present an even greater diversity of up-and-coming European acts”

“Liveurope’s support will be crucial in helping us present an even greater diversity of up-and-coming European acts to our audiences in the years to come. We are also looking forward to sparking curiosity and interest from the other venues for some fantastic acts that Estonia and the Baltics have to offer.”

Established in 2014 with funding from the Creative Europe programme of the European Union, Liveurope connects top European music venues that are committed to boosting the circulation of European talent.

The platform distributes grants to music venues in proportion to the amount of young European artists they book. This model has allowed the Liveurope venues to book on average 63% more new European talent pre-Covid-19 compared to before joining the platform.

Nearly 3,000 artists have benefited from the platform’s support including now-established names such as Christine and the Queens, Rosalía and MØ.


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European arenas battle soaring energy costs

A number of European arenas have told IQ that skyrocketing energy costs are emerging as the sector’s biggest challenge since the Covid-19 pandemic.

Though many arenas are experiencing a boom time thanks to pent-up demand and rescheduled shows, venue heads are reckoning with the ballooning cost of electricity and gas amid wider inflation.

“We are facing massive price increases across all our markets, at unprecedented levels,” ASM Global’s Marie Lindqvist tells IQ. “The market is incredibly volatile and continues to increase.”

According to Lindqvist, the prices for electricity and gas at ASM venues have quadrupled since the beginning of the year, with the UK being hit the hardest.

And it’s not just the country’s larger venues that are struggling; Music Venue Trust estimates that the grassroots music venue sector is looking at a potential £90 million in new energy-related costs, equating to 26% of the entire gross turnover.

On average, the annual cost of energy per venue is set to increase by 316%, according to the charity for grassroots music venues in the UK.

“[Rising energy prices] is probably our number one challenge right now,” Lindqvist continues. “However, the cost base, in general, is a huge challenge with pressure in all key cost lines such as labour cost inflation, event costs, food costs etc.”

“We are facing massive price increases across all our markets, at unprecedented levels”

In Estonia, inflation has risen by 22% in the last year, which is particularly felt in labour and administration costs. Siim Ammon, CEO of Saku Arena (10,000) in the capital Tallinn, says gas prices are now five times higher than at the same time last year.

“This means we are forced to find alternatives or a way to lessen consumption,” Ammon tells IQ. “Sadly, this is going to hit our promoters as well.”

Lindqvist is also weary of how increasing cost pressures could impact ASM’s guests and partners and says the company is trying incredibly hard to minimise the knock-on effect.

“The actions that we have in place will ensure that we are doing all that we can to do this,” she says. “We are also in constant dialogue with our partners to try to minimise show costs, in particular energy requirements for a show.”

In the Czech Republic, it has been reported that the inflation rate (which accelerated to approximately 17.5% in July) is having an impact on consumers’ ticket-buying behaviour.

“The overall rise in prices of services, energy, food, etc. in the country has made people more sensitive to buying entertainment and pickier about which concert to go to,” says Stanislava Doubravova from the O2 Arena, the country’s key venue for international acts.

“[Rising energy prices] is probably our number one challenge right now”

AEG-owned Barclays Arena (formerly the Barclaycard Arena) in Hamburg, Germany, is among the venues that have reported a “huge” increase in energy costs. In a bid to curb prices, the 15,000-capacity arena is exploring the use of alternative sources, such as wind power and solar energy.

“Since its construction in 2009, the Barclays Arena has a greywater recycling system on the roof that collects rainwater for the sanitary system,” says VP and MD Steve Schwenkglenks, adding that the venue is reducing waste and increasing recycling across its food and beverage offers.

“We have stopped ‘All you can eat’ offers in our premium boxes, because a lot of food had to be thrown away. This doesn’t mean that every one of our lodge partners won’t get enough to eat, it’s just that we are trying to dispose of as little food as possible. At the end of 2022, we will introduce a deposit cup system in the arena.”

Much like Barclays Arena, Poland’s Spodek Arena (cap. 11,000) is attempting to bridle the energy price hike through eco-friendly solutions.

“Sadly, this is going to hit our promoters as well”

“We have introduced a system to manage and optimise the use of electricity, heat, and water; installed a smart heating and ventilation management system at the ICC, and we have also implemented special processes for monitoring the use of lighting,” says Marcin Stolarz, CEO of the Katowice-based arena.

ASM is also leaning on technology to help monitor and reduce its carbon footprint and costs. “We are able to view our consumption in real-time so track usage every day with a view to becoming as efficient as we can be,” says Lindqvist.

“We are also further investing in new technology and working closely with Greener Arena and other experts in the field to continue to move forwards in this space. Finally, we are recruiting a head of sustainability whose sole role will be to support our business to achieve our carbon reduction targets and to support our venues to be as green as they can be.”

Read more about the opportunities and challenges facing arenas worldwide in IQ Magazine‘s Global Arena Guide 2022, published this September.

The Guide features over 250 interviews from arena professionals worldwide, as well as a comprehensive global directory.


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Estonia’s Station Narva welcomes international acts

The fourth edition of city festival Station Narva took place from Thursday 5 to Saturday 7 August, welcoming international acts including British DJs Roni Size and A Guy Called Gerald, Russian hip-hop duo Aigel and Finnish singer-songwriter New Ro to Estonia’s third-largest city.

Taking place at Narva’s 13th-century Hermann Castle (which also includes Narva Museum), Station Narva 2021 was the first music festival to utilise rapid testing and Estonia’s digital Covid-19 pass to ensure all 2,297 attendees were coronavirus-free. Of those who attended, 53% of visitors came with a digital Covid certificate and 47% with a negative rapid Covid-19 test taken on site. (No positive results were found.)

The festival, organised by Tallinn Music Week promoter Shiftworks, also featured 15 Estonian artists, as well as an urban art competition, talks and debates, a technology camp, creative incubator Objekt, and tours of Narva’s dacha district, Kudruküla.

“Everyone was smiling and giving off such a positive charge”

Aigel, whose Station Narva show was their first post-pandemic concert outside Russia, say: “Everyone was smiling and giving off such a positive charge. We really didn’t expect such a warm welcome, because we had no idea whether people knew our songs here or whether they would understand us. The reception was fantastic.”

The festival’s head of community affairs, Valeria Lavrova, adds: “It was great that this year we had to do a lot less explaining about what Station Narva is. Our people already know about the festival. Personally, I discovered that at its core there are two seemingly opposite concepts: experimentation and safety.

“This festival always experiments with something that hasn’t been tried before, from venues to programme parts and performers, but at the same time it is very safe. I’m not even talking so much about health and the now-important certificates and QR codes, but more about the festival atmosphere and the extent to which the organisation has been considered. For example, while the dacha owners were a bit cautious at first, on the day of the tour they were all in high spirits and they had a great time. It was a truly heartfelt experience.”


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Estonian gov confirms €42m aid package, €6m risk fund

The Estonian government has announced a €42 million aid package for the cultural sector, which includes a €6m ‘risk fund’ for large-scale events.

The government’s decision comes after 355 organisations from across the sector submitted a joint proposal to the government, emphasising the impact culture has on the economy and the population’s mental health, and underscoring its need for financial support.

The supplementary budget includes €21m to help cultural events organisers (such as promoters) cover the costs of labour hired with contracts under the law of obligations, as well as other unavoidable costs.

The organisers of international cultural and sports events will also benefit from the separate €6m risk fund, designed to support large-scale events with a ‘significant economic impact’ in the event that they are affected by cancellations, postponements or restrictions.

“The purpose of the risk fund is to encourage organisers to plan events in the second half of 2021 in order to restart the economy”

The supplementary budget also comprises €5.3m for cinemas, film production and film distributors, €6.7m to support freelance creative persons and €2.7m for sports.

“Today is a special day. The cultural sector proved that there is great strength in cooperation and the whole sector can continue work with more confidence. It is also significant that the members of government understand that culture supports both the economy as well as our citizens’ mental health,” says Helen Sildna of Tallinn Music Week festival.

“The purpose of the risk fund is to encourage organisers to plan events in the second half of the year in order to restart the economy, yet provide confidence that their expenses will be covered in changing circumstances. The sector’s next objective is to continue working together in order for culture to have a clear part in the EU relief packages as well.”

Ave Tölpt, from the country’s music export office, Music Estonia, says: “I am very glad that the cultural sector has been highlighted in the crisis packages as a sector with a much wider impact. I believe that thanks to the representatives of the sector coming together to formulate their message, the mechanisms of the cultural sector as a whole have become much more comprehensible in general as well. The necessary aid for survival in the crisis will help retain the diversity of the music sector and the related businesses in the future with a greater sense of hope.”

“The creation of a risk fund is forward-looking…this is a significant signal for those outside of Estonia as well”

Eva Saar, from Jazzkaar jazz festival, says: “Cultural organisations have an important role in restarting the economy after the virus situation improves and also as the providers of nourishment for the spirit. The decision that the government made today gives the sector a chance to survive and carry that weighty role in the future as well.

“The creation of a risk fund for large-scale events is forward-looking and encourages organisers to bring economically and imagologically important international events to Estonia – this is a significant signal for those outside of Estonia as well. Thank you to everyone who contributed and to the policymakers.”

Estonia is the latest market to announce an event cancellation fund for events, following closely behind Denmark which announced a DKK 500m safety net earlier this week.

In the northern hemisphere, other insurance pots include Germany’s €2.5bn potAustria’s €300m ‘protective umbrella’, the Netherlands’ €300m fundBelgium’s €60m festival cancellation pot and Norway’s €34m festival safety net.


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TMW’s world

Promoting TMW 2020 was by far the most challenging experience that our team has had in our 12 years of festival history. It is fair to say that organising events with huge financial risk, at times like this, can be done only by putting your organisation under a pressure it has never been under before.

Going ahead with an event is a tough decision for any company leader to make. He or she will need to analyse and decide whether it’s reasonable or sustainable to do so, and ensure that the event not only lands on its feet but bounces back afterwards. If the experience gained can then help to promote workable measures for the music industry, it was a necessary investment.

Greatest challenges

During the summer season, not a single case of Covid was registered at professionally organised events

What we discovered

Letting our governments base their decisions on venue capacity numbers alone will bankrupt the sector

Future considerations
The events and culture sector across Europe and the rest of the world should join forces to achieve the following:

TMW 2021 will take place 6–9 May. Passes via: www.tmw.ee


Helen Sildna is founder of Tallinn Music Week.

Sell-out shows for LN Finland’s post-Covid concert series

Live Nation Finland has expanded the programme of its Suvilahti Summer concert series “due to high demand and sold-out shows”.

The series, which began on 11 June and runs until the end of the month at Helsinki’s Suvilahti energy field, was announced as the Finnish government lifted restrictions on events of up to 500 people.

Following on from sold-out shows from Finnish acts Maustetutöt, Anssi Kela and Knip, Live Nation has added additional dates from Olavi Uusivirta Duo and Jesse Marki, as well as introducing new content from the likes of the Ida Paul & Kalle Lindroth duo, rock singer Tuomari Nurmio and YouTubers Elisa Malik, Joona Hellman and Nelli Orelli.

The series of events is being carried out in accordance with current official guidelines. Tables and chairs are set for groups of two to six people, with individual parties separated from each other at a safe distance.

The full schedule of shows, along with ticketing information, can be found here.

Finland is one of a number of countries, including Denmark and the Czech Republic, to reintroduce shows of up to 500 people, with nations including Austria and Estonia allowing 500-capacity shows to return next month.


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Classical music festivals to go ahead this summer

A number of classical music festivals are taking place in Europe this summer, as organisers find ways to work with social distancing requirements.

Austria’s Salzburg Festival and Grafenegg Festival are going ahead in August, with capacity reductions, checkerboard seating plans, sanitary regulations and testing systems in place.

Salzburg Festival, originally scheduled to start on 18 July, will now kick off on 1 August, when audiences of 1,250 will be permitted at outdoor events in Austria, and run to the end of the month. The programme, initially comprising 212 performances, will be scaled down to 90.

Capacity will be also be pared back at 50%, with the 1,500-seat Haus für Mozart capped at 800 and a maximum of around 700 tickets sold for the 1,400-seat Felsenreitschule. The festival had sold 180,000 of its total 230,000 tickets prior to lockdown restrictions, and is now limiting seats to around 70,000.

Only those who already bought tickets can still attend and there will be a limit of two tickets per person. Names of ticketholders will be printed on the tickets to enable contact tracing.

Near to Vienna, the Grafenegg Festival will start on 14 August in the grounds of the 32-acre Grafenegg castle.

A number of classical music festivals are taking place in Europe this summer, as organisers find ways to work with social distancing requirements

Organisers of the event released an updated programme on 3 June, consisting of predominantly domestic acts. Tickets are limited to two per person, per event and all attendees will be required to wear masks when not seated and keep “sufficient distance” from other guests.

In neighbouring Italy, where live shows are returning next week, large classical music event the Ravenna Festival is taking place from 21 June to 30 July in the towns of Cervia and Lugo, with the main stage at the open-air Brancaleone fortress in Ravenna itself.

Tickets, which go on sale on 11 June, will be limited to two per person. Capacity will be set at 300 for the events in the fortress and at a specially erected arena in Cervia, with the Pavaglione in Lugo holding up to 500 people. Much of the programme will also be streamed live online.

Those who purchased tickets before the suspension of sales and the announcement of the new program can obtain a refund by voucher, as per Italian legislation.

Opera festivals in Rossini, Torre del Lago, Martina Franca and Macerata have also adjusted their programmes in order to go ahead this summer.

In Estonia, where open-air shows of up to 1,000 spectators and indoor concerts of 500 can take place next month, Pärnu Music Festival is taking place from 16 to 23 July for audiences of 300. More details on the programme and running of the event will become available later this week.


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Refunds may lead to mass bankruptcies, warn EE promoters

The absence of a scheme to protect the concert industry from the financial impact of issuing refunds en masse could leave to a wave of insolvencies, leading Estonian promoters have warned.

In many countries in Europe, including Germany, Portugal and Italy, concert organisers are being allowed to offer ticket vouchers (ie credit) in lieu of cash refunds for cancelled events, while others, including Estonia’s Baltic neighbours, have extended the window in which refunds must be given (typically a year).

“In other countries, such as Latvia and Lithuania, solutions have been found,” says Live Nation Estonia’s Mart Eensalu, “and longer periods for the repurchase [refund] of tickets have been granted. But it hasn’t been done here.”

Estonia – which, along with most Europe, put the brakes on live events in March – ended its state of emergency and began easing coronavirus lockdown restrictions on 17 May, with shows of up to 1,000 people permitted from 1 July.

That 1,000-capacity limit (or 500 for indoor shows), of course, precludes major live music events, such as Rammstein’s highly anticipated performance in Tallinn, originally scheduled for July – for which 62,000 people will now be asking Live Nation for refunds, writes the Baltic Times.

“We are effectively jobless, but we must keep our offices open”

Tanel Samm, of promoter Monster Music, says the Estonian government is not taking concert professionals’ concerns seriously. “The money entrusted to us by customers who have bought tickets does not belong to us if the event has not taken place,” he tells the paper. “We are effectively jobless, but we must keep our offices open to bring the rescheduled events to people next year.”

Samm says authorities must “finally enter into a dialogue with us” in order to ensure the survival of much of Estonia’s live music industry.

That long-overdue help may finally be coming in the form of culture minister Tonis Lukas, who recently met with promoters to discuss a way forward for the sector, Postimees reports.

Lukas urges both concertgoers and Estonia’s consumer watchdog, the Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority, to be patient with concert promoters. “My call […] is for us to be prepared to give concert organisers just over a year to return the money,” he says, “because when a concert is postponed by a year, organisers will be able to return to a normal cash flow then and then pay refunds.”

According to the Baltic Times, current Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority guidelines say customers should receive refunds for cancelled events within a month.


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Estonia exits lockdown, events given go-ahead for July

Estonia ended its state of emergency on Sunday evening (17 May), signalling a gradual lifting of lockdown restrictions in the countries, with live events of up to 1,000 people set to return in July.

“The reasonable and responsible behaviour of our people makes it possible to end the emergency situation in Estonia this week. Our joint effort has allowed us to return to a more regular life,” says prime minister Jüri Ratas.

As part of the government’s lockdown easing plan, public drive-in events were allowed to resume from Friday (15 May), with sports events permitted to take place behind closed doors – a format now being tested by some in the live music world – from Monday.

Open-air events of up to 1,000 people will make a return in July, along with indoor shows of up to 500 attendees in venues operating at 50% of full capacity. No public events are permitted to take place in May and June.

The measures are similar to those recently revealed in Italy, where outdoor concerts of 1,000 people and covered shows of 200 will be permitted from mid-June.

“It’s essential to inject optimism to artists, the whole sector and our audience”

The regulations mean that showcase festival and industry conference Tallinn Music Week (TMW) can go ahead from 26 to 30 August. The event had previously been scheduled for the end of March but, like many other industry conferences worldwide, was forced to change its plans due to the coronavirus outbreak.

According to TMW director Helen Sildna, the festival programme can be “conveniently adjusted” to fit the regulations.

“This season will give the entire cultural and events sector an opportunity to be smart and responsible, and to prove that we are able to provide value and new quality even in challenging circumstances,” says Sildna. “It’s essential to inject optimism to artists, the whole sector and our audience.”

Tickets for TMW festival and conference are available here.


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17k Finnish fans to travel to Estonia for Rammstein

Over 17,000 fans will travel from Finland to Estonia in July to see Rammstein performance at Tallinn’s Song Festival Grounds on 21 July 2020.

The sold-out concert, part of the second leg of the band’s European Stadium Tour, will see Rammstein play to more than 60,000 fans. Two thirds of concertgoers will travel from outside of Estonia to attend the show, with representatives from over 60 different countries.

The Live Nation-promoted concert will be the largest outdoor show in Tallinn since Madonna’s 2009 appearance in the Estonian capital.

Kicking off in May 2020 at the Wörthersee Stadion in Klagenfurt, Austria, the second leg of Rammstein’s European tour will visit Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Great Britain, the Netherlands, France, Italy, Poland, Norway and Sweden, before wrapping up at Ceres Park in Aarhus, Denmark, on 4 August.

The first leg of the tour saw the band play 30 concerts in 24 cities across countries including Spain, Czech Republic, Luxembourg, Russia and Latvia, as well as multiple nations that will be revisited in 2020.

Tickets for the stadium tour – the band’s first ever – broke records for ticketing partner CTS Eventim, selling more than 800,000 tickets in a single on sale.

The tour has been commended for its “fireworks, massive pyrotechnics and overwhelming smoke effects”, with German newspaper Nordkurier writing the band were “shaking European stadiums” with their live shows.


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